Alan Kurdi rescue ship saves 44 stranded people in Mediterranean

save from seaLast week, the Alan Kurdi rescued 65 shipwrecked migrants attempting the perilous journey from North Africa [File: Darrin Zammit Lupi/AP]

At least 44 people, including infants, have been picked up from their stricken vessel off Libya’s coast in the Mediterranean Sea, according to a German charity operating the ship that rescued them.

Malta agreed to take in those rescued by the Alan Kurdi ship and was sending a vessel to pick them up, the Sea-Eye charity said late on Monday. There was no immediate confirmation by Maltese authorities.

Sea-Eye said it was alerted to the plight of the people in need of rescue by Tunisian fishermen and the Colibri civilian search plane.

“Forty-four people, including four women and three children,” were brought on board the Alan Kurdi, Sea-Eye said. The children are aged 15 months, three years, and five years.

The rescued people, who come from Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Guinea, said they had left Zuwara in Libya early on Saturday in a wooden boat, according to AFP news agency.

The Alan Kurdi last week rescued 65 shipwrecked people attempting the perilous journey to reach Europe, and handing them over to Malta on Sunday after Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini closed his country’s ports to the vessel.

They have already been sent on to other European Union countries, but it is not clear what would happen to those most recently rescued.

An Italian customs vessel, run by the NGO Mediterranea, on Tuesday brought 47 rescued people into Sicily’s Pozzallo port, Italian media reported. They had been headed to the Italian island of Lampedusa, between Sicily and Libya, but there was no space for them there as hundreds of refugees and migrants continue to arrive by their own means or are rescued by authorities.

Salvini has vowed to close Italian ports to charity rescue ships, which he accuses of helping people smugglers. Interior Ministry figures showed that 395 people have arrived in Italy since the end of June.

Italian media reported on Tuesday that this year barely one in 10 migrants and asylum seekers has been brought into Italy by charity vessels, the vast majority arriving by other means.

Sea-Watch docking

Italy last month issued a decree that imposes fines of up to 50,000 euros ($57,000) for the captain, owner and operator of a vessel “entering Italian territorial waters without authorisation”.

Authorities on Lampedusa in late June seized a rescue ship belonging to German aid group Sea-Watch, which had forced its way into port with dozens of rescued people on board, and arrested its captain, Carola Rackete.

An Italian judge subsequently ordered her freed, saying she had been acting to save lives.

Libya, which has been wracked by chaos since a 2011 uprising against the rule of late leader Muammar Gaddafi, has long been a major transit route for people, especially from sub-Saharan Africa, desperate to reach Europe.

Last week, 53 refugees and migrants were killed in an air raid on a detention centre in a Tripoli suburb held by forces loyal to Tripoli’s United Nations-recognised government.

 

 

 

 

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/07/alan-kurdi-rescue-ship-saves-44-stranded-people-mediterranean-190709100458532.html

 

 

Scores killed, millions displaced as monsoon batters South Asia

DE3D858D-E046-4624-AECA-3A889492CC7ERescuers look for survivors after a building collapsed in monsoon rains near the town of Solan in India [The Associated Press]

More than 100 people have been killed and two million forced from their homes across Nepal, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh as rain-triggered floods and landslides left a trail of destruction in parts of South Asia.

The death toll was the highest in Nepal, where torrential rains unleashed mudslides and caused rivers to overflow, killing at least 67 people, officials said on Monday.

The annual deluge, which hit the country on Thursday, has so far displaced at least 10,000 people there.

The downpours have eased but authorities still fear the death toll could rise, according to police spokesman Bishwaraj Pokharel, who gave the latest number of dead and missing from floods and landslides.

“There are the challenges of resettlement of the displaced as many houses … have been swept away. We are also cautious about the risk of epidemics due to polluted water,” Pokharel told AFP news agency.

Building collapse in India

The June to September monsoon causes widespread death and destruction across South Asia each year.

In the latest monsoon-related tragedy in India, a four-storey building on a hillside in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh collapsed due to heavy downpours, trapping those who had gathered for a party inside.

At least 14 people were killed, including 13 soldiers, according to a statement from the chief minister’s office.

Rescue workers used heavy machinery to remove heaps of mangled steel and wires from the muddied debris, pulling 28 survivors from the rubble.

Floods have also devastated much of the northeastern state of Assam, where at least 1.5 million people have been forced from their homes. Four people died on Sunday after being swept away by sudden torrents.

The state’s Kaziranga National Park, a UNESCO-recognised reserve and home to two-thirds of the world’s one-horned rhinos, has also been seriously affected by the weather.

In the eastern state of Bihar, five rivers were flowing over the danger levels with more rain forecast for the next few days. Pratata Amrit, an Indian government official, said about 200,000 people have left their flooded village homes in Bihar, with 50,000 of them taking shelter in 152 state-run relief camps.

In Pakistan-administered Kashmir, officials said at least 18 people were killed after heavy rain triggered flash floods and damaged more than 50 houses.

‘Miserable’

Bangladesh, a low-lying delta nation of 160 million people with more than 130 rivers, is prone to monsoon floods because of overflowing rivers and the heavy onrush of water from upstream India.

At least 29 people have died in the last week, including two Rohingya refugees, 18 people who were hit by lightning in different parts of the country and seven who drowned after their boat capsized in choppy waters in the Bay of Bengal.

Another 500,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in Bangladesh’s southern Chittagong district after the flooding of some 200 villages.

In the overcrowded refugee camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district – home to nearly one million Rohingya who have fled a military crackdown in Myanmar – nearly 5,000 tarpaulin and bamboo homes were destroyed after heavy rains triggered mudslides on the hill slopes, according to a spokeswoman for the International Organisation for Migration.

Nearly 6,000 Rohingya have been left without shelter because of heavy rains.

Displaced refugees said they were suffering as rain disrupted logistics and daily activity in the camps.

“It’s tough to go to food distribution centres by wading through a swamp of mud,” Nurun Jan, a Rohingya refugee, told AFP news agency. “Rains and gusty wind have made our life miserable.”

Refugees also described a shortage of drinking water and a looming health crisis due to flooded toilets, which foster disease outbreaks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/07/scores-killed-millions-displaced-monsoon-batters-south-asia-190715112857902.html

Italian court jails 24 over South American Operation Condor

Condor Family members hold photos of people who disappeared during Operation Condor, in Santiago, Chile, in 2004. Photograph: Ian Salas/EPA

An Italian court has sentenced 24 people to life in prison for their involvement in Operation Condor, in which the dictatorships of six South American countries conspired to kidnap and assassinate political opponents in each other’s territories.

The trial, the first of its kind in Europe, began in 2015 and focused on the responsibility of senior officials in the military dictatorships of Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia and Argentina for the killing and disappearance of 43 people including 23 Italian citizens.

Those sentenced on Monday included Francisco Morales Bermúdez, who was president of Peru from 1975 to 1980, Juan Carlos Blanco, a former foreign minister in Uruguay, Pedro Espinoza Bravo, a former deputy intelligence chief in Chile, and Jorge Néstor Fernández Troccoli, a Uruguayan former naval intelligence officer.

Exactly how many people died as a result of the conspiracy is unknown, but prosecutors in South America and Italy provided evidence that at least 100 leftwing activists were killed in Argentina, including 45 Uruguayans, 22 Chileans, 15 Paraguayans and 13 Bolivians.

“Operation Condor spared no one,” said Francesca Lessa, a research fellow at Oxford University’s Latin American Centre. “Refugees and asylum seekers were especially targeted, while children – illegally detained with their parents – had their biological identity stolen and replaced by that of adoptive families.”

According to a database recording the crimes of the coordinated regional repression, at least 496 people of 11 nationalities were kidnapped under the auspices of Operation Condor.

Declassified documents suggest some victims were drugged, their stomachs were slit open and they were dropped from planes into the Atlantic Ocean. Other victims’ bodies were cemented into barrels and thrown into rivers.

Monday’s verdict was the result of years of pressure from the families of those who disappeared. “For decades, the victims’ relatives have been seeking justice,” Lessa said. “In the late 1990s and early 2000s, impunity dominated South America, with former politicians and military officials involved in Condor Operation still enjoying immunity. Bringing them before a judge to take responsibility for their crimes was not a simple undertaking.”

The crimes took place in the 1970s and 1980s. “Many of the perpetrators were growing old and may never be brought to justice,” said Jorge Ithurburu, a lawyer for 24 Marzo, a Rome-based NGO. “The more time passed the more the witnesses of those atrocious crimes aged or died.”

Aurora Meloni, 68, whose husband, Daniel Banfi, was kidnapped and murdered in Buenos Aires in 1974, told the Guardian: “We’ve never given up and today we all won. Today’s ruling is not only for my husband … today’s ruling is dedicated to all the people killed and kidnapped under Condor.”

Prosecutors in the case drew on the precedent set in 2000 by the arrest in London of the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet under the principle of “universal jurisdiction”.

In 2016, Argentina’s last military dictator, Reynaldo Bignone, and 16 other former military officials were sentenced to years in prison, marking the first time a court had proved the existence of Operation Condor.

Last April, a newly declassified CIA document showed that European intelligence agencies sought advice from South America’s 1970s dictatorships on how to combat leftwing “subversion”.

“Representatives of West German, French and British intelligence services had visited the Condor organization secretariat in Buenos Aires during the month of September 1977 in order to discuss methods for establishment of an anti-subversion organization similar to Condor,” the document stated.

According to the human rights prosecution office in Buenos Aires, 977 former military officers and collaborators are in jail for crimes relating to Argentina’s dictatorship.

 

 

 

 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/08/italian-court-jails-24-over-south-american-operation-condor

Tree planting ‘has mind-blowing potential’ to tackle climate crisis

Trees Redwood trees in Guerneville, California. Photograph: Gabrielle Lurie/The Guardian

Planting billions of trees across the world is by far the biggest and cheapest way to tackle the climate crisis, according to scientists, who have made the first calculation of how many more trees could be planted without encroaching on crop land or urban areas.

As trees grow, they absorb and store the carbon dioxide emissions that are driving global heating. New research estimates that a worldwide planting programme could remove two-thirds of all the emissions that have been pumped into the atmosphere by human activities, a figure the scientists describe as “mind-blowing”.

The analysis found there are 1.7bn hectares of treeless land on which 1.2tn native tree saplings would naturally grow. That area is about 11% of all land and equivalent to the size of the US and China combined. Tropical areas could have 100% tree cover, while others would be more sparsely covered, meaning that on average about half the area would be under tree canopy.

The scientists specifically excluded all fields used to grow crops and urban areas from their analysis. But they did include grazing land, on which the researchers say a few trees can also benefit sheep and cattle.

“This new quantitative evaluation shows [forest] restoration isn’t just one of our climate change solutions, it is overwhelmingly the top one,” said Prof Tom Crowther at the Swiss university ETH Zürich, who led the research. “What blows my mind is the scale. I thought restoration would be in the top 10, but it is overwhelmingly more powerful than all of the other climate change solutions proposed.”

Crowther emphasised that it remains vital to reverse the current trends of rising greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and forest destruction, and bring them down to zero. He said this is needed to stop the climate crisis becoming even worse and because the forest restoration envisaged would take 50-100 years to have its full effect of removing 200bn tonnes of carbon.

But tree planting is “a climate change solution that doesn’t require President Trump to immediately start believing in climate change, or scientists to come up with technological solutions to draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere”, Crowther said. “It is available now, it is the cheapest one possible and every one of us can get involved.” Individuals could make a tangible impact by growing trees themselves, donating to forest restoration organisations and avoiding irresponsible companies, he added.

Other scientists agree that carbon will need to be removed from the atmosphere to avoid catastrophic climate impacts and have warned that technological solutions will not work on the vast scale needed.

Jean-François Bastin, also at ETH Zürich, said action was urgently required: “Governments must now factor [tree restoration] into their national strategies.”

Christiana Figueres, former UN climate chief and founder of the Global Optimism group, said: “Finally we have an authoritative assessment of how much land we can and should cover with trees without impinging on food production or living areas. This is hugely important blueprint for governments and private sector.”

René Castro, assistant-director general at the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, said: “We now have definitive evidence of the potential land area for re-growing forests, where they could exist and how much carbon they could store.”

The study, published in the journal Science, determines the potential for tree planting but does not address how a global tree planting programme would be paid for and delivered.

Crowther said: “The most effective projects are doing restoration for 30 US cents a tree. That means we could restore the 1tn trees for $300bn [£240bn], though obviously that means immense efficiency and effectiveness. But it is by far the cheapest solution that has ever been proposed.” He said financial incentives to land owners for tree planting are the only way he sees it happening, but he thinks $300bn would be within reach of a coalition of billionaire philanthropists and the public.

The research is based on the measurement of the tree cover by hundreds of people in 80,000 high-resolution satellite images from Google Earth. Artificial intelligence computing then combined this data with 10 key soil, topography and climate factors to create a global map of where trees could grow.

This showed that about two-thirds of all land – 8.7bn ha – could support forest, and that 5.5bn ha already has trees. Of the 3.2bn ha of treeless land, 1.5bn ha is used for growing food, leaving 1.7bn of potential forest land in areas that were previously degraded or sparsely vegetated.

“This research is excellent,” said Joseph Poore, an environmental researcher at the Queen’s College, University of Oxford. “It presents an ambitious but essential vision for climate and biodiversity.” But he said many of the reforestation areas identified are currently grazed by livestock including, for example, large parts of Ireland.

“Without freeing up the billions of hectares we use to produce meat and milk, this ambition is not realisable,” he said. Crowther said his work predicted just two to three trees per field for most pasture: “Restoring trees at [low] density is not mutually exclusive with grazing. In fact many studies suggest sheep and cattle do better if there are a few trees in the field.”

Crowther also said the potential to grow trees alongside crops such as coffee, cocoa and berries – called agro-forestry – had not been included in the calculation of tree restoration potential, and neither had hedgerows: “Our estimate of 0.9bn hectares [of canopy cover] is reasonably conservative.”

However, some scientists said the estimated amount of carbon that mass tree planting could suck from the air was too high. Prof Simon Lewis, at University College London, said the carbon already in the land before tree planting was not accounted for and that it takes hundreds of years to achieve maximum storage. He pointed to a scenario from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 1.5C report of 57bn tonnes of carbon sequestered by new forests this century.

Other scientists said avoiding monoculture plantation forests and respecting local and indigenous people were crucial to ensuring reforestation succeeds in cutting carbon and boosting wildlife.

Earlier research by Crowther’s team calculated that there are currently about 3tn trees in the world, which is about half the number that existed before the rise of human civilisation. “We still have a net loss of about 10bn trees a year,” Crowther said.

Visit the Crowther Lab website for a tool that enables users to look at particular places and identify the areas for restoration and which tree species are native there.

 

 

 

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/04/planting-billions-trees-best-tackle-climate-crisis-scientists-canopy-emissions

 

Princess Haya: Dubai ruler’s wife in UK ‘in fear of her life’

DubaiGetty Images

Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein, a wife of the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum, is in hiding in London and said to be in fear for her life after fleeing her husband.

Sheikh Mohammed, 69, who is a billionaire racehorse owner and has often been seen conversing with the Queen at Ascot, has posted a furious poem on Instagram accusing an unidentified woman of “treachery and betrayal”.

The Jordanian-born and British-educated Princess Haya, 45, married Sheikh Mohammed – owner of Godolphin horse racing stables – in 2004, becoming his sixth and “junior wife”.

Sheikh Mohammed reportedly has 23 children by different wives.

Princess Haya fled initially this year to Germany to seek asylum. She is now said to be living in a £85m ($107m) town house in Kensington Palace Gardens, in central London, and preparing for a legal battle in the High Court.

So what prompted her to flee her luxurious life in Dubai and why is she said to be “afraid for her life”?

Sources close to her have said that Princess Haya had recently discovered disturbing facts behind the mysterious return to Dubai last year of Sheikha Latifa, one of the ruler’s daughters. She fled the UAE by sea with the help of a Frenchman but was intercepted by armed men off the coast of India and returned to Dubai.

Princess Haya then, along with the former Irish president Mary Robinson, defended Dubai’s reputation over the incident.

The Dubai authorities said the runaway Sheikha Latifa had been “vulnerable to exploitation” and was “now safe in Dubai”. But human rights advocates said she was forcibly abducted against her will.

Since then, it is alleged, Princess Haya has learnt new facts about the case and consequently came under increasing hostility and pressure from members of her husband’s extended family until she no longer felt safe there.

A source close to her said she fears she may now be abducted herself and “rendered” back to Dubai. The UAE embassy in London has declined to comment on what it says is a personal matter between two individuals.

There is, however, a wider, international element to this story.

Princess Haya, who was educated at Bryanston School in Dorset then Oxford University, is thought likely to want to stay in the UK.

If her estranged husband demands her return then this poses a diplomatic headache for Britain, which has close ties to the UAE.

The case is also awkward for Jordan since Princess Haya is the half-sister of Jordan’s King Abdullah. Nearly a quarter of a million Jordanians work in the UAE, sending back remittances, and Jordan cannot afford a rift with Dubai.

 

 

 

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-48843168

Richmond diocese to stop naming buildings after bishops

BishopOpening Mass for the synod of bishops on the family Oct. 8, 2015. Credit: Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk.

– In the wake of recent sexual abuse scandals throughout the U.S., the Diocese of Richmond has announced that it will no longer name buildings and institutions after clergymen and religious founders.

The new policy went into effect on Thursday, as six names were added to the diocese’s list of clergy with credible sexual abuse accusations against them. The diocese said the additional names reflect new information recently brought forward.

“Overcoming the tragedy of abuse is not just about holding accountable those who have committed abuses, it is also about seriously examining the role and complex legacies of individuals who should have done more to address the crisis in real time,” said Bishop Barry Knestout of Richmond.

“The continued honorific recognition of those individuals provides a barrier to healing for our survivors, and we want survivors to know that we welcome and support them in our diocese,” he said in a June 27 statement form the Diocese of Richmond.

Schools, institutions, and parish buildings will from now on only be named after saints, titles of Jesus and Mary, mysteries of the faith, and the locations where the ministries were founded.

Buildings and institutions may no longer be named after bishops, pastors, or the founders of organizations. Rooms and parts of buildings that are already named are exempt from the policy. The archdiocese clarified that the new rules do not prohibit the placement of plaques which recognize historical figures or donors.

The only building that will require a name changes is Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School in Virginia Beach, which will return to its former name: Catholic High School.

“While the name of the school is changing, our mission remains the same, based firmly on Catholic teaching,” said Kelly Lazarra, superintendent of the Diocesan Office of Catholic Schools. “Catholic High School is dedicated to nurturing intellect, shaping character and forming Christian values.”

This move follows a nearly 10-year campaign by resident Thomas Lee, who says he was abused by a priest in the diocese and that Bishop Walter Sullivan covered up the abuse and allowed the priest to continue in ministry.

“This will go a long way in the healing process,” said Lee, according to WTKR.

Bishop Knestout issued a renewed apology to all those affected by clerical sexual abuse.

“It is my hope and prayer that the policy change is another way to continue to assist survivors of abuse in their healing, especially those who have, in any way, experienced the failure of Church leadership to adequately address their needs and concerns,” he said.

 

 

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/richmond-diocese-to-stop-naming-buildings-after-bishops-10055

Give children ‘less sugar and more veg in baby food’

BabyGetty Images

The amount of sugar in baby food should be restricted and parents should give their young children more vegetables to stop them developing a sweet tooth, a report from child health experts says.

It warns that even baby food marked “no added sugar” often contains sugars from honey or fruit juice.

Parents should offer bitter flavours too, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health recommends.

This will guard against tooth decay, poor diet and obesity.

The recommendation is one of many included in a report on how to improve the health of children in the UK.

Reducing child obesity is a key priority in all parts of the UK, with England and Scotland committing to halving rates by 2030.

Targeting food high in sugar and fat is an important part of that aim, following the introduction of a tax on sugary drinks in England in 2018.

The report says the government should introduce mandatory limits on the amount of free sugar in baby foods.

Many can contain high levels of sugar added by the manufacturer or present in syrups and fruit juices, it says, despite labels suggesting otherwise.

The report says infants should not be given sugary drinks. Instead, they should have sugar in a natural form, such as whole fresh fruit, milk or unsweetened dairy products.

Prof Mary Fewtrell, nutrition lead for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said products for weaning babies often contained a high proportion of fruit or sweet-tasting vegetables.

“Pureed or liquid baby foods packaged in pouches also often have a high energy density and a high proportion of sugar,” she said.

“If sucked from the pouch, the baby also misses out on the opportunity to learn about eating from a spoon or feeding himself.

“Baby foods can be labelled ‘no added sugar’ if the sugar comes from fruit – but all sugars have the same effects on the teeth and on metabolism.”

‘Broccoli and spinach’

She said babies had a preference for sweet tastes but parents should not reinforce that.

“Babies are very willing to try different flavours, if they’re given the chance,” Prof Fewtrell said, “and it’s important that they’re introduced to a variety of flavours, including more bitter tasting foods such as broccoli and spinach, from a young age.”

Prof Fewtrell also said parents should be educated on the impact of sugar.

“Excess sugar is one of the leading causes of tooth decay, which is the most common oral disease in children, affecting nearly a quarter (23%) of five-year-olds.”

She added that sugar intake also contributed to children becoming overweight and obese.

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition recommends sugar provides no more than 5% of daily total energy intake for those aged two and over, and even less for children under two.

But results from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey suggest the average daily intake for the children between one-and-a-half and three years is 11.3% – more than double the recommended amount.

A review of food and drinks aimed at young children, by Public Health England, found that processed dried fruit products contained the highest amount of sugar – but were often marketed as healthy snacks.

The products, which contain fruit juices, purees and concentrates, making them high in free sugars, should not be sold as suitable snacks for children, PHE said.

 

 

 

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/health-48773636