Connect with us


China Limits Kids to 3 Hours of Video Games Per Week While Cracking Down on Big Tech



The moves come after months of rulings and changes that seek to address work-life imbalances within Chinese society, alongside wealth and education inequities.

Less Gaming for Kids

Chinese authorities have enacted sweeping changes across most aspects of society over the past week in hopes of reducing student stress and improving people’s work-life balance, though some of the changes are likely to face backlash.

Among the least popular changes, at least for those they affect, are restrictions regarding the amount of time minors can spend playing video games. New rules enacted on Friday now state that minors are only allowed to play video games on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or on holidays for one hour per night between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. The government hopes to reduce the time children spend gaming so they can instead focus on other activities that are seen as more productive to a healthy lifestyle, such as sports and extracurriculars.

The changes are stricter than a past law, which limited playtime to 1.5 hours during the week and three hours on the weekends and holidays. However, minors were able to largely circumvent the rules. Gaming in China requires using an I.D., so children would simply use an adult’s I.D., such as their parents, to play as long as they’d like. That practice is likely to continue for some time, at least until tech companies can comply with new laws that force them to implement systems to verify who is playing the game. One such system in development by the gaming giant Tencent would have facial recognition technology to continuously monitor who is playing.

It’s unclear if the changes will actually encourage minors to engage in other activities, but it will clearly impact the country’s growing esports scenes, as most players start when they are minors.

Aside from gaming restrictions, other changes include moving forward with plans to ban exams for children between the ages of six and seven. In a statement Friday, the Ministry of Education said exams harm the “physical and mental health” of such young students. It has also limited the number of exams other students can take, writing, “First and second grades of elementary school will not need to take paper-based exams.”

“For other grades, the school can organize a final exam every semester. Mid-term exams are allowed for junior high.”

The Ministry added that students were not allowed to organize their own exams and said, “examinations disguised under various names like academic research is also not allowed.”

All of these changes follow a ban on homework for young children and a 1.5 hour nightly limit on homework for older kids. Additionally, the country moved last month to ban for-profit private tutoring, a major industry in China that was criticized for placing undue pressure on low-income families who felt they needed the services so their children could “compete” with wealthier students when it came to college entrance exams.

Overall, officials hope that education inequities, and the related wealth inequity, within Chinese society will diminish with what is viewed as a more “even” playing field.

996 Schedule Scrutiny

The changes to education have a direct effect on China’s tech industry, as many of the industry giants had established lucrative subsidiaries in the space. However, the government has sought to curb the power of these companies. Beyond limits to for-profit tutoring, agencies have also moved to ban other practices that they view are detrimental to the lives of everyday people.

Of particular concern is the industry’s use of 996, or the practice of forcing employees to work 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. six days a week. While Chinese law allows for some mandatory overtime, 996 practices blatantly break the law and push employees into experiencing extremely unhealthy work-life balances.

Following months of criticism by current and former officials, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the practice was illegal. It, alongside the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, issued a warning to employers about continuing the use of 996, leading many to assume the government is serious about cracking down on the practice.

According to an interview conducted by The South China Morning Post with Lou Jiwei, a former finance minister, tech companies saw the 996 schedule as a “gift” to employees, despite the fact that it clearly violated Chinese labor laws.

“If there is no proper regulation, everyone will adopt 996, which will reduce jobs and be harmful to society,” he continued.

Meanwhile, tech moguls like Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, have defended the schedule. In fact, Ma claimed in an essay that 996 was a “gift” that allowed Alibaba, Tencent, and other tech giants to grow into the behemoths they are today.

Read what others are saying: (BBC) (South China Morning Post) (The Guardian)


U.S. Intel Suggests Pro-Ukraine Group Sabotaged Nord Stream Pipeline



There is no evidence that the culprits behind the attack were acting under the direction of the Ukrainian government.

Europe Braces for Shocking Revelations

A pro-Ukraine group blew up the Nord Stream pipelines last September, intelligence reviewed by U.S. officials suggests.

The New York Times reported the news Tuesday, citing officials who said there was no evidence of involvement by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, any of his top lieutenants, or any government officials.

The strength of the evidence, however, is not clear, and U.S. officials declined to inform The Times on the nature of the intelligence or how it was obtained. They reportedly added that the intelligence indicates neither who the group’s members are nor who funded and directed the operation.

The Times’ sources said they believe the saboteurs were most likely Russian or Ukrainian nationals and that they possibly received specialized government training in the past.

It’s also possible that the group behind the attack was a proxy with covert ties to Kyiv, the report added.

When three of four Nord Stream pipelines were found to be severely damaged last year, the revelation shook markets and sent European gas prices soaring. Nord Stream 1, which was completed in 2011, and Nord Stream 2, which had been laid down but wasn’t yet operational, supplied Germany and by extension the rest of Western Europe with cheap Russian natural gas.

Following the explosions, Poland and Ukraine blamed Russia, and Russia blamed Britain. Other observers speculated that Ukraine might be behind it too.

More Ongoing Investigations

Last month, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh claimed in a Substack article that the United States military carried out the attack and that President Biden authorized it himself. However, Hersh’s report cited only one anonymous source in support of its central claim, so it was largely dismissed as not credible.

Western governments expressed caution on Wednesday in response to The Times report.

“There are ongoing national investigations and I think it’s right to wait until those are finalized before we say anything more about who was behind it,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement.

Russia, by contrast, pounced on the opportunity to renew its demand for inclusion in a proposed international probe into the pipeline explosion.

The Ukrainian government denied any involvement in the Nord Stream explosions.

On Wednesday, multiple German media outlets reported that investigators have largely reconstructed how the attack happened, pinning the blame on six people who allegedly used a yacht hired by a Ukrainian-owned company in Poland.

German officials reportedly searched a vessel suspected of carrying the explosives in January, but the investigation is ongoing.

The country’s defense minister suggested the explosions may have been a “false flag” attack to smear Ukraine.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Associated Press) (Reuters)

Continue Reading


Turkey, Syria Earthquake Death Toll Rises to 41,000 as Survivors Pulled from Rubble



A pair of brothers spent around 200 hours trapped under debris, living off of protein powder and their own urine.

A Humanitarian Crisis Explodes

The number of confirmed dead from the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria last week has surpassed 41,000.

Millions more people have been left stranded without adequate shelter, food, clean water, or medical supplies.

At night, the region has dropped to below-freezing temperatures.

Now health authorities are worried that the lack of sanitation infrastructure, which was damaged by the quakes, will lead to a disease outbreak.

“We haven’t been able to rinse off since the earthquake,” 21-year-old Mohammad Emin, whose home was destroyed, told Reuters.

He was helping out at a clinic serving displaced people in an open-air stadium, but with no showers and only six toilets, the resource shortage was poignant.

“They are offering tetanus shots to residents who request them, and distributing hygiene kits with shampoo, deodorant, pads and wipes,” added Akin Hacioglu, a doctor at the clinic.

The World Health Organization monitors the population for waterborne diseases like cholera and typhoid, as well as seasonal influenza and COVID-19.

Rescuers Race Against the Clock

After more than a week of searching, hopes that more living victims will be found amid the collapsed buildings are fading, but rescuers continue to pull out the final few survivors.

Abdulbaki Yeninar, 21, and his brother Muhammed Enes Yeninar, 17, spent about 200 hours under rubble in the city of Kahramanmaras before they were extracted Tuesday. They told reporters they held on by eating protein powder, drinking their own urine, and swallowing gulps of air.

In the same city, teams dug a 16-foot tunnel through debris to rescue a woman, and to the south, a volunteer mining crew joined the efforts to save another.

With no homes to go back to, some survivors have joined the ranks of volunteers themselves.

In the past week, more than 35,000 Turkish search-and-rescue teams worked alongside thousands of international workers in the effort, according to Turkey’s emergency management agency.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called the earthquakes the “disaster of the century” and said in a statement that at least 13,000 people were being treated in hospitals.

The death toll is expected to rise even further in the coming weeks.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Reuters) (Al Jazeera)

Continue Reading


Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon Resigns



“In my head and in my heart I know that time is now,” she said to reporters

Sturgeon Steps Down

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced her resignation on Wednesday. 

Sturgeon has been Scotland’s longest-serving First Minister and she is also the first woman to ever hold the position. She has been in politics since 1999, leading the charge for Scotland’s independence from the United Kingdom. Sturgeon also guided the country through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sturgeon made sure to mention that her decision was not in response to the latest round of political pressure she is facing after her recent controversies regarding gender reform. Rather, her reasons are rooted in her own personal struggle with whether she can continue to do the job well. 

 “To be clear, I am not expecting violins here. But I am a human being as well as a politician,” she said during a press conference on Wednesday. “My point is this – giving absolutely everything of yourself to this job is the only way to do it. The country deserves nothing less. But, in truth, that can only be done by anyone for so long.

For me, it is now in danger of becoming too long,” Sturgeon continued. “A First Minister is never off-duty. Particularly in this day and age, there is virtually no privacy. Even ordinary stuff that most people take for granted like going for a coffee with friends or going for a walk on your own becomes  very difficult.”

Sturgeon’s Political Future

Sturgeon’s approval ratings are reportedly the lowest they’ve been since she’s been in office. Regardless, many political figures in Scotland, as well as the U.K., have applauded her and her historic service as First Minister. 

There are still several unknowns moving forward. There is still no confirmation on who will take over the position. However, Sturgeon did say that she will serve until someone else is elected. 

The push for Scotland’s independence is hanging in limbo as well, and no one knows what it’ll look like without Sturgeon’s leadership. She did mention, however, that she does not intend to leave politics fully and will still fight for the cause as a lawmaker in Parliament. 

Sturgeon said the support for Scottish independence needs to be solidified and grow.

“To achieve that we need to reach across the divide in Scottish politics,” she said. “And my judgment now is that this needs a new leader.”

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

Continue Reading