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Forewarned is forearmed. This was exactly what China suppressed when it came to the breakout of the Covid-19 pandemic in Wuhan and other parts of its country. Bringing this crucial aspect of deliberate camouflage by her native country is the well-known Chinese director Nanfu Wang’s latest documentary “In The Same Breath”. The film goes on to add to the infinitely growing list of atrocities committed by China in the past including the Tiananmen Square massacre and the continuing crimes against Tibetans and the Uyghur Muslims.
The documentary pointedly portrays how one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, China, flouting its moral and legal responsibility, deliberately and systematically, hid the outbreak of Covid-19. Instead of forewarning its citizens and the world at large, the nation, and its leaders downplayed the break out of the virus, through the State-controlled media, including television. Hardly behooving, a country which has the world’s largest population and is one of the fastest developing economies having commercial and trading relations with multiple countries.
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Contrary to taking corrective steps, the authorities are depicted in the movie banning social-media posts about Corona, barring symptomatic persons from getting admitted into hospitals, and penalizing doctors who had the honesty and courage to speak up about the virus and the risks it entails. Precisely this clampdown, the film stresses resulted in a large number of deaths, and most importantly, keeping Chinese citizens and the world at large uninformed about the disease and its fallouts.
In a despatch, The Washington Post has stated that the film talks about “eight doctors being punished for spreading rumors about unknown pneumonia’ after discussing the virus in private group texts — a warning repeated by state news anchors for days. A public-address announcement blares: “A reminder from the police: obey laws and regulations for online activities’ in the streets. A man is taken to the police station and fingerprinted for a cellphone video of a long line outside a funeral home”.
Wang is equally critical of the US in the film where more than four lakh deaths and nearly 26 million confirmed cases have been reported. In an interview to the website Deadline, she said: “The more I saw what happened in the US, I had more questions. I would say it was my political awakening moment of seeing the US in a new way that I never did.”
Adopting guerrilla filmmaking, Wang’s film has been shot with several cameras and freelancers, who have filmed in hospitals, emergency wards, and ambulances. The documentary will be screened at the ongoing Sundance Film Festival and is expected on HBO later this year. Financed by HBO, the film was specially screened for The Washington Post. (IANS)
The niece of Japanese Emperor Naruhito, Princess Mako, married a commoner Tuesday, relinquishing her royal status following a heavily scrutinized, controversial four-year engagement.
The Japanese Imperial Household Agency issued a statement announcing the marriage of Mako to Kei Komuro, both 30 years old.
The couple broke with tradition by foregoing the usual rituals and ceremonies of royal weddings, including a reception, while Mako also refused the one-off payment of about $1.3 million typically made to royal women who leave the imperial family to marry.
The couple had been classmates at Tokyo's International Christian University when they announced their engagement in 2017, saying they intended to marry the next year.
But shortly after the announcement, a dispute involving money Komuro's mother, a widow, had received from a former suiter surfaced and the wedding was postponed. Komuro wrote a lengthy statement explaining the situation, and but it is still unclear if the dispute has been fully resolved.
Komuro spent the last three years at law school in New York City, where The New York Times reports tabloid newspapers documented everything from his hairstyle to the food trucks where he bought his lunch.
At a news conference, the former princess addressed the controversies, gossip and mixed public opinion about the relationship, saying, "I am very sorry to the people who had trouble (with our marriage). Also, I feel gratitude towards people who cared and quietly worried about me, or people who were not misled by the non-factual information and still continued to support me and Kei."
The couple expressed their love for one another, and Mako said, "As we go on with our lives, I think there will be different difficulties. But as we have in the past, we will work together and continue to move on together."
The couple plans to live in New York City. (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Japan, Princess Mako, Komuro, Marriage, Royals
WASHINGTON — U.S. federal law enforcement agencies and Europol announced dozens of arrests to break up a global operation that sold illegal drugs using a shadowy realm of the internet.
At a Department of Justice news conference Tuesday in Washington, officials said they arrested 150 people for allegedly selling illicit drugs, including fake prescription opioids and cocaine, over the so-called darknet. Those charged are alleged to have carried out tens of thousands of illegal sales using a part of the internet that is accessible only by using specialized anonymity tools.
The 10-month dragnet called "Operation HunTor" — named after encrypted internet tools — resulted in the seizure of 234 kilograms of drugs, including amphetamines, cocaine and opioids worth more than $31 million. Officials said many of the confiscated drugs were fake prescription pills laced with the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl. The counterfeit tablets are linked to a wave of drug overdoses.
"This international law enforcement operation spanned across three continents and sends one clear message to those hiding on the darknet peddling illegal drugs: there is no dark internet," said U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco speaks during a news at the Department of Justice in Washington, Oct. 26, 2021. Photo credit: VOA
Investigators rounded up and arrested 65 people in the United States. Other arrests occurred in Australia, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. In addition to counterfeit medicine, authorities also confiscated more than 200,000 ecstasy, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methamphetamine pills.
"We face new and increasingly dangerous threats as drug traffickers expand into the digital world and use the darknet to sell dangerous drugs like fentanyl and methamphetamine," said Anne Milgram, administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). "We cannot stress enough the danger of these substances."
The international police agency Europol worked alongside the U.S. Justice Department's Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement team.
"No one is beyond the reach of the law, even on the dark web," said Jean-Philippe Lecouffe, Europol's deputy executive director.
The dark web is preferred by criminal networks who want to keep their internet activities private and anonymous. In this case, it served as a platform for illegal cyber sales of counterfeit medication and other drugs that were delivered by private shipping companies.
Investigators said the fake drugs are primarily made in laboratories in Mexico using chemicals imported from China. Prosecutors also targeted drug dealers who operated home labs to manufacture fake prescription pain pills.
FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate, second from left, speaks during a news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, Oct. 26, 2021. Photo credit: VOA
"Those purchasing drugs through the darknet often don't know what they're getting," Associate Deputy FBI Director Paul Abbate said. The joint investigation followed enforcement efforts in January in which authorities shut down "DarkMarket," the world's largest illegal international marketplace on the dark web.
Last month, the DEA warned Americans that international and domestic drug dealers were flooding the country with fake pills, driving the U.S. overdose crisis. The agency confiscated more the 9.5 million potentially lethal pills in the last year.
More than 93,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2020, the highest number on record, according the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. U.S. health officials attribute the rise to the use of fentanyl, which can be 100 times more potent than morphine.
U.S. officials said investigations are continuing and more arrests are expected. (VOA/RN)
(This article is originally wriiten by Chris Simkins)
Keywords: Drug Vendors, Investigation, DEA, Illegal purchase, Police Operation, Internet
Facebook-owned WhatsApp may soon ask users to verify their identity to make payments on the platform. According to XDA Developers, new strings spotted in the latest WhatsApp beta release suggest that the messenger will require users to upload verification documents to continue using payments on WhatsApp. Currently, when users set up WhatsApp Pay in India, the service only verifies the phone number linked to your bank account to enable UPI-based transactions. In Brazil, the messenger uses Facebook Pay to validate users' credit or debit cards to facilitate payments.
At the moment, the service doesn't require users to submit any identity verification documents to make payments. However, that might change soon, the report said. WhatsApp v188.8.131.52 beta includes a few new strings which suggest that users might have to submit identity verification documents to continue using payments.
The identity verification might be limited to those who use WhatsApp Pay to receive payments for their businesses. UPI-based apps, like Google Pay, PhonePe and even WhatsApp Pay don't require users to submit any documents to transfer or receive money. However, wallet apps like PayTM do ask for KYC verification as per RBI guidelines.
WhatsApp is yet to make an official announcement regarding this change. Since the new strings have just made their way to the beta version, it might be a while before the company reveals any details, the report said. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: WhatsApp, UPI, payments, verify, identity, documents