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Updated: 17 min 10 sec ago

Hurricane Maria knocks out power across Puerto Rico

23 min 7 sec ago

San Juan, Sep 21 (IANS) Hurricane Maria, the most powerful storm to make a direct hit on Puerto Rico in almost a century, has ravaged the island and knocked out electricity supply across the island, the media reported.

Governor Ricardo Rossello told CNN on Wednesday night that the entire system was down.

“Puerto Rico, which has been through a long recession and is deeply in debt, has a power grid that is a little bit old, mishandled and weak,” Rossello said.

“It depends on the damage to the infrastructure… I’m afraid it’s probably going to be severe. If it is, we’re looking at months as opposed to weeks or days.”

The Governor told CNN that at least one person was killed in the storm when a board was ripped from the house it had been nailed to by the wind and hit the victim.

“We still don’t have a lot of information… We’re virtually disconnected in terms of communications with the southeast part of the island.”

Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, a US territory with 3.3 million people, earlier on Wednesday as a category 4 storm, reports Efe news.

After moving past Puerto Rico, it has now weakened to a category 2 storm and was currently advancing towards the eastern part of the Dominican Republic with winds of up to 175 km/h, the Washington-based National Hurricane Centre (NHC) announced.

The hurricane, which made landfall in Puerto Rico on Wednesday as category 4, is located 90 km east-northeast of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and is moving toward the northwest at 19 km/h, according to the United States National Hurricane Centre (NHC).

The NHC said that Maria will continue moving towards the northwest, although a decrease in forward speed is expected through Thursday night and that a turn to the north-northwest will likely occur on Friday.

It is also expected to strengthen during the next day or two and could regain major hurricane status by later Thursday.

A hurricane warning was still in effect for Puerto Rico, Culebra and Vieques, from Cabo Engano to Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the southeastern Bahamas.

The once-major hurricane has already killed seven people after it made landfall on the Caribbean island nation of Dominica on Tuesday, said Gaston Browne, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda.

Browne said he had been communicating with the Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, who reported “widespread devastation” and whose own house was shredded by the storm.

–IANS

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Categories: India News

Ben Edlund had fun re-inventing The Tick for new show

47 min 7 sec ago

New Delhi, Sep 21 (IANS) The Tick creator Ben Edlund says it was “pretty incredible” to revisit his creation for a live-action series with the same name for Amazon Prime Video.

“It was pretty incredible to have something like this happen again. I have now done four distinct versions of this idea like in cartoons, previous broadcast television show and now this live action show for Amazon Prime Video,” Edlund told IANS over phone from Sydney.

Edlund created the big blue superhero The Tick in 1986, and is now acting as an executive producer of the Amazon Prime Video show.

Talking about the recreating the superhero for different mediums, he said: “It has really been a unique journey with an opportunity to invent and then re-invent this character, and sort of work on different way of presenting it. It has been an unusual opportunity that I treasure.”

–IANS

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Categories: India News

Mexico earthquake toll increases to 230

53 min 4 sec ago

Mexico City, Sep 21 (IANS) The number of confirmed deaths as a result of the magnitude-7.1 earthquake that rocked Mexico on Tuesday stands at 230, officials said.

People affected by Tuesday’s temblor are already receiving medical assistance and material support, President Enrique Pena Nieto said during a visit to the hardest-hit municipality, Efe news reported on Wednesday.

“Let us remain calm. The important thing today is that many of you have been delivered to safety,” he said Wednesday in Jojutla, Morelos state.

The government’s priority is providing “immediate attention” to those who need it, but officials are ready to begin a detailed survey of the damage in preparation for providing aid to people who lost their homes, he said.

“I am here to make a commitment of support from the government,” Pena Nieto said.

Non-stop rescue efforts continued Wednesday to locate survivors amid the rubble of buildings toppled by the quake.

Three days of national mourning have been declared, but the mood on the street is less of sorrow than of determination to find survivors, bury the dead and quickly begin the task of rebuilding after the powerful temblor, which struck central Mexico on the 32-year anniversary of the catastrophic 1985 earthquake that caused 20,000 deaths.

At least 39 buildings were completely destroyed in Mexico City, Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said.

Thirty other buildings in the capital sustained serious damage, while 209 schools were affected and at least 500 of them need to be inspected after the earthquake, whose epicenter was located in Morelos at a spot 120 km from Mexico City.

Amid the search for potential survivors, a thick silence reigns whenever someone hears a sound or when a rescue dog shows indication that a person might be buried amid the wreckage of a building.

“A girl named Frida communicated via WhatsApp with her mother last night and told her where she was so they could find her” under the rubble, volunteer Maria Elena Villaseñor told Efe news on Wednesday from Enrique Rebsamen School.

Tragedy struck at that educational facility on the capital’s south side, where 32 students and five adults are already confirmed to have perished and the death toll is expected to rise further.

A total of 14 survivors have been found at the school, while a score of people are estimated to be trapped under the rubble, according to official figures.

The rescue effort is focused mainly on the capital because the buildings in nearby states are generally shorter and were housing fewer people at the time of the earthquake.

No individuals are officially reported missing under the rubble, although tragedy struck in different parts of the state, most notably at a church that collapsed during a baptism ceremony and killed 11 people, including four minors.

The rescue phase also has concluded in Morelos, according to Governor Graco Ramirez, who has ordered five days of mourning and said that 15 people had been hospitalized with serious injuries.

Amid the still-unfolding tragedy, thousands of people have taken to the streets in displays of altruism, buying food, water and other basic items and helping distribute them to those affected by the earthquake and rescue teams or forming human chains to help remove the rubble of collapsed buildings.

But the massive relief effort also has prompted fears that the flow of aid to the hundreds of thousands of people affected by the powerful September 7 earthquake, which was centred off Mexico’s southern coast and battered a less heavily populated area, will immediately evaporate.

Government Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio, however, said in a television interview that no troops would be withdrawn from stricken areas in southern Mexico and that a contingent of 24,000 federal personnel, including members of the army and navy, would remain in the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas.

“We’ve still got an emergency there,” he said of the fallout from that magnitude-8.2 earthquake, the most powerful to strike Mexico in 85 years.

–IANS

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Categories: India News

Fresh n-talks with US ‘waste of time’: Iran

53 min 5 sec ago

Tehran, Sep 21 (IANS) Iran has ruled out talks with the US on revisiting a 2015 nuclear accord as “waste of time”, the media reported.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday ruled out talks with U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration on revisiting a 2015 nuclear accord and said Tehran had “various options” if Washington pulls out, Xinhua reported citing IRNA.

“An American government that chooses to trample on her legal and legitimate international commitments, a conversation with such a government would be a waste of time,” Rouhani told reporters on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said there was no question of reopening negotiations, a day after Trump called the accord an “embarrassment”.

Rouhani said that Iran had “various options” including “the removal of obstacles” if the US pulls out of the agreement.

“Iran has never sought, is not now seeking and will never seek nuclear weapons,” he said.

The dispute centers on uranium enrichment, which Iran says is for civilian use but critics led by Israel say is intended to build nuclear weapons.

–IANS

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Categories: India News

Trump praises Africa’s potential, says friends go there to become rich

53 min 6 sec ago

New York, Sep 21 (IANS) US President Donald Trump has emphasized in a meeting with African leaders the “business potential” of their continent, noting that he knows that because “so many” of his friends go there “to get rich”.

“Africa has tremendous business potential,” Trump said in his address on Wednesday during a working luncheon in New York with the leaders of Uganda, South Africa, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana and Ethiopia, Efe news reported.

“I have so many friends going to your countries trying to get rich, I congratulate you. They are spending a lot of money. But it does, it has tremendous business potential,” he added.

Trump also created controversy on Twitter when he mistakenly pronounced Namibia as “Nambia” during his speech as he was emphasizing that country’s healthcare system, which he said is becoming more self-sufficient.

The President also announced that soon the US United Nations ambassador, Nikki Haley, will travel to Africa to discuss conflict resolution and prevention and, in particular, the violence in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Trump also emphasized Washington’s collaboration with African nations to fight terrorism, saying that he was “proud to work with you to eradicate terrorist safe havens, to cut off their finances and to discredit their depraved ideology, and a number of you have told me.”

After the luncheon, Trump also met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Egyptian leader Abdel Fatah el-Sisi.

–IANS

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Categories: India News

Trump calls Mexican president after deadly earthquake

57 min 7 sec ago

Washington, Sep 21 (IANS) US President Donald Trump has spoken by phone with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto as Mexico recovers from a powerful earthquake that hit the country on Tuesday.

Trump on Wednesday offered search-and-rescue assistance to Mexican authorities and said teams are already on the way, according to the White House, The Hill reported.

“The President also pledged to continue close coordination with Mexico as the two countries respond to the recent earthquakes and hurricanes,” the White House said in a statement.

The call came one day after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake rocked Mexico City and the surrounding area, killing over 200 people.

Mexican authorities were irked that Trump did not immediately contact Pena Nieto earlier this month after the country suffered an 8.1 magnitude earthquake, the second strongest recorded in its history.

Trump later blamed the six-day delay on poor cellphone reception in Mexico.

The president has offered a quick response following the earthquake this week.

“God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday.

–IANS

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Categories: India News

Rouhani fights back at Trump over nuclear deal

1 hour 25 min ago

United Nations, Sep 21 (IANS) Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country will preserve an international deal on Iran’s nuclear program but decisive response would be made to possible violation by the US.

“I declare before you that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not be the first country to violate the agreement. But it will respond decisively and resolutely to its violation by any party,” Rouhani told the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, Xinhua news agency reported.

The statement was in a clear response to US President Donald Trump’s threat that Washington may pull out of the deal spearheaded by his predecessor Barack Obama. The deal was reached in July 2015 between Tehran and the six world powers of Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US.

“It will be a great pity if this agreement were to be destroyed by rogue newcomers to the world of politics,” said Rouhani, throwing the word “rogue” back to Trump, who on Tuesday called Iran a “rogue” state and the Iran nuclear deal “an embarrassment”.

Rouhani said Trump’s “ignorant, absurd and hateful rhetoric filled with ridiculously baseless allegations” and was unfit to be heard at the United Nations, which was established to promote peace and respect between nations.

He reiterated that the defense capabilities of Iran, including its missiles, are solely defensive deterrence and that his country had never intended to acquire nuclear weapons.

–IANS

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Categories: India News

US dollar surges after Fed policy statement

1 hour 45 min ago

New York, Sep 21 (IANS) The US dollar jumped against most other major currencies as the Federal Reserve announced start of balance sheet reduction from October.

In late New York trading on Wednesday, the euro fell to $1.1895 dollars from 1.1998 dollars in the previous session, and the British pound lost to $1.3485 from $1.3523 in the previous session, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Australian dollar rose to $0.8016 from $0.8012.

The US dollar bought 112.27 Japanese yen, higher than 111.46 yen of the previous session.

The US dollar increased to 0.9698 Swiss franc from 0.9625 Swiss franc, and it moved up to 1.2357 Canadian dollars from 1.2272 Canadian dollars.

The US Federal Reserve on Wednesday kept interest rates unchanged, but announced that it will start to unwind its $4.5 trillion balance sheet from October, a further step to end the loose monetary policy.

“Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in July indicates that the labor market has continued to strengthen and that economic activity has been rising moderately so far this year,” said the Fed in a statement released after its two-day monetary policy meeting.

The central bank said Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maris were expected to affect US economy in the near term, while they would not alter the course of the economy in the medium term.

Fed officials continue to expect that the US economy will expand at a moderate pace in the future.

On the economic front, the National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday that existing home sales decreased 1.7 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.35 million units last month. That was the lowest level since August 2016.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major peers, increased 0.83 per cent at 92.558 in late trading.

–IANS

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Categories: India News

Ashley Graham’s husband prefers her without make-up

1 hour 57 min ago

London, Sep 21 (IANS) Model Ashley Graham’s husband prefers her without any make-up on, which is why she was not fazed when she had to go bare faced on the ramp.

The 29-year-old plus-sized model graced the runway for designer Michael Kors’ Spring/Summer 2018 fashion show during New York Fashion Week without any cosmetic products on her face. Graham says it was not unusual to her because her partner Justin Ervin “likes” it when she goes au naturel, reports people.com.

“That’s how my husband likes me — without any make-up,” said Graham.

Graham maintains her complexion by staying hydrated and undergoing oxygen facials “twice a month”.

She said: “I drink lots of water. I know everyone says it but it’s real. And Mzia Shiman. She does oxygen facials — she’s amazing. I go twice a month.”–IANS

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UN chief prioritises politics in peacekeeping reform

2 hours 21 min ago

United Nations, Sep 21 (IANS) UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said politics must be prioritised in the reform of UN peacekeeping operations.

Addressing a UN Security Council meeting on the reform of UN peacekeeping on Wednesday, the UN chief said that he has proposed a four-point initiative to reform the peacekeeping operations, Xinhua news agency reported.

“First, we must recognize the ‘primacy of politics’ so that peace operations are deployed in support of active diplomatic efforts, not as a substitute,” he said.

Guterres said his proposals for the Secretariat peace and security architecture “seek to strengthen the link between political strategies and operations — and between peace and security and the development and human rights pillars of our work.”

Turning to other reform initiatives, Guterres said that peace operations “should be properly equipped,” adding that “more mobility, better equipment, enhanced training and intelligence would allow us to do a better job and eventually with smaller numbers.”

The third point of the reform package is that peace operations “must embody UN values,” he said.

“Since the earliest days of my tenure, I have sent strong signals of my determination to stamp out sexual exploitation and abuse,” he said.

“In one important sign of progress, Member States are now certifying, prior to deployment, that none of their personnel has a history of misconduct or human rights violations,” he noted.

Speaking of gender parity, the secretary-general said that he is “making a push for more female officers and troops in our operations.”

“More women in peacekeeping means more effective peacekeeping,” he said.

He also stressed the importance of building “stronger partnerships,” noting the Joint United Nations-African Union Framework for Enhanced Partnership on peace and security signed in April of this year is “a crucial step.”

“We need to take profit of the complementarity that needs to exist between the UN and regional and other organizations,” he added.

Fifty-five peacekeeping operations “have successfully completed their mandates across the years and across the globe,” said Guterres.

–IANS

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Categories: India News

Michael Kors desperate to style Queen Elizabeth II

2 hours 51 min ago

London, Sep 21 (IANS) Designer Michael Kors is desperate to dress Queen Elizabeth II because he thinks she will look “aplomb” in any outfit she adorns.

Kors, 58, who founded his label in 1981, thinks the 91-year-old queen is the “ultimate person” he would love to style, because he believes she can pull off any outfit effortlessly, reports femalefirst.co.uk.

Speaking to Harper’s Bazaar magazine, Kors said: “She would be my ultimate person to be able to dress. To pull it off with such aplomb, it’s amazing.”

The designer has a long list of celebrity clientele including Kate Hudson and Jennifer Lawrence and believes “consistency” with a person’s wardrobe choices is what defines a person’s style.

“She has total understanding of her life, her needs, what’s the best part to show off… I love the consistency, I think it’s brilliant. As the end of the day, consistency is what becomes style versus just fashion,” said Kors.

–IANS

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Categories: India News

US Fed announces plan of $4.5 trillion balance sheet reduction

3 hours 33 min ago

Washington, Sep 21 (IANS) The US Federal Reserve has kept its interest rate unchanged but announced that it would start unwinding its $4.5 trillion balance sheet from October, a further step to end the loose monetary policy.

“Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in July indicates that the labor market has continued to strengthen and that economic activity has been rising moderately so far this year,” said the Fed in a statement after concluding its two-day monetary policy on Wednesday, Xinhua news agency reported.

The central bank expected the Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maris to affect US economy in the near term, but would not alter the course of the economy in the medium term.

Fed officials continue to expect the US economy to expand at a moderate pace in the future.

According to the Fed’s economic projections which were released on Wednesday, Fed officials expected the US economy to grow 2.4 per cent this year, higher than their forecast of 2.2 per cent in June.

The projections showed that Fed officials continued to expect one more rate hike this year. The central bank raised interest rates twice this year, in March and June respectively. Previously, market expects the Fed might raise interest rate again in December.

Analysts widely believed that inflation developments will determine the timing of next rate hike.

“This year, the short fall of inflation from two per cent… is more of a mystery,” said Fed chairwoman Janet Yellen at press conference on Wednesday.

In July, the core personal consumption expenditure (PCE) index, Fed’s favor inflation indicator, rose only 1.4 per cent year on year, below Fed’s two percent target and also lower than the 1.9 per cent in January.

According to Fed officials’ projections, the core PCE index is expected to rise 1.5 per cent this year and 1.9 per cent next year, lower than the 1.7 per cent and 2 per cent forecasts in June.

–IANS

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Categories: India News

Zayn ‘funks up’ my look: Gigi Hadid

4 hours 11 min ago

Los Angeles, Sep 21 (IANS) Model Gigi Hadid says her boyfriend and singer Zayn Malik inspires her to “funk up” her look and convinces her to wear what makes her happy.

Hadid, 22, says she would not don any designer labels during her younger years, reports femalefirst.co.uk.

“He inspires me a lot to funk it up and wear what makes me happy. When I was younger I never owned any designer clothes. I rode horses, I was at the farm all day. But I loved photographers and images, that’s what I fell in love with. I fell in love with how a model could bring life to a picture and not only be a part of it but make it something else,” Hadid said on a radio channel.

“I think once I got older I started watching the Victoria’s Secret show on TV and that’s when I would practice my walk during commercial breaks,” she added.

Hadid counts her mother, former model Yolanda Hadid, 53, as one of her biggest inspirations in the industry, and has thanked her for not “sugar-coating” the profession.

She said: “My mother taught me a lot about the industry and never sugar-coated it. She always said, ‘If you’re not the nicest, most hard-working person in the industry there is going to be someone prettier, nicer and more hard-working.’ “

–IANS

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Categories: India News

Three-day mourning in Mexico for quake victims

4 hours 27 min ago

Mexico City, Sep 21 (IANS) Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has decreed three days of national mourning for the victims of the powerful quake that killed over 200 people and toppled buildings in central Mexico on Tuesday.

The office of the presidency made the announcement on Twitter on Wednesday, saying it was “to honour” the more than 200 known fatal victims of the 7.1-magnitude quake, Xinhua news agency reported.

Previously, Pena Nieto announced three days of national mourning for the victims of the 8.2-magnitude quake that hit southern Mexico on September 7, killing nearly 100 people, mainly in the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca.

The death toll from Tuesday’s quake is gradually rising as rescue workers in the capital Mexico City, where 38 buildings collapsed, retrieve bodies from the rubble, and authorities assess damage in surrounding states, including Morelos, Puebla and Mexico State.

Mexico City authorities said 93 people have been confirmed dead in the capital.

“That is the official figure that we have,” Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera told reporters at a press conference.

Some 52 survivors have been rescued from the rubble, he said.

Many city hospitals are providing treatment free of charge to the injured, and the subway system is free to encourage people to leave their cars at home, freeing up the roads for emergency vehicles, and allow volunteers to get about easily.

The head of the national civil protection agency, Luis Felipe Puente, adjusted the total number of deaths at 223 on Wednesday afternoon.

The first quake was reported to be the strongest to hit Mexico in nearly 100 years, and the second, the strongest to hit Mexico City in 30 years.

Tuesday’s quake struck on the 32nd anniversary of a devastating 1985 temblor that killed thousands in Mexico City.

According to scientists, the country sits above five active tectonic plates, making it highly quake prone.

–IANS

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Categories: India News

Linda Hamilton signs up for new ‘Terminator’ movie

5 hours 5 min ago

Los Angeles, Sep 21 (IANS) Actress Linda Hamilton will be returning for the reboot of the film “Terminator”, announced the scriptwriter of the film James Cameron.

The filmmaker broke the news at a private event, celebrating the 33-year-old franchise.

“As meaningful as she was to gender and action stars everywhere back then, it’s going to make a huge statement to have that seasoned warrior that she’s become return,” said Cameron, reports hollywoodreporter.com.

Cameron hopes to once again make a statement on gender roles in action movies with Hamilton’s return.

“There are 50-year-old, 60-year-old guys out there killing bad guys, but there isn’t an example of that for women,” he said.

Hamilton, who is famously known for her portrayal of Sarah Connor in the first “Terminator” film (1984), last starred in a “Terminator” instalment in the sequel, “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1991) which was directed by Cameron. She also provided the voice of Sarah Connor in 2009’s “Terminator Salvation”.

Cameron also revealed that actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who starred in the original trilogy and 2015’s “Terminator Genisys”, would be involved in the new trilogy “to some extent,” but the plan would be to introduce new characters to “pass the baton.”

The film will be directed by Tim Miller.

–IANS

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Categories: India News

California to sue Trump administration over US-Mexico border wall

5 hours 17 min ago

Washington, Sep 21 (IANS) California Attorney General Xavier Becerra plans to announce a lawsuit on behalf of the state that will challenge US President Donald Trump’s proposal to build a wall at the US-Mexico border.

Becerra, who has called the project “medieval”, is scheduled to travel to Border Field State Park near San Diego to announce that a lawsuit is being filed in federal court over construction of border wall projects in San Diego and Imperial counties, the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday.

The lawsuit, which includes the California Coastal Commission as a plaintiff, states its purpose is “to protect the State of California’s residents, natural resources, economic interests, procedural rights, and sovereignty from violations of the United States Constitution” and federal law.

It adds that the wall would have a chilling effect on tourism to the US from Mexico.

The state’s lawsuit alleges that the Trump administration has failed to comply with federal and state environmental laws and relied on federal statutes that don’t authorize the proposed projects.

The brief alleges the federal government violated the US constitution’s separation-of-powers doctrine “by vesting in the Executive Branch the power to waive state and local laws, including state criminal law”.

The lawsuit also says the Department of Homeland Security decided to build the walls without complying with the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

As a result, the lawsuit alleges, the federal government lacks proper environmental analysis of the impact of 400-foot prototypes of the wall currently planned, as well as the 2,000-mile-long final wall.

The Democratic attorney general has been critical of the wall for months, including in April during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.”

“I’m still trying to figure out who believes that a medieval situation to fix our broken immigration system is what we need,” Becerra said.

He also accused Trump at the time of reneging on his promise to have Mexico pay for the wall.

“I think American taxpayers probably are very much aligned with Mexico. None of them, whether it’s Mexico or our taxpayers, wants to pay for a medieval wall,” he said.

This is the latest of more than two dozen lawsuits and legal briefs filed against the Trump administration by Becerra, who was appointed attorney general in January and is running for election to the post next year.

He previously sued to challenge Trump’s plans to end a program that protects young immigrants from deportation, ban immigration from some countries and roll back environmental laws.

Becerra’s lawsuit is the latest attempt by California Democrats to fight the wall proposal. A bill that would have banned state government contracts for any company that helps build the wall passed the state Senate, but stalled recently in an Assembly committee.

–IANS

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Categories: India News

Swaraj, Afghan President Ghani discuss boosting strategic partnership

6 hours 24 min ago

New York, Sep 21 (IANS) India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani discussed on Wednesday ways to boost strategic partnership between the two nations.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a tweet, “Boosting strategic partnership with a special friend, EAM @SushmaSwaraj calls on Afghanistan President @ashrafghani.”

Swaraj visited Ghani at his hotel for the meeting.

The meeting follows a visit to Delhi by Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani earlier this month.

At that meeting, both countries had agreed to promote a new development partnership and undertake 116 projects in Afghanistan.

Rabbani, according to media reports, asked India to expedite the construciton of the Chhabahar port it is building in Iran to provide landlocked Afghanistan an outlet to the world using the Indian-built Delaram-Zaranj highway to the Iran border.

He also asked India to expand expand the air corridor established earlier this year between the two countries.

Rabbani’s visit came after US President Donald Trump asked India “to help us more with Afghanistan”.

In an address to the nation in August laying out his new policy for Afghanistan, where the US has been bogged down in a 16-year war, Trump said that a “critical part of the South Asia strategy for America is to further develop its strategic partnership with India — the world’s largest democracy and a key security and economic partner of the US.”

Since 2001, India has pledged aid worth $3.1 billion to Afghanistan.

Among projects to be undertaken are the Shatoot dam, water supply for Kabul and Charikar, and housing for returning refugees.

A show-case project is the parliament built by India and another is building major highways, both built in the face of Taliban attacks.

India has also given Afghanistan military helicopters — and General John Nicholson, the US commander in Afghanistan, has said that country could do with more of them and other military supplies.

–IANS

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Categories: India News

Road trips are amazing: Shenaz Treasury

6 hours 24 min ago

Mumbai, Sep 21 (IANS) Actress Shenaz Treasury says she likes to go on road trips as she gets to “see the true India from a street level”.

“Road trips are amazing, because you get to see the true India from a street level and interact with people from different states that have so much pride in their local heritage, food and customs. It’s the type of experience that makes me fall in love with India all over again,” Shenaz said in a statement.

The actress, who has collaborated with Ola and Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation for a campaign to promote responsible tourism, says her life has “become a series of planes, trains and automobiles”.

“My life has become a series of planes, trains and automobiles with some occasional downtime at a hotel. A week ago I finally packed up my New York home in two days, shipping a few select items back to India, selling all of my electronic appliances and giving away the rest to friends and neighbours,” she added.

As a part of the campaign, Shenaz will embark on a road trip that spans across seven states, 14 days, and 21 lesser-known locations across the country.

“I’m exhausted and exhilarated at the same time… What better way to come home to India after spending seven years abroad, than to fully immerse myself in this rich and vibrant country through a road trip. I’m sure I’ll sleep for a week when it’s all said and done but the memories will last me a lifetime,” she added.

On the film front, the actress will next be seen in the film “Kaalakaandi” alongside Saif Ali Khan.

–IANS

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Selena Gomez being eyed as ‘American Idol’ judge

7 hours 21 min ago

Los Angeles, Sep 21 (IANS) Singer Selena Gomez is reportedly being eyed as a judge along with singer Katy Perry for the singing reality show “American Idol”.

“Producers think that Selena would be great to join the judging panel because she would bring in a younger crowd for ratings. She’d be considered the nice judge and they would love her to join because the impact she has with social media,” a source told hollywoodlife.com.

“They are putting together a proposal for her and are hoping she will accept it and join the show, it’s a long shot but they are taking the chance to get her. They’d love to have her signed up and all judges by mid October,” the source added.

Previously, reality TV star Kim Kardashian West was being considered to serve as one of the judges on the show as returning host Ryan Seacrest thought she would make a good addition.

Other celebrities rumoured to be the frontrunners for the show are Lionel Richie, Charlie Puth, Luke Bryan and Keith Urban.

–IANS

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Categories: India News

India will better its 175 GW clean energy target: Official

8 hours 19 min ago

Greater Noida, Sep 21 (IANS) India can surpass its target of installing 175 gigawatt (GW) of renewable energy capacity by 2022, and plans to bring offshore wind energy and large hydro-electric projects under the ambit of renewable energy towards realising this, a senior official has said.

“With prices of solar and wind coming down, we are confident that we will not only achieve the 175 GW target, but will also exceed it,” New and Renewable Energy Secretary Anand Kumar said at the Renewable Energy India Expo here on Wednesday.

“Renewable energy is the only way to meet energy demand of 1.25 billion people in the country. It offers an opportunity to build a new low-carbon energy world. Harnessing it will make India an energy-independent economy,” he said.

“Today, we are contemplating bringing large hydro also under the definition of renewable power. We are also contemplating to exploit our offshore wind potential,” he added.

Stressing on the need to focus on solar manufacturing in the country, Kumar said the government is considering a policy that will make it mandatory for power plants to generate a certain portion of their output from renewables.

“The key challenge is how should we enable higher energy consumption in India, at a cost people are willing to pay,a he told reporters on the sidelines of the conference here.

–IANS

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