Major fire ravages celebrated Glasgow School of Art for second time

Major fire ravages celebrated Glasgow School of Art for second time
Major fire ravages celebrated Glasgow School of Art for second time
Image Source

GLASGOW: A huge fire has gutted one of Scotland’s architectural gems, the Mackintosh building at the Glasgow School of Art, which was still being restored after a major blaze in 2014.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said after visiting the site on Saturday that the damage to the 1909 masterpiece by Scottish designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh was “much, much worse” than four years ago.

“It’s devastating,” she told reporters. “Looking at it, it’s a building that is just a shell.”

The fire broke out late on Friday night, when the city centre was full of people enjoying a night out. Among them were many School of Art students celebrating their graduation, which took place earlier.

By the time fire crews were called to the scene the blaze had spread to the whole building.

Huge flames engulfed the Mackintosh, known locally as the Mack, and spread to adjacent buildings including a night club and a theatre, creating an orange glow over the city skyline.

More than 120 firefighters fought the blaze all night. The area was swiftly evacuated and no casualties were reported.

The Mackintosh building had been due to re-open next year after millions of pounds in restoration works following a fire in May 2014.

Sturgeon said it was too early to determine the cause of the fire, or to know whether the building would remain standing.

“All of us hope the building can be saved but it’s too early to draw any conclusions,” she said.

“The Scottish government stands ready to do anything we reasonably can to help ensure that the building has a future. It’s too early to tell what that might entail, what it might look like.”

By lunchtime on Saturday the blaze was under control, but firefighters were still at work trying to extinguish pockets of fire inside the building.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh, one of Scotland’s most influential figures, inspired designers, architects and artists around Europe with his distinctive style.

The School of Art’s website says the building named after him on Glasgow’s Renfrew Street “heralded the birth of a new style in 20th century European architecture”.

The British government’s Scotland minister, David Mundell, said he was devastated by news of the fire.

“It is only a fortnight since I was there to see the progress on the restoration, and my heart goes out to all those who had worked so hard on that. The UK Government stands ready to help, financially or otherwise,” he said in a statement.

Hundreds of people in Scotland and beyond took to social media to express their shock at news footage of the burning building, which some said was as symbolic for Glaswegians as Big Ben was for Londoners.

“It hurts, it actually hurts to watch it burn,” wrote Scottish Twitter user Scott Galloway.

Many deplored what they called the cruel irony of the fire coming hours after a giant mural depicting Charles Rennie Mackintosh was unveiled elsewhere in Glasgow.

It features a portrait of Mackintosh looking through a stained-glass window featuring some of his designs.

News Source

Greece, Macedonia sign historic deal to end name row

Greece, Macedonia sign historic deal to end name row
Greece, Macedonia sign historic deal to end name row
Image Source

PSARADES, GREECE: Greece and Macedonia on Sunday signed a historic preliminary agreement to rename the country the Republic of North Macedonia, ending a row that has poisoned relations between the two neighbours since 1991.

“This is a brave, historic and necessary step for our peoples,” said Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

“We are here to heal the wounds of time, to open a path for peace, fraternisation and growth for our countries, the Balkans and Europe,” he said.

“Our two countries should step out of the past and look to the future,” said Macedonia Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.

“Our peoples want peace… we will be partners and allies,” he said.

The accord begins to unravel one of the world’s longest — and arguably most arcane — diplomatic disputes, which began 27 years ago with Macedonia’s declaration of independence but whose roots date back centuries.

“The time has come again to sing happy songs in the Balkans,” Tsipras said, moments before the document was signed by the two countries’ foreign ministers.

Zaev and several of his ministers arrived by speedboat at the picturesque fishing village of Psarades under a sunny sky, on the southern bank of Lake Prespa that is one of the natural boundaries between the two countries.

Tsipras and Zaev embraced on the village dock and entered the large tent where the deal was signed to a standing ovation from gathered dignitaries and officials.

Greece, Macedonia sign historic deal to end name row
Greece’s northern province of Macedonia was the cradle of Alexander the Great’s empire and is a source of intense pride for modern-day Greeks. Image Source

UN under-secretary-general for political affairs Rosemary DiCarlo, longterm UN negotiator Matthew Nimetz, EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini and EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn were at hand.

Nimetz, who turned 79 on Sunday and also signed Sunday’s agreement, had been trying to broker a solution since 1994, first as a US envoy and subsequently on behalf of the United Nations.

But it was the election of Zaev in 2017, replacing nationalist PM Nikola Gruevski, that proved crucial.

An economist and former mayor of Strumica, Zaev made rapprochement with Greece a priority to secure his country’s membership of the European Union and NATO, blocked by Athens for years.

After the signature, Tsipras will cross over to the Macedonian side of Lake Prespa for lunch, becoming the first Greek prime minister to visit the neighbouring state.

Since 1991, Athens has objected to its neighbour being called Macedonia because it has its own northern province of the same name, which in ancient times was the cradle of Alexander the Great’s empire — a source of intense pride for modern-day Greeks.

The two premiers, born just months apart in 1974, have bucked strong hostile reactions at home to push ahead with the agreement.

Greece, Macedonia sign historic deal to end name row
The Greek government under prime minister Alexis Tsipras defeated a vote of censure over the Macedonia issue on Saturday. Image Source

Accusations of treachery

Tsipras has been accused of treachery by Greek hardliners, and on Saturday defeated a vote of censure against his government amid protests and clashes with police outside parliament.

In Macedonia, President Gjorge Ivanov plans to exercise a one-time veto option to block the deal that the nationalist opposition has called a “capitulation”.

The Macedonian parliament is scheduled to start debating the agreement next week.

The accord still needs to be approved by Macedonia’s parliament and then pass a referendum.

Under the terms of the deal, the Macedonian constitution must also be revised by the end of the year, before Greece’s parliament is called to ratify it.

A deal that could backfire?

Tsipras’ domestic critics say he has bargained away Greece’s diplomatic advantages — the power of veto over EU and NATO accession — for a deal that could backfire.

Specifically, by officially recognising a Macedonian language and nationality, it is almost certain that the country will be called Macedonia by the broader world, instead of North Macedonia, opponents of the deal argue.

Officials in Athens insist that the deal will help stabilise the historically volatile Balkan region, permitting Greece to focus on other regional challenges, Turkey among them.

They also note that Greece had already been criticised by the International Court of Justice for blocking Macedonia’s membership of NATO.

In a 2011 ruling, the top UN court said Greece had “breached its obligation” under a provisional agreement reached in 1995 to end the dispute over the name of the former Yugoslav republic.

Macedonia was admitted to the United Nations in 1993 under the provisional name of the “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, but more than 120 countries including Russia and the United States have recognised the Balkan country under the name of “Republic of Macedonia”.

Skopje hopes to secure a date to begin European Union accession talks at an EU summit in late June and an invitation to join NATO in mid-July.

News Source

Cabbie drove 20 hours before ploughing into Moscow pavement

Cabbie drove 20 hours before ploughing into Moscow pavement
Cabbie drove 20 hours before ploughing into Moscow pavement
Image Source

MOSCOW: A taxi driver who ploughed into a Moscow pavement on the third day of the World Cup, injuring at least seven people, said in a video released by authorities Sunday he had been working for 20 hours solid before the incident.

The unnamed man said he had slept for only two or three hours before the shift and confused the brake and the accelerator, leading to an “unexpected” loss of control, according to the video on the website of the local interior ministry.

“I do not know how it happened,” he said, adding that he had not been drinking and was “very sorry”.

The man, who authorities earlier identified as a 28-year-old national of the central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan, said he ran from the scene fearing he would be killed there, before being taken into custody by police.

CCTV footage distributed on social media Saturday showed the yellow cab turning right as it tried to pass some standing traffic on a one-way street near Red Square.

It accelerated as it reached the crowded pavement and drove a few meters (yards) before hitting a traffic sign and coming to a sharp halt.

Two passersby immediately tried to confront the driver, trying to force open his door.

The driver eventually jumped out and began running away. The clip ended with the crowd chasing the man down a side street.

Cabbie drove 20 hours before ploughing into Moscow pavement
Image Source

An eyewitness account from the police station published on a Russian Telegram channel showed the driver sitting handcuffed on a bench and looking dazed.

The incident occurred about 200 metres (yards) from Red Square with Moscow packed with foreign football fans snapping pictures of the Kremlin.

Police said seven people had been injured but Russian news agencies quoted the city’s health department as saying eight people were hurt.

“Seven of them are in satisfactory condition and one woman is in moderate condition,” an unidentified Moscow health department official was quoted as saying.

The RIA Novosti news agency cited an unidentified source as saying that two Mexicans and two citizens of Azerbaijan were hurt.

Police closed the street for about an hour before reopening it to traffic. Security has been a top concern heading into the June 14 to July 15 tournament.

At least 600,000 foreign tourists are expected to visit Russia during the most watched event in the world.

News Source

Angelina Jolie visits Mosul, urges support for rebuilding

Angelina Jolie visits Mosul, urges support for rebuilding
Angelina Jolie visits Mosul, urges support for rebuilding
Image Source

MOSUL: U.N. refugee agency special envoy Angelina Jolie visited Mosul in northern Iraq on Saturday and urged the international community not to forget residents trying to rebuild their city.

Iraqi forces seized Mosul in July 2017 from Islamic State militants, who had occupied the city three years earlier and turned it into a stronghold of a “caliphate,” in a military campaign that saw 900,000 residents flee.

The Hollywood actress met families from western Mosul and walked through bombed out streets, according to video footage and photos provided by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Normality has returned to many parts of Mosul, with displaced residents leaving camps nearby and going back home.

Angelina Jolie visits Mosul, urges support for rebuilding
Image Source

But the old city in West Mosul was largely destroyed during a campaign by a 100,000-strong alliance of Iraqi government units, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shi’ite militias backed by air support from a U.S.-led coalition. Reconstruction has been slow.

“This is the worst devastation I have seen in all my years working with UNHCR. People here have lost everything,” Jolie said in a U.N. statement.

Angelina Jolie visits Mosul, urges support for rebuilding
Image Source

“They are destitute. They have no medicine for their children, and many have no running water or basic services,” she said. “I hope there will be a continued commitment to rebuilding and stabilizing the whole of the city. And I call on the international community not to forget Mosul.”

Jolie has worked for UNHCR since 2001, visiting uprooted civilians from Iraq to Cambodia and Kenya. It is her fifth visit to Iraq, UNHCR said.

Angelina Jolie visits Mosul, urges support for rebuilding
Image Source

News Source

Angelina Jolie meets Syrian refugees in northern Iraq

Angelina Jolie meets Syrian refugees in northern Iraq
Angelina Jolie meets Syrian refugees in northern Iraq
Image Source

DOMIZ CAMP, IRAQ: U.N. refugee agency special envoy Angelina Jolie on Sunday visited a camp for Syrian refugees in northern Iraq to drum up support for those displaced by years of civil war.

The Hollywood actress toured the Domiz camp, home to 33,000 refugees from Syria’s seven-year conflict.

Jolie arrived in the morning and met families in the camp, a United Nations official said.

A day earlier she visited Mosul, Iraq’s major northern city which Iraqi forces took back last year from Islamic State militants. The militants had occupied the city for three years and turned it into a stronghold of a “caliphate” in a military campaign that saw 900,000 residents flee.

Jolie met families from western Mosul and walked through bombed out streets, video footage and photos provided by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) showed.

Normality has returned to many parts of Mosul, with displaced residents leaving camps nearby to return home.

READ MORE: Angelina Jolie visits Mosul, urges support for rebuilding

But the Old City in West Mosul was largely destroyed during a campaign by a 100,000-strong alliance of Iraqi government units, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shi’ite militias backed by air support from a U.S.-led coalition.

Reconstruction has been slow. “This is the worst devastation I have seen in all my years working with UNHCR. People here have lost everything,” Jolie said in a U.N. statement.

“They are destitute. They have no medicine for their children, and many have no running water or basic services,” she said. “I hope there will be a continued commitment to rebuilding and stabilizing the whole of the city. And I call on the international community not to forget Mosul.”

Jolie has worked for UNHCR since 2001, visiting uprooted civilians from Iraq to Cambodia and Kenya. This is her fifth visit to Iraq, UNHCR said.

News Source

Migrant feud casts shadow as Macron and Merkel seek EU roadmap

Migrant feud casts shadow as Macron and Merkel seek EU roadmap
Migrant feud casts shadow as Macron and Merkel seek EU roadmap
Image Source

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron heads to Germany on Tuesday seeking progress with Chancellor Angela Merkel on elusive eurozone reforms, but the deepening EU rifts over migration threaten to dominate an already daunting agenda.

The Franco-German ministerial meeting, being held at the Meseberg castle north of Berlin, is seen as key for forging a consensus ahead of a crunch EU summit on June 28-29.

But Italy’s refusal last week to allow a ship carrying 630 rescued migrants to dock on its shores has shattered the bloc’s fragile status quo on dealing with the wave of people fleeing war and misery in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere since 2015.

Merkel herself is facing a showdown with her own hardline interior minister after his call for turning back undocumented migrants at German borders and speeding up ejections of rejected asylum seekers.

Most Germans support the moves according to opinion polls, while critics say Merkel’s liberal migrant policies have bolstered far-right and populist parties at home and abroad.

EU deals with Turkey and Italy have sharply reduced the number of new arrivals, yet hundreds of people still attempt to cross the Mediterranean from Libya each day.

Merkel and Macron both agree on the need for a Europe-wide response, and are hoping to hammer out a policy acceptable to all member states that would ease the burden on Italy, Greece and other main entry points.

Yet the tensions that flared across Europe last week after Italy’s move to block the Aquarius rescue ship have pushed any potential deal further from reach.

‘Maximum of agreements’

Paris no longer harbours any illusion of securing a revamp of the so-called Dublin rules before the end-of-June deadline set by EU leaders last December.

The rules require migrants to apply for asylum in the first country they enter — a policy France has used to defend its own efforts to keep people from trying to cross over from Italy.

But Paris is hoping to get Berlin’s agreement on increased funding for the EU’s Frontex border force, harmonised asylum rules and the creation of asylum processing centres in Africa.

“We’re hoping to obtain a maximum of agreements on Tuesday, and in late June,” a source in the French presidency told AFP.

That hope, however, is running up against an “axis of the willing” to combat immigration announced last week by Italy’s new far-right interior minister and his German and Austrian counterparts.

And countries such as Hungary and Poland have either refused outright or resisted taking in refugees under an EU quota system that has essentially floundered.

Common ground?

Despite the migrant policy headache, Macron and Merkel might find more common ground on deeper EU economic integration.

Macron, a centrist who swept to power last year, pledged to reconcile Europeans with the Union after years of austerity and growing disillusionment with the bloc’s institutions.

Merkel has cautiously come around in recent weeks, but she may not have much political room to manoeuvre further.

Rightwingers in her delicate governing coalition — as well as several northern European countries — remain hostile to France’s push for a common eurozone budget, fearing taxpayers could foot the bill for fiscal irresponsibility in southern EU states.

Merkel made some concessions earlier this month, agreeing to support Macron’s call for an investment fund to help poorer European countries catch up in the areas of science, technology and innovation.

The size of the fund remains unclear, however, with Germany resisting the hundreds of billions of euros sought by France.

Nonetheless, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, who will attend Tuesday’s meeting along with the two countries’ defence and foreign ministers, tweeted late Saturday that “an agreement is close at hand”.

France and Germany may also strike a deal aimed at harmonising corporate taxes across the bloc, to stop multinationals from taking advantage of low-tax regimes in countries like the Netherlands, Ireland or Luxembourg.

Merkel said the common tax system would also help both countries shore up their competitiveness in the face of a potential trade war unleashed by US President Donald Trump.

Trump’s threat to reduce US funding for NATO unless European members step up their contributions could also lead to new measures for strengthening EU defence cooperation.

Merkel has said she is “favourable” to a French call to create a European Intervention Initiative of forces which could be deployed rapidly to deal with crises outside the framework of NATO.

News Source

Nigeria suicide blasts kill at least 31

Nigeria suicide blasts kill at least 31
Nigeria suicide blasts kill at least 31
Image Source

ABUJA: Suspected Boko Haram militants killed at least 31 people in a twin suicide bomb attack on a town in northeast Nigeria, a local official and militia leader told AFP on Sunday.

Two blasts ripped through the town of Damboa in Borno state on Saturday evening targeting people returning from celebrating the Eidul Fitr holiday, in an attack bearing all the hallmarks of Boko Haram.

Following the suicide bombings, the militants fired rocket-propelled grenades into the crowds that had gathered at the scene of the attacks, driving the number of casualties higher.

“There were two suicide attacks and rocket-propelled grenade explosions in Damboa last night which killed 31 people and left several others injured,” said militia leader Babakura Kolo.

Two suicide bombers detonated their explosives in Shuwari and nearby Abachari neighbourhoods in the town around 10:45 pm (2145GMT), killing six residents, said Kolo, speaking from the state capital Maiduguri.

“No one needs to be told this is the work of Boko Haram,” Kolo said.

A local government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the death toll.

“The latest death toll is now 31 but it may increase because many among the injured may not survive,” said the official.

“Most of the casualties were from the rocket projectiles fired from outside the town minutes after two suicide bomber attacked,” he said.

The group has deployed suicide bombers, many of them young girls, in mosques, markets and camps housing people displaced by the nine-year insurgency which has devastated Nigeria’s northeast.

On May 1 at least 86 people were killed in twin suicide blasts targeting a mosque and a nearby market in the town of Mubi in neighbouring Adamawa state.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari came into power in 2015 vowing to stamp out Boko Haram but the militants continue to stage frequent attacks, targeting both civilians and security forces.

The militants stormed the Government Girls Technical College in Dapchi on February 19, seizing over 100 schoolgirls in a carbon copy of the abduction in Chibok in 2014 that caused global outrage.

News Source

Suspect dead, 20 hurt in shooting at US arts festival

https://arynews.tv/en/suspect-dead-20-hurt-in-shooting-at-us-arts-festival/

 

Suspect dead, 20 hurt in shooting at US arts festival
Image Source

NEW YORK: At least 20 people were hurt early Sunday in a shooting at an all-night arts festival in Trenton, the state capital of New Jersey, that also left one suspect dead, a local prosecutor said.

“Multiple individuals opened fire” inside the festival venue shortly before 3:00 am, Mercer County chief prosecutor Angelo Onofri told reporters.

A 33-year-old man, one of the suspects, was killed, and another was taken into custody, he said.

Among the injured at the Art All-Night Trenton event was a 13-year-old boy in critical condition.

Several weapons were recovered at the scene, Onofri said.

Read More: Parkland victim’s families angered over video game that lets players act out a school shooting

The local CBS affiliate said 22 people were wounded, and that four of them were in critical condition.

Officials offered no immediate theory as to what prompted the shooting spree, or how it unfolded.

Art All-Night Trenton is an annual event in the city, which is home to 85,000 people and is located about 65 miles (100 kilometers) south of New York. The event was meant to last 24 hours from 3:00 pm Saturday.

“It’s with great regret that we announce that the remainder of Art All Night has been cancelled due to a tragic incident that occurred overnight,” organizers said on the event’s Facebook page.

“We’re still processing much of this and we don’t have many answers at this time,” the statement said. “Our sincere, heartfelt sympathies are with those who were injured.”

News Source