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Friday, March 15, 2013

UK and France Fail to Overturn Syria Arms Embargo

British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President François Hollande have failed to convince EU leaders that the bloc should overturn a ban sending weapons to Syria. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said taking such a measure would only risk “further fuelling the conflict” in the country. Cameron said that when the arms embargo came up for renewal in May the UK might not, as a sovereign country, feel that it should continue to abide by it. While maintaining that he did not want to arm rebels immediately, saying that he wants to “work with them and make sure they are doing the right thing”, he added that he was glad the UK and France shared a “common analysis of what is wrong in Syria”. He also stated that the embargo erroneously treated the Syrian government and the rebels in the same way. “Shouldn’t we be sending a pretty clear signal, just as we’ve sent a signal that we recognise the opposition, shouldn’t we be sending a more clear signal that there is a fundamental difference when it comes to the regime and the opposition?”, asked the prime minister.

US Drone Strikes Violate Pakistani Sovereignty

The UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights, Ben Emmerson, has said that US drone attacks carried out in Pakistani tribal districts are done without the consent of the government in Islamabad and are a violation of its sovereignty. This is in direct contradiction to suspicions that members of the Pakistani military and intelligence communities had been clandestinely authorising drone attacks against targets in the tribal areas. “A thorough search of Pakistani government records has revealed no indication of such consent having been given”, said Emmerson, adding that Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry had since mid-2010 “regularly sent ‘notes verbales’ to the US embassy in Islamabad protesting the use of drones on the territory of Pakistan” and “requiring the US to cease these strikes immediately”. Despite US officials defending the use of drone strikes as a necessary part of the “war on terrorism”, Emmerson added that the campaign “involves the use of force on the territory of another state without its consent and is therefore a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty”.

Vatican Denies Pontiff’s Complicity with Argentine Dictatorship

The Vatican has strongly denied accusations that Pope Francis stayed silent during human rights abuses by Argentina’s former dictatorship, which ruled the country from 1976 to 1983. “This must be clearly and firmly denied, the accusations reveal anti-clerical left-wing elements that are used to attack the Church”, said Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi. Critics of Francis say he failed to protect priests who fought against military rule, particularly regarding allegations that he failed to protect two priests who were kidnapped by the military government while he was the leader of the country’s Jesuits. “There has never been a concrete or credible accusation in his regard. Argentinian justice interrogated him once, but he was never charged with anything”, added Father Lombardi. “This is a disaster, this is total impunity“, said Estela de la Cuadra, whose daughter was taken away soon after birth by the dictatorship and given to a foster family. “But we have to keep fighting. Bergoglio has many explanations to make”, concluded de la Cuadra.

Early Treatment Can ‘Functionally Cure One in 10′

Weeks after the revelation that a baby in Mississippi had been cured of HIV after receiving early treatment, a new report from Paris suggests that a similar course of action can cure some adults as well. Asier Sáez-Cirión of the Pasteur Institute analysed 70 people who had been treated with anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) between 35 days and 10 weeks after infection was first detected, much sooner than what would be standard protocol. Most of them relapsed after the treatment with ARVs was interrupted, with the virus returning to pre-treatment levels. But 14 of them were able to stop taking ARVs and suffered no relapse, having taken the drugs for an average of three years. While they still have traces of HIV in their blood, their body is able to keep the virus naturally in check. “It’s not eradication, but they can clearly live without pills for a very long period of time,” said Sáez-Cirión.

Weekend Read: A Fork of One’s Own

Flatware began as fashion, in the sixteen-hundreds, after centuries in which you came to your host’s table with your own knife hanging from your belt. In The New Yorker.

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