News & Current Affairs

July 20, 2009

July 12, 2009

Israel in ‘Sabbath car park’ row

Filed under: Latest, Politics News — Tags: , , , , , , , , — expressyoureself @ 4:55 am

Israel in ‘Sabbath car park’ row

Hundreds of ultra-orthodox Jews have clashed with police in Jerusalem for a third consecutive Saturday over a car park which opens on the Sabbath.

Police said the protesters, wearing traditional Hassidic clothing, threw stones and jumped in front of vehicles.

The Sabbath is observed by religious Jews as a day of rest, when working, driving and trading are forbidden.

The protesters say the municipal car park will attract tourists and encourage business on the holy day.

Protesters, praying and chanting “Shabbes” – the Yiddish word for Sabbath – gathered at a police cordon at the entrance to the car park, near Jerusalem’s Old City.

Some lay in the road to prevent cars from entering.

“Hundreds of ultra-orthodox tried to overrun police barricades and threw stones at our men in several sectors of Jerusalem,” police spokesman Schmuel Ben Rubi, told the AFP news agency .

He said there had been no injuries or arrests so far.

However, television footage showed people in religious clothing being moved by police or put into police cars.

One man who had crawled underneath the wheels of a stationary bus was reported to have been taken away by police.

There were also clashes in the nearby ultra-orthodox neighbourhood of Mea Shearim, where police had been deployed.

The car park was opened by the Jerusalem municipality last month to provide extra facilities for visitors to the city.

But the protesters are angry at what they see as a move which will “profane” the Sabbath.

The row has highlighted tensions between Jerusalem’s ultra-orthodox Jews, known as Haredim, and the majority secular population.

September 29, 2008

Abducted Western tourists freed

Abducted Western tourists freed

A group of Western tourists and their Egyptian guides, who were kidnapped 10 days ago by gunmen, have been freed.

The 11 hostages – five Italians, five Germans and a Romanian – and some eight guides are said to be in good health.

The group, abducted in a remote border region of Egypt, have now arrived at a military base in the capital, Cairo.

Egyptian officials said they were freed in a mission near Sudan’s border with Chad, and that half of the kidnappers were killed. No ransom was paid.

The freed hostages were greeted by Egyptian military and government officials on arrival in Cairo as well as foreign diplomats, and were then taken for medical checks.

Sudanese authorities had been tracking the group since early last week through a remote mountainous plateau that straddles the borders of Egypt, Libya and Sudan.


They were seized in an ambush at around dawn on Monday, Egyptian security sources said. Some 150 Egyptian special forces were then sent to Sudan, officials said.

German officials had been negotiating via satellite phone with the kidnappers, who were demanding a ransom of $8.8m (£4.9m). Egyptian officials said no money exchanged hands.

Italy’s Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said that Sudanese and Egyptian forces had carried out “a highly professional operation”.

He added that “Italian intelligence and experts from the special forces” in Italy and Germany had been involved.

Egypt’s defense minister said that half of hostage-takers had been “eliminated”, without giving precise figures.

Reports suggest that Egypt’s tourism minister will be relieved.

The abductees had been touring in an area well off the beaten track but a messy end to this crisis would not have been good for the health of the Egyptian economy, our correspondent says.


The breakthrough comes a day after Sudanese troops clashed with alleged kidnappers in northern Sudan, killing six gunmen. Another two were taken into custody.

The two suspects claimed the tourists were in Chad but their exact whereabouts at the time of rescue remains unclear. Chad denied the group was within its borders.

In a statement, the military said the vehicle of the hostage-takers was full of weapons and documents detailing how the ransom should have been paid.

Other documents found inside led the army to believe a faction of the Darfur rebel Sudan Liberation Army was involved in the kidnapping.

None of Darfur’s numerous rebel groups have said they were linked to the kidnappings.

Other reports said the abduction, near the Gilf al-Kebir plateau, was carried out by tribesmen or bandits operating in the area.

September 28, 2008

Tourist kidnappers ‘shot dead

Tourist kidnappers ‘shot dead

Sudanese officials say their forces have shot and killed six of the kidnappers who abducted a group of European tourists in Egypt last week.

Two other suspected kidnappers have been taken into custody, but the tourists themselves remain in captivity in Chad, officials in Sudan said.

The hostages – 11 tourists and eight Egyptian guides – were taken on 19 September and are said to be unharmed.

They include five Germans, five Italians and a Romanian.

A spokesman for Sudan’s military told The Associated Press that the kidnappers were killed following a high-speed desert chase.

Sawarmy Khaled said the missing Europeans, who were abducted in Egypt but thought to have been taken first to Sudan and are now being held in neighbouring Chad.

Leader ‘dead’

Mr Khaled said the Sudanese military forces were near the Libyan border when they encountered a white sports utility vehicle carrying eight armed men, AP reported.

Gilf al-Kebir is a popular destination for adventurous tourists

“The armed forces called for it to stop, but they did not respond and there was pursuit in which six of the armed men were killed,” he said, adding that the group’s leader, who he identified as a Chadian named Bakhit, was among the dead.

The remaining two gunmen were captured and they confessed to being involved in kidnapping the tourists and their guides, who were on desert safari in southwest Egypt.

The tourists, who were seized while near Gilf al-Kebir in Egypt, are being held by 35 other gunmen in the Tabbat Shajara region of Chad, Mr Khaled added.

The shootings come as negotiations continue for the release of the hostages.

An Egyptian official told the AFP news agency that the kidnappers and German negotiators had agreed to a deal but that “negotiations were still ongoing to work out details.”

The kidnappers have demanded that Germany take charge of payment of an $8.8m ransom.

German officials have declined comment.

September 1, 2008

England v South Africa ODI series

England v South Africa ODI series
Fourth one-day international, Lord’s: England 137-3 (17.4 ovs) bt South Africa 183-6 (32.1 ovs) by seven wickets
(Target: 137 from 20 overs)

By Jamie Lillywhite

Andrew Flintoff

Flintoff lit up the gloom of early autumn with some magnificent hitting

England made it four wins from four in the one-day series against South Africa with a seven-wicket win at Lord’s.

The match was cut to 33 overs after rain delays, but Herschelle Gibbs and Hashim Amla fired 66 from 55 balls.

Gibbs hit 74 from 75 balls and Andrew Flintoff took 3-21 but rain ended South Africa’s innings on 183-6 after 32.1.

Chasing a revised 137 from 20 overs, Owais Shah made 43 and Flintoff struck one six for 31 from 12 balls as England won with 14 deliveries to spare.

The Twenty20 match between the teams was abandoned at Durham, but England effectively faced that scenario with their 120-ball innings.

Although the average Twenty20 domestic score at Lord’s was 159, it was not a particularly enticing prospect in gloomy light, facing bowlers in excess of 90mph.

It was in England interests to play on, as a 5-0 whitewash in the series will take them above South Africa into second in the world rankings.

The batting order remained the same but Ian Bell and Matt Prior seemed to panic, Prior trying to give himself room and edging for nought in the second over.

It was not until the fifth over that Bell hit the first boundary, but immediately afterwards he got a thick edge to the keeper.

Even Shah and Kevin Pietersen initially found it difficult to get their timing as 101 were needed from 12.

Herschelle Gibbs

Gibbs gave South Africa a fine start with some superb strokeplay

But the captain then swiped three successive fours off Jacques Kallis and Shah brought up the fifty partnership from 39 balls with a 90m six as Kallis conceded 20 from his over.

Pietersen helped reduce the requirement to 44 from 38 before he mis-cued to deep mid-wicket, but Flintoff somehow hit some more awesome shots as England achieved a relatively comfortable win in near darkness, despite some regrettable delaying tactics from the South Africans.

The early morning conditions across the south-east had an end of the world air about them, with sombre, dark clouds.

South Africa, crushed by 10 wickets at Trent Bridge and 126 runs in the last game at The Oval must have felt similarly despondent after losing the toss.

Pietersen had no hesitation in bowling first given the moisture around and the prospect of further interruptions.

But James Anderson and Stuart Broad sent down some loose early deliveries and Gibbs and Amla took full advantage in a strong start by the tourists.

After six overs with the score at 37-0 there was a 49-minute delay, after which Pietersen brought Steve Harmison into the attack.

Harmison looked more like the bowler who previously struggled with the white ball, offering too much width as the stylish Amla carved him away for four boundaries in an over.

Faced with the first difficulties of a magical start to his reign at 66-0, Pietersen was happy to be able to turn to Flintoff, and his all-rounder duly made the breakthrough, albeit not in the customary manner.

Gibbs pushed for a single but Amla was unsure of the run and as both batsmen found themselves at the non-striker’s end, Shah was alert with a direct hit to the opposite set of timbers from mid-on.It was the fourth run-out the South Africans have suffered in the series, and two overs later acting captain Jacques Kallis saw his miserable run continue when he was dismissed for one by the imperious Flintoff, who took 1-8 from his first spell of four overs.

Kallis stood his ground and appeared incensed when given out by the third umpire, but there appeared little doubt either that he had edged in flat-footed fashion or that the ball had carried through low to Prior.

AB de Villiers played a curiously disjointed innings and Samit Patel was rewarded for some tight slow left-arm as he holed out to the impenetrable hands of Flintoff at deep mid-wicket.

JP Duminy dented his figures somewhat, launching a straight six and then adopting a Pietersen-style switch hit for four more.

He shared 42 in as many balls with Gibbs before failing to control Flintoff’s bouncer and top-edging a hook to mid-wicket.

Gibbs departed in the next over, the 29th, moving across his stumps to try to glance Broad, but edging onto his pad and then the stumps.

The South Africans were able to add 25 in 3.5 overs, Flintoff collecting his third wicket when Vernon Philander sliced to long-off, but although the umpires were keen to complete the innings, the rain was too heavy and the innings had to end five balls before it was due to.

That might well have been the end of proceedings, but the space age Lord’s drainage gave the crowd some superb late evening entertainment and kept England’s dream alive.

August 19, 2008

Florida braced for tropical storm

Florida braced for tropical storm


The US state of Florida is braced for Tropical Storm Fay, which is thought to have claimed dozens of lives on its rampage through the Caribbean.

Forecasters warned Fay could reach hurricane force as it approached the Florida peninsula.

The storm’s center has already crossed Florida Key West with winds near 60mph (97km/h), flooding some roads.

Florida’s Governor Charlie Crist warned that Fay threatened a “major disaster”, but he insisted the state was prepared.

With a state of emergency in place, Mr Crist said some 500 national guard members had been deployed, with another 8,500 on standby.

The US National Hurricane Center said the storm still had the potential to top sustained winds of 74 mph (119 km/h) by the time it hits the west coast of Florida early on Tuesday.

Across Florida at least 22 school districts, a number of colleges and a university have canceled classes.

NOAA satellite image showing tropical storm Fay over Cuba (17 August 2008)
Sea surface temperatures above 26.5C (79.7F)
A pre-existing weather disturbance
Moisture in the atmosphere
Favourable conditions, such as light winds or weak wind shear

Residents of Miami have been stocking up on bottled water, fuel and other vital supplies.

The main highway linking the Keys to the mainland was choked with traffic on Sunday as thousands of tourists evacuated.

But not everyone was hunkering down – hundreds of surfers flocked to Miami beaches to take advantage of the huge swells created by the storm.

In Cuba, Fay caused some flooding and damaged a number of homes, although no deaths were reported.

But a number of lives were lost in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

The worst incident was in Haiti, where a truck carrying up to 80 passengers plunged into a swollen river.

Officials there said more than half the passengers were missing, with many feared drowned.

Fay is the sixth tropical storm of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season.

Two of the tropical storms so far, Bertha and Dolly, have reached hurricane strength.

Has Tropical Storm Fay affected you? Are you in Florida preparing for the storm to hit? Send us your comments

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