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African Union vows Ebola fund as Oxfam calls for 'Marshall Plan'
28 Jan 2015 at 7:29am
The African Union plans to launch an Ebola fund and disease control centre, officials said Wednesday, as aid agency Oxfam warned leaders needed to keep their promises to boost healthcare systems on the continent. Oxfam called for a "massive post-Ebola Marshall Plan", referring to the United States aid package to rebuild Europe after World War II. "This disaster might have been avoided if African governments had made free public health care and spent more on their health systems, under the commitment they made 14 years ago in the Abuja Declaration," Oxfam said in a statement. "It's clear that Africa's existing architecture for early disease detection, response and control is wholly inadequate," the aid agency added.
Sudanese rebels detain six Bulgarians: Bulgarian foreign ministry
28 Jan 2015 at 6:14am
Six Bulgarians working with the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) were detained by Sudanese rebels after their helicopter made an emergency landing in Sudan's war-torn South Kordofan province, the Bulgarian foreign ministry said. The three-member crew of the helicopter and three officers of Sofia-based Heli Air, the carrier that operated it, were being detained, a ministry spokeswoman told Reuters on Wednesday. The flight was scheduled from South Sudan to Khartoum. Fighting between the government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), which the ministry said was holding the Bulgarians, has increased in South Kordofan and Blue Nile provinces since peace talks collapsed in December.
China appoints new party boss for environment ministry
28 Jan 2015 at 5:26am
China has appointed Chen Jining, the president of Beijing's prestigious Tsinghua University, as party chief of its environment ministry, since the controversial current incumbent is retiring, the ministry said on its website on Wednesday. Chen, 51, an environmental specialist and a member of the National Environmental Advisory Commission with no previous government experience, replaces environment minister Zhou Shengxian. Zhou's decade as China's top environment official has coincided with the massive degradation of the nation's environment, with surging industrial and energy output putting huge pressure on air, rivers and soil. Zhou replaced Xie Zhenhua, who resigned after a benzene plant explosion contaminated the water supplies of several million people in northeast China.
EU presses on with anti-pollution law after Commission U-turn
28 Jan 2015 at 5:17am
By Barbara Lewis BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union president Latvia will push ahead with a law to clamp down on air pollution after the European Commission's plan to withdraw the proposals was rejected by many lawmakers. Air pollution from traffic and industry is responsible for about 400,000 premature deaths per year in the European Union, according to Commission data. An angry backlash from some member states and many in the European Parliament forced the issue back onto the agenda. "We are glad the Commission has decided to keep the NEC (National Emissions Ceiling) directive on the table," said Alda Ozola, a deputy state secretary in the environment ministry of Latvia, which holds the rotating EU presidency until end-June.
SpongeBob SquarePants Turns Up in Child's X-Ray
28 Jan 2015 at 5:05am
A doctor in Saudi Arabia was astounded to find cartoon icon "SpongeBob SquarePants" in a child's x-ray.
Asia needs more cash, campaigns, law changes to end HIV epidemic: U.N.
28 Jan 2015 at 5:02am
By Thin Lei Win BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The Asia-Pacific region will not meet the goal of ending the HIV epidemic in 15 years unless it changes laws and attitudes hostile to people living with HIV, the head of the United Nations agency on AIDS said on Wednesday. Governments need to spend more on programs targeting key groups, improve access to lifesaving drugs and overhaul punitive laws that stop people seeking help, Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "I'm fully convinced that if you don't address these issues ... it's impossible to end HIV/AIDS," said Sidibé, speaking on the opening day of an Asia Pacific inter-governmental meeting on HIV and AIDS in Bangkok. UNAIDS announced a five-year, fast-track approach in November that it said could effectively end the worldwide health threat posed by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) by 2030. HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is spread via blood, semen and breast milk.
Bulgaria says 6 nationals working for UN taken captive by rebels in Sudan
28 Jan 2015 at 4:02am
(Reuters) - A Sudanese rebel group has taken six Bulgarians working with the UN's World Food Programme captive after their helicopter was forced to land in war-torn South Kordofan province in southern Sudan, the Bulgarian foreign ministry said on Wednesday. Fighting between the government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North, which the ministry said was holding the Bulgarians captive, has increased in the provinces of South Kordofan and Blue Nile since peace talks collapsed in December.
Doping is public health issue, says world anti-doping body
28 Jan 2015 at 2:48am
Doping in sport is a public health issue, the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said Wednesday, because of the spread of substance abuse from elite athletes to school gyms. "Too many people are taking too many substances they don't even know," WADA director general David Howman told AFP in an interview in Tokyo. Howman was speaking days after cycling cheat Lance Armstrong said he would take banned substances again if faced with the same circumstances that saw him dope in 1995.
General Electric says to build 1,200 MW power plant in Ghana
27 Jan 2015 at 10:50pm
PEDUASE, Ghana (Reuters) - General Electric Co (GE) will build a 1,200-megawatt thermal power plant in Ghana to come onstream in the next five years in a bid to address the West African country's power deficit, chief executive Jeff Immelt said on Tuesday. The U.S. company will also provide emergency power systems in Ghana this year to help offset a current crisis, he said, after a meeting with President John Mahama at a presidential palace outside the capital.
Australian court rules detention of Sri Lanka asylum seekers at sea lawful
27 Jan 2015 at 10:45pm
By Jane Wardell SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's highest court ruled on Wednesday that the detention of asylum seekers from Sri Lanka on the high seas for almost a month was lawful, a win for the government's tough immigration policy. The High Court ruling means the group of 157 ethnic Tamils, who were picked up by an Australian customs boat last June after setting out from India, are not entitled to seek compensation. Lawyers for the asylum seekers were disappointed with the decision, but noted it was not unanimous and said the case succeeded in drawing attention to Australia's secretive "Operation Sovereign Borders" activities. The United Nations refugee agency, which has criticised Australia's treatment of asylum seekers, made submissions in the case.
Diagnostics, Tamiflu help Roche full-year sales beat poll
27 Jan 2015 at 10:22pm
ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Roche expects sales and profits to grow at a similar pace to last year, after a strong performance by its diagnostics unit and flu drug Tamiflu helped full-year sales beat expectations. Stripping out the impact of currency fluctuations, the world's largest maker of cancer drugs forecast 2015 sales to grow in the low-to-mid single digit range, while core earnings per share (EPS) should grow more than sales. Full-year sales rose 1 percent to 47.5 billion Swiss francs ($52.5 billion), generating flat core earnings per share (EPS) of 14.29 Swiss francs. ...
In Russia, crisis deepens slide in living standards for pensioners
27 Jan 2015 at 10:12pm
By Elizabeth Piper MOSCOW (Reuters) - For Boris Lisitsyn, Russia's financial crisis means less meat, cheese and sausage - hardships the 86-year-old says won't kill him anytime soon. Russia's pensioners were once seen as "people we just needed to support" one government official said. Their loyalty is now being tested by a financial crisis triggered by low oil prices and Western sanctions imposed on Russia over Ukraine.
Obama's 'precision medicine' plan to boost research, but faces hurdles
27 Jan 2015 at 10:07pm
By Sharon Begley and Toni Clarke NEW YORK (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's plan to put the United States at the forefront of individually tailored medical treatment should give a much-needed boost to research in the field but experts say it won't work without reforms to healthcare, including drug testing and insurance. The administration is expected to give the first details this week on the "precision medicine" initiative that Obama announced in his Jan. 20 State of the Union address. Obama said he wanted the United States to "lead a new era of medicine, one that delivers the right treatment at the right time." Precision medicine seeks to identify and treat the exact form of disease in patients based on their genome - the precise order of molecules in their DNA - as well as other factors such as the interaction of genes and environment, and the microbes in their body. We are very, very far from doing that, but the payoff would be fantastic," said biologist Keith Yamamoto, vice chancellor of research at the University of California, San Francisco, medical school.
Georgia executes convict despite claims he was mentally disabled
27 Jan 2015 at 6:11pm
Warren Lee Hill, 54, was pronounced dead by lethal injection at 7:55 p.m. (0055 GMT Wednesday), after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request to put his execution on hold, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens said in a statement. The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles refused on Tuesday to stop the execution, as did the state Supreme Court last week. Hill was condemned for beating fellow inmate Joseph Handspike to death in August 1990. Hill's supporters included former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, the American Bar Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, the European Union and the Georgia chapter of the NAACP, according to his attorneys.
5-Year-Old Girl Dies After Catching the Flu
27 Jan 2015 at 4:33pm
Kiera Driscoll of Nevada died three days after developing the flu, despite getting a flu shot.