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Landslide Early Warnings issued to Badulla, Galle, Kegalle, Kurunegala and Matale Districts

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The National Building Research Organisation (NBRO) has issued Level I landslide early warnings to Badulla, Galle, Kegalle, Kurunegala and Matale Districts.

Accordingly, Divisional Secretaries divisions of  Passara in the Badulla district, Baddegama, Elpitiya, Nagoda and Yakkalamulla in the Galle district, Yatiyanthota, Rambukkana, Deraniyagala, Mawanella, Kegalle and Galigamuwa in the Kegalle district, Rideegama, Mawathagama, Alawwa and Polgahawela in the Kurunegala district and Pallepola in the Matale district have been issued with Leevel I landslide early warnings.



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Defiant Trump turns up at $250m New York fraud trial to blast ‘scam’

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Former President Donald Trump attended the trial at the New York Superior Court on Monday (02) (pic BBC)

Former President Donald Trump has attacked a judge and prosecutor in a day of courtroom drama as he attended the opening of a fraud trial that could threaten his business empire.

On entering the room on Monday dressed in a blue suit, Mr Trump – who turned up voluntarily – looked ahead as he walked past the prosecutor who brought the case. State’s attorney general Letitia James, sitting in the front row, averted her gaze. Their paths did not cross for the rest of opening statements as both sides laid out their case.

Mr Trump, the Trump Organization, several executives and two of his children – Donald Jr and Eric – are the defendants in the civil trial in New York Superior Court. They are accused of fraud, falsification of business records, issuing false financial statements and conspiracy.

As the trial got under way, the former president occasionally glanced in the direction of Judge Arthur Engoron as he addressed the court.

Moments beforehand, in a tirade outside court that echoed across the chamber, Mr Trump had called the judge a “rogue adjudicator”.

Ms James was not spared either in his remarks to reporters at the top of the courtroom steps. “It’s a scam, it’s a sham. Just so you know, my financial statements are phenomenal,” Mr Trump added. “There was no crime – the crime was against me.”

Given the former president’s personal attacks, observers expected a tense atmosphere in the cramped confines of the court. But the three key figures in the legal drama had minimal direct interactions.

While prosecutors set out their case, Mr Trump for the most part sat still, occasionally whispering to his legal team.

Ms James kept her eyes on the lawyer unveiling a visual presentation that accompanied her team’s opening statements.

Proceedings began with her team accusing Mr Trump and his co-defendants of intentionally and persistently committing fraud, which reaped Mr Trump over $100m (£82.7m).

Last week Judge Engoron ruled against Mr Trump in a central claim of the lawsuit, finding that he had overvalued his properties by hundreds of millions of dollars in order to get favourable bank loans.

Mr Trump’s lawyers took the stand shortly afterwards, attacking the New York attorney general’s arguments. Alina Habba said Ms James’ goal as attorney general was to “go to work, get Trump and go home”.

She claimed that Mr Trump did not inflate the value of his assets – including his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Real estate was malleable, she said, and his properties were “Mona Lisas” – Mar-a-Lago would sell for at least a billion dollars, she argued.

But before lunch, proceedings turned increasingly fractious. Mr Trump’s attorney, Chris Kise, argued with Judge Engoron about issues including whether expert opinion counted as testimony.

And Ms Habba’s attacks on Ms James drew Judge Engoron’s ire. The judge said he had already dismissed claims that the suit was politically motivated.

The afternoon in court proved calmer, with former Trump accountant Donald Bender testifying as the first witness called by the attorney general’s office. Mr Bender said he had worked on Trump’s tax returns and completed accounting work for Mr Trump’s corporate entities. He testified in a criminal trial against the Trump Organization in Manhattan last year, claiming the company sought to evade taxes on bonuses and other luxury benefits.

His two-hour testimony on Monday – largely focused on technical questions about his work for the Trump Organization – capped off the first day of the three-month long trial.

The case will be decided by Judge Engoron, not a jury. None of the defendants will face jail time if convicted, because this is a civil case not a criminal one.

Ms James is seeking $250m (£207m) and sanctions that could prevent the Trumps from doing business in the state of New York. There is even the possibility that Mr Trump could lose some of the properties that have become a signature part of his brand. The stakes could not be higher.

(BBC)

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Nobel Prize goes to scientists behind mRNA Covid vaccines

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Professors Drew Weissman (left) and Katalin Kariko (pic BBC)

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to a pair of scientists who developed the technology that led to the mRNA Covid vaccines.

Professors Katalin Kariko and Drew Weissman will share the prize.

The technology was experimental before the pandemic, but has now been given to millions of people around the world to protect them against serious Covid-19. The same mRNA technology is now being researched for other diseases, including cancer.

The Nobel Prize committee said: “The laureates contributed to the unprecedented rate of vaccine development during one of the greatest threats to human health in modern times.”

Both were told they had won by telephone this morning and were said to be “overwhelmed”.

(BBC)

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Two officers injured in blast outside interior ministry in Turkey

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The explosion happened just hours before parliament was due to reconvene (pic BBC)

An explosion outside Turkey’s interior ministry in the capital, Ankara, was a “terrorist attack”, the interior minister has said.

Two attackers arrived in a commercial vehicle around 09:30 (06:30 GMT) and carried out the attack injuring two officers, Ali Yerlikaya said. He added that an attacker blew himself up in front of a ministry building and another was “neutralised”.

The explosion happened just hours before parliament was due to reconvene. It is not clear who the attackers were. No-one has claimed the attack.

A senior Turkish official told Reuters news agency the attackers had hijacked the vehicle and killed its driver in Kayseri, a city 260km (161 miles) south-east of Ankara.

One of the injured officers suffered shrapnel injuries, he added.

The first media reports of an explosion also spoke of gunfire heard in the area. Emergency services rushed to the scene, with police blocking several surrounding roads.

Ankara police said it was carrying out “controlled explosions” of “suspicious packages” to prevent other explosions.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan mentioned the attack in his speech during Sunday’s opening of parliament: “The attack this morning where two villains were neutralised as a result of the timely intervention of our security units is the final flutters of terrorism. “The vile people who took aim at the peace and security of our citizens did not reach their goal and they never will.”

The Turkish parliament is expected to ratify Sweden’s entry into Nato during the autumn session.

Turkey dropped its opposition to Sweden’s application in July, having opposed it for months over arguments it hosted Kurdish militants. Militants, mainly from the banned Kurdish Workers Party, used to carry out frequent attacks across the country.

The group has come under intense pressure by the authorities, who have jailed its leaders and conducted military operations against Kurdish bases inside Turkey and across the border in Syria and Iraq.

(BBC)

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