A father and his son were detained by authorities in Saudi Arabia for posing with the Indian flag inside the Haram in Mecca - considered the most holiest place on earth by Muslims. They were released after India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) intervened. Imtiaz Ali, aged 45, and his 12-year-old son Uzair Ali are both residents of Vadodara in Gujarat. Imtiaz, along with his wife and two children, had left for Saudi Arabia on a pilgrimage. Unaware that posing with any flag inside the Haram is prohibited, the father-son duo attempted to click pictures of them with the tricolour. They were spotted by the guards deployed at the sanctum sanctorum, who took them into custody. While Uzair was released hours after being detained, Imtiaz was freed later after the Consulate General in Jeddah intervened.
Indian-origin professor in US used 'students as servants'
An Indian-origin professor in the US compelled his students to act as his personal servants, a daily said. The Kansas City Star daily in a report said that it had found that over professor Ashim Mitra's 24 years as a leader in the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Pharmacy, his students hauled equipment and bused tables at his social events. They were expected to tend his lawn, look after his dog and water the house plants, sometimes for weeks at a time when he and his wife were away. The claims were made by nearly a dozen of Mitra's former students. Former Indian student Kamesh Kuchimanchi told the newspaper that he considered his life at UMKC as "nothing more than modern slavery". "Slavery" to Kuchimanchi meant bailing putrid water from Mitra's basement after a flood and serving food at the professor's Indian cultural celebrations off campus. The students' complaints were corroborated by Mitra's former colleagues, who told the daily that they saw the students performing menial tasks off campus or heard their complaints.
California wildfire death toll rises to 77
With the recovery of one more set of human remains, the total number of people killed in the California wildfire rose to 77. A report released on Sunday said the flames destroyed more than 10,500 homes. Over a thousand names remain on a list of those unaccounted for after the so-called Camp Fire swept through the rural town of Paradise on November 8. Hundreds of volunteers are sifting through ash and debris, searching for human remains before expected rains complicate their efforts. The predicted downpours could wash away telltale fragments of bone, or turn loose, dry ash into a thick paste that would frustrate the search. The fire was 65 per cent contained on Sunday. On Saturday president Donal Trump visited the area to see firsthand the grief and devastation from the deadliest wildfire in a century.
Judge halts Trump's asylum ban
A US federal judge has stopped President Donald Trump's administration from refusing asylum to immigrants who cross the country's southern border illegally. US District Judge Jon S. Tigar issued a temporary restraining order after hearing arguments, NBC News reported. The request was made by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Centre for Constitutional Rights, which quickly sued the administration after Trump issued the ban earlier this month in response to the caravans of migrants that have started to arrive at the US-Mexico border. In a proclamation on November 9, Trump said that anyone who crossed the southern border would be ineligible for asylum. The regulations, which will remain in place for three months absent a court order, could potentially make it harder for thousands of people who enter the US to avoid deportation.
Taliban kill 30 policemen in Af province
An overnight attack by the Taliban on an Afghan police outpost in Farah province killed 30 policemen, Afghan officials said. It was the latest in a series of brutal and near-daily Taliban assaults on the military and police forces, government and other installations throughout the country. The resurgent Taliban did not comment on the attack in Farah. The attacks have been so relentless that authorities no longer provide casualty figures, but unofficial estimates say that about 45 Afghan policemen or soldiers are killed or wounded on a daily basis. In Kabul, lawmaker Samiullah Samim said the Taliban killed all 30 policemen, including the district police commander, Abdul Jabhar.
Israeli defence minister quits over Gaza truce
Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman has resigned in protest against a Gaza ceasefire that he called a "capitulation to terror", weakening Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's conservative coalition government. "Were I to stay in office, I would not be able to look southern residents in the eye," Lieberman said, referring to Israelis subjected to a surge in Palestinian rocket attacks before truce took hold. Lieberman said his resignation also withdraws his far-right Israel Beitenu party from the coalition. That would leave Netanyahu with control of just 61 of the 120 seats in parliament a year before Israel's next election. Israeli political commentators had speculated that Netanyahu, who despite his approval ratings has been dogged by multiple corruption investigations, might bring forward the ballot. But a spokesman for his rightist Likud party played down that option, saying Netanyahu would assume the defence post.
5 face death as Saudi admits Khashoggi was slaughtered
Saudi Arabia called for the death penalty against five people accused of murdering journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate, but absolved the crown prince of any blame.
Khashoggi, the Washington Post contributor and critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was drugged and his body dismembered, a spokesman for the public prosecutor said, in the first Saudi confirmation of how the journalist died. But spokesman Shaalan al-Shaalan denied Prince Mohammed had any knowledge of the killing. The journalist’s body parts were handed over to an agent outside the consulate grounds, Shaalan said. The prosecutor has requested the death penalty for the five who “are charged with ordering and committing the crime and for the appropriate sentences for the other indicted individuals”, Shaalan said. The announcement follows huge international outcry over the killing of the 59-year-old Khashoggi, last seen entering the consulate on October 2.
Never used a computer, says Japan cyber security minister
A Japanese minister in charge of cyber security has provoked astonishment by admitting he has never used a computer in his life, and appearing confused by the concept of a USB drive. Yoshitaka Sakurada, 68, is the deputy chief of the government’s cyber security strategy office and also the minister in charge of the Olympic and Paralympic Games that Tokyo will host in 2020. The minister made the admission at a parliamentary committee meeting when asked by an opposition lawmaker if he was computer literate. “I’ve been independent since I was 25 and have always directed my staff and secretaries to do that kind of thing,” Sakurada replied. “I’ve never used a computer!” He also appeared confused by the question when asked about whether USB drives were in use at Japanese nuclear facilities. “It’s unbelievable that someone who has not touched computers is responsible for cyber security policies,” said opposition lawmaker Masato Imai. And his comments provoked a firestorm online.
Trump grants Melania wish, fires top aide
An angry Donald Trump pushed out a senior advisor after first lady Melania Trump demanded her sacking, with more heads set to roll in a White House reshuffle triggered by infighting and setbacks in the midterm elections. Melania made the extremely rare demand for deputy national security advisor to be fired, saying “It is the position of the office of the first lady that she (Mira Ricardel) no longer deserves the honour of serving in this White House.” The first lady at least partially got her way when presidential spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Ricardel “departs the White House to transition to a new role within the administration.”
7 killed as quakes, landslides hit Indonesia
Seven people were killed and more than 8,000 others fled their homes as landslides and quakes struck Indonesia's West Sulawesi province, officials said. The victims died during evacuation, Pasamboan Pangloli, head of rehabilitation and reconstruction unit of the disaster management agency in the district, said. The landslides also buried at least 8 houses in the district, the official said. More than 8,000 people fled their homes and were taking shelters as several moderate quakes with magnitudes from 5.1 to 5.5 struck the district in the past few days, said Pangloli. West Sulawesi province borders Central Sulawesi province which was devastated by a series of powerful quakes and an ensuing tsunami by the end of September that left over 2,000 people dead.
Woman wears wedding gown as tribute to fiance
An Indonesian woman whose fiance died on a Lion Air flight that crashed was photographed in her wedding dress and professed her love for him on the day they were to have been married. Intan Syari’s fiance, Dr Rio Nanda Pratama, was among 189 people who were killed when the Boeing 737 crashed on October 29. Syari and Pratama, both 26, had planned to get married last week. Pratama, who had attended a seminar in Jakarta, was on his way home to Pangkal Pinang for the wedding. Syari said Pratama had joked before leaving that if he was late in returning, Syari should take photos in her wedding gown and send them to him. “He asked me to put on makeup and hold a white rose bouquet, take photos,” Syari said. She said Pratama was her “first love” and they started dating 13 years ago.
Santa begins answering Xmas wish mail in Germany
Santa Claus and his helpers have begun answering Christmas letters from children around the world sent to a special post office in the German town of Himmelpfort. Germany’s Deutsche Post says it has already received nearly 12,000 letters to the office that it opens annually. The longest journey made by a letter so far is from South Africa. All letters received between now and December 16 will be personally answered by Santa or one of 20 helpers before Christmas.
Woman beats restaurant manager over ketchup
Police are seeking a woman who punched and choked a McDonald’s manager because she wanted ketchup. Police in California, say the assault took place when the drive-thru customer entered the restaurant through an employee door and asked for the condiment. Video released by police shows the woman attack the manager after she was told she could not be in the building.