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Urgent action required to combat growing racism in EU

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racism in EU
© Press TV

Jerome Hughes, Brussels

Xenophobia means a dislike of people from other countries. However, the vast majority of individuals who experience racism and discrimination in the EU were actually born in the country in which they were targeted. There is ample evidence that racism is on the rise within the 27-nation bloc. It’s claimed urgent action is required.

The European Commission has just launched an anti-racism initiative. It involves developing an action plan to secure equality for ethnic and racial minorities, a study into the root causes of discrimination, and working with media to avoid the perpetuation of negative stereotypes and biases. We have been getting the views of citizens on the subject.

Financial crises always fuel xenophobia, racism, religious intolerance and extreme politics. Rights campaigners say that is why it is so important for EU leaders to try and minimize the impact of the current COVID-19 economic emergency.

The European Commission admits, in the EU, racism acts as a barrier to housing, education and public services. The point has been made, people are not born racist. So, education as early as possible in a child’s life is seen as crucial.

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Prince Andrew urged to ‘be a man’ and ‘speak up’ on Epstein

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Prince Andrew Epstein

Ghislaine Maxwell, a long-time friend of Prince Andrew, 60, who introduced him to Epstein, is accused of helping the convicted paedophile by identifying, befriending and grooming victims as young as 14, allegations she has previously denied. It is alleged she also participated in the sexual abuse.

Maxwell has been charged with facilitating former boyfriend Epstein’s sexual exploitation of underage girls and remains in custody.

Gloria Allred, representing a number of the alleged victims, has demanded Prince Andrew “be a man”, “speak up” and stop “deliberately avoiding” US authorities.

US prosecutors have said they would “welcome” a statement from the royal in relation to the criminal investigation into Epstein’s alleged co-conspirators.

“He needs to do it without delay. It is so traumatising and difficult for the victims not to know the truth,” Allred told ITV’s Good Morning. “And this kind of torture test that Prince Andrew is subjecting the victims to, like he will or he won’t give a statement, if he will, when?”

Lisa Bloom, representing six women, also urged Andrew to come clean on what he witnessed while visiting Epstein’s homes in New York, Palm Beach, Florida and the US Virgin Islands. Brad Edwards, another of the alleged victims’ lawyers, said, “There’s no doubt he’s deliberately evading authorities.”

Blackfords, the London-based criminal law specialists, alleged the US Department of Justice (DoJ) had effectively rejected three offers of help volunteered by the prince this year.

On Friday, a source close to Andrew’s legal working group said, “The duke has offered his assistance to the DoJ investigation on a number of occasions this year. In addition, the working group have pro-actively contacted the DoJ twice in the last month and have received no response. That is why we remain utterly bewildered by the DoJ’s approach. However, a request from a commercial law firm is not and never will be the same as an official judicial process.”

The prime minister asserts the government had not been approached by the US authorities to interview Andrew.

“No such approach has been made and otherwise it really is a matter for the royal family,” he told LBC, declining to comment further.

The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, also urged the duke to co-operate.

“We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact of who the victims are, the victims were children at the time – vulnerable children, young women – and it’s really important that anybody who’s got information helps the FBI and that includes Prince Andrew as well,” he said.

Maxwell was arrested in a dawn raid on a 156-acre, $1m property called Tuckedaway in Bradford, New Hampshire on Thursday.

Her considerable wealth came to light in written court documents used by prosecutor deny her bail over fears she was a flight risk. It was claimed she had passports for three countries – the UK, the US and France – and more than 15 different bank accounts associated with her from 2016 until the present. They contained amounts from “hundreds of thousands of dollars to more than £20m.”

Prince Andrew Epstein

She is said to have transferred “hundreds of thousands of dollars” between these accounts, and had one or more foreign bank accounts with more than $1m. The prosecution maintains that from 2007 to 2011, more than $20m was moved from accounts linked to Epstein to accounts linked to Maxwell.

According to the indictment, three unnamed minors were allegedly “induced and enticed” by Maxwell, who “facilitated” for them to be groomed by Epstein between 1994 and 1997 at his properties in Manhattan, Palm Beach in Florida, Santa Fe in New Mexico, as well as Maxwell’s London townhouse.

The unnamed victims on the indictment do not include Virginia Giuffre, who was pictured in 2001 with Andrew’s arm around her at Maxwell’s London home. Giuffre alleges she had sex with the duke when trafficked by Epstein aged 17, a claim Andrew has categorically denied.

Maxwell faces six counts: conspiracy to entice minors, and enticement of a minor, to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy to transport minors, and transportation of a minor, with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and two of perjury. If convicted she faces up to 35 years.

She has previously denied any wrongdoing.

The renewed media attention drawn by Prince Andrew concludes a particularly troublesome week for the royal family. A week in which the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, in her case against Associated Newspapers, revealed she felt “unprotected” by the royal family from claims made in the UK tabloid press against her while she was pregnant.

Meghan is suing the publishers of the Mail on Sunday and Mail Online over the publication of extracts from a private handwritten letter she sent to her estranged father, Thomas Markle.

Prince Andrew Epstein

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EU gives conditional approval for use of COVID-19 anti-viral remdesivir

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COVID-19 anti-viral remdesivir
In this file photo taken on April 08, 2020, one vial of the drug remdesivir lies during a press conference about the start of a study with the Ebola drug remdesivir in particularly severely ill patients at the University Hospital Eppendorf (UKE) in Hamburg, northern Germany, amid the new coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by AFP)

The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, on Friday authorized the use of anti-viral drug remdesivir to treat the new coronavirus.

“Today’s authorization of a first medicine to treat COVID-19 is an important step forward in the fight against this virus,” EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said in a statement.

“We are granting this authorization less than a month after the application was submitted, showing clearly the EU’s determination to respond quickly whenever new treatments become available,” she said.

COVID-19 anti-viral remdesivir

At least two major US studies have shown that remdesivir can reduce the duration of hospital stays for COVID-19 patients.

Washington authorized the emergency use of the medicine — which was originally intended as a treatment for Ebola — on May 1, followed by several Asian nations including Japan and South Korea.

The green light comes on the recommendation of the European Medicines Agency which gave its conditional authorization last week for the treatment of patients above 12 years of age who are suffering pneumonia and require extra oxygen.

It said its assessment was based mainly on data from a study sponsored by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

The research, published in the leading journal the New England Journal of Medicine in May, showed that injections of remdesivir speeded patient recovery compared with a placebo.

On average it reduced patients’ hospital stays from 15 days to 11.

More than 11.019 million people have been infected globally and more than 520,000 have died since the COVID-19 disease first emerged in China.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on June 26 warned about a “significant resurgence” of cases of the new coronavirus in nearly a dozen European nations, saying the risk of another outbreak has now become a “reality.”

WHO regional director for Europe Hans Henri Kluge said in a statement, “For weeks I have spoken about the risk of resurgence as countries adjust to measures.”

COVID-19 anti-viral remdesivir

Source: AFP

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Turkey begins trial of Saudi officials in Jamal Khasshoggi’s case

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Turkey begins trial of Saudi
Hatice Cengiz, the fiancée of the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, leaves the Justice Palace after attending a trial on the killing of Khashoggi at the Saudi Arabian Consulate, in Istanbul, Turkey, on July 3, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

A Turkish court put 20 Saudi officials on trial in absentia on Friday for the gruesome killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which sparked international outrage and tarnished the image of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler.

Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, when he went there seeking papers for his marriage. Some Western governments, as well as the CIA, said they believed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the hit — an accusation Saudi officials denied.

Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz waited unknowing outside the consulate while, according to prosecutors, he was suffocated and his body was dismembered.

Turkey begins trial of Saudi officials

The indictment accuses two top Saudi officials, former deputy head of Saudi Arabia’s general intelligence Ahmed al-Asiri and former royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani, of instigating “premeditated murder with monstrous intent.”

It says 18 other defendants were flown to Turkey to kill Khashoggi, a prominent and well-connected journalist who had grown increasingly critical of the crown prince.

The defendants are being tried in absentia and are unlikely ever to be handed over by Saudi Arabia, which has accused Turkey of failing to cooperate with a separate, largely secretive, trial in Riyadh last year.

In December, a Saudi court sentenced five people to death and three to jail for the killing, but Khashoggi’s family later said they forgave his murderers, effectively granting them a formal reprieve under Saudi law.

Rights campaigners hope that the Istanbul trial will throw a fresh spotlight on the case and strengthen the argument for sanctions against Riyadh or the use of universal jurisdiction, which could lead to the suspects’ arrest if they travel abroad.

“Justice in these complex environments is not delivered overnight,” Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, told Reuters on the eve of the trial.

“But a good process here can build up what can happen in five years, in 10 years, whenever the circumstances are stronger.”

Cengiz told Reuters this week she hoped the trial would reveal fresh evidence about her fiancé’s killing, in particular over how his body was disposed of. Turkish officials have said the killers may have tried to burn his remains or dissolve them in acid.

Zeki Demir, a local technician who worked for the consulate, told the court on Friday he had been called to the consul’s residence, close to the consulate itself, on the day of the killing.

“There were five to six people there… They asked me to light up the tandoor (oven). There was an air of panic,” he said.

According to the indictment, Demir also reported seeing many skewers of meat, and noticed that the marble slabs around the oven appeared to have changed color as if they had been cleaned with a chemical.

Turkey begins trial of Saudi officials

(Source: Reuters)

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