US train riders held up phones as woman was raped, police say

Southern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority GM Leslie Richards speaks during a news conference on Oct. 18, 2021 following a brutal rape on the commuter as other riders watched. (Tom Gralish/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP) 
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Updated 19 October 2021

US train riders held up phones as woman was raped, police say

  • Police say the people who recorded the attack and failed to intervene could possibly be charged
  • Arrest records show Fiston Ngoy, 35, was charged with rape and related offenses

PHILADELPHIA: A man charged with raping a woman on a commuter train just outside of Philadelphia harassed her for more than 40 minutes while multiple people held up their phones to seemingly record the assault without intervening, authorities said.
More than two dozen train stops passed as the man harassed, groped and eventually raped the woman, the police chief for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority said at a news conference Monday.
Police do not believe a single witness on the train dialed 911. They are investigating whether some bystanders filmed the assault.
Both the man and woman got on the train at the same stop Wednesday night in North Philadelphia. Officers pulled the man off of the woman at the last stop. They responded within about three minutes of a 911 call from a transportation authority employee, authorities said.
“What we want is everyone to be angry and disgusted and to be resolute about making the system safer,” SEPTA Police Chief Thomas J. Nestel III said at the news conference.
Arrest records show Fiston Ngoy, 35, was charged with rape and related offenses.
The affidavit of arrest for Ngoy detailed times of the assault, including that during those 40 minutes the woman appears to repeatedly push Ngoy away.
Nestel would not give an approximate number of witnesses and it was unclear from the affidavit how many passengers were present for those 40 minutes. Authorities have not released the surveillance video.
“I can tell you that people were holding their phone up in the direction of this woman being attacked,” he said.
Elizabeth Jeglic, a psychology professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, researches sexual violence prevention. She said if people feel uncomfortable physically intervening, there are other options like calling the police.
“When we have multiple people, people don’t necessarily intervene,” she said. “However, more recent research actually suggests that looking at video footage of more extreme circumstances that up to 90 percent of cases we do see people intervening. So it was actually somewhat of an aberration in this case that somebody did not step forward to help this individual.”
Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt, of the Upper Darby Police Department, has said surveillance footage showed other riders were on the train and someone “should have done something.” Messages for Bernhardt were left Monday.
The New York Times reported that Bernhardt said that people who recorded the attack and failed to intervene could possibly be charged, but that would be up to the Delaware County District Attorney’s office to determine.
There were no calls made to 911 in Philadelphia. Nestel said police were still waiting for Delaware County 911, which covers the last two train stops, to determine if it received any calls.
Investigators said in the affidavit that Ngoy sat down next to the woman about a minute after he boarded the train car, shortly after 9:15 p.m. The video shows her pushing him away multiple times until he is seen ripping her pants down at about 9:52 p.m.
Bernhardt said officers arrived at the 69th Street terminal on the Market-Frankford Line, the busiest route on SEPTA, around 10 p.m.
A SEPTA employee who was in the vicinity as the train went past called police to report that “something wasn’t right” with a woman aboard the train, Bernhardt said.
SEPTA police waiting at the next stop found the woman and arrested Ngoy, who they had pulled off of the woman. She was taken to a hospital.
According to the court documents, the woman told police that Ngoy ignored her pleas to go away.
Ngoy claimed in his statement to police that he knew the victim, but couldn’t remember her name and said the encounter was consensual.
Ngoy, who listed his last address as a homeless shelter, remained in custody on $180,000 bail. His initial court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 25. Court records show he had not requested a public defender as of Monday.
SEPTA issued a statement calling it a “horrendous criminal act” and urged anyone witnessing such a thing to report it to authorities by calling 911, pressing an emergency button on every train car or using the authorities emergency safety app.
“There were other people on the train who witnessed this horrific act, and it may have been stopped sooner if a rider called 911,” the authority said.


Indian man builds one-third sized Taj Mahal replica for wife

Updated 01 December 2021

Indian man builds one-third sized Taj Mahal replica for wife

  • The imitation includes the real monument's large dome, intricate minarets and even some of its artwork
  • The replica took three years to build

NEW DELHI: An Indian man has built a one-third sized replica of the historic Taj Mahal for his wife, but unlike the original, it’s their residence, not a mausoleum.
Constructed with white marble from the same city in Rajasthan state that provided the Taj Mahal’s stone, the imitation includes the real monument’s large dome, intricate minarets and even some of its artwork.
The famed 17th century Taj Mahal, often called a monument to love, was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the northern Indian city of Agra in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz.
She died in Burhanpur, the site of the newly built replica, while giving birth to their fourteenth child.
Her body was temporarily buried in the city and later exhumed and taken to Agra, according to Anand Prakash Chouksey, 52, who built the replica.
“I jokingly told my wife, if you pass over, then I will build a Taj Mahal,” said Chouksey, 52, a hospital owner who lives in Burhanpur. “She obviously refused and said she doesn’t want to die. Then I said, not a problem, I will make a Taj Mahal you can live in.”
The replica took three years to build and artisans from Agra were hired to recreate the artwork on the marble.
Emperor Shah Jahan had the Taj Mahal built between 1632 and 1654 after Mumtaz died. The complex houses both of their graves and a mosque, as well as several graves of lesser Mogul royalty.
The monument, acclaimed for its delicate lattice work, is India’s biggest tourist draw, attracting millions of visitors every year. The tourists keep hundreds of thousands employed and Agra’s economy moving.


French Guianese team travel 7,000km to lose 14-0

Updated 28 November 2021

French Guianese team travel 7,000km to lose 14-0

  • C.S.C. de Cayenne were only trailing 1-0 when they were reduced to 10 men in the 43rd minute before collapsing in the second half
  • Saint-Denis made the most of their trek from the island of Reunion, beating Canet Rousillon on penalties to reach the last 64

PARIS: C.S.C. de Cayenne traveled over 7,000 kilometers from the capital of French Guiana for their French Cup eighth-round tie against Paris FC on Saturday, but lost 14-0.
The visitors were only trailing 1-0 when they were reduced to 10 men in the 43rd minute before collapsing in the second half, conceding 12 goals after the break.
Cayenne will make the return trip across the Atlantic Ocean after seeing their cup run end in remarkable fashion.
Moustapha Name, Lamine Diaby Fadiga and Morgan Guilavogui, the brother of former France midfielder Josuha, all scored hat-tricks for second-tier side Paris FC.
Elsewhere, though, Saint-Denis made the most of their trek from the island of Reunion, beating Canet Rousillon on penalties to reach the last 64, where the 20 Ligue 1 teams enter the draw.


Activists block Amazon warehouses in Europe on Black Friday

Updated 27 November 2021

Activists block Amazon warehouses in Europe on Black Friday

  • Members of Extinction Rebellion targeted 13 Amazon fulfilment centers in the UK with the aim of disrupting 50% of the company's deliveries on Black Friday
  • They staged similar protests in Germany and the Netherlands

DUBAI: Climate activists blockaded Amazon warehouses in three European countries on Friday.
This was part of a global effort to pressure the ecommerce giant on one of its busiest days of the year to improve working conditions and end business practices that hurt the environment.
Members of Extinction Rebellion targeted 13 Amazon fulfilment centers in the United Kingdom with the aim of disrupting 50 percent of the company’s deliveries on Black Friday, which marks the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season. They staged similar protests in Germany and the Netherlands.
“The action is intended to draw attention to Amazon’s exploitative and environmentally destructive business practices, disregard for workers’ rights in the name of company profits, as well as the wastefulness of Black Friday,” the group said. It vowed to remain at the scene
At least 30 people were arrested at multiple UK locations, with some held on suspicion of aggravated trespass or public nuisance, police forces said.
Extinction Rebellion and dozens of other activist groups in the US and around the world are organizing a day of global protests and strikes on Friday against Amazon to demand the company provide better working conditions, commit to operating sustainably, and pay its fair share of tax.
In the US, labor activists planned a small protest at Amazon’s fulfilment center on Staten Island, New York.
Activists in the UK blocked the entrance to Amazon’s warehouse in Tilbury, just east of London, with an effigy of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos sitting on top of a rocket.
At Amazon’s distribution center in Dunfermline, Scotland, about 20 Extinction Rebellion members strung banners across the entrance road that said “Make Amazon Pay” and locked themselves together, stopping trucks from entering and some from leaving.
Amazon did not directly address the protests in response to a request for comment, but said the company takes its responsibilities “very seriously.”
“That includes our commitment to be net zero carbon by 2040 — 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement — providing excellent pay and benefits in a safe and modern work environment, and supporting the tens of thousands of British small businesses who sell on our store,” the company said.
Extinction Rebellion activists also blocked an Amazon logistics center in the central German town of Bad Hersfeld by erecting a makeshift bamboo scaffold that they used to suspend themselves in the air. Authorities later removed them with the help of a fire department ladder truck, according to video posted on the group’s German Facebook page.
The group staged a similar protest at an Amazon facility at Amsterdam’s Schipol airport.

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Egypt revives ancient road connecting Luxor and Karnak

Updated 26 November 2021

Egypt revives ancient road connecting Luxor and Karnak

  • The procession to reopen the 2.7 km road included a reenactment of the ancient Opet festival
  • Pharaonic chariots and more than 400 young performers dressed in pharaonic costumes paraded along the avenue

LUXOR, Egypt: A restored road connecting two ancient Egyptian temple complexes in Karnak and Luxor was unveiled on Thursday in a lavish ceremony aimed at raising the profile of one of Egypt’s top tourist spots.
The procession to reopen the 2.7 km (1.7 mile) road included a reenactment of the ancient Opet festival, where statues of Theban deities were paraded annually during the New Kingdom era in celebration of fertility and the flooding of the Nile.
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi marched along the road at the start of the ceremony. Pharaonic chariots and more than 400 young performers dressed in pharaonic costumes paraded along the avenue.
The 3,400-year-old road linking the ancient centers of Karnak and Luxor, also known as Road of the Rams or the Avenue of the Sphinxes, is lined with hundreds of ram- and human-headed sphinxes, though over the years many have been eroded or destroyed.
The road has undergone several restoration efforts since being discovered in 1949, and the latest began in 2017.
Tourism is a crucial source of jobs and hard currency for Egypt, which has made a concerted effort to lure back the travelers kept away by the coronavirus pandemic.
In April, 22 ancient royal mummies from Luxor and the nearby Valley of the Kings were borne in procession Egyptian mummies paraded from Cairo’s Egyptian Museum to the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization.
Egypt’s tourism revenues plunged to about $4 billion in 2020, down from $13 billion in 2019.

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Bryan Adams tests positive for COVID in Italy

Updated 25 November 2021

Bryan Adams tests positive for COVID in Italy

  • The Canadian rock ‘n roller disclosed the positive test in an Instagram post
  • “I’ve tested positive for the second time in a month for COVID,’’ Adams said in the post

MILAN: Bryan Adams tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival at Milan’s Malpensa Airport on Thursday, ahead of the unveiling of the 2022 Pirelli calendar that he photographed.
The Canadian rock ‘n roller disclosed the positive test in an Instagram post that included a photograph of him in a room after being tested and then sitting in an ambulance, being taken for a more reliable PCR test. He was seated normally, wearing a surgical mask.
“Here I am, just arrived in Milano, and I’ve tested positive for the second time in a month for COVID,’’ Adams said in the post. “So it’s off to the hospital for me.” He thanked fans for his support.
Adams, who also enjoys a career as a photographer, has shot the 2022 Pirelli calendar, after initially being engaged to shoot the 2021 version that was canceled due to the pandemic. Adams was expected to appear at in-person press events promoting the calendar Sunday and Monday, but that was now uncertain.
Normally the unveiling of the Pirelli calendar is a gala event attended by those who appear and other VIPS, but this year was already a scaled-back affair due to the ongoing pandemic, with a tight guest list for an evening cocktail.
Adams chose as his subjects for the calendar called “On the road,” other musical talents, including Iggy Pop, Cher, Jennifer Hudson, Saweetie and St. Vincent.