More Than 100 Dead in Paris Terror Attacks

Terrorists staged multiple simultaneous attacks Friday night in Paris, killing scores of people with automatic gunfire and explosions. At least 100 people died at a single location after gunman attacked a Paris music hall and held scores of people hostage before police stormed the building, ending the standoff.

Police patrol near Notre Dame Cathedral following a series of deadly attacks in Paris, Nov. 14, 2015.

Police patrol near Notre Dame Cathedral following a series of deadly attacks in Paris, Nov. 14, 2015.

Two attackers were among the dead. Up to a thousand people were in the audience at the Bataclan concert hall where a performance by an American band was interrupted by rapid-fire bursts from Kalashnikov automatic rifles. Many people escaped during the shootout.

President Francois Hollande said he was declaring a state of emergency and ordering France’s borders closed — an unprecedented act in 21st-century Europe. In Washington, President Barack Obama said the United States was ready to help in any way possible.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks.

A witness inside the hall said the attackers fired into the crowd repeatedly, pausing only to reload their weapons three times. He was near an exit and managed to escape during one of those pauses.

Scores of fatalities were also reported at other parts of Paris. One of the first explosions was just outside a sports stadium where President Hollande and a large crowd were watching a football (soccer) match between the French and German national teams.

The blast was felt inside the stadium. Several other explosions took place in that area and officials say at least one may have been a suicide bombing.

Police evacuated Hollande from the stadium, but when play was stopped many people in the crowd ran onto the pitch and huddled in fear.

Restaurants and bars in a crowded central area of the French capital, near Place de la Republique, also were targeted by the attackers, who opened fire on crowds.

Hollande called an emergency Cabinet meeting at midnight after he issued his order to close all border crossings. He also canceled his trip to the G-20 meeting in Turkey scheduled to begin on Sunday.

At the White House, Obama said the coordinated attacks in Paris were an “outrageous attempt to terrorize civilians.”

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron said on Twitter, “We will do whatever we can do to help.” He said he was shocked by the events in Paris and his thoughts and prayers are with the French people.

At the United Nations, a spokesman said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “condemns the despicable terrorist attacks” and “demands the immediate release of the numerous individuals reportedly being held hostage in the Bataclan theater.”

Rescue workers and medics work by victims in a Paris restaurant, Nov. 13, 2015.

Rescue workers and medics work by victims in a Paris restaurant, Nov. 13, 2015.

U.S. officials said the embassy in France has been checking on the safety of all Americans in Paris. However, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said in the U.S. capital that there was “no specific or credible threat to the United States.”

Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, told VOA the Paris attacks “all look like they were coordinated to have maximum impact, and to send a message.”

“It demonstrates that there are a lot of vulnerabilities in open societies that can be exploited by whatever terrorist groups are carrying out these actions,” Katulis said.

Friday’s spectacular assault evoked memories of an attack by Islamist gunmen in January that killed 17 people.

Paris is due to host a major international conference next month — U.N.-sponsored meetings on the global effort to control global warming.

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WHO sending in more medical supplies and assisting the arrival of foreign medical team support for earthquake-ravaged Nepal

NEW DELHI ¦ GENEVA ¦ 27 APRIL 2015 – WHO is surging additional medical supplies and health workers into the earthquake-affected region to help the Government of Nepal provide rapid medical assistance to the thousands who have been injured in Saturday’s disaster.

“WHO has deployed eight more emergency health kits containing essential medicines, disposables and instruments to cover the health needs of 80 000 people for the next 3 months,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region. “An additional 5 emergency health kits are being flown in along with surgical kits and trauma bags to meet the immediate health needs. There is an urgent need to replenish medical stocks to support the emergency response efforts.”

In addition, WHO is working in collaboration with Nepal’s Ministry of Health to coordinate the arrival and deployment of the medical teams coming from other countries and nongovernmental organizations, commonly called foreign medical teams (FMTs). As of today, at least 20 foreign medical teams have offered support to the country and have registered with WHO. The first teams are expected to arrive in Kathmandu tonight.

“Each team that has registered is committed to ensuring that the Nepalese people impacted by this disaster will get treated by the most appropriate health workers and equipment,” says Dr Ian Norton, head of the WHO FMT initiative. “Such support is essential in this early phase of trauma care. Every hour counts with trauma care. The response is time critical.”

Some 30 of Nepal’s 75 districts have been impacted, with 11 priority districts identified as in greatest need of humanitarian relief. Thousands of affected people require access to health care for emergency needs and for pre-existing conditions.

Injuries caused by this earthquake are similar to what we have seen after earthquakes of this magnitude: many who were trapped in buildings as they collapsed have lost their lives. Survivors have injuries ranging from broken bones, head trauma, spinal injuries and crush syndrome. These types of injuries require intensive and rapid medical treatment and some will require surgery.

The foreign medical teams deploying to Nepal meet the minimum standards required to be part of this life-saving initiative, which include being able to:

provide initial emergency care of injuries for outpatients;
deliver inpatient acute care, general and obstetric surgery for trauma and other major conditions;
ensure complex inpatient referral surgical care, including intensive care capacity;
be self-sufficient and capable of providing care upon arrival.
WHO has established an organization-wide coordination mechanism to mobilize experts to support the health sector in Nepal to respond to this crisis, Dr Singh said.

A surge team comprising of an emergency operation commander, 2 epidemiologists and 2 logisticians have been deployed to strengthen WHO support.

Within 24 hours of the earthquake, WHO provided the first tranche of USD 175 000 to the Government of Nepal from the South-East Asia Regional Health Emergency Fund to meet the immediate health needs of the earthquake-affected people in Nepal.

Al Gore at SXSW: We Need to ‘Punish Climate-Change Deniers’ and ‘Put a Price on Carbon’

The South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival is happening now in Austin, Texas. Running from March 9 to 22, it’s a massive film, interactive and music festival that is nearly 20 years old. The festival brings together designers, developers, investors, entrepreneurs and politicians for panels and discussions about technology and innovation.

“We need to put a price on carbon to accelerate these market trends,” said Gore. “And in order to do that, we need to put a price on denial in politics.” stocklight /

“We need to put a price on carbon to accelerate these market trends,” said Gore. “And in order to do that, we need to put a price on denial in politics.” stocklight /

For the third time in the last few years, Al Gore, founder and chairman of the Climate Reality Project, spoke at the festival on Friday. Naturally, his interactive discussion focused on addressing the climate crisis. The former vice president focused on the need to “punish climate-change deniers, saying politicians should pay a price for rejecting ‘accepted science,’” said the Chicago Tribune.

Gore said forward-thinking investors are moving away from companies that invest in fossil fuels and towards companies investing in renewable energy. “We need to put a price on carbon to accelerate these market trends,” Gore told the Chicago Tribune, referring to a proposed federal cap-and-trade system that would penalize companies that exceeded their carbon-emission limits. “And in order to do that, we need to put a price on denial in politics.”

He called on the tech-minded SXSW crowd, which is dominated by Millenials, to harness technology to launch a grassroots movement to tackle climate change and call out climate deniers. “We have this denial industry cranked up constantly,” Gore said. “In addition to 99 percent of the scientists and all the professional scientific organizations, now Mother Nature is weighing in.”

Years from now, Gore said the next generation will look back at us and ask: “How did you change?,” according to Macworld. “Part of the answer may well be that a group of people came to South by Southwest in Austin, Texas in 2015 and helped to make a revolution,” Gore said.

Gore wanted these young, tech-savvy attendees to start a grassroots movement using social media like they did when “net neutrality was threatened or when the Stop Online Piracy Act threatened to blacklist websites that offered so-called illegal content,” said Macworld. That means signing petitions to fight climate change, utilizing social media to call out climate deniers in Congress and streaming the Live Earth Road to Paris concert on June 18, an event designed to draw attention to the climate talks in Paris this December.

The former Veep even gave a nod to Pope Francis during his talk, showing a slide of the pontiff and saying “How about this Pope?” Pope Francis celebrated his two-year anniversary as Pope on Friday, riding a wave of popularity “that has reinvigorated the Catholic Church in ways not seen since the days of St. John Paul II,” said the Chicago Tribune. Gore said he was looking forward to the Pope’s highly anticipated encyclical on the environment which is due to be released in June or July. “I’m not a Catholic,” Gore said, “but I could be persuaded to become one.”