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Nangarhar talc factories reject global witness report

Monitoring Desk

JALALABAD: The Talc Mining Society in eastern Nangarhar province has rejected reports that alleged militant groups are paid money to let the mineral exploited, but admitted some people working in the talc mining might have been extorted by the rebels.

The society’s reaction comes in response to a report by Global Witness, an international NGO that works to break the links between natural resource exploitation, conflict, poverty, corruption, and human rights abuses worldwide.

The Global Witness report said Islamic State or Daesh, the Taliban and corrupt powerbrokers in Afghanistan were making hundreds of thousands of dollars from illegal and abusive mining of talc, almost 80 percent of which is ending up in the United States and Europe.

Earnings from illegal talc mining is funding insurgent activities and fueling corruption, undermining the chances of the war-shattered country to ever see stability, warned the report by Global Witness advocacy group.

Talc is common ingredient found in baby powder, cosmetics, paint, paper and plastics.

Addressing reporters in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar, Haji Wali Khan Khogyani, head of the Talc Mining and Processing Factories Union, strongly rejected the report.

He said talc in Nangarhar was being extracted based on contracts with the government.

Flanked by the provincial Mining and Petroleum Department head, Khogyani said the Global Witness report was aimed at creating problems for the mining sector and to bring the industry to a halt in Afghanistan.

He termed the allegation that militants gained profits from the Nangarhar mining sector as far from truth and demanded evidence to prove the allegation.

Currently, talc was being excavated from mines in Khogyani and Sherzad districts under 32 different contracts and the mineral was exported to foreign countries after half processing at local factories.

But Amir Khan Yar, a lawmaker from Nangarhar province, said most of the talc deposits in Nangarhar were situated in areas where militants enjoyed influence.

He said besides militants, some politicians, lawmakers and tribal people also gained profits from mining of natural resources in the province.


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Japanese film ‘Shoplifters’ wins top prize at Cannes film festival

Monitoring Desk

CANNES: “Shoplifters”, a heartwrenching family tale by Japanese veteran director Hirokazu Kore-eda, won the Palme d’Or top prize at the Cannes film festival Saturday, at a ceremony marked by an emotional speech from a Harvey Weinstein accuser.

Spike Lee accepted the runner-up Grand Prix for “BlacKkKlansman”, a searing broadside against racism with the stranger-than-fiction true story of an African-American police officer who manages to infiltrate the highest levels of the Ku Klux Klan.

Jury president Cate Blanchett said the film, which explicitly links the 1970s tale and white nationalism in the Trump era, “blew us out of the cinema”.

But the most stunning moment of the night came when Italian star Asia Argento, who has said she was raped by Weinstein at Cannes in 1997, took the microphone and vowed to fight for justice for other victims.

“This festival was his hunting ground,” said Argento, who says she was 21 when Weinstein attacked her in his hotel room.

“Even tonight sitting among you there are those who still have to be held accountable for their conduct against women. We know who you are and we are not going to allow you to get away with it any longer,” she said to cheers from the audience.

Minutes before the actress took the stage police in Paris said they had opened a criminal probe against one of France´s best-known directors, “The Fifth Element” maker Luc Besson, for allegedly raping an actress.

Lebanese actress-director Nadine Labaki, one of three female filmmakers among the 21 contenders, earned the third-place Jury Prize for “Capernaum” set among the poorest of the poor in Beirut and featuring a devastating performance by a 13-year-old Syrian refugee boy.

Kazakhstan’s Samal Yeslyamova nabbed best actress for “Ayka” by director Sergey Dvortsevoy for her moving portrayal of a young jobless immigrant from post-Soviet Central Asia who abandons her baby in Moscow.

Pawlikowski, who won the foreign-language movie Oscar for “Ida” in 2015, caused a scandal at home when he told AFP at the festival that the film had been “blacklisted” by the nationalist government. Warsaw denied the claim.

He said his award was “a rare piece of good news” for his country.

Italy’s Marcello Fonte — who was working as a caretaker when he was discovered — was the night´s fairytale winner. He clinched best actor for his much-loved performance as a soft-spoken pet groomer who stands up to a heavy in Matteo Garrone’s “Dogman”.

“Three Faces” by Iran’s Jafar Pahahi, who was barred by Tehran from attending the festival, shared the best screenplay prize with Italian director Alice Rohrwacher’s “Happy as Lazzaro”.

The Belgian transgender ballerina drama “Girl” won the Camera d´Or prize for best first film. It had earlier scooped the Queer Palm prize for LGBT-themed cinema and the best actor award for Victor Polster in the Un Certain Regard sidebar section.

French-Swiss legend Jean-Luc Godard also got a special prize for “The Image Book”, a bold, sometimes baffling meditation on the big questions of our time — war, migration and the survival of the planet.



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Gold price up in Kabul

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The price of gold has jumped while that of other essential items remains steady during the outgoing week in the capital Kabul, market source said.

Haji Fawad Ahmad Saleh, a jeweler in Timor Shahi area of Kabul, told Pajhwok Afghan News that the price of one gram of Arabian gold increased from 2,400 Afghanis to 2,450 Afghanis and the same amount of Russian variety from 1,850 Afghanis to 1,900 Afghanis.

He linked hike in gold price to its value in international markets.

The prices of food items remain unchanged.

Food Traders Union head, Fazal Rahman, said that 50 kilograms of Kazakhstani flour cost 1,080afs, 49kg of Pakistani sugar 1,580afs, 16 liter of Khurshid ghee 1,020afs and 24kg of Pakistani rice 2,000afs.

Meanwhile, Noor Ahmad Khairkhwa, a tea seller in Kabul Mandavi, said a kilogram of Indonesian green tea cost 280afs and the same amount of African black tea 300afs — same prices as last week’s.

Ahmad Wali Panjsheri, who owns a grocery store in Dahn-i-Bagh area, sold a 50-kg sack of Kazakhstani flour for 1,140afs, a 49-kg bag of sugar for 1,700afs, a 16-litre tin of ghee for 1,100afs, 24-kg Pakistani rice for 2,200afs, a kilogram of green Indonesian tea for 300afs and the same quantity of black African tea for 350afs—higher than wholesale rates.

The rates of fuel also remain steady.

Abdul Hadi, a worker in Wazirabad Fuel Station, said that one liter of diesel cost 42afs and the same quantity of petrol 44afs.

Ahmadullah, a liquefied gas sellger in Kolola Pushta area of Kabul sold one kilogram of the commodity for 45afs. According to Sadaqat Money Exchange Service, one US dollar accounted for 69.90afs and 1,000 Pakistani rupees for 595afs, against last week rates of 69.50afs and 590 respectively.



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DJI Goggles for Phantom 4 and Mavic Pro

Compared to basic FPV glasses, the DJI Goggles comes with up to 1080P video resolution, Head Tracking, revolutionary OcuSync wireless transmission and lots of other top notch features. The DJI Goggles was specially designed for the Mavic Pro and Phantom 4 series but, through HDMI, can be also used with other flying and not-flying gadgets.

While most of the racing FPV drones adopts open 5.8G video transmission, DJI opted to develop their own long-range wireless video transmission called OcuSync. Their low lag system offers excellent video quality (720p/60fps and even 1080p/30fps for proximity flights). Here are few down-link latency values (near field and free of radio interference):

  • DJI Goggles with Mavic Pro: 110 ms;
  • DJI Goggles with Inspire 2 and X5S camera: 140 ms
  • DJI Goggles with Phantom 4 Pro and Phantom 4 Advanced: 150 ms;
  • DJI Goggles with Phantom 4: 167 ms;
  • DJI Goggles with Inspire 2 and X4S camera: 190 ms.

Thanks to the built-in Gyroscope and Accelerometer sensors you are able to control the aircraft by your head movements. Note: the Head tracking features are not compatible with all the DJI drones.

DJI Goggles lens and lcd

As I previously mentioned, the DJI FPV Glasses are equipped with 1.4b HDMI interface which allows to use it with older Phantom series and other devices (like media players). In case of the Phantom 3 Advanced, you will need to additionally purchase a HDMI Output Module  (sold for $100).

DJI Goggles features and specs

  • Compatible with Mavic Pro, Phantom and Inspire series;
  • Ergonomic design with built-in antennas;
  • Ultra-high quality LCD screen (two 1280 x1440 sections);
  • Intelligent light mode support;
  • Immerse experience;
  • Gyroscope, Accelerometer and Proximity sensors;
  • Intelligent flight modes (Terrain Follow, ActiveTrack, TapFly, Cinematic Mode and Tripod Mode);
  • DJI OcuSync wireless transmission system;
  • 720p/60fps and close range 1080p/30fps video modes;
  • 110 ms least latency;
  • Micro USB input for Phantom 4 series and Inspire 2 to tracking functions and head tracking and firmware update;
  • HDMI input for Phantom 3 (with HDMI Output module), 3rd party drones and medial players;
  • Audio out for headphone;
  • Up to 6 hours operation time.

According to the manufacturer’s specs, the built-in 9440mAh battery allows about 6 hours of continuous operation. Far enough to have couple of flights, even watch a full length movie 🙂

Now, DJI fans can found the FPV Goggles with 40% discount here (including free shipping). This limited time offer ends on 9/30/2107.

Included with the DJI Goggles

  • Headband;
  • Micro USB Cable;
  • HDMI Cable;
  • Wire Clip;
  • Cleaning Cloth;
  • Battery charger.


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Shahbaz Sharif to be new PM of Pakistan, says Ameer Muqam

F.P. Report

PESHAWAR: Adviser to Prime Minister Ameer Muqam Monday said that PML would get overwhelming win in upcoming general elections and Shahbaz Sharif would be new Prime Minister of Pakistan.

The new Prime Minister would change the fate of country by ushering a new era of prosperity and development, adding that Peshawar would also put on path of development and alike Lahore and people would get facilities.

He was talking to media after distribution of Laptop to students of Peshawar University under Prime Minister Laptop scheme.

He said education is a sector where there is always need of increasing budget and PML by initiating laptop scheme took an unprecedented step in higher education sector, adding that if gets chance, PMLN would distribute laptops among all universities and colleges’ students.

He said billions of rupees were distributed and spent on development projects in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa under the head of PM Youth Program. Rs 320 million were returned to students under the head of fee reimbursed program.

Muqam said that PTI chief Imran Khan and PPP’s Bilawal Bhutto were dreaming of premiership and there is nothing wrong with dreaming, but one should have to be practical and keep in the mind the formula of “first deserve then desire”.

He said PTI government claimed various power under 18th constitutional amendment but use those powers for appointment of Vice Chancellors and ignored reforms in education sector in vast interest of students. He said that he was a graduate of Peshawar Engineering University and felt prod while distributing laptops among students of the same varsity, adding that Peshawar University is a well reputed institute of higher education in KP as well as in the world.

He advised students to focus on education instead of other unnecessary activities and emphasized upon teachers to teach students while keeping in mind a vision and a mission to make them a beneficial citizen of the state.

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Mashal lynching case: Court orders transfer of appeals to Peshawar

F.P. Report

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Monday ordered transfer of appeals challenging the anti-terrorism court’s verdict in Mashal Khan lynching case from its regional bench in Abbottabad to the principal seat in the provincial capital.

This order came on a petition filed by the provincial government seeking transfer of the appeals from Abbottabad to Peshawar for hearing at the high court’s principal seat.

The provincial government and parties involved in the case had earlier filed appeals in PHC, challenging the verdict of the ATC in the case. Mashal, 23, a student at Abdul Wali Khan University (AWKU) in Mardan, was beaten and shot to death on April 13 last year by an unruly mob instigated by rumours that he had committed blasphemy by posting sacrilegious content online.

The high court circuit bench in Abbottabad earlier had suspended the conviction of 25 suspects in the  case On February 07,  the ATC sentenced the prime suspect to death while five others to 25 years’ imprisonment in the case.

ATC Judge Fazal-i-Subhan Khan acquitted 26 suspects and awarded three years of jail term to 25 other accused in the case.

Convict Imran, who has been awarded capital punishment, was found guilty of firing shots at the victim student from his pistol, which led to his death.

He had also confessed to the crime before the court. Nearly 50 prosecution witnesses testified against the suspects during the course of the hearing conducted inside Haripur Central Jail.

The prosecution charged 61 people in the case, while 57 of them were arrested and produced before the court for trial.



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Governor presides over Senate meeting of KUST

F.P. Report

PESHAWAR: Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Iqbal Zafar Jhagra presided over the 5th Senate meeting of Kohat University of Science and Technology on Monday here at Governor’s House.

Beside others, Provincial Education Minister Mushtaq Ahmed Ghani, Vice Chancellor, Secretary Higher Education, Secretary Finance and members of the senate were also present on the occasion.

Action taken on minutes of the previous meeting, research projects, performance of the university, KUST Annual report for the year 2016-17. Financial statements of accounts and management letters and budgets estimates for the year 2018-19 were discussed in the meeting.

On the occasion Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa said research work should be promoted it is necessary in this era of development.

Moreover, he added “any delay on part of educational system will not be tolerated”.

He further added, “Students are the precious asset of the nation and educational system based on transparency and merit can bring positive change in society”.

The Senate meeting of the University approved the annual budget of the university for Fiscal Year 2017-18. It also approved to add ten percent of the surplus budget to the Pension Endowment Fund.

A committee was constituted in which representation from higher education; finance and university are ensured in order to approve statutes and anomalies in statutes 2016.

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Stagnant rainwater impedes routine life in city

F.P Report

PESHAWAR: The cloudy weather, gusty winds and heavy rain completely disturbed the routine activities of people on Monday after all main roads remained blocked owing to heavy rainwater.

As per details, the Charsadda, Khyber, University, Gulbahar, Bara Road and others were seen full of rainwater and people who left their offices at afternoon confronted troubles while reaching to their homes. Though, the construction work on bus rapid transit (BRT) doubled the miseries of pedestrians, motorists and public transports.

One of the residents of provincial city, Muhammad Asfaq, while commenting over rainwater said that it took hours to come from office at Warsak Road to University Town as the roads witnessed unexpected water coming from drains, causing impediment in smooth flow of traffic. About dilapidated condition of roads because of construction work on BRT, he stated the road blockade also caused by wreckage and materials of project.

He remarked if the rain takes place in same tone tomorrow or other day, it will utterly jam the entire city and that it will create numerous problems for dwellers of city. He asked for instant action so that smooth traffic flow be ensured at all costs.

Rehmatullah of Charsadda road while experiencing the rain in provincial city said that streets and rainwater submerged the Charsadda road and that the heavy traffic on busy road was witnessed. He said whenever it rains in the city, the streets, drainages and roads come under water and it happens in routine which is a matter of great concern.

According to Pakistan Meteorological department, the partly cloudy weather is expected in most parts of the province and rain-thunderstorm with gusty winds is expected at scattered places in Swat, Shangla, Chitral, Buner, Malakand, Upper & Lower Dir, Abbottabad, Mansehra, Battagram, Kohistan, Haripur, Torghar, Mardan, Swabi, Peshawar, Charsadda, Nowshera, Kohat, Hangu and Karak districts , while at isolated places in  Bannu, Lakki Marwat, D I Khan and Tank districts.

It further informed that partly cloudy weather is expected in coming 48 years in most parts of the province. Till the filing of the story, no damage had been reported by Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) owing to rains in parts of KP and FATA.

However rain-thunderstorm with gusty winds is expected at scattered places in abovementioned areas of KP. However, rain recorded Dir 50 millimeter, Malam jabba, 32, Balakot & Kalam (each) 24, Kakul, 23, Saidu Sharif,20, Timergara, 18, Pattan,17, Kohat,15, Risalpur, Cherat & Mirkhani (each), 07, Parachinar, 06, Drosh, 05, Peshawar, 073 and Chitral, 01.


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21 criminals arrested

F.P. Report

PESHAWAR: The Capital City Police during search operation have arrested 21 criminals and recovered arms and ammunition from their possession, said police on Monday.

The search operation was carried out in the jurisdiction of Chamkani police station and checked out about 100 houses. The police have arrested 21 criminals and recovered one Kalashnikov, eight pistols, four rifles and 100 rounds. The police have registered the cases and further investigation was underway.