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Europe opens up to tourism – but what exactly is the EU planning?

Europe opens up to tourism – but what exactly is the EU planning?
Europe opens up to tourism – but what exactly is the EU planning?


“Time to revive the EU tourism industry and for cross-border friendships to rekindle – safely.”

That is the view of the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. She tweeted: “We propose to welcome again vaccinated visitors and those from countries with a good health situation.

“But if variants emerge we have to act fast: we propose an EU emergency brake mechanism.”

Brussels is proposing that travel restrictions are eased, with fast-track access for visitors who have been vaccinated.

But the new proposals can be implemented, modified or ignored by member countries.

These are the key questions and answers.

What is the EU saying?

European nations, especially those in the south, have been hit extremely hard by the collapse of tourism. Last summer, a jumble of travel restrictions – which in the case of the UK got more and more tangled as the months went on – put paid to tens of millions of holidays, and billions of euros in spending.

The recommendation from Brussels is: “There is room to ease travel restrictions, particularly for those already vaccinated.

“This proposal aims at progressively resuming travel from third countries in a safe manner, relaunching tourism, especially in view of the summer season, and business travelling, thus fostering the recovery of Europe’s economy.”

Read more: Which countries are on the red list?

So what does that actually mean for travellers from the UK?

Access will be relatively easy once the main summer season gets under way. Bear in mind that from a tourism point of view, the UK is by far the most important “third country” for the European Union. These new rules are aimed squarely at getting British holidaymakers back on the beaches.

The EU says: “The progress in having the population of a third country vaccinated against the virus should be taken into account when assessing the epidemiological situation in that country.” So the UK can expect to be given a gold star – which might mean that we’re all welcome with minimal formalities.

People who have had both jabs could get preferential treatment?

Yes. Vaccinated travellers will be able to swerve restrictions. The EU says: “Scientific advice and empirical evidence on the effects of vaccination are becoming increasingly available and consistently conclusive on the fact that vaccination helps in breaking the transmission chain.”

The EU also says children “should be able to travel with their vaccinated parents” so long as they get a negative PCR test result within 72 hours of arriving in the European Union – but stresses “member states could require additional testing after arrival”.

Europe has been talking for weeks about the ‘Digital Green Certificate’. Will we need one?

In a surprise move, born out of pragmatism, the EU has said it will urge countries to accept “third-country vaccination certificates”.

The proposal says: “Until the Digital Green Certificate Regulation is adopted and becomes applicable, member states should be able to accept third-country certificates based on national law, taking into account the ability to verify the authenticity, validity and integrity of the certificate and whether it contains all relevant data.”

The UK government has promised to provide vaccinated travellers with some kind of official proof once international leisure travel resumes. This should suffice until some kind of internationally agreed certification is ready.

What if things take a turn for the worse?

This is a real concern for the many EU nations – particularly those in the north of Europe, who don’t have millions of tourists each summer and are worried about the risks that opening up to tourism will bring.

An “emergency brake” mechanism will come into play if a variant of concern emerges – with limitations on entry for the purpose of “preventing its import and spread”.

Will it work?

The European Commission hopes so. But every EU country is sovereign, and – as was demonstrated last summer – in the race for holidaymakers it may well turn out to be every country for itself.

Denmark has already opted out, and given the highly variable coronavirus rates across Europe, the chances of a coordinated opening-up look slim. The traveller will be well advised to pay more attention to individual nations’ policies than to EU announcements.



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Liz Cheney says more lawmakers would have voted to impeach Trump but ‘feared for their lives’

Liz Cheney says more lawmakers would have voted to impeach Trump but ‘feared for their lives’
Liz Cheney says more lawmakers would have voted to impeach Trump but ‘feared for their lives’


Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney has claimed that some Republican lawmakers voted against the impeachment of Donald Trump out of fear for their lives, not because they believed the president was innocent of impeachable offenses.

The Republican lawmaker told CNN on Friday that there were “more members who believe in substance and policy and ideals than are willing to say so,” referencing the impeachment vote which took place after the deadly US Capitol riots.

“If you look at the vote to impeach, for example, there were members who told me that they were afraid for their own security – afraid, in some instances, for their lives,” Ms Cheney said, claiming that she heard this fear from several members of Congress.

“And that tells you something about where we are as a country, that members of Congress aren’t able to cast votes, or feel that they can’t, because of their own security,” she added.

Her statements came hours after Republican Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, who holds a less-conservative voting record than Rep Cheney, was elected to take over as House GOP conference chairwoman.

What separates the two women, though, is Ms Stefanik has pushed the “Big Lie” that the election was stolen from the former president.

Rep. Cheney was ousted from her leadership position in the House GOP after she repeatedly denounced Mr Trump and his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen.

“We’ve seen an evolution of, you know, a general situation where conspiracy theories are rampant, where good people in a lot of instances have been misled and believe things that are not true,” Ms Cheney said on CNN.

“And so, I think that we all have an obligation to make sure we’re doing everything we can to convey the truth, to stand for the truth and to stand for the Constitution and our obligations.”

Rep Cheney voted to re-elect Mr Trump in 2020 but has since expressed regret over that decision.

She was one of ten Republican House lawmakers who voted to impeach Mr Trump for his actions that led to the 6 January US Capitol riots.

Ms Cheney has vowed to do everything in her power to prevent the former president from being re-elected in 2024.

“I was never going to support Joe Biden and I do regret the vote [for Mr Trump],” Ms Cheney also told ABC.

“It was a vote based on policy, based on substance and in terms of the kinds of policies he put forward that were good for the country. But I think it’s fair to say that I regret the vote.”

Since the 6 January riots and Mr Trump’s lies about President Biden winning the election, Ms Cheney has become more outspoken against the former president.

“We have to recognize what it means for the nation to have a former president who has not conceded and who continues to suggest that our electoral system cannot function, cannot do the will of the people,” she said.



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‘Shocking and horrifying’: Israel destroys AP office in Gaza Qatar Benjamin Netanyahu Joe Biden Hamas White House

‘Shocking and horrifying’: Israel destroys AP office in Gaza Qatar Benjamin Netanyahu Joe Biden Hamas White House
‘Shocking and horrifying’: Israel destroys AP office in Gaza Qatar Benjamin Netanyahu Joe Biden Hamas White House


An Israeli airstrike on Saturday destroyed a high-rise building that housed The Associated Press office in the Gaza Strip, despite repeated urgent calls from the news agency to the military to halt the impending attack. AP called the strike “shocking and horrifying.”

Twelve AP staffers and freelancers were working and resting in the bureau on Saturday afternoon when the Israeli military telephoned a warning, giving occupants of the building one hour to evacuate. Everyone was able to get out, grabbing a few belongings, before three heavy missiles struck the 12-story building, collapsing it into a giant cloud of dust.

Although no one was hurt, the airstrike demolished an office that was like a second home for AP journalists and marked a new chapter in the already rocky relationship between the Israeli military and the international media. Press-freedom groups condemned the attack. They accused the military, which claimed the building housed Hamas military intelligence, of trying to censor coverage of Israel’s relentless offensive against Hamas militants.

Ahead of the demolition, the AP placed urgent calls to the Israeli military, foreign minister and prime minister’s office but were either ignored or told that there was nothing to be done.

For 15 years, the AP’s top-floor office and roof terrace were a prime location for covering Israel’s conflicts with Gaza’s Hamas rulers, including wars in 2009, 2012 and 2014. The news agency’s camera offered 24-hour live shots as militants’ rockets arched toward Israel and Israeli airstrikes hammered the city and its surrounding area this week.

“We are shocked and horrified that the Israeli military would target and destroy the building housing AP’s bureau and other news organizations in Gaza,” Gary Pruitt, the AP’s president and chief executive, said in a statement. “The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today.”

“This is an incredibly disturbing development. We narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life,” he said, adding that the AP was seeking information from the Israeli government and was in touch with the U.S. State Department.

The building housed a number of offices, including those of the Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera. Dozens of residents who lived in apartments on the upper floors were displaced.

A video broadcast by Al-Jazeera showed the building’s owner, Jawwad Mahdi, pleading over the phone with an Israeli intelligence officer to wait 10 minutes to allow journalists to go inside the building to retrieve valuable equipment before it is bombed.

“All I’m asking is to let four people … to go inside and get their cameras,” he said. “We respect your wishes, we will not do it if you don’t allow it, but give us 10 minutes.” When the officer rejected the request, Mahdi said, “You have destroyed our life’s work, memories, life. I will hang up, do what you want. There is a God

Late Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the building was used by Hamas military intelligence. “It was not an innocent building,” he said.

Israel routinely cites a Hamas presence as a reason for targeting buildings. It also accused the group of using journalists as human shields.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, refused to provide evidence backing up the army’s claims, saying it would compromise intelligence efforts. “I think it’s a legitimate request to see more information, and I will try to provide it,” he said.

Conricus said the army is “committed both to journalists, their safety and to their free work.”

For AP journalists, it was a difficult moment. Most of the AP staff has been sleeping in the bureau, which includes four bedrooms in an upstairs apartment, throughout the current round of fighting, believing that the offices of an international news agency were one of the few safe places in Gaza. In a territory crippled by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, it was equipped with a generator that offered the rare comforts of electricity, air conditioning and running water.

AP correspondent Fares Akram said he was resting in an upstairs room when he heard panicked screams from colleagues about the evacuation order. Staffers hastily gathered basic equipment, including laptops and cameras before fleeing downstairs.

“I am heartbroken,” Akram said. “You feel like you are at home. Above all, you have your memories, your friends. You spend most of your time there.”

Al-Jazeera, the news network funded by Qatar’s government, broadcast the airstrikes live as the building collapsed.

“This channel will not be silenced. Al-Jazeera will not be silenced,” Halla Mohieddeen. on-air anchorperson for Al-Jazeera English said, her voice thick with emotion. “We can guarantee you that right now.”

Later in the day, President Joe Biden spoke to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the spiraling violence.

“He raised concerns about the safety and security of journalists and reinforced the need to ensure their protection,” the White House said.

The Foreign Press Association, which represents some 400 journalists working for international media organizations in Israel and the Palestinian territories, expressed its “grave concern and dismay” over the attack.

“Knowingly causing the destruction of the offices of some of the world’s largest and most influential news organizations raises deeply worrying questions about Israel’s willingness to interfere with the freedom of the press,” it said. “The safety of other news bureaus in Gaza is now in question.”

Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said the attack raises concerns that Israel is targeting the media “to disrupt coverage of the human suffering in Gaza.” He demanded “detailed and documented justification” for the attack.

The International Press Institute, a global network of journalists and media executives, condemned the attack as a “gross violation of human rights and internationally agreed norms.”

The Israeli military has long had rocky relations with the foreign media, accusing international journalists of being biased against it.

The attack came a day after the Israeli military had fed vague — and in some cases erroneous — information to the media about a possible ground incursion into Gaza. It turned out that there was no ground invasion, and the statement was part of an elaborate ruse aimed at tricking Hamas militants into defensive underground positions that were then destroyed in Israeli airstrikes.

International journalists have accused the army of duping them and turning them into accessories for a military operation. The army said the error was an honest mistake.



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BBC Journalist Martin Bashir Steps Down As Report On Princess Diana Interview Looms

BBC Journalist Martin Bashir Steps Down As Report On Princess Diana Interview Looms
BBC Journalist Martin Bashir Steps Down As Report On Princess Diana Interview Looms


Martin Bashir has left the BBC as the broadcaster prepares to release a report on how the journalist secured a bombshell 1995 television interview with Princess Diana.

He had been on sick leave for several months.

Bashir is accused of tricking the royal into speaking with him on “Panorama,” a British news program, by forging documents in order to manipulate her. During the interview, Diana revealed unhappy details of her marriage to Prince Charles, which had by then broken down past the point of repair but was still a year away from a formal end. She publicly affirmed that Charles had an intimate relationship with his longtime friend Camilla Parker-Bowles ― causing a crisis at the palace. 

“There were three of us in this marriage,” Diana said, “so it was a bit crowded.”

Martin Bashir interviewed Princess Diana in Kensington Palace for the television program "Panorama" in 1995. (Photo by ©



Martin Bashir interviewed Princess Diana in Kensington Palace for the television program “Panorama” in 1995. (Photo by © Pool Photograph/Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

The BBC’s deputy director of news, Jonathan Munro, said Friday in a memo to staff that Bashir “let us know of his decision last month, just before being readmitted to hospital for another surgical procedure on his heart,” according to The New York Times, which obtained a copy.

Munro went on to say that Bashir had “major surgery” in late 2020 and was still “facing some ongoing issues,” prompting his decision “to focus on his health.”

The BBC announced in November that it was launching an investigation into how Bashir secured the interview after Charles Spencer, Diana’s brother, alleged the journalist had used deceptive tactics. Tim Davie, the BBC’s director general, said at the time that the broadcaster was taking the accusations “very seriously.”

Prince William, Diana’s son, welcomed the investigation and said it “should help establish the truth.”

A 1996 probe into how Bashir convinced Diana to sit down with him supposedly cleared the journalist.

However, Spencer maintains that Bashir made a series of bogus claims that led him to introduce the journalist to his sister. According to Spencer, Bashir said Diana was being bugged by security services and that two senior aides were being paid to provide information about her ― even producing bank statements as purported evidence. Matt Weissler, a graphic designer, came forward last year to say he had mocked up the documents on Bashir’s request, believing they would be used as film props. 

Lord John Dyson, a retired British judge, was appointed to conduct the new probe. A spokesman for the BBC told HuffPost it “will be published soon.” 

The BBC apologized for the falsified bank statements last fall, but said it had reason to believe the documents had no impact on Diana’s decision to sit down for the interview because she had not seen them herself.

Bashir joined the BBC in 1987, and eventually made the jump to U.S. media. He was forced to resign from his post as an anchor for MSNBC after calling Sarah Palin a “world-class idiot” in 2013. In 2016, he became the BBC’s religion editor. Bashir contracted COVID-19 last year and became “seriously unwell” with complications of the virus.  



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Black bear released into the wild after recovering from Colorado wildfire injuries

Black bear released into the wild after recovering from Colorado wildfire injuries
Black bear released into the wild after recovering from Colorado wildfire injuries


An orphaned black bear which was injured during a Colorado wildfire has been released back into the wild after officials worked for five months to nurse the animal back to health.

The young bear was injured during the 2020 Cameron Peak Fire, which became the largest recorded wildfire in Colorado’s history after 62 days of burning.

Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) officials worked to treat and rehabilitate the animal for several months after the cub was found.

The bear was released back into the wild on 5 May in the mountains of Larimer County, outside of Fort Collins, CPW said in a press release.

“This bear’s drive to survive did most of the work and we just gave it a little boost,” said Kristin Cannon, Deputy Regional Manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Northeast region.

“This bear went through an awful lot in its first year of life, let’s hope humans can now help keep it wild by not rewarding it with our food sources and lowering its chances of survival.”

Video footage showed the bear running off into the trees after it was released. A wildlife official banged on the metal container the bear was transported in to encourage the animal to take off.

The male cub came into the CPW’s custody after ranch owners reported the animal sleeping on their porch on 7 December, five days after firefighters finally 100 per cent contained the wildfire.

However when wildlife officials arrived, the cub was gone. They finally captured the animal on 11 December after the ranch owners reported the cub again sleeping on their porch.

The cub’s injuries included burns on its paws, sustained during the Cameron Peak Fire. His ears were also infected with frostbite, he was covered in cockleburs and severely dehydrated.

It was not clear how long the cub had been orphaned but his paw injuries appeared around a month old when he was discovered.

“This is an incredibly fortunate bear,” said CPW Area Wildlife Manager Jason Duetsch. “Most wild animals don’t survive the myriad of injuries they are exposed to, let alone be found, captured and treated successfully. He definitely would not have made it through much longer. It is the smallest bear cub I have ever seen at that time of the year, which helped us make the decision to try rehabilitation.”

Veterinarians were able to treat the young cub, who is now one, and nourish him back to health.

“Since the foot injuries on this cub appeared to be healing well, and his other wounds were very treatable, we felt that with supportive care and nourishment his prognosis for recovery was very good,” veterinarian Dr Pauline Nol said.

At the time of capture, the bear weighed just 16.3lbs but has since bulked up to 93lbs by the time he was released.



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‘I lost my entire family, in an instant’: Miracle baby is sole survivor of Israeli airstrike that kills 10

‘I lost my entire family, in an instant’: Miracle baby is sole survivor of Israeli airstrike that kills 10
‘I lost my entire family, in an instant’: Miracle baby is sole survivor of Israeli airstrike that kills 10


T

he baby was found clutching his dead mother’s chest when the first responders in Gaza dug him out from underneath the rubble of a three-storey building.

In a split second 11 members of the Palestinian family, who had gathered for Eid, were buried by the giant claw of an Israeli airstrike.

The remains of the building in Gaza’s Shati refugee camp were strewn with children’s toys, a Monopoly board game and plates of uneaten food from the holiday gathering.

In total 10 were dead: eight children and their two mothers, who were sisters-in-law.

But by some miracle there was a cry: five-month-old Omar, the youngest, was alive.

“What had they done to the Israelis to be targeted while wearing their special Eid clothes as they sat in their uncle’s house?” the distraught father Mohamed al-Hadidi, asked The Independent, from Shifa hospital where his son was being treated.

“They are only children, they haven’t fired rockets, ” he added, breaking down.

“Except Omar, I lost my entire family, in an instant.”

Palestinians take part in the funeral of the al-Hadidi family

(AFP via Getty Images)

At least 139 Palestinians – including 39 children and 22 women – have been killed, mostly by Israeli airstrikes, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

In Israel, medics have reported 10 dead, including two children, and said six people were in a critical condition from Gaza’s volleys of rockets. The latest victim was a 50-year-old Israeli who was killed by rocket fire on Saturday afternoon in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv.

For five nights across the blockaded strip families have cowered under what Israeli air force officials have told The Independent is one of the most “intense barrages of airstrikes” they have ever unleashed on the territory. It is in response to an almost unprecedented level of rocket fire from militants in Gaza.

The army has repeatedly said it does everything in its power to avoid civilian casualties, including deploying early warning systems for major targets like multi-storey buildings.

But Mr Hadidi, who had not been with his wife and children,  said his family knew nothing of the air raid which blew up their lives.

Under heavy bombardment, his wife Maha, 36, had taken her four children to her brother’s home to celebrate the  Muslim holiday which marks the end of Ramadan.

After dinner with her sister-in-law, Yasmine Hassan, she decided to sleep there overnight,  a decision that would ultimately prove fatal.

Omar Al-Hadidi lies on a hospital bed

(REUTERS)

“The Israelis didn’t give any warning, they didn’t call them. They didn’t even fire drone [knock on the roof] rockets so they knew to escape,” the father said.

“My house is just 400m away, I was running in the street shouting, the building was totally destroyed.”

The latest cycle of cross-border fire erupted on Monday when Hamas, which runs Gaza, fired a volley of rockets at Jerusalem for the first time in seven years.

The militant group said it was in response to weeks of violence in the flashpoint city of Jerusalem that saw Israeli forces repeatedly storming the al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, with stun grenades and teargas.

Israeli police defended the inflammatory action saying Palestinian rioters on the al-Aqsa compound were throwing stones, bottles and fireworks.

Since then, the Israeli military says Hamas and other militants in Gaza have fired over 2,300 rockets at Israel, in what a senior Israeli air force general told The Independent has been among the most “intense” barrages of all conflicts with Gaza.

Israeli warplanes have struck more than 650 targets, in an equally strong campaign.

Overnight on Friday Israel unleashed a 40-minute ferocious ground and air bombardment on Gaza, which the army said was targeting an underground network of attack tunnels they call the “metro”.

Military officials said that night they dropped 500 tonnes of munitions on the strip, which is home to nearly 2 million people.

“I have never seen anything like this in my life. It was worse than the 2014 war,”  said, Hassan Mohammed Attar, 50,  whose daughter, son-in-law, grandchildren and half a dozen neighbours were wiped out during that night’s bombardment along the northern border area.

“Everything has been destroyed, I have never seen such fire before spread through the houses. We were all suffocating,  vomiting, I don’t know what that was,” he added.

The air raids were so intense on Friday and Saturday that thousands of Palestinians living near the border with Israel packed up their belongings and fled south, fearing a protected war and possible ground invasion.

A plume of heavy black smoke rises above buildings in Gaza City from a fire caused by Israeli air strikes

(AFP via Getty Images)

“The air raids have been unimaginable, Friday was a night of fear, terror and destruction,” said Fareed Abu Haloup, 62, who spoke to The Independent as he was fleeing Beit Lahia in the north to the centre.

“We only just made it out of our house alive.  Even the ambulances can’t get to us. We can’t wait to see our children die in front of our eyes. “

Back at Shifa hospital, in Gaza City, Mr Hadidi sat playing with Omar, the only remaining member of his direct family.

“We ask where is the international law? Where is the international community to step in and stop this?” he asked.

“Where are our rights? We ask you to show the world what happened to us.”



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Donald Trump ‘will hold first rallies this summer’ – six months after DC event which sparked Capitol riots

Donald Trump ‘will hold first rallies this summer’ – six months after DC event which sparked Capitol riots
Donald Trump ‘will hold first rallies this summer’ – six months after DC event which sparked Capitol riots


Donald Trump is reportedly planning to hold his first political rallies since the event for supporters in Washington DC on 6 January which sparked the Capitol riots.

The former president is expected to appear at two events in June, and a third in July, although exact locations and dates are not yet known, insiders told The New York Post

The New York Post reported that “the president’s team is in the process of selecting venues for a pair of events in June. A third rally is expected to take place around the July 4 holiday”.

The Independent has sought comment from Trump representatives.

The news has increased speculation as to whether the 74-year-old Republican, who was impeached twice but ultimately acquitted, is gearing up for a 2024 presidential run. Mr Trump has not confirmed he will run again but has hinted at the possibility.

He recently moved his political headquarters to his New Jersey golf club from Mar-a-Lago, which closes during the summer due to Florida’s high temperatures.

The announcement of potential rallies comes after Republicans voted you oust Representative Liz Cheney from her role as chair of the party’s House Conference for publicly stating her belief that Mr Trump lost the election.

Since leaving office Mr Trump, who was banned from Facebook and Twitter, has repeatedly lied that the election was “stolen” from him in interviews and on his new blog.

Mr Trump’s theatrical rallies became a mainstay of his political campaigns and presidency, drawing thousands of fervent supporters.

He has not held one since January 6, 2021 when he spoke at the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington DC. Following that rally hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol building in a violent attack which left five people dead including one Capitol police officer.

So far, more than 470 people have been charged with crimes including enterting a restricted building, disorderly conduct and assaulting law personnel.

The outgoing president subsequently faced an impeachment trial for the second time during his four years in the White House. He was impeached by the House of Representatives but acquitted in the Senate.

On 4 May, Mr Trump toldThe Daily Wire: “I look forward to doing an announcement at the right time. As you know, it’s very early. But I think people are going to be very, very happy when I make a certain announcement. You know, for campaign finance reasons, you really can’t do it too early because it becomes a whole different thing.”

He added: “Otherwise, I’d give you an answer that I think you’d be very happy with. So, we are looking at that very, very seriously, and all I’d say is stay tuned.”



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