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Vatican official explores Catholic higher education

first_imgAs part of the 11th year of the Keeley Vatican Lecture series hosted by the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, Fr. Friedrich Bechina spoke Wednesday night about the role of Catholicism in higher education.University President Fr. John Jenkins introduced Bechina, who was named the undersecretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education in 2013 by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and has represented the Holy See internationally in areas of higher education.Bechina began his lecture by saying that problems and academic credits should not be the sole focus of an academic institution.“One of the most significant changes in higher education today is a shift towards what we call student-centered learning,” Bechina said. “We should not emphasize too much on higher education on the input … but that we should more look on the processes of learning.”Bechina spoke about his 15 years of service to the Holy See, which he described as a sovereign entity and a subject of international law that can maintain diplomatic relations. He said it was important to recognize the Holy See as an international entity.“The Church is both universal and local at the same time,” Bechina said. “We represent 1,500 Catholic universities worldwide with, roughly speaking, 6 million students. This is kind of an educational empire that we have. We should be proud of what’s going on.”Bechina said the type of education the students were receiving was what mattered, not just numbers.“I think the important thing is that these 6 million students are educated differently,” Bechina said. “We believe that because of our Catholic identity we have more to offer.”Bechina said the Church and the university are similar because of how they each retain their identity with the “pulse of time.”“People say the two oldest institutions in the world are the Church and the university,” Bechina said. “Why have they been able to survive for thousands of years? Because they were able to change when it was time to change, without losing their identity.“We are not bound to political programs … and the university has its own rules and is bound to truth and not to the opinion of the day.”He said globalization was yet another factor that united the Church with higher education.“The Church is the same one, universal Church in different languages and different cultures,” Bechina said. “And there is the same with higher education. Higher education is becoming more and more globalized.”He talked about current academic issues such as the “brain drain,” which he described as the occurrence of talented individuals leaving a country to study and work abroad because of limited resources in their home country. Bechina went on to say the Holy See’s role is to navigate these issues and make sure the Church remains involved.“The idea up to the year of 2000 was we have to defend our Catholic identity. That came with an image of a big wall around us that protects us from all negative influence outside of us,” Bechina said. “We are discovering that we are defending something that we lose. That the identity is vanishing within the strong walls built around it.“We will not survive if we just defend our faith, but the faith will survive if we are missionaries and convince people who are able to take out the faith and engage in dialogue.”He spoke about how the Church once viewed academic freedom as a threat to its institution, but says times have changed.“Universities and Catholic higher education are protected on academic freedom and good argumentation,” Bechina said. “We have to understand what academic freedom is. Nobody can be obliged to believe something. Faith is an act for the free person. And so is the same for truth.”Bechina said it was impossible to fully possess the truth, but countered that by saying that this impossibility does not mean society as a whole should give up on seeking it. He said humility as a virtue is indispensable, because pride can obstruct one’s vision of the truth.“In truth a university has always been … called to be a house where one seeks the truth,” he said.He used Pope Francis as an example of a world learner by talking about how Francis’ degree was in chemistry, which meant he had hands-on experience learning about “earthly reality.” He said Francis is an example of someone who used education to move forward.“We should always have the courage in our universities to go forward anchored in our values, but at the same time always moving forward,” Bechina said. “Engage, mingle, be missionaries again.”He said one of the biggest problems of today is a lack of hope and said Catholic universities should always make sure they are institutions that foster hope in their students.“Catholic universities are the places that should provide more. It is the place where we open beyond these earthly realities,” Bechina said. “No one would do research without the hope to find something. So these attitudes are in a certain sense a preparation of hope. But it’s not enough.“We should teach subjects that [go] beyond a good career, but prepare people to be people who make good decisions, who will be able to change the world for the better because they have encountered hope.”Tags: Catholicism, higher education, Keeley Vatican lecturelast_img read more

Odds & Ends: Oprah to Star in George C. Wolfe Film & More

first_imgGeorge C. Wolfe(Photo: Caitlin McNaney) Here’s a quick roundup of stories you may have missed today and over the weekend. Oprah Winfrey to Star in George C. Wolfe FilmTony winner George C. Wolfe, currently represented on Broadway by Shuffle Along, will direct Oprah Winfrey from his own adaptation of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. The HBO film, based on Rebecca Skloot’s bestselling nonfiction book of the same name, follows the true story of Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman whose cells were used to create the first immortal human cell line. Filming will begin this summer.Drama Desk Awards to Add Book CategoryIt would seem there has been a bit of a kerfuffle after the Drama Desk nominations were announced on April 28. Broadway.com has received the following statement: “We have heard the concerns of the theater community about this year’s omission of the Outstanding Book of a Musical category, and take them seriously. The Nominating Committee will reconvene to address the matter next week.” We will keep you posted!Lesli Margherita’s Karaoke SuccessThanks to the efforts of Olivier winner Lesli Margherita, Tony winners Lena Hall and Betty Buckley, along with Tony nominee Orfeh, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Tituss Burgess and more, the Broadway Acts for Women karaoke event on May 1 at 54 Below, raised more than $50,000. The money will be distributed by Reproductive rights advocacy organization A is For among Jane’s Due Process, Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund and Physicians for Reproductive Health.Michael Riedel Picks Up $10,000 Marfield PrizeMichael Riedel’s Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway has been awarded by the Arts Club of Washington with the prestigious Marfield Prize. The $10,000 honor recognizes the author of an outstanding nonfiction book about the arts published in the previous calendar year. Check out Broadway.com’s walking tour of the Great White Way with Riedel below. View Commentslast_img read more

Flea Fights

first_imgWith the first few weeks of hot weather under Georgia’s belt for summer 2018, dog owners across the state may notice their canine companions starting to scratch a little more often. While fleas are active year-round in Georgia, summer means it’s time to get serious about flea control for pets and for homes. The key to avoiding having to fight fleas all summer is to tackle the problem as soon as you notice it, or even better to proactively prevent them, said Nancy Hinkle, professor of entomology at the University of Georgia. Because of the flea’s life cycle, and the fact that they’re fairly invulnerable during the pupal stage, it is particularly important to get control of flea problems early. “By late June and in July, the flea numbers are usually over the top,” said HInkle, a researcher in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “Once the flea population has gotten established there is nothing that you can do immediately to end the infestation. (It’s going to take some time.)”Meet your fleasThere are more than 2,000 flea species on Earth but the most problematic species in the United State is the cat flea. Despite its name, the cat flea is the most common flea on dogs and on cats across the country. The cat flea will bite humans if there are no other hosts around, but it really has evolved to live on furrier mammals, like dogs and cats. It’s covered with spines so that it can hang on to its host, and once it finds a host it’s probably going to die there unless it’s mechanically removed.If there are no dogs or cats — or wild animals — in a house, the flea population will not be able to survive by biting humans. They will eventually die out. Biology of the Flea Like butterflies, fleas have a four-stage life cycle. Adult fleas lay eggs, which hatch in about two to four days. Their larvae hatch and survive by eating the detritus left by their parents. In about two to four weeks, the larvae form silk cocoons as they enter the pupal stage and prepare for their metamorphosis into adult fleas.The fleas can survive inside their cocoons for months before emerging as adult fleas. Adult fleas live only  for about two to four weeks after they emerge but that’s long enough to find a blood meal, mate and lay eggs. It’s important to understand the way a flea lives because it turns out it’s almost impossible to kill while it’s in that pupal stage. Each cocoon is like each flea’s personal doomsday bunker.“You simply cannot spray enough insecticide to kill those flea pupae down in the carpet,” Hinkle said. The flea has everything it needs to survive inside its cocoon for weeks or even months. The flea simply waits for a sign that a potential meal is in the area before it emerges, Hinkle said. They can sense changes in movement and carbon dioxide levels that usually indicate a host is near. “They just sit there until there’s a chance at a blood meal, and that poses a real problem for pest control companies,” Hinkle said. That’s because it may seem like the pest control program has worked until the next cohort of adult fleas emerge. That’s why repeated treatment is often needed to rid a home of fleas. It’s easier to simply prevent infestations whenever possible, Hinkle said. Preventing Fleas There are lots of folk remedies out there for preventing and treating fleas but none of them have shown to work. Orange oil, brewers yeast and garlic will not repel or treat fleas on pets, and they could be harmful, Hinkle said. It’s best to work within the scientific canon of chemicals that have been scientifically proven to work and find the right one for each situation. UGA Cooperative Extension county offices and local veterinarians may have recommendations for what works best in different parts of the state. Topical liquids that are applied to the skin, like Frontline, are popular and effective preventatives for dogs and cats but can be less effective for dogs that are bathed often. Oral preventatives — like Capstar and Trifexis — are also good options. Flea collars that contain imidacloprid and flumethrin are also very effective but not all the flea collars contain these ingredients and not all are created equally, Hinkle cautioned. The most important guideline for any product is to read every label and follow the instructions, Hinkle said. Species and size specifications should be followed at all times. Even the most commonplace chemicals can be deadly to pets if used the wrong way.  Getting rid of fleasIn addition to pesticides, frequent vacuuming of the areas where pets hang out is a crucial tactic in battling fleas. Whether it’s a pet bed, a couch or just a favorite corner in the living room or perch on a bookshelf, pet owners need to repeatedly vacuum the areas where the pets hang out. Vacuuming often can remove the flea eggs and pupae from the home before they emerge as adult fleas. “The most diligent housekeepers may be able to vacuum often enough to remove the flea eggs and pupae from their homes before adult fleas emerge, but many of us aren’t that diligent,” she added.  So, vacuuming is an important tactic but pet owners shouldn’t feel bad if it’s not enough. In the yard, keeping brush cut back and keeping wildlife out of the yard will help keep flea populations in check. “Look for places that are shaded, where the air is still, and there is relatively high humidity,” Hinkle said. “If your dog likes to nap under the porch during the summer, that’s where fleas are going to be. Don’t waste your money spraying the whole yard. Fleas can’t live in the grass.”No matter where you’re seeing fleas, the key to keeping fleas in check is to start early before populations get out of hand. UGA Extension has the information pet owners need to act early at extension.uga.edu or by calling 1-800-Ask-UGA1.last_img read more

El Salvador Dismantles Organized Crime Structure

first_imgBy Lorena Baires/Diálogo March 23, 2017 “Along the Salvadoran coast, a group of artisan fishermen would abandon their nets at night to support a drug-trafficking structure that supplied the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel so they could move cocaine from Ecuador to Guatemala,” the Salvadoran Attorney General’s Office and the National Civil Police (PNC, per its Spanish acronym) announced. The group was dismantled the morning of February 6th during an operation in the departments of La Libertad, Sonsonate, and San Salvador. “The shipments came from Ecuador and arrived in the Salvadoran Pacific, where artisan boatmen took care of supplying the fuel to the go-fast boats, as well as the transfer of cargo to Iztapa, Guatemala,” Howard Cotto, general director of PNC, told Diálogo. Twenty-eight fishermen were arrested during the operation; six fugitives remain. In addition, a fleet of 14 boats, 10 outboard motors, GPS systems, electronic tablets, cell phones, four vehicles, cash, and several weapons were seized. The clue linking the structure to the Sinaloa Cartel came in December 2015, when Task Force Tridente of the Salvadoran Navy (FNES, per its Spanish acronym), seized a total of 400 kilos of cocaine in the department of La Libertad. The market value was $10 million. The tridents are part of an elite group working to dismantle drug-trafficking structures that attempt to smuggle drugs into North America. The information they gathered pointed investigators to this area. “Drug-trafficking structures now move in small boats, which they use to distribute the drugs. Our high concentration and training allow us to pursue them all at the same time, using more resources in a more efficient manner,” said Captain René Merino, FNES chief of General Staff. FNES engages in constant information exchange with international narcotics agencies, alerting them to routes taken by suspicious vessels. That was how they discovered that drug traffickers had handoff points at the border between Guatemala and Mexico, as well as between El Salvador and Guatemala. “These local structures provided support to move the illicit substances that were headed north, especially to the department of San Marcos, Guatemala. There are several places where drugs would be received in order to be transferred [by] land,” Salvadoran Minister of Justice and Public Security Mauricio Ramírez, explained to Diálogo. Beach houses, supply points One of these places was San Diego Beach in the department of La Libertad. During the 70s and 80s, many huge beach houses were built in the area. Now, neighbors say that many of them have been abandoned because the owners have moved out. But the ones by the beachfront open their doors to the hundreds of tourists looking for some fun on the weekends. At night, some of these residences become supply points for structures linked to organized crime. Manuel Pérez, a 45-year-old fisherman originally from San Diego Beach, was offered the opportunity to take part in a “business” a few months ago but rejected the offer. “A neighbor came to tell me they were paying for people to fill up cans of gasoline and also supply a few motorboats. When I asked them who they were and what they were doing, he told me they were moving drugs,” he told Diálogo. Everaldo Linares, another area fisherman, confirmed that he saw motorboats docking at those houses at night. Although he never saw them move any items or packages, he did witness the refueling of gas. “It was strange to see motorboats coming several nights per week only to fill their tanks with gas. If they were fishermen, they would have returned in the morning with fish. But no, you would only see them at night,” he said while repairing his fishing net. The network’s bosses The Attorney General’s Office confirmed that the head of this structure in El Salvador, José Leónidas Gómez Cuéllar, also known as “Pepe,” would purchase vehicles and motorboats in the name of third parties. He also managed country houses where they unloaded drugs and met to plan their routes. Planning was coordinated by Marlon Monroy, also known as “El Fantasma,” [“the Ghost”], who was arrested on April 30, 2016, and extradited to the United States in November. He was accused of “collecting” the drugs and receiving illicit goods along various routes, or “lines.” “They managed this while associated to the Sinaloa Cartel, mainly ‘The Ghost,’ who was extradited to the United States,” Salvadoran Attorney General Douglas Meléndez said. The international criminal group was discovered in December 2015, when Guatemalan authorities arrested Ana Lucrecia Muñoz, who was transporting $1 million hidden in several secret compartments in her vehicle. On February 8th, she was sentenced to 14 years in prison and given a $997,020 fine. On February 11th, the justice of the peace in Puerto de La Libertad sent all the arrested fishermen to prison because he deemed there to be sufficient evidence of their participation in this structure. The Attorney General’s Office now has six months to gather more evidence. Thanks to their alert, the dismantling of the structure will be added to the list of the tridents’ successful outcomes. Thanks to this elite group, 7,465 kilos of cocaine were confiscated last year, an outstanding number for an elite unit successfully dealing with the challenges of confronting drug traffickers and the sea with limited resources.last_img read more

PEC deals with referral fees from financial advisors

first_img PEC deals with referral fees from financial advisors PEC deals with referral fees from financial advisors August 1, 2003 Regular Newscenter_img A proposed ethics opinion on what a law firm and a former firm member can tell clients about each other has been tabled, but another opinion saying a lawyer cannot take a referral fee from a financial advisor has been approved and published for Bar member comment.The Professional Ethics Committee also grappled with the question of what to do with property or money held for a client when a third party may have an interest in it, approved an advisory opinion that an attorney may include in client contracts a provision requiring arbitration of any disputes, and gave final approval to an advisory opinion on giving second opinions.The PEC met June 27 during the Bar’s Annual Meeting. Departing LawyersOn the departing lawyer issue, the committee considered a draft from a subcommittee about what an associate can communicate to law firm clients after the associate has left the firm. They also heard a report that the Bar Board of Governors has asked the Disciplinary Procedure Committee to draft a rule on that issue. That proposed regulation will be presented soon to the DPC.Committee member David Deehl moved to adopt an earlier staff opinion, which said the lawyer could only provide a notice that he or she has left the firm. He said there is a need to give Bar members guidance, even if the board is moving toward a new rule.But incoming PEC Chair Gary Lesser said the committee would be wasting its time by interpreting a rule that is likely to be changed soon.Board of Governors member Jesse Diner, liaison to the PEC, said the board extensively debated the issue in May, when it came up during an executive session on a grievance matter.“There was a very clear feeling we need to develop a bright line and we need to give more guidance than an ethics opinion so people know what they can and can’t do,” he said.PEC members voted to table the issue, pending board action. Financial AdvisorsThe committee did give final approval to PAO 02-9, after accepting a revised draft from the Ancillary Business Special Committee. The matter involved an attorney who sought to become licensed as a financial advisor and then receive a referral fee from a registered broker with whom the attorney is registered.The opinion, published in the July 15 News, holds that this is not like an ancillary business and amounts to sharing a fee with a nonlawyer, which is prohibited by Bar rules.The committee, though, continued to wrestle with trust funds or property in which a third party might have a claim. Much of the discussion focused on a lawyer’s duty when receiving judgment or settlement for a client. Issues included the lawyer’s duty to find out any assignments or letters of protections issued by a predecessor attorney in the case, whether the attorney should made a reasonable inquiry to see if the client executed any assignments or letters of protections, and what rights, if any, any other client creditors might have.Demonstrating the difficulties, the PEC had appointed a subcommittee which prepared a draft PAO, but one subcommittee member, D. Culver Smith, was unhappy with that and prepared his own version.Smith said it was not up to the attorney to settle disputes, but the attorney must disburse undisputed funds to the appropriate parties. If the parties are unable to resolve disagreements within a reasonable time, then the funds should be deposited in a court registry and a judge asked to resolve the matter.The subcommittee said the lawyer must honor any agreements signed by the lawyer and the client, any judgments, and valid liens. Whether agreements signed only by the client or by a predecessor attorney and the client are valid is a legal question, it said, and beyond the scope of an ethics opinion. It also said that a creditor’s mere expectation to be paid from funds held by an attorney is not sufficient to create a valid interest.Lesser said he liked Smith’s version and it was necessary because of the number of ethics hotline inquiries on the issue received by the Bar. Deehl agreed an opinion was needed, but added he thinks the attorney has a duty to make a reasonable inquiry on assignment of interests.Committee member Andrew Berman criticized both opinions, and said the final draft should simply say if there was a legal obligation, then the attorney has an ethical obligation to honor it.After an extensive discussion, the PEC voted to send the matter back to a new subcommittee, to be chaired by new PEC member and former Board of Governors member Buck Vocelle. ArbitrationOn a proposed ethics opinion regarding the propriety of a lawyer including in client contracts a clause requiring arbitration of any disputes, board members approved PAO 02-09.Vocelle said he was concerned that lawyers would use language from the opinion verbatim in their contracts. He said the PEC should direct staff to write a letter to the lawyer saying it was permissible, but not issue an opinion.But committee members Jason Korn and Roshani Gunewardene said arbitration is a simpler process for clients than litigation. Korn noted that arbitration could not be used if a dispute arose over whether to settle a case or the client sought to dismiss the attorney, as those are absolute rights of the client. Second OpinionsAs for clients seeking a second opinion, the PEC affirmed PAO 02-5, which was published in the April 1 Bar News. The opinion says attorneys may consult with clients who already have an attorney but are seeking a second opinion. But it noted it could not say when such activity might constitute tortious interference because that is a legal question.On an informational matter, the PEC was told that the Board of Governors will be taking up an earlier inquiry the committee made over jurisdiction on an ethics inquiry. That involved the sale of a deceased attorney’s practice for $300,000 to another law firm, with five annual payments of $60,000. However, the contract called for the payments to be reduced in any year where receipts attributable to that practice failed to reach $300,000. That could implicate the comment to Rule 4-1.17 which says anything that could be construed as fee sharing with a nonlawyer as part of the sale of a law firm is prohibited.A subcommittee said since the matter involved past conduct the committee had no jurisdiction, but the inquiring lawyer replied that the contract provided that it could be modified if it were found to violate Bar rules.The board is scheduled to take that matter up at its August 22 meeting.last_img read more

Merrick Teen Helps Sick Mom ‘Brave The Storm’ Through Song

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A Merrick teenager who uses music to lift the spirits of her ailing mother is sharing her story in the hopes that it will inspire others to overcome challenges in their lives.Samantha Horowitz, a 13-year-old Merrick Avenue Middle School student, co-wrote “Brave The Storm” with her mother, Tara Notrica, and American Idol finalist Robbie Rosen. The inspiration for the song came from Notrica’s battle with a rare hematological/immunological disorder called mast cell disease.“It was so bad at times that I was close to death at one point and both of my kids had to go through this for most of their lives,” said Notrica, 53. “I want this song to inspire others of not losing hope and to keep moving forward.”Notrica, who is currently going through chemotherapy and is waiting on a bone marrow transplant, said her music therapist would show up and give her the determination to continuing fighting through song. Her daughter, who was only a year and a half when her mother was diagnosed, also sang to Notrica.She and Samantha, who posts YouTube videos of her songs under the name Sammi Singz, got into contact with fellow Merrick resident Rosen. All three of them then came up with the song, which is now available on iTunes and Apple Music.Samantha is now a finalist in the 2017-2018 Metropolitan Youth Orchestra Concerto and Vocal competition. She will be performing the “Brave The Storm” at the Congregational Church of Huntington in Centerport at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 7.last_img read more

Malaysia expands China traveler ban as coronavirus spreads

first_img China’s Hubei province, where Wuhan is the capital, has been on lockdown since Jan. 23.”Travel restrictions will be enforced in accordance with the lock-down region imposed by the Chinese Government,” Wan Azizah said in a statement on Sunday.The restriction will be imposed on all tourists regardless of nationality who have visited Hubei, Zhejiang and Jiangsu, she added.Malaysia has reported 16 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Saturday, two of which had been discharged after making a recovery.The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in mainland China has reached 811 as of Saturday, according to China’s National Health Commission.Topics : Malaysia has expanded a ban on visitors from China to include Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces, after China’s decision to lock down cities in the provinces to curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak that has claimed over 800 lives.The Southeast Asian nation on Jan. 27 imposed a temporary ban on travelers arriving from the city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, and the surrounding province of Hubei.Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the decision follows China’s move to extend its lockdown to five cities in Zhejiang and two in Jiangsu.last_img read more

Indonesia supports Olympics postponement, vows to focus on athletes’ training

first_imgTopics : A group of Indonesian athletes had made the cut for the Tokyo Olympics in February, just as COVID-19 was spreading across the world. They were track and field prodigy Lalu Muhammad Zohri, weightlifters Eko Yuli Irawan and Windy Cantika Aisah, archers Riau Ega Agatha and Diananda Choirunissa and shooter Vidya Rafika Rahmatan Thoyyiba.In badminton, these shuttlers have passed Olympic qualifications based on their world ranking: All England mixed doubles winners Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktavianti, world number one men’s doubles pair Kevin Sanjaya Sukomujo and Marcus Fernaldi Gideon, men’s doubles pair Mohamad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan, women’s doubles pair Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu, as well as singles players Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, Jonatan Christie and Gregoria Mariska Tunjung.As for the Indonesian athletes who are still hoping to secure a spot in the world’s biggest sporting event, Zainudin went on, the government had decided to continue their training.“Only this time, training will focus on maintaining their health and fitness. This will look different from the kind of training they used to have in order to compete,” he added. Regarding the effect of the postponement, Zainudin assured that the athletes would understand the situation and continue their training.“This was a force majeure situation; it’s beyond our control.”The government earlier stated that it would follow whatever recommendation was made by relevant authorities regarding the Olympics. Only Canada and Australia officially announced they would not be sending their athletes to the Summer Games due to the global pandemic just a few days before the official IOC decision.Earlier in the year, the Philippines decided to postpone the ASEAN Para Games indefinitely because of the coronavirus outbreak.center_img Youth and Sports Minister Zainudin Amali said Indonesia has pledged to fully support the latest decision jointly made by Japan’s Premier Shinzo Abe and the International Olympics Committee (IOC) chief Thomas Bach to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympics until next year.“It was a wise and timely decision, given the current health crisis that would not allow us to move on with the sporting agenda. Everyone’s health should remain our top priority,” he told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.According to the statement, the Olympics will be held simultaneously with the Paralympics.last_img read more

Macau bans Tiananmen exhibition for first time in 30 years: Activists

first_img“The [Bureau’s] prohibition is obviously based on political reasons,” the New Macau Association, a pro-democracy group, wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.”It is using administrative means to suppress freedom of expression and to minimize the space for the civil society.”Local media said the head of the Municipal Affairs Bureau had denied the decision was political.Both Macau and neighboring Hong Kong are former colonies that were granted certain freedoms and autonomy when they returned to communist China’s rule.They are run by local governments staffed with pro-Beijing appointees but remain the only places in China where the Tiananmen crackdown can be safely marked or discussed.Hundreds — possibly thousands — died when Chinese leaders sent tanks and soldiers into the square to quell student-led protests.On the mainland, any references to the crackdown are purged.Hong Kong’s Tiananmen vigils have attracted hundreds of thousands of people, especially in more recent years as large chunks of the city chafe under Beijing’s rule.It is not clear whether next month’s vigil will get permission given emergency anti-coronavirus restrictions currently limiting public gatherings. Macau’s annual vigils are far smaller.There are only a handful of democracy activists in the gambling hub where there is a less ingrained culture of protest and dissent. The Democratic Development Union described the decision as a “sudden U-turn” with authorities citing new administrative rules governing how public spaces can be used.”For 30 years, we’ve been the organizer of the exhibition and we have always been happy to cooperate with the bureau and follow instructions,” the union wrote in an objection letter posted on Facebook.”Nothing unpleasant has happened before and we have not brought any annoyance to the government or residents.”Opposition groups accused authorities of stamping down on political discussion. Topics :center_img Macau has refused permission for an annual photo exhibition of the Tiananmen crackdown for the first time in three decades, activists said Tuesday, accusing the government of stifling free speech.The semi-autonomous city’s dwindling community of democracy supporters have marked the June 4 anniversary of Beijing’s bloody crackdown against protesting students since 1989 with a small vigil and an outdoor photo exhibition.Organizers said permission was initially granted for the exhibition this year by the city’s Municipal Affairs Bureau but was later rescinded.last_img read more

Scientists extend volunteer registration for COVID-19 vaccine trial

first_imgThe team of scientists conducting phase III clinical trials for a COVID-19 candidate vaccine developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech has announced that it will extend volunteer registration for the vaccine trials.Team spokesperson Rodman Tarigan said 2,300 people had volunteered for the trial, exceeding the 1,620 initially targeted. “We decided to extend the registration because we’re worried some volunteers will not show up. It’s also to anticipate volunteers who don’t meet our criteria,” Rodman told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday. He said registration would remain open until 1,620 subjects had been injected with the candidate vaccine.The clinical trials are conducted in six different locations in the West Java provincial capital of Bandung, including four community health centers (Puskesmas) that are respectively located in Sukapakir, Garuda, Ciumbuleuit and Dago and in Padjajaran University’s (Unpad) hospital and health center.Rodman explained there were three stages of the trials. The first stage is called V0, where volunteers would be tested for COVID-19 using a polymerase chain reaction test and receive a clear explanation about the process from doctors. They would then sign an agreement to state their ability to be test subjects.Read also: ‘It’s for humanity’: Indonesians step up to volunteer in vaccine trials Topics :center_img In the second stage, which is called V1, subjects who tested negative for COVID-19 would be injected with the candidate vaccine. Two weeks later, in the third stage called V2, the subjects would receive the second injections.The process will end six months after the first visit. During the period, blood samples will be taken three separate times.The subjects are also required to report their health condition after the injections.According to Rodman, since the start of the clinical trials, 248 people had been injected with the candidate vaccine, 21 of whom had received second injections.”In general, they only reported sores around the injection area, without any fever. It’s a very common reaction,” he said.Head of Unpad’s clinical trial team, Kusnandi Rusmil, said the team would focus on analyzing 540 subjects’ blood samples to assess the vaccine’s efficacy, immunogenicity and safety.”The remaining 1,080 samples will be used to discover the side effects of the vaccine,” Kusnandi said.”We expect to finish the trial for the 540 volunteers before December,” he added. (nal)last_img read more