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Tue, 18 Jan 2022
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Thousands in Vienna protest over Europe's first mandatory vaccine plan

vienna vaccine protest
© Ruptly
Protesters take to the streets of Vienna to demonstrate against mandatory Covid-19 vaccination.
The Austrian government's plan to make vaccination against Covid-19 mandatory has sparked mass protests.

Thousands of Austrians took to the streets of Vienna to protest against an upcoming parliamentary vote to make Covid-19 vaccines mandatory, with demonstrators calling for the government to be replaced.

Protesters carried Austrian flags through the streets on Saturday as police in riot gear could be seen standing in a line nearby. "Face your guilt and turn back!" one banner read, while others accused Austria's right-wing ruling party - the Austrian People's Party (OVP) - of splitting the nation with its coronavirus policies.

Comment: See also:


Three players drop out of Australian Open with chest issues while Djokovic awaits his fate

Novak Djokovic
The stakes are high for the organizers who have been keeping tennis star Novak Djokovic as a prisoner according to his parents. The player has won the tournament nine times, including the past three years and is currently tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for most major victories of all time, namely 20.

Djokovic has been confined to a small room in a Melbourne hotel since the Australian authorities denied him entrance to the country, overriding his medical exemption. Australia has been living up to its history as a penitentiary with its farcical zero-Covid policy and skyrocketing number of infections.

Djokovic's visa was cancelled on arrival and 34-year-old Serb is now languishing in a Melbourne immigration detention facility in a bid to prevent his deportation.

Comment: More on Novak Djokovic from The Guardian:
Novak Djokovic's Australian visa has again been cancelled days before the start of the Australian Open on the basis his presence could "excite anti-vaccination sentiment".

So it's not a health issue. It's because the locals might get dangerous ideas.

On Friday, the Australian immigration minister, Alex Hawke, exercised a personal power to cancel Djokovic's visa, likely to result in the world No 1's deportation and putting him out of contention for the grand slam tournament barring an against-the-odds court victory. Djokovic is due to have an appeal heard in the federal court on Sunday.

The decision means that Djokovic could be effectively barred from re-entering Australia for three years unless he can show in future bids that compelling circumstances exist, such as compassionate or Australian national interest grounds.

In a statement, Hawke said he cancelled the visa "on health and good order grounds, [and] on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so".

At an urgent court directions hearing on Friday evening, Djokovic's counsel, Nicholas Wood, expressed concern at his safety and a potential "media circus" when he is taken into detention after an 8am Saturday interview with immigration officials.

Wood proposed a hearing to consider overturning the cancellation on Sunday, arguing that every minute before the start of the Australian Open was "precious" to his client.

Wood revealed that the basis for Hawke's decision was the potential for Djokovic to "excite anti-vax sentiment", based on his previous statements about vaccines.

He noted this was "radically different" from the reason for the first cancellation and arguing there was was "no rational basis" for the conclusion, in part because Hawke failed to consider the effect of Djokovic's removal.


NBC report on transgender athletes deliberately misleads through omission

lia thomas transgender swimmer race
© gozips.com
Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas is seen beating her female competitors by more than 40 seconds at a meet in December 2021
NBC News made headlines this week for a segment in which a reporter suggested there is "'little scientific evidence" biological males have an advantage in women's sports

On the streaming program Hallie Jackson NOW, the network's senior Washington correspondent welcomed a fellow NBC reporter to shed light on the controversy surrounding Lia Thomas, a biological male who has found success on the University of Pennsylvania women's swim team.

"Critics are furious, saying she shouldn't even be allowed to compete," claimed Jackson, before claiming that "ten states have recently passed some kind of bill banning trans athletes from participating in youth sports."


Evil Rays

American diplomats in Geneva, Paris fall victim to 'Havana Syndrome'

US embassy
© immigration-residency.eu
US embassy Paris, France
More cases of 'Havana Syndrome' have just been reported at American embassies in Geneva and Paris, WSJ reports. Officials employed at both facilities have been afflicted by the neurological attacks, and at least one victim was evacuated back to the US for treatment.

Like most prior reports on Havana Syndrome attacks, this one comes with a significant delay: the attacks were first reported internally last summer, and quickly made their way to the State Department back in Washington. At least three cases of the syndrome were reported in Geneva, and there was at least one in Paris, Wall Street Journal said, bringing the total number of Havana Syndrome victims to close to 200.

While the Biden Administration's State Department insists on calling the attacks "anomalous health incidents," the CIA doesn't mince words. The "attacks" continue to befuddle America's best analysts. Nobody has a clear idea of what's causing them, or who might be behind it. Scientists have blamed crickets in Havana, and - as we mentioned above - those dastardly Russians. Yet, five years after the attacks started, the US appears no closer to the truth.

Comment: See also:


40 migrants from 'special interest' countries arrested in West Texas border sector

Migrant arrest
© US Border Patrol/Del Rio Sector
Migrant arrest
Del Rio Sector Border Patrol agents arrested a large number of migrants from "special interest" nations so far this month. The group included migrants from nations known to have terrorist activities.

Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Jason D. Owens tweeted a report indicating the arrest of 40 migrants classified as "Other than Mexican." The group included migrants from countries designated as "special interest" nations including Syria, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.
"Knowing who or what crosses our borders is essential to border security," Chief Owens tweeted.


Two of Nazarbaev's sons-in-law pushed out of key energy posts in wake of Kazakh unrest

© KazTransOil
Kairat Sharipbaev out as chief executive of the state oil pipeline firm KazTransOil
Two sons-in-law of former Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev have been pushed out of top jobs at two major state companies, Kazakh officials said.

The announcement, made on January 15 by the country's sovereign wealth fund, comes in the wake of last week's unprecedented political turmoil and was the latest indication that the current government of President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev was moving to purge or squeeze members of Nazarbaev's extended family.

In a statement, the sovereign wealth fund, Samruk-Kazyna, said that Kairat Sharipbaev had resigned as chief executive of natural-gas pipeline operator QazaqGaz. Dimash Dosanov, meanwhile, left his position as CEO of state oil pipeline firm KazTransOil.

Samruk-Kazyna gave no reasons for their resignations. Both companies play a key role in the country's oil and gas industry, an industry that fueled Kazakhstan's economic growth for decades.

Evil Rays

3 stabbed near University of Tokyo ahead of entrance exam, student, 17, arrested

tokyo stabbing
Emergency personnel at the site of a stabbing near an entrance gate to Tokyo University on Saturday morning
Two high school students and a man were wounded in a knife attack on Saturday just outside the University of Tokyo ahead of nationwide entrance exams. A teenager who was apparently frustrated with his academic performance has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, police said.

A 72-year-old man from Tokyo was seriously injured after he and the two other victims — a male and a female student, ages 17 and 18 respectively — were slashed in the back around 8:30 a.m. outside one of the gates to the university's main campus in the capital's Bunkyo Ward.

The two high school students, both from Chiba Prefecture, did not sustain life-threatening injuries, the police said, with the police quoting the 17-year-old suspect as saying he was not acquainted with the three.

The suspect, a student at a private high school in Nagoya, was not taking the exam. He was arrested at the scene on suspicion of attempted murder. He has admitted to the attack.

Comment: It seems that knife attacks are on the rise just about everywhere:

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MindMatters: Books for the New Year, and Responding to a Reader Comment

Today on MindMatters we give a preview of what's to come in 2022, including some of the books we've been reading: Richard Spence's Wall Street and the Russian Revolution and Iain McGilchrist's The Matter with Things. We also respond to a reader comment. Are we ignoring the dangers of rightwing authoritarianism and overplaying the dangers on the left?

Running Time: 01:06:01

Download: MP3 — 90.7 MB


Record levels of child sexual abuse online in 2021, internet watchdog finds

child abuse online

Of the 361,000 reported cases investigated by the IWF, almost 70% of cases confirmed URLs contained images or videos of sexual abuse
There was a "three-fold" increase in online child sexual abuse, according to the Internet Watch Foundation.

The online safety group is calling for more support for parents to spot danger signs after it investigated 361,000 reports of suspected criminal material in 2021 - the highest since the group started monitoring online abuse 15 years ago.

IWF, which finds and helps remove abuse content from the internet, said more people, especially school children, spent more time online in 2021 and as a result may have been more vulnerable to cybercriminals.

Comment: Sadly, this is just one of the disturbing effects of lockdowns on the innocent and vulnerable; 'collateral damage' in the fight to protect children from a virus where the risk of dying is so minuscule there is more chance they will be struck by lightning. The Netherlands also saw an uptick in sexual abuse in the home and online:
Children also more often fell victim to online sex abuse - usually a perpetrator talking them into sending nudes or performing sexual acts in front of the webcam. This may be connected to coronavirus-related travel restrictions and closed borders forcing child sex tourists and other child sex abusers to stay home and find their victims online.
And in 2020 CNN reported that "in April of 2019, the [National Center for Missing & Exploited Children] NCMEC received roughly 1 million reports. Last month, it saw more than 4.1 million come in via its CyberTipline, according to data provided to CNN". They go on to say:
"The pandemic is having an effect," John Shehan, vice president of NCMEC's Exploited Children Division, told CNN. "There are some very bad actors out there who are preying on this opportunity of more kids at home and online with parents who are having to juggle homeschooling and work."
See also:


Eleven Oath Keepers including leader charged with seditious conspiracy in Jan. 6 riot

oath keepers Stewart Rhodes

Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes (center)
Founder Stewart Rhodes, 56, is being charged for the first time in connection to the events.

The founder of the far-right militia the Oath Keepers and 10 others in the group have been indicted and arrested for their alleged role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and the planning of the 2021 incident.

Founder Stewart Rhodes, 56, is being charged for the first time in connection to events leading up to and on Jan. 6, according to a statement from the Justice Department released Thursday and obtained by NBC News. The other 10, including nine others who already faced charges in connection to the riot, were also indicted.

Comment: More from ABC:
The leader of the Oath Keepers militia group, who was indicted Thursday on a series of charges including seditious conspiracy in connection with the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, made his first appearance before a judge Friday in a federal courtroom in Texas.

Stewart Rhodes, a former Army paratrooper and graduate of Yale Law School, could spend decades behind bars if convicted on all five federal counts he faces -- including the most serious seditious conspiracy charge, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

A lawyer for Rhodes told ABC News Friday that the allegations against Rhodes were "lies," and said that no members of the Oath Keepers ever "planned or conspired to attack the Capitol."

In his Friday court appearance, Rhodes responded "Yes" when asked by Magistrate Judge Kimberly Priest Johnson if he understood the charges against him. He then waived his right to have the full indictment read aloud.

Prosecutors asked that Rhodes be detained while he is awaiting trial, and the judge set a detention hearing for Jan. 20. Rhodes will remain in custody until then.
It's rather telling that they've waited a year before making a move on this. Could it be a strategy to re-ignite Jan. 6 rhetoric closer to an election year?

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