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10-year-old boy who weighed just 10kg dies with country on brink of famine

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A 10-year-old boy who weighed just 10kg (22lbs) has died in Yemen with the country on the brink of famine.

UNICEF confirmed the young child called Adam had died less than 24 hours after Sky News published an article about his plight.

He had been too weak to get out of his hospital bed by himself when aid workers came to his bedside last week.

They reported that he was crying and found it difficult to breathe, with his tiny chest heaving with the effort.

Adam was one of 400,000 children in Yemen suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

Lying in hospital in the city of Hodeida before his death, he should have been able to focus on his recovery.

Adam with his sister. Pic: Unicef
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The little boy, who also had a brain condition, with his sister. Pic: UNICEF

But as fighting in the Yemeni port city continues – with almost 100 airstrikes falling on it this weekend alone – the conflict moves closer and closer to Al Thawra hospital.

UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore said the fighting is now “dangerously close” and is “putting the lives of 59 children, including 25 in the intensive care unit, at imminent risk of death”.

Heavy bombing and gunfire could be heard from Adam’s hospital bed.

Juliette Touma, chief of communications for UNICEF’s Middle East and North Africa region, travelled to Yemen between 29 October and 3 November.

She has spent 16 years working in the region but said meeting Adam would never leave her.

Half of Yemeni children under the age of 5 are chronically malnourished. This baby is being treated at Al Thawra hospital. Pic: Unicef
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Half of Yemeni children under five are chronically malnourished. Pic: UNICEF

“Adam was not able to utter a word,” she told Sky News.

“All he did was to cry in pain without tears but making the sound of pain.”

Geert Cappelaere, regional director of Unicef Middle East and North Africa office, also met Adam before the child’s death on Saturday.

Paying tribute to the youngster, he said: “Rest in peace Adam.

“Adam was very sick and he also had severe malnutrition. Al Thawra hospital… where Adam died is now in the line of fire.

“Adam is one of 400,000 severely malnourished children in Yemen. They – like Adam – might also die, any minute. May his soul rest in peace.”

During Ms Touma’s most recent trip, she was most struck by the extent children are suffering in the region.

Half of Yemeni children under the age of five are chronically malnourished. Some 30,000 Yemeni children die every year with malnutrition as one of the most important underlying causes.

Locals worry constantly about money and being unable to buy food, Ms Touma said.

“Poverty is very visible, people are just exhausted,” she said.

Civil servants, including doctors and teachers, have not been paid for more than two years and the devaluation of the currency means that despite food being on sale in markets most families cannot afford to buy it.

Adam, who also had a brain condition and shared his ward with other severely malnourished children, was unable to access health care until his family were able to save up to afford the transport to take him there.

Ms Touma believes if it was not for the intervention of organisations like her own “the situation is likely to have been even worse, much worse”.

A girl at Al Thawra hospital, where Adam is being treated. Pic: Unicef
Image:
A girl at Al Thawra hospital, where Adam was being treated. Pic: UNICEF

She added: “”It is literally lifesaving for many, many children.”

Fighting in the port city risks cutting off the vital line organisations like UNICEF use to get nutrition, medicine and vaccines to those living there.

“It’s critical that the port continues to function,” she said, adding: “It’s a life-line for Yemen.”

News of Adam’s death comes as a group of 14 international non-governmental organisations, including Save the Children, Care and Action Against Hungry, signed a joint statement saying “as an urgent priority, civilians and children in particular in and around Hodeidah must be protected from the direct and indirect impact of the fighting.”

They call for urgent peace talks led by the UN special envoy and for the UN security council to adopt an “unequivocal resolution” to stop the violence.

Ms Touma said the only way to save the citizens of Yemen is for fighting to end.

She said UNICEF “welcomes the generosity from governments and individuals, including in the United Kingdom” and that it enables organisations like her own to deliver aid and training to the war-torn country.

“However, generosity alone is not enough and is a band-aid,” she explained.

“What is needed right now – today, not tomorrow – is for those fighting on the ground and those who have influence over them to reach an agreement to end the conflict in Yemen.”

Saudi Arabia and allies have been fighting in Yemen for more than three years against Iran-backed Houthis rebels, who control much of northern Yemen including the capital Sanaa and drove a Saudi-backed government into exile in 2014.

The UK and US have been criticised for providing logistical and military support to the Saudi-led coalition.

On Tuesday, Mr Hunt used some of his strongest language yet to put pressure on the Saudi-led coalition.

“For too long in the Yemen conflict, both sides have believed a military solution is possible, with catastrophic consequences for the people,” he said in a statement.

“Now for the first time there appears to be a window in which both sides can be encouraged to come to the table, stop the killing and find a political solution – that is the only long-term way out of disaster.”

Yemen has become the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 22.2 million people in need of assistance.

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‘I see a revolution. Starting right now’

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Officially, Sir Tim Berners-Lee doesn’t have a favourite website. When you’re the creator of the World Wide Web, he says, “You can’t.”

“‘What’s your favourite website?’ was the first question everybody asked,” he says. “Sorry, I don’t have one.”

But, even if he’s too honourable to show even a hint of favouritism, Sir Tim does occasionally have preferences.

One app he especially liked was an activity tracker called Moves, which he used to see what he’d been doing in his journeys round from his home in Massachusetts, where he is a professor of computer science.

Then, in 2014, Moves was bought by Facebook – meaning Sir Tim’s data now potentially belonged to the world’s biggest social network.

And then, earlier this year, Facebook shut down Moves. There was no appeal. Facebook simply announced that it was “moving on”.

For Sir Tim, it was a personal taste of a bigger problem. The web he built was broken – and the big companies that dominated it were the flaw.

The awakening for him, as for so many people, came in 2016, with the twin shocks of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump.

“What happened there was a tipping point,” he says.

He knew that social media could be used to manipulate people, but for the first time he saw it operating at massive scale.

“I thought that my responsibility as a web user was to go and find the stuff which I appreciated, which I trusted, but now I think that everyone involved in the web realises the problem is that other people are reading stuff which is complete garbage and they’re believing it, and they vote.”

He mentions voting. Does that, I ask, mean democracy itself is under threat?

“Science tells us what to believe are facts,” he says. “And democracy relies on facts. So democracy relies on science.”

English scientist Tim Berners-Lee from the Web Foundation addresses the opening ceremony of the 2018 edition of the annual Web Summit technology conference in Lisbon on November 5, 2018. (Photo by FRANCISCO LEONG / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)
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Sir Tim sees the core of the problem as the massive centralisation of his originally decentralised web

Sir Tim sees the core of the problem as the massive centralisation of his originally decentralised web.

“Instead of going from website to website, everyone’s on one website, so the structure of people making great links to other blogs which we had after 10 years of the web is more broken.

“People don’t follow links from one website to another, they sit on one website, and what they see is determined by the people who code that social network.”

Sir Tim is too polite to name the network, but there can’t be more than a few candidates. Between them, four or five giant corporations dominate everything we do online.

It’s with those sites – and governments – in mind that, last week, Sir Tim launched a charter for the web: a Magna Carta of digital rights.

Facebook and Google have already signed up, as has the government of France; although whether they abide by its terms remains to be seen.

He’s also launched a new project: Solid. It’s effectively a new web; only this time he’s going to get it right.

The key change is to do with data. On Sir Tim’s original web, users’ data was – and is – stored by the owner of the website or the app.

On Solid, the choice of where you put your data is separate from your choice of service.

Your data – from your selfies to the money you send – is hived off into a separate area, called a pod, which can be linked to, just like the pages on a website. That gives people genuine control over where and how their data is deployed.

If it comes off, it would be a seismic change in the digital landscape.

“Some people are calling it Web 3.0,” Sir Tim says.

And whereas previous attempts at what’s known as re-decentralisation have foundered on public disinterest, this time Sir Tim feels the time is ripe.

“A big backlash [is coming] against the mistreatment of personal data, a realisation that people should control their data,” he says.

“That’s what I see, a revolution. Starting right now.”

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Democrats plan investigation into Ivanka Trump after she ‘used personal email for govt business’

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Democrats are planning an investigation into Ivanka Trump after she reportedly used a personal email account for government business.

Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said the panel would investigate White House communications when his party take over the US House of Representatives in January.

“We plan to continue our investigation of the presidential records act and federal records act, and we want to know if Ivanka complied with the law,” his office said a statement.

A probe into White House correspondence began last year but was dropped by Republicans who currently control the committee, the statement added.

Democrats are taking over following their election gains earlier this month.

Ivanka gave up her business interests to focus on government
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Ivanka was appointed by her father, US President Donald Trump

On Monday, the Washington Post reported that the US president’s daughter used her personal email account for government business up to 100 times last year.

The top White House adviser sent emails to aides, cabinet members and Ms Trump’s assistants, many in violation of public record rules, the paper said.

Use of a personal account for government business could potentially violate a law requiring preservation of all presidential records.

Mr Trump, a Republican, repeatedly criticised his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election over her use of personal email and private server while she was the US secretary of state.

He labelled her “crooked Hillary” and said she belonged in jail.

Ms Clinton blamed her defeat on then-FBI director James Comey re-opening an investigation into her emails 11 days before the election.

She was eventually cleared of any crime.

The White House has not responded to questions about Ms Trump’s email use.

However a spokesman for Ms Trump’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, did not dispute the report.

“While transitioning into government… Ms Trump sometimes used her private account, almost always for logistics and scheduling concerning her family,” said the spokesman, Peter Mirijanian.

He said that it was different from Ms Clinton’s case because there was no private server and none of the messages contained classified information.

The White House began reviewing senior aides’ email use last year following reports that Ms Trump’s husband Jared Kushner, also a top White House adviser, used private email for government work.

Ms Trump’s emails came to light when White House officials began reviewing them in response to a lawsuit from watchdog group American Oversight, according to the Post.

US Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat on the Senate Judiciary panel, said there was “no way” Ms Trump did not know the rules after the 2016 campaign.

He said there were larger questions regarding the Trump family’s mixing of private enterprise and government duties.

“It raises the issue of whether there has been anything improper. There should be some kind of investigation,” Mr Blumenthal told CNN.

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Father charged after girl, 6, ‘strangles baby brother to death with seatbelt’

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A father in the US has been charged with child abandonment after his six-year-old daughter allegedly strangled her baby brother to death with a car seatbelt.

Adrian Dreshaun Middleton, 26, reportedly left the little girl and his one-year-old son in the vehicle while he went shopping in a discount store in Houston, Texas.

According to court documents, he told investigators the children were in an air-conditioned car with snacks, water and a film to watch while he shopped for clothes.

When he returned his daughter was crying in the backseat, the documents said.

She is said to have told investigators she was playing with her brother but became angry when he would not stop crying and wrapped the seatbelt around him.

When he became unconscious she thought he had fallen asleep.

Surveillance footage shows Middleton was in the store for around an hour and a half. He reportedly turned himself in to police over the incident.

The girl, who is staying with her grandmother, will not face charges because of her age, Houston police told ABC.

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