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Pakistan interior minister Ahsan Iqbal shot in suspected assassination attempt



Pakistan’s interior minister has been shot in a suspected assassination attempt ahead of nationwide elections due this year.

Ahsan Iqbal is undergoing surgery in Lahore and expected to survive.

The suspect, who police said was named Abid and is believed to be in his early 20s, shot Mr Iqbal at close range. He has been arrested.

The politician was hit in his right arm as he was preparing to leave a public meeting in Punjab province, according to police.

“The attacker was about to fire a second shot when police and people in the meeting overpowered him,” said Malik Ahmed Khan, a spokesman for the Punjab government.

Mr Iqbal “was targeted”, his aide Asim Khan told AFP.

Video footage of his arrival released by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) showed him being lifted from a helicopter on a stretcher, his eyes open as he responded to questions.

“He’s stable…he’s ok,” said a hospital official.

The shooting in Mr Iqbal’s constituency of Narowal district comes as Pakistan prepares up for its second ever democratic transition, with federal polls widely expected this summer.

PML-N politician Maiza Hameed told Pakistan’s Geo News that the shooting was an attempt to “weaken democracy” ahead of the upcoming elections.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, along with opposition leaders Imran Khan and Bilawal Bhutto and the powerful army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, have all condemned the attack.

Mr Iqbal, who was touted as a potential prime minister when Nawaz Sharif was ousted last July, was educated in the US and is from a political family long associated with the PML-N.

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China gold mine blast: Trapped workers must wait another two weeks for rescue | World News



Rescuers trying to free a group of miners trapped hundreds of metres underground have said it may take another 15 days to drill and clear a route wide enough to reach them.

They are desperately trying to bring the workers back to the surface following an explosion at the Hushan gold mine in Qixia, Shandong province, in eastern China on 10 January.

A total of 22 miners became trapped after the blast blocked the mine entrance.

Medical workers in white protective suits are also on site
Medical workers in white protective suits are also on site as part of coronavirus measures

One is confirmed to have died from head injuries. Eleven are known to be alive and rescuers have made contact with 10 of them, while one is said to be in a nearby chamber. The remaining 10 are missing.

Holes have been drilled and used to pass food, medicine and other supplies to the group while they wait.

Rescuers are now drilling a new wider shaft to reach the 10 men in the middle section of the mine – more than 600m from the entrance – which they hope to use to bring the survivors to safety.

The mine shaft is blocked 350m below the surface by 70 tonnes of debris that extends down another 100m, the Yantai city government said in a statement on its social media account.

Other shafts are being drilled for communication and ventilation – to expel deadly fumes.

Rescuers work at the Hushan gold mine in Qixia, Shandong province, China, where a group of miners remain trapped underground
Rescuers say it may take another 15 days to reach the group of miners who remain trapped hundreds of metres underground

About 600 people are involved in the rescue, with as many as 25 ambulances waiting at the scene, as well as neurosurgeons, trauma specialists and psychologists.

Medical workers in white protective suits are also on site and have been taking people’s temperatures as part of COVID-19 precautions.

Mine managers have been detained for waiting more than 24 hours before reporting the incident, the cause of which is still not known.

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Google threatens to block search engine in Australia if forced to pay for news | Science & Tech News



Google has threatened to block its search engine in Australia if it is forced to pay media outlets for their news content.

Both Google and social media giant Facebook – which also opposes the rules and has threatened to remove news from its feed for Australian users – are fighting government plans for a new digital news code.

It would make tech giants negotiate payments with local publishers and broadcasters, and a government-appointed arbitrator would decide the price if they fail to strike a deal.

Facebook also opposes the new digital news code in Australia

“Coupled with the unmanageable financial and operational risk if this version of the code were to become law, it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia,” Mel Silva, the company’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand, told a Senate inquiry into the bill.

“And that would be a bad outcome not only for us, but also for the Australian people, media diversity, and the small businesses who use our products every day.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison immediately hit back, saying “we don’t respond to threats”.

Ms Silva said the company was willing to pay a wide and diverse group of news publishers for the value they added, but not under the rules currently proposed, which includes payments for links and snippets.

She suggested a series of tweaks to the bill, adding: “We feel there is a workable path forward.”

Simon Milner, a Facebook vice president, said the sheer volume of deals it would have to strike would be unworkable.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has dismissed Google’s threat

Google dominates internet searches in Australia, with Ms Silva telling senators about 95% are done through the company.

Mr Morrison told reporters in Brisbane: “Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia.

“That’s done in our parliament. It’s done by our government. And that’s how things work here in Australia.”

He added: “People who want to work with that in Australia, you’re very welcome. But we don’t respond to threats.”

Australia announced the legislation last month after an investigation found Google and Facebook held too much market power in the media industry, a situation it said posed a potential threat to a well-functioning democracy.

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Facebook and Alphabet, the parent company of Google, are among the most prominent American technology companies.

The US government this week asked Australia to scrap the proposed laws, and suggested it should pursue a voluntary code instead.

But The Australia Institute, an independent think tank, said politicians should stand firm against the tech giants.

“Google’s testimony today is part of a pattern of threatening behaviour that is chilling for anyone who values our democracy,” said Peter Lewis, the director of the institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology.

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Julie Payette: Queen’s representative in Canada quits amid claims she bullied staff to tears | World News



Canada’s governor general – the Queen’s representative – has resigned amid allegations she presided over a toxic work environment in which staff were bullied to tears.

Julie Payette quit just hours after senior officials received the findings of an independent inquiry into reports of verbal abuse and bullying by the 57-year-old.

It followed a report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in which dozens of anonymous staff claimed Ms Payette threw “tantrums in the office and on foreign trips, berated staff to the point of tears and called one employee’s work ‘s***'”.

Canada's Governor General Julie Payette
Canada’s Governor General Julie Payette has resigned amid claims she bullied staff

One told CBC that Rideau Hall – the residence and workplace of the governor general – had become a “house of horrors” under Ms Payette’s leadership, causing long-time staff to leave in droves.

“I have come to the conclusion that a new governor general should be appointed. Canadians deserve stability in these uncertain times,” Ms Payette said in a statement announcing her departure, adding she was sorry for tensions that had arisen with staff.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – who picked her for the role in October 2017 for a five-year term – said the workplace concerns raised by staff during the review would be addressed.

He notably did not thank her – having described her last year when the probe was launched as “an excellent governor general”.

Ms Payette was formerly the country’s chief astronaut and the first Canadian to serve on the International Space Station.

Potential candidates for governor general are supposed to be vetted by a special committee, a step Mr Trudeau chose to ignore when he recommended Ms Payette for the job.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been criticised over Ms Payette’s initial appointment to the post

“The colossal failure of Ms Payette’s term falls squarely on his shoulders,” said Don Davies, a member of parliament for the opposition New Democratic Party.

Richard Wagner, chief justice of the Supreme Court, will temporarily take over Ms Payette’s duties until she is replaced.

The governor general – the representative of the country’s head of state, Queen Elizabeth II – has a largely ceremonial job such as swearing in governments and formally signing legislation, but can on rare occasions be asked to settle constitutional questions.

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