Maruti Suzuki India Limited says car sales growth cooling4.7K views00:00 / 00:00- 00:00:0000:00Maruti Suzuki India Limited says car sales growth cooling4.7K viewsBusinessNew Delhi, Oct 31 (ANI): India’s biggest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India Limited said the growth in car sales will be slow in the second half of the year, dampening expectations of a rapid recovery in the country’s automotive market. Maruti’s Chairman RC Bhargava said sales momentum was now slowing, and growth over the 2014-2015 financial year would average out at about 10 percent. Indian car makers are launching new and upgraded models of their cars, betting on improved consumer sentiment and an economic recovery under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new government. To fend off competition from rivals such as Honda Motor Co and Hyundai Motor Co, Maruti plans to launch new and upgraded models of its cars over the next 12 months, including in the premium segment where it has had little success in the past.Ventuno Web Player 4.50New Delhi, Oct 31 (ANI): India’s biggest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India Limited said the growth in car sales will be slow in the second half of the year, dampening expectations of a rapid recovery in the country’s automotive market. Maruti’s Chairman RC Bhargava said sales momentum was now slowing, and growth over the 2014-2015 financial year would average out at about 10 percent. Indian car makers are launching new and upgraded models of their cars, betting on improved consumer sentiment and an economic recovery under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new government. To fend off competition from rivals such as Honda Motor Co and Hyundai Motor Co, Maruti plans to launch new and upgraded models of its cars over the next 12 months, including in the premium segment where it has had little success in the past.
Amidst continuing uncertainty, budget airline SpiceJet cut prices on some sectors by as much as 50 percent to that of its rivals, even as ticket rates surged owing to the beleagured airline cutting routes in the face of a reduced fleet. SpiceJetReutersThe Marans-owned budget airline also received a reprieve from airport regulator Airports Authority of India (AAI) that extended a five-day window to settle its dues of almost 200 crore, reported Economic Times.The regulator also directed the airline to ensure refunds to passengers by 15 December for flights cancelled by the airline. SpiceJet had refunded 55,000 passengers as per data available with the regulator.However, SpiceJet ‘s discount offers have made little change on some of the busiest routes. However the flight cuts triggered by the airline’s financial tightening has been an influencing factors behind rates going up by as much as 15 percent compared to November-end, said Sharat Dhall, president of Yatra.com, a travel portal.Last week, aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) limited the no-frills airline to take advance booking only up to 30 days. Also, 186 slots used by the airline were withdrawn, as the carrier was forced to return leased Boeing jets; the order came into force starting Monday evening.Some of the routes where SpiceJet is offering discounts include Mumbai-Goa, Delhi-Kolkotta, Delhi-Chennai sectors. The cash-strapped airline is under serious pressure to keep its cash flow going, with no sight of an investor in the horizon.However customers continue to harbour doubts on the airline’s schedule integrity, which has cut more than 1,800 flights for the month; they prefer other airlines.The airline’s Boeing 737 fleet has dwindled to 22 on Wednesday from the 42 it was operating earlier. It also operates 15 Bombardier Q400s.SpiceJet made a payment of 5 crore, following which AAI decided to extend time till Monday for the reminder of the dues to be paid. Earlier AAI had asked SpiceJet to clear dues or to face withdrawal of credit facilities, and being put on a cash-and-carry mode.The current month also saw SpiceJet delay salaries; the DGCA has asked the airline to ensure payment of salaries by the 7th of every month.The DGCA has asked the airline to submit a financial plan by December 15, including details on repayment of its dues amounting to 1,630 crore. SpiceJet claims its dues to be lower than the reported figure without revealing the sum.Executives from the Sun Group, including its finance chief SL Narayanan met DGCA officials on Tuesday, for the first time since the crisis broke out.SpiceJet scrip was trading at 15.85, down 2.16% at 12:17 PM on Thursday.
The Chinese stock markets have fallen sharply in recent trading sessions, leading to speculations that such a fall will see a diversion of funds from China to other emerging markets like India.But analysts contradict such expectations, saying the Chinese authorities are well prepared to avert a major decline in the country’s equity markets.The Chinese benchmark Shanghai Composite index closed at 4,035 levels on Monday, falling nearly 22 percent in the past nine sessions. Prior to this fall, the index had gained nearly 155 percent to 5,166 levels since June last year.The sell-off comes in the wake of intensifying concerns that a bull run will start fading, having lasted for one year, amidst chances of economic slowdown in the country.”Chinese markets have had an unprecedented run in 2015 amidst hopes of a soft landing and a gradual recovery in the global economy, a key driver for Chinese exports. We believe chances of a sudden incremental collapse in Chinese markets are remote, particularly after the ongoing sell-off, but not zero,” Tirthankar Patnaik, India Strategist at Japan-based Mizuho Bank, told Business Standard.On Saturday, the Chinese central bank had announced a cut in interest rates by 25 basis points (bps) to 4.85 percent, its fourth rate cut in the past seven months.The country has witnessed a massive increase in retail investor participation in the stock markets in the past one year, encouraged by expectations over policy moves to support growth and better returns in equity markets.Chinese markets saw an addition of 1.6 million new investors in April, up 83 percent than the previous year, accoring to a report by Barron’s Asia.However, the markets have been on the downtrend for the past few weeks, as concerns grow over high valuations, weak corporate earnings and a deceleration in economic activity.The decline in Chinese stock markets has raised speculations that foreign investors may pull out the money to invest in other attractive emerging markets like India.Analysts disagree with such expectations, saying the current bull-run in Chinese markets is mainly driven by retail investors and the authorities are already to pull the trigger if they witness further slowdown in the economy.”However, events since late 2013 tell us that the PBOC (People’s Bank of China) and the Chinese government remain in a position to avert sudden rise in uncertainty, which would be a precursor to a fall. India’s benefit from capital outflows from China remains contingent on the process being gradual; we believe a sudden drop in Chinese markets is unlikely to be a beneficiary to any emerging market peer,” Patnaik said.
Justice Gogoi had said some “bigger force” wanted to “deactivate” the office of the CJI.ReutersIn a major development, a former judge of the Supreme Court, Justice A K Patnaik, who is probing an alleged conspiracy against Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi who has been accused of sexual harassment by a woman, will start his inquiry only after an in-house inquiry against CJI Gogoi is completed.The apex court had on Thursday (April 25) appointed Justice Patnaik to head the probe into an alleged conspiracy levelled by advocate Utsav Bains in his two affidavits. The top court also directed the Directors of the CBI and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) besides the Delhi Police Commissioner to cooperate with Justice Patnaik as and when required.The court gave the directions during a hearing on an affidavit filed by advocate Utsav Bains, who has alleged a conspiracy against the Chief Justice after a former Supreme Court staffer alleged sexual harassment.Justice Patnaik, after completing his probe, shall file the report before the bench in a sealed cover, the top court said. It said the case will be listed after J Patnaik files his report.The bench also said that the inquiry by Justice Patnaik shall not affect the proceedings of the Supreme Court.While ordering the Justice Patnaik inquiry, the court said Bains would be bound to disclose all documents. Earlier, Bains had claimed that he had sensitive information that cannot be disclosed.Senior advocate Indira Jaising, while speaking to reporters after the order, said the Chief justice cannot be the master of the roster anymore and that his administrative and judicial work should be suspended till the sexual harassment allegations against him are looked into.She added that all the former staffers of the SC are witnesses in the case and questioned how the Chief Justice, being their ex-boss, could continue in this scenario.Earlier, during the hearing by a three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra, Jaising asked the court to probe the credentials of Utsav Bains, saying people who come to court, must come with clean hands.She said the bench is heavily consumed in probing the defence of the Chief Justice who is facing allegations of sexual harassment.She contended that such influence on the investigation would prejudice the complaint by the former staffer of the top court against the Chief Justice.The bench assured her that the investigation would be independent.Solicitor General Tushar Mehta intervened by recommending the formation of an SIT, but Jaising protested and requested the court to conduct a judicial inquiry.As per the Solicitor General’s suggestion regarding the formation of SIT into the matter, the bench said: “we can look into this aspect of the investigation.”The court also clarified that this probe would not prejudice the complaint made by the woman against the Chief Justice.The bench told Mehta that this is a very serious matter, and “we want to get to the root of this bench fixing issue, and the issue is so serious that we cannot divulge the details.”The bench observed that some fixer who claims to be a relative of the woman, who levelled sexual harassment charges against the Chief Justice, approached Utsav Bains for removal of the Chief Justice.”We don’t know the identity of this person….we need to find out the truth,” said the bench.The top court said some rich and powerful people want to control its functioning and asserted that the “fixers” must go.”People with money power are trying to run the registry of the top court…this is a really serious matter…people can be killed or maligned if the truth is brought forth…,” the bench said.Justice Mishra said, after learning about the alleged network that is trying to manipulate the Supreme Court, “we are in anguish”.He added that the bench has come to know these fixers are usually represented by senior advocates in the Supreme Court.”We want to tell the rich and powerful of this country that they cannot run the Supreme Court,” said an agitated Justice Mishra.(Inputs from agencies)
Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor KhanSalman Khan InstagramSalman Khan’s Dabangg 3 and Kareena Kapoor Khan’s film Good News that also features Akshay Kumar is going to be released just at a week’s gap in the month of December. However, Bebo is not worried about Salman’s action drama affecting the business of her film.Dabangg 3 is going to be released on December 20, and just after a week, Good News will hit the theatres on December 27.However, Kareena feels that Salman’s film will not have any impact on the box office collection of Good News and vice versa. The actress feels that the two films are of completely different genre, and will appeal to a different set of audience.”I think they are releasing one or two weeks apart. And also, I think there is no comparison between Good News and Dabangg. They are a different kind of films. I think our audience is very different and there would not be much impact,” Kareena said during a recent media interaction.She further said that Good News includes a strong star cast including herself, Akshay, Diljith Dosanjh and Kiara Advani, and she is confident people will like the film. Bebo had featured in Dabangg 2 in the much popular item song Fevicol Se.Earlier, Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt starrer Brahmastra was supposed to be released along with Dabangg 3, but the makers of the former recently changed its release date.From December 20, it has been pushed to 2020 summer. Director Ayan Mukerji had stated that he and his team took the decision as they were yet to finish VFX work for the film. But, many on social media had opined that makers of Brahmastra did not want to clash with Salman’s film, and hence took the decision.
Nikhil WairagarPR HandoutNikhil Wairagar, who is known for movies like Jalsa , Gatmat , Headline and also for his famous song Bai Wadyawar Ya from movie Jalsa , now turns into director. He is going to make his directorial debut with the movie “Hero” soon.Nikhil Wairagar, who started his carrier as a cricketer, and played many matches for his college, club , district level , state level and also corporate matches, had intrest in acting from young age. He had worked in many plays – both in English and Marathi, before getting work in films as actor. Later, he decided to completely move towards film industry and now from acting and writing, he turns into direction.As Gatmat movie, which was written by Nikhil Wairagar himself, got good response from the audience, he is now working on a project named Hero, which is also written by him and he is going to direct it for the first time . He is working in film industry for more than nine years and now he thinks he has learnt many things related to filmmaking. He is confident that he has chosen a good subject for his direction debut. He is working on the script for 6 months and now it is ready to go on floor soon .His upcoming movies like “Tu Fakta Ho Mhan” and “Tanga Palti Ghode Farar “in which he has done acting in a lead role are also in post-production stage .Marathi film industry is currently rising, and Nikhil thinks bringing unique films will make Marathi industry grow stronger. The casting of the film will soon be finalised.
Road Accident logoSome 274 people were killed and 848 others injured in around 205 road accidents across the country in 13 days during the Eid holidays, according to Bangladesh Jatri Kallyan Samity (BJKS), reports UNB.Besides, 106 people were killed and 14 others injured in 35 accidents in river and rail routes during the period from 19 June to 1 July.BJKS general secretary Mohammad Muzammel Haque Chowdhury said this at a press briefing at the Crime Reporters Association of Bangladesh (CRAB) office on Tuesday.He said the monitoring cell of the BJKS prepared the report based on reports published on 22 national dailies, six regional newspapers and eight online news portals.The BJKS secretary general also placed 12 demands, including formation of a road accident research unit at the road transport and bridges ministry, initiatives for vehicle speed controlling, digitisation of vehicle fitness process and banning the plying of unfit and risky vehicles on highways etc.
A Rohingya refugee carries her daughter and searches for help as they wait to receive permission from the Bangladeshi army to continue their way to the refugee camps in Palang Khali. ReutersSenior UN officials have urged the international community to come together at a global conference and send a strong message to Rohingyas and their “generous hosts in Bangladesh that the world is there for them in their greatest time of need”.The ministerial-level pledging conference will be held in Geneva on 23 October.It is being co-hosted by the European Union and the government of Kuwait, and co-organised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and OCHA.The conference aims to raise the necessary resources to enable the humanitarian community to meet the most urgent needs of Rohingya refugees who sought shelter and safety in Bangladesh.Since late August, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya trying to escape discrimination and persecution in Myanmar’s Rakhine state have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh, sparking the world’s fastest-growing humanitarian emergency, according to the United Nations.”We call on the international community to intensify efforts to bring a peaceful solution to the plight of the Rohingya, to end the desperate exodus, to support host communities and ensure the conditions that will allow for refugees’ eventual voluntary return in safety and dignity,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a joint statement Monday.”The origins and, thus, the solutions to this crisis lie in Myanmar,” UN High Commission for Refugees Filippo Grandi, UN aid Chief Mark Lowcock and Director General of IOM William Lacy Swing was quoted in their joint statement UNB received on Tuesday.They underscored that Bangladesh has kept its borders open, offering safety and shelter to fleeing families.”We’ve been moved by the welcome and generosity shown by the local communities towards the refugees,” the senior officials stated, while noting their respective agencies have been working in overdrive with the Government of Bangladesh, local charities, volunteers and non-governmental organisations to provide assistance. Still, much more is urgently needed.The ‘refugees’ are fully dependent on humanitarian assistance for food, water, health and other essential needs as basic services are under severe strain and some sites lack access to potable water and sanitation facilities, raising health risks for both the refugees and the hosting communities.”The efforts must be scaled up and expanded to receive and protect refugees and ensure they’re provided with basic shelter and acceptable living conditions. Every day more vulnerable people arrive with very little – if anything – and settle either in overcrowded existing camps or extremely congested makeshift sites,” the statement reads.The conference will provide governments an opportunity to show their solidarity and share the burden and responsibility.”Their further generous support for the Joint Response Plan, which was recently launched by the UN and partners, is urgently needed to sustain and scale up the large humanitarian effort already under way,” said the statement.It said the plan requires $434 million to meet the life-saving needs of all Rohingyas and their host communities – together an estimated 1.2 million people – for the difficult months to come.
Foreigners in Bangladesh formally remit $2b a yearForeigners working in Bangladesh repatriate $2 billion or Tk 165 billion a year through formal channels, according to Pew Research Center.However, unofficial estimate shows, Indian nationals working in the country alone take home Tk 320 billion annually.Around 85,000 foreigners legally work in Bangladesh, mostly in the export-oriented readymade garment (RMG) sector. But, industry insiders say, the number is much higher as many work without a valid work permit and they remit the money through illegal channels.In 2016, an aggregate amount of $2 billion was sent home by foreigners, said the US-based Pew Research Center, which carried out its study based on the World Bank data.The leading countries that receive remittances from Bangladesh include China, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, the USA, Vietnam, Nepal, Thailand, Japan, Norway and the UK.Referring to finance minister AMA Muhith, at a recent roundtable organised by Policy Research Institute, Bangladesh Enterprise Institute president Farooq Sobhan said the Indian nationals working in Bangladesh send home Tk 320 billion.Asked why so many foreigners get jobs, former president of Bangladesh Employers Federation and apparel sector businessman Fazlul Haque said to Prothom Alo, “The main reason is lack of job-oriented education and skills. The educational institutions do not teach as per the demands of the industry.””The young generation run after general education. But in the private sector, technical education is more important. So, young people are not getting jobs despite obtaining degrees and certificates. As a result, there is a growing frustration,” he added.An official number of the foreigners who remit money came from home minister Asaduzzaman Khan when he told parliament in February that 85,486 foreign nationals work in Bangladesh.India leads the pack with 35,386 people while China comes next with 13,286, according to official figure.Japan has 4,093 of its citizens while there are 4,093 Koreans, 3,395 Malaysians and 3,777 Sri Lankans working in Bangladesh, the home minister then said.A significant number of people from Thailand, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Germany, Singapore and Turkey are also working in different sectors in Bangladesh.There are allegations that a large number of foreign citizens work in Bangladesh on tourist visas. These people remain excluded in the official data. According to the Bangladesh Tourism Board, as many as 750,000 foreigners came to Bangladesh in 2017.According to World Bank data, Sri Lanka has no significant remittances sent from Bangladesh. However, there are many Sri Lankans working in the garment sector.The Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) and the NGO Affairs Bureau generally issue work permits to the foreign nationals.Most of these are issued by BIDA, which says that 3,171 foreigners were issued work permits in 2017 while another 4,113 had their permits renewed.BEPZA officials said there are 2,500 foreign citizens working in the country’s export processing zones and the foreigners get paid two or three times the Bangladeshis do.In the last one month, this correspondent spoke to a number of big organisations to know what roles the foreigners play. It was found that the foreigners mostly work in production management, machineries management, quality control and mid-level management of the organisation. Many foreigners work in the merchandising and buying houses.BEPZA officials said foreigners hold top positions in technical and product manufacturing departments at the factories in the export processing zones. Some also appoint foreign nationals as the managing director or a director.”There is a lack of English knowledge among our educated people.They do not have any practical knowledge either,” said ACI Group chairman M Anis Dowla.In reference to hiring a welding supervisor for one of his factories, he said, “An engineer applying for the position of welding supervisor did not know how to do welding. It’s because he had not learnt it practically. Even I learnt welding hands on.”Pran-RFL Group director (marketing) Kamruzzaman Kamal said, “Our students are more into general education. The country now needs people for the technical jobs, but we hardly get people with technical education.”Many entrepreneurs have expressed their views that higher education after the higher secondary level should be limited and more people should be made familiar with the technical education sector.Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) president Abul Kashem said, “A country like Germany gets its people ready for jobs as per the demand of the industry. We should also adopt such a policy here.”* This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Quamrul Hassan
BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia . Photo: Prothom AloHours after a High Court bench granted bail for six months to Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chairperson Khaleda Zia in two Cumilla cases on Monday, the government has filed a petition with the chamber judge seeking a stay on the HC order.The hearing on the stay petition is likely to be held anytime today, Monday, said deputy attorney general Md Bashir Ullah, reports UNB.Earlier in the morning, the High Court granted bail for six months to BNP chairperson and former prime minister Khaleda Zia in two cases of Cumilla and rejected the bail petition in a defamation case of Narail.A bench of justice AKM Asaduzzaman and justice JBM Hasan came up with the order.Of the cases, two were filed against Khaleda in Cumilla on charge of plotting to carry out subversive acts and another in Narail on defamation charges.The former prime minister has now been kept at the abandoned central jail at Nazimuddin Road after a special judge court sentenced her to seven years in jail and sent her to jail on 8 February this year.
File photo of construction work at the Rooppur nuclear power plant in Bangladesh. — The Hindu BusinessLineIndian companies are likely to participate in upcoming tenders for what The Hindu BusinessLine called non-critical works at the $12.6-billion Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in Bangladesh.The construction of the second 1,200-megawatt unit of the plant kicked off on Saturday.The project is being executed by the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) and Russia’s state-owned nuclear corporation Rosatom, the Indian newspaper mentioned in a report published on 14 July.The Hindu BusinessLIne quoting a source close to Rosatom, said infrastructure majors Larsen and Toubro (L&T), Tata Group and Shapoorji Pallonji Group, Anil Ambani-led Reliance Infrastructure are among companies exploring opportunities related to the Rooppur project.Indian players, however, are likely to face fierce competition from Chinese, Japanese and Korean companies that are partnering with local players, said the report.Over 70 tenders for various non-critical works at Rooppur plant have reportedly been floated by ASE Group so far. The potential opportunity could be in the range of $500 million to $1.2 billion spread across multiple contracts, said the report referring to “sources”.“Rooppur NPP is probably the first project of such complexity for Bangladesh, and it is natural for any country executing such a critical project for the first time to attract expertise from outside. While Russian companies will dominate at the equipment and critical service supply level, Indian EPC players could execute civic construction contracts as they have the required expertise,” the Indian newspaper quoted the person cited above as saying.The trilateral agreement for cooperation on the project signed by India, Russia and Bangladesh in March 2018 has opened up an opportunity for Indian companies to participate in construction and installation works as well as supply of non-critical materials and equipment for the project, Alexander Khazin, senior vice-president for International Projects of ASE Group, an engineering division of Rosatom and the general contractor for Rooppur NPP, reportedly said.Hindustan Construction Company Ltd (HCC) has earlioer this year bagged a $110-million contract for civil works at Rooppur NPP in a joint venture with Bangladesh-based MAX Group, where the Indian company holds 40 per cent share, the Hindu BusinessLine said.“HCC has become the first Indian company to participate in the international civil nuclear market,” Arjun Dhawan, director and Group CEO, said at the time, according to the report.
National Security Advisor Michael Flynn as he arrives for the Presidential Inauguration of Donald Trump at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. AFP file photoNational Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s political future was thrown into serious doubt Monday, when the White House said President Donald Trump was “evaluating” the aide’s contacts with the Russian government.At Trump’s behest, press secretary Sean Spicer issued a statement saying that the president was looking into Flynn’s private discussions with Moscow’s ambassador to Washington and subsequent actions.Flynn—the former head of defense intelligence whose encounters with Russian President Vladimir Putin have already drawn criticism—is accused of discussing the Obama administration’s election-hacking-related sanctions with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.Flynn had initially claimed he did not discuss sanctions, prompting Vice President Mike Pence to publicly come to his defense.Flynn now stands accused of inappropriate contacts with a foreign government and of misleading the vice president of the United States. White House officials said that Flynn has since apologized to Pence.“The president is evaluating the situation,” Spicer said, indicating that Trump was speaking to Pence and “various other people about what he considers the single most important subject there is—our national security.”In the cutthroat world of Washington politics, that could spell the beginning of the end, despite other Trump aides suggesting that Flynn has the full support of the president.The White House on Monday said that there was nothing wrong with Flynn contacting other governments per se.“I think general Flynn both during the transition and after, just as part of the job of national security advisor, is to speak with counterparts,” said Spicer.But he was quick to distance the president from any talk of sanctions—which could be seen as undermining then president Barack Obama’s policy and a potential breach of the law.Asked if the president was aware that Flynn would discuss sanctions with the Russian ambassador, Spicer said: “No, absolutely not. No way.”From inner circle to… ?Until now, Flynn has been an instrumental player in Trump’s inner circle.He was an early supporter of Trump’s improbable bid for the presidency and has encouraged tougher policies on Iran and a softer policy on Russia.That was a sharp break with the Obama administration, which introduced a wave of sanctions against Moscow over its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea, support for separatists in eastern Ukraine and what US intelligence says were its attempts to sway the 2016 election in Trump’s favor.Washington and Moscow had also clashed over alleged war crimes in Syria, where Russia is accused of aiding the bombing of hospitals and other civilian targets. Despite this, Flynn had argued for rapprochement.Several Democratic lawmakers have called on Flynn to resign over the situation, which has become a major embarrassment for the ruling Republicans.He would become the first personnel casualty of Trump’s White House, which is less than four weeks old.‘Staggering’ allegationsAdam Schiff, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, called the allegations “staggering,” saying that if they are true, Flynn should resign or be fired.The issue comes up just days before Trump has his first official talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, talks in which the president’s national security advisor would normally have a key role.Spicer said that Flynn continues to take part in those preparations.The Justice Department and Congress are both investigating possible links between Trump campaign advisors and Moscow, and US intelligence has concluded that Putin personally directed an operation to interfere in the US election.On 29 December, the Obama administration sanctioned four Russian individuals and five entities, and expelled 35 Russian diplomats in retaliation.
U.S. first lady Melania Trump speaks during a visit to Excel Academy Public Charter School in Washington, U.S., April 5, 2017. REUTERSBritain’s Daily Mail agreed on Wednesday to pay Melania Trump an undisclosed sum and issue an apology after it published an article saying the US first lady had offered “services beyond simply modelling” in her former job.President Donald Trump’s wife, 46, had sued the publisher of the Daily Mail in Britain and also filed a $150 million (120 million pound) lawsuit against it in New York, claiming the article had cost her millions of dollars in potential business.A person familiar with the situation said the settlement was worth less than $3 million, including legal costs and damages.The Daily Mail, which runs what it calls the world’s largest English-language newspaper website, apologised for the article on Wednesday and issued a retraction on its home page.“An article on 20th August 2016 about Melania Trump… questioned the nature of her work as a professional model, and republished allegations that she provided services beyond simply modelling,” publisher Associated Newspapers said.“We accept that these allegations about Mrs Trump are not true and we retract and withdraw them … we have agreed to pay her damages and costs.”At the High Court in London, Trump’s lawyer said the article, headlined “Racy photos and troubling questions about his wife’s past that could derail Trump”, was published as a two-page spread and accompanied by an old photo of Melania Trump standing naked with her front against a wall but looking back at the camera.“Readers of the newspaper that day could not fail to miss the article”, John Kelly told the court. “The article included false and defamatory claims about the claimant which questioned the nature of her work as a professional model.“The suggestion that such allegations even merit investigation is deeply offensive and has caused a great deal of upset and distress to the claimant,” he said.
Lt Gen Michael Flynn, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, testifying during a hearing before the House (Select) Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Photo: AFPThe Pentagon said Thursday it is investigating President Donald Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn over payments he received from Russian government-linked firms.The Department of Defense said it was probing whether the retired lieutenant general failed to obtain required prior approval before accepting money from foreign governments.Flynn was specifically warned when he retired in 2014 that he had to get advance permission before accepting consulting fees, salaries, gifts, or travel expenses from a foreign government.Flynn, the former defense intelligence chief, was fired by the White House after 24 days as Trump’s top national security aide over his communications with Russia’s US ambassador, amid intense concern that Moscow had directed a concerted effort to interfere in last year’s presidential election.But the Pentagon investigation, launched in early April, appears focused on the more than $33,000 dollars Flynn earned to attend an RT television gala in December 2015, where he sat at a table with Russian President Vladimir Putin.It could also extend to the $530,000 Flynn was paid to lobby for Turkey during last year’s presidential election campaign.Such payments possibly violate Defense Department and US constitutional prohibitions on retired military personnel conducting activities involving foreign governments without advance clearance. Flynn ended a 33-year army career as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency during 2012-2014.The Flynn probe adds to a number of investigations in Congress and the Department of Justice relating to Russian interference in the 2016 election, which US intelligence says was designed to boost Trump’s prospects to win the presidency.The Pentagon confirmed its investigation after the House Oversight Committee released a 2014 letter the DIA sent to Flynn advising specifically that he needed advance permission from Congress before accepting any payments from foreign governments.Flynn’s lawyer has said Flynn briefed the DIA before and after his Russia trip. But on Thursday Elijah Cummings, the committee’s vice chair, said the DIA informed the committee that there is no evidence that Flynn requested approval to take the money from RT, which the US says is an arm of the Russian government.“We have no evidence, zilch,” that Flynn sought any approval to accept foreign payments, Cummings said.Cummings also lashed out at the White House for not providing any documentation on Flynn in response to the committee’s request.“I honestly do not understand why the White House is covering up for Michael Flynn … after the president fired him,” Cumming said.“It makes the American people think White House has something to hide,” he added.
Drivers ploughed into pedestrians in two quick-succession, separate attacks in Barcelona and another popular Spanish seaside city Thursday and Friday, killing 13 people and injuring more than 100 others.In the first incident which police qualified as a “terrorist attack,” the driver of a white van sped into a street packed full of tourists in central Barcelona on Thursday afternoon, knocking people out of the way and leaving 13 dead.Some eight hours later in Cambrils, a city 120 kilometres south of Barcelona, an Audi A3 car hit pedestrians, injuring six civilians-one of them in a critical condition-and one police officer, said the government of the Spanish region of Catalonia where both cities are located.Police shot dead four of the Cambrils attackers and a fifth later died of his injuries.They said they were “working on the hypothesis that the terrorists shot dead in Cambrils are linked to what happened in Barcelona”.While little more was known about the attack in Cambrils in the early hours of Friday morning, witnesses in Barcelona told of scenes of chaos and horror.They recounted how bodies were strewn along the famous Las Ramblas boulevard where the driver went on a rampage as other people fled for their lives, screaming in panic.The carnage in a city hugely popular with tourists from around the world is the latest in a wave of attacks in Europe where vehicles have been used as weapons of terror.As world leaders united in condemning the carnage, the IS propaganda agency Amaq claimed that it was carried out by “soldiers” from the jihadist group.Police announced the arrest of two suspects, identified as a Spaniard and a Moroccan, but said the driver was still on the run.“We’re united in grief,” Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said in a televised address after rushing to Barcelona, the biggest city in Catalonia, a region in Spain’s northeast whose separatist government is defying Madrid with a drive for independence.“Above all we’re united in the firm intention to defeat those who want to take our values and way of life from us.”There were at least 18 nationalities among the Barcelona victims who came from countries as varied as France, Venezuela, Australia, Ireland, Peru, Algeria and China, according to Spain’s civil protection agency.Belgium said one of its citizens had died in the Las Ramblas assault, while The Hague said three Dutch were injured and a Greek diplomat reported three nationals had been wounded-a woman and her two children.‘Whole street started to run’ -Las Ramblas is one of Barcelona’s busiest streets, lined with shops and restaurants and normally packed with tourists and street performers until well into the night.“When it happened I ran out and saw the damage,” local shop worker Xavi Perez told AFP.“There were bodies on the ground with people crowding round them. People were crying. There were lots of foreigners.”Footage broadcast on Spanish television showed a white van, its front crushed, abandoned by its driver on a road surrounded by police cars.Tom Gueller, who lives on a road next to Las Ramblas said he saw the vehicle speeding along the boulevard.“It wasn’t slowing down at all. It was just going straight through the middle of the crowds in the middle of the Ramblas,” he told BBC radio.Europe’s deadliest attack -Spain had until now been spared the kind of extremist violence that has rocked nearby France, Belgium and Germany.But it was hit by what is still Europe’s deadliest jihadist attack in March 2004, when bombs exploded on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people in an attack claimed by Al Qaeda-inspired extremists.Police said Thursday that one of the arrested suspects in the Barcelona attack was a Spaniard born in Melilla, a Spanish territory on Morocco’s north coast, and the other a Moroccan named as Driss Oukabir.The Spaniard was arrested in Alcanar, about 200 kilometres south of Barcelona, the scene of an explosion in a house late Wednesday that left one person dead and seven wounded and is believed to be linked to Thursday’s assault.“We suspect that they (the occupants) were preparing an explosive device,” Josep Lluis Trapero of the regional Catalonia police told reporters.Thursday’s attack drew condemnation from across the globe.‘Revolting attack’ -US President Donald Trump condemned the “terror attack” and said the United States “will do whatever is necessary to help”, adding: “Be tough & strong, we love you!”France’s President Emmanuel Macron-whose country has witnessed a series of bloody jihadist atrocities including a truck rampage in Nice in July 2016 that killed 86 people-said his thoughts were with the victims of the “tragic attack”.The Nice carnage and other assaults including the 2015 shootings and bombings on Paris nightspots were claimed by the Islamic State, but it is believed to be the first IS claim of an attack in Spain.Catalonia has the highest concentration of radicalised Islamists in the country along with Madrid and the Spanish territories of Ceuta and Melilla in northern Morocco.According to the interior ministry, more than 190 “jihadist terrorists” have been arrested since 2015, most of them for propaganda, recruitment for extremist groups or “glorifying terrorism”.
Suspected Islamists attacked a string of police stations in a small town in northern Mozambique killing two policemen but 14 of the gunmen were slain, police said on Saturday.Police have been slow in releasing details of the attacks which occurred on Thursday and Friday in Mocimboa de Praia.”We recorded 14 deaths and several bandits were wounded,” police spokesman Inacio Dina told AFP.Police said the attacks were coordinated.Local media said three police stations in the sleepy town, 80 kilometres (50 miles) from natural gas fields, were targeted.At a news conference on Thursday, Dina suggested the attackers were linked to a homegrown “radical Islamic sect” but gave no details.Police have so far arrested 10 other gunmen, recovered four firearms and more than 100 rounds of ammunition.”The motive of the attacks is still unknown but in the past police arrested some religious leaders of Islamic extremist sects,” Dina said.”The way they operated makes us believe that there is a structure behind the group,” Dina told AFP, but ruled out any links “between the attackers and external forces”.”There is no evidence that they are members of Shabaab or Boko Haram. According to the information gathered, all those captured or killed are Mozambicans,” said the police spokesman speaking from the capital Maputo.A local journalist suggested on social media that the attackers belonged to the virtually unknown group, Swalissuna, which has been in existence for about five years.”They have specific grievances with the police and aimed the attack at them,” tweeted journalist and private media owner Erik Charas.The attacks lasted two days, until the police dispatched special forces from Pemba, 500 kilometres away.Armed clashes and assassinations of politicians are not uncommon in Mozambique.On-and-off clashes have occurred in recent years between government troops and armed militias loyal to opposition party and former rebel movement Renamo.But a truce unilaterally declared by Renamo in December has been observed with only minor breaches.
French police secure a street after a man killed a passer-by in a knife attack in the heart of Paris and injured four others before being shot dead by police, according to French authorities in Paris, France, on 12 May 2018. ReutersA knifeman shouting “Allahu akbar” was shot dead by police in central Paris late Saturday after he killed one person and injured four others, sparking a terror probe and panic on the streets of France’s capital.The attack took place near the city’s main opera house in an area full of bars, restaurants and theatres which were brimming on a weekend night.Witnesses described scenes of panic as Parisians realised another potential terror attack was underway in a country already reeling from a string of jihadist assaults in the last three years that have killed more than 245 people.“I was taking orders and I saw a young woman trying to get into the restaurant in panic,” Jonathan, a waiter at a Korean restaurant, told AFP. The woman was bleeding and the attacker appeared behind her. He said a young man tried to fend off the assailant who then fled.“The attacker entered a shopping street, I saw him with a knife in his hand,” he said. “He looked crazy”.Milan, 19, said he saw “several people in distress” including a woman with wounds to her neck and leg.“Firemen were giving her first aid. I heard two, three shots and a policeman told me that the man had been overpowered.”In a tweet French president Emmanuel Macron said: “France once again pays the price of blood.”Prosecutors cited witnesses as saying the man shouted “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest) as he went on the rampage, and added that a terror investigation had been launched.Wounded out of dangerThe Islamic State group claimed responsibility, according to the SITE monitoring group, but provided no corroborating proof to back the claim.“The executor of the stabbing operation in the city of Paris is a soldier of the Islamic State and the operation was carried out in response to the calls to target the coalition states,” a “security source” told IS’s official Amaq news agency, according to SITE.Two of those wounded were rushed to hospital in a serious condition but interior minister Gerard Collomb later told reporters all the victims were out of danger and would survive their injuries.“I have just seen the person who was most seriously injured, she is better, she is saved,” he said.French prime minister Edouard Philippe said police were on the scene “within five minutes” of the attack and that some nine minutes later the assailant was dead, he added.“The speed of the response obviously avoided a heavier toll,” he said.A police source told AFP one officer tried to restrain the attacker with a taser but when that failed a colleague shot the man dead.Scenes of panicThe attack took place on Rue Monsigny in the second arrondissement, an area that lies between the main opera house and the Louvre museum, two major tourist attractions. A large area was cordoned off where police, fire and rescue vehicles converged.Shocked tourists and residents looked on from behind the security perimeter.“I was on the cafe terrace, I heard three, four shots, it happened very fast,” said 47-year-old Gloria.“The bartenders told us to come inside very quickly. Then I went out to see what was going on, and then I saw a man on the ground,” she added.One witness, who gave her first name Maxine, said panic spread as word got out that an attack was taking place.“We saw someone coming out of a building who said he saw the assailant slaughter someone, so people took refuge in the bar,” she said.France has suffered a series of major Islamist attacks including the massacre at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, the November 2015 attacks that killed 130 in Paris, and the 2016 Bastille Day truck attack in Nice that killed more than 80.There have also been a string of less deadly but frequent attacks by lone wolf jihadists wielding knives or guns. Most of the attacks have either been claimed by the Islamic State group or been carried out in their name.A state of emergency put in place just after the 2015 Paris attacks was lifted in October when Macron’s centrist government passed a new law boosting the powers of security forces.French far-right leader Marine Le Pen called for greater security measures after Saturday’s attack.“The French people will no longer be content with talk, they expect action,” she said.Thousands of French troops remain on the streets under an anti-terror operation known as Sentinelle, patrolling transport hubs, tourist hotspots and other sensitive sites.
Gunman, who was killed in a brief army command operation, lying on the floor of Chattogram airport on Sunday. Photo: Prothom AloRAB has claimed to have identified the man who was killed in a commando operation at Shah Amanat International Airport in Chattogram, while he was trying to hijack a Biman aircraft.According to an SMS sent by the Rapid Action Battalion on Monday morning, the man has been identified as Md Polash Ahmed, according to RAB’s criminal database.RAB said that the fingerprints of the young man killed in the commando attack matches those of a criminal appearing in the database.According to their records, his name is Md Ahmed Polash, son of Peyar Jahan Sardar from Pirijpur of Sonargaon in Narayanganj.Also, according to the passenger list of the ‘Mayurpankhi’ flight (BG 147), Polash Ahmed was a domestic passenger flying from Dhaka to Chittagong. His name on the list appeared as AHMED/POLASH and his seat number was 17A.The Biman aircraft, dubbed ‘Mayurpankhi’, was supposed to take off from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka on Sunday, at 5:05 in the afternoon for Dubai, via Chattogram.Immediately after taking to air, the hijacker emerged and it took around two tension-filled hours for the drama to finally end. The armed young man within the aircraft was killed in an eight minute commando operation at 7:24 in the evening on Sunday at the Chattogram Shah Amanat International Airport.
Amir Khan (R) of the Pakistani Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) party hugs Jahangir Tareen (L), the senior leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice) party of Imran Khan, upon his arrival at the MQM headquarter in Karachi in the early hours of 31 July 2018.Imran Khan’s party has announced it has acquired enough seats in Pakistan’s lower house through coalition talks to form a majority government.Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) spokesman Fawad Chaudhry said Monday after getting the backing of other political parties, as well as seats reserved for minorities and women, Khan’s party was in a position to “comfortably” form the federal government.”We currently have the backing of 168 members including coalition parties and the reserved seats for minorities and women and we are in talks with more independent candidates who will join us in the coming days,” he told journalists in Islamabad.PTI has reached out to regional parties and independents to get the required number of seats to form a government.Meanwhile, three major political parties including Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party on Monday announced they would form a grand opposition in parliament.Talking to journalists after a meeting, former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said the parties had agreed in principle to form a strong opposition both inside and outside the parliament.Representatives of the three parties said they will issue a white paper about alleged election rigging.No date has yet been set for protests announced over the weekend by parties including the PML-N.The prime minister in waiting, World Cup cricket hero Khan faces a difficult road ahead as his relatively inexperienced party grapples with an economy inching toward crisis and security issues on Pakistan’s borders.Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has spoken with Khan to congratulate him on the election result, and “reiterated his vision of peace and development in the entire neighbourhood”, Modi’s office said Monday.Analysts had said it should be straightforward for Khan to form a coalition with independents and small Islamist parties, as they know he is favoured by the powerful military.But he has already created unease by pandering to Islamists during the campaign, and such a coalition could fuel fears his government will cater to the religious right.The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and regional groups based in Balochistan and Sindh are among those to join forces with Khan, spokesman Chaudhry said.