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Anushka unveils her wax statue at Madame Tussauds

Monitoring Desk

MUMBAI: Fact that Anushka Sharma’s career is at a high right now is known by all. With films like Sui Dhaaga: Made In India, Pari to her credit, Anushka is surely one of the best bets we have in Bollywood today. As she receives praises from all quarters, the actress today unveiled her wax figure at Madame Tussauds Singapore. What comes as a surprise is the fact that this is the first ever interactive wax statue that will impress the visitors at the museum.

Anushka’s statue can be seen holding a phone, personally inviting visitors to click a selfie with her that can be digitally shared with everyone.  Unveiling the statue, Anushka looked stunning in her all-black attire. Anushka’s statue can be seen donning a shimmer grey one-shoulder gown making her look simply stunning.

Soon after she saw the statue, excited Anushka said, “It is so real. It is almost creepy.”. Here’s a video of the actress unveiling it, looking all excited.

With her own wax statue now, Anushka has joined the league of various Bollywood stars including Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, and more.

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Imtiaz Ali and Kartik Aaryan to collaborate for ‘Love Aaj Kal-2’

Monitoring Desk

MUMBAI: After the success of his film, Love Aaj Kal (2009), looks like Imtiaz Ali is all set to make a sequel of the film. Love Aaj Kal dealt with issues that a modern-age couple faces in comparison to the older generation.

The film starred Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone, Rishi Kapoor and Giselli Monteiro. What’s exciting is that reportedly the director has signed Kartik Aaryan for the lead role in the sequel of the same. Yes, since a long time there have been rumours that Kartik and Imtiaz Ali may collaborate for a project and looks like it’s time for it to happen now.

Ever since the success of Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, Kartik Aaryan has been flying high. The actor known for his roles in hit rom-com films will be perfect for Imtiaz Ali’s next. Imtiaz is known for his quirky romances and Kartik too is great in the genre, if these reports turn out to be true, it would be exciting to watch them come together for a project.

Reports also suggest that Imtiaz might cast Sara Ali Khan opposite Kartik Aaryan for the film, who is all set to make her debut on big screen with Kedarnath. Not only did Sara’s father, Saif Ali Khan starred in the first installment, the newbie has also gushed about her love and fondness for Kartik on Karan Johar’s popular show Koffee With Karan on national television.

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Dabang Khan suffers injury during ‘Bharat’ shooting

Monitoring Desk

MUMBAI: Bollywood Dabang star Salman Khan, who was in Punjab for shooting one of his most ambitious venture Bharat, has reportedly flown back to Mumbai   after apparently suffering from an injury.

The actor reportedly hurt himself while shooting for one of the scenes from his upcoming venture and decided to go back to Mumbai for treatment. The details of the Superstar’s injury are not known as yet.

The Dabang star Salman Khan entangled himself into trouble recently during the shooting of the film Bharat, first for the political controversy that ensued over the use of the Pakistan national flag during the shoot of the film in Ludhiana, but also of a physical injury caused to the actor.

It is learnt that the actor was working out in the gymnasium at the shoot when he hurt himself pretty badly.

Ali Abbas Zafar is the director of Bharat, starring Salman Khan, Tabu, Nora Fatehi and Disha Patani. It is slated to release in the summer of 2019 during Eid.

Salman Khan usually avoids indulging in any heavy exercise and routines during his shoots, but this one seems to have hurt him bad enough.


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Bitcoin price hits new low in 2018

Monitoring Desk

NEW YORK: Within a period of 12 hours, the price of Bitcoin (BTC) has dropped from $5,560 to $5,170, to a new yearly low.

After dropping to $5,750 on June 11, BTC has defended the $6,000 support level relatively well with sufficient volume and trading activity in the exchange market. $6,000 has since become a major resistance level for the dominant cryptocurrencies.

Is Bitcoin Headed to $4,000?

Last week, Crypto Rand, a well-recognized cryptocurrency trader and analyst, stated that the next likely range for BTC is between $4,800 to $5,200, especially if BTC fails to recover swiftly from the low $5,000 region to the $6,000 resistance level.

“More Scenario still active. No bottom signals. Target on the $4,800-$5,000 range,” Rand reaffirmed his stance on the short-term trend of BTC, explaining that technical indicators of BTC are not demonstrating any sign of a bottom.

Based on the current conditions of the market, a further drop below the $5,000 mark is highly likely. When a sell-off at this magnitude occurs across every other major cryptocurrency, the volume of BTC tends to spike by 70 to 100 percent.

On November 15, when the price of BTC dropped below the $6,000 for the first time since early August, the volume of BTC surged from $4 billion to $8 billion.

However, as of November 19, the volume of BTC remains at just above $4.8 billion, suggesting that sell-pressure on the asset is still relatively high and the resistance from bulls in the market remains low.

For a brief 48-hour period last week, major cryptocurrencies and small market cap tokens engaged in independent price movements, unaffected by the short-term trend of the dominant cryptocurrency.

As BTC continues to fall to the low region of $5,000 and becomes vulnerable towards an entrance into the high $4,000 region, other major cryptocurrencies and tokens are expected to fall by substantial margins.

Within a seven-day span, the price of BTC has dropped from around $6,400 to $5,170. Based on the intensity and the magnitude of the drop, a drop below the $5,000 mark is likely, especially considering that technical indicators are showing no signs of a bottom.

Willy Woo, a Bitcoin researcher and the founder of, said that fundamental indicators of the Bitcoin blockchain show a high probability of the negative sentiment around BTC and the rest of the crypto exchange market extending until the second quarter of 2019.

“This last reading of our blockchain and macro market indicators is still in play. What has changed is that NVTS has now broken its support, typically a sell signal. All our blockchain indicators remain bearish. NVT, NVTS, MVRV, BNM, NVM. They are experimental but have served to make very correct calls to date, even when traditional on-exchange indicators were reading to the contrary.”

If BTC drops below $5,000, the probability of the negative sentiment around crypto extending until the first half of 2019 could become inevitable. (CCN)


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VW to invent $50bn in battery driven vehicles plan

WASHINGTON (Agencies): Volkswagen expects to become the most profitable manufacturer of electric cars thanks to a multi-billion euro expansion plan to mass produce battery driven vehicles, Chief Executive Herbert Diess said last week.

VW will spend almost 44 billion euros ($50bn) on developing electric cars, autonomous driving and new mobility services by 2023 and explore further areas of cooperation with U.S. automaker Ford.

Diess said he hoped to have an outline agreement on cooperation with Ford fleshed out by the end of the year, with the initial focus on commercial vehicles. He added that a merger with Ford was not on the agenda and also said there were no plans to take a stake in the American company.

Mass producing electric cars will help the carmaker reduce the cost to the same level as current diesel vehicles, Diess said at a news conference in Wolfsburg, VW’s home town .

“Very emotional vehicles, high economies of scale, I think we will be the most profitable company in electric vehicles,” Diess said, responding to a question in English.


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China to expand ban on waste imports

BEIJING (AFP): China will expand its ban on imports of solid waste, local media reported on Monday, almost a year after its first curbs caused havoc in countries that sent their rubbish to the Asian giant.

The regulatory action — which expands the prohibition to 32 categories of solid waste from the 24 banned last year — will go into effect from December 31, according to official news agency Xinhua, citing four Chinese government agencies.

Newly banned product types include hardware, ships, auto parts, stainless steel waste and scrap, titanium and wood, Xinhua said.

The initial ban caused worldwide problems as recyclers were cut off from their main market for waste material.

Globally, since 1992, 72 per cent of plastic waste has ended up in China and Hong Kong, according to a study in the journal Science Advances.

China bought up more than half of the scrap materials exported by the US last year, but that proportion has been falling with Beijing’s regulatory moves cutting down the types of waste Chinese companies could buy.

China says the policy changes are in line with a new push to protect the environment. They suggest Beijing no longer wants to be the world’s trash can, or even its recycle bin.

Equally damaging for recyclers have been more stringent policies on the quality of waste China will allow across its border.

For products such as cardboard and metal, China set a contamination level of 0.5 per cent last year; an extremely low threshold that required US and other recyclers to change technology and sorting techniques to meet the new standards.

Global plastic exports to China were forecast to fall from 7.4 million tonnes in 2016 to 1.5 million tonnes in 2018, while paper exports might tumble nearly a quarter, according to one researcher.


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UK Space Agency to provide funds for three new experiments

Monitoring Desk

LONDON: Science Minister, Sam Gyimah has announced that the UK Space Agency will fund three new experiments onboard the International Space Station

UK science will be launched into space to help improve our understanding of the ageing process and to develop new materials as part of the government’s Industrial Strategy.

The minister unveiled close to £3 million of new funding for the experiments, ahead of the 20th anniversary of the International Space Station (ISS) on Tuesday 20 November.

The first two experiments due to launch in 2021, will look at age related muscle loss.

The third experiment will look at new techniques for the production of materials and alloys in space with properties that cannot be obtained on Earth.

Science Minister Sam Gyimah said:

“This research will help those with muscle conditions to live longer, healthier, happier lives, and is a great example of our modern Industrial Strategy in action – transforming life on earth through out-of-this-world research.”

Research has revealed that while in space, astronauts can lose up to 40% of their muscle after six months.

These changes are regarded as an excellent model for the ageing process in the body, and scientists can use this knowledge to better understand the ageing process of the human body.

Dr Graham Turnock, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said:

“This new funding puts UK academics at the forefront of future pioneering scientific research, allowing us to gain knowledge that will improve life on Earth.”

The experiments

The University of Liverpool as well as the University of Nottingham, the University of Exeter and the University of Strathclyde are set to benefit from the experiments.

The University of Liverpool has been given £1.1 million to study age-related loss of muscle mass using cells grown in a laboratory.

The cells will be sent into space and will be examined for any changes once they return to earth.

The findings from this study will improve our understanding of the processes that underlie muscle loss in space and in elderly people on Earth and indicate potential therapies to prevent it.

Professor Malcolm Jackson, from the University of Liverpool, said:

“Ageing is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century and so the opportunity to use microgravity to help understand the mechanisms underlying age-related muscle loss is really exciting.”

Both the universities of Nottingham and Exeter will receive almost £450,000 to build on a study into spaceflight.

The experiment will see hundreds of microscopic worms flown to the ISS to examine how their muscles react to their new environment.

The microscopic worms, known as C. elegans, share many of the essential biological characteristics as humans and are affected by biological changes in space, including alterations to muscle and the ability to use energy.

Professor Nathaniel Szewczyk, from the University of Nottingham, said:

“We are excited to be able to carry on with testing causes of and treatments for muscle loss in space, research that may be applicable to muscle loss with disease and age on Earth.

“More importantly, this is an incredible opportunity to demonstrate, with Kayser Space, a fully UK based ability to fly space biology experiments. It will be extremely pleasing to have our international partners looking to the UK for its leadership on this project.”

The University of Strathclyde will receive almost £1.3 million to investigate how shaking a liquid in microgravity induces solid particles to accumulate and form highly ordered aggregates, instead of causing the floating particles to simply disperse.

This surprising phenomenon occurs only if the liquid is heated and shaken at the same time. These experiments will lead to advanced contactless manipulation strategies for the production of new materials and alloys.

Prof Marcello Lappa, University of Strathclyde, said: “These experiments, allowed by the microgravity conditions, the advanced facilities available on board the ISS and specific hardware manufactured in the UK, by QinetiQ, will lead to new advanced techniques and nanotechnologies for the production in space of materials with properties that cannot be obtained on Earth.”

The UK is able to support these experiments through the European Space Agency’s European Exploration Enveloped Programme, ensuring UK science benefits directly from human spaceflight.



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Khalilzad informs President Ghani about recent visits

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: U.S. special envoy for Afghan peace Dr. Zalmai Khalilzad presented the reports of his second visits to various countries of the region to President Muhammad Ashraf Ghani on Monday (November 19).

According to a presidential office press release available with Afghan Islamic Press (AIP), Dr. Zalmai Khalizad briefed President Ghani about his efforts for the restoration of peace led and owned by the Afghan people.

Khalilzad informed the president about his meeting with Taliban representatives in Qatar.

The U.S. efforts for the intra-Afghan peace negotiations would continue, he said, adding that they would play supporting role in the process of talks. The situation was favorable for the start of intra-Afghan peace talks, he added.

As an international partner, the U.S. respected the people, government and laws of Afghanistan, he said. The U.S. was ready to provide all kinds of assistance for the upcoming presidential election of Afghanistan, he added.

On the occasion, President Muhammad Ashraf Ghani lauded the efforts of Dr. Zalmai Khalilzad for the restoration of peace to Afghanistan. Peace was the basic demand of the people and one of the top priorities of the government of Afghanistan, he said.

The Afghan government was fully ready for intra-Afghan peace talks, he observed. Talking of his meetings with political leaders and representatives of various walks of life about the restoration of peace, President Ghani said they demanded intra-Afghan peace talks as soon as possible. (AIP)

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Rouhani says Iran to continue oil exports and resist US economic war

TEHRAN (Reuters): Iran will continue to export oil despite U.S. sanctions, which are part of a psychological war doomed to failure, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday.

By reimposing sanctions on OPEC’s third biggest crude producer, Washington wants to force Tehran to drop its ballistic missile programmes, further curb its nuclear work and limit its support for proxy militias from Syria to Lebanon and Yemen.

“We will not yield to this pressure, which is part of the psychological war launched against Iran,” Rouhani said in a speech in the city of Khoy, broadcast live on state television.

“They have failed to stop our oil exports. We will keep exporting it … Your regional policies have failed and you blame Iran for that failure from Afghanistan to Yemen and Syria,” he added, to chants of “Death to America!”.

Rouhani said Washington lacked the necessary international support for its sanctions, and noted that it had granted temporary waivers to eight major buyers of Iranian oil.

“America is isolated now. Iran is supported by many countries. Except for the Zionist regime (Israel) and some countries in the region, no other country backs America’s pressure on Iran,” he said.

The European Union, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China, participants with the United States in the 2015 deal that lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme, have been trying to find ways to circumvent the U.S. limitations.

In particular, the EU has been trying to establish a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for non-dollar trade with Iran.

But this has not stopped foreign businesses ranging from oil companies and trading houses to firms leaving Iran for fear of incurring U.S. penalties.

Iran has threatened to exit the deal if its economic benefits are not preserved, but Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi told a news conference that it remained “hopeful that the Europeans can save the deal”.

The SPV was conceived as a clearing house that could be used to help match Iranian oil and gas exports against purchases of EU goods, circumventing the U.S. sanctions, which are based on the global use of the dollar for oil trade.

The EU wanted to have the SPV set up by this month, but no country has offered to host it, six diplomats told Reuters last week.

“We expect EU to implement the SPV as soon as possible,” Qasemi said. “Iran adheres to its commitments as long as other signatories honour theirs.”




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Yemen rebels halt missile attacks on Saudi, UAE

RIYADH (AA): Yemen’s Houthi rebels have announced a halt to missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) upon a request from UN peace envoy Martin Griffiths.

“After our contacts with the UN envoy and his request to stop drone and missile strikes … We announce our initiative … to halt missile and drone strikes on the countries of aggression,” Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the head of the rebel group’s Supreme Revolutionary Committee, said in a statement on Monday.

He said initiative came “to undermine any justification for continuing the aggression or blockade”.

The Houthi leader said the Shia group was ready to cease all military operations for reaching a “just and honorable peace” if the Saudi-led coalition was willing to.

There was no comment from the Saudi-led military coalition on the Houthi move.

Impoverished Yemen has remained wracked by violence since 2014, when Shia Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including capital Sanaa.

The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies — who accuse the Houthis of serving as proxies for Shia Iran — launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.

The following year, UN-sponsored peace talks in Kuwait failed to end the destructive conflict.

The violence has devastated Yemen’s infrastructure, including water and sanitation systems, prompting the UN to describe the situation as “one of the worst humanitarian disasters of modern times”.

Yemeni gov’t to take part in planned UN talks in Sweden: The Yemeni government has agreed to take part in upcoming UN-brokered peace talks in Sweden, according to a UN official.

In a statement, Martin Griffiths, the UN’s envoy for Yemen, said that a Yemeni government delegation would be sent to the talks with a view to reaching a political solution to the country’s ongoing crisis.

The government, for its part, has stressed the importance of pressing Yemen’s Houthi rebel group to refrain from setting any preconditions and to distance itself from attempts to disrupt the talks.

Last Friday, Griffiths announced that Yemen’s warring parties had confirmed that they would take part in the peace talks in Sweden.

Griffiths’ announcement came after David Beasley, the head of the UN’s World Food Program (WFP), briefed reporters on Yemen’s dire humanitarian situation.

“The country isn’t on the brink of catastrophe,” Beasley said at a news conference. “It is already facing a catastrophe.”