Archive for January, 2019

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Edgar Lungu, the current President of Zambia, is to undergo medical treatment aboard after collapsing while on stage in Lusaka on Sunday during a ceremony for International Women’s Day. The Presidency announced yesterday that Lungu will have throat surgery abroad.

Doctors on Sunday diagnosed him with malaria. Lungu spoke to the press from hospital on Sunday saying “I am looking forward to going home. Doctors have done their tests and they have found traces of malaria, but they are doing further tests and they will let me know what next after before the end of the day”.

A later announcement identified his condition instead as a narrowing of the oesophagus, which he had previously received treatment for three decades ago. Despite not announcing where Lungu would head to be treated the Presidency did say he would undergo a “high-tech medical procedure which is currently unavailable in Zambia”.

Lungu, who only became the Zambian President in January, has previously dispelled rumours of his health. During the election he fought back against comments about his health calling it a “smear” campaign against him.

Some in Zambia have claimed the presidency is “jinxed”. Lungu’s predecessor Michael Sata died in October of last year at the age of 77 in London, England. Sata died only six years after serving President Levy Mwanawasa died following a stroke.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The International Labor Organization (ILO), a branch of the United Nations concerned with labor and workers’ rights issues, issued a report Wednesday explaining how the global economic crisis could create a global employment crisis by the end of the year.

“By the end of 2008 working poverty, vulnerable employment and unemployment were beginning to rise as the effects of the slowdown spread,” the report states. “If the recession deepens in 2009, as many forecasters expect, the global jobs crisis will worsen sharply.” Even for those who keep their jobs, the report predicts that “earnings and other conditions of employment will deteriorate.”

In a worst-case scenario, the ILO says 51 million jobs could be lost in 2009, meaning that 7.1% of the world’s working population would be out of a job. In a more realistic scenario, the report foresees a loss of 30 million jobs, with a global unemployment rate of 6.5%. The unemployment rate has increased in recent years, from 5.7% in 2007 to an estimated 6% in 2008.

Even the report’s most optimistic scenario for this year, a loss of 18 million jobs at an unemployment rate of 6.1%, is not much different than the ILO’s October 2008 prediction of 20 million jobs lost this year due to the financial crisis.

The report warns that developing countries in South Asia and Subsaharan Africa will be harshly affected by the economic crisis. Although working poverty – defined as having daily wages of US$2 or less – is on an overall decline, these regions are still characterized by poor working conditions, low salaries, and an insecure job market. This will only worsen in 2009, according to the ILO.

“Taking into account that a wage and salary job in poor regions may still not ensure all the components of a decent job, it becomes understandable that only a minority of working people have a job that is well paid, respects their fundamental rights and ensures some security in case of job loss, personal or family illnesses, or other difficulties.” The report says that by the end of 2008, nearly 53% of workers around the world could be in “vulnerable employment”.

In terms of actual unemployment, however, developed countries are the ones most likely to be affected by the downturn, as they are more tied to the global financial system. The unemployment rate in the European Union and other developed economies increased by 0.7 percentage points in 2008, the largest increase of all regions. “Globalization combined with rapid technological advances is another challenge for labour markets in the region,” the ILO says. “It is important for workers and employers to be ready and able to adjust quickly to change and to stiffer competition.”

A wage and salary job in poor regions may still not ensure all the components of a decent job…

Still, the unemployment rate of 6.4% in these developed countries is far less than in North Africa and the Middle East, which had unemployment rates of 10.3% and 9.4% respectively. East Asia had the lowest unemployment rate of the regions at 3.8%.

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The report urged global economies to take cooperative measures, including working with the United Nations, in order to stem the economic crisis. It also asks governments to address the “negative social consequences of globalization” by placing on emphasis an social justice-based programs targeted toward women, youth, and other “vulnerable groups”.

In particular, the ILO says governments should establish public infrastructure projects such as road construction, expand health insurance and unemployment benefits, and focus on the creation of green jobs when devising their stimulus plans. “When governments design fiscal stimulus packages, it is important that they consider employment-related goals, including explicit employment growth targets,” the report concluded.

“In the world, there remains a huge untapped labour potential, and economic growth and development could be much higher if everyone was given the chance of a decent job.”

Pfizer and Microsoft team up against Viagra spam

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18
Jan

Sunday, February 13, 2005

New York –”Buy cheap Viagra through us – no prescription required!” Anyone with an active email account will recognize lines like this one. According to some reports, unsolicited advertisements (spam) for Viagra and similar drugs account for one in four spam messages.

BACKGROUND

Spamming remains one of the biggest problems facing email users today. While users and systems administrators have improved their defenses against unsolicited email, many spammers now insert random words or characters into their letters in order to bypass filters. The Wikipedia article Stopping email abuse provides an overview of the various strategies employed by companies, Internet users and systems administrators to deal with the issue.

Ever since pharmaceutical giant Pfizer promised to cure erectile dysfunction once and for all with its blue pills containing the drug sildenafil citrate, spammers have tried to tap into male anxiety by offering prescription-free sales of unapproved “generic” Viagra and clones such as Cialis soft tabs. Legislation like the U.S. CAN-SPAM act has done little to stem the tide of email advertising the products.

Now Pfizer has entered a pledge with Microsoft Corporation, the world’s largest software company, to address the problem. The joint effort will focus on lawsuits against spammers as well as the companies they advertise. “Pfizer is joining with Microsoft on these actions as part of our shared pledge to reduce the sale of these products and to fight the senders of unsolicited e-mail that overwhelms people’s inboxes,” said Jeff Kindler, executive vice president at Pfizer.

Microsoft has filed civil actions against spammers advertising the websites CanadianPharmacy and E-Pharmacy Direct. Pfizer has filed lawsuits against the two companies, and has taken actions against websites which use the word “Viagra” in their domain names. Sales of controlled drugs from Canadian pharmacies to the United States are illegal, but most drugs sold in Canada have nevertheless undergone testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This is not the case for many of the Viagra clones sold by Internet companies and manufactured in countries like China and India. While it was not clear that CanadianPharmacy was actually shipping drugs from Canada, Pfizer’s general counsel, Beth Levine, claimed that the company filled orders using a call center in Montreal, reported the Toronto Star.

For Microsoft’s part, they allege that the joint effort with Pfizer is part of their “multi-pronged attack on the barrage of spam.” As the creator of the popular email program Outlook, Microsoft has been criticized in the past for the product’s spam filtering process. Recently, Microsoft added anti-spam measures to its popular Exchange server. Exchange 2003 now includes support for accessing so-called real-time block lists, or RTBLs. An RTBL is a list of the IP addresses maintained by a third party; the addresses on the list are those of mailservers thought to have sent spam recently. Exchange 2003 can query the list for each message it receives.

Cialis blog controversy is major war of words

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17
Jan

Friday, February 3, 2006

Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Company is currently engaged in a war of words with John Mack, editor of the monthly newsletter Pharma Marketing News. Mack and Eli Lilly are debating the origin of the Cialis Blog, a long-running Web site containing information about the popular anti-impotence medication Cialis. The Web site features information about Cialis’ clinical trials and commentary from Lilly ICOS executives.

Mack has suggested that Eli Lilly and Company sponsors the Cialis Blog. However, Lilly ICOS has asserted that it has nothing to do with the Web site.

Mack disputed Eli Lilly’s version of events calling the Cialis Blog “too far-fetched to be believed” and an example of Lilly’s “incredible incompetence.” Another blog, Envisioning 2.0, notes that the “Cialis blog is not endorsed by the powers that be at Lilly ICOS, according to Lilly spokesperson Kindra Strupp.”

Pharmaceutical Executive first mentioned the Cialis blog in an October 2004 article about pharmaceutical blogging. The author of the story assigned responsibility for the blog to Lilly ICOS without attribution.

Other bloggers have posted comments on Envisioning 2.0 and Mack’s Pharma Marketing Blog suggesting that the Cialis Web site may be unofficial. They cite evidence from a WHOIS search indicating that Mircea Piturca of Romania apparently registered the blog.

Mack and bloggers commenting on the debate have all urged Eli Lilly to take action against the site. They all believe it is in the company’s best interest to have the site shuttered.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A bomb exploded early on Tuesday morning in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, injuring two police officers. Investigations into the identity of the bombers and their motive are continuing. The Real Irish Republican Army a paramilitary group that aims to bring about a united Ireland, has claimed responsibility.

The explosion on Culmore Road caused serious damage to nearby buildings, including Da Vinci’s hotel and a branch of the Ulster Bank. A telephone warning was given an hour beforehand and the area, including the hotel, was cleared. The officers, standing near the edge of the exclusion zone, suffered injuries to their necks and ears when they were blown over by the blast.

Chief Superintendent Stephen Martin from the Police Service of Northern Ireland asked for anyone who had seen the Vauxhall Corsa car in which the bomb was hidden before the explosion to come forward. Although the bomb, thought to be over 200lb, was left near the bank, Mr Martin did not think it was the intended target and said that the bomb may have been left because of the presence of police in the area.

The Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness, called the bombers “Neanderthals” and “conflict junkies”, and added that they were “failing miserably” to destroy the peace process in Northern Ireland. He is attending the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham; the Daily Mail reports he refused to comment on if the attack was to coincide with his absence. The city’s mayor, Colm Eastwood, who was at the scene, said he was “disgusted”, adding “I do not know what these people are hoping to achieve. They say they love their country but they spend time trying to destroy it.”

Friday, February 15, 2008

On Wednesday, United States film director Steven Spielberg withdrew from his position as artistic adviser to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. “Conscience will not allow me to continue with business as usual,” he said.

“Sudan’s government bears the bulk of the responsibility for these ongoing crimes but the international community, and particularly China, should be doing more to end the continuing human suffering there,” Spielberg’s statement said. “China’s economic, military and diplomatic ties to the government of Sudan continue to provide it with the opportunity and obligation to press for change.”

China immediately expressed regret over his decision and suggested that “ulterior motives” may be at play. “It is understandable if some people do not understand the Chinese government policy on Darfur, but I am afraid that some people may have ulterior motives, and this we cannot accept. … China is also concerned about the humanitarian situation in Darfur. [But] empty rhetoric will not help. We hope that relevant people will be more pragmatic,” said Liu Jianchao, the Deputy-Director General of the Information Department in China’s foreign ministry.

Following Spielberg’s withdrawal, other organizations called for boycott of the Games. However, United Kingdom Minister for the Olympics Tessa Jowell rejected such calls. “The world has known for the last seven years that Beijing would host the Olympics,” Jowell told The Times. “Most progressive governments accept that there are wholly unacceptable aspects of Chinese policy, but that did not stop the International Olympic Committee awarding them the games. A call for a boycott doesn’t serve any purpose and it would be a great pity. This doesn’t mean, however, we should be distracted from the urgency of Darfur.”

“China is also concerned about the humanitarian issues there, but we have been playing a positive and constructive role in promoting peace in Darfur,” Liu said, adding that China is working with the United Nations to provide aid and resolve the crisis.

Critics of China contend that China supports the Islamic regime in Sudan because it buys two-thirds of the country’s oil exports and also sells it weapons. Further, China has been defending the government in Khartoum in the United Nations Security Council. Since 2003, fighting between government-backed militia and rebels in Darfur has led to the death of more than 200,000 people and displaced some 2.5 million others.

Meanwhile, United States President George W. Bush confirmed that he still plans to attend the Games in Beijing. “I view the Olympics as a sporting event. On the other hand, I have a different platform to Steven Spielberg, so I get to talk to Hu Jintao [President of China] and I do remind him he can do more to relieve the suffering in Darfur.”

Bush followed this by saying: “I’m not going to use the Olympics as an opportunity to express my opinions to the Chinese people in a public way because I do it all the time with the president.”

Category:July 15, 2010

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Friday, April 22, 2005

Ireland’s National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) has posted a 2.4% return for the first quarter (9.6% annualized). On March 31, the funds value stood at €12.3bn, a rise of €290m (excluding state contributions) since December 31.

Donal Geaney, the fund’s chairman, told the press that growth in the past quarter had been driven by the Fund’s European equity investments.

Mr Geaney, former Élan CEO, has pursued a policy of diversification since February of this year, with the stated aim of placing a larger amount of the funds assets in companies with small market capitalizations and in property funds.

The fund was set up by the National Pensions Reserve Fund Act, 2000 to partially meet the expected rise in Irish pension costs from 2025 onwards.

7.2 magnitude earthquake strikes Mariana Islands

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15
Jan

Saturday, August 14, 2010

An earthquake of 7.2 magnitude on the Richter scale struck the Mariana Islands today. The epicenter was located 1,484 kilometers northeast of Davao, Philippines and 2,703 kilometers northeast of Lahad Datu, Sabah at a depth of 4.7 kilometers.

The eathquake struck Mariana at 07:19 a.m. local time (09:19 p.m. GMT Friday). The Northern Marianas emergency management office said that there were no damages reported in the nation. Also the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said that there was no Tsunami indication.

No tremors were felt in any of the major islands like Saipan nor in Hagåtña, the capital of Guam. An aftershock measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale hit the islands ten hours later but it did not trigger a tsunami.

Bomb hits northwestern Pakistan; at least 30 killed

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15
Jan

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A suicide car bomb attack in northwestern Pakistan has killed at least 30 people, including some children.

Investigators say the bomb exploded Tuesday on a busy street near a market in the city of Charsadda, 40 kilometers north of Peshawar. The blast wounded dozens of people and destroyed several buildings.

“The death toll has gone up to 32 and more than 100 people have been wounded in this suicide attack,” said Bashir Bilour, the Senior Minister of North West Frontier Province.

Hazrat Ali, a shopkeeper, was a witness to the event. He recounted his experiences to the Agence France-Presse news agency. “I was buying something before closing my shop. A car was parked on the other side of the road and all of a sudden there was a huge blast. There was smoke and darkness everywhere. I passed out.” Ali sustained shrapnel injuries to his forehead and torso.

This was the third bombing in the area in three days. On Monday, a suicide bomber in a rickshaw blew himself up at a checkpoint in Peshawar, killing three people. A suicide bomber killed thirteen people in a crowded market outside the city on Sunday.