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Family of British man who died during teeth whitening trip to Turkey await toxicology tests

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family of british man who died during teeth whitening trip to turkey await toxicology tests

The family of a British man who died during a teeth whitening trip to Turkey are awaiting the results of a toxicology report to discover how he died.

Richie Molloy, 33, from Belfast, was found dead on Saturday after travelling to Marmaris for dental work, while his two friends Declan Carson and Aaron Callaghan were left in intensive care. 

After returning to their apartment in Bodrum, one of the men had asked for help from their hotel manager, telling him that his friend had lost consciousness due to drugs, Turkish newspaper Sözcü reported.  

Police are trying to track down the dentist who treated the ‘three fit and healthy young lads.’

Richie Molloy (centre left) and Declan Carson (centre right) with two unknown friends. The pair both fell ill at their hotel apartment in Bodrum - Molloy was found dead on Saturday

Richie Molloy (centre left) and Declan Carson (centre right) with two unknown friends. The pair both fell ill at their hotel apartment in Bodrum - Molloy was found dead on Saturday

Richie Molloy (centre left) and Declan Carson (centre right) with two unknown friends. The pair both fell ill at their hotel apartment in Bodrum – Molloy was found dead on Saturday

The three men from Belfast had visited the Marmaris resort before travelling on to their apartment in Bodrum. Pictured: Declan Carson (left), Aaron Callaghan (right) and Richard Molloy (rear) in Turkey on Friday

The three men from Belfast had visited the Marmaris resort before travelling on to their apartment in Bodrum. Pictured: Declan Carson (left), Aaron Callaghan (right) and Richard Molloy (rear) in Turkey on Friday

The three men from Belfast had visited the Marmaris resort before travelling on to their apartment in Bodrum. Pictured: Declan Carson (left), Aaron Callaghan (right) and Richard Molloy (rear) in Turkey on Friday 

Anaesthesia is not required for a teeth whitening procedure, which is carried out by applying some chemicals to the teeth.

Some of these chemicals could potentially be toxic if a lot of them were swallowed, nonetheless, a fatality from a teeth whitening procedure is virtually unheard of. 

Members of all three of the men’s families arrived at Milas Bodrum Airport over the weekend including Mr Molloy’s sister Lydia and Mr Callaghan’s parents, Mark and Karen.

Mr Carson, a father-of-two, and Mr Callaghan were believed to have been put into induced comas but have now been taken off life-support machines. 

The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust is assisting the Molloys in bringing Richie home.

Colin Bell told the Irish News: ‘It’s a very difficult situation. The young fellow died out in Turkey after travelling with his two friends.

‘I understand they had been travelling out for dental treatment, we don’t know how it happened but it ended up with Richard dying and the other two lads being seriously ill.’

He added: ‘At this stage his sister has flown out and she’s been put in touch with the funeral company who are looking after Richard’s repatriation.’

Bell told The Belfast Telegraph: ‘I have been in contact with Mr Molloy’s sister, Lydia, who was due to meet with the undertaker later today

‘She seems very strong and has travelled out there to do a job.

‘The repatriation will take about four or five days as Richie’s body will have to be released to the undertaker, hopefully later today or tomorrow.

‘Preparations will then have to be made to fly him home and all the various papers signed too.’

Mr Bell added that Mr Carson and Mr Callaghan ‘out of danger and conscious.’

‘I understand that they are off their life support machines and talking so that’s a good sign,’ Mr Bell said.

It remains unclear what caused the Mr Molloy's (left) death but it is understood the three men were in Turkey for a teeth whitening procedure

It remains unclear what caused the Mr Molloy's (left) death but it is understood the three men were in Turkey for a teeth whitening procedure

It remains unclear what caused the Mr Molloy’s (left) death but it is understood the three men were in Turkey for a teeth whitening procedure

Declan Carson (centre), a father-of-two, and Mr Callaghan are reportedly in comas but their condition has now improved and they have been taken off of life-support machines

Declan Carson (centre), a father-of-two, and Mr Callaghan are reportedly in comas but their condition has now improved and they have been taken off of life-support machines

Declan Carson (centre), a father-of-two, and Mr Callaghan are reportedly in comas but their condition has now improved and they have been taken off of life-support machines

Aaron Callaghan, one of the men still in hospital, is a former player for St James¿ Swifts Football Club

Aaron Callaghan, one of the men still in hospital, is a former player for St James¿ Swifts Football Club

Aaron Callaghan, one of the men still in hospital, is a former player for St James’ Swifts Football Club

North Belfast Sinn Fein MP John Finucane, who has spoken to the three families, said the ‘absolutely heartbreaking’ tragedy had affected ‘three fit and healthy young lads’.

He said: ‘The community of North Belfast will rally around the families of those affected and do all that we can to provide support to them at this time of great difficulty.

‘I will be making immediate contact with the Department of Foreign Affairs to request all the necessary support be urgently put in place to assist the families.’ 

He said Mr Carson and Mr Callaghan’s families were going out to Turkey ‘desperately wanting to bring their children back’.

He told the BBC: ‘The families I have spoken to are grateful for the support but also need space and privacy and this includes people being responsible on social media.

‘There is a family here making arrangements to bring their brother, their son, home and there are two other families just hoping their loved one will pull through.

‘So it’s a very difficult but we don’t have much clarity at this stage as to what exactly has happened.’ 

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A salon in Belfast has paid tribute to Richie on its Facebook page.

Simon Flannery Male Grooming said: ‘We received heart breaking news over the weekend that one of our clients of over a decade, Richie Molloy, has passed away while on holiday in Turkey. 

‘Richie was a true gentlemen and always brought a smile and laughter to the salon. Everyone who works and has worked in the shop and met Richie will miss his dearly.

‘Our thoughts are with Richie’s family and friends.’

The SDLP deputy mayor of Belfast Paul McCusker, described the tragedy as ‘worrying and devastating’. 

He said: ‘Worrying and devastating news coming from Turkey regarding three local North Belfast men. 

It remains unclear what caused Mr Molloy's death but it is understood he was in Turkey for a teeth whitening procedure. Pictured: Turunc Bay in Marmaris

It remains unclear what caused Mr Molloy's death but it is understood he was in Turkey for a teeth whitening procedure. Pictured: Turunc Bay in Marmaris

It remains unclear what caused Mr Molloy’s death but it is understood he was in Turkey for a teeth whitening procedure. Pictured: Turunc Bay in Marmaris

‘At this stage we know one male has died and two others are critical. As a North Belfast community all our thoughts and prayers are with you all including the familes.’

Aaron Callaghan, one of the men still in hospital, is a former player for St James’ Swifts Football Club.

The club’s Twitter page wrote: ‘Our thoughts and prayers go out to former first team player Aaron Callaghan today.

‘Everyone at the club are thinking of you during this time and we have both you (and) your friends within our hearts.’

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: ‘We are supporting the family of a British man who has died in Turkey and we are in contact with the Turkish authorities.’

The Irish Government said: ‘We are aware of the case and are providing consular assistance.’ 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Ted Cruz says Jack Dorsey ‘censored’ NYT Hunter Biden story tweets

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ted cruz says jack dorsey censored nyt hunter biden story tweets

Republican senator Ted Cruz tore into Jack Dorsey Wednesday during a hearing on Big Tech’s handling of politics on their platforms as he bashed the Twitter CEO for censoring tweets linking to the New York Post story revealing the contents of Hunter Biden’s damaging hard drive.

‘Mr. Dorsey, who the hell elected you and put you in charge of what the media are allowed to report and what the American people are allowed to hear? And why do you persist in behaving as a Democratic Super PAC silencing views to the contrary of your political beliefs?’ Cruz shouted as he joined in remotely for a hearing on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The law allows tech platforms not to be sued for what their users post. 

The hearing was called by Republican senators in the wake of Twitter stopping tweets linking to the story about Hunter Biden, and Facebook limiting its users’ ability to post it. It was titled: ‘Does Section 230’s Sweeping Immunity Enable Big Tech Bad Behavior?’ 

Republicans say conservative viewpoints are being censored by big tech platforms and summoned Dorsey, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai for the hearing – which Democrats said was electioneering intended to elevate claims about Joe Biden being linked to corruption.

At the start of the hearing Dorsey acknowledged that conservatives do not think Twitter is ‘acting in good faith’ and said he wanted to become more transparent to address their feelings.

As the hearing continued, Donald Trump live-tweeted his reaction to it, accusing ‘big tech’ of ‘not covering Biden corruption’ and demanding: ‘Repeal Section 230.’

That move would upend the internet, according to the tech CEOs, with Google’s Pichai warning that its protections were ‘foundational’ and Dorsey saying that repealing it would ‘end free speech on the internet,’ not end censorship.

Republicans have increasingly turned their anger on Twitter and to a lesser extent Facebook over the platforms’ handling of Trump’s tweets, some of which have been labeled as misinformation and even removed entirely.

They have also slammed Google for ‘demonetizing’ conservative website The Federalist, while Democrats have raised concern about all three of the platforms allowing conspiracy theories, particularly QAnon, to flourish and not stopping foreign election interference. 

The hearing, however, faltered briefly at the beginning when Zuckerberg could not log on. It was briefly adjourned after the Republican chairman, Roger Wicker, said: ‘Members should be advised at this point that we are unable to make contact with Mark Zuckerberg. We are told by Facebook staff that he is alone and attempting to make contact with this hearing.’ He connected a minute later. 

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey admitted Wednesday that conservatives 'don't trust we are acting in good faith' as Republicans said 'conservative voices' are disproportionately censored and stifled by Big Tech

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey admitted Wednesday that conservatives 'don't trust we are acting in good faith' as Republicans said 'conservative voices' are disproportionately censored and stifled by Big Tech

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey admitted Wednesday that conservatives ‘don’t trust we are acting in good faith’ as Republicans said ‘conservative voices’ are disproportionately censored and stifled by Big Tech

Confrontation: Ted Cruz went after Jack Dorsey accusing him of running his company as a 'Democratic Super PAC' for censoring the Hunter Biden emails

Confrontation: Ted Cruz went after Jack Dorsey accusing him of running his company as a 'Democratic Super PAC' for censoring the Hunter Biden emails

Confrontation: Ted Cruz went after Jack Dorsey accusing him of running his company as a ‘Democratic Super PAC’ for censoring the Hunter Biden emails 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Google CEO Sundar Pichai

Google CEO Sundar Pichai

Dorsey, along with Facebook’s Mark Zuckrberg (left) and Google CEO Sundar Pichai (right) were summoned to Capitol Hill Wednesday for a hearing on how they handle political content on their websites, and argued that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is crucial to allowing free expression on the internet

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Live tweeting: Donald Trump offered live commentary on the hearing as it unfolded and lashed out at Twitter claiming it was censoring a Fox News interview with a former business partner of Hunter Biden, Tony Bobulisnki, who alleged that Joe Biden was aware of ‘corruption’ 

TED CRUZ TO JACK DORSEY: ‘YOUR ANSWERS ARE ABSURD’

Ted Cruz, the junior Texas senator and a staunch Donald Trump ally, claimed Dorsey and the other tech CEOs are trying to police what Americans read and post online and influence the outcome of the election. 

The New York Post story revealed some of what was found on Hunter Biden’s intercepted hard drive, which he left at a computer repair shop. 

Censored: The New York Post's story about Hunter Biden was banned from being distributed by Twitter

Censored: The New York Post's story about Hunter Biden was banned from being distributed by Twitter

Censored: The New York Post’s story about Hunter Biden was banned from being distributed by Twitter

Facebook also limited the story from being shared, citing its policy for slowing the spread of potential ‘misinformation.’ It said that it was going to be factchecked, although no such factcheck has become public after more than two weeks. The newspaper remains locked out of its Twitter account.

Twitter took a more aggressive stance with users who tweeted out the article, freezing the accounts of those who shared the link until they deleted the tweet containing the Post article.

Cruz noted in a tweet that up until Wednesday afternoon, he could not try to tweet the link without receiving an error message from Twitter claiming the tweet could not be sent because it contained a link deemed ‘potentially harmful.’

The link can now be posted on Twitter.

The Post reported earlier this month that emails showed Hunter Biden set up meetings between his father, who was vice president at the time, with executives of a Ukrainian energy company.

It also contained a slew of other information that could be seen as damaging to Biden’s election chances. Subsequent stories 

Dorsey said that the ban on the Post’s Twitter account will be lifted if they delete their original tweet which he said contained private information – an apparent reference to email address contained in the original article.

As Cruz pushed Dorsey on whether he believes his social media site influences the election in any way, the Twitter CEO defended Section 230 protections.

‘Mr. Dorsey, does Twitter have the ability to influence elections?’ Cruz asked.

‘No, we are one part of a spectrum of communication channels that people have,’ Dorsey countered.

‘So you’re testifying to this committee right now that Twitter, when it silences people, when it censors people, when it blocks political speech – that has no impact on elections,’ Cruz sarcastically chuckled.

‘People have choice of other communications channels,’ Dorsey argued.

‘Not if they don’t hear information, if you don’t think you have the power to influence elections, why do you block anything?’ the senator said.

‘Well we have policies that are focused on making sure that more voices on the platform are possible. We see a lot of abuse and harassment.’

‘Alright, Mr. Dorsey, I find your opening answers absurd on their face,’ Cruz said before moving on.

WE THROTTLED HUNTER’S EMAILS BECAUSE FBI WARNED ABOUT RUSSIAN DISINFORMATION SAYS ZUCKERBERG

When Zuckerberg was asked about Facebook also limiting the reach of the New York Post story on Hunter and Joe Biden, he revealed that a warning from the FBI contributed to the decision.

The Facebook chief executive told lawmakers that the FBI warned ahead of time to be on the lookout for hack-and-leak operations before the November 3 presidential election – and Zuckerberg climbed Russia, Iran and China to attempt to use the social media platform to run disinformation campaigns.

‘One of the threats that the FBI has alerted our companies … to was the possibility of a hack and leak operation in the days or weeks leading up to this election,’ Zuckerberg said.

‘So you had both public testimony from from the FBI, (inaudible) in private meetings alerts that were given to at least our company, I assume the others as well, that suggested that we be on high alert and sensitivity that if a trove of documents appeared that that we should view that with suspicion that it might be part of a foreign manipulation attempt,’ he continued.

Facebook argued it wanted to limit the spread of disinformation, as some of the claims in the article were unsubstantiated – even though the Post was citing directly from the hard drive.

Facebook limited distribution of the Post’s main story, which had several offshoot stories from, while its outside fact-checkers reviewed the claims made in the article, spokesman Andy Stone said when the article was published two weeks ago.

This meant that while it was under review, Facebook’s algorithms didn’t place posts linking to the story highly in people’s news feeds, which severely reduced the number of users who saw it during that time.

The review did little to limit the spread the article, however, as the same day it was published the article was liked, shared or commented on almost 600,000 times on Facebook.

WE DON’T BAN HOLOCAUST DENIAL, SAYS DORSEY 

Trump’s tweets have been labeled several times by Twitter as ‘misleading’, but Republican Senator Cory Gardner pushed Dorsey on why they don’t also censor Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s tweets, which include Holocaust denial and calls for the ‘elimination’ of Israel.

‘Do you believe that the Holocaust really happened?’ Gardner asked Dorsey, to which he responded, ‘Yes.’

‘So you would agree that someone who says the Holocaust may not have happened is spreading disinformation? Yes or no,’ the Colorado Republican pushed.

‘Uh – yes,’ Dorsey said.

‘I appreciate your answers on this, but they surprise me,’ Gardner said. ‘After all, Iran’s Ayatollah has done exactly this – questioning the Holocaust. And yet, his tweets remain unflagged on Twitter’s platform.’  

Dorsey argued that tweets are only flagged if they contain ‘misinformation’ or ‘misleading’ information regarding three different categories: ‘manipulated media; public health, specifically COVID; and civic integrity, election interference and voter suppression.’

‘We do not have policy or enforcement for any other types of misleading information that you’re mentioning,’ Dorsey said.

Dorsey also drew fire for allowing the Ayatollah’s threatening statements about Israel to remain up on the site, while facing fire from Republicans for flagging some of Trump’s comments.

‘We did not find those to violate our terms of service because we considered them saber-rattling, which is part of the speech of world leaders in concert with other countries,’ he explained.

Republican Senator Cory Gardner pushed Dorsey on why his website did not censor tweets from Iran's leader denying the Holocaust and calling for Israel to be 'eliminated'

Republican Senator Cory Gardner pushed Dorsey on why his website did not censor tweets from Iran's leader denying the Holocaust and calling for Israel to be 'eliminated'

Republican Senator Cory Gardner pushed Dorsey on why his website did not censor tweets from Iran’s leader denying the Holocaust and calling for Israel to be ‘eliminated’

Why is this OK? Republicans went after Twitter for allowing Iran's supreme leader to attack Israel and - in other tweets - deny the Holocaust

Why is this OK? Republicans went after Twitter for allowing Iran's supreme leader to attack Israel and - in other tweets - deny the Holocaust

Why is this OK? Republicans went after Twitter for allowing Iran’s supreme leader to attack Israel and – in other tweets – deny the Holocaust

He distinguished this from how statements by U.S. leaders would be treated.

‘Speech against our own people or a country’s own citizens we believe is different and can cause more immediate harm,’ he said.

Dorsey was asked by Republican Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, who chairs the subcommittee hosting the hearing, about tweets by the Iranian leader.

‘We will support and assist any nation or any group anywhere who opposes and fights the Zionist regime, and we do not hesitate to say this. #FlyTheFlag’ Ali Khamenei wrote on Twitter in May.

The Ayatollahs’ Twitter account sent out snips from his Quds Day speech in Tehran. Al-Quds is the Arabic and Pesian word for Jerusalem.

Another tweet said: ‘The Zionist regime is a deadly, cancerous growth and a detriment to this region. It will undoubtedly be uprooted and destroyed. Then, the shame will fall on those who put their facilities at the service of normalization of relations with this regime.

Wicker pressed Dorsey on why his company slapped warning labels on President Trump’s tweets about voter fraud but allowed tweets from Iran and the Chinese regime to stay up.

‘You routinely restrict the president of the United State. How does a claim by Chinese communists that the U.S. military is to blame for COVID stay up for two months without a fact check and the president’s tweet about the security of mail-in ballots get labeled instantly?’ he asked.

‘The goal of our labeling is to provide more context, to connect the dots so people can have more information so they can make decisions for themselves,’ he said.   

‘YOU’VE LOST OUR FAITH,’ DORSEY SAYS TO CONSERVATIVES 

 Dorsey acknowledged during the hearing before the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet that conservatives ‘don’t trust we are acting in good faith’.

In his opening remarks, which he also posted as a thread to Twitter, Dorsey said, ‘Section 230 gave internet services two important tools. The first provides immunity from liability for user’s content. The second provides ‘Good Samaritan’ protections for content moderation and removal, even of constitutionally protected speech, as long as it’s done ‘in good faith.’ 

‘Section 230 gave internet services two important tools,’ Dorsey explained in his opening statement, which he also posted in parts as part of a Twitter thread. ‘The first provides immunity from liability for user’s content. The second provides ‘Good Samaritan’ protections for content moderation and removal, even of constitutionally protected speech, as long as it’s done ‘in good faith.’

‘That concept of ‘good faith’ is what’s being challenged by many of you today. Some of you don’t trust we’re acting in good faith,’ he continued.

‘That’s the problem I want to focus on solving,’ Dorsey vowed. ‘How do services like Twitter earn your trust? How do we ensure more choice in the market if we don’t?’

 Republican Senator Roger Wicker, who chairs the committee, said it was important to shield companies from liability without giving them the ability to censor content they dislike.

‘The time has come for that free pass to end,’ he said.

A mostly empty room gathered – as many senators and the three witnesses joined by video – for a before the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet

A mostly empty room gathered – as many senators and the three witnesses joined by video – for a before the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet

A mostly empty room gathered – as many senators and the three witnesses joined by video – for a before the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet

Dorsey, who like the other CEOs joined the hearing remotely, argued that tweets are only flagged if they contain 'misinformation' regarding 'manipulated media; public health, specifically COVID; and civic integrity, election interference and voter suppression'

Dorsey, who like the other CEOs joined the hearing remotely, argued that tweets are only flagged if they contain 'misinformation' regarding 'manipulated media; public health, specifically COVID; and civic integrity, election interference and voter suppression'

Dorsey, who like the other CEOs joined the hearing remotely, argued that tweets are only flagged if they contain ‘misinformation’ regarding ‘manipulated media; public health, specifically COVID; and civic integrity, election interference and voter suppression’

‘YOU’RE LETTING A LIE SPREAD THAT I STRANGLED MY NEIGHBOR’S DOG. IT’S VOTER SUPPRESSION!’ GOP’S RON JOHNSON LASHES DORSEY OVER LIES

Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin also pushed Dorsey on Twitter selectively choosing what to censor. He insisted he was a victim of voter suppression.

The claim comes after a tweet circulated where the user, admittedly lying, said that Johnson strangled her dog.

‘Mr. Dorsey, you talked about your policies toward disinformation and you will block misinformation if it’s about civil integrity, election interference or voter suppression. Let me give you a tweet that was put up on Twitter,’ he said, reading off the tweet.

‘Sen Ron Johnson is my neighbor and strangled our dog, Buttons, right in front of my 4 yr old son and 3 yr old daughter. The police refuse to investigate.This is a complete lie but important to retweet and note that there are more of my lies to come,’ the tweet from a user named Mary T. Hagan reads.

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson pushed Dorsey on why Twitter did not removed a tweet that went viral where a woman claimed the senator had strangled her dog – she admitted in the tweet it was a lie

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson pushed Dorsey on why Twitter did not removed a tweet that went viral where a woman claimed the senator had strangled her dog – she admitted in the tweet it was a lie

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson pushed Dorsey on why Twitter did not removed a tweet that went viral where a woman claimed the senator had strangled her dog – she admitted in the tweet it was a lie

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‘We contacted Twitter and we asked them to take it down. And here’s the response, ‘Thanks for reaching out. We escalated this to our support team for their review and they have determined this is not a violation of our policies.’ So, Mr. Dorsey, how could a complete lie – it’s admitted, it’s a lie. How does that not affect civic integrity, how could you view that not as being election interference?’ he said.

‘That could impact my ability to get reelected. How could that not be a violation of voter suppression?’ the Wisconsin senator asked. ‘If people think I’m strangling my neighbor’s dog, they may not show up at the polls. That would be voter suppression.’

‘Why didn’t Twitter take that down – by the way, that tweet was retweeted something like 17,000 times and viewed by, and loved, commented, appreciated by over 50,000 people. How is that not voter suppression or election interference? How is that not affect the civil integrity?’

‘We’ll have to look into our enforcement, or not enforcement, in this case, of the tweet,’ Dorsey responded. ‘We can back to you with more context.’

The senator moved on, but continued the aggressive nature of his line of questioning toward Dorsey.

CLASHES OVER ‘FOUNDATIONAL’ PROTECTION TECH GETS FROM SECTION 230 (WITH LIVE TWEETS FROM THE PRESIDENT)

In his opening remarks, Senator Wicker said that while the Section 230 liability shield has protected companies from ‘potentially ruinous lawsuits’ it also had allowed Big Tech to ‘stifle’ users they disagree with.

‘But it has also given these internet platforms the ability to control, stifle, and even censor content in whatever manner meets their respective standards. The time has come for that free pass to end,’ the chairman’s opening statement reads.

Republicans argue this protection for Big Tech should be void if these websites censor content and police what their users can post.

As a result of the presidents attacks, calls for reforming Section 230 intensified from Republican lawmakers ahead of the November 3 elections.

But the tech bosses pushed back.    

 In their prepared testimony, Dorsey, Zuckerberg and Pichai addressed the proposals for changes to a provision of a 1996 law that has served as the foundation for unfettered speech on the internet. Critics in both parties say that immunity under Section 230 enables the social media companies to abdicate their responsibility to impartially moderate content.

Zuckerberg acknowledged that Congress ‘should update the law to make sure it´s working as intended.’

Dorsey and Pichai urged caution in making any changes. ‘Undermining Section 230 will result in far more removal of online speech and impose severe limitations on our collective ability to address harmful content and protect people online,’ Dorsey said.

Pichai appealed to lawmakers ‘to be very thoughtful about any changes to Section 230 and to be very aware of the consequences those changes might have on businesses and consumers.’

Pichai said Google operates without political bias and that doing otherwise would be against its business interests. He called 

The committee was unable to establish contact with Facebook Inc’s Zuckerberg and declared a short recess. He appeared shortly after and said: ‘I was having a hard time connecting myself.’

Zuckerberg said he supports changing the law but also warned that tech platforms are likely to censor more to avoid legal risks if Section 230 is repealed.

All three CEOs agreed the companies should be held liable if the platforms act as a publisher – on its face a concession but in reality, a restatement of their position that they are not publishers.

SECTION 230: THE LAW AT CENTER OF BIG TECH SHOWDOWN

Twenty-six words tucked into a 1996 law overhauling telecommunications have allowed companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google to grow into the giants they are today.

Under the U.S. law, internet companies are generally exempt from liability for the material users post on their networks. Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act – itself part of a broader telecom law – provides a legal ‘safe harbor’ for internet companies.

But Republicans increasingly argue that Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms have abused that protection and should lose their immunity – or at least have to earn it by satisfying requirements set by the government.

Section 230 probably can’t be easily dismantled. But if it was, the internet as we know it might cease to exist.

Just what is Section 230?

If a news site falsely calls you a swindler, you can sue the publisher for libel. But if someone posts that on Facebook, you can’t sue the company – just the person who posted it.

That’s thanks to Section 230, which states that ‘no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.’

That legal phrase shields companies that can host trillions of messages from being sued into oblivion by anyone who feels wronged by something someone else has posted – whether their complaint is legitimate or not.

Section 230 also allows social platforms to moderate their services by removing posts that, for instance, are obscene or violate the services’ own standards, so long as they are acting in ‘good faith.’

Where did Section 230 come from?

The measure’s history dates back to the 1950s, when bookstore owners were being held liable for selling books containing ‘obscenity,’ which is not protected by the First Amendment. One case eventually made it to the Supreme Court, which held that it created a ‘chilling effect’ to hold someone liable for someone else´s content.

That meant plaintiffs had to prove that bookstore owners knew they were selling obscene books, said Jeff Kosseff, the author of ‘The Twenty-Six Words That Created the Internet,’ a book about Section 230.

Fast-forward a few decades to when the commercial internet was taking off with services like CompuServe and Prodigy. Both offered online forums, but CompuServe chose not to moderate its, while Prodigy, seeking a family-friendly image, did.

CompuServe was sued over that, and the case was dismissed. Prodigy, however, got in trouble. The judge in their case ruled that ‘they exercised editorial control – so you’re more like a newspaper than a newsstand,’ Kosseff said.

That didn’t sit well with politicians, who worried that outcome would discourage newly forming internet companies from moderating at all. And Section 230 was born.

‘Today it protects both from liability for user posts as well as liability for any clams for moderating content,’ Kosseff said.

What happens if Section 230 is limited or goes away?

‘I don´t think any of the social media companies would exist in their current forms without Section 230,’ Kosseff said. ‘They have based their business models on being large platforms for user content.’

There are two possible outcomes. Platforms might get more cautious, as Craigslist did following the 2018 passage of a sex-trafficking law that carved out an exception to Section 230 for material that ‘promotes or facilitates prostitution.’ Craigslist quickly removed its ‘personals’ section altogether, which wasn’t intended to facilitate sex work. But the company didn´t want to take any chances.

This outcome could actually hurt none other than the president himself, who routinely attacks private figures, entertains conspiracy theories and accuses others of crimes.

‘If platforms were not immune under the law, then they would not risk the legal liability that could come with hosting Donald Trump´s lies, defamation, and threats,’ said Kate Ruane, senior legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Another possibility: Facebook, Twitter and other platforms could abandon moderation altogether and let the lower common denominator prevail.

Such unmonitored services could easily end up dominated by trolls, like 8chan, which is infamous for graphic and extremist content, said Santa Clara University law professor Eric Goldman. Undoing Section 230 would be an ‘an existential threat to the internet,’ he said.

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‘We have no choice’: Desperate migrant family wanted to come to UK because asylum was ‘quicker’

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we have no choice desperate migrant family wanted to come to uk because asylum was quicker

A family of desperate Kurdish-Iranian migrants who paid people smugglers £21,600 for a new life in Britain agonised over the decision in a French tent city for days – before making the tragic fatal crossing with the hope of a ‘quicker’ asylum process and a decent education for the children in the UK.

Construction worker Rasoul Iran-Nejad, 35, his wife Shiva Mohammad Panahi, 35, along with Anita, nine, and Armin, six, perished after the crammed makeshift fishing boat they were travelling in capsized in rough conditions, with winds of up to 57mph and five-foot waves. 

Their toddler son, Artin, is yet to be found, BBC Persian reported, but French officials have called off searches and said there is no hope of finding any more survivors. Two migrant adults are also reportedly still missing. 

In the Dunkirk woods where the Iran-Nejads spent their final days, distraught friends said the family had agonised over making the crossing just hours before the disaster – the worst in the Channel during the migrant crisis.

Others described how the family, from the city of Sandasht in north-west Iran, were repeatedly warned that the journey was too dangerous but pressed ahead after finding themselves living in squalid conditions in France. 

The family were sleeping in a two-man tent in a makeshift camp in the Puythouck woods that is home to at least 200 immigrants, mainly from Iraq and Iran. A pair of shoes, a frying pan and a toy were outside the tent.

A series of text messages, thought to have been sent by Ms Mohammad Panahi on Saturday includes one that says the family ‘have no choice’ but to cross the Channel.

Another message says: ‘If we want to go with a lorry we might need more money that we don’t have,’ the BBC reports.

A third says: ‘I have a thousand sorrows in my heart and now that I have left Iran I would like to forget my past.’ 

Four members of a Kurdish-Iranian family drowned while trying to cross the Channel have been named today. Their 15-month-old toddler, Artin, (pictured) is yet to be found

Four members of a Kurdish-Iranian family drowned while trying to cross the Channel have been named today. Their 15-month-old toddler, Artin, (pictured) is yet to be found

Four members of a Kurdish-Iranian family drowned while trying to cross the Channel have been named today. Their 15-month-old toddler, Artin, (pictured) is yet to be found 

Rasoul Iran-Nejad, 35, with his missing son, Artim

Rasoul Iran-Nejad, 35, with his missing son, Artim

His wife, Shiva Mohammad Panahi, 35

His wife, Shiva Mohammad Panahi, 35

Rasoul Iran-Nejad, 35, with his missing son, Artin, (left) and his wife, Shiva Mohammad Panahi, 35, (right). The family are pictured in a French migrant camp hours before attempting the perilous crossing 

Armin, six

Armin, six

Anita, nine

Anita, nine

The bodies of Armin, six, and Anita, nine, were also recovered from the Channel near Dunkirk by French coastguard  

The family had left Iran on August 7 to travel to Turkey, before taking a ferry to Italy and driving to France almost a month ago, according to a friend who remained in Calais. Pictured is the missing toddler, Artin

The family had left Iran on August 7 to travel to Turkey, before taking a ferry to Italy and driving to France almost a month ago, according to a friend who remained in Calais. Pictured is the missing toddler, Artin

The family had left Iran on August 7 to travel to Turkey, before taking a ferry to Italy and driving to France almost a month ago, according to a friend who remained in Calais. Pictured is the missing toddler, Artin

The family is thought to have convened at 8am on Tuesday at a beach in the Loon-Plage area of Dunkirk after the crossing was organised by a Kurdish-Iranian middleman working with smugglers. A yachtsman saw the capsized boat 90 minutes later and raised the alarm. Pictured: The family's tent (on the right)

The family is thought to have convened at 8am on Tuesday at a beach in the Loon-Plage area of Dunkirk after the crossing was organised by a Kurdish-Iranian middleman working with smugglers. A yachtsman saw the capsized boat 90 minutes later and raised the alarm. Pictured: The family's tent (on the right)

The family is thought to have convened at 8am on Tuesday at a beach in the Loon-Plage area of Dunkirk after the crossing was organised by a Kurdish-Iranian middleman working with smugglers. A yachtsman saw the capsized boat 90 minutes later and raised the alarm. Pictured: The family’s tent (on the right) 

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34958502 8889121 image a 56 1603900425593

Camp residents described hearing the family’s desperate cries in the days before they departed for Britain as they argued about whether to make the crossing.

France is ‘finally ready to nail the traffickers’ 

By David Barrett Home Affairs Correspondent for the Daily Mail 

France has signalled it will finally permit a crackdown on people traffickers after the Channel tragedy.

British Government sources said the deaths on Tuesday had served as a ‘wake-up call’ to Emmanuel Macron’s administration.

After months of an apparent impasse between Home Secretary Priti Patel and her French counterpart Gerald Darmanin, the disaster is likely to drive a determined effort to stop crossings at their source in northern France, it is understood.

‘The French response has changed somewhat since the tragedy,’ a UK Government source said. ‘Until now they have been somewhat reluctant to properly deal with this.

‘This very upsetting incident is driving a shift in that position.’

Conversations between the two countries through diplomatic channels had revealed a ‘real change of heart and a change of tone’ by the French, it is understood.

There is also likely to be much closer Anglo-French co-operation to trace the people smugglers who placed the 20 migrants aboard an unfit vessel in perilous conditions, the source continued.

‘There is a real determination to nail these b******s for this,’ he said.

Talks about cracking down on illegal migrant routes began in earnest between the two countries in April but there has been little progress.

A much-heralded agreement signed in September last year was expected to virtually eradicate illegal crossings.

But numbers so far this year have soared to more than 7,500, quadruple the total for the whole of 2019.

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They told how Shiva agonised over whether they should take the three young children across the Channel on such a tiny boat.

Ahmed, 30, who slept in the next-door tent, told the Mail: ‘The last night before he left, the father was fearing for the children’s lives. They were all desperate and crying. And they were worried about the money, too, as they had borrowed it so had to go. They were really desperate.’

He added: ‘Rasoul was saying, ”I want to be in peace, I don’t want to fear for my life any more”. But his wife had second thoughts about going. Rasoul told her it was the only way as the [asylum] process is quicker in the UK. They could have stayed in Germany or France.

‘They only wanted for their children to go to school in England and have a better life.’

Rasoul worked as a construction worker and kolbar, a porter who carries goods such as cigarettes, food and clothes on his back over the border with Iraq, relatives said. He often made the dangerous journey under gunfire but the work was one of the few ways to make a living in the poverty-stricken city.

The family is thought to have convened at 8am on Tuesday at a beach in the Loon-Plage area of Dunkirk after the crossing was organised by a Kurdish-Iranian middleman working with smugglers. A yachtsman saw the capsized boat 90 minutes later and raised the alarm.

Sebastien Pieve, the Dunkirk prosecutor, said a criminal enquiry was focusing on suspected manslaughter, causing injuries and ‘assisting people in an irregular situation’.

He said seven survivors from the boat were in custody ‘for questioning’ over possible connections with a people-smuggling gang.

Mr Iran-Nejad had sold everything in the hope of achieving a better future for his family, his brother, Khalil Irannazhad, said in a phone call from their home city of Sardasht in western Iran, near the Iraqi border.

He revealed that it was the family’s third attempt at crossing into Britain, following two abortive tries via train. 

Tragic final pictures have emerged showing the family in France hours before their fateful journey. 

The Iran-Nejads, whose initial destination was due to have been Germany or Switzerland, are thought to have sold all their possessions and borrowed money from relatives to make it to Britain, where they are said to have family.

Mr Irannazhad said he last spoke to his brother on Monday, when he urged him not to attempt the crossing.  ‘We begged him to not try to cross by boat but he insisted on going,’ he told the Telegraph

‘It was the third time that they had attempted to cross to the UK. Two times they wanted to cross via train and the last time they wanted to cross by boat.’   

Iraqi-Kurd Choman Manish, 37, said that the ‘beautiful friendly family’ had told him of plans to join others on a small boat on Tuesday morning – but he too advised them not to go by boat.

He told them: ‘It’s not good and a really bad situation if you stay in the water,’ Sky News reports.

Mr Manish said: ‘I said, it will be bad for you. They told me God is big. I know God is big, but what can I do.

‘I told them many times, but they never accepted my word… They trusted in God, they think God will protect them.’

Mr Manish has been at the Dunkirk jungle – along with more than 500 other migrants – for more than four months.

The family’s perilous route from Iran: Smuggled by boat, truck and two failed crossings from France by train – as two migrants remain missing 

The Iran-Nejad family left West Azerbaijan Province in Iran on August 7 to travel to Turkey and on to Greece, where they were arrested.

They were deported back to Turkey after they were arrested, strip-searched and tear-gassed by Greek police, Iranian Kurds have revealed.

One migrant who travelled with them from Turkey back to mainland Europe claimed that they had ‘lost all their belongings’ and were given money to ‘buy new clothes’ after their deportation from Greece.

The migrant, who asked not to be identified, said he had taken pity on them when he met them in Turkey. ‘They had lost all their belongings,’ he told The Times. ‘I gave them some money to buy new clothes.’

The Iran-Nejads then sailed across the Aegean Sea a second time, but to Italy where they avoided arrest.

From Italy, the family crossed the border from Italy into France in lorries, stopping in several cities along the way, unnamed migrants said.

One Kurd told The Daily Telegraph: ‘I took pity on them and gave them some money to buy new clothes.’

‘We travelled together from Turkey to Italy by ship. Then we all travelled from Italy to France by truck, stopping in several cities, but were separated and only met back up in this camp.

‘The family were so frustrated by their treatment in Greece and France that they were desperate to get to the UK. They knew it was dangerous but were prepared to take the risk. The mother said my future is lost because my fingerprints were taken in Italy, as were my husband’s, but I hope my children can have a future in Britain.’

According to Mr Iran-Nejad’s brother Khalil Irannazhad, the patriarch had initially decided to stay in Germany or Switzerland before changing his mind and carrying on to France.

Family members claim that the Iran-Nejads then stayed on a camp near Calais before moving to Puythouck, but were evicted by police and moved to a nearby hotel after social services found them a room.

Sources told The Times that Mr Iran-Nejad was leant money to pay smuggling gangs to get them into Britain.

The family made three attempts to cross to the UK. The first two times, they wanted to cross by train, and the last time they wanted to cross by boat.

‘It was the third time that they had attempted to cross to the UK. Two times they wanted to cross via train and the last time they wanted to cross by boat,’ said Khalil.

‘We begged him to not try to cross by boat. He insisted on going.’

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He said that everyone at the camp – many of whom are Kurdish – is upset over the tragedy, ‘but what can we do’.

The family had left Iran on August 7 to travel to Turkey, before taking a ferry to Italy and rode in the back of lorries to France almost a month ago, according to a friend who remained in Calais. 

In Calais, they were staying in a camp near the town before moving to the Puythouck site, but were evicted by police and moved to a nearby hotel after social services found them a room, ahead of their crossing on Tuesday.

They were travelling in an 18-man, 20ft boat packed with as many as 22 passengers that capsized at around 8.30am yesterday off the coast of Loon-Plage near Dunkirk. 

The French-flagged Marbuzet, a 40ft-long pleasure craft, was passing by and told the coastguard, which rescued fifteen survivors who had suffered cardiac arrest and hypothermia. That puts the estimated death toll at seven, with three people yet to be found, including the toddler. 

Farhad Shekari, 28, a migrant who is also from Sardasht, said he had urged the family not to attempt the crossing. He had been due to travel with them but decided against it after seeing the number of people trying to board the flimsy vessel.

He told the Telegraph: ‘There were 22 people in the boat and I said there are too many people and I didn’t want to go. The family got on anyway. But I persuaded another not to get on board. They got angry with me, but I stopped them from getting on the boat.’

Alain Ledaguenel, the president of the French coastguard (SNCM), said the boat was a death trap, adding: ‘It wasn’t a dingy but a polyester amateur fishing boat. It was overloaded and capsized because it almost certainly hit a wave sideways.’ 

Kurdish journalist Sarook Sarkda, 37, who is from Iran, said the smugglers who owned the boat were forcing people to get onboard before the fatal crossing.

Mr Sarkrde said he had ruled out trying to reach Britain by boat after a near-death experience on October 17 when the 10ft boat he was in began to sink in the Channel.

Mr Sarkrde, who had paid £2,000 to get on the boat, said he and 18 other immigrants, including a pregnant woman, were pulled from the sea and returned to France. Wearing soaking clothes, they were dumped in an unfamiliar town by aggressive French police, who told them: ‘It was your choice to cross, so it’s your problem.

After the deadliest tragedy of the Channel migrant crisis so far, Boris Johnson vowed to ‘crack down’ on brutal people smugglers who have fueled a surge in crossings.

A Kurdish Iraqi migrant who befriended the family at the makeshift camp where they were staying in Dunkirk said the family wanted to join at least one other relative already in the UK. 

He urged them not to attempt the crossing due to the stormy conditions but they went ahead, saying: ‘God is big’. 

Choman Manesh told Sky News: ‘It is so sad because I know this family over here that situation happened yesterday.

‘I advised them ‘please don’t go by boat. It’s not good. It’s really bad situation. If you stay in water, it will be bad for you’. They told me ‘God is big’.’

There is confusion about how many people died in the incident, with some sources putting the figure as high as 28 but others saying 22. 

The tragedy has prompted fury at vicious smuggling gangs who are blamed for fueling the rise in crossings, with Boris Johnson vowing a ‘crackdown’ after the worst loss of life during migrant crisis so far. 

Dover MP Natalie Elphicke tweeted: ‘It is terrible that tragedy has struck in the Channel again. People traffickers have no regard for life, no matter how old or young.’

Meanwhile, Alp Mehmet, from Migration Watch, blamed French officials for not preventing the ‘totally avoidable’ tragedy.  

Mr Iran-Nejad (left) and his wife, Shiva, (right) with two rescue workers in a French migrant camp. The children are seen from left to right: Artin, Anita and Armin

Mr Iran-Nejad (left) and his wife, Shiva, (right) with two rescue workers in a French migrant camp. The children are seen from left to right: Artin, Anita and Armin

Mr Iran-Nejad (left) and his wife, Shiva, (right) with two rescue workers in a French migrant camp. The children are seen from left to right: Artin, Anita and Armin 

French coastguard have called off searches and said there is no hope of finding any more survivors

French coastguard have called off searches and said there is no hope of finding any more survivors

Their toddler, Artin, is yet to be found, but French coastguard have called off searches and said there is no hope of finding any more survivors 

How Iran has a long history of discrimination and repression against its Kurdish minority

The Kurds are an ethnic group native to a semi-autonomous region known as Kurdistan that spans parts of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Armenia – nations where they live as minorities. There are thought to be around 35million of them in total, with up to 12million based in Iran.

Iran has a long history of discrimination and repression against its Kurdish minority. Partly, the discrimination is religious. A majority of Kurds consider themselves to be Sunni Muslims, unlike the majority of Iranians, who are Shia. 

While equality of religions is technically guaranteed in Iranian law, in reality Sunni Muslims struggle to establish places of worship and schools for their children.

According to an Amnesty International report in 2008, Iranian Kurds have been subjected to discriminatory hiring policies that make it hard to get jobs, with their home regions under-funded and neglected, leading to ‘entrenched poverty’. 

Kordestan, the centre of the Kurdish community in Iran, is one of the country’s poorest provinces with its economy relying mostly on farming and handicrafts.

Kurds have also been subjected to forced evictions and live in largely substandard housing, lacking proper sanitation and water supplies. Some Kurdish housing has not been sufficiently rebuilt since the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, according to UN reports, when the Kurds were targeted by Saddam’s forces.

The town of Sardasht, where the migrant family who drowned hailed from, was among those targeted – struck by poison gas dropped from Iraqi fighter planes. At least 113 people died while thousands more were injured. Kurdish leaders say the victims were never given proper medical care, and some still suffer from debilitating lung conditions.

Kurdish children are often forbidden from speaking their native language in schools, and Iran bans mothers from giving their children certain Kurdish names. Literacy rates are also significantly lower for Kurdish students – particularly women – than in the Iranian population as a whole.

Those who do speak up about the plight of the Kurds face arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, and the death penalty. According to the UN, there were around 1,800 Kurdish political prisoners being held in the country in 2017. Charges against them ranged from eating during Ramadan, to cheering the results of a referendum in neighbouring Iraq. 

The same year, 64 Kurdish prisoners were executed – the highest number of any minority group – while at least 16 were subjected to torture, and 31 went on hunger strike to protest their conditions. Those who did go on strike, were routinely denied medical care.

In a major incident in 2005, Iranian security forces shot and killed Kurdish opposition leader Shawan Qaderi and two other men in the city of Mahabad, the capital of the Kurdish region, tied their bodies to a jeep, and hauled them through the town.

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He told Talk Radio: ‘Why didn’t they stop them from sailing in the first place? We are talking about a lot of people in a big boat, someone should have noticed.’

The tragedy will intensify the pressure on the Government to broker a deal with the French to finally stop the crossings. 

Mr Johnson said: ‘My thoughts are with the loved ones of those who tragically lost their lives in the Channel today. 

‘We have offered the French authorities every support as they investigate this terrible incident and will do all we can to crack down on the ruthless criminal gangs who prey on vulnerable people by facilitating these dangerous journeys.’

Seven migrants have died trying to cross the Channel this year – three more than last year’s toll.  

The PM’s words were echoed by Home Secretary Priti Patel, who said: ‘We are in touch with our French counterparts who are leading on the response and have offered whatever support they need as they investigate this incident.

‘This tragic news highlights the dangers that come with crossing the Channel and I will do everything I can to stop callous criminals exploiting vulnerable people.’

Last October Miss Patel pledged that illegal Channel crossings would be an ‘infrequent phenomenon’ within six months. 

But at least 7,500 migrants are known to have crossed to England by small boat so far this year – more than four times the total for the whole of 2019.

Miss Patel has been negotiating with the French government to step up patrols on their coastline but no deal has yet been reached.

She wants Paris to agree to migrant boats being turned around in the Channel and sent back to France. 

Marlene Schiappa, deputy French interior minister, tweeted that the death toll from yesterday’s incident ‘is heavy and still uncertain’. 

The migrants made a Mayday call in which they begged, ‘Help us, we’re sinking’, according to The Sun

However, it is not clear who received the call, as the French coastguard said they were informed of the incident by the a passing pleasure boat, the Marbuzet. 

Retired coastguard officer Andy Roberts said yesterday’s horrific incident was predictable.

‘It’s absolutely tragic,’ he added. ‘Something like this was always eventually going to happen and sadly it now has. 

‘There is no way that boat was ever going to successfully cross the Dover strait.’  

His words were echoed by Home Office Clandestine Channel Threat Commander Dan O’Mahoney, who said he was ‘deeply saddened’ to hear of the deaths and added there was ‘no way’ the boat was going to get across the Dover Strait. 

He said the weather was ‘appalling’ at the time, with wind speeds of 42 knots (around 47mph). 

Last night sources told The Sun: ‘The boat had not left French waters but the conditions were pretty tough.

‘The radio message came in at about the same time a yachtsman had reported seeing the vessel in difficulties.

‘It was incredibly fortunate the alarm was raised quickly enough for a rescue operation to be mounted.’      

The migrant boat was spotted by Marbuzet, a pleasure boat. This graphic - based data from shipping tracker Marine Traffic - shows the Marbuzet's course yesterday morning

The migrant boat was spotted by Marbuzet, a pleasure boat. This graphic - based data from shipping tracker Marine Traffic - shows the Marbuzet's course yesterday morning

The migrant boat was spotted by Marbuzet, a pleasure boat. This graphic – based data from shipping tracker Marine Traffic – shows the Marbuzet’s course yesterday morning 

After the deadliest tragedy of the Channel migrant crisis so far, Boris Johnson vowed to 'crack down' on brutal people smugglers who have fueled a surge in crossings. Pictured are emergency services at Dunkirk harbour yesterday

After the deadliest tragedy of the Channel migrant crisis so far, Boris Johnson vowed to 'crack down' on brutal people smugglers who have fueled a surge in crossings. Pictured are emergency services at Dunkirk harbour yesterday

After the deadliest tragedy of the Channel migrant crisis so far, Boris Johnson vowed to ‘crack down’ on brutal people smugglers who have fueled a surge in crossings. Pictured are emergency services at Dunkirk harbour yesterday

A French rescue helicopter lands at Dunkirk port yesterday during the operation to rescue the stricken migrants

A French rescue helicopter lands at Dunkirk port yesterday during the operation to rescue the stricken migrants

A French rescue helicopter lands at Dunkirk port yesterday during the operation to rescue the stricken migrants 

The weather was 'appalling' at the time the boat sank, with wind speeds of 42 knots (around 47mph). Pictured are police in Dunkirk yesterday

The weather was 'appalling' at the time the boat sank, with wind speeds of 42 knots (around 47mph). Pictured are police in Dunkirk yesterday

The weather was ‘appalling’ at the time the boat sank, with wind speeds of 42 knots (around 47mph). Pictured are police in Dunkirk yesterday 

How vicious traffickers make thousands smuggling desperate migrants into Britain 

Illegal cross-Channel migration is being fueled by a global network of people smugglers making thousands from their evil trade.

Research has revealed how these smugglers operate, and the false promises they use to convince people to make the dangerous trip to the UK.

Agents of the smugglers drum up business by visiting impoverished families in Iraq, Iran, Africa and Pakistan, often with exaggerated tales of British largesse.

Potential migrants have to raise money for a fee, or agree to pay one later, with much of the sum – which can be up to £10,000 – usually donated by family members and non-payment punished with threats and violence.

Migrants from the Middle East often first step foot in Europe in Greece after making a dangerous journey across the Mediterranean. They then travel more than a thousand miles – often in the back of a lorry – to Calais, where they set up camp.

Smugglers usually bring migrants to Calais in batches, with a new group arriving after the previous one has already left in boats across the Channel.

A people smuggler named Farooq revealed how the next stage of the process worked in an interview secretly recorded by LBC.

He revealed that migrants would be told to sleep rough around Calais while he bought a boat for them to travel in.

The migrants would then be put into the boat, pointed in the direction of Britain, and told not to stop until they reached UK waters, where they would be rescued.

There have also been reports of people traffickers hiring French fishing boat crews to carry desperate migrants halfway across the Channel in a bid to evade eye-in-the-sky military drones.

When migrants are picked up by the UK Coastguard they are taken to a migrant detention centre to be processed.

Of the 1,890 foreigners who reached British shores in small boats last year, only about 125 were returned European countries, with most of the rest having credible claims for asylum, according to the Home Office.

Asylum seekers are housed in accommodation centres for the first few weeks after arriving before being moved elsewhere, including into hotels and bed and breakfasts.

During this period they are not allowed to work and sometimes fall into menial jobs in the black economy, such as cleaning or washing dishes. They also face being exploited by criminal gangs, and may feel uncomfortable cooperating with the police due to their immigration status, according to a Met Police report. 

If they are successful they will be allowed to take a job. However, despite the false claims of people smugglers, many of these jobs are low paid, with migrants often held back by low skills or a lack of English. 

Additional reporting by Sue Reid for the Daily Mail

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French citizenship minister Marlene Schiappa tweeted her ‘great sadness’ and said the overall toll was ‘serious and still uncertain’. 

Herve Tourmente, an official with the Nord department, said stormy conditions had made the attempted crossing from Loon-Plage, near Dunkirk, especially perilous yesterday. 

‘This is the heaviest toll we’ve ever had in the North,’ he said. It seems one person, who might be an infant, is still missing.’ 

The Dunkirk prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation into the incident.

Those responsible could face a variety of charges including manslaughter and operating within a criminal gang to exploit the victims. 

Public prosecutor Sebastien Pive said six migrants were taken into custody for interview.

A spokesman for the charity Save the Children said: ‘The English Channel must not become a graveyard for children. 

‘The British and French governments must work together to expand safe and legal routes for desperate families fleeing conflict, persecution, and poverty.

‘Parents shouldn’t be compelled to risk their children’s lives in search of safety. No child should have to make a dangerous, potentially fatal, journey in search of a better life.’ 

Clare Moseley, founder of aid charity Care4Calais, said: ‘It is cruel and horrifying that this time young children are among the victims. 

‘This unnecessary loss of life has to stop. Refugees feel pushed to take these risks because of the policies of the French and British governments. This loss of life should be a wake-up call.’

Former child refugee Lord Alf Dubs, who was part of the Kindertransport which rescued children from the Nazis, said the loss of life was ‘heartbreaking’.

The Labour peer wrote on Twitter: ‘Today’s tragic loss of life in the Channel, involving children, is heartbreaking. 

‘These deaths are a result of the increasing desperation of refugees as their legal routes to safety close. 

‘Without legal routes their journeys are dangerous and traffickers are the only winners. 

Folkestone MP Damian Collins said boats had to be intercepted before they got to the UK side of the Channel.

He added: ‘We must stop people traffickers from profiting while putting lives in danger.’

Yvette Cooper, chairman of the Commons home affairs committee, said: ‘It is heartbreaking that young children should be involved in this tragedy. 

‘These boats are so dangerous. The gangs who organise them profit from other people’s desperation.’

The latest tragedy in the Channel comes after a migrant drowned while attempting to make the crossing on Sunday, October 18.

 

Sudanese national Abdulfatah Hamdallah (left), 28, drowned in August while trying to make the crossing in a 3ft dinghy

Sudanese national Abdulfatah Hamdallah (left), 28, drowned in August while trying to make the crossing in a 3ft dinghy

Iranian Mitra Mehrad, 31, drowned in the same month after falling overboard while saving a baby's life, according to a friend

Iranian Mitra Mehrad, 31, drowned in the same month after falling overboard while saving a baby's life, according to a friend

Sudanese national Abdulfatah Hamdallah (left), 28, drowned in August while trying to make the crossing in a 3ft dinghy. Iranian Mitra Mehrad, 31, drowned in the same month after falling overboard while saving a baby’s life, according to a friend

This photo of a ferry entering Dover on Tuesday demonstrates the stormy weather at the time of yesterday's incident

This photo of a ferry entering Dover on Tuesday demonstrates the stormy weather at the time of yesterday's incident

This photo of a ferry entering Dover on Tuesday demonstrates the stormy weather at the time of yesterday’s incident 

Police stand next to migrants at the Puythouck camp in northern France in September 2017, where the Iran-Nejads were thought to have been staying

Police stand next to migrants at the Puythouck camp in northern France in September 2017, where the Iran-Nejads were thought to have been staying

Police stand next to migrants at the Puythouck camp in northern France in September 2017, where the Iran-Nejads were thought to have been staying

Tragedy of growing migrant death toll as charity warns Channel must not ‘become a graveyard for children’ 

Yesterday’s tragedy follows the deaths of 10 migrants in the Channel over the last two years. 

Although many of the victims have not been identified, the names of some have been made public.  

Sudanese national Abdulfatah Hamdallah, 28, drowned while trying to make the crossing in August in a 3ft dinghy.

Two people also died last year.

Iranian Mitra Mehrad, 31, drowned after falling overboard while saving a baby’s life, according to a friend.

She was travelling on a small dinghy carrying 19 other migrants – including a child and a baby – when she went missing in horrendous conditions on August 9.

A huge air search and rescue operation was launched by British authorities after three people went overboard wearing life jackets off the Kent coast.

Ms Mehrad had jumped into the water in a bid to reach a rescue rope from another boat as the one they were travelling on began to sink.

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The police and fire brigade were called to the beach at Sangatte near Calais at around 8am after his body was spotted in an orange life jacket.

Despite an autopsy last week confirming he died of accidental drowning while trying to reach the UK from France, his identity has not yet been revealed.

He is being referred to as ‘BB’ within migrant aid groups until his next of kin have been informed.

The man, who is understood to be aged in his 20s and was discovered by horrified rescue workers near the town hall, was identified by a friend to the medical examiner’s office.

Both police and the coroner are satisfied he was Iranian despite being found with no documents with him.

Humanitarian organisation Seeking Sanctuary paid their respects on Saturday by laying flowers at a plaque in Dover, Kent dedicated to all migrants who have died.

An autopsy last Tuesday found the latest migrant to have lost their life while attempting the crossing died of accidental drowning.

French news website France Bleu said rescuers found 50 Euros on the body of the man.

It is believed he died within hours of trying to make the treacherous 21 mile crossing of the Dover Strait.

A post mortem will be held in due course while an investigation is underway into the death.

The victim was the second to die this year making the treacherous crossing. 

Iranian Mitra Mehrad, 31, drowned after falling overboard while saving a baby’s life, according to a friend.

She was travelling on a small dinghy carrying 19 other migrants – including a child and a baby – when she went missing in horrendous conditions on August 9.

A huge air search and rescue operation was launched by British authorities after three people went overboard wearing life jackets off the Kent coast.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK had offered 'every support' to French authorities as they investigate the 'terrible incident'

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK had offered 'every support' to French authorities as they investigate the 'terrible incident'

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK had offered ‘every support’ to French authorities as they investigate the ‘terrible incident’

Home Secretary Priti Patel said in a statement posted on Twitter yesterday that she was 'truly saddened to learn of the tragic loss of life in French waters this morning'

Home Secretary Priti Patel said in a statement posted on Twitter yesterday that she was 'truly saddened to learn of the tragic loss of life in French waters this morning'

Home Secretary Priti Patel said in a statement posted on Twitter yesterday that she was ‘truly saddened to learn of the tragic loss of life in French waters this morning’

Former child refugee Lord Alf Dubs, who was part of the Kindertransport which rescued children from the Nazis, said the loss of life was 'heartbreaking'

Former child refugee Lord Alf Dubs, who was part of the Kindertransport which rescued children from the Nazis, said the loss of life was 'heartbreaking'

Former child refugee Lord Alf Dubs, who was part of the Kindertransport which rescued children from the Nazis, said the loss of life was ‘heartbreaking’

France ‘turned away oil tanker hijackers’  

France refused to take seven stowaways from an oil tanker that was later hijacked off the Isle of Wight, it was claimed last night.

The Nave Andromeda, which was stormed by special forces on Sunday, is said to have asked French port authorities if they could take the men five days earlier.

The claim was made by the shipping journal Lloyd’s List.

Richard Meade, its editor, said: ‘The stowaways were discovered… and the standard protocol is to inform the nearest coastal state, which it appears was France – but they refused to accept them.’ 

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Ms Mehrad had jumped into the water in a bid to reach a rescue rope from another boat as the one they were travelling on began to sink.

The other two were quickly recovered, but Ms Mehrad could not be tracked.

Her body was found on Dutch waters on August 18, and she is believed to be the first person to have died while making the perilous crossing.

An Iraqi man also drowned after attempting to swim over using plastic bottles as a life jacket and wearing diver fins.

Two people also died last year. 

A total of 7,565 migrants have now attempted to make the perilous crossing across the English channel this year compared to just 1,850 in 2019.

In September alone 1,954 made the crossing in small boats.

So far this month, 436 migrants have been detained. 

High of 7,565 Channel crossings so far this year 

There have been some 7,565 Channel crossings this year alone which have forced the Government to use former barracks as migrant camps. 

Just 1,850 migrants tried to make the crossing in 2019. 

A record-breaking 409 migrants made it across the Channel on September 2.

And the figure includes a single-month record of 1,954 in September.

So far this month, 436 migrants have been detained. 

Conservative Lee Anderson (Ashfield) told the Prime Minister the asylum system is ‘broken and being abused’, to which Mr Johnson replied in the Commons: ‘I have a great deal of sympathy with those who are so desperate as to put their children in dinghies or even children’s paddling pools and try to cross the Channel.

‘But I have to say what they’re doing is falling prey to criminal gangs and they are breaking the law. They’re also undermining the legitimate claims of others who would seek asylum in this country.

‘That is why we will take advantage of leaving the EU by changing the Dublin regulations on returns and we will address the rigidities in our laws that makes this country, I’m afraid, a target and a magnet for those who would exploit vulnerable people in this way.’ 

The massive rise comes despite a vow from Home Secretary Priti Patel last autumn to have made the crossings an ‘infrequent phenomenon’ by this point.

The Home Office has sought to blame French authorities and ‘activist lawyers’ for the increase and for difficulties removing asylum seekers once they arrive in Britain. 

The previous monthly record for migrant arrivals was 1,075, set in July. August’s arrivals saw 235 reach Britain on just one day – which was also a record.

Miss Patel is seeking a deal with French authorities that would allow migrant boats to be turned back in the Channel. No agreement has yet been reached.

At the beginning of September, the Mail revealed the taxpayer was hit with a £1billion bill for the asylum system last year. 

An Iraqi man also drowned after attempting to swim over using plastic bottles as a life jacket and wearing diver fins.

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This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Coronavirus has claimed the lives of just 17 victims under 40 as figures show elderly more at risk

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coronavirus has claimed the lives of just 17 victims under 40 as figures show elderly more at risk

Fewer than 20 people aged under 40 have died with coronavirus since the second wave began.

Official figures reveal the disease is now 100 times as deadly for the oldest in society as for the young, and that increased infections among children and young adults has not led to their hospitalisations or deaths.

And including deaths in private homes as well as hospitals, only 17 people under 40 died with Covid between the end of August and the middle of this month.

The latest NHS update published yesterday showed that just one person under the age of 20, and another 13 under 40, have died with coronavirus in English hospitals since the start of September.

Official government figures show a much higher death rate among the elderly than in young people who have contracted coronavirus

Official government figures show a much higher death rate among the elderly than in young people who have contracted coronavirus

Official government figures show a much higher death rate among the elderly than in young people who have contracted coronavirus

By contrast, 1,425 patients over 80 have died over the same period, along with another 1,093 aged between 60 and 79. 

It means the elderly account for a staggering 94 per cent of hospital deaths this time round.

Wider figures from the Office for National Statistics covering all deaths across the UK tell the same story, with just 247 deaths among working-age people since the end of summer compared with 2,026 among pensioners. 

They cover a slightly shorter period than the NHS figures.

It will put fresh pressure on ministers to avoid a new nationwide lockdown that could lead to other deadly diseases such as cancer and heart disease going untreated, and further damage young people’s mental health and job prospects.

Last night cancer consultant Prof Karol Sikora said: ‘On the whole, it is not a young person’s illness, healthy young people especially.

‘But they are playing the societal price in terms of education, university and social activities, and they will be paying the bill one day because the old people won’t be there. 

It’s a matter of balance and we’ve not got it right. It’s really important we don’t throw all the resources at Covid.’

The Government's chief scientific advisers Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty (right) and Sir Patrick Valance (left) leave a weekly cabinet meeting at Downing Street in late September

The Government's chief scientific advisers Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty (right) and Sir Patrick Valance (left) leave a weekly cabinet meeting at Downing Street in late September

The Government’s chief scientific advisers Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty (right) and Sir Patrick Valance (left) leave a weekly cabinet meeting at Downing Street in late September

And Conservative backbencher Steve Baker – who led a rebellion against the Government’s imposition of Covid restrictions – said: ‘These data show vividly that we need a Plan B to rescue our economy and our family lives before we run out of road.   

In my experience, people want to do their duty but they are going to be wondering why so much of their future is going to be sacrificed in the circumstances.’

Data from researchers and official bodies showed that Covid-19 death rates among the young were low when the pandemic first hit in the spring, and that they are lower still despite concern over pub-goers, holidaymakers and protesters spreading infection over the summer.

The latest daily NHS figures show that of the 2,677 patients who have died with the virus in English hospitals between September 1 and this Tuesday, only 14 – half of 1 per cent – were aged under 40. 

By contrast, 52 per cent were over 80. More detailed ONS figures tell the same story. 

Including deaths in private homes as well as hospitals, only 17 people under 40 died with Covid between the weeks ending August 28 and October 16, just 0.8 per cent of the 2,061 total across England and Wales. The over-70s accounted for 1,701 deaths – 82 per cent of the total.

Those aged between 80 and 84 had the highest death numbers – 404 since the second wave began – in line with this newspaper revealing earlier this month that the average age of a Covid victim is 82.4.

Statistician Professor David Spiegelhalter, of Cambridge University, said: ‘Age is the overwhelmingly most important factor when it comes to the risk of dying from Covid.

‘Young people have always got the virus more than older people, but that hasn’t translated into hospitalisations and death.’  

 If lockdown were a drug it wouldn’t be approved…it does more harm than good, writes PROFESSOR ANGUS DALGLEISH 

We are at a pivotal moment in this pandemic and for our Prime Minister – and indeed the country – the stakes could not be higher.

With rumours rampant about a new national lockdown and talk about the so-called ‘second wave’ of Covid-19 infections being deadlier than the first, there has never been a more important time for Boris Johnson to go with his instincts and stand firm against the doom-mongers at Sage.

That organisation’s full name – the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies – suggests a reassuringly well-informed and authoritative body whose guidance can be followed unquestioningly.

Yet their recommendations are often based on flawed evidence which is far from scientific, and that makes it all the more alarming to learn that they are attempting to bully the Prime Minister into imposing a second national lockdown.

This pressure is apparently based on projections showing that, while the number of Covid deaths will peak at a lower level than in the spring, they will remain at that level for weeks or even months, resulting in more deaths overall. 

But I would urge the PM and his most senior advisers to take a closer look at the evidence on which their arguments are based – and the potentially disastrous consequences.

The number of people admitted to hospital with Covid is undoubtedly on the rise again. But we are at nowhere near the levels we saw during the first wave – 9,520 were in hospital at the beginning of this week compared to almost 20,000 at the peak in April.

On Monday, there were 852 patients taking up mechanical ventilation beds, whereas there were more than 3,300 at the height of the pandemic in April.

And, yes, Covid deaths are rising, but they continue to comprise only a fraction of the total number of deaths across England and Wales.

In the week ending October 16 there were 10,534 fatalities, of which only 670 were from Covid. 

Every death is a tragedy for the individual and the families concerned but we must not lose sight of the fact that this is a virus fatal mainly to the elderly or those with underlying conditions.

Indeed, of the total number of Covid deaths in the UK, a tiny 0.01 per cent involved people under 45, according to the Office for National Statistics, while 89 per cent were over 65.

So we know who is vulnerable and we can and must work harder to protect them. Let’s remember too that the whole point of the lockdown was to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed – flattening the curve by ‘squashing the sombrero’ as Boris Johnson so memorably described it.

Now we are facing a ‘lampshade’ distribution – a sharp rise in cases, followed by a plateauing, before a steep drop. 

While the ‘flat top’ stage entails cases possibly rumbling on for months, is that really as big a crisis as Sage scientists are making out as long as the NHS can cope?

Given that the health system was not overwhelmed first time around, there is no reason to think that it will be this time.

That’s certainly the impression I gain at my own hospital in London.

Empty streets in the Welsh city of Bridgend. Wales entered a national lockdown on Friday which will remain in place until November 9

Empty streets in the Welsh city of Bridgend. Wales entered a national lockdown on Friday which will remain in place until November 9

Empty streets in the Welsh city of Bridgend. Wales entered a national lockdown on Friday which will remain in place until November 9

At the height of the pandemic, more than half our admissions were Covid-related, but since the capital was upgraded to Tier Two only two to three dozen inpatients have tested positive for Covid.

The clinicians I speak to here would tell you that the vast majority of people dying from the infection are in their eighties.

Interestingly, an undertaker of my acquaintance has noticed no upswing in the elderly deceased recently. He has, however, observed a disturbing rise in the number of young people committing suicide.

As I have written on these pages previously, the despair of lockdown drove two of my colleagues to take their own lives. And in the last week alone, I have read newspaper reports of three such suicides among university students –one said to have resulted from the dreadful anxiety felt by the young person in question as a result of being cooped up all the time.

Since it takes some nine months for suicides to appear in national statistics, I fear that these deaths may be only the tip of a tragic iceberg. 

It will take time for us calculate the appalling scale of the toll that anti-Covid measures have taken on the nation’s mental health, not least because of the trashing of the economy and the livelihoods devastated by lockdowns.

Then, of course, there are the many tens of thousands of people denied essential non-Covid medical care, with the National Health Service in danger of becoming the National Covid Service. Sage scientists think only about managing the R rate – the average number of secondary coronavirus infections produced by a single infectious person. 

While my fellow clinicians and I are the ones who must explain to our patients with cancer, as they deteriorate in front of us, why the operation or treatments that might save or prolong their lives are once again being deferred because of the backlog caused by the lockdown.

This is all the harder for us knowing that so much of the Government’s hysterical reaction to the pandemic is based on flawed data which is presented to them by Sage.

Take the R rate as an example. That has now officially risen above one again but that statistic is based in part on the number of people tested using the widely-used PCR test which has been shown to produce many false positives.

Not that you would know that from the confident pronouncements made by Sage. The Spectator magazine has recently analysed the ‘ten worst Covid data failures’ to date. 

Among these was the graph produced by Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, on September 21. Based on a scenario under which cases doubled every seven days, this warned that infections could hit 50,000 cases a day by October 13.

But even though his graph did not lead to any change in policy, the average on that date was almost exactly a third of that – at 16,228.

Besides questioning exhaustively the very basis on which Sage’s recommendations are being made, Boris Johnson should ask himself this salient question.

If lockdown were a drug, would it be approved by NICE – the body that balances the cost of a proposed treatment against the benefits it would bring? By the Government’s own admission, it would not. 

In July, a study quietly published by the Department of Health and Social Care showed that the health impact of a lockdown was greater than that of Covid itself – something for the Prime Minister to bear in mind before giving in to the deranged modellers at Sage.

Angus Dalgleish is an oncologist at a London teaching hospital 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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