Pentagon: IS battle now costing $8.3m per day

Pentagon: IS battle now costing $8.3m per day
Updated 28 October 2014

Pentagon: IS battle now costing $8.3m per day

Pentagon: IS battle now costing $8.3m per day

WASHINGTON: The Pentagon said in updated figures on Monday the average daily cost of the fight against Islamic State (IS) militants has risen to $8.3 million, or a total of $580 million between Aug. 8 and Oct. 16.
The new average reflects an increase in the intensity of US operations against the group in Syria and Iraq. The Pentagon said a week ago the average daily cost was $7.6 million, or a total of $424 million since Aug. 8.
The US-led coalition carried out fresh air strikes against IS militants on Monday as Washington called for the battle against the terrorist group to be taken to the Internet.
Fighting continued to rage for the strategic Syrian border town of Kobani, and in Iraq a suicide bomber was reported to have killed at least 14 pro-government fighters south of Baghdad.
The US military said its fighter jets and bombers carried out four more air strikes near Kobani on Sunday and Monday, destroying five IS vehicles and an IS-held building.
Washington has forged an alliance of Western and Arab nations to combat the group and on Monday met with coalition partners in Kuwait City to boost efforts to counter the IS group’s online propaganda.
Retired US general John Allen, who is coordinating the US-led campaign against IS, told participants that the group was promoting its “horrendous brand of warfare” online, where it “recruits and perverts the innocent.”
Allen said: “It is only when we contest Islamic State group’s presence online, deny the legitimacy of the message it sends to vulnerable young people... it is only then that IS will truly be defeated.”
After the talks the coalition partners promised to take steps to boost efforts to prevent the recruitment of foreign fighters for IS, including online.
IS operates a sophisticated presence online, posting frequent propaganda videos and publishing its own expertly designed magazine.
Concern is growing over the group’s online influence in attracting foreign fighters and promoting attacks on Western targets.
The US military said the coalition had also carried out seven new strikes against IS in Iraq on Sunday and Monday, including near the key Mosul dam and southeast of the militant bastion of Fallujah.


Bangladeshis rush back to work as factories reopen despite virus surge

Bangladeshis rush back to work as factories reopen despite virus surge
Updated 31 July 2021

Bangladeshis rush back to work as factories reopen despite virus surge

Bangladeshis rush back to work as factories reopen despite virus surge
SHIMULIA: Hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshi garment workers rushed back to major cities Saturday, besieging train and bus stations, after the government said export factories could reopen despite a deadly coronavirus wave.
With the economy badly hit by the pandemic, the government excluded the factories that supply top brands in Europe and North America from a nationwide lockdown order.
Authorities had ordered factories, offices, transport and shops to close from July 23 to August 5 as daily coronavirus infections and deaths hit record levels.
Officially, Bangladesh has reported 1.2 million cases and more than 20,000 deaths. Experts say the real figures are at least four times higher.
The government said however that the country’s 4,500 garment factories, which employ more than four million people, can reopen from Sunday, sparking a rush back to industrial cities.
The influential garment factory owners had warned of “catastrophic” consequences if orders for foreign brands were not completed on time.
Hundreds of thousands who had gone back to their villages to celebrate the Eid al Adha Muslim festival and sit out the lockdown, headed to Dhaka in any available transport — some just walking in the monsoon rain.
At the Shimulia ferry station, 70 kilometers (45 miles) south of Dhaka, tens of thousands of workers waited hours for boats to take them to the capital.
Garment factory worker Mohammad Masum, 25, said he left his village before dawn, walked more than 30 kilometers (20 miles) and took rickshaws to get to the ferry port.
“Police stopped us at many checkpoints and the ferry was packed,” he said.
“It was a mad rush to get home when the lockdown was imposed and now we are in trouble again getting back to work,” Jubayer Ahmad, another worker, told AFP.
Bangladesh is the world’s second largest garment exporter after China and the industry has become the foundation of the economy for the country of 169 million people.
Mohammad Hatem, vice president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said up to $3 billion worth of export orders were at risk if factories had stayed closed.
“The brands would have diverted their orders to other countries,” Hatem told AFP.

Pakistan locks down Karachi amid new coronavirus surge

Pakistan locks down Karachi amid new coronavirus surge
Updated 31 July 2021

Pakistan locks down Karachi amid new coronavirus surge

Pakistan locks down Karachi amid new coronavirus surge
  • Lockdown began Saturday and is set to last until Aug. 8, despite opposition from the federal government and the local business community

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani authorities have imposed a lockdown in the southern Sindh province, including the commercial hub of Karachi and other urban centers, amid an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases.
The lockdown began Saturday and is set to last until Aug. 8, despite opposition from the federal government and the local business community.
Sindh’s chief minister Murad Ali Shah said Friday that a sudden rise in virus cases has flooded hospitals in Karachi, the provincial capital. The new surge appears linked to many of the crowd-attracting activities earlier this month during the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Adha.
The Sindh provincial government is closing all markets, except for pharmacies, bakeries, gas stations and grocery stores, which still must close by 6 p.m. All transport between cities is halted and public busses aren’t operating. Private cars and taxis are limited to two people.
Ongoing examinations at schools and universities are also postponed until after the lockdown.
Nationwide, Pakistan on Saturday reported 65 deaths and 4,950 new virus cases in the past 24 hours. The South Asian country has reported 1,029,811 confirmed cases and 23,360 virus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.


COVID-19 cases surge in Sydney as police cordon deters protest

COVID-19 cases surge in Sydney as police cordon deters protest
Updated 31 July 2021

COVID-19 cases surge in Sydney as police cordon deters protest

COVID-19 cases surge in Sydney as police cordon deters protest
  • 210 locally acquired cases of COVID-19 reported in Sydney and vicinities
  • Lockdown, to last at least until the end of August, spurred violent demonstrations last weekend

MELBOURNE: Sydney’s coronavirus cases continued to surge on Saturday as police cordoned off the city’s central district, preventing a planned anti-lockdown protest from taking place.
There were 210 locally acquired cases of COVID-19 reported in Sydney and vicinities that are under a weeks-long strict lockdown while battling an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant. Saturday’s numbers bring the outbreak to 3,190 cases.
The lockdown, to last at least until the end of August, spurred violent demonstrations last weekend, with protesters vowing to return to the streets on Saturday.
But the police closed train stations, banned taxis from dropping passengers off downtown and deployed 1,000 officers to set up check points and to disperse any groups.
Australian media reported that the rally’s organizers urged their followers on Saturday to avoid gathering and regroup on a later date.
A late-July poll by the NSW-based market research firm Utting Research showed that only 7 percent of the people support the demonstrations. Compliance with public health rules has been one of the key cited reasons behind Australia’s success in managing the pandemic.
Despite its struggle with spikes of infections, mostly of the Delta variant, Australia has managed to keep its epidemic largely under control with a total of just over 34,000 cases and 924 deaths.
The country has struggled significantly with its vaccination rollout, with the government indicating on Friday it will be months before Australia’s borders reopen. [
In Sydney, there are 198 people in the hospital, 53 of them in intensive care and 27 requiring ventilation, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said. There was also one death reported, bringing the total number of deaths in the outbreak to 14.
Parts of the neighboring state Queensland entered into a three-day snap lockdown on Saturday after the state recorded six new coronavirus cases of the Delta strain, putting a number of football, rugby and other sporting events into a limbo.
“We have seen from the experience in other states that the only way to beat the Delta strain is to move quickly, to be fast and to be strong,” the state’s Deputy Premier Steven Miles said. “That is now the nationally agreed approach.”


China reports 55 new COVID-19 cases as Delta variant spreads from Nanjing

China reports 55 new COVID-19 cases as Delta variant spreads from Nanjing
Updated 31 July 2021

China reports 55 new COVID-19 cases as Delta variant spreads from Nanjing

China reports 55 new COVID-19 cases as Delta variant spreads from Nanjing
  • The National Health Commission says 30 of the new infections were local cases, compared with 21 the previous day

BEIJING: China reported on Saturday 55 new coronavirus cases in the mainland for July 30, compared with 64 cases a day earlier, the health authority said.
The National Health Commission said in a statement 30 of the new infections were local cases, compared with 21 the previous day. There were no new deaths.
The other 25 cases were imported infections originating overseas.
A majority of the local cases were reported in Jiangsu province, the authority said.
The province’s capital city of Nanjing is currently facing an outbreak of the COVID-19 Delta variant that surfaced earlier this month, traced to airport cleaners who worked on a flight from Russia.
The Nanjing outbreak has since spread to other cities in Jiangsu, the Chinese capital of Beijing, and to other provinces including Anhui, Sichuan, Liaoning, Guangdong and Hunan.
Suzhou, a major city in Jiangsu, announced on Saturday it is shutting all games parlours for chess, cards and mahjong, after several people in another Jiangsu city caught the virus while playing in one such parlour.
To curb the outbreak in Beijing, some schools in the city have asked students on summer vacation to return to Beijing at least fourteen days before the autumn semester starts on August 15, the Beijing Youth Daily reported on Sunday.
Zhengzhou, the provincial city of Henan province hit by heavy floods this month, announced on Saturday people leaving the city must test negative for COVID. It also reported one asymptomatic case, its first in many months.
China also reported 19 new asymptomatic patients, compared with 25 a day earlier.
As of July 30, mainland China had a total of 92,930 confirmed coronavirus cases.
China’s death toll from the coronavirus remained unchanged at 4,636.


Protests, accusations against Myanmar junta ahead of coup anniversary

Protests, accusations against Myanmar junta ahead of coup anniversary
Updated 31 July 2021

Protests, accusations against Myanmar junta ahead of coup anniversary

Protests, accusations against Myanmar junta ahead of coup anniversary
  • Myanmar’s army seized power on Feb. 1 from the civilian government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi
  • The army has branded its opponents terrorists and says its takeover was in line with the constitution

BANGKOK: Small groups of students protested against Myanmar’s military junta on Saturday in Mandalay and a human rights group accused the armed forces of crimes against humanity ahead of the six-month anniversary of the army’s takeover.
Bands of university students rode motorbikes around Mandalay waving red and green flags, saying they rejected any possibility of talks with the military to negotiate a return to civilian rule.
“There’s no negotiating in a blood feud,” read one sign.
Myanmar’s army seized power on Feb. 1 from the civilian government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi after her ruling party won elections that the military argued were tainted by fraud.
New York-based Human Rights Watch on Saturday said the armed forces’ violent suppression of protests against the coup and arrests of opponents included torture, murder and other acts that violate international humanitarian conventions.
“These attacks on the population amount to crimes against humanity for which those responsible should be brought to account,” Brad Adams, the group’s Asia director, said in a statement.
The spokesman for the military authorities, Zaw Min Tun, could not be reached on Saturday to respond to Human Rights Watch allegations because his mobile phone was turned off.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group says at least 6,990 people have been arrested since the coup. The group says the armed forces have killed 939 people, a number the military says is exaggerated.
The army has branded its opponents terrorists and says its takeover was in line with the constitution.
The military took power in February after alleging fraud in the November 2020 election, which Suu Kyi’s party swept. The former electoral commission had dismissed the military’s accusations.