Syria denies holding US journalist Austin Tice captive | Media News

Syria has denied kidnapping or holding captive US journalist Austin Tice, who disappeared 10 years in the past close to Damascus.

The Syrian authorities has denied holding any American nationals captive, together with journalist Austin Tice who was kidnapped 10 years in the past close to the capital Damascus.

Syria’s international ministry issued a press release on Wednesday in response to United States President Joe Biden’s claims final week that he knew “with certainty” that Tice “has been held by the Syrian regime”, and referred to as on Damascus to assist deliver him house.

The international ministry denied Biden’s accusation, describing it as “baseless allegations”.

“The Syrian Arab Republic denies that it has kidnapped or forcibly disappeared any American citizen who entered its territory or resided in areas below its authority,” the assertion stated.

The ministry additionally stated that the US had violated consular and diplomatic relations by encouraging US residents to enter Syria with out permission, and that Damascus would solely settle for “official dialogue or communication with the American administration if the talks are public and premised on a respect for Syria’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity”.

A #BringAustinHome sign is seen at Washington Post building
A #BringAustinHome” banner, honouring freelance journalist Austin Tice who was kidnapped in Syria in 2012, hangs outdoors of The Washington Submit headquarters in Washington, DC, on August 9, 2022 [Sarah Silbiger/Reuters]

Tice, a former Marine, was a contract photojournalist working for Agence France-Presse, McClatchy Information, The Washington Submit, CBS and different information organisations when he disappeared after being detained at a checkpoint close to Damascus on August 14, 2012.

He was aged 31 on the time he went lacking. He later appeared blindfolded within the custody of an unidentified group of armed males in a video launched a month later however there was little information of him since.

Biden’s assertion on his whereabouts got here on the tenth anniversary of Tice’s disappearance.

“There is no such thing as a larger precedence in my administration than the restoration and return of Individuals held hostage or wrongfully detained overseas,” Biden stated.

The earlier US administration below former US President Donald Trump despatched a White Home official on a uncommon mission to Damascus in 2020, aiming to hunt Tice’s freedom. That mission yielded no seen outcomes.

In 2018, US authorities introduced a $1m reward for info that may result in the journalist’s restoration.

Syria denies secret talks

Washington suspended its diplomatic presence in Syria in 2012 on the onset of the nation’s civil battle.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated Biden’s particular envoy for hostage affairs, Roger Carstens, would “proceed to have interaction with the Syrian authorities” in coordination with the White Home.

State Division Spokesman Ned Worth advised reporters on Tuesday that the US authorities has pushed Syria to return each American citizen.

On Tice’s case particularly, he stated, the Biden administration has “engaged extensively – and that features straight – with Syrian officers and thru third events”.

“Syria has by no means acknowledged holding him,” Worth stated of the journalist, including that “we aren’t going to be deterred in our efforts. We’re going to pursue each avenue for securing Austin’s secure return”.

The Syrian international ministry denied in its assertion having any secret contacts with US officers on the lacking Individuals, including that “any official dialogue with the American authorities will solely be public primarily based on the respect of Syria’s sovereignty”.

Tice is considered one of two Individuals who went lacking in Syria. The opposite is Majd Kamalmaz, a psychologist from Virginia, who vanished in Syria in 2017.

Walmart earnings boosted as discounts draw inflation-hit shoppers | Business and Economy News

The mega-retailer’s stock grew by 25 p.c on the finish of the second quarter from a yr earlier to $59.9bn.

Walmart barely raised its annual revenue forecast on Tuesday, partially reversing a big lower from lower than a month earlier, as reductions to take away extra stock and diminished petrol costs helped the mega-retailer surpass quarterly gross sales projections.

The inventory elevated 5.2 p.c when the New York Inventory Trade opened Tuesday morning. Shares of competing retailers Goal, Costco, and Finest Purchase rose, as nicely.

Final month, Walmart shares dropped almost 9 p.c after the corporate minimize its revenue outlook for the second quarter and the complete yr, underscoring that rising costs for meals and petrol are forcing customers to chop again on objects comparable to clothes that carry increased revenue margins.

Walmart had not too long ago made steep worth cuts on objects comparable to attire to attempt to cut back greater than $61bn price of stock it had on the finish of the primary quarter.

Different main US retailers comparable to Goal and Finest Purchase have additionally reported discovering challenges in shifting extra merchandise.

Walmart reported inventories of $59.92bn on the finish of the second quarter on July 31. That was 25 p.c above final yr’s ranges.

“I believe it’s going to take one other quarter, possibly get into the fourth quarter a bit of bit, to get again to the place we wish to be from an general stock perspective,” Walmart’s chief monetary officer John David Rainey mentioned.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer’s customers are persevering with their buying patterns of shopping for cheaper meals over basic merchandise, regardless of an easing in fuel costs, Rainey added.

“As an alternative of shopping for possibly deli meats or beef, they’re buying and selling right down to issues like canned tuna, rooster and, even, beans. We’re seeing the identical factor within the amount, the place they’re buying and selling down for smaller pack sizes which might be extra reasonably priced. So as a substitute of shopping for 12 objects to purchase six objects in a pack,” he mentioned.

Walmart has fallen more than a consumer-staples index this year

House, electronics and attire are nonetheless “problematic” classes, Rainey mentioned.

Again-to-school buying gave Walmart’s gross sales a lift on the finish of final month. However many dad and mom selected to purchase college provides fairly than clothes, Rainey mentioned, including that he believed that back-to-school attire gross sales ought to get a lift within the subsequent few weeks.

Costs customers pay for items and companies have additionally proven indicators of easing in current weeks. The buyer worth index rose 8.5 p.c in July, lower than the 9.1 p.c studying in June, due largely to a steep drop in petrol costs.

The drop in costs has helped to drive a 6.5 p.c rise in gross sales at Walmart’s shops in the USA which were open for not less than a yr, beating its prior forecast for a 6 p.c achieve.

Complete income rose 8.4 p.c to $152.86bn within the second quarter. However reductions on discretionary merchandise, slowing demand for objects comparable to home equipment, electronics and garments, and the rising value of labour led to a 6.8 p.c drop within the firm’s quarterly working earnings to $6.85bn.

Identical-store gross sales for Walmart US are anticipated to rise 3 p.c, the corporate mentioned.

China imposes sanctions on seven Taiwan ‘secessionist’ officials | Politics News

Beijing accuses the group of pushing independence for the island it claims as its personal.

China has mentioned it’s blacklisting seven Taiwan officers over their alleged help for the self-ruled island’s independence.

The group can be banned from getting into mainland China and the territories of Hong Kong and Macau, and restricted from working with Chinese language officers, state information company Xinhua mentioned, citing a spokesperson from the Taiwan Work Workplace of the ruling Communist Celebration.

The seven officers focused by Beijing embrace Bi-khim Hsiao, Taiwan’s consultant in the US.

Xinhua mentioned the “punitive measures” had been essential to “safeguard the peaceable improvement of the cross-Strait relations and the quick pursuits of the folks on each side of the Strait”.

The Communist Celebration’s International Instances tabloid described them as “diehard secessionists”.

Beijing claims Taiwan as its personal and has not dominated out using power to take management of the territory.

It has stepped up stress on the island because the go to earlier this month of United States Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi, conducting a number of days of warfare video games across the island and withdrawing cooperation with the US in various areas, together with local weather.

The navy continued the workout routines on Monday, as a bunch of US legislators visited Taipei and had been resulting from meet Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.

Whereas it maintains diplomatic relations with Beijing, the US is Taiwan’s largest supporter and is certain by regulation to supply the island with the means to defend itself.

Afghan refugees struggle to adjust to life in the US | Refugees News

San Jose, California, United States – Zainab, an adolescent from Afghanistan who has lived in a cramped California motel room together with her household for practically a 12 months, nonetheless has scars on her wrist from the shattered glass of a suicide bombing.

She and her sister, Zahra, try to rapidly be taught English to allow them to discover work and assist their household cowl the sky-high value of lease in San Jose.

“I’ve no alternative however to assist my household,” Zahra stated by way of a translator contained in the household’s price range motel room, stuffed with the aroma of cooked rice and strewn with stuffed animals and English grammar textbooks. The household spoke with Al Jazeera on the situation that their final title could be withheld.

Zahra’s 21-year-old brother, who the Taliban beat as he tried to enter the Kabul airport, stays trapped in Afghanistan.

“I’ve been crying for a 12 months,” stated their mom, Amina. “What is going to occur to my son? Will the Taliban kill him? I simply need my son again.”

For Afghan households who’ve been resettled in the USA for the reason that administration of President Joe Biden pulled army forces from Afghanistan final August, it has not been simple adjusting to life in a brand new nation. The duties pile up: trying to find work, finding out English, researching long-term immigration pathways, memorising native bus routes.

For a lot of households, these difficulties are compounded by trauma from years of battle, together with anxieties over family members nonetheless in Afghanistan. However the prospects for reunion are daunting: In keeping with US Citizenship and Immigration Providers, of practically 50,000 Afghans who’ve utilized for humanitarian parole since July 2021, 369 have been accepted and about 8,000 rejected, with the remainder nonetheless awaiting a response as of July 28.

Walid Aziz, an Afghan who resettled within the US a number of years in the past, lately acquired information that his father’s software was denied. “I’ve very excessive nervousness; my household is at risk,” Aziz, who labored as a contractor for the US Embassy in Kabul, advised Al Jazeera. “I served the US authorities. I don’t know why my father shouldn’t be right here.”

‘One disaster after one other’

Regardless of their ongoing trauma, Afghan households who’ve relocated to the US have little alternative however to press ahead with the lengthy checklist of challenges that include resettlement.

Sensible considerations, corresponding to transportation and communication, could make on a regular basis duties sophisticated and irritating – particularly people who contain navigating US paperwork, corresponding to signing up for healthcare. In California’s Bay Space, the place jobs that pay sufficient to fulfill the astronomical prices of residing are arduous to come back by, many fear about their means to make ends meet.

“Lots of households are nonetheless in non permanent housing, as a result of lease is so costly,” Zuhal Bahaduri, who assists households by way of the neighborhood organisation 5ive Pillars, advised Al Jazeera. “It’s one disaster after one other for these households. Leaving Afghanistan was solely half the battle.”

On the identical motel the place Zahra’s household is staying, Saliha, who spoke given that her final title be withheld, says she has not seen her husband of greater than 40 years for practically a 12 months. He was injured within the chaos on the Kabul airport and couldn’t make it by way of the group.

She has now lived on this motel for seven months together with her daughter and son-in-law, questioning what the longer term holds. “I simply wish to reunite with my husband. He’s my every little thing,” she advised Al Jazeera. “I want he was right here with me, so we might construct a greater life collectively.”

Saliha
Saliha has been lacking her husband of greater than 4 a long time, who she has not seen since she left Afghanistan [Brian Osgood/Al Jazeera]

In a room down the corridor, Zarghon holds her six-year-old stepdaughter, Marwa, wearing a butterfly T-shirt and pants with pink-and-white flowers. Marwa’s father remains to be trapped in Afghanistan.

“Her first day of faculty was very troublesome, as a result of when her mother dropped her off, she grew to become scared she wouldn’t come again,” Zarghon advised Al Jazeera, talking given that her final title be withheld. “However her classmates have been very good, and her lecturers have helped her get new garments. She likes to attract photos of her father.”

Though some kinfolk are nonetheless residing on the motel, Zarghon and 5 members of her household have been finally in a position to transfer right into a three-bedroom condo that prices about $3,300 a month. They at present obtain rental help, and are incrementally paying bigger parts earlier than the complete value kicks in after six months. They’re blissful to have a spot to reside, however fear about discovering jobs to cowl lease as soon as the help lapses.

Asifa – who escaped Kabul on the identical day {that a} suicide bomber killed about 170 Afghans and greater than a dozen US service members exterior town’s airport, and who additionally requested that her final title be withheld – can also be anxious. She acquired a housing supply for her husband and two of her kids, however turned it down as a result of she didn’t wish to go away her daughter-in-law alone within the motel.

“She was very eloquent, however after the Taliban took over she stopped talking for a number of months,” Asifa advised Al Jazeera. “Generally she has fainting assaults a number of instances per week.”

Overburdened system

A community of resettlement teams and neighborhood organisations are serving to these households, however they’re stretched to their limits, attempting to fill gaps after assets for refugees have been hollowed out in the course of the administration of former US President Donald Trump. 5ive Pillars, which provides help to most of the households on the resort, was based within the aftermath of the autumn of Kabul.

Many neighborhood organisations and Afghan American volunteers, who assist with every little thing from meals to authorized help, are feeling strained and burned out – not solely from the overwhelming calls for, but in addition from the emotional nature of the work.

A few of these volunteers have their very own painful household histories, which they’re now seeing repeated among the many latest spherical of refugees from a rustic that has been devastated by warfare and hardship for many years.

Arash Azizzada, co-founder of the progressive diaspora group Afghans For A Higher Tomorrow, advised Al Jazeera that state and federal governments have left “Afghan neighborhood organisations to choose up the items, most of that are underfunded, under-resourced, and on the verge of burnout”.

On the identical time, many resettled Afghans are keenly conscious that below humanitarian parole, which permits them solely non permanent refuge, they need to get onto a extra secure immigration pathway inside two years of coming into the nation, or threat dropping the work authorisation advantages that include parole.

“We’re attempting to put individuals in good-paying jobs, but when they don’t have extra everlasting authorized standing, every little thing is unsure,” Yalda Afif, programme supervisor for the refugee help organisation HIAS, advised Al Jazeera.

With loads of obstacles forward, some households nonetheless maintain out hope that they’ll finally be capable of construct a greater life within the US.

“We’re grateful to be someplace safe,” Asifa stated. “However on the identical time, our hearts are damaged.”

Farrah Omar assisted with translation for this story. She is a contract media interpreter primarily based in California and speaks Farsi and Dari.

Sri Lankans make crypto Ponzi scam claims | Business and Economy News

Colombo, Sri Lanka–When 37-year-old Harshana Pathirana stop his job within the resort sector, bought his automotive and invested in what he believed was a cryptocurrency, he dreamed of constructing a fortune, particularly because the financial system round him cratered.

Greater than a 12 months later, with the tourism sector battered within the face of Sri Lanka’s worst financial disaster, Pathirana is unemployed and has misplaced all his funding.

“I invested 2.2 million Sri Lankan rupees ($6,162) and was promised a 5 instances increased return. However I solely obtained about 200,000 Sri Lankan rupees ($560.20),” Pathirana informed Al Jazeera. “I misplaced every part.”

Pathirana’s identify has been modified to guard his id as his household is unaware that he has misplaced his cash. “My household thinks I bought the automotive and deposited the cash in my checking account,” he stated. He’s now making an attempt emigrate to discover a job and earn some cash.

Pathirana is among the many Sri Lankans each domestically and abroad who declare to have been deceived by a bunch of males that ran a pretend cryptocurrency funding scheme and swindled hundreds of thousands of rupees. Whereas it isn’t clear how many individuals in complete declare to have been duped, one individual that Al Jazeera spoke to stated simply a thousand folks had joined in his district alone, and that for the reason that mannequin labored on bringing on new buyers, the scheme had a cascading impact.

These buyers are feeling the pinch amid Sri Lanka’s financial disaster which has seen inflation hit 60.8 p.c in July, inflicting acute shortages of necessities, and making fundamental meals nearly unaffordable.

The rip-off is alleged to have affected professionals like medical doctors, safety personnel and other people from decrease middle-income backgrounds in rural districts, largely between the ages of 30 and 40.

A few of those that spoke to Al Jazeera had been Sri Lankans who had made investments whereas working in nations like South Korea, Italy and Japan.

Most of them had given up their jobs, pawned their jewelry, mortgaged their property, and bought their autos to speculate all they might, hoping they’d obtain vital good points.

“If I had my cash in the present day, I may have opened up a set deposit account and used it to enhance the financial standing of my household,” Roshan Marasingha, 38, who spoke to Al Jazeera from South Korea, stated.

He stated that he had invested 3.1 million Sri Lankan rupees ($8,683) and obtained solely 550,000 Sri Lankan rupees ($1,540) in return.

“Sadly, we had been the bottom-level buyers of their pyramid (scheme). So we didn’t obtain the return that was promised,” Marasingha lamented.

deposit slips showing the amounts deposited in sports chain app
Some Sri Lankans made investments whereas dwelling in different nations [File: Hassaan Shazuli/Al Jazeera]

The scheme

In official papers filed with Sri Lankan authorities, the buyers say that in early 2020 Shamal Bandara, a Sri Lankan, and Zhang Kai, launched to the buyers as Chinese language, had arrange “Sports activities Chain”, which they stated was a cryptocurrency funding platform.

They’re alleged to have run their operations as a Ponzi scheme, a fraudulent enterprise during which current buyers had been paid with funds collected from new buyers.

On its web site, Sports activities Chain calls itself a “extremely worthwhile” and “nameless” enterprise, which goals to “change into a steadily rising cryptocurrency used within the digital finance of the sports activities trade”.

Sports activities Chain’s web site is riddled with grammatical errors and promotes itself because the “world’s first aggressive public chain platform”.

Nonetheless on CoinMarketCap, an internet site for monitoring crypto belongings, there isn’t any “Sports activities Chain” cryptocurrency registered or buying and selling available in the market.

The Sports activities Chain cellular software will not be obtainable on Google Play or the App Retailer and must be downloaded utilizing an online hyperlink.

To make use of the app, buyers needed to enter the referral key of the accomplice who launched the idea to them. Sports activities Chain referred to as this a system of “constructing a accomplice community” – which is a method of defining a Ponzi scheme.

To advertise this, the boys behind the scheme organised a number of occasions and conferences for buyers, generally at five-star motels in capital Colombo.

A video of one in all these conferences, seen by Al Jazeera, confirmed one of many males explaining how the cash deposited by new buyers can be divided among the many current ones.

Utilizing the cellular app, buyers had been requested to empty their digital wallets by transferring “Sports activities Chain cash” to an possibility referred to as the “Energy Pool” the place cash had been multiplied by 5.

Day by day, just a few cryptocurrency cash had been despatched again to the pockets from the Energy Pool.

screenshot of sports chain app
Buyers needed to enter the referral key within the app (pictured) of the accomplice who launched the idea to them [Hassaan Shazuli/Al Jazeera]

“We had been requested to deposit cash to a checking account, obtain a cellular software and begin buying and selling,” Ranjan, an investor, informed Al Jazeera.

He most well-liked to be recognized solely together with his first identify as he works for the Sri Lanka Navy.

“I joined this as a result of I used to be satisfied that I may obtain a very good return on funding,” he stated.

To obtain extra cash of their wallets, buyers had to herald extra companions to the community.

The buyers allege that by mid-2021, the folks behind Sports activities Chain had run out of cash to pay buyers, because the variety of new buyers started to drop drastically after phrase unfold that it was a rip-off.

“Initially, we may make withdrawals after we obtained about 150 cash to the pockets. Then they saved elevating the restrict to about 500,” one other investor Priyanga Kasturiarachchi, 40, informed Al Jazeera. Kasturiarachchi had deposited 1.8 million rupees and had managed to withdraw 1.3 million rupees, he stated.

Kasturiarachchi claims that after he and his daughter highlighted their state of affairs on social media, they obtained threatening telephone calls.

Al Jazeera noticed financial institution deposit slips, lots of which had been within the native accounts of at the least three foreigners – Wu Chungsheng, Yu Shuhui, and Wang Yixiao – whereas a number of others had been within the names of Sri Lankans. It’s not clear what, if something, is the connection between these folks and Bandara and Zhang. Not one of the funds had been made on to the financial institution accounts of Shamal Bandara or Zhang Kai who’re alleged to have led the rip-off. Bandara didn’t reply to a WhatsApp message despatched to his cell phone. Al Jazeera couldn’t attain any of the others.

No licence for cryptocurrencies

The central financial institution of Sri Lanka says it “has not given any license or authorization to any entity or firm to function schemes … together with cryptocurrencies”.

complaints by investors in sports chain app
A number of Sri Lankans have filed complaints with the police [Hassaan Shazuli/Al Jazeera]

Below Sri Lanka’s regulation, working pyramid or Ponzi schemes may end up in imprisonment between three to 5 years. In response to the nation’s Banking Act, offenders additionally need to pay a fantastic of two million Sri Lankan Rupees or twice the quantity obtained from the contributors within the scheme.

Buyers have now filed complaints with the Police Monetary Crimes Investigation Division (FCID), and the Central Financial institution of Sri Lanka.

They’ve accused the alleged scammers of deceiving them by means of the pretend cryptocurrency scheme, and later threatening them for revealing particulars on social media.

“We’re conducting an inquiry to find out whether or not we’ve got to file a civil or prison lawsuit,” a senior officer on the FCID workplace in Mirihana – a Western Province suburb, informed Al Jazeera. He declined to be named as he’s not authorised to talk to the media.

“Most often, the buyers are paid for the primary few months after which they don’t obtain something in any respect,” he added. “You will need to elevate consciousness so that folks don’t fall for these schemes.”

In response to Al Jazeera’s queries on whether or not the central financial institution was investigating this matter, it stated complaints of fraudulent schemes typically wanted to be directed to the police for authorized motion. The central financial institution didn’t reply to particular queries on the Sports activities Chain scheme.

Chathuranga Perera, 31, stated he had deposited 3.2 million Sri Lankan Rupees ($8,963) in January 2021, cash that he earned by working within the tourism trade. In a collection of withdrawals by April he managed to get 400,000 Sri Lankan Rupees ($1,120) again, however not any extra.

“That is what I saved for years. Now, I don’t have a job. I’ve misplaced nearly every part,” he informed Al Jazeera.

“This cash would have are available very helpful as we face an financial disaster. It hurts to be on this place,” he stated.

Salman Rushdie’s family ‘extremely relieved’ he’s off ventilator | Arts and Culture News

The household of Salman Rushdie mentioned it was “extraordinarily relieved” the famend British creator had been taken off a ventilator following his stabbing two days prior, and he retained his “defiant sense of humour”.

Rushdie’s agent, Andrew Wylie, mentioned earlier on Sunday the wounded author was on the “highway to restoration” after he was stabbed a number of occasions in a surprising assault at a literary occasion in New York state within the US.

“We’re extraordinarily relieved that yesterday he was taken off the ventilator and extra oxygen and was in a position to say just a few phrases,” Rushdie’s son Zafar tweeted.

Zafar mentioned regardless of the promising information, his father remained in vital situation due to “life-changing” and “extreme” accidents.

However “his normal feisty [and] defiant sense of humour stays intact”, he added.

Rushdie, 75, suffered a broken liver and severed nerves in an arm and an eye fixed, Wylie beforehand mentioned, and was prone to lose the injured eye.

Zafar expressed his gratitude to viewers members who “bravely leapt to his defence” and for the “outpouring of affection and assist from world wide”.

International outrage, assist

On Sunday, France’s Goncourt Academy, which awards the literary Goncourt Prize yearly, was the newest to supply its “unconditional assist” to Rushdie.

The academy “condemns the barbaric act for which there may be no justification … [and] presents its unconditional assist and solidarity”, it mentioned in a press release.

Authors, activists and authorities officers cited Rushdie’s bravery and longtime championing of free speech within the face of such intimidation.

Author and longtime pal Ian McEwan labelled Rushdie “an inspirational defender of persecuted writers and journalists”, and actor-author Kal Penn known as him a job mannequin “for a complete technology of artists, particularly many people within the South Asian diaspora”.

“Salman Rushdie – together with his perception into humanity, together with his unmatched sense for story, together with his refusal to be intimidated or silenced – stands for important, common beliefs,” United States President Joe Biden mentioned in a Saturday assertion.

The assault was met with world shock and outrage together with reward for the person who, for greater than three many years, has weathered dying threats and a $3m bounty on his head for The Satanic Verses. Rushdie even spent 9 years in hiding underneath a British authorities safety programme.

Rushdie, who was born in India to a Muslim household and has lived in Britain and the US, is thought for his surreal and satirical prose, starting together with his Booker Prize-winning 1981 novel Midnight’s Kids, during which he sharply criticised India’s then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Infused with magical realism, 1988’s The Satanic Verses drew ire from some Muslims who regarded parts of the novel as blasphemy.

The ebook had already been banned and burned in India, Pakistan and elsewhere when Iran’s Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a spiritual decree calling for Rushdie’s dying in 1989. Khomeini died that very same yr, however the edict stays in impact – although Iran, lately, has not centered on Rushdie.

The creator was about to handle the occasion in western New York state when a person rushed onto the stage and stabbed him repeatedly.

The suspected assailant, Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey, was wrestled to the bottom by workers and different viewers members earlier than being taken into police custody.

He was arraigned in court docket on Saturday and pleaded not responsible to tried homicide expenses in what a prosecutor known as “a focused, unprovoked, preplanned assault”.

Rushdie
Rushdie was compelled into hiding in 1989 after his ebook The Satanic Verses was denounced by Iranian chief Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini [File: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP]

Russia-Ukraine war: List of key events, day 172 | Russia-Ukraine war News

Because the Russia-Ukraine battle enters its 172nd day, we check out the principle developments.

Listed below are the important thing occasions from Sunday, August 14.

Combating

  • Russia and Ukraine have blamed one another for the most recent spherical of shelling across the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Europe’s largest, which is in Russia’s management and has come beneath fireplace repeatedly previously week.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday mentioned any Russian soldier who shoots on the plant or makes use of it as cowl would grow to be a “particular goal”, repeating accusations that Moscow was utilizing the ability station as nuclear “blackmail”.
  • Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak accused Russia of “hitting the a part of the nuclear energy plant the place the power that powers the south of Ukraine is generated”.
  • Professional-Moscow officers within the occupied space have blamed the shelling on Ukrainian forces, with Vladimir Rogov, a member of the Moscow-installed administration, saying the Zaporizhzhia plant, and the city the place it’s situated, Energodar, “are once more beneath fireplace by Zelenskyy’s militants”.
  • Western powers have expressed rising concern over the plant since Russian forces took management of the ability in early March. They’ve referred to as on Moscow to withdraw its troops from the plant, which continues to be run by Ukrainian technicians.
  • The UK’s army intelligence mentioned Russia’s precedence within the final week has doubtless been to “reorient models to strengthen southern Ukraine” amid a Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Ukraine
A person walks in entrance of a destroyed constructing following a rocket assault within the city of Kramatorsk within the Donetsk area of Ukraine [Anatolii Stepanov/AFP]

Diplomacy

  • The top of the North American division on the Russian overseas ministry has mentioned any doable seizure of Russian belongings by the US will utterly destroy Moscow’s bilateral relations with Washington, in accordance with the TASS information company. The US has seized billions of {dollars} of belongings of Russians beneath sanctions for the reason that invasion started.
  • Russia has additionally instructed the US that diplomatic ties could be badly broken and will even be damaged off if Washington declares Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism”, TASS cited a prime overseas ministry official as saying. Zelenskyy and a number of other US legislators have referred to as for Russia to be designated as such.

Economic system

  • Two extra ships left from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports on Saturday, Turkey’s defence ministry mentioned, bringing the whole variety of ships to depart the nation beneath a United Nations-brokered deal to 16.
  • A UN-chartered ship, MV Courageous Commander, is ready to grow to be the primary humanitarian meals cargo for Africa to depart from Ukraine for the reason that Russian invasion. A UN official has mentioned the ship will journey within the coming days from the Ukrainian port of Pivdennyi to Ethiopia alongside the Black Sea hall brokered by the UN and Turkey. It’s set to hold 23,0000 tonnes of wheat.
  • Zelenskyy’s chief financial adviser has mentioned securing a brand new $5bn mortgage from the IMF would assist guarantee Ukraine’s different collectors that its macroeconomic scenario was beneath management.
  • The US has expressed concern that an Indian ship earlier this 12 months used a high-seas switch to export gasoline to New York comprised of Russian crude, a prime Indian central banker mentioned. US sanctions on Russia prohibit imports to the US of Russian-origin power merchandise, together with crude oil, refined fuels, distillates, coal and fuel.
  • Hungary mentioned Russia has begun to ship further fuel to the nation following a July go to to Moscow by its overseas minister. Hungary has resisted European Union’s efforts to cut back Russian fuel consumption.

Mali PM Choguel Maiga placed on ‘forced rest’ by doctor | News

Maiga is affected by exhaustion after working for 14 months with out break, his workplace says.

Mali Prime Minister Choguel Maiga has been positioned on compelled relaxation by his physician on Saturday after months of intense exertion, his workplace has mentioned.

“After 14 months of working with no break, the prime minister, head of presidency, Choguel Kokalla Maiga was positioned on compelled relaxation by his physician,” his workplace mentioned on its Fb web page on Saturday.

“He’ll resume his actions subsequent week, God-willing,” the assertion added.

An adviser cited by the information company Reuters denied earlier media stories on Paris-based Jeune Afrique journal that Maiga had been hospitalised after struggling a stroke.

Mali’s ruling navy authorities named the previous opposition chief as prime minister of the transitional authorities it leads in June of final yr, after a navy coup in August 2020.

Maiga has been one of many authorities’s most outspoken voices in repeated public arguments with West African neighbours and worldwide companions who’ve criticised its navy cooperation with Russian mercenaries and repeated election delays.

ECOWAS, West Africa’s major political and financial bloc, has been urgent Mali to respect its dedication to carry presidential and legislative elections following an August 2020 navy coup. The brand new management has promised to organise democratic elections in 2024.

Maiga repeatedly condemned France for its “abandonment” of Mali in its battle towards armed teams within the nation, which has been the epicentre of a bloody 10-year-old marketing campaign by armed teams within the area.

Earlier on Saturday, the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali introduced it might resume troop rotations for the almost 12,000-strong mission on Monday, one month after Malian authorities suspended them and accused overseas troopers of getting into the nation with out permission.

It mentioned they might resume following discussions with representatives from the mission, generally known as MINUSMA, about find out how to coordinate troop deployments.

Tensions have been excessive between Mali and the UN since 49 troopers from Ivory Coast, together with members of the particular forces, have been detained by Malian authorities final month.

Mali mentioned the Ivorian troopers didn’t have correct authorisation to come back to Mali and accused them of being mercenaries.

A MINUSMA spokesperson informed Reuters on Saturday that the mission and Malian authorities had agreed on a streamlined rotation process and that the mission’s request to renew rotations had been accepted.

Relations between Mali and troop-contributing nations stay strained. On Friday, Germany mentioned it was suspending its navy reconnaissance mission, which offers intelligence to MINUSMA, after Malian authorities withheld a flight clearance.

Mali’s overseas minister denied on Twitter that the federal government had finished so and referred to as on Germany to stick to the brand new mechanism for approving troop rotations.

Western powers have repeatedly criticised Russian mercenaries working for Moscow’s controversial Wagner group deployed in Mali.

French Overseas Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian accused the mercenaries of plundering Mali’s assets in trade for safeguarding the navy authorities.

Russia is seen by part of the inhabitants as a simpler ally within the struggle towards armed teams. In February, 1000’s of anti-French demonstrators waving Russian flags and burning cardboard cut-outs of French President Emmanuel Macron poured into the streets of the capital Bamako to cheer on the expulsion of the French ambassador.

Relations between Mali and its former coloniser deteriorated in January when the navy authorities went again on an settlement to organise elections in February and proposed holding energy till 2025.

Maiga’s transitional authorities has mentioned it’s going to maintain elections in 2024.

Russia-Ukraine war: List of key events, day 171 | Russia-Ukraine war News

Because the Russia-Ukraine battle enters its 171st day, we check out the principle developments.

Listed here are the important thing occasions on Saturday, August 13.

Combating

  • Blasts this week on the Russian-operated Saky army airfield within the annexed Crimean Peninsula led to the lack of eight Russian fight jets, the UK’s defence ministry mentioned.
  • Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy advised authorities officers to cease speaking to reporters about Kyiv’s army techniques towards Russia, saying such remarks had been “frankly irresponsible”.
  • Russia’s defence ministry mentioned its forces destroyed a US-made AN/MPQ-64 radar system in Ukraine’s japanese Donetsk area. In its newest day by day briefing, the ministry additionally mentioned Russian troops had shot down two US-made Excessive Mobility Artillery Rocket Programs (HIMARS) missiles.
  • Ukraine’s defence minister mentioned Kyiv has obtained a cargo of M20 A number of Launch Rocket Programs (MLRS) from the UK.
  • Ukraine’s army mentioned its artillery hit a Russian ammunition depot close to a key bridge within the south on Friday and added it now had the power to assault practically all of Moscow’s provide strains within the occupied area.

INTERACTIVE_UKRAINE_CONTROL

Economic system

  • Russia’s gross home product (GDP) contracted by 4 % within the second quarter in contrast with the identical interval a yr earlier, as financial sanctions by the West take their toll on the economic system, the nationwide statistics company mentioned.
  • Russia’s Nationwide Settlement Depository (NSD) mentioned it filed a lawsuit on the European Court docket of Justice in Luxembourg to overturn European Union sanctions imposed on the nation over its invasion of Ukraine.
  • A possible new fuel connection between Spain and France might be able to function in lower than a yr’s time, Spain’s Vitality Minister Teresa Ribera mentioned, if France and different European nations agree on the challenge. The EU is racing to wean itself off Russian pure fuel after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, bringing new interconnection initiatives into focus.
  • McDonald’s will begin reopening a few of its eating places in Ukraine within the coming months, an emblem of the war-torn nation’s return to some sense of normalcy and a present of help after the American fast-food chain and others pulled out of Russia.
  • Russia is contemplating shopping for the currencies of “pleasant” nations reminiscent of China, India and Turkey to carry in its Nationwide Wealth Fund (NWF), having misplaced the power to purchase {dollars} or euros as a consequence of sanctions, its central financial institution has mentioned.
  • Russian oil flows to the Czech Republic by the Druzhba pipeline are set to renew inside hours after transit price funds had been unblocked, Slovak pipeline operator Transpetrol has mentioned.

Putin’s war sets Russian economy back 4 years in single quarter | Russia-Ukraine war News

A wave of worldwide sanctions after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine disrupted Russia’s commerce and threw numerous of its industries into paralysis.

By Bloomberg

President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine set Russia’s financial system again 4 years within the first full quarter after the assault, placing it on monitor for one of many longest downturns on report even when much less sharply than initially feared.

In a bleak tally of the struggle for Russia, an financial system that was selecting up velocity in the beginning of 2022 swung right into a contraction throughout the second quarter. Knowledge on Friday confirmed gross home product shrank for the primary time in over a 12 months however fared higher than forecast, dropping an annual 4%.

Contemplating the misplaced output, GDP is now roughly equal to its dimension in 2018, in line with Bloomberg Economics.

The jolt of worldwide sanctions over the struggle disrupted commerce and threw industries like automobile manufacturing into paralysis whereas shopper spending seized up. Though the financial system’s decline to date isn’t as precipitous as first anticipated, the central financial institution tasks the stoop will worsen within the quarters forward, reaching its lowest level within the first half of subsequent 12 months.

“The financial system will transfer towards a brand new long-term equilibrium,” Financial institution of Russia Deputy Governor Alexey Zabotkin mentioned at a briefing in Moscow. “Because the financial system undergoes a restructuring, its development will resume.”

Russian Slump Far More Shallow Than First Feared | Monthly forecasts for 2Q Russian economic performance vs actual data

The Financial institution of Russia acted to include the upheaval in markets and the ruble with capital controls and steep hikes to rates of interest. Sufficient calm has returned to roll again a lot of these measures.

Fiscal stimulus and repeated rounds of financial easing in current months have additionally began to kick in, blunting the affect of worldwide sanctions. Oil extraction has been recovering and spending by households confirmed indicators of stabilization.

“The disaster is transferring alongside a really clean trajectory,” mentioned Evgeny Suvorov, lead Russia economist at CentroCredit Financial institution.

On Friday, the central financial institution printed a draft of its coverage outlook for the following three years, predicting the financial system will take till 2025 to return to its potential development fee of 1.5%-2.5%. The financial institution’s projections for 2022-2024 remained unchanged, with GDP forecast to shrink 4%-6% and 1%-4% this 12 months and subsequent, respectively.

The report additionally included a so-called danger situation the place world financial circumstances deteriorate additional and Russian exports come beneath further sanctions. If that occurs, Russia’s financial stoop subsequent 12 months could also be deeper than throughout the world monetary disaster in 2009 and development would solely resume in 2025.

The response by authorities to date has ensured a softer touchdown for an financial system that analysts at one level anticipated would contract 10% within the second quarter. Economists from banks together with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. have since improved their outlooks and now see output dropping as little as 3.5% within the full 12 months.

Even so, the Financial institution of Russia predicts GDP will shrink 7% this quarter and probably much more within the closing three months of the 12 months.

The standoff over power shipments to Europe raises new dangers for the financial system. Month-to-month declines in oil output will begin as quickly as in August, in line with the Worldwide Power Company, which predicts Russia’s crude manufacturing will decline about 20% by the beginning of subsequent 12 months.

“The stoop in 2022 might be much less deep than anticipated in April,” the central financial institution mentioned in a report on financial coverage this month. “On the similar time, the affect of provide shocks could also be extra prolonged over time.”

To contact the editors liable for this story:
Benjamin Harvey at bharvey11@bloomberg.web