Trump administration sanctions employees of Syrian research center
The United States had blacklisted 271 employees of a Syrian government agency it said was responsible for developing chemical weapons, weeks after a poison gas attack killed scores of people in a rebel-held province in Syria. The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned 271 employees of Syria's Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), an agency that Washington said developed chemical weapons for the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Some of the people blacklisted had worked on Syria's chemical weapons program for more than five years, the Treasury Department said. The sanction ordered U.S. banks to freeze the assets of any employees named, and banned American companies from conducting business with them. Those designated were "highly educated" individuals likely to be able to travel outside of Syria and use the international financial system even if they might not have assets abroad according to US administration officials. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement that U.S. authorities, would "relentlessly pursue and shut down the financial networks of all individuals involved with the production of chemical weapons used to commit these atrocities." During the Obama administration, the United States in July 2016 had sanctioned people and companies for supporting the SSRC, and on Jan. 12, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned six SSRC officials it said were linked to SSRC branches affiliated with chemical weapons logistics or research.
European Union members advised to consider reshaping relations with Turkey
The European Union executive had urged EU governments to consider changing its relationship with Turkey after a referendum that handed President Tayyip Erdogan sweeping powers put Ankara's stalled membership talks deeper into cold storage. Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn, responsible for negotiations with countries wanting to join the bloc, called on EU foreign ministers to consider a new format for relations with Turkey, one that could ease mutual frustrations and reinforce cooperation. "The current situation is not sustainable," Hahn said. He added that he did not want to prejudge discussions among the member states on whether they should suspend Turkey's accession request, which they accepted in 2005. Hahn's native Austria had been among the most prominent advocates of a freeze. Some other states feared such a move could see Turkey act on threats to end a year-old agreement which had stemmed the flow of migrants to Greece and on to Germany. However, many in the EU believed Ankara had good reasons, including the financial aid that was part of the deal, not to stop cooperating on migration. Hahn said he shared the concerns of the Council of Europe, the continent's human rights body, which said Erdogan's constitutional changes were a "dangerous step backwards" for Turkish democracy. But he said the European Union could look at reinforcing cooperation with Turkey in areas other than EU membership that could benefit both sides.
Mosquirix pilot project in three nations
The World Health Organization had said that Ghana, Kenya and Malawi would pilot the world's first malaria vaccine from 2018, offering it for babies and children in high-risk areas as part of real-life trials. The injectable vaccine Mosquirix , was developed by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline to protect children from the most deadly form of malaria in Africa. In clinical trials it proved only partially effective, and it needed to be given in a four-dose schedule, but was the first regulator-approved vaccine against the mosquito-borne disease. The WHO, which was in the process of assessing whether to add the shot to core package of WHO-recommended measures for malaria prevention, had said it first wanted to see the results of on-the-ground testing in a pilot programme. "Information gathered in the pilot will help us make decisions on the wider use of this vaccine," Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO's African regional director, said in a statement as the three pilot countries were announced.
Ban veils and new Muslim schools demands UKIP
Britain’s anti-EU UK Independence Party had said it would promote social unity by banning face-covering veils and barring the opening of new Islamic schools. The right-wing party had unveiled what it called an “integration agenda” ahead of Britain’s June 8 election. It included bans on Sharia law and on wearing face-covering veils in public, and a call for the prosecution of parents of girls subjected to female genital mutilation. The Party leadership also said there should be a moratorium on Islamic faith schools “until there is far better integration of the entire Muslim community.” Green Party lawmaker Caroline Lucas accused UKIP of “full-throttled Islamophobia.” UKIP played a major role in Britain’s decision last year to leave the EU but was struggling to remain relevant now that it had achieved its main goal. UKIP’s only lawmaker in the House of Commons recently quit the party. UKIP leader Paul Nuttall had so far declined to say whether he would run for Parliament in June’s election.