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Putin’s ex-bodyguard challenges Navalny

MOSCOW (AP): In an extraordinary public outburst, President Vladimir Putin’s former bodyguard and chief of the National Guard on Tuesday challenged opposition leader Alexei Navalny to a duel.

Viktor Zolotov recorded an emotional seven-minute speech, posted on the National Guard’s YouTube channel on Tuesday, attacking Navalny for his investigation into large-scale corruption at the National Guard. Zolotov admitted “shortcomings in terms of corruption” in his governmental agency but rejected Navalny’s claim that he personally profited from the shady deals.

Navalny, Russia’s most popular opposition leader, is currently in jail serving a 30-day sentence for organizing an unsanctioned public protest. Last month he published an investigation alleging that at least $29 million had been stolen in procurement contracts for the National Guard. Navalny rose to prominence thanks to his investigations uncovering official graft and has spearheaded mass anti-government protests across Russia, rattling the Kremlin. Rallies took place on Sunday in all of Russia’s 11 time zones, and the National Guard’s riot police violently cracked down on the protests in some of the cities. The 64-year old Zolotov, who rarely makes public appearances, took to YouTube to vent his frustration with the opposition leader.

 

 

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Harare declares cholera emergency

HARARE (Reuters): Zimbabwe declared a cholera outbreak in the capital Harare after 20 died from the disease and more than 2,000 people were infected after drinking contaminated water, new Health Minister Obadiah Moyo said on Tuesday.

Harare city council has struggled to supply water to some suburbs for more than a decade, forcing residents to rely on water from open wells and community boreholes. The latest cholera outbreak came after burst sewers in Budiriro and Glenview suburbs contaminated water in boreholes and open wells, which are used by residents, said Moyo, who was flanked by Harare’s new mayor and other health officials. “We are declaring an emergency for Harare. This will enable us to contain cholera, typhoid and whatever is going on. We don’t want any further deaths,” Moyo said after touring a hospital treating patients in the capital. The health minister said the selling of meat and fish by vendors in the affected suburbs had been banned and the police had been asked to enforce the ban.

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Philippine leader vents anger

MANILA (AP): The Philippine president has vented his anger toward his fiercest political critic on a TV talk show, prompting opposition calls for him to focus instead on worsening inflation, rice shortages and an approaching powerful typhoon.

President Rodrigo Duterte attempted to explain on Tuesday the legal offensive he has launched against opposition Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV. He linked Trillanes’ political group to an alleged plot to oust him, and said he has ordered the release of intelligence provided by a foreign government about the alleged plan. Opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros responded that Duterte “should snap out of his fantasy with destabilization plots, roll up his sleeves and start working.”

 

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Ethiopia, Eritrea reopen border

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters): The leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea re-opened crossing points on their shared border for the first time in 20 years on Tuesday, cementing a stunning reconciliation and giving Addis Ababa a direct route to its former foe’s Red Sea ports.

Thousands of people from both countries watched one ceremony in Zalambessa, an Ethiopian border town that was reduced to rubble soon after hostilities between the neighbors broke out in 1998. Soldiers and civilians waving Ethiopian and Eritrean flags lined the road as Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki opened the frontier in a ceremony broadcast live on Ethiopian state TV.

“This is the happiest day of my life,” Ruta Haddis, an Eritrean from the town of Senafe just across the frontier, told reporters. “I never thought this would take place in my lifetime.” The war over their border and other issues killed an estimated 80,000 people before fighting ended in 2000 in a contested peace deal.

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UK needs bonking Boris

Jon Gaunt

This confected row about Boris Johnson’s use of a metaphor of a suicide vest to sum up Theresa May’s capitulation to the EU is an absolute load of nonsense. Boris is 100 percent correct to say that “We have wrapped a suicide vest around the British constitution and handed the detonator to Michel Barnier.”

The reaction from the assorted no marks and fellow traitors in the Tory party led by Sir Alan Duncan (how the hell did he get knighted?) who is threatening to end Boris’s political career is just another strand of the Get Boris Betray Britain Campaign. The allegations that Number 10 released a dossier on Boris’ peccadillos is alarming and the reaction of a Leader in a tailspin. However, to be honest I don’t care whether or nor Boris can keep it in his trousers as long as he gets us out or withdraws us from the EU, do you?

In short, I would rather have a bonking Boris is Number Ten than a bonkers PM who is completely delusional like Theresa May.

I ran a little poll on my Twitter and Facebook asking who people would prefer as leader and although I accept that Social Media can be an echo chamber the results were pretty damming for Theresa May. On Twitter I had over 6 thousand votes and it was 90 percent in favour of Boris and on Facebook I had over 5 thousand votes with 97 percent wanting Boris. It looks to me as if Theresa may is toast.

Another strand of the Get Boris, Betray Britain Campaign was the “leaked” document that says top Cops are planning for civil disobedience and riots and may even need to deploy troops on the streets if there is a no deal on Brexit!

Sajid Javid say there is no need for the public to be alarmed and perhaps that is so but in his position as Home Secretary he should be alarmed because the real threat isn’t if there is a no deal but rather the real threat is if the British People are betrayed by Theresa May and her Establishment cronies.

The appearance of Javid on Andrew Marr and this leaked document on riots is all part of Operation Fear 2. They talk about riots happening because of traffic jams at Dover, shortage of food, labour and even medicine and it is all poppycock. However, they are correct to fear that people are getting angry because they are. However, what the people are really angry about is the fact that we have had to wait two bloody years from this half-baked exit to get anywhere.

And it is not just the people getting angry evidently up to 80 Tory M.P.s are planning to vote against Theresa May’s Chequers plan.  Former Brexit Minister, Steve Baker is warning that Theresa the Appeaser risks a catastrophic split in her Party if she persists with the Chequers con trick on Brexit. It is also abundantly clear that the Tory grassroots, just like the rest of the Country, are dead set against this ludicrous plan.

This is why Boris was correct to use the suicide belt analogy and he is right today to move on and start to talk about the UK employing Donald Trump-style tax cuts in a bid to catch up with the economic growth being enjoyed in the States.

Bonking Boris believes income tax, stamp duty and capital gains tax should all be slashed which is attractive to me and millions of voters and not just traditional Tories. The MSM are talking about a civil war in the Tory party but they are wrong. There is just a tiff in number ten and in the cabinet but whether Theresa and “Sir” Alan like it or not Boris is by far the Party’s favourite to lead the Party.

A dream team of him, Jacob Rees Mogg as Chancellor, David Davies back in charge of Brexit with Nigel Farage (why hasn he been knighted when Little Alan has?) as a special advisor to the EU negotiations and as an USA envoy would be a killer combination which would not only ensure we get the Brexit we voted for but also would put some pride back in to the UK.

I have had enough of the remoaners in the Commons and Lords, in the Police, Big Business, and in particular that bloody Canadian in the Bank of England talking down our great country. I believe we will flourish as an independent sovereign nation and so do 17.4 million others who voted for it and who will be very angry if it is not delivered.

This is where the real threat of violence and riots comes from when the elite do not or refuse to see the writing on the wall. I thought the referendum would give them a metaphorical bloody nose and that they would at last respect the will of the people but no they have dithered, delayed and in the case of May lied to stop us having the Brexit we wanted.

Can they not see the rise of populism that voted in Trump into Office in the USA, that elected hardliners on immigration in Italy and now with the Swedish election results giving the controlling power to the Swedish Democrats?

They half see all of this, but then they immediately talk about the rise of the Far Right. Hoping that this repeated rhetoric will put most people off voting for these groups but I am afraid to tell these deluded fools that the complete opposite is true. At their core people are nationalists not globalists and they have immense pride in their own country whether they be American, British, Italian or Swedish and the political elite ignore this at their peril.

Let’s also put into the mix the news that Gerard Batten is putting forward a proposal that the Rules of UKIP should be changed to allow Tommy Robinson to become a member of the Party and this should really alarm these fools. UKIP under Batten have risen in the polls and have now eclipsed the Lib Dems (no wonder with that other old Sir in charge) and with Tommy on the platform I am convinced they would break the magical 10 percent level and be in a position, as they were with Cameron, to force the Conservatives hand on certain issues.

For the record I do not believe that Tommy Robinson is a racist, I am on the record as saying he was wrong to act in contempt of court but his imprisonment was undoubtedly a political sentence. Many people share his views on both unlimited and unfettered immigration and on the Pakistani rape gangs and I would suggest that a very large majority of the general public of all political persuasions hold the same views. This does not make them racist, this makes them realists in my opinion.

These people, as Neil Anderson from Migration watch said on my Sputnik radio show on Friday, are angry as they know that they, “the British public have consistently said over the last 20 years they don’t want mass immigration,” but the Politicians ignored them. Neil is also bang on the money to warn that, “If our democracy is to survive then our elected officials need to respond to the will of the people and the will of the people has been clear for a very long-time migration levels are too high and they need to come down.”

This present crisis over Brexit is a crisis of the Elites own making, just as the immigration crisis is too. I would even go further and say the both the murder epidemic that is sweeping the nation and indeed the Pakistani rape gangs are also products of our political class’s failure to grab the nettle of difficult issues preferring instead to shout down everyone else who does dare to question this nonsense as a bigot or a racist. They have effectively shut down dissent and free speech on subjects such as mass rape, immigration, cultural savagery such as FGM and Halal and even terrorism where we are instructed to not look back in anger and light candles whilst singing Kumbaya.

The net result of this establishment cowardice will be riots on the street, so the police (what’s left of them after Theresa May’s cuts) are right to prepare for riots and civil unrest but it won’t be because we are short of wine, bread, BMW’s or even medicine it will be because we are short of real British Political leadership. That is why the time for posturing is over. Boris you need to strike hard and strike now. Force Theresa out of office. Your country needs you and demands that you act before we lose our country for ever.

 

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Engaging IMF

The government has decided to engage the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as an internal working suggests that benefits of getting its bail out package outweighs the cost Islamabad may have to pay, including some compromises on economic sovereignty. After an in-house analysis, spanning over two weeks, authorities have decided to invite IMF staff-level team. Sources in the finance ministry revealed that the Finance Minister Asad Umar has contacted IMF Director for Middle East and Central Asia Jihad Azour.

The staff-level team of IMF wills visits Pakistan at the end of this month. However, the finance minister still argues that staff-level team visit of this multilateral donor agency should not be linked with any kind of formal programme talks. He said in case Pakistan plans on getting the IMF programme in future, the upcoming engagement would save time that is required for exchange and validation of macro economic numbers. The minister underscored that IMF staff-level visit did not mean that Pakistan has decided to avail a fund programme. IMF, s Resident Representative to Pakistan Teresa Daban said, “The conversation is happening all the time on routine basis at different levels.” She said such contacts are normal between the IMF and its member countries.

The decision to request the IMF to send a staff-level delegation is rooted in an in-depth assessment of Pakistan’s gross external financing needs for the fiscal year 2018-19. The assessment envisages costs and benefits of availing an IMF programme. The joint assessment was made by the State Bank of Pakistan and Ministry of Finance. It showed the external debt repayments of 11.7 billion dollars. Gross external financing requirements have been estimated at $ 31 billion. This evaluation is based on the assumption that current account deficit will touch $ 18.5 billion. Against these payment obligations the available financing is only $ 20 billion, which is inclusive of 13.2 billion projected borrowings and roll over of short term debt of $ 2.8 billion, still leaving the gap of $ 11 billion.

The cost of not availing the IMF programme will be higher pricing of international borrowings and credibility of economic reforms will be low. Pakistan can avoid surge in short term debt by availing long term IMF lending. It could immediately avert the balance of payment crisis. This will also open cheap financing lines from the World Bank and Asian development Bank. The programme will increase the country’s credibility in the eyes of international creditors.

It is now generally recognized that the government faces a herculean task of external obligations. However, what is less widely understood is that the structural factors underlying the massive current account deficit and rapidly growing debt repayments have made the present crisis deeper and more protracted in nature. In the short term the external financing gap presents a more formidable challenge with more immediate requirements are likely to be $ 28 billion for the current fiscal year. And fiscally irresponsible budget for 2018-19 approved by the PML-N government at the tail end of its tenure is expected to worsen both the external and domestic macroeconomic imbalances, which were worse in last fiscal year and previous government ignored the World Bank and IMF warning in September 2017 to effectively address them. Rather the sane and timely advice of international donors was rejected with ridicule with shallow verbosity by the pseudo-economist the Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal. Bringing mini budgets as corrective measures for increasing revenue from domestic sources will be more daunting economically and risky politically. It is because of expected public anger that gas tariff increase of 46 percent was deferred for the time being.

The IMF programme has become unavoidable because no amount of external flows from friendly countries and investment bonds taken by overseas Pakistanis will suffice to meet the financing requirements of $ 75 billion over the three years. The die was cast sometimes ago and while soft loans have been provided by China, dithering and procrastination in starting meaningful discussion with the IMF will weaken our negotiation position with each passing day. This time it will be difficult to find an escape route from the tough conditions of bringing back the skipped out active taxpayer into the tax net, non- utilization of the available data of potential tax payers, imposition of agriculture income tax and offloading the burden of huge losses incurring public sector corporation, which devour Rs. 1100 billion taxpayers money.

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Begum Kulsoom Nawaz dies in London

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Kulsoom Nawaz, the wife of deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif passed away in London on Tuesday.

Hasan Nawaz son of Nawaz Sharif and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif confirmed the death of Kulsoom Nawaz.

The former first lady was rushed to Harley Street Clinic late Monday after her health deteriorated.

Last year in August, Begum Kulsoom traveled to London, where she was diagnosed with Lymphoma, prompting Sharif family members to get her admitted in the upscale health facility.

The former first lady, who contested elections from NA-120 Lahore last year, was shifted to the intensive care unit at a UK hospital from the emergency unit after her condition deteriorated ahead of Eid ul Fitr.

Currently, she was admitted to the Harley Street Clinic in London after she suffered a cardiac arrest; she could not regain consciousness for an extended period of time despite being under strict surveillance.

Many political leaders including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan had responded to a request made by Maryam Nawaz, leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), for prayers.

Born into a Kashmiri family in Lahore in 1950, Kulsoom Nawaz attended Islamia College and Forman Christian College University for her graduation. She was married to Nawaz Sharif, with whom she has four children: Maryam, Asma, Hassan and Hussain.

Kulsoom also served as the President of Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) after military dictator put Nawaz in exile by a bloodless coup but generally she preferred to avoid media limelight.

She also won the NA-120 by-polls in September last year after overpowering PTI’s Yasin Rashid though she was not able to practically take part in the election campaign for the seat vacated by her husband.

Kulsoom was not able to take oath as a parliamentarian owing to her illness. She was closest to former premier Nawaz Sharif in terms of relation but was not dragged into the Panama Papers controversy that led to the disqualification of her husband.

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CM Murad vows to control street crimes in Karachi

F.P. Report

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has vowed to control the street crime just like terrorism was eliminated in the provincial capital of Sindh.

He said this while speaking to the media on the occasion of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s 70th death anniversary on Tuesday at Karachi. CM said that incidents of street crime have increased in Karachi in the last few months but we are working towards a policy to eradicate crime in the city.

Further, the Sindh chief minister clarified that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had proposed the construction of Diamer-Bhasha Dam and they do not have any issue with it.

When asked about the Baldia Town factory fire case that has yet to reach a conclusion, Shah said there is still development taking place in the case.

Moreover, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail who was also present at Quaid’s mausoleum to pay respects said, there are 5000 dams in China, 2000 in India whereas Pakistan has just 154 dams.

 

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Contempt case: SC to indict Aamir Liaquat on Sept 27

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court f Pakistan on Tuesday has rejected the apology of PTI’s Aamir Liaquat and announced that anchorperson and MNA will be indicted in a contempt of court case on September 27.

According to details, The apex court had last month slapped contempt of court charge against Hussain while taking up petitions filed by anchorperson Shahzeb Khanzada, Independent Media Corporation (Pvt) Ltd, Mir Ibrahim-ur-Rehman and Najam Aziz Sethi accusing Hussain of flouting the March 28, 2017 restraining order in which he was cautioned to desist from defamatory campaigns and unethical manner of conducting television shows.

During today’s hearing, Videos of Aamir Liaquat programs were played in court. Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar remarked that are we here to get insulted, this is no way, committing contempt and then apologizing later.

CJP further inquired if Liaquat could remain an MNA after indictment, to which the latter’s lawyer responded in negative.

Rejecting Liaquat’s unconditional apology letter, the court fixed the indictment date for September 27.

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China vows strong reply if US imposes more tariffs

BEIJING (Agencies): China on Monday promised retaliation if U.S. President Donald Trump escalates their tariff battle, raising the risk Beijing might target operations of American companies as it runs out of imports for penalties.

The threat came after Trump said Friday he was considering extending penalties to an additional $267 billion of Chinese products in their battle over Beijing’s technology policy. That would be on top of $50bn of goods already hit by 25 per cent duties and another $200bn on which Washington is poised to raise tariffs.

“If the United States insists on imposing another round of tariffs on Chinese products, China will definitely take countermeasures to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.

Geng gave no details, but the government said in June it would impose unspecified “comprehensive measures” if necessary. That left American companies on edge about whether Beijing might use its control over the heavily regulated economy to disrupt their operations by withholding licenses or launching tax, anti-monopoly or other investigations.

China matched Washington’s first round of tariff hikes on $50bn of its goods, but their lopsided trade balance means Beijing is running out of imports for retaliation. The United States imported $3 of Chinese goods last year for every $1 of American goods bought by China.

Chinese leaders agreed in May to narrow that trade gap by purchasing more American soybeans and other products. But they reject Trump’s demand to roll back official industry plans such as “Made in China 2025,” which calls for state-led creation of global champions in robotics, artificial intelligence and other technologies.

Washington, Europe and other trading partners argue those plans violate Beijing’s market-opening pledges. American officials worry they might erode US industrial dominance. But Communist leaders see them as China’s path to prosperity and global influence.

China’s exports to the United States have been unexpectedly resilient, rising by double digits in July and August despite the US tariff hikes. That might add to Washington’s frustration and prompt more import controls.

Exports to the United States in August rose 13.4pc to $44.4bn, ticking up from July’s 13.3pc growth. Chinese imports of US goods rose 11.1pc to $13.3bn. China’s trade surplus with the United States widened to a record $31bn.

Beijing matched Washington’s first round of tariffs on $50bn of goods. But after Trump’s threat to target another $200bn of goods in a second round of increases, China issued a list of only $60bn of American products for possible retaliation.

China’s imports from the United States last year totaled $153.9bn. After the earlier tariffs targeting $50bn of US goods, that leaves barely $100bn for retaliation, or half of Trump’s $200bn list of goods for the second round of tariffs.