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Nestlé Pares Down Operations in Russia Amid Pressure for Companies to Cut Ties



The company said it will only produce essential food items in Russia, where the market composes just 2% of its global revenue.

Nestlé Scales Back in Russia 

Swiss food company Nestlé announced Wednesday that it will be further restricting operations in Russia amid widespread backlash over its refusal to pull out of the country as the invasion of Ukraine nears its second month.

Last week, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said he reached out to Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider in an effort to encourage him to remove the company from the Russian market, which only accounts for 2% of the food group’s global revenue.

“Talked to @Nestle CEO Mr. Mark Schneider about the side effect of staying in Russian market. Unfortunately, he shows no understanding,” Shmyhal tweeted following the meeting. “Paying taxes to the budget of a terrorist country means killing defenseless children&mothers. Hope that Nestle will change its mind soon.”

In a statement Wednesday, Nestlé said it will be “suspending renowned Nestlé brands such as KitKat and Nesquik, among others” in Russia.

Instead, Nestlé will only provide essential products like baby food and medical-grade products.

“We have already halted non-essential imports and exports into and out of Russia, stopped all advertising, and suspended all capital investment in the country,” the company continued, adding that it does not expect to make a profit in Russia, but if it does, it will donate the money to humanitarian relief organizations.

Nestlé’s claim that it is only staying in Russia due to a desire to provide essential supplies is one that has also been made by other companies like PepsiCo and Mondelez, the brand that makes Oreos and Ritz crackers.

Still, many have accused those big businesses of acting in their own interests and refusing to fully stop operating in Russia because they do not want to cut off the potential for future business.

Speaking to France’s Parliament Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — who also took aim at Nestlé over the weekend — furthered his demands for foreign companies to pull out of Russia, referring to French companies that remain in the country as “sponsors” of the invasion.

“They must stop financing the murders of children and women,” he added.

Updates On The Ground

Meanwhile, on the ground in Ukraine, battles continue to rage across the region.

On Wednesday, Russian forces launched more airstrikes on the capital Kyiv, sending a bombardment of rockets down on a residential area. According to reports, the attacks caused widespread damage but few casualties.

Russia has also persisted in its efforts to cut off essential humanitarian channels. A video posted by Ukrainian authorities Wednesday showed Russian forces had bombed a key bridge used to deliver aid in the city of Chernihiv, cutting it off from the highway connecting it to Kyiv.

In other areas, the Russian military has blocked convoys of refugees from fleeing stricken cities. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk told reporters Wednesday that in a village west of Mariupol, Russian soldiers seized 11 buses and their drivers, all of whom she said are now being held “hostage.”

Ukrainian forces, however, have been launching counterattacks around the southern cities of Kherson and Mykolaiv. In Mykolaiv, specifically, outlets have reported that Ukrainian forces delayed a potential Russian attack on the crucial port of Odesa, though many lives were lost.

Some military analysts even went as far as to say that some ground around Mykolaiv has been recaptured.

As western assessments continue to show Russia’s forces stalling in most of Ukraine, concerns over the possibility of a new front being opened along the border of Belarus have persisted. On Wednesday, the Ukrainian military warned that there are signs of Russian and Belarusian military equipment being moved across Belarus and building up along the border.

With the logjams, there are also worries that Russia will result to using unconventional deadly weapons. That fear was heightened Russia’s top spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, refused to say the country would not use nuclear weapons while speaking to CNN Tuesday night. He stated that the nukes would be used only if there was an “existential threat” to Russia.

As Russia continues to escalate its attacks and rhetoric, the U.S. and its allies have countered by ramping up their response, taking a number of actions Wednesday.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced that the alliance will be doubling its battlegroups deployed in Eastern Europe. Poland’s Interior Minister also wrote on Twitter that the country has “expelled 45 Russian spies pretending to be diplomats.” 

On the U.S. side, Secretary of State Antony Blinken formally declared that members of the Russian armed forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine, and President Joe Biden is set to announce more sanctions Wednesday evening when he lands in Brussels for a summit.

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


200 Children Seeking Asylum in the U.K. Are Missing 



The missing include at least 13 children under the age of 16. 

Children Missing From Hotels

There are 200 asylum-seeking children missing from government care in the United Kingdom according to the parliamentary undersecretary of state at the Home Office.

When children are seeking asylum in the U.K. alone or separated from their parents, the government puts them up in hotel rooms for temporary accommodation. They have done so since 2021 and have temporarily accommodated 4,600 children in that time. However, Simon Murray, the parliamentary undersecretary of state at the Home Office, said that 200 of the children placed in those hotels are missing, including at least 13 who are under the age of 16.

In response to this information, a collection of more than 100 charities sent a letter to the Prime Minister demanding the end of the procedure of placing kids in hotels over safety concerns. The letter says that these children are at risk of trafficking and exploitation by staying in these hotels alone.

Other officials have echoed these concerns, claiming these hotels are targets for organized crime where people use these vulnerable children for labor or trafficking.

Parliament Calls Incident “Horrific”

Murray told the House of Lords on Monday that despite the media reports, his department does not know of any kidnapping cases, though they are investigating. He went on to say there are many reasons why children go missing. 

However, lawmakers were not appeased by Murray’s assurances. In a later debate, one member of Parliament called the missing cases “horrific” and another said that it was “putting children at risk.”  The children’s commissioner for England also reportedly chimed in asking for, quote “assurances on the steps being taken to safeguard the children.” 

Murray went on to say that the use of hotels for asylum-seeking children will hopefully be phased out as soon as possible but did not give a timeline. 

The nonprofit Refugee Council called on the government in a tweet to spare no expense in the location of these missing kids.

See what others are saying: (Washington Post) (The Guardian) (The Telegraph)

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100,000 U.K. Nurses Launch Biggest Strike in NHS History



Opposition leader Keir Starmer called the strike “a badge of shame on this government.”

The NHS Grinds to a Halt

Some 100,000 members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the United Kingdom’s largest nursing union, launched a historic 12-hour strike Thursday after the government refused to negotiate on higher pay.

The work stoppage, which spans England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, is only the second in the RCN’s 106-year history and the largest the NHS has ever seen. It marks the breaking point for many underpaid nurses and the culmination of a years-long decline in the NHS’s quality of care, put under increasing stress by severe staffing shortages.

Although most NHS staff in England and Wales received a pay rise of around £1,400 this year, worth about 4% on average for nurses, they say it has not kept up with inflation as Britain plunges deeper into a cost-of-living crisis.

When inflation is accounted for, nurses’ pay dropped 1.2% every year from 2010 to 2017, according to the Health Foundation.

Meanwhile, the number of patients waiting for care has reached a record 7.2 million in England, or over one in eight residents, more than double what it was seven years ago.

In July, the cross-party Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee estimated the staffing shortfall could be as high as 50,000 nurses and 12,000 doctors, what one MP called the “greatest workforce crisis in history.”

Many nurses argue that boosting pay will help hospitals recruit more staff.

The RCN demanded a pay raise 5% above the retail rate of inflation, which amounts to a 19% increase, but both Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the government’s health secretary have claimed that’s not affordable.

During Thursday’s strike, partial staffing continued to remain open for urgent care such as chemotherapy, kidney dialysis, and children’s accident and neonatal units.

Sunak and Starmer Brawl in Parliament

Labor leader Keir Starmer grilled Sunak during Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on the upcoming strike.

“Tomorrow will be the first-ever nationwide nurse’s strike,” he said. “All the Prime Minister has to do to stop that is to open the door and discuss pay with them. If he did, the whole country would breathe a sigh of relief. Why won’t he?”

“We have consistently spoken to all the unions involved in all the pay disputes that there are,” Sunak replied. “Last year, when everyone else in the public sector had a public sector pay freeze, the nurses received a three-percent pay rise.”

Starmer fired back: “Nurses going on strike is a badge of shame for this government. Instead of showing leadership, he’s playing games with people’s health.”

Sunak called Starmer’s demand that he reopen negotiations with the RCN “just simply a political formula for avoiding taking a position on this issue.”

“If he thinks the strikes are wrong, he should say so,” Sunak said. “If he thinks it’s right that pay demands of nineteen percent are met, then he should say so. What’s weak, Mr. Speaker, is he’s not strong enough to stand up to the union.”

While Starmer has called on Sunak to negotiate with the RCN, he has not explicitly backed the 19% pay raise himself.

Unless the government returns to the bargaining table, the RCN plans to launch a second round of strikes on Dec. 20 to be followed by ambulance strikes that Wednesday and the next.

If the government still refuses to budge, the union said in a statement that nurses will strike for longer periods in more places starting in January, disrupting more health services.

Other industries are also set to see work stoppages this month, including workers on railways, buses, highways, and borders, as well as teachers, postal workers, baggage handlers, and paramedics.

See what others are saying: (BBC) (CNN) (The Guardian)

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Fortnite Developer Sued By Parents for Making the Game as “Addictive as Possible”



One child mentioned in the lawsuit played over 7,700 rounds of Fortnite in two years.

Epic Games Sued 

A Quebec City judge recently approved a 2019 class-action lawsuit accusing Fortnite developer Epic Games of deliberately making Fortnite addictive.

The parents who brought forward the lawsuit claim their children have become so obsessed with the game that in some cases, they’ve stopped eating, showering, or socializing. The lawsuit claims that these kids have played thousands of games since Fortnite’s release in 2017. In one example, a teenager played over 7,700 games in less than two years. 

If the lawsuit succeeds, players addicted to Fortnite living in Quebec since September 2017 could receive compensation. The plaintiff’s attorney, Philippe Caron, reports that over 200 parents outside the lawsuit have reached out to him, saying their child’s well-being has diminished since downloading Fortnite. He told The Washington Post that they are very confident about their case. 

Epic Games Responds

“We plan to fight this in court,” Natalie Munoz, a spokesperson for Epic Games said to The Post, “We believe the evidence will show that this case is meritless.” 

Munoz also said that Fortnite does allow parents to supervise their child’s playtime and require permission for purchases.

The parents involved in the lawsuit are claiming that they were not aware of the dangers playing Fortnite could pose for their children. 

“If she had been informed by the defendants of the risks and dangers associated with the use of FORTNITE,” the lawsuit says of one guardian. “She would have categorically refused to allow the game to be downloaded.” 

See what others are saying: (BBC) (The Washington Post) (Deadline

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