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Iran’s supreme leader approved Saudi oil attack: Report

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Washington, Sep 19 Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had approved last weekend’s attack on two key Saudi Arabia oil facilities, a news report claimed on Thursday, even as tensions spiked in the Persian Gulf with Tehran warning that any attack on its territory would result in “all-out war”.

CBS News, citing an unnamed US official, said Khamenei approved the Saturday morning attack only on condition that it be carried out in a way to deny Iranian involvement.

The news report comes a day after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, flying to Saudi Arabia, called the drone strikes which knocked out half of Saudi crude output an “act of war”.

Iran has denied involvement in the September 14 raids, which hit the Abqaiq oil-processing plant and the Khurais oil field in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province on Saturday morning. Both are major facilities operated by state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil producer. Abqaiq, the world’s largest oil-processing plant, is critical to Riyadh’s oil infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif warned that any attack on his country would result in “all-out wara.

Zarif also demanded that Riyadh hand over the evidence that it claimed proved the attack came from Iran, and not from Houthi-occupied Yemen.

His remarks came as French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian said it was “not very credible” that the attack was mounted by the Houthis.

The US officials quoted by CBS said the most damning evidence against Iran were unreleased satellite photos showing Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps making preparations for the attack at Iran’s Ahvaz air base.

“We were caught completely off guard,” CBS quoted a US official as saying.

Iranian state media said Tehran had written to Washington through the Swiss embassy on Monday, denying any role in the attacks and warning it would respond to any action against it.

Though Tehran-supported Houthi rebels Yemen have claimed responsibility for the attack, both Washington and Riyadh have ruled that out.

On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Defense said the missiles and drones used in the attack came from the north, not Yemen to the south as Iran has contended — suggesting that Riyadh was in conformity with the US assessment that the attack was launched from Iranian soil.

US President Donald Trump also announced new sanctions on Iran, posting on his Twitter account: “I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase sanctions on the country of Iran!”

US Vice President Mike Pence reiterated President Donald Trump’s comments that “we don’t want war with anybody, but the United States is prepared”.

Trump had last year pulled out of a hard-won deal between Tehran and international powers that froze Iran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions.

Politics

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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Disaster

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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India

Mahatma Gandhi’s Great-Grandson Satish Dhupelia Succumbs To Covid-19 In South Africa

Satish and his two siblings are descendants of Manilal Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi’s son who stayed in South Africa to continue his father’s legacy.

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Satish Dhupelia

Satish Dhupelia, the South African great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, succumbed to Covid-19 complications here on Sunday, three days after his 66th birthday, a family member said.

Dhupelia’s sister Uma Dhupelia-Mesthrie confirmed that her brother had died of Covid-19 related complications after he contracted the disease in a hospital where he had been under treatment for a month due to pneumonia.

“My beloved brother has passed on after a month of illness with pneumonia, a superbug contracted in hospital and then Covid-19 also contracted while he was being treated.

“He suffered a major cardiac arrest this evening,” Uma said in a social media post.

Besides Uma, Dhupelia leaves back another sister, Kirti Menon, who lives in Johannesburg, where she is active in various projects honouring the memory of Gandhi.

The three siblings are descendants of Manilal Gandhi, who Mahatma Gandhi left behind in South Africa to continue his work after he returned to India after spending two decades.

Dhupelia, who spent most of his life in media, especially as a videographer and photographer, was also very active in assisting the Gandhi Development Trust to continue the work started by the Mahatma at the Phoenix Settlement near Durban.

He was renowned for assisting the needy in all communities and was active in a number of social welfare organisations.

Tributes poured in from his friends and dear ones.

“I am in shock. Satish was a great humanitarian and activist,” politician-analyst Lubna Nadvi said.

“He was also a great friend of the Advice Desk for Abused Women, and always assisted the organisation in whichever way he could,” Nadvi added.

Dhupelia was also a member of the Board of the 1860 Heritage Foundation, which on Monday, November 16 commemorated the arrival of the first indentured labourers from India to work on the sugar cane fields of Durban.

On the day, in one of his last Facebook posts for which Dhupelia was renowned, especially for his humour, he wrote:

“Let us also not forget that we still need to stand together to achieve our final goals of equality for all and an eradication of poverty”.

Funeral arrangements of Dhupelia have not been announced yet.

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