Dhaka, Feb 3 (UNB) - British officials have revived cold war emergency plans to relocate the royal family should there be riots in London if Britain suffers a disruptive departure from the European Union, reports local media on Sunday newspapers.
“These emergency evacuation plans have been in existence since the cold war but have now been repurposed in the event of civil disorder following a no-deal Brexit,” the Sunday Times said, quoting an unnamed source from the government’s Cabinet Office, which handles sensitive administrative issues.
The Mail Online on Sunday also said it had learnt of plans to move the royal family, including Queen Elizabeth, to safe locations away from London.
In January an annual speech by the Queen, 92, to a women’s group was widely interpreted in Britain as a call for politicians to reach agreement over Brexit.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, a Conservative MP and keen supporter of Brexit, told the Mail on Sunday he believed the plans showed unnecessary panic by officials over a no-deal Brexit as senior royals had remained in London during bombing in the second World War.
But the Sunday Times said an ex-police officer formerly in charge of royal protection, Dai Davies, expected Queen Elizabeth would be moved out of London if there was unrest. “If there were problems in London, clearly you would remove the royal family away from those key sites,” Davies was quoted as saying.
Canberra, Feb 2 (Xinhua/UNB) -- South Australia (SA) has become the nation's first state to launch a multi-agency task force targeting methylamphetamine supply and distribution.
Led by SA Police and starting on Friday, the Joint Agency Ice Strike Team is a cooperative effort between the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Australian Border Force (ABF) Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), Australian Taxation Office (ATO), Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) and Department of Home Affairs.
The law enforcement agencies will focus on the international drug trade as well as local dealers to reduce illegal drug use.
Methylamphetamine, commonly known as ice, has become one of the most harmful illicit drugs in Australia, particularly in regional communities.
"When you look at the wastewater data, when you look at some of the seizures that have occurred in the last couple of years, you've got the clandestine labs that have been dismantled last year as well, this state is certainly one of the good places to start," AFP Commander Peter Sykora told reporters in Adelaide, the capital city of SA, on Friday.
"We know mostly who the people are, but in this process we will eventually identify others as well."
SA Police in October 2018 discovered an industrial-sized ice "super lab" capable of producing "hundreds of millions of dollars" worth of methylamphetamine in suburban Adelaide.
"We have made significant progress in reducing the supply of methylamphetamine to our community, from shutting down clandestine drug laboratories to dismantling local drug trafficking rings," SA Police Acting Deputy Commissioner Scott Duval said on Friday.
"While there is an insatiable demand for this illicit drug across South Australia, criminal networks will continue to use every means possible to import and manufacture the harmful substance and profit from our community."
Chicago, Feb 2 (AP/UNB) — The dangerous cold and heavy snow that hobbled the northern U.S. this week has retreated, but not before exacting a human toll: more than two dozen weather-related deaths in eight states and hundreds of injuries, including frostbite, broken bones, heart attacks and carbon monoxide poisoning.
In Illinois alone, hospitals reported more than 220 cases of frostbite and hypothermia since Tuesday, when the polar vortex moved in and overnight temperatures plunged to minus 30 (minus 34 Celsius) or lower — with wind chills of minus 50 (minus 45 Celsius) or worse in some areas.
Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis normally sees around 30 frostbite patients in an entire winter. It admitted 18 in the past week, spokeswoman Christine Hill said Friday.
"I definitely saw more frostbite than I've ever seen in my entire career just in the last three days," said Dr. Andrea Rowland-Fischer, an emergency department physician at Hennepin Healthcare.
Most of those patients, she said, had underlying problems that made it difficult for them to take care of themselves: the developmentally delayed, the mentally ill, the very young and the very old. They also included people with injuries related to drugs and alcohol — people who passed out or did not realize they were cold or injured.
"It's heartbreaking when there are people who can't take care of themselves and get exposed, just because they either escape from the care that they're being given or because they're not being supervised."
Others got frostbite on their way to work after being exposed to the cold for a short time, often on their hands, feet, ears and face. That included people whose cars would not start or who got stuck outside for other reasons, as well as those who just did not think they could get frostbitten so quickly and went outside without gloves or other protective gear.
Several required "maximal treatment," admission to the hospital's burn unit for therapies that include drugs to restore circulation to try to avoid amputations. Some of them will probably still require amputations, a decision usually made by burn doctors four to 10 days after the injury.
Many people decided to stay home even when they were sick to avoid slippery roads and subzero temperatures. In western Michigan, a health care system's online service saw a major spike this week.
More than 400 people over four days used Spectrum Health's MedNow to see a nurse practitioner or a physician's assistant about non-emergency issues, such as aches, rashes, cold and flu, said Joe Brennan, MedNow senior director. Most used an app on their phone. The usual four-day volume is 250.
"We had soreness-and-sickness calls from people who were shoveling 2 ½ feet of snow," Brennan said. "Instead of going to urgent care or an emergency department, they had an option to stay at home."
Another danger was from carbon monoxide. A family of nine in Wheeling, Illinois, about 30 miles northwest of Chicago, was taken to local hospitals after heating their home with a charcoal grill. In Rockford, Illinois, four people were treated because they had warmed up cars in a closed garage or because a furnace vent became blocked by ice and snow.
The snow that accompanied the cold also caused problems.
In Raymond, New Hampshire, the driver of a state Department of Transportation vehicle was struck in the head Thursday after ice and snow flew off a truck ahead and broke through the windshield. The driver was hospitalized with a laceration to the head and other possible injuries.
In just a two-day period, Tuesday and Wednesday, Mercyhealth in Rockford treated 15 people for broken bones from falling on the ice, 10 people who were in car crashes caused by snow and eight people who complained of chest pain or shortness of breath from shoveling snow, hospital officials said.
Rockford set a new record low of minus 31 degrees Thursday, but the hospital only treated two cases of frostbite, emergency physician Dr. John Pakiela said.
"It was Antarctica there for a few days ... but I think people listened to professional advice and heeded warnings," about staying indoors or bundling up, he said.
By Friday, the deep freeze had mostly abated, with temperatures climbing as high as the low 20s (minus 5 or 6 Celsius) in Minneapolis and Chicago. In western North Dakota, the temperature in Dickinson climbed above freezing (0 Celsius) by midmorning — a jump of nearly 60 degrees compared with Tuesday's low of minus 17 degrees (minus 27 Celsius).
The weather was thought to be a factor in at least 27 deaths, including a 90-year-old Michigan woman who died of hypothermia after locking herself out of her home while feeding birds — one of at least nine people who were found outdoors. A motorist also died during a snowstorm Friday after striking a salt truck that had pulled off the side of Interstate 70 in central Indiana. Others died after freezing outdoors or in unheated homes or while shoveling snow.
Cincinnati, Jan 30 (AP/UNB) — A medical helicopter crashed Tuesday in a remote wooded area on its way to pick up a patient, killing all three crew members, authorities said.
Survival Flight medical transportation reported around 7:20 a.m. Tuesday losing communication with a helicopter flying from the Mount Carmel Hospital in Grove City to pick up a patient from a hospital in Pomeroy, the Ohio State Highway Patrol said.
Authorities located wreckage nearly three hours later in rugged terrain near the community of Zaleski, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) southeast of Columbus.
The helicopter broke apart in a remote area connected only by logging trails, said Highway Patrol Lt. Robert Sellers. Other state and local authorities helped at the crash site in Vinton County.
All three crew members were from Ohio: pilot Jennifer Topper, 34, of Sunbury and flight nurses Bradley Haynes, 48, of London and Rachel Cunningham, 33, of Galloway.
"This is heartbreaking, especially when you have fellow first responders who are flying a mercy mission to help somebody else out," Sellers told reporters.
There had been no reports of anyone else injured in the crash, Sellers said.
The helicopter was a Bell 407, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Tony Molinaro said. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will have investigators at the scene, he said.
Andrew Arthurs, a Survival Flight vice president, said in a statement he was "deeply saddened" to share the news of "a heartbreaking event."
Michael Wilkins, president of Mount Carmel East, said in statement: "Our prayers are with the families of the crew members and Survival Flight team as we grieve this devastating loss."
London, Jan 30 (AP/UNB) — British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday won a few weeks to salvage a Brexit deal but headed toward a clash with the European Union by promising to overhaul the divorce agreement she spent a year and a half negotiating with the bloc.
Trying to break the U.K.'s Brexit deadlock, May got Parliament's backing for a bid to rework an Irish border guarantee in the withdrawal deal — a provision May and the EU both approved, and which the bloc insists cannot be changed.
"It is now clear that there is a route that can secure a substantial and sustainable majority in this House for leaving the EU with a deal," she said, promising to "obtain legally binding changes to the withdrawal agreement" from the EU.
The EU immediately ruled that out, insisting in a statement that the current deal with the U.K. remained the "best and only way" to achieve an orderly Brexit. French President Emmanuel Macron said the agreement "is the best accord possible. It is not re-negotiable." Guy Verhofstadt, the top Brexit official at the European Parliament, said there was "no majority to reopen or dilute" the deal.
It was the latest disorienting chapter in a Brexit process that has grown increasingly surreal since Parliament rejected May's divorce deal two weeks ago, leaving Britain lurching toward a cliff-edge no-deal" departure from the bloc on March 29.
A series of Commons votes Tuesday on next steps submitted by both pro-Brexit and pro-EU legislators ended up sending starkly mixed signals, as lawmakers backed a call to renegotiate the deal, and also approved a rival motion ruling out a no-deal exit.
May had urged lawmakers to "send an emphatic message" to the EU, but their response is likely to leave the bloc even more confused about British aims.
May believes her agreement can still win Parliament's backing if it is changed to alleviate concerns about the Irish border measure, known as the backstop. The backstop would keep the U.K. in a customs union with the EU in order to remove the need for checks along the border between the U.K.'s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland after Britain leaves the bloc.
The border is crucial to the divorce deal because it will be the only land frontier between the U.K. and the EU after Brexit, and because the free flow of people and goods underpins both the local economy and Northern Ireland's peace process.
Opposition to the backstop by pro-Brexit lawmakers — who fear it will trap Britain in regulatory lockstep with the EU — helped sink May's deal on Jan. 15, when Parliament rejected it in a 432 to 202 vote.
On Tuesday, Parliament backed, by 317 votes to 301 votes, a call for the border measure to be replaced by unspecified "alternative arrangements."
Leading Brexiteers praised the result. Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Parliament had sent a "clear, unambiguous" message that the backstop had to be removed.
"I hope that our friends in Brussels will listen and that they will make that change," he said.
But Green Party legislator Caroline Lucas, who wants a new referendum on Britain's EU membership accused May of chasing "heated-up fantasies that have already been rejected by the EU."
May acknowledged that the EU had "limited appetite" for changing the Brexit deal. But she vowed to go to Brussels and seek "significant and legally binding change" to the backstop. May's office said that might include an end date to ensure it is temporary or an exit clause for Britain. Both those ideas have been repeatedly rejected by the EU.
"There can be no change to the backstop," said Ireland's European Affairs Minister, Helen McEntee. "It was negotiated over 18 months with the U.K. and by the U.K."
Lawmakers voted on seven Brexit proposals Tuesday, including the border change supported by May and several measures that sought to rule out a "no-deal" Brexit.
Much of the business world says a no-deal Brexit would cause economic chaos by eliminating existing EU trade agreements and imposing tariffs, customs checks and other barriers between the U.K. and the EU, its main export market.
Most members of Parliament oppose leaving without a deal, but they rejected several proposals that tried to wrest control of the Brexit process from the government and give it to Parliament so lawmakers could stop Britain crashing out of the EU without a deal. Some opposition Labour Party members sided with the government, worried about being seen as obstructing Brexit.
Lawmakers approved, by a narrow 318 votes to 310 votes, a motion ruling out a "no-deal" Brexit but not saying how that should be achieved. The vote is not legally binding, but has political force as an expression of the will of Parliament.
Tuesday's ambiguous votes won't mark the end of Britain's turmoil over Brexit: There could be a rerun in two weeks. May said if she has not struck a new Brexit deal by Feb. 13, Parliament would get to vote, again, on what should happen next.
Robert Hazell, professor of government and the constitution at University College London, said the EU was "pretty resolute in not being willing to reopen the negotiations unless the British government can come back with something more specific."
"Tonight's votes only kick the can down the road for another two weeks," he said.