Cyprus arrests man in connection with alleged kidnap of Israeli boy -police

Cyprus arrests man in connection with alleged kidnap of Israeli boy -police
Shmulik Peleg, grandfather of Eitan Biran. Cypriot Police have arrested an Israeli man wanted by Italy for having helped spirit Eitan, the 6-year-old lone survivor of a cable car accident, out of Italy and to Israel. (AP)
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Updated 26 November 2021

Cyprus arrests man in connection with alleged kidnap of Israeli boy -police

Cyprus arrests man in connection with alleged kidnap of Israeli boy -police
  • Italian prosecutors believe Gabriel Abutbul Alon helped the grandfather of six-year-old Eitan Biran to take the boy back to Israel
  • Alon and Eitan's grandfather Shmuel Peleg are accused of having driven the boy from Italy to Switzerland

NICOSIA: A man has been arrested in Cyprus in connection with the alleged kidnapping of an Israeli boy who was the only survivor of a cable car disaster in Italy in May, police said, after Italian authorities issued an international warrant for him.
Italian prosecutors believe Gabriel Abutbul Alon helped the grandfather of six-year-old Eitan Biran to take the boy back to Israel in September without the consent of the paternal aunt he was living with.
The boy’s parents, younger brother and 11 other people died in the cable car crash in northern Italy.
Alon and Eitan’s grandfather Shmuel Peleg are accused of having driven the boy from Italy to Switzerland, where they chartered a private jet onward to Israel.
“The arrest occurred yesterday in Limassol ... on an Interpol warrant,” a Cyprus police source said.
Alon was taken on Friday to a district court, which said it would decide on Monday whether he should remain in custody. A lawyer for Alon could not be immediately reached for comment.
Shmuel Peleg’s decision to take the boy to Israel triggered a cross-border custody battle between him and the paternal aunt.
An Israeli tribunal upheld a petition to send him back to Italy, but its top court has halted procedures as it reviews a request to appeal against the decision.
The prosecutor’s office in the Italian city of Pavia was not immediately available to comment.


Poland: some 600 migrant crossings into EU foiled this year

Updated 19 sec ago

Poland: some 600 migrant crossings into EU foiled this year

Poland: some 600 migrant crossings into EU foiled this year
WARSAW, Poland: Poland’s Border Guard authorities say that almost 600 attempts by migrants at crossing the border from Belarus have been foiled so far this year.
The attempts have continued since their peak in the fall, but the number of registered tries has dropped significantly, to dozens a day from nearly a thousand a day in November.
Border guards said on Twitter that on Monday, 23 migrants were detained after having crossed the razor-wire barriers into Poland, a European Union member. They were from Syria, Iraq, Cuba, the Palestinian territories and Turkmenistan. Earlier, Yemenis were also detained.
Poland says Belarusian officers are helping the migrants cut and cross the border barriers and attack Poland’s border guards.
Poland is planning to build a high, metal barrier in the coming months to prevent any illegal crossings from Belarus. Border guards continue to receive backup from Poland’s military.
Poland and the EU say the migrant pressure was organized by the government of Belarus’ authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko to destabilize the 27-member bloc in retaliation for sanctions that the West introduced after Belarus’ 2020 presidential election that it says was rigged.
The Iraqi Foreign Ministry said Sunday it has flown back from Belarus some 4,000 Iraqis who got stuck at the border with Poland. The return flights were organized after pressure from the EU, alarmed by the plight of the migrants stuck in woods in freezing winter weather.
In 2021, Poland’s Border Guard registered 39,700 attempts to illegally cross from Belarus.
German federal police say that 11,228 unauthorized entries “with a connection to Belarus” were recorded last year — 5,294 of them in October alone. They say that numbers are continuing to fall.

Pope Francis’ right-hand man tests positive for Covid

Pope Francis’ right-hand man tests positive for Covid
Updated 32 min 31 sec ago

Pope Francis’ right-hand man tests positive for Covid

Pope Francis’ right-hand man tests positive for Covid
  • The 67-year-old cardinal was currently in isolation, exhibiting only "mild symptoms"
  • Francis has been an avid proponent of vaccination

VATICAN CITY: The Vatican’s top diplomat and adviser to Pope Francis, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, has tested positive for Covid, a spokesman for the Holy See said Tuesday.
The 67-year-old cardinal, who as secretary of state is the Vatican’s number two after the pope, was currently in isolation, exhibiting only “mild symptoms,” said Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni.
Venezuelan archbishop, Edgar Pena Parra, the Vatican’s deputy secretary of state, also tested positive, but he was asymptomatic, Bruni said.
Both men had been vaccinated.
Pope Francis, 85 and himself vaccinated, frequently meets with Cardinal Parolin, who is considered the pontiff’s right-hand man.
Francis has been an avid proponent of vaccination yet regularly appears without a mask during public audiences and does not hesitate to shake hands with the faithful and pose for photographs.
Since January 10, it has been mandatory for all Vatican employees to wear FFP2-type masks.


US Secretary of State Blinken to visit Ukraine amid Russia invasion fears

US Secretary of State Blinken to visit Ukraine amid Russia invasion fears
Updated 18 January 2022

US Secretary of State Blinken to visit Ukraine amid Russia invasion fears

US Secretary of State Blinken to visit Ukraine amid Russia invasion fears
  • Top US official to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky and ‘reinforce the United States’ commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity’

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will fly Tuesday to Ukraine in a show of support amid fears of a Russian invasion, the State Department said.
Blinken, who will meet Wednesday in Kyiv with President Volodymyr Zelensky, will “reinforce the United States’ commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
Blinken will also head Thursday to Berlin for four-way talks with Britain, France and Germany on the Ukraine crisis.
The four transatlantic powers will discuss “joint efforts to deter further Russian aggression against Ukraine, including allies’ and partners’ readiness to impose massive consequences and severe economic costs on Russia,” Price said in a statement.
Blinken’s trip “follows extensive diplomacy with our European allies and partners about a united approach to address the threat Russia poses to Ukraine and our joint efforts to encourage it to choose diplomacy and de-escalation in the interests of security and stability,” Price said.
It comes as Blinken’s German and French counterparts also visit Ukraine, following travel to the frontlines by top EU diplomat Josep Borrell.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Tuesday was also holding talks in Moscow in hopes of defusing the crisis.
Russia last year sent tens of thousands of troops to the borders with Ukraine, according to Western officials who fear a new invasion.
Russia denies plans to invade but has demanded security guarantees from the West, including promises that NATO will not be expanded to Ukraine.
The United States and its allies last week held extensive talks with Russia, including in a meeting of the two countries’ senior diplomats in Geneva.
Russia has publicly said that it is disappointed with the results, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying Tuesday that Moscow needs answers before continuing dialogue.
The United States says that Russian demands are non-starters and that Ukraine, where thousands have died in a pro-Russian insurgency launched in 2014, has the right to make its own decisions.
European allies are cautious about admitting Ukraine to the alliance for fear of angering Russia.
The United States has warned of major economic consequences and has voiced hope that Germany would sever the soon-to-open Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline if Russia invades.


Royal Navy rejects UK govt plan to push back migrant boats

Royal Navy rejects UK govt plan to push back migrant boats
Updated 18 January 2022

Royal Navy rejects UK govt plan to push back migrant boats

Royal Navy rejects UK govt plan to push back migrant boats
  • Military source: Plan ‘will never work. You can’t do that in the Channel, it’s too narrow’
  • London also pursuing plans to process migrants, refugees in offshore centers in Africa 

LONDON: The UK’s Royal Navy has rejected a plan by Home Secretary Priti Patel that would see the use of military vessels to push back small boats in the English Channel.

The navy has been called in by the government to prevent migrants from arriving in the UK from France.
Military sources have said the navy would focus on escorting migrants to shore for processing at hubs, not forcing them back to France.

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, chief of the defense staff, said the plan ensures “no one gets to the UK on their own terms.”

Last year was a record one for arrivals via the Channel, with 28,381 people making the dangerous crossing.

Ministers expect more to arrive in 2022, and almost 500 people have crossed so far in January.

Patel insisted on Monday that the government is still pursuing the pushback policy. She told MPs that it is “absolutely the policy of this government,” adding: “Means are being tested, technology is being used, but also the way in which boats can be pushed back has also been well tested.”

However, a military source told The Times that the policy would not be pursued. “This isn’t about bumping small boats and turning them round — that will never work. You can’t do that in the Channel, it’s too narrow,” the source said.

Ministers have also been working on plans to process migrant and refugee arrivals in offshore processing centers in Ghana or Rwanda.

Under the plans, London would pay hundreds of millions to partner governments to process and settle migrants in their own countries, rather than process them in the UK.

In theory, those plans mean that legitimate refugees could ultimately be granted asylum in Britain. Government sources have admitted that any deal remains some way off.


Thailand to lower COVID-19 alert, ease curbs as infections slow

Thailand to lower COVID-19 alert, ease curbs as infections slow
Updated 18 January 2022

Thailand to lower COVID-19 alert, ease curbs as infections slow

Thailand to lower COVID-19 alert, ease curbs as infections slow
  • Among measures being considered are establishing more ‘sandbox’ areas for tourists
  • Thailand has recorded 2.3 million cases of COVID-19 and almost 22,000 deaths overall

BANGKOK: Thailand will lower its COVID-19 alert level and is considering easing more restrictions to boost its economy, its health minister said on Tuesday, in response to a slower infection rate.
Among measures being considered are establishing more “sandbox” areas for tourists, who can skip quarantine if they stay in specified areas for seven days and undergo two COVID-19 tests.
Nightclubs, pubs and bars will remained closed for now, however, Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told reporters, adding the COVID-19 alert level will be lowered to 3, from 4, on the government’s 5-level system.
New Sandbox areas could include Chiang Mai, Chonburi, Khon Kaen and Samut Prakan provinces, he said.
The scheme, a calibrated move to rebuild Thailand’s decimated tourism sector, currently operates in Phuket, Phang Nga, Krabi and Koh Samui.
Anutin on Monday said he would propose the return of a ‘Test and Go’ scheme that allows free movement to tourists who pass one COVID-19 test on arrival.
Thailand has recorded 2.3 million cases of COVID-19 and almost 22,000 deaths overall. Nearly two-thirds of its residents are vaccinated and 13.5 percent have received boosters.