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NEW DELHI: The 39 Indian citizens kidnapped in 2014 by ISIS in Iraq were killed, confirmed external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj today.

The minister said in the Rajya Sabha that a deep penetration radar has confirmed the death of the hostages who had been taken from Mosul. Their mortal remains were exhumed and sent to Iraq's capital Baghdad for DNA sample verification ."Yesterday, we got information that DNA samples of 38 people have matched and DNA of the 39th person has matched 70 percent," she said.

In July last year, Swaraj firmly said in Parliament that she would not declare the 39 Indians dead without concrete proof or evidence."It is a sin to declare a person dead without concrete evidence. I will not do this sin," Swaraj said in a statement in the Lok Sabha in 2017.

Now, with the deaths confirmed, Swaraj said the Indians' mortal remains will be brought back to India by Union minister of state for external affairs, VK Singh."General VK Singh will go to Iraq to bring back mortal remains of Indians killed in Iraq. The plane carrying mortal remains will first go to Amritsar, then to Patna and then to Kolkata," the minister added.

Most of the 39 killed were from Punjab and were working on projects near Mosul when they were kidnapped during their evacuation.Swaraj today also informed the House that the story of Harjit Masih, who managed to escape from ISIS, was a lie. Harjit had claimed the Indians were shot dead soon after they were abducted, but that was not how it happened, said the minister.What happened was that Harjit escaped with some Bangladeshi prisoners who were kidnapped along with the Indians. He had earlier falsely claimed that he was shot in the leg and pretended to be dead.


Mohammed bin Salman implemented some reforms on women's rights, loosening clothing restrictions, participation in workforce and lifting ban on driving

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince In His Own Words

WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES:  Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is set to meet with US President Donald Trump in Washington on Tuesday.

Mutual rival Iran will be high on the agenda, but the 32-year-old strongman prince will also be looking to showcase his sweeping changes to Saudi society and an increasingly assertive foreign policy that includes the war in Yemen and an ongoing diplomatic feud with Qatar.

The following are quotations from an interview he gave to CBS News on Sunday.

The Role Of Women

Prince Mohammed has implemented some reforms on women's rights, loosening clothing restrictions, pushing for greater participation in the workforce, and, significantly, lifting a ban on women driving.

But guardianship laws, which require women to seek the permission of male relatives for a host of activities, remain in place.

"We have extremists who forbid mixing between the two sexes and are unable to differentiate between a man and a woman alone together and their being together in a work place. Many of those ideas contradict the way of life during the time of the Prophet," he said.

"We are all human beings and there is no difference."


Roots Of Saudi Extremism

The prince acknowledged Saudi society was dominated by particularly harsh strain of conservative Islam, which he traces back to 1979, the year of the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the seizure by extremists of the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

"We were victims, especially my generation that suffered from this a great deal," he said.

"This is not the real Saudi Arabia. I would ask your viewers to use their smart phones to find out. And they can google Saudi Arabia in the 70s and 60s, and they will see the real Saudi Arabia easily in the pictures.

"We were living a very normal life like the rest of the Gulf countries. Women were driving cars. There were movie theaters in Saudi Arabia. Women worked everywhere. We were just normal people developing like any other country in the world until the events of 1979."

The Purge

He defended at length his anti-corruption purge which saw many of the kingdom's princes and tycoons detained for several weeks inside Riyadh's luxurious Ritz-Carlton hotel widely seen as an attempt to cement his grip on power.

"What we did in Saudi Arabia was extremely necessary" and legal, he said.

He said he was able to recover more than "$100 billion" of ill-gotten wealth from the detainees, but added: "The idea is not to get money, but to punish the corrupt and send a clear signal that whoever engages in corrupt deals will face the law."

His Personal Wealth

The prince has been accused of hypocrisy over his opulent lifestyle at a time his government is preaching greater austerity of its citizens and has imposed new taxes.

He was recently revealed as the owner of a French chateau described as the world's most expensive home, according to a report in the New York Times.

But he insisted his wealth was a private matter. "As far as my private expenses, I'm a rich person and not a poor person. I'm not Gandhi or Mandela.

He added: "But what I do as a person is to spend part of my personal income on charity. I spend at least 51 percent on people and 49 on myself."

Ascent To The Throne

As heir to the throne after his father King Salman dies, the young prince could be set to rule the kingdom for the next half century or more.



Asked what could stop him, he replied: "Only death."

(This story has not been edited by  staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Official hints at presidential seal for bill outlining universal identification document in the coming weeks

Manila: Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to sign in the coming weeks a landmark legislation that will provide Filipinos with a universal identification card.

“I’m hopeful that the bill will be passed into law as early as next week,” budget secretary Benjamin Diokno said during a recent press briefing in Manila where the passage of the bill by the Senate was also announced.


Diokno said he had high hopes that Duterte would sign the National ID Law before Easter.

Last March 14, the Philippine Senate passed the Philippine Identification System Act of 2018 after parallel bills calling for a national ID system spent years pending approval by both chambers of Congress (the Senate and House of Representatives).

The Senate version of the National ID Act Senate Bill 1738 had been sponsored by Senator Panfilo Lacson.

“There were two dominant schools of thought promoting the national ID. There is the security community who believes that it can aid in policing. There are our economic managers who think that such an ID will plug the leaks in the use of government services. In other words, security and savings had been the primary concern of these measures. To these, the Senate injected a third and better perspective: service, a card that will serve the people,” said Senator Ralph Recto.

The House of Representatives had already approved the bill months ago.

The Philippines had lagged behind its neighbours in coming up with a national identification system.

Socioeconomic planning secretary Ernesto Pernia said despite the numerous ID cards issued by the government in in the Philippines, 14 per cent of Filipinos are denied of government and other financial services due to a lack of proper identification documents he said citing a recent study of the World Bank’s ID for Development group (ID4D). He said a universal ID card will address this concern.

“No matter how good a programme is in principle, the government fails when people, especially the poor, cannot access it simply because they cannot present any ID,” Pernia noted.

The implementation of the country’s first ever national identification system will be pivotal in ensuring that every Filipino and resident can have access to public services and development opportunities, according to him.

He said the World Bank study was based on data collected from November 2017 to February 2018 through interviews, field visits, and desk research.

“Results of the study also show that the Philippines’ identity landscape is fragmented, inefficient and duplicative with at least 25 functional ID systems, many of which are paper-based.

“A common ID used by Filipinos apart from birth certificates and voter’s ID is the passport, back-office processing requirement of which are twice and thrice costlier than in Thailand and Indonesia, respectively,” the study adds.

“We need a system that will unify all government IDs to facilitate citizens’ transactions with government and even with the private sector. Hence, a national ID system can open up opportunities especially for the poor and marginalised and will make public service delivery more efficient,” Pernia said.

Pernia also noted how the new ID system is crucial in making sure that poor households that will be affected by the newly implemented tax reform law will receive the government’s tax safety nets.

Mohammad Bin Salman compares Iran’s Supreme Leader to Hitler in his quest for regional dominance

Dubai: Saudi Arabia’s crown prince has compared the supreme leader of Iran to Adolf Hitler and said that his country would acquire a nuclear bomb “as soon as possible” if Iran developed nuclear weapons.

Mohammad Bin Salman’s comments released Thursday, were part of excerpts of a prerecorded interview with “60 Minutes,” the CBS News programme.Saudi Arabia blames Iran for funding militias to undermine Arab states by fomenting sectarianism.

The two countries are on opposite sides of conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Iraq.

Mohammad is scheduled to arrive in the United States on Monday for an extended trip. His plans include meeting with President Donald Trump in the White House and with business, entertainment and technology leaders in a number of US cities.

One of his primary goals is to persuade Americans to invest in his reform plans, which aim to diversify the Saudi economy away from oil, increase the kingdom’s military self-sufficiency and raise its citizens’ quality of life.

His comments on Iran also suggested that he would seek further US cooperation in combating Iranian influence in the Middle East, a goal he shares with the Trump administration.

In the interview, Mohammad, 32, played down Iran’s power, saying its army was not well ranked in the Muslim world and that Saudi Arabia had a larger economy.

“Iran is far from being equal to Saudi Arabia,” he said, speaking through a translator.

When asked about his previous comments comparing Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, to Hitler, he replied, “Absolutely.”

“He wants to create his own project in the Middle East very much like Hitler, who wanted to expand at the time,” the crown prince said.

“Many countries around the world and in Europe did not realise how dangerous Hitler was until what happened, happened. I don’t want to see the same events happening in the Middle East.”

He was then asked whether Saudi Arabia sought nuclear weapons to counter Iran.

“Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible,” he said.

Saudi officials grew furious with the Obama administration for its push with other world powers to reach an agreement placing limits on Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

Like Israeli leaders and many Republicans in the United States, they claimed that the agreement would merely delay Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons, while ignoring Iran’s other activities, such as supporting Shiite militias.

Philippine Labor Minister Sylvester Bello has announced that the ban on sending Filipino workers to Kuwait "will continue until Kuwait makes formal charges against those accused of killing Filipino worker Joanna Dimafelis, who died in a flat in Kuwait after being killed and put in a refrigerator." Handing over suspects and charging them with the murder of Demafiles. " 

"The ban on sending workers to Kuwait can not be lifted, although there is a final draft agreement between Kuwait and Manila," Bello said. "A recommendation could be made to lift the ban on sending skilled Filipino workers Of non-servants ».
"It came under the direction of the President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Douterti, who stipulated that there should be an agreement to ensure that justice will be given to the servant Joanna Demafelis," the Philippine minister said. "We still have to fulfill this second condition. .


Manila: The Philippines will resume negotiations with Kuwait this week on what Manila hopes would be a model labor agreement that would provide strong guarantees on the safety and welfare of Filipino household service workers. The Department of Foreign Affairs said an eight-member Kuwaiti delegation will be in Manila from 15 to 16 March 2018 for the negotiations on the proposed “Agreement on Domestic Workers’ Recruitment, Employment, and Protection Between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the State of Kuwait.”

“We are looking forward to the conclusion of this bilateral agreement that we hope will be a model document in terms of providing the necessary guarantees to ensure the safety and well-being of our household service workers in Kuwait,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano said. Secretary Cayetano issued the statement on Monday evening shortly after he and Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III met at the Manila Hotel with foreign affairs and labor officials involved in the negotiations.

The Secretary said the Philippines should go beyond the usual in the negotiations with Kuwait, noting that bilateral labor agreements Manila had previously entered into with other countries look good on paper but could not be effectively implemented. “President Duterte wants this agreement to be different from the other agreements we signed with other countries by making sure that whatever is written there will translate into real, actionable measures that will protect our kababayans from exploitation and abuse,” Secretary Cayetano said.

The Secretary said the Philippines was earlier able to secure the commitment of Kuwait on several matters, including the minimum monthly salary of KD120.00; rest hours of at least eight hours per day; possession of their passports and mobile phones; and limiting their work to only one household, During the Manila Hotel meeting, Secretary Cayetano again underscored to the members of the Philippine negotiating panel the need to include more practical measures to make the proposed agreement more implementable. Among the measures Secretary Cayetano earlier said he would want to see in the agreement would be payment of salaries direct to the bank account of Filipino domestic workers whenever feasible and a mechanism that would allow them to file their complaints directly with Kuwaiti authorities.

Secretary Cayetano said these measures should be in place before the DFA and the DOLE would recommend the lifting of the labor deployment ban that the President declared early this year in the wake of the reported widespread abuses of Filipino domestic workers, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola said the Kuwaiti delegation that will participate in the negotiations would be led by Ambassador Ghanim Saqer Al-Ghanim, Assistant Minister for Legal Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The other members of the Kuwaiti panel are from the Residence Affairs Department of the Ministry of Interior and the Public Authority for Manpower of the Ministry of Labor.

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Kuwait: A large number of Philippine expatriates will take part in a march on Friday, March 16, in support of relations between Kuwait and the Philippines, the march will cover the distance between the Kuwait Society of Engineers and the Kuwait Towers.
Dr. Khalid Al-Enzi launched the initiative and coordinated with the Philippine community to take part in the event under the slogan ‘Friends Forever.’

Al-Enzi said that he had sent invitations to ministers and MPs to take part in the march which aims at confronting attempts to undermine relations between the two friendly countries.


Kuwait: In an effort to reduce the costs of expat health care on the country’s government, Expats who suffer from cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and several other illnesses will no longer be able to obtain residencies in Kuwait, The news comes after the country’s Ministry of Health released a list of 22 illnesses that make people ineligible to apply for permanent residency status in the country.

Other illnesses featured on the list include renal failure, vision problems, squinting, and tens of others, In her statement on the matter, Assistant Undersecretary for General Health Affairs in the country’s Ministry of Health, Majida Al Qattan, confirmed the news, stating that it comes in line with a GCC council decision which dates back to 2001.

She also explained that the main aims behind the decision are to reduce the costs of expat health care on the country’s government and ensure that expats arriving in the Gulf state are fit to work.
Before the implementation of the most recent expat ban, Kuwait did bar people with infectious diseases from entering or leaving the country, as per international laws.

Those diseases include Aids, Herpes, Hepatitis B and G, Malaria, Leprosy, Syphilis, Tuberculosis, and Gonorrhea, However, this is the first time the country bans people with non-infectious illnesses from entering it.

Speaking to Al Watan, sources said the most recent move is set to be criticized by international human rights organizations because it is unusual to ban people from entering countries if the illnesses they suffer from are not infectious, The source added that the list now being implemented was introduced to the Gulf state’s government eight years ago but was not approved until earlier this year.

In October 2017, Kuwait increased all public health fees for expats for the first time in two decades, Even though the move is still being applied, Kuwait’s Health Minister, Sheikh Dr. Basel Al-Sabah, said the increased health fees are now being reassessed “as they were imposed based upon a government proposal not a parliamentary one.”

China's regulators have eliminated hundreds of private networks, which direct user requests to virtual networks located on server servers, hiding users' real sites or destinations.
The Beijing government wants to shut down private companies that provide access to Facebook, YouTube and other services. For years, thousands of private networks in China have provided opportunities to circumvent restrictions on Internet services and visit Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter and other government-listed sites on the black list. But that has changed now.
Beijing authorities say they will block or block any private Internet services and services provider as of March 31.
"I have an idea of what the regulators can do," said Sunday Yokopitis, president of Golden Frog, the private network provider in Austin.
In January 2015, Yukopitis stated that his computer was featured in a range of email alert systems and complaints from Chinese customers, and something was disrupted by the service of Fiber in Golden Fruge by blocking target server addresses, rendering them unusable in China.
"They have blocked all our servers at the same time," he said. That is a random crackdown, and things have gotten worse since then. "
Beijing has officially denounced the non-use of private networks for its service, "Great Firewall". The March 31 deadline marks a new stage in its commitment to a wide-ranging prosecution, such as that of Yukopitis three years ago.
The Chinese government says that by the end of this month, people in China will have to stop using unlicensed networks and adhere to licensed government channels. This is a key item in China's biggest campaign against freedom of expression in the Internet age, a campaign that has been actively working over the past year on watching TV programming, violent video games and even celebrity news.
Virtual networks
Controllers have essentially eliminated hundreds of private networks that direct user requests to virtual networks located on server servers and hide users' real sites or destinations.Some of the owners of these companies were imprisoned, and during the summer Apple began removing its program on private networks from the Chinese version of Apple Store.
Fiber and Express are still on the BBC and Noord in the BBC, and few others are working to bypass the government and hire additional Cloud servers from Amazon and Web services to improve their network services. It also works on a program that can make user activities appear licensed, and sometimes by hiring IP addresses used by government-approved services.
Game Showdown
The process of confrontation and defense of private networks' capacity is becoming increasingly acute, said Yokobitis. In the past two months, his team has banned six Viper-style attacks in 2015. "We've seen attacks every three or four months," he said. Robbie Gonzalez, head of communications at Panama-based Nord BV, said her company had seen a similar escalation and was expecting more after the deadline.
The Chinese government is employing thousands of professionals to find ways to thwart private network programs and has begun forcing China Telecom Corp. and other state-owned enterprises to withhold any unauthorized traffic to private companies that they can monitor even when they visit authorized sites such as Taobao Mall - The huge line of Alibaba Holding Group.
"This is a new technique," said Harold Lee, vice president of Express BV, which is officially based in the British Virgin Islands. "It's like trying to lower the experience on private networks so you can not use them."
There are two main ways to detect and block private network services - the first is to sign up with a provider and verify the address used and then ask the providers to block it. The second method is to search for Internet traffic to identify links with encryption protocols. Like an armored vehicle, the most secure private networks are easy to define in this way even if you do not know what is inside it specifically. "This is an arms race," said Ralph Halls, a lecturer on networking and cyber security at the University of Sydney. "The government's performance is improving every day.
Cost of networks
Most leading private network services cost between $ 6 and $ 12 a month, and some offer free copies with fewer features. The lucrative quality of its continuation owes much to the Chinese public's desire to use it to watch banned cartoons, read controversial news, access scientific research on services such as Google Scholar or simply protect their communications.
Users can place their own networks on Cloud servers provided by Amazon Web Services and its competitors. Such personal networks can offer a small degree of movement that is difficult to detect and close, but it is also more expensive and requires a higher level of experience. Official regulators say that certain companies - including China Telecom - will be allowed to provide access to government-approved private networks as soon as the above deadline passes.
Such a system would not provide the same levels of privacy and freedom that private network users are accustomed to, according to Price Boland, head of regional technology at Cyberfire. It is logical to believe that Apple and Alibaba - both global - will make any settlement they need to continue working in China.
China's campaign has helped improve the status of the rest of the private networks. Nord's sales in VPN have risen by "several hundred percent" since the Beijing government began targeting other services last summer, Gonzales said. Golden Frog's sales jumped half a month in six months, and Express BV says it made a 50 percent jump in October. But what about participation? "If things do not get worse, we may need to talk about some providers in the BBC and get technology, but we have not got to that point yet," he says
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