India’s Billionaire Jeweler In Trouble For Fraud

Nirav Modi is in serious trouble as he has been linked to country’s biggest bank fraud ever of i.8 billion U.S dollars.

Indian authorities have already seized a solar power plant and over 134 acres of land belonging to billionaire.

“The Enforcement Directorate took possession of the land and solar power plant in Ahmednagar in western India Sunday. Earlier, it attached 21 immovable properties worth 5.24 billion rupees belonging to the jeweller and his companies,” a senior official said today.

Indian authorities have already sought Interpol’s help to track down Modi and and his uncle and business partner Mehul Choksi in connection with the bank fraud.  India’s External Affairs Ministry has also revoked their passports.

Modi is said to have defrauded Punjab National Bank, India’s second largest state-run bank, of 1.8 billion dollars, though he has said that he owed the bank only 775 million dollars, in a letter sent to the bank’s management. Indian investigators have so far arrested nearly 20 people, including some senior executives of companies owned by Modi and Choksi as well as high-ranking officials of state-owned Punjab National Bank, in the fraud probe.

However, they have not yet been able to arrest him and his uncle. The celebrity jeweller is said to have fled the country and was reportedly last seen in New York after his appearance at World Economic Forum in Davos as a member of the Indian delegation.


Women To Receive Equal Salaries As Men In Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has revealed that authorities in the country are working on legislation that will equalize women’s salaries with men’s salaries.

He disclosed this in an interview with CBS saying;

“We are working on an initiative, which we will launch in the near future, to introduce regulations ensuring equal pay for men and women.

According to bin Salman, these measures will increase the proportion of working women from 22 per cent currently.

The crown prince admitted that women in his country do not yet have full rights, but noted that he considers women and men equal.

The change in the social status of women is part of the Vision 2030 strategy of the Saudi Arabian authorities.

Earlier in March, the Kingdom allowed women to serve in the armed forces. A total of 140 positions were opened, and 107,000 applied to those positions.

In addition, women were allowed to work in restaurants, and in prosecution.

In 2017, Saudi authorities lifted a ban on driving cars for women. Permission will come into force in June this year. Women were also allowed to attend public entertainment events.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has witnessed a series of major changes that touched the country’s economy, social and political spheres, since King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud took the throne in 2015.

A significant role in the reform process in the country belongs to Mohammed bin Salman, who was appointed as Crown Prince in June 2017.


Trump Tweets On Robert Mueller’s Russian-Election Meddling Affair

US President Donald Trump on Sunday attacked special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election meddling as unfair, insisting the probe is staffed with “hardened” Democrats.
“Does anyone think this is fair? And yet, there is NO COLLUSION!” Trump tweeted.

The salvo was the latest in an intensifying confrontation over Mueller’s probe into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian attempts to sway the 2016 election in his favor.

The president also took aim at former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, who was fired Friday two days before he was due to retire, and former FBI director James Comey, who Trump sacked last year over the Russia probe.

Until now, the president has steered clear of directly attacking Mueller, the former FBI director who took over the Russia probe after Comey’s firing May 9, 2017.

“Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans? Another Dem recently added,” Trump said.

Widely respected in both political camps, Mueller was appointed FBI chief by the Republican president George W. Bush, and kept on under the Democrat Barack Obama.

Lawmakers have repeatedly warned that any attempt by the president to oust him as special counsel would cross a red line.

In earlier tweets, Trump accused Comey of lying under oath in congressional testimony and dismissed as “fake memos” contemporaneous notes McCabe and Comey took of their interactions with the president.

Those memos could be fodder for Mueller’s probe if he is pursuing potential obstruction of justice by the president.

“Spent very little time with Andrew McCabe, but he never took notes when he was with me. I don’t believe he made memos except to help his own agenda, probably at a later date. Same with lying James Comey.”

After his firing, McCabe said he was the victim of a Trump administration “war” against the FBI and the special counsel.

Comey has pushed back as well. “Mr President, the American people will hear my story very soon. And they can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not,” he tweeted on Saturday.

23 Injured In Hotel Fire In Philippine, 3 Killed

Three people were killed and 23 injured by a major hotel fire in the Philippine capital Manila on Sunday, with others plucked by helicopter from the rooftop of the building engulfed in thick black smoke, authorities said.
The blaze at the Waterfront Manila Pavilion, a high-rise hotel and casino complex, was still raging nine hours after it began on Sunday morning, with two people missing as hundreds fled the area.

Authorities initially said four people had died but later clarified that one victim had been revived in hospital, according to Metro Manila Development Authority acting chief Jojo Garcia.

The three who died had likely suffocated while another 23 people had been taken to hospital, said Manila city’s disaster risk reduction chief, Johnny Yu.

“The smoke is very heavy and the wind is strong. That is our enemy now smoke and the wind which is why our firefighters are having a hard time,” Yu told reporters.

Clouds of smoke covered several floors of the building and swathed ladders of firefighters, some of whom had difficulty breathing, according to an AFP photographer on the scene.

Fire authorities were investigating the cause of the blaze, which is believed to have begun in the casino or mezzanine area of the 21-floor hotel which regularly hosted both locals and foreigners, Yu added.

Responders sent a helicopter to rescue people trapped on the roof while crews battled to evacuate others from lower floors.

Manila is one of 16 cities making up Metro Manila. Nearby cities were helping put out the blaze, Manila’s fire department said.

“This is a major fire. There were those who inhaled the smoke and were brought to the hospital,” senior fire officer Marlon Banaag told AFP.

On Sunday afternoon, President Rodrigo Duterte conducted an aerial survey of the fire aboard a helicopter, photos from his aide showed.

Deadly blazes break out regularly in the Philippines, particularly in slum areas where there are virtually no safety standards.

The deadliest in recent years was in suburban Manila where 72 people died in 2015 at a factory which makes rubber slippers.

In the southern city of Davao, 38 people were killed in December by a fire that ravaged a shopping mall and a call centre. And in June last year, an armed attacker set the Resorts World Manila hotel-casino complex on fire, claiming the lives of 37 people.

Russia Expels 23 British Diplomats

Russia President Vladimir Putin has expelled 23 British diplomats from Russia.

This action is coming shortly after 23 Russian diplomats were expelled from the UK following a nerve attack on former spy Sergei Skripal in the Salisbury, England.

Asides expelling British diplomats, Russia also shut down the UK consulate in St Petersburg and the British Council cultural organisation. The Russian foreign ministry said the move was a “response to the provocative actions of the British side and baseless accusations of the Russian Federation relating to the Salisbury incident”. It warned the UK against “further actions of an unfriendly nature”.

After being updated by the British Ambassador in Moscow, Theresa May has warned the Kremlin that Britain will not be cowed by its decision to expel 23 British diplomats in an escalation of the dispute following the Salisbury attack.

Responding to President Putin’s decision to escalate diplomatic tensions, Mrs May told a gathering of Conservative Party members that his antics would not distract from the fact that Russia was “in flagrant breach of international law.” Speaking at the Conservative Spring Forum in London, Mrs May said Russia’s response, which includes shutting down the British Council, did not “change the facts of the matter”,

Mrs May said: In light of their previous behaviour, we anticipated a response of this kind and we will consider our next steps in the coming days, alongside our allies and partners.

“But Russia’s response doesn’t change the facts of the matter – the attempted assassination of two people on British soil, for which there is no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian State was culpable.

“It is Russia that is in flagrant breach of international law and the Chemical Weapons Convention.”

Mrs May reiterated her intentions to “dismantle” the Russian spy network operating out of the UK and to suspend all planned contact between the UK and the Kremlin.

She said: “We will never tolerate a threat to the life of British citizens and others on British soil from the Russian Government.”


China’s Xi Jinping Gets Second Term In Office

China’s rubber-stamp parliament unanimously handed President Xi Jinping a second term Saturday and elevated his right-hand man to the vice presidency, giving him a strong ally to consolidate power and handle US trade threats.

Xi’s reappointment by the Communist Party-controlled legislature was a foregone conclusion, but all eyes had been on whether his former anti-corruption enforcer, Wang Qishan, would become his deputy.

The National People’s Congress has widely expanded Xi’s already considerable authority during its annual session, adding his name to the constitution and lifting the two five-year term limit for the presidency and vice presidency.

Xi received a standing ovation after winning all 2,970 votes for the presidency and Central Military Commission chairman. In 2013, Xi had received 2,952 votes, with one against and three abstentions, a 99.86 percent share.

Only one delegate voted against Wang’s appointment, with 2,969 in favour.

Xi and Wang shook hands as the legislators heaped on applause.

As part of the package of constitutional amendments, Xi and Wang for the first time took the oath of office by pledging allegiance to the constitution. Xi put his left hand on a red-covered book containing the charter, and raised his right fist to take his vow.

“I pledge loyalty to the constitution of the People’s Republic of China” Xi recited, vowing to “strenuously struggle to build a rich, strong, democratic and civilised” country.

Elevating Wang allows Xi to keep a formidable ally by his side, as China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong cements his authority and sets his sights on a possible lifelong tenure — a move that has drawn criticism online.

Wang, 69, stepped down from the Communist Party’s ruling council in October under informal retirement rules.

But he has kept a prominent profile, sitting at the same table as the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee during the public sessions of the National People’s Congress while receiving fervent applause from the delegates as he voted.

Wang’s appointment shows that “he’s a really important political advisor,” said Kerry Brown, director of the Lau China Institute at King’s College London.

“He’s a very capable politician, so it makes sense he would still be around,” Brown told AFP, noting that “it also shows we’re in an unconventional time in Chinese politics.”

Wang was at the frontline of Xi’s anti-corruption crusade, heading the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which has punished 1.5 million officials in the past five years, from low-level cadres to regional leaders and generals. He stepped down last year.

Known internationally in his previous role as China’s pointman on trade, Wang could help Xi deal with increasingly tense relations with the United States amid fears of a looming trade war, analysts say.

Africa’s Only Female President, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, Resigns

Mauritius President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, who has been implicated in a financial scandal, resigned on Saturday, her lawyer said, just days after she refused to stand down.

Gurib-Fakim, Africa’s only female head of state, submitted her resignation in the “national interest,” her lawyer Yousouf Mohamed told reporters, adding that it would take effect on March 23.

Germany’s Angela Merkel Elected For Fourth Term

Germany’s Parliament has elected Angela Merkel for her fourth term as chancellor on Wednesday.

Lawmakers voted 364-315 to reelect Merkel, Germany’s leader since 2005, who ran unopposed. The coalition of Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union, its Bavaria-only sister party the Christian Social Union, and the center-left Social Democrats has 399 of the 709 seats in parliament.

Merkel will head a much-changed Cabinet, with the governing parties — which are traditional rivals — keen to send signals of renewal after a September election in which all lost significant ground. There are new faces in the most important posts: the finance, foreign, economy and interior ministries.

The same parties have governed for the past four years but putting together the new administration has been unprecedentedly hard work.

This puts an end to nearly six months of political drift in Europe’s biggest economy.

Wednesday’s parliamentary vote came 171 days after the election, nearly double the previous record. The Social Democrats initially planned to go into opposition after crashing to their worst result since World War II, but Germany’s president nudged them into a reluctant about-turn after Merkel’s talks with two smaller parties collapsed in November.

Merkel was able to take office only after two-thirds of the Social Democrats’ members approved in a ballot the coalition deal clinched last month. At least 35 coalition lawmakers didn’t support her Wednesday, though that was in line with results at the beginning of her two previous “grand coalitions” of Germany’s biggest parties.

She will have to hold together what is potentially her most fragile coalition yet in what is widely expected to be her last term, while also addressing challenges such as a potential Europe-U.S. trade war and seeking agreement with France and others on the future of a fractious European Union.


Drivers With High Blood Pressure Banned From Driving In Kenya

People with high blood pressure have been banned from driving in Kenya in a bid to stop people with health conditions from driving.

According to reports people with high blood pressure wouldn’t even be granted a driver’s licence.

The country’s National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) released the new driving curriculum with recommendation of mandatory medical tests for epilepsy, high blood pressure, sight and hearing problems for all drivers. According to the new curriculum, drivers are supposed to renew their licences every 10 years, and only after submitting a medical report.  However, motorists above 60 years must submit a medical report every year.

The medical tests will also include a range of brain-related conditions and diseases that disable mobility and muscle movement such as stroke.  In the curriculum, eye conditions lead a long list of mandatory medical tests for new drivers as well as old ones seeking licence renewals.

According to NTSA Deputy Director in charge of safety, Dr, Duncan Kibogong, some conditions will lead to automatic disqualification.  “For epilepsy, it is a no. The fact is, no one, including the driver, has any idea when the seizures can occur,” said Dr Kibogong.  The medical tests will also include the drivers’ heart condition as well as sleep, alcohol and drug-related disorders.  The tests will also look out for a driver’s susceptibility to non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and stroke.  Kibogong said NTSA would work closely with the Ministry of Health to ensure that only those who were fit were allowed on the road.

“In some cases, it does not make sense to even allow you to train as a driver when we know you are not fit,” said Kibogong.  He however insisted that the mandatory health clearance should not be viewed as discrimination against certain conditions.  “In most of these cases, it is just about correcting them. For example, for poor eyesight, you can be given glasses and you will be fine. There are only a few conditions that we may not allow,” he said.  Drivers to be affected by the new rules are those applying for new licences and those seeking renewals this year.

The practice of pegging the issuance of driver’s licences to medical tests may be new in the country but has been in force for years in other parts of the world.  In New York, for instance, if one loses the use of a leg, arm, eye or ear, such information must be included on the driving licence.  Such drivers are then only allowed to operate customised vehicles.  Similarly, if the driver’s hearing is not acceptable, a restriction of “hearing aid or full-view mirror” is added to the driver licence.  Those who wear hearing aids and cannot pass the hearing test must use full-view rear mirrors.


Diamonds Used In Biomedical Implants

Australian researchers have revealed that they are harnessing diamonds for use in biomedical implants, through a novel way that could improve the way the human body accepts the medical devices.

RMIT University quoted its biomedical engineer Dr Kate Fox, who led the team behind the development, saying;

“Currently the gold standard for medical implants is titanium but too often titanium implants don’t interact with our bodies the way we need them to,” “To work around this, we have used diamond on 3D scaffolds to create a surface coating that adheres better to cells commonly found in mammals.”

“We are using detonation nanodiamonds to create the coating, which are cheaper than the titanium powder.”

The coating also helps cell growth and reduces bacterial attachment in the implants, she said.

“Not only could our diamond coating lead to better biocompatibility for 3D-printed implants, but it could also improve their wear and resistance.

It’s an exceptional biomaterial.”`

The researchers are focusing on using the technology for orthopaedics. Other than the musculoskeletal system, diamond has also been used to coat cardiovascular stents – tubes that help keep the heart’s arteries open – and on joints, as well as in bionics and prosthetics, said the university.

“It will be a number of years before a technology like this is rolled out, and there are many steps to take until we see it available to patients,” said Fox.

“But what we have done is taking the first crucial step in a long and potentially incredible journey.”


South Sudan President Sacks Army Commander And Finance Minister

Salva Kiir of South Sudan has dismissed the army commander Marial Chanuong Yol and Finance minister Stephen Dhieu Dau. According to reports no reason has been given for Kiir’s drastic actions.

Yol, nicknamed Tiger, was the commander of the presidential guard, before he was appointed the army chief of operations, training and intelligence last year.  He was blacklisted by the UN Security Council in 2015 for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the onset of war in December 2013 against members of the the Nuer ethnic group.

Dau was appointed Finance minister in 2016, with the hope of improving South Sudan’s straining economy.  However, the economy of the young nation has never been stable, especially since the 2015 devaluation of the South Sudanese Pound (SSP).

Former technical advisor at the Ministry of Trade Salvatore Garang Mabiordit was named the new Finance minister. South Sudan attained independence in 2011 following a referendum whose outcome favoured the separation from Sudan with a 98 per cent approval.  However, it soon descended into another round of conflict pitting President Kiir’s loyalists and those allied to his former deputy Riek Machar.

The current phase of the South Sudan war has claimed more than 100,000 lives, according to the International Crisis Group. Over 2 million South Sudanese have become refugees in neighbouring countries and another 1.9 million others remain internally displaced, according to the UN. The war has also caused one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises after the Rwanda 1994 genocide, the UN added. Multiple human rights abuses have also been documented by various group