IS claims responsibility for Kabul attack

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for an attack on the Iraqi embassy in Kabul that began with a suicide bomber blowing himself up at the main gate, allowing gunmen to enter the building and battle security forces.

Monday's attack comes a week after 35 people were killed in a Taliban attack on government workers in the Afghan capital and underlines the country's precarious security as the United States weighs an overhaul of its policy in the region.

"Our forces are inside and a clearance operation is underway," said Afghan interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish, adding that embassy personnel were safe, although embassy guards and nearby civilians might have suffered casualties.
Danish put the number of gunmen in the building at three.

Islamic State's Amaq agency said two attackers had blown up the gate, killing seven guards, and two fighters had broken into the compound.
IS has carried out a series of high-profile attacks in Kabul, mainly targeting members of the mainly Shi'ite Hazara community, and fuelling concerns of a possible spillover into Afghanistan from fighting in Syria and Iraq.

The local branch of the movement, often called Daesh, is often known as Islamic State in Khorasan (ISIS-K), after an old name for the region that now includes Afghanistan.

cred: Reuters

Ally Of Pakistan's Ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Nominated To Replace Him

Former petroleum minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Monday stressed he would continue Nawaz Sharif's policies.

ISLAMABAD:  A close ally of ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday submitted papers in parliament to become new premier, part of a two-part plan by the ruling party for a smooth transition that will see Mr Sharif's brother take the reins later.

Former petroleum minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is expected to be elected new prime minister on Tuesday by Mr Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party's majority of lawmakers.

Pakistan's Supreme Court ordered Mr Sharif disqualified from office last week over unreported income uncovered during a sweeping investigation of his finances.

The court also ordered a separate criminal investigation into Mr Sharif and his family in its ruling, which the ousted prime minister's allies have portrayed as political meddling but opposition leader Imran Khan has hailed as a victory for the rule of law.

Mr Abassi on Monday stressed he would continue Nawaz Sharif's policies. His tenure is expected to last only about two months until Mr Sharif's brother, Shahbaz, becomes eligible to be prime minister by winning a parliamentary by-election.

"Our party will succeed with our majority, God willing," Mr Abassi told reporters inside parliament after filing the official nomination papers.

"The policies we had until Friday, we will continue with that," he added.

Mr Sharif's PML-N party won elections in 2013 and holds a majority with 188 seats in the 342-member parliament, so it should be able to swiftly install its choice of premier, barring any defections from its own ranks.

Nawaz Sharif said over the weekend he was shocked by Friday's Supreme Court ruling disqualifying him from office over unreported income from a company owned by his son in Dubai. Mr Sharif said the monthly salary - equivalent to $2,722 - was nominal and he never actually received any of it.

The Supreme Court employed little-used Article 62 of the Constitution, which calls for the dismissal of any lawmaker deemed dishonest, to remove Sharif. His allies believe the verdict smacks of judicial overreach. Others say privately that elements of the military had a hand in the process.

Cred:  Reuters 

Kremlin Says Washington Can Decide Which Embassy Staff To Cut

Washington is free to choose the diplomats it wants to take out of Russia, after Kremlin demanded US embassy staff to be cut down.

MOSCOW:  Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday it would be up to Washington to choose which of its diplomatic staff in Russia would be cut after Russia demanded that it reduce 755 staff members in response to new US sanctions.

He said that Russian citizens working for the United States embassy could be among the 755 staff to go, as well as US diplomats.

Moscow did not wait until President Donald Trump signs the new sanctions into law because "there was no point in waiting" after the legislation was adopted in Congress, Peskov told reporters on a conference call.


Pakistan Expresses Concern Over North Korea's Long-Range Nuclear Missile

Pakistan's Foreign Office said that North Korea's actions are in contravention to the UN Security Council resolutions and undermine peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula as well as North East Asia.

ISLAMABAD:  Pakistan today expressed concern over the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile by North Korea and asked Pyongyang to refrain from actions that could lead to escalation of tensions in the region and beyond.

On Friday, North Korea fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that experts say has the potential to reach the US mainland.

Pakistan's Foreign Office said that North Korea's actions are in contravention to the UN Security Council resolutions and undermine peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula as well as North East Asia.

"We continue to urge the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) to comply with its obligations under the UN Security Council resolutions and to refrain from actions that could lead to escalation of tensions in the region and beyond," it said.

"We call on all relevant parties to pursue the path of dialogue and diplomacy to reduce tensions and work towards achieving a comprehensive solution," it said.

North Korea has fired 18 missiles during 12 tests since February, further perfecting its technology with each launch.

On July 4, North Korea conducted its first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which it claims could reach "anywhere in the world."

The UN Security Council has already imposed six rounds of progressively tougher sanctions against North Korea.

cred: Press Trust Of India

Ashley Madison relaunches in Australia

‘We’re just trying to help people have a better affair’

“AS Oscar Wilde said, the only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about,” says Ashley Madison’s vice president of communications, Paul Keable.

Remember Ashley Madison?

The online dating website marketed to married or coupled-up people looking to have an affair suffered a public relations disaster in July 2015, when hackers released the personal details of 35 million members online - almost all its users worldwide.

Marriages ended and friendships dissolved. According to Mr Keable, Ashley Madison’s sign-up rate halved.

The company pulled all ad campaigns bearing its slogan: “Life is short. Have an affair.” It’s since been changed to “Find your moment”.

The service marketed as the discreet way to cheat suddenly lost its trump card - privacy.

A joint investigation by Canada and Australia’s Privacy Commissioners found Ashley Madison’s parent company Avid Life Media (ALM) “did not have appropriate safeguards in place considering the sensitivity of the personal information ... nor did it take reasonable steps in the circumstances to protect the personal information it held.”

ALM, now rebranded as Ruby Corp, were given a deadline, which ends today, to obtain independent third party assurance that it had adopted the report’s recommendations and secured its members’ data.
Ruby Corp hired Ontario’s former Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian to overhaul its privacy and data policies.

“We have received our Privacy by Design certification, which is an important certification,” Mr Keable told by phone from Toronto, where Ashley Madison’s main office is based.
“We have put privacy of our members’ data at the heart of our business and we now look at data as something that is sacred to us,” Mr Keable said.

“Our members are trusting us with something that is incredibly important. We were working to address a lot of issues internally and focus on what we needed to do was deliver and overdeliver on their expectations.”
Ashley Madison launched its new-and-improved website in the US and Canada earlier this month and is now rolling out the PR offensive in Australia, one of its biggest markets, in an attempt to increase user numbers.

There are 54 million Ashley Madison accounts worldwide, Mr Keable claims, and 12,000 Australians join the site every month. Aussies make 17,000 “unique connections”, or matches, a month.
Mr Keable is used to having to defend his job. But one of modern culture’s last sexual taboos - cheating - is not a moral issue for him.

“What we offer isn’t necessarily infidelity ... it’s helping those who have an itch to scratch in private and we do,” he said.

“Divorce is a no-fault exercise and now that we have women in the workforce, they have opportunities to seek out affairs as men have been doing for years.
“People change. All of a sudden you’re 10 to 15 years into your marriage and you’re no longer the person you once were.”

Many Ashley Madison users never actually meet up in real life.
“Some people just look and the thrill of having an account is exhilarating enough. We have people who just cyber chat. For them, chatting is enough,” Mr Keable said.
“I spoke to a woman a month ago … she met a married man on Ashley Madison. They chatted, both got divorced and they just got married last May.

“Another woman I spoke to said she’s met up with 50 men and she’s slept with about 30 of them. Love is what it wants to be.”

Some users are looking to satisfy sexual desires otherwise ignored in their marriage, but have no intention of pursuing an emotional relationship or getting divorced.
“We are probably the best marriage counselling service in the world,” Mr Keable said.
“[The couple] is still emotionally connected. They don’t really desire to leave the relationship, but there’s something missing. We offer them the discretion to explore how far they want to scratch that itch.”

Mr Keable argues that infidelity is inevitable. We all know someone who has cheated or been cheated on, or done it ourselves, so why all the pearl-clutching?

“What we’re really doing is just being able to be more honest with people. If you’re going to do it, don’t do it in the way you’ve traditionally done, which is in the workplace, our biggest competitor,” he said.

“You’re risking your job and you don’t want to do that. Same with social circles - your neighbour, your sister in law - you’re more likely to get caught.
“When anyone challenges me, I say affairshave happened before us and they will continue to happen long after we’re gone.

“People have always sought out infidelity. It’s human nature. We’re just trying to help people have a better affair.”


Buying Wedding Gown

Buying Your Wedding Gown Tips

You've checked out a large number of bridal magazines and countless dresses and lastly you’ve found a few they enjoy. OK now what? Mind off and away to a bridal shop with images of the dresses you are looking at buying. There's a couple of questions you have to ask before searching at the first dress. Discover, is it necessary to make a scheduled appointment to test dresses? Will the store carry dresses that suit your financial allowance?  Would they order the gown you present in the Sunday paper? Can they permit you to see the whole collection or are you currently restricted to the things they choose to inform you?

Once these questions happen to be clarified and you've got found an outfit that you will like, there are other inquiries to be requested. Can this neckline be altered to some scoop neck rather of the vee? Can the gown take place for twenty-four hrs as i think about it? Go home and relax, return in 24 hrs and find out should you still like it. If that's the case then put lower the deposit.

If however you do not just like a dress, however your mother or friend loves it , again wait 24 hrs after which return for an additional look. Should you still hate it don’t purchase it. It's your wedding and also you will not be happy should you not feel beautiful. Once you have selected the gown, the seamstress will measure your bust, waist sides and waist to floor length, after which will show you what alterations is going to be needed. Pretty much every dress needs some alterations. You will have to have fittings a minimum of 2 or 3 occasions.

If alterations are essential, what's the cost? Request a written estimate for that alterations. If your shop wont provide you with a quote, run don’t walk to a different shop. Also ask if you purchase the bridesmaids dresses there, will they provide you with free or discounted alterations. Also determine whether you can acquire a hurry around the dress if required. Additionally, you will need to know when the dress is within stock or does it need to be purchased? Are you able to “borrow” your dress for any formal portrait after which take it back for any final pressing? Pay having a charge card, that method for you to dispute the costs, if your problem arises.

Next you need to pick the headpiece and veil to choose your dress.  The kind of veil you depends upon design for your dress. Veils are available in several styles and lengths. You would not desire a Cathedral veil if you're putting on an easy street length dress. At the same time, you will not desire a shoulder length, fly away wispy veil if you're putting on a proper gown having a lengthy train.

Once the wedding has ended, where do you turn with this beautiful costly dress? Ask the bridal shop or wedding consultant, for the a dependable gown preservationist. The preservationist will clean clothing, then wrap it in acidity-free tissue paper, or white-colored cotton muslin after which put it within an acidity free box. You will probably pay between 200

and 400 dollars with this service.  Be skeptical of somebody who insists upon sign a disclaimer, saying they aren't accountable for damage completed to the gown during cleaning. Only put your dress at the disposal of a preservationist who provides you with an itemized guarantee.

The artificial intelligence battle between Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk continues

Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk on AI

FACEBOOK founder Mark Zuckerberg has said artificial intelligence will NOT destroy humanity. The billionaire was asked his thoughts about claims from doom-mongers like Elon Musk, who fears super-intelligent AI will wipe out our species, reports The Sun.

“I have pretty strong opinions on this. I am optimistic,” he said.
“I think you can build things and the world gets better. But with AI especially, I am really optimistic.
“And I think people who are naysayers and try to drum up these doomsday scenarios - I just, I don’t understand it.
“It’s really negative and in some ways I actually think it is pretty irresponsible.

“In the next five to ten years, AI is going to deliver so many improvements in the quality of our lives.”
He said AI could allow driverless cars to drive much better than humans, cutting down on accidents, or let machines diagnose cancer with incredible accuracy.

Musk hit back by claiming Zuck had a “limited” understanding of the topic.

The Tesla founder recently said humanity needs to act NOW to stop artificial intelligence and killer robots wiping us out.
He also claimed AI “is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilisation”.

Of course, it’s important to remember who these two men are before you decide who’s right.
Zuck is a billionaire whose company is developing tech that can read human thoughts at 100 words per minute.

He’s also rumoured to be planning to stand for President, perhaps becoming the first politician in history with the ability to understand his victims’, sorry, constituents’ actual thoughts.
Elon Musk is also a billionaire. He develops electric cars and super fast Hyperloop trains while ploughing his money into space exploration.
We’ll leave it up to you to decide who you trust more.

The Internet battle: Google, Facebook show power of ad duopoly as rivals stumble

The Internet battle

SAN FRANCISCO: Quarterly results from Alphabet Inc and Facebook Inc provided fresh evidence this week that the digital advertising market is effectively a duopoly, a dynamic with deep implications for two of Silicon Valley’s titans.

Alphabet, the owner of Google and YouTube, and Facebook, the world’s largest social network, each produced billions in profits during the most recent quarter and enjoyed steep revenue increases, while smaller rivals such as Snap Inc (SNAP.N) and Twitter Inc struggle to maintain growth and reduce losses.

This year, the Big Two in internet advertising are expected to take half of all revenue worldwide, and more than 60 percent in the United States, according to research firm eMarketer.

In the U.S. market, no other digital ad platform has market share above 5 percent. Google suffered a minor blip in earnings due to higher payments to mobile carriers and others for search traffic. But efforts by Verizon and other network operators to compete for mobile ad dollars have had little impact thus far.

Independent advertising technology companies such as Rubicon Project and Rocket Fuel have also found it tough to compete. Advertisers are flocking to Facebook and Google because they reach billions of people and have a wealth of data that can be deployed for targeted marketing. Their growing dominance, however, raises questions about how they will use their billions in profits to maintain growth when the advertising market as a whole is expanding only modestly.

“Digital advertising will soon be approaching a point of saturation, indicating that there are limits to growth which may not be fully accounted for by the investment community,” Brian Wieser, senior analyst at Pivotal Research, said in a client note this week.

The advent of a duopoly is also spurring concerns about monopolistic practices. Google this month set aside $2.7 billion to pay a record European Union antitrust fine for favouring its shopping service in search results, and it faces two additional investigations in Europe.

Facebook declined to comment on Friday. In the past, the company has rejected the idea that it is part of a duopoly, saying that it competes against more than just digital platforms and has less than 5 percent of the overall advertising market. Alphabet did not reply to requests for comment.
Video Gold

Video is one market that Facebook and Google both view as a crucial new frontier. With huge investments planned, the companies are preparing to do to the television advertising business what they have long since done to traditional print advertising: namely, take much of it for themselves.

YouTube has been rolling out new series with stars such as Ellen DeGeneres and Kevin Hart, and says that the service’s overall 1.5 billion viewers watch, on average, 60 minutes a day on their phones and tablets.

Facebook is expected to launch original video series of its own within weeks, after signing deals with companies such as Vox Media and BuzzFeed. Facebook’s Instagram unit is also becoming a bigger producer of revenue, with video likely to be a big part of the mix.

Already, many advertisers feel they cannot ignore the massive reach of YouTube. Some big advertisers launched a boycott of YouTube this year after their ads appeared alongside videos from Islamic extremists, yet there was no evidence from Alphabet’s earnings report on Monday that it had any impact on revenues. “Marketers aren’t going to get fired for hiring Facebook and Google,” said Harry Kargman, chief executive of Kargo, which manages digital marketing for media companies including Time Inc.
Antitrust Risk

Other owners of digital ad inventory are feeling the squeeze. This month, an alliance of U.S. news organizations started a lobbying campaign for an exemption from antitrust law that would allow them to coordinate their negotiations with Google and Facebook, although such requests from other industries generally have not succeeded.

Consumer advocates worry about the giants snuffing out competition. “All of the major technology companies should be on alert that people are a bit spooked and unsettled about their size and their ability to expand into new markets,” said Gene Kimmelman, president of Public Knowledge, a nonprofit that advocates for an open internet.

Size is not by itself an antitrust concern, and neither is the ability to quash competitors, even through copying as Facebook has done with rival app Snapchat. Facebook and Google are not under U.S. antitrust investigation.

Still, the prospect of a future probe could still affect their business strategies. “As long as they toe the line and stay in the market position they’re in, it’s going to be kind of hard to go after them under the existing antitrust laws,” said Herbert Hovenkamp, a University of Pennsylvania professor of antitrust law.

But acquisitions, he said, would be another matter.
“Even a merger between Facebook or Google and a smaller rival would probably be looked at very closely,” Hovenkamp said.

cred: Reuters

United Nations: UN Chief condemns North Korea's launch of ballistic missile

North Korea launches ballistic missile

United Nations: The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday condemned the launch of another "ballistic missile of possible intercontinental range" by North Korea.

The UN chief said that "this is again a manifest violation of Security Council resolutions," Xinhua quoted UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq as saying.

"The North Korean leadership must comply fully with its international obligations and work together with the international community to resolve the outstanding issues on the Korean Peninsula," said Haq.

The Secretary-General reiterated his call on Pyongyang to respond to the South Korea's proposals to reopen communication channels, particularly military-to-military, to lower the risk of miscalculation or misunderstanding and reduce tensions, he said.

The Pentagon said that an initial assessment showed the missile was an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The missile travelled about 1,000 kilometres before splashing down into the sea, said Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis in a statement.

Earlier in May, the UN Security Council also strongly condemned North Korea's  missile test and vowed to push all countries to tighten sanctions against Pyongyang. The council had instructed its sanctions committee to redouble efforts to implement a raft of tough measures adopted last year.

White House: President Donald Trump to sign bill imposing Russia sanctions, Moscow retaliates by expelling US embassy diplomats

Russia sanctions

Washington: President Donald Trump has planned to sign a bill approved by Congress which will impose new sanctions on Russia, the White House announced.

"President Donald Trump read early drafts of the bill and negotiated regarding critical elements of it," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement late Friday.

"He has now reviewed the final version and, based on its responsiveness to his negotiations, approves the bill and intends to sign it," The Hill magazine quoted Sanders as saying.

The new legislation will effectively tie the president's hands when it comes to lifting sanctions.

The House passed their version of the legislation on Tuesday, while senators voted 98-2 on Thursday night to send the legislation to Trump's desk, The Hill reported.

The bill gives Congress the ability to block Trump from lifting the Russia sanctions and also includes new penalties against Iran and North Korea.

The new sanctions come as the White House grapples with several ongoing probes into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, which the president has blasted as unnecessary.

In response to the bill, Russia announced that it was expelling American diplomats and seizing property, reports CNN.

Moscow said on Friday that the US must reduce the staff at its embassy and consulates to 450, the same number Russia is allowed to have in the US.

Russia is also barring Americans from using two diplomatic facilities.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said that while Moscow has been doing "everything possible" to improve the relationship, "recent events showed that US policy was in the hands of Russophobic forces, pushing Washington to the path of confrontation."

White House chief of staff : Reince Priebus Out, General John Kelly In

General John Kelly is new White House Chief of Staff

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump replaced his beleaguered White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, after only six months on the job on Friday, installing retired General John Kelly in his place in a major shake-up of his top team.

Trump announced the move in a tweet a day after his new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, accused Priebus of leaking information to reporters in a profanity-laced tirade.

Kelly, 67, a retired four-star Marine Corps general, is currently secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and will assume the chief of staff post on Monday. He was hired with the goal of bringing more discipline to the White House, a senior White House official said.

Trump issued his decision just as he landed aboard Air Force One after a visit to Long Island and hours after Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare failed in the Senate.

Priebus was on the plane with the Republican president and made no comment. Reporters had noticed no sign of stress from Priebus during the day. Priebus told CNN he had been talking to Trump for some time about exiting the White House, and is the latest in a long line of officials to leave or not take a job at the White House.

"The president has a right to hit a reset button. I think it's time to hit the reset button," Priebus said in a televised interview from the White House. "He intuitively determined that it was time to do something different, and I think he's right."

Trump had lost confidence in Priebus, privately questioning his competence after major legislative items failed to pass the United States Congress, a Trump confidant said.

A source close to Priebus said the former Republican National Committee chairman turned in his resignation on Thursday night, after Scaramucci's rant against him was published by the New Yorker magazine.

A senior White House official said Trump had informed Priebus two weeks ago that he would be replacing him and that the move had no connection to Scaramucci, whose hiring a week ago prompted Sean Spicer, a Priebus ally, to abruptly resign as press secretary.

After frequent conversations with Kelly, Trump recently warmed up to the idea of naming Kelly chief of staff to more effectively manage personnel and offered it to him earlier this week, a senior White House official said.

cred: Reuters

Charlie Gard dies following long dispute

"Our beautiful little boy has gone, we are so proud of you Charlie,"

Charlie Gard, the British baby who became the subject of a bitter dispute between his parents and doctors over whether he should be taken to the United States for experimental treatment, has died, the Daily Mail's website has reported.

The 11-month-old baby suffered from an extremely rare genetic condition causing progressive brain damage and muscle weakness, and his parents' long struggle to save him drew an international outpouring of sympathy.

"Our beautiful little boy has gone, we are so proud of you Charlie," Connie Yates, the baby's mother, was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

Yates and the baby's father Chris Gard had wanted Charlie to undergo a treatment that has never been tried on anyone with his condition before, against the advice of doctors at his London hospital who said it would not benefit him and would prolong his suffering.

Charlie required a ventilator to breathe and was unable to see, hear or swallow.

The case drew comment from US President Donald Trump, who tweeted on July 3 that "we would be delighted" to help Charlie, and from Pope Francis, who called for the parents to be allowed to do everything possible to treat their child.

cred: Reuters

White house new communications director Anthony Scaramucci's wife files for divorce

Anthony Scaramucci's wife files for divorce

ANTHONY Scaramucci, the White House’s potty-mouthed new communications director, has been dumped by his beautiful blonde wife because of his “naked political ambition,” multiple sources exclusively tell Page Six.

Deidre Ball, who worked as a vice president in investor relations for SkyBridge Capital, the firm he founded in 2005 and sold to ascend to the White House, has filed for divorce from “The Mooch” after three years of marriage after getting fed up with his ruthless quest to get close to President Trump, whom she despises.

One source told Page Six, “Deidre has left him and has filed for divorce. She liked the nice Wall Street life and their home on Long Island, not the insane world of D.C. She is tired of his naked ambition, which is so enormous that it left her at her wits’ end. She has left him even though they have two children together.”

Mr Scaramucci and Ms Ball, 38, began dating in 2011 and are believed to have married in 2014.
The source said that the Wall Street financier, 52, had been “hellbent” on claiming his position at the White House after he was originally pegged for a senior role and sold SkyBridge Capital in preparation in January.

He was blocked by Reince Priebus, Trump’s chief of staff. But, after an aggressive campaign, Scaramucci was made communications director on July 21 by Trump, prompting Sean Spicer to quit.

A second source close to Scaramucci - who has alternately not been wearing his wedding ring, or has been sporting it on his right hand - said the former couple had fought over his loyalty to Trump. This was his second marriage and Ball was noticeably not present at his recent SALT conference in mid-May.

The source said, “Deidre is not a fan of Trump, and she hasn’t exactly been on board and supportive of Anthony and his push to get back into the White House.” The friend added, “Anthony is focusing on his children, his work for the president and the American people. There is nothing more important to him. “I don’t know who Deidre thought she was marrying but anyone who knows Anthony knows he’s an ambitious man.”

According to reports, University of Buffalo graduate Ball donated $5,400 to the congressional campaign of anti-Trump Democrat Kathleen Rice in 2015. But she also donated $10,800 to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s presidential campaign and $2,700 to Jeb Bush’s campaign the same year.

She went by the Twitter handle @MrsAScaramucci but, according to reports, she deleted her account after her husband was appointed as White House communications director.

Meanwhile, Scaramucci - who had been known as a slick operator up to this point - showed off a different side of his character during a bizarre late-night interview with the New Yorker, telling reporter Ryan Lizza that he thought Priebus was a “f - king paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac.” Then, lacing into White House adviser Steve Bannon, he added, “I’m not Steve Bannon, I am not trying to suck my own c - k.”

He added, “I’m not trying to build my own brand off the f - king strength of the president. I am here to serve the country.”

Ball could not immediately be reached and a rep for “The Mooch” didn’t comment.

Cred: NY Post

US cities in range of North Korea new test

US cities in range of North Korea

North Korea has reportedly fired a missile experts say is capable of striking Los Angeles and other US cities. Friday's unusual late-night launch added to exasperation in Washington, Seoul and Tokyo over Pyongyang's continuing development of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The test has prompted US and South Korean military officials to discuss military response options. North Korean President Kim Jong Un had already raised alarms early this month with a first ICBM launch.

"As a result of their launches of ICBM-level missiles, this clearly shows the threat to our nation's safety is severe and real," said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who planned to call a meeting of his National Security Council. US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford and Admiral Harry Harris, commander of US Pacific Command, spoke by phone with top South Korean official, General Lee Sun-jin, to discuss military responses to the launch.

The Trump administration has said all options are on the table but it has also made it clear diplomacy and sanctions are preferred. Following a meeting of South Korea's National Security Council, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he wanted the UN Security Council to discuss new and stronger sanctions against the North. Later the United States and South Korea conducted a live-fire ballistic missile exercise showing their capabilities for a "precise strike on the enemy's leadership", Yonhap reported.

The launch from North Korea's northern Jangang province took place at 11.41 pm local time, an official at South Korea's Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the missile flew for about 45 minutes before apparently landing in the waters of Japan's exclusive economic zone. Japanese broadcaster NHK, citing a military official, said the missile reached an altitude of more than 3000 km. The South Korean military said the missile was believed to be an ICBM-class, flying more than 1000 km and reaching an altitude of 3700 km.

In Washington, the Pentagon also said it had assessed the missile was an ICBM. US officials said the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon spy agency, has determined North Korea will be able to field a reliable nuclear-capable ICBM by next year, earlier than previously thought. Jeffrey Lewis of the California-based Middlebury Institute of International Studies said the launch showed Los Angeles was within range of a North Korean missile, with Chicago, New York and Washington, just out of reach.

The US-based Union of Concerned Scientists said its calculations showed the missile could have been capable of going as far into the United States as Denver and Chicago. Los Angeles would be protected by the US missile defence network, which includes four ground-based interceptors at Vandenberg Air Force base, and a second battery of 32 missiles in Alaska.

cred: Associated Press

The Game of Thrones Season Seven Review

The Game of Thrones 7

Ever since he brought the Knights of the Vale charging onto the battlefield at Sansa Stark's behest, and changed the tide of the Battle of the Bastards, Lord Petyr Baelish hasn't had much to do.

Littlefinger, used to the lavish comforts of King's Landing and the (mostly) hospitable environs of the Eyrie seems out of place in the gloomy and forbidding environs of Winterfell. Not that he hasn't adapted to his new setting and his relatively recent station (as Lord of the Eyrie) admirably.

Gone are the dandy-ish costumes he preferred when he ran the brothels in King's Landing that nobles liked to frequent. Littlefinger goes for the stately, if dull, look now - grey cloak, his trademark silver pin at his throat. From his cosmopolitan avatar, he seems to have adopted a sedate provinciality, perhaps to be viewed as less of an interloper in the North.

Apart from the outward change (which is only to be expected, and is keeping in line with all the other characters' sartorial transformations too) there is another metamorphosis - in Littlefinger's behaviour - that is far more problematic.

Littlefinger was always what one calls a 'doer', an opportunist unparalleled in Westeros. He's never been content to stay on to sidelines - after all, he didn't go from being the son of a minor house on the Fingers to Lord of the Eyrie on the strength of just good luck. This is the man who espoused to Lord Varys his theory of chaos 'as a ladder'. And himself as the ultimate (social) climber.

He may not be a 'major' player, as we understand Cersei, Dany and Jon to be, but lest we forget, this is the man who triggered the 'game of thrones' as we have seen it unfold. It was him, plotting with Lysa Arryn, that led to Jon Arryn's death - in turn prompting Robert Baratheon to travel all the way to Winterfell to ask Ned Stark to be the new Hand of the King. We know how well that turned out for the Stark family - not to mention for the rest of the realm.

Littlefinger has unerringly had his eye on the main chance, and he's shown a propensity for picking the winning side. He seems, for now, to have sided with Sansa Stark - not that it's done him a fat lot of good so far. Beyond the kiss they exchanged at the Eyrie, Sansa hasn't given him any indication that she's likely to return his assiduous attentions. Moreover, at Winterfell, Littlefinger has had no say in the matters going on. We've been two episodes into season seven - that's two whole hours of onscreen proceedings, spanning weeks as per the characters' timelines - and all Littlefinger has had to do, is lean against a wall and cast sidelong glances at Sansa while Jon makes his speeches in the great hall while his northern bannermen alternately squabble and fall into line with what their chosen King wants. Heck, until episode 2 - 'Stormborn' - little Lyanna Mormont has had a more impressive showing than Littlefinger.

So what is Petyr Baelish doing? Are we to assume that he is so transformed by lust love for Sansa that he has turned over a new leaf? That he will now subsume his life to the furthering of her cause? That moment in the crypt, when he confessed his feelings for Sansa (and Catelyn, yech) to Jon, what was Littlefinger attempting to do? Seek Jon's blessings for the union?

Hardly. Littlefinger's 'love' - as was proved in the case of Catelyn Stark - is just as self-serving as anything else the man does.

This is the man who promised to support Ned Stark - because of his love for Catelyn - and then promptly held a knife to his throat when the time came to confront Cersei. This is the man who delivered up poor Ros to Joffrey for archery practise, tasked one of his employees to get proof of Loras Tyrell's homosexuality - and handed over Sansa to Ramsay Bolton for a bride (this was after he'd already botched her possible alliance with Loras Tyrell in an earlier time).

If we go by the theory that Littlefinger didn't know of Ramsay's sadism, then he's a far less clever man than we were led to believe. Littlefinger's plans would not have such a loophole. The Littlefinger we've seen over the past six seasons would not engage with the unknown; he wouldn't rely merely on chance.

[In the book of course, this wasn't an issue because Sansa was never married off to Ramsay Bolton; it was her friend Jeyne Poole, the daughter of Winterfell's steward, who was passed off as Arya Stark. Sansa was still living as Littlefinger's illegitimate daughter at the Eyrie when we last encountered her in 'A Dance With Dragons'.]

What then answers his seemingly glaring oversight? What answers his present inactivity?

One - unpopular - approach to view Littlefinger's current malaise could be that David Benioff and DB Weiss have lost interest in his character, or the thread of his story. That isn't an unlikely view. As fans have pointed out, since the HBO showrunners began to veer away from George RR Martin's books, there have been some loopholes that have crept into the plot.

Forbes, for instance, highlighted in this review, that geography would have made it far more convenient for Dany to stop off at Dorne/Sunspear on her way to Dragonstone, leave Yara Greyjoy and the Iron Fleet there to ferry Ellaria plus the Dornish army up to King's Landing for their planned siege, meanwhile having Grey Worm with the Unsullied move towards Casterly Rock, even as she and Tyrion - with an appropriate guard - sailed on to the Dragonstone holdfast. Euron Greyjoy wouldn't have had quite such easy pickings then.

George RR Martin's books may have grown excessively bloated over time, in part due to his insistence on fleshing out every single plot line and character in his series - but it also makes for intricate storytelling. Martin of course doesn't have the constraints of budgets, time - or practicality - to take into account. Sustaining the storytelling of Game of Thrones as a televised spectacle, at the pace and with the intricacy of Martin's books would be well nigh impossible. Weiss, Benioff and HBO now have a tough balancing act in store, as they try to bring together a score of loose threads - well, all that they didn't blow up in the big, bad explosion at the Sept of Baelor - within the space of just 11 additional hours. Have they, in Littlefinger's case, lost the plot?

The second approach - and one that does make more sense - is that for Littlefinger, this is the lull before the storm. With Jon leaving for Dragonstone, presumably caught up in persuading Daenerys to join him in his fight against the White Walkers, and Sansa all alone at Winterfell - in charge of the North - this could be the moment Littlefinger's been waiting for. Maybe even plotting for.

What if, when he handed Sansa over to Ramsay, he intended all along to come to her 'rescue' with the Knights of the Vale at a later stage? In this scenario, Sansa would be grateful to her rescuer - perhaps she might even marry him. As the husband of the oldest surviving Stark, and the only one still at Winterfell, Littlefinger would become lord of Winterfell - and all of the North would come under his control.

The East is already under Littlefinger's reign, as the current Lord of the Eyrie. Adjoining the Vale's western boundary are the Riverlands, where the Tully name - Sansa's maternal family - and Littlefinger's own knowledge of the region, having grown up there, would still hold some sway (Brynden the Blackfish's defeat to Jaime Lannister notwithstanding). That would have put nearly two-thirds of Westeros under Littlefinger's charge.

With Dorne and Highgarden (Littlefinger and Lady Olenna Tyrell are old co-conspirators, having plotted Joffrey's death together - but also antagonists) extremely unlikely to support the Lannisters, all that would have stood between him and complete domination over the Seven Kingdoms would have been King's Landing and Casterly Rock.

The way Petyr Baelish looked at the Iron Throne when he though he was unwatched - just before he made that speech to Varys - is confirmation enough (if any was needed) of what his one, true love really is: Power. Unbridled, unfettered power.

And what Littlefinger wants, Littlefinger gets.

So maybe Sansa escaped Ramsay's clutches with a little help from Theon, and it was Jon at Castle Black, whom she rushed to in her moment of distress. Littlefinger still found a way to position himself as a valuable ally, if not her 'saviour'.

Fans are already calling the moment when Jon roughs up Littlefinger in the Winterfell crypt a throwback to Ned's altercation with him back in season one.

Ned Stark lost his head because he underestimated Littlefinger. What will Jon lose?

More importantly for viewers, if the showrunners underestimate Littlefinger - what will Game of Thrones lose?

White House: Trump supports bill on sanctions on Russia, Iran, North Korea

WASHINGTON: US president Donald Trump supports imposing tougher new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea, the White House has stressed, a day after the House of Representatives voted in favour of a bill that seeks to limit his ability to lift many of the sanctions on Moscow.

The House voted 419-3 to pass the bill that seeks to punish Russia for allegedly meddling in the 2016 presidential elections. Other than Russia, the legislation also seeks to make Iran pay for its "continued support of terrorism", and includes provisions to curb North Korea's nuclear programme. The bill has in recent weeks attracted controversy. The Trump administration opposes the legislation as it requires congressional approval for the president to lift previous sanctions on Russia, according to US media reports.

However, press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters: "The White House, the president, and the entire administration strongly support sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea." The bill now heads to the Senate before it can be sent to the White House for Trump to sign it into a law. If enacted, it could put strain on Trump's ability to improve ties with Russia, which he has vocally pursued, but has been restrained by the allegations that his associates had contacts with Russian officials during the election campaign.

Trump has denied any collusion between his associates and Moscow and termed the Russian investigation "a witch hunt". Congressman Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer have urged the Senate to pass the legislation without delay. "Yesterday (Wednesday), the House of Representatives passed, nearly unanimously, a sanctions bill that was a product of bicameral, bipartisan negotiations and includes strong sanctions against Russia, Iran, North Korea. The Senate must act quickly on the legislation from the House," Schumer said.

Senator and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker has indicated he plans to strip out a section of this package that relates to North Korea, he said, calling it "yet another delay" by Republicans to prevent this bill from landing on the Trump's desk before "we leave for the recess."

Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Senate select committee on Intelligence, said the bipartisan congressional support for increased sanctions on Russia sends a message to the Kremlin that attacks on the American democracy will not be tolerated.

"I expect this bill will pass the Senate in short order. At that point, it is incumbent upon President Trump to immediately sign this legislation into law, or risk endorsing Moscow's interference in future elections," he said. "We must also make clear to Iran and North Korea that they will be held accountable for their actions," Warner said. Later, Corker announced a path forward on the bill.

"Following very productive discussions with leader McCarthy, I am glad to announce that we have reached an agreement that will allow us to send sanctions legislation to the president's desk," he said.

"The Senate will move to approve the Iran and Russia sanctions it originally passed six weeks ago, as well as the North Korea sanctions developed by the House," he added.

Russia Sanctions: Senate slaps new sanctions on Russia and Putin vows retaliation

 Senate slaps new sanctions on Russia Sanctions

WASHINGTON: The U.S. Senate voted nearly unanimously on Thursday to slap new sanctions on Russia despite President Donald Trump’s objections to the legislation, which has angered Russian President Vladimir Putin who threatened to retaliate. The Senate backed the measure, which also imposes sanctions on Iran and North Korea, by a margin of 98-2 with strong support from Trump’s fellow Republicans as well as Democrats. The bill will now be sent to the White House for Trump to sign into law or veto.

The bill is the first major foreign policy legislation approved by Congress under Trump, who has struggled to advance his domestic agenda despite Republicans controlling the Senate and House of Representatives. If Trump chooses to veto it, the bill is expected to garner enough support in both chambers to override his veto and pass it into law.

The bill threatens to further derail US-Russian relations, which deteriorated under former President Barack Obama. Trump had hoped to improve ties but his administration has been clouded by investigations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election to help Trump. The president denies any collusion between his campaign and Moscow.

The sanctions measure has already passed the House of Representatives by a 419-3. Republicans and Democrats have pushed for more sanctions partly as a response to conclusions by US intelligence agencies that the Kremlin interfered in the election. Speaking just before the Senate passed the bill, Republican Senator John McCain, a leading congressional voice calling for a firm line against Russia said: “The United States of America needs to send a strong message to Vladimir Putin and any other aggressor that we will not tolerate attacks on our democracy.”

Putin, who has repeatedly denied meddling in the campaign said Moscow would only decide on how to retaliate once it had seen the final text of the proposed law. The bill would affect a range of Russian industries and might further hurt the Russian economy, already weakened by 2014 sanctions imposed after the Ukraine crisis. Besides angering Moscow, the proposed legislation has upset the European Union, which has said the new sanctions might affect its energy security and prompt it to act, too.

Earlier on Thursday, a senior White House aide said Trump could veto the pending legislation in order to push for a tougher deal, an idea that drew skepticism in Congress because his administration had spent weeks lobbying for a weaker bill. Trump’s concerns include a provision letting Congress stop any effort to ease existing sanctions on Russia. But White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci suggested Trump in fact wanted stronger sanctions.

“He may sign the sanctions exactly the way they are or he may veto the sanctions and negotiate an even tougher deal against the Russians,” Scaramucci told CNN. Earlier on Thursday, Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters: “I would guess that he (Trump) will sign it.” What will Trump do? Earlier on Thursday before the Senate vote, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the Trump administration continues to support strong sanctions against Russia, North Korea and Iran, adding “we’re going to wait and see what that final legislation looks like and make a decision at that point.”

Trump can impose new sanctions at any time through an executive order. “This bill doesn’t preclude him from issuing tougher sanctions. That doesn’t make any sense,” said Edward Fishman, a former State Department official during the Obama administration who worked on U.S. sanctions policy.
Once Trump receives the bill, if he does not sign it, he has 10 days, excluding Sundays, before he must issue a veto and prevent the bill from becoming law automatically.

If he opts for a veto, the bill can become law anyway if two-thirds of both the House and Senate vote for an override. Putin said on a visit to Finland on Thursday that Russia was “exercising restraint and patience, but at some moment we’ll have to retaliate. It’s impossible to endlessly tolerate this boorishness towards our country.”

Putin, at a joint news conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, also spoke about Obama’s order last December to seize Russian diplomatic property in the United States and to expel 35 Russian diplomats.

“This goes beyond all reasonable bounds,” Putin said. “And now these sanctions - they are also absolutely unlawful from the point of view of international law.”

cred: Reuters

Wal-Mart looks overseas for online vendors

Wal-Mart looks overseas

CHICAGO:, trailing Inc in the number of goods for sale on its website, is recruiting vendors in China and other countries to boost its online offerings in a pivot away from Wal-Mart’s Made-in-America campaign. While there is a financial incentive behind the move, Wal-Mart’s decision comes out of necessity: not all the goods its customers want - ranging from jeans to bicycles to beauty products - are manufactured within the United States.

That reality pits Wal-Mart against President Donald Trump’s “Made in America” push. It also risks alienating some of Wal-Mart’s existing US vendors since it runs counter to the American-made pledge the retailer made in 2013 in a bid to win customers, and satisfy unions and other critics who said its drive for low cost goods was undermining American jobs.

According to two sources with knowledge of the matter, Wal-Mart Stores Inc in February began inviting sellers from China, the United Kingdom and Canada to list on the marketplace section of, where it earns a share of revenue from goods sold and delivered to customers by third-party vendors.

Previously, it only allowed US based sellers on the marketplace site, sources said. Calling the unreported move a “measured approach,” Wal-Mart Vice-President of Partner Services Michael Trembley confirmed the invite-only program. He said foreign sellers currently make up less than five percent of its seller base. Trembley said Wal-Mart’s move is focused on meeting customer demand for different types of products and increasing online assortment. Wal-Mart’s marketplace inventory has quintupled this year to 50 million items. That still pales in comparison to Amazon’s nearly 300 million products online, analysts said.

Shrinking that gap is key to Wal-Mart’s strategy to beat Amazon. Launched in 2009, the marketplace platform contributes more than 10 percent to Wal-Mart’s e-commerce revenue, but barely registers in total sales of nearly $486 billion, according to data from e-commerce analytics firm Marketplace Pulse. The data could not be independently verified by Reuters.

Amazon’s third-party marketplace, which also uses global vendors from countries like China, contributes to nearly half of Amazon’s retail sales, analysts said.

The move brings risks beyond the impact to Wal-Mart’s sales. Trump kicked off a “Made in America” week earlier this month where he promised he would take more legal and regulatory steps during the next six months to protect American manufacturers, lashing out against trade deals he said have hurt U.S. companies. Trump’s comments come as the White House is seeking to renegotiate the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in an effort to shrink the trade deficit with Canada and Mexico.

“No longer will we allow other countries to break the rules, steal our jobs and drain our wealth,” Trump said in a weekly address tweeted by the White House on July 21. “Instead we will follow two simple but very crucial rules: We will buy American and we will hire American.”

In a statement on Wednesday, Wal-Mart proposed policy actions to boost U.S. manufacturing which could help capture $300 billion worth of products that are imported. The retailer urged policymakers for simpler regulations on things like Made in USA labeling and modernize trade agreements.
Cindi Marsiglio, vice president for US sourcing and manufacturing at Wal-Mart, told Reuters it is on target with its pledge to buy $250 billion worth of American-made products by 2023, and remains committed to boosting US manufacturing.

“Against the spirit of their ‘Made in America'” Some of Wal-Mart’s existing US vendors - whom Wal-Mart has recruited to supply goods manufactured domestically as part of its highly publicized Made-in-America sourcing plan - are on edge about competition with foreign goods. “It goes against the spirit of their ‘Made in America’ push,” said one seller of American-made socks to, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of hurting business relations with the retailer.

Six out of seven US manufacturers Reuters spoke with who are selling to said they were disappointed with the retailer’s move. Marsiglio said the retailer had not heard any complaints about its move to allow global vendors on its marketplace.

“It’s bad timing to start such a program given President Trump’s push in this direction and the resources they (Wal-Mart) spend on promoting a patriotic image,” said another vendor, who sells pet products. Darius Mir, chief executive of MIA (Made in America) Seating Corp, a Tennessee based seller of office furniture to, said he supports free trade and is open to competition on the platform. But he thinks it would help US-based vendors if Wal-Mart could label “Made in USA” items listed on its website.

“Walmart must distinguish between a ‘Made In USA’ product from all others by grouping the American made product separately, and highlighting the Made In USA label,” he said. Hollowed-out manufacturing Wal-Mart’s third-party marketplace is part of an overall online initiative that is starting to show growth, with e-commerce sales growing 63 percent during the first quarter. The progress has been led by e-commerce chief Marc Lore, who took over last year after Wal-Mart paid $3.3 billion for, an online retail platform he founded.

Wal-Mart’s Trembley said the retailer’s approach to growing its marketplace, which analysts said has been slow, has been designed to avoid problems like counterfeit products, which is a challenge for rivals Amazon and Alibaba. He said Wal-Mart vets sellers to the third party marketplace and has a high bar for selection.

The retailer has also put in place requirements for global vendors that could create US jobs. For example, foreign sellers must be able to fulfill orders from a US-based warehouse, they must use a US-based return center and have customer support operating during US business hours, Trembley said. But finding US-based suppliers remains a challenge. Beginning in the 1980s, Wal-Mart led a push to look overseas for inexpensive inventory, and the Made-in-America push-with its implied effort to rebuild a hollowed-out manufacturing base-has created more publicity than sales, retail consultants and analysts said.

Wal-Mart’s Marsiglio in an interview in April told Reuters that finding US-based suppliers “remains one of the top challenges across our supplier base.”

This week she said one of the ways Wal-Mart is addressing that challenge is by working with existing suppliers and leveraging their manufacturing capacity to produce multiple items. For example, the retailer is working with a playing cards supplier who is now manufacturing plastic cutlery. Wal-Mart had 10,249 sellers on its marketplace at the end of 2017’s first quarter, a substantial jump from 400 in the same period a year ago, according to data from Marketplace Pulse. This compares to millions of sellers on Amazon’s marketplace.

But few American consumers are willing to pay higher prices for American-made items. A Reuters Ipsos poll released on Thursday found 70% of Americans think it is important to buy US-made products but 37% said they wouldn’t pay more for US-made goods.

“This all boils down to one thing,” said Juozas Kaziukenas, founder and chief executive of Marketplace Pulse, the e-commerce analytics firm. “Wal-Mart’s marketplace has not been a success story, but with their renewed focus on e-commerce, they are trying to do everything they can to change that,” he said.

Cred: Reuters

Al-Jazeera to resist any attempt to shut its Jerusalem office

Al-Jazeera shut down

MIDDLE EAST: The Qatar-based Al-Jazeera news outlet on Thursday vowed a legal fight against Israel if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pursued plans to shut its office in Jerusalem, and it also accused him of supporting a regional blockade of Qatar.

Netanyahu said on Wednesday he would work to shut the network’s office, accusing it of inciting recent violence in Jerusalem. Jerusalem has seen one of its most tense periods in years as Palestinians protest heightened Israeli security measures near the Temple Mount-Noble Sanctuary compound, one of the city’s holiest sites. The events have been widely reported, including in hourly, live updates by Al-Jazeera. “Al-Jazeera stresses that it will take all necessary legal measures (if Israel) acts on its threat,” the network said in a statement issued in Doha.

Al-Jazeera said Israel was aligning itself with four Arab states that have severed diplomatic and commercial ties with Qatar and have demanded the closure of the television network. They accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism, a charge it denies.

“While Al-Jazeera denounces (Netanyahu’s) arbitrary accusations and hostile statements, it finds (them to be) yet another episode of the ongoing vicious attack (demanding) the entire closure of the network by the countries imposing a blockade on Qatar,” the network said in its statement. The four Arab states - Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain - also want the tiny emirate to cut ties to Iran, their regional arch-rival, and to shut a Turkish military base on its territory, among other demands.

Qatar has been the main backer of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement that led the “Arab Spring” protests across the region. The four Arab countries deem the Brotherhood to be a terrorist organisation, a charge the group denies.

Netanyahu, who frequently warns about Shi’ite Iran’s threat to the region, has said Israel should cooperate more with Sunni Muslim neighbours such as Saudi Arabia against Tehran. Al-Jazeera has also faced government censure in Egypt. In 2014, the Arab state jailed three of the network’s staffers for seven years and closed its offices. Two staffers have been released but a third remains imprisoned.

Cred: Reuters

World Richest: Jeff Bezos of Amazon briefly tops Bill Gates as world’s richest person

Jeff Bezos is World Richest

NEW YORK: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on Thursday became the world’s richest person, as a jump in the share price of the US tech giant enabled him to overtake Microsoft founder Bill Gates, a new estimate showed. Forbes magazine said its real-time tracking of personal fortunes showed Bezos with a net worth of US$90.5 billion (RM387.1 billion), ahead of the US$90 billion (RM384billion) for Gates early Thursday.

A few hours later, though, Bezos had slipped back to second place as Amazon shares pared their gains. Bezos owns around 17% of the equity of Amazon, which has been expanding from its original mission as an online retailer to a diversified tech firm in cloud computing, online video, computer hardware and artificial intelligence.

The company also recently announced plans to acquire US grocer Whole Foods, which could help Amazon expand in that sector. Amazon shares were up 1.7% at US$1,070.72 (RM4580) and have risen some 24% over the past four months, adding some US$17 billion (RM72.7 billion) to the net worth of the 53-year-old Bezos.

According to Forbes, Gates has been the richest person in the magazine’s annual rankings in March for the past four years and for 18 of the past 22 years. Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim overtook Gates from 2010 to 2013.

Among the billionaires gaining ground is Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who has an estimated worth of some US$71.3 billion (RM304.9 billion) according to the real-time Forbes estimate.
While most of Bezos’s wealth is in Amazon, he also owns the private space firm Blue Origin and the Washington Post newspaper.

Forbes pointed out that Gates could have been considerably wealthier, having given away more than US$30 billion(RM128.3 billion) to philanthropic causes over the years. Bezos has given an estimated US$100 million (RM427.8 billion), but recently asked users on Twitter for ideas for charitable donations which could have an impact on the world.

The billionaire notably opposed Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, but after the election appeared to give the new president a boost by announcing Amazon would add 100,000 new US jobs over 18 months. Trump however has not spared Bezos’s ventures from criticism, apparently renewing claims that he purchased the newspaper to divert attention from regulators away from Amazon.

“So many stories about me in the @washingtonpost are Fake News,” Trump tweeted this week.
“Is Fake News Washington Post being used as a lobbyist weapon against Congress to keep politicians from looking into Amazon no-tax monopoly?”

Bezos appeared intent on spending more time in the US capital, purchasing what is likely the city’s largest private residence for US$23 million (RM98.3 billion). Under Bezos’s ownership, the Washington Post reported it was profitable in 2016, after making a series of investments in new technology and personnel.

With Amazon, Bezos is known for taking a long view. The company lost money for many years and still delivers thinner profits than many of its peers, plowing money into new investments.

Cred: AFP

Arab League chief : Israel risks igniting ‘religious war’

Arab League warned Israel

MIDDLE EAST: The head of the Arab League warned Thursday that Israeli attempts to control highly sensitive religious sites in Jerusalem by force risk igniting a “religious war”. Israel’s actions are “playing with fire, and will only ignite a religious war and shift the core of the conflict from politics to religion”, Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit said.

He was speaking at an urgent meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo on the latest violence in Jerusalem. “I invite the occupying state (Israel) to carefully learn the lessons from this crisis and the message it holds,” Abul Gheit said in a televised speech. “Handling holy sites lightly and with this level of arrogance seriously threatens to ignite a religious war, since not one single Muslim in the world would accept the desecration of (Jerusalem’s) Al-Aqsa mosque,” he said.

Protests and deadly unrest have erupted in the days since Israel installed new metal detectors on July 16 outside the entrance to the Haram al-Sharif compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.
The Arab League “condemns in the strongest terms Israel’s plans and policies that aim to Judaise the occupied city of Jerusalem and distort its Arab and Muslim character,” the foreign ministers said in their closing statement.

“East Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian state,” the organisation said, “expressing its rejection and condemnation of all measures by the occupying force to diminish Palestinian rights of sovereignty over it.” Palestinians view the move as an attempt by Israel to assert further control over the site, which houses the revered Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

Israeli police and Palestinians clashed Thursday as thousands of Muslim worshippers entered the compound, ending a boycott after Israel removed the new security measures installed after a July 14 attack killed two policemen.

Cred: AFP

Makeovers: How To Decide

Beauty Makeovers

For alot of people, the thoughts are always there, Are you one of them? Do you consider altering the way you look? With beauty becoming an important issue in our today society, especially to a lot of women, most are afraid to create any drastic changes.  This is exactly what leads a comparatively few women to obtain makeovers every year.

Knowing that though, there are a variety of reasons why you need to a minimum of consider having a makeover. One of the numerous reasons why you need to you will want a makeover happens because it can benefit to enhance the way you look, as formerly mentioned.  Regrettably, with regards to appearance improving techniques, many people only consider drastic measures, like weight reduction or plastic surgery.  Yes, these techniques will help you improve your appearance, but they may be pricey. A makeover is a straightforward, yet affordable method to improve your appearance.

When having a makeover, you could have hair done, makeup professionally applied, in addition to obtain a manicure. Additionally to enhancing your appearance, having a makeover will help relieve any stress that you are struggling with.  This occurs in many various ways. To begin with, when having a makeover, the professional in change may be the one doing everything all you need to do is simply relax and relax.

Next, a noticeable difference to look at or maybe even a little appearance change is known to uplift the spirits of numerous women, in addition to help relive the stresses that they're going to be struggling with. Possibly, the finest reason why you need to consider having a makeover is since it is fun.  Makeovers are perfect solo or with several buddies. There's just something exciting about obtaining a makeover, even if it's one which won’t forever.  It's also vital that you point out that many makeover specialists or beauticians provide you with freedom over your personal makeover, like what you look for done and just how.

Additionally to providing you with freedom over your makeover, you might find that the beautician also provides you his very own professional expertise.Talking about expertise, you will notice that many professional beauticians have many years of training as well as on-the-job experience underneath their belt.  The help of the beautician performing your makeover is yet another one of the numerous reasons why you need to a minimum of consider having a makeover. Additionally to providing you with professional results, you may also make use of your makeover being an educational tool.

For example, in case your makeover includes makeup application, you might become familiar with a couple of neat tips, methods, and methods.  Whenever you consider it from that position, a makeover can't only enhance your appearance now, but later on too.The above mentioned pointed out reasons are only a couple of of the numerous reason why you need to a minimum of consider having a professional makeover.  If you'd like to utilize a makeover in an effort to have some fun as well as reducing all your stress, you might want to speak to your local salons, spas, or beauty salons. You'll find these establishments by asking individuals you know for recommendations, making use of your local phone book, or even the internet.

Should you choose to undergo your makeover within the comfort of your house, you might want to question an at-home makeover.  Most individual beauticians, especially individuals who're self-employed, could be willing to support you and also in a relatively affordable cost. Despite whatever you decide and often hear previously, makeovers aren’t only for large social occasions, like weddings.  If you want, you can acquire a makeover at almost any time, even never ever whatsoever.  Obviously, the choice whether or otherwise you need to undergo a makeover is the decision to create, but you might want to keep your above pointed out points in your mind when creating that call.

Suicide bomber in Lahore kills dozens

A SUICIDE bomber has killed at least 25 people, many of them police, in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, an attack which shatters a period of relative calm in Pakistan’s second-largest city.
The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack on Monday which wrought carnage near the Lahore Technology Park in the centre of the city. Police deployed to clear street vendors from the area had been targeted, a police official said.

“We suspect that he (the suicide bomber) came on a motorcycle and he rammed it into a police checkpoint,” Lahore police operations chief Haider Ashraf told Reuters. Rescue workers shifted the wounded to hospital and police officers cordoned off the bomb site as army troops also arrived at the scene. “The death toll we have now is 25 dead and 52 are wounded,” said Jam Sajjad Hussain, spokesman for the Rescue 1122 service. A wounded man sitting on the roadside was shown crying in pain on television amid cars and motorcycles mangled by the blast.

The bombing was claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban, also known as the Pakistani Taliban, in a message sent to the media by spokesman Muhammad Khurassani. The Pakistani Taliban are loosely allied with Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgents but focus their attacks on the Pakistani government.
Bomb blasts by militants are common in Pakistan, especially in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, but attacks in Lahore have become less frequent in recent years. Haider Ashraf, deputy inspector general of Punjab police, said the blast was a suicide attack and “police were the target”.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said the majority of those killed and wounded were police and warned the death toll could rise. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the blast in a statement and directed medical efforts for those injured.

cred: News Corp Australia Network

Polish senate approve court overhaul

The Polish Senate has passed a controversial judicial reform bill despite growing criticism at home and abroad.The bill proposed by the populist ruling party only needs the signature of President Andrzej Duda to become binding.The bill's passage late on Friday was met with boos from protesters gathered in front of the Senate building.

EU leaders say the bill would kill judicial independence and threaten the rule of law in the EU's largest member in central and eastern Europe. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, head of Poland's ruling Law and Justice party, contends the judiciary still works along a communist-era model and harbours many judges from that time. Communist rule ended in 1989.

He says the justice system needs "radical changes" to become efficient and reliable. Prime Minister Beata Szydlo says the legislation is an internal matter and the government will not bow to foreign pressure. In anticipation of the vote, crowds gathered on Friday night for yet another protest in front of the Supreme Court building in Warsaw and other cities.

About 200 protesters also gathered in front of Duda's holiday house in Jurata, on the Baltic coast, to demand he does not sign the bill.

The president has 21 days to sign it, and is not expected to do it before his meeting on Monday with the head of the court, Malgorzata Gersdorf.

cred: Deutsche Presse Agentur

Popular Posts