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Myanmar crisis heightens with police raids and strike call

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Myanmar crisis heightens with police raids and strike call

YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar careened deeper into crisis, as police occupied hospitals and universities and reportedly arrested hundreds of people involved in protesting last month’s military seizure of power, while a coalition of labor unions called a strike for Monday.

Tension was high Sunday in the country’s biggest city, Yangon, where for a second night running gunshots from heavy weapons rang out randomly in the streets of several neighborhoods after the start of an 8 p.m. curfew. The sounds of what apparently were stun grenades could also be heard on videos posted on social media.

The purpose for security forces using such weapons when protesters had left the streets appeared to be part of a strategy to strike fear in anyone who might think about defying the authorities. In a similar vein, there were many filmed incidents of police and soldiers in plain view savagely beating protesters they had taken into custody.

Some of the shooting was heard near hospitals, where reports said neighborhood residents sought to block the entry of police and soldiers.

Security forces have often targeted medical personnel and facilities, attacking ambulances and their crews. Members of the medical profession launched the Civil Disobedience Movement, which is the nominal coordinator of the protests, frequently hailed on demonstrators’ signs by its CDM initials. Taking over hospitals would allow the authorities to easily arrest wounded people presumed to be protesters.

Large protests have occurred daily across many cities and towns in Myanmar, and security forces have responded with ever greater use of lethal force and mass arrests. At least 18 protesters were shot and killed on Feb. 28 and 38 on Wednesday, according to the U.N. Human Rights Office. More than 1,500 have been arrested, the independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said.

Protests in various cities and towns were again met Sunday by police firing warning shots, and employing tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades.

In a single Yangon neighborhood, Shwepyitha, at least 100 students were reported arrested, and many protesters were also said to have been detained in other cities, especially at universities.

Myanmar labor unions, meanwhile, issued a joint call for a nationwide work stoppage beginning Monday, with the goal of a “full, extended shutdown of the Myanmar economy.”

“To continue the economic and business activities as usual, and to delay a general work-stoppage, will only benefit the military as they repress the energy of the Myanmar people,” said the appeal, issued Sunday night.

The statement called for the strike to continue “until we receive our democracy back.”

Workers in several industries have joined the protest movement, most notably from the state railway and the banking sector.

Factory workers, mostly in the Yangon area, are largely involved in the garment industry, which generates major export earnings for Myanmar. The workers have participated occasionally in the campaign against the junta, but are unable to do so on a daily basis for fear of losing their modest incomes.

Advocates of sanctions against the junta have purposely avoided calling for comprehensive trade sanctions for fear they would hurt the general populace. Instead they have called for, and enacted, targeted sanctions aimed at hurting the military’s leadership and military-linked companies.

Earlier Sunday, police in Myanmar’s ancient former capital, Bagan, opened fire on demonstrators protesting the Feb. 1 coup, wounding several people, according to witness accounts and videos on social media.

At least five people were reported hurt as police sought to break up the Bagan protest, and photos showed one young man with bloody wounds on his chin and neck, believed to have been caused by a rubber bullet. Bullet casings collected at the scene indicated that live rounds were also fired.

The city, located in the central Mandalay region, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of the more than 2,000 pagodas or their remnants situated there, dating from the ninth to 13th centuries, when it was the capital of a kingdom that later became known as Burma and is now Myanmar.

Bagan is best known for being one of the country’s top tourist attractions, but it has also been the scene of large protest marches against the junta.

Multiple reports from Yangon said there had been police raids Saturday night seeking to seize organizers and supporters of the protest movement. A ward chairman from Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, which was ousted from power in the coup, was found dead in a military hospital Sunday morning by fellow residents of his Pabedan neighborhood, according to a post on Facebook by NLD lawmaker Sithu Maung.

Suspicion was rampant on social media that Khin Maung Latt, 58, died due to a beating in custody after being taken from his residence, but no official cause of death was immediately announced.

In Yangon and elsewhere, raids are carried out nightly after the 8 p.m. curfew by police and soldiers. The arrests are often carried out at gunpoint, without warrants.

The escalation of violence has put pressure on the global community to act to restrain the junta. The coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy in Myanmar, which for five decades had languished under strict military rule that led to international isolation and sanctions.

Suu Kyi’s party led a return to civilian rule with a landslide election victory in 2015, and with an even greater margin of votes last year. It would have been installed for a second five-year term last month, but instead Suu Kyi and President Win Myint and other members of the government were placed in military detention.

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Small Republican NY county has one of highest vax rates in US

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Small Republican NY county has one of highest vax rates in US

An upstate New York county has one of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the country.

Some 65 percent of Hamilton County residents are fully vaccinated against the virus, way better than the 36 percent of people nationwide and 41.6 percent across the Empire State, according to an ABC analysis of figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The rates fly in the face of polls that say Republicans are less willing to get the shot — in 2020, 68 percent of residents in the county voted for Donald Trump over Joe Biden, the report said.

“We’ve watched nationally, this political fight over COVID,” Bill Farber, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, told ABC. “We defied the odds, didn’t we?”

The county is New York’s smallest by population, with about 4,800 residents, and is located within Adirondack Park — with no hospital, no pharmacy and bad cellphone service, ABC reported.

Forty-three percent of Republicans polled by Monmouth University had said they wanted to avoid a COVID-19 vaccination. A Monmouth University poll in April said 43 percent of GOP voters wanted to avoid the COVID-19 vaccination.

Hamilton officials told ABC they believed they were able to encourage residents to get jabbed by having word spread by neighbors and volunteers, rather than through political messaging.

Farber thinks this week’s announcement that fully-vaccinated people could go maskless in most circumstances may encourage some holdouts.

“Rather than getting caught up in it being a Republican or a Democrat issue, it really was seen as a community issue,” Farber told ABC. “I think that was our saving grace.”

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U of California to nix SAT, ACT in settlement with minority students

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U of California to nix SAT, ACT in settlement with minority students

The University of California agreed to no longer consider SAT or ACT scores when making admissions and scholarship decisions under a settlement finalized Friday in a 2019 lawsuit filed on behalf of low income students of color and students with disabilities. 

The 10-campus system, which has more than 280,000 students statewide, decided not to continue fighting a judge’s injunction issued last fall that barred it from considering the scores for admission even when submitted voluntarily, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Students may still elect to submit SAT or ACT scores to satisfy the entry level writing requirement or for placement in courses. 

The lawsuit argued that low income students of color were at disadvantage because standardized test questions often contain inherent bias that more privileged children are better equipped to answer and wealthier students often take expensive prep course to boost scores that others cannot afford. It also argues the students with disabilities could not easier travel to exams and class sites.  

The settlement, reached earlier this month, “ensures that the university will not revert to its planned use of the SAT and ACT — which its own regents have admitted are racist metrics,” Amanda Savage, an attorney representing the students, said in a statement obtained by the Chronicle. 

The UC Board of Regents voted last year to drop the SAT and ACT tests as admission requirements through 2024 and eliminate them for California residents after that. Incoming students this fall didn’t submit SAT or ACT scores. However, regents had said applicants for fall 2021 and 2022 could submit the scores voluntarily. The new settlement will “provide certainty for students and their families, counselors, and high schools,” the school said.

College Board, which produced the SAT, rejected the notion that their standardized tests were inherently racist – though it did recognize inequities in the education system. 

“Real inequities exist in American education, and they are reflected in every measure of academic achievement, including the SAT,” College Board’s executive director for communications, Zach Goldberg, said in a statement obtained by the New York Times. “The SAT itself is not a racist instrument. Every question is rigorously reviewed for evidence of bias and any question that could favor one group over another is discarded.”

Under the agreement, SAT and ACT scores won’t be considered for admission for students applying for entry between fall 2021 and spring 2025. However, the scores that are submitted voluntarily can be used for course placement after a student is admitted.

FairTest, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit group that is generally opposed to standardized testing, announced last month that more than 1,400 accredited colleges and universities that grant bachelor’s degrees won’t require students applying for fall 2022 admission to submit test scores. That is more than 60% of the undergraduate institutions in the United States, the group said.

The University of California announced on Jan. 28 that the system received the highest number of undergraduate applications in its history for the fall 2021 admission, which included surges among African American and Chicano/Latino students. California Community College transfer applications also grew by an impressive margin, the university system said. 

Campuses saw significant growth of freshman applications from African American students, with an increase of 1,505 applications or 21.8 percent, as well as Chicano/Latino students, with a jump of 5,250 or 12.2 percent, the university system said. 

“The makeup of this year’s applicants already show that students are no longer deterred from applying based on their inability to access standardized testing,” Marci Lerner Miller, another attorney representing the students, said in a statement about the settlement. “We’re confident that this settlement will lead to students demonstrating their abilities, rather than their disabilities, in the application process.” 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Pregnant OnlyFans star Carla Bellucci plans to livestream birth for money

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Pregnant OnlyFans star Carla Bellucci plans to livestream birth for money

Carla Bellucci, a pregnant British OnlyFans star has been leveraging her growing child for cold hard cash, the Daily Star reports.

Interest in her pregnancy has become so intense, Carla Bellucci, who hails from Hitchin, Herts, which lies north of London, has received a $14,000 offer to livestream her birth on OnlyFans.

Pregnant with her fourth child, Carla Bellucci, 39, rocketed to fame and then to OnlyFans stardom after sneakily getting the UK’s National Health Service to cover her nose job.

“I have been offered £10,000 from one of my OnlyFans to live-stream my birth – and you know what, why not?” she announced.

“I am going to give fans the chance to live-stream my birth for £10,000.

Pregnant mum to live-stream birth on OnlyFans for £10k and has offers to sell breastmilk

“I mean, people give birth on that programme One Born Every Minute and I can’t see the difference,” Carla Bellucci, the pregnant OnlyFans star, reasoned.

“I’m sure they don’t even get paid!”

As her pregnancy advances, Carla Bellucci says she is ready to deal with any haters who try and drag her for giving birth on OnlyFans livestream.

Indy100 reports that as soon as she got pregnant, Carla Belllucci saw her OnlyFans fanbase swell right along with her belly.

The OnlyFans subscription service allows users to make money from shared content that usually stars themselves and is often adult in nature.

Pregnant OnlyFans star is planning to live-stream birth to subscribers for £10,000

“I know people are going to go crazy but I’m a businesswoman and I need to make money,” Carla Bellucci told the Daily Star of her plans to livestream the culmination of her pregnancy on OnlyFans.

“I am my business,” the influencer noted, according to the Daily Record.

“I am nervous about live-streaming my birth but at the end of the day it’s a lot of money to refuse.”

Since first announcing her pregnancy, Carla Bellucci had one of her “best months” on OnlyFans, she said.

Carla says that since she started adding pregnancy pictures to her account her OnlyFans income has gone up substantially.

Pregnant OnlyFans mum plans to live-stream baby’s birth to make £10k

Carla Bellucci says that since announcing her pregnancy on OnlyFans, she’s had requests for her breastmilk.

She draws the line there, finding the requests untoward and shocking.

Rationalizing her efforts to hawk her pregnant body on OnlyFans, Carla Bellucci said,  “People go on the beach in bikinis while they’re pregnant – what’s the difference? I’m not nude!”

The Mirror reports that she plans to keep photos of her baby off of social media — unless someone pays her enough.

“I’d want a good magazine deal, I’d want around £15,000,” she admits. “I know it’s not loads of money, but I am not Katie Price so can’t ask for half a million just yet.”

Pregnant mum plans to live-stream herself giving birth on OnlyFans for £10,000

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