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Apple rallies to $1 trillion, and Israel bars fuel and gas supply in Gaza 

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China’s most senior Buddhist monk has been accused of sexual harassment, and the ‘new Singapore’ to India’s south.   

‘A significant milestone for Apple, but not the most important’ 

Apple Inc. Thursday became the first $1 trillion publicly listed US company, “crowning a decade-long rise fuelled by its ubiquitous iPhone that transformed it from a niche player in personal computers into a global powerhouse spanning entertainment and communications”, Reuters reported.

“In a memo to Apple’s more than 120,000 employees… chief executive Tim Cook said the $1 trillion valuation was ‘a significant milestone’ that gave Apple employees ‘much to be proud of’. But he said it was ‘not the most important measure’ of the company’s success,” the report added.

The company was valued at $350 billion at the time of founder Steve Jobs’ death. Under Cook, it has almost trebled its market value. While Apple does enjoy a significant position in the market, a number of other companies are not far behind. Inc., Alphabet Inc. and Microsoft Corp. are valued at more than $800 billion each.

Pope Francis says capital punishment ‘unacceptable’

Marking a major shift in papal directives, Pope Francis has declared that the death penalty is unacceptable, irrespective of the charges or the case, The New York Times reported.

“Before, church doctrine accepted the death penalty if it was ‘the only practicable way’ to defend lives, an opening that some Catholics took as licence to support capital punishment in many cases,” the report added.

Saying that capital punishment is undignified, the pope introduced the change in the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, a book of doctrine studied by Catholic children and adults worldwide.

This position of the papacy will affect the stand of a number of Catholic politicians and judges who have so far justified the death penalty.

The abolition of capital punishment has been a priority for the Pope.

Students protest two deaths in Bangladesh road crash

In Bangladesh, the death of two students in a road crash last month has sparked widespread protests, Bangladeshi newspaper Prothom Alo reports. The duo was killed and eight to 10 people injured as a bus ploughed into a crowd on a Dhaka road on 29 July.

Students from nearly 20 colleges have since been out on the streets demanding capital punishment for the bus driver. The students, who have also engaged in vandalism, have blocked most of the major intersections in the capital city. The blockade and disruptions have debilitated travel in the city.

The protests have also spread to other cities, namely Chittagong and Sylhet.

Israel bans entry of fuel and gas in Gaza Strip

Israel has blocked the supply of fuel and gas to the besieged Gaza Strip. According to local media, the move is Israel’s bid to “retaliate” against Palestinians setting fire to Israeli land, Al Jazeera reported.

Israel defence minister Avigdor Lieberman has ordered a halt in shipments via the partially sealed off Karem Abu Salem commercial border crossing. The decision, which came into effect Thursday, will continue until further notice.

On Wednesday, at least 19 fires were reported from Israeli territory just beyond the fence from Gaza Strip as Palestinians “used flaming objects attached to kites to set fire to agricultural land just over the fence”. The incendiary agitation stems from protests in Gaza over the aerial, land and naval blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt over a decade ago.

“On 9 July, Israel shut down the sole commercial crossing to the besieged Palestinian territory, cutting the supply of essential commodities to the nearly two million residents,” the report added.

Buddhist monk accused of sexual abuse by ‘controlling minds’

One of the highest-ranking Buddhist monks in China has been accused of harassing several nuns and forcing them into sexual relations by “controlling their minds”, The Global Times reported.

Accused Shi Xuecheng is the abbot of Longquan Temple, and the head of the Buddhist Association of China. He also serves as a national political adviser.

According to nuns Shi Xianjia and Shi Xianqi of the temple, the monk also sexually harassed several of their peers and sent illicit messages while forcing them to have sexual relations with him.

In response, 51-year-old Xuecheng, who claims to have taken a vow of celibacy, posted a brief statement Wednesday night, denying all allegations on his verified account on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, CNN reported.

Meanwhile, the government in China is said to have censored reports about the episode on social media. The reports contained several examples of explicit messages purportedly sent by Xuecheng to at least six nuns.

China is building a new port city in Sri Lanka

China is set to build a mega port city, called, well, Port City, in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, The Guardian reports.

Port City is planned on land reclaimed from the Indian Ocean, and will be double Colombo’s size. It will be built under Chinese president Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, and marks the largest single foreign direct investment in Sri Lankan history — $1.4 billion.

The city will be designed as a smaller Singapore, with its own business-friendly tax regime and regulations — and quite possibly a different legal system frp, the rest of Sri Lanka.

Earlier, Colombo borrowed about $8 billion from Beijing, which was largely spent developing former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s home district of Hambantota. Unable to repay the debts, Sri Lanka was forced to lease the strategic Hambantota port to China for 99 years.

New Zealand will help Nepal re-measure Mt Everest

The height of the world’s highest peak will be re-measured in a two-year survey to be jointly undertaken by New Zealand and Nepal, The Kathmandu Post reports .

This decision comes after several experts said the height, currently said to be 8,848 metres, had fallen by approximately three centimeters after the horrific 2015 earthquake.

Starbucks has competition in China

The American coffee chain giant Starbucks might be in for serious competition in China if a promising new brand continues its aggressive expansion, The Global Times reports.

Luckin Coffee, launched this January, has already managed to open 809 stores across 13 cities. The most distinguishable aspect of Luckin Coffee is its online delivery service — it claims it delivers in 18 minutes — as also its low prices.

“In the future we will have more cafes than Starbucks,” the fledgling company’s founder Qian Zhiya was quoted as saying by Reuters.

The company uses exotic arabica beans from Ethiopia for its beverages.

However, recent reports have confirmed Starbucks’ decision to venture into online delivery in China by collaborating with, a food delivery platform owned by the Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

Contributors: Sankalita Dey, Aastha Singh and Avishek Jha.

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