Top EU Diplomat Expelled on Orders from Gambia President Jammeh

president yahya jammeh on vote campaign, photo courtesy flickr source afp seyllou

BANJUL, Gambia - After being expelled under orders that left Brussels “astonished,” the European Union (EU) representative to Gambia left the country within the 72-hour deadline by boarding a Brussels Airlines flight back to the EU headquarters.

Agnès Guillaud, the European Union's chargée d’affaires in Banjul, received her expulsion orders on Friday, 5 June 2015 and was asked to leave Gambia within a strict 72-hour deadline.

The Gambia’s president, Yahyah Jammeh, expelled the European Union’s top diplomat to his country without "much explanation" an EU spokeswoman said. In response, the EU summoned the Gambian ambassador on Saturday for clarification of the expulsion.

A clear explanation has yet to be released publicly, but what is certain is that the expulsion comes at a time of tension between the EU and the Gambia on issues of international human rights.

Last December the EU blocked over $12 million in aid to the Gambia, citing its “poor human rights record” as justification for the withdrawal. With the expulsion Guillaud, on top of the recent report released by the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) stating that LGBT people must receive civil rights protections equal to those of any other citizen, to the suppression of free speech, and the unjustified execution of prisoners; Jammeh's government has become for all intents and purposes a dictatorship.

EU officials found the expulsion completely unjustified. "There appears to be no justification for the decision by the Gambian authorities. We are astonished by this announcement which came with no explanations," an EU spokeswoman said.

This expulsion comes in a wave of many anti-western political moves led by Jammeh who in 2013 withdrew his country from the British Commonwealth, with officials saying that the institution represented nothing more than “prolonged colonialism.”

The President has also received international criticism for his claim that he has a herbal remedy that can cure AIDS and his 2012 statements in which he vowed to execute dozens of prisoners in his jails during an “anti-crime” crackdown. In addition to President Jammeh's human rights abuses in terms of due process, he has openly expressed anti-homosexuality rhetoric which is an increasing phenomenon amongst many African leaders.

On 16 May 2015, the White House released a statement by U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice, in which she stated that the U.S. stands in solidarity the LGBT community and specifically accused President Jammeh of "unconscionable comments.....which underscore why we must continue to seek a world in which no one lives in fear of violence or persecution because of who they are or whom they love. We condemn his comments, and note these threats come amid an alarming deterioration of the broader human rights situation in The Gambia. We are deeply concerned about credible reports of torture, suspicious disappearances – including of two American citizens - and arbitrary detention at the government's hands." (Source: The White House)

In response to these accusations, Jammeh's office issued the following statement, “The National Security Advisor should instead address racism, abuses and impunity in America where lately innocent and unarmed African-Americans, for example, are being regularly shot by white police officers with impunity rather than prescribe human rights to Gambians who have a long history of civilization.” 

There is no proof that the expulsion had anything to do with Jammeh's hard-line positions dedicated to his so called "preservation of social norms", or the fact that Gambia has increasingly come under fire because of its gross human rights abuses, but it remains to be seen if the government will retract the order for the expulsion of Guillaud, or continue to forge a path that will further encourage sanctions and a decrease in international aid.

Contributing Editor: @AustinBryan
LinkedIn: Austin Drake Bryan

HIV Prevention Pill Now Available

HIV Infected H9 T-Cell, photo by niiaid

HIV Infected H9 T-Cell, photo by niiaid

ATLANTA, Georgia -- An HIV prevention pill is recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for those at risk for contracting HIV.  The pill, called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP, brand name Truvada), works by lowering the amount of the virus circulating in a person's bloodstream.  It has already been used as part of some HIV/AIDS treatment plans, but recently has been approved as a prevention method as well.

Each year in the United States, there are 50,000 new cases of HIV. Currently there are about 1.1 million people in the US who are living with HIV.  PrEP trials have shown that users of the pill can reduce their chance of contracting HIV by up to 92%.

Naysayers of the pill claim that with increased availability of Truvada, at-risk individuals will be less careful with other methods. Dissenters also say that it will be hard for people to remember to take the one-a-day pill.

However, supporters say that there is no evidence that the availability of the pill will lead people to neglect other methods of HIV prevention. The CDC says that for various reasons, there are many at-risk people who have not been using condoms or who do not use condoms correctly. PrEP will provide another option for these people.

A three-city initial trial of the pill showed that 98% of subjects involved had some amount of the drug in their system at the end of the trial period -- disproving fears that people will forget to consistently take the daily dosage.

PrEP, which currently costs about $13,000 a year and is covered by most insurance companies, is not recommended for everyone. Its target group is people who are at a substantial risk for HIV, such as someone with a partner who has tested positive for an HIV, people not engaged in mutually monogamous relationships, people who practice anal sex without regular condom use and people who inject drugs under potentially unsanitary conditions.

Currently a vaccine version of PrEP is being tested in monkeys.  This injectable version would have the convenience of giving several months worth of protection.

So You Love Me? Use The FDA HIV Test Kit

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 00:57 AM EDT, 16 May 2012

AIDS Awareness, Photo by CancerdotscWASHINGTON, DC – David Morgan of Reuters UK first broke the news that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering approval of an over-the-counter home HIV test kit. If approved, the test could further empower sexually active men and women, by arming them with a tool to quickly determine the HIV status of their partner.

However, other than abstinence, there is nothing which can provide 100% protection against contracting the HIV virus that causes AIDS. Although the FDA is considering various drugs and vaccines which could prevent the virus from proliferating if someone is exposed, this is an unlikely near-term solution.

By contrast, the over-the-counter HIV test is on the verge of approval despite criticisms about the potential accuracy of the test as well as the lack of governmental oversight. Similar to a home pregnancy test which is self-administered using urine, the home HIV test kit will use a mouth swab to gather saliva which is then tested. However, in both tests any number of factors could alter the accuracy of the outcome.

Usually, a false negative or positive is the result of administering the test incorrectly, but in the case of pregnancy, a false negative is not a life threatening miscalculation. By contrast, a false negative HIV test could have calamitous effects for the individual and each of their subsequent partners. The current home HIV test kits require a drop of blood which is securely packaged and sent to a certified medical testing lab for analysis and results.

There are many reasons why people would prefer to take the test in private. They are in complete control of the results of the tests and don’t have to inform anyone of their status. In some American states, when an individual is tested by their physician or at a public clinic, if it is determined that they are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, these results are reported to the State Health Department.

This becomes public knowledge and it is incumbent upon the individual to inform their sexual partners or risk legal action should someone contract the virus because of their duplicity. Additionally, the home HIV test kit would eliminate the ability for the medical and healthcare community to track the results or accurately gauge the rate of increase or decrease of the spread of AIDS.

For at least 30 years AIDS awareness campaigns have been aggressively promoted by public and private health organizations, so this option for self-diagnosis seems to be the next logical step in the fight against this pandemic. The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) estimates that there are about 1 in 5 people with HIV who are sexually active but don't know they are infected.

For information about HIV Counseling and Testing: Facts, Issues, and Answers click here.

The UNAIDS 2008 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic estimates that young people aged 15 to 24 accounted for 45 percent of all new HIV infections. Today’s youth are much more comfortable discussing birth control options with their partners and this test may further empower them in their self-protective efforts.

Though it is true that some unethical individuals may utilize the test but not disclose the results, or use the test on an unsuspecting sexual partner and disclose an incorrect diagnosis of this individual’s status to the community; the benefits far outweigh these risks.

Many young people have lost their virginity, their health, and their lives to the promise of everlasting love in a moment of passion. Both men and women can recall at least one youthful indiscretion in which they compromised their health through the denial of the possibility that what has happened to other people could happen to them. Almost everyone can recall at least one episode of sweet, cajoling murmurs, “If you loved me you would let me do it…”

To which we can now respond, “I do love you, so in addition to a condom, please use this kit.”

Jim Yong Kim, New World Bank President

president-obama-announces-dr-jim-yong-kim-as-nominee-to-lead-world-bank.jpg

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 00:16 AM EDT, 17 April 2012

Jim Yong Kim, President of World Bank, 2012WASHINGTON, DC – The World Bank announced today that they selected President Barack Obama’s nominee Jim Yong Kim to serve as its president. Mr. Kim has been selected to replace the out-going president Mr. Robert B. Zoellick.

Mr. Kim, a Korean-American doctor, will be the first leader of the institution who doesn’t come to the post with a financial pedigree. He successfully challenged the Nigerian nominee, Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Colombia's former finance minister and development expert, Jose Antonio Ocampo.

“During the bank’s 68-year history, an American has always headed the institution, while the top job at its sister organization, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), traditionally goes to a European. But emerging economies have recently been contesting that informal arrangement at both the IMF and the World Bank and presenting their own candidates.” (Source: VOA)

Although, some of the Bank’s 187 members have expressed concern that Kim lacks the requisite financial acumen to head the institution, other view his tenure as the director of the World Health Organization and a co-founder of global non-profit Partners in Health as vital to his understanding of the needs of the countries to which the World Bank provides financial and technical assistance.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda gave a ringing endorsement of Kim, as he reflected upon the dedicated support he provided in helping Rwanda to restore its health system. He went so far as to say, “Kim is a true friend of Africa and well known for his decade of work to support us in developing an efficient health system in Rwanda."

When Kim headed the World Health Organization he successfully implemented a program to increase access to affordable HIV drugs in the developing world.  He was tenacious in his efforts to extend treatment for HIV and AIDS to over 7 million people in developing nations.

Kim’s nomination has become controversial, with opponents angered by the upset of the pro forma appointment of wealthy nominees being selected to lead the institution, and in the process enrich themselves and their cronies; and proponents who believe that it is time for a new selection process and applaud the US' bold move in nominating an unlikely candidate.

It is fitting that President Obama would take the bold step of appointing an outsider to ‘change’ an entrenched culture and reform an organization which has lost sight of its mission to assist countries better support and improve the lives of their citizenry.

Kim will begin his five-year tenure in July 2012.

The HIV Murders Club

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 18:11 PM EDT,  7 March 2012

Blood DropMASVINGO PROVINCE, Zimbabwe - Shocking news hit the internet six days ago when a 17-year-old HIV positive maid from Mupandawana, Gutu, was sentenced to a 10-year prison term for trying to infect her employer's four-year-old child with the HIV virus.

People deliberately infecting other people with the virus that causes AIDS is a very real problem both here and abroad. Perpetrators engage in this type of immoral behavior for a number of reasons including denial, anger and revenge.

In the case of Pelagia Mureya, originally from Choto Village in Chief Magonde area in Chinhoyi, she is purported to have sought revenge by putting menstrual blood in porridge which she prepared for her employer's child. She alleged that this was done in retaliation for the ill-treatment to which she was subjected at the hands of her employers. (For information on how HIV is transmitted visit the CDC website here.)

On 11 September 2011, the ABC News program 20/20 featured a report about Philippe Padieu, who was convicted in 2009 for infecting several women with HIV between the years 2004 to 2007. Padieu, actively pursued his victims, convinced them that he was HIV negative, psychologically manipulated them into engaging in unprotected sex with him, and then discarded them when his interest waned or the money ran out.

Padieu was subsequently convicted in a Texas court of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for infecting the women and sentenced to 45-years in prison.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3PA1x8JJkY] In featuring the Mureya case, we also presented Padieu's case to provide balance, because perpetrators of this crime come from all backgrounds. It was especially important to provide this juxtaposition because many of the comments that readers wrote on other sites that reported on Mureya's case were either outright racist or had racial overtones.

This does not excuse the heinous and disgusting manner with which Mureya tried to infect the infant in her care, and from a moral standpoint, both she and Padieu should be considered monsters.

It is alleged by the court and the parents of the 4-year old child that Mureya laced the porridge she was feeding the child with drops of her infected menstrual blood. Even the most callous individual would be incensed at the thought of such an unclean substance being ingested by an innocent and trusting child who is ill-equipped to protect themselves against harm.

This post does not defend Mureya's behavior, and in fact, we believe that the 10-year prison term to which she was sentenced was not harsh enough when a two-year reduction in sentence for good behavior is factored into the equation. Mureya's case would evoke a visceral response in almost anybody, and thus reports of this case have focused on the sensational aspect rather than the fact that a child was used by an adult to exact vengeance on another adult.

The Nahmias Cipher Report's primary mission is to attempt to bring balance in reporting about people of the Continent and in other Emerging Economies. This is why we chose to present an alternative perspective to this story, one that would make readers realize that the deliberate infection of healthy people with the HIV virus is more prevalent than one would think. To that end, though this case is sensational, it is not an isolated occurrence, nor is this crime a uniquely 'black,' 'African,' or 'impoverished people' problem. If you think you are safe, just ask the women assaulted by Padieu.

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias</address

Weyni Mengesha | Ethiopian Film Director

Weyni Mengesha | Ethiopian Film Director

Weyni Mengesha, is an award winning director who has produced and directed performances of her work all across Canada, as well as in New York and London. This young and dynamic Habesha Nesh has big dreams some of which have been realized and others that are even now materializing because of her inner confidence, courage and dedication to following her truth. Mengesha is one of the founding artists of Sound the Horn (STH). In addition to serving the local community the organization also chose to focus on raising awareness about the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa. The devastating impact of HIV/AIDS has been most severe in sub-Saharan countries. "At the end of 2009, there were 9 countries in Africa where more than one tenth of the adult population aged 15-49 was infected with HIV.

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