Archive for Friday, February 6, 2004

Briefly

February 6, 2004

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Vietnam

Two more deaths confirmed from bird flu

Vietnamese officials on Friday confirmed the deaths of two more people from bird flu, pushing the country's total to 13 deaths.

A 6-year-old girl from southern Dong Nai province who died Tuesday tested positive for the H5N1 strain of bird flu, said Phan Van Tuof the Ho Chi Minh City Pasteur Institute.

In addition, a 24-year-old man from central Lam Dong province who died Monday was also confirmed as a bird flu victim, said Tran Tinh Hien, deputy director of Ho Chi Minh City's Hospital for Tropical Diseases.

Vietnam has the highest number of human deaths from bird flu.

LONDON

Scientists: Mad cow may be in blood supply

British scientists studying how the human form of mad cow disease is transmitted say some people could be passing the illness through blood donations.

Although it has not been proven that the brain-wasting variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease can be transmitted through transfusion, the scientists did find a case in which a blood donor and the recipient died of it.

In that case, the donor gave blood more than three years before he developed symptoms, the scientists said in their report in Friday's Lancet medical journal.

The researchers, led by Professor Robert Will at the National CJD Surveillance Center in Edinburgh, wrote that "although the epidemic of vCJD presently seems to be in decline, a proportion of the U.K. population could be incubating vCJD and acting as blood donors."

HAVANA

Cuban musicians denied U.S. visas for Grammys

Five Cuban acts nominated for Grammy Awards, including Ibrahim Ferrer of the Buena Vista Social Club, have been denied U.S. visas needed to attend Sunday's ceremony in Los Angeles, a top Culture Ministry official said Thursday.

"Something as noble as music is being converted into a policy against Cuba," Vice Minister of Culture Abel Acosta told a news conference.

The letters cited a section of U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Law that says the president can deny entry to foreigners when their visit is deemed "detrimental to the interests of the United States."

Officials at the American mission declined to comment on the case, citing confidentiality rules.

UNITED NATIONS

$500 million sought for peace in Liberia

The United Nations and the United States appealed for nearly $500 million Thursday to put Liberia firmly on the road to peace after nearly two decades of civil war.

But they also warned that unless former combatants can make a living without guns, the country will remain unstable.

The world has a crucial opportunity "to help Liberians recover from the ruinous effects of conflict and rebuild their country," said Mark Malloch Brown, head of the U.N. Development Program.

"But it is a fragile peace and urgent action is now needed to help ensure that the gains that have been made towards Liberia's recovery are not reversed," he told participants at a two-day donors conference.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin and other high-level representatives were to attend today's pledging session.

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