#COVID-19: Comparing provinces with other countries 20 October Update, UK rising infection rates

The latest charts, compiled 20 October. Canadians fully vaccinated 73.7 percent, higher than USA 57.6 percent and the UK 67.1 percent). But all countries have essentially plateaued, making it highly unlikely that they will reach targets 80 percent or higher.

Vaccinations: Atlantic Canada ahead of China, Canadian North ahead of Ontario, Alberta ahead of UK, California ahead of Germany.  China fully vaccinated 75 percent (unchanged), India 20.6 percent.

Trendline Charts:

Infections: The chart shows the number of infections in Alberta starting to level off unlike the Prairies or British Columbia.

Deaths: Alberta deaths, along with the Prairies albeit to a lesser extent, continue to climb.

Vaccinations: Alberta vaccinations continue to surpass the Prairies. Immigration source country vaccination rates tapering off.

Weekly

Infections: Canadian North ahead of India, Australia ahead of Pakistan.

Deaths per million: No relative change.

Meanwhile, the “UK faces calls for ‘Plan B’ with virus cases high and rising:”

Life has returned to normal for millions in Britain since coronavirus restrictions were lifted over the summer. But while the rules have vanished, the virus hasn’t.

Many scientists are now calling on the government to reimpose social restrictions and speed up booster vaccinations as coronavirus infection rates, already Europe’s highest, rise still further.

The U.K. recorded 43,738 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, slightly down from the 49,156 reported Monday, which was the largest number since mid-July. New infections have averaged more than 44,000 a day over the past week, a 16% increase on the week before.

Last week, the Office for National Statistics estimated that one in 60 people in England had the virus, one of the highest levels seen in Britain during the pandemic.

In July, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government lifted all the legal restrictions that had been imposed more than a year earlier to slow the spread of the virus, including face coverings indoors and social distancing rules. Nightclubs and other crowded venues were allowed to open at full capacity, and people were no longer advised to work from home if they could.

Some modelers feared a big spike in cases after the opening-up. That didn’t occur, but infections remained high, and recently have begun to increase — especially among children, who largely remain unvaccinated.

Also rising are hospitalizations and deaths, which have averaged 130 a day over the past week, with 223 reported Tuesday alone. That is far lower than when cases were last this high, before much of the population was vaccinated, but still too high, critics of the government say. Britain has recorded more than 138,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest total in Europe after Russia.

Against that backdrop, some feel Britons have been too quick to return to pre-pandemic behavior. Masks and social distancing have all but vanished in most settings in England, including schools, though Scotland and other parts of the U.K. remain a bit more strict. Even in shops, where masks are recommended, and on the London transit network, where they are mandatory, adherence is patchy.

A plan to require proof of vaccination to attend nightclubs, concerts and other mass events in England was dropped by the Conservative government amid opposition from lawmakers, though Scotland introduced a vaccine pass program this month.

Some scientists say a bigger factor is waning immunity. Britain’s vaccination program got off to a quick start, with shots given to the elderly and vulnerable beginning in December 2020, and so far almost 80% of eligible people have received two doses. The early start means millions of people have been vaccinated for more than six months, and studies have suggested vaccines’ protection gradually wanes over time.

Millions of people in Britain are being offered booster shots, but critics say the program is moving too slowly, at about 180,000 doses a day. More than half of the people eligible for a booster dose haven’t yet received one.

The U.K. also waited longer than the U.S. and many European nations to vaccinate children ages 12-15, and only about 15% in that age group in England have had a shot since they became eligible last month.

“It’s critical we accelerate the booster program,” said epidemiologist Neil Ferguson, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies.

Ferguson said one factor influencing the U.K.’s high case numbers was that it has relied heavily on the AstraZeneca vaccine, “and, while that protects very well against very severe outcomes of COVID, it protects slightly less well than Pfizer against infection and transmission, particularly in the face of the delta variant.”

He also noted that “most Western European countries have kept in place more control measures, vaccine mandates, mask-wearing mandates, and tend to have lower case numbers and certainly not case numbers which are going up as fast as we’ve got.”

“But at the end of the day this is a policy decision for government to make,” he told the BBC.

Scientists in the U.K. are also keeping an eye on a new subvariant of the dominant delta strain of the virus. The mutation, known as AY4.2, accounts for a small but growing number of cases in Britain.

Francois Balloux, director of the University College London Genetics Institute, said the subvariant might be slightly more transmissible and was being “closely monitored.” But he said evidence suggested “it hasn’t been driving the recent increase in case numbers in the U.K.”

A report by lawmakers released last week concluded that the British government waited too long to impose a lockdown in the early days of the pandemic, missing a chance to contain the disease and leading to thousands of unnecessary deaths. Critics say it is repeating that mistake.

Last month, the prime minister said the country might need to move to a “Plan B” — reintroducing measures such as mandatory masks and bringing in vaccine passes — if cases rose so high in the fall and winter that the health system came under “unsustainable” strain.

For now, the government says it won’t change course, but will try to boost vaccination rates, with a new ad campaign and an increased number of sites outside of schools where kids can receive their shots.

Johnson’s spokesman, Max Blain, said “we always knew the next few months would be challenging.” But he said the government was trying to protect “both lives and livelihoods.”

“Clearly we are keeping a very close eye on rising case rates,” Blain said. “The most important message for the public to understand is the vital importance of the booster program.

But, he added: “There are no plans to move to Plan B.”

Source: UK faces calls for ‘Plan B’ with virus cases high and rising

UK: Thousands of potential trafficking victims held in immigration centres, data shows

Of note:

More than 4,500 people have been held in immigration detention in the UK before being released into the community and only then identified as potential victims of trafficking, official figures for the past five years show.

Charities claim the figures demonstrate a “detain first, ask later” attitude that runs counter to the fight against modern slavery and suggest others are probably being deported without having been referred for support. They fear the situation will be exacerbated by the nationality and borders bill, which they say makes it harder to identify victims.

Maya Esslemont, the director of the charity After Exploitation, which obtained the data, released to coincide with anti-slavery week, said: “It is terrifying that, as hard evidence shows just how often survivors are punished rather than supported, the government would put considerable resource behind making the trafficking decision-making process even stricter.

Source: Thousands of potential trafficking victims held in immigration centres, data shows

No more immigration: PM says Britain is in period of adjustment

Will see whether this holds up, or ongoing shortages force a change (see Doug Saunders Bare shelves, empty pumps: Britain’s self-inflicted Brexit wound):

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday he would not return to “uncontrolled immigration” to solve fuel, gas and Christmas food crises, suggesting such strains were part of a period of post-Brexit adjustment.

At the start of his Conservative Party’s conference, Johnson was again forced to defend his government against complaints from those unable to get petrol for their cars, retailers warning of Christmas shortages, and gas companies struggling with a spike in wholesale prices.

The British leader had wanted to use the conference to turn the page on more than 18 months of COVID-19 and to refocus on his 2019 election pledges to tackle regional inequality, crime and social care.

Instead, the prime minister finds himself on the back foot nine months after Britain completed its exit from the European Union – a departure he said would give the country the freedom to better shape its economy.

“The way forward for our country is not to just pull the big lever marked uncontrolled immigration, and allow in huge numbers of people to do work … So what I won’t do is go back to the old failed model of low wages, low skills supported by uncontrolled immigration,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

“When people voted for change in 2016 and … again in 2019 as they did, they voted for the end of a broken model of the UK economy that relied on low wages and low skill and chronic low productivity, and we are moving away from that.”

It was the closest the prime minister has come to admitting that Britain’s exit from the EU had contributed to strains in supply chains and the labour force, stretching everything from fuel deliveries to potential shortages of turkeys for Christmas.

“There will be a period of adjustment, but that is I think what we need to see,” he said.

But while the government plans to issue thousands of temporary visas for foreign truck drivers and poultry workers, Johnson was clear he would not open the taps of immigration, again shifting the responsibility to businesses to lift wages and attract more workers.

Shortages of workers after Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic have sown disarray in some sectors of the economy, disrupting deliveries of fuel and medicines and leaving more than 100,000 pigs facing a cull due to a lack of abattoir workers.

Conservative Party chair, Oliver Dowden, said that the government was taking measures to hire more truck drivers in general and that the government had started training military tanker personnel to start fuel deliveries on Monday.

“We will make sure that people have their turkey for Christmas, and I know that for the Environment Secretary George Eustice this is absolutely top of his list,” he told Sky News.

But the overwhelming message from the government was that businesses must step up to solve supply chain issues and to entice more British workers with higher wages.

“I don’t believe in a command and control economy so I don’t believe the prime minister is responsible for what is in the shops. This is why we have a free enterprise economy,” foreign minister Liz Truss told an event at the conference.

“I’m sure that the goods will be delivered into our shops.”

But rather than the reset Johnson hoped to preside over in the northern English city of Manchester, the conference looks set to be overshadowed by the crises and criticism of the government’s withdrawal of a top-up to a state benefit for low-income households.

The main opposition Labour Party is set to focus on the removal of the uplift, hoping to undermine those Conservative lawmakers who won over its traditional supporters in northern and central England.

Johnson may also come under fire for breaking with the Conservatives’ traditional stance as the party of low taxes after increasing some of them to help the health and social care sectors.

“We don’t want to raise taxes, of course, but what we will not do is be irresponsible with the public finances,” he said. “If I can possibly avoid it, I do not want to raise taxes again, of course not.”

Source: No more immigration: PM says Britain is in period of adjustment

Britain’s newest immigrant group is unlike any that came before

Of interest (Canada is focussing on younger Hong Kongese):

On a sunny afternoon hundreds of Hong Kongers, many so new to Britain that they have not lost the habit of outdoor mask-wearing, have gathered in Beddington Park in the south London borough of Sutton. Trish Fivey, the mayor, gives a short speech welcoming them. Sutton is already multicultural, she says. She looks forward to another group joining the mix.

It is a fine sentiment. But the Hong Kongers are quite different from other immigrants, including other ethnic Chinese. Many have a distinct legal status and are socially atypical. They live in specific places, which they chose in a novel way. They have created distinctive self-help groups. In just a few months, they have begun to rewrite Britain’s immigrant story.

Cantonese speakers have settled in Britain for decades, though not in great numbers. Some early migrants ran Chinese restaurants, which were ubiquitous enough by 1945 to let George Orwell describe them as standard destinations for natives seeking good cheap meals. But the latest rush began recently. In June 2020 Beijing passed a national-security law that criminalised much political activity in Hong Kong. Seven months later the British government created a new visa that enabled many Hong Kongers to settle. By the end of June this year 65,000 people had applied.

Source: Britain’s newest immigrant group is unlike any that came before

British people have become startlingly less xenophobic

Of interest:

In june 2016 Nigel Farage, then the leader of the uk Independence Party, unveiled a poster showing a line of refugees. “breaking point”, it screamed, in red letters. “We must break free of the eu and take back control of our borders.” Boris Johnson, a leading light in the main Leave campaign, sniffily described it as “not my politics”. But perhaps it revealed something, he suggested. If Britain left the eu, people might calm down about immigration.

He seems to have been right. On September 14th a poll by Ipsos mori revealed a markedly more relaxed nation. Excluding “don’t knows”, the share who want immigration reduced stands at 50%, down from 69% in early 2015 (see chart). A non-negligible 18% want more of it. Polls by other firms show much the same trend.

Source: British people have become startlingly less xenophobic

Emma Raducanu victory sparks debate over multiculturalism in the UK

Of note (even if I was rooting for Layla):

The Twitter bio of Emma Raducanu, whose victory in the US Open on Saturday has sent much of the UK into an extended state of joyful delirium, contains only four words: london|toronto|shenyang|bucharest.

It’s a reflection of her pride and ease in her rich heritage which – thanks to 111 thrilling minutes in New York – has opened a debate about multiculturalism in her home nation, where she arrived as a two-year-old from Canada.

After the success of a fresh wave of sporting stars in 2021 – from the Olympics’ BMX rider Kye Whyte and weightlifter Emily Campbell to Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and other stars of the Euro finalists football team – Raducanu is being hailed as the face of a new proudly diverse era.

On Sunday Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, tweeted that Raducanu – who was born in Canada to a Chinese mother and a Romanian father – reflected “London’s story”, writing: “Here in London, we embrace and celebrate our diversity. And if you work hard, and get a helping hand, you can achieve anything.”

Raducanu, who soon after her victory over the Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez tweeted a picture of herself holding the union flag in one hand and her newly acquired trophy in the other with the words “We are taking her HOMEEE”, was congratulated by everyone from the Queen to Nigel Farage.

The latter came in for a barrage of criticism, as critics noted that in an interview the former Ukip leader described crime statistics relating to offences committed by Romanians as “eye-watering”, adding: “I was asked a question if a group of Romanian men moved in next to you, would you be concerned. If you lived in London, I think you would be.”

Match of the Day presenter and former captain of the England football team Gary Lineker couldn’t resist a swipe. “He won’t be able to afford to live next door to Emma Raducanu, so he needn’t worry,” he said, alluding to Raducanu’s £1.8m US Open prize money.

But Sport England board member Chris Grant said he welcomed the comments from Farage, and the wall-to-wall positive coverage of the 18-year-old’s achievements in parts of the media that are openly hostile to asylum seekers legally seeking refuge from danger.

“Her victory illuminates the reality of Britishness and the delusion at the heart of their other pronouncements,” he said. “A girl who has one Chinese parent, one Romanian parent and was born in Canada but came to Bromley at the age of two is such a normal story in this country, and one that we should be proud of.”

But Grant, speaking in an individual capacity, said the focus should be on Raducanu herself rather than on anything she does or doesn’t represent.

“We have to be mindful about what we place on the shoulders of individuals,” he said, adding that Raducanu’s mental health had already been the subject of intense speculation following her withdrawal from Wimbledon. “As of today, there’s going to be a massive spotlight on her from the point of view of immigration. That’s another burden for her to carry, and it’s probably not one she wants.”

Sunder Katwala, of British Future, a thinktank that promotes debate about immigration and integration, said Raducanu’s ease with her heritage was typical of her generation. But he warned people with liberal views on immigration using her as a “gotcha” argument.

“These are exceptional stories, which don’t answer the broader public questions about if we are good at identity integration, equal opportunity and shared identities,” he said. “They do give a popular image of the positive contribution of migration and integration, and that has that positive element, as long as it’s not overplayed.”

Wanda Wyporska, executive director of the Equality Trust, said as a “half-Bajan, quarter-Polish, quarter-English” British woman, while she delighted in celebrating Raducanu’s success and talent, she was wary of holding her up as an example of successful immigrant integration.

“The more that people get used to the idea that Britishness is a very varied thing has to be positive,” she said. “But my concern is that the valuing immigrants and refugees in the UK is sort of predicated on being successful and giving back a contribution rather than just being human. That’s not good for us either.”

Grant said he was most heartened by the images of celebration beamed from Raducanu’s tennis club, which included families of colour. “That a tennis club is a diverse place is socially significant in this country, and that’s happening quietly and inexorably. That’s why the Farage thing ultimately becomes irrelevant, because it’s happening anyway. If that integration has figureheads like her, that’s brilliant.”

Source: Emma Raducanu victory sparks debate over multiculturalism in the UK

UK: How have Priti Patel’s previous pledges on immigration fared?

Of note (somewhat comparable issues with respect to calls to close the Canada-USA Safe Third Country Agreement “loophole” for asylum seekers between official points of entry):

The viability of Thursday’s announcement by Priti Patel that small boats carrying migrants across the Channel will be turned back to France by Border Force officials has been questioned by politicians on all sides, and by the immigration services union, lawyers and human rights organisations.

So it may be that its chances of actually being put into practice are slim. Here is a quick guide to what happened after previous high-profile announcements by the home secretary.

Small boat arrivals

In October 2019 Patel pledged to halve migrant crossings by the end of that month – at that time there had been more than 1,400 people crossing in small boats since the beginning of 2019. So far in 2021, 13,500 migrants have crossed the Channel, including 1,000 in the past two days.

The statement from the home secretary about turning small boats back mid-Channel crossing was not an official Home Office announcement. It is not clear whether or not a published policy will emerge.

Toufique Hossain, director of public law at Duncan Lewis solicitors, said: “It is difficult to see a legal basis for what is effectively collective expulsion. The desperate need to look tough on immigration may lead to unlawful and dangerous consequences.”

Offshoring asylum seekers

Reports emerged in June this year that the new immigration bill would include plans to hold asylum seekers in processing centres outside the UK. It is understood that officials working for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office were tasked with exploring whether any other country would be receptive to accommodating asylum seekers who had sought sanctuary in the UK while their claims were processed. Australia adopted this controversial system in 2001 and Denmark has passed legislation enabling it to do the same. Countries such as Rwanda, along with Ascension Island and disused oil rigs, were mooted. Installing giant wave machines in the Channel was also mentioned in media briefings last October. Since then no more has been heard about these plans.

Sending small boat arrivals who passed through safe European countries back there

This was promised after the conclusion of the Brexit transition period at the end of 2020. But nobody has yet been sent back. The Home Office said that this category of asylum claims would be ruled inadmissible. According to Migration Observatory evidence this week to the joint committee on human rights, 4,500 notices of intent have been served since the start of 2021 relating to cases that may be considered inadmissible. But so far only seven cases have been declared as such and nobody has so far been returned to a European country post-Brexit.

Increased number of deportations

Deportations and enforced removals have declined year on year since 2012, with 3,300 enforced returns in 2020, 54% fewer than in 2019. While the sharp drop last year can be partly attributed to Covid, the steady year-on-year reduction cannot. The Home Office says the reduction is partly due to some of those in detention prior to deportation raising “issues”.

Tougher provisions in new immigration bill

The nationality & borders bill itself is subject to a legal challenge questioning the lawfulness of the consultation process. Even some of the Home Office’s key contractors such as the charity Migrant Help, which operates a helpline on behalf of the Home Office for asylum seekers, have been critical of the new bill, saying they believe it will damage the UK’s reputation as a world leader in its approach to human rights and social responsibility.

Source: How have Priti Patel’s previous pledges on immigration fared?

Political Storm Swirls Around Britain’s Refugee Surge

Of note:

Some held their hands aloft in celebration; others simply slumped to the ground in the 24°C heat, exhausted from the ordeal they’d just endured.

That was the scene on the south coast of England this week, when at least 430 migrants — including infants too young to walk — made landfall. They had braved the 20-mile crossing from either France or Belgium, navigating the world’s busiest shipping lane aboard flimsy inflatable boats.

Meanwhile, 70 miles away in Westminster, the fate of those who’ll arrive in the months and years ahead was being aired, as UK lawmakers debated the government’s planned reform of refugee policy.

Undocumented migration is a convulsive political issue in post-Brexit Britain. Departure from Europe was sold as a chance to buttress the country’s creaking borders — yet, since the start of the year, some 8,000 people have reached British soil with the help of boat-borne smugglers. Monday’s surge represented the highest number of arrivals on record, with 2020’s total of 8,417 likely to be topped in the coming weeks.

Addressing this is the job of UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, a divisive politician who’s pinned her reputation on stemming the flow of refugees.

She is the brains behind the ‘Nationality and Borders Bill’ — legislation that will make it a criminal offence to enter the country without permission, with a penalty of up to four years in prison. It also raises the prospect of a new overseas detention scheme, in which asylum-seekers could be sent to a “safe third country” while their claims are considered. Thus far, no third-party nation has agreed to participate.

It would be a firm but fair system, Patel says, designed to deter vulnerable people from placing their lives in the hands of unscrupulous traffickers. Instead of crossing to the UK, asylum applications should be made wherever in Europe refugees first find themselves, the government argues.

It’s a legally dubious position. Though, under European law, migrants should have their claims processed in the jurisdiction of their arrival, the 1951 UN Refugee Convention makes clear that asylum-seekers must face no legal discrimination, and suggests that their unlawful entry to a country shouldn’t result in prosecution.

And there’s another, more human consideration that critics say must be accounted for: that no amount of securitisation will deter needy people enticed by the UK’s reputation for defending human rights, offering legal protection to those in direst need, upholding the rule of law, and celebrating — not condemning — multiculturalism .

That is why migrants have always been drawn to British shores, often in far, far greater numbers than those seen today. (Arrivals topped 100,000 per year in the early 2000s).

The difference now, partly thanks to COVID-19 shutting rail and road migration routes, is that their arrival is a more visible, maritime spectacle. Headlines are hard for politicians, but photos of foreigners wading ashore is a whole different level. Coupled with a bureaucratic meltdown at the Home Office — the number of asylum-seekers awaiting a decision has doubled since 2014 — it’s little surprise the British government is coming down hard.

The truth, however, is that the UK’s refugee situation is far less onerous than it is for its nearest neighbours. Britain ranks 17th out of 28 European countries in terms of asylum applications, with around a third of those confronting authorities in France and Germany.

Such stats obscure the human story. That every one is a person, often vulnerable and fleeing persecution or poverty, willing to risk it all for a better, brighter future.

Source: Political Storm Swirls Around Britain’s Refugee Surge

Home Office ‘acting unlawfully’ in rush to deport asylum seekers

Yet again:

Hundreds of people arriving in England in small boats are being immediately detained in immigration removal centres, raising fears of a new, secret Home Office policy to deport them without their asylum claims being properly considered.

Among the detainees are apparent trafficking and torture victims from countries including Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, who would normally be allowed asylum accommodation in the community while their claims are processed but instead are effectively imprisoned.

Children are also among those who have crossed the Channel and have been sent directly to immigration removal centres, with solicitors claiming the Home Office has classed minors as adults despite not age-assessing them in person.

Some small-boat asylum seekers have been denied access to a lawyer since early May after landing and being immediately detained in a removal centre.

Campaigners said the development was “not the act of a civilised and compassionate nation”.

The outcry follows the publication of home secretary Priti Patel’s nationality and borders bill on Tuesday. It claims to reform the asylum system but has been described by the UN as having an “almost neocolonial approach” in allowing the UK to shirk its international responsibilities to refugees.

Immigration lawyers say the apparent undisclosed policy change, which appears to have been introduced over the past two months, is unlawful and they are preparing to challenge it.

Toufique Hossain, director of public law and immigration at Duncan Lewis, described it as a potentially “grave abuse of power”.

Hossain added: “They have effectively started bypassing the asylum system and saying to individuals with strong claims that their claim is weak, that they may not get an appeal and that they intend to remove them quickly.

“The whole starting point is to disbelieve people arriving from places where the Home Office knows individuals have a well-founded fear of harm and persecution.”

The shift appears to have affected hundreds already, with Duncan Lewis receiving reports that the UK’s network of immigration removal centres is overwhelmed.

Harmondsworth removal centre near Heathrow airport – whose capacity is 670 – is understood to be “overwhelmed”. The Home Office is also filling Brook House at Gatwick airport and Colnbrook, near Heathrow – combined capacity 850 – with small boat arrivals.

“Detention centres are being filled with people who have just arrived but who are not being released into the community,” said Tom Nunn of Duncan Lewis.

He added they are aware of more than 50 Vietnamese nationals, a country which is one of the top sources for trafficking into the UK.

In addition, there is speculation that the Home Office has chartered a deportation flight to Vietnam at the end of July for small boat arrivals, although the government would not confirm this.

Nunn said the firm was aware of Iraqis and Afghans who had indicators of torture, but whom the Home Office had apparently detained in contravention of the established asylum process.

“There have been a few cases where medical advice from doctors in the immigration centre is that they are victims of torture,” said Nunn. “But we are seeing a lot of cases where the Home Office is pushing back on this, basically saying that: ‘You’re a victim of torture but we believe we can remove you quickly and therefore we’ll keep you in detention.”

Clare Moseley of charity Care4Calais said: “To detain and deport such vulnerable people in this way is not the act of a civilised and compassionate nation. If we fail to ensure that those who need our help are treated in a fair and decent manner we risk losing our reputation as a decent and honest society.”

Usually asylum seekers are placed in special accommodation while their claims are heard, a process that can often take longer than a year. Currently there is a record backlog of 109,000 cases in the system with over 79,000 being processed for more than a year.

This is not the first time that the Home Office appears to have quietly introduced measures that reduce the rights and protection of asylum seekers.

Last year the Home Office secretly shortened asylum screening interviews for arrivals in the UK, a move that meant torture and trafficking victims could be deported far more quickly.

Last week, however, the high court ruled that Patel should quickly bring back to the UK a small boat asylum seeker and Sudanese torture survivor who was removed to France.

The 38-year-old was tracked down by Liberty Investigates and the Observer in an investigation whose evidence paved the way for last week’s government defeat.

Called Omar in the investigation, he had nine of the 11 indicators of trafficking and torture yet was deported to France last August after just two months in the UK.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We assess the suitability of all new arrivals and only detain people when there is a realistic prospect of their removal within a reasonable timescale, and evidence of their vulnerability is outweighed by immigration considerations.

“It is inaccurate to say unaccompanied minors are being classed as adults during age assessment interviews. The Home Office makes every effort to ensure people’s age is assessed correctly, in the interests of safeguarding and to avoid abuse of the system.”

They added that the government would “crack down on illegal entry and the criminality associated with it”.

The spokesperson said: “People should claim asylum in the first safe country they arrive in and we must ensure dangerous journeys are not incentivised.”

Source: Home Office ‘acting unlawfully’ in rush to deport asylum seekers

China slams Olympic boycott call, ‘politicization of sports’

The Special Committee on Canada-China Relations should stop making virtue signalling calls for the Olympics to be moved (won’t happen) and join the British parliamentary committee in calling for a boycott:

China on Thursday criticized what it called the “politicization of sports” after British lawmakers urged a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics unless China allows an investigation of complaints of human rights abuses in its northwest.

A boycott “will not succeed,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said.

The British Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee called for the government to urge British companies to boycott the Beijing Games, scheduled for February. The appeal adds to pressure on China’s ruling Communist Party over reports of mass detentions and other abuses of mostly Muslim ethnic minorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.

“China firmly opposes the politicization of sports and the interference in other countries’ internal affairs by using human rights issues as a pretext,” Wang said. “Attempts to disrupt, obstruct and sabotage the preparation and convening of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games out of political motivation have been met with strong opposition from all sectors of the international community.”

China, which rejects the accusations of abuses in Xinjiang, has denied the United Nations unfettered access to the region to investigate the claims.

Source: https://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory/china-slams-olympic-boycott-call-politicization-sports-78731310