* Foreign

Tehran says U.S. bases, aircraft carriers in the region are within its missiles’ range

Crude shock: Smoke emanating from the Aramco facility in the eastern city of Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia. REUTERSHAMAD I MOHAMMED

Iran dismissed accusations by the United States that it was behind attacks on Saudi oil plants that risk disrupting global energy supplies and warned on Sunday that U.S. bases and aircraft carriers in the region were in range of its missiles.

Yemen’s Houthi group claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attacks that knocked out more than half of Saudi oil output or more than 5% of global supply, but U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the assault was the work of Iran, a Houthi ally.

‘Oil price may rise’

The drone strikes on plants in the heartland of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, including the world’s biggest petroleum processing facility, were expected to send oil prices up $3-$5 per barrel on Monday as tensions rise in the West Asia.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi, speaking on state TV, dismissed the U.S. allegation as “pointless”. A senior Revolutionary Guards commander warned that the Islamic Republic was ready for “full-fledged” war.

“Everybody should know that all American bases and their aircraft carriers in a distance of up to 2,000 km around Iran are within the range of our missiles,” the semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted commander Amirali Hajizadeh as saying.

State oil giant Saudi Aramco said the attack cut output by 5.7 million barrels per day, about half the kingdom’s production, at a time when Aramco is trying to ready itself for what is expected to be the world’s largest share sale.

Aramco gave no timeline for output resumption but said early on Sunday it would give a progress update in around 48 hours. A source close to the matter told Reuters the return to full oil capacity could take “weeks, not days”.

Traders and analysts said crude may spike to as high as $100 if Riyadh fails to quickly bring back supply.

The kingdom, the world’s top oil exporter, ships more than 7 million barrels of oil to global destinations every day.

Riyadh said it would compensate for the loss by drawing on reserves which stood at 188 million barrels in June.

Saudi ready to act

Mr. Pompeo said there was no evidence the attack came from Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Houthis for over four years in a conflict widely seen as a proxy war between rivals Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran.

Riyadh has accused Iran and its proxies of being behind previous attacks on oil pumping stations and the Shaybah oilfield, charges Tehran denies.

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said the attacks “did not help” prospects for a meeting between the two leaders during the United Nations General Assembly this month but did not rule out the possibility. “I’ll allow the President (Trump) to announce a meeting or a non-meeting.”

Police fire tear gas, water cannon to disperse demonstrators

Fire and fury: A protester catches fire while trying to throw Molotov cocktail over the barricades in Hong Kong.REUTERSTyrone Siu

Pro-democracy protesters rallied outside Britain’s consulate in on Sunday, urging London to do more to protect its former colonial subjects and ramp up pressure on Beijing over sliding freedoms.

Hundreds of demonstrators sang God Save the Queen and Rule Britannia outside the consulate, waving the Union Jack as well as Hong Kong’s colonial-era flags.

The protest came as another large rally made its way through the city streets on Sunday afternoon in defiance of a ban by police, who warned the gathering was illegal.

“We have a right to go to protests, to the streets, and we have to voice our demands to the government,” a secondary school student at the rally who gave his name as Alvin, said.

But the rally descended into violence when small groups of hardcore activists — known within the movement as “braves” — tried to attack the city’s main government complex. Police fired tear gas and deployed water cannon trucks after Molotov cocktails and rocks were thrown over security barriers surrounding the complex, which has become a frequent flashpoint in the ongoing protests.

As evening set in, protesters retreated, chased by riot officers and water cannon firing blue-dyed water.

The once-stable international hub has been convulsed by weeks of huge, sometimes violent rallies calling for greater democratic freedoms and police accountability.

The movement is the biggest challenge to China’s rule since the city was handed back by Britain in 1997 and shows no sign of ending, with local leaders and Beijing taking a hard line. Under a deal signed with Britain ahead of the city’s handover to China, Hong Kong is allowed to keep its unique freedoms for 50 years.

Democracy activists accuse Beijing of reneging on those promises by tightening political control over the territory and refusing calls for universal suffrage.

‘Is the EU supposed to be scared by this?’


Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted on Sunday that “huge” progress was being made in Brexit talks and declared Britain would break out of the European Union just like the comic book hero “The Incredible Hulk”.

The Conservative leader made the comments ahead of meetings with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker and EU negotiator Michel Barnier in Luxembourg on Monday.

Mr. Johnson told the Mail on Sunday he was “very confident” of getting a divorce deal at an EU summit on October 17, in time for Brexit on October 31.

In an odd analogy, he compared Britain to the Marvel Comics character Hulk — the destructive alter ego of scientist Bruce Banner who turns into the ferocious green giant when enraged or stressed.

“The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets and he always escaped, no matter how tightly bound in he seemed to be — and that is the case for this country,” he said.

But Mr. Johnson is facing strong opposition in Parliament to his threat to leave the EU without a deal on October 31 if his negotiations fail.

Many of the rebels are on his own side and on Saturday night, one of his Conservative MPs defected to the pro-European Liberal Democrats.

Former Universities Minister Sam Gyimah, who briefly ran against Mr. Johnson for the party leadership, condemned him for “veering towards populism”.

The Lib Dems, who now have 18 MPs in the 650-seat House of Commons, on Sunday voted at their party conference to reverse Brexit if they ever won a majority in Parliament.

‘Infantile comparison’

His comparison with Hulk drew derision from Guy Verhofstadt, Brexit coordinator for the European Parliament.

“Even to Trumpian standards the Hulk comparison is infantile. Is the EU supposed to be scared by this? The British public impressed?” he tweeted.

A programme in place since 1970 has successfully brought Holocaust survivors on one-week trip to Germany

Helga Melmed Paul Zinken

Berlin was the last place Helga Melmed had expected to see again.

She was 14 when the Nazis forced her and her family onto a train from their home in the German capital to the Jewish ghetto in Lodz, Poland, in 1941.

That started a gruesome odyssey that later saw her imprisoned at Auschwitz and Neuengamme outside Hamburg before she was finally freed by British soldiers in 1945 from Bergen-Belsen in northern Germany, a 46-pound walking skeleton.

For years, she never considered returning to Germany until she was invited on a trip by the city of her birth, in a reconciliation programme meant to help mend ties with former Berliners who had been forced out by the Nazis.

Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, the programme has successfully brought people like Melmed on one-week trips to Berlin to reacquaint themselves with the city. Some 35,000 people have accepted the invitation since it was first issued in 1969, and while the numbers are dwindling a few new participants still come every year.

“I thought I’d never come back,” Ms. Melmed, 91, who emigrated to the U.S. via Sweden after the war, told in an interview.

The “invitation programme for former refugees” has brought back primarily Jewish emigrants who fled the Nazis, or those like Ms. Melmed who survived their machinery of genocide.

On Wednesday, she and other former programme participants were invited to Berlin City Hall to celebrate the half-century anniversary.

At a ceremony mayor Michael Mueller thanked them for coming back despite all they suffered at the hands of the Germans.

“Many people followed our invitation, people who had lost everything they loved,” he said. “I want to express my strong gratitude to you for putting your trust in us.”

Despite scepticism at the time that anyone persecuted by the Nazis would want to return, in 1970 one year after the programme’s launch there was already a waiting list of 10,000 former Berliners who wanted to come back for a visit.

More than 100 other German cities and towns have instituted similar programmes.

In the 14th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna describes the qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas, and says one of them could be the predominant quality in a person. A person’s next birth is determined depending upon which quality predominates in him at the time of his death, said Valayapet Ramachariar in a discourse. If sattva guna is the dominant quality at the time of death, then he is born in a family which has atma jnana in his next birth. In the next birth, he will worship the Lord, and will acquire more of sattva. If rajas is the dominant quality at the time of death, then in the next birth he is born in a family which engages in actions, with a view to attaining certain results. He will then perform more actions to enjoy the fruits thereof. This behaviour keeps repeating. How can such a man experience anything but sorrow? If at the time of death, tamas dominates, then in the next birth, he is born as an animal, or bird or even a piece of vegetation, thereby being devoid of the ability to acquire knowledge. The man with sattva guna, in his next birth is born in a family whose members have jnana, and he too moves higher up getting closer to the state of being a sthitapragnya. He eventually attains liberation. The man with rajas performs tasks to enjoy the results, and he reaches svarga, is reborn, and again dies and so the cycle repeats in his case. The man with tamas keeps moving lower down, until he is born not even as an animal, but as a lower form of life, like an insect or worm or a blade of grass.

Lord Krishna says that the person who understands that it is the gunas which make us perform acts, will attain His state. In other words, when one knows that the gunas are the motivators to action, then one is released from repeated births and deaths.

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