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Archive for May 25th, 2012

President Obama’s birthplace investigative champion Dr. Orly Taitz endorsed for a Senate seat by Eric Dondero

Posted by African Press International on May 25, 2012

Major endorsement for Dr. Orly Taitz for US Senate from the founder of th Republican Liberty Caucus and Libertarian, senior aid to Ron Paul


Eric Dondero writes; 10:28 AM

Hi Orly,
We spoke briefly yesterday. Twas a pleasure. You have my official endorsement for your US Senate race. Eric Dondero, Senior Aide, US Congressman Ron Paul 1997-2003, Founder, Republican Liberty Caucus
“Yes, when she first burst on the scene, many conservatives and libertarians were a little skeptical. But Orly Taitz has been completely vindicated. Whether or not Obama was born in Hawaii, or whether he was born in Kenya and then was flown by his mother to Hawaii a couple weeks later to gain U.S. citizenship, may never be known for sure. Perhaps Obama himself doesn’t know.

But, those like Orly who were way out front on this issue the last couple years, have now been proven right. Obama was not fully vetted. And now with the author booklett that lists Obama’s birthplace as “Kenya”, the truth is out.
Orly deserves to be our Republican nominee for US Senate in California. She may have a tough fight against Feinstein.

However, it’s an opportunity to bring the issue of Obama’s birthplace out in the media. She is also a dedicated free market anti-nanny-state GOPer.
I enthusiastically endorse Orly Taitz for US Senate.” Please add to your Daily Favorites!



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Bed nets faced a long journey to acceptance

Posted by African Press International on May 25, 2012

LONDON, – No matter how compelling, medical research has historically not guaranteed swift regulatory approval, but researchers are finding ways to speed up translation of their conclusions into policy.

In the fight against malaria, it took years of consistent medical results on insecticide-treated bed nets to gain the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation in 2007. Governments will generally not implement an intervention without the WHO stamp of approval.

“After the evidence was collected, it took another decade for effective use of this intervention,” said Fred Binka, dean of the school of public health at the University of Ghana and former board member of WHO’s Roll Back Malaria Initiative.

“The problem was, who was to drive this evidence forward, when was it enough, and how do you move to policy?” Poor communication between researchers could also lead to confusion, difficulty and stalled policy recommendations, Binka noted.

But they are learning how to get approval in less time. After six years of experiments, talks began between WHO and researchers testing seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) in areas of sub-Saharan Africa where the disease is endemic. The WHO recommendation came in March 2012, just one year after the final trial results were published.

About eight out of every 10 healthy children living in endemic areas who are given four doses of anti-malarial drugs during high-transmission periods do not contract malaria. SMC treatment was previously called intermittent preventative treatment against malaria in children.

To speed the approval process, researchers consulted with WHO policy-makers while trials were still in the planning stages, SMC trial coordinator Diadier Diallo told IRIN.

Similarly, scientists working on a malaria vaccine are optimistic that they will receive a WHO recommendation soon after trial results are reported in 2014. The RTS,S vaccine encourages the production of antibodies and T-cells – part of the immune system – which weaken the malaria parasite and reduce its ability to reproduce in the liver.

“All evidence points towards a potential licence for the RTS,S vaccine in 2014 or 2015, with implementation in 2015,” said Brian Greenwood, a professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and head of the Malaria Capacity Development Consortium, which is hosted by the university to boost malaria research strength in Africa.

Photo: The Global Fund/John Rae
Tried and true, though not tested

When tests are completed, RTS,S will have cost its makers an estimated $220 million since 2007.

Parachute approach

Not all methods to control malaria, among other diseases, have taken the “gold standard” approach of scientific trials, said Immo Kleinschmidt, a researcher in the Tropical Epidemiology Group at LSHTM. Rather, common sense and communities have often promoted their use.

“It’s been proposed to adopt a ‘parachute approach’ to evidence-based trials, based on the simple observation that parachutes have never been evaluated through trials yet we don’t doubt their effectiveness,” said Kleinschmidt.

In this approach communities become testing grounds, where – like parachutes – if malaria control methods are properly functioning and effectively used, they will reduce infection and/or the risk of it.

For instance, in 2006 WHO used mostly historical data rather than findings from large trials to promote indoor residual spraying. But such instances are the exception. Community studies alone rarely provide the needed assurance to roll out new malaria interventions, said Kleinschmidt, who agreed that large experiments are always the ideal, but said tests may not work out as planned.

“We should strive to produce evidence of the highest quality, but often we have to resort to designs that don’t necessarily meet the standard, because the real world is inevitably more messy than the ivory tower.”


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ICC Trial Chamber II to deliberate on the case against Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui

Posted by African Press International on May 25, 2012

Situation: The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Case: The Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui


The trial in the case The Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui has entered its final stages following closing statements that took place at the International Criminal Court (ICC) from 15 to 23 May 2012. During the closing statement hearings, the Prosecution, the legal representatives of victims and the Defence presented their final arguments. The ICC’s Trial Chamber II, comprising Judge Bruno Cotte (presiding judge), Judge Fatoumata Dembele Diarra and Judge Christine Van den Wyngaert will deliberate on the proceedings and, within a reasonable period, will pronounce its decision. The Chamber bases its decision only on the applicable law and on evidence submitted and discussed before it at the trial.

Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, Congolese nationals, are charged with three counts of crimes against humanity and seven counts of war crimes allegedly committed in the context of an armed conflict in Ituri which began in Djugu territory and in the town of Mongbwalu, and in particular during the joint attack by combatants allegedly led by Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui and Germain Katanga on Bogoro village on 24 February 2003, which was allegedly part of a widespread attack directed not only against a military camp located in that village but also against the civilian population of the village. The trial started on 24 November 2009.

Over the course of 239 hearings, the Chamber heard 24 witnesses and experts called by the Office of the Prosecutor, 28 witnesses and experts called by the two Defence teams and 2 witnesses called by the legal representatives of the victims participating in the proceedings. The Chamber also called 2 other experts to testify. The judges ensured the respect of the rights guaranteed by the Rome Statute to each of the parties, including the right to cross-examine the witnesses.

A total of 366 victims, represented by their legal counsel, were authorised to participate in the trial. They have expressed their position on matters heard before the Chamber and were authorised to examine witnesses on specific issues.

The Trial Chamber issued 130 oral decisions, and 456 written decisions. The parties and participants before the Chamber exchanged more than 3,290 filings.




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Attempts to fix rice prices are not working

Posted by African Press International on May 25, 2012

Attempts to fix rice prices are not working

ABIDJAN,  – Some 320,000 people in Côte d’Ivoire are grappling with hunger partly because they cannot afford the high prices of imported rice, but government efforts to bring down the cost of the staple food are so far not working well.
More than half of the country’s cereal intake is rice, but just half of the national requirement is produced domestically, making Ivoirians heavily dependent on imported rice. Government statistics record some 837,000mt imported in 2010, and 819,061mt in 2009.
In March 2012, the price of imported rice was 68 to 92 US cents per kg – 30 to 50 percent more than the five-year average, depending on where the market was located – while locally grown rice cost 55 to 77 US cents per kg, making it 15 percent more expensive.
The price of manioc – another staple food, also known as cassava – which is heavily consumed in western Côte d’Ivoire, has gone up by 70 percent.
Food insecurity is most severe in the north and west, where hundreds of thousands of people were displaced in the election-related violence that overtook much of the country from 2010 to 2011, when they could not access their fields to plant crops.
Some 260,000 people in the west are moderately or severely food insecure, and 60,000 are food insecure in the north, according to the World Food Programme (WFP). On average these families spend over half of their daily income on food.  
Prices in the north also are coming under increasing upward pressure because many of the available grains are being exported to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Mali, which are experiencing widespread hunger.  
Some 1.1 million people in Burkina Faso and 3.5 million in Mali are food-insecure or malnourished, according to government statistics; while just over half the international aid responses for the two countries are funded – 53 percent for Burkina Faso and 52 percent for Mali – according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The latest nutrition survey in Côte d’Ivoire, carried out in late 2011 – another one will take place in July 2012 – put the global acute malnutrition rate in the west at 4.7 percent, and in the rest of the country at 7.7 percent.
However, chronic malnutrition in children younger than five years ranges from 35 percent in the south to 43.6 percent in the north, which WFP described as “quite alarming”. Because of these figures, WFP is extending its emergency food programmes in Côte d’Ivoire until the end of October of 2012.  
“Rice has become gold”
In early April 2012 the government tried to regulate prices by imposing guidelines: the most widely consumed rice should cost between 207 and 317 cfa (40 to 60 US cents) per kg; semi-luxe rice should be sold at 362 to 543 cfa (70 cents to $1.05); and fragrant rice at 710 to 760 cfa ($1.38 to $1.48) per kg.
But six weeks later these measures have not yet been implemented at most of the main markets in Abidjan, the commercial capital. “Every time the government announces a drop in food prices, when you go to the market two or three days later you see nothing has changed,” said Françoise Etilé, a housewife from the Yopougon area of Abidjan.  
In many markets rice prices have gone up even more. “Rice has become gold,” said Etilé. “Already families are only eating one meal a day, and now we’re heading towards one meal every two days.” Traders say they are not to blame for the high prices, which are experienced globally and dictated by international markets.
“Each time he [Minister of Commerce Dagobert Banzio] accuses of us of causing the rises, but this is not true,” Salif N’diaye, a big rice vendor in Abidjan’s Marcory neighbourhood, told IRIN. He closes his shop for several days each time a new price category is announced, “Otherwise my stock would disappear.”
Price-watching teams

The government is now taking stronger measures and sending monitoring teams to markets to verify prices. “We have given three months for them [traders] to sort this out, to see prices significantly drop. Some show good willing but others still refuse – it’s deplorable,” Banzio told IRIN.
Ginaluca Ferrera, head of WFP in Côte d’Ivoire, welcomed the government’s proactive approach. “The government does not want to wait for foreign aid – it is good that they are trying to help with macroeconomic measures,” he said, but noted that discussions must be held with importers and traders so that compromise solutions can be found.
Fixing rice prices is difficult in today’s globalized marketplace, said Marie Noelle Koyara, head of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Côte d’Ivoire, and would probably not be in line with development strategies agreed with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.  
Likewise, further reducing taxes on rice, which were cut in March, or subsidising prices would be expensive for the state, and would not necessarily lead to a significant drop in prices, given the role of external market forces in raising rice prices, Koyara added.
Rather than setting fixed prices, it would be more effective to clamp down on outside factors like racketeering, which push up the price of cereals, and to significantly boost rice production, the FAO said, noting that the government has put in place a project to boost rice production to 1.9 million mt by 2016, and aims to reach 2.1 million mt by 2018.
At the end of March the government tried to counter the racketeering associated with high prices, but observers say not enough is being done to stop the widespread criminality and banditry in the north and west, where ex-combatants or criminal gangs set up roadblocks to extract money from transporters or to loot their goods.

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