'I just held his hand and waited,' friend of former solder tells murder trial

THE ‘NOISY’ house party at the centre of a row in which a former soldier was stabbed to death had been “quiet and mellow”, one of the guests has told a murder trial.

Partygoers were drinking vodka, listening to chart music and dancing before a next door neighbour and his friends came to complain about the noise and a fight broke out, the resident’s sister said.

The Central Criminal Court heard that later, in a second confrontation, one of the neighbour’s friends, Warren O’Connor (24) was fatally stabbed in the chest with a knife.

Another friend testified that he held Mr O’Connor’s hand as he lay dying, telling him “everything would be alright, but we couldn’t do anything.”

Evidence was continuing today in the trial of Gary Watson (35), who denies murdering Mr O’Connor at Hole in The Wall Road, Donaghmede on January 16, 2010.

The accused, of Millbrook Avenue, Kilbarrack,  has also pleaded not guilty to producing a knife in the course of a dispute and assault causing harm to Philip Woodcock (34) in the incident

The court heard Mr Woodcock was living next door to Louise Kinsella in apartments at The Beech, Grattan Wood. There was a party in Ms Kinsella’s apartment and Mr Woodcock removed the electrical fuse to cut the power, but the party continued.

Mr Woodcock went to the local garage where his partner rang him to tell him not to come home as men from the house party were waiting for him. He returned with his four friends – Graham Hogan, Jonathan Gunnery, Richard Grant and Warren O’Connor.

Giving evidence, Mr Grant told prosecution counsel James Dwyer SC Mr O’Connor asked him to go to Mr Woodcock’s apartment.

Before they had called next door, he did not get the feeling there was going to be a big confrontation, he said.

Mr Grant said he and Mr Woodcock knocked on the apartment where the noise was coming from. Their three friends stood in the hallway.

Mr Grant said people were standing behind the door when it opened and he saw “a couple of knives”.

Following this, Mr Grant ran into Mr Woodcock’s apartment next door and took some knives from the kitchen saying he “panicked” when he saw the others with knives and it was a “nearly like a reflex”.

He thought he gave a knife to Graham Hogan.

By the time he went back “everything was defused” and had settled down and a woman there said “you have knives now.”

He thought she was making the point that he was “hyping everything back up.” He took the knife back off Mr Hogan and gave them to this woman, telling her to take them away, he said.

He fought in the hall with a “stocky, red-haired fella”.

Later Mr Woodcock and his friends went downstairs to the car park.

Mr Grant said a fight began to erupt between the two groups there and a black Honda Civic car with the other group of men was “flying around”.

He said he threw a rat trap and bottles of beer at the Honda Civic and one of the bottles smashed the windscreen.

Mr Grant said their group got into Mr Woodcock’s Ford Focus and they drove out the gate onto Hole in the Wall Road. The Civic rammed the Focus three times, said the witness, adding that their Focus shook and he felt scared.

The Civic then spun around before it ended up parked alongside their car at an angle.

Mr Grant said he got out of the Focus and threw something at the Civic, before running to the driver’s side and fighting the driver, who he thought was “the most dangerous at the time” because the car was a “weapon.”

Mr Woodcock was also in the fight with the driver, he said. Mr Grant got into the Civic and when he got out again, he heard someone say “Warren’s after getting knocked out.”

He saw Mr O’Connor lying on his left side.

“He looked wrong, the way he was lying wasn’t natural,” Mr Grant said.

They did not know Mr O’Connor had been stabbed and Mr Grant pulled his feet out, lying him out on his back.

“I think we saw a knife sticking out from him, I didn’t know what it was at first… it was weird, you couldn’t see much of it,” he said.

He could not see the handle and thought it was snapped.

The knife was in the space between Mr O’Connor’s collarbone and neck. He went to take the blade out in a “reaction” and a woman at the scene told him: “don’t take it out, you could do more damage.”

Mr Grant took his top off, rolled it up and wrapped it around the knife, trying to stop the bleeding, but it “didn’t work.”

“Warren was a big strong guy. We never thought Warren would die,” he said. “We were just trying to keep him awake and stuff, trying to reassure him. I held his hand, telling him everything was going to be alright but we couldn’t do anything. I just held his hand and waited with him.”

He checked Mr O’Connor’s pulse and there did not seem to be any, he said. A woman came and said she was a “first aider.”

Mr Woodcock said he himself had been stabbed and Mr Grant saw blood.

Cross-examined by Ann Marie Lawlor SC, defending, he accepted he told gardai he did not know “who was ramming who” in the collision.

Amy Kinsella, sister of Louise Kinsella from the neighbouring apartment, said they went to a friend Emma Cooney’s house, bought vodka and Boost, an energy drink, at an off-licence and had been at a restaurant before the party.

They were in Ms Cooney’s white Passat, met up with “Jay and Gary” in a Honda Civic and they all returned to Grattan Wood.

She described Gary as being small and muscly with black hair and a white hoodie on. They were listening to chart music, two of the women were dancing and “it was quiet, it wasn’t loud music, it was just mellow like. It was grand.”

Two other men arrived, one in a wheelchair and “next thing the electricity went off.” Someone checked and found out the fuse was gone and the power came back on.

She heard a big commotion in the hallway, looked out and saw “three lads.” She said “your man Philip trying to barge through the door of the apartment” and trying to attack “Jay and Gary.”

The women tried to stop the fight and she saw Jay coming out with a knife but Emma grabbed it off him and put it in the sink, she said.

The witness said Philip punched Gary, and Jay’s eye was “busted open.”

After, she tried to mop up blood from the floor and wall. The “two lads” were shouting about what happened, then left, followed by the women.

She saw the Focus and Civic driving around before leaving the complex. When the men from the Civic returned a few minutes later, they looked “very hyped up and panicking.”

They left in a car with a friend in a wheelchair and the witness left in Emma’s car.

The trial continues before a jury and Mr Justice Michael White.

Source: Read Full Article

Opinion | The Best Way to Compete With China

To the Editor:

Re “Treat China Like the Danger It Is” (Op-Ed, Jan. 15):

Much of Derek Scissors and Daniel Blumenthal’s arguments rest on intellectual property theft and protectionist policies, which do indeed cost American businesses billions. But this emphasis is increasingly outdated: As China struggles to avoid the middle-income trap, it has begun to open higher-value-added services and industries to foreign investment.

An exaggerated anti-China sentiment obscures belated but real reforms on market access and intellectual property protections, and the opportunities they promise.

Just as problematic is the article’s admission that decoupling depends on the cooperation of American allies.

Very few countries are willing to choose the United States over China when it comes to trade and investment. One only need look to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which despite American opposition has been joined by crucial allies like Britain and Australia.

The best way to compete with China is to build on America’s traditional strengths of innovation, integration and openness to the world.

Scott M. Moore
Philadelphia
The writer is director of the Penn Global China Program at the University of Pennsylvania.

Source: Read Full Article

Australia’s drought seen from the air

Parts of eastern Australia are suffering their worst drought in living memory as a lack of rainfall in winter hits farms badly.

Reuters photographer David Gray captured the view of the dried earth from the air, finding an often surprising collage of colours.

A lone tree is the only sign of life near a water trough on a farm outside Walgett in New South Wales. Farm owner May McKeown said she had not seen much rain since 2010.

About 98% of New South Wales is drought-stricken, and two-thirds of neighbouring Queensland. As a result, farmers are having to order in food for their livestock, which raises their costs considerably.

A cow walks away from a water tank in Tamworth, New South Wales. “I cant seem to be able to do anything else apart from just feed, and keep things going,” farmer Tom Wollaston said. “[The drought] seems to be one step ahead of me all the time.”

A dried-up dam near Gunnedah in New South Wales. The government’s aid for drought-hit farmers has now topped A$1bn (£564m; $738m). “I have been here all my life, and this drought is feeling like it will be around a while,” farmer Ash Whitney said.

Sheep eat grain outside Tamworth. Government aid includes funding towards better mental health services for struggling farmers.

Parts of Australia saw the second warmest summer on record between December and February, and the country as a whole saw its driest July since 2002.

An irrigated paddock next to one that has not been watered. About a quarter of Australia’s agricultural output comes from New South Wales, so the drought has hit the industry particularly hard.

While touring the worst-hit areas in June, PM Malcolm Turnbull said there was a clear link to climate change. “I don’t know many people in rural New South Wales that I talk to that don’t think the climate is getting drier and rainfall is becoming more volatile.”

All interviews by Reuters

Source: Read Full Article

Russia releases satellite image purporting to show U.S. missile plant violating INF treaty

The Russian military has released a satellite image that it says proves the U.S. was violating a Cold War-era nuclear arms treaty two years before the Trump administration announced it was withdrawing from the agreement.

The image shows the Tucson, Ariz. facilities of defence contractor Raytheon Corporation being expanded and upgraded “in order to create medium and shorter-range missiles banned by the INF [Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces] Treaty,” the Russian Defence Ministry said.

Dated Dec. 3, 2018, the satellite image purports to show three active missile production units and one unit that’s under construction in addition to test sites and storage facilities.

On Friday, President Donald Trump said the U.S. was pulling the plug on the 1987 INF treaty, accusing Moscow of violating the pact by deploying banned missiles, a charge that Russia strongly denied.

The following day, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia would follow in the footsteps of the U.S. in abandoning the treaty.

The Russian Defence Ministry’s satellite image of Raytheon Corporation’s plant in Tucson was released hours later.

According to Russia, the satellite image is among several pieces of evidence which “irrefutably prove that the U.S. administration decided to withdraw from the INF treaty a few years before it started making public, unfounded accusations against Russia of violating the treaty.”

Russia said the Tucson plant has expanded in size by 44 per cent over the past two years, while the number of employees there is set to rise by around 2,000 people, which it said was further indication of U.S. missile production activities.

Global News has reached out to the Raytheon Corporation for comment.

The collapse of the INF Treaty has raised fears of a repeat of a Cold War showdown in the 1980s, when the U.S. and the Soviet Union both deployed intermediate-range missiles on the continent.

Such weapons were seen as particularly destabilizing as they only take a few minutes to reach their targets, leaving no time for decision-makers and raising the likelihood of a global nuclear conflict over a false launch warning.

— With files from the Associated Press

Follow @Kalvapalle

Source: Read Full Article

Supporters rally in support of Hamilton family facing deportation to Hungary

Thirty people have rallied outside of the Bay Street Federal Building in support of a Hamilton family that faces deportation to Hungary.

The four members of the Almassy-Palfi family have spent more than seven years building their lives in Canada, but will have to leave this weekend without a last-minute suspension of their deportation order.

Elizabeth Almassy has a PhD and was a college professor in Budapest, but has been working in Hamilton alongside her husband as building superintendents.

Elizabeth says she fled domestic violence in Hungary, along with her now teenaged sons, claiming refugee status in September 2011 but their claim was rejected last Spring.

If the deportation order can be suspended, she is hoping to eventually get the right to stay on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Otherwise, the deportation order will be enforced on Sunday.

Her sons, 18-year-old Adam and 16-year-old Marton Palfi, just started new semesters at Westmount Secondary School. Adam hopes to start his post-secondary education in the fall, noting that he was just accepted into Carleton University.

Hamilton-East/Stoney Creek Liberal MP Bob Bratina says he supports the family’s desire to stay in Canada and is still advocating for what he calls “the right decision” to their active file.

In the meantime, Elizabeth says they are “so nervous, so stressed,” and “wish to stay here forever if we can.”

Source: Read Full Article

Opinion | Brazil’s Lethal Environmental Negligence

After the catastrophic rupture of a mine-tailings dam in Brazil last week, leaving behind at least 110 dead, 238 missing and an environmental disaster of epic proportions, the police were quick to arrest five people who had been responsible for inspecting the dam and who most recently proclaimed it “stable.” Certainly they had erred, and courts will decide whether they did so criminally. But rounding up the usual suspects does not begin to address responsibility for a disaster of this scale and a danger many mining communities face around the world.

Tailings are the wet waste from mining operations, often laced with toxic chemicals. At thousands of mines around the world, millions of tons of the muck accumulate behind dams. The most common type of dam — and the cheapest to build — is known as “upstream,” made by piling up thick sludge and raising the height of the dam as the pond grows. At the mine where the accident occurred in southeastern Brazil, owned by the giant mining company Vale, the dam was 28 stories high.

The danger posed by tailings dams is well known. Three years ago another upstream dam in the same Brazilian state, Minas Gerais, and co-owned by Vale and Australia’s BHP Group, collapsed, killing 19 people. The muck from that mine flowed 400 miles to the Atlantic Ocean. Other dams have collapsed in many countries around the world, and while the overall number of failures each year has been declining, the occurrence of major collapses has increased. According to the database World Mine Tailings Failures, there were 46 “serious” or “very serious” collapses — such as those in Brazil — between 1998 and 2017.

One reason is increased rainfall because of climate change, which can erode a dam wall years after the tailings pool is no longer in use. One study found that heavy rain was cited as a contributor to a quarter of global dam failures. Given that there are thousands of tailings dams around the world, and that mining companies generate ever more waste — they produced 8.5 billion metric tons in 2017, more than double the amount in 2000, according to an Australian researcher — the dams pose a danger that arresting a few workers won’t address.

The cost of failures is high, as Vale is learning. Shares in the company plunged 24 percent on the Monday after the Friday accident, and Vale is likely to face billions of dollars in penalties. That cost alone should propel Vale and the rest of the mining industry to take an immediate look at the way that they dispose of mining sludge and to inspect their dams. A joint report in November 2017 by the United Nations Environment Program and the Norwegian foundation GRID-Arendal found that in most failures, there had been ample advance warning signs. “The tragedy is that the warning signs were either ignored or not recognized by under-resourced management,” the report said.

After the 2015 accident in the state of Minas Gerais, state and federal investigators urged hiring more dam inspectors. But the federal government slashed budgets, in effect leaving Vale and other companies to do their own monitoring. It’s far from certain that the government will do better this time: Brazil’s new right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro, has already hobbled environmental regulators, and his infrastructure minister has warned against the “demonization” of Vale.

Vale, by contrast, has been quick to pledge changes. Fabio Schvartsman, its chief executive, said Tuesday that the company had decided to stop operations at mines where another 10 upstream dams were still in use until all were fully decommissioned, a process likely to take one to three years. The dam that burst last week had been out of use for two and a half years, he said, and was in the process of being decommissioned.

The global mining industry should take heed. It is clear that the industry needs to take a close look at upstream dams, to establish strict international standards for the way they are built and inspected and to study alternative ways to dispose of their wastes.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.




Source: Read Full Article

Rare half-male, half-female cardinal spotted in Pennsylvania

A rare half-male, half-female cardinal was spotted in Erie, Pa., according to National Geographic.

The bird showed up 10 yards from the home of Jeffrey and Shirley Caldwell, who regularly feed birds.

They were able to take a few snapshots of the bird, which had half of its body in the red typical of male cardinals, while the other half was a taupe colour unique to female cardinals, split right down the middle.

The bird is in fact both genders, the magazine reported, due to a phenomenon known as bilateral gynandromorph, which can occur in all species of birds.

Female birds typically have a Z and a W sex chromosome, while males have two Z chromosomes.

Gynandromorphy happens when a female egg is split into two nuclei, one with a Z chromosome and another with a W, which are then double-fertilized with two Z-carrying sperm.

The bird then grows half of its body with ZW chromosomes and the other half with ZZ chromosomes.

This process can happen with insects and crustaceans, in addition to birds.

Source: Read Full Article

Fake news goes nuclear as IAEA warns against meddling with Iran

VIENNA (BLOOMBERG) – A veteran CIA officer was discussing Iran’s future at an international security forum in Israel on Tuesday (Jan 29) when the moderator cut him off to cue up a breaking news bulletin on the giant monitor overhead.

Iran, Israel’s Channel 2 announced, had just abandoned its landmark nuclear deal with world powers and will start kicking out inspectors immediately.

Hushed confusion spread through the hall as participants among the few hundred – mostly current and former officials from countries including France, the US and Russia – pulled out their phones in search of confirmation and elaboration.

It took about 25 minutes for everyone to understand that it was fake news, which the panelists already knew.

Organisers of the Tel Aviv forum, which was co-sponsored by the US embassy and Lockheed Martin, said it was meant to be an entertaining thought exercise – the graphics and presenter were real, but he spoke in English, not Hebrew, which should have given the game away.

But nobody at the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, the body charged with verifying the Iranian accord, is laughing.

NOT IMPRESSED

Late on Wednesday, at a private reception for diplomats, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano lashed out at efforts to hamstring an organisation that’s been at the forefront of nuclear security for decades, according to two foreign officials who were there.

Without naming Israel and the US, the career Japanese diplomat made it clear those countries were the source of his ire, they said.

“The agency’s independence must not be undermined,” Mr Amano said, according to the IAEA’s website. “If attempts are made to micro-manage or put pressure on the agency in nuclear verification, that is counterproductive and extremely harmful.”

An IAEA official said on Saturday that the US wasn’t Mr Amano’s intended target. He declined to specify which countries prompted the rebuke.

Three years into an agreement that was meant to be a hallmark of the Obama administration, in which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief, IAEA inspectors say Teheran is in full compliance.

That hasn’t stopped the Trump administration from backing out of the agreement, piling on new penalties and trying to use the agency to turn the screws with help from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

President Donald Trump’s hardline stance on Iran has heightened tensions with the other signatories to the agreement: China, France, Germany, Russia and the UK.

It’s also sowed divisions between the White House and America’s spy agencies, with Mr Trump castigating his own intelligence officials this week for being “passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran”.

Mr Netanyahu went to the US Congress to lobby against the agreement before it was signed and has continued to criticise the deal since, arguing that it won’t prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons.

Last year, Mr Netanyahu called a press conference to announce Israeli agents had stolen scores of documents from a warehouse in Teheran that he claimed proved Iran lied about previous attempt to develop a bomb.

Iran has denied the allegation and resisted re-opening a 12-year IAEA investigation into its past activities.

UNFORTUNATE TIMING

The fake newscast in Israel came as Iran’s deputy foreign minister was in Vienna for talks with the IAEA, which is trying to keep the accord from unravelling.

Iran’s leadership has said the country was ready to re-start its enrichment programme using more advanced technology if the agreement fails.

The country is considering making the kind of nuclear fuel used in naval propulsion, implying it could enrich uranium closer to the levels needed for weapons.

Meanwhile, the European Union is moving to help countries evade the sanctions that the Trump administration imposed to stop countries from trading with Iran.

On Thursday, the 28-member bloc finalised a new financial mechanism for bypassing the US restrictions.

The special purpose vehicle, called the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges, will be headquartered in Paris and staffed with German leadership.

The vehicle will have a positive “impact on trade and economic relations with Iran, but most importantly on the lives of Iranian people”, a draft of the joint communique seen by Bloomberg says.

The US mission to the IAEA in Vienna said in an e-mailed response to questions that the watchdog “can continue to count on the full support of the United States” as it carries out its “important mandate in Iran”.

Source: Read Full Article

One killed, five wounded in attack in southeast Iran: state TV

DUBAI (Reuters) – One person was killed and five wounded in an attack on a paramilitary Basij base in southeastern Iran, state television reported on Saturday.

The report gave no further details about what it described as a “terrorist incident” in the city of Nik Shahr in Sistan-Baluchestan province, which has long been plagued by unrest from both drug smuggling gangs and Sunni Muslim militants.

Source: Read Full Article

3 European Nations Create Firm to Trade With Iran, but Will Anyone Use It?

BRUSSELS — Furious after President Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal and reimposed punitive banking sanctions last year, European leaders vowed to find a way to enable Tehran to keep doing business with the rest of the world.

After months of delay, and after enduring mockery from the Trump administration, three major European allies on Thursday finally introduced a financial mechanism to do just that.

The question now is whether anyone will actually use it.

The new company, called Instex, for Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges, would essentially allow goods to be bartered between Iranian companies and foreign ones without direct financial transactions or using the dollar. By avoiding the American banking system and currency, the hope is that European companies and others will feel confident that they can do business with Iran without being subject to the sanctions.

The European countries — Britain, France and Germany — were all signatories to the Iran deal in 2015, as was the United States under President Barack Obama. The Europeans, along with Russia and China, who were also signatories, have all vowed to keep to the terms of the agreement, which was intended to ensure that Iran could not build a nuclear weapon.

On Tuesday, leaders of the American intelligence agencies told Congress that Iran was in compliance with the deal, which only covers nuclear activities and not other issues like missile development or support for terrorist groups. That judgment apparently outraged President Trump, who said in a Twitter message that “Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!”

The European nations are not acting just to spite the Trump administration or as a favor to Tehran. They want to encourage Iran to keep in compliance with the deal primarily because they fear that the rapid pursuit of a nuclear weapon by an unrestrained Tehran could lead to a war between Iran on one side and Israel and the United States on the other. European officials say they are also troubled by the ready use by Washington of extraterritorial sanctions that affect European countries.

Their answer is Instex, which was registered in France on Thursday and is known technically as a special-purpose vehicle. It will be financed jointly by the three countries and run by a German banker. A formal announcement is expected later on Thursday in Bucharest, Romania, where European Union foreign ministers are meeting. It is unclear exactly when the company will become operational or whether other countries will join.

American officials have tried to dissuade the Europeans from setting up the company and at the same time mocked the idea, arguing that it would produce little trade.

The Trump administration says that by squeezing Iran they are not aiming to overthrow the government but are simply trying to force it into fresh negotiations on a broader range of issues. Those include ballistic missiles, Iranian forces fighting for the Syrian government, and support for groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, which Washington and the European Union accuse of sponsoring terrorism.

The Europeans also share many of Washington’s concerns about Iran’s actions and human rights record, but they say that those issues fall outside the scope of the nuclear deal. Still, the Europeans have been particularly angry about recent attacks or attempted attacks by Iran against groups in Europe that oppose the government in Tehran, and they have been talking to Iran about modifying its behavior.

This month, the European Union imposed its first sanctions on Iran since the nuclear deal in reaction to the plots and to missile testing. The bloc also added two Iranian individuals and an Iranian intelligence unit to its terrorist list.

In Bucharest on Thursday, Belgium’s foreign minister, Didier Reynders, said that it was “essential we show our American colleagues that we are going in the same direction as them on a series of issues such as ballistic missiles and Iran’s regional activities.”

Asked about the new barter company, Mr. Reynders said that “at the end of the day, it will be companies that decide whether or not they want to work in Iran, bearing in mind the risk of American sanctions.”

Instex was originally conceived as a way for Iran to barter gas and oil exports in return for European goods. But given that most large companies have significant business in the United States, very few — if any — are likely to use the trading mechanism for fear of incurring Washington’s wrath.

But the financial mechanism could make it easier for smaller companies with no exposure in the United States to trade with Iran and could promote trade in medicine and food, which are not subject to sanctions. European diplomats say that, in the beginning, the concentration will be on goods that are permitted by Washington, to avoid an early confrontation.

In an emailed response, Doug Davison, a sanctions expert at the law firm Linklaters, said there remained “two important open and interdependent questions: whether such a process will draw any users, and thus have the potential to be effective, and whether the U.S. will take steps in response.”

Washington’s reaction will be critical, Mr. Davison said. So far, “this administration has shown clearly that it takes the economic sanctions it placed on Iran very seriously, and is willing to back its policy up with action, including sanctioning noncompliant non-U.S. parties.”

He added, “U.S. government officials have said that parties either choose to do business with Iran or the U.S., but not both.”

Follow Steven Erlanger on Twitter: @StevenErlanger.

Source: Read Full Article