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Controversial UK deportation flight to Rwanda grounded after all asylum-seekers removed

The inaugural flight of a controversial UK government scheme to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda was stopped on Tuesday at the eleventh hour, after an intervention by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

According to the UK’s PA Media news agency, “all migrants have been removed from the plane and the flight to Rwanda will not take off as scheduled tonight.”
Britain’s government had announced the deal with the east African country in April. Those people granted asylum would then be allowed to resettle in Rwanda. The government insisted the program was aimed at disrupting people-smuggling networks and deterring migrants from making the dangerous sea journey across the Channel to England from France.
Advocacy groups had initiated multiple legal challenges to stop the aircraft, including veja sneakers an appeal that was rejected by the Court of Appeal in London on Monday. Several dozen asylum seekers saw their tickets canceled, Care4Calais refugee charity said, leaving just seven people due to be deported by Tuesday morning.
But on the evening that the plane was expected to depart, the ECHR issued a series of rulings in the cases of the last Rwanda-bound asylum-seekers, ordering the British government not to remove them.
A Rwandan government spokeswoman Yolande Makolo said the country is “not deterred” after the UK deportation flight to Rwanda was grounded.
“We are not deterred by these developments. Rwanda remains fully committed to making this partnership work,” Makolo said in a statement sent to CNN Wednesday.
“The current situation of people making dangerous journeys cannot continue as it is causing untold suffering to so many. Rwanda stands ready to receive the migrants when they do arrive and offer them safety and opportunity in our country,” Makolo added.
In its ruling for one Iraqi national, the ECHR said: “The European Court has indicated to the UK Government that the applicant should not be removed to Rwanda until three weeks after the delivery of the final domestic decision in his ongoing judicial review proceedings.”
The ECHR essentially found that that asylum seeker had not exhausted all legal proceedings in the UK, with British courts planning to hear the applicant’s judicial review challenge in July, and should not be removed until having done so.
“BREAKING: Last ticket cancelled,” tweeted Care4Calais, upon news of the flight cancellation. “NO ONE IS GOING TO RWANDA.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan also reacted, tweeting: “Tonight’s inhumane deportation of asylum seekers to #Rwanda has been stopped by the ECtHR – minutes before it was due to depart. Sending people fleeing violence to a country thousands of miles away was already cruel and callous. It’s now potentially unlawful too.”
The development is a rebuff to the UK government, after Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the deportation flight would depart regardless of how many people were on board.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said Tuesday evening that she was “disappointed” that the flight had been halted, and that her office was reviewing the legality of the decision. The government plans to move forward with the project, she also said.
“Access to the UK’s asylum system must be based on need, not on the ability to pay people smugglers. The demands on the current system, the cost to the taxpayer, and the flagrant abuses are increasing, and the British public have rightly had enough,” Patel said.
“I have always said this policy will not be easy to deliver and am disappointed that legal challenge and last-minute claims have meant today’s flight was unable to depart,” she added.
A hostel that housed Rwanda genocide survivors prepares to take in people deported by the UK
Despite the government’s attempts to justify the scheme, criticism of the plan has continued to grow. Church of England leaders on Tuesday called it an “immoral policy that shames Britain” in a joint letter to The Times newspaper.
“Rwanda is a brave country recovering from catastrophic genocide. The shame is our own, because our Christian heritage should inspire us to treat asylum aldo shoes seekers with compassion, fairness and justice, as we have for centuries,” the letter reads.
“Many are desperate people fleeing unspeakable horrors. Many are Iranians, Eritreans and Sudanese citizens, who have an asylum grant rate of at least 88 per cent,” it continued. “We cannot offer asylum to everyone, but we must not outsource our ethical responsibilities, or discard international law — which protects the right to claim asylum.”
In response, Truss told Sky News that the Rwanda flights policy was “completely moral” and that critics “need to suggest an alternative policy that will work.”
Demonstrators protest outside of an airport perimeter fence against a planned deportation of asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda, at Gatwick Airport on June 12, 2022.
Demonstrators protest outside of an airport perimeter fence against a planned deportation of asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda, at Gatwick Airport on June 12, 2022.

‘Incredibly dangerous’ journey

According to data from the UK Home office, 28,526 people arrived to the United Kingdom on small boats in 2021. The vast majority of them, 23,655, were men and nearly two thirds came from just four countries: Iran (7,874), Iraq (5,414), Eritrea (2,829) and Syria (2,260).
Care4Calais said the reason the majority of refugees are male is the result of fleeing their homelands where “young men may be killed to stop them rebelling against the government, or forced into military service.”
It also explained the journey to Calais is “incredibly dangerous” and that “many families will not risk their daughters safety on a journey to Europe. The hope is the men who escape will then help them to safety.”
Almost all of the people who come on small boats — 98% off those who arrived in 2020 — have applied for asylum.
The Refugee Council said that most people arriving by small boats across the Channel are likely to be genuine refugees fleeing persecution.
Statistics from the Home Office show that people arriving to the UK from Iran (88%), Eritrea (97%) and Syria (98%) have generally high chances of being granted asylum.
The chances are significantly smaller for Iraqi citizens — only 48% of the decisions made in 2021 were positive.
The Refugee Council said that on cloud shoes overall, around 75% of initial asylum decisions made in the year to March 2022 were positive and that of those who were rejected, about half were allowed asylum appeal.
More recently, the number of people coming on small boats has been increasing. The Home Office said 4,540 people arrived in the first three months of the year, more than three times higher than the same three months in 2021.
The number of people arriving was boosted by much higher numbers of people coming from Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover last summer.
The Home Office said 1,094 Afghan citizens came to the UK in the first quarter of 2022, almost as many as arrived over the entire 2021.

An average £183,000 per flight

The UK has said it will pay Rwanda £120 million ($145 million) over the next five years to finance the program. On top of that, the UK has also promised to pay for the processing and integration costs for each relocated person, covering the cost of legal advice, caseworkers, translators, accommodation, food and healthcare.
According to a parliamentary research briefing, the British government said it expects these will be similar to asylum processing costs in the UK, which stand at around £12,000 per person.
The UK has refused to disclose the cost of the flights it will charter to transport deportees to Rwanda. The Home Office said in its latest annual report it paid £8.6 million to charter 47 deportation flights carrying 883 people in 2020. While the cost of individual flights varied depending on the destination, the figures mean that on average, the Home Office spent £183,000 per flight or £9,700 per person.
Because there is no cap on the number of migrants, thousands could potentially pour into the capital Kigali within the first five years of the plan.

‘We’re doing this for the right reasons’

Ahead of the aircraft’s previously-scheduled departure, the Rwandan government said it was standing ready to receive asylum-seekers from the UK and that it will do its best “to make sure the migrants are taken care of.”
“We are asking that this program be given a chance,” said Rwandan government spokeswoman Yolande Makolo at a press conference in the Kigali on Tuesday.
Makolo responded to the Church of England leaders’ condemnation saying, “we don’t think it’s immoral to offer a home to people — something we have done here for more than 30 years.”
“Where we’re coming from, we’re doing this for the right reasons. We want this to be a welcoming place and we’ll do our best to make sure the migrants are taken care of and that they’re able to build a life here,” she added.
Although Rwanda is offering to help with migrants’ resettlement to a third country by providing travel transportation if they manage to obtain legal residence, “the primary objective [of the scheme] is to fully integrate them into Rwandan society,” said Doris Uwicyeza Picard, the chief advisor to the Minister of Justice.
“There are legal paths to citizenship for migrant workers and for refugees provided they are eligible for citizenship,” she added.
The scheme will last five years, but Rwanda intends to turn it into a binding treaty at a later stage, said Picard.

Controversial audit of Arizona ballots continues amid new allegations of incompetence

A partisan audit of the 2020 election in Arizona continued this week, brooks shoes with further accusations of ineptitude against the firm running it and a gubernatorial campaign launch from a top Democrat opposing it.

The audit of votes in Maricopa County, which has drawn criticism from a number of local Republican officials, will not affect the actual results of November’s election but has been used in right-wing media to justify the widespread belief among Republicans that the 2020 results were fraudulent. It’s being spearheaded by Cyber Ninjas, an obscure Florida-based cybersecurity firm whose CEO has promoted election conspiracies, and which was hired by the GOP-controlled state Senate to handle the process.

On Tuesday, the office of Secretary of State Katie Hobbs released a report detailing what it described as serious problems with the audit that had arisen skechers shoes over the last week. Among the issues listed were a Monday software update “that created so many errors and problems during the first shift that they stated they were going to roll back to the old software during the afternoon shift” and the fact that “copies of voting system data [were] sent to a lab in Montana.”

Per Hobbs’s office, there were no specifications on “what security measures were in place, or what the lab in Montana will do with the data or how long it will be in possession of the copies.”

Contractors working for Cyber Ninjas
Contractors working for Cyber Ninjas recount ballots from the 2020 election in Phoenix after two election audits found no evidence of widespread fraud. 

“Observers saw that hey dude shoes at least three people who are not residents of Maricopa County rifling through thousands of military and overseas ballots,” read the report. “Observers had been previously told that only Maricopa County residents would be allowed to handle any ballots, yet all three people were not residents.”

The report accused workers of carrying black pens on the floor, which is not allowed because the pens can be used to alter ballots. Observers quoted in the report also stated that “audit co-chair Randy Pullen told an observer that the shirt he was required to wear on the floor made him ‘look like a transgender’ because of the color of his shirt.”

Maricopa County — the state’s largest — is where the most Arizonans reside. Biden narrowly won Arizona in November, becoming the first Democrat to do so since Bill Clinton took the state in 1996.

With the highly suspect audit stretching past the initial deadline set by Cyber Ninjas, the stadium where it is taking place has been skechers outlet visited by Republicans who are promoting former President Donald Trump’s baseless claim that the election was stolen from him.

This week, three Republican state legislators from Pennsylvania, including one who had been a leading advocate for Trump’s false allegations, visited the stadium. Last month, embattled Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., held a rally in Maricopa County, where the audit was a key topic of discussion. The actual process was on pause at the time because the building was being used that weekend for high school graduations.

“So, let me just check and make sure with all of you: Who do you think won in Arizona on Nov. 3?” Greene asked, with Gaetz adding, “We are here in solidarity with the Arizona election audit.”

Katie Hobbs, left, with Doug Ducey
Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs watches as Gov. Doug Ducey signs documents to certify election results, golden goose sneakers Nov. 30, 2020. 

Hobbs has been expected to announce her candidacy for next year’s gubernatorial race and did so on Wednesday, centering election integrity in her announcement video.

“There’s real harm going on for many, and the other side isn’t offering policies to make our lives better — they’re offering conspiracies that only make our lives worse,” Hobbs said.

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who cannot run for reelection due to term limits, has largely refrained from discussing the audit and certified the election results in November. Ducey dispatched police protection for Hobbs and her family this year after they received death threats tied to the audit.

On Wednesday, Trump criticized Ducey ecco shoes for vetoing a number of bills as he awaits a budget proposal from the Legislature, including one that would have required voters to request an absentee ballot before they receive one.

“For those of you who think Doug Ducey is good for Arizona, you are wrong,” the former president said in a statement.

Driven by Biden presidency, U.S. bishops next month expected to approve controversial Communion inquiry

Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory attends a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis the day after he raised 13 new cardinals to brooks shoes the highest rank in the Catholic hierarchy, at St. Peter’s Basilica, at the Vatican, November 29, 2020.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Catholic bishops next month are expected to take a vote aimed directly at the question of whether pro-abortion rights politicians should receive Communion. The vote will go ahead despite efforts from some bishops who think urging the exclusion of Catholics like President Joe Biden is not pastoral.

The decision by leaders of the District of Columbia-based U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to have the vote comes after dozens of U.S. bishops asked for it to be postponed, saying the men are currently too divided. The Catholic news site the Pillar first reported Tuesday that the effort to postpone the vote was led in part by Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory.

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U.S. bishops have long been divided about how to deal with prominent Catholics who support abortion access, but the issue for some skechers shoes became urgent with Biden’s election. For other bishops Biden is a boost for the faith as a weekly Mass attender who describes Catholicism as a core of his life and emphasizes key church priorities such as poverty, heath care and refugees. Biden is the second-ever Catholic president, after John F. Kennedy.

After weeks of back and forth – and including a weigh-in from the Vatican – USCCB President Jose Gomez on May 22 sent his fellow bishops an outline of a document they are expected to vote on at the virtual meeting in mid-June. The document asks bishops if they want the USCCB’s doctrine committee to start drafting a teaching document about the meaning in the life of the church of Communion, the core sacrament in traditional Catholic practice.

The Pillar reported first on Gomez’s letter.

Watchers of the USCCB say the vote is expected to pass. Then the doctrine committee would create a proposed document for the bishops to discuss when they meet in the fall. While the USCCB is more of an advisory industry group and has no authority over what bishops tell their own priests to do in their dioceses, the church aims to work on consensus and a vote spotlighting clergy who give Communion to pro-choice Catholic politicians would be striking and historic.

Biden’s bishop in Washington, Cardinal Gregory, has already said he won’t deny Biden Communion, calling that a politicization of the rite. Gregory is in line with his predecessors in the District and other bishops who condemn abortion but focus on empathizing with the reasons women have them and looking to draw them closer to God and Catholic community.

In other words, the bishops can’t vote whether to deny Biden Communion. But the conversation and votes could further divide the already-polarized American Catholic community just as the U.S. Supreme Court readies to vote on abortion rights.

“The focus of this proposed teaching document is on how best to help people to understand the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist as the center of their Christian lives,” Gomez, who is archbishop of Los Angeles, wrote to the other bishops in a note with the outline. “It is clear that there is a lack of understanding among many Catholics about the nature and meaning of the Eucharist … this includes the call to all the faithful for ongoing conversion, moral transformation and missionary discipleship.”

The draft letter lays out three basic areas the teaching document will cover to explain “why it matters.” It includes that the sacrament is the real presence of Christ, that it’s healing, beautiful and unifies the church. The part of the future document most likely to stir controversy is about “eucharistic consistency” — in other words who should receive communion.

“A person should examine himself … for anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself,” it reads, then adds in parentheses: “The nature of eucharistic communion and the problem of serious sin.”

More than 60 bishops wrote to Gomez earlier this month, the Pillar reported Tuesday, asking him to postpone a vote related to Communion. The Pillar said the letter was written on the letterhead of the Washington Archdiocese, and that the effort was led by Gregory and Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich. There are about 280 voting U.S. bishops.

Gregory’s office did not return several messages, nor did Gomez’s. Two sources familiar with the planning of the USCCB meeting confirmed the letter requesting a delay, but could not confirm Gregory’s role.

The bishops’ requesting the delay pointed to a recent letter from the Vatican’s doctrine arm, urging them to move slowly on a divisive topic, and not to elevate abortion as the only grave matter Catholics should consider. Cardinal Luis Ladaria, the prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s watchdog for doctrinal matters, said in the letter that the bishops must first talk amongst themselves at length, and also bishops must talk with politicians who support abortion rights.

Any policy produced by the USCCB would require near unanimity and could not upend the right of an individual bishop to decide whether to deny a politician Eucharist in their diocese. In addition, Ladaria argued it would be “misleading” to suggest abortion and euthanasia are “the only grave matters of Catholic moral and social teaching that demand the fullest level of accountability on the part of Catholics,” Religion News Service wrote earlier this month.

Citing Ladaria’s letter, the bishops asking for a delay said his “high standard of consensus…is far from being achieved in the present moment.”