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US court declares Bill Cosby a ‘sexually violent predator’

At a retrial in April, Cosby was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault against Andrea Constand.

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Bill Cosby

New York, Sep 25 : Once dubbed “America’s Dad”, comedian Bill Cosby, 81, has been labelled a “sexually violent predator” by a US court, implying that he must undergo counselling for life and appear on the sex offenders’ registry.

The Pennsylvania judge made the ruling ahead of sentencing the comedian for drugging and molesting a woman at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004, reports bbc.com.

At a retrial in April, Cosby was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault against Andrea Constand.

The classification by court means he will need to register with state police and notify any community he lives in of his sex offender status, as well as undergo mandatory counselling for life. Neighbours, childcare centres and schools will have be notified of his whereabouts.

The actor’s defence team had argued the state’s sex offender law was too severe given Cosby’s age, as well as the fact that he is legally blind.

The two-day hearing at Montgomery County Courthouse in Pennsylvania began on Monday.

Psychologist Kristen Dudley testified on Monday that Cosby showed signs of a mental disorder and was likely to reoffend.

Apart from the label, Cosby still faces a maximum prison term of 10 years after an agreement between prosecutors and his defence team, but there is no mandatory minimum for the convictions.

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele called for five to 10 years in jail for aggravated indecent assault.

Cosby’s defence is pushing instead for house arrest, according to bbc.com.

In June 2017, Constand described how Cosby, whom she viewed as a “mentor”, gave her pills that left her “frozen” and unable to stop his assault.

The comedian was arrested in 2015 and a deadlocked jury resulted in a mistrial in June 2017.

This year’s retrial occurred amid the #MeToo movement that has seen people worldwide come forward to share stories of sexual harassment and assault.

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Health experts warns of Covid-19 resurgence in Japan

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A group of health experts have warned that although Japan has witnessed a down trajectory in the number of new Covid-19 cases, the country could still see a resurgence of the virus.

On Thursday, Japan reported 474 new cases, taking the cumulative total to 80,592, Xinhua news agency.

Cases in the seven days through September 22 totalled to 3,287, dropping from 3,731 recorded in the previous week.

The experts on Thursday pointed out that the reproduction number in Japan (R0 or R-number), also known as the R value, which measures the average number of people that one infected person will pass on a virus to, has risen to one.

They said that infections had shown a resurgence since the beginning of September in a number of prefectures, including Miyagi, Gunma and Chiba.

The group added that in Kyoto and Osaka, rising cases were indicative of a resurgence of the virus.

As for Tokyo, the experts said the declining trend of new cases had “bottomed out”.

The health experts are waiting to determine whether Japan’s four-day weekend recently, which saw increased travel across prefectures and more group-oriented recreation, such as dining out, may have affected the increase in cases.

They noted that while the number of patients requiring hospitalization and designated as “severely ill” has been declining since late last month, the pace of decline has been markedly slow.

“We need to keep an eye on when the impact of the movement of people during the holidays will come out,” Takaji Wakita, director general of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases who heads the advisory group for the health ministry, was quoted as saying.

Of the new cases Thursday, the Tokyo metropolitan government reported 195 new cases with 39 of them comprising employees from a food processing plant in the city’s Edogawa Ward, where a cluster has been confirmed.

Tokyo’s cumulative total, the highest among Japan’s 47 prefectures, reached 24,648, the city reported Thursday.

Nationwide, outbreaks have also been reported at construction sites, food processing factories and barbecue parks, officials have said.

Osaka Prefecture, Japan’s second hardest-hit region by the virus, confirmed 66 new cases Thursday, bringing its total caseload to 10,271 infections.

Tokyo’s neighboring prefecture of Kanagawa, meanwhile, confirmed 58 new infections, to total 6,508 cases.

Japan’s death toll from the virus stands at a total of 1,550 people.

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No boundary dispute with China: Nepal Foreign Minister

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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,”

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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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