Conflict prevention paper to stress Commission’s role

first_imgFrance and Germany are insisting the EU executive should not be given the right to determine whether a group of member states can press ahead with ‘enhanced cooperation’ in the foreign policy arena, although it will be able to do so in other areas of policy-making in its role as guardian of the Union treaty.French diplomats have suggested that enhanced cooperation could be used, for example, to allow some states to form a special high-level task force to deal with the conflict in the Great Lakes region in Africa even if others did not wish to take part. But Paris argues that the Commission should not be given in a say in whether this happens.France has traditionally been the strongest advocate of giving the EU a more united position on external relations issues, but through greater coordination of individual member states’ stances rather than by boosting the Commission’s role.However, Patten argues that trying to improve the effectiveness of the Union’s foreign policy while marginalising the Commission is self-defeating because the executive can provide considerable aid and controls essential policy tools for dealing with crisis situations.He emphasised the importance of his institution’s role in a speech in June, saying: “While the Commission has nothing to say – nor do we seek a role – in defence, it is impossible to separate purely military matters from related issues in which we are competent, and have a real contribution to make. Military and the non-military actions cannot be placed neatly into separate boxes. Nor should they be, because they need to be closely coordinated in the service of a single strategy.”The debate comes as EU leaders prepare to boost Solana’s role by giving him control of the Union’s new permanent political and security committee (PSC), which will run crisis management operations from next year. The paper on ‘effective conflict prevention’ will emphasise the executive’s importance in dealing with humanita-rian emergencies such as the situations in Bosnia and Kosovo, although it will not be involved in the military side of crisis management operations.It will also argue against any attempt to marginalise the Commission, while acknowledging that the Union’s usual decision-making procedures will have to be telescoped if it is to take rapid action to deal with crisis situations.The move comes as most EU governments are fighting French-led attempts to limit the Commission’s role in deciding whether some Union countries can go ahead with new foreign policy initiatives without all 15 member states being involved.last_img read more

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Oakley becomes UCI Mountain Bike Official Partner

first_imgThe Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and Oakley have announced a two-year partnership starting in 2019. Under the deal, Oakley will support the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships presented by Mercedes-Benz and the Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup as an Official Partner.According to UCI, the arrival of the celebrated US eyewear brand, which is owned by the Italian group Luxottica and has been a player in the cycling industry for several decades now, is ‘yet another sign of the faith that leading brands and media partners have in mountain bike.’The 2018 Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup attracted record audiences on Red Bull TV, while there was a significant increase in the cumulative audience for the 2018 UCI World Championships in Lenzerheide (SUI), with 46 million viewers tuning in.Oakley has been part of the sport of cycling for more than three decades. In the 1980s, the brand made a name for itself within the road cycling peloton with its glasses, helmets and its line of clothing. Today it supplies several UCI WorldTeams and top teams in the UCI Women’s WorldTour.At the end of the 1990s, Oakley extended its activities to include mountain bike, and has been chosen by MTB legends such as Julien Absalon and Nino Schurter (cross-country Olympic) and Greg Minnaar and Rachel Atherton (downhill).“The arrival of an international brand such as Oakley is excellent news for mountain bike,” said UCI President David Lappartient. “At a time when our competitions are enjoying increasing popularity, it gives me great pleasure to see an established player in the cycling industry demonstrate their faith in our discipline. Our partnership will combine the global and high-profile exposure of UCI events with the expertise of Oakley products.”Ben Goss, Oakley Global Brand Director added, “At Oakley we look for partnerships that share our passion for technological innovation, that allow us to stay ahead of the game and set the standard in sports performance. We can’t wait to work with the UCI over the next two years and beyond in creating the ultimate experience for athletes and spectators.”Founded in 1900, in Paris (France), the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) is the worldwide governing body for cycling. It develops and oversees cycling in all its forms, for all people as a competitive sport, as a healthy recreational activity, as a means of transport, and also just for fun.UCI manages and promotes the nine cycling disciplines: road, track, mountain bike, BMX – racing and freestyle – paracycling, cyclo-cross, trials and indoor cycling. The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup was founded in 1991. Olympic cross-country and downhill competitions have since been held on several continents and across different age groups.www.uci.orgwww.oakley.com Relatedlast_img read more

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Gophers fall to Purdue at home

first_img“It’s always a battle to come up here in the Barn. … I thought our first half obviously was a battle back and forth, but I thought the second half we played really solid,” said Purdue head coach Sharon Versyp after the game.After the half, Purdue took back command of the game and soon was ahead with a score of 41-34. The Gophers, sparked by Bell, momentarily found new life and cut the lead to as low as three points with under two minutes left in the quarter.Unfortunately for head coach Lindsay Whalen, Minnesota struggled to get closer than that, and were outplayed in the last 10 minutes of action. By the end of the game Purdue had made 46 percent of their field goal attempts compared to Minnesota’s 31 percent. “There was a couple of points in the fourth [quarter] where it was a four-point game, so we’re in the game,” Whalen said. “Like I told the team, we’ve got to keep working. They’re in there every day shooting before and after practice, so it’s not for lack of effort, and we know that eventually the shots are going to fall.”Unlike most teams, Purdue was able to keep up with Minnesota’s rebounding. Coming into the game Minnesota had a +8.8 average rebounding margin on the season, but in Thursday’s matchup the teams were even with 39 rebounds apiece.Next, the Gophers will wait four days before playing Ohio State at home on Monday. Gophers fall to Purdue at homeDefense was the difference that pushed Purdue to a win in a low-scoring game at Williams Arena.Tony SaundersSophomore Destiny Pitts runs through defenders toward the hoop during the game against Purdue on Thursday, Jan. 24. Babatunde JinaduJanuary 25, 2019Jump to CommentsShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare via EmailPrintThe Purdue Boilermakers came to Williams Arena on Thursday night to take on the Minnesota women’s basketball team, bringing with them a 5-2 Big Ten record.Although two players put up double-digit scoring totals, Minnesota didn’t take advantage of home court as the game resulted in a 64-53 loss. Sophomore Destiny Pitts finished with 19 points, senior Kenisha Bell added another 17 points and Taiye Bello came down with 18 rebounds. However, the three standout performances were not enough to earn the Gophers a victory.Despite losing five of their last six games, the Gophers did not seem fazed as they jumped out to a 12-4 lead seven minutes into the contest. “I was sticking with my shot and being really confident. Coach [Lindsay] Whalen just told me to keep shooting it throughout all the games, so I think I went into this game feeling really confident,” Pitts said.Although Purdue fought back with an 8-3 run over the next three minutes, Minnesota would hold a 15-12 lead after the first quarter. In the second quarter, the Boilermakers continued their momentum and eventually took a 26-19 lead with just under five minutes remaining in the second quarter. Still, Minnesota didn’t give up and made an 8-0 run in five minutes to regain a one-point lead going into halftime.last_img read more

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Expert says US should agree to destroy smallpox virus stocks

first_img Tucker writes that US preparedness for a deliberate release of smallpox virus is far better now than when the research program began in 1999, reducing the need for continued countermeasure research. The nation has enough doses of smallpox vaccine to protect the whole population and a supply of a third-generation vaccine that’s considered safer than earlier versions, he notes. Also, two promising antiviral drugs, ST-246 and CMX001, “are in advanced development and could be given under an Emergency Use Authorization.” The WHA, the annual gathering of World Health Organization (WHO) member states, agreed in the 1990s and again in 2002 to permit retention of virus stocks for continued research, notes Jonathan Tucker, PhD, in a lengthy article in Biosecurity and Bioterrorism. The WHA is scheduled to address the issue at its May meeting, and pressure to destroy the supply is building, Tucker writes. This could lead to “a diplomatic train wreck,” he adds. “In order to avoid an international confrontation at the 2011 World Health Assembly that would be harmful to all concerned, the US should accept a firm deadline (eg, by the end of 2012) for ending the smallpox research program and destroying the WHO-authorized stocks of variola virus,” states Tucker, who is Georg Zundel Professor of Science and Technology for Peace and Security at Darmstadt University of Technology in Germany and author of Scourge: The Once and Future Threat of Smallpox. Third, the United States and Russia would take steps to share the benefits of smallpox research among WHO member countries. That would mean providing royalty-free licenses to any countries that want to produce drugs or vaccines developed under the program, setting up a WHO-controlled stockpile of antiviral drugs for victims of a smallpox attack anywhere in the world, and increasing the two countries’ contributions to the WHO’s global smallpox vaccine reserve. First, the United States and Russia would agree to reduce the WHO-authorized stocks in their possession to fewer than 10 representative strains in each country. Though this step would leave many unsatisfied, it would be “a major step toward reconciliation,” he argues. Tucker proposes three elements for a compromise on the fate of the variola stocks, if complete destruction is not an option. Jan 11, 2011 (CIDRAP News) – Given the potential for a bitter diplomatic battle at the World Health Assembly (WHA) in May, an expert on smallpox-related policy is recommending that the United States agree to the destruction of the remaining stocks of smallpox virus—or at least be prepared to destroy all but a remnant of them.center_img If this option won’t work because of opposition from Russia or other WHO members, the United States should stand ready to negotiate a compromise calling for destruction of most of the remaining stockpile while taking steps to share the results of smallpox research among WHO members, Tucker recommends. In his view, Russia clearly opposes destroying its variola virus stocks, but if the United States dropped its opposition to destruction, Russia would probably not stand alone against a united WHA. Many developing countries in Africa and Asia want the virus caches destroyed, he says. Second, the WHA would take steps to prevent the synthesis of variola virus from scratch. This would involve reaffirming the WHO’s 2008 guidelines on the handling of variola virus DNA and incorporating them into national laws and regulations. Tucker JB. Breaking the deadlock over the destruction of the smallpox virus stocks. (Commentary) Biosecur Bioterror 2011 (published online Jan 10) [First page] Smallpox was eradicated in the late 1970s, but the United States and Russia, citing concern that some countries may have kept hidden caches of the virus for biological warfare purposes, have maintained stocks of the virus for research on medical countermeasures.last_img read more

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Study describes Zika birth defects as case appears in Texas

first_imgA new study describing 87 cases of congenital Zika syndrome (CZS) from Brazil’s epicenter found a high rate of microcephaly, while McAllen, Texas, announced a new case of locally acquired Zika, the first case in that state since December.Microcephaly, calcification, ocular problemsRecife, Brazil, has been the epicenter of the current Zika outbreak and the site of the most cases of Zika’s most devastating outcome: microcephaly, a smaller-than-normal brain and head that can occur when a developing fetus is exposed to Zika virus. On Feb 24, a group of Brazilian researchers presented their findings of CZS and microcephaly in a prospective observational study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.The researchers examined 176 infants whose head circumferences were less than 32 centimeters at birth, 87 of whom were confirmed to have lab-confirmed CZS. They were born from October 2015 to March 2016 at the Professor Fernando Figueira Integral Medicine Institute (IMIP), a reference maternity hospital in Recife. CZS cases were confirmed via neuroimaging and cerebrospinal fluid testing. Eighty-one of the infants had CT scans (the others had cranial ultrasounds), and all were tested for possible co-infections with other flaviviruses, including dengue.Of the babies born with CZS, 71 (82%) had severe microcephaly. More than three quarters of mothers (66) reported Zika symptoms in pregnancy, including fever and rash. All 87 infants had brain calcification seen on CT or ultrasound (99%), and 44% had findings of ventriculomegaly, a condition in which cerebrospinal fluid structures in the brain are larger than normal. These are the highest numbers reported so far for brain calcifications and ventriculomegaly.Most of the infants were born to term, with a mean delivery age of 38.5 weeks, and only 25 (29%) were considered small for gestational age. Interestingly, the authors found that the babies born at full term and at normal gestational size had more severe microcephaly than their smaller peers.A total of 40.3% of the infants had vision problems, and the authors said the babies whose mothers reported infection in the first trimester were more likely to suffer ocular disorders.Case in Hidalgo County, TexasOn Feb 24, Hidalgo County, Texas, announced a new case of Zika likely transmitted locally in McAllen.  On Feb 22, the patient’s case was confirmed by the Hidalgo County Health Department, and by Feb 24 it was established the patient had no travel history outside of the county.According to a press release from the city, “Various locations throughout McAllen have been equipped with mosquito traps, and the city’s normal mosquito spraying routine has been increased.”Texas reported its first cases of locally transmitted Zika in November in the Rio Grande Valley, and the new case is the seventh local infection confirmed in the state. Texas and Florida are the only US states to have non-travel–related cases.D.C. lab diluted Zika testsFinally today, The Washington Post published an in-depth story explaining how a simple mistake led to hundreds of samples from pregnant women at a D.C. public health lab to be labeled as negative for Zika virus.The 300 samples were treated with the wrong solution, marked “D” for diluted, effectively watering them down and making even a positive test appear negative. At least nine false-negatives have been identified during the retesting processThe Post reports the wrong solution was used for at least 6 months, adding that an inexperienced staff and lack of leadership led to the public health “debacle.”See also:Feb 24 Clin Inf Dis studyFeb 24 City of McAllen press releaseFeb 27 Washington Post storylast_img read more

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