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Northern Ireland: Women Ask to Be Prosecuted for Taking Abortion Pills to Protest Region’s 1861 Law

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Northern Ireland: Women Ask to Be Prosecuted for Taking Abortion Pills to Protest Region's 1861 Law

Three women have handed themselves into a police station in Derry, stating they have procured and taken illegal abortion pills and requesting that they be prosecuted, in protest at Northern Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws.

Dozens of pro-choice campaigners gathered at Derry police station in support of the women as they handed themselves in for questioning. The women hope to trigger a trial to showcase the archaic nature of the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act – the legislation which makes abortion in Northern Ireland illegal except in extremely rare circumstances.

Their action was prompted by anger at the prosecution last month of a young woman who bought pills over the internet to induce an abortion. In the first known abortion pill-related prosecution, the 21-year-old woman pleaded guilty to procuring her own abortion by using a poison, and to supplying a poison with intent to procure a miscarriage. She was given a three-month sentence, suspended for a year. Her barrister told the court that had she lived anywhere else in the UK she would not have found herself before the court. A second woman is due to appear in court in Northern Ireland in June, accused of procuring the pills to give to a teenage girl, understood to be her daughter.

Diana King, Collette Devlin and Kitty O’Kane were accompanied to the police station by their solicitor, each with a written statement setting out why they procured the drugs; they were due to be questioned immediately.

King, 72, a retired social worker, said she felt compelled to make a stand because she felt so angry about the prosecutions. “It is unforgivable how women are being treated. I am handing myself in to the police to inform them that I have procured the nine-week abortion pills on several occasions,” she said before making her way to the police station.

King said she would argue that she had not committed any offence because the drugs are not “poisonous substances, but are seen by the World Health Organization as essential medicines”. “We know that going to jail is a possibility,” she said, “but we will be saying that we don’t think that we have done anything wrong.”

Women in Northern Ireland who want to terminate a pregnancy have two options. If they have £1,000-£2,000 to spare they can travel to England or Wales for an abortion; Northern Ireland residents are not eligible for the procedure on the NHS and have to pay for private treatment, as well as the cost of the flight and hotels. Alternatively women at an early stage of pregnancy can buy mifepristone and misoprostol pills online, for around £60; the pills are considered safe and reliable in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, and can be supplied by Dutch charities such as Women on Web.

Women who pay to travel are not breaking any law, but the women who cannot afford treatment in the UK and turn instead to the pills are liable to to be prosecuted, which has led campaigners to argue that there is one law for the rich and another for the poor.

“The court cases have created a climate of fear. There are women who are nervous about having the pills delivered to their home address, so it’s my name and address on the packet, and we get it to them later,” King said, adding that she saw the action as “absolutely no big deal”. She has actively campaigned for over a decade to have the UK’s 1967 Abortion Act to be extended to Northern Ireland. “If you live here, you have to do this otherwise you would go mad. It is a way of standing in solidarity with the women who are being hauled into court, and showing how shameful it is for the law to go after women in the most vulnerable situations.”

Over 200 campaigners last year signed an open letter, declaring that they had procured the tablets for themselves or other women, and that they were all willing to be arrested. There has been no move to arrest them, which is why King, along with Devlin and O’Kane, who are both retired teachers, decided to take the proactive step of turning up at the police station. The three women put themselves forward ahead of younger women, because they no longer have jobs that might be affected by a criminal record.

Goretti Horgan, of the Alliance for Choice, a pro-choice campaign group, said the police had until now appeared reluctant to act on the activists’ admissions that they had broken the law. “The law is being broken on a daily basis, but they don’t want activists on trial. They don’t want to arrest anyone except the isolated, vulnerable women, who they have to arrest because someone has reported them to the police,” she said. She said Northern Ireland’s 155-year-old law was at odds with medical advances.

King said she expected that the police would send a report to the director of public prosecutions for Northern Ireland, and a decision would be taken at a later stage over whether to prosecute.

Entrepreneur, contributor, writer, and editor of Sostre News. With a powerful new bi-lingual speaking generation by his side, Sostre News is becoming the preferred site for the latest in Politics, Entertainment, Sports, Culture, Tech, Breaking and World News.

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Three Disney World Employees Among 17 Arrested in Florida Child Sex Sting

Three Disney World employees were among the 17 people arrested in a child sex sting operation in Florida, law enforcement officials announced on Wednesday.

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Three Disney World Employees Among 17 Arrested in Florida Child Sex Sting

Three Disney World employees were among the 17 people arrested in a child sex sting operation in Florida, law enforcement officials announced on Wednesday.

In the operation, dubbed “Operation Child Protector,” undercover officers posed as 13- and 14-year-old children on social media and online dating apps between July 27 and Aug. 1.

The undercovers made contact with each of the suspects before proposing they meet at a location in Polk County, where they were busted.

In total, the arrests led to 49 felony and two misdemeanor charges. Those arrested were aged 26 to 47. All were from Central Florida except for one 33-year-old man from California.

“What you see on this board … are deviants. Incredible deviants,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a press conference on Tuesday, motioning to photos of the alleged pervs. “They travel from as far away as Clewiston, Florida. One even came from Los Angeles.”

“Much to their chagrin, instead of meeting with young children, they were met by law enforcement officers who were online undercover posing as children.”

Kenneth Javier Aquino, 26, a lifeguard at Animal Kingdom Lodge at Disney World, was arrested while still wearing his Disney polo shirt and swimsuit, according to the sheriff’s office.

Aquino engaged in an online conversation on social media with an officer, posing as a 13-year-old girl, authorities said. He then asked the “girl” to send photos, and sent her an explicit video of himself, police said.

Aquino told officers he is a Navy veteran and has a pregnant girlfriend.

Jonathan McGrew, a 34-year-old custodian at Disney World, was nabbed by an undercover officer posing as a 13-year-old girl.

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McGrew allegedly told the “girl” that he wanted her to come over and have sex with him and his girlfriend, 29-year-old Savannah Lawrence, who also works as a custodian at tourist mecca.

McGrew sent her explicit videos of him and Lawrence performing sexual acts on each other, authorities said.

A rep for Disney World didn’t immediately return a message.

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China Reports First Human Death from Monkey B Virus

China has reported the first human infection and death in the country caused by a rare infectious disease found in primates known as the Monkey B virus.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said a 53-year-old veterinary surgeon who worked in a research institute specializing in nonhuman primate breeding in Beijing dissected two monkeys in March and became ill about a month later.

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China Reports First Human Death from Monkey B Virus

China has reported the first human infection and death in the country caused by a rare infectious disease found in primates known as the Monkey B virus.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said a 53-year-old veterinary surgeon who worked in a research institute specializing in nonhuman primate breeding in Beijing dissected two monkeys in March and became ill about a month later.

He began experiencing nausea, vomiting, fever and neurological issues, and died in May.

Blood and saliva samples were tested and researchers in April found evidence of the Monkey B virus, also known as the herpes B virus.

Researchers said a male doctor and female nurse who were in close contact with the victim tested negative for the virus.

The Monkey B virus is prevalent among macaque monkeys but infection among humans is extremely rare. Since the virus was identified in 1932, just 50 cases have been reported, with the majority of those in North America. Untreated B virus infections in humans are serious, however, with a fatality rate of about 80 percent.

Symptoms include fever, shortness of breath, and progress to more serious complications such as swelling of the brain and spinal cord.

Laboratory workers and veterinarians in close contact with the animals are most at risk as people typically get infected with the virus if they are bitten or scratched by an infected macaque, or have contact with the monkey’s eyes, nose or mouth.

But the virus is unlikely to mutate in a way that poses a problem to the general population. Just one case of human-to-human transmission of the virus has ever been documented.

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U.S. Remembers 9/11 Terrorist Attacks as The Pandemic Changes Tribute Traditions

Americans are commemorating 9/11 with tributes that have been altered by coronavirus precautions and woven into the presidential campaign, drawing both President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden to pay respects at the same memorial without crossing paths.

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U.S. Remembers 9/11 Terrorist Attacks as The Pandemic Changes Tribute Traditions

Americans are commemorating 9/11 with tributes that have been altered by coronavirus precautions and woven into the presidential campaign, drawing both President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden to pay respects at the same memorial without crossing paths.

In New York, a dispute over coronavirus-safety precautions is leading to split-screen remembrances Friday, one at the Sept. 11 memorial plaza at the World Trade Center and another on a nearby corner. The Pentagon’s observance will be so restricted that not even victims’ families can attend, though small groups can visit the memorial there later in the day.

Trump and Biden are both headed — at different times — to the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Trump is speaking at the morning ceremony, the White House said. Biden plans to pay respects there in the afternoon after attending the observance at the 9/11 memorial in New York.

Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence is also due at ground zero — and then at the alternate ceremony a few blocks away.

In short, the anniversary of 9/11 is a complicated occasion in a maelstrom of a year, as the U.S. grapples with a health crisis, searches its soul over racial injustice and prepares to choose a leader to chart a path forward.

Still, 9/11 families say it’s important for the nation to pause and remember the hijacked-plane attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people at the trade center, at the Pentagon and near Shanksville on Sept. 11, 2001, shaping American policy, perceptions of safety and daily life in places from airports to office buildings.

“I know that the heart of America beats on 9/11 and, of course, thinks about that tragic day. I don’t think that people forget,” says Anthoula Katsimatides, who lost her brother John and is now on the board of the National Sept. 11 Memorial & Museum.

Friday will mark Trump’s second time observing the 9/11 anniversary at the Flight 93 memorial, where he made remarks in 2018. Biden spoke at the memorial’s dedication in 2011, when he was vice president.

The ground zero ceremony in New York has a longstanding custom of not allowing politicians to speak, though they can attend. Biden did so as vice president in 2010, and Trump as a candidate in 2016.

Though the candidates will be focused on the commemorations, the political significance of their focus on Shanksville is hard to ignore: Pennsylvania is a must-win state for both. Trump won it by less than a percentage point in 2016.

Around the country, some communities have canceled 9/11 commemorations because of the pandemic, while others are going ahead, sometimes with modifications.

The New York memorial is changing one of its ceremony’s central traditions: having relatives read the names of the dead, often adding poignant tributes.

Thousands of family members are still invited. But they’ll hear a recording of the names from speakers spread around the vast plaza, a plan that memorial leaders felt would avoid close contact at a stage but still allow families to remember their loved ones at the place where they died.

But some victims’ relatives felt the change robbed the observance of its emotional impact. A different 9/11-related group, the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, set up its own, simultaneous ceremony a few blocks away, saying there’s no reason that people can’t recite names while keeping a safe distance.

The two organizations also tussled over the Tribute in Light, a pair of powerful beams that shine into the night sky near the trade center and evoke its fallen twin towers. The 9/11 memorial initially canceled the display, citing virus-safety concerns for the installation crew. After the Tunnel to Towers Foundation vowed to put up the lights instead, the memorial changed course with help from its chairman, former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Tunnel to Towers, meanwhile, arranged to display single beams for the first time at the Shanksville memorial and the Pentagon.

Over the years, the anniversary also has become a day for volunteering. Because of the pandemic, the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance organization is encouraging people this year to make donations or take other actions that can be accomplished at home.

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