• Pakistan grounds 262 airline pilots with 'dubious' credentials
    ISLAMABAD, June 27 (Reuters): Pakistan is grounding 262 airline pilots suspected of dodging their exams following inquiries into their qualifications, the aviation minister said on Friday in a move that has caused global concern.   The action was prompted by the preliminary report on an airliner crash in Karachi last month, which found that the pilots had failed to follow standard procedures and disregarded alarms.   Ninety-seven people were killed in that cr
  • Irish coalition deal approved to end political deadlock
    DUBLIN, June 27 (Reuters): Ireland's two dominant centre-right parties and the smaller Green Party agreed on Friday to form a new coalition government that will focus on climate action and end four months of political stalemate.   Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin is set to be elected prime minister on Saturday, replacing Fine Gael's Leo Varadkar, in a deal that for the first time unites the two rival parties that have dominated Irish politics since
  • Planets around nearby star are intriguing candidates for extraterrestrial life
    WASHINGTON, June 27 (Reuters): Up to three planets - potentially rocky like Earth - have been spotted around a star located relatively near our solar system - a planetary system offering astronomers intriguing possibilities in the search for signs of extraterrestrial life.   The planets orbit Gliese 887, a so-called red dwarf star half the sun's mass located 11 light years from Earth - right in our backyard in cosmic terms, researchers said on Friday. A light year i
  • Russia offered Afghan militants bounties to kill U.S. troops - New York Times
    WASHINGTON, June 27 (Reuters): U.S. intelligence has concluded that the Russian military offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants in Afghanistan to kill American troops and other coalition forces, the New York Times reported on Friday.   Citing officials briefed on the matter, the Times said the United States determined months ago that a Russian military intelligence unit linked to assassination attempts in Europe had offered rewards for successful attacks last year
  • Beijing issues fresh guidelines on COVID-19 prevention
    Beijing, June 27 (IANS): Beijing on Saturday issued fresh guidelines on COVID-19 containment, calling on its residents to continue to wear masks, maintain social distancing and wash hands frequently in the wake of a fresh outbreak in the Chinese capital's wholesale food market.   Masks have been made compulsory in hospitals, crowded scenic spots and public transports, according to Beijing's disease control and prevention centre.   The guidelines stipulate
  • US finalizing plan to pull 4,000 troops from Afghanistan: Report
    Kabul/Washington, June 27 (IANS): The US is close to finalizing a decision to withdraw more than 4,000 troops from Afghanistan as per the Washington-Taliban deal, a media report said on Saturday.   Almost a week ago, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, head of the US Central Command, said Washington has reduced its troop level to 8,600 in Afghanistan, fulfilling the first phase of the planned withdrawal specified in the the deal the country signed with the Taliban in Doha on February 29.
  • Israeli warplanes strike Hamas facilities in Gaza
    Jerusalem, June 27 (IANS): Israeli warplanes carried out air strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in response to a rocket attack, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said on Saturday.   Hours after two rockets were fired into southern Israel, IDF aircraft conducted an airstrike late Friday against a rocket manufacturing workshop and a weapons manufacturing facility, Xinhua news agency quoted the IDF as saying in a staement.   There were no immediate reports from
  • Global COVID-19 cases top 9.7mn: Johns Hopkins University
    Washington, June 27 (IANS) The overall number of global COVID-19 cases has topped 9.7 million, while the deaths were nearing 500,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University.   As of Saturday morning, the total number of cases stood at 9,776,963, while the fatalities increased to 493,609, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.   With 2,467,658 cases and 125,046 deaths, the US continues with the world
  • U.S. imposes visa restrictions on Chinese officials over Hong Kong autonomy
    WASHINGTON, June 26 (Reuters): U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday the United States was imposing visa restrictions on Chinese Communist Party officials believed responsible for restricting freedoms in Hong Kong.   "Today, I am announcing visa restrictions on current and former CCP officials who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy," Pompeo said in a statement, which did not n
  • AstraZeneca, Moderna ahead in COVID-19 vaccine race - WHO
    GENEVA, June 26 (Reuters): AstraZeneca's experimental COVID-19 vaccine is probably the world's leading candidate and most advanced in terms of development, the World Health Organization's (WHO) chief scientist said on Friday.   The British drugmaker has already begun large-scale, mid-stage human trials of the vaccine, which was developed by researchers at University of Oxford.   This week, AstraZeneca signed its tenth supply-and-manufacturing deal.
  • Mexico City police chief shot and injured in assassination attempt
    MEXICO CITY, June 26 (Reuters): Mexico City's chief of police was shot and injured in an assassination attempt early on Friday morning when gunmen set upon him in an upscale neighborhood of the capital, killing two of his bodyguards, authorities said.   Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said on Twitter that public security chief Omar Garcia Harfuch was "out of danger" following the attack at around 6.30 a.m., which shocked residents of the Lomas de Chapu
  • Armed attacks in Mexico's Sinaloa state leave 16 dead
    CULIACAN, Mexico, June 26 (Reuters): Two armed attacks in the violence-plagued western Mexican state of Sinaloa, home of notorious drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, have left 16 people dead, the head of the state's public security ministry said on Thursday.   Security forces found the bodies of seven supposed cartel hitmen on a dirt road, strewn next to a bullet-riddled pickup truck, apparent victims of a shootout.   "There are seven bod
  • Siberian heat wave is a 'warning cry' from the Arctic, climate scientists say
    LONDON/GENEVA, June 26 (Reuters): Pine trees are bursting into flames. Boggy peatlands are tinderbox dry. And towns in northern Russia are sweltering under conditions more typical of the tropics.     Reports of record-breaking Arctic heat – registered at more than 100 Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) in the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk on June 20 – are still being verified by the World Meteorological Organization. But even without that confirmation, experts at t
  • WHO-led coalition says $31.3 billion needed for tools to fight COVID-19
    LONDON/GENEVA, June 26 (Reuters): A World Health Organization-led coalition fighting the COVID-19 pandemic is asking government and private sector donors to help raise $31.3 billion in the next 12 months to develop and deliver tests, treatments and vaccines for the disease.   Renewing its call on Friday for global collaboration against the pandemic, it said $3.4 billion had been contributed for the coalition to date, leaving a funding gap of $27.9 billion. Of that, $13.
  • Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong says he will be 'prime target' of new security law
    HONG KONG, June 26 (Reuters): Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong believes he will be a "prime target" of Beijing's move to impose national security legislation on the Chinese-ruled city that critics say will crush its much coveted freedoms.   The law aims to tackle separatism, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, although it is unclear what activities would constitute such crimes and what the punishment would be.   Wong
  • Mexican president slammed after comments on women staying at home
    MEXICO CITY, June 26 (Reuters): Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Thursday suggested the tradition of women staying at home to take care of older family members was key to battling the coronavirus pandemic, sparking criticism his comments were sexist.   This is not the first time the 66-year-old leader has been accused of making tone-deaf comments and lacking empathy towards women.   "People want to change women's role and that is one
  • Indonesian fishermen rescue nearly 100 Rohingya refugees in Aceh
    SEUNUDDON, Indonesia, June 26 (Reuters): Indonesian fishermen rescued nearly 100 Rohingya refugees, including 79 women and children, in Aceh province after officials said they were planning to push them back out to sea.   Countries around Southeast Asia have grown increasingly reluctant to accept refugee boats as they battle the novel coronavirus, but the Acehnese fishermen told Reuters that rescuing the Rohingya was a moral duty.   "It is nothing more t
  • Trump administration asks Supreme Court to axe Obamacare
    Reuters   President Donald Trump's administration has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate the Obamacare law introduced by his predecessor that added millions to the healthcare safety net but has been a major political controversy.   Government advocate Noel Francisco argued in a filing late on Thursday that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) - one of former President Barack Obama's signature achievements - became invalid after the previous, Republican-le
  • Malaysia can't take any more Rohingya refugees, PM says
    KUALA LUMPUR, June 26 (Reuters): Malaysia can no longer take in Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Friday, citing a struggling economy and dwindling resources as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic.   Muslim-majority Malaysia has long been a favoured destination for Rohingya seeking a better life after fleeing a 2017 military-led crackdown in Myanmar and refugee camps in Bangladesh.   But Malaysia, which does
  • Dead dolphins wash up on France's shores in record numbers
    CANCALE, France, June 26 (Reuters): Dead dolphins are washing up on France's Atlantic coast in such high numbers that local populations of the mammals are at risk, marine biologists say.   The overwhelming majority drowned in the nets of fishing trawlers. Post mortems often show fractures, broken tails and flippers and deep incisions cut into their skin by the nets. Some have been mutilated as fishermen release their bodies.   "We're reaching mor