Monday, December 11, 2017

Amazon drivers 'are asked to deliver up to 200 parcels a day for less than the minimum wage and they even have to urinate into bottles to keep pace'

Amazon delivery drivers are asked to drop off up to 200 packages a day, are paid less than minimum wage and urinate in bottles because there's no time to take a break, according to a new investigation.

Drivers told The Sunday Mirror that they regularly work longer than the legal-maximum 11-hour days and break speed limits to meet delivery goals, which don't take into account traffic jams, road closures or weather problems.

The Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency has vowed to investigate after drivers complained about the conditions they face while delivering packages for Amazon.

Legal firm Leigh Day, which led a case against taxi giant Uber, is representing seven drivers who say the agencies used by Amazon are mistreating them.

While Amazon does not employ the drivers directly, the drivers, who are recruited through agencies, work via an Amazon app and follow delivery routes made by the company.

One worker told The Sunday Mirror: 'Amazon sent an email to all managers to try to stop drivers carrying bottles filled with urine. The security guards were reporting people for it. Full story...

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sudan women charged with indecency for wearing trousers...

Twenty-four women have been charged with indecency after being caught wearing trousers at a party near the Sudanese capital Khartoum.

The gathering was raided by morality police on Wednesday.

The women could face punishment of 40 lashes and a fine for wearing what is described as an obscene outfit.

Rights activists say tens of thousands of women are arrested and flogged for indecency every year, and laws can be applied arbitrarily.

They say the law in Muslim-majority Sudan against wearing trousers and short or tight skirts discriminates against Christians.

Traditionally, women in Sudan wear loose flowing robes. Full story...

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Portugal’s radical drugs policy is working. Why hasn’t the world copied it?

When the drugs came, they hit all at once. It was the 80s, and by the time one in 10 people had slipped into the depths of heroin use – bankers, university students, carpenters, socialites, miners – Portugal was in a state of panic.

Álvaro Pereira was working as a family doctor in Olhão in southern Portugal. “People were injecting themselves in the street, in public squares, in gardens,” he told me. “At that time, not a day passed when there wasn’t a robbery at a local business, or a mugging.”

The crisis began in the south. The 80s were a prosperous time in Olhão, a fishing town 31 miles west of the Spanish border. Coastal waters filled fishermen’s nets from the Gulf of Cádiz to Morocco, tourism was growing, and currency flowed throughout the southern Algarve region. But by the end of the decade, heroin began washing up on Olhão’s shores. Overnight, Pereira’s beloved slice of the Algarve coast became one of the drug capitals of Europe: one in every 100 Portuguese was battling a problematic heroin addiction at that time, but the number was even higher in the south. Headlines in the local press raised the alarm about overdose deaths and rising crime. The rate of HIV infection in Portugal became the highest in the European Union. Pereira recalled desperate patients and families beating a path to his door, terrified, bewildered, begging for help. “I got involved,” he said, “only because I was ignorant.” Full story...

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Saturday, December 09, 2017

Trump's crusade against Palestine...

The US has maintained the fiction for decades of being an even-handed mediator between Israel and the Palestinians. This week, President Donald Trump finally junked this tired, old canard by agreeing to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem from its current headquarters in Tel Aviv.

There was huge symbolism in this move that met with universal condemnation. It means the US is abandoning any chance of a two-state solution, which was the original UN plan for Palestine. Henceforth, Palestinians will subsist in a Jewish unitary state as a powerless, restive underclass. Washington is violating international law, the 1993 Oslo Accords, and countless UN resolutions.

Crusader Trump’s decision strongly suggests there will be no Palestinian state, no Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, and no political hope for the region’s 5.5 million Palestinians refugees living precariously in Israel, the occupied West Bank, Gaza, Syria and Lebanon.

America’s president is a notorious Muslim-hater who has sought to bar people from the Islamic world from the United States. Trump knows very little about the Mideast – which I call the ‘American Raj’ in my last book of the same name because of its resemblance to Britain’s imperial rule over India. Full story...

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J Rabbit and Happy things...

Friday, December 08, 2017

Can we still trust Wikileaks and Julian Assange?

Can we still trust Julian Assange and Wikileaks? Prior to last year’s election, this question would have been unthinkable. When Wikileaks dumped a massive stockpile of emails exposing corruption within not only the Democratic National Party, but the rest of the government as well, it created quite the buzz. These leaks were extremely detrimental to the reputation of U.S. politics, and as a result, many more citizens became more aware of how corrupt it really is. Whether it was the exposure of Hillary’s connections to the big banks, going as far as them writing her speeches, or the election fraud and the DNC illegally ‘taking down’ Bernie Sanders, these revelations were quite shocking to say the least.

There were multiple leaks, even one that questioned whether or not Jon Podesta, Clinton’s campaign manager, was involved in an elite level political pedophile ring. This may sound completely preposterous, but the fact remains, pedophilia rings among the world’s elite are nothing new.

Does real transparency within politics even exist anymore? How can there be so much deception and misinformation? And why are some facts, even with plenty of evidence behind them, made out to seem ridiculous or “fake” by mainstream media?

Many of the leaks could not be denied, and in some cases, were even supported by those they exposed, including Clinton and Podesta, but some were so damaging that it forced a complete opposition towards Wikileaks.’ Never before have we seen such opposition toward Wikileaks in the more than a decade that they’ve been operating. Full story...

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How the Gardasil vaccine is fast-tracked, flawed & not as safe as it’s marketed to be...

(...)

Take the case of chicken pox, a mild infection. Before the current age of vaccines, chicken pox immunity among adults was regularly reinforced by the young around them who had the natural disease. In this way, elderly people, often susceptible to shingles, were protected from the painful and debilitating disease. This naturally acquired immunity is disappearing now that children are vaccinated for these mild childhood infections and everything else — even against influenza. Nature has it right, and a dose of a mild infectious disease makes us stronger.

In Australia today, penalties are strict and unforgiving for parents who do not choose to vaccinate their children.

Enrolment in childcare centres and kindergarten requires the federal vaccination schedule to be up to date. Certain government benefits are also withheld from parents who do not comply with this overburdened vaccination schedule.

Fear is a great motivator, and our media, at the behest of health departments and the pharmaceutical industry, have exploited the prospect of disease to such an extent that most of society thinks vaccines will prevent childhood disease and the rare death. Before the age of vaccines, there were around 10 cases of death from measles in Australia, and these sadly occurred in areas of poverty and disadvantage. Infectious disease deaths fell before widespread vaccination. Factors that resulted in reduced deaths were improved nutrition, sanitation, and hygiene. Full story...

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John Lennon was right: The government is run by maniacs for maniacal means...

I think all our society is run by insane people for insane objectives… I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal means. If anybody can put on paper what our government and the American government and the Russian… Chinese… what they are actually trying to do, and what they think they’re doing, I’d be very pleased to know what they think they’re doing. I think they’re all insane. But I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it.”

Not much has changed in the 37 years since John Lennon was gunned down by an assassin’s bullet.

All of the many complaints we have about government today—surveillance, corruption, harassment, political persecution, spying, overcriminalization, etc.—were used against Lennon, who never refrained from speaking truth to power and calling for social justice, peace and a populist revolution.

Little wonder, then, that the U.S. government saw Lennon as enemy number one.

A prime example of the lengths to which the U.S. government will go to persecute those who dare to challenge its authority, Lennon was the subject of a four-year campaign of surveillance and harassment by the U.S. government (spearheaded by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover), in an attempt by President Richard Nixon to have him “neutralized” and deported. As Adam Cohen of the New York Times points out, “The F.B.I.’s surveillance of Lennon is a reminder of how easily domestic spying can become unmoored from any legitimate law enforcement purpose.” Full story...

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Nearly a billion people still defecate outdoors. Here’s why...

At 65, Moolchand, bandy-legged and white-haired, has no problem rising for his predawn hunts. In fact he revels in them.

“I hide along the lane with my flashlight,” he says in a low, excited voice, gesturing down the main road of Gaji Khedi village, in India’s Madhya Pradesh state. “And I look for people walking with a lota.”

A lota is a water container, traditionally made of brass but these days more often of plastic. Spied outdoors in the early morning, it all but screams that its owner is headed for a field or roadside to move his or her bowels—the water is for rinsing.

“I give chase,” Moolchand continues. “I blow my whistle, and I dump out their lota. Sometimes I take it away and burn it.” Moolchand sees himself as defending a hard-won honor: The district has declared his village “open defecation free.” “People get angry and shout at me when I stop them,” he says. “But the government has given villagers lots of help to construct a toilet, so there is no excuse.” Full story...

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Thursday, December 07, 2017

Topless FEMEN activist arrested protesting against Poroshenko and Saakashvili...(18+)

Nun broke girl’s arm after discovering she was being sexually abused by a priest...

A nun broke a young girl’s arm as she reacted to discovering the child was being sexually abused by a priest, an inquiry has heard.

A witness told how she had hoped she would be protected when the nun walked in on the assault in 1970, when she was eight, but was instead called a ‘whore’, grabbed and thrown towards a wall.

Theresa Tolmie-McGrane said she was then given a ‘real hiding’ by another nun and threatened with having her other arm broken if she told anybody what had happened.

Ms Tolmie-McGrane waived her right to anonymity at the Scottish child abuse inquiry to recount a catalogue of other abuses during her 11 years at Smyllum Park orphanage in Lanark, South Lanarkshire, which closed in the 1980s.

These included beatings, humiliations, freezing showers and children being force-fed inedible food, being told to eat their vomit and having their mouths rinsed out with soap. Full story...

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Government inactive as Chennai faces climate catastrophe...

"Every time it rains now, the water from the river floods our villages. We know this is because the factories have encroached upon the river’s floodplains,” says S Mahendran, a fisherman in Chennai’s Ennore district.

Ennore is located about 30 kilometers from the city center and makes up one of India’s densest clusters of heavy industry. Among the big-ticket industrial works here are three large ports, an oil terminal, a coal terminal and two thermal power plants. Most of these lie within kilometers of the coast and are notorious for releasing their effluents into the Ennore creek, via which the River Kosasthalaiyar drains into the sea.

Mahendran adds: “With our area being hit by cyclones and floods so often nowadays, god forbid there is any leak. All our villages will be destroyed if that happens.”

Recurring disasters and extreme weather events have become the new normal for the Indian city.

In November and December 2015, Chennai received 170cm of rainfall, leading to its complete inundation. More than 400 people lost their lives due to the heavy rains and floods and it took nearly two weeks for some kind of normality to return to the city. Full story...

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The 'Rat Eaters' of Bihar: India's poorest people?

The rat kept crawling over Phekan Manjhi's arm as he battled to pin it to the ground before he eventually managed to kill it with repeated blows to the head.

The execution drew applause from neighbours huddled around the 60-year-old in a grimy courtyard outside his mud and straw hut. Another meal lined up for the Rat Eaters -- some of India's poorest people.

Phekan said it would take 15 minutes to prepare the rat stew, as he dissected the animal with his fingernails.

"Almost everyone here loves this and knows how it's prepared," he added.

Phekan is one of about 2.5 million Musahars -- 'Rat Eaters' -- one of India's most marginalised communities. Even the browbeaten low-caste Dalits look down on them. Full story...

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"We don't want to repress": Police in Honduras refuse orders to stamp out pro-democracy protests...

Amid widening violence and ongoing protests, members of the Honduras National Police force—including those within the U.S.-trained units known as the Cobras—say they are refusing to obey orders from the right-wing government of the incumbent president, Juan Orlando Hernández, who has used the security forces to crackdown on demonstrators and imposed a curfew amid allegations of voter fraud in recent elections.

"We want peace, and we will not follow government orders – we're tired of this," a spokesperson for the police told reporters outside the national police headquarters on Monday. "We aren't with a political ideology. We can't keep confronting people, and we don't want to repress and violate the rights of the Honduran people."

On Monday night, demonstrations in the streets continued as opponents of Hernández poured into the streets with pots and pans—now with the tacit support of the police forces who had earlier been sent disperse them—as they called for transparency in the counting of votes and the ouster of the ruling party. As Reuters reports, "Some police officers abandoned their posts and joined carnival-like demonstrations that erupted across the city hours after night fell and the curfew was supposed to have begun." Full story...

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Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Living in cars, working for Amazon: meet America's new nomads...

(...)

Their employer was Amazon.

Amazon recruited these workers as part of a program it calls CamperForce: a labor unit made up of nomads who work as seasonal employees at several of its warehouses, which the company calls “fulfillment centers”.

Along with thousands of traditional temps, they’re hired to meet the heavy shipping demands of “peak season” – the consumer bonanza that spans the three to four months before Christmas.

While other employers also seek out this nomadic workforce – the available jobs range from campground maintenance to selling Christmas trees and running amusement park rides – Amazon has been the most aggressive recruiter. “Jeff Bezos has predicted that, by the year 2020, one out of every four work-campers – the RV- and vehicle-dwellers who travel the country for temporary work – in the United States will have worked for Amazon,” read one slide in a presentation for new hires. Full story...

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Are you lost in the world like me?




Hindu chauvinists’ troubling siege of the Taj Mahal...

(...)

But now the Taj is being rejected even by India’s own government. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which now rules Uttar Pradesh, has apparently decided that it wants as little to do with it as possible. The reason comes down to religious chauvinism.

Uttar Pradesh’s new chief minister, a saffron-robed Hindu monk named Yogi Adityanath, initiated the assault on the Taj by condemning the state government’s former practice of offering models of the Taj as gifts to visiting foreign dignitaries. Declaring that the monument does not “reflect Indian culture,” Adityanath announced that the government would hand out copies of the Hindu holy book, the Bhagavad Gita, instead.

Furthering this erasure, the Uttar Pradesh tourism department issued a brochure of the state’s main attractions, but left out the Taj Mahal, the state’s (and the country’s) main tourism destination. The government, preferring to promote Hindu religious tourism, such as the attractions of the holy city of Varanasi, has denied any cultural heritage funding to the Taj Mahal in the current fiscal year.

To outsiders, the BJP’s campaign against the Taj Mahal might seem bizarre. Why would anyone, let alone a country’s ruling party, want to undermine a universally admired – and revenue-generating – architectural marvel? And yet anyone familiar with the BJP knows that its attacks on the Taj are just one manifestation of the party’s politics of hatred toward anything connected to the history of Muslim rule in India. Full story...

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Philippines Supreme Court Justice says Duterte’s drug war targets “small-time peddlers”, ignores “drug lords”

A Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte orders police to resume their involvement in the country’s drug war, a prominent Supreme Court justice has claimed that the approach is targeting low-level offenders.

On December 5, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio urged the government to explain why the "flagship project of the President is concentrated on going after the small-time peddlers [rather than] the big-time drug lords”, and added that “if you stop the supply then there is no more demand".

Jose Calida, the solicitor general, claimed that high-level traffickers were Chinese, rather than Filipino, and that "big-time Chinese drug lords are outside of our jurisdiction … in China". When pressed on the government’s mass killing of people for alleged drug use, Calida put forward unfounded claims that many people who use drugs are inherently dangerous:

"An addict does not act normally. One who has been sniffing shabu [methamphetamine] for quite some time, there's an effect on the brain, your honour. Especially after a drug session, a drug addict is actually insane your honour. So he's not afraid of policemen, he's not afraid of killing or dying for that matter ... and that's why we have these heinous crimes, children being raped, and tortured, these devilish actuations of these drug addicts, your honour. So we cannot equate them with a rational person." Full story...

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Tuesday, December 05, 2017

The compelling case for working a lot less...

When I moved to Rome from Washington, DC, one sight struck me more than any ancient column or grand basilica: people doing nothing.

I’d frequently glimpse old women leaning out of their windows, watching people pass below, or families on their evening strolls, stopping every so often to greet friends. Even office life proved different. Forget the rushed desk-side sandwich. Come lunchtime, restaurants filled up with professionals tucking into proper meals.

Of course, ever since Grand Tourists began penning their observations in the seventeenth century, outsiders have stereotyped the idea of Italian ‘indolence’. And it isn’t the whole story. The same friends who headed home on their scooters for a leisurely lunch often returned to the office to work until 8pm.

Even so, the apparent belief in balancing hard work with il dolce far niente, the sweetness of doing nothing, always struck me. After all, doing nothing appears to be the opposite of being productive. And productivity, whether creative, intellectual or industrial, is the ultimate use of our time. Full story...

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Indian state passes bill to award death penalty for rape of girls aged 12 or younger...

The Madhya Pradesh Assembly on Monday, December 4, passed a bill that would let courts award death penalty to anyone found guilty of raping a girl aged 12 or even younger.

The bill — called the Dand Vidhi (Madhya Pradesh Sanshodhan) Vidheyak, 2017 — will now be sent to the Central government and the President for approval.

Once it gets their nods, it will become the law in the BJP-ruled state. And the nods may not be all that difficult to come by, because the Central government is run by the BJP-led NDA, and President Ram Nath Kovind was also the BJP candidate to the post.

If the bill indeed becomes a law, it would mean extremely strict punishment for people found guilty of raping girls aged 12 or younger.

The bill proposes a minimum of 14 years of rigorous imprisonment for any person found guilty of raping a girl aged 12 or less. The maximum punishment is death. Full story...

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Monday, December 04, 2017

On the road...

The death of the internet...

If we lose this, we lose everything...

When I was very young, before I was on the internet — even before the internet was really a thing you could “go on” — I would dial into BBSs (bulletin board systems). BBSs were kind of like private, micro-internets that people set up in their houses. You had to use a dial-up modem to connect to them, and the people who were in charge of these networks (usually just some random technology enthusiast) could shut them off or boot you at any time. I got booted a lot when I was kid, because I was curious and annoying and all the things I am today but way less savvy about it. Once a guy who ran a BBS called my house to complain to my mother that her son had been snooping around in places he wasn’t supposed to go — I don’t remember what I was after, but I’m sure he had a very good reason to be angry.

Here’s why I mention this: What I was doing online, in a virtual space, had real-world repercussions. It was real. What I was doing was real. That guy who complained about me was real. And I realize now that I never treated or experienced the internet like some other thing — as if the physical world were “real” and what happened on the internet was something less. That was where my real life was. That’s where I was, as a person.

The internet was the most real thing to me that I’d ever had in my life, before my wife and my daughter; my job, my house, my things. Its existence helped to form the basis of my worldview, my politics, my obsessions. It gave me tools to talk and create in ways that would have been impossible in another age. But it was never not reality. I wish the rest of the world had always seen it this way. Full story...

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No dissident thoughts allowed in Singapore...

After months of investigations, Singapore police finally dropped a bombshell at the end of November: social worker and activist Jolovan Wham would be charged for organizing public assemblies without a permit, vandalism and refusing to sign police statements.

Wham, who has spent his career as a social worker fighting for the rights of low-wage migrant workers, has been investigated multiple times by the police for various events deemed to be “illegal” under Singapore’s restrictive Public Order Act.

Most of the investigations dragged on for months, with little information or updates from authorities before ending just as abruptly as they had begun or with “stern warnings” that have since been ruled by a High Court judge to have no legal effect.

The Singapore Police Force’s press release announcing the charges said Wham had been “recalcitrant” and repeatedly shown “blatant disregard for the law” in organizing or participating in “illegal public assemblies.”

Past investigations and official warnings were triggered by petty offenses such as allowing foreigners to participate in an event held in solidarity with Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement at Singapore’s Speaker’s Corner, for allowing the Singapore flag to touch the ground, and for displaying national emblems in public at an event held in solidarity with Malaysia’s pro-democracy Bersih movement. Full story...

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'Rampant' Singapore piracy prompts Hollywood lobby for crackdown...

Singapore, which prides itself on being a haven for law and order, is being called a haven for pirating copyrighted programming by entertainment titans such as Walt Disney, HBO, the National Basketball Association and the English Premier League.

Viewers in the city-state buy legitimate set-top boxes that also allow unauthorised streaming of thousands of movies, TV shows and live sporting events, said the Coalition Against Piracy. Its 21 members, including divisions of Sony Corp and Twenty-First Century Fox Inc, want the government to block the pirating software inside the devices, which are found at local electronics stores and on e-commerce sites such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s Lazada.

“Within the Asia-Pacific region, Singapore is the worst in terms of availability of illicit streaming devices,” said Neil Gane, general manager of the Asia-focused coalition, referring to countries where the boxes are considered legal. “They have access to hundreds of illicit broadcasts of channels and video-on-demand content.”

Singapore, notorious for imposing the death penalty for some drug and firearm offences, is a focal point in the entertainment industry’s campaign to curb piracy in the region. Online TV and movie piracy will cost the industry an estimated $31.8 billion in global revenue this year, reaching $51.6 billion by 2022, according to London-based Digital TV Research. Full story...

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Sunday, December 03, 2017

No need to wait – Dystopia is almost upon us...

Microsoft’s CEO has warned the technology industry against creating a dystopian future, the likes of which have been predicted by authors including George Orwell and Aldous Huxley. Satya Nadella kicked off the the company’s 2017 Build conference with a keynote that was as unexpected as it was powerful. He told the developers in attendance that they have a huge responsibility, and that the choices they make could have enormous implications.

They won’t listen of course. The collection of big data along with management, selling and distribution and the systems architecture to control it is now worth exactly double global military defence expenditure. In fact, this year, the big data industry overtook the worlds most valuable traded commodity – oil.

The truth is that the tech giants have already captured us all. We are already living in the beginnings of a truly dystopian world.

Leaving aside the endemic surveillance society our government has chosen on our behalf with no debate, politically or otherwise, we already have proof of the now and where it is leading. With fingerprint scanning, facial recognition, various virtual wallets to pay for deliveries, some would say your identity is as good as stolen. If it isn’t, it soon will be. That’s because the hacking industry, already worth a mind blowing $1trillion annually is expected to reach $2.1 trillion in just 14 months time. Full story...

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"Two" by Satyajit Ray


730,000 Filipino children receive faulty dengue vaccine which causes dengue rather than preventing it

In a story that is being mostly censored in the U.S. media, vaccine manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur has admitted that their vaccine for dengue (a deadly tropical disease spread mostly by mosquitoes) is defective.

In a press release from France, the pharmaceutical company admitted that the vaccine is harmful to those not previously infected with dengue, and could cause children not previously infected with dengue to contract a severe case of the disease.

(...)

The Philippines was the first country in Asia to approve the vaccine for individuals aged 9 and 45 years old in December 2015.

More than 730,000 Filipino children have received at least one dose of Dengvaxia, the first licensed vaccine for the virus, since the Philippine Department of Health launched the vaccination drive in schools last year. Full story...

Read also: 'Dangerous' dengue vaccine given to 730,000 Filipino children

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Anti-vampire mob kills eight in Malawi...

A vampire scare in Malawi has at least eight dead and the United Nations evacuating some of its staff, Reuters reports. The southeast African nation, bordered by Mozambique, Zambia, and Tanzania, is one of the poorest countries in the world. A recent resurgence of fear of vampires in the two southern districts of Phalombe and Mulanje has triggered violent lynch mobs to attack and kill those accused of vampirism.

“These districts have severely been affected by the ongoing stories of blood sucking and possible existence of vampires,” the United Nations Department of Safety and Security said in a released security report. The U.N. has relocated some but not all of their staff in the two rural districts due to safety concerns, and is closely monitoring events in the area as they unfold.

The same report said the mobs set up roadblocks to trap vampires, and that the vampirism rumors might have originated in northern Mozambique. It recommends the “temporary suspension of U.N. activities in the area until the situation is normalized.” Non-government organizations (NGOs) providing aid and resources to the area have also pulled out.

Belief in both witchcraft and the real life existence of vampires is widespread in rural Malawi, with the latter superstition perpetuating paranoia and violence, and not for the first time either. During a devastating famine in 2002, vigilante retribution erupted after a viral rumor circulated the idea vampires were secretly working with the government to collect blood for international aid agencies. Full story...

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How one Russian woman's modest dress gratified an entire nation...

As the world waited for the presenters of the 2018 FIFA World Cup draw to take the stage, one nation in particular was waiting for Maria Komandnaya, the female co-presenter of the program; and when she gracefully entered the stage with a modest, professional dress, the entire nation of Iran took a sigh of relief. Within minutes, her Instagram account was flooded with thousands of comments of love, appreciation, and gratitude. But in order to understand why, some context is needed.

Four years earlier at the previous world cup draw, the female co-presenter, Fernanda Lima, had worn a low-cut revealing dress causing a serious headache for Iranian broadcasters. In Iran’s modest Islamic perspective, female sexuality is a sacred matter which should best be celebrated privately. Hence, as Iranian authorities saw it, broadcasting images of such a low neckline was unacceptable, and left them with no choice but to pull the plug. Understandably, taking the live event off the air frustrated millions of Iranians who were eager to see who their national team would have to face. As reported by The Guardian, the Iranian TV presenter explained: “To be honest with you, the dress of the lady who presents the show does not meet our broadcasting guidelines at all”.

Fast forward 4 years to the 2018 group stage draw. Worried that an immodest dress would once again ruin the evening, there was a lot of chatter on social media. What dress would the presenter wear this year? Would she keep it professional and decent, or like last year’s presenter, be completely oblivious and insensitive towards her Muslim audience? But this year, Iranians had decided to take things into their own hands and leave less to fate. In the days leading up to the event, they had told Ms. Komandnaya and the organizing committee their concerns in any way they could. Most notably, Iran’s star striker Sardar Azmoun who plays for a Russian club and has a working relationship with Maria, had relayed the message. Full story...

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Women in Japan too tired to care about dating or searching for a partner...

While Japanese society and the media continue to exhort — nay plead — with women to find marriage partners, an astonishing ⤢60 percent of eligible women say they are uninterested in renai (love relationships), according to online dating advice service ⤢cocoloni.jp. The reason? They’re just too tired from work, the service concludes.

As sad as it sounds, the nation’s women appear to have joined the ranks of men as overworked employees, too drained from the daily grind. Specifically, women appear to be fatigued by the alternative — shokubano ningenkankei (workplace relationships) — and avoid going out on random dates, as they have now become synonymous with stress.

And when women can muster the energy to go out, 1 in 4 have confessed to having fallen asleep during a date. The overall feeling among these women is that the whole renai thing is overrated, strenuous and, ultimately, unsatisfying. Why waste time dating strangers when you can watch “Terrace House” in your pajamas or use a “love app” to hear the velvety voices of actors Takumi Saito or Sota Fukushi telling you to relax after a hard day’s work? Full story...

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Shouting ‘pay your taxes,’ activists occupy Apple retail stores across France...

A group of global activists stormed and occupied several Apple Inc. Stores in France on Saturday in a move aimed at pressuring the company to pay up on a €13 billion ($15.5 billion) tax bill to the European Union.
In a press release, the France unit of the Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions and Citizen's Action organization (Attac), said 100 of its members occupied the Opera Apple Store in Paris, demanding the company pay its taxes. Attac bills itself as an international movement that fights for financial market regulation and the closing of tax havens, among other goals.
Attac said dozens of protests were organized at other Apple AAPL, -0.47%  store locations throughout France on Saturday. In the Paris store, where activists were seen via videos circulating on Twitter, pushing past security and hanging a banner that said “We will stop when Apple pays.” Full story...

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Simon's cat: Kitten crazy time...

Nurses organize against anti-human rights “vaccine mandates”

Most of us have to do things we’d rather not for our jobs once in a while. Whether it’s smiling in the face of a boss or customer we vehemently disagree with or participating in boring conference calls, we chalk it up to being “part of the job” and appreciate the fact that we’re employed in the first place.

However, for those in the healthcare industry, unpleasant job duties can take a far more serious turn in the form of mandatory vaccines. Every year, nurses across the U.S. are forced to get a flu vaccine as part of their job. Eighteen states require it, and many healthcare systems and employers do as well. Many of these nurses are rightfully outraged at the idea of having to get a shot that even the CDC has admitted is not always effective and does not provide extra protection to hospital patients.

According to publically available information, hospital systems must reach or exceed a 90 percent flu shot reception rate with their staff members or risk losing as much as two percent of their Medicare/Medicaid funding! Those who refuse could lose their job, which is not just a human rights violation but also an Equal Employment Opportunity violation.

It’s not just one or two nurses who want to give their employers a hard time; there are thousands of workers who simply don’t want to take on the many risks of the vaccine for so little potential reward. In fact, more than 22,000 nurses have banded together to organize against this practice as part of a group called Nurses Against Mandatory Vaccines (NAMV). Full story...

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European Parliament calls for arms embargo against Saudi Arabia...

Members of the European Parliament have voted overhwelmingly to reaffirm its call for a European-wide embargo against Saudi Arabia, and a political solution to the ongoing conflict in Yemen. The Parliament originally voted to support an arms embargo on 25 February, 2016.

The vote is not legally binding, but it sends a strong message to member states that have continued to arm Saudi Arabia despite the humanitarian crisis that has been inflicted on Yemen.

Despite the humanitarian crisis, the UK government has continued to arm and support the Saudi regime. Since the ongoing bombardment began in 2015, the UK has licensed £4.6 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, including:

£2.7 billion worth of ML10 licences (aircraft, helicopters, drones)
£1.9 billion worth of ML4 licences (grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures)
£572,000 worth of ML6 licences (armoured vehicles, tanks)

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: "The European Parliament has sent a clear, strong and unambiguous message to governments like the UK, that have been utterly complicit in the destruction of Yemen. Full story...

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Trump, North Korea and Islam...

Merry Christmas to one and all from North Korea. Glorious Leader Kim Jong-un unwrapped a wonderful new intercontinental missile, the Hwasong-15, which experts believe might be capable of reaching Los Angeles, New York and Washington, depending on the weight of its nuclear warhead.

This was the big, earth-shaking story until Gen. Michael Flynn’s guilty plea in Washington seemed an even bigger bombshell than North Korea’s nukes. As of now, the Flynn scandal looks like a tempest in a teapot – unless FBI Inquisitors can produce real evidence that the wicked Russians were doing anything more in cahoots with Trump & Co. than all major powers, including the US, routinely do.

As a former French prime minister so well put it, ‘all government is permanent conspiracy.’

The best thing to come out of ‘l’affaire Flynn’ is that this loopy, wildly anti-Muslim general is out of government. But many more cranks and crazies still infest the Trump administration.

After last week’s nasty exchange of tweets between British Prime Minister Theresa May and President Trump, and his posting of spurious anti-Muslim hate films made by Brit neo-Nazis, the depths of this administration’s hatred of Muslims was on view to the world. Previously, it had been kept somewhat below the surface. Full story...

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Friday, December 01, 2017

Swedish man gets 10 years in prison for online rape...

At home in Ontario and Alberta, the two young Canadian girls felt they had no choice: perform sexual acts on camera — in one case involving a pet dog — or face terrible consequences.

They were convinced a man they met online would hurt them or their families or humiliate them over the internet if they failed to do his bidding. What they didn’t know is their tormentor was on another continent.

But on Thursday that Swedish man was convicted of raping and sexually assaulting the girls in Canada and two other foreign countries entirely over the internet, a unique prosecution that involved no physical contact between the assailant and his victims.

Bjorn Samstrom, 41, was sentenced in Upsalla Thursday to 10 years in prison — Sweden’s stiffest sex-crime penalty — after forcing 27 teenagers here, in Scotland and the United States to perform sex acts on camera. Full story...

Jonathan Pie has had enough of Trump!


88 girl students forced to undress as punishment by teachers in school in India...

In a shocking incident, 88 students of a girls school in Arunachal Pradesh were allegedly forced to undress as a punishment for writing vulgar words against the head teacher, reported PTI.

The students of class VI and VII of Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya, Tani Happa (New Sagalee) in Papum Pare district were subjected to the humiliating treatment on November 23, according to police. The matter, however, came to light on November 27 after the girls recounted the incident to All Sagalee Students Union (ASSU), who then filed an FIR with the local police.

According to the complaint, three teachers forced the 88 girls to undress before other students after they found a piece of paper having vulgar words about the head teacher and a girl student. Full story...

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