Air raid warning issued over all Ukraine – Ukrainian officials

Air raid warning issued over all Ukraine – Ukrainian officials
Repairmen work near a residential building damaged following a missile attack in Vyshgorod, outside of Kyiv on Nov. 28, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 01 December 2022

Air raid warning issued over all Ukraine – Ukrainian officials

Air raid warning issued over all Ukraine – Ukrainian officials
  • Border service: ‘An overall air raid alert is in place in Ukraine. Go to shelters’

Air raid alerts were issued across all of Ukraine on Thursday following warnings by Ukrainian officials that Russia was preparing a new wave of missile and drone strikes.
“An overall air raid alert is in place in Ukraine. Go to shelters,” country’s border service wrote on Telegram messaging app.


Discrimination against hijab-wearing Muslim women at all-time high, campaigners say

Discrimination against hijab-wearing Muslim women at all-time high, campaigners say
Updated 17 sec ago

Discrimination against hijab-wearing Muslim women at all-time high, campaigners say

Discrimination against hijab-wearing Muslim women at all-time high, campaigners say
  • The organizers of World Hijab Day, on Feb. 1, said many women face pressure to remove their head scarf to ‘show solidarity’ or make a political statement
  • ‘The theme for World Hijab Day 2023, #UnapologeticHijabi, is bolder and stronger than ever before: Muslim women unapologetically wearing the hijab proudly,’ WHD said

LONDON: “Hijabophobia” is at an all-time high “due to the current political climate,” as a result of which hijab-wearing Muslim women face increasing discrimination in everyday life, the organizers of World Hijab Day said on Wednesday.

“Muslim women are being pressured to remove their hijab to ‘show solidarity’ and make political statements, while parts of the world enact legislation that prevent hijabi women from participating in society,” WHD told Arab News.

It had called on women of all backgrounds to “take a stand against hijabophobia by donning a headscarf” on World Hijab Day, Feb. 1, to help raise awareness of the Muslim tradition and women’s rights.

“The theme for World Hijab Day 2023, #UnapologeticHijabi, is bolder and stronger than ever before: Muslim women unapologetically wearing the hijab proudly,” the organization said.

“Due to the current climate, Muslim women wearing the hijab are portrayed as oppressed, submissive and backward, and the hijab is used to justify discrimination and abuse against them.

“This can lead to a lack of understanding and empathy toward Muslim women, and can make it harder for these women to fully participate in society and access opportunities.”

WHD said women who choose to wear the headscarf, whether for reasons of modesty or religious observance, face challenges integrating into educational and workplace environments.

“In some cases, there may be religious discrimination, or a lack of understanding and acceptance of the hijab,” the organization said.

It added that “in schools, some hijabi students may face discrimination or harassment from classmates or teachers, or be barred from getting an education altogether; such is the case in Karnataka, India.”

This was a reference to a decision by the High Court of Karnataka in February last year that banned thousands of Muslim girls from wearing religious garments in school.

WHD also cited examples of discrimination it said hijab-wearing women face in the workplace, and bias during the hiring process.

“Experimental studies suggested that the chances of being hired, and so gainfully employed, were on average 40 percent lower among Muslim women wearing the hijab than they were among otherwise similar Muslim women not wearing the hijab, in the West.

“For example, a 2022 study found that in the Netherlands, almost 70 percent of job applications that included a photograph of an unveiled woman received a positive callback for jobs requiring high customer contact. But for applications with hijab-clad photographs, the positive rate was 35 percent.”

WHD, which was founded in 2013 in New York by Bangladeshi American woman Nazma Khan, said: “Muslim women in European countries are more likely subjected to hijabophobia in public spaces and the labor market.”

In particular it referred to a December 2020 study by US-based think tank the Pew Research Center, which found: “Women in 56 countries experienced social hostilities — that is, harassment from individuals or groups — due to clothing that was deemed to violate religious or secular dress norms, according to the sources analyzed for a recent Pew Research Center study of 198 nations.”

The study said that women were targeted for violating secular dress norms, including wearing a hijab or other religious garb, in 42 of 56 countries in which sources alleged that social harassment took place between 2016 and 2018.

However, WHD said: “While there are challenges to the integration of hijabi women in schools and the workplace, there have also been efforts to promote understanding and acceptance of hijabi women in these settings,” including World Hijab Day itself, which aims “to promote integration and acceptance of hijabi women in these settings.”

The organization, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, said it expected thousands of people in more than 150 countries to celebrate World Hijab Day 2023, including in the UK, Japan, Korea and Switzerland.

“Most notably, we see more and more non-Muslims taking part in wearing the hijab on Feb. 1,” It added. “Many of them share their experiences with us, which we believe helps others to learn more about the hijab.”

WHD said that efforts to raise awareness through its movement have helped to change views on the hijab around the world, with two-thirds of past participants reporting positive experiences that changed their views on wearing the headscarf.

This year, the organization added, it hoped to further raise awareness, grow its platform, increase the confidence of women who wear the hijab, and “welcome those with curiosity and misunderstandings to an open forum and place to ask questions.”

WHD is also a fundraising event and money raised this year will go toward creating diversity and inclusion workshops on Muslim culture for schools, to help foster a safe and healthy educational environment for Muslim students, the organization said.


Lost radioactive capsule found in Australian Outback after huge search

Lost radioactive capsule found in Australian Outback after huge search
Updated 55 min 53 sec ago

Lost radioactive capsule found in Australian Outback after huge search

Lost radioactive capsule found in Australian Outback after huge search
  • Lost in transit over two weeks ago, the button-sized silver capsule was found on the roadside in the state of Western Australia
  • The radioactive capsule was part of a gauge used to measure the density of iron ore feed from a mine in the state’s remote Kimberley region

SYDNEY: Australian authorities on Wednesday found a radioactive capsule smaller than a coin that was lost in the vast Outback after nearly a week-long search involving around 100 people along a 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) stretch of highway, officials said.
The cesium-137 capsule lost in transit more than two weeks ago was discovered when a vehicle traveling at 70 km per hour (43 mph) equipped with specialist detection equipment picked up the radiation, according to officials from the state of Western Australia.
The search team then used portable detection equipment to find the capsule, which was located about 2 meters from the side of the road in a remote area far from any community, they added.
The radioactive capsule was part of a gauge used to measure the density of iron ore feed from Rio Tinto’s Gudai-Darri mine in the state’s remote Kimberley region. The gauge was being taken to a facility in the suburbs of state capital Perth — a distance further than the length of Great Britain.

Rio was willing to pay for the cost of the search if asked by the state government, iron ore division head Simon Trott told reporters.
“Of course the simple fact is this device should never have been lost,” he said. “We’re sorry that that has occurred and we’re sorry for the concern that that has caused within the Western Australian community.”
People had been told to stay at least five meters (16.5 feet) away if they spotted the capsule, because exposure could cause radiation burns or radiation sickness. However, driving past it was believed to be relatively low risk, akin to taking an X-ray.
’Needle in the haystack’
Western Australia’s Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson said the find was an “extraordinary result” after a search involving the state’s emergency response department, defense authorities and radiation specialists.
“When you consider the scope of the search area, locating this object was a monumental challenge, the search groups have quite literally found the needle in the haystack,” he said.
A 20-meter exclusion zone has been set up around the capsule while defense force members verify it via a serial number.
It will then be placed in a lead container and stored overnight at a secure location in Newman, a mining town roughly 1,200 km (745 miles) north-west of Perth, before being taken to the state capital on Thursday. The silver capsule, 6 mm in diameter and 8 mm long, contains cesium-137 which emits radiation equal to 10 X-rays per hour.

Illustration image showing the size of the silver capsule containing radioactive cesium-137 that went missing in Australia. (DFES photo via Reuters)


Officials said the capsule apparently fell off a truck during transport and landed on the side of the road, adding that it was unlikely there would be contamination in the area.
Seeking answers
Rio said in a statement that it would investigate whether the use of specialist contractors had been appropriate, having entrusted the gauge to SGS Australia and Centurion for packaging and transport respectively.
SGS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Centurion said in a statement it was seeking answers about how the capsule became dislodged during transport given the crate and pallet provided by SGS arrived in Perth in the same condition as at the start of the journey, and GPS data had shown no sudden changes in speed.
“From a freight and logistics perspective this indicates a routine journey, and the fact that the crate was not opened for a week until after delivery reinforces that view,” Centurion said.
Western Australia’s Chief Health Officer Andrew Robertson said there would be an investigation and prosecutions would be considered under state radiation safety laws from 1975.
The maximum penalty for failing to safely handle radioactive substances is A$1,000 and A$50 per day the offense continues, though the state government said on Wednesday it was considering a change to laws to allow for bigger penalties.
Officials said any change to penalties would not be retrospective.


Strong quake knocks out power, sends residents fleeing homes in southern Philippines

Strong quake knocks out power, sends residents fleeing homes in southern Philippines
Updated 01 February 2023

Strong quake knocks out power, sends residents fleeing homes in southern Philippines

Strong quake knocks out power, sends residents fleeing homes in southern Philippines
  • The quake was so strong in Montevista town of Davao de Oro province an and a witness said her house would collapse.

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines: A 6.0-magnitude earthquake rocked the southern Philippines on Wednesday, the US Geological Survey said, with local authorities warning of aftershocks and possible damage.
The shallow quake struck at 6:44 p.m. (1044 GMT), near Monkayo municipality in Davao de Oro province on Mindanao island.
Shallow earthquakes tend to cause more damage than deeper ones, but there were no immediate reports of major damage in the remote and mountainous gold mining region.
Monkayo police Staff Sergeant Harvey Asayas told AFP the quake was strong in the beginning but gradually weakened and stopped after 40 seconds.
“The authorities are now conducting patrols around to assess damage including the fire personnel and disaster officers,” Asayas said.
Police Corporal Edwin Mangigo, who is stationed at an outpost near Mount Diwata in Monkayo, said there had been no reports of casualties at local mining sites.
“We thought there was a landslide because our roof was shaking, we thought it was going to break,” Mangigo said.

Police Corporal Lucita Ambrocio, who is based in the nearby municipality of New Bataan, described the quake as “quick.”
“After 10 minutes, our colleagues went back to the building,” said Ambrocio, who raced outside with her colleagues when the police station started shaking.
“I checked the premises and I saw a small crack in the barracks.”
But in nearby Montevista municipality, Maricar Melgar said the quake was so strong she feared the building she was in would collapse.
“This was probably the strongest earthquake I experienced. My body is still shaking,” the 51-year-old told AFP.

In Tagum city, in Davao del Norte province, about 40 kilometers south west of the epicenter, residents also fled their homes and power was knocked out by the force of the quake.
“We were eating when (the house) began to shake — it was strong,” said Grace Jao, 40.
“We ran outside — we had to take safety measures. We did not see any damage inside the house when we got back.”
Quakes are a daily occurrence in the Philippines, which sits along the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of intense seismic as well as volcanic activity that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.
Most are too weak to be felt by humans, but strong and destructive ones come at random with no technology available to predict when and where it will happen.
The nation’s civil defense office regularly holds drills simulating earthquake scenarios along active fault lines.
The last major quake was in October in the northern Philippines.
The 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit the mountain town of Dolores in Abra province, injuring several people, damaging buildings and cutting power to most of the region.
A 7.0-magnitude quake in mountainous Abra last July triggered landslides and ground fissures, killing 11 people and injuring several hundred.


Rejected Iranian asylum seeker who killed elderly British woman detained in secure hospital

Rejected Iranian asylum seeker who killed elderly British woman detained in secure hospital
Updated 01 February 2023

Rejected Iranian asylum seeker who killed elderly British woman detained in secure hospital

Rejected Iranian asylum seeker who killed elderly British woman detained in secure hospital
  • Shahin Darvish-Narenjbon had admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility
  • Given the situation in Iran, the 34-year-old will not currently be considered for deportation, a judge said

LONDON: A failed Iranian asylum seeker who killed an elderly British woman in North Yorkshire has been sentenced to indefinite detention in a secure hospital.

A court heard that Shahin Darvish-Narenjbon had befriended Brenda Blainey, 83, who offered him a room in her home in the village of Thornton-le-Dale. Sentencing him at Leeds Crown Court on Wednesday, Judge Rodney Jameson KC said that the victim had treated her killer like a “grandson,” the Independent reported.

Darvish-Narenjbon strangled Blainey, bashed her head on the floor, stabbed her in the chest and cut her throat on Jan. 5 last year. During a previous hearing, the 34-year-old Iranian national admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

The court was told he was born in Tehran and had lived in the UK since he was 15, with the exception of a brief stay in the US where spent time in a psychiatric unit. He first arrived in Britain in 2005 and sought asylum there after his student visa expired in 2013. His application and subsequent appeals were denied. He filed another asylum claim in 2020, which was pending at the time he killed Blainey.

He could not be deported from the UK in the time between his applications because there was not a returns agreement in place with Iran, a government source told the Independent.

Judge Jameson said on Wednesday that three consultant forensic psychiatrists agreed Darvish-Narenjbon has schizophrenia and that his “retained responsibility” for the killing was “low.”

“You killed Brenda Blainey in her own home in circumstances of appalling brutality,” he said. “I want to make it clear both to you and to the family of Brenda Blainey that this is not to say that your responsibility is extinguished. It is not.

“You remain, albeit to a low degree, responsible for the dreadful death of Mrs Blainey and for the grief and suffering that this has caused to her friends and family.”

The judge added that Darvish-Narenjbon will not immediately face the prospect of being sent back to his home country.

“Given the situation in Iran, however, you will not presently be considered for deportation,” he said.

A Home Office spokesman told the Independent: “Foreign national offenders who exploit our system and commit crimes here in the UK will face the full force of the law, including deportation at the earliest opportunity for those eligible.

“The Government is committed to stopping abuse of the immigration system, taking decisive action against those who try to play the system.”

 


Two men jailed for life over $5.6m London property fraud killing

Two men jailed for life over $5.6m London property fraud killing
Updated 01 February 2023

Two men jailed for life over $5.6m London property fraud killing

Two men jailed for life over $5.6m London property fraud killing
  • Mohamed El-Abboud and Kusai Al-Jundi murdered woman, 71, after failed attempt to seize her life savings
  • El-Abboud sold victim’s BMW and posted TikTok video showing him dancing in driveway of her home

LONDON: Two men were each sentenced on Wednesday to a minimum of 35 years in jail for murdering a 71-year-old woman after attempting to take control of two properties she owned in the capital.

The court was told that Mohamed El-Abboud, 28, and Kusai Al-Jundi, 25, lured Louise Kam to her property in Barnet on July 26, where she was strangled with a hair dryer cord.

Her body was wrapped in a duvet, thrown in a bin and covered in garden waste, Sky News reported. 

Al-Jundi spent months attempting to dupe Kam into handing over control of two properties she owned in London by offering her millions of pounds. 

Judge Mark Lucraft said that Al-Jundi falsely claimed to be a “person of means” with support from a multimillionaire girlfriend. He also attempted to take control of Kam’s finances by convincing her to sign a lasting power of attorney document, Sky News reported. 

Kam, realizing the scam, refused to sign over the properties. 

Al-Jundi decided to murder Kam to obtain her £4.6 million ($5.6 million) assets and promised El-Abboud a share “as a reward for killing her,” the judge said.

Investigators said that Al-Jundi sent Kam’s family and friends messages pretending she was alive and on vacation. 

Meanwhile El-Abboud sold Kam’s BMW and used the proceeds to buy new clothes. 

El-Abboud also posted a TikTok video showing him dancing in the driveway of Kam’s home.

The two men were convicted on Jan. 19 based on police evidence linking them to the murder, Sky News reported. 

Sentencing both to life in prison, with a minimum term of 35 years, the judge said: “El-Abboud, it might be said that Al-Jundi played the lead role in the long-running defrauding of Louise, but I draw no distinction on the sentence to be passed on the two of you.

“The evidence clearly shows what you did and did willingly and that you, along with Al-Jundi, did what you did out of greed.”