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Massive power outage hits New York City

 
Broadway cast entertains fans during NYC blackout
A massive power outage hit New York City, leaving more than 50,000 customers without electricity, a majority of them in Midtown Manhattan and the Upper West Side.
 
According to power service company Con Edison, the outage hit the city at 8.30 p.m. on Saturday.
 
The impacted area stretched from 40th Street in the south to 72nd Street in the north, and from Fifth Avenue to the Hudson River.
 
Many of the famous Times Square billboards went black as a result. 
 
Local media reported that all restaurants have gone dark in Hell's Kitchen. There are also no working street lights in the affected sections of the city.
 
The city's subway system was also affected to a great extent as four stations were without power and closed to public.
 
Signals on the Sixth Avenue and Eighth Avenue were affected, thus disrupting services of D, F, M, A, C, E lines, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) said on Twitter. 
 
It added that there is only limited service on the numbered lines.
 
"Our entire system is affected by the Con Edison outage. In Manhattan, the bus is your best bet," MTA tweeted.
 
Several Broadway and off-Broadway shows said they have cancelled performances, including the well-known Dear Evan Hansen, Wicked, Waitress, and Mean Girls.
 
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that NYC Emergency Management is working with the police and fire departments and other city agencies to respond to power outages due to a manhole fire. 
 
IANS
 

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Indo-Pak civil society-led dialogue held in Islamabad, first after Pulwama

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Improving cross-border connectivity and trade, people-to-people exchanges and educational collaboration were among the subjects discussed at the two-day civil society-led Track-II dialogue between India and Pakistan in Islamabad, the first such initiative after the Pulwama terror attack that soured relations between the two neighbouring countries.
 
The dialogue, titled 'Beyond Politics and Polemics New Beginning on a Difficult Trail', has been convened by the Islamabad-based Regional Peace Institute (RPI).
 
According to media reports, six delegates from India are participating in the dialogue that concludes on Saturday.
 
"There is no official-level representation from India. It is a purely a civil society-led initiative," a source told IANS here.
 
Raoof Hasan, founder of the Regional Peace Institute, was quoted as saying: "Track-II diplomacy is the first step to improve relations between the governments of both the countries," and added that the main objective of the talks was to bring the youth of the two countries towards peace.
 
Hasan also tweeted: "Here we are finally trying to untangle the tricky knot! It is always the scent of possibilities that sustains my hope for the future. Let's do a toast to a tomorrow of peace and reconciliation."
 
Pakistan's Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Andleeb Abbas, addressing the talk on Saturday, stressed on greater people to people contacts between the two neighbours to normalise the bilateral relationship.
 
Abbasi said the 770 million youth on both sides of the border are a "ray of hope" and by bringing them together a paradigm shift can be brought in the bilateral relationship between the two countries.
 
She also said that great trade potential exists between the two nations which needs to be explored.
 
Abbasi said that Prime Minister Imran Khan has consistently been giving the message of peace to India, adding that war is not a solution to any problem and conflicts can only be resolved through peace and negotiations.
 
The second round of the dialogue will be held in New Delhi in September this year.
 
The theme of the first session was 'With young leading the charge -- discovering new paths for reconciliation & progress', while the second session was on 'Moving to overcome challenges -- formulating a vision of the future'.
 
Another session was themed 'Commonality of stakes -- Connectivity as the gateway to development.'
 
Pakistan Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood is slated to address the participants of the dialogue later on Saturday, media reports said.
 
The dialogue comes ahead of a meeting on Sunday between the officials of both sides at Wagah on the Kartarpur corridor.
 
IANS
 

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Dubai to offer free 30-day alcohol licence for tourists

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Dubai, one of the seven emirates in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is offering a free 30-day alcohol licence for tourists which will ensure that they will not be breaking local laws if they consume liquor during their visit to the city.
 
Alcohol retail outlet Maritime and Mercantile International (MMI), a subsidiary of the Emirates Group, has a separate section on its website with instructions for tourists on the process of applying for the licence, the English-language Khaleej Times said.
 
The free alcohol tourist licence is valid only for visitors who are non-Muslim and 21 years and over, the newspaper said.
 
Tourists are instructed to visit any MMI store with their original passports and complete and sign a form confirming that the buyer is a tourist.  Furthermore, the store will take a copy of the passport as well as the entry stamp and each visitor will be issued guidelines about responsible behaviour in Dubai.
 
"Please ensure that you read this to ensure you are respectful of the country, its rules and its people that you are visiting." The tourist code of conduct includes a list of five instructions, including no consumption in public places, no drinking and driving and do not be intoxicated in public places.
 
Presently, Dubai resident visa holders are eligible for a two-year licence that allows them to buy alcohol from shops and store it at home. Also, anyone drinking in the city's bars and restaurants should technically have a licence, though they do not usually ask to see one, the report added.
 
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Arianespace's Vega mission, carrying UAE's FalconEyeI satellite, fails

European commercial satellite launch company Arianespace today said that its Vega mission, Flight VV15, carrying the UAE's FalconEye1 satellite, had failed today.
 
"Approximately two minutes after the Vega launcher’s liftoff from the spaceport in French Guiana, a launcher anomaly occurred shortly after ignition of the Zefiro 23 second stage – leading to the premature end of the mission," a press release from Arianespace said.
 
"Data analyses are in progress to clarify the reasons for this failure. An independent inquiry commission will be set up in the coming hours," the release added.
 
The flight had taken off from Kourou in French Guiana at 10:53 pm (local time) on Wednesday (5:53 am UAE time and 7:23 am IST).
 
The flight was due to last 57 minutes from liftoff to separation of the FalconEye1 high-performance optical Earth observation satellite, which was to be placed into a Sun-synchronous orbit.
 
FalconEye1 was meant to be the first of two spacecraft in the UAE's FalconEye satellite system, which is for two primary purposes: supporting the country's needs of its armed forces and supplying the commercial market with imagery.
 
The satellite was produced by Airbus Defence and Space as prime contractor and Thales Alenia Space as co-prime contractor.
 
Earlier, the launch of the satellite was postponed twice, on July 5 and July 7 (French Guiana time) because of continuing adverse weather conditions, including high-altitude winds above the spaceport.
 
The follow-on FalconEye2 spacecraft, also manufactured by the Airbus Defence and Space/Thales Alenia Space teaming, was scheduled to be orbited before the end of 2019 on a separate Vega mission.
 
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Two military training planes collide in Qatar

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Two Qatari military training aircraft collided in mid-air, but the pilots managed to eject safely, the Qatari defence ministry said on Wednesday.
 
"A collision occurred between two training planes and the pilots were able to safely get out by using the ejection seat," the ministry said on its Twitter account.
 
The ministry did not say when the collision took place or identify the types of the aircraft involved in the accident.
 
The US Air Force Central Command on Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar said they were not asked for support after the collision, according to media reports.
 
IANS

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7.1-magnitude earthquake hits southern California

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A massive earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale jolted southern California, just a day after a 6.4-magnitude temblor hit the US state, the strongest in 20 years.
 
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the epicenter of the quake that hit the state at 8.19 p.m. on Friday was near Ridgercrest, a city located 272 km north of Los Angeles, Xinhua news agency reported. 
 
Thursday's quake jolted a remote area in California's Searles Valley. It produced more than 1,400 aftershocks, scientists said.
 
IANS

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UAE to give free SIM cards to all tourists

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Tourists arriving in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will receive free mobile phone SIM cards with free data, international calling minutes and text messages, authorities said here.
 
The free tourist friendly SIM cards will be valid for a month and they will get automatically renewed if the tourist extends their visa, the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship announced.
 
The agreement between the authority and TeleKomNow was signed at the authority's headquarters in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday by Colonel Khamees Al Kaabi, executive director for Musanada Services at the authority and Charbel Fawaz Litany, chairman and CEO of TeleKomNow, reports Gulf News.
 
"Tourists will get the SIM card from the passport control officer on arrival as a gift," Litany told Gulf News on Thursday. "It will contain data and talk time, which they can recharge anywhere in the country."
 
Etisalat and du will be the service providers for the new facility to tourists and the services will remain the same throughout the year, Litany added. 
 
"It will be valid as long as the tourist stays in the country, and upon the extension of their visa the card will automatically get validated until the expiry of the visa.
 
"Tourists don't need to do anything and no documentation is required to obtain the card," he added.
 
Handed out at immigration, once the tourist inserts the card and enters their identification and arrival dates their service will be immediately activated and within two minutes the tourist can use the facility.
 
The initiative is the first of its kind in the world. 
 
IANS

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Now do shopping at Dubai Duty Free in Indian rupee

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In a relief for thousands of passengers, Dubai Duty Free has begun accepting the Indian currency for financial transactions.
 
The Indian rupee, that become the 16th foreign currency to be accepted at Dubai Duty Free, will be accepted at all point of sales (POS) in Terminal 3, Terminal 1, Terminal 2 of Dubai International Airport and in Al Maktoum International Airport, reports Khaleej Times.
 
The change, however, will be handed over in UAE dirhams.
 
"At present, the following denominations are being accepted: 100s, 200s, 500s (only the new one as earlier one is out of circulation) and 2000's," Duty Free officials said in a statement.
 
"When paying Indian rupee, the change will be in UAE dirham. 
 
"Only US Dollar, Euro and Sterling Pound are being exchanged in the same currency," the statement added. 
 
The decision has already been implemented from July 1.
 
Indian passengers accounted for 18 per cent of the sales at Dubai Duty Free in 2019 that recorded $2.015 billion in total sales.
 
IANS
 

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Lee Iacocca, father of Ford Mustang, dies

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Lee Iacocca, the car industry legend who created the iconic Ford Mustang and also saved Chrysler from bankruptcy, has died at the age of 94.
 
He died at his home in Los Angeles from complications from Parkinson's disease, the BBC reported.
 
Iacocca is also remembered for his appearances in Chrysler ads in the US, pointing at viewers and telling them: "If you find a better car, buy it!"
 
In a statement, the company said it was "saddened" by the news of his death.
 
"He played a historic role in steering Chrysler through crisis and making it a true competitive force. He was one of the great leaders of our company and the auto industry as a whole," the firm, which is now known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), said.
 
"Lee gave us a mindset that still drives us today - one that is characterised by hard work, dedication and grit."
 
Born to Italian immigrant parents in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1924, Iacocca began his career as an engineer at the Ford Motor Company in 1946, before moving into sales.
 
He had a natural flair for marketing, and his first campaign in the mid-1950s caught the eye of the company's executives. Shortly afterwards, he was relocated to its headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.
 
In 1964, he cemented his place in history by designing and launching the Ford Mustang, which sold 4,19,000 units in its first year and would later become known as one of America's most iconic cars.
 
However, he was fired by the company in 1978 after being accused of plotting to oust Chairman Henry Ford II and take over his position.
 
But a year later, in 1979, Iacocca took over Chrysler Corporation. The company was on the verge of collapse, and so he led it through a strict restructuring process that included taking $1.5 billion in federally guaranteed loans. Iacocca famously accepted a salary of just $1 a year while the company was recovering.
 
It eventually paid off. In 1983, he announced with pride that they were repaying the government loans seven years early.
 
But the sheen started to fade at the end of the decade, when the company once again took a downturn, and thousands of workers were laid off. When it became profitable again in 1992, Iacocca left the firm.
 
Iacocca was married three times. His first wife, Mary, died of diabetes in 1983 - something that prompted him to open a family foundation to fight the condition.
 
IANS
 

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5 Pakistani soldiers killed in blast near LoC: Army

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Five Pakistani Army soldiers were killed and another injured in an explosion near the Line of Control (LoC) on Wednesday, the country's Army said.
 
The nature of the incident that took place in Chamb sector was being investigated, Pakistan armed forces' media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement cited by local media.
 
It claimed that the incident was "an evidence of state-sponsored terrorism".
 
The ISPR identified the dead as Subedar Muhammad Sadiq, Sepoy Muhammamd Tayyab, Naik Sher Zaman, Sepoy Zohaib and Sepoy Ghulam Qasim.
 
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40 migrants killed in air strike in Libya

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At least 40 migrants were killed and more than 80 injured in an alleged air strike by forces loyal to Marshal Khalifa Haftar that hit a detention centre in Libya's capital, a source within the UN-backed government said on Wednesday.
 
According to the source, the attack was carried out overnight by F-16 fighter-bombers taking part in Haftar's military advance toward Tripoli, reported Efe news.
 
"The relief teams are working at the site of the attack. There are dozens of victims," a spokesman for the 'Volcano of Rage' operation launched by the so-called Government of National Accord to beat back Haftar's onslaught on the capital region told Efe.
 
Haftar, a strongman declaring himself Libya's supreme leader, encircled Tripoli on April 4 with the apparent aim of sending a clear message to the international community that his primary objective was to sabotage the current peace plan in place.
 
Since then, constant fighting has been taking place in the rural areas of southern Tripoli. The clashes have killed nearly 600 people, injured more than 5,000 and forced more than 30,000 families to leave their homes and become displaced.
 
The armed clashes have also severely affected thousands of migrants, mostly sub-Saharan Africans, who are in the vicinity of the capital waiting to attempt to illegally migrate to Europe or who are being held in detention centres after failing to do so.
 
According to several GNA officials, Haftar has intensified bombing in response to the loss several days ago of the town of Gharyan, located some 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Tripoli and the base that his troops used for the siege of the capital.
 
Libya is a failed state that was thrust into chaos and civil war after NATO helped various rebel groups overthrow the long dictatorship of Col. Muammar al-Gaddafi.
 
Since 2015 it has had two competing governments, one supported by the UN in Tripoli, which barely controls the capital and some small towns in the west of the country, and the other led by Haftar, who controls the rest of the vast territory and most of the oil resources.
 
IANS
 

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Mallya gets reprieve from UK HC, can appeal extradition ruling

Vijay Mallya
Vijay Mallya
The UK High Court on Tuesday allowed Indian business tycoon Vijay Mallya, charged with fraud and money-laundering back home, to appeal against his extradition to India, local media reported.
 
Mallya, whose extradition order had been upheld by the Westminister Magistrates' Court last year and his appeal against it rejected earlier this year, had moved the High Court in a last-ditch bid to stop being sent to India. 
 
According to the reports, had his appeal failed, he would have been on his way back home shortly. 
 
In the hearing on Tuesday, his lawyer Clare Montgomery argued that Mallya was being targeted on political considerations and had been "deliberately set up as a lightning rod of public anger at India's bad debt". It was unlikely he would get a fair trial in these circumstances, she added.
 
She also argued that Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot, who had cleared Mallya's extradition last year, had made "very serious errors of fact and law".
 
The 63-year-old Mallya, chairman of now defunct Kingfisher Airlines, left India on March 2, 2016 after defaulting on loans amounting to Rs 9,000 crore. He has repeatedly denied fleeing, and said that he is ready to pay back the money he owed to the Indian banks.
 
India had in 2017 filed for Mallya's extradition.
 
A consortium of 13 banks, led by the State Bank of India, has initiated loan recovery proceedings against him in a special court in Mumbai under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act.
 
The Enforcement Directorate had also moved the Special Prevention of Money Laundering Act Court last year to get Mallya declared a "fugitive economic offender" and confiscate his properties, estimated at more than Rs 12,000 crore, making it the first such case of its kind under the new law. 
 
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50 killed in Nigeria fuel tanker explosion

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At least 50 people have been killed and 70 others injured after a fuel tanker exploded in Nigeria'a Benue state, authorities said on Tuesday.
 
Eyewitnesses said the petrol tanker flipped over when the driver was trying to dodge a bump in the road and exploded in Ahumbe village on Monday.
 
State police spokeswoman Catherine Anene told Efe news that many people died as a result of the fire that spread to nearby homes.
 
Government spokesman Christopher Avi was cited by local media as saying that 50 people were burned to death while the wounded sustained serious injuries.
 
This type of accident is frequent in Nigeria due to the bad conditions of state infrastructure, poor vehicle maintenance and reckless driving.
 
Nigeria, Africa's largest oil producer and most populous country with some 200 million people, imports much of its fuel because its four refineries produce below capacity.
 
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34 killed in powerful Kabul blast

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At least 34 people were killed and 68 others injured after a powerful blast rocked the Afghan capital of Kabul on Monday, authorities said.
 
A witness told Xinhua news agency that militants had entered an under-construction building in the high security Pul-i-Mahmoud Khan area and were exchanging fire with the security forces who reached the area to control the situation.
 
According to the witness, the militants first detonated their explosives-laden car and then began firing.
 
The area is close to a branch of the the Defence Ministry building, a sports stadium, a branch of the Information and Culture Ministry and houses.
 
Following the explosion, which could be heard several kilometres away, a huge rising column of smoke could be seen, reports Efe news.
 
No militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.
 
Monday's attack comes when a Taliban delegation and US representatives are carrying out the seventh round of meetings in Qatar to discuss peace negotiations in Afghanistan.
 
Both sides are seeking a way out of nearly two decades of armed conflict in the nation, although, so far the Taliban have refused to negotiate with the Afghan government.
 
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US: 10 killed in plane crash at an airport in Dallas

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At least ten people have died after a small aircraft crashed at an airport in Dallas, Texas.
 
All ten people on board were killed after it crashed at Addison Airport at 9:10 a.m local time on Sunday, Mary Rosenbleeth, spokeswoman for the city of Addison, was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.
 
The twin-engine small plane had just taken off when it crashed into a hangar at the airport, about 25 km north of downtown Dallas, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spokesperson Lynn Lunsford said. The fire destroyed the aircraft.
 
Authorities have not released information about the identities of the people who were killed. Addison fire spokesman Edward Martelle said authorities had not identified the plane's owner.
 
The National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA were sending investigators to the scene, local media reported.
 
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Modi, Trump pledge 'strong leadership to address global challenges'

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump on Friday declared that their countries were "central to global peace and stability" and pledged to "provide strong leadership to address global challenges and build prosperity for their citizens in the decades to come".
Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting United States President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan on June 28, 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting United States President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan on June 28, 2019.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump on Friday declared that their countries were "central to global peace and stability" and pledged to "provide strong leadership to address global challenges and build prosperity for their citizens in the decades to come", according to the White House.
 
The two leaders exchanged "perspectives on progress in the strategic partnership and develop new ideas to bring it to the next level", at their bilateral meeting here on the sidelines of the G20 Summit, the White House said in a readout of their meeting.
 
They "acknowledged the unprecedented breadth and depth of bilateral ties, including economic, trade, energy, defense and security, counter-terrorism, and space", the statement said.
 
"The leaders affirmed that, as responsible democracies, a close partnership between the US and India is central to global peace and stability. They reiterated their commitment to provide strong leadership to address global challenges and build prosperity for their citizens in the decades to come," it added.
 
Before their bilateral meeting, Modi and Trump held a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinto Abe. 
 
After the trilateral meeting, Modi tweeted: "Today's meeting of the JAI (Japan, America, India) Trilateral was a productive one. We had extensive discussions on the Indo-Pacific region, improving connectivity and infrastructure development".
 
A White House statement of the trilateral meeting said the leaders "reaffirmed the critical importance of strengthening US-India-Japan cooperation to reinforce shared core democratic values, which promote global security and prosperity".
 
"They agreed to meet every year aceto ensure successful cooperation in multiple areas, including maritime security, quality infrastructure, and advancing peace and prosperity in the Indian Ocean and Pacific region and beyond."
 
Before his meeting with Modi, Trump said he thought they will have a "very big trade deal to announce".
 
"I think we will just continue to get along with India," he told reporters as they got ready for the talks. "We certainly work together on trade and we'll be discussing trade today."
 
"I think we going to have some very big things to announce. Very big trade deal."
 
Trade is a cause of major friction between India and the US, with Trump on a warpath on tariffs. Last month, US withdrew the General Scheme of Preferences (GSP) trade concessions to India accusing it of failing to provide "equitable and reasonable access" to its markets.
 
India on June 16 retaliated by hiking tariffs on 28 US products.
 
"I look forward to speaking with Prime Minister Modi about the fact that India, for years having put very high tariffs against the US, just recently increased the tariffs even further," Trump tweeted while heading to Osaka on Thursday.
 
Modi said before the talks that the key topics they would discuss include Iran, 5G, bilateral relations and defence relations.
 
He added that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his recent visit to New Delhi had delivered a "very warm letter" from Trump congratulating him on his recent re-election.
 
Trump has put sanctions on oil trade with Iran, an important energy source for India. 
 
Asked about it prior to his meeting with Modi, Trump said: "We have a lot of time -- there's no rush they can take their time. There is absolutely no time pressure. Hopefully in the end it's going to work out. If it does, great, if it doesn't, you'll be hearing about it."
 
Earlier before the formal start of the trilateral talks, Trump congratulated Modi on his re-election.
 
He praised them for their "tremendous success" in the presence of media as their talk was about to begin.
 
Abe told reporters that their three countries are the "foundation of peace and prosperity in the region" and thanked "Donald Trump and Prime Minister Modi" for their roles.
 
When the three leaders were asked to shake hands for a photograph, Trump initiated a three-way fist bump.
 
Pompeo, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, US National Security Adviser John Bolton, Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner were present at the start of the trilateral meeting.
 
The trilateral meeting began after Trump and Abe had a bilateral meeting.
 
A White House official, who briefed reporters before the trilateral meeting said it was "an opportunity to promote a resilient quality secure infrastructure" and "all three countries promote a free and open Indo-Pacific region".
 
The official said that the leaders planned to discuss "strong naval cooperation", following up on a recent joint exercise in the South China Sea.
 
This was the second trilateral meeting of the three leaders, who had met last year at the Buenos Aires G20 meeting.
 
IANS
 

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NASA announces flying mission to study Titan for origins, signs of life

An illustration showing NASA’s Dragonfly rotorcraft-lander approaching a site on Saturn’s exotic moon, Titan. Credits: NASA/JHU-APL
An illustration showing NASA’s Dragonfly rotorcraft-lander approaching a site on Saturn’s exotic moon, Titan. Credits: NASA/JHU-APL
US space agency NASA has announced that its next destination in the solar system is Titan, Saturn's moon, which is an analog to the very early Earth, and can provide clues to how life may have arisen on our planet. 
 
"Advancing our search for the building blocks of life, the Dragonfly mission will fly multiple sorties to sample and examine sites around Saturn’s icy moon," a press release from NASA said.
 
"Dragonfly will launch in 2026 and arrive in 2034. The rotorcraft will fly to dozens of promising locations on Titan looking for prebiotic chemical processes common on both Titan and Earth," it said.
 
Dragonfly marks the first time NASA will fly a multi-rotor vehicle for science on another planet; it has eight rotors and flies like a large drone. It will take advantage of Titan’s dense atmosphere – four times denser than Earth’s – to become the first vehicle ever to fly its entire science payload to new places for repeatable and targeted access to surface materials.
 
The release said that, during its 2.7-year baseline mission, Dragonfly will explore diverse environments from organic dunes to the floor of an impact crater where liquid water and complex organic materials key to life once existed together for possibly tens of thousands of years.
 
Its instruments will study how far prebiotic chemistry may have progressed. They also will investigate the moon’s atmospheric and surface properties and its subsurface ocean and liquid reservoirs. Additionally, instruments will search for chemical evidence of past or extant life.
 
“With the Dragonfly mission, NASA will once again do what no one else can do,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Visiting this mysterious ocean world could revolutionize what we know about life in the universe. This cutting-edge mission would have been unthinkable even just a few years ago, but we’re now ready for Dragonfly’s amazing flight.”
 
According to the release, Dragonfly took advantage of 13 years’ worth of Cassini data to choose a calm weather period to land, along with a safe initial landing site and scientifically interesting targets. 
 
It will first land at the equatorial “Shangri-La” dune fields, which are terrestrially similar to the linear dunes in Namibia in southern Africa and offer a diverse sampling location. Dragonfly will explore this region in short flights, building up to a series of longer “leapfrog” flights of up to 5 miles (8 kilometers), stopping along the way to take samples from compelling areas with diverse geography. 
 
It will finally reach the Selk impact crater, where there is evidence of past liquid water, organics – the complex molecules that contain carbon, combined with hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen – and energy, which together make up the recipe for life. 
 
The lander will eventually fly more than 108 miles (175 kilometers) – nearly double the distance traveled to date by all the Mars rovers combined.
 
“Titan is unlike any other place in the solar system, and Dragonfly is like no other mission,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for Science at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington. “It’s remarkable to think of this rotorcraft flying miles and miles across the organic sand dunes of Saturn’s largest moon, exploring the processes that shape this extraordinary environment. Dragonfly will visit a world filled with a wide variety of organic compounds, which are the building blocks of life and could teach us about the origin of life itself.”
 
Titan has a nitrogen-based atmosphere like Earth. Unlike Earth, Titan has clouds and rain of methane. Other organics are formed in the atmosphere and fall like light snow. The moon’s weather and surface processes have combined complex organics, energy, and water similar to those that may have sparked life on our planet.
 
Titan is larger than the planet Mercury and is the second largest moon in our solar system. As it orbits Saturn, it is about 886 million miles (1.4 billion kilometers) away from the Sun, about 10 times farther than Earth. Because it is so far from the Sun, its surface temperature is around -290 degrees Fahrenheit (-179 degrees Celsius). Its surface pressure is also 50 percent higher than Earth’s.
 
Dragonfly was selected as part of the agency’s New Frontiers program, which includes the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, Juno to Jupiter, and OSIRIS-REx to the asteroid Bennu. 
 
Dragonfly is led by Principal Investigator Elizabeth Turtle, who is based at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. New Frontiers supports missions that have been identified as top solar system exploration priorities by the planetary community. The program is managed by the Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the agency’s Planetary Science Division in Washington.
 
“The New Frontiers program has transformed our understanding of the solar system, uncovering the inner structure and composition of Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere, discovering the icy secrets of Pluto’s landscape, revealing mysterious objects in the Kuiper belt, and exploring a near-Earth asteroid for the building blocks of life,” said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division. “Now we can add Titan to the list of enigmatic worlds NASA will explore.”
 
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Modi and I will announce very big trade deal: Trump

File photo of United States President Donald Trump
File photo of United States President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump on Friday said ahead of his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he thinks they will have a "very big trade deal to announce".
 
Speaking to the media before the trilateral talks between him, Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the two-day G-20 Summit here, Trump said: "I think we are going to have some very big things to announce. Very big trade deal.
 
"We certainly work together on trade and we'll be discussing trade today... I think we will just continue to get along with India." 
 
Modi said that the key topics they would discuss include Iran, 5G, bilateral and defence relations.
 
Modi said that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his recent visit to New Delhi had delivered a "very warm letter" from Trump congratulating him on his recent re-election.
 
"The hottest country in the world right now is the US and everybody wants to be a part of it," Trump said.
 
"We're going to be discussing that and also how India fits in," Trump said when asked about Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications manufacturer that the US has placed restrictions because of its security considerations.
 
Trump has put sanctions on oil trade with Iran, an important energy source for India.
 
Asked about it, Trump said: "We have a lot of time, there's no rush they can take their time. There is absolutely no time pressure. Hopefully in the end, it's going to work out. If it does, great, if it doesn't, you all be hearing shut it."
 
When the three leaders were asked to shake hands for a photograph, Trump initiated a three-way fist bump.
 
Pompeo, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, National Security Adviser John Bolton, Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner were present at the start of the trilateral meeting.
 
The meeting began after Trump and Abe had bilateral talks. A bilateral meeting between Modi and Trump will take place later in the day.
 
IANS

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Modi meets Abe ahead of G20 Summit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in Osaka, Japan on June 27, 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in Osaka, Japan on June 27, 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday met his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe ahead of the two-day G20 Summit slated to take place here on Friday.
 
"Greeting each other as best friends do! Japanese PM @AbeShinzo warmly welcomes PM @narendramodi ahead of their bilateral meeting," External Affairs Minister spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.
 
"Discussed broad range of topics of mutual interest. PM (Modi) said that he was looking forward to visit of PM Abe to India later this year for the Annual Summit," Kumar added.
 
Modi arrived in this Japanese city earlier on Thursday. According to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), Modi "will elaborate on many issues of global importance and present India's viewpoint" during the summit.
 
On the Modi-Abe meeting, the PMO tweeted: "A friendship characterized by warmth and the promise of a bright future. Prime Ministers @narendramodi and @AbeShinzo hold talks in Osaka, the first such meeting between these leaders since the start of Japan's Reiwa era. 
 
"Many aspects of India-Japan relations were discussed."
 
During the two days, Modi will meet other world leaders including US President Donald Trump and also hold a trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the summit with Russian and Chinese Presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, respectively.
 
IANS

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Modi arrives in Osaka to attend G20 Summit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Osaka on Thursday morning to attend the G20 Summit to be held on June 28-29 to address major challenges and opportunities being faced by the world.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi being greeted by members of the Indian community on arrival at his hotel in Osaka, Japan on June 27, 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi being greeted by members of the Indian community on arrival at his hotel in Osaka, Japan on June 27, 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived here today to attend the G20 Summit to be held on June 28-29 to address major challenges and opportunities being faced by the world.
 
He was greeted on arrival at the Kansai International airport by senior Japanese and Indian officials.
 
Over the next three days, Modi also has a range of other bilateral and plurilateral engagements.
 
In a pre-departure statement, Modi said women empowerment, issues related to digitalization and artificial intelligence, and progress in achieving SDGs and in their common efforts to address major global challenges such as terrorism and climate change would be part of the G20 Summit.
 
"The Summit will provide an important opportunity to reiterate and reinforce our strong support to reformed multilateralism, which is crucial for preserving rule-based international order in today’s fast-changing world. The Summit will also be a platform for sharing India’s strong developmental experience of the last five years, which provided the basis for a resounding mandate by the people of India to the Government to continue on the path to progress and stability," he said.
 
Modi said the Osaka Summit would also be an important stepping stone for India towards hosting the G-20 Summit in 2022, the 75th anniversary of the country's independence.
 
"On the sidelines, I also look forward to engaging with leaders of our major partner countries on important issues of bilateral and global importance.
 
"I also look forward to host the next Russia, India and China (RIC) Informal Summit on the sidelines, and also to participate in the next informal meetings of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and JAI (Japan, America and India) leaders," he added.
 
Modi is slated to meet United States President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron, among others, for bilateral meetings on the margins of the summit.
 
The G20 Summit will be attended by Heads of State or Government of member-countries, the European Union and other invited countries and international organizations.
 
Established in 1999, G20 was elevated from a forum of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors to that of Heads of State/Government in 2008 to effectively respond to the global financial crisis of 2008. 
 
Since then it has emerged as the premier global forum for international economic cooperation. G20 members represent around 85 per cent of global gross domestic product, over 75 per cent of global trade, and two-thirds of the world’s population.
 
India has participated in all the G20 Summits held so far. India will host the G20 summit in 2022 for the first time.
 
A press release from the Ministry of External Affairs said the summit under Japanese Presidency will be based around the theme "Human-centered future society”.
 
The issues likely to be discussed at the summit include Free trade and economic growth, global economy including taxation, finance, Digital Economy and Artificial Intelligence; Inclusive and Sustainable World; Energy and Environment, Society 5.0, Quality infrastructure, Global Health, Aging, Climate change, and Marine plastic waste. The summit will also adopt a declaration.
 
The issues of importance for India at G20 include energy security, financial stability, disaster resilient infrastructure, reformed multilateralism, WTO reforms, countering terrorism, return of economic fugitives, food security, democratization of technologies and portable social security schemes, the release said.
 
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Hyderabad man killed in San Francisco accident

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A Hyderabad man and another person were killed in a road accident in the US city of San Francisco, police said.
 
The city's authorities have identified the victims as Syed Waseem Ali, 26, from Hyderabad who lived in Fremont, and Sela Henriquez, 49, of San Francisco, reports the San Francisco Examiner newspaper.
 
The collision occurred at about 1.15 a.m. Sunday at Third Street and Paul Avenue. 
 
According to the police, a Mercedes-Benz was speeding on Third Street and didn't stop at a red light, causing a collision with a Toyota sedan.
 
Ali, who was driving the Toyota and had Henriquez as passenger via the Lyft ride-hailing service, were pronounced dead after the crash.
 
Two passengers from the Mercedes were taken to a hospital but are expected to survive. The driver fled on foot, leaving the vehicle behind, and had not been arrested as of early Monday afternoon, police said. 
 
A GoFundMe page has been created on behalf of Ali's family to raise money to transport his body and belongings back to Hyderabad, the San Francisco Examiner reported.
 
Lyft issued a statement following the crash.
 
"We are deeply saddened by this tragic accident and resulting loss of life. Our thoughts are with the victims' family and friends during this difficult time. We have reached out to the rider's family to offer our support and are working to contact the driver's family," the company said.
 
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Uttarakhand BJP MLA suspended over indiscipline

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The ruling BJP in Uttarakhand has suspended Khanpur MLA Kunwar Pranav Singh Champion from the party for three months on charges of indiscipline, a party spokesman said on Sunday.
 
Champion's suspension on Saturday night came after a preliminary report prepared by the state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Disciplinary Committee found him guilty of gross indiscipline. It also took cognizance of the legislator's alleged threats to a journalist. 
 
State BJP President Ajay Bhatt later suspended Champion. 
 
Recently, a video had gone viral in which Champion appeared to be threatening an electronic media journalist. He was also in the news for publicly making fun of BJP MLA from Jhabreda Deshraj Karnawal. 
 
Champion, who wanted a ticket for his wife for the Lok Sabha polls from Haridwar, had described then sitting MP from the seat and now Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank as a "migratory bird".
 
He was among the nine Congress MLAs who had rebelled against Harish Rawat and crossed over to the BJP in 2016. Later, all the nine MLAs were disqualified by the Speaker. 
 
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Ethiopian army chief shot dead during failed coup attempt

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The chief of staff of the Ethiopian army was shot dead during a coup attempt in the northern Amhara region, the Prime Minister's office announced on Sunday on state television.
 
General Seare Mekonnen died after being shot while trying to prevent the coup attempt on Saturday night, in which another military chief, General Gezai Abera, also died, the office said on state television ETV.
 
The president of Amhara region, Ambachew Mekonnen, as well as his adviser, Ezez Wasie, were also shot dead in their office in the regional capital, reports Efe news.
 
The coup against the government of this region, the second largest ethnic group in the country, began late Saturday in the capital, Bahir Dar, and was thwarted soon after by the federal security forces, the prime minister's spokesman, Nigussu Tilahun, announced on ETV.
 
"The coup attempt in Amhara regional state is against the constitution and is intended to scupper the hard-won peace of the region," the prime minister's office said in an initial statement.
 
"This illegal attempt should be condemned by all Ethiopians and the federal government has full capacity to overpower this armed group," it added, without specifying who was behind the attempt.
 
In addition to Bahir Dar, shots were also heard in the country's capital, Addis Ababa, according to reports from the United States embassy in Ethiopia. 
 
"The US Embassy is aware of reports of gunfire in Addis Ababa. Chief of Mission personnel are advised to shelter in place," it said in a statement.
 
Since coming to power in April 2018, ending two years of protests against the previous government, Ethiopian President Abiy Ahmed has been praised both within the country and outside it for his democratic advances, which have led to the return of exiled dissidents as well as the arrest of dozens of senior military and intelligence officials.
 
On July 9, 2018, Abiy and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki signed a joint declaration of peace and friendship to pave the way for a thaw in diplomatic relations between the two countries, which had been suspended since the end of an armed conflict that began over border disputes dating back to the independence of Eritrea in 1993.
 
However, these same reforms and a more balanced distribution of power between the country's nine autonomous regions have also led to increased tensions between the various ethnic groups, with several spirals of violence in a nation of more than 100 million people.
 
Ethiopia, which has more than 80 different ethnic groups, had the largest newly displaced population in the world in 2018, more than two million, owing to intercommunal violence.
 
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Sri Lanka extends Emergency for another month

Maithripala Sirisena (File photo: Xinhua/Easwaran/IANS)
Maithripala Sirisena (File photo: Xinhua/Easwaran/IANS)
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, here on Saturday, extended the State of Emergency by another month, considering the security situation following the April Easter Sunday bombings that killed over 250 people and injured hundreds.
 
Sirisena issued orders to extend the Emergency for another month from Friday midnight, according to a gazette notification.
 
According to the notification, the Emergency was in effect for public security, preservation of public order and maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the countrymen, the Colombo Page reported.
 
The President had declared the Emergency on April 22, a day after attacks on three churches, three luxury hotels and two other locations. The bombings were claimed by the Islamic State terror group.
 
Earier on May 22, Sirisena extended the Emergency by a month as security forces continued nationwide raids to hunt down suspects linked to the attacks. He had assured the diplomatic community in Sri Lanka then that it would not be extended. 
 
Sri Lanka's police and military have arrested over 100 suspects in the crackdown.
 
The need to extend Emergency regulations has been questioned by some political leaders and activists in the island country, with the Tamil National Alliance voting against the motion when it was presented in Parliament in May. 
 
"We don't think it's necessary to have emergency regulations in place now," TNA Parliamentarian M. A. Sumanthiran told Efe news. 
 
"The regulations are far-reaching and draconian in nature. Also, two cases are being heard on the regulations in courts. We will be voting against the motion this time as well," he said.
 
The Sri Lankan government has initiated several investigations into the Easter Sunday blasts, including by a presidential committee and a parliamentary select committee. The House panel announced on Saturday that both Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and two former law and order Ministers would meet it to give evidence. 
 
The acting Inspector General of Police ordered on Friday a criminal investigation into lapses by nine top police officers with regard to the bombings. Sri Lankan authorities blame local extremist groups National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ) and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim for the attacks.
 
The country's Criminal Investigation Department also brought five suspects, arrested in Dubai in connection with the attacks, to the island earlier this month and are questioning them.
 
The bombings also caused significant damage to Sri Lanka's tourism sector.
 
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Curb terror funding by October: FATF warns Pakistan

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The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has warned Pakistan to improve its counter-terror financing operations in line with an internationally agreed action plan by October or face action, sources said.
 
The FATF also expressed its concerns over Pakistan's failure to complete the action plan first by a January deadline, and again by May.
 
"The FATF strongly urges Pakistan to swiftly complete its action plan by October 2019 when the last set of action plan items are set to expire," the FATF said in a statement on Friday.
 
"Otherwise, the FATF will decide the next step at that time for insufficient progress," the statement added.
 
Pakistan has been already put by the FATF on the "grey list" of countries with insufficient controls to tackle money laundering and terror financing. 
 
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