The Fatal Flaw in the Anti-Vaccine Movement

VAXOPEDIA

There are a ton of flaws in the “logic” of the anti-vaccine movement.

Just consider how many theories they have for why vaccines are associated with autism…

  1. It’s the MMR vaccine – the Andrew Wakefield theory
  2. It’s thimerosal – but MMR never contained thimerosal…
  3. It’s glyphosate – the Stephanie Seneff theory
  4. It’s the vaccines you get while you are pregnant
  5. It’s the vaccines you get as an infant – but you don’t get MMR until you are 12 months old
  6. It’s the vaccines you get as a toddler – but what about the kids who get diagnosed as infants?
  7. It’s just something about vaccines – but what about the autistic kids who are unvaccinated and whose parents weren’t recently vaccinated?

It’s fairly easy to see that these folks just want to blame vaccines

The Fatal Flaw in the Anti-Vaccine Movement

That’s not necessarily the fatal flaw in the anti-vaccine…

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Third Suspect in Skripal Poisoning Identified as Denis Sergeev, High-Ranking GRU Officer

Bellingcat previously confirmed that a third GRU officer was present in the UK during the time Sergey and Yulia Skripal fell into a coma, after what the UK authorities said was a deliberate poisoning with Novichok. In addition, Bellingcat established that this same officer traveled multiple times to Bulgaria during 2015, including a trip days before a Bulgarian arms trader and his son were severely poisoned with a yet-unidentified poison.

Following a four-month joint investigation with our investigative partners The Insider (Russia) and Respekt (Czechia), Bellingcat can now reveal the true identity and background of this GRU officer, who operated internationally under the cover persona of Sergey Vyachaeslavovich Fedotov. In fact, this person is Denis Vyacheslavovich Sergeev, a high-ranking GRU officer and a graduate of Russia’s Military Diplomatic Academy.

Additional research in this investigation was also made by newspaper Helsingin Sanomat (Finland).

Notably, we have established that in the last two months, Russian authorities have taken the unusual measure of erasing any public records of the existence of Denis Sergeev, as well as of Anatoly Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin, the main two suspects in the Skripal poisoning. These unprecedented actions cannot plausibly be taken without direct involvement of the Russian state, and add further credibility to the UK government’s assertion that the Skripal poisoning operation, and the subsequent cover-up, were coordinated at a state level. Additional details on these concerted efforts to purge public records of Chepiga, Mishkin, and Sergeev’s identities will be detailed in the next part of our investigation, scheduled to come out next week.

Who is Denis Sergeev?

Denis Vyacheslavovich Sergeev was born in Usharal, a small militarized town in what was at the time Soviet Kazakhstan, near the Soviet-China border. Both Denis Sergeev and his cover identity “Sergey Fedotov” were born on 17 September 1973. He served in the army in the southern Russian city of Novorossiisk in the Krasnodar Region.

At some point between 2000 and 2002, he was transferred to Moscow and enrolled at the elite Military Diplomatic Academy, popularly known in Russia as the “GRU Conservatory”. The Military Diplomatic Academy churns out 100 elite intelligence officers each year, ranging from spies in diplomatic and military attache covers to illegals.

We have not established what Denis Sergeev’s service prior to the Academy involved; however, it is known that recruitment into the Academy takes place among military officers with the minimum rank of captain who have excelled at their military service, traditionally in Spetsnaz or navy units. Like all other graduates, Sergeev would have finished the Academy with a minimum rank of lieutenant-colonel. While we have no confirmation of his current military rank, the time served and the nature of his assignments since graduation indicate he currently holds a minimum rank of full colonel, and possibly major-general.

Denis Sergeev is married and has an adult daughter.

2004 to 2012 Period

During this period, which possibly overlapped with his last years at the Military Diplomatic Academy, Denis Sergeev, under his real identity, served as shareholder and/or managing director of eight Russian companies. These companies, all of which were liquidated between 2007 and 2012, were sham corporations with names mimicking names of other large companies registered in Russia. In most of the companies, Sergeev was the sole shareholder, while in two he was co-shareholder with other people, some of whom we also identified as GRU officers.

We established that during 2009, Denis Sergeev obtained a personal loan from a Russian bank in the amount of just over one million USD. The allocation of such a large loan to a person who – as seen from his credit record (obtained from a leaked Russian credit history collection) – had no real estate and no personal vehicle – is extraordinary.  The loan appears to have been extended on the strength of Denis Sergeev’s personal income in his declared role as “specialist” working for a company called Loreven Style Ltd specializing in consulting services.

In a 2010 census, Sergeev listed Loreven Style Ltd as his employer, and indicated a Riga-based company address. There are no records of a company with such name ever existing, either in Riga or anywhere. Two phone numbers listed as contacts are not in service.

It is not certain what the function of the many sham companies incorporated by Sergeev was, and whether it was linked to the loan amount of $1 million apparently obtained from a Russian bank. A review of some of the other shareholders in these companies  – some of which also with GRU links – shows that they too incorporated dozens of companies with similar profiles, all of which have since been liquidated. It is plausible that these companies may have been used for money laundering purposes, or as cover corporations providing “respectable employment” to other GRU undercover officers, for instance in the context of visa applications. Bellingcat will continue to investigate these companies’ purpose and potential use by the GRU within or outside Russia.

The Birth of Sergey Fedotov

In 2010, Denis Sergeev received his alter ego, “Sergey Vyacheslavovich Fedotov”. A new, valid passport was issued under this name, by the same “770001” passport desk in Moscow that issued cover passports to Mishkin, Chepiga other GRU operatives, and “VIP” citizens, as previously detailed by Bellingcat.

“Fedotov” was given a birth date matching the one of the actual person Denis Sergeev. His place of birth was moved from Kazakhstan to the village of Apushka in the Ryazan region of Russia. As in the case of the other undercover passports issued to Mishkin and Chepiga, the “reason” for issuance of the new passport was stated as “unsuitability for use” of the previous passport. As in the other cases, the previous passport listed never actually existed.

“Sergey Fedotov” was also assigned a residential address and an employer. The new Moscow address in fact belonged to an unrelated family bearing the same family name (we were unable to contact the family to find out if they were aware of their cohabitation with the GRU officer, due to the fact that all four of their phone numbers were disconnected).

The employer, listed as a company called “Business-Courier”, could not be established definitively. There are more than 25 Russian companies that carry or had this name, including ones that were liquidated in the same period as the batch in which Denis Sergeev was a shareholder.

In a 2017 census, “Sergey Fedotov” listed his income as the equivalent of USD $1000 per month. He did not list an employer in this census.

An International Man of Mystery

Using four different airline booking, PNR, and border-crossing databases, Bellingcat has collated and analyzed travel records for the persona “Sergey Fedotov” for the period of 2012-2018. He used two different (consecutive) passports during this period–both of which were issued by the same 770001 passport desk and had numbers from batches that we have identified to include other GRU undercover officers.

Fedotov’s itinerary shows extensive travel to destinations across Western and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East.  In the period of 2012-2013, his destinations included Ukraine and Tajikistan.

In 2014, Fedotov traveled to Czechia, Italy, and Switzerland. Notably, during his first trip to Prague at the end of January 2014, he traveled alongside “Alexander Petrov”, the cover persona of Dr. Alexander Mishkin, one of the key suspects in the Skripal poisonings. The two stayed in Prague eight days, until 2 February 2014, when they flew back to Moscow. Bellingcat’s investigative partner Respekt has established that during this trip, “Fedotov” and “Petrov” stayed at the four-star Best Western Meteor Plaza Hotel, where they shared a room.

“Fedotov” made two subsequent trips to Western Europe during the rest of 2014, visiting Milan, Geneva, and Paris. His last trip that year was from 12 November to 1 December 2014, when he traveled to and from Paris.

Bulgarian Events

In February 2015, Fedotov made his first trip to Bulgaria. On 15 February 2015 he flew from Moscow to Belgrade in neighboring Serbia. On the next day he traveled on to Bulgaria, and stayed there until February 22, when he flew back from Sofia to Moscow.

His second trip, which was previously reported by Bellingcat, was in April 2015. He landed in the seaside resort of Burgas on a direct flight from Moscow on 24 April 2015. While he had bought a return flight from Sofia to Moscow on 30 April 2015, he did not use that ticket. Instead, on the evening of April 28 at 20:20, he flew from Sofia to Istanbul, where he bought an onward ticket to Moscow that same night.

It was earlier that same day, April 28, that the Bulgarian arms manufacturer and trader Emilian Gebrev collapsed during a dinner event with his trading partners from Poland at an upscale Sofia restaurant. Mr. Gebrev’s health deteriorated fast and he slipped into a coma. He was treated for poisoning from an unidentified substance at the Military Medical Hospital in Sofia. A source from the medial institution who wished to remain anonymous confirmed to Bellingcat and its investigative partners that Mr. Gebrev’s state was “touch and go” for over two weeks, with his chances of survival at times deemed to be very low. Gebrev’s son and the commercial director of one of his manufacturing companies also fell ill with signs of poisoning in the days following his own collapse, albeit with lesser symptoms.

Following his release from hospital, and given that the poison had not been identified, Emilian Gebrev requested a forensic medical analysis from two European labs accredited by the OPCW. One of them – the Helsinki-based Verifin – conducted a detailed analysis on urine samples from Mr. Gebrev and his son. As previously reported, this analysis found traces of organo-phospate poisoning, with two distinct types of agent discovered in the sample of Patient 1, who is presumed to be Mr. Gebrev. One of the types was broadly identified by Verifin as a pesticide, while the other was not identified.

In a statement to the press on 11 February 2019 in the wake of Bellingcat’s first publication pinpointing “Fedotov”‘s presence in Buglaria during the time of Gebrev’s poisoning, Bulgaria’s General Prosecutor confirmed Fedotov’s concurrent presence in the country. He also confirmed that Bulgarian authorities have re-opened investigation into Gebrev’s 2015 poisoning, which had been closed in 2016 when no suspect had been identified. Mr. Tzatzarov said that the investigation had been reopened after Mr. Gebrev had written to the prosecutors in October 2018, having seen coverage of the Novichok poisonings in the UK and suspecting he may have been targeted in similar circumstances. Mr. Tzatzarov also confirmed that Bulgarian and UK law enforcement had been cooperating on the case since October 2018. He, however, appeared to discount the hypothesis that the 2015 poisonings in Bulgaria may have been linked to poisoning agents of the Novichok family, which he substantiated with the fact that “no chemicals in the CWC (Convention of Chemical Weapons) lists of banned substances were found in extensive testing”.

Bellingcat and its reporting partners approached several experts on chemical weapons for further comments on the possible poison used in Bulgaria, based on the symptoms described and the full report from Verifin.

All consulted experts, including Vil Mirzyanov, who worked on the development of Novichok as part of the Soviet Unioin’s secret chemical weapons program, concurred that the Verifin report cannot conclusively prove or disprove whether Novichok, or a similar substance, was used in the poisoning of Mr. Gebrev. Speaking to Bellingcat, Mr. Mirzyanov said that standard OPCW-standard compliant tests like the analysis conducted by Verifin are not suited to identify the use of Novichok, which is not а part of the banned list of substances under the CWC. Mr. Mirzyanov confirmed that a repeat test by the same laboratory, targeted specifically at the possible metabolysed traces and artifacts left by Novichok poisoning, is likely to prove or disprove the Novichok theory.

Verifin has confirmed to our reporting partner Helsingin Sanomat that it holds patient samples for a minimum of five years, which would mean that Mr. Gebrev’s samples are available for re-testing at least until June 2020. Verifin has confirmed to the reporting team that if requested by the patient, a custom-tailored analysis could be performed.

“Fedotov” returned to Sofia on a direct flight from Moscow once more, on 23 May 2015. He left the country on 29 May 2015 by car, crossing into Serbia in the company of two Russian citizens. According to sources in Bulgarian law enforcement interviewed by our reporting partner in Bulgaria, Capital.bg, one of the two companions had been present in London during the poisoning of the Skripals in March 2018. Fedotov flew from Belgrade to Moscow on the next day, 30 May 2015. This return visit to Bulgaria broadly coincided with Mr. Gebrev’s release from hospital, and subsequent reentry with renewed poisoning symptoms.

2016 and 2017 Hotspots

Following his Bulgaria trips, Fedotov made one more trip five-day trip to Turkey in August 2015.

During 2016, he traveled to London twice. His first visit was at the end of March, and he stayed in London six days until 1 April 2016. He returned to London for a four-day visit on 14 July 2016. Notably, or perhaps entirely coincidentally, these two trips were shortly before and after the Brexit referendum.

On 5 November 2016, Fedotov flew to Barcelona, and left back to Moscow from Zurich six days later. He returned to Barcelona one more time: on 29 September 2017, two days before the Catalunya independence referendum. Once gain, by coincidence or otherwise, Fedotov remained in Spain during the October 1 vote, and flew back via Geneva to Moscow on 9 October 2017. He flew back to Geneva one more time three weeks later, on October 30, and returned to Moscow on 8 November 2017.

The Skripal Poisoning

At the end of 2017, Fedotov took a trip to Armenia. He stayed there between 23 December and 2 January 2018.  Only a week later, he flew to Zurich on January 10 and returned from Geneva on 17 January 2018. This would be his last trip before the London visit during which the Skripals were poisoned.

Traveling as “Fedotov”, Denis Sergeev arrived in London early in the morning of 2 March 2018, leaving Moscow at 7:00 on Aeroflot flight SU 2580. The other two suspects, Mishkin and Chepiga, would arrive on a later flight that afternoon.

It is unclear what Fedotov’s role may have been, if any, in the preparation and execution of the poisoning operation. We could also not establish if he traveled to Salisbury on any of the days he was in the UK. He had booked a return flight on Aeroflot’s SU 2579

from Heathrow to Moscow in the afternoon of March 4, the day on which Sergey and Yuliya Skripal collapsed unconscious.

However, he never boarded that flight. PNR records seen by Bellingcat and its investigative partners show that despite checking in to that flight around noon on March 4, “Fedotov” was a last minute no-show. Instead, using transportation that has yet to be identified by us, he made his way to Rome, and boarded a flight at 15:30 that same day back to Moscow.

In the next part, set to be published next week, we will detail how we identified Denis Sergeev, despite concerted efforts by Russian authorities to purge all public records of him and the two Skripal poisoners, Anatoliy Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin.

The post Third Suspect in Skripal Poisoning Identified as Denis Sergeev, High-Ranking GRU Officer appeared first on bellingcat.

German bank to determine whether Jewish peace group is anti-Semitic

The pressure on both Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East and Bank für Sozialwirtschaft, began in 2016, after the Jerusalem Post published an article on several Jewish German groups that had demanded the bank shut down the organization’s account over the latter’s support for BDS. The bank gave in and the account was shut down — the first time a German bank had shut down a Jewish organization’s account since the fall of the Nazi regime — only to be re-opened in 2017.

Bank für Sozialwirtschaft says it will conduct a ‘scientific review’ of Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East after the group was accused anti-Semitism by a leading Jewish organization over its support for the BDS movement.

Activists from the 'International Block', hold a BDS sign, during the annual May Day demonstration, Berlin, Germany, May 1, 2017. (Activestills.org)

Activists from the ‘International Block’, hold a BDS sign, during the annual May Day demonstration, Berlin, Germany, May 1, 2017. (Activestills.org)

A German bank is trying to determine whether a German-Jewish group that supports Palestinian rights is anti-Semitic.

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In December of last year, Bank für Sozialwirtschaft (Bank for Social Economy) said it would conduct a “scientific review” of German-Jewish group Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East after the latter was accused of anti-Semitism by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, one of the most well-known Jewish human rights organizations, placed the group at number seven in its annual “Top 10 Most anti-Semitic Incidents List” over its support for the BDS movement.

The list, published late last year, includes the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and the appearance of swastikas across university campuses in the U.S. It also lists Bank für Sozialwirtschaft for providing services to Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East, which operates in Germany. The bank decided to appoint an expert on anti-Semitism to determine whether the Jewish organization is in fact anti-Semitic.

The pressure on both Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East and Bank für Sozialwirtschaft, began in 2016, after the Jerusalem Post published an article on several Jewish German groups that had demanded the bank shut down the organization’s account over the latter’s support for BDS. The bank gave in and the account was shut down — the first time a German bank had shut down a Jewish organization’s account since the fall of the Nazi regime — only to be re-opened in 2017.

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The pressure from pro-Israel groups, however, did not cease.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s list includes not only anti-Semitic incidents, but also organizations, figures, and political decisions — including Airbnb’s decision to pull listings in West Bank settlements, UNRWA’s activities in the Gaza Strip, and UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. According to the list, Bank für Sozialwirtschaft earned the number seven spot because it “insists on doing business with the radical ‘Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East,’ which strongly endorses boycotting the Jewish state.”

Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East, which consists of a few dozen members, was first established in the early 2000s. All members of the group are volunteers; some of them are German-Jews, while others are Israelis who now live in Germany.

The pressure worked. Following the publishing of the list, Bank für Sozialwirtschaft pledged to carry out a “scientific review” to determine whether the Wiesenthal Center’s claims are true. To do so, the bank appointed Juliane Wetsel, a German historian from the Centre for Research on Antisemitism, to investigate the matter and submit an expert “scientific” opinion. The results are expected to be published in March.

A statement published by Bank für Sozialwirtschaft, which has been under criticism from both the right and the left, laid out the sensitivity of the current situation: “During the discussion on hosting the Jewish Voice bank account, we realized that we were in a lose-lose situation. Both shutting down as well as the opening of the account have brought renewed accusations of anti-Semitism.”

“We know that no matter what we decide, we will be forced to deal with accusations of anti-Semitism. This is regrettable, and we hope to contribute to a fact-based discussion with a scientific assessment of the issue,” the bank concluded.

The bank says Westel’s review will be conducted according to the working definition of anti-Semitism as laid out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, an intergovernmental organization founded in 1998. The definition, which was formulated in 2016 and has recently been at the center of controversy, is made up of 11 guidelines — four of which are directly related to criticism of Israel.

<p>Protesters carry Palestinian flags during a Black Lives Matter protest march, Berlin, Germany, June 29, 2018. (Activestills.org)

Protesters carry Palestinian flags during a Black Lives Matter protest march, Berlin, Germany, June 29, 2018. (Activestills.org)

“The [anti-Semitism] definition has been manipulated by Israel,” says Iris Hefets, a former Israeli and member of Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East. “They want to turn anti-Zionism into anti-Semitism.”

While Bank für Sozialwirtschaft has no qualms shutting down a bank account of an organization dedicated to human rights and peace, it maintains an account for the German branch of the Jewish National Fund, an organization that is complicit in the removal of Bedouins from their land in the Negev-Naqab Desert in southern Israel. Recently, the branch moved its account to a different bank.

Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East has roundly rejected the bank’s decision. “They are looking into whether the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors are anti-Semites,” says Hefets. “The review is illegitimate because it uses a definition designed to protect us as Jews against anti-Semitism, which is now directed at the minority group it is supposed to defend.”

In some areas of Germany, says Hefets, the far-right won over 20 percent of the vote in the last elections, asylum seekers are murdered by right-wing terrorists, and there is a general sense that the state is doing little to protect minorities. “In this kind of atmosphere, it is absurd to choose a Jewish group that deals with human rights and determine whether it is anti-Semitic.”

In mid-January, more than 90 renowned Jewish scholars and intellectuals — including Noam Chomsky, Eva Illouz, and Judith Butler — signed an open letter condemning the attacks against Jewish Voice for Just Peace in the Middle East and demanding the bank stop conducting its review: “We call upon the members of German civil society to fight antisemitism relentlessly while maintaining a clear distinction between criticism of the state of Israel, harsh as it may be, and antisemitism, and to preserve free speech for those who reject Israeli repression against the Palestinian people and insist that it comes to an end.”

“We are signed on to the BDS call as laid out by Palestinian civil society, to which we offer our solidarity,” she continues. “We are glad to see a change in the Palestinian struggle, which supports using nonviolence as a way of pushing Israeli Jews to bring about change.”

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

The post German bank to determine whether Jewish peace group is anti-Semitic appeared first on +972 Magazine.

German bank to determine whether Jewish peace group is anti-Semitic | +972 Magazine

Bank für Sozialwirtschaft says it will conduct a ‘scientific review’ of Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East after the group was accused anti-Semitism over its support for the BDS movement.

Source: German bank to determine whether Jewish peace group is anti-Semitic | +972 Magazine

The pressure on both Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East and Bank für Sozialwirtschaft, began in 2016, after the Jerusalem Post published an article on several Jewish German groups that had demanded the bank shut down the organization’s account over the latter’s support for BDS. The bank gave in and the account was shut down — the first time a German bank had shut down a Jewish organization’s account since the fall of the Nazi regime — only to be re-opened in 2017.

This study argues genetic modification could help quinoa, millet and other naturally stress-resistant plants become more productive

Translation: genetic manipulation will produce more short-term profit and please ignore that mono-crops raise the risk of total crop failures due to novel but predictable fungus, virus, or rust outbreaks. Notable_AndrewGrains_Main.jpg

Drought, extreme temperatures, salt in the soil: Because of conditions like these — which scientists call abiotic stresses — the fields that feed the planet yield just half the amount of food crops they have the potential to provide. With climate change, some of these stresses are worsening, even as rising population means more mouths to feed.

One solution to this challenge? Naturally stress-resistant plants, or NSRPs, which thrive despite difficult environments and challenging conditions. That’s the argument from a paper by a team of Chinese researchers in the academic journal Nature Plants. People already eat some NSRPs, and the paper contends that genetic modification of these crops could give them the boost they need to be produced more widely.

The researchers point to millets as one example. These edible grasses are a staple crop in parts of Africa and Asia, and they’re adapted well to one of the most formidable abiotic stresses: drought. Plus, millets can usually withstand high soil salinity and grow without much nitrogen fertilizer. An issue with millets, though, is that they often have low yields, the paper says, although scientists are working to change that.

Another NSRP suited for human consumption is quinoa, which tolerates high levels of salt in the soil and can grow in a variety of climates.

Higher yields would allow these and other NSRPs — such as amaranth, kaniwa and buckwheat — to be cultivated more broadly, the researchers argue. They say that advances in gene editing technology, such as CRISPR, can and should be used in conjunction with other techniques to keep the plants’ stress resistance and nutritional value in place while raising yields.

The paper doesn’t address potential limitations to the argument. The authors begin their plea for a turn toward NSRPs by quoting the often cited number that “food production must increase by at least 70%” by 2050, focusing on scientific and technological solutions. They don’t address political dynamics, the reality that government policies influence the distribution of existing food resources and the composition of people’s diets.

And commercialization of plants like quinoa holds the potential to funnel farmers’ resources toward a select few varieties of a given crop, at the expense of the very diversity that helps such crops withstand environmental change. Plus, some people still have concerns over genetic modification and CRISPR.

Still, as the human population climbs and climate change intensifies, the world will be looking for solutions. “For better food security and a healthier diet,” the paper’s authors write, “the world needs many more stress-resistant crops. As both researchers and global citizens, we look forward to a sustainable future with many stress-resistant, resource-efficient and nutrient-diverse grain, vegetable and fruit crops.”

View Ensia homepage

The post This study argues genetic modification could help quinoa, millet and other naturally stress-resistant plants become more productive appeared first on Ensia.

How a Slovakian neo-Nazi got elected

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In 2013, the far-right politician Marian Kotleba won a shock victory in regional elections. Four years later, he was voted out in a landslide. But now he’s running for president. By Shaun Walker

More from this series: The new populism

In December 2013, Marian Kotleba, a former secondary school teacher who had become Slovakia’s most notorious political extremist, arrived to begin work at his new office – the governor’s mansion in Banská Bystrica, the country’s sixth-largest city. Kotleba venerated Slovakia’s wartime Nazi puppet state, and liked to dress up in the uniforms of its shock troops, who had helped to round up thousands of Jews during the Holocaust. Now, in the biggest electoral shock anyone could remember in the two decades since Slovakia’s independence, the people of Banská Bystrica and the surrounding region had voted for the 37-year-old Kotleba to be their governor. The four-storey mansion, with its vaulted ceilings and gilded pillars, would be his workplace for the next four years.

Banská Bystrica is a tranquil kind of place, with a genteel Mitteleuropa charm: the centre has pavement cafes, neat rows of burgher houses and a number of handsome baroque churches. At eight minutes to every hour, a clock in the central square plays a dainty jewellery-box jingle. And now, it had the dubious distinction of being the first place in modern Europe to have elected a person widely regarded as a neo-fascist to a major office.

Continue reading…

Home Office apologises to man, 90, told to fly to US to renew visa

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Authorities refused spousal visa for over two years despite 25-year marriage to UK woman

A 90-year-old man with serious physical and mental health issues who was informed he had to return to the US to apply for a visa to live with his British wife in the UK has been told it was all a mistake.

Albert Dolbec, a US citizen, has been married to his wife Dawn, 84, for 25 years. For the past two and a half years, however, the Home Office had refused to issue him a spousal visa because, it said, he had entered the UK on a visitor’s visa and could not convert it inside the country.

Continue reading…

‘Executed by firing squad’: Video shows police firing a dozen shots at man

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Cellphone footage sparks outrage days after six California officers fired at Willie McCoy, who had been asleep in his car

Video footage of police killing a 20-year-old California man in his car shows a group of officers firing more than a dozen shots at him, prompting his family to say he was “executed by a firing squad”.

Blurry cellphone footage of six officers shooting Willie McCoy, an aspiring rapper who had been sleeping in his car outside a Taco Bell, also revealed that multiple police officers shouted commands at the young man after hitting him with a barrage of bullets.

Continue reading…

Measles: WHO warns cases have jumped 50% | Society | The Guardian

In 2018 measles caused approximately 136,000 deaths around the world, according to the WHO’s preliminary figures. The highly contagious disease can cause severe diarrhoea, pneumonia and vision loss. It can be fatal in some cases and remains “an important cause of death among young children” according to the WHO. The disease can be easily prevented with two doses of a “safe and efficient” vaccine that has been in use since the 1960s, the UN agency says. Facebook under pressure to halt rise of anti-vaccination groups Read more Up until 2016 the number of measles cases had been steadily declining but since 2017 the number had soared, according to Katrina Kretsinger, who heads WHO’s expanded immunisation programme. “There are a number of outbreaks … which are driving some of these increases,” she told reporters, pointing to significant outbreaks in Ukraine, Madagascar, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad and Sierra Leone. In Madagascar alone “from October 2018 through 12 February 2019 a total of 66,278 cases and 922 deaths have been reported”, the WHO said.

Source: Measles: WHO warns cases have jumped 50% | Society | The Guardian