Each Wednesday, we recap the most important headlines from our global community to keep you up to speed on world news.
Voting rights groups, Black Voters Matter and more, filed a federal lawsuit that accuses the Georgia secretary of state’s office of improperly removing nearly 200,000 people from the state’s voter registration list last year.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta by the Black Voters Matter Fund, the Transformative Justice Coalition and the Rainbow Push Coalition.
Latosha Brown, a co-founder of the Black Voters Matter Fund, said at a press conference announcing the lawsuit that the purge amounted to “massive-scale voter suppression.”
The lawsuit says the state removed tens of thousands of voters from the list because it believed they had moved away when, in fact, they had not. It also challenges a “use it or lose it” provision in state law that allows Georgia to purge voters who do not cast ballots for many years. That allowed the state to remove tens of thousands more voters, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit is based on a report released by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in September. At the time, the secretary of state’s office called it “misinformation” and demanded the group release its data or retract its report.
Last fall Georgia removed about 287,000 voters from the registration list. The lawsuit says nearly 200,000 of those people were improperly removed and seeks to have their registrations restored.
Margaret Keenan, a grandmother of four, made history after getting a potentially lifesaving Pfizer vaccine for Covid-19. Keenan officially launched the United Kingdom’s nationwide coronavirus immunization campaign, the largest such effort in its history.
The U.K.’s vaccination effort begins nearly a year after the virus first appeared in China and at the same time much of the world still grapples with the pandemic.
Health officials began the immunization campaign just six days after granting the vaccine’s makers, Pfizer and BioNTech, emergency approval. Britain’s government has secured 800,000 doses of the vaccine so far, enough to give 400,000 people two doses each, the government said.
A federal judge has found the Seattle Police Department in contempt for violating an order to stop the “indiscriminate” use of chemical irritants or projectiles against protesters except in cases where officers faced imminent danger.
The ruling by Judge Richard Jones of the Western District of Washington in Seattle said the department had failed to prove that its use of pepper spray, pepper balls, blast balls and paint balls during four Black Lives Matter protests was warranted.
However, after reviewing evidence, including videos and police reports, Jones said officers were justified in responding with those weapons in another four instances.
The SPD had justified the blast balls, pepper spray, pepper balls and paint balls saying they are imperative to creating separation between protesters and officers. But Jones said that’s not an authorized basis to use the weapons.
A big-data program in China’s Xinjiang “arbitrarily selects” Muslims for detention, flagging behaviour such as wearing a veil, studying the Quran or going on the Hajj pilgrimage as reasons for arrest, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
In a new report, the rights group said it analysed a leaked list of more than 2,000 detainees in Xinjiang’s Aksu prefecture and found that the programme – known as the Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IJOP) – also flagged people for their relationships, their communications, their travel histories, or for being related to someone the authorities consider suspicious.
The United Nations estimates that more than one million Turkic Muslims, most of them ethnic Uighurs, have been detained in camps in far-western Xinjiang. Beijing denies the accusations, describing the camps as vocational training centres to help stamp out “religious extremism” in the troubled province.
Despite calls for ceasefires and compassion amid the coronavirus pandemic, violence and persecution have continued to force people from their homes, with record numbers now displaced, says the United Nations.
By the end of 2019, 79.5 million people were living uprooted and displaced, including nearly 30 million refugees – more than one percent of the world’s population.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said preliminary figures showed more people had been forced to flee in 2020, pushing the number past 80 million.
The UN agency pointed out that instead of calming the conflicts, the coronavirus crisis has “disrupted every aspect of human life and severely worsened existing challenges for the forcibly displaced and stateless”.
It said measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 had made it more difficult for refugees to reach safety.
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