Anti-lockdown protests across Australia

Anti-lockdown protesters have marched in major Australian cities, as Covid cases spiked to record numbers in Sydney and authorities warned of a “continuing and growing problem”. Thousands of angry, unmasked people marched through the Sydney central business district on Saturday afternoon demanding an end to the city’s lockdown, which is entering its fifth week. After protesters were dispersed, the New South Wales police minister, David Elliott, announced the formation of a strike force to identify each of the 3,500 protesters at the “super spreader” event. Elliott said 57 people were arrested and several police officers had been assaulted. In

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On the list: Ten prime ministers, three presidents and a king

Spies for centuries have trained their sights on those who shape destinies of nations: presidents, prime ministers, kings. And in the 21st century, most of them carry smartphones. Such is the underlying logic for some of the most tantalizing discoveries for an international investigation that in recent months scrutinized a list of more than 50,000 phone numbers that included – according to forensic analyses of dozens of iPhones – at least some people targeted by Pegasus spyware licensed to governments worldwide. The list contained the numbers of politicians and government officials by the hundreds. But what of heads of state

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J&J exploring putting talc liabilities into new business that would file for bankruptcy

Johnson & Johnson is exploring a plan to offload liabilities from widespread Baby Powder litigation into a newly created business that would then seek bankruptcy protection. During settlement discussions, one of the health-care conglomerate’s attorneys has told plaintiffs’ lawyers that J&J could pursue the bankruptcy plan, which could result in lower payouts for cases that do not settle beforehand. Plaintiffs’ lawyers would initially be unable to stop J&J from taking such a step. J&J faces legal actions from tens of thousands of plaintiffs alleging its Baby Powder and other talc products contained asbestos and caused cancer. The plaintiffs include

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‘They Don’t Give a Shit’: Former Agent Says FBI Ignores Child Sex Abuse Cases

Last week, the Justice Department’s Inspector General released a scathing report detailing just how badly the FBI botched the major child abuse case involving Larry Nassar, former doctor for the USA Gymnastics national team and Michigan State University accused of abusing dozens of young patients in his care across several states. The report says the FBI’s Indianapolis Field Office did not respond to the claims against Nassar “with the utmost seriousness and urgency that the allegations deserved and required, made numerous and fundamental errors when they did respond to them, and failed to notify state or local authorities of the

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Pfizer Hikes 2021 Outlook After Vaccine Boosts Sales, Profit

Strong sales of its COVID-19 vaccine and other medicines helped Pfizer nearly double its second-quarter revenue and boost its profit an impressive 59%, beating Wall Street expectations and leading the drug giant to sharply hike its 2021 sales and profit forecasts. Amid the surging coronavirus pandemic, the COVID-19 vaccine became Pfizer’s top seller, bringing in nearly half its revenue – $7.84 billion from direct sales and revenue split with its partner, Germany’s BioNTech. Pfizer now anticipates revenue from the two-dose vaccine this year to reach $33.5 billion for the 2.1 billion doses it’s contracted to provide by year end.

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We got the bill for having a baby – $37,000. Welcome to life in America

Last week the hospital bill finally came. The cost of an uncomplicated vaginal birth? $37,617.69. The bulk of the charge was for three nights’ “room and board” in a semi-private room (containing two beds separated by a curtain) which was $10,350 a night. Our health insurance covers about $31,000 – leaving us with a balance of around $6,000. Although, of course, that doesn’t make the ridiculously high prices OK. We’re still covering the costs indirectly via our enormous insurance premiums which, we were recently informed by Oxford Health, part of UnitedHealth Group, are going to go up by 16% next

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How Should We Do Drugs Now?

In the past two years, a new drug policy reform movement called Decriminalize Nature has persuaded local governments in a half dozen municipalities, including Washington, D.C., to decriminalize “plant medicines” such as psilocybin, ayahuasca, iboga and the cactuses that produce mescaline. Last month, the California State Senate passed a bill that would make legal the personal possession, use and “social sharing” of psychedelics, including LSD and MDMA, a.k.a. Ecstasy or Molly. Political opposition to all these measures has been notably thin. Neither party, it seems, has the stomach for persisting in a war that has achieved so little while doing

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Guantánamo Bay: Inside the world’s most notorious detention centre as the war on terror fades away

Nashwan al-Tamir, wearing a white robe and long beard, does not pause to study the rows of people who fill the room. In the nearly 15 years since his capture, and seven since he has faced formal charges of being a high-level al-Qaeda operative who oversaw plots to attack Americans in Afghanistan, the 60-year-old Iraqi has gone through four judges, 20 defence lawyers and several prosecution teams. The courtroom here at Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba has moved, and the base in which it sits has grown larger. The only constant in these proceedings is Tamir himself, but he

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Pandemic-driven hunger is making the world more unequal

Worsening inequality, as poorer people and nations lose years of gains in the battle against hunger and poverty, is likely to be one of the lasting legacies of the pandemic. New data released by the United Nations … illustrates the unequal impact as measured by access to a basic human necessity: Food. Global hunger shot up by an estimated 118 million people worldwide in 2020, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, jumping to 768 million people – the most going at least as far back as 2006. The number of people living with food insecurity – or those

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Scientists Drove Mice to Bond by Zapping Their Brains With Light

Mingzheng Wu, a graduate student at Northwestern University, plopped two male mice into a cage and watched as they explored their modest new digs: sniffing, digging, fighting a little. With a few clicks on a nearby computer, Mr. Wu then switched on a blue light implanted in the front of each animal’s brain. That light activated a tiny piece of cortex, spurring neurons there to fire. Mr. Wu zapped the two mice at the same time and at the same rapid frequency – putting that portion of their brains quite literally in sync. Within a minute or two, any animus

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