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Britain Becomes 1st Nation to Approve New COVID-19 Vaccine Developed by Pfizer and BioNTech

On December 2, 2020, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

Britain has given emergency approval to a new COVID-19 vaccine developed by U.S.-based pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, becoming the world’s first western nation ready to begin mass inoculations against a disease that has sickened nearly 64 million people worldwide, including more than 1.4 million deaths.The government’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority granted approval Wednesday for the vaccine, which Pfizer developed along with Germany’s BioNTech. The first vaccinations will begin next week, with staffers of the Britain’s National Health Service, nursing home residents and staffers expected to receive first priority.The approval comes weeks after Pfizer announced the vaccine had been shown to be over 90% effective after its final, widespread clinical trials.  Britain has already pre-ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.FILE – In this Nov. 19, 2020, file photo, healthcare workers process people waiting in line at a United Memorial Medical Center COVID-19 testing site in Houston.The Trump administration has said that 20 million people could be inoculated by the end of this year.As it has for months, the United States continues to lead the world in coronavirus infections, with nearly 13.7 million cases and more than 270,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. [[ COVID-19 Map – Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center (jhu.edu) ]] The U.S. has 98,691 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the COVID Tracking Project, making it the highest number of hospitalizations since the pandemic reached the nation’s shores.Since it began nearly a year ago, the coronavirus pandemic has dramatically increased the number of people who are experiencing extreme poverty, according to the United Nations.The world body said in its annual humanitarian report that 235 million people, or one in 33 people, will require basic needs like food, water and sanitation in 2021, a 40% increase from this year.The U.N. report said the greatest need for humanitarian assistance next year is in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia.The United Nations contributed a record $17 billion in 2020 for humanitarian response worldwide, the report said.
 

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Five Killed When Car Plows into Pedestrian Zone in Germany

On December 2, 2020, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

Five people, including 9-month-old baby, were killed in Germany on Tuesday when a car plowed into a pedestrian street, according to local police. At least 14 other people were injured. Police in the southwestern town of Trier arrested the driver, a 51-year-old Trier native, who was intoxicated and appeared to be suffering from psychological problems, prosecutor Peter Fritzen said at a news conference. Police said there does not appear to be a political motive behind the incident, but Trier Mayor Wolfram Leibe warned that authorities “should not pass premature judgment.” In a statement, German Chancellor Angela Merkel offered condolences. “My sympathy goes to the families of those whose lives were so suddenly and violently torn away from them. I am also thinking of the people who suffered injuries, in some cases very serious ones, and I wish them strength,” she said. Germany has tightened security in pedestrian zones across the country since an attack on a Christmas market in Berlin in 2016 left 12 people dead. 

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After Protests, France Moves to Amend Security Law Text

On December 2, 2020, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

For weeks, NGOs including the press freedom group Reporters Without Borders, have expressed concerns over the draft bill, especially its Article 24, which would make it a criminal offense for anyone to disseminate images that — according to the text — might “harm the physical or mental integrity” of police officers. Those found guilty could be punished by a year in prison or a fine of up to $53,000. Lawmakers from President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling party said Monday they would propose a “complete rewrite” of part of a draft law that would restrict the filming of police. The announcement came from majority leader Christophe Castaner, to reporters.Castaner said the majority failed to convince the public opinion that this text was not against the freedom of press, the right to inform and the legitimate control of police force. Therefore, a complete rewrite, the lawmaker said, is necessary.In a rare rebuke, even the European Commission declared last week that news media must be able to work freely.  Opposition lawmakers welcome the announcement of the rewrite but demand further actions and the complete withdrawal of the so-called Global Security bill.Adrien Quatennens, an extreme-left MP from Northern France, explained that President Macron’s ruling majority did not understand the people’s will and the issue remains with the entire bill, not only its article 24  The French Senate will vote on the Global Security bill in January and the government says it will ask France’s high court to review  — and possibly strike down —  the bill.  

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‘We Know What Needs to Be Done’: Young ‘Mock COP’ Delegates Deliver Climate Vision

On December 1, 2020, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

World leaders should commit to a climate-smart recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, recognize a new human right to a healthy environment and make the deliberate destruction of nature a crime, youth climate activists urged on Tuesday.”Every moment of inaction makes things worse for our generation” as climate change impacts and nature losses surge, young representatives of more than 140 countries warned in a statement negotiated during two weeks of online talks.The youth-led “Mock COP” event was organized after the COP26 U.N. climate negotiations, due to be held in Glasgow last month, were delayed a year by the pandemic, with young people vowing to push ahead to develop climate policy if adults could not.”We know what needs to be done. What is lacking is political will to do it,” said Kelo Uchendu, 24, a Nigerian engineering student and delegate at the conference.As the talks ended Tuesday, researchers with the independent Climate Action Tracker reported that if all national governments met the 2050 net-zero emissions targets they have set or are considering, global warming goals remained within reach.Those targets include U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, as well as Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pledge of carbon-neutrality by 2060.With net-zero or similar aims now planned or in place in 127 countries, planetary heating could be limited to 2.1 degrees Celsius, putting the 2015 Paris Agreement goal of keeping it to “well below” 2C far closer than before, Climate Action Tracker said.But the world would still exceed the lower Paris aim of 1.5C of warming since pre-industrial times, which scientists say is key to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.And interim emissions reduction targets that would drive rapid action are insufficient, analysts said.”Long-term goals are good but it’s clear that governments need to act more quickly in the short term,” said Kat Kramer, charity Christian Aid’s climate change lead, in a statement.She urged “a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, ending ecosystem destruction and building resilience of communities vulnerable to climate impacts.”In a final statement like those produced at U.N. talks — and similarly issued in the form of a legal treaty that could be formally adopted by countries — young “Mock COP” delegates said all national climate plans should be aligned with the 1.5C goal.Delegates also called for 30% of land and oceans to be conserved, more safeguards for Indigenous people and for every country to ensure clean air through stronger regulation.Other demands included a stronger youth voice in decision-making, better education on climate change and more mental health services for youth struggling with “eco-anxiety.”Nigel Topping, Britain’s high-level climate action champion for the postponed COP26 talks who received the statement, said government leaders had been pressed into faster action on climate threats largely because of youth campaigning.”You’re sending a loud signal — and a very professional one — of expecting more from leaders around the world. Never underestimate how significant that is,” he told delegates.Participants said they would push their home governments to turn some of the statement’s language into new laws, particularly now that responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have made clear that big, rapid policy shifts are possible.”Getting countries to adopt this treaty would make a huge impact,” Uchendu, from Nigeria, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an online interview.David R. Boyd, a U.N. special rapporteur on human rights and the environment, said new policies would be crucial to avoiding the worst impacts of climate change, from growing hunger and poverty to more extreme weather and rising seas.”We know conclusively that we are on the precipice … and this has terrible consequences for people’s human rights,” he said. 

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Most European Governments to Ease Pandemic Rules Over Christmas Holiday, But Fearfully

On December 1, 2020, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

All Europeans want is a merry and bright Christmas season, just like the ones they used to know. And under public pressure some governments are easing their pandemic restrictions in a bid to salvage something of the holiday spirit.But as some governments plan to soften restrictions by increasing the number of separate households permitted to socialize and allowing people to travel, others are still grappling with how far they should go in easing lockdowns or lifting curfews, fearing that having a merry Christmas will likely mean suffering a miserable new year.Scientists across the continent, which already accounts for a quarter of the world’s coronavirus cases and deaths from COVID-19, the disease triggered by the virus, are warning of a doubling in infection rates, if the regime for the holiday is too liberal.European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen last week said it was important for European states to coordinate any easing of pandemic restrictions. “We will make a proposal for a gradual and coordinated approach to lifting containment measures. This will be very important to avoid the risk of yet another wave,” von der Leyen said.European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, top, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde, European Council President Charles Michel and Eurogroup President Paschal Donohoe attend a virtual meeting in Brussels, Nov. 26, 2020.Despite her call for coordinated action, national governments are making up their own minds without synchronizing approaches — as they have ever since the pandemic first struck the continent earlier this year. Many European governments say they have little choice but to ease pandemic restrictions, fearing that if they maintain stringent rules, their citizens will only ignore them. People who have elderly relatives with not many Christmases left to enjoy are unlikely to heed warnings to observe tight restraints, officials worry.As a result, some countries that have tight pandemic restrictions in place are planning to abandon them for a few days at least, including “whack-a-mole” strategies aimed at suppressing local outbreaks of contagion. They include England. Others, like Italy, though, are still struggling to decide.A patchwork of strategies is emerging. Take ski resorts for example. Italy’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, has said Italian resorts should remain closed over Christmas and the New Year holiday. Italian officials say he’s mindful that earlier this year, when the pandemic first appeared, the ski resorts in the Tyrol region in northern Italy and western Austria acted as super-spreaders. More than an estimated 6,000 people, from 45 countries, who contracted the coronavirus in March, either went on vacation in the Tyrol or came into contact with someone who did.A chairlift is pictured in front of the Geisler group massif at the Dolomites mountains near Bressanone, autonomous region of South Tyrol, northern Italy’s German-Italian speaking region, Nov. 26, 2020.Ski resorts and overseas vacationsGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel wants all resorts across Europe closed during Christmas. That, though, is something Austria and Switzerland are not prepared to do. Both countries are desperate for the resorts to generate some income and have said cable cars, restaurants and bars will operate, but with social distancing rules in place and mask-wearing required.“When someone uses a lift, it is similar to when they use public transport,” Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian chancellor, said last week. France, too, is planning to allow ski resorts to operate but without the use of lifts or cable cars. Some countries, including Germany, will require any of their citizens or residents returning from vacations abroad to quarantine for at least 10 days.Aside from ski resorts and overseas vacations, European countries are also trying to balance contradictory demands. They want to stem the spread of the virus but limit the economic fallout. The nations are also fearful of widespread non-compliance if they are too strict.Christmas and New Year’s restrictionsFrance is easing coronavirus lockdown rules incrementally ahead of the holiday. On Saturday, small businesses were allowed to reopen and places of worship permitted to hold services for up to 30 people. The French, who were required to stay within a kilometer of their homes, are now allowed to travel up to 20 kilometers away from their residences. After December 15, the current broad lockdown will be lifted, but a curfew will remain in place between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. local time except on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Unhindered travel will be permitted, allowing people to spend Christmas with family, but restaurants, bars and gyms won’t be allowed to reopen until January 20, and then only if the epidemic remains contained.“I call upon your sense of responsibility,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in a nationwide broadcast last week. “This will certainly not be a Christmas like the others,” he warned, urging the French to wear masks and wash their hands.People line up outside a shop in Bayonne, southwestern France, Nov. 28, 2020. Non-essential shops around France are opening their doors as part of a staggered relaxing of lockdown restrictions.The Spanish government is yet to finalize Christmas plans. But Madrid is likely to impose a limit of six people at parties. It is encouraging all social gatherings in the run-up to the holiday to be held outside. Traditionally Spain celebrates the Feast of the Three Kings, marked by local parades on January 5, but the government has said the celebrations should not go ahead this time.In Italy, Conte, his ministers and regional heads of government have been debating what to allow and what to restrict, including whether midnight church services can go ahead. The country’s contagion rate has slowed in some regions but in others, transmission rates are alarming and Italy’s death toll is as high as the country experienced in the first wave of the pandemic in March and April.Many restrictions are likely to remain in place in Italy and what rule easing that will be seen will be less than during Italy’s summer. “It will be a different kind of Christmas; sacrifices are still necessary in order not to expose ourselves to a third wave in January with a high number of deaths,” Conte cautioned Italians. Final decisions on Christmas rules will be issued later this week.Germany is to continue with its current strategy dubbed “lockdown light.” Bars, restaurants and entertainment venues are likely to remain shuttered and travel discouraged. “Daily cases are still far too high, and our intensive care units are still very full,” according to Chancellor Merkel. But she has approved a temporary reprieve over Christmas with up to 10 people allowed to meet at a time between December 23 and New Year’s Day.People wearing protective face masks are seen at Schloss Strasse shopping street, amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Berlin, Germany, Dec. 1, 2020.British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has decided to ease some pandemic rules in England, although privately ministers acknowledge that will prompt another surge of new cases, just as the country’s lockdown has been slowing the rate of infections. The government’s scientific advisory panel has warned the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions over Christmas will increase infections “potentially by a large amount.”In a document published last week, the panel said, “Substantial mixing of people over a short period of time, especially those who do not make contact regularly…represents a significant risk for widespread transmission.” “The prevalence could easily double during a few days of festive season,” it added.A man wearing a face mask walks past the Debenhams flagship department store on Oxford Street, during the second coronavirus lockdown in London, Dec. 1, 2020.All four nations of the United Kingdom, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, are planning to try to coordinate Christmas coronavirus rules and are intending to relax some over the holiday season. In England, people will be allowed to celebrate in three-household “Christmas bubbles” for a five-day period over the season; but, those households cannot meet up inside pubs, hotels, stores, theaters or restaurants.Restrictions on church services are due to be lifted, allowing Christmas services. Last week, Prime Minister Johnson told lawmakers, “I can’t say that Christmas will be normal this year — but in a period of adversity, time spent with loved ones is even more precious for people of all faiths and none.”Some British Cabinet ministers are pressing for more easing — so, too, are backbench lawmakers from Johnson’s ruling Conservative party. Local government minister Robert Jenrick acknowledges the softening of restrictions will likely “drive some higher rate of infection.” Nonetheless he’s pushing for stores to remain open 24 hours a day in the run-up to Christmas, if they so wish. 

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 2 Pedestrians Killed, At Least 15 Injured in German City

On December 1, 2020, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

Police in the western German city of Trier say at least two people were killed and 15 others were injured when a car sped through a pedestrian area in the city’s center.At a news briefing from the scene, Trier police spokesman Karl-Peter Jochem told reporters that authorities received a call in the early afternoon about the car and the motorist was hitting people at random.Witnesses told local media the dark grey Range Rover knocked people into the air.Jochem said police were able to stop the car, and they arrested a 51-year-old man, a German national, at the scene. The spokesman said they believe he acted alone and was being questioned as to a motive.Police said the city center had been cordoned off and helicopters were circling overhead.Parents were asked to pick up their children early from school, a local newspaper reported.Municipal authorities warned people to stay away from the city center. Local first responders and police remained at the scene.Germany has tightened security on pedestrian zones across the country since a deadly truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market in 2016 that killed 12 people and injured dozens.Trier is 200 kilometers west of Frankfurt, on the west-central border with Luxembourg.
 

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UN Appeals for $35 Billion for Global Aid in 2021

On December 1, 2020, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

The United Nations appealed Tuesday for a record $35 billion to provide life-saving humanitarian support for 160 million people next year, as the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has pushed millions into extreme poverty worldwide.    “Conflict, climate change and COVID-19 have created the greatest humanitarian challenge since the Second World War,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a recorded message for the launch of the appeal.     He called on donors to help those at greatest risk “in their darkest hour of need.”A student of the Emile Dubois high school takes part in a COVID-19 antigen test in Paris, France Nov. 23, 2020.The U.N. says the actual need is even higher — some 235 million people, or one in every 33 people on the planet, requires aid or protection. This is a 40% increase over 2020.     There are more than 63 million confirmed cases worldwide of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking the pandemic’s spread. Nearly 1.5 million people have died and tens of millions have lost jobs and livelihoods during the lockdowns imposed to stop the virus from spreading.   “It’s not the disease itself, nasty as it may be … that is most hurting people in vulnerable countries. It’s the economic impact,” U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock told reporters. “Rising food prices, falling incomes, drops in remittances, interrupted vaccination programs, school closures — these hit the poorest people in the poorest countries hardest of all.”  The U.N. has already warned about alarming levels of hunger in seven countries that could tip into famine next year without assistance. They are Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen. Two weeks ago, the U.N. released $100 million from an emergency fund in a bid to prevent further deterioration.Women wait with children in a ward at a malnourishment treatment center in Yemen’s northern Hajjah province, Nov. 22, 2020.But dozens of other countries are facing extreme challenges and require increased support.     Lowcock said that for the first time since the 1990s, global levels of extreme poverty will rise, threatening to reverse decades of progress.  “Unless there is support for the poorest countries, their hangover from the pandemic is going to be long and harsh, and it will bring with it chaos and anarchy,” he said.Mark Lowcock, the U.N. Humanitarian Affairs Emergency and Relief Coordinator, address United Nations Security Council with a report on Yemen, Oct. 23, 2018 at U.N. headquarters.Lowcock said this is not in the interest of wealthier countries. And while $35 billion may sound like a lot of money, the world’s richest nations have pumped trillions of dollars into their economies to keep their societies afloat.    “As we approach the end of a difficult year, we face a choice as a global community:  Are we going to let this pandemic unravel decades of progress, or are we going to act now to do something about it?” he asked.     This year, U.N. humanitarian programs have reached nearly 100 million people in 25 countries. In its 2020 humanitarian appeal, which was revised to include funding for the COVID-19 response, the U.N. asked donors for $39 billion. As of the end of November, it had received $22 billion, leaving some programs severely underfunded. 

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Turkey-Backed Rebels Attack Syrian Town, Displacing Residents

On December 1, 2020, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

Recent attacks by Turkey-backed rebels have caused another round of displacement in Syria, where dozens of families have left their homes in the border town of Ain Issa. The town is held by Kurdish forces that Turkey views as terrorists. VOA’s Reber Kalo reports from Syria.

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Greek Monastery Seeks Return of Stolen Religious Objects from Bulgaria

On November 30, 2020, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

Leading clerics and monks in Greece are urging the state to take legal action against Bulgaria in a bid to win back hundreds of rare religious relics, including Byzantine manuscripts, that Greece alleges were stolen by Bulgarian guerrillas during World War I.The move comes after the U.S.-based Museum of the Bible, which holds some of the world’s most revered collections of religious manuscripts, agreed last week to return a rare 10th century gospel book to the Monastery of Theotokos Eikosiphinisa in northern Greece.“This return marks a glorious achievement,” said Bishop Pavlos of the northeastern Greek city of Drama, who oversees the monastery. “[But] more manuscripts and relics are out there, around the globe, and they need to be repatriated.”“We plan to get tougher in our fight, potentially taking legal action against Bulgaria. But the bigger question is why isn’t the Greek state – the ultimate keeper of the country’s national treasures and identity – backing this repatriation campaign also.”Greece says there has been no response from the Bulgarian government.Successive Greek governments have long lobbied for the return of the Parthenon Marbles, billing their repatriation a top national priority and insisting the British Museum hand them back after a British aristocrat, Lord Elgin, hacked them off the ancient temple, selling them to the British Museum over 200 years ago.FILE – A woman looks at the Parthenon Marbles, a collection of stone objects, inscriptions and sculptures, also known as the Elgin Marbles, on show at the British Museum in London, Oct. 16, 2014.“There is no difference to what happened in the case of Eikosiphinisa,” the bishop said.Painstakingly written out in Greek and preserved for centuries at the monastery, also known as Kozintsa, the decorated manuscript was stolen in 1917 by Bulgarian separatists who looted some 430 sacred documents from the convent’s library and 470 religious relics.They then sold them to bookshops and collectors across Europe. The documents and relics eventually found their way to art dealers, who allegedly auctioned them off to major institutions or private collectors in Europe and the U.S.These include elite universities such as Princeton and Duke, and the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City.Legal action spearheaded by ecumenical Patriarch Batholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world’s 200 million Christian Orthodox adherents, has already been waged in the United States.But the front line of the battle, Bishop Pavlos said, should be Bulgaria, where the bulk of the booty remains in the hands of the state there.“It is unthinkable that the Greek state has not even submitted a simple petition after so many years,” he says.The Greek Culture Ministry did not respond to repeated requests by VOA for comment.Claims for restitution target the Ivan Dujcev Center for Slavo-Byzantine Studies in Sofia, which holds around 300 of the looted manuscripts, despite the 1919 Treaty of Neuilly which required Bulgaria to return all cultural objects taken during the First World War.In a statement, the Museum of the Bible in Washington said it acquired the 1,000-year-old gospel book from Christie’s auction house in 2011. But details of its provenance remain murky, allowing Patriarch Batholomew to weigh in and insist on its return.FILE – A visitor looks at various Bibles during a preview at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., Nov. 14, 2017.The museum has since then acknowledged that pieces of its collection, originally owned by the Green family in Oklahoma City, founders of the arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby, were looted and smuggled out of their country of origin – an admission that has sparked a thorough in-house investigation.Similar moves led the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago to hand back another priceless manuscript to the Eikosiphinisa monastery in 2016 – a landmark return that adds firepower to Greece’s campaign to win back the Parthenon Marbles.Religion, Bishop Pavlos advises, should not become a factor in cultural restitution.But even if it is, he quips, “Then those in the helm of power should not forget that the Parthenon was once a religious temple too.” 

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France Faces Public Resistance to COVID Vaccine

On November 30, 2020, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

As French authorities prepare to roll out their COVID immunization strategy this week, they face skepticism in a country where surveys show many people do not trust the vaccine.France was among the nations of Europe taking the heaviest hit from the COVID-19 outbreak as more than 50, 000 people died of the virus.Like the rest of the world, hopes are high that vaccines will defeat the virus and enable people to go back to a normal life. The French immunization campaign is scheduled to start by the end of December with the elderly, people living in nursing homes and medical personnel slated to receive the first doses.In an address to the nation, French President Emmanuel Macron said a scientific committee would supervise the immunization campaign and a citizen group would be created to make sure the population is part of the process. Immunization against COVID-19 must be clear and transparent and information must be shared  on what is known and unknown, insists Macron, who stressed that immunization will not be mandatory in France.The government is worried that millions of French people will refuse coronavirus vaccine shots due as skepticism grows in the country. Fifty-nine percent of French people surveyed say they would not get vaccinated, according to an IFO poll published on Sunday.Prime Minister Jean Castex recently said his fear is that not enough French people will get vaccinated.Jean Paul Stahl, a French doctor of infectious diseases, said the numbers concern him.The professor explains there is a common fear of side effects for these vaccine.He said there is also skepticism as people see this vaccine as a tool used by the government. Stahl said that nowadays in our societies, more and more people do not trust any authority: political, scientific, and others.France has budgeted more than $1.75 billion to buy vaccines next year. 

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UK Inquiry Looks into Role of Air Pollution in Death of Girl

On November 30, 2020, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

A public inquiry opens Monday in London to determine the role played by air pollution in the death of a girl living near a busy London street, a case that could set a precedent. Then 9 years old, Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah died February 15, 2013, of a serious asthma attack after nearly three years of repeated attacks and more than 30 hospitalizations related to the disease.  An initial investigation, in 2014, determined that she died of acute respiratory failure caused by severe asthma. But those findings were overturned in 2019 and a new investigation was ordered because of new evidence regarding air pollution risks, highlighted in a report in 2018.  This second investigation, which begins Monday and will last two weeks, will examine the levels of pollution to which Ella had been exposed and determine whether they caused her death. If the coroner, charged with identifying the reason for death, concludes that air pollution directly caused Ella’s death, that would set a precedent. The girl is believed to be the first person in the United Kingdom to have air pollution as the cause of death. ‘Striking link’Ella lived less than 30 meters from the South Circular, a busy and regularly congested route in South London.  In 2018, Professor Stephen Holgate, a British air pollution expert, noted a “striking link” between Ella’s emergency hospitalizations and the recorded peaks of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and airborne particles, the most harmful pollutants. The investigation will examine possible failures by the authorities to take measures to reduce pollution and inform the public about the health risks. Officials from the British Ministries of Transport, Environment and Health will be heard, as well as Holgate. Ella’s mother, Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, will testify during the second week of the investigation. “It has been almost eight years since Ella passed away and it has been a long and difficult struggle to get this investigated, with obstacles in the way. I want justice for Ella and the true cause of her death written on her death certificate,” Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah said in a statement, before the opening of the second investigation. “She was the life and soul of our home, always playing music, dancing with my other daughter, Sophia. She had a lot of influence on her younger siblings, encouraging them to succeed, their doing sports,” she said. According to figures from the city of London, 99% of the city exceeds the limits recommended by the WHO in terms of air pollution.  Last month, the executive director of the Clean Air Fund, Jane Burston, noted “that children in London age 4 were .2% more likely to be hospitalized with asthma on days when nitrogen dioxide pollution is high.” London Mayor Sadiq Khan said last month, citing supporting figures, that air quality had improved since 2016. He highlighted the measures put in place since his election, including enforcement last year of an “ultra-low emission zone” (ULEZ) that forces the drivers of the most polluting vehicles to pay a daily tax on entry. 

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French Police Charged in Beating, Racial Abuse of Black Man

On November 30, 2020, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

Four French police officers have been charged in connection to the beating and racial abuse of a black music producer, a judicial source said Monday, days after the incident in Paris that intensified controversy over a proposed security law. The beating of music producer Michel Zecler — exposed in video footage published last week — has become a focus of anger against the police, who critics accuse of institutionalized racism and targeting black and Arab people. Tens of thousands protested Saturday against a security bill, which would restrict the right to publish images of on-duty police. Police said 81 people were arrested at the protests, with Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin saying the violence was unacceptable. An investigating magistrate ruled early Monday morning to charge the officers with “willful violence by a person holding public authority” and forgery, a judicial source told AFP. Two remain behind bars, while the other two were put on conditional release, the source added. Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz on Sunday had called for the officers to be charged specifically with using racial abuse.Fire-fighters pull off a fire on a burning car during a demonstration against a security law that would restrict sharing images of police, Nov. 28, 2020 in Paris.Racial abuse chargesAhead of the charges, the four officers had been questioned by the police’s National Police Inspectorate General on suspicion of using violence and racial abuse. Heitz said three of the officers should remain in custody “to avoid the perpetrators communicating or putting pressure on witnesses.” He also called for charges of intentional violence, racial abuse and posting a false police report. The fourth officer, who arrived on the scene later and fired a tear gas canister, should be freed under conditions and charged with intentional violence, he said. The four officers had a good service record before the incident, he said, and claimed they had acted “out of fear.” Zecler had been stopped for not wearing a mask and because of a strong smell of cannabis. But only a tiny quantity of the substance was found, he said. Lawyers representing three of the officers declined to comment Monday on the charges. Law controversyCommentators say that the images of the beating, first published by the Loopsider news site, might never have been made public if the contentious Article 24 of the security legislation was made law. The bill would criminalize publishing images of on-duty police with the intent of harming their “physical or psychological integrity.” It was passed by the National Assembly although it is awaiting Senate approval. 

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