In Pictures: Dubai Fitness Challenge 2020 kicks off
A knife attacker killed three people, cutting the throat of at least one woman, inside a church in Nice on the French Riviera on Thursday. The brutal killings come only two weeks after a French teacher was decapitated outside his school north of Paris by an Islamist extremist — the teacher had shown his pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed during a lesson on freedom of speech.
Here is what we know so far:
At 8:29 am French time (0729 GMT) a man with a knife began attacking people praying inside the Basilica of Notre-Dame in the heart of the Mediterranean city. The attacker had a copy of the Koran and three knives with him, France’s anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard told a news conference.
In a near half-hour frenzy in the Notre-Dame basilica in the centre of Nice, the assailant used a 30 centimetre (12 inches) knife to cut the throat of a 60-year-old woman, who died inside the church.
The body of a man, a 55-year-old church employee, was found nearby inside the basilica — his throat had also been slit.
Another woman, a 44-year-old who had fled the church to a nearby restaurant, died shortly afterwards from multiple knife wounds.
The killer was shot and wounded by police who arrived quickly at the scene. Videos seen by AFP show he was hit at least six times in a side exit from the church.
Even as he was being arrested the man continued to shout “Allah Akbar” (God is greatest), before he was rushed to the city’s Pasteur hospital.
Who is the suspect?
The 21-year-old Tunisian suspect only arrived in France earlier this month after coming to Europe on a migrant boat via the Italian island of Lampedusa at the end of September, an official source told AFP. The suspected knifeman called himself “Brahim” when he was arrested and later claimed to be Brahim Aouissaoui, the source added.
Who were the victims?
The dead man was the church’s sacristan, a 45-year-old father of two girls, according to Canon Philippe Asso, the church’s most senior cleric. The killer’s first victim was a 60-year-old woman, who he tried to behead, and the other woman who died was a mother in her 40s.
“Tell my children I love them,” she managed to say before her death, according to French cable channel BFM TV.
Is it a terror attack?
The French authorities are treating it as a terror attack, with the anti-terrorist prosecutor immediately opening an inquiry into “murder and attempted murder linked to a terrorist enterprise.” President Emmanuel Macron called it an “Islamist terrorist attack”.
Officers investigating a serious assault at Seven Sisters Underground station are today (Friday, October 30) releasing CCTV images in connection.
Just after 8pm yesterday evening (Thursday, October 29), two victims were approached by an unknown man and each struck on the head with a hammer in an unprovoked attack.
Both victims received medical attention and thankfully did not suffer life-changing or life-threatening injuries.
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Officers believe the man in the images may have information which could assist their investigation.
If you recognise him, or have any information, please contact BTP by texting 61016 or calling 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference 455 of 29/10/20.
Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
BTP Inspector, Gary Pinner, said: “This is a concerning, unprovoked attack in a busy Underground station. We are really keen to trace and speak to the individual in the images.
“Thankfully, incidents like this are rare on the railway network and we have deployed reassurance patrols in the area.
“I’d ask anyone who recognises him to please text us on 61016, or call 999 if you see him.”
Kolkata Knight Riders spinner Varun Chakravarthy might have become the first bowler in IPL history to dismiss MS Dhoni bowled twice in a season, but he’s still winning over hearts of Dhoni and CSK fans.
Varun, from Chennai, has had a fairytale IPL 2020 which has catapulted him to the Indian T20I side for the tour of Australia. On Thursday, he bamboozled Dhoni with a skidder that uprooted his stumps. After the match, Varun was seen getting his jersey signed by the former Indian captain, who also passed on some tips to the upcoming bowler ahead of the Australia tour.
A video posted by the KKR franchise on social media showing Dhoni talking to Varun went viral. Varun capped it by adding a famous Tamil song: ‘Thala Pola Varuma?’, which roughly translates to ‘can there be another Thala’. Dhoni is fondly called ‘Thala’ (leader or head) by Chennai fans.
@msdhoni Thank you for sharing some wise words and for inspiring🙏🏿
“THALA POLA VARUMAA”😎🙏🏿🙏🏿 pic.twitter.com/0GIoQmV3Uu
— Varun Chakaravarthy (@chakaravarthy29) October 30, 2020
Dhoni has been on a mentorship-mode through the IPL 2020, handing out jerseys to youngsters and talking to them during the post-match team interactions. This was just another sweet gesture that has floored fans of MS Dhoni.
Dei dei dei yaarrra nee!! 😂 Varun giving tuff to all video editors by foraying into IPL fan video edits. Don’t forget he did a Kaththi motion poster fan edit 6 years back! Audience pulse pudikarthuku ennalam pannanumo, adha correcta panran. In other words, paya pudishtaaan! 😂 https://t.co/FTFgMhXRos
— Srini Mama (@SriniMaama16) October 30, 2020
Enna da edit lam podra. Varun C dei 😂
But Thala is still providing tips even after you got him twice in two occasions. Because, Thala Thala thaan 😎 https://t.co/22DUsHNEFb
— Tracer Bullet (@ravimaestri) October 30, 2020
This kind of reception is possible for very few legends
You have my ❤️
You didn’t celebrate both the times you got Thala’s wicket
Any other youngster would jumped in air
Thala Thala Dhaan ❤️ https://t.co/zjR6VJh1MA
— Santhosh YVD (@Yvd_Santhosh) October 30, 2020
Three years back, Varun Chakravarthy was one among many cricket aspirants in Chennai cheering for Chennai Super Kings and MS Dhoni from the stands at MA Chidambaram stadium in Chepauk. He was a net bowler in the CSK camp, hoping to impress the likes of Dhoni with his multiple variations. After the first match against CSK Varun had said “After the match I took a picture with Dhoni sir. I just want to say one thing in Tamil – Thala, thala dhaan.”
The 15th Finance Commission, which decides the devolution of financial resources between states and the Centre, is set to submit its final report for the years 2021-2022 to 2025-2026 to President Ram Nath Kovind on November 9, according to an official statement.
The commission will also present a copy of the report to Prime Minister Narendra Modi next month.
The report will contain recommendations for the next five years, beginning 2021-22, and is likely to be tabled in the Parliament along with an action-taken report by the government on February 1, when finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman presents her third Union budget.
The Constitution, through Articles 280 to 281, provides for a unique mechanism in finance commissions for the division of taxes and revenues vertically between the Centre and states, and horizontally among all states, based on their levels of development, prosperity and regional needs.
The finalisation of the report, that will divide taxes between the Centre and states, comes at a time when states and the Centre are at loggerheads over the Goods and Services Tax compensation.
The 15th Finance Commission’s report could be a landmark for its recommendations regarding public health and is likely to stress upon healthcare, given the Covid19 pandemic. It may also recommend the formation of a non-lapsable defence and internal security fund.
In an interview on July 8, chairman NK Singh had said that for the first time, the report is likely to devote an entire chapter on public health financing when it submits its final report.
“The public sector has an inescapable obligation towards health. The private sector alone cannot fulfil it. Of course, there will be public-private partnerships. Over the next five years, the Centre alone should be able to spend at least 2.1% of GDP on health. Let’s see,” Singh had said.
Singh had, in that interview, also said the new public health financing model for the country would include financial incentives and grants to states for a “couple of sectoral items”. “Let’s say, if a state provides for X as public health infrastructure, then it will qualify for Y incentive.” Health facilities have to be demand-driven, he said.
In another interview on July 21, Singh had talked of a “development matrix” which will bring the levels of social development, especially access to health-care and schooling, of states into the framework of how resources are distributed.
The finalised report was signed by, apart from Singh, members of the commission, Ajay Narayan Jha, Prof Anoop Singh, Ashok Lahiri and Ramesh Chand.
Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit has assented to a bill envisaging 7.5 per cent reservation to government school students who have cleared the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test in admission to undergraduate medical courses. A day after the state government took the executive route to implement the quota regime from the current 2020-21 academic year itself and issued a government order to facilitate it, the Raj Bhavan said “this is to inform the people of Tamil Nadu that the honourable Governor has given his assent to the bill.” The Governor sought legal opinion from the Solicitor General of India (SGI) on September 26 and the opinion was received on October 29, the release said.
“As soon as the opinion was received, honourable Governor has given assent to the Bill,” the statement said. Amid accusations that Purohit delayed clearing the quota bill, the Raj Bhavan, pointing out that the bill was approved soon after the receipt of legal opinion -that the Bill is in sync with Constitution- assumes significance.
Chief Minister K Palaniswami said efforts were afoot to implement the reservation from the current year. DMK president M K Stalin claimed Purohit gave his assent to the quota bill as he was left with no other choice and thanked him for giving his nod.
His party’s protest and the hope expressed by the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court were behind Purohit’s “change of heart.” In a twitter post, Stalin said the approval came after 45 days and when the time for medical counselling was nearing and the Governor had to approve in view of such factors. Hearing a batch of public interest litigation petitions, a division bench had on Thursday hoped that the Governor would take a decision at the earliest.
BJP’s Khushbu Sundar said, “We deliver when we promise.” PMK chief S Ramadoss said Purohit’s consent was the victory of the people. The Raj Bhavan said Purohit sought to know if the proposed quota was in accordance with the Constitution and compatible with Articles 14 (Equality) and 15 (prohibition of discrimination).
The SGI, Tushar Mehta, in his opinion said ‘intelligible differentia’ would enablereservation for socially and educationally backward class, an affirmative action. The bill is in “consonance with the Constitution of India,” Mehta noted adding it is however subject to judicial review and also to other constitutional principles like those related to the upper limit to reserved seats.
The Tamil Nadu Admission to Undergraduate Courses in Medicine, Dentistry, Indian Medicine and Homeopathy on preferential basis to the students of Government Schools Bill 2020, was passed on September 15 in the Assembly and sent to Purohit for his approval. The ruling AIADMK sought expeditious clearance of the bill since the quota should be implemented from the current year and a group of Ministers too had called on Purohit at the Raj Bhavan recently.
Finally, the government issued an order on Thursday – pending assent of theGovernor for the bill, which showed the government’s intention to ensure its implementation from the current academic year. The DMK had targeted the Governor for ‘delay’ in clearing the bill and had days ago held a massive protest.
It had also hit out at the AIADMK regime for not pressuring Purohit to get the bill cleared. Tamil Nadu Assembly elections are due during April-May 2021.
BJP Tamil Nadu unit chief L Murugan had said Purohit should clear the bill immediately. The “time taken by him (to examine it) is enough,” Murugan had said.
The Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi too had alleged the BJP-led Centre was not interested in providing reservation to students from poor background..
IPL 2020 Playoff Qualification Scenarios: With Chennai Super Kings ensuring a top-four finish for Mumbai Indians, by beating Kolkata Knight Riders on Thursday, six teams are left to fight it out for the remaining three playoff spots. Mumbai still have top-two finish to play for in their remaining two games while RCB too are in a healthy position to finish in the top four. Delhi Capitals seem to be losing steam and KXIP on the contrary are picking up the pace. The recent loss has nearly put to rest KKR”s qualifications hopes while Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals are still in with an outside chance to claim one of the top four spots.
We look at the latest qualifications scenarios for each team
With two games in hand and 16 points in their kitty, they are through to the play-offs. But with the remaining games, the aim for the defending champions will be a top-two finish which will come to fruition if they win at least one of the two matches. Lose both and they may lose out on a top-two finish.
Delhi Capitals, Sunrisers Hyderabad
With 14 points and two games remaining, they need at least one win to seal the playoff berth but will be aiming to win both and seal a top two-finish. Lose both games and they remain on 14 and with potentially all other teams barring CSK in with a chance to reach 14 points, Net Run-Rate would come in to play. RCB’s NRR currently is +0.048, which is a healthy one, but assuming they lose their remaining two games, that NRR would take a hit.
Delhi Capitals, Sunrisers Hyderabad
Win both their games and book a top-two finish. Lose both and they will finish on 14 points bringing in NRR into play. They have endured heavy losses in their recent games meaning the NRR will suffer further if they are unable to break their losing streak. Win one game and they will end up with 16 points and would seal a playoff berth. However, DC face two teams placed higher than them in the table in MI and RCB. So a win in either game will be a tough ask and if they slip up again, that would be curtains for the Shreyas Iyer-led side.
Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore
A resurgent Kings XI Punjab are on a five-match winning streak and if they manage to extend it to seven they would complete a stunning turnaround after losing six of their first seven matches. With that, they could finish with 16 points and seal a playoff berth. A win and loss will still keep KL Rahul’s team in the hunt for the playoff but they will be dependent on other results and also the NRR. Lose both games and they will be out of the playoff race. They face RR today and this will be the best chance for them to knock the playoff doors. In the final match, they will be up against CSK. Lose any one of their last two and they are out.
Rajasthan Royals, Chennai Super Kings
Kolkata Knight Riders have not done themselves any favour by losing their previous match to CSK and with one game remaining and at 12 points, they can potentially go to 14 only. This means for a playoff spot, first, they have to overcome RR in the last game and hope KXIP lose both their games and SRH at least one of their remaining two. That way they will be placed higher up in terms of points. If other teams also reach 14, points, KKR can only hope for a better NRR. Lose their last game and KKR’s campaign will come to an end.
Sunrisers Hyderabad have will only have an outside chance to make the playoffs even if they win both their games — against RCB and MI. They can go up to 14 points and can only hope for favorable results in other matches to progress to the next stage. Three other teams apart from Mumbai can finish higher on points than SRH. They can force NRR in to play only if at least two from KXIP, DC and RCB don’t get to 16 points and remain on 14. Lose any one of their games and that’s will be the end of SRH in IPL 2020.
Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mumbai Indians
Similar to SRH, RR are on 10 points with two games remaining and can only go up to 14. Favourable results plus two wins are what they need to qualify for playoffs. Lose either one and they are out. Win both and they bring NRR to the table, but they are already behind SRH, so it is unlikely RR will make it unless they improve their NRR significantly. They take on KXIP today and then for their final game they face KKR.
Already out of the playoff race, MS Dhoni-led side will face KXIP in their final match and with a win over KKR, they dented Eoin Morgan’s side’s playoff chances and a win over KXIP, will bring curtains to Punjab’s campaign as well.
China’s strict formula of immediate lockdowns and mass testing even at the first signs of infection has been vital to its success in controlling the disease, allowing its economy to quickly recover from the crisis, officials say.
The highly orchestrated strategy – described as “overkill” even by its own proponents – is unique among major economies at a time when Europe and the United States are facing a massive surge of new cases and often chaotic policies.
At the time the girl was diagnosed, the Kashgar region of Xinjiang had reported no new cases for almost 70 days.
“China has taken the most comprehensive, strictest and most thorough control and prevention measures since the COVID-19 pandemic started,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Wednesday (Oct 28).
“The facts show China’s measures are effective.”
Key to the programme are factors unique to China, including the Communist Party’s tight grip on all aspects of society.
Authorities have unimpeded access to personal information as part of an expansive surveillance network, which has played a major role in tracing infections.
The government has also quickly enlisted the help of businesses, which are churning out tens of millions of test kits, and tightly controls their pricing and distribution, issues which have severely set back efforts to contain the disease in other countries.
China has reported just 2,382 cases since June. By contrast, Germany and France are set to follow Italy and Spain back into partial lockdowns, as Europe reported a record 230,000 cases in one day earlier this week, while US cases are set to hit 9 million soon.
In August, Beijing ordered all major hospitals in the country to offer testing, and said there should be one urban testing base constructed for every million residents, with the capacity to scale up to 30,000 tests a day in a local outbreak.
Regions are also required to share resources, in sharp contrast to the early days of the outbreak, when several cities were accused of stealing equipment from each other.
The system, like all Chinese Communist blueprints, is highly structured around specific targets; testing teams should be able to complete a campaign within seven days.
Earlier this month, almost 11 million test results were delivered in around five days in the eastern port city of Qingdao. In Wuhan, the initial epicentre of the pandemic, over 9 million samples were taken over 10 days in May.
The mass testings are mandatory. Some are held in outdoor sporting venues and city parks, with hundreds of people lining up.
PUTTING PEOPLE AT EASE
Epidemiologists have called into question the efficacy of the mass testing events, noting some patients require multiple tests over time to return a positive result.
The tests in Kashgar this week revealed around 38 positive cases for every million people tested. In Qingdao, a mass testing of around 10.9 million samples revealed no infections after an initial 13 cases were detected.
Testing is also costly. Wuhan’s 10-day spree cost 900 million yuan (US$134.27 million), according to official figures, even as the government intervened to keep costs low.
Reuters earlier reported that Chinese hospitals had begun purchasing millions of dollars worth of testing equipment across in an unprecedented medical spending spree.
But the mass testings are also a key piece of political theatre for Beijing, which faced a wave of internal criticism in the early days of the outbreak.
“After the nucleic acid test screening, the people and administrative officials felt at ease,” said Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist for the Chinese Centre for Disease Control, in an interview with local media.
The four-day plenary of the Chinese Communist Party signed off on President Xi Jinping’s plan to put innovation at the heart of China’s modernisation drive to develop the country into a powerhouse riding on the strength of domestic spending and tech self-reliance. But it was the party’s unusual decision to outline its vision for 2035 that has renewed buzz around President Xi’s plans for himself.
President Xi has never spoken about his plans but dropped enough hints over the last few years that he does not intend to walk away after completing his two terms that end in 2022. One of them was the decision to scrap a constitutional bar introduced by Deng Xiaoping in 1982 that prevented China’s president from serving more than two terms. That move had sparked off speculation that 67-year-old Xi Jinping could end up becoming China’s President-for-life.
The 67-year-old Chinese President has already emerged as the communist party’s most powerful leader after its founder Mao Zedong, holding the posts of party General Secretary, head of the military besides the Presidency.
In October 2017, Xi was only the second Chinese leader after Mao to have had an eponymous ideology included in the party’s charter while in office. President Xi firmly established his stamp of authority at that party plenary when he got the party leadership to end the system of collective leadership, a safeguard introduced by Deng Xiaoping to protect Chinese people from an autocratic regime similar to Mao Zedong’s years in power.
This year, he had the Xi Jinping Research Center for Diplomatic Thought opened that elevated his philosophy on par with Mao.
The 2017 plenary meeting that surrendered the leadership’s powers to Xi Jinping had been preceded by another purge of rivals in the party and the army, mostly by filing corruption cases against them. According to one analysis, commander-in-chief had purged 73 general-rank officers by 2016 and elevated officers loyal to him.
The CCP’s closed-door plenum consisting of about 204 full central committee members and 172 alternate members is held annually to review the policies of the party and the government. Previous plenums – the party’s name for these key meetings – have been used to signal personal moves, indicating leadership succession plans. But, there were none in the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in its fifth plenary session’s document, which included a longer-term focus to 2035 by which time Xi would be 82, the same age as Mao Zedong when he died in 1976.
China watchers link Beijing’s aggressive moves in the South China Sea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and at the Indian borders to Xi Jinping’s superpower ambitions vis-a-vis the United States that come across in his signature projects such as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), upgrading Chinese cities into smart cities through 5G and artificial intelligence, and pulling more countries into the ambit of the Chinese financial system.
The success of this strategy was on display this week when the United States secretary of state Mike Pompeo attempted to turn Sri Lanka into a partner in its alliance against the Chinese. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is reported to have told the US team about the island’s reluctance to take sides, particularly in light of the billions of dollars that Beijing had poured into the island for years.
China watchers said the distinct possibility that President Xi Jinping could remain in power would be a key factor that countries would take into account when dealing with Beijing. “This is not a democracy where there is a possibility that the leadership can change after a certain period,” one of them said.
Like in the US where Donald Trump faces a challenge from Joe Biden, who is expected to be less unpredictable if he reaches the White House. Most observers believe that Biden was unlikely to be as shrill as Trump on China but it is going to be difficult for any US president to adopt a very different approach given President Xi’s ambitions.