Three killed in UN helicopter crash
Juba: 11 An Ethiopian military helicopter crashed inside a United Nations compound in the disputed Abyei region between Sudan and South Sudan, killing 3 crew members and injuring 10 passengers, the UN has said. The UN said Sunday in a statement that the helicopter was carrying 23 passengers when it crashed on Saturday inside the compound of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), “killing three of its crew members.”
China rejects Turkey’s charges on Uighurs, says the poet did not die
Beijing: China hit back on Monday at Turkish criticism over its treatment of Uighurs and denied Ankara’s claim that a renowned poet from the Muslim minority had died in custody, calling it an “absurd lie”. Turkey’s foreign ministry had released a statement on Saturday severely criticising China’s mass detentions of its Turkic-speaking Uighurs, and claiming that poet Abdurehim Heyit had died serving an eight-year Chinese prison sentence imposed as punishment over “one of his songs”.
But China on Sunday released a video showing a man who identified himself as Heyit and saying that he was alive and well.
“China has made solemn representations toward Turkey. We hope the relevant Turkish persons can distinguish between right and wrong and correct their mistakes,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said during a daily press briefing. She called the Turkish statement “vile” and urged Ankara to withdraw its “false accusations”.
Crypto-Exchange CEO dies in India, USD 145 million stuck as he had the passwords
Toronto/New York: One of Canada’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges has been granted bankruptcy protection after its 30-year old founder died unexpectedly in India, taking with him passwords of tens of thousands of customers who are unable to access USD 145 million in funds.
Quadriga said it was unable to gain access to Canadian dollar 190 million (USD 145 million) of bitcoin and other digital assets after Gerald Cotten, its CEO and co-founder, died in December. He died of complications arising from Crohn’s Disease, an inflammatory bowel ailment, while volunteering at an orphanage in India. Many of the digital currencies held by Quadriga are stored offline in accounts known as “cold wallets,” a way of protecting them from hackers. Cotten is the only person with access to the wallets, according to the company.
Cotten’s sudden death has plunged Quadriga into crisis and left it struggling to figure out how to refund more than 100,000 of its users, CNN reported. On Tuesday, the Vancouver-based company said it was granted creditor protection in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in British Columbia as it tries to sort out its financial mess. Cotten’s widow, Jennifer Robertson, described people posting inaccurate speculation on social media about “whether he is really dead.”
“For the past weeks, we have worked extensively to address our liquidity issues, which include attempting to locate and secure our very significant cryptocurrency reserves held in cold wallets,” Quadriga said in a statement. “Unfortunately, these efforts have not been successful.” Robertson said that the laptop that Cotten used to run the currency exchange is encrypted, according to a copy of her affidavit posted online by cryptocurrency news site CoinDesk.
“I do not know the password or recovery key,” she said. “Despite repeated and diligent searches, I have not been able to find them written down anywhere,” she said. The company has hired tech experts in an attempt to hack into Cotten’s laptop and other devices to retrieve the missing cryptocurrencies, but Robertson warned that at least some of them “may be lost.” Quadriga, which is based in Vancouver, also owes about 70 million Canadian dollars (USD 53 million) in cash that it is unable to pay back, she said, citing difficulties accessing funds through the traditional banking system.
The Nova Scotia court appointed financial services firm Ernst & Young as an independent monitor that will oversee Quadriga’s efforts to resolve its financial problems. The exchange, launched in December 2013, allowed users to deposit cash or cryptocurrency through its online trading platform, storing the digital coins on blockchain ledgers that are accessible only by an immutable alphanumeric code.
The company had 363,000 registered users, of which 92,000 have account balances owing to them in cash or cryptocurrencies, Bloomberg reported, quoting court filings. Cotten was the sole officer and director. The Canadian High Commission in New Delhi told CNN that it was aware of Cotten’s death on December 9 and had “provided consular assistance,” but declined to reveal further details. Elvis Cavalic of Calgary said that he bought a few hundred dollars of bitcoin using Quadriga’s platform.
When he tried to withdraw 15,000 dollars in his account in October, he could not. “This is a tough lesson learned. I would probably avoid [cryptocurrency] in the future,” Cavalic was quoted as saying by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). ‘”They’ve left us completely in the dark. I’m kind of preparing for the worst,” Cavalic said. The CBC reached out to lawyers for CIBC and Robertson for comment but did not receive a response by deadline.
While the case is unusual, it is not the first time the cryptocurrency industry has been hit by security concerns. Hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of digital currencies have been stolen by hackers over the past few years. In India, the Reserve Bank of India had banned the use of virtual currencies and informed the Supreme Court that allowing dealings in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoins would encourage illegal transactions. The spectacular boom and bust in the prices of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have presented a quandary for governments around the world, which have taken differing approaches in trying to regulate their use.
Guest at SOTU, 11-year-old Joshua Trump, falls asleep during Donald Trump’s speech
Washington D.C. [USA]: Joshua Trump, an 11-year-old boy who was bullied for his last name, was visibly enjoying the best sleep of his life at the State of Union address by US President Donald Trump on Tuesday night (local time). Joshua was one of the special guests for Trump’s State of Union address.
Joshua, a sixth-grade student from Wilmington, Delaware who had to drop out of school, had been invited to the event by first lady Melania Trump. She hoped his presence would send an important message that’s in line with the anti-bullying platform of her Be Best initiative. Photos of the night that went viral on the internet, showed Joshua within a distance of two seats from Melania Trump during the most awaited address of the year, where many hailed him as an unlikely talisman of the anti-Trump ‘resistance’ while one wag remarked: “Joshua Trump spoke for all Americans”.
ISIS caliphate has been decimated: US President Donald Trump
Joshua can be seen enjoying an open-mouthed sleep, uninterrupted by the loud applause of the Parliamentarians, flashing cameras, or the 82 minutes speech of the US President. “Joshua Trump is a Trump I can get behind,” quipped another while a third enthused: “Not all heroes wear capes.” While giving a brief description of the young guest, the White House in a statement said that the sixth-grader is a fan of science, art and history and hopes to pursue a career that has something to do with animals.
South China Morning Post reported that Joshua, after dropping out of school in 2017, “had lost the will to live” according to his mother. Joshua was home-schooled for a year, before getting re-enrolled in middle school.” They say are you related to Donald Trump? And I say, ‘Would I be here if I’m related to him’ the schoolboy told Inside Edition in December.” However, Joshua’s school has instructed his teachers not to use his surname any more and disciplined five students, who apologised to the boy regarding the issue.
ISIS caliphate has been decimated: US President Donald Trump
Washington: ISIS has been decimated, US President Donald Trump has said, adding that sometime probably next week, he will formally announce to have 100 percent of the caliphate.
The United States military, its Coalition partners and the Syrian Democratic Forces have liberated virtually all of the territory previously held by ISIS in Syria and Iraq, Trump said on Wednesday. “It should be formally announced sometime probably next week that we will have 100 percent of the caliphate. But I want to wait for the official word. I don’t want to say it too early,” Trump said in his address to the Ministers of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.
He said the new approach developed by his administration, empowered US commanders in the field, enabled partners on the ground, and directly confronted ISIS’s “wicked” ideology. Over the past two years, US and its partners have retaken more than 20,000 square miles of land, he said. “We have secured one battlefield. And we’ve had victory after victory after victory, and retaken both Mosul and Raqqa. We have eliminated more than 60 mile high-value ISIS leaders,” he said.
Also Read: 10-year-old cancer-survivor steals spotlight during Donald Trump’s annual address
“Now, they re-form; we know that. But they’re having a hard time re-forming, and I wouldn’t say it’s a great job to have because of us. It’s not exactly – hopefully will not be a sought-after occupation,” he said. “More than a hundred other top ISIS officials have been eliminated, and tens of thousands of ISIS fighters are gone. They’re gone,” he stressed. US and its international partners, he said, have freed more than five million civilians from the grip of these bloodthirsty killers.
“Thanks to the Global Coalition, including all of you here today, and to our other partners, the ISIS caliphate has been decimated. Nobody thought it was possible to do it this quickly,” Trump said. Observing that the struggle against terrorism was a shared fight, Trump said: “We do it together. If we don’t do it together, it can never be the same. Everyone must do their part and contribute their fair share.” “We must also recognise that immigration security is national security, and that foreign fighters must not gain access into our nations,” he said.
Later in a statement, the Ministers of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS/DAESH said that the territorial defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria will mark a significant milestone in the war against ISIS. But this does not mean the campaign against ISIS is over, it said. Further engagement was needed in Iraq and Syria, where the terrorist group is still resilient, it added. ISIS’s leadership, affiliates, and its supporters view its territorial losses in Iraq and Syria as a setback, not as defeat, the statement said.
In 2019, with the conventional military effort against ISIS in Syria nearing culmination and shifting to a supporting rather than a central role, the Coalition members will open a discussion to plan the next phase of the campaign, it said. This could involve an effort to counter ISIS’s reversion to insurgency in Syria and Iraq, the statement said.
“The Coalition is determined to increase the pressure to disrupt ISIS’s trans-regional network through increased information sharing and complementary efforts in counter-finance, strategic communication, law enforcement, the justice sector, and security for our homelands,” the statement said. The meeting was attended by foreign ministers and representatives from more than 70 countries. Afghanistan was the only South Asian country to be present in this international coalition to defeat ISIS.
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Australia: Military joins rescue efforts as devastating floods bring crocodiles to streets
Cairns: Australia’s military has been deployed to tackle devastating “once-in-a-century” floods that have inundated homes, schools and airports in the country’s northeast, forcing hundreds to flee and bringing crocodiles onto the streets. The Australian Defence Forces filled sandbags, deployed amphibious cargo vehicles and helped pluck flashlight-wielding residents from their rooftops Monday, as monsoon rains drenched the northern state of Queensland.
Australia’s tropical north typically experiences heavy rains during the monsoon season, but the recent downpour has far exceeded normal levels. The authorities were forced to open floodgates late Sunday, unleashing what they called “dangerous and high velocity flows.” Images from the city of Townsville showed cars mostly submerged and picket fences barely poking through waist-deep flood waters.
Desperate residents had to contend not only with flash flooding, landslides and power blackouts, but also reptilian predators that have been spotted in residential roads and cul-de-sacs. The Townsville Bulletin said it had received reports of several saltwater crocodile sightings in the flood-ravaged area.
Emergency services struggled to respond, carrying out 18 “swift water rescues” overnight. More than 1,100 people have called the emergency services for urgent help, according to state premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Around 400 Townsville residents have sought shelter at nearby Lavarak military barracks and the Red Cross is also assisting with the response and recovery effort.
“Small boats worked through the night to evacuate members of the community,” said local commander Brigadier Scott Winter. Palaszczuk warned the communities face more difficulties ahead. Schools and courts remain closed, more rain is on the way and emergency warnings still in effect for more than a dozen rivers.
The town of Ingham, just north of Townsville, got over 10 centimetres of rain in just a few hours on Monday morning, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. Winds are expected to gust at up to 100 kilometres (62 miles) an hour on the coast.
Up to 20,000 homes are at risk of being inundated if the rains continue, officials said.
“It’s basically not just a one in 20-year event, it’s a one-in-100-year event,” said Palaszczuk. “This is unprecedented, we’ve never seen anything like this before,” she said. The Bureau of Meteorology’s Adam Blazak told AFP the downpours could continue until Thursday, while floodwaters will take some time to recede even when the rains lessen. Some areas are expected to get a year’s worth of rain in just over a week.
The region receives an average of about 2,000 millimetres (6.5 feet) of rain annually, but some towns are already on track to pass that. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” Townsville resident Chris Brookehouse told national broadcaster ABC, adding that his house was flooded with water more than one metre deep.
“The volume of water is just incredible. Downstairs is gone, the fridge and freezer are floating. Another five or six steps and upstairs is gone too.” Blazak said that with adverse weather predicted to continue for up to 72 hours, some regions could see record-breaking levels of rainfall.
France: 7 dead, 1 injured after building catches fire in Paris
Paris: Seven people died and another was seriously injured in a building fire in a wealthy Paris neighbourhood on Monday night, the fire service said. “The toll could still increase because the fire is still in progress on the 7th and 8th floors” of the eight-storey block, a fire service spokesman said at the scene. The blaze in the French capital’s trendy 16th arrondissement also left 27 people — including three firefighters — with minor injuries.
Zuckerberg sees ‘positive’ force of Facebook despite firestorm
San Francisco: Mark Zuckerberg has said he sees Facebook as a largely “positive” force for society as the embattled social network marked its 15th anniversary. Even as Facebook is facing a wave of criticism over issues of manipulation, misinformation, abuse and other social ills, Zuckerberg said on Monday it would be a mistake “to overly emphasize the negative” impacts of social media and the internet.
The Facebook co-founder and chief executive said he sees profound social changes “as networks of people connected via the internet replace traditional hierarchies and reshape institutions from government to business to media.”
In a post on his Facebook page, he argued that “while any rapid social change creates uncertainty, I believe what we’re seeing is people having more power, and a long term trend reshaping society to be more open and accountable over time.”
He said Facebook and other social networks have fundamentally changed how people interact with their communities and institutions. “I’ll never forget how right after we launched News Feed, we saw millions of people organise marches against violence in Colombia. We saw communities come together to do viral fundraiser,” he wrote.
Zuckerberg added: “If the last 15 years were about people building these new networks and starting to see their impact, then the next 15 years will be about people using their power to remake society in ways that have the potential to be profoundly positive for decades to come.”
Facebook has seen unprecedented success by amassing more than 2.3 billion people worldwide who actively use the social network to share updates, obtain information and connect with new people.
Despite the wave of scandals, Facebook took in a record USD 22 billion profit for 2018 as revenues surged to USD 55 billion. Zuckerberg has acknowledged that Facebook needs to do more to restore trust, and ferret out misinformation and abuse, and on Monday repeated his pledge to spend more “on safety and security.”
His comments come 15 years after he and classmates at Harvard University founded what was known as “the facebook” and began a mission described by Zuckerberg as connecting the world.
India issues ‘demarche’ to American Embassy over detention of Indian students in US
New Delhi: India Saturday issued a demarche to the American Embassy here, expressing its concern over the detention of Indian students in the US, and sought immediate consular access to them. The External Affairs Ministry said India continues to closely monitor and take proactive measures to address the situation arising out of the detention of several Indian students in connection with their enrolment in a ‘fraudulent university in the US’.
One-hundred-thirty foreign students arrested by US authorities for enroling at a fake university allegedly to remain in that country are largely Indians. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents made the arrests on Wednesday.
“Our concern over the dignity and well-being of the detained students and the need for immediate consular access for Indian officials to the detainees was reiterated,” it said.
The ministry underlined to the US Embassy that students, who may have been duped into enrolling in the ‘university’ should be treated differently from those recruiters who have duped them.
“We have urged the US side to share full details and regular updates of the students with the government, to release them from detention at the earliest and not to resort to deportation against their will,” the ministry said.
The India mission and consulates have visited several detention centres throughout the US to extend consular assistance to the detained students, the MEA said.
“So far, about 30 Indian students have been contacted by our consular officers. Efforts to contact the remaining Indian students are continuing,” it said.
The ministry said a 24/7 helpline has been established in the Indian Embassy in Washington for assistance/queries related to the detention of Indian students. The helpline numbers are: +1-202-322-1190 and +1-202-340-2590 and email is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The ministry said the Indian government and the Indian Embassy and consulates in the US attach the highest priority to the welfare of the detained students and will continue to work with the American authorities and other stakeholders to address the issue.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel shutting down her Facebook page
London: Giving another clue Angela Merkel is in the final phase of her political career, the German Chancellor has announced she is closing down her Facebook page which has more than 2.5 million followers.
Merkel, who handed the leadership of Germany’s centre-right Christian Democratic Union to Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer in December, announced the move to give up her Facebook page in a short video on her official page on Friday, The Guardian reported.
“Today is the day I want to thank you for the strong support of my Facebook page,” Merkel said in the video.
“You know I’m no longer the head of the CDU, and that’s why I will close down my Facebook page.”
Merkel has used the Facebook page to inform her followers about her whereabouts and the latest issues she is focusing on, besides providing details on her favourites — books, films, others.
Merkel will, however, continue to be active on Facebook-owned photo-sharing platform Instagram. People will also be able to follow her work on the official German government’s Facebook page. Unlike many politicians, Merkel has so far avoided using Twitter.