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France and Britain trade blame after 27 die in migrant tragedy

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France and Britain trade blame after 27 die in migrant tragedy
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A damaged inflatable dinghy and a sleeping bag abandonned by migrants are seen on the beach near Wimereux, France, November 24, 2021. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

By Ardee Napolitano and Alistair Smout

CALAIS, France/LONDON (Reuters) -France and Britain traded blame on Thursday after 27 people died trying to cross the Channel in an inflatable dinghy, the worst accident of its kind on record in the waterway separating the two countries.

With relations fraught by years of tension over Brexit and immigration, much of the focus was on who should bear responsibility, even if both sides vowed to work together to find joint solutions.

“There is bad immigration management (in Britain),” French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told RTL radio, while calling on other European countries, which migrants cross on their way to French shores and then Britain, to do more to help.

“It’s an international problem,” Darmanin said. We tell our Belgian, German and British friends they should help us fight traffickers who work at an international level.” One smuggler arrested overnight had bought dinghies in Germany, he said.

His British counterpart Priti Patel said she would be having talks with Darmanin, hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the blame on France, saying: “We have had difficulty persuading some of our partners, particularly the French, to do things in a way that we think the situation deserves.”

Meanwhile, rescue volunteers and rights groups said the catastrophic drowning was to be expected as smugglers and migrants take more risks to avoid a growing police presence.

“To accuse only the smugglers is to hide the responsibility of the French and British authorities,” the Auberge de Migrants NGO said.

It and other NGOs pointed to a lack of legal migration routes and heightened security at the Eurotunnel undersea rail link, which has pushed migrants to try to make the perilous sea crossing.

The Channel is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, where currents are strong, the water is cold and dinghies are often overloaded.

“This a tragedy that we dreaded, that was expected, we had sounded the alarm,” said Bernard Barron, head of the Calais region SNSM, a volunteer group which rescues people at sea.

“The smugglers are more and more reckless, criminal, launching at sea poor innocent people who want to reach England at all costs without knowing the sea.”

SECURITY

French Prime Minister Jean Castex was due to hold a crisis meeting on Thursday morning, as authorities announced that a total of five suspected people-smugglers had been arrested in connection with the disaster.

Britain has repeated an offer to have joint British-French patrols off the French coast near Calais, from where Britain can be seen on a clear day and where most migrants take to the water.

Paris has previously resisted such calls and it is unclear if it will change its mind five months before a presidential election in which migration and security are key topics. London has in the past threatened to cut financial support for France’s border policing if it fails to stem the flow.

“We’re prepared to offer support on the ground we’re prepared to offer resources,” Britain’s Immigration Minister Kevin Foster told BBC TV. “We’re prepared to offer, literally, people to go there and help and assist the French authorities.”

“We’re clear: we don’t just see this as an issue that France needs to deal with, but one that we want to work together with France and our wider European partners … to break the business model of these gangs,” Foster said.

Regaining control of Britain’s borders was a totem for Brexit campaigners ahead of the 2016 referendum on EU membership.

Reuters witnessed one group of migrants emerging from the sand dunes near Calais before piling into an inflatable dinghy. They were seen landing hours later in Dungeness, southern England.

Before Wednesday’s disaster, 14 people had drowned this year trying to make it to Britain, a local maritime prefecture official said. In 2020, seven people died and two disappeared, while in 2019 four died.

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Deadly Michigan school shooting baffles police as young suspect stays silent

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Deadly Michigan school shooting baffles police as young suspect stays silent
© Reuters. Emergency personnel respond to the scene of a deadly shooting where at least three were killed and six were wounded at a high school in Oxford, Michigan, about 35 miles (55 km) north of Detroit, U.S., November 30, 2021. REUTERS/Seth Herald

2/2

By Steve Gorman and Brendan O’Brien

(Reuters) -Investigators were reviewing video and reading the writings of a 15-year-old boy on Wednesday as they sought clues to what drove him to go on a deadly shooting spree at his high school north of Detroit, where he killed four fellow students.

The suspect, whose name was withheld by officials because he is a minor, opened fire on Tuesday http://reuters.com/world/us/least-4-hurt-shooting-michigan-high-school-suspect-custody-report-2021-11-30 with a handgun his father had purchased four days earlier, killing three students in Oxford, Michigan, about 40 miles (65 km) from Detroit.

Tate Myre, 16, died in a patrol car en route to a hospital. Hanna St. Julian, 14 and Madisyn Baldwin, 17, also died on Tuesday. A fourth student, 17-year-old Justin Shilling, died on Wednesday, the Detroit News reported.

A teacher and six other students were wounded, some critically, authorities said.

By Wednesday morning, more than 50,000 people had signed an online petition to rename the school’s stadium after Myre, who was a member of Oxford High’s football team, saying he tried to disarm the shooter.

“Tate is not just a hero to his fellow students at Oxford high school but a legend, his act of bravery should be remembered forever and passed down through generations,” the petition on Change.org said.

The shooting spree was the deadliest on U.S. school property this year, according to Education Week. It was the latest in a decades-long string of deadly American school shootings that will likely fuel debates about gun control and mental health care.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said in an interview on CNN on Wednesday that it was clear that the shooter intended to kill people.

“He was shooting people at close range, oftentimes towards the head and chest. … It’s just absolutely coldhearted murders,” he said, adding that the shooter fired at least 30 shots.

Bouchard said investigators were poring over writings of the shooter they obtained in the middle of the night that contain “some of his thoughts.” They were also watching surveillance videos of the incident.

“We can’t get the motive from the suspect that we have in custody, but we think we’ve got a path to get a lot of supportive information as to how and why this occurred,” he said.

The suspect was armed with a 9mm semi-automatic handgun his father had purchased on Nov. 26, along with three 15-round magazines. Seven live rounds remained in the gun when the youth was arrested, the sheriff said late on Tuesday.

The suspect was disarmed and taken into custody by sheriff’s deputies minutes after the shooting began. He declined to speak with investigators after his parents retained a lawyer and denied authorities permission to interview their son, Bouchard said.

“The person who’s got the most insight on motive is not talking,” the sheriff said.

Bouchard said he was unaware of any previous run-ins with law enforcement by the suspect, a high school sophomore, adding that investigators had so far seen nothing to suggest a history of disciplinary problems or threats.

He said forensic technicians were collecting evidence from the crime scene, while detectives began collecting video footage from security cameras mounted around the school and interviewing witnesses and those acquainted with the suspect.

The sheriff said a search warrant was executed at the suspect’s home in Oxford and his cellphone was seized.

SWIFT ACTION SAVED LIVES

Bouchard credited swift action by his deputies for preventing greater loss of life, saying they arrived on the scene within minutes and moved straight toward the sound of gunshots.

Officers confronted the young assailant advancing down a hallway toward them with a loaded weapon, and he put his hands over his head and surrendered, Bouchard said.

The precise sequence of events during the violence remained unclear, but police believe the student carried the weapon into school in a backpack, the sheriff said.

“The only information I have is that he came out of a bathroom with a weapon, and I don’t know where he went first,” Bouchard said.

Prosecutors will decide what charges to bring and whether the suspect should be treated as an adult or juvenile, the sheriff said.

The boy, who was unharmed, was being detained in a special cell under suicide watch at a juvenile detention center, Oakland County Executive David Coulter said.

The boy apparently “had been shooting” the gun before Tuesday’s attack and had posted pictures of the weapon and a target he was using, according to the sheriff.

(By Steve Gorman in Los Angeles and Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Jonathan Oatis)

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Moderna could be sued over vaccines as court upholds patents

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Moderna could be sued over vaccines as court upholds patents
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A vial and a syringe are seen in front of a displayed Moderna logo, in this illustration taken, November 27, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

By Brendan Pierson

(Reuters) -Moderna Inc could face a patent infringement lawsuit over its COVID-19 vaccine after a federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected its challenge to patents belonging to Arbutus Biopharma (NASDAQ:) Corp.

The Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals let stand an administrative panel’s findings that Arbutus’ patents, which may cover technology used in the vaccines, are not obvious in light of previously known science and so are valid.

Arbutus shares were up $1.63, or 51% higher, at $4.83. Moderna (NASDAQ:) shares fell almost 9% to $321.15.

Moderna and Arbutus did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Moderna previously said in court filings that it believes Arbutus could bring a lawsuit demanding royalties from its COVID-19 vaccine if the patents are upheld.

The company last month forecast 2021 sales of between $15 billion and $18 billion, and 2022 sales of between $17 billion and $22 billion, for its COVID-19 vaccine.

Both patents in question involve the so-called lipid nanoparticles that enclose the genetic material, known as messenger RNA (mRNA), in the vaccine. The technology could prove useful in developing future mRNA-based vaccines against other illnesses as well.

Moderna initially challenged the patents before the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board, part of the federal patent office. The board agreed with Moderna that some portions of one of the patents were invalid but otherwise sided with Arbutus, and the Federal Circuit upheld its findings.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

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Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyer questions accuser’s account of abuse at trial

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Ghislaine Maxwell's lawyer questions accuser's account of abuse at trial
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Witness “Jane” testifies during Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial on charges of sex trafficking, in a courtroom sketch in New York City, U.S., November 30, 2021. REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg

By Luc Cohen

NEW YORK (Reuters) -A lawyer for Ghislaine Maxwell on Wednesday raised questions about the account of a woman who said the British socialite set her up for sexual abuse by Jeffrey Epstein starting when she was 14 in the 1990s and took part in some encounters.

The woman, known by the pseudonym Jane, first took the stand for the government on Tuesday at Maxwell’s sex-abuse trial in Manhattan federal court. She is the first of four women expected to testify that Maxwell “groomed” them for abuse by Epstein when they were teenagers.

Jane said on Tuesday that she had sexual encounters with Epstein at his Palm Beach home multiple times per month when she was 14, 15 and 16. Other people occasionally participated, including Maxwell, who touched her breasts, Jane testified.

During cross-examination on Wednesday, Maxwell attorney Laura Menninger asked Jane about apparent discrepancies between her descriptions of Maxwell’s role on Tuesday and earlier conversations with prosecutors before Maxwell’s July 2020 arrest.

“When you spoke with the government in December 2019, with your lawyers there, you told the government at that time you were not sure whether Maxwell ever touched you during these encounters, correct?” Menninger asked.

“I don’t recall,” Jane replied.

Maxwell, 59, is charged with eight counts of sex trafficking and other crimes, including two perjury charges that will be tried separately. The daughter of late British media magnate Robert Maxwell faces up to 80 years in prison if convicted.

Maxwell has pleaded not guilty and her lawyers have said prosecutors are scapegoating her for Epstein’s alleged crimes. The investment advisor died by suicide at age 66 in 2019 in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial on sex-abuse charges.

Her lawyers have said the four alleged victims’ memories have been manipulated over time. They say the accusers never mentioned Maxwell’s role in their abuse until after Epstein died and a compensation fund was set up for his victims, giving the women a financial incentive to cooperate with prosecutors.

Jane, now in her early 40s, said she now recalled certain events that she did not recall in the past.

She testified on Tuesday that Maxwell sometimes called her house while she was a teenager to invite her to visit Epstein. Menninger noted that in a 2019 interview with the government, Jane said she could not remember whether Maxwell ever called her, referring to a sealed transcript of the conversation.

“So two years later, now you remember that Ghislaine would call your home?” Menninger asked on Wednesday.

“Memory is not linear,” Jane replied.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

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