Day: January 18, 2020

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1,700 infected?


HUNDREDS of people have been infected by a mystery virus sweeping China and Japan, scientists warned today.

The SARS-like virus that causes lung lesions has already killed two people and is spreading across Asia.

 Medical staff members carry a patient into the Jinyintan hospital, where patients infected by a mysterious SARS-like virus are being treated

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Medical staff members carry a patient into the Jinyintan hospital, where patients infected by a mysterious SARS-like virus are being treatedCredit: AFP or licensors
 The true scale of the outbreak of a mysterious SARS-like virus in China is likely far bigger than officially reported, scientists have warned

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The true scale of the outbreak of a mysterious SARS-like virus in China is likely far bigger than officially reported, scientists have warnedCredit: AFP or licensors

Although there have been 45 confirmed cases, scientists fear up to 1,700 have been infected.

Of the confirmed cases, two people are known to have died due to pneumonia caused by a new coronavirus, which appeared in Wuhan city in December.

Five others have been reported to be in critical condition and 22 are in a stable condition, said the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission.

But a report published by the London Imperial College’s MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis claimed there are likely “substantially more cases” of the new coronavirus than have been formally reported.

A summary of the report estimates that there would be 1,723 cases showing onset of related symptoms by January 12.

UK disease outbreak scientist working with the team at Imperial College, Professor Neil Ferguson told the BBC: “I am substantially more concerned than I was a week ago.”

Earlier this month, Chinese researchers said a mysterious illness that had spread in Wuhan was caused by a new type of coronavirus, which at their weakest can cause mild cold-like symptoms, but at their most dangerous can lead to SARS.

THE MYSTERY VIRUS

Coronavirus is an airborne virus, spread in a similar way to colds and the flu.

The virus attacks the respiratory system, causing lung lesions.

Symptoms include a runny nose, headache, cough and fever, shortness of breath, chills and body aches.

It is incredibly contagious and is spread through contact with anything the virus is on as well as infected breath, coughs or sneezes.

In 2003 an outbreak of a similar virus, SARS, infected more than 8,000 people in 37 countries before it was brought under control, killing 800 of those worldwide.

The virus may have already spread to Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan.

Prof. Ferguson explained that that while it was “too early to be an alarmist,” people should be “considering the possibility of substantial human-to-human transmission more seriously than they have so far,” saying it was “unlikely” that animal exposure was the main source of infection.

The original outbreak of the virus is believed to trace back to a seafood market in Wuhan.

However authorities say some patients they have identified deny having any exposure to this market, which has been completely shut down since January 1.

 The coronavirus has been linked back to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, which has been shut since January 1

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The coronavirus has been linked back to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, which has been shut since January 1Credit: Getty Images – Getty
 Authorities report that some patients deny having any exposure to the seafood market in Wuhan

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Authorities report that some patients deny having any exposure to the seafood market in WuhanCredit: Getty Images – Getty

With a population of 19 million people, Wuhan is one of China’s biggest cities and is also home to a major airport, through which an estimated 3,400 travel internationally every day.

Thailand reported two cases of the coronavirus from Chinese travellers from Wuhan this week, while Japan confirmed one case involving a Japanese national who travelled to Wuhan.

Prof. Ferguson told the BBC: “That caused me to worry.”

“For Wuhan to have exported three cases to other countries would imply there would have to be many more cases than have been reported.”

The emergence of the virus is raising concerns as hundreds of millions of people get ready to travel during the Chinese New Year holiday later this month.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised against a travel ban, saying there was no indication the disease is easily transmittable among people.

 Health screenings appear in Japan airports following the outbreak of China's mystery virus

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Health screenings appear in Japan airports following the outbreak of China’s mystery virusCredit: Getty Images – Getty
 Thailand reported two cases of the coronavirus from Chinese travellers from Wuhan this week

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Thailand reported two cases of the coronavirus from Chinese travellers from Wuhan this weekCredit: AP:Associated Press

However this hasn’t deterred authorities in Hong Kong stepping up detection measures, which include rigorous temperature checkpoints for inbound travellers from the Chinese mainland.

The US also said from Friday it would begin screening flights arriving from Wuhan at San Francisco airport and New York’s JFK – which both receive direct flights – as well as Los Angeles, where many flights connect.

Memories remain fresh in Asia of a 2002/03 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which emerged in China and infected more than 8,000 people in 37 countries before it was brought under control.

Nearly 800 people died worldwide, while China was accused of covering up the case.

So far, health officials do not consider the new virus from China to be as lethal as SARS, but the investigation is evolving and much is still not known about how easily the virus can spread from person to person.

 China is on high alert as crowds gather to celebrate Chinese New Year, file image

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China is on high alert as crowds gather to celebrate Chinese New Year, file imageCredit: AP:Associated Press


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Upstarts Say Tech Giants Abuse Market Power to Stifle Competition…


WASHINGTON—Four midsize technology companies told Congress that industry giants use their market power to beat back their businesses, an unusual public airing of criticism that suggests antitrust probes of the companies are gaining steam.

Executives from wireless speaker maker

Sonos Inc.,

mobile-phone accessory maker PopSockets LLC, business-software firm Basecamp LLC and tracking-device maker Tile Inc. told the antitrust subcommittee of the House Judiciary that

Amazon.

com Inc.,

Alphabet

Inc’s Google, and

Apple Inc.

had abused their ubiquity and outsize market share to stifle competition.

“It is apparent that the dominant platforms are increasingly using their gatekeeper power in abusive and coercive ways,” said Rep. David Cicilline (D., R.I.), the subcommittee’s chairman, at the hearing at the University of Colorado Law School.

He applauded the witnesses “for their courage to share their testimony in the face of potential retaliation by the dominant platforms.” He added that lawmakers had spoken with other companies that weren’t willing to testify publicly.

Four tech giants—Apple, Amazon, Google, and

Facebook

—have turned over documents to the House committee as part of its inquiry into whether antitrust laws need to be changed in the digital age.

In addition to the House inquiry, federal and state authorities with authority to sanction firms for anticompetitive behavior are investigating online platforms, with probes against Google and Facebook Inc. among the most advanced.

At Friday’s hearing, each witness told the story of their startup’s rise—and their struggle to maintain it in an online marketplace dominated by a handful of giants.

“At some point, all companies will be competing with Big Tech simply because Big Tech is expanding to the point” where a few firms will control “absolutely everything”, said

David Hansson,

co-founder of BaseCamp.

In an echo of Princess Leia’s appeal to Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original “Star Wars” film, he said, “Help us, Congress. You are our only hope.”

Patrick Spence, chief executive of Sonos, said his firm competed with Google and Amazon, which also sell internet-connected speakers. He accused them of selling their speakers below cost, potentially crowding out competition. “In the long-term, prices are sure to go up,” he said.

Mr. Spence also said Sonos invented technology to enable both Google’s and Amazon’s voice assistants to work on its speakers simultaneously. Amazon didn’t object, but Google refused to allow Sonos to use its voice assistant in that context, he said.

Sonos has a separate lawsuit accusing Google of stealing intellectual property, which Google is disputing.

“Sonos has made misleading statements about our history of working together,” a Google spokeswoman said. “We deny their claims vigorously, and will be defending against them.”

David Barnett, founder of PopSockets, said before his company stopped selling directly on Amazon, it was one of many sellers that relied on Amazon to reach many customers and faced coercion to follow Amazon’s desires on pricing and other policies.

“While bullying is not technically illegal,” he said, “one has to ask how is it that such a successful business maintains partnerships with so many companies while bullying them.”

An Amazon spokesman said: “We sought to continue working with Popsockets as a vendor to ensure that we could provide competitive prices, availability, broad selection and fast delivery for those products to our customers.”

Tile General Counsel Kirsten Daru said Apple “exploited its market power to advance its own interests at our expense,” such as by designing the iPhone’s operating system to make it more convenient for customers to use Apple’s own device-tracking app.

An Apple spokesman said the company “builds its hardware, software and system level apps to protect user privacy and provide the best products and ecosystem in the world.”

The House panel is reviewing documents turned over by the large tech companies last year and is expected later this year to call senior executives at the firms to testify.

Write to Ryan Tracy at ryan.tracy@wsj.com

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Biden Calls for Repeal of Law that Shields Socials From Liability…


(Bloomberg) — Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden called for the repeal of Section 230, part of a U.S. law that protects internet companies from liability for content their users post online.

In an interview with the New York Times editorial board, Biden said companies should be responsible for libel on their platforms. The former vice president focused his ire on Facebook Inc., the largest social-media company, and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg.

Section 230, a provision of the Communications Decency Act passed in 1996, “should be revoked, immediately,” Biden said.

The rule has allowed internet giants to take a hands-off approach to content on their sites, but has also spurred free expression online. Overturning Section 230 could make internet companies far more cautious about what they let users write on their platforms. Smaller websites could be hurt the most.

Read more: The 26 Words That Helped Make the Internet a Mess

Technology companies have lobbied to protect Section 230, but there have been successful efforts to weaken it already. Congress passed a sex trafficking law in 2018 that chipped away some of the protections.

Biden’s remarks to the New York Times, published Friday, came as part of the newspaper’s presidential endorsement process. He focused particularly on Facebook. “It is propagating falsehoods they know to be false,“ Biden said. “You guys still have editors. I’m sitting with them. Not a joke. There is no editorial impact at all on Facebook. None. None whatsoever. It’s irresponsible.”

“I’ve never been a fan of Facebook, as you probably know,” Biden added. “I’ve never been a big Zuckerberg fan. I think he’s a real problem.”

Other Democratic presidential candidates have expressed concern about Section 230. At tech industry conference SXSW, Amy Klobuchar said, “It is something else that we should definitely look at as we look at how we can create more accountability.”

Biden also said the U.S. should embrace some privacy protections like those in Europe, where citizens have more rights to remove negative content about them posted online.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Newcomer in San Francisco at enewcomer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Mark Milian at mmilian@bloomberg.net, Alistair Barr, Andrew Pollack

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

Subscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.



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DISNEY Heiress Backs Bill That Would Tax DISNEY Over CEO Pay…



DISNEY Heiress Backs Bill That Would Tax DISNEY Over CEO Pay...

(Second column, 16th story, link)


Related stories:
FOX name dropped…





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Anti-Trump protests shrink…


CHICAGO (AP) — Days after President Donald Trump killed an Iranian general and said he was sending more soldiers to the Middle East, about 100 protesters stood on a pedestrian bridge over Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive with an illuminated sign that read “No War in Iran.”

Some 200 people marched in the bitter cold near Boston, while a few dozen people demonstrated on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall and at similarly sized gatherings across the U.S.

Three years after Trump took office and millions of people swarmed to the Women’s March in Washington and companion marches across the country, these typically modest protests are often the most visible sign of today’s Trump resistance.

Activists say the numbers should not be mistaken for a lack of energy or motivation to vote Trump out of office come November.

The anti-Trump movement of 2020, they say, is more organized and more focused on action. Many people have moved from protesting to knocking on doors for candidates, mailing postcards to voters, advocating for specific causes or running for office.

But the movement that sprung up to oppose Trump’s presidency also is more splintered than it was when pink-hatted protesters flooded Washington the day after his inauguration for what is generally regarded as the largest protest in the city since the Vietnam era. There have been schisms over which presidential candidates to back in 2020, as well as disagreements about race and religion and about whether the march reflected the diversity of the movement. Those divisions linger even as many on the left say they need a united front heading into November’s election.

The disputes led to dueling events in New York City last year, the resignation of some national Women’s March leaders and the disbanding of a group in Washington state.

Organizers expected about 100,000 people across the country to participate in this year’s Women’s March, taking place on Saturday in over 180 cities. Several thousand gathered in Washington, far fewer than the turnout last year, when about 100,000 people held a rally east of the White House.

Instead of a single big event, there were various actions this past week that focused on climate change, immigration and reproductive rights. Those issues appeared most important to Saturday’s protesters in the nation’s capital.

“I teach a lot of immigrant students, and in political times like this I want to make sure I’m using my voice to speak up for them,” said Rochelle McGurn, 30, an elementary school instructor from Burlington, Vermont. “They need to feel like they belong, because they do.”

The week reflects that the movement is “moving into the next stage,” said director Caitlin Breedlove.

Leaders of MoveOn.org, which organized some of the anti-Iran war protests, agreed. Mobilization manager Kate Alexander said the group and its members pulled together over 370 protests in 46 states in less than 48 hours to show resistance to Trump’s actions. The president ordered airstrikes that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Quds Force who has been blamed for deadly attacks on U.S. troops and allies going back decades. Iran pledged retribution, sparking fears of an all-out war.

Alexander noted that the Iran protest is just one of many issues MoveOn members have organized in response to in the past few years.

“It’s not that there are fewer people mobilizing — it’s that they’re mobilized in different campaigns. There’s more to do,” Alexander said. “I don’t believe people are tuning out. I think people are lying in wait.”

While waiting, many have passed on some major moments in Trump’s presidency. Resistance groups rallied on the eve of the House vote for impeachment, but even some of those who participated said they were disappointed more people didn’t turn out.

Several organizations also said much of their organizing is done through social media or text message and email programs, which are less visible but have a significant impact. In 2018, the Women’s March had over 24 billion social media impressions, Breedlove said.

Atef Said, a sociology professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said all social movements evolve over time. He noted the Trump resistance movement is global and will continue regardless of whether Trump is reelected.

“Movements always rise and decline in terms of numbers on the ground,” he said.

Andy Koch, a 30-year-old nurse who lives in Chicago, has seen that ebb and flow firsthand. Koch has been active in protesting Trump’s policies even before he took office. When Koch was a student at University of Illinois at Chicago, Trump’s campaign canceled a 2016 speech at the campus following tense student protests.

Koch said the anti-Trump activism swelled when he first took office and again in early 2017 when he announced his first travel ban affecting people from several predominantly Muslim countries.

Roughly 1,000 people mobilized in Chicago immediately after Trump authorized the attack on the Iranian leader, and then the crowds subsided a few days later after the threat of war seemed to subside following Trump’s address to the nation Jan 8. That day, a few dozen — including Koch — showed up in 20-degree Fahrenheit (minus 7 Celsius) temperatures outside Trump International Hotel Chicago during rush hour.

Koch understands that masses of people won’t show up for every protest. “ What allows those numbers to come out … is continued organizing going on in between these events,” he said.

He said there have been numerous smaller protests he’s been involved with, including protesting U.S. foreign policy in Venezuela and Syria, and they’ve taken other forms. For instance, he’s helped plan a teach-in on Iranian foreign policy this week at UIC.

Maya Wells, a 21-year-old political science senior at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, was a speaker at a rally last week in Charlotte. Wells, who is Persian American and has family in Iran, said she doesn’t look at the numbers of people who turn out but rather at the fact that they took time out of their day to be there.

“I see more people coming. Because some of my friends who are conservatives and voted for Trump, they’re against this,” she said, adding that the most recent protest wasn’t the last.

“There will be more days to come,” Wells said. “I have no doubt in my mind.”

___

This story has been corrected to show Women’s March organizers expect about 10,000 people, not 100,000 people, to attend Saturday’s protest in the nation’s capital.

___

Associated Press writers Sophia Tareen in Chicago,Sarah Blake Morgan in Charlotte, N.C., and Lynn Berry in Washington contributed to this report.



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Fireball blazes over Puerto Rico as locals fear 'end times' after quakes…


A blazing meteor-like fireball has been spotted hurtling through the sky in Puerto Rico after a series of powerful earthquakes.

The unusual celestial phenomenon has been branded a sign of the “end of times” by locals on the Caribbean island.

Citizens of the US territory have been jolted by a series of powerful earthquakes since the beginning of 2020, and assumed the blaring light ball was “something catastrophic”.

The island has been recovering from the aftermath of Hurricane Maria since 2017, a deadly natural disaster that destroyed the territory and killed 3,057 people.

The island has been recovering from the aftermath of Hurricane Maria

Frightened Puerto Ricans who witnessed the phenomenon took to social media to share photos and video of the fireball.

One Twitter user said: “Just saw a huge meteor or fireball about a mile into the ocean over Rincón, Puerto Rico.

“It was ridiculously bright and was pretty amazing and crazy.”

While a second feared: “Wow if it hit it could be catastrophic, this is just going to get worse, we are at the end of times, Jesus Christ is about to blow the trumpet.”

National Weather Service satellites captured the blast over Puerto Rico at around 4.30PM EST

And a third added: “Australia burns, Indonesia floods, earthquake in Canada, Puerto Rico & Mexico, Iran proclaims death for USA, the koala is proclaimed almost extinct, a fireball falls to the ocean, and an electric storm in Rio.

“We’re only 7 days into 2020 and I am truly worried.”

National Weather Service satellites captured the blast over Puerto Rico at around 4.30PM EST.

Shortly after it appeared, eyewitnesses said the fireball disintegrated into thin air over the island.



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560-POUND ISIS fanatic dubbed 'Jabba the Jihadi ' is arrested…


A MASSIVE 40-stone jihadi dubbed “Jabba the Jihadi” has been nicked by Iraqi forces— sparking a stream of hilarious internet memes.

Hate preacher Abu Abdul Bari had to be loaded onto a flatbed truck after he was nabbed in his Mosul bolthole by Iraqi security forces.

 ISIS preacher Abu Abdul Bari was arrested by Iraqi security forces

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ISIS preacher Abu Abdul Bari was arrested by Iraqi security forcesCredit: Twitter / @AliBaroodi
 The portly jihadi had to be loaded onto the back of a flatbed truck by police

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The portly jihadi had to be loaded onto the back of a flatbed truck by policeCredit: Twitter / @AliBaroodi

Cops said he was an ISIS member who issued fatwas leading to the execution of a number of scholars and clerics, as well as the bombing of a mosque.

Macer Gifford, a Brit who fought against the death cult in Syria, tweeted: “I’m delighted to say that the Islamic State’s very own Jabba the Hutt has been captured in Mosul.

“Responsible for the execution of men, women and children. This animal raped and murdered.”

Referring to the obvious problems the authorities might face carrying out the country’s death penalty, he added: “Good luck hanging him Iraq.”

Brit activist Maajid Nawaz, chairman of the anti-extremism think tank Quilliam, also shared images of Bari’s arrest.

He wrote: “He was so overweight, maybe from remaining sedentary in his hiding place, that he had to be taken by police in the back of a pick-up truck.”

‘PUTTING THE FAT IN FATWA’

Maajid added: “Most religious justifications provided to ISIS for enslaving, raping, torturing, ethnic cleansing & massacring Iraqis, Syrians & others are from this paltry beast who can’t even stand on his own two legs.

“Cue: Jabba the Hut jokes.”

Other Twitter users lined up to poke fun at the portly terror boss.

One said: “He can’t outrun the law, or anyone else for that matter.”

Many shared photos of the slug-like Star Wars villain Jabba, while others posted videos of Austin Powers baddie Fat Bastard.

Several users came up with the same joke: “Putting the Fat in Fatwa.”

ISIS once controlled huge swathes of Iraq and Syria before it’s “caliphate” was crushed by a Western-backed alliance.

Many jihadis who weren’t killed or captured either fled or went into hiding.

 Bari issued fatwas justifying rapes, executions and torture

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Bari issued fatwas justifying rapes, executions and tortureCredit: Twitter / @AliBaroodi

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Credit: Alamy

ISIS once controlled vast swathes of Iraq and Syria

 ISIS jihadis banged up in a tiny cramped cell in Mosul, Iraq (file image)

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ISIS jihadis banged up in a tiny cramped cell in Mosul, Iraq (file image)Credit: Getty – Contributor
ISIS is regrouping and is on the rise once again in the Middle East, Jordan’s King Abdullah warns



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FOX name dropped…


The original 20th Century Fox was formed in a merger in 1935 between Twentieth Century Pictures and Fox Film Corporation. The company’s art deco searchlight logo and rousing theme song became an iconic Hollywood brand, and the studio released some of the most beloved and successful movies in Hollywood history, including “Avatar,” “Titanic,” “Home Alone,” “Die Hard,” “Alien,” “Star Wars: A New Hope,” and “Planet of the Apes.”



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Macron evacuated from theater as protesters block exits over pension reforms…


A protester speaks in a megaphone during a demonstration in front of the Bouffes du Nord theatre in Paris - AFP
A protester speaks in a megaphone during a demonstration in front of the Bouffes du Nord theatre in Paris – AFP

Emmanuel Macron’s Friday night theatre outing came to a disagreeable end when police had to rescue the president and his wife from dozens of protesters furious over his pension reforms.

Demonstrators besieged the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, where the company led by Peter Brook, the British director, is based, after being alerted to the Macrons’ presence by social media posts.

The protesters tried to force their way into the theatre, where Mr Macron and his wife Brigitte were watching The Fly, but riot police held them back.

Scuffles broke out as the demonstrators chanted slogans against the president’s reforms and called for his resignation.

Security officers and police eventually escorted France’s first couple to safety, but the incident raised questions about presidential security. 

<span>A protester speaks in a megaphone during a demonstration in front of the Bouffes du Nord theatre in Paris </span> <span>Credit: AFP </span>
A protester speaks in a megaphone during a demonstration in front of the Bouffes du Nord theatre in Paris Credit: AFP

MPs from across the political spectrum condemned what many described as  “harassment” of the Macrons. Marine Le Pen, the far-Right leader, said: “These actions must be condemned, but above all they are worrying because they reveal a rise in tension over the past year and a half.” 

<span>CRS riot police stand as protestors gather in front of the Bouffes du Nord theatre in Paris on where the French President attended a play</span> <span>Credit: LUCAS BARIOULET/AFP </span>
CRS riot police stand as protestors gather in front of the Bouffes du Nord theatre in Paris on where the French President attended a play Credit: LUCAS BARIOULET/AFP

In a separate incident, activists from radical trade unions invaded the headquarters of the relatively moderate CFDT union to protest against its leader’s willingness to negotiate with the government over the pension reforms.

Laurent Berger, the CFDT leader, said the activists “verbally and physically attacked CFDT staff members. We will not be intimidated.”

Mr Berger has welcomed the government’s offer to suspend plans to raise the age of eligibility for a full pension from 62 to 64.

<span>French President Emmanuel Macron (C) flanked by Niger's President in a press conference earlier this week</span> <span>Credit: AFP </span>
French President Emmanuel Macron (C) flanked by Niger’s President in a press conference earlier this week Credit: AFP

The hardline CGT and Sud-Rail unions have vowed to pursue the strike until the government ditches its reform plans. The number of workers still striking has fallen, however, and transport services are slowly resuming.

Protesters now appear to be focusing on targeted high-profile operations such as blockading the Louvre museum, forcing it to close on Friday.

<span>Brigitte Macron (C), wife of French President Emmanuel Macron, and her advisors look at products made in France displayed in the courtyard of the Elysee in Paris</span> <span>Credit: AFP </span>
Brigitte Macron (C), wife of French President Emmanuel Macron, and her advisors look at products made in France displayed in the courtyard of the Elysee in Paris Credit: AFP

Striking lawyers who oppose Mr Macron’s plan to scrap France’s more than 40 different state pension schemes in favour of a universal system, which they believe would be less favourable to them, demonstrated outside courts this week.

Anti-government yellow-vest protesters marched through Paris on Saturday.



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The Bizarre Fight Over Wealthy Biochemist's Frozen Head…


A fraught, multi-million-dollar legal battle over the frozen head of a now-deceased biochemist escalated into fraud claims this week, after four years of wild allegations that at one point involved talk of a wax dummy head and an alleged hidden will.

Let’s start from the beginning. 

Until his death, Dr. Laurence Pilgeram, a biochemist and medical school professor, was a longtime proponent of the Arizona-based Alcor Life Extension Foundation’s cryonics program. The company claims it can effectively save lives “by using temperatures so cold that a person beyond help by today’s medicine can be preserved for decades or centuries until a future medical technology can restore that person to full health.” (To be clear, cryonics is not the same as cryogenics, which is a branch of physics that studies the effects of very low temperatures.) 

Alcor’s facilities offer both whole-body preservation and head-only neuropreservation, which might one day serve to “restore the patient to health by regrowing a new body around the brain using future tissue regeneration technology,” according to the company’s website. The same company has already cryopreserved baseball icon Ted Williams, even if that might seem like something out of Don Delillo’s Zero K or a sci-fi film.

Pilgeram had been giving talks at cryonics conferences since 1971. Then he died suddenly in 2015, at the age of 90, after collapsing on the sidewalk outside of his Goleta, California, home. His body was released to a mortuary, where it was covered in dry ice. Alcor employees later performed a “neuro separation” to begin the cryonics process. Pilgeram’s head was cryopreserved, and the rest of his body was cremated and sent to his family. (Alcor has said in court documents that Pilgeram’s body was “medically unable to be preserved” in its entirety because it sat for two days at a medical examiner’s office.)

Pilgeram’s head has since been preserved at the Arizona facility in liquid nitrogen at -196 C (-320 F). But Alcor has not been paid for the service, and now it’s trying to strip Pilgeram’s son of his inheritance for allegedly betraying his father’s wishes. It’s a long, complicated legal fight that shows how abundant wealth and a lifelong obsession with theoretically life-altering technology might tear a family apart.

Before his death, Pilgeram took out a six-figure insurance policy to pay for his contract fee with Alcor, David J. Tappeiner, who represented Pilgeram’s son Kurt, said in 2018. Tappeiner told The Daily Beast at the time that Pilgeram’s agreement with Alcor called for the company to “preserve his whole body.” In a civil suit filed in 2018, Kurt Pilgeram claimed that, by cremating the bulk of his father’s body, which he was aghast to receive at his home two weeks after his father’s death, Alcor breached its contract and dashed any hopes “of bringing his head ‘back to life.’”

“They chopped his head off, burned his body, put it in a box and sent it to my house,” he told The Great Falls Tribune

Alcor responded at the time by claiming that Laurence’s agreement with the company made clear his desire that it “place into suspension any biological remains whatsoever that they may be able to recover, regardless of the severity of the damage to my human remains from such causes as fire, decomposition, autopsy, embalming, or other causes.”



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