Monthly Archives : June 2021

Home  >>  2021  >>  June

Britain Faces Travel Bans Amid Soaring Delta Variant Infections

30
Jun,2021

0

Several countries have imposed restrictions on travelers from Britain amid rising cases of the delta variant of the coronavirus. Scientists say the delta mutation is more infectious and now makes up around 95 percent of new cases in Britain. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

your ad here

НБУ: слідом за керівництвом департаменту ліцензування звільняється директор із фінансової стабільності

30
Jun,2021

0

За словами Ваврищука, його спостереження співпадають із висновками директора департаменту ліцензування Олександра Бевза щодо ситуації в центробанку

your ad here

Microsoft Exec Says Targeting of Americans’ Records ‘Routine’

30
Jun,2021

0

Federal law enforcement agencies secretly seek the data of Microsoft customers thousands of times a year, according to congressional testimony Wednesday by a senior executive at the technology company.Tom Burt, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for customer security and trust, told members of the House Judiciary Committee that federal law enforcement in recent years has been presenting the company with between 2,400 to 3,500 secrecy orders a year, or about seven to 10 a day.”Most shocking is just how routine secrecy orders have become when law enforcement targets an American’s email, text messages or other sensitive data stored in the cloud,” said Burt, describing the widespread clandestine surveillance as a major shift from historical norms.The relationship between law enforcement and Big Tech has attracted fresh scrutiny in recent weeks with the revelation that Trump-era Justice Department prosecutors obtained as part of leak investigations phone records belonging not only to journalists but also to members of Congress and their staffers. Microsoft, for instance, was among the companies that turned over records under a court order, and because of a gag order, had to then wait more than two years before disclosing it.Since then, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president, called for an end to the overuse of secret gag orders, arguing in a Washington Post opinion piece that “prosecutors too often are exploiting technology to abuse our fundamental freedoms.” Attorney General Merrick Garland, meanwhile, has said the Justice Department will abandon its practice of seizing reporter records and will formalize that stance soon.Burt is among the witnesses at a Judiciary Committee hearing about potential legislative solutions to intrusive leak investigations.  House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said in opening remarks Wednesday that the Justice Department took advantage of outdated policies on digital data searches to target journalists and others in leak investigations. The New York Democrat said that reforms are needed now to guard against future overreach by federal prosecutors — an idea also expressed by Republicans on the committee.”We cannot trust the department to police itself,” Nadler said.Burt said that while the revelation that federal prosecutors had sought data about journalists and political figures was shocking to many Americans, the scope of surveillance is much broader. He criticized prosecutors for reflexively seeking secrecy through boilerplate requests that “enable law enforcement to just simply assert a conclusion that a secrecy order is necessary.”Burt said that while Microsoft Corp. does cooperate with law enforcement on a broad range of criminal and national security investigations, it often challenges surveillance that it sees as unnecessary, resulting at times in advance notice to the account being targeted.Among the organizations weighing in at the hearing was The Associated Press, which called on Congress to act to protect journalists’ ability to promise confidentiality to their sources. Reporters must have prior notice and the ability to challenge a prosecutor’s efforts to seize data, said a statement submitted by Karen Kaiser, AP’s general counsel.”It is essential that reporters be able to credibly promise confidentially to ensure the public has the information needed to hold its government accountable and to help government agencies and officials function more effectively and with integrity,” Kaiser said.  As possible solutions, Burt said, the government should end indefinite secrecy orders and should also be required to notify the target of the data demand once the secrecy order has expired.Just this week, he said, prosecutors sought a blanket gag order affecting the government of a major U.S. city for a Microsoft data request targeting a single employee there.”Without reform, abuses will continue to occur and they will occur in the dark,” Burt said.

your ad here

Apple відкрила офіційне представництво в Україні – Федоров

30
Jun,2021

0

Princes William, Harry to Unveil Diana Statue as Royal Rift Simmers

30
Jun,2021

0

They were once so close.Princes William and Harry grew up together, supported each other after their mother’s untimely death and worked side by side as they began their royal duties — two brothers seemingly bonded for life by blood, tradition and tragedy.But those links are now painfully strained as William sits in London defending the royal family from allegations of racism and insensitivity made by Harry and his wife, Meghan, from their new home in Southern California.Royal watchers will be looking closely for any signs of a truce — or deepening rift — on Thursday when William and Harry unveil a statue of their mother, Princess Diana, on what would have been her 60th birthday. The event in the Sunken Garden at London’s Kensington Palace will be their second public meeting since Harry and Meghan stepped away from royal duties over a year ago.A display to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of Britain’s Diana, Princess of Wales, a recreation of the desk where Princess Diana worked in her Sitting room at Kensington Palace, on display at Buckingham Palace in London, July 20, 2017.People shouldn’t expect a quick resolution of the conflict because the two men are fighting over core beliefs, says Robert Lacey, a historian and author of “Battle of Brothers: William, Harry and the Inside Story of a Family in Tumult.” William is defending the monarchy, and Harry is defending his wife.  “It’s a matter of love versus duty, with William standing for duty and the concept of the monarchy as he sees it,” Lacey said. “And then from Harry’s point of view, love, loyalty to his wife. He is standing by her. These are very deeply rooted differences, so it would be facile to think that there can just be a click of the fingers.”But finding some sort of rapprochement between the princes is crucial to the monarchy as Britain’s royal family seeks to appeal to a younger generation and a more diverse population.BBC Under Mounting Pressure Over Princess Diana InterviewThe public broadcaster has been plunged into a major crisis of trust after an inquiry found her participation was secured through deception, fraud and forgeryWhen Harry married Meghan just over three years ago, it seemed as if they would be central figures in that next chapter of the royal story.  The Fab Four — William and his wife, Kate, together with Harry and Meghan — were seen as a cadre of youth and vigor that would take the monarchy forward after the tumultuous 1990s and early 2000s, when divorce, Princess Diana’s death, and Prince Charles’ controversial second marriage to Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, cast doubt on the future of the institution.Meghan, a biracial former TV star from Los Angeles, was expected to be an important part of that effort, with Black and Asian commentators saying that for the first time there was a member of the royal family who looked like them.But the words “Fab Four” were quickly replaced in tabloid headlines by “Royal Rift.”  First, their joint royal office was dissolved. Then, Harry stepped away from royal duties and moved his family to North America in search of a more peaceful life. William pressed on with royal tasks, including goodwill events like accompanying his grandmother to Scotland this week to tour a soft drink factory.The relationship was further strained in March when Harry and Meghan gave an interview to U.S. talk show host Oprah Winfrey.  Harry confirmed rumors that he and his brother had been growing apart, saying “the relationship is ‘space’ at the moment” — though he added that “time heals all things, hopefully.” Harry also told Winfrey that his father, Prince Charles, didn’t accept his calls for a time.And then came the real shocker. The couple revealed that before the birth of their first child, an unidentified member of the royal family had expressed concern about how dark his skin might be. Days after the broadcast, William responded, telling reporters that his was “very much not a racist family.”But whatever their disagreements, out of respect for their mother, William and Harry won’t put their differences on display during the statue ceremony, said historian Ed Owens, author of “The Family Firm: Monarchy, Mass Media and the British Public 1932-1953,” which examines the royal family’s public relations strategy.”We’re not going to see any acrimony or animosity between the brothers on Thursday,” Owens said. “I think reconciliation is a long way off, but nevertheless these are expert performers. Harry and William have been doing this job for long enough now that they know that they’ve got to put, if you like, occasional private grievances … aside for the sake of getting on with the job.”Lacey believes William and Harry will ultimately reconcile because it is in both of their interests to do so.Harry and Meghan need to repair relations to protect the aura of royalty that has allowed them to sign the lucrative contracts with Netflix and Spotify that are funding their life in California, Lacey said. If they don’t, they risk becoming irrelevant like the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, who were shunned by the royal family after the duke gave up the throne in the 1930s to marry an American divorcee. His brother, Queen Elizabeth II’s father, then became king.”It’s very appealing, particularly in America, the idea that they rebelled against this stuffy old British institution,” Lacey said. “But there’s a point they can’t go too far, and they’re approaching that point.””On William’s side, it is impossible to go on ostracizing, boycotting the only members of the royal family who are of mixed race in a multiracial world of diversity,” he added.The critical moment may be next year, when the queen celebrates her platinum jubilee, marking 70 years on the throne.Under normal circumstances for these big occasions, the queen would want the whole family together on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, where the royals have traditionally gathered to wave to the public.”Who’s going to be on the balcony at Buckingham Palace?” Lacey asked. “That family grouping has surely got to include Meghan and Harry and their two children, Archie and Lili, alongside their cousins, the children of William and Kate.”

your ad here

Germany Completes Troop Exit from Afghanistan

30
Jun,2021

0

Germany has removed its last remaining soldiers from Afghanistan, ending almost two decades of deployment to the war-torn country alongside U.S. and other coalition troops.The United States and NATO plan to fully withdraw their militaries from the South Asian nation by September 11 in line with orders by U.S. President Joe Biden. The drawdown process formally started on May 1.Germany announced its military withdrawal without much fanfare shortly after the last 250 German soldiers were airlifted Tuesday night out of their base in northern Afghanistan.“After nearly 20 years of deployment, the last soldiers of our Bundeswehr have left Afghanistan this evening,” German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said in a statement she tweeted.“They are on their way home. A historic chapter comes to an end, an intensive deployment that challenged and shaped the Bundeswehr, in which the Bundeswehr proved itself in combat,” she wrote.The minister thanked the 150,000 German men and women who had been part of the mission in Afghanistan since 2001, saying they could be proud of their achievements.Germany has lost 59 troops, 39 of them in battles or insurgent attacks, during the course of their service, according to the German army. “You will not be forgotten,” said the German defense minister while paying tribute to those killed and wounded in service in Afghanistan.Germany still had about 1,100 soldiers in the country when Biden announced his withdrawal plans in mid-April. They were part of a non-combatant NATO-led military mission tasked to train, advise and assist Afghan soldiers battling the Taliban insurgency.A spokesman for Afghanistan’s National Security Council said while NATO countries are winding down their military missions, that does not mean bilateral state-to-state ties are also ending.“Afghanistan maintains close ties and cooperation with Germany. They have conducted extensive training of our police forces and that collaboration will continue,” said Rahmatullah Andar in a video statement.NATO’s senior civilian representative in Afghanistan, Stefano Pontecorvo, reassured Afghans of the alliance’s continued engagement as it completes the withdrawal of the military forces. “This is not the end of our partnership. Together, we are entering a new phase in our relationship,” Pontecorvo said in a vide message his official released. “The military may be leaving but my civilian office and myself will be staying and we are committed to supporting the Afghan security forces through financial assistance and through training.” Fighting has surged across Afghanistan since U.S.-led international forces began leaving. Taliban insurgents claim to have captured more than 100 of the country’s 419 districts within the past two months.Afghan commando forces are seen at the site of a battlefield where they clashed with Taliban insurgents in Kunduz province, Afghanistan, June 22, 2021.A spokesman for NATO’s Resolute Support mission told AFP the withdrawal of their forces is proceeding in an “orderly and coordinated manner.”The Taliban advances have raised fears they aim to regain control of Afghanistan by force once all international forces exit the country.The U.S.-led international coalition invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, just days after the terror strikes on American cities that killed nearly 3,000 people.The military invasion ousted the Islamist Taliban from power for sheltering al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden and his aides, whom the United States says plotted the carnage. The Taliban later launched a deadly insurgency against Afghan and foreign troops. Now, they currently control or hotly contest nearly half of Afghan territory.Armed men who are against Taliban uprising guard their check post, at the Ghorband District, Parwan Province, Afghanistan, June 29, 2021.The foreign military drawdown stems from a February 2020 deal Washington negotiated with the Taliban to end what has been the longest war in U.S. history. In return, the insurgents stopped attacks on international forces and pledged to prevent terrorists from using Afghan soil for foreign attacks. The Taliban also opened peace talks in Qatar last September with representatives of the U.S.-backed Afghan government. But the dialogue has since stalled without making any significant progress, nor has the process eased hostilities between the two Afghan rivals.The U.S. commander of foreign troops in Afghanistan said Tuesday he was deeply concerned about the deteriorating security situation.Gen. Austin Scott Miller, who is overseeing the troop exit, told reporters in the Afghan capital, Kabul, that the overall security situation “is not good,” saying recent insurgent territorial gains were concerning.Brown University’s Costs of War Project estimated in April this year that the two-decade-long war in Afghanistan had killed 241,000 people, including more than 2,400 American soldiers, and cost the United States $2.26 trillion to date. Some Information from Agence France-Presse was used in this report. 

your ad here

Brexit: Children in Care Threatened With Becoming Undocumented in United Kingdom

30
Jun,2021

0

They are called Adam or Nastashia, they are Europeans and live in the United Kingdom where they have been placed in homes or foster families, victims of chaotic journeys. Some of these children are now at risk of becoming undocumented as a result of Brexit.”This means that they will not have the right to live in the United Kingdom,” warns Marianne Lagrue, an official of the association Coram Children’s Legal Center which helps them. “They will not be able to access free health care, work, receive benefits, rent housing, learn to drive and have a bank account,” she told AFP.At 18, they also risk deportation from a country where they have often resided for a long time. Because since the United Kingdom definitively left the orbit of the European Union on January 1, it is no longer possible to settle there freely or to continue to reside there without special procedures, as was the case. before. While migration rules have been tightened for new arrivals from the EU, those who were already on British soil on December 31, 2020 can retain their rights provided they register, by June 30 at the latest, via the ” settlement scheme.”The program is considered a “success” by the government, with some 5 million temporary or permanent residence permits granted – far more than the number of EU nationals previously estimated at over 3 million. But it also has its drop-outs. “It’s simple if you have a job, if you are doing well with digital technologies (the requests being made mainly online, Editor’s note) and if you have all your documents,” notes Azmina Siddique, from the association The Children’s Society, interviewed by AFP. It is much more complex for children in care or young adults who have been placed: some find it difficult to prove their identity, provide the required residence documents or obtain the necessary support for their procedures, which are the responsibility of their legal guardian or the authorities. The Coram association cites the example of Adam, a 4-year-old Romanian boy born in London and separated from his mother. He cannot obtain a passport from his embassy – his father, whose consent is required, is unknown – and social workers are struggling to prove his place of residence before his placement.  There is also Nastashia (assumed name), 17, broken with her family. Born in the UK, she does not have a passport and has encountered great difficulties in registering. “Many do not even realize that they are not British,” says Azmina Siddique. The impact can be “very traumatic” and “hold them back in life.”Difficult to know their exact number, the nationalities of the children placed not being collected in the United Kingdom, where the identity card does not exist. According to the Interior Ministry, 3,660 vulnerable young people (up to 25 years old) have been identified as eligible for residency status, 67% of whom had submitted an application at the end of April. A figure largely underestimated according to associations which evoke up to 9,000 of them. The ministry assured to work “closely” with these and the local authorities with in particular a support of 22 million pounds (25.6 million euros). He also promised to accept late requests if there are “reasonable grounds.”This is insufficient, regrets Azmina Siddique: from July 1, children who have missed the deadline will be “without protection” until a request for regularization has been submitted and then accepted. An interval which can extend over years, she emphasizes, and which exposes them to the hostile environment policy towards immigrants deployed by the executive.  “These children could become the next Windrush generation,” she warns, referring to the scandal over the treatment of thousands of Caribbean immigrants who legally arrived in the UK between 1948 and 1971, but denied rights for lack of necessary documentation. The3Million, an association defending European citizens in the UK, urges the government to provide physical proof of residence status, which the government does not consider necessary.More broadly, according to the U.K. think tank in a Changing Europe, up to hundreds of thousands of people could find themselves without status, including the elderly, the homeless, victims of domestic violence or children wrongly considered by their parents as being covered by theirs.  “If the government is not able to regularize the children for which it is responsible, what about children in vulnerable families (…) or vulnerable adults?” Asks Marianne Lagrue. 

your ad here

COVID-19 Leaves Long-Term Scars on Europe’s Youth 

30
Jun,2021

0

European borders and economies are opening up this summer, thanks to falling coronavirus cases and rising vaccination numbers. But experts warn the pandemic’s scars could be long term and profound—especially for young people, a generation Europe cannot afford to lose.
Things are looking up for young Parisians. Bars and restaurants have reopened, also schools and universities, for the last weeks before summer vacations.  Young people having coffee in Paris. France reopened bars and restaurants mid-may as coronavirus cases dropped. (Lisa Bryant/VOA)At a community room with other students, Sorbonne University student Katarzyna Mac is studying for final exams. She is grateful that months of coronavirus confinement are over.  At a community room with other students, Sorbonne University student Katarzyna Mac is studying for final exams. She is grateful that months of coronavirus confinement are over.  With France’s rolling lockdowns, Mac says, it was difficult and stressful to be alone all day in front of the computer. Like other students in France, she spent most of her academic year taking online classes from home. Katazyna Mac studies for final exams at her student housing outside Paris. (Lisa Bryant/VOA)Experts point to multiple ways the crisis has and continues to hit Europe’s youth — causing economic, social and mental distress. Many, like Mac, already live on the edge.  Shuttered businesses, especially in sectors like hospitality, wiped out job opportunities on which many depend.  European Union statistics estimate more than 17% of people under 25 are out of work — more than twice the regional average. Youth poverty and homelessness are on the rise. So is depression.  Abbe Pierre Foundation’s European Studies head, Sarah Coupechoux, says many European youth are living on the edge. (Lisa Bryant/VOA)Sarah Coupechoux is Europe studies head for French nonprofit the Abbe Pierre Foundation. She says there is a segment of Europeans today, including young people, who are merely surviving. With the pandemic and job losses, huge lines of young people have been seeking food, and are hungry. A recent report by the charity also explores the growing difficulties Europe’s youth face in finding housing.  Like many other young Europeans, Mac was too poor to leave home. But she recently managed to find subsidized housing, at a building for young students and workers on the edge of Paris.  Her apartment has just enough room for a bed, desk and small kitchen. Dirty dishes are piled high in the sink. The refrigerator is mostly empty.  She gets student aid and a small government stipend. But it’s not enough live on. Her parents don’t always have enough to help her out.  Days of studying alone have also taken a psychological toll.  Even before COVID, the disease caused by the coronavirus, she said, she had problems with stress and suicidal thoughts. It got worse with the pandemic. It was especially stressful not to be able to go to class normally.  COVID-19 is the disease caused by the coronavirus. The pandemic has compounded hardships for other young people — especially, studies find — those from disadvantaged neighborhoods.  In the working-class Paris suburb of Bobigny, youth activist Stanley Camille says students had a hard time accessing the internet, which they needed to follow online classes during lockdown. Families are poor in his town, he says. Often there’s only one computer for four or five children.  Last year, France rolled out a multi-billion-dollar initiative to help its youth get the jobs, training and education they need. Student canteens offer lunches for just over a dollar. European leaders vow to fight against poverty. But experts like Coupechoux say much more is needed.   Coupechoux says on national and local levels in Europe, institutions must be alerted on the importance of supporting this young generation.  Mac agrees. She is getting psychological help — but says demand is high and state services are understaffed. She and her neighbors have started a support group — and share basics like milk to get by. Long walks in parks like this one, also help.  Mac also landed a summer job doing civic service. Mac says she hopes life will finally get back to normal. But with threats of new variants spreading, nothing could be less certain.  

your ad here

Start-Up Creates Robot to Help Kids Relax at Doctor’s Office

29
Jun,2021

0

COVID Leaves Long-Term Scars on Europe’s Youth

29
Jun,2021

0

European borders and economies are opening up this summer, thanks to falling coronavirus cases and rising vaccination numbers. But experts warn the pandemic’s scars could be long term and profound — especially for young people, a generation Europe cannot afford to lose. For VOA, Lisa Bryant has the story from Paris.Camera:  Lisa Bryant
Produced by: Jon Spier  

your ad here

Greece Recovers Picasso, Mondrian Paintings Stolen in 2012

29
Jun,2021

0

Officials in Greece say they have recovered two priceless paintings — one by Pablo Picasso and another by Dutch artist Piet Mondrian — stolen from the National Gallery in Athens in 2012.During a news briefing in Athens Tuesday, a spokesman said police acted on a tip and arrested a 49-year-old handyman who confessed to the crime. Police had originally believed the burglary had been the work of two people.The official offered details to reporters of how the man had plotted to steal the two paintings — Picasso’s 1939 “Woman’s Head” and Mondrian’s 1905 “Stammer Mill with Summer House.”He said the thief broke into the museum in the early morning hours, and, to mislead the guard on duty, had activated the alarm in one part of the gallery while he broke into another.He added the thief had originally hidden the paintings in his home but later wrapped them and hid them in a ravine in the town of Keratea, about 20 kilometers from Athens. They were recovered there Monday in good condition.Speaking at the same news conference, Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said it was a day full of joy and emotion. She explained the Picasso painting is of special value to the Greek people because the painter personally dedicated it to them for their struggle against fascist and Nazi occupying forces during World War II.  Painting Found in Romania Studied As Possibly Stolen Picasso

        Romanian prosecutors are investigating whether a painting by Pablo Picasso that was snatched from a museum in the Netherlands six years ago has turned up in Romania.

Four Romanians were convicted of stealing Picasso’s “Tete d’Arlequin” and six other valuable paintings from the Kunsthal gallery in Rotterdam.

One of them, Olga Dogaru, told investigators she burned the paintings in her stove to protect her son, the alleged leader of the 2012 heist.

She said the painting bears his hand-written dedication. “That is why it was impossible for this painting not only to be sold but even to be exhibited anywhere as it would be immediately identifiable as being stolen from the National Gallery.”The Mondrian painting was a gift to the National Gallery by a Greek owner. Both paintings will be displayed at the gallery later this year when it reopens following extensive renovations.The Associated Press, Reuters News Service and the French news agency, AFP contributed to this report.

your ad here

G-20 Ministers to Discuss Coronavirus, Climate Change, Development in Africa

29
Jun,2021

0

The coronavirus pandemic, climate change and food security are on the agenda Tuesday as foreign ministers from the G-20 group of nations meet in Italy.  The talks in the city of Matera represent the first time the ministers are gathering in person since 2019.  “To bring the pandemic to an end, we must get more vaccine to more places,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in his opening remarks. “Multilateral cooperation will be key to stop this global health crisis.” Blinken also highlighted U.S. contributions to the COVAX dose-sharing facility to get supply of COVID-19 vaccines to low- and middle-income countries and praised Italy for making the pandemic a focus of Tuesday’s meetings.  U.S. State Department officials said Blinken would stress the importance of working together to address such global challenges, a common theme in recent months as he and President Joe Biden set a foreign policy path heavily focused on boosting ties with allies.  “To address the climate crisis, Secretary Blinken will encourage G-20 members to work together toward ambitious outcomes, including a recognition of the need to keep a 1.5 degree Celsius of warming threshold within reach, the importance of actions this decade that are aligned with that goal, and taking other steps like committing to end public finance for overseas unabated coal,” Susannah Cooper, director of the Office of Monetary Affairs in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, told reporters ahead of the meetings.European Council President Charles Michel, left, waits for the start of a virtual G20 meeting, hosted by Saudi Arabia, at the European Council building in Brussels, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020.Cooper said Blinken would advocate for “building a sustainable and inclusive economic recovery,” including an equitable global tax system with a minimum corporate tax rate.  Finance ministers from G-7 nations, all of which are part of the G-20, agreed in principle in early June to the creation of a global minimum tax on corporations that would force companies that shift profits to subsidiaries in low- or no-tax jurisdictions to pay as much as 15% in taxes on that income to the country where they are headquartered.     Tuesday’s meetings are also set to consider economic development issues in Africa, including gender equity and opportunities for young people, as well as humanitarian efforts and human rights.  Italy is the last stop on a European trip for Blinken that included a conference on Libya in Germany, meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris and an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican.  On Monday he was in Rome, where ministers from a global coalition to fight Islamic State terrorists said 8 million people have been freed from the militants’ control in Iraq and Syria, but that the threat from Islamic State fighters remains there and in Africa.    The ministers met face-to-face for the first time in two years, pledging to maintain watch against a resurgence of the insurgents.     The resumption in ISIS “activities and its ability to rebuild its networks and capabilities to target security forces and civilians in areas in Iraq and Syria where the coalition is not active, requires strong vigilance and coordinated action,” the diplomats said in a concluding communique. 

your ad here

EU Asylum Applications Drop Due to COVID, not Lower Demand

29
Jun,2021

0

The European Union’s asylum agency said Tuesday that the number of people seeking international protection in Europe hit its lowest level last year since 2013, but that the drop was due mostly to coronavirus travel restrictions. EASO said in a new report that 485,000 asylum applications were made in the 27 EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland in 2020. That’s a 32% decrease over the previous year. It said that “reduced applications were primarily due to restricted mobility and travel, rather than a decrease in the number of people in need of international protection.” Two-thirds of the applications were lodged in just three countries. Germany, where most people from conflict-torn Syria are seeking refuge, registered 122,000 applications, while France had 93,000 applications for international protection and Spain had 89,000. But EASO said that when economic growth and population size are taken into account, Cyprus, Greece and Malta remain under the greatest pressure to process applications and house asylum-seekers. Most people seeking protection were from Syria and Afghanistan, followed by nationals of Venezuela and Colombia – who tend to lodge their applications in Spain – and Iraqis. Citizens of Turkey remain among the top seven nationalities hoping to find protection in Europe. 

your ad here

Global Coalition Fears Islamic State Expansion in Africa

29
Jun,2021

0

Western powers are promising recent successes by the Islamic State across Africa will not go unanswered, backing plans for a task force to focus on the terror group’s spread from Iraq and Syria to the African continent.The announcement Monday following a meeting in Rome by the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS comes a day before the seventh anniversary of the terror group’s proclamation of its self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria, and two years since the caliphate’s territorial defeat in Syria.But despite constant pressure from the U.S. military and other coalition members, Western counterterrorism officials warn that IS, or Daesh as the group is also known, has found ways not just to survive but to spread, increasingly focusing the group’s propaganda on the exploits of its African affiliates.“We are fearing the expansion and spread of Daesh in Africa,” Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio told reporters Monday, citing what he described as a “cry for help” from communities in countries such as Niger and Mali.”We know that many villages have fallen in the hands of terrorists,” Di Maio said through an interpreter, adding the threat is pressing ever closer.“We’re now seeing that a number of terrorist cells are proliferating in regions such as the Sahel, where obviously the main migration routes are present, the routes of those who come to Europe,” he said.#ISIS-#Africa: “In my recent missions to #Niger & #Mali, I witnessed the cry for help from those communities” per #Italy FM Di Maio (via translator)”We know that many villages have fallen in the hands of terrorists…” Di Maio says, noting need for “holistic approach”— Jeff Seldin (@jseldin) June 28, 2021Di Maio did not share details about how the new African task force will work to combat IS, though he noted the need for a “holistic approach,” which considered factors such as climate change and poverty that might drive some people toward extremism.“We must step up the action undertaken by the coalition, not by shifting our focus but by increasing the areas in which we can operate … [in] the Sahel, Mozambique and the Horn of Africa,” he said.Speaking alongside Di Maio Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken backed the call for the task force to push back against IS gains in Africa.”We strongly support Italy’s initiative to make sure that the coalition against Daesh focuses its expertise on Africa while keeping our eyes closely on Syria and Iraq,” Blinken said. “We heard a strong consensus.”In a communique issued after the meeting, ministers from the 83-coalition countries noted three of the coalition’s newest members — the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mauritania — are from Africa.Three other African nations — Burkina Faso, Mozambique and Ghana — attended as observers, officials said.As if to underscore the growing threat from IS affiliates in Africa, IS’s West Africa Province circulated a video last Friday allegedly showing fighters from the Boko Haram terror group switching sides to join with their former rivals.”We have now joined with our Ikhwan (brothers),” a former Boko Haram fighter said in the video obtained by SITE Intelligence Group.“We should not relent in our effort to fight the kuffar (infidels),” the speaker added, according to a copy obtained by Reuters.The video comes less than a month after IS-West Africa first issued claims that longtime Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau died after being captured by its fighters..@HumAngle_@Reuters have reported #ISIS-West #Africa leader Abu Musab al-Barnawi confirmed #BokoHaram’s Shekau death last month in a recent audio recordinghttps://t.co/o69685Q6TL— Jeff Seldin (@jseldin) June 7, 2021U.S. officials have yet to confirm Shekau’s death, though they tell VOA the sourcing for such reports appear to be more credible than previous claims of his demise.Yet while U.S. officials and experts say Shekau’s death would be a positive development, they caution that the danger from terror groups like IS-West Africa are far from gone.“The Islamic State’s presence in Africa has been clear and steadily growing, even as IS Central’s power has waned,” said Jason Warner, lead Africa researcher at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center.“The sheer number of IS African provinces and wings with clear staying power has arguably created an even more intractable threat from IS than we’ve seen in the past,” he added, noting the threat in Africa “is arguably at its pinnacle right now.”Yet, other experts worry that the Defeat ISIS coalition’s focus on Africa, first suggested by U.S. officials in late 2019, may be a case of too little, too late.“We agreed at the working level that West #Africa & the #Sahel would be a preferred, initial area of focus for the Coalition outside of the #ISIS core space –& w/good reason” per @SecPompeo “ISIS is outpacing the ability of regional gvts and int’l partners to address the threat”— Jeff Seldin (@jseldin) November 14, 2019 “While it is good that the coalition is talking about Africa and bringing relevant countries into the discussion, any coordination seems to be still in the early stages, while the conditions on the ground are deteriorating very fast,” Emily Estelle, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told VOA.“The proposed task force should focus its energy on backing up military success with governance success,” she added. “This is the gap that lets IS and other groups keep coming back after military losses.”But there are questions about how much military might the coalition will be able to muster across Africa.France this month announced it would end its counterterrorism operation in the Sahel, and the U.S. military is still in the process of a posture review that could see more of its troops leave Africa.U.S. military officials have previously noted that the removal of U.S. forces from Somalia, ordered by former U.S. President Donald Trump, “has introduced new layers of complexity and risk.”And a report from the Pentagon’s inspector general late last year warned the terrorist threat across Africa was expanding, despite U.S. efforts to contain it.In a separate but related move Monday, the U.S. designated Ousmane Illiassou Djibo, a top official with IS in the Greater Sahara, as a specially designated global terrorist, describing him as the architect of a network to kidnap or kill westerners in Niger and surrounding areas.US designates a top #ISIS in the Greater Sahara (ISIS-GS) official as a Specially Designated Global TerroristPer @StateDept, Ousmane Illiassou Djibo –aka Petit Chapori – is a close collaborator/key lieutenant of ISIS-GS leader, Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi pic.twitter.com/ii9XEWXNB2— Jeff Seldin (@jseldin) June 28, 2021IS in SyriaDespite the focus on IS in Africa, U.S. officials have been warning of the ongoing threat from the terror group’s core leadership in Iraq and especially in Syria, where IS has been able to revive its fortunes in areas nominally controlled by the Syrian government and its Russian allies.There have also been persistent concerns about the 10,000 IS fighters, including 2,000 foreign fighters, being held by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, a situation Blinken described as untenable.“There is some urgency,” he told reporters. “There is a need for countries to take action to repatriate foreign fighters that come from those countries, to prosecute them where appropriate, to rehabilitate and reintegrate where appropriate.”AfghanistanThe Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS also expressed concerns about the terror group’s fortunes in Afghanistan, praising efforts by Kabul to counter the so-called Khorasan province.Earlier this month, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told lawmakers there was a “medium” risk of groups like IS-Khorasan regenerating the ability to threaten the West.Intelligence assessments from the U.S. and from United Nation member states have also warned of the affiliate’s ability to threaten both Afghanistan and the wider region.Cindy Saine, Chris Hannas contributed to this report 

your ad here

Judge Dismisses Government Antitrust Lawsuits Against Facebook

29
Jun,2021

0

A federal judge on Monday dismissed antitrust lawsuits brought against Facebook by the Federal Trade Commission and a coalition of state attorneys general, dealing a significant blow to attempts by regulators to rein in tech giants. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruled Monday that the lawsuits were “legally insufficient” and didn’t provide enough evidence to prove that Facebook was a monopoly. The ruling dismisses the complaint but not the case, meaning the FTC could refile another complaint. “These allegations — which do not even provide an estimated actual figure or range for Facebook’s market share at any point over the past 10 years — ultimately fall short of plausibly establishing that Facebook holds market power,” he said. The U.S. government and 48 states and districts sued Facebook in December 2020, accusing the tech giant of abusing its market power in social networking to crush smaller competitors and seeking remedies that could include a forced spinoff of the social network’s Instagram and WhatsApp messaging services. The FTC had alleged Facebook engaged in a “a systematic strategy” to eliminate its competition, including by purchasing smaller up-and-coming rivals like Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014. New York Attorney General Letitia James said when filing the suit that Facebook “used its monopoly power to crush smaller rivals and snuff out competition, all at the expense of everyday users.” Boasberg dismissed the separate complaint made by the state attorneys general, as well. 
 

your ad here

EU Warns Against COVID-19 Complacency as Delta Variant Spreads

29
Jun,2021

0

The vice president of the European Commission on Monday warned against complacency regarding the COVID-19 pandemic as the highly infectious delta variant, first discovered in India, continues to spread on the continent. During a European Union parliamentary committee meeting, European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas said a recent advisory from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) indicates the delta variant is expected to account for 70% of all new cases in Europe by August, and 90% by the end of that month.  He said ECDC modeling scenarios suggested that further relaxations of coronavirus safety restrictions would lead to “a significant increase in daily cases in all age groups with an associated increase in hospitalizations and probably deaths.” Schinas added he had doubts about London’s Wembley stadium hosting the semi-final or final match of the European soccer championship at high capacity. He said given Britain’s travel restrictions on travel to Europe, “there needs to be a certain amount of symmetry to these decisions.””I think here that UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) would do well to carefully analyze its decision,” he added. The British government has said Wembley will be allowed to hold the Euro 2020 semi-finals and final with at least 60,000 fans. Britain’s new Health Minister Sajid David told Parliament Monday he sees no reason why the government cannot go ahead with its plan to lift all restrictions in the country by July 19. This article contains content from The Associated Press and Reuters. 
 

your ad here