- Farmers in India have protested for months over controversial farming laws that seek to remove the government’s popular minimum sales price on crops.
- In an effort to slow down the increasingly violent demonstrations and information surrounding them, the Indian government shut down the internet in New Delhi and neighboring regions.
- High profile stars and activists have condemned the move, including Rihanna, Greta Thunberg, and Mia Khalifa.
- However, the Indian government has accused celebrities of spreading “sensationalism” and suggested they are being paid to post their support for the protests.
Farmers Hope To Save Minimum Sale Price
For months, Indian farmers have been protesting a controversial set of laws that would fundamentally change their relationship with the government and how they sell crops.
At the center of the issue are three laws. One in particular deals with what’s known as the Minimum Sale Price (MSP). The MSP is a set, guaranteed price for crops established by the government, meaning farmers are not allowed to sell below that price. It allows for farmers to compete with not only each other but also with larger corporations who could otherwise drop the price so low and push smaller farmers from the market.
For many farmers, the MSP also allows them to comfortably plan future crop cycles, knowing that can budget a likely minimum income.
There are some drawbacks to the MSP. For instance, it means that crop prices can remain high for many Indians. Additionally, if there isn’t as much demand for a given crop, farmers can’t lower their prices in an effort to at least sell some of it.
Regardless, it remains popular, and the issue is so important that some of the protests over the last few months have been among the largest in human history. At one point, other unions around India partook in a general strike, leading to 250 million people protesting the law.
However, the most recent protests over the last week saw tens of thousands of farmers bringing their tractors to the capital, New Delhi, despite warnings from authorities not to do so. Police claim that the tractors are destructive to the city’s roads and that was reason enough to prohibit them, but activists think it was a way to try and curb involvement.
The protests turned violent last Tuesday, which is known as Republic Day, when protesters stormed the historic Red Fort before being beaten back by police with tear gas and batons. Similar scenes continue into the weekend. In an effort to slow down the protests, although the move has been criticized as an attempt to hide what is going on, Indian authorities decided to try and reduce the influence of the protests by locally turning off the internet until at least Tuesday.
It included not only New Delhi but the border regions of the nearby states as well.
Protests Draw International Support
The move prompted outrage not only in India, where the protests already had hundreds of millions of supporters but also among people across the world. Notably, many Western stars, including pop singer Rihanna, started to actively talk about the situation
“Why aren’t we talking about this?!” Rihanna tweeted out on Tuesday night with a link to an article about the internet blackout. That tweet was well received by many, with the likes of YouTuber turned late-night host Lilly Singh tweeting out, “Yes! Thank you so much Rihanna. This is a humanity issue! #IStandWithFarmers and this narrative is TIRED.”
Some figures were more involved in attacking how the Indian government was handling the situation. Internet star Mia Khalifa wrote, “What in the human rights violations is going on?! They cut the internet around New Delhi?! #FarmersProtest”
She also confronted the government’s narrative that many of the protesters were paid, writing, “Paid actors,” huh? Quite the casting director, I hope they’re not overlooked during awards season. I stand with the farmers. #FarmersProtest”
Others, like young climate change activist Greta Thunberg, simply wrote, “we stand in solidarity with the #FarmersProtest in India.” She also linked to resources for anyone who wants to be more involved.
Her message about solidarity has actually been echoed by not only activists but farmers around the world for months. Many of them feel their industries are completely necessary for society but are often unprofitable without government subsidies, such as those in India.
The Indian government, for its part, still doesn’t want to back down from the laws and accused the celebrities of spreading “sensationalism.”
Supporters of the government claim that celebrities using #FarmersProtest are being paid to post and have even suggested that the trending hashtag itself is being paid for.
See What Others Are Saying: (CNN) (NYT) (The Guardian)
Mukbangs and Ordering Too Much Food Banned in China
- China recently passed a law that bans ordering too much food and sharing content online that portrays overeating.
- Though food scarcity is not an issue in the country, the law is meant to combat food waste, with authorities pointing out that China tosses 35 million tons of food annually.
- The law doesn’t penalize consumers at restaurants. Instead, it fines restaurants $1550 for allowing diners to order “more than they need.”
- TV stations, media companies, or people who post overeating content, such as Mukbangs, can face a $16,000 fine.
The End of Mukbangs
Some of the most popular content across Chinese social media has effectively been banned under an anti-food waste law that authorities passed late last week.
The law bans diners from ordering more than they need, which could hurt an entire class of eating videos, including ones where people enter all-you-can-eat restaurants to consume thousands of dollars worth of food. While it could be argued that if the creators eat all that food, they’ve satisfied the “more than they need” clause, the law also bans binge eating and posting such content online, meaning no more mukbangs for Chinese fans.
Censors have already begun removing overeating content, and much of it went missing overnight from Douyin, TikTok’s Chinese sister app.
The law also affects far more than a fringe group of people making food content. It’s so vague and open to interpretation that it could disrupt everyday restaurant-goers.
President Xi Jinping called food waste a “distressing” problem that threatens China’s food security, despite the fact that China is not facing any imminent food shortages.
Nearly 35 million tons of food go to waste every year in China, though that’s a relatively small amount for its population size. The U.S., for comparison, manages to throw away 66 million tons of food yearly.
Still, the legislation does not come as a complete surprise since Xi launched a food-saving campaign back in August claiming that COVID-19 was threatening the food supply chain.
Across China, restaurants have already begun to comply with the new rules. Some have set up scales at their entrance to give recommended food portion sizes to customers based on their weight. Meanwhile, others have promised to offer smaller-sized plates as an option.
One standard that many are seeking to enact is the “N-1” rule, which states that the number of dishes should be one less than the number of guests. The rule could be an attempt to curb a cultural practice that sees hosts ordering far more food than could be eaten in an effort to show off wealth.
Under the law, much of the blame towards a consumer wasting food is placed on restaurants, as there’s no clear cut fine for diners violating the law. Any establishment found allowing customers or misleading customers into ordering excessive amounts of food facing a $1550 fine. Showing content related to binge-eating could result in TV stations, online media companies, or even content creators facing a $16,000 fine.
Tuesday seems to have been the first time regulators went after a particular business, warning a Nanjing bakery to stop throwing away pastries that the business didn’t believe would sell because of visual defects. It has promised to donate them instead.
See what others are saying: (SCMP) (The Guardian) (Vice)
Zimbabwe Considers Controversial Mass Elephant Killing
- Zimbabwe is considering culling its 100,000 elephant population over concerns of how they destroy other habitats and interact with farmland.
- The plan isn’t unheard of, as Zimbabwe has done similar culls in the past, while other countries have done their own more recently.
- However, the large-scale killing of elephants has faced pushback, with some suggesting the animals should instead be transported to areas with falling elephant populations.
- For the time being, the plan is still just a proposal, and the government of Zimbabwe has promised to make a decision based on “scientific advice.”
Killing Elephants Is What’s Best for Them?
For the first time since 1988, Zimbabwe is considering a mass killing of elephants.
In a local radio interview on Wednesday, Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Mangaliso Ndlovu said, “We are trying to see ways in which we can reduce the numbers. We have to discuss it at policy level as government. Options are on the table…”
“It’s an option but not a decision yet,” Ndlovu later added by text message to the station. “We will obviously rely on scientific advice.”
The country is home to about 100,000 elephants, the second largest population in the world after neighboring Botswana. The mass killings are better known as culls, and the concept isn’t completely unknown in areas with large animal populations. They can happen for a variety of reasons, such as removing sterile males from the mating population that prevent fertile ones from accessing mates.
In Zimbabwe, authorities are worried that the elephant population has outgrown the resources available, causing the animals to destroy habitats that other species need to survive by eating the bark off trees and killing them. Additionally, the large population increases the chances of violent human-elephant interactions as elephants encroach on farmlands.
Elephants are known for their great intelligence and advanced emotional states compared to other animals, and therefore authorities are concerned about how a cull could affect populations. Notably, elephants can experience Post-traumatic stress disorder. In an effort to minimize those effects, other countries that have initiated culls, such as Uganda, have targeted entire herds for eradication while leaving others completely untouched.
Any discussion of a cull causes alarm bells among animal conservationists, particularly as total elephant populations in Africa have been on the decline over the last decade. However, in both Botswana and Zimbabwe the populations have actually risen considerably. Despite this, the possible plan has received considerable pushback online.
Many people have pointed out that there are other viable solutions to control the population and protect both the animals, other habitats, and farmland. As journalist Yashar Ali pointed out, “The only reasonable solution for Zimbabwe and other countries with large elephant populations is to work on human-wildlife conflict mitigation measures, contraception for elephants, and translocation.”
In particular, translocation has been touted as a viable alternative to not only help reduce the elephant population in Zimbabwe but also bolster the falling populations in other countries. Now, some have wondered why there has been any pushback against a cull, pointing out that animals such as deer are regularly culled across the world.
But it’s not quite apples and oranges. Take the U.S., which often hosts deer culls. The country has over 30 million deer, compared to Zimbabwe’s 100,000 elephants. On top of that, deer can give birth to over 20 fawns in their roughly 10-year lifespan, compared to less than 10 for an elephant during its more than 60 years alive.
For the time being, the plan is still just a proposal. It remains to be seen if Zimbabwe’s government will take such a large-scale cull seriously.
Cash-in-Transit Truck Driver Praised After Foiling Robbery Attempt in South Africa
- Viral video captured the moment a rookie security guard and the driver of an armored cash-in-transit truck were ambushed in South Africa by robbers firing bullets at them last month.
- The footage shows the driver, 48-year-old Leo Prinsloo, keeping his cool as he sped off and maneuvered through traffic to get away from the two groups chasing them.
- When the truck eventually jerked to a halt, he grabbed a gun from his partner and exited the vehicle to confront the attackers, who had fled empty-handed.
- While Prinsloo has faced widespread praise, he has also been placed under protective guard because of death threats he’s received since foiling the heist.
The Viral Video
Millions of people all over the world have watched dash-cam footage of a rookie security guard and the driver of an armored cash-in-transit truck as they were ambushed in South Africa by robbers firing bullets at them.
The incident happened on April 22, though the footage, which looks like it was pulled straight from an action movie, has recently gone massively viral.
It shows the driver, 48-year-old Leo Prinsloo keeping his cool as he sped off and maneuvered through traffic to get away from the two groups chasing them. When the truck eventually jerked to a halt, he grabbed a gun from his partner and exited the vehicle to confront the attackers, who had fled empty-handed.
It turns out Prinsloo, who served with the South African Police Services special forces unit for 12 years, actually teaches the nation’s military special forces how to shoot. People who watched the insane footage are now calling him the real-life Jason Bourne, with many impressed by his incredible instincts.
“I cannot say much as an investigation is underway but I and my fellow guard did what was expected of us. They needed to take us out so they could take out the cargo vehicle,” Prinsloo said when speaking to the Daily Mail.
“But there was no way I was going to let that happen and unfortunately I did not have a chance to return fire,” he added.
Prinsloo Defends Partner
Prinsloo’s partner, Lloyd Mtombeni, has been facing a bit of criticism for what some perceived as a lack of action. However, it’s worth noting that Mtombeni told local reporters this was only his fourth day on the job and the first time he had ever experienced gunfire from inside the vehicle.
Because of the backlash against him, Prinsloo defending Mtombeni, saying, “I think those people should keep their opinions to themselves until they’re in the same situation and see if they can do better in the same circumstances.”
Others also spoke out in support of the guard online, commended him for staying composed and taking direction from Prinsloo. Still, it doesn’t appear like the threat is over.
According to News24, Prinsloo has been placed under protective guard because he’s been receiving death threats since foiling the heist. So far, no arrests have been made in this case but police are still investigating.