english news

WHO sets rules for testing African herbal remedies

The World Health Organization (WHO) has agreed rules for the testing of African herbal remedies to fight Covid-19. Sound science would be the sole basis for safe and effective traditional therapies to be adopted, it said. Any traditional remedies that are judged effective could be fast-tracked for large-scale manufacturing.
Madagascar’s leader has been promoting an untested product he says can cure the disease despite the WHO warning against using untested remedies. The WHO said the new rules were aimed at helping and empowering scientists in Africa to conduct proper clinical trials.(bbc)…[+]

Hundreds protest against localised Madrid lockdowns

Hundreds of residents in some poorer areas of the Spanish capital Madrid have protested against what they call discrimination ahead of new lockdown measures to stem a rise in Covid-19.
The curbs on movement and gatherings start on Monday and affect 850,000 people, many in areas of lower income and with higher immigrant populations.
Protesters said they felt abandoned and called for better health provisions.
Spain has the highest number of coronavirus cases in Europe.
Madrid is once again the worst-hit region. On Sunday, peaceful protests were held in 12 of the 37 districts affected by the new restrictions. In Vallecas, a southern district with one of the highest infection rates in the capital, residents said the health system was paralysed and that they were feeling stigmatised and fearful that the new restrictions will deprive them of income.(BBC)…[+]

UAE central bank failed to prevent sanctions evasion

The United Arab Emirates’ central bank failed to act on warnings about a local firm which was helping Iran to evade sanctions, the BBC has found.
Leaked documents show Dubai-based Gunes General Trading processed $142m (£110m) in suspicious transactions through the UAE financial system in 2011 and 2012. The activity was flagged by a British bank, but the firm was able to continue using local financial institutions.
In 2016, the US said it was involved in a major sanctions-busting scheme. The Central Bank of the UAE did not respond to the BBC’s request for comment. Gunes General Trading has been wound up within the last two years. The BBC has been unable to reach anyone for comment. The documents – known as the FinCEN Files – were leaked to BuzzFeed News, then shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and BBC News Arabic.(BBC)…[+]

Thai national park sends rubbish back to tourists

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If you litter in this Thai national park, your rubbish may just come back to haunt you.  Well, not exactly haunt, but it’ll be shipped to your home as a pointed reminder that when out in nature, you had better clean up after yourself.

Authorities in the popular Khao Yai National Park near Bangkok will start sending rubbish back to litterers, Thailand’s environment minister said. Offenders will also be registered with the police. Visitors to the park have to register with their addresses, making it easy for rangers to track them down if they leave rubbish behind.

Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa posted pictures of litter collected in cardboard parcels ready to be shipped on his Facebook account. “Your trash – we’ll send it back to you,” the post warns, reminding people that littering in a national park is an offence and punishable with up to five years in prison and hefty fines.(BBC)…[+]

Amal Clooney quits government envoy role over law break plan

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Amal Clooney has quit her role as the UK’s envoy on press freedom “in dismay” at the government’s willingness to break international law over Brexit. The human rights lawyer said it was “lamentable” for Boris Johnson to be contemplating overriding the Brexit agreement he signed last year.

She could not tell others to honour legal obligations when the UK “declares it does not intend to do so itself”. The PM says he does not want to use the powers in the Internal Markets Bill. But he says the legislation is necessary to give the government the power to protect the UK and, particularly Northern Ireland, if trade talks fail and the EU acts “unreasonably”. In her resignation letter, Ms Clooney, who is married to Hollywood actor George Clooney, said she had accepted the job last year because of the UK’s historic role in upholding the international legal order.(NU)…[+]

Covid-19: New fear grips Europe as cases top 30m worldwide


The number of confirmed coronavirus cases across the globe has surpassed 30 million, according to figures by America’s Johns Hopkins University. More than 940,000 have died with Covid-19 since the outbreak began in China late last year. The US, India and Brazil have the most confirmed cases, but there is a renewed spike in infections across Europe. Many northern hemisphere countries are now bracing for a second wave of the pandemic as winter approaches. 

In the UK, the government is considering taking further England-wide measures including a short period of restrictions to try to slow a second surge of infections. Outside Europe, Israel brings in a second nationwide lockdown later on Friday – the first nation to do so. Africa has recorded more than a million confirmed cases, although the true extent of the pandemic in the continent is not known. Testing rates are reported to be low, which could distort official figures.(BBC)…[+]

Boeing’s ‘culture of concealment’ to blame for 737 crashes


Two fatal crashes of Boeing 737 Max aircraft were partly due to the plane-maker’s unwillingness to share technical details, a congressional investigation has found. It blames a “culture of concealment” at Boeing, but says the regulatory system was also “fundamentally flawed”.

Boeing said it had “learned many hard lessons” from the accidents. But families of the victims accused the company and the regulator of continuing to hide information.  The US report is highly critical of both Boeing and the regulator, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). “Boeing failed in its design and development of the Max, and the FAA failed in its oversight of Boeing and its certification of the aircraft,” the 18-month investigation concluded.

The Boeing 737 Max has been grounded since March 2019 after two crashes, in Indonesia and Ethiopia, caused the deaths of 346 people.The nearly 250-page report found a series of failures in the plane’s design, combined with “regulatory capture”, an overly close relationship between Boeing and the federal regulator, which compromised the process of gaining safety certification.(BBC)…[+]

UN investigators accuse authorities of crimes against humanity

United Nations (UN) investigators say Venezuela’s government has “committed egregious violations” amounting to crimes against humanity. Cases of killings, torture, violence and disappearances were investigated in a fact-finding mission for the UN Human Rights Council. The UN team said President Nicolás Maduro and other top officials were implicated. Venezuela’s UN ambassador has described the mission as a “hostile initiative”. Ambassador Jorge Valero said last year that the UN action was part of a US-led campaign. The UN team was blocked from travelling into the country. Venezuela is suffering a severe economic and political crisis. Millions have fled in recent years. 

In the report of its findings on Wednesday, the UN team said Venezuela’s security services had been engaged in a pattern of systematic violence since 2014, aimed at suppressing political opposition and generally terrorising the population. Mr Maduro and the ministers of interior and defence were not only aware of the crimes, but gave orders, coordinated operations and supplied resources, the report said.(BBC)…[+]

Smoke spreads to New York and Washington


Smoke from the wildfires ravaging much of the US West Coast has spread to the east of the country, casting a haze over New York and Washington DC. The blazes have burned vast areas of land and killed at least 36 people since early August. They have also caused some of the most unhealthy air on the planet in several western states.

Scientists said the smoke on the East Coast was so high that it would not impact air quality. Satellite images showed the smoke being carried to the East Coast by the jet stream – a narrow zone of high-speed winds – across the Mid-Atlantic. The National Weather Service (NWS) in New York said smoke passing over the state was 25,000ft (7,620m) high on Tuesday. “If you looked up to the sky today, you may have seen a yellow or brown tinge. You were seeing smoke from the fires”, the NWS said on Twitter.(BBC)…[+]

We Charity to exit Canada amid Trudeau scandal probe


A charity that has been a key player in a scandal involving Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, says it will no longer operate in the country. In a press release, WE Charity announced it would be “winding down the organization’s operations in Canada”. The charity’s co-founders, Craig and Marc Kielburger, will also leave the organisation. WE was under the spotlight after it was picked to run the Canada Student Service Grant, a summer programme.

The C$900m ($679m, £519m) volunteer initiative was supposed to help students who were out of their summer jobs because of the pandemic. It later emerged that Mr Trudeau’s mother and brother had been paid for speaking at various WE events over the years. Mr Trudeau is facing the third ethics investigation of his five years in office over the government’s decision to task WE with administering the programme.(BBC)…[+]