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Taliban cleric killed by bomb hidden in prosthetic leg

He was among the Taliban officials who supported the education of women and girls, in a BBC interview, he stated that no rationale in Sharia law prohibits female education…reports Asian Lite News

Sheikh Rahimullah Haqqani, a prominent Taliban figure, was killed in a suicide attack on a seminary in Kabul on Thursday when the attacker blew explosives placed in a prosthetic leg, according to Taliban authorities and sources.

Taliban’s deputy spokesperson, Bilal Karimi, confirmed the veracity of the incident and stated that the explosion in the Shash Darak area of Kabul’s Police District 2 “martyred” Sheikh Rahimullah Haqqani, Khaama Press reported.

He had previously been a target of the Islamic State (IS) group, albeit it is now unclear who killed him as no group has claimed responsibility so far.

Sheikh Haqqani was a steadfast opponent of the Islamic State Khorasan Province (IS-K), and a supporter of the Taliban administration, Khaama Press reported.

He was among the Taliban officials who supported the education of women and girls, in a BBC interview, he stated that no rationale in Sharia law prohibits female education.

Since taking control when international forces began to withdraw almost a year ago, the Taliban claim to have restored security.

However, there have been frequent attacks in recent months, many of which have been claimed by Islamic State.

He is one of the highest profile figures to have been killed in the country since the Taliban returned to power last year, BBC reported.

Despite sharing the same name, he was not related to Afghanistan’s Haqqani militant group network.

Afghanistan has witnessed a series of blasts in recent weeks. The blasts have occurred in a number of areas in the capital city of Kabul including Chandawal, Pul-e-Sokhta and Sarkariz.

At least three people were killed and seven others suffered injuries in a blast that occurred near the Pul-e-Sokhta area in the west of Kabul on August 6 local media reported citing the statement of the commander of PD6 in Kabul, Mawlawi Zabihullah.

Meanwhile, the United Nations has condemned the recent blasts in Afghanistan that have killed and injured more than 120 people.

“Following the Islamic State-claimed blasts in Kabul in recent days that killed and injured more than 120 people, the UN family in Afghanistan urges greater security for minorities so that Ashura can be marked without further attacks,” the UN Assistance Mission (UNAMA) tweeted.

The US also condemned the ISIS-K-claimed attacks during Ashura, which targeted Hazara and Shia-majority areas in Kabul.

Since the Taliban regime took control of Afghanistan, blasts and attacks have become a regular affair with unabated human rights violations involving ceaseless murder of civilians, destroying mosques and temples, assaulting women, and fuelling terror in the region.

Last month, a bomb exploded near Karte Parwan Gurudwara in Kabul, a month after the holy place was attacked by members of the Islamic State. Religious minorities in Afghanistan, including the Sikh community, have been targets of violence in Afghanistan.

The human rights situation has been exacerbated by a nationwide economic, financial and humanitarian crisis of unprecedented scale.

At least 59 per cent of the population is now in need of humanitarian assistance – an increase of 6 million people compared with the beginning of 2021, according to UNAMA.

ALSO READ-One year since Taliban ended Afghan hopes


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Food crisis worse than ever in Ethiopia

The trio called on all partners to strengthen efforts to address their immediate and long-term food needs in line with international commitments…reports Asian Lite News

The World Food Programme (WFP), UN refugee agency, UNHCR, and Ethiopian Government Refugees and Returnees Service (RRS) made the plea for assistance because without it, WFP will run out of food for the refugees by October.

The impending crisis will leave vulnerable families at risk of undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, and increased susceptibility to diseases, the agencies warned.

“Three quarters of a million refugees will be left with nothing to eat in just a matter of weeks unless we receive funding immediately,” said Claude Jibidar, WFP’s Representative and Country Director for Ethiopia.

Support needed

The agencies have established an effective system to identify the food assistance needs of refugees through biometric verification, accountability mechanisms and programmes to grant monthly food and cash assistance.

The trio called on all partners to strengthen efforts to address their immediate and long-term food needs in line with international commitments. 

Meanwhile, WFP, UNHCR and RRS will continue to count on donors for extended funding support based on the principle of shared responsibility to implement basic humanitarian life-saving activities.

Cutting rations has been an issue with which WFP has long had to grapple.

Food rations for refugees in Ethiopia were first reduced by 16 per cent in November 2015, then 40 per cent in November 2021, and finally 50 per cent in June 2022.

The impact of these cuts has been heightened by global limitations on food availability, widespread economic shock, rising food and energy costs, the COVID-19 fallout, and armed conflict.

Impact of cuts

To understand the impact of ration cuts on refugees, WFP, UNHCR and RRS conducted in April, a rapid assessment on 1,215 refugee camps households throughout relevant regions.

The results show that most had coped with food insecurity by reducing the number of meals eaten in a day, consuming less expensive foods, or limiting meal portions. 

The joint assessment also revealed that households are going to desperate measures to make up for funding cuts.

Funding repercussions

Funding cuts have forced refugees to rely on an ever-finite supply of food, which increases the likelihood of resource-based conflicts.

Data shows that many families have been relying on children to generate extra income to afford food.

Other households were forced to borrow cash, relying on friends or relatives for sustenance.

“We have a shortfall of $73 million for refugees’ minimum needs and we are deeply concerned that if funding cuts continue, they may consider returning to their places of origin when it is unsafe,” warned Mr. Jibidar.

Taking action 

More resources must be mobilized to meet immediate food demands, and smart investments should be taken to prioritize sustainable farming.  

“The priority for us all must be to restore assistance to at least minimum levels for refugees, all of whom are solely reliant on WFP’s cash and food assistance for survival,” said the UN Country Director.

With an immediate donor response, WFP would be able to buy food available in the region to meet the dietary needs of the refugees and also transfer cash to the refugees, providing them the choice of how to meet their immediate needs and stimulating local markets.

Support needed

The agencies have established an effective system to identify the food assistance needs of refugees through biometric verification, accountability mechanisms and programmes to grant monthly food and cash assistance.

The trio called on all partners to strengthen efforts to address their immediate and long-term food needs in line with international commitments. 

Meanwhile, WFP, UNHCR and RRS will continue to count on donors for extended funding support based on the principle of shared responsibility to implement basic humanitarian life-saving activities.

$73 mn appeal for over 750K refugees

The UN World Food Programme (WFP), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Ethiopian Government Refugees and Returnees Service (RRS) have launched a $73-million joint appeal to provide food rations to more than 750,000 refugees living in the east African country.

In a joint press statement, the three organizations on Tuesday said the funds are essential to meet the food ration needs of the refugees for the next six months, Xinhua news agency reported.

“WFP will completely run out of food for refugees by October, leaving vulnerable families who are dependent on food assistance at risk of undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, susceptibility to diseases and increased protection risks,” the statement added.

“Due to protracted funding shortfalls, WFP has already been forced to cut rations for 750,000 registered refugees living in 22 camps and five sites in hosting communities in Ethiopia’s Afar, Amhara, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambella, Somali and Tigray regions,” the statement further said.

Food insecurity among refugees in Ethiopia has risen as a result of the cuts and is even further compounded by current global limitations to food availability, conflict, rising costs of food and energy as well as the fallout from Covid-19.

The three organisations further called on all partners to strengthen efforts to address both the medium and long-term food needs of refugees in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is the third largest refugee-hosting country in Africa, with 870,507 refugees and asylum seekers as of June 2022, UNHCR figures show. The majority of the refugees originate from South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea.

ALSO READ-Egypt, US discuss global food crisis

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Modi-Shehbaz meeting likely during SCO summit: Report

Sharif will attend the conference during which he is likely to meet the presidents of China, Russia, Iran, as well as Modi…reports Asian Lite News

Narendra Modi and Shehbaz Sharif, the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan, are likely to have a meeting during the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, diplomatic sources told a media outlet.

The SCO summit is scheduled for September 15-16 where leaders of the organisation will sit together to discuss regional challenges, Daily Jang reported.

Sharif will attend the conference during which he is likely to meet the presidents of China, Russia, Iran, as well as Modi, according to the sources.

The sources further confirmed that in its July 28 meeting, the SCO Foreign ministers HAD reiterated that the heads of SCO states will attend the summit.

However, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto, who had attended the meeting in Tashkent, said that a bilateral meeting between the Pakistani and Indian leaders is not scheduled.

“There are no plans of any meetings between Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers in September,” he had said, adding that both India and Pakistan are part of the SCO and the two countries are only engaged in the context of the broad-based activities of the organisation.

ALSO READ: ‘India needs to quadruple climate finance’

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One year since Taliban ended Afghan hopes

Taliban human rights abuses have brought widespread condemnation and imperiled international efforts to address the country’s dire humanitarian situation…reports Asian Lite News

The Taliban have broken multiple pledges to respect human rights and women’s rights since taking over Afghanistan a year ago, Human Rights Watch said.

After capturing Kabul on August 15, 2021, Taliban authorities have imposed severe restrictions on women’s and girls’ rights, suppressed the media, and arbitrarily detained, tortured, and summarily executed critics and perceived opponents, among other abuses.

Taliban human rights abuses have brought widespread condemnation and imperiled international efforts to address the country’s dire humanitarian situation, Human Rights Watch said.

The economy has collapsed, largely because governments have cut foreign assistance and restricted international economic transactions. More than 90 per cent of Afghans have been food insecure for almost a year, causing millions of children to suffer from acute malnutrition and threatening serious long-term health problems.

“The Afghan people are living a human rights nightmare, victims of both Taliban cruelty and international apathy,” said Fereshta Abbasi, Afghanistan researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“Afghanistan’s future will remain bleak unless foreign governments engage more actively with Taliban authorities while pressuring them vigorously on their rights record.”

The Taliban’s horrendous human rights record and their unwillingness to meaningfully engage with international financial institutions have furthered their isolation, Human Rights Watch said.

Foreign governments should ease restrictions on the country’s banking sector to facilitate legitimate economic activity and humanitarian aid, but the Taliban also need to curtail rights abuses and hold those responsible for abuses to account.

“The Taliban should urgently reverse their horrifying and misogynistic decision to bar girls and women from secondary school,” Abbasi said. “This would send a message that the Taliban are willing to reconsider their most egregious actions.”

The impact of the economic crisis on women and girls is especially severe, as women and girls have increasing difficulties accessing assistance and health care.

The humanitarian situation would be even worse had the UN and other aid providers not substantially increased their operations in 2022, Human Rights Watch said.

“After a year in power, Taliban leaders should recognize the catastrophe they have created and reverse course on rights, before more Afghans suffer and more lives are lost,” Abbasi said.

ALSO READ: Over 400 private schools close under Taliban rule

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BNP says it will take battle to streets

AL Chief Sheikh Hasina has asked her party leaders and workers to fight against any such conspiracies to create unrest and trouble in the country …reports Sumi Khan

A fresh controversial row has erupted after a top Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader told his followers that his party was preparing for violent street protests to oust the ruling Awami League (AL) government led by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina rather than fight it politically in elections.

“By all means we should not face election — we do find the latest move by the Election Commission to reach out to us satisfactory but we won’t fight any election,” said prominent BNP leader Mirza Abbas.

However, AL Chief Sheikh Hasina has asked her party leaders and workers to fight against any such conspiracies to create unrest and trouble in the country such as BNP -Jamaat’s targeted bombing on public buses and attack on law enforcers back in 2013 when the party boycotted the election and later carried out such violent attacks both to foil the war crimes’ trial and bring down the Hasina-led government.

These threats from prominent BNP leaders comes within a month following an earlier warning by BNP’s Volunteer Wing Secretary, who threatened Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with “a repeat of 1975,” referring to the massacre of her entire family in a military coup at that time.

Such repeated threats by the BNP have compelled the Bangladesh Home Ministry to take a serious view because the month of August evokes grim memories of the 1975 coup that killed the whole family of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founder of the country and ‘Father of the Nation’.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s daughters Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana survived the attack as they were protected by the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Amid the failure of killing the entire Bangabandhu’s family, on August 21, 2004, a grenade attack nearly killed Hasina. However, nearly 30 AL workers, including some top leaders died.

BNP leader Tarique Rahman, then in power in 2004, stands convicted by the court after a long judicial process, as the mastermind of the plot to kill Hasina in direct collaboration with radical elements.

Jamaat-e-Islami, a militant outfit and a key ally of BNP, has been ramping up efforts to reach out grassroots through formation of village unit committees.

Tarique and his mother Khaleda Zia have lived up to the legacy of her late husband, General Zia-ur-Rahman, Bangladesh’s first military ruler, who turned the clock back on the country’s “unfinished revolution” by setting in motion a process of ‘re-Pakistanisation’, which culminated in his successor General H.M. Ershad declaring Islam as the state religion of Bangladesh, says Bangladesh watcher Sukhoranjan Dasgupta,

He mentioned that Sheikh Hasina carries forward her father Bangabandhu’s legacy of national liberation and the dream of ‘Sonar Bangla’ (Golden Bengal). This is the legacy of the fight for independence from Pakistan amid the worst genocide in South Asia, Dasgupta said.

BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir directed his party leaders and activists to “hit the streets to overthrow the Sheikh Hasina-led government”.

“Sit on the streets and oust this government.” Fakhrul said that while addressing a protest rally before the National Press Club on Tuesday afternoon.

In continuous threat to boycott election, the BNP Secretary General announced this.

ALSO READ: Rohingya repatriation: China vows to help Bangladesh

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No immediate threat to Ukrainian nuke plant, says IAEA

Ukraine’s energy operator Ernohoatom said there were 10 hits in the area, but that the situation at the plant remained under control with radioactivity no higher than usual…reports Asian Lite News

Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said that there is “no immediate threat” to safety at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant despite continued shelling, but the situation could however change “at any moment”.

While addressing the UN Security Council on Thursday, Grossi called on Moscow and Kiev to grant international experts access to the plant as quickly as possible, reports dpa news agency.

“I am personally ready to lead such a mission,” he said.

The US also called for an expert trip. “This visit cannot wait any longer,” US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control Bonnie Jenkins told the council.

Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia pledged Moscow’s cooperation and said a visit should ideally take place before the end of August.

“We stand ready to provide all possible assistance to resolving organisational matters,” Nebenzia said.

After the meeting, he emphasised the fact that no country on the 15-member Council had blamed Russia for the attacks on the plant.

IAEA, Iran agree to replace surveillance cameras at n-site

Just hours before the session convened at Russia’s request, the Zaporizhzhya plant in southern Ukraine, the biggest in Europe and among the world’s largest, was attacked with heavy artillery and rocket launchers, according to a representative of the Russian occupying forces, Vladimir Rogov.

Rogov said firing had come from Ukrainian areas.

The information could not be independently verified.

Ukraine’s energy operator Ernohoatom said there were 10 hits in the area, but that the situation at the plant remained under control with radioactivity no higher than usual.

The plant located in the city of Enerhodar was shelled several times and partially damaged last weekend, but its critical infrastructure was said to be intact.

Ukraine accuses Russia of using the plant as a stronghold for attacks, while the pro-Russian separatists accuse Ukraine of shelling the plant to get the West to intervene.

Rogov rejected calls from the G7 to return the plant to Ukrainian control, saying “that would be like giving a hand grenade to a monkey”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meanwhile said Russia was holding the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant hostage and using it for blackmail, in comments via video link at the start of a Ukraine donor conference in Copenhagen.

Zaporizhzhya is the third largest nuclear power plant on Earth, he noted as he warned of the risk of a disaster bigger than Chernobyl in 1986.

ALSO READ: Moscow must return Ukraine nuke plant, says G7

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China pips US as leader in scientific research output

The Japanese NISTP report also found that Chinese research comprised 27.2 per cent of the world’s top 1 per cent most frequently cited papers….reports Asian Lite News

China has overtaken the US as the world leader in both scientific research output and “high impact” studies, according to a report published by Japans science and technology ministry.

The report, which was published by Japan’s National Institute of Science and Technology Policy (NISTP) on Tuesday, found that China now publishes the highest number of scientific research papers yearly, followed by the US and Germany, the Guardian reported.

The figures were based on yearly averages between 2018 and 2020, and drawn from data compiled by the analytics firm Clarivate.

The Japanese NISTP report also found that Chinese research comprised 27.2 per cent of the world’s top 1 per cent most frequently cited papers.

The number of citations a research paper receives is a commonly used metric in academia.

The more times a study is cited in subsequent papers by other researchers, the greater its “citation impact”, the Guardian reported.

The US accounted for 24.9 per cent of the top 1 per cent most highly cited research studies, while UK research was third at 5.5 per cent.

China published a yearly average of 407,181 scientific papers, pulling ahead of the US’s 293,434 journal articles and accounting for 23.4 per cent of the world’s research output, the report found.

China accounted for a high proportion of research into materials science, chemistry, engineering and mathematics, while US researchers were more prolific in research into clinical medicine, basic life sciences and physics, the Guardian reported.

The report was published on the day US President Joe Biden signed the Chips and Science Act, legislation that would authorise $200 billion in research funding over 10 years to make US scientific research more competitive with China.

ALSO READ: US rethinks steps on China tariffs  

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‘Anti-Shia hatred’ motivated killings of Muslims in US

Alburquerque police said they found evidence that the alleged killer knew the victims and “an interpersonal conflict may have led to the shootings”…reports Arul Louis

A Muslim man in the US has been charged in the serial killing of four Muslims from Pakistan and Afghanistan, which a leading American Islamic organisation said may have been motivated by “anti-Shia hatred”.

Police announced on Tuesday that they had arrested Muhammad Syed, 51, as the “primary suspect” in the killings in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Officials, civil rights groups and the media had stoked fears in the Islamic community of bias attacks against Muslims.

President Joe Biden had tweeted that he was “angered” by the killings and that his “administration stands strongly with the Muslim community”.

The nationality of Syed has not been disclosed by officials, but the possibility of anti-Shia killings in the US could indicate that the religious turmoil in Pakistan and Afghanistan where Sunni terrorist groups target Shias has reached the US.

Two of the killings took place during the observances of Muharram, a period of religious mourning for Shias.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) admitted on Tuesday that “anti-Shia hatred” may have “motivated the killings” after its Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell had earlier issued a general warning that “the lives of Albuquerque Muslims are in danger” and asked Muslims across the US to “exercise vigilance”.

CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said: “Although we are waiting to learn more about these crimes, we are disturbed by early indications that the alleged killer may have been targeting particular members of the Shia community.”

Alburquerque police said they found evidence that the alleged killer knew the victims and “an interpersonal conflict may have led to the shootings”.

They said that bullet casings found at the site of the shooting of two Pakistanis, Aftab Hussein on July 26 and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain on August 1, matched a gun at Syed’s residence and they filed charges against him.

Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said police were working with prosecutors on “potential charges” in the other two cases — Mohammad Zaheer Ahmadi, an Afghan who was killed in November, and Naeem Hussain, a Pakistani, on August 5.

The police said that as detectives prepared to search Syed’s home on Monday, he drove out in a Volkswagen Jetta that was used in at least one of the killings.

The detectives detained Syed and searched his home and the vehicle and found more evidence that tied him to the killings, police said.

ALSO READ: Killing of TTP top guns shows rift over truce talks with Pakistan

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‘I would rather lose than give false promises’

In an interview with the BBC, the former Chancellor said he was committed to helping the most vulnerable families with the cost-of-living crisis and felt a “moral responsibility to go further” and provide “extra help” over the winter…reports Asian Lite News

Prime ministerial candidate Rishi Sunak has insisted that he would rather lose the Conservative Party leadership race to replace Boris Johnson than win on a false promise on how he plans to tackle the economic crisis.

In an interview with the BBC, the former Chancellor said he was committed to helping the most vulnerable families with the cost-of-living crisis and felt a “moral responsibility to go further” and provide “extra help” over the winter.

The issue has become the key dividing line between him and his rival, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who has pledged tax cuts which the former finance minister insists will benefit wealthier households rather than those who need it most.

Liz Truss celebrates the suspension of US tariffs. Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss in her office inside the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office talks with the Acting United States Trade Representative Maria Pagan as they celebrates the suspension of US tariffs on Scottish Whisky. Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

“I would rather lose than win on a false promise,” Sunak, 42, said.

“What I’m determined to do is help people across this country through what will be a very difficult winter. My first preference is always not to take money off people in the first place,” he said.

As the candidates continue to be grilled by Conservative Party members who will be voting in the election in hustings up and down the UK, the issue of soaring inflation and prices has dominated the agenda.

“People can judge me on my record,” reiterated Sunak in his BBC interview on Wednesday night, referring to his work as Chancellor through the Covid lockdown.

“People can judge me on their record – when bills were going up by around 1,200 pounds earlier this year, I made sure the most vulnerable received around 1,200 pounds,” he pointed out.

Sunak also promised to “go further” than what he has already announced if elected Prime Minister.

“I know millions of people are worried about inflation, particularly the cost of their energy bills. What I’ve said if I’m Prime Minister I will go further in supporting those families who most need support because the situation is worse than when I announced those measures earlier this year,” he said.

When Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak get the keys to Number 10 in just under month, they will have to answer the question: what can the government do to help people struggling with rising bills as winter approaches?

At the moment, the candidates are trying to appeal to 160,000 or so Conservative members, who are choosing their next leader and our next prime minister.

But as the wider electorate watches on, what have the candidates actually promised on the cost of living? Will they be forced to set out more detail about what they are prepared to do? And what does Rishi Sunak’s record tell us about his plans?

She wants to immediately reverse the rise in National Insurance contributions and suspend green levies on energy bills.

Her allies say this will give people more money in their pockets.

But the foreign secretary faced pressure over the weekend when she said she wanted to help people by reducing the tax burden – and “not giving handouts”.

Not quite. Truss’s team say she is not ruling anything in or out. She will, they say, look at what is needed and what is possible in her emergency budget.

Team Sunak don’t think so.

He hasn’t pulled any punches in an article for The Sun newspaper, saying that Ms Truss’s plans (including a plan to cancel an increase in corporation tax) are “a big bung to large businesses and the well-off, leaving those who most need help out in the cold”. He writes that bolder action is needed.

So what is he planning in his first weeks as prime minister? He has said he will scrap VAT on energy bills. But beyond that, he hasn’t offered much in the way of specifics.

Sunak’s supporters say it will depend on what happens with energy bills in the coming days. They have said he can be trusted based on his record as chancellor.

But remember – Sunak often faced a lot of pressure to act before he took decisions to help those on the lowest incomes.

He was criticised after the Spring Statement earlier this year for not doing enough to help people with increasing prices. Many Tory MPs urged him to act – and within weeks he announced further new cost of living support.

Sunak initially resisted Labour’s calls for a Windfall Tax to help pay for help – before eventually agreeing to one.

He has also used furlough as an example of decisive action. But remember he was criticised for being too slow to extend it towards the end of 2020.

In fact, Sunak resisted extending the scheme at first.

And then there’s this campaign. Mr Sunak has been criticised for saying he’ll scrap VAT on energy bills – given that he didn’t do it when he was in the Treasury.

There are four weeks to go in this leadership contest. There will be pressure on both candidates to give more details on what they will do to help with rising bills – and to spell out how they’ll pay for it.

ALSO READ-UK summons Chinese envoy over Taiwan drills

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Britain drying under yet another heatwave

Guillaume came all the way from the South of France to escape the heat, expecting chilly winds and a milder summer, but was gravely disappointed…reports Asian Lite News

Another heatwave has engulfed Britain. Temperatures are expected to reach 35 degrees Celsius by Friday and Saturday, prompting an amber weather warning (the second-most severe after red) and a hosepipe ban in some areas.

The current heat wave is milder than the one in July, when temperatures hovered around 40 degrees Celsius, but a prolonged English summer with extreme heat and dryness is unprecedented in recent memory.

“I’ve never seen a summer like this before,” Ryan, a Whales resident, said while feeding the pigeons in Hyde Park.

Parks and Greek have suffered the most as water reserves have run dry. The stretches of green have turned brown, dry, and parched, making it an ideal breeding ground for wildfires.

However, measures such as the government’s hosepipe ban, which was implemented to limit water usage, can be counterproductive at times because they can cause fires. The emergency services are on standby.

Guillaume came all the way from the South of France to escape the heat, expecting chilly winds and a milder summer, but was gravely disappointed.

“I chose London because it’s usually chilly and milder than where I am from. So I usually use this [trip] to escape the heat wave, but not this time,” Guillaume said as he searched for a lawn chair in the shade in one of London’s parks.

While the warnings remain lower than those issued during last month’s record temperatures, the UKHSA’s Dr Agostinho Sousa emphasised it was important vulnerable people, like the elderly who live alone or anyone with underlying health conditions, were “prepared for coping during the hot weather”.

“The most important advice is to ensure they stay hydrated, keep cool and take steps to prevent their homes from overheating,” he added.

Disabled people could be particularly affected by heat, and may suffer fatigue, difficulty regulating their body temperatures, or problems moving to cooler spots in the home, Fazilet Hadi, from Disability Rights UK, said.

Meanwhile, a dairy farmer in Shropshire has said he might have to send some of his cows to slaughter if there is no rain in August as a result of the reduced amount of grass available.

According to the Met Office, temperatures are not set to be as extreme as those in July which smashed records when the mercury climbed to above 40 degrees Celsius in some areas in the UK for the first time.

The dry conditions, combined with last month’s record-breaking heatwave, have depleted rivers, reservoirs and aquifers and dried up soils, hitting agriculture, water supplies and wildlife and raising the risk of wildfires.

Meanwhile, there was no immediate sign of rain in the latest forecast from the Met Office.

Temperatures are likely to rise into the low to mid-30s in the next few days in the area covered by the Met Office amber warning.

Outside the warning area, heatwave thresholds, which are met at different temperatures in different parts of the country, are still likely to be met for much of the UK, with temperatures widely into the high 20s and a chance of a few spots seeing temperatures into the low 30s.

Scotland and Northern Ireland will also see temperatures into the high 20s and could reach official heatwave criteria by Friday.

The Met Office’s fire severity index, an assessment of how severe a fire could become if one were to start, is very high for most of England and Wales, and will reach “exceptional” for a swathe of England by the weekend.

ALSO READ-India, UK complete 5th round of FTA talks