News Flash – 4 May 2017

National News



Fire at CP’s revolving restaurant, no one hurt

Officials said the fire broke out in the kitchen


NEW DELHI: A fire broke out at a restaurant on the top floor of Antriksh Bhawan on Kasturba Gandhi Marg on Wednesday evening. Nine fire tenders were sent to douse the fire that was initially brought under control by the employees of the Parikrama restaurant. Fire officials said the fire broke out at the kitchen of the revolving restaurant adjacent to CP around 6pm and flames could be seen emanating from its vent. This triggered the fire alarm in the building, leading to evacuation of all offices. Several people noticed the flame and informed the fire brigade.

Rajnish Khanna, general manager of the restaurant, said that immediately after the flames were reported, the employees trained to handle emergency situations doused the flames. “Within a few hours, we were back to normal. We have initiated a probe,” said Khanna. Fire brigade officials said malfunctioning electrical equipment might have caused the fire. They have requested the building authorities to ensure that the terrace and the open space exposed to the heat is kept empty. Fire exits are often blocked by temporary structures, leading to big mishaps, said an official. Open space essential for assembling staff during emergencies are also frequently used for parking cars. “In this case, however, both were left empty,” he added.



Clinic charging Re 1 per patient to come up at 5 Mumbai stations



MUMBAI: Medical facilities that will charge patients Re 1 will come up at five Central Railway (CR) stations in about two months. The railways will provide space free of cost and a clinic has agreed to extend medical services at one rupee. Apart from providing emergency help to railway accident victims in the golden hour, the clinic will have MBBS doctors 24×7 for patients with routine illness. There will also be visiting doctors like specialists in skin disease, diabetes and gynecology. A pathology lab will be set up offering tests at a discount and pharmacists will sell medicines at discounted rates. A senior CR official said, “Emergency Medical Rooms (EMRs) with one-rupee clinic will come up at Kurla, Ghatkopar, Mulund, Wadala and Dadar. They will be established at 15 more stations depending on when the first set is ready, expectedly in a couple of months.” EMRs are being set up at various stations of CR and Western Railway on the direction of the high court. CR has adopted a public-private partnership (PPP) model to do this.


Thus, CR will not pay anything, and will only provide water, electricity and space. The other expenses, primarily on manpower and equipment, have to be borne by the agency setting up the facility. Nevertheless, the agency is being allowed to carry out private practice or even set up pharmacies to recover costs in exchange of offering free golden hour treatment to accident victims. There will also be a pathological lab offering tests at discounted rates. Dr. Rahul Ghule of Magidil, which is setting up the facilities said, “There will be MBBS doctors present in these clinics round the-clock”. Divisional Railway User’s Consultative Committee (DRUCC) member Jitesh Matalia said, “It is a noble concept that will help save accident victims, and also help Mumbaikars who have tight schedules”.



Midair alarm as Kolkata-Hyderabad co-pilot faints



NEW DELHI: The co-pilot of an IndiGo Airlines Kolkata-Hyderabad flight fainted in the cockpit last Thursday, forcing the aircraft commander to make an emergency landing in Bhubaneswar. The aircraft, with nearly 150 passengers on board, later departed for Hyderabad after requisitioning a fresh co-pilot. Aircraft Accident Investigation Board is probing the case. According to sources, the first officer or co-pilot took ill when the aircraft took off from Kolkata and levelled off at its assigned cruising altitude. While drinking water, he began to choke and fell unconscious. Cabin crew members tried to revive him and administered oxygen, using a quick-don mask. They even made an announcement for a doctor but there was none among passengers. Faced with an incapacitated crew member, the pilot declared May Day and landed in Bhubaneswar, the nearest airport. Though the co-pilot regained consciousness before the flight reached Bhubaneswar, he was still feeling unwell. “The co-pilot felt unwell. In view of safety of passengers and crew, the captain diverted to Bhubaneswar. The matter was reported to the regulator as per norms,” an IndiGo spokesman said.



Boiling milk for 5 minutes extra can make it safer



HYDERABAD: Fighting harmful chemicals in milk is now just an extended boil away. With most of the milk supplied in Hyderabad laced with harmful veterinary drugs and pesticides, researchers from the city-based Telangana Veterinary University have suggested that milk be boiled for a few more minutes. They found that boiling milk for five minutes more leads to breakdown of harmful chemicals, making it relatively safer. The team comprising Sujatha Singh and Krishnaiah Nelapati from the Department of Veterinary Public Health and Epidemiology , College of Veterinary Science and PV Narsimha Rao of Telangana Veterinary University noticed that boiling milk for longer leads to degradation of harmful chemicals such as hexachloro cyclohexane (HCH) and its constituents. The finding was published in the recent issue of the scientific journal `Veterinary World’. HCH (lindane) is used in agriculture and makes its way into milk through the food chain. Pesticide content up to 4mg per litre has been found in milk and milk products. Besides HCH isomers, even DDT residues have been found in milk. The researchers warned that these chemicals continue to build up in human bodies and at a certain stage can cause severe health complications. And the best way to remove these harmful chemicals in milk is to boil it for a few minutes more.

Pasteurization removes harmful bacteria while boiling at home removes pesticide content. The team found that natural raw milk, which contained 0.0460 parts per million (ppm) of alpha-HCH, became relatively safer after boiling as the chemical content came down to 0.0150 ppm. This, in other words, means a reduction in chemical by 45.65%. As far as removal of chemical compounds is concerned, boiling worked better than pasteurization and sterilization. In case of beta-HCH, raw milk contained 0.0634 ppm. This chemical degraded after boiling to 0.0398 ppm (reduction by 37.22%). The content of gamma-HCH came down after boiling from 0.0158 ppm in raw milk to 0.0115 ppm (reduction of 27.21%). The delta-HCH content in raw milk was 0.4732 ppm, which came down by 34.06% to 0.312 ppm. All the HCH isomers put together, the contamination in raw milk was 0.5984 ppm and it came down by 37.55% to 0.3737 ppm after extra boiling. The researchers said that the HCH residues detected in milk samples in Hyderabad exceeded the maximum residue level limit of 0.001 ppm as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). As prolonged consumption of contaminated milk could lead to cancers and other diseases, boiling for a few extra minutes could provide a shield from chemical residues, the researchers said.



Fire officer’s Paldi residence burgled



AHMEDABAD: A group of thieves struck at the residence of Rajesh Bhatt, additional chief fire officer of Ahmedabad Fire and Emergency Services (AFES), at Pankaj Society near Bhattha, Paldi, on Tuesday and made off with valuables worth Rs 1.5 lakh. Paldi police have started investigations on the basis of fingerprints and other evidence found at the spot. Paldi police said Bhatt lives with his family at Navrangpura fire station near Vijay Crossroads. His brother-in-law and his wife look after the Pankaj Society residence. “At 4.30pm on Tuesday, Bhatt’s brother-in-law had gone to the residence to get some documents. He noticed that the lock on the back door was broken and belongings had been rummaged through. He informed Bhatt and police and took stock of valuables.


The thieves stole utensils, silver gift articles and bathroom fittings,” said a Paldi police official. Investigators said that the door, windows and interiors have been damaged as the thieves looked for valuables. “On the basis of the modus operandi, it is suspected that the thieves may be drug addicts who wanted something they could sell. They did not even spare the bathroom fittings and taps, something other thieves would not even look at,” said a police official. Police officials also added that from the way the house was ransacked, it is possible that more than one person carried out the theft. They may have entered from the back of the house, which is adjacent to an unoccupied house. Thus, they could have worked for hours together without being noticed.



International News



Two dead in shooting at Texas College

Students and faculty exit the college premises


AUSTIN: A gunman who opened fire on Wednesday on a college campus in the Dallas suburb of Irving, Texas, apparently killed one victim and committed suicide, police said, two days after a deadly stabbing occurred at another college in the state. A man who witnesses said was armed with a handgun was reported to have opened fire at North Lake College, prompting authorities to swarm the campus in search of the suspect and victims as school officials imposed a security lockdown. A short time later, Irving police reported on Twitter that there appeared “to be no continuing threat,” adding that law enforcement officers were still searching the campus to ensure all was safe. A separate Twitter post added: “We have what appears to be one victim deceased (and) the shooter has committed suicide”. The identities of the shooter and the victim were not immediately released, and police spokesman James McLellan said it was too early to tell whether the two people knew each other.

No one else was wounded in the shooting, which occurred at one of the main buildings on campus, McLellan said. After police said the shooter was dead, college officials announced the school would be closed for the rest of the day. Overhead video footage of the scene broadcast by local news media showed students filing out of school buildings as police evacuated the campus. Earlier video clips showed students in groups running for safety and numerous police vehicles on campus. On Monday, a man enrolled at the University of Texas went on a stabbing spree with a large hunting knife at the school’s Austin campus about 200 miles (320 km) south of Irving, killing one student and wounding three others, police said.



Suicide attack on NATO convoy in Kabul kills 8 civilians

A powerful blast targeting a foreign forces convoy near the US embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul killed at least eight people and wounded 25 on May 3 in the Afghan capital.


KABUL: A suicide bombing in the Afghan capital Kabul on Wednesday killed 8 people and wounded at least 28, officials said, in an attack on a convoy of armoured personnel carriers used by the Nato-led Resolute Support mission. The blast hit the NATO coalition convoy during the morning rush hour in one of the busiest areas of Kabul. Public health officials in the capital said eight civilians were killed and at least 25 wounded, with a number of civilian vehicles that were near the convoy destroyed or badly damaged. A Resolute Support Spokesman, US Navy Captain Bill Salvin, said three US service members were wounded in the attack. The armoured personnel carriers, which are designed to withstand large blasts, were able to return to a coalition base under their own power, he said. The attack follows a threat by the Taliban to target foreign forces in the spring offensive that it launched last week. Witnesses said traces of blood and clothing could be seen on the ground at the blast site. Kabul television stations earlier reported that at least three people had been killed. The heavily armoured MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles that coalition forces use to travel in Kabul appeared to have suffered only relatively minor external damage, witnesses said.



US firm in Iraq ignores smuggling, security risks for F-16s



WASHINGTON: An American company that was paid nearly $700 million to secure an Iraqi base for F-16 fighter jets turned a blind eye to alcohol smuggling, theft, security violations, and allegations of sex trafficking — then terminated investigators who uncovered wrongdoing, an Associated Press investigation has found. Documents and interviews with two former internal investigators and a half-dozen former or current Sallyport Global staff describe schemes at Iraq’s Balad Air Base that were major contract violations at best and, if proven, illegal. The fired investigators, Robert Cole and Kristie King, said they uncovered evidence that Sallyport employees were involved in human trafficking for prostitution. Staff on base routinely flew smuggled alcohol onto the base in such high volumes that a plane once seesawed on the tarmac under the weight. Rogue militia stole enormous generators using flatbed trucks and a 60-foot crane, driving right past Sallyport security guards. The trouble stretches to headquarters in Reston, Virginia, say the investigators and other ex-employees interviewed by AP. They say what they uncovered was not revealed to the US government, which was footing the $686 million contracting bill, until early this year — after an auditor started asking questions.

The investigators were fired abruptly on March 12 — just two months ago — and immediately flown out of Iraq. They say they had been looking into timesheet fraud allegations and were set to interview company managers, whom they considered suspects. “I feel like they got us out so quickly because they feel like we knew too much,” King said in an interview. “When we finally got the idea that they were hiding all of the stuff from the U.S. government, it was mind-blowing”. In a statement to the AP, Sallyport said it follows all contracting rules at the base, home to a squadron of F-16s that are indispensable to the operations of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group. “Sallyport has a strong record of providing security and life support services in challenging war zones like Iraq and plays a major but unheralded role in the war against ISIS,” Chief Operating Officer Matt Stuckart wrote. “The company takes any suggestion of wrongdoing at Balad very seriously”. In one allegation, informants told the investigators that “flight line” staff, who directed airplanes on the runways and handled cargo, were showing up drunk. At one point they passed around a bowl of gummy bears soaked in vodka.

Alcohol on base was restricted, but the booze was everywhere, smuggled in by plane, several former employees told The AP. According to investigative documents and witnesses, empty suitcases were loaded onto Baghdad-bound roundtrip flights. The bags returned packed with alcohol-filled plastic water bottles that skirted security — a significant risk in a war zone. Stuckart said Sallyport stood by its security procedures and got “high marks” from the US Air Force. But Steve Anderson, who worked on flight logistics, says he was told by managers to sign off on manifests he knew had been falsified to hide alcohol and guns. The planes were so heavy that one tipped over nose-first while parked, “like a seesaw,” he recalled. When he raised concerns, it was suggested he find a new job, said Anderson, whose position was soon eliminated. Balad is controlled by the Iraqi government. Americans have been there off and on since 2003. The base was evacuated in June 2014, when IS began overrunning Iraqi territory. When the Americans returned, Sallyport’s job was to keep Balad safe for the F-16s — and their Iraqi pilots. The contract required investigations into potential crimes and contract violations. That was the job of Cole and King.

On July 13, 2015, four F-16s landed at the base, the first of a planned 36 from the US Trouble came within 24 hours, when a long skid mark appeared on the tarmac, stopping about 45 yards from a jet in the “no-go area”. A truck driver had lost control of his vehicle, but never reported it. Three months later, Cole reported the theft of an armored Toyota SUV assigned to VIPs. His chief suspect was a Sallyport bodyguard. The Toyota was recovered within days; Cole was called off the case. A former senior manager defended that order, telling the AP that negotiations with the militias were sensitive and needed Iraqi cooperation. He said the chief suspect was banned from the base, but Cole later saw the man walking around freely. Security breaches continued. On Nov. 15, 2016, just before 2 a.m., militia drove three flatbeds onto the base, one equipped with a crane. After lifting three enormous generators onto the trucks, the militia drove away unchallenged. Cole’s reports noted lax protection for the F-16s. Despite requirements to report major security breaches, the US government was not informed until early this year of the truck skidding near a jet or the armored-SUV theft, according to Cole and two other former Sallyport employees. Both spoke only on condition of anonymity because they did not want to jeopardize current jobs.

As Cole and King sought to get to the bottom of the alcohol smuggling, they stumbled across a prostitution ring in Baghdad whose customers included Sallyport employees, informants said. They learned that four Ethiopians who had previously worked as prostitutes at the hotel had moved to Balad and were doing the same while moonlighting as Sallyport housekeepers. Before either investigation was completed, a Sallyport executive in Virginia shut them down, they say. Stuckart said the prostitution allegations were not substantiated. “It is absurd to suggest that the company would shut down an inquiry into a matter of such gravity,” he said. By then, Cole and King had begun their investigation into complaints that Sallyport managers were falsifying timesheets and people were getting paid without working. The investigators say company lawyers ordered them to keep two sets of books, which they interpreted as an attempt to deceive auditors. “One for the government to see and one for the government not to see,” King said.


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