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Belgian King Philippe appoints Bart De Wever to form government

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Belgian King Philippe appoints Bart De Wever to form government

Brussels, July 10 (IANS) Belgium’s King Philippe appointed Bart De Wever, president of the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), to form the federal government on Wednesday.

De Wever, who was received at the Royal Palace Wednesday morning, submitted his final report as “preformateur” to the King. He has accepted the mission as “formateur” and will conduct negotiations with various political parties to form a new federal government, reporting back to the King on July 24.

De Wever, while serving as preformateur, received the endorsement of four political parties ready to enter into coalition negotiations, including the Mouvement Reformateur (MR) and Les Engages on the French-speaking side, and the CD&V and Vooruit on the Dutch-speaking side, reported Xinhua news agency.

In all, five political parties currently form the basis of a future federal government, pending the outcome of negotiations to be led by De Wever.

Negotiations among the coalition parties will cover diverse issues, including socio-economic recovery, investment in healthcare, boosting the purchasing power of low-income earners and activation of jobseekers.

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–IANS

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US Secret Service chief quits over Trump assassination bid

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US Secret Service chief quits over Trump assassination bid

US Secret Service chief quits over Trump assassination bid

Washington, July 23, IANS) US Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle tendered her resignation on Tuesday, a day after she faced brutal bipartisan grilling at a Congressional hearing on the assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for President, at an election rally in Pennsylvania on July 13.

Lawmakers were frustrated with Cheatle’s refusal to answer many questions they had about the shooting, including how the gunman made it to the roof to shoot at the former President.

In a rare show of bipartisanship, James Comar, the Republican heading the committee on oversight and accountability, and Jamie Raskin, the Democratic ranking member, called for her ouster in a joint letter after the hearing.

“Today, you failed to provide answers to basic questions regarding that stunning operational failure and to reassure the American people that the Secret Service has learnt its lessons and begun to correct its systemic blunders and failures,” they wrote in the letter, adding, “We call on you to resign as Director as a first step to allowing new leadership to swiftly address this crisis and rebuild the trust of a truly concerned Congress and the American people.”

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Thanking Cheatle in a statement for her service, President Joe Biden said, “She has selflessly dedicated and risked her life to protect our nation throughout her career in the United States Secret Service. We especially thank her for answering the call to lead the Secret Service during our Administration and we are grateful for her service to our family.

“As a leader, it takes honour, courage, and incredible integrity to take full responsibility for an organisation tasked with one of the most challenging jobs in public service. The independent review to get to the bottom of what happened on July 13 continues, and I look forward to assessing its conclusions. We all know what happened that day can never happen again. As we move forward, I wish Kim all the best, and I will plan to appoint a new Director soon.”

A lone gunman shot at Trump during an election rally at Butler, Pennsylvania, on July 13, hitting his right ear. A Secret Service sniper shot the shooter with one shot.

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The Secret Service came under intense scrutiny after the shooting for the failure to prevent the shooter, especially after he was seen by many people at the rally. The police, who provided perimeter security, were told about him but he was not stopped.

The US Secret Service protects all past and present Presidents and their immediate families. The assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981 was the last time a US President was shot at. He survived.

Others before him, however, were not so fortunate — John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert F. Kennedy, who was killed while running for the White House, and Abraham Lincoln.

–IANS

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Two dead, over 12 injured in balcony collapse in Naples, Italy

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Two dead, over 12 injured in balcony collapse in Naples, Italy

Two dead, over 12 injured in balcony collapse in Naples, Italy

Rome, July 23 (IANS) Two people have been killed and at least 12 others injured, including two girls in danger, following the collapse of a balcony in southern Italy’s Naples, Italian news agency Ansa said on Tuesday.

The victims are a 29-year-old man, who died on impact, and a 35-year-old woman, who died on arrival at the hospital. According to Ansa, several of the injured are in critical condition, including at least seven children aged between 2 and 8, Xinhua news agency reported.

The accident occurred Monday evening, according to local news reports.

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Russia adds 15 British nationals to sanctions list

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Russia adds 15 British nationals to sanctions list

Russia adds 15 British nationals to sanctions list

Moscow, July 23 (IANS) Russia has widened its sanctions list and imposed restrictions on 15 more British citizens, the country’s foreign ministry said in a statement Tuesday.

A decision was made to expand Russia’s “stop list” in response to London’s aggressive actions, the ministry said. It includes representatives from British private security companies involved in training Ukrainian military personnel, managers of military-industrial complex enterprises that provide products and services to Kiev, as well as British experts and publicists with an anti-Russian position.

The foreign ministry called on London to assess the situation and change its approach to bilateral relations, Xinhua news agency reported.

Britain imposed sanctions on 11 Russian-linked oil tankers on July 18, which are reportedly involved in helping supply oil to third countries.

–IANS

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Kenya beefs up security at main airport ahead of protests

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Kenya beefs up security at main airport ahead of protests

Kenya beefs up security at main airport ahead of protests

Nairobi, July 23 (IANS) Kenyan authorities on Tuesday heightened security in and around the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in the capital of Nairobi, the country’s main airport, ahead of anti-government protests.

Young Kenyan protesters, or Gen-Z, have threatened to disrupt airport operations to protest President William Ruto’s decision to rehire six former Cabinet secretaries more than a week after their dismissal.

The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) and Kenya Airways (KQ) have advised passengers to arrive at the airport early due to heightened security checks and traffic disruptions on roads leading to the main airport, Xinhua news agency reported.

In separate statements issued Monday evening, the KAA told passengers to expect longer security protocols, while KQ, the national carrier, advised travelers to arrive four hours before the departure time.

“Due to heightened security checks and protocols at the JKIA, passengers are advised to arrive at the airport early to avoid any potential delays in catching their flights. Kindly contact your respective airline for the latest flight information,” the KAA said.

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Kenya Airways advised its customers traveling through the JKIA that traffic disruptions were anticipated on major roads leading to the airport Tuesday.

“Due to anticipated traffic disruptions on major roads leading to the JKIA on Tuesday, customers are advised to arrive at the airport at least four hours before their scheduled flight departure time,” the national carrier said in a statement.

“Customers are also encouraged to plan extra time to avoid potential delays en route to the airport,” it said, insisting that the safety and well-being of its crew and customers is their number one priority.

The airline said traveling customers can physically check in at the airport as early as four hours before flight departure, and they can also check online through its website or on their mobile devices via the KQ Mobile app from 30 hours to 90 minutes before flight departure.

Kenya Airways said it was doing everything possible to ensure its flights depart and arrive on schedule but advised customers to expect some delays in their departure and arrival times.

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The advisories came ahead of Tuesday’s planned anti-government demonstrations in the capital, in which young protesters have vowed to march to the heavily fortified facility.

Besides Kenya Airways, the JKIA, the busiest airport in East Africa, also serves other major airlines including Rwanda Air, Emirates, British Airways, Ethiopian Airports and Turkish Airways.

The police have, however, warned protesters to keep off the JKIA and other protected areas.

Acting Police Inspector General Douglas Kanja said protesters must take note of the legal boundaries that govern access to protected areas.

“We urge all individuals participating in demonstrations to respect these legal provisions and refrain from attempting to enter or interfere with protected areas. The National Police Service is resolute in its commitment to uphold and enforce these laws,” Kanja said in a statement.

Kanja said the Protected Areas Act (Cap 204) of the Laws of Kenya prevents the entry of unauthorized persons into areas declared to be protected areas. He added that the Kenya Civil Aviation Act stipulates that anyone who trespasses on any land forming part of a government aerodrome or an aerodrome commits an offense punishable by law.

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The president was forced to dissolve his Cabinet on July 11 after young protesters staged anti-government demonstrations across the country in June against a wide range of unpopular tax increases contained in the Finance Bill 2024 that has since been withdrawn.

The Finance Bill 2024, which sparked youth protests that led to its withdrawal from the National Assembly by Ruto, was seeking to raise an additional 346.7 billion Kenyan shillings (about 2.7 billion U.S. dollars) through new taxes.

The protesters had expressed outrage over provisions of the bill that would raise taxes on goods and services that many people depend on, such as bread, and mobile money transfers, to meet the government’s revenue targets.

The Gen-Z protesters had also been demanding accountability from the government, saying there is a lot of opulence and wastage in government spending.

–IANS

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Global tech outage continues disrupting US air travel for fourth consecutive day

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Global tech outage continues disrupting US air travel for fourth consecutive day

Global tech outage continues disrupting US air travel for fourth consecutive day

Los Angeles, July 23 (IANS) The global tech outage continued to wreak havoc on US air travel Monday with hundreds of flights cancelled and thousands of passengers stranded at airports across the nation, four days after the incident caused widespread flight cancellations and delays.

According to data from the flight tracking site FlightAware, 1,759 flights within, into or out of the United States were cancelled, and over 10,000 were delayed on Monday.

Delta Air Lines was particularly hard hit, with 1,152 flights canceled and 1,725 flights delayed on Monday. Delta has cancelled over 5,000 flights since the outage began in the early hours of Friday.

The airline’s CEO, Ed Bastian, has apologised for the disruptions and announced that Delta is offering reimbursements to affected customers, Xinhua news agency reported.

Bastian expected the flight disruptions to last for “another couple of days” as the airline is “working around the clock” to restore normal operations.

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Other major carriers, such as United Airlines, American Airlines, and Southwest Airlines, have gradually recovered from the initial shock on Monday.

Bastian said that the disproportionate impact on Delta is attributed to the outage affecting the airline’s ability to track its crews and process changes, leading to a cascading effect of cancellations and delays.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Delta’s primary hub, was the epicenter of the chaos, where thousands of passengers faced long lines and extended waits. The airport has seen over 500 flight cancellations and nearly 1,200 delays on Monday, according to FlightAware.

The impact of the outage was being felt across the country. At Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada, the situation is still challenging, while 53 flights were cancelled and 559 flights delayed Monday, according to FlightAware.

In Colorado, Denver International Airport saw nearly 600 flights delayed and 50 cancelled on Monday. The situation was further complicated by thunderstorms in the area, with arriving flights delayed by an average of 40 minutes.

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Other major airports across the country are experiencing varying degrees of disruption, with most facing minor delays.

Passengers were advised to check their flight status frequently and be prepared for potential changes to their travel plans.

This prolonged recovery period is causing frustration among travelers and raising questions about the resilience of airline IT systems.

Industry experts said that as airlines increasingly rely on sophisticated IT systems to operate, the potential for widespread disruption from a single point of failure became more pronounced, calling for improved resilience and backup systems to prevent similar large-scale disruptions in the future.

–IANS

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