AuthorTopic: Knarf's Knewz Channel  (Read 1651591 times)

Offline knarf

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Not just counterfeit: Legal THC vaping products linked to lung illnesses
« Reply #14805 on: December 06, 2019, 07:02:22 PM »
Six patients in Massachusetts reported purchasing THC products from licensed dispensaries.

New evidence shows that legitimate THC vaping products are also making people sick, meaning that illegal, off-brand vapes aren't the only products to blame for the current outbreak of vaping-related illnesses.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reports that at least six patients suspected of having the vaping lung illness purchased THC products at licensed marijuana dispensaries in that state.

Health officials did not reveal which dispensaries or brands bought legally were implicated.

This is not the first time that a case of the lung illness has been linked to a legal product. In September, the Oregon Health Authority announced it was investigating the death of a woman who reported using a vaping device from a cannabis dispensary before becoming ill.

"It's been a real failure of public policy that we have this message that if it's bought in a store, it's going to be safe," said Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a nonprofit organization that opposes the legalization of marijuana.

Still, bootleg vapes do appear to be behind a majority of vaping-related cases nationwide. On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 80 percent of hospitalized patients with EVALI, or e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury, had used a THC product. By far, the most common product was a counterfeit brand called Dank Vapes, used by 56 percent of patients.

Some patients said they only vaped nicotine, not THC, so the CDC recommends avoiding all vape pens and products until more is known.

Since the EVALI outbreak began, a variety of investigations into the illnesses have pointed to multiple problematic ingredients, such as vitamin E acetate used as a carrier oil, or toxic metals leached from the devices into the e-liquids.

Each finding appears to be just one part of the larger explanation of why vaping can be dangerous, experts who study e-cigarettes say.

In addition to oils and metals, "there may be other contaminants that we don't know about yet because the products are so new," said Thomas Eissenberg, a co-director of the Center for the Study of Tobacco Products at Virginia Commonwealth University.

What's more, ingredients in e-liquid can degrade or change in potentially harmful ways once they're aerosolized. When heated, "those liquids turn into different things that were never in the liquid to begin with," Eissenberg said.

Left unregulated, the vape pen market has exploded in recent years, leading to a proliferation of products easily accessible online.

Many, such as Puff Bars and Posh Vapes, have designed their products to look like Juul devices. Juul is not a THC product; it's sold with nicotine only.

"We did a simple Google search for 'disposable Juul' and got 31 different brands of products from the first results page," said Rebecca Williams, a research associate at the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Williams is the author of a new report that analyzed online marketing of disposable e-cigarette vendors, published Friday in the journal Tobacco Control.

Many of the products Williams uncovered had nicotine concentrations of up to 7 percent, higher than Juul, and had a largely ineffective age verification process for purchasing. Many simply asked, "are you over 21?"

"They're available cheaply and easily accessible by minors," Williams said. Indeed, the use of e-cigarettes among teens has skyrocketed in recent years, doubling since 2017.

Major health groups, including the American Lung Association and the American Heart Association, have urged consumers to avoid all vape products.

"There are definite ways in which using an e-cigarette can harm your lungs and can harm your cardiovascular system," Eissenberg said. "Anybody who's concerned about those things — and I think everybody should be concerned about those things — should not be vaping."

https://www.nbcnews.com/health/vaping/not-just-counterfeit-legal-thc-vaping-products-linked-lung-illnesses-n1097011?cid=public-rss_20191206
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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A banana duct-taped to a wall was sold for $120,000 at Art Basel Miami
« Reply #14806 on: December 06, 2019, 07:11:48 PM »
A banana duct-taped to a wall sold for $120,000 at Miami's Art Basel this week — it may be the most talked-about artwork at this year's event. Two of the three editions have been sold, according to Perrotin, the contemporary art gallery behind the work. The last one is expected to go for $150,000.

The controversial piece, called "The Comedian," was created by Maurizio Cattelan, an Italian artist who had also entertained art lovers from around the globe in 2017 with his "America" 18-carat-gold toilet. However, the $6-million throne was stolen from England's Blenheim Palace over the summer.



Emmanuel Perrotin, the gallery founder, told CBS News that Maurizio's work is not just about objects, but about how objects move through the world.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/art-basel-banana-duct-taped-to-wall-sells-for-120000-miami-beach-2019-12-06/
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Re: 'Barbaric': Saudi national opens fire on Pensacola Navy base, kills 3, injures 8
« Reply #14807 on: December 07, 2019, 05:59:30 AM »
PENSACOLA, Fla. — A Saudi man training at the Naval Air Station Pensacola opened fire on the base early Friday morning with a handgun, killing three and injuring eight before fatally shooting himself, authorities said.

The shooter has not yet been publicly identified and a motive for the attack is unknown. President Donald Trump, who spoke with King Salman of Saudi Arabia shortly after the shooting, said the monarch called the attack "barbaric."

The shooting began around 6:30 a.m. CT and the suspect was halted by two Escambia County sheriff's deputies, who arrived on scene in less than five minutes, Sheriff David Morgan said.

One of the officers was shot in arm and treated at a local hospital. The other was shot in the knee and was undergoing surgery. Authorities expected both to survive. The shooting happened on two floors of the building.

"The best of our community was on scene today and that's why it turned out the way it did," Morgan said of the deputies who responded. "They ran to the fight, not from the fight."

Morgan said his deputies train regularly with base personnel for this kind of attack

The latest:Here's what we know about the shooting at NAS Pensacola

The FBI has taken the lead in the investigation, though there has been no immediate determination on whether the shooting was terror related, two sources told USA TODAY.

The shooting was the second in a week at a U.S. Navy base.

Like most military installations, personal firearms are not normally permitted on the base, which provides a wide variety of training to both U.S. and international aviators, dating back to the British Royal Air Force during WWII.


The Pensacola base is also home of the Blue Angels, the Navy's Flight Demonstration Squadron, and the National Naval Aviation Museum.  Located in the far western Panhandle, the base employs more than 16,000 military and 7,400 civilian personnel.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Navy veteran, asked all Americans to remember the dead and wounded, along with their families: "They need your prayers and they need your comfort."

Eight patients, including the deputies, were taken to nearby Baptist Hospital. One of the victims died at the hospital, and two died on the base. The shooter also died on the base. The names of the victims will not be released until the next of kin have been notified, authorities said.

"Walking through the crime scene was like being on the set of a movie," Morgan said. "This doesn't happen in Escambia County. This doesn’t happen in Pensacola . . . So now we’re here to pick up the pieces."

The shooter was in aviation training at the base, along with "several hundred" other international airmen, authorities said. DeSantis said the shooter's nationality will complicate the investigation.

"Obviously, the government of Saudi Arabia needs to make things better for these victims," DeSantis said in a press conference. "They’re going to owe a debt here."

Added Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson: "This is a tragic day for the city of Pensacola. "We’re a military town. Our hearts and prayers are connected to those that serve us every day."

The shooting came two days after a U.S. Navy sailor shot three people and then killed himself at Pearl Harbor.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/12/06/pensacola-shooter-nas-pensacola-base-locked-down-florida/4351814002/


Trump calls bonesaw.  That's delightful.  I wonder how many 1st 2nd or 3rd cousins this guy had.   And I do mean had.
Under ideal conditions of temperature and pressure the organism will grow without limit.

Offline knarf

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Trump Wants The EPA To Focus On Toilet Flushing
« Reply #14808 on: December 07, 2019, 06:32:49 AM »
The fixtures “end up using more water,” Trump said. “People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once.”

 President Donald Trump said on Friday he has directed his environmental regulators to find answers to what he said is a big problem - water-conserving showers, faucets and toilets.

“We have a situation where we’re looking very strongly at sinks and showers and other elements of bathrooms,” Trump told a meeting of small business leaders at the White House. “You turn the faucet on in areas where there’s tremendous amounts of water... and you don’t get any water,” he added.

He said the Environmental Protection Agency was looking “very strongly at my suggestion.”

The fixtures “end up using more water,” Trump told the roundtable where U.S. officials also reviewed his agenda of slashing regulations such as those on efficient light bulbs.“People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once,” he said.

EPA spokesman Michael Abboud said his agency is working with other departments so consumers have more choices in water products.

Due to concerns about shrinking U.S. water supplies, the federal government has regulated faucet and shower head water flow since at least 1994, when Democrat Bill Clinton was president.

The EPA has long helped consumers go beyond federal water conservation standards. It sponsors WaterSense, a voluntary program on water-efficient showerheads and other products.

The EPA’s website says that saving every drop counts because “water managers in at least 40 states expect local, statewide, or regional water shortages to occur over the next several years.”

It was not the first time that Trump has emphasized water issues. In September, his EPA accused California’s cities of violating clean water laws by allowing human waste from homeless residents to enter waterways.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed accused Trump of “taking swipes” at her city for “no reason other than politics.” It was the latest clash between the Republican president and Democratic officials in the state.

Also in September, Trump’s EPA repealed the 2015 Waters of the United States rule that had expanded protections for wetlands and shallow streams, but which farmers, miners and manufacturers decried as overreach.

Water-conserving fixtures may be a good idea in desert regions, Trump told the business leaders. “But for the most part, you have many states where they have so much water that it comes down. It’s called rain. They don’t know what to do with it,” Trump said.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/trump-toilet-faucet-epa-environment_n_5deb1e63e4b0d50f32b3706e
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Oceans running out of oxygen as temperatures rise
« Reply #14809 on: December 07, 2019, 06:44:01 AM »
Climate change and nutrient pollution are driving the oxygen from our oceans, and threatening many species of fish.

That's the conclusion of the biggest study of its kind, undertaken by conservation group IUCN.

While nutrient run-off has been known for decades, researchers say that climate change is making the lack of oxygen worse.

Around 700 ocean sites are now suffering from low oxygen, compared with 45 in the 1960s.

Researchers say the depletion is threatening species including tuna, marlin and sharks.

The threat to oceans from nutrient run-off of chemicals such as nitrogen and phosphorus from farms and industry has long been known to impact the levels of oxygen in the sea waters and still remains the primary factor, especially closer to coasts.

However, in recent years the threat from climate change has increased.

As more carbon dioxide is released enhancing the greenhouse effect, much of the heat is absorbed by the oceans. In turn, this warmer water can hold less oxygen. The scientists estimate that between 1960 and 2010, the amount of the gas dissolved in the oceans declined by 2%.

That may not seem like much as it is a global average, but in some tropical locations the loss can range up to 40%.

Even small changes can impact marine life in a significant way. So waters with less oxygen favour species such as jellyfish, but not so good for bigger, fast-swimming species like tuna.

"We have known about de-oxygenation but we haven't known the linkages to climate change and this is really worrying," said Minna Epps from IUCN.

"Not only has the decline of oxygen quadrupled in the past 50 years but even in the best case emissions scenario, oxygen is still going to decline in the oceans."

For species like tuna, marlin and some sharks that are particularly sensitive to lack of oxygen - this is bad news.

Bigger fish like these have greater energy needs. According to the authors, these animals are starting to move to the shallow surface layers of the seas where there is more of the gas dissolved. However, this make the species much more vulnerable to over-fishing.

If countries continue with a business-as-usual approach to emissions, the world's oceans are expected to lose 3-4% of their oxygen by the year 2100.

This is likely to be worse in the tropical regions of the world. Much of the loss is expected in the top 1,000m of the water column, which is richest in biodiversity.

Low levels of oxygen are also bad for basic processes like the cycling of elements crucial for life on Earth, including nitrogen and phosphorous.

"If we run out of oxygen it will mean habitat loss and biodiversity loss and a slippery slope down to slime and more jellyfish," said Minna Epps.

"It will also change the energy and the biochemical cycling in the oceans and we don't know what these biological and chemical shifts in the oceans can actually do."

Changing the outcomes for the oceans is down to the world's political leaders which is why the report has been launched here at COP25.

"Ocean oxygen depletion is menacing marine ecosystems already under stress from ocean warming and acidification," said Dan Laffoley, also from IUCN and the report's co-editor.

"To stop the worrying expansion of oxygen-poor areas, we need to decisively curb greenhouse gas emissions as well as nutrient pollution from agriculture and other sources."

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-50690995
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Venice brings in giant barriers to stop city being swallowed by rising seas
« Reply #14810 on: December 07, 2019, 06:56:43 AM »
Project more urgent than ever after city experience worse flooding in 53 years

Floated along by barge, one of the 10-ton barriers designed to relieve Venice‘s perennial flooding looks like a giant plaything: an oversized hinged yellow Lego.

Central to the plan to protect the city, some or all of the 78 barriers will one day be raised when the sea rises more than 110cm (43 inches), to prevent damaging high tides from pushing into the lagoon city, a world heritage site built picturesquely — but somewhat precariously — upon more than 120 islands. Concerns that high tides are becoming more frequent because of climate change have increased the urgency.

While the concept is simple, its realisation has been anything but.

The system of movable underwater barriers, dubbed Moses, has been beset by corruption, cost overruns and delays. Projected at €1.8bn (£1.5bn) and meant to be completed by 2011, the project has so far cost €5.5bn and is running a decade behind schedule.

In the wake of last month’s flooding of Venice, the worst in 53 years, the consortium that oversees construction of Moses is eager to demonstrate that the project — after years of bad news — is on track and will be fully operational by the end of 2021.

Venetians say they cannot afford to be wrong. Sceptics and critics say they may be.

A recent test of the deepest expanse of barriers — at the Malamocco entrance to the lagoon — was declared a success by the New Venice Consortium.

It was the last of the four sections of barriers to be completely raised — but so far only in calm seas. The real test will come when all four are raised at once, and not only in serene waters, but under flood conditions. That isn’t scheduled to take place until the end of next year.

It took six years to test each of the four movable sea walls covering the three openings to the lagoon, partly because work was slowed by a 2014 corruption scandal that implicated the three main contractors and sent 35 people to jail.

Work is continuing largely with the original subcontractors now contracting directly with the consortium, which itself has been placed under government control as a result of the scandal.

The fact that the barriers have not yet been physically tested in rough seas is a concern to critics.

Paolo Vielmo, an offshore marine engineer who has long criticised the project, said that tests carried out in a laboratory in the Netherlands in the 1990s indicated that the barriers, under certain conditions, would oscillate out of control — possibly even breaking apart.

“Its behaviour is not predictable,” Mr Vielmo said. He said that the trials so far declared successful have been under only modest sea conditions that fail to represent anywhere near the threat of the phenomenon of extreme oscillation called subharmonic resonance.

Mr Vielmo and two other offshore engineers have compiled a report for the Codacons consumer and environment protection advocacy group, which is asking officials to run additional calculations to see if the project is indeed viable.

And if it is not, Codacons says Moses should be stopped.

“We don’t want to delay by one minute the possibility to make Moses operational. But we say we cannot make it operational until we are sure it will work,” said Franco Conte, president of Codacons in Venice. “Naturally, the Venetian community is exasperated and they say, ‘If we did 95 per cent, let’s do 100 per cent and see if that works.’ But that is unconscionable. If we don’t know if it works, we cannot experiment.”

The barrier system is made up of giant flood gates, each 20 meters (66ft) long. The gates are attached by hinges to giant cement blocks placed on the seabed along the three openings from the sea into the lagoon, Malamocco, Chioggia and the Lido. The gates can be lifted to create a temporary barrier in high tides. Once the water has receded, they can be lowered again — allowing shipping traffic to continue and for the tidal system to flush out the lagoon.

The idea behind the project was to create a mobile system that would not impede views of the unique and protected landscape. But Moses has suffered criticism from the start that there were simpler, cheaper systems that could have been deployed.

Venetians have been waiting since the record 1.94 metre (6.36ft) flood of 1966 for a system to protect them from regular inundations. The flooding in November, the second-worst recorded, proved the urgency.

In the 150 years that they have been recording the tide levels in Venice, two high tides above 1.5 metres have never been recorded in a year. In November, there were three in one week.

Climate scientists note that exceptional tides — those over 1.4 metres — have become much more frequent in the past two decades, with more than half of all recorded occurring since 2000.

“One has to realise the kind of existential question that that serious flooding has given rise to,” said Jane Da Mosto, an environmental scientist and executive director of the non-profit group We Are Here Venice, which is working to defend the city against myriad issues, including depopulation, cruise traffic through St Mark’s basin and overtourism. “People are asking: will Venice be defendable against these kinds of episodes?”

It’s not just the still-uncalculated damage to landmarks like St Mark’s Basilica, where corrosive salt water creeps through porous brick and tile. It’s also the boxes of ruined belongings and piles of soaked mattresses discarded in alleyways and loaded onto motorboats and trash barges for disposal. The relentlessness of the Venetian fall and winter tides make one-third of ground floors uninhabitable in the historic canal city.

“I am very old, I cannot say that I want to die, but I certainly do not want to be witness to the fact that it does not work,” 84-year-old resident Paola Scarpa said of the Moses barriers, as she walked to check on a family property in the Canareggio neighborhood on a recent December morning. “It would be a pain too great.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/venice-barriers-rising-flood-sea-tides-climate-a9236961.html?utm_source=reddit.com
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Indian film-maker Daniel Shravan suggests legalising ‘rape without violence’
« Reply #14811 on: December 07, 2019, 07:03:30 AM »
Activists slam comments, say Shravan looking for cheap publicity

New Delhi: Film-maker Daniel Shravan on Wednesday drew massive backlash on social media for suggesting that the government should legalise “rape without violence” for the safety of rape victims.

Shravan posted a number of messages on Twitter in which he expressed his views in the aftermath of the brutal rape and murder of a veterinary doctor in Hyderabad last week.

“Rape is not a serious thing, but murder is inexcusable. The government should legalise rape without violence for the safety of women. It seems to be the only way rape victims can be protected from murder,” Shravan said, in a now-deleted post.

The film-maker said that women should “cooperate with rapists and carry condoms” with them.

“If you are about to get raped, hand over a condom to the rapist and cooperate with him while he fulfils his sexual desire. That way he will not try to harm you,” Shravan added.

He made a few more bizarre suggestions to stop rape-related murders. He said the Indian society and women’s organisations were the main culprits behind the brutal murders of rape victims.

“The society as well as the government is frightening rapists. This is not the way. The girls above the age of 18 should be educated about rape. The girls should never deny sexual desires of men. Especially Indian girls should be aware of sex education like carrying condoms and dental dams after the age of 18,” he said.

He went to the extent of saying that instead of objecting to rape, a woman should “readily” accept the situation.

“The rapists are not finding a way to fulfil their bodily desires and therefore, they get these killing thoughts. An evil thought provokes crime like murder. Better women should accept rape and not fight it,” Shravan said.

The film-maker said it was foolish of the government to assume that rape laws will deter the incidents of rape in the country.

“It is foolishness of the government to think that killing Veerappan will control smuggling, killing Osama Bin Laden will control terrorism. In the same way, the laws against rape can’t control rapes,” he said.

Shravan’s comments not only infuriated the social media users but also invited the wrath of women and child rights activists.

“It is sad to know that an educated person is giving these insane ideas. Some of the content that he posted on social media is in Telugu. But a few statements that he made in English are horrible. He has exposed his sick mindset,” women rights activist Shashi Sharma told Gulf News.

Activist Anjana Bala also slammed Shravan for his derogatory post. He said the film-maker should immediately visit a psychiatrist.

“He sounds like a pervert. I cannot believe what he said. It is not a joke to talk about rape and rape victims like this. A person with sound brain cannot utter such rubbish. He needs to see a psychiatrist,” Bala told Gulf News.

Sharma accused Daniel of seeking “cheap publicity.”

“I guess we should ignore his comments totally because this looks like a cheap publicity stunt. He is a small time film-maker and maybe he is seeking his two minutes of fame,” Sharma added.

https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/india/indian-film-maker-daniel-shravan-suggests-legalising-rape-without-violence-1.68253109
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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'I’ll be voting least worst option: anti-Tory. For all our sakes, and for the future of the country, please, please do the same,' David Merritt says

The father of a man killed in the London Bridge terror attack has launched a stinging attack on Boris Johnson, accusing him of using his son’s death to “make political capital” and taking the country “for a ride”.

David Merritt, whose 25-year-old son, Jack, was one of two people killed by convicted terrorist Usman Khan, condemned the prime minister for using the attack as justification for a series of tougher criminal policies.

Posting on his social media account, Mr Merritt responded to a reference of the attack during Friday’s BBC leaders’ debate, saying: “If prisoners have engaged with rehabilitation & turned their lives around, why should they be punished for what Khan did?”

In his first direct attack on Mr Johnson, who he had previously pleaded with to stop politicising the death of his son, he said: “[Jeremy] Corbyn spoke the truth last night. Johnson lied & used our son’s death to make political capital.

He added: “Wake up Britain: this man is a fraud. He’s the worst of us, & he’s taking you for a ride. You may think the options open to you in this election are not entirely to your liking. Me neither, but I’ll be voting least worst option: anti-Tory.”

“For all our sakes, and for the future of the country, please, please do the same.”

Challenged on the attack during the BBC leaders’ debate – the final head-to-head between Mr Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn – the prime minister said he had “huge sympathy” for both victims’ families. “It was a terrible thing,” he said.

He added: "But I still think it's wrong that someone like Usman Khan who was sentenced 21 years or 16 years plus five on licence should have been out automatically on eight years.”

In response, Mr Merritt, whose son Jack was working at a prisoner rehabilitation conference when he was killed, said: “We don’t know all the fact about this case yet, and we won’t know for some time – the inquest could take up to 2 years.

“We don’t know why Khan killed, or what, if anything could have been done differently to prevent it. Let’s have an enquiry, not a witch hunt.”

Posting on his Twitter account, he continued: “The prison education, probation and monitoring services have been cut to the bone, & overcrowding in prisons is inhumane – prisoners don’t win votes unless politicians are promising to be tough on them.

“But that makes re-offending more likely, which makes the public less safe."

The Labour leader described the attack last Friday – resulting in the deaths of Jack Merritt and 23-year-old Saskia Jones – as “utterly appalling”.

He added: “I was very moved by what Jack Merritt’s father said about what his son was trying to do. That he wanted a society where you did address the huge problems where somebody committed awful acts like that - yes of course you must imprison them, yes you must rehabilitate them if you can."

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/boris-johnson-merritt-father-london-bridge-attack-election-a9236956.html?utm_source=reddit.com
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Kremlin steps back from full-scale confrontation with Russia’s young protest generation

Yegor Zhukov, 21, had only just escaped the jaws of Russian justice and an expected four-year prison sentence.

But as he addressed hundreds of supporters from the steps of Kuntsevo District Court in Moscow, the student blogger was in defiant mood.

“Don’t separate these court cases from politics, because it’s all about the politics,” he said on Thursday. “They have turned these courtrooms into an institute of repression. We need to fight it.”

Mr Zhukov’s three-year suspended sentence was one of four unexpectedly lenient verdicts handed to young protesters in Moscow on Friday.

Judges imposed guilty verdicts in all episodes, but the tariffs they imposed were considerably less than requested by state prosecutors. 

Pavel Novikov, 32, was released with a fine of 120,000 rubles (£15,000). He had been put on trial for “injuring” a police officer at the 27 July protest rally in Moscow. A video showed him throwing a small water bottle in the officer’s direction. Prosecutors had asked for three and a half years’ jail time.



Vladimir Yemelyanov, 27, was handed a two-year suspended sentence. He was arrested in connection to the same protest rally – his crime, pulling a truncheon-waving police officer away from protesters.

Prosecutors asked for a four-year custodial sentence, despite a statement from the officer that he had “no complaints in relation to the defendant”.

Unusually, the judge announced she would be taking “mitigating circumstances” of his financial support for his elderly grandmother and great-grandmother into account – and would be releasing Mr Yemelyanov on parole. Immediately following the verdict, the young man rushed to embrace his grandmother, who had been watching nervously, sedatives in hand.

A fourth defendant, Nikita Chirtsov, did receive a custodial sentence for assault – he had pushed during skirmishes. But even then his tariff was much reduced, and he received one year instead of the three and a half years requested by prosecutors.

Later, prosecutors announced they were dropping charges in relation to a fifth defendant, Sergei Fomin.

In the four months since protests unexpectedly broke out in Moscow, authorities have invested extensive police resources in Russia’s young protest generation. In total, 90 state investigators were assigned to the so-called Moscow Affair. This is nearly 50 per cent more than the number deployed following the 2004 school terror attack in Beslan.

Initially, the security bloc was intent on a clampdown. In quick time, courts convicted six young men in often wild sentencing – in one case a man received five years for a tweet.

But public outcry forced authorities to drop half a dozen other cases. The Kremlin was also pushed to overturn the verdict in the case of 23-year-old actor Pavel Ustinov, jailed for resisting arrest even though footage showed he was more precisely the victim of an unprovoked assault by police.

Friday’s verdicts suggest that the Kremlin has become worried about the possible radicalising effect of a hardline strategy.

The case of Yegor Zhukov, who was the most prominent of the protesters sentenced on Friday, seems to underline such fears. Before his “extremist” YouTube videos criticising the Kremlin caught the attention of the Russian government, the politics student was but a little-known blogger.

Since then he has emerged as a potential opposition leader.

His defiant final words in court were widely shared before his verdict – and were seen by some as a rallying call for further protests. 

“I’ve been given the opportunity to undergo this trial, this suffering, in the name of the values close to my heart,” Mr Zhukov said. “Ultimately, your honour, the more frightening my future is, the more broadly I will smile in its direction.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russia-protest-student-sentence-extremism-yegor-zhukov-moscow-court-a9235641.html?utm_source=reddit.com
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Hyderabad case: How effective is India's justice system in dealing with rape?
« Reply #14814 on: December 07, 2019, 07:40:39 AM »

Protests outside a police station after the recent rape and murder of a young woman

The killing by police of four men suspected of raping and killing a young woman in southern India has focused attention again on the country's justice system.

Government figures for 2017 show that, on average, there were more than 90 rapes a day reported.

Relatively few of the victims of these rapes are likely to see their attackers convicted.

We've looked at the figures, and at how India compares with other countries.

What's happening with the justice system?
Rape and sexual violence against women in India has received more attention since the widely-reported gang rape and murder of a student in the capital, Delhi, in 2012.

Official figures show a significant increase in the number of rape cases being reported to the police since then, from just under 25,000 in 2012 to more than 38,000 in 2016.

In 2017, the last year for which data is available, there were 32,559 rapes reported to police.

But Indian courts seem to be struggling to deal with this increase because by the end of 2017, there were more than 127,800 cases pending.

Only about 18,300 court cases had been completed that year.

As a comparison, 20,660 court cases were completed and 113,000 were pending, by the end of 2012.

What about the conviction rate?
Between 2002 and 2011, convictions were secured in about 26% of all cases that went to court.

After 2012, the conviction rate started to improve before falling back to just over 25% in 2016. In 2017, the conviction rate went up to just over 32%.

It can be difficult to secure convictions given the length of time it takes for cases to reach court, and the pressures that are sometimes exerted on both the victim, and potential witnesses.

This can be especially true where the defendant is high-profile or has political connections.

For example, at least nine witnesses were attacked in sexual assault and rape cases that were brought against self-styled spiritual guru, Asaram Bapu, who was convicted in 2018.

Last year, the government said it was setting up an additional 1,000 fast-track courts to deal with the backlog of rape cases.

How does India compare internationally?
India's conviction rate for rape cases appears to be higher than some other developing countries.

In South Africa, research in 2017 revealed that only 8% of rapists who were taken to court were convicted. And in Bangladesh, conviction rates are extremely low, according to a 2018 study by a women's rights group.

In some countries with higher conviction rates, there's been concern expressed about the fact that fewer cases are ending up in court, with therefore fewer overall convictions for rape.

In parts of the UK, there's been a growing gap between the number of rape cases reported to police and the numbers that result in a prosecution.

This year, the proportion of reported rapes in England and Wales going to court was at its lowest level for more than a decade, which was linked to a desire by the prosecuting authorities to maintain a relatively high conviction rate of 60%.

Sweden and other Nordic countries have been criticised by Amnesty International for having relatively poor levels of conviction for rape and sexual assault, despite scoring highly in global surveys for gender equality.

But countries differ quite widely in their legal definitions of what constitutes rape, in police recording procedures, and in their prosecuting systems.

Cultural attitudes can also affect how victims and their families - as well as the law enforcement system - respond to sexual assault.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-50688435
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Monkey-pig hybrids created by Chinese scientists
« Reply #14815 on: December 07, 2019, 07:46:41 AM »
Researchers hope to use so-called Chimera animals to help grow human organs for transplantation

Chinese scientists have successfully bred monkey-pig hybrids as part of research into growing human organs for transplantation in animals.

Although the two chimera piglets died within a week of being born, both were found to have DNA from macaque monkeys in their heart, liver, spleen, lung and skin.

They were bred from more than 4,000 embryos which were implanted into a sow using IVF, according to a study report by the New Scientist.

A team from the State Key Laboratory of Stem Cell and Reproductive Biology in Beijing genetically modified monkey cells to produce a fluorescent protein allowing the researchers to track the cells and descendant cells.

These modified cells were injected into the pig embryos five days after fertilisation.

Ten piglets were born, of which two were so-called chimeras.

The monkey cells made up only one in 1,000 and one in 10,000 of the remaining pig cells.

The scientists are aiming to repeat the experiments to create healthy animals with higher concentrations of monkey DNA and to eventually reproduce an animal with an organ containing only monkey DNA.

The research paper, published in Protein and Cell, said the results brought the team “one step closer to producing tissue-specific functional cells and organs in a large animal model…”

This is not the first time hybrid animals have been created, in 2010, a team at Stanford University in California, created mice with a rat pancreas.

In 2017, researchers at the Salk Institute in California created pig-human chimeras with around one in 100,000 cells being human. The embryos were destroyed within a month.

More than 6,000 patients are currently on the waiting list for organs in the UK with around three people a day dying due to a lack of organs, according to the NHS Blood and Transplant organisation.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/monkey-pig-hybrid-science-chimera-organs-a9236846.html?utm_source=reddit.com
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Mizuho Financial Group, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group together accounted for 32 percent of direct lending to coal power plant developers since January 2017, according to a report.

Japan’s three biggest commercial banks are the world’s top financiers of new coal plants, according to research released Thursday in Spain at the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Mizuho Financial Group, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group together accounted for 32 percent of direct lending to coal power plant developers since January 2017, the report by Germany-based nonprofit Urgewald, Dutch bank watchdog BankTrack and 30 other NGOs says. Their research examined loans, underwriting, bonds and shareholdings in companies that were financially invested in the expansion of the coal industry between January 2017 and September 2019.

Mizuho is the biggest lender, having poured $16.8 billion into the industry since the research began. Mitsubishi UFJ is second with $14.6 billion in contributions and Sumitomo Mitsui third with $7.9 billion. Financial institutions have funneled over $745 billion into companies planning new coal plants over the last three years, according to the report, with $159 billion of that coming from 307 commercial banks through direct loans to the developers.

“Japan’s top three banks are undermining the Paris agreement and tarnishing their reputations by being the world’s biggest lenders to coal plant developers,” said Shin Furuno from 350 Japan. “Global banks must align their portfolios with the Paris climate goals by ending finance for the coal sector altogether and actively funding the transition toward a zero carbon future.”

Mizuho and Sumitomo Mitsui declined to comment on the study.

As the effects of climate change intensify, the push to limit the use of fossil fuels has been on the rise around the world.

In July, Mizuho Financial Group announced it would tighten its funding restrictions and focus on power plants with comparatively lower carbon emissions, and increase investment in wind energy and other renewable resources in the near future. NGOs often criticize Mizuho as the biggest financier of new coal projects, but the bank insists projects unrelated to coal power are being taken into account when such claims are being made.

Earlier this year, Mitsubishi Financial Group said it was solidifying a plan to stop investing in new coal projects in order to stave off the growing effects of climate change and align with Japan’s goals to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by the end of the century.

Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund is the second-biggest investor in coal-related firms with more than $17.4 billion in shares and bonds, according to the report.

European banks account for 26 percent of all bank loans to coal plant developers since January 2017, the report said.

While Chinese banks are responsible for 5 percent of such lending, they account for 69 percent of the underwriting, which refers to the process by which banks raise money for companies by issuing bonds or selling shares on their behalf.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/12/07/national/report-names-japans-top-three-mega-banks-worlds-biggest-lenders-coal-plant-developers/#.XevKzi_PxH1
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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The protest is the latest in a series by farmers, including this in Berlin last month in front of the Brandenburg Gate (the poster reads: 'No-one should forget the farmers make the food').

On Saturday evening German farmers set up “warning bonfires” at hundreds of sites across the country in a continuation of protests against new environmental controls that have caught Berlin on the back foot.

The fires come sharp on the heels of a huge protest in Berlin, when close to 9,000 tractors converged on the Brandenburg Gate - many farmers driving overnight from far-flung regions.

“We feel that government is being driven by green groups and NGOs. They are chasing the Green party vote and ignoring farmers even though we are their core voters,” said Helmut Lebacher, the organiser of a bonfire in the small Bavarian village of Tyrlaching.

Himself a cattle farmer, Mr Lebacher said that ever stricter regulations are threatening the financial viability of small farms.

"I invested a million euros in a new cow shed five years ago, but it wouldn't get planning today. Constantly changing regulations are making it impossible to plan for the future," he said.

Another farmer at the demonstration, Matthius Michaelbauer, said that farmers are sick of how they are portrayed in the German media.

"We are always the bogeyman, the media reports negatively on pesticides and fertiliser without giving the full picture," he said.

The demonstrations seemed to come from nowhere. Unlike France, where farmers blocking motorways is an integral part of the political landscape, Germany’s rural communities are not known for their activism.

But discontent has been bubbling under the surface. Tractor protests in Munich over a collapse in milk prices in 2015 provided a taste of what was to come.

The current demonstrations started in October after Angela Merkel’s government agreed on a new agriculture bill, which sets tough new limits on fertilisers and pesticide usage.

Of particular distress to farmers is a 20 percent reduction in fertiliser use in large areas of the countryside. The government says it has to comply with EU rules on nitrate levels in the groundwater. Concentrations of nitrate in drinking water pose serious health risks to infants and fertilisers are a major culprit. But farmers suspect environmental agencies are exaggerating the extent of the problem.

Maike Schulz Broers, the protests' co-initiator, told The Telegraph that fertiliser restrictions “wouldn’t just lead to a drop in the harvest, it would mean crops would take the additional nutrients from the earth, which would quickly impoverish the soil.”

For her, this is evidence government policy is “driven by ideology not facts.”

Ms Merkel’s Christian Democrats, who have locked down the farming vote for generations, have tried to appear accommodating, stressing that the bill “is not yet law.” But they’ve made clear compromising on environmental standards is a red line, saying their hands are tied after losing appeal against fertiliser rules imposed by the EU.

The protesters’ list of gripes stretches much further than the draft law, though. Some are angry wolf numbers have been allowed to swell, leaving sheep as easy prey. Meanwhile a sense that city dwellers don’t respect, or are even flat out hostile to, farmers permeates the protests.

Ms Schulz Broers, owner of a wheat farm south of Hamburg, says Germany’s liberal city dwellers want it both ways - they want farmers to go organic but still want a reliable supply of affordable food.

“If they want us to move to organic farming, fine. But they should know that it leads to lower production,” she says.

The protests have met criticism from the Green party, who accuse farmers of “ignoring the seriousness of biodiversity loss and water pollution.”

Critics charge that a powerful agro-lobby has protected a retrograde EU subsidy system while stalling efforts to restrict the use of the potentially carcinogenic pesticide glyphosate. Meanwhile, although farmers claim their futures are threatened, agricultural exports are big business, accounting for €70 billion last year.

With the CDU losing conservative voters to the Alternative for Germany (AfD) in recent years, some predict disgruntled farmers could now desert them for the far-right.

“The government's centrist politics fits the liberal principles of urban voters, but farmers in south Germany, like rural voters in the east, feel like they aren’t being listened to,” says Sudha David-Wilp of the German Marshall Fund.

“The AfD could pose a threat by telling farmers ‘we also understand that the EU is distant body politic that makes rules from on high’,” she argues.

Others see it differently. Robert Vehrkamp, a researcher at the Bertelsmann Stiftung think tank argues that “support for the AfD in the countryside has been exaggerated. The pact with the CDU has served farmers well over the years. As far as I know the AfD don’t even have a detailed agricultural policy.”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/12/07/german-farmers-set-bonfires-across-country-protest-ignored-climate/
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Brazil Grants Asylum to 21,000 Venezuelans in a Single Day
« Reply #14818 on: December 07, 2019, 01:22:18 PM »
Decision Based on Reports of Severe Human Rights Abuses in Venezuela

On December 5, Brazil’s refugee agency (CONARE) granted asylum to 21,432 Venezuelans . Until then, CONARE had granted asylum to a total of just 263. There are currently 224,000 Venezuelans living in Brazil.

In June, CONARE concluded that “serious and widespread violations of human rights” exist in Venezuela, paving the way for the mass recognition of refugee status under the 1984 Cartagena Declaration, which provides guidance to Latin American governments on the scope of refugee protection. 

CONARE based its June finding on a 25-page technical report on the situation in Venezuela that cited Human Rights Watch’s work thirty times. The report extensively quoted Human Rights Watch research showing compelling evidence of serious human rights violations committed by the Venezuelan government under Nicolás Maduro, including excessive use of force against journalists and protesters, arbitrary detention, ill-treatment of detainees that in some cases amounted to torture, and eradicating judicial independence in the country. The report also relied on our research on the collapse of Venezuela’s health system and a spike in treatable diseases.     

The Brazilian government’s historic decision – considered a “milestone in refugee protection” by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) – is a recognition of the rights and dignity that so many Venezuelans in Brazil have hoped for. We have spoken to scores of Venezuelan asylum seekers at the Brazilian border over the past three years, and with this decision, it feels as though they have finally received the protection, stability, and reassurance to start a new life that they desperately need.

CONARE should next make a prompt decision on the cases of 98,000 other Venezuelans whose requests for asylum are still pending. Other countries in the region should take note and follow Brazil’s leadership in providing legal protection to Venezuelan refugees.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/12/06/brazil-grants-asylum-21000-venezuelans-single-day
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Nobel laureate: Face up to climate change, no escaping Earth
« Reply #14819 on: December 07, 2019, 01:34:48 PM »
STOCKHOLM (AP) — An astronomer who shares this year’s Nobel physics prize for discovering a planet outside the Earth’s solar system is taking issue with people who shrug off climate change on the grounds that humans will eventually leave for distant planets.

Didier Queloz was one of several Nobel laureates who spoke about climate change at a news conference Saturday in Stockholm.

“I think this is just irresponsible, because the stars are so far away I think we should not have any serious hope to escape the Earth,” Queloz said.

“Also keep in mind that we are a species that has evolved and developed for this planet. We’re not built to survive on any other planet than this one,” he said. “We’d better spend our time and energy trying to fix it.”

Several other Nobel winners also urged that climate change be taken seriously. The remarks came as a two-week global summit on climate change is taking place in Madrid.

Esther Duflo, one of the Nobel economics laureates, cautioned that dealing with climate change “will require a change in behavior, particularly in the rich countries” that are heavy consumers of goods and energy.

She disagreed with those who believe there is no need to consume less as long as that consumption is fueled by renewable energy.

“It would be great if that were the case but I don’t think we can count on it necessarily,” Duflo said.

M. Stanley Whittingham, who shared this year’s Nobel chemistry award for helping to develop lithium-ion batteries, said “to help solve the climate issue, the time is right now, but we have to be pragmatic. ... We can’t just turn off all the CO2.”

Canadian-American James Peebles, who won half of this year’s 9-million-kronor ($948,000) Nobel physics prize for studying what happened soon after the Big Bang, later told The Associated Press that he is excited about the current wave of youthful climate change protesters.

“I see these people in Princeton, my hometown, as they go marching for control of climate. It is a wonderful thing. I love their enthusiasm, their energy, their devotion to something very worthwhile,” he said.

Whittingham also told the AP that he believed the climate protests would produce results.

“Maybe some of the young folks don’t realize how long it takes. But I go back to the Vietnam War era and the United States, where it was really the young people that pushed the politicians to get out and stop that nonsense,” he said.

The Nobel prizes in physics, chemistry, medicine, economic and literature are being presented Tuesday in the Swedish capital.

https://apnews.com/26706b2c60c69668edd1216c2c56700f
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'