"EU Should Enable Military Coalitions To Tackle Crises, Germany Says"
- EU tries to revive idea of intervention force
EU, an economic power, lacks common defences
- Afghanistan shows need for action, Borrell says
- U.S. says more
capable Europe 'in our shared interests'
- Washington urges greater EU-NATO cooperation
Slovenia, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Germany called on the European Union on Thursday to enable coalitions of the willing within the
bloc to rapidly deploy a military force in a crisis as members discussed the lessons learned after the chaotic evacuation
from Afghanistan. EU efforts to create a rapid reaction force have been paralysed for more than a decade despite the creation
in 2007 of a system of battlegroups of 1,500 troops that have never been used due to disputes over funding and a reluctance
to deploy. But the exit of U.S.-led troops from Afghanistan has brought the subject back into the spotlight, with the EU alone
potentially unable to evacuate personnel from countries where it is training foreign troops, such as in Mali.
there are events that catalyse history, that create a breakthrough, and I think that Afghanistan is one of these cases,"
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in Slovenia, adding that he hoped for a plan in October or November. Borrell urged
the bloc to create a rapidly deployable "first entry force" of 5,000 troops to reduce dependence on the United States.
He said President Joe Biden was the third consecutive U.S. leader to warn the Europeans that his country was pulling back
from interventions abroad in Europe's backyard. "It represents a warning for the Europeans, they need to wake (up) and
to take their own responsibilities," he said after chairing a meeting of EU defence ministers in Slovenia. Diplomats
in the meeting told Reuters there was no decision on the way ahead, with the EU unable to agree on how it would quickly decide
to authorise a mission without involving all 27 states, their national parliaments and those wanting United Nations approval.
Asked to comment on the German call, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said "a stronger, more capable Europe
is in our shared interests" and that Washington strongly supported enhanced cooperation between the European Union and
the U.S.-led NATO military alliance.
"NATO and the EU must forge stronger and institutional links and leverage
each institution's unique capabilities and strengths to avoid duplication and potential waste of scarce resources," he
told a regular news briefing. The proposal from Germany, one of the strongest military powers in the EU but historically reluctant
to send its forces into combat, would rely on a joint decision by the bloc but not necessarily all members deploying their
forces. "In the EU, coalitions of the willing could act after a joint decision of all," German Defence Minister
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said in a tweet. A rapid reaction force is seen as more likely now that Britain has exited the
bloc. Britain, one of Europe's main military powers alongside France, had been sceptical of collective defence policy. EU
diplomats say they want a final deal on design and funding by March. France takes over the six-month EU presidency from Slovenia
in January. Kramp-Karrenbauer said the key question was not whether the EU would establish a new military unit, and the discussion
must not stop there. "The military capabilities in EU member countries do exist," she said. "The key question
for the future of the European security and defence police is how we finally use our military capabilities together."
Slovenian Defence Minister Matej Tonin suggested that a rapid reaction force could comprise 5,000 to 20,000 troops but
deployment should not depend on a unanimous decision by the EU's 27 states. "If we are talking about the European battlegroups,
the problem is that, because of the consensus, they are almost never activated," he told reporters. "Maybe the solution
is that we invent a mechanism where the classic majority will be enough and those who are willing will be able to go (ahead)."
"Ask for COVID-19 Vaccine Proof, Face a US $5,000 Fine in Florida"
Florida will start issuing US$5,000 fines to businesses, schools and government
agencies that require people to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill earlier this
year that banned vaccine passports. The fines will start Sept. 16 if people are asked to show proof of a vaccine. "Promises
made, promises kept," DeSantis spokesperson Taryn Fenske said Wednesday.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried,
the state's only statewide elected Democrat and a candidate hoping to challenge DeSantis for governor next year, was critical
of the fines. "Governor DeSantis is retaliating against Floridians who are trying to protect themselves and their communities
from COVID-19," Fried said in an emailed statement. "This not only goes against common sense -- it's also an insult
to the free market principles that he claims to champion."
COVID-19 infections in Florida have skyrocketed over
the summer as the state has been one of the hardest hit areas of the U.S. from the delta variant. The U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services has reported more than 15,000 patients are currently hospitalized in Florida, up from about 1,800 in June.
"Driver's Licenses Will Soon Be Coming To The iPhone And Apple Watch In These 8 States"
Eight states will begin to roll out a new feature that will allow users
to add their driver's license and state IDs to Apple Wallet for iPhone and Apple Watch. Arizona and Georgia will be the first
states to introduce the feature, Apple announced on Wednesday, with Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma and Utah
to follow afterward.
The states have not yet said when they'll start making the digital IDs available, but once they
do, the Transportation Security Administration said it will allow travelers to use them at checkpoints and security lanes
at select airports. "The addition of driver's licenses and state IDs to Apple Wallet is an important step in our vision
of replacing the physical wallet with a secure and easy-to-use mobile wallet," said Jennifer Bailey, Apple's vice president
of Apple Pay and Apple Wallet. Adding a license or ID will work much the same way as adding a debit or credit card to Apple
Wallet, but Apple said it is rolling out a few requirements for additional security. After users scan their IDs on their iOS
device, they will be asked to take a selfie, which will be securely provided to the issuing state for verification. As an
additional security measure, users will also be asked to complete a series of facial and head movements during the setup process.
The company said customer data is "encrypted and protected against tampering and theft," ensuring that only
the owner who added the ID to their iPhone or Apple Watch can view the ID. And it's designed so that users can present their
digital IDs at TSA checkpoints without having to take out physical identification cards or hand over their Apple devices.
The new ID feature will be available with the newest iPhone software update release this fall.
"Transgender People Twice As Likely To Die As Cisgender People, Study Finds"
TOPLINE Transgender people are twice as likely to die as cisgender people,
according to a long running study published in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology on Thursday, a difference researchers
said underscores the need for improving social acceptance and medical care for trans people.
The increased risk did not fall over the almost five decades studied between 1972 and 2018, according to an analysis of medical
records from nearly 3,000 trans women and more than 1,600 trans men treated at the Amsterdam University Medical Center, which
treats around 90% of trans people in the country.
- Trans women had particularly elevated risks of death-notably from
heart disease, lung cancer, HIV-related illness and suicide-the researchers noted, and were almost twice as likely to die
than cis men and nearly three times as likely to die than cis women.
- There were no differences in the risks of death
between trans and cisgender men, the study found, though the group was almost twice as likely to die than cis women, especially
from non-natural causes like suicide.
- The researchers said the findings add weight to the idea that the health disparities
observed in transgender people are not primarily driven by gender-affirming hormone treatment-which can potentially increase
the likelihood of some conditions-as most causes of increased death identified have no indication of being a consequence of
- Lead author Martin den Heijer said bolstering social acceptance and improving healthcare for trans people,
particularly for heart disease, tobacco use, and HIV, will be important for decreasing the risk of death, adding that further
research will be needed to "fully establish" any long-term risk to hormone treatment.
well documented that transgender and gender non-conforming people, particularly trans women, have much higher risks
of death and illness than the general population. Hormone therapy has been identified as a possible, though not definite,
contributor towards this. Trans adults are at a much greater risk of dealing with suicidal thoughts and attempting suicide
than cisgender adults, as well as more likely to experience homelessness, violence and discrimination.
study is observational and based on medical records, it is possible other factors not recorded could have contributed towards
the higher death rates in transgender people. The authors stress caution when applying its findings to other regions, which
may use different kinds of gender-affirming hormone treatment and the 90% white study group. In a linked comment, Emory University's
Dr. Vin Tangpricha, who was not involved in the study, said gender-affirming hormone treatment for trans women in the U.S.
and U.K. typically differs and could raise different safety concerns.
First author Christel de Blok said most suicides and deaths related to HIV in the study occurred in the first decades
studied, "suggesting that greater social acceptance and access to support, and improved treatments for HIV, may have
played an important role in reducing deaths related to these causes among transgender people in recent years."
"Rare 3,100 Year Old Inscription Could Be Linked to Gideon From the Book of Judges, Israeli Archaeologists Says"
Israeli archaeologists have uncovered an extremely rare
3,100-year-old inscription of a name that could very well be linked to the biblical judge Gideon from the Old Testament book
of Judges. According to The Times of Israel, archaeologists found a pottery vessel from a storage pit dating back to 1,100
BC at the Khirbet el Rai site during excavations in the Judean foothills. The small jug had an inscription of the name "Jerubbaal"
or "Yeruba'al" on it, which was the same name given to Gideon, whose story is found in Judges 6, 7, and 8.
The rare find could be the first case of hard evidence of an artifact with a name connected to the biblical judges. "For
decades, there were practically no inscriptions of this era and region," Michael Langlois, a polymath independent epigrapher
and historian, told The Times of Israel. "To the point that we were not even sure what the alphabet looked like at that
time. There was a gap. Some even argued that the alphabet was unknown in the region, that there were no scribes, and that
the Bible must therefore have been written much later."
Professor Christopher Rollston from George Washington
University, who deciphered the text, noted that the 'Jerubbaal' inscription is "the most logical and reasonable reading,
and I consider it quite definitive." "I would hasten to add that this script is well known and nicely attested,
so we can read it with precision," he added. According to UPI, archaeologists explained that while Gideon was also called
Jerubaal, they could not confirm if he owned the vessel with the inked inscription.
"According to the Bible,
Gideon organized a small army of 300 soldiers and attacked the Midianites by night near Ma'ayan Harod," Yossef Garfinkel
and Sa'ar Ganor, lead archaeologists on the project and professors at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, explained. "In
view of the geographical distance between the Shephelah and the Jezreel Valley, this inscription may refer to another Jerubbaal
and not the Gideon of biblical tradition, although the possibility cannot be ruled out that the jug belonged to the judge
Gideon," they continued.
"In any event, the name Jerubbaal was evidently in common usage at the time of
the biblical Judges," Garfinkel and Ganor noted. On Monday, the archaeologists published the discovery of the inscription
in the Jerusalem Journal of Archaeology, an open-access online journal.