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Swedish court jails Frenchman in Nobel scandal for two years for rape



Jean-Claude Arnault, the Frenchman at the centre of a sexual assault scandal that prompted several members of the prestigious Swedish Academy to quit, has been sentenced by a Swedish court to two years in jail for rape.

Earlier The Swedish Academy that decides the Nobel Prize for Literature said that it won’t announce the award for 2018 in the wake of a sexual and financial scandal that has engulfed the organisation.

The Academy, one of Sweden’s most highly respected institutions, made the announcement on Friday morning following a meeting of its remaining 10 active members late on Thursday.

The decision came after a string of sexual assault allegations made against French photographer Jean-Claude Arnault, a leading cultural figure in Sweden and husband of Academy member and poet Katarina Frostenson. Six Academy members, including her, stepped down following the crisis.

For the first time in 75 years, the jury will not unveil a winner this year. The Academy said it will now announce the 2018 winner along with the 2019 winner.

“We find it necessary to commit time to recovering public confidence in the Academy before the next laureate can be announced,” Academy’s Permanent Secretary Anders Olsson said in a statement. He said the Academy was acting “out of respect for previous and future literature laureates, the Nobel Foundation and the general public”.

The Nobel Foundation said in a press release that “the crisis in the Swedish Academy has adversely affected the Nobel Prize. Their decision (the Swedish Academy) underscores the seriousness of the situation and will help safeguard the long-term reputation of the Nobel Prize”.

“None of this impacts the awarding of the 2018 Nobel Prizes in other prize categories,” the foundation said.

Arnault, who ran a cultural project with funding from the Swedish Academy, has been accused by 18 women of sexual assault and harassment, first reported in the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter in late 2017. Several of the alleged incidents reportedly happened in properties belonging to the Academy.

Arnault is also facing the accusation that he touched Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria inappropriately at a Swedish Academy event over a decade ago. Another accusation is that he leaked the names of seven former Nobel winners.

He has denied all the allegations.

The Academy later cut all ties with Arnault and the organisation voted against removing his wife Frostenson from its 18-person committee. There were additional claims that some Academy staff and members’ relatives had experienced “unwanted intimacy” at the Arnault’s hands.

Followed it, there was a wave of resignations including Frostenson and Academy head Sara Danius.

The Academy is also under fire for contravening its own conflict of interest regulations by providing funding to the Kulturplats Forum, the cultural centre run by Arnault and Frostenson.

Carl-Henrik Heldin, Chairman of the Board of the Nobel Foundation, said that they now expect “the Academy to put all its efforts into restoring its credibility and called on members to show greater openness towards the outside world in the future”.

The Nobel Prize for Literature was postponed on seven previous occasions since its launch in 1901, six of which occurred during World War I and II.


No boundary dispute with China: Nepal Foreign Minister




Pradeep Gyawali

Kathmandu, Sep 23 : Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali on Wednesday said that there is no boundary dispute with China, referring to recent media reports that said China had encroached on Nepalese territory and built 11 buildings in Humla district on the Nepal-China border.

Later in the evening, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also issued a statement and denied any encroachment by the Chinese side. These clarifications came amid media reports that China has unilaterally constructed 11 cemented buildings in Nepalese territory recently and locals of the Lapcha area where the buildings were constructed brought it to the notice of the local Humla district administration and protested the move.

But the Nepal Foreign Ministry said late Wednesday that its attention has been drawn to the media reports about the alleged construction of buildings by China within Nepalese territory between the Nepal-China boundary pillars 11 and 12 at Humla district.

“The Department of Survey, Government of Nepal, based on the official records, reports of the joint field inspection and boundary maps, has verified and confirmed that the said buildings are not located within the Nepalese territory,” the statement said.

Earlier on Wednesday, a group of people had protested in front of Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu and chanted slogans against the land encroachment by the Chinese in Humla. The issue of Chinese buildings in question had also surfaced in 2016, the ministry added, an inter-ministerial team after the field inspection had concluded that the said buildings were located approximately one kilometre inside the Chinese territory from the Nepal-China border.

The ministry stated that the boundary between Nepal and China was delineated and demarcated based on the Boundary Treaty and Boundary Protocols signed between the two countries. Nepal and China have always maintained close communication on border matters, it said.

Addressing a press conference Gyawali who is also the spokesperson of Nepal government said that a probe committee comprising officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Land Reform had later shown that the Chinese side had constructed buildings some 1 kilometre away from the Nepal-China border. New buildings were constructed by Chinese authorities for their border security personnel in the same area now.

Gyawali also said that a team led by Chief District Officer (CDO) of Humla district is currently in the Limi village and further details will be available once the team returns to the district headquarters. The Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu also refuted the media reports stating that the buildings mentioned by the media are on the Chinese side and urged the Nepal to verify the construction.

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France’s Macron urges UN mission to visit China’s Xinjiang region

“This is the reason why … France has requested that an international mission under the aegis of the United Nations go to Xinjiang in order to take into account the concerns that we collectively have on the situation of the Muslim Uighur minority,”



Uighur Muslim rights

PARIS : France’s president on Tuesday called for an international mission under the auspices of the United Nations to visit China’s Xinjiang due to concerns over the Muslim Uighur minority.

U.N. experts and activists say at least a million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims are held in detention centres in Xinjiang. China describes them as training centres helping stamp out terrorism and extremism and giving people new skills.

“Fundamental rights are not a Western idea that one could oppose as an interference … these are the principles of our organisation, enshrined in texts that the member states of the United Nations have freely consented to sign and to respect,” Emmanuel Macron said in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly.

“This is the reason why … France has requested that an international mission under the aegis of the United Nations go to Xinjiang in order to take into account the concerns that we collectively have on the situation of the Muslim Uighur minority,” he said.

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Israel reports 2,445 new Covid-19 cases; 193,374 in total




israel coronavirus

Jerusalem, Sep 23 : Israel’s Ministry of Health reported 2,445 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total confirmed cases to 193,374.

The total count of deaths from the coronavirus in Israel rose by 12 to 1,285, while the number of patients in serious condition rose from 653 to 668, out of 1,352 patients currently hospitalised, Xinhua news agency reported.

The number of recoveries in the country increased by 3,971 to 140,751, while the number of active Covid-19 cases stood at 51,338.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Israeli government approved a plan to expand the national economic safety net to deal with the pandemic’s impact.

“Expanding the plan will enable immediate economic assistance for businesses and wage-earners who are expected to be hurt by the current Covid-19 nationwide lockdown,” said a joint statement by the Prime Minister’s Office and Finance Ministry.

The expansion includes the lowering of damage threshold for businesses to receive fixed expenditure grants to 25 per cent, providing advances against the fixed expenditure grants, a comprehensive worker retention plan, and deferring the reduction in unemployment benefits.

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