Monday, November 10, 2014

48 killed and 79 injured in suicide attack in all-boys school in Nigeria

48 students were killed and 79 injured in a suicide attack on an all-boys school in Yobe district of north Nigeria – the school followed a western curriculum and the local police suspect that Boko Haram is behind this terror attack. The death toll could rise.
The suicide bomber was dressed in school uniform and detonated the bomb during morning assembly. He had gained entry through the schoolyard in Potiskum, Yobe state, before carrying out the attack among the students.
The students of the Government Comprehensive Senior Science Secondary School in Potiskum were waiting to hear the principal's daily address when the suicide bomber struck just before 8am. The attack happened a day after the release of a new Boko Haram video in which the group's leader, Abubakar Shekau, had once again rejected the claims of the Nigerian government about a ceasefire and peace talks.
The most high profile attack by Boko Haram on a school was in April, when fighters kidnapped 276 teenage girls from the town of Chibok in Borno state, also in northeast Nigeria. Even now, over six months later, 219 of the girls are still being held prisoners.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Iraq trying to confirm if al-Baghdadi has been killed in air strike

The whole world wants to see the last of ISIL chief Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi and, with rumors floating around that he has been killed in airstrikes by coalition warplanes, Iraq was investigating the matter. The coalition warplanes had been targeting the group’s leaders.
In case the rumors turn out to be true, it would be a major victory for the US-led coalition of countries who are relentlessly carrying out airstrikes against ISIL and providing assistance to Iraqi forces who are fighting to regain large areas of Iraq that the militants have overrun.
Already President Barack Obama has unveiled plans to send up to 1,500 more US troops to Iraq to advise and train the country’s forces, deepening Washington’s commitment to the open-ended war against ISIL. As President Obama has said, it was time to go on the offensive against the militants after blunting their advance.
Regarding rumors about al-Baghdadi, a senior Iraqi intelligence official said there was no “accurate information” on whether he was killed but that authorities were investigating.
US Central Command, which oversees American forces in the Middle East, on Saturday said that coalition aircraft had carried out a “series of airstrikes” against “a gathering of [ISIL] leaders near Mosul” but there was no confirmation on whether [ISIL] leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi was among those present.
General Nicholas Houghton, the chief of staff of the British armed forces, has said that it will take some days to have absolute confirmation. On whether the ISIL leader has been killed.
Incidentally, Washington has offered a $10 million reward for his capture.
It may be noted that of the five main Al Qaeda offshoots in Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, the Sahel and Yemen, none has recognized the authority of Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi - at the end of June he had proclaimed the establishment of a caliphate straddling Iraq and Syria, and had also proclaimed himself as “leader for Muslims everywhere”.

Germany to mark 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall had been built around West Berlin in 1961 by the German Democratic Republic – in their terminology, it was called it the "Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart" and its main purpose was to prevent defections to the west.
However, on 9th November 1989, the first of the East Germans started to clamber across the divide into the west to bring to an end the great divide.
To commemorate the moment of the fall of the Berlin Wall, German Chancellor Angela Merkel would release 8000 balloons along a nine-mile stretch of the former concrete frontier. The time has been set for 7.18pm local time, the moment when the first men crossed over from the East to the West.
The Berlin Wall had been there for 28-years from 1961 to 1989 and had come to be a potent symbol of the Cold War with its watchtowers and so-called "death-strip" where an estimated 5,000 people risked their lives to escape the hardline regime. Cracks started to appear as a result of bloodless revolutions in Poland and Hungary that heralded the loosening of communism's grip in Eastern Europe.
Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev gave momentum to the breakup by his policies of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring). The 83-year-old Gorbachev is expected to be in Berlin to join the commemoration ceremonies. While referring to the current standoff between the west and Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Ukraine, he has indicated that such signs could be harbinger of bad tidings like a new Cold War.
Among the programs is a concert at the Brandenburg Gate and the reopening of a museum dedicated to the Wall.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Virgin Galactic crash prompts 24 would-be astronauts to demand refund from Brasnson

Sir Richard Branson had big dreams of taking ordinary people to space and allow them to experience, even briefly, what weightlessness feels like as they go out into space and watch the Planet Earth from there.
However, the crash of SpaceShipTwo in California's Mojave Desert last Friday has come as a huge dampener. One pilot died in the crash and another one is in hospital. The net result is that as many as 24 'future astronauts' want to pull out and want refund of what they had paid.
They are wealthy investors who had signed up to be among the first space tourists with Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic program and have now had second thoughts and have given up their tickets.
Incidentally, as many as 800 persons have signed up to be passengers of space tourism and have stuck with Branson's venture for 10 years despite in spite of it facing numerous set-backs and hiccups. But, the fatal accident appears to have had a bad effect.
One of the unwilling ones is Peter Ulrich von May, an asset manager based in Switzerland, he no longer wishes to travel into space with Virgin Galactic and he has demanded his money back. It seems he had subscribed seven years ago when he was 63, he is still an active private pilot and in good health and does not know when his dream would materialize. Another high profile customers is Princess Beatrice – she will not be boarding the Virgin Galactic spacecraft after the disaster last week.
More than 700 people - including Hollywood celebrities like Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio - have bought tickets for Virgin Galactic space voyage flights, which sell for $250,000. Ashton Kutcher was one of the first celebrities to book his ticket - and the 500th person overall - and he has since been joined by Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Russell Brand and Lady Gaga.
If these celebs want to opt out, it would cost millions to Sir Richard Branson. He has woven a dream for them and has to now face the consequences.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Obama agrees to send 1500 additional troops to Iraq

The clock is turning a full circle for US President Barack Obama. When he took over as President of the USA, the US troops in Iraq were counting the days when they would return to the comfort of their homes as assured by Barack Obama. He had promised to evacuate Iraq by end 2011 and he did just that.
But, the present global scenario is forcing his hand because of the growing threats of the ISIS and he has agreed to send an additional 1500 troops to Iraq. This deployment would amount to doubling the current deployment. The Pentagon has decided to brand this deployment as Operation Inherent Resolve and the new troops would extend support to the roughly 1,600 US personnel already in Iraq.
The White House has indicated that the new forces would not be in combat roles and has asked Congress for $5.6bn (£3.5bn) to fund the mission against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The request includes $1.6bn for an "Iraq Train and Equip Fund".
The US has reiterated that its troops in northern Iraq do not have any fighting role and their main purpose is to help train national and Kurdish forces to battle the Islamic State jihadists.
The White House has clarified that as a part of the strategy for strengthening partners on the ground, the President has authorized the deployment of up to 1,500 additional US military personnel in a non-combat role – they would be involved to train, advise and assist Iraqi Security Forces, including Kurdish forces.
The plan is that the new troops would operate at military facilities beyond Baghdad and Irbil, where they have hitherto been based and the military would set up several training sites across Iraq to instruct 12 Iraqi brigades.

Confessions of a real life Vampire couple of Manchester – they do drink blood and sleep in the day

A real life vampire of Manchester has confessed that they drink blood and sleep during the day but they do not drink blood forcibly – they drink it only from those who are willing to allow them to share.
This pair of real life British vampires are 53-year-old Vanian and his wife 27-year-old Ethereal Dark. Both of them hail from Manchester and, as per their confessions, the reality of living a life of vampires is somewhat different.
It is believed that vampires and garlic do not mix but, Vanian and Ethereal are happy to eat garlic. They can also get near a cross without mishap and even like churches – but they do not go in for fake fangs and do not sleep in coffins. The concept of biting the victim to extract blood is not safe because the victim could be having infections. What they do is to enjoy a drop of blood or two with most coming from volunteers who have been dubbed 'Black Swans' by the vampire community, or from each other. As Vamian explains - too much blood would make you vomit.
Their frequency of drinking blood is about twice a week but they do eat other food as well, especially red meat. As per his admission, Vanian, uses a little razor rather than fangs to extract blood from his wife and takes pain to explain that not just any blood will do.
On the vampire movies, Vanian says that 'True Blood is very good but Twilight is not.'

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Facebook murders – research reveals that there are six types of such killers

Research carried out on 48 cases of "Facebook murder" from around the world between 2008 and 2013 has revealed that the Facebook murderers fall into six different types. These killers lure their victims through Facebook or use this highly popular social networking website in other ways in their crimes.
The lead researcher Dr Elizabeth Yardley from the Centre of Applied Criminology at Birmingham City University analyzed these 48 cases of homicide and have identified the categories as follows - reactors, informers, antagonists, fantasists, predators or imposters.
A reactor is one who reacts to content posted on Facebook by attacking the victim face to face. This could happen immediately after viewing the content or there could be a time delay in which they revisit the content and ruminate over its meaning.
The informer, on the other hand, uses the Facebook to inform others that they intend to kill the victim, that they have killed the victim, or both. The category of Informers use this website to demonstrate their control over the victim and the situation.
The killer in the category of antagonist engages in hostile exchanges on Facebook that escalate into face to face fatal violence. Antagonists may go in for physical violence when the conflict goes offline – the antagonists could arm themselves with weapons to fight it out.
Researchers have found that those in the category of a fantasist uses Facebook to perform or indulge in a fantasy. For tem, the line between fantasy and reality has become increasingly blurred and homicide appears to be the only way to maintain the fantasy or prevent others from discovering the deception.
A predator, as its name implies, creates and maintains a fake profile with the intention of luring the victim and meet them offline. They usually rely on information available on the victim's profile to exploit vulnerabilities so that it is easy to establish grounds upon which a relationship can gradually develop.
An imposter posts in the name of someone else. This could be the victim in order to create the illusion they are still alive or another person to gain access to and monitor the victim's profile.
An example of a Facebook murder – it was a FB friendship of only 15 days and it was between a 42-year-old Baguiati homemaker and a 33-year-old man from Birbhum. He landed up at her flat and when they met face to face, their make0believe world fell apart. She had a 17-year old daughter and he had a son. Moreover, he was short, slightly built and had posted the jazzy photo of a biker on his Facebook profile which impressed the woman. Anyway, he killed her in a fit of rage when she rebuffed his advances.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

45-year-old woman of Paraguay burnt alive on charges of sorcery

45-year-old Adolfina Ocampos, belonging to the Mbya Guarani indigenous community, was sentenced to death in Paraguay. As per reports, she was accused of being a witch and was tied to a wooden pole, shot with arrows and then burned alive.
The "execution" was described as "out of the ordinary" and "isolated" by an expert in spite of a UN report that has claimed that thousands of people worldwide are accused of being witches every year. Such women are often abused, cast out from their families and communities and sometimes killed.
Incidentally, in this particular incident, nine men in the village of Tahehyi, 180 miles north of the capital Asuncion, have been charged with first-degree murder – they have admitted their involvement in this sordid killing.
In a recent similar incident in India, a woman was killed by relatives who suspected her of practicing witchcraft. The woman Dukalheen Bai died after she was stripped, beaten and tortured for hours by her brother-in-law along with other family members. The accusations against her were that she had made her brother-in-law’s son ill by practicing witchcraft on him.
The incident happened in Bemetara district in the central state of Chhattisgarh and those involved have been arrested – they include five women.
Witch hunts that target women are common in some parts of India and many women fall victims to such abuse. The practice of branding women as witches is particularly prevalent among tribal communities in India because, while some are triggered by superstitious beliefs, others are for material gains of land and property.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Embroiled in accusations of human rights violations, North Korea wants tourists

In spite charges of human rights violations in North Korea, many travel firms are hoping that the rumors would not prove to be any obstacle to attract foreign tourists to the country. It seems British tourists are going in for North Korea as a holiday destination.
Towards this end, a tourist agency that specializes in trips to the secretive state has set up a stall at the UK's largest travel trade show – it hopes to lure travelers with packages that including skiing in a resort built on the orders of Swiss-educated dictator Kim Jong-Un.
The travel brochures feature the positives and depict communist propaganda-style drawings of workers toiling happily in the fields. There are no indication that its people live abject poverty amid wholesale human rights abuses. Incidentally, while it gets tourists from South Korea and China, only a few (around 5,000) gave come from outside China to make the trip every year.
As per the extant rules, Westerners must always be accompanied by a travel guide or minder and must remain most of the time in Pyongyang and be confined to the Yanggakdo Hotel which is cut off by a river from districts where ordinary North Koreans live. Moreover, the tourists have to face internet blackout and some of the areas are out of bounds for tourists.

World Trade Center reopens in New York after 13-years

The World Trade Center in New York had been destroyed 13-years-back on 9th of September 2001 in a terrorist attack when an aircraft crashed into the building reducing it to a mass of rubble in which thousands of people working in the center perished.
A new tower has now come up in its place - the new silvery, 1,776-foot skyscraper rose from the ashes of 9/11 and became to be regarded as a symbol of American resilience. The new tower opened for business with 175 employees of the magazine publishing giant Conde Nast who settled down to their first day of work in their new offices.
Conde Nast are the publisher of Vogue, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair and it is expected that they would move in about 3,000 more employees by early next year to eventually occupy 25 floors of the $3.9 billion, 104-story tower. This is, incidentally, the nation's tallest building.
In the words of Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns both the building and the 16-acre World Trade Center site, the New York City skyline is whole again.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Destruction of Virgin Galactic spaceship puts Sir Richard Branson’s clock back

The destruction of Virgin Galactic spaceship over the Mojave Desert was, undoubtedly, a terrible disappointment for Sir Richard Branson. His vision was to take tourists on a fleeting thrill ride into the lower reaches of space.
It was a fatal accident and, in the opinion of Sir Richard Branson, such accidents can happen because it is the beginning of a long program. In the early days of aviation, there had been many incidents before aviation became very safe. Even in the early days of commercial space travel, there have been incidents and one can only hope that a day would come when people can travel to space safely.
The initial plans are to carry six passengers up into Space to get a stunning view of the Earth below and also experience a brief period of weightlessness before descending down into the thickening atmosphere and fly as an unpowered glider back to the airport where the flight had commenced.

Friday, October 31, 2014

France worried - unidentified drones fly over its nuclear facilities

France is worried about unidentified drones that have been spotted flying over the French nuclear facilities that are operated by state-owned utility EDF The nuclear sites are Creys-Malville and Bugey in the southeast, Blayais in the soutwest, Cattenom and Chooz in the northeast, Gravelines in the north and Nogent-sur-Seine, the closest plant to Paris.
This has been reported by the interior minister of France.
As per reports, unidentified drones flew over seven nuclear plants across the country between October 5 and October 20 – this has not have had any impact on the plants' safety or functioning. However, a judicial investigation has been launched and necessary measures are being taken to know what these drones are and neutralize them.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has reported about these but has not indicated any specific measures. Incidentally, France is the world's most nuclear-reliant country with 58 reactors on 19 sites operated by EDF and the drone sightings may renew concerns about the safety of nuclear plants in France.
The reason are the activists from environmental campaigning group Greenpeace who had forced their way into the Fessenheim plant on the German border earlier this year and they have a history of breaking into nuclear plants in France. Greenpeace has, of course, denied any involvement in the pilotless flight activity.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

South Korean operas not welcome in Kim Jong-Un’s regime

North Korea has, reportedly, executed 10 officials who had dared to watch soap operas of South Korea With this execution, the number of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party who have been executed goes up to 50 in this year alone.,br>
The charges against them include watching foreign read South Korean soap operas, engaging in bribes, or womanizing – this is as per the National Intelligence Service. The executions were carried out by the firing squad.
Defectors from North Korea have revealed that a thriving black market business goes on in North Korea in pirated versions of South Korean and Chinese television shows.
It is understood that the officials who were executed by the firing squad were close to Jang Song-thaek, the uncle of North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un, who had been arrested in December last year and executed for committing crimes against the state.
This lends credence to the theory that Kim Jong-Un wants to eliminate his possible rivals who could oppose his activities.

At least four killed in Kansas as Beechcraft King Air crashes into building

A twin-engine Beechcraft King Air crashed into a building of Wichita Mid-Continent Airport shortly after take-off as it tried to return back to the airport At the time of the accident, there were around 100 persons in the building and four have been reported killed – one of them was the pilot. Moreover, five others were injured.
Terrorism has been ruled out.
This building is the one that Flight Safety International uses to train pilots to fly Cessna planes.
Incidentally, has added that Wichita Mid-Continent is located west of downtown Wichita and is a longtime aircraft manufacturing hub that is used by private aircraft and served by several airlines and their regional affiliates, including American, Southwest, Delta, United and Allegiant.
It is a reasonably busy airport and saw over 13,000 departures and about 1.4 million passengers last year, as revealed by the US Department of Transportation.

White House security breach again – computers hacked

White House security has been breached yet again – this time it is the computer system that has reportedly been hacked into While everyone is tightlipped, this is believed to have been a state sponsored activity with fingers of suspicion pointing towards the Russians.
It seems the network that had been targeted was the unclassified Executive Office of the President network and the US authorities are investigating the breach, which was reported to officials by an ally of the US. Obviously, the system in use at the White House was unable to detect the breach.
White House officials are not revealing details of the nature of data that had been stolen except that "some elements of the unclassified network" had been affected.
The attack came to surface a couple of weeks earlier and the staff of the White House were instructed to change their passwords and there was some disruption to network services.
Officials have admitted that the computers and systems have not been damaged but some elements of the unclassified network have been affected. The US's National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Security Service were reportedly investigating.

Package deal for people smugglers of Calais - £800 is 'economy' tariff for lorry

People smugglers have reportedly set up shop in Calais and are doing roaring business to push illegal immigrants into Britain because it is, to them, as good as Utopia Reports indicate that the victims are being offered 'package deals' to move from Calais to England.
One option for them is the £ 800 'budget' option in which they would be stowed inside a lorry destined for the UK. It could be in a refrigerated compartment. However, in this option, there was no guarantee for entry into Britain.
The second option is the £4,000 option – this is termed as a 'luxury' package because, in this option, the would-be immigrants would be stowed in a car boot, with the driver's consent. Hence, this scheme had a much greater chance of success.
Elaborating on this sensitive issue, Natacha Bouchart, the mayor of Calais, has branded the UK an 'El Dorado' for migrants because of generous state handouts. While blaming the British government for the escalating crisis in the French port city, she has remarked that those fleeing disasters in Africa and the Middle East were 'prepared to die' to reach Britain. In short, the real attraction is not the city of Calais but the benefits that are believed to be available in Great Britain.
It seems the weekly benefits of £36 that are given to migrants or asylum seekers is a relatively large amount for people who are as good as paupers and have nothing in their lives.

Great Indian bank robbery - robbers tunnel their way to 89 bank lockers in India

The police do not have any clue to the robbery in the Punjab National Bank in Sonipat where robbers dug a 7-ft high, nearly 125-feet long 125 feet long and 2.5 feet wide tunnel without making any sound . They were able to access 89 bank lockers and make good their escape with nearly Rs 100 crores three days back.
The only clue that the police have is a razor blade and mounds of soil that had been dug up.
It seems the digging was done from an abandoned building next to the bank from and the robbers have made a clean job since they have not left behind any clue. The police are trying to trace the owner of the deserted building.
Initial investigations indicate that the bank did not construct the locker room “as per norms of the currency chest”, neither did they install a “steel plate into the floor”. Moreover, the “almirahs in the bank were also 60-70 years old”, neither is there any CCTV in the premises.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Latvian cargo plane enters British airspace – RAF Typhoons gives chase

A Russian-built cargo plane of Latvia violated British airspace and, as a result, RAF Typhoon jets were scrambled from RAF Coningsby to intercept the Antonov An-26 airliner The Typhoons threatened to shoot down the plane.
It seems the plane had lost communication with air traffic controllers as it headed towards London. The RAF planes escorted the Russian-built plane to Stansted airport, where it landed at around 5.20pm.
A search of the RAF-Avia plane by the police revealed that the plane was carrying car parts from Reims, France, to Birmingham.
The alarm was raised because the plane that was travelling over the Channel towards Kent did not respond to communications with air traffic control as it entered British airspace.
Incidentally, this incident came even as NATO had reported about "unusual level of air activity" in European airspace. In fact, it had tracked four groups of Russian military aircraft that were carrying out significant military maneuvers over the past two days. The aircraft were strategic bombers, fighters and tanker aircraft and the exercises were over the Baltic Sea, North Sea, Atlantic Ocean and the Black Sea.

Britain to send Apache helicopters to Iraq to fight the ISIS

Britain has taken a decision to go in for a more active role in Iraq and would be sending Apache helicopters to Iraq to fight the ISIS Till now, only the Royal Air Force had been involved in air strikes against the terror group but, once Apaches, piloted by the Army Air Corps is dispatched to Iraq, it would mean the first British Army involvement in a conflict role in the country.
The reason for sending Apache attack helicopters is because jihadis are able to move around the battlefield quickly since they use social media and messaging application WhatsApp. Therefore, warplanes that are flying at 20,000-30,000ft have to react to moving targets.
It is felt that UK troops would require ‘something that can act very quickly on intelligence’ and Apache helicopters are most suitable for such jobs since they can to fly close to the ground and at a slow speed, hence would be more effective at finding opposition troops on the ground.
Incidentally, Britain had a fleet of eight Apaches in Afghanistan and Prince Harry was among the co-pilots there during 2012.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

ISIS militants execute 70 Syrian Army officers in Idlib

ISIS militants slaughtered at least 70 Syrian Army officers in Idlib and Syria would have ended up by losing its second city to the jihadists of ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra
It seems hundreds of ISIS fighters stormed into the provincial capital, and captured the newly installed governor's office and then began to behead Syrian army officers. Reports indicate that by the time government troops recaptured the building, at least 70 soldiers had been executed. Many of them were senior officers and, as a result, one of the oldest cities in Syria was in utter chaos.
The officers were literally slaughtered before the army could declare Idlib saved.
Incidentally, the eastern city of Raqqa has been in the hands of ISIS for months, but Idlib was more strategically placed between Aleppo and the coastal city of Latakia — both of these are still held by President Bashar al-Assad's regime and the fall of Idlib would have been a disastrous for the government.

Space flight is no cakewalk – NASA Antares rocket explodes during take-off

An unmanned Antares rocket, built and launched by Orbital Sciences Corp and carrying supplies to the International Space Station exploded seconds after lift-off Among its payload were some Maryland crab cakes for the space station crew which has gone up in smoke.
As per reports of NASA, the rocket was carrying a Cygnus spacecraft packed with nearly 2,200-Kg of food, supplies and materials for space experiments. One of the items on board was a nitrogen tank to manage the air supply of the ISS, and a whole lot of items necessary for conducting various experiments.
People have been cautioned to stay away from any debris they might find because these could result in problems when coming in contact with human beings.
Incidentally, the Antares rocket, built and launched by Orbital Sciences Corp, and being sent to ISS from the launch pad at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia exploded in a huge fireball within seconds. It was enveloped in flames.
Since NASA has retired its own space shuttles, it has to depend on alternate sources and is paying Virginia-based Orbital Sciences and California-based SpaceX to keep the space station stocked. Orbital has a $1.9bn (£1.1bn) contract with NASA for a total of eight supply missions and the mission that went wrong and known as CRS-3, would have been its fourth trip to the ISS. As per plans, Cygnus was to have remained in orbit till 2 November, and subsequently, fly itself to the station to enable the astronauts to use a robotic crane to snare the capsule and attach it to a berthing port.

Illegal immigrants in the Mediterranean left to fend for themselves

Illegal immigrants are left to fend for themselves in the Mediterranean Sea because, while over 100,000 have reached Italy since the turn of the year and some 2,000 have died trying, the UK is to not willing to involve in their rescue operations.
According to the UN refugee body UNHCR, the reluctance of the British to launch rescue operations for illegal immigrants drowning in the Mediterranean Sea is because that could encourage more people to attempt the dangerous crossing from Africa. In the opinion of Britain, offering help will act as a 'pull factor' to others to seek refuge in Europe.
This decision has set off a debate – it has been condemned by campaigners. The Italian Mare Nostrum mission is scheduled to end and a more limited European Union border security operation is expected to be launched on November 1. As Refugee Council chief executive Maurice Wren has remarked - the British Government seems oblivious to the fact that the world is in the grip of the greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War.
In his opinion, the only outcome of withdrawing help would be to witness more people needlessly and shamefully dying on Europe's doorstep. The solution lies not in building the walls of fortress in Europe higher, but to extend more safe and legal channels for people to access protection.

Monday, October 27, 2014

At least 38 killed in car bombings in Iraq

At least 38 persons are believed to have been killed in two car bombings in Iraq– in one of the attacks, a suicide attacker drove a Humvee into a checkpoint that was manned by Iraqi troops and pro-government Shiite militiamen.
The attacks, apparently engineered by Islamic State militants, took place on the outskirts of the Sunni town of Jurf al-Skhar. Here, the suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden Humvee into the checkpoint and killed at least 24 people and wounded another 25. Most of the dead were reported to be members of the Shiite militia.
While no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, the location of Jurf al-Sakhar is 30 miles south of Baghdad and the bombing bore all the hallmarks of an attack by the Islamic State group.
This could be true because the Islamic State group militants, who had captured it in July last, lost control of the town when Iraqi soldiers and the Shiite militia retook it from the Sunni extremist group.
Incidentally, Jurf al-Sakhar is part of a predominantly Sunni ribbon of territory that runs just south of Baghdad and lies on a road usually taken by Shite pilgrims to the holy Shiite city of Karbala further south. Pilgrims would be following the route next week to commemorate the death of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Imam Hussein -- one of the most revered Shiite martyrs.
Moreover, on Monday night, a car bomb blast near a line of shops and restaurants in downtown Baghdad killed 14 people and wounded 23.

It is not safe in Space – ISS escapes colliding with a 1993 Kosmos satellite

The six astronauts in the International Space Station ISS had a miraculous escape when it managed to take evasive action and dodge a big chunk of space debris from a 1993 Kosmos Russian defunct satellite As per reports, the chunk of debris came to as close to 320-meters of the ISS.
This wreckage had collided with another satellite five years ago.
Mission Control has confirmed that this sidestep action would not affect the planned launch of supplies by a commercial company namely Orbital Sciences Corp's rocket launch from Wallops Island, Virginia.
This activity had to be abandoned because a boat had ventured into a restricted zone within 10 minutes of take-off. Incidentally, the unmanned Cygnus capsule is carrying nearly 2,200-Kg of supplies and materials for space experiments and the research cargo bound for the ISS has in its inventory assorted materials to investigate situations like how to stop headaches in space, measure the rate of pea-shoot growth, and how milk spoils in micro-gravity.

Boko Haram terrorizes Nigeria – abducted girls forcibly sent to front lines

Boko Haram, the militant Islamist group of Nigeria has forcibly sent abducted women and girls to go to the front line to help fight the military As per reports of Human rights Commission, the group has taken over 500 women and girls hostage since it began its insurgency in 2009.
In the latest abduction, these suspected militants have seized about 30 children and have sent them to go to the front line to help fight the military. The abductions have intensified since May 2013, when Nigeria's government imposed a state of emergency in the three states where Boko Haram was most active - Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.
As per details furnished by three girls who escaped Boko Haram after being abducted in April, the girls have narrated their fear of being shot or hunted down by Boko Haram, and the dangerous journey back to freedom and safety.
It may be recalled that Boko Haram is still holding 219 of the girls it had abducted during the raid on a school in Chibok, sparking a global campaign for their release. On 17 October, Nigeria's chief of defense staff had indicated that the military had agreed a truce with Boko Haram, and that the girls would be freed within a week. But, Boko Haram has not commented on the alleged deal and the girls are still prisoners of the militants.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

MI5 bans cold gel packs because its chemicals can be used to make bombs

Cold gel packs are used by sportsmen to reduce swellings in muscle injuries but the chemicals that they contain can also be used to make bombs. Hence, it is being banned and a high street retailer was asked told to stop selling these cold gel packs by British security chiefs.
It seems a terrorist plot to use them to make bombs has been reported and, the Office of Security and Counter Terrorism, along with MI5, have informed the sport store chain to stop sale of the cold gel.
As the Home Office has indicated – the intention is to detect and disrupt terrorist threats and work closely with retailers to improve security in the supply chain because it is vital that plans of would-be terrorists to buy such chemicals be nipped in the bud.
Incidentally, one chemical commonly found in gel packs was used by Timothy McVeigh in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing in which 168 people were killed and another 680 others were injured. Moreover, it was used in the 2011 Delhi bombings that killed 17 and also in the car bomb that went off in Oslo before Anders Breivik went on his killing spree.
It is difficult to detect the gel using security scans, hence there are fears that it could be smuggled onto planes or into buildings that are terror targets.

Union Jack lowered for last time in Afghanistan as British troops says good bye

With the symbolic ceremony of lowering the Union Jack at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan, it heralded the end of British forces in Afghanistan and the formal handing over of power to Afghan Forces It ended the 13-year war to an end for British forces – it is believed to have been the longest conflict in modern times.
When at its peak, there was nearly 9,500 British military personnel who were based in Afghanistan as part of Operation Herrick and, in the course of the involvement, a total of 453 British lives were lost fighting the Taliban and thousands more were injured, some of them were injured permanently.
2009 was the deadliest year because in that year, 108 British troops were killed.
Defense Secretary Michael Fallon has indicated that Afghanistan is now a safer, most prosperous and democratic place than as compared to what it was 13-years back. The involvement helped to provide Afghanistan with the best possible chance of a safer future by training a 300,000-strong Afghan army and security force.
Incidentally, Camp Bastion was insignificant but, over the period, it gradually became a huge fortress in Helmand that catered to the ever-growing numbers of troops and the increasing demands of a vicious fight against the Taliban insurgency.,br>

Saturday, October 25, 2014

26 killed as overloaded boat capsizes in Lake Kariba in Zambia

An overloaded boat capsized in Lake Kariba in Zambia and at least 26 are feared to have met a watery grave – 23 of them were children in the age group six to 15, who were on their way to another school to attend a national celebration across the Lake.
The celebrations were to mark the 50th anniversary of Zambian’s independence from Britain.
The boat was carrying 20 persons more than its authorized capacity and was overloaded.
Zambia's vice president, Guy Scott, visited the area and expressed his condolences to the families of the deceased and also indicated that the government would bear the funeral expenses.

Fear mounts that ISIS have used chemical weapons against Kurds in Kobani

Doctors who are treating injured people of Kobani have discovered wounds that could have resulted from exposure to chemical weapons and there are fears that the ISIS have laid their hands on such weapons
Patients who have arrived for treatment have blisters, complain of burning eyes apart from breathing difficulties – such symptoms are usually associated with chemical weapons. Moreover, the patients reported a bad smell which also produced allergic reaction.
It is believed that Islamic State (ISIS) have obtained stocks of ageing but still potent chemical weapons when it seized Iraqi army bases where they were stored. It seems in June, ISIS had taken control of a sprawling complex in the heart of Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons program.
Moreover, there are doubts that chemical weapons might have been buried or abandoned elsewhere and had escaped the eyes of the watchdogs and were not destroyed by US forces or the Iraqi military.
Incidentally, stocks manufactured prior to 1991 are dirty, corroded and not always easy to identify or use, but are dangerous and can still cause serious injury.

President of Egypt declares emergency in Sinai Peninsula after 31 soldiers killed in attacks

President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt has declared a three-month state of emergency in parts of the Sinai Peninsula following the death of at least 31 soldiers in two attacks The President has also declared three days of mourning in the wake of the suspected jihadist attacks.
No one has claimed responsibility for the suicide blast at an army checkpoint that killed 28 soldiers. Another 28 others were injured in the attack near El Arish which is the main town in the north of the restive peninsula. Moreover, death of three more soldiers were reported due to a separate shooting incident at a checkpoint in the town itself.
Egypt's Rafah crossing into the Gaza Strip was also closed.
This has been touted as the biggest loss of life in decades for Egypt's army – it has been waging a war against jihadists in northern Sinai.
Incidentally, the law and order situation in the area has deteriorated since President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in 2011 and the militants have also stepped up attacks after Islamist President Mohammed Morsi was ousted by the army last year.

Oysters return to Swansea after a century – the revival is welcomed by locals

The seaside village of Oystermouth that overlooks Swansea Bay is recovering from its lost pride – the oysters. The long-departed shellfish, last seen in the 1920s, have returned. History has it that in Victorian times, this village sold the delicacy at markets in London and across Europe However, the trade died out in the 1920s because rampant pollution destroyed the oyster beds.
The revival of oysters here has made the annual Mumbles Oyster and Seafood Festival more attractive – it brings over 8,000 visitors every year and they have welcomed the return of the delicacy.
Thanks should go to marine biologists who had released 40,000 oysters into the sea last winter in an effort to repopulate the bay. And - the shellfish are now breeding, and hopefully, within the next five years the village would get a new look with the revival.
In the opinion of Dr Andy Woolmer, who worked with Cambridge University on the project, the water now is much cleaner now and that is good for oysters.
Incidentally, not only have the oysters survived the harsh winter last year, but have also grew in size and, crucially, managed to spawn.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Teenage school boy of Seattle shoots dead classmate in cafeteria

It was yet another of those shootings of innocents in America – this time it was another schoolboy who opened fire in a cafeteria in Seattle and killed one of his classmates before turning the gun on himself and committing suicide.
The boy Jaylen Fryberg murdered one and critically injured three others at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Marysville, about 35 miles north of Seattle, Washington. As per a witness, the boy was initially "quiet" before he opened fire on fellow diners.
It seems he was familiar with firearms and weapons and had gone on this shooting spree. He had written a series of chilling tweets in the earlier months – it appears to be a case of a boy who lost his girl. Incidentally, Fryberg was crowned the school's freshman "homecoming prince" just a week ago. Obviously, something snapped within him.
The three victims wounded and in a critical condition were admitted to Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett. Such frequent shooting of innocents should make the authorities take notice and try to put into place suitable checks and deterrents to prevent firearms falling into the wrong hands.

Hatchet attack on a New York police officer was an act of terrorism

Police commissioner Bill Bratton of NYPD has confirmed that the hatchet attack on a New York rookie police officers was an act of terrorism that had been carried out by a self-radicalized, 32-year-old loner He had converted to Islam a couple of years back.
The rookie officer 25-year-old Kenneth Healy is in hospital in a critical but stable condition – he was injured in the back of the head during the attack in broad daylight. It happened in a busy shopping area of Queens.
The attack was of seven seconds duration and Zale Thompson, the attacker, charged with a hatchet in his hand – he struck two officers before being shot dead by the two other officers. Incidentally, an innocent bystander, a 29-year-old female, was accidentally shot and is also in hospital in a critical but stable condition.
The attacker does not have any police record in New York but had been arrested six times in California in 2003-04. Incidentally, he had spent three years in the military but was involuntarily discharged in 2003 – probably due to drugs.

US-led airstrikes against IS in Syria have killed over 550

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has revealed that, as a result of US-led airstrikes against the IS in Syria has left over 550 dead – the breakup is reported as 464 IS fighters, 57 other militants and 32 civilians have died.
Notwithstanding such revelations, the US has continued to carry out more air strikes against IS positions near the besieged town of Kobane. As per Kurdish sources, IS had retaken a strategically important hilltop 4-Km west of the town Tal Shahir, which the Kurdish forces fighting IS in Kobane had taken a few days back. This town is close to the border with Turkey.
IS fighters are believed to have been shelling Kurdish positions and attacking the town center.
The US military have confirmed that its fighters and bombers had conducted six air strikes against IS positions in Syria on Wednesday and Thursday - four attacks were near Kobane in which several IS fighting positions, an IS vehicle and an IS command-and-control center were destroyed. These attacks in Syria apart from nine air strikes against IS positions in Iraq on Wednesday and Thursday were meant to eliminate the "terrorist group" and the threat it poses to the region as well as the wider international community.