Brazil, Ukraine choose their leaders today
On poll eve, Ukraine’s Poroshenko seeks support for pro-Europe course
Mali seeks to contain Ebola fears after girl dies
Obama hugs Ebola-free nurse Pham on her release
Washington, October 25
President Obama recently congratulated a Dallas nurse, who has been rid of Ebola, when she visited the White house, by hugging her. Nurse Nina Pham, had acquired the Ebola virus while taking care of a Liberian in his country, but was recently declared Ebola free last week and met with President on Oct 24 afternoon at the White House, the Washington Post reported.
President Barack Obama hugs Ebola survivor Nina Pham in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. AP/PTI
Kurdish forces retake Iraqi town
Iran executes woman despite global appeals for retrial
Canadians flock to Parliament Hill
India’s Sundar Pichai to head key Google services
Indian firms leading tech billionaire list
Brazil, Ukraine choose their leaders today
Brasilia, October 25
In the final television debate of a bitter campaign, Leftist President Dilma Rousseff and pro-business opposition candidate Aecio Neves sparred over who was best suited to restore growth to a stagnant economy, fight inflation, bring down rents and deal with open sewers in Brazilian cities.
But it was a deepening bribery scandal at the country's largest enterprise, state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA , that brought the fiercest exchanges.
"There is one easy way to put an end to corruption: throw the Workers' Party out of office," Neves said in reply to a question from a voter on how to improve Brazil's lenient anti-corruption laws.
Polls show that the festering corruption scandal involving the ruling Workers' Party has not had a significant impact on the race in which Rousseff gained a clear lead this week.
In his last chance to win over voters, Neves came out swinging in the debate and asked Rousseff straight out whether she knew about a scam that allegedly received kickbacks from Petrobras contractors and funneled funds to Rousseff's party and its allies in Congress.
Neves, the market favourite who had stirred investor enthusiasm by promising business-friendly policies to pull Brazil out of recession, assailed Rousseff for poor management of Latin America's largest economy and losing control of inflation.
Rousseff blamed Neves' Brazilian Social Democracy Party for the crisis facing Brazil's largest city Sao Paulo, which is close to running out of water. She said water was the responsibility of the state government run by his party. "Such a lack of planning in the richest state in the country is shameful," she said. — Reuters
Kiev, October 25
Poroshenko, who is expecting a big win for his political bloc in the first parliamentary election since the overthrow of the Moscow-backed leader Viktor Yanukovich, said he saw a "radically new" assembly emerging on Sunday.
But to push through his reform strategy, he needed "a majority in the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament), one that is for reform and not corrupt, one that is pro-Ukrainian and pro-European and not pro-Soviet," he said in a televised address to the people.
"Without such a majority in Parliament, the President's programme which millions of Ukrainians believed in June will simply remain on paper," he said.
Poroshenko, who was elected president in May by a landslide after "Euromaidan" street protests ousted Yanukovich, called Sunday's snap vote to clear out Yanukovich loyalists from parliament and secure increased legitimacy for Kiev's pro-Western leadership in the face of pressure from Russia.
The "Euromaidan" revolution was broadly supported by Western governments but Moscow denounced Yanukovich's ouster as a coup by a "fascist junta". Russia subsequently annexed Ukraine's Crimea region, which has a Russian majority, and backed separatist rebellions that broke out in the industrialised east.
Those rebellions led to a conflict in which about 3,700 people have been killed. Poroshenko said he wanted a clear reform plan to emerge from any coalition agreement among the parties rather than "sweet promises" in exchange for government portfolios.
He also pledged to stick to his peace plan to find a negotiated end to the conflict in the east and ruled out ordering any military storm of separatist strongholds such as the city of Donetsk. "We can only get those territories back by a political settlement and not by military means. Nobody will stop me from seeking a peaceful way out of the situation," he said.
The tug-of-war over Ukraine, a country of about 45 million, has propelled nationalist parties to the fore in tomorrow's vote, meaning that Poroshenko will be under pressure to deliver on anti-corruption promises and a solution to the armed conflict. — Reuters
Bamako, October 25
The World Health Organization warned the situation in Mali was an "emergency," and said in its latest Ebola situation report that the biggest outbreak on record has now killed 4,922 people, the vast majority of them in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with 10,141 cases reported.
The US states of New York and New Jersey ordered mandatory quarantine for medics who had treated victims of the disease in west Africa, after a doctor who had returned from the region became the first Ebola case in New York City.
President Barack Obama sought to calm a jittery public by hugging one of the two nurses who became the first to contract Ebola on American soil after treating a patient, but has now been declared free of the disease.
Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita aimed to ease fears after the death of a two-year-old girl, the first Ebola case in the landlocked country, who travelled from neighbouring Guinea.
"We are doing everything to prevent panic and psychosis," he said in an interview with French radio.
"Since the start of this epidemic, we in Mali took all measures to be safe, but we never hermetically sealed ourselves from this," he said.
"Guinea is a neighbouring country, we have a common border that we have not closed and that we will not close." But WHO said it was treating the situation in Mali as an "emergency" because the toddler had travelled for hundreds of kilometres on public transport with her grandmother while showing symptoms of the disease-meaning that she was contagious. — AFP
WHO: Ebola-linked cases cross 10,000
Washington, October 25
Nurse Nina Pham, had acquired the Ebola virus while taking care of a Liberian in his country, but was recently declared Ebola free last week and met with President on Oct 24 afternoon at the White House, the Washington Post reported.
Pham had been transferred to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., last week and walked out of the facility on October 24 morning.
Pham has read a statement after being released, saying that she felt fortunate and blessed to be standing there and had reflected on how many others have not been so fortunate. — ANI
Arbil, October 25
A Kurdish intelligence officer in Zumar said peshmerga forces had advanced from five directions in the early morning and encountered fierce resistance, but ultimately prevailed. A spokesman for the peshmerga ministry also said Zumar was now in Kurdish hands.
Zumar was one of the first Kurdish-controlled towns to be overrun in August by Islamic State militants who went on to threaten the autonomous region's capital, prompting air strikes by the United States - a campaign since joined by Britain and France.
If the Kurds are able to keep Zumar, it would make it easier for them to advance on Sinjar, where Islamic State militants are besieging members of Iraq's Yazidi minority on a mountain.
Helped by the air strikes, Kurdish forces have regained ground from Islamic State but progress has been hampered by a lack of heavy weaponry and by homemade bombs and booby-traps laid by the militants.
The Kurds claimed victory in Zumar in September, only to withdraw from the town again. — Reuters
Tehran, October 25
Reyhaneh Jabbari was hanged at dawn, the official IRNA news agency quoted the Tehran prosecutor's office as saying.
A message posted on the homepage of a Facebook campaign that was set up to try to save her, but which now states "Rest in Peace," confirmed the report.
Amnesty International said in a statement issued late yesterday that Jabbari, an interior designer, was due to be executed for the 2007 stabbing of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi.
A UN human rights monitor had said the killing of Sarbandi was an act of self-defence after he tried to sexually assault Jabbari, and that her trial in 2009 had been deeply flawed.
Iranian actors and other prominent figures had appealed for a stay of execution, echoing similar calls in the West. Efforts for clemency had intensified in recent weeks.
Jabbari's mother was allowed to visit her for one hour yesterday, Amnesty said, a custom that tends to precede executions in Iran.
According to the United Nations, more than 250 people have been executed in Iran since the beginning of 2014.
The UN and international rights groups had said Jabbari's confession was obtained under intense pressure and threats from Iranian prosecutors, and she should have had a retrial.
Ahmed Shaheed, the UN's human rights rapporteur on Iran, said in April that Sarbandi had offered to hire Jabbari to redesign his office and took her to an apartment where he sexually abused her.
However, Sarbandi's family insists that the murder was premeditated and that Jabbari had confessed to buying a knife two days before the killing.
According to Jalal Sarbandi, the victim's eldest son, Jabbari testified that a man was present in the apartment where his father was killed "but she refuses to reveal his identity". — AFP
Ottawa, October 25
The grounds of the hilltop gothic building, whose clock tower is a centerpiece of Ottawa's skyline, attracted scores of visitors, many still stunned by Wednesday's attack, which took place as Prime Minister Stephen Harper was meeting with lawmakers.
The attacks on Monday and Wednesday were the work of Canadian citizens, reportedly recent converts to Islam, who appear to have operated independently, the police said.
The first victim, 53-year-old Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, died when a man ran him over with a car in Quebec, while the second, 24-year-old Corporal Nathan Cirillo, was gunned down while standing a ceremonial watch at a monument to Canada's war dead near Parliament Hill.
Police presence was light at the grounds, which had been closed to the public since Wednesday. The Parliament building itself remained closed, but House Speaker Andrew Scheer said it would reopen for tours and visits on Monday. — Reuters
San Francisco, October 25
The change will free Page from having as many direct reports and product units to oversee so that he can better focus on “the bigger picture,” according to the Re/code report, which also cited anonymous sources.
YouTube, Google’s popular video website, will be unaffected by the new structure and will continue to report directly to Page.
The move puts Pichai, 42, in charge of many of Google’s main services, including its core search and advertising units, which generate the bulk of the company’s revenue.
Google, the world’s No. 1 internet search engine, has experienced several high-level management changes this year. Chief business officer Nikesh Arora departed unexpectedly in July to become vice chairman of Japan’s SoftBank and was replaced by longtime Google executive Omid Kordestani. Vic Gundotra, the head of Google’s social networking services, left in April.
Pichai, who has risen rapidly through the ranks since joining Google in 2004, is viewed by many industry insiders as potential CEO material. In addition to his duties overseeing the various products, Pichai will continue to lead Google’s Android and Chrome software operating systems as well as Google’s Apps business.
Born in Chennai, the 42-year old has worked at Applied Materials and McKinsey & Co. An IIT-Kharagpur alumnus, Pichai has also attended the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University. — Agencies
Indian firms leading tech billionaire list
Singapore, October 25 India was represented by three entrepreneurs with combined net worth of USD 40.65 billion while China led with five businessmen with assets worth USD 67.1 billion. Indian representation in the list is expected to grow in value following the recent joining of businessman Niraj Goel's Singapore Innovation League which is investing into technology start-ups, said the source. — PTI
Singapore, October 25
India was represented by three entrepreneurs with combined net worth of USD 40.65 billion while China led with five businessmen with assets worth USD 67.1 billion.
Indian representation in the list is expected to grow in value following the recent joining of businessman Niraj Goel's Singapore Innovation League which is investing into technology start-ups, said the source. — PTI
Paris, October 25
The museum, situated in a 17th-century mansion in the Marais district, houses one of the world's largest collections of Pablo Picasso's work.
The long-awaited reopening took place on October 25, the birthday of the artist who was born in Malaga, Spain, in 1881 but spent most of his adult life in France until his death in 1973.
The renovation of the museum, home to a collection of more than 5,000 paintings, sculptures and prints as well as Picasso's personal archives, was marked by repeated delays, infighting and controversy.
Anne Baldassari, the museum's president for nine years, was fired from her post in May following public squabbling with her staff and France's ex-culture minister Aurelie Filippetti, herself dismissed from the government in August.
Inaugurating the museum on Saturday morning, Hollande said Picasso's modernity and energy should inspire France.
"You don't build anything on nostalgia. Pablo Picasso was a painter of the future, of hope, of conquests, he freed himself from the rules of the past. He was avant-garde. France is an avant-garde country," he said.
The renovation, which cost about 52 million euros ($66 million), has tripled the size of the exhibition space over five floors, making it more accessible to what is expected to be up to one million visitors per year. — Reuters
Washington Obama reviews ISIS strategy:
US President Barack Obama has reviewed his administration's strategy against the Islamic State with his national security team, during which he discussed the status of comprehensive campaign to counter the feared militant group in Iraq and Syria.
Obama reviews ISIS strategy: US President Barack Obama has reviewed his administration's strategy against the Islamic State with his national security team, during which he discussed the status of comprehensive campaign to counter the feared militant group in Iraq and Syria. pTI