Ancient Statue Unearthed At Cambodia's Angkor Complex


This handout photo shows statue from the complex in Siem Reap province. (AFP PHOTO / APSARA AUTHORITY)

Phnom Penh, Cambodia:  Archaeologists have unearthed a large, centuries-old statue that is believed to have once stood guard over an ancient hospital at Cambodia’s world-famous Angkor temple complex.

The nearly two-metre-tall artwork, which is thought to date from the late 12th to the early 13th century, was discovered during a dig on Saturday, said Long Kosal, a spokesman for Apsara Authority — the state agency charged with managing the complex.

The new find is the most significant statue discovery at Angkor since two giant Buddha carvings were unearthed in 2011, he added.

The Angkor Archeological Park, a world heritage site, contains the remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, dating from the 9th to the 15th centuries, and is Cambodia’s most popular tourist destination.

At the height of its power the city and its hundreds of temples boasted more than a million inhabitants, making it one of the world’s most populous pre-industrial centres.

Huge swathes of the park have been excavated over the decades, creating a walkable archaeological wonder that attracts more than two million visitors a year.

But the complex continues to yield new finds.

Cambodian archaeologists and experts from Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies found the statue buried 40 centimetres (16 inches) underground during an excavation of an Angkor-era hospital built during the reign of King Jayavarman VII.

The Apsara agency said the sandstone statue’s arms and legs had broken off but the carving on the body and head remain beautiful despite the passage of time.

They said the statue was likely to have been a symbolic guardian of the hospital.

Visitors to the Angkor complex encounter a dizzying array of temples, the earlier ones from when Hinduism was the dominant religion of the Khmer Empire and later ones after Buddhism had taken hold.

Archaeologists every year discover fresh data on the remarkable site. New recent research based on aerial laser scans has confirmed the existence of Mahendraparvata, an ancient temple city near Angkor Wat that has barely been excavated.

Updated scans published last year have uncovered iron smelting sites and complex waterways as well as temple foundations that are still to be explored.

The same year archaeologists also uncovered the remains of a 42-foot-long boat from the Angkor era which had been carved from a single tree trunk.  

Archaeologists are particularly excited by the discovery of Mahendraparvata because they believe much of what remains of the jungle-covered ancient city has not been looted.

During French colonial rule and the brutal Khmer Rouge regime (1975-79) many of Cambodia’s most priceless statues and archaeological treasures were looted, including those from Angkor.

The Cambodian government has spent years trying to trace the missing items, some of which have since been returned from museums in Europe and the United States.

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



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Pakistan Parliament To Elect Nawaz Sharif's Successor Today


Nawaz Sharif quit as Pak PM last week over corruption allegations; his successor will be chosen today

Islamabad:  Pakistan parliament is expected to vote today to elect a successor to three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who was last week disqualified from office by the Supreme Court over corruption allegations; resigned hours after the court order.  Former petroleum minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is poised to become new interim prime minister in a parliamentary vote.

The ruling party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) named Mr Sharif’s younger brother Shahbaz Sharif as his successor over the weekend, but he holds only a provincial seat, so must first enter parliament by contesting the seat left vacant by his elder sibling. He will also have to resign as member of the state legislative of Punjab and a new Chief Minister will have been identified.

In the meantime the party has nominated ex-oil minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as interim Prime Minister.

Pakistan’s opposition parties failed to agree on a joint candidate against PML-N’s Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

Mr Abbasi, the 58-year-old loyalist of Sharif, will hold the PM’s office for a period of 45 days and will resign to let Shahbaz succeed as permanent premier, party sources said.

The PML-N enjoys a majority in the parliament so Shahbaz’s ascension is expected to be smooth.

The Supreme Court on Friday disqualified 67-year-old Nawaz Sharif for dishonesty and ruled that corruption cases be filed against him and his children over the Panama Papers scandal, forcing the embattled leader out of office.

The publication of 11.5 million secret documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca documenting the offshore dealings of many of the world’s rich and powerful implicated three of Mr Sharif’s four children — daughter Maryam and sons Hasan and Hussein.

The court’s ruling abruptly ended Mr Sharif’s third tenure as prime minister and forced the party’s top leadership to find his successor.

Nawaz Sharif was the 15th prime minister in Pakistan’s 70-year history — roughly half of which was under military rule — to be ousted before completing a full term.



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Britons On Trial For Singapore Stag Party Gang-Rape


All three, British citizens of Vietnamese descent, deny the allegations. (Representational Image)

Singapore:  Three British men went on trial in Singapore Tuesday accused of gang-raping a 23-year-old woman while visiting the city-state for a stag party.

Khong Tam Thanh, 22, Le Michael, 24, and Vu Thai Son, 24, face up to 20 years in jail and a caning if found guilty of assaulting the Malaysian woman while she was drunk and unconscious at the end of the night out.

All three, British citizens of Vietnamese descent, deny the allegations.

In an opening statement, prosecutors said the defendants were in Singapore in September as part of a group of nine for a bachelor party, and attended an electronic music festival called Ultra Singapore.

The groom, the brother of Khong, was also on the trip.

They met the woman in a popular nightspot in the city-state, where she had been partying with a friend.

After she had agreed to have sex with one of their friends, a British citizen of Vietnamese origin identified as Richard Ahn, he took her to his hotel room.

After the pair had sex, Khong, Le and Vu took turns to enter the room and raped the woman as she lay drunk and unconscious, the court heard.

“Having consented to having sexual intercourse with one individual, she was then raped by three other men,” Deputy Public Prosector G. Kannan told the Singapore High Court.

“Intoxicated and asleep, she was unaware of what was going on around her. She was taken advantage of and raped in quick succession by the three.”

The men took care to make as little noise as possible but the victim woke up as Le assaulted her, the court heard.

They all face one count each of raping the alleged victim in the early hours of September 10 last year. Khong and Vu, who work as beauticians in Britain, face additional charges of sexual assault by digital penetration. Le is unemployed.

Ahn, 24, absconded while under investigation. The alleged victim lives in Johor Bahru, the southern Malaysian city bordering Singapore. She cannot be named because of a court order protecting her identity.

Rape is punishable by up to 20 years in jail and caning, a punishment which dates back to British colonial rule.

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



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No Let-Up In Spying Amid Tit-For-Tat Russian Sanctions: US Official


US have faced trouble with Russian espionage, with their recent alleged role in the 2016 election

Washington:  Russia still runs a versatile spying campaign against the United States despite sanctions and daily publicity about Moscow’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election, the top US counter-intelligence official said in an interview.

William Evanina, the National Counterintelligence Executive, described a wide array of challenges his agency faces: hacking of government and industry secrets; industrial espionage; government employees and contractors who share secrets with the news media and groups such as WikiLeaks and foreign acquisition of strategic US industries.

Evanina spoke to Reuters on Friday, the same day that Russia retaliated in Cold War-era style to a new round of US sanctions by ordering Washington to cut diplomatic staff and said it was seizing two US diplomatic properties. Russian President Vladimir Putin said 755 people would have to leave their jobs, although many will be Russian nationals.

Congress voted overwhelmingly last week to further punish Russia over US intelligence agencies’ conclusions that Moscow had used cyber warfare and other methods to meddle in the election, something Putin has repeatedly denied. Last December, then-President Barack Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats, sanctioned Russian intelligence agencies and personnel, and evicted Russian officials from two diplomatic compounds in the United States.

Evanina said that losing the compounds was a “significant blow to the Russians. Significant. And I’m not even sure we … can measure it.”

He said, however, that US agencies “have not seen a deterrence, or a drop – or an increase,” in Russian spying activity in the last year. “I can tell you, the FBI does not have less work.”

Still, Evanina acknowledged that in the tit-for-tat expulsions, the United States has more to lose than Moscow.

“We have a significantly … smaller footprint over there than they do here. It’s always going to be disproportionate.”

The United States has long pursued its own aggressive espionage and electronic surveillance operations against Russia and, before that, the Soviet Union. Russia’s cuts to U.S. personnel and property will shrink the diplomatic infrastructure that countries typically rely on to both conduct foreign affairs – and spy.

Evanina said Russian espionage strategy has shifted over the last five to seven years, no longer relying solely on intelligence officers formally employed by its spy agencies. Now, he said, it also involves dispatching businessmen, engineers and other travelers to the United States working as contractors for intelligence services.

Evanina declined to comment on US investigations into Moscow’s election year activities and whether President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian officials. Trump denies any collusion.

He said that in the past year, he has worked intensively with the US private sector to protect critical infrastructure and supply chains from foreign threats. Evanina suggested that the United States could soon adopt more stringent reviews of foreign acquisitions that have national security implications.

Reuters reported on July 20 that the secretive Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States has objected to at least nine acquisitions of US companies by foreign buyers so far this year, a historically high number that bodes poorly for China’s overseas buying spree.

(Reporting by Warren Strobel and John Walcott; editing by Grant McCool)
 

© Thomson Reuters 2017

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Over 21 Lakh Indians Applied For H-1B Visas In 11 Years: Report


The average salary of H1-B Visa holders in the US has been $92,317 over the last 11 years

Washington:  More than 21 lakh Indian technology professionals have applied for H-1B work visas in the last 11 years, an official report has said.

The report of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has also refuted the impression that those who applied for the visa were not highly qualified.

On an average, their salary over the last 11 years has been $92,317 and an overwhelming majority of them are masters or bachelor’s degree holders.

According to the report, since 2007 till June this year, the USCIS received 3.4 million (34 lakh) H-1B visas applications, of which people from India accounted for 21 lakh. During the same period, the US issued H-1B visas to 26 lakh people, the USCIS said in its report, which however does not give countrywide breakdown.

In terms of the number of H-1B applications between 2007 and 2017, India is followed by a distant China with 2,96,313 H-1B applications, Philippines (85,918), South Korea (77,359), and Canada (68,228).

The report said the majority (23 lakh) of the beneficiaries of H-1B visas were in the age group of 25-34, and 20 lakh came from the computer related occupation category. Computer was followed by architecture, engineering, and surveying (318,670), education (244,000), administrative specialisations (245,000), and medicine and health (185,000).

Sometimes people post their retirement age have been given H-1B visas. In all these 11 years, more than 2,000 foreign nationals of more than 65 years of age received H-1B visas. This year alone so far 122 H-1B visas have been allocated to those above 65 years.

The report said custom computer programming services industry received the maximum number of 9,99,901 H-1B visas in these years. It was followed by computer systems design services (2,87,000) and college universities and professional schools (2,29,00).

Contrary to the general perception, the average salary of H-1B visas have increased significantly since 2007 when it was $68,159. In 2017, the average salary of H-1B visas holder foreign guest worker is $92,317.

The USCIS’s report was first reported by Breitbart news. “The USCIS date shows that between 2007 and 2017, the H-1B visa, which imports foreign workers to take American jobs, the programme has grown exponentially. The vast majority of visa-holders are from India,” Breitbart said, adding that roughly 70 to 80 per cent of the foreign workers imported every year are from India.

The Trump administration is currently reviewing the H-1B visa policy.



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After Putin's Diktat, US Embassy Staff Complain Of Being 'Locked Out'


Moscow:  The US embassy in Moscow accused Russian authorities yesterday of barring diplomatic staff from a property on the outskirts of Moscow, after having earlier agreed to grant access until midday today for them to retrieve belongings.

A Russian foreign ministry official, quoted by state news agency RIA, said the US embassy had sent in its trucks without first obtaining permits which, the official said, are required by law because the property is in a conservation area.

The property, in a picturesque spot on a bend in the Moskva river northwest of the capital, is leased by the US embassy for its staff to use for recreation.

Moscow has said it is taking it back as part of retaliatory measures after Washington approved a fresh round of sanctions against Russia.

A Reuters TV cameraman outside the country residence, known in Russian as a dacha, saw five vehicles with diplomatic license plates, including a truck, arrive at the site. He said they were denied entry.

An embassy spokeswoman said: “In line with the Russian government notification, the US Mission to Russia was supposed to have access to our dacha until noon on August 1.”

“We have not had access all day today or yesterday,” she said. “We refer you to the Russian government to explain why not.”

The Russian foreign ministry official, who was not identified, said the Americans were to blame for failing to obtain the necessary permits. To accuse Russia of blocking access amounts to a “pre-meditated provocation,” RIA news agency cited the official as saying.

(Reporting by Gennady Novik and Polina Devitt; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

© Thomson Reuters 2017

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



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North Korea Can Hit Most Of United States, US Officials Say


Washington:  North Korea’s latest test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) has shown that Pyongyang now may be able to reach most of the continental United States, two US officials told Reuters on Monday.

The assessment, which the officials discussed on condition of anonymity, underscored the growing threat posed by Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, and could add pressure on President Donald Trump’s administration to respond.

North Korea said on Saturday it had conducted another successful test of an ICBM that proved its ability to strike America’s mainland.

The secretive North’s leader, Kim Jong Un, supervised the midnight launch of the missile on Friday night and called it a “stern warning” to the United States that it would not be safe from destruction if it tried to attack, the official KCNA news agency said.

However, two US intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Monday Kim wants to develop a nuclear-capable ICBM to deter any attack on his country and gain international legitimacy, not to launch an attack on the United States or its allies that he knows would be suicidal.

The Pentagon declined to comment on the US assessment of the missile launch, even as it acknowledged that the latest test represented the longest test flight of any North Korean missile.

“The specifics of our assessment are classified for reasons I hope you understand,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis told a news briefing, acknowledging only that the missile could fly at least 5,500 km (3,420 miles), the minimum range for what the Pentagon classifies as an ICBM.

Two separate US officials who discussed the latest test, which lasted about 45 minutes, said it showed greater range than the July 4 ICBM launch, which North Korea said lasted 39 minutes.

One of the officials said it had greater height, range and power than the previous test because it used force stabilizing engines, which counter the effects of winds and other forces that can knock an ascending rocket off course.

‘Unusual submarine activity’

CNN, citing a US defense official, reported later that North Korea had been showing “highly unusual and unprecedented levels” of submarine activity, in addition to its third “ejection test” this month.

The ejection test was carried out on land at Sinpo Naval Shipyard on Sunday, the US defense official told CNN. It gave no other details about the increased submarine activity.

Ejection tests from submarines usually gauge the ability to “cold launch” missiles, when high pressure steam is used to propel missiles out of launch canisters.

The shipyard is in Sinpo, a port city on the east coast where the North had previously conducted tests of submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

A South Korea defence ministry official told Reuters the military was watching the situation in the North closely but did not provide more information because it was classified.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke with Trump on Monday and agreed on the need for more action on North Korea, hours after the US Ambassador to the United Nations said Washington was “done talking about North Korea”.

The Pentagon acknowledged military-to-military talks with US allies Japan and South Korea after the test.

Davis said that, while the test missile had a lofted trajectory rather than the more direct one required to reach the United States, the military takes the threat seriously.

“You could have the debate back and forth of whether the capability is proven or not, the fact of the matter is we take it seriously and we are prepared to defend against (it),” he said.

The Hwasong-14, named after the Korean word for Mars, reached an altitude of 3,724.9 km (2,314.6 miles) and flew 998 km (620 miles) before landing in the waters off the Korean peninsula’s east coast, according to KCNA.

The flight demonstrated successful stage separation, and reliability of the vehicle’s control and guidance to allow the warhead to make an atmospheric re-entry under conditions harsher than under a normal long-range trajectory, KCNA said.

Independent weapons experts also said they believed the launch demonstrated many parts of the United States were within range if the missile had been launched at a flattened trajectory.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart and Christine Kim in Seoul; Editing by James Dalgleish and Paul Tait)

© Thomson Reuters 2017

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



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Harvard Law Alumni Directory Lists Anthony Scaramucci As Dead


Anthony Scaramucci graduated from Harvard in 1989

Washington:  Anthony Scaramucci is having a bad week. He was, after only 10 days of his appointment, fired as US President Donald Trump’s communications director – and then, listed as dead in Harvard Law School’s alumni directory.

The directory mailed to alumni this week had an asterisk next to Scaramucci’s name, indicating he had died, the Washington Post and CBS News reported on Monday. The 53-year-old New York financier is a 1989 graduate of the Ivy League law school.

News of the mistake came out on same day that Trump fired Scaramucci as White House communications director over an obscenity-laced interview with The New Yorker magazine, sources familiar with the decision said. Scaramucci had been in the job just over a week.

Harvard Law School acknowledged the directory error in a statement and apologized to Scaramucci.

“The error will be corrected in subsequent editions,” the school said. It gave no explanation of how the mistake occurred.

The directory is published every five years and is available only to alumni, CBS said.

Scaramucci did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson)

© Thomson Reuters 2017

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



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Donald Trump Has 'All Options On The Table' For North Korea: White House


US B-1 Bombers joined South Korean F-15s in a joint military excercise over the Korean peninsula (AFP)

Washington:  US President Donald Trump has kept all ‘options on the table’ for North Korea, which is flaunting international norms by provocative intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests and its nuclear weaponization program, the White House has said.

It, however, said that the president will not make his options public.

“The President is not going to broadcast any decision, but all options are on the table,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters yesterday at her daily news conference.

North Korea carried out an intercontinental ballistic missile test on Friday which the weapons experts said could even bring New York into range, posing a major challenge to US’ security.

The US strategic bombers retaliated on Saturday by flying over the Korean peninsula, and on Sunday American forces successfully tested a missile interception system that the US hopes will be installed in the Korean peninsula.

Over the weekend Trump had expressed his frustration over Chinese inability to do anything against North Korea.

Earlier in the day, President Trump exuded confidence that he would be able to handle the North Korean situation well, which he did not elaborate upon.

According to the Pentagon, the Department of Defence is well prepared to protect the US and its allies from any provocative behaviour from North Korea.

Within hours of the North Korean ICBM launch, American and South Korean army personnel conducted a combined live fire exercise, the Pentagon said.

“This exercise utilised the Army tactical missile system, also called ATACMS, and the [South Korean] Hyunmoo Missile-2, which fired two missiles each into territorial waters of South Korea along the east coast,” the Pentagon Director of Press Operations, Navy Captain Jeff Davis told reporters during an off-camera news conference.

Also, US Air Force B-1 bombers along with South Korean and Japanese air forces took flight over the Korean Peninsula.

“The B-1s then flew over the Korean Peninsula where they were joined by four [South Korean] Air Force F-15 [Eagle] fighter jets. The B-1s then performed a low pass over Osan Air Base, South Korea, before leaving South Korean airspace and returning to Guam,” Jeff Davis said.

The entire operation lasted for about 10 hours.

“The US maintains flexible bomber and fighter capabilities in the Asia-Pacific theatre, retaining the ability to quickly respond to any regional threat in order to defend the US homeland and in support of our allies,” he said in response to a question.

“North Korea remains the most urgent threat to regional stability,” said Air Force General Terrence O’Shaughnessy, the Pacific Air Forces commander.

“Diplomacy remains the lead; however, we have a responsibility to our allies and our nation to showcase our unwavering commitment while planning for the worst-case scenario. If called upon, we are ready to respond with rapid, lethal, and overwhelming force at a time and place of our choosing,” General O’Shaughnessy said.

All this was in addition to the a successful missile defence test using the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system.

“A medium-range target ballistic missile was air-launched by a US Air Force C-17 [Globemaster III] over the Pacific Ocean. The THAAD weapon system located at Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska in Kodiak, Alaska, detected, tracked and intercepted the target,” said the Pentagon press secretary. This was the 15th successful intercept in 15 tests for THAAD.



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World's Longest Suspension Footbridge, Built In Just 10 Weeks


Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge was unveiled on July 29 after a construction period of just 10 weeks.

Geneva:  The longest pedestrian suspension bridge known as Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge has opened in Swiss Alpine resort of Zermatt Matterhorn.

Located in south Switzerland, the steel bridge is 494 metres long and overtakes the “Titan-RT” bridge in Germany as the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge, according to a press release from Zermatt Matterhorn.

It was unveiled on July 29 after a construction period of just 10 weeks, Xinhua news agency reported.

Hikers, thrilled at being suspended 85 metres above the ground, can fulfil their dream by crossing the suspended stretch of the famed Europaweg hiking trail, between Grachen and Zermatt.

The trail is considered by many one of the most beautiful two-day hikes in the Alps. And at a narrow 65 centimetres wide, the bridge stretches like a thin wire across the steep valley floor.



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US 'Reviewing Options' After Vladimir Putin Orders Embassy Cuts


Responding to US sanctions, Russia asked US to cut it’s embassy staff in Russia to 455

Washington:  Washington is reviewing its options after the Kremlin ordered it to shrink its diplomatic mission in Russia, and President Donald Trump still intends to sign new sanctions into law.

Questioned by reporters Monday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders had only a low-key response to President Vladimir Putin’s extraordinary demand that the embassy cut its local and American staff by 755.

A State Department official has anonymously called the weekend’s development “regrettable,” but Trump has not launched any of his trademark tweets to protest the Russian action, a response to the sanctions bill.

“Right now, we’re reviewing our options and when we have something to say on it, we’ll let you know,” Sanders said, repeating that Trump would sign the the bill but refusing to say when.

On Thursday, the US Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill to toughen sanctions on Russia for allegedly meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and its intervention in Ukraine. Iran and North Korea are also targeted in the sanctions bill.

The White House said Trump intends to sign off on the legislation, despite complaining earlier it would cut off the president’s leeway to seek a broader diplomatic rapprochement.

Russia’s foreign ministry on Friday struck preemptively by ordering Washington to reduce its diplomatic presence to 455 before September 1 — bringing it in line with the size of Russia’s mission in the US.

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



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Trump Fires Communications Director Scaramucci, 10 Days After Hiring Him


WASHINGTON:  President Donald Trump fired communications director Anthony Scaramucci on Monday at the urging of new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, a clear sign that the retired Marine general is being empowered to manage what has been an unwieldy West Wing operation.

Kelly demanded Scaramucci’s departure after he attacked former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus in a profanity-laced interview last week that quickly became a public symbol of the vicious infighting that has helped define the first months of the administration.

Trump’s willingness to dismiss Scaramucci – whom he hired just 10 days ago – was viewed by many in the West Wing as an indication that he is eager to impose order and is giving Kelly the tools to do so.

“General Kelly has the full authority to operate within the White House, and all staff will report to him,” said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Left unclear is whether Kelly will be able to curb the president’s inclination to subvert pecking orders, his tendency to encourage rivalries among his staff and his insistence on managing his own message through social media in ways that have often undermined his aides’ strategic planning.

“This is a president that loves feedback and information, and he doesn’t like getting it through a chain of command,” said Trump friend Christopher Ruddy, the chief executive of Newsmax Media. “I don’t think that’s going to change.”

But Kelly’s arrival signals that Trump is putting his confidence in someone he perceives to have the stature and experience to be a forceful leader in a White House characterized by competing power centers.

After swearing in Kelly to his role during an Oval Office ceremony, Trump treated him to the formalities typically reserved for visiting heads of state. As the two sat shoulder to shoulder in armchairs for the benefit of cameras, Trump leaned in and effusively praised Kelly, who previously served as Trump’s homeland security secretary. He later lavished more praise on him during a Cabinet meeting.

“I predict that General Kelly will go down, in terms of the position of chief of staff, one of the greatest ever,” the president said. “We all know him, we respect him, admire what he’s done.”

Priebus was viewed inside the White House as being ineffective and having little control over other top aides, and the president had mused for months about replacing him. In one of the strongest indications that Kelly will have greater authority than his predecessor, Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner – both of whom advocated for Kelly to be hired – have expressed their willingness to support any structural changes Kelly might make, according to a White House official. Sanders confirmed that they, too, will report to Kelly, as will all other officials.

A Kelly-led senior staff meeting Monday morning was well received, said people close to the White House who described aides as feeling optimistic that he might create stability in the West Wing.

“He’s an adult and a disciplinarian,” said Barry Bennett, who was a Trump campaign adviser. “He walks in with respect. I don’t think people will go to war with him.”

But Kelly is planning to bring at least one senior adviser from the Department of Homeland Security with him to the White House. There are signs that these new hires may be met with a chilly reception, two people familiar with the matter said, raising questions about who will hold influence in a White House overloaded with aides competing for influence.

The White House has for months been dominated by warring factions, including a New York-based wing led by Ivanka Trump and Kushner, establishment Republicans, and Trump-allied conservatives inside and outside the administration, among them chief strategist Stephen Bannon.

Ivanka Trump and Kushner were instrumental in bringing Scaramucci into the White House in large part to oust Priebus, who led the establishment wing. After Scaramucci’s explosive interview with the New Yorker, in which he angrily accused Priebus in vulgar terms of leaking to the media, they soured on him and were supportive of Kelly’s efforts to oust him.

Over the weekend, Kelly told associates that he was dismayed by Scaramucci’s interview and found it abhorrent and embarrassing for the president. Removing him from the communications post is part of an effort to change the culture of the White House and to signal to staff members that their comments reflect on the president.

“This was the president showing General Kelly that he’s in charge and he has the ball and this has fingerprints of a clear sign that people need to fall in line,” said Blain Rethmeier, who helped Kelly with his confirmation process earlier this year after he was nominated to lead the Homeland Security Department. “One thing you’ll see is a new level of discipline and respect restored.”

The move comes as the White House is trying to jump-start the president’s stagnant agenda and focus lawmakers and supporters on passing tax cuts. Earlier Monday, three top administration officials, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and legislative director Marc Short, each said they planned to press aggressively for the tax plan, which Trump considers a centerpiece of his domestic agenda.

Shortly after Kelly was sworn in, Trump presided over a Cabinet meeting in which Cohn said the White House is focused primarily on how to push the tax overhaul through Congress. Meanwhile, Short called on conservatives to pressure Senate Democrats in competitive states such as Indiana and North Dakota to support their plan. Mnuchin said the White House would be willing to jettison numerous unspecified tax breaks to make up for some of the revenue the government would lose by lowering tax rates.

While the administration has not been able to move forward on priorities such as tax reform, overhauling the health-care system and spending on infrastructure projects, Trump’s tenure has been dominated by investigations of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether any members of his campaign colluded with Moscow.

The president and top aides have blamed the White House communications operation for not doing a better job of pushing back against the Russia story and promoting his agenda – a situation Trump has often made more difficult with his statements on Twitter.

No other post in the White House has experienced as much upheaval as the communications director job. It was first given to Jason Miller, a Trump campaign aide who stepped down during the transition. It was then given to Republican operative Michael Dubke, who resigned in May. In the intervening weeks, Sean Spicer had taken on those responsibilities in addition to his role as press secretary until Scaramucci was named to the position.

Scaramucci’s tenure led to upheaval in the West Wing from the start, with Spicer resigning rather than working with the New York financier. Within days of entering the White House, Scaramucci threatened to stop White House leaks by firing “everyone” in the press office until the unauthorized disclosures ended.

Quickly, however, his feud with Priebus became his main focus. Scaramucci had at one point described their relationship as being like “brothers.” Later, he clarified that they were like Cain and Abel, two biblical brothers whose tumultuous relationship ended in tragedy. Cain murdered Abel, and was punished by God and condemned to a life of wandering.

When the New Yorker published Scaramucci’s profane tirade against Priebus and vulgar criticism of Bannon, he found himself on the defensive.

But it was Priebus who was let go Friday, making it look as though Scaramucci had won their power struggle. It was a short-lived victory.

On Monday, Sanders said Trump thinks Scaramucci’s comments last week went too far.

“The president certainly felt that Anthony’s comments were inappropriate for a person in that position,” she said.

Trump was eager on Monday to move beyond the criticism that his six months in office have been marked by tumult and dysfunction.

Early in the day, he tweeted that there is no “chaos” in his White House.

Late in the evening as the dust settled on the latest staff turnover, he tweeted: “A great day at the White House!”

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



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Peanut Butter Jail Break: US Police Hunt For Inmate Who Fooled Guards


24-year-old Brady Kilpatrick remained a fugitive in peanut butter jailbreak incident. (Reuters)

One of 12 inmates who broke out of a county jail in Alabama over the weekend remained at large on Monday, as the local sheriff said the escapees used peanut butter to disguise the numbers on a cell door and fool guards.

Walker County Sheriff James Underwood said in a phone call that 11 of the 12 missing prisoners had been recaptured, some at a highway truck stop, but 24-year-old Brady Kilpatrick remained a fugitive.

Kilpatrick had been in jail facing charges of marijuana possession.

Underwood said the men had managed the escape by using peanut butter to switch lettering on cell and outside doors, then told a guard in a control booth, a new employee with only a week on the job, to open the door leading to their freedom.

“They’re very creative and you just have to stay on your toes all the time,” Underwood said. “They selected someone who hadn’t been here very long and they pulled this operation off.”

Underwood said his deputies were “working on some leads” to recapture Kilpatrick, but declined to elaborate so as not to jeopardize the investigation.

The Walker County Sheriff’s Office has offered a $500 reward for information leading to an arrest.

Police in the small city of Jasper, where the jail is located, urged downtown residents to stay inside and turn on their outdoor lights. Police from nearby Parrish, Alabama, were also involved in the search.

The dozen escapees, all men aged 18 to 30, were imprisoned on charges including robbery, attempted murder, domestic violence and drug possession.

The jail from which the men escaped opened in 1998 and holds 250 inmates, according to the county sheriff’s website.

(Reporting by Chris Michaud, Jonathan Allen and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Scott Malone, Frances Kerry, W Simon and Richard Chang)

© Thomson Reuters 2017

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



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Donald Trump Dictated Son's Statement On Russia Talks: Report


Donald Trump has rushed to his son’s defense, and lambasted what he calls a political “witch hunt.”

Washington, United States:  President Donald Trump personally dictated a misleading statement in which his son Donald Trump Jr said a meeting with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 election was focused on adoptions, The Washington Post reported Monday.

It later emerged that during that fateful June 2016 meeting, Trump’s eldest son, his son-in-law Jared Kushner and then campaign manager Paul Manafort met with a Russian government attorney who an intermediary claimed had incriminating information about Trump’s rival Hillary Clinton.

The subject line of the email from Trump Jr inviting Kushner and Manafort to the meeting read “Russia – Clinton – private and confidential.”

In his initial statement on the meeting, Trump Jr said the group “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children,” and insisted that “it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no followup.”

The Post said the president dictated the statement to his son while on a flight home from the G20 summit in Germany.

Trump Jr later sent shockwaves through Washington by releasing a series of emails that detailed how he had attended the meeting after being promised “very high level and sensitive information” that was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump.”

Trump has rushed to his son’s defense, and lambasted what he calls a political “witch hunt.”

Citing people familiar with the discussions, the Post said the president’s legal team planned to present the meeting as a potential setup by Democrats seeking to entrap Trump Jr and thus Trump himself, who at the time was the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

The meeting with lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya has thrust Trump Jr into the center of a growing scandal over whether Trump’s associates colluded with Moscow to tilt the 2016 election in the Republican’s favor.

Former FBI director Robert Mueller is probing, in his capacity as special counsel, the Russia connection independently of the Senate panels.

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



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easyJet Passenger Punched By Airport Worker While Holding A Baby


It had all the makings of a modern-day airport nightmare: a 13-hour delay, more than 100 cranky and exhausted passengers, and babies running out of formula and diapers.

And that was before an airport employee punched an infant-carrying customer in the face.

A photo of the latest case of air-travel misery shows the exact moment the frustrations of easyJet Flight 2122 boiled over: the outstretched arm of a uniformed airport worker connecting with a man’s cheek, inches away from a baby.

The man who was struck was one of the passengers scheduled to depart from Nice, France, late Sunday morning. The plane was to land at Luton Airport, just outside of London, two hours later. Instead, a mechanical problem with the plane caused a half-day delay.

Worse, said another passenger, Arabella Arkwright, easyJet personnel either didn’t have answers or didn’t communicate them to the passengers languishing in the waiting area. Employees distributed food vouchers, but they barely covered the cost of a muffin at a nearby Starbucks, Arkwright told The Washington Post.

As the hours ticked by, the stranded passengers could hear calls for other easyJet flights that were going to Luton Airport.

It reached a boiling point at the 13-hour mark, sometime before midnight. Passengers were finally told that they could board, then there was a delay at the aircraft’s door, Arkwright said. They were stuck on a Skybridge for a half-hour before trudging back into the airport.

A man holding a baby and a cellphone approached an employee for Samsic, a contractor that assists customers at the airport, for more information.

Voices were raised.

Passengers stared.

“It was just the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Arkwright told The Post on Monday. “The easyJet employee lifted his hand first and pushed the mobile phone out of the man’s hand. You could see it go flying. The man pushed him back, like he was protecting the baby.”

“And then the (worker) just whacked him,” said Arkwright, who captured the punch on her smartphone camera, then tweeted the photo at British media outlets and the budget airline.

Arkwright said she and other passengers were outraged, but not entirely surprised that the situation had devolved to violence.

Afterward, the airline went into damage-control mode. The puncher, easyJet said in a statement, was not one of their employees. He worked for “special assistance provider” Samsic. The airline said it was trying to get to the bottom of the situation.

Samsic did not return a message seeking comment.

It’s unclear what happened to the worker. Both he and the man he’d punched were escorted away by airport security guards.

The man with the baby returned to the airport with a fresh welt on his face and received applause from the other passengers, who were now seated and ready to take off, according to Arkwright.

But Arkwright said she was still incensed at easyJet. Even though the employee wasn’t on the airline’s payroll, he was still interacting with easyJet’s customers. And, she said, company managers were nowhere to be seen as the customer service problems mounted all day.

“We’d been trying to get information out of them all day long,” she said. “I’ve seen their statements. They said they kept people informed. We had to keep going up with questions. On their app they had one thing. On the board they had another thing. On the website they had another.”

Two weeks ago, an unaccompanied minor was booted from an overbooked easyJet flight on his way to visit relatives in Toulouse, France, The Post’s Lindsey Bever reported. Airline officials left the 15-year-old alone at the departure gate as the plane took off; easyJet officials apologized and pledged to investigate.

Elsewhere, during this never-ending season of misery for air travelers and airlines, families have been booted from flights over a birthday cake and a toddler kicking a passenger’s seat. Other airline incidents have included biting, racist and politically charged rants and smashed wine bottles.

Earlier this year, David Dao’s removal from a United Airlines plane sparked a public-relations nightmare for the company. In that incident, a United official told passengers that they needed four people to give up their seats to accommodate off-duty crew members. When no one volunteered, the airline randomly selected four people. Three left without incident. Dao wouldn’t budge.

In the ensuing struggle with officers, Dao fell and hit his mouth on a seat’s armrest. His lawyer said he broke his nose and lost two teeth. He went limp and the video captured him bleeding from the mouth as officers dragged him off the plane.

On April 21, an American Airlines employee was accused of upsetting a woman carrying a baby to the point of tears, then getting involved in a heated exchange with a man who came to her defense, according to The Post’s Amy B Wang.

Arkwright, at home a day after her ordeal in Nice, said she was thinking about the recent spate of airline mishaps when she penned a letter to easyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall.

Arkwright said her biggest gripe wasn’t with the airline’s front-line employees, but with managers who’d allowed the situation to devolve by not communicating.

“In short, the whole saga was a disgrace; the problem is a management one and, yes, that is YOUR responsibility,” she wrote. “How much more inept can you be before your shareholders as well as your customers get seriously angry?

“Information was contradictory all day as the departure time got put back and back – so as not to get people angry at the outset and/ or because there was no f***ing Plan B.”

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



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Xi Jinping Calls For Strong Army, Tells Chinese Troops World Isn't Safe'


Xi Jinping has overseen the most sweeping changes to China’s military since the 1950s

President Xi Jinping said China needs to speed up the modernization of its military to fend off threats in increasingly dangerous times.

“The world isn’t safe at this moment” Xi, wearing a camouflauge military uniform, said on Sunday after riding in an open jeep at an army parade in Inner Mongolia. “A strong army is needed now more than ever.”

The speech came just hours after U.S. President Donald Trump lambasted China for failing to do more to stop North Korea’s nuclear program, saying “we will no longer allow this to continue.” North Korea, which relies on ally China for food and fuel, test-fired a second intercontinental ballistic missile late on Friday night.

Over the past two years, Xi has overseen the most sweeping changes to China’s military since the 1950s in an effort to create a fighting force that can win modern wars. The modernization drive, which has focused on expanding China’s air and naval reach, is challenging more than 70 years of U.S. military dominance in the Western Pacific.

The parade at Zhurihe Training Base on Sunday marked the 90th anniversary of the creation of the People’s Liberation Army. It featured the Chengdu J-20, China’s stealth jet fighter that some have compared to the F-22 Raptor. About 40 percent of the military equipment in the parade was publicly displayed for the first time, according to Phoenix TV, a pro-Beijing media outlet.

Two decades of budget increases on the back of surging economic growth have turned China into the world’s second-largest military spender. China’s neighbors have grown increasingly worried about its increased assertiveness over disputed territory in recent years.

Xi is reducing the 2.3-million strong force by 300,000 troops, mostly from the army, while expanding the navy and adding new rocket, cyber and outer-space capabilities. He’s cut the number of military regions to five from seven “joint theater commands,” and strengthened China’s Central Military Commission, the Communist Party body that runs the military.

China’s military will remain by far the world’s largest, with more than 600,000 more active service members than the U.S., according to estimates by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

The primary goal of the PLA is to ensure the Communist Party stays in power — a mission Xi reminded troops of on Sunday.

“Heed the party’s order forever, follow the party’s step forever, and always fight toward the direction where the party points,” Xi said.

–With assistance from Yinan Zhao

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



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North Korea Missile Still Facing Technical Hurdles: US Expert


This month North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un conducted two tests of an ballistic missile. (AFP File)

Washington:  North Korea could field a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile able to strike America by next year, but Pyongyang must first overcome important technological hurdles, a US expert warned Monday.

North Korea has alarmed the international community by the pace and progress of its missile development program, and this month leader Kim Jong-Un conducted two tests of an ICBM.

The first of these trials, which Kim described as a gift to “American b******s,” showed the rocket had the potential range to hit Alaska.

But a second rocket test last week flew even longer and could have reached as far as America’s West Coast, experts say.

Michael Elleman, of the International Institute for Strategic Studies and the 38 North Analyst think tank, said it appears that the “re-entry vehicle” that would carry a warhead back into Earth’s atmosphere from space had failed during the second test.

“Most likely it broke up into pieces,” he said.

“Prior to completely breaking up, it appears to have been shedding some of the outer layers, and then it must have finally disintegrated.”

Elleman’s assessment was based on video shot in Japan’s Hokkaido that shows an object in the night sky breaking up at an altitude of about six to 2.5 miles (four to 10 kilometres).

Without a proper protection during a re-entry stage, a missile’s warhead could burn up.

Still, Elleman said Pyongyang is learning fast and that depending on North Korea’s testing schedule, a deployment next year is possible.

Citing US officials, The Washington Post last week said the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) now believes North Korea will be able to deploy an ICBM capable of carrying a nuclear weapon as soon as next year — two years earlier than the agency’s previous estimate.

“I tend to believe the recent (DIA) assessment that, by late this year or sometime next year, they should have a system that’s what I call ‘reliable enough,'” Elleman said in a conference call with reporters.



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Qatar Launches Wide-Ranging WTO Complaint Against Trade Boycott


Geneva:  Qatar filed a wide-ranging legal complaint at the World Trade Organisation on Monday to challenge a trade boycott by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates, the director of Qatar’s WTO office Ali Alwaleed al-Thani told Reuters.

By formally “requesting consultations” with the three countries, the first step in a trade dispute, Qatar triggered a 60 day deadline for them to settle the complaint or face litigation at the WTO and potential retaliatory trade sanctions.

“We’ve given sufficient time to hear the legal explanations on how these measures are in compliance with their commitments, to no satisfactory result,” al-Thani said.

“We have always called for dialogue, for negotiations, and this is part of our strategy to talk to the members concerned and to gain more information on these measures, the legality of these measures, and to find a solution to resolve the dispute.”

The boycotting states cut ties with Qatar – a major global gas supplier and host to the biggest U.S. military base in the Middle East – on June 5, accusing it of financing militant groups in Syria, and allying with Iran, their regional foe, allegations Doha denies.

The boycotting countries have previously told the WTO that they would cite national security to justify their actions against Qatar, using a controversial and almost unprecedented exemption allowed under the WTO rules.

They said on Sunday they were ready for talks to tackle the dispute, the worst rift between Gulf Arab states in years, if Doha showed willingness to deal with their demands.

The text of Qatar’s WTO complaint cites “coercive attempts at economic isolation” and spells out how they are impeding Qatar’s rights in the trade in goods, trade in services and intellectual property.

The complaints against Saudi Arabia and the UAE run to eight pages each, while the document on Bahrain is six pages.

There was no immediate reaction from the three to Qatar’s complaint, which is likely to be circulated at the WTO later this week.

“Remain Hopeful”

The disputed trade restrictions include bans on trade through Qatar’s ports and travel by Qatari citizens, blockages of Qatari digital services and websites, closure of maritime borders and prohibition of flights operated by Qatari aircraft.

The complaint does not put a value on the trade boycott, and al-Thani declined to estimate how much Qatar could seek in sanctions if the litigation ever reached that stage, which can take 2-5 years or longer in the WTO system.

“We remain hopeful that the consultations could bear fruit in resolving this,” he said.

The WTO suit does not include Egypt, the fourth country involved in the boycott. Although it has also cut travel and diplomatic ties with Qatar, Egypt did not expel Qatari citizens or ask Egyptians to leave Qatar.

Al-Thani declined to explain why Egypt was not included.

“Obviously all options are available. But we have not raised a consultation request with Egypt yet,” he said.

In its WTO case, Qatar would also draw attention to the impact the boycott was having on other WTO members, he added.

Many trade diplomats say that using national security as a defence risks weakening the WTO by removing a taboo that could enable countries to escape international trade obligations.

Al-Thani said governments had wide discretion to invoke the national security defence but it had to be subject to oversight.

“If it is self-regulating, that is a danger to the entire multilateral trading system itself. And we believe the WTO will take that into consideration.”

Qatar also raised the boycott at a meeting of the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) on Monday, al-Thani said.

In comments to Qatar-based Al Jazeera television later on Monday, Qatar’s transport and information minister said the boycotting countries had discriminated against Doha in violation of an international agreement guaranteeing overflights.

“These countries have used this right arbitrarily and imposed it on aircraft registered only in the State of Qatar,” Jassim bin Saif al-Sulaiti said.

Qatar in June asked Montreal-based ICAO to resolve the conflict, using a dispute resolution mechanism in the Chicago Convention, a 1944 treaty that created the agency and set basic rules for international aviation.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain said on Sunday they would allow Qatari planes to use air corridors in emergencies.

(Reporting by Tom Miles; Additional reporting by Sylvia Westall in Dubai and Ali Abdelaty in Cairo,; Editing by Alison Williams and Alister Doyle)

© Thomson Reuters 2017

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



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Other Planets May Never Be As Hospitable As Earth: Study


Earth was an example of an icy world that thawed just enough, some 600-800 million years ago.

Paris, France:  Scientists dealt a blow Monday to the quest for organisms inhabiting worlds besides Earth, saying our planet was unusual in its ability to host liquid water — the key ingredient for life.

It was thought likely that distant worlds orbiting stars similar to our Sun would go through water-rich phases.

This would happen when the young, dim star of an icy, lifeless planet — such as early Earth — starts warming, becomes Sun-like, and melts the ice on planets orbiting it at just the right distance — the so-called “Goldilocks” zone.

Icy orbs in our own Solar System, including Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s Enceladus, or “exoplanets” in other star systems, may become habitable in this way, the theory goes.

But a team wrote in the journal Nature Geoscience on Monday that this was unlikelier than had been imagined.

Jun Yang, of Peking University in China, and a team used climate models to simulate the evolution of icy planets.

Without atmospheric greenhouse gases — a feature of Earth — the energy required to thaw an icy planet would be so high that it would transit from frozen to inferno without an intermediate, liveable phase, they found.

“We find that the stellar fluxes that are required to overcome a planet’s initial snowball state are so large that they lead to significant water loss and preclude a habitable planet,” the team wrote.

Some icy bodies, they suggested, may therefore never pass through a habitable Earth-like state.

Among these, Europa and Enceladus will likely morph from iceballs into fireballs by the time the Sun reaches it’s super-hot red giant phase heat in billions of years from now, said the team.

Earth was an example of an icy world that thawed just enough, some 600-800 million years ago, thanks to planet-warming atmospheric greenhouse gases emitted by volcanic eruptions during its snowball phase, the team said.

This meant that less solar heat would have been required for the ice to melt, enabling our planet to achieve a temperate middle ground.

Greenhouse gases, which are naturally present in the atmosphere but also released by humans burning coal, oil and gas, are what has kept our planet warm enough for humans, animals and plants to inhabit.

But humankind’s addition of mainly CO2 since the Industrial Revolution has caused the atmosphere to retain ever more solar heat, to a point that scientists say we are harming Earth’s perfectly-balanced climate beyond repair.



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Donald Trump's New Communications Director Out In 10 Days: Report


Washington:  White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci was forced out Monday after barely 10 days in his post, as Donald Trump’s new chief of staff asserted his authority on his first day in office.

John Kelly, who had served as Trump’s secretary of homeland security for six months, has been brought in as chief of staff to bring order and discipline to a White House beset by scandal, infighting, low approval ratings and legislative defeats.

After an Oval Office swearing-in ceremony, Trump confidently predicted the 67-year-old combat veteran — one of a group Trump has dubbed “my generals” — will do a “spectacular job.”

And Kelly got straight to work, as reports emerged that Trump dismissed Scaramucci — the fast-talking New York financier — at Kelly’s request.

“Mr Scaramucci felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team.  We wish him all the best,” the White House said in a terse statement.

Scaramucci had courted controversy with an expletive-laden attack on his colleagues — then chief of staff Reince Priebus, who was forced out last week, and chief White House strategist Steve Bannon.

‘Record-shattering’

Kelly inherits the day-to-day running of a White House staff that — far from marching in lockstep — look like a regiment pinned down by heavy fire, getting conflicting orders from their commander and squabbling over the way forward.

“I predict that General Kelly will go down as, in terms of the position of chief of staff, one of the great(est) ever,” Trump said.

“What he has done in terms of homeland security is record-shattering, if you look at the border, if you look at the tremendous results we’ve had.”

Kelly replaces Priebus, a Republican Party operative who was ousted last week after the spectacular failure of Trump’s bid to repeal Obamacare and as his ugly feud with Scaramucci spilled into the open.

The chief of staff is the highest ranking White House employee — a chief operating officer who organizes staff, manages the president’s schedule and decides who gets access to him and when.

That is no small mission in Trump’s White House, where a rotating cast of family and staff with unclear roles and opaque job titles walk into the Oval Office seemingly at will.

Many question whether anyone can rein in the mercurial, Twitter-happy Trump, who has appeared to encourage the infighting among various factions vying for influence in his administration.

No chaos

Trump — ever determined to project success — insisted Monday that there was no “chaos” at the White House, which was instead running as a finely tuned machine.

“I think we’re doing incredibly well. The economy is doing incredibly well, and many other things. So we’re starting from a really good base,” he told a cabinet meeting.

“We have the highest stock market in history,” Trump said, adding that US economic growth in the last quarter stood at 2.6 percent and was approaching the three percent target he once set.

“Unemployment is the lowest it’s been in 17 years.  Business enthusiasm is about as high as they’ve ever seen it.”

But aside from the economy, there has been little reason for Trump to cheer.

Under pressure from a widening probe into his campaign’s contacts with Russia last year, Trump last week attacked his own attorney general Jeff Sessions for disloyalty, alarming his conservative base, before turning on Priebus.

In another tweet Monday, Trump hinted that Congress’s own health insurance plan should be replaced for its failure to repeal Obamacare, his predecessor’s signature reform of the US health care system.

“If Obamacare is hurting people & it is, why shouldn’t it hurt the insurance companies and why should Congress not be paying what public pays?”

Since taking office six months ago, Trump’s tumultuous administration has seen a succession of negative headlines and brewing scandals.

Fueling the fire, the billionaire Republican has parted with a number of top officials including his national security advisor, deputy national security advisor and FBI director, among others — an unparalleled turnover for such a young presidency.

On the global stage, Trump faces the stark challenge of a North Korea that could be on the verge of marrying nuclear and ballistic missile technology.

“We’ll handle North Korea. We’re going to be able to handle them. It will be handled. We handle everything. Thank you very much,” Trump said.

Kelly’s arrival is likely to signal a renewed focus on border security and immigration.

“As the coils of the Russia investigation grow tighter, as his failures in Congress mount, Trump reaches for what he knows –demagoguery of the rawest sort,” predicted Eliot Cohen, a former State Department official once tipped to join the Trump White House.

“Trump will remain Trump, and the various denizens of the White House are unlikely to treat Kelly with much more deference than they treat one another,” he wrote in the Atlantic magazine.

Fiery White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, appointed just 10 days ago by President Donald Trump, is out of a job, US media reported Monday.

Scaramucci courted controversy with an eye-watering attack on his colleagues — one targeting chief of staff Reince Priebus, who left his job last week, and chief White House strategist Steve Bannon.

The New York Times reported that Scaramucci was dumped on the request of new chief of staff John Kelly, who was sworn in Monday, and tapped by Trump to bring some stability to an at times chaotic White House.

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



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Hackers Claim They Stole Unaired Game of Thrones Script


Gwendoline Christie poses at a premiere for season 7 of ‘Game of Thrones’ (Reuters)

New York:  U.S. cable channel HBO said on Monday that hackers had stolen upcoming programming, and Entertainment Weekly reported that the theft included a script for an unaired episode of the hit fantasy show “Game of Thrones.”HBO, a unit of Time-Warner Inc, declined to comment on the specific programming stolen in the hack.

“As most of you have probably heard by now, there has been a cyber incident directed at the company which has resulted in some stolen proprietary information, including some of our programming,” HBO Chairman Richard Plepler wrote in a message to employees, which the company shared with reporters.

The company declined to comment on reports that unbroadcast episodes and scripts were among the data hacked, citing an “ongoing investigation” by unspecified law enforcement officials.

Entertainment Weekly reported that hackers stole 1.5 terabytes of data and had already posted online unbroadcast episodes of “Ballers” and “Room 104,” along with “a script or treatment” for next week’s episode of “Game of Thrones.”

Reuters also received an e-mail on Sunday from a person claiming to have stolen HBO data, including “Game of Thrones.”

The show is now in its seventh season and due to wrap up next year.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen and Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
 

© Thomson Reuters 2017

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



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British PM's Spokesman Says EU Free Movement To End In 2019


Theresa May has repeatedly said Brexit will take place as scheduled in late March 2019.

London:  The automatic right of European Union citizens to live and work in Britain will end in March 2019 with Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said on Monday, after her ministers publicly differed over the shape of the divorce with the EU.

Since May’s failed gamble on a snap election last month, the future of Brexit has been thrown into question with squabbling between her ministers over the pace, tone and terms of Britain’s departure from the club it joined in 1973.

May, who on Monday interrupted a three-week holiday to attend a World War One commemoration ceremony, has faced public pressure to temper her plans for a clean break from the EU.

The level of discord is such that one opposition politician spoke of “civil war” within the government over Brexit and some of the bloc’s most powerful politicians have even raised the prospect of Britain scrapping Brexit.

May has repeatedly said Brexit will take place as scheduled in late March 2019.

But the Archbishop of Canterbury said the chance of this was “infinitesimally small” because political wrangling will prevent the detailed work that is needed.

Justin Welby, who is the spiritual head of the Anglican communion of millions of Christians globally and sits in the House of Lords, said domestic political wrangling would impede the detailed work that is needed for Brexit.

In response, May’s spokesman said the government remained committed to the exit timetable.

IMMIGRATION IS HOT ISSUE

Immigration from the EU is one of the most contentious issues because the economy relies on imported labour but many British voters are angry over what they consider to be uncontrolled immigration.

“Free movement will end in March 2019,” May’s spokesman told reporters, adding that the government had already set out some details including proposals on EU citizens’ rights after Brexit.

“Other elements of the post-Brexit immigration system will be brought forward in due course. It would be wrong to speculate on what these might look like or to suggest that free movement will continue as it is now.”

The British government has for years failed to meet a pledge to reduce net migration below 100,000 a year. May’s spokesman said it would take time to get the numbers down, but the government was committed to doing so.

Finance minister Philip Hammond said last week that there should be no immediate change to immigration rules when Britain leaves the bloc, and Interior Minister Amber Rudd said there would be no ‘cliff edge’ on leaving the EU.

But Trade Minister Liam Fox said allowing free movement after Brexit would not “keep faith” with the referendum result and that the government had not reached a consensus on keeping open EU immigration for a transitional period.

The length of a potential transition period to allow business to adapt to the potential upheaval caused by Brexit is another contentious issue. There has been no clear guidance from May’s team on how long the transition should be.

BREXIT “CIVIL WAR”

Vince Cable, leader of the pro-EU Liberal Democrats said the “civil war” within May’s cabinet over Brexit was now so serious she should return from her holiday and take charge.

“There are more government positions than there are cabinet ministers. The government is in total disarray. Unless the cabinet can agree a position how can it possibly negotiate Brexit on behalf of Britain with the EU?,” he said.

The EU’s top Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told EU ambassadors last week that negotiations on the future relationship between Britain and the EU are now less likely to start in October due to a lack of progress at the initial stage of talks about the breakup.

Hammond was also reported as saying Britain does not intend to lower taxes far below the European average in order to remain competitive after Brexit, contradicting comments he himself had made earlier in the year.

The pro-Brexit UK Independence Party said remain-supporting ministers were now “actively promoting confusion and uncertainty” in order to undermine Brexit negotiations and seek to reverse the process.

May’s spokesman said there was broad agreement across government and within her team of ministers about the need to make Brexit as smooth as possible. The government position on Brexit remains as set out by May in a January speech, he added.

He cited comments from that speech in which May said that it was “in no-one’s interests for there to be a cliff edge for business” but that this did not mean seeking “some form of unlimited transitional status”.

The details of any implementation period are to be negotiatied but the government is not looking for an “off-the-shelf model”, he said, after a Financial Times report that Hammond hoped for such an option.

© Thomson Reuters 2017



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Qatar Launches Wide-Ranging WTO Complaint Against Trade Boycott: Report


Qatar filed a wide-ranging legal complaint at the World Trade Organization on Monday.

Geneva:  Qatar filed a wide-ranging legal complaint at the World Trade Organization on Monday to challenge a trade boycott by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates, Qatar’s WTO representative Ali Alwaleed al-Thani told Reuters.

By formally “requesting consultations” with the three countries, the first step in a trade dispute, Qatar triggered a 60 day deadline for them to settle the complaint or face litigation at the WTO and potential retaliatory trade sanctions.

Qatar is also raising the boycott at a meeting of the U.N. International Civil Aviation Organization on Monday, al-Thani said.

© Thomson Reuters 2017



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WikiLeaks Posts Over 21,000 Emails Linked To Emmanuel Macron's Campaign


Emmanuel Macron had never held elected office before winning the presidency.

Paris:  WikiLeaks said on Monday it had published a searchable archive of more than 21,000 verified emails associated with key figures in the election campaign of President Emmanuel Macron.

The stolen data was originally dumped on the internet in May, on the eve of the French presidential run-off between Macron and far-right opponent Marine Le Pen, in an apparent attempt to undermine voters’ confidence.

Within hours of the leak, Macron’s staff alleged it had been targeted by a “massive and coordinated” hacking operation.

The document dump came too late in the campaign to have any direct influence on the election, in part because the country’s electoral commission warned it was a crime to republish any details from the emails before the balloting.

French newspapers who have poured over the documents since then said they had found nothing scandalous to report. By turning the dump into a database, WikiLeaks has made the documents easily searchable for anyone with a web browser.

The cyber attack drew comparisons with the 2016 U.S. election campaign, during which U.S. intelligence agencies alleged Russia had interfered to benefit President Donald Trump. Russia denies meddling in the U.S. election.

Macron’s team also blamed Russian interests in part for earlier attempts to interfere with their campaign. The Kremlin has denied it was behind any such attacks.

At the time, WikiLeaks did not publish the Macron documents themselves, but said they were doing so now after attempting to verify the authenticity of the email addresses.

WikiLeaks did not say how the emails were obtained. In its statement, it sought to cast doubt on the theory that Russia was behind the attack, citing a comment by a French government cyber security official that the document dump appeared to be the work of an “isolated individual”.

WikiLeaks said it found 21,075 verified emails in an archive of 71,848 emails, along with 26,506 attached documents, which it also published. They spanned the eight years between March 2009 and April 2017, the month of the first round of the French election.

Macron was an investment banker in 2009. He had never held elected office before winning the presidency. He announced his bid to become president in November 2016.

Macron’s office declined to comment.

French law enforcement and intelligence officials have not publicly accused anyone of the campaign attacks.

© Thomson Reuters 2017



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Will Resign If Money Trail Statement Proven False, Says Imran Khan


Imran Khan promised to implement merit-based employment at all levels in naya Pakistan. (File photo)

Islamabad:  Cricketer-turned-politician and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan has said that he will resign if any statement in his money trail is found to be false.

Observing thanksgiving day to celebrate “Pakistan’s victory against corruption” after the Supreme Court on Friday disqualified Nawaz Sharif as the Prime Minister, Imran Khan on Sunday promised to implement merit-based employment at all levels in “naya Pakistan”.

Discussing the case against him in the court, Imran Khan said: “I will resign from the party if a single sentence of my statement before the judiciary is proven false.”

According to Dawn online, speaking to thousands of supporters gathered at the Parade Ground in Islamabad, the PTI chief thanked his party workers, especially the women.

“I am glad that women are playing an active role in making a new Pakistan,” he said, remembering his late mother and crediting her for teaching him to “stand firm for the truth and justice”.

“We are thankful to the judiciary because with the judgment, they brought us a new hope.”

Asking the crowd to imagine a “naya Pakistan”, Imran Khan promised that under his party’s leadership the National Accountability Bureau would not wait for the government’s orders to take action against criminals. “I will make an autonomous Federal Board of Revenue and empower all institutions.”

Lashing out at Nawaz Sharif for his alleged money laundering, Imran Khan warned Pakistan Peoples Party’s Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Shahbaz Sharif, who is set to be the next Prime Minister, and the disqualified Prime Minister’s ally Maulana Fazlur Rehman that it was their turn next (for accountability).

Criticising nepotism within the PML-N, he alleged that Shahbaz Sharif had been selected to replace Nawaz Sharif because “the party is being run like a kingdom”.



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Rapist Left Dentures Behind At Crime Scene. Name Was Written Inside


Police found an odd piece of evidence the rapist had forgotten: his dentures.

The 2001 attack was vicious. In August, an 31-year-old Memphis woman was walking along Thomas Street, an empty stretch of road drilling through an industrial area north of downtown. A man approached, forced her off the road, and stabbed a metal object up under her chin so hard it stuck to the roof of her mouth. Then according to Memphis’s Fox 40, the unknown assailant forced the unnamed victim to perform oral sex.

When police arrived at the scene, they found an odd piece of evidence the rapist had forgotten: his dentures.

Along with other physical evidence from the assault, the false teeth were reportedly bagged and placed in a Memphis Police Department property room. There, like an estimated hundreds of thousands of rape kits across the country, the material sat untouched for more than a decade.

Until last summer, when Memphis authorities retested the ignored kits. A match was identified. Had anyone examined the dentures 16 years earlier, they would have seen the name of a murderer chiseled into the false teeth, according to the Commercial Appeal. The arrest of the assailant, Thomas Maupin, 67, underscores the depth of the backlog.

Hard statistics on the number of untested rape kits across the United States are largely estimates and guesses. End the Backlog, a nonprofit advocacy group geared toward focusing publicity and resources on solving the issue, defines the problem in two-parts: rape kits that have not been tested; and rape kits that have been submitted for testing but are not analyzed in a “timely manner,” 30 days after receiving the evidence. Funding is key here. The group says it costs $1,000 to $1,500 to test a kit, putting frequent lab work outside the reach of budget-troubled municipalities. Labs are also beset by their own funding problems and out-of-date procedures.

Memphis was a prime example of the rape kit backlog crisis. In 2013, the city announced 12,164 kits were sitting in the city’s possession – untested, according to End the Backlog. An emergency order from the mayor’s office accelerated a project that would cost an eventual $6.5 million. “As of April 2017, 7,984 kits have been analyzed and 3,019 are currently at the laboratory awaiting testing,” according to End the Backlog’s website. “As a result, MPD has opened 2,077 investigations and 228 requests for indictment have been issued.”

Maupin’s arrest for the 2001 attack is among those belated victories. At the time of the crime, the items in the rape kit were not tested because of a backlog in the police department, the Commercial Appeal reported. Then last summer, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation came up with a partial match to Thomas Maupin, the name on the teeth.

Had investigators focused on the item originally, they arguably might have closed the case earlier. That’s because the dentures had an odd origin: the false teeth were made for Maupin when he was serving a prison sentence on the West Coast for killing a 6-year-old girl.

In January 1988, Tricna Dawn Cloy went missing after attending a birthday party with her mother and brother at a neighbor’s house in Spokane, Wash. According to UPI reports, Maupin was an early suspect: He had met the girl and her mother at the party and also walked them home. News accounts described Maupin as a “drifter with an extensive criminal record” including a conviction in “Texas in 1977 for indecency with a child.”

The girl’s body was discovered six months later in a gravel pit. Maupin was charged with felony murder, kidnapping and rape. He was convicted and sentenced to 480 months in prison. An error at the trial, however, reversed the conviction. Maupin was tried and convicted again. And once again, an error at the trial wiped the conviction away on appeal. Rather than face a third trial, Maupin pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, received a 12-year sentence with time served, and was released in 1997, according to the Spokesman-Review.

The dentures were made for Maupin while he was serving his prison sentence in Washington.

Last week, Maupin pleaded guilty in the 2001 Memphis rape. He’ll serve eight years in prison per his agreement with Shelby County prosecutors.

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



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Pakistan Opposition Fails To Choose Candidate For Interim PM


Imran Khan put forward Awami Muslim League leader Sheikh Rashid’s name but could not gain much support.

Islamabad:  Pakistan opposition members on Monday failed to arrive at a consensus on a single candidate for the interim Prime Minister following Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification by the Supreme Court in the Panamagate scandal.

President Mamnoon Hussain has called a session of the National Assembly on Tuesday for the election of an interim Prime Minister, Dawn reported.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s nominee Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who is currently facing a Rs 220 billion corruption inquiry being carried out by the National Accountability Bureau, submitted his nomination papers to Parliament Secretary Jawad Rafiq Malik on Monday.

Mr Abbasi, who was chosen by the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz party unanimously, said once elected, he would continue with the policies of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The opposition failed to agree on one nominee, with each party throwing its weight behind different candidates who too submitted their nomination papers.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, put forward Awami Muslim League leader Sheikh Rashid’s name, but could not gain the support of any other party apart from Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid. The Awami Muslim League, significantly, was floated by former President (Gen) Parvez Musharraf. 

The Pakistan People’s Party of the late Benazir Bhutto nominated Khursheed Shah and Naveed Qamar, Muttahida Qaumi Movement chose Kishwar Zehra, while Jamaat-i-Islami suggested the name of Sahibzada Tariqullah.

Defending the party’s decision to nominate Sheikh Rashid, PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that the AML leader “deserved the honour” (of becoming the interim PM) as he fought the Panama papers case “on both political and legal fronts” along with PTI chairman Imran Khan.

Mr Qureshi and PPP’s Khursheed Shah both expressed hope that the opposition parties would continue to make efforts to agree on a single candidate to be pitted against former Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.



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Meet The Woman Who Coaches Buffett And Gates In Bridge


Most of the entrepreneurs I write about use business as a way to pursue their passions, whether it’s philanthropy, culture, sports or politics.

Sharon Osberg is the other way around.

Her passion is playing bridge, a card game for math whizzes that led her into a rarefied world most others would kill to be a part of.

Osberg parlayed a gift for the game into a series of business opportunities and high-powered “elephant bumping” that includes Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, billionaires whose net worths clock in at $74 billion and $90 billion, respectively.

“Bridge is my world,” said Osberg, who lives in Marin County outside San Francisco. “Everything in my adult life is a result of bridge, one way or another.”

Osberg even makes money from the game. She owns a piece of an online bridge company called BridgeBase that earns her a dividend, and gives her a rooting interest in the game’s popularity.

Indeed, she has been a bridge teacher and partner to both billionaires. Last week, she partnered with Gates – the founder of Microsoft – at a Toronto bridge tournament where they took second, and then relaxed over a glass of wine and chips.

“In photos of Bill and Warren playing bridge,” she said. “I am always the one whose back of the head is facing the camera.”

She calls Gates and Buffett “solid” bridge players and plays with them regularly. “They are not in the upper echelon of national or world players,” she said. “They are very solid, everyday players.”

“I love the game, and I love my partner,” Buffett said. “She’s a fabulous teacher, extremely smart and very patient. They talk about bridge partners who were asked how they should have played their hand and the partner says, ‘Under an assumed name.’ Sharon doesn’t do that.”

Still, the way each tackles the game may offer a clue to how they do business.

“There’s a big difference between Bill’s and Warren’s approach to learning the game,” Osberg said. “Bill is very scientific. He reads and studies on his own. Warren enjoys playing. Warren has good instincts.”

“When I first met Warren, his game was ragged around the edges,” she said. “We would play in the evening, and I would go through teaching points. He absorbed it like a sponge. Bill is the same way. Pretty big brain capacity.”

No kidding.

Osberg has her own chops in business. She spent 18 years at Wells Fargo, the San Francisco bank that is one of Buffett’s biggest equity holdings. (She was at Wells Fargo before she knew Buffett.)

I called Osberg last week while researching a story on a mutual fund I am writing about. Our conversation quickly turned toward bridge, Buffett and the interesting world she inhabits thanks to the game she loves.

Some people have paid millions just to have lunch with the Oracle of Omaha. Osberg trades gossip with him on the phone and plays bridge remotely with him three to four times a week.

She attends annual meetings in Omaha of Berkshire Hathaway, the sprawling conglomerate Buffett built. On Sundays, after the meeting winds down, Osberg will play bridge with shareholders as “part of the weekend experience. I play with everybody.”

Buffett recalled one hilarious moment in particular.

“I have a younger sister, Bertie, who likes to play bridge,” Buffett recalled. “She happened to be in [Omaha] with her husband for our annual Berkshire meeting. So the four of us play. By some miracle, my sister and her husband beat me and Sharon. My sister reached for the score pad, so I tore the sheet off and ate it. Not that it is a competitive game or something.”

Osberg has also bumped with the swells in Buffett’s orbit: She was an occasional guest at the Georgetown home of the late Katharine Graham, then the owner of The Washington Post, when Osberg visited the city during the 1990s.

This actually has an investing component to it: The subculture of bridge goes beyond Forbes billionaires, reaching into executive suites and boardrooms. Hedge fund star David Einhorn is a tournament bridge player. Bear Stearns, the investment firm that failed in the 2008 crash, was known as “the bridge firm” because its top management and many of its quant geeks were players.

“I just kissed [former Bear Stearns Chief Executive] Jimmy Cayne on the cheek last week,” Osberg said.

Famed value investor and Buffett mentor Ben Graham reportedly compared the strategy of bridge to the discipline of long-term investing.

This is from a 2013 report in the Globe and Mail in Toronto:

“As Graham pointed out, playing your hand right – in bridge or in the stock market – generally leads to success in the long term. It doesn’t, however, guarantee you success right now. Sometimes, playing a hand the right way leads to failure; sometimes picking a stock for the right reasons results in a loss.

“Bridge can teach an investor the importance of sticking to a well-thought-out strategy.”

Osberg is a member of the elite echelon of world-class female players, but she said she is playing in what is widely considered a man’s game.

Bridge has taken her to Tokyo, Athens, Chile, Australia, the island of Corsica, Verona, Paris, Montreal and virtually every major U.S. city.

Surprisingly, bridge is not for the faint of heart.

“Everyone loses more than they win,” Osberg said. “Losing is much more common. You have to develop a thick skin.

“It’s not easy to sit down to play in a tournament,” she said. “The way you move your cards and how you do your bidding. It’s very difficult.”

She recalled Buffett’s first bridge tournament, held in Albuquerque, New Mexico. They made it to the finals after two grueling qualifying rounds. “That was miraculous,” she said.

But Buffett, the steely capital allocator who moves world markets with mere utterances, had enough.

Osberg recalls: “He said, ‘I can’t do it anymore.’ It was so stressful, he didn’t want to play in the finals.”

“I had no business being in it at all,” Buffett said. “We were playing people not as good as Sharon was, but a whole lot better than I was. I dropped out. I was on the board of USAir at the time, so I said I had to get back to a board meeting. This was not great behavior on my part. I love the game, but playing in tournaments is too many hours of concentration.”

At her peak, Osberg was one of the top players in the world.

“I am no longer a serious player,” she said. “I used to play just to win. Now I play for the beauty of the game. It’s the same way mathematics can be beautiful. Your brain has to be nimble enough to recompute on the fly when information comes in.”

Osberg grew up near Philadelphia in an upper-middle class family of Italian immigrants. Her father was a businessman who helped run a family meat business.

She learned to play bridge at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., where she graduated with a political science degree in the early 1970s.

“Somebody a couple of doors down in the dorm said, ‘We need a fourth for bridge.’ I said, ‘I will do it.’ “

She was a natural. After graduation, Osberg moved to California and joined the large community of bridge players around the Bay Area.

“Everyone knew each other,” she said.

A fellow bridge addict hooked her up with Bank of America, where she participated in a three-month technology training program that introduced her to a business that drew on the same skill set that made her so successful at bridge.

“I loved programming,” she said. “It’s numbers, pattern recognition, problem solving. It’s just so cool. The same reason I love bridge.”

Osberg was in the right place at the right time. Bank of America was just beginning to pioneer technology that would lead to online banking.

She eventually spent 18 years at Wells Fargo, where she rose to executive vice president for technology and retired in 2000.

Her years running technology at Wells Fargo brought her into contact with Gates and other technology wheels. She remembers one meeting with entrepreneur Marc Andreessen, co-author of Mosaic, the first widely used Web browser.

The stiff bankers shed their jackets, dress shirts and ties to make their Silicon Valley guests comfortable, only to see Andreessen and company show up wearing suits.

She was invited to New York to play in a bridge tournament in the early 1990s, and was partnered with Buffett confidant Carol Loomis, at the time a Fortune magazine writer.

Buffett was playing too and invited her to stop in Omaha some time. “I said, ‘Where is Omaha?’ That was not the thing to say.”

When she finally stopped in his hometown, they went to dinner and Buffett pulled out a blank map of the U.S., and asked her to draw an X for Omaha.

They quickly became close friends. As her mentor educated her about business and managing people, Osberg bought her first shares in Berkshire Hathaway – at the then soaring price of $16,050 – ” a fortune to me.” (The stock today sells for around $259,600. Osberg owns a lot more of it.)

“He opened up a world I never would have been part of without him,” she said. “Once or twice a year, I get to sit back and just listen to Bill and Warren. They talk about companies. They talk about trends. Artificial intelligence. Nuclear proliferation. What the future might hold and the political implications in the business world.

“I don’t know how I got that lucky.”

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



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Doctor, About To Go Into Labour, Pauses To Deliver Another Woman's Baby


The Kentucky-based doctor put her own delivery on hold on hearing that the child was in distress. (File)

A Kentucky-based doctor who was in the hospital preparing to give birth put her own delivery on hold to deliver another woman’s baby after hearing that the child was in distress.

Amanda Hess, an obstetrician-gynecologist from Frankfort, checked into the Frankfort Regional Medical Center as a patient last week, donned a hospital gown and was moments away from induced labor when she heard a woman in another room wailing in pain, NBC News reported Saturday.

The woman was Leah Halliday Johnson, a pregnant mother who happened to be one of Hess’s patients. Just the week before, she had seen Hess during her final prenatal appointment, according to NBC.

Nurses told Hess that Halliday Johnson’s baby was coming far faster than expected and that the umbilical cord was wrapped loosely around the child’s neck, Halliday Johnson told People.com Sunday. The on-call doctor had left the hospital for a break, and they needed immediate help.

That’s when Hess jumped in.

“I just put on another gown to cover up my backside and put on some boots over my shoes, to keep from getting any fluid and all that stuff on me, and went down to her room,” Hess told WKYT.

“I had actually taken a call the day before, so I thought really that I was working up to the last minute,” she added in an interview with LEX 18. “But this was literally ’til the last second.”

“I said you know, I’m not on call, I’m here in a gown, but I think we ought to have the baby,” she said.

Nurses had been urging Halliday Johnson not to push, but the pain was getting worse, she told People.com on Sunday.

“I was not being quiet about the fact that it was difficult for me not to push,” Halliday Johnson said.

When Hess came in, Halliday Johnson didn’t realize the doctor was about to enter labor herself.

“She was definitely in doctor mode,” Halliday Johnson told NBC. “My husband noticed something was going on because she had on a hospital gown, but I didn’t notice that because I was on the delivery table. I was in my own world there.”

Halliday Johnson gave birth to a baby girl, according to NBC.

“She was just glad to be able to get to push and have the baby out and not have to wait any longer,” Hess told WKYT.

Shortly after, the on-call doctor arrived and took over. Her work in Halliday Johnson’s room done, Hess went back down the hall. Later that night, she too gave birth to a baby girl.

“Pretty amazing what she did,” Halliday Johnson told Lex 18. “I feel very lucky she was there and the type of person she is and step up to do what she did. We really appreciate her.”

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



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Pakistan's Interim PM Nominee Facing Rs 220 Billion Graft Inquiry


Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is allegedly facing a Rs 220 billion corruption inquiry over an LNG contract.

Islamabad:  The ruling Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz party’s interim prime minister nominee Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is allegedly facing a Rs 220 billion corruption inquiry by Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau over an LNG contract, according to a media report.

Mr Abbasi, the former minister for petroleum and natural resources, is the principal accused in a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) case registered in 2015 over the award of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import contract, Dawn News reported.

Other suspects in the case include former petroleum secretary Abid Saeed, Inter State Gas Systems (ISGS) managing director Mobin Saulut, private firm Engro’s chief executive officer Emranul Haq and the Sui Southern Gas Company’s (SSGC) ex-MD Zuhair Ahmed Siddiqui, the report said.

Mr Abbasi is expected to be elected as the new prime minister by Pakistan’s Parliament tomorrow, replacing ousted premier Nawaz Sharif.

The Supreme Court on Friday disqualified 67-year-old Nawaz Sharif for dishonesty and ruled that corruption cases be filed against him and his children over the Panama Papers scandal, forcing the embattled leader out of office.

After Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification, the PML-N nominated Mr Abbasi as its candidate for the prime minister’s post for an interim period before Punjab Chief Minister and Nawaz Sharif’s brother Shehbaz Sharif replaces him for the remaining 10 months of the government’s term.

According to NAB documents, the contract for the LNG import and distribution was awarded to the Elengy Terminal, a subsidiary of Engro, in 2013 in violation of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules and relevant laws.

The bureau registered the case on July 29, 2015, but it is still in the inquiry stage, contrary to NAB Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry’s claim that he has introduced a new strategy under which the process of complaint verification, inquiry, investigation and filing of reference takes 10 months, the report said.

It appears that like several cases of the Nawaz Sharif family, this one has also been dumped by the NAB, it said.

The case was registered on the complaint of Shahid Sattar, an energy expert and former member of the Planning Commission and the SSGC board of directors, along with others, accusing Mr Abbasi of misusing his authority and causing a potential USD 2 billion loss to the national exchequer in 15 years.

The NAB documents said that it had been recommended that the names of all accused in the case, including that of Mr Abbasi, should be placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) and the process was ongoing, the report said.

Talking to reporters after meeting Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman yesterday, Mr Abbasi had said he was not afraid of any reference.

He said that those levelling allegations against him should search their own souls and be ashamed of their deeds.

“Not only one case but get registered 10 references against me,” he said in reply to a question about Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed’s decision to approach the Supreme Court against him regarding the NAB proceedings.



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Kremlin Says Washington Can Decide Which Embassy Staff To Cut


Russia asked US to cut diplomats after US imposed new sanctions on Russia

Moscow:  Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday it would be up to Washington to choose which of its diplomatic staff in Russia would be cut after Russia demanded that it reduce 755 staff members in response to new US sanctions.

He said that Russian citizens working for the United States embassy could be among the 755 staff to go, as well as US diplomats.

Moscow did not wait until President Donald Trump signs the new sanctions into law because “there was no point in waiting” after the legislation was adopted in Congress, Peskov told reporters on a conference call.

(Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova; Editing by Christian Lowe)

© Thomson Reuters 2017

(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 Expresses Concern Over North Korea's Long-Range Nuclear Missile


North Korea says it’s missiles can reach ‘anywhere in the world’

Islamabad:  Pakistan today expressed concern over the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile by North Korea and asked Pyongyang to refrain from actions that could lead to escalation of tensions in the region and beyond.

On Friday, North Korea fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that experts say has the potential to reach the US mainland.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office said that North Korea’s actions are in contravention to the UN Security Council resolutions and undermine peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula as well as North East Asia.

“We continue to urge the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) to comply with its obligations under the UN Security Council resolutions and to refrain from actions that could lead to escalation of tensions in the region and beyond,” it said.

“We call on all relevant parties to pursue the path of dialogue and diplomacy to reduce tensions and work towards achieving a comprehensive solution,” it said.

North Korea has fired 18 missiles during 12 tests since February, further perfecting its technology with each launch.

On July 4, North Korea conducted its first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which it claims could reach “anywhere in the world.”

The UN Security Council has already imposed six rounds of progressively tougher sanctions against North Korea.



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ISIS Claims Kabul Attack On Iraqi Embassy Through Their Propaganda Agency


No casualties have been reported so far in the blast at Kabul’s Iraqi embassy (AFP)

Baghdad:  ISIS today claimed responsibility for an attack on the Iraqi embassy in the Afghan capital Kabul, its propaganda agency Amaq said.

Two members of “the Islamic State attack the Iraqi embassy building in the Afghan city of Kabul,” it said, without providing further details.

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



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Ally Of Pakistan's Ousted Nawaz Sharif Nominated To Replace Him


Former petroleum minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is expected to be elected Pakistans new prime minister.

Islamabad:  A close ally of ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday submitted papers in parliament to become new premier, part of a two-part plan by the ruling party for a smooth transition that will see Mr Sharif’s brother take the reins later.

Former petroleum minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is expected to be elected new prime minister on Tuesday by Mr Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party’s majority of lawmakers.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered Mr Sharif disqualified from office last week over unreported income uncovered during a sweeping investigation of his finances.

The court also ordered a separate criminal investigation into Mr Sharif and his family in its ruling, which the ousted prime minister’s allies have portrayed as political meddling but opposition leader Imran Khan has hailed as a victory for the rule of law.

Mr Abassi on Monday stressed he would continue Nawaz Sharif’s policies. His tenure is expected to last only about two months until Mr Sharif’s brother, Shahbaz, becomes eligible to be prime minister by winning a parliamentary by-election.

“Our party will succeed with our majority, God willing,” Mr Abassi told reporters inside parliament after filing the official nomination papers.

“The policies we had until Friday, we will continue with that,” he added.

Mr Sharif’s PML-N party won elections in 2013 and holds a majority with 188 seats in the 342-member parliament, so it should be able to swiftly install its choice of premier, barring any defections from its own ranks.

Nawaz Sharif said over the weekend he was shocked by Friday’s Supreme Court ruling disqualifying him from office over unreported income from a company owned by his son in Dubai. Mr Sharif said the monthly salary – equivalent to $2,722 – was nominal and he never actually received any of it.

The Supreme Court employed little-used Article 62 of the Constitution, which calls for the dismissal of any lawmaker deemed dishonest, to remove Sharif. His allies believe the verdict smacks of judicial overreach. Others say privately that elements of the military had a hand in the process.

© Thomson Reuters 2017



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Blasts, Gunfire Near Iraqi Embassy Rock Afghan Capital


Civilians were evacuated by security forces in Kabul, with no casualties reported yet (AFP)

Kabul:  A series of explosions and the sound of gunfire shook the Afghan capital today, with a security source telling AFP that a suicide bomber had blown himself up in front of the Iraqi embassy.

“Civilians are being evacuated” from the area as the attack is ongoing, said the official, who declined to be named. There was no immediate information about any casualties.

At least four explosions, along with the sounds of gunfire and grenades, were heard by AFP reporters and residents near the city’s diplomatic quarter shortly after 11:00 AM.

Security forces rapidly descended on the area, as the squeal of ambulance sirens rushing to the scene could also be heard.

A column of smoke rose into the air from the blast site.

Police confirmed at least one blast had taken place, but said they did not immediately have further information.

The Iraqi embassy is located in northwestern Kabul, in a neighbourhood that is home to several hotels and banks as well as large supermarkets and several police compounds.

The attack is the latest to rock Kabul, and comes as the resurgent Taliban ramp up their offensive across the country during the warmer weather fighting season.

A week ago, a car bomb struck the city during morning rush hour, killing at least 26 people.

A recent UN report showed that nearly 20 percent of all civilian deaths in Afghanistan in the first half of 2017 took place in Kabul.

Many of those deaths happened in a single attack in late May when a truck bomb exploded during the morning rush hour, killing more than 150 people and injuring hundreds.

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



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Two Babies Die In Hot Cars In The Same City, Hours Apart


Every year in the Phoenix area, fire officials say, roughly 10 parents come to the stomach-clenching conclusion that they’ve made a fatal mistake and left a small child in a sweltering car.

Last week, with temperatures regularly topping 100 degrees, it happened twice in a 24-hour period.

Both deaths – a 1-year-old found dead in a church parking lot on Saturday and a 7-month-old who died while being cared for by his grandparents the day before – are under investigation. Both are believed to be accidental.

The deaths were the first and second cases of a child dying of heat stroke in a sweltering car this year, Sgt. Mercedes Fortune told The Washington Post. The city is in what is called the monsoon season, when temperatures and humidity are at their highest points. Public officials sound “a steady drumbeat” of warnings about hydration, hiking and leaving pets and children unattended, she said.

The high temperature in Phoenix was 103 degrees on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. It was 101 degrees the day before.

On Friday, 7-month-old Zane Endress died after he had been left in the northeast part of the city for four hours, Fortune said.

“How could this happen to good people and a good boy,” the child’s aunt, Michelle Anderson, told the Arizona Republic as she wiped away tears. “He never cried and was so happy.”

Photos from the scene showed police cars parked in a suburban neighborhood.

A day later, at the Free Church of God in Christ near 27th Street, a father returned to his car and realized that his 1-year-old son was still inside.

Police later identified the baby as Josiah Riggins. Fire officials pronounced the child dead at the scene.

The father had apparently left the child unattended for at least two hours at the family’s home in nearby Mesa before driving to the church, Fortune said. Investigators believe Josiah died there, so that city’s police department is taking over the investigation.

The child’s father has not been arrested. He was cooperating with investigators, who will ultimately present their evidence to the Maricopa District Attorney’s office, to determine if the man committed a crime.

Since 1998, 729 children left in vehicles have died of heatstroke, according to NoHeatStroke.org, an organization that tracks the deaths of children in hot vehicles.

Arizona has one of the nation’s worst rates of children dying in hot cars at, 18.1 per 1 million people, according to the organization’s database.

The Phoenix area sees about 10 hot car child deaths a year, Phoenix Fire Capt. Larry Subervi told NBC News.

According to NoHeatStroke.org’s research, the ambient temperature of a car can reach 19 degrees above the ambient temperature in less than 10 minutes, and nearly 30 degrees hotter than air temperature in 20 minutes.

Last year, the organization recorded 29 heatstroke deaths of children left in cars. Since 1998, the United States has averaged 37 heatstroke fatalities.

Families can suffer with the emotional scars of such deaths for a lifetime. And the justice system must sort out whether the parent’s actions fell on the wrong side of the law.

As The Washington Post’s Gene Weingarten wrote in 2009:

“There may be no act of human failing that more fundamentally challenges our society’s views about crime, punishment, justice and mercy. According to statistics compiled by a national child’s’ safety advocacy group, in about 40 percent of cases authorities examine the evidence, determine that the child’s death was a terrible accident – a mistake of memory that delivers a lifelong sentence of guilt far greater than any a judge or jury could mete out – and file no charges. In the other 60 percent of the cases, parsing essentially identical facts and applying them to essentially identical laws, authorities decide that the negligence was so great and the injury so grievous that it must be called a felony, and it must be aggressively pursued.”

Fortune said that as the season with the most child hyperthermia deaths continues, parents should take more time to make sure their children are safe.

“We hear that parents are saying they forgot their babies in their vehicles,” she told the Republic. “Take some time, again, to look inside your vehicle . . . to just avoid these tragedies.”

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



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10 Killed As Venezuela Vote Turns Violent


Caracas:  A wave of bloodshed swept Venezuela Sunday as troops cracked down on violent protests against elections to choose the members of a powerful assembly that President Nicolas Maduro has tasked with writing a new constitution.

Protesters attacked polling stations and barricaded streets around the country, drawing a bloody response from security forces, who opened fire with live ammunition in some cases.

At least 10 people were killed, prompting the United States to threaten further “strong and swift” sanctions on Maduro’s government.

Senior opposition leader Henrique Capriles called on Venezuelans to continue defying the deeply unpopular Maduro with new protests against the election and the “massacre” he said accompanied it.

“We do not recognize this fraudulent process,” he said at the close of voting, calling for nationwide marches Monday and a mass protest in Caracas Wednesday, the day the new “Constituent Assembly” is due to be installed.

Maduro has decreed a ban on protests during and after the vote, threatening prison terms of up to 10 years.

The socialist president is gambling his four-year rule on the 545-member assembly, which will be empowered to dissolve the opposition-controlled congress and rewrite the constitution.

But the unrest fueled fears that his insistence on convening the assembly — despite months of demonstrations and fierce international criticism — would only plunge the country deeper into chaos.

Ten dead

Prosecutors said 10 people were killed in violence around the vote, bringing the death toll in four months of protests to some 120 people.

Those killed included a candidate for the new assembly, a regional opposition leader, two teenage protesters and a soldier in the western state of Tachira, which saw some of the worst violence.

In eastern Caracas, seven police were wounded when an improvised explosive targeted their motorcycle convoy.

National guard troops used armored vehicles, rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse protesters blocking roads in the west of the capital.

Soldiers also violently moved against protesters in the second city of Maracaibo, in the west, and Puerto Ordaz in the east.

The opposition had called for a boycott and mass demonstrations against the election, which it condemned as a bid to install a dictatorship.

“This constituent assembly is being born in a bloodbath. It is born illegitimate,” said Nicmer Evans, a prominent socialist turned Maduro critic, alleging widespread irregularities.

Maduro vote glitch

Maduro kicked off voting by casting his ballot in a west Caracas polling station.

“I’m the first voter in the country. I ask God for his blessings so the people can freely exercise their democratic right to vote,” he said. He was accompanied by his wife, Cilia Flores, a candidate for the new assembly.

He got a technological snub when he scanned his ID card at the polling station and the screen spit out the words, “This person does not exist or the ID was canceled.”

Maduro, whose term is meant to end in 2019, describes the election as the most important in Venezuelan history.

“I have come to vote to tell the gringos and the opposition that we want peace, not war, and that we support Maduro,” said voter Ana Contreras.

Turnout will be key to determining the legitimacy of the election.

But that will be difficult to ascertain, as most voters will be able to vote twice: once by region and once by social or industrial sector.

According to polling firm Datanalisis, more than 70 percent of Venezuelans oppose the idea of the new assembly — and 80 percent reject Maduro’s leadership.

“The people are not going to give up the streets until this awful government goes,” protester Carlos Zambrano, 54, told AFP in western Caracas.

Venezuelans also protested in Miami, Madrid and various Latin American cities.

The number of Venezuelans living abroad has soared as the once-booming oil producer has descended into a devastating economic crisis marked by shortages, runaway inflation, riots and looting.

US sanctions

Fear of the violence worsening has rippled across the region, and beyond.

The US, the EU, Canada and Latin American powers including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico have condemned the election.

“Maduro’s sham election is another step toward dictatorship,” tweeted US envoy to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

Britain’s junior foreign minister Alan Duncan also described the vote as a “sham,” as did many experts.

“The vote means the end of any trace of democratic rule. Maduro’s blatant power grab removes any ambiguity about whether Venezuela is a democracy,” said Michael Shifter, head of the Inter-American Dialogue research center.

Several foreign airlines, including Air France, Delta, Avianca and Iberia have suspended flights to Venezuela over security concerns.

The US has ordered the families of its diplomats to leave after imposing sanctions on 13 current and former Venezuelan officials.

It threatened further sanctions against Caracas.

“We will continue to take strong and swift actions against the architects of authoritarianism in Venezuela, including those who participate in the National Constituent Assembly as a result of today’s flawed election,” US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

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



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I Have Got A Snake Stuck To My Face, Woman Says In Emergency Call


The snake and the Ohio woman it was wrapped around had not always been at odds.

The 911 dispatcher who answered the woman’s frantic call on Thursday was able to discern some aspects of the interspecies relationship that had suddenly and dangerously soured.

There had been some sort of rescue, the woman said after giving her location in the Ohio city of Sheffield Lake and a brief, breathless description of the predicament she was in, according to a 911 recording obtained by the Elyria, Ohio-based Chronicle-Telegram. The woman had brought the 5½-foot-long snake into her home along with another snake in recent days.

They joined a growing assemblage of legless reptiles. The woman possessed nine other snakes, presumably also rescues, but they weren’t loose and weren’t attacking people at the moment, she told the dispatcher.

What was unclear is where the woman’s rescue plan went so badly awry.

Now, she said, she was on the ground, with an unyielding boaconstrictor wrapped around her body.

“Oh, please. I have a boa constrictor stuck to my – my face,” she told the dispatcher.

The dispatcher seemed incredulous: “Ma’am, you have a what?”

“A boa constrictor,” the woman confirmed.

“You have a boa constrictor . . . You’re outside with a boa constrictor stuck to your face?”

The dispatcher notified paramedics, then tried to figure out more about the woman’s predicament, which was clearly petrifying her.

“Please hurry,” she screamed. “He has a hold of my nose.”

The snake wasn’t venomous, the woman said. And it wasn’t cutting off her breathing or circulation – at least not yet. But there was “blood everywhere.”

“Oh, God, hurry, please. He’s around my waist and he has my nose.”
The woman may have been in more danger than she or dispatchers thought at the time.

A 2015 study showed that boa constrictors don’t actually suffocate their prey, as The Washington Post’s Elahe Izadi reported. Their squeezing cuts off the unwitting victim’s blood flow, stopping oxygen from getting to the brain. Victims quickly lose consciousness, then die.

Near the end of the recording, she went silent for a while, but then sirens could be heard, growing louder, getting closer.

Sheffield Lake Fire Chief Tim Card told the Chronicle-Telegram what first responders found when they reached her.

“It was wrapped around her neck and biting her nose and wouldn’t let go,” Card said. “They had to cut its head off with a knife to get it to let go of her face.”

While it appeared to be the first snake attack of this magnitude in Sheffield Lake, such dangerous interactions are not uncommon, according to Born Free, an organization that advocates against owning exotic pets such as snakes.

The organization catalogued more than 471 attacks by snakes between 1995 and 2013. The numbers are probably higher, the organization said, if unreported incidents are factored in.

“Clearly this is a national problem,” Adam Roberts, then executive vice president of Born Free USA, said in a news release. “We are seriously concerned about the epidemic of owning deadly snakes. Large snake ownership remains unregulated or poorly regulated across the country. . . . Snakes are wild animals who cannot be trained and at any time can display their normal wild behavior, which may include a poisonous bite or strangulation.”

The Sheffield Lake woman was rescued, but it’s unclear what became of her snakes and of her.

Police said no report had been taken; it’s not known whether the woman faced charges or had her 10 remaining snakes removed. 

Boaconstrictors are not listed as one of the dangerous wild animals prohibited under the Ohio Dangerous Wild Animal Act. (Other snakes, including various species of anacondas and pythons, are on the list.)

All a reporter found at the scene were the remnants of what had transpired: an empty glass cage on the sidewalk and a small puddle of blood in the driveway.

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

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'Person Does Not Exist': Machine Snubs Nicolas Maduro As He Tries To Vote


The voting machine failed to read Nicolas Maduro’s ‘fatherland card’

Caracas:  After months of devastating shortages, deadly protests and mounting chaos, many a Venezuelan has wished President Nicolas Maduro never existed.

The computer system handling Sunday’s controversial elections to his powerful new constitution re-writing body appears to feel the same way.

When Maduro scanned his ID card as he cast his ballot — the first Venezuelan to do so — the screen spit out the words, “This person does not exist or the ID was canceled.”

The message, displayed on the screen of a poll worker’s cell phone, was captured by TV cameras and soon went viral online.

The ID card in question is the “fatherland card” introduced by Maduro’s socialist government to buy subsidized food and access other social programs.

As Maduro delivered a speech at the polling station, he paused to theatrically whip out his card.

“Let’s check my fatherland card so it will be permanently registered that I came to vote, and so my fatherland card will be engraved with it for life: that I voted the historic day of the constituent assembly,” he said.

He then presented his card’s bar code to be read with a scanner.

“Did it read it?” he asked the young poll worker.

“Yes, it did,” she said, without appearing to show him the message.

Maduro’s opponents condemn the ID card as a means of social control that rewards government supporters with handouts and ensures state employees vote in elections such as Sunday’s.

But opposition lawmaker Freddy Guevara joked on Twitter that maybe his side had overestimated the government’s capacity for Orwellian control.

“The system doesn’t work. If you’re a public employee, they don’t know whether you voted or not,” he wrote.

Election day was no laughing matter, however, with at least nine people killed in violence around the vote.

More than 100 people have died in four months of protests against Maduro’s government.

The mustachioed president is trying to strengthen his hand by forming a 545-member body to draft a new constitution amid a crushing economic and political crisis.

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



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4 Arab Countries Say They Are Ready For Qatar Dialogue With Conditions


Qatar has called the Gulf states’ sanctions a violation of international law

Dubai:  The four Arab countries that have cut ties with Qatar said on Sunday they were ready for talks to tackle the dispute if Doha showed willingness to deal with their demands.

The foreign ministers of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates met in the Bahraini capital, Manama, to discuss the crisis that has raised tensions across the region.

The Saudi-led bloc cut ties with the Gulf state on June 5, accusing it of backing terrorist groups and cosying up to their arch-foe Iran, allegations that Doha denies.

Diplomatic efforts led by Kuwait and backed by Western powers have failed to end the dispute, in which the four states have severed travel and communications with Qatar.

“The four countries are ready for dialogue with Qatar with the condition that it announces its sincere willingness to stop funding terrorism and extremism and its commitment to not interfere in other countries’ foreign affairs and respond to the 13 demands,” Bahrain’s foreign minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, told a joint news conference after the meeting.

They announced no new economic sanctions on the Gulf state.

Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain previously issued a list of 13 demands for Qatar, which include curtailing its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, shutting down the Doha-based Al Jazeera channel, closing a Turkish military base and downgrading its relations with Gulf enemy Iran.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Qatar was not serious in tackling the countries’ demands.

“We are ready to talk with Qatar on the implementation of the demands, on the implementation of the principles, if Qatar is serious, but it has been clear that it is not,” he said.

The four countries have also listed “six principles” they want Qatar to adopt.

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani dismissed Sunday’s statement from the four countries and said sanctions were violating international laws.

“There isn’t a clear vision (from Manama’s meeting), there is only a stubborn policy from the blockading countries and refusal to admit that these are illegal actions,” Sheikh Mohammed told Al Jazeera TV channel.

Earlier on Sunday, al-Hayat newspaper said, citing unidentified Gulf sources, that the four countries “are expected to impose sanctions that will gradually affect the Qatari economy.”

Saudi Arabia has closed its land border with Qatar, while all four countries have cut air and sea links with Doha, demanding the gas-exporting country take several measures to show it was changing its policies.

Turkey and Iran have stepped in to provide fresh produce, poultry and dairy products to Qatar instead of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, with Oman providing alternative ports to those in the UAE.

The four Arab countries added 18 groups and individuals they say are linked to Qatar to their “terrorist” lists last week.

(Reporting by Sami Aboudi and Omar Fahmy; Additional reporting by Mostafa Hashem in Doha; Editing by Jane Merriman and Peter Cooney)

© Thomson Reuters 2017



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US Says Time For Talk On North Korea 'Is Over'


Washington:  The United States said Sunday the time for talk over North Korea was “over,” spurning a UN response to Pyongyang’s latest ICBM launch in favour of bomber flights and missile defence system tests.

Nikki Haley, the US envoy to the United Nations, said there was “no point” in holding a fruitless emergency Security Council session, warning that a weak additional council resolution would be “worse than nothing” in light of the North’s repeated violations.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un boasted of his country’s ability to strike any target in the US after an intercontinental ballistic missile test Friday that weapons experts said could even bring New York into range — in a major challenge to Trump.

US strategic bombers on Saturday flew over the Korean peninsula in a direct response to the launch, and on Sunday American forces successfully tested a missile interception system the US hopes will be installed on the Korean peninsula.

Under Kim’s leadership, North Korea has accelerated its drive towards a credible nuclear strike capability, in defiance of international condemnation and multiple sets of UN sanctions. The US Senate passed new bipartisan sanctions on Pyongyang on Friday.

Haley urged China, Japan and South Korea to tighten the screws on Pyongyang.

“An additional Security Council resolution that does not significantly increase the international pressure on North Korea is of no value,” she wrote.

“It sends the message to the North Korean dictator that the international community is unwilling to seriously challenge him.

“China must decide whether it is finally willing to take this vital step. The time for talk is over.”

‘They do NOTHING’

Earlier, US President Donald Trump warned that he would not allow China — the impoverished North’s sole major ally and economic lifeline — to “do nothing” about Pyongyang.

In two tweets, Trump linked trade strains with the Asian giant — marked by a trade deficit of $309 billion last year — to policy on North Korea, after Seoul indicated it could speed up the deployment of a US missile defense system that has infuriated China.

“I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk,” Trump wrote.

“We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!”

Trump has repeatedly urged China to rein in its recalcitrant neighbor, but Beijing insists dialogue is the only practical way forward.

Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of US treaty ally Japan, also urged Beijing to act — along with Moscow — after telephone talks with Trump on Monday Tokyo time.

The North had “trampled all over” efforts to seek a peaceful solution to the situation and “unilaterally escalated” tensions.

“The international community including China and Russia must take it seriously and step up pressure,” he told reporters.
– ‘Stern warning’ –

Pyongyang lauded the developers of the missile at the weekend, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

The US-led campaign only provided “further justification” for the North’s resolve to maintain its weapons programs, Pyongyang’s foreign ministry said in a statement carried by KCNA.

The ICBM test “is meant to send a stern warning to the US making senseless remarks, being lost to reason in the frantic sanctions and pressure campaign against the DPRK,” it said, using an acronym for the North’s official name.

Independent experts say it brings Los Angeles and Chicago within range, and could travel as far as Boston and New York.

Pacific Air Forces commander General Terrence O’Shaughnessy called Pyongyang “the most urgent threat to regional stability.”

“If called upon, we are ready to respond with rapid, lethal and overwhelming force at a time and place of our choosing,” he said.

In a 10-hour joint mission at the weekend US B-1B bombers along with fighter jets from the South Korean and Japanese air forces practiced intercept and formation drills.

It was followed by the successful test of the missile defense system, with the launch of a medium-range missile over the Pacific that was “detected, tracked and intercepted” in Alaska.

In a standard response to the test, Beijing urged restraint by all sides, after the US and South Korea conducted a live-fire exercise using surface-to-surface missiles.

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



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Australian Plane Plot May Have Involved Bomb Or Gas: Reports


The suspects allegedly wanted to carry the device on a flight from Australia to the middle east (AFP)

Four men accused of plotting to bring down a plane planned to use poisonous gas or a crude bomb disguised as a meat mincer, reports said Monday, with Australian officials calling preparations “advanced”.

The men — reportedly two Lebanese-Australian fathers and their sons — were arrested in raids across Sydney on Saturday evening.

The Sydney Daily Telegraph said they allegedly planned to carry the device on board a commercial flight from Sydney to a Middle East destination as hand luggage.

It said the idea was to use wood scrapings and explosive material inside a piece of kitchen equipment such as a mincing machine.

The Sydney Morning Herald also reported that a mincer was being examined, while The Australian newspaper cited multiple sources as saying it was a “non-traditional” device that could have emitted a toxic sulphur-based gas.

This, it said, would have killed or immobilised everyone on the aircraft.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the plans were “advanced” but refused to comment on the conflicting claims over the method of attack.

“I have to respect the integrity of the investigations,” he said.

“But I can say that certainly the police will allege they had the intent and were developing the capability.

“There will obviously be more to say over coming days. It will be alleged that this was an Islamist, extremist terrorist motivation.”

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin on Sunday said the aviation industry was potentially a target and that an improvised explosive device was involved.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan on Monday called the plans “quite sophisticated”.

“It was a plot to bring down an aircraft with the idea of smuggling a device on to it to enable them to do that,” he said.

A magistrate late Sunday gave police an additional seven days to detain the men, who have not been officially named, without charge.

Police continued to gather evidence Monday at the five homes raided, warning the investigation would be “very long and protracted”.

TV footage on Saturday showed riot police moving on a terraced house in the inner-city suburb of Surry Hills, with a man with a bandage on his head being led away by authorities, draped in a blanket.

A woman at the address denied they had any link to terrorism.

Security has been strengthened at major domestic and international airports across Australia since the raids, with passengers asked to arrive early and to limit their baggage.

Australia’s national terror alert level was raised on September 2014 amid concerns over attacks by individuals inspired by organisations such as Islamic State.

A total of 12 attacks, before the latest one, have been prevented in the past few years, while 70 people have been charged.

Several terror attacks have taken place in Australia in recent years, including a Sydney cafe siege in 2014 that saw two hostages killed.

 



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Woman Blames Trump Selfies For Her Divorce


The news release begins with a statement as terse and vague as you would expect from a high-profile couple confirming their divorce, after reporters got wind of it.

Lynn and Dave Aronberg – a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader and the top prosecutor in Palm Beach County, Florida, respectively – have “decided to respectfully and amicably part ways and end our marriage,” they announced in a joint statement last week.

“We kindly ask for your support in preserving our privacy as we start to navigate this new chapter of our lives.”

So far, so standard.

And then, mystifyingly, the next seven paragraphs of the news release are spent obliterating privacy and expectations alike.

The release, which was issued by Lynn Aronberg’s PR representative, quotes almost verbatim from a gossip website about the “brand new BMW” and tens of thousands of dollars that she apparently extracted from her husband in a settlement.

It claims the state attorney’s reluctance to have children contributed to the breakup.

And it concludes with the line that would propel the couple’s divorce case from Palm Beach County gossip pages to international news:

“A staunch Republican and supporter of President Donald Trump, Lynn also said she felt increasingly isolated in the marriage.”

Or as the PR firm headlined it: “the Trump Divorce.”

With the same anonymous sources and exclamation points it would use to chronicle the demise of their marriage, the website Gossip Extra broke news of the couple’s engagement minutes after it took place in late 2014:

“EXCLUSIVE,” reads the headline, “State Attorney Dave Aronberg Asks ex-Miami Dolphins Cheerleader to Marry Him … Atop Eiffel Tower … She Says Yes!”

They had met years earlier, Lynn Aronberg told The Washington Post, when he was a state senator in the 2000s. She described herself as a lifelong Republican and him as “a short Democrat” who nevertheless appealed to her.

They married on a beach in 2015. The gossip site covered that, too.

Though she put aside cheerleading years ago to build a career in publicity, Aronberg, 37, said her husband’s liberal supporters came to regard her as “the hayseed wife” – nearly 10 years his junior, with intolerable politics.

“It wasn’t an issue at first, but that was before the Hillary-Trump saga,” she said. “And as that built, the tension in our relationship built.”

Despite his affiliation in the Florida statehouse, Aronberg is not exactly a party-line Democrat.

He was elected to the state attorney’s office in 2012 with the help of Republican donors, according to the Palm Beach Post.

And the prosecutor has been spotted multiple times at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, according to the newspaper – despite backing Hillary Clinton in the 2016 race; investigating assault accusations against Trump’s campaign manager that year; and recent reports that he may be considering a bid for U.S. Congress under the Democratic banner.

While Lynn Aronberg has been a Trump fan since his days on “The Apprentice” – she owns a three-legged dog named Ivanka – she said her husband had known the mogul for years.

He raised political funds at Mar-a-Lago, she said, and took her to the resort nearly every weekend – even as Trump’s brand became increasingly toxic to her husband’s liberal base.

“I’m walking through the red carpet, and he’s sneaking through the bushes,” she said, recalling selfies she snapped with the future president and his wife, Melania Trump, while her husband would “run and hide from the photographers.”

“He’d ask me to not to take pictures. He wouldn’t want me to post them,” she said.

“I did not listen to him.”

Her Facebook wall and photo galleries attest to that. Grinning with Melania Trump in multiple photos. Posing with the future president in a gold-trimmed ballroom on New Year’s Eve, three weeks before he moved into the White House.

“He’s really nice,” Lynn Aronberg said of Donald Trump. “He’s like: ‘Dave: How did you get her to marry you?'”

But staying married to him became a strain as the presidential race wore on, she told The Post. At the couple’s home in West Palm Beach, she said, her selfie habit drew irritated phone calls from her husband’s supporters.

“You know, the unions,” she said. “Or sometimes he wouldn’t even tell me who was calling him, to say not to post pictures of Trump or Melania.”

She would refuse the requests, she said.

Eventually she’d do so in public.

“So what if I like Ivanka Trump or a conservative issue on social media?” Lynn Aronberg told Gossip Extra in February, the same month she filed for divorce. “So what if I invite Melania to be in my book group?”

“Dave Aronberg’s Divorce Getting Downright Ugly!” the website reported in June, quoting an unnamed friend of the family.

And then last week, “a source familiar with the negotiations” gave Gossip Extra details of a settlement that Aronberg reportedly signed with her husband: “$100,000 worth of goodies in exchange for her signature on the dotted line.”

And the website expanded on their private woes:

“They have no children, which was a problem for Lynn,” it reported. And then all the stuff about Trump.

These articles were no more popular with her husband’s supporters than her selfies, Lynn Aronberg told The Post: “They’d get mad and try to say I’m leaking it.”

She denied doing so. She also declined to discuss her divorce settlement with The Post – and said she didn’t know how the same details that Gossip Extra reported ended up in a news release on Thursday, released by her PR representative, beneath the couple’s brief statement confirming “the end of our marriage.”

Not that Lynn Aronberg minded the leaks, exactly.

“I trust them,” she said of the PR firm, TransMedia. “I don’t care if they’re repeating something Gossip Extra already said.”

Lynn Aronberg runs a separate PR company under her own name but said she used to work for TransMedia, which currently lists her as an executive vice president, though she denied being an employee.

“She’s what we call a partner in our firm,” said Thomas Madden, TransMedia’s chief executive.

He said the company had gathered the Aronberg’s settlement details – along information about Trump’s role in the divorce – from “other sources.”

“There’s nothing inaccurate,” he said. “She did not violate any privacy agreements.”

Dave Aronberg, who has been approached about running for U.S. Congress, couldn’t be reached for comment.

A spokesman for the prosecutor, Christian Ulvert, confirmed that Aronberg had reached a settlement in his divorce but declined to discuss it or the private details that appeared in his wife’s news release.

“My client’s ready to just close this chapter,” Ulvert said.

As for Lynn Aronberg, she told The Post that she remains friends with her soon-to-be-ex husband – though he’s not thrilled about the leaks, wherever they’re coming from.

She has dinner plans with Donald Trump Jr. coming up, she 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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Woman Rescued After Boa Constrictor Wraps Around Her Face


The snake and the Ohio woman it was wrapped around had not always been at odds.

The 911 dispatcher who answered the woman’s frantic call on Thursday was able to discern some aspects of the interspecies relationship that had suddenly and dangerously soured.

There had been some sort of rescue, the woman said after giving her location in the Ohio city of Sheffield Lake and a brief, breathless description of the predicament she was in, according to a 911 recording obtained by the Elyria, Ohio-based Chronicle-Telegram. The woman had brought the 5½-foot-long snake into her home along with another snake in recent days.

They joined a growing assemblage of legless reptiles. The woman possessed nine other snakes, presumably also rescues, but they weren’t loose and weren’t attacking people at the moment, she told the dispatcher.

What was unclear is where the woman’s rescue plan went so badly awry.

Now, she said, she was on the ground, with an unyielding boaconstrictor wrapped around her body.

“Oh, please. I have a boa constrictor stuck to my – my face,” she told the dispatcher.

The dispatcher seemed incredulous: “Ma’am, you have a what?”

“A boa constrictor,” the woman confirmed.

“You have a boa constrictor . . . You’re outside with a boa constrictor stuck to your face?”

The dispatcher notified paramedics, then tried to figure out more about the woman’s predicament, which was clearly petrifying her.

“Please hurry,” she screamed. “He has a hold of my nose.”

The snake wasn’t venomous, the woman said. And it wasn’t cutting off her breathing or circulation – at least not yet. But there was “blood everywhere.”

“Oh, God, hurry, please. He’s around my waist and he has my nose.”
The woman may have been in more danger than she or dispatchers thought at the time.

A 2015 study showed that boa constrictors don’t actually suffocate their prey, as The Washington Post’s Elahe Izadi reported. Their squeezing cuts off the unwitting victim’s blood flow, stopping oxygen from getting to the brain. Victims quickly lose consciousness, then die.

Near the end of the recording, she went silent for a while, but then sirens could be heard, growing louder, getting closer.

Sheffield Lake Fire Chief Tim Card told the Chronicle-Telegram what first responders found when they reached her.

“It was wrapped around her neck and biting her nose and wouldn’t let go,” Card said. “They had to cut its head off with a knife to get it to let go of her face.”

While it appeared to be the first snake attack of this magnitude in Sheffield Lake, such dangerous interactions are not uncommon, according to Born Free, an organization that advocates against owning exotic pets such as snakes.

The organization catalogued more than 471 attacks by snakes between 1995 and 2013. The numbers are probably higher, the organization said, if unreported incidents are factored in.

“Clearly this is a national problem,” Adam Roberts, then executive vice president of Born Free USA, said in a news release. “We are seriously concerned about the epidemic of owning deadly snakes. Large snake ownership remains unregulated or poorly regulated across the country. . . . Snakes are wild animals who cannot be trained and at any time can display their normal wild behavior, which may include a poisonous bite or strangulation.”

The Sheffield Lake woman was rescued, but it’s unclear what became of her snakes and of her.

Police said no report had been taken; it’s not known whether the woman faced charges or had her 10 remaining snakes removed. 

Boaconstrictors are not listed as one of the dangerous wild animals prohibited under the Ohio Dangerous Wild Animal Act. (Other snakes, including various species of anacondas and pythons, are on the list.)

All a reporter found at the scene were the remnants of what had transpired: an empty glass cage on the sidewalk and a small puddle of blood in the driveway.

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



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US Flexes Military Muscle After North Korea's Latest Missile Test


The United States pointedly showed off its military prowess over the Pacific and the Korean Peninsula on Sunday in response to North Korea’s launch Friday of a missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, a test Pyongyang said was a “stern warning” for Washington to back off from threats and more sanctions.

In a sign that tensions are spiraling upward rapidly, the United States flew two supersonic B-1 bombers over the Korean Peninsula as part of a joint exercise with Japan and South Korea. And U.S. forces conducted a successful missile defense test over the Pacific Ocean, sending aloft from Alaska a medium-range ballistic missile that it detected, tracked and intercepted using the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System.

The sense that time is running out in the confrontation with North Korea was reinforced when Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, retweeted a photo of the bomber drills and wrote, in her own words, “Done talking about NKorea. China is aware they must act. Japan & SKorea must inc pressure. Not only a US problem.”

Amid the show of force by the United States and its allies, North Korea said it would respond with a “resolute act of justice” if it were provoked either militarily or economically.

“In case the U.S. fails to come to its own senses and continues to resort to military adventure and ‘tough sanctions,’ the DPRK will respond with its resolute act of justice,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman saying, using the acronym for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The spokesman said the United States should “wake up from the foolish dream of doing any harm to the DPRK,” and warned Washington against a preemptive nuclear strike.

“If the Yankees … dare brandish the nuclear stick on this land again … the DPRK will clearly teach them manners with the nuclear strategic force,” the spokesman said.

The Trump administration’s frustration has grown exponentially in recent days, since Pyongyang on Friday conducted its second successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Though it landed off the Japanese coast, experts said if the missile had flown in a lower arc it could have reached the U.S. mainland.

U.S. officials have been trying to get China, North Korea’s main trading partner and economic lifeline, to exert pressure on its neighbor. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has called Beijing and Moscow the “principal economic enablers” of Pyongyang. Though China voted last year for harsh U.N. sanctions against the country’s leaders and state-tied companies, it fears that a destabilized regime would send refugees flooding across the border and has urged dialogue as the only pragmatic approach.

President Donald Trump on Saturday berated China, tweeting that “they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue.” And Vice President Mike Pence, traveling Sunday in Estonia, told reporters that “all options are on the table.”

“The continued provocations by the rogue regime in North Korea are unacceptable, and the United States of America is going to continue to marshal the support of nations across the region and across the world to further isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically,” Pence said.

North Korea tested its first nuclear weapon in 2006 and has been burdened with six sets of U.N. sanctions since then. The North claims its weapons are for defensive purposes. But a series of missile launches and tests conducted since Kim Jong Un came to power have increased concern that North Korea may be closing in on the ability to fit a nuclear weapon on a missile’s nose cone.

The North Korean leader himself had openly boasted that more missile tests would be coming. In late March, he vowed to send a “bigger gift package to the Yankees,” state-run media reported.

“People have been warning about the North Korean ICBM for 20 years,” Joseph Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “But the wolf is at the door. This a very real threat to the United States.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” called North Korea a “clear and present danger” that must be taken seriously.

“I’m convinced that North Korea has never moved at the speed that this leader has to develop an ICBM to put solid fuel, to have an interesting launch device, and to have a trajectory which, as of the latest analysis, would enable it to go about 6,000 miles and maybe even hit as far east as Chicago,” she said. “We can’t have that.”

Feinstein said she hoped John F. Kelly, the incoming White House chief of staff who starts his new position Monday, would be able to begin negotiations with Pyongyang that would eventually end its nuclear program.

For now, however, worried capitals are focusing on bulking up their militaries. South Korea announced Saturday that it will start talks with the White House about building more powerful ballistic missiles capable of striking the North.

And the U.S. military was blunt in its assessment of the threat posed by North Korea. In a statement accompanying the departure of the two B-1 bombers from Guam to the Korean Peninsula, the Pacific Air Forces commander, Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, called the country the “most urgent threat to regional stability.”

“If called upon, we are ready to respond with rapid, lethal, and overwhelming force at a time and place of our choosing,” he said.

The Washington Post’s Ashley Parker and Madhumita Murgia contributed to this report.

(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 To Elect New Prime Minister On Tuesday


The ruling party named Sharif’s younger brother Shahbaz as his successor over the weekend

Islamabad:  Pakistan’s parliament will meet on Tuesday to elect a new prime minister after the Supreme Court disqualified Nawaz Sharif following an investigation into corruption allegations against his family.

The ruling party named Sharif’s younger brother Shahbaz as his successor over the weekend, but he must first enter parliament by contesting the seat left vacant by Sharif.

In the meantime the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which enjoys a majority in parliament, has nominated ex-oil minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as interim prime minister.

The top court ousted Sharif Friday after an investigation into corruption allegations against him and his family, bringing his historic third term in power to an unceremonious end and briefly plunging the nuclear-armed nation into political instability.

Nawaz Sharif was the 15th prime minister in Pakistan’s 70-year history — roughly half of which was under military rule — to be ousted before completing a full term.

“The nomination papers — shall be delivered to the Secretary, National Assembly by 2.00 pm, on Monday,” said a notification by the National Assembly Secretariat and seen by AFP.

It said the assembly would meet at 3:00 pm Tuesday (1000 GMT) to elect a prime minister.

Abbasi is set to be rubber-stamped as placeholder in the parliamentary vote. The opposition could also field a candidate but has little chance of securing enough votes in the 342-seat house.

The younger Sharif — who is chief minister of the country’s most populous province of Punjab — has so far managed to remain unscathed by the corruption allegations engulfing his brother’s family.
 

imran khan afp

Imran Khan is hoping to win support for his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

On Saturday the Election Commission said fresh elections would be held in Nawaz Sharif’s former constituency, in the family’s power base in Punjab, in a process that could take up to 45 days.

‘Corrupt mafia’

At least 20,000 supporters of Pakistan’s main opposition leader Imran Khan crowded into an arena on Sunday evening for a raucous rally — dubbed the “Thanksgiving Rally” — to celebrate Sharif’s ousting.

With corruption allegations engulfing the powerful Sharif family — a dominant force in the country’s politics for the last three decades — cricketer-turn-politician Khan is hoping to win support for his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

“We will start accountability from the top,” he told a sea of supporters, including hundreds of women and families, who defied the heat and humidity to cheer him on.

Criticising the dynastic nature of the Sharif transfer of power, he demanded: “Is there no one else in your (Sharif’s) party to make prime minister?… It’s not democracy, it’s a kingdom.”

More than 3,000 security officers were on hand at the rally, which had a festive atmosphere with Khan supporters decked out in the party’s red and green colours. Some estimated the crowd size at as high as 40,000.

“I am here for solidarity with Imran Khan. He is the only leader who can rid this nation of dynastic politics,” said Iqbal Shah, 60, who had travelled from the country’s northwest to support Khan.

Khan himself also faces graft allegations in court linked to the non-disclosure of assets and offshore companies — similar charges that brought down Sharif.

The case, brought by a member of Sharif’s PML-N party, seeks to have Khan disqualified on the same contentious clause in the constitution that ousted Sharif — the requirement that Pakistani politicians be honest.

Khan’s lawyers have denied all charges and say his wealth stems from his lucrative cricketing career.



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Vladimir Putin Orders Cut Of 755 Personnel At US Missions In Russia


Vladimir Putin said that the number of American diplomatic and technical personnel will be capped at 455

Moscow:  Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday that the U.S. diplomatic missions in Moscow and elsewhere in the country will have to reduce their staffs by 755 people, signaling a dramatic escalation in the Russian response to American sanctions over the Kremlin’s intervention in the 2016 presidential elections.

The United States and Russia have expelled dozens of each other’s diplomats before – but Sunday’s statement, made by Putin in an interview with the Rossiya-1 television channel, indicated the single largest forced reduction in embassy staff, comparable only to the closing of the American diplomatic presence in the months following the Communist revolution in 1917.

In the interview, Putin said that the number of American diplomatic and technical personnel will be capped at 455 – equivalent to the number of their Russian counterparts working in the United States. Currently, close to 1,200 employees work at the United States’ embassy and consulates in Russia, according to U.S. and Russian data.

“More than a thousand employees — diplomats and technical employees – have worked and are still working in Russia these days,” Putin told journalist Vladimir Solovyov on a nationally televised news show Sunday evening. “Some 755 of them will have to terminate their activity.”

The Kremlin had said Friday, as the Senate voted to strengthen sanctions on Russia, that some American diplomats would be expelled, but the size of the reduction is dramatic. It covers the main embassy in Moscow, as well as missions in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok.

“This is a landmark moment,” Andrei Kolesnikov, a journalist for the newspaper Kommersant who regularly travels with Putin and has interviewed him extensively over the past 17 years, told the Post in an interview on Friday. “His patience has seriously run out, and everything that he’s been putting off in this conflict, he’s now going to do.”

The Russian government is also seizing two diplomatic properties – a dacha, or country house, in a leafy neighborhood in Moscow, and a warehouse – following the decision by the Obama administration in December to take possession of two Russian mansions in the United States.

The move comes as it has become apparent that Russia has abandoned its hopes for better relations with the United States under a Trump administration.

During the interview, Putin said that he expected relations between the United States and Russia to worsen, and that Russa would likely come up with other measures to counter American financial sanctions, which were passed by the House and Senate last week and which President Donald Trump has said he will sign.

The reduction in U.S. diplomatic and technical staff is a response to President Barack Obama’s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats in December in response to the alleged Russian hacking of the mail servers of the Democratic National Committee. The United States also revoked access to two Russian diplomatic compounds on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and on Long Island. American officials said they were used for intelligence collection.

It is not yet clear how the State Department will reduce its staff in Russia. Many of the 1,200 employees are local hires and support staff, some hired to help with a significant expansion of the U.S. embassy compound in Moscow.

The move increases the likelihood of new, perhaps asymmetrical reprisals by the United States in coming days.

Michael McFaul, former ambassador to Russia, tweeted Sunday: “If these cuts are real, Russians should expect to wait weeks if not months to get visas to come to US.”

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



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Nawaz Sharif Vacates Official Residence, Leaves For Murree


Nawaz Sharif shifted to his private residence in the hill resort of Murree near Islamabad.

ISLAMABAD:  Pakistan’s ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today vacated the official residence and shifted to the hill resort of Murree along with his family, days after he was disqualified by the Supreme Court.

A five-member bench of the Supreme Court on Friday disqualified 67-year-old Sharif for dishonesty and ruled that corruption cases be filed against him and his children over the Panama Papers scandal, forcing the embattled leader out of office.

Mr Sharif left the PM House with his wife Kulsum Nawaz, daughter Maryam Nawaz and his son-in-law Captain (Retd) Safdar and shifted to his private residence in the hill resort of Murree near Islamabad.

He met the staff before leaving. The luggage of the former first family was already shifted, local media reports said.

Ousted finance minister and Mr Sharif confidante Ishaq Dar also left for Murree with the Mr Sharif family.

The PM House, nestled in the foothills of Margalla Hills overlooking the capital Islamabad, would be renovated for the new occupant, officials said.

It is not known for how long Mr Sharif would stay in Murree, a place he likes a lot and has been visiting frequently since he was the chief minister of Punjab.

Mr Sharif stepped down after the Supreme Court disqualified him for failing to declare “receivable” salary from a UAE based company of his son in his 2013 nomination paper. The court termed the salary which was not paid to Mr Sharif as an “asset”.

Senior PML-N leader and former petroleum minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will run the PML-N government as interim prime minister of Pakistan until Shehbaz Sharif gets set to succeed his brother Nawaz Sharif as the Pakistan prime minister.



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After American Sanctions, Putin Orders 755 US Diplomats To Leave Russia


More than a thousand people are still working at the US embassy, said Vladimir Putin.

Moscow:  President Vladimir Putin said 755 US diplomats must leave Russia and warned ties with Washington could be gridlocked for a long time, in a move Sunday that followed tough new American sanctions.

The Russian foreign ministry had earlier demanded Washington cut its diplomatic presence in Russia by September to 455 — the same number Moscow has in the US.

“More than a thousand people were working and are still working” at the US embassy and consulates, Putin said in an interview with Rossia-24 television.

“755 people must stop their activities in Russia.”

Putin added that an upturn in Russia’s relations with Washington could not be expected “any time soon”.

“We have waited long enough, hoping that the situation would perhaps change for the better,” he said.

“But it seems that even if the situation is changing, it’s not for any time soon.”

On Thursday, the US Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill to toughen sanctions on Russia for allegedly meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and for its annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Iran and North Korea are also targeted in the sanctions bill.

The law now goes to President Donald Trump who had made an improvement in ties with Russia a plank of his election campaign.

Moscow on Friday ordered the US to slash its number of diplomats in Russia to 455 and froze two embassy compounds — a Moscow summer house and a storage facility in the city — from August 1.

In December, the then US president Barack Obama ordered out 35 Russian diplomats and closed down two embassy summer houses that Washington said were being used by Moscow for espionage.

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



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Huge Fire At Spain Music Festival Prompts Exodus


The fire incident led to the evacuation of some 22,000 people. (AFP)

Madrid:  A huge fire forced more than 22,000 people to flee an electronic music festival near Barcelona in an incident that organisers blamed on a technical fault.

No one was hurt in Saturday’s blaze, after firefighters speedily extinguished flames at the Tomorrowland festival in Santa Coloma de Gramenet in the country’s northeast.

But around 20 people had to be treated for anxiety attacks or minor injuries, the fire service said in a statement, noting that 22,143 people had to be removed because of the inferno.

Footage of the incident showed one side of the stage consumed by giant flames, a shower of sparks raining down as people ran away and black smoke billowed up.

It was not clear exactly what caused the fire but organisers said on their Facebook page it was due to a technical malfunction.

“Thanks to the professional intervention of the authorities all 22,000 visitors were evacuated safely and without reports of injuries,” they said.

According to other images on social media the concert appeared to be drawing to a close after a pyrotechnics show when the fire started.

A civil defence official told AFP the first alarm was received at 10.45pm (2045 GMT) and the fire was extinguished 35 minutes later by when all the concertgoers had left.

“The safety plan for the event worked perfectly,” said the official, noting that there had not been panic among the crowd.

Video showed a giant screen displaying the message: “Remain calm and follow instructions.”

Fire experts were due Sunday to investigate at the scene of the blaze, alongside officials from the company that erected the stage, having first removed any dangerous remnants.

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



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