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Saudi’s Murtaja Qureiris Faces Death Penalty After Agonizing Detention

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Saudi’s Murtaja Qureiris Faces Death Penalty After Agonizing Detention, Murtaja Qureiris

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had stated in 2017 that the death penalty “can only be imposed for the most serious offenses and subject to the strictest controls” after due process. Then why doesn’t it appear to be the same in the ongoing case of Murtaja Qureiris?

As the public prosecutors seek death penalty for him, Saudi’s justification of its merciless legal sentence for violations fall short. An 18-year-old member of the country’s Shiite minority, Murtaja has been accused of crimes that he allegedly committed at a young age of 10. Besides, the Kingdom has held him for more than four years without any charges.

The Saudi teenager has been in jail since the age of 13, when he was arrested in September 2014. It was in August 2018 when the public prosecutor’s office charged him with participation in the protests and suggested his execution.

Murtaja Qureiris was also accused of joining a “terrorist organization” and throwing molotov cocktails at a police station. The prosecutors are also calling for his body to be crucified or dismembered afterwards.

Infuriated human rights groups say that a death sentence for a teenager would be one of the most flagrant violations of international law of protections for children.

Amnesty International’s Middle East research director, Lynn Maalouf stated, “It is appalling that Murtaja Qureiris is facing execution for offenses that include taking part in protests while he was just 10 years old.”

The Saudi executions practice, where the offenders are often beheaded, is not hidden from the world. While its government claims to reserve such penalties for severe crimes, right groups say that it is also sought for minor offenses, minority groups and activists defying the rulers. Moreover, the executions typically come after years of imprisonment, torture and a sham trial.

Considering the situation where public prosecutors are now seeking death penalty for another teenager, the Kingdom’s brutality is hard to deny.

Under the regime of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia has executed several dissents, as well as Shiites. For Murtaja Qureiris, the situation is critical as he belongs to the family of activists in Qatif province, where both his father and elder brother were participating in protests during 2011.

While his brother Ali Qureiris had lost his life during the protests, Murtaja was detained for leading a crowd of children in bike protests.

The country that has been curbing the rights of people to voice out their opinions; Saudi Arabia will be crossing all possible limits of atrocity by killing a teenager for the act committed at a tender age. While the next hearing of his case could be within weeks, will the Kingdom back off from killing the childhood it has been detaining from years?

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NBA Star Kobe Bryant Leaves Void as World Mourns Tragic Air Crash

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NBA Star Kobe Bryant Leaves Void as World Mourns Tragic Air Crash

He was named 18 times in the NBA All-Star team, won five NBA titles with LA Lakers and two Olympic gold medals with the US national team, there was only but one Kobe Bryant, who was taken away in a tragic air accident on Sunday.

The US Basketball legend who was on board with his daughter Gianna and seven others, lost their lives in a crash in the city of Calabasas, California. As reported, Kobe, among others was in his private helicopter, when it came down on Sunday morning and burst into flames.

Other victims involved in the crash whose identity have been revealed include Orange Coast College head baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa – who played in the same basketball team as Bryant’s daughter – and the girl’s coach Christina Mauser.

The crash site, which was near a residential area in the city of Calabasas, was said to be about the size of football field.

Bryant, played for LA Lakers throughout his 20-year-career and is regarded as one of the best to have ever played the game. He also famously scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors in 2006, the second-highest single-game total in NBA history.

Outside basketball, Kobe Bryant won an Oscar for the best short animated film in 2018 for Dear Basketball, a five-minute motion picture based on a love letter he had written to Basketball in 2015.

As the news of Bryant’s death broke, tributes from celebrities and fans around the globe poured in. He was also remembered at the Grammy Awards, with host Alicia Keys saying, “We’re all feeling crazy sadness right now.” “Because earlier today Los Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero. We’re literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built,” she added highlighting how ironically were the Grammy Awards scheduled to be held at Los Angeles Lakers’ stadium on the very day of Bryant’s death.

Meanwhile, the NBA also issued the statement stating it was “devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna”. “For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning,” the association added.

Investigation Launched

Federal safety investigators opened an investigation on Sunday into the helicopter crash that killed Bryant. The helicopter, identified as a Sikorsky S-76B, crashed at around 9.47am, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) member Jennifer Homendy said in a press conference.

The investigators said that though there was dense fog and low visibility in the area, but it is not immediately clear if that is was what led to the air crash. The NTSB is sending a “go team” to the crash site and will evaluate the helicopter’s maintenance records, the pilot of the helicopter, and look into the owner and operator of S-76B, Homendy informed yesterday.

Tributes to the Legend

Michael Jordon led the tributes to his fellow NBA legend Bryant stating that he was “one of the greats of the game and a creative force”.

“I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe’s and Gianna’s passing. Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling. I loved Kobe – he was like a brother to me. We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much. He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force,” he added.

The former US President Barack Obama also shared the grief over the loss and said: “Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.”

Kenyan long-distance runner Eliud KipchogeI said: “I join the whole world and sporting fraternity in mourning the death of NBA basketball star Kobe Bryant and his daughter in a fatal helicopter crash in the United States. “

“My deepest heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends and fans. Rest in peace Kobe,” he added.

The world has certainly lost a star – a star that did magic with a basketball in his hand, a super dad who loved his family more than anything and a great mentor who inspired millions to play the game. Rest in peace, Kobe Bryant!

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Wild Animal Markets Jeopardizing Human Lives as Coronavirus Spreads

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Wild Animal Markets Jeopardizing Human Lives as Coronavirus Spreads

Beginning their new year, people in China were expected to carry on their usual get together and celebrations until coronavirus outbreak kicked in and claimed more than 40 lives.

Known as 2019-nCoV, the pneumonia-like coronavirus has spread its roots from Wuhan to other Chinese provinces. And now in order to curb the crisis, wild animal markets have been called for ban by experts, both in and outside China.

The group of experts have argued that the sale of endangered species for human consumption have given rise to outbreaks like coronavirus. The Huanan seafood market in Wuhan, which has been shut following claims that it was the source of infection, is home to a wide variety of animals both live and slaughtered.

The list of animals at the Da Zhong domestic include, live wolf pups, golden, cicadas, scorpions, bamboo rats, squirrels, foxes, civets, hedgehogs, salamanders, turtles and crocodiles.

Back in 2002-03, after Sars – the severe acute respiratory syndrome similar to coronavirus – got spread, there was a partial cease on the wild animal markets. Chinese scientists at that time wrote papers to spread awareness on perils of permitting people to eat and trade wild meat.

However, the markets are operating again and are catering to large number of people across China, Vietnam and other parts of south-east Asia, said Prof Diana Bell from the University of East Anglia’s School of Biological Sciences.

Evolution has been central to human being’s survival, but it feels uncanny to state how will they adapt to new viruses, when proper vaccination is unavailable to a number of past diseases.

Ironically, when Ebola came from monkeys who were infected by bats and eaten in the African bush, its possible explanation was poverty. But in China, eating wild meat is a luxury.

“These have now become luxury items,” said Bell. “It’s a perfect storm. There is a shift from subsistence hunting to feed your family – that might make your family sick but it doesn’t go anywhere else. Now, these animals are being sold into a multibillion pound illegal trade, right up there with drugs. They cost more than livestock,” she added.

Although reports have highlighted that the coronaviruses behind both Sars and Mers (Middle East respiratory syndrome) were traced and linked to bats, it is still not necessary that other wild rodents cannot be blamed for the chaos.

The issue with eating wildlife meat is menacing and not luxury, where human beings have become transmitters of dangerous viruses. The Wildlife Conservative Society is also calling for the closure of live animal markets that sell wildlife for human consumption. Currently, it is not known how long will it take to control coronavirus outbreak, but the first major step must be to shut all markets that are jeopardizing existence of human lives.

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Davos 2020: Greta, Trump Open Debate of Economy and Sustainability

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Davos 2020: Greta, Trump Open Debate of Economy and Sustainability

Davos 2020 brings silent rivals, Greta and Trump, together!

Globe’s biggest elite businessmen gathering, the World Economic Forum is back in Davos, Switzerland. The 50th annual meet up in the Swiss Alps convened the honchos of politics and business on January 21, to enlighten the panel on the theme “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World”.

The opening day of Davos 2020 passed under the dominance of cold rivals — the US President Donald Trump and the climate activist Greta Thunberg. The teenage activist gave a grim message stating that everybody is talking about climate change, but no one is taking any action.

However, President Trump attacked her climate crisis warnings, stating that the world should stop listening to “prophets of doom”. Like never before, the two didn’t meet face-to-face at the WEF too, leaving the global business leaders in a dilemma about who they were referring to.

The annual gathering was largely seen as a billionaires’ stadium, where the rich debated. However, Greta Thunberg’s appearance on the first day of Davos 2020 signalled relevance of global warming in business circles, but only few leaders from the chiefly responsible industries were present at the panel.

Although corporate executives boast of their increasing concerns about the environment, Thunberg stated that none of it is enough. “The climate and environment is a hot topic right now, thanks to young people pushing,” the 17-year-old said at the Swiss ski resort on Tuesday. “Pretty much nothing has been done, since the global emissions of CO2 have not reduced.”

Politicians from the left, the right and the centre, all have failed in striving sustainability, she said. “No political ideology or economic structure has managed to tackle the climate and environmental emergency and create a cohesive and sustainable world.”

The Swedish environmental activist also mocked the US President’s claim that his concern for environment could be seen as he supported the initiative of planting 1tn trees. “Planting trees is good, of course, but it’s nowhere near enough, and it cannot replace real mitigation and re-wilding nature. We don’t need to lower emissions. Emissions need to stop,” she argued.

Greta Thunberg’s alarming words at Davos 2020 shouted of the climate crisis and demanded immediate resolutions. “We don’t want it done in 2050, 2030, or even 2021, we want it done now,” she stated.

However, Donald Trump said that it is “a time for optimism” and “not a time for pessimism”. As Greta watched from the audience, Trump continued, “We must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse. They are the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune tellers.”

The Greta-Trump visible and unspoken clash first came to light, when the teenage activist was filmed staring furiously at Trump in September 2019 at the United Nations.

Besides, shortly after Greta was named person of the year by Time magazine in December, Trump tweeted, “Greta must work on her anger management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!”

In response, the Swedish activist changed her Twitter biography to, “A teenager working on her anger management problem.”

While Davos 2020 saw steaming debates over climate issue on the very first day, a lot is due to come on the three-day annual gathering. After Greta, hundreds of other climate activists are due to arrive on foot at the ski resort. The activists, who “are tired of empty promises”, will reportedly stage a demonstration calling for the end of the World Economic Forum.

It’s another year of the businessmen and politicians get together, where the debates and networking is the key agenda of the leaders. The President of world’s one of the most influential countries, Trump was seen boasting of America’s growth record.

On its 50th anniversary, Davos certainly is expected to see a transformation, where the youth fighting for climate will be launching endless questions at the leaders.

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Coronavirus Introduces its Latest Version in China Creating Havoc

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Coronavirus

Last updated on January 24th, 2020

China will soon be entering a new year, but with an unfamiliar coronavirus spreading amongst people. With the Lunar New Year holiday approaching, the period of the largest global annual migration of people is being accompanied this time by a threat of sickness and deaths.

Known as 2019-nCoV, the pneumonia-like coronavirus has spread from Wuhan to several Chinese provinces, as well as the US, Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Macau and South Korea. Besides, a total of 570 sickened people have been confirmed, while 17 died.

Citing the outbreak, Chinese authorities earlier urged people to avoid travelling in and out of the city with a population of 11 million, Wuhan. “Basically, do not go to Wuhan. And those in Wuhan please do not leave the city,” said National Health Commission vice-minister Li Bin.

Transportation, including all flights and passenger train services out of Wuhan would be stopped from Thursday, said officials. While bus, subway and ferry services would also be shut down. A special command centre in Wuhan said that the move was meant to “resolutely contain the momentum of the epidemic spreading”.

This week, Beijing reported that human-to-human transmission of the virus had taken place. It is understood to be a latest in line of coronavirus, which has never been identified in humans. The signs of infections have been reported to include fever, cough, respiratory symptoms, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

The authorities admitted that the country was now at the “most critical stage” of prevention and control. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday announced that it will not yet declare the outbreak a “global emergency”.

Global emergency declaration by the WHO is the highest level of alarm, which has previously been tagged with swine flu, Zika virus and Ebola. After a day of discussions in Geneva, Director General Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus stated that the declaration would be required about the spread of the coronavirus.

According to the reports, the committee of health experts is scheduled to meet again on Thursday.

The outbreak has become a greater challenge because of the Lunar New Year, a week long holiday to begin on January 25. The Chinese government had estimated that the country’s people would be making around three billion trips during the holiday period. The huge flux of travel is expected to make it more difficult for the country to contain this unknown version of coronavirus.

Despite the difficulties, the authorities — not alone in China but also in other countries — are striving their best to control the consequences and their spread. Several nations have put checkpoints at airports to examine travellers from China. While the virus is still unfamiliar, people are only being requested to be extra careful.

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Qatar’s migrant labor issues do not appear changing anytime soon

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Qatar’s migrant labor issues not ending sooner

Qatar, on January 16, removed exit restrictions for mostly all migrant workers in a move to avoid exploitation upbraid before the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Earlier migrants, majorly from India, Nepal and the Philippines, sought exit permit from their employers before leaving Qatar, which was largely seen as a right abuse.

The new reform has been hailed by the expatriate population in Qatar as they believe it is a significant step towards abolishing the infamous Kafala System in the country.

The Gulf nation is expecting a major boost in its economy and infrastructure during the 2022 FIFA World Cup, hence the authorities are going all out to create a modern setup that protects expats working across different sectors.

Previously, Qatar exempted a number of foreign migrant workers, falling under specific categories, from exit visas. The country’s working-class population, including domestic workers, the oil and gas sector, agriculture sector, government and public institution staff, and personnel employed at sea were not entitled to the reform.

However, the obligation to obtain exit permit is applicable to members of the armed forces, and for a handful of workers holding higher position in companies.

Under the new policy, Qatar migrant workers are required to inform their employers at least 72 hours prior to leaving the country.

Rothna Begum, women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch said, “Qatar has taken an important step to eliminate a tool of control that employers sometimes used to exploit workers and keep them entrapped in abusive situations.”

According to a government statement, “Employers have the right to identify a maximum of 5% of their workforce whose exit from Qatar will continue to require prior approval.”

The HRW raised a concern that if domestic workers were required to inform employers about their plan to leave might prove problematical for workers trying to escape abusive or exploitative situations.

The government has also listed penalties for foreign domestic workers, such as, imposing a four-year ban on re-entering Qatar and a deprivation of wages, in case they fail to inform their employers before leaving.

Right workers from Amnesty International have expressed dilemma over Qatar’s new reform as the call to relieve the worker of their duties still remains with the employer. The new reform looks promising but is not enough to ensure the welfare of workers as it has other implications that subdue its real impact.

After Qatar‘s announcement to abolish exit permit system, Saudi Arabia remains the only Gulf nation to still enforce the obligation on its migrant workers.

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