MORNING NEWS BRIEF: 19 FEBRUARY
PICTURE OF THE DAY
Practice nurse Hannah Currie, 25, prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine as Bradford Central mosque is opened as a community Covid-19 vaccination centre.
Bangladeshi borrowers of National Bank of Pakistan don't want to return money
The National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), a foreign bank operating in Bangladesh, has been making losses year after year, with its banking activities have now come to a standstill. The foreign bank, which started its journey in the country in 1994, is now facing a crisis of its existence owing to its astronomical proportion of default loans. At the end of last year, NBP’s defaulted loans stood at Tk 1,374.8 crore, which was at 97.7 per cent of its total loans, according to the data from the Bangladesh Bank. The NBP has four branches in the country with 76 employees but its loan disbursement exercise has been stagnant for several years owing to its liquidity shortage. The Pakistani bank fell into big trouble by giving loans to some fraudulent clients in 2013-14. The lender is yet to recover the sum, said a senior official of the foreign bank seeking anonymity.
Top Bhutan general and judges detained for overthrow plot
Police in Bhutan, the Himalayan kingdom famed for its happiness index, have detained a top general and two judges over an alleged plot to overthrow the country's top military officer and chief justice. The allegations about the conspiracy to take over top jobs in the army and judiciary have rocked the tiny country of 750,000 people jammed between India and China that prides itself on its clean-cut image. Former royal bodyguard commandant Brigadier Thinley Tobgay, Supreme Court judge Kuenley Tshering and top district court judge Yeshey Dorji appeared in court on Wednesday (Feb 17) after being detained at their homes. The three have been accused of plotting to overthrow the country's top military officer, Lieutenant General Batoo Tshering by implicating him in a corruption scandal.
‘Event management’: Foreign envoys visit Kashmir amid shutdown
A delegation of foreign envoys, including from African, European and Latin American countries, began their two-day tour of Indian-administered Kashmir amid an increased blanket of security and a spontaneous shutdown in some parts of the region. Soon after their arrival on Wednesday in Srinagar, the region’s main city, the envoys were driven to a college in central Kashmir’s Budgam where they met a select number of people, including the recently elected local body representatives. After visiting the college in Budgam’s Magam town, where residents observed a shutdown, the envoys visited the historic marble mosque on the banks of Srinagar’s picturesque lake. An official told Al Jazeera that the envoys are from Chile, Brazil, Cuba, Bolivia, Estonia, Finland, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium, Spain, Sweden, Italy, Bangladesh, Malawi, Eritrea, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Senegal, Malaysia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan and the European Union.
Protesting farmers hold rail roko, say it proves protest goes beyond Punjab, Haryana
With farmers on Thursday blocking railway tracks across the country, at stations big and small, protesters at Singhu said this proves that the agitation is not just limited to Punjab and Haryana. “The government has constantly been saying that the protest against the three farm laws is being staged by the farmers of just two states, Punjab and Haryana, but the rail roko andolan shows that the government is wrong. “Farmers from so many states have participated. That is why it was important for us to protest on the railway tracks. Like the railways that has a nationwide network, our protest is also happening across the country,” Krantikari Kisan Union’s Gurdaspur district president Bhajan Singh said.
Gen Z breaks out from Suu Kyi's shadow, takes charge of resistance against Myanmar coup
Mass demonstrations calling for the release of "Mother Suu" have been complimented by more disarming, Twitter-friendly rallies staged to communicate the larger anti-junta struggle to the international audience. Fitness trainers bared their six-packs on the streets of Yangon. Young women in pastel-coloured wedding gowns held up signs that said: "Getting democracy is a bigger concern for us than getting husband". "The real, main actors now are from the Generation Z who are under 25 years old," democracy activist Thinzar Shunlei Yi tells The Sunday Times. "People are not waiting for the NLD's orders and not asking for its permission anymore... we don't want to be under the shadow of one person. "We don't want to be under military dictatorship and we don't want to be under a personality cult either."
NASA’s Perseverance rover carries cutting-edge tech to Mars
If NASA successfully lands its fifth rover on Mars on Thursday, it will have delivered the Red Planet’s first microphones, its first aircraft, more cameras than ever before and a life-detecting duo known as SHERLOC and WATSON. The Perseverance rover will also hopefully complete the initial step in an estimated 10-year effort to return samples of Martian rock back to Earth-bound researchers. The rover carries a drill that can collect around 40 core samples, some 30 of which will be returned to Earth in the 2031 timeframe — though that plan could change. With luck, however, scientists won’t have to wait a decade for evidence of early Martian life.