Passengers complain of poor services at KSA airports
RIYADH: ARAB NEWS
Published — Wednesday 3 December 2014
Passengers complained of poor services in the Kingdom’s airports due to the small number of employees in security and customs.
The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) stated that the reduced number of workers in these positions obstruct its efforts to operate airports according to commercial standards.
GACA confirmed in a recent report that it faces difficulties related to budget shortage in airport facilities, and it’s suffering a delay in its procedures to approve its contractors’ dues.
It also suffers from weak performance in regards to safety and traffic movements in some countries. The report revealed that there is difficulty attracting specialized staff that conforms to the recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organizations and other relevant bodies.
As for the investment side, the airport authority faces a problem covering its operational and investment costs.
The report showed that total spending at the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014 of the King Abdulaziz development projects in Jeddah, which consists of establishing a complete airport with all its facilities to take in the rapid growth of air movement, reached SR16.7 billion; around 45 percent of the project has been completed during the same year.
The authority said there are no feasible factors to establish an airport in Fursan Island, but the idea hasn’t been abandoned, only delayed.
Regarding the Al-Qunfotha airport, GACA said it has been approved in the budget and a piece of land has been allocated for the project, but the location was not suitable.
An alternative location will be assigned to the airport, authorities confirmed.
Ahmad Al-Zailai, Shoura Council member, said there are two pieces of land that could be used for Al-Qunfotha airport. One in Al-Nakhla and one in Al-Dansah.
He said GACA should address Al-Qunfotha and Jeddah municipalities to allocate one of these plots to the airport.
Fake discounts irk consumers
JEDDAH: NADIM AL-HAMID
Published — Thursday 4 December 2014
Many customers are hopping mad because they say several stores in Jeddah are offering discounts that turn out to be nonexistent.
This comes hot on the heels of the Ministry of Commerce last month closing several stores of a major electronics and appliance retailer for offering bogus discounts.
Meshaal Doaid said he no longer believes the advertising of supermarkets in the city. He said that he recently went to a well-known mall and discovered that there were no discounts as advertised, only a ploy to lure customers.
Doaid said consumers are also partly to blame for this situation because they are remaining silent and not complaining. He said this was giving unscrupulous merchants the license to continue with their criminal actions.
He urged shoppers to ask the stores to show that they have been given permission by the Commerce Ministry to offer discounts. “It is the right of consumers to verify information that affects them,” he said.
Abdulrahman Basanaini urged the Consumer Protection Association, which operates under the ministry, to issue an online guide of consumer rights to protect buyers from greedy merchants.
Majid Asaad said he regularly monitors discount promotions at several shops, and has found that once shoppers buy the goods they do not get the promised discounts.
Talal Kurd said he recently complained to the ministry about a discount scam at a local supermarket. The ministry subsequently raided the shop and found that he was telling the truth. Kurd said the shop owner returned his money.
Mamdouh Al-Zahrani said that he believes most advertised discounts campaigns are fake and that shops simply want to pull consumers into their stores. He said real discounts are only offered on poor-quality goods, or those not in high demand.
Lawyer Mohammed Al-Suleiman said the ministry must take action against these corrupt practices, particularly during holidays. He said the merchants operating in this manner risk losing all credibility out in the marketplace.
He said the ministry should deploy more inspectors and increase the penalties for unethical business behavior. It should also introduce legislation that would entrench the rights of consumers and ensure the accountability of traders.
Syria war death toll now more than 200,000: monitor
BEIRUT: Syria’s civil war has killed more than 200,000 people in less than four years, a monitoring group told AFP on Tuesday, adding that most were fighters from the two sides.
“We have documented the killing of 202,354 people since March 2011,” Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman said, adding that more than 130,000 of them were combatants.
“Of the total, 63,074 of the killed were civilians, including 10,377 children,” said Abdel Rahman.
“Among the anti-regime fighters, 37,324 were Syrian rebels, while 22,624 were non-Syrian jihadists,” he added.
“On the regime side, there were 44,237 soldiers, 28,974 members of the (paramilitary) National Defense Force, 624 members of (Lebanon’s Shiite) Hezbollah, and 2,388 pro-regime Shiite fighters from beyond Syria and Lebanon,” Abdel Rahman said.
Another 3,011 were unidentified, he added.
Abdel Rahman said the toll “is probably much higher than 200,000, but certain areas under regime and (jihadist) Islamic State group control are impossible to work in freely.”
He also said some 300,000 people are being held in Syria’s infamous jails, including 20,000 who have gone missing entirely.
Thousands of other people — combatants and civilians — have also been taken hostage by IS and other factions active in Syria.
Abdel Rahman blamed the international failure to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court for the constant bloodletting.
“By failing to take the killers to court, the international community gives them the implicit go-ahead to keep on killing,” he told AFP.
There have been several attempts to refer Syria to the ICC, but Russian and Chinese vetoes at the Security Council have blocked them.
Protests erupt after jury clears NY cop in chokehold death
MARIANO ANDRADE | AFP
Published — Thursday 4 December 2014
NEW YORK: Thousands of protesters hit the streets of New York after a grand jury declined Wednesday to charge a white police officer in the choking death of a black man, days after a similar decision sparked unrest in US cities.
Soon after the decision by the grand jury, hundreds of protesters converged on Rockefeller Center and in New York City’s iconic Times Square chanting “No justice, no peace,” the rallying cry of demonstrators already angered by a separate grand jury decision last week not to indict a white policeman in the fatal shooting of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
Police made at least 30 arrests, New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said.
A series of small protests converged into a march of about 5,000 people down Broadway and eventually into Times Square, the Washington Post reported. Drivers stuck in traffic by the march honked their horns in solidarity, the paper said.
Both cases, coupled with the death of a 12-year-old black boy who was gunned down by police officers in Ohio while handling a toy pistol in a playground, have reignited a longstanding debate in the United States about relations between law enforcement and African Americans, as well as accusations of overly aggressive policing.
Following Wednesday’s jury decision, Attorney General Eric Holder said the US Justice Department will launch a federal civil rights investigation into the case of Eric Garner, 43, who died after being placed in a chokehold by New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo while being arrested on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes on Staten Island, a NYC borough.
An amateur video of the arrest shows Garner, a heavy set man who suffered from asthma and had six children, gasping “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe” as police officers held him to the ground with his throat constricted.
Holder’s announcement means Pantaleo could still face trial.
Protesters in Times Square waved signs with messages such as “Black lives matter,” and “Respect human lives.”
There was another protest at Grand Central Terminal, where about 50 protesters lay, pretending to be dead, and on Staten Island, where Garner’s clash with police happened.
Small demonstrations also broke out in Harlem, Union Square and Columbus Circle, while there were similarly small but peaceful protests in Washington, DC.
In New York, demonstrator Susan Schneider told AFP: “The police has impunity. They can run away whatever they do.
“And when you see them on the streets, how they are equipped, it’s like war. It’s worse than in the 60s. The racism is more strong now.”
The July death of Garner is one of a string of high-profile, racially charged incidents in which white police officers have been accused of using unreasonable force or being too quick to fire at black suspects.
Garner’s widow, Esaw Garner, said she rejected Pantaleo’s apology.
“Hell, no,” Garner said, according to the New York Times. “The time for remorse for the death of my husband was when he was yelling to breathe.”
“He’s still feeding his kids,” Garner said, “and my husband is six feet under and I’m looking for a way to feed my kids now.”
In brief comments following the grand jury decision, Barack Obama — the first black president of the US — addressed the inherent mistrust many African Americans have of police.
“We’re seeing too many instances where people do not have confidence that folks are being treated fairly,” Obama said.
“In some cases, those may be misperceptions, but in some cases that’s a reality, and it is incumbent upon all of us as Americans… that we recognize this is an American problem and not just a black problem or a brown problem.”
The August shooting death of 18-year-old Brown by a white policeman in Ferguson sparked consecutive nights of violence and became a rallying cry for African-American communities across the United States fed up with what they say is racially biased policing.
A grand jury in that case also decided not to charge the white officer involved, triggering demonstrations in cities across America last week and into the weekend.
Centuries of racism
A New York City medical examiner had ruled Garner’s death a homicide caused in part by the chokehold used during the arrest.
Mayor De Blasio has said authorities need to address the “underlying reality” highlighted by the deaths of Brown and Garner.
De Blasio, who is white, has a mixed-race son and said he is well aware of the difficulties young black people can face.
“We’ve had to literally train him, as families have all over this city for decades, in how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police,” the mayor said.
De Blasio noted that America is “dealing with centuries of racism.”
New York authorities announced a pilot program to equip about three dozen police officers with body cameras to record their behavior toward the public.
De Blasio hailed the tool as “one of the ways to create a real sense of transparency and accountability