I have so many news items that I’m going to make this edition a two-parter. And since I feel like a lot of times I’m just bumming you guys out with bad news from around the globe, I’m mixing in some lighter links and even a couple to good news. Ready?
The “City of Science”, a business incubator, interactive science museum, planetarium, and education and conference center in Naples burned down on Monday. No one was hurt, but the site was almost completely destroyed. The pavilions caught fire so quickly that authorities suspect arson. Almost a week after the fire, citizens organized a march to ask for the reconstruction of the science center, which had an average of 350.000 visitors per year.
The “world renowned” psychic Adelaide Scritori will no longer be working with the government of Rio de Janeiro to change the weather. She’s backing out of the “scientific and technical” agreement she had with the local government to prevent disasters related to weather because the Rio government didn’t send her NGO (I’ll get to that in a sec) a report on the investments on weather-related disaster prevention. She’ll get back to helping if they send the report soon. Why does she need the reports? Your guess is as good as mine.
Adelaide claims to have a Native American spirit guide named Chief Coral Cobra (Cacique Cobra Coral in Portuguese), who had previously spiritually guided (?) Galileo and Abraham Lincoln. The Chief tells her about the weather and presumably is able to change it when she asks him to (reports are not very clear on how this works). Through her Foundation (Fundaçao Cacique Cobra Coral), she has “non-monetary” exchanges with local and federal governments to “prevent or minimize weather catastrophes, so that their events are not disturbed”. Basically, if you are a local government worried that it might rain on your parade, you just call the FCCC and set it up. Her satisfied customers include, according to her Wikipedia page, Tony Blair and Jacques Rogge of the IOC for her help making it sunny during the London Olympics (I wouldn’t bet money on their being aware of this).
GERMANY (from Arturo)
The conversation about sexism in German politics was sparked recently when reporter Laura Himmelreich published the story of how a politician told her that “she could really fill out a dirndl”. You know what a dirndl is, right? Even if you think you don’t know, you know. It’s the Bavarian dress with the bodice and the cleavage, probably the waitress’s uniform at your local biergarten. The politician in question, Reiner Brüderle, has made no comments, but other members of his political party have accused the magazine and the reporter of crossing the line. Right. She crossed the line.
This story is not the first one of politicians making inappropriate advances on A female journalist. Another journalist described in her book how a member of parliament handed her a box with a dildo.
Presidential candidate Nelson Zavala planned, in the name of God, to censor movies, ban rock concerts and fire LGBTQ people from their jobs if he was elected president. Zavala, an evangelical pastor with 16 civil and penal lawsuits pending against him, including one for beating up his then 13 year-old son, said that the atheist government is destroying the country, and that without god, there’s no liberty. The National Electoral Council passed a resolution prohibiting candidates from making homophobic remarks. I guess saying you’ll censor movies isn’t the best vote-getting strategy because he came in 8th place (out of 8 candidates).
KASHMIR (from Nicole)
After winning the Battle of the Bands in December, the 15 and 16 year-olds in the all-girl rock band Pragash started receiving online threats and harassment. It got much worse when the Grand mufti of Jammu and Kashmir Bashiruddin Ahmad issued a fatwa calling their singing unislamic and immoral. In minute 3:14 of this video the translation of his words read: “Girls are responsible for the rape. They should be in their limits”. And in minute 3:44 he continues: “They can sing inside their homes. They shouldn’t sing in public. They are giving bad signals to men”. The government said they will not spare those who have threaten the girls, but there will be no legal action against the grand mufti. In the meantime, the girls have stopped singing.
Afghan Star contestant, 17-year-old Latifa Azizi, has also been receiving threats and harassment due to her participation on the singing show. Latifa and her family went to Kabul to support her dream of becoming a singer, but they can’t go back to their hometown now. As one member of her tribe put it: “Latifa will have no life here after what she’s done. We don’t do such things and we don’t accept people who do”. The auditions episode aired when she was still in school and her classmates made her run back home crying. Then she says she was expelled, though the principal denies it.
Although Latifa’s community will not accept her whether she wins or loses, she has the support of her family and she’s still on the show. (BTW, here’s how you can vote for her on Afghan Star).
PAKISTAN / NIGERIA / AFGHANISTAN (from Mary / Materia)
Dozens of polio vaccination workers have been killed in the past few of months in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria, which are the only countries where the disease is still endemic. In December, 9 vaccination workers were shot in coordinated attacks in Pakistan. Early in January, 7 more workers were killed, after which the Pakistani government started providing paramilitary and police support to the vaccination teams. In early February, 9 female vaccine workers were killed in Nigeria, where there hadn’t been such attacks before. In January and February, two police officers providing security to polio vaccination workers were shot and killed, in Pakistan.
Resistance to vaccination due to rumors that the vaccines are a CIA plot to sterilize Muslims has only been made worse after people found out that a hepatitis vaccination campaign was used as an cover to confirm Bin Laden’s location.
The Ministry of Health seized over 600 thousand “miracle” products and closed down their manufacturers in the state of Guanajuato last weekend. The ministry has been busy in the past couple of years trying to remove from the market all kinds of shady supplements from companies with bad manufacturing practices or making health claims on the labels without legal authorization, now having taken off the market over 1.1 million products.