Hamas leader Haniyeh attends Soleimani’s funeral in Iran

Hamas leader Haniyeh attends Soleimani’s funeral in Iran
Ismail Haniyeh, in an address to Iranian mourners, described the slain general, Qassem Soleimani, as “the martyr of Jerusalem.” (File/AFP)
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Updated 07 January 2020

Hamas leader Haniyeh attends Soleimani’s funeral in Iran

Hamas leader Haniyeh attends Soleimani’s funeral in Iran
  • Egypt allowed Haniyeh to travel for the first regional tour since his 2017 election into the Hamas leadership on the condition that he does not visit Iran
  • Zainab Soleimani, threatened US military forces in the Middle East at a funeral procession for her father

TEHRAN: The leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas is in Tehran is attending the funeral of an Iranian general killed in a US airstrike in Iraq.
Ismail Haniyeh, in an address to Iranian mourners, described the slain general, Qassem Soleimani, as “the martyr of Jerusalem.”
Haniyeh vowed that Palestinian militant groups, including his group that controls Gaza, will walk Soleimani’s way “to confront the Zionist project and the American influence.”
Haniyeh’s visit to Iran was surprising. In December, Egypt allowed him to travel for his first regional tour since his 2017 election into the Hamas leadership on the condition that he does not visit Iran, according to Arab and Israel media reports.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has prayed over the caskets of the top Iranian general and others slain in a US airstrike near the Baghdad airport last week.




(AFP)

The general’s successor, Esmail Ghaani stood near his side, as did Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and other top leaders in the Islamic Republic.
Khamenei wept at one point during the traditional Muslim prayers for the dead. The crowd and others wailed. Afterward, the crowd screamed: “Death to America!”
Earlier on Monday, the slain general’s daughter, Zainab Soleimani, threatened US military forces in the Middle East at a funeral procession for her father.
“The families of US soldiers in the Middle East will spend their days waiting for death of their children,” she said.


Oman COVID-19 fatalities rise in February

Oman COVID-19 fatalities rise in February
Updated 27 min 28 sec ago

Oman COVID-19 fatalities rise in February

Oman COVID-19 fatalities rise in February
  • Sultanate has reported 1,5480 COVID-19 deaths so far this month

DUBAI: The number of COVID-19 related fatalities in Oman rose in February compared with the earlier month, health officials in the country said.

A total 41 were reported to have died from coronavirus complications last month compared with 30 in January, according to the latest Ministry of Health figures.

The Sultanate has reported 1,5480 COVID-19 deaths so far this month.

The Gulf country has expanded its immunization campaign against coronavirus, and now covers individuals aged 60 and above, whether or not the individuals are healthy, as well as patients suffering chronic diseases and health workers in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.

“Some of this spread is due to the presence of rapidly spreading mutated strains of the virus,” according an earlier statement from the country’s Supreme Committee, which tasked with addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total 142,169 coronavirus cases have been reported overnight, with 132,945 of the patients making full recovery.

Health officials meanwhile said 19 people have been admitted to hospital with COVID symptoms over the last 24 hours, a report from Times of Oman said.


Exxon Mobil ordered to pay $14.25m penalty in pollution case

Exxon Mobil ordered to pay $14.25m penalty in pollution case
Updated 32 min 41 sec ago

Exxon Mobil ordered to pay $14.25m penalty in pollution case

Exxon Mobil ordered to pay $14.25m penalty in pollution case
HOUSTON (AP) — A federal judge ordered Exxon Mobil to pay a $14.25 million civil penalty Tuesday in an 11-year-old lawsuit alleging it violated the Clean Air Act for eight years at its flagship Baytown, Texas, refinery.
In setting the penalty, which would go to the U.S. Treasury, U.S. District Judge David Hittner of Houston reduced a previous award he handed down in 2017 of almost $20 million. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that ruling on Exxon's appeal last July and remanded the case to Hittner.
In a statement, Exxon Mobil spokesman Todd Spitler said the company is “currently reviewing the decision and considering next steps.” Luke Metzger, executive director of Environment Texas, the nonprofit advocacy group that filed the suit in 2010, said he expected further appeals.
The group Environment Texas sued the Irving, Texas-based company in 2010. After a trial of almost three weeks in 2014, Hittner ruled against the company and ordered the larger penalty two years later. The appeals court remanded the case to Hittner last July.
“Exxon has been fighting this case for 11 years now, refusing to take any responsibility for spewing millions of pounds of illegal pollution into Texas communities,” Metzger said in a statement. “We call on Exxon to finally stop its scorched-earth litigation tactics, pay its penalty and drop these endless appeals.”
In his latest opinion, filed Tuesday, Hittner said Environment Texas, the Sierra Club and the National Environmental Law Center had proved thousands of instances of illegal flaring and unauthorized releases of pollutants causing smoke, chemical odors, ground-level ozone, and respiratory problems.

Israeli-owned cargo ship back at sea after suspected attack

Israeli-owned cargo ship back at sea after suspected attack
Updated 32 min 16 sec ago

Israeli-owned cargo ship back at sea after suspected attack

Israeli-owned cargo ship back at sea after suspected attack
  • The MV Helios Ray was sailing along the Omani coast toward the Arabian Sea
  • The suspected attack has raised tensions in the region

DUBAI: An Israeli-owned cargo ship that suffered a mysterious explosion last week has left Dubai’s port and was transiting the Gulf of Oman on Wednesday, satellite tracking data showed. The suspected attack has raised tensions in the region.
The giant MV Helios Ray, a Bahamian-flagged roll-on, roll-off vehicle cargo ship, was sailing along the Omani coast toward the Arabian Sea, according to satellite-tracking data from website MarineTraffic.com, days after docking in Dubai for repairs. Overnight, the vessel passed through the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Arabian Gulf through which a third of the world’s oil flows. Its destination remained unclear.
Last week, a blast struck the cargo ship in the same waterway, raising alarms about ship security in the Mideast. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Israel’s regional foe Iran of attacking the ship. Iran swiftly denied the charge.
Tensions between Iran and the West have escalated in recent weeks as Iran accelerates its nuclear program, seeking to pressure the United States to grant sanctions relief it received under its tattered 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. In the current standoff, each side is insisting the other move first to return to the deal, which former President Donald Trump abandoned nearly three years ago.
It remains unclear what caused the explosion, which reportedly punched two holes in the vessel’s port side and two on its starboard side, just above the waterline. The incident recalled the summer of 2019, when the US military blamed Iran for a series of suspected attacks on oil tankers in the Arabian Gulf. The Navy had alleged that Iran used limpet mines — designed to be attached magnetically to a ship’s hull — to strike some of the vessels. Iran denied any role in the suspected assaults.


US oil industry lobby weighs support of carbon pricing

US oil industry lobby weighs support of carbon pricing
Updated 40 min 49 sec ago

US oil industry lobby weighs support of carbon pricing

US oil industry lobby weighs support of carbon pricing
  • The API is considering carbon pricing “among other policy solutions to reduce emissions and reach the ambitions of the Paris Agreement”

WASHINGTON: The American Petroleum Institute (API) is weighing endorsing a price on carbon emissions, a major shift after long resisting mandatory government climate policies, a source familiar with the decision making said.
The API, the main US oil industry lobby group that includes most of the world’s biggest oil companies, is considering carbon pricing “among other policy solutions to reduce emissions and reach the ambitions of the Paris Agreement,” the source said, confirming a report about the policy shift by the Wall Street Journal.
The group is confronting its previous resistance to regulatory action on climate change amid a shift in industry strategy on the issue and the new US presidency.
European member Total quit the group because of disagreements over API’s climate policies and support for easing drilling regulations and the Biden administration is pursuing a policy agenda that would shift the United States from fossil fuels.
A draft statement of the policy shift reviewed by the Wall Street Journal said the group does not endorse a specific carbon pricing tool such as a tax on carbon emissions or emissions trading scheme. The source said, however, that the group’s State of American Energy report released in January was supportive of a market-based carbon pricing policy.
The API did not comment on whether or when the group would formally endorse a price on carbon but said it has been working for nearly a year on an industry-wide response to climate change.
“Our efforts are focused on supporting a new US contribution to the global Paris agreement,” said API spokeswoman Megan Bloomgren.
Within API, there has been a widening rift between Europe’s top energy companies https://www.reuters.com/article/us-total-api/frances-total-quits-top-u-s-oil-lobby-in-climate-split-idUSKBN29K1LM, which over the past year accelerated plans to cut emissions and build large renewable energy businesses, and their US rivals Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. that have resisted growing investor pressure to diversify.
Other major industry groups like the USChamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable, which includes Chevron, over the last year have endorsed market-based carbon pricing.
Chevron said it has engaged those groups and API “to support well-designed carbon pricing.”
“We support economy-wide carbon pricing as the primary policy tool to address climate change, applied across the broadest possible area to maximize environmental and economic efficiency and effectiveness,” Chevron spokesman Sean Comey said in an emailed statement.
BP and Shell declined to comment.


Dubai expands coverage of COVID-19 vaccination program

Dubai expands coverage of COVID-19 vaccination program
Updated 03 March 2021

Dubai expands coverage of COVID-19 vaccination program

Dubai expands coverage of COVID-19 vaccination program
  • Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can also now be administered to all individuals 16 years and above
  • Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine can now be injected to anyone aged 18 and above

DUBAI: Dubai has expanded the coverage of its COVID-19 vaccination program, with residents aged 40 and above holding valid resident visas now allowed to register and receive jabs at any of the emirate’s inoculation facilities.

Dubai’s health authority likewise said that elderly individuals aged 60 and above with a valid resident visa issued in any emirate can register for the vaccine, provided they can prove they are residing in Dubai, according to state news agency WAM.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can also now be administered to all individuals 16 years and above, instead of 18 years, while the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine can now be injected to anyone aged 18 and above, instead of those between 18-65 years.

Gulf nationals with a valid Emirates ID can also now get vaccinated at Dubai health facilities, the report added.

The UAE, which leads the world on COVID-19 vaccinations, has embarked on a widescale campaign to inoculation to achieve mass immunity and will help reduce the number of cases and control the spread of coronavirus.

About 66,539 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered overnight, bring the total doses at 6,094,956 with a rate of vaccine distribution of 61.62 doses per 100 people.

Health officials meanwhile confirmed 2,721 new infections overnight, bringing the total number of recorded cases in the UAE to 396,771.