China bans ‘Winnie the Pooh’ film over comparisons to President Xi Jinping

China bans ‘Winnie the Pooh’ film over comparisons to President Xi Jinping

Beijing: So, the Chinese government is petrified of Winnie the Pooh, a cartoon caricature? It would seem so, as Chinese censors have banned the release of “Christopher Robin”, an animated film adaptation of a story about “Winnie the Pooh.” They have apparently taken offence at the character’s comparison to President Xi Jinping. In fact, ‘Winnie the Pooh’ has become a light-hearted way for people across China to mock their President, the Guardian reported on Tuesday.

It started when Xi visited the US in 2013 and an image of him and his former American counterpart Barack Obama walking together spurred comparisons to Winnie, a portly Xi, walking with Tigger, a lanky Obama. Xi was again compared to the fictional bear in 2014 during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took on the part of the pessimistic, gloomy donkey, Eeyore. As comparisons grew, censors began erasing the images which mocked Xi.

The HBO website was blocked last month after comedian John Oliver repeatedly made fun of the Chinese President’s apparent sensitivity over comparisons to Winnie. The segment also focused on China’s dismal human rights record. Another comparison between Xi and Winnie during a military parade in 2015 became that year’s most censored image, according to Global Risk Insights. The analysis firm said the Chinese government viewed the meme as “a serious effort to undermine the dignity of the presidential office and Xi himself”. “Christopher Robin” is the second Disney film to be denied a release in China this year, after “A Wrinkle in Time” was blocked.

Trump re-imposes Iran sanctions

Trump re-imposes Iran sanctions

Washington : US President Donald Trump on Tuesday issued a strong warning to anyone trading with Iran, following his re-imposition of sanctions on the country.

“The Iran sanctions have officially been cast. These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed and in November they ratchet up to yet another level. Anyone doing business with Iran will not be doing business with the US. I am asking for world peace, nothing less,” Trump said in a tweet.

Some re-imposed sanctions took effect on Monday night and tougher ones relating to oil exports will begin in November. The sanctions followed the US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal, earlier this year.

The deal, negotiated during the term of Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, saw Iran limit its controversial nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called the measures “psychological warfare” which aimed to “sow division among Iranians”. The sanctions take aim at various sectors, with further punitive action planned against Iran’s oil trade. Rouhani said the US government had “turned their back on diplomacy” with the action. “They want to launch psychological warfare against the Iranian nation,” he said. “Negotiations with sanctions doesn’t make sense. We are always in favour of diplomacy and talks… but talks need honesty.” The Iranian President also accused the Trump administration of using Tehran as domestic political leverage ahead of November’s midterm elections in the US.

“They will exert pressure on us and cause pain, but we will certainly come out of the end of this healthier,” he said about the penalties that went back into effect at 12.01 a.m. on Tuesday.

Rouhani said that China and Russia had indicated they will not abide by US sanctions despite Trump’s threat of “severe consequences”.

Trump has called the deal “one-sided”, “disastrous” and the “worst I’ve ever seen”. He believes renewed economic pressure will force Iran to agree to a new deal and end its “malign” activities.

The other signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal, including the EU, Russia and China, were sticking with the accord. In a statement on Monday, the EU, the UK, France and Germany said they “deeply regret” the US action. The EU announced it would take legal steps to protect European companies “doing legitimate business in Iran.”

Some re-imposed sanctions took effect on Monday night and tougher ones relating to oil exports will begin in November

The renewed sanctions were among those lifted under a 2015 deal between world powers and Tehran on curbing Iran’s nuclear program

Israel PM Netanyahu lauds US Prez
Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hailed US President Donald Trump for re-imposing sanctions on Iran. “I congratulate President Trump and the US government on the important decision to re-impose sanctions on Iran,” Netanyahu said in a statement on Monday. Netanyahu, a vocal opponent of the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, called the renewed sanctions “an important moment for Israel, the US, the region, and the entire world.”

Swearing-in of Imran delayed?

Swearing-in of Imran delayed?

Islamabad  : Pakistan’s election commission on Tuesday withheld the victory notifications of Imran Khan from two of the five constituencies from where he contested in the July 25 general elections, possibly jeopardising his plans to be sworn-in as the new prime minister.

In other three constituencies, notifications of Imran’s victory have been issued but will be subject to the decision of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in the pending case of violation of the election code of conduct, media reports said. The ECP has withheld victory notifications of Khan from NA-53 (Islamabad-II) and NA-131 (Lahore-IX) constituencies.

PM-elect quizzed in helicopter case

Peshawar: Imran Khan, who is set to become Pakistan’s new prime minister, was questioned on Tuesday by the country’s anti-graft body in connection with the misuse of helicopters of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government which allegedly caused Rs 2.17 million loss to the exchequer.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on August 3 had summoned 65-year-old Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman in the case.

The NAB wanted to question Khan as part of the preliminary probe into allegations that the cricketer-turned-politician caused Rs 2.17 million loss to the provincial exchequer by using the provincial government’s helicopter for over 72 hours.

Officially he was not allowed to use the aircraft for personal purpose.

The NAB had prepared a questionnaire with 15 queries for Khan and his lawyers. The questionnaire needs to be completed within 15 days, according to the NAB officials.

Security around the NAB’s Peshawar office was tightened as Khan appeared before the body. Khan has denied any wrongdoing and said the case was politically motivated.

Khan was earlier summoned on July 18, but he failed to appear before the panel sighting elections. His lawyer had filed an appeal requesting the accountability watchdog to fix the date for case after the general elections, “preferably on August 7”.

Khan’s Pakistan PTI has emerged as the single largest party in the elections held on July 25.

Pakistan elections 2018: Will take oath as Pakistan PM on August 11, says Imran Khan

Pakistan elections 2018: Will take oath as Pakistan PM on August 11, says Imran Khan

Peshawar: Imran Khan today said that he will take oath as Pakistan’s Prime Minister on August 11, according to a media report. The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), led by 65-year-old Khan, has emerged as the single largest party in the National Assembly (NA) after the July 25 elections, but it is still short of numbers to form the government on its own.

His party yesterday announced that it is trying to reach out to smaller parties and independents to form the next government. Will take oath as Prime Minister on 11th of next month (August), Khan was quoted as saying by Radio Pakistan. “I have also decided about chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which I will announce in the next 48 hours. Whatever I have decided in this regard is in the best interest of people,” he said while addressing PTI members of provincial assembly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Imran’s swearing-in before August 14
He said alleviation of poverty from interior Sindh will be among top priorities of his government. Earlier, PTI spokesman Naeemul Haque on Saturday told reporters that party chief Khan will take oath as the Prime Minister before August 14. He said that he hoped the president would call an assembly session and Khan would take oath as premier before Independence day. Although the PTI has emerged as the single largest party in the National Assembly after the polls, the final results issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) show that the party is still short of numbers to form its government independently.

According to the results, the PTI has bagged 116 general seats – 22 short of simple majority – whereas the PML-N and PPP have won 64 and 43 seats, respectively. The PTI is short of the 137 needed for simple majority and is trying to woo independents to join the party. To meet the required number of votes, the PTI leadership has reportedly been approaching the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), PML-Quaid (PML-Q), and the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), as well as independents. Meanwhile, two major parties – Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples Party – have agreed on formulation of a “coordinated joint strategy” if the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf manages to form its government at the centre.

Zimbabwe votes for nation’s 1st election post Robert Mugabe-election

Zimbabwe votes for nation’s 1st election post Robert Mugabe-election

Harare: Zimbabweans cast their ballots today in the country’s first election since authoritarian leader Robert Mugabe was ousted last year, with concerns over fraud and the likelihood of a disputed result clouding voting day. President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s former ally in the ruling ZANU-PF party, faces opposition leader Nelson Chamisa of the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) in a historic vote for the southern African nation.

“I just have to do this. I have to see a better Zimbabwe for my kids. Things have been tough,” Tawanda Petru, 28, an unemployed man voting in Mbare, a low-income district of the capital Harare, told AFP as polling stations opened across the country.

Mugabe, 94, who was ousted by the military in November, made a surprise intervention on the eve of the elections, calling for voters to throw ZANU-PF out of office. Zimbabwe’s generals shocked the world last year when they seized control and ushered Mnangagwa to power after Mugabe allegedly tried to position his wife Grace to be his successor.

Mnangagwa, 75, who promises a fresh start for the country despite being from the ZANU-PF elite, is the front-runner with the advantage of covert military support, a loyal state media and a ruling party that controls government resources.

But Chamisa, 40, who has performed strongly on the campaign trail, hopes to tap into a young population that could vote for change. The election is Zimbabwe’s first without Mugabe, who led ZANU-PF to power in a vote when the country became independent from Britain in 1980 and ruled for 37 years.

Speaking at his mansion in Harare yesterday, Mugabe said he hoped the election would “thrust away the military form of government.” “I cannot vote for those who tormented me,” Mugabe said, hinting he could vote for MDC. As Zimbabwe’s hectic politics reached fever pitch, Mnangagwa claimed Mugabe’s remarks proved that Chamisa was in an alliance with Mugabe.

But Chamisa also spoke out saying: “I have nothing to do with what president Mugabe would want to say as a voter. He is a citizen.”Elections under Mugabe were marred by fraud and often deadly violence, and this year’s campaign has been dogged by accusations the result will be rigged.

The MDC has raised repeated allegations of a flawed electoral roll, ballot paper malpractice, voter intimidation, bias in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and free food handed out by the ruling party. But campaigning has been relatively unrestricted and peaceful. “After years of stasis, the events of November 2017 gave Zimbabwe the chance to dream again,”Mnangagwa said yesterday in an address on state radio.

“As we have always said, the elections will be free, non-violent and credible.” A recent Afrobarometer survey of 2,400 people put Mnangagwa on 40 per cent and Chamisa on 37 per cent, with 20 per cent undecided. Mnangagwa, who is accused of involvement in election violence and fraud under Mugabe, invited international observers — including the previously-banned European Union team — to the poll.

The EU team will deliver a preliminary report later in the week. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights warned of alleged intimidation and threats of violence in the run-up to polling day, but said it was encouraging to see open rallies and peaceful demonstrations.

The next government must tackle mass unemployment and an economy shattered by the Mugabe-backed seizure of white-owned farms, the collapse of agriculture, hyperinflation and an investment exodus. Previously solid health and education services are in ruins and millions have fled abroad to seek work.

Life expectancy has only just recovered to its 1985 level of 61 years. “The governing ZANU-PF party needs to maintain a semblance of free and fair elections in order to attract fresh foreign investment,”said the London-based EXX Africa business risk consultancy.

“However, there remain serious concerns over vote credibility.” With 5.6 million registered voters, the results of the presidential, parliamentary and local elections are due by August 4. A run-off vote is scheduled for September 8 if no presidential candidate wins at least 50 per cent in the first round.

“I’m excited, I’m voting for the first time,” said Tawanda Mudondo, 18, who sells phone chargers on the street corner. “I just want a government that will create jobs. I passed my exams but could not go to university. Our economy is trashed.”

Wedding party turns tragic: 14 killed in car crash in Vietnam

Wedding party turns tragic: 14 killed in car crash in Vietnam

Hanoi: Fourteen members of the same family were killed in a car crash in central Vietnam today enroute to a wedding party, including the groom who died instantly when their van hit a container truck, police said. Road accidents are the leading cause of death in Vietnam, where traffic laws are loosely obeyed and road infrastructure is patchy.

The victims of today’s car crash in Quang Nam were members of an extended family, including the groom, who were heading to the bride’s family home in a neighbouring province, a police officer told AFP. Their 16-seater van collided with a container truck at around 2:30 am (1930 GMT Sunday), killing 13 people instantly. Another died later in hospital. “All victims’ bodies were brought back to their home for burial. We are treating some of the injured in a local hospital,” the policeman said, requesting anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the press.

Local authorities said today they were investigating the cause of the deadly crash. Around 8,200 people died in traffic accidents across Vietnam last year, down from about 8,600 the year before. Most of those killed were on motorbikes. Vietnam’s densely packed cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are crowded with motorbikes and cars competing for space with pedestrians and street vendors. Meanwhile, transport trucks increasingly line newly built highways delivering goods across Vietnam, or into neighbouring countries.

PM Narendra Modi meets South Africa President, discusses ways to boost bilateral ties

PM Narendra Modi meets South Africa President, discusses ways to boost bilateral ties

Johannesburg: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday met South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and the two leaders discussed ways to expand the bilateral ties in a number of sectors, including trade and investment, IT and defence.

Following the delegation-level talks between Modi and Ramaphosa, three MoUs were signed on cooperation in exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes, setting up of Gandhi-Mandela Centre of specialisation for artisan skills and agricultural research and education. Modi, who arrived here yesterday, met Ramaphosa on the sidelines of the two-day BRICS summit whose theme this year is ‘BRICS in Africa’.

“Kicking off a series of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of BRICS! PM Narendra Modi meets the host South African President Cyril Ramaphosa,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a tweet. “Saluting the enduring legacy of Mahatma and Mandela! Prime Minister Narendra Modi and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa jointly released a stamp commemorating the two iconic personalities,” he tweeted.

India and South Africa are celebrating 21 years of strategic partnership. “India and South Africa are proud inheritors of legacies of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela,” Kumar said. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Cyril Ramaphosa discussed expansion of our relationship in trade and investment, agriculture and food processing, IT, defence and people-to-people contacts,” he said. Later, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said both the nations expressed satisfaction at the growth in trade and investment, besides improvement in the people-to-people relation.

“President Ramaphosa actually said India-South Africa relations may be new in terms of re-establishment of diplomatic relations but are in fact very deep-rooted in history. Now what it requires is nurturing, it needs to be watered time to time and such meetings help in that process,” he said. Gokhale said Prime Minister Modi entirely agreed with the South African leader on this, and noted a “very positive” trend on investments and trade.

The Prime Minister said Indian companies would respond positively to investing in South Africa, as he welcomed the Indo-South African business summit, held in April, for which the Commerce and Industries minister had come here. Prime Minister Modi also took up the issue of Indian business persons facing some obstacles in terms of general work permits and inter-company transfer permits in South Africa.

“These are long standing issues that the prime minister took up,” Gokhale said, adding that the South African President has assured he would look into the matter. The Prime Minister, he said, informed Ramaphosa that India has already liberalised the visa regime “very greatly” for South Africans. On trade, Modi said among the areas which the South African companies should be exploring in india were defence food processing and health insurance, according to Gokhale. During the “very productive, very good and very warm” meeting, Modo also mentioned about the visit of the Indian Naval Ship (INS) Tarini with an all-female crew to South Africa.

“The President of South Africa in fact remarked that this (INS Tarini visit) had got very good publicity in the South African press and was seen as a sign of gender empowerment, women empowerment,” the Foreign Secretary said. BRICS is a grouping of five major emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Originally the first four were grouped as “BRIC”, before the induction of South Africa in 2010.

India’s relations with South Africa date back several centuries. India was at the forefront of the international community in its support to the anti-apartheid movement. This year also marks 25 years since the resumption of India’s diplomatic relations with South Africa in 1993. This year also marks the 125th year of the Pietermaritzburg railway station ‘incident’ involving Gandhi. “2018 is a historical year for our relations, as it marks the commemoration of twenty-five years of diplomatic relations between South Africa and India,” the South African Presidency tweeted. The South African Indian-origin community numbers around 1.5 million and constitutes about three per cent of South Africa’s total population.

Toronto mass shooting carried out by Pakistani-origin man: Canadian police

Toronto mass shooting carried out by Pakistani-origin man: Canadian police

Toronto: The gunman who killed two persons and injured 13 others in a deadly mass shooting in Canada’s largest city Toronto has been identified as Pakistani-origin Faisal Hussain, according to the police. Hussain, 29, was suffering from psychosis and was getting professional help, Canada’s public broadcaster CBC News reported.

A resident of Toronto, Hussain worked in a grocery store. On Sunday, he opened fire in Toronto’s vibrant Greektown neighbourhood, killing a 10-year-old girl and an 18-year-old woman. Thirteen people were also injured in the shooting, some with potentially life-altering injuries.

Later, Hussain died after a brief exchange of gunfire with the police on Danforth Avenue. It was not immediately clear whether he shot himself dead or was killed by the police. The motive behind the shooting, rare in Toronto, was also not immediately knwon.

Hussain was not on any federal watchlists associated with the national security, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said. His family, originally from Pakistan, said in a statement that their son was in the grips of untreatable and severe mental illness for “his entire life”. Neither professionals, nor medication nor therapy could help him, they said.

They said that Hussain struggled with psychosis and depression and that they were devastated by his violent actions. Toronto police executed a search warrant at Hussain’s apartment in the Thorncliffe Park area. The federal public safety minister’s office said that the police will continue to lead the investigation into Hussain’s background.

“There is no national security nexus at this time,” communications officer Hilary Peirce said. Eight years ago, Hussain had disclosed to his friend Aamir Sukhera that he was suffering from psychosis and was getting professional help, the report said. Meanwhile, there have been renewed calls for tougher restrictions on firearms after the shooting. Goodale said that the government is prepared to consider tightening handgun laws.

Laos dam disaster: 17 bodies recovered during rescue operations, informs Thai consul official

Laos dam disaster: 17 bodies recovered during rescue operations, informs Thai consul official

Champasak: The bodies of 17 people have been recovered after flash floods caused by a dam breach in southern Laos, a Thai consular official at the scene said today. A wall of water was unleashed Monday after parts of the dam were washed away, sending floods surging downstream, sweeping away homes and leaving an unknown number of people missing.

“There are 17 bodies recovered so far, but we cannot estimate the number of missing yet,” Chana Miencharoen, told AFP, adding roof-level flood waters have submerged several villages near the Xe-Namnoy dam. “All the dead are Laotian… more than 6,000 are affected from eight villages near the dam,” he said, from the relief centre in Attepeu province, where the disaster occurred on Monday.

The remote area is only accessible by helicopter and flat-bottomed boats, with roads badly damaged by the flash flooding or completely washed away. Communist Laos is criss-crossed by a vast network of rivers and scores of dams are being built or planned in the impoverished and landlocked country, which exports most of its hydropower energy to neighbouring countries like Thailand.

The South Korean partner in the hydropower project said Wednesday it discovered the upper part of the structure had washed away 24 hours before it collapsed. SK Engineering & Construction said it discovered the damage to an auxiliary dam at around 9:00 pm Sunday local time. “We immediately alerted the authorities and began evacuating (nearby) villagers downstream,” it said in a statement.

Pakistan election 2018: One dead, two injured in clashes in Swabi

Pakistan election 2018: One dead, two injured in clashes in Swabi

Peshawar: Supporters of two rival parties exchanged fire outside a polling station in Pakistan‘s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa today, killing a worker of former cricketer Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and injuring two others, police said.

The incident occured at the polling station in Nawan Kali of Swabi district after voting opened for the general elections.

According to a police officer, a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf worker was killed as party activists clashed with Awami National Party supporters. In a separate incident, four persons were injured in a cracker blast outside a political camp in Larkana.