29 million girls, women victims of modern slavery, says report

Agencies
October 11, 2020

New Delhi, Oct 11: A new report estimates that 29 million women and girls are victims of modern slavery, exploited by practices including forced labour, forced marriage, debt-bondage and domestic servitude.

Grace Forrest, co-founder of the Walk Free anti-slavery organisation, said on Friday that means one in every 130 women and girls is living in modern slavery today, more than the population of Australia.

The reality is that there are more people living in slavery today than any other time in human history, she told a UN news conference.

Walk Free defines modern slavery as the systematic removal of a person's freedom, where one person is exploited by another for personal or financial gain, she said.

Forrest said the global estimate of one in 130 women and girls living in modern slavery was made based on work by Walk Free, the International Labour Organisation and the International Organisation for Migration, both UN agencies.

What this report has shown is that gender stacks the odds against girls from conception throughout their lives," she said.

According to the report, titled Stacked Odds, women account for 99 per cent of all victims of forced sexual exploitation, 84 per cent of all victims of forced marriage, and 58 per cent of all victims of forced labour.

Forrest said the face of modern slavery has radically changed. We're seeing normalised exploitation in our economy in transnational supply chains and also in migration pathways, she said.

The world's most vulnerable people have been pushed even further into this practice of modern slavery because of COVID-19.

She said the estimate of women and girls in modern slavery is conservative because it doesn't account for what's happened during the pandemic, which has seen sharp increases of forced and child marriage and exploited work conditions around the world."

Forrest said Walk Free and the UN's Every Woman Every Child program are launching a global campaign to demand action to eliminate modern slavery.

The campaign urges an end to child and forced marriage, which 136 countries have yet to criminalise.

It urges the elimination of legalised systems of exploitation such as kefala, which legally binds a migrant worker's immigration status to an employer or sponsor for their contract period.

The campaign also urges transparency and accountability for multinationals.

We know that women and girls are experiencing unprecedented levels of exploitation and forced labour in supply chains of the goods we buy and use every day clothing, coffee, techncology," Forest said

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Agencies
October 21,2020

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Bikaner, Oct 21: Researchers have found the evidence of a "lost" river that ran through the central Thar Desert, near Bikaner, as early as 172 thousand years ago, and may have been a life-line to human populations enabling them to inhabit the region.

The findings, published in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews, represent the oldest directly dated phase of river activity at Nal Quarry in the central Thar Desert.

The study by researchers from The Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany, Anna University in Tamil Nadu, and IISER Kolkata indicates that Stone Age populations lived in a distinctly different Thar Desert landscape than we encounter today.

This evidence indicates a river flowed with phases of activity dating to approximately up to 172 thousand years ago, nearby to Bikaner, Rajasthan, which is over 200 kilometres away from the nearest modern river.

These findings predate evidence for activity in modern river courses across the Thar Desert as well as dried up course of the Ghaggar-Hakra River, the researchers said.

The presence of a river running through the central Thar Desert would have offered a life-line to Paleolithic populations, and potentially an important corridor for migrations, they said.

The researchers noted that the potential importance of 'lost' rivers for earlier inhabitants of the Thar Desert have been overlooked.

"The Thar Desert has a rich prehistory, and we've been uncovering a wide range of evidence showing how Stone Age populations not only survived but thrived in these semi-arid landscapes," said Jimbob Blinkhorn from The Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

"We know how important rivers can be to living in this region, but we have little detail on what river systems were like during key periods of prehistory," Blinkhorn said.

Studies of satellite imagery have shown a dense network of river channels crossing the Thar Desert, according to the researchers.

"These studies can indicate where rivers and streams have flowed in the past, but they can't tell us when," explained Professor Hema Achyuthan of Anna University.

"To demonstrate how old such channels are, we had to find evidence on the ground for river activity in the middle of the desert," Achyuthan said.

The team studied a deep deposit of river sands and gravels, which had been exposed by quarrying activity near the village of Nal.

The researchers were able to document different phases of river activity by studying the different deposits.

"We immediately saw evidence for a substantial and very active river system from the bottom of the fluvial deposits, which gradually decreased in power through time," Achyuthan said.

The researchers used a method called luminescence dating to understand when quartz grains in the river sands were buried.

The results indicated that the strongest river activity at Nal occurred at approximately 172 and 140 thousand years ago, at a time when the monsoon was much weaker than today in the region.

River activity continued at the site between 95 to 78 thousand years ago, after which only limited evidence for the presence of a river at the site, with evidence for a brief reactivation of the channel 26 thousand years ago, the study found.

The river was flowing at its strongest during a phase of weak monsoonal activity in the region, and may have been a life-line to human populations enabling them to inhabit the Thar Desert, the researchers said.

The timeframe over which this river was active also overlaps with significant changes in human behaviour in the region, which have been linked with the earliest expansions of Homo sapiens from Africa into India, they said.

"This river flowed at a critical timeframe for understanding human evolution in the Thar Desert, across South Asia and beyond," said Blinkhorn.

"This suggests a landscape in which the earliest members of our own species, Homo sapiens, first encountered the monsoons and crossed the Thar Desert may have been very different to the landscape we can see today," he added.

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Agencies
October 22,2020

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Thane, Oct 22: At least 25 people were injured when lightning struck a residential area at a village in Maharashtra's Thane district, an official said on Thursday.

During heavy rains in Thane on Wednesday evening, lightning stuck Palaspada hamlet in Umbarmali village under Sahapur taluka around 7 pm, regional disaster management cell chief Santosh Kadam said.

A house in the locality was completely destroyed while some adjoining houses also suffered damages, he said.

"At least 25 people, including women and children, were injured due to the lightning strike and were rushed to the Sahapur rural hospital," Kadam said.

Their condition was reported to be stable, Thane's resident deputy collector Dr Shivaji Patil said.

Sahapur MLA Daulat Daroda visited the injured people in the hospital late Wednesday night.

Heavy rains along with thunder and lightning were experienced in Thane and neighbouring areas on Wednesday evening.

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Agencies
October 15,2020

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Washington, Oct 15: Twitter locked the personal account of White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany after she shared a news report regarding alleged corruption by the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, President Donald Trump has said.

Trump and his campaign alleged that this was because of a story from the New York Post which made allegations against Biden's son Hunter Biden that he leveraged access to his father in exchange for payments through his position on the board of a Ukraine company.

Twitter has locked the personal account of White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany for sharing news Democrats don't like, the Trump campaign tweeted.

Addressing an election rally in the battleground state of Iowa, Trump said, They closed down her account. She's the White House press secretary. Because she's reporting the truth, they closed down her account. So let's see what's going to happen.

We've just learned through explosive documents published by a very fine newspaper, the New York Post that Joe Biden has been blatantly lying about his involvement in his son's corrupt business dealings, Trump told his supporters in Iowa.

And this is a big, smoking gun. The newly uncovered e-mails revealed that a top executive from the highly questionable Ukrainian company it's an energy company, which paid Hunter at least USD 50,000 a month but it's now looking like it could be USD 183,000 a month that's a lot of money, he alleged.

Despite the fact that he had absolutely no experience and knew nothing about energy, he wrote to Hunter, arranging for a meeting to meet with Vice President Joe Biden, he claimed.

The same Ukrainian energy executive even sent Hunter an email saying 'we urgently need your advice on how you could use your influence'. In other words, Hunter was being paid for access to his vice president father who was specifically put in charge of Ukraine and Russia, he alleged.

On her official White House account, McEnany tweeted censorship should be condemned and that it was not the American way .

Attacking the former vice-president, Trump said that the e-mails published by The New York Post shows that Biden's repeated claim that he has never spoken to Hunter about his business dealings were a "lie".

Was a total lie. He lied to you over and over cause he's trying to cover up a massive pay-for-play scandal at the heart of his vice presidency. And everybody knows it. Everybody in Washington knows it, he said.

We've known it for a long time. the fact is, there was never an administration more corrupt than the Obama-Biden administration. There was never. Never. Just weeks ago, Joe stood before the American people in a presidential debate and told you that these claims had been totally discredited and that his son did nothing wrong. But now that turns out to be a total lie. Now we can see clearly that Biden is a corrupt politician who shouldn't even be allowed to run for the presidency, he said.

Trump alleged that he was pressing Biden to tell the truth because "the corrupt mainstream media refused to write the story".

There wasn't one time in almost four years during my presidency, during the greatest political scandal in US history a witch hunt, a horrible, horrible, disgusting witch hunt that should never, ever happen to another presidency again and people should pay for the crimes they committed, he said.

Trump earlier threatened to remove protections for tech platforms after Twitter and Facebook censored The New York Post's reporting of e-mails from Hunter Biden.

Twitter announced earlier that it was taking action to block any URLs, links, images or material by removing tweets that violated its Hacked Materials Policy .

In a tweet later in the evening, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said that the move to block The New York Post article on alleged e-mails on Hunter Biden's laptop was "unacceptable".

Our communication around our actions on the @nypost article was not great. And blocking URL sharing via tweet or DM with zero context as to why we're blocking: unacceptable, he said in a tweet.

Twitter in a series of tweets gave its explanation. We want to provide much needed clarity around the actions we've taken with respect to two NY Post articles that were first Tweeted this morning, it said.

The images contained in the articles include personal and private information - like email addresses and phone numbers - which violate our rules, Twitter said, adding that it is also currently viewing materials included in the articles as violations of its Hacked Materials Policy.

We know we have more work to do to provide clarity in our product when we enforce our rules in this manner. We should provide additional clarity and context when preventing the tweeting or DMing of URLs that violate our policies, Twitter said.

The policy, established in 2018, prohibits the use of our service to distribute content obtained without authorisation. We don't want to incentivise hacking by allowing Twitter to be used as distribution for possibly illegally obtained materials, it said.

Noah Mansker, a business reporter with the New York Post said that the daily's Twitter account has also been locked because the Hunter Biden stories violate its rules against "distribution of hacked material."

Meanwhile, Trump's son, Donald J Trump Jr, released a video, attacking the Biden family, calling it the "most corrupt political family" in the American history.

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