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‘I could have been a Mo Farah’: trafficked boxer denied his shot at Olympic glory by Home Office | Human rights

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A prodigious talent with the drive and ambition to make it all the way to the top, when Kelvin Bilal Fawaz got the chance to represent Team GB as a boxer at the 2012 Olympics in London it was a dream come true.

Trafficked as a child from Nigeria to the UK and forced into domestic servitude, Fawaz had the opportunity for Olympic glory in the place he now called home.

Yet he was never given the chance to take his place on the global stage.

Instead, the Home Office refused to give him the work visa he needed for the prospect of a professional boxing career and he had to turn down the invitation from Team GB to take part in both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

Last week, Fawaz, along with millions of other fans across the country, watched as Sir Mo Farah, who achieved global stardom by winning two golds at the 2012 Olympics, before adding another pair in Rio in 2016, revealed that he too was trafficked into domestic servitude from Somalia as a child.

Farah also revealed his real name was Hussein Abdi Kahin and that he has been living under a false identity ever since. But while the British government has made it clear that Farah’s citizenship is not under threat, Fawaz said his own case showed the reality for most trafficking victims.

Mo Farah revealed in a TV interview last week that he had been trafficked into domestic servitude from Somalia as a child
Mo Farah revealed in a TV interview last week that he had been trafficked into domestic servitude from Somalia as a child. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA

“Watching Mo Farah disclose his trafficking ordeal over the last week has brought up a lot of pain,” said Fawaz. “It is impossible not to compare our lives and wonder what could have been if I’d only been given the chances that were offered to him.”

Throughout his adult life, Fawaz has existed in a state of immigration limbo, denied the opportunity to work, twice detained in immigration detention centres and at risk of forced deportation to Nigeria, a country that has refused to accept his citizenship or issue him with a passport.

“The trauma of being trafficked and exploited does not go away, it lives with you every day,” he said. “Mo Farah is a sporting legend but I have seen my own talent wasted and my opportunity to become an Olympian lost. Even though the Home Office has accepted I was a child trafficking victim, they have relentlessly denied me the chance to build a life and compete in the sport that I love.”

After escaping his exploiters and reporting his traffickers to the authorities, Fawaz spent time in care and saysthat discovering boxing was his salvation. Against the odds, he rose through the non-professional ranks to captain the England amateur boxing team.

Farwaz training at Stonebridge boxing gym in north London in 2018
Farwaz training at Stonebridge boxing gym in north London in 2018. Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian

Over the years, some of the biggest names in the sport have appealed to the Home Office on his behalf, asking that he be allowed to box professionally, including promoter Frank Warren. Former world featherweight champion Barry McGuigan offered him a £230,000 contract in 2014 that he could not sign because the Home Office refused to settle his immigration status.

In 2020, after a 16-year battle with the Home Office,, Fawaz was finally granted a 30-month visa after the government accepted he was a child trafficking victim. He was quickly signed by MTK Global, one of the world’s largest boxing management agencies.

He fought two matches as a professional, which he won, before MTK closed after US government sanctions against its co-founder Daniel Kinahan, a suspected crime boss.

“I am now struggling to get promoters to sign me because they say at 34 I’m too old and my boxing career is over before it started,” Fawaz said.

“I am still fighting the Home Office for my right to remain here beyond my 30-month visa and they will not give me documents to travel abroad, where I’ve been offered the chance to fight professionally.

“They can’t deport me to Nigeria because the government there won’t recognise my citizenship so I don’t understand why they’re doing this. I’m still in poverty, my future is still uncertain and all because of something that happened to me as a child that I had no power over.”

Fawaz says that his experience is similar to many other child trafficking victims in the UK who spend years fighting immigration battles with the Home Office after they have escaped exploitation.

He added: “My experience shows that if Mo Farah had not been a national treasure and achieved what he has achieved, they might have locked him up or deported him. It hurts deep in my soul that I am seeing my life pass me by and this talent I was given just going to waste. My dream was to represent Team GB and this has been taken away from me and I don’t understand why.”

When he was a teenager and still in the care system, Fawaz received convictions for minor offences including cannabis possession, driving without insurance and spraying graffiti. He has never been to prison and has never received a harsher sentence than community service.

However, the Home Office said his “lengthy criminal record… added to the complexities in considering his case”. According to government figures, just 2% of child trafficking victims are given discretionary leave to remain, which they are entitled to under international law. Instead many, like Fawaz, are given temporary visas until their 18th birthday, when they then enter the asylum system and face years of limbo or deportation.

Government figures also show that 35% of adults who were trafficked to the UK as children were refused their first asylum application in 2020.

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Brazilian woman and fake seer con elderly mother out of $142 million | International

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A woman was arrested on August 10 by Rio de Janeiro police who charged her with conning her mother out of millions. In a strange story of greed abetted by fake psychics, Sabine Boghici and her accomplices stole more than $142 million in money, jewelry and artwork from Boghici’s mother over a two-year period.

Geneviève Boghici, the widow of a major art collector and dealer named Jean Boghici, was walking out of a bank in January 2020 near the famous Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) when she was approached by a supposed psychic prophesying her daughter’s imminent death unless she underwent “spiritual therapy.” They walked together to Boghici’s apartment, where the psychic threw some shells in a mystical ritual that confirmed the tragic prophesy. The 82-year-old victim knew that her daughter suffered from psychological problems, and her affinity for the supernatural swayed her to transfer $980,000 to the swindlers.

Soon after the two-year con began, the elderly woman became suspicious and halted the money transfers when her daughter started to isolate her from friends. Sabine would not allow her mother to use the phone and dismissed all the domestic workers, justifying them as Covid-19 precautions. Yet Sabine and her cronies entered freely to loot her mother’s home of its valuables. Several psychics took items from the home, saying they were “cursed” and needed to be “prayed over.” The increasingly suspicious Geneviève tried to resist, but Sabine began threatening her life. According to the police, she wouldn’t allow her mother to eat and put a knife to her throat.

Police recover 'Sol Poente' by Brazilian painter, Tarsila do Amaral.
Police recover ‘Sol Poente’ by Brazilian painter, Tarsila do Amaral.Policia Civil de Rio de Janeiro (EFE)

The victim told the police that her daughter had some sort of relationship with one of the supposed psychics, Rosa Stanesco Nicolau, who practiced her trade in Rio de Janeiro as “Mãe Valéria de Oxossi” (Mother Valeria), and was a known con artist. Starting in September 2020, under constant threat from her daughter and accomplices, the elderly woman made another 38 bank transfers to the thieves.

Sabine and her cohorts stole 16 paintings and sculptures, and sold them all to art galleries or private buyers. Two of these works – Elevador Social (Social Elevator) by Rubens Gerchman, and Maquete para o menú espelho (A model for my mirror) by Antonio Dias – were bought by Eduardo Costantini, owner of the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires (Argentina), for his private collection. The São Paulo (Brazil) gallery owner who brokered the deal said he was not suspicious because he had known the family for a long time and the seller was the daughter of the deceased art collector. Constantini released a statement saying that he bought the paintings in good faith and was in direct contact with Genevieve Boghici.

In 2012, a fire in the Boghici’s Copacabana apartment destroyed part of their valuable collection, including Di Cavalcanti’s Samba and Alberto Guignard’s A Floresta (The Forest). Sol Poniente (Setting Sun), painted by Tarsila do Amaral in 1929, is one of the most valuable works in the Boghici collection ($49 million). It survived the 2012 fire but not the rampant greed of their daughter. The stolen painting was found under a bed by police, who arrested Sabine and three other people, including the fake seer. In a final twist to the whole bizarre story, the scamming psychic was apprehended trying to escape through a window.

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India’s HIV patients say shortages leaving hundreds of thousands without drugs | Global development

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Hundreds of thousands of people living with HIV in India are struggling to access treatment because of a shortage of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, according to campaigners.

Up to 500,000 people have not been able to get hold of free ARVs from government health centres and hospitals over the past five months, they say, as the country experiences stock shortages of key drugs.

ARVs that are available in privately run pharmacies and shops can be prohibitively expensive. Some people have been given alternative drugs, but others have stopped taking any medication.

“Does the government even realise that at least 500,000, or one-third of the patients, are affected by this? Some adults are being given 11 doses of paediatric medicine to compensate,” said Loon Gangte, president of the Delhi Network of Positive People (DNP+), an NGO that works to improve the treatment and facilities for people living with HIV and Aids. “We only demand an uninterrupted monthly supply. This treatment is our right.”

According to Gangte, who has been protesting with about 30 others outside India’s National Aids Control Organisation (Naco) in Delhi for 22 days, at least 12 other states, including Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab, are facing ARV shortages. He said several state governments have asked patients to change their longstanding drug regimes.

“The [Covid-19] pandemic had already broken our backs. Now this shortage is pushing us further into penury,” Gangte said.

Kedar Nath, a 30-year-old street vendor taking part in the protest, said he has not taken his ARVs on several occasions over the past two months. He cannot afford the £50 a month it would cost to buy the drugs on the open market.

“I have been taking these drugs for the last 13 years. They have helped me continue with my life despite the virus in my body. But the recent shortage has turned my life upside down since I can neither find the strength to work, nor have any savings to live off,” he said.

According to government figures, 2.35 million people in India are HIV-positive. About 1.5 million people are on antiretroviral therapy, far lower than the World Health Organization’s “90-90-90 target” – under which 90% of people with HIV are diagnosed, 90% are on ARV treatment, and 90% are no longer infectious.

India says it aims to end the HIV epidemic by 2030. In 2019, an estimated 58,900 Aids-related deaths were reported in the country.

The government has refuted Gangte’s claims of a shortage. The Indian health ministry said it had “reviewed the entire situation and held a series of meetings with the protesters. ARV drugs are being provided for [a] duration of less than one month, but at no point in time has there been any shortage of drugs for any of the PLHIV [patients living with HIV]. There is adequate stock nationally for 95% PLHIV.”

Naco did not wish to comment. However, in a letter seen by the Guardian that was dated 30 May, Naco asked all state Aids prevention and control societies, which oversee HIV testing and treatment in each state, to switch to other regimes “to tide through the crisis situation as an interim arrangement”.

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J&J Stops Global Sales of Scandalous Talc-Based Powder After 130 Years

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Once one of its top products for families, J&J’s talc-based powder has been haunted by claims of causing cancer in recent years even as the company consistently denied what it has called rumors and “misinformation”.

Johnson & Johnson has announced it will be ceasing the sales of its talc-based powder, two years after stopping them in the US and Canada, after keeping it in its product line for 130 years. The company will be replacing the product with a cornstarch-based powder.

“As part of a worldwide portfolio assessment, we have made the commercial decision to transition to an all cornstarch-based baby powder portfolio,” the company’s statement said.

The J&J talc-based powder has been at the epicenter of several lawsuits claiming it caused ovarian cancer due to the presence of a known cancer-causing material – asbestos. However, the company has repeatedly denied these allegations, despite losing $3.5 billion in these lawsuits.

As the firm announced the retirement of the talc-based powder, it once again repeated its long-held position on the controversial product’s safety.

“Our position on the safety of our cosmetic talc remains unchanged. We stand firmly behind the decades of independent scientific analysis by medical experts around the world that confirms talc-based Johnson’s baby powder is safe, does not contain asbestos, and does not cause cancer,” the statement said.

Apart from losing a number of lawsuits, J&J faced tough questions following a 2018 Reuters investigation, which claimed the company knew about the asbestos contamination since at least 1971 but failed to act on it. As the veins of asbestos are often found in talc deposits, the extracted talc used to make the powder can be contaminated with the cancer-causing mineral.

A view of the Supreme Court in Washington, U.S. January 19, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.06.2021

Pay Up: Supreme Court Rejects J&J’s Request to Appeal $2 Bln Verdict in Talc Cancer Case
Despite continuing to maintain its innocence, J&J stopped selling talc-based powder in the US and Canada in 2020, citing the harm done to the sales by the “misinformation” about its safety. However, the company continued to distribute it around the world alongside the cornstarch-based alternative, which will now completely substitute it.



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