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Drone Footage Shows Huge Tents at Obama’s Birthday Party After Promises to ‘Scale Back’ Event

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Reports about celebrities arriving at the event in numbers also raised questions about an earlier promise by Obama’s spokesperson that it will be attended only by relatives and close friends due to the raging Delta strain of COVID-19.

The recently-released footage allegedly shot from the drone flying over ex-US President Barack Obama’s residence cast a shadow over a previous statement by his spokesperson that the former POTUS’ 60th birthday party will be “scaled back”. The video showed massive tents installed on the territory of the Martha’s Vineyard estate belonging to the former president, alongside a dance floor and several long tables.

The statement was made earlier this week amid massive public backlash over Obama’s plans to throw a big party as the delta variant of COVID-19 rages in the country and the ex-president’s allies in the Democratic Party are defending the reinstatement of the mask mandate.

“Due to the new spread of the delta variant over the past week, the President and Mrs. Obama have decided to significantly scale back the event to include only family and close friends. President Obama is appreciative of others sending their birthday wishes from afar and looks forward to seeing people soon,” Obama’s spokesperson said.

The Daily Mail, which originally posted the footage, said several celebrities and politicians were spotted arriving at the birthday party, including rapper Jay-Z, singers Eddie Vedder, John Legend, TV celebrity Chrissy Teigen, former basketball player Dwyane Wade, comedian Stephen Colbert, and Obama’s former Secretary of State John Kerry. This also cast a shadow on the claim that only family and close friends will be attending the event and sparked criticism and accusations of hypocrisy against the former POTUS.

“This is the tent for Obama’s ‘scaled back’ birthday party where only close friends & family were said to attend. Instead, multiple celebrities & politicians were seen. Why is it that the same people telling you to stay home & social distance don’t think those rules apply to them?” conservative commentator Charlie Kirk said via Twitter.

There is no way to tell at the moment how many guests exactly made it to the party and when the tents were installed. Considering the fact that the promise to “scale back the event” came only this week, it is possible that the tents remained from the time, when they were expected to accommodate 500 guests initially invited to the party. The office of the former president and the first lady did not comment on the report and did not respond to the requests regarding the size of the event.



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[Ticker] US to lift Covid travel-ban on EU tourists

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Fully vaccinated travellers from the EU and the UK will be let back into the US from “early November” onward, the White House said on Monday, ending an 18-month ban and prompting airline firms’ shares to climb. “This new international travel system follows the science to keep Americans … safe,” a US spokesman said. The EU recently recommended increased restrictions on US visitors, amid anger at lack of US reciprocity.

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Ten women and girls killed every day in Mexico, Amnesty report says | Global development

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At least 10 women and girls are murdered every day in Mexico, according to a new report that says victims’ families are often left to carry out their own homicide investigations.

The scathing report, released on Monday by Amnesty International, documents both the scale of the violence and the disturbing lack of interest on the part of Mexican authorities to prevent or solve the murders.

“Mexico is continuing to fail to fulfil its duty to investigate and, therefore, its duty to guarantee the rights to life and personal integrity of the victims as well as to prevent violence against women,” says the report, Justice on Trial.

“Feminicidal violence and the failings in investigation and prevention in northern Mexico are not anecdotal, but rather form part of a broader reality in the country,” the report adds.

Femicide has been rife in Mexico for decades – most notoriously in an epidemic of murders which claimed the life of some 400 women in the border city Ciudad Juárez during the 1990s. In recent years, a growing feminist movement has held massive street protests against the violence, but authorities have proved unwilling to take action to stop the killing.

“It’s always a question of political will,” said Maricruz Ocampo, a women’s activist in the state of Querétaro.

Ocampo has been part of teams lobbying state governors to issue an alert when femicides reach scandalously high levels – a move to raise awareness and mobilise resources. But officials often resist such moves, she said, as governors worry about their states’ images and investment.

“They refuse to recognise there is a problem,” she said.

The president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has also downplayed the problem. He branded the women protesting on 8 March, International Women’s Day, as “conservatives” and alleged a dark hand manipulating the demonstrations.

When asked last year about rising violence against women, he responded, “Tell all the women of Mexico that they are protected and represented, that we’re doing everything possible to guarantee peace and quiet and that I understand that our adversaries are looking for ways to confront us.”

Mexico recorded the murders of 3,723 women in 2020. Some 940 of those murders were investigated as femicides.

The Amnesty report focused on Mexico state, a vast collection of gritty suburbs surrounding Mexico City on three sides. It has become notorious for femicides over the past decade – and for the way the former president, Enrique Peña Nieto, a former Mexico state governor, ignored the problem.

The report found cases of families carrying out their own detective work, which were ignored by investigators. In many cases, authorities contaminated crime scenes or mishandled evidence. They often did not even pursue leads such as geolocation information from victims’ mobile phones.

In the case of Julia Sosa, whose children believe she was killed by her partner, two daughters found her body buried on the suspect’s property – but had to wait hours for police to arrive and process the crime scene. One of her daughters recalled the subsequent interview process, in which “the police officer was falling asleep”.

Sosa’s partner hanged himself, prompting police to close the case, even though family members said there were more leads to pursue.

In states rife with drug cartel violence, activists say cases of femicides go uninvestigated as impunity is commonplace.

“The authorities say it’s organised crime and that’s it,” said Yolotzin Jaimes, a women’s rights campaigner in the southern state of Guerrero. “Many of these aggressors find protection under the excuse of organised crime.”

The persistence of femicides is a stark contrast to recent gains by the women’s movement in Mexico. The country’s supreme court decriminalised abortion earlier this month. A new congress recently sworn in has gender parity and seven female governors will be installed by the end of year – up from just two before last June’s election’s

The decriminalisation of abortion “let off some steam” from the pressure driving the protests “because part of the demands was over the right to choose,” Ocampo said. “But when it comes to violence, we still see it everywhere.”

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US official urges EU to speed up enlargement

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Gabriel Escobar, the US’ newly-appointed acting deputy secretary of state for South Central Europe, has urged Europe to speed up Western Balkans enlargement. “To return 20 years later and see that there hasn’t been much progress on that front was a little disappointing,” he told the RFE/RL news agency Friday, referring to his last post in Europe in 2001. “We would like to see a more rapid integration,” he said.

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