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US government shuts down

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Washington, Jan 20: The US government began shutting down on Saturday, putting thousands of workers on unpaid leave, after the Senate failed to pass a stopgap budget.

The shutdown marked the first anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, media reports said.

It is the first shutdown in US history to happen while the same party controls both chambers of Congress and the White House, the BBC reported.

Despite last minute bipartisan meetings, the bill to fund the government until February 16, did not receive the required 60 votes.

The budget proposal presented by the Republicans on Friday night got more votes in favour (50) than against (48), but they were insufficient to approve funds. Four Republicans voted against the bill while five Democrats broke rank to support it.

Earlier on Thursday night, the House of Representatives voted 230-197 to extend funding until February.

Minutes before the midnight deadline expired, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders blamed Senate Democrats on Twitter for the “Schumer Shutdown”, the New York Times report said. (Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, is seen as the prime opponent to the stopgap budget).

“Tonight, they put politics over our national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country’s ability to serve all Americans,” Sanders said.

“We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands.

“This is the behaviour of obstructionist losers, not legislators,” she added.

Sanders said “the President and his administration will fight for and protect” the American people during the “politically manufactured” shutdown.

The rejection of the funding bill by the Senate meant many government services would close down until the budget was agreed upon.

The last US shutdown was in 2013 during the Barrack Obama administration. It lasted for 16 days when many federal employees were forced to take leave of absence.

On Saturday, Trump wrote on Twitter: “Not looking good for our great Military or Safety and Security on the very dangerous Southern Border. Dems want a Shutdown in order to help diminish the great success of the Tax Cuts, and what they are doing for our booming economy.”

According to a report in The Guardian, federal law requires agencies to shut down if Congress has not appropriated money to fund them.

In previous shutdowns, services deemed “essential”, such as the work of the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, have continued.

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Protests over Putin’s plans to hike retirement age

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Russia protest over pension age

Moscow, Sep 22 (IANS) Members and supporters of Russia’s Communist Party took to the streets of the capital on Saturday to protest unpopular pension reforms planned by President Vladimir Putin.

Putin took measures to soften his proposed hike in retirement age in August by limiting the increase for women to 60 — up from 55 — instead of the initial suggestion of 63, Efe news reported.

But the change of plan has so far failed to quell protests against it. He stood by plans to raise men’s retirement age from 60 to 65.

Protesters held signs emblazoned with slogans such as “Putin Lies”. Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov also spoke at the rally.

The changes have been given a preliminary green-light by the State Duma, Russia’s lower parliament, but have provoked widespread outrage. An opinion poll showed that about 90 per cent of Russians were against increasing the retirement age.

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Ready to boost anti-terror cooperation with Iran: Putin

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Vladimir Putin

Moscow, Sep 23 (IANS) Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed condolences to his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, over a deadly terrorist attack and reaffirmed readiness to intensify counter-terror cooperation, the Kremlin said on Saturday.

“We are outraged by this bloody crime. Hopefully, everyone involved will be held liable,” Putin said in his telegram to Rouhani, which was published by the Kremlin, Xinhua news agency.

At least 24 people were killed in a terror attack in a military parade in the southern Iranian Ahvaz city on Saturday, official IRNA news agency reported.

This incident is another proof of the need for “uncompromising war on any manifestations of terrorism,” Putin said.

“I would like to confirm our readiness to further enhance cooperation with our Iranian partners in the fight against this evil,” he said.

The President offered condolences to the relatives and friends of those killed in the attack and wished a speedy recovery to those injured, according to the Kremlin.

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Watch Prince Harry stealing samosa at Meghan Markle’s event

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New Delhi, Sep 22: Prince Harry was caught on camera sneaking samosas from her wife’s Meghan Markle’s cookbook event. 

The Duke of Sussex had hosted an event at Kensington Palace to mark the launch her book “Together: Our Community Cookbook” on
Thursday and in the quirkiest way her husband was seen stealing Indian Snack ‘Samosas’.

The British television network, ITV shared a video on the @itvnews Twitter account on September 20.

In the video, Harry can be seen trying to hide the samosa as he caught red-handed. Later, he smiled and casually walked away checking his surroundings.

Meghan’s book features recipes from a group of women whose community was affected by the Grenfell Tower fire that claimed more than 70 lives.

As the video went viral, Twitterati’s just can’t stop laughing at the Royal Prince’s cheeky act.

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