The Turkish lira tumbled on Wednesday to its lowest value against the US dollar


The Turkish lira tumbled on Wednesday to its lowest value against the US dollar

Ankara: The Turkish lira tumbled on Wednesday to its lowest value against the US dollar in two weeks, despite Ankara’s attempts to reassure investors after Moody’s downgraded its credit ratings on 20 Turkish financial institutions.

The currency had already been hit by concerns over monetary policy under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan but plunged further this month after a public spat with the United States.

The lira lost nearly a quarter of its value against the dollar in the past month and over 40 percent since January.

The lira was trading at 6.4 to the dollar around 1430 GMT on Wednesday, a loss of around two percent. The lira lost a similar percentage against the euro, trading at 7.5.

After last week’s long public holiday, the lira fell further on Monday, with economists warning the fears over the health of the Turkish economy remain.

Ratings agency Moody’s on Tuesday downgraded 14 banks by one notch and four others — including major lenders Denizbank and Is Bank — by two notches.

The Turkish central bank earlier Wednesday reiterated that it would provide banks with “all the liquidity that they needed” as it doubled their borrowing limits for overnight transactions from levels before August 13, effective from Wednesday.

The Turkish statistics office also announced that the economic confidence index fell to 83.9 in August, down from 92.2 in July and 104.9 in January. The reading is the lowest since March 2009.

New data also showed imports decreased by 9.4 percent compared with July 2017.

With inflation running at close to 16 percent and the current account deficit widening but the central bank refusing to tighten monetary policy, investors have yet to be persuaded by Ankara’s helmsmanship of the economy.

– ‘Strong’ fight against inflation –

And the spat with the United States over a detained American pastor prompted Washington to slap sanctions on two Turkish ministers and double tariffs on aluminium and steel imports from Turkey, leading to further misery for the lira.

Earlier in August, the lira topped seven to the dollar for the first time ever.

Washington has threatened to hit Ankara with further sanctions if pastor Andrew Brunson is not released from house arrest, with President Donald Trump insisting Brunson is innocent.

Turkish Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak accused the US of “launching a campaign against the Turkish economy” during a televised press conference in Ankara.

Albayrak — also Erdogan’s son-in-law — has sought to assuage investors’ concerns by insisting that his medium term plan to be announced early next month will tackle the issues bedevilling the Turkish economy.

He insisted that Turkey was committed to budgetary discipline as well as reducing the current account deficit.

“God willing, 2019 will be a very strong year for Turkey’s fight against inflation,” he said. The latest inflation data for August will be published on Monday.

Jason Tuvey, senior emerging markets economist at London-based Capital Economics said the latest signs showed that higher inflation coupled with the severe tightening of financial conditions is “filtering through into an abrupt slowdown in economic growth”.

AFP




Indus Water Treaty provided framework for resolving disputes on water use: UN Dy Secretary-General


Indus Water Treaty provided framework for resolving disputes on water use: UN Dy Secretary-General

United Nations: The 1960 Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan has survived disputes between the two countries and provided a framework for resolving disagreements over water use, a top UN official has said.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, addressing the High-Level Panel on Water Diplomacy in Stockholm yesterday, said that water can represent a source of cooperation, shared growth and mutual support. She, however, warned that getting caught up in “water-war” rhetoric will be a mistake for the international community. “When we examine history, we see that cooperation over water can prevail over conflict over water. Through water diplomacy, sometimes known as ‘hydrodiplomacy’, neighbouring states can be reminded of the benefits of cooperating around water resources,” she said, adding that water, if fairly shared, can become a confidence-building measure.

Such confidence-building measures are urgently needed in many of the current conflict areas, Mohammed said. “The 1960 Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan has survived disputes between the two countries, providing a framework for resolving disagreements over water use. “In the Middle East, water use has been an area where cooperation has been possible between some countries. In Central Asia, the United Nations is collaborating closely with the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea,” she said.


 
Mohammed said that by 2050, the world population is projected to rise to 9 billion, who will be sharing a finite resource – water. “One third of the world’s population already lives in countries with water stress. As the impacts of climate change grows, so too will the prospects of further stress,” she said. She stressed that water security encapsulates complex and interconnected challenges and highlights water’s centrality for achieving a larger sense of security, sustainability, development and human well-being.

Many factors contribute to water security, ranging from biophysical to infrastructural, institutional, political, social and financial – many of which lie outside the water realm, the UN official added. India and Pakistan, nuclear-armed arch rivals in south Asia, signed the Indus Waters Treaty in 1960 after nine years of negotiations, with the World Bank also being a signatory. The Treaty sets out a mechanism for cooperation and information exchange between the two countries regarding their use of the rivers. However, there have been disagreements and differences between India and Pakistan over the treaty.

While the World Bank has said India is allowed to construct hydroelectric power facilities on tributaries of the Jhelum and Chenab rivers with certain restrictions under the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty, Pakistan opposes the construction of the Kishanganga (330 megawatts) and Ratle (850 megawatts) hydroelectric power plants being built by India.




Try Myanmar military chiefs for genocide: UN


Try Myanmar military chiefs for genocide: UN

Report condemns violation of Rohingya Muslims’ rights

Geneva : Investigators working for the UN’s top human rights body said on Monday top Myanmar military leaders should be prosecuted for genocide against Rohingya Muslims.

The call, accompanying a first report by the investigators, amounts to some of the strongest language yet from UN officials who have denounced alleged human rights violations in Myanmar since a bloody crackdown began last August.


 
The 3-member “fact-finding mission” working under a mandate from the UN-backed Human Rights Council meticulously assembled hundreds of accounts by expatriate Rohingya, satellite footage and other information to assemble the report.

The UN-backed Human Rights Council created the mission six months before a rebel attack on security posts set off the crackdown that drove hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh.

Through hundreds of interviews with expatriate Rohingya and use of satellite footage, the team compiled accounts of crimes including gang rape, the torching of hundreds of villages, enslavement, and killings of children. The team was not granted access to Myanmar and has decried a lack of cooperation or even response from the government.

The team cited a “conservative” estimate that some 10,000 people were killed in the violence, but outside investigators have had no access to the affected regions — making a precise accounting elusive, if not impossible. Above all, the investigators said the situation in Myanmar should be referred to the International Criminal Court, and if not, to a special tribunal.

Human rights watchers say determining “genocidal intent” is perhaps the most difficult criteria to meet: In essence, it’s the task of assessing the mindsets of perpetrators to determine if ethnicity, race, religion or another attribute had motivated them. “The crimes in Rakhine state, and the manner in which they were perpetrated, are similar in nature, gravity and scope to those that have allowed genocidal intent to be established in other contexts,” the report said.

The investigators cited six Myanmar military leaders by name as “priority subjects” for possible prosecution, led by the commander-in-chief, Min Aung Hlaing. A longer list of names is to be kept in the office of the UN human rights chief for possible use in future judicial proceedings.

FB blocks A/Cs

Yangon: Facebook announ­c­ed on Monday it has block­ed the accounts of the comm­a­n­der-in-chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces, Min Aung Hlaing, and others to prevent the spread of hate speech and fake news.

“Today, we are taking more action in Myanmar, removing a total of 18 Facebook acco­unts, one Instagram account and 52 Facebook Pages, foll­o­w­ed by almost 12 million people. We are preserving data, including content, on the accounts and pages we have removed,” FB said.

“We want to prevent them from using our service to further inflame ethnic and religious tensions,” added FB.

In addition to General Hlaing, the Myanmar military television network, Myawady, has also been blocked.




UNICEF warns of Rohingya children facing danger of becoming ‘lost generation’


UNICEF warns of Rohingya children facing danger of becoming ‘lost generation’

Geneva: The UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) has warned that the children from the Rohingya Muslim minority are facing the danger of becoming a “lost generation”. “We’re talking about risking the loss or potential loss of a generation of Rohingya children,” Unicef spokesperson Simon Ingram told the media here on Wednesday.

“If we don’t make the investment in education now, we face the very real danger of seeing a lost generation of Rohingya children,” UNICEF Bangladesh Representative Edouard Beigbeder said, adding “who lack the skills they need to deal with their current situation, and who will be incapable of contributing to their society whenever they are able to return to Myanmar”, reports Efe news. Since August 25, 2017, around 700,000 Rohingya people have had to escape from what the UN described as “ethnic cleansing” unleashed by the Myanmar security forces, fleeing to neighbouring countries, especially to Bangladesh.

Long-time victims of religious segregation in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, the Rohingya people have been considered illegal immigrants by the government and were denied citizenship, and have lived for decades as stateless persons. Having spent several weeks in the rudimentary camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar where the refugees currently live, Ingram said that despite improvements that have been made to the camps, the Rohingya now “are starting to look forward, they’re starting to wonder, ‘What next?'”


 
“They are starting to think, you know, what sort of future that they really have, and this is where a new level of anxiety and fear starts to come in,” he added. Unicef is currently negotiating with the Bangladeshi government for new programmes for the Rohingya children, with the aim of improving the quality of education, increasing the number of hours spent in class and hiring teachers with the appropriate training. The agency has also called on Myanmar allow the half a million of Rohingya children in its territory to have equal access to compulsory education as the rest of the communities.




Donald Trump’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen says ‘happy’ to aid Russia probe


Donald Trump’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen says ‘happy’ to aid Russia probe

Washington: US President Donald Trump’s ex-lawyer, Michael Cohen, is said to be “more than happy” to speak to the inquiry into alleged collusion with Russia. Cohen pleaded guilty on Tuesday to violating finance laws during the 2016 presidential election by handling hush money for Trump’s alleged lovers.

Cohen is ready to “tell everything about Donald Trump that he knows”, his personal lawyer, Lanny Davis, said, BBC reported on Wednesday. Trump has argued that Cohen had made up stories in order to get a deal. The president denies there was any collusion with Russia to get him elected. In an interview with Fox & Friends, the president said he had found out about the payments “later on”, and that they did not come out of the campaign. In July, Cohen released audio tapes of him and Trump allegedly discussing payments to a former playboy model before the 2016 presidential election.

Michael Cohen admits paying women to hush up Donald Trump’s affairs
Cohen, who has been Trump’s personal lawyer for more than a decade, has pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges, including tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations. He said he had paid hush money to two women who alleged they had affairs with Trump, at the direction of “the candidate” – a clear reference to Trump. Cohen said the payment was made for the “principal purpose of influencing (the 2016) election”. Cohen has reached a plea deal with prosecutors, which may see his prison sentence reduced from 65 years to five years and three months.

 
Investigators have also demanded Cohen appear in court as part of a separate probe into the Trump Foundation, US media report. On the same day that Cohen pleaded guilty, a jury convicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of bank and tax fraud charges. It was the first criminal trial arising from the justice department probe, led by former FBI chief Robert Mueller. Mueller has been investigating allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, and whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to swing the election in his favour. Russia has denied claims it interfered in the elections. Trump has responded to both the Cohen and Manafort cases with a series of tweets criticising Cohen and praising Manafort.




Chinese Premier Li Hopes Imran Khan Will Further 'All Weather' Sino-Pak Friendship


Chinese Premier Li Hopes Imran Khan Will Further 'All Weather' Sino-Pak Friendship

Islamabad: Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang on Monday telephoned Pakistan's new Prime Minister Imran Khan to congratulate him and hoped that the "all-weather" friendship between the two countries would further strengthen under his leadership.

According to a press release issued from Prime Minister House here, the Chinese premier said his government wishes to work closely with the new Pakistani government and hoped that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project will be completed on time.

The over USD 50 billion CPEC is a network of infrastructure projects that are currently under construction throughout Pakistan that will connect China's Xinjiang province with Gwadar port in Pakistan's Balochistan province.


India has objected to the CPEC project as it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.


Premier Li expressed hope that the "all-weather" friendship between the two countries would strengthen under the new government in Pakistan, the release said.

Li also invited Khan, who was sworn-in as the 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan on Saturday, to visit China.

The prime minister thanked his Chinese counterpart and said he is "keen to learn from [China's] experience in poverty alleviation, anti-corruption and social sector reforms like health and education as these are his government's priorities for domestic reforms", the Dawn newspaper quoted the release as saying.

Khan also "vowed" to work closely with China on "all regional and international issues of mutual concern", it said.

Khan thanked Li for his invitation and said that he looked forward to his trip to China. He then extended a counter invitation to Li, asking him to visit Pakistan "at his earliest convenience".

China has historically come to Pakistan's rescue with economic, political and military assistance and the leadership of the two countries have often described their ties as "all weather".




Kofi Annan, former UN chief, dies at 80


Kofi Annan, former UN chief, dies at 80

Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general who won the Nobel Peace Prize for humanitarian work, has died aged 80, his aides say.

He "passed away peacefully on Saturday after a short illness", the foundation named after him said on Saturday.

Annan was the first black African to take up the role of the world's top diplomat, serving from 1997 to 2006.

He later served as the UN special envoy for Syria, leading efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

In a statement announcing his death, the Kofi Annan Foundation described him as a "global statesman and deeply committed internationalist who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful world".

"Wherever there was suffering or need, he reached out and touched many people with his deep compassion and empathy. He selflessly placed others first, radiating genuine kindness, warmth and brilliance in all he did."

The diplomat, who was originally from Ghana, died in the Swiss city of Geneva, where he had been living for several years.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Price in 2001 for helping to revitalise the international body.

His tenure as UN secretary-general coincided with the Iraq War and the HIV/Aids pandemic.

Kofi Annan described his greatest achievement as the Millennium Development Goals which - for the first time - set global targets on issues such as poverty and child mortality.

BBC IN PUT 




Imran Khan to sworn-in as Pakistan’s Prime Minister today; Navjot Sidhu among special guests


Imran Khan to sworn-in as Pakistan’s Prime Minister today; Navjot Sidhu among special guests

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan will sworn-in as the 22nd Prime Minister of the country at the President House here on Saturday.

The oath-taking ceremony is scheduled to take place at 9:30 am (local time) and Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain would administer the oath to Khan. Before the ceremony takes place, Pakistan’s national anthem will be played out, Geo News reported. Following the oath-taking ceremony, the signing of documents will take place. Khan, who led the Pakistan cricket team to their only World Cup victory in 1992, would assume the prime ministerial post after more than two decades, since joining politics in 1996.

The members of the 1992 winning squad are slated to attend the swearing-in ceremony. From India, former cricketer and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu, who arrived in Pakistan yesterday, will grace the ceremony. Other cricketers such as Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar, who was also invited by Khan, earlier confirmed that they would not be participating in the event. While Dev cited ‘personal reasons’, Gavaskar also declined the invitation owing to his commentary commitments for the ongoing Test series between India and England, the report said.

On Friday, Khan was elected as the new Prime Minister of Pakistan, defeating his rival Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidate Shehbaz Sharif. While, the 65-year-old cricketer-turned-politician bagged 176 seats, Sharif, the PML-N president and the brother of jailed former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, managed to secure just 96 seats, The Dawn reported. The newly-elected Speaker of the House, Asad Qaiser announced the results amid the chants of ‘na manzoor’ (unacceptable) and “Wazir-e-azam Nawaz Sharif” (former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif).

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which is the third largest party in the National Assembly (NA), the lower house of Pakistan’s Parliament, withdrew its support for the PML-N and abstained from voting in the House. In the July 25 general elections, the PTI had emerged as the single largest party with 116 seats. The number increased to 158 in the NA after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) issued notifications of the successful candidates on the reserved seats for women and the minority community on August 11.

After being elected as the prime minister, Khan pledged to bring a change which according to him “the country was awaiting for last 70 years”. He assured to identify the people accountable for “looting the country”, as per the report. “Those who stole this nation’s money and stashed it abroad, I will bring them all to accountability. We will together debate and think on how to generate our own revenues so that we never have to be dependent on another country,” he said while thanking the youth of Pakistan for supporting him. Recounting his journey of 22 years from a cricketer to a politician, Khan asserted that no “military dictator nurtured” him and he has reached this height with his own “struggle and accord.”




Sexual abuse accusations criminal and morally reprehensible: Vatican City


Sexual abuse accusations criminal and morally reprehensible: Vatican City

Vatican City: The Vatican broke its silence about a grand jury report that detailed decades of sexual abuse of thousands of children by over 300 priests in the US state of Pennsylvania, calling the accusations “criminal and morally reprehensible”.

“Regarding the report made public in Pennsylvania this week, there are two words that can express the feelings faced with these horrible crimes: shame and sorrow,” CNN quoted Greg Burke, director of the Vatican’s Press Office, as saying on Thursday.

“The Holy See treats with great seriousness the work of the Investigating Grand Jury of Pennsylvania and the lengthy Interim Report it has produced. The Holy See condemns unequivocally the sexual abuse of minors.” This week, Pope Francis had been under increasing pressure to address a rapidly escalating sexual abuse crisis that has spread across several continents, from Australia to Latin America.


The Vatican’s comments came 48 hours after the Pennsylvania report was released. The report said internal documents from six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania — some held in a secret archive to which only the bishop had a key — show that more than 300 “predator priests” have been credibly accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 child victims.

The lengthy report investigates clergy sexual abuse dating back to 1947. According to the report, the accused priests victimised boys, girls, teens and pre-pubescent children. Some victims were plied with alcohol and groped or molested while others were raped.

“The clock is ticking for all of us in Church leadership,” CNN quoted Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, the Pope’s top adviser on sexual abuse, as saying on Thursday. “Catholics have lost patience with us and civil society has lost confidence in us.” The Pope is yet to comment on the the nearly 900-page report.




Sexual abuse accusations criminal and morally reprehensible: Vatican City


Sexual abuse accusations criminal and morally reprehensible: Vatican City

Vatican City: The Vatican broke its silence about a grand jury report that detailed decades of sexual abuse of thousands of children by over 300 priests in the US state of Pennsylvania, calling the accusations “criminal and morally reprehensible”.

“Regarding the report made public in Pennsylvania this week, there are two words that can express the feelings faced with these horrible crimes: shame and sorrow,” CNN quoted Greg Burke, director of the Vatican’s Press Office, as saying on Thursday.

“The Holy See treats with great seriousness the work of the Investigating Grand Jury of Pennsylvania and the lengthy Interim Report it has produced. The Holy See condemns unequivocally the sexual abuse of minors.” This week, Pope Francis had been under increasing pressure to address a rapidly escalating sexual abuse crisis that has spread across several continents, from Australia to Latin America.


The Vatican’s comments came 48 hours after the Pennsylvania report was released. The report said internal documents from six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania — some held in a secret archive to which only the bishop had a key — show that more than 300 “predator priests” have been credibly accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 child victims.

The lengthy report investigates clergy sexual abuse dating back to 1947. According to the report, the accused priests victimised boys, girls, teens and pre-pubescent children. Some victims were plied with alcohol and groped or molested while others were raped.

“The clock is ticking for all of us in Church leadership,” CNN quoted Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, the Pope’s top adviser on sexual abuse, as saying on Thursday. “Catholics have lost patience with us and civil society has lost confidence in us.” The Pope is yet to comment on the the nearly 900-page report.




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