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Daily News & Analysis
 •  Donald Trump worries that Robert Mueller interview could be a 'perjury trap'

US President Donald Trump said on Monday he was worried that any statements under oath he provides to Special Counsel Robert Mueller could be used to bring perjury charges against him as part of the probe into Russia's electoral interference.

In an interview with Reuters, Trump echoed the concerns of his top lawyer in the probe, Rudy Giuliani, who has warned that any sit-down with Mueller could be a "perjury trap."

The president expressed fears that investigators could compare his statements with that of others who have testified in the probe, such as former FBI Director James Comey, and that any discrepancies could be used against him.

"So if I say something and he (Comey) says something, and it's my word against his, and he's best friends with Mueller, so Mueller might say: 'Well, I believe Comey,' and even if I'm telling the truth, that makes me a liar. That's no good."

Despite his concerns, Trump did not comment on whether he would ultimately agree to an interview with Mueller, who is, among other things, investigating whether Trump's campaign team colluded with Russians during the 2016 election and whether Trump has obstructed justice in the probe.

Trump also declined to say whether he might strip Mueller of his security clearance, as he did last week to former CIA Director John Brennan, who had repeatedly criticized Trump's handling of foreign policy and national security issues.

"I haven't given it a lot of thought," he said.

Russia has denied interfering in the 2016 U.S. election and Trump has denied any collusion took place.

As he has done almost daily on Twitter, Trump railed against the probe in the Oval Office interview with Reuters, repeatedly calling it a disgrace and arguing that Mueller and other members of his team were biased.
Trump asserted that he retained the power to intervene in the probe, but that he had chosen not to do so for the moment.

His administration, Trump said, was "a smooth-running machine, except in that world. And I've decided to stay out. Now I don't have to stay out.

"I can go in, and I could do whatever — I could run it if I want. But I decided to stay out," he said. "I'm totally allowed to be involved if I wanted to be. So far, I haven't chosen to be involved. I'll stay out."

Trump has been critical of Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the probe, leaving oversight to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

In the interview, Trump blamed the investigation for hampering his efforts to strengthen the country's relationship with Russia and for sowing discord among the American public.

He again neglected to blame Russia for interfering in the 2016 election, a conclusion reached by the U.S. intelligence community.

The probe, he said, "played right into the Russians - if it was Russia - they played right into the Russians' hands."

 

REUTERSONLINE-NEWS

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 •  War on drugs: 11 criminals, 2 soldiers killed in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro during police chase

Rio de Janeiro's drug war hit a bloody crescendo when at least 11 suspected criminals and two soldiers were reported killed in a huge military sweep through impoverished favelas and during a rush-hour police car chase.

The military command heading security in Brazil's second biggest city said the two troops killed yesterday were the first lost since conservative President Michel Temer sent them in to protect Rio.

The military command said 4,200 soldiers, backed by armoured vehicles and aircraft, entered the Penha neighbourhood and the Alemao and Mare favela complexes -- poor, densely populated swaths of city in large part run by heavily armed drug traffickers.

Only 70 police officers were said to be involved, suggesting a turnaround from previous operations into the dangerous favelas where police have taken the lead and soldiers provided backup.

According to the Rio police force, 948 pounds (430 kg) of drugs were seized in the Mare, a far bigger amount than usual in such operations, which often end with few concrete results.

Troops removed roadblocks erected by drug gangs, followed up on tipoffs against suspected traffickers, and checked vehicles and residents, the military said in a statement.

In addition, "troops distributed leaflets asking for cooperation from the population," it said.

The military said the incursion brought "positive effects" to some 550,000 residents.

However, human rights activists worried that the deaths and the overwhelming role of soldiers, as opposed to police, signalled a concerning development in Rio's unending crime wars.

"We think this is very serious. If there is confirmation that the dead were executed by officers of the armed forces, it would be a troubling change," said Silvia Ramos, from the Observatory of the Intervention, which monitors the security forces in Rio.

"The armed forces cannot enter this logic of useless confrontations and unacceptable killings that are the hallmark of the Rio police." In a separate incident in the Rio suburb of Niteroi, six suspected armed criminals were shot dead by police after a rush-hour car chase that briefly caused traffic snarls near one of Rio's main bridges.

Police said in a statement that "four died on the spot and two died in hospital, and three were taken prisoner." Four assault rifles, four pistols, four grenades and seven radios were seized from two cars, police said.

A commuter bus carrying 38 people was caught in the crossfire during the shootout and hit by 14 bullets, although just one passenger was slightly injured, Globo news site reported.

Rio de Janeiro hosted the Olympics two years ago, winning widespread praise for a smoothly run games.

However, corruption, budget problems and spiralling crime have cast a shadow over a city that has long veered between the extremes of joyful carnivals or beach life and shocking violence.

Six months ago, Brazil's military took over all security in Rio, following the government's decision that the local police are incapable of combatting the well-armed drug gangs.

While police still perform all their normal duties, their top commanders are now military officers.  

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Tue, 21 Aug 2018-10:37am
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 •  Kerala floods: Here are a list of do’s and don’ts when water recedes and you go back home

With the water levels receding in Kerala after days of continuous rain, a number of people are moving back from relief camps to their homes.

This, too, can be taxing as the water levels may have altered a lot of the building's structure in terms of expansion and contraction of walls because of the water levels.

Kerala-based magazine Manorama released a list of do's and don'ts to follow when you move back home.

Before entering the house

1 While speaking of vigilance, the directive asks people not to venture out alone after a flood. Take 2-3 family members or friends with you, and never take children if you’re stepping out to ask for help.

2 People are also advised not to travel at night. The logic, the directive says, is that during daytime everything can be seen. People are also advised caution while opening gates that have cement fences. “Everything has been underwater and even cement can collapse,” the directive states. Similarly, wooden doors would have bloated in the floods, which would make it tough to open. “Don’t apply too much force at a go because the drenched walls would not be in the best shape

3 People are also advised to carry a mask and not touch corpses with their bare hands

Inside the house

1 As soon as you enter the house, open all the windows to let fresh air inside. If a foul smell persists, then leave the house immediately

2 Keep the refrigerator in off mode and open the door carefully, as there will be a lot of contaminated food items. If you’re a non-vegetarian, be extra careful as rotten meat tends to give out methane that can quickly exit the fridge

3 Do not light a candle or smoke a cigarette immediately after entering the house, as there are chances that there could be a gas leak because of the heavy flooding

4 Call an electrician to check all the wirings at home

5 Check all the gaps to see if snakes have come into the house

6 Open all the taps and pull the flushes to see if there is muddy water or regular water

7 Mark with acrylic or chalk on the wall the level till where water has risen in the house. This will prove helpful in understanding the risks of living in low-lying areas.

Earlier with the water levels receding, the Kerala government directed the central ministries to focus on providing essential commodities and medicine and restoration of vital services in flood-hit Kerala.

The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) in its review meeting directed that focus should now be on provision of emergency supplies of food, water, medicines and restoration of essential services such as power, fuel, telecom and transport links as flood water recedes in Kerala, an official spokesperson said.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said a total of 6,33,010 people are staying in 2,971 relief camps in Kerala and around 38,000 flood affected people have also been rescued by different agencies so far.

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Tue, 21 Aug 2018-10:13am
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 •  Bizarre: To protest Donald Trump's increasing steel tariffs in Turkey, locals smash their iPhones

A number of Turks have shared videos on social media where they are seen smashing their iPhones.

The videos come after US President Donald Trump has increased steel tariffs from the country.

The videos symbolise what the Turks feel about Made in America products.

According to a DailyMail report, people are resorting to such drastic measures to show their support for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has increased tariffs on goods imported from the United States. People are also putting up posts in which they damage other products like Coca-Cola bottles, and dollar notes. They’ve basically been obtaining these products just to smash them.

People have been using the hashtag #TurkeyWillPrevail accompanying the videos.

Here are some of the videos

Turkey has demanded that the United States hand over Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric in the United States suspected in the coup plot against Erdogan, but the United States has balked at this.

Trump has imposed tariffs on imports of Turkish steel and aluminum in response to Erdogan's refusal to free Brunson, raising concerns of economic damage in Europe and in emerging market economies.

"I'm not concerned at all. I’m not concerned. This is the proper thing to do," he said, when asked about the potential damage to other economies.

Trump said Erdogan had wanted the Turkish citizen returned from Israel.

Trump and Erdogan met in Brussels for a NATO summit in mid-July where they discussed Brunson’s case and what could be the way forward to release the pastor, a senior White House official said earlier.

With Inputs from Reuters

 

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 •  Scientists develop novel bacteria-powered paper battery

Scientists have developed a low-cost battery made of paper that is fueled by bacteria, and may power disposable and flexible devices. In remote areas of the world or in regions with limited resources, everyday items like electrical outlets and batteries are luxuries. Health care workers in these areas often lack electricity to power diagnostic devices, and commercial batteries may be unavailable or too expensive. New power sources are needed that are low-cost and portable. "Paper has unique advantages as a material for biosensors," said Seokheun Choi, from State University of New York, Binghamton in the US.

"It is inexpensive, disposable, flexible and has a high surface area. However, sophisticated sensors require a power supply. Commercial batteries are too wasteful and expensive, and they can't be integrated into paper substrates. The best solution is a paper-based bio-battery," said Choi said. 

Researchers have previously developed disposable paper-based biosensors for cheap and convenient diagnosis of diseases and health conditions, as well as for detecting contaminants in the environment.
Many such devices rely on colour changes to report a result, but they often aren't very sensitive.

To boost sensitivity, the biosensors need a power supply. Choi wanted to develop an inexpensive paper battery powered by bacteria that could be easily incorporated into these single-use devices. The researchers made a paper battery by printing thin layers of metals and other materials onto a paper surface. Then, they placed freeze-dried "exoelectrogens" on the paper. Exoelectrogens are a special type of bacteria that can transfer electrons outside of their cells. The electrons, which are generated when the bacteria make energy for themselves, pass through the cell membrane.

They can then make contact with external electrodes and power the battery. To activate the battery, the researchers added water or saliva. Within a couple of minutes, the liquid revived the bacteria, which produced enough electrons to power a light-emitting diode and a calculator. The researchers also investigated how oxygen affects the performance of their device.

Oxygen, which passes easily through paper, could soak up electrons produced by the bacteria before they reach the electrode. The team found that although oxygen slightly decreased power generation, the effect was minimal. This is because the bacterial cells were tightly attached to the paper fibres, which rapidly whisked the electrons away to the anode before oxygen could intervene. The paper battery, which can be used once and then thrown away, currently has a shelf-life of about four months.

Choi is working on conditions to improve the survival and performance of the freeze-dried bacteria, enabling a longer shelf life. "The power performance also needs to be improved by about 1,000-fold for most practical applications," Choi said.

This could be achieved by stacking and connecting multiple paper batteries, he notes. Choi has applied for a patent for the battery and is seeking industry partners for commercialisation. 

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Tue, 21 Aug 2018-09:35am
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 •  Robots can manipulate children, claims new study

Robots can influence the opinions and decisions of young children, according to a study which shows that kids are significantly more susceptible to manipulation by machines than adults. Researchers from University of Plymouth in the UK compared how adults and children respond to an identical task when in the presence of both their peers and humanoid robots. It showed that while adults regularly have their opinions influenced by peers, something also demonstrated in previous studies, they are largely able to resist being persuaded by robots.

However, children aged between seven and nine were more likely to give the same responses as the robots, even if they were obviously incorrect. The study used the Asch paradigm, first developed in the 1950s, which asks people to look at a screen showing four lines and say which two match in length. When alone, people almost never make a mistake but when doing the experiment with others, they tend to follow what others are saying.

When children were alone in the room in this research, they scored 87 per cent on the test, but when the robots join in their score drops to 75 per cent. Of the wrong answers, 74 per cent matched those of the robot. The study, published in the journal Science Robotics, provides an interesting insight into how robots could be used positively within society. However, they also say it does raise some concerns around the potential for robots to have a negative influence on vulnerable young children. 

"People often follow the opinions of others and we've known for a long time that it is hard to resist taking over views and opinions of people around us. We know this as conformity," said Tony Belpaeme, from the University of Plymouth. However, as robots will soon be found in the home and the workplace, we were wondering if people would conform to robots. "A future in which autonomous social robots are used as aids for education professionals or child therapists is not distant," researchers said.

"In these applications, the robot is in a position in which the information provided can significantly affect the individuals they interact with," they said. "A discussion is required about whether protective measures, such as a regulatory framework, should be in place that minimise the risk to children during social child-robot interaction and what form they might take so as not to adversely affect the promising development of the field," they added. 

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Tue, 21 Aug 2018-09:25am
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 •  NASA is optimistic about Mars rover recovery

NASA remains optimistic about reconnecting with the Mars Opportunity rover that has been silent for over two months due to a global dust storm enshrouding the red planet, even though the robotic explorer's operations are expected to be affected. Since the dust storm is "decaying" -- meaning more dust is falling out of the atmosphere than is being raised back into it -- skies might soon clear enough for the rover to recharge and attempt to "phone home", NASA said in a statement.

The US space agency had performed several studies on the state of the rovers batteries before the storm, and temperatures at its location. Since the batteries were in relatively good health before the storm, there's not likely to be too much degradation, NASA said. Dust storms tend to warm the environment the rover should have stayed warm enough to survive, according to the team which notes that they still have reason to be optimistic.

Dust storms on Mars block sunlight from reaching the surface, raising the level of a measurement called "tau." The higher the tau, the less sunlight is available; the last tau measured by Opportunity was 10.8 on June 10. To compare, an average tau for its location on Mars is usually 0.5. Engineers predict that Opportunity will need a tau of less than 2.0 before the solar-powered rover will be able to recharge its batteries.

A wide-angle camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will watch for surface features to become visible as the skies clear. That will help scientists estimate the tau. Several times a week, engineers use NASA's Deep Space Network, which communicates between planetary probes and Earth, to attempt to talk with Opportunity. The massive DSN antennas ping the rover during scheduled "wake-up" times, and then search for signals sent from Opportunity in response.

In addition, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's radio science group uses special equipment on DSN antennas that can detect a wider range of frequencies. Each day, they record any radio signal from Mars over most of the rover's daylight hours, then search the recordings for Opportunity's "voice." When Opportunity experiences a problem, it can go into so-called "fault modes" where it automatically takes action to maintain its health. Engineers are preparing for various fault modes if they do hear back from Opportunity.

After the first time engineers hear from Opportunity, there could be a lag of several weeks before a second time as the rover will take time to fully recover. It may take several communication sessions before engineers have enough information to take action, NASA said. The first thing to do is learn more about the state of the rover. Opportunity's team will ask for a history of the rover's battery and solar cells and take its temperature.

If the clock lost track of time, it will be reset. The rover would take pictures of itself to see whether dust might be caked on sensitive parts, and test actuators to see if dust slipped inside, affecting its joints.
Once they've gathered all this data, the team would take a poll about whether they're ready to attempt a full recovery. Even if engineers hear back from Opportunity, there is a real possibility the rover won't be the same.

The rover's batteries could have discharged so much power and stayed inactive so long that their capacity is reduced. If those batteries can't hold as much charge, it could affect the rover's continued operations. 

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Tue, 21 Aug 2018-09:20am
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 •  Google is now sued for invading your privacy

Google has been accused in a lawsuit of illegally tracking the movements of millions of iPhone and Android phone users even when they use a privacy setting to prevent it. According to a complaint filed late Friday, Google falsely assures people they won't be tracked if they turn the "Location History" feature on their phones to "off," and instead violates their privacy by monitoring and storing their movements.

"Google represented that a user 'can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.' This simply was not true," the complaint filed in San Francisco federal court said. The plaintiff, Napoleon Patacsil of San Diego, is seeking class-action status on behalf of U.S. users of Android phones and Apple iPhones who turned the tracking feature off.

He is seeking unspecified damages for Google's alleged intentional violations of California privacy laws, and intrusion into people's private affairs. The alleged tracking by the unit of Mountain View, California-based Alphabet Inc was described in an Aug. 13 Associated Press article, which said it was confirmed by computer science researchers at Princeton University.

Google did not immediately respond on Monday to requests for comment. Michael Sobol, a partner at Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein representing Patacsil, did not immediately respond to similar requests. Patacsil claimed that Google illegally tracked him on his Android phone and later on his iPhone, where he had downloaded some Google apps.

He said Google's "principal goal" was to "surreptitiously monitor" phone users and let third parties do the same. The help section of Google's website now says that turning Location History off "does not affect other location services" in phones, and that some location data may be saved through other services, such as Search and Maps. 

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Tue, 21 Aug 2018-09:11am
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 •  US President Donald Trump says it is 'dangerous' for Twitter, Facebook to ban accounts

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday that it is "very dangerous" for social media companies like Twitter Inc and Facebook Inc to silence voices on their services. Trump's comments in an interview with Reuters come as the social media industry faces mounting scrutiny from Congress to police foreign propaganda.

Trump has made his Twitter account - with more than 53 million followers - an integral and controversial part of his presidency, using it to promote his agenda, announce policy and attack critics. Trump previously criticized the social media industry on Aug. 18, claiming without evidence in a series of tweets that unnamed companies were "totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices." In the same post, Trump said "too many voices are being destroyed, some good & some bad."

Those tweets followed actions taken by Apple Inc, Alphabet Inc's YouTube and Facebook to remove some content posted by Infowars, a website run by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Jones' own Twitter account was temporarily suspended on Aug. 15. "I won't mention names but when they take certain people off of Twitter or Facebook and they're making that decision, that is really a dangerous thing because that could be you tomorrow," said Trump.

Trump appeared on a show produced by Infowars, hosted by Jones, in December 2015 while campaigning for the White House. In removing Jones' content, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook each pointed to specific user agreement violations. For example, Facebook removed several pages associated with Infowars after determining they violated policies concerning hate speech and bullying.

Twitter and Facebook declined to comment on Trump's statement. Apple and Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In July, during a House of Representatives Judiciary Committee hearing, executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter testified they did not remove content based on political reasons. "Our purpose is to serve the conversation, not to make value judgments on personal beliefs," Nick Pickles, Twitter's senior strategist, said at the time.

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Tue, 21 Aug 2018-09:09am
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 •  Appel has removed over 25,000 gambling-related apps in China

Apple said it had removed many gambling-related apps from its Chinese app store as the US giant comes under scrutiny amid trade tensions between Beijing and Washington. Apple removed 25,000 apps suspected of facilitating gambling and illegal lotteries, state broadcaster CCTV reported on Sunday, emphasising there was still work to be done. 

"Reporters have discovered even after the Apple company's large-scale repairs, loopholes still exist," said CCTV anchor Chang Xiao. A CCTV report last month accused the company of allowing illegal gambling apps to proliferate.

"We have already removed many apps and developers for trying to distribute illegal gambling apps on our App Store, and we are vigilant in our efforts to find these and stop them from being on the App Store," the company said in a statement. With the rhetoric between Washington and Beijing heating up, China's state media has probed for deficiencies in Apple's China operations. 

Another state media report last month tore into Apple for what it claimed was inadequate filtering of messages sent through its iMessage service. The app store clearance did little to abate the criticism from CCTV. "With the help of the Apple platform, the (gambling app operators) can directly profit," a law professor was quoted as saying in the latest CCTV segment, adding it was Apple's responsibility not only to remove the apps from the store but to cut off access from phones to which they have been downloaded. 

China is one of Apple's largest markets, accounting for roughly 20 percent of its revenue last year. CEO Tim Cook has spent much time in recent years courting authorities. But Apple's major market presence as the trade battle rages has placed its products front and centre for criticism. Apple has taken several steps to satisfy Chinese regulators, including this summer transferring control of Chinese user data to a state-owned company.

The move was met by criticism from some rights groups and even Chinese users worried about data privacy. Apple also upset rights groups last year when it restricted its Chinese customers' access to Virtual Private Networks, which allow users to circumvent China's Great Firewall and to access blocked websites such as Facebook, Twitter and The New York Times. 

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Tue, 21 Aug 2018-08:57am
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 •  No work emails between 6 pm and 8 am: Amazon India boss tells employees

The head of Amazon India's business has reportedly asked his employees to get a life - quite literally. In an email, which was leaked and accessed by news agency Bloomberg, Amit Agarwal has told his team to stop responding to emails or work calls between 6 pm and 8 am.

The note, which has now been circulated on social media, has raised a number of eyebrows, given that people who have worked at Amazon have had burnouts, primarily thanks to company founder Jeff Baezos' demanding personality.

Last year, French companies were recently ordered to guarantee employees a 'right to disconnect' from their office mails outside work hours, in order to reduce work-related stress. In Germany, managers are prohibited from contacting or connecting with staff who are on vacation; while South Korean employers need to stop asking employees the reasons behind taking annual leave and should stop emailing outside office hours.

In 2013, a survey by HR firm Randstad conducted amongst 7,000 professionals, including 850 in Bangalore, shows that 21% would quit and hunt for another job if the current one is leading to work-life imbalance.

Experts say Indians are, however, culturally conditioned to stay in office for long hours and not leave before their bosses. Moreover, many companies also judge employees depending on the hours they spend in offices.

Recently, motivational speaker Dr Nanditesh Nilay shared his views and thoughts on ‘Work Life Balance’ where he said, "The question arises whether you are doing physical exertion or it’s mental burn out. When a soldier braves in -40 degrees in Siachin he doesn’t suffer any mental stress. Then, does mental stress happen only in civil life?” 

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Tue, 21 Aug 2018-08:44am
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 •  Hazratullah Zazai stars as Afghanistan see off Ireland in first T20

Hazratullah Zazai smashed a blistering 74 as Afghanistan beat Ireland by 16 runs in the opening T20 international at Bready Cricket Club near Derry on Monday.

The tourists posted 160-7 batting first after rain had reduced the match to 18 overs a side. Ireland fell short on 144-9, as star spinners Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman taking five wickets between them.

Afghanistan will take a 1-0 lead into Wednesday's second match of the three-game series, as they look to deny fellow new Test nation Ireland revenge for being pipped to qualification for next year's World Cup.

"Zazai, that was his second game, we didn't know much about him. He seemed to hit to all parts," Irish captain Gary Wilson told the Cricket Ireland website. "But we came back really well -- after the start they got, that was a great positive. I thought the boys showed great character."

Opening batsman Zazai was playing just his second international match and first since December 2016, but the 20-year-old struck six sixes in a magnificent 33-ball innings. Afghanistan lost their way after he was caught behind off Simi Singh and Mohammad Shahzad was lazily run out.

Captain Asghar Afghan, who recently changed his surname from Stanikzai, managed a 30-ball 31, but his team scored just 10 runs and lost five wickets in their final three overs. Left-arm seamer Joshua Little, 18, impressed with a miserly spell of 2-20 from his four overs for Ireland.

Stuart Thompson and William Porterfield both fell early in the run chase to the mystery spin of Mujeeb, before Afghanistan grabbed the crucial wicket of the dangerous Paul Stirling for 27 as Aftab Alam pulled off a sensational catch on the boundary.

Middlesex opener Stirling looked to have hit Fareed Ahmad over the leg-side for six, but Aftab jumped to claim a running take one-handed, while keeping his balance to stay inside the rope. Some lusty lower-order hitting from George Dockrell and Singh kept Ireland's slim hopes alive, but Rashid finished with figures of 3-35 as Afghanistan wrapped up victory.

"We can actually take a lot of confidence, I thought we played pretty well, particularly the way we came back with the ball," Wilson added. "Josh Little bowled really well, and that's why we brought him in with the left arm pace -- he will be one for the next few years."

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Tue, 21 Aug 2018-09:10am
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 •  US Open Preview: Novak Djokovic the favourite as 'Big Four' reunite in final Grand Slam of 2018

From the pits of despair in Paris, record-setting Novak Djokovic now eyes a third US Open title in New York where for the first time since Wimbledon last year, the sport's 'Big Four' will be reunited.

Djokovic became the first man to win all nine Masters titles with victory over Roger Federer at Cincinnati on Monday. Having captured, against all the odds, a fourth Wimbledon in July, the 31-year-old Serb suddenly finds himself as joint-favourite with world number one Rafael Nadal to triumph at Flushing Meadows.

Champion in 2011 and 2015, and a five-time runner-up, Djokovic sat out the 2017 US Open to nurse an elbow injury. His physical limitations were still evident when he slumped away from Roland Garros in June after a shock quarter-final loss to journeyman Marco Cecchinato, threatening to skip Wimbledon to mend his shattered self-confidence.

Fast forward three months and Djokovic is once again the man to beat. "It's a wonderful feeling. It's been a couple of tough months for me with an injury but then winning Wimbledon and Cincinnati," Djokovic said.

Djokovic's Wimbledon triumph took his Grand Slam title collection to 13, just one behind Pete Sampras. He also has 31 Masters, two back from Nadal but four more than Federer. He will head for New York buoyed by his dominance over his three major rivals as well -- he leads Nadal 27-25, Federer 24-22 and Andy Murray 25-11. "He's a great champion," said Federer in praise of Djokovic in Cincinnati.

World number one Nadal, who won the US Open last year to add to his 2010 and 2013 victories, skipped Cincinnati after triumphing in Toronto the week before. The Spaniard clinched an 11th French Open in June to take his majors tally to 17 before falling to Djokovic in a five-set, 5-hour 15-minute semi-final loss at Wimbledon. "Tennis is a high-demanding sport in terms of physical effort," said 32-year-old Nadal. "I cannot forget that I am older every year."

Federer also knows that the clock is ticking. The 20-time Grand Slam winner won the last of his five US Opens in 2008. Now 37, Federer would become the oldest New York champion in the Open era should he lift the trophy again on September 9 and second oldest of all time.

Federer to end 10-year wait?

But he was knocked out by 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro in the quarter-finals last year having had to negotiate two five-setters in the opening rounds. Despite defending his Australian Open title in January, Federer's hopes of a ninth Wimbledon were blown apart in a five-set loss to Kevin Anderson in the quarter-finals.

It was his earliest exit at the All England Club in five years. "Hopefully I have a chance after 10 years to do something special again at the US Open," said Federer. "I can't wait for the US Open to come around."

Murray, the 2012 champion, is set to play his first Slam since a hip injury suffered at Wimbledon last year. His comeback has been far from smooth after spending almost a year on the sidelines and has played only seven matches since his return. The former world number one has even seen his ranking nosedive to 378 in the world -- making him Britain's eighth-best player!

Outside of the 'Big Four', Del Potro, at a career-high three in the world, remains a dangerman. Amongst the widely-hyped 'Next Gen', world number four Alexander Zverev is still a work in progress. The German's run to the last-eight at the French Open this year remains his best performance at the majors while his last two visits to New York ended in a pair of second-round losses.

Greek 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas, at 15 in the world from 161 this time last year, is the in-form youngster. He was runner-up to Nadal in Toronto, beating four top-10 players on the way including Djokovic and Zverev. But a loss in his opener in Cincinnati proved a sobering reminder that most probably it will be either Nadal, Djokovic or Federer who will be a New York champion again this year.

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 •  Achilles injury forces World No.1 Simona Halep to withdraw from final US Open tune-up event

World number one Simona Halep has withdrawn from the final US Open tune-up event in Connecticut with an Achilles injury, the Romanian said on Monday.

The French Open champion, whose North American hardcourt campaign included a win in Montreal and a runne-rup finish in Cincinnati, said she needed time to recover for the year's final Grand Slam after two weeks of competitive matches.

"I really wanted to play it and I saw that many fans bought tickets to see me here, but I feel very sore with my Achilles, and I need some rest," Halep, who has not competed in the event since 2014, said in a statement released by the tournament. "I had so many matches in the last two weeks, so it's tough. See you next year, and all the best."

Halep, who lost in three sets to Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens on Sunday in Cincinnati, was scheduled to play on Tuesday in New Haven where she won the title in 2013. "Hopefully Wednesday or Thursday I can get back on the court," Halep, 26, told reporters. "I need to physically rest and to emotionally and mentally rest. I'll see day by day how it goes."

Halep said the injury is a recurring issue that forced her to miss time earlier this season, including the Wimbledon tune-up at Eastbourne. "I've had it for a long time," said Halep. "It's (been) bothering me, but I have to go through it."

The US Open in New York runs from August 27 to September 9.

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 •  MTV VMAs 2018: Metallics rule as Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson make red carpet debut

MTV Video Music Awards 2018 is living up to the expectations just as its predecessors when it comes to pushing the boundaries on red carpet. Metallic dresses were a complete rage so were coat dresses.

In the couple goals, Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez showed the world how to keep it cool and classy while flashing that 1000 watts smile to the cameras. Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson made their red carpet debut as a couple and couldn't keep their hands off each other.

Rapper Nicki Minaj, Amber Rose was one of the few people who pushed the boundaries with their fashion choices. Then there was Blake Lively and Kylie Jenner who showed a new way to wear your coat.

Let's take a look at these red carpet styles.

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Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson

They made it red carpet official! After getting engaged, the 'It' couple of Davidson and Grande arrived at MTV VMAs red carpet all loved up. There was no separating these two. (Reuters)

Cardi B, Camila Cabello, Millie Bobby Brown, Maddie Zeigler

Walking the red carpet for the first time since giving birth to daughter Kulture Kiari, Cardi B chose Nicolas Jebran violet-hued velvet gown. Paired with Jade accessories, the rapper looked nothing but stunning.

Camila Cabello who won Artist of the Year Award, twirled on the red carpet in this Oscar de la Renta number. Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown wore Rosie Assoulin fall 2018 look. The frills on shoulder add to the dainty look of the actress. Maddie Ziegler opted for pink.

Post Malone, Tyga, Shawn Mendes, and DJ Khaled

Post Malone, Tyga, Shawn Mendes, and DJ Khaled kept it semi-casual.

Ashanti, Migos, Karlie Kloss, and Bebe Rexha

Ashanti, Migos, Karlie Kloss, and Bebe Rexha followed the metallics trend. Kloss, riding solo after her engagement, chose Elie Saab Resort 2019 double-slit metallic gown. Bebe Rexha was dressed in custom Christian Siriano. Migos showed how to bling, while Ashanti's gunmetal strapless gown by Elie Madi fails to impress.

Blake Lively, Sabrina Carpenter, Kylie Jenner, and Marhsmello

Was it Winter Wonderland theme on the red carpet? One look at Blake Lively's Ralph and Russo, Sabrina Carpenter's Versace, Kylie Jenner's Tom Ford, and Marshmello's signature headgear make you feel so.

Winnie Harlow x 2, Tiffany Haddish, and Bryce Vine

Canadian model Winnie Harlow wore Zuhair Murad on the red carpet. Actress Tiffany Haddish chose a Naeem Khan number, Bryce Vine looked dapper in this unusual choice of the blazer, but it was Winne Harlow one more time in another dress that gave us a surprise!

Nicki Minaj, Rita Ora, Teyana Taylor, and Amber Rose

Nicki Minaj chose an outfit from Virgil Abloh's Off White collection to walk the red carpet. Rita Ora once again went for a sheer dress but the squiggles on the Jean Paul Gaultier Fall 2018 Haute Couture dress make it interesting. You only need to admire Teyana Taylor's washboard abs. I don't know why Amber Rose mistook VMAs red carpet for Halloween.

Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez

She looked so good, he couldn't resist but capture the moment. (AFP)

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 •  La Liga: Rodrigo helps Valencia hold Atletico Madrid in thrilling draw

Valencia's Rodrigo struck a fine second-half volley to earn a 1-1 draw at home to Atletico Madrid in an end-to-end clash as both sides got their Liga campaigns underway on Monday.

Atletico's Angel Correa put the attack-minded visitors ahead when he fired home in the 26th minute after reaching Antoine Griezmann's cunning pass. Diego Costa came close to doubling the lead but Neto denied him with a fine save before Rodrigo volleyed home in the 55th to level for Valencia after a rare mistake by defender Diego Godin.

Gabriel Paulista hit the post for the hosts and Daniel Wass was denied by Atletico keeper Jan Oblak when debutant Michy Batshuayi sent him through on goal in the 90th as Valencia pushed for a late winner but ultimately came up short.

"For much of the game we were superior to Atletico Madrid," said Valencia coach Marcelino. "We had a lot more chances than in either of the games (against them) last season."

Atletico coach Diego Simeone, back on the touchline after suspension forced him to watch the UEFA Super Cup win over Real Madrid from the stands, set up in unusually offensive fashion with no defensive midfielders, two strikers and two wingers.

BRIGHT START

The visitors started brightly and broke the deadlock when Griezmann's clever pass allowed Correa to beat the offside trap and drill the ball past Neto. However, Atletico's more attacking strategy left them open at the back and Spain international Rodrigo equalised with a well-taken goal after Godin misjudged the flight of the ball.

"I scored a good goal after a good move," said Rodrigo. "We played well against an Atletico that give up few chances. We showed we are at a high level, this will be what we demand (of ourselves)."

By contrast to Barcelona and Real Madrid's low first game attendances, the Mestalla was nearly full and Valencia fans roared on their team, who nearly took the lead when Gabriel hit the post with a header. Marcelino threw on new signings Frenchman Kevin Gameiro and Belgian Batshuayi to probe for a winner and Wass should have delivered it but his finish did not have the finesse to beat Oblak.

"There was a lot of disorder in the second half which I did not like," said Simeone. "Taking points off Valencia is not easy. Last year I said they would fight to improve and I wasn't wrong. This year they will keep growing."

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 •  Who is Ismat Chughatai and why is Google honouring her on her 107th birth anniversary with a doodle?

Google on Tuesday celebrated Urdu author Ismat Chughtai’s 107th birth anniversary through a doodle.

Chughtai, who is considered by many as a champion of free speech, social liberation, and gender equality, a facet that can be seen through her writing, was born on August 22, 1911. This is contrary to most reports that she was born in 1915.

Born in Uttar Pradesh, Chughtai was the ninth of 10 children. She began writing at an early age, inspired by her elder brother Mirza Azim Beg Chughtai, a novelist known for his playful humorous works.

According to Google’s blog that paid tribute to her, Chughtai ‘attended a meeting of the Progressive Writers Association and became interested in using her talents to advocate for human rights.’

As she was raised in a traditional household, her best works questioned the double standards seen in society, and encouraged liberation. Her short story “Lihaf” (The Quilt), narrated in the voice of a young girl, was viewed as controversial given its portrayal  of a relationship between an upper class woman and her servant. This was also the case for another of her famous stories, “Gainda” (Marigold), which told the tale of a domestic worker who falls in love outside the caste system. Chughtai’s character violated the rules prohibiting different castes from associating with one another, as well as the social custom forbidding widows from pursuing a second love.

Chughtai was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1976 In recognition of her literary accomplishments and her fearless dedication to her beliefs. In 1980s and 1990s, a new generation of Indian writers picked up where Chughtai left off. Today, she continues to be regarded as a national feminist icon.

Many of her writings, including Angarey and Lihaaf, were banned in South Asia because their reformist and feminist content offended conservatives (for example, her view that the Niqab, the veil worn by women in Muslim societies, should be discouraged for Muslim women because it is oppressive and feudal.

She died in 1991.

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 •  Premier League: James Milner, Sadio Mane secure victory for Liverpool at Crystal Palace

Liverpool's James Milner's converted a penalty on the stroke of halftime and Sadio Mane added a late second goal to secure a hard-fought 2-0 win at Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Tuesday.

It was an accomplished performance from Jurgen Klopp's side who, with Virgil Van Dijk in commanding form at centre-half, looked solid at the back as well as a threat going forward.

Although they had to wait for Mane's fine solo effort to wrap up the points in stoppage time, Liverpool will be delighted that after a 4-0 opening day win over West Ham United they made it six points and two clean sheets from their opening two games.

While many will feel that Liverpool's early form has confirmed pre-season predictions that they will be the main challengers to champions Manchester City for the title this season, Klopp said he had no interest in such talk.

"It's very early. I couldn't care less really. We are not in a race with other Premier League teams each weekend. I was not 100 percent sure tonight in the first half that we would score," said the German.

"You have to play it as it is and be a real challenger, play ugly, do all that type of stuff. Our target is to be a difficult opponent. It is too soon to say anything after two match days. You can discuss whatever you want - just do it without us."

TURNING POINT

Palace's attacking threat was evident from early on and winger Andros Townsend sent a warning when he rattled the bar with a thundering effort from distance after cutting on to his left foot. But the game turned as the visitors were awarded a penalty when Mamadou Sakho was ruled to have tripped Mohammed Salah.

Palace felt Salah made a lot of the challenge but, despite the protests, Milner kept his cool to fire past Wayne Hennessey and send the Merseysiders into the break with the advantage. Palace's task was made harder 15 minutes from time when defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka was sent off for bringing down Salah in a goalscoring position.

Mane made it 2-0 in stoppage time with great strength and skill as he broke from the halfway line, after collecting a Salah through ball, and rounded Hennessey before slotting home. Palace's former England and Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson was clearly furious with the penalty decision. "I take some comfort and pride in the team's performance, but it won't change my disappointment and anger," he said.

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 •  Rains continue to lash parts of Jaipur, mercury takes a plunge

The south-west monsoon, during its second round in Rajasthan, continued to lash parts of the state on Monday. Thunder storm with heavy rainfall occurred at isolated places in East Rajasthan while thunder storm with light to moderate rainfall occurred at many places in East Rajasthan and at isolated places in West Rajasthan.  As per MeT department report, Lalsot in Dausa district recorded heavy rains to the tune of 100 mm during last 24 hours. 

While Jaipur observed light to moderate rainfall in patches on Monday. Shyam Nagar, Nirman Nagar, Vaishali Nagar, Murlipura, Jhotwara, Sikar Road, Shastri Nagar and some areas in old city, Amer Road, C-Scheme, JLN Marg and Malviya Nagar observed intermittent showers. 

Though, these showers were short in spell and during the gap between two spells high humidity made people to sweat. These rains resulted into dip in mercury and brought temperatures below normal level which continued to be 3-4 degrees above normal last week. During last 24 hours maximum temperature and minimum temperature was recorded at 32.4 and 22.7 degrees Celsius respectively. 

As per MeT there will be cloudy sky over the city on Tuesday and thunder storm with light to moderate rainfall is likely to occur. 

Moreover, Amer in Jaipur and Nagar in Bharatpur recorded 70 mm rainfall each.  Pipalda (Kota), Nagrarfort (Tonk), Bayana (Bharatpur), Jaipur Tehsil, Shahpura (Bhilwara) and Laxmangarh (Alwar) each recorded 50 mm rainfall.

These active monsoon conditions will persist over the state as weathermen have predicted that thunder storm with light to moderate rainfall likely to occur at many places in East Rajasthan and at a few places in West Rajasthan during next 24 hours. MeT department has also issued a warning that heavy rainfall likely to occur at isolated places in East Rajasthan durign next 24 hours.

Lalsot recorded 100 mm rain

As per MeT department report, Lalsot in Dausa district recorded heavy rains to the tune of 100 mm during last 24 hours. While Jaipur observed light to moderate rainfall in patches on Monday. Amer in Jaipur and Nagar in Bharatpur recorded 70 mm rainfall each.   

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Tourists enjoy a cool evening on Monday at Jantar Mantar.
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 •  Gujarat: Projects on recylcing to earn credit to college students this year

College students who have their projects on recycling and reusing biodegradable and dry waste this year seem to be in a good situation. The Universities Grants Commissions (UGC) has asked all colleges and universities across the country to make necessary amendments in their curriculum to provide credit to such students whose practical projects are on recycling materials or products.

The UGC issued this directive to commensurate Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary. In its notification, the UGC said, " As you re aware, the nation is commemorating 150th birth anniversary of the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi. To make Swachhta a part of education and in order to bring about behavioural changes in the country, necessary actions need to be undertaken."

Interestingly, those students, who as part of any club or activity would be involved in clearing the campus and surroundings will also be given credit.

Speaking on the same, Shikha Shah, a third student of Gujarat University said, "It is a good decision and it will encourage students to take up such projects. Earlier times, if a student would take up the project in recycling, other students would look down upon him or her. If any such activity is attached to marks, it makes a lot of difference."

GIVE IT A CREDIT

Interestingly, those students, who as part of any club or activity would be involved in clearing the campus and surroundings will also be given credit.

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