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Damage, destruction and fear along the Israel-Lebanon border

3 Damage, destruction and fear along the Israel-Lebanon border

LEBANON – BBC analysis has uncovered the extent of damage caused by nine months of fighting between the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah and Israel. Satellite photos, radar imagery and records of military activity show that entire communities have been displaced, with thousands of buildings and large swathes of open land damaged on the border between Israel and Lebanon. Both sides have so far stopped short of all-out war, but evidence shows that near daily attacks have left communities in both Israel and Lebanon devastated.

The current fighting began when Hezbollah fired rockets at Israeli positions, which the group said was in solidarity with the Palestinians, a day after the outbreak of the Israel-Gaza war. Israel’s military offensive on Gaza was triggered by Hamas’s unprecedented attack on Israel on 7 October 2023. Data gathered by the US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project Acled and analysed by the BBC suggest both sides together carried out a combined 7,491 cross-border attacks between 8 October 2023 and 5 July 2024. These figures indicated that Israel has carried out around five times as many as Hezbollah. The UN says the attacks have forced more than 90,000 people in Lebanon from their homes, with around 100 civilians and 366 Hezbollah fighters killed in Israeli strikes.

In Israel, officials say 60,000 civilians have had to abandon their homes and 33 people have been killed, including 10 civilians, because of attacks by Hezbollah. Analysis reveals more than 60% of the border communities in Lebanon have suffered some kind of damage as a result of Israeli air and artillery strikes. As of 10 July, more than 3,200 buildings may have suffered damage.The findings were put together by Corey Scher of City University of New York Graduate Center. They are based on comparisons of two separate images, revealing changes in the height or structure of buildings which suggests damage.

The towns of Aita el Shaab, Kfar Kila and Blida appear to have been among the worst affected. The BBC spoke to the mayor of Aita el Shaab, who described the town “as if it was hit by an earthquake Majed Tehini said 17 people from the town have been killed in the Israeli strikes, including two civilians He left Aita el Shaab with his family immediately after the hostilities started in October last year, but he said he returned almost every fortnight, mainly to attend funerals. Every time I visit, I feel it has changed. The sight of the destruction is just terrible,” he told the BBC.

The houses of Aita have become mere structures. The destroyed ones have been reduced to rubble. Those still standing are uninhabitable”, he added. Mr Tehini recalled seeing the town destroyed in the past, mainly in the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, but he says the bombs have caused much bigger destruction this time. He explained that all the infrastructure has been damaged, including the electrical grid and the water supply system.   (BBC) …[+]

Hungary stripped of EU meeting over Ukraine stance

2 Hungary stripped of EU meeting over Ukraine stance

HUNGARY – The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borell, has stripped Hungary of the right to host the next meeting of foreign and defence ministers over its stance on the war in Ukraine. It comes weeks after Hungary assumed the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, a role in which it would normally host the event, and amid anger over a meeting Prime Minister Viktor Orban held with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow earlier this month.

Mr Borrell said Hungary’s actions should have consequences and that “we have to send a signal, even if it is a symbolic signal”. Every six months, under each new council presidency, the EU’s foreign and defence ministers hold informal meetings to discuss the biggest global issues facing the bloc. The next set of meetings will take place on 28-30 August and were to be held in Budapest, but on Monday Mr Borrell announced they would instead take place in Brussels. Citing comments made after the meeting with Mr Putin in which Mr Orban accused the EU of having a “pro-war policy”, Mr Borrell told reporters: “If you want to talk about the war party, talk about Putin. However. Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Xavier Bettel, told reporters that he would go to Budapest because a boycott would be “nonsense”. Mr Bettel felt that it was better to tell the Hungarians the EU was unhappy with their actions as “ignoring or not choosing dialogue would be a mistake Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski proposed that the August meeting should take place in western Ukraine, but that idea was blocked by Budapest. Responding to Mr Borrell’s decision, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto wrote on Facebook: “What a fantastic response they have come up with.

Mr Orban’s meeting with Mr Putin came as part of what he described as a “peace mission” – launched days after Hungary assumed the council presidency – that also saw him visiting the leaders of Ukraine and China, as well as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in the US. The trip sparked condemnation from leaders across the EU, with European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen describing it as “nothing but an appeasement mission Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said Mr Orban had “no mandate to negotiate or discuss on behalf of the EU”, while Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said the trip sent “the wrong signal to the outside world and is an insult to the Ukrainian people’s fight for their freedom”. (BBC) …[+]


Kenyan protesters vow to seize country’s main airport as deadly unrest continues into sixth week

1 Kenyan protesters vow to seize country’s main airport as deadly unrest continues into sixth week

NAIROBI –  Protesters in Kenya have vowed “a total shutdown” as they seize control of Nairobi’s main international airport on Tuesday as deadly anti-government demonstrations intensify, now entering their sixth week.

At least 50 people have been killed during the protests and more than 400 injured, according to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. Widely shared social media posters encourage protesters to close all roads leading to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and cause a “total shutdown.”

Authorities said in a statement on Monday night that they increased security at the airport and warned against trespassing on protected areas, saying it was an offense punishable by law. “We urge all individuals participating in demonstrations to respect these legal provisions from attempting to enter or interfere with protected areas,” acting Inspector General of Police Douglas Kanja said.

The youth-led protests began last month after national outrage about a controversial finance bill that would have dramatically raised taxes on basic commodities. After President William Ruto was forced to pull the bill, demonstrators shifted their attention to protesting against his legitimacy, corruption in his government and police brutality.

Ruto on Friday renominated six ministers after he fired the entire cabinet last month due to public pressure, reigniting public anger over their renomination. The cabinet nominees still need parliamentary approval, but they’re likely to be confirmed since Ruto’s party holds the required majority. On Sunday, the president expressed frustration with the protests, declaring that “enough is enough” after failed attempts at dialogue. (CNN) …[+]



Murder suspect asks judge to go home

PARAMARIBO – Carlos S, who is on trial for killing a woman in a hotel recently, asked the judge to let him go home. Judge Maytrie Kuldip Singh explained to the defendant that he has been charged with murder and manslaughter, which is why she would thoroughly investigate this case before making a decision. She also gave the defendant the opportunity to discuss his case with his attorney, Shefani Amirkhan.

Amirkhan still has not talked to her client and she also has not received the case files yet. An employee from the hotel did not recognize the defendant, as the man who had arrived at the hotel with the victim. The victim was killed in one of the rooms of the hotel on February 18, 2021. The witness told the court that he saw the victim in the driver’s seat and a man in the back seat. “The person who was sitting in the back seat was wearing a surgical mask,” said the witness who claimed that the person who was with the victim was chubby…[+]

Myanmar’s military chief named acting president

7 Myanmar’s military chief named acting president

MYANMAR – Myanmar’s acting president, Myint Swe, has taken medical leave and transferred his duties to the military chief Min Aung Hlaing, says the country’s army.

The announcement of the new appointment, broadcast on state-run MRTV television, said Min Aung Hlaing received an official letter from the acting president’s office on Monday. The letter authorised him to carry out the duties of the acting president in order to deal as needed with matters related to the National Defence and Security Council while Myint Swe is on medical leave.

“Acting president duties have been handed over … to the chairman of [the] State Administration Council,” the military government said, using the name with which it refers to itself. The announcement came about a week before the procedures have to be carried out to renew the state of emergency the military originally declared after it seized power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021.

Myint Swe, 73, had been suffering “psychomotor retardation and malnutrition”, state media reported last week. It said he has been receiving medical treatment since early this year and still cannot carry out normal daily activities, including eating food. Myint Swe was the vice president under Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government and was later appointed acting president by the military government. Although he is only a figurehead president, the government has depended on him to sign its decrees and provide a veneer of legitimacy to its rule, which is struggling to contain an expanding civil war and manage a crumbling economy. The National Defence and Security Council, which is formally led by the president, is nominally a constitutional government body, but in practice is controlled by the military. (Al Jazeera)…[+]

Entrepreneurs want police to tackle crime in hinterland

13 (23.00 uur) Dronken man klapt inspecteur

PARAMARIBO – Entrepreneurs who work in the hinterland and who transport lumber  and gold to the nation’s capital, recently made it clear that they want the police to take firm action against crime in the hinterland. They are puzzled by the fact that the police are not visible in the hinterland. The entrepreneurs explained that they want to create jobs in the hinterland but that armed robbers are spoiling their plans. “There is no employment in the districts sonwe are trying to create jobs in the gold mining sector but we are constantly being confronted with armed robberies. I do not know why there are no police posts at strategic locations. We are prepared to invest money in these posts so that we can work in a safe environment,” said one of the entrepreneurs.

The entrepreneur pointed out that victims were shot at during armed robberies that took place recently. The entrepreneurs made it clear that all of the companies in the hinterland will go out of business, if the government fails to take action. They urged the Ministry of Justice & Police and the Ministry of Defense to establish checkpoints in order to maintain law and order. According to the entrepreneurs, the safety of tourists who want to visit the hinterland must also be guaranteed…[+]


Lula raises alarm over Maduro’s ‘bloodbath’ warning to Venezuela

5 Lula raises alarm over Maduro’s ‘bloodbath’ warning to Venezuela

BRAZIL –  Brazil’s president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has urged Venezuela’s government to respect the result of next Sunday’s election, saying he had been “frightened” by Nicolás Maduro’s warnings of a “bloodbath” if he loses the vote.

After 11 years in power, Venezuela’s authoritarian leader is currently trailing in opinion polls to the opposition candidate, the retired diplomat Edmundo González, and in recent weeks, Maduro and his allies have stepped up their predictions of post-election violence following what they say will be a victory for the ruling party.

On Monday, Lula repeated calls for Maduro to honour his commitments to hold fair elections. “I have told Maduro that the only chance for Venezuela to return to normality is to have a widely respected electoral process,” he said. “He has to respect the democratic process.” Maduro was narrowly elected in 2013, after the death of his mentor Hugo Chávez; his 2018 re-election was widely dismissed as a sham. At a rally on Wednesday, he said the fate of Venezuela depended on his re-election this Sunday for what would be a third term in office.

“If you don’t want Venezuela to fall into a bloodbath, into a fratricidal civil war, due to the fascists, let’s ensure the greatest success, the greatest victory in the electoral history of our people,” he said. Lula, who for many years has refused to openly criticize the Venezuelan leader, said he had been “frightened” by Maduro’s words, adding: “When you lose, you go home and get ready to run in another election.”

He announced that he will send one of his top advisers, former foreign minister Celso Amorim, as an observer to monitor Sunday’s election, along with two members of the Brazilian electoral court. In May, the Venezuelan government revoked the invitation for the European Union to send observers – something to which it had previously committed – adding to concerns over the fairness of the elections. (The Guardian)

Veteran anti-whaling activist arrested in Greenland

4 Veteran anti-whaling activist arrested in Greenland

GREENLAND –  Anti-whaling activist Paul Watson has been arrested in Greenland under an international warrant issued by Japan, authorities and his foundation said. Mr Watson, star of the reality TV show Whale Wars, was arrested when his ship docked in Nuuk, Greenland’s capital, a police statement said.

The arrest is believed to be related to an Interpol Red Notice issued for Mr Watson’s previous anti-whaling interventions in the Antarctic region, the Captain Paul Watson Foundation said. The 73-year-old will be brought before a district court with a request to detain him pending a decision on his potential extradition to Japan, police said.

Footage posted by his foundation on X showed officers handcuffing Mr Watson on the John Paul DeJoria ship, putting him inside a police van and driving him away. His foundation said it was “completely shocked, as the Red Notice had disappeared a few months ago”. “We were surprised because it could mean that it had been erased or made confidential. We understand now that Japan made it confidential to lure Paul into a false sense of security,” Locky MacLean, ship operation’s director for the foundation, said in a statement.

“We implore the Danish government to release Captain Watson and not entertain this politically-motivated request.” Greenland is an autonomous Danish dependent territory with self-government and its own parliament. A Red Notice was issued against Mr Watson in 2012, with Interpol stating he was wanted by Japan on charges of causing damage and injury in two incidents in the Antarctic Ocean in 2010 against a Japanese whaling ship. Japan’s government has made no comment but a spokeswoman for the Japanese coastguard told the AFP news agency it was aware of the arrest. Mr Watson’s foundation said he was on his way to “intercepting Japan’s newly-built factory ship, the Kangei Maru, in the North Pacific”.

The ship, which set off from Japan in May, butchers whales caught and killed by smaller vessels. Activists targeted the Kangei Maru’s predecessor before 2019, when Japan hunted whales in the Antarctic and North Pacific for what it said were “scientific” purposes. Japan left the International Whaling Commission in 2019 and now only conducts commercial whaling in its own waters, and on what it calls a sustainable scale.(BBC)…[+]

Couple found dead in lifeboat after failed Atlantic crossing

3 Couple found dead in lifeboat after failed Atlantic crossing

LONDON –  A British-Canadian couple who were attempting to sail across the Atlantic have been found dead on an island off the east coast of Canada.

Brett Clibbery, 70, and his wife, Sarah Packwood, 60, had been sailing on their 42-foot sailboat the SV Theros, but their bodies were found in a lifeboat that washed up on Sable Island, Nova Scotia, according to a statement from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), published July 12. The couple left Halifax Harbour, Nova Scotia on June 11 en route to the Azores, a group of Portuguese islands in the mid-Atlantic, around 2,000 miles away.

They were reported missing on June 18 and their bodies were found on July 10.  It is not clear why the couple abandoned the Theros and got into a lifeboat. An investigation is ongoing, the RCMP said. CNN has contacted the RCMP for comment. Sable Island is a 27-mile long sandbar around 186 miles southeast of Halifax. It is known as “the graveyard of the Atlantic” and there have been more than 350 recorded shipwrecks there since 1583, according to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

Clibbery’s son James paid tribute to his father and Packwood in a post on Facebook. “They were amazing people, and there isn’t anything that will fill the hole that has been left by their, so far unexplained passing,” he wrote.  “Living will not be the same without your wisdom, and your wife was quickly becoming a beacon of knowledge, and kindness. I miss your smiles. I miss your voices. You will be forever missed.” Clibbery and Packwood described themselves as adventure travelers and documented their trips on a YouTube channel named Theros Adventures. The ill-fated voyage was part of what the couple called their “Green Odyssey,” which Clibbery said was intended to show that it is possible to travel long distances without burning fossil fuels.

“We have an electric boat,” said Clibbery in a video posted on YouTube on May 13. “We charge the engine with solar panels.” The couple met by chance at a bus stop in London in 2015 when Clibbery was in Britain to donate a kidney to his sister, they told The Guardian newspaper in an article published in 2020. (CNN)…[+]

Junction main road blocked as residents protest for electricity

2 Junction main road blocked as residents protest for electricity

JAMAICA – The Junction main road in St Mary is now impassable after irate residents chopped down trees and used them to block the thoroughfare in protest of the lack of electricity.

The residents say electricity was disrupted during the passage of hurricane Beryl on July 3, and the situation has been compounded by extremely humid conditions and mosquitoes. The police say the residents took to the street from as early as 4 a.m. Monday, in what they theorise is a planned protest. The residents chopped down trees and dumped old refrigerators and other forms of debris at strategic locations along the Junction main road to voice their frustration.

Member of Parliament (MP) for South East St Mary, Dr Norman Dunn, who spoke to The Gleaner, pointed out that the alternative route is now through Grande Hole to Scotts Hall and up to Richmond, leading through Highgate then down to the Westmoreland bridge. The MP stated that it is a very frustrating period for residents living along that corridor who have been without power for about 18 days, and he is appealing for the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) to step up its restoration efforts.(Jamaicagleaner)…[+]

India alert after boy dies from Nipah virus in Kerala


KERALA   –  Health authorities in India’s Kerala state have issued an alert after a 14-year-old boy died of the Nipah virus.

According to the state’s health minister, an additional 60 people have been identified as being in the high-risk category of having the disease. Kerala Health Minister Veena George said the boy was from the town of Pandikkad and that those who came into contact with him have been isolated and tested. People in the area have been asked to take precautions such as wearing masks in public areas and refraining from visiting people in hospital.

The Nipah virus infection is a “zoonotic illness” transmitted from animals like pigs and fruit bats to humans, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO has described the virus as a priority pathogen because of its potential to trigger an epidemic. Initial symptoms may include: Fever, headaches, muscle pain, vomiting, sore throat.

In some people, this can be followed by: Dizziness and/or drowsiness and/or altered consciousness, and/or altered acute encephalitis, and/or atypical pneumonia, and/or other severe respiratory problems. People who contract the virus sometimes show no noticeable symptoms, while others show signs of acute respiratory problems. In severe cases, a Nipah infection can result in foetal encephalitis – a serious condition that affects the brain.

The mortality rate among those who contract the virus is high as there is no medicine or vaccine available to treat the infection. Treatment is limited to managing symptoms and supportive care. It can be transmitted through contaminated food and through contact with an infected person. Experts say that due to habitat loss, animals are living in closer proximity to humans and this helps the virus jump from animals to humans.

The Kerala state government recently announced that it was creating an action plan to prevent a Nipah outbreak. Last year, authorities in the state closed schools and offices after confirming five cases. According to the WHO, the first two outbreaks in 2001 and 2007 were both reported in the eastern state of West Bengal. In 2018, 17 people were killed in an outbreak in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts in the southern state of Kerala.

The virus has been linked to dozens of deaths in Kerala state since it was first reported there in 2018. The 14-year-old died last Sunday, just a day after he was confirmed to have the virus, according to Indian media reports. Parts of Kerala are said to be the most at-risk globally for the virus. An investigation published by Reuters last year found that Kerala, which is a tropical state and is witnessing rapid urbanisation and rapid tree loss, created “ideal conditions for a virus like Nipah to emerge”. Fruit bats, also called “megabats”, are a grouping that contain some of the largest bats in the world. These mammals, usually found in tropical and sub-tropical regions, are natural hosts for the Nipah virus. (BBC)…[+]


“Students ride ebikes instead of taking the bus”

Bus drivers have noticed a drop in the number of passengers. They suspect that this is the result of the growing popularity of the ebikes. Several bus drivers have noticed that many students are going to school on their ebike instead of taking the bus. They are relieved that many people still prefer to rely on public transportation to reach their destinations. The bus drivers who are members of the Private Regular Service Bus Owners’ Organization (PLO) made it clear that they are fed up with waiting for their affairs to be taken care of. They complained that they haven’t received any subsidy for the past six months. “We must take care of personal business but can’t. If our buses break down, we have to take them to the repair shop or else we can’t earn any money to take care of our families,” said the bus owners. “We have been busy for the past three years but no solution has been found yet.” The bus owners do not know if the fault lies with the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Tourism (TCT), the PLO or the government but explained that they hold the PLO accountable because the union must protect their interests. It is said that the Ministry of Finance and Planning still has not transferred the funds which is why the bus owners can’t receive their state subsidy. The bus owners have presented a proposal aimed at addressing this problem. They proposed to end the subsidy and to raise the  bus fares.…[+]

Trump shooter flew drone above rally site ahead of time – US media

6 (16.30 uur) Trump shooter

PENNSYLVANIA – The gunman who tried to assassinate Donald Trump flew a drone above the site of the shooting ahead of time, law enforcement officials have told US media.
They say it remains unclear whether Thomas Matthew Crooks did this hours or days before the fateful rally in Pennsylvania on 13 July, reports CBS, the BBC’s US media partner.
Trump, now officially the Republican presidential nominee, has said he was saved “by luck or by God” when a bullet pierced his right ear during a campaign speech.
A spectator was killed in the attack, while two others were seriously injured.
Crooks, 20, was shot dead at the scene by Security Service agents, who have come under intense scrutiny over the precautions taken to protect Trump at the rally – held outside in the city of Butler.
Security Service chief Kimberly Cheatle has been summoned to testify before a committee of the US House of Representatives on 22 July.
First reported by the Wall Street Journal, investigators told CBS they were still trying to determine when exactly Crooks flew the drone.
They said they believed it was within days of the rally at the Butler Farm Show grounds.
Other US outlets, also citing security officials, claimed the device was flown above the area on the day the event took place.
The drone is thought to have been used by the shooter to pick the best line of sight for the podium where Trump was due to speak.
Crooks fired multiple shots from the roof of a building that was little more than 130m (430ft) from Trump.
In an interview with Fox News to be broadcast in full on Monday, Trump said nobody had warned him before he went on stage that there was a potential shooter.
“How did somebody get on that roof? And why wasn’t he reported, because people saw he was on that roof,” he said.
The drone – found in the gunman’s vehicle after the attack – is now being examined by investigators.
Two explosive devices, a tactical vest, and four magazines full of the same ammunition used in the attack were also discovered in the shooter’s vehicle.
The development comes as US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas hit back at accusations by “some people” questioning the presence of women in law enforcement.
He praised “highly skilled and trained” women serving at every level “who risk their lives on the front lines for the safety and security of others”.
Several female agents were part of Trump’s security protocol during the shooting in Butler, shielding him after the shots were fired and leading him from the stage to a nearby security vehicle.
A number of social media users – including influential US conservative activists – later suggested that female agents were not best suited for jobs in the Secret Service.
“There should not be any women in the Secret Service,” one such activist, Matt Walsh, wrote on X. “These are supposed to be the very best, and none of the very best at this job are women.”
Some also criticised hiring practices that were focusing too much on diversity, equity and inclusion.
Mr Mayorkas said the Department of Homeland Security would “with great pride, focus and devotion to mission, continue to recruit, retain and elevate women in our law enforcement ranks”.
“Our department will be the better for it, and our country more secure,” he added. (BBC)…[+]