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Federal Foreign Office on the situation in Ethiopia

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The latest reports out of Ethiopia are worrying: in Tigray, we are witnessing a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation; there have been clashes again, and there is the danger of a renewed increase in severe violence between different population groups. These developments must be stopped while that is still possible.

We call on everyone involved to agree and adhere to an immediate ceasefire. It is completely clear that all foreign troops must immediately and fully withdraw from the region, and that we need a transparent investigation into the human rights violations. Any redrawing of borders through armed force or by other unconstitutional means is unacceptable.

Safe, unhindered and permanent humanitarian access to Tigray must now be the top priority. Those who have fled because of the conflict must be able to return safely to their homes.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Germany – Federal Foreign Office.

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This post originally posted here The European Times News

2021 elections: Norwegians abroad encouraged to vote early due to the corona situation

From July 1, Norwegians abroad are able to vote in parliamentary elections. But fewer postal deliveries could mean that the votes must be sent earlier than before – if they are to count.

Corona restrictions and fewer mail flights can make advance voting from abroad more complicated than before. Several government agencies are now urging people not to wait until the last minute.

“It is an unpredictable situation because the corona restrictions change in step with the infection outbreaks,” Deputy Director Yngve Olsen Hvoslef of the Section for Consular Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told news bureau NTB.

Norwegians abroad can vote at Norwegian embassies and consulates or by post. Then they can ask to receive election material from the embassy in the country they live in or vote via a blank sheet, the Electoral Directorate’s website notes.

“In some extreme cases, it may be that it is not allowed to travel into the capital, or, as earlier in the pandemic, that it is not allowed to move outdoors in some places,” Hvoslef said.

Expecting more votes from abroad than before

Strict entry requirements for Norway can also lead to more votes from abroad, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that they expect more voters than usual in countries such as the United Kingdom, Spain, Singapore, and Thailand, where many Norwegians live.

In the parliamentary elections in 2017, a total of 11,811 votes were cast abroad, according to the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development. Of these, 763 were by mail.

The Norwegian Electoral Directorate points out that it is extra important to vote early in these cases.

“Vote as early as possible if you live in a place with late postage, to be sure that the vote arrives on time,” communications manager Kristina Brekke Jørgensen at the Norwegian Electoral Directorate told NTB.

However, it is the voters’ own responsibility to ensure that they are aware of the rules and deadlines.

“Voters must take into account how the post office works in the country in which they live. The voting period for foreign voting is very long in Norway, just over two months, and if you want to be sure that the vote arrives on time, you should use the opportunity this long voting period provides,” Jørgensen points out.

Fewer mail planes

Although Norway cooperates with other national postal companies abroad, they do not cooperate on advance votes in the election. The Norwegian Post has abdicated all delivery responsibility before the mail crosses Norwegian borders.

“An important reminder in these corona times is that mail from abroad is often sent by plane to Norway. There are fewer flights, and delays must therefore be expected,” press manager Kenneth Tjønndal Pettersen at the Norwegian Post told NTB.  

In general, the Norwegian Post has no influence or responsibility for mail until it arrives in Norway. All advance votes must have arrived at the municipalities by 5 PM the day after election day, September 13, if they are to count.

A different election in Singapore

Singapore is one of the countries where many Norwegians live. For several months, they have lived under strict national corona restrictions, and although several reliefs take effect on July 12, many will have to resort to a different election.

“Due to local restrictions, it is not as easy to vote this year as in previous elections, but we will be able to receive votes until September 3,” Embassy Councilor Daniel Hirsch from the Embassy in Singapore told NTB.

During previous parliamentary elections, around 240 Norwegians voted from Singapore, but few voted by mail since there are such short distances to the embassy.

“Previously, we also had election day at Sjømannskirken in Singapore, but we will not have the opportunity to do so this year, as it is contrary to local rules introduced due to COVID-19,” Hirsch said.

No obstacles

The Norwegian embassy in Paris, on the other hand, is planning a normal election after France eased most corona restrictions on July 9.

“Advance voting for Norwegians in France will take place in the same way as in previous elections. 

“How many there will be is difficult to say, but the corona pandemic today does not create any obstacles,” Embassy Councilor Liv Kari Ridsbråten at the embassy told NTB.

The deadline for voting in advance from abroad is September 3.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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Covid lambda variant: Expert fears NHS ‘will get into a very difficult situation’

In light of “Freedom Day”, Professor Beate Kampmann – the director of the vaccine centre at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – is concerned “the NHS will get into a very difficult situation again”. “To take away the masks completely… is not the right decision,” she said. “I think the regulations should come back in.” The Government’s latest report demonstrated that the number of people testing positive for coronavirus is steeply increasing. In the past seven days, 206,046 Britons tested positive for Covid.

While the link between the number of Covid cases, hospital admissions, and deaths has been weakened, the tie hasn’t been severed.

To exemplify, this week there has been 2,873 people admitted to hospital because of Covid.

In addition, 176 people have lost their lives – showing that this disease is still a threat to human life.

The success of the vaccine roll-out – nearing 46 million people who have had their first jab – is the reason why deaths haven’t been higher.

READ MORE: Policing Bill soars through Commons -Rejoiner protester to be silenced

Dr Alicia Demirjian from Public Health England (PHE) said: “There is currently limited evidence available about this variant.”

PHE is currently “undertaking investigations to better understand the mutations on the behaviour of the virus”.

Further, more robust studies are needed to understand the full extent of the Lambda strain’s effects.

At present, there is nothing to suggest that the symptoms of infection with the Lambda variant would be any different to other strains.

Is Freedom Day really going ahead?

July 19 is supposed to be the day that all coronavirus restrictions can be lifted, dubbed “Freedom Day”.

People will be encouraged to exercise their “personal responsibility” to choose whether or not to wear masks in certain situations.

Limits on social contact in England will disappear, according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

However, around 122 scientists are advocating for Freedom Day not to go ahead as planned.

Author: Chanel Georgina
Read more here >>> Daily Express :: Health
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Delta plus variant: UK 'on top of situation’ after 41 cases of mutation discovered

Since April, 41 cases of Delta plus, or the Nepal variant, have been detected in the UK. The Delta plus variant is not classified as a new variant by the World Health Organisation, but is similar to the original Delta strain with an additional mutation called K417N.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England (PHE), spoke during the coronavirus press briefing on Wednesday about the strain.

She told reporters: “As the Minister said, we have the best system in the world for picking up these cases.

“We’ve only seen 41 of the particular variant with this additional mutation in this country, which is very small, and obviously around those cases we will do enhanced testing and enhanced follow up.

“So I think we’re on top of the situation. I think we continue to be vigilant but the good message is what we expected to happen with Delta was that the vaccines would prove to be effective against the more serious disease, and we expect the same for this other variant.

“But there’s also the option of having different vaccines in the future and that’s something we’ll continue monitoring, so vigilance is our best sort of friend her against these mutations.”

READ MORE: Where is the Delta plus variant right now? ALL countries revealed

Fears over Delta plus follow the Indian Government classifying the mutation as a ‘variant of concern’.

On Wednesday, they said 40 cases of the Delta plus variant had been observed in the three states of Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh.

Indian’s health ministry said the Delta plus variant has characteristics such as “increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells, and potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response”.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the new mutation was responsible for Portugal being removed from the UK’s ‘green list’ for travel in the first week of June.

Professor Francois Balloux, from University College London, told The Telegraph however there was “no particular cause for concern” from Delta plus.

He told the outlet: “Given the tiny number of strains reported, nothing is known about the transmissibility, immune evasion or lethality of the delta plus strain.

“Though, given that it has remained at very low frequency everywhere where it has been identified strongly suggests it is not more transmissible than its delta progenitor.

“The mutation may contribute to immune escape, though its impact on transmissibility is not clear-cut.”

DON’T MISS…

Coronavirus cases jumped in the UK by 40 percent from Tuesday to Wednesday.

June 23 saw 16,135 cases, 19 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test and a further 211 people admitted to hospital with the virus.

In total, the UK has seen 4,667,870 cases and 128,027 deaths from the virus.

Another 299,837 first doses and 250,875 second doses of coronavirus vaccine were administered on Wednesday.

In total, 43,448,680 first doses and 31,740,115 second doses have been been administered, equalling 82.5 percent and 60.3 percent of the population respectively.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed

APD releases video of February deadly east Austin hostage situation

APD releases video of February

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Police Department released video related to an east Austin hostage situation in February that left the suspect dead after two police officers fired at him.

Officers were able to safely remove the hostages, a woman and a 10-year-old boy, from the home on the night of Feb. 10. APD said the situation began when Jordan Walton crashed a car into a house on the 2900 block of Rogge Lane, near Manor Road, and then broke into the woman’s home nearby. Police say Walton fired at officers who tried to enter and later attempted to use the boy as a shield.

Officer Jeffrey Hutchison, who’s worked at APD for 8 years, and Officer Ryan Nichols, who’s been there 13 years, were initially placed on paid administrative leave per department policy. APD said in early June both had been returned to full duty.

WARNING: This video contains graphic content and profanity. Viewer discretion is advised.

APD is supposed to release these “Critical Incident Community Briefing” videos for situations like there where officers fire their guns, in an effort to increase transparency and trust with the community. Before it’s released to the public, the next of kin, attorneys, officers involved and city officials will watch it.

Under its policy, the video should be released 60 days after the incident. That did not happen here — the hostage situation and shooting happened Feb. 10, which would have put 60 days in mid-April. APD previously told KXAN the winter storm pushed the process back, and it estimated it would have it ready May 1. In early May, it said it would be pushed back again to June 4.

On June 9, APD sent out a release explaining “production and stakeholder feedback delays” caused it to push back the release of this video and one related to an April 9 shooting. It gave a new deadline for the February case video release as June 25, which it will meet.

Only one such incident has been released on time since APD’s policy went into effect last year.

“I think we underestimated how long it would take, particularly when you have so many departments working on it,” said Office of Police Oversight Director Farah Muscadin.

Muscadin said she was the one who originally proposed being more transparent with video release. She said the city compromised by following a release policy modeled after the Los Angeles Police Department’s, which educates people on the circumstances surrounding the video being released.

“What has been challenging is the putting together the video in a way that explains it and provides context in a very fair and impartial perspective, and that just fundamentally takes a lot of time,” Muscadin said.

Muscadin said in addition to her office, APD, the district attorney’s office and the city’s tech and communications offices must be involved in the process.

Muscadin said she’s hopeful Austin will soon move to a policy more like Houston’s new critical incident video release policy.

Houston’s policy now requires police to release body camera footage from officers who use their weapons in critical incidents within a maximum of 30 days.

“Our goal is to release the videos as quickly as we can,” said Houston Police Chief Troy Finner at the beginning of the month, when the department released video of its first critical incident since the policy change.

All involved officers’ raw, unedited body camera footage clips from the incident were uploaded online for the public, as well as an informational video that didn’t require as much production and could be put out more quickly.

KXAN also compared other cities’ policies.

Dallas has a quick turn around, requiring footage to be released within 72 hours of a critical incident.

The San Antonio Police Department changed its policy at the end of last year. It now requires footage from critical incidents to be released within 60 days.

Author: Kate Winkle
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Our Yorkshire Farm’s Amanda Owen leaves Jeremy Clarkson perplexed over financial situation

Jeremy notes that his life change has been that of a steep learning curve but he has nothing but respect for the TV couple.

Speaking to The Sun, Jeremy said: “Sheep are complicated to keep and they make no money.

It left Jeremy wondering how Amanda and Clive make any money with their own flock of sheep and the weather conditions they work in as he added: “When you shear a sheep, it costs you £1.45 to have it sheared and the wool is worth 30p. It’s not really a business proposition.”

His experience left Jeremy wondering how Amanda and her husband Clive make any money from their flock of sheep on Ravenseat Farm, due to the harsh Yorkshire Dales weather.

Author:
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Celebrity News Feed

Novak Djokovic has 'not ideal' Italian Open situation as Rafael Nadal also worried

Novak Djokovic could “struggle” when he steps onto court to take on Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the Italian Open last-16 today because he will be in an unusual situation, according to Mark Petchey. The world No 1 is usually one of the headliners at every event he plays, which means he is given an evening slot on the schedule.
However, the Italian Open has placed his showdown with Davidovich Fokina first up on centre court in Rome.

That means his match will get underway at 10am local time (9am BST) which brings many problems for the 20-time Grand Slam winner.

Not only will his routine be broken up, but he will also have to deal with the glaring sun.

And Petchey reckons Djokovic may be affected as he tried to adjust to the new conditions.

“I don’t think he is going to be delighted because the sun, when they are teeing it up at 10am, is going to be particularly awkward,” he told Amazon Prime.

“He is not going to love the fact he is on early.

“He has been practising at that time this week but the sun is particularly awkward for an hour and a bit.

“You pretty much have to kick it in and he is somebody that has struggled with that in the past.

“These are the little nuances that you have in these tournaments. Suddenly the schedule of play comes out and that is not ideal for him.”

Fellow pundit Daniela Hantuchova also thinks Djokovic will find it strange getting out of bed so early.

She said: “It will be interesting to see how Novak handles that early rise because I know he likes his sleep.

“When you are on at 10am it means you have to get up at 6.30am so it is going to be a rough morning.”

Djokovic is not the only key player who may struggle with the schedule as Rafael Nadal has also tabled complaints.

He wrapped up his demanding win over Jannik Sinner at 9.40pm local time last night and he will be back on court at 1pm this afternoon against Denis Shapovalov.

“I am not happy that they put me on the third turn without a not before because It’s twenty to ten and I can play tomorrow at one,” Nadal said.

“I’ll have to be ready at least by 11:30. It’s exaggerated, really. It’s not right, it’s badly done, I say it as I think it is.”

Author:
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Austin Police, SWAT responding to situation in east Austin off Wickersham Lane

AUSTIN (Austin Business Journal) — It’s no secret that Austin has been growing at a rapid pace in recent years as companies and people flock to the region. But recently released data shows Austin was again the fastest-growing big metro last year, marking a full decade atop the leaderboard for major U.S. metros.

The population in the five-county Austin metro jumped to an estimated 2,295,303 people as of July 1, 2020, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures released May 4. That was an increase of 3% from the prior year, the fastest population growth among metros with at least 1 million people.

Author: Jaclyn Ramkissoon
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Google Maps Street View: Couple spotted in baffling 'romantic' truck situation

Google Maps Street View often catches people around the world in some rather unexpected situations. Sometimes these are scenarios created by the people caught on camera for comic effect.
The man, in a blue T-shirt and grey jeans, is holding on to the red metal bars above his head.

He does not look as though is there against his will and instead holds a rather casual stance.

A female stands opposite him, leaning against the red metal bars with one arm resting beside her.

While the couple’s faces are blurred to protect their privacy, they both appear to be grinning as they look toward the Google cameras direction.

However, one Reddit user chimed in to shed some light on what they think could be occurring.

“As someone who was there literally last month it’s only illegal for the driver to be unbuckled,” they wrote.

“This is common and usually features about eight people in the back there.

“This is just normal Mexican transportation.”

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Travel Feed