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The Trump Organization struck a deal with Indians in the US, and the Afghan VP returns

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Iran and US presidents in war of words, and Cuba’s constitution goes east on Communism.

Trump family’s only hotel deal since 2016 election is with Indian duo

The Trump family business has struck only one hotel business deal since the 2016 elections, and it is with two Indian brothers, The New York Times reports. Last June, Dinesh and Surech Chawla partnered with the Trump Organization on four hotels in the Mississippi Delta, where the brothers are based.

The brothers caught the attention of the Trumps after narrating the story of an encounter their father had with Donald Trump in a letter to the editor published in several Mississippi newspapers after the patriarch’s death in 2015. In the 1980s, V.K. Chawla called Trump with a request for a loan to start his own hotel. Trump declined, and instead offered advice and encouragement. “The Chawlas credit that exchange with propelling their family business into 17 hotels that welcome an average of 250,000 guests a year,” the report adds.

Explaining the new deal, the report states, “The Chawlas signed a deal to open three budget-friendly properties under the Trump Organization’s new American Idea brand and one four-star hotel here in Cleveland as a Scion, the company’s other new brand.”

The brothers don’t interact with Trump, and their dealings with the US President’s sons, Don Jr and Eric Trump, are “largely limited to business and pleasantries”.

Rouhani and Trump lash out at each other

“Do not play with the lion’s tail or else you will regret it,” said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in a televised speech, warning US counterpart Donald Trump against escalating tensions.

Rouhani said a confrontation with Iran would be the “mother of all wars”, reports Al JazeeraHe reiterated that the US cannot prevent Iran from exporting crude oil. “Earlier this month, Rouhani hinted that Iran may block regional oil exports if its own sales are halted following the US’ withdrawal from a 2015 nuclear deal signed with world powers,” the report adds.

Trump responded to Rouhani with an aggressive tweet, warning him not to threaten the US again or “suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before”.

Melania Trump’s Slovenian hometown is growing weary of its sudden fame

“There are few products that the enterprising burghers of Sevnica, a small, rural Slovenian town where Melania Trump spent her formative years, have not sought to brand in honour of the First Lady of the United States,” reports The New York Times. “Melania cake. Melania cream. Melania wine. Melania tea. Melania slippers. Melania salami. Melania chocolate-coated apple slices.”

The town has a population of around 5,000 people, and its annual tourist traffic has risen considerably since Melania became the First Lady of the United States — because of which Melania-themed tours are extremely popular.

However, the novelty is now wearing thin, with residents saying they are indifferent to the “commotion over Melania”. A tour guide who offers Melania-themed tours said, “Sevnica has much more to show than just this story.” The head of the local tourist board agreed to talk about Sevnica only if the interview steered clear of Melania.

Melania left Sevnica over 30 years ago, first going to Ljubljana and then to the United States. “But Mrs Trump has not made a public return to Sevnica, or Slovenia, since becoming First Lady, and for most the connection remains primarily a commercial opportunity,” the report adds.

Exiled vice-president Rashid Dostum returns to Afghanistan

After more than a year in exile, Afghanistan’s first vice-president General Abdul Rashid Dostum has returned to the country, facing, The New York Times reports, “criminal charges of rape and kidnapping, as well as accusations of brutality, human rights abuses and killing his first wife”.

As he landed, a suicide bomb blast near the main airport entrance claimed the lives of 14 people, including some of his security personnel, and injured 40 more, reports Al Jazeera. “Dostum, who was travelling in an armoured vehicle, was unharmed in the blast, which was claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group,” the report adds.

“General Dostum’s return from exile is the latest episode in the tumultuous career of the Uzbek leader, an illiterate former Communist enforcer turned warlord who at one time or another was allied with every side in Afghanistan’s long war — including the Taliban — and turned on most of them,” The New York Times reports. He is accused of abducting and repeatedly raping a political opponent, Ahmed Ischi, and committing war crimes.

Dostum is a “protégé of the Central Intelligence Agency, which mentored and armed him”, the report adds. His exile in Turkey was arranged to avoid the unrest that would take place if he were tried for rape charges. “The deal allowing him to return is seen as a bid by Mr Ghani’s government to seek his cooperation in parliamentary elections this year, as well as in next year’s presidential race. Many other northern political factions are aligning against Mr Ghani’s largely Pashtun ethnic base, and General Dostum could broaden that support to Uzbeks,” it states.

Cuba’s new constitution looks noticeably less Communist 

“A draft of Cuba’s new constitution omits the aim of building Communism, although it keeps the Communist Party as the guiding force of the one-party system,” reports Al Jazeera. The constitution also recognises private property and gay marriage.

Cuba’s national assembly, its parliament, is debating a new constitution to reflect political, social and economic changes. Once lawmakers have approved the draft, it will be submitted for popular consultation. The final draft will then be put to a national referendum.

“The current draft omits a clause in the 1976 constitution on the ultimate aim of building a ‘communist society’, instead simply focusing on socialism,” the report states. The president of the national assembly, however, said this does not mean Cuba is renouncing its ideas.

China’s vaccine industry threatened by rabies scandal

One of China’s largest vaccine manufacturers has been accused of violating drug production regulations, report Global Times. These regulations include forging production records on rabies vaccines.

The outrage began when the China Food and Drug Administration began a probe into the company, Changchun Changsheng Life Sciences, and announced that the company was found selling substandard vaccines.

“Finger-pointing continues regarding the Changsheng incident, with some blaming authorities for a lack of proper oversight and others pointing to dishonest companies that only seek profits and ignore the safety of millions of patients across the country,” the report states.

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