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Over $200bn in Covid-19 small business loans stolen: US govt. watchdog

The United States lost more than $200 billion to fraud from two schemes designed to help small businesses through the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a US government watchdog report.. "We identified multiple schemes used by fraudsters to steal from the American taxpayer and exploit programs meant to help those in need," the Small Business Administration's (SBA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) said in a new report. 

UBS to cut 35,000 jobs after Credit Suisse rescue: report

Swiss banking group UBS plans to cut 35,000 jobs at Credit Suisse -- more than half its workforce -- as part of the emergency rescue takeover of its rival in March, according to a report by Bloomberg News on Tuesday.. UBS declined to comment on the reported job cuts when contacted by AFP. Combined, the two groups had around 120,000 employees at the end of last year, with 37,000 of them in Switzerland.

Pilgrims ascend Mount Arafat as hajj peaks under fierce sun

Hundreds of thousands of Muslim pilgrims crowded the rocky rise known as Mount Arafat on Tuesday to pray at the height of an annual hajj pilgrimage held in the fierce Saudi Arabian summer.. At this year's hajj, which follows the lunar calendar and is not always held in summer, a maximum age limit has also been removed, allowing thousands of elderly to attend.

Exiled group feels heat as Europe ups Iran contacts

A controversial exiled Iranian opposition group is coming under increased pressure in Europe as it nervously eyes the intensification of European talks with Tehran in search of reviving a deal on the Islamic republic's nuclear drive.. This could make it vulnerable as Europe seeks to keep contacts alive with Iran in search of a revival of the 2015 nuclear deal, an accord the MEK bitterly opposed.

Pakistan passes law paving way for return of exiled ex-PM

Pakistan's national assembly has passed legislation limiting how long lawmakers can be disqualified from office, a state spokesman said Tuesday, paving the way for exiled former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's return to politics.. Sharif served as Pakistan's prime minister three times -- the last before being ousted over graft allegations in 2017.

Russia says preparing transfer of Wagner hardware to army

Russia prepared Tuesday to take possession of heavy military hardware held by Wagner as Moscow moved to bring the mercenary group under its control after its aborted mutiny. . Prigozhin had earlier defended his aborted mutiny as a bid to save his mercenary outfit and expose the failures of Russia's military leadership -- but not to challenge the Kremlin. 

Pakistan drawn to play in India in Cricket World Cup

India will host Pakistan's cricket team for the first time in seven years in the 50-over World Cup in October, the International Cricket Council said Tuesday.. India won here 12 years ago, and I know fans nationwide can't wait for us to take the field this time," Indian skipper Rohit Sharma said - Turbulent history - India and Pakistan are bitter adversaries and only play cricket against each other in international tournaments, usually at neutral venues, due to longstanding political tensions, most recently during the T20 World Cup in Australia last year.

China censors prominent journalist who raised concerns about economy

A prominent Chinese financial journalist who has compared the country's economic problems to the Great Depression has been banned from social media.. His regular column on the website of the Chinese financial magazine Caixin has long detailed the country's economic woes, including a declining birthrate and skyrocketing youth unemployment.

Football pitch of tropical forest lost every 5 seconds

Earth lost an area of carbon-absorbing rainforest larger than Switzerland or the Netherlands in 2022, most of it destroyed to make way for cattle and commodity crops, an analysis of satellite data released Tuesday revealed.. The rest of the world combined accounted for just under 15 percent of forest lost in 2022.  mh/fb

China calls West's economic de-risking a 'false proposition'

Chinese Premier Li Qiang slammed efforts in the West to "de-risk" their economies as a "false proposition" on Tuesday, hitting back against US and EU policy aimed at reducing their reliance on China. . "In the West, some people are hyping up what is called 'cutting reliance and de-risking'," Li told delegates at the opening of a World Economic Forum meeting in northern China.