Joe Biden to hold remembrance ceremony for 400k Covid victims


Joe Biden will try to divert attention from President Donald Trump’s White House exit as the president-elect arrives in Washington D.C. Tuesday for a memorial honoring the American lives lost to coronavirus the night before his inauguration.

The former vice president will participate in a send-off event in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware before he and his wife Jill Biden depart for the nation’s capital.

Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris will host a ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool on Tuesday evening to honor the nearly 400,000 American lives lost to the pandemic.

Tuesday’s events are an attempt to deflect from a potentially messy exit from the White House, as Trump will not participate in the usual pomp and circumstance of exchange of power – such as holding a private conversation with the incoming president, leaving a letter of advice or attending his replacement’s inauguration.

He also could face a split-screen moment Wednesday as the House prepares to deliver the article of impeachment against Trump to the Senate – and several Democratic senators are eager to move forward with the proceedings. 

Biden’s team is already trying to set a more serious and sympathetic tone in its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The attempt to turn the focus from Trump to COVID will begin on Tuesday night.

Biden and Harris will lead a ‘moment of unity and remembrance’ for the dead at 5:30 p.m. at the Lincoln Memorial. The reflecting pool in front of the memorial will be lit up for the first time, to honor the deceased.

President-elect Joe Biden will arrive in Washington D.C. on Tuesday after speaking at a send-off in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware

Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in Washington will host a memorial to the American lives lost to COVID-19

Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in Washington will host a memorial to the American lives lost to COVID-19 

The two will make remarks from the Lincoln Memorial honoring the nearly 400,000 dead as the reflecting pool in front of the memorial will be illuminated

The two will make remarks from the Lincoln Memorial honoring the nearly 400,000 dead as the reflecting pool in front of the memorial will be illuminated

Inauguration will take place as thousands of National Guard troops patrol D.C. after the storming of the Capitol building earlier this month led to a slew of threats against lawmakers and the incoming administration

Inauguration will take place as thousands of National Guard troops patrol D.C. after the storming of the Capitol building earlier this month led to a slew of threats against lawmakers and the incoming administration

Unprecedented: Biden's inauguration takes place with D.C. in lockdown and 25,000 National Guard troops deployed in the wake of the MAGA riot

Unprecedented: Biden’s inauguration takes place with D.C. in lockdown and 25,000 National Guard troops deployed in the wake of the MAGA riot

The president-elect is asking Americans to light a candle in their window in honor of those who lost their lives to the deadly pandemic.

It is unclear if members of the Trump administration will attend the memorial.

On Wednesday, Biden will be sworn into office – and with the lack of any traditional greetings by the outgoing president, Biden will use his time before the inauguration ceremony to go to church.

Then on Thursday, he will attend a prayer service at Washington National Cathedral, which is expected to be dedicated to those who have died of COVID.

As of Tuesday morning, 399,003 Americans have lost their lives to the virus and more than 24 million have been infected since early last year.

With the traditions of inauguration upended by a combination of Trump’s refusal to meet Biden at the White House, massive security in the wake of the MAGA riots, and Biden’s insistence that the event be COVID safe, his team have carved out a new version which they hope will help take the focus off the outgoing president.

That will be a difficult task: Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate could begin as early as 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, minutes after Biden is sworn in on the steps of the Capitol and exactly two weeks after the MAGA mob stormed it.

Nearly 200,000 mini American flags were placed on the National Mall this week to take the place of a live audience for the inauguration.

With the mix of coronavirus and threats facing the incoming president and his administration, the ceremony was closed to the public and will instead consist of a small, invite-only socially-distanced audience. 

Preparations: Biden will be sworn-in Wednesday afternoon on the steps of the Capitol in an unusual private ceremony in light of the pandemic and emerging threats. The inauguration will be void of any of the traditional symbols of the transfer of power from one president to the next

Preparations: Biden will be sworn-in Wednesday afternoon on the steps of the Capitol in an unusual private ceremony in light of the pandemic and emerging threats. The inauguration will be void of any of the traditional symbols of the transfer of power from one president to the next

Nearly 200,000 miniature American flags, dubbed the 'filed of flags', were placed on the National Mall in lieu of a live audience for the inauguration

Nearly 200,000 miniature American flags, dubbed the ‘filed of flags’, were placed on the National Mall in lieu of a live audience for the inauguration

President Donald Trump will not participate in any of the usual traditions of transfer of power, like meeting with Biden the morning of inauguration on Wednesday or attending his swearing in

President Donald Trump will not participate in any of the usual traditions of transfer of power, like meeting with Biden the morning of inauguration on Wednesday or attending his swearing in

Instead, Biden, who is regularly seen attending Sunday mass at his home parish of St Joseph on the Brandywine in Wilmington, Delaware, will go to mass in Washington on Wednesday morning before his inauguration

Instead, Biden, who is regularly seen attending Sunday mass at his home parish of St Joseph on the Brandywine in Wilmington, Delaware, will go to mass in Washington on Wednesday morning before his inauguration

Wednesday morning, Trump is set to leave the White House for Mar-a-Lago on board Air Force One. His demands for a military sendoff at Joint Base Andrews were nixed by the Pentagon.

Until now it had been traditional for the outgoing president and first lady to welcome the president-elect and his wife to the White House on the morning of inauguration, with the two leaders then going down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol in the presidential limousine. 

That was what happened in 2017, with the Trumps first going to a prayer service at St John’s Episcopal Church on Lafayette Square opposite the White House – later to become notorious as the site of his Bible photo-op in June 2020 – before being welcomed to the White House by the Obamas.

But the Bidens will not be welcomed at the White House and instead, the president-elect will go to Mass. 

It is unclear which church he will attend on Tuesday. Only one Catholic church, St Patrick’s close to Metro Center in downtown D.C. will be inside the massive security zone being thrown around the White House, National Mall and Capitol.

After being sworn in, Biden will once again turn to remembering the dead, this time fallen troops, by driving to Arlington National Cemetery with former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Jimmy Carter, 96 and his wife Rosalynn, who have spent the pandemic largely at their home in Plains, GA, will not attend.

The ceremony at Arlington may provide a jarring split screen moment if the Senate trial of Trump begins at 1pm.

Tradition: This was the scene in 2017 when the Obamas welcomed the Trumps to the White House before the inauguration of the 45th president. Instead the Bidens will first go to the White House after he is sworn in

Tradition: This was the scene in 2017 when the Obamas welcomed the Trumps to the White House before the inauguration of the 45th president. Instead the Bidens will first go to the White House after he is sworn in

Traditional solemnity: Presidents usually go to Arlington National Cemetery on the day of their inaugurations with the vice president - as Obama did with Biden in 2013 - but this time Biden will be joined by the former presidents coming to the inauguration, Bush, Clinton and Obama

Traditional solemnity: Presidents usually go to Arlington National Cemetery on the day of their inaugurations with the vice president – as Obama did with Biden in 2013 – but this time Biden will be joined by the former presidents coming to the inauguration, Bush, Clinton and Obama

Show business: Lady Gaga will sing the National Anthem at the inauguration and Tom Hanks will host a primetime TV special taking the place of balls and parties

Show business: Lady Gaga will sing the National Anthem at the inauguration and Tom Hanks will host a primetime TV special taking the place of balls and parties

Show business: Lady Gaga will sing the National Anthem at the inauguration and Tom Hanks will host a primetime TV special taking the place of balls and parties

It will also serve to underline the support for the peaceful transfer of power from the former presidents who include Bush the sole living Republican former president.  

And with the round of balls and concerts abandoned, Wednesday night will instead see a TV show hosted by Tom Hanks at 8.30pm on NBC, ABC, CBS and PBS as well as CNN and MSNBC.

The day after inauguration has traditionally featured a prayer service at National Cathedral but this time is likely to focus on praying for a nation traumatized by COVID and the Capitol riot.

Biden’s non-traditional inauguration will be the start of a first day in office in which he will take an axe to many of Trump’s signature policies. 

Among the promises Biden has made include mask mandates, striking down the travel ban on predominantly Muslim countries, and having the United States rejoin the Paris Climate Accord.

While it’s an ambitious plan, Biden plans on signing a handful of executive orders on his first day in office, per a memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain.

One of the executive orders Biden will sign is a reversal of the travel ban, which first affected people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen when it was implemented in January 2017.

The order has been altered slightly since then, but has largely withstood legal challenges.

Another executive order Biden is planning on signing on his first day is an order that will have the United States rejoin the Paris Climate Accord. 

According to his chief of staff, Biden has plans to sign up to about a dozen executive orders

According to his chief of staff, Biden has plans to sign up to about a dozen executive orders

The agreement signed in 2016 is a global pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emission and enact other environmentally-conscious policies.

Trump had the United States withdraw from the agreement in November 2019, becoming the most significant nation to no longer be party to the pact, drawing the ire of the rest of the globe.

‘During the campaign, President-elect Biden pledged to take immediate action to start addressing these crises and build back better,’ Klain wrote in a memo obtained by CNN.

‘As president, he will keep those promises and sign dozens of executive orders, presidential memoranda, and directives to Cabinet agencies in fulfillment of the promises he made.’

Other executive orders Biden wants to sign right away include a halt of evictions during the pandemic, a pause on student loan payments during the pandemic, and a mandate requiring the wearing of face masks on federal properties and in federally-controlled jurisdictions, which includes interstate planes, trains and buses.

Biden also has listed a thorough immigration policy and a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill among his top priorities.

Biden previously said he would roll back the Migrant Protection Protocols on his first day, which turn away many Central American refugees at the Mexican border.

Whether or not he does so could become critical in the coming days, with reports of Honduran migrants working their way through Guatemala and slowly towards the US border emerging.

In addition to his many executive orders and policy priorities, Biden also has his eye on his first overseas trip as president.

The Sunday Telegraph reports that Biden is planning on making the United Kingdom the site of his first trip outside of North America, which would be considered a boost to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.  

‘Joe’s view will be that they’ll have the destiny of the world on their shoulders so he’ll want to overcome any political differences,’ a friend of Biden’s said to the Telegraph, in regards to Biden’s previous opposition to Brexit.

A United Nations climate change conference is scheduled to take place in Glasgow, Scotland in the fall of 2021, meaning Biden could end up visiting the United Kingdom more than once this year.  

Trump and Johnson tapped into similar sentiments within their countries, but the relationship between the two nations during their tenures has not been rock solid.

Because of Brexit, the two nations are working on a new trade deal, which isn’t expected to be in place before 2022.

Trump’s first foreign visit as the president took him to several countries in May 2017 starting in Saudi Arabia, where he signed a $110 billion arms deal.  

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EXCLUSIVE: Leaked transcript shows NY church’s attempt to block Child Victims Act


When Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the longtime leader of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, introduced the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program to the public in Oct. 2016, he expressed his hope that offering financial settlements to the victims of sexual abuse by clergy would both “promote healing” and “bring closure” after more than a decade of constant scandal.

When Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer Dolan appointed to administer the program in New York City and Long Island privately pitched it more than a year later to the representatives of three Upstate New York dioceses, however, he suggested that Dolan was motivated in part by something else: politics.

“I think the Cardinal feels that it is providing his lawyers in Albany with additional persuasive powers not to reopen the statute,” Feinberg said of the program. “We are already doing this, why bother? Don’t reopen the statute. We are taking care of our own problem. I think that is guiding Cardinal Dolan as well.”

ABC News has obtained the transcript of a confidential Dec. 2017 teleconference in which Feinberg, a prominent mediation expert, alongside his colleague Camille Biros, heralded the benefits of the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program Dolan established to leaders and lawyers from the Dioceses of Syracuse, Buffalo and Rochester.

Dolan himself is not listed among its participants and does not appear to have been on the call, but Feinberg repeatedly claimed to be familiar with Dolan’s thinking.

Looming over the discussion was the then-ongoing debate in Albany over the Child Victims Act, which proposed to reopen the statute of limitations on civil claims for damages for victims of childhood sexual abuse, potentially exposing the church to hundreds of millions of dollars in additional liability and threatening to bankrupt many of the state’s dioceses.

Dolan was then “worried,” Feinberg said, that lawmakers had already “come very close” to passing it. A growing number of negotiated settlements, however, could help counter arguments in favor of the Child Victims Act, bolstering the position of the church’s lobbyists in Albany that the legislation is unnecessary because the reckoning and restitution is already underway.

“The whole point is to get the release, so we offer $10,000. In Buffalo, maybe $5,000,” Feinberg said. “Get the release. We want to be able to show Albany that people are accepting this money and signing releases. You don’t need to change the statute.”

For abuse survivors and their advocates, Feinberg’s comments cast doubt on whether Dolan’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program was truly designed with either independence or reconciliation in mind.

“The statements, if true, place Cardinal Dolan in a compromising light,” prominent sexual abuse attorney Mitchell Garabedian told ABC News, “and are disrespectful to victims or survivors of clergy sexual abuse everywhere.”

Shortly before the Child Victims Act was expected to pass the legislature, the church withdrew its longstanding opposition to the measure after lawmakers amended the legislation to include victims of abuse by members of public institutions.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act in February 2019, creating a one-year period for victims of childhood sexual abuse to file claims that would have otherwise been time-barred. He later signed legislation extending that so-called look-back window to August 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Hundreds of people have since filed lawsuits under its provisions against the church and other institutions, leading several New York dioceses to seek bankruptcy protection.

In response to questions from ABC News, Joseph Zwilling, a spokesperson for Cardinal Dolan, told ABC News that the program was established to “address the desire of victim-survivors of clergy sexual abuse to find healing and compensation.”

“It was a voluntary program, offering compensation without the need to engage in drawn-out and difficult litigation,” Zwilling said. “The program was very successful in achieving that goal for a large number of victim-survivors who came forward, who expressed their gratitude and relief at the respect and compassion with which they were treated by all involved. The program was offered to state lawmakers as a possible model for an alternative to litigation as passed in the Child Victims Act. We still believe that the program has great merit, and continue to offer it to victim-survivors who desire to participate in the program.”

But he declined to address Feinberg’s comments directly and did not respond to questions about whether those comments accurately reflected Cardinal Dolan’s motivations for introducing the settlement program.

“As far as Mr. Feinberg’s comments, you would have to ask him,” Zwilling said. “Cardinal Dolan was not a participant in that call, and cannot comment on what he may or may not have said.”

When reached by ABC News, Feinberg issued a brief statement touting the “success” of the program.

“Just in the state of New York, we have resolved 1,346 cases and have paid out $258 mil (all funds provided by the NY dioceses),” Feinberg said. “The program has been extremely well received and individual abuse claims continue to be received and processed notwithstanding the change in the NY statute.”

Dolan, one of the most powerful American cleric in the Catholic Church, has previously dismissed suggestions that the introduction of the settlement program was connected to New York lawmakers’ consideration of the Child Victims Act.

“Look, I can’t wait around wondering what Albany is going to do or not going to do. If I did, I’d never accomplish anything!” Dolan told Catholic New York in Oct. 2016. “But, regardless of what happens in the state Legislature, I believe that the IRCP is the right thing to do, and now is the right time to do it.”

But on the teleconference, Feinberg said the “movement afoot in Albany” was a key reason why Dolan “decided to bite the bullet and create a program.” The benefits of the program, as Feinberg described it, were twofold.

First, it would create a “compensation matrix,” or a range of possible payouts depending on the severity of the alleged abuse, agreed upon by the program’s administrators and the dioceses, Feinberg said, that “affords us wide leeway, wide range, so we could govern the amount of compensation” to victims.

“One very important principle that is guiding that various Dioceses in Manhattan and Long Island is the fear that if the statute is reopened, and there are people who did not participate earlier and sign a release in this program, some of the allegations may resolve on the courthouse steps with a $5,000,000 demand or a $2,000,000 demand,” Feinberg said. “Right now, we have not paid any claim, however horrific, at more than $500,000.”

“Clearly, the Dioceses [sic] wants as many releases at $25,000, $50,000 or $100,000,” Feinberg added, “rather than a $1,000,000 or $2,000,000.”

Feinberg, meanwhile, is highly regarded in the legal community, having been enlisted to oversee the distribution of monetary compensation to victims of a number of high-profile catastrophes — from the September 11th attacks to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to the Penn State child sex abuse scandal.

When Dolan introduced Feinberg as the administrator of the settlement program, he assured the public that the “renowned mediator” would have “complete autonomy in deciding compensation for victim-survivors.”

“The archdiocese,” Dolan pledged, “has agreed that it will abide by their decisions.”

But throughout the private teleconference, Feinberg displayed a coziness with church leaders, a skepticism toward those coming forward to file claims and, at times, even an apparent distain for some alleged victims.

In creating the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, Feinberg said that Dolan “emphasized” that his team would have “absolute, delegated, full authority” to determine eligibility and compensation but added that the Archdiocese worked with them to create both the rules of the program and the compensation matrix.

Feinberg’s colleague Biros suggested that the administrators have remained in close contact with church leaders even as they began processing claims.

“I just want everyone to be aware that once we take over and implement the program, it remains an open dialogue with the Diocese,” Biros said. “We are constantly on the phone with New York, Brooklyn and now Rockville Center. If we have any questions about the priests, the file, the claimant, they are an incredible resource to us.”

Feinberg claimed that some alleged victims were filing what he called “soapbox claims,” or frivolous claims that lacked a history of supporting documentation, which he called both “stressful” and “unfair.”

“Private claimants are increasingly gaming the system by filing … new claims against untarnished clergy or are filing new claims knowing that a previous member of the clergy has already been deemed responsible,” Feinberg said. “’Well, we found another congregate [sic] and we are filing on his behalf, no documentation, no proof, just a bald allegation.’”

He also dismissed the notion that settlements could or should include additional reimbursements for counseling for victims.

“If you asked somebody how to get them to sign a release – counseling or a check? He will take the check,” Feinberg said. “We can say, we get a release, we are done. Look, if someone wants more help, they can pay for it.”

Feinberg appears to have been well aware that alleged victims would feel pressure to accept offers because, prior to the enactment of the Child Victims Act, they had no other legal options.

“If you don’t take what we are offering, you don’t have to, but what is the alternative?” he added. “Maybe Albany will change the law, but they haven’t yet.”

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Mother and baby homes scandal: Irish PM apologises to victims – saying ‘the state failed you’ | World News


The Irish prime minister has issued an apology following a report into the deaths of 9,000 children in institutions for unmarried mothers and their babies.

A five-year investigation by a judicial commission of investigation detailed how the children died at 18 institutions between 1922 and 1998.

Speaking today in the Dail, the lower house of the Irish parliament, Taoiseach Micheal Martin said that as a society “we embraced a perverse religious morality and control, judgementalism and moral certainty, but shunned our daughters.”

Image:
The entrance to what is believed to be the site of a mass grave in Tuam

Mr Martin added: “On behalf of the government, the state and its citizens, I apologise for the profound generational wrong visited upon Irish mothers and their children who ended up in a mother and baby home or a county home.

“As the commission says plainly – ‘they should not have been there’.

“I apologise for the shame and stigma which they were subjected to and which, for some, remains a burden to this day.

“In apologising, I want to emphasise that each of you were in an institution because of the wrongs of others. Each of you is blameless, each of you did nothing wrong and has nothing to be ashamed of. Each of you deserved so much better.

More from Republic Of Ireland

“The lack of respect for your fundamental dignity and rights as mothers and children who spent time in these institutions is humbly acknowledged and deeply regretted.

“The Irish state, as the main funding authority for the majority of these institutions, had the ultimate ability to exert control over these institutions, in addition to its duty of care to protect citizens with a robust regulatory and inspection regime.

The infants graveyard at Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Tipperary, which was mother and baby home operated by the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary from 1930 to 1970.
Image:
The infants graveyard at Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Tipperary

“This authority was not exerted and the state’s duty of care was not upheld. The state failed you, the mothers and children in these homes.”

Several of the religious orders which ran the homes have already apologised since the report’s publication, while there was a contrite apology from the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin.

Accepting that the Church was part of an oppressive culture, he said “for that, and for the long-lasting hurt and emotional distress that has resulted, I unreservedly apologise to the survivors and to all those who are personally impacted by the realities it [the report] uncovers.”

Mother and baby homes were institutions where young pregnant women were sent, often under pressure from local clergy. There, they would give birth and eventually be separated from their children, who were offered up for adoption, sometimes in the US.

Irish society in the mid-20th century was deeply intertwined with the teachings of the Catholic Church, and pregnancies out of wedlock were seen as scandalous.

A shrine in Tuam, in memory of hundreds of children allegedly buried at the site
Image:
A shrine in Tuam, in memory of hundreds of children allegedly buried at the site

There were about 56,000 unmarried mothers and about 57,000 children in the mother and baby homes investigated by the commission.

Mr Martin had said the report describes “a dark, difficult and shameful chapter of very recent Irish history”, and spoke of the deep-rooted misogyny and “oppressive culture” that pressured women to enter the homes.

The Irish government will also provide financial recognition to the specific groups identified in the report, and push ahead with laws to support excavation, exhumation and, where possible, identification of remains at burial sites.

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Hayne, de Belin trial outcomes could deter sexual assault victims from pursuing charges, say experts


BOCSAR executive director Jackie Fitzgerald said the recent trials of prominent footballers had highlighted the standard of proof used in criminal proceedings, requiring an offence to be proven beyond reasonable doubt.

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Ms Fitzgerald said the low conviction rate was an intractable issue and the outcomes in the trials of the footballers were likely to have an impact on how many victims pursued charges.

“Those particular cases are obviously harrowing for those people involved and it’s reasonable to think that could translate into reduced reporting, even for a short period. I think that’s likely,” she said.

Nicholas Cowdery, QC, former NSW director of public prosecutions, said there was already a deterrent effect for victims who did not want to go through a traumatic trial where their version of events would be aggressively questioned.

“When people see that in cases that attract a lot of publicity … the alleged victim is put through a very testing experience and the end result is either indecision or an acquittal then I think it’s a fair comment that would act as an additional deterrent to any victims in that situation from coming forward,” Mr Cowdery said.

Mr Cowdery said it was easy for the defence to sow enough doubt in jurors’ minds as they weigh up one person’s word against another’s, especially when the matter hinged on the question of consent.

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He said some of the difficulty for victims in sexual assault trials was an inevitable result of important legal concepts – like the presumption of innocence and proving an offence beyond reasonable doubt – but the process could still be improved and delays reduced.

Some reforms have already been put in place that seek to make it easier for complainants, including allowing the use of a complainant’s original evidence in a retrial and permitting evidence to be given by videolink rather than in the court room.

Among other suggested changes to consent laws, a recent NSW Law Reform Commission report recommended juries receive improved directions to address misconceptions about consensual and non-consensual sex.

The report was commissioned by the state government in 2018 following the acquittal of Luke Lazarus, who was accused of rape by Saxon Mullins. The highly publicised matter, which centred on the question of consent, involved a trial, a retrial and two appeals over five years.

Former NSW director of public prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery, QC, believes sexual assault reporting might be affected by recent court outcomes.

Former NSW director of public prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery, QC, believes sexual assault reporting might be affected by recent court outcomes. Credit:Rob Homer

Ms Mullins criticised the findings of the report and said the law should change to stop an accused relying in court on a mistaken belief in consent based on reasonable grounds unless they took steps to find out if the other person was consenting to sex.

Helen Campbell, executive officer of Women’s Legal Service NSW, said it would be understandable if seeing the price paid by sexual assault victims in criminal trials affected potential complainants.

“I have no personal experience of any particular client saying they would not report to police because of an outcome they saw in the news but it wouldn’t surprise me,” she said.

Ms Campbell pointed to the trial of de Belin and his friend Callan Sinclair which saw the 19-year-old complainant give evidence in the witness box over five days.

“Who would want to do that? And why is it allowed? … The criminal justice system needs to be reformed to be more supportive and protective of victim witnesses,” she said.

The juries in the trial of de Belin and Sinclair and the separate Hayne trial were both unable to reach a verdict in late 2020.

Hayne was accused of sexually assaulting a 26-year-old woman in her Newcastle home. He pleaded not guilty and a jury of eight men and four women was discharged after they were unable to reach a verdict. Hayne will face a retrial next year.

De Belin and Sinclair both pleaded not guilty to allegations they raped the 19-year-old woman in Wollongong in December 2018 after a night out. The pair said the encounter was entirely consensual. The jury was unable to reach a unanimous or majority verdict on the five charges of aggravated sexual assault against each man. A retrial has been scheduled for April.

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Iran allocates $150K US payments to families of Ukraine crash victims


Iran’s cabinet has created a compensation fund to pay families of the 176 victims of a Ukrainian passenger plane that was shot down by Iranian forces outside Tehran last January, the president announced Wednesday.

Iran will pay $150,000 US for each victim, state TV reported without giving a timeline. The announcement comes as the families of victims prepare to mark the anniversary of the Jan. 8 crash, and diplomats from nations that lost citizens push Iran for more co-operation on the investigation and compensation issues.

Those killed include dozens of Canadian citizens and permanent residents, and many others with ties to Canadian universities.

Canada’s foreign affairs minister said in a statement that “Canada and the other members of the International Coordination and Response Group (CG) are taking a co-ordinated approach to obtaining reparations from Iran, which includes not only compensation for the families but also an accounting of the events that led to the tragic result.”WA

François-Philippe Champagne went on to say that no negotiations or meetings between Iran and the other countries have been held and that “no formal offers have been made by Iran to the CG countries.”

WATCH | Iran says it will pay families of victims of Flight 752:

Iran’s president says $150,000 US will be paid for each victim on board Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, which was shot down nearly a year ago. But some families in Canada, still pushing for justice, say they won’t accept the compensation. 2:02

For days, Iran denied that its military was responsible for the downing of the plane. But with extensive evidence emerging from Western intelligence reports and international pressure building, Iran admitted that its military had mistakenly fired at the Ukrainian jetliner at a moment of heightened tension between Iran and the United States.

Hostilities had reached a fever pitch the week before over an American drone strike that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad, raising fears of further violence in the region.

Iran blames ‘human error’

Western intelligence officials and analysts believe Iran shot down the aircraft with a Russian-made Tor system, known to NATO as the SA-15.

Tehran blamed “human error” for the shoot-down, saying in a report released over the summer that those manning a misaligned surface-to-air missile battery wrongly identified the civilian flight as a threat and opened fire twice without getting approval from ranking officials.

Canadian authorities say Iran has not disclosed all relevant evidence or provided satisfactory answers to a number of lingering questions.

This includes the identities of those responsible, the exact chain of events that led the Revolutionary Guard to open fire and the circumstances around the decision to leave Iranian airspace open to civilian traffic the same night that Iran launched a barrage of ballistic missiles at U.S. forces in Iraq.

The plane, a Boeing 737 operated by Ukraine International Airlines bound for the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, was carrying 167 passengers and nine crew members, including 82 Iranians, 57 Canadians, 17 Swedes, 11 Ukrainians, four Afghans and four British citizens, according to officials. The route was popular with those travelling onward to Canada.

Iran sends mixed messages on compensation

For months, the governments of the five other affected countries have demanded that Tehran accept “full responsibility” for the crash and pay compensation to the victims’ families in line with international agreements.

Iran, for its part, has sent mixed messages on the matter of compensation.

In October, Gholamreza Soleimani — the head of the country’s main insurance agency — said Iran would refuse to pay awards because the jet was “insured by European companies.”

But other Iranian officials have promised to negotiate compensation with the five countries.

“A mistake has been made by us but the base of the compensation should be decided,” Mohsen Baharvand, deputy to the foreign minister, said in September. “We have told our Ukrainian colleagues that international regulations are our basis.”

Victims families push for court action

The spokesperson for an association of victims’ families in Canada seeking justice said the Canadian government should take court action against Iran.

“What Iran is doing is humiliating and insulting to the families,” said Hamed Esmaeilion, who lost his nine-year-old daughter, Reera, and wife, Parisa, on the flight.

“We need to know the truth and we need to see the criminals in an impartial independent court like [the United Nations] International Court of Justice,” he said.  “We are done with Iran’s actions.

“Now it is our government’s turn to act and react. To take the investigation from them and take them to the court.”

Champagne made no mention of court action in his statement but said the Canadian government “will continue to fight for justice and accountability every step of the way.”

The association released a statement last week demanding an independent and transparent investigation into the crash.

“The families are vigilant and will not sign any document,” the statement read. “The murderer cannot play the role of mourner.”



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Alexander Wang accused of sexual assault by several model ‘victims’


Alexander Wang is facing allegations of sexual misconduct after multiple accusers came forward on social media accusing the fashion designer of drugging and assaulting them, according to a new report. 

The 37-year-old New York City designer was accused of being a ‘sexual predator’ by several anonymous accusers, many of whom claimed Wang had drugged their drinks with MDMA and sexually assaulted them at events in recent years, WWD reported. 

Wang, who became known for his star-studded parties following the success of his fashion label launch in 2005, declined to comment on WWD’s report on Tuesday. 

Representatives for Wang did not respond to DailyMail.com’s repeated requests for comment.

Alexander Wang, who rose to fame in the mid 2000s following the launch of his fashion label, has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple individuals, according to WWD. He is pictured above with Naomi Campbell and Janet Jackson in January

The NYC fashion designer (pictured at the 2018) Met Gala with Kylie Jenner  is known for his hard partying lifestyle and for hosting star-studded events.

Wang pictured with model Bella Hadid in 2018

Wang, 37, declined to comment on the allegations on Tuesday. The NYC fashion designer is known for his hard partying lifestyle and for hosting star-studded events.

The allegations against Wang went viral on Monday, when industry watchdog Sh*t Model Management posted stories from several different accusers on Instagram (pictured)

The allegations against Wang went viral on Monday, when industry watchdog Sh*t Model Management posted stories from several different accusers on Instagram (pictured) 

Allegations against Wang went viral on Monday after they were shared on Instagram by industry watchdog, Sh*t Model Management, who urged the public to boycott his label, according to the report. 

‘Alexander Wang is an alleged sexual predator, many male models and trans models have come out and spoken about the alleged sexual abuse that Alexander Wang has inflicted upon them,’ the post read. 

‘It is important to show your support to these victims by unfollowing Alexander Wang and boycotting his clothing line.’

Included in the post was a video clip by model Owen Mooney, who had earlier uploaded a TikTok video claiming he had been ‘touched up’ by a ‘really famous’ fashion designer in 2017. 

Although Mooney did not initially name his alleged abuser, he later uploaded a follow-up TikTok following speculation from viewers and confirmed he had been talking about Wang.

In the video, which has since gone viral, Mooney claimed he had been at a crowded New York City club where he and a few friends had gone to watch rapper CupcakKe perform. 

Model Owen Mooney, who told his story on TikTok, claimed Wang had groped him at a crowded NYC club in 2017

Model Owen Mooney, who told his story on TikTok, claimed Wang had groped him at a crowded NYC club in 2017

One alleged victim also claimed Wang had done the same 'Molly water trick on me

Another accused him of drugging two friends in 2014

One alleged victim also claimed Wang had done the same ‘Molly water trick on me’, while another accused him of drugging two friends in 2014.

Fashion advocacy organization Model Alliance released a statement on Tuesday in support of Wang's accusers

Fashion advocacy organization Model Alliance released a statement on Tuesday in support of Wang’s accusers

‘I was by myself at one point and this guy next to me obviously took at advantage of the fact that no one could f**king move,’ Mooney says in the video.

‘And he just started touching me up. Like, fully up my leg, in my crotch. It made me freeze completely me because I was in so much shock. 

‘And then I look to my left to see who it was and it was a really famous fashion designer and I just couldn’t believe that he was doing that to me,’ Mooney added.

The model went on to describe the incident as ‘really f**ked up’, saying he then had to ‘slowly move away’ from the designer. 

Mooney’s account was one of at least seven included in the post on Monday, the majority of which were shared through screenshots of allegations sent in by anonymous users, according to the report. 

The allegations against Wang were also reported by The Daily Beast.  

Wang, who launched his fashion label in 2005, formerly served as the creative director of Balenciaga

Wang, who launched his fashion label in 2005, formerly served as the creative director of Balenciaga 

Wang, who is openly gay, is seen at the New York City Pride March on June 24, 2018

Wang, who is openly gay, is seen at the New York City Pride March on June 24, 2018

One accuser claimed their friend, who is a trans man, had been riding in a limo with Wang after a party ‘a while ago’ when the designer offered him water and made sure he drank it all.

‘A few moments after, they noticed they were rolling and had been giving molly water,’ the anonymous person claimed.

‘This was a regular occurrence because a year after being told this story, I also heard other people confirm that they also got drugged on the way to any after party.’

Another alleged victim also claimed Wang had done the same ‘Molly water trick on me’, while another accused him of drugging two friends in 2014. 

On Tuesday, fashion advocacy organization Model Alliance, released a statement in support of Wang’s accusers. 

‘We at Model Alliance stand in solidarity with those who have shared accusations of sexual abuse by Alexander Wang,’ it said in an Instagram post.  

‘Lets be clear: The fashion industry’s lack of transparency and accountability leaves all models vulnerable to abuse, regardless of their sex or gender identity.’  

Wang  and Nicki Minaj in 2017

Wang  and Nicki Minaj in 2017 



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Ariana Grande gives presents to hospitals that treated Manchester Arena victims | UK News


Ariana Grande has sent Christmas presents to hundreds of patients in hospitals in Manchester.

It is three years since a terror attack killed 22 people at the pop star’s concert in the Manchester Arena, and the city has been close to her heart since.

The 27-year-old Positions singer sent gifts and Amazon vouchers to patients at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and Manchester Royal Infirmary – where a number of the victims were treated.

Shortly after the attack, Grande had visited young patients in the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.

Image:
Ariana Grande met patient Evie Mills in hospital shortly after the attack

In a post on Facebook on Thursday, the children’s hospital shared pictures of its young patients holding their presents.

Others held up a note addressed to Grande thanking her for the “beautiful gifts” and wishing her “happy holidays”.

“We are extremely grateful to Ariana Grande for thinking of our young patients this Christmas,” the hospital said.

“It means so very much to us that the hospital is close to Ariana’s heart and that she has chosen to spread festive cheer by donating vouchers, toys and gifts for our patients.”

One father told the Manchester Evening News that every child in Manchester Royal Infirmary was given a voucher by the pop star, calling it a “lovely gesture”.

“It’s brought a lot of joy after everything that’s gone on with the pandemic this year,” he said.

Grande, who announced her engagement to boyfriend Dalton Gomez this week, also sent presents to patients at a children’s hospital near her Los Angeles home.

Sharing the news on Instagram, the UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital thanked the couple for spreading “holiday cheer”.

“Their generosity saw to it that our kid’s holiday wish lists were granted and that the delivery came with surprise pizza and meal deliveries,” it said.



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Canada to mark national day for victims of air disasters


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday the government is working to establish a national day dedicated to victims of air disasters.

The National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Air Disasters will be marked annually on Jan. 8, Trudeau said, the date that earlier this year Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 was shot down in Iran. The downing of the flight killed 176 people, 138 of whom had ties to Canada.

Trudeau also noted that less than two years have passed since the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a Boeing 737 Max jet, in which 18 Canadians were killed.

“To the families and friends who will be spending the holidays without a loved one: you will be in our thoughts,” Trudeau said Wednesday.

“Their memories and their stories will not be forgotten.”

737 Max may fly again soon

The announcement comes amid developments in the aftermath of both disasters.

Last week, CBC News reported Canada was taking its first step toward clearing Boeing 737 Max airplanes for flight again by approving design changes.

Transport Canada is also letting pilots restart training flights.

WATCH | Concerns remain after Transport Canada approves Boeing 737 Max design changes:

Experts and the families of crash victims are raising concerns about Transport Canada’s decision to approve design changes to the Boeing 737 Max, bringing it closer to returning to the skies, because they say there are still flaws and a public inquiry still hasn’t happened. 1:54

The Boeing 737 Max has been grounded since early 2019, prompted by the Flight 302 crash and an earlier crash in the Java Sea in 2018, which killed all 189 passengers. At the time, Canada was criticized for being one of the last countries to ground the plane.

In November, families of the victims of Flight 302 told CBC News the plane should remain grounded, pending an independent inquiry by Canada.

Other measures on the road to clearing the Boeing 737 Max to fly again include issuing a directive that outlines the design changes and mandating additional training in a simulator for air crews, which are expected to happen in the new year, the department said.

Canada, Iran clash over Flight PS752 investigation

As the one-year anniversary of the downing of Flight PS752 nears, Canada and Iran have traded harsh words over the progress of the investigation.

In a report presented last week, the government’s special advisor on the issue, former minister Ralph Goodale, said Iran should not be responsible for the investigation.

“The party responsible for the situation is investigating itself, largely in secret,” the report said. “That does not inspire confidence or trust.”

He criticized delays in the process and a lack of transparency around the investigation.

WATCH | Iran should not be investigating Flight 752 crash, says Goodale report:

A new Canadian report says Iran should not be investigating the events around Flight PS752, shot down by its own military in January, killing 138 people with ties to Canada. Special advisor Ralph Goodale’s report criticizes the country for its lack of transparency from the start. 2:01

Earlier this week, Iran’s foreign ministry countered by accusing Canada of meddling in the investigation and trying to exploit the grief of the victims’ families for political advantage.

“It is very regrettable that Canada is using the grief of these families … to take advantage and attempt to use it in their own domestic politics,” said spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh.

A spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada said the government was working to act on Goodale’s recommendations.



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MONEY FLOWS: Christmas relief for our bushfire victims


With another Christmas coming past, for many of our bushfire victims, the horror of last year’s fires is still a real burden on their lives.

While it can’t replace what has been lost, more grant money is flowing to bushfire victims in time for Christmas.

Australian Red Cross has disbursed another $17.5 million in grants to survivors of last summer’s bushfires. This comes as more than 1700 people came to Red Cross, for the first time, for help since June.

Funding was transferred to grant recipients at the end of last week. An additional $24 million is available for final grant payments and unmet needs within bushfire-affected bushfire-affected communities, with most of these funds expected to be spent in early 2021.

Australian Red Cross director Australian programs Noel Clement says thousands of people caught up in the summer bushfires have received support, because of the generosity of Australians and help of Red Cross volunteers.

“As of today 5,808 people have received one or more grants, 1891 have received additional support grants this week and 17,314 people have accessed help through our ongoing recovery program,” he said.

“The scale of this disaster meant that some survivors weren’t ready to apply until now. Around 1739 people have come forward for the first time since June alone. We’re honoured to be able to assist where we are needed, so that the generous donations of Australians go where intended.

Daily Telegraph. An out of control bushfire between Nana Glenn and Glenreagh. Picture Nathan Edwards.

“This week we are pleased to offer those in financial hardship up to $10,000 in additional support grants, as many are still coping with magnitude of their losses. A second smaller round of the Additional Support Grant will open in February for those who really weren’t ready to apply in this round.

“Community members have told us that their Red Cross grants have helped them find somewhere safe to live, make urgent repairs to their homes or meet medical expenses.”

Red Cross has now dispersed or spent $201 million of the donated $240m since the bushfires. The remaining $39 million will be spent on further financial support and long term recovery work: $15 million to continue the community recovery program and $24 million for final grant payments and to meet unmet needs within bushfire-affected communities, with most of these funds expected to be spent in early 2021.

Children's play equipment is seen on a property destroyed by bushfire outside of Glenreagh, near Coffs Harbour, Wednesday, November 13, 2019. There are more than 50 fires burning around the state, with about half of those uncontained. (AAP Image/Dan Peled) NO ARCHIVING

Children’s play equipment is seen on a property destroyed by bushfire outside of Glenreagh, near Coffs Harbour, Wednesday, November 13, 2019. There are more than 50 fires burning around the state, with about half of those uncontained. (AAP Image/Dan Peled) NO ARCHIVING

Even when the last grant is disbursed, Red Cross is committed to continuing its recovery program, already serving 46 local government areas in four states, for at least two more years to come.

“With disasters of this magnitude, immediate assistance is absolutely critical as is support for the long term recovery,” Mr Clement said.

“It’s been a year since the peak of the fires, and we know many have been unable to begin rebuilding their homes and are doing their best to cope with consecutive crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Red Cross is there for them with a long term recovery program. Already we have reached around 17,000 people in 46 local government areas helping communities lead their own recovery.

“Our trained recovery teams will be there for two more years providing psychosocial support and working alongside grassroots organisations, whether that be marking anniversary events or running information sessions with disaster experts.”

To apply for a Red Cross grant visit redcross.org.au/grants or call 1800 RED CROSS 1800 733 276 and to find out more redcross.org.au/bushfirereport.





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