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New Zealand’s Ardern admits to cannabis use in heated debate ahead of elections

New Zealand’s ruling party leader Jacinda Ardern said she tried cannabis “a long time ago” when asked during a heated live debate on Wednesday ahead of the October 17 general elections.

Ardern, 40, is widely seen winning a second term in office on the back of her success in containing COVID-19 but her rival, conservative National Party leader Judith Collins, has been clawing back support.

New Zealanders are also voting on two other issues – on legalizing recreational cannabis and euthanasia – topics that have split opinions in the country.

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In the second election debate on Wednesday, when asked by the moderator if she has ever used cannabis, Ardern said: “Yes I did, a long time ago.”

But she said she will only reveal which way she voted on the cannabis referendum after the election.

“I made a clear decision that I want the public of New Zealand to decide this and I want this not to be about politics,” she said.

Collins, however, said she has never used cannabis and would vote against it.

Read more:

New Zealand party leaders go head-to-head in first election debate

Coronavirus: New Zealand extends COVID-19 lockdown

In the wide-ranging debate, both leaders were also asked if US President Donald Trump was a dangerous influence on the world.

Collins said Trump had done well recently on the peace deal between Israel and some Gulf nations.

“Actually that’s better than war. He hasn’t been ready to rush into war,” said Collins.

Ardern shot back saying: “It is a worry when the best thing you can say is we haven’t had war?”

Ardern last month slammed Trump’s comments that New Zealand was experiencing a surge in COVID-19 as “patently wrong.”

“The idea that we would be compared to the outbreak in the US by President Trump, I totally reject that and I stand by my response,” said Ardern, whose brand of liberal, inclusive andcompassionate leadership has led to some people labelling her “the anti-Trump.”

New Zealand has had 25 coronavirus related deaths, among the lowest in the world, while fatalities in the United States have crossed 200,000.

The comments came just hours after Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden battled fiercely in a chaotic and bad-tempered first debate marked by personal insults and Trump’s repeated interruptions.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 30 September 2020 KSA 22:54 – GMT 19:54

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Rockets target Iranian Kurdish rebels in Iraq’s Erbil, not far from US forces

Three rockets on Wednesday targeted rebel Iranian Kurdish forces not far from Erbil airport, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan and a location where US soldiers are based, two sources said.

“Tonight three rocket attacks on nearby locations of Iranian opposition” close to Erbil airport “is yet another escalation to disrupt security in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan,” Hoshyar Zebari, a former Iraqi foreign minister and a politician in northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, said on Twitter.

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There was no immediate indication of the origin of the rocket fire, but Souran Ali, a commander of the Iranian Kurdish opposition group targeted by the rockets, also said three rockets had been fired, without causing casualties.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 30 September 2020 KSA 22:41 – GMT 19:41

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Azerbaijan says one person killed, three wounded in Armenian attack

One person was killed and three wounded by Armenian fire on the town of Horadiz in southern Azerbaijan, the Azeri Prosecutor’s office said on Wednesday, as fighting continued over the breakaway territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

NATO allies France and Turkey traded angry recriminations on Wednesday as international tensions mounted over the fiercest clashes between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces since the mid-1990s.

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Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Wednesday said peace talks with Azerbaijan under Russian mediation would be inappropriate, as fighting over the breakaway Nagorno- Karabakh region entered a fourth day.

Fierce fighting broke out on Sunday between Armenian and Azeri forces over Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region inside Azerbaijan but run by ethnic Armenians. Turkey is an ally of Azerbaijian, with which it shares ethnic and cultural ties.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 30 September 2020 KSA 22:12 – GMT 19:12

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UAE leaders congratulate President of Botswana on Independence Day

ABU DHABI, 30th September, 2020 (WAM) — President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has sent a message of congratulations to President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana on the occasion of his country's Independence Day, which is observed on 30th September.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai; and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, dispatched similar messages to President Masisi, on the occasion.

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Dubai Economy fines 5 businesses and warns 3 for violating COVID-19 guidelines

DUBAI, 30th September, 2020 (WAM) — Field inspections conducted by the Commercial Compliance & Consumer Protection, CCCP, Sector in Dubai Economy across various open markets and shopping centres yesterday saw five establishments being fined and three, warned for violating precautionary guidelines relating to COVID-19.
The fines were imposed for employees’ lack of commitment to wearing masks. The violating establishments were from Nadd Al Hammar, Port Seed and Naif, and were engaged in varied activities, including retail, air-conditioning installation, wholesale trading, textiles and fabrics.
The warnings were issued for not placing the physical distancing stickers as required. Overall, inspections yesterday found that 680 shops and establishments fully complied with the precautionary measures.
Dubai Economy called on everyone to cooperate and contribute to keeping the emirate’s economy moving forward in spite of the pandemic threat. Compliance is critical to the gradual return to safe and normal commercial activity that Dubai has achieved, leading to the opening of all sectors and the economic reset in the emirate, Dubai Economy reminded, adding that stern action will be taken against any non-compliance found during its inspections, or that may be reported by consumers and the public.
Dubai Economy also called on everyone to report any non-compliance to the precautionary guidelines through the Dubai Consumer app available on the Apple, Google, and Huawei stores, by calling 600545555, or by visiting the Consumerrights.ae website.

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SCI sends 2nd batch of humanitarian aid to Sudan

SHARJAH, 30th September, 2020 (WAM) — In line with the directives of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, Sharjah Charity International, SCI, conducted the second phase of its relief campaign to Sudan.
This was conducted in coordination with the UAE embassy in Khartoum to relieve those affected by the floods that struck the country and led to the loss of human lives and destruction of property, services and health facilities.
Mohamed Hamdan Al Zari, Director of Projects Department at SCI, maintained that SCI has completed distributing the first phase of the relief programme to 10,000 affected people, as the studies carried out by the delegation showed the extent of the tragedy in Sudan.
Al Zari added that such information prompted the shipment of the second phase of the campaign, which contains 28 tonnes of food, clothes, tents and medicines, scheduled for distribution through the SCI's office in Khartoum.
Al Zari indicated that the SCI had earlier prepared lists of the numbers of beneficiaries. He stressed that the campaign was of immense help to the people of Sudan, who in response expressed their thanks for the first phase of the aid. They emphasised the role of the UAE in establishing the values of giving and extending a helping hand to those affected by disasters.
Al Zari thanked the donors who supported the campaign and donated in a way that strengthened SCI’s ability to fulfil its promises and ship the second phase, calling on donors to continue their support and contributions.

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Indian scale-ups eye partnerships with UAE entities as Dubai Tech Tour concludes

DUBAI, 30th September, 2020 (WAM) — The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry has announced the successful conclusion of the first-ever Dubai Tech Tour, a virtual trade mission joined by 15 Indian scale-ups specialising in fintech and healthtech, as several delegates are now one step closer to securing business partnerships in the Dubai market.
Organised by Dubai Startup Hub and Dubai Chamber’s representative office in Mumbai in partnership with Startup India and Mumbai Fintech Hub, the Dubai Tech Tour familiarised participating scale-ups with Dubai’s economy, business environment and competitive advantages.
During the three-week mission, the scale-ups took part in more than 160 meetings with public and private sector stakeholders from the UAE, while they also pitched their businesses to prospective investors and business partners.
A total of seven virtual events were organised as part of the Dubai Tech Tour, which was attended by over 600 participants, including 30 UAE entities. Six high-potential scale-ups were selected to participate in the third cohort of Market Access, a Dubai Startup Hub programme that fosters business partnerships between corporates and start-ups.

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Militants kill 10 Nigerian soldiers in ambush near Lake Chad town

Extremists have killed 10 Nigerian soldiers in an ambush near the town of Marte in the Lake Chad region, two security sources said on Wednesday.

Fighters from the ISIS West Africa Province (ISWAP) carrying machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades on Tuesday opened fire on a military convoy on a “logistics supply mission,” they said.

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“The terrorists killed 10 soldiers, including two officers, in the ambush,” one of the sources, told AFP.

Eight soldiers were injured, said a second source who gave the same death toll.

The convoy was on its way to deliver food and other supplies to troops in the region when it was attacked, said the sources who asked not to be identified.

The insurgents looted the supplies and set two trucks ablaze before retreating into the bush, they said.

They said the attack could be a reprisal for recent aerial bombings on the group’s camps in the Marte region in which several members, including three commanders, were killed.

ISWAP split from main Boko Haram faction in 2016.

It has camps in islands on Lake Chad and the marshy area is known to be the group’s bastion.

ISWAP has recently stepped up attacks on military and civilian targets.

On Friday, the militants killed 30 people, including security personnel, when they ambushed the convoy of regional governor Babagana Umara Zulum near Baga, a town on the lake’s shore.

At least 36,000 people have been killed and around two million displaced in the decade-long jihadist conflict in Nigeria’s northeast.

The violence has spilled into neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military coalition to be formed to fight the insurgents.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 30 September 2020 KSA 22:12 – GMT 19:12

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Coronavirus: UAE announces 3 deaths, 1,100 new COVID-19 cases

The United Arab Emirates has announced three more deaths and 1,100 new COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours on Wednesday, according to health officials.

The 1,100 new coronavirus infections were detected after health authorities conducted 105,615 additional COVID-19 tests over the past 24 hours.

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With the new cases detected, the total number of cases of COVID-19 in the UAE now stands at 94,190.

“The [Ministry of Health and Prevention] MoHAP also announced three deaths due to COVID-19 complications, bringing the total number of deaths in the country to 419,” a statement published by the Emirates News Agency (WAM) read.

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“The Ministry expressed its sincere condolences to the family of the deceased and wished COVID-19 patients a speedy and full recovery, calling on all members of the society to cooperate with health authorities, adhere to the instructions and physical distance to ensure the health and safety of all,” the statement added.

Health officials also confirmed an additional 1,186 individuals had fully recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries to 83,724.

Read more:

Coronavirus: UN’s Guterres calls for ‘immediate infusion’ of $15 bln for vaccine fund

Coronavirus: UAE records over 24,000 COVID-19 violations in first half of September

Coronavirus: Jordan reports highest daily tally since March

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Last Update: Wednesday, 30 September 2020 KSA 22:00 – GMT 19:00

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Saif bin Zayed conveys condolences of UAE leaders to Emir of Kuwait on death of Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad

KUWAIT, 30th September, 2020 (WAM) — His Highness Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, Emir of Kuwait, received here today H.H. Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, and Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence.
Lt. General Sheikh Saif conveyed to the Emir of Kuwait and the Al Sabah family the condolences of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, on the death of Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.
The UAE leaders expressed their sincere condolences to Sheikh Nawaf and the family of the deceased and prayed to Allah Almighty to bestow mercy upon him and grant the Al Sabah family and the brotherly people of Kuwait patience and solace.
Sheikh Saif, accompanied by Sheikh Nahyan, was received upon his arrival at Kuwait International Airport by Anas Al-Saleh, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior, and Minister of State for Kuwaiti Cabinet Affairs.