Sufferers of HIV, and families of HIV victims, have been waiting almost 30 years for a breakthrough. Today, they got some hope.
Results of a study released today showed that an experimental vaccine reduced the risk of HIV infection by 31 percent. The study was conducted by the Thailand Ministry of Public Health and involved 16,000 volunteers. This is the first such vaccine shown to help prevent HIV, and was derived from two previously attempted vaccines, according to media reports.
Researchers in Thailand, officials with the U.S. Army, and the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, collaborated on the study. Officials and HIV awareness advocates say that while this represents an important step, it could take years before a vaccine becomes available to the general public.
The HIV vaccine study is the world's largest to be ever conducted.
Rice fields with a new gene are tested for flood tolerance in Los Banos, Philippines. (File photo: Ariel Javellana/International Rice Research Institute)
Say you’re the president of a first-world, industrialized country, and you’ve been told that almost all of China’s food supply has been wiped out. That means that one billion people are going hungry. Would you rush to China’s aid?
The United Nations World Food Programme just announced that for the first time this year, one billion people are expected to go hungry. Given that these people aren’t all in one first-world country, it’s not surprising that this news has been downplayed. It also tells me that our priorities are, to put it very lightly, skewered.
On the same day this was announced, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of social networking Web site Facebook, announced that the site has added its 300 millionth member. That figure is nearly the entire population of the United States.
That tells me that 300 million people can in fact come together for one reason. If almost the entire U.S. population dropped everything and donated to food shelters, a good part of that 1 billion would cry tears of joy for weeks.
But the world, sadly, doesn’t work that way. "Millions have been buffeted by the global financial downturn, their ability to buy food is limited by stubbornly high prices. In addition, unpredictable weather patterns are causing more weather-related hunger," the WFP said, according to Reuters.
Despite Death, Late Leader Remains Potent Influence in the Jihadi Movement in Iraq
Abu Mus‘ab Zarqawi. Image provided by Christopher Anzalone via AQI.
On April 23, 60 Iraqis and Iranian Shi‘i pilgrims were killed and over 125 were wounded when two female kamikaze bombers struck near the Shi‘i shrine of Kadhimayn in Baghdad. The day before, 53 Iranian pilgrims were killed in another kamikaze attack in the province of Diyala east of the capital. On May 1, a 16 or 19-year-old, depending on reports, bomber was stopped before he could detonate his explosives-belt inside an Iraqi Turcoman Shi‘i mosque in the northern city of Kirkuk.
These attacks, which have been claimed by or are believed to have been carried out by groups connected to the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), an umbrella for the most radical Sunni-Salafi insurgent groups operating in the country, are reminiscent of the highly effective and murderous sectarian tactics perfected by Abu Mus‘ab al-Zarqawi, the late Jordanian leader of al-Qa‘ida in the Land of the Two Rivers (also known, as al-Qa‘ida in Iraq, or AQI).
Between 2003 and his death in a U.S. airstrike on June 7, 2006, al-Zarqawi outlined and implemented a plan to draw Iraq’s Sunni and Shi‘i communities into a civil war, which in turn would create chaos resulting in a failed state where AQI would be able to operate freely.
“I don’t believe in the death penalty. My mission is to end the violence against women and children. I am not here to condemn people but to condemn the act of mutilation itself.”
This is what Soraya Mire’, an activist and documentarian who has been exposing the cruelty of female circumcision, says about Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni’s proposal of using the death penalty as a means to scare off perpetrators of this practice.
Museveni wants to outlaw female circumcision, a patriarchal legacy, and those who continue to perform it would face the death penalty if a girl dies as a result of the procedure.
This move is in line with other countries and organizations that have sought to decrease the prevalence of female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice that involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia. It is traditionally thought to protect a girl’s chastity by reducing her urge for sex.
Since Uganda has a mixed track record of enacting laws to protect women, Museveni is hoping the death penalty will be crucial to end this tradition that remains largely popular among many tribes in the country, particularly those who live at the eastern border with Kenya.
The World Health Organization estimates that 3 million girls are at risk of being circumcised every year worldwide. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, the practice is extremely painful and traumatizing, can result in prolonged bleeding, a higher risk of HIV infection, infertility and even death.
The Afghan Taliban released a video of Private Bowe Bergdahl, 23, a soldier in the First Battalion of the U.S. 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, Fourth Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division who was captured on July 3 with three Afghan Army soldiers, undergoing questioning by an unseen man with excellent spoken English. In the video, Pvt. Bergdahl says that his unit was stationed in Paktika Province (southeastern Afghanistan), and that he was captured after "lagging behind" in a patrol. The video, as of yet, has not been posted to all of the major Salafi jihadi forums.
Who currently is holding him is debated, but some believe he is being held by the Taliban faction commanded by Jalaluddin Haqqani, a powerful Afghan commander allied with al-Qa'ida "Central" who maintains a widespread base of support in Waziristan, where Pvt. Bergdahl may have been moved to. In the text of the thread in which links to free online file-share web sites where the video has been loaded, part of the accompanying text says (not a literal, word-for-word translation):
"The captured American soldier is in fine and excellent health and has been treated with dignity, according to the regulations of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan [Taliban] for prisoners of war..."
The "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" is the name adopted by the Taliban for the country in the 1990s, which they continue to use. An emirate in Arabic is akin to a principality or fiefdom in English.