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Wednesday,04-August-2021

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US government lab in 2020 concluded Covid-19 leaked from Wuhan: Report

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Medical-workers

The US government’s national laboratory had in a 2020 report on the origins of Covid-19 concluded that the virus leaked from a Chinese lab in Wuhan, the Wall Street Journal said on Monday citing people familiar with the classified document.

The study prepared in May 2020 by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California said that “the hypothesis claiming the virus leaked from a Chinese lab in Wuhan is plausible and deserves further investigation”, WSJ reported.

The study, dated May 27 was also used by the State Department in its own inquiry into the pandemic’s origins in October last year, during the Trump administration.

Lawrence Livermore’s “Z Division” drew its assessment based on genomic analysis of the SARS-COV-2 virus, which causes Covid19, the WSJ report said, adding that the national laboratory has declined to comment on the study.

The virus was initially thought to have first transmitted to humans via an infected animal, but the study differed from the dominant view.

The findings of the US State Department’s probe into the pandemic’s origins were made public in a January 15 fact sheet. It listed a series of circumstantial reasons why the Covid-19 outbreak might have originated as a result of a lab accident.

They include the assertion that “the US government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV (Wuhan Institute of Virology) became sick in autumn 2019” with symptoms that were consistent with Covid-19 or a seasonal flu, the report said.

The assertion is partly based on a US intelligence report that three WIV researchers became sick enough in November 2019 that they sought hospital care.

The Lawrence Livermore’s study is attracting fresh interest after US President Joe Biden, last month, ordered the intelligent community to re-double efforts to examine how the virus originated, including the lab accident theory. He has asked the agencies to report to him within 90 days on how the virus emerged.

China has, on the other hand, dismissed the Wuhan lab leak theory as “extremely impossible” and has accused the US of “political manipulation”.

International News

India and China militaries hold talks to resolve border dispute

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India and China Flags.

The twelfth round of top commanders-level talks between India and China are underway at Moldo on the Chinese side in the Ladakh region on Saturday.

The talks are happening after a gap of three months. Indian military delegates are discussing disengagement at friction areas like Hot Springs, Gogra and 900 square km Depsang plains.

Indian delegation is led by Leh-based XIV Corps chief Lt Gen P.G.K. Menon and Additional Secretary (East Asia) in the Ministry of External Affairs, Naveen Srivastava.

The Chinese military delegation is led by Commander of the PLA’s Western Theatre Command Xu Qiling, who was appointed earlier this month.

The build-up in Depsang was not being considered part of the current standoff that started in May last year as escalation here took place in 2013. India has insisted during recent military commander meetings to resolve all issues across the Line of Actual Control.

“The initial attempt will be to resolve Gogra and Hot Springs. Finding a solution to Depsang might be tricky and take longer,” said the officer.

In April, during 11th round of Corps Commander level talk, the focus was disengagement on friction points at Gogra, Hot Springs and Depsang. On February 20, Indian and Chinese militaries held 10th round of dialogue to de-escalate tension at the Line of Actual Control.

Till now, apart from 11 round of Corps Commanders-level talks, the two forces have also held 10 Major Generals level, 55 Brigadiers-level talks and 1,450 calls over the hotlines.

China has been enhancing military infrastructure across the Line of Control.

Looking at it, India has changed its posture towards China, unlike its previous defensive approach that placed a premium on fending on Chinese aggression, India is now catering to military options to strike back and has reoriented its military accordingly.

India has reoriented around 50,000 troops whose main focus will be the disputed border with China. The reorientation comes when China is refurbishing its existing air-fields in Tibetan Plateau that will allow twin-engines fighter aircraft to be stationed, sources said.

In addition, China has also brought troops from the Tibet Military region to the Xinjiang region that passes through Karakoram range down south Uttarakhand.

Further, they have deployed larger numbers of long range artillery and are rapidly building infrastructure in the Tibetan Plateau.

So far, the troops of two Himalayan giants have disengaged from both the banks of Pangong Tso in February this year.

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International News

Saudi Arabia approves security plan for Haj

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Haj-2021

Saudi Arabia has approved the security plan for this year’s Haj pilgrimage, while taking into account precautions against Covid-19.

According to the plan issued on Sunday by the Interior Ministry that aims to ensure the safety and security of pilgrims, a fine of 10,000 Saudi Riyals ($2,666) will be imposed on anyone who attempts to enter the ritual sites without permission, reports Xinhua news agency.

The ministry calls on all citizens and residents to obey the special regulations of this year’s Haj season.

Meanwhile, police officers will be deployed on all routes leading to the Grand Mosque and holy sites.

Saudi Arabia announced last month that the 2021 Haj season would be limited to domestic pilgrims only and allows a maximum of 60,000 individuals.

It will be the second Haj season with no foreign pilgrims in order to prevent the further spread of the pandemic.

More than 13 million worshippers wearing masks and observing physical distancing rules have visited the mosques since the seven-month prayer and Umrah suspension was lifted last October.

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Crime

Sindh High Court issues notice as Pakistan political worker abducted

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Sindh-High-Court

The Sindh High Court (SHC) in Pakistan on Friday issued notices to the Sindh police chief, Sindh Rangers director-general, the provincial government and the Federation of Pakistan on a petition seeking the recovery of a missing Awami Workers Party (AWP) activist, dawn has reported.

Seengar Noonari was allegedly taken away from his home in Naseerabad in Sindh last week, following which his wife filed a petition in the SHC to seek his production.

Fozia Seengar claimed in the petition that they were asleep in their house on the night between June 25 and 26 when, at around 3 a.m., about 15-20 people, including some wearing security personnel uniforms, forcibly entered into the house by breaking open the main door with weapons and also fired shots “to spread terror”, the report said.

According to the petition, the individuals wearing uniforms blindfolded the AWP worker and took him away along with books and other material, while his brother was left at home.

The petitioner’s lawyer informed the court that she had submitted an application regarding Seengar’s alleged abduction in the Naseerabad police station.

The plea requested the court to order the respondents and officials working under them to produce the activist before the court and order his immediate release.

Taking up the petition, the SHC ordered the issuance of notices to the respondents, including the Sindh police and Rangers chiefs and the station house officer of the Naseerabad Police Station, as well as the deputy attorney general and additional attorney general, seeking their response to the application by July 13.

The petitioner’s counsel was also directed to file a copy of the CNIC or other official identification documents of the “missing person”.

Seengar is the labour secretary in the national committee of AWP, while Fozia is the finance secretary of the party’s women’s wing, the Women Democratic Front.

Fozia said her husband had also remained the chairman of the ‘Shehri Ittehad’ in Naseerabad highlighting civic issues and was elected as a councillor as well. He had also contested on a seat for the provincial assembly from Naseerabad, the report said.

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