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India: Why is TN government scared of investigation into Jayalalithaa’s mysterious death at Apollo hospital?

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With the announcement made by the Election Commission of the date for the bypoll in RK constituency in Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu politics takes a new twist as the ruling AIADMK government is forced to face a daunting tasks in retaining its power at Madras Fort. The opposition DMK which lost to Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK for the second time consecutively, is eagerly waiting to snatch power form AIADMK.

Sasikala and her supporters in the proxy government officially led by Palanisamy are upset and depressed over the ay thing are slowly turning against them. While Sasikala is deeply worried about her ill fate in jail, the AIADMK government is unable to justify the mysterious death of former CM and AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa. Former AIADMK CM Panneerselvam and his supporters as well as general public is feeling betrayed by the government in hiding facts about the treatment and death of Jayalalithaa and they are also unable to explain why Jayalalithaa was not flown to USA for better treatment. In order to save their skins, TN CM Edappadi Palanisamy complains that former CM Panneerselvam has developed illicit ties with DMK the foe of Jayalalithaa to pull down his government and discredit her by asking for investigation.

If he really is eager to give justice to his leader Jayalalithaa Palanisamy would have sought proper investigation and he himself would have ordered preliminary enquiry to launch a expansive investigation to bring the truth to the public. However, he thinks an investigation would expose all black deals to get power and party under Sasikala’s control. Therefore, he questions the rationale behind Panneerselvam’s refusal to order an investigation, knowing full well OPS was part of the system as the Cm and he would have harmed Sasikala’s secret agenda.

What the CM Edappadi refuses to admit is that their “business” leader Sasikala had undertaken steps to split the party and weaken it only to be defeated in the next general poll. By forcing CM Panneerselvam she has only easily created the necessary precondition to split the party. And in kidnapping many MLAs and keeping them in a hotel with all “pleasures” to MLAs, Sasikala has only divided the party of MGR and Jayalalithaa.

Sasikala wants courts get out so that she can deliver all judgments herself. Without courts, she can become CM of Tamil Nadu on her own without even being an elected MLA. She would take law into her own hands.

CM Palanisamy has two talks at hand: one to help his mentor Sasikala’s comfortable stay in Bangalore jail and to retain all MLAs and party functionaries who support him as CM under his and Sasikala’s control. People of Tamil nadu do not seem to support the government and that would be amply clear once the results of by-poll in R.K. Nagar constituency in the capital city Chennai scheduled for April 22. R.K. Nagar constituency is very important because former CM Jayalalithaa contested and won from here her twice consecutively.

CM Palanisamy does not want to order any investigation into Jayalalithaa’s death because that would directly impact upon the prospects of poll outcomes. The poll in RK Nagar would be a referendum to Sasikala/Palanisamy tactics to take power from Panneerselvam. Apparently, the Sasikala coup is not at all appreciated by the people. The ruling AIADMK’s candidate has no chance for winning the poll, not even the CM Palanisamy decided to contest the poll himself. Panneerselvam’s group also may not be able to win it; nor will Jayalalithaa’s nice Deepa be able to become MLA just like that but she might poll more votes than the ruling AIADMK candidate might. Now obviously the DMK has the opportunity to win the seat to surge ahead to capture the government.

How?

Mysooru mallige, Jayalalithaa, who single handedly had won the state assembly election against powerful DMK-Congress alliance and against PMK and BJP etc, some months ago is no more and the sympathy votes that would have easily helped the AIADMK sail through in the bypoll as well are squandered by the Sasikala’s coup effort to unseat Jayalalithaa’s favorites like Panneerselvam and take over both the government and party only to be controlled by Sasikala led mafia.

Nowadays, Sasikala family members try to win people’s appreciation by tell lies that only they had made Panneer Selvam the CM and not Jayalalithaa.

As AIADMk is baldy split, the united DMK has all the chances to win the RK constituency but also quickly come to power by defeating the government. Deepa has already announced her candidature for the RK constituency.

People seek to remove the Palanisamy government as they do not trust it. AIADMK votes are now split and another Jayalalithaa relative Deepa also would further split the votes and spoiled the chances. If, however, if CM Palanisamy goes for patch up with Panneerselvam by giving him both CM and treasurer pests that he held before he was kicked out by Sasikala and family. .

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Human Rights

Millions in Yemen ‘a step away from starvation’

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Mobile health clinics are distributing nutritional supplements to children in Yemen. WFP/Saleh Bin Haiyan

The crisis in Yemen, now in its seventh year of war, continues unabated, with thousands of people displaced and millions “a step away from starvation”, the UN Humanitarian Relief Coordinator said on Wednesday during a high-level side event on the margins of the 76th General Assembly.

“The country’s economy has reached new depths of collapse, and a third wave of the pandemic is threatening to crash the country’s already fragile health-care system”, Humanitarian Affairs chief Martin Griffiths told world leaders at the meeting: Yemen: Responding to the crises within the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.

Underscoring that the most vulnerable always “bear the highest cost” of the crisis, he said that females were more likely to be hungry, sick or exposed to gender-based violence and, with little access to essential services, millions of internally displaced people face “a daily struggle to survive”.

Cause for hope

In a positive development, the UN official credited the international community for stepping up support to the country’s humanitarian aid operation.

Thanking the world leaders, he said that Yemen’s Humanitarian Response Plan is “among the most well-funded”, with 98 per cent of the pledges made at an event in March fulfilled.

With over $2 billion received, the UN and its partners were able to “prevent famine and pull people back from the brink of despair”, delivering assistance to “every single one of the country’s 333 districts”.

‘Far from done’

Despite these important achievements, Mr. Griffiths acknowledged that the work there is “far from done”, as many sectors still face “alarming funding gaps” and humanitarians are working with less than one-fifth of the money needed to provide health care, sanitation, and shelter.

“Without additional funding, these and other forms of critical life-saving support – including food assistance – will have to be reduced in the coming weeks and months”, he warned.

Three requests

The UN relief chief asked global leaders to continue generously supporting Yemen’s humanitarian operation; respect international humanitarian law and protect civilians; and address the root drivers of the crisis, including restrictions on imports, which elevate the prices of essential goods.

He urged them to do “everything in our collective power to stop this war”, saying, “at the end of the day, peace is what will provide Yemenis the most sustainable form of relief”.

Children robbed

The war has robbed too many of Yemen’s children of safety, education and opportunities.

“Each day, the violence and destruction wreak havoc on the lives of children and their families”, Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), told the meeting.

She painted a grim picture of 1.7 million displaced youth, 11.3 million youngsters depending on humanitarian assistance to survive and 2.3 million under-five “acutely malnourished” – nearly 400,000 of whom are at “imminent risk of death”.

“Being a child in Yemen means you have probably either experienced or witnessed horrific violence that no child should ever face”, said the UNICEF chief.

“Quite simply, Yemen is one of the most difficult places in the world to be a child”.

Millions ‘marching towards starvation’

In his address, World Food Programme (WFP) chief David Beasley said that in a nation of 30 million people, food rations are needed by 12.9 million; while 3.3 million children and women need special nutrition, together with 1.6 million school children.

“We’re literally looking at 16 million people marching towards starvation”, he said.

With one thousand people a week dying from a lack of food and nutrition, the senior WFP official warned that if $800 million is not received in the next six months, the need to cut rations could lead to the death of 400,000 children under the age of five next year.

We have a moral, obligation, to speak out and step up”, he stated, appealing to the world leaders to “put the pressure on all parties…to end this conflict”.

“These are our children; these are our brothers and sisters we need the donors to step up immediately otherwise children are going to die. Let’s not let them down. Let’s do what we need to do”, concluded Mr. Beasley.

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Africa Today

South Sudan ‘determined to never go back to war’

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Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior, Vice-President of the Republic of South Sudan, addresses the general debate of the UN General Assembly’s 76th session. UN Photo/Cia Pak

South Sudan is “ready to turn a new page” towards greater peace, development and prosperity, Vice-President Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior said in her speech in the UN General Assembly on Friday. 

A decade after gaining independence from Sudan, the country remains “on a path of nation-building” and is working to implement a 2018 revitalized peace deal which led to the formation of a unity government last year.

 “I want to assure our friends and partners that we are determined to never go back to war,” said Ms. De Mabior.

“We must replace the destruction of war with the productive use of our vast natural resources and national assets for the good of our people.”

Prioritize nation-building

The Vice-President recalled that when South Sudan became independent, the international community pledged to build capacity in nation-building, establishing a UN mission in the country, UNMISS, to support this process.

“However, after the outbreak of the war, that vision was abandoned, and priority was placed on protecting civilians and providing humanitarian assistance. As a result, support for capacity building of the State was terminated,” she said.

Ms. De Mabior stressed that supporting a State’s ability to govern responsibly and effectively is essential.  It is also necessary to guard against what she called “the unintended consequences of dependency on humanitarian assistance.”

Given improvements in peace and security, she said it was now time to transition from emergency towards sustainable development.

“It is a painful and shameful situation for a country endowed with vast fertile land to be regarded as poor,” she added.  

“We must ensure peace and security in the country and double our efforts to support our people who want to return, and are returning, to their areas of origin, for them to participate fully in nation-building and contribute to building food security in the country.”

Support youth and women

South Sudan is also “a youthful country”, and the Vice-President called for continued efforts to develop the skills of its youth and women “to provide an alternative to picking up the gun again and engaging in destructive behavior.”

Encouraging developments have included joint efforts by the national security forces and their UNMISS counterparts to promote rural peace and security, while the Government is set to unveil a national youth service programme.

“To fulfill the vision of our liberation struggle, we must use our oil revenues to fuel economic growth through investment in agriculture,” she said.  

“We will invest in infrastructure to connect our rural communities to the markets. We need the public and private sectors, including foreign investors, to join hands in turning South Sudan’s potential wealth into a reality.”

Glass ‘half-empty’

Ms. De Mabior reported progress in implementing aspects of the Revitalized Peace Agreement, particularly in the creation of state and national bodies and public financial management reforms

However, “the glass remains half-empty” in implementing a permanent ceasefire and transitional security arrangements, she said, noting the urgency for a unified army.

“The security sector reform is the most challenging part of the Agreement as it contains elements at the center of the violent conflicts in the country,” she said, calling for continued dialogue.

“Building sustainable peace requires inclusivity, collective investment, determination, diligence, and patience.”

Meanwhile, relations with Sudan have also improved, though outstanding issues remain over the oil-rich Abyei border area.

Ms. De Mabior stressed her country is determined to learn from the past.

 “We must make the Revitalized Peace Agreement succeed, and we can only do that with the support of our regional and international partners. Simply stated, South Sudan desires and is ready to turn a new page,” she said.

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Health & Wellness

WHO backs Regeneron COVID-19 drug cocktail – with equal access, price cut

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A technician carries out an experiment in the Regeneron laboratory. © Regeneron

The Regeneron antibody drug cocktail – casirivimab and imdevimab – has been added to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) list of treatments for COVID-19 patients, the UN agency said on Friday, before underscoring the need for lower prices and equitable distribution. 

“This is a major breakthrough in the care of COVID-19 patients”, said Dr. Janet Diaz, WHO head of clinical care. “This is our first recommendation for a therapeutic for those patients with mild, moderate disease,” she said, because it reduces “the need for hospitalisation if they are at high risk”. 

Effective ‘reduction in mortality’  

WHO’s conditional recommendations are for use of the drug combination on patients who are not severely ill, but at high risk of being admitted to hospital with COVID-19, or those with severe cases of the disease and no existing antibodies.  

“Giving them this additional antibody seems to show an effect. And what effect is that? A reduction in mortality” Dr. Diaz told a briefing in Geneva. 

The antibody therapy was granted emergency use authorization in the United States November last year after it was used to treat former President Donald Trump when he was admitted to hospital with the virus. The United Kingdom has also approved Regeneron, while it is under review in Europe. 

‘Meaningful’ benefit 

The WHO recommendations were largely based on data from a British study of 9,000 patients in June which found that the therapy reduced deaths in hospitalised patients whose own immune systems had failed to produce a response. 

“We are taking the information (from the UK study) and generalizing it to other persons,” said Dr. Diaz. “We saw there was a benefit we thought was meaningful.” 

The treatment has been on the market for decades to treat many other diseases, including cancers. It is based on a class of drugs called monoclonal antibodies which mimic natural antibodies produced by the human body to fight off infections. 

Equity, price cut call 

Swiss drugmaker Roche, has been working in partnership with Regeneron, which holds the patent, to produce the antibody treatment. 

Dr. Diaz urged Regeneron to lower the drug’s price and work on equitable distribution worldwide: “We know that the life-saving benefits and the benefits for patients with COVID-19 is significant and requires action.” 

She added that WHO-hosted health agency UNITAID, has been negotiating directly with Roche for lower prices and equitable distribution across all parts of the world, “including low and middle-income countries”. 

WHO has also been in discussions with the company for a donation and distribution of the drug through UN Children’s Fund UNICEF, following an allocation criteria set by the health agency. “We are working together with the company so we can address these very important issues so we can have equitable access” she said. 

Call to manufacturers 

In a statement, WHO said in parallel it had “launched a call to manufacturers who may wish to submit their products for pre-qualification, which would allow for a ramping-up of production and therefore greater availability of the treatment and expanded access. 

ACT-A partners are also working with WHO on an equitable access framework for recommended COVID-19 therapeutics”. On that subject, Dr Diaz added that “there are bottlenecks and we are aware of those. 

WHO has launched the pre-qualification expression of interest call so that the manufacturing companies can start to submit their dossiers to WHO”. 

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