Previous123456789...6970Next

‘Appalling and unacceptable’: Australian PM on female passengers’ physical examinations on 10 planes flying out of Doha


‘Appalling and unacceptable’: Australian PM on female passengers’ physical examinations on 10 planes flying out of Doha

Australia revealed Wednesday that female passengers on 10 planes flying out of Doha were forced to endure “appalling” physical examinations, as Qatar expressed regret for the distress caused to the women.

The Gulf emirate had already been facing a huge hit to its reputation after reports emerged that women were removed from a Sydney-bound Qatar Airways flight and forced to undergo vaginal inspections on October 2.

The searches were carried after a newborn baby had been abandoned at Doha airport. Qatar’s government said Wednesday in its first account of the events that the baby had been wrapped in plastic and left to die in a rubbish bin.

But Australia continued to pile pressure on Qatar, with Foreign Minister Marise Payne announcing that the number of planes targeted was much greater than a single flight.

She told a Senate committee that women on “10 aircraft in total” had been subject to the searches, including 18 women — including 13 Australians — on flight to Sydney.

AFP understands one French woman on the Sydney-bound plane was also among them.

Payne did not detail the destinations of the other flights, adding she was unaware if any Australian women were on those planes.

Payne had already described the incidents as “grossly disturbing” and “offensive”.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also weighed into the controversy on Wednesday, describing the treatment of the women as “appalling” and “unacceptable”.

“As a father of a daughter, I could only shudder at the thought that anyone would, Australian or otherwise, would be subjected to that,” he said.

Qatar is a conservative Muslim monarchy, where sex and childbirth out of wedlock are punishable by jail.

Ahead of its hosting of football’s World Cup in 2022, it has struggled to reassure critics that its promises on women’s rights, labour relations and democracy are credible.

‘Distress’

Facing potentially devastating commercial and reputational damage, Qatar’s government released a statement Wednesday to explain its version of events while promising to ensure the future “safety, security and comfort” of passengers.

“While the aim of the urgently-decided search was to prevent the perpetrators of the horrible crime from escaping, the State of Qatar regrets any distress or infringement on the personal freedoms of any traveller caused by this action,” the statement.

Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al-Thani had ordered an investigation and the results would be shared with international partners, it added.

However, the statement did not specifically detail that women had been forcibly examined, only referring to a “search for the parents”.

The statement said the newborn baby was a girl and had been “concealed” in a plastic bag and buried under garbage in the bin.

“The baby girl was rescued from what appeared to be a shocking and appalling attempt to kill her. The infant is now safe under medical care in Doha,” it said.

Human Rights Watch called Wednesday for the airport incident to trigger much greater reforms to protect women.

“In Qatar and across the Gulf region, sexual relations outside of wedlock are criminalised, meaning a pregnant woman who is not married, even if the pregnancy is the result of rape, may end up facing arrest and prosecution,” the watchdog said in a statement.

“Qatar should prohibit forced gynaecological exams and investigate and bring to account any individuals who authorised any demeaning treatment. It should also decriminalise sex outside of wedlock.”

Qatar Airways is one of the few airlines that has maintained flights to Australia since the country closed its international border early in the pandemic and restricted the return of its own citizens.




Indian expats can now give UAE local address in passports


Indian expats can now give UAE local address in passports

Siddhartha Kumar Baraily, Consul, Passport and Attestation, at the Indian Consulate in Dubai said the Indian government had decided to allow its overseas citizens to add their local address in their country of residence mainly to aid those who do not have permanent or valid addresses in India.

Indian expats living in the UAE can now provide their local address abroad to be added in their passports.

Siddhartha Kumar Baraily, Consul, Passport and Attestation, at the Indian Consulate in Dubai said the Indian government had decided to allow its overseas citizens to add their local address in their country of residence mainly to aid those who do not have permanent or valid addresses in India.

“We understand that many people who have been staying in the UAE for a long time don’t have a valid address in India. They may add their local UAE address in their passports,” he said.

Change in address cannot be made in existing passports, the official clarified. Indian passport holders have to apply for a new passport in which the change in address can be made, Gulf news reported.

The facility can be availed by Indian expats living in both rented or self-owned accommodations. Those wishing to give their UAE address should provide certain documents as proof of residence at the time of applying for a new passport for changing the address from India to overseas.

Baraily said either the electricity and water bill (from Dewa/Sewa/Fewa) or rent agreement/title deed/tenancy contract will be accepted as proof of residence in the UAE. Changing their address may help applicants to get quick police verification from India at the time of passport renewal.

As first reported by Gulf News on Tuesday morning, police verification is now mandatory for the passport renewal of all Indian expats as per a change in the policy of India’s Ministry of External Affairs implemented since September.

However, the diplomat clarified that police verification of Indians abroad does not require verification of the address of the applicant.

“This (police verification) is just to verify the identity of the applicants as Indian citizens and that there are no criminal cases registered against them since the time of the last police verification done on them,” he explained.

The mission is, however, encouraging Indians without a valid address to change their address, whether in India or locally.




Russian FM self-isolating after coronavirus patient contact


Russian FM self-isolating after coronavirus patient contact

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is self-isolating after coming into contact with someone who has the coronavirus, the Sputnik news agency reported, citing the Russian Foreign Ministry.

“Because of the contact with a person who has COVID-19, Sergei Lavrov will self-isolate. Visits and meetings that were planned will be postponed,” the ministry said, according to the report, Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday.

Lavrov is feeling well, it added.




Disappointed with collapse of Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire: Trump


Disappointed with collapse of Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire: Trump

US President Donald Trump said that it was disappointing to see a US-brokered ceasefire reached between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region collapsed.

“It’s disappointing to see that, but that’s what happens when you have countries that have been going at it for a long time,” Trump told reporters on Tuesday when asked about the collapse of the newly reached ceasefire between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Xinhua news agency reported.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held separate phone conversations with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, according to a statement issued by the State Department earlier in the day.

“Secretary Pompeo pressed the leaders to abide by their commitments to cease hostilities and pursue a diplomatic solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, and noted that there is no military solution to this conflict,” said the statement.

The two warring parties agreed on a new humanitarian ceasefire in the Nagorno-Karabakh region that would take effect 0400 GMT Monday, according to a Sunday joint statement between the United States, Azerbaijan, and Armenia.

However, shortly after the truce came into effect, the two sides broke the ceasefire and traded accusations and attacks with each other.

The defence ministry of Azerbaijan said in a Monday statement that the Armenian side had shelled several regions including Tovuz and Gadabay in Azerbaijan since Monday morning.

Meanwhile, Armenia’s defence ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan accused Azerbaijani troops of opening artillery fire at the northeastern part of the Nagorno-Karabakh region soon after the ceasefire took effect.

Both sides denied accusations from the other party.

Monday’s ceasefire agreement was the third within weeks. The two other agreements were reached on October 10 and October 17, but both sides blamed each other for not observing them.

A new round of armed conflict broke out on September 27 along the contact line of the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been at loggerheads over the mountainous region since 1988. Peace talks have been held since 1994 when a ceasefire was reached, but sporadic clashes have been taking place.




Bulgarian PM tests positive for Covid-19


Bulgarian PM tests positive for Covid-19

The development comes in the wake of a recent spike in the number of new Covid-19 cases in Bulgaria.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov announced that he has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, joining a handful of world leaders to be infected with the disease.

In a Facebook post on Sunday, Borisov said: “After two PCR tests from today I’m positive with Covid-19. I generally have a general malaise, at the moment at the discretion of doctors I’m staying on home treatment.

“All contacts with me are submitted to the RZI (Metropolitan Regional Health Inspectorate). I’m sure that we will manage it together.”

The 61-year-old leader added that he has “postponed all meetings and public events for the upcoming days”.

The development comes in the wake of a recent spike in the number of new Covid-19 cases in Bulgaria.

The country has so far reported a total of 37,889 cases and 1,094

Borisov joins Polish President Andrzej Duda, US President Donald Trump, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the list of infected world leaders.




Chileans vote in constitutional referendum


Chileans vote in constitutional referendum

In the referendum, voters were asked to decide whether Chile needs a new constitution.

Chileans have cast their ballots in a referendum vote on re-drafting the country’s incumbent Constitution, which was enacted in 1980 during the reign of dictator Augusto Pinochet.

President Sebastian Pinera urged people to participate in Sunday poll after casting his vote earlier in the day, Xinhua news agency reported.

“I am asking you to come and vote because your voice, your opinion, is important to us,” Pinera told the media at a polling station.

“Vote so that all voices are heard. That is the way we strengthen our democracy and together build a better Chile for everyone,” he added

A plebiscite was initially scheduled for April 26, but postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Deputy Minister of Public Health Paula Daza told local press that those who have tested positive for the disease and their close contacts were barred from voting.

Voters were also required to wear a face mask, abide by social distancing rules at polling centres and bring their own pencil to mark the ballot.

In the referendum, voters were asked to decide whether Chile needs a new constitution and, if the answer is “yes”, should the document be drafted by Congress or by a constituent assembly elected solely for that purpose.

Holding the plebiscite was the centrepiece of the political class’ effort to defuse the unrest that began in October 2019 with protests against an increase in subway fares in Santiago and quickly grew into a national uprising over the extreme economic inequality prevailing in Chile.

More than 30 people have died in the course of protests, many at the hands of the police, who have been denounced by domestic and international organizations for torturing, sexually assaulting and maiming demonstrators.




Tasmania reopens to most of mainland Australia after 7 months


Tasmania reopens to most of mainland Australia after 7 months

Tasmania was the first region/territory in Australia to close its borders in March in the wake of the pandemic

Tasmania on Monday reopened its borders to most of mainland Australia. marking the first time in seven months that people can arrive in the island state without having to quarantine amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tasmania was the first region/territory in Australia to close its borders in March in the wake of the pandemic and has not reported any confirmed case more than 70 days, The Australian newspaper said in a report.

The island state’s borders were now reopened to Covid-19 low-risks jurisdictions in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, as well as New Zealand.

In a statement, Tasmania’s Health Minister Sarah Courtney said that all arrivals will be health screened and anyone with Covid-19 symptoms will be tested and ordered into quarantine until their result was known.

“While it’s exciting to be able to see restrictions ease and life getting to a Covid-normal, we also need to remember there is always a risk of coronavirus in our community,” she said, urging people to maintain social distancing and good personal hygiene.

So far, Tasmania has reported a total of 230 Covid-19 cases and 13 deaths.

As of Monday, Australia’s overall caseload and death toll stand at 27,520 and 905, respectively.




‘Donald Trump had offered me position of Secretary of State’: Nikki Haley


‘Donald Trump had offered me position of Secretary of State’: Nikki Haley

Popular Indian-American Republican politician Nikki Haley has revealed that Donald Trump, soon after winning the November 2016 US presidential election, had offered her the position of Secretary of State which she politely refused.

However, the 48-year-old Haley, who at that time was the South Carolina Governor, said she could not refuse the second offer of the post of US Ambassador to the United Nations as Trump had met all the conditions she had set for accepting the position.

Ms Haley, who went on to become one of the most successful US Ambassador to the UN, is now campaigning in support of Trump’s re-election bid.

“There is a stark contrast” between President Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden, she said at a fireside chat event organised by the Indian Voices for Trump in the battleground state of Philadelphia on Saturday.

“There is a lot at stake with this election,” she said.

Responding to a question from Dr Merlynn Carson, co-chair of Indian Voices for Trump, Ms Haley, for the first time, revealed that Trump, soon after winning the November 2016 presidential elections, offered her the position of Secretary of State. Trump sent a plane to fly her to New York.

However, Ms Haley said, she politely refused the offer, noting that she was not the right fit for the post as she had no experience.

Days later, after she returned from New York, Trump through his chief of staff offered her the position of US Ambassador to the United Nations.

Responding to the offer, she set three conditions — the position should be of Cabinet rank, the envoy should be a member of the national security council and that she will not be a yes-woman, Haley said.

To all the conditions, Trump”s response was: “Done. What next?”, leaving her with no option but to accept the position, she recalled.

Haley has been one of the most successful US Ambassadors to the UN, a position in which she served for nearly two years.

Ms Haley said Trump has stopped giving aids to countries like Pakistan, which harbour terrorists.

“The relationship (of US) with India (under Trump administration) has never been stronger,” she said, adding that President Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi get along very well.

Under Trump administration, the US is partnering with India on various issues, including defence, Haley said.

In the aftermath of the coronavirus, there is a far greater need to collaborate between India and the US, she said, referring to the increased co-operation between India and US along with Japan and Australia.

China, she said, is the number one national security threat to the US.

President Trump has “put China on notice,” Haley told the audience.

Trump is “not very much a politician”, “what you see, what he is,” she said when asked about the president. She referred to a conversation that she had with Trump, before he was scheduled a deliver an address at the United Nations and asked her opinion on calling the North Korean leader as the “Rocket Man”.




Kabul suicide attack death toll reaches 30


Kabul suicide attack death toll reaches 30

The death toll due to a suicide attack outside an education centre in the Afghan capital of Kabul has increased to 30, a security official confirmed on Sunday.

The number of injured in the attack that took place near the Kawsar educational centre on Saturday evening in the Pul-e-Khoshk area has also increased to more than 70, TOLO News quoted the official as saying.

The Interior Ministry said that the suicide bomber was identified by security guards at the centre and detonated his explosives just before reaching his target.

“Most of the victims are young and teenagers,” officials said.

The Islamic State terror group has claimed responsibility for the attack

According to witnesses, dozens of students were in their classes when the attack took place.

A number of nearby houses were also damaged in the attack.

A funeral ceremony will be held on Sunday for the victims of the attack.

The attack has been widely condemned, TOLO News reported.

Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council of National Reconciliation, said the incident was inhuman and against Islamic principles and values.

While, US Charge d’Affaires Ross Wilson reiterated that the Americans stand with the Afghans, Sharhzad Akbar, the chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, said the attack “drains every last ounce of energy and hope”.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan called the incident “a callous and senseless war crime” and urged redoubled efforts to stem violence and focus on peace talks.




10,488 structures destroyed in California wildfires


10,488 structures destroyed in California wildfires

Since the wildfires erupted in California earlier this year, at least 31 people have lost their lives.

At least 10,488 structures have been destroyed due to the 21 wildfires still raging across California, with 12 of them still categorised as major incidents, according to authorities.

In its latest update, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said that more than 5,300 firefighters continued to battle the blazes as of Saturday.

On Friday, windy conditions were experienced across Northern California which challenged efforts in containing the 24 new initial attack wildfires that broke out across the state, it said.

All but two of the initial attack fires were contained, while crews are continuing to make good containment on fires in Napa and Humboldt counties, Cal Fire added.

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for much of Northern California from Sunday due to extreme fire weather.

Winds will likely be 20 to 30 mph, with gusts of up to 70 mph, which are forecast to be the strongest this year, according to Cal Fire.

Northern California’s East Bay Regional Park District will close a number of its facilities out of concern about fire danger, according to a report by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Since the wildfires erupted in California earlier this year, at least 31 people have lost their lives.

The fires have scorched an area totalling 4,129,924 acres so far.




Previous123456789...6970Next
Top