Iran ready to talk to Gulf countries amid tension with US


Iran ready to talk to Gulf countries amid tension with US

Tehran: Iran is ready to engage in a dialogue with the Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to address the issue of escalating tensions with the United States in the Arabian Gulf, authorities said on Tuesday.

The remarks by Abbas Araqchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister came on his visit to Qatar where he met foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in Doha.

Qatar’s foreign ministry, in a statement cited by Al Jazeera, said both sides “expressed their concern about escalations and problems in the region.” Tensions have risen between Iran, on one side, along with the US and its Gulf allies, on the other. Washington, earlier this month, deployed a carrier strike group and bombers in the Arabian Gulf and announced plans to deploy additional 1,500 troops to the region, prompting fears of a conflict.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton arrived in the UAE on Tuesday before talks scheduled for Wednesday. “Just landed in the UAE. Looking forward to meeting with our Emirati allies tomorrow to discuss important and timely regional security matters,” Bolton tweeted.

A war of words between Iran and the US escalated after Tehran-backed Houthis of Yemen launched armed drone attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf region this month. Washington blamed the attacks on Iran, which, however, denied the accusations.

Last week, Bolton said that the US had “deep and serious” intelligence on threats posed by Iran, but did not provide details. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif earlier hit out at the US after Trump said Washington was not looking for regime change in Iran but was only interested in preventing it from obtaining nuclear weapons.




Pakistan seeks help from WHO to investigate HIV outbreak


Pakistan seeks help from WHO to investigate HIV outbreak

Karachi: The Pakistan government has sought the help of the World Health organisation (WHO) to probe the recent outbreak of HIV in the country’s Sindh province, that has till now affected over 600 people, mostly children, according to a media report.

Till now 681 HIV positive cases have been identified among the 21,375 tested in Ratodero town of Larkana district in the north-west part of the province. Out of the affected 537 are between the ages of 2 to 15. Health officials have attributed the cause to the use of unsanitary equipment, unsafe blood transfusion and rampant malpractice often at the hands of quacks.

“We are expecting a 10-member rapid response team from the WHO and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to arrive in a few days and we will be able to know the exact reason for the outbreak of the disease in Ratodero,” Zafar Mirza, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services, was quoted as saying by the Dawn.

The CDC is a leading public health institute in the US and works with several public health institutions in Pakistan. “We have a hypothesis that they became infected with HIV either through unscreened blood transfusions or usage of infected syringes as they are usually re-packed and re-used in unhygienic conditions. Third reason could be the lack of infection prevention and control and unprotected sex,” he said.

Police last month arrested a doctor for allegedly transferring the virus to his patients. 17 quacks in the district were also held and their clinics sealed earlier this month. Mirza said they have ordered 50,000 more HIV test kits to screen all possible patients and three more HIV treatment centres being planned in Mirpurkhas, Nawabshah and Hyderabad in the province.
He said that the number of reported HIV cases in Pakistan was much lower than the actual number of cases.

According to estimates, 163,000 people were infected with HIV in the country but only 25,000 were registered with state-run HIV programmes and out of that, only about 16,000 came regularly for treatment and medicines. He recalled that there had been HIV outbreaks in the country in the past, including in Sindh in 2016 and in Punjab in 2008.

“Our problem here is that HIV is seen as a big stigma. We need to deal with it with frankness,” Mirza said. According to a UN report, Pakistan now has the second-fastest growing rate of HIV in Asia, with about 20,000 new infections in 2017 alone.




Mount Everest death toll increases to 11


Mount Everest death toll increases to 11

Kathmandu: Another mountaineer has died after summiting Mount Everest, bringing the death toll for the 2019 climbing season to 11 people, a Nepal government official confirmed on Tuesday. American lawyer Christopher John Kulish, 62, died on Monday after reaching the top of Everest on the Nepalese side of the mountain in the morning, Meera Acharya, the Director of Nepal’s Tourism Department told CNN.

While descending, he was strong and safely reached the South Col (situated at an altitude of 25,918 feet) late Monday evening before he suddenly died, she said. In a statement, the family of the Colorado man said they were “heartbroken” at the news.

“He saw his last sunrise from the highest peak on Earth. At that instant, he became a member of the ‘7 Summit Club’ having scaled the highest peak on each continent,” the statement added. Also on Monday, an Austrian family confirmed the death of one of their relatives. Sixty-four-year-old Ernst Landgraf died on May 23, hours after fulfilling his dream of scaling Everest.

Mountaineers have suggested difficult weather conditions, a lack of experience and the growing commercialization of expeditions as contributing factors to the backlog. British climber Robin Haynes Fisher was one of those who had warned of the dangers of overcrowding, before he died from what appeared to be altitude sickness at 28,215 feet, while returning from the summit on May 25.

During the week beginning May 20, crowds of climbers became stuck in a queue to the summit, above the mountain’s highest camp at 26,247 feet. The summit of Mount Everest is 29,029 feet high, CNN reported. Most people can only spend a matter of minutes at the summit without extra oxygen supplies, and the area where mountaineers have been delayed is known to many as the “death zone”.

The other people who died are Nepali climbing guide Dhruba Bista who fell ill on the mountain and was transported by helicopter to the base camp, where he passed away on May 24. Irish climber Kevin Hynes, 56, died in the morning of May 24 on the Tibetan side of Everest in his tent at 22,966 feet.

Two died on May 22 after descending from the summit: Indian climber Anjali Kulkarni, 55, and American climber Donald Lynn Cash, 55. Kalpana Das, 49, and Nihal Bagwan, 27, both from India, also died on Everest on May 23 on their return from the summit. Ravi, a 28-year-old Indian climber, died on May 17.

Last week, a search for Irish climber Seamus Lawless, 39, was called off, after the Trinity College Dublin professor fell while descending from the peak. Lawless is missing, presumed dead. More than 200 mountaineers have died on the peak since 1922, when the first climbers’ deaths on Everest were recorded. The majority of bodies are believed to have remained buried under glaciers or snow.




Two elusive giant exoplanets found


Two elusive giant exoplanets found

Los Angeles: Scientists have discovered two Jupiter-sized exoplanets about 150 light years away from Earth which could reveal whether life is possible on the smaller planets in other solar systems. “We believe planets like Jupiter have profoundly impacted the progression of life on Earth. Without them, humans might not be here to have this conversation,” said Stephen Kane, an associate professor at the University of California, Riverside in the US.

“Understanding how many other stars have planets like Jupiter could be very important for learning about the habitability of planets in those systems,” said Kane. Along with liquid water oceans, Kane said astronomers believe such planets have the ability to act as ‘lingshots,’ pulling objects like meteors, comets, and asteroids out of their trajectories en route to impact with small, rocky planets.

Many larger planets have been found close to their stars. However, those aren’t as useful for learning about the architecture of our own solar system, where the giant planets including Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are all farther from the Sun. The larger exoplanets also take many years to circle their stars, which means observing a complete orbit could engulf an astronomer’s entire

career. In addition to the two being orbited by giant Jupiter-like planets that had not been previously discovered, the team also detected a third, previously observed star with a giant planet in its system. “This discovery is an important piece of the puzzle because it helps us understand the factors that make a planet habitable and whether that’s common or not,” said Kane.




Japan: At least 2 dead, 17 injured after man attacks school children with knife in Kawasaki


Japan: At least 2 dead, 17 injured after man attacks school children with knife in Kawasaki

Tokyo: At least 16 people, including eight primary school children, suffered injuries in a suspected stabbing attack in the Japanese city of Kawasaki on early Tuesday, state media said.

According to Japan’s national broadcaster NHK, authorities confirmed that two children and an adult were without vital signs after the incident took place near Noborito train station. A male suspect, likely in his 40s to 50s, reportedly began slashing at people waiting at the station and was badly hurt after stabbing himself in the shoulder. He was detained on the spot by the police later.

Al Jazeera’s Wayne Hay, reporting from Tokyo, said that the attack took place at a time when the station was very busy with commuters. Footage broadcast on local television channels showed that emergency medical tents were put up to treat the wounded.




Donald Trump meets new Japanese Emperor Naruhito


Donald Trump meets new Japanese Emperor Naruhito

Tokyo: Visiting US President Donald Trump on Monday made history by becoming the first world leader to meet Japan’s newly enthroned Emperor Naruhito.

At the Imperial Palace here, the Emperor and Empress Masako received Trump and First Lady Melania amid a prevailing festive mood over the start of Reiwa Era, which began when Naruhito ascended the throne on May 1 after his father, Akihito stepped down on April 30 to end his three-decade reign, reports Kyodo News Agency. It was the first abdication by a Japanese monarch in over 200 years.

Nice to meet you,” said both the emperor and the empress in English in meeting the Trumps, according to the Imperial Household Agency. The Imperial couple and the Trumps shook hands and exchanged greetings without using interpreters before walking along a red carpet in the courtyard of the palace to attend the welcoming ceremony, which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie and other royal family members also participated in.

In the outdoor ceremony, Trump and the First Lady stood on a platform as the national anthems of the two countries were performed and also received a guard of honour. The Trumps then held a formal meeting with the Imperial couple inside the palace. The Japanese government decided to hand Trump the honour of being the first state guest of the new era in hopes of showcasing the depth of the nations’ bilateral alliance, according to Kyodo.

Abe is also extending extra hospitality to Trump during his four-day state visit through Tuesday, which the former has described as “historic”. Trump will hold a summit with Abe and participate in a banquet at the palace later Monday. Trump is staying three nights in Japan as a state guest, one night more than his predecessor Barack Obama did in 2014.

Trump visited Japan in November 2017, less than a year after he moved into the White House, and met then Emperor Akihito as an official guest. On Sunday, Trump played a round of golf with Abe, witnessed a sumo wrestling tournament where he handed out the awards to the winner and ended his day with a hibachi dinner that included grilled Wagyu beef and vanilla ice cream.




4 killed in Burkina Faso church attack


4 killed in Burkina Faso church attack

Ouagadougou [Burkina Faso]: At least four people lost their lives after a group of heavily armed individuals attacked a Catholic church in northern Burkina Faso on Sunday morning. The Christian community of Toulfe was the target of a terrorist attack gathered for Sunday prayers,” Al Jazeera quoted the bishop of Ouahigouya, Justin Kientega, as saying in a statement.

“The attack left four of the faithful dead,” the bishop added. The attack, which took place in the town of Toulfe located 240 kilometres northwest of Ouagadougou, marked the latest in a string of assaults on Christian places of worship in the region. “The attack caused panic in the village and many residents sought cover in their homes or in the bush,” a local resident told Al Jazeera.

Last week, gunmen killed four Catholics in a religious procession, days after a priest and five others were murdered at mass.
However, no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks that threatened the existence of peaceful relations between majority Muslims and Christians, who make up one-quarter of the country. The government of Burkina Faso blamed unnamed armed groups operating in the country and Africa’s surrounding Sahel region.

France has deployed nearly 4,500 troops in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad in a mission codenamed Barkhane to help the local forces combat armed groups operating in the region. French Special Forces, this month, also freed four foreign hostages in the former French colony during an overnight raid that killed two soldiers.




3 explosions rock Nepal, 4 killed


3 explosions rock Nepal, 4 killed

Kathmandu: At least four people have been killed in three consecutive blasts that took place in Kathmandu on Sunday. The Nepal Police confirmed that blasts took place in Sukedhara, Ghattekulo and Naagdhunga areas of Kathmandu, whereas the Army defused bombs in Koteshwor, Satdobato, Gwarko and Lagankhel. A total of seven people have been injured in the blasts, police said.

“At first we thought it was a gas cylinder explosion, but later it proved to be homemade bomb (explosion). Most of the bombs exploded while they were being made. We suspect a splinter Maoist group formerly led by Netra Bikram Chand is behind it. We have recovered bundles of pamphlets of the party from two blast sites,” a police official who is investigating the issue told ANI on the condition of anonymity.

The Police has arrested nine people from various locations in and around Kathmandu in connection with the blast.  The Government of Nepal recently blacklisted the splinter group for engaging in extortion and violent activities. The group has called for a strike on Monday to protest against the government’s attempt to contain it.




9 die in western Mexico shootout, official slain in south


9 die in western Mexico shootout, official slain in south

Mexico City: A shootout between rival gangs in western Mexico killed at least nine people and wounded four, authorities said Wednesday.

Prosecutors in the state of Michoacan said the confrontation occurred near the city of Uruapan. They did not identify the gangs involved, but the Jalisco cartel and a small gang known as the Viagras have been active in the state.     Assault rifles were found at the scene. Also Wednesday, authorities said gunmen killed a city official in the southern state of Guerrero.

The state prosecutors’ office said in a statement that Simón Gama García was exercising Wednesday morning when two people approached and shot him. He was identified as secretary-general of the town of Coyuca de Catalan. Prosecutors released an image showing forensic investigators examining the scene with evidence markers on the ground near a bicycle.

Killings of Mexican political officials rose in 2018, an election year, and then tapered off, but are still not uncommon. On April 25 a mayor and two others were slain in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz. The previous day a mayor was kidnapped and killed in Michoacan. Overall homicides in Mexico were up 9.7% in the first quarter, compared with the same period in 2018.




Mobile networks in Asia, Europe suspending orders of Huawei smartphones post US restrictions


Mobile networks in Asia, Europe suspending orders of Huawei smartphones post US restrictions

Hong Kong: Mobile networks in Asia and Europe have issued suspending orders for Huawei smartphones following the US decision last week to restrict the company’s access to American technology, the media reported.

The inclusion of Huawei on an export blacklist means the Chinese company can no longer source software or components from US suppliers without a license. Existing devices are unaffected but the restrictions threaten future Huawei products and its leading position in building super-fast next generation 5G networks, CNN reported.

Vodafone, the world’s second largest mobile operator, said on Wednesday that it had paused pre-orders in the UK for the Huawei Mate 20X (5G) smartphone. “This is a temporary measure while uncertainty exists regarding new Huawei 5G devices,” a company spokesperson told CNN Business.

The UK’s biggest carrier, EE, is also delaying the introduction of Huawei’s new smartphones. The company had touted the Mate 20X in a preview of its 5G network last week. Japan’s top mobile operators took similar steps against another device, the Huawei P30 Lite, earlier on Wednesday. The phone was scheduled to launch in the country later this month.

Leading Japanese telecoms firm NTT Docomo announced that it has stopped taking reservations for the phone, and is “looking into the impact of the US restrictions”, Docomo spokesperson Yoshikumi Kuroda said. Rival carriers KDDI and SoftBank Corp. said they will delay the release of the new Huawei phone.

The suspension of orders is the first tangible evidence that US President Donald Trump’s administration’s latest escalation of its campaign against Huawei on grounds of national security is hurting the company’s business, CNN reported. Huawei overtook Apple last year to become the world’s No. 2 smartphone brand behind Samsung, and it relies on markets outside of China for half of its sales. The US export ban has forced Google to cut Huawei’s new devices off from its Android ecosystem. A temporary reprieve by the US Commerce Department allows Google to service existing Huawei devices for the next 90 days.




Top