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South Korea Declares National Mourning After 151 Killed in Halloween Stampede

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At least 151 people were killed in a crush on Saturday night when a large crowd celebrating Halloween surged into an alley in the South Korean capital Seoul’s nightlife district, according to emergency officials. According to Choi Sung-beom, head of the Yongsan Fire Station, 65 people were injured in the melee in Seoul’s Itaewon district. Officials said that nineteen of the injured were in critical condition and were receiving emergency treatment, and that the death toll could rise.

On Sunday, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol declared a national mourning period and expressed condolences to the victims.

In a statement, he stated, “This is truly tragic.” “A tragedy and disaster that should not have happened occurred last night in the heart of Seoul.”

The nation had lifted COVID restrictions and social segregation, making it the first Halloween celebration in Seoul in three years. In addition to Halloween costumes, many partygoers wore masks.

As the evening wore on, some witnesses claimed that the crowd became more rowdy and agitated. The incident happened around 10:20 p.m. (1320 GMT).

We have a lot of casualties because several people fell during a Halloween festival, Choi said. Numerous victims were found close to a nightclub.

Choi stated that many of the victims were young women in their twenties.

Witnesses described chaotic scenes moments before the stampede, with police on hand in preparation for the Halloween event struggling to keep crowds under control.

Moon Ju-young, 21, said there were clear signs of trouble in the alleys prior to the incident.

It was “at least more than ten times more crowded than usual,” he claimed.

Hundreds of people were crammed into the narrow, sloping alley, immobile and crushed as emergency personnel and police attempted to free them.

All of the fatalities, according to Choi, the fire chief for the Yongsan district, were most likely caused by the crush in the only small alley.

Multiple people who appeared to be unconscious were being treated in a chaotic scene by firefighters and bystanders in another video.

People continued to pour into the narrow alley, which was already packed wall-to-wall, when those at the top of the sloped street fell, sending those below them toppling over others, according to fire officials and witnesses.

Unknown woman, claiming to be the mother of a survivor, claimed that her daughter and others were trapped in the alley for more than an hour before being rescued.

A nearby building reportedly housed a temporary morgue, according to a Reuters witness. The witness claims that four dozen bodies were later moved to a government facility where they would be identified while being transported on wheeled stretchers.

Young South Koreans and foreigners alike frequent the Itaewon neighborhood, which had seen a sharp decline in business over the previous three years due to the pandemic but was packed on Saturday for Halloween.

Park Jung-hoon, 21, told Reuters from the scene that while there were large crowds and fireworks during Christmas, this was many times larger.

The dead included two foreigners, and other victims were taken to nearby hospitals.

Curfews on bars and restaurants, as well as a limit of 10 people for private gatherings, were lifted in April as the COVID pandemic eased. In May, the requirement for outdoor masks was repealed.

Authorities said they were looking into the incident’s exact cause.

The disaster is one of the country’s deadliest since a ferry sinking in 2014 that killed 304 people, mostly high school students.

The Sewol’s sinking and the criticism of the government’s response shocked South Korea and caused widespread introspection about the nation’s safety regulations, which are likely to be updated in the wake of Saturday’s crash.

President Yoon presided over an emergency meeting with senior aides and directed the formation of a task force to secure resources to treat the injured and to launch a thorough investigation into the disaster’s cause.

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In a $200 million deal, Estonia will purchase American rocket artillery

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Estonia will purchase American rocket artillery

According to defense officials, Estonia, a NATO member and Russia’s neighbor, will increase its defense capabilities by investing in the most sophisticated rocket artillery system ever produced by the United States.

A contract for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System that was signed on Friday is worth more than USD 200 million.

According to a statement from the Estonian Center for Defense Investment, the package includes HIMARS rockets with a range of 70–300 km (43–186 miles). The initial deliveries are anticipated to be made by Lockheed Martin Corp. 

According to Lt. Col. Kaarel Mäesalu of the Estonian Defense Forces’ capability development division, the HIMARS multiple rocket launchers represent a significant new step in the development of Estonia’s defense capabilities. The enemy can now be decisively influenced even before coming into contact with our infantry units thanks to this, according to the author.

The Baltic neighbors of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, either already possess HIMARS or are in the process of doing so. During the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Washington has given Ukraine rocket launchers.

The Estonian Defense Ministry claims that the HIMARS systems have enabled the destruction of Russian military ammunition depots, transport nodes, and command and control centres with pinpoint accuracy that is beyond the capability of the howitzers Ukraine has been using.

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Alex Jones’ $1.5 billion bankruptcy filing Sandra Hook verdicts

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Alex Jones' $1.5 billion bankruptcy filing

Alex Jones, a conspiracy theorist, filed for bankruptcy on Friday after being forced to pay almost $1.5 billion for fabricating details of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting.

Jones requested Chapter 11 protection from creditors at the Houston bankruptcy court of the United States, according to a court record.

The declaration claims that Jones’ liabilities range from $1 billion to $10 billion and his assets range from $1 million to $10 million.

 Uncertainty surrounds Jones’ personal riches.

Jones has long maintained that the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, involved actors and led to the deaths of 20 students and six staff members and was part of a government plan to seize American firearms.

Although he has finally confessed to the incident, the plaintiffs claimed Jones made a fortune for years by lying about the massacre.

Chris Mattei, a lawyer for the Sandy Hook families, stated that this bankruptcy “will not work, like every previous shameful move Alex Jones has done.” The statement continued, “Alex Jones will be held accountable by the American legal system, and we won’t give up attempting to make the jury’s verdict stand.”

Jones had engaged in deliberate and outrageous attacks, according to Mattei, and the bankruptcy system would not shield him.

Jones’s lawyer did not respond to requests for comment right away.

A Connecticut jury determined in October that several families of Sandy victims should receive close to $1 billion in damages from Jones and Free Speech Systems, Infowars’ parent business.

Later, Jones was required to pay $473 million more in punitive penalties by the Connecticut court.

The families’ weeks-long emotional testimony throughout the trial, in which they described how Jones’s lies about Sandy Hook made their grief worse, served as a defining feature of the proceedings.

In July, a bankruptcy petition was filed by Free Speech Systems.

In a different Texas case, a jury determined in August that Jones must pay the parents of a 6-year-old boy murdered in the Sandy Hook shooting $45.2 million in punitive damages in addition to the compensatory damages of $4.1 million.

The Connecticut and Texas verdicts will be appealed, according to Jones’ attorneys.

Debts that the debtor caused “willfully or maliciously” cannot be discharged through bankruptcy.

According to Susan Block-Lieb, a professor of bankruptcy law at Fordham University School of Law, Jones’ lies seem to fit this criterion.

“Defamation is very obviously an intentional tort, and in Alex Jones’s instance, it is extremely clear,” said Block-Lieb.

Jones runs the prospect of having to reveal all of his assets in court as a result of the petition, according to bankruptcy attorney Sidney Scheinberg.

Sheinberg claims that because he filed for bankruptcy, his assets are now known to the general public. A federal offence is hiding assets while a bankruptcy is being processed.

Jones’ net worth in Texas is estimated to be between $135 million and $270 million, according to an economist.

The plaintiffs who obtained judgments against Jones are listed as his biggest unsecured creditors in the bankruptcy filing.

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This Winter, France Could Experience “some days” of Power Outages. Operating a Grid

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Government representatives from the region have been asked to make sure that patients receiving life-saving medical attention are informed three days in advance of any power outages so they can be moved to alternative facilities.

As the government informed local authorities on how to handle any potential outages, the president of French power grid operator RTE indicated on Thursday that France may see “several days”this winter, when a lack of electricity could cause blackouts.

Xavier Piechaczyk said on France Info radio that while there are hazards in the circumstances, power outages are not necessarily a given.

Piechaczyk adhered to the final supply forecast issued by the agency, which had warned of potential shortages in January.

As of December 1, we had 35 gigawatts of nuclear power available; our goal is to increase that to between 40 and 41 on January 1 and to roughly 43 by the end of the month, compared to a total capacity of 61.

The projection, according to Piechaczyk, was based on the EDF nuclear maintenance timetable, and some extra delays were already foreseen.

EDF’s network of nuclear reactors has experienced an unprecedented number of outages, bringing nuclear output to a 30-year low as Europe rushes to replace Russian gas supplies that Moscow shut off in response to sanctions the European Union imposed over its invasion of Ukraine.

According to RTE’s scenario, there is a chance that “some days this winter” may see Ecowatt, the nation’s electricity monitoring app, flash a red warning. It would be necessary to load customers partially off the power grid as a result.

Piechaczyk stated that the app has not yet been used by enough individuals.”Our app has been downloaded by around 300,000 people, and we have 470,000,000,000 SMS alert subscribers. We need to conduct more advertising because that is not enough, he remarked.

According to analysts cited by Reuters, the first power outages might start as early as Monday due to the chilly weather.

If we remain at 35 GW, Monday of the following week might become quite tight, warned Refinitiv analyst Nathalie Gerl. We forecast consumption at typically seasonal average levels, but 35 GW of nuclear power would not be enough to meet a fictitious peak demand of 73 GW.

We don’t anticipate a red alert until the end of 2022, said Frederic Lefort, head of business and administrative clients at Engie, one of the major power providers, during a Thursday event.

PARTIAL LOAD SHEDDING

According to Reuters, the French government has delivered legally binding guidelines outlining the proper way to prioritize electricity allocation to regional government authorities. Additionally, it exhorts them to consult with local businesses and authorities to ensure that all emergency power generators are operational.

The government stated in the instructions that any planned outages “should not affect more than 4 million people at the same time,” and that any local load-shedding procedures should not run longer than two hours and will be announced by RTE at 5 p.m. local time the day before.

According to the rules, critical locations like hospitals can be exempted, but schools should be closed on days when there aren’t enough supplies available.

Additionally, regional government representatives were requested to make sure that patients seeking life-saving medical attention had three days’ warning of potential power outages so they could be moved to alternative places.

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