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Tough choices ahead in Ebola vaccine trials

first_imgWhen Ripley Ballou came to a Geneva, Switzerland, meeting about Ebola vaccines last week, he had a tough message to sell. In the efficacy tests for such vaccines that may start in West Africa in a few months, half of the volunteers should randomly be assigned into a control arm, Ballou argued—a group of people at risk of becoming infected who would not receive an experimental Ebola vaccine. Instead, they would serve as so-called active controls and be injected with other, approved vaccines, for instance against hepatitis B or pneumococcal disease. That would be the fastest way to know whether the Ebola vaccines work and can be deployed widely, Ballou said—and thus potentially save the most lives.It was a controversial opinion. Health care workers at the front lines of Ebola, who will serve as the target group in the first efficacy tests, are so vulnerable that giving them anything other than the experimental vaccine seems inhumane and could create tensions, some contended. “Going into this meeting, we were told the idea of a controlled trial … was not going to be acceptable,” says Ballou, who heads the crash program to develop an Ebola vaccine at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in Rixensart, Belgium.Indeed, Ballou didn’t win everyone over in his talk at the meeting, which took place on 29 and 30 September at the headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO). Representatives of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) were strongly opposed to giving trial participants anything other than an actual Ebola vaccine candidate—and they didn’t change their minds. “The meeting was quite tense at moments,” says Marie-Paule Kieny, a WHO assistant director-general and vaccine expert.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)But many scientists did leave the meeting convinced that the randomized, controlled design proposed by Ballou should be used, as hard as it may be to explain, because it will be the fastest way to know if the vaccine works. “The attendees had a strong sense that there was no time to waste,” especially after they were given an update on the situation in West Africa, Kieny says. “I was expecting more controversy.” Looking back, “we basically said what people thought needed to be said but were afraid to say,” Ballou says.The GSK vaccine only went into a human for the first time on 2 September, in a phase I trial that will involve a few hundred volunteers not at risk of infection. If the vaccine proves safe and triggers the kind of immune responses that monkey studies suggest confer protection, some 10,000 or so doses will ship to the three most affected countries in West Africa by January.The compound, which GSK has developed in collaboration with the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), is one of two vaccine candidates that may soon enter real-world efficacy trials; the other was developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada and is produced by NewLink Genetics in Ames, Iowa.It’s an extraordinary, unprecedented gamble to move so quickly. Normally, vaccines take many years to advance from small phase I studies, which look at safety and immune responses; to phase II studies, which do the same in larger groups; to phase III, in which efficacy is tested in large populations at risk of the disease. An earlier WHO consultation made the startling announcement on 5 September that this crisis required compressing the timeline, which effectively does away with traditional phase III studies.At last week’s meeting, vaccinemakers, researchers, ethicists, clinicians, epidemiologists, statisticians, and representatives of the affected countries met to sort through thorny ethical and statistical issues about how to design the efficacy trials in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea—the three countries ravaged by Ebola.The meeting participants roundly agreed that it did not make sense to just give the experimental vaccines to health care workers on a so-called compassionate use basis and without an efficacy trial, as has happened with experimental Ebola treatments such as ZMapp and TKM-Ebola; that strategy is simply too dangerous with a vaccine, which goes into healthy people. “The last thing you want to do is roll out a vaccine that does nothing to protect people or even harms them,” says Marylyn Addo, an expert on emerging infections at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany who attended the meeting. An actual trial is needed, the meeting concluded; it’s the setup that’s subject to debate.The tried-and-true design of vaccine efficacy trials randomly assigns half of the participants to receive the experimental shot and the other half a dummy, or placebo. No one knows what they receive, and the vaccine works if more people in the control arm develop disease than those who got the actual vaccine. Before the meeting, many researchers felt that this design would be unethical, knowing that health care workers are at considerable risk and Ebola is so often fatal. The same was true for a variation on this scheme, which replaced the placebo with an active control that would at least protect participants against another virus, if not Ebola.The leading alternative is a design known as step-wedge, which essentially uses time to create a control group. In this design, researchers take advantage of the inescapable reality that large-scale trials can’t give everyone the vaccine on the exact same date; they compare the rates of infection in people already vaccinated with those who have yet to receive the shots. Barney Graham, a virologist at NIAID in Bethesda, Maryland, who attended the meeting, says “people are more comfortable” with the step-wedge design, because everyone in such a study would get the Ebola vaccine.But statistically speaking, this design makes it more difficult to determine the vaccine’s worth, and it takes longer, Ballou explained in Geneva. The most practical way to do a step-wedge study is to randomize the sequence of vaccine distribution to, for instance, different Ebola treatment units. But researchers still have to observe the different communities for the same amount of time. A step-wedge trial also makes it more difficult to control for biases like differences in rates of new infection, behavior, and availability of protection suits.Most meeting participants found themselves in agreement, says Ira Longini, a biostatistician from the University of Florida in Gainesville, who came to the meeting expressly to present a talk on the step-wedge design. “I worked a lot of that up, but my talk was after [Ballou’s], and I had to modify it quite a bit because I suddenly saw a real double-blinded trial with another vaccine as the control was the way to go,” Longini says. “I think the first day of the meeting things evolved quite differently than many people expected.”Ballou described a randomized study in which 2500 people would receive the vaccine and 2500 an active control. He stressed that his team at GSK had many unknowns to wrestle with, including health care workers’ infection risk—which they estimated at 10% per year spent in contact with Ebola patients. Assuming that’s correct and that the vaccine works at least 80% of the time, researchers could be “absolutely confident” about efficacy after 30 infections and within 3 months, Ballou says. A vaccine that had 60% efficacy could still yield an answer with fewer than 60 infections.“Rip’s study made sense,” WHO’s Kieny says. “There was a broad agreement that [such a trial] would get a definitive result much sooner.” Discussions will now start with affected countries to see where the trial might be feasible, she says.But MSF representatives remain unconvinced. “Studies on efficacy in affected countries and more so in at-risk populations should not have a placebo or active control arm as this cannot be defended ethically,” says Annick Antierens, a meeting attendee who oversees experimental Ebola products for MSF. Antierens says MSF would support other Ebola vaccine efficacy trials designs, but would not specify which ones. “It is not up to MSF to decide exactly what design should be used, as this will depend on the setting and the situation at the time of the trial,” she says.Jeremy Farrar, an infectious disease researcher who heads the Wellcome Trust research charity in London, thinks a randomized, controlled trial is ethical for the simple reason that no one really knows whether the vaccine will offer protection. But he questions whether it will be acceptable to participants at high risk of contracting Ebola. “If you were there tomorrow and you were a health care worker, would you be willing to be in a control arm, when the next 3 months you will be looking after patients with Ebola?” he asks. A step-wedge trial would avoid that problem, Farrar says. “I don’t want us to have months of discussions about the best way of handling this.”There may be a way around the debate. GSK has predicted that by January it will have at least 10,000 doses of its vaccine—an Ebola surface protein gene stitched inside a harmless chimpanzee adenovirus—which means that even if the randomized, controlled studies are done, there may be enough for less rigorous designs such as the step-wedge trial. “I would do all these trials simultaneously,” Longini says. The meeting also discussed doing randomized, controlled trials in African countries that are not affected, and in special populations, such as children and HIV-infected people, to gather more data about safety and immune responses.If everything goes according to plan, Kieny says, a phase III trial could reveal as soon as April whether the GSK vaccine works. The other candidate vaccine, produced by NewLink Genetics, is lagging behind. It has faced several delays, and some have accused the company of dragging its feet, but human studies will likely start by the end of the month. NewLink is looking for a major corporate partner to move the vaccine forward. “I think that would be a big help,” Kieny says.An earlier WHO consultation recommended that if vaccine supplies are limited, efficacy trials should first recruit volunteers from health care workers, as they both are at high risk and provide a critical service to society to help combat the epidemic. That doesn’t just mean doctors and nurses. “An interesting outcome of the meeting is we stopped talking about health care worker and started talking about front-line care giver,” Ballou says. “It’s from the doctor to the person cleaning the ward to the gravedigger.”The trials will work best if they enroll volunteers who are affiliated with a specialized Ebola treatment facility rather than general clinics or private practices. “You have to be able to recruit them and follow them, and the farther you get away from a treatment facility, the harder that’s going to be,” Ballou says. (The safety trial for the vesicular stomatitis virus vaccine in Geneva will also recruit health care workers who eventually are going to the affected region.)Conditions for the trials will be far more difficult than those vaccine researchers usually deal with. The health care systems in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea are crippled; potential participants may be wary of an experimental product made by foreigners; ethical reviews may be hard to perform locally; and security could become be a problem, Ballou says. “The thing I’m really worried about,” he says, “is we have a great plan and we may have a great vaccine and, at end of day, we may not be able to do the trial.”*The Ebola Files: Given the current Ebola outbreak, unprecedented in terms of number of people killed and rapid geographic spread, Science and Science Translational Medicine have made a collection of research and news articles on the viral disease freely available to researchers and the general public.last_img read more

Flyers Ground The Devils, 4-1

first_imgPHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Flyers opened a crucial homestand needing wins any way they could get them. A variety pack of goals was the perfect way to start.Matt Read and Sean Couturier each had a goal and an assist to lead the Flyers to a 4-1 win over the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 11.The Flyers scored short-handed, on the power play, even strength, and into an empty net. Wayne Simmonds scored the power-play goal, and Jakub Voracek added the empty-netter to seal the win.The Flyers earned the win after dropping four of five on the road. Three of the four losses were by one goal. They have dropped to the bottom portion of the Eastern Conference and need to make the most of the four-game homestand to jump back into postseason contention.“It’s huge, especially if we want to stay in the playoff race,” Couturier said.They got an unexpected lift from Read, who has only three goals and seven assists in 28 games. He had one of each in the first period, giving the Flyers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.“I just keep shooting pucks, getting in front of the net, getting in the hard areas,” Read said. “Things kind of bounced my way tonight.”With Steve Mason 0-5 against the Devils, Ray Emery got the start for the Flyers. Emery was 0-4 with a 4.12 GAA in his last four starts. But he was hardly tested with 17 saves against the Devils for his fifth win of the season — matching Mason’s total in eight fewer games.Emery improved his career record against New Jersey to 8-4-0-2 with a 1.78 GAA.Not even the return of leading goal scorer Mike Cammalleri (11) could spark the Devils. Cammalleri returned after missing two games with a strained gluteus muscle. “Maybe we’ve got to get a little greasier, get to the net and find ways to get a little of the sandpaper to our game around the net,” he said.The Flyers scored first on perhaps one of the unlikeliest of scenarios for a team that has struggled as much as any playing short-handed. The Devils had been spectacular of late, killing 44 of 49 power plays against during the last 14 games.But with the Devils down a player early in the first, Couturier scored his sixth goal for Philadelphia’s first short-handed goal of the season.They scored at even strength, too. Couturier blindly passed the puck in front of the net, Read pounced and stuck it past Cory Schneider for the 2-0 lead. “I just fired backdoor,” Couturier said. “Luckily, he was there.”Read scored 24 goals in the 2011-12 season and 22 last season, leaving him mystified about the cause of his season-long slump. He had his first multipoint game since April 6, 2014, against Buffalo and scored for the first time since Nov. 15.“Coot’s pass was pretty lucky, it went through about three guy’s skates and landed right on my tape,” Read said.The Flyers entered 13th in the Eastern Conference and seven points out of a playoff spot. With home games ahead against Carolina, Tampa Bay and Florida, now is the time for the Flyers to gain ground.The Devils scored their lone goal in the second when Martin Havlat scored a power-play goal for the Devils. Havlat tipped Scott Gomez’s slap shot from along the boards to cut it to 2-1.The Devils have lost two straight. “We didn’t panic with the 2-0 deficit,” said Schneider, who had 32 saves. “We stuck with it and got one on the power play, but they played pretty solid.”Simmonds’ 12th goal stretched the lead to 3-1.(DAN GELSTON, AP Sports Writer)TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more

FIFA World Cup 2018: Hazard in focus as Belgium face Panama test

first_imgChelsea playmaker Eden Hazard is in the best form of his life but Belgium need all their top players to be better than ever if they are to have any chance of winning the World Cup, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois said on Sunday.The Belgians are considered a good outside bet to lift the World Cup for the first time and start the tournament on Monday against rank outsiders Panama in Group G.Courtois said his Chelsea team mate Hazard, who scored the winning goal in the FA Cup final last month, was highly motivated.”I don’t think I’ve ever seen him train or play as amazing as in the last three games,” Courtois told reporters. “I think he has reached another level of his game.”Courtois, however, was quick to stress that no one player is going to win the World Cup and played up the new sense of spirit in a team built from what is known as Belgium’s Golden Generation.”I don’t think it is only Eden we need at his best,” the Chelsea keeper added. “I think we need Romelu (Lukaku) to score goals, for Kevin (De Bruyne) to play like at (Manchester) City. I think if you want to go far you need your players to be at their best.””I think we have the quality, we have the talent and we know each other very well. Most of us are in peak form of our football life, we feel confident. I think we are outsiders to win but we have a chance to go far and as a team we believe. We don’t want to say we will win but we have the quality to.”advertisementCoach Roberto Martinez warned fans not to expect an easy ride against Panama, even though they have scored just one goal in their last six games.”Panama are one of the stories of the World Cup, they are arriving for the first time against the odds and that is very dangerous,” Martinez said. “They have a belief and competitive nature.”It is their first game and will be their first game forever and my worry is that we don’t get affected by that. This is a game where we cannot get frustrated, we cannot expect to win quickly.”(With Reuters inputs)last_img read more

Photos: Crazy Snow At Major College Football Game Tonight

first_imgwashington and washington state are playing in the snowWhat’s better than college football rivalry games?College football rivalry games played in the snow.We have some serious weather in The Evergreen State this evening, with No. 8 Washington State hosting No. 16 Washington.Check it out:Seriously … send shovels pic.twitter.com/wdRTpkDlZT— Tim Booth (@ByTimBooth) November 24, 2018#Pac12AfterDark blizzard edition pic.twitter.com/0g5FevBzKA— Dustin Schutte (@SchutteCFB) November 24, 2018Gotta cop one of these #AppleCup themed snow globes pic.twitter.com/8D1SXMPnsg— Seattle Times Sports (@SeaTimesSports) November 24, 2018Washington is currently handling the tough better weather, as the Huskies are leading the Cougars, 14-0.The game is on FOX.last_img read more

Keerthy Suresh to work with independent filmmaker Nagesh Kukunoor

first_imgKeerthy Suresh to work with independent filmmaker Nagesh KukunoorThe Tamil-Malayalam actress in also making her debut in Bollywood with a film directed by Amit Sharam of Badhaai Ho fame.advertisement India Today Web Desk ChennaiMarch 6, 2019UPDATED: March 6, 2019 10:56 IST Keerthy Suresh and Nagesh KukunoorWith her convincing performance as iconic actress Savitri in the biopic Mahanati, Keerthy Suresh established that she is not just another heroine with a pretty face in the south. After Mahanati, the actress was seen in films like Seema Raja, Sarkar and Saamy 2, which didn’t have much scope for Keerthy to perform.Now, she has been approached by independent filmmaker Nagesh Kukunoor, who is set to direct a film on issues faced by women in the society. Keerthy seems to have given her nod to the film.Nagesh Kukunoor, an NRI, who left his high-paying job for filmmaking, has made movies like Dhanak and Hyderabad Blues. His movies have received accolades in various International Festivals.Keerthy is also making her debut in Hindi with Amit Sharma’s upcoming film. The director is well known for his movie Badhaai Ho.Ajay Devgn will be the lead in the sports drama, which is based on the life of Syed Abdul Rahim, a football coach.ALSO READ | AR Murugadoss on his film with Rajinikanth: It is NOT a political ventureALSO WATCH | Actor Vijay pays homage to Karunanidhi at Anna MemorialGet real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byP Kirubhakar Tags :Follow Keerthy Sureshlast_img read more

Michael Bastian Releases the MB Chronowing Smartwatch

first_img An Honest Review of Smartwool’s New Intraknit Base Layer 12 Best Seiko Watches for Men, From Flashy to Functional Editors’ Recommendations This All-Black Cabin is Like a Pair of Binoculars Taking in the Canadian Wilderness Word on the street this week is that Apple Watch won’t be released till early next year. So what is a well-dressed, techno geek in the holiday shopping spirit to do? Allow us to recommend the MB Chronowing by Michael Bastian, one of the best-looking smartwatches we’ve seen that combines beautiful design and total modernity without the superfluous digital bells and whistles busy professionals could actually do without.“A watch like this should provide men with quick, simple, accurate information at a glance, much like the displays and dials of a car dashboard,” explains Bastian, whose luxury lifestyle brand happens to be built on the very idea of streamlined elegance.As such, the MB Chronowing, engineered by Hewlett-Packard, features a 44-mm stainless steel case with a multi-layered finish, distinctive crown bezel bolts, a lighted chronograph, inlaid button controls, and three interchangeable watchbands in black rubber, perforated brown leather and olive nylon. The watch ($349) is also compatible with both iOS and Android devices and syncs with an app that allows users to personalize the watch interface (read: the minute you make a selection on your phone, it takes effect instantly on your watch.)Users can quickly check the time, date, weather, sports and stocks updates, but also easily control music playback and glance at text, e-mail, and social media alerts so you’re not constantly taking your phone out of your pocket to look at (something to consider if you’re all suited up in cold weather.)Fairly lightweight with automatic time-zone adjustment, 5 ATM water-resistance, and a seven-day power reserve, the MB Chronowing makes a fine impression anywhere. To celebrate the launch, Bastian also designed a limited-edition version in all-black with a genuine alligator strap, a sapphire crystal lens with anti-glare optical coating and all-black PVD plating. That $649 edition comes with a dedicated concierge line for exclusive tech support and a signature card signed by the designer. Says Bastian, “I really felt there was a need for a device that looked and felt like a stylish watch first. The smartwatch I’ve developed is just that.”Available from today exclusively on Gilt. Save Your Eyes from the Scourge of the Screens with the Best Blue-Light-Blocking Glasses for Men Cigar Humidors 101: What They Are, How They Work, and the Best Picks last_img read more

Nripendra Misra principal secretary to PM submits resignation PK Sinha appointed OSD

first_imgNew Delhi: Nripendra Misra, principal secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has expressed his intention to be relieved, said a senior government official aware of the development. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has requested Nripendra Misra to continue for two weeks,” said the official. Former cabinet secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha, a 1977 batch Uttar Pradesh-cadre IAS officer, who superannuated on Friday has been appointed the officer on special duty (OSD) in the Prime Minister’s Office. The resignation of Misra, also former Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) chairman, comes at a time when India’s GDP growth slowed down to more than a five-year low of 5% in the June quarter of 2019-20 against 5.8% in the March quarter. This is way below analysts’ expectation of economic growth at 5.7% in the June quarter. (inputs from LiveMint)last_img read more

Sweet Relief for Musicians in Need

first_img Meet O.A.R. & Receive 2 Tickets to the Concert of Your Choice. 4 Tickets to See Jeff Dunham LIVE & Recieve a Collection of Jeff Dunham Items. It has been just over 20 years since the first Sweet Relief album came out celebrating the music of founder Victoria Williams, and now Sweet Relief III: Pennies From Heaven is available for purchase.Sweet Relief III helps musicians in needThe third compilation, produced by Sheldon Gomberg, features new recordings by various artists including Ben Harper, Jackson Browne, Shelby Lynne, Victoria Williams, She & Him, Ron Sexsmith, Rickie Lee Jones and Joseph Arthur in support of Sweet Relief Musicians Fund. The fund provides financial assistance to all types of career musicians who are struggling while facing illness, disability or age-related problems.Released on Vanguard Records, each of the artists on the album chose songs with a theme of support and assistance such as “If I Needed You” (Joseph Arthur), “How Did You Find Me Here?” (KD Lang), “King of the Road” (She & Him), “Crazy Love” (Ben Harper), “Change is Gonna Come” (Victoria Williams), and “Big Spender” (Sam Phillips) plus many more.“Musicians are always among the first to give their energy and talent to help other people in times of emergency, though they are very often without health insurance themsevles, and need our support when they fall prey to illness and hardship. Sweet Relief has been helping musicians for years, and has helped some whom I am very much indebted to for enriching my life. I am very happy to take part in this CD project, and for the chance to support Sweet Relief’s very soulful work.” – Jackson Browne“Getting a chance to do something that benefits Sweet Relief combined with working with my dear friend Sheldon Comberg is an opportunity I jumped at and something I can’t wait to do again.” – Ben HarperThe compilation is available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon.com.Alongside the release, Charitybuzz is hosting an auction to help raise funds. Current auction items include: Meet Local Natives at The Greek Theatre September 13, Attend Soundcheck & the Exclusive After Show Party with the Band. Meet Gary Allan & Receive 2 Tickets to his Santa Barabra Concert on Spetember 13. Kenny Chesney Autographed Fender Acoustic Guitar,CD & Flag.Also, Upperatus and Prima Donna have partnered up in an effort to raise money for Sweet Relief Musicians Fund by selling limited-edition T-Shirts. $10 of each shirt sold goes directly to Sweet Relief and musicians in need. All shirts are inspired by the band Prima Donna and are affordable, ranging from $23-$24 each. Sweet Relief is thrilled to be a part of such an inspiring project. To purchase shirts, please go to www.upperatus.com and help support a good cause.center_img Meet Travis Tritt & Receive 2 Tickets to the 2013 Concert of Your Choice. Meet Larry the Cable Guy & Recieve 2 Tickets to the Show of Your Choice. Meet Justin Moore & Receive 2 Tickets to the 2013 Concert of Your Choice.last_img read more

Staples For Students Supports Hatch Day With Jennifer Hudson

first_imgAcademy and Grammy Award winning artist Jennifer Hudson and sister Julia Hudson help celebrate the Julian D. King Gift Foundation’s Hatch Day with support from Staples for Students and the Entertainment Industry Foundation.Jennifer and Julia HudsonCredit/Copyright: Alex GoykhmanStaples, Inc. announced that it funded 115 local classroom projects in Chicago, as part of its recent $10 million pledge to Think It Up, a new national initiative of the Entertainment Industry Foundation that seeks to inaugurate a new movement in support of students, teachers and schools, helping to create a culture of excitement about learning everywhere in America. This fall, Think It Up, in partnership with DonorsChoose.org, will launch a platform to fund student-powered, teacher-led learning projects in classrooms across the country.In addition to flash funding 115 STEM projects on DonorsChoose.org, Staples for Students and the Entertainment Industry Foundation helped fund school supplies for thousands of students in honor of Hatch Day and Jennifer’s nephew Julian D. King.“Since its inception, Hatch Day has always been about celebrating Julian and honoring his passion for learning by providing families in need with basic school supplies, allowing those children to share his love for education,” said Jennifer Hudson, co-founder with her sister Julia of the Julian D. King Gift Foundation. “I’m so grateful to Think It Up and Staples for joining us in this mission and providing essential tools to teachers and students of Chicago to excel.”Since its founding in 2000, DonorsChoose.org has helped fund more than 236,000 classroom projects for teachers and impacted more than 14 million students. Today, in Chicago, Staples fully funded every STEM project on DonorsChoose.org in the Chicago Public School District. STEM education creates critical thinkers and enables the next generation of innovators. More than $95,000 was donated to help 96 teachers fulfill classroom needs and reached 12,037 students across 59 schools in the Chicago Public School District.“We’re thrilled to fund 115 STEM projects in the Chicago Public School District and to work with the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Think It Up initiative and DonorsChoose.org to ensure classrooms have the supplies and resources they need,” said Alison Corcoran, senior vice president, North American stores and online, Staples. “Through our Staples for Students program, we’re proud to build on our rich history of supporting education with our $10 million pledge that will make a difference in America’s classrooms.”A recent survey conducted by Staples found almost three-quarters of parents agree that teachers in their communities inspire their students. Additionally, the survey revealed that 76% agree that a lack of school supplies is a significant challenge for schools today. Most teachers spend more than $400 of their own money each year to provide supplies and materials for their classrooms.“We are so grateful to Staples for their support of teachers and students through Think It Up,” said Charles Best, founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org. “Their incredible gesture today will ensure that Chicago teachers won’t have to dig as deep into their own pockets to pay for classroom supplies, and that students will have the materials they need to start the school year right.”The flash funding in Chicago is part of Staples’ $10 million pledge to Think It Up which will inspire students to pursue their passions by working on collaborative learning projects. To help support the Think It Up movement, customers can donate one dollar at a Staples store near them or visit www.thinkitup.org to learn more.“Think It Up is excited to collaborate with Staples in helping Jennifer continue Julian’s love of education by providing support to students and teachers in Chicago. EIF is grateful to Staples for joining Think It Up as its lead corporate donor, and helping the Chicago Public School District get the school year off to a terrific start illustrates how deeply committed the company is to ensuring students and teachers have what they need to create learning experiences that make a genuine impact and prepare students for future success,” said Lisa Paulsen, President and CEO of the Entertainment Industry Foundation.Win a $50,000 Scholarship and VIP Red Carpet ExperienceFans can enter the #StaplesforStudents sweepstakes for a chance to win a $50,000 scholarship and a VIP Red Carpet Experience. Fifty lucky winners will fly to Los Angeles with a friend to attend a star-studded Think It Up event. One lucky grand prize winner will win the trip to Los Angeles and a $50,000 scholarship.Visit www.staples.com/scholarship to learn about different ways to earn entries and increase chances of winning, including making an in-store purchase, sending a tweet, signing up for e-mail and more. Entries must be submitted before 11:59PM ET on Aug. 22 and participants must be 13 years or older.last_img read more

Morocco Requests Purchase of 24 New Apache Attack Helicopters from US

Rabat – US-managed website Export.gov  reported that Morocco has requested the purchase of 24 new Apache attack helicopters from its main army supplier, the US.Export.gov, a portal managed by the US Department of Commerce, shared an overview of Morocco’s military on July 15, showing Morocco’s latest military purchase activities.The overview shows that Morocco has put in a bid for  24 new Apache attack helicopters at $1.5 Billion. Apache attack helicopters are among the most advanced equipment and are heavily used by the US Army as well as other international militaries.“Over the last decade, Morocco has strengthened its navy and equipped its army with sophisticated vehicles,” said Export.gov.The website also recalled the most significant purchase made by Morocco, which included the 25 new F-16 aircraft in 2019.“The Moroccan defense budget is expected to grow to  $3.9 billion by 2022,” emphasized the website.Morocco’s military budget slightly increased from MAD 29.4 billion ($3.2 billion) in 2012 to MAD 34.7 billion in 2018 ($3.5 billion), according to the 2018 Trends in World Military Expenditure report released in April 2019.Export.gov added that Morocco made other significant purchases, including the  “162 new M1A1 tanks at $.75B, 300 TOW missile launchers with 1800 missiles at $180 Million, and significant interest in purchasing High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), PATRIOT Air Defense systems, and G550 reconnaissance aircraft. Morocco is the largest U.S. weapons buyer in Africa.”The overview said that Morocco signed a contract in 2019 to be provided with “technical support for their Abrams tanks.”“The Royal Moroccan Air Force flies F-16 fighters, C-130 transport aircraft, and CH-47D helicopters, among other U.S.-origin equipment, while the Royal Moroccan Navy operates modern frigates equipped with U.S.-origin digital communications” according to the government website.Morocco received 62% of its arms from the US between 2014-2018. Morocco also received 32% of its major arms from France, a second major supplier for Morocco.Export.gov said that   Spain is also among the list of major military suppliers to Morocco.“Morocco’s military expenditures totaled about $48 billion between 2005 and 2015,” the website added. read more

SecretaryGeneral speaks out against terrorist bombing in Beirut

A diplomatic vehicle from the United States Embassy was impacted in the attack. “The Secretary-General deplores this act of terror and extends his sympathies to the families of those killed and inured,” according to a statement issued by his spokesperson. “It is imperative that the Lebanese authorities find the perpetrators of this cowardly crime and bring them to justice.” 16 January 2008United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned yesterday’s bombing in the Lebanese capital of Beirut which reportedly claimed the lives of at least three civilians and wounded at least 20 others. read more

UN mission in Afghanistan condemns Taliban attack on national police cadets

The new Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, said there was “no justification for such an attack.” At least 33 people were killed and 71 others injured in a suicide attack that targeted Afghan National Police (ANP) cadets and their instructors. “I remind all parties to the armed conflict in Afghanistan that they are bound to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law at all times,” said Mr. Yamamoto, who is also the new head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). He conveyed his deep condolences on behalf of the UN system in the country to the families of the victims and a speedy recovery of the injured.According to the statement, the two-stage attack was launched by the Taliban in Kabul province’s Paghman district. It began with the detonation of a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device targeting an ANP bus. When passengers from the other ANP buses disembarked to help the injured, a second suicide bomber detonated his body-borne device.“This attack appears specifically designed to maximize suffering as police went to the aid of their fallen colleagues,” said Mr. Yamamoto, stressing that the perpetrators must be held accountable. read more

Final vigil outside Mater Hospital as Emergency Department opens

first_imgBut with such a long campaign, there were times when they wondered if they would succeed. Minister Joe Costello told TheJournal.ie:I remember in 2006 in the middle of our campaign, [Health] Minister Mary Harney declared an emergency in relation to accident and emergency departments. She promised that everything would be done to fix the situation in a very short space of time. The situation instead of getting better got worse. We kept pressing away at it.A new state of the art ED will open in the Mater Hospital tomorrow, Sunday 17 February.Minister Costello said he is “proud of all the people who participated in the vigil, week after week, and month after month, for almost ten years demanding that proper medical care facilities be provided for the vulnerable, ill and often frightened elderly people who came to the A&E for emergency care”.The Mater emergency department will now be located in a brand new, state of the art facility, which the campaigners are delighted about. The final vigil will take place today outside the Mater emergency department on the North Circular Road, Dublin 7, between 1- 2pm.For almost ten years they held the Saturday vigil from 1 – 2pm, “in hail rain or snow”, said Costello. “We only missed Christmas day, we almost always were there. There was always a core of people who were guaranteed to turn up every week which was fantastic.”Read: Mater Hospital’s emergency department to close for 18 hours> The purpose of the vigil has been to highlight the deplorable state of the A&E in the Mater Hospital, and the unacceptable practice of A&E patients left sitting on chairs and lying on trolleys for long periods of time while waiting for a bed for treatment. AFTER 10 YEARS, the final Labour Party vigil will take place outside Mater Hospital – because a new emergency department is due to open this weekend.The vigil began 10 years ago in protest at the conditions in the emergency department, but with the news that a new ED is to be opened, the weekly event is coming to an end.VigilThe vigils originally began after a 90-year-old woman died in the hospital after spending some time in there without a proper bed.last_img read more

Government to propose its own microbeads ban calling other parties bills flawed

first_imgUnder EU rules, there is a requirement for Ireland to formally notify the Commission that we intend to introduce such legislation. Introducing such a Bill in the Oireachtas prior to such required notification would put us in breach of this directive and open to immediate, and probably successful challenge.So what’s new about this bill? Source: Shutterstock/MILA ZedAccording to the government, the ban won’t be limited to cosmetics and personal care products, “but also includes detergents and scouring agents” that contain microbeads.The government said the reason they didn’t back Green Party Senator Grace O’Sullivan’s bill last November was because it had “significant flaws” that they are hoping to avoid. By Gráinne Ní Aodha For a start, it was more limited in ambition than our current policy position. …on grounds of public morality, public policy or public security; the protection of health and life of humans, animals or plants; the protection of national treasures possessing artistic, historic or archaeological value; or the protection of industrial and commercial property.But the government maintains that it does need to notify the EU of their intentions. Source: Shutterstock/Africa StudioTHE GOVERNMENT IS to bring forward legislation banning the sale of products that contain microbeads, calling the Green Party’s previous bill ‘significantly flawed’ and accusing Labour’s bill of ‘generally confusing’ microbeads and microplastics.That means four political parties all agree products containing microbeads should be banned – but have different proposals on how to do it.Microbeads are mostly used in some soaps, shower gels and facial scrubs to exfoliate your skin, although they can be found in toothpastes and abrasive cleaners.The tiny plastics  (usually between 0.0004-1.24 mm wide) enter the world’s waterways in their billions, and because of their size, are almost impossible to remove.In waterways, fish and other wildlife mistake the tiny scraps of plastic for food. From there, the beads are integrated into the food chain.In a statement to TheJournal.ie, the government said that although Minister for Housing Simon Coveney would have preferred an EU-wide ban, the effects of microbeads in freshwater was “a particular concern” for him.A spokesperson said: http://jrnl.ie/3345731 Wednesday 19 Apr 2017, 6:25 AM It did not cover detergents and scouring agents which also can contain plastic microbeads.The government added it also didn’t provide any investigative or enforcement powers, and that the penalties as laid out were disproportionate and not in keeping with recent legislation. For example: It confuses microbeads with microplastics generally and makes no enforcement provisions. Government to propose its own microbeads ban, calling other parties’ bills ‘flawed and confused’ The Green Party and Labour have proposed bills on banning microbeads. Fianna Fáil said they’re working on their own one. Now it’s Fine Gael’s turn. Share Tweet Email2 Short URL 15,017 Views 18 Comments The Minister… is introducing legislation to prohibit the manufacture or sale of products containing microbeads where these are likely to be rinsed off into wastewater and potentially, make their way into rivers, lakes and seas.They added that although the detail of the bill hasn’t been decided, that they were now focusing on getting legal permission for the ban from the European Union. Source: Shutterstock/Africa StudioIs the EU a problem?With each bill that’s been proposed in the Houses of the Oireachtas to ban microbeads, there’s been speculation whether the ban could conflict with EU rules.Coveney told Cabinet in November that the government was supportive of banning microbeads in principle, but said imposing a ban at that stage would go against Article 33 and 35 of the EU treaty which guarantee the free movement of goods.But politicians including Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan have said that this is nonsense, as the UK and France have already begun the process to ‘ban the bead’.Although the EU’s single market rules don’t allow for ‘the exclusion of products’, there are exceptions under Article 36; Apr 19th 2017, 6:25 AM The specification of a fine of “up to €10,000 per item” could mean that a shopkeeper with a carton of 100 bottles of eye make-up containing plastic glitter for sale could be liable to a fine of up to €1 million.It added that under the Green Party’s proposal, the monitoring programme it proposed was “far too broad in scale to be either useful or scientifically justified”, adding “it would be unworkable, massively costly and ineffective”. Source: Shutterstock/Steve CordorySimilarly, the government said it can’t support the currently-proposed microbeads bill introduced by Labour’s Sean Sherlock.It says that this is mainly to do with the EU, but there are some other concerns. We need more time to develop scientifically and technically robust, future-proofed definitions of ‘plastics’ and ‘microbeads’ to ensure the legislation is effective.It’s still unknown when the government’s proposal will be introduced as some details of the legislation had to be ironed out – including what fine will be imposed on people who make or sell microbead products.The details of the ban will be decided through analysing recommendations from the consultation process, technical and scientific research, and looking at recent microbead-bans in Canada and the USA and those already underway in France and the UK.The public consultation on microbeads ended on 24 March 2017 and had over 3,000 submissions over the six-week period. The government will publish the findings at a later date.Read: Britain wants a global ban on microbeads – so what’s Ireland going to do about it?Read: Government to oppose Greens’ bid to ban microbeads, claiming bill breaches EU rules Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this articlelast_img read more

Algues vertes une nouvelle plainte déposée à Brest

first_imgAlgues vertes : une nouvelle plainte déposée à BrestBrest, France – L’association Agir pour un environnement, l’AE2D (un développement durable) et l’Union démocratique bretonne (UDB) du Finistère ont déposé mardi au tribunal de Brest, une plainte contre X pour mise en danger de la vie d’autrui. Au banc des accusés : la prolifération des algues vertes.”Cela fait un moment que l’on attend que l’État prenne les bonnes mesures. Il a la volonté d’agir sur les conséquences en débloquant 600 millions d’euros pour le ramassage, mais pas sur la cause”, a déploré lors d’une conférence de presse le président d’AE2D, Roger Abiven.Ce sont quelque 126 plaintes individuelles et pétitions collectées par AE2D et l’UDB du Finistère qui constituent la plainte déposée mardi au tribunal de Brest. Cette initiative fait suite à une première série de plaintes, 300 environ, déposées en novembre dernier. Sur les quatre-vingt-trois sites pollués par les algues vertes en Bretagne identifiés par l’Ifremer, trente-sept concernent le Finistère, ont rappelé les militants qui se sont réunis mardi sur les marches du palais de justice de Brest. La baie de Concarneau notamment, est l’une des plus touchées par le phénomène des algues vertes dû, selon les associations écologistes, à l’agriculture intensive pratiquée en Bretagne.Le 10 mars 2010 à 16:11 • Emmanuel Perrinlast_img read more

LETTER TO THE EDITOR Im A Recovering Addict The Wilmington Police Saved
LETTER TO THE EDITOR Im A Recovering Addict The Wilmington Police Saved

first_imgWILMINGTON, MA — Below is a comment posted on the ‘Wilmington MA Community Board Page’ and shared with the poster’s permission:Wilmington is very blessed and lucky to have a Police Chief like Chief Michael Begonis. Police departments talk about how valuable every life is and how they are fighting the opiate epidemic. Chief Begonis and his detectives/officers do what they say they will.I am a two time Iraq Combat Veteran who used heroine to deal with the invisible scars of war. The Chief of Police and his Narcotics Detectives took time out of their busy days to come to my grandparents house to talk to me about getting help and to tell me they were there for me if i ever needed it, no matter what. These men live the true values of to Protect and Serve. Yes, I am one life, but I am one life that was saved because of their love and support. I have zero connection to anyone in the Wilmington Police Department and I am one of many in our town struggling with this horrible addiction. These men made me feel as if I mattered when I thought I was nothing. They showed how much this police department cares about making a dent in this epidemic and that they will do what it takes to save a life no matter how hopeless I seemed.Yes, I understand Wilmington is not the most crime ridden area of this country, but that’s not the point. The point is that the Chief of Police will make the effort for the people of his town even if it takes him coming and just talking to someone. This is not an easy time to be a police officer and i think this town should see how devoted their Chief is to making an impact.Those interactions with his detectives and him were 4 years ago and because of them and others, I will be hitting 3 years in December, in that time I have bought my own home, had a beautiful baby girl and am very close to my Bachelors Degree in Human Services. These accomplishments would never have been possible with out their support and love.These are times when we are losing young people at alarming numbers to the opiate epidemic and there are no easy answers to put a dent in it, but one life is worth the time to the Chief because one life lost sends huge repercussions through whole families and communities.You should be proud to be residents of the Town of Wilmington and should feel pretty damn good that you have a Police Chief who doesn’t just talk the talk but walks the walk and everything starts from the top. I just hope that by the end of his reign as Police Chief that I am one of many saved lives. He deserves to be held in the highest regard by his town because he will fight to protect the lives of every single one of you and that’s not something you can say about a lot of towns.Thank you Chief and your entire department for being a part of saving this one life. I will be eternally grateful to you and will always be proud to say I am from the town of Wilmington. I’m sorry this was so long but I tried to keep it short.Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com.Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… Related5 QUICK QUESTIONS with Wilmington’s New Police Chief Joe Desmond (PART 1)In “5 Quick Questions”5 QUICK QUESTIONS with Wilmington’s New Police Chief Joe Desmond (PART 2)In “5 Quick Questions”Joe Desmond Appointed Permanent Wilmington Police ChiefIn “Police Log”last_img read more

Twists are in the depth of the characters
Twists are in the depth of the characters

first_imgWhat inspired you to write Simian?When I was young, my grandmother used to tell me tales from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata as bedtime stories. My favourites involved Hanuman and Bali. Then as I grew older and I thought about them in detail, I found myself questioning certain aspects of the stories I couldn’t come to terms with. My grandmother couldn’t answer them, it was upto me. And I soon found, among others of my generation, that I wasn’t alone in this questioning. That was the seed of the idea for Simian. To deal with these questions in me.  Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’Why do you think a legend like that of Hanuman’s needed a re-telling?These legends have been told and retold countless times in hundreds of languages over the past three thousand years. I don’t know why they have survived and others haven’t. All I know is that there must be a reason why they are so much a part of our culture and us. I think retelling these stories is part of their nature. They are open to it since they are not written in stone and that is what is so unique and beautiful about them.  Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixHow did the story of Simian formulate in your mind? How difficult (or easy) was it to get it down on paper?The story formulated as a result of the delving questions I have had ever since my grandmother used to tell me the Ramayana as a young boy. It had a long gestation period. I had to mature into the person I am now for it to be ready. That part was beyond my control. Regarding difficulty; on the one hand the work was incredibly hard but on the other hand it made sense to me, so that made it easier.  Does your graphic novel add any twists to the story that everyone knows?Yes, it does. The twists are in the depth of the characters and the unique and interesting exploration of what is so familiar to us in the story of the Ramayana. I dig deep and explore the characters relationships and motivations. Why did Sugriva kill his brother Bali? Why does Ram decide to stay in the forest even when Bharat comes to take him back? Why did Ravan really kidnap Sita? It is meant for both those readers familiar with the Ramayana, and those who don’t know anything about the story. Why did you pick Ramayana and Hanuman’s story?I picked the Ramayana because it means so much to me. I’ve known the story since before I can remember and that fascination with it has never left me. When my grandmother used to tell me the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, from that very young age I always identified more with the Vanars. And I chose Hanuman’s story because I found his story the most compelling. I also felt it hadn’t been explored yet, the way it should be.Do you have plans to take on any other character from any other epic in the future?Not yet. I’m working on part three of Simian right now. There’s time after that.If you weren’t an author what would you have been?Actually I’m a film-maker by training and profession, and being an author feels no different. I’m doing what I’ve always been doing, and that is telling stories.last_img read more

Volunteers remove tons of seaweed from XcacelXcacelito turtle sanctuary
Volunteers remove tons of seaweed from XcacelXcacelito turtle sanctuary

first_imgRiviera Maya, Q.R. — Environmentalists and volunteers spent the day clearing seaweed from the beach area of Xcacel-Xcacelito.More than 40 people from Tulum and Playa del Carmen gathered to help clear the sargasso from the Xcacel-Xcacelito Sea Turtle Sanctuary. The sea weed removal was organized by the environmental civilian association Moce Yax Cuxtal.Guadalupe de la Rosa, member of the environmental group, said that a total of 42 people gathered to help collect two trucks of three tons each from just the Xcacel-Xcacelito front.”Those who participated said that the removal was not massive, but that it’s important to keep the area clear to prevent the turtles from getting caught up and stuck in the seaweed, adding that the sand also needs to be clean to encourage the adults to arrive and spawn.Members of Moce Yax Cuxtal along with the Secretariat of Ecology and Environment are encouraging the public to help with the removal of sargasso. The state of Quintana Roo has been granted 62 million peso to remove the algae that lies along the coastal areas.Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Commission needs more time on GMO ruling

first_img Facebook Comments GMO’s in Costa Rica Should Costa Rica allow GM corn to be grown here?  Yes. There is nothing wrong with GMO crops.  No. It’s a dangerous step and could threaten Costa Rican farmers.  No Response. Costa Rica’s National Technical Biosecurity Commission announced Monday it needs more time to evaluate whether to grant permission to a local subsidiary of multinational biotechnology company Monsanto to grow genetically modified corn in Costa Rica. The commission is reviewing a request by the company D&PL to grow GM corn seeds for export in the northwestern province of Guanacaste. The company’s plan has sparked protests in recent days by several groups of environmentalists, farmers and university students and professors, who say GM crops pose a threat to the environment and public health. Company representatives dismiss those claims.Commission president Alex May said colleagues from the National Academy of Sciences and the Environment Ministry asked to review more information before issuing a final vote.Agronomist Fabián Pacheco, from the Ecologist Federation and a member of the commission, said D&PL has up to 60 days to provide the requested information. Once the request is fulfilled, the commission will have five days to issue a ruling.On Monday, opponents of allowing GMOs in Costa Rica demonstrated outside the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry in western San José while commission members met inside.“Our food autonomy is at stake here, as well as our right to choose what we want to eat and what products we can grow,” University of Costa Rica professor Carlos Garro said on Monday.An unscientific Tico Times poll asking readers to weigh in on the issue found that 82 percent of 1,031 respondents – 841 readers – opposed allowing GM crops to be grown here. Sixteen percent – 167 readers – were in favor of allowing GM crops. Readers can vote only once in Tico Times polls. No related posts.last_img read more

Family demands justice after Mexican students body identified
Family demands justice after Mexican students body identified

first_imgRelated posts:Clashes as Mexicans hold rally for 43 missing students Independent probe doubts 43 Mexico students cremated Mexico’s 43 missing students continue to haunt President Peña Nieto – and they should Parents of 43 missing students in Mexico wage hunger strike TECOANAPA, Mexico – The family of the first victim identified among 43 missing Mexican students lamented the dashed dreams of the aspiring teacher Sunday, calling for justice in the case that has shocked the country.Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karám confirmed that Alexander Mora, 19, was identified among charred remains found in a landfill and a nearby river, bolstering suspicions that all 43 young men were slaughtered by a police-backed gang in September.Authorities had sent 17 badly burned remains to an Austrian medical university last month after the Guerreros Unidos cartel confessed to executing the students in the southern state of Guerrero.Murillo Karám said more tests will be conducted on the remains sent to Austria that have still not been identified.If all the students are confirmed dead, it would rank among the worst mass murders in a drug war that has killed more than 80,000 people and left 22,000 others missing since 2006 in Mexico.The case has sparked nationwide protests, highlighted Mexico’s struggle with corruption and undermined President Enrique Peña Nieto’s assurances that his security policy was bearing fruit.‘Let justice be done’At their humble home in the village of El Pericón, Mora’s family remembered him as a cheerful youth who dreamed of becoming a teacher to help his widowed father.“He decided to go to school, because it was his dream to be trained as a teacher, but his life was taken away,” his father Ezequiel, a farmer, told AFP of his youngest of eight children.Neighbors and fellow students have been paying visits to the tiny two-room house where the family displayed a small altar with candles, several photographs and a beach football, recalling his favorite hobby.But locals lamented the fact that no government representative has yet to visit the impoverished mountain community of 1,800 people.“Let justice be done because it cannot stay like this. My brother was not an animal that was killed,” said his sister, Edith. “We are poor people who live in the countryside. We will give him a funeral as is done here, honestly, poorly.”Authorities say the aspiring teachers vanished after gang-linked police attacked their buses in the city of Iguala on September 26, allegedly under orders from the mayor and his wife in a night of terror that left six other people dead.The police then delivered the young men to members of the Guerreros Unidos drug gang, who told investigators they took them in two trucks to a landfill, killed them, burned their bodies and dumped them in a river. Mexico’s Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karám offers a press conference in Mexico City on Dec. 7, 2014. Omar Torres/AFPMore DNA testsMurillo Karám said only Mora’s remains, found in the San Juan River, were identified so far among those analyzed by Austria’s Innsbruck University.He stressed that the identification process “reinforces the historical reconstruction” suggesting that the young people were massacred by drug hit men.Independent Argentine forensic experts hired by the families to assist the authorities said, however, that “for the moment” there was not enough physical evidence to connect the two sites where the remains were found — the river and the landfill near Iguala.“The evidence that links both sites for now is essentially through testimony,” the world-renowned Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team said in a statement, adding that the search for the students should continue.Family spokesman Felipe de la Cruz had already declared Saturday that relatives would continue looking for the 42 others.The parents have rejected claims the students were killed, demanding that the government find them alive and leading their own searches around Guerrero.Authorities have arrested 80 people over the deaths, including Iguala’s mayor and his wife, and are still searching for 11 other suspects.Peña Nieto vows reformsThe case has turned into the biggest challenge of Peña Nieto’s two-year presidency, shattering his attempt to move the narrative away from the drug war to his internationally acclaimed energy and economic reforms.His approval rating has plunged to around 40 percent, the worst for a president in almost two decades.The Mexican leader will host the Ibero-American Summit in the eastern city of Veracruz on Monday and Tuesday.Last month, Peña Nieto unveiled a plan to replace the country’s notoriously corrupt municipal forces with state agencies, but security experts say it fails to address corruption at all levels of government. Facebook Commentslast_img read more