Britain Allowing Hong Kongers to Seek Residency Under New Policy

Millions of Hong Kong residents who seek to leave the territory amid a new national security law imposed by China are now able to apply to live and work in Britain.     Britain began taking applications Sunday from Hong Kong residents who wish to relocate and travel under what is known as a British National Overseas, or BNO, passport.     The policy gives Hong Kong residents the ability to move to Britain, with a pathway to citizenship after five years.British Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted:   “The Hong Kong British National (Overseas) visa is now open for applications. BNO citizens have the choice to live, work and study in the U.K. – free to build new lives. This is a proud day in our strong historic relationship as …

100-Year-Old British Veteran Hospitalized With Virus He Raised Money to Fight

Tom Moore, the 100-year-old World War II veteran who captivated the British public in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic with his fundraising efforts, has been hospitalized with COVID-19, his daughter said Sunday.Hannah Ingram-Moore revealed in a statement posted on Twitter that her father, widely known as Captain Tom, has been admitted to Bedford Hospital because he needed “additional help” with his breathing.She said that over the past few weeks her father had been treated for pneumonia and that he had tested positive for the coronavirus last week.She said he is being treated in a ward, not in an intensive care unit.”The medical care he has received in the last few weeks has been remarkable and we know that the wonderful staff at Bedford Hospital will do all they …

Thousands Flee Hong Kong for UK, Fearing China Crackdown 

Thousands of Hong Kongers have already made the sometimes painful decision to leave behind their hometown and move to Britain since Beijing imposed a strict national security law on the Chinese territory last summer. Their numbers are expected to swell to the hundreds of thousands. Some are leaving because they fear punishment for supporting the pro-democracy protests that swept the former British colony in 2019. Others say China’s encroachment on their way of life and civil liberties has become unbearable, and they want to seek a better future for their children abroad. Most say they don’t plan to ever go back. The moves are expected to accelerate now that 5 million Hong Kongers are eligible to apply for visas to Britain, allowing them to live, work and study there and eventually apply to become …

UK Set to Formally Apply for Trans-Pacific Trade Bloc Membership 

Britain will next week formally apply to join a trans-Pacific trading bloc of 11 countries, with negotiations set to start later this year, the government has said.Since leaving the European Union, Britain has made clear its desire to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which removes most tariffs between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.”One year after our departure for the EU we are forging new partnerships that will bring enormous economic benefits for the people of Britain,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.Trade minister Liz Truss told Times Radio: “On Monday I am putting in the letter of intent” and that she expected formal negotiations will start in the spring.Reuters reported on Thursday that Britain will …

Wrangle Over Valuable Art Uncovered in Cypriot Ghost Town  

The abstract figures of naked women gyrating to the rhythms of a five-piece band had shocked many people almost 60 years ago as they eyed the artwork for the first time on the walls of a popular restaurant-nightclub in Cyprus.   The valuable and very rare concrete relief by Christoforos Savva, Cyprus’ most avant-garde artist of the 1960s, had lain hidden for decades in the underground recesses of the Perroquet nightclub in abandoned Varosha — an inaccessible ghost town that had been under Turkish military control since a 1974 war ethnically cleaved the island nation.   But with Varosha’s controversial partial opening last November, the artwork has again come to light following a report by local newspaper Politis. Now, the man who says he commissioned the art from Savva is asking authorities for help to …

More than 500 Detained in Russian Protests Supporting Opposition Leader

Russian police detained at least 500 protesters Sunday, as supporters of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny started to take to the streets for a second weekend.Defying arrests and criminal probes, the first protests took place in Siberia and Russia’s Far East, including the port city of Vladivostok.Navalny associates called again for nationwide demonstrations ahead of his trial, to start Tuesday.More than 250 of the arrests preceded an expected rally in Moscow, where demonstrations are usually the largest.Moscow police announced the closure of seven metro stations and have restricted the movement of pedestrians to downtown.Authorities have also ordered some restaurants and shops in the city center closed and above-ground transportation diverted.Navalny was arrested immediately upon his return to Russia in mid-January, ending a nearly five-month recovery in Germany from a poisoning …

Britain Focused on Collaboration with EU after Vaccine Row, Minister Says

Britain’s focus is on “collaboration” with the European Union on vaccines, the country’s vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi told The Sunday Telegraph, after a showdown between the two sides over vaccine exports.Zahawi told the newspaper in an interview that Britain’s focus was on collaborating with the bloc and that the country had tried to help Brussels with its vaccine supply problems and would continue to do so.  The EU had on Friday attempted to restrict some exports of COVID-19 vaccines by invoking an emergency Brexit clause before reversing part of its announcement within hours.    …

WHO Team Visits Wuhan Hospital That Treated Early Cases

Scientists with the World Health Organization’s team investigating the source of the coronavirus that has infected more than 102 million people worldwide and killed more than 2.2 million have visited one of the hospitals in Wuhan, China, that treated some of the first patients.Dutch virologist Marion Koopmans said on Twitter that the stories she’d heard at Jinyintan hospital were “quite similar to what I have heard from our ICU doctors.”Just back from visit at Jinyintan hospital, that specialised in infectious diseases and was designated for treatment of the first cases in Wuhan. Stories quite similar to what I have heard from our ICU doctors.— Marion Koopmans (@MarionKoopmans) A woman wearing a face mask walks past a closed souvenir shop near Berlin’s famed tourist magnet Checkpoint Charlie, Jan. 29, 2021, during …

Activists Rally Behind French-Vietnamese Woman’s Agent Orange Lawsuit

Activists gathered Saturday in Paris to support people exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, after a French court examined the case of a French-Vietnamese woman who sued 14 companies that produced and sold the powerful defoliant dioxin used by U.S. troops.Former journalist Tran To Nga, 78, described in a book how she was exposed to Agent Orange in 1966, when she was a member of the Vietnamese Communists, or Viet Cong, who fought against South Vietnam and the United States.”Because of that, I lost one child due to heart defects. I have two other daughters who were born with malformations. And my grandchildren, too,” she told The Associated Press.In 2014 in France, she sued firms that produced and sold Agent Orange, including U.S. multinational companies Dow Chemical and …

Russia Warns Navalny Supporters Not to Attend Sunday Protests 

Russian police have issued a strong warning against participating in protests planned for Sunday to call for the release of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the Kremlin’s most prominent foe.The warning came amid detentions of Navalny associates and opposition journalists and a police plan to restrict movement Sunday in the center of Moscow.Navalny was arrested January 17 after flying back to Russia from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from nerve-agent poisoning. His detention sparked nationwide protests one week ago in about 100 cities; nearly 4,000 people were reported arrested.The next demonstration in Moscow is planned for Lubyanka Square. The Federal Security Service, which Navalny claims arranged to have him poisoned with a Soviet-era nerve agent on behalf of the Kremlin, is headquartered in the square. The Russian …

Sources: Lithuanian President Nominates Belarus Opposition Leader for Nobel Prize

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has nominated Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya for the Nobel Peace Prize, two sources with knowledge of the matter said Saturday.Nauseda nominated the activist, who has been living in Lithuania since fleeing her homeland in the wake of a disputed August 9 presidential election, to show his support for the Belarusian democratic movement and its demand for free elections, one of the sources said.Months of mass protests erupted in Belarus after President Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory over Tsikhanouskaya in the poll. Thousands of protesters were rounded up and nearly all opposition political figures were driven into exile or jailed.A former teacher, Tsikhanouskaya ran for president after her husband, an opposition blogger with political ambitions, was detained ahead of the election. From her Vilnius office she has …

US Issues Mask-Wearing Mandate

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a mask-wearing mandate late Friday to apply on all forms of public transportation, part of the U.S. effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease. The order, which goes into effect Monday (at 11:59 p.m. EST, 4:59 GMT Tuesday), requires people to wear masks “while boarding, disembarking, and traveling on any conveyance into or within the United States,” and “at any transportation hub that provides transportation within the United States.”The order said: “”Requiring masks on our transportation systems will protect Americans and provide confidence that we can once again travel safely even during this pandemic.” Also Friday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed an extension to an order that was scheduled to expire Sunday concerning evictions for failure …

Putin Signs Extension of Last Russia-US Nuclear Arms Treaty

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed a bill extending the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty between Russia and the United States a week before the pact was set to expire.Both houses of the Russian parliament voted unanimously Wednesday to extend the New START treaty for five years. Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden had discussed the nuclear accord a day earlier, and the Kremlin said they agreed to complete the necessary extension procedures in the next few days.New START expires February 5. The pact’s extension doesn’t require congressional approval in the U.S., but Russian lawmakers had to ratify the move. Russian diplomats said the extension would be validated by exchanging diplomatic notes once all the procedures were completed.The treaty, signed in 2010 by President Barack Obama and Russian …

Why is Kremlin Tagging Protesters ‘Political Pedophiles’?

Russia’s state-controlled media has been turning to a disinformation playbook it has used before in a bid to discredit protesters agitating for the release from prison of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, say analysts.Navalny was detained on his return to Moscow for parole violations after recovering in Germany from a near-fatal poisoning. His arrest has triggered the largest anti-Kremlin protests seen in Russia since 2011, and Washington is being blamed for the demonstrations, with Kremlin officials and state media presenters alleging that Western powers, mainly the U.S., are behind the agitation.“Washington is becoming a convenient pretext for accusations, although in reality it has very little to do with what is happening,” Donald Jensen, director of the United States Institute of Peace, a research organization, told VOA’s Russian service. “This is a question …

EU Drug Regulator Approves AstraZeneca Vaccine for Emergency Use

European Union regulators on Friday approved the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, the third vaccine approved for use on the European continent. Amid criticism the bloc is not moving fast enough to vaccinate its population, the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) expert committee unanimously recommended the vaccine for adults, despite concerns of inadequate data proving its effectiveness for people over 55. Addressing reporters from agency headquarters in Amsterdam, EMA chief Emer Cooke told reporters the agency had approved the drug for conditional or emergency use because clinical studies found the vaccine to be about 60% effective at fighting the coronavirus — lower than the two previously approved vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which show efficacy in the 90% range. Many EU health officials had been anticipating approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine because it …

German Health Minister Expects Approval of AstraZenaca COVID-19 Vaccine

Germany’s health minister said Friday he expects the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to be approved for emergency use later in the day but possibly only for restricted use. Speaking at a Berlin news briefing, German Health Minster Jens Spahn said Europe’s drug regulator, the Europe Medicines Agency (EMA) could approve the new vaccine with restrictions because data on its use on the elderly was “insufficient.” Spahn said it was important to point out the difference between insufficient data and “bad” data. Speaking at the same news conference, Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI) President Klaus Cichutek, said there had been heated debate regarding the vaccine during the approval process this past week, but he believed the “essential groundwork” had been laid to approve the drug without an age restriction.   He said, “the …

Turkish Opposition Challenge Erdogan Over Uighur Silence

The fate of tens of thousands of Uighur refugees in Turkey faced with possible deportation to China is threatening to become an embarrassing political debacle for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has long positioned himself as an avowed defender of Muslim rights globally.FILE – Leader of the Good Party Meral Aksener gestures as she speaks during the party’s 4th Extraordinary Meeting in Ankara, Turkey, on Aug. 3, 2019.”They tell you that they’re the biggest [defenders of] Muslims, but they fail to hear the cries of our brothers and sisters who are tortured for saying they’re Muslim Turks,” said Meral Aksener of Turkey’s center-right Good Party in a speech Wednesday to her parliamentary deputies bashing Erdogan’s ruling AKP lawmakers.A simulcast of the speech broadcast by Turkish state television was cut …

Britain Upholding ‘Freedom and Autonomy’ With New HK Visas

Britain’s government vowed Friday to stand by the people of its former colony, Hong Kong, against a Chinese crackdown as it prepared to launch a new visa scheme potentially benefiting millions. Starting Sunday, holders of British National (Overseas) status — a legacy of British rule over Hong Kong up to 1997 — will be able to apply to live and work in Britain for up to five years, and eventually seek citizenship. Before the change, BN(O) passport holders have had only limited rights to visit Britain for up to six months and not to work or settle. Britain says it is acting in response to the National Security Law imposed by China last year, which has devastated Hong Kong’s democracy movement and shredded freedoms meant to last 50 years under the 1997 handover …

Greek Students, Teachers Defy Weeklong Ban on Protests

Thousands of students and teachers held peaceful demonstrations in Greece’s two biggest cities Thursday against proposed education reforms, defying a weeklong ban on protests imposed as part of measures to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. About 4,000 people, wearing masks against the virus, marched through the streets of Athens, while another roughly 1,500 demonstrated in the northern city of Thessaloniki. Protesters oppose reforms that include plans to set up a state security division at university campuses.  On Tuesday, the government announced a ban on protests attended by more than 100 people until February 1, as part of the measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Violations are punishable by fines of up to 3,000 euros ($3,650) for individuals organizing rallies or demonstrations, and 5,000 euros (about $6,000) for groups or organizations. A …

Poles Take to Streets in Protest as Near-total Abortion Ban Takes Effect

Protesters took to the streets of the Polish capital, Warsaw, late Wednesday and more demonstrations were scheduled for Thursday after the government implemented a court ruling that placed a near-total ban on abortions.The ruling, which was made October 22 but came into force Wednesday, permits abortions only in cases of rape and incest, and when the mother’s life or health is endangered. Doctors performing illegal abortions in Poland face jail.The implementation had been delayed by Poland’s conservative government after nationwide protests in October. But publishing the law late Wednesday triggered a new round of protests in Warsaw, with the promise of more, wider-spread protests Thursday, carried out in defiance of COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings.The constitutional court is made up mostly of Law and Justice Party appointees who ruled on a motion brought …