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Prince Andrew Has Been Served With A Sexual Abuse Lawsuit By Jeffrey Epstein Accuser Virginia Giuffre

Prince Andrew, Duke of York, has been served with a sexual assault lawsuit filed against him by one of Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers, according to New York federal court records.

Andrew is being sued in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York by Virginia Giuffre, 38, who alleges the duke sexually abused her on multiple occasions in New York, London, and on Epstein’s private island in the US Virgin Islands between 2000 and 2002 when she was under the age of 18.

The duke has repeatedly denied having sex with Giuffre, most notably in a disastrous November 2019 BBC interview in which he attempted to defend himself, claiming to have never met her. Shortly after the interview aired, Andrew announced that he was “stepping back” from royal public duties.

The affidavit of service filed Friday states that a member of Andrew’s security team formally received notice of the lawsuit against him at his home, Royal Lodge on the grounds of Windsor Castle, on Aug. 27.

In the affidavit, Cesar Augusto Sepulveda said that it took him two days to deliver the documents because on his first attempt on Aug. 26, Andrew’s security team told him that they had been instructed not to accept service of any court process or “allow anyone attending there for the purpose of serving court process onto the grounds of the property.”

When he returned the next day, Sepulveda met with Andrew’s head of security, who told him he could leave the documents with one of the Royal Lodge guards and they would be forwarded to the duke’s legal team. The head of security refused to allow Sepulveda to serve Andrew in person.

The documents list London-based criminal defense attorney Gary Bloxsome as the duke’s lawyer. BuzzFeed News reached out to Bloxsome for comment on the affidavit of service and the document’s claim that his security team had been instructed not to receive court documents. He did not respond.

However, according to ABC News, Bloxsome reportedly questioned the legality of the service and called Giuffre’s legal team’s actions “regrettable” in a letter obtained by the network. In the document, which ABC News said was sent by Bloxsome to British judicial official senior master Barbara Fontaine on Sept. 6, the lawyer claimed that the way in which the lawsuit was served makes the service invalid under British law.

“Absent being satisfied of some very good reason to do so, our client is highly unlikely to be prepared to agree to any form of alternative service while the approach to service of these proceedings remains irregular and the viability of the claim remains open to doubt,” Bloxsome reportedly wrote.

The first pretrial conference will take place virtually via telephone on Monday. It is unclear whether lawyers representing Andrew will participate at all, as no documents have been filed in federal court in his defense.

Giuffre was one of many women to accuse Andrew’s longtime associate, Epstein, of underage sexual abuse.

Epstein, a prominent financier, killed himself in a federal detention center on Aug. 10, 2019, while facing charges of sexually trafficking and abusing dozens of underage girls, some as young as 14.

In her complaint against Andrew, filed on Aug. 9, Giuffre claimed that she was “compelled by express or implied threats” by Epstein, his then-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, and Andrew himself to have sex with the duke. The complaint included a picture of 17-year-old Giuffre, then Virginia Roberts, and Andrew, who has his arm around her waist.

Andrew, the complaint states, sexually abused her “knowing that she was a sex-trafficking victim being forced to engage in sexual acts with him.”

In a statement provided to BuzzFeed News on the day of the lawsuit’s filing, Giuffre said she was finally “holding Prince Andrew accountable for what he did to me.”

Read more here BuzzFeed News

WhatsApp almost ready to launch a must-have feature it’s been working on ‘for years’

It’s taken the Facebook-owned firm years to launch, but users of WhatsApp Web and Desktop are finally about to get one of the messaging app’s most-wanted features.  Until now, using WhatsApp on your laptop, computer or tablet meant keeping a secure connection to your smartphone. This has been a huge annoyance if your phone is out of battery, lost or broken. There’s no way to check your messages without an active phone and downloading chats and photos on a second device can be slow.

So users rejoiced this week when the company announced it will be adding multi-device support. You will now be able to use WhatsApp on up to four devices at once, plus your phone. Even better, it works without a phone connection.

The delay was because WhatsApp wanted to make sure it was protecting users’ privacy when switching devices. But it has developed some clever new tech to ensure all your messages still have end-to-end encryption so hackers can’t intercept and read them.

As a bonus, all your messages and other data like stickers, archived chats, new contacts and starred messages, will be synchronised seamlessly between all your devices. You will also be able to start and answer WhatsApp calls from any device.

READ MORE: EE will bring ultimate upgrade to all customers, but doing so will break some phones

As an extra measure, a new technology called Automatic Device Verification will reduce the number of times you need to carry out identity verifications like security codes.

The new feature puts WhatsApp ahead of rivals Signal and Telegram. Signal has end-to-end encryption but doesn’t support multiple devices. Meanwhile, Telegram’s encrypted “secret” chats can only be read on one device.

Speaking about the upgrade, Will Cathcart Head of WhatsApp, said: “Very excited to be launching a beta of our new multi-device capability for @WhatsApp. Now you can use our desktop or web experiences even when your phone isn’t active and connected to the internet.

“All secured with end-to-end encryption. We’ve been working on this for a long time. Until now, @WhatsApp has only been available on one device at a time. And desktop and web support only worked by mirroring off your phone – which meant your phone had to be on and have an active internet connection. Our multi-device capability immediately makes the experience better for people who use desktop/web and Portal. And it also will make it possible to add support for more kinds of devices over time.”

Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait to benefit from the change. It’s being tested with a small group of users before being rolled out more widely. We can’t wait.

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This post originally posted here Daily Express :: Tech

Covid-19 risk for some unvaccinated people is higher than it’s ever been, expert says

And health officials nationwide are taking note.
For unvaccinated people in certain parts of the country, the risk of Covid-19 is higher than ever before, said Dr. Craig Spencer, director of global health in emergency medicine at Columbia University Medical Center.
“If you are unvaccinated, the risk is incredibly high — and maybe in some areas, higher than it’s ever been, because there are not mask mandates, people are enjoying this wonderful return of summer and are a little more carefree and lackadaisical and making it more possible that you could be exposed,” Spencer told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Friday.
Because the virus is circulating at high levels in certain areas, Spencer said vaccinated people should “continue to be smart,” but are very unlikely to get sick, be hospitalized or die of Covid-19.
How the pandemic is affecting vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals differently is being demonstrated in hospitals nationwide, as local health officials are reporting an overwhelming majority of hospitalizations from Covid-19 among those who have not yet been fully vaccinated.
Even in areas with higher rates of vaccination, officials are beginning to reinstitute safety protocols such as mask mandates to try and curb the spread. Los Angeles County reinstated its indoor mask mandate this week for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. And health authorities in the San Francisco Bay Area announced Friday they are recommending everyone wear masks indoors.
With growing concern, local authorities can decide to go the “extra mile” to contain Covid-19 spread with mask guidelines, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“Under certain circumstances, where you have a high level of dynamics of infection — be that in Los Angeles or wherever — the local authorities do have the discretion of going that extra mile or going the extra step it takes to make sure that the spread of this virus is really contained, and they do that by saying that everyone should wear a mask,” Fauci said Friday in an NBC Nightly News interview.
Roughly 48.4% of the US population is fully vaccinated, according to the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The pace of vaccinations over a seven-day average has declined 13% from the prior week.
Among those states that have fully vaccinated less than half its residents, the average Covid-19 case rate was 11 new cases per 100,000 people last week, compared to 4 per 100,000 among states that have fully vaccinated more than half its residents, according to a CNN analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

‘I don’t think we’ve seen the worst of it’

Local officials are continuing to sound the alarm about the increase in cases, particularly among those unvaccinated. Twenty states have fully vaccinated more than half of their residents, according to the CDC, yet in states with fewer vaccinations, health care facility resources are being stretched.
Katie Towns, acting director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department in Missouri told CNN’s Ana Cabrera on Friday that the department is requesting an alternative care site and staff from the state to address the growing number of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations.
“It’s at a level that we’ve not seen before,” Towns said, noting that area hospitals reached capacity this week.
“Most striking is the demographic and age,” she said of those sick. “The illness has really shifted from being an older population … to being ages 20, 30, 40 years old in the hospital and needing ICU care and oxygen.”
Towns said “almost all” patients in the hospital are unvaccinated, and hospitals and health officials are projecting an increase in numbers following the Fourth of July holiday.
“I don’t think we’ve seen the worst of it,” Towns said when asked where the county stands with fighting the pandemic.
In Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards said on Friday that since February, 97% of cases and deaths related to Covid-19 are of those who are not fully vaccinated.
People line up for the vaccine at Mother's Brewing Company in Springfield, Missouri, on June 22, 2021.

Unvaccinated health care workers are causing staffing issues

While health officials have preached the need for Americans to get vaccines, one industry in particular is also facing a growing crisis with unvaccinated workers: health care.
In one example, the University of Florida Health Jacksonville hospital is going through staffing issues due to unvaccinated staff and is seeing an uptick in hospitalizations due to Covid-19, according to Chad Neilsen, director of infection prevention.
The hospital has seen a 50% increase in Covid-19 admissions in the last two weeks and 10% more Covid-19 patients per day, Neilsen told CNN. The average age of Covid-19 inpatient admission is 54, the lowest UF Health Jacksonville has ever seen.
Staffing at the hospital is becoming a big issue, Neilsen noted, as unvaccinated staff are being exposed to and getting Covid-19 in addition to undergoing burnout. There is only around 52% vaccine compliance among employees at UF Health Jacksonville, according to the director.
“Unvaccinated employees seem to be taking longer to recover and longer to return back to work,” Neilsen said, as the hospital is considering pausing elective surgeries.
Lowered rates of vaccination among health care workers are not limited to just hospitals. Only 56% of health care workers in nursing homes are fully vaccinated, according to a new analysis from AARP. The organization says only one in five nursing homes hit the industry target of having 75% of staff fully vaccinated.
At a national level, many more residents than staff are fully vaccinated, according to the analysis. While the number of deaths at nursing homes dropped significantly after the vaccine rollout, AARP attributed a third of all US Covid-19 deaths during the pandemic to residents and staff at nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
“This national tragedy cannot be repeated,” Nancy LeaMond, AARP’s executive vice president and chief advocacy & engagement officer said in an organization news release. “With cases once again rising across the country and considering the highly contagious Delta variant, every effort must be made to protect vulnerable nursing home residents.”
The Association of American Medical Colleges on Friday urged all its member institutions to require Covid-19 vaccinations for employees to protect patients and health care personnel, as the Delta variant continues to circulate.
“Across the country, we are seeing increasing evidence that those currently unvaccinated continue to be at high risk of acquiring Covid-19 and are the overwhelming majority of new hospitalizations,” AAMC President Dr. David Sorkin said Friday, stating that variants are exacerbating the pandemic and that vaccinations are needed to mitigate the spread.
“Nowhere is this more important than in hospitals, where health care personnel — who have been heroic during this pandemic — are caring for patients with a wide variety of health challenges under the assumption that the health care professionals treating them are not at risk of acquiring or transmitting Covid-19,” Sorkin said.
“Yet, we have tragically lost some health care personnel to the coronavirus, while others have taken the infection home to their families. Vaccinating health care personnel at our member institutions saves lives.”

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This post originally posted here CNN.com – RSS Channel – HP Hero

Margaret Thatcher quote about ‘German money’ has been manipulated


at many Facebook social networking sitecontributions Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, is accused of a quote. “The problem with EU socialism is that at some point the German money is going to run out,” she said.

The quote is wrong. Indeed, Thatcher said: “[Sozialistischen Regierungen] Others’ money always runs out.” She didn’t talk about Germany or the European Union in this context. According to research by CORRECTIV.Faktencheck, the real quote comes from an interview that Thatcher gave in 1976.

The wrong quote is being traded Since years In different online versions. In 2018 I participated today President The CDU-WerteunionMax Otti on Twitter. Since mid-July 2020, it has been posted again by thousands of people on Facebook.

The false quote from Margaret Thatcher on Facebook has been published in various versions (Source: Facebook Search / Screenshot: CORRECTIV.Faktencheck)

Thatcher did not talk about Germany or the European Union

We have translated Thatcher’s alleged quote into English (“The problem with EU socialism is that it’s going to run out of German money”) and into google search engine as well as Search engine quotes Metager I entered. Neither research provided any evidence that the citation actually existed.


We also have an online database of Margaret Thatcher Foundation I looked up the quote that posted all of Thatcher’s political statements online. The search only produces a hit – And here the term “German” appears in a completely different context: Thatcher remembered him Page 19 of the linked document West German Trade Federation. There is no talk of money from Germany or “EU socialism”.

“You always run out of other people’s money,” Thatcher said of socialist governments.

The News Verification Editors France Press agency The Margaret Thatcher Foundation asked if the quote about Germany was known there. Foundation director Chris Collins wrote in an email on July 13: “Margaret Thatcher didn’t say those exact words, but once upon a time something very similar is now being circulated in various forms. Something like, ‘The problem with socialists is always to run out of other people’s money.’”

In fact, there is a similar quote from Thatcher on the foundation’s website. The quote “The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people’s money”, which is attributed to Thatcher in the “Blog World” (i.e. on the Internet), supposedly came from an interview on February 5, 1976 with the television station The Times TV.

The a copy the same as orgenal According to the interview, Thatcher said opposition leader to Conservative Party On the British government at the time: “I think they caused the greatest financial mess of any government in this country for a very long time, and socialist governments have traditionally wreaked financial chaos. They always run out of other people’s money.”

Editors: Matthias Bau, Alice Ashtermann


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This post originally posted here United Kingdom News

As Haitians woke up to learn their President had been killed, an unidentified man called into a radio station and unleashed a strange monologue live on air

He was the translator for a group tasked with providing security for Haitian President Jovenel Moise, he said — but during an encounter at his private residence, “something terrible happened.”
“There’s loss of life but we didn’t do it,” he said.
The killing of Moise has sparked a sprawling investigation across multiple countries, supported by both the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation and Colombian intelligence services. No public statements have been released by at least two dozen people who have been detained in relation to the case. However, new audio and video recordings from the day of the killing obtained by CNN may offer a glimpse into the mindset of those now implicated in the assassination.

Overheard in Route de Kenscoff

While the unidentified caller was on Radio Mega, a local reporter happened to overhear him in person.
A reporter and his cameraman for Radio Television Caraibes, one of Haiti’s biggest radio stations, were driving up the hilly Route de Kenscoff on a motorbike toward the President’s private residence, on a mission to see what they could find out about the assassination.
Footage they filmed shows an apparently unsecured roadblock of two trucks, which they easily bypassed — the beginning of an extraordinary five minutes in the company of people who would soon be the most wanted men in Haiti.
Just up the hill, two men in balaclavas rose out of a ditch holding long guns and shouted. Malhaiko Senechal, the reporter, was unfazed. “I’m used to seeing men with guns in my work, when I’m driving around the city,” he said. “I thought they were helping the police who were responding to the murder.”
After 15 years of digging up news in Port-au-Prince, Senechal’s instinct was to stop and find out more. He saw more men standing under the shade of bushes and flowers overhanging a nearby wall. They looked watchful and a little restless, but not obviously hostile or upset, he told CNN. Three held guns and apparent protective vests, and a fourth was sitting down, speaking rapidly into his cellphone in Haitian Creole.
According to Senechal, the speaker described himself as a translator and insisted on the phone that he and his group had attempted to serve an arrest warrant to the President.
Meanwhile, Radio Mega listeners were hearing this live from the unidentified caller:
“This group is from the President’s own hand; it is a group that he let into the country to provide security for him. It turns out that the same group has been given a warrant to arrest the President.”
The same caller described the purported warrant in detail, and added, “Something terrible happened, although we were not expecting that to happen. I was only translating for them, though. When we tried to enter the gate to serve the warrant, the President’s entourage opened fire. Consequently, these agents opened fire in return to protect their lives.”
Standing a few feet away, Senechal called his boss, who confirmed his own growing suspicion — he was likely standing in the midst of those involved in the attack at the President’s house.
“When I heard the interpreter who was doing the interview with Radio Mega, I immediately knew that I was in danger, in danger because these were men that came and assassinated the President. If they can assassinate my President and I am just a simple citizen — well I was scared for my life,” Senechal said.
The Haitian flag flies at half-mast at the Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on July 10, three days after President Jovenel Moise was assassinated in his home.

An arrest plan

That anyone would claim they were both hired to protect the President and instructed to arrest him appears at best contradictory. Yet it bears close resemblance to explanations already given by Haitian and Colombian authorities in the week since the President’s killing.
At least 39 people have been implicated in the killing of President Moise, and 26 of the suspects are Colombian, many of them ex-military. Citing Haitian authorities, Colombian police said Thursday that some of the Colombians were hired and brought to Haiti on the understanding their job was to detain the leader and hand him over to United States law enforcement.
The initial plan was to “arrest the president and put him on display for the (US Drug Enforcement Agency),” Colombian police chief General Jorge Vargas said at a press conference in Bogota on Thursday. Haitian police have also said the suspects allegedly carried a document purporting to be an arrest warrant. CNN has no evidence of the document’s authenticity.
Several suspects did have US ties — some had been informants for the DEA and FBI, while others had participated in US military training and education programs while serving in the Colombian military. However, there is no indication of the DEA’s direct involvement in the operation that killed President Moise, according to Vargas, and the agency has said that none of the attackers were operating on its behalf.
A number of suspected killers were likely deceived by their compatriots, Colombian President Ivan Duque told a local radio station on Thursday. Preliminary investigation suggests the Colombians were working in two groups, he said: A smaller group who knew of a “criminal” objective and were aware the bigger operation was a cover-up, and a larger group that had been kept in the dark.
“An important group was taken there to work on a supposed private security mission, for protection. But there was a smaller group who apparently had detailed knowledge that the outcome of the mission was to be a criminal one,” Duque said, without offering further evidence.
Whether that outcome was meant to be a presidential assassination is not clear, he added.
A man is reflected on a cellphone at a memorial outside the Presidential Palace in memory of slain President Jovenel Moise, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, July 14, 2021.
Two former Colombian military officers, Dubernay Capador and German Rivera, have been accused of leading the operation. The pair previously met with Christian Emmanuel Sanon, the Florida-based pastor whom Haitian authorities allege coordinated the military operation in hopes of seizing power for himself, according to Vargas, the Colombian police chief. Sanon has denied all knowledge of the operation and insisted on his innocence, according to a source close to the investigation who cannot be named because they are not authorized to discuss the affair.
A Colombian security guard for an oil company in Bogota, Matias Gutierrez, also said that Capador attempted to recruit him to travel to Haiti in early May, describing a job “as private security in Haiti. Security for the President of Haiti, who was believed to be under death threat.”
Three more of the known suspects are Haitian-Americans, of which two are believed to have been hired as translators for the group. Based on photos released after their arrest, Senechal believes that the man he spoke to — and who called into Radio Mega — was one of them.
Haitian Chief of National Police Leon Charles has declined to comment on whether any of the suspects have been formally charged or have legal representation, citing the ongoing investigation.
Capador and least two other Colombians were killed by Haitian authorities responding to the assassination.
Security forces conduct an investigation as a soldier stands guard at the entrance to the residence of Haitian President Jovenel Moise, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, July 7, 2021.

Search turns up more questions

Arrests continue in Haiti amid the search for a local mastermind — or several — capable of bringing in, arming, and moving around dozens of foreign mercenaries. Several police officers and heads of security units have been put under “precautionary measures,” which are typically intended to limit movements, according to Haitian police. Four have been put in isolation, including the head of national palace security Dimitri Herard.
“I also believe this has been a much bigger plot and that the authorities will have to clarify many aspects. Who pushed for changing the outcome of the operation? Why all the people involved end up in the same place and not in two places? Who was in charge of protecting the President? These are all things we need to answer and we’re working with Haitian authorities so that they lead to the instigators of this assassination,” Duque, the Colombian President, said on Thursday.
But much of the investigation remains opaque, leaving plenty of fertile ground for conspiracy theory, speculation and rumor. Several key pieces of information remain undisclosed, including CCTV footage from inside the President’s residence, and the account of Haiti’s most prominent potential witness, First Lady Martine Moise, who was injured during last week’s attack. Her official Twitter account has released multiple statements reflecting on her husband’s death and thanking medical staff in Miami, where she is hospitalized, but has not commented on what happened.
Without the testimony of the suspects themselves, yet to be explained is why they apparently allowed Senechal and his cameraman to get so close and also to depart, asking only whether the pair had seen army or police troops at the bottom of the hill. The two journalists had not noticed any security forces on their way up the hill, Senechal says, though around 20 armed security officers could be seen coming from the nearby Place Saint Pierre as he left, about five minutes later.
Which raises one more question: Why Haitian authorities might have left a key roadblock unattended in front of the suspected assassins, even briefly. A spokeswoman for the Haitian police did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

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This post originally posted here CNN.com – RSS Channel – HP Hero

The key Democrat has for weeks been at the center of the conversation on voting rights because of his opposition to the filibuster

Since arriving in Washington on Monday, Texas Democrats have sought meetings with members of Congress to urge them to pass federal voting rights legislation, including the For the People Act, the sweeping Democratic voting and election bill shot down by Senate Republicans last month.
Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, has for weeks been at the center of the conversation on voting rights because of his opposition to eliminating the filibuster. Removing the legislative hurdle would allow Democrats to pass legislation with a simple majority.
After meeting with members of the Texas delegation, Manchin said the next step is to put together a pared-down bill that focuses solely on protecting the right to vote and the procedure of voting.
“We work with the Voting Rights Act that we had, started in 1965, and what we’ve evolved into, and basically make a piece of legislation, one piece of legislation that protects the rights of voting, the procedure of voting, democracy, the guardrails on democracy, that’s all. And there shouldn’t be a Republican or Democrat should oppose it,” Manchin said.
Asked why he thinks Republicans would support a pared down bill, Manchin said: “You know why? Because they’ve had a bill that’s 800 pages long, they’ve had everything thrown at them. Let’s get back to the basic rights of voting, protecting voting rights.”
Texas state Rep. Joe Moody — one of the Democrats at the meeting in Washington — said the Texas delegation was pleased by its conversation with Manchin.
“Senator Manchin was very generous with his time, and Texas Democrats were heartened by our talks with him. We have no doubt that he completely shares our goal of protecting voting rights for all Americans, and we all realize that this is a struggle that won’t be over in just a few days—it’s a journey, one we look forward to taking together,” Moody said in a statement to CNN.
However, back in Texas, House Speaker Dade Phelan on Thursday issued an order stripping Moody of his position as speaker pro tempore.
The role of speaker pro tempore, largely a ceremonial role, is to carry out the Speaker’s duties in their absence.
Following his removal, Moody said on Twitter Thursday, “The most important titles in my life will never change: Dad, Husband, El Pasoan. Nothing political has ever even cracked the top three, so nothing has changed about who I am or what my values are.”
He added, in a separate statement to CNN, “I followed my conscience knowing that doing the right thing could cost me, but not fighting would’ve cost even more: the civil rights of Texans. The job I swore an oath to do is to defend our Constitution, so I’d make that trade any day. Titles come and go, but my commitment to the people of El Paso and this state will always remain.”
Moody was appointed to the position by Phelan during this year’s regular session. He also served as speaker pro tempore under a different Republican state House speaker in the 2019 session.

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This post originally posted here CNN.com – RSS Channel – HP Hero

‘The United Kingdom has never in my lifetime been under such strain’

There is perhaps no challenge greater than that of the constitutional future of Wales. There are those who say that these issues are unimportant and we should just be concentrating on post Covid recovery and related issues.

Well of course, post covid recovery, jobs, our youth guarantee, tackling the climate emergency , restarting NHS operations and many other issues are absolutely vital priorities. But a failure to recognise that the very ability to deliver on all of these is very dependent on the allocation of powers and resources within Wales and the UK. That is why constitutional reform is so important; it is the means whereby we can deliver what we have promised to the people of Wales and to future generations. It is the means for improving prosperity and job security; it is the means whereby we deliver those vital public services that we have come to recognise as being part of our essential economy.

It is the means whereby we build a fairer, more just and more confident Wales and the contribution we can make to the well being of the UK as a whole. If I am right in this, then a failure by governments across the UK to address these constitutional challenges would be foolhardy and wholly irresponsible.

The Union of the United Kingdom has never in my lifetime been under such strain. My position and the position of the Welsh Government is that we want that union to work better in the interests of the people and the communities of Wales and that will require radical reform.

Welsh Labour fought the election with what I believe is the most radical proposal for constitutional reform in our recent history. We were elected with a popular mandate for change.

So I will be setting out today a little more detail about the Constitutional Convention we will be establishing here in Wales, against that context of ever growing concerns about the state of our Union.

The Welsh Government believes in a strong, prosperous and progressive Union of nations.

We see it as a voluntary association of four nations that has the potential to be a positive force for good – for Wales and for all nations within it. We benefit from the pooling of resources which support all of us in times of need. I will put this in my own words, if the UK means anything and is to have a future it must be based on principles of partnership, justice, the rule of law , of greater equality and a fairer distribution of wealth between all the nations and regions of the UK.

Despite our many disagreements with the UK Government, there remain many areas of common and mutual benefit. Many of these do not work as they should, could be much more effective and much more progressive. Nevertheless they exist and provide a framework to build upon. In recent months the furlough scheme has become and example of the powerful and important support it can provide – support for individuals and businesses based on principles of common interest and collective support. Something that individually all the nations of the UK would have struggled to achieve.

The UK is a powerful engine of redistribution – systems of welfare and healthcare testament to the criticality of the power of collective provision, but could be much more so. In fact I would suggest that over the past decade the growth of inequality, the undermining of the welfare state and common principles of mutualism, on an unprecedented scale is a major contributor to the increasing instability of the UK.

Yes, there are many differences, but the collective strength of what we can do together is something people across the UK I believe do recognise and value.

And as we sit here now in 2021, it is clear to me that only through radical reform – through genuine devolution and the recognition of shared sovereignty that can we build the strong and durable partnership that is so vital for the future.

The Welsh response to Covid has shown how important it has been to be able to take distinctive decisions in Wales to reflect the needs of people and communities in Wales based on Welsh circumstances.

The distinctiveness we see in policy responses across the devolved governments – response which are themselves innovative and creative responses to the challenges which face us – are often not given the recognition and the respect they deserve.

That distinctiveness that actually makes us stronger, yet is too often seen as a weakness and a threat by the UK Government at Westminster. So there are growing concerns. Concerns growing across the political spectrum. Concerns that, today, the Union looks neither strong nor stable. And for anyone committed to a long-term future for the United Kingdom, , how we address and rectify that fragility is one of the major questions of our time.

Recent, unwelcome developments have contributed to that fragility and I’ll say more about those in a moment.

Some of the threats to the union are deep-seated.

In some ways the Union has failed to keep pace with, what I see, as the bold and radical change to the UK’s Constitution that people voted for in 1999.

The full and very real implications of the creation of legislatures in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland has not been met by the UK Government with what it should have – a fundamental and honest look at the way the UK was itself governed against the backdrop of that newly devolved landscape. In short, insufficient attention has been given, by successive governments, to the way in which our four nations should talk and act together on matters of shared interest and which affect all parts of the UK.

That’s why the Welsh Government has for the last decade sought to stimulate a debate about the constitutional future of the UK.
We sought to start the kind of fundamental debate that is vital to our future and that of the nation of the UK and indeed the regions of England.

As a Welsh Government we’ve consistently advocated the case for a constitutional convention. We’ve tried to articulate our own vision for how a new model of shared governance could work. The policy papers we developed as the debate about our exit from the EU developed, were a genuine, honest and transparent attempt by us to out concrete proposals on the table.

In 2019 we took this work on and through our original ‘Reforming our Union’ paper set out twenty propositions for the future governance of the UK. Not a final package; not a finished work – but twenty areas which we have consistently raised and which we believe are crucial to the reform of the UK.

However, the UK Governments has time and time again to recognise that there is a major problem, and address the major constitutional questions facing us.

I should stress that not all the answers to these challenges require substantive constitutional reform.

For example, for both devolution and the Union to deliver the best outcomes for citizens, we need a consistently constructive and collaborative relationship between all governments of the UK.

That ought to be entirely possible within the existing constitutional settlement. But that is simply not our experience, particularly since late 2019. The reform to the intergovernmental structures, including the JMC, which is essential if this constructive and collaborative relationship is to be put on a firm foundation, has simply not materialised.

Yes, there have been flickers of positive change, but it has simply not gone far enough, or fast enough, to provide a substantive answer to the scale of the challenges we face. Instead of a constructive and collaborative relationship, based on fairness, social justice and subsidiarity, what we see from this current UK Government is an increasingly muscular anglo centric unionism.

A top-down unionism that believes that the problem will simply go away if it shouts loudly enough and waves a few flags around. A Government that is in denial. Since 2019 when we published our original ‘Reforming our Union’ programme, devolution has found itself under unprecedented assault.

I’ll give one illustrative example.

In 2019 there were those who remained hopeful that the UK Government’s disregard for the refusal of the Scottish Parliament to consent to the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 was an isolated one-off decision. Set against the background of the unprecedented upheavals of EU exit, the actions were unique to the situation we faced.

But since December 2019, the Sewel Convention has been breached with such regularity that the UK Government actions appear to signal a new, more combative position.

Perhaps the most damaging breach was that related to the UK Internal Market Act.
Here, we had a Bill which flagrantly cut across devolved powers, usurping functions that clearly sat within the competence of the devolved governments.

Rushed through the UK Parliament with unseemly haste and minimal scrutiny, it sat in defiance of a refusal to give consent from both the Senedd and the Scottish Parliament.

It’s hard to understate the seriousness of such actions.

It’s hard to understand how the provisions in this Act are anything other than a significant assault on the Senedd and our policies of social and economic reform by undermining the very powers at the core of devolution, and are little more than an attempt to achieve through this Act what the UK Government has been unable to achieve through the ballot box in Wales.

Powers endorsed in two referendums by the people of Wales.

But even if one does not share our assessment of the many flaws of that Act, it is simply not possible to argue that the manner in which the Bill was rushed through Parliament, and brought into law in defiance of the refusal to consent, demonstrated the proper respect for the democratic institutions of Wales.
It is simply not possible to argue that it respects the conventions upon which a strong, stable Union should be based, parliamentary democracy and the rule of law.

It is largely in response to that assault on devolution that we published, last week, a refreshed version of ‘Reforming our Union’.
As the first version was, it is not a brand new vision for the future governance of the UK.

The 20 propositions we set out in the original document remain front and centre of this refresh, because they themselves remain a practical, pragmatic and coherent set of propositions for the way in which the UK should be governed. But there are areas where matters have evolved and where things have happened which need to be reflected in the text.

One is in relation to justice. In 2019 our proposition on justice looked forward to the report and recommendations of the Commission on Justice in Wales, referring to the substantial evidence we as a Welsh Government had submitted to it.

That work has since completed and we now have the unequivocal backing of that Commission for the devolution of justice to Wales.
In 2019, we described our concerns about the Sewel Convention.

Its non-justiciability, the lack of any codification of what constitutes ‘not normally’, and the absence of any mechanism for Parliament to consider properly the implications of a refusal to give legislative consent to a UK Bill.

At that point we hoped that the UK Government’s disregard of the Scottish Parliaments’ refusal to consent to the EU Withdrawal Act would remain a one-off.

But since 2019, we have seen repeated and sustained breaches of the Sewel Convention, to a point where it now appears that the UK Government views compliance as an entirely discretionary matter.

This only adds weight to our calls for codifying Sewel and recognising it properly in UK Parliamentary procedure.
If this is not done, the case for our more radical solution, where the UK Parliament would be prevented from legislating in devolved areas without the Senedd’s consent, will only continue to strengthen.

We recognise, of course, that such a fundamental change could only happen in the context of a much wider constitutional reform.
That’s why we need to keep discussing and debating these issues.

We don’t have all the answers, we’ve never claimed to.

And that in turn is one of the reasons for our commitment to establish our own Constitutional Convention and Commission , to engage with the people of Wales to examine the governance of Wales, devolution and out future relationship with the UK and the principles on which it should be based.

We want this Commission to facilitate a genuinely national conversation about the future of Wales within the UK.

We want it to engage with citizens and with civic society.

In particular we want it to reach out to those who might not otherwise come forward to participate in such a debate, to those people and communities who are largely disengaged from politics or rather who have become sceptical about its relevance to their lives and that of their families and its ability to make a difference.

We will establish a commission of citizens. They will be people who will represent the diversity of our society and communities and who will have the skills and ability to reach out and engage.

Their task will be to seek to identify and build consensus about our values and the sort of Wales we want to be.
We will encourage the Commission to think about how its work can support the seven wellbeing goals, as set out in the Well-being of Future Generations Act and to operate in way which is consistent with the five ways of working the Act sets out.

We will encourage the Commission to identify and learn from the best examples of citizen engagement and to be innovative in the way in which it approaches its task. It must be a peoples commission engaged in a peoples conversation , a genuine grass roots engagement . How we achieve that will be our biggest challenge.

We will need to develop a new language of engagement, one that avoids the language of politics and constitutions that we are so used to, a language that talks about the things that are directly relevant to peoples lives.

To assist the Commissioners, we will establish an expert panel to advise the Commission.

They will provide the expertise and the hard data and information, which we hope will free up more of the Commissioners’ time to focus on the big conversation we want to initiate.

Our first step will be to appoint a Chair a vice chair or even co-chairs, this is work in progress and I hope to be able to say more about this in a statement I will be making to the Senedd over the next few weeks.

From there, we will work through the summer and into the early autumn to appoint the Commissioners, to put in place a secretariat and the other structures necessary to enable the Commission to effectively fulfil its remit.

That remit will be designed by the Welsh Government, but in doing so we will work with the Chair to refine and finalise the Commission’s terms of reference.

In appointing the Commissioners, we will strive to ensure that the Commission as a whole reflects the diversity of modern Wales.
Reflects the citizens and the places with which it will need to engage.
We will need to strike the right balance between knowledge, independence, and representativeness as we appoint members to the Commission.

The Commission will be tasked with producing a report with its recommendations and conclusions within 18-24 months and to include recommendations about the possibility of a longer term standing commission to carry forward its work and the delivery of constitutional reform.

I intend to announce the formal launch of the commission in the early autumn.

I want to finish – as the First Minister did in his statement to the Senedd last week – on a positive note. I remain of the fundamental view that it is possible to renew and revitalise our union. Convinced that we can find a way for it to thrive and prosper for the long-term.

Not in spite of devolution, but very much because of it. However, this requires thought, imagination and co-operation.

Genuine statecraft – on the part of all of us to think through honestly and creatively the challenges we face. Above all it requires an acceptance that the status quo cannot and will not continue.

I am confident that the Commission will play a vital part in this renewal, and in making the positive case for strong devolution within a durable Union that, for all its current fragilities, remains good for Wales.

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The next Samsung Galaxy Watch has been unmasked ahead of its release date

Samsung is widely-tipped to launch a new Galaxy Watch model, dubbed Galaxy Watch 4, this August. The next-generation model will be the first since Samsung confirmed plans to ditch its custom-designed TizenOS and pivot to the Google-created Wear OS. The latter, which is based on Android, will allow Samsung-branded wearables to work seamlessly with smartphones from a broad range of manufacturers.

The move could also trigger an influx of new applications for the form-factor since third-party developers will no longer need to build new software from the ground-up for Wear OS and TizenOS gadgets. A single app will work with smartwatches from Motorola, Fitbit, Google, and Samsung.

But while there’s plenty to get excited about around the software of the upcoming Galaxy Watch, little was known about the hardware. Until now, that is.

Yes, the latest leak has provided the best look yet at the as-yet-unannounced hardware. According to the source, speaking to Android Headlines, the model shown in the leaked images will be branded as Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic. As the name suggests, this smartwatch will sport a design that harkens back to analogue watches.

The Watch 4 Classic will keep the rotating bezel that’s become one of the main calling cards of the Galaxy Watch range. This lets you scroll through menus and notifications without getting any greasy fingerprints on the touchscreen – which is very handy. 

Helping with navigation around Wear OS are two large buttons on the right-side of the watch, which also help to make it look more like a conventional watch.

The accompanying report, which first appeared on Samsung-centric blog SamMobile, claims the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic will arrive in three sizes: 42mm, 44mm and 46mm. All three sizes will be offered in either stainless steel, or aluminium. Presumably, the latter will be a more affordable option.

As always, any standard 20mm watch band will work with the design, so you can breathe new life into any old straps you’ve got.

There’s no word yet on pricing, but we’d expect the Galaxy Watch 4 to hit the same price point as its predecessor.

That means you’ll be able to get your hands on a smartwatch for around £349, with the optional 4G connectivity and larger screen sizes adding to the cost. With the Galaxy Watch 3, the 45mm 4G-compatible model topped out at around £409, so hopefully, prices won’t rise above that ceiling this time around either.

Samsung is tipped to hold its next Unpacked hardware event on August 11, 2021. As always, Express.co.uk will be in the crowd – either virtually or physically, dependent on the latest guidelines – and will bring you the latest news and opinion on the launch.

Author: Aaron Brown
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