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Menstrual cycles are for everyone? 'Always' removes female symbol from sanitary pads following trans activists' complaints

© AFP / Chandan Khanna
Women's products maker Always is at the center of a fresh feminist v transgender skirmish, after caving in to trans activists' outrage and removing the 'discriminatory' Venus symbol from its packaging.

The company will drop the universally recognized symbol from December, following an onslaught of tweets insisting that women aren't the only ones who menstruate.

The decision may have appeased a handful of PC keyboard activists, but it has apparently enraged the bulk of the company's customer base - women, that is.


Lebanon cancels tax hike proposals following massive protests throughout the country

© Zahraa El Amir
At least 52 members of Lebanon's security forces have been injured during anti-government protests in Beirut, while 70 people have been detained, the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) said.

Since Thursday, Beirut and other cities have been gripped by protests with the demonstrators demanding that the government resign and action be taken to cope with the worsening economic situation in the country. The protesters blocked off major highways. In central Beirut, the rallies turned violent as the demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails on the police, while the security forces resorted to using stun grenades, rubber bullets and tear gas. Early on Friday, the ISF's General Directorate announced that 40 security personnel were injured in the clashes.

"The number of those injured among the Internal Security Forces personnel has reached 52, while 70 people were detained while they were carrying out acts of vandalism, arson and robbery in Beirut," the forces wrote on Twitter late on Friday.

Comment: Pepe Escobar shares his analysis of the situation:

Sputnik reports:
Protests started in Lebanon on Thursday after the government announced that it plans to charge 20 cents a day for calls via FaceTime and WhatsApp.

People are taking to the streets of central Beirut to protest over the government's latest initiative to introduce a tax for the use of messaging applications.

Earlier in the day, Lebanese security forces used tear gas and rubber batons to disperse crowds of protesters.
On Thursday, the government approved imposing a $6 monthly tax on online calls via mobile applications in a bid to raise additional funds for its debt-ridden budget. Moreover, the authorities introduced a new tax on tobacco and announced plans to increase the value-added tax (VAT) to 15 percent by 2020. The measures sparked mass protests in Beirut and other cities.

The clashes between security forces and protesters occurred in Riad Al Solh Square in the heart of Beirut.

Early on Friday, the ISF's General Directorate announced that 40 security personnel were injured following the clashes.
© AP Photo / Hassan Ammar
"Freedom of speech is sacred and guaranteed by the constitution, but does that justify attacks on public and private property? Does freedom of expression allow attacks on members of the internal security forces, forty of whom have been wounded so far," the ISF said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is expected to cancel the cabinet meeting for Friday, Lebanon's Mustaqbal Web news outlet reported, citing its official government source. He is also reportedly due to address the public this afternoon.
The Bahraini Foreign Ministry called on the country's citizens to immediately leave Lebanon that is currently facing violent anti-government protests.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain calls on all citizens who are now in the Republic of Lebanon to leave immediately, given the events and developments there that require from everyone to take needed precautions," the ministry said in a statement published on its website late on Friday.

The ministry also reiterated its calls on the citizens to refrain from travelling to the country.

On Friday, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar also advised their citizens against travelling to Lebanon.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has signalled his readiness to support the current Lebanese government amid the ongoing protests in the capital Beirut.

In a televised speech on Saturday, Nasrallah said that he would back the government,"but with a new agenda and a new spirit".

According to him, the past couple of days of protests indicated that if new taxes are introduced to resolve the political standoff, this may result in a "popular uprising".

Nasrallah said that if the government steps down, it could take a year or two to form a new Cabinet, "and the time is short"; he added that Hezbollah doesn't support the resignation of the government.

Lebanese security forces in Beirut used tear gas and rubber batons to disperse crowds of protesters, who blocked off the Beirut-Damascus international highway, also burning tires and calling for a "government resignation and revolution".

The Lebanese government will replenish the budget without introducing any new taxes, the country's Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil confirmed after an emergency meeting with Prime Minister Saad Hariri on measures to overcome the economic crisis in the country.

"At a meeting with Prime Minister Hariri, [it was] confirmed that the budget will be replenished without any new taxes or fees, as well as the cancellation of all proposed projects in this regard from either side, and the adoption of serious reform plans with the participation of the banking and other sectors, so that no obligations are imposed on people, even small taxes," Khalil wrote on Twitter.

On Saturday, Hariri met with a number of ministers, including ministers of finance and industry, to discuss measures to avert the country's economic crisis, which provoked massive anti-government demonstrations. On Friday night, the prime minister gave the government 72 hours to develop such measures.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun met with protesters on Friday, saying he "understands their feelings" and later wrote on Twitter that "there will be an encouraging solution" to the Lebanese crisis.

The Lebanese cabinet is expected to convene on Sunday to discuss ways out of this critical situation.

Since Thursday, Beirut and other cities in Lebanon have been gripped by protests with the demonstrators demanding that the government resign and action be taken to cope with the worsening economic situation amid a financial blockade and sanctions. The protesters blocked off major highways. In central Beirut, the rallies turned violent as the demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails at police, while the security forces resorted to stun grenades, rubber bullets and tear gas.
The finance minister delivered the announcement regarding the budget as tens of thousands took to the streets Saturday for a third day of protests against tax increases and alleged official corruption.

Lebanon's minister of finance said on Saturday following a meeting with Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri that they had agreed on a final budget which did not include any additional taxes or fees in a bid to appease nationwide protests.

Even though the tax was scrapped as the protests gained momentum, the rallies continue, with dozens of people injured in clashes between security forces and protesters.
The Lebanese court ordered the release of all protesters who had been detained during the riots in central Beirut, except for two people suspected of committing criminal offences, the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) said.

"Based on the decision of the judiciary, all the detainees were released, except for two people, one of whom was prosecuted, and the other is being investigated on suspicion of drug offences," the Lebanese security forces wrote on Twitter.


South Korean students protesting US military presence in country detained after scaling wall of envoy's residence

South Korean student
South Korean university student protesters climb over a wall during a protest at the US ambassador's residence in Seoul
Nineteen South Korean students were detained after scaling the wall of the US envoy's residence in Seoul, in protest of American presence in their country.

The students were taken into a local station for questioning on Friday after illegally entering ambassador Harry Harris' home, police said.

The group, which identifies itself as a coalition of progressive university students, posted photos on its Facebook account in which several members climbed over the wall of the house of ambassador Harry Harris using ladders.

Comment: As noted in Here's where Washington's focus will shift to after Syria the US' presence in Asia is unlikely to abate any time soon:
Washington has a new priority theater it is allocating its time and resources to focus on: the Indo Pacific. In that vein, you may start to notice that China and its relationship to the Pacific region is starting to make headlines again.


The US is also preparing a 12,000 soldier strong military exercise known as the Defender Pacific, which will see the US work closely with the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. It could also involve states such as the Marshall Islands and Palau, both still are diplomatic allies of Taiwan.

In the entire region, the US has 85,000 permanently stationed troops in total.
See also:

Pumpkin 2

Makers of controversial Trump 'shooting' video, TheGeekzTeam, answer critics with MORE memes

Trump meme
© YouTube / TheGeekzTeam
A screenshot from TheGeekzTeam's response video
After an over-the-top doctored movie clip showing the likeness of President Trump massacring his political and media opponents triggered fits of fury, its creators have responded - with an even more ridiculously edited meme.

The outrage from mainstream media pundits and political commentators was palpable when a meme video went viral last week. It featured US President Donald Trump's face cartoonishly copy-pasted into a mass fight scene from the film Kingsman with everyone else's faces replaced with those of his political opponents and the logos of anti-Trump media.

The scene where the obviously fake 'Trump' murders everyone else using every means at his disposal takes place inside the 'Church of Fake News'. The clip was made back in 2018, but caught the world's eye after it was shown as part of a "meme exhibit" at a conference of Trump supporters in Florida.

Che Guevara

Chile declares state of emergency as student protest against transit fare hikes rock capital

riots santiago chile
© Reuters/Ramon Monroy
A subway ticket office is seen on fire during a protest against the increase in the subway ticket prices in Santiago, Chile, October 19, 2019
Harrowing photographs show the mayhem in downtown Santiago, following violent protests sparked by a recent fare hike for public transport in the Chilean capital. The country's president has announced a state of emergency.

Addressing the nation in the early hours of Saturday, President Sebastian Pinera said that he would invoke a special state security law to prosecute black-hooded rioters who have set fires, looted, and destroyed public infrastructure in the capital.

Comment: So is this a people's revolution against a government's financial overreach, like the Yellow Vest protests of France, or another cynical 'color revolution' fueled by the West, as in Hong Kong? Only time will tell, but the photos of protesters in imitation 'Black Bloc' uniform, backpack, and facemask, do not look promising.

Snakes in Suits

Interminable Brexit boll*x: Johnson's Unionist problem

Stop Brexitsign
© AFP/Niklas Halle'n
People's Vote anti-Brexit march in central London on October 19, 2019
Britain's PM will not have his "do or die" Brexit blockbuster finale. It's more like "fight to live another day." There's too many imponderable permutations and sequels in Britain's tortuous path to leave the European Union.

When Boris Johnson took over Downing Street in July, he blustered about taking Britain out of the EU by an October 31 deadline. No ifs, no buts. Just do it. He said "deal or no deal" the United Kingdom was leaving the bloc. The prospect of a crash-out, no-deal "hard Brexit" loomed.

But bumptious Boris has rowed back considerably. He is putting a draft deal hatched this week with the EU to a vote today in the British Parliament in an extraordinary weekend sitting. Johnson's departure arrangement with Brussels marks a significant climbdown.

Comment: Actually, he isn't: parliament blocked the vote!

Comment: The 'dictatorship of the parliamentariat' strikes again!

To the chorus of a rent-a-crowd bussed in from across England, MPs have again defied the British government by essentially forcing BoJo to request yet another extension beyond October 31st. The amendment, by the way, was the work of veteran Tory MP Sir Oliver Letwin.

It probably doesn't need to be said, but they don't want to even vote on this deal because they don't want Brexit - however 'soft' or 'hard' - to happen.


Boeing troubles compound over 'misleading' messages to FAA about 737 MAX problems

Boeing 737
© Reuters/Lindsey Wasson
737 MAX aircraft at Boeing facilities at the Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington, September 16, 2019.
Text messages between two Boeing employees implying they "lied to the regulators" about problems with the safety software of 737 MAX passenger jets have been reportedly given to investigators, as the planes remain out of service. The exchanges from 2016 between MAX chief technical pilot Mark Forkner and another unnamed pilot at Boeing are now with the Federal Aviation Administration, according to documents seen by Reuters.

The FAA is said to have found the information "concerning" and is reviewing it "to determine what action is appropriate." FAA Administrator Steve Dickson also wrote to Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg demanding an "immediate" explanation for why the texts had not been turned over sooner.

"I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly)," Forkner reportedly says in one of the messages, referring to an issue with the MCAS software intended to keep the jet stable. The other employee responded with "it wasn't a lie, no one told us that was the case." "Granted I suck at flying, but even this was egregious," Forkner replied.

Comment: See also:

Eye 1

Mexican security forces flee after cartel gunmen launch WAR to release El Chapo's son at drug lord's bastion Culiacan - UPDATE: President orders Chapo son released

Burning bus
© Reuters / Jesus Bustamante
A burning bus, set alight by cartel gunmen to block a road, is pictured during clashes with federal forces following the detention of Ovidio Guzman, son of drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, Mexico October 17, 2019
In order to protect lives, Mexican authorities were forced to release the notorious drug lord Joaquin El Chapo Guzman's son after heavily armed cartel gunmen launched an assault against security forces holding their alleged boss.

Ovidio Guzman was briefly arrested after federal police patrol came under fire from a house where he was holed up with three others on Thursday afternoon. Once the cartel learned the drug lord's son had been apprehended, groups of armed criminals began attacking police all over the city with heavy firepower, blocking roads and setting vehicles on fire.

The gunmen surrounded the house where Guzman had been nabbed "with a force greater than that of the patrol," Security Minister Alfonso Durazo said.

The attacks were so vicious that authorities opted to "suspend our actions," lest the city degenerate further into a war zone.

However, the original raid on Guzman's hideout was anything but a 'routine patrol,' multiple reports alleged. Several videos show that police initially arrived at the cartel's compound in the city of Culiacan in full force - armed officers on foot, even trucks and jeeps with mounted weapons.

Comment: See also: Mexican drugs kingpin (and probable US govt agent) Joaquín "'El Chapo' Guzmán, accounts for 80% of U.S. meth trade

UPDATE 19/10/13: RT reports Chapo's son released:
The Mexican government struggled to defend its decision to release the son of Sinaloa cartel leader El Chapo after heavily-armed narcos broke dozens of reinforcements out of prison and turned Culiacan into a bloody war zone.

​Previous governments' strategy "turned this country into a cemetery, and we don't want that anymore," President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told reporters on Friday, defending his decision to release Ovidio Guzman, one of the sons of notorious incarcerated drug lord El Chapo.
Capturing a criminal can't be worth more than people's lives... We don't want dead people, we don't want war.
War is what authorities got after national guard and army troops raided a house where Guzman and three associates were staying.

At least eight people were killed and 21 wounded as hundreds of heavily-armed cartel gunmen took the city hostage, blocking off roads with burning vehicles, occupying toll booths, and surrounding the house where some 35 military and police forces had cornered Guzman.

Some 56 prisoners at nearby Aguaruto prison escaped during the chaos, taking guards hostage, seizing their weapons, and commandeering vehicles at gunpoint as they rushed out into the streets. By Friday, 49 were still on the loose.

Numerous videos taken by shocked locals show heavily-armed men riding around in vehicles, some with mounted machine guns, terrorizing the city as civilians dived for shelter. Gun battles raged for hours between the cartel and the government.

Cartel gunmen sent several threatening videos to military commanders in the area, one showing army troops being held hostage and another showing a uniformed soldier executed with a shot to the head - though it was unclear if the latter was filmed on Thursday as the violence engulfed the city.

Heavily outnumbered, and with nine of their own men reportedly taken hostage by cartel forces, Security Minister Alfonso Durazo made the decision to retreat and release Guzman. Blaming a group of police eager to nab Guzman without consideration for the cartel's reaction, Durazo called the arrest attempt a "failure," pointing out that they didn't even wait for a search warrant before rushing into the house.

A lawyer for the Guzman family said they would cover medical expenses for the wounded - and funeral expenses for the dead. "The family apologizes to the people of Sinaloa, and particularly to the people of Culiacan," José Luis González Meza told a news conference on Friday.

"The message of the family, and of the mother of 'El Chapo', María Consuelo, and (the mother) of Ovidio, Griselda López, is of thanks to the President of the Republic, López Obrador... We have a human, Christian president, who finally did not make the decision to harm Ovidio." Another family lawyer, Juan Pablo Badillo, praised "a manly order, an intelligent order, a sensible order" given by the president to release Guzman.

The city was still largely shut down on Friday, with schools closed, most public transportation offline, and businesses asking employees to stay home. The battle was the second clash between police and the cartels this week - the Jalisco New Generation cartel, a rival of the Sinaloa, ambushed and killed 13 police officers on Tuesday.


New surge of Mexican migrants is the latest challenge to Trump border crackdown

mexico migrants October 2019
© Isabel Mateos/Associated Press
Migrants walk down Highway 200 en route to Huixtla near Tapachula, Chiapas state, Mexico, Saturday Oct. 12, 2019.
A sudden increase in the number of Mexican families and asylum seekers trying to cross into the United States has raised fears of a new border crisis, frustrating Department of Homeland Security officials who are unable to deter Mexican nationals with the same restrictive immigration policies designed to keep Central Americans out of the country.

Mexico surpassed Guatemala and Honduras in August to again become the single-largest source of unauthorized migration to the United States, according to administration officials who provided data on the Mexican migrants but were not authorized to speak about the situation publicly. In recent weeks, thousands of Mexican adults and children have been camping out in queues at U.S. border crossings, sleeping in tents while awaiting a chance to apply for safe refuge.

Most concerning to U.S. authorities is the percentage of Mexicans declaring a fear of persecution or harm, a claim that typically prevents their rapid deportation. Their requests for asylum are adding to the backlog of nearly one million pending cases in U.S. immigration courts, and by law, the United States must process their claims.

Black Cat

Closet misogynist Hannah Gadsby thinks women are weak, so men should be too

Hannah Gadsby
© GQ
Hannah Gadsby
The latest issue of "men's magazine" GQ focused entirely on "New Masculinity," or as the publication puts it "the ways that traditional notions of masculinity are being challenged, overturned, and evolved."

As far as many of us are concerned, the old masculinity was just perfect, but GQ has set out to change your mind. And what better authority offer a valuable perspective on masculinity than unfunny, female, man-hating comedian Hannah Gadsby.

In "Hannah Gadsby on Why Men Should Be More Ladylike," the comedian offers a surface-level assertion that men should be more "feminine" and "ladylike," characteristics she equates with being powerless, meek, and sheepish. In her attempt to bash men, she ends up revealing her true feelings about women, in what shapes up to be a strangely misogynistic tirade.

Comment: What to say? That these absurd pronouncements are taken for sharp social commentary is a sad indictment of current society.