April 19, 2009

Advocates hope new female condom will help fight STDs

A new model of female condom that is less expensive and more user-friendly is being promoted by advocates who hope it will vastly expand its role in the global fight against AIDS and other sexually transmitting diseases.

An early version of the female condom was introduced in 1993, and it remains the only available woman-initiated form of protection against boths STDs and unintended pregnancy, the Minnesota Daily reported.

The new model produced by the Chicago-based Female Health Co., called the FC2, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration last month.

About 35 million female condoms were distributed worldwide last year, far less than the 10 billion male condoms that were distributed, which are far cheaper and initially easier to use.

However, in some nations with high HIV rates, many men refuse to wear condoms.

The FC2 is made from synthetic rubber rather than polyurethane, like its predecessor, and costs one-third less.

The FC2 also is less noisy during use, Mary Ann Leeper, the strategic advisor of Female Health Co., said. She said that complaints of squeaky noises were among the factors that slowed acceptance of the original version.

Female condoms require careful instruction to be used properly, and advocates are providing training programs to teach women about the device.

Bidia Deperthes, the U.N. Population Fund's HIV technical advisor for condoms, said that even though the mindset is changing, but accessibility os still minimal. The demand is growing, but the Population Fund is unable to meet it.

MNDaily -

April 5, 2009

Two gay men found dead in Iraqi slum

The bodies of two hay men were found in a Shitte slum after a leading cleric repeatedly condemned homosexuality, an Iraqi police official said Saturday.

According to, Shiite cleric Sattar al-Battat repeatedly condemned homosexuality during recent Friday prayers. He said that Islam prohibits homosexuality.

Homosexual acts are punishable in Iraq, and can result in up to seven years in prison.

Police suspect that the men were killing Thursday by their relatives because no one has claimed the bodies or called for an investigation. Homosexuality is considered shameful to the family.

An anonymous official said that the killings came weeks after police found four bodies buried in late March near Sadr City. The bodies had th words “pervert” and “puppies” written on their chests.

Puppy is a derogatory word used by residents to refer to homosexuals, the official said.

Thanks to the Mahdi Army militia cease fire, homosexuals have become less afraid to declare their tendencies, the official said.

March 29, 2009

22 dead after soccer stampede

At least 22 are dead and 132 are injured after a stampede at a World Cup qualifying soccer match in the Ivory Coast on Sunday.

Interior Minister Desire Tagro said thats fans pushed against each other to get into the arena shortly before the game between Ivory Coast and Malami. The pushing started a panic that led to the stampede.

The Star Tribune reported that an Associated Press photographer said people were shoving each other 40 minutes before the game started. Police fired tear gas into one section of the crowd.

Reporter Ollo Kambire said that a wall collapsed from the force of the shoving crowds and people started to fall, causing panic and a stampede.

This is not the first stampede at a crowded African stadium. Security forces and badly equipped and greatly outnumbered, the Star Tribune reported.

February 22, 2009

China coal mine explodes

At least 74 miners are dead after a gas explosion occurred in a Chinese coal mine on Sunday, said.

The explosion injured at least 113 workers and trapped dozens of others, the Minnesota Daily said.

All the miners who had been trapped were found by late Sunday, the official Xinhua News Agency said. It was not clear if all the bodies had been recovered.

Four-hundred-thirty-six workers were in the Tunlan Coal Mine in Gujiao city when the blast occurred, Xinhua said.

China's mines are the world's most dangerous with more than 3,000 deaths a year in fires, floods and explosions.

The cause of the explosion is being investigated.

February 15, 2009

Zimbabwe minister accused of terrorism

Roy Bennett, the former Zimbabwean opposition activist, has been charged with conspiracy to commit banditry, sabotage and terrorism.

Bennett was pulled from an aircraft and arrested Friday shortly before he was due to take his oath of office and become deputy minister of agriculture, said.

Bennett's lawyer, Trust Maanda, said police claimed his client had been involved in funding for arms and explosives to commit the crimes he is charged with. Police claimed that the weapons would be used to sabotage essential services, TimesOnline said.

TimesOnline said Bennett denied the charges and believes that they are politically motivated.

The Movement for Democratic Change nominated Bennett to be a minister in a national unity government with President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.

There has been conflict between Bennett and Mugabe's government in the past. Benntett's farms were seized during the country's controversial land reform program and served jail-time for assaulting Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa in parliament.

February 8, 2009

Recycling of toxic ship will create much-needed jobs

A ship constructed with toxic substances is due to arrive in northeast England for recycling Sunday after being turned away from at least three other countries.

The British ship recycling company, Able Ship Recycling, had to apply for special permission from the country's Environmental Agency and Health and Safety Executive to process the ship.

Scrapping the aircraft carrier will create about 200 jobs at the company's Teesside Environmental Reclamation and Recycling Centre.

Able chairman and chief executive Peter Stephenson said the contract was “crucially important... at a time when there are so many economic problems facing the world – and especially a region such as the north-east of England.?

The French Navy has spent years searching for a site that would deconstruct the former aircraft carrier Clemenceau, known now as Q790, said.

Greenpeace activists boarded the ship in 2006 to prevent it from being sent to India and scrapped. The environmental group said that the ship contained “high levels of asbestos and other hazardous materials?.

Then-President Jacques Chirac of France recalled the ship after the country's Council of State ruled its export could violate European law and Greenpeace declared “victory?, the group said.

The ship had previously been rejected Turkey and Greece after the original plan to use the ship to create an artifici

February 1, 2009

Iceland Appoints Openly Gay Woman Minister to Serve as Interim Prime Minister

Johanna Sigurdardottir was sworn in as Iceland's prime minister Sunday, becoming the world's first openly gay premier and the first woman prime minister in Iceland.

Sigurdardottir, 66, takes office less than a week after the country's Cabinet resigned amid fallout from the country's financial collapse after huge debts amassed during years of rapid economic growth in Iceland.

“Now we need a strong government that works with the people,? Sigurdardottir said.

Both parties forming Iceland's new coalition government support her appointment.

Sigurdardottir is a former flight attendant who made her way into politics via the union movement. She was minister of social affairs and social security in the former Cabinet, which resigned Monday.

Polling company Capacent Gallup said Sigurdardottir was Iceland's most popular politician in November, with an approval rating of 73 percent. She was the only minister who's approval rating improve on the previous year, said Capacent Gallup. reports that Sigurdardottir lists Jonina Leosdottir, 54, an author and playwright, as her spouse on her ministry Web site. She has two children from a previous marriage.

Sigurdardottir's time as prime minister may be short-lived because the government she is forming is only due to last until the next elections, which must take place in May and could be held in April.

Information also obtained from:
The Star Tribune