New Iran sanctions should include Revolutionary Guards - Belgian FM

New Iran sanctions should include Revolutionary Guards - Belgian FM
Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs Hadja Lahbib (AFP)
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Updated 22 April 2024
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New Iran sanctions should include Revolutionary Guards - Belgian FM

New Iran sanctions should include Revolutionary Guards - Belgian FM
  • There is no consensus on what legal basis the Guards could be added to bloc-wide list of entities seen as terrorist origanisaions

PARIS: New European Union sanctions against Iran in response to the country’s recent attack on Israel should include the Revolutionary Guards, Belgium’s Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib said on Monday.
Speaking to journalists ahead of an EU ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg, Lahbib said that so far there was no consensus on what legal basis the Guards could be added to bloc-wide list of entities seen as terrorist origanisaions.
“We will discuss it together,” she said, adding:
“I also think we have to expand sanctions against violent settlers (in the Palestinian West Bank). We have to be balanced and make sure we won’t be accused of having double standards.”


Israel condemns Slovenia’s Palestinian statehood move

Updated 5 sec ago
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Israel condemns Slovenia’s Palestinian statehood move

Israel condemns Slovenia’s Palestinian statehood move
Foreign Minister Israel Katz said the decision, which requires Slovenian parliamentary approval, rewarded Hamas for murder and rape

JERUSALEM: Israel’s foreign minister denounced the Slovenian government’s decision on Thursday to recognize an independent Palestinian state.
Foreign Minister Israel Katz said the decision, which requires Slovenian parliamentary approval, rewarded Hamas for murder and rape, a reference to the Palestinian Islamist group’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel that sparked the war in Gaza.
In a statement, Katz said the move also strengthened Israel’s arch-enemy Iran and damaged “the close friendship between the Slovenian and Israeli people.” He added: “I hope the Slovenian parliament rejects this recommendation.”

UK govt calls for release of Hong Kong democracy campaigners

UK govt calls for release of Hong Kong democracy campaigners
Updated 15 min 47 sec ago
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UK govt calls for release of Hong Kong democracy campaigners

UK govt calls for release of Hong Kong democracy campaigners
  • “We call on the Hong Kong authorities to end NSL prosecutions,” junior foreign minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said
  • Britain has become increasingly critical of Beijing’s influence on its former colony

LONDON: The British government on Thursday urged Hong Kong to halt prosecutions under its National Security Law and release 14 pro-democracy campaigners found guilty of subversion.
“We call on the Hong Kong authorities to end NSL prosecutions and release all individuals charged under it,” junior foreign minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said in a statement.
Britain handed back Hong Kong to China in 1997 but has become increasingly critical of Beijing’s influence on its former colony, accusing it of breaking its promise to protect democratic freedoms.
Relations have soured between the two capitals, including after Hong Kongers were given residency and a route to citizenship in the UK due to the crackdown on pro-democracy campaigners.
Trevelyan said Thursday’s verdict was “a clear demonstration of the way that the Hong Kong authorities have used the Beijing-imposed National Security Law to stifle opposition and criminalize political dissent.”
The 14 people found guilty, who were among 47 charged, were “guilty of nothing more than seeking to exercise their right to freedom of speech, of assembly and of political participation,” she said.
“Today’s verdict will only further tarnish Hong Kong’s international reputation. It sends a message that Hong Kongers can no longer safely and meaningfully participate in peaceful political debate.”


Animals collapse, water shortages bite amid India’s searing heat

Animals collapse, water shortages bite amid India’s searing heat
Updated 53 min 53 sec ago
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Animals collapse, water shortages bite amid India’s searing heat

Animals collapse, water shortages bite amid India’s searing heat
  • India’s capital Delhi recorded first heat-related death on Wednesday as sun scorches
  • Extreme temperatures spark fires in several regions of country such as Jammu and Kashmir

NEW DELHI: Animals collapsed, people jumped on water tankers with buckets amid shortages and government employees changed their work hours as blistering summer heat kept its grip on north India on Thursday.

Although Thursday’s readings were marginally lower in Delhi than the previous day when one area recorded an all-time high of 52.9 degrees Celsius (127.22 Fahrenheit), the region still saw temperatures touching 47 C (116.6 F).

Delhi, which has a population of 20 million, recorded its first heat-related death on Wednesday, with a 40-year-old laborer dying of heatstroke, local media reported. Authorities said they are investigating if the 52.9 C reading in the Mungeshpur neighborhood on Wednesday was caused by a sensor error at the local weather station.

Television images showed people chasing water tankers or climbing on top of them in parts of the city to fill containers amidst an acute water shortage that the government blames on low levels in the Yamuna River — Delhi’s primary source of water.

Along the river’s banks, women in shanties endured stifling conditions in their homes as their cooking stoves aggravated the sweltering weather.

“The heat is worse this year. We work like this every day so we get into the habit,” said Seema, 19, who cooks for her family twice a day.

In the neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh, a policeman used CPR to revive a monkey that he said had fainted and fallen from a tree because of the heat, pumping its chest for 45 minutes, local media reported, and Delhi also saw cases of heatstroke among birds.

As more people chose to order food and groceries by home delivery instead of venturing out in the heat, delivery personnel have been spending more time on their scooters and motorbikes, their employers said.

“Order frequency has been higher during the afternoon when people are avoiding stepping out,” said Ateef Shaikh, a delivery fleet manager at a Swiggy delivery app store in Mumbai.

Zomato and its grocery delivery business, Blinkit, have taken additional measures to help delivery workers, including providing refreshments and comfortable clothing, their spokespersons said.

Blinkit is installing air coolers in the waiting areas of all its stores, the spokesperson added.

The extreme temperatures have also sparked more fires in several parts of the country, including in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, where authorities are using drones to monitor forest fires.

The country, which is nearing the end of multi-phase national elections, is not alone in experiencing unusually high temperatures. Billions across Asia are grappling with the heat and in neighboring Pakistan the temperature crossed 52 C (125.6 F)this week.

Scientists say this trend has been worsened by human-driven climate change. India, the world’s third-biggest greenhouse gas emitter, has long held that, as a developing nation, it should not be forced to cut its energy-related emissions but has set a target of becoming a net-zero emitter by 2070. 


Ukraine to get up to 100,000 shells in June: Czech official

Ukraine to get up to 100,000 shells in June: Czech official
Updated 30 May 2024
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Ukraine to get up to 100,000 shells in June: Czech official

Ukraine to get up to 100,000 shells in June: Czech official
  • Ukraine could get millions of shells if allies managed to collect the money
  • Ukrainian forces said earlier this year they were so low on supplies that they were forced to ration ammunition, letting Russia seize ground

PRAGUE: Ukraine will receive 50,000-100,000 shells in June under a Czech-led initiative to buy ammunition for the war-ravaged country largely outside Europe, a Czech official said Thursday.
Tomas Kopecny, the Czech government envoy for Ukraine reconstruction, told reporters that Ukraine, battling a Russian invasion since February 2022, could get millions of shells if allies managed to collect the money.
“The first delivery under the umbrella of this Czech initiative will be in June, and it will be dozens of thousands of shells, between 50 and 100,” he said on the fringes of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Prague.
Ukrainian forces said earlier this year they were so low on supplies that they were forced to ration ammunition, letting Russia seize ground.
Russia has more recently launched a widescale offensive in northeastern Ukraine ahead of the delivery of US weapons that were approved after a long delay in Congress.
Besides the Czech Republic, Canada, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal have so far contributed some 1.7 billion euros ($1.8 billion) to buy 500,000 shells in the first phase, Kopecny said.
Ten other countries are “in the process” with talks for donations under way, he said.
In Prague for the NATO meeting, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken hailed the so-called Czech initiative, estimating that the effort will bring one million shells to Ukraine by the end of the year.
“Czechia’s leadership is really quite extraordinary,” Blinken said. “We’re not only stronger, we’re more likely to prevent — to deter — aggression when we’re united.”
Kopecny urged further contributions as Ukraine will need 200,000 shells a month in the next two years “just to make the balance” vis-a-vis Russia.
The necessary supplies will swallow “between seven and ten billion euros per year,” he said, adding the 500,000 shells obtained or pledged so far would suffice for two and a half months.
He said allies were competing for millions of rounds of ammunition produced outside Europe with Russia.
“It’s about speed,” he said. “It’s a market where the owner of a product wants to sell it at the highest price.”
Kopecny also slammed allies for a failure to use bank loans to finance the weapon supplies to Ukraine.
“It’s so frustrating when you compare it with the expenses and the loans the EU took for Covid. Hundreds of billions of euros. Easy. And here we’re struggling with hundreds of millions.”


Indian space startup launches first rocket with fully 3D-printed engine

Indian space startup launches first rocket with fully 3D-printed engine
Updated 30 May 2024
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Indian space startup launches first rocket with fully 3D-printed engine

Indian space startup launches first rocket with fully 3D-printed engine
  • Rocket launched from India’s first private launchpad in Sriharikota
  • Agnibaan has the first indigenously produced semi-cryogenic engine

NEW DELHI: An Indian startup launched the world’s first rocket with a single-piece 3D-printed engine on Thursday, marking another milestone in the country’s booming space economy.

The Agnibaan SOrTeD (Suborbital Tech Demonstrator) rocket weighing 575 kg and 6.2 meters long, was launched by Agnikul Cosmos from a private launchpad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, off the Bay of Bengal.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to social media to congratulate the team and mark the launch as a “remarkable feat which will make the entire nation proud.”

The feat was achieved “entirely through indigenous design and development,” the company said in a statement.

“The key purpose of this mission, which is also Agnikul’s first flight, is to serve as a test flight, to demonstrate the in-house and homegrown technologies, gather crucial flight data and ensure optimal functioning of systems for Agnikul’s orbital launch vehicle.”

It is powered by the only India-manufactured rocket engine to use both gas and liquid fuel.

“What Agnikul has achieved today, is nothing short of a historical milestone ... Agnibaan SOrTeD has got many firsts in its strides with being India’s first launch from a private launchpad, the first semi-cryogenic engine-powered rocket launch and the world’s first single-piece 3D-printed engine designed and built indigenously,” Lt. Gen. A.K. Bhatt, director-general of the Indian Space Association, told Arab News.

“This is a huge boost and a proud moment for India’s thriving private space industry and just a glimpse into what the future holds for us.”

India’s national space agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation, which has yet to fly a rocket with a similar engine, said Agnikul’s achievement was a “major milestone, as the first-ever controlled flight of a semi-cryogenic liquid engine realized through additive manufacturing.”

Agnikul, whose name is a combination of “fire” in Sanskrit (agni) and Hindi (kul) — was founded in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, in 2017.

The company has over 200 engineers and 45 scientists who previously worked at the ISRO and are associated with the National Centre for Combustion Research and Development at the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras.

India’s first privately developed rocket, from the company Skyroot, was flown from the ISRO’s launch site in 2022.

The ISRO’s chairman, Dr. S. Somanath, said the many firsts in Thursday’s launch “demonstrate the prowess of indigenous design and innovation” and motivate the agency to support startups and the private sector “to create a vibrant space ecosystem in the country.”

India has been establishing a significant presence in the global space industry over the past few years.

Having become the fourth nation to soft-land a spacecraft on the moon in August last year, it aims to put an astronaut on the lunar surface by 2040.

In September 2023, India launched its sun mission with the Aditya-L1 spacecraft, which in January reached Lagrange point — 1.5 million km from Earth — to observe the photosphere and chromosphere and study solar wind particles and magnetic fields.

To date, the US is the only other country to have explored the sun with the Parker Solar Probe launched in 2021.

ENDS