Dutch court allows euthanasia in advanced dementia cases.

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Dutch court allows euthanasia in advanced dementia cases.

Doctors in the Netherlands may legally euthanize patients with severe dementia who previously provided a written request for the procedure, the country’s highest court ruled Tuesday.

In the landmark decision, the court said that a physician may respond to a written request for euthanasia made before someone develops advanced dementia, provided certain legal requirements are met — even if the patient’s condition means they become unable to confirm that request.

Euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands if the relevant criteria are met, which include a voluntary and well-considered request from the patient, “unbearable suffering without any prospect of improvement,” and the lack of a “reasonable alternative,” according to the Royal Dutch Medical Association.

If those conditions are not met, the practice is still a punishable offense.

In 2002, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize euthanasia.
Tuesday’s ruling follows the criminal and disciplinary case against a nursing home doctor who in 2016 ended the life of a 74-year-old woman suffering from dementia. The woman had written a directive asking for euthanasia in the event she was admitted to a nursing home with dementia and she thought the time was right.
Prosecutors had argued that the doctor did not do enough to confirm consent in ending the woman’s life, saying that once she was admitted to the home, she gave “mixed signals.”
At the time, the court concluded that the unidentified doctor, who has since retired, carried out euthanasia in accordance with the law and had not been negligent.
In its judgment Tuesday, the Supreme Court sought “to give direction to euthanasia lawmaking.”
“A doctor may respond to a written request for granting euthanasia to people with advanced dementia. In such a situation, all legal requirements for euthanasia must be met, including the requirement that there is hopeless and unbearable suffering. The doctor is then not punishable,” the Supreme Court said in a statement Tuesday.
The ruling also noted that doctors can legally follow through with the procedure if the patient can no longer agree to it, due to their illness.
“Even if it is clear that the request is intended for the situation of advanced dementia, and that situation is reached so that the patient is no longer is able to form and express a will, there can be circumstances where no follow-up on the request is possible,” it said.
René Héman, president of the Royal Dutch Medical Association welcomed the ruling, but warned that the situation remained complicated for doctors.
“It is good that there is now a ruling from the Supreme Court. But even with more legal clarity, not all complicated dilemmas around euthanasia in the case of dementia are gone. With every request to end a life, a doctor must still make an individual assessment if euthanasia is appropriate and if all due care criteria are met,” Héman said in a statement.
“Doctors act according to professional standards and also on their moral compass. The doctor’s own consideration is and remains very important,” he added.

WHO officials are unclear if recovered coronavirus patients are immune to second infection.

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WHO officials are unclear if recovered coronavirus patients are immune to second infection.

World Health Organization officials said Monday not all people who recover from the coronavirus have the antibodies to fight a second infection, raising concern that patients may not develop immunity after surviving Covid-19.

“With regards to recovery and then reinfection, I believe we do not have the answers to that. That is an unknown,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s emergencies program, said at a press conference at the organization’s Geneva headquarters on Monday.

A preliminary study of patients in Shanghai found that some patients had “no detectable antibody response” while others had a very high response, said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s lead scientist on Covid-19. Whether the patients who had a strong antibody response were immune to a second infection is “a separate question,” she added.

More than 300,000 of the 1.87 million coronavirus cases across the world have recovered, WHO officials noted, adding that they need more data from recovered patients to understand their antibody response, whether that gives them immunity and for how long.

“That’s something that we really need to better understand is what does that antibody response look like in terms of immunity,” Van Kerkhove said.

Ryan said there are questions about whether the virus can reactivate after a patient recovers and tests negative for Covid-19.

“There are many reasons why we might see reactivation of infection either with the same infection or another infectious agent,” he said. In general, “there are many situations in viral infection where someone doesn’t clear the virus entirely from their system.” Some patients can also clear the main infection but develop a secondary bacterial infection, he said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that it is developing a test to detect the presence of coronavirus antibodies to determine if a person could be immune to the disease. While such a test can determine who has been exposed to the virus, it’s not clear if it can identify those immune to reinfection, according to the WHO.

WHO officials also warned Monday against lifting social distancing restrictions and reopening businesses, even as U.S. political leaders, from President Donald Trump to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, have said they hope to reopen businesses as soon as it is safe to do so.

“While Covid-19 accelerates very fast, it decelerates much more slowly. In other words, the way down is much slower than the way up,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference at the organization’s Geneva headquarters on Monday. “That means control measures must be lifted slowly and with control. It cannot happen all at once.”

Tedros outlined a checklist for countries before they should consider lifting social distancing measures:

  • Transmission of the virus should be controlled.
  • A surveillance system should be in place to detect, isolate and treat patients.
  • Outbreaks in hospitals and nursing homes should be minimized.
  • Preventive measures in essential locations such as schools and workplaces should be in place.
  • The risk of importing the disease from abroad should be under control.

“Control measures can only be lifted if the right public health measures are in place, including significant capacity for contact tracing,” Tedros said.

Source: https://cnb.cx/3er2Cm8

Canada bans assault-style weapons after its worst ever mass murder

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Canada bans assault-style weapons after its worst ever mass murder.

Assault-style weapons are banned in Canada effective immediately, the country’s prime minister said Friday.

The move comes less than two weeks after Canada’s deadliest rampage in modern history, when a gunman in Nova Scotia killed 22 people after a 12-hour reign of terror.
“You don’t need an AR-15 to bring down a deer,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a news conference in Ottawa. “So, effective immediately, it is no longer permitted to buy, sell, transport, import or use military-grade assault weapons in this country.”

Police said the gunman had several semi-automatic handguns and at least two semi-automatic rifles, one of which was described by witnesses as a military-style assault weapon.

“These weapons were designed for one purpose, and one purpose only, to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time. There is no use and no place for such weapons in Canada,” Trudeau said.

The ban is effective immediately but disposal of the weapons will be subject to a two-year amnesty period. Trudeau said some form of compensation would also be put in place but the firearms can also be exported and sold after a proper export license is obtained.

Trudeau said that “thoughts and prayers” for mass shooting victims were no longer enough and that’s why his government acted.
Investigators gather outside Nova Scotia clinic owned by the gunman who police said was responsible for a killing spree.

The Nova Scotia shooter used a replica police car and an RCMP uniform to impersonate a police officer as he killed both people he knew and strangers, police said. He was fatally shot by officers.
Of the 22 people killed, 13 were shot and nine died in house fires, Royal Canadian Mounted Police said Tuesday.
RCMP said the gunman, Gabriel Wortman, 51, also killed or wounded animals and pets that he found at the homes.
Police believe Wortman acted alone in the shootings and arsons.
The gunman did not have a firearms license and that only one weapon was traced back to Canada, police said.
Last week, RCMP announced its officers had expanded their investigation into the US but would not elaborate on the nature of their leads. Police say they believe the gunman acquired at least some of his weapons in the US.
Legislation had been in the works for months after Trudeau promised during his reelection campaign in late 2019 to beef up gun control, especially for cities hard hit by gang violence.
Trudeau failed to make good on a 2015 election promise to restrict sales of assault weapons in Canada.

Source: https://cnn.it/3feq8mO

‘Strong sperm’ could impregnate women in swimming pools, child protection chief says.

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‘Strong sperm’ could impregnate women in swimming pools, child protection chief says.

A senior child protection official in Indoniesia is facing calls to resign after she reportedly claimed women could get pregnant from swimming in the same pool as men with “an especially strong type of male sperm”.

Sitti Hikmawatty, the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) commissioner for health, narcotics and addictive substances, made the claim during an interview with local news site Tribun Jakarta last week.

She said: “There is an especially strong type of male sperm that may cause pregnancy in a swimming pool. Even without penetration, men may become sexually excited [by women in the pool] and ejaculate, therefore causing a pregnancy.

According to the Jakarta Post, Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI) executive Nazar said it would be “impossible” for women to be impregnated in a swimming pool.

She said: “The water in swimming pools contain chlorine and other chemicals. Sperm cannot survive in these conditions.

“I will emphasise here, swimming with the opposite sex will not cause pregnancy. Not all men who swim ejaculate and sperm cannot live in chlorinated pool water, let alone swim into the vagina.”

Ms Hikmawatty issued an apology on Sunday after her claims drew backlash from the Indonesian public and the medical community.

“I apologise to the public for giving an incorrect statement. It was a personal statement and not from KPAI. I hereby revoke the statement,” she said. “I plead with all parties not to disseminate it further or even make it available.”

Susanto, chairman of KPAI, also issued a statement to clarify Ms Hikmawatty’s claims did not represent the organisation.

He added: “We hereby state that KPAI’s understanding and attitude are not reflected in the online news narrative.”

However, some Indonesian netizens are calling for Ms Hikmawatty to resign or be sacked for her uneducated claims as they caused embarrassment after going viral.

“Now that this story has gone viral all over the world, Sitti should indeed step down,” said one Twitter user.

“If you don’t step down, the whole world will think all KPAI members are stupid.”

Source: https://bit.ly/3afqxSa

Why taking online quizzes is a really bad idea.

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Why taking online quizzes is a really bad idea.

Which Dr. Seuss character are you? Who will be your Valentine’s Day date? Only a true genius will score 100 per cent on this quiz.

Popular social media quizzes, like the ones that pop up in Facebook feeds, may look harmless and fun — but taking them can leave you vulnerable to identity theft or fraud, according to CBC Information Morning tech columnist Nur Zincir-Heywood.

The Better Business Bureau, media literacy groups and police departments warn that hackers and scammers are behind many of these social media quizzes, so they can collect, use and profit from the personal information you share.

“Never do these,” said Zincir-Heywood, a cybersecurity expert who teaches in the computer science department at Dalhousie University.

She said social media quizzes can ask the same questions your financial organizations use for security purposes to verify your identity when you need to change your password or access your account without a password. Some examples include the name of your hometown or the name of your first pet.

The different questions may not all be asked on the same quiz, she said. But multiple quizzes can elicit enough information that a cybercriminal might be able to access a bank or credit card account.

Zincir-Heywood said this can leave you vulnerable.

“Maybe they are watching [your] social media in general, they know your location, they know other things about you,” Zincir-Heywood said.

“All of these then put together is a way to collect your information and, in your name, maybe open another account or use your account to buy their own things. It can go really bad.”

Zincir-Heywood offers the following tech tips to protect yourself from their more nefarious side of social media quizzes:

Be careful. Free quizzes offered on social media actually aren’t free — you’re paying with your personal data that big data companies collect for targeted advertising, or cybercriminals collect to sell on the dark web.

If you can’t resist filling out out these quizzes, provide fake information, especially to questions similar to security questions used by your financial institutions. For example, if you are asked, ‘What is your favourite pet,’ make up an answer.

Once you take these quizzes, you can’t take back the information you provide. So keep a close eye on your online transactions for any unusual banking or credit card activity, for example a transaction you did not authorize or an account you did not create.

Source: https://bit.ly/2K8INlv

Switzerland makes homophobia a criminal offense.

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The public votes to make homophobia a criminal offense in Switzerland.

A referendum in Switzerland passed today, officially amending homophobia to the country’s anti-racism laws as a form of discrimination. This is the first law in the country’s history to offer any kind of legal protection of lesbian, gay and bisexual people. A reported 63.1% of citizens were in favor of it.

It confirms a 2018 law passed by the country’s parliament that made public homophobia “incitement to hatred and discrimination” illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison. After opponents to the law gathered enough signatures to force a referendum, this vote finalizes its inclusion into Switzerland’s federal law.

Gender identity and trans people were not explicitly included in the amendment. Protections for transgender people were initially included, but removed by the upper chamber of Parliament because “on the basis that the criteria” for their protections “were too vague.”

While there was some opposition to the law in fear that it could lead to censorship or limitation of religious expression, a majority of Swiss leaders and political influences favored the law.

Earlier this week, Coca-Cola launched a series of ads in Swiss newspapers ahead of the referendum urging people to vote in favor of it.

According to the New York Times, people can be punished under this law for speech that “includes comments made on television, messages posted on social media, and discrimination against gay or bisexual people in public venues like restaurants or movie theaters.” It does not apply to ‘private’ speech or personal discussions.

This marks the first significant ‘protection’ of LGB people in the country, which is rated far behind other Western Europe countries in pro-LBGTQ laws. While same-sex relationships are not criminalized, same-sex marriage, adoptions by LGBTQ people, or other federal protections of LGBTQ rights are still not legalized.

The European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe) ranks them as 28th of 49 countries based on their protections of LGBTQ people. “An increasing number of violent incidents, primarily against gay men, were reported [in 2019]”, the group reported in their annual review of LGBTQ human rights in the region released earlier this year.

Experts on discrimination and homophobia in the region claim the law is a victory, as it will prevent speech that was previously allowed such as ‘burn the gay,’ or ‘lesbians must be raped.’ They are sure that the law recognizes the difference between discussion and ‘promoting hatred’. Interior Minister Alain Berset further clarified that jokes about LGB people are not considered hate speech, “as long as they respect human dignity.”

Source: https://bit.ly/2VdW4Qf

Coronavirus spreads at least 13 feet and travels on shoes according to new studies.

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Coronavirus spreads at least 13 feet, travels on shoes according to new studies.

The coronavirus can travel through the air at least 13 feet — more than twice as far as social distancing guidelines, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Research published in the federal agency’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal shows the contagion spreading much farther than previous official suggestions — and also getting spread on people’s shoes.

“The aerosol distribution characteristics … indicate that the transmission distance of [COVID-19] might be 4 m,” the report says, translating as more than 13 feet.

“Furthermore, half of the samples from the soles of the ICU medical staff shoes tested positive,” the researchers wrote of samples taken at Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan.

“Therefore, the soles of medical staff shoes might function as carriers.”

The report, based on research by a team at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in Beijing, appears to reaffirm fears that the current social distancing guidelines of 6 feet may not be enough.

It also suggests people — especially medical staff on the front lines — could inadvertently be spreading the bug away from its source, recommending stringent disinfecting measures.

High levels were also found on frequently touched surfaces like computer mice, trash cans and bed rails.

The CDC recommends 6 feet for social distancing, while the World Health Organization claims just 3 feet should be enough, less than a quarter of the distance the current study suggests the bug spreads.

Research last month said the virus could travel up to 27 feet. However, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, called that “terribly misleading,” saying it would require a “very, very robust, vigorous, achoo sneeze” to travel that far and the scenario was “not practical.”

Source: https://bit.ly/2xCvO95

Hyped Malaria Pill Doesn’t Help Clear Coronavirus in Study.

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Hyped Malaria Pill Doesn’t Help Clear Coronavirus in Study.

Hydroxychloroquine, the 65-year-old malaria drug that President Donald Trump has praised, appeared not to help patients get rid of the pathogen in a small study.

The pill didn’t help patients clear the virus better than standard care and was much more likely to cause side effects, according to a study of 150 hospitalized patients by doctors at 16 centers in China. The research was released Tuesday.

The drug did help alleviate some clinical symptoms of Covid-19, however, and the patients who took it showed a greater drop in C-reactive protein, a measure of inflammation.

“When testing new treatments, we are looking for signals that show that they might be effective before proceeding to larger studies,” said Allen Cheng, an infectious diseases physician and a professor of epidemiology at Melbourne’s Monash University. “This study doesn’t show any signal, so it is probably unlikely that it will be of clinical benefit.”

“The results of those studies will be of interest,” Cheng said.

Source: https://bloom.bg/3ete5kP

The Male Beauty Contest of the Sahara Desert.

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The Male Beauty Contest of the Sahara Desert.

The beauty standards and criteria aren’t all that different from your typical beauty pageant, except in the nomadic Wodaabe tribe of Niger, it’s the girls who get to judge the boys.


That old cliché that only women are high maintenance? Well, meet the tribesmen who spend an incredible amount of time, energy, and money to get ready…


(c) Rosemary Sheel

Their costumes have taken a year in the making; colourfully embroidered and decorated with shiny objects and attention-grabbing accessories. Yellow ochre and kohl is used as make-up to contour the face, elongate the nose and coat the skin.


(c) Weidinger

When they’re finally ready, the “pageant” can begin and the men, ancient warriors by tradition, begin parading, dancing and singing in the desert sun to impress tribeswomen– who also happen to be the contest’s judges.

Pic: Copyright Timothy Allen http://www.humanplanet.com

(c) Timothy Allen

The ladies are looking for the most beautiful face, the tallest and most graceful, the best dressed, flashing the brightest eyes and the biggest, whitest smile in the line up. 


(c) Weidinger

The Wodaabe tribe are said to value three things in life the most: beauty, cattle, and family. They are a fiercely loyal people within their clans, cattle-herders by trade, supplying meat for hundreds of villages town from the shores of Lake Chad to the Atlantic coast of Senegal– and they’re also said to be “obsessively vain”. 


(c) Mortarino


(c) Marie Laure de Decker

Known for their beauty (both men and women), the Wodaabe tribe, also known as Bororo, prefer a tall and slender physique, long straight noses, fine features, thin lips and flawless skin.


(c) Weidinger

At the end of the rainy season in September, before their annual migration begins, the nomadic clans gather in the desert with their cattle to celebrate, but also to compete. The week-long festival known as Gerewol, is a rich cultural ceremony of courtship which involves clan-meetings, camel racing, dancing, singing, marriage bartering, but most importantly, the hunt for the best looking male of the tribe.


The Wodaabe women, storied in Western Africa for their striking style, spectate and judge from a distance, pretending to be shy, all the while sizing up the most desirable contestant to be crowned the next “Mister Wodaabe”.

Pic: Copyright Timothy Allen http://www.humanplanet.com

(c) Timothy Allen

In the case of the unmarried judges, they’ll also be scoping out potential husbands and often have favourite contestants sent to their encampment to get a “closer look”.

wodaabe1This young man, captured by photographer Rosemary Sheel, won his beauty contest. The winner of Gerewol are remembered for several generations.


(c) Rosemary Sheel

Just like Miss World contestants who try to show off their brightest smiles and sparkling eyes, the Wodaabe men take it a step further and roll their eyes back and hiss while showing their teeth to emphasise those highly desired characteristics of the tribe. It’s also known, however, that to keep their stamina while performing before their female judges for hours and days on end in the Saharan sun, the contestants often drink a very particular cocktail of fermented bark, which has quite the hallucinogenic effect.


(c) Weidinger

During the traditional Yaake dance, the men are mostly being judged on their grace and elegance– something not easily achievable when you may or may not be drunk on the local moonshine.


(c) Weidinger

Nevertheless, the contestants do take the beauty contest very seriously and succeed in making a lasting impression. Some of the men in fact are so good at beautifying themselves with face painting make-up tactics and moving their tall and slender physiques with such elegance, that at times it’s hard to even differentiate them from the female tribe members.


Take this photograph above, captured by Steve McCurry. I was certain I was looking at a beautiful tribeswoman, McCurry himself captioned the photo on his own blog as “young male Wodaabe warrior”.

In her 2001 book, Nomads Who Cultivate Beauty, Mette Bovin confronts these stereotypes, noting that many often associate the Wodaabe men competing in the beauty contests with “homosexuals or transvestites.” But of course, the Wodaabe men are supposed to be putting on this show for the sake of attracting young girls at a festival dedicated to matchmaking and courtship.


Perhaps without even knowing it, this tribe, whose religion is largely but loosely Islamic, in the unlikeliest of surroundings, is challenging gender stereotypes of beauty norms.

It seems only fitting then that in their native language, Wodaabe, literally translates to “people of taboo.”

Source: https://bit.ly/3e5JeLf

Hague court orders Dutch state to pay out over colonial massacres.

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Hague court orders Dutch state to pay out over colonial massacres.

An Indonesian man forced to watch his father’s summary execution by a Dutch soldier when he was 10 years old has spoken of his gratitude after a court in The Hague ordered the Dutch state to pay compensation to victims of colonial massacres in the 1940s.

Andi Monji, 83, who travelled to the Netherlands to tell his story to the court, was awarded €10,000 (£9,000) while eight widows and three children of other executed men, mainly farmers, were awarded compensation of between €123.48 and €3,634 for loss of income.

The cases concerned men killed by soldiers in the Indonesian province of South Sulawesi between December 1946 and April 1947 during so-called “cleansing actions” as the Dutch sought to repress moves towards independence.

The court found that 11 men had been killed as a result of misbehaviour by Dutch soldiers, mostly by summary executions. One man was randomly shot.

Monji’s father was executed on 28 January 1947 in the village of Suppa. More than 200 men are believed to have been executed by the Dutch military that day.

Monji, who still lives in Suppa, said: “I’m grateful for the court’s ruling. I was 10 years old when I was forced to witness my father being executed by Dutch military after first being heavily beaten. I was crying.

“I’m also grateful that I had the chance to travel to the Netherlands to attend the court hearing so I could explain the court what had happened.”

Japan occupied the then Dutch colony of the Dutch East Indies during the second world war, and after its capitulation the nationalist leaders Sukarno and Hatta proclaimed the Republic of Indonesia on 17 August 1945.

For the following four years, the Netherlands fought to prolong its 350 years of colonial rule of the country, often through barbaric means.

The Dutch state had argued for the claims to be struck out given the time that had passed since the acts were committed.

Liesbeth Zegveld, the claimants’ lawyer, said: “We’re pleased with the ruling. It wasn’t easy; it took eight years of proceedings. It’s a pity that the Netherlands government hasn’t been more forthcoming, as many of our clients passed away during the proceedings.

“Nevertheless, for those still alive and all the families, the court’s recognition of their suffering and their entitlement to compensation is important.”

The court recognised in its ruling that the sums granted the relatives of victims were “disproportionate” to the suffering caused.

Source: https://bit.ly/2VhMlad