Monday, October 13, 2014
Russia will send the new anti-viral drug triazavirin to West Africa to help in the struggle against the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, Russian Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova said Monday. "In the next two months we will produce enough triazavirin to send to our team in Guinea and to see its efficiency in clinical use," Skvortsova said at the Sixth session of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), held in Moscow. According to the minister, the efficiency of the new drug varies from 70 to 90 percent. Triazavirin is a new Russian anti-viral drug, which can be used to treat 15 strains of the flu virus, including A/H1N1, also known as swine flu and H5N1, known as avian (bird) flu, at any stage of the disease. The current Ebola epidemic broke out in Guinea and spread to the neighboring countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Senegal. According to the WHO, more than 4,000 people have lost their lives to Ebola. A team of Russian epidemiologists, virologists and bacteriologists is currently stationed in Guinea and, according to Russian sanitary chief Anna Popova, Russia is considering sending further teams of healthcare workers to West Africa. According to Russian health officials, Russia is currently testing its anti-Ebola vaccine and has begun working on a new drug to treat and prevent Ebola.
Scanning a map of the world must give President Obama a sinking feeling as he contemplates the dismal state of troubled bilateral relationships his administration has sought to turn around. He would be smart to take a hard look at Cuba, where a major policy shift could yield a significant foreign policy success. For the first time in more than 50 years, shifting politics in the United States and changing policies in Cuba make it politically feasible to re-establish formal diplomatic relations and dismantle the senseless embargo. The Castro regime has long blamed the embargo for its shortcomings, and has kept ordinary Cubans largely cut off from the world. Mr. Obama should seize this opportunity to end a long era of enmity and help a population that has suffered enormously since Washington ended diplomatic relations in 1961, two years after Fidel Castro assumed power.
In recent years, a devastated economy has forced Cuba to make reforms — a process that has gained urgency with the economic crisis in Venezuela, which gives Cuba heavily subsidized oil. Officials in Havana, fearing that Venezuela could cut its aid, have taken significant steps to liberalize and diversify the island’s tightly controlled economy.
They have begun allowing citizens to take private-sector jobs and own property. This spring, Cuba’s National Assembly passed a law to encourage foreign investment in the country. With Brazilian capital, Cuba is building a seaport, a major project that will be economically viable only if American sanctions are lifted. And in April, Cuban diplomats began negotiating a cooperation agreement with the European Union. They have shown up at the initial meetings prepared, eager and mindful that the Europeans will insist on greater reforms and freedoms.The authoritarian government still harasses and detains dissidents. It has yet to explain the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of the political activist Oswaldo Payá. But in recent years officials have released political prisoners who had been held for years. Travel restrictions were relaxed last year, enabling prominent dissidents to travel abroad. There is slightly more tolerance for criticism of the leadership, though many fear speaking openly and demanding greater rights.
The pace of reforms has been slow and there has been backsliding. Still, these changes show Cuba is positioning itself for a post-embargo era. The government has said it would welcome renewed diplomatic relations with the United States and would not set preconditions.As a first step, the Obama administration should remove Cuba from the State Department’s list of nations that sponsor terrorist organizations, which includes Iran, Sudan and Syria. Cuba was put on the list in 1982 for backing terrorist groups in Latin America, which it no longer does. American officials recognize that Havana is playing a constructive role in the conflict in Colombia by hosting peace talks between the government and guerrilla leaders.
Starting in 1961, Washington has imposed sanctions in an effort to oust the Castro regime. Over the decades, it became clear to many American policy makers that the embargo was an utter failure. But any proposal to end the embargo angered Cuban-American voters, a constituency that has had an outsize role in national elections.
The generation that adamantly supports the embargo is dying off. Younger Cuban-Americans hold starkly different views, having come to see the sanctions as more damaging than helpful. A recent poll found that a slight majority of Cuban-Americans in Miami now oppose the embargo. A significant majority of them favor restoring diplomatic ties, mirroring the views of other Americans.The Obama administration in 2009 took important steps to ease the embargo, a patchwork of laws and policies, making it easier for Cubans in the United States to send remittances to relatives in Cuba and authorizing more Cuban-Americans to travel there. And it has paved the way for initiatives to expand Internet access and cellphone coverage on the island. Fully ending the embargo will require Congress’s approval. But there is much more the White House could do on its own. For instance, it could lift caps on remittances, allow Americans to finance private Cuban businesses and expand opportunities for travel to the island. It could also help American companies that are interested in developing the island’s telecommunications network but remain wary of the legal and political risks. Failing to engage with Cuba now will likely cede this market to competitors. The presidents of China and Russia traveled to Cuba in separate visits in July, and both leaders pledged to expand ties. Cuba and the United States already have diplomatic missions, called interests sections, that operate much like embassies. However, under the current arrangement, American diplomats have few opportunities to travel outside the capital to engage with ordinary Cubans, and their access to the Cuban government is very limited. Restoring diplomatic ties, which the White House can do without congressional approval, would allow the United States to expand and deepen cooperation in areas where the two nations already manage to work collaboratively — like managing migration flows, maritime patrolling and oil rig safety. It would better position Washington to press the Cubans on democratic reforms, and could stem a new wave of migration to the United States driven by hopelessness. Closer ties could also bring a breakthrough on the case of an American development contractor, Alan Gross, who has been unjustly imprisoned by Cuba for nearly five years. More broadly, it would create opportunities to empower ordinary Cubans, gradually eroding the government’s ability to control their lives. In April, Western Hemisphere heads of state will meet in Panama City for the seventh Summit of the Americas. Latin American governments insisted that Cuba, the Caribbean’s most populous island and one of the most educated societies in the hemisphere, be invited, breaking with its traditional exclusion at the insistence of Washington. Given the many crises around the world, the White House may want to avoid a major shift in Cuba policy. Yet engaging with Cuba and starting to unlock the potential of its citizens could end up being among the administration’s most consequential foreign-policy legacies. Normalizing relations with Havana would improve Washington’s relationships with governments in Latin America, and resolve an irritant that has stymied initiatives in the hemisphere. The Obama administration is leery of Cuba’s presence at the meeting and Mr. Obama has not committed to attending. He must — and he should see it as an opportunity to make history.
Every year, on the second Monday in October, the United States celebrates a federal holiday honoring a man who freely admitted committing atrocities against the native people of the Americas, including cutting off their hands, noses or ears to keep them in line, and sexually enslaving girls as young as nine, gifting them to his men. “There are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls,” Christopher Columbus wrote in his journal in 1500. “Those from nine to ten are now in demand.” When Columbus arrived in the Bahamas (he never actually set foot in the contiguous United States) on Oct. 12, 1492, he noted the peaceful and hospitable nature of the native Arawaks, Lucayans and Taínos. “They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features….They do not bear arms, and do not know them,” he wrote. “They would make fine servants….With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.” Which is exactly what he did. Columbus enslaved the natives, setting them to work in his gold mines. Those who didn’t collect enough of the valuable dust had their hands chopped off and tied around their necks to send a message to their fellow workers. More than four centuries later, the idea of a day to honor the explorer was conceived by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic Fraternal organization that wanted a Catholic hero role model for its children. In 1937, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the law that made Columbus Day a federal holiday. Today, most government employees have the day off. Banks, the bond market, and many schools are closed. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia give their workers a paid holiday on Columbus Day, according the Council of State Governments. However, over the years, the explorer’s controversial legacy has led many U.S. cities and states to temper the celebrations surrounding his namesake holiday. In Columbus, Ohio, Columbus Day used to be a big event, but it’s been 16 years since the last parade. New York City’s Columbus Day parade still draws around a million spectators and 35,000 marchers, but the event is now billed as an annual celebration of Italian-American Heritage. Many Italian-Americans see Columbus Day as celebration of their heritage. A couple of weeks ago, the school board in Seattle, in Washington State, decided to have schools observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the same day as Columbus Day. Minneapolis, Minnesota and Berkeley, California, have also designated that day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Hawaii celebrates Discoverers’ Day, which pays tribute to the Polynesian discoverers of the nation’s 50th state. Meanwhile, in South Dakota, Columbus Day has been known as Native American Day since 1990. Mary Bordeaux, curator and director of Cultural Affairs for the Indian Museum of North America in South Dakota, would like to see the trend away from Columbus Day continue. “It’s taking something that has traditionally been in America the celebration of what I see as the annihilation of the native population and trying to bring more awareness to the truth of our history in America,” she said. “By switching it to Indigenous Day or Discoverer’s Day, it starts a conversation about native people. It kind of opens up a dialogue.” Bordeaux, a Native American who grew up on a reservation (an area of land managed by a Native American tribe under the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs), would like to see real action result from that discourse. High on her list is the rewriting of U.S. school textbooks that continue to glorify Columbus and discredit Native Americans. “We still are the only minority in the United State that has to enroll, that has to get a number from the United States government to claim to be Native American,” Bordeaux said, “and so to continue celebrating and glorifying Christopher Columbus, we’re just continuing to support [the idea] that the people who were here before weren’t people, that they weren’t anything.”
http://tribune.com.pk/A majority of girls schools in Hassan Khel have only been partially functional over the last two years in the absence of teaching staff, residents told The Express Tribune. Most women are reluctant—even fearful—to go teach classes even though they are residents of the area. This has adversely affected student attendance and academic activities at schools. “In one middle school for girls, the number of students has dropped to just 190. There were initially 350 students at the school,” a local elder told The Express Tribune. Conflict of information “I don’t know about any school in Hassan Khel where teachers are reluctant to come to work,” said FR Peshawar assistant political agent (APA) Muhammad Arif. “However, if we receive any complaints, we will ensure action is taken against teachers.” According to Arif, there were 11 girls schools in Bora and Asho Khel areas which were initially closed but reopened this September. Under attack There are 150 schools in FR Peshawar, out of which seven schools in Asho Khel, Mosa Darra and other areas were attacked by militants in 2010. Some schools were closed down in fear of retaliation from militants. These were reopened in 2013 after a large contingent of security personnel were deployed in different parts of the region. Nevertheless, most private schools for girls have been closed due to militant threats in the region over the past two years. However, according to Arif, a high school in Sara Dargai is being reconstructed while six others have yet to be rebuilt. Till then, makeshift arrangements have been made at nearby schools to teach students. Tents have been set up in schools in the absence of buildings to educate children, added Arif. FR Peshawar and FR Kohat were at the forefront of women’s education until a few years ago when all girls schools were destroyed by militants in Darra Adam Khel.
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed concern over human rights violation in Balochistan, on Sunday. HRCP delegation led by its chairperson, Zohra Yousaf, visited Balochistan and met with lawyers, journalists and politicians. HRCP chairperson addressed a press conference in Quetta Press Club on Sunday. According to Miss. Yousaf, Poverty is driving factor behind the increase in militancy in already turbulent province of Balochistan. Dr. Malik led government has failed to solve the issue of missing persons and killing and dumping in the province, added Miss Yousaf. HRCP also expressed concerns for the minorities that are being targeted in Balochistan. It must be noted that HRCP has visited Balochistan after a long time. Analysts believe that HRCP has failed to highlight the human rights violations in Balochistan properly.
The ‘confidential’ document, titled “Incident Report”, claims that following the initial melee, an assistant sub-inspector was sent to the PTI stage to make an announcement asking people not to move towards the eastern gate. “The ASI met Dr Akhtar Malik, Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Malik Aamir Dogar at the stage…however, no announcement was made as Imran Khan was making a speech at that time. (The ASI) was told that the speaker cannot be interrupted,” the report states. The report, signed by City Police Officer Sultan Ahmed Chaudhry and District Coordination Officer Zahid Saleem Gondal, says that two people were killed on the spot whereas five others died of their wounds later. Describing the sequence of events leading up to the stampede, the report states: “Imran Khan…addressed the audience at about 7:30pm. During his speech, after approximately 10 to 15 minutes, the people/audience started to go out from the stadium towards different gates.”
“Due to (the) unmannered rush of people and (the ensuing) stampede, some participants slipped and fell down on the ground, (and the) crowd ran over them. Consequently, two persons expired at the spot, whereas, 38 persons were injured,” reads the report. The Jalalpur Pirwala sub-divisional police officer (SDPO), who was on duty at this gate, “immediately started (a) rescue operation … and started shifting the injured along with Rescue 1122.” The report says that the SDPO also made announcements via megaphone, telling people to stay away from the gate where the stampede took place. “The rescue operation team of Rescue 1122 (and the) fire brigade service made water spray at the gate in order to stop people from (exiting) the said gate and to save their lives”, the report claims. Through the report, the city police chief and the DCO have held the PTI responsible for the stampede and the resulting deaths of seven people, following an otherwise impressive show of strength by the party at Multan’s Qasim Bagh Stadium. The NoC for the public meeting was issued after on the submission of an undertaking by Ijaz Hussain Janjua, the PTI district president. The report states: “During the meeting, an undertaking was obtained from the applicant mentioning all the terms and conditions consisting of 26points for holding a peaceful public meeting after deliberation with all the stakeholders. Among the conspicuous points, it was agreed by the applicant that the organiser i.e. PTI, will be responsible for arranging search and security, arrangements for lights on the backside of the stage as well as in and outside of the (stage). It was also one of the conditions that all the agreed terms will be fulfilled until the Jalsa is finished and workers/participants are dispersed peacefully and reach their respective places.” According to the report, there were only five exit gates, which were not sufficient for such a large gathering of people and states that about 2,200 police personnel were deployed at the stadium.
“My world has changed, but I have not changed,” she wrote in her autobiography, I Am Malala. In an NDTV interview a year ago, she told Barkha Dutt that she is afraid of ghosts, not of the Taliban. Now, two years after the shot from the gun that targeted her was heard around the world, the Swat-cum-Birmingham schoolgirl is the recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize “for her struggle against the suppression of children and young people, and for the right of all children to education”. One would think that there is little to take issue with, as far as Malala’s rise to fame is concerned. However, for the virtual sceptics and conspiracy theorists, Malala is undeserving of recognition, or rather, is the main protagonist of an elaborate publicity stunt. Following the announcement of her win, the distinction between Western and Pakistani reactions was clear: those in the West lauded the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize winner, while some Pakistani reactions were replete with cynicism. I ask, is the advocacy of peace not a universal belief? In some ways, this reactionary backlash against Malala is partly understandable. It is certainly true that she was only one of many schoolgirls in Taliban-controlled areas who struggled for their right to education. However, doesn’t her vocal call for change and improvement embody the voices of her peers, struggling to be heard? If a class has been dismissed for her former classmates, can’t she speak for them? During Pervez Musharraf’s era of enlightened moderation, the General struggled to show the rest of the world, Pakistan’s ‘soft face’. In a 2004 Washington Post op-ed, he explained this new approach: “It is a two-pronged strategy. The first part is for the Muslim world to shun militancy and extremism and adopt the path of socioeconomic uplift. The second is for the West, and the United States in particular, to seek to resolve all political disputes with justice and aid for the socioeconomic betterment of the deprived Muslim world.” The General’s domestic agenda included a cultural liberalisation — pop and rock concerts, fashion shows and the celebration of art and culture became routine. Musharraf himself jumped onto the stage at a 2001 concert held in Karachi. Alas, Pakistan’s soft face became mutilated by stories of assassinations, suicide bombings and the elephant in the room, the military dictator himself. Those with an intense distaste for Malala’s status as a ‘roving ambassador’ believe that her claim to fame affirms all of these things about Pakistan. I disagree. While the circumstances in which Malala rose to prominence are unfortunate, her campaign is against a very vocal and radical minority, not against Pakistan itself; her detractors need to recognise this and come to terms with the fact that the schoolgirl is here to stay. As Pakistanis and believers in peace, we should stand by her and not worry about a supposed loss of credibility in the world’s eyes. When Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy won the Academy Award for Saving Face in 2012, there was nothing but applause for the Oscar winner. Malala’s detractors — those who fear our reputation will somehow become tainted by the idea of bringing to light the threat of the Taliban to our stability — probably didn’t realise that a documentary on acid attack victims could have the same effect. Regardless, Obaid-Chinoy’s win is something that I, as a Pakistani, will continue to be proud of, just as I am proud of Malala’s struggle for education in a part of the world that is still dealing with the gaping wound of intolerance and radicalisation. While she may only be afraid of ghosts, this gaping wound is a genuine fear for the majority of Pakistanis. Through Malala’s courage and determination, may we find the ability to stand upright once again, to show the world that the narrative of our nation is not one of oppression and cruelty; may we then be recognised and applauded for something other than exposes on acid attack victims, or shot schoolgirls campaigning for basic human rights.
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/Malala Yusufzai is a star of rare talent and humility. Her straightforward views and honest courage are a refreshing and important addition to the world stage, where she has proved to be an accomplished performer. Already she sounds more mature, lucid and intelligent than many Pakistani political leaders and representatives. She has added something invaluable and almost unquantifiable to the global discourse on Pakistan — a directness of purpose many thought lost — and has made women’s education not only her priority but through her a global priority. She continued to speak for her rights when faced with death and even after the Taliban put a bullet in her head, which she narrowly survived. She refused to become a victim of violence and instead became an even stronger voice for the causes she supports. These were among many reasons she was awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, sharing it with Indian child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi. Malala was tipped for the Prize before but taken together with a veteran Indian activist with shared aspirations, the decision was broader than one person. Satyarthi has worked to end bonded and child labour for thirty years in India yet this pairing does not seem unnatural. Malala and Satyarthi appear synonymous with the struggle of people in India and Pakistan for their rights and the rights of others. Satyarthi’s quiet labour and Malala’s shining defiance complement each other in the interests of peace, and that of course is what the Peace Prize is about. A man and a woman, Indian and Pakistani, Hindu and Muslim, older person and child: these differences seem irrelevant in light of the spirit that drives them. Say what one will about Barack Obama’s 2009 award, one cannot fault the Nobel committee this year. Not only has Malala spoken and written prolifically about her experiences and the need to promote education in Pakistan, her presence has grown and she has charmed and impressed people who are giants in their fields. Her acceptance speech, delivered with the same humility that has endeared her to millions, showed how quickly she has learnt the importance of events like the Nobel Prize ceremony and how they can be used to bring together world leaders. Saying that she had spoken to her Indian counterpart, Malala used the opportunity to invite the Pakistani and Indian Prime Ministers to attend the ceremony in Stockholm on December 10 and find ways to lower tensions between the two countries. Malala reportedly received the news while sitting in her chemistry class. One can imagine the excitement of a 17-year-old girl in this situation, which reminds us that the award is a huge burden for one so young. It is an affirmation not of her past but of her future and she will need the support of Pakistanis to carry it. Many are willing, particularly girls from poor families for whom Malala has become an example of what is possible. One would expect every Pakistani woman to appreciate Malala’s struggle but many do not. Conspiracy theorists say she is a foreign ‘agent’ or dismiss her as part of a public relations campaign. How terrible that the sense of oppression has created the habit of lethargy. More women should recognise that Malala has pioneered a path for them to progress. She has brought global attention to the cause of Pakistani women. Educating Pakistani girls has become a primary development focus. Women’s rights and empowerment have become powerful ideas in Pakistan. This is an opportunity for Pakistani women to grasp and work together to fight for their rights. Some assert that the Nobel Prize does not matter. However, the Nobel Prize is important. In scientific and intellectual circles it is a sign of which issues are seen as the most important, of who to watch for as much as who to praise, and as an endorsement of purpose. Despite the criticism, Malala remains firmly Pakistani, and owns this country as her home. We must strive to make it a place she can return to without fear.
PPP Human Rights Central Cell congratulates Malala Yusofzai on winning the Prestigious Nobel Award for her exemplary and courageous work on promotion of education for girls.“Malala, you are 17, and you may be the youngest girl to receive the Nobel award but you are the bravest daughter of Pakistan and indeed the world for you have braved bullets but continued to stand up for what is right and what is a right: education.” Says Dr Nafisa Shah Central Coordinator PPP Central Cell. “You have fought with extremism like no other, using the most peaceful means -education-and therefore you have inspired the whole world. Pakistan is proud of you, all the girls and boys who want to go to school but are deprived will follow your example for all times to come. ” she added. Indeed, education is the most powerful weapon against violence, militancy and extremism, that is what this 17teen year old has taught the world. Hope that all of us back home while celebrating the award, take a lesson from Malala’s vision and help the millions of girls and boys who are out of school to get education. “