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Donald Trump meets with US Supreme Court contenders, two in focus

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WASHINGTON/NEW YORK: US President Donald Trump said he met with four potential Supreme Court justices on Monday, while a person familiar with the selection process said Trump was focused keenly on two people, although others were still in contention.
Trump told reporters at the White House that he will meet with “two or three more” candidates to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced last week that he is retiring.
“We’ll make a decision … over the next few days and we’ll be announcing it on Monday,” Trump said.
He met for 45 minutes with each contender, said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.
Making his second Supreme Court appointment less than 18 months into his presidency will let Trump cement conservative control of the court for years to come. Such a move would likely fire up Trump supporters eager for a rightward shift on divisive social issues such as abortion and gay rights.
Trump’s nominee must win Senate confirmation. Republicans control the chamber by only a slim majority, making the views of moderates, including some Democrats, important.
Federal appeals court judges Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett have gained the most interest from Trump and his team, said the person familiar with the selection process.
“There is keen interest in those two, but there are at least a couple of others who are still very seriously in the mix,” said the person.
Kavanaugh is a judge on the District of Columbia U.S. Court of Appeals. Barrett was named by Trump to the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The other top potential nominees are Thomas Hardiman, who serves on the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; Raymond Kethledge of the Cincinnati, Ohio-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; and Amul Thapar, whom Trump named to the 6th Circuit.
Trump met with Kavanaugh, Barrett, Thapar and Kethledge on Monday, the Washington Post reported, citing three people briefed on the meetings.
White House Counsel Don McGahn will oversee Trump’s selection process, the White House said on Monday.
McGahn held the same role for the process that led to Trump’s selection of Neil Gorsuch, who has become one of the most conservative justices on the court.
“Teams of attorneys from the White House Counsel’s Office and Department of Justice are working to ensure the president has all the information he needs to choose his nominee,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.


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Amid Indo-Pak tension, Navy deployed nuclear submarines, aircraft carrier

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New Delhi: Aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, nuclear submarine Chakra, 60 ships and nearly 80 aircraft were put on operational deployment by the Indian Navy in the North Arabian sea in the wake of escalating tensions between India and Pakistan following the Pulwama terror attack, officials said.

They said the naval assets were part of a mega exercise but they transited from the area of the drill for operational deployment soon after the February 14 Pulwama terror attack that increased tensions between Pakistan and India.

At a tri-services press conference on February 28, the Indian Navy said it was in a high state of readiness to “deter, prevent and defeat” any “misadventure” by Pakistan in the maritime domain, reflecting a sense of its preparedness as well as seriousness of the situation.

 

“The major combat units of the Indian Navy including the Carrier Battle Group with INS Vikramaditya, nuclear submarines and scores of other ships, submarines and aircraft swiftly transited from exercise to operational deployment mode as tensions between India and Pakistan escalated,” Navy Spokesperson Capt DK Sharma said.

The naval assets comprising 60 ships of the Indian Navy, 12 ships of the Indian Coast Guard, and 60 aircraft were part of the theatre level operational readiness exercise (TROPEX 19), which commenced on January 19 in Andaman and Nicobar islands, and was to be concluded on March 10.

However, the Jaish-e-Mohammed sponsored Pulwama attack on February 14 led to the rapid redeployment of ships, submarines and aircraft for operations in North Arabian sea, Capt Sharma said.

“The overwhelming superiority of Indian Navy in all three dimensions — on surface, under-sea and in air — forced the Pakistan Navy to remain deployed close to the Makran coast and not venture out in the open ocean,” he said.

Twelve days after the Pulwama attack, Indian fighter jets bombed the Jaish-e-Mohammed’s biggest training camp near Balakot deep inside Pakistan on February 26. Pakistan retaliated by attempting to target Indian military installations next day.

Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba will assess outcome of the TROPEX in the Kochi naval base on Monday.

The day-long review by Admiral Lanba with all operational commanders is intended to examine the conduct of the exercise and to assess the operational preparedness of the Indian Navy, said the Navy spokesperson.

Exercise Tropex was followed by the largest coastal defence drill — ‘Sea Vigil’ on January 22 and 23 with participation of 13 coastal states and union territories along with all maritime stakeholders.

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International

‘Don’t have any grudge’: Husband of victim says he forgives NZ mosque gunman

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Christchurch: A man whose wife was killed in the Christchurch attack as she rushed back into a mosque to rescue him said he harbours no hatred toward the gunman, insisting forgiveness is the best path forward.

“I would say to him ‘I love him as a person’,” Farid Ahmad told AFP. “I could not accept what he did. What he did was a wrong thing.”

Asked if he forgave the 28-year-old white supremacist suspect, he said: “Of course. The best thing is forgiveness, generosity, loving and caring, positivity.”

 

Husna Ahmad, 44, was killed at the Al Noor mosque — the first of two targeted by the gunman.

Fifty people, at least four of them women, were killed in the attack on the mosques where worshippers had gone for Friday prayers.

Ahmad and his wife emigrated from Bangladesh to New Zealand in 1990 and have one daughter.

When the shooting started, Husna helped several people escape from the women’s and children’s hall.

“She was screaming ‘come this way, hurry up’, and she took many children and ladies towards a safe garden,” Ahmad said.

“Then she was coming back for checking about me, because I was in a wheelchair, and as she was approaching the gate she was shot. She was busy saving lives, forgetting about herself.”

Ahmad, 59, who has been confined to a wheelchair since being hit by a drunk driver in 1998, believes he escaped the hail of bullets because the gunman was focused on other targets.

“This guy was shooting one person two, three times, probably that gave some time to us to move out… even the dead he was shooting them again.”

Ahmad, who was a butcher but now sells homeopathy products, did not see his wife when he left the mosque and only learned of her death after someone photographed her body.

“Her picture was out in the social media, so somebody showed me the picture and I identified quite easily.”

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International

China says 13,000 Xinjiang ‘terrorists’ arrested since 2014

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Beijing: China says it has arrested nearly 13,000 people it describes as terrorists in the traditionally Islamic region of Xinjiang since 2014 and broken up hundreds of “terrorist gangs.”

The figures were included in a government report on the situation in the restive northwestern territory that seeks to respond to growing criticism over the internment of an estimated 1 million members of the Uighur (WEE-gur) and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups.

China describes the camps as vocational training centers and says participation is voluntary. Former detainees say they were held in abusive conditions, forced to renounce Islam and swear allegiance to China’s ruling Communist Party.

 

The lengthy report issued Monday also says “law-based de-radicalization” in Xinjiang has curbed the rise and spread of religious extremism.

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