One dead, 46 hurt in Venezuela May Day clashes


One dead, 46 hurt in Venezuela May Day clashes

Caracas: May Day clashes between opposition supporters and Venezuela’s armed forces in Caracas left a woman dead and 46 people injured on Wednesday, with opposition leader Juan Guaido attempting to rally demonstrators against President Nicolas Maduro. Jurubith Rausseo, 27, died at a clinic after being hit by a “bullet in the head during (a) demonstration,” the non-governmental Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict said on Twitter, condemning her “murder.”

Human rights organizations and health services reported 46 people injured in Wednesday’s clashes, including one person with a gunshot wound. Tensions in Venezuela have soared since Guaido, who heads the National Assembly legislature, invoked the constitution to declare himself acting president on January 23, claiming Maduro’s re-election last year was illegitimate.

National Guard troops fired tear gas at stone-throwing protesters attempting to block a highway close to the air base in eastern Caracas where Guaido had tried on Tuesday to spark a military uprising. A second day of confrontations between opposition supporters and Maduro’s security services came as the United States said it was prepared to take military action, if necessary, to stem the crisis in the South American nation.

Guaido rallied his supporters in Caracas in the Labor Day demonstrations, urging them to stay in the streets. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned Venezuela’s authorities not to use deadly force against demonstrators, while the US and Russia accused each other of making the crisis worse, evoking Cold War confrontations of the past. In box Maduro exhorts Venezuela military to fight ‘any coup plotter’

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday called on the armed forces to oppose “any coup plotter” after a failed military uprising by forces supporting opposition leader Juan Guaido. “Yes, we are in combat, keep morale high in this fight to disarm any traitor, any coup plotter,” Maduro said at a televised event with the military high command in which he appeared surrounded by soldiers.




Human impact on droughts dates back to 20th Century


Human impact on droughts dates back to 20th Century

Washington: A new study has claimed that greenhouse gases and atmospheric particles generated by human beings were affecting the worldwide drought risk as far back as the early 20th century. The study compared predicted and real-world soil moisture data to look for human influences on global drought patterns in the 20th century. Climate models predicted that a human ‘fingerprint’ —a global pattern of regional drying and wetting characteristic of the climate response to greenhouse gases — should be visible early in the 1900s and increase over time as emissions increased.

Using observational data such as precipitation and historical data reconstructed from tree rings, the researchers found that the real-world data began to align with the fingerprint within the first half of the 20th  century. The team said the study is the first to provide historical evidence connecting human-generated emissions and drought at near-global scales, lending credibility to forward-looking models that predict such a connection.

According to the research, the fingerprint is likely to grow stronger over the next few decades, potentially leading to severe human consequences. The study’s key drought indicator was the Palmer Drought Severity Index or PDSI. The PDSI provides researchers with average soil moisture over long periods of time, making it especially useful for research on climate change in the past. “We were pretty surprised that you can see this human fingerprint, this human climate change signal, emerge in the first half of the 20th century,” said Ben Cook, who co-led the study with Marvel. The story changed briefly between 1950 and 1975, as the atmosphere became cooler and wetter. —ANI




Press freedom under serious threat from governments worldwide: IPI


Press freedom under serious threat from governments worldwide: IPI

Governments across the world are increasingly clamping down on press freedom by enacting new laws, according to a global network of journalists. Vienna-based International Press Institute (IPI) said in its latest report that as many as 55 journalists were killed since May last year.

In Bangladesh, journalists face up to life imprisonment for violating the country's new Digital Security Act, it said in a statement on Tuesday.

With 139 journalists in prison including IPI Executive Board member Kadri Gursel, Turkey remains the world's top jailer of journalists, the IPI said.

In Pakistan, where critical media is subject to vicious smear campaigns, the government has stopped state advertising in the influential daily Dawn and targeted individual journalists such as Cyril Almeida, who faces treason charges for his coverage of militancy, it said.

In the US, the Department of Justice is contemplating changes in the guidelines to make it easier for prosecutors to obtain journalists' records, while the US' criminal indictment against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has raised concerns around broader implications for press freedom, the IPI said.

In the UK, journalists have opposed government's move to enact new legislation that will allow police to access their data, it said.

IPI Executive Director Barbara Trionfi, on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day 2019, said: "Press freedom globally is under intense and growing pressure, as illiberal-minded governments seek to shut down critical voices and, in many cases, deliberately erode the credibility of independent media".

"We are witnessing a dangerous combination of tried-and-true methods of attacking the press - including arbitrary jailings and physical attacks that end in impunity - as well as a new wave of rhetoric and smear campaigns to portray the media and journalism as an enemy of the people so as to undercut the press' watchdog role," she said.

While on the one hand governments are attempting to curtail press freedom, on the other journalists around the world are being killed with impunity, the IPI added.

(This story has not been edited by The News India staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)




Social media ban lifted in Sri Lanka


Social media ban lifted in Sri Lanka

Colombo  : Issuing a media release the Department of Government Information notes that President Maithripala Sirisena has informed the Director General of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka to lift the temporary ban that was imposed on social media platforms and messaging apps.

The temporary ban came into effect following last Sunday’s deadly Easter bombings.

In the press release the Director General of Government Information, Nalaka Kaluwewa calls on the general public to act with responsibility, now that the temporary ban on Social media has been lifted.




Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi seen in new video for first time in five years


Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi seen in new video for first time in five years

Media Report

For the first time in five years, ISIS has released what it says is a new video message from its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In the video, a man purporting to be Baghdadi appeared to be wearing a casual outfit, sitting on the ground next to an assault rifle. He said the "battle for Baghouz is over," referencing the last town held by ISIS in eastern Syria.

Baghouz was liberated from the terror group in late March, marking the collapse of the group's so-called Caliphate. In the video, the man praised recent bombings in Sri Lanka, which killed more than 250 people and wounded at least 500 on April 21. He also referenced recent political events, including Benjamin Netanyahu's election victory in Israel, the resignation of Algeria's president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, and the fall of Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir.

The video was published by ISIS media wing al-Furqan on Monday. If authentic, it would be the first time that Baghdadi has been seen since July 2014, when he spoke at the Great Mosque in Mosul. ISIS, also sometimes referred to as Daesh, has since released various audio messages that it claims are from Baghdadi -- most recently, one in August 2018 where the man on the recording admitted that ISIS groups were losing, as ISIS lost its grasp on territory in Syria.

A spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting ISIS told CNN that the US was working to gauge the authenticity of today's video.
"At this time, we are working to independently corroborate the validity of the video posted today reportedly showing Abu Bakr al Baghdadi," Col. Scott Rawlinson said.




Indonesia floods kill at least 19


Indonesia floods kill at least 19

JAKARTA :  Indonesia — Indonesia’s disaster agency says floods and landslides from torrential rains have killed at least 19 people and displaced thousands in the past few days. The agency said Sunday that 17 people have died in Bengkulu province on Sumatra, adding to two deaths from flooding in parts of the capital Jakarta.

It said nine people are missing in Bengkulu and more than 12,000 have fled their inundated homes. The agency said distribution of aid has been hampered by power cuts, inaccessible roads and large distances between various disaster hit areas.




Sri Lanka serial blasts: Two bombers were sons of prominent business tycoon


Sri Lanka serial blasts: Two bombers were sons of prominent business tycoon

Colombo [Sri Lanka]: Two of the nine suicide bombers involved in the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka were members of a prominent family in Colombo, sources have told CNN. The brothers, identified as Imsath Ahmed Ibrahim and Ilham Ahmed Ibrahim, were sons of spice merchant Mohamed Ibrahim.

Ibrahim, the founder of Colombo-based Ishana Exports, was among one of the dozen people detained in the wake of the attacks. Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan government late on Wednesday reimposed a curfew till Thursday morning in the wake of the devastating blasts which have caused multiple casualties in the island nation, a police spokesperson said.

The curfew was imposed from 10 p.m. local time (12.30 p.m. ET) on Wednesday until 4 a.m. Thursday morning, Eight explosions rattled various suburbs in the Sri Lankan cities of Colombo, Negombo, Kochchikade and Batticaloa as the Christian community celebrated Easter Sunday on April 21. Over 350 people have lost their lives until now, as more than 560 people have been injured. Out of the deceased, around 39 people have been identified as foreigners, reported CNN.

Sri Lanka serial blasts: One of nine bombers was a woman, says Sri Lanka’s deputy defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene
On Wednesday, Sri Lanka’s State Defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene told reporters that the culprits of the Easter attacks were well educated, belonged to the upper-middle-class families, and financially independent. “That was a worrying factor,” he added. Meanwhile, British security sources have identified another bomber as Abdul Lathief Jameel Mohamed, who is said to have been studied in the southeast of England from 2006 to 2007, and was a postgraduate student in Australia before returning to Sri Lanka.

In addition, Sri Lankan authorities claim that Shiral Lakthilaka, an adviser to the President, has been identified as one of the accused. Lakthilaka, who blew himself up at the Shangri-La hotel as Inshan Seelavan, has been described as the “mastermind” of the attacks. Amid intense criticisms raised over the Sri Lankan government for its inaction against curbing the massacre, President Maithripala Sirisena on Wednesday planned to change his Defence Minister and the Inspector General of Police over allegations of mishandling the prior warnings of the attacks.

Most of those killed and wounded were Sri Lankans, including 39 foreigners and 10 Indian. The others included British, American, Australian, Turkish, Indian, Chinese, Danish, Dutch and Portuguese nationals. The United Nations Children’s Fund noted that there were 45 children among the dead.




Sri Lanka admits ‘major’ intelligence lapses; President asks Defence Secretary, top cop to resign


Sri Lanka admits ‘major’ intelligence lapses; President asks Defence Secretary, top cop to resign

Colombo: Sri Lankan govt on Wednesday admitted “major” intelligence lapses led to the horrific Easter Sunday blasts and asked two top security officials to resign, even as the death toll in the coordinated attacks rose to 359 amidst a nationwide manhunt to nab the perpetrators. Nine Suicide bombers, believed to be members of local Islamist extremist group called National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ), carried out a series of devastating blasts that tore through three churches and three luxury hotels.

President Maithripala Sirisena has asked Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundara to quit after their failure to prevent the blasts despite having prior intelligence. Sirisena on Tuesday night pledged he will make changes in top positions in the security establishment within the next 24 hours, saying the people were questioning why action had not been taken by the top security officials despite the availability of intelligence support from a friendly neighbouring country.

Meanwhile, several people succumbed, taking the toll to 359. “The number of death now is 359,” police spokes­man Ruwan Guanse­kera said. He said the search operations were being carried out and so far 60 people, all Sri Lankan nationals, have been arrested in connection with the attacks. Most arrested people have suspected links to the NTJ, the group blamed for the bombings. However, the NTJ has not claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks and identified the seven suicide bombers who carried out the devastating blasts. Guansekera said there were nine suicide bom­b­ers, including a woman involved in the bombings. “Eight of them have been identified,” he added. Top officials have acknowledged Sri Lanka received intelligence about possible terror strikes ahead of the attacks, but both President Sirisena and PM Ranil Wickremesinghe have said they did not receive the information. State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene acknowledged there had been “major” lapses in the security arrangements.

“We (the govt) have to take the responsibility,” he said. “Some (the attackers), in earlier incidents, had been taken into custody (after) small skirmishes, but nothing of this magnitude,” Wijewardene told reporters. Wijewardena said the multiple bomb attacks were carried out by a splinter group of the NTJ. The group had differences and the final attack was carried out by a group that left the main NTJ, he added. Local and international media reported India and the US provided specific warnings about terror attacks to Lanka, ahead of the Easter Sunday bombings. However, US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina Teplitz said, “We had no prior knowledge of these attacks.”

Meanwhile, police said as many as 34 foreign nationals who lost their lives have been identified. Of them, 10 are from India, three from Denmark, one each from Japan, the Netherlands, Portugal, Bangladesh, Spain, two each from China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, six from the UK, two holding the US and the UK nationalities and two holding Australian and Sri Lankan nationalities, officials said. The mortal remains of nine out of 10 Indians have been sent to India, according to the Indian High Commission in Colombo. The police on Wednesday carried out a controlled explosion of a motorcycle parked under suspicious circumstances near a cinema hall in South Colombo.

At a Glance

The terror attacks at the Cinnamon Grand and Shangri La Hotels were carried out by two brothers.
The Cinnamon Grand Hotel bomber had booked himself into the hotel on the previous night. CCTV footages have shown his breakfast table where he was seen consum­ing pieces of fruit and taking a walk around the restaurant before exploding himself.
Their younger brother has also been nabbed. The house search had led to the discovery of extremist literature, a computer hard disk and SIM cards, thought to have been used to coordinate the blasts.
Police have already nabbed the accomplices of the bomber of the lodging house near the National Zoo at Dehiwela, a Colombo suburb.
The taxi driver who had taken him to the lodge was also arrested. Police suspected the bomber may have been targeting the nearby St Mary’s Church where a large gathering was present.
However, the presence of police at the church, who were there due to a previous break into the church by thieves, had prevented the bomber’s entry into the church, officials said.




Israel to name Golan Heights town after Donald Trump


Israel to name Golan Heights town after Donald Trump

Jerusalem: Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said he intends to name a new settlement in the Golan Heights after US President Donald Trump to honour his recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the strategic plateau.Netanyahu, who is on a trip to the region with his family for the week-long Jewish Passover holiday, said on Tuesday there was a “need to express our appreciation” to the President, the BBC reported. “All Israelis were deeply moved when President Trump made his historic decision to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.




Two teens held after killing of Northern Irish journalist


Two teens held after killing of Northern Irish journalist

London: Two teenage men have been arrested after the shooting dead of a journalist in Northern Ireland, police said Saturday. The 18 and 19-year-olds were arrested in Londonderry under anti-terror laws and taken to Belfast for questioning, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said. Journalist Lyra McKee was shot in the head late Thursday in Derry by, police believe, dissident republicans linked to the New IRA paramilitary group as they clashed with police on the Creggan estate in Northern Ireland’s second city.

Tributes to the 29-year-old were led by her partner, Sara Canning, who said McKee’s “amazing potential was snuffed out by this single barbaric act”. Detectives hunting the gunman had released footage of the unrest, hoping that the community would help trace her killers. Belfast-born McKee, 29, had posted an image from the riots, accompanied by the words “Derry tonight. Absolute madness”.




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