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A record number of migrants has crossed the English Channel from France to the United Kingdom this year in small boats. The British government is seeking to deter the migrants by making irregular migration a criminal offense.The migrants come from Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. Most are fleeing conflict or poverty.At its narrowest point, the English Channel is 30 kilometers wide. The migrants usually travel in overloaded inflatable dinghies across the busiest shipping lane in the world. British and French intelligence services say the crossings are coordinated by networks of people smugglers, who charge about $3,000 per person.French police patrol the coastline to intercept migrants, but say the coastline is too vast to prevent all departures. Once inside British waters, the migrants must be taken ashore under international law.A man thought to be a migrant who made the crossing from France is escorted along a walkway past dinghies after disembarking from a British border force vessel in Dover, south east England, July 22, 2021.A record 430 people made the crossing in a single day last month. The total for 2021 so far stands at around 8,500, according to data from PA Media, formerly the Press Association, that was collated from government statistics. That number is higher than all of 2020, when 8,461 people made the crossing.Speaking in parliament last month, Home Secretary Priti Patel said the government would take action to stop the migration.“We’re seeing right now is effectively people trafficking, smugglers, criminal gangs exploiting our asylum system to bring in economic migrants and people that, quite frankly, are circumventing our legal migration routes, coming to our country illegally,” she told lawmakers last month.“This is an evolving situation. The numbers of migrants attempting these crossings from France have increased considerably,” she said.The spike in arrivals has embroiled Britain’s revered sea rescue charity, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), into the controversy. Critics accuse the charity of providing a “taxi service” to Britain. The RNLI has defended its actions.“When our lifeboats launch, we operate under international maritime law, which states we are permitted, and indeed obligated, to enter all waters regardless of territories for search and rescue purposes. And when it comes to rescuing those people attempting to cross the channel, we do not question why they got into trouble, who they are or where they come from. All we need to know is that they need our help,” RNLI chief executive Mark Dowie said in a statement last month.A group of people thought to be migrants crossing from France, come ashore aboard the local lifeboat at Dungeness, southern England, July 20, 2021.The government argues that the migrants should seek asylum in the first safe country in which they arrive, rather than traveling to Britain. Its proposed legislation would sentence migrants who enter Britain without permission up to four years in prison.Bridget Chapman of Kent Refugee Action Network, a charity that supports migrants arriving across the English Channel, said retribution won’t deter the migrants.“It flies in the face of international law, you know. The Geneva Convention states that people have a right to seek asylum, and it can be in a country of their choosing. It feels very deliberately punitive. It feels like saber rattling. It feels like a lot of tough talk to make people feel that the U.K. is not a welcoming place. The fact is that that’s not going to stop people from coming,” she told VOA.A committee of British lawmakers last week condemned the living conditions for newly arrived migrants in the port of Dover. During a visit to a migrant reception center, women with babies and very young children were seen sleeping on thin mattresses on the floor.Meanwhile, Britain has given France $75 million to beef up policing of the northern French coastline to try to intercept migrants, on top of the $39 million it gave last year.France has called for the European Union to conduct reconnaissance flights over the English Channel.


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A record number of migrants has crossed the English Channel this year from France to Britain in small boats. The British government is aiming to deter the migrants by making it a criminal offense to arrive in the country without permission, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London. Camera:  Henry Ridgwell   


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Працівники ДФС вилучили «первинні фінансово-господарські документи по проведеним роботам з ремонту та реконструкції парків»


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Rescue ships picked up more than 700 people trying to cross the Mediterranean in makeshift vessels this weekend, mainly off the coasts of Libya and Malta, a migrant aid group said Sunday.The latest figures came as United Nations migration officials repeated their calls for a fairer mechanism to share the responsibility of caring for them, rather than leaving it to the Mediterranean countries.SOS Mediterranee said that its vessel, the Ocean Viking, had carried out six operations in international waters since Saturday.  In the last intervention, it rescued 106 people off the Maltese coast after being alerted by German aid group Sea Watch, said the Marseille-based organization.”The youngest survivor rescued in this operation is just 3 months old,” SOS Mediterranee tweeted.Overnight Saturday to Sunday, the Ocean Viking joined vessels from Sea Watch and ResQship, another German group, to help 400 people in difficulty in the central Mediterranean, said the group.They were rescued from a vessel that was taking on water, in what a spokesman for the organization told AFP was a particularly perilous operation.Those who were rescued were shared out between the Ocean Viking and Sea-Watch3.Ocean Viking alone has 555 passengers on board from this weekend’s operations, including at least 28 women, two of whom are pregnant. The organization has yet to determine at which safe port they will be able to leave them.Libya remains one of the main departure points for tens of thousands of migrants hoping to attempt the dangerous Mediterranean crossing, despite the continuing insecurity in the country. Most of them try to reach the Italian coast, about 300 kilometers (190 miles) away.Celine Schmitt, the spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ French operation, said last month there was an urgent need for an automatic system to share the new arrivals between countries, to ensure them a better reception, and not leave it to Mediterranean countries to assume sole responsibility.”If we look at the central Mediterranean, last year, there were fewer than 50,000 people who arrived,” she said.”It is totally manageable for the European population,” when you consider there are 82 million people around the world who have been forced to flee their homes, Schmitt said.International Organization for Migration (IOM) spokesman Paul Dillon took a similar position last week.”By advocating for better migration management practices, better migration governance and greater solidarity from EU member states, we can come up with a clear, safe and humane approach to this issue that begins with saving lives at sea,” he said.The central Mediterranean crossing, between Libya and Italy or Malta, is by far the deadliest in the world, according to figures from the IOM.Of the 1,113 deaths recorded in the Mediterranean in the first half of this year, 930 of them were recorded there.Nevertheless, according to the latest IOM figures, increasing numbers of migrants have attempted the crossing this year.
 


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Britain will begin offering a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to 32 million Britons starting in early September, The Telegraph reported Sunday. The shots will be available in as many as 2,000 pharmacies with the goal of getting them into arms by early December.
 
The government has been preparing since at least June, when the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) called for a plan to offer the third shot to people 70 years old or older, care home residents and those who are vulnerable for health reasons.
 
At least 90% of British adults have received at least one shot, but that rate falls to 60% for those 18-30 years old, government figures show.  
 
To encourage younger adults to get vaccinated before colder weather prompts people to spend more time indoors, the Department of Health and Social Care said that restaurants, food delivery services and ride-hailing apps are offering discounts to persuade people to be vaccinated.
 
“The lifesaving vaccines not only protect you, your loved ones and your community, but they are helping to bring us back together by allowing you to get back to doing the things you’ve missed,” Health Secretary Sajid Javid said, according to the Associated Press.
British Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton, who tested positive for COVID-19 in December, said he may be suffering its effects after appearing unwell Sunday after finishing second at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
 
“I’ve been fighting all year really with staying healthy after what happened at the end of last year and it’s still, it’s a battle,” the 36-year-old said after seeing a doctor after the race. “I haven’t spoken to anyone about it but I think (the effects of COVID are) lingering. I remember the effects of when I had it and training has been different since then.”
 
In Berlin, thousands marched Sunday to protest pandemic restrictions and about 600 protesters were detained after clashes with police, the AP reported.Police officers scuffle with demonstrators during a protest against government measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, in Berlin, Germany Aug. 1, 2021.While Germany eased many of its restrictions in May, large gatherings remain banned. The number of new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, remain low but are rising. Germany, with a population of 83 million, reported 2,100 new cases Sunday, more than 500 above last Sunday’s number.
 
Since the pandemic began, it has reported 3.8 million cases and 92,000 deaths.  
 
More than 200 employees at two major hospitals in San Francisco, in the western U.S. state of California, have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a report Saturday in The New York Times.  
 
Most of the staff members at Zuckerberg San Francisco General and the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center Hospital were fully vaccinated and most of them tested positive for the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus, according to the newspaper.  
 
Only two cases required hospitalization. The hospitalization rate would have been higher without vaccinations, said Dr. Lukejohn Day, Zuckerberg’s chief medical officer.  
 
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center said Sunday evening there are 198 million cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and 4.2 million deaths globally. The U.S. leads the world in the number of COVID-19 cases, with 35 million, and 613,174 deaths, according to the university.
 Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters. 


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Kosovo’s president on Sunday awarded a medal to the late son of U.S. President Joe Biden for his service in building the country’s justice system after war ended more than two decades ago.Beau Biden worked in Kosovo after the 1998-1999 war, helping to train local prosecutors and judges for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. The former Delaware attorney general died in 2015 of cancer aged 46.“Beau’s work in Kosovo was heartfelt; he fell in love with the country,” President Biden said in a pre-recorded video message played during the ceremony in Pristina on Sunday.“Beau could see what you could do, Beau could see even then the future that was possible for your proud country. The future that Kosovo had so long been denied,” Biden said.In 2016 Biden, then vice president, unveiled a memorial to his son in Kosovo. A road leading to Camp Bondsteel, home to the 700 American soldiers who still help maintain the fragile peace in Kosovo, was also named after Beau Biden.Naming streets after U.S. officials has become something of a tradition in Kosovo, whose population is mainly ethnic Albanian, and which considers the United States its savior for its support of a 1999 bombing campaign that deprived Serbia of control of Kosovo.Kosovo declared independence in 2008 with Western backing, but Serbia still refuses to recognize it and considers it part of its territory.“What the United States and the American people have done for our country, for our freedom, for our right to exist, goes beyond any partnership currently witnessed in the world. Mr. President, Kosovo is your home too,” said Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani while presenting the award. 
 


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After a slow start, the European Union has now overtaken the United States in vaccinating its citizens against COVID-19. Anti-vaccine resistance remains, including in France, where officials estimate more than 200,000 people joined demonstrations this weekend to protest a mandatory health pass.Brandishing banners proclaiming “freedom” and “pass of shame,” tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Paris and other French cities Saturday against government measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic, and the disease it causes, COVID-19.While many of the protests were peaceful, several police officers were wounded trying to keep order in Paris. In the southern city of Marseille, demonstrators destroyed a coronavirus testing tent, shouting “assassins” and “collaborators.”The demonstrations marked the third straight weekend of protests and were the biggest so far. Some protesters have worn yellow Stars of David similar to those Jews were forced to wear in the former Nazi Germany — a move slammed by Holocaust survivors. The protesters included members of the far left and far right, and those representing the yellow vest economic justice movement born a few years ago.“We’re protesting the government system that’s been in place for decades,” one protester told French radio, calling new coronavirus measures another example of bad government.Police detain a protester during a demonstration in Paris, France, July 31, 2021. Demonstrators gathered in several cities to protest against the COVID-19 pass, which grants vaccinated individuals greater ease of access to venues.The new policies aim to fight the sharply rising tide of infections, driven by the highly contagious delta variant. Among them: making COVID vaccines mandatory for health workers and requiring health passes showing people have been vaccinated or tested negative for the infection, to gain access to restaurants, movie theaters, trains and tourist venues.President Emmanuel Macron has said he respects the right to protest, but that vaccinations are an essential arm to fight the coronavirus — and that French also have responsibilities along with rights, and civic duties.Unvaccinated people now comprise about 85% of hospitalizations in France, and 78% of COVID-19 linked deaths. But some here are still skeptical or worried about the shot.While supporting the new health pass, conservative lawmaker Philippe Bas told French radio Sunday the government must strengthen public confidence.Like France, Italy has seen protests against vaccines and other measures to curb the pandemic. The public response, however, has been more positive elsewhere in Europe, including in Denmark and Spain.And despite demonstrations here, polls show the majority of French back the health pass. More than half are now fully vaccinated. Macron, who faces reelection next year, has also seen his approval rating rise in recent months over his handling of the pandemic.Some information for this report came from AFP, Reuters, Radio France, Europe 1, France 24, France Television & Le Monde.
 


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The Russian hackers behind the massive SolarWinds cyberespionage campaign broke into the email accounts of some of the most prominent federal prosecutors’ offices around the country last year, the Justice Department said.The department said 80% of Microsoft email accounts used by employees in the four U.S. attorney offices in New York were breached. All told, the Justice Department said, in 27 U.S. attorney offices at least one employee’s email account was compromised during the hacking campaign.The Justice Department said in a statement Friday that it believes the accounts were compromised from May 7 to Dec. 27, 2020. Such a timeframe is notable because the SolarWinds campaign, which infiltrated dozens of private-sector companies and think tanks as well as at least nine U.S. government agencies, was first discovered and publicized in mid-December.The Biden administration in April announced sanctions, including the expulsion of Russian diplomats, in response to the SolarWinds hack and Russian interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Russia has denied wrongdoing.Jennifer Rodgers, a lecturer at Columbia Law School, said office emails frequently contained all sorts of sensitive information, including case strategy discussions and names of confidential informants, when she was a federal prosecutor in New York.”I don’t remember ever having someone bring me a document instead of emailing it to me because of security concerns,” she said, noting exceptions for classified materials.The Administrative Office of U.S. Courts confirmed in January that it was also breached, giving the SolarWinds hackers another entry point to steal confidential information like trade secrets, espionage targets, whistleblower reports and arrest warrants.The list of affected offices includes several large and high-profile ones like those in Los Angeles, Miami, Washington and the Eastern District of Virginia.The Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, where large numbers of staff were hit, handle some of the most prominent prosecutions in the country.”New York is the financial center of the world and those districts are particularly well known for investigating and prosecuting white-collar crimes and other cases, including investigating people close to the former president,” said Bruce Green, a professor at Fordham Law School and a former prosecutor in the Southern District.The department said all victims had been notified and it is working to mitigate “operational, security and privacy risks” caused by the hack. The Justice Department said in January that it had no indication that any classified systems were affected.The Justice Department did not provide additional detail about what kind of information was taken and what impact such a hack may have on ongoing cases. Members of Congress have expressed frustration with the Biden administration for not sharing more information about the impact of the SolarWinds campaign.The Associated Press previously reported that SolarWinds hackers had gained access to email accounts belonging to the then-acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and members of the department’s cybersecurity staff, whose jobs included hunting threats from foreign countries. 


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A protest about an armed attack that killed seven members of a Kurdish family was held Saturday in the Turkish city of Van in the country’s central Konya province. Relatives of the slain family say the attack Friday was racially motivated.”This was an entirely racist attack,” Abdurrahman Karabulut, the family’s lawyer, told Arti TV.Karabulut and the pro-Kurdish opposition party said the family had been previously targeted for being Kurdish. Gunmen attacked the family in May and the family was worried about being attacked again.Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said calling the attack a racist crime was “a provocation.”The Associated Press reports several people were arrested after the May attack and two suspects remain in custody.Turkish officials say the attack was the result of a lengthy feud between two families.The other family involved in the skirmishes is not Kurdish.VOA Kurdish Service’s Van, Turkey-based stringer Arif Aslan said after Saturday’s protest, police began attacking demonstrators.Aslan told VOA that police attacked him and prevented him from taking any footage of the clashes. The police, Aslan said, told him that his VOA credentials were not acceptable, and Van’s public prosecutor wanted Aslan arrested.By that time, however, Aslan’s lawyer was on the scene and told the police that they did not have the right to obstruct journalists from doing their jobs.  Aslan said he was held on the street for an hour but was not arrested.Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse. 


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Authorities said Saturday that 10 suspects had been detained in the killing of seven people from an ethnic Kurdish family in Turkey’s central Konya province.The members of the Dedeoglu family were killed in a brutal gun attack Friday. Officials said they had not yet apprehended the gunman. A statement from the Konya prosecutor’s office said initial evidence pointed to an ongoing fight between two families who lived in the same area.But the family’s lawyer and the pro-Kurdish opposition party said the killings were ethnically motivated. After an attack in May, one member of the family — who was among Friday’s victims — told reporters that they were being harassed and attacked for being Kurdish.Lawyer Abdurrahman Karabulut said family members had worried they would be attacked again.Years of frictionThe prosecutor’s office said in a statement that enmity between the two families dated to 2010. Two fights in 2021 led to investigations; two people remain in custody because of those probes, but other suspects were released. The statement rejected the claim of a racially motivated attack.There were few details given about those arrested, but media reports said the other family was not Kurdish.The co-leader of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said the ethnic Kurdish family members were killed because of hate speech and linked it to a rise in what he called racist attacks. Mithat Sancar accused the government of targeting the HDP and Kurds in general.Media reports said the family’s house was set on fire after the attack.Turkey has been fighting a Kurdish insurgency since 1984 and the conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives, including civilians targeted by car bombs in 2016 and 2017 that were blamed on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The decadeslong conflict has also included discriminatory state policies and an ethnically charged atmosphere. Kurds are Turkey’s second-largest ethnic group.Interior minister Suleyman Soylu said allegations that the killings were ethnically motivated were a provocation against the country’s unity.


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