Friday, 3 April 2015

Syrian airstrike "violation of international humanitarian law":UN

Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for UN Secretary General [PHOTO: UNifeed]
New York: The United Nations has labelled air attacks on hospitals and medical workers in Syria, as "a blatant violation of international humanitarian law."

Farhan Haq, a Deputy Spokesperson for the UN Secretary General told a press briefing Thursday that some one hundred thousand persons are displaced in and around Idlib in north-western Syria, because of intense air strikes.

Haq said, "The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that intense air strikes on Idlib, Syria, and surrounding areas and heavy shelling of two villages northeast of Idlib city are causing civilian casualties and extensive damage. 

Humanitarian partners and local sources are reporting that more than one hundred thousand people are on the move. 

"Most hospitals and clinics in the city are damaged and unable to cope with the influx of injured people, who are being taken to field hospitals in the countryside or across the border into Turkey. The targeting of hospitals and medical workers is a blatant violation of international humanitarian law. Humanitarian partners are responding to needs where access is possible."
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Suicide blast kills at least 17 in eastern Afghan

U.S. soldiers in Khost province [FILE PHOTO: SGT Justin A. Moeller/Public Domain]

Kabul: Officials say at least 17 people have been killed and more than 40 wounded, including a prominent parliament member, in a suicide bombing in eastern Afghanistan.

And in the country’s south, a district police chief was killed amid fierce clashes between security forces and Taliban militants.

A powerful blast occurred during a demonstration against the acting governor of Khost Province in the provincial capital.

Provincial Deputy Governor Abdul Wahed Pathan said a suicide bomber blew himself up in the crowd.

The Interior Ministry said 17 people were killed.

Humayoun Humayoun, the head of the parliamentary defense committee, was among the wounded.

No group has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

In the southern province of Helmand, officials say fierce clashes broke out overnight after Taliban militants attacked police checkpoints in Gereshk district.

A local official, who requested anonymity, told RFE/RL that the gunbattle was still under way hours later.

Officials said there were casualties but it was unclear how many.

Helmand provincial police chief Nabi Jan Malakhail said district police chief Hikmatullah Akmal was killed by a roadside bomb.

Malakhail said the explosion occurred early on April 2 as Akmal was heading toward the site of a Taliban attack on a checkpoint.

A major military operation is under way to drive Taliban militants from the Helmand River valley.

The Taliban and other militant groups often target Afghan officials and members of the security forces.

There has been no let-up in attacks following the formal end of the NATO and U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan in December.

About 9,800 U.S. troops remain in the country.

During a visit by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to Washington last week, the White House announced that it would halt the drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, maintaining 9,800 troops through the end of 2015 instead of cutting the force in half as previously planned.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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Friday, 20 March 2015

ICC slams own president for criticising match officials

ICC President Mustafa Kamal
Adelaide: The International Cricket Council (ICC) Chief Executive David Richardson has expressed disappointment following President Mustafa Kamal’s comments about the match officials in the Cricket World Cup 2015 quarter-final between Bangladesh and India in Melbourne on Thursday.

“The ICC has noted Mr Mustafa Kamal’s comments, which are very unfortunate but made in his personal capacity. As an ICC President, he should have been more considerate in his criticism of ICC match officials, whose integrity cannot be questioned,” Richardson said in a media statement.

“The no-ball decision was a 50-50 call. The spirit of the game dictates that the umpire’s decision is final and must be respected. Any suggestion that the match officials had “an agenda” or did anything other than perform to the best of their ability are baseless and are refuted in the strongest possible terms,” the statement stressed.

“We now look forward to an exciting last few matches of what has been a very successful and interesting ICC Cricket World Cup 2015,” Richardson concluded.

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'SOFIA' finds missing link between supernovae, planet formation

SOFIA data reveal warm dust (white) surviving inside a supernova remnant. The SNR Sgr A East cloud is traced in X-rays (blue). Radio emission (red) shows expanding shock waves colliding with surrounding interstellar clouds (green).
[Image Credit: NASA/CXO/Herschel/VLA/Lau et al] 
Washington: Using NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), an international scientific team discovered that supernovae are capable of producing a substantial amount of the material from which planets like Earth can form.

These findings are published in the March 19 online issue of Science magazine.

"Our observations reveal a particular cloud produced by a supernova explosion 10,000 years ago contains enough dust to make 7,000 Earths," said Ryan Lau of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
The research team, headed by Lau, used SOFIA's airborne telescope and the Faint Object InfraRed Camera for the SOFIA Telescope, FORCAST, to take detailed infrared images of an interstellar dust cloud known as Supernova Remnant Sagittarius A East, or SNR Sgr A East.

The team used SOFIA data to estimate the total mass of dust in the cloud from the intensity of its emission. The investigation required measurements at long infrared wavelengths in order to peer through intervening interstellar clouds and detect the radiation emitted by the supernova dust.

Astronomers already had evidence that a supernova’s outward-moving shock wave can produce significant amounts of dust. Until now, a key question was whether the new soot- and sand-like dust particles would survive the subsequent inward “rebound” shock wave generated when the first, outward-moving shock wave collides with surrounding interstellar gas and dust.

"The dust survived the later onslaught of shock waves from the supernova explosion, and is now flowing into the interstellar medium where it can become part of the 'seed material' for new stars and planets," Lau explained.

These results also reveal the possibility that the vast amount of dust observed in distant young galaxies may have been made by supernova explosions of early massive stars, as no other known mechanism could have produced nearly as much dust.

"This discovery is a special feather in the cap for SOFIA, demonstrating how observations made within our own Milky Way galaxy can bear directly on our understanding of the evolution of galaxies billions of light years away," said Pamela Marcum, a SOFIA project scientist at Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.
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