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English town residents to return after threat of dam burst lifted

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Residents of the English town of Whaley Bridge on Wednesday are being allowed to return to their homes almost a week after fears that a local dam might burst forced an evacuation.

More than 1,500 people had to be brought to safety or else risk their lives after heavy rains caused serious damage to Toddbrook Reservoir, which dates back to the 19th century, located South-East of Manchester.

Several roads and railway lines were blocked as a precaution in the county of Derbyshire.

“If the dam had burst, millions of tons of water would have inundated and destroyed the town.

“In spite residents being given the all clear, authorities are continuing their work to secure the reservoir, which is to undergo a thorough investigation and be made safer for the future,” Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Swann said.

According to Bernie Sharples, a resident of Whaley Bridge, it is absolutely fantastic, and just great to see everyone again.

“So pleased to hear that Whaley Bridge residents, who have shown such spirit and patience, are being allowed back into their homes,” he said.

However, the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, thanked the emergency services for their work as well as the country’s Armed Forces who were also involved in the efforts.

“Over 20 high volume pumps were used to reduce the damaged reservoir’s water levels,” Johnson said. (dpa/NAN)

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Edited by Yahaya Isah

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Putin orders reciprocal Russian response to U.S. missile test

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Putin orders reciprocal Russian response to U.S. missile test

Moscow, Aug. 23, 2019 Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday ordered a like-for-like response to a recent U.S. missile test, which he said showed that Washington aimed to deploy previously banned missiles around the world.

The Pentagon on Monday said it had tested a conventionally-configured cruise missile that hit its target after more than 500 km (310 miles) of flight, its first such test since the demise of a landmark nuclear pact this month.

Washington formally withdrew from the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) on Aug. 2 after accusing Moscow of violating it, a charge dismissed by the Kremlin.

The pact had prohibited land-based missiles with a range of 310-3,400 miles, reducing the ability of both countries to launch a nuclear strike at short notice.

Putin told his Security Council on Friday that Russia could not stand idly by, and that U.S. talk of deploying new missiles in the Asia-Pacific region “affects our core interests as it is close to Russia’s borders”.

U.S. Defence Secretary, Mark Esper, said this month he was in favour of placing ground-launched intermediate-range missiles in Asia relatively soon, and Putin complained this week that the U.S. was now in a position to deploy its new land-based missile in Romania and Poland.

“All this leaves no doubts that the real intention of the U.S. (in exiting the INF pact) was to … untie its hands to deploy previously banned missiles in different regions of the world,” said Putin.

“We have never wanted, do not want and will not be drawn into a costly, economically destructive arms race.

“That said, in the light of unfolding circumstances, I’m ordering the Defence Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and other appropriate agencies to analyse the threat to our country posed by U.S. actions, and to take exhaustive measures to prepare a reciprocal response.”

In spite his order, Putin said Russia remained open to talks with the U.S. aimed at restoring trust and strengthening international security.

The U.S. has said it has no imminent plans to deploy new land-based missiles in Europe. (Reuters/NAN)

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India’s Supreme Court to examine law on Islamic instant divorce

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Divorce

The legislation to ban the practice of “triple talaq” and make it a punishable offence with a maximum of three years’ jail term was passed by the Indian parliament in July.

India has been one of the few countries where a Muslim man could still divorce his wife instantly by saying the word “talaq” (meaning divorce in Arabic) three times in quick succession.

Supreme Court judges issued a notice to the federal government, seeking its response on a clutch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the law, known as the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, broadcaster NDTV reported.

Salman Khurshid, lawyer for one of the petitioners, who include Muslim scholars and clergy, argued several facets of the law including the “excessive and stringent provisions” of three years in jail, required to be examined by the court.

The petitions were filed in the court a day after President Ram Nath Kovind approved the law.

India’s Hindu nationalist government maintains that the law is a move to ensuring gender equality and justice and more than 20 Muslim countries including Pakistan and Malaysia had already banned the practice.

Critics of the practice say it leaves women destitute and robs them of their basic rights.

Opposition parties had objected to the bill, saying the proposed law could be misused to harass Muslims – a vulnerable minority in India – and that it should be reviewed by a parliamentary committee. (dpa/NAN)

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Taiwan braces for tropical storm Bailu

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Taiwan braces for tropical storm Bailu

Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau issued a land warning for Bailu at 2:30 pm (0630 GMT), nine hours after the issuing of a sea warning for both the Bashi Channel and the Taiwan Strait.

According to the bureau, the centre of Bailu, currently 600 kilometres south-east of Taitung, a south-eastern city, is moving at a pace of about 24 kilometres per hour in a north-west direction toward the

Hengchun Peninsula in southern Taiwan.

Bailu continues to grow and intensify and the centre is expected to make landfall in Taitung on Saturday, the bureau said.

On Friday, more than 2,000 tourists were evacuated from offshore Green Island and Orchid Island, which sit off Taitung.

Ferry services between Taiwan’s main island and some offshore islets will be suspended on Saturday, state-run Central News Agency reported. (dpa/NAN)

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Global watchdog to monitor Pakistan’s progress in tackling militant funding

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Global watchdog to monitor Pakistan’s progress in tackling militant funding

Islamabad, Aug. 23, 2019 The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) will monitor Pakistan’s progress in implementing a proposed plan against financing for militant organisations, ahead of a meeting in October, the international watchdog body on Friday said.

Its Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) met in Canberra this week to discuss reports on countries, including Pakistan, which was in 2018 placed on a “gray list” of countries with inadequate controls over money laundering and terrorism financing.

The reports “will now be subject to post-plenary quality and consistency review prior to publication,” it said in a statement on its website after the meeting ended.

Final publication on the APG website is expected in early October 2019, it added.

In June, the watchdog gave Pakistan until October to improve its counter-terror finance operations or face further action.

Separately, Pakistan’s finance ministry rejected as baseless Indian media reports that Islamabad was put on FATF’s black list.

India, engaged in a standoff with Pakistan over the disputed region of Kashmir, has pressed for further sanctions against its neighbor.

Pakistan has been placed on so-called “enhanced follow-up” in line with FATF’s evaluation procedures, the ministry said in a statement.

“…Pakistan would be required to submit follow-up progress reports to APG on quarterly basis,” it added. (dpa/NAN)

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Report says insecurity triples school closures in West, Central Africa

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Report says insecurity triples school closures in West, Central Africa

School

Almost 9,300 schools are closed in Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Chad, Central African Republic, Congo, Mali, Niger and Nigeria as a result of insecurity, triple the number recorded at the end of 2017, the fund said in a new report.

Deliberate attacks on schools, pupils and teachers were denying children their right to learn and leaving them in fear for their lives, said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Charlotte Gornitzka, after visiting the region.

Cameroon, where clashes between the army and an English-speaking separatist movement have led to insecurity for the past couple of years, is the most affected country in the region, with more than 4,400 schools forcibly closed, the organisation found.

Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger have meanwhile witnessed a six-fold increase in school closures due to attacks and threats of violence in just over two years, from 512 in April 2017 to 3,005 in June 2019, UNICEF said.

Countries in West and Central Africa suffer from ongoing insecurity caused by various rebel, militia and terrorist groups, including Boko Haram and the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP). (dpa/NAN)

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