Connect with us

World

Needle in a haystack found: Australia recovers missing radioactive capsule

Published

on

Needle in a haystack found: Australia recovers missing radioactive capsule

Australian authorities on Wednesday found a radioactive capsule smaller than a coin that was lost in the vast Outback after nearly a week-long search along a 1,400 kilometres (870 miles) stretch of highway, officials said.

The Caesium-137 capsule was discovered when a vehicle travelling at 70 kms per hour equipped with specialist detection equipment picked up the radiation, according to officials from the state of Western Australia.

The search team then used portable detection equipment to find the capsule, which was located about 2 metres from the side of the road, they added.

“I do want to emphasise this is an extraordinary result,” Western Australia’s Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson said in a news conference.

Advertisement

“When you consider the scope of the research area, locating this object was a monumental challenge, the search groups have quite literally found the needle in the haystack,” Dawson said.

The military was verifying the capsule and it would be taken to a secure facility in the city of Perth on Thursday, he added.

Officials from Western Australia’s emergency response department, defence authorities, radiation specialists and others have been combing the a stretch of highway for the tiny capsule that was lost in transit more than two weeks ago.

The radioactive capsule was part of a gauge used to measure the density of iron ore feed from Rio Tinto’s RIO.AX Gudai-Darri mine in the state’s remote Kimberley region. The ore was being taken to a facility in the suburbs of Perth – a distance longer than the length of Great Britain.

Officials said the capsule apparently fell off a truck and landed on the side of the road, adding that it was unlikely there will be contamination in the area.

Advertisement

The silver capsule, 6 mm in diameter and 8 mm long, contains Caesium-137 which emits radiation equal to 10 X-rays per hour.

People had been told to stay at least five metres (16.5 feet) away from the capsule if they spotted it, because exposure could cause radiation burns or radiation sickness. However, driving past it was believed to be relatively low risk, akin to taking an X-ray.

Western Australia’s Chief Health Officer Andrew Robertson said the capsule was found in a remote area far from any community and it was unlikely anyone had been exposed to radiation.

He said there would be an investigation and prosecutions would be considered under state radiation safety laws from 1975.

The maximum penalty for failing to safely handle radioactive substances is A$1,000 and A$50 per day the offence continues, though the state government said on Wednesday it was considering a change to laws to allow for bigger penalties.

Advertisement

World

Hamas hands over two female hostages, others expected after truce extended

Hamas hands over two female hostages, others expected after truce extended

Published

on

By

Hamas hands over two female hostages, others expected after truce extended

Two Israeli women have been handed to the Red Cross in Gaza City, Israel said on Thursday, and further hostages are expected to be released later in the evening, following a last-minute deal struck by Israel and Hamas.

Israel named the women as 21-year-old Mia Schem, who was seized at a dance party along with many of the other hostages abducted into Gaza, and 40-year-old Amit Sosana. Schem also holds French nationality.

The warring sides agreed to extend their ceasefire for a seventh day, while mediators pressed on with talks to extend the truce further to free more hostages and let aid reach Gaza.

The truce has halted bombing and allowed some humanitarian aid into Gaza after much of the coastal territory of 2.3 million people was reduced to wasteland in an Israeli campaign in retaliation for a deadly rampage by Hamas militants on Oct. 7.

Advertisement

The armed wing of Hamas claimed responsibility for a deadly shooting in Jerusalem, which Israel called further proof of the need to destroy the militants, although there were no signs of this scuppering the Gaza truce or release of hostages.

Earlier, Israel, which has demanded Hamas release at least 10 hostages per day to hold the ceasefire, said it received a list at the last minute of those who would go free on Thursday, allowing it to call off plans to resume fighting at dawn.

“In light of the mediators’ efforts to continue the process of releasing the hostages and subject to the terms of the framework, the operational pause will continue,” the Israeli military said in a statement, released minutes before the truce was due to expire at 0500 GMT.

Hamas, which freed 16 hostages on Wednesday while Israel released 30 Palestinian prisoners, also said the truce would continue for a seventh day.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in Israel during his third visit to the Middle East since the war began, said the truce was “producing results. It’s important, and we hope it can continue”.

Advertisement

“We have seen over the last week the very positive development of hostages coming home, being reunited with their families. And that should continue today,” he said. “It’s also enabled an increase in humanitarian assistance to go to innocent civilians in Gaza who need it desperately.”

US officials said Blinken also told the Israelis to ensure the safety of Palestinian civilians once the war resumes.

Egypt’s state media body said Egyptian and Qatari mediators were working to negotiate a further extension of the truce for two days.

So far militants have released 97 hostages during the truce: 70 Israeli women, teenagers and children, each freed in return for three Palestinian women and teenage detainees, plus 27 foreign hostages freed under parallel agreements with their governments.

With fewer Israeli women and children left in captivity, extending the truce could require setting new terms for the release of Israeli men, including soldiers.

Advertisement

THREE KILLED IN JERUSALEM ATTACK

Shortly after the agreement, two Palestinian attackers opened fire at a bus stop during morning rush hour at the entrance to Jerusalem, killing at least three people. Both attackers were “neutralised”, police said.

“This event proves again how we must not show weakness, that we must speak to Hamas only through (rifle) scopes, only through war,” said hard-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir at the site of the attack.

Hamas said the attackers were its members, and its armed wing claimed responsibility for the attack in response “to the occupation’s crimes of killing children and women in Gaza”.

But neither side appeared to treat the attack as an explicit renunciation of the truce. A Palestinian official familiar with the truce talks said its terms did not apply to what he characterised as responses to Israeli attacks in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Advertisement

Israel has sworn to annihilate Hamas, which rules Gaza, in response to the Oct. 7 rampage by the militant group, when Israel says gunmen killed 1,200 people and took 240 hostages.

Until the truce, Israel bombarded the territory for seven weeks. Palestinian health authorities deemed reliable by the United Nations say more than 15,000 Gazans have been confirmed killed, around 40% of them children. A further 6,500 are missing, many feared still buried under rubble.

DESTROYED HOMES

According to the United Nations, up to 80% of Gazans have been forced from their homes, including nearly all residents of the northern half, which Israel ordered completely evacuated. Once the truce is over, Israel is expected to extend its ground campaign into the south.

Gazans have been able to use the week-long truce to venture out, visit abandoned and destroyed homes, and dig scores more bodies out of the wreckage. But residents and international agencies say the aid that has arrived so far is still trivial compared to the besieged enclave’s vast humanitarian needs.

Advertisement

Those who fled the north of the Gaza Strip, including Gaza City, have still been blocked from returning. Many thousands of families are sleeping rough in makeshift shelters with only the belongings they could carry.

“What is a truce that doesn’t bring us back home? Israeli soldiers on tanks fired at us when we tried to go back to check on our homes in Gaza City after we heard it was bombed,” said Mohammad Joudat, 25, a displaced business administration graduate, speaking in Deir al-Balah in the southern Gaza Strip.

The United States, which has strongly backed its ally so far, is urging Israel to narrow the zone of combat and clarify where Palestinian civilians can seek safety during any Israeli operation in southern Gaza, U.S. officials said on Wednesday, to prevent a repeat of the massive death toll so far.

Jordan was hosting a conference attended by the main U.N., regional and international relief agencies on Thursday to coordinate aid to Gaza. 

Advertisement
Continue Reading

World

Man charged with shooting 3 Palestinian college students accused of harassing ex-girlfriend in 2019

Man charged with shooting 3 Palestinian college students accused of harassing ex-girlfriend in 2019

Published

on

By

Man charged with shooting 3 Palestinian college students accused of harassing ex-girlfriend in 2019

The man charged with shooting three college students of Palestinian descent in Vermont last weekend was accused several years ago of harassing an ex-girlfriend in New York state, but no charges were ever filed, according to a police report.

Jason J. Eaton’s ex called police in Dewitt, New York, a town near Syracuse, in 2019 saying she had received numerous text messages, emails and phone calls that were sexual in nature but not threatening from Eaton, and wanted him to stop contacting her, according to a police report obtained by The Associated Press. NBC News first reported on the complaint.

The woman said Eaton had driven his pickup truck by her home that evening and a second time while she was talking to the police officer. She said she didn’t want to press charges against him but just wanted police to tell him to stop contacting her, the report states.

Police pulled over Eaton’s vehicle and he told them that he was under the impression that the woman still wanted to see him, according to the report. The officer told Eaton that the woman wanted absolutely no contact with him and he said he understood, according to police.

Advertisement

Eaton, 48, is currently being held without bail after his arrest Sunday in the city of Burlington on three counts of attempted murder. Authorities say he shot and seriously wounded Hisham Awartani, Kinnan Abdalhamid and Tahseen Ali Ahmad in Burlington on Saturday evening as they were walking near the University of Vermont. The 20-year-old students had been spending Thanksgiving break with Abdalhamid’s uncle Rich Price, who lives nearby.

In this Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023 photo provided by family attorney Abed Ayoub, three college students, from the left, Tahseen Ali Ahmad, Kinnan Abdalhamid, and Hisham Awartani, stand together for a photograph. The three young men were shot and seriously injured Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, while walking near the University of Vermont campus in Burlington. Jason Eaton, 48, was arrested Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023, and has pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted murder. (Rich Price via AP)

In this Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023 photo provided by family attorney Abed Ayoub, three college students, from the left, Tahseen Ali Ahmad, Kinnan Abdalhamid, and Hisham Awartani, stand together for a photograph. The three young men were shot and seriously injured Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, while walking near the University of Vermont campus in Burlington. Jason Eaton, 48, was arrested Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023, and has pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted murder. (Rich Price via AP)

Eaton had moved to Vermont this summer from the Syracuse, New York, area, according to Burlington police. He pleaded not guilty on Monday. Eaton’s name appeared in 37 Syracuse police reports from 2007 until 2021, but never as a suspect, said police spokesperson Lt. Matthew Malinowski. The cases ranged from domestic violence to larceny, and Eaton was listed as either a victim or the person filing the complaint in 21 of the reports, Malinowski said.

Authorities are investigating Saturday’s shooting to determine whether it constitutes a hate crime. Threats against Jewish, Muslim and Arab communities have increased across the U.S. since the Israel-Hamas war began in October.

Advertisement

The students were conversing in a mix of English and Arabic and two of them were also wearing black-and-white Palestinian keffiyeh scarves when they were shot, police said.

Abdalhamid has been released from the hospital, his family said in a written statement Tuesday. Awartani, who faces a long recovery because of a spinal injury, was undergoing surgery on Wednesday, Price said in a text message to the AP. The AP left a phone message with the University of Vermont Medical Center on Wednesday seeking information on Ali Ahmad’s condition.

Awartani and Abdalhamid’s mothers arrived in Vermont on Wednesday, according to Abed Ayoub, the national executive director of the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee.

In their statement Tuesday, Abdelhamid’s family said they are extremely relieved that he’s been released from the hospital but that he is still in pain and recovering.

“Kinnan told us that he was afraid to leave the hospital,” the statement reads. “Our child may be physically well enough to be out of the hospital, but he is still shaken from this horrific attack. We know that this tragedy will shape the rest of our lives.”

Advertisement

Eaton had recently lost his job. He worked for less than a year for California-based CUSO Financial and his employment ended on Nov. 8, said company spokesperson Jeff Eller.

He legally purchased the gun used in the shooting, police said. On Sunday, Eaton came to the door of his apartment holding his hands up, and told the officers he’d been waiting for them. Federal agents found the gun in his apartment later that day.

The shooting victims had been friends since first grade at Ramallah Friends School, a private school in the West Bank. Rania Ma’ayeh, who leads the school, called them “remarkable, distinguished students.”

Awartani is studying mathematics and archaeology at Brown University; Abdalhamid is a pre-med student at Haverford College in Pennsylvania; and Ali Ahmad is studying mathematics and IT at Trinity College in Connecticut. Awartani and Abdalhamid are U.S. citizens while Ali Ahmad is studying on a student visa, Ma’ayeh said. 

Advertisement
Continue Reading

World

Russia’s foreign minister faces Western critics at security meeting and walks out after speech

Russia’s foreign minister faces Western critics at security meeting and walks out after speech

Published

on

By

Russia's foreign minister faces Western critics at security meeting and walks out after speech

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov faced Western critics while attending international security talks Thursday in Northern Macedonia, where he blamed “NATO’s reckless expansion to the East” for war returning to Europe.

Lavrov arrived in Skopje to attend meetings hosted by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The diplomats of several OSCE member nations, including Ukraine, boycotted the event due to Lavrov’s planned attendance amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The Russian foreign minister spoke for 15 minutes before walking out of the meetings. He blamed what he described as Western tolerance of the “ruling neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv” for the war that started with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

“The very existence of Russians and their decisive contribution to the history of Ukraine are denied,” Lavrov said. “There are plenty of facts. The OSCE and its relevant institutions are silent.”

Advertisement

Finland closes last crossing point with Russia, sealing off entire border as tensions rise

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly alleged that Ukraine’s government is made up of “neo-Nazis,” even though the country has a democratically elected Jewish president who lost relatives in the Holocaust.

Putin and other Russian officials have invoked the Holocaust, World War II and Nazism to legitimize the invasion of Ukraine. Historians see their rhetoric as disinformation and a cynical ploy.

Western ministers attending the OSCE meeting were sharply critical of Lavrov after he spoke.

“Russia’s attempts to blame others for its own choices are transparent,” said Danish Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who was speaking when Lavrov walked out.

Advertisement

“We will not compromise on the core principles of the European security order or allow Russia to deny Ukraine the right to make its own independent foreign and security policy choices – principles that Russia itself has agreed to,” he continued.

Based in Vienna, Austria, the OSCE is an intergovernmental organization focused on promoting security, stability, and cooperation among its participating states.

NATO member North Macedonia lifted a ban on Russian flights to enable Lavrov to attend the meeting. Russian state news agency Tass reported that the minister flew a longer route over Turkey and Greece to reach the summit after Bulgaria blocked his plane from using its airspace.

Greek officials did not immediately return a request for comment.

The foreign ministers of Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania had said they would not attend the talks due to Lavrov’s participation.
Advertisement

Advertisement

The Russian minister arrived in Skopje hours after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a brief stop in North Macedonia’s capital late Wednesday.

James O’Brien, a U.S. assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, attended the event Thursday and accused Russia of trying to undermine the work of the OSCE.

“I add my voice to those of my colleagues calling to Russia to stop its violations of the basic principles of the organization, but I’m not sure that they are … willing to listen,” O’Brien said.

North Macedonia’s foreign minister, Bujar Osmani, said the OSCE had endured as an organization despite Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

“War undermines trust, dialogue and our capacity to deliver. Above all, it devastates the lives of ordinarily people,” Osmani said while hosting Thursday’s meetings.  

Advertisement

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © GLOBAL TIMES PAKISTAN