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US army to lift transgender ban: Media

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WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is set to lift its ban on transgender troops within the coming weeks, US media reported Friday.

USA Today said the transgender announcement is expected July 1 and the plan would require each branch of the military to phase in the new policy over a 12-month period.

The move would be another major milestone for America’s vast military, which up until five years ago still banned gay troops from openly discussing their sexuality under a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook declined to confirm reports, but said a decision was due “soon.”

Currently, Pentagon rules allow transgender troops to be discharged from the military.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter last year ordered all military roles — including combat positions — to be opened to women.

Maryland Democratic Congressman Steny Hoyer welcomed the news.

“The reversal of the ban is a major step forward in the effort to secure the full rights and equality of LGBT people in our country, and it will strengthen our military by ensuring that talented, dedicated candidates are not turned away or discouraged from serving because of their gender identity,” he said in a statement.

AFP

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Tourist arrivals jumped 73.5 percent in July

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KATHMANDU — Tourist arrivals to Nepal jumped 73.5 percent in the month of July, according to statistics released by Nepal Tourism Board (NTB).

The NTB said that this increment is because of a sharp increase in the number of travellers from countries like India, China, the US and the UK. The growth in the numbers has also been attributed to Indian pilgrims visiting Mount Kailash Mansarovar in Tibet, via Nepal.

The statistics show that Nepal received a whopping 73,285 international tourists in July—a time of the year that is considered to be an off-season for tourists due to the monsoons. With July’s figures, the number of foreign tourists visiting Nepal in the first seven months (January–July) of 2018 reached 593,299, which is an increase of 18 percent as compared to the same period last year.

Total 18,385 Indian tourists visited Nepal via air transport, which is up 80.4 percent compared to the same period last year.

After India, Nepal received the highest number of visitors from China. The Chinese tourist numbers have more than doubled to 13,123 in the month of July. This is a 125.4 percent growth in comparison to the arrivals in the same month last year.

Overall arrivals from SAARC countries registered a growth of 66 percent, in comparison to the same month last year. However, arrivals from Bangladesh declined by nine percent. Arrivals from rest of the Asian countries have also recorded a robust growth of 86.2 percent.

Visitors from Japan and South Korea to Nepal also increased by 36 percent and 21.9 percent respectively.

Likewise, an overall increase of 54.1 percent in July has been recorded from European source markets. However, arrivals from Austria declined by 72.6 percent.

The number of visitors from the US and Canada have also grown by 79.6 percent and 73.3 percent respectively.

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