Category Archives: World

Judge weakens Trump travel ban

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The ruling means grandparents and other relatives of people in the US can now visit

Grandparents and other relatives of people living in the US cannot be barred from entering under President Trump’s travel ban, a judge has ruled.

The order, by District Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii, is a fresh legal blow to Mr Trump’s immigration crackdown.

The judge said the ban had interpreted a Supreme Court ruling too narrowly.

That decision, made last month, partly reinstated the ban on refugees and travellers from six Muslim-majority countries.

It said only those with “bona fide” family ties would be let into the US.

But the Trump administration decided that did not include grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces and cousins.

Judge Watson, however, disagreed – and ordered that those restrictions should not be enforced.

The judge condemned the government’s definition of a close relative as “unduly restrictive”.

“Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents. Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members”, he wrote.

Judge Watson’s ruling has far-reaching consequences for the United States, and not just Hawaii.

He is one of about 700 judges in the district courts, which – despite the name – are part of the federal system, rather than local state courts. Their role is to interpret the law on federal issues using powers devolved to them by the Supreme Court.

Mr Trump’s ban on travel to the US for people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen has been controversial since its announcement.

The Supreme Court is still considering the current version of the law, and allowed a temporary ban to come into effect in June pending their full judgement.

Mr Trump says the restrictions are needed to keep America safe and prevent terror attacks.

However, critics including states and refugee advocacy groups have said the ban discriminates against Muslims.

An initial version of the ban, published in January, sparked mass protests at airports and a series of legal challenges that prevented its implementation.

Mr Trump drafted a new version in March, dropping Iraq from the list of countries, clarifying the position of “green card” holders, removing priority for “religious minorities” in mostly-Muslim countries, and softening a tough stance on Syrian refugees.

But courts struck down the new version within days, with a Virginia court claiming it was “rooted in religious animus” toward Muslims.

That prompted the Trump administration to go to the Supreme Court for a ruling, where conservatives hold a majority of five to four.

The nation’s highest court allowed the ban to go ahead temporarily, until it makes a full decision in October.

Source BBC

White House mood is fantastic, Trump says

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President Donald Trump says the mood in the White House is “fantastic” despite intense scrutiny of his campaign’s alleged dealings with Russia.

He told Reuters the administration was “functioning beautifully”.

The president also defended his son, who it has emerged met a Russian lawyer during the election campaign.

US media describe the White House as being in chaos over the story, with a Trump ally calling it a “Category 5 hurricane”, the Washington Post said.

Donald Trump Jr met Natalia Veselnitskaya believing she had information that would damage his father’s opponent Hillary Clinton.

Mr Trump Jr told Fox News the meeting was “such a nothing”, and “a wasted 20 minutes”, but accepted he should have handled it differently.

Critics say he may have broken federal laws.

US intelligence believe Moscow tried to sway the 2016 election in Mr Trump’s favour and there are ongoing investigations into potential links between Mr Trump’s campaign team and Russia.

Moscow has repeatedly denied the claims.

President Trump’s latest comments come at the start of his two-day trip to France. He is meeting French counterpart Emmanuel Macron ahead of Bastille Day celebrations on Friday, which will commemorate the entry 100 years ago of US troops into World War One.

Despite early tensions over climate change and trade, President Macron has made more of an effort recently to woo Mr Trump in a bid to boost France’s influence on the world stage, says the BBC’s Lucy Williamson in Paris.

Before he left Washington on Wednesday, President Trump sought to dispel media reports saying his administration was in crisis over alleged collusion between his campaign team and Russia, telling Reuters it was “a hoax made up by the Democrats”.

He has previously suggested other agents may have meddled in the election, despite senior officials in his own administration blaming Russia.

Mr Trump said he had not been aware of his son’s meeting with Ms Veselnitskaya until a couple of days ago.

Defending Donald Jr’s decision to attend, he added: “Many people, and many political pros, said everybody would do that.”

The president described the election campaign as “a wild time” when “we would meet with many people”.

He refused to say that he regretted Donald Jr’s actions, commenting: “Most of the phony politicians who are Democrats who I watched over the last couple of days… would have taken that meeting in a heartbeat.”

More at BBC.com

Trump sued for blocking people on Twitter

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The president’s personal Twitter account has a huge 33.7 million followers

Seven Twitter users are suing the US president, Donald Trump, saying their right to free speech has been violated.

Mr Trump has been party to an eye-watering 4,000 lawsuits over the last 30 years, US media say.

And now the mogul turned commander-in-chief has attracted one more, after seven people sued him for blocking them on Twitter.

Mr Trump is an avid user of the social media forum, which he deploys to praise allies and lambast critics.

The lawsuit was filed by the Knight First Amendment Institute, a free speech group at Columbia University.

The seven Twitter users involved claim their accounts were blocked by the president, or his aides, after they replied to his tweets with mocking or critical comments.

People on Twitter are unable to see or respond to tweets from accounts that block them.

The legal complaint argues that by blocking these individuals, Mr Trump has barred them from joining the online conversation.

It calls the move an attempt to “suppress dissent” in a public forum – and a violation of their First Amendment right to free speech.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and the president’s social media director Daniel Scavino are also named in the lawsuit.

Last month, Mr Spicer said Mr Trump’s tweets were considered “official statements by the president of the United States”.

The president’s @realDonaldTrump Twitter account has 33.7m followers, while the official @POTUS account has 19.3m.

Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute, said the president’s love of Twitter means it has become “an important source of news and information about the government”.

“The First Amendment applies to this digital forum in the same way it applies to town halls and open school board meetings,” he said.

“The White House acts unlawfully when it excludes people from this forum simply because they’ve disagreed with the president.”

According to the institute, the account’s blocking habit should be a concern for everyone.
Why? Because even if they can read the president’s tweets, what they see has been consciously cleansed of criticism.

Source BBC

Belgian face veil ban backed in European court ruling

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Two women show fines imposed for wearing niqabs in Brussels in 2011. The fines were paid by French businessman Rachid Nekkaz (C)

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Belgium’s ban on face veils does not violate the European Convention on Human Rights.

It was a ruling in a case brought by two women who wanted to wear the niqab veil, which covers all but the eyes.

Belgium banned the wearing of partial or total face veils in public in 2011.

The court agreed that the ban sought to guarantee the concept of “living together” and the “protection of the rights and freedoms of others”.

The court came to a similar judgement on Tuesday in the case of a Belgian woman who was contesting a bylaw brought in by three Belgian municipalities in 2008 that also banned face veils.

The European Court of Human Rights is an international court set up in 1959 and rules on individual or state applications alleging violations of the civil and political rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights.

Belgian MPs approved the ban in 2011 on the grounds of security, to allow police to identify people, although some also argued the veil was a symbol of the oppression of women.

The latest case brought against Belgium was filed by Belgian national Samia Belcacemi, who lives in Schaerbeek, and Moroccan national Yamina Oussar, who lives in Liège.

Ms Belcacemi removed her veil fearing she might be fined or jailed, while Ms Oussar opted to stay at home, curtailing her social life, the court noted.

In its ruling, the court took into consideration a previous ruling it had made in a similar case brought against France over its imposition of a veil ban.

It noted: “The court found that the concern to ensure respect for the minimum guarantees of life in society could be regarded as an element of the ‘protection of the rights and freedoms of others’ and that the ban was justifiable in principle, solely to the extent that it sought to guarantee the conditions of ‘living together’.”

In the second case, the court made a similar ruling against the application brought by Belgian national Fouzia Dakir against the ban imposed by the municipalities of Pepinster, Dison and Verviers in 2008.

An appeal against the rulings can be lodged with the Grand Chamber of the court within three months.

In March, Europe’s top court, the European Court of Justice (ECJ), ruled that workplace bans on the wearing of “any political, philosophical or religious sign” such as headscarves need not constitute direct discrimination.

However, it said such bans must be based on internal company rules requiring all employees to “dress neutrally”.

Source: BBC

Measles ‘tragedy’ kills 35 across Europe

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Thirty-five people have died in the past year from measles outbreaks across Europe, the World Health Organization has warned.

It described the deaths – which can be prevented with vaccination – as an “unacceptable tragedy”.

A six-year-old boy in Italy was the latest to die from the infection. More than 3,300 measles cases have been recorded in the country.

The most fatalities – 31 – have been in Romania.

But there have also been deaths in Germany and Portugal since June 2016.

Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, the WHO regional director for Europe, said: “Every death or disability caused by this vaccine-preventable disease is an unacceptable tragedy.

“We are very concerned that although a safe, effective and affordable vaccine is available, measles remains a leading cause of death among children worldwide, and unfortunately Europe is not spared.

“I urge all endemic countries to take urgent measures to stop transmission of measles within their borders, and all countries that have already achieved this to keep up their guard and sustain high immunisation coverage.”

Measles is highly contagious, but vaccinating 95% of the population should prevent it spreading.

Germany is looking at tightening the law on immunisations.

And the government in Italy is pushing for children to be vaccinated against 12 common illnesses before they can enrol for state-run schools.

Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni blamed a decrease in vaccinations in part on a “spread of anti-scientific theories”.

A lingering false belief that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab causes autism is largely to blame, despite the claims being disproven and the doctor who made them being struck off.

What is measles?

  • Unvaccinated young children are at highest risk of measles and its complications, including death
  • Measles is spread by direct contact and through the air by coughs and sneezes
  • The virus remains active and contagious on infected surfaces for up to two hours
  • The first signs of infection are usually a high fever and cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose
  • You may notice small white spots on the inside of the cheeks as well
  • After several days, a rash develops, usually on the face and neck first and then spreading to the body and limbs
  • An infected person can pass on the virus to others from four days prior to developing the skin rash to four days after the rash erupts
  • There is no treatment, but two doses of vaccine can prevent infection in the first place

Source: BBC

Lions escape from South Africa’s Kruger National Park

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It is feared the lions will try to kill livestock on farms near Matsulu photo: GETTY IMAGES

South African wildlife rangers are searching for four male lions that escaped from a national park.

The lions escaped from Kruger National Park on Sunday night and were last seen in the village of Matsulu, South African National Parks said in a statement.

It warned residents to “exercise extra caution”.

It is not yet clear how the lions escaped from the park, which is largely fenced off.

Kruger National Park (KNP) is one of the biggest game reserves in Africa, covering an area of 7,523 sq miles (19,485 sq km).

“KNP Rangers and their counterparts at the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) are in the area searching for the lions and we will give details as soon as they have appraised us,” KNP spokesperson William Mabasa said in the statement.

“SANParks would like to reiterate that residents should be extra vigilant and report any sightings of these dangerous predators to the authorities.”

The latest escape comes after five lions broke out of the same park in May. Four of them were caught but the fifth is still unaccounted for.

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Kenya’s president warns judiciary not to help opposition

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Kenya’s president has warned the country’s judiciary not to help the opposition throw the next election into disarray.

The presidential poll will take place next month and Uhuru Kenyatta is seeking re-election.

On Friday, after a case brought by the opposition, the High Court ordered the electoral commission not to print ballot papers.

Mr Kenyatta insisted the election would go ahead as planned.

“This kind of intimidation will not be allowed and the election date will not change,” he said.

He said the judiciary could not claim independence and then use it to interfere with the functioning of the executive and other arms of government.

The High Court argued that the tendering process for the ballot papers had not been transparent enough.

The opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) alleged that the president had links to Al Ghurair, the Dubai-based firm that won the $24m (£18m) tender.

Al Ghurair and Mr Kenyatta deny any wrongdoing.

The judges ruled that the company could still print ballots for the parliamentary and county elections, but the tender for presidential ballots should be re-advertised.

Local media have reported that whoever takes on the job of printing and distributing the ballot papers will have just 30 days to do what is usually a 45-day task.

In a separate development, Raila Odinga, Mr Kenyatta’s main contender, was taken ill and admitted to hospital on Sunday with what his campaign team said was suspected food poisoning.

Mr Odinga, speaking shortly after he was discharged from the hospital in the coastal city of Mombasa, said that he was “fit as a fiddle”.

“I had stomach pains, which have since disappeared after getting treatment,” Mr Odinga said, adding: “I have been discharged to go to Nairobi to continue with my campaigns.”

Meanwhile, several people have reportedly been killed in clashes between rival political groups, rekindling memories of post-election violence in 2007-2008 that left more than 1,000 people dead.

Source: BBC

Queen Elizabeth picks Ghanaian for top post at Buckingham Palace

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Twumasi-Ankrah’s royal career so far has included acting as escort commander at the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall’s wedding in 2011

The Queen of England has picked the first black man to hold the role of equerry, one of the most important positions in the royal household.

Ghanaian-born Major Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah, an Afghanistan war veteran and officer from the Household Cavalry, is thought to be preparing to take over the role from Wing Commander Sam Fletcher later this year.

Twumasi-Ankrah’s royal career so far has included acting as escort commander at the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall’s wedding in 2011, as well as commanding the Blues and Royals at the Queen’s birthday parade – but his new role will mean he could spend more time at Her Majesty’s side than even her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh.

Since Prince Philip announced that he will be stepping down from public duties this autumn, the new equerry could be the most visible man by the monarch’s side.

Twumasi-Ankrah, 38, told the Sunday Times that as a young child he used to watch the trooping of the colour with fascination.

He said: ‘I would have never imagined that one day I’d command the regiment which I’d fallen in love with.

Major Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah looking dapper at Royal Ascot in 2015.

‘From what I’ve seen in the UK, our cultures really do mix and if I’m not a good example of that I really don’t know what is.’

The paper said the Queen is thought to have picked Twumasi-Ankrah personally from a group of candidates.

The role of equerry, which involves personally assisting the Queen in her public duties, has often been associated with scandal.

The paper said the Queen is thought to have picked Twumasi-Ankrah personally from a group of candidates.

The role of equerry, which involves personally assisting the Queen in her public duties, has often been associated with scandal.

The pair separated because the conservative times meant she could not wed a divorcee.

In another more recent scandal in the role of equerry, Major Simon Robinson resigned from his post in 2010 following the break up of his marriage.

He lost his coveted ‘job for life’ as Crown Equerry amid speculation at the time of an extra-marital affair, which he denied furiously.

Source MailOnline

Vatican outlaws gluten-free bread for Holy Communion

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Bread used to celebrate the Eucharist during Roman Catholic Mass must not be gluten-free – although it may be made from genetically modified organisms, the Vatican has ruled.

In a letter to bishops, Cardinal Robert Sarah said the bread can be low-gluten.

But he said there must be enough protein in the wheat to make it without additives.

The new rules are needed because the bread is now sold in supermarkets and on the internet, the cardinal said.

Roman Catholics believe bread and wine served at the Eucharist are converted into the body and blood of Christ through a process known as transubstantiation.

The wine used must also be “natural, from the fruit of the grape, pure and incorrupt, not mixed with other substances”, said Cardinal Robert Sarah of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

The ruling was issued at the request of Pope Francis, the letter said.

There are about 1.2 billion Roman Catholics around the world.

Source: BBC

More rain due as deadly floods hit Japan

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More rain is expected on Kyushu island at the weekend

The death toll from flooding caused by recent heavy rain in southern Japan has risen to at least 15, officials say.

Emergency teams are searching for another 15 people who are missing.

Rivers burst their banks, destroying buildings and roads after more than 50cm (20in) of rain fell on parts of Kyushu, Japan’s southernmost island, over a 12-hour period on Wednesday.

Rescuers are working through thick mud to try to reach stranded survivors. Hundreds have already been evacuated.

The worst-hit areas are in Fukuoka prefecture.

Announcing the revised death toll, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the region was expected to see further heavy rain on Saturday.

About 12,000 police, military, firefighters and coast guard personnel have taking part in the rescue operation.

Source: BBC