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US pilot thanks British man who guaranteed a happy landing

US pilot thanks British man who guaranteed a happy landing

A U.S. Air Force officer has thanked a British photographer whose quick action ensured he landed safely after an engine in the aircraft he was piloting malfunctioned last weekBy DANICA KIRKA Associated PressJuly 23, 2021, 8:12 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleLONDON — U.S. Air Force Maj. Grant Thompson thanked a British photographer the best way he knew how – by ripping the flight patch from his shoulder and handing it to the man whose quick action last week ensured he landed safely after an engine in his F-15E Strike Eagle malfunctioned.Ian Simpson was standing outside the fence of a Royal Air Force base in eastern England and snapping pictures of fighter aircraft taking off when he spotted a shower of sparks flying from the back of a plane. He and a group of aviation enthusiasts listening to flight control traffic realized the pilot didn’t appear to know there was a problem with the aircraft.So Simpson, who used to work in the aviation industry, Googled RAF Lakenheath’s phone number and persuaded a switchboard operator to put him through to flight operations at the base, home to the U.S. Air Force’s 48th Fighter Wing.“I said, ‘Look, something is wrong with the plane, definitely. We’ve got lots of photographs of sparks coming out the back,’’’ Simpson, 56, told The Associated Press.Word was relayed to the pilot. Asked to take a look, his wingman confirmed damage to one of the engines, the base said. The pilot returned to base, “just to be safe.”“For most of us here, this was a very rare occurrence that we have not personally witnessed,” the air base said in a statement. “It’s wonderful to know that the Liberty Wing has such a great partnership with the local community – and the courage that Ian displayed was next to none.”Simpson said he was motivated by the death of another young American pilot whose plane crashed into the North Sea on June 15, 2020.“I thought someone should call,” he said. “I didn’t want anything like that to happen to another family.’’On Wednesday, Thompson said thank you by giving Simpson a cap and insignia, and then throwing in the shoulder patch for good measure.“That was a nice touch,’’ Simpson said.The base noted Simpson’s actions in a Facebook post that won widespread attention, particularly from Americans grateful for his assistance.“For me, the most humbling thing has been the families of servicemen who thanked me for doing what I did,’’ he said. “I wasn’t expecting to get so much thanks.’’

Judge: 'Plausible' N Ireland bombing could have been stopped

Judge: 'Plausible' N Ireland bombing could have been stopped

A judge in Northern Ireland says there is plausible evidence that authorities could have prevented the worst single atrocity of the TroublesBy DANICA KIRKA Associated PressJuly 23, 2021, 2:09 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleLONDON — A Northern Ireland judge ruled Friday that there was plausible evidence that authorities could have prevented the worst single atrocity of the Troubles.High Court Justice Mark Horner recommended that authorities in the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland open an investigation into the Omagh bombing that killed 29 people.Horner said that an investigation was necessary to determine whether a more “proactive” security approach might have thwarted the attack on Aug. 15, 1998.“I am satisfied that certain grounds when considered separately or together give rise to plausible allegations that there was a real prospect of preventing the Omagh bombing,’’ Horner said at the court in Belfast.“These grounds involve … the consideration of terrorist activity on both sides of the border by prominent dissident terrorist republicans leading up to the Omagh bomb.”The case was brought eight years ago by Michael Gallagher, whose son Aiden was killed in the blast, challenging the British government’s refusal to conduct a public inquiry into the bombing. Gallagher claimed that the bombing could have been prevented if British security agents and police officers from the Royal Ulster Constabulary had combined their intelligence on dissident republic groups.U.K. law allows for wide-ranging public inquiries into issues of major public concern, but the government argued that a probe by the police ombudsman was the best way to address any outstanding issues in the Omagh attack.Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said that the government would wait to review the full decision before deciding how to proceed.“We recognize that today the court has set out that there are ‘plausible allegations that there was a real prospect of preventing the Omagh bombing’ and that more should be done to investigate this,’’ Lewis said in a statement released after the ruling. “The U.K. government will take time to consider the judge’s statement and all its recommendations carefully as we wait for the full judgment to be published.”Horner read only the conclusion to his judgment in court, explaining that he couldn’t release the full judgment setting out his reasoning because the person responsible for checking the document to ensure it didn’t contain sensitive material was self-isolating because of COVID-19. The complete judgment will be published after that review is complete, he said.The justice also said that while he has no authority to compel officials in the Republic of Ireland to conduct their own inquiry, there would be a “real advantage” in conducting parallel investigations on both sides of the border.

Climate envoy says US, China must end world's 'suicide pact'

Climate envoy says US, China must end world's 'suicide pact'

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry has called on China to join America in urgently cutting greenhouse gas emissions and described the international alliances that rebuilt Europe after World War II as a model for fighting climate changeBy DANICA KIRKA Associated PressJuly 20, 2021, 6:03 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleLONDON — U.S. climate envoy John Kerry called on China to join America in urgently cutting greenhouse gas emissions and described the international alliances that rebuilt Europe after World War II as a model for fighting against climate change.Kerry challenged global leaders to accelerate the actions needed to curb rising temperatures and pull the world back from the edge of the abyss. “Allies, partners, competitors and even adversaries” must work together, he said during a speech at London’s Kew Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage site where scientists are working to protect plants from global warming.“The climate crisis is the test of our own times, and while it may be unfolding in slow motion, to some, this test is as acute and as existential as any previous one,” Kerry said. “Time is running out.”Kerry described the next decade as decisive, saying countries around the world must speed up efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions if they are to meet their commitment to limit temperature increases to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels.While many countries have pledged to eliminate net carbon emissions by 2050, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says emissions must be cut by at least 40% by the end of the decade to keep temperatures in check.Organizers of the next United Nations climate summit are calling the November event in Glasgow, Scotland “the world’s last best chance to get runaway climate change under control.” The primary goal of the meeting, known as COP26, is for countries to set “ambitious” targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.To meet these targets, countries need to phase out the use of coal, reduce deforestation, accelerate the shift to electric vehicles and encourage investment in renewable energy, according to the conference organizers.China, the United States and India are the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, meaning efforts to control climate change are likely to fail unless all three lead the way in slashing emissions.Kerry referred to the often tense relationship between the U.S. and China but said the future depended on their cooperation. Both countries also need to raise their ambitions, he said.“It is not a mystery that China and the U.S. have many differences. But on climate, cooperation is the only way to break free from the world’s current mutual suicide pact,” he said. “President Biden and President Xi have both stated unequivocally that each will cooperate on climate despite other consequential differences. America needs China to succeed in slashing emissions. China needs America to do the same.”China’s output of climate-wrecking pollution surged in the last decade as its economy boomed, especially as it kept operating, building and financing new, dirty-burning coal-fired power plants.The Rhodium Group analysis firm reported in May that China as of 2019 was pumping out more than 27% of all climate-damaging emissions globally. That’s more than the United States, which stood at 11%, and more than the rest of the developed world combined, Rhodium said.The Trump administration and others in the United States pointed to China’s lead role in climate damage in justifying the rolling back of many emissions-cutting efforts in the U.S. China and other developing economies, meanwhile, say Western nations most responsible for the global-warming that occurred in the past are asking them to rein in their own development with little or no compensation.Antony Froggatt, an energy policy consultant at the Chatham House think tank in London, applauded Kerry’s speech for highlighting the urgent need for action — for all.“There is an acceptance from…one of the highest climate change officials in the world that climate change is here, it’s real, it’s having an impact, and its future impact will be equivalent to sort of a global war…and therefore we need to do things now,” Froggatt said. “That isn’t just America, that isn’t just the EU. It is India. It is China. It is these major emitters that actually need to take action on the real short term and demonstrate that they are changing emissions levels.”————Associated Press Writer Ellen Knickmeyer in Oklahoma City contributed.

UK government backs Guaidó claim in Venezuelan gold fight

UK government backs Guaidó claim in Venezuelan gold fight

The British government is seeking to prevent Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro from gaining access to nearly $2 billion in gold held by the Bank of EnglandBy DANICA KIRKA Associated PressJuly 19, 2021, 7:39 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleLONDON — The British government sought Monday to prevent Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro from gaining access to nearly $2 billion of gold held by the Bank of England as the U.K. Supreme Court started hearing a case that hinges on the question of who should be considered the Latin American nation’s president.Britain told the court that its recognition of opposition leader Juan Guaidó as president is clear and longstanding, and therefore he is the person authorized to decide how the gold held by Britain’s central bank should be used. The government’s statement came after a lower court said the U.K.’s recognition of Guaidó was “ambiguous.”“The U.K. government has the right to decide who to recognize as the legitimate head of a foreign state,” the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said in a statement. “The U.K. recognizes Juan Guaidó as president of Venezuela and consequentially he is the only individual recognized to have the authority to act on behalf of Venezuela as its head of state.”Maduro has demanded access to the gold to help his cash-starved nation fight the coronavirus pandemic. But the Bank of England has refused to hand it over, citing the British government’s recognition of Guaidó.Guaidó has sought to preserve the gold stash at the Bank of England to keep it out of the hands of the Maduro government, which it contends is illegitimate and corrupt.Guaidó, who was the leader of Venezuela’s National Assembly, challenged Maduro’s claim to the presidency, arguing that his 2018 election was rigged and invalid. Guaidó says he is the country’s interim president under provisions of the constitution that allow the head of the legislature to take power until free elections can be held.Countries including the U.S. and the U.K. have recognized Guaidó as the legitimate president of Venezuela, although China, Russia and many others haven’t and Maduro holds effective power within Venezuela.The battle over the gold is being fought out between two competing governing boards of the Central Bank of Venezuela, one appointed by Maduro and the other by Guaidó.Guaidó, who is represented by the law firm Arnold & Porter, is arguing there is nothing ambiguous about the U.K. actions.Maduro’s lawyers argue that he’s still president of Venezuela and that the U.K. has recognized this by continuing diplomatic relations with his government.Leigh Crestohl, a lawyer representing the Maduro board, said the U.K. government’s position threatens the attractiveness of the City of London and the Bank of England as a secure place for foreign assets.“International observers to this case may be surprised by the possibility that a unilateral statement of political recognition by the U.K. government can dispossess a foreign sovereign of assets deposited in London without any recourse in the English court,’’ Crestohl, a partner at the London-based law firm Zaiwalla & Co., said in a statement. “This is all the more so where that recognition ignores the reality on the ground.”

UK opts not to vaccinate most under-18s against COVID-19

UK opts not to vaccinate most under-18s against COVID-19

The British government has decided not to inoculate most children and teenagers against COVID-19 until more data on the vaccines become availableBy DANICA KIRKA Associated PressJuly 19, 2021, 7:17 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleLONDON — The British government has decided not to inoculate most children and teenagers against COVID-19 until more safety data on the vaccines become available.Children as young as 12 with severe neuro-disabilities, Down syndrome, immunosuppression and multiple or severe learning disabilities, as well as those who are household contacts of individuals who are immunosuppressed, will be eligible for vaccination, the government said Monday.The decision to hold off giving shots to most people under age 18 was based on the recommendation of an expert advisory panel. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization said the health benefits of universal vaccination don’t outweigh the risks for most young people, who typically suffer only mild symptoms of the virus.“Until more safety data is available and has been evaluated, a precautionary approach is preferred,” the JCVI said in a statement.Health Secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement that “today’s advice does not recommend vaccinating under-18s without underlying health conditions at this point in time.”But the JCVI will continue to review new data, and consider whether to recommend vaccinating under-18s without underlying health conditions at a future date.’’The decision not to vaccinate most young people puts the U.K. at odds with France and several other European countries, which have decided to vaccinate adolescents as young as 12.Among hundreds of people at a Paris vaccination center Friday, scores were teenagers with their parents. The French government announced last week that it plans to set up vaccine drives at middle schools, high schools and universities in the fall.In the U.K., children and teenagers who are eligible for inoculation will receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the only one British regulators have authorized for use in those under 18. The University of Oxford is still conducting trials of the safety and effectiveness in children of the vaccine it developed with AstraZeneca.Aside from medical and scientific questions surrounding the use of COVID-19 vaccines by adolescents, many public health experts have raised questions about the morality of inoculating low-risk children at a time when many of the world’s most vulnerable people still lack access to vaccines.Professor Andrew Pollard, who was instrumental in developing the AstraZeneca vaccine, told Parliament’s science and technology committee last month that vulnerable adults elsewhere should be prioritized over children.“It is older adults, those with other health conditions, and health care workers who are looking after them, who absolutely have to be prioritized,″ he said.The Oxford trial should help policymakers decide whether they want to extend mass vaccination programs to children at some point in the future as they seek to ensure schools are safe and combat the spread of the virus in the wider population, Pollard said.The announcement came on what the government has dubbed “Freedom Day,” the day most of the remaining COVID-19 restrictions were removed throughout England. Bars and restaurants can now operate at full capacity and night clubs are reopening for the first time in 16 months.The government decided to lift the restrictions because 88% of the adult population has now received at least one dose of vaccine and more than two-thirds are fully vaccinated. While infections are rising rapidly, the high level of vaccination means that fewer people are becoming seriously ill than during earlier waves of the virus.

UK opts not to vaccinate most under-18s against COVID-19

UK opts not to vaccinate most under-18s against COVID-19

The British government has decided not to inoculate most children and teenagers against COVID-19 until more data on the vaccines become availableBy DANICA KIRKA Associated PressJuly 19, 2021, 7:17 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleLONDON — The British government has decided not to inoculate most children and teenagers against COVID-19 until more safety data on the vaccines become available.Children as young as 12 with severe neuro-disabilities, Down syndrome, immunosuppression and multiple or severe learning disabilities, as well as those who are household contacts of individuals who are immunosuppressed, will be eligible for vaccination, the government said Monday.The decision to hold off giving shots to most people under age 18 was based on the recommendation of an expert advisory panel. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization said the health benefits of universal vaccination don’t outweigh the risks for most young people, who typically suffer only mild symptoms of the virus.“Until more safety data is available and has been evaluated, a precautionary approach is preferred,” the JCVI said in a statement.Health Secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement that “today’s advice does not recommend vaccinating under-18s without underlying health conditions at this point in time.”But the JCVI will continue to review new data, and consider whether to recommend vaccinating under-18s without underlying health conditions at a future date.’’The decision not to vaccinate most young people puts the U.K. at odds with France and several other European countries, which have decided to vaccinate adolescents as young as 12.Among hundreds of people at a Paris vaccination center Friday, scores were teenagers with their parents. The French government announced last week that it plans to set up vaccine drives at middle schools, high schools and universities in the fall.In the U.K., children and teenagers who are eligible for inoculation will receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the only one British regulators have authorized for use in those under 18. The University of Oxford is still conducting trials of the safety and effectiveness in children of the vaccine it developed with AstraZeneca.Aside from medical and scientific questions surrounding the use of COVID-19 vaccines by adolescents, many public health experts have raised questions about the morality of inoculating low-risk children at a time when many of the world’s most vulnerable people still lack access to vaccines.Professor Andrew Pollard, who was instrumental in developing the AstraZeneca vaccine, told Parliament’s science and technology committee last month that vulnerable adults elsewhere should be prioritized over children.“It is older adults, those with other health conditions, and health care workers who are looking after them, who absolutely have to be prioritized,″ he said.The Oxford trial should help policymakers decide whether they want to extend mass vaccination programs to children at some point in the future as they seek to ensure schools are safe and combat the spread of the virus in the wider population, Pollard said.The announcement came on what the government has dubbed “Freedom Day,” the day most of the remaining COVID-19 restrictions were removed throughout England. Bars and restaurants can now operate at full capacity and night clubs are reopening for the first time in 16 months.The government decided to lift the restrictions because 88% of the adult population has now received at least one dose of vaccine and more than two-thirds are fully vaccinated. While infections are rising rapidly, the high level of vaccination means that fewer people are becoming seriously ill than during earlier waves of the virus.

UK reverses plan to open up travel to France due to variant

UK reverses plan to open up travel to France due to variant

The British government threw the holiday plans of thousands of travelers into disarray Friday night when it reversed plans to open up travel from France because of concerns about the spread of a variant of COVID-19By DANICA KIRKA Associated PressJuly 16, 2021, 10:48 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleLONDON — The British government threw the holiday plans of tens of thousands of people into disarray Friday night when it reversed plans to open up travel from France because of concerns about a COVID-19 variant circulating in the country.Plans to relax self-isolation rules for people traveling from a wide range of countries will no longer apply to France because of the persistent presence of the Beta variant, which was first discovered in South Africa and is believed to be more dangerous than other variants, the government said. The announcement came just days after authorities confirmed plans to lift the quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated people arriving from “amber list” countries, including most destinations in the European Union.The about-face comes at a critical moment in Britain’s battle against coronavirus, with remaining restrictions set to end on Monday and summer holidays for most school children scheduled to begin Friday.“We have always been clear that we will not hesitate to take rapid action at our borders to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect the gains made by our successful vaccination program,” Health Secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement. “With restrictions lifting on Monday across the country, we will do everything we can to ensure international travel is conducted as safely as possible, and protect our borders from the threat of variants.”Fully vaccinated travelers from France, including those who transit through the country, will continue to be required to self-isolate for up to 10 days on their arrival in Britain.Advocates for the travel industry reacted with outrage.“This announcement is a real setback to international travel,” said lawmaker Henry Smith, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Future of Aviation.“We all expected that the traffic light system would provide much-needed certainty, yet our current approach has only delivered confusion which continues to prevent any meaningful recovery for our aviation, travel and tourism sectors.”Travelers expressed frustration after discovering that they would need to quarantine when returning home despite being fully vaccinated.Graham McLeod, from Bolton in northwest England, is staying at his holiday home in Charente Maritime on France’s Atlantic coast with his partner.“In terms of government messaging, we’d say it’s inconsistent, irregular, unclear and frankly unworkable,” the 63-year-old retiree said. “We struggle to understand the sudden desire to introduce quarantine for returnees from France and cannot help feel this has far more to do with politics and much less to do with science.”

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