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Cleaning crew in India finds $1 million worth of gold bars in an aircraft toilet

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An Indian airplane cleaning crew stumbled across 24 gold bars worth over $1 million stashed in an aircraft toilet compartment, officials said Wednesday.

India, which rivals China as the world’s biggest gold consumer, has witnessed a sharp rise in smuggling since import duties were hiked three times this year to dampen demand for the precious metal.

The plane, belonging to private carrier Jet Airways, was being cleaned at Kolkata airport Tuesday after a trip from the eastern city of Patna. Indian media reported the plane had been travelling from Bangkok.

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“The cleaning staff of the airport were going though their routine duties and found two bags in the toilets of the plane,” director of the airport B.P. Mishra told AFP.

The 24 one-kilogram gold bars “have not been claimed by anyone. No arrest has been made,” senior customs official R.S. Meena said.

Meena estimated the value of the haul at about 70 million rupees, or $1.1 million.

Gold is hugely popular in India, especially during religious festivals and wedding seasons, and is the second-biggest contributor after oil to India’s massive current account deficit — the broadest measure of trade.

The government has been seeking to reduce gold demand and narrow its deficit by hiking bullion import duties.

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Indians also buy gold in the form of jewellery, bars and coins as a hedge against inflation.

“This is the fifth (suspected gold smuggling) incident in the past one month,” said B. P. Sharma, director of Kolkata’s Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International airport.

“Smuggling of gold through the airport has risen” as the hike in the import duty of gold has made the metal costlier, Sharma said.

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Last month, intelligence officials recovered gold worth 95 million rupees from the toilet of a plane after it landed in the southern city of Chennai en route to New Delhi from Dubai.

Four Sri Lankan nationals were held on smuggling charges.

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In August, customs officials seized smuggled gold worth 11 million rupees from a passenger travelling from Singapore to the Indian capital.

Thirty-one gold bars were found in specially-designed pockets in the suspect’s trousers.

In Kolkata, a 28-year-old man flying to India from Bangkok was recently arrested with gold bars concealed in large torchlights, officials said.

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In another incident, a man travelling to India from Dubai was caught in Kolkata while trying to smuggle five gold bars in his body, they added.


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COVID-19

Trump uses Memorial Day to attack Biden and recycle old lies about his coronavirus response

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NYT: "At Least 430,000 People Have Arrived in the United States on Direct Flights From China"

President Donald Trump used the occasion of the Memorial Day holiday to recycle old, debunked lies about his likely Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden.

In a tweet Trump made several accusations, none of them are true.

Sleepy Joe Biden (mostly his reps.) went crazy when I banned, in late January, people coming in from China. He called me “xenophobic” & then went equally “nuts” when we let in 44,000 people - until he was told they were American citizens coming home. He later apologized!

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Trump scorned for claiming he has ‘great reviews’ on COVID-19: ‘This is not a game show’

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On Monday, President Donald Trump complained on Twitter that he wasn't getting enough credit for his COVID-19 response, but that he was still getting "great reviews" on it all the same.

Commenters on social media were not pleased with the president's remarks.

Great reviews? Like on Rotten Tomatoes?

— Lira (@LoudmouthLira) May 25, 2020

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Trump claims ‘great reviews’ for COVID-19 response — while complaining he ‘got no credit’

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In a tweet fired off this Monday afternoon, President Trump painted a rosy picture of the response to his administration's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying he's received "great reviews" for his performance.

"Great reviews on our handling of Covid 19, sometimes referred to as the China Virus," Trump wrote. 'Ventilators, Testing, Medical Supply Distribution, we made a lot of Governors look very good - And got no credit for so doing. Most importantly, we helped a lot of great people!"

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