Brother fears Assange may not survive US prosecution – Arab News
NEW YORK: Julian Assange’s brother said Monday he feared the Wikileaks publisher would not survive the United States’ attempts to prosecute him after his fiancee revealed he had suffered a mini-stroke.
Gabriel Shipton was among about 30 people, including Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and actress Susan Sarandon, to rally in support of Assange outside the British consulate in New York.
The protest came a day after Assange’s fiancee Stella Moris said Assange had suffered a mini-stroke in late October, on the first day of a US government appeal against a ruling blocking his removal.
The demonstrators were protesting against a decision on Friday by British appeals judges to overturn the ruling after accepting US government assurances Assange would receive appropriate treatment and not be held in punishing isolation in custody.
“Very worried about it,” Shipton told AFP. “This hanging over Julian’s head just increases the pressure on him now.
“So we live in fear that he won’t make it through this or that he will die basically, during this process,” he added.
The United States wants to put Assange on trial for WikiLeaks’ 2010 publication of thousands of top-secret military documents about the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Assange’s lawyers have previously raised concerns about the effects of his lengthy incarceration on his physical and mental health in a bid to halt the extradition.
Assange spent seven years in Ecuador’s London embassy until 2019, after jumping bail in connection with sexual assault allegations in Sweden.
He was then jailed for 50 weeks for breaching bail in that case, which was later dropped, but detained ever since on the grounds he was a flight risk.
Sarandon told Assange supporters that “no matter what you think of Julian Assange,” his case was about “journalism that just isn’t about entertainment.”
“(It) has to do with having an informed public because once this goes, we’re really dead,” she said.
MAYFIELD, Ky.: Residents of Kentucky counties where tornadoes killed dozens of people could be without heat, water or electricity in frigid temperatures for weeks or longer, state officials warned Monday, as the toll of damage and deaths came into clearer focus in five states slammed by the swarm of twisters.
Kentucky authorities said the sheer level of destruction was hindering their ability to tally the damage from Friday night’s storms. At least 88 people — including 74 in Kentucky — were killed by the tornado outbreak that also destroyed a nursing home in Arkansas, heavily damaged an Amazon distribution center in Illinois and spread its deadly effects into Tennessee and Missouri.
In Kentucky, as searches continued for those still missing, efforts also turned to repairing the power grid, sheltering those whose homes were destroyed and delivering drinking water and other supplies.
“We’re not going to let any of our families go homeless,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said in announcing that lodges in state parks were being used to provide shelter.
In Mayfield, one of the hardest hit towns, those who survived faced a high in the 50s and a low below freezing Monday without any utilities.
“Our infrastructure is so damaged. We have no running water. Our water tower was lost. Our wastewater management was lost, and there’s no natural gas to the city. So we have nothing to rely on there,” Mayfield Mayor Kathy Stewart O’Nan said on ”CBS Mornings.” “So that is purely survival at this point for so many of our people.”
Across the state, about 26,000 homes and businesses were without electricity, according to poweroutage.us, including nearly all of those in Mayfield. More than 10,000 homes and businesses have no water, and another 17,000 are under boil-water advisories, Kentucky Emergency Management Director Michael Dossett told reporters.
Kentucky was the worst hit by far in the cluster of twisters across several states, remarkable because they came at a time of year when cold weather normally limits tornadoes. At least 74 people died in the state, Beshear said Monday, offering the first specific count of the dead.
Still, Beshear warned that it could take days longer to pin down the full death toll, with door-to-door searches impossible in some places.
“With this amount of damage and rubble, it may be a week or even more before we have a final count on the number of lost lives,” the governor said.
Initially as many as 70 people were feared dead in the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory, but the company said Sunday that eight deaths were confirmed and eight people remained missing, while more than 90 others had been located. Bob Ferguson, a spokesman for the company, said many employees gathered in a tornado shelter, then left the site and were hard to reach because phone service was out.
Debris from destroyed buildings and shredded trees covered the ground in Mayfield, a city of about 10,000 in western Kentucky. Twisted sheet metal, downed power lines and wrecked vehicles lined the streets. Windows were blown out and roofs torn off the buildings that were still standing.
Five twisters hit Kentucky in all, including one with an extraordinarily long path of about 200 miles (322 kilometers), authorities said.
In addition to the deaths in Kentucky, the tornadoes also killed at least six people in Illinois, where the Amazon distribution center in Edwardsville was hit; four in Tennessee; two in Arkansas, where the nursing home was destroyed and the governor said workers shielded residents with their own bodies; and two in Missouri.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Monday that it has opened an investigation into the collapse of the Amazon warehouse in Illinois.
Amazon’s Kelly Nantel said the Illinois warehouse was “constructed consistent with code.” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said there would be an investigation into updating code “given serious change in climate that we are seeing across the country” that appears to factor into stronger tornadoes.
Not far from Mayfield, 67 people spent Sunday night at a church serving as a shelter in Wingo, and 40 more were expected to arrive Monday. Organizers were working to find a mobile outdoor shower facility and a laundry truck, expecting many of the displaced to need a long-term place to stay. Volunteers were scrambling to meet more immediate needs, too, such as underwear and socks.
Lifelong Mayfield resident Cynthia Gargis, 51, is staying with her daughter after the storm tore off the front of her apartment and sucked out almost everything inside. She came to the shelter to offer help and visit with friends who lost their homes.
“I don’t know, I don’t see how we’ll ever get over this,” she said. “It won’t ever be the same.”
Glynda Glover, 82, said she had no idea how long she would stay at the Wingo shelter: Her apartment is uninhabitable since the wind blew out the windows and covered her bed in glass and asphalt.
“I’ll stay here until we get back to whatever normal is,” she said, “and I don’t know what normal is anymore.”
On the outskirts of Dawson Springs, another town devastated by the storms, homes were reduced to rubble and trees toppled, littering the landscape for a span of at least a mile.
“It looks like a bomb went off. It’s just completely destroyed in areas,” said Jack Whitfield Jr., the Hopkins County judge-executive.
He estimated that more than 60% of the town, including hundreds of homes, was “beyond repair.”
“A full recovering is going to take years,” he said.
Tim Morgan, a volunteer chaplain for the Hopkins County Sheriff’s Department, said he’s seen the aftermath of tornadoes and hurricanes before, but nothing like this.
“Just absolute decimation. There is an entire hillside of houses that are 3 feet tall now,” he said.
WASHINGTON: The Pentagon said on Monday that no US military personnel would be held accountable for an August drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 civilians, including seven children.
An earlier investigation by the Air Force inspector general said the Aug. 29 strike was caused by execution errors, interpreting information that supported certain viewpoints, and communication breakdowns. The military previously called the strike a “tragic mistake.”
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters that senior commanders had made a number of recommendations to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin about the incident, none of which included any accountability measures for specific personnel.
Austin accepted the recommendations, Kirby said.
“I do not anticipate there being issues of personal accountability to be had,” he added.
Kirby noted the high level of the threat facing US forces following a deadly bombing outside the Kabul airport that killed 13 troops, context that he said was important.
“In this case, in the context of this particular strike … there was not a strong enough case to be made for personal accountability.”
While the Pentagon has said it is working to offer condolence payments and relocation to the family of Afghans killed in the strike, it is still in talks with an aid organization that employed one of the victims.
ISLAMABAD: With the bass shaking the floor, lights flashing and shout-outs from a jubilant crowd, Pakistan on Saturday set a Guinness World Record for the most cars at a drive-in music concert.
The achievement came at an event in Islamabad featuring singers Bilal Khan, Ali Azmat and Atif Aslam.
It was organized by telecom operator Jazz in partnership with Active Media Partners and Park View City.
The organizers told Arab News that they approached Guinness World Records with a plan to set a record.
The organization then created a new category and set a minimum threshold of 1,000 cars. Ultimately, more than 1,500 vehicles arrived at the concert venue.
“I can now confirm that as you have surpassed that minimum, it gives me great pleasure to officially recognize a new Guinness World Records title,” said official adjudicator Jack Brockbank.
Drive-in musical events found a niche during the pandemic, giving people a chance to see their favorite stars perform from the safety of their cars.
Tickets for Saturday’s event cost $1-$5, with each vehicle given a specific parking spot in rows labeled alphabetically.
Over 1,500 vehicles attend Islamabad gig with star performers Bilal Khan, Ali Azmat, Atif Aslam.
Visitors had the option to stay inside their cars or sit on the roof or hood to enjoy the show. Food stalls and bonfires were also provided.
Farhan Butt, who took his family to the event in a jeep with a camping pod on the roof, said he wanted to give his children “a different experience.”
After Khan opened the show, Pakistan’s biggest rock star Azmat electrified the crowd with his first performance for two years because of the coronavirus outbreak.
His delighted fans sang along to favorites such as “Sayonee,” “Garaj Baras” and “Papu Yaar,” with some even leaving their cars to get closer to the stage.
The show ended with a long-awaited performance by Aslam, who as well as singing a selection of his signature songs such as “Aadat,” performed numbers by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan as a tribute to the qawwali legend.
Concertgoer Maryam Khizer said she was thrilled by Azmat’s performance and excited to see the resumption of concerts. “It’s great that we’re trying to create this record and show a positive version of Pakistan,” she added.
Saima Saeed, who was also at the show, was full of praise for the drive-in event. “It’s very comfortable to be at a concert and the crowd is amazing,” she said.
Jazz CEO Aamir Hafeez Ibrahim told Arab News that the success of drive-in cinemas organized by the company in the past encouraged it to “be part of another first, a drive-in concert.”
He added: “The idea to set a world record came later on, but our priority was to provide families and our youth safe entertainment in the new normal.” Setting a world record was the “icing on the cake for us,” he said.
Faizan Ghani, head of marketing at event partner Park View City, said he was happy to see people of all ages and from all over Pakistan attending the concert. “It is a moment of pride for the whole of Pakistan that we broke the record,” he added.
NEW DELHI: India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday gave assurances to the people of the federally administered Himalayan region of Ladakh over concerns about land rights and cultural identity.
The pledge came as the region on Monday observed a shutdown demanding statehood and protection of land and job rights for local people.
Ladakh became federally administered after the division of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into the union territories of Ladakh, and Jammu and Kashmir, in August 2019.
Two years ago, the Indian government abrogated Article 370 and 35 (A) of the constitution that gave limited autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir and granted exclusive rights over land and jobs to the people of the whole region.
The BJP said the government was willing to protect Ladakh’s rights over land and jobs.
Ashok Kaul, the party’s general secretary in Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, told Arab News: “The BJP believes that the people of Ladakh should get constitutional warranty so that land, jobs, and culture should be protected.”
The people of Ladakh have felt a sense of insecurity over outsiders taking jobs in the region and tampering with their culture.
The rights movement has been led by Leh, the largest town of Ladakh, and the all-religious grouping of the Apex Body, and Kargil Democratic Alliance. It has demanded the granting of statehood to Ladakh, constitutional safeguards under the Sixth Schedule or similar-like status, two parliamentary seats to the region, and the filling of up to 12,000 vacancies in government departments.
The Sixth Schedule of the constitution provides autonomy for communities through the creation of autonomous development councils that can frame laws on land, public health, agriculture, and others.
Kaul said: “We don’t agree with the demand for statehood and putting the region under the Sixth Schedule.”
The Apex Body, however, noted that the demands for Ladakh’s safeguards under the Sixth Schedule were important.
Ladakh region became federally administered after division of Jammu, Kashmir state in August 2019.
Gonbo Lba, a member of the Apex Body, told Arab News: “The shutdown is to tell the government in Delhi to take our opinion and discuss the issues affecting Ladakh with us. For the people of Ladakh, the Sixth Schedule is important to protect our rights and identity.”
Chering Dorje Lakrook, another Apex Body member and a former member of the BJP regional council, said: “The shutdown has been totally successful in all the regions of Ladakh, be it Leh or Kargil.
“We called the shutdown in protest against the Home Ministry not calling a meeting of the Ladakh leaders to discuss the problems being faced by Ladakh.
“Land and job protection and cultural identity are important because our rights over land were protected under Article 370 when we were part of Jammu and Kashmir. If we don’t get protection our identity will vanish, that’s why we are fighting.
“No doubt the government removed Article 370 but other states in northeastern India are having Sixth Schedule under which their autonomy and rights are protected,” Lakrook added.
Ladakh has a population of around 300,000 people made up of 52 percent Muslims and 48 percent Buddhists with most of the Muslims based in Kargil.
There was some division between the two regions on the question of the repeal of Article 370 with the Buddhist-dominated region supporting the abrogation while the Muslims opposed it. Now, both the regions of Ladakh are on the same page over the special constitutional rights of locals and the protection of their identity and jobs.
Sajjad Hussain Kargili, a Kargil-based political activist, said: “When the government abrogated Article 370 it said that it had merged Kashmir with India, therefore we demand that the people of Ladakh should have representation in both houses of parliament.”
Ladakh currently sends one member to the Lower House of parliament.
“The people of Ladakh, be they Muslim or Buddhist, want the empowerment of the people of Ladakh and the protection of the indigenous culture and rights,” Kargili added.
Srinagar-based political analyst, Prof. Siddiq Wahid, told Arab News: “So, what exactly is it that the government has accomplished after its August 2019 actions in the former state of Jammu and Kashmir? Is this a vacuum in governance or a government that does not care?”
ABUJA: Nigeria will destroy around one million expired COVID-19 vaccines, Faisal Shuaib, head of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), said on Monday.
He added that the agency was working with drug regulator NAFDAC to set a date for their destruction.
Nigeria’s health minister Osagie Ehanire said last week some COVID-19 doses donated by rich Western countries had a remaining shelf life of only weeks, adding to the country’s challenges in vaccinating its people.
Fewer than 4 percent of adults in Africa’s most populous nation of over 200 million have been fully vaccinated.
Shuaib said the country had been accepting vaccines with short shelf lives from international donor nations in an attempt to use them quickly and provide some level of protection for Nigerian due to vaccine scarcity in the past.
Shuaib said Nigeria will no longer accept vaccines with a short shelf life, citing a presidential committee decision.
Last week, Reuters reported that around one million COVID-19 vaccines were estimated to have expired in Nigeria last month without being used.
Still, the World Health Organization’s vaccine director Kate O’Brien said in a briefing on Thursday the proportion of wasted doses is smaller in countries receiving doses through COVAX than in many high-income countries.
https://arab.news/nzxx5 NEW YORK: Julian Assange’s brother said Monday he feared the Wikileaks publisher would not survive the United States’ attempts to prosecute him after his fiancee revealed he had suffered a mini-stroke. Gabriel Shipton was among about 30 people, including Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and actress Susan Sarandon, to rally in support of Assange outside…