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WHO partners Microsoft, Facebook for global coronavirus hackathon

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New Delhi, March 25 The World Health Organisation (WHO) has partnered with tech giants like Facebook and Microsoft for a global hackathon, asking developers to build software solutions that drive social impact, with the aim of tackling some of the challenges related to the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The #BuildforCOVID19 hackathon would begin accepting project submissions on Thursday. The hackathon would announce top projects on April 3.

Along with Facebook and Microsoft, tech companies Twitter, WeChat, TikTok, Pinterest and Slack are also participating in the hackathon.

“We’re encouraging YOU – innovators around the world – to #BuildforCOVID19 using technologies of your choice across a range of suggested themes and challenge areas – some of which have been sourced through health partners including the World Health Organization and scientists at the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub,” said the hackathon portal.

Facebook features like Blood Donations and Crisis Response were first built during hackathons and are now used by millions of people worldwide. I’m hopeful that some useful prototypes and ideas will come out of this one as well,” said CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a post.

“Given the isolation currently being experienced within communities right now, we want to create an online space where developers could ideate, experiment and build software solutions to help address this crisis,” said the hackathon.

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Rawalpindi cops banned from posting on TikTok

Police officers in Rawalpindi have been banned from posting on the short video-making app, TikTok, after a video went viral, the media reported on Tuesday

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Police officers in Rawalpindi have been banned from posting on the short video-making app, TikTok, after a video went viral, the media reported on Tuesday.

The police department of the Pakistan twin city has warned that if a video of any officer goes viral on social media, irrespective of whether it is TikTok, Facebook or YouTube, strict departmental action will be taken, The Express Tribune reported.

The new rules were communicated on Monday in a letter issued by Rawalpindi CPO Ahsan Younas to divisional SPs, circle officers and station house officers.

The letter stated that posting videos on social media and going viral presents a negative image of the department.

After the video went viral, at least one officer has been suspended.

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India

India, US need to jointly confront China’s threats to security: Pompeo in New Delhi

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday in the national capital said that India and the US need to jointly confront China’s threats to security in the Indian subcontinent and the Indo-Pacific

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday in the national capital said that India and the US need to jointly confront China’s threats to security in the Indian subcontinent and the Indo-Pacific.

Speaking at the third India-US 2+2 ministerial dialogue in New Delhi, amidst the ongoing face-off between Indian and Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, Pompeo discussed several issues from “cooperating on defeating the pandemic that originated in Wuhan, to confronting the Chinese Communist Party’s threats to security and freedom, to promoting peace and stability throughout the region”.

As per an official statement of the US government, Indian Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar at the meeting raised the issue of security threat India is facing from China. “In the area of defence we are challenged by reckless aggression on our northern borders,” he said at the bilateral dialogue.

The meeting assumes significance because the US secretaries of the Trump administration travelled to New Delhi amidst Coronavirus pandemic even as an intense ongoing campaigning for the Presidential elections due on November 3 was underway in the US.

“Our friendship and commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific was clearly, clearly highly on display when we were in Tokyo this past week and a half for the Quad meeting that Minister Jaishankar and I had with our Australian and Japanese friends earlier this month,” Pompeo told his counterpart.

The US secretary of state said, “Today is real opportunity for two great democracies like ours to grow closer, as I said on my trip to India last year when I called for a new age of ambition in our relationship. I think we’ve delivered on that over this past year. There is much more work to do for sure.”

Together, India and the US are building a better future for “our people based on our shared set of values and our cultures, our defence ties, our scientific collaboration, and mutual prosperity. I thank you for your leadership to each of you to build what ought to be a defining partnership of democracies in the 21st century,” he added.

Jaishankar, at the 2+2 Dialogue said that as the global economy has taken a massive hit due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Indian government has to quickly make up for the losses as economic downturn will have both domestic and external consequences.

According to the US Department of State statement, Secretary of Defence Mark T. Esper, at the meeting with his counterpart Defence Minister Rajnath Singh pointed out that Tuesday marked the 15th anniversary of the first US-India Defence framework.

“We have strengthened our defence and security partnership considerably since then, especially over the past year, during which we advanced our regional security, military-to-military, and information-sharing cooperation. Our focus now must be on institutionalizing and regularizing our cooperation to meet the challenges of the day and uphold the principles of a free and open Indo-Pacific well into the future,” he said.

The two sides discussed key opportunities to expand their efforts on “regional security concerns” and to advance their “defence priorities”, to include increasing information sharing and mutual logistics operations between their militaries.

Jaishankar in his remarks said that at a time when it is particularly important to uphold a rules-based international order, the ability of India and the US to work closely in defence and foreign policy has a larger resonance. “Together we can make a real difference when it comes to regional and global challenges, whether it is in respecting territorial integrity, promoting maritime domain awareness, counterterrorism, or creating prosperity,” he added.

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7 dead, 70 injured in Peshawar madrasa blast

At least seven people were killed and 70 others injured during a blast at a madrasa in Peshawar, according to authorities

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Peshawar madrasa blast

At least seven people were killed and 70 others injured during a blast at a madrasa in Peshawar, according to authorities.

The incident took place “during a Quran class” in the Jamia Zuberia madrasa located in the city’s Dir Colony, reports Dawn news.

According to a spokesperson in Peshwar’s Lady Reading Hospital, four of the victims were students between the ages of 20 to 25.

Meanwhile, a senior police official confirmed that two teachers were among the wounded.

Senior Superintendent of Police (Operations) Mansoor Aman confirmed the explosion, saying that initial reports suggest an improvised explosive device (IED) was used.

“Five kgs of explosives were used in the blast,” Dawn news quoted Aman as saying.

No terror group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.

After visiting the blast site, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra told reporters that the focus was on providing the injured the best possible treatment to increase their chances of recovery.

Prime Minister Imran Khan “strongly condemned” the blast and prayed for the quick recovery of the injured.

Former Prime Minister and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif also condemned the blast, saying that those who targeted the madrasah “could not be Muslims”.

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