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Uruguay President vs. Big Tobacco

MONTEVIDEO — While other world leaders used their slot at this week's United Nations General Assembly to argue over Syria or the global economy, Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez had smoke on his mind.

After winning a second non-consecutive term last November, Vázquez launched a full-scale attack on the global tobacco industry, accusing cigarette companies of "killing their own clients."

The left-leaning leader called on world leaders to take action and enact policies directed at reducing cigarette use in their own countries, the Montevideo-based daily El Observador reports.

Vázquez's speech comes as his country is battling a high-profile lawsuit from Philip Morris International (PMI) — the world's largest multinational tobacco company and producer of the Marlboro brand — against Montevideo's stringent anti-smoking laws.

El Observador writes that the laws, adopted during Vázquez's first term (2005-2010), mandate cigarette companies to introduce plain packaging with a health advisory warning covering 80% of each pack.

According to Spanish daily El País, Philip Morris originally sued the Uruguayan government in 2010, claiming that the anti-smoking measures infringed on the company's rights under Uruguay's bilateral investment treaty with Switzerland, which is where the tobacco giant is headquartered. In 2013, the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSD) decided to hear the case, which was originally valued at $2 billion but has since been reduced to a possible indemnity of $22 million.

"Health is a human right," President Vázquez said in his remarks at the General Assembly. "It is unethical to prioritize commercial aspects at the expense of a fundamental human right."

The World Health Organization (WHO) has supported Uruguay's anti-tobacco legislation, but the small South American nation still faces a long fight ahead, with a decision not expected for another two years. Regardless of the outcome, the Uruguayan leader insists the laws will stay on the books.

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Big Brother For The People: India's CCTV Strategy For Cracking Down On Police Abuse

"There is nothing fashionable about installing so many cameras in and outside one’s house," says a lawyer from a Muslim community. And yet, doing this has helped members of the community prove unfair police action against them.

A woman is walking in the distance while a person holds a military-style gun close up

Survellance and tight security at the Lal Chowk area in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India on October 4, 2022

Sukanya Shantha

MUMBAI — When sleuths of the National Investigating Agency suddenly descended on human rights defender and school teacher Abdul Wahid Shaikh’s house on October 11, he knew exactly what he needed to do next.

He had been monitoring the three CCTVs that are installed on the front and the rear of his house — a chawl in Vikhroli, a densely populated area in suburban Mumbai. The cameras told him that a group of men and women — some dressed in Mumbai police’s uniform and a few in civil clothes — had converged outside his house. Some of them were armed and few others with batons were aggressively banging at the door asking him to immediately let them in.

This was not the first time that the police had landed at his place at 5 am.

When the policemen discovered the CCTV cameras outside his house, they began hitting it with their batons, destroying one of them mounted right over the door. This action was captured by the adjacent CCTV camera. Shaikh, holed up in his house with his wife and two children, kept pleading with the police to stop destroying his property and simply show them an official notice.

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