Nepal

Evidence suggests Saudi crown prince liable for Khashoggi murder: UN expert

The Himalayan Times - 1 ora 57 min fa

FILE PHOTO: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the opening of the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina November 30, 2018. Photo: Reuters

GENEVA: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other senior Saudi officials should be investigated over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi since there is credible evidence they are liable for his death, a UN rights investigator said on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, rejected the investigator’s report as “nothing new”.

He added in a tweet: “The report of the rapporteur in the human rights council contains clear contradictions and baseless allegations which challenge its credibility.”

Khashoggi’s killing provoked widespread disgust and damaged the image of the crown prince, previously admired in the West for pushing deep changes including tax reform, infrastructure projects and allowing women to drive.

Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, called on countries to invoke universal jurisdiction for what she called the international crime and make arrests if individuals’ responsibility is proven.

In a report based on a six-month investigation, she also urged countries to widen sanctions to include the crown prince, who many consider the kingdom’s de facto ruler, and his personal assets abroad, until and unless he can prove he has no responsibility.

Khashoggi, a critic of the prince and a Washington Post columnist, was last seen at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct 2 where he was to receive papers ahead of his wedding.

His body was dismembered and removed from the building, the Saudi prosecutor has said, and his remains have not been found.

“What needs to be investigated is the extent to which the crown prince knew or should have known of what would have happened to Mr. Khashoggi, whether he directly or indirectly incited the killing…whether he could have prevented the execution when the mission started and failed to do so,” Callamard told reporters.

“It is the conclusion of the Special Rapporteur that Mr. Khashoggi has been the victim of a deliberate, premeditated execution, an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible under international human rights law,” Callamard said in her report.

PROSECUTOR

The Saudi public prosecutor indicted 11 unnamed suspects in November, including five who could face the death penalty on charges of ordering and committing the crime.

Callamard said the Saudi trial should be suspended, citing concerns over secret hearings and a potential miscarriage of justice. Instead, a follow-up international criminal probe should be launched, she said, adding: “Of course there are a range of options, an ad hoc tribunal, a hybrid tribunal, any type of mechanism that will deliver a credible process and a credible outcome.”

The CIA and some Western countries believe the crown prince ordered the killing, which Saudi officials deny.

The UN report publishes excerpts from what it calls conversations inside the consulate shortly before Khashoggi arrived at the building and during his final moments, in which a Saudi official is heard discussing cutting a body into pieces.

The material relies on recordings and forensic work by Turkish investigators and information from the trials of the suspects in Saudi Arabia, the report said. Callamard said that she could not reach firm conclusions about what the team was told was the sound of a “saw” in the operation.

“Assessments of the recordings by intelligence officers in Turkey and other countries suggest that Mr. Khashoggi could have been injected with a sedative and then suffocated using a plastic bag,” the report said.

Callamard went to Turkey earlier this year with a team of forensic and legal experts and said she received evidence from Turkish authorities.

“There is credible evidence, warranting further investigation of high-level Saudi officials’ individual liability, including the crown prince’s”, she said.

“Indeed, this human rights inquiry has shown that there is sufficient credible evidence regarding the responsibility of the crown prince demanding further investigation,” she added, urging UN Secretary-General to establish an international probe.

Asked if universal jurisdiction meant potential arrests of suspects abroad, Callamard said: “If and when the responsibility of those individuals has been proven, including the responsibilities of a level that warrant arrest, absolutely.”

Judicial authorities in countries that recognise universal jurisdiction for serious offences can investigate and prosecute those crimes no matter where they were committed.

 

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Categorie: Nepal

Udayapur Gold Cup: APF beat Morang Academy 2-0, enter final

The Himalayan Times - 2 ore 5 min fa

Players in action during Udayapur Gold Cup in Gaighat, on Wednesday, on June 19, 2019. Photo: Shyam Rai/THT

GAIGHAT: APF team defeated Morang Academy 2-0 in the first semi-finals and entered into the final of sixth Udayapur Gold Cup here on Wednesday.

Departmental team striker Hari Karki broke the deadlock in the 12th minute to give his team a deserved lead before Hari Syantang doubled the tally on the stroke of the halftime.

In the second half, both the teams created numerous scoring opportunities but to no avail.

Later, APF’s Hari Syantang was adjudged man-of-the-match for his overall performance. He bagged a cash purse of Rs 7,000 along with medal and certificate.

After the post-match press conference, APF head coach Sandeep Shrestha said, we were able to put the result in our favour despite unfair weather today.

Likewise, Morang Academy coach Sajib Budathoki said, “We were not that weak, but the weather played its part.”

Meanwhile, the hosts Udayapur-11 will take on Gorkha Boys of Butwal in other semi-finals tomorrow, according to the organisers.

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Categorie: Nepal

New Zealand restrict South Africa to 241-6 in truncated game

The Himalayan Times - 2 ore 53 min fa

South Africa’s Hashim Amla is bowled by New Zealand’s Mitchell Santner. Photo: Reuters

LONDON: A tight bowling performance from New Zealand restricted South Africa to a modest total of 241-6 in their rain-delayed World Cup match at Edgbaston on Wednesday.

Asked to bat first in a game that was reduced to 49 overs a side, South Africa’s batsmen, barring Hashim Amla and Rassie van der Dussen, failed to build on their starts in the face of a disciplined bowling effort from the Kiwis.

South Africa had hope while Amla was at the crease but that too faded after he was bowled for 55 by Mitchell Santner in the 28th over but Van der Dussen’s unbeaten 67 gave them a respectable total.

Kiwi pacer Lockie Ferguson was the pick of the bowlers, picking up three wickets, while all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme contributed with an economical spell of 1-33 in his 10 overs.

 

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Categorie: Nepal

Tipper-hit kills two in Udayapur

The Himalayan Times - 3 ore 16 min fa

GAITHAT: Two persons died on the spot when a tipper hit a motorcycle they were riding on at Bhulke near Lati river in Chaudandi Municipality-7 of Udayapur district this morning, police said.

District Police Office, Udayapur, identified the deceased as motorcyclist Khagendra Rai, 36, and pillion-rider Jeevan Kumar Sangpang, 35, both hailing from Chaudandi Municipality-4 in the district.

According to eye-witness Jeevan Tamang, tipper hit the two-wheeler heading in the same direction while overtaking the bike around 10: 30 am.

After a fatal incident, the tipper driver fled the scene. However, police impounded the vehicle for further investigation.

Meanwhile, an investigation is underway, police said.

As per the statistics of the District Traffic Office, Udayapur, seven persons have already lost their lives after knocked down by tipper in the last eleven months of this fiscal year.

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Categorie: Nepal

Mysterious ‘brain fever’ killing children in India

The Himalayan Times - 3 ore 52 min fa

Medical staff carry the body of a girl who died of acute encephalitis syndrome to an ambulance at a hospital in Muzaffarpur, in the eastern state of Bihar, India, June 19, 2019. Photo: Reuters

MUZAFFARPUR: More than 110 children in India, most from poor rural families, have died this month from encephalitis, a type of brain disease that has afflicted the eastern state of Bihar for more than two decades.

Health experts have long been dumbfounded by the root of the encephalitis outbreak, commonly known as brain fever, in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district.

Recent studies have suggested that natural toxins in lychees could harm undernourished children by blocking their ability to produce enough blood sugar, which can lead to death.

The link to the fruit, however, is inconclusive, said Alok Ghosh, the Muzaffarpur district magistrate, who said that in about half of the more than 400 known cases of encephalitis, the children had not consumed lychees.

Three medical sources at the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital, where some 95 patients have died, said they thought serious dehydration was likely to blame.

WHAT IS ENCEPHALITIS?

Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain, caused by any one of a number of viruses.

Early symptoms can be similar to those of flu, with patients suffering from high temperatures or headaches. But symptoms can worsen within hours, and can include serious complications like seizures, paralysis and coma.

In Bihar, children were typically taken to hospital with fevers.

HOW COULD LYCHEES CAUSE SICKNESS?

Researchers who conduced a study of 390 children who fell sick in 2014 in Muzaffarpur said that lychees contained hypoglycin A, an amino acid that can disrupt metabolism, lowering blood sugar levels. That can trigger hypoglycaemia, and in extreme cases, death.

The study by India’s National Centre for Disease Control and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, added that when the brain lacks glucose, it turns to other sources of energy, which are rapidly depleted, eventually pushing people into coma.

“The synergistic combination of (lychee) consumption, a missed evening meal, and other potential factors such as poor nutritional status, eating a greater number of litchis, and as yet unidentified genetic differences might be needed to produce this illness,” the researchers said in their study, which was published in the Lancet in 2017.

Retired virologist T. Jacob John also raised the possibility that encephalitis cases in Muzaffarpur could be associated with lychees in a 2014 study published by Indian science journal Current Science. Muzaffarpur is a major hub for growing lychees, which ripen at this time of year.

ANY OTHER HYPOTHESES?

Doctors and officials are testing children for a variety of conditions and many are divided on the cause of the disease.

But dehydration as a heat wave sweeps India could be to blame, according to medical staff in Muzaffarpur.

“In my observation it is nothing but an epidemic of heat stroke,” said Gopal Shankar Sahni, the head of the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital’s paediatric department.

Still, another doctor visiting Muzaffarpur from India’s financial capital of Mumbai said eating lychees could exacerbate dehydration symptoms.

“The child is hypoglycaemic and if they eat them it gets worse,” said Ravikant Singh.

HOW ARE AUTHORITIES REACTING?

Officials are scrambling to contain the outbreak, but victims’ relatives say poor hospital facilities have allowed the death toll to balloon.

Two lawyers have filed a petition to the Supreme Court criticising government “inaction”, citing an inadequate number of doctors and hospital beds, according to a report by Reuters partner ANI.

District magistrate Ghosh told Reuters officials were running door-to-door awareness campaigns in villages by asking people to stay clean and hydrated. Other officials are ensuring children get sweets at breakfast to maintain glucose levels.

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has sent special teams of paediatricians and paramedics to Bihar, and also made 10 ambulances available.

 

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Categorie: Nepal

Hotels, firms cut back on water use as taps run dry in India’s Chennai

The Himalayan Times - 3 ore 56 min fa

A man uses a hand-pump to fill up a container with drinking water as others wait in a queue on a street in Chennai, India, June 17, 2019. Photo: Reuters

CHENNAI: Hotels in India’s southern city of Chennai are rationing water for guests amid searing heat while companies limit showers as the city of 4.6 million faces its worst shortage in years.

All four reservoirs that supply Chennai, known as the Detroit of south Asia for its flourishing automobile industry, have run dry this summer, largely because of poor monsoon rains last year.

Chennai is one of 21 cities that a government think-tank warned last year could run out of ground water by 2020. This year’s monsoon is delayed, further compounding problems across a swath of western and central India.

Employees in Chennai-based companies such as Fiat Chrysler TCS , Wipro and Cognizant said they had been asked to cut back on water use in canteens and restrooms.

US-listed Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTS), which employs thousands in the city, said it had cut down on water at its canteen and gym.

“We have also switched to biodegradable plates in all our cafeterias, temporarily closed shower facilities in our gyms, and minimised the washing of utensils in our campuses by our cafeteria vendors,” CTS said in a statement.

Water storage levels in the city’s four major reservoirs were one-hundredth of what they were this time last year – and at a mere 0.2% of capacity, according to state government data.

Chennai is entirely dependent on the northeast monsoon which begins in October. The last three months of 2018 received lower than average rainfall, with the deficit rising to as much as 80 percent in the month of December, according to India’s weather office.

Ananda, a small hotel in southern Chennai, had a notice at its entrance warning of a water shortage.

“It’s not just us, all the hotels run the risk of shutting down because there’s hardly enough water,” said P. Chandrasekhar, a supervisor at the hotel.

State authorities said they had stepped up water supplies to the city each year. “In 2017, we were supplying 450 million litres of water. Now we are supplying 525 million litres per day,” S. P. Velumani, the minister for municipal administration, said.

But across town, residents could be seen crowded around water tankers in temperatures of over 40 degrees Celsius, holding buckets as media reported scuffles.

 

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Categorie: Nepal

Researchers identify five key ‘barriers to healthcare’ in Nepal

The Himalayan Times - 4 ore 5 min fa

KATHMANDU: Researchers for a group of universities have identified five key ‘barriers to healthcare‘ that discourage people from using healthcare services in Nepal.

Issuing a press release today, Bournemouth University said researchers have identified five themes as points of difficulty in providing healthcare services to ethnic minorities including those of the Dalits, Madhesi, Muslim, Chepang and Tamang groups in Nepal.

Bournemouth University’s Professor Edwin van Teijlingen, who worked on the study, said, “Working together with collaborators from Stanford University, Liverpool John Moores Univesity, the University of Sheffield and the University of Huddersfield, we have identified five key ‘barriers’ to healthcare in Nepal among ethnic minorities,” in the statement.

“Perceived indignity and a lack of knowledge in healthcare provision, together with a mistrust of volunteers, low decision-making power among females, and traditional religious practices, has made access to services difficult,” reads the statement.

For achieving universal healthcare coverage for maternal and child health in low and middle-income countries, both the female community health volunteers and local healthcare providers should be trained to communicate effectively in order to deliver respectful care among ethnic minorities.

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Categorie: Nepal

India’s Dhawan ruled out of World Cup with fractured thumb

The Himalayan Times - 5 ore 49 min fa

India’s Shikhar Dhawan reacts after losing his wicket. Photo: Reuters

LONDON: India’s opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan has been ruled out of the rest of their World Cup campaign after fracturing his thumb earlier in the tournament, the country’s cricket board (BCCI) said on Wednesday.

Dhawan sustained the injury against Australia but continued to play on, scoring a match-winning century. However, he did not take the field for the second innings.

Assistant coach Sanjay Bangar had said last week that they would make a call on Dhawan’s injury after he was rested against New Zealand and Pakistan but the BCCI said his hand would need to remain in a cast until the middle of July.

“Shikhar Dhawan has been diagnosed with a fracture of the first metacarpal on his left hand following a ball impact injury during the team’s first match versus Australia at the Oval on 5th June 2019,” BCCI said in a statement.

“Following several specialist opinions, he will remain in a cast until the middle of July and therefore will not be available for the remainder of the World Cup.”

Wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, who was flown in as a cover and joined the team before Sunday’s victory against Pakistan, is set to be named as Dhawan’s replacement.

India play Afghanistan next on Saturday at The Rose Bowl.

 

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Categorie: Nepal

Jakhor Lake area being renovated, to be developed into tourist destination

The Himalayan Times - 6 ore 45 min fa

DHANGADHI: Dhangadhi Sub-metropolitan City has begun construction and renovation of physical infrastructures around Jakhor Lake in a bid to develop it into a tourist destination.

Infrastructures are being built around the lake situated in Dhangadhi-7 of Kailali district based on the ‘masterplan’ proposed by Kathmandu-based Redico Pvt Ltd. The plan was handed over to the sub-metropolis about three months ago in March.

Dhangadhi Sub-metropolis mayor Nrip Bahadur Bada has confirmed that the construction works are being carried out according to the masterplan.

Divisional Engineer Dijraj Bhatta said the construction of tracks around the lake started after calling in a tender of Rs 55 million. He said the construction project would cost an estimated Rs 240m.

The masterplan proposes the construction of an inn near the temple, a children’s park, parking space and a museum on the premises of Jakhor Lake.

The plan further proposes two entrances in the enclosed area, a picnic spot between Jakhor Lake and Murphatt Lake, and space for conducting fairs and exhibitions. Likewise, a Bailey bridge would be built over narrow water space in the lake and an idol of “Lord Shiva” would be placed in the north of the lake. Furthermore, three lakes — Jakhor, Murphatta and Murphatti — would be connected with a pedestrian path corresponding to a bicycle track. It has been learned that a statue of a rooster would be kept by the side of the pedestrian path. The lakes could be used for crocodile and tortoise farming.

Kishor Thapa, who devised the construction plan, estimated that the construction of 14 proposed infrastructures would cost Rs 157,700,861. He added that the construction of an inn and a museum would cost an additional Rs 20m.

The area of 149 hectares (ha) covering the lakes — Jakhor (12.45ha), Murphatta (2.51ha) and Murphatti (1.32ha) —  situated at a distance of 4.2 kilometres from Dhangadhi downtown, has been surveyed. The lake area is popular among locals as well as tourists as more than 116 species of vegetations are found around the area.

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Categorie: Nepal

Over 70pc children suffering from malnutrition in Bajura village

The Himalayan Times - 7 ore 28 min fa

BAJURA: More than 70 per cent of the children are suffering from malnutrition in Amkot village of Budhiganga Municipality-1, Bajura district.

Bajura malnourishment

Majority of the children in a Dalit settlement with 60 households are undernourished. However, the statistics of District Health Office (DHO), Bajura and a health post show only one child — three-year-old Phulchana Nepali of Amkot — suffering from malnutrition. The statistics show only one malnourished child because only one child was admitted for treatment, claimed local Tara Nepali.

Pregnant women and new mothers in the region cannot afford nutritional diet as most of the villages produce only six months of food, having to ration it for the rest of the year. This has resulted in children being born early or with malnutrition.

The ever-present poverty in the village has not made it any easier making children suffer from lack of nourishment. According to Budhiganga Municipality Health Coordinator Deepak Shah, “We could find malnourished children in many areas, however, we only keep a record of those admitted to the health facilities.

Similarly, many other villages in the district are also witnessing cases of malnutrition.

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Categorie: Nepal

Construction of road expedited after DRO fined contractors

The Himalayan Times - 8 ore 2 min fa

Dolakha, June 18

Construction of the Khadichaur-Mude and Mude-Charikot road sections under the Khadichaur-Jiri road extension project has been expedited after the Division Road Office, Dolakha, fined contractors for failing to finish work on time.

The road office fined contractors of the Khadichaur-Mude road section Rs 65 million, while contractors of the Mude-Charikot road section are paying Rs 2.5 lakh per day in fine.

A consortium of Indian company Simanchal and Nepali companies Gauri Parbati and Sunaula Khimti was entrusted with construction of the 25-km Khadichaur-Mude road stretch in the first package.

Likewise, a consortium of Sakil Haidar, Shankar Mali and Sunaula Khimti was awarded contract for the 30-km Mude-Charikot stretch in the second package.

“As per the contract, work on the first package and second package should have been finished by May 11 and April 15 respectively,” said the road office Chief Dhamendra Jha.

“The road construction should have finished in two years time after work began, but four years have passed and the projects are yet to be completed, hence the fine,” Jha explained.

So far 75 per cent and 60 per cent work on the first and second packages have been completed respectively.

 

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Categorie: Nepal

PG&E to pay $1 billion to governments for wildfire damage

The Himalayan Times - 8 ore 16 min fa

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA: A California utility agreed Tuesday to pay $1 billion to 14 local governments to cover damages from a series of deadly wildfires caused by its downed power lines.

The settlement is a sliver of the more than $30 billion in potential damages Pacific Gas & Electric is facing in lawsuits filed by local governments, insurance companies and private property owners.

More than half of the $1 billion in the agreement would go to four governments impacted by a 2018 fire that killed 85 people and destroyed nearly 14,000 homes in Northern California.

A total of $270 million would go to Paradise, which was mostly destroyed in the blaze. The town had 26,000 residents before the fire and now has less than 3,000 people. It has lost more than 90% of its tax revenue.

“There are some relief and hope in knowing that we will have some financial stability,” Paradise Town Manager Lauren Gill said. “We can’t do disaster recovery and rebuild the town if we don’t have people to do it.”

The settlement also covers a 2015 fire in Calaveras County and a series of 2017 fires in wine country.

PG&E filed for bankruptcy in January. The agreement would resolve claims from some local governments, but it still must be approved by a bankruptcy court. That likely won’t happen until lawsuits by insurance companies and private property owners are resolved.

“The bankruptcy court approval is not trivial,” said Mike Danko, part of a group of attorneys who represent about 2,800 wildfire victims in a lawsuit against PG&E. Danko said they are “definitely not” close to resolving the lawsuit.

PG&E spokesman Paul Doherty called the settlement “an important first step toward an orderly, fair and expeditious resolution of wildfire claims.”

“We remain focused on supporting our customers and communities impacted by wildfires and helping them recover and rebuild,” he said.

High winds knocking down power lines during hot, dry weather have been blamed for starting several of the state’s most destructive wildfires.

Last month, regulators agreed to let utilities temporarily cut off electricity to possibly hundreds of thousands of customers during peak fire conditions to avoid starting more wildfires.

The outages could mean multiday blackouts for cities as large as San Francisco and San Jose, Northern California’s major power provider warned in a recent filing with the utility commission.

“Nobody who lives in the wildfire zone should consider themselves to have reliable electricity. They should prepare accordingly,” Mike Picker, president of the California Public Utilities Commission, told the Sacramento Press Club on Tuesday.

California’s other two investor-owned utilities have also warned that wildfire liabilities could force rate increases later this year.

State lawmakers are considering legislation that would set up a fund to help utility companies pay damages related to wildfires caused by their equipment.

California state Sen Bill Dodd, a Democrat from Napa, said the fund could total anywhere between $24 billion and $50 billion, mostly paid for by utilities and their shareholders.

“It’s important that we put together a program that ratepayers aren’t the victims once again,” he said.

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Categorie: Nepal

Three teenagers drown while swimming in river

The Himalayan Times - 8 ore 32 min fa

Bhairahawa, June 18

Three teenagers drowned while swimming in Suraikhola, Shivaraj Municipality, Kapilvastu, on Tuesday. Police have identified the deceased as Ashish Bhattarai, 16, Kaniranjan Bhusal, 17, and Sumit Sunar, 18, of Bijayanagar Rural Municipality.

“As it was too hot, four youths had entered the river for a swim. Three of them died when they reached the deep part of the river,” said Inspector Yonjan Tamang of Chandrau Ward Police Office, adding that police had extracted the bodies.

 

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Categorie: Nepal

TAC sail into NBL final

The Himalayan Times - 8 ore 33 min fa

Kathmandu, June 18

Tribhuvan Army Club advanced to the final of the Kwiks Nepal Basketball League here at the National Sports Council covered hall today.

The departmental side defeated Times International Club 69-61 in the third and final match of the best-of-three first qualifier to seal the victory 2-1.

Kwiks Nepal Basketball League

TAC’s Ayush Singh jumps for a basket against Times International Club during their Kwiks Nepal Basketball League match at the NSC covered hall in Kathmandu on Tuesday. Photo: Udipt Singh Chhetry / THT

TAC had taken the lead after winning the first match 79-65 before Times levelled the scores at 1-1 with a 81-57 win in the second match yesterday.

In the third and final match of the playoffs series, TAC began brightly with a 18-12 lead before Times cut the deficit to one point by winning the second quarter 18-13. The match headed into the exciting final quarter after both the sides netted 15 points each in the third period. TAC prevailed over Times and won the final period 23-16.

Ayush Singh of TAC was named the player of the match for his 26 points along with five rebounds, two steals and an assist.

TAC will now face the winners of the second qualifier match between Nepal Police Club and Times. NPC had made it to the second qualifier — which will also be played over best-of-three forms — with a 2-0 victory over Golden Gate International Club yesterday.

Nepal Police Club and Samriddhi Gorillas have already advanced to the women’s section final as the top two sides of the league round. The final matches are slated for Saturday. A total of eight teams participated in the men’s section, while four clubs were in fray in the first-ever women’s competition. The tournament is organised by Play for Deprived Children Nepal under the sponsorship of Chaudhary Group.

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Categorie: Nepal

US, Iran voice resolve in brinkmanship, say war not sought

The Himalayan Times - 8 ore 55 min fa

WASHINGTON: The United States and Iran said Tuesday they were not seeking war with each other as tensions simmered between the two in the Persian Gulf and President Donald Trump vowed the US would respond to any attack.

“We have a lot of things going with Iran,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House for a campaign event in Florida. “We’ll see what happens. Let me just say this: We are very prepared.”

Trump’s comments came just hours after he announced the sudden departure of acting Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan, jolting the Defense Department only a day after he signed off on sending an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East to counter Iran.

On a visit Tuesday to US Central Command in Florida, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he was confident the US is taking the necessary steps to confront any challenge from Iran. He said the military is ready to respond to any attack by Iran on US interests or Iranian disruption of international shipping lanes through which much of the world’s oil supplies flow.

Pompeo said Trump only wants to reestablish a deterrent to Iranian threats.

“President Trump does not want war, and we will continue to communicate that message while doing the things that are necessary to protect American interests in the region,” he told reporters.

Pompeo said he made the trip to meet with commanders who would be responsible for any operations in the Gulf to ensure that America’s diplomatic and military efforts are coordinated “to make sure that we’re in the position to do the right thing.”

The “right thing,” he said, “is to continue to work to convince the Islamic Republic of Iran that we are serious and to deter them from further aggression in the region.”

Similarly measured sentiments of resolve came from Iran, where President Hassan Rouhani said, “We do not wage war with any nation,” but Iranians will withstand mounting US pressure and prevail in the brinksmanship.

Iran announced on Monday that it could soon start enriching uranium to just a step away from weapons-grade levels, a challenge to Trump’s assurances to allies that the US withdrawal from the deal last year made the world safer.

The Pentagon responded by ordering the additional troops to the region, including security forces for added surveillance and intelligence-gathering.

The US accuses Iran of attacking two tankers near the Persian Gulf; the Iranians deny responsibility. With details murky and no one owning up to the attacks, the Pentagon released new photos intended to bolster its case.

US Iran

This image released by the US Department of Defense on Monday, June 17, 2019, and taken from a US Navy helicopter, shows what the Navy says is blast damage to the motor vessel M/T Kokuka Courageous, consistent with a limpet mine attack. Photo: US Department of Defense via AP

In Congress, some lawmakers expressed worry that the gradual buildup of US troops in the Middle East could become a slippery slope.

“We expect the administration to seek authorisation (from Congress) prior to any deployment of forces into hostilities or areas where hostilities with Iran are imminent,” said a statement from a bipartisan group of senators led by Democrat Tim Kaine of Virginia and Republican Mike Lee of Utah.

Yet some Republicans argued that rising tensions necessitate a more forceful response from the White House. “You can’t have provocative acts by a rogue regime go unanswered,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said, adding that he doesn’t believe the president would need to come to Congress before striking Iran. Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas said he favoured a “retaliatory military strike.”

In announcing the new deployment before he resigned, Shanahan said the forces are “for defensive purposes to address air, naval, and ground-based threats” in the Mideast.

“The United States does not seek conflict with Iran,” Shanahan said, describing the move as intended “to ensure the safety and welfare of our military personnel working throughout the region and to protect our national interests.” He said the US will continue to adjust troop levels as needed.

Shanahan abruptly stepped down Tuesday before his formal nomination ever went to the Senate, citing a “painful” family situation. Trump said Army Secretary Mark Esper would be the new acting Pentagon chief.

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Categorie: Nepal

Work on Koshi corridor picks pace

The Himalayan Times - 9 ore 2 min fa

Panchthar, June 18

Construction of Koshi corridor that connects various districts of the Tarai, hills and mountains has picked pace.

Koshi Corridor Project Chief Abhiman Mulmi said 45 per cent work on the shortest route that connects Sunsari, Dhankuta, Terhathum, Panchthar and Taplejung districts to Province 1 headquarters had been completed.

The 148-km road links Panchthar’s Hilihang Rural Municipality with Sunsari’s Chatara. According to Mulmi, a 130-km track has already been opened, and work on the remaining section of the road is on. Completion of the road will ease people’s movement.

 

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Categorie: Nepal

Taekwondo tourney

The Himalayan Times - 9 ore 3 min fa

KATHMANDU: The Province-3 Committee of Nepal Taekwondo Association is organising the first National Taekwondo Championship at the NTA Academy in Lalitpur from June 20-22.

A total of 154 players from all seven provinces will take part in the championship that features nine weight categories in men and seven in women sections, informed Province-3 President Keshav Puri.

Chaudhary Group’s Wai Wai is the main sponsor of the event, while Kathmandu Metropolitan City, Lalitpur Metropolitan City, Dakshinkali Municipality, Godavari Municipality, Chandragiri Municipality, UNTF America and Manakamana Darshan Pvt Ltd are the other supporters.

The organisers will also felicitate Olympians Sangina Baidya and Deepak Bista along with Level-II referee Nabin Kumar Shrestha, international medallists Manita Shahi, Ayasha Shakya, Koshish Khadka and Ashok Kumar Lama, coaches Arjun BK, Indra Man Tuladhar, Ishwor Man Bajracharya and sports journalist Shyam Chitrakar.

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Categorie: Nepal

Rocket hits oil site, wounds 3 Iraqi workers: Iraqi official

The Himalayan Times - 9 ore 10 min fa

BAGHDAD: A rocket hit an oil-drilling site in Iraq’s southern Basra province early Wednesday, striking inside a compound housing energy giant Exxon Mobil and wounding three local workers, one seriously, Iraqi officials said.

According to security official Mahdi Raykan, a Katyusha rocket landed at dawn in the Zubair and Rumeila oil fields camp, operated by the Iraqi Drilling company, where Exxon Mobil and other foreign oil companies have tents.

Exxon Mobil, based in Irving, Texas, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In May, it evacuated staff from the West Qurna 1 oil field in Basra province.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack and Iraqi oil exports were unaffected.

Tensions have escalated between Iran and the US and there are concerns that Iraq could once again get caught in the middle between its two top allies. The country hosts more than 5,000 US troops, and is home to powerful Iranian-backed militias, some of whom want those US forces to leave.

In May, the US evacuated nonessential diplomatic staff from Iraq. That came before a missile landed in Baghdad’s Green Zone, near the sprawling US Embassy.

Wednesday’s rocket was the latest attack on an area housing US interests. Over the past few weeks, rockets have also struck two Iraqi military posts where US trainers are also based. No US personnel were hurt.

Raykan, the Iraqi official, said the rocket was fired from a distance of up to 5 kilometres (3 miles).

It landed in the operations area of the camp, part of the Burjesia compound that houses several foreign oil companies, including Exxon Mobile and also the Italian ENI, said another Iraqi official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to address the media.

Workers of the foreign companies were not on site at the time but still in their sleeping quarters, he said, adding that Exxon Mobil staff had begun returning to the Burjesia compound, which also houses workers operating in the Qurna oil field — one of Iraq’s largest.

On Tuesday, in a move clearly designed to prevent friction between US troops and Iran or Iranian-backed militia, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said foreign troops and local militias operating in his country are barred from confronting each other on Iraqi soil.

No foreign troops in Iraq should use its territory to attack another “foreign presence” or a country in the region, the prime minister told a news conference, adding that no local group should work outside of the supervision of the Iraqi armed forces.

Abdul-Mahdi also said that Exxon Mobil had begun returning to Iraq.

The United States and Iran both said Tuesday they were not seeking war with each other despite the simmering tensions in the Persian Gulf region.

President Donald Trump vowed the US would respond to any attack while Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said, “We do not wage war with any nation,” but Iranians will withstand mounting US pressure and prevail in the brinksmanship.

Iran announced on Monday that it could soon start enriching uranium to just a step away from weapons-grade levels, a challenge to Trump’s assurances to allies that the US withdrawal from the deal last year made the world safer.

The Pentagon responded by ordering 1,000 additional troops to the region, to bolster security in the Middle East in the face of what US officials said was a growing threat from Iran.

The escalation follows apparent attacks last week near the Strait of Hormuz on oil tankers, assaults that Washington has blamed on Iran. While Iran has denied being involved, it laid mines in the 1980s targeting oil tankers around the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a fifth of the world’s crude oil passes.

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Categorie: Nepal

Two women gang-raped, one accused held

The Himalayan Times - 9 ore 33 min fa

Ramechhap, June 18

Two women were gang-raped in Likhu Tamakoshi Rural Municipality, Ramechhap, three days ago.

The victims were gang-raped in Dhyangre forest of Likhu Rural Municipality on Sunday evening. Of the victims, one is married while the other one is single.

According to the victims, a truck driver, his helper and another individual traveling in the truck bound for Manthali Bazaar from Dhobi Bazaar had gang-raped them, ferried them in the same truck and set them free at Haledibesi, said Ramechhap police Spokesperson Sekh Adalat.

Based on the First Incident Report filed against the three, police arrested Bijaya Magar, 25, of Sindhuli’s Kamalamai Municipality yesterday.

Police have launched a manhunt to nab the two absconding persons and they will be booked soon, said DSP Santosh Bhattarai.

Ramechhap Chief District Officer Lila Kumari KC Pandey said that investigation was stepped up to book the guilty and dispense justice to the victims.

 

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Categorie: Nepal