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Bretigne Shaffer

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First They Came for the Anti-Vaxxers

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Earlier this year I spent a few days at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center with my daughter who was having an EEG done. On our way home, I learned that there had been an outbreak of an antibiotic-resistant bacteria while we were there, that it had infected seven people and killed two of them. My daughter and I were fine – the infection having been limited to people using a particular kind of duodenoscope.

When the story hit the news, I fully expected nationwide outcry similar to that inspired by the recent measles “epidemic” that began at Disneyland. That outbreak killed no-one, yet set the country on fire with calls for mandatory vaccination and even prison sentences for parents who choose not to vaccinate their children. Drug-resistant “superbugs” kill nearly 15,000 people a year in the US and a recent report predicts that they could kill as many as 300 million people by 2050. Surely this far more deadly health threat would lead to similar widespread outrage and calls for those even remotely responsible to be held accountable.
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Who's To Blame For More Violence Against Afghan Women?

Hillary Afghan

The plight of Afghan women is in the news again. In December, Reuters warned that "(a)larm rises for Afghan women prisoners after Western troops leave," and Macleans published a plea from Afghan parliamentarian and women’s rights advocate Fawzia Koofi, for Western troops to remain in her country.  

Earlier this month, Russia Today reported that:

Violent crimes against women in Afghanistan reached an unprecedented level of brutality in 2013, an Afghan human rights watchdog has announced as the US-led coalition prepares to withdraw.

Chair of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), Sima Samar, told Reuters that the pace and the hideousness of attacks on women intensified in 2013 with a 25 per cent surge in cases from March through September.

'The brutality of the cases is really bad. Cutting the nose, lips and ears. Committing public rape,' Samar said. 'Mass rape... It's against dignity, against humanity.’

The spokeswoman noted that as the withdrawal deadline draws near for international troops, women in tribal areas are less protected, leaving them vulnerable to violent assaults.

’The presence of the international community and provincial reconstruction teams in most of the provinces was giving people confidence,’ Samar said. 'There were people there trying to protect women. And that is not there anymore, unfortunately.'

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