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Hawking’s ashes to sit near Newton, Darwin’s graves

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Stephen Hawking

London, March 21: The ashes of renowned physicist Steven Hawking will be interred in Westminster Abbey here near the graves of ground-breaking scientists Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.

In a statement released by the Abbey on Tuesday, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster, said it was a “fitting” tribute to the British scientist who passed away on March 14 at the age of 76, CNN reported.

“We believe it to be vital that science and religion work together to seek to answer the great questions of the mystery of life and of the universe,” Hall said in the statement.

Isaac Newton was buried at the Abbey following his death in 1727, as was naturalist Charles Darwin a century and a half later in 1882.

The Abbey announced there would also be a service of thanksgiving in Hawking’s honour later in the year, CNN said in its report.

Considered by many to be the greatest scientist of his generation, Hawking overcame a debilitating disease to gain a worldwide following for his brilliant work in theoretical physics.

He was born in Oxford, England, in 1942 on the 300th anniversary of the death of astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei.

Along with fellow physicist Roger Penrose, Hawking merged Einstein’s theory of relativity with quantum theory to suggest that space and time would begin with the Big Bang and end in black holes.

He also published hugely popular books allowing readers to join him in probing the mysteries of the universe. His landmark “A Brief History of Time” sold more than 10 million copies.

He accomplished all this while suffering from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a neurodegenerative disease which is usually fatal within a few years. He was diagnosed in 1963 at the age of 21.

Although his disease left him paralysed and using a wheelchair for mobility, Hawking said on his website he had tried not to let it affect the way he lived his life.

“I try to lead as normal a life as possible, and not think about my condition, or regret the things it prevents me from doing, which are not that many,” he wrote on his website.

Following news of his death, his fellow scientists around the world paid tribute to Hawking, with Neil DeGrasse Tyson saying he had left an “intellectual vacuum in his wake”.

“But it’s not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure,” CNN quoted the astrophysicist as saying on Twitter.

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Malaysian who threatened to kill King among seven suspected militants arrested

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Bangkok, July 19 :Police in Malaysia have arrested seven people for alleged links with the Islamic State (IS) terror organisation, including a man who threatened to assassinate the Malaysian King and the Prime Minister, police said on Thursday.

Four Malaysians, including one woman, and three Indonesians were arrested during operations between March 12 and March 17, said Inspector General of Royal Malaysia Police, Mohamad Fuzi Harun.

One of the Malaysians used his Facebook account to threaten to assassinate the Sultan of Johor, who is the current head of state, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, and Minister of Religious Affairs, Mujahid Yusof Rawa, saying they do not govern the country in accordance with Sharia law.

The other three Malaysians allegedly contacted or sent money to Malaysian IS militants in Syria and Iraq, or showed their intention to join the extremist groups in the Middle East.

Two of the three Indonesians admitted having links with extremist organizations in Indonesia, while one, declaring himself a follower of the IS, admitted his plan of travelling to Syria to join them.

Around 300 people with links to IS have been arrested in Malaysia in recent years, while about 100 Malaysians are fighting in Iraq and Syria with militant groups.

Malaysia has a population of nearly 30 million, 61 percent of which belong to the Muslim community.

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No direct role of Pakistan Army in July 25 elections: Asif Ghafoor

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Islamabad, July 19 : Pakistani Army will have no direct role in the country’s July 25 general elections and will work on the Election Commission’s directives to conduct peaceful polls, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said on Thursday.

Asif Ghafoor, Director General of the Army’s media wing ISPR, rejected reports that the Army will work independently during the elections and clarified that its personnel will follow the poll body’s instructions.

“There were some rumours that Army personnel had been issued ‘different’ orders — this is completely baseless,” he said at the special session of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior.

“We do not have any link with the elections… we are only working on the Election Commission’s directives to improve the law and order situation. We do not have a direct role in polls.”

Ghafoor then elaborated on the election duty assigned to Army personnel, saying: “The armed forces have always lent support to civil institutions. The security situation is being improved in the entire country to hold elections, Dawn online reported.

“Three hundred and seventy one thousand Army soldiers will be deployed at the countrywide polling stations. The Army is also performing its duty at the printing press (for ballots).”

However, he said that the Army’s role in providing security for elections did not mean that it would also take direct responsibility for the well being of politicians.

Stressing on complying with the Election Commission of Pakistan’s code of conduct, Ghafoor said the troops also have to perform the police’s duties until the latter’s capabilities improve.

“We took extraordinary measures when polls were held in Afghanistan. Now the Afghan President has assured the Prime Minister and Army chief, over the phone, of cooperation.”

ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob said that the Army personnel deployed across the country on the polling day will work under presiding officers. He further stated that a written code of conduct was in place to this effect.

He said that Army personnel will be liable to inform the presiding officer and returning officer if anyone attempts to fill ballot boxes, after which the prescribed method will be followed. “Troops will only aid in holding peaceful polls,” he said.

The Senate session was presided over by the Committee Chairperson Senator Rehman Malik. Federal Interior and Defence Secretaries, ECP secretary and several other government officials were also present in the meeting.

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Turkey’s emergency rule ends after two years

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Ankara, July 19 :The Turkish government has ended the nationwide state of emergency that was imposed two years ago after a failed coup attempt.

The decision comes weeks after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won re-election.

Under the state of emergency, tens of thousands of people were arrested or dismissed from their jobs.

However, the government has decided against extending it again after seven three-month renewals.

During the campaign, opposition candidates said the first thing they would do if they won would be to end the state of emergency.

More than 107,000 people have been removed from public sector jobs by emergency decree since the state of emergency began and more than 50,000 people have been imprisoned pending trial, according to official statistics and NGOs.

Many of those dismissed are alleged to be supporters of the exiled Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in the US and is a former ally of Erdogan.

Turkey accuses Gulen and his followers of organising the coup, but he denies it.

The 2016 coup attempt saw Parliament bombed by military aircraft and more than 250 people killed.

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