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Archive for October 30, 2022

Newsline: U.S. embassy says two citizens killed in Seoul’s stampede

Two U.S. citizens were among those killed, the U.S. embassy told CNN in a statement Sunday. “Our staff in Seoul and colleagues in the United States are working tirelessly to provide consular assistance to the victims of last night’s incident and their families,” an embassy statement read. “The U.S. Embassy in Seoul is working closely with local authorities and other partner organizations to assist U.S. citizens affected. We offer our sincerest condolences to the loved ones of those killed and continue to assist the injured. Due to privacy considerations, we have no additional details at this time.” (https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2022/10/30/At-least-153-killed-133-injured-in-Halloween-stampede-in-Seoul/4081667140137/) The number of foreigners killed came to 20, according to the official tally from fire authorities. They are four each from China and Iran; three from Russia; and one each from the United States, France, Vietnam, Uzbekistan, Norway, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Austria, officials said. At least 153 people have been killed and 133 others injured in a deadly stampede in Seoul’s Itaewon district as huge crowds of partygoers, many in their 20s, converged in the entertainment district for late-night Halloween celebrations.

Newsline: Pollution tweets from US embassies improved air quality in major cities

US embassies’ tweets showing real-time air quality data resulted in lower levels of air pollution in cities around the world. In 2008, the US embassy in Beijing installed an air quality monitor and began tweeting hourly readings. By 2020, more than 50 US embassies in 37 other countries had followed, creating a large data set that researchers could use to assess the impact of disseminating real-time pollution data. Akshaya Jha at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and his colleagues analysed satellite data on air pollution in 466 cities in 136 low and middle-income countries, including 50 cities where US embassies installed monitors. They focused on pollution particles with a diameter of 2.5 microns or less, known as PM2.5. These particles are particularly harmful because they penetrate the lung barrier and enter the bloodstream, contributing to respiratory and cardiovascular conditions such as heart disease and lung cancer. The study found that cities where US embassies tweeted air contamination data saw the levels of PM 2.5 drop by an average of 2 to 4 micrograms per cubic metre compared with those that didn’t. (https://www.newscientist.com/article/2343859-pollution-tweets-from-us-embassies-improved-air-quality-in-cities/) In 2016, it was estimated that outdoor air pollution caused 4.2 million premature deaths worldwide per year, but only 32 per cent countries in the study sample had any form of air quality monitoring. Fewer countries still made that data public.

Newsline: Qatar summons German ambassador

Qatar summoned the German envoy over remarks by Germany’s interior minister, who appeared to criticize the decision to award the World Cup to the Gulf Arab nation because of its human rights record. German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, who is also responsible for sports, plans to travel to Qatar on Monday and Tuesday with the government’s human rights commissioner, German lawmakers and a delegation from the German soccer federation. In an official statement issued on Friday, Faeser noted that “no World Cup takes place in a vacuum.” She added that with regard to future international sporting events, “we must ensure that their awarding and organization is tied to human rights standards.” Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said it summoned the ambassador to convey its “disappointment and complete rejection and condemnation” of Faeser’s remarks. (https://www.wdtn.com/sports/ap-sports/ap-qatar-summons-german-envoy-over-world-cup-rights-criticism/) It was the first time Qatar has summoned an ambassador following years of heavy international scrutiny of its treatment of migrant workers and criminalization of homosexual relations. With just weeks to go before the start of the soccer tournament, Qatari officials appear increasingly frustrated with such criticism, which they say is often unfounded and ignores progress on labor issues in recent years.