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The May death of 46-year-old George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, and the subsequent protests across the United States and globally, led lawmakers from around the world to social media to discuss race relations, according to a new analysis from the U.S.-based Pew Research Center.  The research shows that almost half of lawmakers who are active on Twitter in four countries — Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — posted messages referencing Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter protests. Floyd was African American. “Prior to George Floyd’s killing, very few had used the phrase Black Lives Matter or hashtags related to that movement, only about 4%. And now we see that after George Floyd’s killing, those who are weighing in on these topics shoots up to about half,” said Kat Devlin, a Pew research associate who spoke to VOA via Skype. Black Lives Matter protests were held in London and cities across Britain, as well as Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, Sydney, Auckland and elsewhere.FILE – People look at a statue of a Black Lives Matter protester by British artist Marc Quinn erected in the spot once occupied by the statue of a slave trader in the English city of Bristol, July 15, 2020.Devlin said events in the U.S. sparked renewed debates on domestic race relations in many countries.  “Sixty-nine percent (of legislators) in Australia who were talking about George Floyd or the Black Lives Matter movement also began to talk about Indigenous people in their countries — the same with a majority of the legislators in New Zealand,” Devlin said. Almost two-thirds of all British lawmakers using Twitter posted messages about George Floyd or Black Lives Matter. Around a third posted tweets critical of U.S. President Donald Trump’s handling of the protests. Most tweeted support and solidarity for the protesters. Many used the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag to highlight perceived racial inequality in Britain.  One widely shared June 1 tweet from British Labor Party MP Clive Lewis compared the situation in the United States to that in Britain:  “Any liberal democracy, including our own, where historic wealth accumulation is inextricably linked to racist ideology will be capable of #GeorgeFloyd levels of racial injustice. It’s not an accusation, simply the current reality.”FILE – A protester stands in front of the US embassy during the Black Lives Matter protest rally in London, June 7, 2020.Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, a Black lawyer and political activist based in Britain, told VOA that the debate in the U.S. resonates across the Atlantic.   “The protests in solidarity, for instance, in the United Kingdom — personally, I don’t think that’s just about the U.S. It’s also recognizing that these this systemic racism exists here in the U.K.,” Mos-Shogbamimu said in a Skype interview at the time of the London protests. “And social media platforms have become the wireless platform to communicate this information worldwide, in real time, instantly.” Not all lawmakers’ tweets expressed solidarity with the protests. Twenty percent of British legislators’ posts were critical of the demonstrations in Britain. Five percent of these posts made reference to the coronavirus pandemic, criticizing the large gatherings and accusing authorities of double standards for allowing the protesters to congregate despite social distancing and lockdown measures in force at the time. “Legislators were talking about the coronavirus in respect to the protests, but then also turned that conversation to the fact that non-white groups within the U.K. are suffering worse outcomes,” Devlin noted.  In Australia, Sen. Pauline Hanson of the One Nation Party wrote on Twitter June 8: “ANGER OVER DOUBLE STANDARDS GROWS: Premiers are facing a growing backlash over Covid-19 social-distancing restrictions after allowing tens of thousands of protestors to defy health warnings & attend Black Lives Matter rallies.” Hanson recently shared an article on Twitter that described the Black Lives Matter movement as “neo-Marxist.” In the weeks since Floyd’s death, statues of slave traders have been torn down, colonial histories are being rewritten, and demands for racial equality have become louder, amplified by social media. In the United States, the House of Representatives last month voted to rid the Capitol of Confederate statues. It is not clear if the measure will be brought to a vote in the Senate. Trump has described the destruction of Civil War-era statues and other memorials, including those honoring Christopher Columbus, as an attempt to cleanse the U.S. of its history. 

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A gleaming new bridge in Genoa built after the deadly collapse of a viaduct opened Tuesday, but critics say not enough has been done since the 2018 disaster to overhaul Italy’s crumbling infrastructure.The first cars crossed the sleek steel structure just after 2000 GMT, nearly two years to the day the Morandi highway gave way during heavy rain, hurling dozens of vehicles into the abyss and killing 43 people.The San Giorgio bridge, designed by famed Italian architect Renzo Piano, was inaugurated to much fanfare on Monday.But many of the relatives of the victims declined to attend, saying the ceremony overshadowed the 2018 tragedy.”We’re still there, at the collapsed bridge, with the people we lost under the bridge. We’re stuck in 2018,” Giorgio Robbiano, 43, who lost his brother, sister-in-law and nephew in the disaster, told AFP Tuesday.However he said “the bridge had to be built and we’re happy for the city.”It was also important to show that large works could be successfully finished in time, without complications,” he said.The tragedy shone a spotlight on the country’s decaying roads, bridges and railways.The Morandi’s speedy demolition and replacement has been hailed by many as an example of what Italy could be, should it scrap its infamous red tape.The centre-left coalition government promised during the coronavirus pandemic this year to use major infrastructure projects to reboot the battered economy, as Italy slid towards its worst recession since World War II.It said it would radically simplify bureaucracy to unblock some 62 billion euros of construction work, and promoted the “Genoa model”: a code-word for work done efficiently and quickly under the watch of a special commissioner.The country has at least 50 large infrastructure projects that are stalled, from a high-speed train in Sicily to the widening of a motorway in Tuscany, Italy’s construction lobby ANCE said.’The Wild West’ Projects stutter to a halt or fail to get off the ground due to lengthy legal challenges to tenders, companies going bankrupt, political point scoring or local council spats, including one in Liguria over which town should host the station on a new train line.The funds are there: according to the Cresme research institute, there were some 200 billion euros earmarked for the sector at the end of 2019, ranging from government and EU funds to private contributions.Last month the government approved a “simplification decree” — touted by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte as “the mother of all reforms.”But detractors said it failed to make serious inroads into red tape, and could even prove damaging.Infrastructure executive Angelica Donati said it takes twice as long in Italy to carry out a large-scale infrastructure project than in the rest of Europe, so speeding up the process and improving efficiency and transparency would be much welcomed.But she warned that the new decree crushed competition, by effectively excluding the small and medium enterprises that make up the backbone of Italy from tenders for projects worth over 5.3 million euros.For the next two years, the public administration can rule such projects be treated as an emergency “because of the COVID-related crisis … which would exclude them from all public tender regulations, apart from anti-mafia ones”, she told AFP.A small number of specific companies can be invited to participate individually in the tender — penalizing those who would have made joint venture bids, or are simply excluded.”Using the commissioner structure and throwing out the rule book, saying you have full power to do whatever you want, is not the right way to ensure transparency and protect competition,” Donati said.”The Genoa model is a very bad idea, it’s very dangerous,” and risks turning Italy into “the Wild West”.

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The International Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labor has been universally ratified. The International Labor Organization said this is the first time in its history that all 187 of its member states have ratified an International Labor Convention.An estimated 152 million children are in child labor. Seventy-three-million are involved in hazardous work that the International Labor Organization defines as the worst forms of child labor.International Labor Organization Director-General Guy Ryder attends a news conference after a meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Oct. 1, 2019.ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said the universal ratification of the convention means that children now will benefit from critical legal protection against the worst forms of child labor.“In the past, it has too often been the lot of children to be used to fight in armed conflict, to be sold as slaves, forced into work in the drug trade or in the production of child sexual abuse material or exposed to hazardous substances and long hours,” Ryder said. “In every country, now these practices have been condemned, and clear legal prohibitions against them have been established everywhere.”However, Ryder warns against complacency. He said countries must do more to end impunity for violators and for violations of children’s right to be free from child labor. He said governments must implement and enforce the provisions in the convention.UN Ratifies First Unanimous Treaty on Child Labor The legally binding convention prohibits exploitation of children and forced laborSince the ILO convention was adopted in 1999, the incidence of child labor and its worst forms dropped nearly 40% by 2016. However, progress has slowed in recent years, particularly among children five to 11 years of age, and in some geographical areas.Africa is the region with both the highest absolute number of child laborers and the highest prevalence. Ryder tells VOA the situation in Africa is very worrying.“Just over 72 million African children are in child labor. Of those, 31.5 million in hazardous work,” Ryder said. “The prevalence rate then is nearly 20%. Nearly one in five of all African children are in child labor. … Progress seems to have stalled in Africa, and child labor in absolute terms actually increased in sub-Saharan Africa from 2012 to 2016.”The ILO chief fears years of progress in reducing child labor are at risk of being reversed by COVID-19. He notes the pandemic has caused global unemployment to skyrocket. As more and more people lose their livelihoods and means of survival, he said the danger and temptation to push children back into the labor market will grow.   

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A global treaty sponsored by the U.N. International Labor Organization (ILO) calling for greater protection for children against sexual exploitation, forced labor and armed conflict was signed Tuesday by all member nations in the international forum.
Tonga, an island nation located in the Pacific, approved the treaty this week, making it the first U.N. labor treaty ratified by all 187 members. Ratified treaties are legally binding on all signatory governments.International Labor Organization Director-General Guy Ryder attends a news conference after a meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Oct. 1, 2019.“Universal ratification … is (a) historic first that means that all children now have legal protection against the worst forms of child labor,” ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said.
“It reflects a global commitment that the worst forms of child labor, such as slavery, sexual exploitation, the use of children in armed conflict or other illicit or hazardous work … have no place in our society,” he said in a statement.
According to the ILO, the number of child laborers plummeted to 152 million children in recent years, a sharp decline from its previous peak 20 years ago of 246 million. Most child workers are employed in the agricultural sector, and 73 million are placed in dangerous conditions while working.Children in Worst Forms of Labor Get Legal Protection The universal ratification of a convention provides children with critical legal protection from the worst child laborConcern for this issue has risen in recent months amid the coronavirus pandemic and the strain on global and local economies. According to the Reuters news agency, some experts say the pandemic could reverse up to two decades of activism and progress in reducing child labor.
In June, the United Nations warned that child labor in the 5-11 age group was likely to rise during and after the pandemic as families grapple to make ends meet.
“The business community is both aware of and acting on the need to do business with respect for children’s rights,” said Roberto Suarez Santos, head of the International Organization of Employers (IOE), the world’s largest private sector network.
Ending child labor is one of the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, a set of global priorities created in 2015. The organization plans to eradicate the practice by 2025. 

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Poland reported on Tuesday a record daily increase in coronavirus cases for the fourth time in a week, with more than a third of them found in the southern Silesia region, which has been grappling with another outbreak among coal miners.
The latest tally of 680 new infections and six deaths comes as Poland considers introducing stricter restrictions, including mandatory testing for travelers returning to Poland and quarantine for those coming from certain countries.
More than 220 cases were reported in Silesia, where a rapid spread of infections led to a temporary reduction of coal output and work in 12 mines in June. The situation then stabilized, but has now deteriorated again.
Last week new cases were detected in three mines, including Chwalowice, which was among those where work was cut back to a minimum in June. The state assets ministry said all 2,700 miners in Chwalowice would be tested on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Sanitary services said last week the resurgence of COVID-19 among miners was a result of easing restrictions and of the working conditions in the mines, where it is difficult to enforce social distancing.
Currently 1,043 coal miners are infected, mostly from Poland’s biggest coal producer PGG, data cited by state-run news agency PAP showed on Tuesday.
The pandemic has added to numerous problems faced by the coal industry. The government, PGG representatives and trade unions have agreed to work out a restructuring plan by the end of September.
Poland now has a total of 48,149 recorded coronavirus cases and 1,738 deaths.
Sittings of the upper and lower houses of parliament have been pushed back, with the lower house meeting moving from Aug. 7 to Aug. 14, after one senator tested positive on Saturday.
Members of parliament and senators have since undergone testing for COVID-19.

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Spain’s former monarch, Juan Carlos I, is leaving Spain to live in another, unspecified, country amid a financial scandal, according to a letter published Monday on the royal family’s website. The letter from Juan Carlos to his son, King Felipe VI, said: “I am informing you of my considered decision to move, during this period, out of Spain.” Juan Carlos, in the letter, said he made the decision against the backdrop of “public repercussions of certain episodes of my past private life.” He said he wanted to ensure he doesn’t make his son’s role difficult, adding that “my legacy, and my own dignity, demand that it should be so.” Juan Carlos’ current whereabouts were not known. Spain’s prime minister recently said he found the developments about Juan Carlos – including investigations in Spain and Switzerland – “disturbing.” FILE – Former Spain’s King Juan Carlos sits in a car as he leaves Quiron Hospital one week after a heart surgery in Madrid, Spain, August 31, 2019 in this still image taken from a video obtained by Reuters.Since Spain’s Supreme Court opened its probe earlier this year, Spanish media outlets have published damaging testimony from a separate Swiss investigation into millions of euros (dollars) that were allegedly given to Juan Carlos by Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah.  Juan Carlos allegedly then transferred a large amount to a former companion in what investigators are considering as a possible attempt to hide the money from authorities. The companion, Corinna Larsen, is a Danish-German businesswoman long linked by Spanish media to the former king. Spanish prosecutors have asked her to provide testimony in the case in September in Madrid. The 82-year-old former king is credited with helping Spain peacefully restore democracy after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.  But marred by scandals in the later years of his reign, Juan Carlos in 2014 abdicated in favor of his son Felipe VI, losing the immunity from prosecution Spain’s Constitution grants to the head of state. After media reports claimed Felipe was a beneficiary of an offshore account holding an alleged 65 million-euro ( $76 million) gift from Saudi Arabia to Juan Carlos, Felipe renounced any future personal inheritance he might receive from the former king. Felipe also stripped his father of his annual stipend of 194,232 euros ($228,000). FILE – Spain’s King Felipe, Queen Letizia, Princess Leonor and Infanta Sofia arrive to a state tribute in memory of Spain’s COVID-19 victims at Royal Palace in Madrid, Spain, July 16, 2020.The royal house has denied that Felipe had any knowledge of his father’s alleged financial irregularities. The royal website said in a statement that Felipe respected his father’s decision. Felipe acknowledged the historic importance of his father’s reign, the statement said, but also “reaffirmed the principles and values on which it stood, in the framework of our Constitution and the rest of our legal system.” A statement from Spain’s general prosecutor’s office in June said it was investigating whether Juan Carlos received millions of dollars in kickbacks from Saudi Arabia during the construction of a high-speed railway there by a Spanish consortium.  It called the probe one of “undeniable technical complexity.” The Supreme Court investigation centers on developments after mid-2014. That covers the second phase of the 2011 contract for the bullet train between the Saudi cities of Medina and Mecca — the so-called “AVE of the desert” in reference to the acronym for high-speed trains in Spain. The date marks the moment when Juan Carlos, struggling amid several scandals, passed on the throne to his son after holding it for nearly four decades. Though Juan Carlos’ finances have been questioned in Spanish media for years, there have so far been no legal implications for him. Spanish lawmakers have rejected at least two proposals since the first allegations emerged to open parliamentary investigations. The decision to leave Spain means Juan Carlos will vacate the 17th-century Zarzuela palace in Madrid, his home for more than 50 years. He moved there after marrying the former queen, Sofia, in 1963. “I think he didn’t have any other choice than to leave,” said Carmen Torras, a 66-year-old Barcelona resident. “I hope justice can follow its course.” In Madrid, Nadia Rodriguez, 33, welcomed the former king’s decision. “It’s better that he just goes,” said Rodriguez, a sports teacher. “The truth is that he hasn’t been giving a very good image of Spain.” 

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With a rainbow as a backdrop, Italy’s president inaugurated a replacement bridge Monday in Genoa, but families of those killed when the Morandi Bridge collapsed boycotted the ceremony along with the firefighters who pulled many of the 43 dead from smashed cars and trucks.  Two years ago this month, a stretch of the Morandi Bridge suddenly gave way in a violent rainstorm, sending vehicles plunging to the dry riverbed below. The new structure — a key artery for the northwestern Italian port city — was erected thanks to round-the-clock construction, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Rain drenched the new bridge, stopping just before the ceremony, which started with a recitation of the names of those who died. Renowned architect Renzo Piano designed the bridge to evoke a ship’s bow, to honor his native city’s proud maritime history. The span has 43 lamps in memory of the collapse victims.Traffic will start crossing San Giorgio Bridge, named after St. George, popular in Genoa, on Wednesday. “We are suspended between grief” over the tragedy and “pride for the construction of the new bridge,” Piano told his fellow Genoese in a speech. Renzo Piano walks along the new San Giorgio Bridge in Genoa, Italy, August 3, 2020.The families of the dead are upset that the company that maintained Morandi Bridge will still run the new structure for a while more — even though poor maintenance is being investigated as a possible cause of the collapse. “No one can give us back our dead,” Egle Possetti, who leads an association of the bridge victims’ families, told Italian news channel Sky TG24. Possetti, who lost a sister and other family members in the collapse, said she hoped attention would stay focused on the ongoing criminal investigation into the collapse. Speaking before the ceremony with relatives of the people killed in the collapse, President Sergio Mattarella said he agreed with their decision to meet with him privately and not during the ceremony on the bridge.  The replacement bridge doesn’t cancel out what happened in Genoa, Mattarella said.  “On the contrary, I see it, in good part, as a kind of memorial stone that recalls the victims,” he said.The president added that he shared the families’ quest for justice. “Responsibility isn’t generic. It always has a first name and surname,” Mattarella said, calling for “severe, precise, rigorous action to ascertain responsibility.”FILE – A general view of the collapsed Morandi Bridge in the port city of Genoa, Italy, February 7, 2019.During the ceremony, Mayor Marco Bucci had words for those who lost loved ones in the collapse. “This must never happen again,” the mayor said. Nine Italian air force jets flew in formation over the bridge, trailing smoke in the red, white and green colors of the country’s flag.  Firefighters who extracted survivors and bodies from tons of twisted metal two years ago also boycotted the ceremony in solidarity with the families, Sky TG24 reported.  Prosecutors are probing what caused Morandi Bridge to collapse on August 14, 2018, on the eve of Italy’s biggest summer holiday. Riccardo Morandi, the engineer who designed the bridge built in the 1960s, had recommended continual maintenance to remove rust, especially from the corrosive effect of sea air in the Mediterranean port city, and pollution’s toll on concrete.  Prosecutors have said they are investigating to see whether proper maintenance was consistently carried out over the years on the heavily used span. Earlier this summer, the Italian government forged a deal in which the Benetton fashion family agreed to exit Autostrade per l’Italia, the company that manages and maintains many of Italy’s highways and bridges. Its highway concession had included Morandi Bridge. But that exit will take some time, as Autostrade becomes a public company under the deal and pays 3.4 billion euros ($4 billion) in compensation.   

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Norway says it will stop all cruise ships with more than 100 people on board from disembarking at Norwegian ports after a coronavirus outbreak on a vessel left 41 people infected.  Health Minister Bent Hoie announced the ban Monday, saying the new rules will apply for the next 14 days. He said ships that have already departed will be able to offload passengers and crew at Norwegian ports but that no new journeys can take place.   “The pandemic is not over,” Hoie told a news conference. Norway’s Hurtigruten cruise line apologized Monday following the outbreak on one of its ships, the MS Roald Amundsen. “We have failed,” CEO Daniel Skjeldam told a news conference. “I apologize strongly on behalf of the company.” He said the company would suspend its cruises until further notice and that it is “now in the process of a full review of all procedures.” The cruise line was one of the first companies to resume sailing during the pandemic. Four crew members on board the MS Roald Amundsen were hospitalized on Friday when the ship arrived at Tromsoe, north of the Arctic Circle. They were later diagnosed with the infection along with another 31 crew members. Passengers aboard the ship were allowed to disembark before anyone had been diagnosed, sending local officials scrambling to locate them. At least five passengers have now tested positive and hundreds more have been told to self-isolate for 10 days. The cruise ship industry has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, with ships worldwide shutting down in March after several high-profile outbreaks at sea.  

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