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Red Cross official hopes for diplomatic talks as Libya’s humanitarian crisis worsens

On Tuesday, Haftar lifted the blockade on oil production, according to the head of Libya’s Petroleum Facilities Guards.

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Libya’s humanitarian crisis is worsening, compounded by the halt of oil operations, blockade of ports and spread of COVID-19, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Thursday.

ICRC President Peter Maurer voiced hope that a flurry of diplomatic activity, including a visit earlier this week by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, would restart a political peace process.

Maurer spoke on return from the divided North African country where he held separate talks with Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj, head of the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), and putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar, whose eastern-based illegitimate forces launched an assault on Tripoli last year.

The ICRC provides clean water to hundreds of thousands of people in the eastern city of Benghazi, evacuates bodies from the battlefield and delivers medicines and protective equipment to health facilities across Libya.

“We have seen reserves depleted; family incomes are used to survive. It has been accentuated by the offensive on Tripoli; it has been further accentuated by COVID, by oil limitations and stops,” Maurer told reporters.

On Tuesday, Haftar lifted the blockade on oil production, according to the head of Libya’s Petroleum Facilities Guards.

“Haftar gave the order to reopen the ports and facilities in order to end the problems experienced by the Libyans in many areas of life and to protect the infrastructure of the oil production and export facilities,” said Naji al-Maghribi.

However, Haftar forces announced on Thursday that the blockade was lifted temporarily for ending electricity problems in the eastern part of the country and will continue in a short time.

Oil production has almost come to a standstill in Libya after pro-Haftar groups shut down oil facilities in eastern parts of the country in January to squeeze resources of the United Nations-recognized Libyan government.

Libya with the largest oil reserves in Africa can produce 1.2 million barrels of crude oil per day. But production has fallen below 100,000 barrels a day due to interruptions by pro-Haftar militias over the past seven months.

Asked about prospects for a cease-fire around the central town of Sirte, Maurer said: “The assets of the National Bank, the oil situation, the cease-fire, or not, around Sirte are highly political issues which need to be negotiated politically.”

Libya has been in chaos since a Western-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011 and since 2014 has been split between factions based in the east and west. Meanwhile, regional powers have aligned themselves with the competing sides.

While Turkey and its regional ally Qatar support the Tripoli-based GNA, Haftar’s forces have backing from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Russia.

Libya’s government was founded in 2015 under a U.N.-led political deal. Haftar launched an offensive in April 2019 to seize Tripoli, but after 14 months of fierce fighting, the Turkish-backed pro-GNA forces expelled his troops from much of western Libya and pushed them eastward to Sirte, a gateway to Libya’s rich oil fields and export terminals.

Maurer said he won pledges from Sarraj and Haftar for the ICRC to increase visits to detention centers in Misrata, Tripoli and Benghazi, respectively, that hold people detained in the conflict.

“In terms of political commitment, it was very clear that there is a readiness now to let ICRC into more places of detention,” he said.

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Who is Preetika Chauhan? Everything to know about ‘Savdhaan India’ actress arrested by NCB

Saavdhan India’ actress Preetika Chauhan (30) was among one of the people who got arrested after getting caught buying drugs. Here’s everything about her!

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The Narcotics Control Bureau made two more arrests in the drug supply case on Sunday. ‘Saavdhan India’ actress Preetika Chauhan (30) was among one of the people who got arrested after getting caught for buying drugs red-handed.

Who is Preetika Chauhan?

Preetika Chauhan hails from Karsog, Himachal Pradesh. She is a B.Tech graduate and had made her acting debut with the film Jhamela, which was released in 2016.

She went on to play goddess Shachi in Sankat Mochan Mahabali Hanumaan.

Apart from Sankatmochan Mahabali Hanuman, Preetika Chauhan also had appeared in a few episodes of CID and Savdhaan India. She was also seen as Bhudevi in Star Bharat show Jag Janni Maa Vaishno Devi.

Preetika was last seen as Goddess Parvati in Santoshi Maa – Sunayein Vrat Kathayein. Preetika was also part of the TV show ‘Devon Ke Dev Mahadev’.

The case is in the ongoing investigation in actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death case. The Bollywood drugs nexus case came to light while a parallel investigation was being carried out by the NCB.

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Only 7% plan on going out to movie theatres in the next 60 days

Results of July, August and October survey by LocalCircles indicate that people continue to stay reluctant in going to theatres and multiplexes due to the Covid-19 scare.

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Even though movie theatres are now open, only 7 per cent people are willing to go to watch a film there in the next 60 days, as per a survey.

Results of July, August and October survey by LocalCircles indicate that people continue to stay reluctant in going to theatres and multiplexes due to the Covid-19 scare.

Cinema halls across the states were allowed to reopen after seven months of the ongoing pandemic induced by the novel coronavirus.

Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are some of the states where theatres and multiplexes have started to function. Cinema halls remain closed in states like Maharashtra, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Chhattisgarh and many northeastern states.

LocalCircles conducted a survey to know if citizens if plan on visiting movie theatres in the next 2 months. The survey received 8,274 responses from across the country.

In the survey, citizens were asked, “now that the multiplexes and theatres are open in many states and the remaining states will also open them soon, will they be going to watch a movie in the next 60 days?”

However, only 4 per cent said they would go to watch if any new releases come and 3 per cent said they will go regardless of new or old movie. 74 per cent said they will not go while 2 per cent were unsure and 17 per cent said they don’t watch movies in theatre.

LocalCircles had conducted similar surveys during past few months to know how people plan to go out to watch movies when the theatres and multiplexes reopen. In the July survey, 72 per cent consumers had said that they will not go to theatres or multiplexes when they open, keeping the Covid-19 scenario in mind.

This number increased to 77 per cent in August and stands at 74 per cent in October.

Cinema halls claim to have taken various measures to ensure safety, such as sanitisation of their premises and other Covid-19 safety protocols. Among others, some of them have started the movie shows with 50 per cent of the total occupancy, staggered show timings, social distancing, thermal screening, adequate protection gear for the staff, etc.

But all said and done, it looks like people continue to be reluctant in going to a theatre or multiplex in the next 60 days, the survey said.

States that are considering opening multiplexes and cinema halls in the coming weeks may want to consider this consumer feedback and accordingly make their decision.

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2020 lockdowns to drive new forms of automation: Report

Document extraction, robotic process automation (RPA) from anywhere, drones and various employee robots will proliferate.

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The ‘great lockdown of 2020 will make the drive for automation in 2021 both inevitable and irreversible and remote work, new digital muscles and pandemic constraints will create millions of pragmatic automations, according to a new report.

Document extraction, robotic process automation (RPA) from anywhere, drones and various employee robots will proliferate.

“In 2021, up to 30 per cent of organisations will ramp up their focus on quality by better planning and testing automation before deploying it to production or exposing it to employees,” said the Forrester report on automation.

Three times as many information workers will work from home all or most of the time, while many companies will institute hybrid models in which workers come to the office less often.

“As a result of the pandemic, new forms of automation will support one in four remote workers either directly or indirectly by 2022”.

Direct support in the form of giving a bot to individual workers to support their daily journey will be rare.

However, indirect support will blossom, as intelligent automation handles employee benefits questions and supports document, customer service, and line-of-business tasks that are often invisible to the home worker, the findings showed.

Recent rapid growth in the consumer drones industry has sparked momentum in the commercial drone market.

While social distancing is a factor in drone usage, two forces will accelerate adoption in 2021.

“First, governments are crafting better regulations to facilitate drone adoption and commercialization, with Amazon Prime Air gaining FAA approval for drone deliveries and India driving drone pilot training with new policies,” according to the report.

Second, the rapid evolution of computer vision and 5G will enable real-time drone intelligence over ultra-reliable, low-latency communications.

Like machine learning, RPA will become an embedded feature of many platforms by the end of 2021.

“But rushed and haphazard automation exposes systems and the business to serious risk, so the lack of focus on automation quality is alarming, the report warned.

It can lead to monumental failures that not only damage a company’s reputation and customer trust but also limit broader public trust in automation (specifically AI) as a result of media scrutiny, it added.

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