Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar says shots fired at his convoy, police say no

October 26, 2020


New Delhi, Oct 26: Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar has said that the convoy he was travelling in, was attacked and fired upon, late on Sunday night, when he was returning after addressing a rally in Bulandshahr district of Uttar Pradesh. "Opposition parties have been terrified of our candidate in Bulandshahr elections and today's rally worried them, due to which my convoy was fired at in a cowardly manner. This shows their desperation... they want the atmosphere to be toxic but we will not let this happen," Chandra Shekhar Azad tweeted late on Sunday night.

Azad, who is also the convener of Azad Samaj Party, said his convoy was fired at when members were campaigning for the upcoming bye-election. It is not clear whether he himself was present during the incident since the Bhim Army chief was scheduled to address a rally in the district.

The incident comes days ahead of the November 3 Bulandshahr bye-election.

Bulandshahr Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Santosh Kumar Singh has denied an attack on Chandra Shekhar's convoy. The SSP said there was information about a mutual conflict between workers affiliated to the candidates of Azad Samaj Party and AIMIM. The police official said reports about an attack on Chandra Shekhar's convoy are yet to be confirmed.

The bye-polls in Uttar Pradesh for seven seats, including the Bulandshahr one, mark the political debut of the Bhim Army which has, till now, remained a quasi-political outfit.

Chandra Shekhar has named Haji Yamin as his party's candidate for the Bulandshahr bye-poll and his Azad Samaj Party is also contesting as many as 30 seats in Bihar under the Progressive Democratic Alliance (PDA) banner, which will be led by the Jan Adhikar Party of Rajesh Ranjan aka Pappu Yadav.

Chandra Shekhar has been a fierce critic of the Uttar Pradesh government over the alleged gang-rape and torture of a Dalit woman in Hathras last month, and its track record in protecting people from marginalised communities.


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November 30,2020


Mangaluru, Nov 30: A five-year-old child suffered extremely critical injuries after being hit by a bullet water tanker at Ullalbail, near Thokkottu on outskirts of the city on Monday evening.

The injured child has been identified as Krishna (5), son of an Uttar Pradesh based couple.

The child is currently undergoing treatment at a private hospital at Deralakatte.

A video of the incident shows the child running on the road when his parents were waiting to cross the road. A speeding tanker which was coming from Thokkottu towards Ullal hit the child.

The tanker ran over his stomach and hand. Locals fed water to the child and immediately stepped in to carry him to the hospital.

Naguri traffic police have registered a case against the driver of the driver and taken him into custody.


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December 2,2020


2020 was a year turned upside-down by the novel coronavirus. But with the prospect of several vaccines coming online and less stringent restrictions, experts say it's possible 2021 will return to a semblance of normality.

With a second Covid-19 wave currently battering Europe, the United States battling its third, and Hong Kong facing a fourth, disease specialists say they can't rule out more resurgences in cases and deaths as 2021 gets underway.

France's scientific council, which guides government policy on the pandemic, envisages "several successive waves" of Covid-19 over the winter and well into next year.

Flavio Toxvaerd, lecturer at the University of Cambridge's Faculty of Economics, told AFP the question of how many waves the world still faces depends on a variety of factors.

These include "seasonal changes in contact patterns as well as how well the disease is managed through a combination of social distancing and vaccines," said Toxvaerd, who specialises in the economics of infectious diseases and economic epidemiology.

Lessons learned from past interventions could allow countries to fine-tune their counter-virus measures, implementing modified restrictions while avoiding total lockdowns.

Governments will seek to administer "the minimal effective dose" of measures, such as bans on large gatherings or high-risk activities, according to Anne-Claude Cremieux, an infectious diseases expert at Paris' Saint-Louis hospital.

She referred to a strategy of "surgical strikes" against the virus.

That would require full knowledge and control over the transmission chain, with an effective "test, trace, isolate" system and particular care taken over protecting vulnerable and elderly individuals.

"We need to hold on until relief arrives, and the relief is a vaccine," said Cremieux. She, however, cautioned that "it's clear we're not going to vaccinate the entire world in six months".

Even if several vaccines are made available, they alone will not be enough to return to normal.

Arnaud Fontanet, an epidemiologist at the Pasteur Institute told RMC/BFMTV television that normality could be restored "only by Autumn 2021" -- and even then only if 80-90 per cent of the population are vaccinated. Universal coverage would be "an extremely ambitious goal given the hesitancy that exists today towards vaccines," he said.

Fontanet echoed concerns expressed by fellow experts that a massive effort is needed to overcome anti-vaccine sentiment worldwide.

With some countries debating making Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory, Toxvaerd sounded a note of caution. "In the current climate, making vaccines mandatory may backfire and cause even more resistance to the vaccine," he said.

"Instead, positive incentives to vaccinate should be considered."

He pointed to certain business and social practices -- such as some airlines refusing to admit non-vaccinated passengers -- that would be more likely to bring success than enforced vaccination programmes.

And the logistics of mass vaccination remain dizzying. Even as results from trials need verifying in peer-reviewed papers, little still is known about how long the immunity they render will last.

Fontanet said that even the most effective vaccines could not be treated as a magic wand guaranteeing protection. "There will be people who have been vaccinated who still get sick," he said. But he stressed that didn't mean that "the vaccine doesn't work".

With at least two candidate vaccines undergoing review by health authorities ahead of use authorisation, the safety data from trials is also being pored over.

"This can provide important additional and more precise information on longer-term safety and efficacy of a vaccine against Covid-19," the European Medicines Agency said recently.

Different vaccines will need to be distributed differently, too, with some candidates that have proven to prevent severe illness likely prioritised for at-risk individuals.

Moncef Slaoui, head scientist with the US's Operation Warp Speed vaccination programme, told CNN last month that around 70 percent of the population would need inoculating in order to achieve "true herd immunity".

This level is unlikely to be reached before May 2021, he added.

This year has seen an unprecedented change in personal behaviour prompted by Covid-19, from hand washing and social distancing to the now almost ubiquitous mask wearing.

Experts say these behaviours are unlikely to be limited to 2020 alone, as protective measures will still be needed until everyone is out of the woods.

Leading US scientist Anthony Fauci told AFP in a recent interview he foresaw "a considerable degree of normality" by the third quarter of next year.

Successful vaccination programmes could see for example the Olympic Games, delayed from last summer, take place in Tokyo in late July.

Meanwhile China, where Covid-19 emerged late last year, has largely resumed business as usual, while developing its own vaccine and reacting swiftly to any hint of new cases.


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November 19,2020


Abu Dhabi, Nov 19: The Abu Dhabi Government has issued new housing policies for its employees, in a bid to strengthen family ties.

According to the new policy, highlights of which were shared by the Abu Dhabi Media Office on social media, the employees of government entities and companies who stay in Abu Dhabi will receive special benefits, depending on their job grade.

Emirati employees who live in Abu Dhabi will receive full housing allowance in line with their job grade while non-Emirati employees who own property in Abu Dhabi or rent it are entitled to full housing stipend, according to their job grade.

In addition, eligible employees will receive an education allowance for the children who attend schools in the emirate, the media office announced in a tweet.

The new policies will be implemented after one year to give enough time for employees to adjust their situation.


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Wednesday, 2 Dec 2020

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Wednesday, 2 Dec 2020

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Monday, 30 Nov 2020

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