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Formula 1 Champion Niki Lauda Loses the Race of Life at 70

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Formula 1 Champion Niki Lauda Loses the Race of Life at 70

Renowned Formula 1 world champion Niki Lauda, who spent his life running cars in speed, lost the race of life, on Monday. The racer survived 9 months after a lung transplant in August, and “passed away peacefully” at the age of 70, as confirmed by his family.

Born in Vienna in February 1949, the legendary Austrian was a motor racing legend. His most remarkable time goes back to when he took the title for Ferrari in 1975 and 1977, and for McLaren in 1984.

Ferrari’s Formula 1 team said he would “remain forever in our hearts”.

People also remember Niki Lauda as the man who cheated death. A year after winning his first title, he suffered three-degree burns to his head and faced after a crash in the German Grand Prix on August 1, 1976. Inhaling the toxic gases after his vehicle burst into flames at Nurburgring, the motor racer damaged his lungs.

His recovery from after the accident was miraculous, as the doctors had given him the last rites in hospital. Being the legend and a passionate racer, he returned to racing in just 40 days, still bandaged covering the burns on his face.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said, “We haven’t just lost a hero who staged the most remarkable comeback ever seen, but also a man who brought precious clarity and candour to modern Formula 1.”

Niki Lauda became known to the new generation of fans in the acclaimed 2013 film Rush, which set forth his rivalry with British driver James Hunt, the 1976 world champion.

After a legendary journey in motor racing and retirement, he became a successful entrepreneur in the business of airlines. Most recently, he became a non-executive chairman for the Formula 1 Mercedes team.

Mercedes stated that the passing of their “irreplaceable” chairman “leaves a void in Formula 1”.

His family’s statement stated, “His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and will remain unforgettable, his tireless zest for action, his straight forwardness and his courage remain a role model and a benchmark for all of us.”

His ill health followed him into his years later, where he spent several years fighting for life. Niki Lauda leaves behind his wife, their twins born in 2009, and three sons from his previous relationships.

The legend will forever be remembered by numerous people of mixed generations for his racing skills both on track and in life.

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Davos 2020: Greta, Trump Open Debate of Economy and Sustainability

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Davos 2020: Greta, Trump Open Debate of Economy and Sustainability

Davos 2020 brings silent rivals, Greta and Trump, together!

Globe’s biggest elite businessmen gathering, the World Economic Forum is back in Davos, Switzerland. The 50th annual meet up in the Swiss Alps convened the honchos of politics and business on January 21, to enlighten the panel on the theme “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World”.

The opening day of Davos 2020 passed under the dominance of cold rivals — the US President Donald Trump and the climate activist Greta Thunberg. The teenage activist gave a grim message stating that everybody is talking about climate change, but no one is taking any action.

However, President Trump attacked her climate crisis warnings, stating that the world should stop listening to “prophets of doom”. Like never before, the two didn’t meet face-to-face at the WEF too, leaving the global business leaders in a dilemma about who they were referring to.

The annual gathering was largely seen as a billionaires’ stadium, where the rich debated. However, Greta Thunberg’s appearance on the first day of Davos 2020 signalled relevance of global warming in business circles, but only few leaders from the chiefly responsible industries were present at the panel.

Although corporate executives boast of their increasing concerns about the environment, Thunberg stated that none of it is enough. “The climate and environment is a hot topic right now, thanks to young people pushing,” the 17-year-old said at the Swiss ski resort on Tuesday. “Pretty much nothing has been done, since the global emissions of CO2 have not reduced.”

Politicians from the left, the right and the centre, all have failed in striving sustainability, she said. “No political ideology or economic structure has managed to tackle the climate and environmental emergency and create a cohesive and sustainable world.”

The Swedish environmental activist also mocked the US President’s claim that his concern for environment could be seen as he supported the initiative of planting 1tn trees. “Planting trees is good, of course, but it’s nowhere near enough, and it cannot replace real mitigation and re-wilding nature. We don’t need to lower emissions. Emissions need to stop,” she argued.

Greta Thunberg’s alarming words at Davos 2020 shouted of the climate crisis and demanded immediate resolutions. “We don’t want it done in 2050, 2030, or even 2021, we want it done now,” she stated.

However, Donald Trump said that it is “a time for optimism” and “not a time for pessimism”. As Greta watched from the audience, Trump continued, “We must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse. They are the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune tellers.”

The Greta-Trump visible and unspoken clash first came to light, when the teenage activist was filmed staring furiously at Trump in September 2019 at the United Nations.

Besides, shortly after Greta was named person of the year by Time magazine in December, Trump tweeted, “Greta must work on her anger management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!”

In response, the Swedish activist changed her Twitter biography to, “A teenager working on her anger management problem.”

While Davos 2020 saw steaming debates over climate issue on the very first day, a lot is due to come on the three-day annual gathering. After Greta, hundreds of other climate activists are due to arrive on foot at the ski resort. The activists, who “are tired of empty promises”, will reportedly stage a demonstration calling for the end of the World Economic Forum.

It’s another year of the businessmen and politicians get together, where the debates and networking is the key agenda of the leaders. The President of world’s one of the most influential countries, Trump was seen boasting of America’s growth record.

On its 50th anniversary, Davos certainly is expected to see a transformation, where the youth fighting for climate will be launching endless questions at the leaders.

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Qatar’s migrant labor issues do not appear changing anytime soon

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Qatar’s migrant labor issues not ending sooner

Qatar, on January 16, removed exit restrictions for mostly all migrant workers in a move to avoid exploitation upbraid before the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Earlier migrants, majorly from India, Nepal and the Philippines, sought exit permit from their employers before leaving Qatar, which was largely seen as a right abuse.

The new reform has been hailed by the expatriate population in Qatar as they believe it is a significant step towards abolishing the infamous Kafala System in the country.

The Gulf nation is expecting a major boost in its economy and infrastructure during the 2022 FIFA World Cup, hence the authorities are going all out to create a modern setup that protects expats working across different sectors.

Previously, Qatar exempted a number of foreign migrant workers, falling under specific categories, from exit visas. The country’s working-class population, including domestic workers, the oil and gas sector, agriculture sector, government and public institution staff, and personnel employed at sea were not entitled to the reform.

However, the obligation to obtain exit permit is applicable to members of the armed forces, and for a handful of workers holding higher position in companies.

Under the new policy, Qatar migrant workers are required to inform their employers at least 72 hours prior to leaving the country.

Rothna Begum, women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch said, “Qatar has taken an important step to eliminate a tool of control that employers sometimes used to exploit workers and keep them entrapped in abusive situations.”

According to a government statement, “Employers have the right to identify a maximum of 5% of their workforce whose exit from Qatar will continue to require prior approval.”

The HRW raised a concern that if domestic workers were required to inform employers about their plan to leave might prove problematical for workers trying to escape abusive or exploitative situations.

The government has also listed penalties for foreign domestic workers, such as, imposing a four-year ban on re-entering Qatar and a deprivation of wages, in case they fail to inform their employers before leaving.

Right workers from Amnesty International have expressed dilemma over Qatar’s new reform as the call to relieve the worker of their duties still remains with the employer. The new reform looks promising but is not enough to ensure the welfare of workers as it has other implications that subdue its real impact.

After Qatar‘s announcement to abolish exit permit system, Saudi Arabia remains the only Gulf nation to still enforce the obligation on its migrant workers.

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Avidity of World Leaders for Oil Export Brings Forth Libyan Ceasefire

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Libyan ceasefire

As the situations in Libya grew intense, the world leaders from nearly 11 countries united in Germany, on Sunday, to reach an agreement. Pushing for Libyan ceasefire, while simultaneously enforcing the arms embargo on the warring parties, became a major goal of the meeting.

The Berlin summit became a means to discuss over the increased violence in Libya, a result of the power struggle between the political parties. In addition, Libyan territory and oil became the two major factors that over the time have played an important role in the rival conflicts.

As known, the initial Libyan conflict started with the death of the deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was captured by National Transitional Council forces in 2011 and killed afterwards. The forces claimed that he died from the injuries sustained in a firefight when loyalist forces attempted to free him, but a graphic video of his last moments portrayed a different scenario.

Gaddafi’s death led to a political crisis in Libya, which was followed by the power struggle between the House of Representatives government also known as the Tobruk government, elected in 2014, and the rival General National Congress government based in the capital Tripoli. Even with the influx of foreign arms and fighters, the crisis is yet not resolved.

The government headed by Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj in Tripoli is highly recognized by the UN and backed by Turkey, Qatar and Italy, while the eastern government run by Gen. Khalifa Haftar is recognized by Russia, Egypt, France and the United Arab Emirates. The fact that different countries are supporting different governments has only given way to additional tensions in Libya.

On Friday, several tribal groups loyal to Haftar seized large oil export terminals along Libya’s eastern coast as well as southern oil fields, challenging the Tripoli government. The move reflects the severity of the situations in Libya. It together called upon the need of the world leaders to unite in the Berlin summit, bringing in the negotiations to end the conflict.  

In the four-hour discussion, the world countries consisting of US State Secretary Mike Pompeo, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson argued upon the ways to alleviate the Libyan conflict.

The leaders together decided to respect the arms embargo by strongly controlling it. Ceasing the operations by halting support to the warring side was altogether a step towards bringing in the Libyan ceasefire deal.

Voicing the success of the summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, “We had to succeed in getting all the parties that connected in any way with the Libya conflict to speak with one voice… We achieved this result here.”

Meanwhile, both the disputed Libyan leaders have named five military representatives for committee talks on a permanent cease-fire to be held in Geneva. Though the present agreement did not cite specific punishments for the ones violating the Libyan ceasefire, it would definitely put pressure on the parties to reach a full ceasefire deal.  

Johnson called Libyan crisis a huge “disgrace” at the Berlin Summit. He added that the UK could send peacekeepers if a real ceasefire emerges. He even asked the Russian and Turkish Presidents to stop the practice of backing different governments and instead together support the process of attaining Libyan ceasefire.

Since, oil is one of the major factors in Libya, most of the conflicts have generally arisen through the rivals seizing oil export terminals. In the same manner, lack of oil export is another factor that has bounded the world countries to resolve the ongoing civil war in Libya. Had it not been for the oil exports that could be suppressed due to the ongoing Libyan conflicts, the world countries would have stuck around and carefully watched the entire scenario, rather than actively pushing for the Libyan ceasefire.

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Al-Shabab Claims Deadly Suicide Car Bombing in Somalia

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Al-Shabab Claims Deadly Suicide Car Bombing in Somalia

In a matter of 20 days, the country in East Africa witnessed another attack that took lives of civilians and wounded several others. According to authorities, the suicide car bombing in Somalia wounded 15 others, on Saturday. Local police officer Abdirahman Adan informed that at least four people were killed.

“A speeding suicide car bomb rammed into a place where the Turkish engineers and Somali police were having lunch,” stated another police officer Nur Ali.

“So far, we know three Turkish engineers and their translator were injured,” he said. “Two other policemen were injured in the blast.”

Officials confirmed that people injured in the Somalia bombing near the town of Afgoye in southwest of Mogadishu, included Somali nationals and Turkish engineers working on a road in the area.

Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca stated that six Turkish employees of a construction firm and nine Somali citizens were wounded. Two of the wounded Turkish citizens were in critical condition and undergoing surgery at the Mogadishu Recep Tayyip Erdogan hospital. “Four of the nine Somali wounded are in a serious condition. We are in contact with our embassy,” he added.

Residents described that it was a massive explosion followed by “clouds of smoke”. A witness stated that “several Turkish engineers and well-armed convoy of Somali police” were present at the scene before the blast.

Another said, “The blast was huge, it destroyed a container used by the Turkish engineers who work on the Afgoye road construction.”

The Turkish Ministry of National Defense decried the Somalia bombing attack, and wrote on Twitter, “We curse and condemn in the strongest terms the bomb terror attack which targeted innocent civilians in Somalia.”

Somalia bombing on Saturday was claimed by the Somali insurgents linked to al-Qaeda, al-Shabab, on their media outlet Radio Andalus. “We are behind the martyrdom of the suicide car bomb in Afgoye,” said Abdiasis Abu Musab, spokesman for the group. “We targeted the Turkish men and the Somali forces with them. There are casualties of death and injuries.”

Al-Shabab has been battling for supremacy in the Horn of Africa country for years. Saturday’s car bombing attack in Somalia is the latest in a string of attacks by the armed group, which in recent weeks has increased activity in Somalia and neighboring Kenya.

On December 28, al-Shabab’s massive car bombing attack killed at least 78 people and wounded 149 more at a checkpoint in Mogadishu. In another attack on January 5, the group stormed a military base used by US forces in Kenya’s coastal Lamu region and killed three Americans.

Last week, the al-Shabab group also warned that Kenya will “never be safe”, threatening tourists and calling for more attacks on US interests. Both Kenya and the US forces have been assisting the Somali government in its fight against al-Shabab.

With al-Shabab’s activity speeding up in the two countries, no relief is in sight to the civilian deaths.

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Russian President Putin Talks About Political Affairs amid Flaring War Tensions

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Russian president

Besides playing an important role in global policies, Russian government has some of its internal ambitions that it could never avoid perceiving in a long run. Occupying an unusual position on the world stage, while maintaining an internal balance, portraying its capabilities has also brought global attention to Russia’s day-to-day doings.

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed some constitutional changes, which would give him a scope to extend his grip on power after leaving the presidency in 2024. The ruling government of Russia, under the leadership of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, resigned to fulfil this purpose.

As known, Vladimir Putin has the status of the most powerful leader in Russia. It has been 20 years since; Putin has been ruling in the country, either being at the presidential or the prime ministerial posts. But the problem here is that, the Russian president will have to step down when his term expires in 2024.

So, to avoid such situations, a reform of powers of parliament and the cabinet were proposed by Putin that would allow him to remain in power even after his current term. The 67-year-old Russian president even thanked his counterpart and close ally for contributing in his bigger motives. Putin even asked the prime minister and his cabinet to keep working until a new one is formed.

Once a new prime minister is elected, Dmitry Medvedev will be appointed as Deputy Head of the Presidential Security Council. Meanwhile, the sources have claimed that Tax Chief Mikhail Mishustin was nominated as the new Prime Minister of Russia by Putin.

It appears that Vladimir is playing a mind-game here by nominating Mishustin. Since, the latter lacks any political weight, it is obvious that he would not play an independent role and Putin and his regime will have an upper hand on the policies and conflicts.

Ensuring that the government officials were not allowed to have a foreign citizenship or residence permit was another area which needed changes, according to the Russian president.

Putin also spoke upon the need to boost Russia’s birth rate and proposed payments for low-income families with small children, allowances for first-time mothers, higher payments for families with more children and the creation of extra nursery places.

The further amendments in the constitution would also allow the politicians to name prime ministers and cabinet members, a right that at present belongs only to the president. By bringing such vast changes, the Russian president has demonstrated how the constitution and politics in the country is influenced by his massive role and growing power.

While suggesting to diminish the powers of the presidency and beefing up those of the prime minister, Putin also argued that the president should also hold the right to dismiss the PM and their cabinet ministers – along with the power to name top defence and security officials.

Likewise, he even stated that the constitutional changes must be put to a national vote.

As known, the presidents are only limited to serving two consecutive terms, but if Putin switched his role with the prime minister like he did earlier in 2008, it would once again give way to him to return to the presidential power. If that is not possible, he would consecutively opt for the prime ministerial post.

The critics have argued that the Russian president even after the end of his presidency plans to influence the entire country through his goals, while staying on the top job forever. At a time, when the world countries are at potential risks of war due to flaring tensions in the Middle East, Russia is more focussed upon dealing with its internal political affairs, while maintaining strong defences through its unique weaponries.  

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