Brief #4 - okładka

Fight over Haribo jellies, palm oil and whether sex “sells”

The biggest German supermarket chains are withdrawing the famous Haribo jellies from their shelves because of a dispute over prices. Lidl decided to cease the sales of the popular product and Edeka to reduce it by 40%. The situation was initiated with Haribo wanting to raise the prices by 0.10 € on a 360-gram package. The company said the higher prices were necessary because the raw ingredients have themselves become more expensive.

More than 32 000 farmers could be affected by the U.S. ban of imports of palm oil coming from Malaysian FGV Holdings Berhad. The block came as a response to an investigation revealing labor abuses, deception, restriction of movement, isolation, intimidation as well as sexual and physical violence happening in the business. The country’s farmer association (National Association of Smallholders Malaysia) condemned the ban. It stated that the industry is facing anti-palm oil campaigns in Europe and the current accusations are unfounded because most farmers work on their own land.

Advertising campaigns based on sex may not “sell” as well as previously thought, according to the newest study made by researchers from Padova and Trieste universities. The study showed two versions of an advertisement for a product – one “sexualized” and one neutral – to both men and women. It found that women were affected negatively by the “sexualized” ad (no matter if the model pictured was female or male), while men remained mostly unaffected by it. Only men who had “higher levels of hostile attitudes towards women” were more attracted by this kind of advertising.

Women representatives in the judiciary, legislative and women and girls at schools and in the work market

According to the UN, there was a significant rise in the number of girls enrolled in primary schools, maternal mortality dropped, and the systemic protection against discrimination and violence became better. There are 21 female presidents and prime ministers in the world – around twice as many as 25 years ago. Since 1995 the percentage of women in legislative bodies doubled as well, to around a quarter now.

During that period, the proportion of women in the work market fell. Almost one-third of those between 15 and 24 do not learn, work, or participate in training. Less than one-sixth of men have a similar problem. The UN report from 2019 states that over 2.5 billion women and girls live in the countries in which men have legal privileges exceeding those of women, like in case of divorce or inheritance.

A record 298 women will participate in this year’s race for the House of Representatives, as reported by the Center for American Women and Politics. One hundred seventeen of them – another unprecedented number – are women of color. Female candidates count for almost 50% of the Democratic party nominees.

In India, there never was a woman as chief of justice, and only two out of 34 judges of the supreme court are women. The situation isn’t better in the country’s high courts with 78 out of 1078 female judges. Data was gathered by Smashboard, a non-profit organization fighting sexism.

Time travel and a peep into the beginning of time

Scientists from the Australian University of Queensland say they proved the mathematical possibility of time travel. The main issue until now and the reason for the conflict between Einstein’s theory of general relativity and classical dynamics may be described through the so-called “grandfather’s paradox”. Simply put: a traveler who goes back to the past and kills his grandfather will never be born. Therefore he will never go back in time… and kill his grandfather.

Now the undergraduate student claims he solved that problem. Together with a supervising scientist from the University, they used the COVID-19 situation for their calculations. What would happen if a person decided to go back in time and stop the patient zero from getting infected? The paradox would be: the pandemic doesn’t occur, so the “future” person had no reason to go back. But their calculations seem to prove otherwise. The pandemic would occur anyway with the events around recalibrating: somebody else becomes the patient zero. The effect is the same. That means that time travel is possible but changing the past is not.

Astronomers found a giant black hole with protogalaxies around it that date as early as “the beginning of time”. It powers the SDSS J1030+0524 quasar (an extremely luminous quasi-stellar object) – its light waves were traveling to Earth for about 12.9 billion years. It means that what we can observe thanks to the quasar’s light dates back to the time when the universe was only 900 million years old.

USA counters Chinese and Russian influences

China will take over the number one superpower position from America if the USA does not focus on preparing for the “soft” threats like climate or diseases, according to the report from the House Intelligence Committee. If that does not happen, the United States will suffer from economic, security, and health consequences for decades. China is “potentially capable of supplanting the United States as the leading power in the world” due to its influences in trade, military power, and technological domination, as stated in the document.

The United States intends to reassert control in Latin America with the “Growth in the Americas” program (Spanish: América Crece), according to experts. President Trump’s administration wants to counter the Chinese influence in the region, especially in the infrastructure development and energy mega-projects areas. Since 2005 China has invested 123 billion USD there, and Chinese banks have loaned another 137 billion USD.

The United States and Morocco signed an agreement of military cooperation and the latter partner’s military readiness over the next ten years. U.S. defense secretary Mark Esper also went to Algiers where he reportedly discussed expanding security cooperation and security issues in the Sahel region. The Pentagon hopes to fight the influence of Russia, from which Algeria buys 85% of its weaponry.

LGBT+ people discrimination around the world

Egyptian police and the National Security Agency are using dating apps to encounter and then detain people from the LGBT community. The policemen are creating fake profiles on apps like Grindr to find gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transexual persons. They are arbitrarily arrested, tortured, and abused – all of that done systematically. Egyptian authorities base their actions on the “debauchery” clause from the 1960’s anti-prostitution law. Egyptian courts interpret homosexualism as such, even though being a homosexual is not illegal in Egypt.

Gay men raising surrogate children in Russia may face arrest. The investigators can interpret as criminal the act of providing sperm for in vitro fertilization by men with “non-traditional orientation”. According to state media, the authorities intend to persecute at least ten unmarried men under the charge of human trafficking.

Between 1 April and 14 September, an activist group Hombres Trans Panamá recorded 50 incidents of discrimination of transgender people in relation to the country’s COVID-19 lockdown legislation. In April Panama announced an anti-pandemic policy – it based the days when a person could leave the house on the sex written down in their documents. Those rules failed to recognize and respect the transgender community with some people being too scared to leave their homes even to buy essential items.

Friendship and longevity and dying species

Adders in the United Kingdom could become extinct within 12 years. That may be the impact of around 57 million pheasants and partridges that are released each year across Britain as game birds. Before becoming prey for hunters, many of the birds disperse within the country, including in protected areas. They kill reptiles, including adders. A recent survey suggested that the only venomous snake in the country may die off by 2032.

Between 1970 and 2016, we lost 68% of the monitored population of wild mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish, according to a report by the World Wild Fund. The decline was the highest in tropical subregions (around 94%) and the lowest in Europe and some parts of Asia (around 24%). We could slow down the loss of biodiversity – as the authors of the report write – by more conservation efforts, integrated with changes in food production and consumption patterns.

Many species, humans included, live longer if they have friends. So do baboons. Data from the continuous observation of baboons in Kenya since 1971 helped scientists in research which showed a longer lifespan in both males and females who had friendship-like relationships. Male baboons benefited from having more female friends – even if they didn’t mate with them. Meanwhile, the more dominant, “alpha” males lived shorter.