Tehran, Oct 4 (AP/UNB) — Iran's supreme leader says the Islamic Republic will "slap" the United States by defeating new American sanctions targeting the nation.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made the comments Thursday in a speech in Tehran before thousands of members of the Basij, an all-volunteer force under Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.
Khamenei says he heard President Donald Trump tell European leaders that the Islamic Republic would collapse in the coming months over American sanctions, something he dismissed. The sanctions have hurt Iran's already ailing economy and have fueled the depreciation of its rial currency.
Khamenei also warned that media controlled by foreign enemies could be as dangerous as "chemical weapons."
Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the Guard's expeditionary Quds Force, attended the speech with the head of the Guard, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari.
Dhaka, Oct 4 (UNB) - Six rescue divers have drowned while trying to save a teenager from a disused mining pool in Malaysia, reports BBC.
They were searching for a 17-year-old boy who is thought to have fallen into the body of water while fishing with his friends on Wednesday.
Authorities said the divers became caught in a "whirlpool" and sudden strong currents caused some of their equipment to come off.
The search for the missing boy resumed on Thursday.
'A very sad day'
The boy and his friends were about to start fishing at the mining pool in Sepang district in Selangor state when he fell in, reports said.
The divers followed all safety procedures as they went into the pool on a search and rescue mission, according to Sepang district police chief Abdul Aziz Ali
They were all wearing complete diving equipment and were tied to a single rope, he said.
Mr Aziz told state news agency Bernama that a strong current "caused all victims to spin in the water", adding that this caused their equipment to come off.
"A whirlpool had formed at the area and a team on the banks said they saw the six divers struggling to get out," Fire and Rescue Department director-general Mohammad Hamdan Wahid told news outlet the New Straits Times.
The men were in the water for about 30 minutes while their colleagues tried to rescue them. All six were unconscious when they were pulled out of the water and could not be resuscitated.
"This is the first time as many as six personnel died," Mr Wahid told Bernama. "This is a very sad day for us."
Mr Wahid said an initial investigation suggested that a floodwall near the area failed to contain gushing water brought about by heavy rain earlier that day, causing the strong current.
Bajil, Oct 4 (AP/UNB) — With American backing, the United Arab Emirates has resumed an all-out offensive aimed at capturing Yemen's most vital port, Hodeida, where Shiite rebels are digging in to fight to the last man. Thousands of civilians are caught in the middle, trapped by minefields and barrages of mortars and airstrikes.
If the array of Yemeni militias backed by the UAE takes the city, it would be their biggest victory against the rebels, known as Houthis, after a long stalemate in the three-year-old civil war.
But the battle on the Red Sea coast also threatens to throw Yemen into outright famine.
Hodeida's port literally keeps millions of starving Yemenis alive, as the entry point for 70 percent of food imports and international aid. More than 8 million of Yemen's nearly 29 million people have no food other than what is provided by world relief agencies, a figure that continues to rapidly rise.
A protracted siege could cut off that lifeline. The battle has already killed hundreds of civilians and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes, adding to the more than 2 million Yemenis displaced by the war. Amid the fighting, cholera cases in the area leaped from 497 in June to 1,347 in August, Save the Children reported Tuesday.
The assault first began in June, then paused in August as the U.N. envoy for Yemen tried to cobble together peace talks, the first in two years. That attempt fell apart, and the offensive resumed in mid-September.
The United States effectively gave a green light to push ahead when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sept. 12 certified continued American support for the Saudi-led coalition's air campaign against the Houthis. The coalition has come under heavy criticism for its relentless airstrikes since 2015, which U.N. experts say have caused the majority of the estimated 10,000 civilian deaths in the conflict and could constitute a war crime. Several strikes in August killed dozens of children.
Pompeo declared that Saudi Arabia and the UAE were taking adequate measures to minimize civilian deaths. The U.S. supports the coalition with intelligence and air-to-air refueling for its warplanes, as well as with billions of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE — as well as the United States — say their campaign aims to restore the recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and thwart what they contend is an attempt by Iran to seize control in Yemen through the rebels. Iran denies that the Houthis are its proxy.
But the resulting war has pushed Yemen into the world's worst humanitarian disaster, fragmentation and chaos.
A coalition victory at Hodeida would be the first breakthrough after more than two years of deadlock.
After the Houthis took over the capital, Sanaa, and surged south in early 2015, the coalition launched its campaign, pushing them back. Since then, front lines have hardly moved, with the Houthis firmly in control of the north.
The notable exception has been on the Red Sea coast, where since December, UAE-backed forces have battled their way toward Hodeida.
The UAE says taking the port will force the Houthis to the negotiating table.
Hodeida's fall would cost the rebels a major source of income, since they heavily tax commodities and aid coming from the port. That cash has helped them finance their fight and the iron fist they wield in their territory.
But if the Houthis won't negotiate, the coalition faces an even tougher fight into the rebel-held north.
It took two years for the coalition to reach Hodeida, so "how many months or years will it take for this same collection of — often competing and opposed — militias to make their way through Yemen's mountains toward the capital of Sanaa?" said Michael Horton, a fellow at the Jamestown Foundation.
The two sides have pounded each other for months, as some 22,000 UAE-backed Yemeni fighters inch across the flat coastal plain to the city's edges. The force is mainly made up of militiamen from the south or the Hodeida area, backed by tanks and coalition warplanes. They face an estimated 5,000 Houthi fighters.
The coalition fighters are currently trying to encircle the city. But they have hit ferocious resistance at Kilo 16, a point on the main highway heading east from Hodeida to Sanaa. Despite two weeks of fighting, the forces have failed to fully capture it.
The fighting has partially shut the highway, which is not only a key Houthi supply line but also vital for importers and humanitarian agencies moving goods.
Every piece of ground has been gained only with heavy bloodshed. One military official estimated 1,300 fighters killed from the two sides in just the past few weeks. The defending Houthis, working in small units to avoid airstrikes, attack from hiding in foliage. Haydari al-Subaihi, a coalition-backed fighter, recounted how 30 of his comrades were killed at once when a mortar shell hit their position.
Coalition airstrikes also reap a heavy toll.
"We find vast lands littered with the bodies of the Houthis, many charred from airstrikes," said Mansour al-Lahji, another Emirati-backed militiaman.
"THE WORLD TOPPLED ON OUR HEADS"
Thousands of civilians have been caught in the middle, unable to escape their homes because of heavy bombardment by both sides and the Houthis' minefields.
In Durayhimi, just south of Hodeida city, around 20,000 people remain trapped. Food, fuel and water have run short, and aid agencies cannot reach them, a health official who fled the district said.
Houthis in the district have buried dead fighters and civilians in mass graves, the official said. "When one grave is full, they dig another," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
Saadia Ibrahim, a grandmother in her 60s, said that as her family fled their village, a Houthi mortar hit near their home, killing three of her relatives. As they drove off, another explosion — she doesn't know what it was — blasted the car, killing four more and throwing her through the air. Wounded by shrapnel, she was rescued by one of her sons on a motorcycle and taken to Bajil, a nearby town crowded with families fleeing the fighting.
"We fled right and left, and then the world toppled on our heads," she said.
The fighting has displaced half a million of the 2.6 million people living in the province where Hodeida is located. Documented civilian deaths in Hodeida spiked to an average 116 a month in June, July and August, up from 44 a month in the first five months of the year, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, a monitoring group cited by U.N. agencies.
The actual toll is likely far higher.
Hodeida port has so far kept operating. The UAE has said it will work to ensure the port stays open, preparing airdrops of food if necessary.
Coalition spokesman Col. Turki al-Malki told the AP that once the city is captured, the coalition will ease restrictions on ships entering the port, which now face long delays as a U.N. team inspects them to prevent weapon transfers to the Houthis. Port revenues will go to the government, allowing it to pay salaries of its employees, he said.
More and more Yemenis are starving simply because they can't afford to buy food in an economy that has been demolished by fighting, airstrikes and a coalition blockade. With the currency in freefall, the U.N. has warned that soon another 3.5 million people will need international aid.
Hodeida's fighting has endangered the lifeline. The battle at Kilo 16 forced aid supplies to take longer routes out, slowing deliveries. Also, aid agencies can't reach the nearby Red Sea Mills, one of Yemen's largest granaries, where enough grain to feed 3.5 million people for a month is stored.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
The battle brings in to sharp relief a question hanging over the war: What will be the shape of Yemen after all the destruction it has wreaked?
Notably absent from the fight to take Hodeida are the forces of Hadi's government — the government that the coalition says it aims to restore. Several pro-Hadi officials told the AP that the UAE squeezed him out.
"The government knows nothing about what is going on in Hodeida," one senior official said. "It's all in the hands of the Emiratis." He and the other officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivities of relations with the Emirates.
Mistrust runs deep between Hadi's government and the UAE, which has set up military bases across southern Yemen and controls much of the south through the militias it funds. Some Hadi allies accuse the UAE of seeking to impose its own dominion over Yemen — and see the assault on Hodeida as adding another piece to its hold over the country's coastline.
Houthi-free southern Yemen has turned into a patchwork of splintered regions under rival militias. Aden, the southern capital, has seen assassinations and street battles between pro-UAE and pro-Hadi militias, as well as increasing crime, robbery and rape.
The fragmentation has sent a message to Yemenis living under the Houthis' repressive rule that the alternative may not be much better.
"Many Yemenis resent what they see as a neo-colonial land and resource grab," said Horton. "Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE have carved out spheres of influence."
Boise, Oct 4 (AP/UNB) — Leon Lederman, an experimental physicist who won a Nobel Prize in physics for his work on subatomic particles and coined the phrase "God particle," died Wednesday at 96.
Lederman directed the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago from 1978 to 1989.
He's described as a giant in his field who also had a passion for sharing science, resulting in his book, "The God Particle."
The title refers to a subatomic particle called the Higgs boson, long theorized until a powerful European particle collider confirmed its existence.
Lederman died at a nursing home in the Idaho town of Rexburg, said Ellen Carr Lederman, his wife of 37 years.
"What he really loved was people, trying to educate them and help them understand what they were doing in science," she said.
Lederman won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1988 with two other scientists for discovering a subatomic particle called the muon neutrino. He used the prize money to buy a log cabin near the tiny town of Driggs in eastern Idaho as a vacation retreat.
The couple moved there full-time in 2011 when Leon Lederman started experiencing memory loss problems that became more severe, his wife said. His Nobel Prize sold for $765,000 in an auction in 2015 to help pay for medical bills and care.
"He made extraordinary contributions to our understanding of the basic forces and particles of nature," Michael Turner, a professor at the University of Chicago, said in a statement. "But he was also a leader far ahead of his time in science education, in serving as an ambassador for science around the world, and transferring benefits of basic research to the national good."
The university manages Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.
Lederman was born July 15, 1922, in New York City, where his father operated a hand laundry. Lederman earned a degree in chemistry from City College of New York in 1943, served three years in the U.S. Army during World War II, and then went to Columbia University where he received a Ph.D. in particle physics in 1951.
He began making discoveries involving subatomic particles, eventually becoming director of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.
"Leon Lederman provided the scientific vision that allowed Fermilab to remain on the cutting edge of technology for more than 40 years," Nigel Lockyer, the laboratory's current director, said in a statement.
Ellen Lederman said her husband often worked while vacationing in Idaho but also enjoyed skiing and horseback riding.
"I had to learn to ski; he had to learn to ride," she said. "And he had to ride a lot more than I had to ski. It was a good deal. He was a good rider."
London, Oct 4 (AP/UNB)— British and Australian officials said on Thursday the Russian military intelligence unit GRU is behind a wave of global cyberattacks.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Thursday the GRU is responsible for "indiscriminate and reckless" attacks against political institutions, businesses, media and sports.
Britain's National Cyber Security Center has concluded that hackers behind numerous attacks have been identified as GRU personnel. The agency says four new attacks are associated with GRU as well as earlier cyberattacks.
It cites attacks on the World Anti-Doping agency, Ukrainian transport systems, the 2016 U.S. presidential race and others as very likely the work of the GRU.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne issued a joint statement that Australian intelligence agencies agreed that GRU "is responsible for this pattern of malicious cyber activity." They said Australia was not significantly impacted, but the cyberattacks caused economic damage and disrupted civilian infrastructure in other places.
British officials earlier blamed the GRU for the March nerve agent attack on Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury.
Russia denies any involvement.