Migrant rescue ship Aquarius to end operations

A handout photo released on September 24, 2018 by SOS Mediterranee shows the Aquarius rescue ship run by non-governmental organisations (NGO) "SOS Mediterranee" and "Medecins Sans Frontieres" (Doctors without Borders) in the search and rescue zone in the Mediterranean Sea on September 18, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 07 December 2018
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Migrant rescue ship Aquarius to end operations

  • Nearly 5,000 migrants died in 2016 while trying to cross the Mediterranean from Africa and the Middle East to flee war and poverty, according to the UN agency International Organization for Migration (IOM)

LONDON: Search and rescue ship Aquarius, which has saved tens of thousands of migrants from drowning in the Mediterranean, has ended its operations, the charity that runs the ship, Doctors without Borders (MSF), said on Thursday.
MSF and its partner SOS Mediterranee said they were forced to terminate its operations due to a “smear campaign” by European governments.
The ship has been blocked at the French port of Marseilles since it lost its Panamanian registration at the end of September.
The Aquarius was the last charity rescue ship operating off of Libya. Last year there were five groups running rescue ships.
“This is a dark day. Not only has Europe failed to provide dedicated search and rescue capacity, it has also actively sabotaged others’ attempts to save lives,” said Vickie Hawkins, head of MSF UK, in a statement.
“The end of Aquarius means more lives lost at sea; more avoidable deaths that will go unwitnessed and unrecorded. It really is a case of ‘out of sight out of mind’ for UK and European leaders as men, women and children perish,” she said.
Nearly 5,000 migrants died in 2016 while trying to cross the Mediterranean from Africa and the Middle East to flee war and poverty, according to the UN agency International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The number of migrants reaching Italy has fallen sharply since last year as smuggling networks inside Libya, a key departure point for mainly sub-Saharan Africans, have been disrupted and the European Union has stepped up efforts to increase Libyan coast guard patrols.
Data by IOM showed that more than 2,000 people have drowned so far this year.
Italian magistrates in November accused MSF of illegally dumping toxic waste at ports in southern Italy and ordered Aquarius to be impounded.
The charity denied any wrongdoing and accused Italy of seeking to criminalize humanitarian search and rescue missions.
The public prosecutor’s office in Catania, Sicily, said it believed crew on the Aquarius, and its sister ship VOS Prudence, had illegally dumped potentially dangerous medical waste among ordinary rubbish between January 2017 and May 2018.
The Aquarius, which was launched in 2015, at the peak of the migrant crisis in Europe. (Reporting by Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Editing by Jason Fields; . Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking and slavery, property rights, social innovation, resilience and climate change. Visit


’Blurred Lines’ legal saga ends in $5mn ruling favoring Marvin Gaye family

Updated 14 December 2018
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’Blurred Lines’ legal saga ends in $5mn ruling favoring Marvin Gaye family

  • “The verdict handicaps any creator out there who is making something that might be inspired by something else,” Pharell Williams said
  • The initial award in the case had triggered an angry response from many songwriters, who argued that there were major differences between the two songs at the center of the legal battle

LOS ANGELES: A long-running copyright dispute over the smash hit “Blurred Lines” has ended with the family of Motown legend Marvin Gaye winning a nearly $5 million judgment against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams.
Thicke and Williams had been accused by Gaye’s estate of copyright infringement for their 2013 hit because of similarities with the late singer’s “Got to Give It Up.”
In 2015, the estate was awarded more than $7 million but the amount was later reduced to $5.3 million
Thicke and Pharrell appealed that judgment and a California judge earlier this year overall upheld the jury’s decision.
In a December 6 final ruling in the case made public on Thursday, US District Judge John Kronstadt ordered Thicke, Williams and Williams’ publishing company to pay Gaye’s estate $2.9 million in damages, US media reported.
Thicke was ordered to pay an additional $1.76 million. Williams and his publishing company must also separately pay Gay’s estate nearly $360,000.
Gaye’s family was also rewarded 50 percent of the song’s royalties.
The verdict caps a long-drawn legal battle that was closely watched by the music industry.
The initial award in the case had triggered an angry response from many songwriters, who argued that there were major differences between the two songs at the center of the legal battle, including the melodies and lyrics.
Williams, a popular songwriter who had another smash hit with “Happy,” said in an interview in 2015 that all creative people had inspirations.
“The verdict handicaps any creator out there who is making something that might be inspired by something else,” he said at the time.
“If we lose our freedom to be inspired, we’re going to look up one day and the entertainment industry as we know it will be frozen in litigation.”
Representatives of both Williams and Thicke could not be immediately reached for comment.