Pope warns of nuclear terror threat

Pope Francis. (L’Osservatore Romano/ AP)
Updated 10 November 2017
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Pope warns of nuclear terror threat

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis on Friday renewed calls for global nuclear disarmament, warning that new technology had increased the risk of deadly weapons falling into the hands of terrorists.
“You only have to note that nuclear technologies are spreading, partly because of digital communications, and the instruments of international law have not prevented new states from joining those already in possession of nuclear weapons,” Francis told a seminar at the Vatican.
“The resulting scenarios are deeply disturbing if we consider the challenges of contemporary geopolitics, like terrorism or asymmetric warfare.”
Francis was addressing a Vatican conference on disarmament that was attended by several Nobel peace prize winners and top UN and NATO officials, against the backdrop of tensions over North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests.
Western powers are also increasingly concerned over the possibility of groups like Islamic State getting their hands on the technology that could allow them to manufacture an improvised nuclear device.
Describing the current international situation as marked by a “climate of instability and conflict,” the Argentine pontiff said the prospects for disarmament appeared “increasingly remote.”
“The escalation of the arms race continues unabated and the price of modernizing and developing weaponry, not only nuclear weapons, represents a considerable expense for nations.
“As a result, the real priorities facing our human family, such as the fight against poverty, the promotion of peace, the undertaking of educational, ecological and health care projects, and the development of human rights, are relegated to second place.”
Citing the memory of the victims and survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombs at the end of World War II, Francis said any new use of such weapons would have “catastrophic humanitarian and environmental effects.”
“If we also take into account the risk of an accidental detonation as a result of error of any kind, the threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is to be firmly condemned.
“Weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, create nothing but a false sense of security.”
Despite his overall gloomy tone, Francis said he was encouraged by a recent UN vote declaring the use of nuclear weapons illegal, even in warfare.


At least 8 killed as ‘duck boat’ capsizes in Missouri — police

Rescue personnel work after an amphibious "duck boat" capsized and sank, at Table Rock Lake near Branson, Stone County, Missouri, US July 19, 2018 in this still image obtained from a video on social media. (Reuters)
Updated 20 July 2018
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At least 8 killed as ‘duck boat’ capsizes in Missouri — police

  • 31 people had been aboard the vessel, known as a duck boat because it has wheels that allow it to ride on land as well
  • Seven people were hospitalized and an unknown number were missing

BRANSON: At least eight people drowned when an amphibious “duck boat” capsized and sank in stormy weather on a lake in Missouri with 31 people on board, police said on Thursday, and divers were searching for other possible victims. Seven people were taken to hospital following the incident on the “Ride the Ducks” amphibious vehicle on Table Rock Lake, near Branson, Missouri, Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader told reporters.
“We have eight confirmed fatalities,” Rader said in a televised media briefing. “We do have some people still missing.”
Emergency crews responded to the incident shortly after 7 p.m. (0000 GMT) after thunderstorms rolled through the area, the fire district said on Twitter.
Ride The Ducks, a company in Branson, Missouri, that operates amphibious duck vehicles in the area, did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Duck amphibious vehicles are used on tourist sightseeing tours around the world and have been involved in a number fatal accidents in the past two decades.
The company that builds ducks, Ride the Ducks International LLC, agreed in 2016 to pay a $1 million fine after one of the vehicles collided with a bus in Seattle, killing five international students.
The company admitted to failing to comply with US vehicle manufacturing rules.