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Kenya’s military chief among 10 people killed in helicopter crash

KENYA – Kenya’s military chief has died in a helicopter crash in the country’s northwest, President William Ruto says.
General Francis Ogolla and nine other people were killed in the crash at in Elgeyo Marakwet County, about 400km (250 miles) northwest of the capital, Nairobi.
The military aircraft had been on a visit to troops deployed in northwest Kenya to combat cattle rustling and came down just minutes after taking off near Cheptulel Boys Secondary School in West Pokot County.
It was not immediately clear what caused the crash.
“Our motherland has lost one of her most valiant generals,” Ruto said at a news conference. “The demise of General Ogolla is a painful loss to me.”
Two soldiers survived the crash and were in hospital, the president said, adding that an air investigation team had been sent to find out the cause of the incident.
Ogolla was previously the head of the Kenyan air force before rising to deputy military chief and then being promoted by Ruto last year to head the military.
The general joined the military in 1984 and trained as a fighter pilot with United States air force and as an instructor pilot at the Kenyan air force, according to a Ministry of Defense profile.
When promoting Ogolla to the top military job a year ago, Ruto accused him of being part of a plot to overturn the result of the 2022 presidential election but said he was the best qualified person for the job.
Dozens of civilians and police officers have been killed in the unrest in northwestern Kenya.
At least 10 soldiers were killed in June 2021 when their helicopter crashed while landing near Nairobi.(Al Jazeera)…[+]

Polish man charged in connection with alleged Russian plot to kill Ukraine leader Zelensky

Volodymyr_Zelenskyy_in_2022 eng

POLAND/UKRAINE – A Polish man has been charged over claims that he assisted an alleged Russian plot to assassinate Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to authorities in Poland and Ukraine.
He was charged with “readiness to act for foreign intelligence against the Republic of Poland,” an offense which carries up to eight years in prison if he is found guilty, according to prosecutors.
Polish authorities allege the man, named as Paweł K, was tasked “to help, among other things, in planning by Russian special services a possible attack on the life of the head of a foreign state – President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky,” according to a statement.
Prosecutors said the man agreed to provide information to Russian spies about security at Rzeszów-Jasionka airport, in southeastern Poland, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the border with Ukraine.
Zelensky is known to use the airport when leaving on foreign trips, as it is one of the closest airports to the Ukrainian border. The airport often receives military aid and civilian goods from the US and across Europe because Ukraine’s airspace remains closed to non-military flights.
Ukrainian authorities said they uncovered the plot and handed key evidence to Polish officials, who then detained the accused on Polish territory.
Polish prosecutors said the man had contacted Russians “directly involved in the war in Ukraine,” though it was not clear from official statements whether he had handed over any information, or even collected it.
It is not the first time Ukraine has claimed to have foiled an attempt to kill President Zelensky, who has become a figurehead of his country’s war effort and been energetic in rallying Western support.
He has faced several known attempts on his life since Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022.
In August 2023, the Ukrainian Security Service, the SBU, arrested a woman who had been allegedly “gathering intelligence” about a planned visit by the president to the southern region of Mykolaiv, in order to help plan a Russian airstrike.
News of the Polish arrest came just hours after German police said they had arrested two suspected Russian agents in the Bavarian town of Bayreuth.
The two individuals, identified as German-Russian nationals, are accused of plotting sabotage attacks and planning an explosive detonation, according to a statement by the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office in Karlsruhe.
One of the men had been in contact with a Russian intelligence agent, the statement said, adding that among the potential targets scouted were US army facilities in Germany.
“Our security authorities have prevented possible explosive detonations that were intended to affect and undermine our military aid to Ukraine. This is a particularly serious case of suspected agent activity for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s criminal regime,” Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser said during a press conference in Berlin.
The Russian Embassy in Berlin dismissed the accusations as an “outright provocation,” Russian state news agency TASS reported.(CNN)…[+]

Prince William resumes public duties after Kate’s cancer announcement

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ENGLAND – The Prince of Wales was back in action yesterday, carrying out his first public engagements since his wife, Catherine, revealed her cancer diagnosis last month.
William, 41, visited a surplus food charity in Surrey before he was expected to head to a youth center in west London.
The Princess of Wales, who has not carried out any official duties since Christmas Day, announced in a powerful video on March 22 that her diagnosis had been a “huge shock” and she had already started preventative chemotherapy. Kate’s cancer was found in tests following an abdominal surgery in January.
The revelation followed weeks of speculation over her whereabouts and bizarre conspiracy theories circulating online.
William started his engagements yesterday by visiting Surplus to Supper, a food redistribution organization where he met with volunteers and helped load vans with food to dispense to local groups.
He also chatted with chefs on how they are bridging the gap between food waste and food poverty while donning an apron and pitching in with the preparation of meals.
While in the kitchen, one volunteer gave the prince several get well cards for his wife and father, King Charles III, who also revealed in February that he was getting treatment for an unspecified form of cancer.
Prince William then jumped into one of the vans and joined volunteers as they drove to Hanworth Centre Hub, a youth center that benefits from the Surplus to Supper’s work.
Kensington Palace said his visits aimed “to spotlight the community and environmental impact organisations in the area are having through their work.”
The palace added: “Reducing food waste has a considerable number of environmental benefits, including reducing emissions from landfill that contribute to climate change.”
The prince’s last official engagement was on March 19 when he visited the English city of Sheffield for his Homewards homelessness project. However, he and his eldest son delighted soccer fans when they were spotted at an Aston Villa game in Birmingham last week. William’s presence will be a welcome signal to royal-watchers that his wife is feeling well enough for him to resume public-facing duties. However, it also had been expected that the heir to the British throne would be out and about once more after his children were back at school following the Easter break, which restarted on Wednesday.
The Waleses have been out of the public eye over the past few weeks during the school holidays.
In Kate’s video message, she explained that it had “taken us time to explain everything to George, Charlotte and Louis in a way that is appropriate for them, and to reassure them that I am going to be ok.”
She added that she hoped “that you will understand that, as a family, we now need some time, space and privacy while I complete my treatment.
King Charles has also taken a step back from public-facing duties while undergoing treatment. He made his most significant public appearance on Easter Sunday following the tradition family church outing.(CNN)…[+]

7 dead in Brazil bus crash

RIO DE JANEIRO – Seven people were killed and 15 others injured after a passenger bus crashed in southeast Brazil’s Minas Gerais state, the local Military Highway Police said.
The accident occurred on the MGC-120 regional highway between the municipalities of Sao Joao Evangelista and Sao Pedro do Suacui, after the driver attempted to avoid hitting dogs crossing the road and the bus overturned.
The bus carrying 24 passengers was traveling between the regional capital Belo Horizonte and the municipality of Minas Novas, in Minas Gerais.
According to local media, none of the injured are in a delicate state of health. (Xinhua)…[+]

More than 11,000 evacuated in northern Indonesia as volcano erupts

INDONESIA – More than 11,000 people have been told to evacuate and air travel in the region has been disrupted after a volcano in northern Indonesia erupted multiple times.
Mount Ruang, located in North Sulawesi Province, first erupted at 9:45pm (13:45 GMT) last Tuesday, sending billowing clouds of smoke and ash high into the sky.
After four more eruptions on Wednesday, Indonesia’s volcanology agency raised the alert level for the 725-metre (2,379-foot) high mountain to four, the highest on the scale.
They also widened the exclusion zone around the crater from four kilometres (2.5 miles) to six kilometres (3.7 miles).
More than 800 people were evacuated initially from Ruang to nearby Tagulandang Island, which is located more than 100 kilometres (62 miles) north of the provincial capital, Manado.
But officials said yesterday morning that more people would need to be evacuated as a result of the widening exclusion zone, and would be taken to Manado.
“At least 11,615 residents who are in the risk area must evacuate to a safe place,” Abdul Muhari, the head of the disaster agency’s disaster data, communications and information centre was quoted as saying by the Kompas newspaper.
Officials also worry that part of the volcano could collapse into the sea and cause a tsunami as it did during a previous eruption in 1871.
Video footage showed flows of red lava streaming down the mountain, reflected in the waters below, and billowing clouds of grey ash above Ruang’s crater.
Muhammad Wafid, the head of Indonesia’s geological agency, earlier said Ruang’s initial eruption sent an ash column two kilometres (1.2 miles) into the sky, with the second eruption pushing it to 2.5 kilometres (1.6 miles).
Aviation authorities announced the closure of Sam Ratulangi International Airport in Manado until yesterday evening “due to the spread of volcanic ash which could endanger flight safety”. The airport has connections to countries including China, Singapore and South Korea.
There was also significant disruption to flights to and from Kota Kinabalu International Airport in neighbouring Malaysia. Kota Kinabalu is on the northern tip of Malaysian Borneo, just over 1,100 kilometres (688 miles) to the northwest of Ruang.
The volcanology agency said activity had increased at Ruang after two earthquakes in recent weeks.
Indonesia, which sits along the ‘Ring of Fire’, a horseshoe-shaped series of tectonic fault lines around the Pacific Ocean, has 120 active volcanoes.
In 2018, the eruption of Indonesia’s Anak Krakatoa volcano triggered a tsunami along the coasts of Sumatra and Java after parts of the mountain fell into the ocean. Hundreds of people were killed.(Al Jazeera)…[+]

China awards medals to Shenzhou-16 astronauts

BEIJING – Three astronauts who took part in the Shenzhou-16 crewed mission were yesterday awarded medals for their services to China’s space endeavors.
Jing Haipeng was honored with a special-class aerospace achievement medal. Zhu Yangzhu and Gui Haichao received third-class aerospace achievement medals and the honorary title of “Heroic Astronaut.”
The awards were given by the Communist Party of China Central Committee, the State Council and the Central Military Commission.
Jing carried out crewed space missions four times and served as the mission commander three times. He is the Chinese astronaut who has carried out the most crewed missions for his country.
Zhu is the country’s first space flight engineer to carry out a crewed space mission and conduct extravehicular activities.
Gui is China’s first payload expert to carry out a crewed space mission.
Launched on May 30, 2023, the Shenzhou-16 spaceship sent the trio to China’s space station core module Tianhe, where they lived and worked for five months.
During their stay, they performed extravehicular activities once, delivered a live class from the space station, and conducted a series of space-science experiments and in-orbit payload experiments.
The trio returned to Earth safely on Oct. 31, 2023. The Shenzhou-16 mission is the first crewed mission for the application and development stage of China’s space station. It is also the first time that three types of astronaut — pilot, flight engineer and payload expert — have carried out a mission together.(Xinhua)…[+]

Dubai airport slowly re-opening as UAE rainfall persists

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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Operations at Dubai airport remain severely disrupted as heavy rains continue to batter the United Arab Emirates and neighbouring countries.
The storm pounded the UAE last Tuesday, flooding roads and the sections of the busy international airport.
Flash floods have now killed 20 people in Oman and one in the UAE.
Some inbound flights have resumed yesterday, but on the whole Dubai international airport, a major travel hub, is barely functional.
Authorities at the world’s second-busiest airport said yesterday that they had started receiving inbound flights at Terminal 1, used by foreign carriers, but that outbound flights continue to be delayed.
They later announced that check-in was open at Terminal 3 for Emirates – the single largest carrier at the airport, and flydubai flights.
But they warned that a large number of travellers were waiting to check in and long delays were expected.
Posting on X, formerly known as Twitter, early yesterday, officials urged people toproceed to the airport only if they had confirmed bookings.
The head of Dubai airport, Paul Griffiths, said: “It remains an incredibly challenging time. In living memory, I don’t think anyone has ever seen conditions like it.”
The surrounding roads remain gridlocked because of overcrowding with people trying to reach the airport.
Last Wednesday, about 300 flights were cancelled and hundreds more were delayed.
The UAE recorded its heaviest rainfall in recorded history. Up to 259.5mm (10.2in) of rain fell on the usually arid country last Tuesday.
The state-run news agency called the rain “a historic weather event” that surpassed “anything documented since the start of data collection in 1949”.
Anne Wing, a British tourist who was with her husband and three children hoping to fly to London Heathrow, said: “It’s horrific, we are squashed in like animals – it is dangerous and inhumane.”
She added: “Passengers were shouting and rioting at the connection desk, there were no staff to be seen.”
She said her family had not eaten since lunchtime, and all that had been provided were some “small cartons of water”.
Airport authorities say that the staff are facing difficulties to get food to stranded passengers as all the roads leading to the airport are blocked by flood waters.
As many road closures are still in place, some motorists remain trapped in vehicles or stranded on the roadside due to the rising water levels around them.
Al Arabiya TV reported that in Ras al-Khaimah a 70-year-old man died after his vehicle was swept away by strong current.
Emergency services worked to clear the waterlogged roads yesterday to assess people trapped in traffic, offices and homes.
The main road that connects Dubai with Abu Dhabi – the capital of the UAE – was closed in the Abu Dhabi direction.
Many stranded passengers at Dubai airport have taken to social media, urging for more information.
Other “very anxious” and disoriented passengers, some travelling with young children, have posted that despite confirmed booking, their tickets are not being processed, because “check-in/bag drop/passport control [are] not open.”
The airport, which last year served more than 80 million passengers, second only to Atlanta in the United States, warned recovery would take “some time”.
Roads to hard-hit communities and facilities remain flooded and footage on social media showed dozens of submerged vehicles and long traffic jams. Most supermarkets and shopping malls also remain closed, and home delivery services are largely out of action.
Authorities have warned that more thunderstorms, heavy rain and strong winds were forecast. In Oman, more than 1,400 people have been evacuated to shelters, while schools and government offices have been closed.
The UAE’s president, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has ordered a review of the country’s infrastructure impacted by the severe weather. He asked authorities to assess the damage and provide support to affected families, including transferring them to safe locations.
Videos online nevertheless showed people wading through floodwater to reach their abandoned cars to check if they would start.
In a conciliatory message on X, Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, said: “Crises reveal the strength of countries and societies… and the natural climate crisis that we experienced showed great care, awareness, cohesion and love for every corner of the country from all its citizens and residents.” (BBC)…[+]

Gulf flooding: Dubai airport chaos as UAE and Oman reel from deadly storms

Gulf flooding

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Heavy rain has been battering Gulf states, causing flash floods that have killed 20 people and disrupted flights at the world’s second-busiest airport.
Dubai Airport said it was facing “very challenging conditions” yesterday. It advised passengers not to turn up as runways were inundated with water.
Further north, a man died when his car was caught in flash floods.
In Oman, rescuers found the body of a girl in Saham, bringing the death toll in the country to 19 since Sunday.
Authorities also warned that more thunderstorms, heavy rain and strong winds were forecast, with many low-lying areas still under water.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman’s northern neighbour, experienced on Tuesday its largest rainfall event since records began 75 years ago.
The National Centre of Meteorology announced that 254.8mm (9.7in) had fallen on Khatm al-Shakla, in the emirate of al-Ain, over less than 24 hours.
The country averages 140-200 mm of rainfall per year, while Dubai typically receives only 97mm. The monthly average for April is only about 8mm.
Footage from the centre of Dubai showed dozens of submerged vehicles on a flooded part of Sheikh Zayed Road, as well as long traffic jams elsewhere on the 12-lane highway.
British tourist Caroline Seubert, 29, from Leyland in Lancashire, told the BBC that she and her husband were currently stranded at a shopping centre in Dubai.
Ms Seubert, who is 22 weeks pregnant, said they were headed to Dubai Malll ast Tuesday morning because they had booked tickets for its aquarium and had not been warned by their hotel that it could be unsafe because of the storm.
“The mall was flooded, ceilings were collapsing, the place shut at 7.30pm. We were told to leave, but the metro was shut and the taxis were not running or picking up in the area,” she said. “We were stranded, had to sleep in the mall lobby overnight.”
They managed to catch a taxi in the morning, but it could not reach their hotel and dropped them off at another mall on the way, she said.
“We still can’t get taxis to agree to take us to our hotel 15 minutes down the road, and our hotel refused to put their usual mall shuttle bus in in order to help people,” she said.
Another British citizen who lives in Dubai, Ross Moore, told the BBC the storm was “an incredible sight to see”.
“I have never seen anything like it in the UAE and I’ve been here since 2017,” said the 35-year-old. “The thunder and lightning was incredible, the noise was something I’ll never forget.”
He said his home was in an area on higher ground, so a little water came in but they have managed with sandbags and towels against the door.
“I went out with my son yesterday afternoon, just within our community, and everything was flooded, all the roads. Last night trucks came in and collected all the water.”
No deaths were reported in Dubai, but an elderly man was killed when his vehicle was swept away in a flash flood in Ras al-Khaimah.
Although the rain had eased by last Tuesday evening, Dubai International Airport warned yesterday morning that “recovery will take some time”.
The intense storm that began last Tuesday morning and continued through most of the day forced the airport to suspend operations for 25 minutes, divert several inbound planes and cancel a number of inbound and outbound flights.
Videos posted on social media showed aircraft ploughing through several inches of water that completely covered the airport’s apron and taxiways.
“We are currently experiencing significant disruption due to the weather and are continuously working with our emergency response teams and service partners to restore normal operations as quickly as possible,” it said on X, formerly Twitter.
Emirates, one of the UAE’s two flag carriers and the world’s largest international airline, meanwhile told customers that check-in had been suspended at the airport for all flights until midnight (20:00 GMT).
FlyDubai, Emirates’ low-cost sister airline, said some outbound flights would operate from one terminal after 20:00.
Its chief executive, Paul Griffiths, told local radio station Dubai Eye: “In living memory, I don’t think anyone has ever seen conditions like it.” (BBC)…[+]

Israel makes own decisions, Netanyahu says after Cameron talks

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ISRAEL – Benjamin Netanyahu has told UK Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron that Israel would “make its own decisions” over how to respond to an Iranian attack.
He said his government would “do everything necessary to defend itself” during talks the British government had hoped would help prevent escalation.
Mr Netanyahu has repeatedly vowed to retaliate to the unprecedented missile and drone assault at the weekend.
Lord Cameron told him any response should be “smart” and limited.
Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem after the meeting with Mr Netanyahu, Lord Cameron said he was there to “demonstrate our solidarity” after Iran’s “appalling” attack.
He continued: “We hope that anything Israel does is as limited and as targeted and as smart as possible.
“It’s in no one’s interest that we see escalation and that is what we said very clearly to all the people I’ve been speaking to here in Israel.”
After the meeting, the Israeli prime minister said: “I want to make it clear – we will make our own decisions, and the State of Israel will do everything necessary to defend itself.”
Mr Netanyahu’s remarks will reinforce the belief in western capitals that Israel is set to take action against Iran and there is a limit to how often they can call for restraint.
Israel is more than aware of concerns in Europe and the United States about the war escalating in the region.
However, western leaders may take comfort from the fact that Israeli leaders are trying to exploit the diplomatic support they have gained after Iran’s attacks.
It is likely Mr Netanyahu will not want to destroy that strategic alliance with an escalatory act of retaliation that plunges the region into a full scale war.
Lord Cameron is one of several Western foreign ministers who are expected to visit Israel in the coming days as part of a diplomatic drive to prevent that from happening.
Before meeting Mr Netanyahu, Lord Cameron held talks with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Israel Katz.
The UK foreign secretary also plans to visit the Occupied Palestinian Territories to meet Mohammad Mustafa, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority.
Later, Lord Cameron will travel to a gathering of G7 ministers in Italy, where he will push for coordinated sanctions on Iran.
Earlier, he accused Tehran of being “behind so much of the malign activity” in the Middle East and called for other countries to adopt measures designed to restrict Iran’s influence.
The US and European Union are considering further sanctions, and Israel is calling on its allies to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – a major military, political and economic force in Iran – as a terrorist organisation.
The Israeli government has repeatedly vowed to retaliate after Iran sent more than 300 drones and missiles towards Israel in an unprecedented direct attack overnight last Saturday.
Almost all the projectiles were intercepted by Israel’s air defense systems, with the help of the UK, US, France, and Jordan.
Iran’s direct attack on Israel was carried out in response to a strike in Syria on 1 April which killed senior Iranian military figures. Israel has not publicly confirmed it was behind the attack, but is widely believed to have been.
Last Tuesday evening, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke to Mr Netanyahu and warned that “significant escalation will only deepen instability in the region”, adding: “This is a moment for calm heads to prevail.”
Lord Cameron will seek to reinforce Mr Sunak’s call for restraint during his visit to Israel, and put more pressure on its leaders to do more to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza – but he is walking a delicate diplomatic line.
The foreign secretary will not want to appear to be hectoring an ally which has just been subject to an unprecedented attack on its soil.
That is why Lord Cameron is also talking about the need for Hamas to release hostages and the importance of western powers imposing yet more sanctions on Iran.
His presence in Jerusalem is a show of support and solidarity – but also an attempt to warn Israeli leaders that any significant escalation would be against their interests and the world’s. (BBC)…[+]

Honduras recalls top diplomat in Ecuador over Mexico embassy raid

Honduras recalls top diplomat in Ecuador over Mexico embassy raid

HONDURAS – Honduras is recalling its senior diplomat in Ecuador, the Central American country’s foreign minister announced, in the latest action taken in response to Ecuador’s shocking raid this month on the Mexican embassy in Quito.
Foreign Minister Enrique Reina said the Honduran business manager, Clarivel Vallecillo, who has been stationed at the embassy, will return to Tegucigalpa for consultations, stressing that Honduras backs Mexico’s recently-filed case against Ecuador in the U.N.’s International Court of Justice.
The April 5 raid on the Mexican embassy to arrest former Ecuadorean Vice President Jorge Glas triggered an abrupt break in relations between Mexico City and Quito, as well as wave of condemnation for the decision by Ecuador’s government to force its way into the facility.
Glas, twice convicted of corruption and now facing fresh charges, had sought refuge in the embassy since late last year.
The government of Ecuador’s President Daniel Noboa has argued that Mexican officials had illegally granted Glas protection at their embassy.
Late last week, a court in Ecuador ruled that the dramatic arrest of Glas was illegal, but added he must remain in jail due to his previous convictions. Glas’ lawyer pledged to appeal the ruling. (Reuters)…[+]

Ancient skeletons unearthed in France reveal Mafia-style killings

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FRANCE – More than 5,500 years ago, two women were tied up and probably buried alive in a ritual sacrifice, using a form of torture associated today with the Italian Mafia, according to an analysis of skeletons discovered at an archaeological site in southwest France.
Researchers investigated the unusual position of three female skeletons found in 1985 at the site in the town of Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux, and concluded that two of the women probably died from a form of torture known as “incaprettamento,” which involves tying a person’s throat and ankles so that they eventually strangle themselves due to the position of their legs.
The researchers also reviewed skeletons found at other archaeological sites across Europe and identified 20 other probable instances of similar sacrificial killings. The practice may have been relatively widespread in Neolithic, or late Stone Age, Europe, according to the study, published in the journal Science Advances last week.
The third woman found at the site was in a normal burial position and “we don’t know how she died,” Éric Crubézy, one of the paper’s lead authors and a biological anthropologist at Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse, told CNN. “But we can say that they put the three women in the grave at the same time.”
The women’s burial place was aligned with the sunrise at summer solstice and sunset at winter solstice, leading the study’s authors to hypothesize that this site acted as somewhere people gathered to mark the turning of the seasons, which may have involved human sacrifices.
“There is always this idea that somebody is dying and that the crops will grow,” Crubézy added, referencing that belief appearing in other cultures such as the Inca practice of human sacrifice in South America.
Crubézy was part of the original team that excavated the site in 1985 but it wasn’t until the break caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that he and his colleagues set about researching other instances of such sacrifices.
By reviewing the existing literature, researchers pinpointed 20 other probable examples of people being sacrificed in the same way over 2,000 years in the Neolithic period. The study said the actual number was probably higher but there was insufficient information about skeletons at other archaeological sites to draw firm conclusions.
“In different parts of Europe, it was the same type of sacrifice,” Crubezy said. “And this sacrifice is very particular because it’s a cruel one … and you have no blood and no people who killed another, the people killed themselves.”
Though it is impossible to prove definitively that the women in the grave at Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux died in situ, their position “stacked atop each other and entwined with fragments of grindstones” implies that they were placed there forcefully and deliberately, “strongly suggesting that their demise likely occurred” in the grave, the study said.
The study can state with “95% certainty that the three individuals were women,” after precisely measuring various characteristics of the pelvic bone, co-author Ameline Alcouffe, a doctoral student at Paul Sabatier University, told CNN in an email.
At the other sites across Europe, men and children as well as women were also found sacrificed in this way, the study said.
In the future, Crubézy says, the researchers intend to analyze the familial relationship between the three women at Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux and investigate unusual death rites observed in other graves around the site. (CNN)…[+]

European court rules drug kingpin Pablo Escobar’s name can’t be trademarked

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LUXEMBOURG – The name of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar cannot be registered as a European Union trademark for goods or services in the bloc, a court has ruled.
Yesterday, the EU General Court in Luxembourg ruled that the name is associated with “drug trafficking and narco-terrorism and with the crimes and suffering resulting” from them, and should not be given protection under intellectual property laws.
The court upheld the decision of the EU’s Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) that refused a trademark application by Escobar Inc in 2022.
Escobar Inc was founded in Puerto Rico by Pablo Escobar’s brother Roberto de Jesus Escobar Gaviria, who spent 12 years in prison for his role in his brother’s criminal organisation.
Pablo Escobar, one of the world’s most notorious outlaws, was killed in a rooftop shootout with police and soldiers in Medellin, Colombia, on December 2, 1993.
He led one of the world’s most powerful criminal organisations, the Medellin cartel, and made his fortune from smuggling cocaine to the United States and is said to be responsible for the deaths of thousands of people.
The judges ruled that the trademark would “be perceived as running counter to fundamental values and moral standards”. The court said Pablo Escobar was largely not associated with any good deeds he is claimed to have carried out on behalf of the poor in Colombia.
Escobar was never convicted under criminal law. But the court said that his “fundamental right to the presumption of innocence has not been infringed because, even though he was never criminally convicted he is publicly perceived … as a symbol of organised crime responsible for numerous crimes”.
Gaviria said in 2020 that his company would launch a foldable smartphone called the Escobar Fold 1. The company currently sells a cryptocurrency called Escobar Cash, according to its website.
Thousands of people were killed in cartel-related violence during and after Escobar’s death. Medellin, Colombia’s second largest city, was ravaged by drug violence, car bombs and regular shootouts as drug gangs, state forces and private armed groups fought for supremacy.(Al Jazeera)…[+]

Stabbing of bishop at Sydney church was ‘terrorist act,’ police say

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AUSTRALIA – A bishop and a priest were stabbed in an alleged “terrorist act” at a Sydney church that sparked a riot last Monday, police said, just two days after the Australian city was rocked by a mass stabbing in a busy shopping mall.

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was presiding over a service that was being livestreamed at Christ The Good Shepherd Church in the western suburb of Wakeley, when an alleged attacker was seen charging toward him. Several parishioners immediately attempted to intervene while screams could be heard in the church.

Members of the public restrained the alleged attacker at the scene, according to New South Wales (NSW) police. Police then arrived and arrested the suspect, later identified as a 16-year-old boy, who was taken to the hospital under custody and received surgery for injuries sustained during the attack. Police initially said he was 15.

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb told reporters yesterday that police believe the attack was premeditated.
“We will allege [the suspect] attended that church armed with a knife and stabbed the bishop and priest … We believe there are elements that are satisfied in terms of religious motivated extremism,” she said.
A 53-year-old man received cuts to his head and a 39-year-old man, who was injured after attempting to intervene, suffered cuts and a shoulder wound, police said. Both were treated by paramedics and taken to the hospital. “They are lucky to be alive,” Webb said.

In a statement, Christ The Good Shepherd Church said Bishop Emmanuel suffered several blows to the head and body. Parish priest Father Isaac Royel was also injured but no one else inside the church was harmed, it said.

Charbel Saliba, Deputy Mayor of Fairfield City, a suburb of western Sydney, told CNN that Emmanuel was well known in the local community. While the bishop was bleeding, “he put his hand on the man that stabbed him and said something like, ‘May the Lord Jesus Christ Save you,’” Saliba said, citing a witness. Video of the attack spread quickly on social media, prompting angry members of the community to converge on the church, police said. Footage showed chaotic scenes as people threw objects at police cars.

Webb, the police commissioner, condemned the “uncontrolled” crowd that gathered soon after officers and first responders arrived on the scene, calling their conduct “totally unacceptable.” “People converged on that area and began to turn on police. People used what was available to them in the area, including bricks, concrete, palings, to assault police and throw missiles at police, and police equipment, and police vehicles,” Webb said.

NSW Ambulance Commissioner Dominic Morgan said paramedics and police were forced to retreat inside the church, where they were holed up for three and a half hours as crowds rioted outside. “This was a rapidly evolving situation where the crowds went from 50 to hundreds of people in a very rapid period of time. Our paramedics became directly under threat,” he said. “Six of our paramedics could not leave that facility for fear of their own safety. I echo the words of the police commissioner. This is outrageous.” NSW Ambulance treated 30 patients, Morgan said, including seven who were taken to hospital. Around 20 were treated for the effects of pepper spray.
Some 20 police vehicles were damaged with 10 deemed unusable, police said.

In its statement, the Church backed the police response, saying officers took “necessary steps” when onlookers and visitors who had came to express their support for the bishop refused “numerous” requests by police and clergy to leave.
The Church “categorizes this attack as isolated” and “denounces retaliation of any kind,” it added.

NSW Premier Chris Minns said the scenes were “disturbing,” and he convened a meeting late last Monday of faith leaders representing different religious communities across western Sydney.

The suspect, who has not been named, had not been on any terror watch list, Police Commissioner Webb said. Police believe he was acting alone but emphasized the investigation is in its preliminary stages.
Webb said police had spoken with the boy’s parents, but she could not provide specific details of that conversation.

The incident comes shortly after six people were killed and several others were injured, including a 9-month-old baby, in a stabbing attack at Westfield Bondi Junction in Sydney last Saturday.
Australian police said last Monday that the attacker in Bondi, 40-year-old Joel Cauchi, may have targeted women.
Five women were among those killed in that attack. Twelve others were injured, eight of whom remained in the hospital Monday in conditions ranging from stable to critical.
(CNN)…[+]