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S.Arabia present Prince Salman picture rejected the rumors of his death

Monitoring Desk

RIYADH: The Saudi Royal family on Wednesday released a photograph of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to clear and quash away the speculation and romours about the death of Prince propagated earlier by Iranian and Russian Media that the prince was assassinated.

Video were posted on social media showing heavy gunfire outside the palace in Riyadh with claims of an uprising underway at the royal palace.

Iranian media speculated that Prince Salman had been arrested or that he was even killed during the ‘coup’.

Iran’s newspaper claimed: ‘At least two bullets have hit bin Salman in April 21 clashes in Riyadh and it is even possible that he is dead.’ The paper questioned why the crown prince was not pictured when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo paid his first visit to Saudi Arabia Riyadh in late April – but King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir were pictured.

‘There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the absence of nearly 30 days of Muhammad bin Sulman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, is due to an incident which is being hidden from the public,’ Kayhan claimed.

But now the prince’s press spokesman has tweeted pictures of him chairing a meeting of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs.

As part of Prince Salman’s drive against corruption, dozens of princes, senior officials and top businessmen were detained and confined in the opulent Ritz-Carlton Riyadh as the government launched the purge in early November.

While the hotel is no longer being used as a detention centre, some of those held there have instead been moved to prison.

Saudi Arabian attorney general Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said on Tuesday that 56 corruption suspects were still in custody out of 381 high profile figures detained on graft allegations.

He said he has decided to release all those proven not guilty and others who had agreed financial settlements with the government after admitting to corruption allegations.

Mojeb also said that total settlements with the suspects had topped 400 billion riyals ($107 billion) in various forms of assets.



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Iran ‘ready to return to pre-nuke deal era’: Official

Monitoring Desk

TEHRAN: An Iranian official on Tuesday said that his country had made all necessary preparations to resume production of highly-enriched uranium, according to local media reports.

The semi-official Mehr News Agency quoted Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency, as saying that Iran was ready to return to the “pre-nuclear deal era”.

“We are ready to return to the pre-nuclear deal era and produce highly-enriched uranium if necessary,” he said.

He added: “But I hope we never need it.”

On the same day, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a lengthy list of demands that the U.S. wants to include in a new nuclear deal with Iran.

Earlier this month, U.S. President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of a landmark 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and the P5+1 group of nations (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany).




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Seoul ‘disappointed’ by North Korea

Monitoring Desk

SEOUL: South Korea finds it “disappointing and regrettable” that its eight journalists invited to attend this week’s dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear test site are not being allowed to attend after all, according to a statement from Seoul’s Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon Tuesday.

A group of foreign journalists excluding those from the South headed for the North via a chartered flight from China earlier in the day.

As announced amid unusually warm inter-Korean relations last month, Pyongyang is set to dismantle its Punggye-ri site — where it has carried out all six of its nuke tests to date –between Wednesday and Friday, depending on the weather.

“We think it is disappointing and regrettable that [the South Korean] journalists cannot visit the North due to no follow-up measures after the North’s invitation,” Cho said in a message carried by local news agency Yonhap.

Inter-Korean travel is strictly restricted by both Seoul and Pyongyang, and the South has failed to confirm the trip by its journalists after North Korea abruptly canceled high-level bilateral talks last week, blaming military drills on the peninsula involving the U.S.

Another Unification Ministry official explained that Seoul tried again Tuesday morning to convey its travel list, “but the North declined to accept it”.

“In spite of that, we take note of the fact that the North is pushing for the dismantling as promised and hope that it will lead to a successful summit between the North and the U.S.,” Cho added.

Despite doubts about whether American President Donald Trump will even meet his North Korean counterpart as scheduled on June 12 in Singapore, South Korea’s security chief Chung Eui-yong insisted in the U.S. Monday that the summit will go ahead.

Speaking aboard Air Force One on his way to Washington ahead of Tuesday’s talks between Trump and visiting South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Chung denied a New York Times article claiming the American leader is having second thoughts about meeting Kim. “During phone calls between our two leaders or talks between our National Security Councils, I never got such an impression,” Chung said in comments reported by Yonhap. (AA)



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Congressional leaders to review information on Russia probe

WASHINGTON (AP): Ratcheting up pressure on the Russia investigation, the White House announced that top FBI and Justice Department officials have agreed to meet with congressional leaders and “review” highly classified information the lawmakers have been seeking on the handling of the probe. The agreement came after President Donald Trump made an extraordinary demand that the Justice Department investigate whether the FBI infiltrated his presidential campaign. It’s unclear exactly what the members will be allowed to review or if the Justice Department will be providing any documents to Congress.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump chief of staff John Kelly will broker the meeting between congressional leaders and the FBI, Justice Department and office of the Director of National Intelligence. She said the officials will “review highly classified and other information they have requested,” but did not provide additional detail. During a meeting Monday with Trump, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray also reiterated an announcement late Sunday that the Justice Department’s inspector general will expand an existing investigation into the Russia probe by examining whether there was any improper politically motivated surveillance.

Rep. Devin Nunes, an ardent Trump supporter and head of the House Intelligence Committee, has been demanding information on an FBI source in the Russia investigation. And Trump has taken up the cause as the White House tries to combat the threat posed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. On Tuesday, a group of conservative House lawmakers planned to call for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate whether misconduct took place in the FBI and the Justice Department.

Trump tweeted Sunday, “I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!” With the demand, Trump entered into the realm of applying presidential pressure on the Justice Department regarding an investigation into his own campaign a move few of his predecessors have made.

Trump made the demand amid days of public venting about the special counsel investigation, which he has deemed a “witch hunt” that he says has yielded no evidence of collusion between his campaign and Russia. In response, the Justice Department moved to defuse the confrontation by asking its watchdog to investigate whether there was inappropriate surveillance. “If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action,” Rosenstein said in a statement announcing the move.

The Justice Department probe began in March at the request of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and congressional Republicans. Sessions and the lawmakers urged Inspector General Michael Horowitz to review whether FBI and Justice Department officials abused their surveillance powers by using information compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British spy, and paid for by Democrats to justify monitoring Carter Page, a former campaign adviser to Trump. Horowitz said his office will look at those claims as well as communications between Steele and Justice and FBI officials. The back and forth between the Justice Department and Congress began with a classified subpoena from Nunes in late April. The panel didn’t publicize the subpoena, but the Justice Department released a letter it sent to Nunes rejecting the request for information “regarding a specific individual.” The department said disclosure could have severe consequences, including potential loss of human life.

The Justice Department said the White House had signed off on its letter, but Nunes wasn’t satisfied, and continued to pressure the department. Negotiations between the House Republicans and the Justice department appeared to stall last week ahead of Trump’s tweet an apparent reversal of the White House’s initial policy. Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has called Trump’s claim of an embedded spy “nonsense.”

“His ‘demand’ DOJ investigate something they know to be untrue is an abuse of power, and an effort to distract from his growing legal problems,” Schiff tweeted. “Never mind that DOJ has warned that lives and alliances are at risk. He doesn’t care.” Trump’s demand of the Justice Department alarmed many observers, who felt it not only violated presidential protocol but also could have a chilling effect on federal law enforcement or its use of informants.

The New York Times was the first to report that the FBI had an informant who met several times with Trump campaign officials who had suspicious contacts linked to Russia. The GOP-led House Intelligence Committee closed its Russian meddling probe last month, saying it found no evidence of collusion or coordination between Trump’s campaign and Russia. Schiff and other committee Democrats were furious and argued that Republicans had not subpoenaed many witnesses they considered essential to the committee’s work. Sunday was not the first time that Trump accused his predecessor of politically motivated activity against him.



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Canada granting refugee status to border crossers

TORONTO (Reuters): Canada is rejecting more refugee claims from people who crossed the border illegally as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government seeks to dissuade, block and turn back thousands more, according to new data obtained by Reuters. Forty percent of such border crossers whose claims were finalized in the first three months of this year were granted refugee status, down from 53 percent for all of 2017, according to data provided by Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board. There were no claims finalized in the first three months of 2017.

The wave of illegal border crossings started up in January 2017 and ramped up over the summer as many Haitian immigrants in the United States who were at risk of losing their temporary legal status streamed into Canada on expectations that they could find a safe haven. In the months since, thousands of Nigerians have made the same crossing. More than 27,000 asylum seekers have walked across the Canada-US border since President Donald Trump took office, some of whom have told Reuters they left the United States because of Trump’s policies and rhetoric toward immigrants. The influx has strained Canada’s backlogged system for assisting people seeking refugee status, leaving aid agencies scrambling to meet growing demand for housing and social services.

A US-Canadian border pact that turns back asylum seekers at border crossings allows immigrants who cross illegally into Canada outside of an official border crossing to apply for refugee status. Trudeau’s government has sought to stem the influx by sending officials to the United States to dissuade Haitians, Salvadorans and others from illegally entering into Canada to seek refugee status. It has asked the United States to amend an agreement between the two nations to make it easier to turn back thousands of illegal border crossers.



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Nipah virus death toll in India jumps to 10

NEW DELHI (AFP): The death toll from an outbreak of the rare Nipah virus in southern India jumped to 10 Tuesday with more than 90 people quarantined to try to stem the spread of the disease, officials said. With tests from other suspect deaths awaited, authorities in Kerala state have ordered emergency measures to control the virus, which is spread by fruit bats.

Three of the fatalities are members of the same family dead bats were found in a well at their home. A nurse who treated one of the family has also died, leaving a heart-wrenching note for her family. “We sent 18 samples for testing. Out of these 12 tested positive. Ten of those who tested positive have died and the remaining two are undergoing treatment,” a health official in Kerala’s Kozhikode district, the centre of the outbreak, told AFP. Ninety-four people who have come into contact with those who died have been isolated in their homes.

“They have been quarantined as a precaution,” Kerala state health surveillance officer K.J. Reena told AFP. Nipah has killed more than 260 people in Malaysia, Bangladesh and India since 1998 and has a mortality rate of nearly 70 percent, according to the World Health Organisation. There is no vaccination for the virus which induces flu-like symptoms that lead to an agonising encephalitis and coma.

The WHO has named Nipah as one of the eight priority diseases that could cause a global epidemic, alongside the likes of Ebola and Zika. Among the dead in the Kerala outbreak was nursing assistant and mother-of-two Lini Puthussery, who had helped to treat one of the original family suffering from Nipah. Puthussery died on Monday and was cremated before her family members could bid her a final goodbye because of fears the virus could spread.

In a final note she scribbled in a hospital isolation unit, she urged her husband to take care of the children. “I don’t think I will be able to see you again. Sorry. Please take care of our children,” she said. Kerala state Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said Puthussery’s “selfless service will be remembered”.

He also said many professionals had expressed their willingness to work in Nipah affected areas. “The government of Kerala welcomes their service,” he said on Twitter. Health authorities across the state were on high alert, setting up medical camps and a control room to tackle the emerging situation. They have urged residents to take precautions include avoiding eating fruit fallen on the ground and drinking raw date palm sap. U.V. Jose, district collector of Kozhikode, said government and private hospitals were working in close coordination.

“Health staff are visiting individual households giving them specific instructions including about eating fruits from outside and other precautions,” he told AFP. Authorities in Goa and Tamil Nadu states, neighbouring Kerala, said they were monitoring the spread of the outbreak. Nipah first appeared in Malaysia in 1998. It spread to Singapore and more than 100 people were killed. On that occasion, pigs were the virus hosts but they are believed to have caught it from bats. In India the disease was first reported in 2001 and again six years later, with the two outbreaks claiming 50 lives.

Both times the disease was reported in West Bengal state bordering Bangladesh. Bangladesh has borne the brunt of the disease in recent years, with more than 100 people dying of Nipah since a first outbreak was reported in 2001. In 2004, humans became infected with Nipah after eating date palm sap contaminated by fruit bats.



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China wants Australian actions to improve ties

BEIJING (AP): China on Tuesday called for “concrete actions” from Australia to improve ties following tensions over Beijing’s anger with recent political moves by Canberra. The terse remarks by Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang followed a meeting between Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Australian counterpart, Julie Bishop, that produced markedly different responses from the two sides.

Lu quoted Wang as telling Bishop that Australia needed to “take off tinted glasses (and) see China’s development from a positive perspective” if it really wanted to get relations back on track. “Tinted glasses” is Chinese diplomatic shorthand for what it sees as Western bias. “China-Australia relations have gone through difficulties recently, which even inflicted impacts on bilateral cooperation in some aspects. That is not what we want,” Lu quoted Wang as saying.

“We hope Australia will genuinely translate its words into concrete actions,” he quoted the minister as saying. “Australia must correct its understanding first in order to promote the development of China-Australia relations.” Bishop, in contrast, was upbeat about the exchange held Monday in Argentina, describing it as “very warm and candid and constructive.” “I get on very well with Foreign Minister Wang Yi, we’ve known each other for a very long time. Australia will continue to approach our bilateral relationship with goodwill and realism and pragmatism and open communication,” she told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

China is Australia’s most important trading partner but diplomatic ties have suffered over a range of issues, including proposed legislation to ban foreign interference in Australian politics that followed accusations of meddling by Beijing and its proxies. The Chinese foreign ministry said then that remarks on the legislation by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull were prejudiced against China and had poisoned the atmosphere of China-Australia relations. Following his visit to Argentina, Wang was due to hold talks Wednesday in Washington, D.C., amid trade tensions with the US and questions surrounding a summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, the leader of Chinese ally North Korea, planned for next month.

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Mark Zuckerberg apologize European Parliament

Monitoring Desk

BRUSSELS: Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg apologized to the European Parliament on Tuesday and said the social media giant is taking steps to prevent a repeat of a massive breach of users’ personal data.

Zuckerberg also pledged to keep investing in Europe as he made the latest stop on a tour of contrition over the Cambridge Analytica scandal that began in the US Congress in April.

Zuckerberg told the livestreamed hearing in Brussels that it has become clear in the last two years that Facebook executives “haven’t done enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm.”

“And that goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections or developers misusing people’s information. We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility,” he said.

“That was a mistake, and I’m sorry for it.”

Facebook admitted that up to 87 million users may have had their data hijacked by British consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which worked for US President Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign.

The Silicon Valley giant has told the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, that the personal data of up to 2.7 million Europeans may have been sent inappropriately to Cambridge Analytica, which has since filed for bankruptcy in the US.

The Facebook chief welcomed the EU’s sweeping new personal data protection rules, which come into effect in three days, saying that his website was adopting similar steps.

Zuckerberg said Facebook was bringing in new features including a special “clear history” button that would allow them to delete any cookies or browsing history details it stores.

He also told the leaders of the European Parliament’s political groups that Facebook would make fresh investments to protect its users in the wake of the scandal.

“It’s going to take time to work through all of the changes we must make. But I’m committed to getting it right, and to making the significant investments needed to keep people safe,” he added.


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Police reacted to an active shooting in Panama city


FLORIDA: A heavy police presence is seen on the scene of an active shooting on Tuesday afternoon at an apartment complex in Panama City on Beck Avenue, Florida, confirmed Bay Country Sheriff’s Office spokesperson.

The Bay County Sheriff’s Office and Panama City police are working to get the situation contained, said Ruth Corley.

According to Chief Investigator Jimmy Stanford with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, law enforcement is looking for a male suspect.

Stanford has confirmed the male suspect they’re looking for is the same suspect involved in a suspicious death on White Heron Drive in Santa Rosa Beach.

Police have asked the residents to avoid the area of the 2300 block of Beck Avenue until further notice.

Multiple agencies are responding to the situation, including the Walton County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Michael Adkinson.

Witnesses have confirmed that they’ve heard more than 50 gunshots in the area.

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Indian forces injure four Kashmir girls after locals refuse to attend their Iftar party

Monitoring Desk

SRINAGAR: Indian occupied forces continues its atrocities on the innocent Kashmiris and in the recent incident the occupied forces injured four teenage girls after the Indian forces opened fire on people in Shopian district, for refusing to attend an Iftar party arranged by the army.

According to Kashmir media, the brutal incident took place in Dred-Kalipora village on Monday evening when an Indian army party visited the village and brought food items for the villagers.

The villagers, who are suffering from Indian atrocities since partition, refused to take the food items and participation in their Iftar party and the occupied forces were also asked to leave the village as such action could cause tension in the area.

The argument between the villagers and occupied forces turned into the scuffle when Indian force opened fire on the villagers indiscriminately in a result four girls were injured in it.

The injured were identified as 14-year-old Aqsa Jan and Shobi Jan are said to be in critical condition and have been referred to Srinagar for treatment.

And two sisters, Shakira Akther, 17, who was injured above the ankle and Shaafi Jan, 15, who has injuries in her right leg, were admitted at Public Health Centre Harmain.

Villagers said that the army men came here just for taking pictures of their Iftar party to use as a propaganda tool but the people showed resistance.

On May 16, the government of India announced a conditional ceasefire in anti-militancy operation by security forces in the restive Jammu and Kashmir state during the holy month of Ramazan.