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Venezuelan President Maduro survives assassination attempt, says I am alive

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Nicolas Maduro

Caracas, Aug 5: Blaming far-right elements and Colombia’s outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos for carrying out the foiled assassination bid,Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro said “I am alive and victorious.”

Venezuela’s president Maduro has survived an  assassination attempt after several drone explosions disrupted a speech at a military event.

“I am alive and victorious,” the socialist president said in a bellicose televised address. “Everything points to the Venezuelan ultra-right in alliance with the Colombian ultra-right, and that the name of [Colombian president] Juan Manuel Santos is behind this attack.”

Maduro suggested an initial investigation showed Colombia and the US state of Florida, where many Venezuelan exiles live, were linked to the explosions.

Speaking from the presidential palace two hours after the attack, he announced that those behind the attempt on his life had been captured.

The drones, armed with explosives, were flown towards Maduro as he addressed soldiers in the capital Caracas on Saturday afternoon

Maduro was evacuated from a stage on Saturday during a speech at an event event to commemorate the 81st anniversary of the Bolivarian National Guard here after what authorities concluded was an attempted “terrorist attack against the President”.

Two drones loaded with explosives went off near the podium from where the President was speaking, Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez confirmed to the media.

Just few hours after the incident, Maduro appeared on national television saying that as he was mid-speech in the event when a device exploded right in front of him.

“A flying object exploded near me, a big explosion. Seconds later there was a second explosion,” he said, adding that he initially thought it was fireworks as part of the parade.

The President also said that authorities were able to obtain evidence of the attack and said the investigation was in an advanced stage.

It was “an attempt to kill me, they have tried to assassinate me today”, he added.

“The preliminary investigation indicates that many of those responsible for the attack, the financiers and planners, live in the US in the state of Florida,” Maduro said.

“I hope the (President Donald) Trump administration is willing to fight terrorist groups that commit attacks in peaceful countries in our continent, in this case Venezuela.”

The Colombian government however, has denied any involvement, saying there is “no basis” to Maduro’s allegations.

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Singapore court upholds gay sex ban

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Judiciary Court

Singapore, March 31 (IANS) A Singapore court has dismissed a bid to overturn a law that criminalises gay sex, dealing a blow to the city-states LGBT movement, a media report said.

The high court on Monday rejected appeals by three gay men who had argued the colonial-era law was unconstitutional, the BBC said in the report. The presiding judge said the law was “important in reflecting public sentiment and beliefs” in Singapore.

Under Section 377A, men found guilty of homosexual acts in public or private can be jailed for up to two years.

Speaking outside court, a lawyer for one of the complainants, M Ravi, said he was “very disappointed” by the ruling.

“It’s shocking to the conscience and it is so arbitrary,” the BBC quoted the lawyer as saying. The legal challenges were the latest attempts to repeal Section 377A, after an effort by a gay couple in 2014 was rejected by the Court of Appeal.

Singapore’s authorities rarely enforce Section 377A, first introduced in 1938 by British colonial rulers. But the city-state’s leaders have refused to remove it, saying it reflects the conservative mores of the city state’s society, the BBC reported.

In Monday’s judgement, the court echoed that sentiment, saying non-enforcement of the law against consensual gay sex in private did not render it redundant.

The court concluded the law was constitutional because it did not violate articles regarding equality and freedom of speech.
Currently 70 countries criminalise same-sex relations.


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Bangladesh might extend shutdown of office

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Sheikh Hasina
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New Delhi : Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday signalled that the shutdown of offices and workplaces due to the coronavirus pandemic may be extended to April 9.

Hasina made the remark while handing out instructions on the prevention of the novel coronavirus outbreak to field-level officers across Bangladesh via video-conference from her official residence here, reports bdnews24.

“We had declared a 10-day holiday. But it might be extended by a few more days,” Hasina said. Bangladesh announced the closure of all government and private offices and courts from March 26 to April 4 amid mounting fears.
However, the government said the shutdown would not affect emergency services such as hospitals and the fire service.

Public transport would also operate on a limited scale during the holidays, it added. On Monday, the government’s disease control agency has confirmed one more case of the coronavirus infection, taking the total number of infections to 49, bdnews24 reported. The overall death toll stood at five, the agency added.


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Japan to ban entry to people from 73 countries

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Tokyo, March 31 (IANS) Japan said Tuesday that it would ban people from more than a third of the world, including the US, from entering the country to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The US is among a list of 73 countries to which the Japanese government also discouraged travel amid the steep global increase in the number of COVID-19 infections and fatalities, reports Efe news.

Japan raised its travel alert to Level 3 (out of a possible 4), over which it advised against travelling to certain territories under any circumstances.

The alert was extended on Tuesday to 49 countries, including the US, Canada, South Korea, China, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Chile, Panama, Brazil, Bolivia, the UK and Greece, from which Japan will prohibit the entry to travelers who aren’t Japanese, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said at a press conference.

Motegi did not specify when the entry veto would take effect.

In this way, Japan will increase to 73 the countries to which it urges not to travel – more than a third of the world – among which are Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Australia and Iran.

Citizens who have travelled to these countries in the last 14 days are all subject to entry restrictions.

Travel alerts to the rest of the world was maintained at alert Level 2 (which discourages non-essential or unurgent trips).

Japan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement it would follow the evolution of the spread of COVID-19 and said it does not rule out implementing more border restrictions.

The Japanese government has so far reported 2,665 new coronavirus infections and 67 deaths in the country, including 712 cases and 11 deaths linked to the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Japan has experienced an increase in cases detected both in the country and its airports, with more than 10 daily infections identified at the country’s airports for more than a week.

On Monday, 51 of the total 87 cases Japan detected were at airports.


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