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Former Chinese justice minister sentenced to death

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Picture Credit : HIndustan Times

A former justice minister who spearheaded high-profile graft probes during his tenure was sentenced to death on Thursday with a two-year reprieve for taking bribes and “bending the law for personal gains,” according to the report.

Fu Zhenghua, 67, was also the head of Beijing’s municipal public security bureau and vice-minister of public security.

Fu’s arrest comes just weeks before the Communist Party of China (CPC) congress in October, indicating President Xi Jinping’s continued emphasis on “taking out the tigers” of corruption, as part of the anti-graft campaign he launched a decade ago.

As vice-minister, Fu oversaw a high-profile corruption investigation into Zhou Yonkang, China’s top security official who retired as a member of the Communist Party’s politburo standing committee, the country’s highest decision-making body; Zhou was sentenced to life in prison for corruption in 2015.

Fu, who became Justice Minister in 2018, was a rising star until he was deposed in 2021 on corruption charges.

“Fu, former deputy head of the Committee on Social and Legal Affairs of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (after his tenure as justice minister), was accused of bribe-taking and bending the law for personal gains,” said a report on Thursday.

Prosecutors told the Jilin court that Fu used his position to seek gains for others in business operations, official positions, and legal cases.

The court was told that he illegally received “money and gifts worth 117 million yuan ($17.3 million) either directly or through his relatives.”

Prosecutors stated in July, when the trial began, that “during his tenure at the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau, Fu purposefully shielded his brother, who had severely violated the law, from criminal prosecution.”

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), China’s anti-corruption watchdog, previously stated that Fu was a member of Sun Lijun’s “political gang,” which was deposed and prosecuted in 2021 for bribery, stock market manipulation, and illegal gun possession.

Fu pleaded guilty and expressed remorse in his final statement to the court in July.

A death sentence with a reprieve under Chinese law usually means that the sentence could be commuted to life in prison at the end of the two-year term, depending on the accused’s behaviour.

According to China watchers, President Xi Jinping’s decade-long anti-corruption campaign has been one of his signature campaigns, and it has also been used to purge rivals and the disloyal.

When he took over as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in November 2012, Xi identified “corruption” as one of the primary “pressing issues” China faced.

Since then, the campaign has centred on “swatting the flies” and “taking out the tigers,” with “flies” representing low-ranking officials and “tigers” representing high-ranking officials.

According to a report, discipline inspectors across the country had dealt with nearly 4.4 million cases involving discipline violations as of April 2022, involving 4.7 million people.

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Swedish geneticist Svante Paabo receives Nobel Prize in Medicine

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Swedish geneticist Svante Paabo receives Nobel Prize in Medicine

The Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology 2022 was awarded to Svante Paabo for his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution, announced the award-giving organisation on Monday.
“The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute has today decided to award the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Svante Paabo for his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution,” read the Nobel Prize statement. The 2022 Nobel Prize laureate Svante Paabo found that gene transfer had occurred from the now extinct hominins to Homo sapiens.
This ancient flow of genes to present-day humans has physiological relevance today, for example affecting how our immune system reacts to infections, the statement said.
Svante Paabo has established an entirely new scientific discipline, pale genomics. By revealing genetic differences that distinguish all living humans from extinct hominins, his discoveries provide the basis for exploring what makes us uniquely human.
Through his pioneering research, Svante Paabo accomplished something seemingly impossible: sequencing the genome of the Neanderthal, an extinct relative of present-day humans. He also made the sensational discovery of a previously unknown hominin, Denisova, entirely from genome data retrieved from a small finger bone specimen.
Importantly, Paabo also found that gene transfer had occurred from these now extinct hominins to Homo sapiens following the migration from Africa around 70,000 years ago, the statement read. Svante Paabo is a Swedish geneticist specialising in the field of evolutionary genetics who was recruited to the University of Munich in 1990, where, as a newly appointed Professor, he continued his work on archaic DNA.

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Imran challenges Pak govt to arrest him over leaked audio

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Imran challenges Pak govt to arrest him over leaked audio

As the controversy regarding the leaked audio continues in Pakistan, former Prime Minister Imran Khan has challenged the coalition government led by the Pakistan Muslim League (N) to arrest him.
At a public gathering in Taxila, Punjab on Sunday, the deposed leader said PML-N vice-president Maryam Nawaz wanted the cypher to disappear in a bid to hide the conspiracy hatched by PM Shehbaz Sharif’s party. “This is the movement of real independence and we are ready to face jails. I am ready to go to jail and for my nation as well. “We are not afraid of jail,” he was quoted as saying by The Nation.
The cypher is an alleged secret diplomatic cable which fueled conspiracy theories that the US administration wanted to topple Imran Khan’s government and facilitate regime change in the country.
The cypher is based on then-envoy Asad Majeed’s meeting with US State Department official Donald Lu, who has been at the centre of PTI’s claim that the US conspired to dislodge Imran from office in April.
During his address, Khan said, “They have started a new drama regarding the disappearance of the cypher while its master copy is in the office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Maryam Nawaz can ask her ambassador about it, “he added.
While referring to the Pakistan army, he said, “Those who could prevent the conspiracy from succeeding, if they call themselves neutral at this time, the nation will never forgive them.” Pakistan’s Federal Cabinet has formally given the go-ahead to start legal action against former PM Imran Khan over the recent audio leaks that purportedly featured him and his aides discussing a US cypher.
On Friday, the Pakistan federal cabinet met with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in the chair.

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Taiwan disapproves of China’s false claims about its sovereignty

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Taiwan disapproves of China’s false claims about its sovereignty

Taiwan on Sunday rebutted Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s remarks about the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) resolve to achieve unification and said that it sought to undermine the legitimacy of Taiwan.
Taiwan will never accept Beijing’s attempts to undermine its sovereignty, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said yesterday, after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) at its National Day celebrations in Beijing vowed to achieve unification with Taiwan, reported Taipei Times. The council said the statement was an attempt to undermine the legitimacy and sovereignty of Taiwan. “We will never accept such ideas,” it said.
The CCP’s statement was not conducive to peaceful cross-strait relations, the council said, reported Taipei Times.
The event, hosted by the Chinese State Council, featured Chinese President Xi Jinping, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, the other five CCP Politburo Standing Committee members and Vice President Wang Qishan, among others.

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Chinese Communist Party propagates inevitability of Xi’s third term

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Chinese Communist Party propagates inevitability of Xi’s third term

In the run-up to the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), propaganda has been centered around projecting the inevitability of a third term for President Xi Jinping. Incidentally, at the end of his anticipated third term, President Xi would become the second longest-serving head of the CCP after Mao Zedong, who was in control of various positions for 33 years and 174 days. Xi would also surpass the tenure of Jiang Zemin, who led the CCP as General Secretary for 13 years and 145 days during the period 1989–2002.
Interestingly, the expected third term would provide Xi an opportunity to further stamp his authority on the party, military, and government with the intent of creating an enduring legacy. Meanwhile, the CCP, as part of its efforts to shore up public support for Xi’s third term, announced on September 27 that it would publish a compilation of documents, called the “Revitalisation Library,” which would highlight China’s pursuit of national rejuvenation as well as the long-term goals of the party.
President Xi underlined that the ‘Revitalisation Library’ is a major cultural project, aimed at bolstering public confidence in the country’s path. President Xi also reappeared (September 27) in public, for the first time in the aftermath of his return from Samarkand, and visited an exhibition in Beijing on the country’s achievements since 2012.
Xi was also accompanied by Beijing-based members of the Politburo of the CCP. Significantly, Xi calls Mao’s time the ‘revolution period,’ Deng Xiaoping’s the ‘building period,’ Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao’s the ‘reform period’ while calling his term a ‘whole new era.’

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Liz Truss’ government takes U-turn on plan to scrap 45% tax cut

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Liz Truss’ government takes U-turn on plan to scrap 45% tax cut

Days after UK Prime Minister Liz Truss insisted she would not abandon the tax cut for the wealthiest, the conservative government on Monday took a U-turn on the plan to scrap the 45 per cent tax cut.
The British government has announced it will reverse plans to scrap the highest rate of income tax following a major backlash to its proposed “growth plan,”. In a statement posted online Monday, new Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng said the plan “had become a distraction. We get it, and we have listened. “
Kwarteng said that the proposed scrapping of the 45% rate for those earning more than 150,000 pounds (USD 167,000) had become a “distraction.” “From supporting British businesses to lowering the tax burden for the lowest paid, our Growth Plan sets out a new approach to build a more prosperous economy,” he said in a statement on his Twitter account.
However, it is clear that the abolition of the 45% tax rate has become a distraction from our overriding mission to tackle the challenges facing our country, “he added.
As a result, I’m announcing we are not proceeding with the abolition of the 45% tax rate. He also defended the delay in the reversal, saying, “We can always have a debate about when we could’ve made the decision, but the important thing is we’ve made the decision and we can now move forward with making the push for the growth plan.”
The radical cuts sent the pound plunging to historic lows and sparked market chaos, leading to a revolt within the governing Conservative Party. The U-turn comes after several Tory MPs voiced their opposition to the plan announced just 10 days ago in the mini-budget.
The proposal to scrap the rate paid by people earning over £150,000 a year has been criticised as unfair at a time of rising living costs. The damage is already done in terms of the Truss government’s standing with the voters and the markets.

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Death toll rises to 43 in suicide bombing at Kabul school

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Death toll rises to 43 in suicide bombing at Kabul school

The death toll from a suicide bombing at the Kaaj Educational Center in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, has gone up to 43. The casualty figures in Friday’s college bombing in the Hazara neighbourhood are likely to rise further, as per the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). Till now, 43 people have been killed and around 83 have been wounded, with girls and young women as the main victims. The human toll from Friday’s college bombing in the Hasra neighbourhood of the Afghan capital continues to rise. 43 killed. 83 wounded Girls and young women are the main victims. Casualty figures are likely to rise further. “The verification process continues by UNAMA human rights teams in Kabul,” tweeted UNAMA.
Earlier, on Friday, a blast occurred in the 13th security area of Kabul, Taliban spokesperson Abdul Nafee Takour was quoted. Multiple media reports claim that about 100 students of the institute have been killed in the attack. However, the UNAMA said that its human rights teams in Kabul are helping to establish an accurate record of the college attack in the Hazara neighbourhood.
Earlier, a number of women from Afghanistan’s minority Hazara community on Saturday protested in Kabul against the terror attack at the Kaaj Educational Center. The female protestors dressed in black chanted slogans against the genocide of minorities and demanded their rights.
This explosion comes a few days after a blast was reported near the Wazir Akbar Khan area of Kabul that sparked a global outcry. The recent blast outside the Russian Embassy in Kabul was also condemned in the strongest terms.
This series of blasts comes as the Taliban completed one year of its rule in Afghanistan following the ouster of the US-backed civilian government last year. Rights groups said the Taliban had broken multiple pledges to respect human and women’s rights. Meanwhile, the Taliban on Monday shot into the crowd of young girls who were peacefully protesting in Herat to demand their right to go to school. 
Rights groups say that the Taliban’s human rights abuses have brought widespread condemnation and imperilled international efforts to address the country’s dire situation.

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