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Pompeo Meets Saudi King On Khashoggi Case, Turks Study ‘Toxic Materials’

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RIYADH/ISTANBUL (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Saudi Arabia’s king and crown prince to discuss the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Tuesday and Turkey’s foreign minister said the envoy would bring information about the case to Ankara.

Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and leading critic of the Saudi crown prince, vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Turkish officials say they believe the Saudi journalist was murdered there and his body removed, which the Saudis strongly deny.

President Donald Trump, who dispatched Pompeo to Riyadh amid strained ties with the key ally, has speculated that “rogue killers” may be responsible after speaking with King Salman.

After talks with the king, Pompeo met Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and will see Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for a second time at a dinner. He is then expected to go to Turkey.

Overnight, Turkish crime scene investigators entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the last place Khashoggi was seen before vanishing, for the first time and searched the premises for over nine hours, Reuters witnesses said.

They will continue on Tuesday, expanding their search to include the residence of the Saudi consul as well as consulate vehicles, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, speaking to reporters in parliament, raised the possibility that parts of the consulate had been repainted since Khashoggi disappeared. “The investigation is looking into many things such as toxic materials and those materials being removed by painting them over,” he said.

The case has provoked an international outcry against the world’s top oil exporter, with media and business executives pulling out of an investment conference next week.

HSBC CEO John Flint backed out on Tuesday, as did the CEOs of Standard Chartered and Credit Suisse.

During the initial consulate search, CNN reported on Monday that Saudi Arabia was preparing to acknowledge Khashoggi’s death in a botched interrogation, after denying for two weeks any role in his disappearance.

The New York Times, citing a person familiar with the Saudi plans, reported the crown prince had approved an interrogation or abduction of Khashoggi. It said the Saudi government, which could not be reached immediately for comment on the reports, would shield the prince by blaming an intelligence official for the bungled operation.

Cavusoglu said Turkey had “not received a confession” yet from Saudi Arabia over Kashoggi’s disappearance, but added that he expected Pompeo to bring fresh information from Riyadh when he arrives in Turkey.

Turkish authorities have an audio recording indicating that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, a Turkish official and a security source have told Reuters, and have shared evidence with countries including Saudi Arabia and the United States.

CONSULATE SEARCH

Some 10 Turkish investigators left the consulate before 5 am (0200 GMT) after searching the premises overnight, and a Turkish prosecutor departed around 1-1/2 hours later, followed shortly after by a Saudi team.

Forensic vehicles took away soil samples as well as a metal door from the garden, a Reuters witness said. A police dog was part of the search team.

“The Turkish crime scene investigators carried out searches in the consulate and took the things deemed necessary,” a senior Turkish official said, after acknowledging the difficulty of collecting evidence 13 days after the alleged incident.

The U.N. human rights chief on Tuesday said immunity on diplomatic premises and officials should be lifted for the Khashoggi investigation.

Trump has threatened “severe punishment” if it turns out Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, but ruled out cancelling arms deals worth tens of billions of dollars. European allies have urged accountability for those responsible.

Many members of the U.S. Congress, which has long had a testy relationship with Saudi Arabia, have issued strong criticism of the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia has said it would retaliate against any pressure or economic sanctions “with greater action,” and Arab allies rallied to support it.

The Saudi riyal, rebounded early after falling to its lowest in two years over fears that foreign investment could shrink. Saudi stock index was down 3 percent in early Tuesday trade before it recouped some losses for a decline of 0.5 percent by 0949 GMT.

The chief executive of Clariant, which has Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) as its anchor shareholder, said rising tensions about Khashoggi could hit the Swiss speciality chemicals maker.

FAMILY STATEMENT

Khashoggi, a familiar face on Arab talk shows, moved to Washington last year fearing retribution for his criticism of Prince Mohammed, who has cracked down on dissent with arrests.

The insider never shied away from criticizing Saudi policies but gained prominence in many circles, including as an adviser to former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal.

Members of Khashoggi’s family have called for “an independent and impartial international” investigation.

Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatice Cengiz, who was waiting outside the consulate the day he disappeared, tweeted a Koranic verse warning those who kill on purpose, with the hashtag “Jamal is the Martyr of the Word”.

A pro-government Turkish daily published preliminary evidence last week from investigators who it said had identified a 15-member Saudi intelligence team that arrived in Istanbul on diplomatic passports hours before Khashoggi disappeared. One of the names matches a LinkedIn profile for a forensic expert who has worked at the Saudi Interior Ministry for 20 years.


Sourced From: Reuters: World News

 

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WORLD NEWS

Singapore Reports 931 New Coronavirus Cases, Taking Total To 13,624

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Singapore registered 931 new coronavirus infections, its health ministry said on Sunday, taking the city-state’s total number of COVID-19 cases to 13,624.

The vast majority of the new cases are migrant workers living in dormitories, the health ministry said in the statement. Fifteen of the new cases are permanent residents.

The number of new cases rose from 618 reported on Saturday.

The tiny country of 5.7 million people now has one of the highest infection rates in Asia, according to official figures, due to outbreaks in cramped dormitories housing over 300,000 mainly South Asian workers.


Sourced From: Reuters: World News

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Spain’s Kids Prepare For Freedom After Six-Week Lockdown

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Spain released guidelines on Saturday allowing children to go outside after six weeks living under one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns, as figures showed a daily coronavirus death toll of 378, up slightly on Friday’s 367, the lowest in the past month.

The total of fatalities rose to 22,902 and Spain’s Health Ministry said the overall number of coronavirus cases rose to 223,759 from 219,764 the day before.

Yet Spain sees enough evidence of the virus being under control to start easing its lockdown. Children were trying out their masks in anticipation of their first taste of fresh air since Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez declared a state of emergency on March 14.

The government said under 14s will from Sunday be allowed up to one hour of supervised outdoor activity per day between 9am and 9pm, staying within one kilometre of their home.

Adults can accompany up to three children, who will not be allowed to use playparks and must adhere to social distancing guidelines, remaining at least two metres from other people.

The government has not yet said when confinement measures will be eased for older children.

In Pineda de Mar, northeast Spain, volunteer seamstresses were hard at work making face masks for children ahead of the deconfinement measure.

“More than 100 people are making protective equipment,” the town’s mayor Xavier Amor told Reuters. “We started with masks and then we followed the demand of hospitals, health centres, and nursing homes.”

As bars and restaurants eye a gradual reopening one company is devising safety measures to encourage wary clients to return.

Leganes-based LlenaTuBar, whose name translates as fill up your bar, is fitting dining tables with clear plastic screens to protect customers and installing thermal cameras to detect any patrons with a fever.

“It’s a critical situation for the hospitality sector and if we’re locked down much longer, people will struggle to reopen their businesses,” owner Manuel Gil told Reuters.

As the economic fallout from the virus continues to build, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez reiterated calls for a pan-European response.

“The depth of the economic downturn and the risk that its effects will persist after the health emergency requires that a foundation be laid for a rapid, balanced, environmentally sustainable and socially just recovery,” Sanchez wrote in a piece for newspaper Expansion on Saturday.

The Health Ministry on Friday changed the methodology for logging cases of the virus. It will no longer count antibody tests and will only include positive results from PCR tests.

Discounting antibody tests puts Saturday’s total number of cases at 205,905 and Friday’s at 202,990.


Sourced From: Reuters: World News

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Putin Exploits Coronavirus To Justify Centralized Russian Power

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MOSCOW —The coronavirus pandemic has given Russian President Vladimir Putin a fresh opportunity to drive home for worried Russians a recurring theme of his long reign: Western liberal democracies are weak, globalism is fragile and the Russian model of centralizing power in a strong leader is superior in times of crisis.

Throughout much of the pandemic, the Kremlin leader has sought to project strength and calm, assuring his people that the spread of the new coronavirus is under control in Russia, even as it has killed 14,000 and likely more.

Sourced From: NewsPrime.Org

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Bill Gates Spends $200m On Toilet Turning Human Waste To Fertilizer

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Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates unveiled a futuristic toilet Tuesday that doesn’t need water or sewers and uses chemicals to turn human waste into fertilizer.

It is the brainchild of research projects funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s biggest private philanthropy organization.

There are multiple designs of the toilet but all work by separating liquid and solid waste, Reuters said.

“The current toilet simply sends the waste away in the water, whereas these toilets don’t have the sewer,” Gates said. “They take both the liquids and solids and do chemical work on it, including burning it in most cases.”

He compared the change from traditional toilets to waterless models as similar to development in computing around the time he founded Microsoft in the mid-1970s.

“In the way that a personal computer is sort of self-contained, not a gigantic thing, we can do this chemical processing at the household level,” he said.

Poor sanitation kills half a million children under the age of five annually and costs $ 200 billion a year in healthcare costs and lost income worldwide, according to the foundation.

Gates’ foundation has committed roughly $ 200 million to the toilet project and expects to spend the same amount again before the toilets are viable for widespread distribution.

During a speech at an event in Beijing, Gates held up a clear jar of human faeces to illustrate the importance of improving sanitation.

“It’s a good reminder that in (the jar) there could be 200 trillion rotavirus cells, 20 billion Shigella bacteria, and 100,000 parasitic worm eggs,” he said.
Gates said the next step for the project is to pitch the concept to manufacturers, saying he expects the market for the toilets to be over $ 6 billion by 2030.

The billionaire also lauded the globalized and free trade systems that made the toilet technology possible.

“I honestly believe trade allows every country to do what it’s best at,” he told Reuters in an interview. “So when I talk about components of this toilet being made in China, others in Thailand, others in the United States, you really want to be bringing together all of that IQ so that you’re getting that combination.”

 

Sourced From: Tribune

 

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