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The Latest: Suu Kyi Charged, Navalny Sentenced, Bezos To Step Down

A soldier sits inside a military truck outside an Hindu temple in Yangon, Myanmar, where power has been handed to commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing following a military coup
A soldier sits inside a military truck outside an Hindu temple in Yangon, Myanmar, where power has been handed to commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing following a military coup

Welcome to Wednesday, where Aung San Suu Kyi is charged and Alexei Navalny is sentenced. Also Jeff Bezos announces he will step down as Amazon CEO, in utero music is a thing and Mada Masr probes into the politics of hair in Egyptian schools.

COVID-19 latest: In search of the origins of COVID, a World Health Organisation team is visiting the Wuhan virology lab. Citing lack of research on efficacy, the French and Belgian health ministries have joined Germany in barring administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged 65 and older. Meanwhile, an independent British research body finds Russia's Sputnik V is both safe and highly effective, Singapore becomes the first Asian country to approve the Moderna vaccine and Israel is the first nation to move into the final phase of its nationwide vaccination campaign.

Myanmar coup: Police have announced charges against Myanmar's ousted democratic leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, citing breaches of import and export law after finding handheld radios while raiding her house. China vetoes a UN Security Council joint statement condemning the military takeover, as thousands gathered in Tokyo to demand that Japan join its G7 allies in taking a hard stance against the coup. Meanwhile, doctors in 70 Myanmar hospitals are protesting the coup.

Navalny sentenced: Kremlin critic Alexy Navalny has been sentenced to two years and eight months of prison for violating probation while being poisoned and in a comatose state, prompting more protests.

Jeff Bezos to step down: In an email yesterday from Jeff Bezos to Amazon employees, the CEO announced that he will be stepping down from his role more than 25 years after founding the world's biggest online retailer.

FBI agents killed: While responding to a search warrant in South Florida two FBI agents were killed and another three wounded. The suspect, who barricaded himself, is also dead.

RIP Captain Sir Tom Moore: The British World War II army veteran, who in April of last year pledged to walk 100 lengths of his garden to raise almost £33m for the NHS for coronavirus, has died from the virus, aged 100.

Sounds of the Unborn: Sacred Bones Records has announced that it will be releasing the first-ever in-utero music album made using biosonic MIDI technology attached to the mother's stomach.

Russian daily RBC features opposition leader Alexei Navalny who was sentenced to more than two years in prison.

How the sexist politics of hair plays out in Egypt's schools

Girls are not required to wear a headscarf in Egyptian schools, but as Cairo-based Mada Masr reports, that doesn't mean they are free to wear their hair as they see fit.

The 2020 school year began with a few headlines about schools accused of forcing students to wear headscarves: "Public row over Egypt school forcing child to wear hijab, Education Ministry investigates." The news stories show that some teachers and school administrators pressure students to wear headscarves, although the veil is not mandated in school bylaws or any Education Ministry decree.

In several recent incidents, the staff was motivated by a desire to cultivate a uniform appearance among students, using the veil as a way to try to bring in line teenage girls whose hairstyles or general appearance don't fit their prescribed views on what is "decent." With different schools applying different degrees of strictness, and administrators enforcing their own views of what is school appropriate, headscarves have come to be seen by some schools as a tool to solve a problem.

But in these stories, the girls, with the support of their families, pushed back. Malak went to high school one day with pink highlights rasta-braided into her black hair. The principal of the school, where most girls are veiled, banned her from attending classes and made her stand in the hall as punishment instead and instructed her to wear a hijab. Nagla Siddiq, Malak's mother, stood by her daughter: "I'm not against hijab in principle; I myself wear it. But I refuse to have my daughter wear it against her will."

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

Pollo vaccine? Chicken truck delivers COVID-19 jabs to Bolivian city

Residents in the far-flung city of Trinidad, Bolivia can rest assured: 1,100 doses of the Russian-made Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine were successfully delivered this week, albeit by the most unlikely of means. After being flown into the region on a flight operated by the national airline Boliviana de Aviación, the potentially life-saving cargo was loaded onto a truck belonging to a local chicken meat distributor.

Onlookers could tell something unusual was happening when the bright-yellow "Distribuidora de pollos" truck, owned by the Gabriel chicken company, pulled into the town accompanied by a full police escort, as reported by Bolivian daily El Diario.

News of the precious "chicken" procession quickly made the rounds in Bolivia, with some using the incident to take shots at the government of President Luis Arce, a leftist who took office last November. "Bolivia thanks the Gabriel chicken company for offering transportation in Trinidad of non-certified Russian vaccines," Arturo Murillo, a former government minister, posted on Twitter. "Luckily the private sector is there to help given how incompetent the Luis Arce government is."

Located in Bolivia's northeastern lowlands, Trinidad is the capital of Beni, the second-least populous of the country's nine departments. As of now, authorities explained, there are no government-owned vehicles there to transport coronavirus vaccines at the cold temperatures required to assure their effectiveness — hence the refrigerated chicken truck.

But the local health department was quick to respond to the question on the mind of any good shopper, or doctor: "The vehicle was fully disinfected beforehand in accordance with biosecurity regulations."

➡️ Keep up with all the planet's police reports and plot twists on Worldcrunch.com

$196 billion

That's the net worth of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos as he announced he was stepping down as the company's CEO. Bezos, who will remain as company chairman, is currently the second richest person in the world just behind Tesla founder Elon Musk.

You cannot lock up the whole country.

— Russian Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said during a court hearing before he was sentenced to more than two years in prison for parole violation, as protests continue in support of the opposition leader.

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Iran's War On Abortion Rights, A Toxic Mix Of Theocracy And Demographic Panic

Ending a pregnancy has become a major complication, and a crime, for Iranian women who cannot or will not have children in a country wracked by socio-economic woes and a leadership.

photo of a young child surrounded by women in chadors

Iran's government wants to boost the birth rate at all costs

Office of Supreme Leader/ZUMA
Firoozeh Nordstrom

Keen to boost the population, Iran's Islamic regime has reversed its half-hearted family planning policies of earlier years and is curbing birth control with measures that include banning abortion.

Its (2021) Law to Support the Family and Rejuvenate the Population (Qanun-e hemayat az khanevadeh va javani-e jam'iyat) threatens to fine the women who want to abort, and fine, imprison, and dismiss the performing physician, if the pregnancy is not deemed to be life-threatening. The law also bans contraceptives.

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The measures are in line with the dictates of Iran's Supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. He was already denouncing birth control policies by 2018-19, though conservative elements among Iran's rulers have always dismissed birth control as a piece of Western corruption.

Today, measures to boost families include land and credit incentives for young couples, but it is difficult to say how far they will counter a marked reluctance among Iranians to marry and procreate. Kayhan-London had an online conversation with individuals affected by the new rules in Iran.

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