Philippines evacuates thousands as monsoon rains flood cities, provinces

Philippines evacuates thousands as monsoon rains flood cities, provinces
The Philippines, a Southeast Asian archipelago of more than 7,600 islands, sees about 20 tropical storms a year. (Reuters)
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Updated 24 July 2021

Philippines evacuates thousands as monsoon rains flood cities, provinces

Philippines evacuates thousands as monsoon rains flood cities, provinces
  • Over 14,000 people, most of them from a flood-prone Manila suburb, had moved into evacuation centers

MANILA: Philippine authorities moved thousands of residents of the capital, Manila, out of their low-lying communities on Saturday as heavy monsoon rain, compounded by a tropical storm, flooded the city and nearby provinces.
The national disaster agency said 14,023 people, most of them from a flood-prone Manila suburb, had moved into evacuation centers.
“We ask residents of affected areas to remain alert and vigilant, take precautionary measures, and cooperate with their respective local authorities,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.
Harsh weather has hit several parts of the world in recent weeks, bringing floods to China, India and Western Europe and heat waves to North America, raising new fears about the impact of climate change.
The Philippines, a Southeast Asian archipelago of more than 7,600 islands, sees about 20 tropical storms a year but a warmer Pacific Ocean will make storms more powerful and bring heavier rain, meteorologists say.
In some parts of the Philippine capital region, an urban sprawl of more than 13 million people, flood waters, in places waist-deep, cut off roads to light vehicles.
The Philippines is also grappling with one of the worst outbreaks of COVID-19 in Asia, and has tightened curbs to prevent the spread of the more infectious Delta variant.


Get a grip, PM Johnson tells France after submarine row

Get a grip, PM Johnson tells France after submarine row
Updated 4 sec ago

Get a grip, PM Johnson tells France after submarine row

Get a grip, PM Johnson tells France after submarine row
LONDON, Sept 22 : British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told France on Wednesday to get a grip and give allies in the United States and Australia a break over a row about a trilateral nuclear submarine deal that tore up a separate French contract.
The new defense partnership between Britain, the United States and Australia was announced last week and will give Australia access to nuclear powered submarine technology.
France accused US President Joe Biden of stabbing it in the back and acting like his predecessor Donald Trump after Paris was pushed aside from a historic defense export contract to supply Australia with submarines.
Paris recalled ambassadors from the United States and Australia.
Speaking a day after he met Biden in Washington, Johnson told reporters: “I just think it’s time for some of our dearest friends around the world to ‘prenez un grip’ about all this, ‘donnez-moi un break’, because this is fundamentally a great step forward for global security.” He was translating the English phrases ‘get a grip’ and ‘give me a break’ literally into French.
“It is not trying to shoulder anybody out, it is not adversarial toward China, for instance, it is there to intensify links and friendship between three countries,” he said. (Reporting by William James, editing by Elizabeth Piper)

Afghan women MPs arrive in Greece on way to US

Afghan women MPs arrive in Greece on way to US
Updated 29 min 44 sec ago

Afghan women MPs arrive in Greece on way to US

Afghan women MPs arrive in Greece on way to US
  • The women, whose identities were not revealed, left Afghanistan with assistance from the New York-based NGO Zaka Khan
  • Greece is currently home to 40,000 long-term Afghan refugees and asylum seekers, making it the largest migrant population in the country

ATHENS: Greece on Wednesday said it was temporarily hosting six Afghan women MPs and their families who fled Afghanistan ahead of eventual resettlement in the United States.
Greece was hosting a “symbolic” number of Afghans who are “defenders of fundamental values, freedom of expression and gender equality,” the foreign ministry said.
“Six Afghan MPs arrived in Athens via Tbilisi (Georgia) a few hours ago, accompanied by family members,” it said, revising an earlier statement referring to seven MPs.
“(They) will be hosted in Greece for a short time until resettlement procedures to the United States are completed,” it said.
The women, whose identities were not revealed, left Afghanistan with assistance from the New York-based NGO Zaka Khan, the ministry said.
Greece took part in US-led evacuation efforts in August to remove a small number of people from Afghanistan following the Taliban return to power after two decades.
A ministry source said Greece has so far taken in around 65 Afghan evacuees, and evacuated three Greek nationals.
Greece is currently home to 40,000 long-term Afghan refugees and asylum seekers, making it the largest migrant population in the country, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

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UK climate activists face prison for blocking highways

UK climate activists face prison for blocking highways
Updated 46 min 52 sec ago

UK climate activists face prison for blocking highways

UK climate activists face prison for blocking highways
  • Members of campaign group Insulate Britain have shut down parts of London's M25 highway
  • “Invading a motorway is reckless and puts lives at risk,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps wrote on Twitter

LONDON: Environmental activists who have repeatedly blocked Britain’s busiest highway face possible imprisonment after a judge granted an injunction against the protesters, Britain’s transport secretary said Wednesday.
Members of campaign group Insulate Britain have shut down parts of London’s M25 highway, which circles the British capital, five times in just over a week by sitting on the ground, painting the name of their group on the road and raising placards in front of traffic. Some have also targeted other highways.
Police have arrested dozens of the protesters, who demand the government improve home insulation to reduce emissions from heating and powering homes.
“Invading a motorway is reckless and puts lives at risk,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps wrote on Twitter. “I asked National Highways to seek an injunction against M25 protesters which a judge granted last night.”
The injunction means that activists will face contempt of court with possible imprisonment if they continue blocking roads.
Insulate Britain spokeswoman Zoe Cohen said protesters “understand that the risks they are taking are because that we have tried everything else to make the government protect us from the predicted impacts of climate chaos.”
“That involves the loss of all that we cherish, our society, our way of life and law and order,” she told BBC radio.
Cohen said her group wants the government to update insulation in social housing by 2025 and all homes by 2030, “because this is the most effective way to reduce emissions and save lives from fuel poverty.”
The group said it will end its campaign as soon as it hears a “meaningful commitment” by the government to its demands.
The High Court order, which officially came into force on Wednesday, prohibits anyone from “blocking, endangering, slowing down, preventing, or obstructing the free flow of traffic onto or along or off the M25 for the purposes of protesting.”


Carlos the Jackal seeks shorter French jail term at new trial

Carlos the Jackal seeks shorter French jail term at new trial
Updated 22 September 2021

Carlos the Jackal seeks shorter French jail term at new trial

Carlos the Jackal seeks shorter French jail term at new trial
  • Carlos, who carried out several attacks in support of the Palestinian cause, was convicted of murder in 2017 and sentenced to life in prison
  • He became one of the world’s most wanted fugitives after leading a brazen attack on a meeting of the OPEC oil cartel in Vienna in 1975

PARIS: Carlos the Jackal, the Venezuelan militant who was behind some of the biggest terror attacks of the 1970s and 1980s, appeared in a Paris court Wednesday in an attempt to have one of his three life sentences reduced.

The self-styled revolutionary, whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, has been behind bars in France since 1994, when French police caught up with him in Sudan after two decades on the run.

“I’ve been on forced holiday in France for twenty-seven and a half years,” the moustachioed white-haired defendant, now 71, quipped at the start of the proceedings.

The trial is the third in four years over a grenade attack in Paris in 1974 that killed two people and injured dozens.

Carlos, who carried out several attacks in support of the Palestinian cause, was convicted of murder in 2017 and sentenced to life in prison, a verdict that was upheld on appeal.

But in 2019, France’s highest court sent the case back to court to reconsider his sentence, saying he should not have been convicted of both carrying and using a grenade because it amounted to being convicted twice of the same offense.

Three days of hearings have been scheduled.

Carlos has always denied responsibility for the attack at the Publicis Drugstore at Saint-Germain-des-Pres, in the heart of Paris’s Left Bank.

No DNA evidence or fingerprints were found after the bombing, but a former comrade-in-arms linked Carlos to the attack.

Investigators believe the assault was designed to pressure France into freeing a jailed militant from a far-left Japanese group.

Carlos is also serving life sentences over the 1975 murders of two French policemen and a police informer, as well as for a series of bombings in Paris and Marseille in 1982 and 1983 that killed a total of 11 people and left dozens injured.

Born into a wealthy family in Caracas on October 12, 1949, Carlos joined a communist group as a teenager and studied in Moscow before joining a hard-line Marxist Palestinian group.

“I am a professional revolutionary; revolution is my job,” he told a French court in 2018.

He became one of the world’s most wanted fugitives after leading a brazen attack on a meeting of the OPEC oil cartel in Vienna in 1975.

Carlos and five other gunmen took 11 energy ministers and dozens of others hostage.

Three people were killed before Austrian authorities agreed to supply Carlos with a plane to fly him and his team to Algiers with around 40 hostages.

The hostages were later released in return for a hefty ransom, and their abductors walked free.


Turin industrial area to host Islamic cultural center

Turin industrial area to host Islamic cultural center
Updated 22 September 2021

Turin industrial area to host Islamic cultural center

Turin industrial area to host Islamic cultural center
  • The facilities ‘will be open to all the citizens of Turin,’ including a major exhibition room

ROME: A huge disused industrial area in Turin, one of the biggest cities in northern Italy, will soon host a large Islamic cultural center with a mosque.

The city council sold the former Nebbiolo complex on Tuesday for just over €1 million ($1.1 million). This large area in the “Motown” industrial zone, very close to the old Fiat car workshops, now belongs to the Italian Islamic Foundation “Al-Waqf,” which already runs the Mohammed VI mosque on via Genova in the center of the city.

The Nebbiolo workshop, formerly an iron foundry, had been left abandoned for several years. Production in this old-fashioned industrial site ended in the 1970s due to a financial crisis.

The City Council bought it, but it took a long time before Turin Mayor Chiara Appendino decided for a new destination of use for the area, which will now finally come into a new life.

Half of the surface of the site (equal to 5,322 sq m) will be developed into residences for students with reduced rates.

The City Council Foundation and Al-Waqf formally agreed that it will be open to undergraduate and postgraduate students “from any university and institute,” without restrictions on access linked to religion.

The rest of the property will host an Islamic cultural center where courses and recreational and cultural activities will be organised, “for the promotion of knowledge of Islamic culture among Italian citizens,” Al-Waqf said in a statement.

The center will be run in coordination with another that was inaugurated in 2013 in via Genova, the first place of worship for Muslims opened in the city.

Activities such as language courses, seminars, public meetings, open debates and visits to Islamic places of worship will be organized in various reading and meeting rooms. The facilities “will be open to all the citizens of Turin,” including a major exhibition room. 

The ground floor of the structure, which overlooks the iconic Corso Novara street, will be used as a prayer and meeting room.

“Recovering a space that had been abandoned for years with a nice project linked to the university residence, study rooms, spaces for associations and prayer spaces is an excellent result for the city and for the neighbourhood,” Antonino Iaria, city planning councilor of the Municipality of Turin, told Arab News.

Turin already hosts 15 mosques. Nearly 60,000 Muslim live in the city and half of them hail from Morocco.