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‘Remember lockdown might have ended but Covid-19 still persists’: PM cautions nation ahead of festive season


‘Many people have become reckless, you are putting the lives of your family and loved ones at grave risk,’ he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi amid the spread of coronavirus cases and with the festive seasons arrived, has addressed the nation.

“In this festive season, markets are bright again but we need to remember that the lockdown might have ended but Covid-19  still persists. With efforts of every Indian over last 7-8 months, India is in a stable situation we must not let it deteriorate,” PM Modi said.

“Many people have become reckless, you are putting the lives of your family and loved ones at grave risk. Because of the festive season people are going out in large numbers, crowding public places,” he added.

With the relaxations coming post lockdown, PM Modi pointed out that, “Recently, we saw many photos & videos where it is clearly seen that people are not careful anymore. This isn’t right. If you step out without mask, you put your families at risk. We must remember – whether it is America or Europe, cases declined & then there was sudden spike.”

Appreciating the work done by the country to contain the spread of virus, PM Modi said 90 lakh beds, 12000 testing centres and 2000 labs are in action to tackle Covid.

“India will soon cross 10 crore tests which is a very big achievement in our fight against the pandemic. Our covid warriors including doctors, nurses and health workers have served our massive population with great competence,” he added.

“India will soon cross 10 crore tests which is a very big achievement in our fight against the pandemic. Our covid warriors including doctors, nurses and health workers have served our massive population with great competence,” he added.

“Our recovery rate is among the highest in the world. Out of every million, we have around 83 deaths. This, compared to other nations, which see around 600 deaths per million, is much better,” PM said.

Cautioning the nation PM said, “In Europe, America and other countries, the number of cases have seen a hike yet again after seeing a reduction. We should continue to be careful and not be callous until the vaccine of the virus is created.”

“For the first time in many decades the whole world is united on a war footing to fight the corona pandemic.”

“Since the janata curfew we have come a long – many people have gone back to work but the danger of coronavirus is not over yet.”

“The death rate per million population In India is 83 whereas in countries such as US, UK and Brazil the number is over 600. India has been successful in saving lives of its citizens better than developed nations,” PM said.

This was the 7th address of the Prime Minister since the lockdown.




Amid India-China stand-off, Quad members sending their warships for Malabar Exercise next month


New Delhi and Washington are also stepping up efforts to conclude the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) ahead of the Indo-US 2+2 ministerial meeting on October 26-27.

A strong message could be anticipated for China amid the Ladakh tension from India as the Quadrilateral grouping of US, Japan, India and Australia are sending their warships for the Malabar Exercise next month.

Quadrilateral grouping, which experts say is to be mirroring NATO, has already been criticized by China many times.

Another major development in direction of strengthening the ties, New Delhi and Washington are also stepping up efforts to conclude the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) ahead of the Indo-US 2+2 ministerial meeting on October 26-27.

Once operational, BECA will allow India to use US geospatial intelligence and enhance accuracy of automated systems and weapons like missiles and armed drones.

On US President Donald Trump’s visit to India in February, Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called for the early conclusion of BECA.

Yesterday, India announced that Australia will be part of the Malabar Exercise in November, making it the first military exercise between all countries of the Quadrilateral grouping.

Malabar had been a trilateral exercise involving the navies of US, India and Japan. With the participation of Australia, the exercise will be a joint one for the Quad group.

Malabar exercise includes simulated war games and combat manoeuvres.

The last Malabar exercise was held in September off the coast of Japan, and included complex maritime operations in the surface, sub-surface and air domains, with focus on anti-submarine warfare, anti-air and anti-surface firings, maritime interdiction operations (MIO) including Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS) and tactical scenario-based exercises at sea.




Durga Puja organisers to urge Calcutta High Court to review its ‘no-entry zones’ order today


As per the reports, the organisers will approach the court as part of the Forum for Durgotsav, an umbrella body of Durga Puja organisers.

A day after the Calcutta High Court’s decision on the pandals “no-entry zones” for visitors, the 400 top Durga Puja organisers in Kolkata will ask the Calcutta High Court today to review its order.

As per the reports, the organisers will approach the court as part of the Forum for Durgotsav, an umbrella body of Durga Puja organisers.

The state’s mega-festival is left with just two days to go.

The Calcutta High Court on Monday had said that Durga Puja pandals would be no-entry zones for visitors.

The court’s reaction comes while hearing a PIL on the attendees at the pandal and it said that only organisers will be allowed inside the pandals, 25 in big pandals and 15 in the smaller ones, amid the fears of rising coronavirus cases in West Bengal.

The HC has directed puja committees that all pandals will have to erect barricades at the entrance of the pandals and the distance is five meters for small pandals and 10 meters for big pandals. A list of the organisers has to be put up outside the pandal and they are the only ones allowed to enter.

The court has asked puja committees to submit a plan on crowd management as the court said there are not enough policemen in Kolkata to manage the crowds in 3000 plus puja pandals in the city.

The High Court had ordered organisers to spend 75 per cent of the Rs 50,000 grant given by the Mamata Banerjee government on Covid-19 precautions like sanitises and masks and the rest on public awareness, a few days back.

The Division Bench had asked the state counsel that though it is proud of Durga puja but can funds be disbursed in this manner. “Can such differences be made in a democratic system?” it further asked.

The court pointed out that the reason for such funds was enunciated as aiding committees to buy masks and sanitisers, however, it observed, the state could have purchased it which would have cost lesser.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee last month had announced a grant of Rs 50,000 to each Durga Pujo committee in the state.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been a tough time for all of us. We have decided to provide Rs 50,000 grant to each Durga Puja committee of the state. We have also decided that CESC and the state electricity board will give 50 percent waiver for the puja committees,” she had said addressing the Durga Puja Coordination meeting in Kolkata’s Netaji Indoor Stadium.




Lawsuit filed against US Department of Labor challenging its recent H-1B visa rule


‘The regulation has caused immediate and unnecessary harm in every corner of the economy, including academic institutions, non-profits, hospitals, start-ups and small businesses.’

Seventeen individuals and organisations, including universities and businesses, have filed a lawsuit against the US Department of Labor challenging its recent Interim Final Rule on wages related to H-1B visas.

The lawsuit filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday alleged that the poorly-drafted and improperly-issued rule did not comply with the procedural rules for rule-making and is substantively arbitrary, incorrect and irrational.

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. It is most sought-after among Indian IT professionals.

“The increase to the prevailing wages will manifestly not benefit US economic growth or any workers; study after study has shown that H-1B visa holders create American jobs,” Jesse Bless, director of federal litigation at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), claimed.

The regulation, he said, has caused immediate and unnecessary harm in every corner of the economy, including academic institutions, non-profits, hospitals, start-ups and small businesses.

“Frankly, the last thing we need during a (COVID-19) pandemic and economic turmoil is a rule based on a false and incorrect understanding of the market and American workforce. This will impede our economic recovery, not enhance it,” Bless said.

Early this month, the Department of Labor published a rule to appropriately identify wage levels for H-1B holders and other foreign labour programmes, which according to the White House will improve the quality of H-1B workers and better reflect wages paid to similarly employed workers in the US.

The rule will limit an employer’s ability to replace workers with cheap foreign labour and help ensure wages are not suppressed by the presence of low-cost foreign workers, the White House argued.

Among those who have filed the lawsuit are Purdue University, University of Michigan, University of Denver, Chapman University, Bard College, International Institute of New England, Information Technology Industry Council, Arizona State University, Scripps College, Northern Arizona University, Indiana University, Study Mississippi, Dentists for America, Physicians for American Healthcare and Hodges Bonded Warehouse.

Jeff Joseph, Senior Partner of Joseph and Hall, in a statement alleged that dealing with the Department of Labor often feels like “The Hunger Games”.

“Everyone is required to play the game, but no one knows the rules and the rules are constantly changing. This is not a game. The fact that the rule was made effective without thinking about the destructive impact it would have on industries and the economy illustrates how out of touch this administration is regarding the symbiotic relationship between legal immigration and the economy,” he said.

The days when the federal government blatantly ignores the law in its rule-making are over, said Charles Kuck, managing partner of Kuck Baxter Immigration.

US universities, employers, and healthcare systems can no longer stand by and watch while the US immigration system is dismantled by a nativist administration and in contravention of federal law, he said.

Aside from the blatantly unlawful way, the Department of Labor dropped this rule on the economy, its basic premise is also wholly incorrect, alleged Greg Siskind, founding partner of Siskind Susser.

“The workers impacted are in occupations with extraordinarily low unemployment. And as we show in the complaint, these outstanding immigrants are doing critical work benefiting everyday Americans, whether it is providing critical research to cure disease, making our country globally competitive, providing medical and dental care to rural Americans, or caring for our country’s senior citizens,” he said.




Donald Trump went after scientist Anthony Fauci, key member of Covid task force; says tired of these ‘idiots’


“People are saying, ‘Whatever — just leave us alone.’ They’re tired of it. People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots,” the president said, according to several US media outlets.

US President Donald Trump went after top government scientist Anthony Fauci in a call with campaign staffers on Monday, suggesting the hugely respected and popular doctor was an “idiot.”

Fauci, a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, has increasingly become a focus for the president’s frustration as he bids to shape the messaging on the much-criticized federal response to the pandemic.

“People are tired of Covid,” Trump told his campaign team in a call on which several members of the press were present.

“People are saying, ‘Whatever — just leave us alone.’ They’re tired of it. People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots,” the president said, according to several US media outlets.

The pandemic has killed almost 220,000 people in the United States.

“He’s been here for, like, 500 years,” Trump complained of the 79-year-old Fauci, who is recognized worldwide for his work directing the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases in suburban Washington.

“Fauci, if we listened to him, we’d have 700,000 (or) 800,000 deaths,” Trump claimed on the call, before saying that it would be counterproductive to fire him before the presidential election November 3.

The president’s latest attack seemed to garner a defense of the doctor from Republican Senator Lamar Alexander.

“Dr. Fauci is one of our country’s most distinguished public servants. He has served 6 presidents, starting with Ronald Reagan,” Alexander tweeted.

“If more Americans paid attention to his advice, we’d have fewer cases of COVID-19, & it would be safer to go back to school & back to work & out to eat.”

Trump’s remarks came a week after Fauci expressed displeasure at the use of a clip of him in a Trump campaign video about the coronavirus.

“In my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate,” the immunologist hit back, saying his statements in the video were taken out of context.

At various points during the pandemic response, Fauci has clarified or corrected Trump’s public comments on the development of Covid-19 treatments and vaccines.

The tone between them has sometimes turned tense, as in April when Trump retweeted a post that contained the hashtag #FireFauci — before reassuring the American people that “Tony” was doing a great job.




Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi holds Haj 2021 review meeting, says health, well-being of pilgrims of utmost priority


Naqvi said that the Haj Committee of India and other Indian agencies will formally announce the Haj 2021 application process and other related preparations after a decision is taken by the Saudi Arabia Government on Haj 2021.

Union Minister of Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi today said here that Haj 2021 will depend on national-international Protocol Guidelines due to Pandemic Position.

While chairing Haj 2021 review meeting in New Delhi, Naqvi said that Haj 2021 is scheduled for June-July 2021, but the final decision regarding Haj 2021 will be taken in due course keeping in view necessary guidelines to be issued by the Saudi Arabia Government and the Government of India in view of Corona Pandemic to ensure health and well-being of the people.

Naqvi said that the Haj Committee of India and other Indian agencies will formally announce the Haj 2021 application process and other related preparations after a decision is taken by the Saudi Arabia Government on Haj 2021.

Naqvi said that the entire Haj process might witness a significant change in view of necessary guidelines. These include accommodation, transport, health and other facilities both in India and Saudi Arabia.

Naqvi said that the health and well-being of the pilgrims are of the utmost priority for the Government due to Corona pandemic. The Indian agencies will ensure necessary arrangements in this regard. The Government of India and the Haj Committee have started necessary preparations to ensure the health and well-being of the pilgrims.

Secretary, Minority Affairs Ministry PK Das and other senior officials of the Ministry; Joint Secretary, External Affairs Vipul; Joint Secretary Civil Aviation Ministry SK Mishra attended the review meeting.

Besides, Dr Ausaf Sayeed, Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia; Y Sabir, Acting Consul General in Jeddah; MA Khan, CEO Haj Committee of India and other officials from Health Ministry, Air India etc. attended the meeting through video conferencing.




Hyderabad flooded by overnight rain; Balanagar Lake breaches its boundaries


In the videos, vehicles were seen being swept away as streets got submerged in water. The massive downpour caused huge damage in the state capital and nearby areas.

The city of Hyderabad has been flooded with overnight rain that comes days after the deadly downpour which had left at least 50 people dead and caused damage worth thousands of crores in Telangana.

Last night, the Balanagar Lake in Hyderabad had breached its boundaries, causing huge flash floods in nearby areas.

In the videos, vehicles were seen being swept away as streets got submerged in water. The massive downpour caused huge damage in the state capital and nearby areas.

“Due to the rains old Kurnool road towards airport from pvnr expressway is having waterflow over road. All public going towards airport/Bangalore or coming from airport/Bangalore to city are advised to use outer ring road,” Prakash Reddy, DCP Shamshabad, informed in a tweet.

“The Disaster Response Force (DRF) personnel of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) were continuously working on the field clearing water stagnations and inundations and all possible measures were being initiated in view of the rainfall,” Vishwajit Kampati, Director, Vigilance and Disaster Management of GHMC, said in a tweet.

As reported by NDTC, the weather office in Hyderabad said light to moderate rain or thundershowers are very likely to occur in some parts of the city on Sunday; while one or two places may see intense spells.

Last week, the usually tame Musi river was in spate and flowed over the bridges and the Hussainsagar Lake overflowed the embankments and turned the streets into streams with cars, lorries, container vehicles and even people swept away in the gushing water.

Andhra Pradesh too experienced heavy rain which claimed ten lives in the state and caused extensive damage to crops, roads and uprooted electricity poles.

Areas like Begumpet and Somajiguda which are in the very heart of the city were completely flooded. Video footage showed water gushing out at Yashoda Hospital, Somajiguda, which is a key private hospital for treating Covid -19 patients.




Coronavirus remains active on human skin for nine hours, longer than pathogen that causes flu: Study



The pathogen that causes the flu survives on human skin for about 1.8 hours by comparison, said the study published this month in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal.

The coronavirus remains active on human skin for nine hours, Japanese researchers have found, in a discovery they said showed the need for frequent hand washing to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pathogen that causes the flu survives on human skin for about 1.8 hours by comparison, said the study published this month in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal.

“The nine-hour survival of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus strain that causes Covid-19) on human skin may increase the risk of contact transmission in comparison with IAV (influenza A virus), thus accelerating the pandemic,” it said.

The research team tested skin collected from autopsy specimens, about one day after death.

Both the coronavirus and the flu virus are inactivated within 15 seconds by applying ethanol, which is used in hand sanitisers.

“The longer survival of SARS-CoV-2 on the skin increases contact-transmission risk; however, hand hygiene can reduce this risk,” the study said.

The study backs World Health Organization guidance for regular and thorough hand washing to limit transmission of the virus, which has infected nearly 40 million people around the world since it first emerged in China late last year.

 




Temple priest in UP hired professional shooter, orchestrated attack on himself to frame political rival


The police said that seven people, including the chief monk of the temple and a village head, have been arrested over the attack on the priest who too will be arrested once he is released from the hospital.

The police on Saturday said that a temple priest and others in Uttar Pradesh’s Gonda district has been busted. The priest allegedly hired a professional shooter and orchestrated an attack on himself to frame a political rival.

The police said that seven people, including the chief monk of the temple and a village head, have been arrested over the attack on the priest who too will be arrested once he is released from the hospital.

The priest Atul Tripathi alias Samrat Das, who was injured in the attack last week is currently at the King George’s Medical College Hospital in Lucknow, the police told.

The incident had sparked a huge row and saints from Ayodhya camped in the district and demanded prompt action against those responsible.

District Magistrate Nitin Bansal and Superintendent of Police Shailesh Kumar Pandey, in a joint press conference, said that Das was injured when he was shot at on the night of October 10 in Shri Ram Janki Temple in the village.

A case of murder attempt was filed by Mahant Sitaramdas of the temple against a former village head Amar Singh and his associates, two of whom were arrested the next day.

The police had constituted five teams were constituted for solving the case and based on electronic evidence, statements of witnesses and other inputs, seven accused were arrested on Friday and efforts were on to catch one other person who is still on the run, the district police chief said.




2.2 million ads on Facebook, Instagram rejected for attempting to ‘obstruct voting’ in US elections


Facebook has been increasing its efforts to avoid a repeat of events leading up to the 2016 US presidential election, won by Donald Trump, when its network was used for attempts at voter manipulation, carried out from Russia.

A total of 2.2 million ads on Facebook and Instagram have been rejected and 120,000 posts withdrawn for attempting to “obstruct voting” in the upcoming US presidential election, Facebook’s vice president Nick Clegg said in an interview published Sunday.

In addition, warnings were posted on 150 million examples of false information posted online, the former British deputy prime minister told the French weekly Journal du Dimanche.

Facebook has been increasing its efforts to avoid a repeat of events leading up to the 2016 US presidential election, won by Donald Trump, when its network was used for attempts at voter manipulation, carried out from Russia.

There were similar problems ahead of Britain’s 2016 referendum on leaving the European Union.

“Thirty-five thousand employees take care of the security of our platforms and contribute for elections,” said Clegg, who is vice president of global affairs and communications at Facebook.

“We have established partnerships with 70 specialised media, including five in France, on the verification of information”, he added.

AFP is one of those partners.

Clegg added that the company also uses artificial intelligence which has “made it possible to delete billions of posts and fake accounts, even before they are reported by users”.

Facebook also stores all advertisements and information on their funding and provenance for seven years “to insure transparency,” he said.

In 2016, while he was still deputy prime minister, Clegg complained to the Journal du Dimanche that Facebook had not identified or suppressed a single foreign network interfering in the US election.

On Wednesday President Trump rebuked Facebook and Twitter for blocking links to a New York Post article purporting to expose corrupt dealings by election rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter in Ukraine.

A day earlier Facebook announced a ban on ads that discourage people from getting vaccinated, in light of the coronavirus pandemic which the social media giant said has “highlighted the importance of preventive health behaviors.”





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