Spain Honors Chef Andrés for Humanitarian Kitchens

Chef José Andrés and his World Central Kitchen were awarded a prestigious Spanish prize Wednesday for their international relief work promoting healthy food.The jury that decides the Princess of Asturias Awards gave Andrés, 51, and the nonprofit group he founded the Award of Concord for “offering extraordinarily fast and efficient on-the-ground response to social and nutritional emergencies.”Born in northern Spain in 1969, Andrés moved to the U.S. in 1991 and was later naturalized as an American citizen. He helped popularize Spanish cuisine, especially the tapa, in the U.S. before he also became heavily involved in humanitarian work.Andrés founded the World Central Kitchen in 2010 following a trip to Haiti to do aid work. Since then, it has been active in deploying field kitchens to respond to food crises both in the United States and abroad. The organization served over 3.6 million meals in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017. Last year, Andrés dedicated some of his own restaurants in the U.S. to help feed people in need during the coronavirus pandemic.A recipient of many honors, Andrés was awarded a National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama in 2015.The 50,000-euro ($56,700) Princess of Asturias Award of Concord is one of eight prizes, including for the arts, social sciences and sports, handed out annually by a foundation named for Spanish Crown Princess Leonor.

Putin Says Time Will Come When He Names Possible Successor

President Vladimir Putin told Russians on Wednesday that the time would come when he would name his possible successor in the Kremlin, but he said the choice would ultimately lie with voters.Putin, 68, has been in power as president or prime minister since the turn of the century. His current six-year term in the Kremlin is due to end in 2024, and his remarks are being closely parsed for clues as to whether he plans to extend his rule.Russia changed its constitution last year at Putin’s behest allowing him to run for two more six-year terms in the Kremlin, and potentially remain president until 2036.The Kremlin is at a delicate political juncture with its relations with the West badly strained and its oil-dependent economy emerging from the pandemic with high inflation and a weak ruble, sensitive issues for voters.Russia holds parliamentary elections in September that are seen as a dry run for the 2024 presidential election. Meanwhile, authorities have cracked down hard on the opposition and outlawed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny’s network as “extremist.””A time will come when, I hope, I can say that such and such a person is worthy in my opinion of leading such a wonderful country like Russia, our homeland,” Putin said.The Russian leader was speaking during his annual question and answer session on state TV that the Kremlin uses for political messaging and to show he is in touch with regular Russians’ day-to-day concerns.”A signal. There will be a successor,” Alexei Chesnakov, a political analyst who used to work in the presidential administration, wrote on Telegram messenger.Putin, a KGB officer in the Cold War, came to power after being named acting president in December 1999 by his ailing predecessor Boris Yeltsin, Russia’s first post-Soviet president. 

Microsoft Exec Says Targeting of Americans’ Records ‘Routine’

Federal law enforcement agencies secretly seek the data of Microsoft customers thousands of times a year, according to congressional testimony Wednesday by a senior executive at the technology company.Tom Burt, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for customer security and trust, told members of the House Judiciary Committee that federal law enforcement in recent years has been presenting the company with between 2,400 to 3,500 secrecy orders a year, or about seven to 10 a day.”Most shocking is just how routine secrecy orders have become when law enforcement targets an American’s email, text messages or other sensitive data stored in the cloud,” said Burt, describing the widespread clandestine surveillance as a major shift from historical norms.The relationship between law enforcement and Big Tech has attracted fresh scrutiny in recent weeks with the revelation that Trump-era Justice Department prosecutors obtained as part of leak investigations phone records belonging not only to journalists but also to members of Congress and their staffers. Microsoft, for instance, was among the companies that turned over records under a court order, and because of a gag order, had to then wait more than two years before disclosing it.Since then, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president, called for an end to the overuse of secret gag orders, arguing in a Washington Post opinion piece that “prosecutors too often are exploiting technology to abuse our fundamental freedoms.” Attorney General Merrick Garland, meanwhile, has said the Justice Department will abandon its practice of seizing reporter records and will formalize that stance soon.Burt is among the witnesses at a Judiciary Committee hearing about potential legislative solutions to intrusive leak investigations.  House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said in opening remarks Wednesday that the Justice Department took advantage of outdated policies on digital data searches to target journalists and others in leak investigations. The New York Democrat said that reforms are needed now to guard against future overreach by federal prosecutors — an idea also expressed by Republicans on the committee.”We cannot trust the department to police itself,” Nadler said.Burt said that while the revelation that federal prosecutors had sought data about journalists and political figures was shocking to many Americans, the scope of surveillance is much broader. He criticized prosecutors for reflexively seeking secrecy through boilerplate requests that “enable law enforcement to just simply assert a conclusion that a secrecy order is necessary.”Burt said that while Microsoft Corp. does cooperate with law enforcement on a broad range of criminal and national security investigations, it often challenges surveillance that it sees as unnecessary, resulting at times in advance notice to the account being targeted.Among the organizations weighing in at the hearing was The Associated Press, which called on Congress to act to protect journalists’ ability to promise confidentiality to their sources. Reporters must have prior notice and the ability to challenge a prosecutor’s efforts to seize data, said a statement submitted by Karen Kaiser, AP’s general counsel.”It is essential that reporters be able to credibly promise confidentially to ensure the public has the information needed to hold its government accountable and to help government agencies and officials function more effectively and with integrity,” Kaiser said.  As possible solutions, Burt said, the government should end indefinite secrecy orders and should also be required to notify the target of the data demand once the secrecy order has expired.Just this week, he said, prosecutors sought a blanket gag order affecting the government of a major U.S. city for a Microsoft data request targeting a single employee there.”Without reform, abuses will continue to occur and they will occur in the dark,” Burt said.

New Statue of Liberty Arrives in New York From France

A new, smaller version of the Statue of Liberty arrived Wednesday at Ellis Island in New York Harbor, a gift to the United States from France, 135 years after that nation presented the original Lady Liberty to the U.S.  
The nearly-three-meter version of the statue arrived in New York after a nine-day journey across the Atlantic Ocean. The bronze statue is on loan for 10 years to the French embassy in Washington from the French National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts (CNAM). For the past decade it stood at the entrance to the National Museum of Arts and Crafts (the Musée des Arts et Métiers) in Paris.
The French news agency reports the replica was created from a 3-D scan of the original plaster model from 1878 used by sculptor Auguste Bartholdi to build “La Liberté enlightening the world” offered by France to the United States in honor of its centennial in 1886.  
During a ceremony in Paris earlier in June, as the replica was being packed up to be shipped, CNAM administrator Olivier Faron said the smaller statue is meant to reaffirm the friendship between France and the United States.  
At the same ceremony, the interim deputy head of mission at the U.S. embassy in Paris, Liam Wasley, called the replica a reminder of the strong links between the U.S. and France, “the liberty that we share and the importance that each generation maintain that liberty.”
The new “little sister” Statue of Liberty will be formally welcomed in a ceremony Thursday and stand facing its 93-meter big sister through July 4 Independence Day celebrations.  
It will then be shipped to Washington to be installed at the French ambassador’s residence. The “little sister” will be unveiled there beginning July 14, France’s Bastille Day, and remain there for 10 years.

Brexit: Children in Care Threatened With Becoming Undocumented in United Kingdom

They are called Adam or Nastashia, they are Europeans and live in the United Kingdom where they have been placed in homes or foster families, victims of chaotic journeys. Some of these children are now at risk of becoming undocumented as a result of Brexit.”This means that they will not have the right to live in the United Kingdom,” warns Marianne Lagrue, an official of the association Coram Children’s Legal Center which helps them. “They will not be able to access free health care, work, receive benefits, rent housing, learn to drive and have a bank account,” she told AFP.At 18, they also risk deportation from a country where they have often resided for a long time. Because since the United Kingdom definitively left the orbit of the European Union on January 1, it is no longer possible to settle there freely or to continue to reside there without special procedures, as was the case. before. While migration rules have been tightened for new arrivals from the EU, those who were already on British soil on December 31, 2020 can retain their rights provided they register, by June 30 at the latest, via the ” settlement scheme.”The program is considered a “success” by the government, with some 5 million temporary or permanent residence permits granted – far more than the number of EU nationals previously estimated at over 3 million. But it also has its drop-outs. “It’s simple if you have a job, if you are doing well with digital technologies (the requests being made mainly online, Editor’s note) and if you have all your documents,” notes Azmina Siddique, from the association The Children’s Society, interviewed by AFP. It is much more complex for children in care or young adults who have been placed: some find it difficult to prove their identity, provide the required residence documents or obtain the necessary support for their procedures, which are the responsibility of their legal guardian or the authorities. The Coram association cites the example of Adam, a 4-year-old Romanian boy born in London and separated from his mother. He cannot obtain a passport from his embassy – his father, whose consent is required, is unknown – and social workers are struggling to prove his place of residence before his placement.  There is also Nastashia (assumed name), 17, broken with her family. Born in the UK, she does not have a passport and has encountered great difficulties in registering. “Many do not even realize that they are not British,” says Azmina Siddique. The impact can be “very traumatic” and “hold them back in life.”Difficult to know their exact number, the nationalities of the children placed not being collected in the United Kingdom, where the identity card does not exist. According to the Interior Ministry, 3,660 vulnerable young people (up to 25 years old) have been identified as eligible for residency status, 67% of whom had submitted an application at the end of April. A figure largely underestimated according to associations which evoke up to 9,000 of them. The ministry assured to work “closely” with these and the local authorities with in particular a support of 22 million pounds (25.6 million euros). He also promised to accept late requests if there are “reasonable grounds.”This is insufficient, regrets Azmina Siddique: from July 1, children who have missed the deadline will be “without protection” until a request for regularization has been submitted and then accepted. An interval which can extend over years, she emphasizes, and which exposes them to the hostile environment policy towards immigrants deployed by the executive.  “These children could become the next Windrush generation,” she warns, referring to the scandal over the treatment of thousands of Caribbean immigrants who legally arrived in the UK between 1948 and 1971, but denied rights for lack of necessary documentation. The3Million, an association defending European citizens in the UK, urges the government to provide physical proof of residence status, which the government does not consider necessary.More broadly, according to the U.K. think tank in a Changing Europe, up to hundreds of thousands of people could find themselves without status, including the elderly, the homeless, victims of domestic violence or children wrongly considered by their parents as being covered by theirs.  “If the government is not able to regularize the children for which it is responsible, what about children in vulnerable families (…) or vulnerable adults?” Asks Marianne Lagrue. 

COVID-19 Leaves Long-Term Scars on Europe’s Youth 

European borders and economies are opening up this summer, thanks to falling coronavirus cases and rising vaccination numbers. But experts warn the pandemic’s scars could be long term and profound—especially for young people, a generation Europe cannot afford to lose.
Things are looking up for young Parisians. Bars and restaurants have reopened, also schools and universities, for the last weeks before summer vacations.  Young people having coffee in Paris. France reopened bars and restaurants mid-may as coronavirus cases dropped. (Lisa Bryant/VOA)At a community room with other students, Sorbonne University student Katarzyna Mac is studying for final exams. She is grateful that months of coronavirus confinement are over.  At a community room with other students, Sorbonne University student Katarzyna Mac is studying for final exams. She is grateful that months of coronavirus confinement are over.  With France’s rolling lockdowns, Mac says, it was difficult and stressful to be alone all day in front of the computer. Like other students in France, she spent most of her academic year taking online classes from home. Katazyna Mac studies for final exams at her student housing outside Paris. (Lisa Bryant/VOA)Experts point to multiple ways the crisis has and continues to hit Europe’s youth — causing economic, social and mental distress. Many, like Mac, already live on the edge.  Shuttered businesses, especially in sectors like hospitality, wiped out job opportunities on which many depend.  European Union statistics estimate more than 17% of people under 25 are out of work — more than twice the regional average. Youth poverty and homelessness are on the rise. So is depression.  Abbe Pierre Foundation’s European Studies head, Sarah Coupechoux, says many European youth are living on the edge. (Lisa Bryant/VOA)Sarah Coupechoux is Europe studies head for French nonprofit the Abbe Pierre Foundation. She says there is a segment of Europeans today, including young people, who are merely surviving. With the pandemic and job losses, huge lines of young people have been seeking food, and are hungry. A recent report by the charity also explores the growing difficulties Europe’s youth face in finding housing.  Like many other young Europeans, Mac was too poor to leave home. But she recently managed to find subsidized housing, at a building for young students and workers on the edge of Paris.  Her apartment has just enough room for a bed, desk and small kitchen. Dirty dishes are piled high in the sink. The refrigerator is mostly empty.  She gets student aid and a small government stipend. But it’s not enough live on. Her parents don’t always have enough to help her out.  Days of studying alone have also taken a psychological toll.  Even before COVID, the disease caused by the coronavirus, she said, she had problems with stress and suicidal thoughts. It got worse with the pandemic. It was especially stressful not to be able to go to class normally.  COVID-19 is the disease caused by the coronavirus. The pandemic has compounded hardships for other young people — especially, studies find — those from disadvantaged neighborhoods.  In the working-class Paris suburb of Bobigny, youth activist Stanley Camille says students had a hard time accessing the internet, which they needed to follow online classes during lockdown. Families are poor in his town, he says. Often there’s only one computer for four or five children.  Last year, France rolled out a multi-billion-dollar initiative to help its youth get the jobs, training and education they need. Student canteens offer lunches for just over a dollar. European leaders vow to fight against poverty. But experts like Coupechoux say much more is needed.   Coupechoux says on national and local levels in Europe, institutions must be alerted on the importance of supporting this young generation.  Mac agrees. She is getting psychological help — but says demand is high and state services are understaffed. She and her neighbors have started a support group — and share basics like milk to get by. Long walks in parks like this one, also help.  Mac also landed a summer job doing civic service. Mac says she hopes life will finally get back to normal. But with threats of new variants spreading, nothing could be less certain.  

COVID Leaves Long-Term Scars on Europe’s Youth

European borders and economies are opening up this summer, thanks to falling coronavirus cases and rising vaccination numbers. But experts warn the pandemic’s scars could be long term and profound — especially for young people, a generation Europe cannot afford to lose. For VOA, Lisa Bryant has the story from Paris.Camera:  Lisa Bryant
Produced by: Jon Spier  

EU Asylum Applications Drop Due to COVID-19, not Lower Demand

The European Union’s asylum agency said Tuesday that the number of people seeking international protection in Europe hit its lowest level last year since 2013, but that the drop was due mostly to coronavirus travel restrictions. EASO said in a new report that 485,000 asylum applications were made in the 27 EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland in 2020. That’s a 32% decrease over the previous year. It said that “reduced applications were primarily due to restricted mobility and travel, rather than a decrease in the number of people in need of international protection.” Two-thirds of the applications were lodged in just three countries. Germany, where most people from conflict-torn Syria are seeking refuge, registered 122,000 applications, while France had 93,000 applications for international protection and Spain had 89,000. But EASO said that when economic growth and population size are taken into account, Cyprus, Greece and Malta remain under the greatest pressure to process applications and house asylum-seekers. Most people seeking protection were from Syria and Afghanistan, followed by nationals of Venezuela and Colombia – who tend to lodge their applications in Spain – and Iraqis. Citizens of Turkey remain among the top seven nationalities hoping to find protection in Europe. 

Pandemic Pushes Refugees in Turkey Into Debt Crisis

The coronavirus pandemic has forced millions of Syrian refugees living in Turkey deeper into poverty, with many having to take on large debts, according to aid agencies. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.