Strong tremors felt in India and Pakistan after 6.6 magnitude earthquake in Afghanistan

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Strong earthquake tremors, lasting for several seconds, were felt in Delhi and neighbouring cities late on Tuesday evening. According to reports, the earthquake shocks, measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale, were felt in Turkmenistan, India, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, China, Afghanistan, and Kyrgyzstan. The epicentre of the earthquake is believed to be 90 km from Kalafgan in Afghanistan.

Earthquake tremors were felt in Islamabad, Lahore, and Peshawar, Pakistan’s ARY News report said.

In India, besides Delhi, heavy tremors were also felt in Jammu and Kashmir, western Uttar Pradesh.

“An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.6 on the Richter Scale hit 133km SSE of Fayzabad, Afghanistan today at 10:17 pm IST,” said National Centre for Seismology. The US Geological Survey said the earthquake rocked Afghanistan its epicentre was 40 kilometres south-southeast of the Afghan town of Jurm.

The Delhi Fire Services said that they have received a call about the tilting of a building in the Shakarpur area in East Delhi. However, Fire Director Atul Garg said no building was found tilted. “An initial call was given by some of the neighbours. The occupants of the building were not aware of the call,” he said. 

Delhi has witnessed quake jolts in the past few months but this was the strongest in the recent past. Speaking to India Today, some residents in Nodia said they felt the tremors which they said lasted about 2-3 minutes. Videos have been pouring in of people in panic as the tremors, which lasted for over 30 seconds, struck.

In Jammu and Kashmir, devotees rushed out of guest houses in Katra. Shubham, a guest house owner, said very strong tremors were felt and all the devotees rushed out of the guest house. “With Maa Vaishno Devi’s blessings, there was no loss of lives and they are returning to their hotels.”

In Punjab, people gathered in open spaces in Ludhiana, Bathinda and other cities. “I was sitting on the sofa and talking to my son when it started shaking. I raised an alarm. Everyone rushed out, very strong tremors were felt,” a woman said. Another woman said she was setting her bed when her husband raised an alarm and told her to rush out. 

Pakistan’s Dawn News reported that so far there was no news of any damage or loss of lives. The country’s rescue department had received a phone call each from Swabi and Lower Dir on which rescue teams were despatched. “No confirmed reports of any loss of life or property have been received yet. Rescue 1122 is on high alert and ready to provide services during any emergency,” rescue department chief general Dr Khateer Ahmad told Dawn. 

(With inputs from agencies)

South African Trade Unionists Demand Freedom for U.S. Political Prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal

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On March 10, members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party (SRWP) marched to the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria to demand freedom for journalist and political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, who has been incarcerated for more than 40 years in the United States.

This march to demand his release was organized as part of an ongoing month-long global solidarity campaign that was launched on February 16 and involved a host of organizations, including the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10 in the U.S. The campaign comes at a time when a judgment based on an appeal, which “would allow for a retrial” in the matter, is expected soon due to the discovery of previously unseen exculpatory evidence.

A former member of the Black Panther Party, 68-year-old Abu-Jamal has been convicted for the killing of a police officer, Daniel Faulkner, in Philadelphia in 1981.

Abu-Jamal had been targeted and surveilled by state forces since he was a young teenager. His trial and subsequent sentencing in 1982 were marked by official misconduct, corruption, and blatant racism, with the original presiding trial Judge Albert Sabo declaring that he was going to “help them fry the [racist slur].”

Abu-Jamal has been incarcerated under inhumane conditions, including severe medical neglect.

“The struggle for the civil rights movement in the 1960s captured the imagination of the world. Figures like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Junior, and Malcolm X became global icons—they fought and died for human justice,” NUMSA national spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said in a speech outside the U.S. Embassy on March 10. “To our disappointment as peace loving South Africans, a Black man in America is always guilty in the eyes of the police.”

Credit Line: from the Peoples Dispatch / Globetrotter News Service

Questions Grow About Tunisian Government Response to Yet Another Migrant Boat Tragedy

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The latest migrant tragedy off the Tunisian coast, in which at least 14 people were killed during the first week of March, has led to further scrutiny of the country’s treatment of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa.

Most of the people who drowned on the nights of March 7 and 8 were from sub-Saharan African countries and were trying to get to Italy. Tunisian officials claimed they were able to rescue 54 people.

The situation of migrants from the sub-Saharan region has worsened after Tunisian President Kais Saied on February 21 “denounced” the influx of undocumented immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa adding that this move was aimed at changing Tunisia’s demography. “The undeclared goal of the successive waves of illegal immigration is to consider Tunisia a purely African country that has no affiliation to the Arab and Islamic nations,” he said.

Workers’ Party of Tunisia and the African Union have criticized Saied’s remarks as being racist, with the party demanding an apology from the president. While Saied is now claiming that Tunisia “was proud to be an African country,” the woes of migrants continue.

Migrants living in Tunisia have been heavily targeted by authorities. Many have also lost their jobs and were forced to return to their homelands. However, a section of them, in a bid to escape their dire economic and political conditions, have tried to migrate to Europe.

Credit Line: from the Peoples Dispatch / Globetrotter News Service

About 700,000 Afghans Have Lost Their Jobs Since Taliban Takeover, Says UN Report

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An estimated 700,000 people have lost their jobs in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover in August 2021, “with the agriculture, civil service, and construction sectors the most severely affected,” according to the latest report by the UN special rapporteur to Afghanistan.

The report, which covers developments in the country between July and December 2022, stated that around two-thirds of households in Afghanistan have acknowledged “difficulties in meeting basic food and non-food needs.”

“[M]assive job losses, business closures, and the reluctance of foreign investors to engage in the [country’s] economy” have had catastrophic impacts on the lives of millions of Afghans, the report said.

Afghanistan’s worsening economic decline—which stood at around 30 to 35 percent in 2021-2022—has further worsened the humanitarian crisis. “This crisis has been exacerbated by the unintended consequences of political cautiousness and overcompliance with [U.S.-imposed] sanctions, despite the humanitarian exemptions afforded by the Security Council,” the 19-page report that was submitted to the UN said.

The report further stated that an “estimated 18.9 million people are experiencing acute food insecurity, a number which is expected to rise to 20 million, and over 90 percent of Afghans are suffering from some form of food insecurity, with single-parent female-headed households and children being disproportionately affected.”

The report also raised concerns about targeted killings of members of the former Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, allegedly by the Taliban. Similar apprehensions have been raised in another report that claims that the Taliban has gained access to biometric data, which they are utilizing in tracking down Afghans who formerly worked with the U.S. government.

Credit Line: from the Peoples Dispatch / Globetrotter News Service

West Africa Peoples Organization Calls for Greater Unity as France Announces Military Reorganization

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The West Africa Peoples Organization (WAPO), an “anti-imperialist network that promotes regional unity across West Africa,” has welcomed a proposal for greater collaboration between Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea, and has called for coordination and planning of production, trade, infrastructure, economic development, and defense among these countries after the withdrawal of French military forces from the Sahel region.

This collaboration between these countries was prompted after the prime minister of Mali’s transitional government, Choguel Kokalla Maïga, concluded a visit to neighboring Burkina Faso on February 26, and foreign ministers of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea proposed a “Bamako-Conakry-Ouagadougou” strategic axis for enhanced cooperation a few weeks before the visit.

Welcoming this visit, WAPO said in a statement, “We recognize in it [the initiative] the undying spirit of Pan-Africanism that moved the founders of modern Africa even after three generations of neo-colonial repression.” WAPO also said that there was a need to unite “to create the capacity to defend our territories and interests.”

On February 18, Burkina Faso officially marked an end to France’s military presence on its territory while in 2022, French troops withdrew from Mali after a nearly decade-long deployment in the country.

France’s withdrawal from Mali and Burkina Faso took place in the aftermath of successive military coups since 2020, amid rising public unrest against France’s military presence even as armed conflict has expanded in the region.

“The anger in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea is [also] a result of France establishing their regional economic policy. The reserves of the three countries [as well as many other Francophone countries] are kept in France. France also retains the right to confiscate their national financial reserves,” Kafui Kan-Senaya, the secretary-general of WAPO and the research secretary of the Socialist Movement of Ghana, told Peoples Dispatch.

from the Peoples Dispatch / Globetrotter News Service

Xi Jinping unanimously elected Chinese president, PRC CMC chairman

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Xi Jinping, newly elected president of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and chairman of the Central Military Commission of the PRC, made a public pledge of allegiance to the Constitution at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Friday.

Moscow opens world’s longest subway line

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Moscow on Wednesday opened the 70-km Big Circle Line (BCL), the longest subway line in the world.

The metro line was constructed from 2011 to 2022. The first section of the BCL opened in 2018, and another 20-km section, which is the longest in the history of the capital’s metro, was launched in December 2021.

The BCL has 31 stations, with 24 of those providing 47 interchanges to existing and future stations of the capital’s metro.

Maksim Liksutov, deputy mayor of Moscow for transport, said that the BCL will serve as an impetus to the capital’s development for decades to come, adding that it would help decrease the traffic flow on the city’s highways by up to 15 percent, and would decongest metro lines by up to 25 percent.

EU starts purchasing made-in-China metro trains

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First of the 18-set metro trains made by Chinese company was delivered to the Porto Metro company of Portugal on Saturday.

The 4-car train is on display in the Trindade Metro Station at the center of Porto from Saturday till next Tuesday.

The train assessed meets expectations of the public passengers of top quality, more security to advance more people to use the public transports, Portuguese Minister of Environment and Climate Action Duarte Cordeiro told Xinhua.

The train was made by CRRC Tangshan, one of China’s largest makers of trains, high-speed trains and metro vehicles.

“It is an example of a train that is adapted to Porto Metro’s assessments among passengers and workers,” said Cordeiro, sitting down on the carriage’s seats after visiting the train cab and trying the driver’s seat.

“This vehicle is the prototype and serves as a reference,” said Tiago Braga, president of the Porto Metro company.

The first train will start its service in May, after several trials and tests, and all the trains will be delivered by the end of September.

Chinese Ambassador to Portugal Zhao Bentang told Xinhua that the delivery of the metro trains made by CRRC Tangshan is an example that shows the strategic partnership between China and Portugal and the potential of the higher-level cooperation between the two countries.

Portugal is the first European Union country to purchase made-in-China metro trains.

Tan Mu, general manager of CRRC Tangshan, said that the new-generation metro train, jointly designed by CRRC Tangshan and Porto Metro company, adopts digital technology and has the characteristics of light weight, low energy consumption and more digital intelligent, in accordance with the European standards.

The new metro trains have a maximum circulation speed of 80 km/h and capacity for 244 passengers, of which 64 are seated.

With these new carriages, the Porto metro network will have 120 vehicles. 

Major earthquakes kill over a thousand across Türkiye, Syria

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A major earthquake of magnitude 7.7 struck southern Türkiye and northwestern Syria, killing more than a thousand people as buildings collapsed and triggering a search for survivors trapped in the rubble.

Türkiye’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) said that the 7.7 magnitude quake struck at 4:17 am (0117 GMT) and was centred in Pazarcik district of Kahramanmaras province on Monday.

AFAD updated the intensity of the quake from 7.4 to 7.7 magnitude at 0955 GMT. 

At least 912 people have died in Türkiye and 5,383 others injured, according to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

At least 326 deaths were also reported in Syria, according to regime’s media citing the health ministry. Meanwhile, 147 people were reported killed in rebel-held areas. More than 600 people were also reported injured. 

The quake in Türkiye occurred at a depth of 7 kilometres (4.3 miles) and was followed by 78 aftershocks, according to Oktay, including two of magnitude 6.6 and 6.5 that struck southeastern Gaziantep province.

Click here to read the latest developments

Vatican urges to have Separate Cardinal for North-East of Sri Lanka

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The bishops of the North and East provinces have requested the Vatican to appoint a separate Cardinal for the two provinces of Sri Lanka. Father Joseph Pathinathar Jebaratnam, who spoke in Jaffna, said that he made this request because he felt that the minority Tamil Catholics of Sri Lanka were being betrayed by the Catholic Church of Sri Lanka.

Father Jebaratnam also stated that it is not wrong for the Archbishop of Colombo to request justice for the people who died in the Easter Sunday attack, but because no one appears to do justice to the people who died in the North East war, he had to make such a request.

“In 1995, 147 people were killed and 200 injured in the bomb attack on Navali St. Peter’s church in Jaffna.

“At that time, the attention of the bishops of the north and east was drawn to this matter, but there was no response from the south.”

“Seven priests and several nuns died in the war.”

“In 1995, Reverend Mary Bastian was shot dead in her home. Then Colombo media reported that she was publicly killed before going to India. “

“With the intervention of the Jaffna nun, a Colombo nun organized a memorial ceremony for Hon. Mary Bastian. The Bishops of the South had said that they did not want to participate in this event.

“We are not opposed to the Archbishop of Colombo asking for justice for those who died in the Easter Sunday attack. In the same way, when the Tamil people were killed, why did they not demand justice for the Tamil people?” he asks.

The Bishops of the North and the East are calling for international intervention regarding the Tamil people who were killed in the North East, while the Bishops of the South said that it was unnecessary.

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