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Sex workers denied U.S. visa hold their own AIDS conference

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Hundreds of sex workers from around the world who said they were denied visas to attend an international AIDS conference in the United States began their own meeting in Kolkata on Saturday in protest.

Some 550 representatives of sex workers from India and 41 other countries were attending the seven-day event in the eastern Indian city, organisers said.

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“Sex workers wanted to be a part of the US conference to fight the challenge of HIV/AIDS across the world,” said Bharati De, secretary of the Committee for Coordination of Indomitable Women, which represents sex workers in Kolkata.

India’s AIDS control programme has cut new HIV/AIDS infections by 50 percent in the last 10 years. The country has an estimated 2.4 million people with HIV.

One of India’s key strategies has been to scale up preventive education campaigns among high-risk groups such as sex workers.

But despite the significant drop in fresh cases, India still has the highest number of people living with HIV after South Africa and Nigeria.

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The Indian conference has been called the sex workers’ “Freedom Festival”.

The Kolkata meeting will deliberate on the “Seven Freedoms” — the right to move, work, have access to healthcare, participate, organise, be free of violence and discrimination — without which sex workers say they cannot reduce their vulnerability to HIV.

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“Sex workers have decided to hold a parallel conference here in Kolkata to make their voices heard,” Smarajit Jana, chairwoman of the Indian event, told AFP.

“We hope this conference will make sex workers’ voices louder and stronger,” Jana said outside the conference auditorium on the eastern fringes of the West Bengal state capital.

Held every two years, the International AIDS Conference is returning to the United States for the first time since 1990, after being kept away by laws that barred people with HIV from travelling to the country.

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Some 25,000 people, including celebrities, scientists and HIV sufferers are expected to attend the US conference which opens on Sunday to call for a jumpstart in the global response to the three-decade AIDS epidemic.

The US conference runs until July 27.

But “the US government’s travel restriction for sex workers will bar many of them from attending the conference,” Andrew Hunter, president of the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, said in Kolkata.

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“With the US now leading the fight for lesbian, gay and transgender equality, we are extremely disappointed they refuse to revise their restrictions on sex workers and refuse to recognise we’re human beings with basic rights,” he added.

Kolkata sex worker Bharati De said she was disappointed she could not go to Washington.

“The restrictions imposed by the US on granting visas to sex workers have dashed our hopes of sharing our opinions with others,” she told AFP.

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More than 34 million people worldwide are living with HIV, a higher number than ever before, and around 30 million have died from AIDS-related causes since the disease first emerged in the 1980s, according to UNAIDS.

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

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Humanitarian volunteer says he won’t be deterred after facing charges in Arizona for helping migrants

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We broadcast live from Tucson, Arizona, where the government recently put humanitarian activist Scott Warren on trial amid the ongoing policing of the U.S.-Mexico border, separation of families, and cruel and inhumane conditions at immigrant jails across the country. Warren, a longtime volunteer with the humanitarian aid group No More Deaths, was charged with three felony counts for his alleged crime of providing food, water and shelter to migrants in Ajo, Arizona. The immigrants had arrived at the doorstep of a humanitarian shelter after a perilous journey across the Sonoran Desert. At the same time, he and other volunteers also faced separate misdemeanor charges for leaving water jugs and food for migrants on a national wildlife refuge in the remote desert. The trial took eight days, and after hours of deliberation, the jury returned without a verdict. Eight found Scott Warren not guilty; the remaining four said he was. The government will now retry Warren in November. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison. As he awaits his next trial, Scott Warren met us in the remote town of Ajo, Arizona, this weekend for his first trip in a year to leave water and food for migrants in the desert.

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Trump tweets out bonkers conspiracy theory that Google ‘manipulated’ up to 16 million votes for Hillary Clinton

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President Donald Trump on Monday tweeted out a bonkers conspiracy theory claiming that Google "manipulated" up to 16 million votes on behalf of former Democratic rival during the 2016 presidential election.

"Wow, Report Just Out!" the president wrote. "Google manipulated from 2.6 million to 16 million votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016 Election! This was put out by a Clinton supporter, not a Trump Supporter! Google should be sued. My victory was even bigger than thought!"

Wow, Report Just Out! Google manipulated from 2.6 million to 16 million votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016 Election! This was put out by a Clinton supporter, not a Trump Supporter! Google should be sued. My victory was even bigger than thought! @JudicialWatch

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Trump’s economic adviser doesn’t see a recession coming — but he said the same thing in 2008

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President Donald Trump's chief economic adviser insists there are no signs of a recession on the horizon -- but he's been staggeringly wrong before.

Larry Kudlow went on NBC's "Meet the Press" over the weekend to assure viewers that no economic downturn was coming, but the Washington Post's Aaron Blake pointed out that his track record for predictions was pitiful.

“Well, I’ll tell you what: I sure don’t see a recession,” Kudlow told host Chuck Todd. “So I think actually the second half, the economy’s going to be very good in 2019.”

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