JI chief expresses concern over terrorism

LAHORE: Jamaat-e-Islami Acting Chief Liaqat Baloch expressed deep concern over the fresh wave of terrorism. He added anti-Pakistan forces were carrying out terrorism activities to support a “colonial agenda”.

While speaking at an Iftar party in Gopal Nagar, he offered condolences to the families of those martyred in Quetta and Parachinar and prayed for the quick recovery of the injured. He expressed hope in security forces in wiping out terrorism from the country.

On Eid, protesters continue rallying in Islamabad against Parachinar bombings

He stressed on the need of uniting the Muslim Ummah, saying this could be achieved by feeling the agony of brothers in distress.

He said freedom was a right of the Palestinians and Kashmiris. “Until these issues are not resolved, world peace will remain a dream.”

He said world powers patronised Israel and were continuing their game to divide the Muslim world.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 25th, 2017.

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Helicopter hurled grenades at Venezuela Supreme Court: Maduro

CARACAS: A helicopter dropped two grenades on Venezuela’s Supreme Court building in a “terror attack” against the government, President Nicolas Maduro said in a speech Tuesday.

“I have activated the entire armed forces to defend the peace,” he said in remarks delivered from the Miraflores presidential palace. Maduro said he has put the military on alert to respond to the alleged assault.

“Sooner or later, we are going to capture that helicopter and those that carried out this terror attack,” he declared.

He did not say when the alleged attack is supposed to have occurred, and said no one was injured and that one of the grenades failed to detonate.

In his speech, Maduro, 54, said that in addition to firing on Venezuela’s high court, the helicopter flew over the Justice and Interior Ministeries.

The beleaguered president, who for weeks has been thundering about alleged coup plots against him, said the aircraft was flown by a pilot who worked for his former Interior and Justice minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres, from whom he is now estranged.

Clashes at Venezuela protest against ‘dictatorship’

Earlier Tuesday, Maduro repeated claims of a US-backed coup attempt and angrily warned President Donald Trump that Venezuela would fight back against such a move. His comments came a day after he announced the arrests of five opponents he accused of plotting against him to clear the way for a US invasion.

It was one of the more dramatic in a regular series of anti-US tirades by the socialist leader, who is resisting opposition calls for elections to remove him. “If Venezuela were dragged into chaos and violence… we would fight,” Maduro bellowed in a speech to supporters.

If a coup prevented his side fulfilling his contested reform plans, he said, “we would achieve it by arms.”

He said that an armed intervention in his country would spark a crisis that would dwarf those caused by conflicts in the Middle East.

Addressing Trump, he said: “You are responsible for restraining the madness of the Venezuelan right-wing.”

Maduro has a number of times claimed that the United States is to blame for the grave political and economic crisis in the oil-producing country, which has fueled the often violent demonstrations of recent months.

Clashes in anti-Maduro protests over the past three months have left 76 people dead, prosecutors say.

Fresh Venezuela clashes after man set on fire by crowd

The opposition blames Maduro for an economic crisis that has caused shortages of food and medicine in the oil-rich country.

They regularly accuse him of repressing and jailing opponents. Judicial NGO Foro Penal says there are 383 political prisoners in Venezuela.

Addressing a crowd over the weekend, Maduro had said detainees would face military trial over an alleged coup plot, backed by Venezuelan opposition leaders and aimed at precipitating a US intervention in the country. “I am not exaggerating when I say it would have involved the arrival of American ships and troops in Venezuelan waters, on Venezuelan soil,” Maduro said.

And on Saturday the head of the Organisation of American States dug his heels in a war of words with Caracas, flatly rejecting its demand that he resign.

Maduro had suggested that Luis Almagro – who has criticised the Venezuelan government of violating human rights, interfering in elections and detaining political prisoners – step down in exchange for the country’s continued membership in the regional body.

Though Almagro dismissed that notion, the OAS General Assembly was unable to reach agreement on a plan to deal with the instability in Venezuela at a meeting in Cancun last week.

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Multinationals hit by global wave of cyberattacks

KIEV: A global wave of cyberattacks that began in Russia and Ukraine on Tuesday wrought havoc on government and corporate computer systems as it spread to Western Europe and across the Atlantic.

Several multinational companies said they were targeted, including US pharmaceutical giant Merck, Russian state oil giant Rosneft, British advertising giant WPP and the French industrial group Saint-Gobain.

The first reports of trouble came from Ukrainian banks, Kiev’s main airport and Rosneft, in a major incident reminiscent of the recent WannaCry virus.

Some IT experts identified the virus as “Petrwrap”, a modified version of the Petya ransomware which hit last year and demanded money from victims in exchange for the return of their data.

Manhunt for hackers behind global cyberattack

But global cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab said: “Our preliminary findings suggest that it is not a variant of Petya ransomware as publically reported, but a new ransomware that has not been seen before,” which it named “NotPetya”.

The cyberattack also recalled a ransomware outbreak last month which hit more than 150 countries and a total of more than 200,000 victims with the WannaCry ransomware.

The virus is “spreading around the world, a large number of countries are affected,” Costin Raiu, a researcher at the Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab said in a Twitter post.

In the United States, Merck was hit as was New York law firm of DLA Piper.

“We confirm our company’s computer network was compromised today as part of a global hack. Other organisations have also been affected,” Merck said on Twitter.

“It seems to be done by professionals criminals, and I think money is the motivation,” said Sean Sullivan, a researcher at the Finnish cybersecurity group F-Secure.

He said that unlike the recent WannaCry attack, this “Petrwrap” attack has sophisticated elements that could make it easier to rapidly infect many more systems.

British hospitals hit by cyber attacks

Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman wrote on Facebook that the attacks in his country were “unprecedented” but insisted that “important systems were not affected.”

However, the radiation monitoring system at Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear site has been taken offline after it was targeted in the attack, forcing employees to use hand-held counters to measure levels, officials said Tuesday.

The technological systems were working “as usual” at the plant that exploded in 1986, however.

The attacks started around 2:00 pm Moscow time (1100GMT) and quickly spread to 80 companies in Ukraine and Russia, said cybersecurity company Group IB.

The companies affected were hit by a type of ransomware that locks users out of the computer and demands purchase of a key to reinstate access, Group IB said.

The cryptolocker demands $300 in bitcoins and does not name the encrypting program, which makes finding a solution difficult, Group IB spokesman Evgeny Gukov said.

Ukraine’s central bank said several lenders had been hit in the country, hindering operations and leading the regulator to warn other financial institutions to tighten security measures.

Banks were experiencing “difficulty in servicing customers and performing banking operations” due to the attacks, the bank said in a statement.

Rosneft said earlier that its servers suffered a “powerful” cyberattack but thanks to its backup system “the production and extraction of oil were not stopped.”

The wave of cyberattacks also impacted Maersk, a global cargo shipping company; Saint-Gobain, a French company producing glass and other construction materials; and British-based WPP.

In Amsterdam, the Dutch parcel delivery company TNT, which operates in 200 countries around the world,  said its systems had been affected. “We are assessing the situation and are implementing remediation steps as quickly as possible,” the company, part of FedEx, said in a statement to AFP.

Experts also said this latest attack could heighten fears that companies may be more vulnerable to cyberattacks than suspected, potentially putting personal data at risk.

“This will undeniably affect trust in these organisations and raise questions of competency,” said Louis Rynsard, a director at the corporate communications agency SBC London.

“The long-lasting impact of a cyberattack cannot be overstated,” he said.

The fight against cyberattacks has sparked exponential growth in global protection spending, with the cyber security market estimated at $120 billion this year, more than 30 times its size just over a decade ago.

But even that massive figure looks set to be dwarfed within a few years, experts said, after ransomware attacks crippled computers worldwide in the past week.

 

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Karachi braces for rain as Met dept predicts showers across country

KARACHI  : The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation has imposed an emergency in the city after the Pakistan Meteorological Department predicted on Tuesday widespread rains across the country in the next 48 hours.

In a weather advisory, the met office predicted rains and thunderstorms in the next 48 hours in Upper Punjab, Lower Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Eastern Balochistan and Kashmir regions.

 

img-20170627-wa0003_720

Karachi Deputy Mayor Arshad Vohra has alerted all local districts heads and officials and they have been summoned at the mayor’s office on the third day of Eid (Wednesday).

Vohra has also ordered cleaning up of all storm-water drains and drainage systems in the city.

Citizens have been urged to contact their local government representatives or the Madadgar helpline in case of an emergency.

According to the met department’s advisory, the monsoon season began in the country on Monday and its strength is likely to increase from Wednesday.

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British woman’s whirlwind holiday romance in Sri Lanka turns into nightmare

A 59-year-old British woman, whose young husband was murdered in an alleged blackmail plot, has revealed troubling details of their controversial marriage that has left her trapped in Sri Lanka – saying her husband never wanted sex and turned violent before he was killed.

Diane De Zoysa, 59, said 26-year-old hotel worker Priyanjana was passionate during their whirlwind holiday romance in 2011.

But after selling her Edinburgh home and quitting her council job to be with him, Diane said he lost interest in her physically – and suspects he was hiding a secret, second wife.

The divorcee – who says she gave her husband about £100,000 in total after selling her house in Scotland – said her dream turned into a nightmare as she was left alone and lonely living in a home next door to his family. PHOTO COURTESY: MailOnline

She said the last few months with Priyanjana, 33 years her junior, who was shot dead last month were ‘tough’ as he became frustrated and flew into rages.

Indian woman claims she was duped, forced to marry Pakistani at gunpoint

Speaking to MailOnline from Sri Lanka, where she said has been stranded with no money since Priyanajana was shot dead last month, Diane said: “We had sex more when I was here on holiday than when I was living here. After I moved here we didn’t do it very often, only nine times last year and once this year.”

Diane – who says she gave her husband about £100,000 in total after selling her house in Scotland – said her dream turned into a nightmare as she was left alone and lonely living in a home next door to his family.

She said she now believes the marriage was “all about the money”.

“I don’t know what happened but he didn’t come home as often as I thought he would.

“The last few months were very hard as we argued all the time and he would get angry and smash things.

“He knocked the fan over and it cracked it still works. He threw my CD rack on the floor and it broke. Then he swiped my ashtray and stick holder into the floor and it smashed and it went everywhere.

Diane said her young husband was passionate with they first met – but that last year they only had sex nine times as she suspects that he was hiding a secret second wife. PHOTO COURTESY: MailOnline

“He would always threaten to go to Colombo or Dubai to work and not come home. He never did that though. He once said that he would go to work in Korea but never did.

“He never hit me, I was the one who would hit him and slap him as he would mock me and laugh at me.

“It was quite volatile towards the end. I wanted to leave him but I had nowhere to go and no money.

“I didn’t want him to die but now I can move on with my life. I have to start all over again. It’s not going to be easy, especially if I have no money.”

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She went on: “I should have realised it was just about the money. My friends thought that he was just marrying me for the money.

“Once I came out here he wanted money all the time.”

Diane met her husband in 2011 and married him in Sri Lanka seven months later. She moved to Sri Lanka permanently in February 2015, before returning to Scotland in June, when her husband got a job in the country’s capital Colombo.

She explained that she decided to return to the country in September because she ‘really missed’ her husband.

However, on returning, she was often left at home by herself – despite his family living next door – and was never allowed to go out on her own.

Now, as she languishes in Sri Lanka, desperate to return home, her brother Stewart Peebles said the family urged her not to go.

The former Merchant Navy seaman said: “None of the family here wanted her to go out there in the first place. Family and friends tried to put her off it, she couldn’t speak the language and his English wasn’t so good.

“She’s stubborn and was in love with this guy so she put her house up for sale, left her job and moved out.

“We all told her the age gap was just too much, I think his mum is even a year younger than my sister.

“I think my sister felt boxed in and lonely, she doesn’t know the language, she doesn’t have many friends out there and it isn’t exactly a safe area for her to go out on her own.”

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He continued: “She’s gutsy and seen this move as a big adventure, but she hid from me until a year and half before she moved because she knew what I would say, what we all would say; he wants one thing and one thing only, and that’s your money.”

The pair had met when she was on holiday in the country six years ago. Diane (pictured on her wedding day) returned seven months later and married the hotel worker. PHOTO COURTESY: MailOnline

Priyanjana was murdered last month at a friend’s house. Diane says she believes her husband was shot dead by men trying to blackmail him for money.

Diane said: “From what I’ve been told two men turned up on mopeds looking for him. They shot him three times, twice in the chest and once in the stomach.

“His friends took him to hospital but he died straight away. A woman came round and told me he’s dead, he’s been shot.

“His friend told me they were jealous because he was rich. They were jealous because he had a nice a house, a minibus and a tuk-tuk.

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“They blackmailed him. He did give them some money but they wanted more. Because they didn’t give him more, they shot him. They must have gone looking for him.”

The widow says she is currently unable to return to her native country due to her financial situation and believes that her husband’s family now want to keep the money she handed over.

Diane is now trapped in Sri Lanka with no money. PHOTO COURTESY: MailOnline

She told MailOnline she now “regrets” her decision to move out to Sri Lanka.

“I do regret coming back out here after what’s happened and how he treated me,’ she said. ‘I want go back to Scotland. My life now is so lonely.”

She says she has been in touch with the British Consulate in Colombo and is attempting to establish her rights.

Two men are understood to have been arrested in connection with her husband’s death.

A Foreign and Commonwealth office spokesman said: “Our High Commission in Sri Lanka is providing assistance.”

This article originally appeared on MailOnline.

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It seems killing of innocents in Kashmir means nothing to US: Nisar

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar said on Tuesday that the US State Department’s statement following India’s Prime Minister’s visit gave the impression is if the American government did not care about the lives of innocent Kashmiris.

Nisar expressed his concerns a few hours after the US declared Syed Salahuddin, the supreme commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, a global terrorist.

Nisar said the US administration was siding with India, which was not only involved in grave human rights violations in Indian occupied-Kashmir (IOK) but had also been portraying the legitimate freedom movement there as terrorism from the very beginning.

“It seems as if international human rights laws are not applicable in Kashmir and the killing of innocents there means nothing to the US,” he added.

Clashes hit held Kashmir on Eid

“Ignoring the worst form of state terrorism [in IOK] does not only mock justice and international norms, but also exposes the dual standards of those upholding human and democratic rights.”

In this situation, Nisar maintained, it was the need of hour to exhibit national unity and resilience and assure our Kashmiri brethren that Pakistan and its people would not stop extending political, diplomatic and moral support to them.

“We will continue to advocate Kashmiris’ cause at every platform and stir up the conscience of the international community.”

The minister reiterated that Pakistan would continue to struggle until Kashmiris were given their rights as per the requirements of justice and the resolutions of the United Nations. “Kashmiris are destined for their right to self-determination and freedom from Indian oppression and no power on earth can deprive them of that,” he added.

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On Eid, protesters continue rallying in Islamabad against Parachinar bombings

Members of the Shia community have been rallying in Islamabad against the twin bombings in Parachinar last week that killed 72 people, even continuing their protest on the first and second days of Eidul Fitr on Monday and Tuesday.

The first blast took place on June 23 around 5 in the evening in Turi Market as people were busy shopping for Eid, while the second explosion went off as rescuers and bystanders rushed to help the survivors of the first blast. As of Monday, the death toll had reached 72.

Parachinar wrecked by back-to-back blasts

However, neither senior government officials nor leaders of major political parties have visited Parachinar yet. Residents of the town in Kurram Agency and other members of the community have been holding a sit-in in Islamabad since the attacks to protest against government apathy and lack of coverage by media.

A sit-in was staged in Islamabad by the Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) outside the National Press Club and a protest rally was also organised from NPC to China Chowk.

We protesting in Islamabad against Government's involvement in recent bomb blasts in #Parachinar, no media coverage! pic.twitter.com/D7bqwcEP3C

— Parachinar News (@Pcr_News) June 27, 2017

Joined a group of protesters from #Parachinar staging a sit in near the Press Club in Islamabad on Eid day. #Justice4Parachinar pic.twitter.com/sykBPcXr6X

— ???? ???? (@IamAmmarYaser) June 26, 2017

Prominent leaders including Syed Munir Hussain of the Pakistan People’s Party, Allama Amin Shaheedi, the head of the Islamic Research Institute and former Capital Development Authority director Mustafa Kazmi participated in the protest.

Parachinar death toll tops 72

Over 200 members of the Shia community including MWM activists took to the streets carrying banners decrying the government’s neglect and demanding justice.

 

#Dharna seems for #Parachinar victims #BlueArea #Islamabad right now pic.twitter.com/Lb1TketuIN

— °• A J khan •° (@Banisai) June 27, 2017

The protest outside National Press Club Islamabad has transformed into a sit-in. The govt given an ultimatum of 24 hours. #Parachinar pic.twitter.com/ln7pH1UQEB

— Ali Salman Alvi (@alisalmanalvi) June 26, 2017

Parachinar, a Shia-majority town in Kurram Agency, has been at the target of terrorists for years. Friday’s bombings were the third such attack in the city this year. A bombing in February and then again in March claimed more than 60 lives and left more than 250 people injured.

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Two alpinists go missing on Nanga Parbat

ISLAMABAD .: Two alpinists, a Spaniard and an Argentinian, have gone missing while attempting to summit a peak in northern Pakistan nicknamed “Killer Mountain”, mountaineering experts said on Tuesday.

“Alberto Zerain, a Spanish alpinist, and Mariano Galvan, an Argentinian national, went missing while trying to climb Nanga Parbat,” the world’s ninth highest mountain, Alpine Club of Pakistan spokesman Karrar Haidri told AFP.

Muhammad Iqbal, the owner of Summit Karakorum, the tour operating company that had arranged the climb, said the duo had left base camp on June 19 but were holed up in their tent for three days at an altitude of 6,100 metres (20,000 feet) due to bad weather.

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“They pushed for the summit again as the weather got better but lost contact with our staff at base camp on Friday,” he added.

“Our sherpas on the mountain estimate them to be somewhere above 7,000 metres which makes it impossible for them to climb and search so we have requested a search and rescue helicopter, which will start either today or tomorrow depending on weather conditions.”

At 8,125 metres, Nanga Parbat earned its grisly nickname after more than 30 climbers died trying to conquer it before the first successful summit in 1953.

In 2013 gunmen shot dead 10 foreign climbers and their Pakistani guide at the Nanga Parbat base camp – one American with dual Chinese citizenship, two other Chinese, three Ukrainians, two Slovakians, one Lithuanian and one Nepalese.

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Northern Pakistan is a magnet for mountaineers and is home to some of the tallest mountains in the world, including K2 – at 8,611 metres, the world’s second highest peak, but often deemed a more challenging climb than the highest, Mount Everest.

Nestled between the western end of the Himalayas, the Hindu Kush mountains and the Karakoram range, the Gilgit-Baltistan region houses 18 of the world’s 50 highest peaks.

It is also home to three of the world’s seven longest glaciers outside the polar regions. Hundreds of its mountains have never been climbed.

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New island appears off the coast of North Carolina

A new island has surfaced in the sea off the coast of North Carolina, drawing locals and tourists to its shores.

Dubbed “Shelly Island” because of the abundance of shells found there, the island appeared almost overnight at the popular Cape Hatteras National Seashore, according to locals.

Photographer Chad Koczera, vacationing in the area with his fiancee, was also on the hunt for shells went he spotted the island.

“We originally headed that way to collect shells after a storm,” Koczera said.

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The photographer spotted the mysterious island, but realised he couldn’t access it by foot. So, he sent his drone up to take some photos.

The island is roughly one mile long and located in surfing hotspot Cape Point.

But officials have warned that people should not attempt to swim to the island because the waters are deep and the current is strong.

Dave Hallac, superintendent of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, told local media that Cape Point’s shoreline is constantly changing, and the island could disappear as quickly as it arrived.

 

This article originally appeared on CNN Travel. 

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Vivo to launch X9S and X9S Plus next month

Chinese smartphone manufacturer Vivo has started sending out press invites for a launch event that will be held at Bejing on July 6 for its products, Vivo X9S and X9S Plus smartphones, according to Gizbot.

On the invite, there is a model with a Vivo phone in her pocket. On closely looking at the phone you can see that the rear panel of the upcoming smartphone looks very similar to that of its predecessor. It has a metal body design and the one in the photo seems to be a Gold colour variant.

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The main camera is placed at the top left corner and there is a LED flash at the side. Other than that we cannot make out what are the changes the smartphone brings.

A Vivo smartphone. PHOTO: Vivo

There are no official disclosures from the company about the specs and features but these smartphones are expected to be selfie-centric.

Other than that, Vivo X9S and X9S Plus are also expected to be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 660 chipset, a dual camera at the front which could include 20MP+5MP sensors, 4GB RAM and 64GB of native storage space and a 3920mAh battery.

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The Vivo X9S Plus is expected to come with a 5.85-inch full HD OLED display with the resolution of 1080×1920 pixels. As for the software side of things, the smartphone is likely to arrive with Android 7.1.1 Nougat OS right out of the box.

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Shaan and Humaima’s take on Mashesh Bhatt’s Arth will be first Bollywood film to be remade in Pakistan

Mahesh Bhatt’s cult romance drama Arth has become the first Hindi film to be remade in Pakistan.

The Pakistani remake titled ‘Arth 2’ will star Shaan Shahid (played by Raj Kiran in the original), Humaima Malick (Smita Patil), Uzma Hassan (Shabana Azmi) and Mohib Mirza (Kulbhushan Kharbanda).

The remake is a contemporary retelling of the original story and will be set in Lahore.

The idea materialised into a film after Shaan met Mahesh Bhatt in 2015 and expressed his desire to remake the film for Pakistani audience.

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A Mumbai Mirror report confirmed that Mahesh Bhatt has given story and screenplay rights to Shaan without charging any money.

“Arth is the first film with the DNA of an Indian story to be set in Pakistan. If we want to strengthen film trade between our countries, Arth’s model is a great way of collaborating,” Shaan was quoted as saying in the report.

Decisions Determine Destiny. See the second poster for ARTH now! Out in cinemas December 2017! #Arth #HKCEntertainment #Cinestar #5thElement @arthmovieofficial @noman.syed @hammad.chaudhry @uzmahassanofficial

A post shared by Shaan Shahid (@official.shaanshahid) on Jun 25, 2017 at 9:04am PDT

Bhatt said that he had no objection to the idea. “When Shaan expressed the desire to revisit Arth, I had no objection. The story has endured the passage of time and is available in public domain. Shaan wanted to use my story and present it as a local, indigenous narrative that suited his country’s palate. I’m not aware of what he has done. Every filmmaker has his own worldview and the freedom to reinterpret a story the way he wishes.”

Decisions Determine Destiny. See the third poster for ARTH now! Out in cinemas December 2017! #Arth #HKCEntertainment #Cinestar #5thElement

A post shared by Shaan Shahid (@official.shaanshahid) on Jun 25, 2017 at 9:07am PDT

Shaan has shared the first few posters of the film on his Instagram account. The posters are a huge departure from the original Arth.

Are Shaan and Ali Azmat collaborating on a new project?

They carry a very contemporary and modern look. The tagline on the posters reads, “Decisions Determine Destiny”.

Decisions Determine Destiny. See the forth poster for ARTH now! Out in cinemas December 2017! #Arth #HKCEntertainment #Cinestar #5thElement @humaimamalick @mohibmirza

A post shared by Shaan Shahid (@official.shaanshahid) on Jun 25, 2017 at 9:07am PDT

Decisions Determine Destiny. See the fifth poster for ARTH now! Out in cinemas December 2017! #Arth #HKCEntertainment #Cinestar #5thElement

A post shared by Shaan Shahid (@official.shaanshahid) on Jun 25, 2017 at 9:08am PDT

Decisions Determine Destiny. See the first look poster for ARTH now! Out in cinemas December 2017! #Arth #HKCEntertainment #Cinestar #5thElement @arthmovieofficial @noman.syed @hammad.chaudhry

A post shared by Shaan Shahid (@official.shaanshahid) on Jun 25, 2017 at 9:02am PDT

 

This article originally appeared on The Indian Express.

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Uber wins right to contest English tests for London drivers

LONDON: Uber said it had won the right to appeal against a court decision in favour of plans by a London regulator to impose new English reading and writing standards in a move which could deprive it of thousands of drivers.

In March, the San Francisco-based firm, which allows people to book journeys on their smartphone, lost a court battle against Transport for London (TfL), the latest setback as the authorities crack down on the ride service.

Uber has cited TfL data that the language rules, which would involve written tests, could mean about 33,000 private hire drivers out of a total of around 110,000 operating in London would be unable to renew their licences.

Drivers applying for a new or renewed licence have until the end of September to prove they meet the more rigorous English language criteria, pushed by London Mayor Sadiq Khan partly in response to pressure from drivers of the city’s traditional black cabs who fear their business model is being undercut.

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Uber called for the proposals to be delayed until after court proceedings due next February at the very least.

“We’re pleased to have secured this appeal to defend tens of thousands of drivers who risk losing their livelihoods because they can’t pass an essay writing test,” Uber’s London General Manager Tom Elvidge said on Tuesday.

“We urge TfL and the Mayor not to introduce these disproportionate and discriminatory rules before the appeal is heard,” he said.

TfL did not immediately comment when contacted by Reuters on Tuesday.

Uber has had a tumultuous few months after a string of scandals involving allegations of sexism and bullying at the firm, leading to investor pressure which forced out chief executive and co-founder Travis Kalanick.

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Google fined record 2.4b euros by EU for giving illegal advantage to its own shopping service

BRUSSELS: The EU hit Google with a record 2.4-billion-euro anti-trust fine Tuesday for favouring its own shopping service, in a fresh assault on a US tech giant that risks the wrath of President Donald Trump.

Hard-charging European Commission competition chief Margrethe Vestager said Google had “abused its market dominance” as the world’s most popular search engine to give illegal advantage to its Google Shopping service.

“What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate,” Denmark’s Vestager told a news conference.

“And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation.”

EU fines Facebook 110 million euros over misleading WhatsApp data

Google now has 90 days to “end this conduct” or face further penalty payments, Vestager said.

The fine broke the previous EU record for a monopoly case against US chipmaker Intel of 1.06 billion euros in 2009.

Google said that it “respectfully” disagreed with the EU decision, which followed a seven-year investigation, and was considering an appeal.

“We respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case,” Kent Walker, the company’s senior vice president and general counsel, said in a statement.

Google insisted that it “shows shopping ads, connecting our users with thousands of advertisers, large and small, in ways that are useful for both.”

The decision comes less than a year after Vestager shocked Washington and the world with an order that iPhone manufacturer Apple repay 13 billion euros in back taxes in Ireland.

Crucially for Google, Brussels has demanded that the US tech giant change the business model for Google Shopping to meet the EU’s concerns.

While an EU record, the amount is below the maximum possible of more than 8 billion euros or 10 percent of Google’s total revenue of 90 billion dollars last year.

Brussels accuses Google of giving its own online service, Google Shopping, too much priority in search results to the detriment of other price comparison services, such as TripAdvisor and Expedia.

“Google’s market dominance has given the company power to decide the fate of all but the biggest online service providers — in other words nearly every company,” said Fairsearch, a lobby of complainants, in a statement.

The case, launched in 2010, is one of three against Google and of several against blockbuster US companies including Starbucks, Apple, Amazon and McDonalds.

In the other Google cases, the EU is examining Google’s AdSense advertising service and its Android mobile phone software.

The cases have stoked tensions with Washington and could now face the wrath of Trump, the real estate tycoon who won office on his “America First” slogan.

The decision come after a long negotiation period with many twists and turns in which the two sides tried to settle the case amicably.

Vestager’s predecessor, the Spaniard Joaquin Almunia, made three attempts to resolve the dispute but in each case intense pressure by national governments, rivals and privacy advocates scuppered the effort.

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Unjust to designate supporters of Kashmiri struggle as terrorists: FO

The Foreign Office (FO) on Tuesday slammed the designation of supporters of the Kashmiri right to self-determination as terrorists, terming it 'completely unjustified'.

The FO statement comes a day after the United States (US) State Department ,designated Hizbul Mujahideen's supreme commander Syed Salahuddin, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) and imposed sanctions on him.

The decision drew criticism and condemnation from both sides of the Line of Control (LoC), with Kashmiris chiding the US President Donald Trump's administration for "equating their legitimate struggle for internationally acknowledged right to self-determination with terrorism."

Explore: ,Kashmiri militant leader punished as Modi visits US,

"The designation of individuals supporting the Kashmiri right to self-determination as terrorists is completely unjustified," FO Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said in a statement without naming Salahuddin or the US.

The development surfaced ,hours ahead of a meeting, between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump.

Read more: ,Trump, Modi call on Pakistan to stem terrorist attacks,

The FO reiterated Pakistan's longstanding commitment to countering terrorism "in all its forms and manifestations", adding that the Kashmiri struggle "remains legitimate".

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs highlighted "the gross and systematic violations of human rights of the Kashmiri people" in India-held Kashmir (IHK), saying that Indian security forces had intensified their "brutal policies of repression" in the region, including the use of pellet guns, extrajudicial killings, rape, use of human shields, arbitrary arrests, undocumented disappearances and other forms of violence and curbs to freedom.

Zakaria asserted that Pakistan would continue to extend "political, diplomatic and moral support for the just struggle of the Kashmiri people for the realisation of the right to self-determination and the peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolutions."

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Via DAWN.com

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Muslim woman severely injured in London acid attack on her 21st birthday

An aspiring model Resham Khan and her 37-year-old cousin Jameel Mukhtar have been left with ‘life-changing’ injuries after they suffered an unprovoked acid attack London, reported The Independent.

The two were out celebrating Khan’s 21st birthday and were inside their car at a traffic signal in Beckton, East London when the attacker threw acid into their car.

“The pain was excruciating”, Khan wrote on her Twitter. “My cousin struggled to get us away. I saw my clothes burn away in front of me.”

ASF report: Acid-throwing cases post sharp decline

The pain was so excruciating that it force them to strip off in middle of the road.

“He [Mukhtar] put his foot down as we were coming onto a dual carriage way but the pain took over and we crashed. We stripped off in the middle of the road, running around screaming and begging for water. We did this for 45 minutes. No ambulance came,” she added.

Finally, the pair was driven to the hospital by a passer-by and was transferred to a specialist burns unit.

Explaining how the horrific incident has changed her life, Khan said, her old self is “gone forever”.

Khan, a Business Management student, had recently completed nine months’ worth of study in Cyprus, Turkey, and was looking to start her new job.

A fundraising page has set up by fellow students to help the two said, “She feels as though her identity has been stolen from her.” It also stated, “The scars Resham and Jameel carry will last a lifetime.”

Khan suffered major damage to her left eye and was burned across her face body, needing a skin graft, the fundraiser also stated. Mukhtar is reportedly placed in an induced coma after suffering from severe burns across his head, face and body, it also damaged his eye and a skin graft was needed.

Two women, child injured after using acid-laced water

A Met Police spokesman said: “Both victims have suffered burn injuries described as life-changing. It is believed the victims were inside a parked car when a man approached and threw a corrosive substance through the open window.”

She also expressed her disappointment and disbelief over the occurrence of such incidents and stated, “I’m devastated. I keep wondering if my life will ever be the same. Acid attacks in the UK are unheard of for me.”

In a message posted on her Facebook profile, Khan said, “It’s warmed my heart seeing so many people come together to support me and my family. Words can’t describe how you have all made me feel during such a low point in my life.”

Despite the harrowing incident, Khan is in high spirit and hope it doesn’t get in the way of her life. “I want to make sure that this doesn’t get in the way of my life anymore than it has. I’ll get myself back into work, I’ll look good, I’ll graduate. And things will get better.”

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De Villiers set to decide future in August

CARDIFF: South Africa’s limited overs captain AB de Villiers has left the ongoing tour of England saying he would decide his cricket future in August.

One of the outstanding batsmen of his generation, the 33-year-old headed home after captaining the Proteas in a 19-run defeat by England in Cardiff on Sunday that saw them beaten 2-1 in a three-match T20I series.

They previously lost a one-day international series to England by the same scoreline and then suffered a hugely disappointing first-round exit at the Champions Trophy.

Freak Roy dismissal sees South Africa tie series

But a Test series against England is the centrepiece of a four-month tour.

However, it has long been planned that De Villiers would miss the four-Test campaign to take a break from the strain of being one of the world’s leading players in all three international formats, as well as a man in demand at lucrative Twenty20 franchise events around the world.

Bangladesh are due to tour South Africa in September and the 33-year-old said he expected to know by then what his international workload would entail.

England’s new boy Curran promises to bowl even quicker

“I am going to meet with CSA [Cricket South Africa] in August, and that will decide my [international] future,” said De Villiers. “We will see what works for both parties. We are not going to pick and choose games, but we are going to make a final decision about what happens for the next few years.”

Asked what he would do for the next couple of months, de Villiers said: “I am going to spend a bit of time off at home with the family, I’m going to welcome my new youngster into the world, and obviously look to stay fit. “I want to make sure I am ready for September, when Bangladesh come.”

For all his success at Test level, De Villiers’s burning ambition is to help South Africa win a maiden World Cup title.

Their attempts since a 1992 debut — after years of isolation due to apartheid — have been dogged by bad luck and reverses snatched from the jaws of all-but-certain victory, leaving South Africa with the unwanted tag of “chokers”.

The next World Cup takes place in England in two years’ time and De Villiers, who was the captain back in during heartbreaking 2015 semi-final loss to co-hosts New Zealand in Auckland, said: “It’s my main dream to win a World Cup for South Africa, or to be part of it in one way or another”

But de Villiers, whose stunning 31-ball century against the West Indies at Johannesburg in 2015 remains the fastest ODI hundred, added: “I don’t even think it’s in my hands, what is going to happen. I will wait until the final decision on the coach and things like that are made. Then I can also have a chat to CSA, to see where I am going to fit in.”

As well as De Villiers, South Africa could be without another senior batsman in Faf du Plesiss for the first Test at Lord’s, which starts on July 6.

Du Plessis, the Proteas’ Test skipper, is awaiting the birth of his first child, who is expected in the first week of July.

De Villiers, asked if he had thought about staying on to lead the Test side if Du Plessis — who missed the T20I series in anticipation — was still absent, replied: “No, not at all. I am batting really well at the moment, and really enjoying that. I love scoring runs, and that is all I am going to miss over the next two months.”

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Panamagate JIT summons Maryam Nawaz on July 5

A six-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT), probing the Sharif family’s offshore assets in line with Supreme Court’s April 20 verdict in Panamagate case, has summoned Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz for questioning on July 5.

According to Express News, the summon was issued to the primer’s daughter on June 25, directing her to appear at the Federal Judicial Academy, Islamabad at 11am on Wednesday next week.

JIT accountability is a farce, says PM Nawaz

Meanwhile, the probe body has also summoned prime minister’s sons Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz on July 4 and 5, respectively. This will be Hassan’s third appearance before the probe body and Hussain’s sixth who has already shown up for five times at the federal judicial complex. Hassan first appeared before the probe team on June 2 while Hussain had first appeared before the JIT on May 28.

The six-member body, headed by FIA Additional Director General Wajid Zia, is due to present its report before the top court on July 10. PM Nawaz, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, PM’s son-in-law Captain (retd) Safdar have also recorded their statement before the JIT.

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