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Several killed as Hurricane Laura slams southwestern Louisiana | USA News

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Hurricane Laura ripped through southwestern Louisiana on Thursday, destroying buildings in the city of Lake Charles and killing at least four people after making landfall in the early morning as one of the most powerful storms to hit the state.

The hurricane’s first reported US fatality was a 14-year-old girl in Leesville, Louisiana, who died when a tree fell on her house, a spokeswoman for Governor John Bel Edwards said.

“We do expect that there could be more fatalities,” the spokeswoman, Christina Stephens, said on Twitter.

A chemical plant caught fire in Laura’s wake on Thursday morning in Westlake, Louisiana, 4 miles (6.4 km) west of Lake Charles, sending thick black smoke billowing into the sky.

Governor Edwards warned residents in the area to shelter in place, close doors and windows and turn off air conditioners as authorities investigated.

“Stay inside and wait for additional direction from local officials,” Edwards wrote on Twitter.

Residents of Lake Charles heard Laura’s winds howling and the sound of breaking glass as the storm passed through the industrial city of 78,000 with winds of 85 miles per hour (137 km per hour) and gusts up to 128 mph (206 kph) in the hour after landfall.

Residents near Lake Charles reported ‘destruction everywhere’ [David J. Phillip/AP Photo]

The windows of the city’s 22-floor Capital One Tower were blown out, street signs were toppled and pieces of wooden fence and debris from collapsed buildings lay scattered in the flooded streets, video footage shared on social media showed.

“It looks like 1,000 tornadoes went through here. It’s just destruction everywhere,” said Brett Geymann, who rode out the storm with three family members in Moss Bluff, near Lake Charles. He described Laura passing over his house with the roar of a jet engine around 2am.

“There are houses that are totally gone. They were there yesterday, but now gone,” he told the Associated Press news agency.

Storm weakens after landfall

Laura made landfall just before 1am as a Category 4 storm packing winds of 150 mph (240 kph) in the small town of Cameron, Louisiana, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

It rapidly weakened to a Category 1 storm on Thursday morning with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph) and was forecast to become a tropical storm later in the day.

The NHC warned that high water levels would persist along the Gulf Coast for several hours as Laura moved north and then northeast.

A man uses a saw to cut a tree limb downed after Hurricane Laura made landfall in Lake Charles, Louisiana, U.S., on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. Hurricane Laura raked across Louisiana early on Thursday, b

Hurricane Laura became one of the most powerful storms ever to hit Louisiana with a “catastrophic storm surge,” flash floods and devastating winds [Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg]

Besides threatening life, the storm slammed the heart of the US oil industry, forcing oil rigs and refineries to shut down production.

The Port of Lake Charles remained closed as workers were unable to enter or exit the facility due to downed power lines and trees.

The port avoided significant flooding but power was out as of Thursday morning, manager of security and safety Ed Manint said, according to Reuters news agency. The harbour police were assessing the damage, he said.

‘Less surge than we thought’

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Pete Gaynor told Fox News that the agency would make storm damage assessments on Thursday and had the resources to respond to the storm now, adding he expected to see significant damage from wind and building damage.

“I think we’re generally fortunate – less surge than we thought,” Gaynor said.

The NHC on Wednesday predicted storm surge would be “unsurvivable” and could penetrate up to 40 miles inland. While the worst projections had not materialised, damaging winds and flooding rainfall would continue spreading inland later on Thursday, the NHC said.

Laura could spawn tornadoes on Thursday over Louisiana, Arkansas and western Mississippi, and was expected to drop 4 to 8 inches of rain (101 to 203 mm) across portions of that region, the NHC said.

US President Donald Trump on Thursday approved an emergency declaration for Arkansas, the White House said, authorising federal officials to coordinate relief efforts and freeing up federal funds. He had approved an emergency declaration for Texas on Monday.

Trump was scheduled to visit FEMA’s headquarters in the early afternoon to receive a briefing on the hurricane.

Emergency personnel arrive to survey the aftermath of Hurricane Laura in Sulphur, Louisiana, U.S., August 27, 2020. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Emergency services began assessing damage on Thursday [Adrees Latif/Reuters]

Texas largely spared

The eastern coastal counties of Texas that had braced for the worst were largely spared Laura’s rage.

Galveston’s acting mayor, Craig Brown, told MSNBC he was cancelling the island city’s evacuation on Thursday after the storm turned more towards Louisiana. The mayor of Beaumont, Texas, Becky Ames, told MSNBC the situation was “manageable”.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott was planning to travel to east Texas to survey the damage on Thursday, his spokesman said.

Around 650,000 homes and businesses in Louisiana and Texas were without power early on Thursday, and local utilities in the storm’s path warned outage numbers would climb as the storm marched inland.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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FDC activists win Bank of Uganda pig case by simply keeping quiet

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FDC activists Augustine Ojobile and Robert Mayanja

Buganda Road Magistrate’s court has acquitted two opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) activists Augustine Ojobile and Robert Mayanja of common nuisance charges.

FDC deputy chief administrative officer Ojobile and Mayanja have been acquitted by the grade one magistrate Fidelis Otwao on charges stemming from their protest held in November 2018 when they carried pig heads to the central police station (CPS) in Kampala protesting the rot in the Bank of Uganda that had reportedly resulted into the closure of a number of commercial banks in the country for many years.


According to them, corruption at the Central bank had been the sole ingredient for the closure of commercial banks in Uganda over the years because it reportedly mismanaged them and made erroneous decisions that led to their closure.

With fresh pig heads tied around their necks and stinking blood oozing across their white T-shirts, Mayanja and Ojobile walked through the streets of Kampala to the police in a protest that was spearheaded by their pressure group known as the Jobless Youth.

One pig head had a placard bearing the name of the former and late BOU governor Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile and the other of his former deputy Louis Kasekende.

The protest at CPS came a few days after another that was staged at the Central bank where two piglets were dumped bearing the name of Juma Kisaame (a Muslim), the former managing director of DFCU bank. 

As a result, the duo was arrested and taken to Buganda Road court on charges of common nuisance and the prosecution adduced evidence from five witnesses who included police officers and Muslims who were reportedly angered by the protest.

According to the witnesses, the actions of Mayanja and Ojobile were annoying to the people whose names were mentioned and tagged on pig heads, and the smell that was coming out of the fresh pig heads was most likely to result in injury to a considerable number of the public by affecting their health, and the protest affected businesses since some shops allegedly had to close to see what was happening outside due to their commotion.

But when Mayanja and Ojobile were asked to defend themselves over the allegations, the duo that didn’t have legal representation chose to keep quiet as their defense and let the court make its decision based on what the prosecution witnesses had testified to.

In a judgement read today Friday by Otwao, he indicated that the evidence from the prosecution witnesses is wanting because none of the people alleged to have been annoyed by the actions of the activists testified in the case or recorded a statement with police.

According to Otwao, the testimonies were based on what the witnesses were feeling as individuals and that there were no abusive statements on the pig heads that the prosecution had indicated which would cause annoyance, save for putting the names of people only. 

As such, the court has ruled that such testimonies cannot be relied on to convict a person because the prosecution has failed to prove that there was common injury, danger to the public or destruction of property.

Consequently, the magistrate has acquitted the duo and directed that each of them starts the process to seek a refund of the Shs 500,000 that each had paid to be released on bail.

The activists have welcomed the ruling saying that the court has recognized that the citizens have a right to protest peacefully.

The pig protests have been commonly used by activists who subscribe to this group known as the Jobless Brotherhood which has since rebranded to the “Alternative”.

In 2016, their members including Luta Ferdinand who is now facing trial in the court-martial on different charges, and Joseph Lukwago were arrested for dumping piglets at parliament protesting the Shs 200 million given to each MP for buying personal cars.



Source – observer.ug

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Saudi Arabia executes 81 people in a single day | Death Penalty News

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The death penalty applied for a range of charges in the largest known mass execution carried out in the kingdom’s modern history.

Saudi Arabia has executed 81 men over the past 24 hours, including seven Yemenis and one Syrian national, on charges including “allegiance to foreign terrorist organisations” and holding “deviant beliefs”, state news agency Saudi Press Agency said, in the largest known mass execution carried out in the kingdom in its modern history.

The number dwarfed the 67 executions reported in the kingdom in 2021 and the 27 in 2020.

“These individuals … were convicted of various crimes including murdering innocent men, women and children,” SPA said on Saturday, citing a statement from the interior ministry.

“Crimes committed by these individuals also include pledging allegiance to foreign terrorist organisations, such as ISIS [ISIL], al-Qaeda and the Houthis,” it added.

Some travelled to conflict zones to join “terrorist organisations”, according to the SPA.

“The accused were provided with the right to an attorney and were guaranteed their full rights under Saudi law during the judicial process,” it said.

“The kingdom will continue to take a strict and unwavering stance against terrorism and extremist ideologies that threaten the stability of the entire world,” the report added.

The men included 37 Saudi nationals who were found guilty in a single case for attempting to assassinate security officers and targeting police stations and convoys, the report added.

Saudi Arabia’s last mass execution was in January 2016, when the kingdom executed 47 people, including a prominent opposition Shia leader who had rallied demonstrations in the kingdom.

In 2019, the kingdom beheaded 37 Saudi citizens, most of them minority Shia, in a mass execution across the country for alleged “terrorism”-related crimes.

Saudi Arabia’s human rights records have been under increasing scrutiny from rights groups and Western allies since the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

It has faced strong criticism of its restrictive laws on political and religious expression, and the implementation of the death penalty, including for defendants arrested when they were minors.

Saudi Arabia denies accusations of human rights abuses and says it protects its national security according to its laws.

SPA said the accused were provided with the right to a lawyer and were guaranteed their full rights under Saudi law during the judicial process.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Nigerian student in Ukraine: 'Mummy we keep hearing bombs'

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Hauwa’s son Suleiman is a Nigerian student in Sumy – she says the family are fearful and anxious.



Source – www.bbc.co.uk

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