16 bodies found after attack in Indonesia’s Papua

16 bodies found after attack in Indonesia’s Papua

Wamena (Indonesia): Indonesian security forces have retrieved the bodies of 16 people in the aftermath of a massacre by suspected separatist rebels in restive Papua province, the military said on Thursday.

The confirmed deaths, believed to be of construction workers, mark the deadliest bout of violence in years to hit a region wracked by a low-level independence insurgency. The bodies will be evacuated to the town of Timika from the remote district of Nduga, a mountainous region where the attack happened Sunday, local military commander Binsar Panjaitan said. “The latest information is that 16 bodies have been found,” Panjaitan told reporters in Papua.

The dead had not been identified and the military did not supply details about how they were killed. An earlier eyewitness account supplied by the military detailed the killing of at least 19 people, including in execution style shootings or having their throat slit. Previous local media reports put the number of dead between 24 and 31. On Thursday, the military warned that it was not yet clear whether all the dead worked for a state-owned contractor that has been building bridges and roads as part of efforts to boost infrastructure in the impoverished region.

Another 15 people — including seven employees of the contractor — have been evacuated from the area. Many in Papua view Indonesia as a colonial occupier and its building work as a way to exert more control over a region that shares a border with Papua New Guinea, an independent nation. Police and military teams sent to the area have come under rebel gunfire with one soldier killed and two wounded since Monday, according to authorities.

On Wednesday, the military supplied an account from one survivor identified by his initials “JA” who claimed about 50 rebels entered the workers’ camp on Saturday and led them away with their hands tied behind their backs. The following day, the rebels shot dead a group of workers, while some tried to escape, the account said. The attackers allegedly recaptured six workers and slit their throats, according to the uninjured witness, who said at least 19 employees had been killed in all.

A Facebook account purportedly run by the National Liberation Army of West Papua (TPNPB) said the armed group had killed 24 workers on the orders of regional commander Ekianus Kogoya. Indonesia routinely blames separatists for violence in Papua and foreign media need permission to report there, making it difficult to obtain reliable information. Papua declared itself an independent nation from the Dutch in 1961, but neighbouring Indonesia took control of the resource-rich region two years later on the condition it hold an independence referendum. It officially annexed Papua in 1969 with a UN-backed vote, widely seen as a sham.


US woman sues Hilton Worldwide for USD 100 million over nude shower video

US woman sues Hilton Worldwide for USD 100 million over nude shower video

New York: A Chicago woman is suing Hilton Worldwide for $100 million saying that she was filmed naked in the shower by a hidden camera while a hotel guest — in footage uploaded with her name onto multiple porn sites. The unnamed plaintiff sued the hotel giant for negligence citing “severe and permanent psychological injuries,” “severe mental anguish, emotional distress and other damages” such as medical expenses and loss of earnings.

The woman was a guest at a Hampton Inn and Suites hotel in Albany, the capital of New York state, in July 2015 while taking a bar exam after graduating from law school. She was recorded, fully nude, while taking a shower by a hidden video camera, the 19-page lawsuit claims. But she was blissfully ignorant until September 2018, more than three years later, when she received an email saying “this is you right?” with a link to the video on a porn site published with her full name.

The same person, claiming “I’m a perv,” then sent multiple threatening emails, professing to know where she went to university and where she worked. When the threats went unheeded, the video appeared on a string of other porn sites. Colleagues, friends and former classmates received a new version of the video, sent from a fake email address set up in her name. The extortionist then demanded an immediate hush payment of $2,000 followed by $1,000 a month for a year, the lawsuit claims, also alleging that other people were recorded in the same room at the same Hampton Inn.

“We take the safety and wellbeing of our guests incredibly seriously, and find the details included in the civil filing distressing,” said a spokesperson for Hilton, the parent company of Hampton Inn. “We commit to supporting the independent ownership and management of the property as they investigate, respond and cooperate with any law enforcement investigations,” the statement added.

A spokesperson for the Hampton Inn in question said they were “shocked and stunned to learn of the allegations” late Monday, saying that no recording devices “of any kind” had been discovered at the property. “The safety and security of our guests is our highest priority, and we emphatically do not condone any form of this type of invasion of privacy,” the property said in a statement. “Recently, the hotel underwent a complete renovation. During that process, no recording devices of any kind were uncovered,” it added, promising to work with authorities to find and hold accountable the perpetrator.


First baby born via uterus transplanted from dead donor

First baby born via uterus transplanted from dead donor

Paris: In a medical first, a mother who received a uterus transplant from a dead donor gave birth to a healthy baby, researchers reported on Wednesday. The breakthrough operation, performed two years ago in Brazil, shows that such transplants are feasible and could help thousands of women unable to have children due to uterine problems, according to a study published in The Lancet medical journal.

The baby girl was born in September 2016 in Sao Paolo. Until recently, the only options available to women with so-called uterine infertility were adoption or the services of a surrogate mother. The first successful childbirth following uterine transplant from a living donor took place in 2013 in Sweden, and there have been 10 others since then. But there are far more women in need of transplants than there are potential live donors, so doctors wanted to find out if the procedure could work using the uterus of a woman who had died.

Ten attempts were made — in the United States, the Czech Republic, and Turkey — before the success reported Wednesday. Infertility affects 10- to 15 per cent of couples. Of this group, one in 500 women have problems with their uterus — due, for example, to a malformation, hysterectomy, or infection — that prevent them from becoming pregnant and carrying a child to term. “Our results provide a proof-of-concept for a new option for women with uterine infertility,” said Dani Ejzenberg, a doctor at the teaching hospital of the University of Sao Paulo.

He describing the procedure as a “medical milestone”. “The number of people willing and committed to donate organs upon their own death are far larger than those of live donors, offering a much wider potential donor population,” he said in a statement. The 32-year-old recipient was born without a uterus as a result of a rare syndrome. Four months before the transplant, she had in-vitro fertilisation resulting in eight fertilised eggs, which were preserved through freezing.

The donor was a 45-year-old woman who died from a stroke. Her uterus was removed and transplanted in surgery that lasted more than ten hours. The surgical team had to connect the donor’s uterus with the veins, arteries, ligaments, and vaginal canal of the recipient. To prevent her body from rejecting the new organ, the woman was given five different drugs, along with antimicrobials, anti-blood clotting treatments, and aspirin.

After five months, the uterus showed no sign of rejection, ultrasound scans were normal, and the woman was menstruating regularly. The fertilised eggs were implanted after seven months. Ten days later, doctors delivered the good news: she was pregnant. Besides a minor kidney infection —  treated with antibiotics — during the 32nd week, the pregnancy was normal. After nearly 36 weeks a baby girl weighing 2.5 kilogrammes (about six pounds) was delivered via caesarean section.

Mother and baby left the hospital three days later. The transplanted uterus was removed during the C-section, allowing the woman to stop taking the immunosuppressive drugs. At age seven months and 12 days — when the manuscript reporting the findings was submitted for publication — the baby was breastfeeding and weighed 7.2 kilogrammes.

“We must congratulate the authors,” commented Dr. Srdjan Saso, an honorary clinical lecturer in obstetrics and gynaecology at Imperial College London, describing the findings as “extremely exciting”. Richard Kennedy, president of the International Federation of Fertility Societies, also welcomed the announcement but sounded a note of caution. “Uterine transplant is a novel technique and should be regarded as experimental,” he said.

Australia: Man arrested in wife missing case of 1982

Australia: Man arrested in wife missing case of 1982

Canberra: Australian police have arrested the husband of a Sydney woman whose disappearance in 1982 has become the subject of a popular crime podcast. Chris Dawson, 70, is to be charged with murdering Lynette Dawson, New South Wales (NSW) authorities said. He was arrested in Queensland and  would be brought to New South Wales.

Dawson has denied killing his wife, with whom he has two children. He has said that she abandoned the family for a religious group, the BBC reported. A search of the family’s former home in Sydney earlier in 2018 failed to turn up new evidence. However, police on Wednesday said the arrest followed three years of renewed investigations. “We are confident with the case,” Superintendent Scott Cook told reporters. “We won’t give up on trying to identify the whereabouts of Lynette Dawson, but, from our perspective, it is not crucial to finalising the matter.”

Two separate inquests have recommended for murder charges to be laid against a “known person”. However, prosecutors have previously said there was insufficient evidence to lay charges. No trace of Lynette Dawson has ever been found. An inquest in 2003 found that Chris Dawson, a former high school teacher and rugby league star, had engaged in sexual relationships with teenage students during his marriage.

One 16-year-old girl moved in to the family home within days of his wife’s disappearance. The pair later married, but have since separated. A podcast “The Teacher’s Pet” brought global attention to the case in 2018. Since May, more than 27 million people have listened to the podcast, which is produced by The Australian newspaper. It has highlighted the bungled handling of the Dawson case by police in the early years after her disappearance, prompting an apology so many years later from the state’s police commissioner.

UK: Indian-origin gay pharmacist guilty of strangling wife to death with plastic bag

UK: Indian-origin gay pharmacist guilty of strangling wife to death with plastic bag

London: The husband of a 34-year-old Indian-origin pharmacist found dead in her home in Middlesborough, northern England, earlier this year has been found guilty of her murder on Tuesday. Mitesh Patel, 37, had denied killing his wife Jessica, whose body was found at their home in May.

His murder trial at Teesside Crown Court opened last month and on Tuesday a jury found him guilty of strangling his wife to death with a supermarket plastic bag so he could start a new life with his boyfriend whom he met on the gay dating app Grindr.

Justice James Goss told the jury a life sentence was mandatory and he would determine Patel’s minimum term behind bars during a sentencing hearing on Wednesday. The court was told how the accused had planned to claim a GBP 2-million life insurance payout and move to Australia with lover Dr Amit Patel, described as his “soulmate”.

The jury heard the cheating husband met other men on Grindr and had made internet searches dating back years, including “I need to kill my wife”, “insulin overdose”, “plot to kill my wife, do I need a co-conspirator?”, “hiring hitman UK” and “how much methadone will kill you?”.

In July 2015, he told his Sydney-based lover Amit: “Her days are marked.” Mitesh Patel had insisted he was innocent and claimed he had returned home to find the couple’s house burgled and his wife’s wrists bound with duct tape. But prosecutors presented evidence to the jury to show it was Patel himself who had tied her up after injecting her with insulin and strangling and suffocating her with a Tesco supermarket bag.

Jessica Patel’s family made a statement at the end of the trial, saying they were “devastated” by her death. The statement said “She had simple dreams, all she ever wanted was to fall in love, have a family of her own and live happily ever after. “The man we welcomed into our family, who promised to look after and protect her, betrayed her in every sense of the word, cheating her of her dreams, robbing her of her life and robbing us of her.”

The court heard that Mitesh Patel regularly chatted to men on Grindr under the pseudonym “Prince”, using the gay dating app daily in front of employees at the pharmacy he ran with his wife. The jury was told that his gay double life became the pharmacy’s “worst kept secret”.

At the start of the trial, Justice Goss had said that it was agreed that the accused had been unfaithful to his wife with men, having used the dating app Grindr. He had therefore ruled out any jury member who had used the same dating app or visited the Patels’ pharmacy in Linthorpe since 2011 to be included for the trial to ensure impartiality.

On Tuesday, the jury of six men and six women took three hours of deliberation to give their guilty verdict. Jessica Patel was found at her home on The Avenue in Linthorpe suburb of Middlesborough with “serious injuries” and pronounced dead at the scene.

The victim, also known as Jess, ran the local chemist’s shop on Roman Road in Middlesborough with her husband, whom she met while studying at university in Manchester. The couple’s home is close to their pharmacy, which they ran for around three years. Both the home and work premises were the focus of intense police searches in the days after the murder on May 14.

George W Bush to eulogise his late father at funeral

George W Bush to eulogise his late father at funeral

Washington: Former US President George W. Bush is set to eulogise his late father, George H.W. Bush, at the Washington National Cathedral on Wednesday, the most high-profile event in a week of proceedings that will remember the remarkable life of the former leader who died last week. George H.W. Bush will also be eulogised by former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, former US Senator and close friend Alan Simpson and historian Jon Meacham, the late President’s biographer.

President Donald Trump will not speak at the funeral, informed sources told CNN on Monday, but has said that he will attend a memorial later on Wednesday. Despite the fact that Trump’s rise to power included lambasting former Presidents, including both Bushes, the President has responded to Bush Sr’s death with repeated laudatory comments. Trump will pay a condolence call to the Bush family on Tuesday at Blair House, according to the sources, a government house across the street from the White House. Besides Trump, all other living Presidents — Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter — are expected to attend the funeral.

The casket bearing the late leader’s remains arrived at the Capitol on Monday shortly after being transported to Andrews Air Base on the outskirts of Washington. Bush will lie in state until Wednesday morning when his casket will then be transported to the National Cathedral for the first of two funeral services. The German government press service announced on Monday that Chancellor Angela Merkel will fly to Washington D.C., to take part in the memorial service for the late President, who oversaw the end of the Cold War and the reunification of Germany.

On Thursday, Bush’s casket will travel back to Houston, where he will be memorialised at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church and eulogised by his grandson, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, and former Secretary of State James Baker, a man who has been by Bush Sr’s side since he failed 1970 Senate campaign in Texas. The former President passed away in Houston on the night of November 30 at the age of 94. The patriarch of the Bush family served as a fighter pilot during World War II, later being elected to Congress, serving as UN Ambassador, CIA Director, Vice President under Ronald Reagan between 1981 and 1989 and finally being elected President and serving for one term from 1989-1993 during which time he presided over the end of the Cold War and launched the Gulf War to drive invading Iraqi forces out of Kuwait.

COP24 conference: World Bank pledges USD 200 billion to combat climate change

COP24 conference: World Bank pledges USD 200 billion to combat climate change

Katowice, Poland: The World Bank on Monday pledged to commit as much as USD 200 billion from 2021 to 2025 towards fighting the threat of climate change during the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP 24) summit here. Addressing the event, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim highlighted the plight of the world’s smallest and financially weak countries in the face of climate change, saying that they will bear the brunt of the impacts from climate change, CNN reported.

He further called upon the international community to follow its footsteps and support the smaller countries. “We are pushing ourselves to do more and to go faster on climate and we call on the global community to do the same. This is about putting countries and communities in charge of building a safer, more climate-resilient future,” Kim said.

The meeting, which is being held from December 3 to 14, is taking place amidst calls for world leaders to implement norms to curb the rising carbon dioxide levels and maintain temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had in October issued a warning that the Earth could reach those temperature levels by 2030 if the current trend of greenhouse emissions continues.

In order to prevent that, by 2030, worldwide CO2 emissions would have to fall by 45 per cent from the 2010 levels and have to reach ‘net zero’ by 2050. However, the UN Emissions Gap Report 2018 indicated last week that, “global greenhouse gas emissions,” which reached a record high in 2017, “show no signs of peaking.” “While there has been steady progress in the number of countries that have peaked their GHG emissions or have pledged to do so in the future, the 49 countries that have so far done so, and the 36% share of global emissions they represent, is not large enough to enable the world’s emissions to peak in the near term,” the report stated.

A report published by the World Meteorological Organization confirmed that the last four years have been the hottest on record. Addressing the COP 24, nature broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, who was representing “the people”, said, “Right now we’re facing a man-made disaster on a global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years, climate change.” “I am only here to represent the voice of the people to deliver our collective thoughts, concerns, ideas and suggestions. The people have spoken. Leaders of the world you must lead. If we don’t take action the collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon,” he added.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres highlighted some of the key areas where efforts need to be directed. “Climate change is running faster than we are and we must catch up sooner rather than later before it is too late. We need a complete transformation of our global energy economy, as well as how we manage land and forest resources. We need to embrace low-carbon, climate-resilient sustainable development,” the UN chief said.

Remarking on the United State’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, Hollywood star and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger stated that while the President Donald Trump-led administration is a “little bit backwards”, the US’ efforts to lower emission levels are led by the city and state-level governments.

“Every time you talk about America, you’re right when you say that our leadership in Washington is a little bit backwards. But you’re wrong when you say that America dropped out of the Paris agreement. Because if you look a little bit beyond Washington you will see that it is the states and the cities, it’s local governments, that can draw 70 per cent of our emissions. And you will see all the extraordinary work that is going on a state and city level in America,” Arnold said.

During the recently concluded G20 Summit in Argentina, a number of world leaders agreed on a statement, which included a segment on the climate issue. The statement said that the Paris climate agreement “is irreversible and commit to its full implementation, reflecting common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances. We will continue to tackle climate change while promoting sustainable development and economic growth”.

However, the United States stressed its decision to withdraw from the pact. A clause of the statement stated that the US, “reiterates its decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, and affirms its strong commitment to economic growth and energy access and security, utilizing all energy sources and technologies, while protecting the environment”.

SpaceX launches 64 small satellites in single mission

SpaceX launches 64 small satellites in single mission

Los Angeles: US-based private spaceflight company SpaceX launched Falcon 9 rocket carrying 64 small satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base in the state of California on Monday. The mission, dubbed SSO-A, or “SmallSat Express,” set a US launch record for most satellites put into space at a single time. It is also SpaceX’s first flight to reuse the Falcon 9 first-stage booster a third time.

The rocket blasted off from Space Launch Complex 4 at the air force base at 10:34 a.m. PST (1834 GMT), Xinhua news agency reported. At about two minutes and 21 seconds after liftoff, SpaceX confirmed first stage main engine cutoff. Following stage separation, the first stage of the rocket successfully landed on the “Just Read the Instructions” droneship stationed in the Pacific Ocean. It completed Falcon 9’s third launch and landing this year.

Later on, SpaceX confirmed second stage engine cutoff and successful deployment of four microsats and the upper and lower free flyer with additional payloads for SSO-A. The Falcon 9 carried to orbit 64 spacecraft, in particular 15 Micro satellites and 49 cubesats, from 34 different organisations from 17 countries. The “ride share” mission, SpaceX’s 19th mission of 2018, was arranged by a company called Spaceflight Industries. A series of six deployments will occur approximately 13-43 minutes after liftoff, after which Spaceflight will begin to command its own deployment sequences. Spaceflight’s deployments are expected to occur over a period of six hours, according to SpaceX.

“We’ve developed a deployment sequence that’s based off a high-fidelity analysis that we did specifically to make sure our customers don’t collide into each other upon deployment, so we’re taking our time,” said Jeff Roberts, Spaceflight’s SSO-A mission manager. “We make sure that we phase that to maximize the distance in separation between all of our customers,” he said. The mission was previously scheduled for three times, but was postponed to Monday for additional inspections prior to the launch.

Air Force One arrives in Houston to carry George H W Bush casket to Washington

Air Force One arrives in Houston to carry George H W Bush casket to Washington

Houston: A US government plane arrived here on Sunday afternoon to transport the body of former president George H W Bush to Washington for a state funeral. The 41st US president died Friday, aged 94, at his home in Texas.

According to Jim McGrath, a spokesperson for the Bush family, the aircraft’s flights to carry the casket of the former US president will be called “Special Air Mission 41”. United States President Donald Trump had Saturday said he would send his presidential aircraft to carry the casket of his late predecessor to Washington. The aircraft is called Air Force One when the president is on board. Officials also held what appeared to be a dry run for moving Bush’s casket to Washington.

His body will lay in state at the Capitol Rotunda after an arrival ceremony on Monday. The public is invited and can pay their respects from Monday evening until Wednesday morning. The casket will be flown back to Houston on Wednesday afternoon. A public viewing will be held from Wednesday evening until 6 am on Thursday. According to sources in the White House,  President Trump and first lady Melania would attend the funeral service in Houston on Thursday. Bush will be buried in Texas next to his wife, Barbara, and their daughter, Robin, who died in 1953.

Jamal Khashoggi called bin Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman a ‘beast’, ‘pac-man’ prior to killing

Jamal Khashoggi called bin Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman a ‘beast’, ‘pac-man’ prior to killing

London [UK]: Slain Journalist Jamal Khashoggi had labelled Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman a “beast” and a “pac-man” adding that “the more victims he eats, the more he wants”. The revelation was made in over 400 WhatsApp messages Khashoggi had sent to a Canada-based activist and fellow Saudi exile Omar Abdulaziz in the year prior to his killing. CNN was granted exclusive access to the messages.

“Arrests are unjustified and do not serve him (logic says), but tyranny has no logic, but he loves force, oppression and needs to show them off. He is like a beast ‘pac man’ the more victims he eats, the more he wants. I will not be surprised that the oppression will reach even those who are cheering him, then others and others and so on. God knows,” the former Washington Post scribe said in one message to Abdulaziz. Speaking to CNN, Abdulaziz said that Jamal believed bin Salman, commonly referred to as MBS, was the problem. “MBS is the issue, is the problem and he said this kid should be stopped,” Abdulaziz said.

After a number of their conversations were believed to have been intercepted by Saudi officials in August this year, Khashoggi wrote, “God help us” and two months later, he was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. On Sunday, Abdulaziz pursued legal action against an Israel-based company that created the military-grade spyware he believes was used by Saudi to hack his phone. According to Bill Marczak, a research fellow at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, the software was invented by the NSO group and was used on Abdulaziz’s phone following directions from the Saudi government.

“The hacking of my phone played a major role in what happened to Jamal, I am really sorry to say. The guilt is killing me,” the Montreal-based activist said. The messages revealed that the two had initiated plans to start an online movement, hoping to rope in the Saudi youth and disparage the government’s propaganda on social media. Abdulaziz said that their, and the Saudi government’s, greatest weapon was Twitter.

“We have no parliament; we just have Twitter. Twitter is the only tool they’re (Saudi) using to fight and to spread their rumours. We’ve been attacked, we’ve been insulted, we’d been threatened so many times, and we decided to do something,” Abdulaziz said. Khashoggi and Abdulaziz planned to get foreign sim cards into the country, allowing the “cyber bees” to tweet without being traced, and raise money. Abdulaziz said that Khashoggi had committed an initial USD 30, 000 and planned to raise more from donors.

“Once they heard about the bees, they were really worried and disturbed, the officials. They arrested a lot of people and raided many places. I bore the brunt of having the group and communication. I’m glad you’re abroad and you are safe,” Abdulaziz wrote to Khashoggi following the interception of their messages by Saudi in August. Abdulaziz also mentioned that two Saudi emissaries, who claimed to have been sent by MBS, had sought to meet him in Montreal in May. The two men, referred to as Malek and Abdullah, said that bin Salman watches him on Twitter and wants to offer him a job.

Abdulaziz recorded over ten hours of their conversations. These recordings are a crucial development in the narrative so far as Saudi Arabia has maintained over the course of the two months since Khashoggi’s murder that their Prince had no connections with the plot for the same. The two men asked Abdulaziz to meet at the Saudi embassy in order for the latter to collect some documents. Abdulaziz further stated that Khashoggi adviced him to not go there, an advice he believes saved his life. “He told me not to go and only to meet them in public places,” he said. However, Khashoggi did not follow his own advice on October 2. He entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to collect documents for his marriage to fiancée Hatice Cengiz, never to be seen again.