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Ukraine invasion: EU executive proposes eighth batch of sanctions against Russia

The Group of Seven major industrialised countries have already agreed to put an oil price cap in place via insurers



The European Union executive proposed on Wednesday an eighth round of sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, including tighter trade restrictions, more individual blacklistings and an oil price cap for third countries.

The proposal will now go to the bloc's 27 member countries, which will need to overcome their differences to implement the new sanctions on top of seven sets of punitive measures imposed on Russia since its forces swept into Ukraine on Feb. 24.

That may take time despite the EU being spurred into action by Russia's military mobilisation last week, nuclear threats and steps to annex a swathe of Ukraine, after invading the former Soviet republic that aspires to join the EU.

"We do not accept the sham referenda (in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine) nor any kind of annexation...And we are determined to make the Kremlin pay the price for this further escalation," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters.

"We are proposing a new package of biting sanctions."

The Group of Seven major industrialised countries - which includes EU countries Italy, France and Germany - have already agreed to put an oil price cap in place via insurers.

Earlier on Wednesday, a senior economic adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on the EU to further cut money flows to Russia from fossil fuel sales.

"If you are doing nothing it means you are just prolonging this war with Ukraine. This is just ridiculous. The whole civilised world has to be united on that," said Oleg Ustenko.

While the EU already agreed to stop importing Russian oil starting later this year, Ustenko said "blood money" would keep on flowing to Moscow unless European companies were banned from insuring Russia's seaborne shipments to other countries.


The proposed sanctions fall short of harder-hitting measures, including a ban on importing Russian diamonds, sought by Russia hawks Poland and the three Baltic countries.

But EU states need unanimity to impose sanctions and the oil cap might be too much for Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who cultivates close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been a vocal critic of economic restrictions.

Ustenko hoped Hungary would eventually agree, and that EU countries with large shipping fleets - Greece, Malta and Cyprus - would also back more measures hitting Russian oil revenues.

Speaking next to von der Leyen, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the bloc was also blacklisting more individuals from Russia's defence sector, those involved in ad hoc votes organised by Moscow in occupied Ukrainian territories, those the West blames for spreading Russian propaganda and those helping to circumvent sanctions against Moscow.

Poland's EU ambassador said the proposed individual sanctions would include Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church and a close Kremlin ally, after previous attempts to blacklist him in the EU were blocked by Hungary.

Von der Leyen said a new imports ban would cost Russia 7 billion euros in lost revenues and that the EU would also expand the list of prohibited exports "to deprive the Kremlin's war machine of key technologies".

Under the proposal, European companies would be barred from providing more services to Russia and European citizens would not be allowed to sit on boards of Russian state companies.

This would be a nod to popular outrage over the cases of Gerhard Schroeder and Francois Fillon - former top European politicians who subsequently took jobs on Russian boards.

The Commission was due to present details of the proposal to member states at a closed-door meeting later on Wednesday and the 27 were expected to have a first discussion on Friday before national EU leaders meet in Prague on Oct. 6-7.


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North Korea fires 2 ballistic missiles a day before Kamala Harris’ visit to Seoul

Japan’s coast guard also reported a suspected ballistic missile test



North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast on Wednesday, the South’s military said, just a day before US Vice President Kamala Harris is set to arrive in Seoul.

The launch came two days after South Korea and U.S. forces conducted a military drill in waters off the South’s east coast involving an aircraft carrier. On Sunday, North Korea fired another ballistic missile towards the sea off its east coast.

Wednesday’s missiles were launched from the Sunan area of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, between 18:10 p.m. (0910 GMT) and 18:20 p.m. (0920 GMT), South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

They flew about 360 km (225 miles), reaching an altitude of 30 km (19 miles) and a maximum velocity of Mach 6, they said, adding a detailed analysis was underway.

“North Korea’s provocations will further strengthen the South Korean-U.S. deterrence and response capability, and only deepen (North Korea’s) isolation from the international community,” they said in a statement.

North Korean state media did not mention the reports of the latest launches, but its leader Kim Jong Un has said its development of nuclear weapons and missiles are aimed at defending itself against U.S. threats.

Japan’s coast guard also reported a suspected ballistic missile test, which its minister of state for defence, Toshiro Ino, condemned as “unacceptable”.

He told reporters, “North Korea’s series of actions, including repeated ballistic missile launches, poses a threat to the peace and security of Japan, the region and international society.”

Following a stop in Japan, Harris will land in the South Korean capital and visit the heavily fortified Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) between the neighbours on Thursday.

In a speech hours earlier aboard the destroyer USS Howard destroyer in the Japanese city of Yokosuka, Harris had called Sunday’s missile launch part of an “illicit weapons programme which threatens regional stability and violates multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions”.

North Korea has tested missiles at an unprecedented pace this year, while this week’s joint drill is a show of force intended to warn against what could be its first nuclear test since 2017.

The isolated country has completed preparations for a nuclear test, a window for which could open between China’s party congress in October and the U.S. mid-term elections in November, South Korean lawmakers said on Wednesday.

Since 2006, North Korea has been subject to U.N. sanctions, which the Security Council has steadily, and unanimously, stepped up over the years to cut off funding for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

North Korea rejects the U.N. resolutions as an infringement of its sovereign right to self-defence and space exploration, and has criticised military exercises by the United States and South Korea as proof of their hostile intentions.


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Dollar continues losing momentum, falls Rs1.79 against PKR

The greenback has been losing value against the local unit for the fourth consecutive session



Karachi: Pakistani rupee on Wednesday gained Rs1.79 against the US dollar in the interbank market and closed at Rs232.12 against the previous day’s closing of Rs233.90.

According to the Forex Association of Pakistan (FAP), the buying and selling rates of dollars in the open market were recorded at Rs230 and Rs233 respectively.

According to market experts, the currency market was reacting positively to Ishaq Dar’s upcoming appointment as the new finance minister and expectation of strict action against hundi/hawala networks.

Meanhile, the price of Euro decreased by Rs 3.96 and closed at Rs 221.69 against the last day’s closing of Rs 225.65.

The Japanese Yen lost 02 paisas to close at Rs 1.60, whereas a decrease of Rs 4.90 was witnessed in the exchange rate of the British Pound, which was traded at Rs 247.90 as compared to its last closing of Rs 252.80.

The exchange rates of Emirates Dirham and Saudi Riyal decreased by 49 and 52 paisas to close at Rs 63.19 and Rs 61.67 respectively.


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Hurricane Ian hits ashore in Florida with Category 4 fury

Ian made landfall at 3:05 p.m. EDT (1905 GMT) near Cayo Costa



Hurricane Ian plowed into Florida's Gulf Coast on Wednesday as one of the most powerful U.S. storms in recent years, assaulting the state with howling winds, torrential rain and a treacherous surge of ocean surf.

Ian made landfall at 3:05 p.m. EDT (1905 GMT) near Cayo Costa, a barrier island just west of Fort Myers, as a Category 4 hurricane, with sustained winds of up to 150 miles per hour (241 km per hour), the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported.

The storm's wind speeds put it just shy of a Category 5 designation on the Saffir-Simpson scale, the most severe classification for storms with maximum sustained winds of at least 157 mph.

The region around the landfall zone is home to miles of sandy beaches, scores of resort hotels and numerous mobile home parks, a favorite with retirees and vacationers alike. But the storm soon transformed idyllic coastal communities into disaster zones.

An hour after landfall, video posted on social media and local TV stations showed water fueled by the powerful storm surge rushing through communities, nearly at the rooftops of homes. The town of Fort Myers Beach was nearly submerged by floodwaters and the ruins of homes could be seen floating downstream, along with cars.

A view of Sanibel Island posted on Twitter showed the ocean rushing over the seawall and flooding into a resort hotel's swimming pool. Other video from the island showed roads inundated by the storm surge, rising up to the tops of street signs.

Video posted on Twitter by a local reporter showed the ruins of several homes floating in floodwaters at Fort Myers Beach. A live camera shot from Sanibel Island on Twitter showed palm trees bent sideways amid a torrent of near blinding rain and wind as enormous waves crashed up a beach and onto a road.

Forecasters say Ian would unleash storm surges - wind-driven coastal flooding - of up to 18 feet (3.7 meters) along with intense thunderstorms and possible tornadoes.

"This is a storm that we will talk about for many years to come, an historic event," said Ken Graham, director of the National Weather Service.

Even as Ian lashed Florida's Gulf Coast with fierce winds and drenching rains in the final hours before it swept ashore, authorities warned residents it was too late for anyone who had yet to evacuate to safely do so.

In terms of its sustained wind speeds, which peaked at 155 mph before landfall, Ian ranks as one of the most ferocious hurricanes to strike the U.S. mainland in recent years. By comparison, Hurricane Michael came ashore in Florida's panhandle with steady winds of 155 mph, while Ida last year packed sustained winds of 150 mph when it landed in Louisiana.

The Weather Channel reported that Ian made landfall in the exact same point where Hurricane Charley made landfall in 2004 as a Category 4 storm. Both hurricanes had winds of 150 mph at landfall.

Ian was expected to weaken a notch after coming ashore, according to the NHC.

Ian knocked out power to over 1 million customers so far. Earlier this week, authorities told more than 2.5 million residents to evacuate. Doug Coe of Venice was one of those residents who chose to ignore warnings and stay put. As he walked through rainfall on Wednesday morning to see how a friend's home was weathering the storm, Coe admitted to never experiencing a storm of such magnitude, but he seemed unfazed by the prospects of it ravaging his neighborhood.

“You have to be vigilant because you never know what’s going to happen with it,” he said. “I’m staying vigilant, but trying not to worry.”

Hotels along Interstate Highway 75, which runs up and down Florida’s west coast, were jam packed with people seeking shelter. The region is dotted with mobile home parks, which most residents had abandoned, taking refuge in local schools and other facilities converted to emergency shelters. The area's numerous assisted-living facilities were mostly evacuated, too.

Heartis Venice, an assisted-living home north of Venice, was an exception. Of its 107 residents, 98 decided to stay put and continue receiving care with help of staff and some family members, general manager Michelle Barger said. The facility, opened two years ago, was built to withstand a Category 5 storm.

The facility stocked up on enough food and water to last more than seven days, as well as all medications and supplies needed to provide services, Barger said.

"Our community is locked down. We're secure and we're prepared for this," she said.


Climate change is making hurricanes wetter, windier and more intense. There is also evidence that it is causing storms to travel more slowly, meaning they can dump more water in one place, scientists say.

"Hurricane Ian's rapid intensification could prove to be another example of how a warming planet is changing hurricanes," said Kait Parker, meteorologist and climate scientist at IBM's "Research shows we are seeing this far more often than we did in decades past."

On Tuesday, the storm thrashed Cuba, knocking out the electrical grid for 11 million people and ravaging the western end of the Caribbean island nation with violent winds and flooding. By early Wednesday, the state electricity provider said it had begun to restore power across eastern Cuba.


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NSC approves formation of high-powered committee to investigate audio leaks

The meeting agreed to review the security, safety and the protection of official communications



Islamabad: The National Security Committee (NSC), in its meeting held here Wednesday with Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif in chair, approved the constitution of a high-powered committee led by Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah to probe the issue of audio leaks.

The meeting, which besides Federal Ministers was attended by Services Chiefs, heads of intelligence agencies and other senior officials, pondered over the audio leaks matter.

After consultation, the meeting also decided to prepare “Legal Framework” about cyber-security and in that respect directed the Ministry of Law and Justice for the preparation of legal framework.

The meeting agreed to review the security, safety and the protection of official communications in view of current changed environment of modern technology and cyberspace so as to check any interruption in the security system.

The heads of intelligence agencies gave a detailed briefing about the security of importance places including the PM House, cyberspace and other related aspect.

The meeting was told that investigations about the audios circulating on social media were underway.

It was also told about the fool-proof security arrangements at PM House, after the identification of some aspects regarding security.

The meeting was apprised of emergency steps being taken to ensure the security of important places and buildings including the PM House and Ministries so as to avoid any such situation in future.


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Pakistan beat England by six runs in fifth T20I

English team failed to chase 145-run target in the last over



Lahore: Pakistan thrashed England by five runs in teh fifth Twenty20 International match that was played in Lahore on Wednesday.

Pakistani bowlers restricted English batters in the last over. Skipper Moeen Ali, who struck a sixer in the last over and hit half century, even could not help his team win the match. 

Debutant Aamer Jamal was handed the responsibility to defend 15 in the last over and he did so against the dangerous Moeen Ali. 

Resultantly, the hosts have taken a 3-2 lead in the seven-match series. 


Earlier, England fast bowler Mark Wood's express pace helped the tourists bowl out Pakistan for a below-par 145 in the fifth T20 international in Lahore on Wednesday.

Wood — playing only his second international since undergoing elbow surgery — took 3-20 after the home team were sent in to bat at Gaddafi Stadium.

Wood's fellow pacers Sam Curran (2-23) and David Willey (2-23) also bowled with hostility as Pakistan were dismissed in 19 overs.

Amid a middle-order collapse from 42-1 which saw Pakistan lose six wickets off 48 balls for just 58 runs — opener Mohammad Rizwan held on with a defiant 46-ball 63.

Wood dismissed Pakistan skipper Babar Azam in the third over for nine before David Willey removed Shan Masood and Iftikhar Ahmed to derail Pakistan.

Mohammad Nawaz, for a duck, and Shadab Khan fell to injudicious runouts to leave Pakistan tottering at 100-7.

Rizwan completed his 20th T20I half- century before hitting Curran straight into the hands of Adil Rashid at deep square-leg in the 18th over.

The remaining matches will also be played in Lahore (September 30 and October 2).

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Sarah Inam’s father demands death sentence for suspect Shahnawaz

The victim's last rites were offered in Shahzad Town after which she was laid to rest



Islamabad: The father of slain Canadian national Sarah Inam on Wednesday demanded capital punishment for the prime suspect within two to three hearings.

The suspects named as Shahnawaz Amir had allegedly killed Sarah in Islamabad last week.

Shahnawaz was arrested last week for allegedly killing Sarah and was booked in a murder case.

The incident took place at a farmhouse located in Shahzad Town where the suspect lived along with his mother.

Today, the last rites of the victim were offered in Shahzad Town after which she was laid to rest.

Talking to reporters afterwards, Sarah’s father Inam Rahim said that what happened to his daughter was “injustice” as he called for a “strict punishment” for Shahnawaz.

“Sarah was brutally tortured. If this case is delayed, it will be a huge injustice,” he said, requesting the government and courts to wrap up the proceedings within three to four hearings.

“The suspect should be hanged. There is evidence [of the crime].”

Rahim said that if the case was delayed, people would forget about it and such crimes would continue to take place. “The Noor Mukaddam case is in front of you. People seduce rich and capable women but then they harass and loot these girls,” he claimed.

Talking about Sarah, Rahim said that his daughter had been in Dubai for the past 10 years. “She was my sweet one. We used to talk every day on calls and messages.

“She had a good job in Dubai and was getting several good offers. Shahnawaz was greedy and his eyes were on Sarah’s money,” he alleged.

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Interior minister condemns killing of Chinese national in Karachi

He directs the Chief Secretary Sindh to furnish a report related to the firing incident



Islamabad: Interior Minister Rana Sana Ullah on Wednesday condemned the firing incident at a clinic, in Karachi Saddar area, resulting in a death of Chinese national while causing injuries to two others.

He condemned the incident and expressed sorrow over the death of a Chinese national.

He directed the Chief Secretary Sindh to furnish a report related to the firing incident.

The minister said that such incidents were intolerable and assured that perpetrators of this heinous crime would be arrested soon.

Interior Minister also directed to increase the security of Chinese nationals.

One person was killed while two were injured in an attack on a Chinese dentist’s clinic in the Saddar area of the metropolis, the police said on Wednesday.

The unidentified suspect arrived at Dr H U Richard’s clinic as a patient and opened fire as soon as his number for the treatment came, the police said.


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