World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday that Europe remains the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, reporting 2 million new cases last week, the region’s highest number since the pandemic began.
At a briefing in Geneva, the WHO chief said the region also reported nearly 27,000 deaths last week, more than half of all COVID-19 deaths worldwide.
Tedros said COVID-19 is surging in countries with lower vaccination rates in Eastern Europe, but also in countries with some of the world’s highest vaccination rates in Western Europe. He said it is a reminder that while vaccines reduce the risk of hospitalization, severe disease and death, they do not replace the need for other precautions.
Tedros said that while vaccines reduced transmission of the coronavirus, they do not fully prevent it.
On the subject of vaccines, the WHO chief once again spoke about the injustices of COVID-19 vaccine inequities and how wealthy nations are neglecting low-income nations in the distribution of the drugs. Tedros said every day, there are six times more boosters administered globally than primary doses in low-income countries.
He once again urged nations with stockpiled vaccine to donate it to the WHO-managed COVAX global vaccine cooperative to distribute to the developing world. He said that COVAX works when given the chance, having delivered almost 500 million doses to 144 countries and territories.
Tedros said the majority of countries are prepared to distribute vaccines to their people, but they need the doses. He said there are only two countries that have not started vaccinating their populations — Eritrea and North Korea.
The WHO has set a goal of fully vaccinating 40 percent of the population of every country in the world by the end of this year.your ad here
Громадське обʼєднання «БНФ «Адраджэньне» було засноване у 1988 році, як загальнонаціональну організацію зареєстровано у 1991-му
Міністерство оборони Росії описало навчання як «неанонсовану перевірку бойової готовності»
«Держава спілкується з усіма однаково – за допомогою закону. Спілкується коректно і з повагою», – наголосив радник голови ОП Михайло Подоляк
Turkey’s Civil Aviation Authority said Friday that the country is halting airline ticket sales to Iraqi, Syrian and Yemeni citizens wanting to travel to Belarus, which in recent months became a route for migrants and refugees trying to enter the European Union.
EU leaders have put increasing pressure on airlines to stop bringing people from the Middle East to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, from where asylum-seekers seeking better lives have traveled by car to the EU’s doorstep.
Thousands have managed to cross illegally into EU member nations Poland, Lithuania and Latvia since the summer, though many others have also been kept from entering or pushed back.
Among them are Iraqi Kurds and Syrians fleeing conflict, persecution or poverty. Many aim to reach Germany or other western European countries, sometimes to reunite with relatives already settled there.
In a brief statement posted on Twitter, Turkey’s aviation authority said its decision to halt ticket sales was valid until further notice.
Citing the Turkish decision, Belarusian airline Belavia said it also would not transport citizens of Iraq, Syria and Yemen on its Istanbul-Minsk flights starting Friday. Belavia said in a statement that it planned to reimburse the cost of already purchased tickets.
The EU said it also has received confirmation that Iraqi Airlines will not resume flights to Minsk.
EU and Polish officials have accused the longtime leader of Belarus, President Alexander Lukashenko, of facilitating illegal border crossings in retaliation for sanctions the EU imposed on his government for its brutal crackdown on dissent following Lukashenko’s disputed reelection last year.
German federal police reported Wednesday that 1,246 unauthorized entries to Germany “with a connection to Belarus” had been recorded in the first nine days of November. In all, there have been 9,087 such entries so far this year, German police said.
Polish authorities said a large number of people remain just across the border in neighboring Belarus and Polish border guards continue to rebuff attempts to enter Poland illegally each day.
There are now hundreds of people, among them families with children, staying in makeshift camps on the Belarusian side of the border. Attempts to cross have become increasingly dangerous as Poland fortifies its side of the border and pushes people back. Temperatures at the Poland-Belarus border drop to below freezing at night.
A Polish official said the country’s ongoing conflict with Belarus’ government is not expected to deescalate in the coming days. Paweł Soloch, the head of the National Security Bureau, said Poland was facing a “a psychological, hybrid war, waged consciously by centers that want to weaken or even ultimately destroy our country.”
Poland’s Border Guards said in the previous day they recorded 223 attempts to illegally cross the Polish border from Belarus, fewer than earlier in the week.
Poland’s Defense Ministry said one group crossed a fence at the village of Kuznica but were stopped by officials. The ministry posted a video which it said showed the incident.
The Border Guards agency posted another video on Twitter which it said shows Belarusian personnel using a green laser at the border.
“We assume that these were attempts to blind our officers and soldiers patrolling the border,” the post said.
The information was impossible to verify. Independent journalists face limits to their reporting in Belarus, and a state of emergency in Poland’s border zone prevents media from entering the area.
A new draft agreement was released Friday morning at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, detailing how countries plan to limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, the target agreed in Paris in 2015 and seen as critical in avoiding the worst effects of climate change.
The deal must be agreed to and signed by all parties at the Glasgow summit, which is due to end at 6 p.m. local time Friday. However, negotiations could continue into the night and through the weekend.
The new text is the second draft to be released this week. It calls for parties to the deal to rapidly slash greenhouse gas emissions this decade.
The latest draft text says COP26 “reaffirms the Paris Agreement temperature goal of holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.”
“Limiting global warming to 1.5 °C requires rapid, deep and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, including reducing global carbon dioxide emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 relative to the 2010 level and to net zero around mid-century, as well as deep reductions in non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases,” according to the draft text.
It also establishes a new mechanism to “urgently scale up (climate change) mitigation ambition and implementation in this critical decade.”
Helen Mountford of the World Resources Institute said some areas of the draft text had been strengthened.
“Our overarching judgment is that this is not bad, we’ve actually made some progress in terms of balance in the text. It reiterates the Paris temperature goal of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees (Celsius) and aiming for 1.5 C, but also has text that says it resolves to focus on the 1.5 C, which is sort of leaning in, it’s not a definitive agreement around 1.5 C.”
“Also there is text urging countries to come back with long-term strategies by the end of 2022. So, a couple of elements that we had in the (first draft) text a couple of days ago that have been under discussion, are still there, and it’s important that those are there,” Mountford told reporters Friday.
However, some language in the text has been weakened. “In the previous version we had, it said that it ‘urges’ countries to revisit and strengthen their 2030 targets by the end of next year, by the end of 2022. It’s now shifted from ‘urges’ to ‘requests’, which is weaker language,” Mountford said.
Language around the phasing out of fossil fuels has also been weakened under pressure from some delegations.
The previous draft said that parties to the deal would “accelerate the phasing-out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels.” However, the latest version calls for “accelerating the phaseout of unabated coal power and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels.” That would effectively allow producers and consumers to continue using coal if carbon capture technology is employed to offset its emissions.
Jennifer Morgan, the executive director of Greenpeace International, strongly criticized the changes.
“Right now the fingerprints of fossil fuel interests are still on the text and this is not the breakthrough deal that people hoped for in Glasgow,” Morgan said in a statement. “The key line on phasing out coal and fossil fuel subsidies has been critically weakened, but it’s still there and needs to be strengthened again before this summit closes. That’s going to be a big tussle and one we need to win.”
The new draft also strengthens language around climate finance – the amount that rich countries will pay poorer nations to adapt to climate change and decarbonize their economies. Richer nations are responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions but climate change tends to have a bigger impact on developing countries.
The latest draft text “notes with concern that the current provision of climate finance for adaptation remains insufficient to respond to worsening climate change impacts in developing country Parties.”
The draft agreement “urges developed country Parties to at least double their collective provision of climate finance for adaptation to developing country Parties from the current level by 2025.”
The issue of climate finance will be crucial in securing a final agreement, said Cassie Flynn, the United Nations Development Program’s strategic advisor on climate change.
“We knew going into this that there was this outstanding promise of $100 billion that was meant to go from developed countries to developing countries to be able to help them tackle this climate crisis that is at their doorsteps. And it was supposed to happen by 2020 – and the year came and went. So now in 2021, a lot of (developing) countries are looking at the countries that made this promise and saying, you have to fulfil it or else we’re in real jeopardy of not fulfilling the goals of the Paris agreement,” Flynn told VOA.
She added that Wednesday’s joint declaration by the United States and China to work together to cut emissions and try to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius had given added momentum to COP26 negotiations.
“To have the two biggest emitters in the world come together and say, we are in it, we are going to work together, and we have big plans, I think set a really good signal to the rest of the world.”
However, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the COP26 summit was in danger of failing as it entered its final hours.
The target of 1.5 degrees “is still on reach but on life support,” Guterres told The Associated Press.
He warned that governments must improve their plans to reduce emissions, known as “nationally determined contributions.”
“If the present nationally determined contributions are implemented, we face an increase of emissions in the next decade. If we don’t reach enough ambition on mitigation in this COP, and very probably it will not happen, we need from now on to have a review of our national determined contributions every year.”
“I think we are in a crucial moment. In the end of a negotiation, we must avoid (reaching) an agreement based on minimum common denominator that will generate an enormous frustration. It is the moment to reach agreement by increasing ambition in all areas: mitigation, adaptation and finance in a balanced way.”
“Until the last moment hope should be maintained,” Guterres said.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press.
За повідомленнями, площа нової квартири – 119 квадратних метрів, ціна – понад 700 тисяч доларів
У повідомленні Офісу президента України про цю розмову йшлося, що Володимир Зеленський закликав не порушувати права експрезидента Грузії Міхеіла Саакашвілі
Сі Цзіньпін, який домінує у партійній та національній політиці з 2012 року, як очікується, отримає третій термін повноважень на 20-му з’їзді партії наступного року
Повідомляється, що під час обшуків правоохоронці виявили засоби зв’язку та ноутбук із доказами протиправної діяльності
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday people have a duty to be inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine as a way of protecting not only themselves, but others as well.
She made the comments in a virtual conversation with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on the sidelines of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
COVID-19 cases are soaring in Germany. A record high daily count of 50,000 new infections were reported Thursday. A week ago, the daily tally was 33,000 new cases.
“The virus is still among us and threatens the health of its citizens,” German Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Thursday.
German officials are meeting next week to discuss way to combat the COVID-19 surge.your ad here
Fans of England’s Crystal Palace soccer club were in a taunting mood. They unfurled a banner in the stands at the team’s stadium in south London during a match against Newcastle United, mocking their rivals’ new owner — the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, who was portrayed wielding a blood-stained scimitar.
The banner included a mock-up of the pseudo-categories the Palace fans suggested English football authorities require of owners of the country’s top soccer teams. The requirements included terrorism, beheadings, civil rights abuses and murder, and they were ticked off on a clipboard in the banner under the heading “Premier League Owners Test.”
Following complaints about racism, Britain’s Metropolitan Police launched an investigation, saying in a statement, “Any allegations of racist abuse will be taken very seriously.” This month police announced they don’t intend to pursue any prosecutions. “Following an assessment, officers have concluded that no offenses have been committed. No further action will be taken,” the police said in a press statement.
But the $415 million purchase of Newcastle United in October by a Saudi Arabia-led consortium has drawn fire and is fueling a wider debate about England’s premier soccer league, which is not only the richest and most-watched league in the world of football but also seemingly a magnet for oligarchs, authoritarian regimes and autocrats, say critics.
Two of the Premier League’s 20 teams — Manchester City and now Newcastle — are owned by authoritarian regimes. Two others — Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanders — are owned by oligarchs with links to autocratic regimes. And another, Southampton, is owned by a Chinese businessman whose eventually successful bid for the team was held up as English football authorities probed bribery and corruption allegations lodged against him in China.
Some sponsorship tie-ups have also raised eyebrows. Earlier this year Arsenal signed an extension on a partnership deal with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) which will see the club earn $55 million between now and 2025 for a “Visit Rwanda” logo on the left sleeve of the players.
The country’s ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) has come under mounting criticism from international rights campaigners for threatening those who criticize the party. Human Rights Watch has documented from local sources “arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, and torture in official and unofficial detention facilities.”
Amnesty International has criticized the Saudi buyout of Newcastle, saying the deal is “a clear attempt by the Saudi authorities to sportswash their appalling human rights record with the glamour of top-flight football.”
In February, U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in a report that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the 2018 killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in Istanbul while visiting the Saudi consulate there and his body was cut up. In the report, the agencies alleged the prince approved a plan to either “capture or kill” Khashoggi. Saudi Arabia rejected the report, calling it “negative, false and unacceptable.
Premier League officials say that they received assurances that the Saudi authorities will not be involved in the day-to-day running of Newcastle.
But Amnesty UK’s chief executive, Sacha Deshmukh, told reporters, “Instead of allowing those implicated in serious human rights violations to walk into English football simply because they have deep pockets, we’ve urged the Premier League to change their owners’ and directors’ test to address human rights issues.”
The rights group wants a new human rights-compliant test to be at the heart of approving bids for clubs.
England’s football supporters tend to be ambivalent about foreign owners buying their beloved clubs — often critical when a takeover deal is first announced but then delighted when the funding from deep pockets powers their team to success.
Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi’s royal family and deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, bought Manchester City in 2008 and since then is estimated to have spent nearly $3 billion on buying top-flight players and coaching staff. Under his majority ownership the team has won the Premier League five times.
Newcastle fans, though, had no hesitation in celebrating the purchase of their team, which has had little success in recent years and is currently second from last in the league. Chelsea, owned by Roman Abramovich, a Russian oligarch with close ties to President Vladimir Putin, is on top of the league currently, with Manchester City second. As with Manchester City, so with Chelsea — under Abramovich’s ownership the team has been turned into a football Goliath.
Fans at Newcastle’s St James’ Park Stadium, in northeast England, were jubilant when the Saudi deal was announced last month, saying they hoped it would mark a turnaround for the club. Fans waved Saudi flags and donned mock Saudi-style ghutras (headscarves).
Lawmaker John Nicolson, a member of the British parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, condemned the scenes during a panel hearing shortly after the deal was made public. During a committee hearing he said, “I’m trying to imagine what it must be like to be Jamal Khashoggi’s widow, when her husband has been chopped up and murdered. And she sees numpties (silly people) dancing around in cod-Arabic dresses outside Newcastle United.”
Останніми днями ситуація на білорусько-польському кордоні особливо загострилася
The United States and European members of the U.N. Security Council condemned Belarus on Thursday for what they called the “cynical instrumentalization of migrants,” as tensions simmered along the Polish-Belarusian border.
“We … condemn the orchestrated instrumentalization of human beings whose lives and well-being have been put in danger for political purposes by Belarus, with the objective of destabilizing neighboring countries and the European Union’s external border and diverting attention away from its own increasing human rights violations,” Estonian Ambassador Sven Jürgenson said on behalf of seven Western nations.
The flow of migrants from the Middle East and Afghanistan rose sharply after the European Union imposed sanctions on Minsk for forcing a commercial airliner flying over its territory in May to land. The authorities arrested a Belarusian opposition blogger and his girlfriend, who were on board.
Now thousands of migrants who have traveled legally to Belarus face an uncertain fate and freezing temperatures along the border with Poland.
On Tuesday, Poland closed a border crossing with Belarus after migrants tried to break through.
European and Baltic nations accuse Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of luring the migrants to his country and then facilitating their travel to the border in order to send them into Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. The migrants apply for asylum when they reach EU member states.
“This tactic is unacceptable and calls for a strong international reaction and cooperation in order to hold Belarus accountable,” Jürgenson said. “It demonstrates how the Lukashenko regime has become a threat to regional stability.”
“Of course, there is a game of shifting blame now by European Union,” Russia’s deputy U.N. envoy, Dmitry Polyanskiy, told reporters. “They want to picture Belarus, and sometimes even Russia, as perpetrators of this crisis.”
Moscow is Minsk’s closest ally.
Polyanskiy said Minsk has neither economic nor political reasons to prevent the migrants from continuing onward.
“They have no reasons to send them back to the countries where they came from,” he said. “That would be a total violation of any international conventions.”
Fearing it could become a new front in the crisis, Ukraine, which is not an EU member, will send another 8,500 troops and police officers, plus 15 helicopters, to guard its border with Belarus, Reuters reported Thursday.
The United Nations has called for de-escalation at the Belarus-Poland border.
“I am appalled that large numbers of migrants and refugees continue to be left in a desperate situation in near-freezing temperatures at the Belarus-Poland border,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said Wednesday. “I urge the states involved to take immediate steps to de-escalate and resolve this intolerable situation in line with their obligations under international human rights law and refugee law.”
The U.N. refugee and migration agencies have repeatedly said that using migrants and refugees as political tools is deplorable and must stop.
“With several tragic deaths recorded in the border area in recent weeks, UNHCR [U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees) and IOM [International Organization for Migration] remind states of the imperative to prevent further loss of life and ensure the humane treatment of migrants and refugees as the highest priority,” the agencies said in a joint statement Tuesday.
The European Union, meanwhile, is considering imposing new sanctions on Belarus.
Some information for this report came from Reuters.
The mix of parties now working to form the next Czech government spans the spectrum from conservative to liberal, but all appear to share a commitment to the democratic principles espoused by founding President Vaclav Havel. And that, says a former Havel aide, could be bad news for China and Russia.
Havel, the erudite playwright whose writings and dissident activities helped undermine communism in Europe, “would be quite pleased” with the state of his country following last month’s parliamentary election, said Jiri Pehe, who advised the former Czech president in the late 1990s. Havel died in 2011.
The election unseated populist billionaire Andrej Babis as prime minister and left his coalition partners, the Social Democrats and the Communist Party, out of parliament altogether. Babis formally submitted his resignation to President Milos Zeman on Thursday, clearing the way for Petr Fiala, head of the Civic Democratic Party and a leading figure in the winning five-party coalition, to begin forming a new government.
Pehe says he expects the incoming coalition, despite its philosophical differences, to adopt a foreign policy that aligns with the strongly pro-human rights, pro-democratic ideals of his former boss.
“At least for the next four years,” Beijing and Moscow will not have as easy a time as they did in recent years, he told VOA in an interview.
A foretaste of what may lie ahead was provided last year in a high-profile visit to Taiwan led by Senate President Milos Vystrcil, a longtime member of Fiala’s center-right Civic Democratic Party, known by its Czech acronym of ODS.
“Prior to my trip, I was aware that my decision to visit Taiwan was not supported by the highest constitutional representatives of the Czech Republic,” Vystrcil told VOA in an interview. Among the critics of the visit was Zeman, whose warm relationship with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping has been lauded by the Chinese Embassy in Prague.
But, Vystrcil said through a translator, “In the end, as a politician, you are supposed to do what you think is best for your country. It is also about what is good for the countries around us. I reached the conclusion that it is in the interest of both the Czech Republic as well as Taiwan that I visit Taiwan.”
Vystrcil was joined on the trip by Czech lawmakers and politicians, including Zdenek Hrib, the mayor of Prague and a member of the left-leaning Pirate Party, also part of the incoming coalition. He and Vystrcil were famously photographed together enjoying a beer at a Czech-styled pub in Taipei, foreshadowing the left-right coalition that would emerge from last month’s elections.
Beijing also has reason to worry about Jan Lipavsky, another Pirates Party member, who is seen as a candidate to lead the Czech Foreign Ministry. In an essay published as the coronavirus was taking off in March 2020, Lipavsky warned of the “propaganda panda” and predicted that China would seek to deny any responsibility for the worldwide spread of COVID-19.
He also denounced “Chinese and Russian clientelism” as an attack on Czech democracy.
If the new Czech government does turn its back on China and Russia, it is likely to find support for its positions even among members of the defeated coalition.
Among those sharing a skeptical view of the two authoritarian powers is Tomas Petricek, the former Czech foreign minister and an unsuccessful candidate in this year’s contest for the leadership of the Social Democrats.
Known to have opposed Zeman’s plan to have Russian companies bid for a key nuclear power project, Petricek also sees Beijing as being on a path irreconcilable with his own nation’s democratic ideals.
“You can say I’m against Beijing,” he said in a wide-ranging interview with VOA from Prague.
Democracy, Petricek pointed out, is an intrinsic part of the Social Democratic Party, and he saw no reason why the party would want to sit on the fence when it comes to which camp with which the country should align itself. The fact that the party was seen as ambiguous on this critical issue led to its defeat in the nationwide legislative elections, he said, a view shared by Pehe, Havel’s former aide.
Petricek said he has taken note of the nationalistic tone of the Chinese government’s recent rhetoric; he considers that — along with its aggressiveness abroad and repression at home — a contradiction of the principles of social democratic parties and the supposed ideals of communist parties.
Taiwan’s robust democracy, on the other hand, “negates” Beijing’s claim that Chinese people and society can only be governed by a single-party regime “somewhere between authoritarianism and totalitarianism,” Petricek said.
Голова політради партії «ОПЗЖ» нардеп Медведчук після введення проти нього санкцій продовжував капітальну реконструкцію свого маєтку у Пущі-Водиці
Сейм пояснив своє рішення, зокрема, російською агресією проти України
Russia’s best known human rights group, Memorial, said on Thursday it had been notified by the Supreme Court that prosecutors had demanded it be dismantled over violations of the “foreign agents” law, a move it said was politically motivated.
The move threatens to silence an organization that was born out of the “glasnost” reforms of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s and became a leading voice in civil society.
Focused in its early days on the crimes of the Stalinist era, Memorial has spoken out more recently against the repression of opposition figures, activists, journalists and others under President Vladimir Putin.
As far back as 2015, it was placed on a list of “foreign agents”, a label that carries connotations of spying and has been applied by the Russian authorities to NGOs, media outlets and others deemed to use foreign funding to engage in political activity. Its offices across the country have been attacked on numerous occasions.
Memorial said the “foreign agents” law was designed to crack down on independent organizations and that it saw no legal basis for it to be dismantled.
“This is a political decision to destroy the Memorial group, an organization dedicated to the history of political repression and the protection of human rights,” it said in a statement, adding that the case would be heard on Nov. 25.