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Over 700 migrants feared dead in Mediterranean this week – UN

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Mediterranean Sea shipwrecks

Refugee agency says survivors from three shipwrecks being taken to Italian ports but hundreds of people still missing

More than 700 migrants are feared dead in three Mediterranean Sea shipwrecks off southern Italy in the last few days as they tried to reach Europe in unseaworthy boats, according to the UN refugee agency.

Carlotta Sami, spokeswoman for UNHCR, said on Sunday that an estimated 100 people were missing from a smugglers’ boat that capsized on Wednesday. The Italian navy took horrific pictures of that capsizing as it attempted to rescue survivors.

She said about 550 others were missing from a smuggling boat that capsized on Thursday morning after leaving the western Libyan port of Sabratha a day earlier.

She said refugees said that boat, which was carrying about 670 people, did not have an engine and was being towed by another packed smuggling boat before it capsized. About 25 people from the capsized boat managed to reach the first boat while 79 others were rescued by international patrol boats and 15 bodies were recovered.

In a third shipwreck on Friday, Sami said 135 people were rescued, 45 bodies recovered and an unknown number of people – many more, the migrants say – were missing.

Survivors were being taken to the Italian ports of Taranto and Pozzallo. Sami said the UN agency was trying to gather further information.

Italy’s southern islands are the main destinations for countless numbers of smuggling boats launched from Libya each week packed with people seeking jobs and safety in Europe. Hundreds of migrants drown each year attempting the dangerous Mediterranean Sea crossing.

 

source : http://www.theguardian.com/

Politics

Opposition Conservative Party calls for criminal probe into Trudeau’s ties to charity

The call came a day after media reported that WE Charity had financial dealings with Trudeau’s family members.

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Justin Trudeau

Ottawa, July 11 : Canada’s opposition Conservative Party has called for a criminal investigation into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to hand almost a billion-dollar program to a charity, which reportedly paid his family a large amount of money to speak at the group’s events.

“Not only did Justin Trudeau not recuse himself from the decision to hand almost a billion dollars to WE Charity, we know now that the organization paid his family almost C$300,000. It is clear that a criminal investigation is warranted. As such, Conservatives will be writing to the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) to encourage them pursue this case,” the opposition said in a statement on Friday.

The Conservative Party also alleged that Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act that “prohibits public office holders from making any decision or participating in the making of a decision that furthers their private interests or improperly furthers the private interests of another person”, reports Xinhua news agency.

The call came a day after media reported that WE Charity had financial dealings with Trudeau’s family members.

Trudeau”s mother and brother have reportedly been paid a total of C$282,000 to appear at WE Charity events, according to Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

CTV reported that Trudeau”s wife received C$1,400 for participating in a WE Charity event in 2012, before the Prime Minister became leader of the ruling Liberal Party.

She currently hosts a podcast for the charity group.

Trudeau and his government have been under fire since the charity was announced as the manager of the Canada Student Service Grant program.

Canadian Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion announced last week that he was investigating into a possible breach of federal conflict of interest act by Trudeau after his government”s decision to award the WE Charity the contract to administer a summer student grant program of C$900 million.

In a statement on Friday, New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh said that the hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to the trio of Trudeau”s family members were “more than disturbing”, and illustrate a “pattern of behaviour”.

Meanwhile, Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet called on the Prime Minister to “step aside” until the completion of the ethics commissioner investigation.

WE Charity announced last week that it was pulling out of administering the program.

Some 35,000 students and recent graduates have applied for the program, which connects them with volunteering opportunities in exchange for payments of between C$1,000 and C$5,000, depending on the number of hours worked.

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Business

Trump downplays chances of new China trade deal

In January, Trump had signed the phase one trade deal with China that focused on increasing US exports of agricultural, energy and other products.

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US-China-trade-war

Washington, July 11 : US President Donald Trump has downplayed chances of a new China trade deal as he slammed the Asian giants handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the media reported.

Addressing reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday, the President said that the US” relationship with China has been “severely damaged”, adding that he has “other things in mind” than a second trade agreement, known as phase two, Politico news reported.

“They could have stopped the plague, they could have stopped it, they didn”t stop it,” he said, referring to the pandemic, which had first emerged in China”s Wuhan city last December.

“They stopped it from going into the remaining portions of China from Wuhan… They could have stopped the plague, they didn”t,” the President was quoted as saying in the Politico news report.

In January, Trump had signed the phase one trade deal with China that focused on increasing US exports of agricultural, energy and other products.

This is not the first time Trump has slammed China over the pandemic.

In recent weeks, Trump has described COVID-19 “kung flu” and the “Chinese virus”.

Top administration officials like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have called it the “Wuhan virus”.

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World

Pressure mounts on Priti Patel to grant asylum to Sudanese girl

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London, July 11 : UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has been urged by former judges and politicians to grant asylum to an 11-year-old Sudanese girl who would be at high risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) if taken abroad.

Around 300 people including politicians, judges and activists have signed an open letter to Patel.

The case of the Sudanese girl, Jasmine, gathered enormous support since it was reported by the The Guardian newspaper last week that she remained at risk of deportation to Sudan via Bahrain despite being the subject of an FGM protection order.

Labour MP Helena Kennedy, former chief prosecutor Nazir Afzal and more than 30 MPs have added their names to the letter published by the the Good Law Project, a not-for-profit membership organisation.

The letter is spearheaded by activist Hooda Ali who herself is a victim of FGM and has witnessed life-changing consequences after being cut aged seven.

Ali said: “Jasmine will be aware of FGM because her mother has been cut, her aunties died after being cut. She will have been taught in school that her body belongs to her… But at home she hears of risk of FGM, that is incredibly confusing and scary.”

Patel mounted a legal challenge around the case, which was dismissed at a hearing last month in the court of appeal.

Kennedy said: “This case has been fought hard by the Home Office because it lives in terror that if it becomes too easy to flee FGM and get asylum, the UK will be flooded with applicants. But every case should be decided on its own merit. It is very important our courts take a tough position on Female Genital Mutilation, which is a form of torture.”

Jasmine was brought to the UK at the age of three by her mother, who is also a victim of FGM and whose two sisters died after being cut in their native Sudan.

The single mother”s claim for asylum failed but inquiries by the family court into her daughter”s welfare led a judge to conclude: “It is difficult to think of a clearer or more serious case where the risk of FGM is so high.”

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