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40 Taliban members killed by US-backed forces | World News

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Two senior Taliban leaders and at least 38 fighters have been killed by US-backed Afghan forces. 

The strikes were carried out in northern and western regions of Afghanistan on Saturday night.

A senior security official in the capital Kabul said the attack was intended to foil action planned by the Taliban on Afghan forces.

Clashes between the two sides have escalated following the breakdown of diplomatic talks planned between the group and America earlier this month.

The Taliban’s designate governor for northern Samangan province, Mawlavi Nooruddin, was killed in Dara-e-Soof Payeen district, according to the defence ministry.

This was rejected by the Taliban, with spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid saying: “He is alive.”

A statement from an Afghanistan official, Mohibullah Mohib, that Mullah Sayed Azim, a Taliban designate governor for Anar Dara district in western Farah, was also killed was not commented on by the group.

Elections are to be held in Afghanistan on 28 September, prompting senior security officials in Kabul to reveal a number of joint operations are being launched against Taliban and Islamic State fighters to prevent attacks.

Officials say 100,000 members of the security forces have been readied for polling day.

Violence has escalated in the region after US President Donald Trump cancelled plans to meet with leaders of the Taliban earlier this month in America just days before the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

He made the announcement after the Taliban said they were behind an attack which killed a US soldier and several others.

On Thursday, a Taliban suicide car bomber killed four Afghan special forces troops on the outskirts of Kabul.

More than 2,400 American troops have been killed since the US invaded Afghanistan to go after the Taliban, who were harbouring al Qaeda leaders responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

About 13,000 troops still remain in Afghanistan, and cancelling the talks appears to go against Mr Trump’s pledge to withdraw them and end US involvement in the country.

Meanwhile, the Taliban has revoked its ban on the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Afghanistan.

The group gave a guarantee of security for the emergency crisis group’s staff doing humanitarian work in areas under their control.

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Coronavirus: Restaurants and cafes reopen in Israel under strict rules | World News

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Boris Johnson has said he is “optimistic” about pubs and restaurants reopening in the UK soon, but how easy will it be?

“I’m much more optimistic about that than I was.” the prime minister told MPs on Wednesday.

“We may be able to do things faster than I had previously thought.”

This week, Israel began reopening its hospitality sector
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Businesses have been told they can expand onto pavements in order to create distance between customers

Countries are moving at different speeds, with their lockdown reductions dependent largely on the success they have had at containing the coronavirus.

Israel is one of a small number of nations which is now pushing ahead quickly with the reopening of society.

This week, the hospitality sector was allowed to reopen with businesses and customers being asked to stick to a set of rules.

But a couple of hours at one west Jerusalem cafe and the sense I get is that it is going to be extremely challenging.

So what are the rules?

The details will differ from country to country, but broadly they centre around extra hygiene and social distancing.

Restaurants have reopened with extra measures in place
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Restaurants have reopened with extra measures in place

The Israeli government has issued guidelines for businesses which say:

  • Establishments with capacity of 100 or less can operate at 100%
  • Those with capacity of over 100 people must operate at 85%
  • A distance of 1.5m must be placed between tables
  • Tables and chairs must be fully disinfected between customers
  • Tables must only be set after customers are seated
  • Menus must be disposable
  • Salt, pepper and other condiments must be disinfected after each sitting
  • Antibacterial gel must be readily available
  • All food on display must be covered
  • Customer temperatures must be taken before they enter premises
  • A staff member in every restaurant must be assigned as being responsible for monitoring that regulations are followed

The reality seems to be a little different though.

Customers tend to bunch up subconsciously, waitresses’ masks slip down from their noses, and some people unintentionally walk past the waiter with the thermometer. It’s all a bit chaotic, naturally.

And this is all at a cafe, which is, on the face of it, taking the regulations seriously.

The owner was armed with a tape measure and had been diligently spacing out the tables to meet the required 1.5m (almost 5ft) distance.

The Israeli government and local authorities are acutely aware of how important it is to get the economy moving again, but balancing that against the regulations is hard.

The authorities here have given restaurants permission to spread out along pavements and even into parking bays, allowing them to seat more people at a safe distance. The weather in Israel is on their side.

A distance of 1.5m must be placed between tables
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A distance of 1.5m must be placed between tables

In Tel Aviv, 115 bars, restaurants and cafes have been given the go-ahead to expand into public space around their premises.

The city’s mayor, Ron Huldai, said: “We will continue to fight for the 70,000 workers from the restaurants, bars, cafes, and clubs sector in Tel Aviv.

“These businesses are the beating heart of the urban economy and I have instructed the municipal executives to turn every stone to find ways to put them again on their feet.”

After a couple of hours at the Jerusalem cafe, on just day two of their reopening, it looks to me like the drive to return to normal is overwhelming the necessity to adapt our behaviour.

Whether it is retail, hospitality or travel, as we try to return to normal, or at least an “adapted normal”, the requirements seem to go against all our natural pre-corona instincts.

Nowhere is this clearer than in the social environment of a restaurant or pub.

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I guess it comes down to a risk assessment, accepting that infection rates will probably go up again, but must be controlled as much as possible by testing, tracing and social distancing.

We need to do everything we can to stick to the rules – a sort of global social contract to return our societies to normal.

It is a learning curve as we all adapt; but adapt we must, or the infection curve will steepen sharply once again.

Next week from Monday to Thursday, Dermot Murnaghan will be hosting After the Pandemic: Our New World — a series of special live programmes about what our world will be like once the pandemic is over.

We’ll be joined by some of the biggest names from the worlds of culture, politics, economics, science and technology. And you can take part too. If you’d like to be in our virtual audience – from your own home – and put questions to the experts, email afterthepandemic@sky.uk

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German police investigate discovery of ape’s hand and foot in forest | World News

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German police are investigating the grisly discovery of an ape’s severed hand and foot in a forest west of Munich.

The cleanly-detached body parts – complete with skin, hair, and nails – were found by a forester’s dog around a week ago near the Bavarian town of Grafrath.

One police tip suggested the finding was evidence that the government was carrying out coronavirus experiments on monkeys.

But after examination of the foot and hand, which appear to come from a chimpanzee, experts concluded that the body parts had been preserved with formaldehyde or another chemical used to keep scientific specimens.

“This makes it possible that the parts are significantly older than initially thought,” Michael Fischer, a police spokesman in nearby Fuerstenfeldbruck, told dpa news agency.

“The good news is that nobody has to worry that an ape was slaughtered in Fuerstenfeldbruck last week.”

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Officers are still trying to figure out how a chimpanzee’s parts ended up in a German forest, but say it seems likely it is at most an administrative offence rather than a crime.

In German law, an administrative offence does not reach the punishable unlawful content of a criminal offence but typically results in a fine.

“It could already be past the statute of limitations,” Mr Fischer added.

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Nissan puts focus on UK plant but sparks anger with Spain closure | Business News

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Nissan’s decision to centre European production at its UK plant in Sunderland and close its Barcelona factory has sparked angry protests by workers in Spain.

Employees of the Japanese carmaker set fire to tyres outside the Catalonia site, which is to close – threatening the loss of 3,000 jobs.

The company is also to shut its factory in Indonesia.

Workers are seen on the production line at Nissan's car plant in Sunderland
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Nissan says Sunderland remains an important part of its plans for the European business

The announcement came as Nissan said it had sunk into the red for the first time since the financial crash, following four years of tumbling profits.

The firm plans to become smaller and more cost-efficient, building 20% fewer vehicles worldwide, after the coronavirus pandemic sent demand plunging.

A Nissan spokesman said: “Europe will remain an important part of Nissan’s global business.

“We have more than three decades of history in Europe, where Nissan created the crossover segment and took the lead in the roll-out of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure.

“As the new Nissan mid-term plan explains, the company will be focusing on core models and technologies, which in Europe is our range of crossovers and electrified technologies.

“Sunderland remains an important part of our plans for the European business.

“The new Juke was recently launched, and the plant is now preparing for the arrival of the new Qashqai.”

The move to overhaul the global business came as Nissan posted an annual operating loss of 40.5bn yen (£307m) for the year to 31 March, its worst performance since 2008/09.

Over that period, it sold 4.8 million vehicles, the second decline in a row and a fall of 13% from last year.

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The survival plan follows a new strategy announced by Nissan and its partners Renault and Mitsubishi Motors to work more closely on developing and producing cars to reduce costs and keep the businesses viable.

Even before the spread of the coronavirus, Nissan’s slumping profits had forced it to rein in an aggressive expansion plan pursued by ousted leader Carlos Ghosn.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only ramped up the pressure to downsize.

Next week from Monday to Thursday, Dermot Murnaghan will be hosting After the Pandemic: Our New World – a series of special live programmes about what our world will be like once the pandemic is over.

We’ll be joined by some of the biggest names from the worlds of culture, politics, economics, science and technology. And you can take part too. If you’d like to be in our virtual audience – from your own home – and put questions to the experts, email afterthepandemic@sky.uk

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