National emblem of Afghanistan. Photo: CollectedAfghanistan’s legislative elections will be held on 20 October, officials said Sunday, following three years of delays as the war-torn country grapples with a resurgent Taliban and political instability.The polls were originally set to be held in 2015 following presidential elections the previous year, but were repeatedly pushed back due to security fears and logistical issues within the fragile unity government.If held, candidates will contest the 249 seats in the National Assembly for five-year terms. The country will also hold regional elections in tandem in some 400 districts across Afghanistan — several of which are outside of Kabul’s control.”Holding elections is not an easy job in Afghanistan,” said Abdul Badi Sayad, Afghanistan’s election commission chief, adding that voters will be able to apply for registration cards in mid-April before candidates formally declare.The polls come just months ahead of the presidential elections scheduled for April 2019.However, western diplomats continue to express doubt over the government’s ability to oversee the project amid heightened security threats countrywide.Following the announcement, the United Nations lauded the commission’s move, but called for the inclusion of all Afghans in the process.”The participation of all Afghans in the electoral process, not merely the elections themselves, is critical,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan.Questions continue to linger over how polling will be held in contested areas and if Afghans lacking identity cards and those displaced by conflict will be eligible to vote.Taliban and Islamic State militants have been ramping up attacks in Kabul in recent months, piling pressure on the Afghan government, which is frequently scolded for its inability to protect civilians.The Taliban has been resurgent since the withdrawal of US-led NATO combat troops in late 2014, seizing chunks of territory and blistering Afghanistan’s beleaguered security forces.Last month, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani extended an olive branch to the Taliban, suggesting that if they are prepared to negotiate they could be recognised as a political party with a legitimate role in Afghanistan’s future.The group replied with a muted response and has continued to launch attacks across the country.In October, insurgents controlled or influenced nearly half of Afghanistan’s districts — double the percentage in 2015, the US government’s office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said in January.Over the same period, the watchdog said, the number of districts under Afghan government control or influence fell to its lowest level since December 2015.
AP Photo/Ron EdmondsPresident Donald Trump on Wednesday announced his pick for FBI director — a former Justice Department official who served as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s personal lawyer during the George Washington Bridge lane-closing investigation.Trump’s early morning two-sentence tweet that he intends to nominate lawyer Christopher Wray came one day before the FBI director that Trump fired last month, James Comey, was to testify in public on Capitol Hill for the first time since his dismissal.Trump called Wray “a man of impeccable credentials” and offered no more information about the selection, ending the tweet by saying, “Details to follow.”Wray served in a leadership role in the George W. Bush Justice Department, rising to head the criminal division and overseeing investigations into corporate fraud, during the time when Comey was deputy attorney general. Wray took charge of a task force of prosecutors and FBI agents created to investigate the Enron scandal.With a strong law enforcement background, Wray is a traditional choice for the job. Trump had entertained current and former politicians for the role, including former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman. Though favored by Trump, Lieberman would have faced a challenging confirmation process; he pulled his name from consideration.Comey, during his appearance before the Senate intelligence committee, is expected to describe his encounters with Trump in the weeks before his firing May 9. Comey could offer new details regarding discussions with Trump about the federal investigation into Russia’s election meddling and possible coordination with the Trump campaign.Associated PressThe White House and its allies have been looking for ways to offset that potentially damaging testimony and have been working on strategies aimed at undermining Comey’s credibility.Wray works in private practice for the King & Spalding law firm. He represented Republican Christie in the lane-closing investigation, in which two former Christie aides were convicted of plotting to close bridge lanes to punish a Democratic mayor who wouldn’t endorse Christie.Christie and Wray met when Christie was the top federal prosecutor in New Jersey in the Bush administration. Christie said at a news conference last week that he worked together with Wray “a lot.”“I have the utmost confidence in Chris. He’s an outstanding lawyer. He has absolute integrity and honesty, and I think that the president certainly would not be making a mistake if he asked Chris Wray to be FBI director,” Christie said.Christie, who has informally advised Trump, was not charged in the bridge case.One of the questions hanging over Christie was about a dozen text messages he exchanged with a former staffer during legislative testimony by officials from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which manages the bridge, in 2013.It’s not known what was in those messages and a judge rejected defense attorneys’ attempt to subpoena the phone last summer. After that ruling, Christie’s office revealed that Wray had the phone.Christie had previously said he “gave it to the government” a while earlier, but the U.S. attorney’s office said it never had the phone.The law firm that Christie’s administration hired to review the scandal said it “returned” the phone after reviewing its contents in response to a government subpoena. Share
Imagine Sipping a Cosmopolitan sitting inside the school library. Or having a pizza in the laboratory. Well, if school spells fun for you and if you are one of those adults who still fantasise about school, heading to Cafe Ludus might just hit the rewind button for you. While concept cafes and restaurants are an age-old concept, this one, with its cafeterias and libraries (complete with shelves and old radios and magazines on hangers) and an open terrace was actually quite interesting. Adding to the quirky factor is the menu card. Every page has some doodle or food-related graphic, making ‘visual’ that much more interesting. However, Cafe Ludus needs to work on the lighting — it is quite dim in most places. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’They have a separate section for an ‘all-day breakfast’, may be for PLUs who combine a lot of meals together and still want to ‘have breakfast’. Hmmmm, now that’s a thought. The cuisine is mostly comfort and cafe style. So you have your usual pizzas and pastas, paninis and risottos. A lot of the dishes have been given Greek names to go with the concept. However, ordering will not be a tall task because the menu clearly specifies what each dish is made of. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixThe food here is good. I liked most dishes that I ordered so I will suggest that you can take your pick according to your preferences when you visit. The portions are good and can be shared by 2-3 people. The lack of an alcohol license is a spoiler but that should be in place soon. Till then, enjoy the mocktails. Hey pssst! Do visit the washroom before you leave, even if you don’t need to.DETAILAt: Cafe Ludus, 24 & 25, 2nd Floor, MGF Metropolitian Mall, SaketTimings: Noon to 1 amPhone: 9599426426 Meal for Two: Rs 1,800 approx
Kolkata: Political clashes continue across Bengal even after three days since the results of Lok Sabha Elections 2019 were announced. In several districts, Trinamool workers and supporters were allegedly attacked by BJP workers. In some cases, BJP alleged that Trinamool workers had attacked them instead. Leaders of both the parties have denied the allegations.On Saturday evening, state Forest minister Binoy Krishna Barman was allegedly attacked by some BJP workers while he was holding a meeting in Mathabhanga. According to Barman, he was holding a review meeting at Solmari under Mathabhanga block 2, when a huge mob gathered near the place. After a few minutes, the mob started pelting stones and bricks at the Trinamool party office. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataBarman subsequently called up the police. Upon receiving the information, forces from Ghokshadanga police station reached the spot and tried to create a safe passage for the minister. When he was leaving the place on his car, BJP workers allegedly blocked his way and vandalised the vehicle. Later, police managed to control the situation and arranged for Barman’s safe passage. On the other hand, North Bengal Development minister Rabindranath Ghosh was obstructed while he was coming back from Dinhata after meeting his party workers who were reportedly attacked in a political clash. BJP workers reportedly agitated in the middle of the road, via which Ghosh was returning. On Sunday in Tufangunj, few BJP supporters allegedly attacked some Trinamool supporter’s houses and stabbed some of them. Several Trinamool workers and their family members got injured. BJP has denied the allegations. Also Read – Lightning kills 8, injures 16 in stateIn South Bengal, a Trinamool party office was allegedly set on fire by BJP workers at Ghatal in West Midnapore on Saturday night. According to Trinamool leadership, after the election results were declared, BJP workers have been continuously attacking their workers and supporters. On Saturday night, at Madhusudan Bad area in Ghatal, a party office was reportedly set on fire. It has been alleged that after the election results it was found that BJP candidate in Ghatal Bharati Ghosh had got lead from the area. Following that, BJP workers became violent and several houses of Trinamool workers were also vandalised. In Burdwan, a Trinamool polling agent identified as Sanat Kumar Goal was attacked on the middle of the road on Sunday night, while he was returning home. On Saturday night, when he was going home, some BJP workers allegedly attacked him near Tinkonia. A shop owned by him was also vandalised. In each incident, Trinamool alleged that BJP is doing all this to create terror in the areas. Several complaints have been lodged against BJP workers in this regard, but BJP leadership has denied the allegations and stated that Trinamool is behind the incidents.
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