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Ahmed Naser al Raisi: New Interpol president sued by Britons over allegations of torture and mistreatment | World News

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A major general from the United Arab Emirates being sued by two Britons over allegations of torture and mistreatment has been elected as the president of Interpol.

Ahmed Naser al Raisi, an inspector general at the UAE’s interior ministry, will serve a four-year term at the International Criminal Police Organisation after winning a vote in Turkey.

Mr al Raisi, a member of Interpol’s executive committee, has been accused of having roles in the mistreatment of Matthew Hedges and Ali Issa Ahmad when they were detained in the United Arab Emirates.

Ali Ahmad and Matthew Hedges, who say they have been tortured by Emirati security forces, pose after an interview with Reuters in Istanbul, Turkey, November 23, 2021. Picture taken November 23, 2021. REUTERS/Yesim Dikmen
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(L-R) Ali Issa Ahmad and Matthew Hedges both say they were mistreated

Mr Hedges, 34, was a doctoral student imprisoned in the UAE for nearly seven months in 2018 after being accused of spying.

Mr Ahmad, 29, from Wolverhampton, says he was detained in 2019 for wearing a t-shirt with a Qatar flag when the two Middle East countries were engaged in a diplomatic row.

Mr Hedges, an academic at the University of Exeter, said he and his family were threatened “by the Emirati security services within a building that Naser al Raisi … has responsibility for” in 2018.

“The possibility of al Raisi becoming Interpol president sets an extremely dangerous precedent where systematic abuses are legitimised and normalised for other states to continue using them around the world.”

Mr Ahmad says he was electrocuted, beaten and deprived of food, water and sleep.

The pair have launched legal cases against Mr al Raisi in Turkey – with their lawyer Rodney Dixon saying his clients would “redouble their efforts to seek justice for their torture and pursue Gen al Raisi in national courts wherever he travels in his new position”.

There are also legal cases against Mr al Raisi in four other countries, including France.

A spokesman for the UAE said any legal complaint filed against “Raisi is without merit and will be rejected”.

Human Rights Watch and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights said in May that Mr al Raisi’s election would put Interpol’s commitment to human rights in doubt.

Mr al Raisi won after three rounds of voting, with Interpol saying he received 68.9% of votes cast in the final round.

He said: “Interpol is an indispensable organisation built on the strength of its partnerships. It is this collaborative spirit, united in mission, that I will continue to foster as we work to make a safer world for people and communities.”

On a day-to-day basis, Interpol is run by its secretary-general – currently Germany’s Jurgen Stock.

The president carries out a supervisory role, guiding the general direction while also chairing its general assemblies and meeting of the executive committee.

Around 470 police chiefs, ministers and other representatives from more than 160 countries were at the summit to elect the new president, with each country getting one vote.

Mr al Raisi will take over from South Korea’s Kim Jong Yan, a vice president who took over the role when China’s Meng Hongwei disappeared half way through his term in 2018 in his home country.

The Interpol annual assembly in Istanbul, Turkey. Pic: AP
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The Interpol annual assembly in Istanbul, Turkey. Pic: AP

He was later accused of bribery and other crimes by the regime.

A Chinese government-backed minister, Hu Binchen, has now been elected to Interpol’s executive committee as a delegate for Asia.

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Bitcoin ‘flash crash’ sees long positions worth $2bn closed by exchanges | Business News

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A so-called “flash crash” for Bitcoin over the weekend has wiped out positions worth $2bn and left market experts pondering whether a wider reset for value has set in.

The world’s largest cryptocurrency lost over a fifth of its value at one stage, taking the market capitalisation back below $1trn, after a broader flight from riskier assets kicked in on Friday.

Then, stock markets on Wall Street were among those hit in the wake of a weaker-than-expected report on the US labour market.

Experts also cited traditionally low trading volumes for crypto assets over weekends – a scenario that can exacerbate downward or positive value movements.

They said the weekend rout in Bitcoin‘s price and the amount invested in Bitcoin futures returned to levels last seen in October, just before a massive price surge that sent the token to an all-time high of $69,000.

The digital currency – which is no stranger to wild fluctuations in value – also started Monday on the back foot and was trading around the $47,000 mark on most exchanges.

Matt Dibb, from Singapore-based crypto fund distributor Stackfunds, said: “Our expectation is the rest of Q4 will be a hard month; we aren’t seeing the strength in bitcoin that we generally see after one of these crushing days.

“Leverage markets have been completely reset, and open interest within leverage markets has completely reset.”

Coinglass, the cryptocurrency futures trading and information platform, said that as prices fell on Saturday, investors who had bought bitcoin on margin saw exchanges close their positions, causing a cascade of selling.

A range of retail-focused exchanges closed more than $2bn of long bitcoin positions.

Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said of the plunge: “The cryptocurrency is highly sensitive to the fortunes of the stock market and traders were spooked by a stock sell off in the US, following some disappointing jobs figures.

“The sharp fall erased the last two months of gains, yet more evidence of the highly volatile nature of the asset.

“Crypto coins and tokens have been propelled higher in this era of ultra-cheap money and as speculation swirls about just when central banks will start further tightening mass bond buying programmes and start raising interest rates, they are likely to continue to be highly volatile.”

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Berlin techno music scene should be protected by Unesco world heritage status, say campaigners | World News

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DJs and music fans are hoping to secure Unesco world heritage status for Berlin’s techno culture amid ongoing fears it could struggle to survive.

Music fans from across the world still travel to the German capital to visit renowned clubs such as Tresor and Berghain – and a growing campaign is calling on the authorities to apply to Unesco to protect the countercultural genre.

Techno’s popularity grew in Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall with abandoned sites such as power plants and factories providing the setting for clubbers to musically express their freedom.

Although still seen as the world capital for the music genre, there are fears the COVID pandemic and the rising value of the city’s real estate will threaten its existence.

Some estimates say around 100 clubs have closed in the last decade in a city which first adopted the techno sound after its emergence in Detroit in the 1980s.

Berlin’s creative scenes are the ‘city’s currency’

Detroit DJ, Alan Oldham, who is now based in Berlin, said recognition from Unesco would help to protect key venues.

He told the Observer: “Unesco protection would go a long way towards maintaining that old spirit.

“Legacy venues like Tresor and Berghain for example would be protected as cultural landmarks.

“So many venues have closed in just the seven years I’ve lived here full-time.

“In other cities, it would be the natural club cycle at work, but Berlin is a different kind of place, where the club and creative scenes are the currency of the city.”

Support has been growing for the campaign spearheaded by Berlin-based organisation Rave The Planet, which says the techno scene should be “protected by Unesco as an intangible cultural heritage”.

If Unesco status is granted, clubs would get extra protection under planning laws and there would also be access to subsidies and other funding.

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Omicron: Curve of COVID cases driven by new variant ‘much steeper’ than previous waves, professor warns | World News

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A curve of new COVID cases – driven by the Omicron variant – is “much steeper” than previous waves, the director of the Africa Health Research Institute has warned, as South Africa prepares its hospitals for more admissions.

Speaking to Sky News, Professor Willem Hanekom said: “The wave that we are in at the moment is much steeper than the curve was for previous waves.”

He said “reinfections seem to be more common during this wave so far,” which he said “suggests that the virus may resist some aspects of the immunity that we have to protect ourselves”.

Professor Willem Hanekom tells Sky News 'reinfections seem to be more common during this wave so far'
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Professor Willem Hanekom tells Sky News ‘reinfections seem to be more common during this wave so far’

Professor Hanekom explained that the profile of Omicron patients “seems to be slightly different,” in that younger people are becoming sick, especially those who have not been vaccinated.

But he said those who have been vaccinated “have been having a milder disease than one would anticipate”.

“So that is probably good news and a reason to go and get vaccinated, because it appears that the vaccine will still protect against severe disease and death,” he added.

South Africa is preparing its hospitals for more admissions as the Omicron variant pushes the country into its fourth wave of COVID-19 cases, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday.

Daily infections surged last week to more than 16,000 on Friday, up from around 2,300 on Monday.

Mr Ramaphosa said Omicron appeared to account for the majority of new cases in most of the country’s nine provinces.

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Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced that Nigeria will be added to the UK’s travel red list from Monday at 4am

“South Africa now has sufficient supplies of vaccines… vaccination is essential for our economic recovery because as more people are vaccinated more areas of economic activity will be opened up,” he said in a weekly newsletter.

Professor Hanekom echoed Mr Ramaphosa’s remarks, saying “virtually all the virus that we have in South Africa is now Omicron.”

He added: “But it appears as if the disease in those that have been vaccinated is relatively mild.

“So the message I think that needs to be out there is that if you can get vaccinated, you should get vaccinated.

“This is the best way to protect yourself against severe disease. So if you have access, for example, to the booster dose, go and get that booster dose.”

Mr Ramaphosa also said South Africa’s government will soon convene the National Coronavirus Command Council to review the state of the pandemic and consider whether further measures are needed to keep people safe.

“We are keeping a close eye on the rates of infection and hospitalisation,” he said.

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