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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Syria hints at use of chemical weapons

Foreign ministry says country will deploy weapons against "external aggression" but rules out their use against Syrians.

European foreign ministers said the use of chemical and biological weapons is "monstrous" and "unacceptable" [EPA]

(Al Jazeera) Syria has said it will not use chemical and biological weapons against Syrians but would use them against foreign "aggression".

At a news conference in Damascus on Monday, foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said that Syria was in "self defence" mode but ruled out use of the weapons even against rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

"Any stocks of WMD or any unconventional weapons that the Syrian Arab Republic possesses would never, would never be used against civilians or against the Syrian people during this crisis at any circumstances, no matter how the crisis would evolve, no matter how," Makdissi said.

Makdissi stressed later in an email that Syria would "never use chemical and biological weapons during the crisis... and that such weapons, if they exist, it is natural for them to be stored and secured", the AFP news agency reported.

'Imminent threats'

Al Jazeera's Rula Amin, reporting from Beirut, capital of neighbouring Lebanon, said there were "more immediate [and] imminent threats" for Syrians to worry about than chemical weapons.

"People on the ground are very anxious from everyday shelling and [the] crackdown. They don't even have time to think about chemical weapons," she said.

She added that for many Syrians, finding a safe place to live with their families was a bigger concern.

Makdissi's comments drew swift international reaction, with the United States warning Syria over the use of chemical arms.

"They should not think one iota about using chemical weapons," George Little, the Pentagon press secretary, told reporters.

The White House said Washington would "hold accountable" any Syrian official involved in the release or use of the weapons.

In Belgrade, Serbia, Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, expressed concern about the risk of Syria using the weapons.

"It would be incomprehensible if anyone in Syria would use weapons of mass destruction," Ban told reporters during a visit to Serbia.

European Union foreign ministers also weighed in, branding Syria's threat as "monstrous" and "unacceptable".

"Threatening to use chemical weapons is monstrous," Guido Westerwelle, the German foreign minister, said in a statement.

His British counterpart, William Hague, said: "It is unacceptable to say they would use chemical weapons under any circumstances."

'Contempt for life'

In a statement issued after talks, the bloc's 27 foreign ministers said: "The EU is seriously concerned about the potential use of chemical weapons in Syria."

Syrian troops have been battling rebels in the main cities of Damascus and Aleppo in the escalating conflict that activists say has killed at least 14,000 people since March 2011.

"The Syrian regime has once again revealed the contempt for human life in its thinking," added Westerwelle.

"I urge all authorities in Syria to responsibly contribute to securing any chemical weapons stockpiles."

Britain's foreign secretary Hague dismissed Syria's claims that it was facing external aggression.

"What is actually happening is their own people are rising up against a brutal police state," said Hague. "It has nothing to do with any aggression from anywhere else in the world ... The sooner it comes to an end, the better."

Britain has been outspokenly critical of Assad's excessive use of force to put down the rebellion and was instrumental in drafting a Security Council resolution threatening tougher action against the regime, but was vetoed by China and Russia last week.

Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief who chaired the ministers' talks, said the existence of chemical weapons in any area of conflict was "cause of concern".

France's foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said his country was keeping a close eye on such weapons.

"These installations are the object of very particular surveillance," he said.

Islamic demon is out from secular bottle. Islamic insurgency in Assam enlarged the communal riot. Hindus must protect themselves.

Assam riots: Toll reaches 19; fresh clashes on.

Assam: Shoot-at-sight order issued in Kokrajhar..

Centre rushes 1,400 paramilitary personnel to Assam…


Delhi | PTI | Agencies | 23-07-2012 :: The Centre has rushed nearly 1,400 paramilitary personnel to Assam to assist local administration in bringing back peace in violence-hit Bodoland Territorial Administered Districts (BTAD) as the ethic clashes have now spread to 8,000 sq km areas.
The forces have been sent in addition to 9,000 paramilitary personnel already deployed in the north-eastern state to maintain law and order there, official sources said.
Shoot-at-sight order was issued today and indefinite curfew clamped in entire Kokrajhar, where the toll in the ethnic violence mounted to 19.
Concerned over the violence, Home Minister P Chidambaram called up Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who briefed him about the latest developments and the steps taken by the state government to bring back normalcy in the troubled areas.
Home Ministry officials, including Union Home Secretary R K Singh, are in regular touch with the state government officials and offered all possible help to defuse the situation.
Sources said Assam government officials informed the Home Ministry that the violence has spread to 400 villages located in 8,000 sq km areas.
Fresh clashes and arson were reported from the Bodoland Territorial Administered Districts (BTAD) where two more bodies were recovered on Monday taking the toll to 19 in the ethic violence.
The bodies were recovered from the banks of Gouranga river on Monday morning, police said.
People stopped the Delhi-bound Rajdhani Express at Pratapkhat between Kokrajhar and Gossaigaon alleging that their houses were damaged by miscreants when they moved to relief camps, IGP (BTAD) SN Singh told PTI.
According to official sources, the violence started after gunmen attacked two student leaders in Magurbari Thursday. Following this, four former Bodo militants were shot dead Friday.
An abandoned hostel of Bodo students was set ablaze at Bidyapara in Dhubri district with the fire brigade initially being prevented access before police intervened.
Police fired in the air when bandh supporters tried to forcibly close down shops in Golokgunj and Gauripur towns of Dhubri during a 12-hour bandh called by the All Assam Minority Students’ Union to protest attacks on the minorities in BTAD districts, SP Pradip Saloi said. Seven person were injured in the clashes on Monday.
It may be mentioned that the AAMSU president has hinted out the hand of Bodo militant in the Gossaigaon killing incident. So by framing Rajbongshi youths as the killer of the minority people, the BTC administration and police is trying to hide the truth, Ahmed alleged. He also directly blamed Tarun Gogoi and BTC chief Hagrama Mahilary for all sortsof atrocities meted out to non- Bodo people in BTC.
Erstwhile, the AAMSU president also announced their agitational programme and sit- in-demonstration in front of Raj Bhavan on July 16. He also demanded immediate transfer of Kokrajhar SP and DC besides the arrest of the culprits, adequate compensation to the victim’s family and protection to non-Bodo people living in BTC.
The student leader also criticised Minister Chandan Brahma for simply announcing ex-gratia to the victim’s family.
It may be mentioned that one person died on the spot and another three were injured in the firing incident that took place on Friday evening in Gossaigaon area under Kokrajhar district.
Meanwhile, the two minority student organisations namely All Assam Minority Students’Union (AAMSU) and All BTAD Minority Students’ Union (ABMSU) after visiting the spot at Gossaigaon on Saturday said that if culprits are not nabbed a massive agitation will be intensified statewide.
Assam Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain and Food and Civil Supplies Minister Nazrul Islam reached Kokrajhar and appealed to people to maintain peace and calm and not heed rumours.
Assam Transport Minister Chandan Brahma had on Saturday announced Rs.3 lakh as compensation to the next of kin of the dead and Rs.50,000 to those injured in the violence.
Kokrajhar falls under the jurisdiction of BTAD which is dministered by Bodoland Territorial Council. the council came into existence after the signing of a tripartite peace accord among Bodo Liberation Tigers militants, the Assam government and the Central government in February 2003.
Courtesy: The Hindu | IBN Live | TOI.

Illegal Bangladeshi Infiltrators and the Bangladeshi Muslims are the main cause of Assam Riots. Will Assam be separated from India by the subversive Muslim elements? Oust all BD Muslims from India. Retaliate.

Rape and Underage Marriage Is Not Important, Says Moroccan Women and Family Minister


Rape and Underage Marriage Is Not Important, Says Moroccan Women and Family Minister



Women’s rights groups in Morocco are denouncing comments made by Solidarity, Women and Family Minister Bassima Hakkaoui and are demanding reform of the kingdom’s rape laws.

Hakkoui told legislators from the Justice and Development party in May that “the issue of child sexual abuse has been politically exploited by associations, which have greatly harmed Morocco’s image abroad.”

She also said that the marriage of underage girls should be on the table for discussion, “because many advanced countries allow girls to marry at the age of 14.”

The comments came in the wake of the suicide of 16-year-old Amina al-Filali, who took her own life rather than submit to a marriage to the man who raped her. Her death led to calls to eliminate the marriage exception to Morocco’s rape law.

Under the current law, if an underage girl is raped, and her rapist marries her, only a person with “certain social status” can press rape charges.

Morocco’s Democratic League for Women’s Rights (LDDF) head Khadija Rabah told Magharebia that Hakkoui’s statements “harm, rather than serve, the minister’s career.”

“Women’s associations are not an opponent to the minister,” she added. But she said Hakkoui “should direct her attention to issues that harm children and women because she is the one who oversees this sector, rather than blame the associations that are doing their job.”

Bayt Al Hikma president Khadija Rouissi expressed frustration that the government has not clarified Hakkoui’s statements.

“I would like to say to the minister that the world has become a small village,” Rouisi said in an interview with Magharebia. “With this technological revolution and the Arab Spring, nothing can be hidden.”

Hala Mourad, a university student and activist in the capital city of Rabat, told Bikyamasr that she didn’t understand why Hakkoui brought up international views on the matter at all.

“This is a local issue affecting women in this country. Moroccans” said Mourad. “What does it matter about the outside world. If we are so concerned about it, then let’s change how women are treated.”

The remarks, and slow movement towards change in the law, have frustrated women’s rights activists and sparked fears that the country is backsliding on the protection of women, who under the Moroccan constitution are guaranteed equal political, civil and social rights.

“What is the government’s position on these issues if the minister, who is the only woman in government, is against the exposure of violations against children and women?” Rouisi asked.

Italian Foreign Minister: Stopping Anti-Christian Violence Should Be International Priority


Italian foreign minister Giulio Terzi has said that a drive to stop anti-Christian atrocities should be a top priority of world leaders.
Citing the killing of 800 Christians in Nigeria by the Boko Haram terrorist group since the beginning of this year, Terzi said that violence against Christians has been particularly common in Africa. “Stopping these atrocities must be the priority of the international community,” he said.
Terzi was speaking at a conference sponsored by the newly established Observatory for Religious Freedom in Rome. This Observatory, a joint creation of Italy’s ministry of foreign affairs and Rome, was set up to monitor and combat violations of religious freedom in the world especially in the areas "at risk" where minorities are under persecution.
At the July 19 event, Terzi outlined Italy’s foreign policy initiatives to promote religious freedom and protect religious minorities throughout the world, a priority of Italy’s foreign policy and its ethical dimension. This key strand of Italy’s international activities has recently gained an even higher profile in the wake of the horrific episodes of violence against Christian communities in the African continent.

Impure flows the Ganga

Activists believe dams on the Ganga are destroying the river and pollution is changing its very character.
FEATURE

By Sujoy Dhar

HARIDWAR: Every year Yogesh Mudgal treks miles through the mountainous roads of the Indian Himalayas during the holy Hindu month of Shravan, in July.

The 54-year-old pilgrim hails from Alwar in northern India’s Rajasthan state. For the last 27 years, he has joined the millions of other Kanwarias – devotees of Lord Shiva – entering Uttarakhand state on the uphill trail of the holy river Ganga (photo), to collect or take a dip in its soul-cleansing waters.

But this July, Mudgal is more than just a devoted pilgrim: he is also an environmental activist, visiting village after village in an effort to spread awareness about the severe pollution of the Ganga, and the destructive impact of big dams that environmentalists claim are destroying India’s “lifeline”.

“We are a group of 12 people visiting each village on our way and raising awareness about pollution of the Ganga,” Mudgal tells IPS in the holy city of Haridwar.

Mudgal is a strong supporter of Rajendra Singh, a Ganga activist popularly known as the “waterman of India” who is using his prestige to mobilise countless Kanwarias to save the sacred river from the impacts of hydel power projects that discharge enourmous amounts of pollutants into the water.

Running for 2,510km, the Ganga is India’s longest river, irrigating 40% of the country’s land and providing fresh water to 500 million people who live along its banks.

But a study conducted by the Uttarakhand Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board (UEPPCB) in 2011 slotted the Ganga’s waters into the most polluted “D” category, owing to the steady flow of human faeces, urine and human and industrial sewage into the river.

Activists say ‘no’ to dams

India’s leading Ganga activists believe big dams are to blame.

“Dams on the Ganga are destroying the river and pollution is changing its very character,” Rajendra, who heads an organisation called Ganga Mukti Sangram (Struggle to Save Ganga), tells IPS.

Thanks in large part to the efforts of activists like himself, pilgrims are now arriving shouting slogans like, “Ganga ko bachana hai” (We have come to save the Ganga).

“The dams cause an excess of silt deposits upstream, leading to algal growth that changes the character of the water,” he says.

People who live around the confluence of the river with the sea, at Ganga Sagar in West Bengal where the holy river empties into the Bay of Bengal, are extremely concerned about the situation.

“The Ganga Sagar islands, which are already threatened by climate change, are now more vulnerable than ever because there is no longer enough silt in the waters to buttress the landmass,” Singh tells IPS.

He says construction of the Tehri Dam for a hydel project in the Bhagirathi river, one of the Ganga’s two headstreams, has almost killed the river.

“Even the river Alaknanda (the Ganga’s source stream) could (suffer) as a result,” says Singh.

Green activists have already challenged government clearance of a hydel project on the Alaknanda river, three kilometres downstream from the Hindu pilgrimage centre Badrinath.

Rajendra says the campaign will continue until the Indian government stops the proposed building of 39 dams across the sacred, ancient river.

“It is going to be a long journey,” he predicts.

In March this year Rajendra and other key members of the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGBRA) resigned in outrage over the government’s insensitivity towards Dr GD Agrawal, an environmental engineer who started a fast-unto-death in protest of proposed hydel projects on the Ganga’s Himalayan tributaries.

Agrawal was eventually taken to hospital and force-fed by the authorities.

“The government has neither political will nor any executable plan. Though the NGBRA was convened three and a half years ago and tasked with restoring ancient pride and respect for the Ganga, it has met only twice,” says Rajendra.

Massive pollution

According to India’s Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the Ganga is unfit even for bathing in cities like Kanpur due to industrial effluents and human sewage.

According to the control board, chromium levels in the water have reached a staggering 248 milligrams per litre (mg/l), against a permissible level of two mg/l.

Surveys undertaken by government agencies say the concentration of chromium at Kanpur is 124 times the permissible level.

India’s environment ministry estimates that 2,900 million litres of sewage flow into the Ganga every day from towns along its banks but the existing infrastructure is only able to treat 1,100 million litres per day.

In April this year, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured swift action to save the river, but activists are sceptical and have taken matters into the own hands.

“We will go from village to village to raise awareness,” Manmohan swears.

Pro-hydro activists push back

Just as determined as India’s leading Ganga activists are the environmental groups who support hydel (hydroelectric) projects over other, more harmful alternatives like thermal, gas or atomic power projects.

Avdhash Kaushal, who heads the Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK), a non-governmental organisation based in Uttarakhand’s capital Dehradun, says the government called off several projects at the behest of “foreign-funded” monks and activists.

“In 2012, state and central governments succumbed to pressure tactics of individuals [with personal agendas] and abandoned other hydro power projects in Uttarakhand purely on religious and political grounds,” he tells IPS.

“We shall not allow the state’s environment and natural resources to be degraded by thermal, gas or atomic-based power projects,” vows Kaushal, who has moved court against the suspension of dam projects.

He says countries like the United States and the UK are putting tremendous pressure on the government to pursue power projects that will devastate the environment.

Furthermore, “People in the state are facing severe shortages of water and power. Those responsible for this include state and central governments, (holy men) and these foreign funded agencies who, in the name of Nadi Bachao (Save the River) are hell-bent upon the closure of these hydel power projects,” he says.

IPS

(Photo credit: Sujoy Dhar/IPS)

Read more: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/world/2012/07/23/impure-flows-the-ganga/#ixzz21TaKOH1J

Questions raised over UK-based Mercy Mission

A DAP man wants Penang DCM 11 P Ramasamy to clarify how funds raised for Sri Lankan war victims were dispersed.

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy has to clarify why a UK-based organisation, Mercy Mission, was chosen to channel RM65,000 from the party’s Sri Lankan War Victims Relief Fund in 2009.

Being the fund-raising committee advisor, Pahang DAP deputy chairman J Apalasamy asserted that Ramasamy also had a public responsibility to explain the background of Mercy Mission.

“Ramasamy must provide full details of this organisation, Mercy Mission. The lay public is in the dark about the group,” he told FMT.

Ramasamy is DAP’s national deputy secretary-general and Penang deputy chief.

Apalasamy said the public was curious to know who among the fund committee members had proposed the UK-based Mercy Mission.

The issue came to light last week after the committee’s secretary M Satees revealed that the money collected from mostly Malaysian Indians was channeled to Mercy Mission.

Satees said the committee decided to channel the fund to Mercy Mission, which had initiated a campaign “Mercy Mission to Wanni”.

“We felt Mercy Mission was a better organisation for us to channel the funds, because we have always doubted the sincerity of the Sri Lankan government to give the aid to the war victims,” claimed Satees.

Apalasamy also called on Satees to furnish proofs that the money was actually channeled to Mercy Mission to allay public suspicion on the issue.

Confusion over ‘Mercy Mission’

Meanwhile an online check on Mercy Mission revealed that it was UK-registered Muslim charity formed to assist Muslims.

The group’s webpage stated: “Our priority is to help Muslims live according to the true teachings of Islam, so that we can fulfill our obligations to our creator as well as leading the betterment of humanity.

“We hope to do this by increasing piety, confidence, self-sufficiency and selflessness both within ourselves and our communities.”

Apalasamy said Satees’ disclosure had kindled the curiosity of the public, who wanted to know the criteria used to choose UK-based Mercy Mission ahead of other organisations to help the predominantly Hindu Tamil war victims of Sri Lanka.

“The public want to know why the committee was convinced to decide on Mercy Mission.

“The people want to know on whether their money had successfully reached the victims,” he said.

For record, the Tamil Tigers had waged a war on Sri Lankan Muslims during the 1980s “for backstabbing the Tamils.”

Sateesh , the former personal assistant to Ramasamy, was the fund committee secretary while DAP assemblyman for Seri Delima RSN Rayer was its chairman.

Last Friday, Sateesh said the committee raised RM73,960.40 during a rally for Sri Lanka war victims on March 8, 2009 in Butterworth.

The RM65,000 aside, Satees said the committee settled outstanding amounts to the suppliers of the event with the remaining sum collected.

When contacted, Rayer said he would hold a press conference soon to clarify and clear his name on the issue.

Read more: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2012/07/23/questions-raised-over-uk-based-mercy-mission/#ixzz21TZug4BR

‘Letter proves PKR duo cheated us’

Contrary to PKR leaders R Sivarasa and Xavier Jayakumar's claim, the letter shows that Sime Darby awarded 15 acres of land to the ex-Bukit Raja estate workers.


Sivarasa xavier jayakumarKLANG: An ex-plantation worker has taken two PKR leaders to task for allegedly “cheating” former Bukit Raja estate workers of the land allocated to them.

P Mathialakan, 55, claimed that Subang MP R Sivarasa and Selangor exco Dr Xavier Jayakumar were responsible for the land fiasco.

Contrary to the two politicians’ claim, a document provided to FMT showed that plantation giant Sime Darby had agreed to provide 15 acres to build houses for the ex-plantation workers.

The letter, dated June 12, 2008, from law firm Daim & Gamany headed by Sivarasa to Shearn Delamore & Co urged the latter’s client (Sime Darby) to reconsider the initial RM80,000 price tag for the houses which was considered too expensive as well as to look into redesigning the houses so that the properties could be sold for a lower price.

It is learnt that Sivarasa acted on behalf of the ex-plantation workers while Jayakumar handled the matter for the state after Pakatan Rakyat took over Selangor in 2008.

On May 15, FMT quoted Mathialakan as claiming that the state government had allegedly diverted eight of the 15 acres for a luxury housing project.

He added that in 2007, the Barisan Nasional-led Selangor government allocated 15 acres of land to build houses for the former Bukit Raja estate workers.

Later, Jayakumar disputed the land size that was awarded to the ex-estate workers despite PKR Kapar MP S Manikavasagam admitting that Sime Darby allocated 15 acres.

Jayakumar, who is also the Seri Andalas assemblyman, clarified that the 78 former estate workers wanted landed property and the court ruled in their favour.

Sivarasa had also echoed Jayakumar’s statement and had promised FMT to clarify the issue but nothing had come forth so far.

Read more: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2012/07/23/letter-proves-pkr-duo-cheated-us/#ixzz21TZVw4w7

MIC Youth lodges report against Surendran


(The Star) - MIC wants PKR vice-president N. Surendran to be punished if his allegation that MIC was behind the acid attack threat against him turned out to be false.

MIC social and welfare bureau deputy chairman Datuk Ramanan Ramakrishnan said the party was unhappy over Surendran's allegation.
“Anyone could have sent that message to him but he claims the message was sent by our party following his criticism against us,” he said after lodging a police report at the Travers police station yesterday.

Since Surendran lodged the police report on July 10, he said no MIC member had been implicated.

“I will not deny that there are bad apples in the party but we do not condone violence,” he said, urging the police to probe the matter thoroughly.

It was reported that Surendran had lodged a police report on July 10, saying he had received a text message which warned him against criticising MIC or risk being splashed with acid.

He has also been quoted as saying that he believed the threat came about after his criticism of MIC was front-paged in Tamil dailies.

New Scientific Strategy In The Quest For An HIV Cure


HIV up close
HIV up close
For the first time, there is a 'proof of concept' for an effective cure
Amid growing optimism that an HIV cure can be found, 34 leading HIV scientists and clinicians Friday launched what they termed a “Global Scientific Strategy Towards an HIV Cure” on behalf of the International AIDS Society (IAS) in Washington DC ahead of the 19th International AIDS Conference.

The vision is that a safe, affordable and scalable cure for HIV would improve the health and quality of life for those with living with the infection and reduce the risk of transmission to those not infected. The strategy identifies seven important priority areas for basic, translational and clinical research and maps out a path for future research, collaboration and funding opportunities.

“The strategy is the result of a collaborative effort which has produced a roadmap that will constructively move HIV Cure research forward,” said Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, the co-discoverer of HIV and Director of the Regulation of Retroviral Infections Unit at the Institut Pasteur in Paris and the IAS President-Elect.

Major investments in science have resulted in the worldwide availability of more than 20 anti-HIV drugs which can restore health, prolong life and reduce transmission of the virus. HIV-infected individuals who have access to antiretroviral drugs, and who are able to adhere to therapy can maintain control of HIV infection indefinitely. Despite these successes, these therapies cannot eradicate HIV, requiring people to remain on expensive and potentially toxic drugs for life and also remain prone to co-morbidities. Although the cost of delivering antiretroviral drugs to the more than 34 million people now living with the disease has decreased substantially, it is still overwhelmingly high. Estimates put the cost of the funding response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2015 between US$22-24 billion per year and US$19-35 billion per year by 2031, with antiretroviral treatment accounting for up to 70 per cent of the total cost of care in the most affected countries.

Thus the search for an HIV Cure is an imperative in terms of the individual and public health benefits and an opportunity to potentially avoid the long-term cumulative costs of ART. An effective and scalable HIV cure is likely to stop transmission of HIV to those who are uninfected and restore the immunological function and normal health to those who are infected.

Many scientific advances are helping to shed light on why HIV persists. Scientists have known for some time that latent HIV reservoirs, where HIV hides and persists, are one of the main barriers to finding a cure. This is precisely why treatment does not eradicate HIV and when treatment is stopped, the virus rebounds.

For the first time, however, there is a “proof of concept,” for an effective cure. The case of Timothy Brown, the so-called “Berlin Patient,” who received a stem-cell bone-marrow transplant in 2007 and as he lacked CCR5, (the doorway through which HIV enters cells), is now considered to be cured of HIV and has got scientists thinking about the use of gene therapy to modify a patient’s own immune cells to make them resistant to HIV infection. The molecular biology regarding how HIV DNA becomes integrated in the chromosomes of infected people is the focus of intense research, wich has led to a number of possible interventions, some of which are being tested in the clinic. Recently, in a test in HIV+ patients, scientists have shown that a dose of a drug, that inhibits an enzyme involved in HIV silencing, leads to rapid production of HIV RNA in the patient’s latently infected cells. This could make such previously unreachable viral reservoirs susceptible to curative strategies. Scientists are also gaining a better understanding of a rare group of HIV infected people who appear to have naturally “cured” their own infection. These “elite controllers” are HIV positive but have no readily apparent virus in the blood. Scientists are.

There exists a unique cohort of patients in France who became HIV infected, started therapy early, and were able to successfully stop therapy without viral rebound (the “Visconti Cohort”). The study confirms the benefits of treating HIV at the very early stages of infection. Understanding this group of people, who efficiently control the virus replication and reservoirs, might lead to novel therapeutic interventions.

Currently, the following strategies are being investigated and it is expected that all of these strategies will be more efficient in combination with each other, alongside the use of antiretroviral therapy to at least protect the immune system of patients to prepare them for a cure: (i)Gene therapy; (ii)Treatment Optimization and Intensification (iii)Reversal of HIV; (iv) Immune-based Therapies and (v)Therapeutic Vaccination.

Strong community support is needed to advocate against complacency and to ensure that patients and their communities are fully engaged and informed about the risks and benefits of curative studies. “Under no circumstances should the inclusion of “cure” in the global response direct funding away from treatment, prevention and care programs, or from biomedical research on HIV and its consequences, including vaccine and other prevention research,” said Barré-Sinoussi. “However, it is imperative that donors, governments and the AIDS community make viable economic investment in HIV cure research, and right now.” (CNS).

(Shobha Shukla is the Managing Editor of Citizen News Service. Email: shobha@citizen-news.org, website: http://www.citizen-news.org).

Demo lebih besar jika Syabas masih degil – AMK

(Oleh Sidiqin Omar)
SHAH ALAM 23 Julai: Lebih 100 peserta berhimpun di hadapan Wisma Rozali dekat sini bagi menyatakan sokongan kepada langkah kerajaan Selangor untuk mengambil alih pegangan konsesi Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas).
Antara yang hadir Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri (Adun) Seri Muda, Shuhaimi Shafiei; Timbalan Pengerusi KEADILAN (AMK) Selangor yang juga Ahli Parlimen Ampang, Zuraida Kamaruddin; Ahli Parlimen Shah Alam, Khalid Samad dan Ketua Angkatan Muda (AMK) KEADILAN Selangor, Azmizam Zaman Huri.
Turut serta, Ketua Biro Kebudayaan dan Kesenian Majlis Pimpinan Wanita Pusat, Tengku Intan Tengku Abd Hamid atau dikenali Dayangku Intan.
Himpunan bermula jam 12.00 tengah hari dan mereka berarak kira-kira 100 meter dari pintu masuk pasaraya Giant menuju pintu hadapan Wisma Rozali.
Peserta turut melaungkan slogan ‘Kembalikan air kepada rakyat’, ‘Hentikan catuan air’, ‘Pecat Tan Sri Rozali dan ‘Syabas jadi alat Umno.
Selain itu, kain pemidang tertera kenyataan ‘Kerajaan Selangor segera ambil alih Syabas’, ‘Syabas peras ugut rakyat Selangor’, ‘RM8.65 bilion terlalu mahal’ dan ‘Rakyat Selangor hilang air percuma’ turut dinaikkan.
Selepas berunding selama 15 minit, memorandum mengandungi tujuh tuntutan yang didraf AMK Selangor berjaya diserah kepada Ismail Hashim, Pengarah Eksekutif & Pentadbiran Sumber Manusia Syabas.
Antara tuntuan tersebut adalah membantah catuan bekalan air di Selangor oleh Syabas dan menyerahkan operasi air terawat kepada kerajaan negeri.
Memorandum turut membantah pembinaan Loji Langat 2 yang menelan belanja RM8.65 bilion.
Azmizam berkata, jika pentadbiran Syabas tidak mendengar suara mereka dan Rozali masih tidak meletakkan jawatan, satu himpunan lebih besar akan diadakan sebagai sokongan kepada kerajaan negeri untuk mengambil alih pemegang konsesi air tersebut.
Awal minggu lalu, Syabas mengumumkan Selangor kini berdepan krisis bekalan air dan menyatakan hasrat untuk mencatu bekalan air di negeri itu, jika kerajaan negeri menolak pembinaan Loji Langat 2 .
Bagaimanapun, keputusan itu mendapat tentangan Menteri Besar, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim yang menegaskan bekalan air di Selangor masih mencukupi.
Khalid yang ragu dengan keputusan Syabas mengumumkan penstrukturan semula bagi mengelakkan penduduk Selangor, Kuala Lumpur dan Putrajaya menanggung kenaikan tarif air sebanyak 50 peratus.

Why police are impotent in dealing with growing crime


shotA few days ago a colleague sent me a copy of an email which read:
Though the government is denying it, we are seeing severe escalation of serious crime in the country. At lunch today, I learnt from a member of [respectable organization] that the xxxxxx Embassy is now holding briefings on crime and precautions. There is also a recent entry of some [foreign] crime groups. We are all living in fear….Most people would agree that the current crime rate is the worst we have ever seen. When victims lodge police report, often police will refuse the report as it affects their KPI.
There is a witticism which states that “there are lies, damn lies and statistics”.
A reminder of the close proximity between statistics and damn lies should be sent to Pemandu, the government’s Performance Management and Delivery Unit in the Prime Minister's Department which has staunchly defended statistics showing street crime has fallen by 40 percent in the past two years. According to Pemandu too, the country’s crime index fell by more than 10% between January and May this year – a claim which has drawn hoots of derision from readers in the internet media.
It is a fact that Malaysians are cynical of the statistics put out by the government. Although the government has been at pains to argue that there is a declining trend in crime, the man in the street does not believe the government. The average Ali, Siva and Chong is even more agitated when the government blames the issue of escalating crime on public perception and blown-up media accounts.
The truth is that our government friendly media are underreporting rather than over-reporting on crime and violence. Let’s be frank and admit that the official statistics on crime, especially petty crime, are unreliable.
Unlike the statistics collected by the Department of Statistics, police statistics are generated by front line personnel who have a vested interest in underreporting. Everyone knows that police personnel have every incentive to avoid extra work through understating crime incidence. They also do not want to give a bad name to the police district if they can help it. Under-recording of actual cases of crime is very much the norm in most police stations.
No need to argue with the public
It is difficult for the government to convince Malaysians that the police statistics are believable since there is no way the public can monitor how the statistics are generated or processed.
If we go by neighbourhood and other grassroots accounts, it appears as if episodes of house break-in, handbag snatching, armed robbery and other criminal acts have become commonplace instead of being the exception.
Rather than trying to argue with the public on crime statistics, it is more prudent for the government to acknowledge the surge in criminal activity, especially of petty crime and to take strong measures to prevent it from getting worse.
How to combat growing crime
Amongst necessary measures, these should have priority:
  1. Instilling a greater sense of responsibility and urgency in the police top brass on tackling crime. Trying to defend the police or deflect legitimate criticism is the wrong approach.
  2. Requiring that a greater proportion of police personnel be assigned to work on the beat instead of at the office.
  3. Adopting William Bratton’s policing philosophy. This veteran police officer who is advisor to the British Prime Minister David Cameron on law and order is an advocate of the ‘broken window’ criminological theory of the norm setting effect of urban disorder andvandalism on additionalcrime and anti-social behaviour. The theory which has been well backed by empirical research argues that monitoring and maintaining urban environments in a well-ordered condition stops further vandalism and escalation into more serious crime.
  4. Bratton is also a strong advocate of having an ethnically diverse police force representative of the population; maintaining a strong relationship with the law-abiding population; tackling police corruption; being tough on gangs and having a strict no tolerance of anti-social behaviour.
All of these are commonsense measures aimed at instilling a higher degree of professionalism and requiring our police and urban authorities to focus on protecting the public from criminals. They should be implemented without further delay.
Tackling police impotency at the roots
We also have to tackle the problem of an ineffective police force – the Special Brach may be a lone exception – at its roots. In the past, these root causes may have something to do with small size of the force and poor pay. Today they are unacceptable as reasons to explain the relative inefficiency or impotency of the police.
According to United Nations survey, the Malaysia police force is a very large one compared with other countries at similar stages of development. The United Nations recommends a minimum police strength of 222 per 100,000 people. Our number is much higher than this. In 2000, we reported having 354 police per 100,000 people. By comparison in 2007, Singapore had 239 police officers per 100,000 people.
As for poor pay leading to demoralized personnel, police salaries have recently gone up considerably for all ranks of personnel. Our police today cannot by any measure be considered to be underpaid.
The root causes of police impotency are found in at least two major factors. This description of crime and industrialization in Britain is instructive.
Crime was rising due to dislocation and poverty and the apparatus of criminal justice was …increasingly ineffective. During the period 1805-1842 the proportion of people per 100,000 of the population committed for trial rose 7 times. This is of course what we should expect: rapid urbanisation with people uprooted from their traditional rural ways of life and forced into the intolerable poverty and overcrowding of the early factory towns. These festering conditions were exacerbated by the fluctuations in the labour market and the fact that workers were periodically thrown out of work without any social security or unemployment benefits….”
For us in Malaysia, the ‘broken window’ theory and the interaction of marginalized immigrant and local poor communities and rising inequality between ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ amidst visible affluence provide the breeding ground for breaking rules and anti-social behaviour.
Effete social policies, tolerance of white-collar and high-level crime, and widespread uncivil behaviour of the general population also provide our underclass the justification for their attempts to subvert the system.
Our situation compares poorly with Singapore where there is zero tolerance of corruption in the police and civil service, the ordinary citizen is socialized (some would argue, regimented) to higher standards of civic norms, and ‘broken windows’ are mended unlike in Kuala Lumpur where not only the backstreets but also the main streets are littered with garbage, unrepaired pavements and other visible symptoms of urban decay and the indifference of the authorities.
Perhaps the most important root cause is the trend towards the political use of the police. Instead of focusing attention on fighting crime, our police are all too often ordered to perform political work aimed at suppressing the opposition and other opponents of the ruling government.
This politicization of the police force has become worse, with the recent massive police mobilization for the Bersih 3.0 demonstration serving as a prime example.
Potential election game changer
The government must recognize that the growing incidence of crime has political ramifications.
The more the government engages in spinning the crime statistics, the more it denies there are major problems with our police force, the more it orders the police to take political sides; the more the government is alienating itself from the public and inviting an electoral backlash.
It will be poetic justice if the politicization of our police force is one of the factors responsible for the Barisan Nasional’s downfall.

Karpal wants charge pulled due to repeal of Sedition Act

The Star 


KUALA LUMPUR: Veteran lawyer Karpal Singh wants the Attorney-General’s Chambers to reconsider a sedition charge against him in light of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s announcement to repeal the Sedition Act 1948.

Counsel Jagdeep Singh Deo who acted for Karpal informed High Court Judge Justice Azman Abdullah that they had handed over the letter to the AG’s Chambers yesterday.

“We have submitted a letter to the AG’s Chambers to reconsider the issue following the Prime Minister’s announcement that the Sedition Act would be repealed.

“Hence, we would like to apply for a short postponement,” he said.

The court was scheduled to hear an application by Karpal to strike out the sedition charge against him.

DPP Noorin Badaruddin and Azlina Rasdi prosecuted while Jagdeep, Gobind Singh Deo and Sangeet Kaur represented Karpal.

Justice Azman then granted the postponement to Aug 3 pending a response from the AG’s Chambers.

Outside the courtroom, Karpal said the court should not prosecute him following Najib’s announcement.

“There is no basis anymore.

“The government should withdraw the charges against me and also lawyer P. Uthayakumar,” he said. (Hindu Rights Action Force leader Uthayakumar is also facing a sedition charge.)

Bumburing To Make Important Announcement On Future Political Plan On Sunday

KOTA KINABALU, July 23 (Bernama) -- United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (UPKO) deputy president Datuk Seri Wilfred Bumburing, who has been rumoured to be ditching Barisan Nasional (BN) to join Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) for quite some time, today resigned as BN chairman for Tuaran amidst new speculation that a snap general election is likely to be called in September this year.

"I have hereby effective today, July 23, 2012, resigned from the post as Barisan Nasional chairman for P170, Tuaran. My resignation will enable the new BN leadership of Tuaran to make preparation for the coming 13th general election," said Bumburing in his resignation letter, which was made available to the press, here, today.

Bumburing, a former state cabinet minister, also thanked the BN leadership for having the confidence in him leading BN Tuaran all this while.

His letter of resignation was sent by facsimile to the BN headquarters in Kuala Lumpur to the attention of the BN secretary-general as well as to the office of the Sabah BN chairman.

The Tuaran MP also sent a copy of his resignation letter to UPKO president Tan Sri Bernard Dompok and party secretary-general Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau.

However, Bumburing did not provide or state the reasons for relinquishing the post.

Meanwhile, in his brief statement, Bumburing said he would be making an important announcement with regard to the future direction of his political struggle during a special gathering in Dalit, Tuaran this Sunday at 1pm.

In the 2008 general election, Bumburing was fielded instead of then incumbent Madius Tangau. Bumburing polled 17,645 votes to retain the Tuaran seat for BN with a 6,622-vote majority against his nearest rival Ansari Abdullah of PKR, who garnered 11,023 votes. Independent candidate, Ajin Hazin Gagah, lost his deposit when he only managed 879 votes.

A couple of weeks ago, Bumburing, the man at the centre of a tug-of-war between the ruling BN coalition and the opposition, had denied he planned to leave his party ahead of the 13th general election.

Bumburing together with Umno Beaufort division chief Datuk Lajim Ukin have for months kept speculators on their toes.

Last month, Lajim, in celebrating his 57th birthday, had tendered his resignation as Kerambai Kebatu Umno branch chief and said he would not seek re-election as the Beaufort Umno division chief. He is also the Beaufort MP.

Dompok was recently quoted as describing the rumour that Bumburing had quit the party as "purely rumour and speculation", designed to confuse the people ahead of the impending general election.

"He is a friend of mine and a member of the party and my deputy. I have just spoken to him and he sounded out that there was this type of things being circulated but it was not true," Dompok was also quoted as saying.

NGOs support Selangor water takeover bid

Predictably, the federal government is refusing to allow the Selangor government to take over the state’s water operations from Syabas. Time to make our feelings known at the ballot box.
NGOs, including Penang-based groups, had earlier supported the Selangor state government in its bid to take over the operations from Syabas.
On 15 December 2004, Syabas had entered a concession agreement with the federal government and the Selangor for the privatisation of the water supply services in Selangor, KL and Putrajaya for 30 years from 1 January 2005.
Syabas is owned by Puncak Niaga Holdings Berhad (70 per cent), Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Berhad (15 per cent”) and Kumpulan Perangsang Selangor Berhad (15 per cent). The Finance Ministry holds one ‘golden share’.
Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd made a loss before tax of RM75.2m in 2011 but its highest paid director received more than RM8.3m, according to the firm’s 2011 Annual Report.
Rozali Ismail owns a 41 per cent indirect interest in Puncak Niaga.
TheSun reports today.
S’gor can’t take over Syabas: committee
Posted on 23 July 2012 – 01:58pm
Hemananthani Sivanandam
newsdesk@thesundaily.com
PUTRAJAYA (July 23, 2012): The Special Cabinet Committee on water issue was advised that Selangor government will not be able to take over Syabas management due to substantive and procedural matters.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said this during the committee’s first meeting today.
He also said that the federal government will go ahead with the Langat2 project even if Selangor state government does not agree to it. He added that the Attorney-General has been given directive to look into legal matters.

Signs from Goddess Kaliyaman halts temple hunger strike



A Hindu priest (left) conducts puja rites to worship Mother Goddess Kaliyaman at Sri Muneswarar Kaliyaman temple.

The Sri Muneswarar Kaliyaman temple committee members called off the hunger strike 36 hours after they had started when they saw good signs from Mother Goddess Kaliyaman.

They had bravely gone on a hunger strike since 6.00 am on July 19, in an attempt to put pressure on the authorities to find a quick solution to the threat of demolition of the temple after it had received notice from Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) on July 16 to demolish within five days any structures on the government reserve land on which the temple sits.

The last day expired on July 20.

“We saw the good signs from Mother Goddess Kaliyaman after we offered our prayers and started our hunger strike. We understood that our prayer was heard and Mother Goddess Kaliyaman tried to help us so we decided to call off the hunger strike at 6 pm the following day on July 20,” temple president R A  Balasubramaniam told Citizen Journalists Malaysia (CJMY).

“We hope to get assurances that the temple will not be demolished so we will be writing to the Federal Territories Ministry to withdraw the DBKL notice and court order.

“We were also informed that there is no need to apply for land title for places of worship so we hope the government will gazette the land for the temple. We want to preserve and safeguard the temple as a vital part of the Indian heritage in the country.”

“We want to thank Deputy Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Minister Datuk M. Saravanan for helping us to find a solution, PPP Federal Territory chief A Chandrakumanan for writing to the Prime Minister Department to seek help and lawyer M Manoharan who is Teluk Intan MP for offering legal service to the temple.

Sri Muneswarar Kaliyaman temple committee members praying to Mother Goddess Kaliyaman. Temple president R A Balasubramaniam is at the far right.
Sri Muneswarar Kaliyaman temple president R.A. Balasubramaniam showing a building plan of the new temple.
A building plan of the new Sri Muneswarar Kaliyaman temple.
One of the banners hung outside the temple.
The picture of Gods hung on the walls of the temple.
The simple representation of Muneswarar by a sulam.
Goddess Maha Lakshmi is the deity of wealth.
A statue of the deity Lord Murugan.
The deity of Lord Ganesha.
Lord Sivalingam
Saraswathy, the Goddess of Education.
Lord Buddha.
Balasubramaniam said that they had big plans to renovate the temple which can become a popular tourist attraction to promote the temple’s characteristics and historical values.

“But if we are forced to give up the eight feet width of land which totalled 2,020 square feet, we are afraid that we will be left with only 800 square feet as we also have to give up eight feet for public walkway.”
Balasubramaniam said a 61-year old Chinese building contractor came the temple yesterday and related to him and temple committee members present on his misdemeanour at the temple way back in 1957 when he was a naughty six-year old kid then.

“He told us that he was like any active and playful kids then, had plucked a papaya from the tree in the temple grounds, took home, ate it and the next day his mouth turned red and swollen. His mother got worried and told her what he did. His mother quickly brought the son to the temple to offer prayer and ask for forgiveness and he recovered.”

Balasubramaniam said they had videotaped the man’s story and got his contact number for future references.
Temple secretary Nalini Rani said a tree standing beside Mother Goddess Kaliyaman is believed to be a century old and hope that some experts can come forward to determine the age of the sacred tree.

She said that from information she gathered, a group of University of Malaya students came to the temple sometimes in 1975 and authenticated the tree to be more than 60 years old then.

The temple president has called upon those with knowledge of the history of the 101 years old temple or who want to offer advices/solutions to contact the temple via email address at sri.muneswarar.kaliyaman@gmail.com