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Multiple people, including gunman, dead in shooting at US store

Several people were killed and others were injured in a shooting at a Walmart store in Chesapeake, Virginia, on Tuesday night, and the shooter is dead, Chesapeake police said.

The outburst of gun violence in the city of Chesapeake comes just before Americans celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, and follows another mass shooting at an LGBTQ club in Colorado late on Saturday that left five people dead.

At 10:12pm, police responded to a report of a shooting inside a Walmart, public information officer Leo Kosinski said in a media briefing, adding that “less than 10” people were dead but declining to give the exact number.

It was not clear whether the shooter, who has not been identified, died of self-inflicted injuries. Kosinski said no shots were fired at police “to his knowledge”.

“Chesapeake police confirm an active shooter incident with fatalities at the Walmart on Sam’s Circle. The shooter is deceased,” the City of Chesapeake said.

Walmart said in a statement early on Wednesday that it was “shocked” at the incident at its Chesapeake store, and that it was working closely with law enforcement.

“We’re praying for those impacted, the community and our associates. We’re working closely with law enforcement, and we are focused on supporting our associates,” the company said on Twitter.

A spokesperson for Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, which has the area’s top trauma center, told local television station WAVY that five patients were being treated there.

The police department did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

‘Senseless violence

Virginia state Senator Louise Lucas, who represents the region, said she was “absolutely heartbroken that America’s latest mass shooting took place in a Walmart in my district in Chesapeake, Virginia tonight”.

“I will not rest until we find the solutions to end this gun violence epidemic in our country that has taken so many lives,” she said on Twitter.

The shooting occurred at a major retailer less than 48 hours before Americans nationwide celebrate Thanksgiving.

“Tragically, our community is suffering from yet another incident of senseless gun violence just as families are gathering for Thanksgiving,” tweeted US congressman Bobby Scott of Virginia.

Gun violence occurs at an alarming rate in the United States, where more than 600 mass shootings have occurred so far in 2022, according to the Gun Violence Archive website.

PM Office receives summary for top military appointments

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Wednesday morning confirmed that it had received the summary from the Ministry of Defence with a “panel of names” for the appointment of the new chief of army staff (COAS) and the chairman joint chief of staff committee (CJCSC).

“The prime minister will take a decision on the appointments as per the laid down procedure,” the early morning statement said.

Defense Minister Khawaja Asif tweeted the same late on Tuesday night, saying that the summary had been forwarded to the PMO from the defense ministry. “The rest of the steps will be completed soon,” he said.

The development comes hours after the military confirmed that it had dispatched the summary to the defense ministry.

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Although multiple ministers spent Tuesday denying the impression that the summary had been received by the PMO, the brief missive from Inter-Services Pub­lic Relations simply stated: “GHQ has forwarded the summary for selection of CJCSC and COAS, containing names of 6 senior most Lt Gens, to MoD.”

Although the communique did not mention which six names have been forwarded, it is believed that the six men currently in the running to be the next chief of army staff are (in order of seniority) Lt Gen Asim Munir (currently Quarter Master General), Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza (Commander 10 Corps), Lt Gen Azhar Abbas (Chief of General Staff), Lt Gen Nauman Mehmood (NDU Presi­dent), Lt Gen Faiz Hamid (Commander Baha­walpur Corps), and Lt Gen Mohammad Amir (Com­mander Gujranwala Corps).

Earlier, participating in a TV talk show, the defence minister said there were no differences between the army and government and the concerns being expressed by various quarters in that regard were unfounded.

A day earlier, several PML-N leaders, including for­mer prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, had indicated that the army was impeding the process.

But the defence minister said he had conveyed to Abbasi that his concerns would be allayed.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is, moreover, expected to hold a consultation with outgoing army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Thursday on the selection of his successor. It is a convention that the prime minister holds this discussion with the outgoing chief, however, it is described as “informal consultation”.

A special meeting of the federal cabinet has also been convened for Thursday to deliberate on the appointments. The government had earlier planned to complete the process by Friday.

The prime minister would after making the choice advise President Arif Alvi to appoint the general as the next army chief. It remains to be seen if the president would agree with the advice or send it back for reconsideration.

Jamia Masjid In Kargil’s Drass Damaged In Massive Fire

Srinagar: A massive fire broke out at a prominent mosque in Ladakh’s Kargil district today, damaging most of the structure.

In visuals, the fire appears to have engulfed the entire compound and the building at the Jamia Masjid in Kargil’s Drass.

People tweeted that the police, residents and firefighters are trying to put out the fire.

Later, the fire was later doused with the help of the army, police and the fire department, news agency ANI reported. It said the fire damaged the masjid to a big extent.

the deficiency of arrangements to extinguish fire, raises questions. keeping exploitation of Muslims in the Modi regime, beyond this incident, also seems to be linguistically offensive.

Xi spat with Trudeau lays bare China’s frayed ties with Canada

Chinese President Xi Jinping scolded Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in an on-camera dressing down at the G20 summit, an unusual public spat that could further complicate the strained relations between the two countries.

Footage recorded by reporters at the Bali conclave for world leaders on Wednesday showed Xi upbraiding Trudeau after details of a discussion between the two leaders were leaked to the media.

Trudeau had on Tuesday raised with Xi the issue of what he called Chinese “interference” with Canadian citizens after Ottawa in recent weeks accused Beijing of meddling with its democratic and judicial systems.

In the one-minute video clip recorded on the sidelines of the Indonesian summit, Xi tells Trudeau through an interpreter: “Everything we discussed has been leaked to the papers. That is not appropriate.”

Speaking evenly and wearing a slight smile, Xi says: “And that’s not the way (our discussion) was conducted, was it? “If there is sincerity, we can have conversations based on an attitude of mutual respect. Otherwise, the results will be unpredictable,” he adds, looking directly at Trudeau.

Xi then appears to try to walk past Trudeau, but the Canadian leader replies: “In Canada, we believe in free, open and frank dialogue, and that is what we will continue to have.

“We will continue to look to work constructively together, but there will be things we disagree on,” he tells Xi.

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Raising his hands, Xi cuts him off, saying bluntly: “Create the conditions. Create the conditions.” He then broadens his smile, barely looking at Trudeau as he shakes his hand and leaves his counterpart to make his way out of the room.

It is not clear when, if ever, Xi becomes aware that the conversation is being filmed.

‘Awkward position’

The tone was akin to “a great power speaking to a less-great power”, said Van Jackson, senior lecturer in international relations at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

“Xi’s language and body posture was not at all unusual for government officials who are on less than friendly terms — in private,” Jackson told AFP.

Tensions between China and the United States put Canada in an “especially awkward position”, he said, adding that Ottawa’s “embeddedness in the network of Anglo-Saxon, intelligence-sharing democracies all but ensures it will draw China’s ire more and more as time passes”.

Xi’s Tuesday meeting with Trudeau was the first face-to-face dialogue between the two leaders since 2019.

State of relations with Canada is Ottawa’s responsibility, says China

Meanwhile, China’s foreign ministry on Thursday said the current state of relations between Beijing and Ottawa is Canada’s responsibility.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning also told a regular media briefing that Beijing supports having frank exchanges as long as they are held on an equal basis, and said China hopes that Canada will take actions that create conditions to improve bilateral ties.

Canadian federal police said last week they were investigating so-called police stations set up illegally by Beijing in the North American country.

Trudeau also said last week China was playing “aggressive games” after Canadian broadcaster Global News reported on a “clandestine network” of federal election candidates funded by Beijing.

Relations between the two countries plunged into the deep freeze when Canadian authorities arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in 2018 for allegedly flouting US sanctions on Iran.

Beijing later detained two Canadian citizens in China, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, in what critics called a tit-for-tat response.

Meng and the two Canadians were released last year after lengthy negotiations.

Pakistani-origin journalist Amna Nawaz to join PBS’ NewsHour as anchor

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) — an American broadcaster — announced on Wednesday that a journalist of Pakistani origin, Amna Nawaz, will join Geoff Bennett as anchor of the weeknight ‘PBS NewsHour’ show after Judy Woodruff’s near-decade-long run as host ends.

More conventional than commercial TV, NewsHour reports on daily stories along with deeper magazine-style pieces. It was even parodied on a recent ‘Saturday Night Live’ segment as “we’re what your grandma’s talking about when she says, ‘I saw this on the news’.”

Washington veteran Woodruff, aged 75, would be hosting her last show — that she has been hosting since 2013 — on Dec 30.

She would hand over the role to the new anchors at the beginning of 2023 to embark on a two-year reporting project on divisions in the US.

Woodruff tweeted a photo of herself with Nawaz and Bennett.

Nawaz, 43, joined NewsHour as Woodruff’s chief substitute in 2018 and has previously worked at ABC and NBC News.

She has won Peabody Awards for her reporting on the Jan 6, 2021, insurrection and global plastic pollution.

The 42-year-old Bennett joined NewsHour earlier this year after leaving NBC. Prior to covering the White House and Congress for NBC, he used to work for NPR.

“You can’t understate the importance of this moment,” Nawaz was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

“It is an enormous change for an incredible institution that doesn’t do this change often. On that level, I think both of us understand very deeply what we are taking on.”

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Bennett said, “There are few places these days that cover the fullness of American life, from hard news to feature stories, the way the ‘NewsHour’ does.”

An attempt to broaden the audience

PBS CEO Paula Kerger said that the hirings are also an effort to broaden the show’s focus beyond Washington news.

“One of the strengths of the public media system is we have these stations all across the country and we have been talking about ways to leverage that,” she said. There are 179 separate licenses for PBS outlets.

The show is establishing an active presence on social media platforms — such as TikTok, Instagram and YouTube — to broaden its audience beyond the estimated two million television viewers.

According to Google Analytics and YouTube, it receives more than a million unique viewers each day on YouTube.

Sara Just, the show’s senior executive producer, said that having two anchors gives NewsHour more flexibility to use them as reporters who can travel for stories.

Since its beginning in 1975, the show has incorporated both single and co-anchors, with only a total of four people having occupied the role.

Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer co-anchored for two decades after which Lehrer took it over alone when MacNeil retired.

After Lehrer left in 2011, Woodruff and Gwen Ifill began co-hosting the show in 2013.

Following Ifill’s death in 2016, Woodruff became the only anchor of NewsHour.

Woodruff’s anchoring journey

Recoiling from the word ‘retirement’, Woodruff stated that she felt like the midterm elections seemed like the right time to “retreat”.

“I honestly wanted to step away from the anchor desk at a point where I still have the energy and enthusiasm to do some reporting that really matters to me,” she said.

Her television career had included time at NBC News and two stints at PBS surrounding a stretch at CNN.

Woodruff has been in the industry for long enough to experience blatant sexism and underestimation of women and has been able to overcome it as well.

“If I’d had any role at all in seeing one woman or one person-of-colour — who didn’t have a chance — if they’ve been able to look at the work that I’m doing and have confidence in themselves and their future and help them take the next step, I’m really proud of that,” she said.

Woodruff is being replaced at the PBS anchor desk by a Black man and a first-generation American of Pakistani descent.

She plans to take a week off before getting involved in ‘America at a Crossroads’, a two-year project that would examine the nation’s political and social divisions.

Hoping to deliver suggestions to improve things, she plans to talk to citizens and experts of all categories.

She would report what she regularly finds on NewsHour, building toward a special at the end.

Separately, Nawaz recalled meeting a young woman — who had recently started watching NewsHour — and being told that it “makes me feel so calm when I see you guys come up on the screen”.

She told Nawaz that she felt like she was about to get some information “in a way that I’m ready to recieve”.