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Rishi Sunak, A British Indian, becomes UK Next Prime Minister

At 42, Rishi Sunak, who is Hindu, is also the youngest prime minister in more than 200 years.

For the first time in the United Kingdom’s history, the country is being led by a non-white person as prime minister. The 42-year-old son of Indian immigrants, whose political career has already had its ups and downs, Mr. Sunak won the contest to replace the short-lived prime minister, Liz Truss, when his only remaining opponent, Penny Mordaunt, withdrew after failing to reach the threshold of 100 nominating votes from Conservative lawmakers. The former chancellor of the Exchequer is set to become the first person of color to lead Britain. He will face a range of dire economic challenges and promised to bring his “party and country together.”He was born in Southampton to ethnic Indian immigrant parents. On Monday 24 October 2022, he was elected by his Conservative Party to take over from Liz Truss, who broke an unenviable record as the shortest-serving prime minister. She held Britain’s top job for 44 days, failing to outlast a head of lettuce that a British tabloid livestreamed for about a week as it strove to answer the question: “Which wet lettuce will last longer?” But is Sunak’s appointment a win for representation, or mere cosmetic change that will plough the country into further austerity measures while promising tax breaks for the rich? According to Nayaz Qazi, director of the Conservative Friends of India organisation, Sunak’s elevation is “a very proud moment for British Indians and all ethnic minority communities”. “Rishi’s appointment is a testament to how the Conservative Party promotes talent and meritocracy,” Qazi  told Al Jazeera. “This will inspire all communities, particularly the British Indian and ethnic minority communities. Rishi Sunak begins appointing new cabinet

In his first speech as PM, Sunak promised to unite the nation “facing a profound economic crisis” and acknowledged “mistakes were made” by his predecessors. ‘It is going to be tough,’ UK finance minister says Jeremy Hunt, who is keeping his job as finance minister, said on Twitter: “Honoured to serve our country, and Rishi Sunak, as Chancellor of the Exchequer. “It is going to be tough. But protecting the vulnerable  and people’s jobs, mortgages and bills  will be at the front of our minds as we work to restore stability, confidence and long-term growth.”


China’s Xi secures third term, stacks leadership team with allies

(23 Oct 2022) China’s President Xi Jinping has secured a historic third term as the Communist Party’s leader, cementing his place as the nation’s most influential ruler since Mao Zedong. The Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) elected Xi as its general secretary for a precedent-breaking five-year term on Sunday, tilting the country decisively back towards one-man rule after decades of power-sharing among its elites. Xi is now all but certain to sail through to a third term as China’s president, due to be formally announced during the government’s annual legislative sessions in March next year. The CCP also named a seven-member Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) led by Xi, its inner circle of power dominated by the party leader’s allies. Xi introduced the new lineup, walking at the head of the group as he lead them onto the stage at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People to meet reporters. Shanghai Communist Party chief Li Qiang followed Xi, meaning that he is likely to succeed Li Keqiang as premier when the latter retires in March. The other members of China’s top governing body are Zhao Leji and Wang Huning, who return from the previous committee and newcomers Cai Qi, Ding Xuexiang and Li Xi. “I wish to thank the whole party sincerely for the trust you have placed in us,” Xi said after his appointment, and promised to “work diligently in the performance of our duties to prove worthy of the great trust of our party and our people”. All of the PSC’s new members are perceived to have close allegiance to the 69-year-old Xi, who was also named the chairman of the Central Military Commission. SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES


Ex-UK pilots lured to help Chinese military, MoD say

By Gordon Corera | Security correspondent, BBC News

Former British military pilots are being lured to China with large sums of money to pass on their expertise to the Chinese military, it is claimed. Up to 30 former UK military pilots are thought to have gone to train members of China’s People’s Liberation Army. The UK is issuing an intelligence alert to warn former military pilots against working for the Chinese military. Attempts to head-hunt pilots are ongoing and had been ramping up recently, Western officials say. A spokesperson from the Ministry of Defence said the training ​and the recruiting of pilots does not breach any current UK law but officials in the UK and other countries are trying to deter the activity. “It is a lucrative package t hat is being offered to people,” said one Western official, adding that “money is a strong motivator”. Some of the packages are thought to be as much as £237,911 ($270,000).  The retired British pilots are being used to help understand the way in which Western planes and pilots operate, information which could be vital in the event of any conflict, such as over Taiwan. “They are a very attractive body of people to then pass on that knowledge,” a Western official said. “It’s taking Western pilots of great experience to help develop Chinese military air force tactics and capabilities.” A spokesman for Prime Minister Liz Truss said the government was taking “decisive steps” to stop the headhunting and “protect our national security”. He pointed to a review into confidentiality clauses and non-disclosure agreements in contracts signed by former military personnel. Armed forces minister James Heappey said the UK “must change the law” to ensure pilots did not pass on intelligence to China in the future. There is no evidence that any pilots have broken the Official Secrets Act or that they have committed any crime. The aim of the alert is to try to deter activity and inform current staff and industry partners and also remind personnel of their obligations to protect sensitive information.


Japan, Australia leaders sign new security pact to counter China

(22 Oct 2022) Australia and Japan have agreed to share more intelligence and deepen military cooperation in what is being seen as a security pact aimed at countering China’s growing military presence in the Asia Pacific region. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida agreed on Saturday 22 October, to strengthen security ties at the annual Australia-Japan Leaders’ Meeting in the city of Perth. As part of the closer partnership, Albanese said Japan’s military would train and exercise in northern Australia alongside Australian Defence Force personnel, and the exchange of intelligence would be boosted between both countries. In their fourth summit since Albanese took office in May, the two leaders said the agreement would serve “as a compass” for security cooperation for the next decade. “This landmark declaration sends a strong signal to the region of our strategic alignment”, Albanese said, hailing the officially titled “Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation”. The Japanese leader said the two nations had been working to achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific under “an increasingly severe strategic environment”. Kishida said he was resolved to examining all options required for national defence, including “counterstrike capabilities”, and he would ensure substantial increases to Japan’s defence budget to achieve his aims. Canberra and Tokyo have been focused on increased security ties in response to China’s growing military strength in the region. In May, Kishida and Albanese pledged to work towards a new bilateral declaration on security cooperation. (SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES)


Australia reverses recognition of W Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

(18 Oct 2022) Australia says it will no longer recognize West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, reversing a decision taken by the government of former Prime Minister Scott Morrison in 2018.

“Today the Government has reaffirmed Australia’s previous and longstanding position that Jerusalem is a final status issue that should be resolved as part of any peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian people,” Foreign Minister Penny Wong said in a statement. “This reverses the Morrison Government’s recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.” Wong reiterated that Australia’s embassy would remain in Tel Aviv and that Canberra was committed to a two-state solution “in which Israel and a future Palestinian state coexist, in peace and security, within internationally recognised borders”. She added: “We will not support an approach that undermines this prospect.” The status of Jerusalem is one of the biggest sticking points in attempts to reach a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Saudi Arabia welcomes Australia’s rejection of Jerusalem as Israeli capital In a statement, the Saudi foreign ministry reiterated the Kingdom’s “unwavering support” for the Palestinian people. Israel slams Canberra Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid sharply criticised Australia’s decision. Lapid described the move as a “hasty response”, adding: “We can only hope that the Australian government manages other matters more seriously and professionally. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority hailed Australia’s move. “We welcome Australia’s decision with regards to Jerusalem & its call for a two-state solution in accordance with international legitimacy,” the Palestinian Authority’s civil affairs minister, Hussein al-Sheikh, said on Twitter.(SOURCE: AL JAZEERA/Arab News)


UK has ‘no plans’ to move Israel embassy to Jerusalem: PM office

(3 Nov 2022) The spokeswoman for Sunak, who replaced Liz Truss as prime minister last week, told reporters that the relocation idea had been “looked at” under the previous administration.

When asked if the UK was still considering the relocation, she said the government had “no [such] plans”. The UK has for decades housed its embassy in Tel Aviv, where most other countries have their diplomatic outposts, despite Israel designating Jerusalem as its capital. Truss’s announcement in late September that she was considering relocating the embassy to Jerusalem was welcomed at the time by Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid but provoked a backlash from the Palestinian government, pro-Palestinian groups, British church leaders and European foreign ministers, among others. The move was welcomed by Israel and criticised by the Arab world and Western allies. At the time, the UK, under the leadership of then-Prime Minister Theresa May, said it had no plans to move its embassy and publicly disagreed with the US move. Currently, only the US, Kosovo, Honduras, and Guatemala have their embassies in Jerusalem. SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES


Russia revenge after bridge explosion | Russia fires 75 missiles at Ukraine

By: Express Web Desk  | October 10, 2022

The blast ripped through the 19-kilometer bridge more than seven months into Moscow’s Ukraine offensive. Local officials said later that it had reopened to motor traffic with vehicles subject to stringent screening.  Russia on Monday 10 October,  unleashed a series of aerial strikes on Ukrainian cities, killing at least 19 people and injuring 105 others as per Ukrainian officials. The strikes were reportedly in retaliation to a bomb blast on Saturday that destroyed a part of the Kerch bridge, a vital structure that connects Ukraine to Russia-annexed Crimea. As per reports from Ukrainian officials, explosions were reported in Kyiv, Lviv, Ternopil and Zhytomyr in western Ukraine; Dnipro and Kremenchuk in the centre; Zaporizhzhia in the south; and Kharkiv in the east.  An Al Jazeera journalist in Kyiv said the city was hit by a volley of missiles as people, taken by surprise, took shelter in metro stations and parking garages.(Source: AFP)


Mass drone attacks in Ukraine foreshadow the ‘future of warfare’

‘Kamikaze’ drones are far cheaper than bigger, more sophisticated Western models, so they can be deployed by the dozens and deliver a big scare factor. By Sanjana Varghese | 20 Oct 2022 A little before 7am on Monday 17 October, people in Kyiv heard a whining sound overhead before identifying where it was coming from  a group of “kamikaze” drones  flying into the city.

Drones have been widely used on both sides of the Ukraine conflict but these were the first Russian attacks that deployed swarms of the aircraft. About 28 were launched on Monday 17 October, morning in Kyiv.  At least four civilians were killed after one of the aircraft hit  a residential building. The aircraft are called kamikaze drones because they attack once and don’t come back. Ukrainian officials say the ones primarily being used in their airspace are the Iranian-made Shahed-136. About 2,400 were apparently purchased by Russia in August, and their first reported use in Ukraine was a month ago. They are far from top-end technology. The smallest costs just $20,000 while a traditional drone typically is at least 10 times that figure. They also carry 35 to 40kg (80 to 90 pounds) of explosives, significantly smaller than most drones. But their value is in their numbers. They appear in large swarms and fly low enough to evade radar-defence systems. “They’re relatively small, and they’re single use,” said Katherine Lawlor, a research fellow at the Institute for the Study of War. “They fly into something and then explode.” “It’s important to note that these are not the kinds of drones that you see in other conflicts, such as US Predators, which are far more expensive and sophisticated,” she said. “These drones are effectively missiles  they loiter in place looking for their target.” Their low price means the drones can be deployed in large numbers and they hover before they strike, so they have a psychological effect on civilians as they watch and wait for them to strike.



US: Iranian trainers on the ground help Russia on drone attacks

Friday, October 21, 2022

Ukrainian citizens endured the first day of nationwide scheduled power outages since the war began eight months ago so repairs could be made to damaged or destroyed energy plants as winter approaches. “We can confirm that Russian military personnel based in Crimea have been piloting Iranian UAVs and using them to conduct kinetic strikes across Ukraine, including in strikes against Kiev in recent days,” US State Department spokesperson Ned Price told a daily briefing with reporters, referring to unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he had spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and discussed in detail Kiev’s request for air and missile defence systems and technology. “I informed him (about the) unspeakable suffering, loss of life, and destruction caused by Russian missiles and Iranian-made drones,” he tweeted. Earlier this week, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz denied selling weapons to Ukraine saying “We are not selling weapons to Ukraine,” adding that Tel Aviv had not previously sold arms to Ukraine. Ukraine alleges Russia planting mines at hydroelectric dam President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of planting mines at a hydroelectric dam in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine, which is under the control of Moscow’s forces.

“If the dam is destroyed… the North Crimean canal will simply disappear”, and this would be “a catastrophe on a grand scale”, the Ukraine leader added. Earlier, he told the European Union that “Russia’s leadership has given the order to turn the energy system itself into a battlefield.”

No indications Russia has decided to employ a nuclear weapon, U.S. Official WASHINGTON, Oct 24 (Reuters) – The United States has no indications that Russia has decided to employ a nuclear weapon, biological weapon or chemical weapon, a U.S. military official told reporters on Monday, despite U.S. concerns about false Russian warnings of a Ukrainian dirty bomb plot.

The remarks followed calls between the U.S. defense secretary and his Russian counterpart on Sunday and a call on Monday between the top U.S. and Russian generals (Source: TRTWorld and agencies)


Russia activates DRAGON’S TEETH against Ukraine

What is Dragon’s Teeth military tactic?

Russia activates DRAGON’S TEETH against Ukraine | What is Dragon’s Teeth military tactic?

Russians Are Trying to Create the ‘Dragon’s Teeth’ Anti-Tank Defense Line 20 km Deep Into the Front Line Russian media brag about their defense preparations in the Hirske district in eastern Ukraine, which is somewhat in discord with the “victorious” narratives spread by the Kremlin Russian army is trying to create a long-term defense using a number of special engineering means in the area of Hirske village in the Luhansk region. Moreover, it is alleged that the “Wagner” mercenaries are engaged in the “grand construction”. The video published by the russians was outlined by OSINT researcher Benjamin Pittet who identified the geolocation. The defense line consists of an anti-tank ditch and two rows of anti-tank fortifications, which in the west are called “dragon’s teeth” (Drachenzähne in German) for their characteristic pyramidal shape. But the truth is that according to the instructions, the numbers should have been much larger, both of the teeth in the line and of the total number of such lines. The technology of their installation is also different, because in the “classic” German version, such a concrete pyramid should not just be put on the ground, but is part of a much more complex engineering structure with a concrete “foundation”. This kind of defense also involves planting of anti-tank and anti-personnel mines, installing barbed wire.


Russia says British forces blew up Nord Stream; UK denies claim

British navy personnel planted explosives and blew up the Nord Stream gas pipelines last month, Russia’s defence ministry says, a claim London called false and designed to distract from Moscow’s military failures in Ukraine. Russia did not give evidence for its allegation that a leading NATO member had sabotaged critical Russian infrastructure amid the worst crisis in relations between the West and Moscow since the depths of the Cold War. The Russian ministry alleged “British specialists” from the same unit that directed Ukrainian drone attacks on ships from the Russian Black Sea fleet in Crimea earlier on Saturday were responsible for the Nord Stream pipeline sabotage. “According to available information, representatives of this unit of the British Navy took part in the planning, provision and implementation of a terrorist attack in the Baltic Sea on September 26 this year  blowing up the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines,” the ministry said. The United Kingdom denied the accusation. Pipeline mystery Sweden and Denmark have concluded that four leaks on Nord Stream 1 and 2 were caused by explosions, but have not said who might be responsible. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has called the damage an act of sabotage.(SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES)


China’s GJ  11 stealth drone on display in  Beijing,  ‘capable of seizing air superiority’

By Liu Xuanzun

At a time when China’s latest armed reconnaissance drone, the stealth- Capable GJ-11, is on display at an ongoing expo in Beijing, official media reported  That  the uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) is capable of conducting missions  to size  Air superiority. Military analysts said that while the report  seems counter-intuitive, it might indicate some new  combat concepts. The independently developed GJ-11, currently exhibited at the “Forging Ahead  In  the New Era” show at the Beijing Exhibition Center, is a type of unscrewed  combat  aircraft with high stealth, high penetration and precision strike capabilities, China Central Television (CCTV) reported. Not only can it fly high and fast, it can also carry out missions including offensive air superiority seizing and suppressive air defense operations under high threats and in highly contested environments just like the J-20 stealth fighter jet, CCTV said. This is the first time an official media has revealed that the GJ-11 is capable of seizing air superiority, observers said. It was widely believed that armed reconnaissance drones, including the GJ-11 which has a flying wing aerodynamic design and a top-mounted air inlet design, are not best suited for air superiority missions, which mainly means air-to-air combat, because of their subsonic speed and low maneuverability, but the air superiority seizing ability the GJ-11 is capable of might not be the same concept, said some military experts reached by the Global Times. Since the stealth aircraft can penetrate deep behind hostile air defense, it can conduct precision strike missions on enemy airfields and bases. In this way, the enemy will have to give up air superiority since they have no aircraft in the air in the first place, a Beijing-based military expert who requested anonymity. According to another recent report by CCTV, multiple stealth drones like the GJ-11 could accompany a twin-seat version of the J-20 in a joint mission. In this concept, drones can serve as external missile carriers and fire air-to-air missiles for the J-20 remotely. This is another way the GJ-11 might conduct air superiority missions, experts said.


At least 153 killed in crowd crush during Halloween festivities in Seoul

By: Herb Scribner – Ivana Saric

South Korean officials said on Sunday 30 October, evening that at least 153 people were killed and 133 more were injured during a Halloween event in Seoul, the Associated Press reports. President Yoon Suk-yeol declares state of national mourning after fatal surge in Itaewon nightlife quarter of South Korean capital An estimated 100,000 people had gathered in Itaewon, long a symbol of the capital’s freewheeling nightlife, on Saturday as the end of social distancing, mask mandates and other anti-Covid rules allowed the first Halloween party in three years. The big picture: The horrifying incident appears to be one of the deadliest disasters in South Korea since the Sewol ferry capsized in 2014 and 304 were killed.

How did the crowd surge happen?

The Halloween incident occurred on Saturday 29 October, when a large crowd pushed forward on a small and narrow street during Halloween festivities, officials told AP. The death toll is expected to rise. The surge reportedly happened near the Hamilton Hotel, which is a major party location in the city. Fire authorities told Yonhap News Agency that people suffered from “cardiac arrest” in connection to a Halloween party.

What witnesses saw

A witness wrote on Twitter that the stampede happened when people “kept pushing down” the street, per NYT. “People crushed under the crowd were crying and I thought I would ​be crushed to death too, breathing through a hole and crying for help,” the witness said. (Source: Axios/Aljazeera/CBS/AP)


Hindutva activists call for assassination of Khalistan leader after Interpol setback

TORONTO: Frustrated over Interpol’s denial of India’s request to issue Red Notice  against pro-Khalistan Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun,  the Hindutva followers of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi openly called for  the assassination of Khalistani leader. On Twitter, several high-profile accounts linked with the Hindutva groups, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), called on India’s intelligence agency Research & Analytical Wing (RAW) to assassinate Pannun. In a glaring example of resorting to the use of mercenaries to eliminate political dissent, a Twitter user by the name of Santosh Gavaskar urged India’s National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval to “fin-ish” off Pannun. Pannun is the General Counsel of SFJ and is spearheading the global Khalistan Referendum campaign which has attracted tens of thousands of Sikhs to Khalistan’s cause. The calls to kill the Khalistani leader were made hours after the news was broken in Indian and Paki-stani media that Interpol has rejected the Indian Red Notice request for Pannun. Interpol informed India that they did not provide any evidence to show that the New York attorney was involved in any kind of terrorism or violence. Calls to kill were made by several Hindutva-linked accounts. “Sir, don’t you think India should stop requesting/begging others to take action against people who are waging war against us? Hope some Indian leader develops the spine to use the Israeli model of eliminating its enemies,” said Twitter user Vijay Kumar Jai Shri Ram. The user was responding to former Indian army officer Brigadier V Mahalingham’s tweet regarding the Red Notice. The Hindutva supporters called for the Pannun’s assassination after India suffered a major setback when Interpol rejected its request to issue a Red Notice on terror charges. India had requested Interpol to locate and detain Pannun until his extradition and surrender to India.           (Source: Agencies)


India’s nuclear submarine INS Arihant successfully test-fires missile

The test launch of a ballistic missile from nuclear submarine INS Arihant makes India the sixth country which can conduct nuclear strikes and counterstrikes on land, sea and air. India fired a ballistic missile from its first nuclear submarine INS Arihant, with the projectile hitting the target area in the Bay of Bengal with very high accuracy, the Indian defense ministry said. The successful launch of the Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) by INS Arihant is ”significant to prove crew competency and validate” ballistic missiles which is ”a key element of India’s nuclear deterrence capability,” the defense added. The launch makes India the sixth country which can conduct nuclear strikes and counterstrikes on land, sea and air. The other countries with such capabilities are the US, Russia, the UK, France and China. (Source: AFP, DPA)


India to build strategic Mega  ‘Deesa Airbase’  near Pakistan Border New airbase will be crucial for country’s security: PM Modi

(Oct 19, 2022) Speaking at the Defence Expo 2022 in Gandhinagar, PM said that defence forces will release a list of 101 more items that cannot be imported Gandhinagar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of a new forward Deesa airbase in north Gujarat near the India-Pakistan border and asserted that now India is better prepared to respond to any misadventure on the western borders. After inaugurating the DefExpo 2022 in Gandhinagar, Mr Modi released the fourth negative list under which, starting December, imports of 101 defence items, including next generation frigates, bullet proof security vehicles for the air force, mine countermeasure vessels, and automatic missile detection radar for ships, among others, will be progressively barred. After the release of the fourth negative list, there are now 411 defence equipments, which can only be bought under the “Make in India” category. (Source: Asia Age)


India’s Congress elects its first non-Gandhi head in over two decades

Mallikarjun Kharge, a former railways and labour minister who is from the low-caste Dalit community, was born five years before independence and is widely believed to have the backing of both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. India’s Congress party has appointed an octogenarian ex-minister as its first president in 24 years not from the Gandhi dynasty, in an effort to reverse its apparent decline into political oblivion. Mallikarjun Kharge, 80, was elected  by members to replace Sonia Gandhi as president of the once-mighty party that helped win India’s independence from Britain 75 years ago. Kharge, a former railways and labour minister who is from the low-caste Dalit community, was born five years before independence and is widely believed to have the backing of both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. Rahul Gandhi said that Kharge is now the supreme authority in the party and that he “will decide my role in the party”. But despite stepping back, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are expected to continue pulling the strings from behind the scenes. (Source: TRTWorld and agencies)


Suspension bridge collapse kills at least 132 in India


The 230-metre bridge was built during British rule in the 19th century and was recently reopened to the public after renovations. At least 177 survivors were pulled from the river and teams from the army, navy and air force were looking for others still missing, said Jigar Khunt, an information department official in Gujarat said. Live video reports showed hundreds of others desperately clinging to the broken structure and trying to make their way to safety, as crowds onshore shouted or swam to try to rescue who had fallen in. Authorities said the 19th-century, colonial-era pedestrian bridge over the Machchu river in the state’s Morbi district collapsed because it could not handle the weight of the large crowd, as the Hindu festival season drew hundreds of sightseers to the recently opened tourist attraction. Security footage of the disaster showed the suspension bridge shaking violently and people trying to hold on to its cables and green-colored metal netting before the walkway gave way and crashed into the river.


India rocket puts 36 internet satellites into orbit

India’s space agency says its rocket has successfully put 36 internet satellites into orbit for UK-based satellite company OneWeb after months of delay due to the war in Ukraine. The mission  part of a commercial arrangement between New Space India Limited, a government-run firm, and OneWeb  was announced successful by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). “This is the first-ever commercial launch of the new rocket LVM3 [Launch Vehicle Mark 3],” ISRO Chairman Sreedhara Panicker Somanath said as liftoff took place at 12:07am from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh.  This 14th launch of OneWeb satellites relied on India’s heaviest rocket, normally reserved for government spacecraft. OneWeb launched its first satellite in 2019. It was the first launch for OneWeb since breaking with the Russian Space Agency in March because of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.  (SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES)


Two Rohingya camp leaders killed in Bangladesh

(16 Oct 2022) A mob of a dozen people hacked to death two Rohingya community leaders in Bangladesh as security worsens in camps housing almost one million refugees. Police spokesman  said the Rohingya leaders were killed late on Saturday 15 October,  at Camp 13, calling it one of the worst attacks in recent months. “More than a dozen Rohingya miscreants hacked Maulvi Mohammad Yunus, 38, who is the head majhi of Camp 13. They also killed Mohammad Anwar, 38, another majhi. Yunus died on the spot and Anwar died at a hospital,” said Ahmed. “Majhi” is a term for a Rohingya camp leader. A senior officer of an elite police unit tasked with security in the camps blamed the killings on the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), an armed group fighting the military in Myanmar. “These are targeted killings by ARSA. The internal clashes in Myanmar are impacting the security situation in the camps,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The squalid settlements have seen escalating violence in recent months, with gangs trying to assert control over drug trafficking and intimidate the refugees’ civilian leadership through killings and abductions. (SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES)


Somalia: At least 100 killed, 300 hurt in ‘heinous’ Mogadishu car bombings

(Saturday: 29 Oct 2022)

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud,  blamed the al-Shabab armed group for the attacks and told reporters that he expected the death toll from the twin blasts to rise further. Authorities said the attack on Saturday 29 Oct., targeted the Somali education ministry and a school and took place at the busy Sobe intersection. Sadiq Doodishe, a police spokesperson, told reporters that women, children and the elderly had been killed in the attack. State news agency SONNA said independent journalist Mohamed Isse Kona was also killed. A Reuters journalist near the blast site said the two explosions occurred within minutes of each other and smashed windows in the vicinity. Blood from victims of the blasts covered the tarmac just outside the building, he said. (SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES)


Russia war in Ukraine pushes 4 million children into poverty: UN

(17 Oct 2022) Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and rising inflation have pushed some four million children into poverty across Eastern Europe and Central Asia, according to the United Nations children agency. “Children are bearing the heaviest burden of the economic crisis caused by the war in Ukraine,” UNICEF said. The conflict “and rising inflation have driven an additional four million children across Eastern Europe and Central Asia into poverty, a 19 percent increase since 2021”, it said. UNICEF drew its conclusions from a study of data from 22 countries. Russian and Ukrainian children have been most affected since Moscow attacked its neighbour in February. “Russia accounts for nearly three-quarters of the total increase in the number of children living in poverty due to the Ukraine war and a cost-of-living crisis across the region, with an additional 2.8 million children now living in households below the poverty line,” UNICEF found. The blow to Russia’s economy from Western sanctions has combined with its large population to produce the outsize effect. “Ukraine is home to half a million additional children living in poverty, the second largest share,” UNICEF added. Romania followed closely behind, with a further 110,000 children living in poverty. SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES


Years of war cause explosion of mental illness in Yemen

The war-torn country, with around 30 million people, had just 59 psychiatrists in 2020 which means one for every half a million people, according to health ministry figures. Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychosis: Yemen’s seven years of brutal civil war have caused an explosion of mental illness overwhelming the basic health care services. “We try to provide treatment, but we cannot treat everyone”, said Adel Melhi, director of a psychiatric hospital in the rebel-blockaded city of Taez. Yemen, with around 30 million people, had just 59 psychiatrists in 2020  or one for every half a million people  according to health ministry figures. Add in therapists, caregivers and nurses, and the number of professionals dedicated to mental health rises to 300, divided across seven hospitals. The authorities have not published any recent data on mental illness in Yemen, long the Arab peninsula’s poorest country.  The United Nations, in a report this year, said the number could now be even higher because of the additional strain of the Covid pandemic and the “continuing toll of the conflict”.  (Source: AFP)


Netanyahu and far right allies win Israeli election Benjamin Netanyahu wins majority in Israeli election

(November 3, 2022) Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has secured a majority of parliamentary seats in the country’s fifth election in four years.  Netanyahu and his right-wing allies won a total of 64 seats of parliament’s 120 seats. His own Likud party won 32 seats, while ultra-Orthodox parties secured 18 seats, and a far-right alliance won 14 seats, the Israeli electoral commission said. It means that the country’s longest-serving prime minister will reenter office at the head of what many expect will be the most right-wing government in Israel’s 74-year-history. Caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid, possibly Netanyahu’s staunchest rival in the election, congratulated him and instructed his staff to prepare an organized transition of power. Netanyahu’s outright majority is projected to end a turbulent era in Israeli politics. However, the 73-year-old Netanyahu still faces charges of corruption, which he has consistently denied.  (Source:AFP, AP, Reuters)


World ‘holding breath’ over possible N Korea nuclear test: IAEA

(28 Oct 2022) Officials in the United States and South Korea have warned for months that Pyongyang is preparing for a nuclear test after a five-year suspension  a move that would signal North Korea speeding ahead with the development of advanced weapons capabilities. “Everybody is holding its breath about this, because another nuclear test would be yet another confirmation of a program which is moving full steam ahead, in a way that is incredibly, incredibly concerning,” IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi sai. “Further tests, of course, means that they are refining the preparations and the construction of their arsenal,” Grossi told reporters. “So we are following this very, very closely. We hope it doesn’t happen, but indications unfortunately go in another direction,” he said. Fears of a North Korean nuclear bomb test  which would be their first detonation of a device since 2017  follow Pyongyang’s recently demonstrated range of short- and long-range ballistic missile capabilities, which have left neighbours South Korea and Japan deeply concerned about North Korea’s intentions. The IAEA’s Grossi said he did not think a North Korea test was immediately imminent. “We see preparation, we see lots of things, but in terms of degrees of imminency, no,” he said in response to a question.In a new assessment of US defence needs and priorities released, the Pentagon said a nuclear attack by North Korea on Washington’s interests or allies would lead to the “end” of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s regime. “Our strategy for North Korea recognizes the threat posed by its nuclear, chemical, missile, and conventional capabilities, and in particular the need to make clear to the Kim regime the dire consequences should it use nuclear weapons,” the US’s Nuclear Posture Review 2022 states.


North Korea covertly shipping artillery shells to Russia, US says

(2 Nov 2022) The United States has accused North Korea of supplying Russia with a “significant” number of artillery shells to be used in Ukraine, as Moscow increasingly looks to allies for help with the war effort. US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that the alleged North Korean weapon shipments are unlikely to change the course of the conflict, stressing Western efforts to support the Ukrainian military. “Our indications are that the DPRK is covertly supplying, and we are going to monitor to see whether the shipments are received,” Kirby told reporters, referring to North Korea by the acronym of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. He did not share details about the mode of transportation or whether the US would attempt to interdict the shipments to Russia.

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