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BEIJING: At least 16 people were killed in a coal mine fire on Sunday in southwest China’s Guizhou province, local officials said.
The fire broke out at the Shanjiaoshu Coal Mine at around 8:10am, the Panzhou City government said in a notice posted to its website on Sunday night.
“It was preliminarily determined that the conveyor belt caught fire, causing 16 people to be trapped,” it added, with no further details on what was damaged or how the fire began.
Emergency personnel extinguished the blaze and temperatures at the site returned to normal, but “after preliminary verification, 16 people have no vital signs”, the notice said. The Panzhou City mine is about 3,600 kilometres southwest of the capital Beijing.
China the world’s biggest emitter of the pollutants driving climate change — operates thousands of coal mines, even as Beijing has pledged to peak greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
While safety standards in the country’s mining sector have improved in recent decades, accidents still frequently plague the industry, often due to lax enforcement of protocols, especially at the most rudimentary sites. Last year, 245 people died in 168 accidents, according to official figures.
An explosion at a coal mine in Shaanxi province in northern China last month killed 11 people, nine of whom were trapped inside. Another two people managed to make it to the surface before they succumbed to their injuries, according to state media reports at the time.

RIYADH: From September 28 to October 7, the Riyadh International Book Fair will grace the grounds of King Saud University, embracing the theme “An Inspiring Destination.” Over 1,800 publishers from 32 countries will participate in this literary extravaganza, reports Al-Rai daily.

The Sultanate of Oman holds the esteemed title of “guest of honor” for this year’s event, presenting its literary wealth in a dedicated pavilion. This pavilion will showcase books, manuscripts, and elements of Omani national culture. It will also feature notable figures from Omani culture and publishers exhibiting their latest titles and publications.

The event’s program, curated by the Saudi Literature, Publishing, and Translation Authority, encompasses engaging dialogue sessions, poetry recitals, theatrical performances, musical concerts, and workshops across various domains of knowledge. Eminent intellectuals and writers from Saudi Arabia, the Arab world, and beyond will actively participate.

Running parallel to the fair is the International Publishers Conference on October 4, providing a platform for in-depth discussions on the book industry and the challenges faced by publishing houses.

The Riyadh International Book Fair marks the third book fair hosted by the Kingdom this year, following the Eastern and Medina fairs. Additionally, the Literature, Publishing, and Translation Authority is gearing up for a concluding fair in Jeddah during the month of December.

BAGHDAD: A group of Kuwaiti lawmakers discussed Thursday with Speaker of the Iraqi Council of Representatives Mohammad Al-Halbousi the importance of respecting and implementing bilateral agreements. In a press statement, the Iraqi Council of Representatives said that the two sides stressed the need to respect the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
They also discussed bilateral relations and exchanged views on a number of issues of common interest. They agreed on doubling efforts to boost parliamentary cooperation, activate parliamentary friendship committees and coordinate stances in international forums regarding regional issues. A Kuwaiti parliamentary delegation, headed by MP Fahad bin Jamea, arrived in Baghdad Wednesday to partake in the 32nd session of the Executive Committee of the Arab Parliamentary Union (KUNA)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday he believed his country was on the cusp of peace with Saudi Arabia, predicting it could be clinched by US President Joe Biden and reshape the Middle East.
Yet, amid urging by Riyadh and Washington that the Palestinians be included in the diplomacy, Netanyahu told the United Nations General Assembly in New York that Palestinians should not be allowed to veto the regional dealmaking.
Expectations that Israel might normalise relations with Saudi Arabia, the home of Islam’s two holiest shrines, have been ratcheted up this week. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said a deal was getting closer by the day and Netanyahu and Biden held a long-awaited meeting to discuss the prospects.
Netanyahu described as a precursor the 2020 normalisation accords between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, known as the Abraham Accords and sponsored by then-US President Donald Trump.
“There’s no question: The Abraham Accords heralded the dawn of a new age of peace,” he said. “I believe we’re on the cusp of a more dramatic breakthrough: A historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia.”
Such a deal would likely require broad support among US lawmakers — a tall order with a presidential election in 2024.
While crediting Trump for the previous deal, Netanyahu made clear he hoped the current administration would clinch this one.
“I believe we can achieve peace with Saudi Arabia with the leadership of President Biden,” he said.
Though he voiced willingness to seek some accommodation with the Palestinians — whose statehood goals are ruled out by his hard-right government — Netanyahu said: “We must not give the Palestinians a veto over new peace treaties with Arab states.”
On Thursday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the same forum: “Whoever thinks peace in the Middle East is possible before our people achieved their full right is delusional.”
Netanyahu, who has often used the UN podium to warn against Iran, described his country’s arch-foe as the “fly in the ointment” that would try to wreck a deal with Saudi Arabia.
But he cast normalisation as already in the works, citing the now three-year-old air corridor for Israeli carriers over Saudi territory and an ambitious plan, announced by Biden this month, to make both countries part of a rail and shipping network that would run from India to the Mediterranean Sea.
He illustrated the latter with a red line he drew across a regional map — a play on a 2012 UN speech in which he used a marker to draw a proposed “red line” for Iran’s nuclear drive.
“Today I bring this marker to show a great blessing,” he said, deeming normalisation with Saudi Arabia “an extraordinary change, a monumental change, another pivot of history.”

The Indian government freed Kashmiri chief cleric and Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Friday after more than four years of house arrest.
The 50-year-old was detained along with other political leaders and thousands of residents when the government cancelled held Kashmir’s constitutional semi-autonomy and imposed federal rule in 2019.
A months-long internet shutdown followed as India bolstered its armed forces in the region to contain protests.
Most detainees were subsequently released, but Mirwaiz remained unable to leave his residence, down the street from his Jamia Masjid mosque in Srinagar.

Thousands of worshippers gathered to see him lead Friday prayers for the first time in 218 weeks, with women showering him with sweets and religious slogans resounding around the 14th-century building.
Last week, a court asked authorities to explain his continued detention and he told the crowd that police informed him on Thursday that officials had decided to release him.
“This period of my house arrest and separation from my people has been the most painful for me since my father’s death,” he said, breaking down.
The mosque has historically been a centre of separatist politics and anti-India protests.
“God willing, you might think our spirit is low. No, our spirit is high,” the Mirwaiz said, calling the constitutional changes by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government “unacceptable”.
Modi “said about Ukraine that this is not the time for war. He is right,” he added.
“Disputes and disagreements should be resolved by talks rather than using power or unilateralism.” He called for the release of “numerous political prisoners”.
Held Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, with both countries claiming the Himalayan territory in full and fighting two wars over it.
A violent insurgency beginning in 1989 killed tens of thousands of people, including Indian troops, militants and civilians.
Heavy security, including counter-insurgency police and commandos, were deployed around the mosque on Friday.
“Our beloved and our king of hope has returned to this mosque after so long,” regular worshipper Bashir Ahmed told AFP after the prayers.
“How can I not be weeping with joy?” Since the imposition of direct rule, authorities have curbed media freedoms and public protests.
Moves aimed at bringing “peace and prosperity” to the region also allowed Indians from elsewhere to buy land and claim government jobs in the territory, a policy denounced by critics as “settler colonialism”.
Armed clashes between Indian soldiers and freedom fighters demanding independence for the disputed region or its merger with Pakistan have significantly reduced.
But this month saw an uptick in violence leaving at least 14 dead, including eight security personnel.

The idea of homeland and identity takes on a distinct meaning for Qudratullah, a 29-year-old resident of Karachi’s Gulzar Hijri neighbourhood, who works at a private company. “For my parents, Afghanistan could be their homeland,” he said, “but for me, Pakistan is my country. I was born and grew up here, and Afghanistan is a place I’ve only heard about.”
As things stand, however, his uncertain residency status has been forcing him to live each day with the looming threat of being deported to a country he has never seen. Since September 9, Qudratullah has been absent from his workplace, a decision driven by the palpable fear of arrest amidst an ongoing crackdown against Afghan refugees in Karachi.
Even though he and many others in the community hold Proof of Registration (PoR) cards, which legally confirm their status in Pakistan, they have opted to remain indoors. “The situation is dire,” Qudratullah, who uses a single name, told “Even those Afghans with PoR and Afghan Citizenship Cards (ACCs) are not venturing outside. The police have cast a wide net, and no one feels safe.”
Reports and interviews with refugee elders have painted a grim picture — a renewed crackdown against Afghan refugees is unfolding across Pakistan. However, it is in Karachi that this intensified operation has found its epicentre.
“The government has directed law enforcement agencies to arrest Afghans living illegally in Sindh and elsewhere in the country,” Kamran Tessori, the Governor of Sindh, told the media last week.
Based on official reports released by various zonal police offices gathered by, between September 9 and September 13, more than 540 refugees living without legal status were arrested by law enforcement agencies across Karachi under the country’s Foreigner’s Act. This number could, however, be far higher as the crackdown continued till Monday.
Dozens of Afghan refugee community leaders gathered in Karachi’s Al-Asif Square on Monday, appealing to the government and the chief justice to halt the crackdown on refugees for humanitarian reasons.
“Police have been arresting community members, even those with PoR cards and ACCs, and releasing some only after taking bribes,” Haji Abdullah Bukhari, a leader of the Afghan refugee community, told In response to Governor Tessori’s remarks on undocumented refugees, Bukhari suggested a minimum grace period of six months for undocumented refugees to arrange dignified repatriation to their homeland.

Online platform X could introduce a monthly fee for all users, its owner Elon Musk said on Monday, citing the need to cut down on bots.
The tech tycoon has made multiple changes since taking over the site for $44 billion in October last year when it was known as Twitter.
He has fired thousands of employees, introduced a paid premium option, cut content moderation, and reinstated formerly banned accounts, including that of former US president Donald Trump.
He said in July the platform had lost roughly half its advertising revenue. Bots — accounts run by computer programmes rather than humans — are common on X, where they can be used to artificially amplify political messages or racial hatred.

During a talk with Musk on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised the question of online anti-Semitism, and how X could “prevent the use of bots — armies of bots — to replicate and amplify it”.
Musk replied that the company was “moving to having a small monthly payment for use of the X system.”
“It’s the only way I can think of to combat vast armies of bots,” he said.
“Because a bot costs a fraction of a penny — call it a tenth of a penny — but if somebody even has to pay a few dollars, some minor amount, the effective cost of bots is very high.
“And then you also have to get a new payment method every time you have a new bot.”
The conversation, which was broadcast on X, came as the Tesla tycoon is mired in a row with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a US-based Jewish organisation.
Musk has accused the ADL of making unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism that have scared away advertisers and hurt his company’s revenue and has threatened to sue for billions of dollars.

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