Iran vows 'devastating, unified' revenge on enemy for any act of aggression

April 15, 2024

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The Iranian Army Chief Commander Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi says the country will not hesitate to give a “stormy and unified” response to any act of aggression against it.

In a Monday message marking the National Army Day, Mousavi said great defensive measures of the country’s Army and Armed Forces have resulted in strong deterrent power.

Iran has conveyed its message of power to the world in a way that the world has realized that the Iranian Armed Forces will give a “stormy and unified” response to any aggression against the country’s national interests, borders and security, he added.

The top commander noted that Iran’s firm response to an act of aggression by the usurping Israeli enemy against its diplomatic premises in the Syrian capital of Damascus brought joy to oppressed nations, especially the resilient people of Palestine and Gaza.

Mousavi emphasized that the retaliatory strikes, dubbed Operation True Promise, revealed only a part of the capacity and strong will of the Iranian Armed Forces and were carried out in cooperation among the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Division, the Army, and the Defense Ministry.

He said the Army has played a key role in strengthening the country’s defense power, independence and lasting security by implementing various measures.

It has constructed strategic drone and underground tactical bases and made hundreds of modern defense achievements in the land, air, sea and space sectors in addition to advancing in the fields of science and technology, he explained.

Now the enemies lack the courage to carry out any act of aggression against the Islamic establishment and the noble Iranian nation, the top commander said.

He added that Iran has staged several joint military drills to enhance national security and dignity.

The Israeli airstrikes on Iran’s embassy compound in Damascus killed two generals of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi and General Mohammad Hadi Haji Rahimi, as well as five of their accompanying officers.

In response, on Saturday night, the IRGC targeted the Israeli-occupied territories with a barrage of drones and missiles. The extent of the damage on Israeli military bases across the occupied territories is yet to be specified.

Following the reprisal, Iran warned Israel against taking any retaliatory actions and also urged the US to try not to involve itself in the conflict and signaled that it viewed the matter as “concluded.”

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News Network
May 20,2024

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Hopes are fading that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his foreign minister have survived a helicopter crash in mountainous terrain and icy weather, an Iranian official said on Monday after search teams located the wreckage.

"President Raisi's helicopter was completely burned in the crash ... unfortunately, all passengers are feared dead," the official told Reuters.

Rescue teams fought blizzards and difficult terrain through the night to reach the wreckage in East Azerbaijan province in the early hours of Monday.

“We can see the wreckage and the situation does not look good,” the head of Iran’s Red Crescent, Pirhossein Kolivand, told state TV.

Raisi, 63, was elected president in 2021, and since taking office has ordered a tightening of morality laws, overseen a crackdown US-Israel backed anti-government protests and pushed hard in nuclear talks with world powers.

A Turkish drone identified a source of heat suspected to be the helicopter's wreckage and had shared the coordinates of the possible crash site with Iranian authorities, Anadolu news agency said earlier on X.

State news agency IRNA said Raisi was flying in a US-made Bell 212 helicopter.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who holds ultimate power with a final say on foreign policy and Iran's nuclear programme, sought to reassure Iranians, saying there would be no disruption to state affairs.

The chief of staff of Iran's army ordered all resources of the army and the elite Revolutionary Guards to be put to use in search and rescue operations.

Earlier, the national broadcaster had stopped all regular programming to show prayers being held for Raisi across the country.

In the early hours of Monday, it showed a rescue team, wearing bright jackets and head torches, huddled around a GPS device as they searched a pitch-black mountainside on foot in a blizzard.

“We are thoroughly searching every inch of the general area of the crash," state media quoted a regional army commander as saying. "The area has very cold, rainy, and foggy weather conditions. The rain is gradually turning into snow."

Several countries expressed concern and offered assistance in any rescue.

The White House said U.S. President Joe Biden had been briefed on reports about the crash. China said it was deeply concerned. The European Union offered emergency satellite mapping technology.

Possible successor to Khamenei

The crash comes at a time of growing dissent within Iran over an array of political, social and economic crises. Iran's clerical rulers face international pressure over Tehran's disputed nuclear programme and its deepening military ties with Russia during the war in Ukraine.

Since Iran’s open support to Hamas’ resistance against Israeli aggression, US and Israel have harshly criticised the President Raisi. 

In Iran's dual political system, split between the clerical establishment and the government, it is Raisi's 85-year-old mentor Khamenei, supreme leader since 1989, who holds decision-making power on all major policies.

For years many have seen Raisi as a strong contender to succeed Khamenei, who has endorsed Raisi's main policies. Raisi's victory in 2021 elections brought all branches of power under the control of revolutionaries, after eight years when the presidency had been held by pragmatist Hassan Rouhani and a nuclear deal negotiated with powers including Washington.

Raisi had been at the Azerbaijani border on Sunday to inaugurate the Qiz-Qalasi Dam, a joint project. Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev, who said he had bid a "friendly farewell" to Raisi earlier in the day, offered assistance in the rescue.

The chopper that was transporting President Raeisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and their companions encountered some difficulties and was forced to make a "hard landing".

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News Network
May 17,2024

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In scorching heat on a busy Kolkata street last month, commuters sought refuge inside a glass-walled bus shelter where two air conditioners churned around stifling air. Those inside were visibly sweating, dabbing at their foreheads in sauna-like temperatures that were scarcely cooler than out in the open.

Local authorities initially had plans to install as many as 300 of the cooled cabins under efforts to improve protections from a heat season that typically runs from April until the monsoon hits the subcontinent in June. There are currently only a handful in operation, and some have been stripped of their AC units, leaving any users sweltering.

“It doesn’t work,” Firhad Hakim, mayor of the city of 1.5 crore, said on a searing afternoon when temperatures topped 40C. “You feel suffocated.”

Attempts in Kolkata and across India to improve resilience to extreme heat have often been equally ill-conceived, despite a death toll estimated at more than 24,000 since 1992. Inconsistent or incomplete planning, a lack of funding, and the failure to make timely preparations to shield a population of 140 crore are leaving communities vulnerable as periods of extreme temperatures become more frequent, longer in duration and affect a wider sweep of the country.

Kolkata, with its hot, humid climate and proximity to the Bay of Bengal, is particularly vulnerable to temperature and rainfall extremes, and ranked by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as among the global locations that are most at risk.

An increase in average global temperatures of 2C could mean the city would experience the equivalent of its record 2015 heat waves every year, according to the IPCC. High humidity can compound the impacts, as it limits the human body’s ability to regulate its temperature.

Even so, the city — one of India's largest urban centres — still lacks a formal strategy to handle heat waves.

Several regions across India will see as many as 11 heat wave days this month compared to 3 in a typical year, while maximum temperatures in recent weeks have already touched 47.2C in the nation’s east, according to the Indian Meteorological Department. Those extremes come amid the Lok Sabha election during which high temperatures are being cited as among the factors for lower voter turnout.

At SSKM Hospital, one of Kolkata’s busiest, a waiting area teemed last month with people sheltering under colorful umbrellas and thronging a coin-operated water dispenser to refill empty bottles. A weary line snaked back from a government-run kiosk selling a subsidized lunch of rice, lentils, boiled potato and eggs served on foil plates.

“High temperatures can cause heat stroke, skin rashes, cramps and dehydration,” said Niladri Sarkar, professor of medicine at the hospital. “Some of these can turn fatal if not attended to on time, especially for people that have pre-existing conditions.” Extreme heat has an outsized impact on poorer residents, who are often malnourished, lack access to clean drinking water and have jobs that require outdoor work, he said.

Elsewhere in the city, tea sellers sweltered by simmering coal-fired ovens, construction workers toiled under a blistering midday sun, and voters attending rallies for the ongoing national elections draped handkerchiefs across their faces in an effort to stay cool. The state government in April advised some schools to shutter for an early summer vacation to avoid the heat.

Since 2013, states, districts and cities are estimated to have drafted more than 100 heat action plans, intended to improve their ability to mitigate the effects of extreme temperatures. The Centre set out guidelines eight years ago to accelerate adoption of the policies, and a January meeting of the National Disaster Management Authority pledged to do more to strengthen preparedness.

The absence of such planning in Kolkata has also meant a failure to intervene in trends that have made the city more susceptible.

Almost a third of the city’s green cover was lost during the decade through 2021, according to an Indian government survey. Other cities including Mumbai and Bengaluru have experienced similar issues. That’s combined with a decline in local water bodies and a construction boom to deliver an urban heat island effect, according to Saira Shah Halim, a parliamentary candidate in the Kolkata Dakshin electoral district in the city’s south. “What we’re seeing today is a result of this destruction,” she said.

Hakim, the city’s mayor, disputes the idea that Kolkata’s preparations have lagged, arguing recent extreme weather has confounded local authorities. “Such a kind of heat wave is new to us, we’re not used to it,” he said. “We’re locked with elections right now. Once the elections are over, we’ll sit with experts to work on a heat action plan.”

Local authorities are currently ensuring adequate water supplies, and have put paramedics on stand-by to handle heat-induced illnesses, Hakim said.

Focusing on crisis management, rather than on better preparedness, is at the root of the country’s failings, according to Nairwita Bandyopadhyay, a Kolkata-based climatologist and geographer. “Sadly the approach is to wait and watch until the hazard turns into a disaster,” she said.

Even cities and states that already have heat action plans have struggled to make progress in implementing recommendations, the New Delhi-based think tank Centre for Policy Research said in a report last year reviewing 37 of the documents.

Most policies don’t adequately reflect local conditions, they often lack detail on how action should be funded and typically don’t set out a source of legal authority, according to the report.

As many as 9 people have already died as a result of heat extremes this year, according to the meteorological department, though the figure is likely to significantly underestimate the actual total. That follows about 110 fatalities during severe heat waves during April and June last year, the World Meteorological Organization said last month.

Even so, the handling of extreme heat has failed to become a “political lightning rod that can stir governments into action,” said Aditya Valiathan Pillai, among authors of the CPR study and now a fellow at New Delhi-based Sustainable Futures Collaborative.

Modi's government has often moved to contain criticism of its policies, and there is also the question of unreliable data. “When deaths occur, one is not sure whether it was directly caused by heat, or whether heat exacerbated an existing condition,” Pillai said.

In 2022, health ministry data showed 33 people died as a result of heat waves, while the National Crime Records Bureau – another agency that tracks mortality statistics – reported 730 fatalities from heat stroke.

Those discrepancies raise questions about a claim by the Centre that its policies helped cut heat-related deaths from 2,040 in 2015 to 4 in 2020, after national bureaucrats took on more responsibility for disaster risk management.

Local officials in Kolkata are now examining potential solutions and considering the addition of more trees, vertical gardens on building walls and the use of porous concrete, all of which can help combat urban heat.

India’s election is also an opportunity to raise issues around poor preparations, according to Halim, a candidate for the Communist Party of India (Marxist), whose supporters carry bright red flags at campaign events scheduled for the early morning and after sundown to escape extreme temperatures.

“I’m mentioning it,” she said. “It’s become a very, very challenging campaign. The heat is just insufferable.”

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News Network
May 23,2024

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Bengaluru: Patients visiting government hospitals in Karnataka recently were shocked when they noticed that some drugs had labels of Animal Husbandry Veterinary Sciences (AHVS) but the department concerned has said it was only a logo related issue and that the medicines were indeed meant for human use.

The Karnataka State Medical Supplies Corporation Limited (KSMSCL) said there was an error in the 'logogram' design, but the product was of standard quality and 'human use only'.

As the typo led to panic among patients, KSMSCL Managing Director Chidananda Sadashiva Vatare said in a statement that the product permission copies were submitted and confirmed they were permitted to manufacture as per required medical standards and for human use only.

According to sources in KSMSCL, there were seven drugs which had the AHVS label. This included eye and nasal drops.

These drugs were supplied by a private firm with a total value of Rs 62.9 lakh and it reached the government warehouse on January 5, this year.

The drugs were Methyl Prednisolone injection, Carboxymethylcellulose Eye Drops, Oxymetazoline Pediatric (Nasal) Drops, Flurbiprofen Eye Drops IP, Sodium Chloride (Nasal) Drops, Timolol Maleate Drops and Oxymetazoline Hydrochloride (Nasal) Solution IP.

"The analytical test reports from NABL/government approved laboratories and in-house test reports of the products opined as the products referred above are of standard quality. The test reports from the private empanelled laboratories of KSMSCL have reported these products are of standard quality," Vatare said.

The products were supplied to all the warehouses in the state by the supplier by January 5, he said, adding the supplier requested KSMSCL on January 18 to accept the supplied products by masking the typo.

"It is to be noted that no changes were done in the label of the product information provided. Also, the logogram design was correct in one part of the product and only in another part was there a printing error in the logogram design which was masked, where instead of Health department it was typed as AHVS department."

"The supplier was also imposed a fine of one per cent on the purchase order value and all warehouses were instructed to distribute the products only after masking the error. The supplier was also warned not to repeat the mistake," he said.

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