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Hurricane Florence makes landfall in North Carolina

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Washington, Sep 15 : At least seven people were killed as hurricane Florence made landfall in the US state of North Carolina, battering the state with a powerful combination of wind and rain. Warnings were issued about the risk of life-threatening flash flooding in parts of North and South Carolina as well as in Virginia.

It was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm on Friday, but continued to soak the East Coast area with rain, downing trees and damaging homes. Some areas grappled with intense flooding, while hundreds in the city of New Bern and North Carolina required rescue in the early hours of Saturday.

Parts of New Bern and North Carolina were 10 feet underwater after local rivers overflowed their banks. Thousands of people were staying in emergency shelters. Evacuation warnings were issued for 1.7 million people in the region, the US media reported.

Florence was slowly grinding over the eastern states, with winds of 65mph (105km/h). It was expected to keep lashing parts of North and South Carolina into the weekend, according to the Washington Post.

Up to 40 inches of rain and storm surges pushing water inland will produce catastrophic flash flooding, the National Hurricane Centre said.

Two people in Carteret County died due to the storm, officials said. A mother and her infant were killed in Wilmington when a tree fell on their home. According to officials, the child’s father was also transported to hospital with injuries.

Two men in their 70s were killed in Lenoir County. One was killed while connecting an electrical generator and another man was killed in a wind-related incident when checking on dogs outside his property.

A county official said that a woman died from cardiac arrest in the town of Hampstead after emergency responders had their route to reach her blocked by downed trees.

The White House announced on Saturday that President Donald Trump approved a disaster declaration for North Carolina a day earlier, an order that opens up federal funding, including housing and home repair grants.

The storm originally made landfall at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, on Friday as a category one hurricane.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said the hurricane was likely to “continue its violent grind for days” and described the severity of the downfalls as a “1,000 year event”.

Almost 800,000 people are reported to be without power in North Carolina and officials have warned that restoring electricity could take days or even weeks.

IANS

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Italy PM Giuseppe Conte to quit Tuesday, seeking new govt

His resignation comes ahead of a key vote on judicial reforms later this week, which commentators suggest the government was on course to lose.

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Giuseppe Conte Italy PM

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced he will resign Tuesday, in what media reports said was an attempt to build a new government after weeks of political turmoil.

He called a cabinet meeting for 9:00am (0800 GMT) when he “will inform the ministers of his desire to go to the Quirinale (President Sergio Mattarella’s office) to resign”, his office said.

Media reports suggest Conte will seek a mandate to form a new government to run Italy as it battles the coronavirus pandemic, which has left more than 85,000 people dead in the country and crippled the economy.

The ruling coalition has been teetering on the edge of collapse since former premier Matteo Renzi withdrew his small Italia Viva party on January 13.

Conte survived a parliamentary vote of confidence last week but failed to secure a majority in the Senate, the upper house, leaving his government severely weakened.

His resignation comes ahead of a key vote on judicial reforms later this week, which commentators suggest the government was on course to lose.

“Conte’s calculation is that by moving early, and thereby avoiding a humiliating defeat in the Senate later this week, he would increase his chances of securing a mandate from Mattarella to form a new government,” noted Wolfango Piccoli of the Teneo consultancy.

He will likely then seek to widen support beyond his coalition, currently comprising mainly of the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) and the centre-left Democratic Party (PD).

“However, it is currently unclear whether Conte can succeed in such an effort,” Piccoli said.

He added that if he fails, the M5S and PD could “ditch Conte and look for another candidate” to head a new coalition government.

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Why Chinese involvement in financial frauds in India is alarming

G.K. Goswami Inspector General ATS said Xu Xunfu’s business visa had expired in July 2020, while Li Teng Li’s tourist visa expired in September 2020.

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New Delhi, Jan 25 : Within a span of 15 days, two major financial fraud cases involving Chinese nationals have come to the forefront. Soon after the Delhi Police unearthed a transnational malware and fraud syndicate and arrested two Chinese women in a gang of 12 in multiple raids starting January 13, two Chinese have been caught by the UP ATS from Noida for fraudulent monetary transactions.

UP ATS arrested two Chinese citizens in money laundering case, fraudulently  carrying fake SIM card - The India Print : theindiaprint.com, The Print
Two Chinese nationals arrested by UP ATS for money laundering worth crores

This is cause for alarm as it raises apprehensions that multiple Chinese syndicates have been operating within the country to cheat and defraud Indian citizens and capture personal data of unsuspecting people for illegitimate purposes.

When it arrested Chinese nationals Chaohong Deng Daoyong, 27 and Wu Jiazhi, 54, the Delhi Police said the accused were installing malware in devices of people in the garb of a multi-level marketing application.

Police said that around 40,000 confirmed victims have been identified who have been cheated of crores in two months. Almost Rs 4.75 crores of cheated money has been blocked in various accounts and more than Rs. 25 lakhs recovered in cash from the arrested Chinese nationals.

“The malicious app was also making millions of Indian users follow thousands of social media accounts of unknown origin and ownership, with huge potential of future misuse of this by a foreign entity,” said Anyesh Roy, DCP Crime Crime.

Now the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terror Squad (UPATS) has arrested Xu Xunfu a.k.a July and Li Teng Li a.k.a Alice from Gautam Buddha Nagar, following a red corner notice against them by the Interpol.

Additional Director General (law and order) Prashant Kumar said, “The UPATS arrested the two for purchasing SIM cards by submitting forged documents and then making fraudulent monetary transactions with those SIMs via banks. It is for the first time that the ATS has arrested Chinese nationals.”

He further said, “We traced the duo after interrogating 14 persons arrested last week from Delhi and different parts of Uttar Pradesh in a similar fraud.”

G.K. Goswami Inspector General ATS said Xu Xunfu’s business visa had expired in July 2020, while Li Teng Li’s tourist visa expired in September 2020.

The Delhi Police have also hinted two Chinese nationals Yangqing Zhang and Bao Peng , are the kingpins of this criminal conspiracy to cheat and defraud Indian citizens and hack into their devices through malicious mobile applications. This is a serious concern as kingpins of Chinese origin are hatching the conspiracy from locations outside India

Not just financial frauds but alleged Chinese involvement have also been claimed by Delhi police in a spying case as on September 14 last year, the Special Cell of the Delhi Police had arrested 61-year-old freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma, for allegedly working with Chinese intelligence.

During Sharma’s police remand, a Chinese woman Qing Shi and her Nepalese partner Sher Singh alias Raj Bohra were also arrested. They were allegedly found supplying the scribe with huge amounts of money routed through hawala channels for conveying sensitive information to Chinese Intelligence, DCP Special Cell Sanjeev Yadav had said.

This is why the Indian Police force in a coordinated manner is keeping extra vigil on the working of these fraudster syndicates involving Chinese nationals.

(Zafar Abbas could be reached at [email protected])

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Prachanda faction expels Prime Minister Oli from party

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Discord and division continue inside the Nepal Communist Party, which has not split formally but has virtually fallen apart after Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli unilaterally decided to dissolve the House of Representatives on December 20 without the party’s consent.

Since then, the Nepal Communist Party is acting like two parties — one headed by Oli himself and the other led by former Prime Ministers Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda and Madhav Kumar Nepal. Both sides are running separate programmes across the country under the same banner as they await official recognition from the Election Commission.

Amid this row, the Prachanda-Nepal faction has taken disciplinary action against Oli.

A Standing Committee meeting of the faction held on Sunday decided to expel Oli from the party, its spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha told the media.

The dissident faction has alleged Oli breached the party discipline and is liable to expulsion from the party. It had earlier relieved him from the post of party Chairman.

According to Pampha Bhusal, leader of the dissident faction, Sunday’s meeting decided to expel Oli even from the general membership, accusing him of violating the party statutes.

“He (Oli) is not even an ordinary member of the party now,” Bhusal said.

The faction had earlier asked Oli to furnish, within three days, an explanation why not action should be not taken against him for anti-party activities.

The faction had handed over this notice to the Prime Minister’s residence. However, Oli did not respond to the letter. Sunday’s meeting also reviewed the protest programme and discussed a new protest plan.

The faction had taken to the streets against the dissolution of the House of Representatives, terming the move unconstitutional and undemocratic.

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