US welcomes India’s efforts to cut oil imports from Venezuela

US welcomes India’s efforts to cut oil imports from Venezuela

USA: The United States on Sunday appreciated India’s efforts adding to Washington’s sanctions to restrict exports of Venezuelan oil in the global energy market. “I would say that we have had contacts with Indian companies and with the Government of India and that we have found there to be a very considerable amount of cooperation, which we are very happy to see,” Sputnik quoted US Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams as saying.

The statement comes after several Indian companies stopped importing oil from Venezuela after Washington urged oil refineries around the world to cut their dealings with Caracas or face sanctions themselves. The move comes after the US slapped additional sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry earlier this year to weaken President Nicolas Maduro’s government.

Earlier, the US had implemented sanctions against Venezuela’s Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) state oil company, blocking the company’s assets, worth USD seven billion, and pressuring other companies to cut ties with the firm until March 11. The deadline, however, was later extended until May 10.

Due to the sanctions, Venezuela’s overall exports of crude oil and fuel reportedly dropped to 920,000 barrels per day in the first month of sanctions, roughly 30 per cent less than the 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) traded in the prior three months.

Meanwhile, President Maduro claimed that the US wants “to unleash an ‘oil war’ to invade our homeland and rule here”. The South American nation has been reeling with a political as well as a humanitarian crisis since the beginning of this year when Opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself President on January 26.

The US, along with 50 other countries recognised Guaido as the legitimate President, however, Russia, China, Cuba, and Bolivia have voiced their support for Maduro. However, Maduro shows no signs of losing the critical support of elites and the military. Rampant inflation, along with food scarcity and blackouts have gripped Venezuela under Maduro, while thousands of localities fled to the neighbouring countries as shortages, political turmoil, and crime rates have soared.

Bangladesh: Death toll in office building fire in Dhaka rises to 25

Bangladesh: Death toll in office building fire in Dhaka rises to 25

Dhaka: With the death of 19 more people, the toll from the deadly fire at a high-rise office building in Bangladesh’s capital rose to 25, fire officials said. A massive fire engulfed a 22-storey building in Dhaka’s posh Banani area on Thursday, in the second major blaze to hit the capital since last month.

The incident, in the building that houses several garment shops and internet service providers, left several people trapped inside as the blaze spread to two adjacent buildings. Nineteen bodies were recovered from inside the building. A total of 25 deaths have been confirmed and the number of people injured are 76 in the deadly fire that broke out at in Dhaka’s Banani area, a fire service official was quoted as saying by the Dhaka Tribune.

The injured are now being treated at Dhaka Medical College Hospital’s burn unit. The Fire Service Duty Officer Mizanur Rahman claimed the fire was brought under control at around 4:45pm on Thursday. Hundreds of people have been rescued from the building, the report said.

Fire Service Deputy Director Dilip Kumar Ghosh said that several people had panicked and leapt from the building, which led to the increased casualties. At least six of the killed, including a Sri Lankan national, died after they jumped off from various floors of the high-rise building for safety.

The building had narrow staircases, and lacked firefighting capacity. It is also of note that the building reportedly caught fire over a decade ago in 2008, Ghosh said. Fire officials said the blaze erupted on the eighth floor of the building and gradually went upward engulfing ninth, 10th and 11th floors, but could not immediately say what sparked the inferno.

Five military and air force helicopters were deployed to drop water on the blaze as flames and thick black smoke poured out of the windows. On February 20, at least 70 people were killed and over 50 injured when a fast-moving fire swept through an apartment buildings and chemical warehouses in Dhaka’s congested Chawkbazar area. In 2012, a fire at a nine-storey garment factory near Dhaka killed 111 workers.

Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX crash: Lawsuit filed against Boeing in US federal court

Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX crash: Lawsuit filed against Boeing in US federal court

Washington [US]: A lawsuit was filed against Boeing Airlines in US federal court on Thursday over March 10 Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX crash in which 157 people were killed.

The lawsuit was filed in Chicago federal court by the family of a victim. The appellant alleged that Boeing had defectively designed the automated flight control system. Boeing is under international scrutiny in the wake of two fatal crashes in the last five months involving the 737 Max 8 jet.  A Lion Air flight crashed in Indonesia in October last year, and an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed earlier this month. Neither of the crashes left any survivors. Investigators have revealed that they found similarities in both the plane crashes.

In the aftermath of the March 10 Ethiopian Airlines crash, shares of Boeing have plunged more than 10 per cent, wiping more than 25 billion dollars off the company’s market value. In a statement earlier this month, Boeing had said that it remains confident in the safety of the jets, but that it recommended the shutdown itself “out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public of the aircraft’s safety”.

No decision taken on opening of Sharda temple corridor in PoK: Pakistan

No decision taken on opening of Sharda temple corridor in PoK: Pakistan

Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday said no decision has been taken so far on the opening of the Sharda temple corridor for Hindu pilgrims from India in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and asserted that there should be “a positive atmosphere” for taking such steps.

Earlier in the week, quoting sources in Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Express Tribune reported that the Pakistani government has approved a proposal to establish a corridor that will allow Hindu pilgrims from India to visit the ancient Hindu temple and cultural site. Addressing a weekly press briefing here, Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal rejected the report, saying, “To the best of my knowledge, no decision has been taken so far (on opening the Sharda temple corridor).”

“A positive environment is required to move forward on all such issues,” he added. In its report, the Express Tribune had also quoted Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) member of the National Assembly (MNA) Ramesh Kumar as saying, “Pakistan has decided to open the Sharda temple. Work on the project will start from the current year after which Hindus in Pakistan will also be able to visit the site.”

Established in 237 B.C. during the reign of Emperor Ashoka, the 5,000-year-old Sharada Peeth is an abandoned temple and ancient centre of learning dedicated to the Hindu goddess of learning. Between the 6th and 12th centuries C.E, Sharada Peeth was one of the foremost temple universities of the Indian subcontinent. It is also one of the three famous holy sites for Kashmiri Pandits, the other two being the Martand Sun Temple in Anantnag and the Amarnath temple. Kashmiri Pandit organisations have been demanding opening of the Sharda Peeth corridor for many years.

US moves draft resolution in UN to blacklist JeM chief Masood Azhar

US moves draft resolution in UN to blacklist JeM chief Masood Azhar

United Nations: Stepping up the international pressure to designate Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, the US, supported by France and the UK, has moved a draft resolution in the UN Security Council to blacklist the Pakistan-based terror group’s chief.

Two weeks after China put a hold on a proposal to list Azhar under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the Council, the US on Wednesday circulated the draft resolution to the powerful 15-nation Council to blacklist the leader of the Pakistan-based terror group and subject him to a travel ban, an assets freeze and an arms embargo. UN sources told PTI that this is the “first time” the US, the UK and France have moved a draft resolution directly in the Security Council to designate Azhar. The previous have been listing proposals in the Sanctions Committee of the Council to designate Azhar.

Unlike a listing proposal, which is generally under a 10- day no objection period, the draft resolution is not under any no-objection provision. Sources said that the draft resolution will be discussed informally and then it goes to the Council. However, it’s not yet decided by when a vote would be held on the draft resolution, during when it could again face a veto by China, which has in the past blocked bids to blacklist Azhar.

Germany initiates move at EU to list Masood Azhar as global terrorist
Sources said the draft resolution would condemn “in the strongest terms the heinous and cowardly suicide bombing” on February 14 in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district that killed 40 CRPF personnel. An annex to the draft resolution says Azhar is associated with the Islamic State terror group, Al-Qaida for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating” or “supplying, selling or transferring arms and related material” or supporting acts of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

It says that Azhar founded JeM after his release from prison in India in 1999 in exchange for 155 hostages held on an Indian Airlines flight that had been hijacked to Kandahar, Afghanistan. It adds that Azhar was previously the leader of the terrorist group Harakat al Mujahadin, also known as Harakat ul-Ansar, and that most of these groups’ members subsequently joined Jaish under Azhar’s leadership.

In 2008, JeM recruitment posters contained a call from Azhar for volunteers to join the fight in Afghanistan against Western forces. The Sanctions Committee makes its decisions by consensus of its members. However, for a resolution in the Security Council to pass, it needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes from any of its five permanent members – China, Russia, the United States, France and the UK. France, the UK and the US on February 27 moved a proposal to designate Azhar under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee.

It was under the no-objection period and Committee members had a period of 10 working days to raise any objections to the proposal. More than a dozen member states had co-sponsored the proposal. About an hour before the no-objection deadline was to expire on March 13 at 3 PM, China blocked the proposal by putting a hold on it.

India expressed disappointment by the outcome, saying in a statement “this has prevented action by the international community to designate the leader of JeM, a proscribed and active terrorist organisation which has claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir on 14 February 2019”. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an apparent reference to China blocking the proposal to designate Azhar as a global terrorist at the UN Security Council when he said Wednesday that China abuses over a million Muslims at home, but “protects” violent Islamic terror groups from UN sanctions.

“The world cannot afford China’s shameful hypocrisy toward Muslims. On one hand, China abuses more than a million Muslims at home, but on the other it protects violent Islamic terrorist groups from sanctions at the UN,” Pompeo said in a tweet, without mentioning the JeM or the outfit’s chief. The February proposal was the fourth such bid at the UN in the last 10 years to list Azhar as a global terrorist.

In 2009, India moved a proposal by itself to designate Azhar. In 2016 again India moved the proposal with the P3 – the US, the UK and France in the UN’s 1267 Sanctions Committee to ban Azhar, also the mastermind of the attack on the air base in Pathankot in January, 2016. In 2017, the P3 nations moved a similar proposal again. However, on all occasions China, a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council, blocked the proposals from being adopted by the Sanctions Committee.

A UNSC designation will subject Azhar to an assets freeze, travel ban and an arms embargo. An assets freeze under the Sanctions Committee requires that all states freeze without delay the funds and other financial assets or economic resources of designated individuals and entities. The travel ban entails preventing the entry into or transit by all states through their territories by designated individuals.

Under the arms embargo, all states are required to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale and transfer from their territories or by their nationals outside their territories, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, of arms and related materiel of all types, spare parts and technical advice, assistance or training related to military activities, to designated individuals and entities.

Donald Trump meets Sunder Pichai, says Google committed to US military, not China

Donald Trump meets Sunder Pichai, says Google committed to US military, not China

Washington: President Donald Trump has said that Google is totally committed to the US military as he met the internet giant’s Indian-American CEO Sunder Pichai at the White House, days after he accused the tech company of helping China and its army.

Trump, who has been at loggerheads with several big companies, earlier this month said, “Google is helping China and their military, but not the US”. On Wednesday, after a meeting with Pichai at the White House, the US President said: “Meeting ended very well”.”Just met with Sundar Pichai, President of Google, who is obviously doing quite well,” he said.

Pichai “stated strongly that he is totally committed to the US military and not the Chinese military”, Trump said. “Also discussed political fairness and various things that @Google can do for our country. Meeting ended very well!” said the President. There was no immediate tweet from Pichai. However, a Google spokesperson said that the company is pleased to have productive conversations with the President.

“We were pleased to have productive conversations with the President about investing in the future of the American workforce, the growth of emerging technologies and our ongoing commitment to working with the US government,” said the Google spokesperson. Trump’s tweet criticising Google earlier last month came after Acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan and General Joseph Dunford, chairman joint chiefs of staff, said during a Congressional hearing that “Google was partnering with China… but the Internet search engine giant has shown a lack of willingness to work with the US Department of Defence”.

During his trip to Washington DC, Pichai also met India’s Ambassador to the US Harsh V Shringla. “A thoroughly enriching experience to meet and interact with” Pichai on Google’s positive engagement in India and elsewhere in the world, privacy laws, internet governance and a host of other issues, the ambassador said in a tweet.

Belarus governor fired for keeping cows in poor condition at farm

Belarus governor fired for keeping cows in poor condition at farm

Moscow: Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has fired three officials including a governor for keeping cows in poor conditions at a local farm. Video aired by state television showed Lukashenko, an avid farmer himself, scolding the farm managers and the governor on a visit to the farm in the northern Mogilev region on Tuesday.

Lukashenko, who gave a sack of potatoes to Russian President Vladimir Putin last year, compared the conditions at the farm to those at a Nazi death camp. The cows were shown walking in the manure with mud caked on their bodies. The Belarusian president said that the cows were “barely alive” and the officials were “sick” for not noticing that.

US takes note of India’s first anti-missile test; expresses concern over space debris

US takes note of India’s first anti-missile test; expresses concern over space debris

Washington: Taking note of India’s first anti-satellite missile test, the US has said that it will continue to pursue its shared interests with New Delhi in space and technical cooperation, even as it expressed concern over the issue of space debris.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday announced that India successfully test-fired an anti-satellite missile by shooting down a live satellite. The test makes India the fourth country in the world after the US, Russia and China to acquire the strategic capability to shoot down enemy satellites. Commenting on the development, a State Department spokesperson on Wednesday told PTI: “The state department saw PM Modi’s statement that announced India’s anti-satellite test”.

To a question, the spokesperson said that as part of “our strong strategic partnership with India, we will continue to pursue shared interests in space and scientific and technical cooperation, including collaboration on safety and security in space”. However, he expressed concern over the issue of space debris. “The issue of space debris is an important concern for the US government. We took note of Indian government statements that the test was designed to address space debris issues,” the spokesperson said.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the test was done in the lower atmosphere to ensure there is no space debris. “Whatever debris that is generated will decay and fall back onto the earth within weeks,” it said. The MEA has also come out with a 10-point explainer to say the anti-satellite missile test was carried out to verify India’s capability to safeguard space assets and that it was not directed against any country.

It also said in a statement that India has no intention of entering into an arms race in outer space.  “We have always maintained that space must be used only for peaceful purposes. We are against the weaponisation of Outer Space and support international efforts to reinforce the safety and security of space based assets,” the MEA added.

US warning of Pakistan: Another terrorist attack on India will bring great trouble

US warning of Pakistan: Another terrorist attack on India will bring great trouble

The US has asked Pakistan to take strict action against the terrorists. With this, the US warned Pakistan that another terrorist attack on India would be 'very problematic'.

A senior official in the White House told reporters on Wednesday, "Pakistan needs strong and consistent action against terrorist groups. There is a need to take action against Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba, especially in the region, due to the situation of tension.

On condition of anonymity, the official said, "If Pakistan does not take action against terrorists and there is another attack on India then it will be a major problem for Pakistan which will cause tension between the two countries and both of them Would be dangerous. '

On being asked by Pakistan about the steps being taken by Pakistan after the air strikes by Pakistan in Pakistan, the official said that there is a need for 'irrevocable and sustained' action against terrorist organizations by the US and international community. The official said that it will be quick to evaluate the full evaluation.

The official said that Pakistan has taken some action in recent days. The properties of some terrorist organizations have been seized and some have been arrested. Some of the features of Jaish-e-Mohammed have been taken into control. However he further added that they want to see more action now.

The official said that the US is working with its international partners to increase pressure on Pakistan. Given that Pakistan also has economic concerns. He said that FATF is an area which reflects their need to take action against terrorist organizations. Otherwise they are in danger inside the system.

Pakistan needs to decide that she wants to see herself as a responsible global player, where she has access to all financial systems or wants to see herself isolated if she fails to act against terror organizations. . The official said the option is to select Pakistan.

The US official said that even though the tension between the two countries has come down, the army of both the countries is still on high alert. The official said, "Therefore, we feel that if there is any terrorist attack, God forbid that, then you can see the increase in tension, therefore we are making clear that any kind of additional military action There is an unacceptably high risk for both countries and regions.

Christchurch Attack: All guns shot in New Zealand are military style

Christchurch Attack: All guns shot in New Zealand are military style

New Zealand's PM Jasminda Ardhen has announced to ban the sale of all types of semi-automatic weapons. In view of the Christchurch attack, he has taken this step. Since the murder of 50 people in two mosques in Christchurch last Friday, the country's gun law is in dispute.

At the same time, Ardhern said that the new law is expected to be implemented by April 11. He said that a purchase-funding scheme will be set up for restricted weapons. Prime Minister Jessinda Ardhorn said that with the immediate effect of New Zealand, Assault Rifles, High Capacity Magazine and 'Military Style Semi Automatic Riflot Ban'.

Alderney announced the ban on Thursday and said it will be given legal form next month. He said that the person arrested in the attacks had bought his arms legally and increased the ability of the attack by using easily purchased 30-round magazines through a simple online portal.

Let us know that on March 15, a man in Christchurch's New Zealand in New Zealand fired a fierce firing. Till the 28-year-old Tentent helmet entered, he started roaming the pistol shooting called 'Let's start the party'. At the time when the assaulted mosque was full of Namazis. The Bangladesh cricket team was also present there.