U.S. frees 2 Pakistani brothers held without charges at Guantanamo Bay for nearly 20 years
U.S. officials returned two Pakistani brothers to their home country Thursday after holding them without charges at the Guantanamo Bay military prison for almost two decades.
Abdul and Mohammed Rabbani were the latest detainees to be released from U.S. custody as the U.S. moves toward emptying and shutting down the prison. The George W. Bush administration set it up at a naval base in Cuba for extremist suspects rounded up after the Sept. 11, 2001 al Qaeda attacks on the United States.
The brothers will be reunited with their families after formal questioning by Pakistani authorities, according to security officials and a Pakistani senator.
Pakistani Sen. Mushtaq Ahmed Khan, the chairman of the human rights committee in the upper house of Pakistan’s Parliament, tweeted Friday that the two brothers had reached the airport in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.
He said the men were “innocently imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay for 21 years. There was no trial, no court proceedings, no charges against them. Congratulations on their release. Thank you Senate of Pakistan,” he wrote on Twitter.
Khan later told The Associated Press that the brothers were being sent to Karachi, the capital of southern Sindh province, where they lived with their families. He said he hoped the men will be reunited with their families soon.
The two brothers were originally transferred to U.S. custody after Pakistani officials arrested them in their home city of Karachi in 2002. They were sent to Guantanamo Bay in 2004.
U.S. officials accused them of helping al Qaeda members with housing and other lower-level logistical support.
The brothers alleged that they were tortured while in CIA custody before being transferred to Guantanamo. U.S. military records describe the two as providing little intelligence of value or recanting statements made during interrogations on the grounds they were obtained by physical abuse.
The U.S. military announced their repatriation in a statement. It gave no immediate information on any conditions set by Pakistan regarding their return there.
“The United States appreciates the willingness of the Government of Pakistan and other partners to support ongoing U.S. efforts focused on responsibly reducing the detainee population and ultimately closing the Guantanamo Bay facility,” the Defense Department said.
Guantanamo at its peak in 2003 held about 600 people whom the U.S. considered terrorists. Supporters of using the detention facility for such figures contend it prevented attacks. Critics say the military detention and courts subverted human rights and constitutional rights and undermined the United States’ standing abroad.
Thirty-two detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay, including 18 eligible for transfer if stable third-party countries can be found to take them, the Pentagon said. Many are from Yemen, a country considered too plagued with war and extremist groups and too devoid of services for freed Yemeni detainees to be sent there.
Nine of the detainees are defendants in slow-moving military-run tribunals. Two others have been convicted.
Two Killed in Stampede After Rochester Concert
Two women were killed when attendees of a GloRilla concert in Rochester, New York, rushed for the exits following the show Sunday night, police said.
One woman, 33-year-old Rhondesia Belton, was pronounced dead at a local hospital, police said early Monday morning. The second victim, identified only as a 35-year-old woman, died from her injuries later Monday.
Another 35-year-old woman remained in critical condition Monday night, police said.
Police initially said officers had responded to a report of gunfire at the Main Street Armory shortly after the concert ended around 11 p.m. and that “the injuries appear to be as a result of a large crowd pushing towards the exits following accounts of individuals hearing what they believed to be gunshots.
Later Monday morning, however, the Rochester Police Department said that “there are some reports that shots were heard, causing the crowd to panic, but that has not been confirmed.”
Police said they are still investigating the possible cause of the crowd surge, “including crowd size, shots fired, pepper spray, and more.”
Seven more people were brought in private vehicles to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries, police said.
Alec Richardson, of CBS Rochester affiliate WROC-TV tweeted that he “saw a firefighter performing CPR, presumably on a victim on scene.
About an hour after the incident, GloRilla, a Grammy-nominated rapper from Memphis, tweeted that she’d just heard what happened and that she was “praying everybody is ok.”
After learning of the second death, she tweeted that she was “devastated & heartbroken over the tragic deaths that happened after Sunday’s show. My fans mean the world to me praying for their families & for a speedy recovery of everyone affected.”
Mayor Malik Evans called the fatal stampede “totally unacceptable” and promised a thorough investigation into whether venue operators had the necessary safety measures in place for a large crowd.
“We are going to hold people accountable for what happened last night, period,” Evans said, though he cautioned that it was too early in the investigation to assign blame. “I intend to get to the bottom of this.
The armory hosted sporting events throughout the 20th century before being shut down for several years starting in the late 1990s, partly because it lacked a fire suppression system at the time.
It reopened after extensive renovations and began hosting concerts and other events in 2005. Smith said its main arena is meant to have a capacity of about 5,000 people, and the city fire marshal will work with police to determine whether that capacity was exceeded Sunday.
City officials said the facility underwent a physical fire safety inspection in December and was compliant with fire codes.
The venue’s next scheduled show, a Saturday performance by the rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, has been canceled.
“If you go to a concert, you do not expect to be trampled,” Evans said. “Your loved ones expect you to be able to come home and talk about the experience that you had at that great concert.
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Picks Up $9.5 Million Georgia Farm
The sprawling equestrian estate has an eight-bedroom mansion and a 150-year-old caretaker’s cottage.
The Rock has rolled to the Georgia countryside.
An entity tied to actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has snapped up a historic 46-acre estate outside of Atlanta.
A Georgia-based company linked to Mr. Johnson’s business managers in Los Angeles purchased the equestrian home in the bucolic small town of Powder Springs for roughly $9.5 million, according to public property records. Mr. Johnson, 47, a former professional wrestler who has since built a career as an actor and producer, could not be reached for comment.
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At the center of the sprawling, multi-parcel property is a 14,000-square-foot megamansion with eight bedrooms—plenty of space for Mr. Johnson’s family of five.
The main house was built in 2002 and features stone fireplaces, a custom wine cellar and a backyard with a freeform, salt-water pool and cabana, according to the listing with agent Jeff DeJarnett of Harry Norman Realtors. Mr. DeJarnett declined to comment on the sale.
The elegant home draws on French country inspiration, including partial brick and stone cladding on the exterior, large casement windows and rustic interiors with exposed wood and stone throughout, images show. Amenities also include a cozy, wood-paneled library with stained glass.
The Johnsons also get a fully outfitted horse farm with a 12-stall barn and riding arena with a viewing deck. Among its oldest charms is an original 150-year-old farm house, which now serves as a caretaker’s cottage, according to the listing.
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The sale comes a few months after the “Fast and the Furious” star married his longtime girlfriend, Lauren Hashian, in Hawaii.
The deal also comes on the heels of an announcement in September that Mr. Johnson and Dany Garcia, his business partner and ex-wife, plan to host an inaugural fitness conference, called Atheticon, in Atlanta in October 2020.
These Are The Most Dangerous Airports Ever Built
Traveling can be stressful, no matter who you are. Whether you’re traveling for leisure, work, or anything else, there are a ton of different tasks you have to accomplish before you can take flight. Most of these tasks, from packing your suitcases to managing connecting flights, are exhaustive.
But consider this, sometimes the airport itself is challenging, especially for those who work there. Even the most experienced pilots have run into problems trying to take off the runway from the airports on this list. This list details the most alarming airports in the world, with dangers ranging from dangerously too-short runways to major construction fails.
1. Courchevel Airport – France
Year of construction: 1962
Risk factors: Location of runway
This airport, located in the middle of the French Alps, is used to access the Courchevel ski resort. It is located 6,588 feet above sea level, and its runway measures just 1,761 feet. This short runway prevents pilots from last-minute, necessary maneuvering.
Furthermore, Courchevel airport has no lighting, which makes landing considerably difficult on foggy, rainy, or snowy days. To make matters worse, it is built between the snowy mountains, which causes a problem for planes trying to approach and descend.
2. Barra International Airport – Scotland
Year of construction: 1936
Risk factors: Track on the beach
This airport, which is located north of the island of Barra, is the only one in the world where takeoffs and landings take place on the beach. This, first of all, means that all air operations are easily affected by the tide.
The beach that serves as the airstrip is open to the public, so people should check if the airport is in operation before visiting. The beach at this airport is also often visited by seals, and the airport staff frequently have to escort the seals back to the sea to avoid accidents.
3. Princess Juliana International Airport – Saint Martin
Year of construction: 1942
Risk factors: Closeness of airplanes
This busy airport has a strange feature, where its planes fly barely 82 feet above the beach. In fact, the aircraft passes so close to the ground that the local government has warned tourists to stay at a safe distance during take-off and landing.
This is due to the possibility of a too-close sightseer being thrown into the sea or sucked into a turbine. During its years of operation, this airport has been the site of four accidents that have had devastating consequences.
4. Male International Airport – Maldives
Year of construction: 1960
Risk factors: Runway size
The Maldives Islands airport is located on the island of Hulhule. Its main problem is the size of its runway, which is so small that it occupies the entire length of the island. Any miscalculation can easily lead the plane to the sea.
Another unusual feature of this busy airport is that, once its planes manage to land, passengers usually have to take speedboats to get to where they are going in the Maldives. Otherwise, they’ll be stuck waiting for hours.
5. Kai Tak Airport – Hong Kong
Year of construction: 1925
Risk factors: Surrounded by buildings
Landing at Kai Tak Airport was challenging even for skilled pilots. The airport was surrounded by tall buildings, and airplanes passed so close to the buildings that passengers felt they could peek into the offices. To make matters worse, the track was built on the sea, and it was far too narrow and short.
It is not difficult to imagine why passengers referred to this airport as “Heart Attack Airport.” Kai Tak was the site of no less than fifteen accidents before it was shut down in 1998 because of how dangerous it was.
6. Cristiano Ronaldo Airport – Madeira, Portugal
Year of construction: 1973
Risk factors: Track built on the sea
Some describe Cristiano Ronaldo Airport as an engineering marvel. For others, it is a danger. The island of Madeira is so small that the runway of his airport had to be expanded over the sea. For this expansion, 180 pillars were built that hold the track over the water.
The strong winds on the island, as well as the narrow airstrip, make the maneuvers that the pilots carry out very complex. In fact, all those in charge of taking off or landing a plane on the island of Madeira must receive special training.
7. Congonhas Airport – São Paulo, Brazil
Year of construction: 1936
Risk factors: Closeness of the airplanes
The main problem with the Congonhas airport is that, being as it’s located in a residential area in the center of São Paulo, it is surrounded by buildings. This causes pilots to have to be particularly careful when maneuvering during takeoff and landing.
As if that were not enough, its track is considered one of the slipperiest in existence, due to the inefficient drainage systems in the area. Unfortunately, this airport has seen several accidents. One of them occurred in 2007, and it caused the authorities to decide to expan
8. Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport – Saba Island
Year of construction: 1963
Risk factors: Shortest runway in the world
This airport is known as the most dangerous in existence, since it has the shortest runway in the world. It’s just 1,300 feet! In addition to the fact that its length makes takeoff and landing very difficult, the airport is located on the edge of a cliff.
This means that any mistake in the calculations could easily lead an aircraft into the sea or onto the rocks below the cliff. For this reason, jets cannot take off or land at this airport. Propeller planes, on the other hand, can make use of the facilities without major problems.
9. Gibraltar Airport – United Kingdom
Year of construction: 1939
Risk factors: Track intersects the road
Gibraltar Airport is considered the most dangerous in Europe after Madeira. The reason? It is the only one in the world whose runway meets the road, and at the same level! This is because the airport made maximum use of its minimal space.
So, when a plane is close, highway traffic stops to give way to the aircraft. This means that any traffic accident could affect the takeoff or landing of the planes. At this airport, what was saved in space is lost in security.
10. Gustaf III Airport – San Bartolomé
Year of construction: 1984
Risk factors: Short runway, near the beach
This airport’s strange feature is that it only provides its services from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. In addition, it can only be used by small airplanes of no more than 20 passengers, since its location would considerably complicate the take-off and landing of larger aircrafts.
The track, only 2,133 feet long, is located between a hill and a beach. This means that pilots must be very careful when they maneuver. And, tourists on the beach should also be careful; there are even signs that warn them not to sunbathe near the base of the track.
11. Scíathos International Airport – Greece
Year of construction: 1972
Risk factors: Location, short runway
Skiathos Airport in Greece has the shortest runway in Europe. In addition, the uneven terrain of the island means that the airport was built over the sea. In fact, the airstrip links the island of Skiathos with that of Lazareta.
This airport does not accept all types of airplanes, since the largest planes need more space to take off and land. Another quirk of this airport is how close it is to the highway. Many motorists can easily see planes taking off at a short (and somewhat terrifying) distance.
12. Toncontin International Airport – Honduras
Year of construction: 1921
Risk factors: Closeness to the mountains and road
Toncontin Airport is so dangerous that commercial airline pilots who operate there have to undergo special training for takeoffs and landings. The main risk involved is that Toncontin’s track, in addition to being very short, is too close to the mountains and the road.
Sadly, there have been at least ten serious accidents at Toncontin. The best known of them, which happened in 2008, occurred when a plane failed to stop after landing. The aircraft went off the runway and fell onto the road, colliding with several cars.
13. Paro International Airport – Bhutan
Year of construction: 1968
Risk factors: Closeness to the mountain, weather conditions
Paro International Airport is so dangerous that there are fewer than 24 pilots who are trained and authorized to use it. This airport only operates from sunrise to sunset, and its main danger is that it is surrounded by the Himalayan Mountains.
In addition, due to the weather conditions of the area, the runway (which is very short, by the way), is only visible to the pilots moments before they land on the ground. Before landing, pilots also have to watch out for the utility poles and houses that surround the landing zone.
14. Tenzing-Hillary Airport – Nepal
Year of construction: 1964
Risk factors: Altitude
This small airport is popular because it is located at the same place where the vast majority of people begin their ascent to Everest Base Camp. Very often, fog, winds, and poor visibility end up delaying flights or even causing the airport to close for the day.
One of the main risks posed by this airport is that it is surrounded by mountains, and the altitude at which the airport is located is so high that aircraft engines sometimes have difficulty obtaining the oxygen they need during take-off acceleration.
15. Gisborne Airport – New Zealand
Year of construction: 1960
Risk factors: Track intersects with train tracks
The operations carried out at this airport look like something out of an action movie, as the main runway crosses the tracks of a working train. This means that all takeoffs and landings must be carefully coordinated with train schedules.
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