Byun Hee-soo, South Korea's first transgender soldier, was dismissed after undergoing gender confirmation surgery.
She was found dead in her apartment in March, and reports say she died by suicide.
A court has ruled that her dismissal was illegal and that the army should rescind the wrongful discharge.
South Korea's first transgender soldier has posthumously won a court case against the nation's army over her "illegal" dismissal, Pink News reported.
The Daejeon District Court ruled on Thursday that it was unlawful for the army to forcibly discharge the former staff sergeant Byun Hee-soo, who was a tank driver in the South Korean army, following her gender confirmation surgery last year.
The court also ruled that she was clearly a female by law and ordered that the army rescind the wrongful discharge, according to reports.
Byun was dismissed from the military following her decision to undergo gender confirmation surgery in Thailand last year while on leave, Reuters reported. She had expressed a desire to continue serving in the female corps following the surgery.
South Korea prohibits transgender people from joining the military and rejected her petition for reinstatement in July last year, per ABC News.
Military officials argued that her loss of male genitalia amounted to a mental and physical disability, Vice reported.
At the time, Byun protested the dismissal and vowed to "challenge the decision until the end." She launched a legal battle in August 2020, arguing that the army's treatment of her was unconstitutional.
She was found dead in her apartment, aged 23, in March 2021. Although reports have not confirmed her cause of death, it has been reported that she died by suicide. Her family took over the late soldier's case.
South Korea's army has said that it respects the decision but it has not yet decided whether it will appeal the ruling, Korea JoongAng Daily reported.
A "very rare" private toilet was discovered during an archaeological excavation in Jerusalem.
The toilet cubicle may have come complete with air fresheners, the Israel Antiquities Authority says.
Toilets such as these would have been a luxury reserved for the rich, according to researchers.
A "very rare" 2,700-year-old private toilet was discovered during an archaeological excavation in Jerusalem, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority.
The toilet cubicle, carved into limestone, was discovered by Israeli archaeologists in the Armon HaNetziv neighborhood of East Jerusalem, near the site where the Hebrew Bible says Abraham almost sacrificed his son Isaac, The Times of Israel reported.
Researchers say that the amenity would have been a luxury at the time. "A private toilet cubicle was very rare in antiquity, and only a few were found to date, most of them in the City of David," said Yaakov Billig, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority excavation, according to The Times of Israel. "In fact, only the rich could afford toilets."
Billig said in a video that an ancient "toilet seat," carved into stone, was a "very rare find."
Ha'aretz reported that, underneath the toilet seat, there was a septic tank. It wasn't connected to a sewage system. The media outlet said it would have most likely been periodically emptied by servants.
It's also possible that 30 to 40 bowls found in the vicinity were ancient air fresheners, according to the Smithsonian Magazine. The vessels may have held aromatic oils or incense, the media outlet said.
October 9, 2021Joshua ZitserUncategorizedComments Off on Biden joked that getting Manchin and Sanders to sit in a room together to discuss the Democrats’ spending bill would almost be like a ‘homicide,’ report says
Manchin has chided House Democrats for holding up the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that passed in the Senate in August. The vote was ultimately pulled after Sanders and other progressives urged House Democrats to vote against a stand-alone bill on infrastructure until the social spending bill is also passed.
As Democratic infighting over the spending bill continues, reports say that tensions are intensifying between the two senators.
"My education is ruined, my dreams, everything," Ghulam* said. "There is nothing for us here now, no future."
In conversations with Insider over the past month, Ghulam, a 21-year-old Afghan man, has described his increasingly deteriorating mental health ever since the Taliban took control of the country in a sweeping offensive.
Ghulam said that he has self-harmed and considered suicide as he contemplated his future under Taliban rule and its strict adherence to Islamic Sharia law.
"I self-medicate with Pregabalin. I take three pills at once because one won't do anything. It just helps me calm down and forget about all of my problems," Ghulam said.
Pregabalin is a medication typically used to treat generalized anxiety disorder.
Sources told Insider that it is increasingly common for people suffering from mental health issues to seek solace by self-medicating with antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication in Afghanistan.
"In Afghanistan, you can get any kind of medicine from the pharmacy without a prescription, or there are black markets where you can get anything," Ghulam said. He added that in Kabul, there are street children who sell cheap prescription medications, often counterfeit.
"Many of my friends are overdosing," Ghulam said. "They take one medicine, and it doesn't work properly because it's fake, so they're taking two, three, four different medications at one time just to try and improve their moods."
He said that his friends commonly take the antidepressants fluoxetine or escitalopram, as well as Pregabalin. Often, they will experiment with different combinations and recommend them to each other.
"People are buying medications without the advice of the doctor, even though they know that they are not 100% original or the quality is not good, just to try and improve their mood," Ghulam added.
Dr. Wais Aria, an Afghan psychiatrist who heads up mental health non-profit Tabish, said that a cascade of societal problems, including a collapsing economy,cataclysmic social changes, and the threat of violence, is straining Afghanistan's already under-resourced mental health infrastructure.
"Demand is very high and the services are very limited," he said. "And because there's no real psychosocial support for people to deal with their stress or mental health problems, people are looking for antidepressant pills or sedatives."
A deeply traumatized nation
People are increasingly turning to counterfeit medication to try and "numb the reality," said Lyla Schwartz, the managing director of the psychological support consultancy Peace of Mind Afghanistan, during a phone call with Insider.
Afghanistan's population was already deeply traumatized by decades of poverty and conflict, she said.
Afghanistan's former public health minister Dr. Wahid Majrooh told Insider that access to mental health professionals in the country has always been limited.
According to the most recent data from the World Health Organisation, there are only 0.3 psychologists per 100,000 people in Afghanistan. Comparatively, in the US, there are 30 per 100,000 - equating to 100 times more.
Large swathes of the country, particularly rural areas, have relied solely on counselors with minimal training who "don't fulfill the expectations of the system," Majrooh said.
The situation over the past month, however, is "worse" and "exacerbated," he said.
Psychologists are needed more than ever, but they're fleeing the country
Aria, who worked as a psychiatrist in Kabul until last month, said that the political turmoil had decimated the paltry supply of medical professionals in Afghanistan. "We have a lot of therapists and doctors who left the country because they do not feel safe there," he said.
Aria himself fled Afghanistan on August 25 for the US because, he said, he feared that his psychiatric work with NGOs could make him a target for the Taliban.
His friend, Judy Kuriansky, a psychology professor at Columbia University Teachers College and a United Nations NGO representative, is helping other psychiatrists escape. "They are needed more than ever, sure, but they cannot operate," she told Insider. "Their lives are at risk."
One of the nation's most prominent psychiatrists, who received death threats, was abducted from his work last week, The Guardian reported.
Kuriansky, who said that it's unfortunate but necessary that these mental health professionals need to be evacuated, fears that the consequence is that "the entire mental health system in Afghanistan is going to collapse."
And, according to experts, it's women who are the most vulnerable.
'If it were not for my family, I would end my life'
Zahra*, 25, a doctor in a maternity ward in Kabul, told Insider that while most women are currently unable to work, the Taliban have allowed her to because of the shortage of doctors in Afghanistan.
She said that she is hassled at Taliban checkpoints for going to work without a male chaperone. Taliban fighters who guard the hospital often speak to women derogatory.
Zahra said that the new restrictions on her life have negatively affected her mental health.
"I was not like this in the past," she told Insider. "But since the Taliban took over, the future is unknown. I'm really depressed. I wonder what will happen to me, what will my future be?"
Zahra said she went to a psychologist who prescribed her the antidepressant fluoxetine and helped her get it at a discounted price as a favor. Zahra said she fears she will not be able to afford more once she runs out.
But the pills can only help so much, Zahra said. She said she is worried about her safety but has no choice but to work as she is the sole breadwinner for her family since her father passed away.
"If it were not for my family, I would end my life because I don't know what the Taliban will do with me," Zahra said.
Afghanistan's looming suicide crisis
She is not alone in having suicidal thoughts. Multiple interviewees in Afghanistan independently told Insider that they had been considering ending their lives because they felt hopeless about their future.
Zahra said that she recently witnessed one of her neighbors die by suicide after they jumped from the top floor of their house.
"Living under this kind of trauma, no one has hope for the future. People feel helpless and are thinking of ending their life. People are saying I wish we weren't even born," she said.
Majrooh, the former health minister, told Insider that he fears Afghanistan faces an imminent suicide crisis. "I can tell you that a few months from now, the levels of suicide, especially among the elite and educated, those who enjoyed their positions in the past, will be just shocking," he said.
Ayesha Ahmad, senior lecturer in Global Health at St Georges' University of London whose work focuses on Afghan trauma, said that women in Afghanistan were already at an alarmingly high risk of suicide, even before the Taliban takeover.
According to data from the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), around 3,000 Afghans attempt to take their own lives every year, the BBC reported. Out of these, an estimated 80% were women.
"Afghanistan is quite an exception to some of the global trends in the sense that there are more female suicides than males," Ahmad said.
Ahmad said that gender-based violence was a primary motivator for women to take their own lives, which is likely only to worsen.
As Afghans look to an uncertain future under the repressive Taliban regime, some see self-medication, or even suicide, as the only options.
With the mental health system crumbling around them, few have been able to get access to professional help. But those who have, like Zahra, the support has provided little solace.
She remains unmoved by her psychologist's advice to "stay strong and try to not overthink much."
(*We have given pseudonyms to some of the interviewees in Afghanistan to protect their identity.)
Former President Donald Trump mocked his political nemeses by emailing a meme of Republican congresswoman Liz Cheney and former President George W. Bush's faces morphed together to his supporters, according to the Independent.
The image, which appears to have first been shared by Twitter meme account, was used by Trump in a fundraising message, sent on Thursday, for his Save America PAC. "ICYMI: Must-See Photo," it was captioned.
Boston's famous "Skinny House," which was reportedly built following a feud between two brothers, has sold over its asking price for $1.25 million, Mass Live reported.
The iconic two-bedroom, one-bathroom property was priced at $1.2 million, the local media outlet said it was marketed for $1.2 million.
The home, a popular attraction for Boston tourists, was listed as sold on Zillow on Thursday, Mass Live reported.
The 10.4-foot-wide house, located n North End Boston at 44 Hull St, is Boston's most narrow home, according to a 2005 The Boston Globe story.
Beyond its bizarre proportions, it also has a memorable story behind how it came to be.
As Insider's Monica Humphries previously reported, local legend has it that the 1,166-square-foot house was built in 1862 following a bitter feud between two brothers.
One went off to serve in the Civil War, while the other stayed in Boston. Their father died and the men inherited a piece of land. While a brother was fighting in the war, the other built an expansive home on most of the land.
When the brother eventually returned to Boston, he was reportedly left with only a tiny slither left to build on.
Out of spite, the story goes, the brother built the narrow house on the remainder of the lot so as to block the sunlight from his sibling's larger home.
The property previously sold for $900,000 in 2017, according to the real estate firm Cabot and Company.
Right-wing activist Laura Loomer, who once said that food poisoning after eating "bad fajitas" was worse than COVID-19, has said that she has tested positive for the virus.
In a post on GETTR, Loomer told her followers that she now has "fever, chills, a runny nose, sore throat, nausea and severe body aches" and that she feels like she "got hit by a bus."
She described her symptoms as "brutal" and said she is in "so much pain" in follow-up messages posted on her Telegram channel, The Daily Beast reported. "Just pray for me please," she wrote.
Loomer said that she has not been vaccinated against COVID-19 and added that she doesn't plan on "ever taking it."
She said on GETTR, social media platform targeted to American conservatives, that she is being treated with Azithromycin and Hydroxychloroquine and a dietary supplement. Hydroxychloroquine, which was often touted by former President Donald Trump, has proven ineffective in treating the coronavirus.
Per The Daily Beast, she wrote on Parler in December 2020: "I hope I get COVID just so I can prove to people I've had bouts of food poisoning that are more serious and life-threatening than a hyped-up virus. Have you ever eaten bad fajitas? That will kill you faster than COVID."
On Friday, Loomer accused the "leftist media" of relishing in her COVID-19 diagnosis. "Their hopes that i die are a clear reminder that the left's growing outrage over supposed increased COVID deaths is all for show and political gain," she wrote.
Of the 23 states that have a total of new COVID-19 cases per capita that surpasses the national ratio, the media outlet reported that 21 voted for Trump in November. Hawaii and Georgia are the only Biden-voting states to have more cases per capita than the country's average.
A similar statistic applies when it comes to the number of COVID-19 deaths. Of the 18 states that have new death totals higher than the national ratio, the data shows that 14 voted for the former president.
When it comes to the 17 least-vaccinated states, 16 - all but Georgia - voted for Trump, the report said.
The chain of correlation makes it "much harder to assert that politics is not playing a role," wrote The Washington Post's national correspondent Philip Bump.
"Republicans have been less concerned about the virus, less likely to embrace practices such as masking, more likely to express opposition to vaccination and (obviously) voted more heavily for Trump," Bump said. "States that are seeing the most new cases and deaths are states that are less heavily vaccinated and were more supportive of Trump last year."
According to KFF's COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor, 20 percent of Republicans say they will "definitely not" get vaccinated. That compares to only 5 percent of Democrats who are opposed to getting a shot, the ongoing research project says.
In July, Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told ABC that America has to "get away from the divisiveness" - a reference to the US's Red/Blue vaccination divide.
Viruses, Fauci said, "don't know the difference between a Democrat, a Republican, or an Independent."
"Since Dictator Joe Biden started phase 1 of the Dems' Communist takeover of America yesterday & I don't have a GOP Conference call on my calendar or an email in my inbox from leadership to stop this insanity," she wrote. This is seemingly a reference to President Joe Biden's Thursday announcement on federal vaccine requirements.
In the Twitter thread, she went on to accuse Republicans in Congress of failing to '"deliver key issues that were of utmost importance" to GOP voters, citing repealing Obamacare, defunding Planned parenthood, and funding a border wall as examples of broken promises.
"I give speeches to hundreds to thousands of Republican voters every single week at home and all across the country," Greene said in a later tweet. "Our voters are fed up with Republicans in Congress doing nothing to stop Dictator Joe Biden and the outright destruction to our country."
She later took a jab at "experienced" Republicans. "You all should hear what your wealthiest most successful donors are saying about you all and your lack of real action while Democrats burn our country to the ground with a dementia patient at the wheel," she wrote.
She added that she had "no confidence" in the current Republican leadership. "I'm going to continue my promise to put The People over the politicians and fight like hell to Save America," she concluded.
A day after the Republicans voted to banish Greene from her congressional committees in February 2021, The New York Times reported that she said that the punishment had "freed" her to hold the GOP "accountable" and to push the party further to the right.