Archive for the ‘HIV’ Category

India’s sex trade exposed

November 29, 2008

On the streets of Kamathipura young women stand ready and available, looking to lure their next customer. They pose, they smile, some wave. They look terribly young, their faces heavy with make-up. Many are dressed in Western clothes, others in traditional saris. In this red light district of Mumbai, they stand on the kerbside in front of grimy shacks containing the beds on which they do their work. There is the hustle and chaos of the traffic, the clogged roads, the constant noise. And there is terrible sadness too.

By Andrew Buncombe
The Independent (UK)

“I was tricked here. I was in love with a man and I came here with him. But when I got here, he sold me,” says Simla, a 42-year-old prostitute, originally from Nepal. She has two children and she saves what little she earns to send them to school, desperate that they do not follow her into the sex industry. “I was fooled into this. I will not allow my children to do it.”

Sex costs little on the frenetic streets of India’s business capital, where people come and go all the time. New arrivals wash up from India’s poor rural hinterland, desperate for work, any sort of work. Men – who are used to a repressed, conservative culture – come and stand and stare. There is a near-constant flow. A young woman might be able to charge a customer 100 rupees (£1.30) a time, but an older woman might only get 30 rupees (40 pence). When a woman demands that a customer use a condom, the price is usually lowered as a result.

These women and their customers are at the forefront of India’s Aids crisis. The country has up to three million people living with HIV, the third-highest total in the world. Experts say that the most important danger in the spread of HIV comes from the relatively high numbers of men who go to sex workers, who do not use condoms and whose jobs involve them travelling. As a result, both sex workers and India’s legions of horn-blaring truck drivers are among the groups most persistently targeted by health workers and educators trying to push the message of safe sex.

The Insidious Nature of Human Trafficking: Vietnam

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Massive Funding Failing to Curb AIDS Epidemic in Russia

November 21, 2008

Greater investment in combatting AIDS is failing to slow its spread in Russia, the director of the Russian federal AIDS centre Vadim Pokrovsky said Friday.

“The AIDS epidemic is currently rising in our country,” Pokrovsky told a press conference in Moscow.

“We have a large amount of funding that is going to increase still further — but the number of HIV-positive people is growing faster than our ability to care for them.”

Nearly 37,000 Russians have contracted the HIV virus that leads to AIDS since the beginning of 2008 — a figure that could increase to 50,000 by the end of the year, he said.

That would represent an 11.8 percent increase from 2007, when 44,713 new cases were recorded, according to official figures. In 2006 and 2005, the number of new cases totalled 39,589 and 35,861 respectively.

The increase comes despite the Russian government earmarking 7.1 billion rubles (206 million euros, 258 million dollars) to fight AIDS, Pokrovsky said.

Some 5.1 billion rubles has been allocated for anti-retroviral drugs to help 30,000 HIV cases, but Pokrovsky criticised the government’s “delay” in buying medication and “shortages” of drugs available.

A particular “weak point” of the government’s programme is the allocation of no more than 200 million rubles for AIDS prevention, he said.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which since 2004 has helped 10,000 people, most of them migrants, with HIV in Russia, will stop operating in the country at the end of 2010.

“Russia is no longer considered one of the countries where its people earn low salaries, so it can no longer benefit from Global Fund money,” he said.

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Bono: World has a stake in upcoming US election

October 30, 2008

U2 frontman and activist Bono said Wednesday that next week’s presidential election provides a great opportunity to “relaunch Brand USA” amid worldwide scrutiny.

By BECKY BOHRER, Associated Press Writer

The whole world has a stake in how things turn out,” the Ireland native told thousands of Starbucks Corp. employees in New Orleans for a leadership conference. The coffee company and Bono’s (RED) label, which helps raise money for the Global Fund that pays for AIDS programs in Africa, also announced a partnership Wednesday.

The singer talked about brands and what they stand for. In Starbucks’ case, he said some might see it as a place to hang out and get coffee — but that brand can also signify social responsibility.

The way the U.S. is perceived — “Brand USA” — also means something, he said. And it’s never been so closely watched, said Bono, who didn’t endorse either candidate for president.

Regardless of who wins, “it’s a great chance to relaunch Brand USA,” he said.

Bono has been a leading advocate for Africa, drawing attention to issues ranging from poverty and hunger to AIDS.

(RED) aims to partner with private companies to sell products such as coffee drinks, with some proceeds going to the Global Fund. More than $112 million has been raised in the two years since (RED) launched. (RED) helps pay for medication and other services for people in Africa suffering from AIDS and HIV, according to its Web site.

A Brilliant Fraud: Obama and The Reverend, No Deal

March 23, 2008

 By Charles Krauthammer

 Charles Krauthammer

The Washington Post

Friday, March 21, 2008; Page A17

The beauty of a speech is that you don’t just give the answers, you provide your own questions. “Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes.” So said Barack Obama, in his Philadelphia speech about his pastor, friend, mentor and spiritual adviser of 20 years, Jeremiah Wright.

An interesting, if belated, admission. But the more important question is: which“controversial” remarks?

Wright’s assertion from the pulpit that the U.S. government invented HIV “as a means of genocide against people of color”? Wright’s claim that America was morally responsible for Sept. 11 — “chickens coming home to roost” — because of, among other crimes, Hiroshima and Nagasaki? (Obama says he missed church that day. Had he never heard about it?) .
What about the charge that the U.S. government (of Franklin Roosevelt, mind you) knew about Pearl Harbor, but lied about it? Or that the government gives drugs to black people, presumably to enslave and imprison them?

Obama condemns such statements as wrong and divisive, then frames the next question: “There will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church?”

But that is not the question. The question is why didn’t he leave that church? Why didn’t he leave — why doesn’t he leave even today — a pastor who thundered not once but three times from the pulpit (on a DVD the church proudly sells) “God damn America”? Obama’s 5,000-word speech, fawned over as a great meditation on race, is little more than an elegantly crafted, brilliantly sophistic justification of that scandalous dereliction.

His defense rests on two central propositions: (a) moral equivalence and (b) white guilt.

(a) Moral equivalence. Sure, says Obama, there’s Wright, but at the other “end of the spectrum” there’s Geraldine Ferraro, opponents of affirmative action and his own white grandmother, “who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.” But did she shout them in a crowded theater to incite, enrage and poison others?

“I can no more disown [Wright] than I can my white grandmother.” What exactly was Grandma’s offense? Jesse Jackson himself once admitted to the fear he feels from the footsteps of black men on the street. And Harry Truman was known to use epithets for blacks and Jews in private, yet is revered for desegregating the armed forces and recognizing the first Jewish state since Jesus’s time. He never spread racial hatred. Nor did Grandma.

Yet Obama compares her to Wright. Does he not see the moral difference between the occasional private expression of the prejudices of one’s time and the use of a public stage to spread racial lies and race hatred?

(b) White guilt. Obama’s purpose in the speech was to put Wright’s outrages in context. By context, Obama means history. And by history, he means the history of white racism. Obama says, “We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country,” and then he proceeds to do precisely that. What lies at the end of his recital of the long train of white racial assaults from slavery to employment discrimination? Jeremiah Wright, of course.

This contextual analysis of Wright’s venom, this extenuation of black hate speech as a product of white racism, is not new. It’s the Jesse Jackson politics of racial grievance, expressed in Ivy League diction and Harvard Law nuance. That’s why the speech made so many liberal commentators swoon: It bathed them in racial guilt while flattering their intellectual pretensions. An unbeatable combination.

But Obama was supposed to be new. He flatters himself as a man of the future transcending the anger of the past as represented by his beloved pastor. Obama then waxes rhapsodic about the hope brought by the new consciousness of the young people in his campaign. Then answer this, Senator: If Wright is a man of the past, why would you expose your children to his vitriolic divisiveness?
This is a man who curses America and who proclaimed moral satisfaction in the deaths of 3,000 innocents at a time when their bodies were still being sought at Ground Zero. It is not just the older congregants who stand and cheer and roar in wild approval of Wright’s rants, but young people as well. Why did you give $22,500 just two years ago to a church run by a man of the past who infects the younger generation with precisely the racial attitudes and animus you say you have come unto us to transcend?

Worsening polls reveal Obama’s pastor problem

March 20, 2008
By Jitendra Joshi

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Democrat Barack Obama suffered in the polls Thursday after a much-acclaimed speech on race that, pundits said, had failed to defuse voters’ anger over rage-filled sermons by his former pastor.

US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) ...
US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) speaks to supporters during a campaign stop at the University of Charleston in Charleston, West Virginia, March 20, 2008.REUTER/John Sommers II (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2008 (USA)

Waging an acrimonious battle against Hillary Clinton for the Democrats’ White House nomination, Obama confessed to being bruised by the controversy surrounding his longtime Chicago preacher, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

“In some ways this controversy has actually shaken me up a little bit and gotten me back into remembering that, you know, the odds of me getting elected have always been lower than some of the other conventional candidates,” the Illinois senator told CNN in an interview that aired late Wednesday.

“As a practical matter, in terms of how this plays out demographically, I can’t tell you. And the speech I gave yesterday (Tuesday) obviously was not crafted to hit a particular demographic,” he said.

Obama, the first African-American with a viable shot at the presidency, used his landmark address on race and politics to try to blunt the Wright controversy but also to elevate the debate to a higher plane.

On endless television replays of his sermons, Wright has been shown assailing US and Israeli “terrorism,” calling on blacks to sing “God damn America,” and alleging that AIDS in Africa was spread by the US government.

Many conservative commentators have fastened on Obama’s refusal to disown Wright….

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UN Expert Critical of India, Cambodia, Thailand For Sex Tourism, Endangering Children

March 15, 2008

GENEVA (AFP) – India, Cambodia and Thailand are not doing enough to protect children against the risks associated with sex tourism for fear of damaging their economies, a UN human rights expert charged on Friday.

Sex workers wait for clients in front of bars in Patpong street ...
Sex workers wait for clients in front of bars in Patpong street in central Bangkok in 2006. India, Cambodia and Thailand are not doing enough to protect children against the risks associated with sex tourism for fear of damaging their economies, a UN human rights expert charged on Friday.
(AFP/File/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)

Juan Miguel Petit, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of children, said authorities in these countries are often not willing to tackle the issue of children’s sexual exploitation for tourists’ benefit.

“Sometimes there are big pressures on governments, explicitly or implicitly, when there are enormous touristic activities going on, making millions of dollars,” he told journalists.

“Some interests see the limitation on the sexual market as a limitation for their earning of money,” he added.

He denounced this “insane tourism that puts at risk the lives of hundreds and hundreds of children,” saying it was against the public interest in such countries.

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Provinces Undermine Beijing’s Goals on AIDS

September 19, 2007

 By Maureen Fan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, September 19, 2007; Page A16

MIANCHI, China — Twice a week, just after school lets out in this small county in Henan province, a 13-year-old girl with a short bob and wide smile holds her parents’ hands and walks two blocks down the street into the harsh fluorescent light of an emergency medical station.

There, she pulls back the waistband of her pants while a nurse dabs disinfectant, prepares a syringe and gives the girl’s right buttock a quick jab. “It doesn’t hurt,” the girl said after a recent visit. “I’m used to it.”

(The article is about how the provinces in China are somewhat behind in AIDS treatment and doctors have, in the past, refused to treat or been reluctant to treat AIDS.)

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“Where Did My Lucky Go?” Asks China’s Hu Jintao

August 21, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
August 21, 2007

China’s President Hu Jintao might be fed up with his “wonderfully pleasing idea” to bring the Olympics to Beijing.

He has seen his nation come under ever increasing scrutiny. People want to know about China’s record on human rights, HIV/AIDS, global warming and the environment and just about everything else.

Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao

When things go horribly wrong you might expect to hear someone from China utter, “Where Did My Lucky Go?”

Luck, or more appropriately, “good fortune,” is one of the centerpieces of Chinese life.

When you live in a godless society, luck takes an even larger role.

So all of good fortune was implored as the one year countdown to the Olympics started in China earlier this month.

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge marked the start of the one-year countdown with a lavish Chinese-style ceremony that stared on the 8th day, of the 8th month at 8 PM and 8 minutes 8 seconds.

Eight is a lucky number in China.

But to the Chinese, Tiananmen Square has not always been lucky — especially for those seeking democratic and human rights reforms.

Chinese tanks mowed down pro-democracy demonstrators 18 years ago right where tonight’s Olympic ceremonies commenced.

“Not lucky place” a Chinese friend said to me as we watched events unfold.

Yesterday, the “not lucky place” was shrouded in toxic air pollution as Beijing completed a four day test with more than one million cars off the road. Unfortunately, the test was supposed to prove that by removing one million cars from Beijing the city would enjoy cleaner air.

Beijing is rushing to make its air clean for the 2008 Olympics, but experts say it will be impossible for the site to be totally safe for athletes at the global sporting event.

The test failed. Air pollution, as measured by the official state environmental agency, was up from three days ago.

President Hu Jintao of China must be saying about now, “Where Did My Lucky Go?”

President Hu has a host of other issues dogging him: Darfur, the poisoned food scandal, the poisoned toy scandal and a mine disaster of epic proportions.  Read more at:

If China Has Nothing to Hide, Why Do They Hide So Much So Often?

China Plans Happy Olympics But A Few “Small” Problems Remain

China Planning a Surreal Facade for Summer Olympic Games: Beijing 2008

Beijing’s Pollution Rises in 4-Day Test Of Restricted Driving

Psst. China! Enforce your laws, make new regulations where needed, admit the truth and wash your hands!

If China Has Nothing to Hide, Why Do They Hide So Much So Often?

August 20, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
August 21, 2007

Let’s just review a few tales of China’s handling (or mishandling) of information, the media, the Chinese people and the truth lately.

–On August 17, an estimated 12 million cubic meters of water flowed into the Zhangzhuang Mine, in Shandong province 300 miles southeast of Beijing, after hard rains caused the Chaiwen River to burst through an earthen levee. More than 700 miners were underground when the dam burst. About 172 miners are unaccounted for. But because no list of names has been released, even to waiting families, and no news has been allowed about the event, we may never know the truth.

The Washington Post reported on August 20, 2007  that, “The accident, the latest in a long series of tragedies in Chinese mines, provided another dramatic example of China’s poor worker safety record, particularly in the booming coal industry. More than 2,800 miners were killed in underground explosions and floodings last year, making China’s mines the deadliest in the world. The highest known toll came from a gas explosion in a mine shaft in 2005 that killed 214 workers.”

After last week’s flooding in the Zhangzhuang Mine, families waiting for some news from their government revolted in a near-riot. Many were beaten and removed by uniformed troops, according to eye witnesses.

At the end of the Washington Post report on the lost miners, reporter Edward Cody wrote that, “The official party newspaper, People’s Daily, ran a prominent front-page story Monday detailing the widely applauded rescue of 69 miners on Aug. 1 after a similar flooding accident in Henan province. ‘Miners’ Lives Above All,’ was the headline. The paper’s account of what was actually happening in Shandong was limited to five paragraphs on page three.”

The story, it seemed, was as submerged as the miners.

–On August 16, President Hu Jintao of China ordered all of Chinese media to only report good news. The efficiency of this order’s execution indicates a long-planned evolution. China watchers says there are two goals to this. First, the communist leadership of China does not want the people of China to see, understand or think about the social ills and crimes of the government just before the 17th Communist Party Congress. And, secondly, President Hu is putting into place media restrictions that will “sugar coat” all information about China between now and next summer’s Beijing Olympics.
The Chinese National Olympic Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, designed by Ai Weiwei
The Chinese National Olympic Stadium, also known as the ‘bird’s nest’, designed by Ai Weiwei. Ai Weiwei has said he will not attend any Olympic events, even the opening in the stadium he designed, because of China’s poor record on human rights.

–Also on August 16 in Henan, the police shut down two offices of China Orchid Aids Projects, saying that they were part of an illegal organization. Earlier this month, Li Dan, the director of the group, was detained for 24 hours and a planned conference about the legal rights of people infected with HIV cancelled.

Meg Davis, founder of the Asia Catalyst organization, another advocacy group for HIV/AIDS sufferers that planned to participated in the conference, said China’s leaders were excessively anxious ahead of the congress and the Olympics.

“Groups like China Orchid Aids Projects are among the best and the brightest in the world. China should be showing them off, not shutting them down,” she said. “We can’t sit on our hands and stop fighting Aids for a year because of a sporting event.”

–Also in anticipation of the 17th Communist Party Congress, on August 8, 2007, China halted radio transmissions from as many as 12 of the 17 radio stations in Nanjing. The stations were known for their more liberal views. All the stations remain silenced as of this writing on August 20.

–In Beijing, practice for what we here call the “Surreal Façade” (Beijing Summer Olympics 2008) is in full tilt. Because the automobile traffic contributes to Beijing’s smothering air pollution, the communist government has devised a plan to get one million cars off of Beijing’s streets. A four day test is just completed. But because many people were inconvenienced, out of their cars and on to buses and trains, the communist government had issued instructions to editors and producers about how they must cover the “One Million Auto Shut-Down.”

By the way: the test was a failure.  Pollution actually went up during the four day “One Million Auto Shut-Down.”

If Hu Jintao isn’t asking, as the Chinese do, “Where did my lucky go?” maybe he should.


No interviews or images of the inconvenienced are allowed. The success of the four day test, at least in the eyes of the Chinese media, has been foreordained.

“This crackdown is a legal gun to the head to responsible journalists who want to report on the basis of facts,” said Sophie Richardson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “China has a long track record of using similar campaigns to weed out news that the authorities find objectionable because it exposes social and political problems.”

–On August 13, 2007, a bridge collapsed in China near the town of Fenghuang, killing 41 construction workers. China’s Central Propaganda Department ordered a media blackout on the bad news which exploded into a fist fight between police and the assembled media at the site of the bridge collapse.

–On the day marking exactly one year until the start of the Beijing Games, China arrested a group of student activists who draped a banner on the Great Wall reading: “Free Tibet.”  The protest was quiet and peaceful.

After two days “detained,” the students were deported.   This was a signal to the world about the manner in which protesters will be treated during the Olympics.  No mention of the affair appeared in the Chinese media.

–China’s handling of the product safety scandals, which started in December 2006, is in a class by itself. For months China denied that any products exported from China were harmful. Yet all over the globe, inspectors found poisoned pet food, poisoned toothpaste, poisoned cough syrup that probably killed over 100 people in Panama, and other dangerous problems. Even children’s toys were found with lead-based paint on them, which is toxic.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported that China’s “farm-fed” seafood came packed with antibiotics. That’s because they are fed on human excrement. If you soak your Chinese shrimp too long in warm water, the “pink” runs out. It is dye: there to make the seafood look more fresh and appealing.

With a public relations scandal involving food and other product safety looming if not already roiling for China on June 12, 2007, the Vice Minister for the State Administration for Industry and Commerce in China said, “We can guarantee food safety.”

But that assertion was clearly laughable.

On August 4, 2007, the official China news agency Xinhua quoted the deputy head of the State Food and Drug Administration, Hui Lusheng, as saying “Dealing with and preventing food safety risks is a long-term, arduous and complicated project.”

Finally, a probably reliable admission from China.

But China is never happy with the truth.

Just this last weekend, on China State Television, the Most Honorable Li Changjiang, China’s director of product safety made an appearance to say the “product safety scandal” was all “politically motivated, unfair, biased and poisoned by jealousy.”

So you Americans, Canadians, Panamanians and others in the west fabricated the scandal: China was not at fault as some might think. Is that a correct interpretation, do you think?

The bottom line to all of this is this the Chinese people live in a repressive regime with an ugly record on human right. In the minds of Hu Jintao and other communist leaders in China, the less the people of China know the better. If a free media continually exposed China’s ills, the entire communist system might be called into question.

And with the world coming to call in Beijing next summer during the Beijing Games, the Chinese will stop at nothing to make sure that China appears to be the new nirvana.

END Note: as we were completing this article, the news services reported that New Zealand was investigating toxic levels of chemicals in clothes made in China….
New Zealand investigates formaldehyde content in Chinese clothing imports


China: You Won’t Get The Truth

China Planning a Surreal Facade for Summer Olympic Games: Beijing 2008

China Plans Happy Olympics But A Few “Small” Problems Remain

China’s President Hu Sends “Good News Only” Order

August 20, 2007

Jonathan Watts in Beijing
Friday August 17, 2007
The Guardian (London)

China has ordered its media to report only positive news and imprisoned a pro-democracy dissident amid a clampdown on dissent ahead of the most important meeting of the Communist party in five years.

Media controls have been tightened, Aids activists detained and NGOs shut down as the president, Hu Jintao, prepares for the 17th party congress, when the next generation of national leaders will be unveiled in a politburo reshuffle.

Chen Shuqing – a founder member of the banned China Democracy party – suffered the toughest punishment meted out so far when he was found guilty yesterday of “inciting people to overthrow the government.”

Read it all at:

Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao