• JuD chief Hafiz Saeed challenges his arrest in terror financing cases in Pakistani court

    Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed, a UN designated Pakistani terrorist whom the US has placed a USD 10 million bounty on, challenged his arrest in the terror financing cases in the Lahore High Court in Lahore on Tuesday. In a fresh petition, Hafiz Saeed and 67 other leaders of the banned Jamaat-ud Dawa (JuD) and its charity wing Falah-i-Insaniat (FIF), challeneged the FIRs of terror financing against them in the LHC through their counsels, Advocate A K Dogar, Ahmad Abudullah Dogar and Ghulam Yasin Bhatti. The petitioners have made the interior ministry, the Punjab home department and the Counter Terrorism Department of Punjab police respondents in the case. The court will fix hearing of this case later. Hafiz Saeed was arrested on July 17 in a terror financing case and the anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Gujrat (some 200-km from Lahore) will take it up on September 2. He is kept at the Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail in high security. The petitioners said JuD chief Saeed and others (67) are not members of Lashkar-e-Taiba either they have any nexus with it. They also cited some previous courts observations in this regard. Saeed and others prayed to the LHC to declare the property detailed in this petition was "dedicated for the purpose of mosques and is being used as such therefore FIRs are without lawful authority and of no legal effect." "It is prayed that this learned court be pleased to declare that none of the petitioners and pro-forma respondents are linked with LeT and therefore the FIRs are without lawful authority and of no legal effect (be quashed), they prayed. Saeed-led JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the LeT which is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people. He was listed under UN Security Council Resolution 1267 in December 2008. The Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab Police had registered 23 FIRs against the petitioners on the charges of "terror financing" in different cities of Punjab province. The cases have been registered in Lahore, Gujranwala and Multan for collection of funds for terrorism financing through assets/properties made and held in the names of Trusts/Non Profit Organisations (NPO) including Al-Anfaal Trust, Dawatul Irshad Trust, Muaz Bin Jabal Trust, etc. The CTD said investigation launched into financing matters of proscribed organisations -- JuD and LeT -- in connection with implementation of UN Sanctions against these Designated Entities and Persons as directed by NSC (National Security Committee) in its Meeting of 1st January 2019 chaired by the Prime Minister Imran Khan for implementing the National Action Plan. "These suspects made assets from funds of terrorism financing. They held and used these assets to raise more funds for further terrorism financing. Hence, they committed multiple offences of terrorism financing and money laundering under Anti-Terrorism Act 1997. They will be prosecuted in ATCs (Anti-Terrorism Courts) for commission of these offences," the CTD said. The US Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and the US, since 2012, has offered a USD 10 million reward for information that brings Saeed to justice.

  • AMADE helping African children through energy and technology

    Princess Grace’s foundation AMADE and its Energy of Hope programme is helping to bring African classrooms into the digital age. When Princess Grace founded AMADE in 1963, she would have never been able to envision what her efforts would achieve. The whole idea of internet and mobile phones was by and large science fiction and only for the likes of James Bond, not children in rural African outposts. Fast forward to today and AMADE has quite literally brought light to places where lighting was non-existent. Solar powered lamps were given to 850 Mauritanian and Senegalese students in 2017-18. These lamps are allowing children up to four additional hours of light per day to study and are reducing greenhouse gas emissions by replacing their old kerosene lanterns with these eco-friendly alternatives. Schools are also being electrified using solar technology, and with this advancement, the internet has arrived, giving teachers and pupils access to more current information than ever before. This is particularly important for educators, as much of what they had access to was not as up-to-date or as thorough as it could have been. Additionally, mobile phone-type handsets have been introduced, giving these remote areas a way to connect with the rest of the world while providing some otherwise inaccessible benefits. For example, as many births in these regions go unregistered, the children are not in the public system and when it comes time to go onto higher education, they are unable to as they have no civil status. Now, they can be accounted for, giving new opportunities where once there were none. True to AMADE’s mission of actively committing to the protection and empowerment of children around the world, these new steps they have provided are changing young lives for the better.

  • Keeping Monaco ports clean

    Since 2011, Monaco’s ports have been certified ‘Clean Ports’ and have made several improvements to the marinas to assist sailors in going green. For example, special sorting bins have been installed that collect glass, packaging, and other waste to make recycling a breeze. The latest scheme, introduced last year by the Department of Urban Amenities in conjunction with the association, Clean Gestures, is called “I Sail, I Sort” and the end game is clear. Environmentally-friendly, biodegradable bin bags and totes are provided so that boaters are encouraged to do onboard recycling and proper waste disposal. The bags are readily available at the captaincy office in Fontvieille and the Monaco Port Exploitation Company’s reception office in Port Hercule. They are free of charge.

  • Interview: Xavier Rugeroni, General Manager of Fairmont Monte Carlo

    The Fairmont Monte Carlo is one of the most recognisable architectural achievements in the Principality of Monaco. Cradling the Mediterranean coastline, this enormous contemporary hotel and its 600-strong staff form a unique little village, serving as a platform for some of the region’s largest congresses and accommodating hundreds of international guests every night. At the helm is Xavier Rugeroni who, over recent years, has transformed the Fairmont from a tired, outdated hotel to one of the most important business-generating venues in the Principality, with a world-renowned restaurant and a unique rooftop “beach”. Now, the Fairmont is set to enter another interesting phase of its existence: it will be a neighbour to Monaco’s ambitious new eco-district, which is currently being constructed on the sea. Regional Vice-President and General Manager Xavier Rugeroni spoke to Monaco Life about his incredible achievements so far and what he thinks the future holds for one of the Principality’s most iconic hotels. Cassandra: Xavier, you have worked at numerous hotels across the globe, you are fluent in four languages, and was awarded General Manager of the Year of the Principality of Monaco in 2001 and decorated with the Medaille de l’Ordre de St. Charles by Prince Albert in 2005. What brought you to the Fairmont? Xavier: What attracted me was the tremendous challenge that lay ahead. The hotel was iconic and had been the focus of the Principality for many a year, but it had lost a bit of its glamour. It was a tremendous opportunity to do some very special things. That was 12 years ago, which has been the longest stint I have ever done in any one job, but I have loved every minute of it. Tell us about the challenges when you came into the position of general manager… I was basically repositioning the Fairmont in a different commercial environment. The whole promotional base had changed completely. I think the challenge for me was to try and bring it into that context, but at the same time retain a lot of its strength, and that was very much its people. One of the biggest challenges we had at that time was the hotel had drifted for a couple of years and that had an impact on staff motivation, so it was a matter of rekindling that and giving them hope and vision for the future. But it was relatively easy to be done because the base was very strong. How many staff are employed at the Fairmont? All year round we are looking at around 550 on average, but in the summer it is closer to 620. So it is a small village, we have all the emotions, all the politics, all the gossip… everything that goes along with it, it’s great. What would you say have been the biggest achievements of your career here? I think the biggest achievement is that we have completely repositioned ourselves as a modern entity, coming back from a very traditional position. The challenge was bringing the Fairmont into today’s world, defining its purpose and role in the marketplace, particularly in a destination like Monaco. We had to challenge the status quo. With the Fairmont being Canadian, we had a footprint that was very much in our DNA, and at the same time we needed to adapt to the European way of life, but then we also needed to become a little bit more contemporary. The way we did that, which was challenging at the time because not a lot of people were understanding, is when we brought in Nobu. It was the first internationally-branded restaurant in Monaco. Nobody had done anything like it. And that was topped when we brought in Nikki Beach. Everybody was wondering, “what on earth are they doing?”, but at the end of the day it needed to be done because the Fairmont had to come in line with the times. And looking back on it after five years, it has possibly been one of the best decisions I have made. Tell me about the image of the Fairmont internationally? I think the best way to say it, is that the Fairmont today is the postcard of Monaco. Yes you have palaces like the Hôtel de Paris, the Hermitage and the Metropole, but at the end of the day the Fairmont keeps Monaco ticking along. Because without the Fairmont we can not do what we do in Monaco. For example, you have big city-wide events like congresses, that take 500 rooms alone (we have a 600 room capacity). Without us it would not be possible to stage these events in the Principality. In addition to that we have a fantastic food and beverage offer. So we are regularly chosen as the hotel of choice for people because here you can have the conference, the bedroom space and the food and beverage offer. The land extension and new eco-district is taking shape directly in front of the Fairmont. What impact has that had on the hotel? Well of course it has had an impact given its proximity, but at the same time we are telling people: “Have a look at something which is unique, you are not going to see it again in Europe for the next 50 years possibly, so make the most of it!”. It is disruptive and noisy, but it is not necessarily disrupting business. Obviously it affects certain bedrooms but people spend a lot of the time taking selfies. Let’s jump forward to when it is finally completed… what will be the Fairmont’s position then? We will be in the heart of the new quarter of Monaco. It’s as simple as that. We already are at the heart now, with the Grand Prix, the Grimaldi Forum, the Monte Carlo Casino Square. Soon, no one will be as close to this unique project as we are. We too are in the process of change; we are renovating to create a new room type called ‘Marina bay rooms’, overlooking the new harbour. So yes, it is going to be a very important part of our future. Tell us more about the renovation that the Fairmont is set to undertake… The entire hotel will be renovated. We are starting with the Saphir 24 bistro lounge and bar that we are sitting in right now, which will be completed by the end of the year. And then we will be refurbishing all the bedrooms and bathrooms, corridors, and the restaurants. So it is a very large renovation that will last about two years. And the exterior? Will there be some kind of synergy with the new eco-district? A few months ago we discovered that this is, in fact, a protected building because of its contemporary architecture, so we must keep the iconic design, which is very much the DNA of the hotel anyway. But we will be cleaning the façade and changing the windows. Tell me about your environmentally sustainable practices. We are very much involved in Prince Albert’s environmental vision. We have an internal green team and each department has a ‘champion’ who is responsible for telling us the improvements we can make. It is an A to Z kind of approach. Guests and event planners are encouraged to support the Fairmont’s green actions in waste management, recycling and energy efficiency, use linen napkins and digital communication over print. Guests are given information on sustainable activities like walking, bicycle tours, seasonal products and cooking classes. We use suppliers who limit the volume of non-recyclable packaging, we have organic eggs for breakfast, and participate in Earth Hour. There’s free electric recharging for customers who come with an electric vehicle, discounts on electric car rental, and carbon offset through the Prince Albert II Foundation. It is a multi-faceted approach. Who has been your favourite guest over the years? We have an enormous number of high profile guests who pass through these doors, but I can’t really tell you about them for privacy reasons. I will, however, tell you the one person who has marked me the most, and I can say this because he is very much a part of the Fairmont family. That is Robert De Niro, who is of course the major shareholder of Nobu. He is the most down to earth individual you can imagine, so much so we had a drink together for about an hour and a half before he officially launched Nobu, and kept everybody waiting! You were also behind the enormous success of Private Dining. Tell us how that started… Private Dining is an outside catering operation and started eight years ago when Prince Albert specifically asked the Fairmont to provide the food service for his wedding. We were doing low key catering at the time, maybe five to 10 events a year. Then we catered for six thousand guests the day of the wedding, it was a military operation. After that it just snowballed. Today, we have around 150,000 covers a year with outside catering in France and Monaco. There is certainly much to be proud of here at the Fairmont.

  • Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth split because of his 'heavy drinking and drug use'

    Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth's split after less than a year of marriage came as a huge shock to fans. And while many reports have claimed that he ended things because of her wild partying, it's now been alleged that the opposite is true. According to Heat magazine, Miley, 27, tried hard to save the marriage but couldn't cope with Liam's heavy drinking and drug use. The source said: "Their friends all agree they should never have got married. There was no one major fight that ended it all. It was more of an eroding of their friendship as the resentment set in." Miley battled "valiantly" to save the marriage but couldn't accept his alleged drinking and "use of certain drugs". The insider added: "They started pulling away from each other and spending more and more time apart." Mirror Online has contacted Liam's reps for comment. It was previously reported that Liam would "lash out" at the singer when she tried to rein him in. A source told People that Liam has a secret side he never shows in public. "Everyone always thinks Miley is problematic and immature and a hardcore partier while he’s this chill surfer dude, but that's actually [not accurate]," they claimed. "Liam parties with his friends, and Miley thinks he should've grown out of that by now."

  • Donald Trump tweets fake pic of gold tower in Greenland amid plans to buy island

    S President Donald Trump has tweeted a Photoshopped picture of a huge Trump tower in Greenland. Trump posted the tweet after it emerged he spoke to senior US officials about the possibility of buying the island from Denmark. Trump's tongue-in-cheek tweet was captioned 'I promise not the do this to Greenland!', seemingly referring to the outrage expressed by politicians over his plot to purchase the Arctic nation. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen described the idea of selling the territory to the US as 'absurd'. She told the Danish broadcaster DR: "It's an absurd discussion, and Kim Kielsen (Greenland's premier) has of course made it clear that Greenland is not for sale. That's where the conversation ends." The Wall Street Journal claims Trump asked advisers whether the US could acquire Greenland and listened with interest when they discussed its resources and geopolitical importance. Some of his staff have supported the concept, the newspaper reported, but others have dismissed it as 'fleeting fascination' that will never happen. Trump confirmed to reporters on Sunday that he had recently discussed the possibility of buying the island, though he said such a move was not an immediate priority. He said: "The concept came up and... strategically it's interesting. (Although) it is not number one on the burner - I can tell you that." With a population of just 56,000, Greenland is a self-ruling part of Denmark. Trump is set to visit Denmark early next month although the visit is unrelated to his desire to purchase the island, which former US President Harry Truman also tried to buy in 1946. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow trumpeted the benefits of the potential purchase, pointing to Greenland's extensive mineral deposits and its strategic location. Around 80 per cent of Greenland is covered in ice, however as this melts more and more of the minerals on the island are becoming accessible.

  • Manchester United ‘disgusted’ as Paul Pogba is racially abused online

    Manchester United have condemned racial abuse which was aimed at midfielder Paul Pogba on social media after his missed penalty in the 1-1 draw at Wolves on Monday night. Pogba saw his 68th-minute spot-kick saved by Rui Patricio as United dropped points in the Premier League. In a statement, United said: “Everyone at Manchester United is disgusted by the racial abuse aimed at Paul Pogba last night and we utterly condemn it.” Pogba became the third footballer in England to suffer such abuse in the space of a week following a missed spot-kick, with racist abuse also directed at Reading’s Yakou Meite and Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham in recent days. Other fans were quick to condemn some of the posts seen on Monday night, many of which were subsequently deleted. United’s statement continued: “The individuals who expressed these views do not represent the values of our great club and it is encouraging to see the vast majority of our fans condemn this on social media also. “Manchester United has zero tolerance of any form of racism or discrimination and a long-standing commitment to campaigning against it through our #AllRedAllEqual initiative. “We will work to identify the few involved in these incidents and take the strongest course of action available to us. We also encourage social media companies to take action in these cases.” Pogba’s miss came after an apparent debate with Marcus Rashford over who should step up to take the penalty, and the England striker was quick to condemn the abuse which came his team-mate’s way. “Manchester United is a family,” Rashford wrote on Twitter. “@paulpogba is a huge part of that family. You attack him you attack us all…” As United said in their own statement, the abuse directed at Pogba, Meite and Abraham will further increase the pressure on social media networks to take action themselves. United’s England defender Harry Maguire reacted by posting on Twitter: “Disgusting. Social media need to do something about it… Every account that is opened should be verified by a passport/driving licence. Stop these pathetic trolls making numerous accounts to abuse people.” Anti-discrimination campaign group Kick It Out echoed that view in its own statement. “The latest round of fixtures have again seen unwarranted and vile racist abuse sent to players. This time, Reading’s Yakou Meite and Manchester United’s Paul Pogba,” it said. “The number of posts such as these since the start of the season further highlights how discriminatory abuse online is out of control. “Without immediate and the strongest possible action these cowardly acts will continue to grow. “As always, we have contacted the respective clubs to offer support to those affected.”

  • Raja Ampat: a thousand undiscovered gems floating in emerald green waters

    Henry Cookson is the founder of luxury adventure travel company Cookson Adventures and is a dedicated explorer and a Guinness World Record holder for the first expedition to the Southern Pole of Inaccessibility, the exact centre of the Antarctic Continent. Just off Western New Guinea, where the emerald green waters lie, is a little-known archipelago in Indonesia called Raja Ampat. If it is remote you are after, then this is exactly what I would recommend. I’ve been there a couple of times, once with clients from my company and once travelling on my own. I’d return tomorrow, if I could.This beautiful collection of islands is located at the convergence of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, making its coral reefs the most abundant and splendid on earth. And herea thousand scattered, jungle-covered islets offer a serenity unparalleled in the western world. One of my greatest passions is scuba diving. There’s something very special about the sensation; the freedom of being suspended in the vast expanse of an ocean is like flying underwater. Raja Ampat is a diver’s paradise. The rich and vibrant reefs are teeming with life. Sunken Second World War planes dot the sea bed. Every hue and texture imaginable are present amongst the kaleidoscopic corals and schools of fluorescent marine life, ranging from colourful nudibranch sea slugs to shoals of Maori wrasse to six of the world’s seven species of sea turtles. Using our network of experts, we can give guests access to areas that others can’t. Guests can board a traditional phinisi yacht and head to the most varied snorkel and dive sites of the archipelago. We also have connections to local marine biologists and conservationists for gueststo contribute to vital conservation projects whilst exploring these protected marine areas. Among them is a project to combat rampant shark finning and unchecked destructive fishing which has resulted in a larger number and greater diversity of fish, coral, and molluscs than anywhere on earth. A single football field-sized patch of the region’s reefs has nearly five times the number of coral species as the entire Caribbean Sea. Its shark populations – a keystone species vital to the ecosystem’s health – have rebounded after years of persecution. Throughout the region there are marvels to see at every turn. In the Dampier Strait, strong currents bring nutrients through this channel of water, attracting megafauna such as manta rays, reef sharks and, occasionally, even pilot whales. The shallow waters of Wayag Lagoon are the best place to swim with swirling sharks before enjoying local fish and vegetables cooked up on the beach. Amongst the Fam Islands, guests can spot the pygmy seahorse or the wonderfully named wobbegong, also called the carpet shark. At sites like Melissa’s Garden and the Penemu Wall gorgonian sea fans grow up to three metres long and blow like trees in the currents, while small iridescent fish inspect the reef’s nooks and crannies. Around the islands of Kawe, which sits on the equator, the seas boast a spectacularly complicated underwater topography, making them a haven for snorkelers. For those who are truly looking to elevate their experience of Raja Ampat to the next level, I’d advise clients to add a submersible to their exploration. I’m proud to say that my company has been leading private submersible travel ever since we arranged the first ever private submersible dive in Antarctica. Cookson’s submersible pilots have taken various vessels to different depths in some of the world’s most unexplored waters. Journeying into the unknown in this manner is unlike anything most will ever experience. On land, the archipelago is dominated by four islands: Salawati, Batanta, Waigeo and Misool, collectively known as the Four Kings. Home to over 800 species, the islands offer one of Mother Nature’s greatest exhibitions. Birds of paradise such as great-billed parrots, and marbled frogmouths parade their magnificent plumage and a cacophony of birdcalls rises from the jungle. But to really see them in their natural habitats, you need one of only a few local guides. Even a simple hike to see the iconic limestone karsts scattered across the islands’ topography can be a magical experience when you know the best views. Raja Ampat holds some special memories for me and, despite the many parts of the world I feel are yet to explore, it’s a corner I long to return to.

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