Paris: Heavy snowfall and deadly blizzards lashed Europe , forcing airports to cancel or delay flights around the continent, as a deep freeze gripped countries from the far north to the Mediterranean beaches in the south.
The snowstorms, unusual for much of Europe at this time of year, left roads blocked, thousands of drivers stranded and schools shut, with weather agencies predicting the biting cold would continue in parts of the region at least through Thursday evening.
The death toll Europe-wide continued to climb to more than 50, as another three people perished in Poland, taking the number of victims there to 21, most of them rough sleepers.
There have also been six deaths in the Czech Republic in recent days, five in Lithuania, four each in France and Slovakia, three in Spain, two each in Italy, Serbia, Romania and Slovenia, and one each in Britain and the Netherlands.
One of the Spanish victims was a 39-year-old homeless man who had been sleeping in an abandoned truck.
“Those most at risk of cold-related illness include elderly people, children, and people who have chronic diseases or physical or mental limitations,” the World Health Organization said in a statement, adding that the poor, the homeless and migrants were often hardest hit.
The Siberian cold front — dubbed the “Beast from the East” in Britain, “Siberian bear” by the Dutch and the “snow cannon” by Swedes — on Thursday forced Geneva airport to close for several hours in the morning, with temperatures plunging in Switzerland to nearly minus 40 degrees Celsius (minus 38 Fahrenheit) at higher altitudes.
Scotland’s Glasgow airport remains closed until at least 1500 GMT, and Edinburgh airport said several airlines have decided not to fly because “they do not have the critical mass of staff needed to run operations securely”.
Snow also forced the cancellation of all flight operations at Dublin airport with services not expected to resume until Saturday at the earliest.
Several flights to Malaga in southern Spain were diverted because of strong winds.
Some people enjoyed the cold, with families taking children and pets out to play.
But many who took out their ice skates discovered the waters were not frozen enough.
A 74-year-old man who fell through the ice on a pond near Bruges remained in hospital in critical condition on Thursday, a Belgian TV channel reported.
The mercury also dropped below freezing across southern Europe.
Snowfall in northern Italy forced the cancellation of 50 per cent of regional trains, while in the city of Naples, schools were shut.
In normally balmy southern France, beaches in Nice were blanketed in a thick layer of snow.
Near the city of Montpellier, around 2,000 drivers were stranded on a motorway, causing anger from those sitting behind the wheel for hours on end.
“The motorway looks like a cemetery of trucks and cars,” tweeted Anthony Jammot, describing an “apocalyptic” 24 hours in his car with two young children and no information or help from local authorities.
In Paris, which awoke under a blanket of snow, authorities continued operating emergency shelters for the city’s roughly 3,000 homeless.
Demanding more efforts to keep people off the streets, around 30 local officials spent the night near the city’s Gare d’Austerlitz train station as temperatures dipped below zero.
“We can’t keep considering the homeless just another part of the scenery,” Greens lawmaker Ali Id Elouali said.
In Germany, the national homeless association urged shelters to open during the day and not just at night.
“You can die of cold during the day too,” its chief Werena Rosenke warned.
Authorities are also urging people to look out for elderly relatives and neighbours after a French woman in her nineties was found frozen to death outside her retirement home.
Europe’s cold snap comes as the Arctic experiences record-high temperatures, prompting scientists to ask if global warming may be playing a role in turning things upside down.
The unusually cold weather has also impacted local customs, as the first spring month began.
Sikhs third most targeted religious group in US after Jews, Muslims: FBI report
New York, Nov 13: The Sikh community is the third most commonly targeted religious group after Jews and Muslims in the US, according to an annual report released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), reported PTI.
According to a press release issued by the FBI, the 2018 data shows the largest number of hate crimes based on religion were reported against Jews (835), followed by Muslims (188) and Sikhs (60). There were 64 offences against Sikhs with 49 known offenders and 69 victims.
Another 91 hate crimes were reported against other religions, including 12 against Hindus and ten anti-Buddhist crimes.
The data, submitted by 16,039 law enforcement agencies, provides information about the crimes motivated by bias toward race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, and gender identity.
In total, at least 7,120 hate crimes were reported by law enforcement agencies across the US, slightly down from 7,175 in 2017, the report states.
Sikh Coalition, a New York-based think tank that defends Sikh civil rights, said in a statement that it remains a “disheartening” fact that hate crimes remain systematically underreported across the US.
“While hate crimes remained relatively steady nationally, reported anti-Sikh hate crimes rose by 200 percent since 2017, making Sikhs the third most commonly targeted religious group in the dataset,” it said.
“At the end of the day, this data simply isn’t giving us the accurate information we need to effectively counteract hate against targeted communities,” said Sim J Singh, Sikh Coalition Senior Manager of Policy and Advocacy.
“It’s past time for action. Congress must pass the next generation of common-sense legislation that equips law enforcement to better identify and track hate incidents,” he said.
The FBI reports as many as 148 hate crimes against Asians in 2018, while those against Arabs were 82, anti-American Indian or Alaska Native (194).
According to the Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, Americans experience an average of 250,000 hate crimes per year; this latest FBI data, by contrast, only managed to document 7,120 incidents, with less than 13 per cent of law enforcement affirmatively providing reports of hate crimes, it said.
Pak allows Jadhav to file appeal in civilian court
New Delhi, Nov 13: New Delhi: Pakistan is amending its Army Act, under which former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav was sentenced to death, in keeping with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) direction to allow him the right to file an appeal in the civilian court.
News agency ANI quoted Pakistani media as saying on Wednesday that the act in its present form forbids individuals or groups being tried in military courts from filing an appeal in the civilian court, but special amendment was being made for Jadhav.
Jadhav, a retired Indian navy commander, was tried as a spy under the act by the Pakistani military after he was captured in 2016. India says that he was kidnapped by Pakistani agencies from Iran and brought to Pakistan. Pakistan had claimed that Jadhav was arrested from its restive province of Balochistan. It notified India about it through a press release on March 25, 2016, 22 days after he was picked up.
Jadhav, who hails from Powai in Mumbai, was subjected to an opaque military trial, which sentenced him to death on April 10, 2017, even as Pakistan government kept rejecting India’s repeated pleas for consular access.
The ICJ, which was moved by India on May 8, 2017, gave a detailed verdict this year, rejecting all the objections of Pakistan, including one unanimously on the admissibility of the case and also the claims by Islamabad that India had not provided the actual nationality of Jadhav.
In the judgment, the ICJ said that it was satisfied that Jadhav was an Indian national and that the fact had been acknowledged by both Pakistan and India.
The court, in its ruling by 15-1, ordered “a continued stay of execution” on Jadhav, saying it “constitutes an indispensable condition for the effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence” of the accused.
It said it “finds that the appropriate reparation in this case consists in the obligation of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to provide, by the means of its own choosing, effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence of Mr. Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, so as to ensure that full weight is given to the effect of the violation of the rights set forth” in the Vienna Convention on consular access.
Following the ICJ ruling, India was granted consular access to Jadhav on September 2 but Pakistan has refused to “share any further details” of the meeting between Jadhav and Indian Charge d’ Affaires Gaurav Ahluwalia in a Pakistani sub jail. It has since then ruled out a second consular meeting but the Ministry of External Affairs said it will keep making efforts to ensure the ICJ verdict is fully implemented. (Agencies)
Pakistan exporting ‘terror’, stifling women’s voices for narrow political gains: India at UNSC
UNITED NATIONS: India lashed out at Pakistan for raising the issue of women’s rights in Kashmir in the UN Security Council, saying the country represents a system that has been exporting militancy and “regressive” extremist ideologies and “stifling” women’s voices for narrow political gains.
India’s strong response came after Pakistan’s outgoing UN envoy Maleeha Lodhi commented on the situation in Kashmir, revocation of Article 370 and women’s rights in the Valley during the debate on October 29.
“As everyone today focuses on collective action, one delegation rhetorically regurgitates about women’s rights in my country,” First Secretary in India’s Permanent Mission to the UN Paulomi Tripathi said Monday at a Security Council open debate on Women, Peace and Security.
Without naming Pakistan, Tripathi said the delegation “represents a system that has been exporting terrorism and regressive extremist ideologies, and stifling women’s voices for narrow political gains. This has devastated lives of generations of women and their families, in our region and beyond.”
Alluding to Islamabad’s habit of raking up the Kashmir issue at various UN forums and committees, Tripathi said the country habitually makes baseless allegations without any relevance to the agenda under consideration and this has “become a staple for this delegation.”
She referred to Lodhi’s comments on Jammu and Kashmir during the October 29 debate as well as during a previous debate on the “Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”.
Asserting that India firmly rejects the baseless allegations, Tripathi said “the Council has not paid attention to such deceitful narratives in the past, and we are confident that the Council will continue to do so, to ensure that its agenda is not used as a ploy for furthering territorial ambitions.”
In her remarks to the debate, Tripathi underscored that violence against women and girls perpetrated by terrorists remain rampant and subjugation of women in public and in private spheres continue across situations that are on the agenda of the Council.
“It is important that the Council strives to effectively integrate women, peace and security considerations into sanctions regimes, including by listing terrorist entities involved in violence against women in armed conflicts,” she said.
Further, Tripathi highlighted the positive impacts of greater participation of women in UN peacekeeping but voiced concern that women make up only 4.2 per cent of military personnel in UN peacekeeping missions.
“We ought to encourage participation of all women units to achieve the set targets in this regard,” she said.
Tripathi pointed out that a trend in which in order to accommodate those who cannot fulfill the commitments of providing all women units to peacekeeping missions, mixed units are being given preference by diluting the policy frameworks.
“If this continues, we possibly cannot achieve the set targets,” she said as she added that India remains committed to increasing the number of women peacekeepers and has deployed a Female Engagement Team in UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) earlier this year.