US says airstrike killed 7 leaders of al-Qaida in Syria

Agencies
October 27, 2020

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Washington, Oct 27: The United States believes it killed seven senior leaders of al-Qaida in Syria in an airstrike last week as the leaders were meeting near Idlib, U.S. Central Command said Monday.

A Central Command spokeswoman, Maj. Beth Riordan, said the strike was conducted Oct. 22. She did not identify the seven leaders by name.

The removal of these AQ-S leaders will disrupt the terrorist organization's ability to further plot and carryout global attacks threatening U.S. citizens, our partners, and innocent civilians, she said.

AQ-S takes advantage of the instability in northwest Syria to establish and maintain safe havens to coordinate terrorist activities, she added.

"With our allies and partners, we will continue to target al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations. The U.S. also conducted an airstrike against al-Qaida in Syria, near Idlib, on Oct 15.

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News Network
November 30,2020

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Colombo, Nov 30: At least eight inmates were killed and 50 other inmates and two prison officials were injured when unrest erupted at the Mahara prison here, said Colombo Page citing police spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana.

The prison officials were compelled to use minimal force including firing several shots to control the situation, the police spokesman said.

The unrest broke out Sunday afternoon when a group of inmates at the Mahara Prison tried to escape from the prison as another group of inmates was found to be infected with COVID-19, Colombo Page reported.

Five police teams led by Kelaniya SSP and Ragama OIC and also Police Special Task Force were deployed to assist the prison officers to control the situation.

An independent inquiry will be conducted into the incident as well as an inquiry led by the Ministry Secretary, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle, State Minister of Prison Reforms and Prisoners Rehabilitation said in parliament regarding the incident.

Investigations regarding the riot in the Mahara prison will be handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to bring the truth to light, she added.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Sri Lanka has reached 23,484, the Johns Hopkins University and Medicine reported on Monday.

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Agencies
November 21,2020

Washington, Nov 21: Joe Biden on Saturday reached the two-week mark since becoming president-elect, with President Donald Trump stinging from back-to-back setbacks in his desperate, unprecedented bid to undo his election defeat.

Biden, a Democrat, is preparing to take office on January 20, but Trump, a Republican, has refused to concede and is seeking to invalidate or overturn the results through lawsuits and recounts in a number of states, claiming — without proof — widespread voter fraud.

That effort, which critics call an unparalleled push by a sitting president to subvert the will of voters, has met with little success. Trump's campaign has suffered a string of legal defeats and appears to have failed to convince key fellow Republicans in states that he lost, such as Michigan, to buy into his unfounded conspiracy theories.

Trump's bid to cling to power appeared ever more tenuous on Friday after Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced a manual recount and audit of all ballots cast in the southern state had confirmed Biden as the winner there.

A pair of Michigan Republican leaders delivered another blow when they declared on Friday night after a White House meeting with Trump: "We have not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan."

Trump, in his first public comments in days about the election outcome, again asserted "I won't" during a White House event on lowering drug prices earlier on Friday.

After a series of court defeats, the Trump team is resting its hopes on getting Republican-controlled legislatures in battleground states won by Biden to set aside the results and declare Trump the winner, according to three people familiar with the plan.

It is a long-shot effort focusing on Michigan and Pennsylvania for now, but even if both those states flipped to the president he would need to overturn the vote in another state to vault ahead of Biden in the Electoral College.

Such an event would be unprecedented in modern US history.

Pressure to start formal transition

Biden, who became president-elect on Nov. 7 after his win in Pennsylvania prompted major television networks to call the election, was due to spend Saturday meeting with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and transition advisers.

Trump will participate virtually this weekend in the last summit of the 20 biggest world economies (G20) of his term.

Trump's nationalistic "America First" approach has often created waves at multilateral summits like the G20, and many US allies have quietly welcomed the coming change of leadership in Washington.

Pressure for Trump to start the formal transition process has mounted, with a few more Republicans voicing doubts over his unsubstantiated claims of fraudulent voting.

There is a "right way and a wrong way" for Trump to contest what he sees as election irregularities, Susan Collins, the Maine Senator, said in a statement. "The right way is to compile the evidence and mount legal challenges in our courts. The wrong way is to attempt to pressure state election officials."

The General Services Administration, run by a Trump appointee, still has not recognized Biden's victory, preventing his team from gaining access to government office space and funding normally provided to an incoming administration.

Critics say Trump's refusal to concede has serious implications for national security and the fight against the coronavirus, which has killed more than 250,000 Americans.

Shut off from government funds, Biden's team on Friday ramped up their fundraising for the transition. Having taken in more than an initial $7 million target largely from wealthy donors, they turned to their campaign's vast mailing list of small donors, asking — according to a fundraising note — for contributions as small as $25.

Even as the Biden team remains unable to access resources and government experts to help assume management of the $4 trillion US government on Inauguration Day, Trump officials have been making unexpected changes to programs, policies and agencies that could affect the incoming administration.

The Treasury Department's surprise demand that the Federal Reserve return hundreds of billions of dollars in credit designed to back loans to businesses drew a sharp response from Biden's team on Friday, who called it "deeply irresponsible," given the country's accelerating Covid cases and new lockdowns.

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News Network
November 25,2020

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Beijing, Nov 25: China on Wednesday said it was firmly opposed to India's decision to block 43 more Chinese apps on national security grounds, claiming the move violated WTO rules.

India on Tuesday blocked 43 more Chinese mobile apps, including Alibaba Group Holding's e-commerce app AliExpress, in a fresh wave of web sanctions amid its border standoff with China. The banned applications, which include a few dating apps, were a threat to the "sovereignty and integrity of India", an official statement said in New Delhi.

The Ministry of Electronics and IT issued the order for blocking the access of these apps by users in India based on the comprehensive reports received from Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Center, Ministry of Home Affairs, the release said. Earlier on June 29 this year, the government had blocked access to 59 mobile apps and on September 2, another 118 apps were banned under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act.

The ban had come in the backdrop of border tensions with China in eastern Ladakh since May.

Asked for his reaction to the latest ban on Chinese apps by India, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing here China expresses serious concern over India’s move.

“Since June this year four times India has imposed restrictions on smart phone apps that have Chinese backgrounds under the pretext of national security,” he said.

"This behaviour violates market principles and World Trade Organisation rules, severely undermines the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies. China firmly rejects it,” the spokesman said.

Zhao said Chinese government always asks its companies to abide by international rules and local laws and regulations when doing business overseas.

“Following the market principles, the Indian government has the responsibility to protect their lawful rights and interests of international investors, including Chinese companies”, he said.

He said the nature of China India economic and trade cooperation is mutually beneficial.

"We urge the Indian side to immediately correct its discriminatory behaviour and avoid further damage to bilateral cooperation,” he said.

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