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Migrant Criminals Claim to Be Trafficked Children to Evade Justice

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Theresa May’s modern slavery bill is being abused by allowing criminal migrants to claim they are under 18 and the victims of trafficking in order to avoid arrest, according to an investigation by the Sunday Times.

The Modern Slavery Bill — which was introduced to protect workers trafficked into the country to work in cannabis farms, nail bars, or even as prostitutes — contains protections for minors that says they are to be protected from prosecution if they’re involved in criminal activity. However, many adults who are caught engaging in such professions are claiming to be under 18 in order to avoid prosecution.

The Sunday Times report says that they have been shown documents that refer to multiple instances of Vietnamese adult criminals being placed into foster care under the system as they claimed to be under 18.

In one instance, a worker at a cannabis factory claimed he was 15 years old and had been trafficked to the UK. The Crown Prosecution Service advised against pressing charges because police could not prove he was not a child, with officers saying:

“He was clearly an adult conspiring to grow large amounts of cannabis.”

The criminal adult migrant was then placed in social care and went missing after three days. The police even listed the man as a vulnerable missing child. When he was discovered, and claimed again that he was 15, he was housed in foster care, but went missing once more. His whereabouts remain unknown.

One officer, Detective Sergeant Stuart Peall, head of Lancashire constabulary’s exploitation team, said: “How do you prove the age of a foreign national inside 24 hours who won’t even tell you their real name? In most cases it is simply impossible. Age assessments take weeks. There is no way of doing it inside that timescale. The law means there is a presumption they are under 18 unless we can prove otherwise within hours of arrest.”

An investigation into an asylum seeker posing as a 15-year-old boy at an English school has concluded he is a grown man.

Despite the abuses of the system, it was ruled last week that age assessments based on the appearance of unaccompanied asylum seekers were unlawful. The new ruling states that judging people on their appearance, even if it “very strongly suggests that they are significantly over 18 years of age”, is not legitimate and risks “children being unlawfully detained”.

A government report from April 2018 revealed that 65 per cent of alleged unaccompanied migrant minors whose age was under question were found to be adults. The investigation followed public concern in 2016 of the age of ‘minor’ migrants being allowed to come to the UK under the Dubs amendment, where some ‘child refugees’ being brought over from Calais appeared much older than children.

In November 2018, the Home Office admitted a grown man, an asylum seeker from Iran, had been placed at Stoke High School in Ipswich. The migrant was removed from the class and an investigation opened into how the Home Office had incorrectly assessed the age of the individual in the first place. The issue came to light after 15-year-old pupils shared pictures on social media of a clearly adult-looking ‘student’ in school uniform, with one child writing: “How’s there a 30-year-old man in our maths class?”

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Iran Blocks Nearly All Internet Access

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Iran imposed an almost complete nationwide internet blackout on Sunday one of its most draconian attempts to cut off Iranians from each other and the rest of the world as widespread anti-government unrest roiled the streets of Tehran and other cities for a third day, The New York Times reported.

The death toll for the three days of protests rose to at least 12; hundreds were injured; and more than 1,000 people have been arrested, according to semiofficial news agencies like Fars News.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last word on all state matters, called the demonstrators “thugs” and endorsed the government’s decision to raise prices it sets for rationed gasoline by 50 percent as of Friday and by 300 percent for gasoline that exceeds ration limits. Even after the price hike, gasoline in Iran is still cheaper than in most of the rest of the world – now the equivalent of about 50 cents a gallon.

In a speech on Sunday, Khamenei said he would support rationing and increasing gas prices because heads of three branches of government had made the decision.

Khamenei also acknowledged that Iranians had taken to the streets to protest and that some had died – however, he blamed the protests on monarchists and opposition groups trying to destabilize Iran, the Times added.

The widespread discontent on display across the country marked yet another crisis for the country. Iran has been struggling with an economic crisis after the United States exited a nuclear deal and reimposed harsh sanctions that ban Iran’s oil sales.

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HASC Chairman Claims Legislation to Create a Space Force in 2020 ‘Still Possible’

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House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith said last week that negotiations on the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act are “proceeding reasonably well” but he expressed doubt that the NDAA will include language to authorize a Space Force as a separate military branch, SpaceNews reported.

“It’s still possible but by no means guaranteed,” Smith told reporters on Capitol Hill last week. When asked for specifics, Smith said, “I don’t think it would be helpful for me to make predictions.”

The biggest sticking point in the NDAA negotiations is language in the House version of the bill that restricts the use of military funds to pay for the wall that President Trump wants to build along the U.S.-Mexico border, SpaceNews adds.

There are other dealbreaker issues. The authorization of a Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces is one of them, Smith said. Other contentious matters include extending the “war powers” legislation that authorizes the president to use military force, and allowing transgender people to serve in the military.

Smith said the House and Senate NDAA conference in recent weeks worked on compromise language on hundreds of provisions and “reduced the stack significantly, and we’re down to a few really contentious issues.”

Smith characterized the Space Force as a “higher echelon” issue that is proving divisive. Both Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate continue to have reservations about the administration’s Space Force proposal, said Smith. “There is bipartisan concern on the proposal and bicameral concern about the specifics of that proposal.”

The House version of the NDAA creates a Space Corps and is closer aligned with what the administration proposed. The Senate bill would rename the Air Force Space Command the U.S. Space Force and does not specifically authorize a sixth branch of the armed forces.

Smith noted that the House has been a proponent of a military space branch since 2017 while the Senate had adamantly opposed it. “In their bill they didn’t have the same language that we did. But the president has persuaded them to look at it differently.”

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Gunman Kills Four at California Backyard Party

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Police in the California city of Fresno were investigating a mass shooting at a football game party on Sunday in which at least 10 people were shot, killing four, with five others left in critical condition and another wounded, Reuters informs.

Three men died at the scene and another died at a hospital, Fresno Deputy Police Chief Michael Reed said in a late night news conference. Six more were hospitalized, he said.

“Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of this thing,” Reed said. “This was senseless violence. We’re going to do everything we can to find out who the perpetrators were and bring them to justice.”

A gunman walked into a backyard and started shooting at a south Fresno home, where a gathering of about 35 family and friends was watching a football game before 8 p.m., said Reed. Neighbors soon flooded 911 dispatchers with calls for help, Reuters adds.

The suspect fled the scene and police were combing the neighborhood for witnesses and possible security camera footage, police said. Police did not release further information about the shooting in the city about 200 miles (320 km) north of Los Angeles, except that the dead were men between the ages of 25 and 35.

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