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84 die in Hodeida fight after failure of UN-brokered Yemen talks

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KHOKHA: Clashes and air strikes have left 84 people dead around Yemen’s Red Sea port city of Hodeida since the collapse of UN-brokered peace talks, hospital sources said.
The sources in Hodeida province, controlled by Houthi rebels, said 11 soldiers and 73 insurgents had been killed since the talks were abandoned on Saturday. Dozens of rebels and at least 17 soldiers had been wounded.
The pro-government coalition, which includes Saudi and UAE air forces, has been pushing to close in on Hodeida, the entry point for some 70 per cent of Yemen’s imports including food and aid, since June. The coalition on Sunday was positioned to attempt to seize the main road linking Sanaa, the rebel-held capital, to the port city, a military official said. The road is a key supply route for the Houthis.
In July, the coalition announced a temporary ceasefire in Hodeida to give a chance to UN-brokered peace talks.
But UN attempts to hold peace talks between Yemen’s Saudi-backed government and the Houthis, linked to Saudi Arabia’s archrival Iran, were abandoned on Saturday, sparking fears of an escalation in the conflict.
The rebels refused to leave Yemen for Geneva, saying the UN had not met their demands — including a plane to transport their wounded to nearby Oman and a guarantee their delegation would be allowed to return to Sanaa.
In 2014, the Houthis seized control of a string of Red Sea ports and the capital, driving the government out of Sanaa and the president into exile. In 2015, Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in the conflict to bolster President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, recognised by the UN as Yemen’s president. They now control Yemen’s airspace.
Nearly 10,000 people have since been killed and the country now stands at the brink of famine.


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Theresa May urges parliament to back her on Brexit

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London: Prime Minister Theresa May made an impassioned appeal to British lawmakers to support her on Wednesday after the European Union said it could only grant her request to delay Brexit for three months if parliament next week backed her plans for leaving.
May had earlier asked the EU to let Britain delay its departure date from March 29 to June 30, a question that leaders of the remaining 27 member states will discuss at a summit on Thursday.
European Council President Donald Tusk said it would be possible to grant Britain a short postponement if parliament next week backs May’s divorce agreement, which it has already voted down twice.
Should that happen, Tusk said no extraordinary EU summit would be needed next week before the current Brexit date. Otherwise, he said he might convene the leaders again.
“I believe that a short extension will be possible, but it will be conditional on a positive vote on the Withdrawal Agreement in the House of Commons,” Tusk told journalists.
He did not comment on the possibility – which he himself has suggested – that another option such as a longer delay might be offered to avoid a painful no-deal exit if May’s deal was voted down again.
May said British lawmakers had spent long enough saying what they did not want from Brexit, and that people were tired of their infighting, political games and arcane procedural rows.
“I passionately hope MPs (lawmakers) will find a way to back the deal I have negotiated with the EU,” May said in a televised address.
She said lawmakers had a choice: leave the EU with a deal, leave without a deal, or not leave at all.
“It is high time we made a decision,” May said, telling Britons: “I am on your side.”
Earlier, she had told a rowdy session of parliament that she could not countenance the prospect of a long delay – which could give time for notional alternative approaches to emerge, but would infuriate Brexit supporters in her own party.
“As prime minister, I am not prepared to delay Brexit any further than the 30th of June,” she said.
May did not say when the next vote on her deal would happen.
If she cannot win over enough reluctant lawmakers next week, Britain faces the choice of requesting a longer delay or leaving the EU as planned on March 29 – without a deal to cushion the economic upheaval.
Some EU states, including Germany, had given a largely positive response to May’s well-flagged request.
But French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said May would need to make her case before EU leaders.
“Our position is to send the British a clear and simple message. As Theresa May has repeatedly said herself, there are only two options to get out of the EU: ratify the Withdrawal Agreement or exit without a deal,” he told the French parliament.
May’s initiative was the latest twist in more than two years of negotiations that have left British politics in chaos and her authority in tatters.
After the defeats in parliament opened up the possibility of Britain leaving the EU without a deal, May told parliament on Wednesday that she remained committed to leaving “in an orderly manner”.
Her announcement that she was asking for a three-month delay caused uproar in the chamber. The opposition Labour Party accused her of “blackmail, bullying and bribery” in her attempts to force her deal through, and one prominent Brexit supporter in her own Conservative Party said seeking a delay was “betraying the British people”.

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World War II aircraft carrier discovered beneath surface of South Pacific

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Honiara: Aircraft carrier USS Wasp, that had not been seen since 1942, has been spotted nearly 14,000 feet below the surface of the South Pacific.
The aircraft was sighted after remote controller research glimpsed the hull of an aircraft carrier. The sighting follows the discovery of another World War II-era shipwreck, the USS Hornet, which sank not far away, off the Solomon Islands by Research Vessel Petrel, funded by the late Microsoft founder Paul Allen.
Many other dozens of wrecks of ships that once flew the flags of the American, British, Japanese and Italian navies have also been discovered by the Petrel in recent years, CNN reported.
Consisting a crew of 10, the Petrel sits on the surface plotting the last known locations of old warships and sending robots to the depths to rediscover them.
According to the US Navy’s policy of leaving its shipwrecks untouched — considering them as the sailors’ hallowed graves — the Wasp’s hull will remain in the murky depths.
According to a US Navy account, it was back then in April 1942 when the USS Wasp arrived to supply a badly needed contingent of dozens of warplanes to the beleaguered Allied forces at Malta. Under fire, the aircraft carrier retreated to a safe harbour in Gibraltar.
However, in September 1942, a Japanese submarine fired a number of torpedoes, two of which had hit two ships — USS O’Brien and the USS North Carolina. A few of them had struck Wasp’s hull, leading to a massive blaze. The Wasp’s impact was so severe that it did not remain afloat for long and sank thereafter.
Retired Rear Admiral Samuel Cox, who leads the US Naval History and Heritage Command, said in a statement, “Wasp represented the US Navy at the lowest point after the start of WWII.”
“Her pilots and her aircrew, with their courage and sacrifice, were the ones that held the line against the Japanese when the Japanese had superior fighter aircraft, superior torpedo planes and better torpedoes,” he added.

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Indian-American Neomi Rao takes oath as judge of powerful court

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Washington: Prominent Indian-American lawyer Neomi Jehangir Rao (45) has been sworn in as US Circuit Judge for the powerful District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, replacing the controversial Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Joined by her husband Alan Lefkowitz, Rao was sworn in by US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Tuesday. She took the oath on a Bible.
According to a White House schedule, President Donald Trump had participated in the swearing-in ceremony.
Born in Detroit to Parsi physicians from India Zerin Rao and Jehangir Narioshang Rao Neomi Rao is the second Indian-American after Sri Srinivasan to be part of the powerful court said to be next only to the US Supreme Court.
Nominated by President Donald Trump last November, Rao was confirmed by the Senate last week by 53-46 votes. In her previous role as the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) of the Office of Management and Budget, she played a key role in regulatory reform.
Rao’s confirmation and her swearing-in for the prestigious court has been a low key affair for the Indian-American community.
This is in stark contrast to the nationwide celebration by Indian-Americans when Srinivasan was confirmed and sworn in as US Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Prior to her service as OIRA Administrator, Rao was a professor of structural constitutional law, administrative law, and legislation and statutory interpretation at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University.
She founded the Law School’s Center for the Study of the Administrative State and focused her scholarship on the political and constitutional accountability of administrative agencies and the role of Congress.
She has served in all three branches of government, including Associate Counsel and Special Assistant to President George W. Bush. She also served as counsel to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, where she was responsible for judicial nominations and constitutional law issues.
In between government service, Rao practised in the London office of Clifford Chance LLP, specialising in international law and commercial arbitration.

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