20 ISIS, Taliban militants killed in Afghanistan

Kabul: At least 20 militants belonging to the Taliban insurgent group and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group were killed in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan. According to the Khaama Press, the 201st Silab Corps in the East said the militants were killed during the operations in three different districts in the past 24 hours.

At least 17 ISIS militants and three Taliban insurgents were killed in the operation. No group has commented on the incident so far. The U.S. forces based in Afghanistan also conduct airstrikes on militants hideouts as the terror groups attempt to expand their insurgency. Anti-ISIS, as well as anti-Taliban operations, are underway to eliminate the presence of ISIS affiliates in Nangarhar province and the US forces are providing airstrike support to the Afghan forces during the operations.


Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi says she 'hasn’t been silent' over Rohingya crisis

Naypyidaw: Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi today hit back at accusations that she has been silent over the Rohingya crisis, saying she has focused on speaking in a way that does not inflame tensions.

“I have not been silent…what people mean is what I say is not interesting enough,” she said in a press briefing alongside US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in the capital Naypyidaw. “What I say is not meant to be exciting, it’s meant to be accurate… not set people against each other.”

Sixth woman accuses former US president George H.W. Bush of groping

London: Another woman has come forward to accuse former United States president George H.W. Bush of inappropriately touching her. Roslyn Corrigan, in an interview, said that Bush touched her buttocks when she was 16, during an event in 2003 at a Texas office of the Central Intelligence Agency, reported the Independent.

Corrigan is the sixth woman to accuse the 41st U.S. president of touching them during photo calls. Corrigan said she was confused and in absolute horror when the incident took place and did not say anything to Bush. “What does a teenager say to the ex-president of the United States? Like, ‘Hey dude, you shouldn’t have touched me like that’?” she asked. Actresses Heather Lind and Jordana Grolnick, author Christina Baker Kline, journalist Liz Allen and former politician Amanda Staples have all accused Bush of similar incidents.

World needs new digital Geneva Convention: Microsoft President

Geneva, There is now a need for a new digital Geneva Convention that commits governments to defending and protecting civilians from state-sponsored cyber-attacks, Microsoft President Brad Smith has said.

A cyber arms race is underway with nations developing and unleashing a new generation of weapons aimed at governments and civilians alike, Smith said here at the United Nations while discussing the global issues and challenges relating to cybersecurity this week.

According to a report in The Register, Smith last month publicly accused North Korea of the WannaCry ransomware attack.

In May, the WannaCry ransomware attack impacted more than 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries and showed the world the broad damage “invisible” cyber weapons can inflict.

WannaCry’s impact forced the National Health Service in England to divert ambulances and cancel thousands of appointments for people scheduled to see a physician or have a surgical procedure.

“WannaCry provided a wake-up call to the world. If we do not do more to address the risk of nation-state cyberattacks, the world will become a more dangerous place,” Smith said in a blog post on Friday recounting his talk in Geneva.

While technology companies like Microsoft have the first responsibility to address issues of cybersecurity, it would be a mistake to think the private sector by itself can prevent or stop the risk of cyberattacks any more than it can prevent any other types of military attacks, Smith noted.

He said that the tech sector today needs to act as a “neutral Digital Switzerland” to help civilians everywhere who are hurt in an attack.

“This is part of the thinking that is going into the tech sector’s efforts to increase cybersecurity collaboration and consider a more formal Tech Accord, so we can act effectively and in a globally responsible way,” Smith said.

“The future of cybersecurity on the Internet will require many steps by many people…The world needs a Digital Geneva Convention, as well as many additional steps to move us toward creating a more secure world,” he said.

Donald Trump hails India for achieving astounding growth

Washington DC: United States President Donald Trump has lauded India for achieving astounding growth and praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to bring together the country as one.

“India is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its independence. It is a sovereign democracy, as well as — think of this — over 1 billion people. It’s the largest democracy in the world. (Applause.) Since India opened its economy, it has achieved astounding growth and a new world of opportunity for its expanding middle class,” Trump said at a gathering of CEOs on the sidelines of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit here in Vietnam.

Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump share brief handshake at APEC summit
“And Prime Minister Modi has been working to bring that vast country, and its entire people, together as one. And he is working at it very, very successfully, indeed,” he added. Trump noted that countries outside of APEC were making great strides in this new chapter for the Indo-Pacific.

Trump and Prime Minister Modi are scheduled to attend the East Asia Summit beginning next week. Trump’s daughter and White House advisor Ivanka Trump will be attending the annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad. The Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) is the pre-eminent global entrepreneurship gathering, and it is being co-hosted by the U.S. and Indian governments in Hyderabad for 2017.

Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump share brief handshake at APEC summit

Da Nang: Russian President Vladimir Putin and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump shook hands and exchanged a few words at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vietnam. The two leaders had an opportunity to do so while the summit’s participants were taking a group photo wearing the national costumes of the host country, Tass news agency reported.

The two leaders, both wearing oversized, blue traditional-style Vietnamese shirts provided by the host country, stood next to one another for a picture. Trump put his hand on Putin’s shoulder in a friendly manner as they exchanged a couple of words at the summit.

Earlier, White House had said that the two leaders will not hold a formal meeting due to scheduling conflicts on both sides. “There was never a meeting confirmed and there will not be one that takes place due to scheduling conflicts on both sides. We’re not going to be able to make anything work, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday.

Donald Trump praises Modi at APEC Summit
“There’s no formal meeting or anything scheduled for them. Now, they’re going to be in the same place, so are they going to bump into each other and say hello,” she added.

American Lawmakers urged California’s education board to represent Hinduism accurately

Washington: A group of influential American lawmakers have urged California’s education board to adopt textbooks in schools that represent Hindus and Indian Americans with dignity.

The move comes ahead of the meeting of the all-powerful California State Board of Education this week where it would be making a final decision on whether to adopt, reject, or adopt with changes textbook drafts submitted by various publishers.

“At a time of great division in our country and around the world, the importance of ensuring that the next generation is brought up respecting religious and cultural diversity, equality and pluralism is critical,” Congresswoman Gabbard said in a recent letter to the Board.

At its meeting this week, the Board is expected to take a decision on California Department of Education’s Instructional Quality Commission which had earlier rejected the problematic textbook drafts from publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for adversely reflecting upon Hinduism and failing to include adequate materials about the LGBT community, amongst other reasons.

Instructional Quality Commission is a State appointed commission tasked with reviewing curriculum materials. Ahead of the meeting, a broad coalition of more than 75 interfaith and community groups, 17 state and federal elected officials and 38 leading academics urged the State Board of Education (SBE) to reject textbooks portraying Hinduism, Jainism and Indian history inaccurately and in a stereotyped manner.

These textbooks and instructional materials will determine what students learn in their classroom for the next decade and play a central role in educating students and preparing them to be successful, engaged individuals in the society, Gabbard, the first Hindu elected to US House of Representative, said. “It’s essential that all elements of students’ learning reflect values of diversity and inclusion, allowing students to remain secure in their identity and beliefs while obtaining the best education possible,” she added.

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, California state legislators Tony Mendoza, Bill Dodd, and Kevin McCarty also wrote individual letters to the California education board. California State Assembly member Ash Kalra, the first Hindu and Indian-American to serve in the state legislature, similarly spearheaded a letter from a bipartisan group of 12 State legislators.

“It is very important that the State Board of Education only adopts textbooks that present India and Hinduism accurately and reject material that is prejudiced and hateful,” said Shantharam Nekkar of Hindu Education Foundation USA. However, South Asian Histories for All (SAHFA), a multi-faith and inter-caste coalition, is urging the board to approve only those textbooks that tell a neutral and factual history of South Asia.

The group alleges that the proposed textbook covering ancient South Asia has major errors, including hiding the history of caste oppression. SAHFA alleged that some Hindu nationalist lobby groups are trying to hide basic historical facts—including erasing the history of caste oppression.

Hindu American Foundation, on the other hand, alleged that there is a last minute efforts from some “fringe activist groups, not representing the majority of Hindus, nor scholars of Hinduism and India,” who continue to promote politically driven views, reflect adversely on Hindu and Indian Americans in violation of California law, and are inconsistent with the State History-Social Science Framework that was adopted in 2016.

“In presenting its viewpoint several members of a group calling itself South Asian Histories for All have made vitriolic bigoted statements about Hinduism in public testimony and on social media, as well as making several ad hominem attacks on leading members of the Hindu American community,” said Samir Kalra, senior director at the Hindu American Foundation. “We ask the SBE to recognise the often hateful nature of these statements when considering this group’s submission,” Kalra said.

Vatican to host nuclear weapons conference

Rome: The Vatican will on Friday and Saturday host an international symposium on a nuclear-weapons-free world, against the backdrop of an escalating face-off between the US and North Korea, the Holy See announced. Eleven Nobel Peace laureates, top UN and NATO officials, leading experts, heads of major foundations and civil society organisations as well as representatives of bishops conferences, Christian denominations and other faiths will attend the meet.  Entitled ‘Prospects for a World Free from Nuclear Weapons and for Integral Disarmament’, the meeting is the result of efforts made by Pope Francis against arms, particularly nuclear weapons, according to the Holy See.  Masako Wada, one of the last survivors of the Word War II Hiroshima’s nuclear attack, will be present at the symposium.

UN warns of mass famine in Yemen over Saudi blockade of aid

United Nations: Yemen is facing a mass famine that will affect millions of lives unless the Saudi-led coalition ends its blockade and allows aid deliveries into the country, the UN aid chief warned.

Mark Lowcock, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, warned “it will be the largest famine the world has seen for many decades, with millions of victims.” The UN official spoke to reporters after briefing the UN Security Council during a closed-door session on the crisis in Yemen, where the coalition has been waging a military campaign against Huthi rebels since March 2015.

The council demanded that the Saudi-led coalition keep Yemen’s air and sea ports open to aid deliveries in a country where seven million people are already at risk of famine. Council members expressed concern about the “dire humanitarian situation in Yemen” and stressed “the importance of keeping all of Yemen’s ports and airports functioning,” Italian Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, who holds the council presidency, told reporters after the meeting.

US lauds Saudi exposure of Iran’s support for Yemen rebels
The coalition shut down Yemen’s borders in response to a missile attack by Yemen’s Huthi rebels that was intercepted near the Riyadh airport. But the United Nations, which had already listed Yemen as the world’s number one humanitarian crisis, responded to the decision with dismay, warning that the situation was already “catastrophic” in the country.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir by phone yesterday and received some “indication that they will be examining the reopening of entry points into Yemen,” said Cardi. Some 17 million Yemenis are in desperate need of food, seven million of whom are at risk of famine and cholera has caused more than 2,000 deaths.

On Tuesday, a Red Cross shipment of chlorine tablets, which are used for the prevention of cholera, was blocked at Yemen’s northern border, the International Committee for the Red Cross said. The UN aid chief said humanitarian flights must be allowed to resume to the rebel-held capital Sanaa and to the government-controlled city of Aden.

Riyadh rejects reports of prince’s death in graft purge
He called for “immediate access to all sea ports” for deliveries of fuel, food and other vital supplies — as well as assurances from the coalition that there will be no further disruption. “What we need to see is a reduction of blockages on all sides, not an increase in them,” said Lowcock. The Saudi-led Arab military coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to support President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after the Huthis forced him into exile.

The Arab world’s poorest country, Yemen is almost totally dependent on imports for food, fuel and medicine. UN aid agencies and other relief organizations have said the border closures have led to a surge in prices of many goods. French medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said Wednesday that the coalition had denied clearance for its flights for the past three days, directly hindering its ability to provide life-saving aid. The war has had a heavy toll on civilians, killing thousands and destroying the already weak health system.

Texas church shooting not 'racially motivated'

Houston: “Domestic situation” was involved in a rural Texas church shooting during which a gunman with an assault rifle killed at least 26 people during Sunday services, a Texas law enforcement official confirmed. “There was a domestic situation going on within the family and the in-laws,” Xinhua news agency quoted Freeman Martin, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, as telling the media outside the church in Sutherland Springs, about 65 km east of San Antonio.

He said that the suspect, identified as Devin Patrick Kelley, sent threatening text to his mother-in-law in the morning before launching the shooting attack. “The mother-in-law attended the church. We know he sent threatening … that she had received threatening text messages from him.”

“The domestic situation will continue to be thoroughly investigated. This was not racially motivated,” Martin said. Texas Governor Greg Abbott said on Sunday that at least 26 people were killed after the gunman opened fire at the church in Sutherland Springs, a community of fewer than 400 residents.
The attack in the church was the deadliest mass shooting in the state’s history, he added. The lone gunman, dressed in black tactical gear and a ballistic vest, drove up to the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs at around 11:30 a.m. on Sunday and started firing inside. As he left the church, a local resident grabbed his rifle and engaged with the suspect, Martin said. The gunman, 26, was later found dead nearby in his car, apparently of a gunshot wound, after he fled the scene.

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