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Saudi authorities have warned that anyone spreading "baseless" rumours on social media could face up to five years in prison and a huge fine.

It comes after a cancelled concert in Riyadh led to reports online that young women were being sexually harassed as they tried to make their way home.

Some of the women have told the BBC of their fears over posting about what happened after the event.

The Saudi entertainment chief appeared to mock their claims in several tweets.

This is the latest development in the cultural and social clash that the opening up of Saudi Arabia from an austere and deeply conservative society to one that now hosts mass entertainment events has engendered.

The much anticipated concert, headlined by the K-Pop band Stray Kids, on the evening of 14 January was called off at the last moment due to high winds. Disappointed fans struggled to find their way home from the venue on the outskirts of the Saudi capital.


Reports began appearing on social media saying that girls had gone missing, as well as warnings of sexual harassment. Online at least, there appeared to be panic. Hashtags proliferated, amplifying the sense of jeopardy.

The reality is still unclear.

Many people who say they were there have since stated that no such incidents occurred and that the organisers did a good job in difficult circumstances.

Their case is perhaps strengthened by the fact that as the evening progressed, pictures were posted of men who were supposedly harassing women - but some of these were randomly taken from social media accounts or simply those of celebrities. This trolling undermined the assertions by a number of women that such incidents had taken place.

The head of the Saudi Entertainment Authority, Turki al-Sheikh, subsequently posted a number of tweets that appeared to mock the reports of harassment as entirely made up.

Memes swiftly sprang up, ridiculing the reports of harassment or of girls who had gone missing by a host of online accounts that accused those who had posted or reposted them of lying in order to discredit and embarrass Saudi Arabia.


But several women who have spoken to the BBC previously about their concerns over harassment of women at entertainment events in the kingdom insist that some of what was reported was genuine. They concede that this is hard to prove - as there don't appear to be videos or photos to back up the claims.

This is a perennial issue in Saudi Arabia where anyone posting such material puts themselves at risk - the women speaking to the BBC keep their identities hidden and use voice disguise devices when appearing on public forums like Spaces on Twitter.

They say that some of those who posted reports on social media or hosted discussions online about what they believed was happening have received threats and closed down their accounts. They believe that the official reaction is aimed at silencing those who might tarnish the new image of Saudi Arabia as an open, welcoming hub of entertainment in the region.

They fear that it will inhibit women in future from going public with experiences of sexual harassment - which they say is already constrained by the traditional social norms of the Kingdom.

This latest furore over an entertainment event comes weeks after the four-day MDL Beast music festival - also in Riyadh - attracted not only hundreds of thousands of people, but also something of a backlash from conservative elements in Saudi Arabia.

The organisers of the event issued a code of conduct that stipulated that there would be zero tolerance for any form of harassment.


Bolstering the sense that the Saudi authorities may indeed be taking the issue seriously was the recent case of a man found guilty of sexual harassment. His name was published in local media - the first time that this has happened.

Supporters of the Saudi crown prince's ambitious project for opening the kingdom up to the world say these are teething troubles, inevitable when such a traditional culture is undergoing such huge changes.

But for the women who voiced their concern over what they believe happened on 14 January, the fear is that their freedom to speak out has been further curtailed.

source: BBC.com

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Scientists say the plant enset, an Ethiopian staple, could be a new superfood and a lifesaver in the face of climate change.

The banana-like crop has the potential to feed more than 100 million people in a warming world, according to a new study.

The plant is almost unknown outside of Ethiopia, where it is used to make porridge and bread.

Research suggests the crop can be grown over a much larger range in Africa.

"This is a crop that can play a really important role in addressing food security and sustainable development," said Dr Wendawek Abebe of Hawassa University in Awasa, Ethiopia.

Enset or "false banana" is a close relative of the banana, but is consumed only in one part of Ethiopia.


The banana-like fruit of the plant is inedible, but the starchy stems and roots can be fermented and used to make porridge and bread.

Image caption,
The plant is a close relative of the banana and looks similar to its 'cousin'

Enset is a staple in Ethiopia, where around 20 million people rely on it for food, but elsewhere it has not been cultivated, although wild relatives - which are not considered edible - grow as far south as South Africa, suggesting the plant can tolerate a much wider range.

Using agricultural surveys and modelling work, scientists predicted the potential range of enset over the next four decades. They found the crop could potentially feed more than 100 million people and boost food security in Ethiopia and other African countries, including Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.

Study researcher Dr James Borrell, of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, said planting enset as a buffer crop for lean times could help boost food security.

"It's got some really unusual traits that make it absolutely unique as a crop," he said. "You plant it at any time, you harvest it at any time and it's perennial. That's why they call it the tree against hunger."

Ethiopia is a major centre of crop domestication in Africa, home to coffee and many other crops.

Image caption,
Enset reaches 10 metres (39 feet) tall

Climate change is predicted to seriously affect yields and distribution of staple food crops across Africa and beyond.

There is growing interest in seeking new plants to feed the world, given our reliance on a few staple crops. Nearly half of all the calories we eat come from three species - rice, wheat and maize.

"We need to diversify the plants we use globally as a species because all our eggs are in a very small basket at the moment," said Dr Borrell.

The research is published in Environmental Research Letters.

source: BBC.com

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A new, “reliable indicator” of a person’s health problems, ones that may cause early death, has been found by a team of international scientists. Using artificial intelligence (AI) techniques, researchers studied the eyes of nearly 47,000 people and concluded that the state of our retina may signal a heightened risk of death.

The study, published this week in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, is based on pinpointing the difference between one’s biological ‘real’ age and one’s chronological age. This can be measured by examining the condition of the retina, the nerve tissue at the back of the eye that has cells sensitive to light.

The observational study, which only puts forward certain conclusions without establishing a cause, involved data from the long-term study UK Biobank. Over 80,000 retina images taken from 46,969 adults aged between 40 and 69 years old were analyzed through computer algorithms during an average monitoring period of 11 years. A proportion of so-called “fast agers,” or people whose retinas looked older than their real age, were calculated.

Large retinal age gaps in years were significantly associated with 49%-67% higher risks of death, other than from cardiovascular disease or cancer,” researchers found. They also suggested this could be used as a screening tool, measuring the retina’s age to predict increased mortality risk.

While the eye tissue naturally deteriorates as a person grows older, the recent research learned to measure what it calls a “retinal age gap.” Being unique to each individual, biological ageing is a better indicator of potential serious health conditions, researchers say. The overall health of the body’s circulatory system and the brain might be studied through looking at the retina, allowing for the evaluation of underlying pathological processes.

source: rt.com

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The Earth’s molten interior is cooling faster than expected, which could turn the planet into a cold, inactive world similar to neighboring Mercury and Mars sooner than previously thought, researchers have warned.

The study, published in the Earth and Planetary Science Letters journal, examined how well bridgmanite – the primary mineral found at the boundary between the planet’s core and mantle layers – conducts heat from the hot, molten core to the surface.

Researchers irradiated a bridgmanite crystal with pulsed lasers on a diamond anvil press to simulate the effects of intense heat and pressure at the boundary. They found that the rate at which the mineral conducted heat was “about 1.5 times higher than assumed.”

The findings mean that the cooling of the Earth’s core is speeding up, and it is “becoming inactive much faster than expected."

The rapid cooling could in turn lead to an earlier slowing-down of processes like plate tectonics, which are related to the movements of large underground slabs composed of the crust and outer mantle layer, and volcanic activity.

This heat exchange from the planet’s core helps generate the Earth’s magnetic field, which is understood to be protecting the planet’s atmosphere from solar radiation and allowing life to thrive.

The rapid cooling may accelerate even more in the future, since cooled bridgmanite transforms into a mineral known as post-perovskite, which conducts heat even more quickly.

“Our results could give us a new perspective on the evolution of the Earth’s dynamics. They suggest that Earth, like the other rocky planets Mercury and Mars, is cooling and becoming inactive much faster than expected,” said ETH Zurich Earth scientist Motohiko Murakami, who led the study.

However, it remains unclear exactly how long it will take for thermal convection currents within the mantle to stop entirely. Murakami said that not enough is known about such events to “pin down their timing.”

Besides a better understanding of mantle convection in “spatial and temporal terms,”Murakami noted that any predictive timeline would also need to account for how mantle dynamics are affected by the decay of radioactive elements in the core, which is a key source of the Earth’s internal heat.

source: rt.com

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Airlines that have canceled flights due to 5G concerns include Emirates, Air India, Japan Airlines, and All Nippon Airways

Prominent airlines from Japan, India, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have suspended flights to airports across the United States after expressing concern over the deployment of 5G.

Emirates, Air India, Japan Airlines, and All Nippon Airways canceled flights to New York, New Jersey, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Seattle, among other US cities.

Air India announced on Tuesday that it would no longer operate flights the next day to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, and New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport “due to deployment of the 5G communications in USA.”

On the same day, Emirates canceled flights to at least nine US cities, again “due to operational concerns associated with the planned deployment of 5G mobile network services in the U.S,” while Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways canceled at least 13 flights.

Airlines and the FAA previously repeatedly voiced concerns about C-band 5G potentially disrupting airplane instruments, namely radio altimeters. So far, the US aviation body cleared less than a half of the nation’s commercial fleet for low-visibility landings at the airports potentially affected by 5G interference. International airlines were also seriously affected, with All Nippon Airways saying that while its Boeing 787 aircraft could operate under the new guidelines, 777’s could not.

In response to concerns, AT&T and Verizon postponed the Wednesday rollout of 5G service near some airports, but not all.

Airlines For America warned the White House this week that American commerce would “grind to a halt” if the deployment was not delayed, and that “the vast majority of the traveling and shipping public will essentially be grounded.”

“This means that on a day like yesterday, more than 1,100 flights and 100,000 passengers would be subjected to cancellations, diversions or delays,” the organization said.

source: rt.com

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The pandemic has made the world's wealthiest far richer but has led to more people living in poverty, according to the charity Oxfam.

Lower incomes for the world's poorest contributed to the death of 21,000 people each day, its report claims.

But the world's 10 richest men have more than doubled their collective fortunes since March 2020, Oxfam said.

Oxfam typically releases a report on global inequality at the start of the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.

That event usually sees thousands of corporate and political leaders, celebrities, campaigners, economists and journalists gather in the Swiss ski resort for panel discussions, drinks parties and schmoozing.

However for the second year running, the meeting (scheduled for this week) will be online-only after the emergence of the Omicron variant derailed plans to return to an in-person event.

This week's discussions will include the likely future path of the pandemic, vaccine equity and the energy transition.

Danny Sriskandarajah, Oxfam GB's chief executive, said the charity timed the report each year to coincide with Davos to attract the attention of economic, business and political elites.

"This year, what's happening is off the scale," he said. "There's been a new billionaire created almost every day during this pandemic, meanwhile 99% of the world's population are worse off because of lockdowns, lower international trade, less international tourism, and as a result of that, 160 million more people have been pushed into poverty."

"Something is deeply flawed with our economic system," he added.

According to Forbes figures cited by the charity, the world's 10 richest men are: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bernard Arnault and family, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Ballmer and Warren Buffet.

While collectively their wealth grew from $700bn to $1.5tn between March 2020 and November 2021, there is significant variation between them, with Mr Musk's fortune growing by more than 1,000%, while Mr Gates' rose by a more modest 30%.


Oxfam's decision to measure the growth from the start of the pandemic, when global share prices plummeted, also skews the findings slightly.

The wealth of the world's richest is typically tied up in their stock holdings, which fell sharply in March 2020, meaning the subsequent growth was from this lower base.

If Oxfam had measured from just before the pandemic began, the growth would have been less pronounced.

However, one of the report's authors Max Lawson told the BBC: "If you take the wealth of billionaires in mid-February 2020 instead, we estimate that the increase in the top ten richest men is more like 70% - which would still represent a record breaking increase, and something the like of which we have never seen before."


How does Oxfam work out the figures?

Oxfam's report is based on data from the Forbes Billionaires List and the annual Credit Suisse Global Wealth report, which gives the distribution of global wealth going back to 2000.

The Forbes survey uses the value of an individual's assets, mainly property and land, minus debts, to determine what he or she "owns". The data excludes wages or income.


The methodology has been criticised in the past as it means that a student with high debts, but with high future earning potential, for example, would be considered poor under the criteria used.

Oxfam also says that due to the fact prices have risen during the pandemic, it has adjusted for inflation using the US Consumer Price Index (CPI), which tracks how fast the cost of living is increasing over time.


Oxfam's report, which was also based on data from the World Bank, said a lack of access to healthcare, hunger, gender-based violence and climate breakdown contributed to one death every four seconds.

It said 160 million more people were living on less than $5.50 (£4.02) a day than would have been without the impact of the Covid pandemic.

The World Bank uses $5.50 a day as a measure of poverty in upper-middle-income countries.

The report also says:

  • The pandemic is forcing developing countries to slash social spending as national debts rise
  • Gender equality has been set back, with 13 million fewer women in work now than in 2019 and over 20 million girls at risk of never returning to school
  • Ethnic minority groups have been hardest hit by Covid, including UK Bangladeshis and the US's black population

"Even during a global crisis our unfair economic systems manage to deliver eye-watering windfalls for the wealthiest but fail to protect the poorest," Mr Sriskandarajah said.

He said political leaders now had an historic opportunity to back bolder economic strategies to "change the deadly course we are on".

Girls coming home from school in LiberiaIMAGE SOURCE, GETTY IMAGES
Image caption,
Many girls are unlikely to return to school after the pandemic, according to Oxfam

That should include more progressive tax regimes, which impose higher levies on capital and wealth, with the revenue spent on "quality universal healthcare and social protection for all" Mr Sriskandarajah said.

Oxfam is also calling for the intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines to be waived to enable wider production and faster distribution.

Earlier this month the president of the World Bank, David Malpass, voiced his concerns over widening global inequality, arguing the impact of inflation and measures to tackle it were likely to cause more damage to poorer countries.

"The outlook for the weaker countries is still to fall further and further behind," he said.

source: BBC.com


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Rabat - Spain Medgaz has reported  54 hours of "restrictions" in the transfer according to Spanish outlet OKDiario. The restriction took place from November 29 to December 1. 

Medgaz, a Spanish firm dedicated to the development of gas infrastructure in the country, announced the restrictions on November 30.

The gas "restrictions" happened in the operations of gas transfers via the Medgaz pipeline, which connects Algeria directly to the port of Almeria.

The company did not link the gas supply shortage to the "restriction of the flow through the [pipeline] on the Algerian side." The International Energy Agency’s Executive Director Fatih Biral however blamed “the deliberate policies of energy producers” for Europe’s soaring energy prices.

The restrictions occurred only one month after Algeria decided not to renew the Maghreb Europe gas agreement amid rising prices for gas in Europe ahead of a particularly cold winter.

The issue is creating a lift in EU politics, with Spain and France among others demanding reform of the European gas market, while a bloc led by Germany opposes such changes.

Pedro Sanchez has placed hope in this pipeline to face the repercussions of the end of the Maghreb Europe agreement.

Spain has been suffering a reduced gas flow since November 24, when Enagas reported on the daily evolution of gas stock. The report confirmed 13 hours of minimum distribution of gas.

Algeria has traditionally supplied 45% of the gas consumed in Spain. The Maghreb Gas Pipeline had been in operation since November 1996, transporting over 13,500 million cubic meters of natural gas each year.

Amid tough political tensions between Morocco and Algeria, the Algerian president decided to terminate the Maghreb Europe agreement on October 31. Now, Medgaz is the only firm that remains active in supplying gas from Algeria to Spain.

British company Sound Energy announced on November 30 that it is bidding for a  “gas sales and purchase” agreement with Moroccan Office Electricity and Water Office (ONEE) to revive the Maghreb Europe Gas Pipeline.

Source: Morocco World News

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Fez - The US-based Predator Oil & Gas Holdings has announced the discovery of a new gas field likely to be commercially viable in Guercif, northeastern Morocco.

A reassessment of the potential of the Guercif MOU-4 prospect led to this discovery, compared to the last update published in 2020 by SLR Consulting, an Irlandese international environmental consultancy company.

The firm's report indicated that the prior gross estimate for the project was 393 billion cubic feet, with Predator owning a 75 percent stake in 295 billion cubic feet.

Based on a higher gas initially in place (GIIP) estimate for the thicker reservoirs found in the MOU-4 discovery, the net reserves attributable to Predator's interest now reflect 708 billion cubic feet of gas.

In a Competent Persons Report (CPR) document published on January 13, SLR announced that “based on the potential size of the MOU-4 well structure, the project is likely to be commercially viable.”

The company pledged that once reserves are proven and the perimeter is developed it will seriously examine the likelihood of manufacturing compressed natural gas (CNG) on-site.

Predator intends to serve the industrial sector on a limited scale, based on Morocco's current pricing per mcf (thousand cubic feet) of $11.40. “The Company will consider all options to monetize its asset during 2022,” it said in its statement.

The net capital expenses for Predator's 75% ownership in a CNG pilot development are $12.21 million, with operational costs of $2.3/mcf, according to the SLR Consulting report.

“The Guercif license covers an area of 7,269 km²,” according to the company.

“We are pleased to report the results of the CPR confirming the continuity of the MOU-1 and MOU-4 structures which has established material Contingent Gas Resources net to the Company of 295 BCF and an unrisked ENPV of US$592million,” said Paul Griffiths, CEO of Predator Oil & Gas.

Predator Gas Ventures Ltd contracted with the Star Valley Rig 101 to start drilling the MOU-1 well in northeastern Morocco on June 16, marking the start of Predator's Guercifdigging activities.

Seven days ago, Chariot, a British gas exploration company, announced a “promising” gas discovery at the Anchois-2 offshore well off Morocco's northern Larache coast. In an upbeat statement, the company said the significant gas discovery considerably surpassed its initial expectations.

Source: Morocco World News.

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A monthly benefit introduced by the US government in 2021 amid a sharp surge in the cost of living and the continued spread of Covid-19 saw its last payout in December, leaving millions of American families in a cleft stick.

This weekend marks the first time in six months that families across the US won’t get a monthly payment from the federal child tax credit program.

The legislation provided low- and middle-income parents with up to $3,000 for every child aged six to 17, and $3,600 for every child under age six. The payments were income-based and began to phase out for individuals earning more than $75,000 and married couples earning more than $150,000. The first half was delivered in monthly payments from July to December.

Monthly child tax credits, worth up to $300 per child per month, expired after Congress failed to renew them with President Joe Biden’s social spending plan known as the Build Back Better Act. The legislation is stalled in the Senate.

According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), some 36 million families, or about 60 million children, received the payments each month. 

Some 10 million children are currently at risk of falling below the poverty line without the enhanced tax credit, according to data provided by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, as quoted by Fox Business.

The US authorities pledged that the benefits would be renewed for years to come. However, parents could be waiting months for the next payment to arrive with Congress deadlocked.

“This is devastating for families,” Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus on Children, told Bloomberg.

“This disruption is creating a chaotic situation, particularly for lower-income families. Many have come to rely on it as a huge piece of how they are making ends meet,” he added.
source: rt.com

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Rabat - The US has welcomed UNSG personal envoy for Western Sahara first regional visit, which kicked off earlier this week with a high-profile meeting in Morocco.

De Mistura arrived in Morocco on Wednesday. A Moroccan delegation, including Morocco’s Foreign Affairs Minister Nasser Bourita and Permanent Ambassador to UN Omar Hilale welcomed and hosted de Mistura for wide-ranging discussions on the Sahara dossier on Thursday.

The State Department said the US welcomes the first regional visit of de Mistura.

“We support his efforts in restarting a credible political process leading to an enduring and mutually acceptable political solution to the Western Sahara conflict,” the State Department said in a tweet.

During their talks with the newly appointed UN envoy for Western Sahara, the Moroccan delegation renewed the country’s commitment to the UN-led political process.

The talks also served as an opportunity for the Moroccan delegation to emphasize that Morocco’s sovereignty over the region is non-negotiable.

The Moroccan delegation stressed the fundamentals of Morocco’s position on the Sahara conflict, citing King Mohammed VI’s speeches on the 45th and 46th anniversaries of the Green March.

In both speeches, the monarch emphasized Morocco’s attachment to its southern provinces and recalled the credibility and effectiveness of the Autonomy Plan as the basis to end the conflict over Western Sahara.

De Mistura’s regional visit is ongoing. He recently arrived in the Tindouf camps, where he will meet with Polisario representatives, before moving to Algiers for talks with the Algerian government.

He will then travel to Mauritania, the final stop of his first regional visit as the UNSG’s personal envoy for Western Sahara.

The UN appointed de Mistura in August as Western Sahara envoy. He replaced former German president Horst Kohler who resigned from this position in 2019 due to health issues. 

As Kohler was able to inspire a “new momentum” by convening the conflicting parties to two roundtable discussions in Geneva, his resignation caused consternation both among observers and diplomats of the parties to the conflict. 

It remains to be seen whether de Mistura will be able to convince the parties to the conflict to commit to a new round of talks amid rising tensions, including the severance of ties and the simmering hostility between Algeria and Morocco.

Source: Morocco World News by 

Safaa Kasraoui

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Rabat - The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jose Manuel Albares, has commented again on the absence of the Moroccan ambassador to Spain from her posting in Madrid.

In an interview with Spanish news outlet ElDiario, Albares dedicated a long passage to bilateral relations between Spain and Morocco.

Among the questions the chief of Spanish diplomacy answered were those asking Albares whether he expects the Moroccan ambassador to Spain to return to Madrid soon.

In response, the Spanish FM said, “It is an answer and a decision that only Moroccans can give.”

He added, “The Moroccan embassy in Spain is open and there is a charge d'affaires in charge of it. Of course I would like the Moroccan ambassador to return, but the relationship between the Spanish Foreign Minister and the Moroccan Embassy here and their charge d'affaires is very fluid.”

Karima Benyaich, Morocco’s envoy to Spain, returned to Rabat for consultations last year a few months after the Spanish government allowed Polisario leader Brahim Ghali to enter its territory.

Ghali used a fake name and identity to enter Spain for hospitalization in April, a situation that created an unprecedented crisis between Morocco and Spain.

In addition, Albares also commented on Spain’s cooperation with Morocco and the current state of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

The Spanish FM said the two countries are building a 21st century relationship, noting: “We are looking to the future. The relationship between Spain and Morocco is a rich and complex relationship in the best sense of the world, with a network of interests and different aspects that we have to advance.” 

Albares recalled King Mohammed VI’s speech in August, saying that it “is rare for the monarch of Morocco to mention a specific country in his speeches and he does not speak very often either.”

In the speech, the monarch said he was personally monitoring the state of Spain-Morocco cooperation and that he hoped to see improvement in relations between the two countries. 

The Spanish government expressed satisfaction with the monarch’s position, increasing attempts to restore Madrid-Rabat cooperation after the Brahim Ghali episode.

Albares said the King is encouraging dialogue between the two countries to restore normalcy to their bilateral ties.

Regarding irregular migration cooperation, Albares asserted that he wants more collaboration with Morocco in the field.

He praised Morocco's role in channeling irregular migratory flows, adding that only in the Christmas period, in a period of about 15 days, more than 1,000 people were prevented from jumping over the fences of Ceuta and Melilla.”

The Spanish official said that it would be very difficult to achieve such an outcome without Morocco’s collaboration.

“That is what makes it a strategic partner for Spain and also for Europe. Obviously I am not satisfied with that, but I want to go further. And I understand that Morocco is also in that line,” he said.


Source: Morocco World News.

Added a post 

Novak Djokovic has been deported from Australia after losing a last-ditch court bid to stay in the country.

Judges rejected a challenge launched by the unvaccinated tennis star after the government cancelled his visa on "health and good order" grounds.

Djokovic said he was "extremely disappointed" but accepted the ruling. He left on a flight to Dubai on Sunday.

It marks the end of a 10-day saga, in which Djokovic fought to stay to defend his title in the Australian Open.

Djokovic's supporters fell silent outside the courtroom as the decision was announced on the eve of his opening match in the tournament. One fan told the BBC that her summer would be "empty" without the 34-year-old playing at the Open.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed "the decision to keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe".

Supporters of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic listen to the court hearing at the offices of his legal team that will decide whether or not he can stay in Australia and defend his Open title, in Melbourne, Australia, January 16, 2022.IMAGE SOURCE, REUTERS
Image caption,
Supporters of the Serbian tennis star gathered outside the court on Sunday

Djokovic launched the case after Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used his ministerial powers to cancel the Serbian player's visa, arguing that his presence in the country risked fanning anti-vaccine sentiment.

It was the second time his visa had been revoked, after a first cancellation over not following Covid entry rules was overturned by a different judge.

During Sunday's court hearing before a three-judge panel, Djokovic's defence unsuccessfully argued that the grounds given by the government were "invalid and illogical".

Chief Justice James Allsop said the federal court's ruling was based on the legality of the minister's decision, not on whether it was the right decision to make.

Full reasoning for the ruling will be made public in the coming days, he said.

Deportation orders usually include a three-year ban on returning to Australia, though this can be waived in certain circumstances.

There has been much public anger in Australia over the player's attempt to enter the country without being vaccinated against Covid-19. The federal government has repeatedly said people must comply with the strict laws in place to deal with the pandemic, and that no-one is "above the law".

Djokovic was originally granted a medical exemption to enter Australia by two different independent health panels - one commissioned by Tennis Australia, the other by the state government of Victoria - after testing positive for coronavirus in mid-December.

However, the Australian Border Force detained him on 5 January for not meeting federal coronavirus requirements, and his visa was revoked.

A judge later overturned that decision, but the government stepped in last Friday to revoke the visa again, saying doing so was in the public interest.

Although Djokovic is not vaccinated against Covid-19, he has not actively promoted anti-vax disinformation. However, Australian anti-vaxxers have been using the hashtag on social media.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a backhand during a practice session ahead of the 2022 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 14, 2022 in Melbourne, AustraliaIMAGE SOURCE, GETTY IMAGES
Image caption,
Djokovic had been training in Melbourne for the Australian Open

The visa battle is also at the centre of a political row in the country.


In his statement on Sunday, Mr Morrison said the government was "prepared to take the decisions and actions necessary to protect the integrity of our borders".

But Australian opposition politician Kristina Keneally said Mr Morrison had made himself a "laughing stock" by mishandling the Djokovic case, as she questioned why the unvaccinated player was granted a visa in the first place.

Mr Morrison and his government also faced anger from Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

"He [Djokovic] came to Australia with a medical exemption proposal and then you were mistreating him for 10 days. Why did you do it? Doing a witch hunt against him? This is something that no one can understand," he said.

The men's tennis governing body ATP called the saga a "deeply regrettable series of events", while British tennis star Andy Murray said the situation was "not good" for anyone.

Djokovic on Sunday said he was "uncomfortable" with the focus placed on him as a result of the the visa row, adding: "I hope that we can all now focus on the game and tournament I love."

The Australian Open could have seen Djokovic make history by winning his 21st Grand Slam.

Italy's Salvatore Caruso, ranked 150th in the world, is the "lucky loser" who will now replace Djokovic in his match against Serbia's Miomir Kecmanovic on Monday.

source: BBC.com

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The probability of a new war in Europe is now higher than at any time in the last three decades, according to a top Polish official addressing delegates gathered in Vienna for a final round of diplomacy talks.

“It seems that the risk of war in the OSCE area is now greater than ever before in the last 30 years,” Zbigniew Rau said in the speech, without naming Russia.

The head of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs made the comment while addressing envoys from the 57 members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)—listing a string of conflicts in which Moscow’s involvement has been alleged.

“For several weeks we have been faced with the prospect of a major military escalation in Eastern Europe,” Rau said, likely referring to Russia’s deployment of more than 100,000 troops near its borders with Ukraine.

We should focus on a peaceful resolution of the conflict in and around Ukraine,” he added, calling for “full respect of the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and unity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.”

Western nations have repeatedly accused Moscow of planning to invade Ukraine after the Kremlin massed military units, tanks, and artillery near Ukraine’s eastern border.

Russia seized the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014—but it has denied aggressive intent in the current crisis. The Kremlin insists that the military deployment is a response to threatening behavior from the West after a growing presence of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Eastern Europe.


Moscow has laid out several draft demands in December, saying they’re seeking no further NATO expansion, no missiles on Russia’s borders, and for NATO to no longer have military exercises, intelligence operations, or infrastructure outside of its 1997 borders.

Washington has said some of the guarantees proposed by Russia are “simply nonstarters for the United States,” but it is open for negotiations and resolving concerns through diplomacy.

Thursday’s third and final round of talks follows a high-profile meeting on Wednesday when a Russian delegation met with members of NATO in Brussels to discuss security proposals.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg received Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko at allied headquarters for the talks. The alliance’s chief said, “it is a positive sign” that the 30 NATO members and Russia sat around the same table and engaged in substantive topics, though it appears more dialogue is needed as there are significant differences between NATO and Russia that “will not be easy to bridge.”

NTD Photo NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg chats with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko ahead of NATO-Russia Council at the Alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on Jan. 12, 2022. (Olivier Hoslet/Pool via Reuters)

Russia on Thursday gave a bleak assessment of Russia’s security talks with the United States and NATO this week, describing them as “unsuccessful.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow viewed a sweeping sanctions bill unveiled by U.S. Senate Democrats “extremely negatively” and that its timing meant it looked like an attempt to put pressure on Moscow.

Peskov added that the first and second round of talks between Russia and the West had produced some “positive nuances,” but that Moscow was looking for concrete results, not nuances.

Source: mb.ntd.com

Reuters contributed to this report.

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A court has affirmed the decision by the Australian authorities to cancel Novak Djokovic’s visa for a second time. The Serbian star will now be deported, meaning he is unable to defend his Grand Slam title in Melbourne.

Djokovic, 34, had been fighting for a second time to stay in the country, having seen the initial cancelation of his visa overturned by a Melbourne circuit court judge on Monday.

The government disputed that decision after the personal intervention of Immigration Minister Alex Hawke in the case, paving the way for Sunday’s hearing in front of a panel of three judges at a federal court.

Chief Justice James Allsop said the court’s ruling to uphold the immigration minister’s decision to revoke Djokovic's visa was unanimous.

Allsop said the full bench of the federal court was not being asked to decide on the merits of the minister’s decision, but instead to review the legality of that decision.

“These grounds focus on whether the decision was for different reasons irrational or legally unreasonable. It is no part of the function of the court to decide upon the merits or wisdom of the decision,” said Allsop.

The government’s case included the argument that by allowing the unvaccinated Djokovic to remain in the country, it would incite anti-vaccination sentiments among the population.

“Rightly or wrongly he’s perceived to endorse an anti-vaccination view. And his presence here seems to contribute to that and could lead to more people becoming anti-vaxxers,”government lawyer Stephen Lloyd had said.

Djokovic’s lawyers disputed that he was in any way a “risk” to Australia’s public health and order, asserting that a decision to remove him from the country could trigger more anti-vaccine sentiment than allowing him to remain and compete in Melbourne.

Djokovic had arrived in Australia on January 5 with a medical exemption to compete at this month’s Grand Slam granted by Tennis Australia and Victoria state authorities, although that was deemed insufficient for entry by federal officials.

He was detained after his arrival and housed at a notorious immigration facility, before being freed by Melbourne judge Anthony Kelly on Monday. 

That allowed Djokovic to practice throughout the week, before Friday's decision by Minister Hawke saw him return to detention ahead of Sunday’s hearing. 

Djokovic is a nine-time Australian Open champion and has won the tournament for the past three years in a row. 

He would have been bidding for an outright record of 21 Grand Slam titles, moving him ahead of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the all-time stakes.  

With Sunday’s ruling, Djokovic is facing a possible three-year ban from entering Australia. 
source: rt.com

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All four people who were held hostage at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas on Saturday are "alive" and "safe," the authorities said as media reported gunfire and sounds resembling that of an explosion at the scene.

Though one male hostage had been released unharmed earlier on Saturday, the three remaining hostages were not able to leave until an FBI rescue team which had flown in from Quantico, Virginia stormed the building following a 12-hour standoff with the suspect.

Shortly after CNN reported that "a loud bang, followed by a short blast of rapid gunfire" came from the synagogue, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that all of the hostages were now "out alive and safe."

Colleyville Chief of Police Michael Miller confirmed that the suspect was “deceased” at a press conference late on Saturday. Noting that the man did not harm hostages “in any way," Miller refused to identify him.

"We have identified the subject but we are not prepared to release his identity or confirm his identity at this time," he added.

The suspect at one point had reportedly threatened to kill the hostages if anyone entered the building and said he had planted bombs in several locations. However, he also reportedly said he did not want to hurt anyone, and subsequently let one of the hostages escape unscathed.

His negotiations with law enforcement were partially broadcast live on Facebook.

Miller said that although there is no ongoing threat to the synagogue, bomb squads were deployed to the scene to clear it of any potential explosives.

Several US media outlets, including ABC News and NBC News, reported that the man had referred to Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist serving an 86-year sentence in the US, during his talks with the negotiators. The man apparently referred to the woman as his “sister. However, the lawyer for her biological brother, Muhammad Siddiqui, told the US media that he had nothing to do with the incident.

Moreover, an attorney representing Aafia Siddiqui later confirmed that the suspect was not her client's brother, and claimed that the woman herself did not endorse the act.

"We strongly condemn the hostage-taking at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, TX… Whoever the assailant is, we want him to know that his actions are condemned by Dr. Aafia and her family,” attorney Marwa Elbially told CNN in a statement on Saturday.

Speaking at the press conference, the special agent in charge of the FBI Dallas Field Office, Matthew DeSarno, admitted that the suspect “was singularly focused on one issue” and that“it was not specifically related to the Jewish community.”

However, DeSarno stopped short of either confirming or denying reports that the man had demanded the release of the Pakistani scientist. “We're continuing to work to find a motive,” he said.

US President Joe Biden, however, appeared to suggest that anti-Semitism might have been behind the attack.

In a statement, Biden said that though “there is more we will learn in the days ahead about the motivations of the hostage-taker,” the United States “will stand against anti-Semitism and against the rise of extremism in this country.”

Siddiqui had been arrested in 2008 after her botched interrogation by the US military in Afghanistan. The woman was initially detained by the Afghan forces after they reportedly found a note on her mentioning a “mass casualty attack” along with a list of several key US locations. Just as her interrogation was about to start, Siddiqui reportedly grabbed a rifle of one of the US soldiers and attempted to fire at a team of US investigators. Although the woman missed the target, and was ultimately shot in the stomach by a US soldier, she was extradited to the US on charges of attempting to murder US nationals in Afghanistan.

source: rt.com

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In late October and early November, the self-serving members of two committees advising the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) without a second thought endorsed experimental COVID vaccines for children as young as 5 years old.

Ignoring the 99.995% COVID survival rate for those age 17 and under, the 31 pharma-servile “experts” also appeared unconcerned by reams of damning data about COVID-vaccine-related disabilities and fatalities already occurring in the 12–17 age group — unnecessary tragedies being acknowledged that very instant in a panel discussionconvened by U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.).

Predictably, adverse event data and urgent frontline healthcare provider testimony began pouring in almost immediately after the FDA-CDC go-ahead, with 5- to 11-year-olds experiencing the same kinds of “terrifying” vaccine reactions as adolescents — including blood clots, strokes and other brain and heart problems previously almost unheard-of in young people.

In the lead-up to the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization of experimental COVID jabs for younger children, state politicians and municipal school districts also started to grease the skids to mandate COVID injections for in-person school attendance.

To date, the number of states and school systems announcing or adopting coercive plans, either for K-12 students or students ages 12 or 16 and up, is still small. However, the symbolic weight of the “early adopters” is significant.

These include states like California and Louisiana (and soon New York); major cities like Washington, D.C. (and probably New York City); and large school districts such as those in Oakland, California, and Los Angeles.

In addition, the New York City and Washington, D.C. school districts, and some or all districts in California, Hawaii and Maryland, require students involved in sports and other extracurricular activities to get jabbed.

In what sounds like good news, the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) confirmed 17 states — Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Utah — have enacted laws or issued executive orders that ban COVID-19 vaccine mandates for students.

However, most of the bans are limited to certain circumstances, with some applying only to higher education and some only to vaccines authorized under emergency use — meaning the ban would not apply to COVID vaccines that in the future gain full FDA approval for children.

Most dangerous ever

For decades, vaccines have been wreaking havoc on children’s health. For instance, consider the following:

So, when observers familiar with COVID injection data pronounce them “the most dangerous vaccines in human history,” that is saying something.

Dr. Joseph Mercola warned the COVID jabs are setting up children for “potentially lifelong health problems,” including serious heart problems resulting from myocarditis. As he wrote in early January:

“[T]he recent push to inject children with a genetic experiment may be one of the worst public health offenses perpetrated on a population of people who are unable to speak for themselves, do not have a legal voice and depend on adults to protect them.”

California ‘leads’

California spent the past half-dozen years systematically eliminating personal-belief vaccine exemptions and gutting medical exemptions.

Not content with those assaults on health freedom, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in early October — apparently reading the minds, weeks in advance, of the FDA and CDC committee members who subsequently rubber-stamped the COVID shots for 5- to 11-year-olds — that his state would impose a K-12 mandate in both public and private schools, making California the first state to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for in-person school attendance.

The mandate hinges on the vaccines “receiving full licensure from the FDA for children,” which the state expects in July 2022.

Seeking to normalize his COVID mandate, Newsom compared it to the existing school requirements for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination.

However, in light of the strong, statistically significant relationship between MMR vaccines and autism — and given California’s status as the state with the highest autism prevalence — Newsom’s comparison is scarcely reassuring.

Louisiana ignores

In mid-December, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards added COVID vaccines to the list of required school shots, overturning a bipartisan vote against such a mandate by the state’s House Health and Welfare Committee.

The push for the mandate originated with the Louisiana Department of Health. The House Health Committee then voted 13-2 to reject the department’s recommendation, stating that COVID vaccination “should be the parents’ decision,” a common-sense view shared by legislators and parents around the nation.

However, the governor vetoed the committee vote — and the wishes of citizens who packed the committee meeting to protest mandates — dismissively characterizing their objections as “overheated rhetoric.”

Louisiana’s governor and health officials also ignored remarks delivered at the health committee hearing by experienced Louisiana nurse Collette Martin, R.N. Martin provided testimony about serious adverse reactions in children and their widespread underreporting. She told the committee:

“We are not just seeing severe acute reactions with this vaccine, but we have zero idea what any long-term reactions are. Cancers, autoimmune [disorders], infertility. We just don’t know.”

Louisiana’s mandate, which goes into effect in fall 2022, currently applies only to students ages 16 and up, “but could expand as the vaccines get the highest level of approval” from the FDA.

School districts (try to) impose

In early January, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki asserted that decisions on school vaccine mandates “are up to local school districts.”

However, the U.S. Department of Education has been working with school districts, Psaki said, “to provide resources, connect school officials with testing providers, and set up vaccine clinics….”

Last September, Maryland’s health secretary disingenuously made similar comments, telling the press that the state prefers “not to be intentionally overbearing” or “interventionist” and instead encourages school systems “to take the lead in their individual jurisdictions.”

In California, school board members in several large school districts showed, as early as September, they were willing to “take the lead” in imposing mandates for in-person instruction.

The plans of school boards in Los Angeles (the nation’s second-largest school district), Oakland and San Diego have been undermined, however, by the large number of unvaccinated students and other apparently unforeseen pitfalls.

The Los Angeles school district, for example, pushed back its initial Jan. 10 deadline to the fall of 2022, because tens of thousands of uninjected students would have “overwhelmed the district’s independent study program.”

L.A. students ages 12 and up are supposed to upload proof of vaccination into a “Daily Pass” system. The L.A. district already requires students to undergo weekly testing (regardless of vaccination status) and subjects them to other measures such as “daily health checks,” masking and contact tracing and isolation of cases.

Three out of ten students failed to show up on the first day of school following winter break, “having tested positive for the coronavirus.”

Oakland’s school district will not enforce its mandate until Jan. 31, a month later than originally planned. When the school board voted (5-1-1) in favor of mandating COVID shots for in-person instruction for students 12 and up, it apparently did not bargain on nearly two-fifths of students in that age group (38%) remaining unvaccinated.

Casting the lone “no” vote, Oakland school board member Mike Hutchinson stated, “I don’t think we should be rolling out at midnight on a not very publicized meeting, talking about mandatory vaccinations when there’s nothing wrong with taking our due time to deliberate to make sure that we get it right.”

In December, however, Hutchinson indicatedhe would be comfortable deferring to the state-level mandate.

In late December in San Diego, a judge struck down the school district’s COVID vaccine mandate for students 16 and older, arguing the state legislature has not given individual school districts the authority to mandate vaccines for school attendance.

Not timid

An Oakland pediatrician who egged on her city’s school board to vote in favor of COVID mandates argued last fall, “This is not the time for timidity.”

However, as evidence accumulates about the injections’ outsized risks for children, it seems increasingly clear that a number of so-called public servants do not have a problem with timidity, having shown themselves perfectly willing to harm — and kill — children.

For former Pfizer executive Dr. Mike Yeadon, who has argued for months that the COVID injections “are toxic by design” and “were always going to harm people,” it seems obvious “criminal acts are being committed.”

Now is the time to push back against criminality and coercion — including COVID vaccine mandates and “vaccine passports” — in whatever ways we can. Our children’s lives, and our own lives, depend on it.

source: the defender children health defense news and views 

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today released new data showing a total of 1,033,994 reports of adverse events following COVID vaccines were submitted between Dec. 14, 2020, and Jan. 1, 2022, to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). VAERS is the primary government-funded system for reporting adverse vaccine reactions in the U.S.

The data included a total of 21,745 reports of deaths — an increase of 363 over the previous week — and 170,446 reports of serious injuries, including deaths, during the same time period — up 3,840 compared with the previous week.

Excluding “foreign reports” to VAERS, 723,042 adverse events, including 9,936 deaths and 64,406 serious injuries, were reported in the U.S. between Dec. 14, 2020, and Jan. 7, 2022.

Foreign reports are reports foreign subsidiaries send to U.S. vaccine manufacturers. Under U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, if a manufacturer is notified of a foreign case report that describes an event that is both serious and does not appear on the product’s labeling, the manufacturer is required to submit the report to VAERS.

Of the 9,936 U.S. deaths reported as of Jan. 7, 19% occurred within 24 hours of vaccination, 24% occurred within 48 hours of vaccination and 61% occurred in people who experienced an onset of symptoms within 48 hours of being vaccinated.

In the U.S., 516 million COVID vaccine doses had been administered as of Jan. 7, including303 million doses of Pfizer, 197 million doses of Moderna and 18 million doses of Johnson & Johnson (J&J).

Every Friday, VAERS publishes vaccine injury reports received as of a specified date. Reports submitted to VAERS require further investigation before a causal relationship can be confirmed. Historically, VAERS has been shown to report only 1% of actual vaccine adverse events.

U.S. VAERS data from Dec. 14, 2020, to Jan. 7, 2022, for 5- to 11-year-olds show:

The most recent death involves a 7-year-old girl (VAERS I.D. 1975356) from Minnesota who died 11 days after receiving her first dose of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine when she was found unresponsive by her mother. An autopsy is pending.

  • 14 reports of myocarditis and pericarditis (heart inflammation).
  • 22 reports of blood clotting disorders.

U.S. VAERS data from Dec. 14, 2020, to Jan. 7, 2022, for 12- to 17-year-olds show:  

The most recent death involves a 15-year-old girl from Minnesota (VAERS I.D. 1974744), who died 177 days after receiving her second dose of Pfizer from a pulmonary embolus. An autopsy is pending.

  • 62 reports of anaphylaxis among 12- to 17-year-olds where the reaction was life-threatening, required treatment or resulted in death — with 96% of cases
    attributed to Pfizer’s vaccine.
  • 589 reports of myocarditis and pericarditis with 578 cases attributed to Pfizer’s vaccine.
  • 149 reports of blood clotting disorders, with all cases attributed to Pfizer.

U.S. VAERS data from Dec. 14, 2020, to Jan. 7, 2022, for all age groups combined, show:

26-year-old man dies from myocarditis caused by Pfizer COVID vaccine

A 26-year-old South Dakota man died Nov. 12, 2021, of myocarditis, just four days after receiving a booster dose of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine. Joseph Keating had no idea he was experiencing a rare and supposedly “mild” heart problem after the shot.

His only warning signs were fatigue, muscle soreness and an increased heart rate, family members said.

In an exclusive interview Jan. 11 with The Defender, Joseph’s father, mother and sister said the CDC had not investigated Joseph’s death, nor did the agency contact the pathologist who performed the autopsy or request the documents which confirmed Joseph’s death was caused by the Pfizer vaccine.

According to the autopsy report and certificate of death, Joseph died from severe heart damage from “myocarditis in the left ventricle due to the recent Pfizer COVID-19 booster vaccine.”

Supreme Court strikes down OSHA mandate, allows healthcare mandate to proceed

​​The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday issued two opinions on the Biden administration’s COVID vaccine mandates on whether to stay or to grant temporary injunctions requested by plaintiffs in a number of lawsuitschallenging the emergency mandates for millions of Americans.

First, the justices rejected the Biden administration’s mandate requiring employees of large businesses to be vaccinated against COVID or undergo weekly testing and wear a mask indoors while working.

​​The court’s conservative majority said the administration overstepped its authority by imposing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) vaccine-or-test rule on U.S. businesses with at least 100 employees.

In a second ruling, the justices said the mandates for workers in healthcare facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding could stay in place while the lawsuits work their way through the lower courts.

The mandate is estimated to affect 10.3 million healthcare workers in the U.S., but allows for religious and medical exemptions.

Pfizer CEO says 2 shots offer ‘very limited protection, if any’ against COVID

During an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said two doses of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine — initially referred to as a full regimen — “offers very limited protection, if any” against the Omicronvariant.

When a third, or booster dose, is administered the vaccine offers only “reasonable protection” against hospitalization and death from Omicron and “less protection against infection,” Bourla said.

Bourla previously claimed a two-dose regimen was “100% effective.”

EU regulators, WHO call for end of boosters

European Union drug regulators on Tuesday warned frequent COVID boosters could risk overloading the immune system and said there are currently no data to support repeated doses.

This comes a month after the regulators said it made sense to “administer COVID-19 vaccine boosters as early as three months after the initial two-shot regimen,” amid concerns over the Omicron variant.

The World Health Organization’s Technical Advisory Group on COVID-19 Vaccine Composition on Jan. 11 also warned, “a vaccination strategy based on repeated booster doses of the original vaccine composition is unlikely to be appropriate or sustainable.”

The group said giving additional doses of already existing vaccines as new strains of the virus emerge is not the best way to fight a pandemic, as currently available COVID vaccines do not prevent infection or transmission and the current composition of COVID vaccines need to be updated.

Djokovic’s visa canceled second time over unvaccinated status

Australian authorities today revoked Novak Djokovic’s visa due to his unvaccinated status, in the latest twist in the ongoing battle over whether the nine-time Australian Open champion will be allowed to defend his title.

As The Defender reported, Australian Minister Alex Hawke used his ministerial discretion to cancel the No. 1 ranked Tennis player’s visa citing “health or good order grounds,” just three days before the Australian Open begins and four days after a federal judge ordered Djokovic be released from hotel detention when his visa was revoked the first time.

Djokovic’s lawyers are contesting the visa cancellation in court, in an attempt to allow him to play in the prestigious tennis tournament. If unsuccessful, Djokovic will face deportation.

Children’s Health Defense asks anyone who has experienced an adverse reaction, to any vaccine, to file a report following these three steps.

source: the defender children health defense news and views by Megan Redshaw 

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Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on Jan. 9 tweeted that we must protect people at highest risk of bad outcomes from COVID.

The tweet is a subtle shift from prior messaging, and likely reflects her realization that the pipe dream of zero COVID — eradication of the virus — is dead.

Omicron makes it clear, COVID will not go away. Even more, holding society hostage to slow spread is no longer a tenable policy choice.

We will have to return to living life, and balancing important societal priorities while minimizing the harms of COVID19. Alpha and delta variant thinking won’t help us for Omicron. Omicron has three characteristics different than prior variants.

First, it spreads very fast. Second, it is less lethal and third, vaccines do less to stop symptomatic infection.

These three features mean that in this wave, or in a series of subsequent waves, the virus will eventually reach all people. You cannot avoid it forever. There are five key policy lessons from all this.

  • First, mask mandates make no sense.Almost all community-wide mask mandates this entire pandemic asked people to wear any mask, and most people chose a cloth one.

Cloth masks never worked to slow the spread of the virus. We analyzed all relevant studies months ago and found no benefit, and a cluster-randomized trial in Bangladesh found that cloth masks failed. Recently, CNN admitted as much.

Now, some argue that we need to wear higher grade masks, such as n95s or equivalent. Anyone who wishes should be free to do so, but they should not be mandated.

We have no evidence such population-wide mandates will help, and the truth is — even if worn perfectly — the mask might only delay the time until you are eventually infected and not avert it. Worse, along the way, you will suffer the discomfort and inconvenience of the mask.

Kids have bigger worries in life than COVID19. Outcomes for healthy kids are excellent and on par with seasonal flu. School closure in the USA was disproportionately an indulgence of liberal cities with strong teacher’s unions.

  • Third, we cannot keep the brakes on society. People are voting with their feet, and outside of urban liberal enclaves, people are enjoying restaurants, bars and vacations. In many regions, you would not know a pandemic is going on.

This reflects a fundamental exhaustion of the public. Given that so much of the public is done with restrictions, placing extremely harsh ones on college campuses, for instance, makes no sense.

Colleges are full of the healthiest members of society. Asking these kids to be imprisoned in their rooms or dorms or on-campus neither helps them nor broader society.

  • Fourth, we have to focus on the most vulnerable people in society, as we always should have. The CDC director has now admitted this, in a remarkable turn.

Nursing homes should get booster shots right now. We should think about improving staffing and infection control in these settings.

  • Fifth, hospitals should improve their capacities. Some health care workers were fired or forced out because of not receiving the vaccine. Some of these people had already had COVID19.

These people should be permitted to return to work, with appropriate precautions, because at this juncture we need them far more than any risk they pose.

The CDC director’s tweet won’t settle all the COVID19 debates, but it is an admission that our current policies have failed and must be abandoned.

We cannot eradicate the virus. We have to live with it and balance it against all the other important things: school, work and our mental health.

source: the defender children health defense news and views By 

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With the accelerating deterioration in quality and reliability of the conventional food supply, one of the best steps anyone can take for health and preparedness is to increase purchases of food produced by regenerative farmers and small-scale artisans.

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A new study shared by the CDC director shows one coronavirus variant is much less dangerous, but far more transmissible

While a study out of southern California shows the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is much milder than the Delta, US health authorities continue to insist on vaccination, boosters and masking due to “strained” hospitals.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Rochelle Walensky shared on Wednesday the results of the latest study backed by the agency, showing the disparity between the two variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

A team of scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente and the CDC analyzed data from almost 70,000 people in southern California and plugged it into their models. The pre-print results of their study were published on MedRXiv on Tuesday.

Walensky tweeted that the study showed Omicron represented 53% less risk of symptomatic hospitalization, 74% less risk of intensive care admission, and 91% less risk of death, with zero patients requiring ventilators.

This is based on the study that analyzed 52,297 people who tested positive for Omicron and 16,982 with Delta between November 30, 2021 and January 1, 2022. Of those, 235 (0.5%) were hospitalized with Omicron and 222 (1.3%) with Delta infections. 

During a period of both variants circulating, presumed Omicron infections “were associated with substantially reduced risk of severe clinical endpoints and shorter durations of hospital stay,” according to the study.

Walensky wasn’t quite taking a victory lap, however, warning in a follow-up tweet that Omicron may be less severe, but is “much more transmissible.”

“We are seeing the unprecedented impact,”the CDC director said, pointing to over a million positive tests in a single day and “99% of counties with high transmission [and] strained healthcare systems.”

“Protect against Covid-19: get vaccinated + boosted, wear a mask & stay home if sick,”she added.

Source: rt.com


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Winning this first game got Morocco three points in a dream start for a team anxiously racing to put behind four decades of failed attempts to reclaim the title of African champions.

Morocco’s Atlas Lions inaugurated their adventure in the AFCON 2021 in Cameroon today, with a precious 1-0 victory against Ghana’s Black Stars, arguably Morocco’s most formidable adversary in the group stages. 

The two favorites of group C met for their AFCON entry game with eyes set on a draw or win to eventually top the group and have a more favorable draw for the next rounds. 

For Morocco, meanwhile, the double label of tournament favorites and underachievers meant the Ghana game came with an opportunity to either confirm that they mean business, or provide critics more ammunition as they downplay all the excitement over the Atlas Lions’ latest statistics.  

Having proven a good performance in the first round of qualifiers for the Qatar 2022 World Cup, the Moroccan national team largely kept the same pace in their AFCON 2021 opener. 

In a pre-match press conference yesterday, Morocco's Bosnian coach appeared to take the Ghana tussle with outsized caution as he reflected on the implications of the absence of attacking players Ryan Mmaee, Ayoub Al Kaabi, and Mounir El Haddadi, who have all spent the past week coping with health concerns.  

With all these three essential players out for Morocco’s toughest group, the Moroccan coach suggested, the main task for the Atas Lions would be to play it safe and gradually announce themselves as serious contenders later on in the tournament. For now, he appeared to be saying, the goal is to claim what is needed to go to the next round.

Halilhodzic chose to start the game with a lineup of 3-5-2, notably starting his forward line with Azzedine Ounahi, Soufiane Boufal, and Zakaria Boukhlal. 

The Black Stars proved a tough opponent for the Atlas Lions, but goalkeeper Yassine Bounou saved the Moroccan team from going behind on many occasions when Ghana had the ball to could that would have ended the game, or at least shocked Morocco off their pedestal of tournament favorites. 

Ghana has evidently come to Cameroon with an eye on their fifth title, while the Atlas Lions are looking to end a 45-year long wait for their first continental title since 1976.

The first half of the game ended with a scoreless draw but ample suggestions of both teams’ keenness to start their AFCON in style, to have the upper hand in the race to top the group. 

Halilhodzic made some changes to his lineup, introducing Tarik Tissoudali for Imran Louza.

At the end of a draining match for both teams, Soufiane Boufal transfixed the Black Stars’ defense to score the game’s only goal at the 83rd minute.

Morocco, winning this jarring clash, immediately takes the lead of group C on the qualification for the round of 16. Still, the Atlas Lions will have to confirm against Gabon and Comoros, and even more so as the tournament enters the knockout stages where the Moroccan team has disappointed in past tournaments.

Source: Morocco World News

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Natural defences against a common cold could offer some protection against Covid-19, too, research suggests.

The small-scale study, published in Nature Communications, involved 52 individuals who lived with someone who had just caught Covid-19.

Those who had developed a "memory bank" of specific immune cells after a cold - to help prevent future attacks - appeared less likely to get Covid.

Experts say no-one should rely on this defence alone, and vaccines remain key.

But they believe their findings could provide useful insight into how a body's defence system fights the virus.

Covid-19 is caused by a type of coronavirus, and some colds are caused by other coronaviruses - so scientists have wondered whether immunity against one might help with the other.

But the experts caution that it would be a "grave mistake" to think that anyone who had recently had a cold was automatically protected against Covid-19 - as not all are caused by coronaviruses.

The Imperial College London team wanted to understand better why some people catch Covid after being exposed to the virus and others do not.

'New vaccine approach'

They focused their study on a crucial part of the body' s immune system - T-cells.

Some of these T-cells kill any cells infected by a specific threat - for example, a cold virus.

And, once the cold has gone, some T-cells remain in the body as a memory bank, ready to mount a defence when they next encounter the virus.

In September 2020, researchers studied 52 people who had not yet been vaccinated but who lived with people who had just tested positive for Covid-19.

Half the group went on to get Covid during the 28-day study period and half did not.

A third of the people who did not catch Covid were found to have high levels of specific memory T-cells in their blood.

These were likely to have been created when the body had been infected with another closely-related human coronavirus - most frequently, a common cold, they say.

Researchers accept other variables - such as ventilation and how infectious their household contact was - would have an impact on whether people caught the virus, too.

Dr Simon Clarke, at the University of Reading, said although this was a relatively small study, it added to the understanding of how our immune system fights the virus and could help with future vaccines.

He added: "These data should not be over-interpreted. It seems unlikely that everyone who has died or had a more serious infection, has never had a cold caused by a coronavirus.

"And it could be a grave mistake to think that anyone who has recently had a cold is protected against Covid-19, as coronaviruses only account for 10-15% of colds."

Professor Ajit Lalvani, senior author of the study, agreed vaccines were key to protection.

He added: "Learning from what the body does right could help inform the design of new vaccines."

Current vaccines specifically target spike proteins that sit on the outside of the virus, but those spike proteins can change with new variants.

But the body's T-cells target internal virus proteins, which do not change as much from variant to variant, meaning vaccines harnessing the work of T-cells more closely could provide broader, longer-lasting protection against Covid, he said.

source: BBC.com By Smitha Mundasad

Added a post 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today released new data showing a total of 1,017,001 reports of adverse events following COVID vaccines were submitted between Dec. 14, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2021, to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). VAERS is the primary government-funded system for reporting adverse vaccine reactions in the U.S.

The data included a total of 21,382 reports of deaths — an increase of 380 over the previous week — and 166,606 reports of serious injuries, including deaths, during the same time period — up 4,100 compared with the previous week.

Excluding “foreign reports” to VAERS, 715,857 adverse events, including 9,778 deaths and 63,089 serious injuries, were reported in the U.S. between Dec. 14, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2021.

Foreign reports are reports foreign subsidiaries send to U.S. vaccine manufacturers. Under U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, if a manufacturer is notified of a foreign case report that describes an event that is both serious and does not appear on the product’s labeling, the manufacturer is required to submit the report to VAERS.

Of the 9,778 U.S. deaths reported as of Dec. 31, 20% occurred within 24 hours of vaccination, 24% occurred within 48 hours of vaccination and 61% occurred in people who experienced an onset of symptoms within 48 hours of being vaccinated.

In the U.S., 507I .1 million COVID vaccine doses had been administered as of Dec. 30, This includes 296 million doses of Pfizer, 194 million doses of Moderna and 18 million doses of Johnson & Johnson (J&J).

From the 12/31/21 Release of VAERS data.

Every Friday, VAERS publishes vaccine injury reports received as of a specified date. Reports submitted to VAERS require further investigation before a causal relationship can be confirmed. Historically, VAERS has been shown to report only 1% of actual vaccine adverse events.

U.S. VAERS data from Dec. 14, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2021, for 5- to 11-year-olds show:

The most recent death involves a 7-year-old girl (VAERS I.D. 1975356) from Minnesota who died 11 days after receiving her first dose of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine when she was found unresponsive by her mother. An autopsy is pending.

  • 13 reports of myocarditis and pericarditis (heart inflammation).
  • 15 reports of blood clotting disorders.

U.S. VAERS data from Dec. 14, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2021, for 12- to 17-year-olds show:

The most recent death involves a 15-year-old girl from Minnesota (VAERS I.D. 1974744), who died 177 days after receiving her second dose of Pfizer from a pulmonary embolus. An autopsy is pending.

  • 62 reports of anaphylaxis among 12- to 17-year-olds where the reaction was life-threatening, required treatment or resulted in death — with 96% of cases
    attributed to Pfizer’s vaccine.
  • 579 reports of myocarditis and pericarditis with 573 cases attributed to Pfizer’s vaccine.
  • 146 reports of blood clotting disorders, with all cases attributed to Pfizer.

U.S. VAERS data from Dec. 14, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2021, for all age groups combined, show:

CDC not investigating 13-year-old’s death following COVID vaccine

The CDC is not investigating the death of a 13-year-old Michigan boy who died June 16, 2021, of myocarditis three days after his second dose of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine.

Judicial Watch on Wednesday obtained 314 pages of records from the CDC, including communications from Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky showing a request for information about the death of Jacob Clynick.

In the communications, CDC officials said the agency was not actively involved in the investigation of Clynick’s death, although it did make contact with the state health department and the pathologist who confirmed preliminary results showed “bilateral ventricular enlargement and histology consistent with myocarditis.”

The official said the agency was in touch to “maintain situational awareness” but said it was up to the states to conduct investigations into deaths reported following COVID vaccines.

The teen’s death was not acknowledged by CDC officials in presentations on myocarditis or vaccine safety during meetings held by the agency’s vaccine safety advisory panel, which makes clinical recommendations for use of COVID vaccines in children.

More kids dying from vaccines than from COVID 

As The Defender reported Thursday, a Louisiana nurse last month told state lawmakers her hospital is seeing “terrifying” reactions to COVID vaccines, including blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, encephalopathy and heart arrhythmia — and staff are failing to report these to VAERS.

Collette Martin, R.N., a practicing nurse for 17 years, during testimony at a Louisiana House Health and Welfare Committee hearing, told State Rep. Lawrence Bagley that most medical professionals in her hospital aren’t even aware VAERS exists.

Martin said she raised concerns about adverse reactions to COVID vaccines and the failure to report them to hospital administrators, but she was “repeatedly dismissed.”

It’s Martin’s belief that only a fraction of deaths are being reported to VAERS as her hospital and others “are not reporting anything.”

Omicron variant less likely to cause lung damage or death

As The Defender reported Wednesday, multiple studies of Omicron infections showed decreased lung damage and decreased mortality rates in both animal and human tissue, but greater transmissibility of the Omicron variant.

A group of Japanese and American scientists on Dec. 29, released a study on hamsters and mice infected with either Omicron or one of several earlier variants. The findings showed those infected with Omicron had less lung damage, lost less weight and were less likely to die.

According to the preprint study, authored by more than 50 international scientists, the experiments “observed less infection of hamster bronchial cells in vivo with Omicron than Delta virus.”

The researchers also found a lower viral burden in the nasal cavities of mice infected with Omicron compared to those infected with other SARS-CoV-2 strains.

This rodent study is consistent with resultsannounced earlier in December by researchers at Hong Kong University, and epidemiological data out of South Africa over the last two months. While cases there have skyrocketed, hospitalizations and deaths have declined in comparison to Delta.

Study shows COVID vaccine alters women’s menstrual cycles

An analysis of thousands of menstrual records showed women’s cycles changed after COVID vaccines, validating anecdotal reports from thousands of women who said their menstrual cycles were off after vaccination.

According to a study published by the Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, women who were vaccinated had slightly longer menstrual cycles after the COVID vaccine than those who were not vaccinated.

Cycle lengths returned to normal within one or two months, with a more pronounced delay in women who received both vaccine doses during the same menstrual cycle. These women had their periods two days later than usual, researchers found.

The study was conducted by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University and the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, in collaboration with Natural Cycles, whose app is used by millions of women around the world to track their cycles.

Children’s Health Defense asks anyone who has experienced an adverse reaction, to any vaccine, to file a report following these three steps.
source: the defender children health defense news and views by Megan Redshaw 

Added a post 

A Louisiana nurse last month told state lawmakers her hospital is seeing “terrifying” reactions to COVID vaccines, but hospital officials are failing to report them. 

Collette Martin, R.N., a practicing nurse for 17 years, said her Louisiana hospital is witnessing blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, encephalopathy and heart arrhythmia following COVID vaccination, and staff are failing to report anything to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

Martin, testifying at a Louisiana House Health and Welfare Committee hearing, told State Rep. Lawrence Bagley that most medical professionals in her hospital aren’t even aware VAERS exists. 

“The majority of our nurses, nurse managers and some doctors do not even know what VAERS is,” Martin said. “I’ve spoken to our chief medicine managers and other nurses on why we’re not reporting to VAERS, and the most common response is: ‘What is VAERS?’”

Martin said she raised concerns about adverse reactions to COVID vaccines and the failure to report them to hospital administrators, but she was “repeatedly dismissed.”

Martin made clear to the legislators that VAERS was reporting, at the time of her testimony, more than 18,000 deaths post-COVID vaccination, and how it’s her belief only a fraction of deaths are being reported because her hospital and other hospitals in the area “are not reporting anything.” 

Martin also told legislators she is concerned about mandating COVID vaccines for children. 

She said:

“We are not just seeing severe acute [short-term] reactions with this vaccine, but we have zero idea what any long-term reactions are. Cancers, autoimmune [disorders], infertility. We just don’t know.

“We are potentially sacrificing our children for fear of maybe dying, getting sick of a virus, a virus with a 99% survival rate.”

Martin said her hospital has seen “more children die from the COVID vaccine than COVID itself.”

“It’s maddening, and I don’t understand why more people don’t see it. I think they do, but they fear speaking out and, even worse, being fired,” Martin said.

source: the defender children health defense news and views 

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