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Posts tagged ‘South Africa’

Second HIV Baby in Study Free of Virus.


Two children with HIV who were treated immediately after birth have no signs of the virus 9 and 23 months later, scientists said in a report that suggests a potential approach to curing HIV-infected babies.

The findings from the two children are spurring doctors in Canada, South Africa and the U.S. to try to replicate the results, and spawned a study in 54 babies, the researchers said yesterday.

The research suggests that deploying drugs early in life may help keep the virus from gaining a foothold. The importance of such a result is clear: More than 260,000 children were infected globally with HIV in 2012, either at birth or through breastfeeding.

While the early findings are promising, a final step is needed before determining that a cure is at hand, said Deborah Persaud, an associate professor of infectious diseases at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

“The only way we can prove that we’ve accomplished remission in these kids is taking them off treatment, and that’s not without risks,” Persaud, who was involved in the research on both babies, said in an interview yesterday at a medical meeting on infectious disease held in Boston.

While the latest HIV drugs can keep the virus in check, they don’t eliminate it from hidden reservoirs deep within the body. The drugs are taken for a lifetime and patients often have to cycle among different medicines to offset the disease’s ability to become resistant.

Los Angeles Baby

Persaud presented results yesterday from a child born last year in Los Angeles County. The baby began treatment with anti- HIV drugs four hours after being born and still has no trace of the virus in its blood, Persaud said. The baby remains on treatment, and there’s no immediate plan to stop the medicine to see whether the virus rebounds, she said.

The previous child, born in Mississippi, was cleared of the virus with a similar approach a year ago, and remains HIV-free 23 months after ceasing treatment, according to Persaud, who presented her report yesterday at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections.

Inspired by the Mississippi baby, doctors in Canada are now seeking to repeat the result in five newborns, and three babies in South Africa are also receiving medicines in an effort to cure them. Within the next few months, researchers also plan to start a trial in 54 children to test whether the approach can be repeated on a larger scale, Persaud said.

That larger study will start infected infants on treatment within 48 hours of birth, then take them off drugs two years later to see whether the virus rebounds.

Drug Combination

The babies will receive a three-drug combination of zidovudine and lamivudine, two now-generic medicines developed by GlaxoSmithKline Plc, and nevirapine, a treatment from Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH that has also lost patent protection.

The cases involving the two infants build on increasing evidence about approaches to curing a disease doctors once thought an insurmountable challenge.

To date, the only adult to have been cured of the virus is Timothy Ray Brown, the so-called Berlin patient. Brown has been clear of the virus since having a bone marrow transplant for leukemia in 2007 from a donor with a rare mutation to a gene called CCR5 that keeps HIV at bay without the aid of antiretroviral drugs.

While the case proves that HIV can be cured, bone marrow transplants are too expensive and dangerous to make them practical on a mass scale.

Sangamo Biosciences Inc. is trying to mimic the CCR5 mutation with a gene-altering technology. In a study published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers led by Carl June at the University of Pennsylvania infused 12 patients with Richmond, California-based Sangamo’s SB-728-T, an experimental treatment that changes CCR5.

While the trial was designed to assess the product’s safety, not its efficacy, it found that the treatment was associated with a drop in the amount of virus in some patients who were taken off their regular anti-AIDS drugs.

 

© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Bernanke: Fed Could Have Done More During Crisis.


Image: Bernanke: Fed Could Have Done More During Crisis

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the U.S. central bank could have done more to fight the country’s financial crisis and that he struggled to find the right way to communicate with markets.”We could have done some things on the margin to mitigate somewhat the crisis,” Bernanke, 60, said on Tuesday in his first public speaking engagement since he stepped down in January after eight years heading the Fed.

“Although we have been very aggressive, I think on the monetary policy front we could have been even more aggressive.”

Editor’s Note: Secret Wall Street Calendar Uses Strange ‘Crash Alert System,’ Gets 18.79% Annual Returns

Bernanke said he could now speak more freely about the crisis than he could while at the Fed — “I can say whatever I want” — and in remarks to over 1,000 bankers and financial professionals in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, he made clear that he had regrets.

The United States became “overconfident”, he said of the period before the September 2008 collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers. That triggered a crash from which parts of the world, including the U.S. economy, have not fully recovered.

“This is going to sound very obvious but the first thing we learned is that the U.S. is not invulnerable to financial crises,” Bernanke said.

As the Fed provided tens of billions of dollars of emergency aid to the U.S. financial system, Bernanke said he felt the central bank was in a “terrible” political situation because it could be accused of bailing out institutions unfairly.

He also said he found it hard to find the right way to communicate with investors when every word was closely scrutinized.

“That was actually very hard for me to get adjusted to that situation where your words have such effect. I came from the academic background and I was used to making hypothetical examples and … I learned I can’t do that because the markets do not understand hypotheticals.”

He concluded that he should “try to simplify the message, but not simplify too much”.

Ultimately, Bernanke said, he wished the U.S. economy could have recovered faster but “we did good in a very complicated situation and in a very complex political situation, and the result is what it is.”

Bernanke received at least $250,000 for his appearance at the financial conference staged by National Bank of Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s largest bank, according to sources familiar the matter. NBAD did not announce the fee.

Because of Abu Dhabi’s oil wealth, state-controlled NBAD prospered during the global crisis caused by Lehman’s collapse, taking market share from hard-hit U.S. and European banks.

Bernanke’s speaking fee is similar to one received by his predecessor Alan Greenspan for an Abu Dhabi speaking engagement in 2008, the sources said.

Greenspan embarked on a series of lucrative speeches after he stepped down, and Bernanke now appears to be doing the same. He is scheduled to speak at an event in South Africa on Wednesday and in Houston on Friday.

Another former heavyweight in U.S. economic policy, ex-Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, spoke at the Abu Dhabi event and criticized some aspects of Fed policy under Bernanke, although he acknowledged that policy needed to be expansionary.

Ultra-loose monetary policy, known as quantitative easing, has diminished returns in the economy and there is concern about the way the impact of low interest rates is being transmitted through the economy, Summers said.

Bernanke, looking relaxed in a grey suit and tie, said that after stepping down, he would write more about his experiences in the crisis to explain his side of the story. “For the future, I’m in a mode of reflection.”

Editor’s Note: Secret Wall Street Calendar Uses Strange ‘Crash Alert System,’ Gets 18.79% Annual Returns

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Report: US Press Freedom Declines Under Obama.


Image: Report: US Press Freedom Declines Under Obama

By Melissa Clyne

Freedom of the press in the United States has plunged during the Obama administration, according to the 2014 Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index.

“The U.S. under President Obama, who once promised to run the ‘most transparent’ administration in the country’s history, fell from 32nd to 46th in the 2014 World Press Freedom Index, a drop of 13 slots,” The Washington Times reports.

The report reviews the state of media freedoms in 180 countries. Major declines occurred in the United States, the Central African Republic, and Guatemala, while marked improvements took place in Ecuador, Bolivia, and South Africa, according to the index compiled by the press advocacy group.

Finland, the Netherlands, and Norway continue to lead the index for press freedoms and government openness, while Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea “continue to be the biggest information black holes, again occupying the last three positions.” Syria also ranked near the bottom.

The rating was based on seven criteria: the level of abuses, the extent of pluralism, media independence, the environment and self-censorship, the legislative framework, transparency, and infrastructure, according to Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Christophe Deloire.

“It makes governments face their responsibilities by providing civil society with an objective measure, and provides international bodies with a good governance indicator to guide their decisions,” Deloire said in a statement.

The report cited the handling of three events as major contributors to the declining rating for reporter freedoms the United States, according to The Washington Times.

• Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosure of top secret information related to U.S. spying programs;

• Army Pvt. Bradley Manning’s leak of classified documents to WikiLeaks;

• The Justice Department’s handling of a probe of The Associated Press and other media organizations suspected of receiving leaked data.

Freedom of the press is increasingly under siege as governments around the globe are targeting journalists — to get to their sources and those people who leak sensitive information, according to the report.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

What Mandela Wrote In His Will…ANC, Staff, Family On High Priority.


 

Late South African President, Nelson Mandela
By SaharaReporters, New York

Widespread international curiosity about the will of late former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela ended on Monday afternoon, when the document was read to members of the icon’s immediate family and was also made public.

As read by Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, Mandela willed his $4.1 million estate to family members, the ruling African National Congress (ANC), his former staff and a number of local schools.

His third and last wife whom he married on his 80th birthday in 1998, Graca Machel will have half the estate under South African marital law; and although she has yet to make a decision, she is entitled to relinquishing her claims in favour of specified assets, such as properties in Mozambique, her native country. She has 90 days to decide

A part of the estate would be split among The Mandela Trust, The Nelson Mandela Trust, and The NRM Family Trust. The NRM Family Trust, which was set up to cater to his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren numbering more than 30, gets R1.5million.

Each of his children, as well as some of his grand-children, will receive $300,000; while his grand children — the ones sired by his late son Makgatho — have been willed the posh house in Johannesburg, where he has mostly lived since his release from prison in 1990.

Executed by Mandela on 12th October 2004 with a first Codicil on 7th September 2005 and a second on 9th September 2008, the will could see ANC receive a portion of his royalties from books and other commercial outlets produced with his name and image. Mandela’s staff — even up to his personal assistant of many decades, Zelda Le Grange — will get R50,000 each.

Mandela’s personal chef, Xoliswa Ndoyiya could not contain her joy. “It really makes me happy”, she said. “I didn’t think Tata [a native term for father] was thinking of leaving something for me”.

Wits University, Qunu Secondary School and Orlando West High School in Soweto were bequeathed R100 000 each.

Although the revered statesman’s family is known to be notoriously discordant, Moseneke, after reading the will on Monday, denied potential uproar over the provisional R46,000,000 estate but admitted that the mood at the will-reading was charged with emotion.

“I am not aware of any contest of any type and the will has been duly lodged and accepted”, Moseneke said.

Also part of the estate are a high-class house in Houghton, a modest one in Qunu as well as royalties from the sale of books, such as his famous autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom”, which some of his grandchildren have begun exploiting with a line of caps and sweatshirts featuring his image under the brand book’s brands. Also two of his granddaughters based in the United States have already starred in Being Mandela, a reality television show.

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Hard Knocks of Death By Somefun Oluwasegun Ayokunle.


So, Death comes to every man. There is no escaping it. It can only dillydally. This enigma! Good or bad, all meet the same end. They transit to the checkpoint of afterlife. Maybe we should take a break, most shy away from this stop. In irony, every man moves in the way of this path. Soon at the line’s end, they join the choir invisible.

Early this soon ending year, a popular and famous Nigerian writer went ever silent to this plane. This man’s writings saw him as one who was anti the Nigerian political and societal structure of leadership. His first widely published book, “Things Fall Apart” shot him into worldview. Immediately he left for his sole journey. Tributes poured in. He had just published his latest book, “There was a Country.”

To Nigerians, there was a man. His name was “Albert Chinuamulogu Achebe.” Death took him out swiftly with no protest or resistance.

This past week, Angel Death took us back memory lane, that it was still actively involved in its daily business of  taking lives when the bodies containing them have used up their time. Death performed an unexpected but expected move. It checked out a one-time president of the South Africa. The man was a source of inspiration to many. He was an icon, reported to have been the only living legend. He had a Noble Peace Prize to his feathers. He sacrificed an important part of his life in the fight for racial and humane equality for his country. He helped restore the once hellish torn country into a sense of paradise. This man as the reader should know was “Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.”

You must have seen the respect and tribute that poured in from uncountable sources especially from movers and shakers of economies and nations around the known world. Again, it all boils down to this sentence, “It is what a man has done that will speak for him when he has left the shores of this world to the place of no return.”

Daily, famous and unknown people die. The rich and poor die. Death respects nobody. It comes down hard.

What is the focus?

There are people who consider themselves with power, with influence, yet they have maybe forgotten that one day Death will knock them down on a cold ground with no help. Their money will be useless. Cabals in and out of the government, in and out of religion that move about as if they own the Nigeria and their soul will die. Their maker will take his breath from them. Less than a month, most would have forgotten they ever existed. They will become a memory gone awry.

Stepping into the plane of time with no end, many will realise that there is no second chance. That the issues they involved themselves in the world’s Hall of Fame on their test run life was petty compared with attention to Life. For those that belong to the Hall of Fame of the Sons of God, they shall awake in Life alike with God, their Father.

At the end, its only one life man knows. When Angel Death brings its hard knocks down on man, it is all a matter of how well you have lived in response to God’s benchmark. For the writer, man only exceeds this mark when he is in Christ and Christ is in him.

You may disagree.

Somefun Oluwasegun Ayokunle is a student of Electrical/Electronics Engineering from the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA).

You can follow him at
Twitter:@Oluwaegunsomef
Blog: http://samoluexpress.co.uk
Mail: oluwasegun.somefun@yahoo.co.uk

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Israeli Ministers Blast Kerry over Boycott Remark.


Secretary of State John Kerry came under further attack Monday by Israeli hawks who accuse him of manipulating the threat of an economic boycott to pressure Israel into peace concessions.

The latest war of words between the two allies erupted Saturday after Kerry warned that Israel was facing a growing campaign of delegitimization which would likely worsen if peace talks with the Palestinians collapsed.

Washington’s top diplomat also referred to “talk of boycotts” of Israel.

Editor’s Note: New ‘Obamacare Survival Guide’ Reveals Dangers Ahead for Your Healthcare

A growing number of governments and businesses have recently said they will not trade with Israeli firms with ties to Jewish settlements, highlighting the creeping success of a Palestinian-led boycott campaign.

The so-called BDS movement — boycott, divestment and sanctions — works to convince governments, businesses and celebrities to cut ties with Israeli companies active in the occupied Palestinian territories, in a bid to repeat the success of the boycott which ended apartheid in South Africa.

Hardliners in the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were quick to lash out at Kerry.

One described his remarks as “offensive” and another accused him of working “to amplify” the boycott threat, prompting a terse statement from Washington urging Kerry’s critics to get their facts straight.

But there was no sign they were backing down on Monday.

“It is sad to see that the US administration does not understand the reality of the Middle East and exerts pressure on the wrong side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said Gilad Erdan, Minister for Home Front Defence and a close associate of Netanyahu.

“I would have liked John Kerry to explain to (Palestinian president) Mahmud Abbas what is likely to happen if he continues to refuse to make peace,” he told public radio.

Housing Minister Uri Ariel of the far-right Jewish Home party, which opposes a two-state solution to the conflict, told army radio that in raising the threat of a boycott, Kerry was not being “an honest broker” in the negotiations.

Since January 1, the European Union has blocked all grants and funding to Israeli entities operating beyond the pre-1967 war lines, sparking growing alarm in Israel.

Netanyahu has called “hypocritical” the EU’s firm position against Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.

On Sunday the prime minister took an indirect swipe at Kerry, saying attempts to boycott Israel were “immoral and unjust” and that he would not bow to pressure in the negotiations.

“No pressure will cause me to concede the vital interests of the State of Israel, especially the security of Israel’s citizens. For both of these reasons, threats to boycott the State of Israel will not achieve their goal.”

Earlier Sunday, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz lashed out at Kerry, calling his remarks “offensive, unfair and intolerable,” and said Israel would could not be expected “to negotiate with a gun at its head while it discusses issues critical to its diplomatic and security interests.”

And on Saturday, Economy Minister and Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett said Israel would not “give its country up over economic threats” and that it expected its allies “to stand by our side in the face of the anti-Semitic boycott attempts, not amplify them.”

But US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki hit back saying Kerry had demonstrated “staunch opposition to boycotts” and his remarks in Munich had merely “described some well-known and previously stated facts about what is at stake for both sides if this process fails.”

“His only reference to a boycott was a description of actions undertaken by others that he has always opposed,” she said, suggesting his critics make efforts to “accurately portray his record and statements.”

Editor’s Note: New ‘Obamacare Survival Guide’ Reveals Dangers Ahead for Your Healthcare

© AFP 2014
Source: Newsmax.com

When Will We Have Our Own Mandela? By Orobosa Toks Ero.


 

That former South African President and the true face of anti-apartheid struggle, Nelson Mandela has left us is a stale story. But the lessons from his life will remain eternal. In our clime for instance, the lessons stare us in the face on a daily basis as the political gladiators conduct themselves in a manner that arouse in us that strong desire and longing for a man of strong character, robust political stature and selfless leader as the Madiba, as he was fondly called. Mandela’s life was inspiring; he was Africa’s great revolutionist and prime human rights activist; he put his people first and self last. He chose to eat the bread of sorrow and drink the water of affliction that his people might live in freedom and prosperity. In our country, the reverse is the case. Here, the poor masses cut their coats according to their cloths, usually inadequate, while our leaders cut theirs according to their bloated sizes. While we tighten our belts due to the harsh economic policies foisted on us, the custodians of our commonwealth stretch theirs to accommodate their rotund frame. The Mandela we knew never did that. He was conscious of the verdict of history.

In the preceding months before his demise, many who had deified the man including members of his family wished that this enigma of a man would never go the way of all mortals. But who would blame them? Nelson Mandela, more than any other African either living or dead, at least in this century, contributed immensely to making his world a much better place than he met it by giving up himself as a sacrificial lamb that his world would know peace, progress and prosperity. Lucky South Africans! Nelson Mandela knew from when he became conscious of his society that he had to do something to free his people from the shackles of oppression and a satanic apartheid system of government, which made one race superior to another, and conferred undue advantage upon the white minority over the black population who were in the majority and owned the land.

For this, he denied himself the comfort the royalty of his birth and a legal practice that afforded him a life of comfort, to join forces with the African National Congress to fight apartheid and its many devils. In the 1960s, he was amongst the first to advocate armed struggle against the obnoxious apartheid regime which according to him, had blatantly refused to hear or listen to the voice of reason, but had continued to unleash and inflict upon his people pain and anguish while depriving them of the fruits of the land.

In 1961, he went underground to form ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (the spear of the nation) under whose umbrella the ANC carried out attacks on government institutions and installations, and in 1963 he was charged with capital offences at the Rivonia Trial. His statement from the dock was his political testimony and a summary of his life-long struggle against oppression and tyranny in South Africa –

“I have cherished the ideals of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in free society, in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Nelson Mandela and his companions were imprisoned for life in 1964 at the Robben Island, and for 27 years; he remained behind bars undeterred, unbroken, and courageously refusing to bow to pressures from his oppressors who applied everything in the books to blur his vision of a free South Africa where all men and women, regardless of race, would live free of worry, fear and deprivation. Rather, he looked the South African Pharaohs eye ball to eye ball and said “Let my people go” that their human dignity might be preserved.

But there was something different about Nelson Mandela – something that stood him out from the crowd of past or nascent leaders in the continent of Africa. Nigeria is not excluded. The polity is under intense heat presently because our politicians have their eyes on the next political dispensation even when they are yet to creditably acquit themselves in the offices they currently hold. The ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and the emerging All Progressives Congress, APC, both two sides of the same coin, are flexing political muscles not because they have the interest of the masses at heart, but because they want to capture power to corner the wealth of the nation to satisfy their greed.

Mandela was different. Power, to him, was not a do-or-die affair but service to the people. To him, it was not an inheritance neither was it a reward for his 27 tortuous years in prison. He presented himself as a lamb for sacrifice that his people may enjoy lasting peace, freedom and prosperity in the land which even though rightly belongs to them, yet were enslaved by foreign conquerors. Can it happen in Nigeria? In not too distant past, we had a president who had ruled for almost 4 years as a military officer and spent two terms of eight years in office as a civilian and before the end of that tenure, was scheming for a third term!

There are lessons in selflessness our leaders and our politicians and others who aspire to lead us, must learn. Mandela was not an opportunist. He was also not without hope of a great future. He had the benefit of a good education and royalty. But for the love of humanity and his people, this global citizen gave up everything that was dear to him – his family, children and the companionship of a pretty wife, Winnie, for the struggle. And in the process, he abdicated his responsibilities as a father and husband and more importantly, he gave up a thriving legal practice thus putting paid to a future of assured bliss and comfort in his chosen career. This is an example in selfless leadership not seen in these parts.

Nelson Mandela can truly be said to be a metaphor for courage which is in short supply in our clime.  He looked at fear straight in the eye and never blinked first.

One thing that marked Nelson Mandela out amongst mere mortals was that he had a heart that forgave. This is absolutely remarkable. Indeed, many still wonder what manner of man he was. For a man who was deliberately subjected to so much humiliation, deprivation and pain to, after 27 long years, come out and embrace his jailors, without any show of bitterness, to many, was out of this world! It was simply unimaginable that he would tell his traducers “go and sin no more” or better still: “Father, I forgive them because they didn’t know what they were doing”, when he was in a position to take his pound of flesh. But in his humility and large-heartedness, he said in retrospect: “as I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison”. Can you beat that?

In our own dear country, an Abacha will send you to jail on a phantom coup plot; an Obasanjo will haul corruption allegations at you and send the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, after you, while a President Jonathan will rake up enough trouble to keep you busy. Yet, regardless of these enigmatic qualities, Nelson Mandela was mortal and so he has gone the way of mortals. He had his own foibles and downtimes, and as he said: “do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again”. But he conquered the world.

The lessons from Nelson Mandela’s life are very clear – as leaders and followers, we must learn to make a sacrifice for a good and noble cause; we must be courageous in confronting evil even at the expense of our freedom, our lives, comfort and personal dignities. We must conquer fear because as one-time American President, F.D Roosevelt posited, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. And we must learn to forgive because to forgive is not just divine but puts you at peace with the world and at the end of the day, you are the ultimate winner in any battle. All the eulogies and accolades on Mandela were therefore not misplaced.

Now, back to the question “When will we have our own Mandela?” It looks to me a tall dream. Or what do you think?

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

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