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Showing posts from August, 2020

Donald Trump administration says Sinochem and others backed by Chinese military

The Donald Trump administration has determined that another 11 Chinese firms, including construction giant China Communications Construction Company, are owned or controlled by the Chinese military, laying the groundwork for new sanctions. The new list comes after the Pentagon earlier this year designated 20 top Chinese firms as Chinese military companies operating directly or indirectly in the United States, including those "owned or controlled" by the People`s Liberation Army that provides commercial services, manufacture, produce or export. The updated list, released Friday by the Pentagon, also included China Three Gorges Corporation Limited, Sinochem Group Co Ltd and China Spacesat. The Pentagon`s designations do not trigger penalties, but a 1999 law that mandates compilation of the list says the president may impose sanctions that could include blocking all property of the listed parties. The Pentagon has come under pressure from lawmakers of both U.S. political parti…

US House panel announces contempt proceedings against Mike Pompeo

The US House Foreign Affairs Committee announced contempt proceedings against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday, citing his refusal to comply with a subpoena for records into his "transparently political misuse" of department resources. The Democratic chairman of the committee, Eliot Engel, also cited a speech Pompeo recorded in Jerusalem for this week`s Republican National Convention and said he had "demonstrated alarming disregard for the laws and rules governing his own conduct and for the tools the constitution provides to prevent government corruption." "He seems to think the office he holds, the department he runs, the personnel he oversees, and the taxpayer dollars that pay for all of it are there for his personal and political benefit," Engel said. The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The committee last month issued a subpoena to Pompeo demanding documents he provided to Republicans investigating D…

Elon Musk's net worth tops $100 billion: Forbes

Silicon Valley entrepreneur Elon Musk`s net worth topped $100 billion on Friday, according to the Forbes real-time billionaires list, as the shares of electric-car maker Tesla Inc see a more than five-fold surge in value this year. A large chunk of his wealth comes from the 21% stake in Tesla, according to Forbes. Tesla shares, which went public at $17 a piece in 2010, rose as much as 3.5% in morning trade to a record high of $2,318.49. The company became the world`s most valuable carmaker by market capitalization on July 1 when it overtook front runner Toyota Motor Corp and has over the last 10 years made many of its retail investors millionaires. Musk is now part of an elite club of just four others with twelve digit net worth. His nearly $100 billion, however, is just about half the net worth of the world`s richest man and Amazon.com Inc CEO Jeff Bezos, according to Forbes. Musk, who co-founded and sold Internet payments company PayPal Holdings Inc, now leads some of the most futu…

Singapore battles record dengue outbreak with more than 26000 cases

From the high balcony of a Singapore public housing block, an environment official steadies his mosquito launcher, the latest contraption authorities have devised to combat a record outbreak of the tropical disease dengue. With the click of a button and whirr of a fan, a hatch opens and 150 lab-reared male mosquitoes are sent flying, off in search of a female companion with whom they can mate but not reproduce. The dengue virus, which in rare cases can be fatal, is carried and spread to humans by infected mosquitoes. But Singapore`s specially bred mosquitoes carry a bacteria that prevents eggs from hatching, and "compete with the wild type," leading to "a gradual reduction of the mosquito population," said Ng Lee Ching, the official heading the Wolbachia project, named after the bacteria. Some areas with high mosquito populations have seen up to 90% declines using this technique, she added. Singapore - a tiny Southeast Asian island nation of 5.7 million people - …

China escalated its exercise activities by firing ballistic missiles in South China Sea: US

China has escalated its previously announced exercise activities in the South China Sea by launching four medium-range missiles impacting the stretch between Hainan Island and the Paracel Islands, the Pentagon said Thursday. The Department of Defense is concerned about China's recent decision to conduct military exercises, including the firing of ballistic missiles, around the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on August 23-29, the Pentagon said in a statement. Conducting military exercises over disputed territory in the South China Sea is counterproductive to easing tensions and maintaining stability, the Pentagon said, adding that Chinese actions, including missile tests, further destabilise the situation in the South China Sea. Such exercises also violate China's commitments under the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea to avoid activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability, and call into question its…

Italy rules out new lockdown amid increasing coronavirus cases

The Italian government is not considering new lockdown to curb coronavirus infections, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said in a newspaper interview on Sunday, despite a steady rise in new cases over the past month. Italy, one of Europe`s worst-hit countries with more than 35,000 deaths, on Saturday reported 1,071 new coronavirus infections, exceeding 1,000 cases in a day for the first time since the government eased its rigid lockdown measures in May. "We will not have a new lockdown," Speranza told daily newspaper La Stampa, saying the current situation cannot be compared to February and March when the disease was spreading out of control and it was difficult to track and isolate infected people. "I am optimistic, although prudent. Our national health service has become much stronger." Speranza added that Italy has doubled the number of beds in intensive care units. The number of new infections remains considerably lower than those registered in Spain and Franc…

Colombia violence: Three attacks in last 24 hours leave at least 17 dead

Three attacks in the last 24 hours have left at least 17 dead across Colombia in regions contested by drug traffickers, criminal groups and dissidents of the demobilized FARC guerrillas, officials and local media reported on Saturday. Separate attacks each reported leaving six people dead took place in the Colombian provinces of Narino and Cauca, while a further five people were also reported killed in Arauca province. "We don`t know if the dead form part of an organization or if they are family members," General Nairo Martinez, commander of the Army`s Hercules Task Force, told local Caracol Radio in reference to the killings in Narino. President Ivan Duque lamented the deaths in a message via his Twitter account. "We are pained by the deaths caused by the violence driven by drug trafficking and terrorism," he said. The attacks were also condemned by Human Rights Watch Americas director Jose Miguel Vivanco. "The security situation is deteriorating noticeably,…

Pakistan sanctions Afghan Taliban, Haqqani Network to evade global financial blacklisting

At a time when Afghan Taliban, the United States and the Ashraf Ghani government of Afghanistan are on the verge of initiating the intra-Afghan dialogue, Pakistan government has issued a statutory notification, ordering the imposition of sanctions on those Afghan Taliban leaders and groups, including the Haqqani Network, who are on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanction list. In the notification, the government has enforced immediate steps including assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo on the Afghan insurgent group, the Haqqani Network. Government sources confirmed that the step has been taken in compliance with the UNSC sanctions against the group. As per the government source, Section 10 of the statutory notification aka SRO, explained the purpose of issuance of the new SRO which maintained "in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 2 of the United Nation`s Security Council Act 1948, the Federal Government is pleased to order that the Resolution 2255 (2…

3 IED blasts rock Afghanistan's capital Kabul; 1 dead, four injured

One security personnel died while four others, including a civilian, sustained injuries following three Improvised Explosive Device (IED) explosions in Kabul on Saturday (August 22, 2020). As per TOLO News quoting the Kabul Police statement, the first blast happened in the Sarak-e-Naw area in Kabul`s PD5 (police district 5).  The blast killed one member of the security force and injured two (including a civilian). While the second blast happened in Hangarha Roundabout in Kabul`s PD15 at around 7:20 am where two policemen were wounded.  The blast targetted a police vehicle, TOLO News reported further quoting the police statement. The third explosion happened in the Company area in Kabul`s PD5 but there were no casualties reported.

Pakistan puts more curbs on Hafiz Saeed, Masood Azhar and Dawood Ibrahim to avoid FATF blacklisting

Seeking to wriggle out of the FATF's grey list, Pakistan has imposed tough financial sanctions on 88 banned terror groups and their leaders, including Hafiz Saeed, Masood Azhar and Dawood Ibrahim, by ordering the seizure of all of their properties and freezing of bank accounts, a media report said on Saturday. The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) put Pakistan on the grey list in June 2018 and asked Islamabad to implement a plan of action by the end of 2019, but the deadline was extended later due to COVID-19 pandemic. The government issued two notifications on August 18 announcing sanctions on key figures of terror outfits such as 26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Saeed, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Azhar, and underworld don Ibrahim. Ibrahim, who heads a vast and multifaceted illegal business, has emerged as India's most wanted terrorist after the 1993 Mumbai bombings. The Pakistan government has proscribed 88 leaders and members of t…