Two decomposed bodies found in a house

Police had discovered the bodies of a couple in a house in Galpotta Udugampola yesterday and the body of their child in a well nearbyThe police said that the bodies were found after information was received by the police emergency unit. Investigations are underway. (Colombo Gazette)

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Lankas LGBT community cautiously optimistic

“Strangely, no government has yet shut Pride down,” Flamer-Caldera says. “This, I believe, is because we have a strategy to include foreign diplomats and heterosexual allies in all our events, thus making it difficult for the government to shut us down or cause disruption.”Still, it’s not easy to work on these issues in Sri Lanka, says Jude Fernando, executive director of Heart to Heart, a community organization that supports men who have sex with men, as well as trans women.The main problem, he believes, is that people are afraid to come out because of the Sri Lankan Penal Code, as well as societal reactions. “I was young. I would never say that now,” says the woman, who asked Daily Xtra for confidentiality to avoid the possible repercussions of coming out publicly. And yet, this is a country whose capital, Colombo, has hosted Pride celebrations for the last 10 years, albeit without a parade.Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, executive director of Equal Ground, the non-profit working toward LGBT rights that also organizes Pride, says organizers skip the parade to keep people safe.Instead, she says, “we hold different events such as fashion drag shows, dramas, workshops, art and photo exhibitions, film festivals, parties and rainbow kite festivals on the beach.” In the small island nation of Sri Lanka, life for LGBT people can be a struggle. Like many other South Asian societies, Sri Lanka is very religious and socially conservative. While there are organizations working to further gay rights here, such as Equal Ground and Heart to Heart, those in the community still regularly experience discrimination, ostracism and even violence. Sri Lanka’s LGBT community is cautiously optimistic of having their rights protected under the new Government, Daily Xtra reported.“I’m sorry I’m a lesbian,” a Sri Lankan woman says she told her mother, after her sister outed her. Over the years, Pride in Colombo has grown from a handful of people to up to 2,000 people attending annually. “If anything happens, the Penal Code is there,” Fernando says.Though no one has been convicted under sections 365 or 365a since Sri Lankan independence in 1948, the law still stands as a threat and is used by both state and non-state actors to harass the LGBT community.Community organizations that distribute condoms have allegedly had their staff harassed by police for promoting homosexuality. Heart to Heart now has an advocacy program with police, educating them about the prevention of HIV/AIDS.Equal Ground has been under state security surveillance, Flamer-Caldera says.“Central Intelligence Services, the Criminal Investigation Department actually, raided some of our partner organizations in rural areas. We’ve had our phones tapped and were followed . . . files were taken,” she alleges.Police are also accused of using an old British vagrancy ordinance to prohibit loitering on the street, at an officer’s discretion. Some officers, it’s alleged, are more likely to object to masculine-looking lesbians and trans women found “loitering” in public spaces.The degree of harassment may differ from urban to rural areas.Kiru, who asked Daily Xtra to publish only her first name to protect her safety, says she can live relatively openly in Colombo, but back in her home village near Jaffna, she says she would be killed if she were open about her sexuality.But Flamer-Caldera says Equal Ground has found success hosting workshops and even occasional Pride celebrations in rural parts of the country. She says they explain LGBT issues in terms of human rights, something rural communities may better relate to than Colombo urbanites.Wherever they live, some LGBT Sri Lankans worry that coming out could cost them their jobs.“It’s really bad when it comes to work, with family, amongst friends, everywhere. It’s really difficult,” says one woman who asked Daily Xtra not to publish even her first name. Well known in her field of work, the woman worries that if it were publicly known that she preferred women to men, she would be out of a job.But things are slowly changing for the better, many LGBT Sri Lankans believe.Like other communities in Sri Lanka, the LGBT community isn’t sure what to expect from the new government that came to power in January 2015 and won a subsequent election in August 2015.“During the old government, we had a lot of issues,” Flamer-Caldera says. “But the minute the new government has come on board, it has been as though this huge weight has been lifted off of all of our shoulders. I think every single citizen feels that. But for how long?”Others share her cautious optimism, though they remain wary.One gay man living in Colombo sees gaining acceptance within Sri Lankan society as the real key to making progress for the LGBT community there.“More than asking for rights for the LGBT community, we need social acceptance,” says Roshan, who asked Daily Xtra to publish only his first name.The community has to get stronger and more unified, Roshan says. “Everyone should come together and work together and then maybe we will have acceptance.” (Colombo Gazette) A remnant of British colonialism, sections 365 and 365a of the Sri Lankan Penal Code criminalize homosexual acts using the terms “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” (365) and “gross indecency” (365a). It’s a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.Initially interpreted as only prohibiting sexual acts between men, the sections were broadened in 1995 in an ironic attempt to be more inclusive and gender-neutral by criminalizing homosexual acts for both men and women. read more

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Akashi appreciates efforts to achieve national reconciliation

Ambassador Yasushi Akashi, Representative of the Government of Japan on Peace- building, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction, has appreciated the efforts of the new Government to achieve national reconciliation.He said this when he met the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Harsha de Silva in Japan, the Foreign Ministry said today. During the visit, the Deputy Minister also had bilateral discussion with his counterpart Hitoshi Kikawada, Parliamentary vice Minister for Foreign Affairs.They exchanged views on areas of mutual interest including trade, investment, development cooperation, maritime security and defense cooperation between the two countries. The Deputy Minister also met with Takayuki Ueda, Vice-Minister for International Affairs, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of Japan. In response, Ambassador Akashi appreciated the efforts of the new Government to achieve national reconciliation and stated that that the Government of Japan would extend its fullest support to Sri Lanka in the reconciliation process. Dr. Harsha de Silva briefed Akashi on the measures being taken by the Government of Sri Lanka on the reconciliation process. Madam Yuko Obuchi, Secretary General of Japan-Sri Lanka Parliamentary League also called on the Deputy Minister during the visit and they discussed on the areas of mutual interest.The Deputy Minister also met with Hideaki Domichi, Senior Vice President of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Satoshi Shimomura, Executive Vice President, and Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) and Norihiro Kono, President of Japan Information Technology Services Industry Association (JISA) and briefed on the favorable investment climate in Sri Lanka and invited foreign direct investments. Deputy Minister also attended the meeting arranged by Haruo Tanabe, Managing Director of Hitachi Corporation. The discussion was focused on advancing the Metro transportation and connectivity in the country. The Company highlighted the possibility of introducing Japanese Technology in the areas of Transportation, Communication and Power Systems and their willingness to enhance the cooperation with Sri Lanka. (Colombo Gazette) read more

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US trade official holds talks with US businesses in Sri Lanka

The closed door meeting held today covered issues such as trade tariffs and remedies, e-commerce, issues facing US companies in Sri Lanka and the trade/investment climate in the country.Before assuming the role of Executive Director, Golsen was the Commerce Department’s coordinator for the U.S.-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue. (Colombo Gazette) AMCHAM said that Golsen’s visit to Sri Lanka comes at an opportune time with U.S. trade policy being at the forefront of topical issues. In this role, Golsen oversees the Commerce Department’s operations in 14 Asian posts and manages three Asia-focused policy offices in Washington, DC. A US trade official had talks in Colombo today with American businesses operating in Sri Lanka.AMCHAM hosted James Golsen, Executive Director, Asia, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce had talks with US companies on issues they face in Sri Lanka. read more

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UNP takes a swipe at book MS hopes to release

He said that the UNP had done a lot when it was in the Government yet it faced issues when doing so. UNP General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, speaking at a rally in Kandy today, said that the book should focus on the actions of the President and how he disrupted the operations of the coalition Government. The United National National (UNP) took a swipe at President Maithripala Sirisena over a book he hopes to launch in January.Speaking at an event yesterday the President had said that he will launch a book in January on the unsuccessful union in the coalition Government with United National Party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. “There are so many names we can give his book,” Kariyawasam said. read more

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Communications Engineer who funded NTJ detained

The Police said that 53-year-old Mohamed Zaheen Nasurdeen was arrested in Dehiwala today. A Communications Engineer who funded the National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ) has been detained.The NTJ leadership was involved in the Easter Sunday attacks.

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East meets West in researchers fellowship award

A Brock researcher will spend his summer vacation searching German archives for answers to complex philosophical questions thanks to a prestigious fellowship award.Wing-Cheuk Chan, Philosophy professor, was recently awarded a three-month research fellowship from the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The award, valued at $14,000, will allow Chan to spend time in the Leibniz-Archives in Hannover to investigate his project, “The Labyrinth of the Continuum as a Metaphysical Problem.”According to Leibniz, a 17th-century German philosopher, there are two labyrinths in philosophy: while the first concerns freedom, the second concerns continuum. Chan aims to solve the second one, but from the perspective of Chinese philosophy.“This might also help clarify why this great German philosopher was so enthusiastic with the Yijing (The Book of Changes), which is perhaps the most ancient Chinese philosophical text,” Chan said. The research may also shed light on a new settlement of the priority-debate concerning the calculus between Newton and Leibniz.This is the second time Chan has received this fellowship award. A recipient of funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, he has also received research fellowships from the National Science Council of Taiwan; the Indo-Canadian Shastri-Foundation of India; and the CCK-Foundation of Taiwan.Chan, who has also adjudicated in philosophy for SSHRC, said his contributions are evidence that Brock’s philosophy department holds a unique place in Canada for its emphasis on comparative studies of Eastern and Western philosophy. read more

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3rd annual Tims Tribute

Sharlene Bosma hosted over a hundred golfers at Copetown Woods today, for the 3rd annual “Tim’s Tribute”.The golf tournament is in her late-husband’s honour, and raises money for families dealing with similar tragedies.Sharlene says her late husband Tim, was a “beer golfer” and never took the sport too seriously. And she says that’s what this golf tournament is all about.“Tim liked to have a good time, and have fun. I really hope that for everyone here today, that they have a good time and have fun.”One hundred and sixteen golfers took part in the golf tournament and money raised on this day will go to help families like the Bosma’s who have had loved ones murdered.Sharlene says the trial of Dellen Millard and Mark Smich was really hard to get through.“I had to check out of life so I can check back in. I i was exceptionally happy that the trial was over. Time was needed to regroup, and refocus.”Millard and Smich are appealing their first degree murder convictions. A move sharlene isn’t worried about.“It was too be expected, not surprised. First degree murder convictions come with appeals.”In May of last year, Sharlene launched a $14 million civil lawsuit against her husband’s killers.Some of the golfers today marvelled at the the strength Sharlene Bosma has shown throughout this whole ordeal.“I can’t imagine what she’s been through, but from there to here she’s done an amazing job in coming back and showing faith in society and trying to put everything together.” said Henry Kelpin.“I read the article, saw it in the news with the guys that did this terrible deed. To see what she’s been doing and have this charity event like this is an amazing thing.” said Ken Rowan.Today was a day of golf, with a lot of laughter. Exactly how Sharlene says “Tim would have liked it.” read more

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2 dead 3 injured in crash near Algonquin Park

Ontario Provincial Police says two people are dead and three others injured after a crash on Highway 60 Sunday afternoon.Emergency crews were called to a multi-vehicle collision at the entrance of Algonquin Park’s west gate around 4 p.m.Police say a small blue car was travelling westbound on the highway when it crossed the centre line and hit a tour bus head on.They say the car then flipped on the road and hit another car.Police say the tour bus didn’t have any passengers on board. Two people died at the scene, a third was flown by air ambulance to a Toronto hospital in serious condition, and two others were treated at a local hospital and released.OPP say several people stopped to help the victims of the crash including Algonquin Park staff. The names of the deceased are being withheld pending notification of their next of kin. read more

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Niagara police need help locating missing woman

The Niagara Regional Police Service is asking the public for help in locating a missing 23-year-old woman. Laura Heather McIntosh was last seen at her home on Effingham St. near Tice Rd. in Pelham, Ont. after being dropped off by a friend at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.She is described as six-feet tall, with a medium build, purple hair and a pierced septum. Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to contact Niagara police 3 District in Welland at 905-688-4111 ext 3300.

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Womans 65yearold wedding ring stolen from her hand in Simcoe

The Ontario Provincial Police is looking for two women who stole a bracelet, necklace and a 65-year-old wedding ring from an elderly woman while she was wearing them.Police say the senior was pushing her walker on the sidewalk on Robinson St. in Simcoe when an older model, black vehicle stopped in front of her. Two females got out and approached the woman. They began removing a bracelet from her wrist, a necklace and the victim’s wedding ring. The duo gave the woman two large gold chains, got back inside their vehicle and fled the scene. Police believe a male was driving the get-away vehicle. OPP says the items are worth more than $3,000. The bracelet is described as yellow gold with emerald and diamond squares encircling the entire wrist. The necklace is a wide, yellow gold heart-shaped pendant, with diamond chips on the outline of a gold heart. The wedding band is 65-years-old and is a wide, yellow gold wedding band with diamond chips embedded on the outer edge of the entire ring.Anyone with information that could help police with this investigation is asked to contact OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. read more

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Bank of England keeps key interest rate on hold at 075

LONDON — The Bank of England has kept its main interest rate on hold at 0.75% and warned that mounting fears of a no-deal Brexit at the end of October is increasingly weighing on the country’s short-term economic growth.The decision, announced Thursday, was unanimous among the nine-member policymaking panel.Minutes accompanying the decision showed that rate-setters think growth has slowed this year to a rate below potential, “reflecting both the impact of intensifying Brexit-related uncertainties on business investment and weaker global growth on net trade.”Rate-setters said there was more evidence that Brexit uncertainty has become “more entrenched.”The bank’s forecasts are conditioned on the assumption that Britain will leave the EU with a deal, smoothing its exit.The Associated Press read more

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Canada Post strike hits Montreal with 6000 workers walking off the job

MONTREAL — About 6,000 Canada Post employees in Montreal have walked off the job, along with postal workers in several other cities as ongoing rotating strikes continue across the country.The Canadian Union of Postal Workers said the Montreal walkout began at 10:30 p.m. local time Monday, joining several other cities participating in the 24-hour strikes.CUPW says walkouts are being held in five B.C. cities, including Fraser Valley West, Prince George, Squamish and Royal City.Workers are also out in Weyburn, Sask., and seven Ontario communities, including Cobourg, Deep River, Fort Frances, Peterborough and Kapuskasing.Canada Post rotating strikes spread to Winnipeg and Brandon, Manitoba on MondayCanada Post’s rotating strike virtually shut down plant that processes two-thirds of country’s parcel deliveryCanada Post strikes to shift east to New Brunswick on FridayLast week, 9,000 workers in the Toronto area walked off the job for two days, forcing delays in shipments of tens of thousands of letters and parcels across the country.In a statement, Canada Post warns the Montreal walkout will have a significant impact on operations, since it is an important processing hub.“Canada Post will make every effort to minimize the impact, but customers well beyond Montreal may see delays for parcel and mail delivery,” the Crown corporation said.CUPW and the postal service have been unable to reach new collective agreements for the two bargaining units in 10 months of negotiations.“We outlined our major issues to Canada Post at the very beginning of the negotiation process … and clearly stated that we would not sign any agreements that don’t address overwork and overburdening, equality and full-time jobs,” CUPW national president Mike Palecek said in a statement.“Our position hasn’t changed. We aren’t just bargaining for today, we are bargaining for the future — for our members and everyone who relies on the postal service.”Last Tuesday, Labour Minister Patty Hajdu appointed Morton Mitchnick, a former chair of the Ontario Labour Relations Board, to help the two parties resolve their contract differences. read more

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Brahimi urges funding for Afghan Interim Authority

“We have said before this new Administration needs to pay salaries to its employees, they have not been paid for the past six months and salaries are also needed for the next six months,” said Ahmad Fawzi, spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi. “To pay salaries you need cash,” Mr. Fawzi told reporters in Kabul.Referring to the Start-Up Fund created for that purpose, Mr Fawzi said that despite some pledges, “very little cash” had come through. “It is time for the international community to stop talking and to start delivering help; in particular the Afghan Authority is counting on the international community to help pay salaries, and that help is not coming as fast as it should,” he said.Established following talks in Bonn last month among various Afghan factions, the Start-Up Fund sought $20 million, of which some $17 million were pledged and $3 million received.Mr. Fawzi also reported on meetings held over the weekend between Mr. Brahimi and members of Afghan civil society, the Interim Administration and the diplomatic community in Kabul. These included talks with the United States Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, the Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, Sultan Ayub Khan, and the Chairman of the Interim Administration of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai.Also this weekend, Mr. Brahimi attended the inauguration of the Pakistan Embassy in Kabul, where Mr. Ayub Khan announced a contribution of $100 million towards the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Mr. Brahimi expressed his satisfaction to see Pakistan “resuming business in Afghanistan,” which would help the Kabul authorities to turn a new page in their history – one of progress, reconstruction and peace. read more

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Afghanistan UN joins campaign to immunize 6 million children against polio

As polio continues to be the leading cause of disability in Afghanistan, two United Nations agencies have joined the national government’s nation-wide campaign to immunize more than 6 million children in three days.The Afghani Ministry of Health, with support from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), will tomorrow kick off the first round of National Immunization Days (NIDs) for this year. “For too many years, the world has seen my country struggle with a difficult history, but I am proud to say that through this campaign, we are on the verge of making history that will benefit future generations,” Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai said in a statement marking the start of the campaign. “I hope that all communities across Afghanistan will play their part, not least in ensuring that vaccinators can undertake their work safely and without any form of hindrance.”UNICEF said teams of vaccinators will go from house to house to ensure that all children five years and under receive two drops of the Oral Polio Vaccine, regardless of prior immunization status or geographical location. The agency has advised families to keep all eligible children at home from the 15 to 17 of April so that volunteers can reach them.This week’s campaign is particularly critical as April to September is considered the peak season for polio transmission, UNICEF said. Afghanistan is one of the last ten countries in the world where polio remains endemic and is also among the top five priority countries for global eradication. UNICEF and WHO will provide technical assistance, vaccines, and vaccine storage equipment as well as support for the transportation of monitors and the payment of incentives for the vaccinators. More than 30,000 vaccinators, supervisors and other volunteers will also be in the field. read more

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Sudan UN refugee agency opens fourth safe camp inside neighbouring Chad

Some 367 refugees were transferred to a camp at Iridimi at the weekend, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman Kris Janowski told reporters today in Geneva.Iridimi’s first arrivals mean almost 13,000 refugees have now been transferred to four camps – the others are living at camps in Touloum, Farchana and Kounoungo.The camps were set up by UNHCR and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) well away from the Chad-Sudan border, where an estimated 110,000 refugees have been staying since fleeing Sudan. Sudanese militias had been attacking the border shelters, prompting the UN to find safer sites.Mr. Janowski said a fifth camp, at Goz Amer, should start accepting refugees from the border zone soon. It will be the first camp within its region of eastern Chad, which is next to Darfur.UNHCR, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the NGO known as CARE and Chad’s national refugee agency distributed aid to 6,000 Sudanese refugees in the border town of Bahai over the weekend, he said.Many of the refugees there had already used up their savings and food supplies and had been relying on food donations from local Chadians and on doing small jobs in return for money to buy food, according to UNHCR.Fighting between the Sudanese Government, local militia and rebel groups, including the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), since March last year has driven thousands of people from Darfur and internally displaced another 700,000 people in Sudan, which has a total of 3 million to 4 million displaced throughout the country largely as a result of its 20-year civil war. read more

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Fréchette heads to Athens for meeting of European philanthropy organizations

Ms. Fréchette is scheduled to attend the opening plenary Sunday of the General Assembly of the European Foundation Centre, which is meeting under the theme, “The Athens Agora – Bridging Civilizations and Cultures.”In her keynote address, the Deputy Secretary-General is expected to focus on how European foundations can work more closely with the United Nations to advance development and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Goals are a set of eight targets endorsed at a UN summit in 2000 which address global ills such as extreme poverty and hunger as well as the spread of AIDS and other major diseases.The European Foundation Centre says it is dedicated to strengthening organized philanthropy which is supports civil society in Europe and elsewhere in the world. read more

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Mandate of UN mission in Liberia extended another year

A year after it set up the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to stabilize the West African country following an end to 14 years of civil war, the Security Council today extended the operation’s mandate for another 12 months and welcomed the progress it was making in disarming the nation’s thousands of ex-combatants.In a resolution adopted unanimously, Council members extended the life of UNMIL until 19 September 2005 and called on Liberia’s political parties to work together so that free and fair elections can take place, as scheduled, by October next year.The resolution also praised the role played by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to support the peace process in a country that has been torn apart by civil war for much of its modern history.Earlier this week, in a report to the Council, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the Mission was making great progress, citing the disarmament of an estimated 70,000 former combatants and the deployment of UNMIL troops across Liberia. Security has therefore improved and humanitarian aid can be distributed more smoothly.But Mr. Annan said the programme to rehabilitate and reintegrate the former fighters who have given up their weapons did not have enough funds, and called on international donors to make up the shortfall.Today’s Council resolution backs that request and also asks donors to fulfil the pledges they made at the International Reconstruction Conference in February.UNMIL had 15,763 troops, military observers and police officers in place on 31 August and has an approved budget of $864 million for the year until 30 June 2005. read more

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WHO in Thailand investigating possible spread of bird flu by humans

Since yesterday the Thai Ministry of Public Health has confirmed two new cases of H5N1 avian influenza in humans: a 26-year-old woman who died on 20 September and her 32-year-old sister, who remains hospitalized in stable condition, WHO said.While the investigation of this family cluster provides clues that human-to-human transmission may have occurred, evidence so far indicates that spread of the virus among humans has been confined to family members, the agency added.Dr. Klaus Stöhr, Coordinator of WHO’s Global Influenza Programme, said the incident could be a “non-sustained, inefficient, dead-end street human-to-human transmission.”But he warned that it also could also indicate the beginning of more widespread, sustained transmission “which could lead to the global spread of this virus, and that’s what we would fear, namely that such a virus would acquire the human-to-human transmissibility.”Thai officials suspect the first woman’s 11-year-old daughter – who died of pneumonia on 8 September – was the initial case, although laboratory confirmation is not possible as no specimens from this patient are available for testing. The 6-year-old son of the woman’s sister was hospitalized but is recovering, and samples from him are being tested.The girl, who lived in the northern province of Kamphaeng Phet, resided with her aunt, whose infection has been confirmed. Both patients are known to have had contact with dead chickens.The girl’s 26-year-old mother, whose infection is also now confirmed, resided in the Bangkok area, but provided bedside care for her daughter while she was hospitalized, up to the time of the child’s death. The mother fell ill upon her return to Bangkok, where she died on 20 September.Thai officials have concluded that the mother could have acquired the infection either from some environmental source or while caring for her daughter, and that this represented a probable case of human-to-human transmission, WHO said.Clinical samples taken from cases in the family cluster were immediately shared with a laboratory in the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance Network. Virus isolated from these samples will undergo genetic and antigenic analysis to determine whether the virus has evolved and, more specifically, whether it has acquired genes that allow improved transmissibility among humans.The new cases bring to three the total in Thailand confirmed since early September. Altogether, the country has reported 15 cases, of which 10 were fatal, since the first human cases were detected in January of this year. read more

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UN appeals for 59 million to help hurricane victims in Haiti and

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland told reporters that Haiti needs almost $32 million and Grenada requires $27 million, just to cover the next six months. So far only $5 million has been received for each country.In Haiti, more than 1,500 people have been killed and at least 900 others are missing after Tropical Storm Jeanne brought floods and mudslides to the north of the country two weeks ago, according to the national authorities. In Grenada, government estimates say dozens are dead and 90 per cent of homes were damaged or destroyed when Hurricane Ivan struck on 7 September.An unusually high number of hurricanes have lashed the Caribbean this season, bringing casualties and causing damage from the United States to Trinidad and Tobago.Mr. Egeland said the impact on Haiti and Grenada, however, was so much worse that “many of the other hurricane-affected societies of the Caribbean have begged us to concentrate on Grenada and Haiti, saying that they will try to cope on their own.”UN agencies say more than $12 million of the Haiti appeal has been designated for food and health care, while establishing and maintaining clean water and sanitation services is expected to cost almost $5 million. Funds will also be spent on education, agriculture and on trying to kick-start the country’s fragile economy.In Grenada, the focus is more on helping to rebuild the thousands of shattered homes and buildings; almost $9 million is needed for shelter there, according to UN agencies.Mr. Egeland said it was also important to look beyond the short-term humanitarian needs and consider what should be done to ameliorate the impact of future natural disasters in the Caribbean. He called for better early-warning systems and said countries should be more prepared to respond once a disaster strikes. Mr. Egeland noted that Cuba, for example, suffered relatively little damage from Hurricane Ivan when it struck last month, even though it was a more severe storm than the one that lashed Haiti.He described the situation in northern Haiti as a “social and environmental catastrophe: there are no trees left that can hold [the] water and mudslides back that caused the catastrophe.”The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (known by its French acronym of MINUSTAH), which is trying to expedite the number of deployed troops so that it can help with relief efforts, now has 3,089 peacekeepers on the ground.In Gonaïves, the worst-affected city, contingents of troops from Argentina and Uruguay are providing medical assistance and escorting convoys of trucks carrying food and water, MINUSTAH reported.Meanwhile, in Grenada a survey by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) has shown that half of the nation’s estimated 110,000 citizens are homeless and in need of basic supplies.The survey also indicates the devastation caused to Grenada’s tourism industry, its biggest foreign exchange earner, ahead of the normally profitable winter holiday season. read more

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