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Excitement and emotion aboard a flight from London to New York as travel resumes

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November 8, 2021

By Carlos Barria

ABOARD AA 101 (Reuters) – In row 22 of a full American Airlines flight from London to New York on Monday morning, Christopher and Zoe Perrotton fastened their seat belts.

AA 101 was preparing to take off from London’s Heathrow Airport, heading to New York after the United States on Monday lifted https://www.reuters.com/world/us/international-travellers-head-united-states-flights-reopen-2021-11-08 travel restrictions slapped on much of the world as the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020.

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The Perrottons, both British human resources executives, were married last August, but had not been able to celebrate yet. Just over eight hours later, they touched down at John F. Kennedy International Airport on a sunny New York day.

“This is a bit of a mini honeymoon,” said Christopher, 36, as they landed. “America said they were going to open up, and we thought on the off-chance we booked some flights to New York.”

Their plan for six nights in the Big Apple? “Eating and drinking as much we can,” Christopher said with a smile at baggage claim.

The travel ban https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-braces-surge-vaccinated-international-travelers-2021-11-07, first imposed in early 2020, had barred access to most non-U.S. citizens travelling from 33 countries – including China, India and much of Europe – and had also restricted overland entry from Mexico and Canada.

The United States lagged many other countries in its decision to finally lift the travel curbs, made possible by the rollout of coronavirus vaccines and critical to reviving tourism around the globe.

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Months of pent-up demand triggered a major spike in bookings on Monday, with travelers required to show official proof of vaccination and a recent, negative viral test.

Brad, a 34-year-old American who lives in England, was waiting for his British partner Kelly, 33, to join him, after he’d flown to the United States earlier to visit his parents. Both gave only their first names.

Kelly, who had not travelled to the United States during the pandemic at all, chided Brad about her flight experience.

“It was very busy,” she told him at arrivals. “I kept hearing how your flights were always empty!”

The flight was smooth, said British couple Jill and Stephen Brownbill, who had crossed the Atlantic to meet their 9-week-old grandson.

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“We’ve waited so long for this,” Stephen said after kissing the little boy at arrivals as Jill held him. “Technology is an amazing thing, but this – there’s no comparison.”

(Writing by Alexandra Ulmer, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

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Three missionaries released in Haiti following October kidnapping

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December 7, 2021

By Katharine Jackson

(Reuters) – Three missionaries who were kidnapped in Haiti in October have been released, the U.S. State Department and the Ohio-based missionary group that organized the group’s trip to the Caribbean nation said on Monday.

“We are thankful to God that three more hostages were released last night. Those who were released are safe and seem to be in good spirits,” Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement.

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U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price on Monday confirmed the release, adding that the United States is continuing to work to secure the release of the others.

Haitian National Police spokesman Garry Desrosiers said the three were released on Sunday night. He declined to give additional details, citing the security of the remaining hostages.

Sixteen Americans and one Canadian, including five children, were abducted after visiting an orphanage. The incident has highlighted Haiti’s dire kidnapping problem, which has worsened in recent months amid economic troubles and political upheaval.

Two other ministry group members were released last month.

(Reporting by Katharine Jackson in Washington; Additional reporting by Gessika Thomas in Port-au-Prince; Editing by Susan Heavey and Matthew Lewis)

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Dutch court to rule on Palestinian’s case against Israeli defence minister

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December 7, 2021

By Stephanie van den Berg

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – An appeals court in the Netherlands rules on Tuesday in a case alleging war crimes against Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, who is blamed by a Dutch Palestinian for the loss of six relatives in an Israeli air strike on Gaza in 2014.

Ismail Ziada filed the civil case against Gantz and another former senior Israeli military official, seeking unspecified damages under Dutch universal jurisdiction rules. His case was thrown out by a lower Dutch court in January 2020.

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Universal jurisdiction allows countries to prosecute serious offences such as war crimes and torture no matter where they were committed.

But the lower court ruled that the principles of universal jurisdiction could be applied for individual criminal responsibility, but not in civil cases.

Ziada appealed, arguing that universal jurisdiction should be applied in civil cases if the alleged conduct involved serious violations of international humanitarian law. He asked the appeals judges to reverse the decision, which effectively granted Gantz immunity from prosecution.

Gantz, a career soldier turned politician, was commander-in-chief of the Israeli armed forces during a war against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip in 2014, when the incident took place.

About 2,200 Palestinians are estimated to have been killed, up to 1,500 of them civilians, in the conflict, according to U.N. figures. Ziada said he lost relatives when his family home in Gaza was bombed during a June 2014 Israeli air strike. On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers and five civilians were killed.

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Gaza is controlled by the Palestinian Islamist Hamas movement, regarded by the West as a terrorist organization. Israel says Hamas puts civilians in harm’s way by deploying fighters and weaponry inside densely populated areas of Gaza. 

    Human rights groups have accused both sides of war crimes in the 2014 conflict. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is currently investigating alleged war crimes committed on Palestinian territory since June 2014 by both Israeli defence forces and Palestinian armed groups.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg in The Hague with additional reporting by Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem; Editing by Anthony Deutsch and Mark Heinrich)

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Global finance system partly to blame for inequality – World Bank’s Malpass

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December 7, 2021

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – World Bank President David Malpass on Monday said fiscal and monetary policies were operating in “uncharted territory” since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and may be contributing to a sharp rise in global inequality and poverty.

Malpass told a roundtable hosted by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang the number of people in extreme poverty had increased by over 100 million since the beginning of the pandemic even as global spending has increased to an all-time record.

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Advanced economies have rebounded, while the poorest countries had seen only a weak rebound, or none at all, he said. This was causing “tragic reversals” in median incomes, women’s empowerment and nutrition, he said, and inflation, supply chain bottlenecks, and high energy prices were aggravating these trends.

“Part of the inequality problem is global finance itself and the unequal structure of the stimulus,” Malpass said, noting that prevailing sovereign debt, fiscal and monetary policies were adding to inequality.

Malpass said monetary policy in the advanced economies had long focused on reserve requirement ratios and limited growth in bank reserves to achieve stability in currencies and prices, an approach still used by China.

Other major central banks had switched to a “post-monetarism system” of using very large amounts of excess bank reserves to purchase and hold long-duration bonds and other assets, which he said provided price support for a highly select group of assets.

That approach, he said, excluded small businesses and developing countries, while restraining policy through regulation of liquidity and bank capitalization ratios.

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Fiscal policy was also channeling resources to narrow groups within major borrowers, while leaving others behind, and sovereign debt policies were contributing to inequality.

Malpass repeated his call for greater transparency in debt contracts and a freeze in debt payments for countries with unsustainable debt. He said creditors should move away from collateral and escrow arrangements.

“As one of the largest creditors of developing countries, China’s active participation and strong voice in debt reduction efforts are very much needed and would benefit all participants by encouraging sustainable investment and debt,” he said.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by David Gregorio)

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