46 people found dead in truck in San Antonio, local media report

Update 46 people found dead in truck in San Antonio, local media report
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An ambulance leaves the scene where police said dozens of people were found dead in a semitrailer in a remote area in southwestern San Antonio, Monday, June 27, 2022. (AP)
Update 46 people found dead in truck in San Antonio, local media report
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The scene where police said dozens of people were found dead in a semitrailer in a remote area in southwestern San Antonio. (AFP)
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Updated 28 June 2022

46 people found dead in truck in San Antonio, local media report

46 people found dead in truck in San Antonio, local media report
  • It may be the deadliest tragedy among thousands who have died attempting to cross the US border from Mexico in recent decades

SAN ANTONIO: Forty-six people were found dead and 16 others were taken to hospitals after a tractor-trailer rig containing suspected migrants was found Monday on a remote back road in southwest San Antonio, officials said.
A city worker at the scene was alerted to the situation by a cry for help shortly before 6 p.m. Monday, Police Chief William McManus said. Officers arrived to find a body on the ground outside the trailer and a partially opened gate to the trailer, he said.




Law enforcement officers work at the scene where people were found dead inside a trailer truck in San Antonio, Texas, U.S. June 27, 2022. (REUTERS)

Of the 16 taken to hospitals with heat-related illnesses, 12 were adults and four were children, said Fire Chief Charles Hood. The patients were hot to the touch and dehydrated, and no water was found in the trailer, he said.
Three people were taken into custody, but it was unclear if they were absolutely connected with human trafficking, McManus said.
Those in the trailer were part of a presumed migrant smuggling attempt into the United States, and the investigation was being led by US Homeland Security Investigations, McManus said.
Those in the trailer were in a presumed migrant smuggling attempt in South Texas, according to an official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the information had not been authorized for public release.




In this aerial view, members of law enforcement investigate a tractor trailer on June 27, 2022 in San Antonio, Texas. (AFP)

It may be the deadliest tragedy among thousands who have died attempting to cross the US border from Mexico in recent decades. Ten migrants died in 2017 after being trapped inside a truck that was parked at a Walmart in San Antonio. In 2003, 19 migrants were found in a sweltering truck southeast of San Antonio.
Big rigs emerged as a popular smuggling method in the early 1990s amid a surge in US border enforcement in San Diego and El Paso, Texas, which were then the busiest corridors for illegal crossings.
Before that, people paid small fees to mom-and-pop operators to get them across a largely unguarded border. As crossing became exponentially more difficult after the 2001 terror attacks in the US, migrants were led through more dangerous terrain and paid thousands of dollars more.
Heat poses a serious danger, particularly when temperatures can rise severely inside vehicles. Weather in the San Antonio area was mostly cloudy Monday, but temperatures approached 100 degrees.
 


Ukraine ‘optimistic’ after arrival of first grain shipment

Ukraine ‘optimistic’ after arrival of first grain shipment
Updated 7 sec ago

Ukraine ‘optimistic’ after arrival of first grain shipment

Ukraine ‘optimistic’ after arrival of first grain shipment
  • The Turkish cargo ship — the Polarnet — that reached its final destination left the Ukrainian port of Chornomorsk last week carrying 12,000 tons of corn

KYIV:  The first cargo ship to reach its final destination after departing from Ukraine under a deal between Moscow and Kyiv docked in Turkey Monday, Kyiv said, while a consignment due in Lebanon reported delays.

Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters, was forced to halt almost all deliveries after Russia’s invasion, but Black Sea exports recently restarted under a deal brokered by the UN and Turkey.

The Turkish cargo ship — the Polarnet — that reached its final destination left the Ukrainian port of Chornomorsk last week carrying 12,000 tons of corn.

It arrived in Turkey as scheduled after being inspected by the Joint Coordination Center established in Istanbul under the international agreement signed last month, Kyiv said.

“This first successful completion of the implementation of the ‘grain deal’ means it is possible to be optimistic about future transportation,” Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov was quoted as saying in a statement by the ministry.

The statement did not give the ship’s destination, but the website vesselfinder.com gave its location as the port of Derince, Turkey.

The deal brokered by Turkey and the UN lifted a Russian blockade of Ukraine’s ports and set terms for millions of tons of wheat and other grain to start flowing from silos and ports.

The Razoni was the first ship to leave Ukraine under the deal.

It left the port of Odesa on August 1 carrying 26,000 tons of corn and was expected in Tripoli in Lebanon this weekend but has yet to reach the destination.

The Ukrainian Embassy in Lebanon explained on social media that the consignment was delayed after the original buyer refused delivery, citing a five-month delay in shipment.

“The sender is therefore looking for another recipient. This may be in Lebanon or in another country,” it added in a statement on Twitter.

Eight ships have left Ukrainian ports since the agreement was signed, Kyiv said Monday, and it hoped that between three and five ships would be able to depart daily within two weeks.


Albuquerque police seek car in killings of 4 Muslim men

Albuquerque police seek car in killings of 4 Muslim men
Updated 3 min 23 sec ago

Albuquerque police seek car in killings of 4 Muslim men

Albuquerque police seek car in killings of 4 Muslim men
  • Police said the same vehicle is suspected of being used in all four homicides

NEW MEXICO: Authorities on Monday identified the fourth victim in a series of killings of Muslim men in New Mexico’s largest city as the deaths sent ripples of fear through the Islamic community nationwide.
Law enforcement officials are also seeking help to find a vehicle believed to be connected to the Albuquerque slayings where the common elements were the victims’ race and religion, officials said.
Naeem Hussain was killed Friday night, and ambush shootings killed three other Muslim men over the past nine months. Police are trying to determine if the slayings are linked.
The killings have sent spread fear beyond New Mexico.
“The fact the suspect remains at large is terrifying,” Debbie Almontaser, a Muslim community leader in New York, wrote on Twitter. “Who is next?!”
In a phone interview, Almontaser said that a female friend who lives in Michigan and wears the hijab shared with her over the weekend just how rattled she was. “She’s like, ‘This is so terrifying. I’m so scared. I travel alone,’ ” Almontaser said.
Hussain, 25, was a Muslim from Pakistan. His death followed those of Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, and Aftab Hussein, 41, who were killed in the past week. Both were from Pakistan and members of the same mosque.
The earliest case involves the November killing of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, a Muslim man from Afghanistan.
Police said the same vehicle is suspected of being used in all four homicides — a dark gray or silver four-door Volkswagen that appears to be a Jetta with dark tinted windows. Authorities released photos hoping people could help identify the car.
“We will bring this person or these persons to justice,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Sunday.
Investigators did not say where the images were taken or what led them to suspect the car was involved in the slayings.
“We have a very, very strong link,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said Sunday. “We have a vehicle of interest … We have got to find this vehicle.”
President Joe Biden said he was “angered and saddened” by the killings and that his administration “stands strongly with the Muslim community.”
“These hateful attacks have no place in America,” Biden said Sunday in a tweet.
The conversation about safety has also dominated WhatsApp groups and email groups that Almontaser is on.
“What we’ve seen happen in New Mexico is very chilling for us as a Muslim minority community in the United States that has endured so much backlash and discrimination” since the 9/11 attacks, she said. “It’s frightening. It’s scary.”
Last year, a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research conducted ahead of the 20th anniversary of 9/11 found that 53 percent of Americans at the time had unfavorable views toward Islam, compared with 42 percent who had favorable ones. This stood in contrast to Americans’ opinions about Christianity and Judaism, for which most respondents expressed favorable views.
Albuquerque authorities say they cannot determine if the recent shootings were hate crimes until they have identified a suspect and a motive.
Hussain was found dead after police received a call of a shooting. Authorities declined to say whether the killing was carried out in a way similar to the other deaths.
Police confirmed last week that local detectives and federal law enforcement officers were looking for possible ties between the killings.
Muhammad Afzaal Hussain had worked as a field organizer for a local congresswoman’s campaign.
Rep. Melanie Stansbury issued a statement praising the urban planner as “one of the kindest and hardest working people” she has ever known. She said he was “committed to making our public spaces work for every person and cleaning up legacy pollution.”


Hidden cameras show discrimination on private French beaches, say activists

Hidden cameras show discrimination on private French beaches, say activists
Updated 31 min 16 sec ago

Hidden cameras show discrimination on private French beaches, say activists

Hidden cameras show discrimination on private French beaches, say activists
  • Footage revealed white couples offered sunbeds shortly after couples of ‘north African appearance’ told they were reserved

Anti-racism campaigners say they are planning legal action against some private beaches, bars, and restaurants in the French Riviera after a hidden camera sting highlighted discrimination, according to media reports.

SOS Racisme carried out an undercover operation in Juan-les-Pins, Aix-en-Provence Antibes, and Marseille by sending couples of different ethnicities to exclusive venues to monitor the reception they were given, the Guardian reported.

Requests for sun loungers on beaches and tables at nightclubs and bars from white couples were granted, while couples of “North African appearance” or those with “foreign-sounding names” were rejected, the hidden camera footage showed.

“With an African-sounding name, the place was full. When I rang back and gave a French name, strangely enough, there were still places,” one of the participants in the experiment told Le Monde.

SOS Racisme has carried out several similar undercover operations since the 1990s, but this is the first time the group has focused on the Riviera.

“We have found discrimination can be based on clothing, the color of skin, the physical appearance, and the origin of the person,” Karima Es-slimani, from the organization's Nice branch, told France 3 television. “It’s unfair and intolerable living like this.”

The group is reported to be compiling a file to submit to lawyers.

“We’re working with pro-bono lawyers who need lots of details to take legal action against these places. They will also use this information to draw up annual reports outlining discrimination by area,” Paula Cornette of SOS Racisme said.

The situation was the result of a “clear failure” of public authorities in outlawing racial discrimination, said Dominique Sopo, the president of SOS Racisme.

He added that the organization’s findings would be sent to the police and local authorities. “We will be watching closely to see what legal action follows,” he added.


US funnels another $4.5 bn to Ukraine through World Bank

US funnels another $4.5 bn to Ukraine through World Bank
Updated 08 August 2022

US funnels another $4.5 bn to Ukraine through World Bank

US funnels another $4.5 bn to Ukraine through World Bank
  • Funds will help Kyiv pay for services and pensions, key to easing economic impacts of the Russian invasion

WASHINGTON: The World Bank on Monday announced it was mobilizing another $4.5 billion in US-provided financial support for war-torn Ukraine.
The funds will help Kyiv pay for services and pensions, key to easing economic impacts of the Russian invasion, the bank said in a statement.
“This economic assistance is critical in supporting the Ukrainian people as they defend their democracy against Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression,” US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement.
The latest tranche of aid, most of which will be disbursed this month, is part of $8.5 billion in total US support “which is helping Ukraine’s government keep hospitals, schools, and other critical government services for the people of Ukraine.”
The World Bank said the funding goes to the Public Expenditures for Administrative Capacity Endurance in Ukraine (PEACE) project, part of the multi-billion-dollar package to help the country.
“Ukraine needs continued government services, including health, education, and social protection to prevent further deterioration in living conditions and poverty,” World Bank President David Malpass said.
The country is currently running a budget deficit that is growing by $5 billion every month, exacerbated by its inability to raise funds or to access financing on external markets.
Allies have rushed to pump Ukraine with aid, with the G7 and the European Union also announcing commitments of $29.6 billion in further money for Kyiv.


Blinken says US is “equal partner” with African countries

Blinken says US is “equal partner” with African countries
Updated 08 August 2022

Blinken says US is “equal partner” with African countries

Blinken says US is “equal partner” with African countries
  • US top diplomat is in South Africa as part of a three-nation tour of Africa including Congo and Rwanda.

JOHANNESBURG: The United States sees Africa’s 54 nations as “equal partners” in tackling global problems, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in South Africa Monday.
“Our strategy is rooted in the recognition that sub-Saharan Africa is a major geopolitical force — one that has shaped our past, is shaping our present, and will shape our future,” Blinken said at the University of Pretoria in a speech detailing the Biden administration’s policies for Africa.
“It’s a strategy that reflects the region’s complexity, its diversity, its agency; and one that focuses on what we will do with African nations and peoples, not for African nations and peoples,” he said.
Blinken said that the United States and African nations “can’t achieve any of our shared priorities — whether that’s recovering from the pandemic; creating broad-based economic opportunities; addressing the climate crisis; expanding energy access; revitalizing democracies; or strengthening the free and open international order — if we don’t work together, as equal partners.”
South African academics and students responded warmly to Blinken’s speech, which was a broad declaration of US intentions toward sub-Saharan Africa. The United States is often faulted for overlooking the continent in recent decades, opening space for Russian and Chinese interests to make significant inroads.
The United States’ top diplomat is in South Africa as part of a three-nation tour of Africa including Congo and Rwanda in what is seen as a contest between Western nations and Russia to win support from African countries over the war in Ukraine.
Blinken’s tour follows recent trips to African countries by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and French President Emmanuel Macron.
South Africa is among many African countries that have taken a neutral stance on the Ukraine war.
Before his speech, Blinken met in Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital, with Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor. Pandor appears to have maintained her country’s refusal to criticize Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Instead, in a press briefing following the meeting, Pandor criticized the US and other Western powers for focusing on the Ukraine conflict to the detriment of other international issues.
“We should be equally concerned at what is happening to the people of Palestine, as we are with what is happening to the people of Ukraine,” she said.
Before the closed-door meeting with Pandor, Blinken had said that the United States’ good relations with South Africa would allow them to be frank in discussing their differences.
Many African countries have declined to follow the US lead in condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Some were among more than a dozen African governments that have signed security deals with the Wagner Group, a shadowy Russian mercenary group that the US and other countries say is backed by the Kremlin.
Sub-Saharan nations also have been major recipients of Chinese investment through its “Belt and Road Initiative,” which supports infrastructure developments.