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Johnson & Johnson to pay $20.4 million to two Ohio counties

Johnson & Johnson said on Tuesday it will pay $20.4 million to settle claims by two Ohio counties, allowing the U.S. healthcare giant to avoid an upcoming federal trial seeking to hold the industry responsible for the nation's opioid epidemic.

J&J became the fourth drugmaker to settle claims ahead of the Federal Court trial against multiple manufacturers and distributors in Cleveland scheduled for later this month. The case is considered a bellwether for more than 2,600 lawsuits by state and local governments that are pending nationally.

“The settlement allows the company to avoid the resource demands and uncertainty of a trial as it continues to seek meaningful progress in addressing the nation's opioid crisis,” J&J said in a statement.



Deputy Foreign Minister Praises Expats in Kuwait For Their Contributions

Deputy Foreign Minister Praises Expats in Kuwait For Their Contributions

Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah stressed on Tuesday the importance of expatriates’ work in Kuwait, which boosts economy and progress. Kuwait is keen to provide support and security for the foreign workers, Al-Jarallah responding to a question during seminar for elderly people hosted by the Foreign Ministry. Al-Jarallah pointed out that Kuwait has laws to protect the expats and ways to enhance their status.

He was speaking to reporters on sidelines of a seminar about elderly care. Al-Jarallah said Kuwait has taken part in meetings in Manama, Bahrain, and Tampa, Florida, regarding the coalition. He underlined that Kuwait would continue to participate in any coalition-related meetings.

- A.T.


10th least indebted country in the world is KUWAIT

Kuwait is at No. 10 among the least indebted countries in the world in terms of GDP (17.8 percent), and the only Arab country on the list according to the recent data published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), reports Al-Qabas daily.

Hong Kong topped the list with Macao among the 10 countries equaling the same percentage – both administrative regions of the People’s Republic of China.

Brunei came second with 2.6 percent of GDP, followed by Afghanistan with 6.9 percent, Estonia with 7.6 percent and Botswana fifth place with 12.8 percent debt.

Russia ranked sixth among the world’s 10 least-debtor countries with 13.8 percent of GDP.

The Democratic Republic of Congo came in seventh with 14 percent debt, followed by Solomon Islands with 14.6 percent and Azerbaijan with ninth in debt with 17.6 percent.



Traffic violations increased to 15,000 per day



Traffic statistics raised a red flag towards increased violations reaching 15,000 per day, ie 645 traffic violations per hour. The traffic planning and research department recorded 4 million violations since the start of the year until Saturday. It was noticed that women were more compliant with the traffic law, as 500,000 violations were recorded by them, compared to 3.5 million violations committed by men. Stats also showed that speeding topped the number of violations, followed by running red lights. Meanwhile, 400 violations were recorded against policemen for speaking on the phone while driving, while hundreds of the motorists were involved in texting while driving. Psychologists warned that a lack of applying the law equally will result in more violations and points at a social defect. They said violating the traffic law is an aggression against state rights and endangers people’s lives. It also indicates that concerned authorities are unable to enforce the law. –K.T.


Plan to give every patient in Kuwait a smart card to ensure the safety of patients



Director of the Regional Center for Patients Safety Assurance at the Ministry of Health Dr Waleed Al-Busairi affirmed the safety level of patients in public hospitals across Kuwait, saying the available standard is very high regardless of the cases of medical errors.

Dr Al-Busairi disclosed determination of the center to enforce close monitoring of public and private hospitals as a way of ensuring the safety of patients. He revealed the plan to give every patient in Kuwait a smart card that contains all his medical record, laboratory tests and X-rays to enable doctors follow up the medical history with ease.He noted “there is future coordination with countries in the Middle East to identify problems they face in the implementation of patients safety with the intention of organizing workshops to shed light on the responsibilities of medical practitioners to overcome problems in coordination with the National Center for Health Information chaired by Dr Fatmah Al-Asousi to analyze death statistics to know those caused by medical errors to assist in laying down the right plan for reaching zero medical error level,” the expert medical administrator declared.-A.T.


Saudi Arabia to invest $100 billion in India in areas of petrochemicals, infrastructure and mining



Despite reeling from the impact of the worst-ever attacks on its oil installations, Saudi Arabia has said that it is looking at investing $100 billion in India in areas of petrochemicals, infrastructure and mining among others, considering the country's growth potential.

Saudi Ambassador Dr Saud bin Mohammed Al Sati has said India is an attractive investment destination for the kingdom and it is eyeing long-term partnerships with New Delhi in key sectors like oil, gas and mining.The envoy said more than 40 opportunities for joint collaboration and investments between India and Saudi Arabia across various sectors have already been identified, adding the current bilateral trade of $34 billion will undoubtedly continue to increase.

He said oil giant Aramco's proposed partnership with Reliance Industries reflected the strategic nature of the growing energy ties between the two countries.The envoy said investing in India's value chain from oil supply, marketing, refining to petrochemicals and lubricants is a key part of Aramco's global downstream strategy.

"In this backdrop, Saudi Aramco's proposed investments in India's energy sector, such as the $44 billion West Coast refinery and petrochemical project in Maharashtra and a long term partnership with Reliance, represent strategic milestones in our bilateral relationship," he said.

The envoy said Vision 2030 of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will also result in significant expansion of trade and business between India and Saudi Arabia in diverse sectors.


The heat will continue to drop after two weeks--Astronomer



Astronomer Adel Al-Saadoun said the summer season officially ended on Sept 23, but he indicated the weather in Kuwait is not committed to these dates as it will continue to be hot and humid until mid-October.He told the heat will continue to drop after two weeks especially in open areas, expecting the air-conditioners to function until the end of October. As for the timing of monsoon, nothing can be said of a specific date, unlike some others who predict it, and may be prone to committing error.-A.T.


Health measures implemented following reports of polio cases in the Philippines



Kuwait plans to install 30 thermal cameras at land, sea and air ports to check and prevent people from entering the country with infectious diseases.This will be accomplished in coordination with the Ministries of Health and Interior.16 thermal cameras will be installed at the Kuwait International Airport arrivals lounges, four each at the Salmi, Al-Nuwaiseeb and Abdali ports and two at the Doha Port.

Meanwhile, several health measures have been implemented at the Kuwait International Airport following reports of polio cases in the Philippines. The measures include referring the arrivals from the Philippines to the preventive health centers to ensure they were vaccinated with polio-protective vaccine in their country.The Philippines was free of polio for 19 years. To date, no official data has been issued by the Ministry of Health, but the World Health Organization (WHO), in cooperation with the Philippines health authorities, has published the news on its website, reassuring everyone, and calling on States not to take any further measures to restrict movement, travel and goods among the countries of the world.

WHO has advised travelers to the Philippines to take vaccination against polio before travel, but the organization did not issue any instructions regarding those going from the Philippines to other countries.-A.T.


Govt to fight menace of fake social media accounts



The government is preparing a list of bogus social media account owners who instigate strife, which will be submitted to concerned authorities to deal with them. Informed sources said the Cabinet will not be satisfied with closing the accounts – rather it will take those behind them to court in Kuwait or abroad in coordination with embassies. The government’s communications center met representatives of all government departments to discuss the development of the media mission. Sources said the center stressed that it is necessary to use all technological means to fight rumors, while forming teams in ministries to combat them. Sources called upon government departments to use the opportunity presented by people’s communications with ministries through WhatsApp and develop ministries’ accounts that are lagging behind their counterparts. –K.T.


Romanian sentenced to three years imprisonment for planting a device on an ATM



The Criminal Court sentenced a Romanian to three years imprisonment with hard labor after he was found guilty of planting a device on an ATM, which collected data of clients withdrawing cash from the machine.The Romanian was arrested after security agencies were contacted by one of the local banks to observe security footage of one of its ATM, which showed the defendant attempting to tamper with the machine by installing a gadget that was later revealed could copy data and information, which clients put while accessing their bank accounts through the ATM.The defendant was in Kuwait on tourist visa. He attempted to commit the crime four days after entering the country, and upon arrest, he was found in possession of maps for the location of the ATM(s) in the country.-A.T.


Kuwait among top 20 improvers in Ease of Doing Business Index out of 190 economies



The Doing Business Team at the World Bank Group (WBG) announced on its website that Kuwait for the first time joined the group of top 20 improvers in the Ease of Doing Business Index 2020 out of 190 economies included in the Doing Business report to be published officially by the end of October. This global index covers 10 key components that represent various dimensions of business regulatory environment for domestic enterprises.

This initial announcement ahead of the release of the report showed that Kuwait has enhanced business reforms in accordance with its 2035 national vision and goals. The announced improvement reflected reforms in six components covering: Starting a business, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors and trading across borders.

In this context, Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA) announced, as head of the Permanent Committee for Streamlining Business Environment And Enhancing Competitiveness in the State of Kuwait (PCK), that the underlying significance of improving Kuwait’s position in the Ease of Doing Business Index 2020 is that it directly and indirectly contributes to making Kuwait’s investment climate more attractive and supports the attainment of the national vision 2035 and its developmental goals, which will eventually boost the expansion of the economic cycle, availing the creation of more real job opportunities for the local workforce.

This improvement capped the dedicated efforts exerted by the PCK since it was established by a Council of Ministers’ decision at the end of 2013, headed by KDIPA, with membership extended to include 11 competent government authorities, in addition to representatives of the private sector and the civil society organizations. The PCK was initiated with full support by HH the Prime Minister to serve as an active platform for coordinating national efforts, documenting reforms, raising awareness on reforms undertaken and following up their progress, as well as placing improving business environment and national competitiveness at the top priority of the government work program.

On this occasion, the PCK conveys the utmost appreciation and esteemed gratitude to HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah and to HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah for the leadership’s foresight and calls to mobilize national efforts to attain this improvement, that will support fostering Kuwait competitiveness in international indices, enabling it to assume its role as a leading financial and commercial center, augmented by the leadership’s ongoing focus on this issue, in a way that motivated all relevant parties to endorse, with competence and efficiency, their mandated responsibilities to realize this strategic goal. – KUNA


Toxic lead chromate used to give turmeric roots and powder a bright yellow color.



Results of a new research sounded the alarm on a serious form of commercial fraud, as it revealed that toxic lead  chromate (PbCrO4) is being used in Bangladesh to give turmeric roots and powder a bright yellow color.This toxic substance is banned globally for food products, as it increases the level of lead in the blood and poisons the nerves; thereby, causing heart problems and brain diseases in addition to impeding the development of the brain of children.

While the research did not consider samples of turmeric powder exported by this country in large quantities to many countries around the world including Kuwait and other Gulf states, the results raised this question: Does turmeric being used in Kuwait contain toxic lead chromate?The intensive research was conducted in areas with high production and consumption of turmeric powder in the country. Using systematic and analytical methods, the research was conducted under the supervision of Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment with the involvement of 11 specialized researchers.

The research concluded that high rate of the toxic substance was found in the analyzed turmeric samples, and that this is probably the main reason behind high level of lead in the blood of many people of that country. “It is clear that people are consuming turmeric root and powder and they do not know that they are being cheated through the use of harmful chemicals which could cause major health problems,” says researcher Gina Forsyth who led the study at the Stanford Woods Institute of the Environment. “We now know that turmeric contains lead chromate compound and we have to do something,” she added.-A.T.


Number of expatriates working in the private sector has slowed



The number of expatriates working in the private sector has slowed from around 7 percent in 2016 to 5.7 percent in 2017, and to only 2 percent in 2018 and 2019, according to official statistics.The statistics sent by the Ministry of State for Economic Affairs to the National Assembly showed that in 2016, the increase was about 100,000, falling in 2017 to 86,000, and the increase in 2018 amounted to 33,000, and in 2019 only about 24,000.

The total is currently 1.66 million workers in the private sector. Follow-up sources confirmed that this has several reasons, most notably the decline in economic activity in the past two years after the boom that prevailed earlier, especially when the oil prices hit record levels in 2013-2014, and the decline in economic growth are related to the reasons to increased fees on services that hit some expatriates who earned modest salaries, and as a result there has been a partial or total departure of families who have left the country entirely or the breadwinner has stayed behind while the family has left to ease the burden.

It is noteworthy that this has coincided with calls for increasing Kuwaitization and substitution, but this did not appear in the private sector as it appeared relatively in the public sector, because the number of citizens in the private sector did not rise, but fell from 72,549 in 2018 to 71,013 in 2019, i.e. 1,500 citizens left work in the sector in just one year.There are also several reasons, most notably the continuation of the public service in competing with the private sector in several factors, most notably financial advantages and practical flexibility.-A.T.


Two Filipinos arrested for flying drone over one of the vital facilities in Al-Zour



Two Filipinos have been arrested by personnel from the Vital Installations Security Department and have been referred to senior officials of the department for interrogation after they were caught flying a drone over one of the vital facilities in Al-Zour without a licence.The interrogations should include an earlier incident when a similar type of drone was seen flying over vital installations.It has been reported the Acting Director- General of the department Col Sa’fak Al-Azmi using monitoring devices in the presence of Assistant Director of the Department Colonel Musaed Shamroukh working at the Al-Zour Station saw a drone hovering over Al-Zour Power Station, identified its source of operation and arrested the two suspects.-A.T.


Lawyer files case to terminate the appointment of all expatriate legal practitioners



Lawyer Abdullah Marzouq Al-Rasheedi yesterday filed a case to force the Civil Service Commission to terminate the contracts of all expats working in government bodies and replace them with Kuwaitis, especially since many Kuwaiti lawyers are unemployed. Rasheedi said around 30,000 Kuwaitis holding law degrees work for the government and 6,000 others work for the private sector.

“What is the point of employing expats while considerable numbers of Kuwaitis with the same degrees, qualifications and experience are unemployed?” he wondered, claiming that many senior officials do not trust Kuwaiti workers. He alleged one of the health minister’s advisors is an expat who gets a monthly salary of KD 2,100 plus other incentives, hajj allowances and free accommodation.-K.T.


KISR has obtained a global patent in the Hydrogen storage in nanoscale metals



Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) announced that the Nanotechnology Program of the Institute of Energy and Building Research in the Institute has obtained a global patent in the Hydrogen storage in nanoscale metals like magnesium. The Kuwaiti Institute has earned the patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, KISR said in a statement Thursday Kuwait, represented by KISR, ranks seventh on a par with South Korea in the list of the 10 most active countries in the world in the production, utilization and use of nanomaterials stored for hydrogen gas, the statement added.The statement confirmed the Institute’s interest in diversifying energy sources, especially new and renewable in order to improve the properties of magnesium and its ability to store hydrogen in quantities of weight up to more than five percent.-KUNA


KGL evicted from state-owned land measuring one million square meters



The concerned Ministry of Interior officials have executed a court order to evict Kuwait and Gulf Link Transport Company (KGL) from State-owned land measuring one million square meters as the company used the property illegally.

MP Majed Al-Mutairi affirmed the Parliament lauds such a decision as the legislature is always fighting against misusage of State properties and public funds. He affirmed that MPs paved way for exposure of erring companies through demands for the formation of committees to investigate suspicious commercial activities.He said the relevant parliamentary committees investigated this issue and submitted recommendations to the government, which resulted in the discovery of KGL’s violation.The MP asserted that he is vigilant in pursuing companies proven to have misused public funds and State properties in line with his constitutional rights and the power of the law.

Echoing his colleague’s statement, MP Abdul Wahab Al-Babtain emphasized that no one is above the law. He revealed that he contacted the head of Kuwait Ports Authority (KPA) who confirmed the land in question has been returned to KPA.-A.T.


Kuwait withdraws ranitidine, Zantac drugs from shelves



The ministry of health is suspending and withdrawing ranitidine medicines – namely Zantac – used to treat excessive stomach acid. Dr Abdullah Al-Badr, the assistant undersecretary for medicine and food supervision at the health ministry, said in a statement yesterday that the decision to pull these drugs from the market was made upon preliminary tests conducted at the department’s laboratories and reports by American and European authorities. Health authorities in other countries are currently trying to determine safe levels of the ingredient N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), included in food and some medical drugs, he said. He urged patients to seek their doctors’ help in prescribing alternative medicines. – KUNA


600 people violate the red traffic signal every day in Kuwait



Six hundred people of both sexes violate the red traffic signal every day in Kuwait, an average of 25 serious violations of this kind every hour.

The Traffic Planning and Research Department of the General Traffic Department has recorded about 145,000 traffic violations of crossing the red traffic light since the beginning of 2019 until the end of last August, which equals to 600 violations per day, of which 38 thousand violations are registered against female motorists or (27% of the total violations).The direct violations of skipping the red signal was about 20 thousand, by 18 thousand committed by male drivers and two thousand by females.

Indirect violations were 125 thousand. The males accounted for 79 thousand violations and females 36 thousand; and 10 thousand violations are registered in the names of companies. The sources also said money collected against these fines was 7.25 million dinars approximately. Much of the money collected in fines was for jumping the red traffic light. According to the sources, 300,000 people had violated the red traffic lights in 2017, and 273 thousand in 2018.-A.T.


Rocket blasted off with an Emirati--first Arab UAE astronaut entered the ISS



A Soyuz rocket blasted off yesterday from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan carrying an Emirati who  makes history as the first Arab on the International Space Station. The Russian rocket carrying the three-member crew took off as scheduled at 1357 GMT.The ship carrying NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, Oleg Skripochka of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and Hazzaa AlMansoori, a military pilot from the UAE, docked at the International Space Station about six hours later.

In Dubai, a crowd gathered at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre to watch the launch, erupting in cheers and dubbing Mansoori a national hero. Some carried UAE flags. Dubai’s iconic Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper, lit up the moment of blast-off. Mansoori will spend eight days on the ISS and will be the first Emirati and the first Arab on the orbiting laboratory, but not the first Muslim.

A Holy Quran, a UAE flag, pictures of his family, and a book by Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum were among the few things he was allowed to pack for his space adventure.

Russian Orthodox priests blessed the spacecraft ahead of the launch, in a traditional prayer service often held before Russian rocket launches. The spacecraft was the last to blast off from the launch pad where Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin went off into space onboard the Vostok 1, becoming the first man in space in 1961. Mansoori is set to return to Earth with NASA’s Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin on Oct 3. Skripochka and Meir are set to remain on the ISS until the spring of 2020.

The first Arab in outer space was Saudi Arabia’s Sultan bin Salman Al-Saud, who flew on a US shuttle mission in 1985. Two years later, Syrian air force pilot Muhammad Faris spent a week aboard the Soviet Union’s Mir space station. As part of its space plans, the UAE has also announced its aim to become the first Arab country to send an unmanned probe to orbit Mars by 2021, naming it “Hope”. In the long-term, it says it is planning to build a “Science City” to replicate life on Mars and aims to create the first human settlement on the red planet by 2117.

The International Space Station – a rare example of cooperation between Russia and the West – has been orbiting Earth at about 28,000 km per hour since 1998. Russia is resolved to keep its position as a leader of the space industry, particularly for manned space flights. 


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