May 27, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Indonesia’s health minister asserted yesterday that 112 other nations at a meeting in Geneva last week expressed support for her country’s position on avian influenza virus sharing, according to an Indonesian newspaper.At a press conference in Jakarta yesterday, Siti Fadilah Supari said support for Indonesia’s sample-sharing proposals came on May 21 at a Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) health ministers meeting, which was held alongside the World Health Organization’s (WHO) annual meeting in Geneva, the Jakarta Post reported today. The NAM, founded in 1955, is an organization of countries that consider themselves not aligned with or against any superpower. Supari said representatives of 112 countries at the NAM health ministers meeting supported Indonesia’s demands.”We received moral and political support from health ministers from England, Russia, Iran, and Australia,” Supari said, according to the Post report. The NAM Web site does not list England or Australia among its 118 member countries.In early 2007, Indonesia announced it had stopped sharing H5N1 influenza virus samples with the WHO out of concern that developing countries that share such samples will not have access to vaccines that drug companies in rich countries may produce from the samples. The country has shared only a few samples since then. It has pushed for new virus-sharing policies that it considers more transparent and fair to it and other developing nations.Supari continues talks with USDuring the WHO’s annual World Health Assembly, Supari urged world health officials to replace the WHO’s virus-sharing system, saying it favors developed nations, the Post reported. Also during the meeting, she met with US Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt to discuss possible solutions to the virus-sharing impasse, in a continuation of talks that had begun in April.Leavitt mentioned the latest talks at a May 19 press conference in Geneva. “Actually, not a great deal changed as a result of our meeting today,” he told reporters, according to a transcript published on the US State Department Web site.He emphasized that the United States wants to help forge needed improvements in the sample-sharing system. “What we aren’t willing, of course, to do is engage in any system that would involve compensation for virus samples,” he said. “This is a 60-year-old tradition. That’s one of the greatest public health successes in history.”A progress report on multilateral efforts to settle the sample-sharing issue, including ideas raised at the World Health Assembly, is expected in July, Leavitt said. A WHO working group dedicated to solving the problem, which has met several times, will meet again in November. “And we’re hopeful that by November of this year we’ll have a protocol under which that [virus sharing] can be done,” Leavitt said.In a recent book, Supari accused the United States of planning to make a biological weapon out of the H5N1 virus and charged that the United States and the WHO have conspired to profit from H5N1 vaccines.Genetic data to be shared Indonesia recently announced it would begin sharing H5N1 viral sequences with a new public database, the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data (GISAID), which was formed by a group of 70 scientists and health officials to promote greater sharing of H5N1 sequences.GISAID has said the public can freely access the database, which includes both human and animal H5N1 sequences, after they register and agree to share and credit the use of others’ data, analyze findings jointly, publish results collaboratively, and refrain from pressing intellectual property rights issues that relate to diagnostic, drug, and vaccine developments.Experts have praised the new development, but some have said that having actual H5N1 isolates is more useful because they are needed to make seed strains for vaccines and are critical for determining antigenicity, transmissibility, and pathogenicity.See also:Apr 17 CIDRAP News story “HHS secretary blogs on impasse with Indonesia”May 19 CIDRAP News story “Experts welcome Indonesia’s vow to share H5N1 data”
Sydney, Australia | AFP | Sprint king Usain Bolt could be making his way to Europe after being offered a two-year professional football contract in Malta, reports said Tuesday, with the club saying it wanted to “write history” with the signing.Bolt, 32, has been on trial with A-League club the Central Coast Mariners since arriving in Australia in August in his bid to pursue a boyhood dream of becoming a footballer after retiring from athletics last year.The 100 metres world record-holder scored his first two goals in professional football on Friday when he started a pre-season game against second-tier Macarthur South West United in Sydney.Malta club Valletta FC said they had made a formal offer which includes playing in its upcoming cup final, with chief executive Ghasston Slimen saying the move to snare Bolt was “about writing history”.“Usain Bolt broke the record in Beijing (Olympics) in 2008, and I have followed him for the last year-and-a-half on his football journey,” Slimen told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.“We play the final of the Super Cup on December 13, which we will win… so can you imagine Usain Bolt lifting the Super Cup trophy 10 years after he broke the record in Beijing?“This isn’t about money, this is about history. This is something that they will talk about in 50 or 100 years’ time.”A group of investors from the Sanban Group in the United Arab Emirates acquired a majority stake in the club last month, vowing to qualify for the group stages of Europe’s Champions League.– Room for improvement –Slimen admitted Bolt still had to improve his footballing skills, but said he was inspired by the former sprinter’s jubilant celebrations — including the trademark lightning bolt victory pose — after the goals. “I don’t want him to be here on holiday, I want him training hard,” he said, adding that he wanted Bolt to be lifting trophies during his stint at Valletta.“I don’t want to make a big fuss, I want him to sign the contract, get on the flight, arrive in Malta and train, because we need to prepare for the Super Cup.”The Australian agent who arranged Bolt’s trial with the Mariners declined to confirm or deny the reports when contacted by AFP on Tuesday.Bolt does not yet have a contract with the Mariners ahead of the start of the A-League season this Friday, with the club’s chief executive Shaun Mielekamp saying in a statement that the Jamaican “will continue his indefinite training period… until any further notice”.Media reports suggest the Mariners are waiting for governing body Football Federation Australia to decide whether it will contribute to a potential Aus$3 million (US$2.1 million) offer to Bolt.FFA head David Gallop said Tuesday “the story of a contract in Europe is news to me”, but that any financial support from the governing body would not be drawn from a marquee fund set up to attract top players to the A-League.“The ball is very much in the Mariners court. They have to make a decision whether they want to move to put Usain onto a contract,” Gallop told Macquarie Sports Radio.“If they get to that point (of signing Bolt) then we’ll look at what’s feasible for us but it can’t be from the marquee player fund…. we can’t use that money but we’ll look at if we can do anything else.”The 32-year-old previously tried out with clubs in Germany, South Africa and Norway to no avail.Share on: WhatsApp
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights has filed a complaint against the Minneapolis Police DepartmentThe complaint was filed on June 2nd, just a week after George Floyd was killed while in police custody after an officer kneeled on his neck for nearly 9 minutes.According to the report, the police department has had several complaints over the last few years about police brutuality against certain citizens.This complaint will open an investigation into the practices, policies and patterns of the department over the past 10 years, to see if the department engaged in systemic violations of human and civil rights.
As I watched the New York Jets dismantle the AFC North “champion” Cincinnati Bengals and observed the Baltimore Ravens smack around the self-proclaimed “dynasty” known as the New England Patriots I couldn’t help but mumble aloud to myself, posing a question to all three of my personalities; me, myself and I. After dreadful one and done playoff losses did the Bengals have second thoughts about sacrificing their final regular season game in order not to “jeopardize their starters?” The Bengals said that they did not want to reveal too much to a team that they might be facing again in less than a week. What they did reveal to the Jets and the rest of the sports world was that they had no heart or backbone. Did the “kittens” from Cincy realize that when they put the nail in the coffin of the playoff aspirations of the Pittsburgh Steelers that they were also leaping onto the undertaker’s slab as well? Did they think their shoddy scheme to indirectly be part of the process that eliminated the Steelers from the post-season would create an imaginary advantage? They may have, but as always, a loser is a loser is a loser. Both losing teams from the wildcard round in the AFC seemed to be living and competing in the land of Oz, complete with exclusive zip codes in the NFL’s region of make believe. Oh, for those readers who may not be accustomed to my literary style, in the wretched case of the Bengals and the Patriots I am using the words “champion” and “dynasty” in a very tongue-in-cheekish, Def Comedy Jam sort of way.How were two wildcard teams that struggled to make the playoffs able to take full advantage of the second chances that were given to them? How? The question is why? Why, because in the playoffs, deuces are wild and it’s a different sort of party simply because you never know what to expect from teams that are not under any pressure to win because they have nothing to lose. Also both underdogs were less than impressed with the pseudo-pedigree of their competitors.During the 2008 season when Patriots QB Tom Brady was forced to sit out the season, some people were just a few syllables short of suggesting that an asterisk be placed beside the accomplishments of that season due to the absence of Brady; because as we all know, if Mr. Brady was healthy there was no way that New England would not have been in the thick of the NFL championship race, possibly winning it all.Well, it appears that Brady made a positive comeback from his injury and the Patriots appeared to be an almost ordinary franchise. In the horrific loss against the Ravens, New England had to depend on 20-year veteran linebacker Junior Seau to make plays for them on defense. When the videotaping privileges of “genius” head coach Belichick were grudgingly revoked by the NFL, that penalty was certainly one of the principal reasons why the continuation of the Patriots dynasty may have been disrupted, compounded with the 2008 season ending injury to their starting QB. See, when you employ the 12th man with the name of “cheat” it does not matter what personnel you plug in because the opposition will always be at a disadvantage.But in this season’s wildcard playoff game there was no covert and illegal advantage for the boys from beantown. The Ravens read New England’s offensive scheme like a bad novel and the only film available for them to watch was game film. Oh, by the way, six of the Ravens seven losses in 2009 were administered by teams that made the 2009 post-season. In contrast, three of the Steelers losses in 2009 were handed to them by teams that probably cannot even spell the word playoffs, playoffs, what do you mean playoffs?Last weekend, the Ravens and the Jets, two teams whose post-season chances appeared doomed less than a fortnight ago now have posted playoff victories in the books, having just kicked the snuff out of the division-winning Patriots and Bengal’s in their own yards. If Cincy had used all of the available logic they would have tried to beat the Jets in their regular season encounter so that they could have faced a Pittsburgh squad that was a little down on themselves even if they were in the midst of a three-game winning streak.The Bengals laid down in the first game against the Jets. New York made sure that they stayed down.Winning this year was a remote shot for the Bengals. Winning next year might even be more unlikely because when a team or a coach displays cowardice for any reason in the world of professional football the opposition often smells blood in the water and the talent of your squad may oftentimes be secondary. In football you have to man up before you can stand up. The Jets may have slipped into the 2009 playoffs by the back door but the Bengal’s had to leave by the same door.(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and aubreybruce.blogspot.com.)