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Police dismantle kidnappers' gang in Afghanistan's Helmand

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Police dismantle kidnappers' gang in Afghanistan's Helmand

Kabul, July 11 (IANS) Afghan police have dismantled a gang of kidnappers in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province, state-run Bakhtar News Agency reported Thursday.

The kidnappers were attempting to abduct a resident of Lashkar Gah city, the capital of the province, when police stormed a location and rescued the kidnapped person, the source said.

In addition, over the past 24 hours police apprehended 23 people allegedly involved in criminal activities in the provinces of Helmand, Kunar, Samangan, Balkh, and Panjshir, the Ministry of Interior Affairs said in a statement.

Most of the detainees were involved in murder and theft cases, said the statement, reported Xinhua news agency.

Afghan caretaker government has vowed to crack down on criminal elements to ensure law and order in the war-ravaged Asian country.

–IANS

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Kamala Harris secures majority of delegates, Trump campaign targets her on 'border invasion'

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Kamala Harris secures majority of delegates, Trump campaign targets her on 'border invasion'

Kamala Harris secures majority of delegates, Trump campaign targets her on 'border invasion'

Washington, July 23 (IANS) US Vice-President Kamala Harris has secured the support of the majority of Democratic delegates who will formally elect her as the party’s nominee for president at the convention in August as the Trump campaign prepared to hold her responsible for the “border invasion” and J.D. Vance slammed the Democratic party ticket switch as a threat to democracy in his first solo speech as the Republican nominee for Vice-President.

Harris surpassed the mark of 1,976 delegates needed to win the nomination reflecting the overwhelming support she is getting from the Democratic party, which is rapidly coalescing around her candidacy from the level of leaders down to the rank and file members.

She has no challengers so far.

The party plans to lock up the process through virtual polling before the start of the convention on August 19.

“When I announced my campaign for President, I said I intended to go out and earn this nomination,” Harris said in a statement late Monday.

“Tonight, I am proud to have secured the broad support needed to become our party’s nominee, and as a daughter of California, I am proud that my home state’s delegation helped put our campaign over the top. I look forward to formally accepting the nomination soon.”

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She added: “Over the next few months, I will be travelling across the country talking to Americans about everything that is on the line. I fully intend to unite our party, unite our nation, and defeat Donald Trump in November.”

Although the presidential election takes place on November 4, early polling is scheduled to start in September, just a few weeks after the four-day Democratic convention closes in Chicago, Illinois on August 22. Democratic voters tend to vote early either through in-person voting at early booths or through mail and drop boxes. Republicans have historically voted on election day, but that is changing.

The Democratic party has been galvanised by Harris’ elevation to the top of the ticket and the cloud of doom that hung over the party since Biden’s disastrous performance in the first presidential debate against former President Donald Trump had lifted, giving way to new energy. Donations are pouring in with the Harris campaign reporting raising an unprecedented $81 million in the first 24 hours since Harris became the nominee.

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Harris’s ascendancy has been watched closely by the Trump campaign, which would have preferred a weakened Biden. In a memo to campaign staff, Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles, who are running the Trump campaign, said: “Just as Donald Trump fired Joe Biden, he will demonstrate to the world he can fire Dangerously liberal Kamala as well.”

The campaign will tie her to the Biden administration’s failures, chiefly the surge of undocumented migrants coming through the southern border.

“Border Czar Kamala Harris owns the border invasion, which has resulted in nearly 100 terrorists roaming the United States, hundreds of thousands of American dead due to Fentanyl, a child trafficking epidemic resulting in killings and kidnappings, a spread of a new type of crime, a crime directly linked to Harris’ own beliefs, and backed by her actions, released migrants who prey and kill innocent Americans,” LaCivita and Wiles said in the memo.

Vance, the Vice-President candidate, made his solo debut at an election rally in home state Ohio. “Now history will remember Joe Biden as not just a quitter, which he is, but one of the worst Presidents of the United States of America,” he said, adding, “But my friends, Kamala Harris is a million times worse and everybody knows it.”

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He also accused Harris of hiding from public Biden’s health, a claim first advanced by Trump. Vance also slammed the Democratic party for switching its nominee for president midstream. “That is not how it works. That is a threat to democracy, not the Republican Party, which is fighting for democracy every single day,” Vance said from the auditorium of his high school in his hometown Middletown, Ohio.

“This is not OK.”

–IANS

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EAM Jaishankar to attend key ASEAN, Quad Foreign Ministers' meeting

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EAM Jaishankar to attend key ASEAN, Quad Foreign Ministers' meeting

EAM Jaishankar to attend key ASEAN, Quad Foreign Ministers' meeting

New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar is expected to hold significant discussions with his counterparts from several Southeast nations besides foreign ministers of Australia, Japan and the United States, over the next few days at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ gathering in the Laotian capital of Vientiane and the Quad Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Tokyo.

The EAM will be in Laos from July 25-27 to participate in the Foreign Ministers’ Meetings under the ASEAN framework in the format of ASEAN-India, East Asia Summit(EAS) and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).

The 57th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) will be attended by over 1000 delegates, including foreign ministers and representatives from 31 countries.

ASEAN countries remain an important pillar of India’s ‘Act East’ policy and key partner of its Indo-Pacific Vision underlined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) vision.

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As many as 25 ministerial meetings are being hosted by Laos in its capacity as 2024 ASEAN Chair under the theme of ‘ASEAN: Enhancing Connectivity and Resilience’ from July 22 to 27.

“The visit underlines India’s deep engagement with and the importance India attaches to the ASEAN-centred regional architecture, our strong commitment to ASEAN unity, ASEAN centrality, the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and taking forward the ASEAN-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement on Tuesday.

“It is of particular significance that this year marks a decade of India’s Act East Policy which was announced by Prime Minister at the 9th East Asia Summit in 2014,” it added.

In Vientiane, EAM Jaishankar will not only be holding bilateral meetings with Saleumxay Kommasith, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Laos, but also with his counterparts from other countries on the margins of the ASEAN-related meetings.

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The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, UK Foreign Secretary David Lammy and foreign ministers of several other countries will also be in Vientiane for the Asean meetings.

From Laos, the EAM will travel to Tokyo to participate in the next meeting of the Quad Foreign Ministers’ on July 29 along with the Foreign Ministers of Australia, and the United States.

“The Ministers will take forward discussions held during the last meeting in New York in September 2023 and exchange views on developments in the Indo-Pacific region, and review progress on Quad initiatives and working groups,” the MEA stated.

“The Ministers would discuss regional and international issues, and guide future collaboration to achieve the shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region by addressing contemporary priorities of the region through delivery of public goods,” it ministry detailed.

During the Tokyo visit, EAM Jaishankar is also scheduled to hold discussions with his Japanese counterpart Yoko Kamikawa to further strengthen the growing partnership between the two countries.

ALSO READ:  Blinken arrives in Israel to push for Gaza truce deal

–IANS

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South Korea's People Power Party elects new leader

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South Korea's People Power Party elects new leader

South Korea's People Power Party elects new leader

Seoul, July 23 (IANS) Han Dong-hoon, a former interim leader of the ruling People Power Party (PPP), was elected as new head of the embattled party without a runoff Tuesday as he won a majority of votes in the heated race.

Han won a whopping 62.8 per cent of the vote against runner-up former Land Minister Won Hee-ryong’s 18.8 per cent. Five-term lawmakers Representative Na Kyung-won and Representative Yoon Sang-hyun won 14.6 per cent and 3.7 per cent, respectively, Yonhap news agency reported.

Han’s win with a majority of the vote makes a runoff unnecessary.

President Yoon Suk Yeol showed up at the national convention held at the KINTEX exhibition center in Goyang, northwest of Seoul, for the second consecutive year. Last year marked the first time in seven years that the president had attended a national convention of the ruling party since former President Park Geun-hye did so in 2016.

The party convention comes nearly three months after Han resigned following the party’s crushing defeat in April’s parliamentary elections to take responsibility for the defeat.

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His election raises questions about how the party’s relations with President Yoon will go.

Han, a former justice minister who had been considered a close ally of President Yoon Suk Yeol, had clashed with Yoon over a number of politically sensitive issues in the run-up to the general elections, including how to handle allegations that first lady Kim Keon Hee received a luxury bag as a gift in 2022.

Tensions between Han and Yoon’s office resurfaced this month over allegations Han snubbed text messages from the first lady early this year. Han reportedly ignored five Telegram messages Kim sent to him in January to offer to resolve a controversy at the time over her alleged illegal acceptance of a luxury bag in 2022.

Declaring his bid last month, Han vowed to “reestablish” the PPP’s relations with the government more “horizontally,” saying the party has so far been unable to voice reasonable criticism of the government’s policy directions or political decisions.

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During the convention, Yoon stressed the need for unity between the government and the PPP to push forward major agenda items despite challenges from the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

“The large opposition party is ignoring urgent livelihood issues and pressing economic policies, instead focusing on political strife. Although the 22nd National Assembly began two months ago, it effectively remains idle,” Yoon said in an address. “To overcome the situation, we need unified strength.”

The DP, which has a controlling majority of 170 seats in the 300-member Assembly, railroaded a contentious bill mandating a special counsel investigation into the military’s response to a Marine’s death, which was once again vetoed by Yoon earlier this month.

Tuesday’s election will fill a seven-month vacuum in the PPP’s formal leadership since Kim Gi-hyeon stepped down in December 2023. The ruling party has been led by an emergency committee since August 2022 after former party chairman Lee Jun-seok was removed as leader.

ALSO READ:  Pakistan preparing to send back nearly 1 million Afghans in repatriation drive

The PPP earlier revised its party rules to include public opinion polls in the election based on a weight of 20 per cent public opinion poll results and 80 per cent ballots cast by party members as part of efforts to better reflect public views after its bitter defeat in April.

–IANS

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Death toll in Ethiopian landslide rises to 157 (Ld)

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Death toll in Ethiopian landslide rises to 157 (Ld)

Death toll in Ethiopian landslide rises to 157 (Ld)

Addis Ababa, July 23 (IANS) A landslide in southern Ethiopia has claimed more than 157 lives, the local government said on Tuesday.

The landslide occurred on Monday in southern Ethiopia’s Geze Gofa district, Xinhua news agency reported.

The local community is currently working to save the lives of the injured and provide shelter and food to the victims, the Gofa Zone Government Communication Affairs Department said in a statement.

The death toll has increased due to additional accidents involving people who went to the area for life-saving work. Some teachers, health workers, and agriculture professionals who were present for the rescue work have become victims of the accident, the local government said.

Ethiopian Red Cross Association and professionals from the neighbouring regions and zones are at the site helping the victims.

The local government has called on all Ethiopians to provide support and attention needed to the zone for further rescue efforts.

ALSO READ:  Israeli leaders thank Biden for 'steadfast support' after he quits presidential race

–IANS

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Noose tightens around Imran Khan's PTI for spreading 'digital terrorism'

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Noose tightens around Imran Khan's PTI for spreading 'digital terrorism'

Noose tightens around Imran Khan's PTI for spreading 'digital terrorism'

Islamabad, July 23 (IANS) The ruling Shehbaz Sharif government and the military establishment could further tighten its grip on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) after police authorities raided the party’s central office in Islamabad and arrested its information secretary Raoof Hasan, on Monday.

Reliable sources told IANS that more arrests of PTI leaders and workers are in the pipeline on charges of spreading “digital terrorism, false propaganda and use of social media through fake accounts”.

People privy to information about the upcoming crackdown against PTI’s social media wing, said that there is a long list of identified leaders and workers of PTI, who have been using their mobile phones, party office and the internet to run social media trends against the Pakistani armed forces, the newly launched counter-terrorism operation ‘Azm-e-Istehkam’, and General Syed Asim Munir, the chief of the Pakistan army.

“There are credible pieces of information and intercepts that confirm that PTI leaders and their members, who sit in their party offices, create false, fake narratives and share them with the PTI social media team abroad to run deprecating trends and campaigns on social media platforms against the Pakistan armed forces,” said the source.

ALSO READ:  Imran to decide next PM of Pakistan: PTI Chairman

“The malicious propaganda campaigns are then run by the PTI social media team abroad. The recent raid and arrests of PTI leaders and confiscation of their electronic items, including computers, was done after getting evidence of the fake, propagated and concocted information being shared by them regularly to target Pakistan’s military establishment,” the source added.

The sources believe that Monday’s raid and arrest is just the start of a focused campaign against PTI leaders, workers and supporters of Imran Khan and PTI.

“This is exactly what digital terrorism is and PTI social media is at the forefront of it. Their social media teams operate from outside Pakistan and indulge in the spreading of fake narratives. Most of them have fake IDs and faceless social media accounts,” the source mentioned.

PTI founder Imran Khan, already in jail and facing several cases, continues to target General Munir, the military establishment and the ruling government.

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In a recent statement given from Adiala Jail, Khan confessed that he had last year given a call for a protest outside the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi in the event of him getting arrested but did not tell his supporters to get violent or attack the military headquarters.

“I only called for a peaceful protest outside the GHQ Rawalpindi,” he said.

Imran Khan’s statement is expected to massively help the ruling government which is trying to initiate proceedings against the PTI, eventually ban the party and book Khan on charges of high treason.

The government has already slammed Khan and PTI for being involved in anti-state activities.

–IANS

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