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Saudi Crown Prince ordered Khashoggi’s killing: CIA

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Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Washington, Nov 17: The CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, despite the Saudi government’s denials that the de facto ruler was involved, according to a senior US official.

The official told CNN on Friday the conclusion was based on a recording provided by the Turkish government and other evidence, including American intelligence.

Investigators also believed that an operation such as the one that ended in Khashoggi’s death would not have happened without Salman’s knowledge given his control of the government, the official said.

Reacting to the development, a Saudi Embassy spokeswoman said that “the claims in this purported assessment are false. We have and continue to hear various theories without seeing the primary basis for these speculations”.

The Central Intelligence Agency is yet to make an official announcement.

Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post and also former Saudi royal insider who became a critic of the country’s government, went missing on October 2 after he visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain papers for his upcoming marriage.

The Saudi government offered changing explanations for Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Included in the US intelligence analysed by the CIA was a phone call the Crown Prince’s brother Khalid bin Salman made to Khashoggi, encouraging the journalist to make the trip to the consulate to get the documents, according to The Washington Post.

Sources told the Post that Khalid made the call at his brother’s command.

Khalid denied the Post’s reporting, saying on Twitter that he had never spoken to Khashoggi by phone.

“I never talked to him by phone and certainly never suggested he go to Turkey for any reason. I ask the US government to release any information regarding this claim,” Khalid said on Friday.

He said the last contact he’d had with Khashoggi was via text in October 2017.

Fatimah Baeshen, a spokeswoman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, told the Post that Khalid, who is the Saudi ambassador to the US, and Khashoggi never discussed “anything related to going to Turkey”.

The CIA also examined an audio recording from inside the Saudi consulate provided by Turkey and a phone call placed from inside the consulate after Khashoggi was killed.

The location of Khashoggi’s remains remain unknown.

US President Donald Trump’s administration on Thursday imposed penalties on 17 individuals over their alleged roles in the killing of Khashoggi, CNN said.

Earlier Thursday, the Saudi Public Prosecutor’s Office said 11 people had been charged for their involvement, adding that five were facing capital punishment for being directly involved in “ordering and executing the crime”.

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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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Donald Trump

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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covid-vaccine

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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