Passengers safe in hijack attempt on Dubai-bound Bangladesh plane: Report

All 142 passengers have subsequently been allowed to leave the plane, the airline’s general manager, Shakil Miraj, told Reuters.

Passengers safe in hijack attempt on Dubai-bound Bangladesh plane: Report

A Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight to Dubai from Chittagong in Bangladesh made an emergency landing back at Chittagong. (Representational Image)

Chittagong: A Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight to Dubai from Chittagong in Bangladesh made an emergency landing back at Chittagong on Sunday after what appeared to be an attempted hijacking, a senior official from the airline said.

All 142 passengers have subsequently been allowed to leave the plane, the airline’s general manager, Shakil Miraj, told Reuters.

Police and army are still surrounding the aircraft, he said.

“There were 142 passengers and all of them have come out from the aircraft safely,” said Miraj.

He said the Boeing 737 aircraft was scheduled to go from Dhaka to Dubai via Chittagong.


Robot ‘GOD’: AI version of Buddhist deity to preach in Japanese temple

Robot 'GOD': AI version of Buddhist deity to preach in Japanese temple

Robot Mindar, which is about 195 centimeters tall and weighs 60 kilograms (Image: KyodoNews)

The humanoid robot is modeled after Kannon Bodhisattva, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. The robot’s name is Mindar and it gave its first speech on the Heart Sutra, a key scripture in Buddhist teaching. The Japan Times reported that the teachings spoken by the robot offer a path to “overcome all fear, destroy all wrong perceptions and realise perfect nirvana.”

As Mindar gave its speech on the Heart Sutra and humanity, English and Chinese subtitles were projected on the wall as music played in the background.

The chief steward of the temple in Kyoto’s Higashiyama Ward Tensho Goto during a news conference said: “If an image of Buddha speaks, teachings of Buddhism will probably be easier to understand,”

He added: “We want many people to come to see the robot to think about the essence of Buddhism.”

Another official connected to the temple explained how the robot would “help people who usually have little connection with Buddhism to take an interest” in the religion.”

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Mindar was constructed by Tokyo-based A-Lab Co (Image: KyodoNews)

Mindar, which is about 195 centimeters tall and weighs 60 kilograms, was constructed by Tokyo-based A-Lab Co.

It is primarily made of aluminum, with silicone used for its face and hands.

The robot will be revealed to the public between March 8 and May 6.

Japanese researchers have been developing robots to revolutionise labour within Japan.

The humanoid robot is modeled after Kannon Bodhisattva (Image: KyodoNews)

Uses for the burgeoning technology including teaching children, comforting the sick and aged, and disposing of hazardous nuclear waste.

For instance, a robot is to be deployed by Tepco for the first contact with the melted fuel from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear disaster.

Kentaro Yoshifuji, the chief executive officer of Ory Lab, announced the development of a waiter robot at a cafe in Tokyo.

The Japanese government has already introduced robots at railway systems to monitor the areas for lost belongings or suspicious objects.

One UK Pub Closing Down Permanently Every 12 Hours in 2018, Report Shows

One UK Pub Closing Down Permanently Every 12 Hours in 2018, Report Shows

Across the UK, roughly 854 pubs closed in 2018, down from 980 in 2017. 40,683 pubs remain in business in England, with 2,901 across Wales and 3,612 in Scotland, according to the figures.

UK pubs are closing down at an alarming rate of one every 12 hours, figures from the Campaign for Real Ale revealed.

378 pubs had shut down across England, Wales, and Scotland between July and December 2018, or roughly 14 shutdowns a week, a CAMRA press release published on Monday said.

“Pubs are a very important part of our national culture and are valuable community assets which help to combat loneliness and social isolation,” CAMRA national chairman Jackie Parker said.

“It’s great we have seen a drop in the number of pubs closing and shows that our campaign to get planning protection for pubs was worth it.”

— Alastair Hilton (@London_W4) January 27, 2019

“Protecting pubs in the English planning system was a necessity and a welcome move from the Government. However, it has taken nearly two years for the trickle-down effects of the planning changes to show,” Ms. Parker added.

Ms. Parker added that Brexit would give the government the freedom to reduce Beer Duty in pubs, “levelling the playing field between the price of beer sold in social, community settings and cheap supermarket alcohol consumed at home.”

“We believe this is one of three key measures the Government needs to take urgently to halt the tide of pub closures. We want a full reviews both of the business rates system to fix the unfair amount pubs pay, and the currently ineffective legislation designed to enable pub tenants to get a fair deal from their big-business property owners — both moves the Government has promised but is yet to carry out.”

Local planning protection for pubs have helped to stave off pub closures, CAMRA stated, with pub closures falling from 18 closures a week in 2018. Regions most deeply affected by closures were Yorkshire and the Humber, as well as the Southeast, which suffered one shutdown per 100 pubs last year. The news comes after UK mainstay London Pride was sold to Japanese beermaker Asahi for £250m in a bid to save the Chiswick-based Griffen Brewery, the company’s base of operations since 1654.

Kangana will be remembered for her hardwork: Anupam Kher

Kangana will be remembered for her hardwork: Anupam Kher

(Photo: IANS)

Veteran actor Anupam Kher says National Award-winning actress Kangana Ranaut will be remembered for decades for her hard work in the Hindi film industry.

Anupam on Monday replied to a user, who was trolling Kangana for using a mechanical horse for a fight sequence in her latest release Manikarnika: The Queen Of Jhansi.

The 63-year-old replied by calling Kangana a “self-made actress”.

“How much venom this man has against a self-made actress Kangana Ranaut! This is called ‘acting’ idiot. Actors all over the world do that. That is their job. She will be remembered for decades for her hard work in movies. While you got your fifteen-minute fame by using her name,” Anupam tweeted.

Manikarnika… is based on the life journey of warrior queen Rani Laxmibai. The film also stars Ankita Lokhande, Atul Kulkarni, Jisshu Sengupta, Suresh Oberoi, and Danny Denzongpa.

Anupam is currently busy with the second season of medical drama series New Amsterdam.

It is inspired by Bellevue, the oldest public hospital in the US. The series follows the brilliant and charming doctor Max Goodwin played by actor Ryan Eggold, the institution’s newest medical director who sets out to tear up the bureaucracy and provide exceptional care.

On the Bollywood front, Anupam will be seen in a thriller titled One Day directed by Ashok Nanda.

Early results: No party secures majority in Moldova ballot

Early results: No party secures majority in Moldova ballot

Near-final results from Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Moldova showed no party secured a majority, a result that could leave the former Soviet republic in limbo between pro-Western and pro-Russia forces.

With 97 percent of the votes counted early Monday, the broadly pro-Russia opposition Socialists had 31.5 percent, while the pro-European group ACUM had 25.9 percent. The incumbent Democratic Party was trailing in third place with 24.1 percent.

The election comes as the Democratic Party’s governing alliance has lost support over rampant corruption, falling living standards and the erosion of democracy in Moldova, a small landlocked nation between Romania and Ukraine.

President Igor Dodon forecast another election in the coming months. “We have a major risk of early elections,” he said after casting his ballot.

An inconclusive outcome could lead to instability, and Dodon and pro-Europe leader Maia Sandu have warned of demonstrations if elections are found to be marred by fraud.

If lawmakers fail to form a governing coalition within 45 days of the election result, the president will dissolve the legislature and call a new vote.

More than 3 million voters were eligible to choose representatives for the next four years to the 101-seat legislature. Parties needed to win a minimum of 6 percent of the ballots to enter Parliament.

Election authorities said voter turnout was just over 49 percent when polls closed.

ACUM party leader Maia Sandu told The Associated Press that the election was “the most undemocratic in the history of Moldova.”

“A gang of thieves … has captured the state institutions” and are “scaring … threatening and impoverishing us,” Sandu said Sunday as she urged Moldovans to vote.

One voter, Svetlana Druta, said she had voted to change the judicial system.

“We need to start from the top and then (change) elementary schools and kindergartens, and then we need a good health” system, she said.

Last year, the European Parliament called Moldova “a state captured by oligarchic interests.” The European Union also froze aid to Moldova after a local court invalidated the 2018 Chisinau mayoral election on a technicality, a move to thwart the apparent victory of a pro-Europe candidate.

But Vladimir Plahotniuc, the Democratic Party chief and the country’s de facto leader, insisted Sunday that the ruling party had brought “order and discipline” through its economic policies.

Despite that claim, an estimated 1 million Moldovans have moved abroad to find jobs, mainly in the EU and Russia.

Moldova’s voting system has been changed in what critics say is a ploy to help the two main parties — the Socialists and the Democrats — carve up influence.

About 340 international observers from 38 countries monitored the ballot.

Credit : Associated Press (AP) | Photo Credit : (AP)

Yemeni Prime Minister Blames Houthis for Attacks in Violation of Peace Treaty

Yemeni Prime Minister Blames Houthis for Attacks in Violation of Peace Treaty

GENEVA (Sputnik) – Yemeni Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalek Saeed has accused the country’s rebel Houthi movement of violating the peace treaty by carrying out heavy weapon attacks in regions located far from the front line.

“The Yemeni government regards any talks as a true basis for securing peace… While the political process has been resumed, and the peace treaty has been signed… Houthi rebels carry out violent attacks, involving heavy weapons and tanks, in the Hajjah region, located far from the front line”, Saeed said at the 40th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council.

He slammed Houthis for maintaining a siege of the region and preventing locals from receiving food and medication.

“The global community and certain human rights organisations remain silent about Houthis’ attacks on peaceful regions located far from the front line, which is not a proper message for Yemeni residents. This is not an optimal way to inspire armed groups to seek peace”, Saeed added.Geneva will host the third High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen on 26 February. The international event, chaired by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, will aim to attract support for the humanitarian response in the crisis-torn country.

In December, during the first round of UN-led consultations in Sweden, the warring parties to the Yemeni conflict agreed to a ceasefire in the port city of Al Hodeidah, as well as an exchange of prisoners and establishment of humanitarian corridors in the area.

Yemen has been engulfed in a violent conflict between the government and the Houthi movement since 2015.

Suspected Bangladesh plane hijacker who was killed had toy pistol: Police

Suspected Bangladesh plane hijacker who was killed had toy pistol: Police

Bangladeshi commandoes shot the passenger who had tried to enter the cockpit of a Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight. (Photo:Twitter)

Dhaka: A Bangladeshi man who was shot dead after he tried to hijack a plane had carried a toy pistol and did not have any explosives on him, the police said on Monday.

“The pistol with the suspect was a toy pistol and he had no bomb attached to his body,” Kusum Dewan, senior police official in the southeastern city of Chittagong, told Reuters.

“He appeared to be mentally imbalanced. We heard he had a personal issue with his wife and demanded to speak to the prime minister. But we are still investigating. We don’t want to come to any conclusion right now.”

Bangladeshi commandoes shot the passenger who had tried to enter the cockpit of a Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight on Sunday after waving a gun and threatening to blow up the plane. The Dubai-bound Biman Bangladesh Airlines Flight BG-147 made an emergency landing at a coastal city in the country following the incident, officials said.

It was on its way to Dubai from Dhaka via Chattogram, landed at the Chattogram airport at around 5:40 pm.

The passenger, who had said he had a personal issue with his wife and told the pilot he wanted to speak to Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, died later from the injuries suffered after the commandos stormed the plane at Chittagong’s Shah Amanat International Airport, officials said.

Scott Morrison pledges $56m for Tasmanian interconnector in climate policy reboot

Scott Morrison pledges $56m for Tasmanian interconnector in climate policy reboot

Scott Morrison confirmed the Coalition would spend $56m on a new 1,200MW interconnector for Tasmania. Photograph: David Crosling/EPA

Scott Morrison has promised to help accelerate the construction of a new interconnector between Tasmania and the mainland, and has signalled the government will back the Snowy 2.0 expansion as part of the Coalition’s climate policy reboot.

The prime minister confirmed on Monday the government would spend $56m in an effort to progress a new 1,200MW interconnector as part of Tasmania’s “battery of the nation” project and he also sent a strong hint he will back Malcolm Turnbull’s pet project, adding 2,000MW of new generation capacity at Snowy Hydro.

The Tasmanian project is a plan to double the state’s renewable energy capacity by developing pumped hydro energy storage, building windfarms and upgrading existing generation assets. Fourteen pumped hydro sites have been earmarked across the state with a combined potential generation capacity of up to 4,800 megawatts.

Scott Morrison to reboot Tony Abbott’s emissions reduction fund with $2bn

Under the plan, renewable energy would be exported to the mainland if a planned second interconnector goes ahead.

The additional generation projects and transmission infrastructure, as well as potential action to assist the rollout of electric vehicles, were flagged during a speech in Melbourne in which Morrison promised to rebadge and top up funding for the existing emissions reduction fund to the tune of $2bn over 10 years as part of a climate policy pivot.

The prime minister, who has faced internal pressure from MPs to give them something constructive to sell to voters on climate change, said the government was committed to addressing the challenge, and insisted a package of measures will ensure Australia meets its commitments under the Paris climate agreement.

One of the measures the government has factored in to help meet the 2030 target is a 367 megatonne abatement from carry-over credits (an accounting system that allows countries to count carbon credits from exceeding their targets under the soon-to-be-obsolete Kyoto protocol periods against their Paris commitment for 2030).

The government’s policy shift was panned by Labor, the Greens, a range of climate experts and environmental groups. The shadow climate change minister, Mark Butler, said Labor would scrap the fund if it won the next federal election.

If the Coalition has had a climate epiphany, I’m Beyoncé | Katharine Murphy

“This has been their policy for the last five years, with exactly the same annual amount put into it as Scott Morrison has promised for the future, and yet we’ve seen carbon pollution go up year upon year, projected to continue to go up all the way to 2030,” Butler said on Monday. “This is a failed policy”.

Bill Hare, a climate scientist and the director of Climate Analytics, said the emissions reduction fund was “a failed policy”, with all independent analysis showing it had not reduced emissions to the extent the government claimed.

“They certainly have not shown up in the national emissions, which continue to increase,” he said.

Hare said the amount of annual funding proposed by Morrison halved what the original policy provided under Abbott. He said the government had also taken no steps to rectify problems with the scheme, including that emitters were currently able to use the safeguard mechanism to increase their emissions.

“The bigger issue is there’s no way the Australian taxpayer can pay for the emissions reductions needed, and nor should they,” Hare said.

“The polluter-pays principle needs to be applied and that means a carbon pricing system would enable companies to make an investment in their production that would benefit taxpayers and the bottom line.”

The Australian Conservation Foundation said the emissions reduction fund had done nothing to cut carbon pollution since its introduction and it was difficult to see how continuing with the same policy would lead to a different result.

“There are serious questions about the governance, effectiveness and value for money of the emissions reduction fund that a new name won’t fix,” Gavan McFadzean, the ACF’s climate change and clean energy program director, said.

“A responsible climate policy must include a whole-of-government and whole-economy approach to reducing pollution, but today’s announcement contains nothing about the energy sector or transport or agriculture or major industry – nothing about cutting pollution from the most polluting parts of our economy.”

Neneh Darwin, a campaigner at Greenpeace Australia Pacific, said topping up the fund was a choice by the government to do “as close to nothing” on climate policy as possible.

“First step in fixing the climate crisis is powering past coal – but the government is doing every single thing it can think of to delay that, including trying to actively prop up the industry by throwing as much taxpayer money at it as they can”, Darwin said.

The Investor Group on Climate Change, which has been focused on the financial risks associated with climate change, said by continuing with the same policy the government was not addressing the serious economic risks climate change exposed Australia to.

“There is a significant gap between the government’s current target and the objectives of the Paris agreement. This is of great concern for investors, as global warming above 1.5-2C would have large and detrimental impacts on global economies, society and investment portfolios,” the group’s chief executive Emma Herd said.

Herd said the government needed to close the gap between its long-term Paris commitments and the current policies urgently. She said investors were increasingly worried about climate change and would keep pushing governments to adopt policies that enabled a smooth transition to a net zero emissions economy.

“The government’s support for investigation into stronger network connection with Tasmania and large scale energy storage is important,” she said.

“This work should be undertaken in the context of the energy market operator’s Integrated System Plan and embedded within a strategy to achieve net zero emissions in the electricity sector.”

Morocco’s Princess Lalla Salma hasn’t been seen since 2017

When Morocco’s King Mohammed VI married Princess Lalla Salma in 2001, there were lavish public celebrations that broke a protocol of keeping royal wives out of sight.

But for nearly two years, there has been no trace of the mother of two, who is now regularly referred to as Morocco’s “missing” princess.

Rumours regarding her whereabouts have been swirling since she was last seen in public in late 2017, and it is widely believed the royal couple have secretly divorced.

Some believe she has remained in Morocco but has been deliberately kept hidden, while other theories argue the royal is living in exile in the US, or on a Greek island with the couple’s young daughter.

However, the palace has never released any official details, and Moroccan media do not report on the mystery.

King Mohammed VI, now 55, and Princess Lalla Salma, now 40, met at a party in 1999 and wed several years later.

The princess became the first wife of a Moroccan ruler to have been publicly acknowledged and given a royal title.

They have two children — 15-year-old Crown Prince Moulay Hassan, who is considered to be one of the “richest teenagers in the world”, and Princess Lalla Khadija, 11.

Princess Lalla Salma, whose father was a schoolteacher, studied engineering at university and worked in the industry for several months before gaining her royal role.

She publicly supported several causes, including cancer organisations HIV/AIDS prevention and the Fez Sacred Music Festival.

She has also represented her husband and country in a number of high-profile international meetings, and was a guest at Prince William and Kate Middleton’s 2011 wedding.

Morocco’s Princess Lalla Salma hasn’t been seen since 2017

It is widely believed the royals have secretly divorced. Picture: AP Photo/Moroccan government HOSource:AP

She has also been a supporter of the empowerment of women — making her disappearance from public life all the more intriguing.

Royal reporter Netty Leistra told Royal Central it was a “sad” situation.

“I think Salma had a very hard job trying to be the first visible wife of a Moroccan king. There is quite an age gap too,” she said.

“Salma did some good things and of course, gave birth to two children. I always thought she did rather well.

“I guess that if the news is correct about the divorce, they will give her a nice big house and all the money she needs so that she won’t say anything about it. But I think it is rather sad if it is true.”

Princess Lalla Salma is not the only missing royal to make headlines in recent years.

Dubai’s Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum has not been seen in public since March 2018 after secretly fleeing the conservative United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a daring escape — only to be captured by commandos soon after.

The 33-year-old daughter of Dubai’s leader, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, released an alarming video shortly before her capture warning of the dangers she faced.

“If you are watching this, it’s not such a good thing. Either I’m dead or I’m in a very, very, very bad situation.”

A handout image provided by United Arab Emirates News Agency (WAM) on December 24, 2018 shows Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum (L) having a meal with Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, at the Latifa’s home in Dubai. Picture: AFP Photo/HO/WAMSource:AFP

In December, the government of Dubai finally broke its silence to claim the princess was safe and well — despite fears she had been killed or was being drugged and held against her will — although she has not spoken publicly.

Princess Latifa’s fate seems to echo that of her older sister Shamsa, who has also not been seen in public since she attempted to flee her family’s clutches in England in 2000.

Top Democrat to Sue Justice Department if Mueller Report is Withheld

Top Democrat to Sue Justice Department if Mueller Report is Withheld

A top House Democrat says his committee will sue the Trump administration if the Justice Department withholds the Mueller report from the public.

“We will obviously subpoena the report, we will bring Bob Mueller in to testify before Congress, we will take it to court, if necessary,” Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff told ABC’s This Week program Sunday.

“We are going to get to the bottom of this. We are going to share this information with the public and if the president is serious about all of his claims of exoneration, then he should welcome the publication of this report.”

Reports say Robert Mueller is wrapping up his investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to turn the 2016 presidential election in Trump’s favor, and if the president obstructed justice in the probe.

Mueller will hand over his report to the Justice Department which, based on Mueller’s recommendations, will decide if anyone should be charged with a crime.

Attorney General William Barr failed to make it clear during his confirmation hearings whether he would release the report to the public.

But Barr said in his written testimony that he wants as much “transparency” as he can.

“If he were to try to withhold or try to bury any part of this report, that will be his legacy and it will be a tarnished legacy,” Schiff said. “So I think there will be immense pressure not only on the department, but on the attorney general to be forthcoming.”

While many Republicans also say they believe the public needs to know the whole story, Republican Senator Roy Blunt said he does not think Congress can subpoena the report.

But Blunt said “We need to get the facts out there, get this behind us in a way that people thought that anybody that should have been talked to was talked to, any question that schooled have been asked was asked.”

Credit : Voice of America (VOA)