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US says ISIS weakening due to casualties

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Isamic State or Daesh /ISIL is becoming weaker as the day progresses because of the battlefield casualties and desertions.Islamic State has as many as 25,000 fighters in Syria and Iraq, down from a previous estimate of up to 31,000, according to a US intelligence report revealed by the White House on Thursday.

The report cited that factors such as battlefield casualties and desertions are the reasons behind the 20% decrease in fighters, and said the report showed a US-led campaign to crush ISIS was making progress.

The new intelligence estimate “means they continue to be a substantial threat, but the potential numbers have declined,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

“ISIS has sustained significant casualties,” Earnest said.

AS ISIS is thinking of spreading to other countries its base is becoming weak in Syria  and Iraq due to the US led air bombing in ISIS strongholds  and also by the US-backed Iraqi security forces and tribal militias.

“ISIL is having more difficulty than they’ve had before in replenishing their ranks, and we have long been aware of the need of the international community to cooperate to stop the flow of foreign fighters to the region,” said Earnest.

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445 people died from Australia bushfires smoke: Experts

Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra all had periods where they had the worst air quality in the world as a result of the smoke.

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Australia bushfires

Canberra, May 26 : Smoke from Australia’s devastating 2019-20 bushfires killed at least 445 people, health experts revealed on Tuesday.

Fay Johnston, a public health expert from the Menzies Institute for Medical Research at the University of Tasmania, told the bushfire royal commission on Tuesday that her team estimated that 445 people died as a result of the smoke that blanketed much of the nation’s east coast, reports Xinhua news agency.

It takes the total death toll from the 2019-2020 bushfire season, which has been dubbed the “Black Summer”, to nearly 480 after 34 people lost their lives directly.

According to modelling produced by Johnston and her colleagues, 80 per cent of Australians were affected by the smoke at some point, including 3,340 people who were hospitalized with heart and lung problems.

“We were able to work out a yearly cost of bushfire smoke for each summer season and… our estimates for the last season were A$2 billion in health costs,” Johnston said.

“There’s fluctuation year to year, of course, but that was a major departure from anything we had seen in the previous 20 years.”

Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra all had periods where they had the worst air quality in the world as a result of the smoke.

Commissioners also heard on Tuesday that the increasing frequency of significant bushfire events in Australia meant that survivors no longer feel safe during the recovery phase.

“Disasters are no longer perceived as rare events, they are often seen as climate change, and they’re part of our new reality,” Lisa Gibbs, a child welfare expert from the University of Melbourne, said.

“We don’t know how that is going to affect recovery because the seeds of hope are a really important part of people’s ability to deal with what has happened and to get back on track.”

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Business

UK non-essential shops to reopen from June 15: PM Boris Johnson

The British Retail Consortium said it welcomed the announcement, adding it provided “much-needed clarity on the route ahead”.

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Boris Johnson

London, May 26 : All non-essential retailers across the UK will be able to reopen from June 15, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced, as part of plans to further ease the COVID-19 lockdown in the country.

Adressing the daily Downing Street coronavirus briefing on Monday, Johnson said that the move was “contingent on progress in the fight against coronavirus”, and retailers will have to adhere to new guidelines to protect shoppers and workers, the BBC reported.

Outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from June 1.

Johnson said new guidance had been published for the retail sector “detailing the measures they should take to meet the necessary social distancing and hygiene standards”.

“Shops now have the time to implement this guidance before they reopen,” he said.

“This will ensure there can be no doubt about what steps they should take.”

Commenting on the development, Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “Enabling these businesses to open will be a critical step on the road to rebuilding our economy, and will support millions of jobs across the UK.”

The British Retail Consortium said it welcomed the announcement, adding it provided “much-needed clarity on the route ahead”.

A spokesman for the Confederation of British Industry added that the new guidance would help retailers to open “safely and securely”.

However, not all businesses are pleased with the announcement, said the BBC report.

The British Association of Independent Retailers said many small shops had been preparing to open from next week, adding: “It is therefore a little disappointing for the smaller retailers not to be able to open until June 15, especially as they can make it safe to do so.”

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Politics

Biden emerges from quarantine on Memorial Day

“It feels good to be out of my house,” Biden told reporters, adding: “Never forget the sacrifices that these men and women made. Never, ever, forget.”

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Vice President Joe Biden

Washington, May 26 : Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden has made his first public appearance at a Memorial Day event after more than two months in quarantine amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the media reported on Tuesday.

Wearing a black face mask, the former Vice President accompanied by his wife Jill, on Monday presented a wreath of white roses at Delaware’s War Memorial Plaza, before observing a moment of silence to commemorate the military personnel who fought in World War Two and the Korean War, reports the BBC.

“It feels good to be out of my house,” Biden told reporters, adding: “Never forget the sacrifices that these men and women made. Never, ever, forget.”

Biden last made a public appearance about 10 weeks ago.

Shortly before defeating his Democratic rival Bernie Sanders in primary elections in Florida, Illinois and Arizona, the presidential nominee was forced to self-isolate because of the spread of coronavirus.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania also took part in a wreath-laying ceremony as part of Memorial Day commemorations on Monday.

The President visited Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia and then the historic Fort McHenry in Baltimore.

Trump, who has been reluctant to wear a face mask but said recently he would do so “where it’s appropriate”, appeared without any face coverings at both events on Monday.

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