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Pakistan PM Says Court Ruling Against Sharif Hinders Democracy

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said a court order that barred former premier Nawaz Sharif from leading the ruling party and placed the timing of Senate elections into question hinders democracy and relieved past “dictatorial decisions.” The Senate ballot will go ahead as scheduled on March 3 after the Supreme Court nullified decisions made by Sharif in his capacity as president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, including candidate tickets in his name, Abbasi said in an interview late Wednesday following the hearing on the same day. The Election Commission, which hasn’t commented yet, will decide whether to hold the upper house ballot on time or delay them until it gets new nominations from the PML-N. The ruling was the latest legal decision to go against Sharif. He was b...

Women Lead the Hunt for Abducted Men in Yemen

The hotline rang every day for about three weeks in December at the Abductees’ Mothers Association. Yemeni families were desperately searching for male relatives in the shattered country after Yemen’s former president was killed. The group, run by 20 women, was there to help. Amid the destruction as rebel Houthis allied to Iran fight Saudi-led forces, its members have found a key role in a country and region where women are so often shut out. The association started in April 2016 and now has a research department and one for public relations to campaign for the release of men. It has a team of people secretly tracking down missing persons in areas of the country controlled by Houthis. Yemen is a male-dominated society, but there’s a flip side: a woman can do things men can’t during the sec...

Gupta Empire Crumbles as Zuma Exits South African Presidency

For years, brothers Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta were ranked among South Africa’s most prominent businessmen and socialized with the ruling elite, including their friend, then-President Jacob Zuma. They weathered accusations that they’d exploited their political connections to land an aircraft at a high-security military base to ferry guests to a private wedding, installed their allies in key positions at state companies, tried to influence cabinet appointments and looted billions of rand of taxpayer funds. Law enforcement agencies took no visible action against them, saying only that investigations were ongoing. A police van and uniformed and plainclothes police officers are seen inside Guptas’ compound WIKUS DE WET/AFP/Getty Images That all changed on Feb. 14, when Zuma quit as president ...

Pakistan Court Order Bars Sharif From Leading Ruling Party

Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled that disqualified politicians cannot lead a party, a verdict that will stop former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif heading the nation’s ruling group months before elections. The decision was taken on Wednesday by the 3-member court in Islamabad, which ruled that under the constitution a disqualified politician is “debarred from holding the position of party head.” It also nullified any decisions made by Sharif as party president, including candidate tickets in his name, putting into question Senate elections due March and a by-election victory that went in his party’s favor this month. The ruling was the latest to go against Sharif. He was barred from office last July by the court following a corruption probe into his family’s finances, but then re-elected by his...

Trump Jr: ‘Nonsense’ That Family Is Profiting From Presidency

New Delhi (AP) — Donald Trump Jr. said any talk of his family profiting from his father’s presidency is “nonsense” during a trip to India that has raised ethical concerns about using the name of the American president to promote international business ventures. The eldest son of President Donald Trump said his family is actually missing out on business opportunities because his father pledged to conduct no new foreign business while he was in office. Trump Jr. told Indian television channel CNBC-TV18 on Tuesday that when critics talk about them “profiteering from the presidency and all this nonsense” they forget about “the opportunity cost of the deals that we were not able to do.” “It’s sort of a shame. Because we put on all thes...

Trump Proposes Bigger Role for Skimpy Insurance, Undermining Obamacare

By Zachary Tracer February 20, 2018, 10:28 AM EST The Trump administration is proposing to expand the availability of short-term insurance plans, offering a cheaper health coverage option for consumers, while taking another step to undercut Obamacare. The Department of Health and Human Services proposed allowing short-term plans to be sold for coverage periods of up to a year, up from the current maximum of three months set by the Obama administration. The plans would also be allowed to offer far less comprehensive coverage than plans sold under the Affordable Care Act. Follow the Trump Administration’s Every Move The short-term plans are likely to appeal to healthier individuals who don’t think they need full coverage, potentially drawing them out of Obamacare’s markets. Combined with ear...

Guptas’ Optimum Coal Risks Suspension as Workers Protest

By Paul Burkhardt February 20, 2018, 9:08 AM EST Updated on February 21, 2018, 3:04 AM EST South Africa’s Optimum Coal mine, linked to the politically connected Gupta family, will be suspended if managers fail to comply with the site’s social and labor plan. Workers protested Wednesday over the uncertainty at the operations. The Department of Mineral Resources conducted an inspection on Feb. 8 and Optimum Coal must take measures to reach compliance within 60 days of a pending order, the ministry said by email. The National Union of Mineworkers said it went on strike because key questions have yet to be answered at the mine. “What our members want to know is are they going to sell the mine or not,” said Livhuwani Mammburu, a spokesman for the union. “They also want to know if they’re going ...

Pharmaceutical Titan’s Senate Bid Will Test Voters’ Views on Drug Prices

Bob Hugin helped build a pharmaceutical powerhouse. As he seeks to claim the seat of an embattled Democratic senator in New Jersey, that legacy could be both a blessing and a burden. Raised in Union City, a blue-collar town at the mouth of the Lincoln Tunnel, Hugin, 63, was the first member of his family to go to college. Princeton was followed by the Marine Corps and a successful stint on Wall Street. He left in the dot-com era to join what was then a small and, as Hugin tells it, near-bankrupt biotechnology firm. Robert Hugin Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg That company, Celgene Corp., is now the $72 billion maker of one of the most successful cancer drugs in history — and a symbol of some of the drug industry’s most-criticized business practices. Drug companies have enormous...

Trump Plan to Swap Food Stamps for Food Faces Skeptical Congress

A Trump administration plan to to replace food-stamp spending with boxes of “100 percent American grown food’’ landed on Congress’s doorstep with a thud. But the public attention heaped on the Agriculture Department’s plan to deliver “Harvest Boxes” to poor families also obscured the administration’s other efforts to cut the number of people eligible for the nation’s biggest food-aid program. Those provisions, including changes to work rules, are likely to find a more receptive audience among Republican lawmakers looking for ways to broadly scale back the nation’s social safety net for the poor. That’s where the battle may loom as Congress takes up nutrition programs this summer. The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to keep pushing the proposal to save $129 billion over a decade by shi...

Gupta Brother Says Dairy Farm Money Didn’t Go Into His Accounts

Atul Gupta, one of three brothers accused of swindling money from South African state funds, said in court documents that cash meant for the development of a dairy farm in Free State province wasn’t transferred to his private bank accounts. South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority should pay the costs of his application, said Gupta, who isn’t in South Africa and had the documents stamped in Dubai on Feb. 8. Prosecutors have misled the court by wrongly alleging that 10 million rand ($855,000) was transferred to his accounts, the evidence behind the accusation is sketchy and previous court orders should be set aside, Gupta said in the documents. The Guptas are friends of former President Jacob Zuma and have done business with his son Duduzane. One of the family’s alleged scams involved ...

Now Bots Are Trying to Help Populists Win Italy’s Election

Shortly after midnight on Jan. 24, the home-made device David Puente built to catch fake Twitter accounts in the act started rumbling. In just over a minute, more than 150 users sent out the same tweet extolling Italian anti-euro populist Matteo Salvini, a contender in next month’s presidential election. It was obvious to Puente, a computer programmer, that they were bots, or automated accounts that masquerade as real people and are used increasingly as a tool to sway political opinion. “Monitoring the accounts of all the candidates is a civic duty for me,” said Puente, 35, who often stays up until 3 a.m. tracking social-media activity from his home in northern Italy while his family sleeps. Screenshots from Twitter show an identical tweet from multiple accounts reading: “A fan...

Turnbull Says Coalition Ties `Very Strong’ Amid Sex-Scandal Rift

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he can “absolutely” continue working with his deputy after the pair met in a bid to avoid fracturing the coalition government amid the fallout from Barnaby Joyce’s extramarital affair with a former staffer. “It’s always very important to meet, to work through the various challenges and issues that we face, but the important thing is Barnaby and I are working closely together as we always have,” Turnbull told reporters in Melbourne Sunday. The nation’s two most senior lawmakers talked for more than an hour in Sydney on Saturday and agreed they need to work better together in the future. Turnbull said he and Joyce, who is the deputy prime minister and leader of the Nationals party, had a “frank and warm, friendly, good, constructive meeting.” “...

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