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Wed, 08 Feb 2023
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In prelude to total public ban, China bans smoking in schools

China has banned smoking in schools, state media reported on Wednesday, the latest step in a government drive to kick the country's pervasive tobacco habit.

Despite years of campaigning by health activists, China is the world's largest consumer of cigarettes and smokers can be spotted everywhere, even in schools and hospitals.

But with a huge public health burden looming ever larger, China has recently intensified efforts to stamp out smoking.

The State Council, or cabinet, is aiming for a nationwide ban on smoking in public places this year, and several cities have already introduced anti-smoking regulations.

But critics say authorities only enforce bans sporadically, if at all, and it is common to see people puffing away in front of no smoking signs.

The latest ban, imposed by the Ministry of Education, covers kindergartens, elementary and middle schools, and vocational schools. Universities must set up smoking areas and forbid lighting up in academic buildings.

Anti-tobacco efforts have been hampered by the country's powerful tobacco monopoly, health campaigners say, which pays hundreds of billions of yuan in taxes every year.


Shameful! Cop forcibly cuts hair of restrained woman

Disturbing new video showing a Michigan police officer hacking off the hair weave of a young woman arrested in November is stirring controversy on social media.

In the video, Charda Gregory, 23, of Detroit is tied in a restraining chair by four officers in Warren, Mich., before a female officer rips and cuts at her long braids. Gregory appears to protest and react physically, but the officer doesn't stop until the entire weave is removed from her head.

Gregory was arrested for allegedly damaging a motel room and police car in suburban Detroit, but charges against her were dropped, according to NBC affiliate WDIV.

Police Officer Bernadette Najor, who administered the violent haircut, said she did so because weaves pose a suicide risk, WDIV reported. Najor was suspended and later fired.

At the time, Warren Police Commissioner Jere Green said Najor clearly violated policy.

"There's a real simple thing: it's called right and wrong. And to me this is something that I won't tolerate, I don't think the citizens of Warren will tolerate it,"he said. "We are always in the process of reviewing things that happen and trying to make ourselves better and more responsible to the people we work for."

Bacon n Eggs

U.S. Federal Appeals Court rejects secrecy for food stamp numbers

© Foxnews
A federal appeals court has rejected the Obama Administration's attempt to keep secret the government's data on how much individual retailers take in from the food stamp program.

In a ruling Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit turned down the U.S. Department of Agriculture's arguments that a provision in federal law protecting retailers' application information from disclosure also barred disclosure of how much the feds pay out to specific businesses.

"Because the retailer spending information is not 'submit[ted]' by 'an applicant retail food store or wholesale food concern...' the information is not exempt from disclosure. The department, not any retailer, generates the information, and the underlying data is 'obtained' from third-party payment processors, not from individual retailers," Chief Judge William Jay Riley wrote in an opinion joined by Judges Steven Colloton and Jane Kelly.

The judges acted on an appeal filed by South Dakota's Argus Leader newspaper after the USDA turned down the paper's Freedom of Information Act request for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program payments to individual retailers on an annual basis from 2005 to 2010. A district court judge agreed with the federal government's argument that part of the food stamp program statute barred such disclosure, making the data exempt from FOIA.

Snakes in Suits

Woody Allen: An open letter from Dylan Farrow

© Frances Silver
Dylan Farrow

What's your favorite Woody Allen movie? Before you answer, you should know: when I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother's electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me. He talked to me while he did it, whispering that I was a good girl, that this was our secret, promising that we'd go to Paris and I'd be a star in his movies. I remember staring at that toy train, focusing on it as it traveled in its circle around the attic. To this day, I find it difficult to look at toy trains.

For as long as I could remember, my father had been doing things to me that I didn't like. I didn't like how often he would take me away from my mom, siblings and friends to be alone with him. I didn't like it when he would stick his thumb in my mouth. I didn't like it when I had to get in bed with him under the sheets when he was in his underwear. I didn't like it when he would place his head in my naked lap and breathe in and breathe out. I would hide under beds or lock myself in the bathroom to avoid these encounters, but he always found me. These things happened so often, so routinely, so skillfully hidden from a mother that would have protected me had she known, that I thought it was normal. I thought this was how fathers doted on their daughters. But what he did to me in the attic felt different. I couldn't keep the secret anymore.


Expensive wastelands: Billionaires' Row where mansions worth £350MILLION have been abandoned and left to rot for up to a quarter of a century

  • The Bishops Avenue in Hampstead is one of Britain's most expensive streets
  • But at least 16 mansions on the road are currently unoccupied
  • One group of 10 houses has been abandoned for more than 20 years
  • Resident claims that just three homes on the street are lived in all the time
More than a dozen properties on one of London's most expensive streets are currently standing empty after being abandoned by their super-wealthy owners, it has emerged.

The Bishops Avenue in Hampstead, north London - dubbed 'Billionaires' Row' - has at least 16 giant mansions standing vacant, with a combined value of an estimated £350million.

Some of the homes have been unoccupied for up to 25 years, with the interiors left to rot and rooms taken over by plants, according to a new investigation.
Bishop Av.e Hampstead
© Unknown
Vacancies: Around a third of the houses on 'Billionaires' Row in Hampstead are standing empty


United Arab Emirates: Should the government mandate breastfeeding?

© Igor Balasanov / Getty Images
A mother breastfeeds her newborn.
When it comes to infant nutrition, the experts agree that breast is best. But should government be legislating lactation?

That's what is happening in the United Arab Emirates. Last week, the Federal National Council's Health, Labor and Social Affairs committee passed a clause in its broad Child Rights law making breastfeeding a "duty, not an option, for able mothers."

Members of the committee ultimately declared, after what was described as "a marathon debate" that every infant has the right to be breastfed for the first two years of life, according to a report in the National.

Under the law, a wet nurse would be provided for women unable to breastfeed for health reasons.

Still, the minister of social affairs voiced concerns about the enforcement of such a law. "If the law forced women to breastfeed, this could lead to new court cases," said Mariam Al Roumi, according to the National's report.

Among the concerns was the type of repercussions that could come from a mother's neglecting to nurse: Would a husband be permitted to sue his wife? How else might a mother be punished?

Many in the U.S. have been reacting to the notion of legislating what a woman should do with both her own body and her own child.

Eye 1

Meredith Borowiec throws her three newborn babies into trashbin, kills two of them and receives 18 month jail sentence

Meredith Borowiec gave birth to three children between 2008 and 2010, and left each newborn child to die in a dumpster.

Two out of the three perished.

The third baby, also deposited into a trash can by the loving mother, was rescued from the bin by a man who turned out to be the child's father, though he did not know it at the time. (He told CBC News in 2010: "I pulled into my parking spot and hadn't even got to the back of my truck and a girl said, 'I think hear a baby in the dumpster.' So I, you know - no knowledge at this time that this is my kid whatsoever - I went running over.")

Borowiec has already spent 18 months in custody, during which time she gave birth to a fourth baby.

This week she was sentenced to 18 more months in jail, as well as three years of probation. She was found guilty of two cases of infanticide, and one case of aggravated assault.


An Idea Whose Time Has Come! California revises cottage food laws and boosts economy by creating over 1,000 new businesses

© Dustin Hughes
Mark Stambler prepares his daily bread for his at home business in Los Angeles
A government official appears at a man's door. The man has been breaking the law: He has sold bread baked at home.

This isn't a page from Kafka - it happened to Mark Stambler in Los Angeles.

For decades, Stambler has followed traditional methods to bake loaves of French bread. The ingredients are simple: distilled water, sea salt, wild yeast and organic grains. Stambler even mills the grain himself. To make it easier to steam loaves, he built a wood-fired oven in his own backyard. Stambler's loaves came in first place at the Los Angeles County Fair and the California State Fair.

Soon after that, Stambler got the idea to expand his hobby into a home business, which became Pagnol Boulanger. Word of mouth spread. In June 2011,The Los Angeles Times profiled Stambler and his bread in a full-page feature.

Unlike his bread, that profile was bittersweet. He was busted the very next day. As he described it, the health department "descended like a ton of bricks on the two stores that were selling my bread...they could no longer sell my bread."


'Punishing' kids with stun gun? Caretaker arrested for alleged abuse

A woman was arrested Thursday in Kissimmee on allegations of using a stun gun to punish children in her care.

Letina Smith, 41, faces three counts of child abuse after a 7-year-old, 8-year-old and 9-year-old told officers that Smith punished them with an electric weapon.

The children described the weapon as being pink, rectangle-shaped and having two points with electricity flowing between them, Kissimmee police said. The children also said Smith touched them with the weapon when they misbehave, according to police.


Ukrainian parliament repeals anti-protest laws

© AP/Sergei Chuzavkov
In this Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013 file photo, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov gestures while speaking at a cabinet meeting in Kiev, Ukraine. The prime minister of crisis-torn Ukraine has submitted his resignation. In a statement Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014 on the government website, Mykola Azarov offered his resignation in order to encourage what he called "social-political compromise."
Ukraine's parliament has repealed anti-protest laws that set off violent clashes between protesters and police after they were put in place this month.

The vote on Tuesday came hours after Prime Minister Mykola Azarov submitted his resignation. He is one of the government figures most disliked by opposition supporters who have held protests for two months.

The protests turned violent after President Viktor Yanukovych pushed through laws to crack down on protests and raise possible prison sentences for creating mass disorder.

The prime minister of protest-torn Ukraine submitted his resignation on Tuesday, saying he hoped the move would help bring peaceful resolution to the crisis that has gripped the country for two months.

Mykola Azarov's resignation would remove one of the figures most despised by the opposition. It came as the parliament opened a special session that is expected to repeal harsh anti-protest laws that were imposed this month. Those laws set off the police-protester clashes in which at least three protesters died.