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LA STAMPA

Workers In Florence: Time For A Smoke Break? Then Punch The Clock

New rules in the Italian city could require all public workers to get docked for every time they step outside the office for a smoke.

Workers In Florence: Time For A Smoke Break? Then Punch The Clock

Worldcruch NEWS BITES

Smokers working for the Florence registry office now have a new rule to follow. Any time they step out for a cigarette break, they will have to punch the time clock. The accumulated time spent smoking instead of working will therefore not be included in work hours.

Needless to say, smokers are fuming, and local union representatives have lashed out at the new regulation. "A cigarette break is a necessary moment of physical and psychological recovery for a smoker," says Stefano Cecchi, a representative of the RSU (United Union Representatives) syndicate, who has called on city officials to reverse the decision.

But Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi – a non-smoker – likes the idea. "I won't even consider changing this rule," he declared. Renzi is even planning to extend it to all of the 5,000 municipal employees."Public service must set an example," says the mayor. "Of course, everyone is free to take a break for a coffee or a cigarette. But employees should be conscientious. They should punch the clock, go out for a fifteen-minute break and then come back. Otherwise citizens see a bad example."

Some municipal employees have said that if they are docked for the cigarette breaks, the only solution may indeed be to finally quit smoking for good.

Original article in Italian by Maria Vittoria Giannotti

Photo credit - Hello Turkey Toe

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Society

In Northern Kenya, Where Climate Change Is Measured In Starving Children

The worst drought in 40 years, which has deepened from the effects of climate change, is hitting the young the hardest around the Horn of Africa. A close-up look at the victims, and attempts to save lives and limit lasting effects on an already fragile region in Kenya.

Photo of five mothers holding their malnourished children

At feeding time, nurses and aides encourage mothers to socialize their children and stimulate them to eat.

Georgina Gustin

KAKUMA — The words "Stabilization Ward" are painted in uneven black letters above the entrance, but everyone in this massive refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya, calls it ya maziwa: The place of milk.

Rescue workers and doctors, mothers and fathers, have carried hundreds of starving children through the doors of this one-room hospital wing, which is sometimes so crowded that babies and toddlers have to share beds. A pediatric unit is only a few steps away, but malnourished children don’t go there. They need special care, and even that doesn’t always save them.

In an office of the International Rescue Committee nearby, Vincent Opinya sits behind a desk with figures on dry-erase boards and a map of the camp on the walls around him. “We’ve lost 45 children this year due to malnutrition,” he says, juggling emergencies, phone calls, and texts. “We’re seeing a significant increase in malnutrition cases as a result of the drought — the worst we’ve faced in 40 years.”

From January to June, the ward experienced an 800 percent rise in admissions of children under 5 who needed treatment for malnourishment — a surge that aid groups blame mostly on a climate change-fueled drought that has turned the region into a parched barren.

Opinya, the nutrition manager for the IRC here, has had to rattle off these statistics many times, but the reality of the numbers is starting to crack his professional armor. “It’s a very sad situation,” he says, wearily. And he believes it will only get worse. A third year of drought is likely on the way.

More children may die. But millions will survive malnutrition and hunger only to live through a compromised future, researchers say. The longer-term health effects of this drought — weakened immune systems, developmental problems — will persist for a generation or more, with consequences that will cascade into communities and societies for decades.

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