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Suspected Rincin detected in envelope sent to President Trump, Pentagon



Donald Trump

Washington, Oct 3 : Investigation is on after the U.S. Secret Service said Tuesday that it intercepted a suspicious envelope addressed to President Trump after the Pentagon confirmed seizing packages containing deadly toxin ricin used in biological attacks by terror groups.

A day earlier, one of at least three reported instances of suspicious mail being sent to government- or political-related offices in recent days.


Ricin, which is extracted from castor beans, after specific treatment is highly poisonous and has been used by the Al Qaeda terrorist group to carry out biological attacks.

The Secret Service said it is working with law enforcement partners to investigate the matter.

The Secret Service, which is the agency that protects the president and his family, said in a statement on Tuesday that it detected “a suspicious enveloped addressed to the president.”

“The envelope was not received at the White House, nor did it ever enter the White House,” the Secret Service confirmed.

Although normally the Secret Service does not comment on security matters, it said that “in this instance, we can confirm that we are working jointly with our law enforcement partners to fully investigate this matter”.

The agency provided no details about the possible contents of the envelope or where it originated, but the report came on the same day that the Pentagon revealed that it had intercepted a suspicious package that, according to preliminary analysis, contained ricin, a powerful poison.

Two pieces of mail tested positive for ricin by the Pentagon mail facility that were addressed to US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson, the Defense News reported.

The FBI, which is leading the investigation, is expected to conduct a second test to confirm the initial finding on Tuesday.

Chris Sherwood, a Pentagon spokesman, said authorities at its screening site “recognised some suspicious packages,” noting they were “suspected to be ricin”.

He stressed that authorities were still waiting for confirmation that the packages contained ricin. Pentagon police referred the matter to the FBI for investigation.

The package, which at no time actually entered the Pentagon but rather was intercepted on Monday at a mail sorting facility in one of its neighbouring buildings, was detected by agents of the defence headquarters security force, a department spokesman, Colonel Robert Manning, said in a statement.

The package was turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for additional analyses.


Pakistan’s economy shows positive indicators: PM’s Office




Imran Khan Pakistan PM

Islamabad, Feb 28 : Pakistan’s economic indicators are seeing a constant improvement due to efforts made by the current government to overcome the serious economic challenges, the Prime Minister’s Office said on Friday.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, chairing a meeting of his economic team, expressed satisfaction over the improvement in all sectors, adding that his government is making efforts to bring a trickle-down effect of the improving economy on general public and in this regard steps are being taken to provide relief to low income and salaried class of the country, Xinhua reported.

He also directed the economic team to keep the public updated about the positive indicators of the economy in a bid to win the confidence of the local businessman to invest in the country.

Earlier this month, the prime minister approved subsidy of Pakistani Rs 10 billion ($65 million) on five essential food items for controlling rampant inflation in the country.

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Iranian vice president tests positive for coronavirus



Tehran, Feb 28 Iran’s Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar has tested positive for the coronavirus, an official said on Thursday.

Ebtekar’s adviser Fariba Ibtihaj said the vice president tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, Iran’s official IRNA news agency  reported.

“Everyone in the vice president’s team was also tested and the results will be available on Saturday,” she said.

Ebtekar is not the first high-ranking Iranian official to contract the virus.

Ebtekar, joins the deputy health minister, the head of the national security commission and a reformist MP who have been infected with the virus, reports Efe news.

She tested positive on Thursday after showing symptoms the previous day during a cabinet meeting, according to state TV.

The politician is one of the most recognizable in the Islamic Republic and previously held the position of environment minister.

Iran has reported 26 deaths from the deadly disease and 245 cases total with a dramatic surge of 106 new infections registered on Thursday, the Health Ministry said.

Tehran authorities have decided to close down schools and universities in the country to curb the spread of the disease.

Friday prayers in the capital have also been cancelled.

Amid the spread of the virus, neighbouring countries have closed their land borders with Iran and most airlines have suspended their flights or imposed restrictions on air travel to the country.

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COVID-19 cases in South Korea reach 2,022, 13 deaths




Seoul, Feb 28 The number of coronavirus cases in South Korea increased to 2,022 on Friday, with a total of 13 fatalities as the nation aggressively counters the fast-spreading virus with massive testing, particularly for 210,000 followers of a religious sect at the centre of the epidemic.

The 256 new cases brought the nation’s total infections to 2,022, the Yonhap News Agency quoted the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) as saying.

Only two days ago, the number of infections exceeded 1,000.

More than half of newly confirmed cases were linked to a branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the southeastern city of Daegu, 300 km southeast of Seoul.

Of the 256 new cases, 182 are in Daegu, and 49 are in the neighbouring North Gyeongsang Province.

Since raising the virus alert level to “red”, the highest level, on Sunday, health authorities have focused on halting the spread of the virus in Daegu, the epicentre of the virus outbreak in South Korea, and North Gyeongsang.

Experts said the number of confirmed cases is expected to jump in the coming days as health authorities have begun testing more than 210,000 members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus.

The government also ordered another 1,638 Shincheonji followers to self-isolate as they have shown symptoms, Yonhap News Agency said in its report.

Since the first coronavirus case — a Chinese woman from Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak — on January 20, the pace of infections had not been alarming until February 18, when a 61-year-old woman who is tied to the Daegu religious sect tested positive for the virus.

Since then, the nation has seen an explosion in infections as it accelerated virus tests on potential cases.

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