Oct 242018
Murder of Khashoggi a 'heinous crime': Saudi crown prince

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Wednesday denounced the murder of critic Jamal Khashoggi as a “heinous crime”, insisting the kingdom was cooperating with Turkish authorities and “justice will prevail”. “The crime was very painful to all Saudis. And it is painful, heinous to every human being in the world,” Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in his first comments since the murder of the journalist. “Those behind this crime will be held accountable… in the end justice will prevail,” he said during an address to the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh. Saudi leaders have denied involvement in Khashoggi’s murder inside Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate on October 2, pushing responsibility down the chain of command. But the kingdom is under mounting international pressure over the killing amid US accusations of a monumental cover-up by the kingdom. Prince Mohammed, widely known as MBS, said Saudi Arabia was working with the Turkish authorities to investigate the case. “Many are trying to exploit the Khashoggi affair to drive a wedge between Saudi Arabia and Turkey,” he said. “But they will not succeed as long as there is a king named Salman and a crown prince named Mohammed bin Salman.”

Oct 242018
Pakistan beat Australia by 66 runs in first T20

A youthful Pakistan crushed Australia by 66 runs in the first Twenty20 international in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. Pakistan scored 155-8 in their 20 overs as Babar Azam struck an unbeaten 68 before Imad Wasim took 3 for 20 to bowl Australia out for 89 in 16.5 overs — their joint-third lowest total in all T20 Internationals. Paceman Faheem Ashraf and Shaheen Afridi both took two wickets apiece for Pakistan. Fast bowlers Billy Stanlake (3-21) and Andrew Tye (3-24) were the main wicket-takers for Australia. Australia left out paceman Mitchell Starc and off-spinner Nathan Lyon and included leg-spinner Adam Zampa in their XI. Pakistan were without senior batsman Shoaib Malik who joined the team late as he was with his wife, Indian tennis star Sania Mirza, for the birth of their first child. The second and third matches will be played in Dubai on Friday and Sunday, respectively. Squad: Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Asif Ali, Hussain Talat, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Faheem Ashraf Australia: Aaron Finch (captain), Alex Carey, Ashton Agar, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, D’Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa Umpires: Ahsan Raza (PAK) and Shozab Raza (PAK) Tv umpire: Asif Yaqoob (PAK) Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI)

Oct 242018
Apple, Samsung fined millions by Italy for 'planned obsolescence' of phones

Italy’s competition authority on Wednesday said it was fining Apple and Samsung 10 and five million euros ($11.5 and $5.7 million) respectively for the so-called “planned obsolescence” of their smartphones. The ruling is believed to be the first against the manufacturers following accusations worldwide that they encourage operating system updates for older phones which slow them down, thereby encouraging the purchase of new phones. Two “complex investigations” by the anti-trust authority AGCM revealed that Apple and Samsung implemented unfair commercial practices, a statement said. “The two companies have induced consumers to install software updates that are not adequately supported by their devices, without adequately informing them, nor providing them with an effective way to recover the full functionality of their devices,” the AGCM said. Operating system updates “caused serious malfunctions and significantly reduced their performance, in this way speeding up their replacement with more recent products.” Samsung “insistently suggested” to owners of its 2014 Note 4 phone to install a new version of Google’s Android operating system intended for the more recent Note 7, the ACGM said. But that was “without informing them of the serious malfunctions that the new firmware could cause due to greater stress of device’s hardware and asking a high repair cost for out-of-warranty repairs connected to such malfunctions”. Likewise, Apple “insistently suggested” to iPhone 6 owners to install an operating system designed for the iPhone 7, “without warning consumers that its installation could reduce the speed of execution and functionality of devices”. ‘No support’ Apple [Read More…]

Oct 242018
Virat Kohli fastest-ever to reach 10,000 ODI runs

India’s skipper Virat Kohli on Wednesday became the fastest-ever batsmen to reach 10,000 One-day International (ODI) runs, making history in his 205th innings against the West Indies in Visakhapatnam. The 29-year-old surpassed fellow Indian batting great Sachin Tendulkar, who first crossed the 10,000-run mark in 259 innings in 2001. Kohli, playing his 213th ODI, took a single off spinner Ashley Nurse to reach the milestone. He is just the 13th batsman, and fifth Indian, to join the elite list.

Oct 232018
Rights group pushes for UN convention to protect journalists

A journalists’ rights group on Monday launched a campaign at the United Nations seeking a convention to protect media workers’ rights worldwide. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said the goal of the campaign was ending impunity in violations of these rights, amid international anger over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. An initial meeting at UN headquarters brought together fifteen countries, including Greece, Russia, Pakistan, Peru, Italy and Tunisia, IFJ head Anthony Bellanger said. His Brussels-based organisation represents 600,000 journalists in 134 countries. Also read: Pakistan rated among most dangerous countries for journalists The effort comes at a dramatic moment with the case of Khashoggi, who was murdered October 2 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The case has underscored the difficulties many journalists face, with threats of harassment, assault or even death. Organisers of the campaign hold that it is not possible to wait for the next murder without doing anything: worldwide 82 journalists were confirmed killed last year, with only one in ten deaths investigated. “The best tribute we can pay to the victims is to unrelentingly mobilise and work tirelessly to lift the shadow of impunity which has been over journalism for far too long,” Bellanger said. The campaign aims to mobilise several countries to take the effort to the United Nations General Assembly, the only authority that can start the process leading to the adoption of an international convention.

Oct 192018
Multiple blasts rock Kabul as Afghans line up to vote

Multiple explosions rocked polling centres across Kabul on Saturday, as voters cast their ballots in long-delayed legislative elections. Voters were seen fleeing a school in the north of the Afghan capital after a blast, an AFP correspondent said, with witnesses reporting explosions at other polling centres. A man told AFP that “he was trying to vote but then had to run for his life after the blast” at the school that had been turned into a polling centre. He saw several casualties evacuated. Interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi confirmed another two explosions near polling centres. There were no casualties because voters were inside the buildings, he told AFP. At least one official said there were “fatalities and injuries” from the explosions. The blasts come after the Taliban warned voters to boycott the “sham and theatrical process to protect their lives”. Around 70,000 security forces have been deployed to protect polling centres across the war-torn country. Afghans braced for more deadly violence as voting began in the long-delayed legislative election that the Taliban had vowed to attack. Long process After shambolic preparations, polling centres opened at 7am across war-torn Afghanistan, but threats of militant attacks and expectations for industrial-scale fraud are likely to deter many voters. People queueing outside a polling centre in Kabul complained the process was taking too long, apparently due to hiccups with biometric voter verification devices that are being used in the election for the first time. “I came here early to finish and go home quickly, [Read More…]

Oct 192018
Khashoggi crisis shines light on Saudi ties to Silicon Valley

In this file photo, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and SoftBank Group Chairman and CEOMasayoshi Son are seen at an event. Japanese conglomerate and tech investor SoftBank is under scrutiny over its ties to Saudi Arabia, a major backer of its $100 billion Vision Fund.—Reuters SAN FRANCISCO: The crisis surrounding the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and concerns that he may have been killed in the Saudi consulate in Turkey, has highlighted the role of the Middle East kingdom in the US economy, especially in Silicon Valley. Saudi money has been a key source of capital for startups and other technology firms in recent years, led by the huge Saudi sovereign wealth arm known as the Public Investment Fund (PIF), but also from individual members of the Saudi royal family and the Kingdom Holding Company, the investment arm of Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal, according to the research firm CB Insights. The most prominent of the investments was a $45 billion contribution in 2016 to the SoftBank Vision Fund launched by the Japanese conglomerate focusing on tech and startups, followed by a pledge of another $45bn this year. That gives the Saudis at least an indirect role in some of the hottest companies in the tech sector, including Uber, Slack, WeWork and Nvidia. But the Saudi funds and royal family members also have made direct investments in Silicon Valley, including the $3.5bn infusion in Uber from the sovereign PIF fund, a deal which helped put the fund’s managing director Yasir [Read More…]

Oct 192018
Polling in Kandahar pushed back by a week after attack

KABUL: Afghanistan postponed legislative elections in Kandahar province on Friday, after a Taliban-claimed attack on a US-Afghan security meeting killed a powerful police chief and threatened stability across the south. Saturday’s parliamentary ballot would be delayed by one week, a spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani said in a statement, following an extraordinary meeting of the National Security Council. The Independent Election Commission would announce the new date, he added. Preparations for the vote in Kandahar, the Taliban’s birthplace, were thrown into turmoil on Thursday when a gunman wearing a security forces uniform opened fire on a gathering of US and Afghan officials. General Scott Miller, the top US and Nato commander in Afghanistan, escaped unhurt, but Kandahar police chief General Abdul Raziq was killed along with the head of the provincial intelligence unit and an Afghan journalist. Raziq was laid to rest with military honours. Another 13 people were wounded in the assault inside the heavily fortified provincial governor’s compound, including the governor and two Americans. The shooter was killed. The interior ministry said on Friday that three suspects have been detained over the incident, which the Taliban said had targeted Miller and Raziq. US officials have dismissed the claim that Miller was a target. Miller made a public appearance in Kabul on Friday, visiting an Afghan security checkpoint where he described the attack as a “tragic event”. “My assessment is that I was not the target. It was a very close confined space. But I don’t assess that I [Read More…]

Oct 182018
Don't just stand there! Azhar expects teasing from 10-year-old son for bizarre run out

Batsman Azhar Ali anticipated some teasing from his 10-year-old son after his bizarre run out in the second Test against Australia on Thursday. Azhar edged a Peter Siddle delivery towards the third man boundary and, thinking the ball had crossed the rope, halted in the middle of the pitch to talk to fellow batsman Asad Shafiq. But Mitchell Starc picked up the ball less than a yard from the boundary and threw it back to wicketkeeper Tim Paine, who ran Azhar out, leaving the Pakistani duo — who boast a combined 130 Tests and over 9,000 runs — stranded and looking bewildered. Azhar fell for a well-played 64, including four boundaries as Pakistan took control of the Test setting a massive 538-run target for Australia with two days left. Australia were 47 for one at close and facing a 1-0 defeat in the two-match series after the first Test ended in a draw. “My son is going to speak about it (the run out) for a long time and in a funny way,” said Azhar of his 10-year-old son Ibtisam, who luckily for him arrived at the ground after his father’s dismissal. “Whenever I will say something about cricket he will surely come back to this incident,” he said. Azhar revealed he was discussing the swing of the ball with Shafiq as they chatted in the middle of the wicket. “We were just discussing that the ball was swinging a bit late. We both didn’t actually realise something like this [Read More…]

Oct 182018
US, Europe shun Saudi conference over journalist Khashoggi's disappearance

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and senior ministers from Europe on Thursday pulled out of an investment conference in Saudi Arabia, deepening the kingdom’s isolation amid an uproar over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Officials from some of Saudi Arabia’s leading Western allies joined a slew of corporate bigwigs who are now shunning next week’s gathering, touted as a high-powered showcase for the economic reforms of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. In an announcement that sent stocks tumbling on Wall Street, Mnuchin said he had decided with President Donald Trump that he would “not be participating in the Future Investment Initiative summit in Saudi Arabia”. The decision was given in a terse tweet after Trump and Mnuchin were briefed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has just returned from Saudi Arabia and Turkey to probe for answers over the journalist’s disappearance in Istanbul. Mnuchin gave no explanation. But Britain and France — which like the United States are leading suppliers of arms to Saudi Arabia — made clear their disquiet over Khashoggi’s fate as they yanked their own representation at the Riyadh conference. “We have taken this decision in a coordinated manner among Europeans,” President Emmanuel Macron told reporters at an EU summit in Brussels. “It is what’s required in the short term, taking account of the gravity of the facts, in the absence of (Saudi) clarification,” he said, after French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire confirmed he was staying away from Riyadh. British International Trade Secretary Liam [Read More…]