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Malawi reinstates ban on plastic bags as campaigners hail ‘fantastic victory’

Judges overturn injunction won by plastic manufacturers after thin plastic bags were outlawed Malawis highest court has imposed a ban on plastic bags, a huge milestone for the government and environmental charities who beat off challenges from some of the countrys big manufacturers. The government imposed the ban on thin plastic bags Tanzania, Rwanda are among the others. Sangwani Mwafulirwa, a spokesperson for the department of environmental affairs, said the government was very relieved the verdict had gone in its favour. We have for over two years struggling to have…

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Domestic abuse victim to go into hiding as ex freed after six months

Abigail Blake calls for better guidance for victims after mix-up over attackers sentence A woman who was left with life-changing injuries after being beaten by her ex-partner says she will go into hiding when he is released from prison after serving six months. Abigail Blake sustained a broken back and neck and was left permanently disabled after being attacked by Sebastian Swamy at their home in July 2017. The judge in the case said the attack had had a hugely serious and catastrophic effect on Blakes life. Swamy was initially…

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As a psychiatrist, if I had severe depression Id choose ECT | Mariam Alexander

Electroconvulsive therapy is one of the best treatments available, says NHS psychiatrist Mariam Alexander It might come as quite a surprise to learn that, as a psychiatrist, if I ever had the misfortune to develop severe depression, my treatment of choice would be electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Why? Well, to put it simply, ECT is the most rapid treatment for severe depression that we currently have to offer with a recent study in the BMJ One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, this is understandable. But things have moved on a great…

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E Jean Carroll says she received death threats after accusing Trump of rape

Exclusive: advice columnist says for the first time in her life she has bullets loaded into the handgun in her bedroom E Jean Carroll, the esteemed New York journalist who has alleged Donald Trump raped her in the Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan in the 1990s, now sleeps with a loaded gun by her bed having received online death threats. In the course of a two-hour interview with the Guardian in her upstate New York cabin, the advice columnist described the fallout of her decision to go public last…

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The rise of Big Sperm: does the tech world have the answer to our semen crisis?

Sperm counts in western men are falling, and nobody is sure why. But relax because help is here, with everything from home-testing kits to sperm-freezing Lads, lads, lads, hate to interrupt, but hows your ejaculate? Would you struggle to fill half a teaspoon? And your concentration, please: are we talking 20m-plus little swimmers a millilitre? And hows that motility? Are your spermatozoa wagging their flagella as if they cant wait to get to that ovum or listlessly floating around like dead tadpoles in a poorly executed classroom experiment? Its not…

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Row as lesbian group asked to leave National Theatre bar

Women claim staff did not like the T-shirts we are wearing but NT says the action was a result of a series of disturbances The National Theatre has become embroiled in a bitter war of words after a group of lesbians was refused service in its Green Room bar in the run-up to Londons Pride celebrations. The women and their supporters claim their treatment at the hands of staff, who called the police, was a response to their campaigning stance in the gender-identity dispute. Other witnesses in the bar have…

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The invention of Essex: how a county became a caricature

The long read: From Loadsamoney and Basildon man to Towie and Brexit Essex has long been held up as both the authentic England and the crudest, stupidest symbol of Englishness As a child growing up in the 80s and 90s in Southend, a sprawling seaside town in south-east Essex, I noticed that people on TV often laughed at the very word Essex. Some years later, in 2016, my wife, Hayley, crossed the border into Albania from Montenegro while travelling with an old friend who, like us, grew up in the…

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‘I wanted sex on my terms, and it was’: readers on the joy of losing your virginity in your 30s

Our article about later-in-life virgins generated a huge response much of it from readers who had finally found love, or started having sex, in their 30s or later. From the woman who lost her virginity six months ago, to the thirtysomething who no longer feels alone, here is what you told us When Preeta vaginismus which the NHS describes as the bodys automatic reaction to the fear of vaginal penetration. Their marriage lasted 10 years; Sarah eventually left her husband, whom she came to see as a bully. She subsequently…

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Sexism, slander, hatred: Sri Lankas culture of online abuse

From politicians to members of the LGBTQI community, social media in Sri Lanka is a hotbed of harassment and hostility The threats began after Jegatheeswaram Jeyachandrika decided to contest local government elections. Clutching a file of printouts, Meena, as she is known, points to a Facebook post in which she is pictured, circled in red, among a group of people. We opened some new shops that day, part of a collective project, she says. This post implies that Im the mistress of one of the ministers in the photo. That…

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Romance novelists pledge to confront abortion ‘taboo’ after Alabama ban

State senates near-total abortion ban prompts demand for genre to treat issue as a normal part of life, not a moral lesson Dip into the fast-moving world of romantic fiction and it quickly becomes clear that very few of the fictional couples Alabamas state senate passed a near-total ban on abortion, writers are asking themselves why none of these heroines ever considers termination. According to the Guttmacher Institute, an organisation promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights, its a common experience for women in the US, with an abortion by…

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Why we are addicted to conspiracy theories

The long read: Outsiders and the disenfranchised have always embraced the existence of wild plots and cover-ups. But now the biggest conspiracy-mongers are in charge In January 2015, I spent the longest, queasiest week of my life on a cruise ship filled with conspiracy theorists. As our boat rattled toward Mexico and back, I heard about every wild plot, secret plan and dark cover-up imaginable. It was mostly fascinating, occasionally exasperating and the cause of a headache that took months to fade. To my pleasant surprise, given that I was…

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Anti-vaxxers are taking populism to a new, deadly level | Gaby Hinsliff

A distrust of elites and expertise is now becoming a public health crisis, says Guardian columnist Gaby Hinsliff The two men rode into the village on a motorbike, eyewitnesses said, and opened fire. They left one woman dead and another injured, and a trail of fear in their wake. Both women were vaccination workers trying to repeatedly been attacked amid rumours, gather intelligence. In Nigeria, too, the extremist group Boko Haram has murdered vaccination workers, attempting to frighten families out of having their babies protected. British parents dont know how…

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Student who carried heart in backpack dies from transplant complications

Rebecca Henderson, 24, was believed to be only person in world with total artificial heart as treatment for heart cancer A woman who carried her artificial heart in a backpack after her own was removed has died due to transplant complications. Rebecca Henderson, 24, from Bicester, Oxfordshire, had her entire heart removed and replaced with a total artificial heart (TAH) last year, after being diagnosed with grade 3 heart cancer in 2017. She was put on the heart transplant list in January after scans showed she had been cancer-free for…

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Salesforce CEO: tech billionaires ‘hoard their money’ and won’t help homeless

In Guardian interview, Marc Benioff calls out Twitters Jack Dorsey and others for failing to give back to city where they got rich Marc Benioff, the Salesforce CEO, has escalated his attacks on fellow San Francisco billionaires, saying they are hoarding money and dont want to help the homeless. In an interview with the Guardian on Tuesday, the tech entrepreneur intensified his efforts to call out ultra-wealthy business leaders has caused divides in the tech industry, which has typically been resistance to taxes that could income inequality. The CEOs unusual…

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Blood, spit and swabs: can you trust home medical-testing kits?

Is posting off your bodily fluids to a DIY health-testing company the future of healthcare or just too much information? On a dark February morning, I wake grainy with sleep and head to the kitchen. Before making toast or coffee, I unscrew the cap from a tiny test tube and spit into it. Over and over, but its surprisingly difficult to fill up a whole vial. It takes 10 minutes before my frothy deposit reaches the marked minimum line. My housemate sips her coffee. Are you ill? she asks. No,…

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