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Monday, March 4, 2013

N.Ireland Police Intercepts Mortars Minutes Before Launch

Four mortar bombs were discovered by police in Northern Ireland minutes before being launched against a Londonderry police station, according to police sources. Three men were arrested in connection with the attempted bombing and were identified as dissident republicans. One was driving a van that had its roof cut to allow mortars to be fired, while another followed closely in a motorcycle. The third suspect was arrested after a house was searched. “These were people who were mindless, totally reckless, willing to drive four live mortar bombs through a built-up area with no regard to the people, the residents and the families living in the area”, said Chief Superintendent Stephen Cargin. About 100 families had to leave their homes in the area during the police action. A local politician speculated that the van might have come from Ireland, as the city is on the main cross-border route. Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said the attempted attack was “grim reminder of how severe the terrorist threat continues to be in Northern Ireland”.

HIV-Positive Baby ‘Funcionally Cured’

Doctors announced on Sunday night that a baby girl born HIV-positive had been “funcionally cured” after 18 months of treatment. Her mother arrived at a Mississippi hospital in labour and unaware of being infected. The baby girl was born prematurely and her doctors decided to begin aggressive antiretroviral treatment before tests had even determined if she was indeed HIV-positive. Her HIV levels dropped to nearly undetectable levels after a month. After 18 months of treatment her mother stopped attending hospital sessions, effectively ending the girls treatment. Dr. Hannah B. Gay, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, the baby’s pediatrician at the time of birth, expected high viral loads once the mother decided to resume treatment five months later, but repeated blood tests yielded negative results. “To my greater surprise, all of these came back negative”, said Dr. Gay to the New York Times. The treatment could lead to a new protocol for the test and treatment of HIV-positive infants. The latest statistics divulged by the United Nations showed that 330,000 babies were infected with HIV in 2011.

At Least 15 Killed by Machete-Wielding Gangs in Kenya Election

Machete-wielding gangs killed at least 15 people on Monday during Kenya’s first presidential elections since 2007. Officials fear the attacks could spark renewed tribal conflicts, first seen after the results of the 2007 polls were contested by rival candidates. More than 1,200 people were killed at the time. Nine security officers were hacked to death in the coastal town of Kilifi, to the north of the capital Mombasa. A piece of paper found at the scene read “MRC. Coast is not Kenya. We don’t want elections. We want our own country”. The words would point to the Mombasa Republican Council, a separatist movement that wanted a referendum on secession instead of presidential elections. An MRC spokesman denied the group’s responsibility for the incident and said it sought secession by peaceful means. The top two candidates condemned the attacks. Prime Minister Raila Odinga said it was “a heinous act of aggression” while his rival Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta said that he hoped the security situation would be brought under control.

Swiss Vote to Curb Executive Pay and Bonuses

Swiss voters have approved measures designed to curb executives’ pay at listed companies. The so-called “rip-off initiative” was approved by 68 percent of those taking part in the referendum and will give shareholders a veto over the salaries of managers and board members. Other measures will ban golden handshakes for personnel arriving or leaving companies, as well as outlawing bonus payments for executives involved in mergers and acquisitions. Boards of directors that fail to comply with the new regulations could face jail terms. Swiss Senator Thomas Minder, a businessman who drafted the measure, said that the vote sent “a strong signal to boards, the federal council [Swiss government] and the parliament”. The Swiss federal government and the upper house of parliament had been opposed to the initiative, fearing that its passage could make companies leave Switzerland. Minder disagreed, saying that the initiative would be “a great advantage for investors” and adding that many would be attracted to Switzerland because of it.

Police Federation of England and Wales Fails to Approve ‘Right to Strike’ Motion

The Police Federation of England and Wales has failed to approve a motion that would entitle the organisation to ask the government for the right to strike. An online ballot carried out by the federation actually achieved a majority of 81 percent for the ‘yes’ vote, but less than half of the body’s 130,000 members voted. That meant the motion was not passed. “It would not be appropriate to undertake a course of action that could potentially change the employment status of more than 133,000 police officers if fewer than half of those officers have voted for us to do so”, said chairman Steve Williams. He added that the overwhelming majority indicated by the ‘yes’ vote sends a warning to the government that cuts to pensions, pay and conditions had brought about “unprecedented discontent and low morale” to police forces. Police Minister Damian Green said he was “pleased” the majority of officers had not voted to pursue the right to strike.

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