Saturday, May 18, 2013

Review by Organisation of American States on illicit drugs 'could mark beginning of the end' of prohibition

Latin America issues drugs challenge

Someone snorting drugs
Review by Organisation of American States on illicit drugs 'could mark beginning of the end' of prohibition

World - 4:40 PM 5/18/2013

The Unsafe Sex: Should The World Invest More In Men's Health? - NPR (blog)

NPR (blog)

The Unsafe Sex: Should The World Invest More In Men's Health?
NPR (blog)
"If you look at the top 10 health problems around the world, they are much more common in men," she tells Shots. "But the current focus is predominantly on women's health. " Take for instance, the United Nations's Millennium Development Goals. In 2000 ...

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Report: Obama Trims Afghan War Budget Request
U.S. President Barack Obama is trimming his funding request for the Afghan war. The Reuters news agency quotes an unidentified White House aide as saying the president has decreased his request for funding the war in Afghanistan by 10 percent for the 2014 fiscal year budget. The report says the president reduced his original request from $88.5 billion to $79.4 billion. The White House issued a statement Friday saying the change was made to account for the drawdown of troops set to begin next ...
Europe and the US should heed Latin America on drugs
It's time to engage with Latin America and pursue alternatives to the present policy
You wouldn't know it from listening to UK officials but a game-changing debate is taking place in the Americas about the war on drugs. There is a growing belief that the current punitive-based approach has failed. It has visited a savage level of violence on Latin America as narco cartels, moving cocaine and cannabis into the US, have butchered and bribed their way through the continent. The killing and corrupting of public officials – judges, police, politicians – threatened, and still threatens, to demolish the institutions of those states.
Those countries are now asking uncomfortable questions of the US and Europe, such as, why do we suffer so much in trying to prevent cocaine and cannabis leaving our countries in order to reach those markets where they are mostly consumed? There is near-unanimous agreement in Latin America that the war on drugs has failed.
A year ago, at the Summit of the Americas in Colombia, regional leaders, including Barack Obama, agreed to commission a study on drug policies and to recommend options. The report was delivered last week by the Organisation of American States (OAS), which includes all 35 North and South American countries. As we report on other pages, the report provides an evidence-based approach to rethinking the drugs war. It sets out different scenarios, including legalised, regulated markets, and provides a stimulus to debate new approaches. It also challenges America and Europe to engage with the new mood in Latin America.
Those countries are increasingly vocal in their determination to reset the war on drugs.
There are clear signals that one or more may unilaterally opt out and stop prosecuting those who pass drugs through their country. It is time for Europe and the US to join a conversation that has gained real momentum. If they leave it much longer, there is a danger no one in Latin America will be listening. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
Ukraine gay pride marchers ready to defy violence
Organisers in Kiev determined to go ahead after cancellation of last year's event, despite rise in homophobic attacks
Efforts are going ahead in Ukraine's capital Kiev to stage a gay pride march next week in the face of data showing a sharp rise in the number of homophobic attacks reported in the city.
Organisers were forced to cancel the celebration last year, hours before it was due to start, after police said they could not guarantee the safety of participants in the face of threats from far-right and religious groups.
report published this weekend by Amnesty International revealed what it called "endemic discrimination" by both the Ukrainian authorities and members of the public towards the country lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community, and is calling on the government to drop proposals to introduce two pieces of legislation which would further entrench homophobia by making it illegal to promote "propaganda" about homosexuality in the arts.
Ukraine faces a deadline from the European Council to show progress towards reform in human rights, including key judicial and electoral reforms, in order for Ukraine to move towards European integration. Among them is the release of key political prisoners, including its former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, currently being detained and facing murder and embezzlement charges.
Gay rights campaigners hope the pressure will further their own cause in the face of the growing violence. One non-governmental organisation in Kiev has received 29 reports of violent attacks and 36 of threats against LGBTI people in the last year alone.
Amnesty International's Ukrainian researcher Max Tucker said: "People have been beaten and in one case murdered because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Most of these crimes have not been investigated properly and have gone unpunished."
He said the violence was now being used by the authorities as a reason to further restrict human rights. "It adds insult to injury: the possibility of attack is routinely used as an excuse to deprive LGBTI people of their rights to express themselves and to hold public events in a peaceful manner."
The pride march is planned for Saturday 25 May, and although campaigners do not predict a mass turnout, it would be an important first step for Ukraine, said Stas Misthenko, one of the organisers.
"It's really important because it gives a signal that something will change and that something can change," he said. "Not just in Ukraine, but for Russia, for Belarus, for Moldova.
"The situation here makes everyday life very complicated. Maybe 90-95% of the LGBT people in this country will keep who they are a secret, even from their families. People are scared of being fired from their work or being beaten in the streets. So people do not want to show or express themselves; they hide in their apartments.
"Even on the dating websites, maybe only one in 10 gay people will put up a picture of themselves. And blackmail is rife: there are many sad cases that people will arrange to meet and then blackmail the person over their sexuality.
"LGBT people are very vulnerable. This is why seeing something like a pride march go ahead – to see other people like them on TV – is so important for the LGBT community." © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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Israel warns against Russian arms supply to Syria
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel said on Saturday that advanced weapons supplied by Russia to war-torn Syria could end up in the wrong hands and be used against the Jewish state.
'US drone' kills four in strike on al-Qaida target in Yemen
Local officials say vehicle carrying suspected militants near Aden was struck in an attack by an unmanned aircraft
At least four people were killed and a number of others wounded in a drone strike on a vehicle carrying suspected al-Qaida members in southern Yemen, a local official said on Saturday.
The official said the strike took place at dawn on Saturday on a road to the north of Jaar in Abyan Governorate, near Aden. He did not say who was behind the strike, but previous drone strikes have been carried out by the United States. Washington does not usually comment on drone strikes.
Yemen is home to an al-Qaida wing that has planned to attack international airliners and was once described by Washington as the movement's most dangerous branch.
Impoverished and turbulent, Yemen is located next door to the world's top oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, and major crude shipment routes. The United States has stepped up attacks on al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Yemeni officials said at least six suspected militants were killed in two drone strikes last month.
Six suspected al-Qaida members were killed in January. Militants allied to AQAP took advantage of Arab Spring chaos in Yemen in early 2011 to seize control of some towns in the country's southern provinces, including Jaar. Although they were pushed from the towns last year, they continue to fight government forces. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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FBI and others executing search warrant in case of ricin intercepted at Spokane ... - Washington Post

The Province

FBI and others executing search warrant in case of ricin intercepted at Spokane ...
Washington Post
SPOKANE, Wash. — Authorities in hazardous materials suits are searching an apartment in downtown Spokane, Wash., as they investigate the recent discovery of a pair of letters containing the deadly poison ricin. FBI agents, Spokane police officers and U.S. ...
FBI executes search warrant in ricin letter caseCTV News
Police in Browne's Addition investigating Ricin lettersKXLY Spokane
Slideshow: FBI Serving Search Warrant Related To Ricin-Laced LettersKHQ Right Now
Crosscut -Bonner County Daily Bee
all 23 news articles »
Monaco go to French courts to contest ruling forcing them to pay tax
• Club's position in tax haven angers rival clubs
• Promotion to Ligue 1 in doubt as wrangle continues
Monaco have launched legal proceedings against the French football authorities after rival clubs threatened to refuse the Ligue 2 champions admission to the country's top flight next season.
Having won promotion from the second tier last week, Monaco, in whom the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev took a majority stake in December 2011, may be prevented from taking their place in Ligue 1 after rejecting other clubs' attempts to force them to pay tax.
Monaco have been playing in the French league for nearly a century, during which time the advantages gained from the principality's status as a tax haven have irritated other clubs, but never before has that led to such a confrontation. The cost cuts and tax hikes that French clubs now face seem to have intensified their ill-feeling towards Monaco, who have far greater purchasing power than anyone else in the league other than the Qatari-backed Paris Saint-Germain. Monaco have been linked with a string of top players, including Manchester United's Wayne Rooney and Atlético Madrid's Radamel Falcao, as well as the former Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini, all of whom would earn tax-free salaries.
In March the Ligue Professionelle de Football (LFP) voted to exclude Monaco unless the club moved its head offices to France to register with the country's fiscal authorities, an ultimatum that drew a furious reaction from Monaco.
The French Football Federation stepped in to mediate and eventually proposed that Monaco pay ¤200m (£170m) to be allowed to continue in the league, a supposed compromise that angered the club even further. It demanded that the FFF overturn the LFP's decision but the federation declined to do so and on Friday Monaco announced it "had no option" but to take the matter to France's council of state, the country's supreme court, claiming the LFP position "violates several fundamental principles of French and European law".
In a statement Monaco said: "The club intends to show that the decision of the LFP imposed on AS Monaco, forcing it to move its headquarters to France, violates several fundamental principles of French and European law, notably the principle of free movement, free competition, free access to sporting competitions, and also the Franco-Monégasque tax convention signed on the 18 February 1963."
The Uefa president, Michel Platini, an advocate of financial fair play, expressed surprise at the abrupt militancy of the French clubs. "I find it a little difficult to understand," Platini said after Wednesday's Europa League final. "It's as if French football always liked Monaco so long as they didn't win." © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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Human cloning developments raise hopes for new treatments
People with conditions such as heart disease or Parkinson's could benefit from tissue grown with their own DNA
Lorraine Barnes suffered a heart attack in 2005 and has lived with the consequences – extreme exhaustion and breathlessness – ever since. "I was separated from my husband and so my children, Charlotte and James, had to grow up overnight because suddenly they were caring for me," she says.
Charlotte agrees: "It turns your world upside down. I worry about my mum day and night, 24/7."
Heart failure leaves Barnes, 49, "drowning and gasping for air", she says. What really preys on her mind, though, is not her present difficulty but her future. "It scares me, as obviously I want to be around to see my children grow up."
There is no cure for heart failure, the aftermath of a heart attack, and the condition is common. Every seven minutes a person has a heart attack in the UK, and some victims are left so weakened they can hardly walk a few metres.
It's a grim scenario. But the prospects for patients like Barnes last week took a dramatic turn for the better when it was revealed that human cloning has been used for the first time to create embryonic stem cells from which new tissue – genetically identical to a patient's own cells – could be grown.
Scientists have been working on such techniques (see box) for some time but their work has been hampered by the difficulties involved in cloning human cells in the laboratory. But the team led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov, of the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, got around this problem. By adding caffeine to cell cultures, their outputs were transformed. "We were able to produce one embryonic stem cell line using just two human eggs, which would make this approach practical for widespread therapeutic use," said Mitalipov.
The development was hailed as a major boost for patients such as Barnes, who might benefit from tissue transplants – and not just heart attack patients but those suffering from diabetes, Parkinson's disease and other conditions.
But the announcement was also greeted with horror. "Scientists have finally delivered the baby that would-be human cloners have been waiting for: a method for reliably creating cloned human embryos," said David King of Human Genetics Alert. "It is imperative we create an international ban on human cloning before any more research like this takes place. It is irresponsible in the extreme to have published this."
Several tabloid newspapers also carried banner headlines warning of the human cloning "danger". Such reactions have a familiar ring. When the cloning of Dolly the Sheep was revealed in 1997 there was an outpouring of hysteria about the prospect of multiple Saddam Husseins being created in laboratories.
"At the time the chances of these horrors occurring – when scientists had not even created a single clone of a human cell – were remote," said physiologist Professor Colin Blakemore of Oxford University. "Not that this worried the alarmists. The crucial point is that we should have spent the intervening time thinking about how we should react sensibly to the concept of a human clone when it does become possible. We have not done that and, although the science is still far off, it is getting closer. We need to ask, carefully and calmly: under what circumstances would we tolerate the creation of a human clone?"
At present such a creation is banned in Britain. No human embryo created by cloning techniques is allowed to develop beyond 14 days. "The research is very tightly regulated and I think there is little chance of a rogue laboratory creating a human clone," said James Lawford Davies, a lawyer who specialises in health sciences. "However, many US states which, ironically, banned therapeutic cloning work because of their strong anti-abortion stances have laws that would permit human clones to develop into foetuses."
Experts such as Professor John Harris, director of Manchester University's Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation, see positive benefits in reproductive cloning which could have a place in society. He said: "If you take a healthy adult's DNA and use it to create a new person – by cloning – you are essentially using a tried and tested genome, one that has worked well for several decades for the donor. By contrast, a child born naturally has an 8% chance of succumbing to a serious genetic abnormality because of the random selection of their DNA. You can avoid that with a clone."
In fact, most arguments against human cloning are foolish, said Harris, adding: "It could be used in medically helpful ways. If a couple find they are carriers of harmful, possibly fatal recessive genetic illnesses, there is a one in four chance they will produce a child who will die of that condition. That is a big risk. An alternative would be to clone one of the parents. If you did that, then you would know you were producing a child who would be unaffected by that illness in later life.
"Or consider the example of a single woman who wants a child. She prefers the idea of using all her own DNA to the idea of accepting 50% from a stranger. But because we ban human cloning she would be forced to accept DNA from a stranger and have to mother 'his child'. I think that is ethically questionable. Just after Dolly the Sheep was born, Unesco announced a ban on human cloning. I think that was a mistake."
This point was backed by Blakemore. He said: "Many people react with horror at the thought of a human clone, yet three out of every 1,000 babies born today are clones – in the form of identical twins. These twins share not just the same DNA but have grown up in the same uterus and have had the same parenting – features that only intensify their similarities. Society is quite happy about this situation, it appears, but seems to find it odd when talking about cloning."
However, a note of caution was sounded by Ian Wilmut, who led the team that created Dolly the Sheep. He said: "The new work may encourage some people to attempt human reproductive cloning but the general experience is that it still results in late foetal loss and the birth of abnormal offspring." It would be cruel to cause this in humans until techniques had been vastly improved, he added.
However, most scientists see Mitalipov's work as encouraging. If nothing else, the prospects for Lorraine Barnes – and countless other patients whose lives could be transformed by transplants – have greatly improved in the long term.

How it works

The nucleus is removed from a human egg cell and the nucleus from a skin cell is inserted.

An electric shock fuses the skin cell nucleus inside the egg and it begins to divide into new cells. An embryo starts to form.

After a few days the growth of the embryo is halted and cultures of its constituent stem cells created.

By treating stem cells with different chemicals they can be transformed into specialised cells such as those that make up heart muscle, brain, pancreas and other organs. These cells are genetically identical to the original skin cell and can be used to create tissue for transplanting into the skin cell's donor . © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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