- Katy Perry was announced as the newest ambassador of Prince Charles’ British Asian Trust charity on Tuesday.
- Perry, who also serves as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, will be supporting efforts to reduce child-trafficking in India.
- Many have slammed the American pop singer, saying she should not be given the role because she is neither British or Asian.
- Others have defended Perry, arguing that she shouldn’t be criticized for wanting to use her platform and kindness to help a good cause.
Perry’s New Position
Pop star Katy Perry was named an ambassador of the British Asian Trust by Prince Charles at the charity’s annual dinner on Tuesday.
The two famous figures met for the first time last year in India, the day before Prince Charles’ 71st birthday.
“Meeting her turned out to be a wonderful birthday present,” Prince Charles said of Perry at Tuesday’s dinner in London.
“Given Katy’s long-standing commitment to charitable causes around the world, I’m delighted to be announcing that she has most generously agreed to become an ambassador for the British Asian Trust’s children’s protection fund for India,” he said. “I could hardly be more grateful to Katy for agreeing to take on this vital role.”
Founded by Prince Charles and a group of British-Asian business leaders in 2007, the trust aims to build programs to support vulnerable people across South Asia. Its key areas of focus are education, livelihood, mental health, and anti-trafficking.
In her new role, Perry will support efforts to reduce child trafficking in India, which she says has “long held a special place in [her] heart.” She has also been a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nation’s children’s agency, UNICEF, since 2013.
“My work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador has taken me to many parts of the world and opened my eyes to the many vulnerabilities of children,” Perry said in a statement.
“That is why I am especially honored to be named an ambassador for the British Asian Trust’s Children’s Protection Fund, and to help shine my light on the work that the British Asian Trust will be doing in South Asia, and to be a part of finding solutions to child trafficking,” she added. “Children are vulnerable and innocent and have to be protected.”
Backlash for the Decision
Once the world got wind of the pop star’s new appointment, many were quick to criticize Perry, who is neither British nor Asian.
“For the avoidance of doubt: white American women should not be representatives of British Asian people,” one Twitter user wrote.
Some accused Perry of buying into the “white savior complex,” which refers to the idea of white people helping non-white people in a context that can be perceived as self-serving.
Others also pointed to the singer’s history of being criticized for cultural insensitivity, like when she made a meme out of a Hindu goddess, dressed as a geisha, and likened a zit to a bindi – a decorative mark worn by Indian women.
Another wave of critics made jokes comparing Katy Perry to Scarlett Johansson, who has been slammed in similar ways for taking on the role of an Asian character and a transgender man, insisting that as an actress, she has the right to take on any kind of role she wants.
Defense of Perry
While Perry was slammed by many, others jumped to defend the singer, arguing that her position as a white woman shouldn’t dismiss her from supporting vulnerable groups.
“Why is everyone so pressed about a woman with a HUGE [platform] trying to help the world???” one user wrote.
Why is everyone so pressed about a woman with a HUGE plataform trying to help the world??? pic.twitter.com/sSoBgvg724— Fran (@widestan) February 5, 2020
Fellow British Asian Trust ambassadors Sonali Shah and Nihal Arthanayake stood behind Perry as well.
“Some of the comments about @katyperry joining us as an ambassador of the @britishasiantst are starting to feel a little ‘stay in your lane’ & dare I say it, at times, racist,” Shah tweeted. “Supporting those in need in South Asia isn’t just the job of British Asians. She cares. And so should you.”
The common thread in the arguments of Perry’s defenders is that she shouldn’t be criticized for wanting to help a good cause.
“People do not understand that care, kindness, philanthropy etc bears no race,” one person wrote on Twitter. “They are human traits. If Katy Perry has all the above for this cause and charity it should be celebrated.”
People do not understand that care, kindness, philanthropy etc bears no race. They are human traits. If Katy Perry has all the above for this cause and charity it should be celebrated.— Eniola Aluko (@EniAlu) February 5, 2020
U.K. Court Rules Julian Assange Can Be Extradited to U.S.
The judgment overrules a lower court decision that blocked the WikiLeaks founder’s extradition on the grounds that his mental health was not stable enough to weather harsh conditions in the American prison system if convicted.
New Developments in Assange Extradition Battle
A British court ruled Friday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to the United States to face charges of violating the Espionage Act that could land him in prison for decades.
Prosecutors in the U.S. have accused Assange of conspiring with former army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in 2010 to hack into a Department of Defense computer network and access thousands of military and diplomatic records on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The information obtained in the hack was later published by WikiLeaks in 2010 and 2011, a move U.S. authorities allege put lives in danger.
In addition to a charge of computer misuse, Assange has also been indicted on 17 espionage charges. Collectively, the charges carry a maximum prison sentence of 175 years.
The Friday decision from the High Court overturns a lower court ruling in January, which found that Assange’s mental health was too fragile for the harsh environment he could face in the U.S. prison system if convicted.
Notably, the January ruling did not determine whether or not Assange was guilty. In fact, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser explicitly rejected the defense’s arguments that the charges against him were politically motivated and that he should be protected under freedom of press.
However, she agreed that the defense had provided compelling evidence that Assange suffers from severe depression and that the conditions he could face in the U.S. prison system were “such that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America.”
The U.S. appealed the ruling, arguing that Assange’s mental health should not be a barrier to extradition and that the psychiatrist who examined him had been biased.
In October, the Biden administration vowed that if Assange were to be convicted, he would not be placed in the highest-security U.S. prison or immediately sent to solitary confinement. Officials also said that the native Australian would be eligible to serve his sentence in his home country.
High Court Ruling
The High Court agreed with the administration’s arguments in its ruling, arguing that the American’s assurances regarding the conditions of Assange’s potential incarceration were “sufficient.”
“There is no reason why this court should not accept the assurances as meaning what they say,” the ruling stated. “There is no basis for assuming that the USA has not given the assurances in good faith.”
Assange’s fiancé, Stella Moris, said in a statement that his legal team would appeal the decision to the British Supreme Court at the “earliest possible moment,” referring to the judgment as a “grave miscarriage of justice.”
The Supreme Court will now decide whether or not to hear the case based on if it believes the matter involves a point of law “of general public importance.” That decision may take weeks or even months.
If the U.K. Supreme Court court objects to hearing Assange’s appeal, he could ask the European Court of Human Rights to stay the extradition — a move that could set in motion another lengthy legal battle in the already drawn-out process.
Assange and his supporters claim he was acting as an investigative journalist when he published the classified military cables. They argue that the possibility of his extradition and prosecution represent serious threats to press freedoms in the U.S.
U.S. prosecutors dispute that Assange acted as a journalist, claiming that he encouraged illegal hacking for personal reasons.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (The Washington Post)
Early Data Indicates Omicron is More Transmissible But Less Severe
The studies come as Pfizer and BioNTech claim that preliminary research shows a third shot of their COVID vaccine appears to provide sufficient protection against the new variant, but two doses alone may not.
More Information About Omicron
Several preliminary studies published in recent days appear to show that the new omicron COVID-19 variant may be more transmissible but less severe than previous strains.
One recent, un-peer-reviewed study by a Japanese scientist who advises the country’s health ministry found that omicron is four times more transmissible in its initial stage than delta was.
Preliminary information in countries hit hard by omicron also indicates high transmissibility. In South Africa — where the variant was first detected and is already the dominant strain — new COVID cases have more than doubled over the last week.
Health officials in the U.K. said omicron cases are doubling every two or three days, and they expect the strain to become dominant in the country in a matter of weeks.
In a statement Wednesday, World Health Organization Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that while early data does seem to show high transmissibility, it also indicates that omicron causes more mild cases than delta.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevent Director Rochelle Walensky echoed that sentiment, telling reporters that of the 40 known omicron cases in the U.S. as of Wednesday, nearly all of them were mild. One person has been hospitalized so far and none have died.
Studies on Vaccine Efficacy
Other recent studies have shown that current COVID vaccines are effective at preventing severe illness and death in omicron patients, and boosters provide at least some added protection.
On Wednesday, Pfizer and BioNTech announced that laboratory tests have shown a third dose of their COVID-19 vaccine appears to provide sufficient protection against the omicron variant, though two doses may not.
According to the companies, researchers saw a 25-fold reduction in neutralizing antibodies for omicron compared to other strains of the virus for people who had just two Pfizer doses.
By contrast, samples from people one month after they had received a Pfizer booster presented neutralizing antibodies against omicron that were comparable to those seen against previous variants after two doses.
Still, Pfizer’s chief executive also told reporters later in the day that omicron could increase the likelihood that people might need a fourth dose earlier than previously expected, which he had initially said was 12 months after the third shot.
Notably, the Pfizer research has not yet been peer-reviewed, and it remains unclear how omicron will operate outside a lab, but other studies have had similar findings.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Bloomberg) (NBC News)
40 Camels Disqualified From Beauty Contest After Breeders Inject Their Faces With Botox
The animals were barred from competing for $66 million in prizes at this year’s King Abdulaziz Camel Festival in Saudi Arabia.
Camels Booted From Beauty Contest
More than 40 camels were disqualified from a beauty contest in Saudi Arabia this week after judges found artificial enhancements in their faces, marking the biggest crackdown on contestants in the competition to date.
The animals were competing for $66 million in prizes at the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, a month-long event that is estimated to include around 33,000 camels.
However, according to The Guardian, they were forced out of the contest when authorities found that breeders had “stretched out the lips and noses of the camels, used hormones to boost the animals’ muscles, injected heads and lips with Botox to make them bigger, inflated body parts with rubber bands, and used fillers to relax their faces.”
Those types of alterations are banned since judges look at the contestant’s heads, necks, humps, posture, and other features when evaluating them.
An announcement from the state-linked Saudi Press Agency said officials used “specialized and advanced” technology to detect tampering.
“The club is keen to halt all acts of tampering and deception in the beautification of camels,” the SPA report added before warning that organizers would “impose strict penalties on manipulators.”
While it’s unclear what that actually entails, this isn’t the first time people have tried to cheat in this way.
In 2018, 12 camels were similarly disqualified from the competition for injections in their noses, lips, and jaw.