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Afghanistan: Taliban commence paying of salaries to government employees

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Afghanistan: Taliban commence paying of salaries to government employees
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Afghanistan: Taliban commence paying of salaries to government employees

Afghanistan’s Taliban authorities said Saturday they had begun paying government employees who had not received a paycheck since the Islamists seized power and triggered a major financial crisis.

Most government employees have yet to return to work and many had not been paid for months even before the Taliban captured power, especially rural workers.

“We are going to start paying salaries from today. We will pay three months’ salaries,” Ahmad Wali Haqmal, spokesman for the finance ministry said at a press conference.

Haqmal said salaries will be paid for the period starting August 23, adding that some government employees will be paid even for the month before the Taliban took power.

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The payment will be made through the country’s banking system which Haqmal said had not been “paralysed” since the fall of the previous government.

“It just needs time to operate normally,” he said.

The government employees will still be unable to access their full salaries.

Since August, Afghanistan’s banking sector has collapsed, and those with money in the bank have struggled to access their funds as branches curtailed withdrawals to $200 to $400 a week.

Afghanistan: Taliban commence paying of salaries to government employees

The financial crunch was aggravated after Washington froze about $10 billion of assets held in its reserve for Kabul and deteriorated further after the World Bank and International Monetary Fund halted Afghanistan’s access to funding.

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Foreign donors led by the United States provided more than 75 per cent of the public expenditure under Afghanistan’s previous 20-year Washington-backed government.

The rapidly worsening situation has forced Afghans to sell their household goods to raise money for food and other essentials with the local currency crashing and prices skyrocketing.

Meraj Mohammad Meraj, the spokesman for the government’s revenue department, said the authorities were in a position to pay salaries after earning revenues of 26 billion Afghanis (around $277 million) in the past two and half months.

“Only 20 to 25 per cent of the economy was operational… Not all sectors are currently operational,” Meraj said at the press conference.

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He added that the authorities will introduce a new Islamic tax to fund aid projects for poor people and orphans.

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Anti-Lockdown Riots Erupt In Belgium As Protests Sweep Across Europe (Pix, Video)

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Anti-Lockdown Riots Erupt In Belgium As Protests Sweep Across Europe

STREETS OF RAGE : Anti-lockdown riot erupts in Belgium as protests sweep Europe amid Covid Xmas fears – with 2.5million cases in one week

Six people were hospitalised including two police officers while 20 were arrested after protests broke out in Brussels.

Cops in Brussels used water cannons and tear gas as 8,000 people descended on the capital in protest at new restrictions introduced on Friday.

Crowds were heard chanting “Freedom! Freedom!” and held placards which read “everyday fascism” emblazoned with yellow stars as they marched towards to EU’s headquarters.

The demonstration turned violent when 100 rioters threw rubbish and other objects, including a bicycle, beer cans, and fire crackers, at police.

The intense public backlash comes after the government tightened restrictions for a third week in a row – forcing kids as young as six to wear face masks and ordering schools to shut a week early.

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Belgium – with a population of 11 million – registered a weekly average of 17,862 new daily cases this week: a six per cent rise from last week, with hospital admissions also up four per cent.

Some 800 people are in hospital with severe forms of Covid while 44 people have died in the past seven days.

Protests have also kicked off across European capitals this weekend as the virus returns with a vengeance ahead of Christmas.

More than 2.5million cases have been recorded in the past week alone across Europe – with major surges in France, The Netherlands, Italy, Austria and Germany.

New restrictions are being rolled out across the continent with measures such as heavy fines, mandatory vaccinations and full lockdowns for the unvaccinated.

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And it comes as the new Omicron variant looms over the continent, despite WHO saying as of yet no one has died from the “super mutant” strain.

Governments are scrambling to try and control the Covid winter surge which appears to be have dealt a hammer blow to hopes of a normal Christmas.

Pictures from the last few days show large anti-lockdown marches in Austria, Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Italy.

Austrian authorities have imposed lockdown on the unvaccinated and warned anyone who refuses to comply with jab status checks could be fined over £1,000.

Thousands marched through Vienna against the new measures designed to save lives and protect hospitals from being overwhelmed.

Austria was the first domino to fall in imposing new measures in Europe as it saw record case loads at the end of November of over 15,000 each day.

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Figures have now dropped to around 7,000 amid the new restrictions.

And meanwhile in Dutch town of Utrecht there was another several thousand strong march to rage against new restrictions.

It is the first major march in the Netherlands against the measures which include new closures of restaurants and bars.

Protests also erupted in Barcelona, Spain, as marchers spoke out against new Covid certificates required to enter bars, restaurants, gyms and care homes.

Germany also saw protests of people waving “we the people” banners in Frankfurt over their new restrictions – a crackdown on the unvaccinated.

And then in Italy, protesters hit the streets in Turin to speak out against the country’s new coronavirus health pass.

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US Teenager Who Shot 4 Students Dead Set To Be Charged As An Adult

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US Teenager Who Shot 4 Students Dead Set To Be Charged As An Adult
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US Teenager Who Shot 4 Students Dead Set To Be Charged As An Adult

The suspect in a Michigan school shooting will face charges of terrorism and first-degree murder following a rampage that left four students dead and seven injured.

Prosecutors on Wednesday charged Oxford High School student Ethan Crumbley, 15, as an adult.

He has pleaded not guilty. Police are yet to identify a motive in the attack.

The victims were named as Tate Myre, 16, Madisyn Baldwin, 17, Hana St Juliana, 14, and Justin Shilling, 17.

Announcing the charges on Wednesday, Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said her office had “a mountain of digital evidence” to show the suspect had planned the attack “well before the incident”.

One such instance is a video of the suspect the night before the shooting, in which he discusses killing students.

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“This isn’t even a close call,” she said. “This was not an impulsive act.”

She added that it was “absolutely premeditated”.

Ms McDonald said the teen will face one count of terrorism, four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder, and 12 counts of possession of a firearm, with further charges likely as the investigation unfolds.

At a later news conference, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said charging the suspect as an adult was “the most appropriate” action.

“I agree with holding this individual wholly and completely responsible for the deplorable, tragic event that occurred by his choice,” he said.

The suspect will be transferred from a juvenile detention centre to the local county jail, where he will be held without bond.

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The teenager has refused to speak with investigators on the instructions of his family.

The sheriff stressed that the teenager had never been on the radar of law enforcement or the school. He also added there was no evidence the suspect had been bullied by his peers.

“There is nothing that he could have faced that would warrant senseless, absolutely brutal violence on other kids,” said Mr Bouchard.

US Teenager Who Shot 4 Students Dead Set To Be Charged As An Adult

He noted that the suspect’s parents had been called to the school hours before the shooting “for behaviour in the classroom that was concerning”.

Investigators have found the suspect loaded his firearm – purchased by his father on Friday – in the bathroom and then walked through the hallway firing more than 30 shots from the weapon.

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Mr Bouchard said the suspect appeared to fire indiscriminately during the attack at the school of around 1,700 students.

Tate Myre reportedly tried to disarm the shooter, and more than 75,000 people have signed a petition calling for the school to rename its football stadium after Tate.

The 16-year-old, who played on the football team, died in a police officer’s car on the way to hospital.

Madisyn and Hana also died on Tuesday, while Justin was confirmed dead on Wednesday.

Among those admitted to hospital, a 17-year-old female student remains in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the chest.

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UK Puts Nigeria On Red Lists, Over Increase in Covid19 Omicron Variant

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UK Puts Nigeria On Red Lists, Over Increase in Covid19 Omicron Variant
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UK Puts Nigeria On Red Lists, Over Increase in Covid19 Omicron Variant

The UK Government has said Nigeria will be added to the countries on its red list.

This is due to the discovery of COVID-19 Omicron cases linked to Nigeria.

The decision was announced in a tweet by the UK on Saturday.

According to the new protocol, non-UK and non-Irish citizens who are travelling in from Nigeria will not be allowed entry into the UK.

Although the ban is described as temporary, the UK said the new protocol does not apply to persons “staying airside and only transiting through”.

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Details to follow..

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