Over 50 dead, dozens missing as severe floods strike Europe
More than 50 people have died and dozens were missing Thursday as heavy flooding in Germany and Belgium turned streams and streets into raging torrents that swept away cars and caused houses to collapse. Recent storms across parts of western Europe made rivers and reservoirs burst their banks, triggering flash floods overnight after the saturated soil couldn’t absorb any more water.
Authorities in North Rhine-Westphalia state said at least 30 people had died, while 19 deaths were reported in Rhineland-Palatinate state to the south. Belgian media reported eight deaths in that country.
Among the worst-hit German villages was Schuld, where several homes collapsed and dozens of people remained unaccounted for. Rescue operations were hampered by blocked roads and phone and internet outages across the Eifel, a volcanic region of rolling hills and small valleys.
Some villages were reduced to rubble as old brick and timber houses couldn’t withstand the sudden rush of water, often carrying trees and other debris as it gushed through narrow streets.
Dozens of people had to be rescued from the roofs of their houses with inflatable boats and helicopters. Hundreds of soldiers were deployed to assist in the rescue efforts.
The 52nd Civil Engineer squadron and several volunteers from the U.S. air base at Spangdahlem filled and distributed hundreds of sandbags to help protect homes and businesses in the area, the U.S. European Command said.
In Belgium, the Vesdre River spilled over its banks and sent water churning through the streets of Pepinster, near Liege, where a rescue operation by firefighters went wrong when a small boat capsized and three elderly people disappeared.
Major highways were inundated in southern and eastern parts of the country, and the railway said all trains were halted. In Liege, a city of 200,000, the Meuse River overflowed its banks Thursday and the mayor asked people living nearby to move to higher ground.
Liam Fox appointed as Chairman of Abraham Accords Group in the United Kingdom
The ambassadors of the Kingdom of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and the State of Israel to the United Kingdom, appointed Dr Liam Fox to lead a Group in the United Kingdom to promote Abraham Accords and support comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
The Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the United Kingdom, Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, expressed his happiness over the appointment of Dr. Liam Fox who played a key role in consolidating bridges of communication and cooperation between the signatory countries of the Abraham Accords.
He noted that the consensus of visions on the importance of cooperation and understanding as a strategic option to achieve the interests of the region remains an important factor for peace in the Middle East.
He said Dr. Liam Fox’s support of positive participation and dialogue in the region will have a tangible contribution to the development of relations between governments and peoples in the region.
For his part, Dr. Liam Fox expressed his thanks and appreciation to the ambassadors of the Kingdom of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and the State of Israel to the United Kingdom for playing this role and leading the group in support of the Abraham Accords and comprehensive peace throughout the Middle East.
Johnson & Johnson recalls sunscreens after carcinogen found in some sprays
Johnson & Johnson is voluntarily recalling five Neutrogena and Aveeno brand aerosol sunscreen products after detecting a cancer-causing chemical in some samples. The New Jersey-based company said on Wednesday that consumers should stop using the products and discard them, after internal testing identified low levels of benzene in some samples.
J&J is also notifying distributors and retailers to stop selling the products and arranging for their return “out of an abundance of caution”. Benzene is classified as a substance that could potentially cause cancer depending on the level and extent of exposure. J&J said benzene is not an ingredient in its sunscreen products and it is investigating the cause of the contamination.
The recalled aerosol sunscreens are Neutrogena Beach Defense, Neutrogena Cool Dry Sport, Neutrogena Invisible Daily defense, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer and Aveeno Protect + Refresh.
J&J is in contact with other regulatory agencies over the sunscreen recall, a company spokesperson said, adding that Wednesday’s announcement was specific to the voluntarily action taken in the United States. (Reuters)
Biden sees U.S. child tax credit as ‘giant step’ to counter poverty
Some 35 million American families have started receiving their first monthly payout from the U.S. government in an expanded income-support program that President Joe Biden said on Thursday could help end child poverty.
Under the Child Tax Credit program that was broadened under Biden’s COVID-19 stimulus, eligible families collect an initial monthly payment of up to $300 for each child under six years old and up to $250 for each older child. Payouts made to families, covering nearly 60 million eligible children, totaled about $15 billion for July. The payments are automatic for many U.S. taxpayers, while others need to sign up.
Biden wants to extend expanded, monthly benefits for years to come as part of a $3.5 trillion spending plan being considered by Senate Democrats, who expect strong Republican opposition to the full bill.
The Child Tax Credit is being likened to a universal basic income for children, although it has income limits. It is expected to help people meet monthly expenses from rent to food and daycare. The Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University estimates the expansion can reduce the U.S. child poverty rate by up to 45%.
Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro recovering but no forecast for leaving hospital
Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro’s health is “evolving in a satisfactory manner” but the right-wing leader, who was hospitalized this week after complications from a 2018 stabbing, does not have a timeline for leaving hospital, his doctors said on Thursday.
The president flew from the capital Brasilia to Sao Paulo on Wednesday to undergo tests, and possible emergency surgery, to unblock an obstructed intestine after days of hiccups.
Bolsonaro, a former army captain, has been hospitalized several times in the wake of the near-fatal campaign trail stabbing, which perforated his intestine. He also caught COVID-19 last year.
Local news outlet G1 reported Bolsonaro was scheduled to undergo further tests on Thursday. On Wednesday, the president’s office had said Bolsonaro, 66, could require emergency surgery after he was transferred from a hospital in Brasilia. But after he arrived in Sao Paulo on Wednesday night, doctors at the Vila Nova Star hospital said the president would initially remain “under conservative management.”
HH Shaikh Nasser sets new record in Spain
His Majesty the King’s Representative for Humanitarian Work and Youth Affairs, HH Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, yesterday made history in Spain by winning the 120km race of the Spain International Endurance Championship with a new time record as the Royal Endurance Team swept all the podium places.
The achievement adds to accomplishments by the Bahrainis who also won the 160km race. Othman Al Awadhi came second in the 120km race, while teammate Mohammed Abdulhameed Al Hashemi was third.
Shaikh Nasser set a new record after clocking six hours, 19 minutes and 35 seconds, one second ahead of Al Awadhi and two seconds ahead of Al Hashemi. Shaikh Nasser managed to fend off competitions from Spanish and Uruguayan jockeys en route to winning the event.
His Majesty sent a cable of congratulations to Shaikh Nasser, expressing pride in the landmark achievement. Speaking after the race, Shaikh Nasser hailed the support to sports by His Majesty as well as His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince Prime Minister, which has helped the Royal Endurance Team achieve top honours.
Shaikh Nasser also received a phone call from Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on the occasion. Shaikh Mohammed expressed his congratulations to Shaikh Nasser for the great achievement.
“We had a specific plan for this competition. It was well-studied and this has allowed the team to dominate the competitions. It was a bold plan,” Shaikh Nasser said. “We are very happy with this well-earned victory. The team is back to dominate European competitions, especially in Spain, where it always witnesses fierce competitions with the presence of world-class jockeys,” he added.
Shaikh Nasser applauded Al Awadhi and Al Hashemi for their performances and also praised Isa Al Sendi for winning the 100km race. Al Sendi completed the race in 5 hours, 9 minutes and 11 seconds.
Teenager to fly into space with Jeff Bezos
An 18-year-old is to become the youngest person to fly to space when he joins Jeff Bezos on the first human flight by his space company on 20 July. Oliver Daemen will fly in place of an anonymous $28m (£20m) winning bidder of a public auction.
The winner of the auction could not fly on the mission “due to scheduling conflicts”, Mr Bezos’ space venture Blue Origin said. The teenager is the son of Somerset Capital Partners CEO Joes Daemen.
Mr Daemen had secured a seat on the second flight but was moved up to the first when the winning bidder pulled out, Blue Origin said. He then chose to instead fly his son, who is a physics student.
He will join 82-year-old Wally Funk, who will become the oldest ever person in space. Mr Bezos and his brother Mark will make up the rest of the passengers on the New Shepard rocket.
The previous winner of the auction has remained anonymous, even as the launch edged closer, and the nature of the “conflicts” which led to their withdrawal have not been disclosed.
Blue Origin have not said how much Mr Daeman’s ticket cost. It said the flight will fulfil a lifelong dream for the teenager, “who has been fascinated by space, the Moon and rockets since he was four”.
The company plans to launch its passengers more than 100km (62 miles) above the Earth’s surface, allowing them to experience microgravity. The capsule will then return to Earth using parachutes on a trip expected to last about 10 minutes.
Jeff Bezos is one of the world’s richest people. He created Blue Origin in 2000 and announced last month that he and his brother would embark on the flight – describing it as something he had wanted to do “all my life”.
The flight comes after billionaire Sir Richard Branson successfully reached the edge of space on board his Virgin Galactic rocket plane last week.
Bahraini Ambassador Designate to Israel visits House of the Ten Commandments
Bahrain’s Ambassador-designate to the State of Israel, Khaled Yousef Al-Jalahma, today visited the House of the Ten Commandments Synagogue in Manama, in the presence of Ambassador Huda Ezra Nonoo, and President of the Board of Trustees of the Synagogue and the Jewish Community Ibrahim Daood Nonoo.
The ambassador expressed pride to have visited the Jewish Synagogue and stressed, adding that Bahrain has become an example in promoting the concept of a culture of peace, freedom of religions and beliefs and peaceful coexistence.
Such values, he said, characterize the authentic Bahraini approach led by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and made of the Kingdom an oasis of peace, security and harmony, praising the tangible role and contributions of the Jewish community to the comprehensive development process in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Oman suspends vaccination in government designated centres
Vaccination at Oman government designated centres will be suspended from July 16 until July 25, General Directorate of Health Services of the Governorate of Muscat has said.
The campaign has been in full swing in Oman, with the daily vaccinations reaching up to 40,000 people. While the shots given in government assigned centres which are free of cost are intended predominantly for Omani citizens, private clinics and hospitals spread across the country are engaged in adminstering the shots for expatriates at a cost. The vaccination facilities at government health centres are also used by expatriate healthcare workers and those who are scheduled for their second shots.
The Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre has been converted into a designated vaccination centre for the second phase of vaccination. The relentless service of many volunteers and members of healthcare service providers ensured a seamless vaccination process. A number of healthcare staff took to SM channels to express their happiness and said that the break is sure to recharge and refresh their spirits.
Self-registration is mandatory for vaccination which is available for users through the Ministry of Health’s Tarassud App. However, as the vaccination stands temporarily suspended, the self-registration link too will be activated on July 22 to book the slot through advance appointments.
After last-minute drama in June, Lucas Mineiro makes quick return at BRAVE CF 53 in Kazakhstan
The former BRAVE Combat Federation world champion Lucas “Mineiro” Martins had a real rollercoaster of emotions back in June, when he was scheduled to make his comeback fight after a two-year hiatus and saw the fight against Marcel Grabinski be cancelled literally minutes prior to the walkout.
On the occasion, Grabinski fell ill and was deemed unable to compete by the medical staff, having his participation in the main event of the evening for BRAVE CF 51: The Future Is Here, in Belarus vetoed.
But Mineiro will make a quick return, as BRAVE CF officials confirmed the former champion will be part of the upcoming BRAVE CF 53 fight card, scheduled for August 21st, in Almaty, Kazakhstan. It is yet to be confirmed the opponent of Martins in the upcoming Lightweight bout, if he’s gonna be rebooked against Grabinski or meet a new opponent.
The full fight information will be confirmed in the upcoming days. BRAVE CF 53 marks the second visit of the truly global MMA promotion to Kazakhstan and will be held in association with the local promoters of Octagon League.