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Missing Saudi journalist’s Apple Watch may have transmitted death evidence

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Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi speaks at an event hosted by Middle East Monitor in London Britain, September 29, 2018. (Photo-Reuters)

Ankara, Oct 13: Missing Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi may have recorded his own death as he turned on the recording function of his Apple Watch before walking into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, a Turkish daily reported on Saturday.

The moments of his “interrogation, torture and killing were audio recorded and sent to both his phone and to iCloud”, CNN quoted the privately-owned Sabah daily as saying.

It said conversations of the men involved in the reported assassination were recorded.

Security forces leading the investigation found the audio file inside the phone Khasshoggi left with his fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, according to the daily.

Upon noticing the watch, Khashoggi’s assailants tried to unlock the Apple Watch with multiple password attempts, ultimately using the journalist’s fingerprint to unlock the smart watch.

They were successful in deleting only some of the files, Sabah reported.

However, on its website, Apple does not list fingerprint verification as one of the Apple Watch’s capabilities.

A representative from the company confirmed to CNN the watches do not have the feature.

It was not immediately clear whether it would have been technically feasible for Khashoggi’s Apple phone to transfer audio to his phone, which he had given to his fiancee before entering the consulate.

Saudi and Turkish officials have not yet commented on the Sabah report.

Saudi Arabia firmly denies any involvement in his disappearance and says he left the consulate that afternoon.

Cengiz, who was waiting outside the consulate, says she did not see him re-emerge.

Turkey has called on Saudi officials to provide evidence that he left the consulate, as they claim, CNN reported.

Saudi Arabia Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz said reports that the Saudi government ordered the killing of Khashoggi were “lies and baseless allegations against the government of the Kingdom”, according to a statement in the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) published on Saturday morning.

Abdulaziz also said “some media” have circulated “false accusations” regarding Khashoggi’s disappearance.

On Friday, a source familiar with the ongoing investigation told CNN that Turkish authorities have audio and visual evidence that showed Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate.

The evidence, which was described to the source by a Western intelligence agency, showed there had been an assault and a struggle inside the consulate. There is also evidence of the moment that Khashoggi was killed, the source said.

Turkish security units analysed how Khashoggi’s reported killing unfolded with the use of a translator, according to Sabah.

Sabah also reported that investigation units were currently examining all cell phone and landline records from the consulate and the consul general’s residence on October 2.

Efforts to locate Khashoggi’s body are ongoing, Sabah reported.

Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, went into the consulate to obtain paperwork that would allow him to marry his Turkish fiancee. He hasn’t been seen in public since.

IANS

Disaster

‘China caused great damage to US’: Trump sharpens attack over Covid-19

Earlier, the US President also lashed out at China for the COVID-19 crisis, accusing Beijing of trying to deflect the pain and carnage that the country spread throughout the world.

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Washington, July 6 : Launching another scathing attack on China, US President Donald Trump on Monday blamed China for causing “great damage” to the United States and across the globe due to the coronavirus crisis.

“China has caused great damage to the United States and the rest of the world!” Trump tweeted, in an oblique reference to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Addressing the second ”Salute to America” on America”s 244th Independence Day, Trump had also said that the country was doing great until it got hit by a virus that came from China.

“The power of tariffs being imposed on foreign lands that took advantage of the United States for decades enabled us to make great trade deals where there were none. Tens of billions of dollars are now paid to the US treasury by the same countries but then we got hit by the virus that came from China,” Trump had said while addressing the event.

He further said, “We”re producing gowns, masks, and surgical equipment…It was almost exclusively made in foreign lands, in particular, China where ironically this virus and others came from.”

Earlier, the US President also lashed out at China for the COVID-19 crisis, accusing Beijing of trying to deflect the pain and carnage that the country spread throughout the world.

In May, Trump had said that he was very disappointed with China over its failure to contain the virus, saying the worldwide pandemic cast a pall over his US-China trade deal.

Trump has been targeting China for spreading the virus. Earlier, the US President was asked at a press conference if he had seen evidence that gave him a “high degree of confidence” that the virus came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and replied that he had, although he declined to give specifics.

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Disaster

Preliminary trial success, Covid vax could be out by Dec: Bangladeshi scientist

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Dhaka : Claiming success in preliminary animal modelling trial of Covid-19 vaccine, Globe Biotech Limited has claimed to be the first company from Bangladesh to have a Covid-19 vaccine under development. It says it is aiming for a December 2020 availability of the vaccine in the market.

They received the result after conducting the preliminary trial on five rabbits from June 10 to June 28, says Dr Asif Mahmud, Assistant Manager and incharge of Research and Development, Globe Biotech Limited, in an exclusive interview to IANS.

Earlier, he led the team to claim success in preliminary trial for the vaccine in national capital Dhaka on Thursday afternoon.

Excerpts from the interview of scientist Dr Asif Mahmud

Q: Globe Biotech is a research company in Bangladesh. Is it a branch of any MNC in the world?

A: No, in fact, Globe Biotech Limited is a Biological Drug Discovery Company in operation in Bangladesh since 2015. The project was started by our CEO Kankon Nag and COO Dr Nazneen Sultana. We have prepared 18 bio similar. We are also working on our own Nobel drug. After completing the animal trials of 6 bio similar, we have applied for Ethical Approval through our PRO at the Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC) in Dhaka. We have that ability and experience to invent a vaccine against this pandemic. Under the supervision of our CEO and COO, after a Covid-19 patient was reported in Bangladesh on March 8, we shifted our focus to SARS-Cov2 and started 3 new projects. Number one — we will do kit development; number two — we will do vaccine development for the country; and in the last — the biological molecule development.

Q: Is the research by Globe Biotech independent? Or is your research done under the supervision of any other country?

A: Globe Biotech is researching independently. Under the supervision of our CEO and COO, both of whom supervised the team from Canada. They are experienced in this matter. Dr Kankon was directly involved in the HIV vaccine project. He is using that experience here. We are conducting research under their direct supervision. A 12-member scientific group started research on March 18 under the leadership of both.

We have taken some 76 genome sequences under consideration, wherein we found that a sequence (numbered 614) has a mutation point that they have used for amino acid bonding.

Q: Which method did you follow for the research you are undertaking? And how do you make sure it will work to protect people from Covid-19?

A: We went for the SPR method for the tests. Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) is a phenomenon where electrons in the metal surface layer are excited by photons of incident light with a certain angle of incidence, and then propagated parallel to the metal surface. It is an optical technique utilised for detecting molecular interactions. Actually, we have set a vaccine target. We have analysed the sequences from all the databases we have worldwide, including the sequences in Bangladesh. We set the target by our analysis. We have modified that target according to our needs. We have set multiple targets.

We have placed multiple delivery systems in consideration.

By applying the delivery system we have done an animal trial on rabbits.

By this we have got a very good antibody titer. And those antibodies have shown strong binding affinity with our antigen. We have additional candidates, some of which we have presented to the press. But the company is yet to apply for a patent or any publication; and before the patent is ensured it would not disclose the data received from the trial. We have said that we need to convert the data from the preliminary animal trial into a regulated animal trial. That we will do within the next 6 to 8 weeks. Then we will apply for Ethical Approval.

Q: This 6 to 8 weeks period, to get proof of animal trial? Or, for trial on humans?

A: No, we have already got proof of antibody generation in the preliminary animal trial. Now, it needs to be converted to a regulated animal trial. Because, for human trial, we have to submit it to the regulatory body for Ethical Approval. Regulated trials will require some further characterisation. Then, we will apply for human trials.

Q: Did you inform about your research to the drug administration of the country?

A: Not yet. There is no role of the regulatory body now. When we do a regulated animal trial, of course, we go to the regulatory body.

Q: What are your expectations? When will the vaccine be released?

A: We have already formulated the regulated animal trial guidelines and the tests would be concluded within four to six weeks. Thereafter, the company will seek Ethical Approval from the Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC) in early September, when the data from the Regulated Animal Trial reaches us within 6 to 7 weeks.

And then, we will apply for market authorisation to the regulatory authority in December within three months after completing the phases 1, 2 and 3. If everything goes smoothly, we expect to be able to bring our vaccine to the market by December.

Q: If you get government support, do you think success for you can be faster or smoother?

A: Obviously! This will be the first discovery of this vaccine in Bangladesh. The first task always comes with more obstacles and hindrances. We will remove the obstacles with the support of the government and will bring the vaccine to the market in due course.

(Sumi Khan can be contacted at [email protected])

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Middle East

More advanced equipment to replace damaged part of Iran n-site

Natanz, located some 250 km south of Tehran, includes underground facilities buried under some 25 feet of concrete, which offers protection from airstrikes.

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Iran Nuclear Power Plant

Tehran, July 6 : A new and more advanced structure will be built at Iran”s Natanz nuclear facility to replace the one damaged in a recent fire “incident”, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said on Monday.

“Necessary arrangements have been made to rebuild the damaged shed at Shahid Ahmadi Roshan (Natanz) nuclear facility and a bigger shed with more advanced equipment is to replace it,” the spokesman, Behrouz Kamalvandi said.

More centrifuge machines were supposed to be produced at the damaged shed, Kamalvandi said, adding that parts of measurement and precision tools in the shed were destroyed and damaged in the “incident”, reports Xinhua news agency

The “incident” has not caused hindrance in Iran”s enrichment work, although it may slow down development and manufacture of advanced machines in the medium term, he said.

“We would make up for this slowdown through round-the-clock work and diligent efforts of our colleagues at the organization.”

On July 2, Iran announced that the fire at the Natanz nuclear facility caused no damage to the establishment, but it affected one of the structures for storing stock items.

The next day, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) saidthat the country”s experts had determined the main cause of “incident” and would announce it at an “appropriate time”.

Natanz, located some 250 km south of Tehran, includes underground facilities buried under some 25 feet of concrete, which offers protection from airstrikes.

The facility is a Fuel Enrichment Plant covering 100,000 square meters.

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