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Iranian Muslims to miss annual hajj pilgrimage – official

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Iranian Muslims will miss the annual hajj pilgrimage in September, the IRNA news agency said on Thursday. Tehran and Riyadh failed to agree organizational details after they cut diplomatic ties in January, said Tehran’s Islamic Guidance and Culture Minister Ali Jannati, who blamed Riyadh for the impasse.

Last year’s hajj was marred by the deaths of over 2,000 pilgrims, 464 of them Iranian, in a crush during the crowded pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Tensions led to Riyadh breaking off diplomatic ties in January after protesters in Iran attacked Saudi diplomatic missions there following the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric in the Sunni-led kingdom.

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Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s lawyer appointed as PTV chairman

However, an earlier IHC judgement had made it mandatory for the government to advertise the post before making any appointment in PTV.

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Islamabad: Pakistani lawyer Naeem Bukhari, who led the legal team of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan in the Panama Papers leak case, has been appointed as Chairman of the state-run Pakistan Television (PTV).

The appointment was made in apparent haste as the Pakistan cabinet had in its meeting last week considered a summary for his appointment but did not endorse his induction as PTV chairman.

The cabinet had directed the Ministry of Information to “resubmit the summary, in line with the following observations: i) the composition of the Board shall be on the pattern of previous Board where independent directors/private sector members were in majority; ii) the appeal [against Islamabad High Court order of sacking Arshad Khan and other PTV directors] may be vigorously pursued and independent directors/private sector members from the previous Board shall be re-inducted in the new Board, where possible; and iii) Shahzada Naeem Bukhari be included in the Board and nominated as Chairman.”

The Information Ministry had submitted the summary for appointment of three independent directors of PTV, recommending Naeem Bukhari, chartered accountant Syed Waseem Raza and prominent writer Asghar Nadeem Syed as principal candidates. Bukhari and Asghar Nadeem Syed are over 65 years old and, therefore, the ministry had sought relaxation from the cabinet regarding their age.

However, in contradiction to the observations by the cabinet regarding resubmission of the summary for the appointment of directors and chairman of PTV, the Information Ministry on its own notified Bukhari as chairman on Monday.

The notification read: “The Federal Government is pleased to appoint Shahzada Naeem Bukhari as Independent Director of Pakistan Television Corporation Board.” It further stated: “The Federal Government has also approved nomination of Shahzada Naeem Bukhari as chairman PTVC Board in line with the Pakistan Television Corporation…The chairman shall, unless he resigns earlier, hold office for a period of three years. The board of directors, PTVC, is directed to ratify his nomination as chairman.”

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) had in September set aside the appointments of PTV chairman Arshad Khan and board members Zhouhair A. Khaliq, Prof Ijazul Hassan, Syed Mohammad Ali Bokhari, Mian Yousaf Salahuddin, Rashid Ali Khan and Farman Ullah Jan.

In its 42-page decision, the court directed that in future the government should determine salaries and benefits of PTV employees in consultation with the Finance Ministry.

However, an earlier IHC judgement had made it mandatory for the government to advertise the post before making any appointment in PTV.

Information secretary Zahida Parveen did not comment on the appointment of Bukhari as PTV chairman.

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Biden’s inner circle get key cabinet posts as John Kerry named climate tsar

He has made unsubstantiated claims of widespread electoral fraud and is continuing to pursue legal challenges over the result.

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Former US secretary of state John Kerry will act as “climate tsar” when US President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

He was one of several people named for top positions by the Biden transition team on Monday.

Other key picks include Avril Haines as the first woman to lead intelligence, and long-time aide Antony Blinken as secretary of state – the most important foreign policy position.

It comes as calls are growing for Donald Trump to concede the election.

He has made unsubstantiated claims of widespread electoral fraud and is continuing to pursue legal challenges over the result.

Mr Biden is projected to beat President Trump by 306 votes to 232 when the US electoral college meets to formally confirm the winner on 14 December. This is far above the 270 votes he needs.

In a statement following the announcements on Monday, Mr Biden said: “I need a team ready on Day One to help me reclaim America’s seat at the head of the table, rally the world to meet the biggest challenges we face, and advance our security, prosperity, and values. This is the crux of that team.”
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Some of the positions require confirmation in the US Senate.

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Global Covid-19 cases top 58.5mn: Johns Hopkins

Brazil currently accounts for the second highest number of fatalities at 169,183.

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Washington, Nov 23: The overall number of global coronavirus cases has topped 58.5 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 1.38 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

In its latest update on Monday, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload and death toll stood at 58,542,174 and 1,386,454, respectively.

The US is the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 12,226,643 and 256,741, respectively, according to the CSSE.

India comes in second place in terms of cases at 9,095,806, while the country’s death toll soared to 133,227.

The other countries with more than a million confirmed cases are Brazil (6,071,401), France (2,191,180), Russia (2,071,858), Spain (1,556,730), the UK (1,515,802), Argentina (1,370,366), Italy (1,408,868), Colombia (1,248,417) and Mexico (1,025,969), the CSSE figures showed.

Brazil currently accounts for the second highest number of fatalities at 169,183.

The countries with a death toll above 20,000 are Mexico (100,823), the UK (55,120), Italy (49,823), France (48,807), Iran (44,802), Spain (42,619), Argentina (37,002), Russia (35,838), Peru (35,549), Colombia (35,287) and South Africa (20,903).

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