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BSF refuses to exchange sweets with Pak

]Rangers over ceasefire violations

Attari, January 26-The Border Security Force (BSF) on Friday refused to exchange sweets and greetings with their Pakistani counterparts--the Pakistan Rangers, on the occasion of the 69th Republic Day.
The move by the BSF came following the heightened tension between both countries along the International Border (IB) and Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir due to repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistani forces leading to killing of soldiers and civilians on the Indian side.
Tension continues to prevail along the IB and LoC for the past few months due to repeated ceasefire violations.
BSF sources said it was conveyed to the Pakistan Rangers on Thursday that no sweets would be exchanged on Republic Day.
Border guards of both countries follow a tradition of exchanging sweets for the past several years on major religious festivals, like Eid and Diwali, and also during Independence Days of both countries and India’s Republic Day.
The BSF is on maximum alert along Punjab’s barbed wire fenced 553-km IB with Pakistan.
In the past four to five years, border guards have skipped the exchange of sweets on a few occasions.
The exchange ceremony is mainly held at the Attari-Wagah joint check post, 30 km from Amritsar.

India celebrates 69th Republic Day

New Delhi, January 26- Amid an unprecedented security cover, celebrations for the 69th Republic Day began on the Rajpath here on Friday in the presence of the leaders of 10 ASEAN nations who are attending the event as chief guests.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid his tributes to the martyrs by laying a wreath at Amar Jawan Jyoti in the presence of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the three service chiefs.
Later Modi, wearing a saffron, red and green coloured safa, reached the Rajpath and received and greeted President Ram Nath Kovind.
Most of the ministers of the Modi government, including Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Health Minister JP Nadda, Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan were among those present on the occasion.
BJP president Amit Shah was also present.
The ASEAN leaders, here to attend the India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit, are the chief guests at the Republic Day parade which was termed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as “historic and unprecedented”.
The ASEAN, founded in 1967, comprises Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei.
The ASEAN leaders attending the parade are Singaporean Premier Lee Hsien Loong Brunei’s Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Philippines President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, Thailand’s Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Lao PDR’s Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith.
Twenty-three tableaux, including those representing various states, ministries, the All India Radio (AIR) among others, will roll down the Rajpath.

'Shithole' epithet turned immigration

debate into new Trump drama

Washington, January 13- After talking on the phone with US President Donald Trump on Thursday morning, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin was optimistic that a compromise deal with some Republicans to protect young "Dreamer" immigrants was on the verge of success.
Less than three hours later, Durbin and a Republican colleague, Senator Lindsey Graham, drove away from the White House with the deal in pieces and a controversy over offensive language about to reverberate worldwide.
At their Oval Office meeting, two sources said, Trump questioned the value of taking immigrants from Haiti and African nations, and referred to them as "shithole countries." The remarks leaked out, transforming a debate about saving from deportation some 700,000 young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children into another drama about Trump himself.
His comments drew a chorus of condemnation inside the United States and internationally, especially in Africa.
Nearly a year into Trump's presidency, members of Congress are still struggling to relate to the unorthodox Trump and his spontaneous, often crude remarks.
In a tweet on Friday, Trump denied using the word "shithole," but Durbin insisted that the president had indeed said it.


Melbourne attack has no

link to terrorism: Turnbull

Sydney, December 22- Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Friday said the car attack incident on Thursday in Melbourne was not a terrorist act, although the suspect claimed to have acted due to mistreatment of Muslims.
The driver of the vehicle, a 32-year-old Australian citizen of Afghan descent who has not yet been officially interrogated, has a history of "serious mental illness and drug abuse," Turnbull said in a press conference, Efe news reported.
Turnbull labelled the act "despicable and cowardly" but said it was "an isolated incident" as the suspect had no links to "any political issues or extremist groups." The Prime Minister further assured that the government still has not ruled anything out.
"Terrorism is politically motivated violence. At this stage, the police are not satisfied they can describe it as that, although he has made reference to the perceived mistreatment of Muslims, as a justification for his actions," Turnbull said.
He also confirmed that 19 people were injured in the incident, 12 of whom still remain in hospital, and three are in critical condition.
Among the injured are nine foreigners, including a Chinese, an Indian and a four-year-old New Zealander with head injuries.
After the incident, police arrested a second suspect, a 24-year-old man who was reportedly recording the event and carrying several knives in his backpack but the authorities believe he has no connection with the incident.


Catalan separatists win vote,

thwarting Rajoy’s bid to solve crisis

Barcelona, December 22- Separatists looked set on Friday to regain power in Catalonia after voters rejected Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s attempt to neuter the independence movement to defuse Spain’s biggest political crisis in decades.
Spanish markets recoiled at a surprise result that is also a setback for the European Union, which must now brace for more secessionist noise as it grapples with the disruption of Brexit and simmering east European discontent.
By risking an election in the wealthy region, Rajoy appears to have made the same mistake that leaders such as Greece’s Alexis Tsipras, Britain’s David Cameron and Italy’s Matteo Renzi have made in recent years: betting that voters would resolve their troublesome domestic conundrums for them.
With the count from Thursday’s Catalan Parliament election almost complete, separatist parties had secured a slim majority, sending stocks down around 1 per cent on fears that tensions with its richest region will hurt the euro zone’s fourth-largest economy.
Catalonia accounts for a fifth of Spain’s economy. More than 3,100 firms have shifted their headquarters out of the region since the independence drive boiled up this year into a referendum that Madrid declared unconstitutional.
“More companies leaving, less economic activity there - and worse for everyone,” said the chief executive of a major listed Spanish company, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the tense climate of the independence debate.
Rajoy, who called the election after sacking the previous, secessionist government, had still not made a comment, some 12 hours after the outcome became clear. He is due to make a statement at 1300 GMT.


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