UK announces compensation package for blood scandal victims

UK announces compensation package for blood scandal victims
Above, relatives of a victim of the contaminated blood scandal gather outside Westminster in central London on May 20, 2024 during the Infected Blood Inquiry final report. (AFP)
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Updated 21 May 2024
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UK announces compensation package for blood scandal victims

UK announces compensation package for blood scandal victims
  • Damning report blames successive governments, officials and doctors for failures that resulted in more than 3,000 deaths

LONDON: Britain said on Tuesday it would begin making further interim compensation payments to the victims of the contaminated blood and blood products scandal.
“The government will be making further interim payments ahead of the establishment of the full scheme,” minister John Glen told parliament, a day after a damning report blamed successive governments, officials and doctors for failures that resulted in more than 3,000 deaths.
“Payments of 210,000 pounds will be made to living infected beneficiaries,” he added.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made a “wholehearted unequivocal apology for this terrible injustice” on Monday, adding that those affected would receive “comprehensive compensation.”


Ukrainian drone damages ferry in Russian port, one person dead, says regional governor

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Ukrainian drone damages ferry in Russian port, one person dead, says regional governor

Ukrainian drone damages ferry in Russian port, one person dead, says regional governor
A fire at the port resulting from the drone strike was later extinguished
Port Kavkaz is located on a spit of land opposite the Crimean Peninsula

MOSCOW: A Ukrainian drone attack damaged a ferry and killed one person in Port Kavkaz in Russia’s southern Krasnodar region, regional governor Veniamin Kondratyev said on Tuesday on the Telegram messaging app.
The Ukrainian military, also posting on Telegram, said the attack had “significantly damaged” the “Slavianin” which it described as the last railway ferry Russia had been using for military purposes in the region.
“The occupiers used this ferry to transport railway cars, vehicles, and containers for military purposes,” Ukraine’s General Staff said.
A fire at the port resulting from the drone strike was later extinguished, the RIA state news agency reported, citing an emergency services source.
Reuters could not immediately confirm accounts of the attack from either side.
Port Kavkaz is located on a spit of land opposite the Crimean Peninsula. Ferries based there help to connect Russia’s mainland with Crimea, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Russia also ships oil and grain exports from the port across the Black Sea. In May, the Ukrainian military said it had struck Port Kavkaz’s oil terminal with missiles.

Sicily’s Catania airport reopens after Etna eruption

Sicily’s Catania airport reopens after Etna eruption
Updated 54 min 4 sec ago
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Sicily’s Catania airport reopens after Etna eruption

Sicily’s Catania airport reopens after Etna eruption
  • All flights would resume from 10pm
  • The airport had suspended all flights earlier Tuesday “due to eruptions and ash emissions“

ROME: The airport at Catania in Sicily, a top Italian tourist destination, reopened late Tuesday afternoon after suspending all flights when an eruption at nearby Mount Etna spewed volcanic ash.
Millions of passengers pass every year through Catania International Airport, which serves the eastern part of Sicily with tourist sites such as Syracuse and Taormina.
“Due to the decrease in volcanic activity, flight operations will resume,” the airport operator wrote on X.
Departures resumed from 6pm (1600gmt), while four arrivals per hour would be allowed from 8pm (1800gmt), it said.
All flights would resume from 10pm (2000gmt), it added.
The airport had suspended all flights earlier Tuesday “due to eruptions and ash emissions.”
That message was posted with a warning image of Mount Etna with the text “high intensity” and “volcanic activity in progress” overlayed.
The National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology said the ash column had reached an altitude of eight kilometers (five miles).
At 3,324 meters (nearly 11,000 feet), Etna is the tallest active volcano in Europe and has erupted frequently in the past 500,000 years.
Catania airport was last closed on July 5 due to an eruption.


Poll says 32 percent of Ukrainians open to territorial concessions for quick peace

Poll says 32 percent of Ukrainians open to territorial concessions for quick peace
Updated 23 July 2024
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Poll says 32 percent of Ukrainians open to territorial concessions for quick peace

Poll says 32 percent of Ukrainians open to territorial concessions for quick peace
  • The Kyiv International Institute of Sociology said 55 percent of Ukrainians remain opposed to making any territorial concessions
  • Nearly 29 months since its full-scale invasion, Russia occupies around 18 percent of Ukrainian territory

KYIV: Nearly a third of Ukrainians would accept some territorial concessions to Russia for a quick end to the war, a more than three-fold increase over the past year, although most still oppose giving up any land, a poll showed on Tuesday.
The Kyiv International Institute of Sociology said its poll of 1,067 people on Ukrainian-held territory from May 16-22 found that 32 percent would agree to some form of territorial concessions, up from just 10 percent a year earlier and 19 percent at the end of last year.
It said 55 percent of Ukrainians remain opposed to making any territorial concessions.
Nearly 29 months since its full-scale invasion, Russia occupies around 18 percent of Ukrainian territory, including the Crimean peninsula it seized in 2014. Kyiv’s troops have been on the back foot this year facing a Russian offensive after their counteroffensive failed to make significant gains last year.
The survey did not ask those polled what territorial concessions they would be open to or how large they should be. KIIS said those polled did not necessarily see concessions as equating to recognizing the territory as Russian.
“For example, some people are ready to postpone the liberation of certain territories until the future at a better time,” KIIS said in a statement with its findings.
Russia in 2022 unilaterally declared it had annexed the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, which it partially controls.
In remarks published alongside the survey, KIIS’s executive director, Anton Hrushetskyi, said Ukrainians remained against the idea of reaching a peace settlement with Russia at any cost.
“It’s ... important that in the context of possible ‘concessions’, Ukrainians are against ‘peace on any terms’,” he said.


Digital Cooperation Organization calls for urgent talks on recent global IT outage implications

Digital Cooperation Organization calls for urgent talks on recent global IT outage implications
Updated 23 July 2024
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Digital Cooperation Organization calls for urgent talks on recent global IT outage implications

Digital Cooperation Organization calls for urgent talks on recent global IT outage implications
  • The DCO, which includes Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and 14 other states, is the world’s first standalone intergovernmental body on digital economy
  • The DCO secretariat states the high level of impact the world witnessed as a result of the outage is ‘alarming’ and requires ‘agile’ cooperation

RIYADH: The Digital Cooperation Organization’s (DCO) General Secretariat said in a statement that it will hold urgent discussions with its Member States and digital economy experts to address the implications of the global IT outage that disrupted vital operations around the world, affecting critical business sectors like aviation, banking, broadcast media, software providers, and more.
The DCO General Secretariat states that “the high level of impact the world witnessed as a result of the unfortunate outage is alarming and indicates the dire need for a more effective and agile international digital cooperation.” The incident raised questions on continuity and sustainability in a world rapidly moving toward being highly dependent on digital channels and platforms. It is very crucial that the international community develops proper policies and protocols to mitigate the risks of such incidents and ensure the continuity of essential operations.
To this end, the DCO General Secretariat has called for an urgent deliberation for its Member States and digital economy experts to capture the lessons learned from this incident, assess its impact on national digital transformation plans in Member States, and plan practical steps to ensure that relevant stakeholders across sectors are aligned and ready to deal with such mishaps.
The Digital Cooperation Organization is the world’s first standalone international intergovernmental organization focusing on the acceleration of the growth of an inclusive and sustainable digital economy. It is a global multilateral organization founded in November 2020 that aims to enable digital prosperity for all.
The 16 DCO Member States include the Kingdom of Bahrain, the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, the Republic of Cyprus, the Republic of Djibouti, the Republic of The Gambia, the Republic of Ghana, the Hellenic Republic (Greece), the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the State of Kuwait, the Kingdom of Morocco, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Sultanate of Oman, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the State of Qatar, the Republic of Rwanda, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia — collectively representing nearly $3.5 trillion in GDP and a market of nearly 800 million people, more than 70 percent of whom are under the age of 35.


US Secret Service chief resigns following Trump assassination attempt

US Secret Service chief resigns following Trump assassination attempt
Updated 23 July 2024
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US Secret Service chief resigns following Trump assassination attempt

US Secret Service chief resigns following Trump assassination attempt
  • Cheatle faced bipartisan condemnation when she appeared before the House of Representatives Oversight Committee on Monday
  • Several Republican and Democratic lawmakers called on her to resign

WASHINGTON: U.S. Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle resigned after the agency came under harsh scrutiny for its failure to stop a would-be assassin from wounding former President Donald Trump during a campaign rally, the White House said on Tuesday.
The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Secret Service, which is responsible for the protection of current and former U.S. presidents, faces a crisis after a gunman was able to fire on Trump from a roof overlooking the outdoor rally in Butler, Pennsylvania on July 13.
Cheatle faced bipartisan condemnation when she appeared before the House of Representatives Oversight Committee on Monday, declining to answer questions from frustrated lawmakers about the security plan for the rally and how law enforcement responded to the suspicious behavior of the gunman.
Several Republican and Democratic lawmakers called on her to resign.
Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, was grazed in the right ear and one rallygoer was killed in the gunfire. The gunman, identified as a 20-year-old Thomas Crooks, was shot and killed by s Secret Service sniper.
"While Director Cheatle’s resignation is a step toward accountability, we need a full review of how these security failures happened so that we can prevent them going forward," James Comer, the Republican chair of the House Oversight Committee, said in a statement. "We will continue our oversight of the Secret Service."
Cheatle, who has led the agency since 2022, told lawmakers she took responsibility for the shooting, calling it the largest failure by the Secret Service since then-President Ronald Reagan was shot in 1981.
The Secret Service faces investigations from multiple congressional committees and the internal watchdog of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, its parent organization, over its performance. President Joe Biden, who has ended his reelection campaign, has also called for an independent review.
Much of the criticism has focused on the failure to secure the roof of an industrial building where the gunman was perched about 150 yards (140 m) from the stage where Trump was speaking.
The rooftop was declared outside the Secret Service security perimeter for the event, a decision criticized by former agents and lawmakers.
Cheatle held a top security role at PepsiCo when Biden named her Secret Service director in 2022. She previously served 27 years in the agency.
She took over following a series of scandals involving the Secret Service that scarred the reputation of an elite and insular agency.
Ten Secret Service agents lost their jobs after revelations they brought women, some of them prostitutes, back to their hotel rooms ahead of a trip to Colombia by then-President Barack Obama in 2012.
The agency also faced allegations that it erased text messages from around the time of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Those messages were later sought by a congressional panel probing the riot.