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Mon, 26 Jul 2021
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Culture wars: City council in UK to investigate Parkin and Yorkshire Tea links to slavery

© Getty/PA
Parkin is a traditional ginger cake northern Brits have been enjoying since the 18th century. However, the cake may have connections to colonialism and the slave trade because of its ingredients.

The Black Lives Matter movement that swept the nation last year following the tragic death of George Floyd has prompted Leeds City Council to investigate the true history behind the beloved cake in order to educate the younger generation.

"Our work will aim to reflect these issues, looking at them from a contemporary perspective in an effort to tell their whole stories," Leeds City Council told the Telegraph.

"Historically, some of the ingredients used to make these 'local' products were gained through the triangular slave trade (for example, sugar)."


Male, Female, or X: Argentina to issue gender-neutral passports

argentina passport
© Reuters / Jorge Dan
Argentina will start issuing gender-neutral passports to non-binary citizens, becoming the first Latin American country to do so. The cards will feature an 'X' in place of the traditional 'M' or 'F' gender descriptors.

The issuance of the first gender-neutral passports was announced in a decree by President Alberto Fernandez on Tuesday, with a public announcement expected on Wednesday morning.

Argentina's Gender Identity Law was passed in 2012, and allowed citizens to change their gender without first undergoing psychiatric evaluation or physical transition. It also allowed them to identify as a non-binary third gender, though official documents such as ID cards, passports and tax forms still required them to choose from male or female.


Ukrainian poet & professor 'fired' from university post after sparking wrath of far-right for supporting Russian language

protest russian language ukraine
© Sputnik / Stringer
Protesters take part in a rally against the Buzhansky bill on the extension of teaching in Russian in Ukrainian schools, in Lviv, Ukraine.
A popular Ukrainian writer, translator and cultural studies academic has claimed she was dismissed from her job at one of the country's top universities because of her "political dissent" and collaboration with Russian colleagues.

Evgeniya Bilchenko, who taught at the National Drahomaniv Pedagogical University, announced on Facebook on Tuesday that she had been "fired." According to her, authorities "moved to eliminate her entire department" but were unable to cite any problems with "proficiency or immoral acts." She presented a rating alongside her dismissal letter, in which she was ranked as the best educator in the faculty. Another post had been offered to her, she argued, saying this was most likely just a formality.

Comment: The Ukraine neonazi program is rolling right along. Downhill to disaster.


Suspects claim undercover FBI informants played key role in plot to kidnap Michigan governor: Accuse govt of entrapment

whitmer kidnap fbi entrapment
© Reuters / Seth Herald / File
Militia members accused of conspiring to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer stand in front of the governor’s office after a protest at the state capitol building, in Lansing, Michigan, April 30, 2020.
Several of the men accused of planning to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer say they were entrapped by the FBI, with government documents suggesting that at least 12 undercover informants played major roles in the scheme.

A lengthy investigation by BuzzFeed News - published on Tuesday and based on court filings, text and audio transcripts, and more than two dozen interviews with sources close to the case - claimed that the 12 informants and undercover agents "played a far larger role" in the kidnapping plot than was previously known.

Comment: It's not like the show hasn't played out before. Some even suggest the FBI deliberately sets up and takes down "plots" so "they remember why they need us".


Change your ways or resign, Indigenous leaders tell Pallister government in Manitoba

Chief Garrison Settee
© Kevin King/Postmedia
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee speaks from the steps of the Manitoba Legislative building in Winnipeg last November.
'Today, we are not here to topple any statues. We are here to topple a government that is racist, a government that has no place in this legislature.'

Several Indigenous leaders are calling on Manitoba's Progressive Conservative government to either overhaul its approach to First Nations issues or resign.

Grand Chief Garrison Settee of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, which represents 26 northern First Nations, stood alongside others on the steps of the legislature Monday as fallout continued from Premier Brian Pallister's remarks about Canadian history.



Billionaire back-slapping: Branson congratulates Bezos on 'impressive' space flight

Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos
© Reuters / Joe Skipper and Isaiah J. Downing
Richard Branson (L) and Jeff Bezos (R)
Virgin tycoon Richard Branson congratulated fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos for a successful flight to the edge of space. The hearty congratulation appears to have ended the recent rocket-waving contest between the pair.

"Well done @blueorigin, @jeffbezos, Mark, Wally and Oliver. Impressive! Very best to all the crew from me and all the team at @virgingalactic," Branson tweeted on Tuesday, shortly after Bezos and his three-man civilian crew touched down in a West Texas desert following a short flight to the edge of the Earth's atmosphere.

Comment: Billionaires are weird.

See also:


Prison for anti-vaxxers? People who promote refusal of vaccines should be made criminally responsible, suggests Russian official

russia covid vaccine center
© Sputnik
Law enforcement officers register to receive a dose of Russia's Gam-COVID-VAK (trademark "Sputnik V") coronavirus vaccine at the vaccination point in Gostiny Dvor, in Moscow, Russia.
With Russia's campaign to inoculate its citizens against Covid-19 being hampered by widespread anti-vaccination sentiment, a local official has proposed introducing penalties for those who call for others to refuse taking part.

In a letter seen by RT, the First Deputy Chairman of the Leningrad Region Civic Chamber asked federal Minister of Justice Konstantin Chuychenko to introduce criminal liability for spreading anti-vaxx propaganda, noting that some people promote fake information about the potential dangers of vaccines.

"I ask you to assess the idea of amending the Criminal Code to include responsibility for those calling for others to refuse vaccination on non-medical grounds," Vladimir Petrov wrote, also noting that there should be an extra penalty for medical professionals who disseminate false and harmful information about vaccination.

Comment: The key here is spreading knowingly false information. From the wording here, it would seem that if someone was spreading information they believed to be true, the penalties wouldn't apply.

See also:

Treasure Chest

Photos of Senior Russian traffic policeman's mansion go viral after arrest over bribery charges

golden toilet bowl
© Alexander Khinshtein / Telegram
One photo — that of the residence's golden toilet bowl — quickly spread across Russian social media.
Photos of a high-ranking Russian traffic cop's gaudy mansion, including a golden toilet seat and painted ceilings, have gone viral after he was arrested for bribery and abuse of power, along with other police officers.

Alexey Safonov, the head of the southern Stavropol region's traffic police, was detained on Tuesday. The authorities believe he was the head of a criminal organization.

The news was announced by State Duma MP Alexander Khinshtein, who revealed on Telegram that the police and national guard conducted a huge operation on Tuesday morning.


Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan hit by fifth night of protests over water shortage

Protest Iran water
© Twitter
Iranians protest water shortages in Susangerd, Iran
Protests in Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan province continued for a fifth-straight night over a severe water shortage.

Video posted on social media on July 19 showed protesters chanting and blocking roads as security forces try to disperse crowds with tear gas. In some videos, what appears to be the sound of gunfire can be heard.

Protests have been held in a number of cities across the southwestern province, including in Ahvaz, Ramhormoz, and Susangerd.

At least two people have been killed since the protests erupted on July 15. Unconfirmed reports put the death toll at four. Human rights groups say the protesters were killed by security forces, but the local government blames "rioters" for the deaths. Iran's government has long blamed protesters for deaths during unrest, despite its history of bloody crackdowns.

Iran is facing its worst drought in at least 50 years, a natural event exacerbated by poor water management. The drought has hit agriculture and left dams with little water supply. Parts of the country have experienced weeks of blackouts.

Comment: Low rainfall is to blame along with accusations of mismanagement:
In the western province of Lorestan, the Head of the Water and Sewage Company, Hamidreza Kermond, said there are 120 villages that depend on tankers for their daily water. 1.2 million people from the 1.8 million population are facing water problems.

"There is no more water left that we can distribute through the water network and pump to the storage tanks," Kermond said.

According to a report by the Human Rights News Agency, a citizen in Isfahan central Iran said they did not have water for long periods of time.
"The authorities sent 40 tankers into the city, instead of presenting an effective solution. The sanitation of the distributed water was unclear to us, since we want our women and children to drink from it."
An official in nomadic issues in the northeastern province of North Khorasan said over 3,000 nomadic families have a serious need of water.
Iranians well
© Iran News Wire
"We need at least 30 billion rials ($122,100) to provide a mobile water supply, which was not given to us yet," the official said. He added that many of the natural water supplies such as water springs in the region have dried up.

In Varzaqan, northwestern Iran, the Governor said that 65 villages have problems with their water supply. He added many areas do not have drinking water.

In Semnan, northern Iran, Iraj Heydarian, the Head of the Water Company of the district said there has been a 34% decrease in water in the province since last year. Heydarian also said there was a 46% decrease in rainfall since last year.

According to official statistics, there have only been 112 millimeters of rainfall this year, whereas the average rainfall in Iran is usually 192 millimeters. In addition to Iran's water crisis, the constant blackouts across Iran have only intensified problems for farmers and livestock owners.

In Ahvaz, southwestern Iran, hundreds of Iranian Arabs took to the streets on July 11 to protest the water shortages. Locals demanded their water rights and the blockage of dams. They gathered peacefully outside the Governor's building, demanding authorities to respond to the water problems. Security forces surrounded the locals and detained many of the participants in the water protests. Ahvaz temperatures yesterday had a high of 49°C/120°F.


Florida man receives 8-month prison term in first felony sentence from January 6 Capitol breach

Paul Allard Hodgkins
© Screenshot
1 Paul Allard Hodgkins in the U.S. Senate on January 6, 2021
A Florida man, who breached the U.S. Capitol on January 6, was sentenced to eight months in prison on Monday. Paul Allard Hodgkins pleaded guilty last month to one count of obstructing an official proceeding - Congress' certification of the 2020 presidential election results.

Prosecutors, who asked for an 18-month sentence, argued that Hodgkins, "like each rioter, contributed to the collective threat to democracy."

U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss of Washington, DC. said:
"Although you were only one member of a larger mob, you actively participated in a larger event that threatened the Capitol and democracy itself. The damage that was caused that way was way beyond a several-hour delay of the vote certification. It is a damage that will persist in this country for several decades."
According to video footage, Hodgkins breached the Senate chamber and took a selfie with the infamous "Shaman," who donned a horned helmet.

Hodgkins' sentencing could set a standard for hundreds of other defendants now facing prosecution for their actions on January 6. The judge's ruling will likely help other defendants decide whether to accept plea deals or go to trial.

Comment: One down. The standard is set and the rest, like dominoes, will follow. So, whose 'collective threat' is it really?