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February 25, 2014

Researchers identify protein responsible for malaria transmission

Researchers identify protein responsible for malaria transmission

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

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Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes.

Two groups of researchers have independently identified the the protein responsible for malaria transmission to mosquitoes in studies published in journal Nature on Sunday.

The scientists found a direct relationship between the protein AP2-G’s with malaria gametocytes (male and female sexual forms) production, which is necessary for the transmission. Only the sexual forms infect mosquitoes and sexual reproduction occurs within the mosquito digestive tract.

Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites. The initially separate teams looked at different plasmodium species. One, an international group led by Manuel Llinás of Penn State University in the US, examined Plasmodium falciparum, which is responsible for the worst form of human malarial infections; the other, led by UK scientists Oliver Billker from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in England and Andy Waters from University of Glasgow in Scotland, looked at Plasmodium berghei, which infects rodents.

The P. falciparum group was kickstarted by research in Spain which found different organisms from the same strain with identical DNA had varying levels of AP2-G, with a strong correlation to their levels of sexual activity. The more AP2-G, the higher the rate of gametocyte formation. Researchers in England, later also drawn into the international team, analyzed the genomes of two mutated strains of P. falciparum which were both unable to form gametocytes. They found that the gene responsible for producing the AP2-G protein was the only common non-functioning gene.

The international team found found the AP2-G protein catalyzes the transmission by activating a relevant gene set in the parasite.

Women tend to their malaria-infected babies in Angola.
Image: USAID Africa.

Both teams confirmed the finding by gene therapy — both by adding the gene into a mutated strain and observing its ability to form gametocytes, and the other way round.

The parasites exist in a mosquito, then in a human, and require subsequent transmission for the parasite to spread. The transmission can only happen through gametocytes. The parasite triggers formation of the sexual gametocytes into the human’s circulatory system every two days in small quantities — not wasting energy on the process at the dry time of year when few mosquitoes are available — but little was known about the mechanism.

Dr. Oliver Billker commented on the potential of getting the transmission of malaria under control, unlike the existing focus on addressing the phrase causing the clinical symptoms, “Current drugs treat patients by killing the sexless form of the parasite in their blood — this is the detrimental stage of the malaria lifecycle that causes illness. However, it is now widely accepted that to eliminate malaria from an entire region, it will be equally important to kill the sexual forms that transmit the disease.”

The researchers hope to continue research toward drugs to prevent the transmission of the disease. The science was funded by groups including UK research councils, the Spanish government, the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and the European Commission.



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July 12, 2013

Moldovan premier invites Romanian counterpart to pipeline start

Moldovan premier invites Romanian counterpart to pipeline start

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Friday, July 12, 2013

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Moldovan premier Iurie Leancă
Image: Estonian Foeign Ministry.

During an official visit to Romania on Tuesday, Moldovan premier Iurie Leancă invited his Romanian counterpart, Victor Ponta, to attend Moldovan Independence Day on August 27. On that occasion, the two neighbouring countries are to start building a cross-border gas pipeline between cities Iași, Romania, and Ungheni, Moldova.

European Union (EU) commissioner for energy Günther Oettinger is also expected to attend the meeting. The Moldovan premier seeks support for EU visa facilitation for Moldovan citizens as well as economic and energy ties with the EU. Russian energy minister Aleksandr Novak declared in September 2012 that the Russian Federation agrees to lower gas prices for Moldova only if the ex-soviet republic denounces the Energy Community of South East Europe between the EU and eight non-EU countries including Moldova.

Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe. The latest Transparency International report on global corruption says Moldovan citizens report the second most widespread bribery of a European country. Moldovan politicians often accuse each other of being either under the influence of Russia — the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova; or under the influence of Romania and the EU — the Alliance for European Integration, the current government coalition. Russia maintains a motorized infantry battalion and some ammunition depots from the soviet era in Moldova’s breakaway Transdnestr region; Russian vice-premier Dmitry Rogozin said earlier this year Russia would continue these until the status of the region is settled. This situation has persisted for some time; in the OSCE Summit Declaration of Istanbul of 1999, Russia was to pull its troops out of Transnistria by the end of 2002.

Moldova also hopes to sign the European Union Association Agreement by the end of 2013.



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February 23, 2013

European Commission warns Eurozone economy to shrink further

European Commission warns Eurozone economy to shrink further

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

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The European Commission has warned that the Eurozone economy will remain in recession for longer than expected and will not return to growth until 2014, reversing its previous forecast. In its winter forecast, the European Commission stated the economy of the Eurozone, which consists of 17 countries, is projected to shrink by 0.3% this year. This comes after a 0.6% contraction last year and marks a reversal from the committee’s previous prediction of 0.1% growth in 2013.

Unemployment in the Eurozone is set to reach 12.2% in 2013, an increase from the 2012 level of 11.4%. Olli Rehn, the European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, said that “decisive policy action undertaken recently is paving the way for a return to recovery”. He went on to say: “We must stay the course of reform and avoid any loss of momentum, which could undermine the turnaround in confidence that is underway, delaying the needed upswing in growth and job creation.”

The International Monetary Fund stated in January they expected the group of countries to experience a “mild recession” throughout 2013. The extended recession will see millions of people lose their jobs, the European Commision said, with the level of people unemployed across the region expected to continue to rise. The rise in unemployment could reach over 20 million across the Eurozone as the recession persists.



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November 7, 2012

World leaders react to Obama win

World leaders react to Obama win – Wikinews, the free news source

World leaders react to Obama win

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Barack Obama
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Leaders from around the world have congratulated re-elected U.S. President Barack Obama on his success at the ballot box.

Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu stated that he “will continue to work with President Obama to preserve the strategic interests of Israel’s citizens” and described relations between the U.S. and Israel as “rock solid”. Some others within the ruling Likud party were not so optimistic about the relationship, with Knesset member Danny Danon criticising Obama for “ill-advised” policies towards Israel and hoping Obama “resets his course relating to Israel and our region for the next four years”.

A statement on behalf of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas expressed hope that Obama “continues his efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East“.

The British Prime Minister David Cameron took time from his tour of the Middle East to congratulate Obama and listed as shared priorities a trade deal between the U.S. and the United Kingdom as well as solving the crisis in Syria. Ed Miliband, leader of the opposition Labour Party, stated on Twitter that Obama’s success in the election was “based on building fairer economy and optimism about what politics can achieve.”

French leader François Hollande said in choosing Obama over Mitt Romney, voters in the United States had voted for “an America of openness and solidarity, fully engaged on the international scene and conscious of the challenges facing our planet: peace, economy and the environment”. He listed economic growth, unemployment, and the Middle East as challenges the two politicians would have to face. German leader Angela Merkel stated she “deeply appreciated” meetings and conversations with Obama on issues including “overcoming the global financial and economic crisis”.

Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, issued a joint statement which described the U.S. as “a key strategic partner of the European Union” and hoped to meet Obama “at an early date in order to reconfirm our priorities and provide renewed impetus to our joint action”.

Across Africa, Obama received congratulations from South African President Jacob Zuma, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, and Raila Odinga, the Prime Minister of Kenya.



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June 25, 2012

Cyprus seeks EU bailout

Cyprus seeks EU bailout – Wikinews, the free news source

Cyprus seeks EU bailout

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Monday, June 25, 2012

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Cyprus today became the fifth member state to seek access to funds from the European Union’s bailout fund. The Cypriots join Spain, Ireland, Portugal, and neighbours Greece.

The move was triggered after the Cyprus Popular Bank, the nation’s second-largest bank, asked the government for recapitalisation. The bank has been hit hard, as has the wider Cypriot banking sector, by exposure to Greek economics. A Greek restructure of 200 billion in debt has caused the bank a €3.65 billion loss, and money is being lost on loans domestically and to Greek customers.

Christofias meeting with Dmitry Medvedev of Russia in 2008. Russia has lent Cyprus money before and may do so again to alleviate the island nation’s problems.

Cyprus Popular Bank chairman Michalis Sarris today revealed talks are also underway with China about a possible loan. Low taxes and regulation have attracted large amounts of foreign money to Cyprus, including much Russian money, producing a banking sector far larger than most nations that size. Russia and China are both viewed by officials as possibilities to seek loans from, and Russia last year agreed to a €2.5 billion loan to allow Cypriot financial restructuring.

The bailout request comes within days of Cypriot president Demetris Christofias giving an interview to Greek newspaper To Vima in which the EU’s only communist leader criticised international bailout policies. He complained the European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund acted like a “colonial force” by forcing nations receiving bailouts to agree to austerity measures.

Cyprus, due to take over the rotating EU presidency this week, hopes to limit the scope of its bailout to the banking sector. This is similar to Spain, and unlike the other bailed-out nations. Ratings agency Fitch today relegated Cyprus to “junk”, a reflection of how much money may be required.

“The purpose of the required assistance is to contain the risks to the Cypriot economy, notably those arising from the negative spillover effects through its financial sector, due to its large exposure in the Greek economy,” read a government statement. Former President George Vasiliou, an economist, recently claimed markets were failing to recognise the differences between Greece and Cyprus: “Cyprus’s problems are the result of a Greek tragedy, and the ratings agencies are not distinguishing between Greek-speaking people, whether we are in Athens or Nicosia“.

Cyprus has recently discovered large natural gas fields, and unemployment at 10% is below the likes of Greece (22%) and Spain (24%). Cypriot officials predict a growth in the economy, although the International Monetary Fund expects a contraction. There are also concerns a Greek withdrawal from the euro would damage confidence in investors, but Vasiliou predicts “if Greece has to exit the euro, it will not be the end of Cyprus.”



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May 9, 2012

Former Ukraine PM Yulia Tymoshenko to end hunger strike, daughter announces

Former Ukraine PM Yulia Tymoshenko to end hunger strike, daughter announces

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

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Yevgenia Tymoshenko has announced her mother, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, is to end her hunger strike after nineteen days. Yulia’s lawyer, Serhiy Vlasenko, cited “what is happening in the country and what is happening to her in prison” as reasons for her commencing her fast.

Cquote1.svg Ukraine may simply never have fair elections again Cquote2.svg

Yulia Tymoshenko, former Prime Minister of Ukraine

The politician is serving a seven-year sentence for abuse of office arising from a gas deal with Russia while she was Prime Minister. She has accused jail guards of assaulting her while transporting her to a hospital against her will to get treatment for back pain which she has reportedly been experiencing for months. In the incident, Vlasenko said Tymoshenko “naturally got scared, began resisting, after which she received a punch in the stomach and passed out”, referring to a bruise which remains present on her body.

Adherents of Tymoshenko have publicised pictures showing bruising on the politician’s body. Corrections officers have refuted claims of their responsibility. Kharkiv regional prosecutor, Henadiy Tyurin, confirmed “she was picked up, carried to the car and taken to the hospital” but insisted: “According to the law … the prison service has the right to use physical measures”.

Tymoshenko was scheduled to appear in a fresh trial for a tax evasion charge the day before she was taken to hospital. In theory, the hearing could have her imprisonment extended to the year 2023. The trial has been postponed to May 21. She does not accept she broke the law as the boss of a Ukrainian gas company in the 1990s.

Tymoshenko has refused to accept medical treatment from Ukrainian doctors for her back problems, but has been given permission to travel from her current prison in Kharkiv to a hospital in the same city yesterday. There she is to be assisted by German doctor Lutz Harms, who is to “begin bringing [her] out of her hunger strike”, Yevgenia explained. At the time of her going on hunger strike, Vlasenko spoke of Tymoshenko not having the ability to leave her own bed.

Yevgenia described how her mother “appears to have lost 10kg [22 lbs, her temperature has dropped significantly and she may pass out any minute now”. Due to the hunger strike, it was considered “impossible to start treatment immediately”, she said.

In the hours prior to this announcement, the Ukrainian government postponed a European summit scheduled for May 11–12 in the city of Yalta due to what the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs described as a “connection with the fact that a number of European leaders [being] unable to take part in the Yalta summit for different reasons”. At least ten leaders, including the presidents of the Czech Republic, Romania, Austria and Germany, reportedly reversed their decisions to appear at the summit in relation to the treatment of Tymoshenko.

Ukrainian UEFA Euro 2012 matches scheduled for June may also be boycotted by leaders, according to BBC News Online. The European Commission has stated its commissioners will refuse to attend Ukraine-hosted Euro 2012 matches. The German government has clarified that what happens to Tymoshenko will influence whether or not its representatives will appear at the matches.

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Tymoshenko denies abuse of office charges, believing them to be part of a campaign by President Viktor Yanukovych to prohibit her from politics. The European Union and the United States strongly criticised the conviction as they believed it is politically influenced.

In the 2010 presidential elections, she was narrowly beaten by Yanukovych. Tymoshenko was also the leader of the Orange Revolution, which removed power from Yanukovych after he won the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election amid electoral fraud.

In a letter, Tymoshenko appealed to Europe to persist in pressuring Yanukovych because Ukrainian citizens “cannot fight [Yanukovych’s government] on their own” and “Ukraine may simply never have fair elections again”, she claimed. She had earlier spoke of her belief that Yanukovych was vengeful.

File photo of Yulia Tymoshenko, taken on February 7, 2009. Image: Munich Conference on Security Policy.

File photo of Yulia Tymoshenko, taken on February 7, 2009.
Image: Munich Conference on Security Policy.

File photo of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, taken on June 17, 2011. Image: Pavol Frešo.

File photo of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, taken on June 17, 2011.
Image: Pavol Frešo.

Map of Ukraine highlighting Kharkiv. Image: Skluesener.

Map of Ukraine highlighting Kharkiv.
Image: Skluesener.

Tymoshenko, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev meeting on January 17, 2009 during the 2009 Russia–Ukraine gas dispute. Image: Presidential Administration of Russia.

Tymoshenko, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev meeting on January 17, 2009 during the 2009 Russia–Ukraine gas dispute.
Image: Presidential Administration of Russia.

Image of Orange Revolution, headed by Tymoshenko, taken on November 22, 2004. Image: Serhiy.

Image of Orange Revolution, headed by Tymoshenko, taken on November 22, 2004.
Image: Serhiy.

Related news

  • Former Ukranian PM Yulia Tymoshenko goes on hunger strike” — Wikinews, April 25, 2012
  • “Former Ukrainian PM Yulia Tymoshenko arrested on contempt of court charges” — Wikinews, August 12, 2011
  • “Ukraine presidential election headed for runoff” — Wikinews, January 18, 2010

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March 31, 2012

European Commission clears British Airways owner IAG to buy bmi from Lufthansa

European Commission clears British Airways owner IAG to buy bmi from Lufthansa

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Saturday, March 31, 2012

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The European Commission (EC) has approved yesterday a takeover of loss-making UK airline bmi from Lufthansa by International Airlines Group (IAG), owner of British Airways (BA). IAG will have to make concessions after Virgin Atlantic told the EC the deal would be anti-competitive.

A bmi Boeing 737 at Edinburgh Airport. Rival Virgin had claimed the sale would give BA excessive dominance in Scotland.

The deal is set to cost IAG, who also own Iberia, £172.5 million. That value could fall as budget subsidiary bmibaby may be retained by Lufthansa or sold elsewhere, and IAG are reported to be primarily interested in the main bmi business. A regional subsidiary also exists.

IAG intends to use acquired slots at the busy Heathrow Airport, which serves London, to expand their own routes into Asia. The EC required IAG to surrender a number of flight slots at the airport. The slots surrendered or made available for lease are for use to destinations in Scotland, France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Russia. The EC also insisted that combined BA/bmi routing be made available for competitors to buy transfer seats upon.

Lufthansa intended to shut down bmi had the bid failed. The transaction is presently scheduled for completion April 20.

IAG boss Willie Walsh called the sale “great news for Britain” with results that are “good for UK business and UK consumers.” Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson had previously said the move would give BA excessive dominance on Scottish flights. More Heathrow slots earmarked for Scotland have been given up than any other destination.

Ryanair took the opportunity to claim only their own takeover bid for Aer Lingus has been a major EC casualty. “Today’s rubber-stamping of BA’s purchase of bmi shows yet again that the EC has one rule for Europe’s flag-carriers, but different rules for Ryanair”, said Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary.



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January 28, 2012

Wikinews Shorts: January 28, 2012

Wikinews Shorts: January 28, 2012 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: January 28, 2012

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A compilation of brief news reports for Saturday, January 28, 2012.

If you believe any of these stories deserves more in-depth coverage, feel free to write a full article on the issues raised.

EU official resigns over anti-piracy treaty

Rapporteur to the European Parliament Kader Arif has resigned yesterday in protest over the signing of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) by 22 members of the European Union on Thursday. He said “I will not participate in this masquerade.”

Reaction to the signing treaty, which has still to be ratified, was strong in Poland; thousands protested in Poznan and Lublin, and in the Polish Parliament members of the Palikot’s Movement donned Guy Fawkes masks in protest.

The European Commission website maintains that “Anything you can do legally today is still legal after the ratification of ACTA.”



French troops to end Afghan combat role a year early in 2013

Speaking yesterday after a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced France will end its Afghan combat missions in 2013 — a year earlier than planned.

Following the death of four French soldiers at the hands of an Afghan soldier last week, Sarkozy had threatened early withdrawal of French troops.



United States and Philippines discuss enhanced defense cooperation

The United States and the Philippines are discussing the possibility of enhanced defense cooperation, according to officials of both countries. However, there are no plans for bases along the lines of the former United States bases at Subic Bay and Clark Air Base.

The talks come in the context of a shift of United States strategic focus toward Asia, and Chinese claims in the South China Sea.





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November 19, 2011

EU increases 2012 budget by two per cent

EU increases 2012 budget by two per cent

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

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The European Union budget for 2012 has been increased by two per cent, despite European authorities targeting a budget increase of approximately five per cent for next year. The budget will now stand at 129,000,000,000 (US$174,000,000,000 or £110,000,000,000).

Negotiators at the EU reached this decision after fifteen hours of discussions on the matter. The European Commission had wished for a budget increase of 4.9% for 2012. At the same time, the European Parliament was aiming to achieve an increase of 5.2%. Such targets were objected to by the governments of various EU member countries; they were considered “unrealistic”.

Cquote1.svg We have stopped the … inflation-busting proposals and have delivered on the [UK] government’s promise to freeze the EU budget in real terms Cquote2.svg

Mark Hoban, UK Financial Secretary to the Treasury

The UK government welcomed the result, describing it as “excellent”. British Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mark Hoban explained: “We have stopped the European Commission and European Parliament’s inflation-busting proposals and have delivered on the government’s promise to freeze the EU budget in real terms”. One argument the British government has maintained for objecting to the European Commission and European Parliament’s requests is, “with member states facing tough decisions on spending at home, we could not afford these unrealistic demands”, according to Hoban.

Janusz Lewandowski, EU Budget Commissioner, has described the outcome as “clearly an austerity budget” and has expressed concern about the “serious risk that the European Commission will run out of funds in the course of next year, and will therefore not be able to honour all its financial obligations towards beneficiaries of EU funds”.

Now, concern should be given towards the discussions about the long-term budget of the EU between the years 2014 and 2020, Hoban believes. BBC News Online has reported that the British government is anticipated to reject proposals from the European Commission to raise the long-term budget by five per cent. According to the Press Association, the Commission wants to increase the budget by eleven per cent in comparison to the seven years prior.



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November 30, 2010

European Commission to investigate anti-competitive allegations against Google

European Commission to investigate anti-competitive allegations against Google

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

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The European Union’s executive body, the European Commission, has started investigating web search giant Google over anti-trust allegations by price comparison service Foundem and French legal services website ejustice.fr. At stake are allegations that Google’s AdWords results are manipulated to prioritise certain advertisers.

The complainants allege price comparison sites receive a lower ‘quality score’, thus being knocked out of fully automated, unpaid-for results; or, being required to pay more for advertising through the search giant’s AdWords program. Google rejects Foundem’s allegations, arguing the majority of content on price comparison sites is duplicated from other sites, asserting Foundem “duplicates 79% of its website content from other sites, thus adding no value.” The company line is, “[w]e have consistently informed webmasters that our algorithms disadvantage duplicate sites”.

The European Commission has a history of carrying out anti-trust investigations involving technology companies. Microsoft was ordered to pay substantial penalties for ‘bundling’ Windows with their Media Player; and, within the EU, must distribute a version of Windows that does not have said bundled software. A similar battle was fought over the automatic inclusion of Internet Explorer with their operating systems.

Google has previously been the subject of anti-trust allegations and investigations. United States authorities blocked Google from buying Yahoo!, citing concerns over a near-monopoly in search; Google’s purchase of mobile advertising company AdMob was also subject to anti-trust scrutiny by the US prior to being allowed to go ahead.



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