Indian UN peacemakers in Sudan honoured

Wednesday 04th May 2022 07:44 EDT

Over 1,100 Indian peacekeepers serving with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) were awarded UN medals, honouring them for their exceptional service in the strife-torn African country.
The UNMISS “peacekeepers don’t ‘just’ protect civilians, some 1,160 troops from India in South Sudan also rehabilitate roads and give medical treatment to humans & animals. For that they deserve UN medals,” the UNMISS tweeted. The Indian peacekeepers currently serving in the country were honoured with UN medals “for their outstanding work”, including protecting civilians, performing engineering assignments and providing health services to people, a news report posted on the UNMISS website said.

Pak PM's son takes oath as Punjab CM

The son of Pakistan’s PM Shehbaz Sharif took charge of Punjab province, the country’s most politically important region, further bolstering the dynasty’s grip on power. Nepotism and cronyism are deeply entrenched in the nation, with power mostly shared between two families - the Sharifs and the Bhuttos - for much of Pakistan’s history. It comes weeks after cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan was ousted from power in a no-confidence vote when the usually feuding families formed an opposition coalition. Hamza Sharif took over as CM of Punjab - the country’s richest, most populous and politically influential province - after weeks of deadlock. The region’s governor and a Khan loyalist refused to swear in the new chief, elected by the provincial assembly, forcing Lahore HC to step in.

Blasphemy law against Imran, 150 others

A case under blasphemy law was registered against Pakistan’s ousted PM Imran Khan and 150 others, including some members of his former cabinet, in connection with the hounding of PM Shehbaz Sharif and his delegation at Masjid-e-Nabwi in Saudi Arabia, officials said. Videos posted on social media showed some Pakistani pilgrims shouting ‘chor’ (thief) and ‘gaddar’ (traitor) as soon as Sharif and members of his delegation arrived at the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina. Medina police claim to have arrested five Pakistanis involved in the sloganeering. Meanwhile, Punjab police registered an FIR against Imran Khan and 150 others. The case has been registered in Faisalabad on the complaint of resident Naeem Bhatti on the charges of desecration of the mosque, hooliganism and hurting religious sentiments, they said.

Bilawal takes oath as Pak foreign minister

Former PM Benazir Bhutto’s son and Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari took oath as foreign minister in PM Shehbaz Sharif’s cabinet, which also has Hina Rabbani Khar as the minister of state for foreign affairs. PresidentArif Alvi administered the oath in the presence of the PM Sharif at a ceremony that was attended by cabinet members and senior politicians, including the 33-year-old Bilawal’s father and former president Asif Ali Zardari and younger sister Aseefa. Aseefa described her brother as the country’s youngest foreign minister in a post on Twitter.

50 killed, 21 injured in Kabul mosque blast

A powerful explosion killed more than 50 worshippers after Friday prayers at a Kabul mosque, its leader said, amid a series of attacks on civilian targets in Afghanistan during the holy month of Ramadan. The blast hit the Khalifa Sahib Mosque in the west of the capital, said Besmullah Habib, deputy spokesman for interior ministry, who said the official confirmed death toll was 10. The source of explosion was not immediately known and no one has claimed responsibility for the blast.
The attack came as worshippers at the Sunni mosque gathered after Friday prayers for a congregation known as Zikr - an act of religious remembrance. Sayed Fazil Agha, the head of the mosque, said someone they believed was a suicide bomber joined them in the ceremony and detonated explosives.

Kamala Harris tests positive for Covid

US Vice President Kamala Harris has tested positive for Covid-19, the White House said, becoming the latest top official in Washington to contract the coronavirus. A spokesperson for the vice president said in a statement that Harris had not been in close contact with President Joe Biden or his wife Jill Biden “due to their respective recent travel schedules”. Earlier this month, top US cabinet members and key lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, also tested positive for Covid. Several White House aides and Harris’s husband, Douglas Emhoff, have also contracted the virus in recent weeks. But Biden, who tests regularly for Covid, has not been infected despite the outbreaks in US political circles, the White House has said.

British Virgin Islands premier held over drug trafficking

British Virgin Islands Premier Andrew Fahie was arrested in Miami on allegations that he was trying to help a presumed drug trafficking organisation smuggle thousands of kilos of Colombian cocaine through the UK territory and into the US. The director of the British Virgin Islands’ ports, Oleanvine Pickering Maynard, and her son were also arrested, as per the criminal complaint issued by the US district court of southern Florida. As per the complaint, Fahie agreed to provide protection for drug shipments in exchange for 12% of the profits. The first proposed shipment of 3,000 kg would have earned him some $7.8 million.

Miners stop Ramaphosa's May Day speech

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa abandoned his Workers' Day speech in the northwestern city of Rustenburg on Sunday when striking mineworkers stormed the stage. The workers employed by Sibanye-Stillwater mine are demanding a wage increase of 1,000 rand (63 US dollars) per month instead of the 850 rand (54 US dollars) being offered by the mine. Ramaphosa was booed as he started his address with a call for the striking workers and other members of the Congress of South African Trade Unions to calm down and listen to what he had to say. "We have heard that you want your 1,000 rand. We will deal with that matter," Ramaphosa told the protesting workers.

Death threat to Israeli PM’s family

The family of Israeli PM Naftali Bennett has received a death threat and bullet in the mail for the second time this week, the police said. According to an Israeli official, the target of the threats was Bennett’s 17-year-old son. Officials have not said who might be behind the threats. Bennett, who leads a small nationalist party, has come under heavy criticism from Israeli hardliners who accuse him of abandoning his ideology. Tensions have been heightened with the Palestinians recently following a series of deadly Palestinian attacks in Israeli cities, Israeli military raids in the occupied West Bank and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at a sensitive Jerusalem holy site.

Ghana’s first president to be reburied

One of Ghana’s opposition political parties, The Convention People’s Party (CPP) has announced plans to rebury the country’s first president Dr Kwame Nkrumah. General Secretary of the party, Nana Yaa Jantua claims that the freedom fighter was not given a befitting burial hence the decision for the reburial which has been planned for November this year. The CPP believes the “restless” soul of Kwame Nkrumah needs to rest, she told local media during a visit to the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum on while celebrating 50 years since the demise of Nkrumah. The party also added that “in no time, the CPP will bring out the timetable of activities that will culminate in the actual funeral and will also inaugurate a funeral committee in due course.”

Oklahoma to outlaw nearly all abortions

The Oklahoma legislature approved two bills that would ban virtually all abortions, and both Republican-composed laws would take effect immediately if governor signs them as he has promised. Oklahoma would become the most restrictive US state for abortions under the bill passed by the state Senate to ban them except in cases of medical emergency, rape or incest. Earlier, the state’s House of Representatives approved a separate piece of legislation to ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The Senate had previously approved that measure. “The goal of this bill is to protect unborn children,” Senator Julie Daniels, a Republican, said.

Bali to deport man for dancing naked

A Canadian actor and self proclaimed wellness guru is facing deportation from Indonesia’s Bali island after a video of him dancing naked at a sacred mountain went viral. Jeffrey Craigen posted a video of himself doing the Haka - a ceremonial dance in New Zealand’s Maori culture - while nude on top of Mount Batur, a volcano considered holy by many Balinese. He was detained and questioned following a deluge of complaints from social media users accusing him of disrespecting Balinese religious values. Craigen is currently awaiting deportation - but authorities say airlines are reluctant to help because he is not vaccinated against Covid-19. “Airlines have not agreed (to transport him),” the head of Denpasar immigration office Tedy Riyandi said.

Children should get surnames of both parents: Italy court

Italian children should be given the surname of both parents, the constitutional court said, overturning the tradition by which all newborns are automatically named after their father. The current practice is “discriminatory and harmful to the identity” of the child, the court said, adding that both parents should be able to choose the surname. Children should be given both parents’ surnames in the order they decide, unless they agree their children should take just one of them, it added. New legislation, to be approved by parliament, is now required to implement the decision. Family minister Elena Bonetti said the government will fully support parliament in this process. “We need to give substance (to the decision) . . . and it is a high priority,” she wrote

Moscow frees US ex-Marine in prisoner swap

The US and Russia swapped prisoners amid their most tense relations in decades over the war in Ukraine, with former US marine Trevor Reed released in exchange for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko. The swap, was not part of broader diplomatic talks and did not represent an American change in approach on Ukraine, US officials said. Reed was convicted in Russia in 2019 of endangering the lives of two police officers while drunk on a visit to Moscow. The US called his trial a “theater of the absurd”. US officials said President Joe Biden commuted the sentence of Yaroshenko, who was arrested in Liberia in 2010 and convicted for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the US.

Russian gas supply to Poland halted

Russia has halted gas deliveries to Poland, according to local media, the latest ratcheting up of tensions between Moscow and European capitals over crucial energy supplies. European gas prices surged as much as 17% after the reports, which cited government sources. Without confirming the report, the Polish government said it has enough gas in storage, and the gas system operator said it was ready for potential cuts. Moscow and Europe are locked in a standoff over how gas should be paid for and President Putin has threatened to halt supplies if demands aren’t met. Poland has made clear it won’t pay in roubles. It reiterated that position last week.

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