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New Delhi, Jan 23: A powerful earthquake of 8.2 magnitude shook the coast of Alaska on Tuesday. Following this tsunami warning has been issued across the United States.

The quake hit 300 km southeast of Kodiak at a depth of 10 km at 12.21 a.m., the US Geological Survey said.

The US National Tsunami Warning Centre issued a tsunami alert for areas that included the coast of Alaska to British Columbia and the border with Washington State, and a tsunami watch all the way down to the border of Mexico and the coast of Hawaii, the New York Times reported.

Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, issued an extreme warning, saying there was “extraordinary threat to life or property”.

The alert told people to seek refuge on higher grounds in affected areas. Authorities said that based on the preliminary earthquake parameters, “widespread hazardous tsunami waves were possible”.

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FATF keeps Pakistan off blacklist for now, warns that it can’t take forever

Once FATF’s plenary agrees that all 27 items had been completed, there will be an on-site visit by an assessment team to verify information given by Pakistan and see that all measures are working effectively.

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Imran Khan at UNGA

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Friday decided to retain Pakistan on its “grey list”, giving it time till February next year to address what the multilateral watchdog said were “very serious deficiencies” in its efforts to counter terror financing.

The decision was announced at the end of FATF’s three-day virtual plenary meeting, and the body’s president, Marcus Pleyer, cautioned that Pakistan would not be given a chance “forever” to address outstanding issues. Repeated failure to deliver on FATF’s action plan would result in a country being put in the “black list”, he said.

Pakistan was placed in FATF’s list of “jurisdictions under increased monitoring” or grey list in 2018 for failing to control terror financing and money laundering. In a virtual repeat of the warning issued to Pakistan in February, FATF said in a statement: “As all action plan deadlines have expired, the FATF strongly urges Pakistan to swiftly complete its full action plan by February 2021.”

Pleyer, at a virtual news conference, said Pakistan had “largely addressed” 21 of 27 items in its action plan and the government had signalled its commitment to complete the rest.

“But it is clear [that] even though Pakistan has made progress, it needs to do more. Pakistan cannot stop, it needs to continue to carry out reforms, particularly to implement targeted financial sanctions and prosecute and sanction those financing terrorism,” he said.

The work done by Pakistan “definitely means the world has become safer but the six outstanding items are very serious deficiencies that still have to be repaired, and for that reason, the risks [have not been overcome]”, Pleyer added.

In an apparent reference to Pakistan’s repeated failures to meet deadlines for the action plan, Pleyer said: “As long as we see that the country is progressing with the action items, and we have seen progress with Pakistan, we give them a chance to repair the outstanding issues but we don’t do this forever.”

He added, “You can look at other countries where after a while, we have seen there is no longer progress on the action plan and the action plan has not been completed, then the countries are pushed to the black list.”

Pleyer made it clear Pakistan wouldn’t be out of the woods with mere completion of the action plan. Once FATF’s plenary agrees that all 27 items had been completed, there will be an on-site visit by an assessment team to verify information given by Pakistan and see that all measures are working effectively.

“After that on-site visit, the next plenary will then decide whether Pakistan has indeed fully and effectively completed the action plan and then there is a decision on whether Pakistan would leave the grey list or not,” he said.

Besides, Pleyer cautioned that Pakistan is also subject to an evaluation by FATF’s regional affiliate, the Australia-based Asia Pacific Group.

In its latest report issued in September, APG concluded Pakistan has fully complied with only two of 40 recommendations to counter terror financing and money laundering, and that it was “non-compliant” on four recommendations, “partially compliant” on 25 and “largely compliant” on nine.

FATF’s statement said Pakistan should continue addressing its “strategic deficiencies”, including demonstrating that law enforcement agencies are identifying and investigating the widest range of terror financing activity and that investigations and prosecutions target designated persons and entities.

Pakistan should demonstrate that terror financing prosecutions result in “effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions”, and it should show “effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions” against terrorists designated by the UN Security Council and those acting on their behalf by preventing the raising and transferring of funds, identifying and freezing assets, and prohibiting access to funds and financial services.

Islamabad should also demonstrate enforcement and action against non-profit organisations, which are often used as fronts by Pakistan-based terror groups, the statement said.

Pleyer brushed aside a question on whether Pakistan is being discriminated against by saying the country is being treated in line with the same rules that have been accepted by 205 countries globally. He also dismissed a question from a Pakistani body about the alleged involvement of Indian banks in terror financing, saying FATF isn’t an investigative body.

Sameer Patil, fellow for international security studies at Gateway House, said the six action items FATF is pressuring Pakistan to implement are the “most crucial ones that will help finish off the terror groups”.

“Pakistan has was hoping to convince the watchdog to remove it from the grey list but FATF has taken a more serious view and asked Pakistan to go full throttle and terminate the state’s support to terror groups, which Pakistan will find difficult to do given the history of these groups being used as proxies by the army,” he said.

“Implementing the full action plan won’t be easy because of the fear of retribution from these terror groups. We can expect Pakistan to enact more dramas, such as a crackdown and prosecution of terrorists, before the next FATF meeting,” he added.

There was no immediate reaction to FATF’s decision from Indian officials.

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Covid cases shatter record in US, Trump and Fauci haven’t met for ‘months’

In recent days, Trump has called Fauci and his ilk “idiots” and claimed that Americans are tired of “Covid, Covid, Covid” all the time.

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Fauci over Trump

New York, Oct 24 : US president Donald Trump and his top infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci have not met in “several months” and White House virus task force meetings have been reduced to once a week, according to new revelations into the inner workings of a disastrous coronavirus response in the world’s wealthiest country.

The US recorded 71,671 new cases Thursday, with several states setting records across the Midwest and West. This is the single highest daily tally since the pandemic began. Texas leads with maximum new cases. The seven-day rolling average for new daily Covid-19 cases in the US was 44,647 two weeks ago.

The virus has killed more than 223,000 people in the US and sickened more than 8 million.

Less than 24 hours after the final presidential debate on October 22, US President Donald Trump was back at the White House holding a mini superspreader event while the country’s top infectious diseases expert is urging the government to see the logic of a “golden mean” that factors common sense public health guidelines to reopen the economy. Trump had 30 people huddled around him in the Oval Office on Friday and only one woman in that group was wearing a mask.

“Every time I talk about these things, people get concerned about shutting down. We’re not talking about shutting down, but we’re talking about doubling down on some of the fundamental public health measures that we need to adhere to – the universal wearing of masks,” Fauci said during a television interview on Friday.

During the same interview, Fauci revealed that Trump hasn’t attended a coronavirus task force meeting for months.

Days ahead of the US 2020 election, the coronavirus pandemic continues to haunt incumbent Donald Trump both in debates and his poll numbers. He trails Biden in both national and battleground polling.

In recent days, Trump has called Fauci and his ilk “idiots” and claimed that Americans are tired of “Covid, Covid, Covid” all the time.

Trump has mocked Biden for wearing masks and for adhering to public health guidance. “We can’t live like that,” Trump has said often, and continues to hold superspreader rallies and aggressively push the idea of herd immunity.

Fauci has pinned America’s failure to contain the virus on the lack of a uniform guidance from the top, without mentioning Trump. “I’ve always felt that uniformity of response and consistency of response is always a good thing. People know where they stand, know what they need to do and it was certain fundamental things that have not been adhered to consistently,” he said on Friday.

In the US, at least 5 vaccine candidates are in Phase 3 trials. The vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech is among several leading candidates in final testing. Two studies which started trials on July 27 are fully enrolled and ready to start collecting data.

Fauci said we’ll likely know about vaccine efficacy and safety latest by early December and that vaccine doses will be made and ready to go by the end of the year for frontline workers and the most vulnerable. The vaccine will be available widely only by the summer of 2021, according to US public health officials.

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Kim Jong-un pays tribute to fallen Chinese soldiers

He then paid tribute to Mao Anying, the son of late Chinese leader Mao Zedong, who died in the conflict, and a floral basket was laid at his grave, the KCNA said.

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Kim Jong Un

Seoul, Oct 22 : North Korean state-media on Thursday reported that the country’s leader Kim Jong-un visited the cemetery of Chinese soldiers who fell during the 1950-53 Korean War, to mark the anniversary of their participation in the conflict.

It appears to be in line with Kim’s push to further strengthen bilateral ties with China at a time when the North is in need of support from the ally amid stagnant economic growth and stalled nuclear negotiations with the United States, Yonhap news agency reported.

Kim visited “the martyrs of the Chinese People’s Volunteers (CPV) in Hoechang County, South Pyongan Province, and paid a high tribute to them on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the entry of the Chinese People’s Volunteers into the Korean front,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

Hoechang is where the headquarters of the Chinese soldiers was located during the war.

“He said with deep emotion that even though 70 years have passed since the excellent sons and daughters of the fraternal Chinese people made an entry into the sacred Fatherland Liberation War fought by the Korean people, the immortal exploits and heroic feats made by the CPV by sacrificially supporting us… remain vividly in the memory of our people.” the KCNA added.

Kim lauded the participation of Chinese soldiers in the Korean War as a “historic contribution to the great victory in the Fatherland Liberation War.”

“The great victory won by the armies and peoples of the North and China while linking their destiny as one and sharing weal and woe with each other is, indeed, of great significance no matter how much water flows under the bridge,” Kim was quoted as saying.

He then paid tribute to Mao Anying, the son of late Chinese leader Mao Zedong, who died in the conflict, and a floral basket was laid at his grave, the KCNA said.

In July 2013, Kim visited the cemetery and paid tribute to the fallen Chinese soldiers to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean armistice agreement that ended the war, followed by another visit in 2018 to mark the 65th anniversary.

“The difference this year is that they marked the 70th anniversary of China’s participation in the war,” he added.

The North has been seeking to maintain closer ties with its traditional ally amid an impasse in nuclear negotiations with Washington.

Earlier this week, Kim pledged to further boost friendly relations with China in a reply message to Chinese President Xi Jinping, who sent a congratulatory letter to Kim to mark the 75th founding anniversary of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party.

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