WFP director for Afghanistan warns of ‘tsunami of hunger’

BRUSSELS — Afghanistan is facing a “tsunami of hunger” because of a shortage of funds that’s needed to keep the supply of food intact as country teeters on the edge of economic run with more than half of the population struggling to eat this winter, a senior official with the United Nations World Food Program said on Thursday. In an interview with The Associated Press, WFP leader in Afghanistan Mary-Ellen McGroarty urged the international community to put humanitarian necessity above political discussions and avoid disaster by making sure that billions…

UST BlueConch Wins Excellence Award for Best Security Practices in IT/ITES Sector

Thiruvananthapuram:  UST BlueConch, the product and platform engineering services arm of UST, a leading digital transformation solutions company, has won the DSCI Excellence Award for the Best Security Practices in an Organization in IT-ITES Sector among small/medium size companies in India. Data Security Council of India (DSCI), is a not-for-profit, industry body on data protection in India, set up by NASSCOM®, committed to making cyberspace safe, secure and trusted by establishing best practices, standards and initiatives in cyber security and privacy. DSCI Excellence Awards is an effort to recognize, honor…

Norwegian National Ballet refuses to drop insensitive ballet “La Bayadère”: Hindus to appeal PM Støre

Norwegian National Opera & Ballet has refused to discard its upcoming production of “La Bayadère”; scheduled for March 23-April 07, 2022 in Oslo; which protesting Hindus feel seriously trivializes Eastern religious and other traditions and is culturally insensitive. “We do not plan to cancel the production”, Norwegian National Opera & Ballet (Den Norske Opera & Ballett) Communications Director Kenneth Fredstie wrote to distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded the protest. Fredstie, however, admitted in the email that “La Bayadère” features “fascination with, but also ignorance of, other cultures”. Responding to Zed (who is…

20 years on, US must close ‘ugly’ Guantanamo chapter: UN experts

GENEVA  – Two decades after the first detainees arrived at Guantanamo Bay, a group of UN experts on Monday urged Washington to finally close the site of “unrelenting human rights violations”. More than a dozen independent UN rights experts voiced outrage that the military prison in Cuba created after the September 2001 attacks to house detainees in the US “war on terror” was still operating. They described the detention centre run by the US Navy, first opened to detainees on January 10, 2002, as a site of “unparallelled notoriety” and…

Russia, US make no breakthrough on Ukraine but agree to keep talking

GENEVA  – Russia told the United States at tense talks Monday that it had no plans to invade Ukraine, as the two sides agreed to more efforts to keep tensions from turning into a full-blown confrontation. After more than seven hours of negotiations in Geneva, the Russian and US officials both offered to keep talking, though there was no sign of a major breakthrough. The high-stakes meeting came amid fears of a Russian invasion of its pro-Western neighbour Ukraine. Moscow has demanded wide-ranging concessions from Washington and its NATO allies,…

Millions more locked down as China battles Omicron spread

BEIJING – Five million residents of a central Chinese city started home confinement Tuesday in a new lockdown to curb the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus, according to state media. Beijing is on high alert for new outbreaks as it prepares to host the Winter Olympics next month, sticking to a “zero-Covid” strategy of targeted lockdowns, border restrictions and lengthy quarantines. While those measures have kept the number of new cases far lower than virus hotspots in the United States and Europe, Beijing is currently…

US, Russia kick off ‘difficult’ talks on Ukraine

GENEVA – A top Russian official said he had a “difficult” conversation with his US counterpart on Sunday as preliminary talks on Ukraine got under way amid fears of a Russian invasion of its pro-Western neighbor. “The conversation was difficult, it couldn t have been easy,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency after meeting US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman during a working dinner in Geneva. Ryabkov described his talks with Sherman, which lasted a little over two hours, as “business-like.”…

Biden comforts families in fire-devastated Colorado

LOUISVILLE  – Some asked to hug, others got hugged without asking and one man, wearing the only clothes he had left, just clasped hands with Joe Biden as the US president made an emotional tour Friday of a devastating Colorado wildfire. Surrounded by apocalyptic damage from the inferno, Biden sought to comfort locals. The 79-year-old Democrat has long been famous for his ability to show empathy with the suffering and his powers were on full display as he moved along a line of families and firefighters in Louisville, which burned…

Taliban religious police issue posters ordering women to cover up

KABUL  – The Taliban s religious police have put up posters around the capital Kabul ordering Afghan women to cover up, an official said Friday, the latest in a string of creeping restrictions. The poster, which includes an image of the face-covering burqa, was slapped on cafes and shops this week by the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. Since returning to power in August, the Taliban have increasingly curtailed freedoms — particularly those of women and girls. “According to Sharia law, Muslim women must wear…

US, NATO take firm line ahead of Russia talks on Ukraine

WASHINGTON – The United States said Friday a diplomatic solution was possible with Russia but that it would not give in to its demands in talks next week, as NATO warned of real risks Moscow will invade Ukraine. Top Russian and US diplomats meet Monday in Geneva after Moscow amassed tens of thousands of troops on the Ukrainian border and urged the West to agree in writing not to expand NATO. With unusual bluntness, Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Russia of “gaslighting” the world by alleging provocations by Ukraine…