By Dialogo July 02, 2009 BOGOTA, July 1, 2009 (AFP) – The Colombian police confiscated 15 million dollars from drug trafficking in the last month, an achievement linked to drug traffickers’ efforts to increase cocaine production, which has dropped due to actions taken by the authorities, the police announced on Wednesday. Police director General Oscar Naranjo, said that “in the last few weeks” the police “have seized around 15 million dollars from drug trafficking” in operations that uncovered two routes by which drug chiefs brought money into Colombia. “Different organizations are involved, but it should be indicated that two routes have been identified in these cases, the Caribbean islands and, in particular, Mexico to Colombia,” the official stated to reporters. Regarding the latter discovery, the police commander indicated that a “system of human couriers” had been detected running from Mexico City to Bogotá and Cali in the southwest. Naranjo indicated that since the beginning of the year the Colombian authorities have seized 17 million dollars of drug money, and he explained that the increase in the flow of currency is due to the traffickers’ need to stimulate cocaine production in light of a fall in supply in the United States. This decrease is explained by actions taken by the authorities against coca crops and their seizures of smuggling shipments, with the result that cocaine for sale on U.S. streets has declined in purity by 39 percent, the official affirmed, citing American government statistics. “The availability of cocaine in the United States has notoriously decreased; hence these organizations are desperate to bring dollars into the country in order to promote the planting and production of alkaloids,” he maintained. Colombia is the world’s largest producer of cocaine, although production fell 28 percent in 2008, from 600 to 430 metric tons, according to a study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released on June 19.
Researchers suggest unique H5N1 virus sparked 2007 India outbreakAn H5N1 avian influenza isolate found in an outbreak in India’s Manipur state in 2005 might have been independently introduced to the area, perhaps through wild waterfowl, according to a report that appeared yesterday in Virology Journal. Investigation of the genome found that the virus belonged to clade 2.2 but was distinct from earlier Indian isolates. It more closely resembled isolates from waterfowl in Russia, China, and Mongolia.[Feb 24 Virology Journal abstract] Tactics for discouraging personal antiviral stockpilingEducational campaigns may not be enough to curtail personal stockpiling of oseltamivir (Tamiflu) during infectious disease outbreaks, but promoting appropriate prescribing practices might help, according to a study published in the Feb 23 issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology. The researchers surveyed 109 patients who received prescriptions for oseltamivir in the fall of 2005 and compared their responses with those of 825 matched controls. Of the two-thirds who probably obtained oseltamivir for stockpiling, only two patients reported that they took the drug. Survey responses between the medication group and controls varied little, except regarding worries about avian flu.[Feb 23 Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol abstract] H5N1 detected in India, H7 strain found in Czech waterfowlOfficials in India’s West Bengal state today confirmed an H5N1 avian influenza outbreak in poultry near the town of Siliguri and said they planned to cull 5,000 birds to stop the outbreak, according to a report from the Press Trust of India. Elsewhere, veterinary authorities in the Czech Republic said yesterday that they found low-pathogenic H7 avian influenza in geese at a pond in the Hodonin region in the country’s southeast, the Czech News Agency (CAN) reported. The virus was found in 9 of 60 randomly selected geese. Animal health workers will cull about 3,000 geese and 350 ducks to stem the virus.[Feb 25 Press Trust of India story] Gates funds study of flu immunization in rural pregnant womenCincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center said it has received a $6.7 million Gates Foundation grant to study influenza vaccination in pregnant women in rural areas with limited resources. The study, to be conducted in Bangladesh or Nepal, expands on a recent randomized trial that showed that flu immunization in pregnant women protects both the women and their infants. The study will involve 1,500 women and take 5 years, the hospital said yesterday. PharmAthene gives some phase 2 results for anthrax vaccinePharmAthene Inc. reported that its second-generation anthrax vaccine, Sparvax, was safe, well-tolerated, and immunogenic in a phase 2 trial involving 415 volunteers. Antibody concentrations in the volunteers were higher with one of two dosing schedules tested but did not differ according to dose levels. The company said the findings indicate that SparVax “may be a promising second generation rPA [recombinant protective antigen] vaccine candidate” for use in civilians. The firm issued a news release following a poster presentation yesterday at the American Society for Microbiology’s (ASM’s) Biodefense and Emerging Diseases Research Meeting in Baltimore.[Feb 24 PharmAthene news release] Feb 25, 2009 ASM offers glimpses from biodefense meetingIn a news release from the Biodefense and Emerging Diseases Research Meeting, the ASM provided some highlights from lectures and poster presentations on pandemic flu, the 1918 flu virus, and the anthrax letter investigation. Bruce Levin of Emory University lectured on whether the current worries about the risk of an H5N1 flu pandemic are justified, and scientists described a vaccine that protected mice and ferrets from the 1918 flu virus, ASM reported. The release also gives an overview of a presentation by several speakers on the science behind the anthrax investigation.[Feb 24 EurekAlert press release]
Press Association Arsenal’s club-record signing of Germany playmaker Mesut Ozil sent a clear message the Gunners mean business again, according to forward Theo Walcott. “I am sure the new coach is going to develop me further and I am also really looking forward to playing in the Premier League.” Before Sunday’s 1-0 win over big-spending Tottenham, Wenger had seen moves for Gonzalo Higuain, Luis Suarez and Yohan Cabaye all fail to materialise, and only secured the free transfers of Yaya Sanogo and Mathieu Flamini, before a loan move for Palermo goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano was completed on deadline day. Although being signed initially as support for Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski, the 27-year-old Italy international fully intends to make the most of any opportunities which come his way. “I think it is a good thing that there are other great goalkeepers here. It is a positive fight,” Viviano said. Arsenal had also been keen to bring in some more offensive cover and looked at a loan deal for Chelsea forward Demba Ba, but the Stamford Bridge club were not interested in reaching such an agreement with their rivals. Ozil, 24, completed what is understood to be a £43million switch from Real Madrid on transfer deadline day as Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger finally landed an addition of supreme quality. Having come up against Ozil in action for England in their 4-0 defeat in the 2009 European Under-21 Championships final, Walcott is in no doubt of the impact he can have for Arsenal. “It definitely shows a statement that we are ready to step up,” said Walcott. “We had a disappointing start to the season, but we have bounced back and it is looking fantastic now. “With the likes of Ozil joining the club, it is only going to boost everyone.” Ozil admitted he had not expected to leave the Spanish giants but revealed once it was clear he no longer figured in the first-team plans of Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti following the world-record signing of Gareth Bale from Tottenham, he had no hesitation in moving on to a fresh challenge at Arsenal. Ozil is now set to become an integral part of Wenger’s team alongside Jack Wilshere, Walcott and Santi Cazorla. “At the weekend, I was certain that I would stay at Real Madrid, but afterwards I realised that I did not have the faith from the coach or the bosses,” Ozil said in an interview with the German Football Association’s official website, www.dfb.de. “I am a player who needs this faith and that is what I have felt from Arsenal, which is why I have joined. “Wenger gives me the faith and I can develop further. I know what I can do and I know that I could make the grade with any club in the world because I am so convinced in myself, but if I don’t feel people have faith in me, then that is why I had to leave and at Arsenal, I feel I have this fully.