Snow, ice blasts through south US with powerful winter storm

Snow, ice blasts through south US with powerful winter storm
Vehicles travel on Main St. in the snow and ice on January 16, 2022 in Greenville, South Carolina. (AFP)
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Updated 17 January 2022

Snow, ice blasts through south US with powerful winter storm

Snow, ice blasts through south US with powerful winter storm
  • Tens of thousands of customers were without power in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida

ATLANTA: A dangerous winter storm combining high winds and ice swept through parts of the US Southeast on Sunday, knocking out power, felling trees and fences and coating roads with a treacherous, frigid glaze.
Tens of thousands of customers were without power in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. Highway patrols were reporting hundreds of vehicle accidents, and a tornado ripped through a trailer park in Florida. More than 1,200 Sunday flights at Charlotte Douglas International were canceled – more than 90 percent of the airport’s Sunday schedule, according to the flight tracking service flightaware.com.
Winter Storm Izzy dumped as much as 10 inches of snow in some areas of western North Carolina as the system moved across the southeastern US, said Brian Hurley, a meteorologist with the Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.
First Sgt. Christopher Knox, a spokesman for the North Carolina Highway Patrol, said that by midafternoon, the agency had responded to 300 car crashes and nearly 800 calls for service. Two people died Sunday when their car drove off the road and into trees in a median east of Raleigh. The driver and passenger, both 41-year-old South Carolina residents, were pronounced dead at the scene of the single-vehicle crash. Knox said investigators believe the car was driving too fast for the conditions, described as mixed winter precipitation.
Meanwhile, Transportation Secretary J. Eric Boyette said many roads in the central and western part of the state were covered with ice. He said the eastern part of the state was being hit with high winds and rain.
Kristen Baker Morrow’s 6-year-old son made snow angels after their home in Crouse, North Carolina, got four inches of snow Sunday morning, but she said they couldn’t stay outside long because of the uncomfortable wind chill.
“It took 30 to 45 minutes to get everything on for about 10 minutes in the snow, but it was definitely worth it for him, to get our pictures and make some memories,” said Morrow, a 35-year-old registered nurse.
More than 260,000 customers were without power by midafternoon Sunday, according to poweroutage.us. Especially hard hit was North Carolina, with 90,000 outages. The remaining outages were in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida.
The National Weather Service confirmed that a tornado with 118 mph winds (190 kph) struck southwest Florida. The weather service said the tornado was on the ground for almost two miles (3 kilometers) with a maximum path width of 125 yards (115 meters). Thirty mobile homes were destroyed and 51 had major damage. Three minor injuries were reported.
Edward Murray, 81, told the Naples Daily News in southwest Florida that he was inside his mobile home Sunday morning when a tornado picked it up and tossed it on top of his neighbor’s home.
“That’s my house that’s turned upside down,” he told the newspaper. “The tornado took me off my feet, blew me toward the east wall and buried me under the sink, refrigerator, kitchen chairs and everything else.”
Murray and his daughter, Cokie, escaped unharmed, crawling from the wreckage.
“I was so happy when I saw the sky,” Murray told the newspaper. “I said to the devil, ‘It’s not going to be today’.”
Virginia State Police said traffic came to a standstill Sunday afternoon on Interstate 81 in Roanoke County after a tractor-trailer jackknifed and the cab of the truck disconnected from the trailer in the northbound lanes. Two additional accidents occurred in the traffic backup, one with minor injuries. The Virginia Department of Transportation said a detour was being set up. “Please stay off the roads if possible. Begging again! Hazardous conditions,” read a tweet from VDOT’s Salem office.
From midnight to 12:45 p.m., Virginia state troopers responded to 142 traffic crashes and 162 disabled vehicles. No traffic fatalities were reported.
The West Virginia Department of Homeland Security tweeted photos of snow-covered roads in the southern part of the state and advised residents to “keep calm and hunker down.” The agency says the storm is moving north and most areas of the state are expected to have accumulations of at least 4 inches (10 centimeters), with up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) possible in the mountains.
In Tennessee, there were multiple reports of abandoned and wrecked cars on snow-covered roads.
The storm system could cause hazardous driving conditions over a large portion of the eastern US through Monday as the wet roadways refreeze in southern states and the storm turns and moves northward through the Mid-Atlantic states and New England.
While not a record-breaking storm in terms of snowfall, the large system could impact a dozen or more states.
“It’s a very expansive storm,” Hurley said. “A lot of real estate is going to get four to eight inches of snow and a lot more are also going to get to get some of that ice accumulation.”
New York City was expected to be spared from most, if not all, of the snowfall, but Long Island and Connecticut coastal areas were expecting gale conditions. Upstate New York was projected to get hit with up to a foot of snow to go along with high winds.
Six to 13 inches (15 to 33 centimeters) of snow was expected in parts of east-central Ohio and western Pennsylvania from Sunday afternoon.
Frigid temperatures lingered across New England on Sunday, with wind chills in northern Vermont reported at -27 Fahrenheit (-33 Celsius). In Boston, where a cold emergency was declared on Saturday, wind chills remained below zero (-17 C) even as the region started the thaw.


Russia offers fast-track citizenship to residents of occupied Ukraine

Russia offers fast-track citizenship to residents of occupied Ukraine
Updated 5 sec ago

Russia offers fast-track citizenship to residents of occupied Ukraine

Russia offers fast-track citizenship to residents of occupied Ukraine
LONDON: President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Wednesday simplifying the process for residents of Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions to acquire Russian citizenship and passports.
The decree marks a further step toward “Russification” of the two regions, where Moscow’s war in Ukraine has enabled it to establish a continuous land bridge linking Russia to the Crimean peninsula which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.
Putin’s move extends a scheme available to residents of areas controlled by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where Moscow has issued around 800,000 passports since 2019.
Russia claimed full control of the Kherson region, north of Crimea, in mid-March, and holds parts of Zaporizhzhia region to the north-east.
In Kherson, the Ukrainian governor has been ousted and the military-civilian administration said earlier this month that it planned to ask Putin to incorporate it into Russia by the end of 2022. Ukraine has pledged to recapture all of its seized territory.

Middle East countries regard Japan highly in opinion poll

Middle East countries regard Japan highly in opinion poll
Updated 31 min 21 sec ago

Middle East countries regard Japan highly in opinion poll

Middle East countries regard Japan highly in opinion poll

TOKYO: In a poll on people’s impressions of Japan conducted in several Middle Eastern countries by research firms on behalf of Japan’s Foreign Ministry, 76 percent of the respondents viewed relations with Japan as “very friendly” or “somewhat friendly.”

Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan commissioned research agencies to conduct an opinion poll on impressions of Japan in the United States, Australia, India, nine ASEAN countries, four Central Asian countries and seven Middle Eastern countries from December 2021 to February 2022. 

Similarly, a YouGov study conducted by Arab News in 2019 showed that 87 percent of Arabs would love to visit Japan. 30 percent of the Arabs surveyed found Japanese people polite and only one percent thought they were friendly. 

In the Arab News YouGov study that surveyed  3,033 Arabic speakers from 18 Arab countries, it was also found that the Japanese people were described as: hardworking (61 percent), organized (54 percent) and creative (37 percent.)

For the Middle East, the poll was conducted in Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey with 1,000 respondents in Egypt and 500 respondents in each of the other six countries. Ages ranged from 18 to 69.

In the Middle East, 80 percent of the respondents answered that Japan has consistently followed the path of a peace-loving nation since the end of the World War II. 

Eighty-one percent of the respondents answered “a very important role” or “somewhat important role” on the extent Japan plays in stabilization and growth of the world economy, while 85 percent of the respondents answered “very beneficial” or “somewhat beneficial” on whether Japan’s economic and technical cooperation is good for the development of the Middle East region.

In terms of Japan’s proactive contribution to the peace and stability of the region and the international community for maintaining global peace and international order, 81 percent of the respondents answered “very valuable” or “valuable.” 

In the Arab News YouGov study, it was also shown that 56 percent of Arabs thought Japan would be an ideal mediator for Middle East peace, and had high expectations for Japanese diplomacy. It was also concluded that 44 percent of Arabs understood the power and decision making structure in Japan. 

In polls for other regions, Japan scored highly in the “friendly” category in the United States (94 percent), India (91 percent) and the ASEAN countries (93 percent), but less so in Australia and Central Asia (both 78 percent).

This story was originally published on Arab news Japan


Chairman of Japan-Jordan Association congratulates Jordan’s 76th Independence Day

Chairman of Japan-Jordan Association congratulates Jordan’s 76th Independence Day
Updated 39 min 59 sec ago

Chairman of Japan-Jordan Association congratulates Jordan’s 76th Independence Day

Chairman of Japan-Jordan Association congratulates Jordan’s 76th Independence Day

DUBAI: Chairman of the Japan-Jordan Association SASAKI Mikio congratulated the people of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on its 76th anniversary of their Independence Day.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II said on Wednesday that the Jordanian government will work on program to develop the public sector during his Independence Day speech.

Mikio commended the king’s “strong leadership and the tireless commitment of the Jordanian authorities and people in these turbulent times with COVID-19.”

The chairman also said Japan witnessed great achievements with the 24 Jordanian athletes that competed in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games last summer.

In his congratulatory message, Mikio added that under the leadership of Jordan’s Royal Family, “Jordan has and continues to play an important role in the stability and security of the Middle East and is one of Japan’s most important partners.”

He praised the long history shared between the two nations and said the bilateral relationship was one that can help make economic and cultural ties stronger.

Diplomatic relations between Jordan and Japan were established on July 14, 1954, signifying their 68th anniversary soon. 

This story was originally published on Arab News Japan


FBI foils Daesh plot to assassinate George W. Bush

FBI foils Daesh plot to assassinate George W. Bush
Updated 25 May 2022

FBI foils Daesh plot to assassinate George W. Bush

FBI foils Daesh plot to assassinate George W. Bush
  • Iraqi national, 52, allegedly plotted the murder as revenge for 2003 invasion
  • Court records reveal confidential informant exposed plan before it was put into practice

LONDON: The FBI said it foiled a plot by a Daesh supporter living in the state of Ohio to assassinate former US President George W. Bush.

Court records revealed that a confidential informant exposed the plan before it was put into practice.

The FBI obtained a court warrant in March to search the suspect’s mobile phone records to aid in its pursuit.

These records have now been unsealed, with 52-year-old Shihab Ahmed Shihab Shihab arrested on Tuesday morning.

Bush’s Chief of Staff Freddy Ford said the former president “has all the confidence in the world in the US Secret Service and our law enforcement and intelligence communities.”

Shihab was described by Forbes magazine, which got the first details of the plot and arrest, as an employee of restaurants and markets in the cities of Columbus and Indianapolis.

The warrant for his arrest shows that intelligence was gathered by informants and surveillance on his WhatsApp account. The warrant said Shihab hoped to murder Bush as revenge for his 2003 invasion of Iraq. 

Shihab has been living in the US since 2020 with a pending asylum claim. The FBI said he told an informant that he belonged to a group called Al-Raed (Arabic for thunder), which was until recently commanded by a former pilot of the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

According to the warrant, Shihab then exposed his desire to murder Bush, asking the informant — who specialized in immigrant smuggling — for tips on acquiring law enforcement badges to advance his plot.

Shihab said he wanted to conduct reconnaissance on Bush’s homes and offices and access weapons.

He reportedly asked the informant if he could smuggle in seven Daesh supporters to help in the plot, and then extract them after carrying out the attack.

The warrant said the assassins would be smuggled over the border with Mexico on visitor visas.

Shihab allegedly traveled with the informant to the city of Dallas in February, recording footage of Bush’s home and his presidential library at Southern Methodist University.

The next month, he looked at purchasing weapons and fake law enforcement uniforms for cover to carry out the plot.

The FBI said two informants recorded in-person meetings with Shihab to secure his arrest.


Pakistan police fire teargas, baton-charge supporters of ousted PM Khan

Pakistan police fire teargas, baton-charge supporters of ousted PM Khan
Updated 48 min 44 sec ago

Pakistan police fire teargas, baton-charge supporters of ousted PM Khan

Pakistan police fire teargas, baton-charge supporters of ousted PM Khan
  • Political and economic volatility deepens in the South Asian nation

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani police fired teargas and baton-charged supporters of ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday to stop them from reaching the capital Islamabad, officials and witnesses said.

Political and economic volatility has deepened in the South Asian nation ahead of a likely announcement by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) later in the day on whether it will resume a $6 billion rescue package.

With foreign reserves falling to $10.3 billion — lower than two months of imports — a fast-crashing rupee and a double-digit inflation, the political turmoil has compounded unrest in the country.

Khan has urged his supporters to march on the capital and stay there until the new government is dissolved and a date for a fresh election is announced.

He was ousted in a confidence vote by a united opposition after he lost his partners in his coalition government last month.

“We are getting reports that the police have baton-charged and fired teargas shells to break the protesters,” Amjad Malik, an interior ministry official, told Reuters.

He said no one was seriously injured in the clashes, which were reported mostly in Punjab province, and that the police had also rounded up dozens of the activists.

Live local TV footage showed police fighting with the supporters, beating them and in some places breaking their vehicles’ windscreens and bundling them into police vans.

Islamabad’s entry and exit routes have been blocked, as well as all important sites, including parliament, government offices and diplomatic missions, officials said. Entry and exit points were also blocked to and from all major cities in Punjab province and on the Grand Trunk (GT) Road, they said.

Heavy contingents of police and paramilitary troops have been deployed since Tuesday evening.

Khan is leading a rally that started in the northwestern city of Peshawar and was due to reach the capital via the GT road.

“No one can stop us,” Khan said from atop a truck on the GT road on his way to Islamabad.

“We will remain in Islamabad till announcement of dates for dissolution of assemblies & elections are given,” he said later in a tweet, rejecting local media reports that a deal had been struck with the government to call off the march after holding a public meeting in the evening.

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb also denied any such deal.

The government has banned Khan’s march, alleging that he is bringing the protesters to Islamabad with “evil design.”

“You’ve handed over a sinking economy to us, and now you’re planning sit-ins and protest,” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Wednesday at a ceremony in Islamabad. “We are trying to energize this weak economy.”

Khan’s party has petitioned the Supreme Court to order the government to lift the restrictions.