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Posts Tagged ‘breakthrough’

Breakthrough ‘near’ at UN biodiversity talks

In Uncategorized on October 29, 2010 at 9:40 am

NAGOYA, Japan (AFP) – A UN biodiversity meeting is close to adopting what would be a historic deal governing the use of genetic treasures such as those found in the Amazon, host Japan said on Friday.

“A draft decision has been agreed upon by representatives of regional groups. I would like to consider the adoption of this draft agreement later,” Japanese Environment Minister Ryu Matsumoto told delegates.

An area of Sumatran forest cleared by a logging company, seen in August 2010. AFP

Negotiators involved in the talks have said that, if the deal is struck, it would likely pave the way for agreement on a 20-point plan aimed at protecting ecosystems and curbing the rapid extinction of animal and plant species.

However, delegates cautioned that each individual country still needed to approve the proposed “Access and Benefits Sharing Protocol”.

“On the edge of our seats in Nagoya. Do we have a deal on ABS?” European environment commissioner Janez Potocnik said in a message posted on microblogging website Twitter.

Brazil and other developing countries argue rich nations and companies should not be allowed to freely take genetic resources such as wild plants to make medicines, cosmetics and other products for huge profits.

The 12-day summit is due to end on Friday night.

Source: SGGP

Hopes grow for breakthrough in Thai political crisis

In Uncategorized on May 4, 2010 at 4:27 pm

BANGKOK, May 4, 2010 (AFP) – Thailand’s fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra called for reconciliation Tuesday as his supporters considered an offer by the premier to hold November elections to end a political crisis.

Leaders of the anti-government “Red Shirt” protest movement said Tuesday they were seriously considering Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s proposal, raising hopes of an end to the crippling standoff.

Hinting at a possible breakthrough in the long-running impasse between the government and his supporters, Thaksin said he hoped that “good things” would happen on Coronation Day on Wednesday, calling it an auspicious date.

“Reconciliation is good for everybody,” he said in a phone-in to a meeting of the opposition Puea Thai Party. “Today, don’t think about the past but look to the future. That is how national reconciliation will happen.”

Many of the “Red Shirt” anti-government protesters who have been staging rallies in Bangkok since mid-March are seeking the return of the telecoms tycoon-turned-politician, hailing his policies for the masses.

Leaders of the mostly poor or working-class Reds, whose rallies in Bangkok are in their eighth week, earlier gave a cautious welcome to Abhisit’s proposal but said they needed more time to discuss it.

“For the sake of the struggle for democracy, we will discuss and listen to our people who are on the frontline,” Jaran Ditha-apichai, a senior Red Shirt, said from a rally stage in the city’s commercial heart.

The movement said that it wanted to be sure the proposed roadmap had the full backing of ruling party lawmakers and their coalition partners in the government before deciding whether or not to accept it.

“We will discuss among more than 20 leaders whether or not to accept it, but initially I agree with one of the proposals — to end the deadlock in a non-violent way,” said another Red Shirt leader, Nattawut Saikuar.

A series of bloody clashes between the demonstrators and security forces in Bangkok have left 27 people dead and nearly 1,000 people injured in the country’s worst civil unrest in almost two decades.

The authorities are ready to discuss an amnesty for protest leaders, who have been defying a ban on rallies under a state of emergency in the city, according to a government source.

“The government wants to create a good climate and end the protests. Details will be discussed later. However, one of the topics that will discussed is related to an amnesty,” the source told AFP, asking not to be named.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva answers questions from the press after the weekly cabinet meeting at a military base in Bangkok on May 4, 2010. AFP photo

Abhisit said Monday his proposal to hold elections on November 14 was subject to all parties agreeing to his reconciliation roadmap.

The British-born, Oxford-educated head of the establishment Democrat Party does not have to go to the polls until the end of next year.

Some observers say that when he does face the people, his failure to connect with the rural masses means he faces a tough battle against the pro-Thaksin forces that have won every election for a decade.

Abhisit’s party came to power via a parliamentary vote in 2008 and for Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a Thailand expert at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, it will be “very difficult” for him to win an election.

“Because he represents the Bangkok elite, it’s hard to win the hearts and minds of the people in the north and northeast,” the analyst said. “Meanwhile Thaksin remains hugely popular in those regions.”

Abhisit last month rejected a compromise offer by the Reds to disperse if elections were held within three months. In March he had offered to hold elections by the end of the year but protest leaders rejected that proposal.

The Red Shirts have fortified their sprawling protest site in the city’s main shopping district with barricades made from piled-up truck tyres, razor wire and bamboo stakes.

In recent days, however, a weary air has descended on the rally area, which is strewn with garbage.

Many of the protesters have been sleeping on the streets for weeks with little or no shelter and fatigue appears to be setting in, along with the start of the rainy season, which brought heavy downpours to the capital Tuesday.

Source: SGGP

Local doctor makes breakthrough in rare mushroom cultivation

In Uncategorized on April 1, 2010 at 9:09 am

Dr. Ngo Anh from the Hue University March 31 announced he had successfully grown a rare and valuable type of mushroom in a lab using tissue growth technology.

Dr. Ngo Anh, the first to cultivate black reishi mushrooms in a lab setting, stands next to his prized fungi (Photo: SGGP)

Black reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma Subresinosum), highly valued for their medicinal properties, have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years.

The fungi are used to make remedies to treat a host of diseases including urinary disorders and liver and cardiovascular diseases.

They are also said to be useful in treating fatigue, diabetes, insomnia, stomach ulcers, and for pain relief and detoxification.

Dr. Anh said it takes from four to six months to grow and harvest the black reishi mushrooms. Using 1 kilogram of dry sawdust to grow the fungi, an average output of 50 grams of the mushrooms can be expected, he said.

Source: SGGP

Australian scientists in TB drug breakthrough

In Uncategorized on March 24, 2010 at 3:45 pm

A Tuberculosis patient Sushma Bhat is pictured at a hospital in Ahmedabad. AFP file

SYDNEY (AFP) – Australian scientists said Wednesday they had discovered a drug which could cure tuberculosis at its non-infectious stage and could be the first major breakthrough on the disease in 50 years.

Bacteriologist Nick West said researchers at Sydney’s Centenary Institute had developed a drug which could essentially combat the disease before it takes hold, potentially saving millions of lives around the world.

“We have investigated a protein that is essential for TB to survive and we have had some success in developing a drug that will inhibit this protein,” said West.

“Our goal over the coming months is to find out the full extent of this drug’s potential.”

West said it would be the first time in history that dormant or asymptomatic, non-infectious TB would be able to be treated, potentially stemming a deadly tide of infection which claimed two million lives every year.

“Unfortunately, the antibiotics we use to fight TB aren’t effective against latent TB and can only be used when the disease becomes active,” he explained.

“This is a major problem as one out of 10 people who have latent TB will develop the active disease, becoming sick and contagious.”

“If we can figure out a way to treat TB when it’s in a latent stage, then we could save millions of lives throughout the world,” West added.

If successful the drug would be the the first new treatment for TB since 1962, according to the institute which is affiliated with the University of Sydney.

One third of the world’s population, or two billion people, are estimated to be infected with TB, with the disease growing fastest in South East Asia.

Lethal multidrug-resistant strains of the disease were becoming a serious threat to global health, infecting almost half a million people in 2008, of whom one-third died, the World Health Organisation warned last week.

Almost half the drug resistant cases were estimated to have occurred in India and China, the WHO said, with an extensively drug-resistant form, found in 58 countries, “virtually untreatable”.

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