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THE STRAITS TIMES/ CHANNEL NEWS ASIA (Singapore)

SINGAPORE – "Since January, there have been nine fatalities, compared to four cases in 2011 and eight in 2012," reports the Straits Times.

Is the newspaper talking about car accidents or bird flu? No, that's the number of maids that have died from falling out of a building while they were cleaning the exterior of office or apartment windows.

Following the recent spate in accidental falls, Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has ruled that foreign domestic workers are not allowed to clean outside windows.

According to Channel News Asia, employers failing to comply risk a fine of $3900-$7800 and six to 12 months in jail. They can also be permanently barred from employing a foreign domestic worker.

In Singapore, like in Hong Kong or Dubai, it is quite common to look up and see a silhouette dangling out of high-rise window, with a rag in hand or hanging laundry.

The maids –hailing from poorer Southeast Asian countries– are paid from $170 to $270 a month, depending on experience and nationality, and usually work seven days a week.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Seven Battlefield Signs Russia's Army Has Hit A Wall In Ukraine

Russian troops have so far been unable to mount a decisive offensive in the east, as Ukraine records small but meaningful successes near the southern city of Kherson. This is not how Vladimir Putin had it planned.

Ukrainian soldiers conducting a patrol on the outskirt of the separatist region of Donetsk

Alfred Hackensberger

-Analysis-

Late last month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced the overthrow of the government in Kyiv as a new war goal. A few days later, the Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, published a new map of Ukraine, which is shown as largely dissolved into the Russian Federation.

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It is well known that Moscow understands propaganda and has increased its rhetoric since the beginning of the war. But Lavrov's regime change and Medvedev's geography class show how far the Kremlin leadership has deviated from reality.

Because the battlefield in Ukraine does not show an omnipotent Russia that can do whatever it sees fit.

On the contrary, after more than five months of war, the image of the powerful Russian Federation is becoming increasingly cracked.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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