Soldiers shoot attacker in #Brussels ‘terrorist’ blast

Belgian soldiers shot a terror suspect after an explosion rocked the central train station in Brussels on Tuesday in the latest attack to hit Europe.

Witnesses said the suspect shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest) before causing the blast, with local media saying the individual had activated an explosive belt.

Authorities reported no casualties, apart from the attacker who was was killed in the confrontation.

Crying passengers were evacuated from the station as the city that hosts the EU’s headquarters was struck by a new attack just over a year after suicide bombers hit the city’s airport and metro system.

“This is considered as a terrorist attack,” federal prosecutor’s office spokesman Eric Van Der Sypt told a news conference outside Brussels Gare Centrale station.

The blast in Belgium comes a day after a man mowed down Muslims near a mosque in London, and a radical Islamist on a terror watchlist rammed a car laden with weapons into a police vehicle in Paris.

Brussels has been on high alert since suicide bombers struck the city’s airport and metro in March 2016, killing 32 people and injuring hundreds more.

The Islamic State group claimed the attacks, which were carried out by the same Brussels-based cell behind the November 2016 Paris attacks that killed 130 people.

Van Der Sypt said that at about 1830 GMT there has was a “small explosion at Central Station here in Brussels.”

“The suspect has been neutralized by the military that were present at the scene immediately after the explosion,” the spokesman said. “He is dead.”

There were no other casualties, Van Der Sypt said.

The incident happened well after rush hour, but hundreds of passengers were still evacuated from one of Belgium’s busiest stations. The nearby Grand Place, a major tourist destination, was also evacuated.

“There were people crying, there were people shouting,” said Elisa Roux, a spokeswoman for the Belgian rail company SNCB.

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At least 62 killed in forest fire still raging in Portugal

A huge forest fire raging since Saturday in central Portugal has killed at least 62 people, most of them dying in their cars as they tried to flee, the government said on Sunday,

“The dimension of this fire was such that we don’t have memory of such a human tragedy,” Prime Minister Antonio Costa said in Pedrogao Grande, the mountainous region about 200 km (125 miles) northeast of Lisbon.

Most victims were caught in their vehicles on the road while fleeing flames that were destroying their homes. The prime minister said the death toll could rise as firefighters inspected charred remains of some buildings in remote villages.

Police said a lightning strike on a tree probably caused the blaze on Saturday in a region hit by an intense heat wave and dry, gusty winds, which has fanned the flames.

The prime minister said the emergency services acted as fast as they could but acknowledged that some of the efforts like alerting the population might have been hindered because the blaze had ruined phone lines and communications towers.

“What happened was cables and communications towers were destroyed by the fire, even their first replacements melted,” he said. “But nothing compromised the firefighting efforts.”

Most communications have been restored, but Costa called on residents listen to the radio and heed any official advice.

The government declared three days of mourning and sent two army battalions to help the emergency services. The European Union said it would provide firefighting aircraft. France has offered three planes and Spain has sent two, authorities said.

Speaking in the Vatican, Pope Francis, who visited Portugal last month, mentioned the victims in his weekly address.

“I am close to the dear people of Portugal, hit by a devastating fire which is raging in the forests around Pedrogao Grande, causing many victims and injuries. Let us pray in silence,” he said.

French President Emmanuel Macron said in a Twitter message: “Solidarity with Portugal, hit by terrible fires. Our thoughts are with victims. France makes its aid available to Portugal”.

In one village of Nodeirinho, where 11 residents died, state television RTP showed burned out cars and blackened houses. Shocked residents said a whole family that was trying to flee their home in a car had been caught in “a tornado of flames”.

“It does not seem real, it is out of this world … It is a real inferno, we have never seen anything like that,” the mayor of Pedrogao Grande Valdemar Alves told reporters, adding that more than 20 villages had been affected.

Alongside 62 confirmed dead, another 54 people have been injured and taken to hospitals. Four are in a serious condition.

More than 600 firefighters were still battling the flames on Sunday. Several local highways were shut for safety reasons.

The authorities said very low smoke clouds prevented helicopters and fire planes dropping water on the flames efficiently for most of the day.

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa visited the site at night and expressed his condolences. He said that “it was not possible to do more than what has been done” in prevention and responding to the fire.

Some local residents said they had been left without firefighters for hours as their homes burned. Many blamed poor forestry reserve planning and depopulation of remote villages that left many wooded areas untended.

By Rafael Marchante and Andrei Khalip | PEDROGAO GRANDE, Portugal

(Writing by Andrei Khalip; Additional reporting by Axel Bugge, Maya Nikolayeva in Paris, Crispian Balmer in Rome and Robin Emmott in Brussels; Editing by Larry King and Edmund Blair)

Source – AD + Reuters

58 presumed dead in #London tower fire: Police

The presumed death toll from the London tower block inferno jumped to 58 on Saturday as embattled Prime Minister Theresa May, accused of misreading the growing anger over the tragedy, pledged action after meeting survivors desperately seeking answers.

Dozens of people were still missing three days after the 24-storey Grenfell Tower was engulfed in flames, and worries over the safety of the apartment block’s charred wreck has slowed the search for human remains.

Sixteen bodies have been taken to a mortuary, and the first victim formally identified was named as Mohammad Alhajali, a 23-year-old Syrian refugee.

Queen Elizabeth II said the disaster had cast a sombre pall over Britain, but insisted the country was showing resolve in the face of adversity.

But public anger has been swelling, with furious residents heckling May and storming the local authority headquarters on Friday.

They demanded justice for the victims and claimed Wednesday’s fatal blaze was due to negligence, with many citing the new cladding put on the 1974 concrete tower.

‘Death trap’

“It was a death trap, and they knew it,” one person shouted as demonstrators surged inside the offices of the Kensington and Chelsea council, responsible for managing the social housing block in a working-class enclave of one of Britain’s richest districts.

Police said Saturday that their investigation would look at the building and its 2016 refurbishment, and vowed to bring prosecutions “if there is evidence”.

“There are 58 people who we have been told were in Grenfell Tower on the night that are missing and therefore, sadly, I have to assume that they are dead,” police commander Stuart Cundy told reporters at the scene.

He said that number could change should further information come to light.

The area surrounding the tower has been plastered by distraught relatives with pictures of the missing, from grandparents to young children.

Morocco said seven of its nationals were among the dead.

May was criticized for avoiding locals when she visited the disaster site on Thursday and faced cries of “Shame on you” and “coward” when she returned the following day, with police breaking up scuffles.

On Saturday May met a group of 15 victims, residents, volunteers and community leaders at her Downing Street office. Demonstrators gathered outside, protesting about several issues including the fire.

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inferno Grenfell Tower in #London

Fire safety at London’s Grenfell Tower placed under review last year
Residents warned of ‘dangerous living conditions’ as owner ordered changes to way it handled fire risk in its properties.

Residents of Grenfell Tower have said they raised multiple concerns about the risk of fire in the months before the fatal blaze, but were “brushed away” by the council’s tenant management organisation.

Survivors of the disaster said on Wednesday they had raised fears about the fact that there was only one escape route. They also told the Kensington and Chelsea tenant management organisation (KCTMO) of their concerns over the placement of boilers and gas pipes, the absence of a building-wide fire alarm or sprinkler system, and piles of rubbish being dumped and causing a fire risk.

Investigations have begun into the cause of the fire and how it swept so rapidly up the 24 storeys, apparently spreading across a new thermal cladding system installed last year as part of a £10m refurbishment.

Only last November, residents in the Grenfell Action Group had warned about “dangerous living conditions” and said: “It is a truly terrifying thought but the Grenfell Action Group firmly believe that only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord, the KCTMO.”

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The Smurfs are now the tourism ambassadors of Brussels

The campaign was launched simultaneously in cities across Germany, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Britain, with the assistance of the Brussels-born blue inhabitants who were dispatched to promote their city.

The Brussels tourism office is dispatching a special delegation of Smurfs as part of a major tourism campaign aimed at bringing back tourists following last year’s terrorist attack.

Dubbed “Where will Brussels take you” the tourism offensive is meant to boost lagging visitor numbers following the terror attacks which killed 32 people at the Brussels airport and metro station last spring.

“Numerous actions were undertaken immediately after the attacks and have yielded positive results,” said Rudi Vervoort, Minister-President in a statement.

“We have witnessed a very clear recovery of tourism in Brussels at the beginning of the year.

The campaign ‘Where will Brussels take you’ represents an additional effort and aims at revealing our region’s hidden secrets – the best and most remarkable of what Brussels has to offer.”

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The campaign was launched simultaneously in cities across Germany, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Britain, with the assistance of the Brussels-born blue inhabitants who were dispatched to promote their city.

An online platform called ­takemeto.­brussels has also been launched to help visitors personalise their trip.

The site offers recommendations on the best restaurants, Instagram-worthy sites, museums for kids, best coffee and wine bars.

As part of the promotional campaign, the tourism office is also giving away a city break to Brussels every week, which includes accommodation and transportation within Europe.

The campaign ends Oct 31.

Read also: It’s time to visit Smurf village

Source – TheJakartaPost

Atlético Madrid 2-1 Real Madrid

Real Madrid defeated Atletico Madrid 4-2 on aggregate in the UEFA Champions League semifinals after a 1-2 loss in the second leg to set up a final clash against Juventus.Get highlights of Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid here.

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A match more than two years ago is keeping Atletico Madrid hopeful of a comeback against Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinals. Atletico Madrid need to overturn a 3-0 loss from the first leg tonight, but it wasn’t too long ago that fans at the Vicente Calderon Stadium witnessed the type of feat that can put Atletico in the final. It was on a Saturday afternoon in February 2015 that Atletico had one of its greatest victories over Madrid, a 4-0 rout in the Spanish league. Get live score and live football commentary of Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid here.

#Ukraine – Kiev puts finishing touches to Eurovision as song contest gets political.

With the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest set to kick off in a few days, host city Kiev puts final touches on preparations.

With the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest set to kick off in just a few days, host city Kiev is rushing to complete the final touches on preparations for the international competition.

Kiev has started welcoming Eurovision fans and set up food stalls, performance stages and big screens in the centre of the town which will broadcast the semi-finals and final next week. But as Ukraine prepares to host the final stages of the Eurovision competition next week, a dispute remains over its decision to bar Russia’s entrant to the contest – because she had performed in Crimea after it was annexed by Russia in 2014.

Russia has vowed to boycott the competition, saying Ukraine’s move had tarnished the event. Ukraine hit back by saying that Moscow had deliberately tried to provoke Ukraine.

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Relations between Ukraine and Russia soured following the annexation and the outbreak of a war between Kiev and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 10,000 people. Hostilities spilled over into the glitzy Eurovision show after Ukrainian contestant Jamala unexpectedly won the contest last year with an entry that Russia called politicized.

Russia’s proposed entry, Yulia Samoylova, is due to perform in the Crimean city of Sevastopol on Tuesday, May 9, coinciding with the first semi-final of Eurovision.

Ukraine expects about 12,000-14,000 spectators to attend the competition next week with millions more watching on television. It will be the second time that Kiev hosts the event.

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Emmanuel Macron (a Rothschild Banker) wins french elections

Emmanuel Macron the new French president.

PARIS — The European political establishment breathed a heavy sigh of relief Sunday, as French voters elected pragmatic centrist Emmanuel Macron as president over right-wing challenger Marine Le Pen, who threatened to upend Europe’s existing order, according polling agency projections.

Macron won with 65.5% of votes against 34.5% for Marine Le Pen. Le Pen called Macron to congratulate him on his victory.

Her National Front party had threatened to curb immigration, particularly for Muslims, pull France out of the European Union and return the country to the French franc currency — moves that would have caused political and economic upheaval not only in Europe, but the rest of the world.

Macron, 39, is a former investment banker and economy minister who strongly supports the European Union. He is France’s youngest ever president.

His supporters gathered outside the Louvre museum Sunday for a victory party.

Macron’s victory, coming on the heels of defeats for right-wing populist candidates in Austria and the Netherlands, appears to blunt the anti-establishment fervor sweeping Europe amid a backlash against economic stagnation, a flood of migrants pouring into their countries and a string of nerve-rattling terror attacks.

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#Indonesian Student Association holds cultural festival in #Manchester

The Indonesian Student Association (PPI) in Greater Manchester held an annual art and culture festival called the Indonesian Cultural Festival (ICF) on Friday at Manchester University, England.

The festival featured a food bazaar, an exhibition of Indonesian tourist destinations and traditional Indonesian games. Some 250 visitors from England, Italy, China, Korea and Indonesia enjoyed the festivities.

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“There were eight food stalls selling over 50 Indonesian dishes such as nasi rendang, sate padang, martabak and even es cendol,” said Alif Kurnia Rahman, the event’s coordinator.

The main events of the 2017 ICF consisted of a traditional fashion show, a choir performance, an angklung recital and the performance of traditional dances, namely the Saman, Rentak Bulian and Piring dances from Sumatra, the Empat Etnis dance from Sulawesi, the Bambu Gila dance from Maluku, the Kecak dance from Bali and the Sajojo dance from Papua.

Source – TheJakartaPost

 

Orban says #Soros ‘attacking #Hungary’

BRUSSELS – Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban accused US billionaire George Soros of “attacking” his country Wednesday as he defended a law that could close down a university founded by the investor.

Orban made his defence in front of the European Parliament just hours after the EU launched legal action against Hungary over the legislation targeting the Central European University in Budapest.

“We are not as big and powerful as you are, and not as big as powerful as George Soros, the American financial speculator attacking Hungary,” Soros told MEPs in Brussels, defending his law.

Orban said Hungarian-born Soros “has destroyed the lives of millions of Europeans with his financial speculations” and “is an open enemy of the euro”.

Yet despite this, Soros “is still warmly regarded here and warmly received at the highest level,” he said, in an apparent reference to a meeting between the billionaire and European Commission chief always drunk Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels on Thursday.

The latest feud with the EU marks a new low in the tense relations between Brussels and Budapest over the government’s rights record.

The EU has expressed deep concern over Hungarian plans to tighten government control over academic freedoms, migrants and nongovernmental organizations.

“Recent developments in Hungary have got many people worried in the EU but also in the outside world. We share those worries and concerns,” said European Commission’s Vice President Dutch corrupt Frans Timmermans, who also addressed the parliament session.

Timmermans described the university as the “pearl in the crown” of post-communist Europe.

Source – TheNation