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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Iranian Leader Denounces the Holocaust, Stirs Controversy

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been courting controversy at home and abroad with statements made during the current UN General Assembly in New York. During an interview with CNN, Rouhani was asked by reporter Christiane Amanpour if he agreed with his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that the Holocaust was a myth. The network’s translation of the president’s answer from Farsi has him saying that “if the Nazis, however criminal they were, we condemn them, whatever criminality they committed against the Jews, we condemn, because genocide, the taking of the human life, is condemnable and it makes no difference whether that life is a Jewish life, a Christian or a Muslim life”. Iran’s official FARS news agency later accused CNN of “fabricating” Rouhani’s remarks and of airing “inaccurate and untrustworthy, and in some parts contained sentences which were not at all uttered by the president”. Separately, Rouhani said in a speech as the current leader of the Non-Aligned Movement that Israel should declare its nuclear bombs and join the Non-Proliferation Treaty. In a remarkable overture to the Israeli government, the Iranian president used “Israel” and not “the Zionist regime”, a phrase commonly used by former president Ahmadinejad when referring to the country.

World Cup Construction in Qatar Will Kill 4,000 Workers

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has claimed that at least 4,000 migrant workers could die during the construction of the infrastructure required for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, including stadiums and hotels. The ITUC based its estimate on the current mortality figures for Indian and Nepalese workers, who are the majority of the country’s 1.2 million migrant workforce. ITUC researchers interviewed workers who described being forced to work in 50ºC heat, being denied free water and having documents and funds held from them, effectively denying them the chance to leave. The Indian ambassador to the country said that 82 Indian workers died in Qatar during the first half of this year and nearly 1,500 had complained to the embassy about working conditions in the emirate. “The evidence-based assessment of the mortality rate of migrant workers in Qatar shows that at least one worker on average per day is dying. In the absence of real measures to tackle that and an increase in 50% of the migrant workforce, there will be a concomitant increase in deaths”, said Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the ITUC. A spokesman for the 2022 World Cup organising committee countered that “the health, safety, wellbeing and dignity of every worker that contributes to staging the 2022 Fifa World Cup is of the utmost importance to our committee and we are committed to ensuring that the event serves as a catalyst toward creating sustainable improvements to the lives of all workers in Qatar”.

Number of UK Citizens Killed in Westgate Attack Could Rise

The number of UK citizens killed in the Westgate attack could potentially rise from the current five as investigators search the shopping complex for more bodies. “We cannot rule out the potential for further British casualties”, said a Foreign Office spokeswoman. “We have no information at this time that any further British nationals have been killed although we cannot rule out the potential for further British casualties and we continue to stay in close contact with the Kenyan authorities as their investigations continue”. The Kenyan Red Cross has said 61 people still remained unaccounted for. Meanwhile, a British woman is being sought by Interpol after being charged by Kenyan authorities of “being in possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit a felony”. Samantha Lewthwaite was married to one of the suicide bombers who attacked London in July 2005 and has been linked with the al-Shabaab.

A330 Pilots Fall Asleep, Leaving Plane on Autopilot

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has revealed that both pilots suffering from “severe fatigue” on an UK-operated passenger plane fell asleep while monitoring the plane’s autopilot system. They had agreed to alternate their sleeping periods during a long-haul flight, but one of them awoke to find both had been sleeping at the same time and was not aware of the length of time the aircraft carried on flying unsupervised. The Airbus 330 was flying at 35,000ft on August 13 when the incident happened, potentially placing hundreds of lives at risk. The pilots voluntarily contacted and reported the incident to the CAA. UK airliners currently operating this particular Airbus model are bmi, Monarch Airlines, Thomas Cook and Virgin Atlantic. “Perhaps the airline in question may look at their rota or shift system as a result”, said a CAA spokesperson.

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