Raj Shah, an Indian American spokesman in the White House Press Office, has left President Donald Trump's administration and joined an arm of a Florida-based lobbying firm, officials said. Shah, a former researcher at the Republican National Committee, will lead the Media Group, the press wing of Ballard Partners, a lobbying firm with offices in Florida and Washington, reports said.
He will work with Jamie Rubin, a Democrat who was a spokesman for Madeleine Albright, the former Secretary of State. Shah served in the Trump White House beginning in January 2017 as Deputy Assistant to the President, Deputy Communications Director and Deputy Press Secretary. His portfolio recently included helping prepare Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh for his Senate confirmation hearings to the Supreme Court.
Indian-origin policewoman jailed in Singapore
An Indian-origin policewoman in Singapore has been jailed for five months for forging statement of an alleged molestation victim in a serious dereliction of duty. Senior Staff Sergeant Kalaivani Kalimuthu, 38, was an investigation officer in the case when she committed the offence. Kalaivani handled a case of a woman who was not named. The woman lodged a police complaint, alleging that she was molested by a person. Kalaivani was assigned to conduct an investigation into the case and had to interview the woman and record a further statement. She called the woman but could not arrange an interview with her. As she wanted to complete the investigation quickly, Kalaivani forged the further statement and signed the statement with the woman's name. The forgery came to light when police again approached the victim to record her statement again.
Travel ban to continue on PPP leaders
The Pakistan government has decided to continue a travel ban imposed on top Pakistan Peoples Party leaders, including chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari. The decision was taken at a federal cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan. The cabinet, at its meeting on December 27, had decided to place names of 172 suspects, including top PPP leaders, on the Exit Control List (ECL). However, the Supreme Court ordered the government to review the decision. The cabinet had referred the matter to a special committee to review it. The committee presented its report recommending removal of 20 names from the ECL, including those of the PPP leaders. However, Prime Minister and his team rejected the recommendations and decided that the names of the top leaders of the PPP would remain on the ECL.
Nawaz Sharif's health deteriorates
Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's health has deteriorated in Kot Lakhpat jail, where he is serving a seven-year sentence. Sharif underwent a medical checkup after it was learned that the leader was suffering from a high fever, headache and severe body pain. He has been advised to take caution. His daughter Maryam Nawaz met him after hearing about his ill-health. The 69-year-old PML-N leader was sentenced to seven years in jail on December 24 by accountability court. The former Prime Minister was further directed to pay USD 25 million in fines and also barred from holding a public office for 10 years after the completion of his sentence.
Pakistan decides to shelve major CPEC power project
The Pakistan government has decided to shelve a major power project under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that was pushed by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's regime, the media reported. Discussions with government officials suggest that Islamabad has officially conveyed to Beijing that it was no more interested in the 1,320MW Rahim Yar Khan power project in view of sufficient generation capacity already lined up for the next few years. It has requested China to formally delete the project from the CPEC list. During the coordination committee meeting, a Pakistani delegation "proposed to remove the Rahim Yar Khan imported fuel power plant from the CPEC list, in order to provide structure optimisation space for the subsequent power market of Pakistan", a government official said.
Man jailed for morphing photos of Hasina, Manmohan
A 35-year-old Bangladeshi man has been jailed for seven years in prison for circulating photoshopped images of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and other politicians, including former Indian PM Manmohan Singh, amid criticism that her government is using tough internet laws to silence dissent. Monir Hossain from Tangail was jailed by Bangladesh Cyber Tribunal judge. Monir used to run his ‘Monir Telecom’ shop. He had sent doctored images of Hasina, late president Zillur Rahman and Singh to mobile phones of users in 2013, said the verdict. Rights groups have criticised the government for using the the Information and Communication Technology Act to silence criticism. Critics have lashed out at the government for cracking down on free speech and an authoritarian rule.
China gets radar that can monitor areas of India's size
China has developed a maritime radar which can maintain constant surveillance over an area of the size of India. The domestically-developed radar system will enable the Chinese navy to fully monitor China’s seas and spot incoming threats from enemy ships, aircraft and missiles much earlier than the existing technology, a report said. Liu Yongtan, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering from Harbin Institute of Technology, is credited to have upgraded the radar technology and developing an advanced compact size radar for the PLA Navy’s carrier fleet to “maintain constant surveillance over an area the size of India,” the Post reported.
Man hurts 20 kids at Beijing school with hammer
A 49-year-old man injured 20 children with a hammer inside a primary school in China’s capital, officials said. Three of the children have serious but non-life threatening injuries, district officials said. The suspect, surnamed Jia, was apprehended at the scene. Jia was employed to perform daily maintenance work at the school. His contract was set to expire this month and had not been renewed. As an expression of his dissatisfaction, Jia wielded a hammer to injure students during a class.
Chinese court hands death sentence to Canadian
A Chinese court sentenced a Canadian national Robert Lloyd Schellenberg to death for his alleged involvement in smuggling drugs amid increasing tensions between Canada and China over the recent arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. All his personal assets will also be confiscated, according to the court. Earlier in the day Schellenberg told the court that he had been framed when prosecutors pushed for a harsher sentence in a case which could further exacerbate tensions between the US, Canada and China. In his defence, Schellenberg said he was a tourist framed by criminals, rejecting allegations he had smuggled more than 200 kgs of methamphetamine in China.
Canada grants asylum to Saudi teen who fled family
Canada has granted asylum to an 18-year-old Saudi Arabian teen who fled her family after denouncing Islam, prime minister Justin Trudeau announced. Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun was already en route to Toronto from Thailand when Trudeau made the surprise announcement, after officials had previously hinted that she was bound for Australia. Qunun alleged that she was abused by her family " who deny the allegations " and rights groups also said she had renounced Islam, risking prosecution in Saudi Arabia. Qunun first said she was aiming for Australia where officials had suggested they would give serious consideration to her claim for asylum, which was endorsed as legitimate by the UNHCR.
S Korea orders seizure of Japan assets over forced labour
A South Korean court has ordered the seizure of local assets of a Japanese company after it refused to compensate several wartime forced laborers, in an escalation of a diplomatic brawl between the Asian neighbors. Japan called the decision "extremely regrettable" and said it will push for talks with Seoul on the issue. South Korea's Supreme Court ordered Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. to pay 100 million won ($88,000) each to four plaintiffs forced to work for the company when Japan colonized the Korean Peninsula in 1910-45. But the company refused to follow that ruling. Japan reiterated that all colonial-era compensation issues were settled by a 1965 treaty that restored diplomatic relations between the two governments. Japanese officials said they could take the issue to the International Court of Justice.
Cockpit voice recorder of crashed Lion Air found
Navy divers have located the cockpit voice recorder of Lion Air jet that crashed into the Java Sea in October, 2018 Indonesian officials said, in a possible boost to the accident investigation. Ridwan Djamaluddin, a deputy maritime minister, said that remains of some of the 189 people who died in the crash were also discovered at the seabed location. An Indonesian navy spokesman said divers using high-tech equipment found the voice recorder beneath 8 meters (26 feet) of seabed mud. The plane crashed in waters 30 meters (98 feet) deep. The two-month-old Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet plunged into the Java Sea just minutes after taking off from Jakarta on 29 October, 2018 killing 162 on board. If the voice recorder is undamaged, it could provide valuable information to investigators.
Congo presidential poll results questioned
Kinshasa: The influential Catholic Church has questioned the official results of the Democratic Republic of Congo's controversial presidential election. Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi was named the winner last week. However, the Church, which posted 40,000 election observers, says the result does not match its findings. The runner-up, opposition candidate Martin Fayulu said that he would challenge the official vote count. "The result is a coup and not the truth from the ballot," he said. He accused Tshisekedi of reaching a power-sharing deal with the ruling party, a claim the veteran figure has denied. There are fears the result could trigger unrest, with at least two people killed in the western city of Kikwit. Two police officers were also killed, and 10 people were wounded, another report said. If confirmed, Tshisekedi will be the first opposition challenger to win since the DR Congo gained independence in 1960.