* Foreign

‘We won’t look the other way when people are beaten’, warns U.K. Foreign Minister

Escalating violence: Police using tear gas to dispel protesters in Hong Kong on Sunday. APVincent Thian

Hong Kong police fired water cannon, rubber bullets and round after round of tear gas at petrol-bomb and brick-throwing protesters on Sunday in some of the most widespread violence in more than three months of anti-government unrest.

Pitched battles in the Causeway Bay shopping district, Wan Chai bar area and the Admiralty district of central government offices followed a night of showdowns with police in the Chinese-ruled city after a peaceful pro-democracy rally turned uglyon the streets outside.

More protests are planned in the run-up to October 1, China’s National Day, marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic.

Police also fired tear gas from the roof of the Legislative Council building, which activists trashed and daubed with graffiti weeks ago.

Protesters took cover from the tear gas behind umbrellas and held their ground on Sunday, some throwing tear gas canisters back at police as a helicopter flew overhead.

They built barricades with trolleys and trash cans and other debris.

One threw a petrol bomb at police in the Wan Chai metro station. At least one petrol bomb landed in the grounds of central government offices, where several windows were smashed.

Protesters shouted anti-China slogans and called for their “five demands, not one less” of the government, including universal suffrage and the dropping of all charges against their arrested colleagues.

Lam to leave for Beijing

The city’s leader, Carrie Lam, the focus of anti-government unrest, will leave for Beijing on Monday to celebrate the National Day.

Meanwhile, Britain has said it will not ignore the treatment of protesters in Hong Kong when they are beaten indiscriminately, Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said on Sunday.

“We wont look the other way, when the people of Hong Kong are beaten indiscriminately on commuter trains for exercising the right to peaceful protest,” Mr. Raab said.

Gunman was shot dead after he refused to surrender

A file photo of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman followed by his bodyguard Maj. Gen. Abdelaziz al-Fagham in Riyadh.APYoan Valat

A prominent bodyguard of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has been shot and killed at a friend’s house in what has been described as a personal dispute, according to State media.

Major General Abdelaziz al-Fagham’s death triggered an outpouring of emotion on Twitter, with some condemning the killing of the Saudi ruler’s “guardian angel”.

Maj. Gen. Fagham, who was frequently seen by the King’s side, died on Saturday evening in the western city of Jeddah, police in Mecca said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

A spokesman said that the gunman was shot dead by security forces, but that five officers were wounded in the melee that has shocked the kingdom, where gun violence is rare.

Police said the trouble broke out when Maj. Gen. Fagham was visiting a friend who was receiving guests at his home in Jeddah, the port city in western Saudi Arabia.

An acquaintance, Mamdouh al-Ali, entered the residence and an argument ensued. “The conversation between Fagham and Ali escalated... Ali left the home, came back carrying a gun and fired at Fagham, injuring two others in the household, a Filipino worker and the brother of the house’s owner,” it said.

Ali “refused to surrender” and barricaded himself in the house, exchanging shots with security forces before he was killed, it said.

The incident was triggered by a “personal dispute”, Al-Ekhbariya state television reported without giving further details.

It added that Maj. Gen. died in hospital from his injuries and that an investigation into the shooting had been launched.

The bodyguard, with his tall, slender bearing, was well known among Saudis and often pictured attending to the King.

He also guarded the late King Abdullah, taking after his father who served under the former ruler for three decades.

NPM’s Senanayake pledges legal reform and a ‘new political’ culture for the country

Mahesh Senanayake ISHARA S. KODIKARA

Former Army commander of Sri Lanka Mahesh Senanayake on Sunday announced that he would contest the November 16 presidential election, pledging legal reform and a “new political” culture for the country.

General Senanayake is being fielded by the National People’s Movement (NPM), a collective of island-wide civil society organisations that converged in late 2018, with the aim of offering a political alternative.

“The present power struggle and rivalry action among main political parties may eventually pave the way for the evolution of a brutal dictatorship, in the absence of a feasible alternative to the people of this country,” states the NPM’s preamble, adding that the country could be saved only through “a structured and an organised people’s movement”.

In the presidential race, General Senanayake will face another military officer, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the war-time Defence Secretary contesting on a ticket from the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), Deputy Leader and Minister Sajith Premadasa of the ruling United National Party (UNP), and Leader of the leftist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), Anura Dissanayake.

Mr. Senanayake is the second Army commander to throw his hat in a presidential race, after Sarath Fonseka in 2010 against former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. General Fonseka lost to Mr. Rajapaksa.

Addressing an NPM event on Sunday, General Senanayake — who served the military for nearly four decades — underscored the need to maintain peace and harmony in the interest of national security, and vowed to eliminate political interference in legal action against those violating the law.

He takes ‘do or die’ message to party

Boris Johnson OLI SCARFF

Boris Johnson vowed on Sunday he would not quit as Britain’s Prime Minister even if he fails to secure a deal to leave the European Union, saying only his Conservative government can deliver Brexit on October 31.

At the beginning of his party’s annual conference in the northern city of Manchester, Mr. Johnson wants to rally his party with the “do or die” message that he will deliver Brexit by the end of October, with or without a deal.

But there are hurdles to clear, not least of which is what Mr. Johnson calls “the surrender act” — the law Parliament passed to force the Prime Minister to request a Brexit delay if he has not secured a deal with Brussels by an October 17-18 EU summit.

Mr. Johnson again declined to explain how he plans to circumvent that law and deliver on his Brexit promise.

“People can feel that this country is approaching an important moment of choice and we have to get on and we have to deliver Brexit on October the 31st... I’m going to get on and do it,” he told BBC television.

Asked if he would resign to avoid having to ask for a delay, Mr. Johnson said: “No, I have undertaken to lead the party and my country at a difficult time and I am going to continue to do that. I believe it is my responsibility.”

Opposition lawmakers have been highly critical of Mr. Johnson’s reference to “the surrender Bill”, saying his language is stirring even more division in a country that has remained split since the 2016 referendum on EU membership.

Election fever

More than three years after Britain voted to leave the EU, both the governing Conservative Party and others are getting ready for an early election, widely expected to be held before the end of the year to break the Brexit deadlock.

Polling firm Opinium said the main opposition Labour Party gained 2 percentage points after its conference in Brighton last week, but the Conservatives still held a 12-point lead.

If there is no clear winner in final tally, a second round of polling will be held

The countdown begins: Election workers counting ballots at a polling station in Kabul on Saturday.APRahmat Gul

Presidential elections are over, and Afghanistan now faces a period of uncertainty and possible political chaos. Saturday’s vote was marred by violence, Taliban threats and widespread allegations of mismanagement and abuse. It was the fourth time Afghans have gone to the polls to elect a President since 2001 when the U.S.-led coalition ousted a regressive Taliban regime.

The latest election seems unlikely to bring the peace sought by Afghans, tired of an increasingly brutal war, or an easy exit for the U.S., seeking to end its longest military engagement.

The preliminary vote count won’t be known before October 17 and the final tally on November 7. If there is no clear winner, a second round of voting will be held.

Initial estimates and observations at polling stations suggest a light turnout among 9.6 million eligible voters.

Afghanistan’s National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib said that those who turned up at polling stations “risked their lives to show that they want to be in control of their own future.”

For Afghans, Saturday’s vote mirrored the deeply flawed 2014 presidential polls.

Then and now

Then, like now, the leading rivals for president were Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah; then, like now, allegations of widespread fraud and a deeply flawed and sloppy election process swirled over the voting; then, like now, violent attacks marred voting, even forcing the closure of some polls. This time roughly 468 polling centers were not opened because it wasn’t possible to secure them against Taliban attacks.

The next step in the process is to bring the votes from across the country to the Independent Election Commission compound in the capital Kabul, where they will be counted again. The initial counting and recording was done at the site of the polling and then the ballots were transferred to district centers and finally to the capital.

In a country at war, Afghanistan’s security agencies say the exercise is a difficult and in some areas painfully slow process. Mr. Abdullah said his biggest worry was ballot box stuffing.

When discourses are given about divine weddings, it is the name of the Goddess that serves as a prefix to the title of the discourse. For example, we talk of the wedding of Rukmini. But we do not refer to the wedding as Krishna’s wedding. But there is one exception to this rule, and that is Lord Srinivasa of Tirumala. We do not say it is Padmavathi’s marriage, but we say it is the marriage of Srinivasa. That is because Srinivasa did penance to wed Padmavathi, said V.S. Karunakarachariar, in a discourse.

There was a sage called Kusadhwaja, who spent all his time in reciting the Vedas. He had one ardent desire. He wanted to bring up a daughter and give her in marriage to Lord Narayana. Such was the greatness of this rishi, that the Vedas themselves decided to become embodied as his daughter. A little girl child emerged out of his mouth, and he named her Vedavathi, and brought her up. Such was her beauty, that the celestials asked her father for her hand in marriage. But he turned down all these proposals. One day an asura asked the rishi to get Vedavathi married to him. The rishi refused and was killed by the asura. The sage’s wife died too. But Vedavathi was still firm in her resolve to wed the Lord. She did penance to attain Him. Ravana, who was passing by, was taken in by her beauty and approached her expressing his desire. But she refused to be swayed by his pleas. He then decided to take her away, and pulled her by her hair. Such was the power of her penance, that her hair cut his hand like a sword, and caused it to bleed. Vedavathi escaped from his clutches and immolated herself. It was this Vedavathi who was later born as Padmavathi, and Lord Srinivasa performed tapas to wed Her. Thus, her father’s desire to get her married to Vishnu was fulfilled in Kali Yuga.

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