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  • John Dawin created a new blog post
    Cure for HIV around the corner as study finds hidden whereabouts of latent virus
    A new study has revealed that latent HIV may stay hidden in "quiet" immune cells, suggesting it may become possible to cure and not just con...
  • Boko Haram: Nigeria's military repels fresh militant attack on key city Maiduguri
    Nigeria's military has repelled a Boko Haram assault on the key city of Maiduguri as violence raged across the country's north-east just two weeks before national elections.

    The hours-long attack on the strategic capital of Borno state was the Islamists' second attempt to take Maiduguri in a week.

    As government forces were holding off Boko Haram in Maiduguri, the airforce of neighbouring Chad was pounding the militants' positions in Gamboru, a town on Nigeria's border with Cameroon 140 kilometres to the north-east.

    With near-relentless violence plaguing much of the northeast, and Boko Haram still in control of large swathes of the region, fears are mounting over the prospect of organising polls on February 14.

    The opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), which claims to be gaining momentum in the campaign against president Goodluck Jonathan, has rejected calls for the vote to be postponed.

    But hundreds of thousands of voters in the north-east, an APC stronghold, could be disenfranchised by the unrest if the election goes ahead in two weeks.
    Heavily-armed gunmen attacked the southern edge of Maiduguri at roughly 3:00 am (local time), setting off explosives as they tried to enter the city, several residents said.

    Repelled in the south by troops backed by vigilantes, they regrouped and tried to take the city from the east, where they again met stiff resistance.

    "The whole city is in fear," resident Adam Krenuwa said.

    "People are afraid of what will happen if Boko Haram defeats the security forces."

    Defence ministry spokesman Chris Olukolade said the assault on the town, where the extremist group was founded more than a decade ago, was "contained" and that "the terrorists incurred massive casualties".

    "The situation is calm as mopping up operation in the affected area is ongoing," he wrote in a text message, a claim consistent with witness reports.

    Despite being under fire in recent months, Maiduguri has become a place of refuge for people forced to flee other areas in Borno that have been taken over by the Islamist rebels.

    In other attacks in the north-east on Sunday, a suicide bomber killed seven people in Potiskum, the economic capital of Yobe state, while two blasts killed five people in Gombe city to the south.

    The bomber in Potiskum blew himself up shortly after midday outside the home of Sabo Garbu, who is running for a seat in the lower house of parliament on behalf of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP).
    Seven people died in the blast and seven others were injured, a police officer at the scene who requested anonymity said in an account supported by three witnesses.

    Mr Garbu and those attending his campaign meeting reportedly escaped unhurt.

    It was not immediately clear if the attack was the work of Boko Haram.

    Boko Haram, fighting to create a hardline Islamic state, has carried out dozens of bombings throughout its six-year uprising, which has claimed more than 13,000 lives.

    Fearing the collapse of government control in areas controlled by the Islamists along their borders, Nigeria's neighbours have rallied to the fight against Boko Haram.

    UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday backed an African Union proposal for a 7,500-strong regional taskforce.

    Chad has already sent troops and aircraft to help repel cross-border Boko Haram incursions.

    Election officials have insisted Nigeria's vote will go ahead on February 14, but concede that voting will be impossible across much of the north-east.

    Foreign observers have said that they will not even attempt to monitor polling in the region because of the unrest.

    Mr Jonathan, who is facing a stiff challenge from former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, has repeatedly tried to assure Nigerians that Boko Haram could be contained.

    But those promises have consistently proved hollow, with the violence having escalated each year under his watch and his management of the crisis being fiercely criticised, including during the presidential campaign.

    The APC's Buhari, a former army general who briefly led the country in the mid-1980s, has told voters that he will be able to curb the bloodshed but has so far not released a specific plan to deal with Boko Haram.
    Boko Haram: Nigeria's military repels fresh militant attack on key city Maiduguri
    Nigeria's military has repelled a Boko Haram assault on the key city of Maiduguri as violence raged across the country's north-east just two weeks before national elections.

    The hours-long attack ...See more
  • Ivory Coast vs Algeria 3-1 All Goals & Highlights
    Ivory Coast vs Algeria 3-1 All Goals & Highlights Algeria vs Ivory Coast 1-3
  • Super Sunday highlights: How Modi, Sonia and Kejriwal spiced up Delhi poll campaigns
    The last Sunday before the election campaign comes to an end proved to be a very busy one for all three major political parties in Delhi.

    Delhiites saw 95 rallies all across the city in one day as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal took on each other.

    Here's a flashback of who said what and how the day unfolded:

    ‘Congress, AAP struck a secret pact’

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged Delhi's voters to give him an opportunity to "walk hand in hand" with them, minutes after Congress chief Sonia Gandhi accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of practising "politics of hatred".

    Modi played the ‘local’ card in his nearly hour-long speech at a rally in west Delhi’s Dwarka. From calling himself the original ‘Dwarka resident’ (referring to Gujarat’s Dwarka) and a Purvanchali (he’s an MP from Varanasi), Modi promised to end water woes in the largely-residential area.

    Targeting the Congress and the AAP, the PM said both were hand-in-glove. “The two parties... forged a friendship behind curtains. But as soon as (fresh) elections were declared, they started competing...Who can make more false promises is the competition.”

    Modi also alleged that the AAP and the Congress were irresponsible and could not be trusted with power.

    "Governments who believe in dharnas just want time on TV," said Modi, referring to AAP leader Kejriwal's 49-day tenure as Delhi chief minister last year.

    "I want to take Delhi to new heights. Delhi is symbolic of India's pride and prestige," he said. "Give me an opportunity to walk hand in hand with the people and take the nation to new heights."

    ‘BJP for publicity, Kejriwal for protests’

    Congress chief Sonia Gandhi launched a scathing attack on both Modi and Kejriwal, accusing the BJP and the AAP of making false promises as she addressed her first election rally in the Capital.

    “While one party has a pracharak, who only does prachar (publicity), the other just has a dharnebaaj, who is busy holding dharnas,” she said, addressing a crowd of more than 10,000 in south Delhi’s Badarpur.

    Gandhi said the Congress had supported the AAP government to make Delhi a better place, “... but they fled.”

    She also accused the Modi government of “weakening” UPA’s welfare measures.

    "You must remember the huge promises made to you by BJP before election. Where is the black money they promised to bring back? Where is employment? Has inflation been curbed?"

    "We introduced land acquisition act so that land of people cannot be acquired by inappropriate means. We took many steps to empower poor of the nation, but today the Modi government is weakening these acts to take away power from poor," said Gandhi.

    The Congress president also accused the BJP of inciting communal violence in the national capital. She asked people to defeat those doing "politics of hatred" while referring to the Trilokpuri riots and church attacks in Dilshad Garden and Vikaspuri.

    ‘My dharnas are for common people’

    AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal said he held sit-ins not for personal interests but out of concern for the people of Delhi, taking on both the Congress and the BJP.

    Battling the tag of “runaway CM”, Kejriwal sought to reassure voters as he spoke at three poll rallies in the Capital. “I have learnt my lesson. I will not quit again. In the 49 days that we were in power… jo kaha vo kiya (we did what we promised),” he said in Shastri Nagar.

    The former Delhi CM took on PM Modi, accusing his government of failing to check crime against women.

    Numbers game

    While the BJP topped the chart with 37 rallies in a day, Congress leaders addressed another 33. The AAP had 25 rallies scheduled for Sunday.

    BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi alone addressed five rallies. AAP’s Kejriwal addressed his usual three jan sabhas in a day. Congress’ Ajay Maken campaigned in his own constituency, while former Congress MP Raj Babbar addressed five rallies.

    Traffic, even on a Sunday, was thrown out of gear because of the sheer number of political bigwigs flitting from one part of the city to another.

    'Kejriwal only competition'

    Meanwhile, Union finance minister Arun Jaitley said the AAP was the only competition for the BJP in Delhi, and the choice for voters was between "good governance" and "anarchy". He also claimed that Congress will not be able to bag "even a few seats" in the upcoming assembly polls.

    Most analysts see the Delhi elections as a two-way contest between the BJP and the AAP, with price rise and women's safety emerging as key electoral issues. The Congress, however, is also looking to revive its fortunes following a string of defeats last year.

    A Hindustan Times-C fore survey recently showed there would be a neck-and-neck fight between the AAP and the BJP, and a hung assembly was likely again.

    Elections in Delhi will take place on February 7 while the results will be announced on February 10.
    Super Sunday highlights: How Modi, Sonia and Kejriwal spiced up Delhi poll campaigns
    The last Sunday before the election campaign comes to an end proved to be a very busy one for all three major political parties in Delhi.

    Delhiites saw 95 rallies all across the city in one day...See more
  • Simpson created a new blog post
    AirAsia crash: Captain left seat before plane lost control, sources say
    THE captain of the doomed AirAsia plane was reportedly out of his seat when the jet’s copilot lost control, as France has opened a formal criminal inv...
  • Sydney to get new Chinese air connection
    Chinese carrier Xiamen Airlines is poised to launch Boeing 787 flights from Xiamen to Sydney later this year, becoming the first airline from a second-tier Chinese city to take advantage of a major expansion of air capacity between Australia and China.
    Xiamen, like larger Chinese airlines China Southern and China Eastern, is a member of the SkyTeam global airline alliance.
    SkyTeam managing director Michael Wisbrun said Sydney and Amsterdam were among the destinations Xiamen would target with its new 787 "Dreamliners".
    "[Xiamen] are one of the few profitable airlines in China," he said on Friday at the opening of SkyTeam's new 140-seat lounge at Sydney Airport.
    Australia and China last month signed a new bilateral air services agreement that in addition to raising capacity from major hubs such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou for the first time allocated separate capacity for less prominent Chinese cities.
    Chinese carriers had previously reached a capacity cap in peak periods, meaning no new services could be added. In addition, smaller carriers like Sichuan Airlines that did not operate out of major hubs had to compete against state-owned airlines China Southern, China Eastern and Air China to be allocated capacity to Australia.
    Since the new air services deal was signed, Air China has announced it will offer four direct weekly flights from Melbourne to Beijing from June 1.
    Under the agreement, total air capacity between Australia and China will almost triple to 67,000 seats a week by next year.
    Sydney Airport chief executive Kerrie Mather, who recently met with several Chinese carriers during a trip to China, expects that by next year, Chinese arrivals to her airport will overtake those from New Zealand for the first time. Chinese traffic increased by 16.4 per cent at Sydney Airport last year, accounting for half of international passenger growth.
    "There will be an opportunity for traffic growth immediately," she said on Friday. "What was very exciting while we were [in China] was they are also focusing on regional China as well."
    Chinese tourists are the highest spenders among the nationalities that visit Australia, and Sydney Airport has been modifying its facilities to meet the needs of that market including changing food and beverage offerings to better cater for Chinese visitors.
    CLSA analyst Scott Ryall believes Sydney Airport has better leverage to inbound Chinese tourist volumes than any other listed company. International passengers account for around 75 per cent of the airport's earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation and Chinese passengers are disproportionately important to duty-free spending.
    Sydney Airport has launched a new 20-month project that will ensure faster access to gates, better wayfinding, wider walkways, more seating capacity and new retail and food and beverage offerings in its international terminal.
    The changes are taking place in tandem with a switch in duty free operators, which will result in a temporary reduction in floorspace available to retail and food and beverage offerings.
    Sydney to get new Chinese air connection
    Chinese carrier Xiamen Airlines is poised to launch Boeing 787 flights from Xiamen to Sydney later this year, becoming the first airline from a second-tier Chinese city to take advantage of a major expansion of air capacity between Australia and China....See more
  • Egypt deports jailed Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste
    Peter Greste, an Al Jazeera journalist who was detained in Egypt for 400 days, has been deported.
    Sources said that Greste has boarded an Egypt Air flight on Sunday and is being accompanied by his brother. He is stated to be in good health.
    Two other Al Jazeera journalists - Baher Mohamed, a producer, and the channel's Cairo bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy - still remain imprisoned in Egypt.
    Greste's deportation came amid a growing chorus of worldwide condemnation over the detention of the three journalists.
    Al Jazeera Media Network welcomed Greste's release and demanded the release of his colleagues.
    'Good news, but not enough'
    In a statement, Al Jazeera said the campaign to free its journalists in Egypt will not end till all three have been released. It said that all three have to be exonerated, and the convictions against its other journalists tried in absentia also have to be lifted.
    Mostefa Souag, acting Director General of Al Jazeera Media Network said: “We’re pleased for Peter and his family that they are to be reunited. It has been an incredible and unjustifiable ordeal for them, and they have coped with incredible dignity. Peter’s integrity is not just intact, but has been further enhanced by the fortitude and sacrifice he has shown for his profession of informing the public.
    “We will not rest until Baher and Mohamed also regain their freedom. The Egyptian authorities have it in their power to finish this properly today, and that is exactly what they must do."
    The Managing Director of Al Jazeera English, Al Anstey, said he was relieved Greste was freed and on his way home to be reunited with his family, but spoke of the need to free Baher and Mohamed.
    "But we've got to focus that Baher and Mohamed are still behind bars, and seven of their colleagues that were sentenced to ten years in absentia are still sentenced today."
    Greste, Baher and Mohamed had been falsely accused of colluding with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood in a case that sparked international condemnation.
    After their conviction in June last year, the men were sentenced to between seven and ten years in jail. On January 1 this year, Egypt's Court of Cassation overturned the sentences and ordered a retrial, but there is still no indication of what that trial will begin.
    Egypt deports jailed Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste
    Peter Greste, an Al Jazeera journalist who was detained in Egypt for 400 days, has been deported.
    Sources said that Greste has boarded an Egypt Air flight on Sunday and is being accompanied by his brother. He is stated to be in go...See more
  • Inside The Dark Web - Documentary
    Inside The Dark Web - Documentary
  • Moscow library fire destroys rare documents in ‘cultural Chernobyl’
    A FIRE that ripped through one of Russia’s largest university libraries is believed to have damaged more than one million historic documents, with some describing the fire as a cultural “Chernobyl”.

    The blaze, which started on Friday and was still not out yesterday, ravaged 2000sq m of the ­Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences in Moscow, which was created in 1918 and holds 10 million documents with some dating back to the 16th ­century.

    “It’s a major loss for science. This is the largest collection of its kind in the world, probably equivalent to the (US) Library of Congress,” Vladimir Fortov, president of the Russian Academy of Sciences was quoted as saying by Russia press agencies yesterday.

    “One can find documents there that are impossible to find elsewhere, all the social sciences use this library. What has happened here is reminiscent of Chernobyl,” he said referring to the 1986 nuclear catastrophe.

    Mr Fortov said about 15 per cent of the collection had been damaged at the library, which includes one of the world’s richest collections of Slavic language works, but also documents from Britain, Italy and the US.

    Mr Fortov said much of the damage was caused by water.

    No one was injured in the inferno, which broke out on Friday evening, local time, on the second floor and continued burning despite 200 firefighters’ efforts.

    Library authorities initially said the documents were not in danger, but once the fire caused 1000sq m of the roof to collapse, they were less certain about the risk to the collection.

    A rescue service source told state-run RIA Novosti news agency it was impossible to remove books because of the heat.

    Investigators suspect an electrical short-circuit was to blame.
    Moscow library fire destroys rare documents in ‘cultural Chernobyl’
    A FIRE that ripped through one of Russia’s largest university libraries is believed to have damaged more than one million historic documents, with some describing the fire as a cultural “Chernobyl”.

    The blaze, ...See more
  • Greece Will Repay ECB, IMF, Reach Deal With EU, Tsipras Says
    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras sought to repair relations with Greece’s creditors ahead of a diplomatic push to win support for his economic program, as euro area officials said they’re looking for concessions from the new government.
    Greece will repay its debts to the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund and reach a deal “soon” with the euro-area nations that funded most of the country’s financial rescue, Tsipras said in a statement e-mailed to Bloomberg News on Saturday.
    “The deliberation with our European partners has just begun,” Tsipras said. “Despite the fact that there are differences in perspective, I am absolutely confident that we will soon manage to reach a mutually beneficial agreement, both for Greece and for Europe as a whole.”
    Bond yields surged on Friday after Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said the new government will turn its back on the rescue program that allowed Greece to pay pensions and public wages for the past five years in exchange for a punishing regime of spending cuts that wiped out 25 percent of its economy.
    Liquidity Squeeze
    Jeroen Dijsselbloem, chairman of the euro area finance ministers’ group, said he welcomed the prime minister’s comments. Their divisions had been laid bare during a meeting in Athens on Friday.
    “It is now up to the Greek government to determine its position on how to move forward,” Dijsselbloem said in a text message. “Further decisions will be taken jointly in the Eurogroup in the coming weeks.”
    The danger for Tsipras, who took won power in a Jan. 25 election, is that both the country’s banks and the government could be left without funding. Ending the bailout program could see Greek banks effectively excluded from ECB liquidity operations and the government is still shut out of international markets. Former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said last month the government may run short of financing as early as March.
    “Europe will continue to show solidarity with Greece, as well as other countries particularly affected by the crisis, if these countries undertake their own reforms and savings efforts,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in an interview with Hamburger Abendblatt.
    Damage Control
    At the moment, Greece has a special dispensation from the ECB because it’s considered to be complying with the bailout program. That means its debt can be used in central bank refinancing operations even though it is rated junk.
    “There will be no surprises if we find out that a country is below that rating and there’s no longer a program that that waiver disappears,” ECB Vice President Vitor Constancio said at an event in Cambridge, England, on Saturday.
    Greek bonds tumbled on Friday, with the yield on three-year government debt rising 187 basis points to 19.15 percent, the highest level since the 2012 debt restructuring. Ten-year yields posted their biggest weekly increase since May that year and bank stocks have dropped 38 percent since the election, their biggest weekly decline in almost two years.
    Tsipras’s Plan
    While euro area officials want Greece to stick to the austerity set out in its bailout agreement, Tsipras is asking governments in the rest of the bloc to accept a writedown on Greece’s debt to allow him to pursue an alternative program with more public spending to revive the economy.
    “We need time to breathe and create our own medium-term recovery program, which amongst other things will incorporate the targets of primary balanced budgets and radical reforms to address the issues of tax evasion, corruption and clientelistic policies,” he said.
    The government started to roll back the austerity program last week. Tsipras asked for the resignation of Emmanuel Kondylis, chairman of the fund overseeing the country’s privatization program, and Paschalis Bouhoris, the chief executive officer, a spokeswoman for the fund said late Friday.
    A press officer for the Spanish government said Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s position that Greece must honor its commitments remains unchanged. The Italian government welcomed Tsipras’s conciliatory tone.
    “This statement is not just important per se, but especially because it is complemented by the renewed assurance that a specific effort to address structural problems by the new Greek government is undertaken,” Filippo Taddei, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s economic adviser, said in an e-mail.
    European Tour
    Tsipras’s diplomatic effort continues next week when he travels to Cyprus on Monday to meet President Nicos Anastasiades before talks with Renzi and France’s Francois Hollande on the following days. He’s so far not scheduled to meet Merkel, the biggest contributor to Greece’s bailout, until the European Union summit in Brussels on Feb. 12.
    Dijsselbloem said that his meetings with Tsipras and Varoufakis in Athens on Friday had been “constructive.”
    “In diplomatic parlance, they say that talks were constructive and honest when they have ended in disagreement,” European Parliament President Martin Schulz said after his own meeting with Tsipras the day before.
    Greece Will Repay ECB, IMF, Reach Deal With EU, Tsipras Says
    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras sought to repair relations with Greece’s creditors ahead of a diplomatic push to win support for his economic program, as euro area officials said they’re looking for concessions from the new government...See more
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