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A US lawyer for some of the women who say they were victims of Jeffrey Epstein has suggested that Buckingham Palace’s plans to examine bullying allegations against the Duchess of Sussex are a “calculated decision” to take the focus off Prince Andrew.

“Allegations about him are far worse than the allegations about Meghan Markle. Prince Andrew was a working royal when he became a friend of Jeffrey Epstein, who was a sexual predator,” said Gloria Allred.

“Prince Andrew is accused of much more than bullying or harassment in the workplace,” said the lawyer, who does not represent Virginia Giuffre, who has made the allegations against the prince, but is acting for 20 women who say they were victims of the disgraced US financier.

Allred and others have been campaigning for the prince, who denies the allegations against him, to offer himself for interview in person by US criminal investigators and prosecutors looking into Epstein’s crimes and those associated with him.

The lawyer last month arranged for a US-style school bus to drive through different parts of London, including past Buckingham Palace, with a message on the side asking the prince to speak with the FBI.

In a statement issued on Monday, Allred said: “Why does Buckingham Palace not conduct an investigation and make a public statement condemning Prince Andrew for failing to provide what is requested to those who are seeking the whole truth and justice for the victims of crimes against children?

“Why has Prince Andrew not been stripped of the royal titles that he enjoys, as has been the case for Meghan and Harry? He has certainly not brought dignity and respect to his work as a royal.”

Allred added: “The investigation into Meghan Markle is a distraction, and it appears hypocritical under the circumstances. I have to wonder if it reflects a calculated decision to take the focus off of Prince Andrew.

“It is long overdue for the palace to change its priorities and announce that it is conducting its own investigation of Prince Andrew. In addition, it should immediately issue a statement condemning Prince Andrew for failing to provide full in-person cooperation in the ongoing criminal investigation by the United States justice department.”

In December, Andrew’s spokesperson declined to comment on a report that the prince stayed in the New York mansion of the sex offender Epstein in April 2001, despite Andrew denying doing so in his infamous Newsnight interview.

The refusal to repeat the denial came after the Daily Mail uncovered a fax that said the prince had stayed at a “private address in New York” on 11 April and its sources confirmed this was Epstein’s £60m home in Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

Giuffre, who was 17 at the time and called Virginia Roberts, alleges Epstein flew her to New York to have sex with Andrew – something Andrew continues to vehemently deny.  

Giuffre says she was trafficked by Epstein to have sex with the prince three times in 2001. The prince has always denied any wrongdoing and says he cannot recall meeting her or having his picture taken with her.

He said in November: “I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein … Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required.”

Since then he has not spoken to US authorities investigating Epstein’s alleged crimes.  By Ben Quinn, Guardian/Yahoo News

Jerusha Malini a nurse at KNH is being vaccinated against Covid-19 on March 5, 2021. Image: Fredrick Omondi
 
In Summary

• Anyolo said it must be understood that those doctors cannot and should not purport to speak in the name of the Catholic Church.

• The Catholic Doctors Association took issue with the Astrazeneca vaccine due to its use of genetically modified organisms and use of lab-grown cells that descend from cells taken in the 1980s from the tissue of aborted foetuses.

Catholic Bishops have now distanced themselves from claims that the Covid-19 vaccine is unnecessary.

In a statement to newsrooms, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops led by Rev Philip Anyolo said the recent statement by Kenya Catholic Doctors Association was made by the doctors in their own capacity.

Anyolo said the remarks dos not, therefore, reflect the stand of the church. "It must be understood that those doctors cannot and should not purport to speak in the name of the Catholic Church," Anyolo said.

His sentiments come after the Catholic Church was locked in a standoff with the Ministry of Health over the roll-out of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Doctors who profess the Catholic faith objected the vaccination process saying it is unnecessary.

The doctor's lobby advised church members not to accept the Covid-19 vaccine but instead practise steam therapy if they are sick.

They also advised those sick with Covid-19 to take three medicines that studies show are useless against the disease.

However, health experts have cautioned that Kenyans should get the vaccine they are offered.

The Catholic Doctors Association took issue with the Astrazeneca vaccine due to its use of genetically modified organisms and use of lab-grown cells that descend from cells taken in the 1980s from the tissue of aborted foetuses. 

But Anyolo in the statement said the Catholic Church has since before independence collaborated with the government to roll out high-impact lifesaving vaccines.

"The church notes that it is licit and ethically acceptable to receive all covid-19 vaccines that the health ministry recognises as clinically genuine, safe and effective," he said.

Anyolo said the ministry should however take all the necessary steps required to affirm to the public that the vaccines are safe and effective in order to encourage people to be vaccinated.

"In the absence of other means to stop the covid-19 pandemic, the common good calls for vaccination, primarily to protect the weakest and most exposed," he said.

Anyolo said in this regard, receiving the available covid-19 vaccines ought to be understood as an act of charity towards other community members.

"We note that vaccination is not as a rule, an obligation and therefore it can only be done on voluntary basis and at the discretion of an individual after giving informed consent," he said.

He added, "We, therefore, appeal to the consciences of Kenyans to accept the covid-19 vaccines in the light of the assurance given by the Ministry of Health".

The Bishop said for those who for reasons of conscience or otherwise decline the vaccination must avoid becoming vehicles for the transmission of the disease.

He said they should strictly adhere to all containment protocols put in place. The star

Family dynamics changing for Pokot women who earn money by selling decorative beads internationally

Nomadic pastoralist women who used to be dependent on their husbands are creatively changing the lives of their families in Kenya’s West Pokot County.

Women were not allowed to own property according to the traditions of the Pokot people, but that is quickly changing as women now own land, cattle, and farms.

“In our culture, every role from children to young boys and girls to adults…men and women are properly characterized and well defined. All household activities are to be done by women and girls, including farming and fetching water and firewood for cooking,” said Mercy Chelimo, who gave Anadolu Agency a brief history of the Pokot people's traditions.

“Women were not allowed to participate in key decision making at the family or community level, as per our traditions. We belonged to our men. But now we are in 2021. Things have changed. Now women head households and feed their families from their own hard work.”

Chelimo, who is part of a community project that strings beads in patterns of mostly the birds, said such initiatives are changing the narrative where patriarchal norms which do not favor women are becoming a thing of the past.

“We make very beautiful patterns from goat hides and beads. Most of our diets are meat-based because we herd a lot of livestock. We also eat termites, mushrooms, roots, wild fruits, and milk and honey,” she said.

“So we have a lot of dried and treated animal hide. It is from the animal hides that we string our beads to create almost any pattern we think of, though of late, we are making birds as patterns -- birds which are found here. We have realized the international market likes such designs,” she added.

Monetizing traditional art

Since time immemorial, body art has been part and parcel of the Pokot people, with beads, colors, patterns, size, and mass being used to symbolize a woman’s beauty and family social rank in the community.

“What we have done is set up a women’s group and we have changed our traditional art into a means of earning an income in a modern society that loves our tradition, finds it beautiful, and shows the real traditional heritage of the Kenyan people,” said Cherotich Letuw, a member of the Chemale Women's group. “We have monetized something so old, so full of culture, so traditional to fit into modern society.”

Letuw said of late, women are making a lot of bird designs from the numerous bird species that can be found in Kenya.

“We are not only raising awareness about our birds but also promoting tourism by selling a taste of Kenya even before they get here. Most of our clients are from international markets. The beads can be sewed on paper for letters and official documents, on clothes, or even on our traditional animal hides,” she said. 

Women's empowerment

From profits that the women have made from business, Mercy Kiyapyap said that “women have become empowered. They have started their own businesses such as beekeeping, small shops that sell household goods, groceries and even clothes.”

With empowered women, cattle rustling, which was common among the nomadic pastoralist community, has been reduced as the pressure on households solely supported by nomadic pastoralism has reduced.

“We wanted to improve the income that women can get from the business. We have had a drought this year and it is because of such businesses that we can eat and drink clean water. I constructed tents at my organization called the Chemale Women’s Group where women come and do the beadwork form,” said Kiyapyap.

At the group’s center, women share designs, styles, and materials. When they go back home, they sell their merchandise at local curio shops owned by women or prepare large orders which are shipped to international markets.

Challenges

The coronavirus is currently the main challenge as it has choked international markets that the women depended on.

With a vaccine rollout, the women have seen business starting to go back to where it was before the pandemic.

“Very many orders are now coming in, as people cannot travel here due to some restriction. They prefer ordering online. Though tourism used to pay really well, orders are better than nothing,” said Kiyapyap.

Kiyapyap, a former winner of the Women’s Creativity in Rural Life Award given by the Women’s World Summit Foundation (WWSF), which aims to draw international attention to laureates' contributions to sustainable development, household food security and peace, said a current drought in the region has killed much of the livestock, showing the need to support such women’s groups which are currently supporting families.

“Things are not like in the old days. Women are stronger. We are a new generation. Despite not going to school, most of us are using the resources that we have created to feed our families. The beads are now expensive. The drought is also limiting how often we meet. People are scattered. There also has been insecurity in our area, but things are getting better,” said Kiyapyap.

“As the world celebrates Women’s Day, my message to all women is, whether you are illiterate or not, your efforts are all which you need to support each other. Women should come out to support other women in business and other affairs, like my mission and my women are to support each other through creativity. I urge them to do the same,” she said.

Kiyapyap also urged the government to support local women's groups’ projects which are sustaining households in the Pokot area, reducing insecurity, and helping to promote the Pokot culture globally.

More than 1,000 women have been registered as members of the Chemale Women's Group. By Andrew Wasike, Anadolu Agency

Piers Morgan stormed out of the GMB studio. (ITV)

 

Watch: Piers Morgan walks off Good Morning Britain following heated discussion with Alex Beresford over Harry and Meghan interview 

 
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Piers Morgan stormed out of the Good Morning Britain studio during a row with fellow presenter Alex Beresford over Meghan Markle.

The pair were discussing the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's interview with Oprah Winfrey, which aired on ITV on Monday night, when former weather presenter Beresford accused Morgan of having a vendetta against Meghan because she had ended their friendship after becoming engaged to Prince Harry.

Beresford said: "I understand that you've got a personal relationship with Meghan Markle, or had one, and she cut you off. She's entitled to cut you off. Has she said anything about you since she cut you off? I don't think she has. But yet you continue to trash her." 

Morgan got up from his seat at the GMB desk and began to walk out saying: "Okay, I'm done with this. Sorry. See you later. Can't do this." He muttered something to Beresford as he passed him.

Read more: Piers Morgan slammed over Royal Family racism claims

Beresford then told Susanna Reid and viewers: "This is absolutely diabolical behaviour. Piers spouts off on a regular basis.

"He has the ability to come here and talk from a position where he doesn't fully understand."

The show then went to a break, with Reid saying: "I think we should just pause there."

Shortly before he stormed out Morgan had interrupted Beresford, asking, "Do you mind waiting?"

Beresford had rolled his eyes as he replied: "Actually no I don't, carry on."

Alex Beresford is single after splitting from his wife. (Getty Images)
Alex Beresford accused Piers Morgan of trashing Meghan Markle. (Getty Images)

Morgan returned to the studio to continue the discussion about racism with Beresford, Reid and Dr Hilary Jones.

At the end of the segment Morgan made a joke about healing family rifts in relation to himself and Beresford.

Morgan has now tweeted in defence of his actions: "I just prefer not to sit there listening to colleagues call me diabolical." 

Morgan has previously spoken about how he was friends with Meghan Markle when she first came to the UK as an actor and star of Suits. But when she began dating Prince Harry she cut the former tabloid editor out of her social contacts.

Beresford grew up in Bristol and began his career on ITV West. He has appeared as a weather presenter on GMB since the show launched and began appearing as a guest presenter in August last year.

Read more: GMB weather presenter Alex Beresford lonely in lockdown after split from wife

Piers Morgan (ITV)
Susanna Reid had to keep the peace after Piers Morgan stormed out. (ITV)

Morgan has been continually outspoken in his condemnation of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's decision to leave the royal family.

He has been dismissive of Meghan's claims she received racist treatment by the British media and also mocked her claims in her interview with Oprah that she had suicidal thoughts while pregnant with Archie.

Mental health charity Mind released a statement on Monday night condemning Morgan's comments. 

Mind said: "We were disappointed and concerned to see Piers Morgan's comments on not believing Meghan's experiences about suicidal thoughts today. It's vital that when people reach out for support or share their experiences of ill mental health that they are treated with dignity, respect and empathy. We are in conversations with ITV about this at the moment."

When life is difficult, Samaritans are here – day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch. Yahoo News

The explosion at 4 pm local time was due to the “negligent handling of dynamite” in the military barracks located in the neighbourhood of Mondong Nkuantoma in Bata. AP Photo

A series of explosions at a military barracks in Equatorial Guinea killed at least 20 people and wounded more than 600 others on Sunday, authorities said.President Teodoro Obiang Nguema said the explosion at 4 pm local time was due to the “negligent handling of dynamite” in the military barracks located in the neighbourhood of Mondong Nkuantoma in Bata.

“The impact of the explosion caused damage in almost all the houses and buildings in Bata," the president said in a statement, which was in Spanish.

The defence ministry released a statement late Sunday saying that a fire at a weapons depot in the barracks caused the explosion of high-calibre ammunition. It said the provisional toll was 20 dead and 600 injured, adding that the cause of the explosions will be fully investigated.

 

The country's president said the fire may have been due residents burning the fields surrounding the barracks.

State television showed a huge plume of smoke rising above the explosion site as crowds fled, with many people crying out “we don't know what happened, but it is all destroyed.”

Images on local media seen by The Associated Press show people screaming and crying running through the streets amid debris and smoke. Roofs of houses were ripped off and wounded people were being carried into a hospital.

Equatorial Guinea, an African country of 1.3 million people located south of Cameroon, was a colony of Spain until it gained its independence in 1968. Bata has roughly 175,000 inhabitants.

Earlier, the Health Ministry had tweeted that 17 were killed and the president's statement mentioned 15 dead.

The Health Ministry made a call for blood donors and volunteer health workers to go to the Regional Hospital de Bata, one of three hospitals treating the wounded.

The ministry said its health workers were treating the injured at the site of the tragedy and in medical facilities, but feared people were still missing under the rubble.

The blasts were a shock for the oil rich Central African nation. Foreign Minister Simeón Oyono Esono Angue met with foreign ambassadors and asked for aid.

“It is important for us to ask our brother countries for their assistance in this lamentable situation since we have a health emergency (due to COVID-19) and the tragedy in Bata,” he said. Outlook

 

A doctor calling into TVGE, who went by his first name, Florentino, said the situation was a “moment of crisis” and that the hospitals were overcrowded. He said a sports center set up for COVID-19 patients would be used to receive minor cases.

Radio station, Radio Macuto, said on Twitter that people were being evacuated within four kilometers of the city because the fumes might be harmful.

 

Following the blast, the Spanish Embassy in Equatorial Guinea recommended on Twitter that “Spanish nationals stay in their homes."

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