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Updated: 45 min 55 sec ago

Burger King to sell alcohol in UK

20 hours 11 min ago

SUFFOLK: Burger King has become the first fast food chain in UK to be granted a licence to sell alcohol.

Despite objections from local police, a Suffolk branch of Burger King has been granted a licence to sell plastic bottles of American beer.

The branch will be allowed to sell alcohol to customers over the age of 18 after 9:00pm, with no alcoholic drinks permitted off premises.

Burger King strikes back with The Peace Day Burger after McWhopper’s refusal

However, the burger chain had applied for permission to serve drinks from 10:00am to 11:00pm seven days a week but local police opposed it.

“Other night-time economies [in Bury] have door staff, CCTV, substantial staff training and policies for identifying underage customers,” local licensing inspector Matt Dee said, raising concerns that the fast food chain will not be able to deal with the ramifications.

“The applicant would be free to sell strong spirits in its current application format which the constabulary deem inappropriate for the type of premises and lack of safeguarding,” he added.

Table for 4? McDonald’s takes reservations in SwedenBurger King is also seeking to gain permission for sale of alcohol at branches in Blackpool, Hull and Newcastle. If successful, the company could then go on to expand to its 654 outlets in UK.

This article originally appeared on The Telegraph.

The post Burger King to sell alcohol in UK appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: News

Varun Dhawan, Zoya Akhtar to team up?

20 hours 24 min ago

MUMBAI: Bollywood actor Varun Dhawan may be busy with his upcoming film Dilwale, but the actor has dropped hints that he might team up with director Zoya Akhtar for a new project.

The actor took to Twitter to suggest that the two have collaborated for a project. He increased the curiosity with a ‘coming soon’ hashtag.

‘Dilwale’ team unveils ‘Gangsters of Love’

“Zoya Akhtar at work #funfilmaker #comingsoon,” Varun tweeted, and shared a photograph of Zoya with greenery in the backdrop.

In the image, the Dil Dhadakne Do director can be seen engrossed with her phone. The background seems to be a jungle.

Zoya Akthar at work #funfilmaker #comingsoon

— Varun Veer Dhawan (@Varun_dvn) November 30, 2015

7 embarrassing celebrity stage fails

Meanwhile, Varun is a busy man. He is looking forward to his big release of the year Dilwale next month, and will then immerse himself in other projects like Dishoom and Shuddhi.

Directed by Rohit Shetty, Dilwale also features Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol and Kriti Sanon. The film will hit screens on December 18.

The post Varun Dhawan, Zoya Akhtar to team up? appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: News

For sale: South Dakota ghost town for $250,000

20 hours 31 min ago

Just in time for holiday shopping, an entire South Dakota ghost town, complete with its own watering hole, is on sale for $250,000, a real estate agent said on Monday.

The roughly 6-acre (2.5-hectare) town of Swett, includes a tavern, three-bedroom house and a former tire shop about 100 miles (160 km) southeast of Rapid City, South Dakota.

Oregon burglar climbs naked into couple’s bed, is chased at gunpoint

Realtor Stacie Montgomery said potential buyers have expressed interest from the United States and beyond since she first listed the property for sale in June 2014, though several written offers fell through and she has since dropped the price from $399,000 to $250,000.

One of those offers included a call from a Russian movie production company that wanted to film there, she said.

Swett’s population peaked at 40 residents in the 1940s when it had a post office and grocery store.

American Airlines flight delayed in Texas by swarming bees

Swett’s most recent residents included town owner Lance Benson, his wife and dog, who put the community up for sale last year before losing it to a bank, Montgomery said. Benson acquired Swett in 1998, later gave it up in a divorce settlement and then reacquired the town in 2012.

The tiny prairie domain also comes with a new town sign, courtesy of the state, to replace the previous one that was riddled with bullet holes.

The post For sale: South Dakota ghost town for $250,000 appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: News

Al Qaeda threatens Saudi Arabia over plan to execute prisoners

20 hours 34 min ago

DUBAI: Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen threatened the Saudi government over its plan to carry out a mass execution of prisoners, including al Qaeda members, the militant group announced in a statement posted on social media.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one of the deadliest branches of the global militant network, said it was aware of Saudi intentions to execute its members in Saudi prisons and pledged to carry out attacks in response.

Saudi Arabia set to behead 50 terrorism convicts in one go

“We swear to God, our blood will be shed before the blood of our captives, and their pure blood will not dry before we shed the blood of the soldiers of Al Saud,” the group said in a statement which was posted on Twitter and dated Tuesday.

“We will not enjoy life unless we get the necks of the Al Saud rulers.”

Local media reported last week that Saudi authorities planned to execute more than 50 people convicted of “terrorist crimes”.

The Saudi monarchy has faced a rise in militant attacks in the past year, with the Syria and Iraq-based Islamic State militant group claiming responsibility for a string of mosque bombings and shootings.

The only people executed for al Qaeda attacks in the kingdom, which killed hundreds in the last decade, were two men from Chad earlier this year.

Saudi carries out 146th execution this year

Saudi Arabia has executed at least 151 people this year, according to Amnesty International, many of them foreigners convicted of drug-related crimes.

The last time the kingdom carried out mass executions for security offences was after a group of militants seized Makkah’s Grand Mosque in 1979.

The post Al Qaeda threatens Saudi Arabia over plan to execute prisoners appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: News

Refugee groups: Carson misses big picture on Syria refugees

20 hours 38 min ago

WASHINGTON, DC: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson’s comments after a visit to a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan underestimated the scope and complexity of a global crisis, aid and refugee groups said Monday.

Carson, a leading candidate in the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, visited the Zaatari camp for refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war over the weekend.

Carson’s comeback to Trump’s insults: “Pray for him”

In television interviews on Sunday, Carson, who has faced scrutiny over his foreign policy credentials, said he found facilities there to be “really quite nice” and that people there would rather stay or return home to Syria than go to the United States.

Shannon Scribner, humanitarian policy manager for Oxfam America, praised Carson for visiting the camp, which holds around 84,000 refugees, and for bringing attention to the need for more funding.

“What I didn’t hear him talking about, though, was that a political solution is what’s needed,” she said. “In order to stop this flow of refugees the fighting actually needs to stop.”

He also failed to consider resettling the refugees as part of the solution, she said. Most of them hope to return to Syria one day, but some are unable to, and nobody wants to stay in the camps, she noted.

Carson told CNN that many of the Syrian refugees want to return to Syria. “But they are satisfied to be in the refugee camps if the refugee camps are adequately funded. Recognize that in these camps they have schools, they have recreational facilities that are really quite nice,” Carson said.

“They’re not nice,” said Melanie Nezer, a policy director at HIAS, a Jewish nonprofit agency that works with refugees worldwide.

Zaatari, one of two big camps in Jordan, is at capacity and the other, Azraq, has no electricity and poses security concerns, especially for women, according to HIAS. They are living in the desert, cannot work and many long to return to lives that were once middle class, the aid workers said.

Republican Ben Carson compares Syrian refugees to ‘rabid dogs’

“No one wants to be a refugee,” Scribner said.

Carson and other Republican candidates have criticized President Barack Obama’s plan to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees over the coming year. They cite the risk of militants slipping through, especially after the November 13 attacks in Paris by Islamic State.

Carson also called for increased US aid for regional refugee efforts. “If you do that, you solve that problem without exposing the American people to a population that could be infiltrated with terrorists who want to destroy us,” he said.

The vast majority of the 4 million refugees who have fled Syria since the civil war began in 2011 do not live in refugee camps, but are spread among the population in the host country. In Jordan, only about 20 percent of the more than 620,000 registered Syrians live in the camps, the refugee groups said.

“So to suggest that the solution for Syrian refugees in Jordan is to simply funnel more money into refugee camps in Jordan is erroneous,” said Naomi Steinberg, director of Refugee Council USA.

She declined to comment specifically on Carson’s trip, but said, “To visit Jordan and to visit the camps and to think that that is the full picture is inaccurate.”

Neighboring countries Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan have taken in large numbers of refugees. Nezer noted that one in four people in Lebanon is a Syrian refugee.

“They can’t absorb all these people and they really need help from the rest of the world. We can’t just say to these countries that the burden is completely on them,” she said.

Carson offered few details about how he would work to defeat Islamic State militants and stabilize Syria to enable the refugees’ return.

His comments reflected a rudimentary understanding of the scope of the Syrian refugee crisis, Nezer said.

US states shun Syria refugees in wake of Paris attacks

“I could watch brain surgery for a day or two; that doesn’t make me a brain surgeon,” she said. “You cannot get an appreciation for the scale of this crisis and the global implications of it by spending a day or two talking to a few refugees in one location.”

The post Refugee groups: Carson misses big picture on Syria refugees appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: News

Children’s data exposed in VTech toy company hack

20 hours 38 min ago

SAN FRANCISCO: Learning toy maker VTech Holdings on Monday said that millions of accounts and related children’s profiles were affected by a cyber attack on one of the Hong Kong-based company’s databases.

VTech estimated about five million accounts were affected by a hacker breach of its Learning Lodge app store on November 14.

Microsoft agrees to store customer data in Germany

Learning Lodge allows customers to download applications, games, e-books and other material for VTech devices.

On its website, VTech describes itself as the number one “player” in infant toys in Britain, France, Germany and Spain, and tops globally when it comes to electronic learning products for children.

“We immediately conducted a thorough investigation, which involved a comprehensive check of the affected site and implementation of measures to defend against any further attacks,” VTech said.

The breached database contains user profile information including names, passwords, mailing addresses and “secret questions” for password retrieval, according to the company.

The database also reportedly held information about children’s birthdates, names and genders.

A report published in online magazine Motherboard cited the hacker as claiming that data easily swiped from the database included thousands of digital pictures or children and parents, and logs of their online chats.

VTech said that no credit card information was taken, because none is processed or stored at the Learning Lodge website.

The post Children’s data exposed in VTech toy company hack appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: News

Messi voted La Liga’s top striker for 2014-2015

20 hours 44 min ago

MADRID: Barcelona star Lionel Messi, the favourite to win FIFA’s prestigious Ballon d’Or title, was on Monday voted the top striker in the Spanish league last season ahead of Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

It is the sixth time that the Argentinian has won the title in seven editions of the trophy given by the Spanish football league, with the prize presented during a gala ceremony in Barcelona on Monday night.

Messi, who scored 43 goals and was the catalyst for Barcelona’s run to three titles last season — the Champions League, La Liga and the Spanish Cup — was selected following a computer analysis of the players’ statistics in the championship.

La Liga: Barca front three wreak havoc again

“I’m proud to receive this award ahead of  so many important players in La Liga,” said Messi.

“This award in particular I want to dedicate to my son Thiago (aged 3) even if he still doesn’t understand very well. Every time I leave the house he gets angry and asks me: ‘Papa, are you going again to score goals?’ This award is for him.”

Messi also won the vote for the best striker following a poll of the captains of each of Spain’s top flight sides.

Messi, Neymar, Suarez strike to keep Barca rolling

Barcelona’s Claudio Bravo was voted the best goalkeeper and Luis Enrique top coach while Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos and James Rodriguez were named best defender and midfielder respectively.

Valencia’s Algerian midfielder Sofiane Feghouli was voted the top African player and Barcelona’s Brazilian striker Neymar, the best player from the American continent.

Real Madrid’s Portuguese star Ronaldo, who scored the most La Liga goals last season with 48, won the publics’ choice award.

Ronaldo, Messi and Neymar were all named on Monday’s shortlist for FIFA’s Ballon d’Or which will be awarded on January 11.

While Ronaldo has triumphed over the last two seasons (in a total of three wins), Messi has previously claimed the coveted award four times while Neymar makes the shortlist for the first time.

Neymar, 23, said it was “a great honour” to be named for the first time alongside his illustrious La Liga rivals.

The post Messi voted La Liga’s top striker for 2014-2015 appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: News

Pink takes on malnutrition as UNICEF ambassador

21 hours 6 min ago

UNITED STATES: Pink was appointed on Monday as UNICEF’s newest ambassador, pledging to raise awareness about malnutrition worldwide.

“As a mom myself, it’s devastating to know that children are suffering because they don’t have adequate nutrition,” said the Grammy Award-winning singer.

World Prematurity Day: High preterm births linked to malnutrition

“All children should be able to grow up strong and healthy, with the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

“As a UNICEF ambassador, I want to use my platform to help end global malnutrition,” which affects one in four children around the world, according to UNICEF.

Pink has a three-year-old daughter, Willow, with husband Carey Hart.

In July, Pink traveled to Haiti to see how therapeutic food can have an impact on malnourished children.

High malnutrition rate affecting economy

She visited an infant care center where children are treated for severe acute malnutrition.

The post Pink takes on malnutrition as UNICEF ambassador appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: News

US tightens rules for visa-free visits after Paris attacks

21 hours 54 min ago

WASHINGTON, DC: After extremist attacks in Europe, the United States will tighten security procedures for its visa waiver program for visitors from friendly countries, officials said Monday.

The United States already screens visa applicants from war zones carefully, but will now ask more questions of travelers from countries eligible for visa waivers.

Washington will also seek greater cooperation and intelligence sharing with allied countries to try to intercept “foreign fighters” returning from places like Syria.

Obama visits Paris attack site, pays tribute to victims

This month’s deadly attacks in Paris are thought to have been the work of European Muslims trained and radicalised by the Islamic State group in its Syrian and Iraqi bases.

As French or Belgian citizens, they could have flown to the United States by registering with the ESTA visa waiver system and avoided the close scrutiny imposed on refugees.

But travelers will now be required to declare previous visits to any country the US Department of Homeland Security has deemed a “terrorist safe haven.”

Their registrations will also come under greater scrutiny from US agencies, which in turn will work in closer cooperation with allied police and intelligence outfits.

Speaking in Paris, White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said the Department of Homeland Security had tightened some rules even before the Paris attacks and would now act quickly.

“We’ve always been concerned about the fact that there is a significant higher flow of foreign fighters into and out of Europe than the United States,” he said.

“We benefit in some respects from geography and in some respects from simply having a population that has not had the same desire to join the effort in Syria under Islamic State.

“So we see a much more significant threat of foreign fighters coming into Europe than the numbers of foreign fighters coming into the United States.”

Britain’s Gatwick Airport evacuates one terminal as precautionary measure

US federal agents will also work with the authorities in countries whose citizens are eligible for visa-free travel to help them collect biometric data, officials said.

And US “foreign fighter surge teams” will deploy to areas where there is a concern that jihadists returning from war zones may seek onward travel to the United States.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson also urged Congress to fund greater pre-screening of flight passengers and tougher airport security controls.

“This means deploying our US Customs officials to foreign airports with direct flights to the United States,” he said, adding that 15 overseas airports already permit this.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest called on Congress to act quickly to pass funding measures to allow an expansion and deepening of intelligence and screening programs.

“If there are steps that we can take that will improve information sharing, that would obviously be an important part of more carefully vetting individuals,” he said.

The visa waiver program applies to 38 countries, largely US allies and relatively stable developed democracies whose citizens have hitherto been seen as posing little threat.

Earnest said 20 million people a year visit the United States under the program and represent a boon to the US economy through tourist spending and building business ties.

Belgian scheme tries to nip radicalisation in the bud

But he complained that President Barack Obama’s Republican opponents in Congress have focused on halting the arrival of Syrian refugees rather than reforming the waiver program.

Shortly after the White House announcement, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy vowed to move quickly to promote the reforms that Homeland Security is seeking.

The post US tightens rules for visa-free visits after Paris attacks appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: News

Horoscope: November 12, 2015

22 hours 7 min ago

Aries | March 20 – April 19

In September Saturn, the planet of focus, moved to accent ways you can broaden your horizon. Since then you may have felt restless and could even have begun exploring new places to go or ideas to study. Don’t waste too much time weighing each up. Experiment. Experience will prove a wonderful teacher.

Taurus | April 20 – May 20

For months you’ve been fretting about certain tedious but important practical matters. With both your ruler Venus and forthright Mars accenting these, the moment has come to take action. Waste no time gathering information. Do something out of character and plunge in. You’ll be amazed how well things go.

Gemini | May 21 – June 20

Everybody loves the excitement that unexpected offers bring with them. However, those coming your way now could be better timed. You’re already overwhelmed with changes, some welcome, others, less so. While you can handle everything, it could mean you’re unable to give these the attention you think they deserve.

Cancer | June 21 – July 22

Unsettling as sudden changes are, there’s no question about refusing one particular idea or offer that’s come from out of the blue. Once you’ve dealt with the necessary details, you’ll both be better informed. Of even greater significance, those facts will eliminate any questions about whether this is in your best interests.

Leo | July 23 – August 22

Long ago you decided there’s little point in arguing with those whose views aren’t going to change, whatever you say. However, certain events are forcing even those who flatly refuse even to discuss new ideas to do exactly that, and even more, to consider rearranging certain once-fixed elements of their existence.

Virgo | August 23 – September 22

Little is more exasperating than dealing with those who refuse even to consider changes, especially when the individual in question would benefit. Tempting as it is to discuss this logically, it’s unlikely to achieve much. Instead, take action but say nothing, now or later. This seems underhand but is the best strategy.

Libra | September 23 – October 22

The last thing you need is to contend with developments as disruptive as they are unexpected. Yet not only do you have no choice, the more you learn, the more excited you’ll find you are about their potential. Waste no time on debate. Move swiftly. You won’t regret it.

Scorpio | October 23 – November 21

Ordinarily you keep a close eye on who does what. That is to say, you’re aware when others are generous, and try to compensate them appropriately. But not everybody notices or even cares about such matters. If one particular individual’s done nothing, it may be because it’s never crossed their mind.

Sagittarius | November 22 – December 21

When you believe in something or somebody, you’ll back them to the hilt. While usually that capacity to commit wholeheartedly is a virtue, at the moment, it could lead to problems. Several settings or individuals aren’t what you think. You already sense this. Do some investigation and you’ll learn the rest.

Capricorn | December 22 – January 19

Disillusioning as it is learning somebody hasn’t done as promised, you’ve dealt with similar situations before and will again. Ironically, what you discover in the process of untangling the resulting problems won’t just be informative, it’ll prompt you to explore new ideas that, otherwise, you might not have known about.

Aquarius | January 20 – February 17

Recent ideas, offers or developments may have been promising but you’re lacking important facts. Risky as it seems, plunge in. With the actual situations in question still evolving, this ensures you’re up to date. That way, instead of waiting by the sidelines, you can make informed decisions as you proceed.

Pisces | February 18 – March 19

Anticipating conversations you know will lead to heated discussions, if not clashes, is bad enough. But the knowledge you might upset somebody is even worse. Bear in mind, however, the individual in question is behind these difficulties. Had they been more responsible, there wouldn’t have been any problems to deal with.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 1st,  2015.

The post Horoscope: November 12, 2015 appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: News

Turkey shot down Russian warplane to protect Islamic State oil trade: Putin

22 hours 7 min ago

LE BOURGET, FRANCE: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday accused Ankara of shooting down a Russian warplane to protect supplies of oil from the Islamic State (IS) group to Turkey, after snubbing his Turkish counterpart at a climate conference in France.

The Kremlin strongman fired the latest salvo in the furious war of words over the downing of the Russian jet on the Syrian border last week as the body of a pilot killed in the incident was returned home.

Turkish authorities meanwhile again pledged not to apologise over the incident, as Moscow rolled out its sanctions aimed at exacting economic revenge.

Turkey will not apologise for downing Russian fighter jet: PM

After rejecting Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s offer of face-to-face talks on the sidelines of a UN climate summit outside Paris on Monday, Putin accused Ankara of seeking to protect IS oil exports — an important source of funds for the terrorist group.

“We have every reason to think that the decision to shoot down our plane was dictated by the desire to protect the oil supply lines to Turkish territory, right to the ports where it is loaded onto tankers,” Putin said during a news conference on the fringes of the climate talks, echoing similar accusations he made last week — which Turkey vehemently denies.

“We have received additional information which unfortunately confirms that this oil, produced in areas controlled by the Islamic State and other terrorist organisations, is transported on an industrial scale to Turkey.”

Erdogan said he would be ready to resign if the allegations were proved true.

“I will say something very strong here. If such a thing is proven, the nobility of our nation would require that I would not stay in office,” he was quoted by the state-run Anatolia news agency as saying on the sidelines of the talks.

The downing of the Russian jet on the Turkey-Syria border — the first time a NATO member has shot down a Russian plane since 1952 — has hammered ties between the two rival players in the Syria conflict.

Putin did meet US President Barack Obama, who “expressed his regret” over the loss of life in the plane downing and called for a “de-escalation between Russia and Turkey”, a White House official said.

Russia on Monday laid out more details of retaliatory economic sanctions aimed at denting Turkey’s key tourism and agricultural sectors.

Russia announces economic sanctions against Turkey over jet downing

Moscow announced it will halt fruit and vegetable imports from Turkey after Putin signed a decree over the weekend banning charter flights and the sale of package holidays, and scrapping Russia’s visa-free regime with the country.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called the moves a “first step” as Moscow also said it would limit Turkish transport firms and tighten controls on construction contracts.

The authorities however stopped short of targeting Russia’s major joint energy projects with Turkey.

The announcement on the economic reprisals came as the body of pilot Oleg Peshkov, who was killed when the plane was shot down, arrived back in Russia from Ankara.

A plane carrying the corpse of Peshkov was met by Russia’s defence minister outside Moscow after the body was bought from Syria to Turkey and handed over to Russian diplomats.

Both pilots aboard the Su-24 warplane ejected and parachuted to the ground on the Syrian side of the border after being shot down by Turkish F-16s on November 24.

Moscow’s defence ministry said Peshkov was shot dead from the ground while his comrade Konstantin Murakhtin was rescued by Russian and Syrian special forces. One Russian serviceman was also killed trying to rescue the pilot.

Local reports said Peshkov will be buried Wednesday in his hometown Lipetsk, an industrial city in central Russia.

Turks advised against non-urgent travel to Russia: ministry

After the downing of its jet Moscow has bolstered its firepower in Syria — where it is flying a bombing campaign at the request of Syrian President Bashar al Assad — and on Monday said its planes were now equipped with air-to-air missiles.

Russian media has portrayed the handover of the remains as a goodwill gesture on the part of Ankara after several days of heated rhetoric, but neither side has looked willing to back down.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu insisted once again that Ankara would not apologise over the downing of the plane.

“Protection of our airspace, our border is not only a right but a duty for my government and no Turkish premier or president … will apologise (for) doing our duty,” he told a joint press conference with NATO head Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels.

Davutoglu decried Russia’s sanctions against Turkey and called on Moscow to “reconsider these measures in both our interests”, while reiterating once again Ankara’s willingness to talk.

The post Turkey shot down Russian warplane to protect Islamic State oil trade: Putin appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: News

Pope says fundamentalism is ‘disease of all religions’

22 hours 14 min ago

Aboard the papal plane, Dec 1, 2015 (AFP) – Pope Francis said Monday that fundamentalism is “a disease of all religions”, including the Roman Catholic Church, as he returned from a three-nation tour of Africa in which he preached reconciliation and hope.

“Fundamentalism is always a tragedy. It is not religious, it lacks God, it is idolatrous,” the Argentine pontiff told journalists on the plane back from the Central African Republic.

Pope to visit mosque in conflict-ridden Central Africa

There, on the final leg of his first trip to Africa, the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics called on Christian and Muslim “brothers and sisters” to end the sectarian conflict that has torn the country apart.

He was given a rapturous welcome by thousands of people as he visited a mosque in the flashpoint Muslim PK5 neighbourhood of the capital Bangui, on what was the most dangerous part of his 24-hour visit to the country.

“Together, we must say no to hatred, to revenge and to violence, particularly that violence which is perpetrated in the name of a religion or of God himself,” he said.

Speaking later in the day as he flew back to Rome, Francis said Islam was not the only religion to suffer from violent extremists, such as the ones behind the deadly attacks in Paris which were claimed by the Islamic State.

“We Catholics, we have a few, even many fundamentalists. They believe they know absolute truth and corrupt others,” he said, adding: “I can say this because this is my Church.”

Pope in Africa says dialogue vital to avert violence in God’s name

Francis also visited Kenya on his trip, where he denounced the radicalisation of young people, citing “barbarous attacks” by Islamic extremists in Nairobi, Garissa and Mandera.

The country has been hit by numerous deadly attacks since sending its army into neighbouring Somalia in 2011 after a string of kidnappings it blamed on Al qaeda’s east Africa branch, the Shebab.

In Uganda, huge crowds celebrated as he honoured Christians martyred for the faith and hailed Africa as “the continent of hope”.

But it was in Central African Republic, torn apart by brutal violence between mostly Muslim rebels and Christian militias for more than two years, that his visit appeared to have made the most powerful impression.

In extraordinary scenes before he held a papal mass at the capital’s Barthelemy Boganda stadium, a group of Muslim rebels from the PK5 area leapt out of two pickup trucks, all wearing T-shirts bearing the pope’s image.

As they pushed through the crowd in an area where Muslims usually do not dare to venture, people cheered and shouted: “It’s over”.

“We thought the whole world had abandoned us, but not him. He loves us Muslims too,” said Idi Bohari, an elderly man.

Pope honours Ugandan martyrs on Africa tour

The landlocked Central African Republic descended into bloodshed after longtime Christian leader Francois Bozize was ousted by rebels from the mainly Muslim Seleka force in March 2013.

The coup plunged the former French colony into its worst crisis since independence in 1960, and more than 100 people have been killed in the capital since late September alone.

The post Pope says fundamentalism is ‘disease of all religions’ appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: News

Punjab received Rs67b royalty on oil, gas, SC told

22 hours 29 min ago

Authorities in Punjab conceded on Monday that the federal government has credited approximately Rs67 billion to the province on account of royalty on crude oil and natural gas during the financial years 1989 to August 2015.

Punjab Energy Secretary through Assistant Advocate General Punjab Muddasir Khalid Abbasi has filed a report in a suo motu case regarding the social welfare obligations of the oil and gas companies.

Oil and gas: Government expects to receive Rs382b in its coffers

The application was moved in the Supreme Court (SC) on behalf of Tando Adam Tehsil Bar Association President Abdul Hakeem Khos. The petitioner had pointed out that oil and gas companies in Sanghar district were spreading pollution and not focusing on providing infrastructure, jobs and gas to the local population.

On December 27, 2013 the top court directed the director general petroleum concessions (DGPC) and provincial governments to ensure monitoring of the oil and gas companies’ social welfare operations.

Later on, former CJP Jawwad S Khawaja initiated the proceedings regarding the implementation of court’s December 27, 2013 order on the same subject.

The bench on October 14 asked all the provinces to submit a final report on the use and recovery of a social welfare fund by O&E companies so that the matter could be disposed of.

The Punjab government, while submitting the report, told the SC that the funds, provided by the federal government under the head of royalty, are being spent in the concerned districts through Annual Development Programmes every year.

During the current financial year 2015-16, 32,388.4 million have been allocated in eight production districts of Punjab. These districts are: Dera Ghazi Khan, Chakwal, Attock, Jhang, Mianwali, Rahim Yar Khan, Rajanpur and Rawalpindi where 524 schemes have been completed and 485 others are in progress.

Production bonus

The report stated the Punjab government had notified a Production Bonus Utilisation Committee on June 24, 2014 and circulated it among relevant districts, adding that the role of the committee is to indentify, prepare and approve public welfare schemes with these funds specifically near the operational areas.

Under price pressure, OGDCL profit slips 30%

The director general for petroleum concessions has transferred Rs244.953 million to the joint accounts of DCOs and EDOs of the eight districts where crude oil and natural gas are being produced.

Social welfare obligation

The report also said that Director General Petroleum Concessions has revised guidelines for the social welfare funds in 2014. As per guidelines, the funds are required to spend on specific sectors, including health, education, water, supply and drainage within the confined areas which are under exploration work at exploration stage.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 1st,  2015.

The post Punjab received Rs67b royalty on oil, gas, SC told appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: News

Four terrorists killed in DG Khan encounter

22 hours 30 min ago

DERA GHAZI KHAN: Four wanted terrorists, associated with Da’ish and al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), were killed in an encounter with the counter-terrorism department (CTD) and other law enforcement agencies in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Dera Ghazi Khan district. However, AQIS local chief Shoaib Cheema and one of his accomplices managed to escape.

The joint operation took place Sunday night near Aliani village in Wador area of DG Khan on a tip-off regarding the presence of Shoaib Cheema and six other terrorists. The terrorists also hurled two hand grenades on the CTD team and used sophisticated firearms during the nearly two-hour encounter.

LEAs put on alert in view of terror threat

After the postmortem of the four bodies, they were shifted to Multan under strict security. CTD Multan has registered a case against the terrorists involved in the encounter on various charges including attacks on law enforcing agencies.

According to sources, Shoaib Cheema is an important commander of Da’ish and al Qaeda and he and his group have been involved in attacks on senior army officers and important installations. They were planning major attacks in the southern Punjab, they added.

After the encounter, the security personnel continued their search operation late into the night for Cheema and one of his accomplices who had managed to escape.

The deceased terrorists were identified as Nasir (resident of Faisalabad), Muhammad Tariq (Gujrat), Muhammad Usman (Gujranwala) and Muhammad Suleman (Lahore).

Seven killed, 13 injured in blast inside MNA’s office in DG Khan

It may be recalled that Da’ish and al Qaeda wall-chalking with deadly threats to important personalities was seen in various areas of DG Khan including Kala, Wahwa and tribal areas. According to the sources, security agencies are keeping a vigilant eye on the movement of suspects in the neighbourhood. (TRANSLATION BY ARSHAD SHAHEEN)

Published in The Express Tribune, December 1st,  2015.


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