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Donald Trump Trump unveils ‘Fake News Awards’

WASHINGTON (AFP): At loggerheads with much of the US news media since his election, Trump finally doled out his “Fake News Awards” after weeks of speculation, recognizing what he had called “the most corrupt & biased of the Mainstream Media.”

CNN ‘won’ the most awards, getting mentioned four times out of the 11 total spots.

Nobel-prize winning economist Paul Krugman, who writes a regular opinion column — not news articles — for The New York Times, nabbed the number one spot.

The administration said he merited the award for writing “on the day of President Trump’s historic, landslide victory that the economy would never recover.”

Following the former reality star’s stunning rise to power, Krugman had written that Trump’s inexperience on economic policy and unpredictability risked further damaging the weak global economy.

The list also pointed to an error from ABC’s veteran reporter Brian Ross, who was suspended for four weeks without pay after he was forced to correct a bombshell report on ex-Trump aide Michael Flynn.

In follow-up tweets to his “Fake News” announcement, the commander-in-chief posted that “despite some very corrupt and dishonest media coverage, there are many great reporters I respect and lots of GOOD NEWS for the American people to be proud of!”

“Together there is nothing we can´t overcome — even a very biased media. We ARE Making America Great Again!”

‘Reflexive slurs’

Quoting figures from the International Federation of Journalists which reported the deaths of more than 80 journalists last year, Flake said Trump’s “reflexive slurs” were an affront to their sacrifice.

From his longtime questioning of Barack Obama’s birth certificate to his dismissal of what US intelligence agrees was a Russian effort to sway the 2016 election as a “hoax,” Flake accused Trump of weakening trust in American institutions — while emboldening despots around the world.

Citing the examples of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte or Venezuela´s Nicolas Maduro, who all employed the term “fake news” in recent months, he accused Trump of encouraging brutal and authoritarian regimes to persecute the press.

“This feedback loop is disgraceful, Mr President,” Flake said. “Not only has the past year seen an American president borrow despotic language to refer to the free press, but it seems he has now in turn inspired dictators and authoritarians with his own language.”

Earlier in the day, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders had pushed back at Flake´s criticism, suggesting the senator was simply “looking for some attention” — and accusing him of defending the “oppressive Cuban government” during a recent trip to the communist-ruled island.

While Flake’s combative stance was not echoed by the Republican mainstream, it was mirrored by his Arizona colleague and fellow Trump critic McCain, in an opinion piece for The Washington Post entitled “Mr President, stop attacking the press.”

“Whether Trump knows it or not, these efforts are being closely watched by foreign leaders who are already using his words as cover as they silence and shutter one of the key pillars of democracy,” McCain warned.

Citing the Committee to Protect Journalists, McCain noted that 2017 was one of the most dangerous years on record for the profession, with 262 journalists jailed over their work — 21 of them on charges of “fake news.”

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India test-fires nuclear-capable ICBM Agni-V

NEW DELHI (Reuters): India tested its longest-range intercontinental missile on Thursday, the defense ministry said, part of efforts to build a nuclear deterrent against neighbouring Pakistan and China.

The 5,000-km range (3,107-mile) Agni missile was tested from an island in India’s eastern coast in the Bay of Bengal, the ministry said on its official Twitter account.

It said the launch was “a major boost to the defense capabilities” of India .

The Agni-V is an advanced version of the indigenously built Agni , or Fire, series, part of a program that started in the 1980s. It has been tested previously before.

New Delhi claims it faces a twin threat from both bitter foe Pakistan, which is developing a nuclear and missile programme of its own, as well as China. A long-running dispute over the Himalayan border with China has flared in recent years.

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Tillerson’s old school way to deal with Trump tweets

WASHINGTON (AFP): When US President Donald Trump launches into one of his tweetstorms it sometimes seems like the diplomatic world is gasping in unison — but not Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Many foreign policy professionals have set up alerts so their phones buzz in their pockets whenever the commander-in-chief insults a foreign leader or issues a vague threat of war.

But not Tillerson, Washington´s chief diplomat and arguably the man who has the toughest job clearing the air after Trump sets off another diplomatic incident with a social media rant.

Tillerson is not on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. When Trump sends a tweet on world affairs a State Department aide prints it and brings it to the secretary for later perusal.

At least, that is how he explained things to his friend and predecessor Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday in a chat after a speech at Stanford University in California.

Rice asked Tillerson a question he gets asked all the time: how can he handle US foreign policy with Trump constantly stirring the pot with his undiplomatic tweets?

Tillerson´s reply went into more detail than usual — although he again insisted that he has no problem with Trump´s remarks and sees them as an opportunity to communicate his vision.

“He´s world class in social media, and I´m not,” 65-year-old former oilman Tillerson admitted. “I have no social media account, I´ve never had any and I don´t intend to have any.”

“It is a great tool when it is used well. The president has used it at a great effect by by-passing the traditional means of communicating,” he told the assembled policy experts.

“And he absolutely thrives with his ability to instantly communicate not just to the American people but to our friends and allies or to our adversaries in the entire world.”

This much has been said before, but surely Tillerson receives a warning before Trump abruptly cancels a planned trip to London or threatens to pull out of the NAFTA trade pact?

The answer is not, apparently. Tillerson likes it that way.

“I don´t know when he´s going to do that, because that is just the way the president operates,” he said.

“The challenge is just getting caught up because I don´t even have a Twitter account to follow what he´s tweeting. My staff usually has to print his tweets out and hand them to me.”

“I´ve actually concluded that´s not a bad system.”

´How do we use that?’

Tillerson explained that it might be anything up to an hour post tweet that he finds out what Trump has been saying, and that means he can gauge official reaction before responding.

“I already have the early reactions to that and it allows me to begin to think about: ´How do we take that?´,” he said.

“OK, this is information. We know what our objectives are and he didn´t change any of them. This is just the way he wants to communicate on a subject, how do we take that and use it?”

Tillerson remains sanguine about Trump´s exotic online monologue, which some critics fear could alienate US allies, despite having fallen foul of it more than once himself.

In October last year, Tillerson met senior Chinese leaders in Beijing and afterwards told reporters that he had back channel communications open with Kim Jong-Un´s North Korea.

When Tillerson arrived back in Washington he discovered — presumably on being handed a print out — that Trump had disavowed his efforts to resolve the nuclear stand-off.

“I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” Trump had tweeted.

“Save your energy Rex, we´ll do what needs to be done!”

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Indian boy shot dead in police crossfire

LUCKNOW (AFP): An eight-year-old boy was shot and killed in police crossfire in northern India, an officer said Thursday.

Madhav Bharadwaj was playing with friends in Uttar Pradesh state when he was shot dead in front of his grandfather late Wednesday.

Police said they went into the boy´s village on a tip-off that suspected robbers were hiding out there, and it was unclear who fired the bullet that struck him.

Villagers, however, told local media that only police were shooting.

“Three policemen came to the village and asked the (suspects) to gather at the terrace of a nearby temple for a talk. But suddenly the cops began firing,” the boy´s grandfather told the Times of India newspaper.

“My poor grandson was playing nearby and got hit. I froze for a moment. I was unable to understand what had happened.”

Rajesh Kumar Sonker, a superintendent of police in Mathura district where the incident took place, told AFP an investigation was under way.

“We are probing the case and will soon get to know how the child got hit and killed,” he said.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath offered his condolences to the family and compensation of 500,000 rupees ($7,835).

The state has one of the highest crime rates in India, an issue that Adityanath pledged to tackle with tough policing when he was named chief minister last March.

Rights groups have however accused him of abusing his power after he reportedly said at a rally that criminals would “either be sent to jail or killed in police encounters”.

Police in Uttar Pradesh and other Indian states have been accused of faking “encounters” with suspects to carry out extrajudicial killings.

“It has observed that even if the law and order situation is grave, the state cannot resort to such mechanism, which may result in the extrajudicial killings of the alleged criminals,” India´s National Human Rights Commission said in a statement responding to Adityanath´s comments.

Uttar Pradesh police have killed 33 people since Adityanath came to power according to figures in the Indian Express newspaper.

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Hasan Ali named ‘Emerging Player of the Year’ in ICC Awards 2017

KARACHI (Monitoring Desk): Pakistan pacer Hasan Ali was named the Emerging Player of the Year as part of the ICC Awards 2017 on Thursday while the national team’s famous Champion Trophy triumph was voted by fans as the Moment of the Year.

Twenty-three-year-old Hasan, the top-ranked ODI bowler, took 48 wickets in 21 matches during calendar year 2017 at an average of just 17.70 per dismissal. He also claimed three five-wicket hauls and played a massive role in Pakistan’s Champions Trophy win in England — making him a shoo-in for the emerging player gong.

“Last year was incredible, both for me individually as well as my team,” said Hasan in a PCB video. “I feel very proud. These awards motivate us and spur us to do even better.”

Pakistan’s historical Champions Trophy win of 2017, when they defeated arch-rivals India in a thrilling final, was voted by fans as the Moment of the Year. But the biggest winner of the awards was India captain Virat Kohli, who walked away with twin awards: ODI Cricketer of the Year and the Cricketer of the Year the former being the second such win of his glittering career.

Kohli’s win, however, comes as little surprise as in 2017 as he had amassed 1,818 runs in just 31 ODIs at a staggering average of 82.63. He staved off competition from Hasan, Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan and his teammate Rohit Sharma.

Australia’s Steve Smith was named the ICC Test Cricketer of the Year — another title win which was a given considering the Baggy Greens skipper, per ICC website, had piled up “1,875 runs at an average of 78.12, with eight hundreds and five half-centuries” between “the qualification period from 21 September 2016 until the end of December 2017”.

Indian Yuzvendra Chahal’s 6-25 against England was chosen as the T20I Performance of the Year, Afghan leggie Rashid the Associate Cricketer of the Year and South African Marais Erasmus the Umpire of the Year.

The Test Team of the Year has no Pakistani representatives, although the ODI line-up does feature Hasan as well as middle-order batsman Babar Azam whose willow yielded 1,232 runs in 21 matches at an average of 77.00 during 2017.

ODI Team of the Year: David Warner, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Babar Azam, AB de Villiers, Quinton de Kock, Ben Stokes, Trent Boult, Hasan Ali, Rashid Khan, Jasprit Bumrah.

Test Team of the Year: Dean Elgar, David Warner, Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, Cheteshwar Pujara, Quinton de Kock, Ben Stokes, Ashwin Ravichandran, Mitchell Starc, Kagiso Rabada, James Anderson.

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Javed Iqbal directs to expedite seeking record on Offshore companies

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Chairman NAB, Justice Mr. Javed Iqbal has directed to expedite the seeking of information and record from State Bank of Pakistan, SECP and FBR sans sustaining any duress.

And inquiry should be concluded in accordance with merit and in light of Law and evidence. Chairman NAB Justice Mr. Javed Iqbal chaired a meeting at NAB headquarters.

The meeting reviewed the preliminary inquiry report of 435 offshore companies owned by Pakistanis in Panama and British Virgin Islands.

Chairman NAB directed to expedite the seeking of information and record from State Bank of Pakistan, SECP and FBR sans sustaining any duress. And inquiry should be concluded in accordance with merit and in light of Law and evidence.

The persons who own offshore companies in Panama and British Virgin Islands included former chairman FBR Abdullah Yousaf.

Mr Yousaf owns Green Deal Management , Greenwood Investor. Shahid Abdullah and Shayan Abdullah own Greenwood Investor. Usman Yousaf owns Malboro and six companies of Ameer Abdullah are also included.

Chairman NAB directed to get information about the offshore companies of other Pakistanis at the earliest and ask reasons of establishing offshore companies and their sources of income including money trail from the owners of the offshore companies.

The officers have also directed to inquire the offshore companies had been established and money transferred abroad through banking channels or money laundering. Whether national exchequer had not been looted or caused losses through corruption.

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People like Nawaz Sharif, Khawaja Asif are responsible for destroying the parliament: Imran

ISLAMABAD (Monitoring Desk): “Parliament is the name of a building. It is the parliamentarians who take the parliament forward or destroy it,” said Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday, hitting back at criticism over his anti-parliament comments which he made during a protest in Lahore a day before.

He also criticised Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif for his stance in the National Assembly today, saying it was people like him and Nawaz who had destroyed the parliament.

“Give me a precedent of any assembly in the world which makes a law to favour a culprit who steals from the people and lies in the court,” said Khan. “What you actually did was make a thief sit on Pakistan’s coffers.”

He was referring to the Election Bill 2017, which was adopted by the National Assembly in October last year and paved the way for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to be re-elected as the head of the ruling PML-N.

On Wednesday, opposition parties, under the leadership of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek, had held a gathering on Lahore’s Mall Road, kick-starting their campaign for the ouster of the PML-N government.

During the rally, Sheikh Rashid had repeatedly cursed the parliament and announced his resignation from his National Assembly seat, prompting Khan to consider quitting the assemblies on the grounds that parliament had lost its utility in protecting people’s rights. Khan, voicing his support for Rashid, had also “cursed” the parliament.

Addressing Thursday’s parliamentary session, members of the National Assembly criticised the opposition leaders for their anti-parliamentary remarks and passed a resolution stating that Khan and Rashid’s open cursing of the parliament was akin to “disrespecting the nation”.

‘Explosive revelations’

Sharifs are involved in money laundering worth Rs1.74 billion through FZE Capital, Hill Metals and other companies in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Khan alleged in the press conference.

“I want to congratulate my team who have made new revelations,” said Khan, accompanied by former PTI general secretary Jahangir Tareen who was disqualified by the Supreme Court last year.

He disclosed that Nawaz Sharif sent approximately Rs800 million to his daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif, who sent Rs25m back to him.

Around Rs240m were laundered through employees of the Sharif family and Punjab Police via the Hill Metals establishment.

“We are talking about the prime minister of this country who was doing this,” he said. “Had this been a civilised nation, he would have been in jail rather than asking ‘mujhe kyun nikala’ (why was I thrown out)?”

Khan alleged that the family was involved in laundering money through a network of 16 companies, including FZE Capital and Hill Metals — the chairman of which is Hussain Nawaz Sharif.

He alleged that transactions through bank accounts of multiple people, who, he said, were drivers and other employees of Nawaz, employees of Sharif Medical City and constables of Punjab police, reveal that the companies were solely created for the purpose of money laundering.

“Money from an Iqbal Anjum who works in Saudi Arabia goes to Aurangzeb Akhtar, constable Punjab police, and Mohammad Iqbal, constable Punjab police.”

Further, Rs180m were sent by Sharifs’ driver Punnoo Khan to Asim Mehmood who worked at Sharif Educational Complex, Khan alleged. “Saleem, an employee at Jati Umra sends Rs50m again to Asim Mehmood.”

Asim Mehmood further sent Rs240m to Nawaz Sharif’s employees, Khan said. “It is obvious that this is not going to the drivers but going to the Sharif’s themselves.”

“How can they catch anyone else when they are themselves like this?” Khan asked.

He also said that this was just one company that he was talking about which was involved in laundering worth Rs1.74 billion.

He also said that Nawaz sent Rs20m to Chaudhry Sugar Mills through his own account which was revealed in the investigation by Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP).

Taking on the Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, he said that Rs3.5bn credit arrived in Ramzan Sugar Mill — owned by Shahbaz — without any explanation.

All of this money had been acquired through corruption in Pakistan and sent abroad. “There cannot be a more open and shut case than this,” Khan said, adding that all the details would be sent to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and other organisations for further investigation.

Khan also said that there can be “no bigger fraud” than Asif who was earning Rs1.6m a month while working as a legal consultant, even though he has only worked in banks before.

He also alleged that hundreds of thousands of dollars were going to the United States through Asif’s wife.

“As the head of a party, I have the right to tell the judiciary that you are taking too long in taking action on the case although the man [Asif] is a security risk for the country.”

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif had earlier asked that the opposition leaders who had cursed the parliament be summoned before the National Assembly to explain their remarks.

“We will not permit this [language],” Asif had said. “The elections are coming up, everyone has the right to campaign and gather support from voters — but no one has the right to curse.”

“This House has never seen such shameful conduct,” Asif had added.

“Whatever little respect you have, you have gotten it through your membership in the parliament,” he had said, addressing Khan and Rashid.

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PML-N is running away from elections: Fawad Khan

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Fawad Chaudhry on Thursday has said that the Parliament which nation thinks respectable, is actually sacred.

In a statement, Fawad Chaudhry said that the resolution submitted in National Assembly (NA) against PTI Chief Imran Khan and Awami Muslim League (AML) Chairman Sheikh Rashid, is only to score political points.

He claimed that most of the MNAs don’t have support of the people due to which Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is running away from elections.

On the other hand, while reacting to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan’s anti-parliament comments, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said every the opposition has the right to criticize the government but on one is allowed to abuse the parliament.

Khawaja Asif said that the opposition leaders who had openly cursed the parliament during rally on Lahore’s Mall Road should be summoned to appear before the National Assembly to explain their remarks.

“This House has never seen such shameful conduct,” he added. “If those who derive their strength from the parliament curse it, then all others institutions will lose respect for it,” the minister said, adding that “those who are members of this House and want to become the prime minister have insulted it.”

He further recalled that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leadership has abused the parliament before as well and crawled back in the House after submitting their resignations in 2014.

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People burry negative dharna politics of united opposition: Ahsan

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Interior, Prof. Ahsan Iqbal on Thursday said people have burried negative Dharna politics by boycotting public meeting of united opposition.

In his reaction on public gathering of united opposition in Lahore, Ahsan Iqbal said no one can crash development and progress of Pakistan through disorder.

He said both Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Imran Khan and Co-Chairman, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Asif Ali Zardari are riding a same boat.

The Minister said Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) has pulled the country out of danger and people are with this party.

He said like 2013 elections, PML-N would emerge victorious and take more seats in 2018.

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CJP expresses concerns on unavailability of health facilities across country

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar has expressed concerns over the unavailability of health facilities in the country.

The Supreme Court Chief Justice met the adhoc body of Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PMDC) on Thursday to discuss the medical facilities and services for health in the country. He showed concerns on why the people are not getting proper health facilities for their survival.

He stated that the purpose of adhoc body of PMDC is to ensure merit, transparency and medical education. He directed the committee to fulfill its responsibilities without adhering to any external pressure.

The adhoc body members and Justice Nisar discussed medical facilities in the government hospitals across the country.

Earlier, he had taken suo moto notice of the poor condition of government-controlled hospitals across Lahore.

Meanwhile, the district administration of Chakwal submitted the report regarding Katas Raj Temples in the Supreme Court. The hearing Of Katas Raj Temples case is scheduled on January 19.

The case will be heard by three-member bench including CJP.