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Man who took court action over quarantine released on appeal

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The High Court has struck out proceedings taken by an Irish man who sought to be exempt from mandatory hotel quarantine, as the man was released on Saturday morning following a review by an appeals officer.

Colm Bates sought a High Court inquiry, under article 40 of the Constitution, in a bid to avoid having to undergo mandatory hotel quarantine as his 91-year-old father was “critically ill” in hospital in Co Tipperary and was “not expected to recover”.

Mr Bates is an Irish citizen who has lived in New York since 1996. His mother died last year and he was unable to travel due to the pandemic. Not being present for his mother’s funeral was something he “deeply, profoundly regrets” and “heightened his wish to be present for his father’s last hours and funeral,” his counsel said.

Mr Bates provided a negative test result and had received his first dose of the vaccine on April 27th.

Micheál P O Higgins SC was seeking an inquiry into the legality and constitutionality of his client’s detention and said the quarantine regime under the Health Act should permit an exception on urgent humanitarian grounds.

There is currently no exemption from hotel quarantine under humanitarian grounds when entering the State from a country on the quarantine list. However, urgent humanitarian grounds can be relied upon when seeking a review of a case.

Upon arrival into the country on Saturday morning, Mr Bates was sent to Croke Park Hotel to quarantine and was given an appeals officer to review his situation. Requests for review are guaranteed by law to be provided within a 24-hour period.

A letter from the Chief State Solicitor’s office said the Minister for Health assured an application by Mr Bates would be processed “as quickly as possible”, the court heard. The letter said it was the Department of Health’s experience that appeals have been “turned around in short time frames, with many averaging three hours”.

Mr Justice Brian O’Moore adjourned the hearing until the afternoon to see whether Mr Bates’ application for review would be processed by then.

Mr Bates was then released from hotel quarantine around noon on humanitarian grounds following the appeals process, the court heard.

Counsel for Mr Bates said the change in circumstances rendered it unnecessary to go forward with the proceedings and the matter was struck out.

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G7 countries accused of prioritising military spending over climate action

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G7 countries “are stuck in the 1970s and 1980s” and avoiding profound societal changes needed to address the climate crisis, while embracing “the ruse of net-zero” carbon emissions, according to leading climate scientist Prof Kevin Anderson.

Speaking at a briefing on climate issues at the summit of the Group of Seven leaders, comprising Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the United States, in Cornwall, Prof Anderson said: “Net zero is the latest ruse that we’re using to avoid making profound social changes and to avoid the rapid and just phasing out of our existing oil, gas and coal industries.”

The former director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in the UK said this was also avoiding the adoption of challenging policies and the huge transformation of infrastructure required.

Net zero was “a way of passing the buck to future generations”, he said at the event hosted by the COP26 Coalition – the campaign group seeking greater climate justice commitments at the United Nations climate conference in November.

“We need leaders now who are prepared to grasp the enormity of the climate challenge but also the wider ecological crisis – rather than the eloquent, simple greenwashing of ‘business as usual’. And that’s what we’re seeing currently.

“Despite ramping up of good news stories in advance of COP26, the reality is that the gap between the necessary action and actual cuts in emissions for both 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees is just getting bigger. Playing into this ongoing failure is the ubiquitous language of ‘net zero’, under which almost any organisation, region or country can claim to be aligned with the Paris commitments,” Prof Anderson said.

“But dig a little deeper and claims of net zero are often little more than a ruse whereby immediate cuts in actual emissions are substituted for future speculative ‘negative emissions’, offsetting and other forms of mitigation denial,” he said.

Military spending

Niamh Ní Bhriain of the Transnational Institute’s war and pacification programme said prioritisation of military spending, costing almost $2 trillion (€1.7 trillion) a year, was an issue that “must be brought into the room in discussing climate justice and global poverty”.

A total of 57 per cent of that spend on military, security, intelligence and borders came from G7 countries, she added. “This is a political choice. This is a question of political will; that we’re spending this much on the military.”

Unprecedented spending on borders by rich countries of the global north to prevent migrants coming to their shores was part of a militarised response to migration, which she predicted would become even more prevalent when parts of the world became uninhabitable as the climate crisis deepened.

COP26 Coalition spokesman Asad Rehman of War on Want said G7 countries, who bear the greatest responsibility for fuelling crises that threaten the lives and livelihoods of billions, could no longer make empty statements or hollow promises to act. “Leaders must listen to the millions of people in every corner of the world who are demanding a justice transition.”

As a first step the G7 must commit to doing their fair share of emissions reductions by 2030 to limit warming to well below 1.5 degrees, he said, and commit “to unlocking the trillions needed to build a sustainable economy of the future – one that guarantees universal public services, living wages and puts people before profit.”

Rising sea levels

Meanwhile, Extinction Rebellion Ireland have been staging theatrical displays along the coast of Ireland calling on G7 leaders to take adequate action against sea level rise.

The UN estimates there could be anywhere between 25 million and 1 billion environmental migrants by 2050, with many of those on the move because of the effects of sea level rise, an Extinction Rebellion Ireland spokeswoman said. “These estimates envisage flooding of Irish coasts; meanwhile, other island nations around the world are already suffering,” she said.

Off the Down coast Extinction Rebellion Northern Ireland members dress as red rebels and serve tea at a table half submerged in the sea to highlight rising sea levels
Off the Down coast Extinction Rebellion Northern Ireland members dress as red rebels and serve tea at a table half submerged in the sea to highlight rising sea levels

“Since signing the Paris Agreement in 2015 these nations have utterly failed to meet their commitments to reduce emissions and mitigate the worst effects of climate change. Greenwashing and empty promises won’t stop the sea levels from rising; our crops from failing or the entire ecosystem on which our lives rely on from collapsing. 2021 is a critical year and the decisions made by the G7 are make or break,” she added.

In Dublin, activists formed the Extinction Rebellion and G7 logos on the beach of Sandymount Strand, capturing the large-scale visual by drone camera.

In Cork, protestors used a tape measure to mark the rising sea levels and highlight the risk of flooding that coastal communities face. Off the Down coast Extinction Rebellion Northern Ireland members dressed as red rebels served tea at a table half submerged in the sea.

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Spanish movies: Pedro Almodóvar shares preview of new short starring Tilda Swinton | Culture

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Pedro Almodóvar has offered a preview of his new short drama The Human Voice, filmed in English and starring Tilda Swinton.

The Spanish filmmaker’s brother and producer Agustín Almodóvar shared a 57-second video on Twitter in which the British actress is seen walking silently across a grey background in a bright red dress.

The latest project by the award-winning director will officially premiere at the Venice Film Festival, which is scheduled to take place between September 2 and 12 amid heightened coronavirus safety measures.

Festival organizers said they are also planning to award a Life Achievement Golden Lion to Swinton, as well as to Hong Kong director Ann Hui.

A few days ago, Almodóvar stated that he felt like returning to Venice on such a “particular” year. “It is an honor to accompany Tilda on a year when she will receive a special award,” said the Spanish director, who accepted the same prize last year.

The Human Voice is a festival celebrating Tilda, a display of her infinite range as an actress,” he said. “Directing her has been spectacular.”

The shared video clip has no dialogue. Instead, viewers hear music written by the score composer Alberto Iglesias, a longtime collaborator of Almodóvar’s.

The Human Voice is an adaptation of Jean Cocteau’s 1930 play La voix humaine, which also served as inspiration for earlier work by Almodóvar, including his 1987 Law of Desire and 1988 Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

English version by Susana Urra.

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Opera Megastar Hvorostovsky – Great Exclusive Video

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This remarkable talent from the depths of Siberia wowed the world for decades. He was one of the truly huge international megastars, and his fans around the world are devastated.

This is a Russian TV News obituary on Hvorostovsky, showing interviews of him in his youth, him singing at various stages during his career, reactions of friends, scenes from his family life, and in his last days when he was clearly ill.

A touching and moving report on a national hero.

Captions exclusively on Russia Insider.

Full transcript follows below.

Transcript: 

Anchor:

Words of deep sorrow are flooding in from all over the world today over the death of a Russian opera singer. Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences to Dmitri Hvorostovsky’s family.

Putin, like millions of other people in the world, was a fan of his talent. A memorial service will be held in Moscow, on Nov. 27 in the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall.

Hvorostovsky:

Turn around, a stranger passing by… Yes, I’m like that. And the most important thing is to believe in yourself, believe in love. To believe in happiness!

Correspondent: 

Krasnoyarsk, June. One of Hvorostovsky’s last interviews, where he thanks his landsmen for not returning their tickets and waiting for him. This is my home. I was born and grew up here. I went to school here. And regularly, from the very start of my career I’ve reported to you, to Krasnoyarsk.

Here he found his endless love for music. His father was an engineer, his mother a doctor, but opera was always the favorite at home, especially Verdi. Here, at the Krasnoyarsk Opera and Ballet Theater, he received his first ovation, international acclaim came later. Since 1989, this amazing, vivid baritone began sounding from all opera stages. A masterpiece requiring matchless strength. A triumph on stage, and such an ethereal, signature humbleness with people.

Interviewer:

You never marvel at your talent?

Hvorostovsky:

What? You mean?.. No, never!

Interviewer:

No?

Hvorostovsky:

What talent? First of all, when I… When I hear my recordings, or when I watch them, I see the mistakes very well.

Correspondent:

1993, a rehearsal in Moscow. He’s already well-known across the globe.

Hvorostovsky:

For me, it’s that much more pleasant, interesting, and honorable to have my new programs, usually, Russian programs, to be seen by my compatriot audience.

Hvorostovsky singing:

Dark in the night. Just the bullet’s whistling all over the steppe…

Correspondent:

Hvorostovsky sang Soviet war songs on all continents, as brilliantly as the operas of Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Verdi, Mozart, and Bizet. And in his intensely busy schedule, there’s always the underlined “Red Square Concert, open-air.”

Hvorostovsky singing:

So difficult to say, and not to say…

Correspondent:

The tenderness of a Russian opera toreador: tall, long-haired, athletic, nobly grey-haired, lives in London.

Truth be told, he’s married. Her name is Florence, and two children: Maxim and Nina. These are home videos from the recent years. A Siberian, Dmitri Hvorostovsky.

Igor Krutoy, People’s Artist of Russia:

“We were recording, and he says he’s getting sleepy. And then he says, “Come on,” then put me on his shoulders and did 20 sit-ups. With all my weight, the way I am. He was this physically fit.”

Constantine Orbelyan, pianist, friend:

“He never complained, and never wanted to talk about his sickness. He didn’t want to be pitied by anyone. He couldn’t stand it. He only wanted to look to the future.” When he learned about his diagnosis, Hvorostovsky stays on stage. He gives charity concerts for sick kids, he tours with his opera star friends. He even titles the performances, “Hvorostovsky and Friends.”

Vladimir Fedoseyev, People’s Artist of USSR:

“He opened his soul. A Siberian, a Russian, a singer that dreamt to sing always, for a long time to come.”

Correspondent:

At the Vienna Opera House, the flags are half-mast today. And from Canada, the singer Lara Fabian once again declares her love to Dmitri: “I love you, be safe, wherever you are now.” Thank you for your music, your soul, for everything you gave to this Universe.”

In his last interview,

Hvorostovsky said:

“I’m no longer a young talent, but an authority in the Opera world. I must be helpful.”

And he always helped musicians and singers, those very talents, in hopes that they will believe in happiness, love, and themselves.

Hvorostovsky singing:

Oh, how we believed in ourselves…

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