Vedant Patel, the principal deputy spokesperson for the US department of state, has scripted history by becoming the first Indian American to hold the daily state department press briefing, earning plaudits from senior White House officials for his “utmost professionalism” and “amazing debut”. With state department spokesperson Ned Price on vacation, the Patel from California appeared at the briefing room to represent the country on foreign policy issues before the media.
During his briefing, Patel covered topics ranging from Russia’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine, negotiations around the Iranian nuclear issue and Liz Truss becoming the PM of the UK. Patel, who was born in Gujarat, has previously served as an assistant press secretary and spokesperson for President Joe Biden in the White House.
Ro Khanna tables bill for CAATSA waiver for India
Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna has introduced a standalone bill in the US House of Representatives looking for a waiver to India against the punitive CAATSA sanctions, asserting that it is in the best interests of both countries to deter “aggressors” in light of Russia and China’s close ties. The resolution, which has also been recognized by Congressman Brad Sherman and David Schweikert along with Khanna, has been sent to the House foreign affairs committee for necessary action. “While India faces immediate needs to maintain its heavily Russian-built weapons systems, a waiver to sanctions under the CAATSA during this transition period is in the best interests of the US and the US-India defence partnership to deter aggressors in light of Russia and China's close partnership,” it said.
Imran escapes plane crash
A plane carrying former Pakistani PM Imran Khan escaped a crash as the aircraft made an emergency landing on Saturday due to technical glitch midair, according to local media. Daily Pakistan newspaper citing a local TV channel report said that Imran was on his way to Gujranwala by a special plane to address a rally. As per the publication, the pilot of the plane contacted the control tower and requested for permission to land the plane. He then managed to land the plane safely. Imran continued his journey to Gujranwala by road after the emergency landing.
Pak PM's assurance on ‘forced disappearances’
Pak PM Shehbaz Sharif appeared in the Islamabad high court and assured the chief justice of making all-out efforts for the recovery of missing persons who were allegedly picked up by security agencies on suspicion of being involved in anti-state activities. He was asked by the court to take the matter of enforced disappearances to parliament to legislate on it, as “India and other countries” have done. Enforced disappearances are a persistent problem and activists claim that the law enforcement agencies, particularly ISI, are responsible. The security agencies, however, deny it.
Israel recalls Morocco envoy
Israel has recalled its top envoy to Morocco amid an internal investigation, a diplomatic source said, amid media reports that it was tied to allegations of sexual misconduct. Israeli public broadcaster Kan reported that a foreign ministry delegation had been dispatched to Rabat, following sexual abuse allegations against envoy David Govrin. An Israeli diplomatic source confirmed that Govrin had been recalled while an investigation gets underway, without detailing the nature of the probe. According to Israeli media, the envoy is facing allegations of exploiting Moroccan women, sexual harassment and indecent exposure.
23 migrants found crammed into a delivery van
Police in Switzerland said that they found 23 migrants packed into the back of a delivery van during a traffic check on a highway. The Italian-registered vehicle was stopped as it headed northward on the A2 highway at Buochs, near the central city of Lucerne, police in Nidwalden canton (state) said. Officers found the migrants crammed into the windowless cargo area of the van. Police said they were standing and had been shut in the van for several hours without a break. The migrants were aged between 20 and 50 and were from Afghanistan, India, Syria and Bangladesh, police said. They said they wanted to travel to European countries outside Switzerland.
Putin seeks closer ties with India, China
Russian President Vladimir Putin approved a new foreign policy doctrine based around the concept of a “Russian World”, a notion that conservative ideologues have used to justify intervention abroad in support of Russian-speakers. The “humanitarian policy” says Russia should “protect, safeguard and advance the ideals of the Russian World”. The new policy says Russia should increase cooperation with Slavic nations, China, and India, and further strengthen its ties to the West Asia, Latin America and Africa.
A man in Japan gets paid to do nothing
Shoji Morimoto has what some would see as a dream job: he gets paid to do pretty much nothing. The 38-year-old Tokyo resident charges 10,000 yen ($71) per booking to accompany clients and simply exist as a companion. “Basically, I rent myself out. My job is to be wherever my clients want me to be and to do nothing in particular,” Morimoto said, adding that he had handled some 4,000 sessions in the past four years. Morimoto now boasts nearly a quarter of a million followers on Twitter, where he finds most of his clients. Roughly a quarter of them are repeat customers, including one who has hired him 270 times.
Last suspect in Canada’s knife rampage dies
The last suspect in the stabbing rampage that killed 10 and wounded 18 in western Canada is dead following his capture, and police hope the stunning end to a gripping hunt that stretched into a fourth day will bring some peace to victims’ families. One official said Myles Sanderson, 32, died from self-inflicted injuries after police forced the stolen car he was driving off a highway in Saskatchewan. Other officials declined to discuss how he died, but expressed relief the final suspected killer was no longer on the loose.
Typhoon batters S Korea
The most powerful typhoon to hit South Korea in years dumped a metre (3 feet) of rain, destroyed roads and fell power lines, but the death toll of three could have been higher if not for proactive evacuations and closures of schools, officials said. There was also greater public awareness about the storm and its risks. Typhoon Hinnamnor made impact just weeks after heavy rains around the capital Seoul caused flooding that killed at least 14 people. Government officials had put the nation on high alert for days as Hinnamnor approached, warning of potentially historic destruction and putting in motion life-saving measures.
Dutch city bans meat ads
The Dutch city of Haarlem is set to become the first in the world to ban advertisements for most meat because of its impact on climate change, officials said. The city of 1,60,000 people near Amsterdam has agreed to outlaw ads for intensively farmed meat on public places like buses, shelters and screens from 2024. The move was approved by the city council in November, but went unnoticed until last week when a councillor announced he had officially notified advertising agencies. “It will be the first city in the Netherlands - and in fact Europe and indeed the world - to ban ‘bad’ meat ads in public places,” Ziggy Klazes, councillor for the GroenLinks (Green-Left) party who drafted the motion, said.