Almanacs May Be Tool For Terrorists, FBI Says (washingtonpost.com): Amid heightened indications that al Qaeda operatives may be planning catastrophic attacks in the United States, the FBI is warning police about a new potential tool for terrorism: almanacs. An FBI intelligence bulletin sent to law enforcement agencies last week warned that "terrorist operatives may rely on almanacs to assist with target selection and pre-operational planning" because they include detailed information on bridges, tunnels and other U.S. landmarks, officials said. Although noting that "the use of almanacs or maps may be the product of legitimate recreational or commercial activities," the bulletin urged police to watch for suspects carrying almanacs, especially if they include suspicious notations or marks, because "the practice of researching potential targets is consistent with known methods of al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations."
And now, across the land, police departments are looking at this announcement and thinking: so what the hell are we supposed to do with THAT?
Apart from the fact that the vast majority of users will be perfectly legitimate students and others, how exactly are police to enforce this? People rarely walk down the street reading almanacs. They can't search every bookbag and knapsack or paper bag under the suspicion that it might contain an almanac. They can't even legally search any and all almanacs however they may find them for "suspicious" notations. And what, precisely, would "suspects carrying almanacs" be? Simply carrying an almanac should not perforce mean that you're a suspect; conversely, most suspects will likely be bright enough not to walk down the street carrying the World Almanac in full daylight.
For that matter, the information almanacs contain about landmarks is very general. their utility in determining targets of opportunity would seem to be somewhat limited, although one supposes that it could perhaps be used as a source for inspiration. Either way, it's hard to see how this particular announcement to police can be even slightly useful.Posted by iain at 06:48 PM
CNN.com - Domain names once again fetch top dollar - Dec. 25, 2003: One more sign the technology sector is rebounding: An Internet domain name is again commanding seven figures. Last week, a Florida man sold men.com for $1.3 million, a healthy profit over the $15,000 he paid for it in 1997. The buyers, largely entertainment industry folks who have opted to remain anonymous behind the acquiring company, men.com LLC, want to create a portal for men.
You know ... that doesn't sound so much like a sign that the internet economy is rebounding as it is a sign that someone somewhere has WAY too much money. (I don't include the man who sold the domain in that; he just got lucky.)
Ryan Levy, vice president of marketing for men.com, said the company also has purchased more than 1,000 other domain names over the past year at fire-sale prices to use in conjunction with the new portal. The seller, Rick Schwartz, believes he could have gotten much more for men.com by waiting longer. But Schwartz, who owns more than 4,000 other domain names, said he wanted the money now -- so that he can buy others before prices really skyrocket.
Well, he got lucky, and he seems to be some thing of an idiot. Speculating in domain names again would seem spectacularly unwise, all things considered. Unless the name is associated with trademarks -- in which case he'll lose in court battles, most like -- surely most businesses can come up with names that aren't owned, one way or another. May not be the name they'd like the best, but still. (Either that, or they can hound nonspeculator domain name owners into surrendering title. Whatever works, I suppose.)Posted by iain at 10:58 PM
My goodness. The RIAA and its minions are having a very bad streak all of a sudden, aren't they?
Court: RIAA lawsuit strategy illegal | CNET News.com: A federal appeals court on Friday handed a major setback to the record industry's legal tactics for tracking down and suing alleged file swappers, in a high-profile case pitting copyright law against the privacy rights of Internet users. Reversing a series of decisions in favor of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Washington, D.C., court said copyright law did not allow the group to send out subpoenas asking Internet service providers for the identity of file swappers on their networks without a judge's consent.
Court: Kazaa Not Responsible for Swapping (FindLaw News, Friday, Dec 19, 2003): The Dutch Supreme Court rejected a case against Kazaa, the maker of the world's most popular computer file-sharing program, ruling Friday that the company cannot be held liable for the swapping of copyrighted music, movies and programs by users. The court upheld an earlier appeals court verdict rejecting a suit filed by Buma Stemra, which protects the interests of the Dutch music industry. Buma Stemra had demanded that Kazaa stop offering free downloads from its Web site, or face a daily fine of $124,000. [...] In the United States, Kazaa's parent company, Sharman Networks Ltd., faces a copyright lawsuit filed by the Recording Industry Association of America, which also has sued individual song-swappers.
Acquittal of Norway DVD Hacker Upheld (FindLaw News, Mon Dec 22 2003): An appeals court Monday upheld the acquittal of a 20-year-old Norwegian man who posted a program on the Internet for cracking DVD security codes, a setback for anti-piracy proponents in the entertainment industry. Prosecutors appealed after Jon Lech Johansen was acquitted in January of violating Norway's data break-in laws with his DeCSS program for DVDs last year. Johansen's lawyer, Halvor Manshaus, tried unsuccessfully to have the case dismissed. The prosecution had sought a 90-day suspended jail sentence, confiscation of computer equipment and a $2,940 fine. But Judge Wenche Skjeggestad ruled that Johansen could freely copy DVDs he bought, adding he didn't violate the Nordic country's laws protecting intellectual property. "The balance between the rights of intellectual property holders and consumers has been clearly defined," Manshaus told The Associated Press. The case was widely seen as a test of Norway's computer protection laws. Prosecutors said they were considering appealing to the country's supreme court.
To be sure, the latter two cases are foreign, and have no particular bearing on what may happen in cases here. That said, it may well be that courts are seeing, now that it's been a while, how the RIAA and MPAA are abusing the powers of the administrative subpeona, and maybe thinking that there should be some limits. Not that it will slow them down too much, of course; the associations do have their staff lawyers, and if going after people using full court cases with judges will take more time, they're certainly willing to invest that time and effort.Posted by iain at 02:11 AM
Well, well, well.
Ex-Gov Ryan Indicted (Chicago Sun-Times, Wednesday, December 17, 2003): Former Gov. George Ryan was charged Wednesday with running state government for the profit of his friends, family and himself, and with trying to cover up a bribes-for- licenses scandal that ultimately led to his indictment. The 22-count indictment alleges that for more than a decade, as secretary of state and then governor, Ryan took payoffs, gifts and vacations in return for letting associates profit from steering government contracts and leases. He was charged with racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud, making false statements to investigators, tax fraud and filing false tax returns. "What we're alleging in the indictment is basically the state of Illinois was for sale," U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said.
People in this state had been wondering when, or if, the feds were going to move on this indictment. They've been sniffing around Ryan for years, now, indicting everyone he knows, as well as their spouses, and I guess they finally felt ready to move against him.
A pity, really. It would be nice for his term to be remembered for the way he went out, but instead it will be remembered for the way he went in (with the license for bribes scandal breaking everywhere) and what happened afterward.
The allegations are much more extensive than they had been indicating previously, though. Originally, it looked as though they were going to concentrate only on the license for bribes thing, and now it seems that they're charging him with being thoroughgoingly corrupt for many a long year before that.
It will be interesting to see what course this trial takes. Anyone with sense will be fleeing the jury pool as fast as they can; a 91-page indictment argues a trial that will take several weeks, at least. It's going to be filled with arcane financial data, testimony from former friends turned convicts turned turncoats, the press will be everywhere, and deliberations are likely to take quite some time all by themselves. On top of that, it will likely be incredibly difficult to find anyone in this state who doesn't already have a prejudiced opinion in the matter.
But still. Really sad.Posted by iain at 07:47 PM
Cartoonist Darrin Bell Gets Comic Syndicated: Darrin Bell started drawing when he was three and hasn't stopped since. He's been published in the Daily Californian since 1993 and in major papers across the country. Now his comic strip "Lemont Brown" will hit the press nationwide, becoming Bell's second comic strip to get syndicated. Bell's cartoon will be renamed "Candorville" for its national debut, scheduled sometime next year. He is the first African American to have two strips syndicated nationally. And he's only 27.Posted by iain at 12:57 PM
washingtonpost.com: Thurmond Paternity Claim Valid, Family Says (Washington Post, Tuesday, December 16, 2003; Page A01): After decades of denials, the family of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) acknowledged yesterday a claim made by a 78-year-old Los Angeles schoolteacher that she is the senator's mixed-race daughter, a charge that had dogged her throughout her otherwise quiet life and shadowed Thurmond during his public career as a leading voice of racial segregation. "As J. Strom Thurmond has passed away and cannot speak for himself, the Thurmond family acknowledges Ms. Essie Mae Washington-Williams' claim to her heritage," the lawyer for the Thurmond estate, J. Mark Taylor, said in a brief statement in Columbia, S.C. "We hope this acknowledgment will bring closure for Ms. Williams."
I have to admit, at one level, I do wonder what some of the fuss is. As the article notes, Rumors about Thurmond's fathering of a black child in his early life had circulated in South Carolina since at least the 1940s. And among some people, there will basically be a shrug and the statement, "These things happen," which is undeniable.
The news is unlikely to change anyone's opinion about Thurmond and his legacy, according to Don Fowler, a former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party who knew Thurmond for 40 years. "People who loved Strom will say, 'That's just ol' Strom,' " Fowler said. "And the people who hated Strom will just say, 'That's the son of a bitch.' " If word of Thurmond's unacknowledged daughter had come out in the later years of his career, he probably could have weathered the scandal, Fowler said. Not so in his youth. "There was a time that, had it been known, it would have destroyed his political career," said Fowler, who said he had never heard the woman's name until it was published in The Post. "It would have been very damaging to him. It was inconsistent with his public image." [...] But when confronted over the years, Thurmond had maintained a stoic silence, saying the question was too undignified to warrant comment. His office had described Williams as a "family friend" and conceded in 1992 that she occasionally visited him in Washington.
On the one hand, one could say that, within the very tight strictures of his particular code of ethics, Thurmond does seem to have done right by his daughter. He did not deny that he had a mixed race daughter; he simply declared that the mere question was "too undignified to warrant comment." And there is no denying that there is no particularly dignified way to say, "So, Senator, we understand that you have a daughter by a black woman and you have been a towering hypocrite for lo these many years. Any comments?" (OK, granted that it could be put slightly better than that. Nonetheless, an inquiry into someone's sex life, especially in times gone by, would have been considered impertinent and undignified in the extreme. If the press was perfectly willing to collude in keeping FDR's affair a secret, and JFK's many many affairs a public secret, then how much more would they be willing to allow this to go uncommented?)
And yet ... and yet. Maybe not so much in his later career, but back in his prime Dixiecrat days, you do wonder how he managed to square his racial positions with the fact of his daughter. And how she managed it, for that matter.
(The picture in the CNN article is quite remarkable. Nobody looking at the two of them could doubt that she's, at the least, a relative of Thurmond's. A very close relative.)Posted by iain at 11:17 AM
Europe summit ends in chaos on constitution (The Observer/Guardian, Sunday December 14, 2003): The European Union was facing the gravest crisis in its 46-year history last night after radical plans to draw up a new constitution were abandoned because of bitter in-fighting between member states. As the flagship project was delayed for at least a year and countries started to talk openly of a 'two-speed Europe', Tony Blair was left insisting that the new constitution could still be made to work despite such an embarrassing setback. It is the first time such a major summit has ended without agreement and in such acrimony. The meeting in Brussels was abandoned early after four of the key players - France, Germany, Spain and Poland - made it clear that they could not come to an agreement on voting powers under the new constitution.
Forbes.com: WRAPUP 5-EU leaders seek way out of voting rights deadlock: European Union leaders were locked in intensive negotiations on the EU's first constitution on Friday with little sign key players were budging on the central dispute over voting power. EU president Italy, struggling to steer 25 bickering present and future member states towards agreement on a historic treaty, prepared the way for possible failure saying it would not accept a deal at any cost. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, chairing the talks, raced through the routine agenda in the first session to free up more time to focus on the new charter, designed to streamline EU institutions. But he warned the summit could fail. "The voting system is the obstacle that can block the whole agreement, and that is a pity," he told reporters.
After a series of private meetings with individual leaders to sound out ways out of the deadlock, the Italian leader sounded more optimistic. "I never make bets but I believe everyone is showing a willingness to find a compromise, one that will let Europe operate and make decisions," he said.
The core of the constitution debate is a bare-knuckle fight over how much power the four biggest states -- Germany, France, Britain and Italy -- will wield and how much integration EU leaders can swallow. The row pitted heavyweights Germany and France against two of the continent's medium-sized states, Spain and Poland, which are determined to cling to voting weight disproportionate to their populations granted in the Nice treaty in 2000.
Highlights of proposed new EU constitution (EUBusiness, 14 December 2003)
Apparently, Berlusconi was a bit mistaken.
So let me get this straight-ish: The issue is essentially that the smaller states want to prevent themselves from being simply overpowered by the larger population states. Hum. Now where on earth have I seen that type of argument before .... Oh, yes.
Federalist No. 37: Concerning the Difficulties of the Convention in Devising a Proper Form of Government
.....To the difficulties already mentioned may be added the interfering pretensions of the larger and smaller States. We cannot err in supposing that the former would contend for a participation in the government, fully proportioned to their superior wealth and importance; and that the latter would not be less tenacious of the equality at present enjoyed by them. We may well suppose that neither side would entirely yield to the other, and consequently that the struggle could be terminated only by compromise. It is extremely probable, also, that after the ratio of representation had been adjusted, this very compromise must have produced a fresh struggle between the same parties, to give such a turn to the organization of the government, and to the distribution of its powers, as would increase the importance of the branches, in forming which they had respectively obtained the greatest share of influence. There are features in the Constitution which warrant each of these suppositions; and as far as either of them is well founded, it shows that the convention must have been compelled to sacrifice theoretical propriety to the force of extraneous considerations.
To put it more colloquially: been there, done that, literally wrote the book.
The current constitution gives smaller European states what the larger ones consider to be disproportionate representation in their councils. Whatever it is they were trying to do -- and the constitutions of the European Union are the most puzzling political melange one could imagine -- simple logic says that when you give the small a vote that counterweighs the large states, they're not going to give that up without gaining something in return that essentially does the same thing. Add to that the difficulties of making a federal Europe out of states that not only have a very long history of actual independence from each other, with separate languages and separate cultures, and you pretty much have a recipe for gridlock.
Key EU constitution issues (CNN, 12 December 2003): ..... Including God: Should the constitution's preamble mention God or Judeo-Christian values as part of the continent's heritage? Secular states such as France and Denmark say 'no.' Catholic Poland, Spain and Italy say 'yes.' Muslims and other religions cry foul.
... Why on earth would any sane person even bring this up as an issue for their new constitution? Surely it must be obvious to anyone trying to make a union of this polyglot that when you have countries which have different national religions, combined with immigration that brings other religions within the national boundaries, the only thing you can really say is something like, "We respect each person's right to worship as they will," and then sail on. Since the general idea is to create a secular superstate, you cannot reasonably acknowledge the role of national churches or national declarations of religion; it simply has no role within the function of the superstate. The actual statement on the subject in the proposed constitution -- "The Union respects and does not prejudice the status under national law of churches and religious associations or communities in the Member States." -- really does go about as far as you can, and somewhat further than it probably ought. One also points out that, if they're trying to acknowledge the role that religion has played in their history, the role of the Muslim church in Spain and the Catholic church in the middle east have hardly been entirely salutary -- to say nothing of that lovely period of history, not precisely yet concluded, that we like to call The Holy Inquisition, which wasn't kind to the other Europeans. You cannot enshrine in that type of document a sort of "Look how good faith has been!" without at least mentioning some of its excesses.
Interestingly, the new constitution also includes what is technically a secession clause. One wonders what kind of teeth it has. After all, yes, you can secede, but where do you go? Unless the seceding country is Russia, it will still be pretty much surrounded by Federal Europe.
In any event, Germany is apparently going to try to bully Poland into changing their position. Much as we have been bullying Europe in recent months, but with somewhat more teeth. That ought to be vastly interesting to watch. One supposes that France will try to have to bully Spain -- after all, Poland didn't scuttle the talks all on their own. And in the meantime, both France and Germany continue to flout the current constitution's rules by running much larger deficits than the constitution allows without turning to austerity measures.
Yes. Quite.Posted by iain at 06:29 PM
CNN.com - Bush: U.S. will work with Iraqis to try Saddam - Dec. 15, 2003: Saddam Hussein will face a public trial for the "atrocities" he committed against the Iraqi people, President Bush said Monday, vowing the process would be carried out in consultation with Iraqis and would stand up to international scrutiny. "There needs to be a public trial and all the atrocities need to come out and justice needs to be delivered," Bush said in a news conference, which focused primarily on the weekend capture of the former Iraqi dictator. "And I'm confident it will be done in a fair way."
Er ... yes. Well. Quite.
A trial that, at the current time, will apparently be conducted in a country without a legal system, or, really, the rule of law at all at the moment. A trial conducted by a government largely considered, even by those who still like us, to be a somewhat unwieldy puppet.
In the meantime, despite going to some lengths to avoid killing Saddam so as not to create a martyr, the US is perfectly happy to let the Iraqis kill him (utilising the currently nonexistant legal system, yes). Which may or may not create a martyr. The problem is that in order for this all to work the way they want, the US must be seen to have nothing to do with the judgement. However, the Iraq government, such as it will be by then, is unlikely to be seen as an independent entity.
The UN's position, understandably, is that it does not support the death penalty and will not bring anyone before a tribunal that might sentence them to death. To the extent that it matters at all, Iraq's Governing Council's position is that the UN's opinion is irrelevant; they plan to try him before their own special tribunal for crimes committed against the Iraqi people. At the same time, international courts actually prefer to defer to local/national courts in the matter of war crimes, when possible. So, one way or another, the court issue is going to be a titanic mess.
One puzzling thing about this weekend's wire-to-wire (except for, of all things, football and skating, which could NOT be interrupted for such developments!) news coverage was the very odd focus on the effect Saddam's capture would have on the markets. Not particularly on the security situation -- the more sane among the commentators seemed to be in agreement that it really wouldn't have much effect on the ongoing violence, since it was clear from the situation when he was captured that he really couldn't have been directing much of anything -- just the markets. (A few think that, now that it will be clear that Saddam isn't involved, some of the other groups may step up their efforts.) For some reason, the markets were supposed to take a little jersey bounce, due to unbounded optimism that things were getting better.
And, oddly enough, they did.
For, you know, an hour or two. And then things went back to normal.Posted by iain at 06:28 PM
... And when they do, they use some pretty damn big anvils.
PCWorld.com - Kazaa Blocks Copycat Service: Sharman Networks, the company behind the world's most popular download service Kazaa, has begun a mass campaign to close rival program Kazaa Lite K++ on the grounds of copyright infringement. This weekend thousands of Kazaa Lite K++ users found almost every download site that uses the application had vanished, after Sharman Networks contacted hundreds of ISPs threatening them with legal action under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act if they failed to remove the program from their Web sites.
So let me get this striaght-ish: The producers of a program used primarily if not purely to infringe on the copyrights of others is suing for infringement of copyright.
Well, all-righty, then!Posted by iain at 11:07 AM
LJWorld.com : Judge ridicules underage sex law: The state's reasons for doling out harsher punishment for illegal sex involving homosexual acts are "utterly ridiculous," a judge said Tuesday. A three-judge appeals panel heard arguments in the case of Matthew R. Limon, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison for engaging in homosexual sex with a minor. Limon was 18 years old when he was convicted in 2000 of having oral sex with a 14-year-old boy at a private group home for people with developmental disabilities in Paola. Under state law, if Limon had engaged in sex with an underage girl, he would have faced a maximum sentence of one year and three months in prison.
"I'm just trying to come up with a reason, other than you don't like homosexuals," Kansas Court of Appeals Judge Joseph Pierron told Deputy Atty. Gen. Jared Maag, who was representing the state.
Quite frankly, that really does seem to be the entirety of the state's case. It boils down to: We don't like gays, we don't want gays in our state, and we feel that we have the right and the freedom punish them excessively wherever we find them, regardless of what the US Supreme Court says. We don't even care if they're very young at the time, because we feel that sentencing them to an adult prison, where young prisoners are usually abused and raped by older, more powerful adults on a daily basis, is really the appropriate thing to do.
The state argued the reasons for different punishments of similar sex acts was to promote marriage, encourage procreation and prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. But Pierron, the head of the three-judge panel, told Maag two of those reasons were "utterly ridiculous" because the law deals with sexual acts committed by minors, which are illegal regardless of the context.
Indeed. I should think that Kansas would want to discourage any sex by and with minors; that is the traditional position of most states. That is the main purpose of age of consent laws, after all. You don't really want minors marrying, and you certainly don't want them procreating. And no age-of-consent type law anywhere has yet managed to keep sexually-active minors from catching sexually transmitted diseases. (I point out, purely for the sake of argument, that the attorney general's argument on that point reduces to: we wish to encourage our minors to marry, to have children, and to allow the heterosexual minors to transmit diseases back and forth. However, we wish to protect the homosexual minors from all of this by preventing them from having sex at all, and penalizing them when they do. Seriously, logic is not on the state's side in this case.
A decision in the matter is not expected for several months and can be appealed to the Kansas Supreme Court.
Given the attorney general's asinine opinions in this case so far, I should expect that the case most certainly will be appealed. If it weren't for the fact that it would likely moot the case, I should think that his attorneys and parents would appeal to the governor for clemency, if they haven't already. What I wonder is if the Kansas Court of Appeals will issue an order directing Limon's immediate release when they finally do decide, and what the attorney general will do about that. I should think that he will then appeal to the Court of Appeals and to the Kansas Supreme Court for an immediate stay of that order; given his vituperative rhetoric in this case, that's the sort of thing he would do.
With a little luck, if Limon is released, both courts will decline the application for a stay, and the Kansas Supreme Court will then decline to rehear the case. (Unless the Court of Appeals decides to uphold the state's right to differential sentencing, in which case I hope the Kansas Court does decide to rehear the case.)
One way or another, I have a horrible feeling this case may eventually wind up headed back to the US Supreme Court, which will have to deliver an explicit, pointed order directing Limon's release. I just think that the Kansas attorney general is pigheaded enough to keep going with this, because he thinks it will get him votes. And he may not be wrong on that.Posted by iain at 03:00 PM
... ABC7Chicago.com: High school to drug test all students... Starting next year, all the young men at St. Patrick's High School will be tested for drugs. Under the law, the private school can write its own rules. It will be the first school in Chicago to require drug testing for all students. School administrators say it is rare to find a student with a drug problem but they hope the mandatory testing will teach these young men to make better decisions in life
If it's rare, then why would you decide to demonstrate to every single student in your school that no, you don't trust them, and you don't think that without harrassment, they won't make good decisions? The plain fact is, most people don't use drugs. There is simply no reason to treat the students at large this way, except that they can because they're a private school.
It will be interesting to see how long it is before a public school -- probably in some smaller town where they have more direct control over the entire school system -- decides to test the Court's opinion by testing the entire student body. Of course, since they don't charge tuition, doing so will be considerably more problematic, since they'll have to pay the costs themselves. But somewhere, sometime soon, some small public school system will decide that it's worth it to so mistreat their students.Posted by iain at 11:19 AM
CDC Media Relations: Press Release: New Study Shows Overall Increase in HIV Diagnoses: African Americans, Latinos, Gay and Bisexual Men most affected
The most comprehensive analysis of US HIV cases completed to date reveals that new HIV diagnoses in 29 states increased in 2002, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced today. Overall, new diagnoses in these states rose by 5.1 per cent over the four-year period 1999 to 2002. The increases underscore the urgent need for public awareness and action as countries around the globe observe World AIDS Day. The new analysis of 102,590 people diagnosed with HIV in the 29 states between 1999 and 2002 shows that African-Americans continued to account for more than half (55%) the new diagnoses. Additionally, significant increases in new HIV diagnoses were observed among Latinos (26% increase) and non-Hispanic whites (8% increase). HIV diagnoses increased 17 per cent among gay and bisexual men, and 7 per cent among men overall. The study found no significant changes in the number of new HIV diagnoses among Asian/Pacific Islanders or Native Americans. The analysis was published in the November 28 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
“Fighting HIV in America is as urgent on World AIDS Day in 2003 as it was more than two decades ago when the epidemic began,” said Dr. Julie Gerberding, CDC director. “These new findings strongly support three key realities of today’s epidemic: the HIV epidemic in this country is not over; more often than not the face of HIV in this country is black or Latino; and gay and bisexual men in several communities are facing a possible resurgence of HIV infection.”
“Stigma and discrimination – themes for this year’s World AIDS Day – help perpetuate the HIV epidemic around the world and here in our own country, said Dr. Harold Jaffe, director of CDC’s HIV prevention programs. “These obstacles deter people from getting tested and prevent HIV-infected people from receiving treatment. They also increase the already heavy burden of HIV in communities of color.”
HIV and AIDS: Numbers up by 20% to 49,500 in 2002 (National Statistics Britain): By the end of 2002 the estimated number of people living with HIV in the United Kingdom was estimated at 49,500, an increase of 20 per cent compared with 2001. This figure includes undiagnosed and diagnosed people, with a third of these cases estimated as unaware of their condition. In 2002, 5711 new HIV cases were diagnosed. This was almost double the number diagnosed in 1998, which was 2818. By contrast, the numbers of AIDS diagnoses and deaths in HIV-infected individuals declined after the introduction of effective therapies in the mid-1990s, and in more recent years have remained relatively constant, with 777 reports of AIDS and 3950 deaths so far reported for 2002. The biggest component in the rapid rise in the numbers of new HIV diagnoses has been in heterosexually acquired infections. Since 1999 the number of new HIV diagnoses from heterosexuals have outnumbered those from homosexual and bisexual men.
Surviving AIDS: One Asian dying of AIDS every minute: WHO (Hindustan Times special, Monday, December 1, 2003): AIDS now kills a person every minute in the Asia-Pacific, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday, warning HIV prevalence is increasing in China, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam. The Manila-based WHO regional office for the Western Pacific said in a statement on the occasion of World AIDS Day that more than half a million people in the Asia-Pacific died of the disease in 2003. "That is one death from AIDS every minute," it said, warning that "without major investments in prevention and care, similar annual death tolls can be expected until the end of the decade." New WHO studies showed that more than seven million people were living with HIV/AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, out of the global total of 40 million. India had the highest number of people in Asia living with HIV/AIDS -- an estimated 3.8 million to 4.6 million people. According to the new report published by the WHO, "HIV prevalence is increasing in several countries, including China, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam," the statement said. It added that China accounts for about 840,000 HIV infections, with "alarming rates of infection among some populations," including in Xinjiang province where 80 per cent of injecting drug users are infected. In Indonesia and Nepal, there has been a "sudden emergence" of HIV among injecting drug users, the WHO said. "The growing number of AIDS cases in many countries of Asia and the Pacific makes clear the urgent need for HIV/AIDS care and treatment," the statement said.
Mandela says Aids rollout inspires Africa (Sunday Times, South Africa; Monday, December 1, 2003): Former President Nelson Mandela has told SABC radio news that South Africa's rollout of anti-retroviral drugs for HIV positive victims is an inspiration to other African countries. Speaking on the radio today - World Aids Day - the former President said it would influence other African countries "especially if they are convinced what that country (South Africa) is doing will lead to stopping the disease and people are going to get better". The former president, who was outspoken about the need for the rollout long before the government recently changed course and agreed to provide anti- retrovirals to HIV patients, urged people to get tested and to embark on immediate treatment if they were found to be positive.
He said: "Aids is like any other illness provided you treat it as soon as you have it. Your conscience should be clear and people can help you to recover. It is important to get treatment."
Meanwhile Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, in a message broadcast on the John Perlman show on Monday morning, called on all sections of society to "work together to fight Aids". He said the perception of Aids was skewered by the fact that the majority of the people with the disease "happen to be black".
AIDS drugs to be provided in Govt hospitals by the Press Trust of India (Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India, November 30, 2003): In a major initiative to tackle the dreaded AIDS, Government on Sunday announced that it will provide drugs for the disease in Government hospitals as pharmaceutical industries pledged to lower their prices if incentives were provided. Addressing a press conference on the eve of World AIDS Day here, Union Health Minister Sushma Swaraj said that the programme to provide AIDS medicines in Government hospitals would first begin in the six high-prevalence states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Manipur and Nagaland. The programme is expected to begin from April next and about one lakh AIDS patients are likely to access the drugs through Government hospitals and ante-natal clinics in the first year.Posted by iain at 10:45 AM