Ivanka Trump's Dream Job Actually Not That Different From You And Me


Ivanka Trump had a telephonic conversation with the crew onboard the ISS.

Houston, Texas: 

Adviser to President of The United States on job creation, economic development and entrepreneurship — this is what it says on Ivanka Trump’s Facebook page. While the credentials to her name seem like a “dream” job by itself, Ivanka Trump today confessed that her dream was to actually be an astronaut. 

US President Donald Trump’s daughter was touring the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston today, where she had a telephonic conversation with the crew onboard the International Space Station. 

“You actually have my dream job, I always wanted to be an astronaut. I always want to go to space,” Ivanka Trump was quoted as telling the astronauts according to reports.

The first daughter spoke to the six astronauts aboard the ISS, and told them of her dreams of being in space and took the opportunity to thank them for their service. 

 Along with the live chat with the astronauts, Ivanka Trump toured a mock-up of the ISS and checked out the space suits where she was caught high-fiving a space suit. 

“Dream realised,” she tweeted along with a video of her tour of the mock-up ISS. 

 The 36-year-old was also seen posing outside the door of the mock-up ISS. 

 Ahead of her tour at NASA’s Space centre, Ms Trump had tweeted” Looking forward to visiting the @NASA Johnson @SpaceCenterHou with Administrator @JimBridenstine! NASA’s work in #STEM education, space exploration & technological innovation is truly out of this world” (sic).

Students working with NASA ahead of the international FIRST Robotics Competition

Ivanka Trump also interacted with “Robonauts” and students competing in a robotics competition. Her tour ended with her test-driving a robot built by the students. 

Ivanka Trump also took questions from interns at the space centre who are learning about engineering and science as part of their internship at NASA. 



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At Least 15 Killed In Afghanistan Bus Crash


The dead were all bus passengers, 3 women and 2 children were among the casualties (Representational)

Herat, Afghanistan: 

At least 15 people were killed when a bus collided with a truck in western Afghanistan on Friday, officials said, in the second major traffic accident this month.

Another 30 were wounded in the early morning crash in Bakwa district of Farah province, provincial police spokesman Mohibullah Mohib told AFP.

The bus had been travelling from Herat province to the southern province of Kandahar when the accident happened.

At least three women and two children were among the casualties, Nasir Mehri, spokesman for the Farah governor, told AFP.

The dead were all bus passengers, he added.

It was not clear how the crash happened but accidents involving long-distance passenger buses are fairly common in Afghanistan.

Earlier this month, at least 13 people were killed and another 25 wounded in an accident involving a bus and a truck in Kandahar province.



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Kremlin Says US Using Sanctions To Squeeze Russia Out Of Arms Trade


Peskov called the new sanctions hostile and unpredictable but did not say how Russia would respond

MOSCOW: 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday that by imposing sanctions on buyers of Russian weapons, and on people associated with the Russian military, the United States is trying to squeeze out competitors in the global arms trade.

The Trump administration imposed sanctions on the Chinese military on Thursday for buying fighter jets and missile systems from Russia, in breach of a sweeping U.S. sanctions law punishing Moscow for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, something Russia denies.

Peskov called the new sanctions hostile and unpredictable but did not say how Russia would respond. “They use this practice so often that one would trip up reacting to each new instance,” the spokesman said.

© Thomson Reuters 2018



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No "Deal" With Saudi For Release Of Sharifs From Jail: Pak Minister


“Nawaz Sharif is not so important for Saudi Arabia that they will talk about him,” the minister said.

Islamabad: 

There was no “deal” between the governments of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia for the release of jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members after a top court suspended their sentences in a corruption case, a senior Pakistani minister has asserted.

The Islamabad High Court Wednesday suspended the jail sentences of Sharif, his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar in the Avenfield corruption case and they were released from the Adiala Prison in Rawalpindi.

“No country asked for his release. Nawaz Sharif is not so important for Saudi Arabia that they will talk about him,” Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry said, rejecting the impression that the three-time former premier and his family members were released from jail under a “deal” between the Imran Khan-led government and Riyadh.

The Islamabad High Court’s verdict, ordering the release of the trio coincided with Prime Minister Khan’s visit to Saudi Arabia, giving rise to speculation that the Sharif family members’ release was a result of the Saudis’ request, the Dawn newspaper reported.

But the report recalled that Saudi Arabia was a guarantor in a deal between the Sharif family and then military dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf in 2000 under which the Sharifs were released from jail and allowed to leave the country.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy close relations and whenever a leader wins an election in Pakistan, the first visit is always to the Gulf nation.

Nawaz Sharif never came under discussion during Prime Minister Khan’s visit to Saudi Arabia where he had meetings with the oil-rich kingdom’s rulers, Chaudhry said.

“He is not that important to be discussed during that visit,” he claimed.

“Those who say that Saudi Arabia would have talked [about Sharif during Prime Minister Khan’s visit] actually don’t know what kind of relationship the Saudis have with Nawaz Sharif,” the minister said Thursday without elaborating.

“There will be no deal and no dheel (concession) with them (the Sharifs),” Chaudhry declared, adding that soon “they will be back to the place where they had been a few days back”.

On July 6, an accountability court in Islamabad sentenced Sharif, Maryam and Safdar, to 10 years, seven years and one year in jail, respectively, in connection with the purchase of four luxury flats in London through corrupt practices.

“Nawaz Sharif will be in and out of jail. This thing will continue,” he said, adding that the Sharifs had only been granted bail and the case was still pending against them.

“Those who were questioning the government for putting the names of the Sharifs on the Exit Control List (ECL) would have got the answer now.

“Had we not done so, they could have flown to London soon after their release, and where would we have looked for these princes then?” the minister said, justifying the decision of the Cabinet to place the names of the Sharifs on the ECL during its first meeting last month.

“We will not allow Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz to leave Pakistan and at the same time we will not allow (former finance minister) Ishaq Dar, and Hassan and Hussain (the two sons of Sharif) to stay out of Pakistan,” he said.

Chaudhry said that for them it was not important that how much time the Sharifs would spend in jail, as for the government bringing back the looted money of the people of this country was more important.

Sharif, 68, resigned as Pakistan prime minister last year after the Supreme Court disqualified him from holding public office and ruled that corruption cases be filed against the beleaguered leader and his children over the Panama Papers scandal.

The Avenfield case was among the three corruption cases filed against the ex-premier by the National Accountability Bureau on the Supreme Court’s orders in the Panama Papers case.



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3 Babies Among 5 Slashed In New York, Accused Found With Her Wrists Cut


One of the girls is in serious condition, a police officer said (Representational)

Washington, United States: 

Three babies and two adults were slashed at a child care center Friday in New York City, police said.

A 52-year-old woman working at the center has been arrested after the 3:30 am assault in the Queens borough of the city.

The woman was found in the basement of the in-home center with self-inflicted cuts to her wrists, a New York Police Department official told AFP.

Two baby girls and a baby boy were attacked by the woman, the officer said on condition of anonymity. One of the girls is in serious condition, he said.

The two adults were a co-worker at the facility and the father of one of the infants, the officer said.

He said he had no other details of the attack.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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Google Staff Discussed Tweaking Search To Fight Trump Travel Ban: Report


Washington, United States: 

Google employees discussed how to counter President Donald Trump’s 2017 travel ban by modifying search functions to help people contribute to immigration advocacy groups and contact lawmakers, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

They began the email discussion two days after Trump signed the first version of his travel ban targeting people from seven mainly Muslim countries, the paper reported.

Staff discussed how to tweak search functions and work against “islamophobic, algorithmically biased results from search terms ‘Islam’, ‘Muslim’, ‘Iran’, etc.”, the Journal reported.

They looked at similar measures for the search terms ‘Mexico’, ‘Hispanic’, ‘Latino’, etc.”

An email from an employee of the Search Product Marketing division referred to brainstorming inside Google over how to respond to ban.

Trump’s controversial measure was challenged in court and underwent several iterations before ultimately being upheld by the US Supreme Court.

The report is certain to anger Trump, who has accused Google of blocking conservative viewpoints in its search results.

Google told the Journal that none of the ideas discussed were ever implemented.

“Google has never manipulated its search results or modified any of its products to promote a particular political ideology — not in the current campaign season, not during the 2016 election, and not in the aftermath of President Trump’s executive order on immigration,” it said in a statement.

“Our processes and policies would not have allowed for any manipulation of search results to promote political ideologies,” it added.

Google was among 100 tech companies that filed a friend-of-the-court brief in February 2017 challenging the travel ban as harmful to US “business, innovation and growth”.



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China A Far Greater Threat To US Than Russia, Says Mike Pompeo


US and China, the world’s two largest economies are engaged in a trade war.

Washington: 

A highly centralised and non-transparent Chinese government which is aggressive in its military posture with its economic strength and treats intellectual property and religious minorities horribly, poses a far greater threat to the US than Russia, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday.

He also said that China presents a myriad of opportunities, but lots of challenges.

The world’s two largest economies are engaged in a trade war. The US is due to impose punitive tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods on Monday, bringing the total to $250 billion, on top of separate duties on steel and aluminum from around the globe.

China has retaliated on $110 billion in goods, the majority of all its imports from the US.

“Russia, under Vladimir Putin, remains a bully. We need to push back and constrain them where we can. But longer term, if you’re looking at the things that threaten American livelihoods, that put America truly at risk of its continued economic growth, China presents the far greater threat to the US,” Mr Pompeo told Fox News in an interview.

“This is a non-transparent government. It is still a very centralised government. It treats our intellectual property horribly, it treats its religious minorities horribly,” he said.

In each of these cases, he said, the US has opportunities. This is what President Donald Trump has been doing with trade, to try and make it fair and reciprocal.

“What we’re asking of China is to behave in a way that if they want to be a power, if they want to be on the global stage, they have to operate in a way that global leaders have for so often,” he said.

Mr Pompeo expressed his deep disappointment over top American companies compromising with their basics in order to continue with their business in China.

“It gets at the core problem that President Trump is trying to address, which is that China doesn’t permit US investors to invest on the same terms that Chinese companies can invest here, joint ventures.

“The list is long of the non-reciprocal relationship. The President’s trying to balance that. And when we get that right, when government gets that right, we can then force American companies to behave under that set of rules,” he said.

Responding to a question on the allegation of Russian meddling into US elections, Mr Pompeo said that Russia has been aggressive and tried to meddle in American election.

When the Trump Administration came to power, Mr Pompeo said it found that China had advanced during the previous eight years dramatically throughout the South and East China Seas.

“I did have a chance to meet with some of the Philippine leadership today and share with them our concerns. I think they share them as well. They understand, as do all of the countries of Southeast Asia – they’d much rather deal with a United States and not be a vassal state for any other country,” he said.



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Russia Warns US Is "Playing With Fire" Over Sanctions


“Playing with fire is silly, it can become dangerous,” is what Russia has to say. (File)

Moscow: 

Moscow said Friday Washington’s latest raft of anti-Russian sanctions that also target China undermined global stability, warning the United States against “playing with fire.”

“It would be good for them to remember there is such a concept as global stability which they are thoughtlessly undermining by whipping up tensions in Russian-American ties,” deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said in a statement.

“Playing with fire is silly, it can become dangerous,” he added.

“We recommend that Washington’s operators of the sanctions machine at least superficially acquaint themselves with our history to stop going round in circles.”

On Thursday, the United States expanded its sanctions war against Russia to China, for the first time announcing punitive measures against a Chinese military organisation for buying Russian fighter jets and missiles.

The State Department also announced it was placing 33 Russian intelligence and military-linked actors on its sanctions blacklist.

All of them — defence related firms, officers of the GRU military intelligence agency, and people associated with the Saint Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency disinformation group — have been on previous US sanctions lists and 28 of them have already been indicted by Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russia election meddling.

Ryabkov reiterated that none of the rounds of sanctions had managed to force Russia to change its course so far.

“The numerous American ‘black lists’ increasingly repeat each other. It is funny but it is so,” he said.

“It appears that it has become a sort of national pastime there,” Ryabkov said, adding that the latest round of anti-Russian measures was the 60th since 2011.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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All You Need To Know About International Peace Day


International Peace Day 2018: It was first started in 1982.

New Delhi: 

The global community is celebrating the International Day of Peace today.  The day is observed on 21 September every year.  The International Day of Peace was first celebrated in 1982. It is recognized by United Nations. It has been declared by the United Nations General Assembly a day “devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.”

A resolution for the declaration of The International Day of Peace was moved by the United Kingdom and Costa Rica in 1981. Initially, the annual International Day of Peace was observed on every third Tuesday of September. The date was changed to September 21 in 2001.  

The theme for the first International Day of Peace on 21 September 1982 was the right to peace of people.

In 2015, the United Nations Member States understood that the rights of people have to be ensured for a peaceful world in the future. The members also recognized the need to achieve economic and social development for all people everywhere for lasting peace in the world. Hence, they adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which cover a gamut of issues, including poverty, hunger, health, education, climate change, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, environment and social justice.

The theme for this year is: “The Right to Peace – The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70”. This year, United Nations is celebrating the 70th year of the declaration of human rights adopted by the General Assembly. The declaration was adopted in Paris on 10 December 1948.

The Universal Declaration, which is translated in 135 languages, states in Article 3. “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” These elements build the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.



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Withdraw Sanctions Or Bear Consequences, China Warns US


China has called the sanctions by the US over its deal with Russia “unreasonable”. (File)

Beijing, China: 

Beijing called on the United States on Friday to withdraw sanctions it imposed on a Chinese military organisation for buying Russian weapons or “bear the consequences”.

“The Chinese side expresses strong indignation over the above-mentioned unreasonable practices of the US side,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular press briefing.

Geng said Beijing had lodged an official protest with the United States.

“The US actions have seriously violated the basic principles of international relations and seriously damaged the relations between the two countries and the two militaries,” Geng said.

“We strongly urge the US to immediately correct their mistake and withdraw their so-called sanctions, otherwise the US will have to bear the consequences.”

The US State Department said Thursday it was placing financial sanctions on the Equipment Development Department of the Chinese Ministry of Defence, and its top administrator, for the recent purchase of Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 surface-to-air missiles.

Officials said it was the first time a third country has been punished under the CAATSA sanctions legislation for dealing with Russia, and signalled the Trump administration’s will to risk relations with other countries in its campaign against Moscow.

The move comes as the United States and China are in the heat of a trade war.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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73-Year-Old US Mayor Shoots Alligator She Thinks Ate Her Miniature Horse


The mayor shot the alligator right between the eyes. (Representational)

A miniature horse vanished a few years ago from Judy Cochran’s Southeast Texas cattle ranch. On Monday, she fired one shot to kill what she says was the likely perpetrator: a 12-foot, 580-pound alligator in a murky pond on her property.

This act quickly earned Cochran her 15 minutes of fame, and not just because of the gator’s size. Cochran, 73, is the recently elected mayor of the town of Livingston, population 5,000 or so, as well as a grandmother of three and a great-grandmother of one.

“You have to be a good shot, because he could just come walking up on the banks” if merely injured, she explained in an interview Wednesday. “They told me to shoot it right between the eyes, and I did.”

Being the mayor, Cochran emphasized that the hunt was legal. Polk County, northeast of Houston, is one of a dozen Texas counties that has an alligator hunting season. It runs from Sept. 10 to 30, and Cochran said her property, which has been in the family for more than 50 years, was issued a hunting permit by a state wildlife biologist. With that in hand, a friend rigged a large hook baited with a days-old raccoon carcass over the pond.

“You can’t just go shoot an alligator because it’s there,” she said. “There are strict rules and regulations.”

The hook was set Sunday night. By Monday morning, it had disappeared under the water, but the thick rope attached to it was taut. Cochran quickly applied and was approved for a hunting license online, and she headed to the pond.

“That’s a monster,” her son-in-law, Scott Hughes, can be heard saying over a video he posted to Facebook of Cochran aiming her shotgun at the animal. “Nana, you better hit him good, because that’s that horse-eater. Get him right behind the brain.”

Cochran’s ranch is home to cattle, as well as dogs and cats, horses and several miniature horses – she’s not sure exactly how many, she said, because “they multiply.” When one mini-horse went missing, an alligator was the prime suspect. There is more than one pond on the property, and it’s near a river, so gators are always around, and this sizable one had made an impression, she said.

“The smaller gators wouldn’t have been able to kill a miniature horse,” she said.

Some have asked why she didn’t have the alligator relocated, but Cochran said she viewed that option as simply passing along a nuisance. The alligator is now with a taxidermist who will mount the head, which Cochran plans to display in her office. Its skin will be tanned to make boots, she said. Its meat will be eaten by Cochran’s family, probably as fried gator balls.

“It’s kind of like chicken nuggets. It may be a little tougher, and if it is, we can probably steam it or let it soak in buttermilk,” she said. “None of him will go to waste.”

Cochran, meanwhile, plans to get back to her work as mayor, Rotary Club member and board member of a bank and two hospitals, all of which she said has “kind of had to wait while I’ve been taking care of this celebrity stuff.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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At Least 79 Dead In Tanzania Ferry Sinking: State Media


The MV Nyerere have been carrying as many as 200 passengers double the ferry’s capacity when it went down

Nairobi, Kenya: 

At least 79 people died when a ferry capsized in Lake Victoria, Tanzanian state media said Friday, citing a regional governor, as the search for survivors continued.

“At the moment the death toll is 79,” said Mwanza governor John Mongella, quoted on state television.

The number of those found alive after Thursday’s disaster remains 37, with no more survivors found since rescue operations resumed Friday morning.

The MV Nyerere may have been carrying as many as 200 passengers double the ferry’s capacity when it capsized close to the pier at Ukara Island on Thursday afternoon, according to state media.

Tanzania’s Electrical, Mechanical and Services Agency, which is responsible for ferry services, said it was unknown how many passengers were aboard the MV Nyerere.

The ageing ferry was also carrying cargo, including sacks of maize, bananas and cement, when it overturned and then sank around 50 metres (55 yards) from Ukara dock.

The cause of the accident was not immediately clear, but overloading is frequently to blame for such disasters.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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Saudi Woman Seeks To Disown Father, Stirs ''Guardianship'' Debate


A 24-year-old woman has asked the court to remove her father’s role as guardian. (Representational)

Riyadh: 

A Saudi court has ruled in favour of a woman who challenged her father’s decision to not let her have a passport, reports said Thursday, stirring an online debate on the contentious male guardianship system.

The conservative kingdom requires women to seek permission from male “guardians” — their fathers, husbands or other male relatives — to travel, get married and do other tasks.

In a rare case, an unnamed 24-year-old woman in western Jeddah city sought to disown her father as her guardian after he refused to let her seek a passport to study abroad, local media including the pro-government Okaz newspaper reported.

A civil court this week ordered the father to obtain a passport for the woman.

The newspaper also said the woman, a university student, had been living with her mother for 10 years and had not seen her father for six years.

Saudi Arabia is pursuing far-reaching social reforms that include a historic decision allowing women to drive, attend soccer games and take on jobs that once fell outside the narrow confines of traditional gender roles.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 reform plan for a post-oil era seeks to elevate women to nearly one-third of the workforce by the end of the next decade, up from about 22 percent now.

But the kingdom also faces longstanding criticism over the male guardianship system.

Long a symbol of repression against women, the system allows men to exercise arbitrary authority to make decisions on behalf of their female relatives.

“If a woman had the right to get her own passport — just like men — we wouldn’t need a court” to rule on the matter, tweeted Latifah Ashaalan, a member of Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council, an advisory body.

The rare court case also prompted a raft of comments on social media.

“I am surprised by the contradictions in the system,” said a Saudi Twitter user.

“In the end the father was forced to seek the passport against his will. Why not allow women to get their passports themselves without losing time and going through all this trouble?”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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Antarctica Warming Could Fuel Disastrous Sea-Level Rise, Study Finds


The planet is experiencing temperature to melt a major part of the East Antarctic ice sheet (AFP)

Temperatures not much warmer than the planet is experiencing now were sufficient to melt a major part of the East Antarctic ice sheet in Earth’s past, scientists reported Wednesday, including during one era about 125,000 years ago when sea levels were as much as 20 to 30 feet higher than they are now.

“It doesn’t need to be a very big warming, as long as it stays 2 degrees warmer for a sufficient time, this is the end game,” said David Wilson, a geologist at Imperial College London and one of the authors of the new research, which was published in Nature. Scientists at institutions in Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Spain also contributed to the work.

The research concerns a little-studied region called the Wilkes Subglacial Basin, which is roughly the size of California and Texas combined and contains over 10 feet of potential sea-level rise. Fronted by three enormous glaciers named Cook, Mertz and Ninnis, the Wilkes is known to be vulnerable to fast retreat because the ice here is not standing on land and instead is rising up from a deep depression in the ocean floor.

Moreover, that depression grows deeper as you move from the current icy coastline of the Wilkes farther inland toward the South Pole, a downhill slope that could facilitate rapid ice loss.

What the new science adds is that during past warm periods in Earth’s history, some or all of the ice in the Wilkes Subglacial Basin seems to have gone away. That’s an inference researchers made by studying the record of sediments in the seafloor just off the coast of the current ice front.

Here, they found several layers of sediments that appeared to come from beneath where the ice currently lies, providing a hint that when these layers of the seafloor were laid down, Wilkes contained either less ice or no ice at all.

Those sediments corresponded in time to several well-known past warm periods, when seas rose considerably. But what’s worrying is that these eras were in many cases not much warmer than the planet already is right now.

Humans have caused about 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming above the preindustrial planetary temperatures experienced before the year 1880 or so. The world has pledged to avoid a warming above 2 degrees Celsius, and even hopes to hold the warming to 1.5 degrees, but current promises made by countries are not nearly enough to prevent these outcomes.

In other words, we are already on a course that could heat the planet enough to melt some or all of the Wilkes Basin.

“We say 2 degrees beyond preindustrial, and we’re already beyond preindustrial,” Wilson said. “So this is potentially the kinds of temperatures we could see this century.”

The study cannot reveal, however, just how quickly ice emptied out of the Wilkes Basin. The past warm periods in question are thought to have been driven by slight variations in Earth’s orbit as it rotates around the sun, leading to stronger summer heat. That warmth was maintained for thousands of years.

“What we definitely can say is that during the [geological] stages where temperatures were warm for a couple of degrees for a couple of millennia, this is where we see a distinct signature in our records,” Wilson said. “We can’t necessarily say things didn’t happen quick, but we can’t resolve that in our data.”

The new research “contributes to the mounting pile of evidence that East Antarctica is not as stable as we thought,” Isabella Velicogna, a glaciologist at the University of California at Irvine, said by email. Velicogna was not directly involved in the paper.

“What I found particularly interesting is that the authors came to their conclusions using a data record off shore, not directly beneath the ice (which would be ideal), but this is clearly putting more incentive into studying this part of East Antarctica in more detail,” she wrote.

“The only way to obtain unequivocal evidence of the ice sheet retreat they describe is to drill through the ice sheet itself into the basin,” added Reed Scherer, an Antarctic expert at Northern Illinois University. “Until that gets done, this study from just offshore provides the clearest evidence yet that marine terminating glaciers of both East and West Antarctica are at risk for the future as global temperatures rise.”

The new research comes just as the U.S. and British governments prepare to launch a multiyear research project to study Antarctica’s huge and remote Thwaites glacier, which is in West Antarctica and is viewed as the largest risk to coastlines in this century.

The situations of Thwaites and Wilkes are eerily similar – both feature enormous amounts of ice resting on the seafloor, rather than on land, and downward slopes that create what scientists call a “marine ice sheet instability.” And both contain enough ice to unlock 10 feet or more of sea-level rise.

Thwaites is “sitting in a very unfortunate spot . . . resting over some of the deepest bedrock in West Antarctica,” Ted Scambos, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, said at a planning event at Columbia University on Wednesday.

The new study suggests that Thwaites is the beginning, not the end, of our worries. One key difference, though, is that Thwaites is already losing 50 billion tons of ice per year, whereas the Wilkes region appears to be relatively unchanged for now, according to Wilson.

But it may simply be that while the world is already warm enough to awaken West Antarctica, just a bit more warmth will cause the same to happen to parts of the much larger East Antarctic ice sheet. That would not only explain a lot about the link between past sea levels and past temperatures in Earth’s history – it would further illuminate the future we’re heading toward.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang Dead At 61: State Media


Tran Dai Quang’s role as president was seen as largely ceremonial.

Hanoi, Vietnam: 

Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang died Friday at age 61 after a prolonged and serious illness, state media reported.

He passed away from a “serious illness despite devoted treatment by professors and doctors” both in Vietnam and abroad, the official Vietnam News Agency said.

In office as president since April 2016 after more than four decades at the powerful Ministry of Public Security, Quang had a reputation as a tough leader with little tolerance for dissent.

Though he held one of the country’s top four positions and was officially the head of state, his role as president was seen as largely ceremonial, greeting visiting leaders and hosting diplomatic events in a bid to boost Vietnam’s profile on the world stage.

Quang had appeared thin and pale in public, and was unstable on his feet last week when he hosted a welcoming ceremony for Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Hanoi last week.

His last public appearance was just two days ago, at a meeting with visiting Chinese politicians and foreign dignitaries in Hanoi.

Quang, a member of the Politburo, had a reputation as tough and influential in the inner circles of the communist party, though often appeared uncomfortable in the public eye and lacked the charisma of some of his peers in the upper echelons of the party.

In an interview with AFP in 2016 ahead of a visit by the former French leader Francois Hollande, Quang read from a prepared statement and was quickly escorted from the room by staff when a question went off-script.

State media made a somber announcement of his death Friday and celebrated his long commitment to public service.

His time in office was dominated by a simmering conflict with Beijing over the South China Sea, a long-running dispute between the communist neighbours that escalated on several occasions.

Vietnam cancelled at least one oil drilling project in the resource-rich region during Quang’s tenure in an apparent bid to quell tensions.

He was the administration’s most public face at a series of high-profile events, most notably at an APEC meeting in Danang in November last year where he hosted a bevy of world leaders — including US President Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jinping.

As president, he oversaw a crackdown on dissidents that rights groups have decried as a chokehold on free expression. More than 40 people were jailed this year and some 100 have been behind bars as of April 2018, according to Amnesty International.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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Trump Treads Carefully Around Sex Assault Accusations On Top Court Pick


At a rally in Las Vegas, Trump offered words of praise for Kavanaugh. (Reuters)

Las Vegas: 

U.S. President Donald Trump gave a full-throated endorsement to his embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Thursday and tip-toed carefully around the sexual assault accusations that are facing him.

At a rally in Las Vegas, Trump appeared with Republican U.S. Senator Dean Heller of Nevada and offered strong support for him in his tough re-election battle against Democrat Jackie Rosen in November congressional elections.

But perhaps more significantly were his words of praise for Kavanaugh, who is battling accusations from a California psychology professor that he assaulted her 36 years ago when both were high school students in the Washington DC area.

The accusations from Christine Blasey Ford, denied vehemently by Kavanaugh, threaten to slow his Senate confirmation vote, with Democrats saying the FBI should investigate the charges, a demand that is not gaining traction among Republicans.

“Brett Kavanaugh, and I’m not saying anything about anybody else, Brett Kavanaugh is one of the finest human beings you will ever have the privilege of knowing or meeting,” Trump said.

Trump, steering clear of criticizing Ford on the advice of aides, predicted Kavanaugh will ultimately be confirmed.

“So we’ll let it play out, and I think everything is going to be just fine. This is a high quality person,” he said.

The crowd at the Las Vegas Convention Center roared its approval.

Speaking to Fox News anchor Sean Hannity prior to the rally, Trump addressed the Democrats’ demand for an FBI probe into the Kavanaugh accusations, questioning why the FBI was not notified “36 years ago” when the incident allegedly occurred.

Las Vegas was the first stop on a week-long trip away from Washington for the president. He will headline at political events in Springfield, Missouri, on Friday, spend the weekend at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, then go to New York for the U.N. General Assembly.

With Republicans fearful that Democrats could wrest control of the U.S. House of Representatives and even the Senate from them in November elections, Trump urged his supporters to get out and vote for the party’s candidates, saying the economic measures he has put in place could be hanging in the balance.

© Thomson Reuters 2018

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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Infosys Hiring 1,000 American Techies In Arizona


Bengaluru: 

Indian software major Infosys on Friday announced hiring 1,000 Americans in Arizona state as part of its commitment to employ 10,000 natives to bridge the IT skills gap in the US by 2023.

“We are hiring 1,000 American workers and opening our next technology-cum-innovation hub in the state of Arizona,” said the city-based company in a statement.

The announcement reinforces the IT major’s May 2017 commitment to hire 10,000 Americans and open technology-cum-innovation hubs across the US by 2023.

“We have hired 5,874 American workers as part of the commitment,” the statement said.

“Investment in Arizona is part of our commitment to accelerate innovation for American enterprise by tapping local talent and shrinking the IT skills gap in the marketplace.”



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Nikki Haley Slams Wrong New York Times Story On Expensive Curtains


US State Department spent $52,701 on customised and mechanised curtains for Nikki Haley (File)

Washington: 

Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, on Thursday slammed The New York Times for publishing a wrong story about expensive curtains at her official residence despite knowing the facts.

Last week the The New York Times alleged that the US State Department spent about $52,701 last year on customised and mechanised curtains for the official residence of Ms Haley at a time when the department was undergoing deep budget cuts and had frozen hiring.

The report had said that Ms Haley is the first US ambassador to live in the residence, located in a new building just blocks away from the UN headquarters.

“I hadn’t even taken the job when these curtains were picked out. And so, the idea that this came out, we told the reporters that these were the facts. They knew the facts and they released the story anyway,” Ms Haley told Fox News in an interview on Thursday.

Ms Haley, 46, is the highest ranking Indian-American in the Donald Trump administration.

Ms Haley said that every where she went she was asked about the curtains.

“All last weekend, every day wherever I went, people were asking me about my curtains. The damage is done once the story is out. I appreciate the retraction but that story follows you everywhere you go. But that’s the tough part about public life now,” she said.

The original version of the story was titled “Nikki Haley’s View of New York is Priceless. Her Curtains? USD52,701.”

The daily later said that the headline and the story gave an incorrect impression.

“An earlier version of this article and headline created an unfair impression about who was responsible for the purchase in question,” the daily said a day later.

“The article should not have focused on Ms Haley, nor should a picture of her have been used,” the New York Times said.

The headline was a later changed to “State Department Spent USD52,701 on Curtains for Nikki Haley’s Residence.”
 



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Google Defends Gmail Data Sharing, Gives Few Details On Violations


Gmail, used by 1.4 billion people, is not the only Google service drawing lawmaker questions.

WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO: 

Alphabet Inc’s Google gave details about its policies for third-party Gmail add-ons but stopped short of fully addressing questions from U.S. senators about developers who break its email-scanning rules.

How user data flows between big technology platforms such as Google and Facebook Inc and their partners has faced scrutiny around the world this year since Facebook revealed it had done little to monitor such relationships.

Google said in a letter to U.S. senators made public on Thursday that it relies on automated scans and reports from security researchers to monitor add-ons after launch, but did not respond to lawmakers’ request to say how many have been caught violating the company’s policies.

Senators may seek further clarity on Gmail’s operations at a Commerce Committee hearing about privacy practices scheduled for Sept. 26 with officials from Google, Apple Inc, AT&T Inc and Twitter Inc.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Gmail users must give their consent to activate extensions, which can help them send emails on a time delay, get price-match rebates from retailers and remove unwanted mailing lists.

Under Google’s policies, software firms that create these add-ons must inform users about how they collect and share Gmail data

The lawmakers’ inquiry came after the Wall Street Journal reported in July that some add-on makers did not make clear to users that their employees could review Gmail messages and that their data could be shared with additional parties.

Software experts told Reuters in March that auditing of apps that interact with Gmail, Facebook and other services is lax.

To be sure, sharing with a fourth party is essential to the functioning of some add-ons. For instance, a trip-planning app may scan a users’ email for upcoming flight details and then use the data to query an airline for updated departure information.

Google told senators it has suspended apps due to “a lack of transparency to users,” without identifying violators or when enforcement actions took place.

Gmail, used by 1.4 billion people, is not the only Google service drawing lawmaker questions about oversight.

House lawmakers asked Google in a separate letter in July whether smartphones with its voice assistant tool can or do collect so-called “non-triggered” audio in order to recognise phrases like “Okay Google” that activate voice controls.

The lawmakers cited media reports and said there had been suggestions that third-party applications have access to and use this non-triggered data without disclosure to users.

© Thomson Reuters 2018

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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Myanmar Not Listening To Us: US On Rohingya Crisis


Nikki Haley restated her position on Aung San Suu Kyi’s response at the World Economic Forum (File)

New York: 

A few days at the United Nations Headquarters in New York and anyone would tell you the two most prominent voices are that of the Secretary General Antonio Guterres and US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley.  As both briefed the media on Thursday ahead of what is the most important week of the United Nations, one got a preview of what position the ‘parliament of humanity’, the UN,  is likely to take against Myanmar.

The Secretary General weighed in on the arrest and sentencing of two Reuters journalists in Myanmar saying, “It is not acceptable to have the journalists of Reuters in jail for what they were doing. It is my deep belief that should not happen and I hope that the Government will be able to provide a pardon to release them as quickly as possible.”

Nikki Haley restated her position on Aung San Suu Kyi’s response at the World Economic Forum discussion earlier on the arrest and sentencing of two Reuters reporters in Myanmar.

 ”We have to figure out how we are going to bring back the Rohingyas to Burma in a way that is safe. I don’t think the government has done enough; the military has not accepted responsibility. The fact that Aung San Suu Kyi basically acknowledged the fact that the reporters were right to be detained and imprisoned is a real problem, and so we have a communication problem. What they are saying no one understands and what we are saying they are not listening to. At some point the international community has to speak in one voice and not be okay with them being in Bangladesh,” she said.

The two reporters were investigating the killing of Rohingyas by the military last August. Ms Suu Kyi said at a forum in Hanoi last week that the case had nothing to do with freedom of expression. She said the reporters were sentenced for handling official secrets and “were not jailed because they were journalists.”

Both the Secretary General (Guterres) and the US Ambassador to the UN confirmed further developments that are all set to put pressure on Myanmar over the Rohingya crisis.

Ms Haley called the crisis a ‘hot topic’ and revealed that she would be taking active part in a high level meeting during the UNGA on the issue.

 ”I’m personally going to be in a ministerial meeting hosted by the UK on the status of the Rohingyas. It will have multiple international counterparts and that is a hot topic right now”

 The Secretary General also confirmed that the International Criminal Court (ICC) will take up the case. Since the UN and the ICC work together yet independently, the process could see Myanmar cornered and liable to proving its case on the international stage.

 ”There was an initiative already by Bangladesh in relation to the ICC. So, the question is already on the table. And, as far as I understand, the ICC has recognized its capacity to deal with the issue. So, I think that this is already on course”.

India has 40,000 Rohingya refugees and senior ministers in the Modi government have said they will be deported.



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'Fat' Traces Confirm Weird Fossils Were Earliest Animals


Washington, United States: 

A strange fossil that looks a bit like a giant leaf, or a fingerprint the size of a coffee table, has intrigued scientists for decades.

Thousands of the fossils have been found over the past seven decades, revealing that it lived at the bottom of the ocean, without a mouth, intestines or anus, half a billion years ago.

Was it a mossy plant? A giant single-celled amoeba? A failed experiment of evolution? Or the earliest animal on Earth?

After digging one of these fossils off a cliff in Russia and analyzing its contents, researchers discovered molecules of cholesterol, a type of fat.

This confirms that the creature, known as Dickinsonia, is the Earth’s earliest known animal, said the report Thursday in the journal Science.

“Scientists have been fighting for more than 75 years” over the nature of these “bizarre fossils,” said associate professor Jochen Brocks from the Australian National University Research School of Earth Sciences.

“The fossil fat now confirms Dickinsonia as the oldest known animal fossil, solving a decades-old mystery that has been the Holy Grail of paleontology.”

Edge of cliff

Dickinsonia contained rib-like segments the length of its oval-shaped body, which came in a variety of sizes and could grow as large as 4.6 feet (1.4 meters).

The analysis showed the animals were abundant 558 million years ago, millions of years earlier than previously thought, according to Brocks.

The creature was part of the Ediacara Biota that lived on Earth during a time when bacteria reigned, 542-635 million years ago.

The Edicarian Period was about 20 million years prior to emergence of modern animal life — a period known as the Cambrian explosion.

“The question has been, is that real? Is that an event that happened in Earth history? Or have we just not found the older fossils?” David Gold, geobiologist and assistant professor at the University of California, told AFP.

“This paper is another really good line of evidence to support the idea that it is in fact an animal, and that animals are much older than the Cambrian.”

Dickinsonia could be an ancestor of “many forms of animal life today” including worms and insects, added Gold, who was not part of the current study.

Scientists had a difficult time finding Dickinsonia fossils with organic matter still attached.

Many of the known fossils were in Australia, and had been exposed to too many elements over many millions of years.

The fossil for the current study came from cliffs near the White Sea in the northwest of Russia.

“I took a helicopter to reach this very remote part of the world — home to bears and mosquitoes — where I could find Dickinsonia fossils with organic matter still intact,” said Ilya Bobrovskiy, a doctoral researcher at ANU.

“These fossils were located in the middle of cliffs of the White Sea that are 60 to 100 meters high. I had to hang over the edge of a cliff on ropes and dig out huge blocks of sandstone, throw them down, wash the sandstone and repeat this process until I found the fossils I was after.”

Worm ancestor?

Other researchers have previously claimed to have solved the mystery of the oddball animal.

In September 2017, British researchers said they were certain it was an animal, based on a study of multiple fossils.

Another team of researchers, including Gold, also concluded in 2015 that it was a relatively advanced type of animal because of the way its body grew differently than plants or mushrooms.

While the matter wasn’t entirely settled, paleobiologist Doug Erwin said: “I think the consensus among the majority of people who have worked on these fossils for the last decade or so has been they’re somehow related to animals.”

The Australian team “tries to make it more of a controversy than I think is in fact the case. The paper is still a good paper,” he told AFP.

“This is a new line of evidence which is certainly welcome.”

In that sense, the report represents the first time that biomarkers have been used to determine that a fossil from the Edicarian Period is an animal instead of something else.

“It’s part of a renaissance in the field in paleontology,” said Gold.

“We’re discovering, as our tools and technologies get better and better, we’re finding that actually there are all sorts of organic matter — proteins, fats, different carbon compounds — things that we didn’t think could survive for such a long period of time,” he added.

“Because of that we can find things like preserved pigments to see the colors of dinosaurs, or in this case, the cholesterol content of 500-million-year-old fossil.”

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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US Student Charged With Trying To Steal Airbus Plane At Orlando Airport


Nishal Sankat, 22, had a commercial pilot’s license but was not qualified to fly the aircraft.

A 22-year-old student was charged on Thursday with trying to steal a passenger jet at an Orlando airport, where he jumped a fence and boarded the aircraft but was quickly detained, officials said.

The Florida Institute of Technology student had a commercial pilot’s license but was not qualified to fly the aircraft, an Airbus 321, Orlando Melbourne International Airport spokeswoman Lori Booker told reporters. He did not manage to get the plane moving.

“There is no evidence to indicate a connection to terrorism,” Melbourne Police Chief David Gillespie said at a news conference.

The man’s motive was unknown, Gillespie said, after police searched his home and vehicle and found no weapons or explosives. He did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol.

The man, identified as Nishal Sankat, had parked his car about 150 yards (140 metres) from the plane early on Thursday and kept it running before jumping the airport fence, Booker said. After he reached the flight deck of the plane, two technicians and two security guards detained him before he could attempt to start the aircraft.

“We are pretty proud of the security success that we had,” Booker said. “Within two minutes, not only was he challenged, stopped, detained and arrested, but we prevented much further from happening.”

The American Airlines plane was at a maintenance facility for the installation of broadband WiFi, a spokeswoman for the airline said in an email.

The incident occurred a little over a month after an airline worker stole an empty passenger airplane from Seattle’s airport and crashed it into a nearby sparsely populated island.

Sankat was charged in Florida state court with attempted theft of an aircraft, burglary and criminal trespassing, Renee Purden, chief of police for the Orlando Melbourne International Airport told reporters.

He is a dual citizen of Canada and Trinidad and Tobago with no criminal history, Gillespie said. It was not immediately clear if Sankat had obtained an attorney.

Two flights were delayed at the airport due to the security breach, the airport said on social media.

A representative for the FBI could not immediately be reached for comment.

Sankat’s Facebook page said he was studying aviation management. The page also had a number of aviation-related photos, including the wreckage of a World War Two-era fighter plane in muddy ground.

© Thomson Reuters 2018

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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US Hits China With Sanctions For Buying Russian Jets, Missiles


China purchased Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 surface-to-air missiles from Russia

Washington: 

The United States hit a Chinese military organisation with punishing financial sanctions for buying Russian fighter jets and missiles as it stepped up pressure on Moscow over its “malign activities.”

It was the first time the Trump administration targeted a third country with its CAATSA sanctions, designed to punish Russia for its seizure of Crimea and other activities.

The US State Department said it was applying the 2017 legislation against the Equipment Development Department of the Chinese Ministry of Defense for its purchase of Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 surface-to-air missiles.

At the same time, the State Department also announced it was placing 33 Russian intelligence and military-linked actors on its sanctions blacklist under the CAATSA rules.

“The ultimate target of these sanctions is Russia,” a senior administration official told journalists, insisting on anonymity.

“CAATSA sanctions in this context are not intended to undermine the defense capabilities of any particular country. They are aimed at imposing costs on Russia in response to its malign activities.”

CAATSA, or the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, was passed in 2017 as a tool that gives the Trump administration more ways to target Russia, Iran and North Korea with economic and political sanctions.

With regard to Russia, CAATSA arises from the country’s “aggression in Ukraine, annexation of Crimea, cyber intrusions and attacks, interference in the 2016 elections, and other malign activities,” the State Department said.

“We will continue to vigorously implement CAATSA and urge all countries to curtail relationships with Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors, both of which are linked to malign activities worldwide,” it said.

The senior official said EDD and its director, Li Shangfu, were hit with sanctions because of the purchases made from Rosoboronexport, Russia’s main arms export entity already on the CAATSA blacklist for its support of the Assad regime in Syria.

The sanctions freeze any of EDD’s and Li’s assets in US jurisdictions.

They restrict EDD’s access to global financial markets by blocking foreign exchange transactions under US jurisdiction or any transactions in the US financial system.

The Russians named for CAATSA blacklisting have all been named previously under other US sanctions regimes. They include private paramilitary contractor PMC Wagner, and Russian Defense Ministry procurement group Oboronlogistika, and KNAAP, Russia’s largest aircraft manufacturer.

They also include 25 Russians and three Russian companies who were indicted over the past year by Russia collusion investigator Robert Mueller for their involvement in political meddling and hacking during the 2016 election.

In addition, the chief of the Russian military intelligence body GRU, Igor Korobov, and deputy chief Sergey Gizunov, were also hit with the CAATSA sanctions.
 

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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One Of World's Largest Bells Unveiled In Poland


The bell is made from copper and tin and will be activated by four engines. (AFP)

Warsaw, Poland: 

One of the largest swinging bells in the world, weighing 55 tons (7,850 stone), was unveiled in the Polish city of Krakow on Thursday ahead of being installed at a major pilgrimage site in Brazil.

The “Vox Patris” bell, four metres (13 feet) in height and 4.5 metres in diameter, will eventually be housed in the Basilica of the Eternal Father in the city of Trindade in central Brazil, owner Piotr Olszewski said.

Made from copper and tin, it will be activated by four engines, and once installed will be part of a tower 100 metres high, he added.

“The preparations and tests lasted almost four years,” Olszewski told reporters, acknowledging that the first casting at the Metalodlew foundry in Krakow had been a failure.

“The mold did not hold, micro-cracks appeared which caused leaks,” he explained.

“It was necessary to start all over again, but the second attempt was successful.”

The challenge now is to transport the giant bell to Brazil by boat — a journey expected to take a year.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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Seven People, Including Children, Shot In New York: Reports


At least 10 shots werefired in the shooting in downtown Syracuse in New York (Representational)

Emergency services in Syracuse, New York said on Thursday they were responding to reports of a shooting of up to seven people, including children.

The Syracuse Firefighters union reported seven victims from the shooting on the city’s Midland Avenue, according to a Facebook post.

A spokesman for the Syracuse Police Department said no other information was immediately available on the incident, which took place shortly after 9 p.m. eastern time.

News website Syracuse.com reported that the shooting took place at a family gathering to mark the death of a person who died of cancer earlier on Thursday.

The website said ambulances were seen driving away from the scene with a police escort at about 9:15 p.m.

The website said that at least 10 shots had been fired in the shooting in downtown Syracuse, about 250 miles (402 km)northwest of New York City.

© Thomson Reuters 2018

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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Saudi Court Orders Man To Allow His Daughter A Passport


The 24-year-old woman had asked the court to remove her father’s role as guardian. (Representational)

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: 

A Saudi court has ruled in favour of a woman whose father refused to allow her to have a passport, local media reported Thursday, sending ripples in the kingdom which has long held to its male guardianship system.

The 24-year-old woman from the western city of Jeddah, whose name was not given, had asked the court to remove her father’s role as guardian after he refused to take the necessary steps to obtain a passport for her to study abroad, according to the pro-government daily Okaz and other Saudi media outlets.

The traditional Saudi system obliges women to obtain the permission of their closest male relative for many decisions, including travelling and marrying.

The Saudi court ordered the plaintiff’s father to provide her with a passport, according to the media reports, which did not say when the unusual ruling was made.

According to the Okaz daily, the young woman in question lives with her mother and has not seen her father for six years.

The ultra-conservative kingdom has in recent months initiated a string of social reforms which have slightly loosened the restrictions on women, including allowing them to drive cars, attend football matches and enter areas of employment previously reserved for men, such as notarial work.

Its part of the country’s wide-ranging “Vision 2030” programme, approved in April 2016, which also includes privatising part of oil giant Aramco and creating a $2 trillion sovereign wealth fund.

As well as elevating the role of women in the workforce, the programme also foresees massive investment in the underdeveloped entertainment sector to boost domestic spending.

The court’s decision provoked numerous reactions on social media.

“I’m surprised at the contradictions in the system,” one Saudi woman tweeted.

“Finally the father is obliged to order a passport despite himself. Why aren’t women allowed to obtain their own passports without this waste of time and all this hassle?” another asked.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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Amazon's Alexa Is Coming For Your Microwave, Wall Clock And More


Amazon is adding Alexa to to a microwave, a wall clock, a wall plug, cars and more.

Will it soon feel normal to say, “Alexa, microwave one bag of popcorn”?

Amazon.com unveiled some 70 new devices and capabilities for its Alexa product line at its Seattle headquarters Thursday. Like a rebooted Sharper Image catalogue, Amazon is adding its talking artificial intelligence to a microwave, a wall clock, a wall plug, cars and more.

The new gadgets all hook into the Internet, take voice commands – and make the online retail giant even more central to home life. The question is: Will families see these connected devices as conveniences, new complications – or spies?

(Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos also owns The Washington Post.)

Amazon’s goal is to assert leadership over Google and Apple in the still-nascent market for smart-home tech, with everyday appliances connecting to the Internet to automate operations – and gather all sorts of data on our lives. The upside for consumers is that connected appliances can work together and be simpler to operate via voice. At least in theory.

For example, Amazon’s new Echo wall clock ($30) shows a visual representation of timers set via Alexa – and automatically updates its analog hands for daylight saving time. The new Amazon Smart Plug ($25) lets you switch lights, coffee makers and other analog devices on or off through voice commands or automated routines.

David Limp, senior vice president of devices and services at Amazon.com, presents the Amazon Echo Wall Clock in Seattle on Thursday.

Many of Amazon’s efforts are focused on the kitchen, where voice commands can be most useful and screens are an annoyance to hands covered in cookie dough. The countertop AmazonBasics Microwave ($60), takes voice commands to cook things that might otherwise be complicated. In one demonstration, I asked Alexa to cook one potato and the microwave started itself for 6 minutes and 34 seconds. (I still had to put the potato in the oven myself.)

The upside: I didn’t have to look up how long to cook a potato. The downside: Amazon will now have a record of every time a family with this microwave cooks a potato. And Alexa didn’t understand when I said “Microwave a potato” – instead, I had to say “Microwave one potato.” (A company rep said that’s a bug that would be fixed before it ships later this year.)

Amazon is setting the stage, perhaps, for the tech to simplify dinner prep with ingredients purchased from Amazon, which bought grocer Whole Foods last year. In another demo, the company showed how its redesigned Echo Show ($230), a speaker with a screen, can walk you through the steps – hands-free – to make a meal kit it sells. A microwave or oven that knows exactly when and how to cook different parts of your meal can’t be far away.

Amazon’s efforts to simplify complex things with voice commands haven’t always panned out. The Fire TV Cube, a TV streaming box it began selling earlier this year, promised to, in part, replace a complicated remote control with Alexa. But in my tests, Alexa wasn’t totally up to the task.

Not all of Amazon’s new devices have their own microphones. Instead, you command them via a nearby Amazon Echo speaker. Amazon unveiled new versions of those, too. A redesign of its hockey-puck-shaped Echo Dot speaker ($50) appeared to be significantly louder in a demonstration. There’s also a new Echo subwoofer ($130) that pairs with other Echo speakers, posing a challenge to connected speaker devices.

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An AmazonBasics Microwave sits on display during an unveiling event at the Amazon.com Spheres headquarters in Seattle.

A new device called Echo Auto, available for now just by invitation, adds talking Alexa capabilities to cars. It connects to the Internet via a nearby phone and allows Alexa to do things such as give directions that require knowledge of its location.

There was one noticeable absence amid Amazon’s announcements and bragging about the growing intelligence of Alexa – any discussion of privacy and security. Amazon has buttons on all its Echo devices that cut off their microphones’ ability to record. But earlier this year, Amazon got a very public black eye when a family caught one of its speakers recording its conversations and sending the recording to a friend. Amazon said the incident was a random misunderstanding on the part of Alexa.

Amazon’s goal is not only to sell its own Alexa-enabled devices but also to get it built into other devices, from thermostats to toilets. (Yes, toilets.) What is Amazon doing to make sure all those other gadgets handle our data appropriately?

Amazon’s strategy for the holiday shopping season puts the emphasis on low prices and new twists on everyday items. That’s distinct from rivals such as Apple and Samsung, which have unveiled subtly improved – and expensive – new phones, tablets and smartwatches.

But in the competitive smart-speaker market Amazon created, the retail giant has lately been lagging. According to the research firm Strategy Analytics, Google’s Home Mini was the world’s best-selling smart speaker in the second quarter, followed closely by the Echo Dot. Google is expected to unveil its new offerings at an event on Oct. 9.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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US Cop Reportedly Makes Racist Remarks, Faces Calls To Resign


Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino was reportedly taped making unsavory remarks.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday denounced an audio recording in which the sheriff of the state’s most populous county reportedly made racist remarks about blacks as well as the state’s Sikh attorney general, calling the remarks appalling.

NPR affiliate WNYC published comments from a secret taping it said it had obtained of Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino, who is white, making unsavory remarks after the January inauguration of Murphy, a Democrat who succeeded Republican Chris Christie.

The station said that Saudino is heard talking to colleagues about Murphy’s speech.

“He talked about the whole thing, the marijuana, sanctuary state … better criminal justice reform,” he says of the governor. “Christ almighty, in other words let the blacks come in, do whatever … they want, smoke their marijuana, do this, do that, and don’t worry about it. You know, we’ll tie the hands of cops.”

Later Saudino says that Gurbir Grewal, the first Sikh attorney general in the country, was appointed by Murphy solely because of his religion.

“He didn’t do that to help Bergen County, he did that because of the Turban,” he says.

The Washington Post was not able to independently verify that Saudino was the one speaking on the audio files that WNYC published. His office did not respond to a request for comment.

Murphy said in a statement that “anyone using racist, homophobic, and hateful language is unfit for public office.”

“If indeed that is Sheriff Saudino’s voice on the recording, he must resign,” he said.

Saudino, who switched parties to become a Democrat in 2016 after running as a Republican previously, will be up for reelection next year, WNYC reported.

Grewal told WNYC that he has worked with Saudino for two years and that he was surprised by the remarks.

“If that’s in fact Sheriff Saudino’s voice, then he should resign immediately,” he wrote on Twitter. “I’ve got thick skin and I’ve been called far worse. But the comments about the African-American community are wrong, racist, and hurtful. The comments about our Lieutenant Governor are inappropriate and homophobic. New Jersey and Bergen County deserve better.”

Earlier this year, two hosts of a conservative-leaning radio show in New Jersey were suspended after making fun of Grewal’s turban, saying that they didn’t remember his name and preferred to call him, “Turban man.”

In the recording, Saudino also wonders about the sexuality of the state’s lieutenant governor, Sheila Oliver, who is unmarried.

“Is she gay?” he asks, according to WNYC. “Because she’s never been married.”

“Obviously the sheriff is a relic of an era gone by,” Oliver said, according to WNYC. “Diversity and inclusion should be top priorities for him as a law enforcement official in a county such as Bergen – how ignorant.”

There are nearly 1 million residents in Bergen County, about 20 percent of whom are Latino, 17 percent Asian and 7 percent black, according to Census figures cited by WNYC.

Before he was Sheriff of the county, Saudino was the police chief of Emerson, a predominantly white borough in the state, WNYC reported.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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Man Mocked For Shaving On Train Gets Money, Job Offers And Dignity Back


A passenger on the train took a video of Anthony Torres shaving and posted it to social media.

Anthony Torres, the man who was mocked across the Internet for lathering up and shaving on a New Jersey train, says he has gotten several offers for job interviews – including, perhaps fittingly, from New Jersey Transit.

Torres told The Washington Post that he is not able to work because of medical conditions, including pneumonia and a work-related injury from several years ago. But he has been touched by the invitations.

“I fee so happy, I feel like a new man,” said Torres, 56.

His turn of fortune has been swift and decisive, as he went from being a homeless man who was a laughingstock last week to today having more than $38,000 in donations from GoFundMe – and the roaring support of the Internet, which felt a collective shame for briefly kicking a man when he was down.

“Before, I was scared to show my face,” he said.

New Jersey Transit declined to confirm the offer to interview Torres for a job, saying, “We don’t comment on prospective employees.”

In the weeks before that train ride, Torres said, he slept in homeless shelters and beneath bridges. He was mugged and scared. He phoned one of his brothers for help, and the brother sent Torres money for a train ticket to visit another brother.

On the New Jersey Transit train out of Penn Station, Torres said, he felt hungry, dirty and downtrodden. He wanted to clean up to look presentable for his brother’s family. So he pulled out his razor on the train.

Another passenger on the train took a video of Torres shaving and posted it to social media, where it was viewed more than three million times in the first few days. The reaction was quick, with tens of thousands of negative comments, many of them unsparing. People called him gross, an animal and worse.

When a niece showed Torres the video, he was embarrassed. He told his family he’d never ride a train again.

But then the tide started to turn. People started defending him and telling the haters to back away. Soon, there were more people sticking up for him than shaming him. Jordan Uhl of Washington, District of Columbia, started the GoFundMe page that raised more than $38,000 for Torres in two days.

Torres welcomes the help and says he’s glad he’s no longer being publicly ridiculed.

“Now people know the real story,” he said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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Amid US Mid-Term Polls, Facebook Expands Fake Election News Fight


Facebook Inc has come under intense pressure to combat propaganda, fake news (Reuters)

SAN FRANCISCO: 

Facebook Inc on Wednesday said it would team with two U.S. non-profits to slow the global spread of misinformation that could influence elections, acknowledging that fake news sites were still read by millions.

The largest social network, under intense pressure to combat propaganda, said it would work abroad with the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute, created in the 1980s and funded by the U.S. government to promote democratic processes. The institutes have informal ties to their namesake U.S. parties.

The partnerships, disclosed by company executives on a call with reporters, were among a slew of announcements from Facebook on election integrity ahead of major contests in Brazil next month and the United States in November.

As the company prepares a “war room” that will launch for Brazil’s vote, Facebook executives said that they had been testing the social network’s resilience with simulations of attempted manipulation such as election-eve efforts to suppress voting with false claims about ballot procedures.

Another training exercise looked at how the company would handle a burst of pages administered in other countries suddenly promoting material related to the U.S. election.

Even as Facebook ran exercises, an article published Wednesday by the Facebook-supported Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Atlantic Council found that of the four most popular articles being shared recently in Brazil about corruption, three were false.

“We know that there’s a lot more to do,” Facebook News Feed manager Greg Marra said when asked about the Brazil falsehoods.

Executives gave few new details about the malicious propaganda they have detected, touting previously disclosed measures including a partnership with Fatima, a fact-checking organisation in Brazil, and the removal of networks of “inauthentic” pages backed by Russia, Iran and others.

As a sign of success, they pointed to research released on Friday that Facebook users have been interacting only half as often with 570 sites flagged as spreading misinformation since the 2016 U.S. election, while Twitter use of such sites grew.

Improvements at Facebook might have been driven by changes to formulas, including the increased emphasis on postings by family and friends and reduced spread of so called “click-bait,” advertising-heavy news headlines, the researchers from Stanford University and New York University said.

But the fake sites still are widely viewed. “Even after the sharp drop following the election, Facebook engagements of fake news sites still average roughly 70 million per month,” 15 times the engagements from Twitter, the research concluded.

Republican Institute Senior Advisor Amy Studdart said details of cooperation with Facebook were still being worked out, but the group intends to help Facebook employees “understand how their platform is being used on the ground all around the world.”

© Thomson Reuters 2018

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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3 Dead, 2 Injured After Woman Opens Fire In Maryland


Police block off roads after an unidentified assailant opened fire at a warehouse complex in US (AFP)

Washington: 

An unidentified assailant opened fire Thursday at a warehouse complex north of Baltimore, killing and wounding multiple people in the latest US mass shooting, authorities said.

There were reports that the incident was a rare mass shooting by a woman, but police would not confirm the gender of the attacker, merely reporting that they were in a critical condition at a local hospital.   

“I can confirm multiple wounded and multiple fatalities,” Jeffrey Gahler, the sheriff of Harford County, Maryland, told reporters.

US media said three people were killed and two others wounded in the incident, which unfolded around 9:00 am (1300 GMT) at a distribution center for the Rite Aid drugstore chain.

Johns Hopkins Bayview Hospital spokesman Raymond Fang said four adults had been brought in with gunshot wounds, according to local station WBAL-TV. Other victims were taken to Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware, it said.

“The lone suspect in this incident is in custody and in critical condition at a local hospital,” Gahler said.

The shooting reportedly occurred in a warehouse in Baltimore.

He said the assailant was apparently armed with a single handgun “and no shots (were) fired by any officers responding to the scene” — most likely indicating that the shooter’s injuries were self-inflicted.

“We do not believe there is an additional threat anywhere to the Harford County community,” Gahler added.

Police, firefighters and other emergency responders arrived within minutes of receiving a call at 9:06 am.

‘Completely bombarded’

“We got completely bombarded by — I’m not exaggerating — 20-30 cops, and then ambulances and everything started pouring in,” one man told WBAL-TV.

“At that point, they blocked us in and we tried to turn around,” he said. “They’re telling us that there is an active shooter.”

David Graf, a local businessman, said police “have the whole area blocked off. We’ve not been able to get in or out. We have our businesses locked down, so we’re closed. There’s not any way to get out of the area.”

Deadly shootings are common in the United States, where the right to bear arms is protected by the US constitution.

The incident is the latest in an epidemic of gun violence that has struck schools and workplaces almost at random across the United States.

Attacks by women are extremely rare, however, accounting for less than five percent of the total, according to law enforcement officials and academics.    

Thursday’s attack came five months after an Iran-born female animal rights activist gunned down three people before killing herself at YouTube’s California headquarters.

Maryland made grim headlines around the world in June when five employees of Capital-Gazette newspapers died after a gunman stormed their Annapolis office.

The man police say is responsible had harassed the newspapers’ employees for years over an article about criminal stalking charges against him, the Baltimore Sun reported.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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India Hails Inter-Korean Summit, Says Will Pave Way For Lasting Peace


India has pressed for probe into North Korea’s nuclear proliferation links with Pakistan. (File)

New Delhi: 

India on Thursday hailed the inter-Korean Summit and said such engagement will help in paving the way for lasting peace in the Korean Peninsula and address its concerns about proliferation linkages extending to India’s neighbourhood.

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in visited the spiritual birthplace of the Korean nation on Thursday for a show of unity on the final day of the North-South summit.

The North Korean leader on Wednesday had agreed to make a historic visit to Seoul soon and close a missile testing site in front of international inspectors.

“India welcomes the just concluded inter-Korean Summit meeting held in Pyongyang on September 18-20, 2018. India has been constantly supportive of all such efforts to bring about peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and diplomacy,” a Ministry of External Affairs statement said.

“We hope that such continued engagement will help in reducing tensions and pave the way for lasting peace and reconciliation in the Korean Peninsula and also address our concerns about proliferation linkages extending to India’s neighbourhood,” it said in an apparent reference to North Korea’s nuclear proliferation linkages with Pakistan.

India has been pressing for a probe into North Korea’s nuclear proliferation linkages with Pakistan. 



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Several Shot At In Maryland, Day After Attack In Pennsylvania


A man entered a Pennsylvania court building and shot and wounded 4 people, A day ago. (File)

Several people were shot on Thursday in Perryman, Maryland, near an Army facility, according to authorities.

It was not immediately clear whether anyone had been killed, and details of the incident remained largely unknown as of 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT).

“The situation is still fluid,” the Harford County Sheriff’s Office wrote on Twitter, adding that officers were dispatched to the incident shortly after 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT). The sheriff’s office said it would brief reporters around 11:45 a.m. (1545 GMT).

Agents from the Baltimore offices of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the FBI were also responding, the agencies said.

Perryman is 34 miles (55 km) northeast of Baltimore. The area of the reported shooting includes a church and a business district. It is a few miles from the Aberdeen Proving Ground, a large Army facility where military technology is developed and tested, according to Harford County’s website.

A witness told NBC’s affiliate in Baltimore that the shooting appeared to have occurred at a Rite Aid distribution center.

“There’s a lot of police activity and ambulances and fire engines,” David Graf, an employee at a nearby local automotive repair shop that was on lockdown, told WBAL. “There’s not any way to get out of the area, so I can only imagine there’s still someone they’re searching for.”

Governor Larry Hogan said his office was “closely monitoring the horrific shooting.”

“Our prayers are with all those impacted, including our first responders,” Hogan wrote on Twitter. “The State stands ready to offer any support.”

The shooting occurred a day after a man shot and wounded four people, including a police officer, at a Pennsylvania court building before he was killed by police, according to Pennsylvania State Police.

© Thomson Reuters 2018

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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Pakistan Wants Saudi Arabia To Be Third Partner In Trade Corridor


Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan with Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. (AFP)

Islamabad: 

Saudi Arabia will be the third “strategic partner” of the $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a senior Pakistani minister announced on Thursday, soon after Prime Minister Imran Khan returned from his first foreign trip to the cash-rich kingdom.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the flagship project of the multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a pet project of Chinese President Xi Jinping aimed at enhancing Beijing’s influence around the world through China-funded infrastructure projects.

Addressing a press conference on Imran Khan’s two-day visit to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE), Minister of Information Fawad Chaudhry said that Pakistan’s main interest lies in cooperation with Saudi Arabia on matters of trade and security.

Pakistan has invited Riyadh to join the CPEC as the third “strategic partner”, The News quoted him as saying.

Saudi Finance and Energy Ministers will visit Pakistan in the first week of October, Chaudhry said.

He said the projects that Saudi Arabia would be investing in the CPEC will be smoothed out during the Saudi delegation’s visit.

China has rejected accusations that its financial backing for the CPEC was a “debt trap” that could compromise cash-strapped Pakistan’s sovereignty.

The CPEC is the fastest-moving and flagship part of President Xi’s global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The CPEC aims to construct and upgrade the transportation network, energy projects, a deep-water port at Gwadar and special economic zones to eventually support Pakistan’s industrial development as a manufacturing hub by 2030.

Mr Chaudhry said Prime Minister Khan has assured Riyadh that Pakistan will stand with Saudi Arabia.

“We have also assured the Saudi leadership that we will continue to provide security to their country and provide strategic support wherever needed,” he said on the close defence partnership between the close allies.

He also said that a high-level coordination committee has has been constituted [to look into matters of trade and commerce] and it has the complete backing of Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud and Prime Minister Khan
 



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OPEC "Monopoly" Must Lower Oil Prices Now, Says Donald Trump


President Donald Trump has warned importers to stop buying oil from Iran or face US sanctions (Reuters)

Washington: 

President Donald Trump on Thursday issued a fresh call on the OPEC oil cartel to lower crude prices, saying the United States was providing Middle Eastern energy giants with security.

“We protect the countries of the Middle East, they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices!” he tweeted.

“We will remember. The OPEC monopoly must get prices down now!”

Trump has earlier called for members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries — primarily cartel kingpin and US ally Saudi Arabia — to raise their production, and warned importers to stop buying oil from Iran or face US sanctions.

Two of OPEC’s founding members, Iran and Venezuela, are under sanctions from Washington.

A new set of US sanctions is due to hit the Islamic republic’s oil industry on November 4.

Output from Iran has hit its lowest level since July 2016, according to the International Energy Agency, as top buyers India and China have distanced themselves from Tehran.

In 2016, major producers both within and outside OPEC agreed to slash production in an attempt to boost prices following the 2014 oil market crash.

 

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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To Stop Migrants, Trump Suggests Wall Bordering The Sahara, Says Spain


Donald Trump has proposed wall along the 3,200 kilometres long US-Mexico border (AFP)

Madrid, Spain: 

Spain’s foreign minister revealed that US President Donald Trump suggested building a wall along the Sahara desert to stem the arrival of migrants, as he plans to do on the Mexican border.

“Closing ports is not a solution, and neither is building a wall along the Sahara like President Trump suggested to me recently,” Josep Borrell told a lunchtime gathering this week, according to a video released by Spanish media.

“‘Just build a wall that borders the Sahara’,” he quoted Trump as telling him.

“‘But do you know how big the Sahara is?’,” the minister responded.

He did not give any further details.

The reported comments come as EU leaders are locked in talks in Salzburg over how to deal with the number of migrants arriving in Europe.

Spain is at the frontline of this issue, having overtaken Italy to become the number one point of entry for migrants coming to Europe by sea or by land from Africa.

Many of these cross the Sahara to Morocco and on to Spain across the Mediterranean or over two high fences into the Spanish overseas territories of Ceuta and Melilla in northern Morocco.

Trump’s proposed wall along the US-Mexico border, which spans 3,200 kilometres (2,000 miles), could cost up to $20 billion (17 billion euros) according to some estimates.

The Sahara desert, meanwhile, spans all of northern Africa from the Red Sea in the east to the Atlantic Ocean in the west, or close to 5,000 kilometres.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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"Facebook Dating" App Now In Testing Phase


“Facebook Dating” would be available within the social networking company’s mobile app

San Francisco: 

Aiming to take on mobile dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble, social networking giant Facebook on Thursday started testing its new dating product in Colombia.

“At first glance, ‘Facebook Dating’ closely resembles its competitor Hinge. Both depart from the swiping model popularised by Tinder in favour of asking users to answer question prompts and start conversations based on something in a person’s profile,” The Verge reported.

“Facebook Dating” includes integration with Groups and Events and draws on other aspects of Facebook to expand the dating pool and encourage users to meet in public.

“Dating has been a behaviour that we’ve seen on Facebook for a really long time,” Nathan Sharp, Product Manager, Facebook, was quoted as saying by The Verge. 

“We want to make it easier and more comfortable for people to engage in. We just thought that now was the right time,” he added.

“Facebook Dating” would be available within the social networking company’s mobile app and won’t be available for desktop users as of now.

It is currently available to users 18 and above, free of cost, and doesn’t include any advertisements or premium features. 

The company began testing the app internally in August and asked its employees to use fake data for their dating profiles and plans to delete all data before the public launch.

Company CEO Mark Zuckerberg originally announced the app at Facebook F8 keynote, popularly called F8 developer conference in San Jose, California in May 2018.

The move is being seen as a major competition for the Match Group which owns and operates mobile dating app Tinder and popular dating platform OkCupid.



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Drug Kingpin "El Chapo" Sits In Jail, Daughter's Have Barbie Themed Party


Drug Kingpin “El Chapo” Guzman’s wife threw the Barbie-themed party for their 7-year-old twins

Pink abounds. Pink flowers. Pink balloon arches. Pink couches. Pink triple-decker cakes. Pink cutouts of the number seven. The color’s whole spectrum – from cotton-candy to medium-rare steak – is on display.

Life-size cutouts of Barbie, the blond-haired, bleached skin monument of girlhood, stand sentinel on the party grounds, tagged in a social media post as being located in Culiacan, a city in Mexico’s northwest Sinaloa region. A video captures children running on the grass between a carnival ride and a pink-splashed party room inside as Spanish-language pop music thumps softly in the background. The happy mother who threw the Barbie-themed party for her 7-year-old twins, a dark-haired former beauty queen in high heels, posts images from the event on her Instagram account. “#barbiestyle,” she writes.

An over-the-top birthday extravaganza normally would not draw international interest. But the mother throwing the party was not just another loving parent, but the wife of the biggest name in drug trafficking. As first reported by the Los Angeles Times this week, Emma Coronel Aispuro, the wife of alleged Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, posted the images from the 7th birthday party for the couple’s twin daughters.

The images drew the usual social media rubbernecking, but also outrage. Currently awaiting trial in U.S. custody, Guzman is alleged to have run a vicious billion-dollar narcotics empire that had nearly complete control of the American drug supply and left behind a significant body count. But as the alleged kingpin stews in a cell, his wife is hosting parties with the blood money.

“You know that this was not possible without who knows how many deaths and tortures in Mexico, right?” one poster commented in Spanish under Coronel’s party pictures.

But the showy display of wealth must be equally frustrating for U.S. officials. Although the Justice Department has filed criminal forfeiture papers seeking to confiscate Guzman’s reported $14 billion in assets, the government has failed to pocket any of the alleged drug lord’s ill-gotten gains.

The romance between Guzman and Coronel runs straight back to Sinaloa, where Guzman’s criminal escapades have made him a folk hero. According to the Daily Beast, the then-17-year-old Coronel was from La Angostura. She signed up for a local beauty contest. Per local custom, the contestant threw herself a party on Jan. 6, 2007. The Beast reported that as the occasion kicked into full gear, armed gunman swarmed the town. Planes touched down at the local airport, bearing more gunmen and Guzman.

During the party, Coronel announced she and Guzman were to be married on July 2, 2007 – her 18th birthday. The kingpin and his personal army were gone by the next morning, but Guzman returned a month later after Coronel won the beauty contest. The couple married as planned, then disappeared before a detachment from the Mexican military arrived on orders to arrest the fugitive drug trafficker.

“I would say what won me over was his way of talking, how he treated me, the way we began to get along – first as friends and from that came everything else,” Coronel told the LA Times in a rare 2016 interview. “He tends to win over people by his manner of being, of acting, the way he treats people in general.”

Coronel described her marriage to Guzman – 32 years her senior – as an ordeal of secret assignations and long separations as the kingpin attempted to evade Mexican authorities. She also countered the image of her husband as a ruthless killer.

“He is like any other man – of course he is not violent, not rude,” Coronel told the Times. “I have never heard him say a bad word. I have never seen him get excited or be upset at anyone.”

Coronel was born in the U.S. and raised in Mexico. In 2011, when she gave birth to the couple’s twins, she traveled to Los Angeles for the delivery. Both girls automatically had American citizenship, despite the fact that their father was wanted by the U.S. government.

Guzman’s current incarceration did not appear to dampen the spirits at the Barbie party for the twins. The social media reaction to an alleged killer’s family enjoying the spoils of his work, however, has been harsh.

“They have attacked me,” Antonio Tizoc, a photographer who shot the Barbie party and posted pictures online, told the Times. “But in Culiacan it’s really normal to have parties like this. Rich and poor, we like big parties.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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South Korean President Says Kim Jong-Un Hoping For Second Trump Summit


North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un had met US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June this year (Reuters)

Seoul, South Korea: 

Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in visited the spiritual birthplace of the Korean nation Thursday for a show of unity after their North-South summit gave new momentum to Pyongyang’s negotiations with Washington.

The North Korean leader on Wednesday agreed to shutter the Tongchang-ri missile-testing site in the presence of international observers, a move the US welcomed by saying it was ready for immediate talks aimed at denuclearising the North.

Pyongyang also said it could dismantle its best-known nuclear facility at Yongbyon, if the US takes “corresponding measures”, as Kim and the South Korean president held their third summit this year.

It is an important caveat — Moon told reporters on his return to Seoul that the US would need to “end hostile relations with North Korea and provide security guarantees for the North Korean regime”.

But the declaration appeared to break the North’s logjam with Washington.

President Donald Trump welcomed the move, tweeting that Kim had “agreed to allow Nuclear inspections, subject to final negotiations”, adding: “Very exciting!”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also praised the “important commitments”, saying he invited his North Korean counterpart to talk next week on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, and representatives of both sides to meet “at the earliest opportunity” in Vienna — home of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Washington was ready to “engage immediately in negotiations” to achieve the North’s denuclearisation by January 2021, Pompeo added — the end of Trump’s first term.

Kim was hoping for a second summit with Trump “at an early date”, Moon said in Seoul after concluding his three-day trip, adding he would take the US president a message from Kim when he meets him himself next week.

‘Appease Trump’

The nuclear discussions had stalled after the first historic summit between Trump and Kim in Singapore in June, when Kim declared his backing for denuclearisation of the peninsula but no details were agreed.

Washington and Pyongyang have subsequently sparred over what that means and how it will be achieved, with the Trump administration consistently referring to the denuclearisation of North Korea specifically.

For its part, Pyongyang — which wants a formal declaration the 1950-53 Korean War is over — has condemned demands for its unilateral disarmament as “gangster-like”.

Experts remain sceptical, pointing out that closing Tongchang-ri, also known as Sohae, would have no impact on the North’s ability to manufacture rockets.

Pyongyang has used several other locations for missile launches and has repeatedly said it has no need for further testing.

Many also believe the North has other covert nuclear facilities.

“The North Koreans are offering gestures that mimic disarmament,” arms control expert Jeffrey Lewis tweeted. “They don’t meaningfully constrain North Korea’s nuclear programme.”

Their main purpose, he added, was “to appease Trump, so that Moon and Kim can keep their engagement alive”.

Peak diplomacy

At their Pyongyang summit, Moon and Kim agreed that the North Korean leader will visit Seoul “at an early date”.

It would be the first such trip by a North Korean leader since the Korean War ended in an armistice, leaving the peninsula divided and technically still in a state of war, and Moon said the historic journey could happen later this year.

The two leaders also agreed to open a permanent facility for family reunions, work towards joining up road and rail links, and bid jointly for the 2032 Olympics.

At a performance of the North’s spectacular “Mass Games” propaganda display, Moon made an unprecedented address by a South Korean leader to a Northern crowd, telling them that Koreans had lived together for 5,000 years.

“I propose we move forward toward the big picture of peace in which the past 70-year-long hostility can be eradicated and we can become one again,” he said, prompting rapturous applause.

On Thursday, Moon and Kim, accompanied by their wives, visited Mount Paektu on the Chinese border.

The 2,744-metre (9,003-foot) peak is considered sacred by all Koreans as the birthplace of Dangun, the legendary founder of the first Korean kingdom.

According to Pyongyang’s narrative, it is also where Kim Jong Un’s father Kim Jong Il was born, at a secret camp where his own father Kim Il Sung, the North’s founder, was fighting Korea’s Japanese colonial occupiers.

But overseas historians say Kim Jong Il was born in the Soviet Union, where his father was in exile.

South Korean tourists flock to see the mountain via China but only a handful of Southerners have been granted access from the North Korean side, mostly for research purposes.

Kim and Moon raised their clasped hands aloft on the crater rim and the South Korean president expressed hopes many of his countrymen would follow in his footsteps.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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Flooding May Worsen As Hurricane Florence Passes Through The Carolinas


Florence dumped up to 36 inches of rain in North Carolina, and many areas remained cut off by floodwaters

Conway, South Carolina: 

Flooding across the Carolinas in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, which has killed 36 people, was expected to worsen over the next couple of days, forecasters said.

Twenty-one flood gauges showed major or moderate flooding early on Thursday in southeast North Carolina and northeast South Carolina, where major waterways, well above their flood stages, were forecast to rise through the weekend before they crest, the National Weather Service said.

“People in flood prone areas or near waterways need to remain alert as rivers crest and stay above their banks in coming days,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said in a written statement. “Stay alert, and stay safe.”

Florence dumped up to 36 inches (91 cm) of rain in parts of North Carolina, and many areas remained cut off by floodwaters and inundated roads. The slow-moving storm, which made landfall on Friday as a Category 1 hurricane, has since been downgraded to a tropical depression and moved into the U.S. northeast.

The deaths of at least 36 people have been attributed to the storm, including 27 in North Carolina, eight in South Carolina and one in Virginia. The latest victims were two women in South Carolina who drowned on Tuesday when a sheriff’s department van in which they were riding was swept away by flooding.

Some 2,600 people had been rescued by boat or helicopter in North Carolina alone since the storm hit land, according to the state Department of Public Safety. About 10,000 remained in shelters and over 160,000 customers were without power across North Carolina, the department said.

As floodwaters continue to rise concerns are growing over the environmental and health dangers lurking in the water.

The flooding has caused 21 hog “lagoons,” which store manure from pig farms, to overflow, creating a risk the standing water will be contaminated with bacteria like salmonella, according to the state’s Department of Environmental Quality. North Carolina is one of the leading hog-producing states in the country.

Several sewer systems in the region have also released untreated or partly treated sewage and storm water into waterways over the last week, local media reported.

U.S. President Donald Trump warned South Carolina that “water is coming your way” as he toured the area on Wednesday.

“Now it looks nice, but it’s really the calm before the storm,” Trump said.

Experts have said that climate change has increased the likelihood of more massive, sluggish storms like Florence, capable of dropping record amounts of rain and touching off catastrophic flooding

© Thomson Reuters 2018

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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Nine Killed, As Many Injured In Boko Haram Raids In Nigeria: Reports


Boko Haram fighters killed nine people and injured nine more in the attacks (Representational)

Kano, Nigeria: 

Nine people were killed and nine others injured when Boko Haram fighters raided two villages in northeast Nigeria, the civilian militia said on Thursday.

Jihadists in pickup trucks attacked Kalari Abdiye and nearby Amarwa, some 20 kilometres from Borno state capital Maiduguri, on Wednesday evening.

“The gunmen, who were obviously Boko Haram fighters, killed nine people and injured nine more in the attacks,” Ibrahim Liman, from the Civilian Joint Taskforce told AFP.

“They attacked the villages around 8:30 pm when it was raining and people were indoors.”

Frightened residents rushed out of their homes but when they did so they were shot “indicriminately”, said another CJTF leader, Babakura Kolo.

“The two villages were completely burnt by the attackers,” he added, giving a similar toll.

Both villages are in Konduga, a district of Borno state that has suffered repeated attacks in a nine-year insurgency which has left more than 27,000 dead.

Last December six people were killed in a suicide attack on a crowded market in Amarwa, while 10 people lost their lives in April when two female suicide bombers attacked the village.

It was not clear which of the two Boko Haram factions was behind the attacks and there was no claim of responsibility.

Fighters loyal to the group’s long-time leader, Abubakar Shekau, have indiscriminately targeted civilians, particularly using suicide bombers and hit-and-run raids.

A separate faction backed by ISIS group and known as ISWAP has focused more on attacking military and government targets.

But more radical elements are said to have taken over the ISWAP leadership, prompting fears of an upsurge in violence against the local population.

On Monday, ISWAP killed a Red Cross health worker who had been kidnapped with two of her colleagues in a raid six months earlier, stoking fears for the other hostages being held.



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French Police On The Lookout For 4 Men Over Gang-Rape Video Posted Online


Local police alerted to the attack after the videos flagged to national digital surveillance cell (File)

Toulouse, France: 

French police were searching Thursday for four men seen raping a woman outside a nightclub in southern France in videos that were shared on social media.

Prosecutors in Toulouse opened an inquiry late Wednesday for gang rape after the 19-year-old victim confirmed she was the woman in at least two videos posted first to Snapchat and then Twitter, a source close to the inquiry told AFP.

The videos of the attack prompted a wave of outrage on Twitter, with many users claiming to know the identities of the attackers, aged 25 to 30.

“We need calm and discretion,” the source said when asked about the reported identifications of the men.

The local Depeche du Midi newspaper reported that the rape occurred overnight Saturday in a parking lot in Balma, a residential suburb east of Toulouse.

Local police were alerted to the attack after the videos were flagged to France’s national digital surveillance cell, and were already investigating Monday when a friend of the victim told them the woman’s identity.

The victim herself then came forward after learning the videos were circulating on social media.

“The way they broke me, the way they humiliated me, nothing can relieve that. But the video, which will be shared, where you see my body… It’s a vulnerability I’ll have to bear my entire life,” she told a local radio station Tuesday.

Reports say the woman told police she had a hazy memory of the incident and suspects she may have been drugged.

The videos were deleted by the interior ministry’s Pharos programme which deletes graphic and violent internet content, and police began urging people Monday not to share the images.

Videos of rapes have become an increasingly common problem online due to the spread of mobile phones and social media usage, with cases in the United States, Brazil and India causing outrage in recent years.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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Four Wounded As Gunman Chases Wife Into US Court Building


A man shot his estranged wife in a crowded Pennsylvania court building.

A man chased his estranged wife into a crowded Pennsylvania court building where they were due to appear for a domestic violence hearing on Wednesday, then shot and wounded her before he was fatally shot by police, according to law enforcement and local media.

Three others, including a police officer, were wounded in the incident that began with an argument between the man and woman outside the court building in Masontown, a small borough south of Pittsburgh, local TV station WPXI reported.

The woman fled into the building and he chased after her, shooting with a handgun and wounding at least two people outside, WPXI said.

They burst into the court building, where 30 to 40 cases, most of them preliminary hearings, were on the docket for the afternoon session, Fayette County District Attorney Richard Bower said at a news conference.

Bower declined to confirm the relationship between the man and woman, saying the next of kin had not been notified, but told reporters the man was due in court on strangulation and assault charges related to domestic violence and had a restraining order against him.

WPXI said the woman was shot in her arm in the court building as several police officers rushed to intervene, shooting multiple times at the gunman, killing him.

Linda Endsley, who saw the shooting, told the station that her son used his belt as a tourniquet to staunch bleeding from the woman’s arm as she hid under a desk.

“She was very calm, we were more upset than she was,” Endsley told the news channel. The woman became more upset when she learned her estranged husband had been killed, Endsley said.

The wounded victims, including the police officer, were taken to local hospitals, said Craig Konopa, a spokesman for the Fayette County Emergency Management Agency.

The gunman was declared dead at the hospital, Konopa said.

The police officer was shot in the hand, WPXI reported. The judge, Daniel Shimshock, was not among the injured, Konopa said.

One glass door into the municipal building was left shattered, video from the scene showed.

The names of the gunman and the victims have not been released to the public, Konopa said.

© Thomson Reuters 2018

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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Xi Jinping Places ''High Premium'' On Pakistan Ties, As Army Chief Visits


“China always places a high premium on China-Pakistan relations,” the report cited Xi as saying (Reuters)

Beijing: 

China places a “high premium” on its relations with Pakistan and believes a key economic project will be successful, President Xi Jinping told Pakistan’s army chief, days after a Pakistani minister stirred unease about Chinese Silk Road schemes.

General Qamar Javed Bajwa is the most senior Pakistani figure to visit ally China since the new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan took office in August, and his trip comes a week or so after a senior Chinese diplomat visited Islamabad.

Pakistan has deepened ties with China in recent years as relations with the United States have frayed.

Qamar Javed Bajwa may be hoping to smooth out any Chinese alarm at comments last week by Pakistan’s commerce minister, Abdul Razak Dawood, who suggested suspending for a year projects in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the Pakistan leg of China’s Belt and Road Initiative that includes recreating the old Silk Road trading route.

Meeting Qamar Javed Bajwa on Wednesday, Xi Jinping said the two countries were “iron friends”, China’s official Xinhua news agency said on Thursday.

“China always places a high premium on China-Pakistan relations,” the report cited Xi Jinping as saying.

Xi Jinping expressed his appreciation for the support and security safeguards provided by Pakistan for the Belt and Road Initiative and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor construction, Xinhua added.

“As long as high-degree mutual trust and concrete measures are in place, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor construction will succeed and deliver benefits to people of the two countries,” Xi Jinping said.

Beijing has pledged to invest about $60 billion in Pakistan for infrastructure for the Belt and Road project

© Thomson Reuters 2018



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Ex-Malaysian PM Hit With 25 New Charges Of Corruption, Money Laundering


It is alleged that Najib stole billions of dollars from a fund he founded in 2009. (File)

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: 

Malaysia’s former leader Najib Razak was hit with 25 new charges of corruption and money laundering linked to the 1MDB mega-scandal Thursday, including allegations that hundreds of millions of dollars were transferred to his personal bank account.

Najib denied all charges during a court appearance in Kuala Lumpur. Since his shock election defeat in May, the 65-year-old has now been charged with a total of 32 counts related to state fund 1MDB, which he and his cronies allegedly looted.

He faced four corruption charges and 21 of money-laundering Thursday. He has already been arrested twice and hit with several counts related to 1MDB since losing power, but observers say the latest legal moves represent a major step forward in efforts to bring him to justice.

Allegations that Najib and his cronies pilfered huge sums from the investment vehicle and spent them on everything from high-end real estate to artwork were a major factor in the defeat of his long-ruling coalition to a reformist alliance headed by Mahathir Mohamad.

Mahathir, 93, who is in his second stint as premier after coming out of retirement to take on scandal-mired Najib, has ramped up probes in the 1MDB scandal and vowed to have the ex-leader prosecuted.

The 64-year-old was initially detained Wednesday by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission over the alleged bank transfers, before facing further questioning by police Thursday morning.

The raft of charges filed Thursday accused him of receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in a complex series of bank transfers from overseas banks. Police said earlier that the money-laundering counts related to $681 million that was transferred into his personal account.

The US Department of Justice, which is seeking to recover assets allegedly bought with stolen 1MDB money, has previously said that $681 million from the fund was funnelled to Najib’s accounts.

Significant step
Najib has already been charged with money-laundering, criminal breach of trust and abusing his position over claims he pocketed some $10 million from a former unit of 1MDB. He denies any wrongdoing.

But the latest charges are more significant and relate to a key episode in the 1MDB scandal.

When reports surfaced in 2015 that huge sums from 1MDB flowed into Najib’s bank accounts before a hotly contested election, it dramatically ratcheted up pressure on the leader and his inner circle over the scandal.

The attorney-general later cleared Najib of any wrongdoing, saying the money was a personal donation from the Saudi royal family, and closed down domestic investigations.

But as allegations surrounding the fund multiplied, Najib became increasingly authoritarian, jailing political opponents and introducing laws that critics said were aimed at stifling dissent.

1Malaysia Development Berhad was set up in 2009 and overseen by Najib, with the purported aim of promoting economic development in Malaysia, but accusations quickly mounted that the fund was a vehicle for the leader and his cronies to loot state coffers.

The DoJ estimates that $4.5 billion in total was looted from the fund.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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Sindhi Activists Call Construction Of Dam On Indus River "Illegal"


The Sindhis believe that Kalabagh Dam would mean a death warrant for Sindh province.

Geneva: 

Sindhi political activists have strongly opposed the construction of Kalabagh Dam on the Indus River, calling it “illegal, unethical and immoral attempt” by Pakistan to deny life to the Sindhi people.

A side-event titled “Construction of Dam – denial of life to Sindhi People” was held during the ongoing 39th Session of UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday.

Lakhu Luhana, Secretary-General of World Sindhi Congress, said, “Already, there are a number of dams and canals that have been built against the international laws, conventions and even agreements. So, they are violating all of that. They built these dams and canals and as a result of that, it’s not just hundreds and thousands, the lives of millions of people have been affected”.

“Forget about the water for agriculture, you don’t get water even for drinking and that’s a grave situation. The ecological habitats of millions of years have destroyed and then the sea intrusion. The sea has taken over since 1956; and 3.5 million acres of land, along with 157 recorded settled villages are lost,” he added.

The Sindhis believe that Kalabagh Dam would mean a death warrant for Sindh province which cannot be accepted under any compulsion.

“There is unemployment, there is poverty, there is disease, there is malnutrition. Children are dying on a daily basis. We are not saying this, it is being reported in the newspapers, Mr Luhana said.

Citing the United Nations, he said that women are worse in terms of the nutrition than Nigeria. “On top of this, the way they are propagating with the construction of this new dam, they basically want to put the Sindhis in a situation where they are completely and utterly dependent for their survival, even if they have to beg for a drop of water for their upcoming generations. We have to raise this issue on international forums as this is illegal, unethical and immoral,” he added.

Dr Hidayat Bhutto, the United Kingdom and Europe organiser of World Sindhi Congress, said, “They are building dams against our wishes and we Sindhis don’t want any dam on the upper stream because it has affected our lives, our culture. Our lives will be destroyed. So, we are against every single dam they are building on the Indus river.”

He added, “They (Pakistanis) are destroying our delta, they are destroying our agriculture. It’s a genocide for Sindhi people. They also know that Sindhi people are against it. For example, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court says we will apply Article 6 to those who are opposing dam that means he is willing to give death sentence to 70 million Sindhi people.”

Dr Bhutto further said, “The Sindhi people are against it and the Pashtuns are against it as they are building it only for Punjab. They want to kill everybody in the interest of Punjab. They have already devastated our lives. Our situation is in misery and our culture, agriculture has been destroyed. Our natural resources have been destroyed and we don’t want any dam on our Sindh.”



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Singapore Punishes Firm After ''Maids For Sale'' Ads Spark Outrage


The postings triggered an outcry in Indonesia, with NGO Migrant slamming them as “unjust and demeaning”

Singapore: 

Singapore has suspended a maid employment agency’s licence and threatened to prosecute the company over “undignified” online ads offering Indonesian helpers for sale, after the postings sparked fury.

Singapore is home to almost 250,000 maids, mostly from poor parts of Indonesia or the Philippines, who head to the tiny but wealthy city-state to earn higher salaries than they can back home.

Conditions for Indonesian maids in tightly-regulated Singapore are generally regarded as better than in other places, such as Malaysia or parts of the Middle East, but the ads on online marketplace Carousell sparked a rare flare-up of tensions over the issue.

The adverts under the user name “maid.recruitment” reportedly offered the services of several helpers from Indonesia, while some ads indicated maids had been “sold”.

The postings triggered an outcry in Indonesia, with NGO Migrant Care slamming them as “unjust and demeaning”, and they were later removed from the site.

Singapore’s labour ministry said in a statement late Wednesday the employment agency SRC Recruitment LLP’s licence had been suspended, meaning it can no longer place maids with employers, and authorities were investigating them with a view to filing charges.

“We strongly condemn the advertising of foreign domestic worker services in an undignified manner,” said Kevin Teoh, commissioner for employment agencies.

Advertising foreign maids on an internet platform meant for trading goods “is completely inappropriate and unacceptable”, he said, adding that this is an offence.

The ministry said it told Carousell, which operates in several Asian countries, to take down the offending posts immediately after it was informed about them on September 14.

In a separate Facebook post, Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo said she was “deeply disturbed” by the adverts.

“To many of us, our foreign domestic workers are a part of the family… It is a given that we should treat them with respect,” she said.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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EU Tells Facebook 'Patience At Limit' On Consumer Rules


EU has given US social media giant Facebook until the year end to comply with sanctions.

Brussels, Belgium: 

The EU warned social network Facebook on Thursday to bring “misleading” consumer terms in line with the bloc’s rules by the end of the year or risk financial penalties.

“My patience has reached its limit,” EU Justice and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Vera Jourova said in a statement. “It is now time for action and no more promises.”

Jourova said she would call on consumer protection authorities across the 28-country bloc, which requested the changes last year, to act swiftly and sanction the company if Facebook failed to comply.

“While Facebook assured me to finally adapt any remaining misleading terms of services by December, this has been ongoing for too long,” she said.

The commission said that proposals made by the Mark Zuckerberg-led company were “very limited”, even after the company changed its conditions in April.

These new terms of services “contain a misleading presentation of the main characteristics of Facebook’s services”, the Commission said.

The commission meanwhile said that rent-a-room giant Airbnb has made the necessary changes to its consumer terms after also being under fire in Brussels.

The bloc’s executive arm has been at the forefront of a regulatory crackdown on US tech giants, having also slammed Google with huge anti-trust fines.

The commission has been cracking down on what is sees as risks for European consumers using the services of US internet giants like Facebook, Google, Amazon, Uber and others.

Facebook also came under the microscope after this year’s Cambridge Analytica scandal in which the company admitted that up to 87 million users may have had their data hijacked.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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Australia Increases Jail Term For Food Tampering After Needle Scare


Police are investigating more than 100 reports of sewing needles found in strawberries

Sydney: 

Australia on Thursday increased the jail term to 15 years for anyone convicted of contaminating foodstuffs as a scare over needles found in strawberries and other fruits gripped the country.

Police are investigating more than 100 reports of sewing needles found in strawberries, which have forced farmers to dump fruit as demand plummets, and cast a shadow over an industry worth A$160 million ($116 million).

Australia’s parliament passed legislation on Thursday to increase the maximum prison term to 15 years from 10 years for anyone convicted of tampering with food, in line with offences such as financing terrorism.

It also criminalised hoax claims, making them punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

“That’s how seriously I take this,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Royalla, a rural town 35 km (21 miles) south of the capital Canberra.

The legislation was rushed through in less than day as lawmakers try to repair public trust in the strawberry industry.

Politicians across the political divide spent much of the day promoting the industry, with Morrison promising to cook a strawberry curry.

Strawberry farmers have welcomed the action, saying they faced financial ruin if demand did not recover quickly.

Consumers remained wary, forcing retailers in Australia and New Zealand to pull strawberries from store shelves.

Australia supermarket giant Woolworths said on Thursday it had also withdrawn sewing needles from its shelves nationally.

“We’ve taken the precautionary step of temporarily removing sewing needles from sale in our stores. The safety of our customers is our top priority,” a Woolworths spokeswoman said in an emailed statement

© Thomson Reuters 2018

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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Four Children Killed In Netherlands As Train Hits Cargo Bicycle: Report


The accident took place in the eastern city of Oss in Netherlands. (Representational)

Amsterdam: 

Four children were killed and at least one woman was wounded when a train struck a “cargo” bicycle, popularly used by Dutch parents to transport their children, the newspaper De Telegraaf reported.

De Telegraaf said the accident took place in the eastern city of Oss, near the German border.

A police statement confirmed a “very serious accident” had taken place with “gravely wounded and possibly multiple fatalities.”

© Thomson Reuters 2018

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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