Tag Archives: arms

Senate falls short of halting Trump’s $23B arms sales to UAE


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Wuhan citizen journalist detained for Covid reporting has ‘feeding tube forcibly inserted and arms restrained’


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US hits China with Hong Kong sanctions, OKs Taiwan arms sale


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On COVID-19 vaccine, ‘get as many shots in arms as possible, right away’: ex-FDA chief Q&A


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Nuclear power plant in UAE risks sparking arms race, expert warns

Nuclear power plant in UAE risks sparking arms race, expert warnsFour nuclear reactors being built in the United Arab Emirates could spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and leave the Persian Gulf at risk of a Chernobyl-style disaster, a leading nuclear scientist has claimed. In a report, Dr Paul Dorfman, chairman of the Nuclear Consulting Group, warned the UAE's Barakah nuclear power plant lacks key safety features, poses a threat to the environment, is a potential target for terrorists and could be part of plans to develop nuclear weapons.  "The motivation for building this may lie hidden in plain sight," Dr Dorfman told the Telegraph. "They are seriously considering nuclear proliferation."  Dr Dorfman, who is also an honorary senior research associate at University College London's Energy Institute, has served as a nuclear adviser to the British government and led the European Environment Agency response to the Fukushima disaster. However, the UAE has stressed that it is committed to "the highest standards of nuclear safety, security and non-proliferation." The UAE hired the South Korean firm Korea Electric Power Corporation to build the Barakah – "Divine Blessing" in Arabic, plant in 2009. It will be the first nuclear power plant in the Arabian peninsula, and has fuelled speculation that Abu Dhabi is preparing for a nuclear arms race with the Islamic Republic. The UAE has denied allegations by the Qatari government that its power plant is a security threat to their capital of Doha and the Qatari environment, dismissing any causes for concern. Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan photographed in Germany earlier this year Credit: Reuters  However, Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed they hit the Barakah nuclear power plant with a missile in 2017. The UAE denied that the rebels fired any such missile, adding that they had an air defence system to deal with such threats. Dr Dorfman said that scrambling fighter aircraft or firing surface to air missiles in time to intercept an incoming strike would be difficult. In September, Saudi air defences failed to stop a drone attack on oil processing facilities. Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for that attack, though Saudi Arabia blamed Iran. The increase in transportation of radioactive materials through the Persian Gulf when the plant goes into operation could also raise the risk of potentially fatal collisions, explosions, or equipment and material failure. Any radioactive discharge resulting from accidents could easily reach population centres on the Gulf coast and have a potentially devastating impact on delicate Gulf ecosystems, including rare mangrove swamps. The plant is also vulnerable to climate change and extreme temperatures that could affect its cooling system, Dr Dorfman's report says. The International Panel on Climate Change has said that extreme sea level events are now likely to happen more frequently, meaning coastal power plants such as Barakah could become defenseless against rising sea levels, tidal ingress and storm surges. High average sea water temperatures in the Gulf could also make it more difficult to cool the reactor using sea water. The cost of the 1986 Chernobyl accident has been recently estimated to be around $ 235 billion (£179 billion). The Japanese Centre for Economic Research has said the 2011 Fukushima accident cost over 81 trillion YEN(£567 billion), although the Japanese government has put the cost at YEN 22 million (£142 billion). The United Arab Emirates Foreign ministry had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.



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Russia says not enough time left to draft new START arms control treaty: Ifax

Russia says not enough time left to draft new START arms control treaty: IfaxRussia’s foreign ministry said on Friday there was no longer enough time left for Moscow and Washington to draft a replacement to the New START nuclear arms control treaty before it expires in 2021, the Interfax news agency reported. The New START treaty, which is the last major nuclear arms control treaty between Russia and the United States, limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads the world’s two biggest nuclear powers can deploy. “It’s already obvious that in the time that is left… we will not be able to work out a full-fledged replacement document,” Vladimir Leontyev, a foreign ministry official, was quoted as saying.



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Mystery as plane carrying Russian arms smugglers crashes in Congo

Mystery as plane carrying Russian arms smugglers crashes in CongoThe Democratic Republic of Congo has one of the world’s worst aviation safety records, so reports that an aircraft had tumbled into a remote forest last week caused few international ripples. Since then, however, a deepening mystery over the nature of the cargo and the identity of those on board has left the Congolese government facing awkward questions. The fate of the stricken plane, a mysterious Antonov-72 so far only identified by its former registration number, EK-72903, may also provide a glimpse into the murkier side of Russia’s attempts to reassert its influence in Africa. The details remain scant. Last Thursday, the plane crashed 59 minutes after taking off from the eastern city of Goma bound for the capital Kinshasa. None of the eight people on board survived, officials said. The passengers were identified as the personal chauffeur of Felix Tshisekedi, Congo’s president, and three of his bodyguards. An armoured vehicle used by the president was also on board. A more troubling disclosure followed when two of the four-strong crew were identified. Vitaly Shumkov and Vladimir Sadovnichy, the plane’s pilots, were not only Russian nationals, they both appeared to have a background in gun running. The plane, too, has a murky past. EK-72903 was once owned by an Armenian company whose proprietor has been linked to arms smuggling elsewhere in Africa. Whether the crew were somehow furthering Kremlin interests remains unknown. However, there is no secret that Russia hopes to regain the influence the Soviet Union once wielded in Africa by wooing its leaders with arms sales, private security and “political technologists” adept at winning elections. Such attempts have often been linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close associate of Vladimir Putin who has been accused of masterminding attempts to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election. Mr Prigozhin allegedly had Congo in his sights after Russia announced in May that it was sending a team of army specialists to the country. Some Russia media outlets speculated that Mr Prigozhin, was on board the plane ahead of a meeting with President Tshisekedi. That is almost certainly untrue. Slumming it on an Antonov is generally not Mr Progozhin’s style. “He wouldn’t get into a plane like that,” a Congolese government official said.  “This gentleman is an oligarch and if he travels then he travels on his own plane.” The official said that while Mr Prigozhin had not been scheduled to meet President Tshisekedi, other Russian government representatives had requested a meeting to discuss the upcoming summit. It is unclear if any were on board. At least two people described as being “of eastern European origin” were also on the plane. They have not yet been identified, adding to the intrigue surrounding the flight. For the moment, whoever else was on board the plane remains unknown. With some sources saying there may have been 11 people rather than eight on board, UN officials were attempting to identify the remains of the dead — some of whom had been hastily buried — last night. Even that might not put an end to the intrigue of what happened aboard EK-72903. Congo rarely gives up its mysteries. In 1961, a plane departing the country with then UN secretary general Dag Hammarskjöld on board crashed.  Three inquiries failed to determined the cause of the crash and Hammarskjöld’s death remains a mystery to this day.



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Atheists, Secular Groups Up in Arms Over State Department Boosting Pompeo’s ‘Christian Leader’ Speech

Atheists, Secular Groups Up in Arms Over State Department Boosting Pompeo’s ‘Christian Leader’ SpeechJoe Raedle/GettyThe U.S. Constitution protects the separation of church and state—but evidently not church and State Department, which came under fire for promoting a “Being a Christian Leader” speech Monday on its website.The speech, delivered by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a meeting of American Association of Christian Counselors on Friday, saw Pompeo discuss the influence of his faith on his work as a U.S. official. On Monday, the State Department shared the speech at the top of its website, ahead of more pressing department issues, like U.S. involvement in Turkey’s invasion of Syria. The speech and the State Department’s promotion of the video breached the divide between church and state, leaders from secular and atheist communities say.“Secretary Pompeo’s speech was pure proselytization,” Sarah Levin, director of governmental affairs at the Secular Coalition for America told The Daily Beast. During the speech, which he gave in his capacity as Secretary of State, Pompeo stated that “I know some people in the media will break out the pitchforks when they hear that I ask God for direction in my work.”His personal faith isn’t the problem, Levin said. It’s when it dictates his actions as Secretary of State, or when those beliefs top the State Department website.“To be clear, we don’t judge Secretary Pompeo for being a Christian or for connecting what he’s achieved to his faith, but it’s unacceptable and a violation of separation of church and state for him to take those beliefs and apply them to policy that affects the American public,” Levin said, “and it’s just as wrong from him to elevation Christianity above other faiths as it is to elevate Christianity above non-faiths.”Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, echoed Levin. “It’s perfectly fine for Secretary Pompeo to be a leader who is Christian,” Laser said in a statement. “But he cannot use his government position to impose his faith on the rest of us—that is a fundamental violation of the separation of religion and government. Secretary Pompeo’s speech on how being a Christian leader informs his decision-making and the posting of the speech on the State Department website send the clear message that U.S. public policy will be guided by his personal religious beliefs.”Pompeo has previously indicated that his religious beliefs factored into his policy decisions as a government official. In a March interview with Christian Broadcasting Network, Pompeo was asked whether President Donald Trump had been raised by God “to help save the Jewish people from the Iranian menace.”“As a Christian, I certainly believe that's possible,” Pompeo answered.The secular website Patheos has tracked Pompeo’s comments for years, including a 2015 speech in which he opposed same-sex marriage and stated that “we will continue to fight these battles, it is a never ending struggle… until the rapture.”In a 2014 speech at a Kansas church, Pompeo cast Islam as the greatest “threat to America” and urged that “we make sure that we pray and stand and fight and make sure that we know that Jesus Christ our savior is truly the only solution for our world.”Nick Fish, president of American Atheists said Pomeo’s Friday speech wasn’t surprising, given his record.“As disappointing as it is to see the State Department parroting Christian nationalist talking points, it isn't a surprise. But this goes above and beyond the obvious problem of Secretary Pompeo promoting one religious worldview on taxpayers' dime,” Fish told The Daily Beast. “The bigger issue is that the State Department is being led by a man who genuinely believes that politics is ‘a never-ending struggle… until the rapture.’”Levin said the Trump administration has consistently pushed at the boundary between church and state. “This administration has pursued an agenda of Christian nationalism,” she said. She pointed to two other questionable incidents this weekend. On Friday, Attorney General Bill Barr gave a speech blaming “the growing ascendancy of secularism” for depression, mental illness, violence, and the opioid epidemic. On Saturday, Trump gave a speech to religious leaders proclaiming that “forever and always, Americans will believe in the cause of freedom, the power of prayer, and the eternal glory of God.”Levin called the trio of speeches a “triple threat.”“This is not unusual rhetoric we’ve seen from officials,” she said, “but it is unusual to see Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, clear-cut abuse, these officials violating the separation of church and state.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.



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High school player collapses, dies in twin brother's arms: 'I'm about to pass out'

High school player collapses, dies in twin brother's arms: 'I'm about to pass out'A high school is struggling to come to terms with the death of a football player after he suddenly collapsed and died in his twin brother's arms.



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UPDATE 1-Saudi says Iranian sponsorship of attack undeniable, displays arms

UPDATE 1-Saudi says Iranian sponsorship of attack undeniable, displays armsSaudi Arabia displayed remnants of what it described as Iranian drones and cruise missiles used in an attack on Saudi oil facilities as “undeniable” evidence of Iranian aggression. Defence Ministry spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki said a total of 25 drones and missiles were launched at two oil plants in last weekend’s strikes, including what he identified as Iranian Delta Wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and “Ya Ali” cruise missiles. “The attack was launched from the north and unquestionably sponsored by Iran,” he told a news conference.



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