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In last one year, small boat crossings by illegal migrants down by a third, says UK PM Sunak

Addressing a hurriedly organised press conference from Downing Street, the 43-year-old British Indian leader Rishi Sunak on Thursday referred to his heritage as a “child of immigrants” to highlight how his family used the legal route before becoming proud British nationals. Sunak on Thursday launched a fight-back in favour of what he dubbed as “the toughest anti-immigration law ever” amid turmoil within the governing Conservative Party. 

“Illegal immigration undermines not just our border control, it undermines the very sense of fairness that is so central to our national character,” said Sunak. Keen to turn the increasingly divisive narrative on immigration in his favour, he stressed that since he took charge last year small boat crossings by illegal migrants were down by a third and that he is confident his version of the new Safety of Rwanda Bill will meet the required legal threshold. “We have blocked every avenue that anyone has ever used in the past to frustrate their removal. All of those avenues have been shut down. So for the people to say something different, the difference between them and me is an inch, given everything we have closed... But that inch by the way is the difference between the Rwandans participating in this scheme and not,” he said, in a clear challenge to those who opposed the Bill. Sunak is caught in the middle of two strands within his party, one on the extreme right voiced by sacked home secretary Suella Braverman calling for an extreme agenda to override legal challenges and the other more centrist view of the UK not being seen to breach its human rights obligations. The clash came to a head on Wednesday night when Robert Jenrick, someone seen as a Sunak ally, resigned as his Immigration Minister declaring that his boss' new Bill designed to override a Supreme Court block “does not go far enough”.

“I cannot continue in my position when I have such strong disagreements with the direction of the government's policy on immigration,” wrote Jenrick in his resignation letter to Sunak.

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Know more about the Rwanda draft Bill

The new Rwanda draft Bill, to be tabled in Parliament on Thursday (UK time) and expected to face a vote next week, compels UK judges to treat the African nation as a safe country and gives ministers powers to disregard sections of the Human Rights Act.

It follows the visit by James Cleverly, Secretary of State for the Home Department, to Kigali earlier this week to sign a new treaty with Rwandan Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vincent Biruta. Under the plan, the United Kingdom plans to deport illegal migrants to Rwanda while their asylum claims are processed and hopes it will act as a deterrent for people smugglers bringing migrants illegally to UK shores.

Although the Bill allows ministers to dis-apply sections of the Human Rights Act, it does not disregard the entire legislation, as some had demanded, and it does not include powers to dismiss the whole of the European Convention on Human Rights.

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Indian-origin soldier among Israelis killed in Gaza

A 34-year-old Indian-origin Israeli soldier, Master Sgt. (res.) Gil Daniels, has been killed during fighting in Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip this week.

His funeral was held at the military cemetery in his hometown on Wednesday, they said.

The Israel Defence Forces confirmed that Gil was among two more soldiers killed during fighting in the Gaza Strip. “Today, we mourn the death of another IDF (Israel Defence Forces) soldier Master Sgt. (Res.) Gil Daniels (34), son of Yoel and Mazal,” the Indian Jewish Heritage Centre said adding Gil went to the reserves on October 10 soon after the war started.

A Bene Israel community member, whose origin lies in Maharashtra, Gil studied at Makif Gimel High School as a member of the class of 2007. Gil did his Masters at the School of Pharmacy at Hebrew University. Some 86 Israeli soldiers are said to have been killed in fighting since the IDF launched its ground operation in Gaza. 

At least four Indian-origin Israeli soldiers are known to have been killed since October 7.

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Sunak’s leadership in trouble over Rwanda deportation policy

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's leadership of the governing Conservative Party is facing turmoil after a bruising Cabinet resignation and open attacks by backbenchers over his government's controversial policy to deport illegal migrants to Rwanda.

The British Indian prime minister is caught in the middle of two strands within his party, one on the extreme right voiced by sacked home secretary Suella Braverman calling for an extreme agenda to override legal challenges and the other more centrist view of the UK not being seen to breach its human rights obligations. The clash came to a head on Wednesday night when Robert Jenrick, someone seen as a Sunak ally, resigned as his Immigration Minister, declaring that his boss' new Safety of Rwanda Bill designed to override a Supreme Court block "does not go far enough.”

Describing the small boat crossings across the English Channel by illegal migrants as doing "untold damage" to the country, Jenrick insisted that the government needed to get much tougher against "highly contested interpretations of international law.” In his reply letter, Sunak countered by saying that the new bill would be "the toughest piece of illegal migration legislation ever put forward by a UK government" and that his former Cabinet ally's opposition to it was "based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation.”

The new Rwanda draft bill, to be tabled in Parliament on Thursday for debate, compels UK judges to treat the African nation as a safe country and gives ministers powers to disregard sections of the Human Rights Act. Under the plan, the UK plans to deport illegal migrants to Rwanda while their asylum claims are processed and hopes it will act as a deterrent for people smugglers bringing migrants illegally to UK shores.

The latest row comes as Sunak continues to try and finetune his pitch for a general election expected in the next 12 months, amid a deeply divided Conservative Party which has seen prime ministers come and go in recent years due to infighting.

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Cash-strapped Pakistan secures USD 658 ADB package

Cash-strapped Pakistan has secured a USD 658 million financing package from the Asian Development Bank.

The ADB approved a financing package for Pakistan under three different loans.  Among other components, these include USD 300 million for improving domestic resource mobilisation; USD 275 million for rehabilitating schools damaged by the devastating August 2022 floods; and USD 80 million for enhancing agricultural productivity to improve food security, according to an announcement by the ADB on Wednesday.

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Police in Canada evacuate Hindi moviegoers

Several moviegoers in three different Greater Toronto Area regions in Canada were evacuated. Some of them were also treated for exposure to an unknown substance sprayed by masked men in theatres playing Hindi movies, according to police and media reports.

One such incident happened around 9:20 p.m. on Tuesday at a cinema complex in Vaughan, York Regional Police said. Numerous movie-goers started coughing after two men in masks and hoods sprayed an “unknown, aerosol-based, irritating substance into the air” in a theatre, the police said.

Around 200 people were inside when a Hindi film was playing at the time, police said adding no serious injuries were reported.  The suspects however fled before the police arrived, investigators said.

Police said the first suspect was a Black man with a light skin tone while the second man was described as brown with a light skin tone.

York police said they were in touch with both Peel and Toronto police about similar incidents that happened this week, CBC News reported. “Coincidentally, they took place all within less than three hours on the same evening,” a York police officer said on Wednesday.

“No arrests have been made yet,” the police said.

Toronto police said officers similarly got a call on Tuesday night about someone setting off a “stink bomb” in a theatre at Scarborough Town Centre. The theatre was evacuated and no injuries were reported, police said. When asked if the incidents were being investigated as hate-motivated crimes, Sgt. Clint Whitney said the investigation was in its early stages.

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Russia set to hold presidential election in March 2024

Russia will hold its presidential election on March 17, 2024, after the upper house of the Parliament decided to approve the decree setting the date unanimously. 

Although there is no announcement yet, 71-year-old President Vladimir Putin is potentially likely to run for another term that could keep him in power until at least 2030, in what would be his fifth term in office. 

Under constitutional reforms that Putin himself put in place in 2020, he is eligible to seek two more six-year terms after his current one expires next year. Given that he has established tight control over the country with most prominent critics either in jail or living abroad, if he does intend to run, his victory is assured. 

For the first time, residents of the parts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia and Kherson regions of Ukraine annexed by Russia would take part in the vote, the head of the chamber, Valentina Matviyenko said. 

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Singapore, China plan reciprocal 30-day visa-free entry

Singapore and China have agreed to put in place a 30-day mutual visa exemption agreement early next year, the Singapore foreign ministry said today. Both countries are still working out the details of the arrangement. The Chinese foreign minister also confirmed the agreement but did not mention the length of stay. 

Thailand and Malaysia also have exempted visas for Chinese tourists. This year, China resumed 15-day visa-free entry for citizens of Singapore, over three years after such visas were suspended because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Reuters had previously reported that China has been eager for the agreement to become reciprocal. 

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Growth in China's exports for the first time in six months

China's November exports, as per customs data on Thursday, marked the first growth in six months, indicating a potential positive impact on the manufacturing sector from an upswing in global trade flows.

Exports rose by 0.5% compared to a 6.4% decline in October, surpassing the expected 1.1% drop in a Reuters poll. However, imports contracted by 0.6%, following a 3.0% increase in October. In November, the International Monetary Fund increased its growth forecasts for China in 2023 and 2024 by 0.4% each. However, on Tuesday, Moody's issued a downgrade warning on China's A1 credit rating.

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Rohingya Muslims fleeing to Indonesia face severe backlash from locals

Rohingya Muslims have been facing severe backlash from residents of Aceh in Indonesia which has become a transit port for the refugees on their way to Malaysia from Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazaar.

According to a BBC report, in a recent incident, the local population refused to let the refugee boat be docked at the shore, with an angry villager seen shouting, “You can’t dock here! Don’t make us hit you!”. While the refugees were allowed to finally dock after floating in uncertainty for several days, they had already lost three babies onboard due to illness and lack of food.

Yasmin Fatoum, one of the refugees who lost her young daughter, said, “When I first arrived in Indonesia, I had two children. But when they pushed away our boat, one of my children died because she was sick and we didn't have any food. We had to throw her body into the sea.” According to the UN Refugee Agency data, Aceh, which already houses 1,200 Rohingya Muslims, half of whom are children, saw 1,087 Rohingyas migrating to the province in November.

The refugees are currently residing in an immigration office functioning as a temporary refugee shelter. The locals cite their conservative Muslim beliefs and express discomfort with unmarried Rohingya men and women sharing the same camp. They also accuse them of maintaining unclean living conditions.

Additionally, they also claim that the refugees view Indonesia solely as a transit stop on their way to Malaysia.

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‘Oppenheimer’ to be finally released in Japan

Christopher Nolan’s hit biopic on the creator of the nuclear bomb, ‘Oppenheimer’ is finally set to release in Japan – following criticism that it was marketed in a way that trivialised the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The movie’s distributor in Japan, Bitters End, said on Thursday that the film, whose key pilot is L Robert Oppenheimer’s moral dichotomy over his role in the world’s first nuclear attack on August 6, 1945, would be released in 2024. The movie’s release was pushed after a huge controversy after the movie was set to release internationally at the same time as the comedy movie ‘Barbie’ in July. Some shared memes and art combining the pink imagery of Barbie with mushroom clouds and explosions in Oppenheimer.

Internet references about the two movies together drew anger in Japan on allegations of trivialising the nuclear attack on Japan that led to the death of around 2,00,000 people. 

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Pakistani court to consider Nawaz Sharif's appeal in Al-Azizia corruption case conviction

The Islamabad High Court will hear on Thursday an appeal by former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif against his conviction in the Al-Azizia Steel mill corruption case.

Sharif, 73, was sentenced to seven years in jail and imposed a heavy fine by an anti-corruption court in December 2018 after he failed to convince the court that he had nothing to do with the steel mill set up by his father in 2001 in Saudi Arabia.
Sharif was serving a jail term in the case when he was granted rare permission to seek medical treatment abroad in October 2019.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supremo chose not to return from London despite repeated court summonses, leading to both the Islamabad High Court and an accountability court declaring him a proclaimed offender.

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Israel permits minimal increase in amount of fuel entering Gaza

The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said on Wednesday that it will approve the war cabinet’s proposal to allow a minimal fuel supply in the southern Gaza Strip.

On its official Twitter account, the PMO of Israel wrote, “The Security Cabinet approved the recommendation of the War Cabinet to allow a minimal supplement of fuel - necessary to prevent a humanitarian collapse and the outbreak of epidemics - into the southern Gaza Strip.” “This minimal amount will be determined from time to time by the war cabinet, in accordance with the disease rate and humanitarian conditions in the Strip,” the statement added.

The security cabinet was held in response to US pressure, with Washington requesting that the daily delivery of 60,000 litres of fuel be doubled or perhaps tripled, The Times of Israel reported.

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US grounds entire Osprey fleet after fatal crash in Japan

The US has said it is grounding its entire fleet of V-22 Osprey helicopters after a crash off the coast of Japan last week, killing eight service members, reportedly due to a malfunction. The remains of two service members are yet to be recovered

“Preliminary investigation information indicates a potential material failure caused the mishap, but the underlying cause of the failure is unknown at this time,” US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) said in a statement. Both Air Force and Navy officials said they had taken the step as a measure “to mitigate risk while the investigation continues”. More than 50 US service members have died either on Osprey flight tests or training flights. 

Japan has grounded its fleet of 14 Ospreys after the crash as well. It is the only other country known to operate the Ospreys, which can function as both a helicopter and an aircraft with a propeller. 

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United Kingdom’s family visa crackdown to impact many Indian family plans

The United Kingdom government’s latest set of visa crackdowns to cut immigration figures is expected to impact several Indian families.

Indian industry and student groups have warned the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak-led government of “unintended consequences” of the new measures aimed at curbing migration figures, which would lead to skilled Indians choosing alternate economies. The family visa category, under which long-term UK residents are able to bring their spouses and partners to join them, until now required the applicant to be earning at least GBP 18,600 annually.

From March/April next year, this threshold will jump to GBP 38,700, inevitably set to have a significant impact on applicants from the Indian subcontinent. 

Indians make up the second-highest cohort under the Family Visa in the past year (5,870) after Pakistanis (15,038), as per official Home Office statistics. “We will ensure that people bring only dependants whom they can support financially, by raising the minimum income for Family Visas to the same threshold as the minimum salary threshold for skilled workers, which is GBP 38,700,” UK Home Secretary James Cleverly told Parliament earlier this week.

The minimum income requirement is currently GBP 18,600 and has not been increased since 2012. This package of measures will take effect from next spring,” he said. The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO), the UK’s largest representative body for nearly 80,000 doctors and 55,000 nurses of Indian origin has written to the Home Secretary demanding clarity on exactly how the new clampdown on overseas care workers will operate.

The letter reads, “Stopping their spouses and children from accompanying them to the UK will have a significant detrimental impact on their mental and physical wellbeing resulting in a lower quality of care for patients and a reluctance for these skilled workers to either continue working or start new positions in the UK.” Analysts have flagged that this steep hike will have a wide-ranging impact on the family plans of those on lower incomes. 

Dr Madeleine Sumption, Director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said the decision to raise the family income threshold was the “biggest surprise of the day”. Sumption notes, “This threshold determines whether British citizens can bring a foreign partner to live with them in the UK, and the level has been more than doubled. Family migration makes up a small share of the total, but those who are affected by it can be affected very significantly.

“The largest impacts will fall on lower-income British citizens, and particularly women and younger people who tend to earn lower wages. The income threshold will also affect people more if they live outside of London and the south east [England], in areas of the country where earnings are lower.”

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LeT member behind CRPF and BSF convoy plots killed in Pakistan

Adnan Ahmed, also known as Abu Hanzala, a high-ranking commander of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and orchestrator of numerous assaults on security forces in the Valley, was fatally shot in Karachi three days ago by unidentified assailants.

Despite the protection of a double-layered security detail provided by the ISI, Hanzala suffered multiple gunshot wounds to his head, chest, and abdomen at close range. CCTV footage and images disseminated by a pro-LeT Telegram channel depicted the aftermath, showing Hanzala’s body, riddled with bullets, inside a van.

The attack occurred outside his residence during the night, and he was subsequently taken to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, where he was declared deceased. Authorities have classified the incident as a terrorist act. Hanzala, who had relocated from Rawalpindi to Karachi in 2020, was a key figure among several mysterious deaths in Pakistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir this year. He was known for coordinating a terrorist strike on a CRPF convoy in Pampore, Jammu & Kashmir, on June 25, 2016, which resulted in eight fatalities and 22 injuries.

Hanzala was also behind the attack on a BSF convoy in Udhampur in 2015, which claimed the lives of two BSF personnel and injured 13 others. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) conducted an investigation into the Pampore attack and filed a chargesheet against Hanzala and others on August 6, 2015.

The Pampore attack was orchestrated by Khalid Waleed, son-in-law of LeT founder Hafiz Saeed, with Hanzala and Sajid Jat overseeing the operation.

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Putin visits Saudi Arabia, meets with crown prince to strengthen ties

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Saudi Arabia and met with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to discuss political and economic ties, as well as regional issues like the Israel-Palestine conflict. Despite Western sanctions, Putin’s trip signifies ongoing global engagement, with talks following OPEC+'s decision to cut oil production. The leaders also considered a Russia-Saudi fertiliser joint venture. Putin’s visit included a stop in Abu Dhabi, where he was warmly received and discussed joining the BRICS group with UAE officials.

His Middle East tour continues with a meeting with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. Putin’s engagements highlight Russia’s efforts to maintain international relations amidst the Ukraine conflict.

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US senate republicans block bill that offered aid to Israel and Ukraine

The Senate has rejected a supplementary funding proposal encompassing financial assistance for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, alongside measures aimed at reinforcing border security. With a vote of 49 to 51, primarily along party lines, the outcome heightens the likelihood of Congress failing to authorise additional funding for Ukraine before the year's end.

The White House has emphasised the urgent need for more aid to Kyiv. All Senate Republicans opposed advancing the legislation, falling short of the 60 votes required. Republican members across both chambers had insisted on more stringent border regulations in exchange for their support, asserting that the bill did not meet their criteria.

The vote followed the formal introduction by Senate Democrats of a $111 billion supplemental security bill, aligning with Joe Biden's October funding request to support U.S. allies overseas.

Prior to the vote, President Biden addressed Congress, urging the passage of the bill and cautioning that failure to act would only serve the interests of Vladimir Putin in the conflict with Ukraine. The allocation of $10 billion for aid to Israel has drawn criticism from Bernie Sanders. In a letter circulated to colleagues on Tuesday, the Vermont senator cautioned against providing a "blank check" to Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, especially as the death toll in Gaza continues to rise.

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Houthis in Yemen claim to have fired ballistic missiles at Israel

The Houthi group from Yemen announced the launch of multiple ballistic missiles targeting military sites in Eilat, a city in southern Israel on Wednesday. This statement was made by the group’s military spokesperson.

Earlier that day, the USS Mason, an American Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, intercepted a drone believed to have originated from a Houthi-controlled region in Yemen, according to a U.S. official. The incident resulted in no casualties or damage, and the intended target of the drone remains uncertain. This marks the sixth occasion that the U.S. Navy has engaged drones in the southern Red Sea since the onset of hostilities between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas on October 7. The region has also witnessed a series of assaults on commercial ships navigating Middle Eastern waters.

The Houthis, who are aligned with Tehran, have been executing missile and drone strikes against Israel and vessels associated with Israel in the Red Sea, expressing support for the Palestinian Hamas militants engaged in the conflict in Gaza. On the same day, the UK’s Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency and the British maritime security firm Ambrey reported a suspected drone incident over the Red Sea, west of the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah.

UKMTO has advised ships passing through the region to remain vigilant. The U.S. military disclosed that on Sunday, three commercial vessels were targeted in the southern Red Sea. The Pentagon earlier indicated that the series of attacks by the Houthi group might not be aimed at U.S. warships, despite the U.S. Navy’s countermeasures involving the downing of drones and missiles.

The Houthi group claimed responsibility for drone and missile strikes on two Israeli ships in the vicinity on Sunday, asserting that these actions were in response to the calls from Yemenis and the broader Muslim community to support the Palestinian cause.

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Indonesia rescuers find last missing hiker on Mount Marapi volcano

Rescuers discovered the body of the last missing hiker from the volcanic eruption on Indonesia's Mount Marapi, raising the death toll to 23.

The search for the remaining 10 missing hikers resumed on Tuesday after safety concerns prompted a pause.

Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency announced the recovery of the final body on Wednesday. The body has been identified as a woman. Abdul Malik, head of the Padang Search and Rescue Agency, stated, "The joint search and rescue team has found one victim of the Mount Marapi eruption, who is now in the process of being evacuated."

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Taylor Swift named Time Magazine's person of the year

Pop-star Taylor Swift was named Time magazine’s "Person of the Year" after launching a record-shattering global tour and becoming the world's most-streamed musical artist in 2023. She told the magazine that she is "the proudest and happiest I've ever felt".

Swift is the first person from the arts to be awarded the honour. The announcement came at a time when her nearly two decades of fame and influence have come to a peak. 

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Civilians seek safety as Israel pushes forward in southern Gaza city

In the midst of intense conflict, Israeli forces engaged with Hamas militants in the central areas of Gaza’s largest southern city, while also asserting that they had encircled the residence of a key militant leader.

Amidst this turmoil, thousands of displaced civilians sought refuge near the Egyptian border and in a barren coastal region of Gaza. The populace of Rafah, located on the Egyptian frontier, sought safety there, heeding Israeli advisories promising security. However, the destruction of a house by an Israeli attack, which claimed 15 lives according to Rafah’s health officials, left them in a state of apprehension.

The Israeli military reported its first penetration into the core of Khan Younis, Gaza’s southern metropolis. The al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military faction, described the combat as intense. Local reports indicated that Israeli bombings intensified, resulting in civilian casualties, while tanks engaged with Palestinian fighters to the north and east of Khan Younis.

Israel announced that its forces conducted “targeted raids” in central Khan Younis, claiming to have neutralised militants, dismantled their infrastructure, and discovered weaponry. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israeli troops had surrounded the residence of Hamas leader Yahya Al-Sinwar in Khan Younis. Netanyahu, in a video address, stated, “His house may not be his fortress and he can escape, but it’s only a matter of time before we get him.”

Residents of Khan Younis observed Israeli tanks approaching Sinwar’s dwelling, although his presence there was uncertain. Israel has expressed its belief that numerous Hamas leaders and combatants are concealed within subterranean tunnels. Israeli aircraft launched extensive bombings across Gaza’s densely inhabited coastal region, marking one of the most intense episodes of the two-month conflict. The Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that an Israeli airstrike on a residence in Maghazi, Central Gaza, resulted in at least 17 fatalities on Wednesday night.

Al Jazeera reported that an Israeli bombardment of Jabalia Camp in northern Gaza led to the death of 22 relatives of its Gaza correspondent, Moamen Al-Sharafi, prompting the network to denounce the assault. Countless individuals, rendered homeless in northern Gaza due to the conflict, were in dire need of shelter, with the number of safe havens in the south, as designated by Israel, dwindling rapidly.

The UN humanitarian office disclosed in a report that the majority of the displaced in Rafah, situated roughly 13 km (8 miles) south of Khan Younis, were without proper shelter, sleeping in the open due to a shortage of tents, despite the U.N.'s distribution of a limited number.

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Trigger warning: Gun violence Las Vegas: Three killed in shooting at University of Nevada

Trigger warning: Gun violence
Three people were killed and another was critically injured after a shooter opened fire at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, at around 11:45 am on Wednesday, the authorities said. The suspect also died after a confrontation with the police, it is not immediately clear if the suspect was shot by the police.

Those on campus were under a lockdown as the campus police investigated reports of gunfire at a few locations of the university.  After the shooting, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and other public colleges and universities in southern Nevada were closed for the rest of the day.

The Guardian notes that the US broke its own record for the most deadly mass shootings in a single year, earlier this year. 

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UK Immigration Minister resigns, Rishi Sunak loses an ally

Robert Jenrick, the UK’s Immigration Minister, resigned due to disagreements with the government’s policy on deporting illegal migrants to Rwanda. Jenrick, previously an ally of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, criticised the proposed legislation for not adequately addressing legal challenges.

Sunak expressed disappointment, citing a misunderstanding by Jenrick. The resignation comes amid preparations for the 2024 general election and Labour’s critique of the government’s approach. The Safety of Rwanda Bill, aiming to establish Rwanda as a safe country for deportees, is set to be introduced, with Sunak emphasising its role in border control and legal challenge prevention. The bill follows a treaty signed by Home Secretary James Cleverly in Rwanda, part of the UK’s strategy to deter illegal migration.

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UN Secretary-General invokes Article 99 amid Gaza crisis

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in an unprecedented move, invoked Article 99 of the UN Charter, formally submitting the Gaza situation to the UN Security Council on Wednesday. He urged council members to "avert a humanitarian catastrophe" in the besieged enclave, delivering a letter to Security Council President Jose De La Gasca.

Guterres highlighted the "appalling human suffering" and lack of effective civilian protection in the conflict, calling for a humanitarian ceasefire. “There is no effective protection of civilians. … Nowhere is safe in Gaza,” the letter further said. "I’ve just invoked Art.99 of the UN Charter – for the 1st time in my tenure as Secretary-General," he stated in a social media post on X, citing the severe risk to Gaza's humanitarian system.

Article 99 allows the secretary-general to bring matters threatening international peace and security to the Security Council's attention.

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Dr Samir Shah of Indian origin, appointed as BBC’s new chairman

Dr. Samir Shah, an Indian-born UK media veteran with over 40 years of experience, has been chosen as the preferred candidate for the new BBC chairman. The 71-year-old CBE recipient will succeed Richard Sharp following his resignation.

Shah’s extensive background in TV production, journalism, and his commitment to diversity will be crucial for the BBC’s future. He will undergo a pre-appointment scrutiny by MPs before taking up the role, which involves a three-day workweek and an annual salary of GBP 160,000. Shah aims to support the BBC in facing the challenges of a changing media environment and ensuring it continues to serve and represent UK communities. His appointment has been welcomed by the BBC, and he looks forward to contributing his skills to the organisation.

Shah, who moved to England in 1960, has held significant positions at the BBC and is also known for his work in race relations.

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Tibetan leader urges democratic nations to pay attention to pro-democracy ‘internal forces’ in China

Tibetan President Penpa Tsering asserted in an address at an awareness event on Panchen Lama that Tibetans are facing a gradual decline due to China's repression.

Tsering said the “democratic free world” must look at the “internal forces” such as the Tibetans, Uyghur leaders and pro-democratic activists in Hong Kong to put pressure on Beijing to reverse its aggressive approach and bring “positive changes” within that country. The Tibetan leader also underlined the importance for India to speak out clearly on issues like choosing the successor to the Dalai Lama and China’s overall muscle-flexing in the region.

The Sikyong or political leader of the exiled Central Tibetan Administration accused China of destroying the historical basis of Tibet’s existence and stressed that awareness needs to be created about China’s strategic objectives and plans.

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FBI chief set to visit India next week, NIA to discuss evidence against Pannun

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director Christopher A Wray is expected to visit India on December 11-12, Indian Express report citing source. Wray is visiting to take up three key issues with National Investigation Agency (NIA) chief Dhinkar Gupta: Khalistan terrorism, gangster nexus, and Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.

This comes just days after US federal prosecutors accused an Indian citizen and an unnamed government official in a thwarted plot to assassinate Khalistani separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. This would be the first visit by an FBI director to India in 12 years, and the first for Wray since taking office in 2017.

Indian Express’ sources said Wray is also likely to meet senior officials of the central intelligence agencies and the Ministry of Home Affairs. 

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