Texas: A woman from Texas was killed while shielding her son from a tree knocked down by high winds in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee last week, according to her family. Pediatrician Laila Jiwani, 42, was hiking with her husband and three children on Porter Creek Trail when the tree fell, park spokesman Mike Litterst said. Litterst said one of her children was also injured. The spokesman said the 6-year-old was airlifted to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Jiwani’s husband Taufiq wrote that their son suffered a broken leg and superficial head injuries during a “simple/safe” hike, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. Jiwani said doctors told him his wife took most of the impact and saved her son.
Indian-American wins Cornell University hackathon
An Indian-American teenager has won the inaugural "Digital Transformation Hackathon" at Cornell University for designing a device to detect the actual pain level of a patient during a diagnosis. The device designed by 17-year-old Mahum Siddiqi and her team uses neurological activity occurring in one's brain to help doctors more efficiently determine someone's pain levels. "It's incredibly upsetting and problematic how hypothetical the concept of pain diagnostics is. Doctors have no way of knowing how little or how much pain someone is truly experiencing when they go in to be diagnosed," Siddiqi said in a statement. A Class 12 student at Vestal High School in New York, Siddiqi was the only non-graduate student competing at the hackathon held earlier in December. She and her team won the first prize at the competition, and are now working with representatives from companies such as Microsoft to produce a prototype of their pain-detecting device, the statement added.
3 teenage Indian siblings killed in US house fire
Three teenaged Indian siblings were among four people killed in a fire during Christmas celebrations at a house in the US state of Tennessee, according to media reports. The fire killed a woman and the three Indian teens from Telangana who were staying with her family for Christmas. The parents of the siblings have been identified as one Srinivas Naik and Sujatha and are residents of Nalgonda district of Telangana. According to a report, Srinivas, who worked as a pastor in the US, returned last year. The children, however, stayed back to complete their studies. The siblings were holidaying at the Coudriet home on December 23 when the fire started. The Coudriet family was hosting the three teenagers, who were attending the French Camp Academy in Mississippi. When the school closed for winter break, the students could not return to India, so the Coudriets invited them to stay in their home.
Indian commits suicide in UAE
A 35-year-old Indian man was found hanging at his accommodation in Ras Al Khaimah city in the UAE and a suicide note found from his phone said he took the drastic step due to several health issues, authorities said. The deceased, Rinoj Raveendran, hailed from Kerala and had been working in Al Ghail industrial area as an accountant. "The deceased, who has a son studying in Kerala, left a note on his mobile phone saying no one (should) be held responsible for his death and that he was taking the extreme step due to health issues. I don't understand why people fail to seek help instead of ending their lives and leaving their family devastated," said social worker Sreedharan.
Suicide attack kills 43 in Kabul
The death toll from an attack in the Afghan capital has climbed to 43, the health ministry said, as police and rescue workers combed through the smoldering public welfare building where the gunmen held out for eight hours against security forces. The attack began when the suicide bomber blew up his explosives-laden car in front of a government building in an eastern neighbourhood of Kabul. Some of the attackers rampaged through the building of the ministry for martyrs and disabled persons taking workers hostage, and others fought a prolonged gun battle with local security forces. One policeman was killed and three militants were gunned down during seven hours of fighting inside the government compound. Health ministry spokesman Wahid Majroh said so far 43 bodies and 10 injured had been transported from the attack site.
Seven Pak pilots sacked
Pakistan’s national carrier has terminated the contracts of over 50 employees, including seven pilots, after they were found guilty of holding fake degrees. The directives were issued in view of the proceedings of Pakistan’s Supreme Court against pilots and cabin crews with fake degrees and certificates. “Action has been taken against the PIA employees after the respective educational institutions found their degrees bogus/fake,” a statement issued by the Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said. Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) spokesperson Mashood Tajwar said that a probe has been initiated into the cases of all staffers who were hired holding sham degrees.
Lanka takes action against China cos
Sri Lanka has initiated action against Chinese projects that are flouting local language laws in the country. Several Chinese project sites in the South-Asian island nation were found to be using Mandarin and English language for the sign boards and ignoring the official languages — Sinhala and Tamil. Minister of national integration official languages, social progress and Hindu religious affairs, Mano Ganesan, tweeted that action has been initiated against such sites. “We can’t tolerate violations of local language laws at Chinese sites in Sri Lanka. We wish to provide assistance, if any required and plan to engage with all including the Chinese embassy.” Mano initiated action after receiving complaints.
Egyptian police kill 40 ‘terrorists’
Egyptian police killed 40 “terrorists” in raids, a day after a roadside bomb near the Giza pyramids killed three Vietnamese tourists and an Egyptian guide, the interior ministry said. Two raids in the Giza governorate killed 30 “terrorists”, while the remaining 10 were killed in the restive North Sinai, the ministry said in a statement. The authorities acted after receiving information that the suspects were preparing a series of attacks against state and tourist institutions and churches, it said. “Information was received by the national security that a group of terrorists were planning to carry out a series of aggressive attacks targeting state institutions, particularly economic ones, as well as tourism, armed forces, police and Christian places of worship.”
Taiwan president rejects China's reunification calls
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen said the island would not accept a "one country, two systems" political arrangement with China, while stressing all cross-strait negotiations needed to be on a government-to-government basis. Tsai spoke after Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a speech earlier that nobody can change the fact that Taiwan is part of China, and that people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should seek "reunification". Tsai also urged China to understand Taiwanese people's thinking and needs. In a new year's speech earlier this week, Tsai said China must use peaceful means to resolve its differences with Taiwan and respect its democratic values.
Survey finds FB least trusted tech company
In a reflection of what a series of data leaks and scandals has done to damage the reputation of Facebook, a new survey has found that the world’s largest social network leads the list of companies that people trust the least. According to a survey of 1,000 people conducted earlier this month by research company Toluna, 40% of respondents said they trusted Facebook the least with their personal information, PCMag.com reported. Facebook is followed by Twitter and Amazon which tied for the second position with lack of trust from 8% of the respondents for each of the companies. They are followed by Uber and Google. While 7% of the respondents said they did not trust Uber with their personal data, 6% said the same of Google. Microsoft and Apple fared comparatively well.
Michelle beats Hillary as most admired woman
Former first lady Hillary Clinton’s 17-year run as the woman Americans admire most is over. Another former first lady, Michelle Obama, has deposed Clinton as America’s most admired woman, according to a Gallup poll. Ex-president Barack Obama was named the man Americans admire most for the 11th year in a row, Gallup said. President Trump finished second in the poll for the fourth year in a row. Gallup has conducted the annual poll every year since 1946 with the exception of 1976. About 15% of the 1,025 Americans polled said the woman they admire most is Michelle Obama. TV host Oprah Winfrey was second with 5% followed by Hillary Clinton and first lady Melania Trump with 4%.
Australia swelters in record heatwave
Australia went through one of its hottest Decembers ever, the national weather bureau said, prompting fire bans, health warnings and big crowds trying to cool off at beaches. As the country's hottest town, Marble Bar in the remote northwest, endured its warmest day ever, forecasters said the heat would spread southeast where the big cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide would endure monthly average temperatures up to 16 degrees Celsius higher than usual. The capital, Canberra, registered its hottest December day on record - 39C (102F) last week. The unusually high temperatures add to a sense of exhaustion for a farm economy already reeling from a year of drought.
Angelina Jolie may plunge into politics
Angelina Jolie has not ruled out a move into politics - and has joked she might be tough enough to take the rough and tumble that comes with it. She told BBC radio she “can take a lot on the chin” - a possible reference to her divorce from Brad Pitt. When asked if she is moving in the direction of politics, she said, “I honestly will do whatever I think can really make change”.
Woman jailed for ‘sexually harassing’ monkey
An Egyptian court has sentenced a 25-year-old woman to three years in prison for “sexually harassing” a monkey, state daily Al-Ahram reported. A court charged Basma Ahmed with “inciting debauchery” and “committing an obscene act in public”, a source told the daily. She was arrested in October after a video of the incident went viral, Al-Ahram said. The video shows Ahmed touching the genitals of a monkey at a pet shop and making sexual innuendos as people around her chuckle.
99-year-old gets letter from former fiance after 77 years
A 99-year-old grandmother has received a love letter from her former fiance 77 years after he went missing in the Second World War. Phyllis Ponting was given the note after it was salvaged from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, where the ship transporting it is presumed to have sunk in 1941. The last message Ponting had sent to her fiance, Bill Walker, who was serving in India, was one in which she accepted his marriage proposal - she thought his lack of response meant he had changed his mind, until now. In the letter, Walker recalls how he “wept with joy” upon receiving her acceptance. To this day, Ponting doesn’t know if Walker survived the War.
China to mark Year of the Pig with ‘Peppa Pig’ movie
China is set to mark the Year of the Pig with a film starring “Peppa Pig”, despite a backlash against the popular British cartoon character earlier this year. A government document listing upcoming movie projects shows a new film in the works titled ‘Peppa Pig Celebrates Chinese New Year’ to be released in February 2019 during the Lunar New Year holiday.