International News

International News (109)

England has lifted almost all its remaining COVID-19 restrictions on Monday, according to its roadmap out of lockdown despite a continued rise in the number of daily infections.

FREEDOM DAY
This Monday is being described by the British government as Freedom Day, where almost all legal restrictions on social contact have been removed.

The detailed arrangement of the final step out of lockdown includes: no more limits on social contact to allow people to gather in groups of any size; removing the “one meter-plus” rule in almost all settings, except for specific places such as airports; no capacity caps on large scale events; and people are no longer required to work from home, among other changes. Face coverings will be recommended in some spaces, but not required by law.

The government said the removal of restrictions is the right step, despite the rising number of infections in much of the country.

Reactions by members of the public towards Freedom Day are mixed with some saying the virus has more “freedom” than the public, but others look forward to a life resembling normalcy.

CAUTION STILL NEEDED
Although 46.2 million adults, or 87.8 per cent of the population, have had the first dose of a vaccine, and 35.7 million are fully vaccinated, medical experts urge the public to exercise caution.

“THREAT TO THE WORLD”
Hours ahead of England’s Freedom Day, Imperial College London epidemiologist Neil Ferguson warned that the current wave of coronavirus infections in Britain could see up to 200 000 new cases a day.

The UK government’s decision to lift virtually all of England’s pandemic restrictions was also criticised by international experts as “a threat to the world.”

Over 1 200 scientists have backed a letter in the journal The Lancet last week, saying that the UK’s plan to lift the restrictions is an “unethical experiment,” which poses a serious threat to the rest of the world.

Some said other countries will imitate England for political expediency.

Source: Pindula News; XINHUA《》RT

 

Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse has been killed in an attack on his home in the nation’s capital, according to the country’s interim prime minister.

Claude Joseph said the president’s residence in Port-au-Prince was stormed by unidentified armed men at 01:00 local time (05:00 GMT).

The First Lady was reportedly also injured in the attack.

Joseph said that “all measures had been taken to guarantee to continuance of the state”.

Jovenel Moïse, 53, had been in power since February 2017, after his predecessor, Michel Martelly stepped down.

Moïse’s time in office was rocky as he faced accusations of corruption and was challenged by waves of often violent anti-government protests.

There were widespread protests in the capital and other cities earlier this year, as people demanded his resignation.

Haiti’s opposition said that Moïse’s five-year term should have ended on 7 February 2021, five years to the day since Martelly stepped down.

Moïse, however, insisted he had one more year to serve as he did not take office until 7 February 2017.

The year-long delay was caused by allegations of electoral fraud which eventually saw the result of the 2015 election being annulled and fresh polls being held, which were won by Moïse.

Source: BBC《》RT

The Canadian military is on standby to help evacuate residents in British Columbia where wildfires linked to a record-breaking heatwave threaten to engulf communities.

Emergency services say they are now trying to control more than 170 fires, many triggered by lightning strikes.

Many western areas are tinder-dry followed the unprecedented hot weather.

Meanwhile, at least two people are reported to have died in the village of Lytton that was destroyed by fire.

Lytton recorded Canada's highest-ever temperature of 49.6C (121.3F) on Tuesday.

About 350 military personnel as well as aircraft are being readied to help threatened communities, Canadian defence Minister Harjit Sajjan told reporters.

The announcement came after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held emergency talks with ministers as well as provincial and indigenous leaders from affected areas.

"We will be there to help," he said.

Source: BBC《》RT

Colombia President Iván Duque escaped unhurt when his helicopter was shot at late Friday afternoon, in an attack that left bullet holes in the aircraft.

None of the passengers, including several top ministers, were killed, Duque said in a video address just after the attack.

He, however, did say not whether anyone had been injured in the attack which took place near the border with Venezuela.

Duque called the shooting “cowardly” and vowed to continue “the fight against narcotrafficking, against terrorism and against the organized crime groups that operate in the country.”

The attack Friday took place as Duque was flying to the border city of Cúcuta from the town of Sardinata in the troubled region of Catatumbo, where the coca crops that are used to make cocaine flourish, as do the armed groups that control the drug trade, New York Times reported.

These groups include members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, as well as the National Liberation Army, known as the ELN.

In 2016, Duque’s predecessor, Juan Manuel Santos, signed a peace deal with FARC but some of the group’s members did not sign the peace deal and violence has continued.

The Colombian government has fought left-wing guerrillas, drug cartels, paramilitary operations and other criminal elements for generations.

Source: New York Times《》RT

 

The number of deaths related to Covid-19 has passed 500,000 in Brazil, the second highest in the world, as experts say the outbreak could worsen amid slow vaccination and the start of winter.

The virus continues to spread as President Jair Bolsonaro refuses to back measures like social distancing.

The health institute Fiocruz says the situation is “critical”. Only 15% of adults are fully vaccinated.

Congress is investigating the government’s handling of the pandemic.

Dr. Natalia Pasternak Taschner, a microbiologist at the Question of Science Institute, told the BBC she saw little sign that the rise in victims would slow.

“People in Brazil are tired and they normalise death now, so I think we still have a long way to go,” she said.

“If we’re not successful in changing the behaviour of people and if we don’t have campaigns for mask wearing, social distancing and vaccinations coming directly from the central government we’re not going to be able to control it.”

President Bolsonaro has been heavily criticised for not implementing a coordinated national response and for his scepticism toward vaccines, lockdowns and mask-wearing requirements, which he has sought to loosen.

In rallies in Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia and elsewhere, furious Brazilians carried banners with slogans like “Bolsonaro must go” or simply “500,000”.

“His position on Covid and his denialism are absurd. He has abandoned reality and common sense. There is no explaining this, it is surreal,” Robert Almeida, a 50-year-old marching in Rio, told AFP.

Protester Denise Azevedo told Reuters: “Herd immunity won’t do any good. The only immunity you can get is with the vaccine. There is no early treatment. I have lost millions of friends, almost lost a cousin… people are orphans, fatherless, motherless, and childless.”

The president has said the impact of lockdowns on the economy would be worse than the virus and insists he has done all he can to buy vaccines from several countries.

But the opposition accuses him of delaying vaccine orders for political reasons, as he has consistently played down the severity of the pandemic.

The outbreak in Brazil has been fuelled by more transmissible variants of the virus, including the one first identified in the Amazon region and now known as Gamma. An average of 70,000 cases has been confirmed daily in the last week.

“Brazil faces a critical scenario of community transmission… with the possibility of worsening in the coming weeks due to the start of winter,” Fiocruz said.

The rate of occupancy of intensive care unit beds remains at or above 80% in most states, and experts warn the start of winter in the southern hemisphere, next week, could result in more infections.

In a tweet, Lidiane Cunha said her dad had waited four days for intensive care before he died in a crowded hospital unit in Brazil. “I keep thinking that had he received proper care earlier, he would have been alive,” she wrote.

On Twitter, Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga expressed solidarity with the “fathers, mothers, friends and relatives” of those who had died, saying: “500,000 lives lost due to the pandemic that affects our Brazil and the whole world.”

Only the US has reported more deaths related to Covid-19.

The seven-day daily average of deaths in Brazil has been above 1,500 since March. Gonzalo Vecina, the former head of the health regulator Anvisa, said the slow progress of the vaccine programme had and would continue to cost lives.

“There are 500,000 deaths, and unfortunately, it will continue to increase because it will take some time to increase vaccination coverage. Maybe this year will also be difficult because we depend on the delivery of vaccines, which were purchased very late,” he said.

Source: BBC《》RT

Kim Jong-un admits North Korea facing a 'tense' food shortage

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has formally acknowledged that his country is facing food shortages.

Addressing a meeting of senior leaders, Mr Kim said: "The people's food situation is now getting tense".

He said the agricultural sector had failed to meet its grain targets due to typhoons last year, which caused flooding.

There are reports that food prices have spiked, with NK News reporting that a kilogram of bananas costs $45 (£32).

North Korea has closed its borders to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Trade with China has plummeted as a result. North Korea relies on China for food, fertilizer and fuel.

North Korea is also struggling under international sanctions, imposed because of its nuclear programmes.

The authoritarian leader of the single-party state talked about the food situation at the ruling Workers' Party central committee which started this week in the capital Pyongyang.

During the meeting, Mr Kim said that national industrial output had grown by a quarter compared to the same period last year.

Officials were expected to discuss relations with the US and South Korea during the event but no details have been released yet.

In April, Mr Kim made a a rare admission of looming hardship, calling on officials to "wage another, more difficult 'Arduous March' in order to relieve our people of the difficulty, even a little".

The Arduous March is a term used by North Korea officials to refer to the country's struggle during the 1990s famine, when the fall of the Soviet Union left North Korea without crucial aid.

The total number of North Koreans who starved to death at the time is not known, but estimates range up to three million.

Source: BBC《》RT

 

Benjamin Netanyahu has lost his 12-year hold on power in Israel after the country’s parliament voted in a new coalition government.

A new “government of change” will be led by right-wing nationalist Naftali Bennett of the Yamina party.

He will lead an unprecedented coalition of parties which was approved with a razor-thin majority of 60-59.

Bennett will be prime minister until September 2023 as part of a power-sharing deal.

He will then hand power over to Yair Lapid, leader of the centrist Yesh Atid, for a further two years.

Netanyahu – Israel’s longest-serving leader who has dominated its political landscape for years – will remain head of the right-wing Likud party and become leader of the opposition.

During the debate in the Knesset (parliament), a defiant Netanyahu promised: “We’ll be back.”

US President Joe Biden has already sent his congratulations, saying he looks forward to working with Bennett.

Why has this happened?

Netanyahu has served a record-breaking five terms, first from 1996 to 1999, then continuously from 2009 to 2021.

He called an election in April 2019 but failed to win enough support to form a new coalition government. Two more elections followed, each of which ended inconclusively.

The third election resulted in a government of national unity where Netanyahu agreed to share power with the then-opposition leader Benny Gantz. But the arrangement collapsed in December, triggering a fourth election.

Although Likud emerged as the largest party in the 120-seat Knesset, Mr Netanyahu was again unable to form a governing coalition and the task was handed to Lapid, whose centrist Yesh Atid party had emerged as the second largest.

Opposition to Netanyahu staying in power had grown, not just among the left and centre but also among right-wing parties that are ordinarily ideologically aligned to Likud, including Yamina.

Although Yamina came joint fifth in the election with only seven seats, its support was critical if any potential coalition government was to have a majority in parliament. After weeks of negotiations, Lapid brought Yamina on board as part of a constellation of parties whose only common goal was to remove Netanyahu from office.

The agreement involving eight factions with the 61 seats required for a majority was signed on 2 June, just half an hour before a deadline was due to expire, effectively sealing Netanyahu’s fate.

What will the new government be like?

In appearance, Bennett’s government will be unlike any which has preceded it in Israel’s 73-year history.

The alliance contains parties which have vast ideological differences, and perhaps most significantly includes the first independent Arab party to be part of a potential ruling coalition, Raam. It is also expected to have a record number of eight female ministers.

The inclusion of Raam and left-wing non-Arab Israeli parties means there could be friction on issues such as Israeli policies towards Palestinians – Yamina and another right-wing party, New Hope, are staunch supporters of Jewish settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, for instance.

There could also be difficulties over social policies – while some parties want to advance gay rights, such as recognising same sex marriages, Raam, an Islamist party, is against this.

In addition, some parties want to relax religious restrictions more extensively than Yamina – a national-religious party – will likely allow.

Bennett has indicated his government would focus on areas where agreement was possible, like economic issues or the coronavirus pandemic, while avoiding more contentious matters.

“Nobody will have to give up their ideology,” he recently said, “but all will have to postpone the realisation of some of their dreams… We’ll focus on what can be achieved, rather than arguing about what cannot.”

Source: BBC《》RT

The man who slapped French President Emmanuel Macron across the face this week has been jailed for 18 months, 14 of which were suspended.

The 28-year-old Damien Tarel, a medieval history enthusiast, has been in custody since the assault on Tuesday which a prosecutor called “absolutely unacceptable” and “an act of deliberate violence”.

Earlier, Tarel told the court in Valence in southern France, that he acted because the president stood for all that was rotten with France.

Tarel said that several days ahead of Macron’s visit to the Drome region of southern France, he had thought about throwing an egg or a cream tart at the president, but added the slap was not premeditated. He told the court, according to BFM TV:

I think that Macron represents very neatly the decay of our country. If I had challenged Macron to a duel at sunrise, I doubt he would have responded.

French President Macron Slapped In The Face During Trip To South
Zimbabwean prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa “named” France’s next president
Macron has described the attack as an isolated incident and said violence and hate were a threat to democracy.

His office did not respond to a request for comment on Tarel’s courtroom remarks.

Tarel faced a charge of assault against a public official, an offence which carries a maximum sentence of three years in jail and a 45 000 euro fine.

He was arrested along with a second man from his hometown of Saint-Vallier.

Police found weapons, a copy of Adolf Hitler’s autobiographical manifesto Mein Kampf and a red flag with a golden hammer and a sickle that is the symbol of the communist movement in the second man’s home.

The second man will not face any charges related to the slapping but will be prosecuted for illegal possession of arms in 2022.

Source: Pindula News; Reuters; France24《》RT

 

French President Emmanuel Macron was slapped in the face by a man on Tuesday during a visit to a small town in southeastern France, France24 reports.

Macron was greeting the public waiting for him behind barriers in the town of Tain-l’Hermitage after he visited a high school that is training students to work in hotels and restaurants.

French news broadcaster BFM TV said two people have been detained by police.

The man, who was wearing a mask, appears to have cried out “Montjoie! Saint Denis!” a centuries-old royalist war cry, before finishing with “A bas la Macronie,” or “Down with Macron.”

The incident prompted a wide show of support for French politicians from all sides, with far-right leader Marine Le Pen describing it on Twitter as “intolerable physical aggression targeting the president of the Republic.”

Former President Francois Hollande of the Socialist Party tweeted that the assault is an “unbearable and intolerable blow against our institutions … The entire nation must show solidarity with the head of state.”

Source: France24.com《》RT

 

Prince Harry has been told he should move to Zimbabwe following his remarks on the United States’ First Amendment that protects freedom of speech, the press, assembly, and the right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Joe Siracusa, a professor at Curtin University in Perth, Australia, said the Duke of Sussex should not have gone to the United States if he did not want to be in the news.

Professor Siracusa said the Duke’s whole life has been under the microscope, so he moved to the US with his wife Meghan Markle, where there is “freedom of expression”.He told Sky News Australia:

If Harry doesn’t understand that he’s in the crosshairs of the American paparazzi, that is the American media, then he ought to go for a long walk somewhere and move to Zimbabwe or some Asian village or maybe some Chinese fishing village somewhere.

Because he’s going to be news now.
I find him completely unremarkable myself.

Siracusa made the remarks after Harry had criticised the amendment describing it as crazy. The Duke’s remarks led to a huge backlash and claims it could threaten his popularity in America.

Harry, 36, appeared to blast the US constitution during a chat with actor Dax Shepherd on the Armchair Expert podcast. He said:

I’ve got so much I want to say about the First Amendment as I sort of understand it, but it is bonkers.

I don’t want to start going down the First Amendment route because that’s a huge subject and one which I don’t understand because I’ve only been here a short time, but you can find a loophole in anything.

Harry is advised to move to Zimbabwe a Southern African country whose government is accused of infringing the freedom of speech, the press, and assembly.

Source: Pindula News; Daily Star《》RT

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