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Denmark To Limit ‘Non-Western’ Residents in So-Called ‘Ghettos’

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  • Denmark introduced plans Wednesday that would limit the population of foreign-born residents in 15 impoverished neighborhoods to 30% as part of an amendment to current legislation meant to improve these areas.
  • These neighborhoods are currently classified as “ghettos,” a label the amendment also plans to remove after public backlash.
  • Under the center-left Social Democratic government’s proposal, large amounts of public housing will be converted to private residences in the hopes of attracting middle-class families.
  • However, critics note that thousands of immigrants and their descendants will be evicted under the plan, while those that remain face harsher punishments if they commit crimes in these areas thanks to existing legislation.

Impoverished Neighborhoods Targeted

Denmark is facing international pushback after proposing legislation that would limit “non-Western” residents to just 30% of certain poor neighborhoods, called “ghettos.”

Although this same proposal would scrap that term, the category would still exist. The category was introduced in 2010 and according to Danish law, it constitutes any neighborhood with over 1,000 residents that also meets two of the following four criteria:

  • More than 40% of residents are unemployed.
  • More than 60% of 39-50 year-olds do not have an upper secondary education. 
  • Crime rates are three times higher than the national average.
  • Residents have a gross income 55% lower than the regional average.

Currently, Denmark has 15 neighborhoods classified as “ghettos,” and over 20-more that are at risk of falling into the category.

These neighborhoods exist for a variety of reasons, but many trace their origins back to the ’60s when the government built public housing for blue-collar workers. Since then, the housing hasn’t been well maintained. Many blue-collar workers have also left or bought private properties, leaving the housing largely for impoverished families who are often immigrants. Nearly all the public housing was built in concentrated neighborhoods, leading to a cycle of poverty where poor people were put in these neighborhoods and then sent to underfunded and overcrowded schools, which further entrenched the poverty.

To combat this, multiple governments across the political spectrum crafted a plan that finally began on Jan. 1, 2020, in an attempt to improve these neighborhoods. The plan includes limiting public housing to just 40% of these neighborhoods by 2030 and converting the rest to privately-owned residences. Thousands will be evicted, although they will be sent to different areas and put in other public housing options that are spread through neighborhoods of every socioeconomic status.

However, the plan also includes other measures that have sparked outrage, such as misdemeanors carrying double penalties when done in these neighborhoods. Additionally, there is collective punishment — via evictions — for the families of anyone caught committing a crime in a household.

What Does “Non-Western” Even Mean?

Still, Wednesday’s proposal is among the most controversial. The center-left Social Democratic government’s plan to limit “non-Western” immigrant residents to 30% of any poor-classified neighborhood has been seen as crossing an ethical line, particularly because people who are first and second-generation children of immigrants count for the 30% quota.

According to Danish government statistics, about 510,000 immigrants and their descendants would be impacted by the policy.

Many online were confused about what “non-Western” even means, considering the idea of a Western nation is nebulous and has roots in the 20th Century’s Cold War. For the Danish government, a Western person is anyone who is from one of the 28 EU countries or Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, Vatican State, Canada, the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand.

Interior Minister Kaare Dybvad Bek said in a statement on Wednesday that too many non-Western foreigners in one area “increases the risk of an emergence of religious and cultural parallel societies.”

See what others are saying: (NZ Herald) (TRT World) (The Guardian)

International

U.K. Court Rules Julian Assange Can Be Extradited to U.S.

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The judgment overrules a lower court decision that blocked the WikiLeaks founder’s extradition on the grounds that his mental health was not stable enough to weather harsh conditions in the American prison system if convicted.


New Developments in Assange Extradition Battle

A British court ruled Friday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to the United States to face charges of violating the Espionage Act that could land him in prison for decades.

Prosecutors in the U.S. have accused Assange of conspiring with former army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in 2010 to hack into a Department of Defense computer network and access thousands of military and diplomatic records on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The information obtained in the hack was later published by WikiLeaks in 2010 and 2011, a move U.S. authorities allege put lives in danger.

In addition to a charge of computer misuse, Assange has also been indicted on 17 espionage charges. Collectively, the charges carry a maximum prison sentence of 175 years.

The Friday decision from the High Court overturns a lower court ruling in January, which found that Assange’s mental health was too fragile for the harsh environment he could face in the U.S. prison system if convicted.

Notably, the January ruling did not determine whether or not Assange was guilty. In fact, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser explicitly rejected the defense’s arguments that the charges against him were politically motivated and that he should be protected under freedom of press.

However, she agreed that the defense had provided compelling evidence that Assange suffers from severe depression and that the conditions he could face in the U.S. prison system were “such that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America.”

The U.S. appealed the ruling, arguing that Assange’s mental health should not be a barrier to extradition and that the psychiatrist who examined him had been biased. 

In October, the Biden administration vowed that if Assange were to be convicted, he would not be placed in the highest-security U.S. prison or immediately sent to solitary confinement. Officials also said that the native Australian would be eligible to serve his sentence in his home country.

High Court Ruling

The High Court agreed with the administration’s arguments in its ruling, arguing that the American’s assurances regarding the conditions of Assange’s potential incarceration were “sufficient.” 

“There is no reason why this court should not accept the assurances as meaning what they say,” the ruling stated. “There is no basis for assuming that the USA has not given the assurances in good faith.”

Assange’s fiancé, Stella Moris, said in a statement that his legal team would appeal the decision to the British Supreme Court at the “earliest possible moment,” referring to the judgment as a “grave miscarriage of justice.”

The Supreme Court will now decide whether or not to hear the case based on if it believes the matter involves a point of law “of general public importance.” That decision may take weeks or even months.

If the U.K. Supreme Court court objects to hearing Assange’s appeal, he could ask the European Court of Human Rights to stay the extradition — a move that could set in motion another lengthy legal battle in the already drawn-out process.

Assange and his supporters claim he was acting as an investigative journalist when he published the classified military cables. They argue that the possibility of his extradition and prosecution represent serious threats to press freedoms in the U.S.

U.S. prosecutors dispute that Assange acted as a journalist, claiming that he encouraged illegal hacking for personal reasons.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (The Washington Post)

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Early Data Indicates Omicron is More Transmissible But Less Severe

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The studies come as Pfizer and BioNTech claim that preliminary research shows a third shot of their COVID vaccine appears to provide sufficient protection against the new variant, but two doses alone may not.


More Information About Omicron

Several preliminary studies published in recent days appear to show that the new omicron COVID-19 variant may be more transmissible but less severe than previous strains.

One recent, un-peer-reviewed study by a Japanese scientist who advises the country’s health ministry found that omicron is four times more transmissible in its initial stage than delta was.

Preliminary information in countries hit hard by omicron also indicates high transmissibility. In South Africa —  where the variant was first detected and is already the dominant strain — new COVID cases have more than doubled over the last week.

Health officials in the U.K. said omicron cases are doubling every two or three days, and they expect the strain to become dominant in the country in a matter of weeks.

In a statement Wednesday, World Health Organization Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that while early data does seem to show high transmissibility, it also indicates that omicron causes more mild cases than delta.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevent Director Rochelle Walensky echoed that sentiment, telling reporters that of the 40 known omicron cases in the U.S. as of Wednesday, nearly all of them were mild. One person has been hospitalized so far and none have died.

Studies on Vaccine Efficacy 

Other recent studies have shown that current COVID vaccines are effective at preventing severe illness and death in omicron patients, and boosters provide at least some added protection.

On Wednesday, Pfizer and BioNTech announced that laboratory tests have shown a third dose of their COVID-19 vaccine appears to provide sufficient protection against the omicron variant, though two doses may not.

According to the companies, researchers saw a 25-fold reduction in neutralizing antibodies for omicron compared to other strains of the virus for people who had just two Pfizer doses. 

By contrast, samples from people one month after they had received a Pfizer booster presented neutralizing antibodies against omicron that were comparable to those seen against previous variants after two doses.

Still, Pfizer’s chief executive also told reporters later in the day that omicron could increase the likelihood that people might need a fourth dose earlier than previously expected, which he had initially said was 12 months after the third shot.

Notably, the Pfizer research has not yet been peer-reviewed, and it remains unclear how omicron will operate outside a lab, but other studies have had similar findings.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Bloomberg) (NBC News)

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40 Camels Disqualified From Beauty Contest After Breeders Inject Their Faces With Botox

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The animals were barred from competing for $66 million in prizes at this year’s King Abdulaziz Camel Festival in Saudi Arabia.


Camels Booted From Beauty Contest

More than 40 camels were disqualified from a beauty contest in Saudi Arabia this week after judges found artificial enhancements in their faces, marking the biggest crackdown on contestants in the competition to date.

The animals were competing for $66 million in prizes at the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, a month-long event that is estimated to include around 33,000 camels.

However, according to The Guardian, they were forced out of the contest when authorities found that breeders had “stretched out the lips and noses of the camels, used hormones to boost the animals’ muscles, injected heads and lips with Botox to make them bigger, inflated body parts with rubber bands, and used fillers to relax their faces.”

Those types of alterations are banned since judges look at the contestant’s heads, necks, humps, posture, and other features when evaluating them.

An announcement from the state-linked Saudi Press Agency said officials used “specialized and advanced” technology to detect tampering.

“The club is keen to halt all acts of tampering and deception in the beautification of camels,” the SPA report added before warning that organizers would “impose strict penalties on manipulators.”

While it’s unclear what that actually entails, this isn’t the first time people have tried to cheat in this way.

In 2018, 12 camels were similarly disqualified from the competition for injections in their noses, lips, and jaw.

See what others are saying: (Insider) (The Guardian) (ABC News)

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