ടെഹ്റാൻ: വടക്കൻ ഇറാക്കിലെ സെമ്നാനില് ട്രെയിനുകൾ കൂട്ടിയിടിച്ച് 43 പേര് മരിച്ചു.ട്രെയിനിന്റെ നാലു കോച്ചുകളാണ് അപകടത്തിൽ തകർന്നത്. കൂട്ടിയിടിയെത്തുടർന്നു കോച്ചുകൾ കത്തുന്നതിന്റെ ദൃശ്യങ്ങൾ ഇറാൻ സ്റ്റേറ്റ് ടെലിവിഷൻ പുറത്തുവിട്ടിരുന്നു.
ടെഹ്റാനിൽനിന്നും 400 കിലോമീറ്റർ അകലെ ഷാഹ്റൂദ് നഗരത്തിലെ കാഫ്ത് ഖാൻ സ്റ്റേഷനിലായിരുന്നു അപകടം. സ്റ്റേഷനിൽ നിർത്തിയിട്ടിരുന്ന ട്രെയിനിലേക്കു മറ്റൊരു ട്രെയിൻ ഇടിച്ചുകയറുകയായിരുന്നുവെന്ന് ദൃക്സാക്ഷികൾ പറഞ്ഞു. അപകടത്തെപ്പറ്റി സർക്കാർ അന്വേഷണം ആരംഭിച്ചിട്ടുണ്ട്.
President Barack Obama called again Saturday for Senate Republicans to consider his nominee for the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland.Republicans countered by warning Democrats not to \\\"seek to further divide our nation\\\" by using the Supreme Court fight \\\"to score cheap political points in an election year.\\\"In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama acknowledged that \\\"we\\\'re in the middle of an especially noisy and volatile political season.\\\"
However, the president argued: \\\"At a time when our politics are so polarized; when norms and customs of our political rhetoric seem to be corroding - this is precisely the time we should treat the appointment of a Supreme Court justice with the seriousness it deserves. Because our Supreme Court is supposed to be above politics, not an extension of politics. And it should stay that way.\\\"Obama urged Senate Republicans to \\\"give Judge Garland the respect he has earned. Give him a hearing. Give him an up-or-down vote. To deny it would be an abdication of the Senate\\\'s constitutional duty. It would indicate a process for nominating and confirming judges that is beyond repair.\\\"
In the GOP response, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., said the battle over the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia was unique because an Obama choice would push the court\\\'s 4-4 split in the liberal direction and because the vacancy occurred \\\"in the middle of an election year.\\\" Scalia died Feb. 13.Tillis repeated the GOP argument that they would give voters a chance to decide the next justice by postponing action until the president elected in November makes a choice. He never mentioned Garland, whom Obama nominated Wednesday.\\\"The president and Democratic leaders aren\\\'t exactly thrilled with giving the American people a voice,\\\" said Tillis, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Tillis said Republicans were already moving on to addressing drug addiction and the needs of the military and veterans and said the next move was up to Obama and congressional Democrats.\\\"Will they join us in doing our jobs on behalf of the American people?\\\" he said. \\\"Or will they instead seek to further divide our nation by turning the Supreme Court process into a blatantly partisan back and forth? Are they going to resort to blocking and sabotaging important legislation and good-faith efforts to help the American people, all in the name of seeking to score cheap political points in an election year?\\\"
Shortly after Scalia\\\'s death, Tillis cautioned Republicans against ruling out any Obama choice before he announced it, citing the unlikely scenario that the president would pick a candidate as conservative as Scalia. Tillis said a blanket refusal could seem \\\"obstructionist.\\\"On Friday, Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk became the first GOP senator to publicly abandon his party leaders\\\' insistence on blocking the process until a new president makes a nomination.
\\\"It\\\'s just man up and cast a vote,\\\" Kirk said on the \\\"\\\'Big\\\' John Howell\\\" show on Chicago radio station WLS. \\\"The tough thing about these senatorial jobs is you get yes or no votes. Your whole job is to either say yes or no and explain why.\\\"Kirk faces a tough re-election contest this fall and is considered one of the most endangered Senate GOP incumbents.
Amid fierce fighting after the Taliban captured the northern Afghan city of Kunduz last year, U.S. special forces advisers repeatedly asked their commanders how far they were allowed to go to help local troops retake the city.They got no answer, according to witnesses interviewed in a recently declassified, heavily redacted Pentagon report that lays bare the confusion over rules of engagement governing the mission in Afghanistan.As the Taliban insurgency gathers strength, avoiding enemy fire has become increasingly difficult for advisers, who have been acting as consultants rather than combatants since NATO forces formally ceased fighting at the end of 2014.
In the heat of the battle, lines can be blurred, and the problem is not exclusive to Afghanistan: questions have arisen over the role of U.S. troops in Iraq after a U.S. Navy SEAL was killed by Islamic State this month.“‘How far do you want to go?’ is not a proper response to ‘How far do you want us to go?\\\'” one special forces member told investigators in a report into the U.S. air strikes on a hospital in Kunduz that killed 42 medical staff, patients and caretakers.That incident was the biggest single tragedy of the brief capitulation of Kunduz to Taliban militants, and there is no suggestion that the mistake was the result of a lack of clarity over the rules of engagement.
But the 700-page report, much of it blacked out for security reasons, sheds light on how the rules are not fully understood, even by some troops on the ground, compromising the mission to stabilize the nation and defeat a worsening Islamist insurgency.The issues exposed in the report are likely to be considered by the new U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, as he prepares to makes recommendations in the coming weeks that may clarify or expand the level of combat support the U.S.-led training mission can provide.
“It’s not a strategy and, in fact, it’s a recipe for disaster in that kind of kinetic environment,” said the soldier, who, like others in the report, was not identified.He added that his unit, whose role was to advise and assist Afghan forces without engaging in combat, asked three times for commanders to clarify the rules governing their mission.“Sadly, the only sounds audible were the sounds of crickets … though those were hard to hear over the gunfire.”
While acknowledging a lingering “lack of understanding in the West” about the U.S. and NATO role in Afghanistan, U.S. military spokesman Brigadier General Charles Cleveland denied there was confusion among troops over the broader mission.More than 9,000 U.S. soldiers were “retrained” on the rules of engagement following missteps in Kunduz, in an effort to reduce future misunderstandings, he said.
Critics say the confusion comes from political expediency, because U.S. leaders are keen to portray the Afghan operation as designed mainly to help local forces fight for themselves.“The rules of engagement are trapped in the jaws of political confusion about the mission,” a senior Western official told Reuters.“Nobody in Western capitals seems willing to admit that Afghanistan is a worsening war zone and … that their troops are still battling out a combat mission on a daily basis,” added the official, who declined to be named.Until the end of 2014, when their combat role officially ended, NATO forces in Afghanistan peaked at more than 130,000 troops, most of them American. NATO’s presence today is a fraction of the size.
Around 10,000 U.S. troops are divided between the NATO train-and-assist mission called Resolute Support and a U.S.-only counter-terrorism operation against militant groups that include al Qaeda and Islamic State but not the Taliban.Under publicly declared rules of engagement, U.S. advisers in Resolute Support generally cannot attack Taliban targets except in self defense.As government forces have struggled, however, the definition of “self defense” has appeared less sharply defined, with some U.S. air strikes conducted to defend partnered Afghan units.
The Kunduz report indicates at least some U.S. troops have been sent into battle with questions unanswered.The Green Beret complained that failure to provide clear guidance represented “moral cowardice”, and that political leaders intentionally keep the mission vague.That allows them to “reap the rewards of success without facing the responsibility of failure,” he added.Soldiers pleaded for “clearer guidance” and more clarification of overly complicated rules, according to investigators.
The Pentagon has not fully publicized rules governing the use of force by U.S. troops, who may be called upon to act under either type of mission, sometimes in the same battle.In the four days leading up to the hospital attack, U.S. special forces called in nine close air support strikes under the authority of counter-terrorism, and 13 under Resolute Support, according to the report.As part of self-defense, coalition troops have “some latitude” in calling air strikes on militant targets that may not be directly attacking them, but could soon pose a threat, Cleveland said.
Last year the Pentagon announced that Afghan forces could be helped under extreme conditions.Additionally, under a “Person with Designated Special Status” classification, Afghan units operating closely with international advisers can be protected by air strikes as if they were coalition forces, according to Cleveland.
Further complicating matters are counter-terrorism rules that allow strikes against al Qaeda, as well as militants linked to Islamic State which did not exist when the U.S. military intervened in Afghanistan in 2001, but not the Taliban.In recent weeks U.S. commanders in Afghanistan have reported that al Qaeda and the Taliban are working more closely together, signaling that the dominant Taliban group could once again be attacked by more air strikes.
Calling the authorities in Afghanistan “exceptionally complex,” previous training had failed to prevent confusion, the Kunduz report found.Prior to deploying to Afghanistan, commanders made clear that “combat operations was mostly a thing of the past,” another special forces soldier said in the report.On the ground, however, things were more complicated.The second officer said he went into the Kunduz operation unsure of which authorities his unit would be operating under.The lack of explicit instructions led the officer to choose his “default” of Resolute Support authorities, which he described as “just the safe bet.”
The White House is using the Constitution as its playbook for getting Judge Merrick Garland confirmed for the Supreme Court, and there are \\\"more than a handful of Republican senators\\\" who have changed their positions on the matter after learning about the nominee\\\'s experience, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said Thursday.\\\"When there\\\'s a vacancy on the Supreme Court, the president has the responsibility to nominate someone to fill that vacancy and then the Senate has the responsibility to confirm that nominee,\\\" McDonough told MSNBC\\\'s \\\"Morning Joe\\\" program. \\\"The president has nominated someone with years of experience, somebody who lead the federal response to the terrorism in Oklahoma City, so we think that this is the right judge for that assignment.\\\"
McDonough said the White House has been speaking with senators since last month, when Justice Antonin Scalia died, and is now gratified to see some Republicans changing their minds on the issue. And while Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has ruled out a hearing on Garland\\\'s nomination, saying holding confirmation hearings during a presidential election year would be improper, McDonough said that every other committee chairman and the Senate in the last several decades has held hearings, and the White House believes that should happen this time too.
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\\\"It\\\'s able question of fairness on top of their Constitutional responsibility,\\\" he said. \\\"We think they should be fair, as the president said yesterday, and we think at the end of the day they will be.
An EgyptAir jet carrying 66 passengers and crew from Paris to Cairo disappeared from radar over the Mediterranean south of Greece on Thursday, with Athens saying the plane swerved in mid-air before plunging from cruising height and vanishing.Greek state television said aircraft debris had been found in the sea during a search for the missing Airbus A320. Earlier, Greek officials said pieces of plastic and two lifevests were found floating some 230 miles south of Crete.Officials were reluctant to speculate over the disappearance while the search was underway. Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said it was too early to rule out any explanation, including an attack like the one blamed for bringing down a Russian airliner over Egypt’s Sinai peninsula last year.
But despite the caution, the country’s aviation minister said a terrorist attack was more likely to have taken down the aircraft than a technical failure.In Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama received a briefing on the disappearance from his adviser for homeland security and counter-terrorism, the White House said.In Athens, Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos said the Airbus had first swerved 90 degrees to the left, then spun through 360 degrees to the right. After plunging from 37,000 feet to 15,000, it vanished from Greek radar screens.
Greece deployed aircraft and a frigate to the area to help with the search. Greek defense sources told Reuters earlier that two floating objects, colored white and red, had been spotted in a sea area 230 miles south of the island of Crete.According to Greece’s civil aviation chief, calls from Greek air traffic controllers to the jet went unanswered just before it left the country’s airspace, and it disappeared from radar screens soon afterwards.
There was no official suggestion of whether the disappearance was due to technical failure or any other reason such as sabotage by ultra-hardline Islamists, who have targeted airports, airliners and tourist sites in Europe, Egypt, Tunisia and other Middle Eastern countries over the past few years.The aircraft was carrying 56 passengers – with one child and two infants among them – and 10 crew, EgyptAir said. They included 30 Egyptian and 15 French nationals, along with citizens of 10 other countries.Asked if he could rule out that terrorists were behind the incident, Prime Minister Ismail told reporters: “We cannot exclude anything at this time or confirm anything. All the search operations must be concluded so we can know the cause.”
French President Francois Hollande also said the cause was unknown. “Unfortunately the information we have … confirms to us that the plane came down and is lost,” he said. “No hypothesis can be ruled out, nor can any be favored over another.”With its archeological sites and Red Sea resorts, Egypt is traditionally a popular destination for Western tourists. But the industry has been badly hit following the downing of the Russian Metrojet flight last October, killing all 224 people on board, as well as by an Islamist insurgency and a string of bomb attacks.
Follow the Reuters Live Coverage on EgyptAir jet: http://live.reuters.com/Event/World_NewsGreek air traffic controllers spoke to the pilot as the jet flew over the island of Kea, in what was thought to be the last broadcast from the aircraft, and no problems were reported.But just ahead of the handover to Cairo airspace, calls to the plane went unanswered, before it dropped off radars shortly after exiting Greek airspace, Kostas Litzerakis, the head of Greece’s civil aviation department, told Reuters.“During the transfer procedure to Cairo airspace, about seven miles before the aircraft entered the Cairo airspace, Greek controllers tried to contact the pilot but he was not responding,” he said.
Greek authorities are searching in the area south of the island of Karpathos, Defence Minister Kammenos told a news conference.“At 3.39am (0039 GMT) the course of the aircraft was south and south-east of Kassos and Karpathos (islands),” he said. “Immediately after, it entered Cairo FIR (flight information region) and made swerves and a descent I describe: 90 degrees left and then 360 degrees to the right.”The Airbus plunged from 37,000 feet (11,280 meters) to 15,000 feet before vanishing from radar, he added.Egyptian Civil Aviation minister Sherif Fathi said authorities had tried to resume contact but without success.
At Cairo airport, authorities ushered families of the passengers and crew into a closed-off waiting area.Two women and a man, who said they were related to a crew member, were seen leaving the VIP hall where families were being kept. Asked for details, the man said: “We don’t know anything, they don’t know anything. No one knows anything.”Ayman Nassar, from the family of one of the passengers, also walked out of the passenger hall with his daughter and wife in a distressed state. “They told us the plane had disappeared, and that they’re still searching for it and not to believe any rumors,” he said.
A mother of flight attendant rushed out of the hall in tears. She said the last time her daughter called her was Wednesday night. “They haven’t told us anything,” she said.EgyptAir said on its Twitter account that Flight MS804 had departed Paris at 23:09 (CEST). It disappeared at 02:30 a.m. at an altitude of 37,000 feet in Egyptian air space, about 280 km (165 miles) from the Egyptian coast before it was due to land at 03:15 a.m.In Paris, a police source said investigators were now interviewing officers who were on duty at Roissy airport on Wednesday evening to find out whether they heard or saw anything suspicious. “We are in the early stage here,” the source said.Airbus said the missing A320 was delivered to EgyptAir in November 2003 and had operated about 48,000 flight hours.The missing flight’s pilot had clocked up 6,275 hours of flying experience, including 2,101 hours on the A320, while the first officer had 2,766 hours, EgyptAir said.At one point EgyptAir said the plane had sent an emergency signal at 04:26 a.m., two hours after it disappeared from radar screens. However, Fathi said later that further checks found that no SOS was received.
The weather was clear at the time the plane disappeared, according to Eurocontrol, the European air traffic network.“Our daily weather assessment does not indicate any issues in that area at that time,” it said.Under U.N. aviation rules, if the aircraft is found to have crashed in international or Egyptian waters, Egypt will automatically lead an investigation into the accident assisted by countries including France, where the jet was assembled, and the United States, where engine maker Pratt & Whitney is based.
Russia and Western governments have said the Metrojet plane that crashed on Oct. 31 was probably brought down by a bomb, and the Islamic State militant group said it had smuggled an explosive device on board.That crash called into question Egypt’s campaign to eradicate Islamist violence. Militants have stepped up attacks on Egyptian soldiers and police since Sisi, then serving as army chief, toppled elected President Mohamed Mursi, an Islamist, in 2013 after mass protests against his rule.In March, an EgyptAir plane flying from Alexandria to Cairo was hijacked and forced to land in Cyprus by a man with what authorities said was a fake suicide belt. He was arrested after giving himself up.EgyptAir has a fleet of 57 Airbus and Boeing jets, including 15 of the Airbus A320 family of aircraft, according to airfleets.com.
Oklahoma’s Republican-dominated legislature has filed a measure calling for President Barack Obama’s impeachment over his administration’s recommendations on accommodating transgender students, saying he overstepped his constitutional authority.Lawmakers in the socially conservative state are also expected to take up a measure as early as Friday that would allow students to claim a religious right to have separate but equal bathrooms and changing facilities to segregate them from transgender students.
The bill introduced on Thursday night could force schools into costly construction, which would be difficult for them to complete after lawmakers significantly cut education funding to plug a $1.3 billion state budget shortfall.The impeachment resolution also introduced on Thursday night calls on the Oklahoma members of the U.S. House of Representatives to file articles of impeachment against Obama, the U.S. attorney general, the U.S. secretary of education and others over the letter.
The Obama administration told U.S. public schools last week that transgender students must be allowed to use the bathroom of their choice, upsetting Republicans and raising the likelihood of fights over federal funding and legal authority.The impeachment call seems to be on shaky ground since the letter offered non-binding guidance and did not have the force of law, legal experts told local media.State Representative John Bennett, a Republican, said in a statement the White House directive was “biblically wrong,” and a violation of state sovereignty.The Oklahoma bill would allow for segregation at school restrooms, athletic changing facilities and showers if a request is made to accommodate religious beliefs.It also allows the attorney general to file lawsuits to implement the changes.Troy Stevenson, executive director of Freedom Oklahoma, an LGBT advocacy group said the measure promoted fear-mongering and was out of place“In a time when our state is facing an unprecedented economic crisis, our lawmakers should be focused on righting the ship rather than stigmatizing transgender youth,” he said in a statement. The measure was introduced just hours after lawmakers in the budget-challenged state set itself up for a bruising legal fight after approving a bill that would make abortions a felony punishable by up to three years in prison for doctors who perform them.