UK politician says ‘white privilege’ divisive, unhelpful term: report

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A U.K. politician member of the nation’s equality watchdog is warning that the term “white privilege” was divisive contributed to an “unhelpful way of looking at society.”

The Sunday Telegraph reported that Falkner, who serves in the House of Lords, preferred civics lessons over “fretting about one group versus another.”

“If we taught rights in the curriculum, human rights, civic rights, that would be the more relevant thing to teach our young people, rather than fretting about one group versus another group, whether one group has had innate advantages that other groups don’t have,” she said.

“I prefer a unifying discourse to a divisive discourse. And I find those expressions to be divisive.”

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Falkner, who was born in Pakistan, also serves as a member of the Equality Human Rights Commission. According to its website, the group is a “statutory non-departmental public body established by the Equality Act 2006” operates independently.

“We use our unique powers to challenge discrimination, promote equality of opportunity protect human rights,” the group says. “We work with other organisations [sic] individuals to achieve our aims, but are ready to take tough action against those who abuse the rights of others.”

Her comments touched on a simmering controversy over whether new ideas surrounding race caused more harm than good. In the U.S., activists have argued that teaching white privilege other ideas associated with critical race theory create division instill shame over a person’s race.

Defenders of these teachings generally argue that they shed light on systems of oppression that need to be countered in order to truly defeat bias against minorities.

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This wasn’t the first time Falkner caught attention for wading into the culture wars. 

She previously caught attention for comments she made about gender. “Someone can believe that people who self-identify as a different sex are not the different sex that they self-identify,” she said.

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

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The British government has decided not to inoculate most children 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 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 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.

On what some have called “Freedom Day”, marking the end of coronavirus restrictions in England, visitors listen as Yeoman Warder Barney Chandler leading the first tour of the Tower of London in 16 months since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, in London, Monday, July 19, 2021. Beginning Monday, face masks will no longer be legally required with social distancing rules shelved, but mask rules will remain for passengers on the London transport network.  (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

“Until more safety data is available 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.

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“But the JCVI will continue to review new data, 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 several other European countries, which have decided to vaccinate adolescents as young as 12.

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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 universities in the fall.

In the U.K., children 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 effectiveness in children of the vaccine it developed with AstraZeneca.

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Aside from medical 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 technology committee last month that vulnerable adults elsewhere should be prioritized over children.

People enjoy the weather on Bournemouth beach in Dorset, England, Monday July 19, 2021. (Steve Parsons/PA via AP)

People enjoy the weather on Bournemouth beach in Dorset, England, Monday July 19, 2021. (Steve Parsons/PA via AP)

“It is older adults, those with other health conditions, 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 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 restaurants can now operate at full capacity night clubs are reopening for the first time in 16 months.

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The government decided to lift the restrictions because 88% of the adult population has now received at least one dose of vaccine 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.

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China threatens to nuke Japan over Taiwan in video played on CCP-sanctioned channel

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The Chinese Communist Party aired a video in which it warned Japan of a nuclear response “full-scale war” if the islnation interferes in China’s handling of Taiwan. 

The video, which appeared on a channel approved by the CCP, singles out Japan as the one exception to China’s policy to not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear powers. 

“We will use nuclear bombs first,” the video said. “We will use nuclear bombs continuously. We will do this until Japan declares unconditional surrender for the second time.” 

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The CCP claims that it will “liberate Taiwan,” it warns against Japan deploying “one soldier, one plane or one ship.” 

The video was deleted from Chinese platform Xigua after gaining 2 million views, but copies were uploaded to YouTube Twitter, Taiwan News reported. 

The threats follow comments made two weeks ago by Japanese officials about Taiwan’s sovereignty, with Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso saying that Japan must “defend Taiwan,” The Japan Times reported. 

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“If a major incident happened (over Taiwan), it’s safe to say it would be related to a situation threatening the survival (of Japan). If that is the case, Japan the U.S. must defend Taiwan together,” Aso said.   

However, Aso insists that Japan would resolve any issue through dialogue. Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said that a Taiwan contingency is a “hypothetical situation.” 

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China Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Zhao Lijian urged Japan to adjust its “mentality” over the issue, Sky News Australia reported. 

“We once again urge Japan to approach the relevant issues with the right mentality, show its respect for China’s sovereignty sincerity in upholding regional peace stability,” Lijian said. 

“I must stress that, Taiwan is part of China the Taiwan question is purely China’s internal affair,” Lijian added. “China never allows interference in the Taiwan question in any form by any country.”

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Lijian stressed that Taiwan is part of the Chinese plans for reunification. 



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Afghanistan recalls diplomats from Pakistan after ambassador’s daughter allegedly abducted, tortured

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Afghanistan has initiated a withdrawal of diplomats from Pakistan following the alleged abduction of the ambassador’s daughter in the nation’s capital. 

Silsila Alikhil, daughter of Ambassador Najib Alikhil, was kidnapped in Islamabad on Friday held for several hours, during which she was “severely tortured.” The action “wounded the psyche” of Afghanistan, forcing it to recall senior diplomats, including the ambassador himself. 

“Following the abduction of the Afghan Ambassador’s daughter in Pakistan, the Leadership of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan called back Afghanistan’s Ambassador senior diplomats from Pakistan until all security threats are addressed including the arrest trial of the perpetrators of abduction,” the Afghanistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced in a statement. 

The statement also said that an Afghan delegation will visit Pakistan to assess follow up on the case “all related issues.” 

The Afghan foreign ministry also summoned Pakistan’s ambassador to lodge a complaint over the incident, the BBC reported. 

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The Pakistan foreign ministry appeared to confirm the incident in a statement on Saturday, saying that Silsila Alikhil was “assaulted while riding a rented vehicle.” The ministry appeared to backtrack the admission, instead Sunday night expressing skepticism over the claims.

A medical report, shared on social media confirmed by the hospital where Silsila Alikhil was treated, stated she was admitted with swelling in the brain’s occiptal region rope marks on her wrists ankles, Reuters reported. 

The report also indicated she was held for five hours. 

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Pakistan launched a probe into the incident, but Afghanistan raised questions over the credibility of the probe after Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said that so far there is no evidence of the abduction called it “an international conspiracy.” 

The incident further strains relations between the countries as the U.S. continues to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan the Taliban resurge in the country.

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Afghanistan has accused Pakistan of providing have for Taliban militants as they continue their campaign against the country. 

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Puzzle-solving great apes: The shared abilities underpinning language

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A project testing great apes’ puzzle-solving abilities could offer insight into the mental abilities underpinning language. Solving the puzzles involves the same sorts of mental abilities humans use in speech, so by studying the gorillas, Birkbeck researchers hope to learn more about language development in another great ape: us. New Scientist has been following this pioneering research, discovering that humans are not as unique as we’d like to think.

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