Pro-Life Citizens’ Initiative Worries E.U. Scientists

first_imgCredit: © Istockphoto.com/virtualphoto BRUSSELS—A group of European pro-life organizations is mobilizing against embryonic stem cell research in a way that the European Commission cannot ignore. One of Us, a so-called European citizens’ initiative, has collected 1.7 million signatures from all 28 E.U. member states for a proposal that would block funding for research in which embryos are destroyed; under E.U. rules, the European Commission must now consider turning the proposal into legislation.Research commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn will meet the organizers of the initiative here today; on Thursday, they will defend their case during a public hearing at the European Parliament. The commission has until 28 May to spell out its response.The proposal is a direct attack on a delicate compromise over the use of embryonic cells in research, a topic on which the union is sharply divided. “Any roll back of this agreement would be a major step backwards for research across regenerative medicine, reproductive health and genetic disease, and delay the development of much needed treatments for a host of untreatable conditions,” said a group of 31 research organizations and universities from across Europe today in a statement. The group, led by the Wellcome Trust, urged the commission and the Parliament to oppose the initiative.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)European citizens’ initiatives, a democratic novelty introduced in 2012, allow citizens to propose E.U. legislation; if a proposal gets at least 1 million verified signatures from seven or more member states, the commission has to consider turning it into law. (One of Us is only the second one to reach that threshold; the first one called on the commission to implement the human right to water and sanitation.)E.U. member states have different regulations in the area of embryonic stem cell research, ranging from very permissive—for example in Belgium, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, where creating embryos for research purposes is allowed—to very restrictive—as in Poland and Lithuania, where research with embryonic stem cells is illegal.As far as E.U. funding is concerned, member states have agreed to disagree. Under the European Union’s 7-year research program Horizon 2020, which started this year, the union does not sponsor research that is illegal in the country where it would take place. In addition, the commission never funds research activities that create human embryos for research purposes. But the proponents of the One of Us initiative say this arrangement is too lax; they argue that no E.U. money at all should go to research activities that destroy human embryos. This would block funding for stem cell research using leftover embryos from in vitro fertilization.“The dogma underlying [the plea] is that as soon as the ovum is [fertilized], there is a person with a soul,” says Charles Susanne, a retired biology and anthropology professor at the Université Libre de Bruxelles who now studies bioethical issues. “Based on this principle, it’s natural to reject abortion or research using embryos of no more than 4 or 8 cells.”In its legislative proposal, One of Us refers to the 2011 ruling of the European Court of Justice in a case known as Brüstle v. Greenpeace, which stated that processes and products involving human embryonic stem cells are not patentable in the European Union. The judgment “indicates that fecundation is the beginning of human life and in the name of human dignity excludes the patenting of any procedure that involves or supposes the destruction of a human embryo,” the organizers write. The European Union should apply that principle across the board, they argue.Julian Hitchcock, a life sciences lawyer at the London-based firm Lawford Davies Denoon, says that argument can’t withstand legal scrutiny. The court’s ruling was limited to biotechnology patents and can’t be read as a general statement about where life and human dignity begin, Hitchcock says.Under the previous E.U. research program, from 2007 to 2013, the European Union spent €156.7 million on 27 collaborative projects in health research involving the use of human embryonic stem cells, a commission spokesman says. “Europe is currently a global leader in these competitive research areas, and clinical trials are already underway resulting from stem cell research,” today’s joint statement from the scientific organizations says. “Any move to restrict research using embryos will threaten this position, and prevent researchers developing vital treatments for patients.”Observers say it is hard to predict if the Eropean Commission will reopen discussions on its hard-won agreement. “A priori I would hope not, since the decision has already been made … to keep the compromise” under Horizon 2020, Susanne says.One of Us, which boasted the support of Pope Benedict XVI, says it has received about €160,000 from three pro-life foundations in Spain and Italy in the past 2 years.last_img read more

Mamata, the street-fighting politician and Left nemesis

first_imgThe stormy petrel of West Bengal politics, Mamata Banerjee has single handedly wrecked the red bastion in West Bengal ending Left Front’s uninterrupted 34-year-old rule after perfecting the art of the impossible.The feisty 56-year-old Banerjee, who is the founder and chairperson of the Trinamool Congress which she set up in 1998 after falling out with the Congress Party in West Bengal, can now have the satisfaction of a victorious General seeing all the war plans fall into place.For years the face of the Opposition in West Bengal, Banerjee, known to her supporters as ‘Didi’ (sister) has been the nemesis of the ruling CPI(M)-led Left Front over the last 23 years and has earned the reputation of being a street-fighting politician.Maverick and emotional, she first hogged the limelight by blocking Jayaprakash Narayan’s convoy by throwing herself on the ground when he came to Kolkata to organise the masses against Indira Gandhi before Emergency.Banerjee, a firebrand orator, coined a catchy slogan “Ma, Mati o Manush” (Mother, Land and People) before last year’s Lok Sabha polls and played on the anti-incumbency factor after more than three decades of Left rule and the creeping disillusionment among several sections, like Muslims, to decimate the Left in partnership with the Congress.A leader with mass appeal known for her humble lifestyle, the seven-time MP successfully sold a vision of development, cashing in on the deep resentment among the middle classes and unemployed youths, promising jobs and development.Her nondescript residence–a tiled single-storey house in a dingy lane close to the Kalighat temple–and equally simple attire comprising cotton saris, jhola bags and cheap hawai chappals, endeared her to the masses.advertisementBanerjee had to shoulder multiple responsibilities– political strategist, union minister, chief poll campaigner and trouble shooter in her focus to dislodge the world’s longest democratically-elected communist government in a state.It has not been an easy journey though for the current Union Railway Minister who turned her call for ‘Parivartan’ (change) into a reality with ally Congress throwing its full weight behind her. But her energy, charisma and political astutenes made Banerjee one of the few mass leaders in the country.As a 29-year-old, Banerjee shot to limelight by pulling off a stunning victory over CPI-M heavyweight and now expelled party leader Somnath Chatterjee in the 1984 Lok Sabha elections in the Jadavpur constituency to become one of the youngest MPs.Born to a lower middle class family and daughter of freedom fighter Promileswar Banerjee, she entered politics by joining the Chhatra Parishad, the student wing of Congress, while studying at the Jogmaya Debi College in Kolkata in the 1970s. .Graduating to party politics, Mamata was general secretary of the West Bengal Mahila Congress in 1979-80 and subsequently held other posts in Congress.Losing her seat in an anti-Congress wave in 1989, she was back in the Lok Sabha in 1991 from Kolkata South and also won the subsequent elections in 1996, 1998,1999, 2004 and 2009 from the same constituency.Banerjee’s first tryst with the corridors of power came in 1991 when she became became Union Minister of state for Human Resources Development, Youth Affairs and Sports and Women and Child Development in the P V Narasimha Rao government.But in 1996, she fell out with the Congress, calling it a ‘stooge of CPIM’. Two years later, she formed the Trinamool Congress and quickly emerged as the dominant opposition party.In 1998 and 1999, Banerjee’s party won eight and seven seats in the Lok Sabha polls respectively and joined hands with the BJP, seen in party circles as a disastrous move in hindsight.During NDA rule under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, Banerjee was Railway Minister in 1999 and for Coal and Mines in 2004. She was also a union minister without portfolio for a brief period in 2003-4.She quit as railway minister and NDA in early 2001 in the wake of the Tehelka expose into defence deals to ally with Congress for the assembly elections in West Bengal, but could make no headway against the Marxists.Banerjee had to eat humble pie and return to the NDA and the Vajpayee cabinet in January 2004 to become Coal and Mines minister till the 2004 election.In 2004, her party MP tally plummeted to one–just herself.Two years later, in the assembly election, Trinamool was routed, ending up with just 30 seats.A relentless fighter against the CPIM, Banerjee never gave up and bided her time. Her opportunity came when Nandigram and Singur exploded on the national scene. Since then it has been a story of her continuous rise.In November, 2006, Banerjee was stopped on her way to Singur in Hooghly district for a rally against the Tata Motors Nano car project, which was a turning point in the long-drawn agitation there with the Trinamool chief demanding that 400 acre of the around 1000 acre acquired be returned to farmers who were unwilling to part with their land.advertisementBanerjee also went on a fast for 25 days on a makeshift dais at busy Esplanade in Kolkata in protest against land acquisition at Singur, but called it off on December 28 following an appeal from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.But this did not resolve the problem at Singur and the agitation there started with renewed vigour under Banerjee.Ultimately, the Tatas drove out of Singur in 2008.When the agitation against land acquisition was on at Singur, the West Bengal police fired on protestors on March 14, 2007 killing 14 people at Nandigram in East Midnapore district where the state government wanted to set up a Petroleum, Chemical and Petrochemical Investment Region (PCPIR) on farmland.Banerjee took full advantage of the acquisition scare among the minorities in rural areas and her declared stand against special economic zones endeared her to a section of traditional Left Front supporters, who did not like hobnobbing with big capital.With her ‘Ma-Mati-Manush’ slogan, she hijacked the issues dear to the Left supporters — pension, the insurance and banking sector, privatisation, land acquisition in Nandigram and Singur, Rizwanur Rahman’s death and the Sachar Commission report.Banerjee played her cards so well that she won over certain sections that were gunning for her till the other day.She was wooed by industrialists and even Left parties.A staunch Left-wing party like SUCI, which has bases in pockets of Bengal, is now an ally of Trinamool Congress.They helped give a direction to Banerjee’s brand of politics, which hitherto had a one-point agenda of blind opposition to the CPIM.When Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacherjee with his ‘Brand Buddha’ image started on the slippery path of industrialisation through the private sector, Banerjee checkmated him on every front.This brought her a series of electoral victories in the panchayat elections, municipal polls, Lok Sabha elections and a string of assembly bypolls after that.But her chances in 2011 was largely due to her continuing to project herself as leader of the poor and the rural have-nots, a friend of the minorities, a champion of inclusive growth and one genuinely interested in delivering the goods.For full coverage, click here.last_img read more

IPL 2016: Can’t bowl yorkers like Jasprit Bumrah, says Umesh Yadav

first_imgKolkata Knight Riders pacer Umesh Yadav has defended himself for not bowling yorkers consistently, saying he is more suited for full length outswing deliveries. (Full IPL Coverage)Yadav, who has picked up 10 wickets in the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League, said he was not too confident of bowling yorkers.”I know a lot of bowlers are judged by their ability to bowl yorkers at the death. I can also bowl yorkers effectively but it is a delivery that can go wrong as it is difficult to bowl consistently,” Yadav told PTI.Big need for speed “There would be days when the length would be wrong. The advantage for Jasprit (Bumrah) is that his action is natural when it comes to bowling yorkers while my action means that my stock ball will be outswinger,” he said.Yadav, over the years, has always said he would not compromise on pace for line and length as speed is one area which is non-negotiable for him.”It has taken years of hard work to work up a fair level of pace at which I bowl my deliveries. It is my endeavour to get it right at this pace and if you ask me, my consistency has at least improved by 20 per cent in past one year. That’s my assessment.”If I become a line and length bowler, then one thing is for sure that I will never ever gain the earlier pace back. You can increase speed but after decreasing speed, you can’t get the original pace back,” said Yadav, who has played 17 Tests and 57 ODIs and a T20 Internationals.advertisement’Confident of bowling inswingers’While his stock ball is outswinger, Umesh said he is now more confident of his ability to bowl the inswingers to right-handed batsmen.”My inswinging deliveries have got better and I am more confident while executing them. But yes, I would not deny that there are times my deliveries drift down to the leg-side in my bid to bowl the incoming deliveries.”An effective inswinger is that which starts from the imaginary fifth off-stump and shapes into the off-middle region. If we start from off-middle region, the delivery invariably swings towards the leg-stump and becomes easy meat for the batsmen.”With demands of three formats, Yadav feels that managing the body becomes very important especially during the IPL, where the schedule is interspersed with travelling on every second day.”During IPL, there are times that the muscle tissues tire due to frequent travelling and playing matches. The recovery for a fast bowler is very important.”Average seasonHe has played nine matches for Kolkata Knight Riders this year, taking 10 wickets but termed his season an “average one” so far.”Actually, I started well in the IPL and felt that it was going well for me till the RCB match in Bengaluru where I went for a lot of runs (56 in four overs). Actually T20 is such a format that it is impossible that you won’t get hit. But hopefully, I would be at my best in the coming games,” concluded the Vidarbha paceman.last_img read more

Ben Stokes devastated on missing Sri Lanka series

first_imgEngland all-rounder Ben Stokes said he is ‘devastated’ to miss out on the rest of the ongoing Test series against Sri Lanka after undergoing a knee operation. (Ten-star James Anderson guides England to innings win vs Sri Lanka)The 24-year-old has been sidelined for six weeks. He injured himself while bowling in the first Test which England won quite convincingly by an innings and 88 runs. (Chris Woakes replaces Ben Stokes)Stokes suffered a cartilage tear that he says has been ‘an ongoing issue for two to three years’ but which he has ‘managed to play through until now’, reported the BBC on Tuesday. (Sri Lanka pacer Dushmantha Chameera ruled out of England tour)I am devastated,?? he said.Bowlers David Willey (small abdominal muscle tear), Mark Wood (left ankle surgery) and Reece Topley (partial stress fracture of the lumbar spine) are also set to miss the tie.Stokes will miss the remaining two Tests, five One-Day Internationals and T20 international against Sri Lanka.last_img read more

BCCI hosts Associate & Affiliate tournament

first_imgBangalore, Sep 18 (PTI) An under-19 cricket tournament for the Associate and Affiliate members of the BCCI is currently underway at Alur here, the Board said. Six teams are taking part in the league-cum-knock-out tournament which is being held from September 15-21, the BCCI said in a release. The six teams are five North Eastern States of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Nagaland and Manipur, along with Bihar. The teams have been divided into two groups and the top two teams will qualify for the semifinals. Junior national selection committee chairman Venkatesh Prasad and Rakesh Parikh are stationed at the stadium witnessing the match in order to select a combined Associate and Affiliate team. This team will further participate in Vinoo Mankad tournament in east zone. Separate tournaments will be conducted to select combined teams for Under-16 and Under-19 to participate in Vijay Merchant Trophy (Under-16 East Zone) and Cooch Behar Trophy (Under-19 Plate Group). All these team will have a coaching camp at National Cricket Academy here prior to their participation in the tournaments. BCCI will appoint support staff for the teams and take care of all the expenses. Commenting on the initiative, BCCI President Anurag Thakur said, “We at the BCCI are committed towards uplifting the Affiliate and Associate States. In a quest to do so, we are constantly working towards providing them with the right platform, facilities, exposure and opportunity, thereby paving a way for the mainstream. “This initiative marks another step in this direction and we hope that this will ensure that the right talent meets opportunity and more number of youngsters get motivated and take up cricket as a sport.” BCCI Secretary Ajay Shirke said, “We have organized this tournament in Bangalore, with intent to provide these budding cricketers with the best of facilities and infrastructure. We hope to host more of such tournaments with intent to inspire youth to play cricket in the affiliate and associate states. We wish all the players luck for this tournament and all their future endeavors.” PTI PDS PDSadvertisementlast_img read more

Baylor Football: 400-Pound TE LaQuan McGowan Threw Out The 1st Pitch At Last Night’s Rangers Game

first_imgA general view as the Baylor Bears take on the West Virginia Mountaineers in the first quarter at McLane Stadium.WACO, TX – OCTOBER 17: A general view as the Baylor Bears take on the West Virginia Mountaineers in the first quarter at McLane Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Waco, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)Baylor’s 400-pound tight end LaQuan McGowan created quite a stir when he caught a touchdown in the team’s bowl game against Michigan State last season. He worked at tight end and H-back this spring, and judging by his first pitch effort at last night’s Texas Rangers’ game, he may want to see if Art Briles will let him throw a pass this fall.Mound presence? Baylor’s 400-pound TE LaQuan McGowan throws out the Rangers first pich Friday (via @nick_pants) https://t.co/GsijMk4ize— Chuck Carlton (@ChuckCarltonDMN) June 13, 2015Not the cleanest mechanics but not a bad toss from the big man. If he ever actually pitched in a game, he could throw inside with impunity, since it’s doubtful anyone would want to charge the mound against him.last_img

Video: Jameis Winston Delivered A Signature Post-Game Speech After Buccaneers Win Over Cowboys

first_imgJameis Winston gives a post game speech after Cowboys game.Twitter/@TBBuccaneersJameis Winston’s arm is the reason he won a national championship and was selected first overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last spring, but while at Florida State, he also became known for his charismatic pre- and post-game speeches.  By the looks of things, that leadership has carried over into the NFL. Winston scored the game-winning touchdown on a bootleg run from one yard out to lift the Buccaneers past the Dallas Cowboys 10-6, and after the game, he gave one of his signature speeches to the team.THAT is a post-win speech! Bring on the #Eagles #LetsGo! pic.twitter.com/po7WdXdsBM— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@TBBuccaneers) November 16, 2015Winston managed to become the leader of Florida State as a redshirt freshman, and he’s done the same as a rookie with the Buccaneers, which is incredibly impressive.last_img

ESPN’s Todd McShay Releases His New Top 10

first_imgQuinnen Williams of the Alabama Crimson TideATLANTA, GA – DECEMBER 01: Quinnen Williams #92 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts after sacking Jake Fromm #11 of the Georgia Bulldogs (not pictured) in the first half during the 2018 SEC Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 1, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)For 30 NFL teams, the main focus of this weekend and every weekend for the next few months will be on the NFL draft. There are still a few weeks before the NFL combine, but ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay has an idea of who the top prospects will be.On Wednesday, McShay released his new Top 10 ranking of the top prospects heading into the 2019 NFL Draft.Rather unsurprisingly, Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa held firm as the No. 1 prospect.After Bosa, the list becomes more contentious compared to most other mock drafts and rankings.Todd McShay has Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams coming in second, followed by LSU linebacker Devin White, Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, and Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen rounding out the top five.Nick Bosa leads a star-studded defensive group in @McShay13’s latest list of top NFL draft prospects: https://t.co/8bEXHPTObP pic.twitter.com/czWWDOlxAt— ESPN (@espn) January 30, 2019Sixth through ninth in order were Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary, Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver, Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilks, and Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell.It is a very defense-heavy list, as the top nine prospects are all defensive players – and all of them play in the front seven.Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins was the lone offensive player on the list, coming in at No. 10.The Arizona Cardinals hold the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.last_img read more

Over 100 killed in blast at election rally in Pakistans Quetta

The blast in the town of Mastung, near the Balochistan provincial capital Quetta, came hours after another bomb killed at least four people at a campaign rally in Bannu in the country’s northwest. The death toll in an Islamic State-claimed suicide blast targeting a political rally in southwest Pakistan Friday jumped to 128, officials told AFP, in the deadliest attack in the country since 2014.Balochistan province’s home minister Agha Umar Bungalzai said the death toll in the town of Mastung “has risen to 128”. A senior provincial government official also confirmed the figure, adding that 150 others were injured in the attack. The ISIS group claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing at the political rally, according to the group’s Amaq propaganda agency. (NDTV)

Average US price of gas down 3 cents per gallon

CAMARILLO, Calif. — The average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline has dropped 3 cents per gallon (3.8 litres) over the past three weeks to $2.63.The price is 20 cents lower than what it was in mid-July.However, industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey says Sunday she expects the trend to reverse after Saturday’s drone attack on Saudi Arabia’s key oil processing facility.There was no immediate impact on global oil prices from the attacks as markets were closed for the weekend, but analysts anticipate a price spike when markets reopen Monday.The highest average price in the nation is $3.62 a gallon in the San Francisco Bay Area.The lowest average is $2.11 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.The average price of diesel is down a penny since August 23, to $2.99 per gallon.The Associated Press

UN envoy for waraffected children calls for urgent action to help Angolans

Just back from Angola, Olara Otunnu, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, hailed the “earthshaking good news” that the conflict was over. “For the first time after years of war, Angolans feel that peace is definitive and whatever problems they might encounter along the way, there is no prospect of returning to war,” he told a press briefing in New York.After 30 years of “very bitter and acrimonious” civil war, national unity was evident, the envoy said. “I was also very struck by the eagerness of the Angolan population to reach out to each other across the previous dividing line and to begin a very genuine and serious process of reconciliation.”Despite the “cruelly devastating” impact of the war on children, young people in the country were demonstrating “remarkable” resilience and hope, he said.At the same time, Mr. Otunnu cited a number of grim statistics. The vast majority of the country’s 4 million internally displaced people were children, and some 100,000 youngsters had been separated from their families. During the war, 5,000 schools had been destroyed, and today, more than 50 per cent of Angola’s children had no access to education. The majority of the country’s hospitals and health facilities had also been levelled during the fighting. “It is no wonder that today so many kids are suffering from malaria, measles, malnutrition and preventable diseases,” he said. The envoy called for immediate action to respond to Angola’s grave humanitarian crisis. “I have issued in Luanda – I repeat here – an appeal to the Government of Angola and the international humanitarian community, in this urgent matter of saving lives, to join hands to mount a major and immediate mobilization of food, medicine, water and shelter for the population emerging from the previously UNITA-controlled areas,” Mr. Otunnu said, referring to parts of the country that had been held by rebels. He also called on the Government and the international community to begin immediately rehabilitating key social services, particularly in the areas of education, health and nutrition. read more

More patients wont have a doctor if province forces fee cuts on

by News Staff Posted Apr 27, 2012 2:12 pm MDT More patients won’t have a doctor if province forces fee cuts on physicians: OMA AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email TORONTO – Ontario’s doctors are warning that patients will have to wait longer for health care if the governing Liberals forge ahead with cuts to fees that doctors are paid — the latest salvo in the contentious talks over a new labour contract.Ontario is short more than 1,000 doctors and 927,000 patients still don’t have a family physician, the Ontario Medical Association said Friday.That list will grow if the government succeeds in forcing doctors to pay for Ontario’s growing health-care needs, which will reduce the province’s ability to recruit and retain doctors, said OMA president Stewart Kennedy.“With the current ministry’s proposal to cut $1 billion from the physician health-care budget, that’s going to have a major impact on further access to services,” he warned.“Waiting lists here in the emergency department, they’re going to be increased. Waiting lists here in the family doctor’s office are going to increase. Waiting lists for specialists are going to increase.”Labour negotiations reached an impasse earlier this week, with the OMA accusing the government of refusing to continue talks with the help of a conciliator.The government wants to freeze wages for the broader public sector to eliminate a $15-billion deficit, but rejected the proposal by doctors to freeze their fees for two years and find an additional $250 million in savings, he said.It’s threatening to unilaterally cut fees and programs if doctors refuse to absorb the costs and plans to table regulatory changes to do so over the next few days, Kennedy said.The OMA has climbed down twice during its talks with the government and now it’s time for the Liberals to do the same, he said.But Health Minister Deb Matthews won’t back down, saying doctors must accept that the government can’t afford any new pay increases.She also rejected Kennedy’s warning that patients would suffer, calling it an “absurd” and “misleading” argument.About 93 per cent of Ontarians have access to a family doctor — 2.1 million more than when the Liberals took office in 2003, Matthews said.“We’ve come a long way, and we are adding 550 more doctors every year,” she said in an interview. “But if we pay doctors more that’s actually going to reduce our ability to pay the new doctors.”The OMA offered to freeze their fees, but wants the government — which already spends $11 billion a year on doctors’ fees — to pay for the rising costs of health care as the population ages, she said.To eliminate the deficit in 2017, the Liberals plan to reduce annual growth in health-care spending to 2.1 per cent a year from the current 6.1 per cent.The government took a much different approach with doctors in these contract talks than it has in the past, because it has to meet its deficit-reduction targets, Matthews said.Doctors must find savings to pay for the increasing use of physicians, so that the government can put any extra money towards home care and community care, she said.And the province shouldn’t have any trouble retaining doctors when they’re already the best paid in Canada, earning on average $358,00 a year, Matthews said.But the OMA disputes that claim, saying Ontario doctors actually rank seventh in the country in terms of their fees, according to the Canadian Institute of Health Information.Much of the money they receive from the province pays for overhead costs, such as staff and rent, said Kennedy, a family doctor based in Thunder Bay, Ont.The Liberals warned last month that they’re prepared to legislate wage freezes for the province’s broader public sector — including teachers, nurses and civil servants — if they can’t do it through collective bargaining.The Progressive Conservatives want the Liberals to take it a step further and introduce legislation to force a pay freeze immediately to reduce the size and cost of government.“That would be the fairest approach and everybody would know where the province stands,” said Tory critic Monte McNaughton.Kennedy said the OMA isn’t currently contemplating any measures that would disrupt health-care services to put pressure the government.“This dispute is with government, not with our patients,” he said. “We will continue to deliver the high-quality service to our patients in Ontario.” read more

UN report calls for synergies between universal 2030 Agenda and goals for

The new report, according to a news release from OHRLLS, highlights how progress towards graduation from the LDC category has accelerated, with 10 LDCs currently in the graduation process. Positive developments are apparent in mobile cellular subscriptions, which have almost doubled and access to clean water which increased from 60 per cent in 2005 to 68 per cent in 2014. LDCs have made substantial progress in child mortality and gender parity in primary education.Despite these, challenges to the sustainable development of LDCs persist, with new and increasing risks and uncertainties threatening development gains, the news release noted, including volatile commodity prices, major natural disasters, climate change impacts and health epidemics with associated ongoing economic consequences. “Business as usual would not help us implement both SDGs and IPoA. We need a paradigm shift in the way we work on development issues,” Mr. Acharya said at the news conference. The High Representative also cited some specific policy recommendations in the report on how to accelerate implementation of the IPoA while building coherence and synergy with Agenda 2030.The policy recommendations include: Development partners need to fulfil at the earliest their commitment to provide the equivalent of 0.15 – 0.2 per cent of their gross national income as official development assistance (ODA) to LDCs and possibly increase ODA.Investment promotion regimes for LDCs should complement their efforts to enhance their business and regulatory environment to attract larger and more diversified FDI flows.The monitoring processes of the IPoA as well as in the 2030 Agenda should be aligned as much as possible, so as to avoid duplication and excessive reporting burden on national systems, he said.More disaggregated data are needed in order to bring about transformative change in all regions and groups within LDCs – especially rural populations, women, youth, children and the disabled – and ensure that no one is left behind, he said.The current list of LDCs includes 48 countries (the newest member being South Sudan), with 34 in Africa, 13 in Asia and the Pacific and one in Latin America. For LDC country profiles, click here. The world’s 48 least developed countries (LDCs) have experienced some positive developments, yet challenges remain with new risks and uncertainties threatening development gains, according to a new United Nations report released today.“This report is important on two counts,” the UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Gyan Chandra Acharya, told a news conference at UN Headquarters in New York, where he launched the report, entitled ‘State of Least Developed Countries 2016.’First, he said, the timing of the report’s launch was important as this year marked the first year of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and also a half-way through the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA), which was adopted in 2011 as the international community’s vision and strategy for the sustainable development of LDCs for the next decade.Second, he said, the report was also important as it discusses the synergies in the implementation of the IPoA and the 2030 Agenda in the coming five years. According to the Office of the High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS), the category of LDCs, which represent the poorest and weakest segment of the international community, was officially established in 1971 by the General Assembly with a view to attracting special international support for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of the UN family. Their low level of socio-economic development is characterized by weak human and institutional capacities, low and unequally distributed income and scarcity of domestic financial resources. They often suffer from governance crisis, political instability and, in some cases, internal and external conflicts. Their largely agrarian economies are affected by a vicious cycle of low productivity and low investment. A health worker measures a baby’s arm during the launch of the joint nutrition response plan in Aweil, Northern Bahr el Ghazal State, South Sudan. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine read more

Tiger Woods Getting Healthy Taking Full Swings

Tiger Woods, out since the spring following back surgery, has progressed enough in his recovery to extend his swing, his agent said Tuesday, creating optimism that he might be able to compete in next month’s British Open.Woods already has missed two majors this year while he recovers from a microdiscectomy on his back on March 31. He last played on March 9 at Doral, when he closed with a 78 despite the pain in his lower back. Woods has said he has no idea when he will be healthy enough to return to competition.A report on Golf Channel’s morning show said he was taking full swings at the Medalist Golf Club in South Florida.”Tiger is progressing like he expected,” Mark Steinberg of Excel Sports Management said in an email. ”Feeling good each day. As each day passes and he feels that way, he lengthens the swing a bit.”Woods is the tournament host next week for the Quicken Loans National at Congressional. It is not expected that he will play. The deadline to enter is Friday. This is the first year of title sponsorship for the Detroit-based company.The next major is the British Open on July 17-20 at Royal Liverpool, where Woods won in 2006.The last time Woods missed two majors in one year because of injuries was in 2011, when he sat out the U.S. Open and British Open to let his leg fully recover. That year, he returned at Bridgestone Invitational in early August, a World Golf Championship that has no cut.In a promotional day for Quicken Loans last month, Woods said he was chipping and putting in a way that did not require rotation in his back. That was four weeks ago.He said he did not know how much time it would take for him to be ready for a tournament once he could take full swings with no pain.”The more time you give me, I think the better I’ll be,” he said. ”The great thing about what I’ve done so far and all my other previous surgeries, is that I worked on my short game. Once I start expanding from there and start competing and playing, if I start spraying it all over the lot and not hitting it that great, at least my short game is solid. That’s one of the positives to it.”Woods has slipped from No. 1 to No. 4 in the world ranking, and he is likely to fall a couple of more spots in coming weeks. He is at No. 207 in the FedEx Cup standings – having finished 72 holes only once this year – and the top 125 get into the playoffs that start Aug. 21.The news comes one day after Martin Kaymer won the U.S. Open with the second-lowest score in history at 271. The overnight rating for NBC Sports was 3.3, down 46 percent from the previous year at Merion. read more

Fire union asks minister to withdraw comments on parttime firemen

first_imgA UNION representing fire and emergency services workers has asked a junior minister to withdraw comments where he said firefighters who work on a part-time ‘retained’ basis were not “official” fire staff.In a debate on fire services in the Seanad this week, junior minister Fergus O’Dowd said some counties operated a policy where some staff were “retained firemen”.“While they wouldn’t be officially firemen, they are available to come out – and are trained to come out – in the event of a serious fire,” O’Dowd said.The Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association this evening criticised the characterisation of part-time firefighters as unofficial firemen.“This comment goes to show the little regard that both Minister O’Dowd and Minister [Phil] Hogan,” who is responsible for local authorities and therefore for fire services, “have for frontline personnel across the country,” said IFESA chairman John Kidd.“Part-time retained professionals are exactly the same as full time professional fire-fighters and make up two-thirds of all fire-fighters in Ireland,” he said.Kidd said that with the exception of major cities and a few large towns, these part-time staff were “the only type of operational fire-fighters available”, adding:Retained fire fighters and their families feel completely undermined and insulted by these comments which show no understanding of the level of sacrifice made by them and their families 24 hours a day to provide a full time service at a part time rate.IFESA has in the past been vocally critical of systems where part-time firefighters in some counties are excluded from applying for social welfare because they are considered unavailable to take up full-time work – by virtue of the hours they must devote to being ready for a fire call.The association has called for the creation of a single national fire service, ending the system where each local authority fire area has its own chief fire officer and a high number of assistant chiefs.Kidd said last week he had been barred from all Dublin Fire Brigade stations over his association’s stance on the current public pay talks.Read: Firefighter union chief says he’s been barred from all Dublin fire stationslast_img read more

Kinect review roundup a rocky but promising start

first_imgThe first round of Microsoft Kinect reviews are in and so far things are looking OK. The consensus seems to be that Kinect for Xb0x 360 has potential but it’s far from fulfilling it at the moment. The launch was weak thanks to some kinks in the firmware and lag, but everyone is confident that things will improve over time. Finally, almost everyone pointed out that you need a lot of room to use this thing, so apartment dwellers beware.Engadget – 6/10“The Kinect as hardware is great, but there’s plenty of room for software engineers and UI designers to improve.”Gizmodo“It’s also hard to justify the $150 price tag right now—especially when you need to purchase a whole raft of new games at $50 a pop just to use the thing.”PC World – 3/5“Intrepid but flawed, Microsoft’s Kinect motion-sensor for Xbox 360 offers true controller-free gaming at a reasonable price, but suffers from serious accuracy and tracking issues.”Shack News“Kinect lands a solid hit with the tech but its real-world practicality remains in question to me… When Kinect becomes the device that lets me sit on the couch and interact with my 360 and some games it will earn a permanent place on my gaming center, until then it’s reserved for group game night.”Galaxy Next Door“No, we can’t scan skateboards into the system or change avatar clothes with friends in Norway, or hell even jack into the Matrix. But what Kinect does do is pull off an amazingly accurate job of capturing the human body… As I said, you’re banking on potential with Kinect, and with Microsoft’s massive support for the wonder sensor – the future of motion gaming on the Xbox 360 is only limited by the power of the game designers behind it.” Tech Radar – 3.5/5“We like Kinect a lot. But it’s not a perfect product by any means, and many hardcore gamers out there are going to be disappointed by it.”Joystiq“If Kinect does work for you, congratulations: you have what amounts — for now — to a novelty peripheral that is in no way geared towards the day-one buyer or “core” gamer.”Kotaku“Kinect doesn’t replace the Wii any more than it does an Xbox controller. It’s not even a sure thing as a games platform, not until it has its first great game. But it doesn’t have to be. If Kinect becomes nothing more than a replacement for the TV remote, it’ll prove to be a winner.” CVG – 8.8“If you’re after motion gaming that can truly rival the joypad… I’d give it time. Those Kinect Hub skeletal scan demos are inarguably very exciting, but, for now, they’re just tantalising tastes of what’s possible. The launch software can’t match up… However, if you’re looking for a gizmo that will… offer mouth-moisturising long-term promise into the bargain, you can’t go far wrong.”If you are limited on time but want to get a full review (or two) under your belt, I’d recommending checking out those at Kotaku and Joystiq. Kotaku’s is insightful and Joystiq’s is one of the more negative ones, but reflects a lot of the hesitation I have with motion control. Their coverage of the Kinect’s single stand-out game, Dance Central, was more positive.AdChoices广告last_img read more

The boycottapple hashtag paints a target in the wrong place

first_imgThere’s something to be said for the informed consumer. Over the last year there has been a truly impressive surge of large groups in action on the Internet. These users have figured out that they can use the web, and the various social networks therein, to affect change in one way or another.I’ve seen it on a small scale, where users request features or removal of features in masse. I’ve seen in it on a massive scale, where it felt like half of the web itself went dark in protest of a political decision or a potentially offensive law about to pass. The mid scales, however, have been a troubling area to watch.These events are usually spawned by the same communal desire to see change as the others, but are propelled by the wrong motives. In some cases, it’s a social networking tactic sponsored by a company, or a call to action sponsored by misinformation or misunderstanding. The most current of these that I have seen over the last week is the Boycott Apple movement.It’s not hard to imagine that there are plenty of people out there right now upset at the recent decision to ban the Samsung Galaxy Nexus in the US. The Nexus is not only a popular phone, but a tactical vehicle with which Google plans to spread the latest version of their operating system. I’ve seen Apple’s decision to sue Samsung for violating this particular patent be called cowardly, shameful, and downright evil.Conversations on this topic between Android users and iOS users, neither of which are typically students of patent law, quickly dive into some of the most hateful, vitriolic commentary I have ever seen in regards to a smartphone. This disproportionate emotion is fueled even further by a lack of commentary from Samsung, Google, or Apple. The few people who have actually read the court briefings seed the information they deem relevant into the world, and what happens next is the most broken game of Telephone I have seen since my time as a pre-school summer camp instructor.The more I read on the subject, the more I find myself returning to the exact same place. The problem here has very little to do with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung, or any other company currently suing another company for patent infringement. Every single time it seems like the problem boils down to the same conclusion: the patent system in the US is horrendously broken.Every tech company, from corporate giants like Apple and Google down to startups that make screen covers for these smartphones, is playing the patent game right now. During CTIA in New Orleans, when I walked the busy halls from booth to booth in search of the next cool little gadget, I heard one statement more than anything: “We have a terrific patent portfolio to back up our work.” Why is that part of your PR pitch, little company? Why did you feel it was necessary to tell me that? The reason was more simple than I had imagined. The guy in the booth three aisles over was showing off a dangerously similar product, and this first company was already suing that company.It’s not just Apple. Google/Motorola is currently suing Microsoft in a case that could result in the ban of the Xbox 360, using the exact same tactic that Apple is currently using against Samsung. It’s everywhere, all around us. Dyson has a commercial on air right now bragging to millions of people that Dyson vacuums are unlike anything else out there because they have hundreds of patents on their design and functionality.The basic concepts of technology, software, and hardware have changed drastically. Unfortunately, the law has not really changed with it. The original purpose of a patent was to protect your invention from being out and out stolen by another company, but at some point these companies figured out that they could use these patents as swords instead of shields, and the US Patent and Trade Office just sat back and watched.Like most things that have to do with technology and the law, I find myself looking to the Electronic Frontier Foundation for a well thought out solution. Not only did they have a solution, but they felt it was necessary to create a website specifically for their stance on the issue. The aptly named Defend Innovation site is a basic layout of seven changes that the EFF feels need to be made to the US patent system in order to right the ship.These concepts include things like how long a software patent should be enforceable, a requirement for an example of running code for the patent to be granted, and damage limitation standards. Reading through the list, there’s nothing that sounds particularly extreme, and all sound like they would be beneficial in every situation. Basically, a plan to return the patent system to a state where companies acquire a patent to protect an invention.Imagine what would happen if the energy that has been put into the angry Boycott Apple protest were to be educated and funneled into protests that involved calling Congress members or even just continuing the social network assault, the difference would be immense. The EFF’s Defend Innovation site has an area where you can join the signature collection they have gathered for Congress. Unfortunately, while the #boycottapple hashtag appears to be travelling at about 45 posts per second, the EFF’s signature collection site has only seen about 500 new signatures in the last three days.I think we need to stop blaming Apple for behaving like a company, and start holding the USPTO responsible for allowing these kinds of patents to get approved in the first place.last_img read more

Mother allegedly gave daughter toxic level of sedative court hears

first_img Tuesday 29 Nov 2016, 2:43 PM http://jrnl.ie/3109386 Short URL Image: William Murphy/CC/Flickr 17,874 Views No Comments Share3 Tweet Email Mother allegedly gave daughter toxic level of sedative, court hears Bernadette Scully is on trial for the manslaughter of her daughter Emily Barut at their home. Image: William Murphy/CC/Flickr Nov 29th 2016, 2:43 PM Updated 6.50pmA MANSLAUGHTER TRIAL has been told that an Offaly GP gave her 11-year-old, disabled daughter a toxic level of a sedative before taking an overdose herself.The Central Criminal Court jury was hearing the opening speech in the trial of 58-year-old Bernadette Scully.Bernadette Scully is charged with unlawfully killing Emily Barut at their home at Emvale, Bachelor’s Walk, Tullamore. It’s alleged that she killed her by an act of gross negligence involving the administration of an excessive quantity of chloral hydrate on  15 September, 2012. She has pleaded not guilty and went on trial this morning.Duty of care Tara Burns SC opened the case for the State, telling the jury that the prosecution had to prove that Scully had a duty of care to the deceased on the basis of being both her mother and GP and that she was in breach of that duty.She said the prosecution’s case was that there was gross negligence. She said that Bernadette Scully would have realised, if she thought about it at all, that there was a risk of harm.She explained that Emily was born with profound physical and learning disabilities, including microcephaly and epilepsy, and that her mother had acted as her GP throughout her life.“Emily was very well cared for at home,” she said.She said that, two weeks before her death, Emily had a surgical procedure to replace a peg in her stomach, through which she was fed and given her medication. She was in a lot of pain and sleeping poorly following this. She said that Scully was in an exhausted state as a result.15 SeptemberShe said that on 15 September, Bernadette Scully sent her partner to the pharmacy for anti-depressants and sedatives. He hadn’t seen Emily before going. When he returned, she sent him out for food. He still hadn’t seen Emily when Scully went to have a sleep that afternoon.He found Bernadette Scully in a deep sleep around 7pm, but didn’t wake her. He checked on Emily two hours later and found her cold. He called an ambulance and both mother and daughter were taken to hospital, where Emily was pronounced dead.“Ms Scully had taken an overdose,” she explained.A post-mortem exam was carried out on Emily and a metabolite of a sedative, chloral hydrate, was found in her blood at a level of 200 micrograms per ml. Burns said that, if given at the correct dose, a level of between 10 and 20 micrograms would be expected.“But 200 was found. You’ll hear that level is beyond the therapeutic level and within the toxic range,” she said.Burns said that Bernadette Scully went to a garda station a few days later and gave an account of what had happened in the early hours of that Saturday. She said that Emily was upset, crying in pain and woke at 2am and 6am. She administered chloral hydrate both times.She said Emily had a significant fit at 11am and that she gave her chloral hydrate again.“She accepted she gave her too much,” said Ms Burns.State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy testified that she carried out the post-mortem exam. She knew that Emily was severely disabled from birth, that she was cared for at home by her mother and attended a special needs school daily.She had been told that she was on a number of medications and that chloral hydrate was one of the medicines found at the scene.She examined the child’s body and found that her brain showed maldevelopment. She also found that her lungs were water-logged.Another expert examined her brain and found damage resulting from multiple seizures, along with evidence of a hypoxic episode in the six to eight hours before her death.Toxicology tests showed that she had 220 micrograms of trichloroethanol in her blood. She said that deaths had occurred with levels of 20 to 240 micrograms.She said there was no evidence of pressure sores or contractions of the limbs, which could occur when a patient had limited movement.“She appears to have been very well cared for and was developing normally despite her disabilities,” she said.She said that death was due to chloral hydrate intoxication. She explained that this was a sedative used for the treatment of epilepsy. She said that children may be given a maximum single dose and that the half life in children was 10 hours.She said that Emily was at risk of a potentially fatal seizure at any time and that epilepsy was not excluded as a possible cause of death. However, the level of chloral hydrate in her blood was such that she gave the cause of death as chloral hydrate intoxication. Contributory factors were microcephaly, abnormality of her brain, epilepsy and acute inflammation of the lungs.Cross-examinationUnder cross examination by Kenneth Fogarty SC, defending, she agreed that her expert colleague had found evidence of a hypoxic episode at least six hours before her death. He noted that his client had told gardaí that her daughter had three seizures, at 2am, 6am and 11am“Any one of those seizures could have resulted in the damage to the brain,” said the professor. “The seizure didn’t cause her death, but was a very significant seizure that caused this hypoxic change… That would be a major seizure.”He asked if she could have passed away from the seizure, notwithstanding the chloral hydrate levels.“Yes, she could have had a terminal seizure,” she replied.She said that a seizure could cause death at the time or some time later.She said that the waterlogging in her lungs could be due to heart failure, which could be due to the chloral hydrate but could also be due to hypoxic changes in the brain.She was asked if chloral hydrate was taken out of the equation, was there ‘still sufficient there to cause her death’.“Yes,” she replied.The trial continues before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and a jury of seven women and five menComments are closed as this case is before the courts.Read: Denis O’Brien alleges that TDs prejudiced his case against RTÉ with Dáil speeches> By Natasha Reid Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this articlelast_img read more

Darkness Into Light allows us to talk about the wound left by

first_img Apr 30th 2017, 8:05 AM Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this article By Órla Ryan 6 Comments Share Tweet Email1 10,796 Views ‘Darkness Into Light allows us to talk about the wound left by suicide’ Senator Joan Freeman talks to us about mental health services and being ‘a pain in the government’s neck’. Short URL Joan Freeman Source: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ieTHERE’S SOMETHING VERY powerful about a large group of people coming together to walk out of the darkness and into the light.Evocative images of Darkness Into Light (DIL) from Ireland and beyond are now synonymous with suicide prevention and awareness.Ahead of Pieta House’s annual flagship event, which is happening next Saturday, Pieta founder and former CEO Joan Freeman spoke to TheJournal.ie about why DIL has caught the public’s imagination, and the state of mental health services in Ireland.Freeman, a Senator since last year, tells us she first came up with the idea for DIL about nine years ago, after she took part in the Dublin marathon“I’ll swifty add, it was walking,” she laughs.Shortly after the race she was on a plane from Dublin to Kerry and struck up a conversation with a woman who told her she had ran 12 marathons, with one of her favourites being a night run in Boston.Freeman liked the idea of organising a nighttime or early morning event and mentioned it to her colleagues at Pieta.“I thought, ‘Why don’t we do something not at nighttime but in the morning, something shorter, a 5k or whatever’. A committee was formed and the first ever DIL was held in 2009.“It was 400 people in the Phoenix Park the first year, we didn’t even have t-shirts,” Joan recalls.Some 120,000 people took part in the event last year in over 150 venues on four continents. A similar number of people are expected to take part next weekend. Freeman acknowledges it’s been a “phenomenal success”.“The fact that it was taking place at night highlighted the issue of suicide,” she says. Source: Electric Ireland/YouTubeFreeman believes the event caught people’s imaginations as it “gave people permission to talk about [suicide]“.“Every single person who takes part in it, particularly the people who took part in the early years, have all lost someone to suicide and are doing this walk in memory of the person they lost.It’s a soothing ointment for that terrible wound. People are also selflessly doing it to stop it happening to other families, that’s the extraordinary generosity of the Irish.“For one day of the year, the whole country comes together at 4.15 in the morning, in every single county, towns and villages across Ireland, and in other countries too, as a united force – that’s an extraordinary thing.“Pieta is a success because of the public, Pieta belongs to the country,” Freeman tells us.Console scandal The Irish charity sector has been rocked by a number of controversies in recent years, and notably the Console scandal last year.The suicide prevention charity was wound down in 2016 after it emerged through an RTÉ investigation that its founders spent donated money on personal expenses.An audit found that half a million euro was spent on foreign trips, designer clothes, eating out and other expenses between 2012 and 2014 – while another half a million was spent on salaries and cars for CEO Paul Kelly and his wife Patricia.Earlier this month it emerged that 58 employees who worked for Console have not been paid and are unlikely to be in the future.Pieta House took on Console’s services and some of its employees after the scandal emerged, something Freeman says was the “best solution” to a difficult situation.“Pieta took over clients so there was no loss of support … We took over the staff too, so they weren’t just thrown aside. They’re innocent in all of this, that’s important to remember.“All those people who had fundraised, their money was not lost in vain. Pieta took up the mantel and took up the baton.Don’t lose your trust in charities, our country would be lost without charities. There are so many that are there – such as the Society of St Vincent de Paul and Barnardos – that if we didn’t have them, where would the country be without them?“The government can’t provide all of the services they do.“There’s corruption at every level of society, charities aren’t immune to this,” Freeman says, adding that she hopes the Charities Regulator will ensure what transpired at Console will “never happen again”.‘A pain in the government’s neck’Freeman was named as one of the Taoiseach’s nominees to the Seanad last May, after being chosen by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.Soon afterwards, she announced she would be donating her €65,000 salary to Pieta.How could I in fairness ask people to get up at 4.15 in the morning … and receive two salaries? I couldn’t, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. The most sensible option was to give it to Pieta. I wanted to show people I’m as committed to Pieta as they are.Pieta House has helped more than 25,000 people since 2006, and is extending its services in the US, something Freeman says many Irish people living there have supported. People taking part in last year’s DIL event at the Phoenix Park, Dublin Source: Sasko Lasarov/RollingNews.ieFreeman has enjoyed her first year in the Seanad.“I love it. There are so many mixed emotions, I’m so proud that I’m working for my country. It would never dawn on me to do anything like this. What it has given me first of all is an insight, it has also put me nearer to the government.I’m there pecking away, being a pain in the neck. I’m working so hard on mental health issues, which are treated like Cinderella by the government. Any budget for mental health, lumps of it are taken away to fill gaps in other areas, without even batting an eyelid.Freeman says mental health issues are often “shrugged off”, despite almost half of people in Ireland using mental health services for themselves or a member of their family at some point.“They’re the most neglected services you can imagine, in particular child mental health services.”‘Child psychiatry is dying’ Freeman singles out child psychiatry in particular here, saying it’s “dying” as there simply aren’t enough people working in the area.The issue of children being admitted to adult mental health units has been raised repeatedly, with the Mental Health Commission criticising it again in recent weeks.This issue was raised at the Irish Medical Organisation’s AGM recently, where doctors said there needs to be greater clarity over the definition of a ‘child’ when it comes to mental health services.Dr Matthew Sadlier, a consultant psychiatrist, questioned if it was appropriate for a 17-year-old to receive treatment in the same mental health service setting as a 30-year-old or, indeed, a 12-year-old.Freeman thinks the practice of admitting under 18s to adult wards needs to cease.Over the next few months, I’ll bring forward legislation to make it illegal for children to be placed in adult psychiatry wards. Children aged 16-18 should have to consent to the treatment they receive, at the moment they don’t, but they do with physical health.Ongoing rows over water charges and the national maternity hospital, to name but two, have made the government look somewhat unstable in recent times, as has Enda Kenny’s upcoming exit as Taoiseach.Freeman is aware the government may fall “by the end of the year”, giving her an added push to try to get the legislation through as soon as possible.Young people’s experiences Freeman is also in the process of compiling a report on young people’s experiences of mental health services.“I’m asking the public to tell me their stories. What has it been like for them using the mental health services, in particular for children?,” she explains.The Seanad Public Consultation Committee is inviting written submissions from interested groups or individuals.The committee will consider the submissions and may invite some contributors to public hearings, which will take place in the Seanad chamber. When this public process is complete, the committee will publish a report which will be presented to the Oireachtas.“They won’t be able to ignore that,” Freeman says.If you wish to tell your story, email joan.freeman@oireachtas.ie. The closing date for receipt of submissions has been extended to 4pm on Friday, 12 May. More information can be read here.Darkness Into Light is taking place on Saturday, 6 May and is supported by Electric Ireland. For more information, visit Pieta House’s website. If you need to talk, contact:Pieta House 1800 247 247 or email mary@pieta.ie (suicide, self-harm)Samaritans 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.orgAware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)Read: Pieta House founder will donate €65k senator salary to the charityRead: Pieta House calls for ban on children being admitted to adult-only psychiatric unitsRead: FactCheck: Has the government actually cut the mental health budget by €20 million? Sunday 30 Apr 2017, 8:05 AM http://jrnl.ie/3357544 last_img read more