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One of three people stabbed to death in Nice has been named as church worker Vincent Loques

October 29, 2020

Local politician Eric Ciotti tweeted a picture of Mr Loques dressed in a t-shirt, looking relaxed and smiling.

He said Mr Loques was a "devoted employee" of the Notre Dame church, where the attack took place.

One of the other victims - a woman - was decapitated.

She and Mr Loques are said to have died at the scene, while another woman made it out of the church and died at a local cafe.

Mr Loques was 55 and a father of two, La Parisien newspaper reported.

Members of the parish said he had been church warden for ten years and was "expansive and sympathetic".

The attacker - who was shot by police and taken to hospital - is reportedly a 21-year-old Tunisian national.

He is thought to have entered France recently from neighbouring Italy, a police source told the Reuters news agency.

Nice's mayor, Christian Estrosi, tweeted that the attacker shouted "Allahu Akbar [God is greatest]" several times.

France's anti-terrorism prosecutor has opened an investigation, as has the anti-terrorism court prosecutor in Tunisia.

President Emmanuel Macron, who visited Nice on Thursday afternoon, said his country had been "attacked" and expressed the "support of France towards the Catholic community".

He added that the number of soldiers deployed to protect schools and religious sites would be increased from about 3,000 at the moment to 7,000.

 

World Health Organization: The worst is yet to come

June 29, 2020

Officials from the World Health Organization gave strong warnings about the pandemic, telling reporters COVID-19 is "not even close to being over."

Tuesday marks the six-month anniversary since the organization was first notified about the virus and WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said people need to reflect on the progress made and the road ahead.

"None of us could have imagined how our world, and our lives would be thrown into turmoil by this new virus," he said.

Tedros urged global solidarity in fighting the disease and increases seen across the world.

"The worst is yet to come," he said.

WATCH:

US and allies condemn China over Hong Kong national security law

.May 28, 2020

China's plan to impose a new security law on Hong Kong puts it in direct violation of its international commitments, the United States and its allies - the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia - have said.

"China's decision to impose the new national security law on Hong Kong lies in direct conflict with its international obligations under the principles of the legally binding, UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration," a joint statement released by the four countries said on Thursday.

The proposed Chinese law would undermine the "one country, two systems" framework, the four allies said in the statement, referring to the arrangement under which Hong Kong, a former British colony, was handed back to China in 1997.

"Hong Kong has flourished as a bastion of freedom," the US and allies said, adding their "deep concern regarding Beijing's decision to impose a national security law in Hong Kong".

The condemnation was issued after China's parliament earlier on Thursday rubber-stamped a law initially proposed by the National People's Congress (NPC) after huge pro-democracy protests rocked the financial hub for nearly 11 months.

The vote was 2,878-1 with six abstentions, in line with the high-profile but largely ceremonial body's custom of near-unanimous support for all legal changes decided by the ruling Communist Party.

 

 

SpaceX delays 1st astronaut launch for NASA due to bad weather

May 27, 2020

Mother Nature didn't cooperate today. SpaceX will have to wait a few days to make history.

Elon Musk's company was scheduled to launch its first-ever crewed mission, a test flight to the International Space Station (ISS) called Demo-2, this afternoon (May 27) from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. But bad weather has nixed that plan, pushing the liftoff back to Saturday (May 30) at the earliest, NASA and SpaceX officials announced today.

"We continue to violate a couple different weather rules that we now do not expect to clear in time to allow for a launch today," SpaceX launch director Mike Taylor said about 20 minutes before the planned liftoff. "We’re going to go ahead and end today’s launch attempt."

Saturday's launch would occur at 3:22 p.m. EDT (1922 GMT). If that doesn't work out, SpaceX could try again on Sunday (May 31) at 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT). (Demo-2 has an instantaneous launch window; the capsule must launch at a specific time, when the space station is at a certain spot in its orbital path.)

 

 

Iran warns US against disrupting fuel shipments to Venezuela

May 17, 2020

Iran's foreign minister on Sunday warned the United States against deploying its navy in the Caribbean to disrupt Iranian fuel shipments to Venezuela.

According to an oil shipment analyst, five Iranian-flagged tankers loaded with tens of millions of dollars worth of fuel are heading towards Venezuela.

In a letter to United Nations chief Antonio Guterres, Mohammad Javad Zarif warned against "America's movements in deploying its navy to the Caribbean in order to intervene and create disruption in [the] transfer of Iran's fuel to Venezuela".

He said any such action would be "illegal and a form of piracy" adding the US would be responsible for "the consequences", according to a foreign ministry statement.

A senior official in US President Donald Trump's administration told Reuters news agency on Thursday that the US was considering measures it could take in response to Iran's shipment of fuel to crisis-stricken Venezuela.

Iran's Fars News reported on Saturday it received information that four US Navy warships are in the Caribbean for a "possible confrontation with Iran's tankers".

Zarif's deputy summoned the Swiss ambassador, who represents Washington's interests in Tehran, to communicate Iran's "serious warning" on Sunday. Abbas Araghchi said any potential threat to Iran's tankers would be met with a "quick and decisive response".

The US has imposed unilateral sanctions aimed at ending oil exports by both Iran and Venezuela, both major crude producers.

 

Alleged Narcotrafficker and High-Ranking Cartel Member Extradited from Uruguay to the United States

May 15, 2020

A Mexican national will have his initial appearance in federal court in the District of Columbia later today on charges related to his alleged involvement in a criminal conspiracy to distribute cocaine and methamphetamine.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), made the announcement.

Gerardo Gonzalez Valencia, aka “Lalo,” 43, arrived at Dulles International Airport yesterday evening after being extradited from Uruguay, where he was arrested in April 2016. The indictment charges Gonzalez Valencia with an international conspiracy to distribute cocaine and methamphetamine, intending and knowing that those substances would be unlawfully imported into the United States. The indictment alleges that Go“The Department of Justice will never waver in our commitment to disrupt and dismantle CJNG and its enablers, wherever they are found,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski. “Thanks to the dedicated efforts of our law enforcement partners in Uruguay, Valencia Gonzalez now will be held to account in the United States for his alleged crimes.”nzalez Valencia’s criminal conspiracy ran from 2003 to 2016.

Venezuela detains 40 suspects after failed Maduro 'kidnap attempt'

May 12, 2020

Nicolás Maduro’s security forces have continued their roundup of alleged participants in last week’s botched attempt to capture him, with the arrest of three Venezuelan men just west of the capital.

The trio was reportedly seized in Carayaca, 35 miles from Caracas in the early hours of Monday, taking the number of detentions to more than 40. The official Twitter account of Venezuela’s Bolivarian national guard claimed the men were “terrorists who entered the country intending to provoke violence”.

On Sunday the army chief, Remigio Ceballos, announced the capture of another eight “enemies of the fatherland” who were pictured kneeling down before a cluster of rifle-toting troops.

Eight people were reportedly killed when a group of about 60 mercenaries, including two United States citizens, launched their botched sea raid on 2 May.

One of the captured American attackers, Airan Berry, last week claimed, possibly under duress, that the group had been tasked with raiding Maduro’s presidential palace and seizing a local airport in order to spirit him out of the country. Many of the group are reportedly being held in El Helicoide, Venezuela’s most notorious political prison.

The failed raid has proved a propaganda boon for Maduro, who has long claimed he was the subject of an imperialist, US-sponsored assassination plot.

Maduro has spent the last 16 months fighting off a challenge from the young opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who more than 50 foreign governments recognize as Venezuela’s legitimate interim leader.

For Guaidó, who for a time last year looked poised to topple Maduro, recent events threaten to permanently derail his push for political change.

Guaidó has denied any involvement in the failed mission to capture Maduro. But two of his advisers, the Miami-based strategist Juan José Rendón and the opposition lawmaker Sergio Vergara, are alleged to have signed a $212m contract with Jordan Goudreau, the former Green Beret behind the raid.

Clashes Between Tribes Leave 3 Dead & 79 Wounded in Sudan

May 10, 2020

They were killed in gunfire at a sit-in outside military HQ where demonstrators are demanding full civilian government. Dozens have also been injured.

Protesters said soldiers were responsible, but the army blamed it on "unidentified elements".

Sudan has been ruled by a transitional military council since last month's toppling of President Omar al-Bashir.

It is unclear exactly what happened but activists have been talking about how they were targeted by a gunman.

"He shot a bullet at me, he was 20 meters away from me, at most," Raed Mubarak told the Reuters news agency.

"He saw me, and he meant to shoot me. It was intentional. He did not even shoot at my leg or up in the air, he shot at my chest, at the left, intending to hit the heart. He meant to kill me."

The US embassy in Khartoum has said actions by the military council resulted in the violence.

 

 

 

Newfound Black Hole Is the Closest One to Earth Ever Found

May 6, 2020

A newfound black hole may be the closest black hole to Earth, and you can spot its cosmic home in the night sky without a telescope.

The black hole, which is lurking 1,000 light-years from Earth in the southern constellation of Telescopium, belongs to a system with two companion stars that are bright enough to observe with the naked eye. But you won't be able to see the black hole itself; the massive object has such a strong gravitational pull that nothing — not even light — can escape it.

Astronomers discovered this black hole while studying what they thought was just a binary star system, or two stars that orbit a common center of mass. They were using the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile to observe the binary, known as HR 6819, as part of a broader study on double star systems. When they analyzed their observations, the researchers were shocked to learn that a third object was hiding in the system: a black hole.

Major U.S. Automakers Are Expected to Reopen Their Factories Within 2 Weeks

May 5, 2020

Major U.S. automakers are planning to reopen North American factories within two weeks, potentially putting thousands of workers back on the assembly line as part of a gradual return to normality.

Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley said on an earnings conference call Tuesday his company plans to start reopening factories May 18, though that depends on an easing of government restrictions.

Right now, Michigan’s shelter-at-home order is in effect until May 15.

Detroit automakers will likely be on the same timetable because their workers are represented by the same union.

The United Auto Workers union on Tuesday appeared to be onboard.

Detroit automakers employ about 150,000 factory workers in the United States alone. Auto plants have been shut since mid-March because of the outbreak. At least 25 employees at auto facilities represented by the UAW have died as a result of COVID-19, although it’s not known if they were infected at work.

Manley said a lot depends on whether Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer allows factories to reopen.

Last week, Whitmer hinted that auto plants may soon reopen as the curve of cases continues to flatten. She said the reopening could take place as long as the UAW can ensure employees feel safe.

The UAW said in a prepared statement that workers will return to auto plants starting May 18, and it has agreed on safety procedures to protect them. Under its contracts with Fiat Chrysler, General Motors and Ford, the companies have authority to pick restart dates. But the union can file grievances and seek closures if the virus spreads at factories.

“We all knew this day would come,” union President Rory Gamble said Tuesday. “We continue to advocate for as much testing as possible at the current time and eventually full-testing when available.”

Gamble said his family will be among those returning to work, and the union will make sure safety guidelines will be followed.

Divisions over when to start to reopen economies on the state level spilled over in Michigan last week when armed protesters entered Michigan’s Capitol building last week. The Republican-led state legislature refused to extend Michigan’s coronavirus emergency declaration. They authorized a lawsuit challenging Whitmer’s authority and actions to combat the pandemic.

Carnival to Resume Phased Cruises Starting in August

May 4, 2020

The wave of travel cancellations caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic will continue much longer than anticipated. Today Carnival Cruise Line was the first cruise line to announce that it will cease full operations in North America until July 31 and that when travel resumes, it will be in phases. The company had already extended the cessation, suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, until June 27.

If this time everything goes as planned, the restart will be from August 1, but that first phase will only include eight ships in three ports. These will be Miami (Carnival Horizon, Carnival Magic and Carnival Sensation); Canaveral Port, (Carnival Breeze and Carnival Elation), both Florida ports, as well as from Galveston, Texas, from where the Carnival Dream, Carnival Freedom and Carnival Vista would depart.

All other departures, both from ports in the United States and Australia, must resume from September 1. The company has not confirmed whether this applies to San Juan, which has Carnival Fascination as its year-round base port and would be among the remaining group that would sail from September.

The company said that this decision is to support all public health efforts in the face of this pandemic, and that the measures taken are to offer trips that are easily accessible by car for the majority of its passengers.

Travelers who had reservations for these dates will receive an email directly from Carnival , but they should also contact their local travel agents , if they made reservations through them, or online through the carnival.com page if they booked direct. with them. It is not recommended to call due to the high volume of calls and long waiting times. As with all cancellations due to coronavirus, they will be offering the option of credit for a future trip or a direct refund.

With this, Carnival confirms what was rumored in the cruise industry, that the return to the closest thing to normal is still far away. Its parent company, Carnival Corporation, which groups together the Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America, and Princess Cruises, among other cruise lines, is under the scrutiny of the United States Federal Congress, which last week launched an investigation into the way who handled the first coronavirus outbreaks, which were on the Diamond Princess and Grand Princess ships.

Iran-US tensions rise on Trump threat, Iran satellite launch

April 22, 2020

WASHINGTON (AP) — Tensions between Washington and Tehran flared anew Wednesday as Iran's Revolutionary Guard conducted a space launch that could advance the country's long-range missile program and President Donald Trump threatened to “shoot down and destroy” any Iranian gunboats that harass Navy ships.

The launch was a first for the Guard, revealing what experts described as a secret military space program that could accelerate Iran's ballistic missile development, which is a major source of U.S. and international criticism. American officials said it was too early to know whether an operational Iranian satellite was successfully placed into orbit. Trump's top diplomat accused Iran of violating U.N. resolutions.

After Iran's announcement, Trump wrote on Twitter, without citing any specific incident: “I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.”

Last Wednesday, the U.S. Navy reported that 11 Guard naval gunboats had carried out “dangerous and harassing approaches” to American Navy and Coast Guard vessels in the Persian Gulf. The Americans used a variety of nonlethal means to warn off the Iranian boats, and they eventually left. Such encounters were relatively common several years ago, but have been rare recently.

Canada shooting: Gunman kills at least 16 in rural Canada

April 19, 2020

A gunman who dressed as a policeman killed at least 16 people, including a female police officer, in the province of Nova Scotia, Canadian police say.

The 12-hour rampage ended in a car chase. The attacker is also dead.

Residents in the rural town of Portapique had been advised to lock themselves indoors after the attack began on Saturday.

Police earlier said the suspect was driving what appeared to be a police car.

he gunman shot people in several locations across Nova Scotia which meant authorities were still trying to establish the final death toll, police said on Sunday.

The police warned that there may be more victims.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable (RCMP) Heidi Stevenson, who had served in the force for 23 years, was among those killed.

"Heidi answered the call of duty and lost her life while protecting those she served," Nova Scotia RCMP Commanding Officer, Assistant Commissioner Lee Bergerman said in a Facebook post.

"Two children have lost their mother and a husband his wife. Parents lost their daughter and countless others lost an incredible friend and colleague," Mr Bergerman said.

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki said she believed the gunman had an initial "motivation" at the beginning that "turned to randomness", according to CBC News.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described it as "a terrible situation" and Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil told reporters "this is one of the most senseless acts of violence in our province's history."

 

 

Coronavirus: Prime Minister Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after condition worsens

April 6, 2020

Boris Johnson has been moved to intensive care after his condition worsened, Downing Street has said.

The prime minister was admitted to St Thomas' Hospital in London on Sunday night - 10 days after testing positive for coronavirus - due to his continuing "persistent" symptoms of COVID-19.

He was initially admitted for further tests but Mr Johnson's health has since deteriorated, Number 10 said.

Mr. Johnson remains conscious and has been moved to intensive care as a precaution should he require ventilation.

The prime minister has asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to deputise for him "where necessary", a request that was made before Mr Johnson was moved to intensive care.

The Queen has been kept informed of the developments by Downing Street.

A Number 10 spokesman said: "Over the course of this afternoon, the condition of the prime minister has worsened and, on the advice of his medical team, he has been moved to the intensive care unit at the hospital.

"The prime minister has asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is the First Secretary of State, to deputize for him where necessary. "The prime minister is receiving excellent care, and thanks to all NHS staff for their hard work and dedication."

It is understood the decision to move the prime minister to intensive care around 7pm on Monday.

This came shortly after Mr Raab had said, at the government's daily coronavirus briefing, that Mr Johnson was in "good spirits" after spending a "comfortable" night in hospital.

St Thomas' is across the River Thames from the Houses of Parliament.

Mr Johnson did not travel to the hospital by ambulance on Sunday night but travelled the short distance from Downing Street by "private transportation", the prime minister's official spokesman revealed earlier on Monday.

The prime minister's pregnant fiancee Carrie Symonds revealed at the weekend she spent a week in bed with coronavirus symptoms.

 

Four Passengers Died on Zaandam Cruise Ship with 148 People Sick with Flu-like Symptoms

March 27, 2020

Four passengers have died aboard the Zaandam as it awaits permission to transit the Panama Canal.

Almost 150 people are sick with flu-like symptoms, according to a release from Seattle-based Holland America cruise line. It is owned by Miami-based Carnival Corp.

The captain announced the deaths to passengers and crew Friday afternoon. He also stated the company planned to evacuate hundreds of healthy passengers to a sister ship anchored nearby.

The ship originally left Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7 with 1,243 passengers and 586 crew on board. It has been anchored off the coast of Panama awaiting permission to pass through the canal and hopes to dock in Port Everglades.

As of Friday, 148 of the 1,243 passengers and 586 crew onboard are experiencing flu-like symptoms, the company said. On Sunday, that number was 42.

Earlier this week, the company sent a sister ship, the Rotterdam, to aid the Zaandam. It was originally meant to bring supplies and COVID-19 tests, but the company has since decided to transfer hundreds of passengers from the Zaandam to the Rotterdam in what it calls a “humanitarian mission.”

 

 

 

The Venezuelan Prosecution Opens Investigation Against Juan Guaidó

March 26, 2020.

The Venezuelan Attorney General's Office said Thursday that it opened an investigation into opposition leader Juan Guaidó for the crime of a coup d'état.

The opening of the process was announced by the attorney general, Tarek William Saab, who indicated in his Twitter account that he opened the process to Guaidó,  retired Major General Clíver Alcalá Cordones and other collaborators for an alleged “attempted coup d'état” against President Nicolás Maduro.

On the same day, in the morning, the US government announced that it had filed charges against Maduro and his closest associates, accusing them of turning Venezuela into a criminal emporium at the service of drug traffickers and terrorists. Among the accused is also Alcalá Cordones.

In the last fourteen months, the Attorney General's Office, which is controlled by the government, has initiated five processes against the head of the National Assembly.

Saab said that the investigation was opened after a statement made by Alcalá Cordones to the Colombian radio station W Radio in which he admitted that he coordinated the transfer of a batch of weapons, which were seized at the beginning of the week in northern Colombia, and maintained that the weapons were part of an agreement between him, Guaidó and US advisers to use them in an operation against Maduro.

"In the contract that President Guaidó signed, signed by the North American advisers, it was said that the purchase of the weapons were the heritage of the Venezuelan people," said the retired military man, who has lived in Colombia for a couple of years after distancing himself from the government. 

The announcement of the process comes a day after the Minister of Communication, Jorge Rodríguez, denounced an alleged plot that was being promoted from Colombia to attack Maduro and other government figures in the midst of the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Rodríguez confirmed on Thursday that the weapons seized in Colombia, which included 26 AR-15 assault rifles and other equipment such as butts, riflescopes, rifle silencers, binoculars and radios, would be used in the anti-government plot, and accused the government of Donald Trump to design, plan and order the operation.

Rodríguez linked the plan with a batch of 26 AR-15 assault rifles and other equipment such as butts, riflescopes, rifle silencers, binoculars and radios, which were seized at the beginning of the week by Colombian police.

Without presenting evidence, the minister affirmed that the weapons were destined for the Venezuelan city of Maracaibo, in the west of the country, where it would be distributed among "command groups" to carry out violent acts in Venezuela.

Guaidó, who has been recognized as interim president by almost 60 countries, announced on Wednesday that he managed to "recover" $ 20 million of resources from Venezuela that were abroad to be granted and administered by international multilateral organizations to confront the coronavirus, which threatens with generating serious havoc in the South American nation in the face of the deterioration of its health system and the severe economic and social crisis it is facing.

The opposition leader urged, in a message that he spread on social networks, that the armed forces “remove the obstacles” that prevent the arrival of humanitarian aid.

The European Union closes borders to foreigners to stop the virus

March 17, 2020.

BRUSSELS - European Union leaders agreed to ban foreigners from entering the 27-country bloc for 30 days to discourage the spread of the coronavirus.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, said on Tuesday that the proposal "received much support from member states. Now it is up to them to implement it. They said they will do so immediately."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said European leaders agreed in a conference call on the Commission's proposal to ban entry with "very, very limited exceptions."

Merkel added that citizens of Switzerland, Liechtenstein, the United Kingdom and Norway are exempt.

European leaders also agreed to coordinate the repatriation of stranded EU citizens outside the bloc.

Through videoconferencing, officials held their second summit in two weeks on Tuesday to evaluate the measures to be taken against the coronavirus, while Europe succeeded China as the epicenter of the fight against a disease that is taking thousands of lives.

The number of infected in Europe now exceeds 50,000, with more than 2,000 dead. The inexorable advance of the disease has shaken markets and spread fear among public opinion, but nervous governments have introduced quick measures, such as quarantines or partial border closures, without much consultation.

After Italy, the zero zone of the European war against COVID-19, Spain and now France have imposed quarantines, confining their citizens home except for urgent tasks such as buying food or going to any hospital that still had the capacity to attend to them.

he objective of the announced measures is to reduce unnecessary movements, but at the same ti

me to ensure the movement of goods, of goods, so that we can guarantee as much as possible the integrity of the single market, guarantee the deliveries that are needed.

The coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 190,000 people and killed more than 7,500 worldwide.

9 dead in Turkey as 5.7 earthquake strikes western Iran

February 23, 2020

ANKARA, Turkey — Nine people were killed in Turkey in a magnitude 5.7 earthquake that struck western Iran early Sunday morning, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

The quake centered west of the Iranian city of Khoy and affected villages in the Turkish province of Van.

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told a news conference that three children and four adults were killed in Turkey’s Baskule district. Koca later updated the number of fatalities to nine and wrote on Twitter that 37 people were injured, including nine in a critical but not life-threatening condition.

Emergency teams have been sent to the remote mountainous region.

Iran’s official IRNA news agency said the earthquake affected 43 villages in the mountainous Qotour area. It later added that at least 75 people had been injured, six of whom were hospitalized.

According to the European Mediterranean Seismological Center (EMSC), the quake, which happened at 9:22am local time (0552GMT), had a depth of 5 kilometers (3 miles).

The region has a history of powerful earthquakes. Last month a quake centered on the eastern Turkish city of Elazig killed more than 40 people. In 2011, more than 600 were killed when a quake struck north of Van province’s capital.

Turkish broadcaster NTV showed images of locals and soldiers digging through the rubble of collapsed buildings as families fearing further tremors sat in snowy streets. The EMSC reported several further quakes that measured up to magnitude 4.4.

The effects of the quake hit four villages in Van. Seven of the fatalities occurred in Ozpinar village, where Soylu said search and rescue teams had arrived. He added that the quake caused 1,066 buildings to collapse while the Education Ministry said a number of schools were damaged.

Koca said 25 ambulances, a medical helicopter and 13 emergency teams had been sent to the region. The Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD) said 144 tents for families had been dispatched.

 

Thailand Mass Shooting:Police Searching for the Gunman, 20 Dead

February 8, 2020 

BANGKOK — A Thai soldier shot and killed at least 20 people Saturday in northeast Thailand, sheltering in a shopping mall for more than 10 hours after the attack first began, police in Thailand said.

Of the 20 who are dead, 16 died on the spot, Thailand's Ministry of Health announced. Another 31 were injured, with four undergoing emergency surgery and another six placed in intensive care. As the standoff moved into early Sunday morning local time, bursts of automatic gunfire were heard from inside the shopping mall when Thai security forces suddenly rushed in to free hundreds of people who had been trapped inside.

Hours earlier, the suspect, Sgt. Jakrapanth Thomma, began his alleged rampage after shooting and killing another soldier and a woman at a military barracks in the northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima, police spokesman Kissana Phathanacharoen said. A third person was also wounded in that incident.

Investigators believe a dispute over a land deal payment may have sparked the shooting, Phathanacharoen added.

Thomma escaped in a military Humvee and opened fire at a number of different locations in the city, police said. He then holed up in a shopping mall and is yet to be apprehended.

 

Coronavirus Spreads to More Countries

January 31, 2020

.The United Kingdom has confirmed its first two cases of the new coronavirus, a day after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a global emergency.

At least 213 have died in China, as more countries announced plans to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak.

Beijing said there are at least 9,809 people confirmed to have the infection, which has spread from Wuhan's Hubei province to every one of China's 31 provinces. Another 102,000 people were also reportedly under medical observation with possible symptoms of the respiratory ailment.

Italy declares state of emergency over coronavirus: Official The Italian government has declared a state of emergency to fast-track efforts to prevent the spread of a deadly coronavirus strain after two cases were confirmed in Rome.

Italy had said on Thursday it was stopping all flights to and from China following the news that two Chinese tourists holidaying in Italy had tested positive for the virus.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in China has risen over 9,800, the country's envoy to the United Nations in Vienna said.

"Altogether there are 9,809 confirmed cases. Among them, there are 1,527 cases of critical conditions, (plus) 15,238 suspected cases," the ambassador, Wang Qun - speaking through an interpreter - told member states and reporters. He added that there had been 213 deaths.

Singapore said it was suspending entry to travelers with a recent history of travel to China and suspending visas for Chinese passport holders.

Watch: Turkey 2020 Earthquake

Iran fires rockets at US forces in Iraq

January 7, 2020

Iran has fired more than a dozen rockets at two Iraqi military bases hosting US troops, the Pentagon confirmed.

The rockets fired at the Ain al-Asad base in Anbar province and a base in Erbil come amid escalating tensions between Tehran and Washington.

The attacks follow the US killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in Iraq last week. Iran had vowed severe retaliation.

 

NATO Stands with US After Soleimani Assassination & Warns Iran

January 6, 2020

All members of the Atlantic alliance stood behind the United States in the Middle East after it briefed NATO on its drone attack that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday.

Speaking after a rare NATO meeting on Iran and Iraq in which the United States briefed its allies about last Friday's drone attack, Stoltenberg also called for a de-escalation of tensions, echoing the statements of some European leaders.

"We are united in condemning Iran's support of a variety of different terrorist groups," Stoltenberg said. "At the meeting today, allies called for restraint and de-escalation. A new conflict would be in no one's interest. So, Iran must refrain from further violence and provocations."

Despite anger last year among European NATO allies over US strategy in the Middle East under President Donald Trump, two diplomats present confirmed that the two-hour meeting at NATO headquarters went smoothly.

They said that no envoy challenged US State Department and Department of Defense officials, who briefed via video conference, over the merits of Friday's drone raid.

There was also no discussion or criticism of Trump's list of targets, that include cultural sites, if Iran were to retaliate with attacks on Americans or US assets, the diplomats said.

The meeting, which took place on a day of a huge outpouring of national grief for Soleimani in Iran, centred mainly on NATO's decision to suspend its training mission in Iraq, after an Iraqi parliamentary resolution called on foreign troops to leave.

Five Injured After New Attack in the vicinity of the US Embassy in Baghdad

January 5th, 2020

Baghdad - At least five civilians were injured today, Sunday, by the impact of a missile on a house near the Green Zone of Baghdad, while four other projectiles fell into this area that houses embassies and government buildings.

An Iraqi Interior Ministry source who requested anonymity confirmed to Efe that four Katyusha-type missiles hit the Green Zone compound, while a fifth did so in a house in Al Yadria, facing this fortified area.

The latter caused injuries to five civilians and property damage to the residence.

This is the second attack of this type in the last 24 hours in the country after several projectiles fell last night without causing casualties in the center of the capital and at the military base of Al Balad, where there is US troops present.

All this occurs in the midst of a severe escalation of tension in the Middle East unleashed after the US attack. in Baghdad that on Friday ended the life of the Quds Force commander of the Guardians of the Iranian Revolution (IRGC), General Qasem Soleimani, and leaders of the Popular Crowd militias, supported by Tehran.

Days before, an American contractor had died in an action against a military base, to which Washington responded with an action against Popular Crowd positions, leaving 25 dead in its rank.

In retaliation, members and supporters of these militias made up mainly of Shiites stormed the US Embassy in Baghdad, culminating shortly thereafter in the selective attack on Soleimani and the other high command.

Missile and mortar attacks are relatively common in the Green Zone, which houses diplomatic legations such as the United States or the United Kingdom.

Soleimani Killed in US Air Raid

January 3, 2019

Tensions between the United States and Iran escalated on Friday after a US air raid killed Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces, or PMF.

The Pentagon confirmed the attack at Baghdad's international airport, saying it came "at the direction of the president".

Soleimani and al-Muhandis's deaths are a potential turning point in the Middle East and are expected to draw severe retaliation from Iran and the forces it backs in the region against Israel and US interests.

Astronaut Sets Record for Woman with More Time in Space

Christina Koch will spend 328 days aboard the orbital base before returning to Earth

A US astronaut set a record for a woman's longest space flight on Saturday, surpassing the 288-day mark, and there are still about two months left before her mission ends.

Christina Koch , a 40-year-old electrical engineer and a native of Livingston, Montana, arrived at the International Space Station on March 14. The record that she surpassed was that of the former commander of the Peggy Whitson space station, who accomplished his mission in 2015 and 2016.

Koch is expected to spend a total of 328 days, or almost 11 months, on board the orbital base before returning to Earth. The missions usually last six months, but NASA announced in April that it would extend its mission until February.

The United States record for the longest space flight is Scott Kelly for his stay in 2015 and 2016. The world record is 15 months, in the 1990s, of a Russian cosmonaut aboard the former Mir space station.

Koch's extended mission will help NASA learn about the effects of long spaceflight, data that NASA personnel say are needed to support future exploration missions to the Moon and Mars.

Before beating a woman's resistance record in space, Koch had already made history as part of the first spacewalk team composed solely of women, in October. It was Koch's fourth spacewalk.

Pakistan Former President Senenced to Death

December 17, 2019

 Pakistani court has sentenced former military ruler Pervez Musharraf to death in absentia for treason over his 2007 imposition of emergency rule. Such a verdict is a first in a country with a history of army rule.

The military reacted angrily, saying legal process "seems to have been ignored".

The general seized power in a 1999 coup and was president from 2001 to 2008.

The penalty is unlikely to be carried out. Gen Musharraf was allowed to leave Pakistan in 2016 and is in Dubai.

The high treason charge has been pending since 2013. It relates to Gen Musharraf's suspension of the constitution in 2007, when he declared an emergency in a move intended to extend his tenure.  

The 76-year-old says he is receiving medical treatment in Dubai. He issued a video statement from a hospital bed earlier this month, describing the case against him as "baseless".

Three judges at the special court in Islamabad found him guilty by two to one.

New Delhi Factory Fire: Dozens of Workers Sleeping Inside Killed

December 8, 2019

At least 43 people have died in a devastating fire in a multi-storey building housing a factory in a congested market area of India's capital New Delhi, officials said.

The blaze broke out at about 4am local time on Sunday (22:30 GMT on Saturday) in the city's old quarter, whose narrow lanes are lined with many small manufacturing and storage units.

Monika Bhardwaj, deputy police commissioner of New Delhi's north district, told AFP news agency that the death toll from the incident had jumped to "43, with 16 others still admitted at the local hospitals".

"Fire department has completed the rescue work. There are no more bodies at the site," said Bhardwaj. "We don't yet know the cause of fire but know that it was aggravated because of plastic packing pouches, bags and other such material there."

Fire officials said it was very difficult to access the dark, poorly-lit premises in the commercial hub of Sadar Bazar in the older part of the capital.

Firefighters fought the blaze from 100 metres away because it broke out in one of the area's many alleyways, tangled in electrical wire and too narrow for vehicles to access, authorities at the scene said.

While the cause of the fire is not clear, police and fire officials said they were investigating whether a manufacturing unit was operating illegally in the crowded area.

They were "labourers and factory workers sleeping inside this four- or five-storied building," said Sunil Choudhary, New Delhi's deputy chief fire officer.

 

FROM FREDERIKSTED TO THE WORLD

Several Dead, Hundreds of Homes Burned in Australia's 'Mega Fire'

DeFires raging out of control in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) have merged into what firefighters dubbed a "mega fire", escalating the destruction of the country's worst fire season on record.

More than 2.1 million hectares (5.1 million acres) have been scorched, 688 homes destroyed, and six people killed since fires erupted across the state in September.

Greg Allan, spokesman for the NSW Rural Fire Service (RSF), said 87 separate fires were burning throughout the state on Sunday.

Cooler weather and more favourable wind conditions have assisted firefighters in containing many of these blazes throughout the day, but about 50 remain out of control, including the Gospers Mountain "mega fire" near Sydney's northwest outskirts.

."Crews today have worked to slow the spread of fire under the more favourable conditions of easterly winds and undertake back burning where they can ahead of worsening conditions on Tuesday," Allan said.

Temperatures are expected to hit the high 30s to low 40s throughout the state on Tuesday with westerly winds returning, which threatens to place large parts of the state under "severe fire danger".

The worst of Australia's fire season usually comes in the mid-summer month of January.

"It was a very fast, very early, very destructive season," Allan told Al Jazeera. "In fact, the amount of hectares already burned is more than the previous thRSF is the world's largest volunteer firefighting service. Allan said about 2,200 volunteer firefighters and support crews are right now working to save homes, lives and forests throughout NSW.ree seasons combined, and the season is not over yet."

 

December 5, 2019

Russian National Charged with Decade-Long Series of Hacking and Bank Fraud Offenses Resulting in Tens of Millions in Losses and Second Russian National Charged with Involvement in Deployment of “Bugat” Malware

Reward of up to $5 Million Offered for Information Leading to Arrest or Conviction

The United States of America, through its Departments of Justice and State, and the United Kingdom, through its National Crime Agency (NCA), today announced the unsealing of criminal charges in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Lincoln, Nebraska, against Maksim V. Yakubets, aka online moniker, “aqua,” 32, of Moscow, Russia, related to two separate international computer hacking and bank fraud schemes spanning from May 2009 to the present. A second individual, Igor Turashev, 38, from Yoshkar-Ola, Russia, was also indicted in Pittsburgh for his role related to the “Bugat” malware conspiracy. The State Department, in partnership with the FBI, announced today a reward of up to $5 million under the Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Yakubets. This represents the largest such reward offer for a cyber criminal to date.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady for the Western District of Pennsylvania, U.S. Attorney Joseph P. Kelly for the District of Nebraska, FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary James A. Walsh of the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), and Director Rob Jones of the Cyber Crime Unit at the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA) made the announcement.

“Maksim Yakubets allegedly has engaged in a decade-long cybercrime spree that deployed two of the most damaging pieces of financial malware ever used and resulted in tens of millions of dollars of losses to victims worldwide,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski. “These two cases demonstrate our commitment to unmasking the perpetrators behind the world’s most egregious cyberattacks. The assistance of our international partners, in particular the National Crime Agency of the United Kingdom, was crucial to our efforts to identify Yakubets and his co-conspirators.”

“For over a decade, Maksim Yakubets and Igor Turashev led one of the most sophisticated transnational cybercrime syndicates in the world,” said U.S. Attorney Brady. “Deploying ‘Bugat’ malware, also known as ‘Cridex’ and ‘Dridex,’ these cybercriminals targeted individuals and companies in western Pennsylvania and across the globe in one of the most widespread malware campaigns we have ever encountered. International cybercriminals who target Pennsylvania citizens and companies are no different than any other criminal: they will be investigated, prosecuted and held accountable for their actions.”

“The Zeus scheme was one of the most outrageous cybercrimes in history,” said U.S. Attorney Kelly. “Our identification of Yakubets as the actor who used the moniker ‘aqua’ in that scheme, as alleged in the complaint unsealed today, is a prime example of how we will pursue cyber criminals to the ends of justice no matter how long it takes, by tracking their activity both online and off and working with our international partners to expose their crimes.”

 

Bus crash in northern Tunisia kills more than 20

December 1, 2019

Tunisia's health ministry has said a bus carrying local tourists crashed off a hill, killing 24 people and injuring 18 others.

The bus, which belonged to a private company, veered off track after its driver failed to manoeuvre a sharp turn in the country's northern Ain Snoussi region and crashed at the bottom of a ravine, the interior ministry said on Sunday.

Local media showed images of the crash site where the bus stood at the bottom of the hill, its windows smashed.

Khaled Lahyoune, a spokesman for the interior ministry, told The Associated Press news agency that the vehicle was heading from the capital, Tunis, to Ain Draham, a popular autumn destination.

Lahyoune said the injured were transferred to Amdoum and Beja hospitals for treatment.

 

 

November 29, 2019

Maduro brings 'Black Friday'retail discounts to Venezuela

Venezuelans on Friday flocked to shopping centres in Caracas, the country's largest city, to take advantage of the first "Black Friday" discounts in recent memory, as socialist President Nicolas Maduro's government loosens controls in the face of an economic crisis.

For the first six holiday seasons of his presidency, Maduro attempted to keep consumer goods prices low despite galloping inflation with strict enforcement of price controls. This year, with the OPEC nation facing crippling sanctions imposed by the United States on its oil industry, the government has left retailers more or less alone.

"My sister saw it on social media and said, 'Look, there are 70 percent discounts at the Sambil,' and we came running," said Elizabeth Diaz, a 42-year-old bank worker from the city of Los Teques some 35km (22 miles) from Caracas' Sambil mall, where she was waiting in line outside a toy store to buy gifts for her three grandchildren.

"Discounts are the only way, because, with prices through the roof, one can't afford anything," she said.

Malls and small retailers across the country advertised discounts of up to 80 percent on goods from shoes to electronics, hoping an influx of Christmas shoppers could compensate for weak sales so far in Venezuela's sixth straight year of economic contraction.

 

November 13th, 2019

Over 400 rockets fired so far; 24 dead in Gaza, mostly terrorists

More than 350 rockets fired at Israel which deploys tanks, artillery batteries along Gaza border amid predictions violence will escalate.

The number of Palestinians killed since the beginning of fighting between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad climbed to 23 Wednesday afternoon after the IDF struck a group of terrorists preparing to fire an anti-tank missile at Israeli positions across the Gaza border.

More than 100 rockets were fired into Israel since Wednesday morning, bringing the total number since fighting broke out on Tuesday to 350.

Mexico has offered asylum to former Bolivian President Evo Morales, a day after he resigned following weeks of protest over a disputed election.

Mexico says the decision was taken for "humanitarian reasons" after a request from Mr Morales.

Mr Morales has not yet commented. He earlier urged his supporters to resist the "dark powers" that had forced him to step down.

Some 20 people were reported injured as his supporters clashed with police.

High and lows of Evo Morales' presidency

Why protesters are on the streets worldwide Mr Morales, Bolivia's first indigenous leader, stepped down after the head of the army publicly called on him to leave his post.

The deputy head of the Senate said she would take over as interim president until new elections were held.

Country profile

Mr Morales, a former coca farmer, was first elected in 2006. He has won plaudits for fighting poverty and improving Bolivia's economy but drew controversy by defying constitutional term limits to run for a fourth term in October's election, which is alleged to have been rife with irregularities.

NOVEMBER 10, 2019

Bolivian president Evo Morales resigns after election result dispute

Evo Morales has announced he will resign as president of Bolivia after the military called for him to step down and the police withdrew their support following weeks of unrest over disputed election results.

In a televised address, Bolivia’s president of nearly 14 years said he was stepping down for the “good of the country” but added in an attack on opponents whom he had accused of a coup attempt: “Dark forces have destroyed democracy.”

His announcement came shortly after the commander-in-chief of the Bolivian armed forces, Williams Kaliman, exhorted him to resign his “presidential mandate allowing the pacification and maintenance of stability for the good of Bolivia.”

In Bolivia’s main city of La Paz people poured onto the streets waving the country’s red, yellow and green flags. Morales’ vice president, Alvaro García Linera, also resigned.

Earlier on Sunday, Morales said he would call a new election after the Organisation of American States identified serious irregularities in the last vote and recommended a new ballot.

TURKEY BOMBS SINJAR VILLAGES IN IRAQ WHERE GENOCIDE SURVIVORS LIVE

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

Turkey’s attacks on Syria and Iraq escalated on Tuesday as its warplanes bombed Sinjar two days in a row, striking at villages inhabited by the Yazidi minority. Yazidis survived the ISIS genocide by they have been targeted in both Afrin in Syria, which Turkey invaded in January 2018, and in eastern Syria where Turkey is carrying out an invasion against Kurdish fighters. Turkey claims it is fighting “terrorists,” but locals say airstrikes and attacks by Turkish-backed militants have caused civilians to flee.

Turkey claims it is operating against “security concerns,” but its attacks on Syria have led to 200,000 people fleeing, including 14,425 who had to flee all the way to Iraq and now live in refugee camps in the Kurdistan autonomous region. In Sinjar Yazidis were subjected to genocide by ISIS in 2014, thousands of them massacred and their bodies dumped in mass graves. 3,000 of them, mostly women and children kidnapped and enslaved by ISIS, are still missing. Turkey did not operate to stop the genocide in 2014 and when ISIS occupied areas along its border near Tel Abyad Turkey did not invade Syria. However, once members of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units had helped save Yazidis and helped defeat ISIS in areas such as Kobane and Tel Abyad in northern Syria, Turkey invaded the area.

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Many bodies have been recovered but dozens still missing in Cameroon landslide

Lebanon's PM Saad Hariri resigns as protesters come under attack

October 29, 2019

Lebanon’s prime minister, Saad Hariri, has announced his resignation, in a move set to spark further uncertainty in a country paralysed by political dysfunction and nationwide protests.

Hariri’s announcement came several hours after hundreds of youths overran protest sites in downtown Beirut, ransacking tents and stalls set up by demonstrators who, for the past 13 days, have demanded an overhaul of the ruling class and an end to rampant corruption.

The embattled leader said he intended to make a “positive shock” by quitting, claiming that doing so served “the country’s dignity and safety”. Over the past fortnight, he has tabled reforms, including the abolition of several cabinet positions and some cuts to spending, but the moves have fallen short of the structural changes demanded by protesters.

The protests have left politicians scrambling unsuccessfully to react and have exposed the depth of feeling in Lebanon, where an imminent economic collapse threatens to cripple the country’s banking system and social fabric.

The depth of the crisis and lack of political solutions have galvanised Lebanese citizens from all political persuasions and walks of life, leading to a movement that shows little sign of slowing down, even after the main protest site was ransacked on Tuesday.

The assault was blamed by demonstrators on two factions, Hezbollah and Amal, whose political leaders do not support a change in government. The Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, the most powerful figure in Lebanon despite not holding an official position, has warned of chaos if protests were allowed to continue.

Deadly M 6.6 Earthquake Strikes The Philippines Near Mindanao

MANILA, Philippines — A magnitude 6.6 earthquake struck the southern Philippines on Tuesday, leaving at least seven killed and widespread damage.

The epicenter of the earthquake was 14 kilometers to the east of Bual, Philippines, and 60 miles from Davao City, the capital of Mindanao. At this time, the USGS has issued no warning of a tsunami threat for the nearby islands.

At this time, over 1,200 homes and ten schools have been destroyed by the recent earthquake with many more sustaining significant damage from the shaking.

This was the second powerful earthquake to strike Mindanao in just a couple of weeks. The region experienced a 6.3 magnitude earthquake on October 16, 2019, killing five.

The ongoing movements along a nearby major fault line are the result of the two earthquakes.

The Philippines are located to the southwest of the Philippine Sea, which is bordered by multiple major tectonic plate convergences. The Philippine Sea plate is subducting underneath the Philippines, causing the formation of the Philippine Trench and ongoing volcanics and earthquakes in the island nation.

 

THE PROTEST IN HONG KONG IS SHOWING NO SIGN OF ENDING SOON.