Friday, December 1, 2017

Global complacency threatens the lives of children and adolescents as world set to miss global AIDS target – UNICEF

NEW DELHI/NEW YORK/JOHANNESBURG, 01 December 2017 – In 2016, 120,000 children under the age of 14 died of AIDS related causes, and 18 children were infected with HIV every single hour. If current trends persist, there will be 3.5 million new adolescent HIV infections by 2030, according to projections from the 2017 UNICEF Statistical Update on Children and AIDS released today.

“It is unacceptable that we continue to see so many children dying from AIDS and so little progress made to protect adolescents from new HIV infections,” said Dr. Chewe Luo, Chief of HIV for UNICEF. “The AIDS epidemic is not over; it remains a threat to the lives of children and young people and more can and should be done to prevent it.”

A UNICEF analysis of demographic trends and new HIV data reveals that targets set in the 2020 Super-Fast-Track framework developed in 2016 to end AIDS among children, will not be achieved.

There has been some progress in the fight against AIDS, notably in preventing mother to child transmission of HIV. Around 2 million new infections among children have been averted since 2000. However, UNICEF warns that such progress must not lead to complacency as the Statistical Update highlights that children age 4 and under living with HIV face the highest risk of AIDS-related deaths compared to other age groups.

Paediatric HIV testing and treatment is lagging, with only 43 per cent of HIV exposed infants being tested within the recommended first two months of life, and the same percentage of children living with HIV receiving lifesaving antiretroviral treatment.

UNICEF says progress in preventing new HIV infections among adolescents and improving testing and treatment in adolescent populations has been unacceptably slow. In 2016 alone, 55,000 adolescents (age 10-19) died from AIDS-related causes, 91 per cent of them in sub-Saharan Africa. The data also reveals a worrying gender disparity: for every five adolescent boys living with HIV, there are seven girls of the same age.

“To continue at this slow rate of progress is to gamble with the lives of children and commit future generations to a preventable life of HIV and AIDS,” Dr Luo added. “We must act urgently in order to sustain any gains we have made in the past decade.”
UNICEF proposes a way forward for addressing gaps in the HIV response. This includes:
  • Investing in, and utilising emerging innovations such as HIV self-testing, pre-exposure prophylaxis and new paediatric drugs;
  • Scaling-up the response for children including expanding treatment programmes and investment in new technology for point-of-care diagnostics;
  • Strengthening capacity of governments for the collection of comprehensive, disaggregated testing and treatment data, especially on adolescents, to help inform programming;
  • Prioritising interventions for adolescent girls in sub-Saharan Africa.

The AIDS epidemic must remain a global public health concern, according to UNICEF. Innovative solutions must be adopted to speed up progress in preventing HIV infection of children and ensuring those living with HIV get the treatment they need.

UP Civic polls Saffronised

Uttar Pradesh, BJP candidates have won 14 out of 16 mayoral posts in Urban Local Bodies elections. Party has won Lucknow, Allahabad, Agra, Varanasi, Ghaziabad, Gorakhpur, Faizabad, Kanpur, Bareily, Saharanpur, Mathura, Jhansi, Firozabad, and Moradabad Municipal corporations. Bahujan Samaj Party nominees have won two mayoral posts of Aligarh and Meerut.
Newly constituted Ayodhya Faizabad Municipal corporations has gone in the favour of BJP. Its nominee Rishikesh Upadhya has defeated his nearest rival Samajwadi Party`s Gulshan Bindu Kinnar.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had initiated his campaign for the elections from Ayodhya Samajwadi Party has alleged irregularities in the counting by the local administration at the behest of the ruling BJP.
Main opposition Samajwadi Party and Congress were unable to open their accounts for mayoral posts.
Our correspondent reports that results of 67 chairmen posts
out of 198 Nagar Palika Parishads have been declared and of them 20 have gone in the favour of BJP. Samajwadi Party has won 17, BSP 8 and Congress 3.
Counting in remaining seats is underway. Similarly results of 235 posts out of 438 Chairmen of Nagar Panchayats have been declared. Of them BJP has won 56. Samajwadi Party has won 43, BSP 24 and Congress has won 8 posts.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has said that he would like to give credit of this win to all BJP workers who worked for the party to communicate its agenda of development to all. Talking to media persons at party headquarter at Lucknow he said that he would also like to thank all the voters for their support to BJP nominees.
He said this victory has increased the responsibility of the Government and party to implement the welfare schemes. Party`s State Unit President Dr Mahendra Pandey has said that BJP is committed to implement its all promises made in Sankalp Patra released during the local bodies polls

FSSAI issues detailed guidelines on recall of food products

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has asked companies to put in place a proper plan to recall food products from markets, if found unsafe.
Food safety regulator yesterday issued detailed guidelines on recall of food products and said that the purpose is to help food business operators to frame a proper recall plan and implement them when the situation demand.
According to FSSAI, food recalls are an appropriate method for removing or correcting marketed food products and their labelling that violate the laws administered by the regulatory authority.
Recall can be defined as an action to remove food products from market at any stage of the food chain, including that possessed by consumer, which may pose a threat to the public health or food that violate the Act.
The recovered product must be stored in an area which is separated from any other food product. Accurate records are to be kept of the amount of recovered product and the batch codes of the product recovered.
FSSAI further said the companies, which have produced unsafe products, should take steps so that the need for such recalls do not arise again in future.

Two earthquakes hit eastern Iran

United States Geological Survey (USGS) has said, two earthquakes hit eastern Iran in quick succession early today. It said a strong magnitude 6.0 tremor struck at a shallow depth close to the populous city of Kerman, followed by a less powerful 5.0 aftershock 10 minutes later in the same area.
However, USGS predicted a low chance of widespread loss to life or property.
The latest tremors come just over two weeks after a 7.3 quake killed more than 400 people in western Kermanshah province, close to the border with neighbouring Iraq.

Obama:Automation is the way forward

Former US President Barack Obama has said India and the US can solve any problem if the two countries are working together. Addressing Hindustan Times leadership summit in New Delhi today, Mr Obama said, India played a key role during the Paris accord on climate change which was not only politically difficult but a right thing to do. He said, all nation have to work to lower the carbon emissions.
Mr Obama said, the partnership between the world’s oldest and largest democracies is a defining one. He said, India’s movement towards a more modern economy that would lift millions of people out of poverty is important. He said, US worked very hard to get India into the Nuclear Supply Group but it did not get the cooperation of every country on the issue.
Mr Obama said automation is the way forward and much of the world’s investment needs to head in this direction. He said, people can not unwind globalisation or pretend automation does not exist and there is a need to invest in people’s skills and education.
Speaking on terrorism, Mr Obama stressed that terrorism of any sort, directed at any country eventually affects everyone. He said, after 26/11 Mumbai attacks, US was as obsessed as India to dismantle the terror network. Replying to a query, he said, US had no evidence that Pakistani government was aware of Osama Bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan.
Speaking on the similarities between the two nations, the former US President said, values of openness and rule of law, freedom of speech are common in India and US. He said, India and US have thrown off the yoke of colonialism and constitution of both countries begin with the same three words, We the People.
On social media, He said, those who are leaders, it is important to be mindful about the power of technological tools and their limits. Mr Obama said, think before you speak, think before you tweet.
He said, for a country like India where there is a Muslim population that is successful, integrated and considers itself as Indian, this should be nourished and cultivated.
Obama was more direct in criticising Trump´s threat to leave the 2015 Paris climate accord on slashing global carbon emissions.
“It is an agreement that — even though we have a little bit of a pause in American leadership — is giving our children a fighting chance,” he said.
Trump has threatened several times to withdraw from the Paris accord saying it is crippling US business. He has called for the agreement to be renegotiated.
Obama would not be drawn into other questions about the US administration at the appearance where he called “destructive populism” a threat to modern democracy.
“The thing I love about America and I suspect the thing you love about India is just this cacophony of life and it throws up all kinds of variety,” Obama said in response to one attempt to force a comment on Trump.
“There are political trends in American that I don´t agree with and abide by but I recognise as part of a running thread in American life.”
Obama said he has become “obsessed” with the way news is handled and consumed, particularly by the young.
“We are more connected than ever before but … more and more we are fitting facts to suit our opinions rather than formulating our opinions based on facts,” said Obama, who was in China before visiting India, and next goes to Paris.

Scholars Have Found a Rare Copy of Heretical Writings on Jesus And His ‘Brother’


Scholars Have Found a Rare Copy of Heretical Writings on Jesus And His ‘Brother’

This didn’t make it into the Bible.
1 DEC 2017
Near what is today the Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi, some 1,400 years or so ago, somebody buried a whole bunch of documents in a jar.
It’s now been revealed that fragments of one of those manuscripts are somewhat different to the others in this hidden library. For one thing, they’re written in Greek rather than Coptic. But a strange sequence of dots also hints at a more didactic purpose.
The Nag Hammadi library consists of 52 texts spread through 13 leather-bound vellum codices that were discovered back in 1945 by local farmers looking for fertiliser.
Traced back to anywhere between the 2nd and 6th century CE, they are of a heretical tradition described as Gnosticism – an early, rather mystical form of Christianity.
Like so many Gnostic records, most of the documents are written in Coptic, a traditional language written and spoken in Egypt for many centuries.
Earlier this year, religious studies researchers at The University of Texas at Austin discovered one was different to most of the others – it was a copy of an existing piece scribed in Greek.
“To say that we were excited once we realised what we’d found is an understatement,” says Geoffrey Smith, a scholar of Biblical Greek and Christian origins.
“We never suspected that Greek fragments of the First Apocalypse of James survived from antiquity. But there they were, right in front of us.”
The manuscript is famous for describing a conversation between Jesus and James, who he refers to as frequently ‘my brother’. Before we get too excited about proof of siblings, he does make it clear that James is “not my brother materially“.
Nonetheless, the document is technically heretical, not being included in the Christian canon as a bonafide gospel by Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, who led discussions in the 4th century on what scriptures to include in the New Testament.
“The text supplements the biblical account of Jesus’s life and ministry by allowing us access to conversations that purportedly took place between Jesus and his brother, James – secret teachings that allowed James to be a good teacher after Jesus’s death,” says Smith.
Being written in Greek isn’t the only thing that makes it stand out.
“The scribe has divided most of the text into syllables by using mid-dots,” says Brent Landau, a lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Texas.
“Such divisions are very uncommon in ancient manuscripts, but they do show up frequently in manuscripts that were used in educational contexts.”
In other words, this version of the text was a teaching tool, probably modelling Greek for students. Most example texts are small sections of known texts – having a complete translation of the First Apocalypse of James could reflect the teacher’s love of the account.
The Nag Hammadi library holds immense importance for the understanding of Gnostic culture.
No doubt this more unusual sample will add colourful detail to our impression of the development of Christianity in the first few centuries.
The discovery was announced at the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting in Boston in November.

Decisions taken by the Union Cabinet

Cabinet approves setting up of National Nutrition Mission  
The Union Cabinet chaired by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi  has approved setting up of National Nutrition Mission (NNM) with a three year budget of Rs.9046.17 crore commencing from 2017-18.
The NNM, as an apex body, will monitor, supervise, fix targets and guide the nutrition related interventions across the Ministries.
The proposal consists of
·         mapping of various Schemes contributing towards addressing malnutrition
·         introducing a very robust convergence mechanism
·         ICT based Real Time Monitoring system
·         incentivizing States/UTs for meeting the targets
·         incentivizing Anganwadi Workers (AWWs) for using IT based tools
·         eliminating registers used by AWWs
·         introducing measurement of height of children at the Anganwadi Centres (AWCs)
·         Social Audits
·         Setting-up Nutrition Resource Centres, involving masses through Jan Andolan for their participation on nutrition through various activities, among others.
The programme through the targets will strive to reduce the level of stunting, under-nutrition, anemia and low birth weight babies. It will create synergy, ensure better monitoring, issue alerts for timely action, and encourage States/UTs to perform, guide and supervise the line Ministries and States/UTs to achieve the targeted goals.
More than 10 crore people will be benefitted by this programme.  All the States and districts will be covered in a phased manner i.e. 315 districts in 2017-18, 235 districts in 2018-19 and remaining districts in 2019-20.
An amount of Rs. 9046.17 crore will be expended for three years commencing from 2017-18. This will be funded by Government Budgetary Support (50%) and 50% by IBRD or other MDB. Government budgetary support would be 60:40 between Centre and States/UTs, 90:10 for NER and Himalayan States and 100% for UTs without legislature. Total Government of India share over a period of three years would be Rs. 2849.54 crore.
Implementation strategy would be based on intense monitoring and Convergence Action Plan right upto the grass root level. NNM will be rolled out in three phases from 2017-18 to 2019-20. NNM targets to reduce stunting, under-nutrition, anemia (among young children, women and adolescent girls) and reduce low birth weight by 2%, 2%, 3% and 2% per annum respectively. Although the target to reduce Stunting is atleast 2% p.a., Mission would strive to achieve reduction in Stunting from 38.4% (NFHS-4) to 25% by 2022 (Mission 25 by 2022).
·               Cabinet approves MoU between India and Italy for cooperation in Agriculture and Phytosanitary issues
The Union Cabinet chaired by  Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Italy for cooperation in Agriculture and Phytosanitary issues. It replaces the earlier MoU signed in January, 2008 which is going to expire in January, 2018.
The MoU provides for cooperation in the fields of Phytosanitary issues, agricultural production and a wide range of other sectors including animal husbandry, agricultural research, food processing and other additional fields as may be mutually decided by both the sides.
The MoU has provision for exchange of information on the situation of agriculture and rural development, strengthening of technical exchange and production cooperation in respect of agricultural mechanization/farm machinery and agro-industrial infrastructures, removal of technical barriers and exchange experiences in animal husbandry sector including modern scientific researches and technologies etc.
The MoU provides for setting up of a Joint Working Group in order to promote bilateral exchanges in the field of agriculture, consider long-term initiatives for agricultural cooperation, and promote cooperation in order to reduce phytosanitary risks in exported goods also through the definition of specific joint procedures.
It will encourage and facilitate contacts between governmental agencies, scientific and academic institutions and business communities of both countries and promote further cooperation between the respective research institutes of the two countries.
·               Cabinet approves investment cooperation and facilitation treaty between India and Brazil
The Union Cabinet chaired by  Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for signing and ratification of the Investment Cooperation and Facilitation Treaty (ICFT) between India and Brazil.
The Treaty will result in increase of investment flows between the two countries. The ICFT between India and Brazil will provide appropriate facilitation to Brazilian investors in India and Indian investors in the Brazil. It is likely to increase the comfort level and boost the confidence of investors by assuring a level playing field and non-discrimination in all investment facilitation matters, thus providing conducive investment climate to investors. It would help project India as a preferred Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) destination to all Brazilian investors.
·              Cabinet  approves transfer of landed assets owned by Hindustan Vegetable Oils Corporation Ltd. to Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs
The Union Cabinet chaired by the  Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi  The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for transfer of all land assets owned by Hindustan Vegetable Oils Corporation Ltd (HVOC) to Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) or its authorized agency for appropriate utilization/ disposal.
In lieu of the transfer of the land assets of HVOC, complete liabilities of HVOC towards loans taken from the Government including interest would be written off. The Government shall also take care of all contingent liabilities of HVOC that may arise in future due to pending cases in various courts/tribunals/authorities.
The land located in seven cities are lying unutilized for many years. The transfer of the properties to MoHUA would enable use of the land for public purpose. This will facilitate early winding up of HVOC, which is a sick PSU under liquidation.

Croatian president laments ex-general’s death

Croatia’s president says the nation has been “deeply struck in the heart” by the death of an ex-Croat general who died shortly after claiming to have drunk poison as the Yugoslav tribunal convicted him of war crimes during Bosnia’s 1992-95 conflict. Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic said in an address on Thursday that Slobodan Praljak “would rather take his own life than live as a convict for the acts he firmly believed he hadn’t committed,” AP reports. Grabar Kitarovic has denounced the court ruling, which linked Croatia’s wartime leadership with a plan to create a Croat mini-state in Bosnia.

Russia warns against severing ties with N. Korea

It would not be constructive to completely sever ties with North Korea, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday. To sever ties with Pyongyang “would be the easiest thing to do,” he said, adding that it would not help to resolve the situation surrounding the country. “We believe that we should pool our efforts to find an answer” to the crisis, TASS quoted the spokesman as saying. Peskov was commenting on a statement by US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, in which she called on all states to sever ties with North Korea and suspend Pyongyang’s voting rights at the UN.

Francis clarion call, action on Rohingya refugee crisis

Pope Francis called Thursday for “decisive” international action on the Rohingya refugee crisis as he began a visit to Bangladesh. More than 620,000 of the Muslim minority have sought sanctuary in Bangladesh after fleeing violence in Myanmar. The pontiff made the comments in a speech shortly after arriving from Myanmar, where he walked a diplomatic tightrope. He stayed away there from mentioning the army’s crackdown on Rohingya Muslims. “None of us can fail to be aware of the gravity of the situation, the immense toll of human suffering involved,” the pope said, as cited by AFP. He praised Bangladesh for taking in the mass exodus across the border into overcrowded makeshift camps.
Pope Francis wrapped up his visit to Myanmar on Thursday with a Mass for young people before heading to neighboring Bangladesh. Francis has so far refrained from speaking out about the Muslim Rohingya refugee crisis out of diplomatic deference to his hosts in Myanmar. The Vatican said the Pope wants to “build bridges” with the predominantly Buddhist nation. However, human-rights groups and Rohingya themselves have expressed disappointment that the pontiff, an advocate for refugees, refrained from condemning what the UN has said is a textbook case of ethnic cleansing, AFP said. Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said Francis took seriously the advice given to him by the local Catholic Church. It urged him to toe a cautious line and not even refer to the “Rohingya” by name during his trip.

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