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  • New drug for Crohn’s disease targets RNA

    first_imgTaking an approach with a long and checkered history, a new drug seems to alleviate the symptoms of Crohn’s disease, a condition that can devastate the intestines, according to clinical trial results released today. The drug, constructed with building blocks like those of RNA and DNA, is the subject of a bold bet by the biotechnology company Celgene, which last year paid $710 million to secure rights to it. Still, there are lingering questions about how successfully the drug beats back the inflammatory illness, and researchers are now looking to launch a much larger clinical trial to address them.Crohn’s disease is marked by inflammation in the gut, especially in the large and small intestines. Many treatments attempt to modulate or suppress the immune system, but they don’t always work and can have serious side effects. Almost 10 years ago, a team led by gastroenterologist Giovanni Monteleone of the University of Rome Tor Vergata proposed another approach. In many people with Crohn’s disease and its cousin, ulcerative colitis, a protein called SMAD7 is overproduced in the inflamed gut. This SMAD7 in turn suppresses the activity of a protein called TGF-β, which regulates how immune cells function and keeps intact the barrier between the intestines and the rest of the body. Monteleone’s team hypothesized that if they could blunt the gene for SMAD7, then they would keep TGF-β functioning normally and control gut inflammation. And to thwart the gene, they aimed to tie up the RNA it makes, thus inhibiting the production of SMAD7.Targeting the RNA that produce proteins is a strategy called antisense, and it’s one that has generated tremendous excitement over the years—and precious few approved treatments. Although the approach sounds great in theory, it’s been marred by side effects and also by challenges in targeting the right tissues. There is only a tiny handful on the U.S. market: Most recently, an antisense drug was approved in 2013 for a genetic disease that causes extremely high cholesterol. Nevertheless, in 2006 Monteleone and his team showed that the antisense approach to tamping down SMAD7 seemed to ease inflammation of the large intestine in mice.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Now, Monteleone and colleagues have shown that their SMAD7-blocking drug, known as mongersen, also appears to work in humans. For the so-called phase II clinical trial, the researchers recruited 166 patients with Crohn’s and divided them into four roughly equal groups. One received a placebo, and the rest got different doses of the drug. The researchers defined success based on symptoms and reported that in the two high-dose groups, 55% and 65% of patients reached clinical remission after 2 weeks of treatment and remained in remission for 2 weeks afterward. In a very small group of patients followed over time, remissions were more likely to persist in those who had a high drug dose than in those who had a placebo—six of nine patients, versus one of nine. Side effects were generally mild, the team wrote online today in The New England Journal of Medicine.Monteleone hopes the promising results will pan out in a larger study and wonders if this trial will open up a new way of thinking about Crohn’s. Normally, scientists imagine that “the tissue damage was due to excess immune response against bacteria” in the gut, he says. But the new results suggest there’s also a problem with what he calls “counter-regulation,” in which the normal anti-inflammatory gears grind away in the cell.The drug “looks promising,” says Charles Elson, a mucosal immunologist and gastroenterologist at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, who was not involved in the work. He notes, however, that antisense therapy has been “promising for 20 years.” And as often happens, the result “raises more questions than it answers,” he says.In particular, it’s not clear that how people reported feeling matches up with what’s happening inside their intestines—for example, whether ulcers were healing—Elson says. One particular puzzle is that blood levels of C-reactive protein, which often tracks with inflammation, didn’t reliably drift downward in patients who reported feeling better. Monteleone agrees that focusing on a patient’s symptoms isn’t enough: He wants to take biopsies of affected tissue to “understand what is going on” after treatment.last_img read more

  • Adrien Broner: I don’t care about Mayweather and Pacquiao

    first_imgTS Kammuri to enter PAR possibly a day after SEA Games opening Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next SEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completion LOOK: Joyce Pring goes public with engagement to Juancho Triviño But Broner has a much more important matter to address, which is his title fight against WBA welterweight champion Pacquiao on January 19 in Las Vegas.“No disrespect,” Broner said, “but I don’t give a (expletive) about Mayweather and Pacquiao.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine ‍football chiefSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool stars“I’m focused on Adrien Broner and Pacquiao,” Broner said. “And, you know, I’m focused on getting this victory and I’m gonna go to the drawing board with my team – Stephen Espinoza and Al Haymon – and we gonna make bigger moves.”The Pacquiao is going be the biggest name Broner has ever faced and a victory over the Filipino legend would definitely catapult the American challenger to new heights. MOST READ PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss SEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completion LATEST STORIES Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte Broner (33-3-1, 24 KOs, 1 NC)  is a four-division champion hasn’t been performing as one in his last three fights, which ended in a controversial split-decision win over Adrian Granados, a loss to Mikey Garcia and a majority draw against Jessie Vargas last April.RELATED VIDEO Record 20 teams joining new PBA D-League season ADVERTISEMENT Is Luis Manzano planning to propose to Jessy Mendiola? Hotel management clarifies SEAG footballers’ kikiam breakfast issue MIAMI, FL – DECEMBER 18: Adrien Broner arrives to the 5th Street Gym prior to his workout for the media on December 18, 2018 in Miami, Florida. Broner is scheduled to fight Manny Pacquiao on January 19th in Las Vegas, Nevada. Michael Reaves/Getty Images/AFPAdrien Broner couldn’t care any less about the rumors surrounding a potential Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. rematch.The possibility of a second installment between Pacquiao and Mayweather was again entertained after the two rivals met at a music festival in Japan last September and more recently in an NBA game between the Los Angeles Clippers and Charlotte Hornets at Staples Center in Los Angeles four days ago.ADVERTISEMENT Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. View commentslast_img read more

  • Sindhu storms into semi-finals; Narsingh’s dope saga continues

    first_imgRELATED SHARE sport One of the best moments of my career, says Sindhu pv Video: Sindhu reaches badminton semifinal in Rio 2016 COMMENT SHARE SHARE EMAIL × Rio 2016: Faster, Higher, Stronger Shuttlers Sindhu, Srikanth bring some cheer to Indian camp at Rio null Published on COMMENTS pv August 17, 2016 Dipa misses bronze by a whisker Injured Saina crashes out as India faces multiple setbacks Shuttler PV Sindhu raised serious hopes of breaking India’s long-awaited medal quest in the Rio Olympics by storming into the semi-finals of the women’s singles event with a stunning straight games win over London Games silver medallist Wang Yihan of China, here.The two-time World Championship bronze medallist Sindhu, who came into the match with a 2-4 head-to-head record, dished out a compact game to outmanoeuvre the more experienced Wang 22—20 21—19 in a gruelling battle lasting 54 minutes.The 21—year—old Indian now stands just a win away from assuring India an elusive medal at the Rio Olympics.With the memorable win, Sindhu became the second Indian badminton player to reach an Olympic semi-final after Saina Nehwal achieved the feat four years ago.Sindhu’s win has overshadowed the fresh saga surrounding India’s floundering campaign at the Rio Games on day 11 after the World Anti-Doping Agency lodged an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sports against the clean chit given to wrestler Narsingh Yadav by NADA in the dope scandal back home.“WADA has appealed against the NADA (National Anti-Doping Agency) clearance in the Court of Arbitration (CAS). The hearing is on and the IOA Secretary General (Rajeev Mehta) is there with WADA officials,” Indian contingent’s chef-de-mission Rakesh Gupta told PTI.If CAS upholds WADA’s appeal, Narsingh, who is scheduled to fight in the 74kg freestyle category on August 19, will not only be able to take part in the Games here but could also face a career-threatening four—year ban.Enduring a disastrous campaign thus far, the medal-less Indian contingent has been pinning its hopes mainly on shuttlers Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth, besides its wrestlers — including world championship bronze medal winner Narsingh — to end the drought before the disheartening development.Eleven days of action have failed to bring India that won a record six medals in London four years ago, a single podium finish and there’s growing desperation to end this poor run.India’s campaign now has been reduced to three disciplines — track and field, badminton and wrestling — after the flop show put up by the contingent in other sports.It’s woes continued on day 11 today when Hardeep Singh lost 1—2 in his opening encounter against Turkey’s Ildem Cenk in the Greco-Roman 98kg category.And adding to the miserable run was the news that some of its contingent members were served only “peanuts” at a dinner party organised by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports here on Independence Day, after having skipped dinner at the Games Village.Having conquered world no. 2 Yihan, India’s hopes now rest on Sindhu, who will face the winners of the last quarter-final between Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi and Nozomi Okuhara on August 18 for a place in the gold medal encounter.The lanky shuttler from Hyderabad and Srikanth, who made it to the men’s singles quarters, are the only two medal contenders left in the badminton competition after the shock elimination of last Games bronze medallist and former world no. 1 Saina Nehwal two days ago.last_img read more

  • B Sai Praneeth Reaches Career-best 11, PV Sindhu Stays at 6th Spot in Latest BWF Rankings

    first_img b sai praneethbadmintonIndiaindian badminton First Published: October 22, 2019, 10:05 PM IST Get the best of News18 delivered to your inbox – subscribe to News18 Daybreak. Follow News18.com on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Telegram, TikTok and on YouTube, and stay in the know with what’s happening in the world around you – in real time. New Delhi: Top Indian shuttler B Sai Praneeth jumped one place to reach career-best 11th spot while world champion PV Sindhu remained unchanged at sixth in the BWF world rankings released on Tuesday.Praneeth, who won a bronze in the World Championships in August, had his best men’s singles career rank of 12th before Tuesday. He had beaten Olympic champion Lin Dan in the Denmark Open last week in the round of 32 before losing to Kento Momota of Japan in the pre-quarterfinals. Kidambi Srikanth dropped one place to 10th while Sameer Verma also slipped one spot to be 18th in the list headed by Momota.In the women’s singles, Sindhu remained static at sixth while another Olympic medallist Saina Nehwal moved down one place to be ninth in the list headed by Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei. last_img read more

  • AAPs youth manifesto to be released on July 3 at Amritsar

    first_imgPhagwara, Jun 20 (PTI) AAP will release its manifesto for the youth of Punjab at Amritsar on July 3, the partys youth wing chief of the state Harjot Singh Bains today said.”It will be released by AAPs national convener-cum-Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal,” he said here.Kejriwal will also pay obeisance at Golden Temple and Durgiana mandir on that day, he added.Claiming that the manifesto will contain the roadmap for the improvement of the youth in the state, Bains said it will chalk out plans to rid them of drugs and unemployment, create job avenues, boost sports and industry etc.Describing the current scenario in Punjab as “dark and dismal”, Bains said AAP and Kejriwal were the “only hope and silver lining in dark clouds hovering over” the state.Claiming that the common Punjabi is raring to go to the 2017 Assembly polls to rid the state of the Badals, Bains predicted a sweeping victory for AAP in all the 117 Assembly constituencies. PTI CORR CHS RC ZMN SMNlast_img read more

  • More Indian players should play overseas: Constantine

    first_imgMumbai, Sep 2 (PTI) National football coach Stephen Constantine today said that more Indian players should play overseas as they have the ability to do match the foreign footballers. “I think more Indian players should try to go abroad. They definitely have the ability. I have coached in a number of places around the world and we dont have anything to be afraid of in terms of ability,” said the Englishman at the press conference here ahead of tomorrows international friendly against Puerto Rico. “We need to start a little bit younger. Theres a need to be a development process and that needs to happen at a very young age. If I was an Indian player in this current national team, I would have liked to play outside for my own development,” he added. Constantine said he was amazed at the sudden transformation of the ground in the suburban Andheri Sports Complex in less than 10 days since he came here and termed it “lastminute.com”. “About 10-12 days ago I came down to see the pitch and how the work was going on because you cant have an international game if the pitch is not how its supposed to be. So I flew down and met Mr (Aditya) Thackeray (Yuva Sena chief) and his staff. I must say, I shouldnt say this but in India we can do anything we want, whenever we want, at “lastminute.com”. “In the space of eight-to-nine days, from when I was here to now, the improvement has been unbelievable. Am I surprised? I wish we would do this a lot more and a lot sooner so that I wouldnt have to lose what little hair I have on top of my head. They have done a fantastic job and all credit goes to them.” PTI SSR DK CM CMadvertisementlast_img read more

  • APL Vancouver Hit by Fire off Vietnam

    first_imgzoomImage Courtesy: Screenshot from Youtube video by TRAN THE HUANG The Singapore-flagged containership APL Vancouver suffered fire in the early morning hours of January 31, while it was sailing from Shekou to Singapore.The source of the fire aboard the 115,060 dwt vessel is currently unknown, and no dangerous cargo has been loaded in the cargo hold as per the stowage information.APL Vancouver still had signs of fire aboard on February 3 and firefighting action continued, OOCL cited data from the ship’s operator, Singapore-based container shipping company APL.The company earlier informed that emergency response procedures were immediately activated by the APL team, adding that the company established continuous contact with the vessel’s Master and local authorities to coordinate all necessary actions to ensure the fire is safely and promptly extinguished.The vessel was being attended by the Vietnamese Maritime Rescue Coordinating Center, fire fighters, firefighting tugs and a salvage master. APL Vancouver remains at anchorage off the Vietnamese coast.APL could not confirm which containers were involved in the fire nor the condition of containers and cargo onboard the vessel.There were no reports of injuries to the crew members aboard the 2013-built containership.Unconfirmed media reports suggested that the vessel was loaded with around 4,500 containers at the time of the incident, more than a hundred of which were carrying hazardous materials.World Maritime News Stafflast_img read more

  • Three shipyards set to share 7billion in navy maintenance contracts

    first_imgOTTAWA – The federal government says it plans to divvy up $7 billion in maintenance and repair contracts for Royal Canadian Navy frigates to three shipyards, a political compromise that was met with mixed reaction.Public Services and Procurement Canada announced the advance contract award notices on Thursday for Halifax’s Irving Shipbuilding Inc., Seaspan Victoria Shipyards in Victoria, B.C., and Davie Shipbuilding in Levis, Que.The contracts are to maintain Canada’s 12 Halifax-class frigates until the end of their operational life, estimated at another 20 years.Ottawa said in a statement that after consultations, it was decided the three Canadian shipyards were needed to complete the work on the warships.It was not immediately clear how the money would be divided among the three shipyards. A government spokesman said the value of each contract would be variable as the number of “docking periods” per shipyard may vary.David Baker-Mosher, president of the Unifor Marine Workers Federation Local 1 union at Halifax’s Irving shipyard, called the government’s plans an “utter disappointment.”“Workers feel their future is being jeopardized,” he said, noting that the decision could mean layoffs.“It’s disappointing that our government cannot understand how these ships are worked on and how much skill is needed.”At issue is a gap between the end of the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships program and the start of the Canadian Surface Combatant program.Irving has indicated in the past that repair work on the Halifax-class frigates would help mitigate that gap and sustain jobs.An Irving spokesman declined an interview on Thursday’s announcement, but said the company would provide comment following an announcement by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan at the Halifax Shipyard Friday morning.In B.C., Tim Page with Seaspan said the company was pleased with the government’s intent to contract the Victoria shipyard.“We have been repairing and refitting those vessels now for some time on budget and on time and that elicits great pride in our workforce in Victoria,” said Page, Seaspan’s vice-president of government relations.However, he pointed out that “it’s not the end of the road” as there is a 15-day “cure period.” The deal gives other interested suppliers 15 days to come forward if they wish to bid on the contract and submit a statement of capabilities that meets the requirements laid out in the contract notice.In Quebec, the announcement was greeted with relief by Davie Shipbuilding, which has laid off hundreds of employees over the past year as work dried up.“There is finally stability,” company spokesman Frederik Boisvert said.Ottawa has faced strong pressure from the Quebec government to send more work Davie’s way.The company had 1,500 employees during work to convert a civilian ship into a new interim resupply vessel for the navy, but the workforce has fallen to 250 since that ship was delivered in 2017. Davie has been seeking a contract to produce a second resupply vessel.Ken Hansen, an independent defence analyst and former navy commander, said dividing the work between three shipyards through untendered contracts is about politics.“Any work that is awarded to Davie is done for the sake of politics,” he said. “It tells you that the power of the Quebec caucus in the Liberal party is really strong.”Hansen said international best practice is to do repair and maintenance work in the ships’ home port.“If the ships have to travel a distance and get their work done elsewhere, it’s both ineffective and uneconomical,” he said.The Royal Canadian Navy’s Atlantic fleet is based at CFB Halifax while the Pacific fleet is based at CFB Esquimalt near Victoria, B.C.Hansen added that the decision hearkens back to a historic approach to shipbuilding in Canada“The various regions all had a slice of the shipbuilding pie and what ended up happening … was this boom and bust cycle,” he said, noting that it led to repeated gaps in work and layoffs.Michael Byers, a University of British Columbia professor and expert on Canadian defence policy, agreed that the decision was likely influenced by politics but called it a “defensible policy choice.”“It’s likely a decision made for a political reasons, but it’s not a decision that threatens the viability of the shipyards in Halifax or B.C.,” he said.“It’s a defensible decision even if the motivation was probably political.”Byers added that Irving can also bid on work on the commercial market and shouldn’t expect government to fill every gap.“From a political point of view, it is interesting that the government has found a way to potentially satisfy everyone,” he said. “From a vote winning perspective, that’s an optimal outcome for the federal government.”Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, in Quebec City to meet with Premier Francois Legault, accused the federal government of “neglecting the Davie Shipyards.”He said the resupply vessel was delivered “on time, on budget, and now they’re delaying the second ship unnecessarily, which is costing jobs here.”Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said his government has spoken with Ottawa about maintaining work at the Halifax Shipyard.“We’ve made the case to the national government that we believe the level of work should be maintained at the shipyard so they can hold on to the high quality talent that they currently have,” he told reporters.Ottawa says the work on the frigates is necessary while the navy awaits the delivery of replacement Canadian Surface Combatant ships.last_img read more

  • Cryptocurrency fund NextBlock scraps plans to go public underwriter withdraws

    first_imgTORONTO – A blockchain-focused venture capital fund headed by a Toronto-based expert is abandoning plans to go public amid reports alleging it made misleading statements in its marketing materials.NextBlock Global, whose chief executive is business author Alex Tapscott, said it is “no longer doing a go-public transaction” and is in the process of reaching out to investors to discuss next steps, including the return of their original investment.“As a young company, we have stumbled in our efforts to take our company public and we will work hard to rebuild the trust of those we have disappointed,” NextBlock Global said in a statement late Sunday.NextBlock describes itself on its website as early stage investor of companies involved in blockchain, with a focus on infrastructure to support the technology. NextBlock had aimed to go public via a reverse takeover of Nobelium Tech Corp., which is listed on the TSX Venture Exchange.The fund’s statement on Sunday follows reports that NextBlock Global’s investor presentation allegedly incorrectly named four people as its advisers.Last week, Forbes reported that NextBlock in its efforts to raise $100 million named four blockchain experts as the fund’s advisers, who told the publication they had not signed on in that capacity.Forbes reported on Nov. 1 that NextBlock listed former U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor Kathryn Haun; blockchain entrepreneur and chief executive of startup Civic Vinny Lingham; Dmitry Buterin, the father of Canadian Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin; and Karen Gifford, a special adviser for global regulatory affairs at Ripple among its eight advisers. All four told Forbes that they were not NextBlock advisers.On Monday, an underwriter on the planned NextBlock private placement pulled out. Canaccord Genuity’s president of capital markets Patrick Burke sent an internal email to employees on Monday about its decision, and asked them to communicate the change to clients.“As a result of ongoing developments related to the NextBlock private placement and consultation with our institutional clients, we have made the decision to withdraw participation from the private placement,” Burke said in the email obtained by The Canadian Press.NextBlock did not immediately respond to requests for comment.This comes months after Tapscott and his father, Don Tapscott, launched the Blockchain Research Institute. The Toronto-based firm was launched in March, funded by companies and governments from several countries, with the aim of conducting research into blockchain use cases and opportunities in a variety of sectors including financial services, manufacturing and healthcare, the institute said then in a statement. Founding member companies who funded the initiative included Accenture, IBM and SAP, the institute said.In addition to co-founding the institute, the Tapscotts also co-wrote the book Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business and The World.last_img read more

  • Dutch Senate Votes to Terminate Social Security Benefits Treaty with Morocco

    By Zainab CalcuttawalaRabat – The Dutch senate voted on Tuesday in favor of a bill that will unilaterally terminate a 1972 treaty that allowed Moroccans with a Dutch citizenship to collect social security benefits from the Netherlands while living in Morocco. The termination will allow the Dutch government to cut social security benefits for Dutch orphans and widows in Morocco. Late last year, Netherlands pulled the plug on talks with Morocco that were designed to revise the treaty and cut benefits to Dutch orphans and widows living in Morocco by 40% in order to match the cost of living in Morocco. A majority of the members of the Dutch parliament had argued that benefit payouts should reflect local needs, not Dutch standards, according to DutchNews.According to the same source, Dutch-Moroccans had argued that those who have paid social insurance premiums in the Netherlands, but have been living outside the country, should be entitled the same level of benefits as those living in the Netherlands.Lodewijk Asscher, Dutch minister of social affairs and employment, said that talks failed due to the Moroccan government’s insistence that the treaty be expanded to include the Western Sahara region as part of Morocco at the “eleventh hour of negotiations.”In order to implement the proposed cuts, the treaty needed to be terminated, according to Asscher.No dates have been set for the implementation of the bill or the proposed cuts.The minister noted that the termination of the treaty does not mean that “400 years of friendly relations” between Morocco and the Netherlands have been severed. Netherlands is still willing to restart talks with the Moroccan government on the issue before July, he said.Dutch Senator Paul Schnabel expressed regret at the termination of the treaty due to issues of excessive national pride, especially because benefits to Dutch Moroccans in the Western Sahara are in low amounts. He argued that the bill should have been prevented and will probably sour long term relations with Morocco – a country that the Netherlands cooperates with in trade, counterterrorism, and more.The senator said that defending moral rightness for its own sake delivered little in this situation.“If Morocco and the Netherlands would be prepared to lessen national pride in the interests of their own citizens and the maintenance of good relations, there still would be a clear solution to this problem.” read more

  • UN report on Bhutto murder finds Pakistani officials failed profoundly

    Security arrangements by Pakistan’s federal and local authorities to protect assassinated Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto were “fatally insufficient and ineffective” and subsequent investigations into her death were prejudiced and involved a whitewash, an independent United Nations inquiry reported today.The UN Commission of Inquiry, appointed last year by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the request of the Pakistani Government, reached no conclusion as to the organizers and sponsors behind the attack in which a 15-year-old suicide bomber blew up Ms. Bhutto’s vehicle in the city of Rawalpindi on 27 December 2007. But it found that the Government was quick to blame local Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud and Al-Qaida although Ms. Bhutto’s foes potentially included elements from the establishment itself.“A range of Government officials failed profoundly in their efforts first to protect Ms. Bhutto and second to investigate with vigour all those responsible for her murder, not only in the execution of the attack, but also in its conception, planning and financing,” the Commission said. “Responsibility for Ms. Bhutto’s security on the day of her assassination rested with the federal Government, the Government of Punjab and the Rawalpindi District Police. None of these entities took necessary measures to respond to the extraordinary, fresh and urgent security risks that they knew she faced.”General Pervez Musharraf was president at the time of the suicide bombing in Rawalpindi. The report said the then federal Government lacked a comprehensive security plan, relying instead on provincial authorities, but then failed to issue to them the necessary instructions.“Particularly inexcusable was the Government’s failure to direct provincial authorities to provide Ms. Bhutto the same stringent and specific security measures it ordered on 22 October 2007 for two other former prime ministers who belonged to the main political party supporting General Musharraf,” it stated.“This discriminatory treatment is profoundly troubling given the devastating attempt on her life only three days earlier and the specific threats against her which were being tracked by the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence agency),” it added, stressing that her assassination could have been prevented if the Rawalpindi District Police had taken adequate security measures.Turning to the immediate aftermath of the attack, the Commission found that police actions and omissions, including the hosing down of the crime scene and failure to collect and preserve evidence, inflicted irreparable damage to the investigation.“The collection of 23 pieces of evidence was manifestly inadequate in a case that should have resulted in thousands,” it said. “The one instance in which the authorities reviewed these actions, the Punjab (provincial) committee of inquiry into the hosing down of the crime scene was a whitewash. Hosing down the crime scene so soon after the blast goes beyond mere incompetence; it is up to the relevant authorities to determine whether this amounts to criminal responsibility.”It also found that City Police Officer Saud Aziz impeded investigators from conducting on-site investigations until two full days after the assassination and that the Government’s assertions that Mr. Mehsud and Al-Qaida were responsible were made well before any proper investigation had started, pre-empting, prejudicing and hindering the subsequent investigation.“Ms. Bhutto faced serious threats in Pakistan from a number of sources,” the Commission said. “These included Al-Qaida, the Taliban and local jihadi groups, and potentially from elements in the Pakistani establishment. Notwithstanding these threats, the investigation into her assassination focused on pursuing lower-level operatives allegedly linked to Baitullah Mehsud.” It stressed that investigators dismissed the possibility of involvement by elements of the Pakistani establishment, including the three persons identified by Ms. Bhutto as threats to her in her 16 October 2007 letter to General Musharraf. It also noted that investigations were severely hampered by intelligence agencies and other Government officials, which impeded an unfettered search for the truth.“The Commission believes that the failures of the police and other officials to react effectively to Ms. Bhutto’s assassination were, in most cases, deliberate,” it declared.The three-member panel, which was headed by Chilean Ambassador to UN Heraldo Muñoz and included Marzuki Darusman, former attorney-general of Indonesia, and Peter Fitzgerald, a veteran official of the Irish National Police, urged the Government to undertake police reform in view of its “deeply flawed performance and conduct.”It also recommended the establishment of a fully independent Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate political killings, disappearances and terrorism in Pakistan in recent years in view of the backdrop of a history of political violence carried out with impunity. Ms. Bhutto’s widower, Asif Ali Zardari, is the current Pakistani President.In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban commended the commissioners and their staff for completing their challenging nine-and-a-half month-long task “expeditiously and in a professional manner.”In a later news conference today, Mr. Muñoz stressed that the Commission interviewed more than 250 interviews with Pakistanis and others both inside and outside Pakistan, reviewed hundreds of documents, videos, photographs and other documentary material provided by federal and provincial authorities in Pakistan and others.In the report, the Commission said it was “by the efforts of certain high-ranking Pakistani Government authorities to obstruct access to military and intelligence sources” but during an extension of its mandate until 31 March it was able eventually to meet with some past and present members of the Pakistani military and intelligence services. 15 April 2010Security arrangements by Pakistan’s federal and local authorities to protect assassinated Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto were “fatally insufficient and ineffective” and subsequent investigations into her death were prejudiced and involved a whitewash, an independent United Nations inquiry reported today. read more

  • Angola UN panel recommends measures to deal with sanctions busters

    The UN Monitoring Mechanism on Angola Sanctions against the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) said in a document released today that sanctions continue to play an important part in efforts to resolve the Angolan conflict. With no fixed arms supply lines and diminishing revenue from diamonds, UNITA’s military capacity has been significantly reduced, according to the panel. The monitors warn, however, that despite serious military setbacks, “it should not be taken for granted that all possibilities for UNITA rearmament have been exhausted.” The document, which is an addendum to the panel’s final report submitted last December, provides an overview of an investigation of companies that are accused of busting the UN sanctions aimed at reducing UNITA’s capacity to wage war.Although UNITA diamond trading has been driven deeper underground by the sanctions, the document notes, there are still major weaknesses in the system to control diamond trading, in part because of the many available routes that traders can use. “UNITA gems will find a market as long as illicit diamonds can be traded and until those involved in this trade are exposed and penalized,” the panel warns. It describes UNITA as “still very active, conducting guerrilla warfare, attacking mostly civilian targets, destroying infrastructure, killing innocent people and laying landmines.” Noting that it needs more time to complete its mandated tasks, the panel says that leaving its work unfinished “would send a very bad signal.” In carrying out its investigations, the Mechanism visited a number of countries in the region and Europe, including Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, the Sudan, Belgium, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and France. read more

  • Top UN officials urge stronger support for Syrians and host communities amid

    500,000 people with community-led protection services “We are deeply shaken and distraught by the brutality and utter disregard for civilian lives we are witnessing in Eastern Ghouta and other parts of Syria today,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, UN Development Programme Administrator Achim Steiner and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock in a joint press release.“We are urging an immediate ceasefire, protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure and unfettered humanitarian access to Eastern Ghouta, swift evacuation of sick and injured people and safe passage for civilians wishing to leave,” they said.“Now more than ever, it is critical to sustain and reinforce international support to the neighbouring countries and communities hosting some 5.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. They continue to provide a profound service to humanity at a time when inside Syria, inhumanity seems to be prevailing,” they added.According to the UN, nearly seven years of relentless violence in Syria has displaced half of Syria’s population, including 6.1 million internally displaced, and 5.5 million Syrians living as refugees in the region.Despite the generosity of the neighbouring countries, most Syrian refugee families – and many in their host communities – fall below the poverty line and struggle to meet basic needs, the release said.In December last year, UN agencies and some 270 non-governmental organizations released the 2018 Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan seeking $4.4 billion to support Syrian refugees and host communities in neighbouring countries.The Plan aims to provide protection for refugee populations, education, health, food security, livelihoods, and water and sanitation services to vulnerable groups.The UN Security Council is considering adopting a resolution that would establish a 30-day ceasefire across Syria. UN migration agency seeks $194 million in funding to help Syrians   Meanwhile, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Friday launched an appeal for $194 million to help displaced Syrians living in and outside their war-torn country as well as the communities hosting them.Seven years into the armed conflict in Syria, the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate. Over 13 million people are still in need of humanitarian assistance inside the country, with nearly 3 million people living in hard-to-reach or besieged areas.With its 2018 appeal, the UN migration agency seeks to assist: 1 million people with non-food items and shelter support 35,000 children to attend school 200,000 people with livelihood opportunities 500,000 people with health services 135,000 displaced people to receive adequate services in camps 800,000 people with access to safe water and services “These interventions are vital to ensuring that Syrians get the life-saving assistance and livelihood support that many desperately need,” said IOM Director General William Lacy Swing, from the Organization’s headquarters in Geneva.Since the crisis began, economic growth within host countries has been severely affected. With high unemployment rates, especially among young people, and limited resource availability, it is challenging for governments and municipalities to provide basic services.IOM tracked 850,000 internally displaced persons returning to their areas of origin during 2017. During the same period, however, 2.9 million people continued to flee their homes, illustrating the continuing adverse effect of violence and conflict on the Syrian population.Access to primary health care has been drastically reduced inside Syria, while agricultural production has been cut in half compared to 2011 levels.In 2017, IOM organized the transportation of over 37,000 Syrian refugees from Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt to 23 countries including Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Norway, the United States and the Netherlands, among others. read more

  • Brock researchers and longterm care residents collaborate on scientific research

    As Canada’s population ages, people are looking for ways to improve the quality of life for their loved ones. One approach, which is becoming increasingly popular, is to get people connected — or reconnected — with nature.A group of researchers from Brock’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) is exploring the link between nature and health through a partnership with The Woodlands of Sunset, a regionally owned long-term care home in Welland.This initiative, “Wetlands of Sunset: Connecting Memories with Nature,” aims to show the importance of the location of long-term care facilities for the well being of their residents. What makes this an excellent case study for the research is that it is surrounded by wetlands and forests that are also owned by Niagara Region.Two members involved in this initiative, Marcie Jacklin, an avid birder and librarian at Brock, and Kerrie Pickering, a nurse and researcher, were recently awarded an ESRC seed grant to begin a pilot research project.Combining their knowledge on birds and health, they are currently working on a transdisciplinary study to explore if engagement in citizen science, specifically bird watching, has an impact on the well-being of long term care residents. They hope to see if engaging the residents as citizen scientists improves their well-being and to populate the Cornell University eBird database for the area surrounding Woodlands, which at present, has no data.Earlier this month, they installed two bird-feeding stations that residents can view from inside the building.“This project has been a win-win for me,” says Jacklin. “Working with everyone has been wonderful; the staff is so supportive at all levels and residents have really embraced the project, even those who aren’t official participants in the study.”“The potential benefits of this project will extend beyond this one long term care facility,” says Pickering. “This study has the potential to provide valuable insights for researchers, other long term care facilities, and the general population.”The researchers say benefits of the research project include:Helping residents understand what citizen science is and showing them that they are still a valuable member of society.Helping homes expand the types of activities they can offer to their residents.Giving residents and staff the opportunity to be exposed to nature and see birds.Populating the eBird database to better understand what kind of birds are in the area and their migration routes.Getting the broader community involved in citizen science.Transferring knowledge learned in this case study to other LTCs in Niagara and beyond.Jacklin says she is seeing how the project is making a difference at The Woodlands of Sunset.“When I walk down the hall at Woodlands and say I’m with the bird project everyone wants to stop and chat about it,” she says. “So far it seems like the benefits of this project are going far beyond what we had initially expected.”Jacklin and Pickering are looking for donations of binoculars, baby monitors, grape jelly (for orioles) and posters or books of common birds of Ontario and Eastern Canada.For more information or to donate, contact ESRC@brocku.ca.Brock University researchers Kerrie Pickering, left, and Marcie Jacklin fill a bird feeder at the Woodlands of Sunset long-term care facility in Welland. read more

  • Camborne School of Mines celebrates 125 year anniversary

    first_imgA centre of mining excellence which has pioneered the very best in industry-led teaching, research and technological advances is celebrating a truly special landmark. This year marks the 125th anniversary of the UK’s Camborne School of Mines (CSM), one of the world’s foremost mining and minerals engineering institutions. To celebrate, CSM is organising a series of events help share the passion, enthusiasm and excellence that has become the hallmark over the years. These include a distinctive Live Wall, an interactive forum designed to showcase the highlights, milestones and achievements since its inception in 1888.The Live Wall features memories and anecdotes from alumni based across the globe, interesting facts and figures about the industry and its relevance and importance to today’s society, and fascinating insights into the history of CSM. It will bring together contributions from the CSM community, past and present, over the coming weeks, with regular updates and additions.Frances Wall, Head of CSM, said: “We are all very excited about celebrating this landmark occasion with the most important part of our history: our staff, students, alumni, collaborators and supporters.   CSM has grown from fairly humble beginnings to now be regarded, quite rightly, as one of the best mulitdisciplinary mining schools anywhere in the world.“Our achievements over the past 125 years are a source of pride, inspiration and motivation for everyone who is part of the CSM community, past and present. We are sure that the celebrations will highlight just what we have achieved together so far, and also our plans for the future.”CSM has developed an enviable reputation of producing pioneering research, focusing on the key challenges of resource sustainability, environmental production and mine health and safety. In addition to the 125th anniversary celebrations CSM staff are organising the 35th International Conference of Safety in Mines Research Institutes. The event is in London, October 15-17 and highlights the latest developments in safety technology and disaster management around the globe. CSM researchers will speak about the use of laser scanning and 3D modelling in mining accident investigation, analysis of major hazards like mine roof fall and quarry rock fall as well as long range rescue communication techniques. CSM is recognised as having had a global impact on the mining and minerals industry, by training graduates who are now leading the sector in new and exciting ways.It has also built close relationships with local, national and international business, and these collaborations have helped to promote advances in sustainable mining, geological exploration and renewable energy. 2013 is also the 20th anniversary of CSM’s association with the University of Exeter. It is now located in purpose-built facilities on the Penryn Campus.last_img read more

  • Mozilla mulls blocking Java plugin to thwart dangerous SSL attacks

    first_imgRecently, security researchers revealed a rather frightening browser exploit that allowed them to decrypt data that had been secured using SSL. Dubbed BEAST, the attack was demonstrated using a Java applet to bypass browser safeguards and lay intercepted encrypted communications bare. Since it was a Java shortcoming that allowed the browser to be compromised, Mozilla developers are now actively considering adding Oracle’s Java plug-in to the Firefox blocklist.This wouldn’t be the first time Mozilla has added Java to the Firefox plug-in blocklist. Back in April of 2010, a critical bug in Java was identified and patched by Oracle. Many Firefox users (and browser users in general) neglected to install the update, however, leaving themselves vulnerable. Mozilla opted to block all outdated versions of the Java plug-in to encourage updates and mitigate the risk.Unlike last time, however, Oracle has yet to release a patch — or even to publicize any plans to do so. Mozilla would, then, be blocking all versions of Java until a fix is made available.Though Java use on websites isn’t quite so widespread as it used to be, blocking the plug-in could still cause some blowback against Mozilla — especially in corporate environments where Java is still used. Mozilla drew the ire of network administrators when it switched to a rapid release cycle this year, and any moves that could adversely affect corporate goodwill need to be carefully considered.Chrome developers have already come up with an alternative solution — by adding a randomization element to the encryption process. That change has caused breakage on certain websites, however, so it might not be an ideal solution either.More at The Registerlast_img read more

  • PM Christie Remarks at at Yes Bahamas Campaign Referendum Launch

    first_imgFacebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppRemarks by The Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie Prime Minister Commonwealth of The Bahamas at the Launch of the YES Bahamas Campaign “Equal Rights for our Sons and Daughters” on Sunday, April 10, 2016 Harry C. Moore Library College of The Bahamas:It is my very great pleasure to be here today in order to welcome — with excitement and with gratitude — Lady Sharon Wilson and Lynn Holowesko, as the official Co-Chairs of the YES Bahamas Campaign.I look out at this room and I see people from all of the nation’s political parties, happy and excited to work together in service of this great cause – and it underscores for me the importance of what is at stake. All of us here today are in full agreement that some things are bigger than politics – equal rights for our sons and daughters certainly meets that standard.Although he couldn’t be here today, I want to thank the Honourable Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Minnis, for his unquestionable commitment to equal rights for Bahamian citizens. He has worked with the Constitutional Commission, he and I have sat with church leaders, and he worked with me to recruit the very impressive Co-Chairs we are introducing today. I thank him for his resolve and his determination.He and I agree that the YES Bahamas Campaign must be one that brings Bahamians together. Already, so many people have asked how they can help – we have heard from students and teachers, mothers and fathers, leaders in the church, artists and athletes, Bahamians from across our islands.The YES Bahamas Campaign will bring people together in common cause, and the Co-Chairs who will run the campaign will bring their very considerable determination, experience, and energy to this historic movement for change.Lady Sharon Wilson has been a teacher and a Chief Magistrate, runs one of the nation’s leading law firms, and is currently serving as President of the Senate. She is active in her church, the recipient of awards too numerous to list here today, a member of multiple boards, and known for her considerable philanthropic and charitable work.Mrs. Lynn Holowesko has served as a Senator and as President of the Senate, Chaired both the Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology Commission and the National Trust, Co-Chaired a Panel of Experts on Environmental Law for the United Nations, and is – clearly — a very distinguished member of the Bahamian Bar.In other words: these women are formidable and outstanding leaders! They have already done so much to contribute to our country, but clearly they are not content to rest on their laurels – their presence here today shows their deep patriotism and their dedication to building a more just Bahamas. They will be supported by an excellent team lead by former Senators Cheryl Bazzard and Heather Hunt who will act as Co-Executive Directors. Both of these ladies represent the next generation of outstanding leaders. Each in their own right continues to serve our nation well.Thank you all so much for bringing on board your enthusiasm and your expertise. I am confident that under your leadership, the YES Bahamas Campaign will both educate and inspire.Before I turn things over, I want to take a moment to outline how we arrived at this moment – to put this referendum in context, and explain its purpose and importance.The Bahamas Independence Order of 1973 was an Act of the British Parliament that provided for The Bahamas to become an independent sovereign nation, and our Constitution is an appendix to that Act. The 15 Bahamian men who attended a Constitutional Conference in London in December of 1972 are known as the Framers of our Constitution. To this day, the students in our schools learn of their leadership and contributions.They created a Constitution which prevented Parliament from passing laws which would discriminate based on race or creed or place of origin – but they did not include sex – that is, they did not insert any language in the Constitution which would prevent Parliament from passing laws which discriminate against men or women.This referendum is simply about bringing our Constitution up to date to reflect our shared values as a society. Men and women will always be different, and no law or change to the Constitution could or should ever change that – in fact, we celebrate our differences – but we do believe that as citizens who share the same responsibilities, the time has come for men and women, our sons and daughters, to share the same rights.I know this is a value shared by Bahamians because a long process of consultation has led us to this moment. The Constitutional Commission, appointed in 2012, has traveled far and wide throughout the country, holding town halls and meeting with citizens. The Commission consulted not just widely but deeply, holding extensive meetings with lawyers, academics, church leaders, and many other citizens who wanted to share their views. I acknowledge in particular the very substantial role that was played in the process by the late Dr. Myles Munroe, the founder of Bahamas Faith Ministries. He and other Leaders met many times with the Constitutional Commission and me. They gave excellent suggestions, were very energetically involved, and very committed to seeing the Constitution reformed so that men and women could achieve equal rights as citizens.Earlier this month, the bills received overwhelming support in the House of Assembly, and then passed unanimously in the Senate. So now they go to the people – and this is a constitutional referendum, so the people’s word is final and binding.On Tuesday, June 7th, Bahamians will be asked to vote YES on four common sense changes to our Constitution, so that Bahamian men and women are able to pass citizenship to their families in the same way, and so that it will be impossible for any future Parliament to pass laws discriminating against either men or women.I want to be clear: these bills do not propose radical change. Instead, this is about making sure that the supreme law of the land reflects our values and our commitment to fairness.The First proposed Amendment would allow children born abroad to obtain Bahamian citizenship from either their Bahamian father or mother, in those circumstances where the other parent is not Bahamian. Right now, only Bahamian men are entitled to pass their Bahamian citizenship to their children born abroad in these situations.This amendment says: Bahamian mothers and their children should have the same rights as Bahamian fathers and their children.Amendment Two would enable a Bahamian woman who marries a non-Bahamian man to secure for him the same ability to apply for Bahamian citizenship – following the same steps, and subject to the same considerations – currently afforded to a Bahamian man married to a non-Bahamian woman.I would like to emphasize that the second bill would NOT make citizenship automatic for foreign husbands of Bahamian women, just as it is not currently automatic for foreign wives. It merely grants those spouses the same right to apply for citizenship, following the same very long process.There is nothing easy or quick or convenient about becoming a citizen this way – the process typically takes more than 10 years, and involves interviews and inspections to ensure the marriage is legitimate.Immigration officers are given the same investigative powers as police officers as they determine whether a marriage is legitimate. And as of 2015, it is now a criminal act to participate in a fraudulent marriage, punishable by a fine or jail or both.Thus, amendment two is designed only to help real Bahamian families, and its purpose is to give Bahamian women the same rights as Bahamian men.Amendment Three would correct that provision in our Constitution that currently discriminates against men. The change would mean that an unmarried Bahamian man could pass on his Bahamian citizenship to a child fathered with a non- Bahamian woman, if he is able to prove by DNA evidence that he is the father. This right currently belongs only to women.We are ready for a Constitution that supports fathers who want to keep their children close.Amendment Four would update Article 26 of the Constitution, so that it would become unconstitutional for Parliament to pass any laws that discriminate based on sex, which is defined as “male or female”.There have been some questions about the intent and the possible effects of this change. The purpose of this amendment is only to ensure that Bahamian men and women are equal under the law.I am going to emphasize that in The Bahamas, by law – under the Matrimonial Causes Act — marriage must be between a man and a woman, and this amendment will not change that.In fact, the lawyers who drafted the language of the amendment went out of their way to protect traditional marriage, by defining “sex” as meaning “male or female”. The language is clear, and the intent of Parliament – which any future court is likewise obliged to consider – is also crystal clear.And I am advised that there have been NO cases in Commonwealth countries like ours, with a Westminster-style Constitution, in which the right to non- discrimination on the basis of sex led to a judicially-created right to same-sex marriage.I repeat: this referendum will not cause same-sex marriage to become legal in The Bahamas. Marriage in The Bahamas will be legal only if it is between a man and a woman, and male and female are determined at birth.I am so emphatic because it is so important for Bahamians to vote on what is really at stake – equal rights for our sons and daughters – and not let false rumours or incorrect information hold sway.This referendum does not seek to change Bahamian society or our traditional values – instead it seeks to change the Constitution so that it more clearly reflects those values, and our shared belief in fairness.And so with full confidence, with immense gratitude, and with great anticipation — the baton is passed – to these very distinguished Co-Chairs, and to the many Bahamians who believe in equal rights.I know the coming weeks will see a great celebration, an outpouring of support from those who are excited to make history, and in particular, the involvement of first-time voters, who have become eligible to vote since the previous election.The YES Bahamas Campaign will be relying on Bahamians young and old for their creativity and enthusiasm, visiting each of our islands, and providing information to Bahamians on each of the amendments. And the Constitutional Commission will continue a very intense schedule of information sessions, which will also be held across the islands, where Bahamians can ask their questions in person and receive answers and information from legal experts.In carrying out this work the Commission will continue to operate independently and with neutrality. Its job is to educate not to advocate for a Yes or No vote.I want to share a conversation I had recently with an old-timer in my constituency. He asked me about the referendum, and I explained it the way I’ve done so here today. I’m not sure he was completely with me, though, until I asked him to think about his grandchildren who were playing near us in the street. Did he think that his grandsons and his granddaughters should have different rights as Bahamian citizens? He was indignant at the very thought. He wants the best for all his grandchildren – his dreams for the girls are no less grand than his dreams for the boys. And so he agreed — he wants them to grow up in a country where they are equal under the law.I know this gentleman will be voting YES on June 7th, and that in this he will be joined by Bahamians from all walks of life, across our beautiful islands. Because there are moments to unite as a nation, moments when we come together to do the right thing, and this is one of those moments. Related Items:last_img read more

  • Chugach tree fulfills holiday destiny on Capitol lawn

    first_imgThe Chugach tree arrived at the Capitol but winds kept it horizontal all day. Photo: Liz Ruskin/APRN.A 74-foot tree cut from the Chugach National Forest near Seward nearly a month ago arrived at the U.S. Capitol today. It’s the first time the Capitol Christmas tree has come from the 49th state.Download AudioThe Lutz spruce tree arrived on a flatbed, resting on wooden cradles. The tree’s 40-gallon hydration bladder and the trailer sidewalls were removed ahead of time, for the tree’s grand entrance at the base of Capitol Hill. Fairbanksan John Schank, a trucker for four decades, drove the whole 4,000-mile journey – other than the ocean part. (The tree went by ship from Anchorage to Tacoma, Wash.)“Oh the trip was awesome. The help along the way with the law enforcement from the Forest Service… They’ve been with me from Day 1,” he said. “Without them clearing the lanes for me to make these turns, it would’ve been a real tough job.”John Schank, the Fairbanks trucker who brought the tree, looks uncannily like Santa Claus. Photo: Liz Ruskin/APRN.The Lynden Transportation driver normally plies the Dalton Highway. He was chosen for this mission in part because of his long, accident-free career. But Schank just happens to have a long white beard and – no kidding — red-apple cheeks and twinkly eyes. He patiently stood for back-to-back media interviews as the tree was detached from the truck and hoisted by crane.Bruce Ward was part of the tree’s cross-country entourage, which had its own band: Blackwater Railroad Company, of Seward. Ward says the good-natured Alaska trucker was a big hit at the 15 events they held along the tree’s route.“Couldn’t get him to wear the Santa Claus hat, though,” Ward said. “But he didn’t need it.”Bruce Ward, president of Choose OutdoorsWard leads a nonprofit called Choose Outdoors that coordinates with the Forest Service to bring a tree to the Capitol from a different national forest each year. The organization raised $650,000 in corporate donations to transport the Alaska tree. Shell, he says, gave the most: $50,000, plus fuel.Ward says the Lutz is a great specimen, nice and full.“Last year when we brought it from Minnesota, it really looked a lot more like a Charlie Brown tree,” he said. “This one looks beautiful, by comparison.”Ward says there were countless special moments on the tree’s journey, starting when they were in the Chugach to fell it. This was after a big search, after the superintendent of the U.S. Capitol Grounds had already flown to Alaska to select it from among the finalists. Ward says on the big day they asked Kenaitze elder John Ross to bless the harvest.“An eagle actually circled the tree before it was cut, and he said afterwards he asked the Great Spirit to let him know if it was OK to cut this tree,” Ward recalls. “And the message he got was ‘If the eagle lands on the tree you’re not to cut it.’ And so, I’m kind of praying so he doesn’t land on the tree, right? Because we’ve gone through a lot.”A crane moved the tree from the truck to the Capitol lawn this morning, but it remained horizontal today due to high winds. Crews hope to set it upright this weekend, weather permitting.The tree will be lit at a ceremony on Dec. 2 by Soldotna fifth-grader Anna DeVolld, with help from the Speaker of the House.The tree makes its final turn at the Capitol. Photo: Liz Ruskin/APRN.last_img read more

  • Indonesia police apologise for using snake in interrogation

    first_imgA snake. AFP File PhotoIndonesian police have apologised and pledged disciplinary action after officers draped a live snake around the neck of a suspect to persuade him to confess during an interrogation session in the easternmost area of Papua.A video circulated online shows a man being questioned about stolen mobile phones seated with his hands tethered behind his back yelling in distress as a snake is pushed towards his face by an officer.The man, who can been seen writhing on the ground for much of the time is asked by an officer, “How many times have you stolen mobile phones?”The suspect later responds by saying, “Only two times.”During the video, a voice can be heard ordering the man to open his eyes and at one stage threatens to put the snake into his mouth and under his trousers.In a statement, Jayawijaya police chief Tonny Ananda Swadaya issued an apology, saying, “The investigator was not professional in doing his job”.Swadaya added that the officers had been acting on their own initiative to try get a confession, saying the snake was non-venomous and tame.“We have taken stern action against the personnel,” he said, adding the officers themselves had not physically attacked the man.Papua police spokesman Ahmad Musthofa Kamal said the case was being investigated by the internal affairs unit and if violations of the law or code of conduct were proven action would be taken.Reports of human rights abuses by security forces often emerge from Papua, where a separatist movement has simmered for decades.The former Dutch colony, the resource-rich western part New Guinea island, was incorporated into Indonesia after a widely criticized U.N.-backed referendum in 1969.Veronica Koman, a human rights lawyer focused on Papua, said by text message that using a snake in this way represented torture and was not a one-off incident in the area.Koman said a snake had also been used in an interrogation of one of her clients, whom she said was a pro-independence activist.Papua police spokesman Kamal said he was not aware of another case.last_img read more