in post

21 October, 2020


✭ UN ‘concerned’ at India arrests of rights activists, NGO curbs | India | Al Jazeera
The United Nations human rights chief has urged India to do more to protect human rights activists, who have come under mounting pressure in recent months in the world’s largest democracy.

This follows a recent story that Amnesty International recently has stopped all activities in India because of harassment.

I have been asked at the airport whether I intend to engage in any human rights work. I know of a lady who was turned back at the airport because she was bringing school books to a Christian school she supported. (She had been visiting India for one month a year for decades.) The son of a colleague at work was refused an e-tourist visa simply because he listed journalism as his profession. India is extremely sensitive about unfavourable news stories, human rights work, missionary work or almost any kind of voluntary work (though sometimes it is because they are strict about arriving on the right kind of visa).

Israel is a bit like that too. At the airport, you wouldn't want to say anything about sympathy with the Palestinian cause, being interested in peace work, or visiting the West Bank (other than holy sites). We have had people who intended to come to our village as volunteers who have been turned back at the airport with little justification.

And, of course "the World's Largest Democracy" is best of friends with "The Only Democracy in the Middle East". India is a big customer for Israeli security apparatus and methods.

✭ Pope Francis backs same-sex civil unions | Pope Francis | The Guardian
“Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God. What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered.”

✭ Polluted air killing half a million babies a year across globe | Environment | The Guardian

“This is not the air pollution we see in modern cities [in the rich world] but that which we had 150 years ago in London and other places, where there were coal fires indoors. Indoor air pollution has not been at the forefront for policymakers, but it should be,” Ritz said.

✭ Medical researchers find a new organ in the throat
"Medical researchers have made a surprise anatomical discovery, finding what looks to be a mysterious set of salivary glands hidden inside the human head -- which somehow have been missed by scientists for centuries up until now"

It's fascinating that we still haven't unlocked all the secrets of basic human anatomy.