More than 80 passengers killed in the latest boat accident in Congo

More than 80 passengers killed in the latest boat accident in Congo
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Updated 12 June 2024
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More than 80 passengers killed in the latest boat accident in Congo

More than 80 passengers killed in the latest boat accident in Congo

KINSHASA, Congo: A boat carrying more than 270 passengers has capsized on a river near Congo’s capital of Kinshasa, leaving more than 80 dead, President Félix Tshisekedi said Wednesday.

It was the latest deadly boat accident in the central African country where overloading is often blamed, including in February when dozens lost their lives after an overloaded boat sank.
A statement quoting Tshisekedi said the locally made boat capsized late Monday in Maï-Ndombe province along the Kwa River.
The boat was carrying 271 passengers to Kinshasa when it broke down due to an engine failure, according to the UN-backed Radio Okapi, citing Ren Maker, the water commissioner in the Mushi district where the accident happened.
Eighty-six of the passengers died while 185 managed to swim ashore, some 70 kilometers (43 miles) near the closest city of Mushie, Maker said.
He said the boat hit the edge of the river bank and broke up.
Congolese officials have often warned against overloading and vowed to punish those violating safety measures for water transportation. But in remote areas where most passengers come from, many are unable to afford public transport for the few available roads.
 

 

 


Crashed Japan navy choppers found on seabed

Crashed Japan navy choppers found on seabed
Updated 23 July 2024
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Crashed Japan navy choppers found on seabed

Crashed Japan navy choppers found on seabed

TOKYO:  Japan’s navy has located on the seabed the wreckage of two helicopters that crashed more than three months ago, killing eight crew members.

The SH-60K helicopters, each crewed by four people, were conducting submarine location drills off the Izu Islands in the Pacific Ocean in April when they collided.

To date, only one body has been found while the other seven were declared dead in June by the Maritime Self-Defense Forces after a fruitless search operation.

A deep-sea probe by a national research institute that began this month led to the discovery of the two aircraft “on the seabed near the site of the crash,” according to a navy statement released Monday.

“The seabed investigation is continuing, and we are assessing whether pulling up the bodies of the aircraft will be possible,” it said.

While cognizant of the proximity to each other, the two helicopters “never attempted to avoid each other until the moment of the collision,” suggesting lapses in standard lookout practices, a defense ministry report said earlier this month.

The report also concluded altitude control of the aircraft was “insufficient.”

In April 2023, a Japanese army UH-60JA helicopter with 10 people on board crashed off Miyako island in southern Okinawa. There were no survivors.


India’s Modi faces delicate balancing act in post-election budget

India’s Modi faces delicate balancing act in post-election budget
Updated 23 July 2024
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India’s Modi faces delicate balancing act in post-election budget

India’s Modi faces delicate balancing act in post-election budget

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first post-election budget on Tuesday will seek to lay out an economic vision that balances fiscal prudence with the expectations of disgruntled voters and the demands of his coalition partners.

“This budget will decide the direction of our work for the next five years and this will lay the foundation of fulfilling our objective to make India a developed country by 2047,” Modi said on Monday ahead of the budget, due to be presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) failed to secure a majority in the election last month, making it dependant on allies to form a government for the first time since he came to power more than a decade ago.

The budget is expected to cut taxes for the middle class, provide relief for distressed rural areas and heed the demands of two key coalition partners — Andhra Pradesh’s Telugu Desam Party and Bihar’s Janata Dal (United) — for billions of dollars in additional funding for their regions.

“Weaker political capital, uneven growth story with tepid consumption, and missing vigour in private capex and the rural sector form the backdrop of the upcoming Budget,” Madhavi Arora, an economist at Emkay, said.

The government will also look to keep at bay a resurgent opposition which has criticized the Modi government for a lack o f jobs, high cost of living and growing income inequality.

According to a report by World Inequality Lab, wealth concentrated in the richest 1 percent of India’s population is at its highest in six decades, while youth unemployment stands at over 17 percent according to government estimates.

INFRASTRUCTURE SPENDING

A government report published on Monday forecast economic growth of between 6.5 percent and 7 percent for the current fiscal year, slightly below consensus analysts’ estimates.

The government does, however, have enough cover from the central bank to ensure it stays on course to narrow the budget gap and finance its infrastructure projects.

In May, the Reserve Bank of India transferred a $25 billion surplus transfer to the government that will help it cover tax cuts, help for rural areas and coalition partners’ demands for regional funding.

Over the last three years, the government nearly doubled spending on long-term infrastructure projects as a way to push growth and generate jobs and plans to spend 11 trillion rupees ($131.51 billion) on such projects this year.

Some economists expect the budget could include improvements to an incentive scheme for domestic and foreign companies to boost manufacturing in India in 14 sectors including electronics, semiconductors and pharmaceuticals.

On Monday, the government’s economic survey warned of rising risks from a surging equity market, which is also drawing retail investors into risky derivatives trading.

To discourage such risky investments, economists say the budget could include measures such as an increase in capital gains tax on equity investments held long-term. However, such a move could be a major dampener for Indian equities and hit the stock market, according to Morgan Stanley.

Any hike in transaction tax on derivatives would also be a negative surprise, Jefferies said.

Finance Minister Sitharaman is due to present the budget from 0530 GMT.


US ambassador to UN visits Haiti, announces new aid

US ambassador to UN visits Haiti, announces new aid
Updated 23 July 2024
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US ambassador to UN visits Haiti, announces new aid

US ambassador to UN visits Haiti, announces new aid

PORT-AU-PRINCE: The US ambassador to the United Nations visited crisis-wracked Haiti on Monday, where she announced $60 million in additional humanitarian aid and received updates on the Kenya-led security support mission.

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield held talks with the country’s transitional presidential council and new Prime Minister Garry Conille during the day-long trip.

“Haitians deserve free and fair elections and a government that is truly accountable to the people,” she said during a press conference.

The ambassador also announced $60 million was being provided via USAID to contribute “significant US funding for additional security assets and humanitarian assistance for Haiti,” according to a news release.

The funds will go toward food, water, shelter and other essential needs, and comes on top of $105 million the United States had previously committed to Haiti.

Thomas-Greenfield’s visit comes just days after recently deployed Kenyan police started patrolling parts of the capital Port-au-Prince.

Kenya is deploying hundreds of police officers as part of an international force to help Haiti tackle its soaring insecurity.

The country has long been rocked by gang violence, but conditions sharply worsened at the end of February when armed groups launched coordinated attacks in Port-au-Prince, saying they wanted to overthrow then-prime minister Ariel Henry.

Unelected and unpopular, Henry stepped down in April, handing over control to the transitional government, tasked with leading the country toward its first elections since 2016.

Conille last week announced emergency measures to combat unrest in 14 communes reeling under the control of gangs.

The UN-approved, Kenya-led mission, with an initial duration of one year, will total 2,500 personnel from countries that also include Bangladesh, Benin, Chad, the Bahamas and Barbados.

The United States has ruled out sending forces, but is contributing funding and logistical support to the mission, including a “significant number” of armored vehicles.

The violence in Port-au-Prince has affected food security and humanitarian aid access, with much of the city in the hands of gangs accused of abuses including murder, rape, looting and kidnappings.


Kamala Harris lashes out at Trump as Democrats unite

Kamala Harris lashes out at Trump as Democrats unite
Updated 23 July 2024
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Kamala Harris lashes out at Trump as Democrats unite

Kamala Harris lashes out at Trump as Democrats unite
  • "Cheaters who broke the rules for their own gain. So hear me when I say I know Donald Trump’s type”

WASHINGTON: US Vice President Kamala Harris launched her election campaign Monday with a blistering personal attack on Donald Trump and vowed to win in November despite the “rollercoaster” of President Joe Biden’s shock exit.
As she closed in on the Democratic party’s nomination with the support of a slew of heavyweights and massive voter donations, Harris lashed out at Trump in her first speech to campaign workers since Biden’s announcement Sunday.
Biden, 81, meanwhile made his first public remarks for nearly a week as he recovers from a bout of Covid.
He called in to the campaign meeting to say that dropping out — after mounting party and voter concerns over his health and mental acuity — had been the “right thing to do” and he praised Harris as “the best.”
“We are going to win in November,” a smiling Harris told campaign workers in her fiery speech at campaign headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware.
She said she had gone to the Wilmington office to address them personally after the “rollercoaster” of the last few days.
Turning her fire on Trump, Harris referred to her past role as California’s chief prosecutor, saying she “took on perpetrators of all kinds.”
“Predators who abused women. Fraudsters who ripped off consumers. Cheaters who broke the rules for their own gain. So hear me when I say I know Donald Trump’s type,” she said to applause.
Harris also pledged to focus on the politically explosive issue of abortion, after Trump praised the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn the long-held federal right to the procedure.

Biden dropped out on Sunday and endorsed Harris after three weeks of intensifying pressure, triggered by a disastrous debate performance against Trump.
Aiming to become the first woman president in US history, the 59-year-old Harris won the backing of a seemingly unassailable number of Democrats.
Notably among them was powerful former US House speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said she endorsed Harris “with immense pride and limitless optimism.”
The major AFL-CIO union federation also gave its formal endorsement on Monday.
Donors have rallied behind Harris, pouring a record $81 million into her campaign in the 24 hours after Biden stood aside.
The campaign claimed the haul was the largest one-day sum in presidential history — and that, among the 888,000 grassroots donors, some 60 percent were making their first 2024 contribution.
In his comments, Biden pledged to keep working on key topics, including ending the war in Gaza.
Addressing Harris, he added: “I’m watching you kid. I love you.”
An aide to Harris later said she would meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week during his Washington visit — separate from Biden’s own planned sit-down.
Harris will not attend Netanyahu’s address to Congress, the aide said, due to a previously scheduled event.
In a strikingly symbolic moment on Monday morning, Harris hosted a ceremony for college athletes at the White House while Biden remained stuck in isolation with Covid at his Delaware beach house.
Biden’s symptoms “have almost resolved completely,” his doctor said Monday, though the White House has not yet announced any events on his schedule this week.

Biden’s stunning withdrawal has completely upended the 2024 race, transforming a long slog between two unpopular elderly men into one of the most compelling races in modern US history.
The move has jolted a demoralized party that Harris could now unify, and could give America its first female president.
It has also hit Republicans hard, with former president Trump, 78 — now the oldest presidential nominee in US history — having to completely retool a strategy that had been built around attacking Biden over his age and physical frailty.
Harris’s entry not only flips the age issue, but puts Trump — a convicted felon also found liable of sexual assault — up against a woman and former prosecutor.
And Trump has seemingly found it hard to move on from Biden.
He launched a series of invective-filled social media posts after Biden quit, mocking the president’s age and saying he and Harris posed a “threat to democracy.”
Trump’s running mate J.D. Vance echoed that line of attack at a rally in Ohio Monday, telling supporters that Harris had the momentum because “elite Democrats got in a smoke-filled room and decided to throw Joe Biden overboard.”
“That is not how it works. That is a threat to democracy,” he said.

 


Harris to meet Netanyahu during Washington visit: VP aide

Harris to meet Netanyahu during Washington visit: VP aide
Updated 23 July 2024
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Harris to meet Netanyahu during Washington visit: VP aide

Harris to meet Netanyahu during Washington visit: VP aide

WASHINGTON: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with US Vice President Kamala Harris this week during his visit to Washington, an aide to Harris told AFP on Monday.

The White House meeting will be separate from President Joe Biden’s planned sit-down with Netanyahu, the aide said, and comes after Harris looks set to replace Biden atop the Democratic ticket following his shock end to his reelection bid.