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18 killed in Philippines clashes

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Manila, Dec 16 : At least 18 government soldiers and Abu Sayyaf militants were killed and 20 wounded as fighting between the two sides continued in Al-Barka town in Basilan, the military said on Wednesday.

The operation which took place from Sunday to Tuesday, was aimed at reducing the rebels’ presence in the area.

Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) spokesperson Major Filemon Tan said they have already accounted three soldiers killed in the fighting, including a captain-rank commander, Xinhua reported.

Tan said the Abu Sayyaf has already suffered 15 deaths and seven wounded, though the military has not recovered a single body.

Tan said troops began advancing to the Abu Sayyaf lair last Sunday though the clashes became more intense last Tuesday when casualties began to pile up.

“Up to now, sporadic fighting is ongoing. They (terrorists) are concealing themselves as troops continue to clear the area slowly. It (the clearing) is progressing slowly because there (Abu Sayyaf) are snipers,” said Tan.

Tan also said that most of the soldiers who were killed and injured were hit by sniper fire. “If we become careless in our advance, we will have many fatalities,” he said.

“We have yet to declare it clear because we have not reached the end portion of the camp,” Tan said. He said the camp is located in a mountainous area and cannot be easily penetrated by armoured assets.

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Politics

Muhyiddin Yassin to be new Malay Prime Minister

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Muhyiddin Yassin Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Feb 29 : Former Home Affairs Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will be sworn in on Sunday as the eighth Prime Minister of Malaysia, the National Palace said in a statement on Saturday following a week of political power struggles.

The surprise announcement from the Comptroller of the Royal Household, Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin, said the King had agreed to appoint Muhyiddin as premier after receiving a list of nominees from party leaders and independent MPs, and deeming that he may have the majority support needed in Parliament, reports Efe news.

Muhyiddin will be sworn in at the National Palace at 10.30 a.m. on Sunday.

“(The King) said the appointment of the Prime Minister cannot be delayed for the sake and wellbeing of the nation… He believes this is the best decision for everyone and hopes this puts an end to the political crisis at the moment,” Ahmad Fadil said.

The political crisis was sparked by the stepping-down of Mahathir Mohamad as Prime Minister and Bersatu party chairman on Monday. The King had accepted his resignation and had appointed him as interim premier until a new government was former.

The palace’s announcement of Muhyiddin as the new leader came hours after Mahathir said he had the numbers needed to be the next Prime Minister, and the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition announced its support for him.

Mahathir’s Bersatu party on Friday nominated its president Muhyiddin as its prime ministerial candidate.

In a twist on Saturday, Muhyiddin also declared himself Bersatu chairman, even though Mahathir returned to that position during the week.

Bersatu’s Secretary-General then released a statement refuting Muhyiddin’s claim, saying the only person who has absolute power to lead the party was chairman Mahathir.

On Saturday morning after a meeting with leaders of the PH coalition, Mahathir said in a statement that he was confident he had “the numbers needed to garner majority support in the Dewan Rakyat (Parliament).”

“I am therefore prepared to stand as prospective candidate for Prime Minister,” he said, adding that this would be conveyed to the King.

In a separate statement, the PH presidential council backed Mahathir, saying it was giving its “full support” to him as prime ministerial candidate.

However, a day earlier, the PH had said it was backing Anwar Ibrahim of the People’s Justice Party for the job.

On Saturday, Anwar went to the King to present a letter of statement that PH was nominating Mahathir over him “to prioritize the nation above personal agenda”, he told reporters, according to local media.

Muhyiddin was backed by Bersatu, and others including Barisan Nasional, which Mahathir and the PH coalition ousted in a shock victory in the March 2018 election after 60 years of rule, along with then-prime minister Najib Razak who now faces 1MDB corruption allegations.

Anwar had been the promised successor to Mahathir after the two old foes banded together ahead of the 2018 polls.

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Margaret Thatcher named outfits after Gorbachev, Reagan: Report

An entry from her private diary records that she wore her “Pink Chanel Gorbachev” during a visit to the Granada Television Studios in Manchester in January 1990.

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Margaret Thatcher

London, Feb 29 : Late UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had named some of her outfits after other world leaders, including Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and former US President Ronald Reagan, newly released documents have revealed.

The incident is detailed in the latest release from the Margaret Thatcher Archive Trust, which is overseeing the gradual publication of the former leader’s private files, the BBC said in a report on Saturday.

Files have revealed that Thatcher, the UK’s first female Prime Minister, named more outfits after Gorbachev, the eighth and last leader of the erstwhile Soviet Union, than any other leader, followed by Reagan.

An entry from her private diary records that she wore her “Pink Chanel Gorbachev” during a visit to the Granada Television Studios in Manchester in January 1990.

Eight months before, she had worn the same dress when she hosted Gorbachev in London.

Chris Collins, from the Margaret Thatcher Archive Trust, said that “only certain men” received the accolade of having an outfit named after them.

He noted, for example, that Thatcher chose to name a dress she wore when she met French President Francois Mitterrand after Waddesdon Manor, the Buckingham country house where the meeting took place.

When she met President George H.W. Bush in 1990, she was recorded as wearing her “Black Dull Suit”.

The former Prime Minister’s christening of her wardrobe was not limited to foreign leaders she admired, the BBC report said.

BBC broadcaster Terry Wogan, who interviewed Thatcher in January 1990, had several outfits named after him including a “Wogan Long” and a “Wogan Short”.

Another entry from 1990 details that she wore her “Wogan Burgundy” to the Bank of England.

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Politics

Sajid Javid stepped down to avoid humiliation

He had then cleared absconding businessman Vijay Mallya’s extradition to India in February last year following the decision by the Westminister Magistrates Court in December 2018.

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Sajid Javid

London, Feb 29 : Sajid Javid has revealed that he decided to resign as the UK Chancellor instead of being “humiliated” by sacking all his aides at a Cabinet reshuffle, a media report said on Saturday.

On February 13, Javid resigned as the Chancellor of the Exchequer over differences with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a cabinet reshuffle. He was offered to retain the post if he fired all his advisors but declined.

He was replaced by Indian-descent Rishi Sunak, who is married to Akshata, the daughter of Infosys co-founder N.R. Narayana Murthy.

“It was really hard. I wanted to do a budget but when the Prime Minister said to me these are the conditions, in my mind it was black and white,” the Daily Mirror quoted Javid as saying to the Times newspaper.

“Even if I had entertained the idea for a second I would be absolutely humiliated afterwards.”

Javid said that other Cabinet members hastily congratulated him after defending the right of Ministers and telling him “well done”, while thanking him for speaking on all their behalf.

“I loved my job. I have wanted to be Chancellor since I knew who Nigel Lawson was when I was a kid and the only person that believed I could ever become chancellor was my dad. He never got to see it,” he told the Times.

Javid further said that he had “no option” but to leave the Cabinet when he was told to sack his advisers, and he still has to unpack boxes after moving from the seat of British power in Downing Street.

Pakistani-descent Javid, who became the first Asian to become a Cabinet Minister when he was made Secretary of State of Culture, Media and Sports in the David Cameron government in 2014 after stints as Economic Secretary to the Treasury (2012-13) and Financial Secretary (2013-14), was earlier the Home Secretary in the the Theresa May government.

He had then cleared absconding businessman Vijay Mallya’s extradition to India in February last year following the decision by the Westminister Magistrates Court in December 2018.

Javid, who ran for Conservative Party leadership after May quit but lost to Johnson, was made Chancellor by the latter.

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