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Calls for ‘week of uprising’ after 22 killed in Sudan protests

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Sudanese protesters have called for a nationwide “week of uprising” to increase pressure on president Omar al-Bashir.

More than 800 journalists, activists, protesters and opposition leaders have been arrested since the unrest began, and 22 people, including two security guards, have been killed.

Security forces on Thursday fired tear gas to disperse protesters in the city of Omdurman, where Amnesty International said security forces had earlier opened fire on crowds and pursued injured demonstrators into a hospital.

“There must be an urgent investigation into this horrific attack, and all officers involved must be held accountable,” Amnesty International said in a statement.

The president said he spoke against people who wanted to destroy Sudan
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The president said he spoke against people who wanted to destroy Sudan

It comes after weeks of daily protests sparked by rising food prices and cash shortages, which have developed into opposition over the 30-year regime of the president.

Mr Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, spoke at a rally of supporters in response to the protests, telling his opponents to seek power through the ballot box.

After overthrowing an elected government in 1989 the former army general has since won elections, but opponents have say they were neither free nor fair.

“Those who tried to destroy Sudan… put conditions on us to solve our problems, I tell them that our dignity is more than the price of dollars,” the leader told thousands of loyalists in the capital, Khartoum, on Wednesday.

He was likely referring to a 1997 US trade embargo on Sudan, which was lifted in October of 2017.

Pro-government protesters also gathered in the square
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Pro-government protesters also gathered in Omdurman

While the protests were sparked by the tripling of the price of bread, activists are now calling for Mr Bashir to step down.

“After successful rallies on January 6 and 9, we are now calling for a rally on Friday in Atbara,” the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, one of the protest organisers, said in a statement.

“We also urge the Sudanese people to continue with their demonstrations in their residential areas.”

Sudan’s inflation rate spiked in the last year and shortages of gas and cash became a problem – especially when the government responded by placing caps on the amount of money people could withdraw from banks.

The crackdown on protests has been condemned by rights groups and drawn international criticism from Britain, Canada, Norway and the US.

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More than 50 children held hostage on bus in migrant death protest | World News

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A bus driver in Italy abducted more than 50 children, had their hands bound and set fire to the vehicle they were in to “protest” the deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean.

After police forced the bus to stop, officers broke the glass of the back door of the burning bus, allowing all 51 children and their chaperones to escape from the bus without any serious injuries.

The driver, an Italian citizen of Senegalese origin in his forties, said he was protesting over migrant deaths, commander Luca De Marchis told local media.

Local media named him as Ousseynou Sy and said he was being investigated on suspicion of kidnapping, intention to commit mass murder, arson and resisting law enforcement.

The bus driver is believed to have been protesting migrant deaths
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The bus driver said he was protesting migrant deaths

Mr De Marchis told Sky24 TV the driver had told his passengers “no-one would survive”.

Two school classes were on the bus in Cremona province, some 25 miles (40km) from Milan.

A student told local news the driver confiscated phones and ordered guardians on the bus to tie the students’ hands with cable ties – but that one pupil managed to hide their phone.

Authorities said that an adult called the emergency services and a student called parents who alerted authorities.

Roadblocks were set up and the bus was intercepted by police, who forced it into a guardrail on the outskirts of Milan.

The burned out bus
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The driver set fire to the bus when police arrived

As police began to get the hostages off the bus, the driver managed to set fire to the vehicle.

Mr De Marchis congratulated the officers’ “swiftness and courage” and thanked them for rescuing the hostages “with no tragic consequences”.

Some of the passengers were treated in hospital, mostly for cuts and scratches sustained while escaping the vehicle. The driver is being treated for burns and was detained.

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Fed sees no US interest rate rise this year as economy slows | Business News

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The US Federal Reserve has signalled there will be no interest rate hikes in 2019, citing a slowdown in economic growth.

The announcement by the country’s central bank marked a dramatic climbdown from its expectations at the end of 2018, when it had forecast two rate rises this year.

The Fed first admitted in January that its gradual path of rate increases was at risk as it noted “global economic and financial developments” – many related to the US trade war with China.

Following its latest two-day meeting, the bank’s federal open market committee said that while it was reiterating a “patient” approach and keeping its benchmark rate within its current range of 2.25% to 2.5%, it was acting now to hold down long-term interest rates and maintain demand for credit.

Jerome Powell is expected to replace Janet Yellen in February
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Fed chair Jay Powell said the US economy would feel the effects of slower growth abroad

The Fed said it would slow the unwinding of its crisis-era $1.1tn (£830bn) asset purchase programme from May.

The monthly reduction of its holdings of Treasury bonds would fall from up to $30bn (£22.7bn) a month currently to up to $15bn (£11.3bn), the statement said.

It added that it planned to end the balance sheet Treasury bond reductions in September, with redemptions of mortgage-backed securities then being reinvested in Treasury bonds.

The Fed’s pause in credit tightening is a result of slowdowns in both the US and wider global economies – which was evident to market observers as well as policymakers when the bank last raised rates in December.

The Fed said it was expecting economic growth of 2.1% in 2019 – down from earlier estimates of 2.3%.

The dollar weakened by up to 0.6% against a basket of international currencies, including the pound, after the announcement while US stock markets pared losses.

At a news conference, the Fed’s chair Jay Powell said the US economy would feel the effects of slower growth abroad, particularly in Europe.

He told reporters potential risks included Brexit and the effects of the US-China trade war, but insisted that the extra tariffs imposed by China on US goods were having only a limited impact domestically.

Commenting on the investor reaction Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions in Washington, told the Reuters news agency: “The Fed exceeded markets’ dovish expectations, which took a toll on the greenback.

“The Fed did a big about-face on policy. The fact that the Fed threw in the towel on a 2019 rate hike was particularly dovish.”

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Scientist uses satellite imagery to create video of enormous meteor explosion | Science & Tech News

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A scientist from the University of Oxford has used satellite data to create a video of an enormous explosion in the atmosphere which took place last year, but was only recently discovered.

The blast from the meteor was 10 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, and was first spotted by a US military satellite being referred to NASA.

Now, a team from the University of Oxford has created a video of the incident based on data captured by the Japanese meteorological agency’s Himawari satellites.

Dr Simon Proud of the Atmospheric Physics Department told Sky News: “We process the Himawari data ‘live’ as it comes in from the satellite and then archive all the resulting images and science data. So for this video I just had to go back into our archive and grab the right images.”

The Himawari satellite takes “one picture of the whole Earth every 10 minutes,” explained Dr Proud, who said: “The video is an zoomed-in animation of these 10 minute frames and covers around 4.5 hours in total.”

Running from roughly 11.30pm GMT on 18 December to 3.50am the next morning, the video shows the smoke trail from the meteor as it passes over the Bering Strait.

Meteor explosion
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The meteor exploded just 16 miles above the Earth. File image.

An atmospheric physicist at the University of Oxford and the UK’s National Centre for Earth Observation, Dr Proud researches how data from satellites can detect bad weather (thunderstorms and turbulence) as it happens.

This helps to make air travel safer and more efficient by alerting airlines to where this bad weather is, Dr Proud explained.

He added: “The same weather satellites can also see many other interesting phenomena, and it was exciting to see the trail made by the meteor in some of our satellite data, which is why I made the video.”

The blast from the meteor was the second-largest such explosion in the last century, just behind the meteor which exploded over the Russian region of Chelyabinsk in 2013.

It was just 25.6km (16 miles) above the planet’s surface and hurtling down at a steep angle of seven degrees when the friction of the atmosphere caused it to explode.

The explosion was detected by US military satellites last year, and subsequently referred to NASA.

According to NASA’s planetary defence officer Lindley Johnson, the fireball exploded near to a common flight route, and so researchers are asking airlines if they saw any signs of it.

The blast from the Bering Sea meteor was only 40% as powerful as the Chelyabinsk meteor strike in 2013, in which hundreds of people were injured.

It briefly outshone the sun and inflicted severe burns on observers below, as well as smashing windows and rattling buildings.

Dr Proud published a paper in 2013 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters about how his team reconstructed the orbit of the Chelyabinsk meteor using satellite observations.

It was the largest object to hit Earth since the Tunguska event of 1908, when an exploding body destroyed 2,000 square kilometres of Siberian forest.

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