Religious leaders join archbishop of Canterbury in opposing UK migration bill

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby was joined by Leeds-based Sunni Imam Qari Asim in signing a letter urging a different approach to tackling the UK’s migration crisis. (File/@QariAsim/AFP)
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby was joined by Leeds-based Sunni Imam Qari Asim in signing a letter urging a different approach to tackling the UK’s migration crisis. (File/@QariAsim/AFP)
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Updated 05 July 2023
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Religious leaders join archbishop of Canterbury in opposing UK migration bill

Religious leaders join archbishop of Canterbury in opposing UK migration bill
  • Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Sikh figures sign letter urging different strategy to deal with asylum-seekers
  • ‘People of all faiths are appalled’ by government proposals, imam tells The Times

LONDON: Religious leaders of major faiths in the UK have backed calls by the most senior cleric in the Church of England to oppose new migration laws proposed by the government.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has been joined by senior Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and Jewish figures in signing a letter urging a different approach to tackling the UK’s migration crisis.

The signatories include the chairman of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, Leeds-based Sunni Imam Qari Asim and Shiite cleric Imam Sayed Razawi, Scotland’s most senior Muslim scholar.

Other names of note are rabbis Charley Baginsky and Josh Levy, CEOs of the Progressive Judaism movement; the president of the Hindu Forum of Britain, Trupti Patel; Sikh peer Lord Singh of Wimbledon; the Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell and the Bishop of Durham Paul Butler.

Tens of thousands of migrants are currently in temporary accommodation in the UK due to a shortage of housing and a backlog in Home Office processing of asylum applications.

The government’s proposals outlined in the Illegal Migration Bill include giving authorities more powers to detain, deport and ban people from re-entering the UK who have arrived illegally, as well as to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda to await the outcomes of their applications.

In their letter, published in The Times, the faith leaders wrote: “We represent people and communities whose belief, worship and action point us towards the kind of society we wish to build for the common good.

“The Illegal Migration Bill falls short of our obligation towards the most vulnerable; it fails to meet the basic test of an evidence-based and workable policy. We need an alternative approach that reflects our country’s history, values and responsibility.”

The letter continued: “With more than 100 million people displaced around the world, this crisis will not be solved without significant collective endeavour.

“The UK should take a lead in setting out a just, compassionate approach, ensuring that people seeking sanctuary are protected, claims decided quickly and justly, human traffickers are punished, and the root causes of mass migration are properly addressed.”

Asim told The Times: “I think people of all faiths are appalled to hear about the proposals by the government. It shows inhumanity and incompetence in dealing with the crisis. It goes against the values of the history of Britain.”

Welby, who sits in the House of Lords, has tabled a series of amendments to the proposed legislation, which is set to be debated in Parliament, including establishing “ten-year strategies for collaborating internationally” to halt human trafficking.

He told The Times: “As faith leaders we hold different beliefs on many things, but we are united in our concern for people seeking sanctuary. Britain must have an asylum system based on justice and compassion.”

Baginsky said: “Religion is political. It’s absolutely right that if you put bishops into the House of Lords, they are going to speak about that crossover between religion and politics. The issue of refugees and the way we welcome people into this country (falls) exactly where that crossover happens.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The only way to ensure that people are not subjected to dangerous journeys at the hands of criminal gangs, is to remove the incentive for taking those journeys in the first place — that is what our ‘Stop the Boats Bill’ sets out to do.”


US combat ship ‘illegally’ entered territorial waters: China’s military

US combat ship ‘illegally’ entered territorial waters: China’s military
Updated 04 December 2023
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US combat ship ‘illegally’ entered territorial waters: China’s military

US combat ship ‘illegally’ entered territorial waters: China’s military
  • China is in dispute with several of its neighbors over its extensive claims of territorial waters in the South China Sea

BEIJING: China’s military on Monday said a US combat ship illegally entered waters adjacent to the Second Thomas Shoal, a disputed South China Sea atoll.
“The US seriously undermined regional peace and stability,” said a spokesperson for China’s Southern Theater of Operations in a statement.
The spokesperson also said the US deliberately disrupted the South China Sea and seriously violated China’s sovereignty.
China is in dispute with several of its neighbors over its extensive claims of territorial waters in the South China Sea.
In recent months it has had several confrontations with Philippine vessels, and also protested about US ships patrolling the disputed areas.
The spokesperson said the Chinese People’s Liberation Army organized maritime troops to follow and monitor the US ship., and that “its troops in the theater are on high alert at all times to resolutely defend national sovereignty.”

On Sunday, the Philippine Coast Guard deployed two of its vessels in the South China Sea after monitoring an “alarming” increase in the number of Chinese maritime militia vessels at a reef within the country’s exclusive economic zone.

 


Indonesia’s Marapi volcano erupts and blankets nearby villages with ash

Volcanic ash spews from Mount Marapi during an eruption as seen from Tanah Datar in West Sumatra on December 3, 2023. (AP)
Volcanic ash spews from Mount Marapi during an eruption as seen from Tanah Datar in West Sumatra on December 3, 2023. (AP)
Updated 04 December 2023
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Indonesia’s Marapi volcano erupts and blankets nearby villages with ash

Volcanic ash spews from Mount Marapi during an eruption as seen from Tanah Datar in West Sumatra on December 3, 2023. (AP)
  • Marapi’s alert level was maintained at the third-highest of four levels, Abdul Muhari said, and confirmed that authorities had been closely monitoring the volcano after sensors picked up increasing activity in recent weeks

PADANG, Indonesia: Indonesia’s Mount Marapi in West Sumatra province erupted Sunday, spewing white-and-gray ash plumes more than 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) into the air and sending hot ash clouds several miles (kilometers) away.
There were no immediate reports of casualties, said Ahmad Rifandi, an official with Indonesia’s Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center at the Marapi monitoring post. The two routes for climbers were closed after the eruption and villagers living on the slopes of the mountain were advised to stay 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) from the crater’s mouth because of potential lava.
About 70 climbers started their way up the nearly 2,900-meter (9,480-foot) mountain on Saturday and became stranded. So far, 49 have been successfully evacuated with the rest still awaiting rescue, said Hari Agustian, an official at the local Search and Rescue Agency in Padang, the capital city of West Sumatra province.
He said about 168 rescuers, including police and soldiers, have been deployed to rescue all the climbers.
A video on social media shows the climbers were evacuated to a shelter, their faces and hair smeared with volcanic dust and rain.
National Disaster Management Agency spokesperson Abdul Muhari said several villages were blanketed with falling ash, blocking out the sun in many areas. Authorities distributed masks and urged residents to wear eyeglasses to protect them from volcanic ash, he said.
About 1,400 people live on Marapi’s slopes in Rubai and Gobah Cumantiang, the nearest villages about 5 to 6 kilometers (3.1 to 3.7 miles) from the peak.
Marapi’s alert level was maintained at the third-highest of four levels, Abdul Muhari said, and confirmed that authorities had been closely monitoring the volcano after sensors picked up increasing activity in recent weeks.
Marapi has been active since January when it also erupted without causing casualties. It is among more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia, which is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.
 

 


Despite rising demand, arms sales hampered by production woes: study

Despite rising demand, arms sales hampered by production woes: study
Updated 04 December 2023
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Despite rising demand, arms sales hampered by production woes: study

Despite rising demand, arms sales hampered by production woes: study
  • US arms suppliers are particularly vulnerable to supply chain disruptions as many of the weapon systems they produce are more complex

STOCKHOLM: Even with the war in Ukraine fueling demand, revenue for the world’s top arms suppliers dipped in 2022, as production issues kept companies unable to increase production, researchers said Monday.
The sales of weapons and military services by the 100 largest arms companies in the world totalled $597 billion in 2022, a decrease of 3.5 percent compared to 2021, according to a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
At the same time, geopolitical tensions coupled with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine fueled increased demand for weapons and military equipment.
Diego Lopes da Silva, a senior researcher at SIPRI, told AFP that in this context the slowdown in revenue was “unexpected.”
“What the decrease really shows is that there is a time lag between a demand shock like the war in Ukraine and the ability of companies to scale up production and really meet that demand,” Lopes da Silva said.
According to SIPRI, the decline was in large part due to diminished revenues among major arms makers in the United States, where manufacturers struggled with “supply chain issues and labor shortages” stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The United States alone saw a 7.9 percent decrease but still made up for 51 percent of total arms revenue in 2022, with 42 companies among the world’s top 100.

US arms suppliers are particularly vulnerable to supply chain disruptions as many of the weapon systems they produce are more complex.
“That means that the supply chain is also more complex, and it has more parts, which means it’s more vulnerable,” Lopes da Silva said.
Russian arms makers also saw revenues drop significantly in the report, falling by 12 percent to $20.8 billion.
The decline was in part due to sanctions imposed on Russia over Ukraine, but Lopes da Silva also noted that lower revenues could also be the result of delayed payments from the Russian state.
In addition, the transparency of arms makers in Russia has diminished and only two Russian companies were included in the top 100 “due to a lack of available data,” according to SIPRI.
In contrast in other parts of the world such as the Middle East and Asia and Oceania, weapon makers producing less complicated systems were able to respond to the increased demand.
The Middle East in fact saw the biggest increase of any region by percentage, growing 11 percent to reach $17.9 billion.
Turkish companies in particular saw an increase, with Baykar — which produces an unmanned drone widely used in Ukraine — seeing a 94 percent increase in revenue.

The combined revenue for arms suppliers in Asia and Oceania rose by 3.1 percent, reaching $134 billion in 2022.
China, which after the US represented the second largest supplier by country, saw its eight arms companies in the ranking increase their combined revenues by 2.7 percent, reaching to $108 billion.
Looking forward, Lopes da Silva said there were no signs of demand slowing down.
“In the company reports, something very interesting that we found is that the order intake and the backlogs of the companies, they are increasing by a lot,” he told AFP.
Added to that, many European countries have pledged increased military spending targets in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with some targets reaching all the way to 2030.
“We’re seeing that this demand will continue for the years to come. So we expect military spending to continue to increase and consequently arms revenues,” Lopes da Silva said.
 

 


Magnitude 6.9 quake latest to rattle southern Philippines

Magnitude 6.9 quake latest to rattle southern Philippines
Updated 04 December 2023
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Magnitude 6.9 quake latest to rattle southern Philippines

Magnitude 6.9 quake latest to rattle southern Philippines
  • At least two people were killed and several were injured after Saturday’s quake, authorities said. It was followed by a series of aftershocks of magnitudes exceeding 6.0 through Sunday, according to the USGS

MANILA: A magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck off the coast of the southern Philippines early Monday, the United States Geological Survey said, the latest in a slew of strong quakes all concentrated in the same area.
Monday’s quake hit just before 4:00 am local time, (2000 GMT Sunday), at a depth of 30 kilometers (18 miles), some 72 kilometers northeast of Hinatuan municipality on Mindanao island.
That followed a magnitude 6.6 earthquake on Sunday and a deadly magnitude 7.6 quake Saturday in the same region, which had briefly triggered a tsunami alert.
At least two people were killed and several were injured after Saturday’s quake, authorities said. It was followed by a series of aftershocks of magnitudes exceeding 6.0 through Sunday, according to the USGS.
Hinatuan police Staff Sergeant Joseph Lambo said Sunday evening’s quake sent people rushing out of their homes again.
“They were panicking due to the memory of the previous night’s quake,” Lambo told AFP.
He said police were checking for any further damage or casualties.
Saturday’s quake triggered tsunami warnings across the Pacific region and sent residents along the east coast of Mindanao fleeing buildings, evacuating a hospital and seeking higher ground.

There have been no reports of major damage to buildings or infrastructure so far, disaster officials told AFP earlier on Sunday.
A 30-year-old man died in Bislig City, in Surigao del Sur province, when a wall inside his house collapsed on top of him, said local disaster official Pacifica Pedraverde.
Some roads in the city were cracked during the earthquake and aftershocks but vehicles could still drive on them, she said.
A pregnant woman was killed in Tagum city in Davao del Norte province, the national disaster agency said, without providing details.
Two people suffered minor injuries from falling debris in Tandag City, about 100 kilometers north of Bislig, an official said.
The Philippine seismology institute initially warned of a “destructive tsunami” after the first quake Saturday, expecting “life threatening” waves, though none occurred and the warning later ended.
Small swells were reported as far away as Japan’s eastern Pacific coast, where a tsunami warning was also briefly in effect. Palau, a western Pacific archipelago located about 900 kilometers off Mindanao, reported no impact.
The recent temblors came some two weeks after a 6.7 magnitude quake hit Mindanao, killing at least nine people, shaking buildings and causing part of a shopping mall ceiling to collapse.
Earthquakes are a daily occurrence in the Philippines, which sits along the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of intense seismic and volcanic activity that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.
Most are too weak to be felt by humans.

 


At least 47 dead in Tanzania landslides: local official

A general view of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. (AFP)
A general view of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. (AFP)
Updated 04 December 2023
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At least 47 dead in Tanzania landslides: local official

A general view of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. (AFP)
  • “Up to this evening, the death toll reached 47 and 85 injured,” Queen Sendiga, regional commissioner in the Manyara area of northern Tanzania, told local media

DAR ES SALAAM: At least 47 people were killed and 85 others injured in landslides caused by flooding in northern Tanzania, a local official announced Sunday, with warnings the toll would rise.
Heavy rain on Saturday hit the town of Katesh, some 300 kilometers (186 miles) north of the capital Dodoma, district commissioner Janeth Mayanja said.
“Up to this evening, the death toll reached 47 and 85 injured,” Queen Sendiga, regional commissioner in the Manyara area of northern Tanzania, told local media.
Both warned that the death toll was likely to increase.
Mayanja added the many roads in the area had been blocked by mud, water and dislodged trees and stones.
Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan, in Dubai for the COP28 climate conference, sent her condolences and said she had ordered the deployment of “more government efforts to rescue people.”
Images broadcast on state television TBC showed many flooded homes and vehicles stuck in thick mud.
After experiencing an unprecedented drought, East Africa has been hit for weeks by torrential rain and flooding linked to the El Nino weather phenomenon.
The downpours have displaced more than a million people in Somalia and left hundreds dead.
In May, torrential rains caused devastating floods and landslides in Rwanda that killed at least 130 people.
El Nino is a naturally occurring weather pattern that originates in the Pacific Ocean and drives increased heat worldwide, bringing drought to some areas and heavy rains elsewhere.
Scientists expect the worst effects of the current El Nino to be felt at the end of 2023 and into next year.
Between October 1997 and January 1998, massive flooding exacerbated by heavy El Nino rains caused more than 6,000 deaths in five countries in the region.
Scientists say extreme weather events such as flooding, storms, droughts and wildfires are being made longer, more intense and more frequent by human-induced climate change.