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A medical facility specifically catering North Korea’s privileged elites has been forced to open its doors to common citizens in exchange for bribes, in an effort to stem financial difficulties, sources say.
Pyongyang’s Bonghwa Medical Center offers top-notch medical care, but has officially only been available to Kim Jong Un and Workers’ Party officials of the highest ranks.
Now strapped for cash, the hospital will admit anyone who greases the palms of the right people. While health care is officially free for all citizens, hospitals for elites, like Bongwha are a step above what citizens typically have access to.
“My nephew is a doctor and he has been suffering from stomach problems for more than 10 years. He was [recently] treated at Bonghwa Medical Center and has been healed completely,” said a source from North Pyongan province in an interview with RFA’s Korean Service.
“It cost him a lot of money to get treated [there], but now I have come to realize that money can do anything,” said the source.
The source said Bonghwa is known as “the best hospital in the Republic,” and that it is reserved for politically important people, expressing disgust that it could now be bought into.
“It is surprising that ordinary people can [get] medical treatment [there] if they bribe them. I feel bitter because there’s nothing money can’t do in this society,” said the source.
The source noted that bribery is not unique to Bonghwa — other well-regarded hospitals are doing the same.
“Well-known hospitals in Pyongyang, including Kim Man-yu Hospital, Namsan Hospital, and the Red Cross Hospital are treating a number of ordinary patients from other regions. They are getting medical treatment because they have bribed high-rank officials,” said the source.
The source said that patients of Bonghwa and the other hospitals have access to medicines that aren’t available to the general public, but these too come with a hefty price tag for the patients who have bribed their way in.
“Since they are not high-ranking officials, ordinary patients have to pay a lot for these prescription drugs. It’s like the hospitals are earning foreign cash off patients,” the source said.
Even if a patient has the means to get into the good hospitals, the level of care can still differ depending on how much was paid in bribe.
“If you give a large amount, they will even treat you better than a high-ranking official from the Central Committee [of the Workers’ Party.]”
A North Korean defector surnamed Lee who settled in South Korea confirmed the North Korean medical industry’s state of affairs.
“In the past, hospitals that have been designated only for high-ranking officials in Pyongyang have ignored their mandate and provided care to ordinary patients,” said Lee, adding, “Without taking bribes from these people, it would be difficult for hospitals to stay open, and for doctors to make an actual living.”
“That’s just how things are in the North Korean medical industry,” said Lee.“Medical equipment and hospital supplies provided by the outside world, supposedly as humanitarian aid, all go to these elite hospitals,” said Lee.
“The hospitals are for privileged people, but since state support is so small, they would be difficult to run properly without extra money from ordinary patients,” Lee said.
In 2010, the World Health Organization controversially described North Korea’s universal health care system as “the envy of the developing world,” contradicting a report from Amnesty International that same year that said the country’s hospitals were barely functioning and unable to deal with epidemics and rampant malnutrition.
In February, The New Humanitarian published a report describing North Korea’s “silent health crisis,” which acknowledged a recent improvement in public health within the country, but described its health system as inadequate. The Geneva-based news outlet founded by the United Nations said that a formal peace agreement with the United States and South Korea would not in and of itself improve North Korea’s health care situation. (IANS)
By- Tejas Maheta
Free VPNs tend to get a bad rap (and often for good reasons, which we'll discuss in a second). Still, there are some safe and free VPN services recommended by expats - just click the link for some solid options. Next, scroll on to see how you can put them to good use while you're abroad.
Privacy and Security (to a Certain Degree)
One of the main purposes of a VPN is to encrypt your network traffic – garble it, basically – to keep it safe from:
- ISPs that want to sell your browsing and location data for a profit
- Hackers and script kiddies lurking at every corner public hotspot
- Government surveillance agencies spying on their own citizens
Even free VPNs can do as much, as long as you go with a trustworthy provider such as those linked at the start.
On top of that, VPNs hide your real life location by masking your IP address and assigning a new one based on the server you connect to. Useful in case some cyberstalkers or trolls lure you into clicking on IP-grabbing links or scripts to determine your location. Unfortunately, it's not as effective against GPS tracking (though there are some paid VPNs out there that can spoof GPS).
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Unblock Some Websites While Abroad
While not as versatile as a subscription-based VPN, free VPNs still have some unblocking ability that can be useful to an expat. For instance, you can access your home banking or investment accounts, which in most cases block foreign traffic. Understandably so, since a lot of cyber attacks tend to be linked to international hacker networks.
Using a VPN also allows you to access small news sites from back home, who simply don't find it worth it to comply with GDPR regulations in the EU. Alternatively, you can set your virtual location outside the EU to get around all those annoying cookie consent pop-ups. Funny little side effect, but it can definitely save you some grey hairs while browsing.
Finally, free VPNs can unblock some content such as region-locked music videos, or age-restricted YouTube videos in the EU without having to give up your ID or credit card information to Google. You won't have much luck using free VPNs on content platforms like Netflix, though. Those of you looking to bypass geo-restrictions on streaming sites are better off using a sub-based VPN.
One of the main purposes of a VPN is to encrypt your network traffic.Wikipedia
Bypass Firewalls and Censorship
VPNs sure seem like a master thief's skeleton key, don't they? So many Internet barriers out there, all of them nullified with the help of a single tool. And yes, they can easily get around firewalls as well.
For the most part, you'll be using a VPN to unblock social media and other "distractions" at work or at school. Believe it or not, airport and hotel Wi-Fi can be pretty restrictive too. Thankfully, VPNs make short work of their firewall rules.
And while not as effective as a paid option, free VPNs can also help during Internet blackouts caused by government censorship. Look no further than the recent Hong Kong protests, the frequent social media shutdowns in Turkey, and similar cases worldwide. All of these have one thing in common: free VPN usage shot up immensely as people sought ways to contact their loved ones or post their outrage online.
Why the Negative View of Free VPNs?
You've seen all the great things you can accomplish with a free VPN. So why all the bad press about them? Well, here are some fairly valid concerns that apply to a decent chunk of free providers:
- They sell user data – after all, they need to pay for operational costs somehow. It just so happens that advertisers find your browsing habits highly valuable.
- Several free VPNs based in Hong Kong breached their "no-logs" policies and ended up leaking 1.2 TB of user data online. This isn't an uncommon occurrence, considering the data harvesting practices of most free VPNs.
- They can infect your device with malware that can extract sensitive info or otherwise cause damage. In one major case, user devices were hijacked into a botnet and used in a large scale denial-of-service attack.
Other criticisms are directed at their data caps, slow performance, the small number of overcrowded servers, and the bandwidth throttling. Add to that the fact that they don't unblock region-specific Netflix libraries or other streaming sites, and you can see why people aren't too thrilled about them.
Still, if you're not looking for anything fancy, a free VPN should tide you over until you can fit an actual subscription into your budget. Just stick to the trusty VPNs we've linked to in the beginning.
Disclaimer: (This article is sponsored and include some commercial links)
The Cupertino-based tech giant Apple has started rolling out iOS 12.5.5 to older models of the iPhone and iPad. "This update provides important security updates and is recommended for all users," Apple said in the release notes for iOS 12.5.5.
The update is available for the iPad Air, the iPad mini 2, and iPad mini 3, as well as the 6th gen iPod touch, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus. All of these devices were dropped from support with iOS 13. The iOS 12.5.5 update addresses issues related to maliciously crafted PDFs, web content, and apps.
ALSO READ: The September Event Of Apple Inc.
Apple had previously rolled out iOS 12.5.4 in June with security fixes for WebKit vulnerabilities and other issues. Apple has also started seeded the first betas of iOS 15.1 as well as iPadOS 15.1. After removing SharePlay in iOS 15 beta 2, Apple has re-enabled the feature in the iOS 15.1, iPadOS 15.1, and tvOS 15.1 betas. Apple decided to pull SharePlay from the iOS 15 launch because it was not properly functioning and was still riddled with issues.
It adds features to the Health app like support for storing health-related data for Covid-19 immunisations and test results. With the latest iOS 15.1 Beta, one can now add vaccination cards to the Apple Wallet application. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Apple, iPhone, iPad, iOS, update
The National Basketball Association (NBA) and Lakme Fashion Week, announced a collaboration to celebrate "NBA 75" the leagues landmark 75th Anniversary Season in 2021-22. As part of the collaboration, the NBA and Lakme Fashion Week will offer fashion designers from across India the opportunity to submit designs for an "NBA 75" collection. Select designs will be evaluated by a panel comprised of fashion designers, industry experts and local influencers, with the winning designer announced at the upcoming October edition of Lakme Fashion Week.
The winner will then be mentored by a leading fashion expert and will work alongside the NBA on a capsule collection to commemorate NBA 75. The NBA 75 range, which will include jerseys, t-shirts, headwear, sweatpants, hoodies, jackets and other apparel, will be unveiled at Lakme Fashion Week in March 2022.
"We are excited to collaborate with Lakme Fashion Week and offer Indian designers the chance to express their vision in celebration of NBA 75," said NBA Asia Executive Vice President & Managing Director Scott Levy. "The NBA and its players are synonymous with fashion and culture, and this friendly competition will showcase the talent and passion that Indian designers have for basketball and the NBA during our landmark 75th Anniversary Season." The collection will be available for purchase after the event on the NBAStore.in and at select retail destinations. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: NBA, Lakme, beauty, basketball, Lakme fashion week