Pak teenager killed at Texas school laid to rest in Karachi
Karachi, May 23 (PTI) The body of a 17-year-old female Pakistani exchange student killed in the latest mass shooting incident in the US was today laid to rest. Sabika Sheikh was among 10 students and staff who were killed on Friday at Santa Fe High School in Taxes. The alleged shooter is 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis, who is being held on capital murder charges. She was today laid to rest at the Azimpura graveyard in Shah Faisal Colony after funeral prayers were offered at Karachi’s Hakeem Saeed Ground, Dawn News reported. The body of the teenager arrived at cargo complex of Karachi airport this morning from Houston, Texas. The body was received by family members and officials of US Consulate at the airport.
Sabika was studying in Texas on a US State Department scholarship under the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) programme. She had been attending classes at the school since August last, and said that getting accepted into the US programme to study was the best thing that ever happened to her. Sabika, the eldest of three sisters, was to return home in Pakistan in three weeks, by Eid ul-Fitr. Her host family said their time with her was “such a precious gift.” A memorial service was held for the young woman at a mosque Sunday night in Stafford. A memorial of flowers and messages for Sabika has been grown outside of the high school.
Meanwhile, her father Abdul Aziz Sheikh, has urged US President Donald Trump to take action. Her family was notified on Friday that Sabika was one of the 10 killed at the hands of a gunman inside of Sante Fe High School. Sheikh now has a strong message for the president. “I would like to say to the Trump administration, kindly stop this type of incident,” Sheikh said. Sheikh called on Trump to reform gun laws in the name of his daughter. “You can make rules and law and you can amend your Constitution and change the law of guns, kindly take serious action on this.” Sheikh said.
UAE Entrepreneurs to sponsor education of Kerala nurse’s kids
Abu Dhabi : Two Abu Dhabi-based entrepreneurs have pledged to support the two children of a Kerala nurse who died after attending to Nipah virus patients in the Indian state.A mother of two, 28-year-old Lini Puthussery from Kozhikkode was cremated on Monday even before her family members could bid a final goodbye because of fears that the virus could spread.
Santhi Pramot and Jyothi Pallat, executive directors of Avitis Institute of Medical Sciences in Palghat in Kerala, told the Khaleej Times they have pledged to sponsor the education of Puthussery’s two sons, aged 2 and 7.Hailing her dedication, Santhi Pramot, who lives with her family in Abu Dhabi, said: “What she did is a heroic sacrifice in the line of duty. We want to take a small step to honour her devotion to the nursing profession and also support the family in their grief.
“We have contacted the family and informed them that their sons’ education till they are self-reliant is our responsibility.
“We are in the healthcare profession and are aware of the sacrifices and hardships of medical nurses. It was indeed a heart-breaking incident that she died while attending to her patients,” Pramot said.
Meanwhile, Puthussery’s brother-in-law Jayakumar Velom, a Sharjah resident, said Lini aspired to work in the Gulf. “Lini wanted to find a job in the Gulf region to support her children and her aged mother. She tried many times but couldn’t get anything,” Velom told the daily.In a final note that Puthussery scribbled for her husband in a hospital isolation unit, she urged him to take care of their children and take them to the Gulf.
Manchester attack: City remembers arena bomb attack victims
Manchester [United Kingdom]: About 3,500 choir singers have come together to lead a chorus of amateur voices for a mass sing-along as Manchester marked the first anniversary of the arena bomb attack that killed 22 people.
Albert Square hosted the Manchester Together – With One Voice event, which featured songs by Elbow and Oasis and as well as by American singer Ariana Grande, reported Sky News. Other performances included Oasis hit Wonderwall, by Manchester’s lesbian and gay chorus choir, and a group of emergency services staff singing Bridge Over Troubled Water.
Meanwhile, Prince William remembered the 22 victims of the Manchester bombing by attending the Manchester Arena National Service of Commemoration at Manchester Cathedral, according to the reports. The evening began with video tributes from well-known local figures. Meanwhile the Duke of Cambridge gave a reading and met some of the bereaved families.
In May 2017, Grande had finished her concert at the Manchester Arena in the United Kingdom when a terrorist detonated a bomb, killing 22 people and injuring more than 500 others. “The Manchester Arena attack showed the worst of humanity,” said Ariana Grande as she spoke in detail for the first time about last year’s bombing.
Summit with Kim Jong-un on June 12 “may not work out”: US President Donald Trump
Washington: US President Donald Trump on Tuesday suggested that his historic summit with Kim Jong-un “may not work out” even as he asserted that the North Korean leader was “serious” about denuclearisation. Trump met his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in at the White House on Tuesday as the fate of the much-awaited June 12 Singapore summit between him and Kim loomed large.
As he welcomed Moon in the Oval Office, Trump told reporters that it will be great if his meeting with Kim occured as scheduled, but if did not, it will take place later. “We’re moving along. We’ll see what happens,” Trump said in response to a question. “There’s a very substantial chance that it won’t work out. That doesn’t mean that it won’t work out over a period of time, but it may not work out for June 12,” Trump said in the Oval Office where he hosted Moon.
Trump and Kim are scheduled to meet in Singapore on June 12. However, North Korea has threatened to cancel the meeting over a joint US-South Korea military exercise. The US has said it was going ahead with the preparation. “You will know soon,” Trump told reporters about the summit. “If it doesn’t happen, maybe it will happen later…You never know about deals…I’ve made a lot of deals. You never really know,” Trump said.
Trump said he believed Kim was “serious” about denuclearization as he aims to push ahead with the Singapore summit. “I do think he is serious. I think he is absolutely very serious,” he said, but declined to say whether he had spoken to Kim. “They’re hardworking, great people,” he said of North Koreans. “He will be extremely happy. He will be very happy” he said of Kim if the deal works out.
Earlier, Moon’s national security advisor Chung Eui-yong told reporters that there were 99.9 per cent chances for the summit to happen. “We believe there is a 99.9 per cent chance the North Korea-US summit (set for June 12 in Singapore) will be held as scheduled. But we’re just preparing for many different possibilities,” Chung told reporters.
“We’re trying to understand the situation from the North’s perspective,” he said when asked about changes in North Korea’s rhetoric. The two leaders were scheduled to have a candid conversation – in multiple settings including over lunch at the White House – on how to make the North-US summit a success and produce significant agreements and how to best implement those agreements, Chung said.
“South Korea and the US have been sharing every bit of information and have remained in close coordination with each other,” Chung said. “We’ve had various working-level discussions on how to steer North Korea in a direction that we want, and I expect (Moon and Trump) will have great talks this time,” he added. Chung denied the New York Times article reporting that Trump is now doubting the advisability of the June 12 summit. “During phone calls between our two leaders or talks between our National Security Councils, I never got such an impression,” he said.
Pakistan court issues notice to authorities on delay in release of funds for Sikh crematorium
Peshawar: A Pakistani court today issued notice to authorities after a Sikh leader filed a petition urging the court to direct the government to release funds to build a crematorium for the community in the provincial capital so that they can cremate their dead instead of burying them.
Sikh community leader Babaji Guru Gurpal Singh, through his lawyer, submitted the writ petition in the court last week, saying the provincial government had allocated Rs 30 million in the 2017-18 budget to build the crematorium for the Sikh community and a graveyard for Christians in the city.
However, the government has yet to release funds for these projects nor has it made any plans for these projects.
Additional Advocate General, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Qaiser Khan informed the Peshawar High Court bench that the differences among the Sikh community members were the main hurdle in building crematory ground, claiming that the government has already taken measures to provide facilities to Sikhs.
Justice Mussarat Hilali said that the court would retrieve the withheld money for minorities if the government failed to facilitate it for minorities.
The court also summoned the Auqaf Department administrator and Town I nazim on May 31 and adjourned the hearing.
Singh said that about 60,000 Sikhs live in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, including 15,000 who live in Peshawar alone. Despite that, there is no crematorium where Sikh mourners can carry out the last rites of their loved ones.
“Against their religious teachings, they are forced to bury dead one,” Singh wrote in his petition, adding that the nearest crematorium is located near Attock, 45 kilometers away from Peshawar.
Although the Attock crematorium is intended to primarily serve the Hindu community, it is also used by the Sikh community.
While cremation is culturally imperative for Sikhs and Hindus, the cost is a major prohibitive factor for them since many middle and low-income members of the community cannot afford the high costs of cremation.
“We are grateful for such a facility,” Singh said, adding, “But for the poor members of the community, they cannot even afford to transport the funeral.” The petitioner asked the court to direct the government to select a suitable spot to build the crematorium near Peshawar and set up a modern facility, keeping in view the environmental requirements and concerns, so that the community can perform the last rituals of their loved ones without any problem.
The petitioner also claimed that the KP government had allocated millions of funds for establishment of a crematory ground and Christian cemetery, but officials in the Department of Auqaf and Religious Affairs were employing delaying tactics in utilization of these funds for the purpose.
Florida school shooting accused threatened to kill family in past
New York: Florida High school shooting accused had reportedly threatened to kill his family members in the past. As reported by the Fox News, Nikolas Cruz accused of killing 17 people during the high school shooting on February 14 had earlier threatened to kill his own mother and brother.
This revelation was made by Nikolas’ younger brother Zachary in an interview with Miami Herald. Zachary said that Nikolas had once pointed a loaded gun at him after getting into a spat with him. Though soon after their mother returned home and averted any untoward incident. Nikolas allegedly brought up a loaded gun and held up to his forehead as their mother watched, Zachary added.
Further, during a separate incident, Nikolas allegedly pointed a gun at their mom Lynda after breaking into an argument with her. Following this, Lynda ran from the place. Zachary further claimed that his younger brother was depressed and would sometimes inflict self-harming injuries. Further being an autistic kid, Nikolas would often isolate himself from his schoolmates. The Florida High school shooting took place on February 14 when Nikolas went on a rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and gunned down 17 students and injured 14 others.
He allegedly used an AR-15 assault rifle that he had purchased legally. After the incident, many lawmakers, gun control advocates and student survivors of the Florida school shooting have urged the Trump administration to implement tougher gun measures in the US. Many students across the US held mass protests and walk-ins of pressurising authorities to implement tougher gun laws.
US President Donald Trump congratulates Vladimir Putin on his inauguration
Washington: US President Donald Trump has congratulated his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on being sworn in for a fourth term, saying he looks forward to a time when the two nations can have a good relationship. Putin, 65, who is in power since 1999, was re-elected as Russia’s president in the March election with 76.7 per cent of the vote.
“The president congratulates him and looks forward to a time when we can hopefully have a good relationship with Russia,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters at her daily news conference yesterday. “However, the United States believes that everyone has a right to be heard and assemble peacefully,” she said, referring to the arrest of protesters in Russia.
Nearly 1,600 protesters, including Putin’s most vocal opponent, Alexei Navalny, were detained on Saturday during nationwide rallies against the Russian leader. She reiterated that Democrats were using the Russia investigation as an excuse for losing the 2016 election.
“I think he thinks that the idea that this narrative continues to be driven. The fact that, a year-and-a-half later, after spending most all of your time, every single day, looking into this and still finding nothing, the fact that we’re still talking about it and has the potential to impact the 2018 election,” Sanders said.
“The point he’s making is how ridiculous it is that we’re still having this conversation and the depths to which this research has gone on and investigation has been conducted and still produced nothing,” she added.
In 2016, 2017 Indians accounted for more than 74 pc of H-1B visas: USCIS report
Washington: In 2016 technology professionals from India accounted for 74.2 per cent of the total number of H-1B visas issued by the US and the next year the figure increased to 75.6 per cent, a government report said here today. However there has been a drop in the number of new H-1B beneficiaries from India, the official report has said. China with a little over nine per cent, comes a distant second after India in terms of number of H-1B visas.
The figures for China were 9.3 and 9.4 per cent respectively for 2016 and 2017. “The number of beneficiaries from India approved for initial employment decreased by 4.1 per cent in fiscal 2017, while the number of beneficiaries approved for continuing employment increased by 12.5 per cent in fiscal 2017,” the USCIS said in its latest report titled ‘Characteristics of H-1B Specialty Occupation Workers’. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said petitions for initial employment are filed for first-time H-1B employment with an employer, only some of which are applied to the annual cap.
Examples of petitions for initial employment that are exempt from the cap include petitions submitted by nonprofit research organisations or governmental research organisations. Continuing employment petitions refer to extensions, sequential employment and concurrent employment, which are filed for foreigners already in the US. Extensions generally are filed for H-1B workers intending to work beyond the initial three-year period up to a total of 6 years, the maximum period generally permissible under law. In 2016, as many as 70,737 Indians received initial H-1B visas, which dropped to 67,815.
During the same period, Indians accounted for 185,489 visas for continuing employment, which increased to 208,608 in 2017. In all there were 256,226 Indians on H1B visas in 2016 and 276,423 in 2017. A copy of the report, sent to US lawmakers on April 10, became public this week. Dismantling several myths about H-1B, USCIS said the median salary of beneficiaries of approved petitions increased from USD 82,000 for fiscal year 2016 to USD 85,000 for fiscal 2017.
While the number of H-1B petitions filed increased 1.24 per cent from 398,718 in 2016 to 403,675 in 2017, the number of H-1B petitions approved increased 5.9 per cent from 345,262 in 2016 to 365,682 in 2017. According to the report the number of H-1B petitions approved in 2017 for workers between the ages of 25 and 34 was 66.2 per cent, the number of H-1B petitions approved in 2017 for workers with a bachelor’s degree was 45.2 per cent. In addition, 44.5 per cent of approved petitions were for workers with a master’s degree, 6.8 per cent had a doctorate, and 3.3 per cent were for workers with a professional degree.
The number of H-1B petitions approved in 2017 for workers in computer-related occupations was 69.8 per cent, it said. The number of H-1B petitions approved for workers in computer-related occupations increased by 6.6 per cent from 237,837 in 2016 to 254,592 in 2017. The number of H-1B petitions for all other occupation groups increased by 3.4 per cent from 106,418 in 2016 to 110,009 in 2017, the report said.
Rupee rebounds by 8 paise in early trade
Mumbai: The rupee strengthened by 8 paise to 66.79 against the dollar in early trade today on fresh selling of the US currency by exporters and banks amid higher opening in the domestic equity market. Forex dealers said besides selling of the American currency by exporters and banks, weakness in the dollar against some currencies overseas propped up the rupee.
Further, a higher opening in the domestic equity market influenced the rupee uptrend, they added. On Friday, the rupee had lost 23 paise to close at 66.87 against the US currency in highly volatile trade. Meanwhile, the benchmark BSE Sensex rose by 128.38 points, or 0.36 per cent, at 35,043.76 in early trade today.
US: Hawaii volcano destroys 31 homes, spews lava 200 feet in air
Pahoa: The number of homes destroyed by Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano jumped to 31 as scientists reported lava spewing more than 200 feet (61 meters) into the air. Some of the more than 1,700 people who evacuated prepared for the possibility they may not return for quite some time. Hawaii officials said the decimated homes were in the Leilani Estates subdivision, where molten rock, toxic gas and steam have been bursting through openings in the ground created by the volcano.
Officials updated the number of lost homes after an aerial survey of the subdivision. “That number could change,” Hawaii County spokeswoman Janet Snyder said. “This is heartbreaking.” Amber Makuakane, 37, a teacher and single mother of two, said her three-bedroom house in Leilani Estates was destroyed by lava. The dwelling was across from a fissure that opened Friday, when “there was some steam rising from all parts of the yard, but everything looked fine,” Makuakane said. On Saturday, she received alerts from her security system that motion sensors throughout the house had been triggered.
She later confirmed that lava had covered her property. “They don’t really understand,” she said about her children. “My son keeps asking me, ‘Mommy when are we going to go home?'” Makuakane grew up in the area and lived in her house for nine years. Her parents also live in Leilani Estates. “The volcano and the lava — it’s always been a part of my life,” she said. “It’s devastating … but I’ve come to terms with it.” Lava has spread around 387,500 square feet (36,000 square meters) surrounding the most active fissure, though the rate of movement is slow. There was no indication when the lave might stop or how far it might spread. “There’s more magma in the system to be erupted. As long as that supply is there, the eruption will continue,” US Geological Survey volcanologist Wendy Stovall said. Traditional Hawaiian beliefs say it depends on Pele, the volcano goddess who is said to reside in Kilauea.
“You have to ask Pele,” Steve Clapper said when asked whether he had any idea when he’d return to his Leilani Estates home. Clapper had to put his ailing 88-year-old mother into a car and leave shortly after hearing an ominous rumbling behind the house. He believes he saw its roof still standing in photos of the area but can’t be sure. Still, the California native was sanguine as he assessed his situation. “What can you do? You have no control over it,” Clapper said as he started his day at a nearby evacuation shelter. “Pele’s the boss, you know.”
Cherie McArthur wondered what would become of her macadamia nut farm in Lanipuna Gardens, another evacuated neighborhood near Leilani Estates. One of the year’s first harvests had been planned for this weekend. “If we lose our farm, we don’t know where we’re going to go. You lose your income and you lose your home at the same time,” said McArthur, who’s had the farm for about 20 years. “All you can do is pray and hope and try to get all the information you can.” About 240 people and 90 pets spent Saturday night at shelters, the American Red Cross said.