News ID: 111077
Publish Date : 08 January 2023 - 21:52
LONDON (Sputnik) – About 40,000 of the UK military’s 145,000 personnel have been officially classified as dangerously overweight or obese over the past five years, according to Ministry of Defense (MoD) statistics as cited by a British media outlet.  The statistics also revealed that 5,200 obese or overweight British servicemen have been medically discharged since 2010, with scores of soldiers suffering from Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. The heaviest soldier, who was sacked from the army after failing mandatory fitness tests, weighed more than 420 pounds (over 190 kg). Over 850 troops have reportedly been prescribed diet pills since 2014, while 60 others have had liposuction surgery to tackle the problem. This came as a MoD spokesperson claimed that “personnel can have multiple causes listed in a medical discharge, so may not have been discharged specifically for weight related issues.” “The Armed Forces represent a physically demanding occupation and we continue to ensure all personnel are fit to undertake their duties. This includes physical testing to meet the necessary standards, tailored health programs and robust fitness education,” they added. The remarks followed Richard Kemp, a former commander of British troops in Afghanistan, arguing that “every overweight service man or woman (in Britain) became overweight while serving.”
PRISTINA (Al Jazeera) – NATO’s mission in Kosovo has turned down a Serbian government request to send up to 1,000 Serbian police and army personnel to Kosovo after a spate of clashes between Serbs and Kosovo authorities. Serbia’s former province of Kosovo declared independence in 2008 following the 1998-1999 war during which NATO bombed the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, comprising Serbia and Montenegro, to protect Albanian-majority Kosovo. “They [KFOR, NATO’s mission in Kosovo] replied saying they consider that there is no need for the return of the Serbian army to Kosovo… citing the United Nations resolution approving their mandate in Kosovo,” Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic said in an interview with Serbian Pink TV channel on Sunday. Last month, for the first time since the end of the war, Serbia asked to deploy troops in Kosovo during a spate of clashes between Kosovo authorities and Serbs in the north of Kosovo, where they constitute a majority. A UN Security Council resolution states that Serbia may be allowed, if approved by KFOR, to station its personnel at border crossings, religious sites and areas with Serb majorities.
BERLIN (DW) – Almost 1,000 German military personnel applied for an exemption from serving in combat zones in 2022, a sharp rise on 2021’s figures, according to a report. A spokesperson for the German ministry responsible for processing the applications told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland group of newspapers that 951 Bundeswehr soldiers had applied for the exemption. “In 2021, 201 applications for exemption from combat service were received, in 2022 it was a total of 951 applications,” the spokesperson for the Ministry for Family and Civil Affairs told the newspapers. The report cited the war in Ukraine and the increased tensions particularly with Russia in 2022 as the reason for many of the soldiers asking to be ruled out of combat tours. Although NATO is only supporting Ukraine and is not directly involved in the conflict, the prospect of conflict with Russia still became a more realistic one in 2022. A spokesman for the DFK-VG, a German group for conscientious objectors and pacifists, appealed in the report for the Bundeswehr to offer soldiers an “easy way out” if they want one. 
STOCKHOLM (Middle East Eye) – Turkey, which has for months blocked NATO membership bids by Sweden and Finland, has made some demands that Sweden cannot accept, Sweden’s prime minister said on Sunday. “Turkey has confirmed that we have done what we said we would do, but it also says that it wants things that we can’t, that we don’t want to, give it,” Ulf Kristersson said during a security conference also attended by NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, AFP reported. “We are convinced that Turkey will make a decision, we just don’t know when,” he said, adding that it will depend on internal politics inside Turkey as well as “Sweden’s capacity to show its seriousness”. Both Sweden and Finland, who long maintained a position of neutrality and military non-alignment, have sought to join NATO in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Turkey has stalled the Nordic countries’ requests to join the alliance over accusations that they are providing a safe haven to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and other groups linked to them. Most of Turkey’s demands have involved Sweden because of its more robust ties with the Kurdish diaspora. Finland’s foreign minister said that the country would join NATO at the same time as its neighbor.
BEIJING (AP) – A traffic accident in southern China killed 19 people and injured 20 others early Sunday as the annual Lunar New Year holiday travel rush got underway, authorities said. The accident occurred outside the city of Nanchang in Jiangxi province, according to the local traffic management brigade. The cause was under investigation, the brigade said. Heavy fog was also reported at the time of the accident, just after midnight, according to reports. Website Jimu News quoted a resident as saying the victims were mourners from the village of Taoling who had set up a funeral tent on the side of the road, as is common in rural China, and were hit by a passing truck as they were preparing to proceed to the local crematorium in the morning. Several of the victims were her neighbors, the woman — identified only by her surname, Deng — told the site, which is published by the Hubei Daily newspaper based in a neighboring province.
PORT VILA (AFP) – A 7.0 magnitude earthquake has struck the South Pacific Ocean nation Vanuatu, the United States Geological Survey has said, triggering a tsunami warning for the region. The quake hit around 11:30pm local time (12:30 GMT) on Sunday. It was centered 23km (14 miles) from Port Olry and hit at a depth of 27km (17 miles), the agency said. “Tsunami waves reaching 0.3 to one meter above the tide level are possible for some coasts of Vanuatu,” said the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre. The centre also issued a tsunami warning for coasts located within 300km (186 miles) of the epicenter of the earthquake. There have been no reports of damage or casualties so far. Vanuatu has a population of 280,000 people and consists of several dozen islands. It sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where tectonic plates collide, and it experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity.
* Comment: