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Found 23 results

  1. A wild wolf has been found in the northern Belgian region of Flanders for the first time in more than a century, an environmental group said Saturday. Photo: AFP file BRUSSELS: A wild wolf has been found in the northern Belgian region of Flanders for the first time in more than a century, an environmental group said Saturday. "Our country was the only one in continental Europe to have not been visited by a wolf," since the animal began recolonising the continent, Landschap said. Overhunting, industrialisation and urban sprawl progressively led to the disappearance of the wolf from most of Western Europe since the beginning of the 20th century. Since the Bern Convention of 1979, the wolf has gone from public enemy to a protected species as "a fundamental element of our natural European heritage". In some countries, like Romania and Poland where there have always been wolves, people adapt to treat an attack on sheep "like an accident, like a flock that falls into a ravine", says Farid Benhammou, a specialist on predators. But in the new zones of wolf colonisation ? in France and in some regions of Italy and Spain ? there are major tensions, with farmers particularly unhappy at their re-emergence. The wolf detected in Flanders in early January had an electronic tracker collar around its neck which allowed it to be identified as coming from neighbouring Germany. The same animal had been spotted around Christmas in the Netherlands, according to Landschap. "In recent days the wolf has stayed near the Flemish town of Beringen and the military base at Leopoldsburg. The animal has covered 500 kilometres (300 miles) in ten days," the group said. In 2011 hidden cameras picked up images at night of what was very likely a wolf in the Ardennes region of southern Belgium. But without any DNA traces, or any further appearances, the sighting could not be confirmed. Groups in support of biodiversity welcomed the latest news of a wolf detected in Belgium, calling on the government to adopt a strategy to encourage the return of the species to the country on a more permanent basis, including compensation to farmers whose livestock are attacked.
  2. A person walks with their face covered on a cold day in Quebec City, Canada, December 27, 2017. AFP/Alice Chiche OTTAWA: A homeless man froze to death at a bus stop in Ohio and people in Pennsylvania resorted to a bulldozer to clear snow Wednesday, as an Arctic snap gripped most of Canada and the northern United States. In Canada, extreme cold warnings were issued for scores of communities across the country, including the heavily-populated provinces of Ontario and Quebec. In the United States, a homeless man froze to death at a bus stop in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio, local media said, quoting police and a homeless charity. While Toronto reported temperatures of minus 15 C (5 F) and Ottawa minus 25 C, the coldest spot in Canada was minus 42.8 C in Armstrong, Ontario, according to Environment Canada. Extreme cold warnings are issued "when very cold temperatures or wind chill creates an elevated risk to health such as frost bite and hypothermia," the government agency said. The temperatures were 10 to 20 degrees below what is normal for the season, said meteorologist Alexandre Parent with Environment Canada. The deep cold is forecast to remain until early January, he said. "In my memory I have never seen cold weather that settles for such a long time in such a broad expanse," Parent said. High winds of up to 120 kilometers (76 miles) per hour linked to the low temperatures have left almost 160,000 homes in the eastern province of Nova Scotia -- almost one-third of the power company´s customers -- without electricity, officials said. In the United States, brutal sub-zero temperatures were recorded in places like Duluth, Minnesota (minus 37.7 C) on Tuesday, and Minot, North Dakota (minus 29 C). Record snowfall in Erie A storm dumped a record-breaking five feet (nearly 1.5 meters) of snow in a 48-hour period on the Pennsylvania city of Erie, forcing officials to declare an emergency. "The snow´s been crazy, oh my gosh, tons of snow. Running out of places to put it," said Tom Nowosielski, whose department store was doing a brisk trade in shovels, road salt, and car tire chains. He said he planned to use a bulldozer to help a family member clear his driveway. "That´s a first for us," he said. Residents shared stunning photos of the whiteout on social media, with meteorologists attributing the 58 inches (147 centimeters) of snow that fell over Christmas Day, Monday, to Tuesday evening to icy winds blowing over the adjoining Lake Erie, one of North America´s Great Lakes. More snow was expected at a rate of up to an inch or two per hour as residents were warned to stay off the roads. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced that the National Guard was "providing high clearance all-terrain military vehicles to aid local agencies with medical emergency and law enforcement response." According to data from the National Weather Service, the 34 inches of snow that fell on December 25 was the highest the city had ever recorded, eclipsing the previous high of 20 inches on November 22, 1956. Erie has received 97 inches of snow in December, making it the snowiest month in the city´s history -- which usually averages about 100 inches of snow in an entire season. In Minot, whose Air Force base houses a battery of Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles, the air was so cold that residents said it hurt simply to breathe in. "The air hurts your face. And it hurts to breathe. Your skin instantly steams when you go outside," said Morgan Alonia, 27, manager of the Broadway Bean and Bagel cafe. "If you put your hand out the door, your hand will steam," he said. "We took a pot of boiling water outside yesterday, and threw it in the air and made snow." Unusually low temperatures were also recorded in the US northern Atlantic states. In New York, weather authorities told residents to expect temperatures of between minus 12.7 C and minus 6.6 C through Saturday, which they described as "well below the normal," and Governor Andrew Cuomo warned residents to prepare for "dangerously cold weather ahead."
  3. Snowfall in northern Pakistan KARACHI: A new wave of cold is expected to hit the metropolis from Wednesday, as snow and rain continue in the north of the country. According to the Meteorological Department, cold winds from Siberia will start blowing in the city from tomorrow, bringing a fresh wave of cold which will persist through the week. Minimum temperature recorded in Karachi today was 10.5 degrees Celsius. Snowfall continued in Murree and surrounding areas overnight, with snow levels recorded at 4 inches. Snow and rain continued in the mountains of Azad Kashmir and Diamer. Intermittent rain was recorded in Chilas. More rain-thunderstorm with snowfall over the hills is expected at scattered places in upper Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, upper FATA, Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, and at isolated places in upper Punjab (Rawalpindi, Lahore, Gujranwala, Sargodha divisions) and Islamabad, the Met Office said. Cold and dry weather is expected elsewhere in the country. Foggy conditions are likely over plain areas of Punjab and upper Sindh during morning hours. Today?s lowest temperatures were recorded in Quetta, Skardu, Kalat (-07°C), Dalbandin (-04°C) and Parachinar (-03°C). Fog envelopes parts of Punjab Fog enshrouded parts of Multan, Gojra, Chiniot, Chichawatni, Pakpattan, Sadiqabad and nearby areas early Tuesday morning. Visibility suffered on the National Highway. According to a Motorway spokesperson, visibility was reduced to zero to 30 metres on the route from Chichawatni and Multan to Sadiqabad. Authorities have warned against unnecessary travel due to the persisting fog. Travelers are advised to switch on fog lights to avoid any untoward incident.
  4. A Turkish F-16 fighter jet takes off from Incirlik airbase in the southern city of Adana, Turkey, July 27, 2015. ? Reuters FILE ISTANBUL: Turkish warplanes hit Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets in northern Iraq on Monday and killed 29 of the group?s militants, Turkey?s armed forces said. The PKK fighters were believed to be preparing an attack on Turkish border posts from the Hakurk and Metina regions of northern Iraq, the army said in a written statement. Several caves and shelters used by the militants were destroyed in the air strikes, it said. The PKK, which has been waging an insurgency in southeast Turkey since the 1980s, is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. The conflict has claimed lives of more than 40,000 people.
  5. LONDON: The heaviest snowfall in four years in Britain caused travel mayhem Sunday, while more than 300 flights were canceled in Germany´s busiest airport and a ferry ran aground in the French port of Calais. Hundreds of air passengers were stranded in Frankfurt, Germany´s financial capital, as well as Britain, and many took to Twitter to complain. Some 330 flights were canceled by 5:00 pm (1600 GMT) after heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures struck the region around Frankfurt, a spokesman for airport operator Fraport told AFP. The airport -- Germany´s largest air hub and the home base for major carrier Lufthansa -- had been scheduled to handle a total of 1,260 flights over the day. Elsewhere in the country, Duesseldorf airport was forced to close for four hours during the afternoon, news agency DPA reported. Meanwhile, trains were delayed, redirected or cancelled across western North Rhine-Westphalia state. ´Like a war zone´ In Britain, Birmingham airport, serving the country´s second biggest city, suspended flights for all of Sunday morning, as staff worked to clear the runway in heavy snow. The airport typically handles around 30,000 passengers and 200 flights a day in December. It diverted 11 flights elsewhere and expected to cancel more than that, a spokeswoman said. London´s Luton Airport closed its runway for two hours before reopening around 1130 GMT to departing aircraft, according to a spokesman. It had opened to incoming flights by early afternoon. One frustrated traveler described the airport as "like a war zone". Police forces in worst-hit Wales and central England urged motorists not to travel unless "absolutely necessary" as they dealt with surging calls. A spokesman for the Highways England agency said there had been road incidents "all over the place". The flurries continued to fall into the afternoon, threatening to block roads. Swathes of Britain were hit by the snowfall, particularly in central and western regions, according to the country´s official weather service. Sennybridge, in Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales, topped the records with 30 cm, while Coleshill, close to Birmingham, received 10 cm, it reported. Meanwhile, light snow and sleet fell through the morning in London, leaving Northolt, on the outskirts of the capital, with a covering of 2 cm, the Met Office said. "We´ve gone through the worst of it," said Oli Claydon, a spokesman, in the early afternoon. Most areas impacted would have a "bright, sunny start to Monday," he added. Claydon said the last time Britain saw this much heavy snow nationwide was March, 2013, and during the winter of 2010. Ferry runs aground In France, a ferry with more than 300 people on board ran aground in high winds in Calais, interrupting traffic in one of Europe´s busiest passenger ports but causing no injuries. Having been stranded for several hours, the P&O vessel was secured and passengers were finally able to disembark after they were given food and drinks. The ferry, The Pride of Kent, ran aground around noon after it hit a gangway while making to leave for Dover, its destination in Britain. The ship was also transporting 74 lorries, a coach and 36 other vehicles. Five tug boats were used in the operation to free the vessel, as winds gusting at up to 110 kilometers (70 miles) per hour made the task difficult. In France, 32 departments were placed on orange alert with winds of more than 100 kilometers forecast in some areas. In the northern Pas-de-Calais and Nord regions, some 20,000 homes were without electricity due to gale-force winds which affected supply, power provider Enedis said. Heavy rain also led to the closure of two airports in the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, including the one serving the capital Ajaccio.
  6. British Prime Minister Theresa May arrives for a meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk (not in the picture) in Brussels, Belgium, December 4, 2017. REUTERS LONDON: Britain said it was a confident of a deal on Brexit just hours after a tentative agreement with the European Union over the Irish border was dashed by Prime Minister Theresa May?s kingmakers in Belfast. After a tumultuous day which saw a choreographed attempt to showcase the progress of Brexit talks thwarted at the last minute, May will try to gauge on Tuesday what her supporters in Northern Ireland?s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) might accept. May, who is now scrambling to thrash out a deal with the EU while keeping the DUP, which props up her minority government, and her own party onside, may return to Brussels as early as Wednesday to continue talks, a Downing Street official said. ?We?re very confident that we will be able to move this forward,? finance minister Philip Hammond said as he arrived for a meeting with EU counterparts in Brussels. ?Discussions are going on right now and will go on throughout the day,? Hammond said. A European Commission spokesman said it was ready to resume Brexit negotiations as soon as London signals it is ready. Brexit minister David Davis will respond in parliament to an urgent question on the negotiations from the opposition Labour party at 1230 GMT. May wants the EU to open the so-called second phase of Brexit negotiations, about the trading relationship after the United Kingdom?s withdrawal at 2300 GMT on March 29, 2019. But the EU will only move to trade talks if there is enough progress on three key issues: the money Britain must pay to the EU; rights for EU citizens in Britain and British citizens in the EU; and how to avoid a hard border with Ireland. Sterling fell by a cent against the dollar on Monday after hopes of a deal were disappointed and was a further 0.5 percent lower at $1.3414 on Tuesday. Ireland All sides say they want to avoid a return to a hard border between EU member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland, which might upset the peace established after decades of violence. But they have found it difficult to find a way to satisfy both the Irish government and DUP lawmakers who say Northern Ireland must quit the EU on the same terms as the rest of the UK. That includes leaving the single market and customs union, which is May?s official policy but complicates the border issue. A tentative deal on the border, promising ?regulatory alignment? on both sides of the island of Ireland, was agreed on Monday when May sat down to lunch with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker but later rejected by the DUP. The DUP says it cannot allow any divergence in regulation between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who has been tipped as a potential future leader of May?s party, said that one way to solve the riddle would be for the whole country to remain in the single market and customs union. ?If regulatory alignment in a number of specific areas is the requirement for a frictionless border then the prime minister should conclude this must be on a UK-wide basis,? Davidson said. Her comments were retweeted by DUP leader Arlene Foster.
  7. ANKARA: The Turkish armed forces on Wednesday claimed to have killed over 80 "terrorists" after air strikes on Kurdish militant positions in northern Iraq. The military said there were also "several" injured members of the "separatist terrorist organisation" - Turkey's official term for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - after the strikes in the Asos region on Monday. It was not possible to independently verify the toll. The strikes also damaged a PKK shelter, tunnel and hideout, the armed forces said, adding it destroyed a large ammunition store and two armoured vehicles. The PKK has waged an insurgency inside Turkey since 1984 and is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. Following the collapse of a two-year ceasefire in 2015, Turkish military operations against the PKK intensified in southeastern Turkey. Turkey also regularly conducts air raids against PKK militants who have rear bases in the Qandil mountain area of Iraq, while Turkish ground troops sometimes stage incursions into the area. Last month four Turkish soldiers were killed in northern Iraq in two separate attacks blamed on the PKK.
  8. Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. Photo: File YANGON: Myanmar?s leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrived on her first visit to conflict-battered northern Rakhine State on Thursday, an official said, an unannounced trip to an area that has seen most of its Rohingya Muslim population forced out by an army campaign. Suu Kyi, a nobel laureate who leads Myanmar?s pro-democracy party, has been hammered by the international community for failing to use her moral power to speak up in defence of the Rohinyga. Around 600,000 of the stateless minority have fled to Bangladesh since late August carrying accounts of murder, rape and arson at the hands of the Myanmar?s army, after militant raids sparked a ferocious military crackdown. The UN says that crackdown is tantamount to ethnic cleansing, while pressure has mounted on Myanmar to provide security for the Rohingya and allow people to return home. "The state counsellor (Suu Kyi´s official title) is now in Sittwe and will go to Maungdaw and Buthiduang too. It will be a day trip," government spokesperson Zaw Htay told AFP, mentioning two of the epicentres of the violence but without elaborating on her schedule. It is her first trip in office to northern Rakhine, which has hosted the worst of the communal violence that has cut through the western state since 2012, severely damaging Myanmar?s global reputation. It was not clear if Suu Kyi would visit the hundreds of Rohinyga villages torched by the army ? allegedly aided by ethnic Rakhine Buddhist locals ? or if she would be taken to see remaining clusters of the Muslim group, who are living in fear and hunger surrounded by hostile neighbours. Thousands of others are believed to still be camped on a beach near Maungdaw awaiting boats to Bangladesh in increasingly parlous conditions. The Rohingya are hated in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where they are denied citizenship and widely dismissed as illegal "Bengali" immigrants. Observers say Suu Kyi has chosen not to criticise the army in fear of a backlash from a powerful institution that controls all security matters. The plight of the Rohingya also garners little sympathy inside Myanmar, making any defence of the minority a politically unpopular cause amid surging Buddhist nationalist sentiment. Suu Kyi heads a committee charged with rebuilding Rakhine and repatriating Rohingya from Bangladesh who meet strict criteria for re-entry to Myanmar. On Wednesday, the government spokesperson accused Bangladesh of delaying the start of repatriation. Dhaka has yet to send an official list of the Rohingya who have fled since August 25, he told AFP. The Rohingya have packed into makeshift camps on a poor, already overcrowded slip of border land inside Bangladesh. Aid groups say the risk of major outbreaks of disease is high while they struggle to deliver food and basic supplies to the unprecedented number of refugees.
  9. An armoured personnel carrier of The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) is parked in Timbuktu, September 19, 2016. AFP/Sebastien Rieussec/Files ABIDJAN: Three United Nations soldiers were killed and two others wounded by an explosive device as they were escorting a convoy in northern Mali on Thursday, the peacekeeping mission in the West African nation said. More than 80 members of the UN mission ? known as MINUSMA ? have been killed since 2013 in attacks by militant groups active in the country?s north and centre. The mission said in a statement that the peacekeepers? vehicle struck the explosive device between the northern towns of Tessalit and Aguelhok around 2:30 PM (7:30 PM GMT). It did not identify the nationalities of the soldiers involved. ?I condemn with the greatest energy such abject acts, whose only objective is to destabilize the country and harm the peace process underway in Mali,? said interim mission chief Koen Davidse. The rise of extremist groups ? some linked to al Qaeda and Daesh ? in the arid Sahel has alarmed Western powers like France, which has deployed thousands of troops to the region in response. Four US Special Forces troops were killed earlier this month in neighbouring Niger by fighters believed to belong to a local Daesh affiliate operating out of Mali.
  10. Saint-Omer has become a rare centre of cricketing excellence in a country where football and rugby dominate-Reuters SAINT-OMER, FRANCE: On a rugby field overlooked by a towering cathedral, a group of young refugees has introduced a small northern French town to the beautiful game of... cricket. Saint-Omer lies 40 kilometres (25 miles) south of the Channel port of Calais, the main launchpad for attempts by migrants to smuggle themselves into England. As in many western European towns and cities, the integration of migrants is creating new challenges. But thanks to its new arrivals, Saint-Omer has become a rare centre of cricketing excellence in a country where football and rugby dominate. The town broke new ground in September when a group of Afghan and Pakistani refugees wearing the colours of the Saint-Omer Cricket Club Stars (Soccs) brought home the regional Hauts-de-France cricket title. "I didn´t know people played cricket in France!" said Ataullah Otmankhil, a devotee of the sport from northern Afghanistan with short, gelled hair and a trim beard. When the athletic 21-year-old set out from his war-torn country for Europe "on foot, by train, truck, car, you name it", his heart was set on reaching England. But his dreams of starting a new life in the home of Lord´s Cricket Ground came crashing down on the shores of the Channel. Day after day for six months he tried to clamber aboard a truck heading across the sea from Calais -- to no avail. ´Like family´ When the squalid and sprawling, informal "Jungle" migrant camp was dismantled in Calais last year, and its occupants relocated around the country, Otmankhil was placed with a host family and began studying to become an electrician. Picking up a bat again brings back memories of home, he said -- a sentiment echoed by his 16-year-old Afghan teammate Oriakhil Shahid. About 30 refugees, all from either Afghanistan or Pakistan whose ages range from 15 to 32, have joined the club, which has yet to attract any locals among its members. For Oriakhil, one of the youngest, the club is "like family". "It´s for everybody, French, Afghan and others." But the sight of foreigners dashing around the rugby field, bats in hand, has not gladdened the hearts of all in this town of 16,000 souls, situated in the northern heartland of the anti-immigration National Front. "Sometimes I get insults, aimed at me personally or the club," said Nicolas Rochas, one of a handful of volunteers who is trying to help the migrants integrate. The pressure to ensure the players are above reproach at all times is acute. "As a club with young refugees we have an even greater duty to be exemplary on and off the pitch," he admitted. So far the efforts of both volunteers and players appear to be bearing fruit. All the team members have a roof over their heads, are either working or in school and wear their club´s navy jersey with its crest of crossed bats with pride. Less than a year after being created, the club managed to win the regional title giving the players a pass into France´s third division. Despite the opportunity however, the Soccs have decided to stay out of the big league for now. They want to up their game first, starting by having a proper cricket ground slated for early 2018. Taking their adopted town to regional glory has already given the players a confidence boost. Rochas, who had to learn cricket on the fly, hopes it will endure. "The challenge for every sporting association is to last over the years. Our players are young, which is an advantage. The disadvantage is that cricket is a relatively unknown sport (in France)," he said. Oriakhil is hopeful that further glory lies ahead. "We will play well, God willing," he said.
  11. Flames overtake homes and vehicles as multiple wind-driven fires whip through the Napa wine region in California. Photo: AFP Buildings in California?s Napa and Sonoma counties were being evacuated early on Monday morning after multiple, fast-spreading wildfires engulfed the area with thick smoke and large flames, according to fire officials and local media. Firefighters were battling a 200-acre (80.9-hectare) wildfire in Napa County, an area nearly 70 miles north of San Francisco that is known for its vineyards, since late Sunday evening, according to the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The ?Atlas Fire? was burning in the hills above Napa County and had damaged several buildings. As of Monday morning, firefighters had made no headway containing it. Videos and photos on social media showed fires raging in the hills above Napa Valley. Photo: AFP At least three other fires were burning near Calistoga, a small Napa Valley city known for its wineries, and near areas in Sonoma County, forcing evacuations from homes, shopping centers and hospitals, according to the Napa County Sheriff?s Office. Videos and photos on social media showed fires raging in the hills above Napa Valley, burning their way through vegetation, buildings, roads and some parked vehicles. Reports of injuries were not immediately clear. In Sonoma County, the fire also forced all schools in Santa Rosa City to close for the day. Photo:AFP Officials said strong, dry winds were fanning the flames and asked residents in mandatory evacuation zones to leave immediately for the four local shelters, according to reports by NBC Bay Area. In Sonoma County, the fire also forced all schools in Santa Rosa City to close for the day. The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory warning late on Sunday until Monday at 11 a.m. PDT (1800 GMT). It said it expected winds at 20 to 35 miles (32 to 56 km) per hour and gusts of at least 45 mph. Patients at Kaiser Hospital in Santa Rosa were being removed early Monday morning, according to NBC Bay Area reporter Laura Garcia. ?Gurneys being brought out, people in wheelchairs and walkers loaded in cars,? Garcia wrote on Twitter.
  12. Germany qualified for the World Cup in style on Thursday when superb early strikes from Sebastian Rudy and Sandro Wagner set them on the way to a 3-1 win in Northern Ireland that maintained their perfect record in Group C. Rudy fired a remarkable outswinging shot from long-range past Michael McGovern after two minutes and Wagner scored with another emphatic effort in the 21st as the world champions clocked up their ninth successive win to move on to 27 points. Joshua Kimmich added a third in the 86th minute as the hosts? run of five successive wins was brought to an abrupt halt. Josh Maggenis scored a consolation in stoppage-time. Northern Ireland have 19 points from nine games and had already made sure of a two-top finish before the match. However, they are still not certain of finishing as one of the eight best runners-up up in the nine European groups. The group winners qualify directly for Russia along with four winners of the playoffs which involve the eight best runners-up. ?I?m satisfied. We scored and early goal and then controlled the game, like we wanted to,? said Germany coach Joachim Loew, whose side have scored 38 goals and conceded three in qualifying. Northern Ireland had won their first four home games in the group without conceding a goal but that record was quickly ended by Rudy?s thumping effort. The hosts, backed by a boisterous crowd, were repeatedly exposed and McGovern made a superb save at point-blank range to keep out a Sandro Wagner header three minutes later. Wagner headed against the post from Kimmich?s pinpoint cross before being rewarded with Germany?s second goal, collecting Thomas Mueller?s pass with his back to goal before turning and firing a left-foot shot past a shell-shocked McGovern. Germany goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen was tested once in the first half when he dived at the feet of Corry Evans after he got free in the area. ?This was a bonus game for us, it could have gone to 4-0 or 5-0 but we kept out goal difference in a healthy state,? said Northern Ireland coach Michael O?Neill. ?It could easily have been obliterated.? The hosts put Germany under more pressure in the second half and the best chance fellow to Conor Washington who clipped the bar from an excellent position. Kimmich fired the third for Germany, although they were denied a clean sheet Maggenis?s goal, which left the home crowd celebrating as if their team had won.
  13. DOHA: Qatar Airways is cancelling flights to Kurdish northern Iraq from Sept 29 to Oct 1 at the request of Iraq´s Civil Aviation Authority, the carrier said on its website on Thursday. The flights to and from Erbil and Sulaymaniyah have been cancelled after Iraqi authorities said all international air traffic would be suspended from Friday to those airports, the statement said. Lebanon´s and Egypt´s national carriers also said earlier they will halt flights to the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital Arbil this week at the request of the Baghdad authorities. Their decision comes after Iraq´s government threatened to ban international flights to and from Iraqi Kurdistan after the region held an independence referendum on Monday. Lebanon´s Middle East Airlines and EgyptAir both said their flights to and from Arbil would be affected. MEA chairman Mohammed al-Hout confirmed "the suspension of all flights to and from Arbil from Friday, upon the request of the Iraqi aviation authorities for the halt of all international fights to and from the airport." In a statement, EgyptAir also said its flights would halt from Friday "until further notice." Iraqi Kurdish leader says 'yes' vote won independence referendum Kurds consider referendum to be an historic step in a generations-old quest for a state of their own The transport minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Mawloud Bawah Murad, expressed bafflement at the move by Baghdad. "Arbil and Sulaimaniyah airports were built from the budget of the Kurdistan government," he told a press conference in Arbil. "We want more clarifications from the Iraqi government on its demand to hand them the two airports, because we don´t understand how to give them the two airports, when they are already subject to the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority.? Baghdad has reacted with anger to Monday´s Kurdish independence vote, saying there would be no negotiations on wider autonomy for the Kurds in its wake.
  14. A man wearing a respiratory protection mask walks toward an office building during the smog after a red alert was issued for heavy air pollution in Beijing's central business district, China, December 21, 2016. Photo: Reuters File SHANGHAI: Air pollution caused by coal-fired winter heating has slashed life expectancy in northern China by more than three years compared with the south, according to a new study, underlining the urgency of Beijing?s efforts to tackle smog. Researchers with the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) said average lifespans north of the Huai river, where China supplies mostly coal-fired winter heat, were 3.1 years lower than in the south, which is not covered by the state heating policy. EPIC?s study cites long-term smog exposure as a primary cause of the difference. In a statement, EPIC said its study examined pollution and mortality data in 154 cities from 2004 to 2012, and found higher death rates were due entirely to increases in cardiorespiratory illnesses. EPIC didn?t give an absolute number for average life expectancy but said its study was the first to focus on differences in air quality north and south of the Huai river. ?We know on highly polluted days more people die and more people are sick, but what this study helps to isolate are the consequences of long-run sustained exposure,? said Michael Greenstone, EPIC director and one of the report?s authors. China is in the fourth year of a ?war on pollution? designed to reverse the damage done by decades of untrammelled economic growth and allay concerns that hazardous smog and widespread water and soil contamination are causing hundreds of thousands of early deaths every year. People make their way through heavy smog on an extremely polluted day with red alert issued, in Shengfang, Hebei province, China December 19, 2016. Photo: Reuters File According to EPIC, if China were to comply with World Health Organization air quality standards, its people could live 3.5 years longer on average. EPIC said its study was able to isolate the impact of air pollution on health in northern China versus the south. Every 10 micrograms per cubic meter of additional long-term exposure to smog particles cuts life expectancy by 0.6 years, the study found. Average readings of PM2.5 pollution - breathable airborne particles of less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter - stood at 45 micrograms per cubic meter in China from January to July, with the northern Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region reaching 69 micrograms. The national standard is 35 micrograms. Beijing has promised to impose tough industrial and traffic curbs this winter and is also in the process of shutting thousands of coal-fired boilers. The government has acknowledged pollution is a health hazard but researchers have said more data was needed to understand its full effects, especially when it comes to the specific role it plays in diseases like lung cancer. ?We have enough evidence for the short-term effects of air pollution, but for long-term health, it is far from sufficient,? said Kan Haidong, a professor at the School of Public Health at Fudan University in Shanghai, adding that the government has recently commissioned new studies. Kan wasn?t involved in the EPIC work but has worked on his own pollution studies. ?In the next five years, there is going to be more and more evidence linking air pollution with health in China,? he said.
  15. The wreckage of a bus lies in a gorge following an accident near the Indian town of Rampur/AFP SHIMLA: At least 28 people were killed Thursday after a bus plunged into a deep gorge in a Himalayan region of northern India popular with tourists, police said. The accident occurred around 100 kilometres (62 miles) from the hill resort of Shimla in Himachal Pradesh state, said police superintendent Soumiya Sambasivan. "28 people have died and seven are injured. All the bodies have been identified," she said. The bus was taking around 40 people from Kinnaur district towards Solan when it rolled roughly 200 metres down a gorge to the banks of a river river. Images from the scene showed emergency workers conducting a rescue operation with the help of local volunteers. Last week, 16 pilgrims died in a bus crash in neighbouring Jammu and Kashmir state, while in April 44 people were killed in Himachal Pradesh in a similar accident. India has some of the world´s highest traffic fatalities with more than 150,000 deaths annually due to poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving.
  16. ISLAMABAD: Earthquake tremors were felt in different cities of Pakistan on Saturday afternoon. According to sources, tremors were felt in Abbotabad, Islamabad, Muzzafarabad and the Neelum Valley. At present the intensity of the tremors is not known. Note: This story will be updated as fresh details are received. Please refresh your browser for the latest version of this story.
  17. MEXICO CITY, July 5 (Reuters) - At least 26 people died in a shootout in the northern Mexican border state of Chihuahua early on Wednesday, according to a spokesman from that state´s attorney general´s office. The incident, which took place near the rural community of Las Varas, involved two armed groups, and the number of dead could rise, spokesman Felix Gonzalez told Reuters.
  18. Two children carrying explosives blew themselves up on Friday near a camp in northern Cameroon housing civilians displaced by Nigeria's Boko Haram militants, killing nine people and wounding 30, officials said. They entered the town of Kolofata, around 10 km (6 miles) from the border with Nigeria, before dawn, posing as refugees looking for food before the start of the daytime fast for Ramadan. "Two suicide bomber adolescents aged between 10 and 15 years infiltrated the town of Kolofata," Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary told state radio, adding that both had detonated their explosives. "The death toll is 1l, including the two suicide bombers, and 30 wounded, of which 10 are seriously wounded," he added. A local government official said the 10 gravely wounded had been transported to a hospital in a nearby town. "It was unbearable. People were screaming. Others were moaning. It was total horror," said a policeman present at the scene of the bombing. Northern Cameroon has in recent years suffered from the overflow of violence linked to Nigeria's Boko Haram insurgents. Nigerian refugees have flooded across the border and local residents have been forced to flee their homes. Boko Haram launches frequent cross-border raids in its bid to carve out a caliphate. Its eight-year insurgency has killed more than 20,000 people in the Lake Chad region and, according to the latest UN refugee agency figures, displaced 2.7 million. The agency said on Friday it was "stepping up its response as large numbers of refugees return from Cameroon to north-eastern Nigeria," including some 12,000 in May, often returning home to very harsh, unsanitary conditions. Villages and towns in the area have regularly been targeted by bombers. The officials said that Friday's bombing came a day after two young girls detonated their explosives in the nearby village of Djakana, killing themselves and lightly injuring two members of a local civilian self-defense force. Kolofata has repeatedly been struck in the past, including one attack that killed nine people in September 2015. Nigeria's army has retaken much of the territory once occupied by Boko Haram, and a military coalition of regional neighbours has helped fight the insurgents across the borders in Niger, Chad and Cameroon. The Cameroonian government has deployed thousands of soldiers, including elite units, to the Far North region.
  19. The weather in most parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Gilgit Baltistan was pleasant with light rain, while the temperature in many areas of Sindh and Balochistan remained high on Monday. In Islamabad and Rawalpindi, cool breeze accompanied by light showers greeted locals to a cloudy morning. In Lahore and adjoining areas, the previous day's rain kept the mercury low, while drizzle is forecast for the evening, according to the Met department. At least two millimetres of rain was recorded in the city on Sunday. On the other hand, the weather remained scorching hot in many parts of Sindh. In Jacobabad, routine life was reported to have slowed down as people avoided going out under the blazing sun, especially after noon. The temperature in Jacobabad can soar up to 52 degrees Celsius in the summer.
  20. NAIROBI: Like many guys using the Tinder dating app, Sudan loves the outdoors and travels widely. The catch: he's the world's last male white northern rhino and desperately needs to mate. "I don't mean to be too forward, but the fate of my species literally depends on me," reads his profile. "I perform well under pressure. I like to eat grass and chill in the mud. No problems. 6 feet tall and 5,000 pounds if it matters." Conservationists are hoping that Sudan's Tinder profile will help them raise enough money for $9-million fertility treatment as all attempts at getting him to mate naturally have failed. Scientists would use Sudan's sperm to fertilise an egg from one of the two last northern white rhino females: 17-year-old Satu or 27-year-old Najin. The embryo will be implanted in a surrogate southern white rhino, a far more common species. "We tried everything to get them to mate naturally," said Elodie Sampere, the marketing manager at Kenya's Ol Pejeta conservancy, where all three white rhinos are accompanied by 24-hour armed guards. "When he first tried to mount the girl, the rangers guided him ... but it is difficult with a rhino," she said. "We removed them from a zoo environment, which was not conducive to natural instincts, and put them in a semi-wild environment. There were a couple of matings, but it never resulted in a pregnancy." Poachers sell northern white rhinos horns for $50,000 per kilo, making them more valuable than gold or cocaine, and his keepers fear that Sudan, who at 43 is ancient for a rhino, may die or be killed before they can raise enough money. "There's always that fear. He's old, he might die soon," said rhino expert Richard Vigne, the CEO of Ol Pejeta. "As long as the demand for rhino horn in the Far East persists, there will always be an ever-present threat." A swipe right on Sudan's Tinder profile - available in 190 countries and 40 languages - directs users to the Ol Pejeta donation page: Just hours after he went online, the number of hits was so high that the Ol Pejeta website crashed.
  21. At least three Afghan army soldiers were killed and several wounded on Friday when Taliban gunmen attacked a military headquarters in northern Afghanistan, officials said. The attack occurred near a mosque on the base in Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province, as soldiers were leaving Friday prayers, according to an army officer who asked not to be named as he was not authorised to speak publicly. The Western-backed Afghan government is locked in a prolonged war with Taliban insurgents as well as other militant groups. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the fighters set off an explosion, allowing suicide bombers armed with small arms to breach the base. "Our fighters have inflicted heavy casualties on the Afghan army stationed there," he said. Another army officer reported that the attackers used military uniforms and vehicles to pass three checkpoints before launching their attack. The base is the headquarters for the Afghan National Army's 209th Corps. It covers most of northern Afghanistan, including Kunduz province, which has been the scene of heavy fighting.
  22. Even Stranger Things is a MensXP feature where we look back at some of the most horrifying real-life incidents that gave thousands if not millions sleepless nights over the past few centuries. ********************************************* Week 1: The Zodiac Killer ********************************************* We’d like to start with his name, but unfortunately, he was never identified. It has been more than 40 years since the last time anyone heard from the Zodiac. What we can tell you is why he’s called the Zodiac. It’s his logo. It resembled that of the watchmaker Zodiac. © Facebook, YouTube There is so much information available on this subject that figuring out where to start is quite difficult. There are the list of victims, the modus operandi, the suspects, the cryptograms, the letters, Ted Cruz (yeah, the Republican), and so much more. Making head or tail of this will be impossible without a little back story. So let's start there... © YouTube There's none. Why? No one knows who he is. Haven't you been paying attention? After days of research, the only information we could find about him is the police sketch above. The next logical step would be to visit California. Boss, are you listening? It's for research purposes. Honest! Now, let's go through everything bit by bit: The Victims Although the final letter from the Zodiac claimed he had murdered 37 people, the police have only been able to confirm 5. It's not like the other 32 weren't killed by the Zodiac or that the people arrested remain unidentified. It's just that with so many people claiming to be the Zodiac, finding out who the real one is or was is impossible. He could have been standing right in front of the SFPD's finest, and they wouldn't even have known. © YouTube Confirmed victims include David Arthur Faraday, Betty Lou Jensen, Darlene Elizabeth Ferrin, Cecelia Ann Shepard, and Paul Lee Stine. The Suspects There are 7 people who are suspected of being the Zodiac. Arthur Leigh Allen, Jack Tarrance, Lawrence Kane, Bruce Davis, Richard Marshall, Louie Myers, and Earl Van Best, Jr. have all been suspects at one point or another. There were some other people who were briefly considered suspects but were all dismissed shortly after and we'll ignore them. © wikimedia commons There were a couple of copycats too, Heriberto Seda and Seito Sakakibara. Trust us; you would not want to be alone in a room with any of these guys. © wikimedia commons The Letters & Cryptograms This is what sets the Zodiac killer apart from most other serial killers. He wanted to be popular. His main goal was fame and recognition. He sent multiple letters to the authorities and the press. He even sent a cipher once which could be used to identify him. No one was able to crack it, though. Almost none of his ciphers have been solved definitely. Here’s one of the ciphers. Perhaps you can crack it? © YouTube Modus Operandi The Zodiac targeted Caucasian teenage couples. He killed them when they were in a secluded area using a knife or a 9mm Luger. There was one murder which was a little different though, and that was the Paul Stine murder. First of all, he was alone. Second, he kept a piece of the victim’s bloodied shirt which he later sent to the Press. So apart from the fact that he either stabbed or shot his victims, there's not much more to say. Rumours You think we forgot about Ted Cruz? No, we didn't. This is where he fits into this article. There are multiple theories ranging from the plausible to the unbelievable. Here are a few popular ones: #ZodiacTed There was a period while Ted Cruz was running for the Republican nomination for President when social media started accusing him of being the Zodiac Killer. Although this wouldn't be possible since he was born in 1970, it did make for some awesome online memes. © Twitter 95-Year-Old Man There was a book called ‘The Zodiac Killer Cover-Up’ by Lyndon Lafferty where he, along with a number of other officers of the law claimed that they had discovered who the Zodiac was in 1971. Lafferty died in March 2016 without revealing the identity of the killer. He did say that he was a 95-year-old Solano County resident. Manson Family Member The police looked into any connection between the Manson family and the Zodiac killer. Bruce Davis was the most plausible name that popped up. He was a confirmed member of the Manson family although he hasn't been confirmed as the Zodiac killer. © YouTube Founder of Scientology This is far-fetched, but L. Ron Hubbard might just be the Zodiac killer. Darlene Ferrin, one of the victims, had a sister, Linda, who claimed that Darlene was being stalked by an old man with a short name who loved eating strawberry shortcake. Ron is quite short for a name, and the man loves strawberry shortcake. We don't need more evidence, do we? © wikimedia commons Verdict This is probably one man, the mention of whom would send chills down our spine. What's even freakier is he might still be around. He'd be really old, but when has age stopped anyone? You will think of him the next time you're in a secluded public place with your partner. Not exactly something that would get you in the mood. It's a good thing we don't live in California. Phew.
  23. Travel changes us in so many ways and if you can find someone you like travelling with, hold on to them tightly. They say the true test of a relationship or of a friendship is to travel together. You can’t fake shit when you travel long and hard. Travel can make you fall in love, not just with nature, but with the person who is your travel mate. © Facebook/Dale Photography Dale Sharp, resident of Australia, couldn’t agree more. The Aussie dude proposed to his long-time girlfriend Karlie Russell with the most stunning sight as background. Travelling to the Arctic Circle, the couple got engaged under a surreal sky lit by the northern lights, also called Aurora Borealis. © Facebook/Dale Photography It was a dream come true as Dale had waited 5 years to do this. He told Daily Mail Australia, “I hadn't heard or seen anyone do it before, and I wanted to do something different from everybody else.” The photographer couple had already visited the Northern Lights 30 times together, which made the proposal all the more special. It was their special place. © Facebook/Dale Photography Last year, he had tried to do it when he hid a $4000 ring in his girfriend’s moisturizer bottle. Unfortunately, their baggage weighed over the allowed limit at the airport and Karlie hurled the bottle in the dustbin! The proposal was literally down in the dump, along with the expensive ring that actually belonged to his mother. But those in love never give up, and Dale found his opportunity again. The moment was magical and Karlie gasped to find words when Dale took out the ring, in the backdrop of a glistening sky. A match made in the skies, might we say. © Facebook/Dale Photography Girlfriends are difficult to impress. From giving her thoughtful gifts to actually remembering dates, the challenge is all too real. But guess what the most difficult thing is – proposing her. What if she says no, what if she changes her mind because of the super boring way in which you proposed. Take a cue from Dale Sharp. Nothing bonds two people more than travel.