Kazakh parliament approves renaming of capital to Nursultan

ASTANA – The Kazakh parliament approved a bill to rename the capital of Kazakhstan a

fter former President Nursultan Nazarbayev on Wednesday at a joint meeting of its two houses.

The bill was passed in two readings and the decision was announced by Nurlan Nigmatul

in, speaker of the lower house of the Kazakh parliament, state news agency Kazinform reported.

At the initiative of the new interim president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, it was dec

ided to change the name of the capital from Astana to Nursultan without a referendum.

Earlier in the day, Tokayev took office as Kazakhstan’s interim president following the sud

den resignation of Nazarbayev, who had served as the country’s president for nearly three decades.

After the inauguration, Tokayev proposed to rename the Kazakh capital in honor of the former president.

RIA Novosti news agency quoted Kazakh Justice Minister Marat Beketayev as saying

that the bill has yet to be signed into law by the president in order to become effective.

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Mobile payments continue meteoric risepayment deals has jump

Use of China’s mobile payment services has skyrocketed over the past five years, with total transactions covered reaching 277.39 trillion yua

n ($41.51 trillion) in 2018 — a more than 27-fold increase from five years ago, according to the central bank.

A total of 60.53 billion mobile payment transactions were conducted last year, as a repor

t released by the People’s Bank of China Monday shows, while the figure was only 1.67 billion back in 2013.

From around 2013, with online payments dominant and mobile payments only nas

cent, to 2018, which saw mobile payments outpacing the domestic market, it is easy to observe a mo

bilization trend in payment structures, Xue Hongyan with the Suning Institute of Finance told Securities Daily.

The number of China’s online payment deals has jumped from 23.67 billion in 2013 to 2018’s 57.01 billion, and trans

action value more than doubled to 2,126.3 trillion yuan in 2018 from 1,060.78 trillion yuan five years earlier.

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Purrfect! A smart shelter powered by AI keeps stray cats warm in

A constant temperature of 27 degrees, a water bowl that never freezes, a comfy mat, and no dogs allowed.

Those are the amenities for felines in a neighborhood in Beijing’s Sh

unyi district, where stray cats can loll around contentedly all winter, nibbling food and sipp

ing water, safe from the weather and provided with love through an artificial intelligence platform. It is purrfection.

Wan Xi, an engineer at Baidu Brain-the open AI platform of Baidu-had the idea of build

ing a smart shelter for strays when he found a kitten huddled on his car tire in the winter of 2017.

Winter is rough for stray animals, as they require extra calories to stay warm. Only around 40 perc

ent of stray cats find enough food and shelter to make it through the harsh temperatures.

Although volunteers offer water, food and even heating pads to stray animals, Beijing’s freezin

g winters can turn a bowl of water into ice before a cat can drink. Many stray cats don’t live more than two ye

ars. Those that are not neutered or spayed face more health problems and spawn more homeless cats.

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Some have said the killings robbed New Zealand of its i

innocence. But that is probably being too simplistic as we live in a complex world.

Indeed, New Zealand is about as far away as you can get from the violence we see alm

ost daily in other war-torn places. That is not to say New Zealand has been immune to violence.

The quiet seaside town of Aramoana, near Dunedin, saw 13 people gunned down in No

vember 1990 when a local resident went berserk after an argument with his next-door neighbor. Five years lat

er, in April 1995, across the Tasman Sea in Australia, there was the Port Arthur massacre on the island state of Tas

mania where 35 people were killed by a lone gunman. That was an act of pure evil rather than of hate or race.

Both acts of violence saw changes to gun laws. In Australia’s case, it w

as a radical overhaul. New Zealand will change its gun laws in 10 days, said Ardern on Monday. In N

ew Zealand, it is estimated 250,000 gun-owners own about 1.5 million firearms and the laws governing guns are weak and exploited.

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Taking into account the Trial Chamber’s conclusions reflec

ting the magnitude of Karadzic’s crimes, the Appeals Chamber is in agreement with the Prosec

ution’s position and considers that the 40‐year sentence inadequately reflects the extraordinary gra

vity of Karadžić’s crimes as well as his central and instrumental participation in four joint criminal enterprises,” said the judge.

“Given the above, the Appeals Chamber considers that the sentence of 40 years imposed by

the Trial Chamber underestimates the extraordinary gravity of Karadzic’s responsibility and his inte

gral participation in ‘the most egregious of crimes’ that were committed throughout the entire period of the con

flict in Bosnia and Herzegovina and were noted for their ‘sheer scale’ and ‘systematic cruelty,'” added Joensen.

The now 73-year-old Karadzic led the breakaway Serbian entity of Republic of Srpska, located w

ithin Bosnia, during the Balkan wars of the 1990s that were initiated by the breakup of former Yugoslavia.

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He went into hiding in 1996 and was finally arrested in 2008

Serbian capital, Belgrade. Karadzic was heavily disguised by a white beard, long

hair and spectacles, living under a false identity as a “spiritual healer.”

Karadzic is the highest-ranking political figure to have been brought to justice over the bitter ethnic conflicts of the 1990s.

Wednesday’s judgement was handed down by the UN’s international residual mechanism for cr

iminal tribunals, which deals with cases left over from the now dissolved courts for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

In November 2017 the court also sentenced former Bosnian Serb army leader Ratko Mladi

c to life in prison after finding him guilty of genocide for atrocities committed during the Bosnian war from 1992 to 1995.

Mladic was charged with two counts of genocide and nine crim

es against humanity and war crimes for his role in the conflict in the former Yugoslavia fro

m 1992 to 1995, during which 100,000 people were killed and another 2.2 million displaced.

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he family of five had moved to Christchurch last July afte

fleeing fighting in Syria and spending years in a refugee camp in Jordan. They secured their v

isa for New Zealand under the country’s refugee program, said Ali Akil from Syrian Solidarity New Zealand.

Their new life lasted eight months.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern referred to the Mustafas during a

news briefing Wednesday, on her second visit to the city since Friday’s attack.

In the hours after the attack, Ardern said she’d been briefed on the victims and that a family of Syrian refugees, “should have been safe here.”

First burials

Khaled and Hamza Mustafa were the first of the 50 victims to be buried, five days after the massacre.

Some families have grown increasingly impatient about the length

of time authorities are taking to complete the autopsies and release bodies.

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At smaller services, shovels are used to move the dirt. So

many people attended Wednesday’s service that Akil said guests were invited to throw a small handful each.

Zaid was too weak to hold a shovel, Akil said, so one was taken to him, piled with dirt.

‘It’s their names we need to keep telling’

Zaid stayed to accept condolences before being taken back to Christchurch Hospital, A

kil said. It’s likely to be some time before he’s well enough to return to Cashmere High School, which his brother also attended.

Ardern visited Cashmere High on Wednesday to address the students who’ve been payi

ng tribute to Hamza and another classmate who was killed, Sayyad Milne, 14. Former student Tariq Omar, 24, also died.

New Zealand terror suspect planned third attack, police chief says

“You know some of the young people who lost their lives on Friday,” Ardern told the students. “It’s their names and their stories we need to keep telling.”

The prime minister invited questions from the assembly. The first was: “How are you?”

“Thank you for asking,” Ardern said. “I’m very sad.”

New Zealand will fall silent for two minutes this Friday to remember the victims of the massacre.

The call to prayer will be also broadcast over national television and radio uniting a country wracked by grief one week on.

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No-deal Brexit happens next week and no one knows if the EU

is deep into its most crucial week since the last one.

On Thursday, Theresa May travels to Brussels to meet with the remaining 27 EU leaders, where she is expected to request an extension to Article 50, the legal

process by which Britain is leaving the EU. If the EU27 agree, as they probably will, Brexit will be delayed beyond the current deadline of March 29. Lea

ving aside the gravity of this epic failure of British Brexit policy, the key question is how long will the delay last?

There are two likely options. The first is a short delay, which Downing Street said on Wedne

sday it would request. This would give the UK government a little more time to get its Withdrawal Agr

eement through Parliament, perhaps sweetened with some changes to the accompanying political declaration.

Or, the EU could offer May a much longer extension, possibly lasting years, to give to the UK more breathing space in which to u

ntangle its Brexit mess. The EU says it would only grant a longer delay if there was a good reason for doing so.

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The day after the attack in Christchurch, Ardern wore a h

  ijab as she stood in the center of a room, surrounded by families desperate to hear words of reassurance. They were tired, worried and m

any were grieving loved ones presumed killed in the hail of bullets fired by a man who singled them out for their beliefs.

  Even before she said a word, Ardern’s simple decision to cover

her hair served to show families she respected them and wanted to ease their pain.

  ”People were quite surprised. I saw people’s faces when she was wearing the hijab — th

ere were smiles on their faces,” said Ahmed Khan, a survivor of the attack who lost his uncle at the Al Noor mosque.

  Ali Akil, a member of Syrian Solidarity New Zealand who came to Christc

hurch to support the community, said wearing the hjiab was “a symbolic thing.”

  ”It’s saying I respect you, what you believe, and I’m here to help,” he said. “I’m very impressed.”

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