Beijing no longer requires COVID test results to enter supermarkets, buildings

A woman gets tested at a nucleic acid testing site, as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreaks continue in Shanghai, China, December 5, 2022. (REUTERS)
A woman gets tested at a nucleic acid testing site, as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreaks continue in Shanghai, China, December 5, 2022. (REUTERS)
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Updated 06 December 2022
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Beijing no longer requires COVID test results to enter supermarkets, buildings

Beijing no longer requires COVID test results to enter supermarkets, buildings

BEIJING: China’s capital Beijing no longer requires people that enter supermarkets and commercial buildings to show negative COVID-19 tests on their mobile phones, the city government said in a statement on Tuesday.
However, the city still requires negative test results to enter Internet cafes, schools, bars, KTV lounges, indoor gyms and elderly care institutions.

 


Indian rescuers break through tunnel debris to evacuate trapped workers

Indian rescuers break through tunnel debris to evacuate trapped workers
Updated 22 min ago
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Indian rescuers break through tunnel debris to evacuate trapped workers

Indian rescuers break through tunnel debris to evacuate trapped workers
  • Soldiers and skilled miners are using a so-called ‘rat-hole’ mining technique to clear the final stretch
  • The 41 construction workers have been trapped since November 12 in a tunnel being constructed

SILKYARA TUNNEL, India: Rescuers on Tuesday successfully drilled through debris to reach 41 workers trapped for 17 days in a collapsed tunnel in the Indian Himalayas and were set to pull them out to safety, an official said.

The men were stuck in the 4.5-km tunnel in the mountainous state of Uttarakhand since it caved in early on Nov. 12.

Indian rescue teams have earlier crept forward in a painstaking dig by hand through rock and rubble toward 41 workers who have been trapped in a collapsed road tunnel for 17 days.

Soldiers and skilled miners used a so-called “rat-hole” mining technique to clear the final stretch, digging through some two meters (six feet) of rubble to leave only an estimated seven meters (23 feet) to go.

Rajput Rai, a drilling expert, told the Press Trust of India that three-person teams are taking turns working at the rock face inside a metal pipe, just wide enough for someone to squeeze through.

While one worker drills, a second scoops up the rubble by hand, and the third places it on a wheeled trolley to be pulled out, Rai said, according to PTI’s Tuesday report.

Rescuers have brought in a superheated plasma cutter to slice through submerged metal rods that have repeatedly impeded progress.

Tunnel expert Chris Cooper, who is advising the rescue teams, said Monday he was optimistic that they would break through.

“It depends on how the ground behaves,” he told reporters, adding that they may have to cut through heavy-duty girders that had been meant to hold the collapsed roof up.

“We are confident that we can overcome it.”

The 41 construction workers have been trapped since November 12 in a tunnel being constructed between the remote towns of Silkyara and Dandalgaon in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand.

The more than two-week-long rescue operation has been hit by repeated setbacks.

Efforts have been complicated by falling debris and repeated breakdowns of drilling machines.

Last week, engineers working to drive a metal pipe horizontally through 57 meters (187 feet) of rock and concrete ran into metal girders and construction vehicles buried in the rubble, snapping a giant earth-boring auger machine.

In a separate effort, a drilling machine was brought up to a forested hill above the tunnel on a specially constructed track.

Vertical drilling from that location is now nearly halfway through the 89 meters (292 feet) needed to reach the stranded men, a risky route in an area that has already suffered a collapse.

Digging, blasting and drilling have also begun from the far side of the road tunnel, a much longer third route estimated to be around 480 meters (1,575 feet).

The workers were seen alive for the first time on Tuesday, peering into the lens of an endoscopic camera sent by rescuers down a thin pipe through which air, food, water and electricity are being delivered.

“Our only source of strength is God, as it is the last hope for us,” said mother-of-three Musarrat Jahan, whose husband Mohd Sabah Ahmad is a migrant worker trapped inside.

“We have more faith in God than anything,” she said by phone from her home in the eastern state of Bihar, one of India’s poorest.

Though trapped, the workers have plenty of space in the tunnel, with the area inside 8.5 meters (28 feet) high and stretching about two kilometers in length.


Berlin welcomes release of Gaza hostages, including two Germans: minister

Berlin welcomes release of Gaza hostages, including two Germans: minister
Updated 28 November 2023
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Berlin welcomes release of Gaza hostages, including two Germans: minister

Berlin welcomes release of Gaza hostages, including two Germans: minister
  • The release of the two hostages on Monday brings the total number of German passport-holders released by Hamas to 10 — four were released on Friday and four more on Saturday

BERLIN: German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock welcomed Monday the release of 11 Gaza hostages, including “two German teenagers” as part of the truce agreement between Israel and Hamas.
“After 52 days of suffering and despair, their mother can hold them in her arms again.
“My thoughts are with the families who are still waiting in fear. We are doing everything we can so that they too can hold them in their arms,” Baerbock posted on X, formerly Twitter.
The release of the two hostages on Monday brings the total number of German passport-holders released by Hamas to 10 — four were released on Friday and four more on Saturday.
Baerbock also welcomed the announcement by Hamas of a truce extension, which she said would allow “precious time for our aid to reach the people of Gaza.”
“And it’s a glimmer of hope so we don’t lose sight of what could happen: concrete steps toward a secure future for all the people in the region.”


Palestinian diplomat appeals for peace in Gaza at a meeting between EU and Arab nations in Spain

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki. (REUTERS)
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki. (REUTERS)
Updated 28 November 2023
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Palestinian diplomat appeals for peace in Gaza at a meeting between EU and Arab nations in Spain

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki. (REUTERS)
  • Israel did not attend the meeting hosted by the Union for the Mediterranean and chaired by the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, and Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi

BARCELONA, Spain: Hours before Israel and Hamas agreed to extend their expiring cease-fire by two more days, the top Palestinian diplomat made a plea during a Monday meeting of European Union members and Arab nations for a definitive end to Israel’s retaliatory attacks on the Gaza Strip .
“We have to find how to apply the necessary pressure so that the Israeli government does not continue killing innocent people, so that we can continue counting cadavers,” Riad Al-Maliki said in Spanish during a news conference during the gathering of diplomats in Barcelona, Spain.
Al-Maliki warned that any resumption of the war by Israel would quickly lead to more deaths in a conflict that has killed more than 14,000 people, the vast majority of them Palestinians. He is the foreign minister for the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority, whose forces were driven out of Gaza by Hamas when it seized power in 2007.
Israel did not attend the meeting hosted by the Union for the Mediterranean and chaired by the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, and Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi. Many of the 43 delegations were represented by their foreign ministers.
In recent years, the event has become largely a forum for cooperation between the EU and the Arab world. Monday’s gathering was supposed to focus on the role of the union 15 years after its foundation, but it has taken on new significance since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that killed more than 1,200 Israelis and led to nearly 240 people being taken hostage and Israel’s ensuing war in the Gaza Strip.
While the meeting did not produce any major policy initiatives, it did provide a chance for European diplomats to hear directly from northern African and Middle Eastern nations who strongly support the Palestinian cause and fear the Israel-Hamas war could destabilize the region.
Borrell said he “regretted” the absence of Israel. He repeated his condemnation of the Hamas attack, while calling on Israel to permanently end its assault, which he said has claimed the lives of over 5,000 children.
“One horror cannot justify another horror,” Borrell said. “Peace between Israel and Palestine has become a strategic imperative for the entire Euro-Mediterranean community and beyond.”
Jordan’s Safadi, who told The Associated Press on the eve of the event that he hoped the talks would help “bridge a gap” between Arab and European countries, urged the officials attending the meeting to back a two-state solution that would recognize a Palestinian state.
But Safadi also acknowledged Monday after the meeting that despite a broad consensus for peace, there were still some differing viewpoints on how hard to push Israel to stop.
“Today, we came for a very open, very frank, very blunt conversation. We agreed and we disagreed. Some of our colleagues still call the killing of 15,000 Palestinians, the destruction of over 160,000 homes, the complete devastation of hospitals, the denial of food, water, fuel, medicine, is self-defense,” he said. “We call it blatant aggression.”
Safadi would not say which countries took the softer approach to Israel, but the Czech Republic, Austria, Croatia, and Hungary have insisted on Israel’s right to defend itself.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, was invited to the event.
“Continued escalation will produce no severe pain for any party,” Prince Faisal said. “The only sure result is more destruction, radicalization and further conflict at the expense of Palestinian lives, as well as regional security, including that of Israel.”
Borrell said he wanted the gathering to focus on managing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza once hostilities finally stop. The EU would want the United Nations to take a leading role in establishing how best to fill any security vacuum should Israeli forces defeat Hamas, according to a senior EU official who was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
A small pro-Palestinian group rallied before the gathering at the art nouveau building that once housed Barcelona’s Sant Pau Hospital.
Israel gave no reason for its decision not to attend the gathering. The EU is the world’s biggest provider of assistance to the Palestinians as well as Israel’s biggest trade partner. Spain is one of the EU countries that has called for Israel to cease its assault, while also condemning the Hamas attack.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said during a trip to Israel, the Palestinian territories and Egypt last week with his Belgian counterpart that the time haf come for the international community and the EU to recognize a Palestinian state. His comment prompted Israel to summon the Belgian and Spanish ambassadors.
Lebanese Foreign Affairs Minister Abdallah Bou Habib said he was pleased that all the European nations agreed to back a two-state solution and do not want Israel to occupy Gaza.
“I’m glad that the Europeans are interested in solving the problem of problem that is 75 years old,” he told the AP. “And they all agreed that Israel should not stay in the Gaza Strip, and that it and the West Bank are one and should continue to be one.”
 

 

 


North Korea’s Kim receives photos taken by spy satellite of White House, Pentagon – state media

North Korea’s Kim receives photos taken by spy satellite of White House, Pentagon – state media
Updated 28 November 2023
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North Korea’s Kim receives photos taken by spy satellite of White House, Pentagon – state media

North Korea’s Kim receives photos taken by spy satellite of White House, Pentagon – state media
  • Kim inspected satellite photos of the Andersen Air Force Base in the US Western Pacific territory of Guam and a US shipyard and air base in Norfolk and Newport, where a total of four nuclear-powered air carriers and a British air carrier were spotted

SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un received photos of the White House, Pentagon and US aircraft carriers in the naval base of Norfolk, taken by its recently launched spy satellite, state media KCNA said on Tuesday.
North Korea last week successfully launched its first reconnaissance satellite, which it has said was designed to monitor US and South Korean military movements.
The photos were the latest in a series of images of what KCNA described as “major target regions” sent by the satellite, including the South Korean capital of Seoul and US military bases.
Kim also inspected satellite photos of the Andersen Air Force Base in the US Western Pacific territory of Guam and a US shipyard and air base in Norfolk and Newport, where a total of four nuclear-powered air carriers and a British air carrier were spotted, KCNA said.
The United States and South Korea have condemned the satellite launch as a violation of UN Security Council resolutions banning any use of ballistic technology.
Seoul officials have said the North’s satellite capabilities could not be verified as it has not released the photos.
 

 


Niger junta repeals law aimed at slowing migration to Europe

Niger junta repeals law aimed at slowing migration to Europe
Updated 28 November 2023
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Niger junta repeals law aimed at slowing migration to Europe

Niger junta repeals law aimed at slowing migration to Europe
  • The junta is reassessing its relations with former western allies who condemned the coup

NIAMEY: Niger’s junta has revoked an anti-migration law that had helped reduce the flow of West Africans to Europe but which was reviled by desert dwellers whose economies had long relied on the traffic, it said on Monday.
The law, which made it illegal to transport migrants through Niger, was passed in May 2015 as the number of people traveling across the Mediterranean Sea from Africa reached record highs, creating a political and humanitarian crisis in Europe where governments came under pressure to stop the influx.
Niger’s junta, which took power in a July coup, repealed the law on Saturday and announced it on Monday evening on state television.
The junta is reassessing its relations with former western allies who condemned the coup, and is seeking to shore up support at home, including in the northern desert communities that had benefited most from migration.
The number of migrants moving through Niger, a main transit country on the southern fringe of the Sahara Desert, dropped sharply over the years because of the law, but the change drained the lifeblood from towns and villages that had fed and housed migrants and sold car parts and fuel to traffickers.
In return, the European Union launched the 5 billion euro Trust Fund for Africa in 2015, aimed at eradicating the root causes of migration, but many felt it was not enough. Unemployment soared in places like the ancient city of Agadez, a popular gateway to the Sahara.
How European leaders greet the news, and the impact on migration to Europe, is yet to be seen.
But some welcomed it. Andre Chani used to earn thousands of dollars a month driving migrants through the desert before police impounded his trucks in 2016. He plans to restart his business once he has the money.
“I’m going to start again,” he said via text message from Agadez on Monday. “We are very happy.”