In a big blow to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who recently survived a leadership challenge, two of his top ministers -- Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid -- quit the government on Tuesday.
Javid, who is of Pakistani-descent and was the former Home Secretary, quit first.
"I have spoken to the Prime Minister to tender my resignation as Secretary of State for Health & Social Care. It has been an enormous privilege to serve in this role, but I regret that I can no longer continue in good conscience," he said in a tweet.
Javid said he can no longer serve in Boris Johnson's government in "good conscience" as he has "lost confidence" in the Prime Minister.
Setting out his decision to quit in a letter, he wrote: "I am instinctively a team player but the British people also rightly expect integrity from their Government. The tone you set as a leader, and the values you represent, reflect on your colleagues, your party and ultimately the country. Conservatives at their best are seen as hard-headed decision makers, guided by strong values. We may not have always been popular, but we have been competent in acting in the national interest.
"Sadly, in the current circumstances, the public are concluding that we are now neither. The vote of confidence last month showed that a large number of our colleagues agree. It was a moment for humility, grip and a new direction. I regret to say, however, that it is clear to me that this situation will not change under your leadership - and you have therefore lost my confidence too."
Soon after, Sunak also put in his paper, saying "we're fundamentally too different".
In his letter, he said "the public rightly expect the government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously. I believe these standards are worth fighting for and that is why I am resigning."
Noting that "our country is facing immense challenges", he said: "I publicly believe the public are ready to hear that truth. Our people know that if something is too good to be true then it's not true. They need to know that whilst there is a path to a better future, it is not an easy one.
"In preparation for our proposed joint speech on the economy next week, it has become clear to me that our approaches are fundamentally too different."
"I am sad to be leaving government but I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we cannot continue like this," he added.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that India had to limit the loan assistance given to the crisis-hit island nation in the wake of the recent global crises, including the ongoing Ukraine-Russia war.
"Due to the recent global crises, this situation has become more acute and we, who were in the frying pan, have now fallen into the oven. Due to the Ukraine-Russia war, our problem has worsened. What has happened now is the addition of an international crises on top of our crisis," Wickremesinghe said while addressing Parliament on Monday.
"This situation is not unique to us. This affects other countries as well. India and Indonesia are also affected by this global crisis. Therefore, India has had to limit the loan assistance that they have given to us," he explained.
The premier went on to say that a donor-aid conference would be organised bringing together India, China and Japan, the friendly countries that have helped Sri Lanka in the wake of the worst economic crisis since it gained independence from the British in 1948.
The conference comes as the country is preparing a four-year comprehensive loan assistance programme after getting the approval of IMF Board of directors.
Wickremesinghe warned that unlike previous occasions where Sri Lanka held talks with the IMF as a developing country, now it is "in the negotiations as a bankrupt country".
He said the country's economy is presently shrinking and according to central bank statistics, the current economic growth rate is between negative four and negative five.
"According to IMF statistics, it is between negative six and negative seven. This is a serious situation. If we make a determined journey along this road map, we can achieve an economic growth rate of negative one by the end of 2023," he said.
"By 2025, our aim is to create a surplus in the primary budget. Our effort is to raise the economic growth rate to a stable level. Our expectation is to establish a stable economic base by 2026."
According to the Prime Minister, Sri Lanka has to pay $3.4 billion between June and December this year, $5.8 billion in 2023, $4.9 billion in 2024, $6.2 billion in 2025, $4.0 billion in 2026 and $4.3 billion in 2027.
The total debt burden of the government at the end of 2021 was 17.5 trillion LKR and by March 2022, it increased to 21.6 trillion LKR, he added.
Hitting out at the opposition parties, BJP chief J.P. Nadda on Saturday said that while opposing the Prime Minister they have started opposing the country.
Nadda was speaking at two days BJP's National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting which started here on Saturday.
Speaking about Nadda's inaugural address, Union Minister Smriti Irani said, "While our president spoke about constructive politics of BJP under the leadership of Prime Minister he reflected on the destruction opposition parties are thrusting upon the people of the country. That the opposition is mostly family oriented. Opposition parties have time and again tried to ensure that the policies and programmes of the government which are dedicated to building a resurgent India, are met with destruction and disruption."
"Nadda ji said that while opposing Prime Minister Modi, they (opposition parties) have started opposing the country. It is unfortunate that opposition parties are unaware about the responsibility."
Irani also said that Nadda in his address paid homage to BJP workers of West Bengal and Kerala who met with many challenges and were slaughtered and assaulted, while party workers in Jammu and Kashmir confronted those who wanted to break India.
She further said that during his address, the BJP chief mentioned the pro-poor welfare policies of the Modi government.
"BJP chief spoke elaborately on government schemes on Jan Dhan Yojana which has provided economic support to close to 45 crore people, PM Awas Yojana which provided more than three crore houses, Ayushman Bharat and others," Irani said.
She said that Nadda also congratulated the BJP workers in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa for their majestic win in recent state assembly polls.
Dipendra Bahadur Chhetri, the former Governor of Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), has said that the situation of Nepal's economy is not like that of Sri Lanka.
However, if the political rights are given to the wrong persons like in Sri Lanka, there is a possibility of Nepal becoming the next Sri Lanka, he said, Republica reported.
Speaking at an interaction programme on the current economic situation in Nepal held in Kathmandu, Chhetri said the present situation in Sri Lanka is due to arbitrary tax rates imposed by the same family as the president, prime minister and finance minister.
He also mentioned that Nepal should not be associated with Sri Lanka as it has just held local elections and is now preparing to hold federal and provincial elections, Republica reported.
Similarly, the former central bank Governor said that Nepal's foreign exchange reserves, SDRs and gold in foreign currency accounted for seven months of imports to meet the growing imports and consumption of petroleum products.
Likewise, he doubted that the forthcoming monetary policy to be introduced by the NRB would be as extensive as in the past. He said that the loans given by the banks to expand the capacity of the industry were used for import.
Critics think that Beijing has shattered this promise in recent years with a restrictive national security law and electoral reforms which allow only "patriots" to run for Hong Kong's leadership, BBC reported.
The 2020 law followed massive pro-democracy protests in 2019, which included violent clashes between demonstrators and police.
Now, observers say, there is a slim hope for a more democratic political system and they fear that the character of the city has fundamentally changed, with Beijing in full control.
"Most Hong Kong people think that 'one country, two systems' has already disappeared," says Ted Hui, a former pro-democracy lawmaker who has fled the city, BBC reported.
Authorities say the national security law affects a minority, but Hui says it stifles Hong Kong's once-vibrant civil society.
In its wake, dozens of groups, including political parties and unions, have disbanded. The annual candlelight vigil commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and the July 1 handover anniversary march have been effectively banned by authorities.
Several pro-democracy media outlets, including Apple Daily and Stand News, have closed down in the past year, BBC reported.
Hong Kong, once a beacon of press freedom in Asia, was ranked 148th in the world for press freedom this year, tumbling down nearly 70 places since the previous year.
And "the city of demonstrations" -- which has a long history of peaceful protest -- has fallen silent since the national security law took effect.
"It's fair to say that no large-scale, on-the-ground protests will occur in Hong Kong in the foreseeable future," said Jeffrey Ngo, a policy and research fellow of US-based Hong Kong Democracy Council, BBC reported.
"Beginning in 2020, you have people in Hong Kong who are either in jail and therefore can't do anything, or some who try to stay out of jail so they self-censor for good reason."
Another question is whether Hong Kong can maintain its status as a leading international financial hub.
In 1997, the "pearl of the Orient" was a wealthy city whose GDP was equivalent to almost one-fifth of China's. Now it's only about 2 per cent, and Hong Kong is facing intense competition from many other Chinese cities, especially Shanghai, BBC reported.
"Twenty-five years ago when China was much less developed than it is now, Hong Kong stood out as a very developed, internationally connected city," says Louis Kuijs, chief Asia Pacific economist of S&P Global Ratings.
"Many cities have caught up with Hong Kong economically."
Kuijs says the city is still "the pre-eminent gateway in and out of China" as it has an internationally recognised legal system and financial markets that are "very open to the rest of the world".
But recent tensions with Beijing and the strict zero Covid strategy have had many asking if the city is losing its appeal with international companies.
The number of regional headquarters of international firms in Hong Kong dropped by nearly 10 per cent from 2018 to 2021. But the number of mainland Chinese companies setting up shop in the city has gone up by nearly 28 per cent.
"The face of Hong Kong is evolving and it's probably becoming a little bit less international... and a bit more mainland-oriented," Kuijs says.
Pakistan has rejected Indian media reports insinuating that the murder of a Hindu tailor in Udaipur city was somewhow linked to Islamabad.
The Foreign Office (FO) here issued a statement in response to reports appearing in a segment of the Indian media regarding investigations into the murder case, Samaa TV reported.
"We have seen reports in a segment of the Indian media referring to investigations into the murder case in Udaipur, mischievously seeking to link the accused individuals, Indian nationals, to an organization in Pakistan," the FO was quoted as saying.
"We categorically reject any such insinuations, which are typical of the BJP-RSS 'Hindutva' driven Indian regime's attempts at maligning Pakistan including by externalizing their internal issues through pointing of fingers towards Pakistan. Such malicious attempts will not succeed in misleading the people, either in India or abroad."
In a gut-wrenching incident on Tuesday, a tailor was hacked to death in broad daylight inside his shop on a crowded street in Udaipur for supporting now-suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma on social media over her controversial remarks against the Prophet.
Two persons, who allegedly posted a video claiming responsibility for the killing, have been arrested.
The US economy shrank at an annual rate of 1.6 per cent in the first quarter in the third and final estimate, the Commerce Department reported.
In the advance estimate released in late April, the decline in real GDP was 1.4 per cent. In the second estimate last month, that was revised to a decrease of 1.5 per cent, reports Xinhua news agency.
The GDP data for the first quarter marks the US economy's first contraction since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The decrease in real GDP reflected decreases in exports, federal government spending, private inventory investment, and state and local government spending, while imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.
Non-residential fixed investment, personal consumption expenditures (PCE), and residential fixed investment increased, according to the report.
"In the first quarter, an increase in Covid-19 cases related to the Omicron variant resulted in continued restrictions and disruptions in the operations of establishments in some parts of the country," the Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) said in the report.
The BEA noted that government assistance payments in the form of forgivable loans to businesses, grants to state and local governments, and social benefits to households "all decreased as provisions of several federal programs expired or tapered off".
With inflation at four-decade high, more and more economists believe that the Federal Reserve's more hawkish stance could plunge the US economy into a recession.
Even Fed Chair Jerome Powell recently said that recession is "certainly a possibility" though "it's not our intended outcome at all".
New York State Governor Kathy Hochul led by a big margin in Democratic primary election, taking one step closer to seeking a full term in November.
"I'm deeply honored to be the Democratic nominee for Governor of New York. On to November!" said Hochul on her Twitter account.
Hochul won 67.1 percent of the votes, followed by 20.6 percent for New York City public advocate Jumaane Williams and 12.3 percent for Congressman Thomas Suozzi from Long Island on Tuesday.
The data is based on results with around 50 percent of votes counted, Xinhua news agency reported.
Born in 1958, Hochul served as New York State lieutenant governor since 2015 and became governor in August 2021 as former New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned amid sexual harassment allegations.
Hochul is expected to win in the general election this November as New York State is in tight control of Democrats.
Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif has condemned allegations levelled against Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and the military by Canadian MP Tom Kmiec.
Kmiec, who belongs to the Conservative Party, in a recent speech on the floor of the Canadian Parliament, had accused COAS Bajwa of "toppling two governments in Pakistan" and claimed that the military under his command was involved in human rights abuses and had links with terrorist groups, Dawn reported.
In his address to the National Assembly, Asif said the Canadian government and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau respect Pakistan, but "if their Parliament member attacks our institution and state, then it is incumbent upon us to respond to those allegations".
Asif said the Canadian government should have itself taken notice of the remarks made by its parliamentarian, Dawn reported.
Responding to Kmiec's accusation that the previous government in Pakistan was "toppled" through military intervention, Asif said the former PTI government was removed through a constitutional process and the judiciary had also endorsed it.
He informed the House that Pakistan had raised the issue at a diplomatic level as he linked Kmiec's allegation with "Islamophobia".
"I believe the Canadian lawmaker does not represent his country or people, but if there is any such statement, there will be a reaction to it," Asif added.
The Defence Minister noted that such voices were also being raised in other parts of the world, including the UK and the US "because of hatred propagated by former Prime Minister Imran Khan".
Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday said the country's economic future was linked to the success of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) with Gwadar Port as its "main component".
At the passing out parade of the 117th Midshipman and 25th Short Service Commission course at the Pakistan Naval Academy in Karachi, he stressed the need for a "strong and vibrant" navy had become more important than ever before because of the growing blue economy, marine security and strategic defence, Dawn news reported.
"The maritime domain is continuously evolving due to technological advancements and changing geopolitical realities," the premier said, noting that these changes were taking place both globally and regionally.
"And I am glad that Pakistan Navy with its available resources continues to perform and fulfil our international obligations most effectively," he remarked.
The Prime Minister highlighted that economic progress in the country could only take place in a peaceful environment.
"It is, therefore, our government's resolve to make all necessary resources available to strengthen Pakistan Navy for making the seaward defence impregnable," Dawn news quoted Sharif as saying.
Pakistan believed in "peaceful co-existence and wanted to promote a friendly neighbourhood, he said, adding: "We do not harbour any aggressive designs against any country. However, our desire for peace must not be misconceived as a sign of weakness or indifference.
"Any disguised or unnatural arrangement for supremacy would neither succeed nor serve the purpose for peace and stability."
Amid raging incidents of gun violence in the US, the Senate has passed a gun control bill for the first time in 28 years, the media reported on Friday.
Late Thursday night, 15 Republicans joined Democrats in the upper chamber of Congress to approve the measure by 65 votes to 33, the BBC reported.
The bill will next have to clear the House of Representatives before President Joe Biden can sign it into law.
The new legislation includes a series of measures, such as tougher background checks for customers younger than 21 years; $15 billion in federal funding for mental health programmes and school security upgrades; calls for funding to encourage states to implement "red flag" laws to remove firearms from people considered a threat; and closes the so-called "boyfriend loophole" by blocking gun sales to those convicted of abusing unmarried intimate partners.
Thursday's development is also of significance as Democrats and Republicans have both equally supported proposed gun control for the first time in decades, said the BBC report.
The last significant federal gun control legislation was passed in 1994, banning the manufacture for civilian use of assault rifles and large capacity magazines. But it expired a decade later.
Addressing the chamber late Thursday, Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn said the bill would "make Americans feel safer", adding that "doing nothing is an abdication of our responsibility as representatives of the American people here in the US Senate".
In his address to the floor, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said: "This is not a cure-all for the ways gun violence affects our nation, but it is a long overdue step in the right direction."
However, the National Rifle Association (NRA , the country's most powerful gun lobby group, has opposed the bill.
The passing of the bill came hours after the Supreme Court struck down a New York state law that limits gun-carrying in public.
The 6-3 ruling found that New York's requirement for residents to prove "proper cause", or a good reason, to carry concealed firearms in public violates the US Constitution.
An individual who wants to carry a firearm outside his home may obtain an unrestricted license to "have and carry" a concealed "pistol or revolver" if he can prove that "proper cause exists" for doing so, says the ruling.
According to the latest data from Gun Violence Archive, the US has witnessed 267 mass shootings since the start of the year, with more than 20,000 lives lost to gun violence.
Uvalde, Texas, witnessed the country's third-deadliest school shooting on May 24 when an 18-year-old killed 19 children and two teachers during a rampage at the Robb Elementary School.