At Least 19 Killed by Suspected Extremists

Rebels in eastern Congo killed at least 19 people and set fire to a health fire and houses, authorities reported Sunday.

Gunmen suspected of being part of the Allied Democratic Forces, a militia with links to the Islamic State group, attacked civilians in Kirindera town, Carly Nzanzu, the former governor of North Kivu province, said in an interview with state media.

ADF attacks have killed dozens of people in several North Kivu villages in recent days. Congo’s authorities say people were slaughtered with guns, knives and machetes.

Aamaq, a news agency linked to the Islamic State group, posted a statement Saturday in which IS claimed responsibility for killing more than 35 “Christians” and wounding dozens in eastern Congo last week.

Conflict has simmered for decades in eastern Congo, where more than 120 armed groups fight for power, influence and resources, and some to protect their communities. The ADF has been largely active in North Kivu province but recently extended its operations into neighboring Ituri province.

Efforts to stem the violence against have yielded little. A nearly year-long joint operation by Uganda and Congo’s armies did not defeat or substantially weaken the Allied Democratic Forces, a panel of U.N. experts concluded in a December report.

The U.N. and human rights groups have accused the ADF rebels of maiming, raping and abducting civilians, including children. Earlier this month, the United States offered a reward of up to $5 million for information that could lead to the capture of the group’s leader, Seka Musa Baluku.

Conservative Actress Blasts Celebrity “Friends” for Supporting Her in Private But Not Publicly

Denise Welch was enraged over “blue tick” celebrities who agreed with her stance on coronavirus “propaganda”, but then stayed silent when she was accused of being a “Covid denier”.

The 64-year-old ‘Loose Women’ star claims she was “bullied and harassed” by Piers Morgan, who called her “dumb, deluded and dangerous” over her views, and yet celebrities who had backed her in secret didn’t say a word of support for her in public.

The frustrated former Hollyoaks actress raged: “I’ll never f*****g forgive people for this.

“I was on a Whatsapp group with doctors, with epidemiologists, with virologists [and people on Twitter said]: ‘Of course you are, Professor Welch – you f*****g Covid-denier!'”

She added: “The amount of blue tick people who privately supported everything I said and did, but would never once put their heads above the parapet.

“Not only did they not say anything, but they said things to the contrary about it, toeing the f*****g party line!”

Her husband Lincoln Townley, who had scarcely said a word throughout a long rant she was delivering for her Juicy Crack podcast, then nervously cut in.

At first, he appeared to be trying to calm her, but then he agreed: “I saw it – they’re celebrities, people with a voice, who didn’t say anything.”

Denise added in frustration: “I had people on Twitter say: ‘Propaganda? How dare you use that word?!'”

Yet the TV star claimed that, behind the scenes, the Whatsapp group she had been on saw healthcare professionals acknowledge “propaganda” over the virus.

Denise accused the government of “scaremongering” over the figures, arguing that many people had died “with Covid” instead of as a direct cause of catching it.

“People were literally locking themselves away, not seeing anybody for an entire year, thinking that if they touched somebody, they would die of Covid,” she lamented.

“[And] I couldn’t understand why sensible, logical people – friends of our, relatives of ours, were looking on me with disdain [as if] I should be doing exactly what the other people were doing.”

Denise argued that she was rallying against that stance – and that stepping outside of the norm had caused enormous hostility.

She revealed that, as a long-term Labour supporter, she had “never voted Tory” in her life, but that she had now begun to question where her loyalties lay, after starting to dislike fellow left-wingers’ attitudes.

“I couldn’t understand [how] people I knew historically hated the Tories [but] the one thing they were accepting without question [from them] was anything about Covid,” she furiously raged.

“They would question anything that Boris Johnson or any of the Tories did, but with those nightly conferences, they were there with their f*****g Handsmaid’s Tale outfits on going along totally and utterly with everything!”

Denise has also blasted the government for not adhering to the same rules that everyone else had been expected to follow.

“How was it possible that no masks were worn in Downing Street?” she quizzed angrily, before admitting she was sceptical of wearing them herself.

The ‘Loose Women’ panellist added she’d previously read literature suggesting they weren’t an effective barrier against the virus.

She also claimed that doctors had been unable to cope with MRSA and that many of the Covid deaths reported were therefore actually deaths of people “with Covid”.

Denise acknowledged she was “aware that we had to look after our loved ones, like we do with pneumonia”, but that she felt the “scaremongering” had been too extreme, especially when some senior government officials had failed to follow the same rules as the public.

She concluded incredulously: “I’ve never felt so personally affected by anything in my life!”

The full Juicy Crack podcast episode starring Denise Welch can be heard here.

8 Dead After 2 Boats Crash Off California Coast

At least eight people were killed when two suspected smuggling boats crashed at Black’s Beach in the Torrey Pines area late Saturday, with at least one of the boats reported to have capsized, officials said.

Few details were released early Sunday but San Diego police reported that eight bodies were recovered from the water off La Jolla Farms Road, south of Torrey Pines Gliderport. Thick fog hampered search efforts overnight but Coast Guard and San Diego Fire-Rescue helicopters and a Coast Guard cutter were expected to comb the area for additional victims early Sunday.

“We couldn’t get any helicopters up. We had boats in the water, but at first light, once all the conditions clear, we will have Coast Guard out here and San Diego Fire-Rescue and lifeguards doing a joint search through the water for any possible victims that are left,” Daniel Eddy, San Diego Fire-Rescue’s deputy chief of operations, told OnScene TV.

Eddy said he didn’t know how many people came to shore or how many victims had been found “because it keeps changing on us.”

He said there was an 800-yard-long debris field on Black’s Beach. Black’s Beach is jointly owned by the city of San Diego and the state. The stretch of sand is also known as Torrey Pines City Beach and Torrey Pines State Beach.

“We tried to launch helicopters both from San Diego Fire and Coast Guard but due to the conditions, they couldn’t get up,” Eddy said. “Coast Guard finally got up with their copter but due to the conditions of the fog in the area it was hard for their (forward-looking thermal imaging cameras) to get through to see anything in the water.

“We are hoping at first light we will have better conditions to get everybody out there.”

He said a Coast Guard frigate was being deployed to the area. City and state lifeguards, San Diego police and Customs and Border Protection officers also responded.

San Diego police learned about the incident shortly after 11:30 p.m. when a woman called 911 to report she had come from Mexico via boat and that one of the boats had overturned, police Officer Sarah Foster said. The woman told dispatchers nine or 10 people might be in the water from the vessel that capsized.

According to the caller, eight people traveling on the boat she was on had made it to shore, Foster said.

Police and lifeguards responded and Border Patrol was notified of the call, she said.

A Border Patrol spokesman said he had no information about the incident and said he did not know of anyone detained from the scene.

Original Article

Musician, 27, Dies After Collapsing on Stage in Front of Horrified Crowd

South African rapper Costa Titch died in hospital after appearing to lose consciousness in the middle of his set at the Ultra Music Festival.

Real name Constantinos Tsobanoglou, he originally started as a backup dancer before launching his own career as a rapper.

He was an award-winning performer after breaking into the industry in 2020.

Costa had recently signed to rapper Akon’s record label Konvict Kulture.

He is known for his hits such as Activate and Nkalakatha.

Tributes have now flooded in for the rising star, who dreamed of finding international success.

Footage – which The Sun Online has chosen not to publish – from his set at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg shows him appearing to stumble during a track.

He then finishes the song and stands before adoring crowd, before then collapsing to the ground.

Security guards and his crew rush to help him before the video clip ends.

His family confirmed in statement on social media that he later died and thanked his fans for their support.

“Death has tragically knocked at our door. Robbing us of our beloved son, brother and grandson,” they said.

“It is with deep pain that we find ourselves having to acknowledge his passing at this time.”

The family added: “As a family we are faced with a difficult time as we try to make sense of what has befallen us and ask that we be afford the time and space to gather ourselves.

“The Tsobanoglou family thanks you for the love and support you have given to our son and may you continue to uplift him even in spirit.”

The Southern African Music Rights Organisation wrote on Twitter: “SAMRO is saddened by the passing of popular rapper Costa Tsobanoglou, better known as Costa Titch.

“Heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and broader music industry.”

Rapper Da L.E.S tweeted: “RIP, Costa Titch. Great talent gone to soon.”

In a recent interview, Costa talked excitedly about his future after singing for Konvict Kulture.

He said: “After the success of my 2022 catalogue, we felt it was time to partner with a global entity so we can continue to push the barriers on an international scale.”

Putin Dealt Double Blow as Two of His Closest Allies Turn on Him

Turkey and Hungary, whose leaders had been among the few in Europe to keep an open door to Moscow after the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, seem to be starting to turn their backs on Russia.

This month, the Turkish government, which mediated peace talks between Kyiv and Moscow last year, abruptly halted the transit of sanctioned goods to Russia, after having received several warnings from the European Union and the United States about these products helping Russia’s war effort in Ukraine.

This week, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced his country will reassess its relationship with Russia. Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine last February and the following sanctions imposed by the EU, Orbán has kept an ambivalent stance towards Moscow.

Orbán and his government were slow to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and repeatedly opposed the EU sanctions against Moscow and financial aid to Kyiv. As an energy crisis unfolded across Europe last year, Orbán consistently blamed higher costs on the sanctions imposed on Russia, calling for the EU to put an end to the measures.

Last month, Politico reported that Orbán told a group of foreign conservative figures that time was on Russia’s side in the war in Ukraine, calling the war-torn country “the land of nobody” and openly questioning its sovereignty.

But the latest apparent change of direction for Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hungary’s Orbán shows that, as the war drags on for longer than anyone would have expected at its start, even Putin’s closest allies in Europe are being forced to reconsider what’s more convenient, strategically, for their countries.

While Turkey kept a good balance last year between keeping its ties with Russia without completely angering Europe and the U.S., this position now seems increasingly untenable. Turkey’s defiant resistance to the punitive measures imposed by the U.S. and the EU on Russia threatened to cost the country’s companies and banks to be punished for contravening sanctions, as Brian Nelson, the U.S. Treasury Department’s top sanctions official, made clear during meetings in Ankara and Istanbul last month.

Orbán too has until now played both sides, avoiding being straight-out anti-Ukrainian to keep enjoying the benefits of its EU and NATO membership while refusing to stop developing its ties with Moscow and abandoning its Russia-friendly stance.

But Orbán, talking about the need to reassess Hungary’s relationship with Russia during an economic forum in Budapest on Thursday, didn’t suggest cutting ties with Moscow completely.

“I understand the need to rebuild Russian-European relations after the war, but it’s far from realistic,” Orbán said. “That is why Hungary’s foreign and economic policy must carefully reflect on the type of relationship we can establish and maintain with Russia in the next 10-15 years.”

Firefighters Rappel Down Building to Rescue Trapped Window Washers (VIDEO)

There were some heart-stopping moments Thursday afternoon for a pair of window washers trapped on a mechanical lift platform in downtown Vancouver.

Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services were called to perform a technical rescue on the building at Georgia and Homer streets around 1:45 p.m., after the workers’ platform froze midway up the building’s exterior.

Firefighters had to rappel from the top of the building to the platform, then lower the workers to a landing below.

“As you can see from the layout of the exterior where it’s not just a flat surface to it, it adds that extra layer of complexity and our highly-trained crews were able to overcome that by going to the top of the building and being able to overcome the challenges from the exterior layout and get down to those people who were basically on an immobilized platform,” VFRS Capt. Matthew Trudeau said.

“It is a very high-risk manoeuvre, and it is obviously dangerous putting crews outside the building and going down that significant distance to them, a lot of technical aspects to that to make sure everyone is safe.”

The entire rescue took an hour to complete, and firefighters said no one was injured.


Original Article

7 Killed in Church Shooting in Germany

Seven people, including an unborn baby, have been killed in a shooting at a Jehovah’s Witness meeting hall in the German city of Hamburg, police say.

They say the gunman acted alone in Thursday’s attack, and later took his own life. His motives are unknown.

The suspect, named only as Philipp F, is said to have had “ill feelings” towards the religious community, of which he had previously been a member.

Video has emerged appearing to show him firing through a window of the hall.

At a briefing on Friday, the police said four men and two women were shot dead. All the dead were German nationals.

Eight people were injured, four seriously. A Ugandan and a Ukrainian were among those hurt.

A woman who was seven months pregnant was shot – killing her unborn baby. The mother survived.

The first emergency call came at 21:04 local time (20:04 GMT) on Thursday, to report that shots had been fired in the building on Deelböge street, Gross Borstel district, the police said.

Officers were on site four minutes later, and they were almost immediately joined by special forces. The officers had to break windows to enter the building where about 50 people had gathered.

The suspect – described as 35-year-old “sports shooter” who had a gun licence – had fled to the first floor. His “lifeless body” was found shortly afterwards.

He had managed to shoot nine magazines of ammunition, and 20 more were found in his backpack.

German Senator Andy Grote said “fast and decisive actions” by police officers had saved many lives. He also described the attack as the “worst crime” in Hamburg’s recent history.

Police confirmed that they had previously received an anonymous tip-off that raised concerns about the perpetrator’s mental health. Officers had visited him after the tip-off – but did not have enough grounds to take away his gun at the time.

Gregor Miesbach, who filmed the gunman shooting through a first-floor window, told the Bild newspaper: “I didn’t realise what was happening. I was filming with my phone, and only realised through the zoom that someone was shooting at Jehovah’s Witnesses.

“I heard loud gunshots… I saw a man with a firearm shooting through a window and filmed it,” he said.

Lara Bauch, a 23-year-old student who lives nearby, told the DPA news agency that “there were about four bursts of gunfire – several shots were fired in each burst – with gaps lasting roughly 20 seconds to a minute”.

She said that from her window she could see a person frantically running from the ground floor to the first floor. “The man was wearing dark clothing and moving fast,” she added.

An alert was sent on the federal warning app, NINAwarn, on Thursday evening telling locals that “one or more unknown perpetrators shot at people in a church”.

Local residents were told not to leave their homes amid the ongoing police operation.

Footage showed police escorting people out of the meeting hall, some to ambulances.

The reasons behind the shooting were “still completely unclear”.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz described it as a “brutal act of violence”, saying his thoughts were with the victims and their relatives.

In a statement, the Jehovah’s Witness community in Germany said it was “deeply saddened by the horrific attack on its members at the Kingdom Hall in Hamburg after a religious service”.

Forensic experts in white suits worked through the night inside the brightly lit interior of the meeting house.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are members of a Christian-based religious movement, founded in the US at the end of the 19th Century.

In its latest report from 2022, the movement says there are about 8.7 million Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide, including about 170,000 in Germany.

In the city of Hamburg, there are believed to be nearly 4,000 members of the organisation.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are probably best known for their door-to-door evangelical work; witnessing from house to house and offering Bible literature.

Although Christian-based, the group believes that the traditional Christian Churches have deviated from the true teachings of the Bible, and do not work in full harmony with God.

Germany has some of the strictest gun laws in Europe, including a clause that anyone aged under 25 must pass a psychological evaluation before getting a gun licence.

In 2021, there were around one million private gun owners in Germany, according to the National Firearms Registry. They account for 5.7 million legal firearms and firearm parts, most of them owned by hunters.

After mass arrests were made last December in relation to a suspected plot to overthrow the government, the German authorities are planning to tighten the country’s gun laws even further.

Mitch McConnell, 81, Rushed to Hospital After Fall

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has been hospitalized after tripping at a local hotel on Wednesday evening, a spokesman for the senator said.

The senator from Kentucky, 81, was attending a private dinner in Washington when he tripped. He was admitted to a hospital for treatment, spokesman Doug Andres said.

McConnell’s office didn’t provide additional details on his condition or how long he may be absent from the Senate.  

On Thursday night, McConnell appeared at a reception and separate private dinner hosted by the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC he launched to help elect Republicans to the Senate. He first appeared in the Franklin Room ballroom at the Waldorf Astoria and hosted a separate dinner afterward in the hotel for the PAC’s largest donors. 

The Senate Leadership Fund was the largest TV and digital ad spender last fall in the most-critical U.S. Senate contests, spending more than $170 million on advertising in the closing months in Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania.   

One person who attended the reception told CBS News that McConnell “was good, walking around” and greeting donors before addressing the crowd.  

In 2019, the GOP leader tripped and fell at his home in Kentucky, suffering a shoulder fracture. At the time, he underwent surgery to repair the fracture in his shoulder. The Senate had just started a summer recess and he worked from home for some weeks as he recovered.

First elected in 1984, McConnell in January became the longest-serving Senate leader when the new Congress convened, breaking the previous record of 16 years. He was Senate majority leader from 2015 to 2021, then became minority leader, the post he still holds.

The taciturn McConnell is often reluctant to discuss his private life. But at the start of the COVID-19 crisis he opened up about his early childhood experience fighting polio. He described how his mother insisted that he stay off his feet as a toddler and worked with him through a determined physical therapy regime. He has acknowledged some difficulty in adulthood climbing stairs.

The Senate, where the average age is 65, has been without several members recently due to illness.

Democratic Sen. John Fetterman, 53 who suffered a stroke during his campaign last year, was expected to remain out for some weeks as he received care for clinical depression. And Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, 90, said last week that she had been hospitalized to be treated for shingles.

The Democratic absences have proven a challenge for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who is already navigating a very narrow 51-49 majority.

The Republicans, as the minority party, have had an easier time with intermittent absences. It is unclear if McConnell will be out on Thursday and if that would have an effect on scheduled votes. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota is the Senate’s No. 2 Republican.

Two Planes Collide Leaving 4 People Dead (VIDEO)

Four people are dead after two small planes collided near a Central Florida lake on Tuesday, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

Winter Haven police and Winter Haven fire responded to Lake Hartridge at 2 p.m. when crews began a search by water and air.

The sheriff’s office identified the four victims as 24-year-old flight instructor Faith Baker, 19-year-old Polk State College student Zachary Mace, 67-year-old Randall Crawford from Pennsylvania and 78-year-old Louis Defazio of Texas.“It was an in-air collision and both planes immediately went into the water,” Polk County Chief Steve Lester said.

Investigators said Baker and Mace were in the Cherokee Piper 161 plane operated by Sunrise Aviation/Polk State College. Crawford and Defazio were reportedly in the Piper J-3 Cub seaplane operated by Jack Brown’s Seaplane Base in Winter Haven.

As of Wednesday, both planes are still in the lake and should be out by the end of the day, according to the sheriff’s office. “My heart goes out to the families and friends of those who were killed in today’s crash,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.

Caridad Fernandez lives off the lake where the planes went down. “All of a sudden it was a giant boom,” Fernandez said. “It literally sounded like when a rocket takes off and hits the atmosphere.”

Fernandez ran outside along with many of her neighbors. “We pretty much saw everything hit the water,” Fernandez said. She said no one was sure what had happened at first. But it wasn’t long before the lake was teeming with law enforcement. “It was just helicopter after helicopter after police siren. Everyone just kind of came in,” Fernandez said.

The crash is a tragic event. And an unsettling one for the people who spend a lot of time on the lake where it happened. “There’s kids on our lake, there’s people who jet ski on our lake,” Fernandez said. “That’s the lake I grew up on. That’s something where we would go tubing and everything else and now it’s kind of terrifying.”

The NTSB and FAA will investigate the cause and circumstances of the collision.


Original Article

Pilot “Didn’t Hear” Call Before Take-Off in Horror Sea World Helicopter Crash

A bombshell report into the Sea World helicopter crash on the Gold Coast in Australia, which resulted in the death of a British couple and pilot, has been released.

In the report, one pilot said he “did not recall” his fellow pilot making a standard taxiing call to say he was taking off before their helicopters collided and crashed, killing four people and injuring nine others.

Ashley “Ash” Jenkinson, 40, who had only recently become a father, died alongside three of his passengers – including British newlyweds Diane and Ron Hughes, 57 and 65.

Air crash investigators say pilot Michael James told them he saw five passengers boarding the second helicopter at a helipad near Sea World as he was coming in to land his aircraft with six passengers at another helipad nearby.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) says the pilot thought the second helicopter would pass behind his aircraft and he doesn’t remember the other pilot radioing him to say he was taking off.

A third helicopter pilot in the area at the time recalled hearing James’ inbound call but did not recall hearing a taxi call from the other pilot taking off.

A fourth helicopter pilot could not recall hearing calls from either of the two pilots involved in the crash before their aircraft collided.

However, ATSB commissioner Angus Mitchell said that evidence “did not necessarily mean that a taxiing call was not made” by the pilot taking off and investigators would probe the radio calls in the lead-up to the crash.

The report said the two Eurocopter EC130 helicopters were being operated by Sea World Helicopters (a separate corporate entity to the theme park) on five-minute scenic flights.

Vanessa Tadros, 36, a mom from New South Wales, UK, also died but her 10-year-old Nicholas son survived. He had been undergoing procedures in hospital since the accident and last week had his leg amputated from the knee down.

Victorian mother Winnie de Silva, 33, and her nine-year-old son Leon are recovering from injuries sustained in the crash.

ATSB Chief Commissioner Angus Mitchell said: “The ATSB has released this preliminary report to detail the circumstances of this tragic accident as we currently understand them, but it is important to stress that we are yet to make findings.

“Our findings as to the contributing factors to this accident, and the analysis to support those findings, will be detailed in a final report to be released at the conclusion of our investigation.”

Mitchell said the investigation will also look more broadly beyond the issues of radio calls and visibility.

“The ATSB will also consider the operator’s procedures and practices for operating scenic flights in the Sea World area and the process for implementing the recently-acquired EC130 helicopters into operation, and will review the regulatory surveillance of the operator and similar operators.”

He said it will be “a complex and comprehensive investigation”, adding that if the ATSB identifies a critical safety issue during the investigation, it will immediately alert the relevant parties so they can take appropriate action.

Original Article

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