Posted tagged ‘technorati’

EGG-LAYING BY EARLY LEMURIANS PROJECTED IN MALAY FOLKLORE

May 29, 2012

EGG-LAYING BY EARLY LEMURIANS PROJECTED IN MALAY FOLKLORE

Erle Frayne D. Argonza / Guru Ra
A very popular legend among the Bruneians is the story of the great warrior Awang Semaun. The narrative about the great warrior reveals facets of the early kingship (sultanate) formation of Brunei and the institutions interwoven with it.
What I wish to highlight in the tale though is a more recondite facet: the tale’s revelation of the early egg-laying or oviparous way of laying children by the early Lemurians. Divine wisdom had revealed that the first phase of Lemurian races were gigantic, hermaphroditic types who reproduced largely through egg-laying.
The oviparous early Lemurians would later be recycled over and over in diverse folklore across the globe. A sample narrative of it is the story of Awang Semaun. Below is a summary of the legend.
[Philippines, 16 June 2011]

From: http://www.bt.com.bn/life/2008/05/25/awang_semaun_tale_of_a_brunei_warrior
Awang Semaun: Tale of a Brunei warrior
Foundation narrative: Awang Semaun was said to have 13 siblings from 13 different mothers, all legendary Brunei warriors who found Kampong Ayer and whose cries of ‘baru nah’ (‘now we found it’) gave Brunei its name. Picture: Rozan Yunos collection / Rozan Yunos –
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
Sunday, May 25, 2008
IF ONE were to mention the name Awang Semaun to any Bruneian, he or she would conjure up a description of a strong brave warrior who has contributed to the existence of Brunei.

According to legend, Awang Semaun is said to be the younger brother of Awang Alak Betatar (who eventually became the first Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Muhammad Shah). Awang Semaun was made a Damong by his brother and he also later became the Pengiran Temenggong (one of the four wazir or viziers) who assisted the Sultan in governing the country.

Who was Awang Semaun? According to Brunei legends and one of the most famous epic poems which bore his name, Syair Awang Semaun, he was one of 14 brothers which included Awang Alak Betatar, Pateh Berbai, Pateh Mambang, Pateh Tuba, Pateh Sangkuna, Pateh Manggurun, Pateh Malakai, Pateh Pahit, Damang Sari, Pateh Sindayong, Damang Lebar Daun, Hapu Awang and Pateh Laila Langgong. The brothers all lived in different places with Awang Semaun and his brother Damang Sari living in Garang, near Kuala Labu in Temburong.

It was said that the father fathered the 14 children in his journeys . His grandfather was known as Sang Aji Brunei. His name is mentioned in another epic poem, Syair Negara Kartagama, written in 1365 where he was known as Sang Aji Baruwing (a variant of the name “Brunei”).

According to oral legends, despite being married for quite some time, he was childless. One day while walking outside his palace, he found a giant egg and brought it back to the palace. That night a young boy by the name of I-Pai Samaring was hatched. He later married the daughter of Sang Aji and gave birth to Alak Betatar.

While the princess was pregnant, she was craving for a tembadau (wild cow). I-Pai Samaring went hunting and managed to hit a tembadau with a spear but it got away. I-Pai Samaring followed the bloody trail through several villages. At each village, he married the daughter of the chieftain as it was considered a great honour. He married 13 times before he eventually found the tembadau.

Each of those wives later gave birth to the brothers of Awang Alak Betatar. When Awang Alak Betatar grew up, he went in search of his brothers and brought them together. They later went in search of a new place to build a country and when they found the location at the present Kampong Ayer, their cries of baru nah — “now we found it” — gave Brunei its name.

Awang Semaun is mentioned in a number of local folklores and legends. Whether he is the same Awang Semaun in all the other legends, one will never know.

According to Iban folklore, Awang Semaun or Sumaun is the son of Derom anak Sabatin. Derom, together with his father, alighted in Tanjong Batu (bordering Sarawak and Indonesia). Sumaun and his brother Serabungkok moved to Naga Rajang when they were grown up. Serabungkok married Lemina and gave birth to Dayang Ilam who later married Raja Semalanjat. The Ibans are said to be descendants of Serabungkok.

On the other hand, Semaun had a son name Tugau and the Melanaus are said to be the descendant of Tugau. According to Iban legend, Sumaun went to Brunei in search of his fortune.

According to the Muruts in Ulu Lawas, Semaun was said to be a seer and a very strong man. One rainy day when he was taking shelter under an overhang by a hill in Long Bawan, he stood up forgetting that he was under an overhang. An existing hole where he stood up — complete with the shape of his ears — can still be seen today. In another place his footprint can be seen when he jumped from one hill to another.

It was said that he went away to Padian (Brunei) and was never heard of again.

However, the Brunei legends stated that Awang Semaun was the brother of Pateh Berbai and is of Brunei origin.

According to local Temburong folklore, Awang Semaun left behind a giant vase used for keeping water. The local people said that the giant vase can sometimes appear and a number of locals have claimed to have seen that magic vase.

One local head village who worked in the area in the 1920s said that he saw the vase at least 10 times. He described the vase as having an opening of about two feet in diameter, its length up to 30 feet and a broad middle of about 20 feet in diametre. The vase will be found half submerged in the river. The British Resident who heard the stories tried to search for the vase in vain. The elderly folks said that a magic vase like that will not be found by those who went searching for it.

It was said that Awang Semaun converted to Islam in Johor. During the reign of Awang Alak Betatar, he instructed Awang Semaun to go to Johor in search of a Johor Princess who became Awang Alak Betatar’s consort. The Johor Princess had a bird named pinggai (burong pinggai). When the Princess was taken to Brunei, the bird came to Brunei to search for her. It came together with a ship which sank when it arrived in Brunei. The sailors were said to be assisted by the Kedayans who lived in Berakas. From the Kedayans, the sailors heard that the bird had flown to a place which eventually became Kampong Burong Pinggai.

From that village, the emissary from Johor discovered that the Princess had married the Brunei Sultan. However, the Princess, together with her searchers from Johor, managed to persuade Awang Alak Betatar to return back to Johor for the Johor marriage ceremony there.

In Johor, Awang Alak Betatar converted to Islam and took the name Sultan Muhammad, Pateh Berbai became Pengiran Bendahara Seri Maharaja Permaisuara and Awang Semaun became Pengiran Temenggong.

On their return back to Brunei, the Johor Princess’ followers stayed in Kampong Burong Pingai.

Some also said that the Johor Sultan “persuaded by her happiness and the fame and glory of Brunei” — as described by Saunders in his History of Brunei — journeyed to Brunei and formally installed Alak Betatar as Sultan and his brothers, including Awang Semaun in the offices of state which became traditional to Brunei and presented the new Sultan with the royal regalia.

We only know Awang Semaun through legends. We do not even know of his descendants. We will never know the truth about him.

But the name Awang Semaun lives on as one of Brunei’s great warriors.

The writer runs a website on Brunei at bruneiresources.com.

The Brunei Times

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PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA WEBSITE: http://erleargonza.com

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CRITICAL STATE OF PLANET

May 12, 2012

CRITICAL STATE OF PLANET

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Social scientists over the last decade came up with researches that show an alarming increase of patters pointing to a critical state of the planet. Man’s intrusive intervention in many spheres of life has scaled up, sufficient to cause a tipping point towards even greater uncertainties.

The interconnectedness of politics, economics, culture, and institutions of private sphere has entered a seemingly new phase of even greater couplings. Thus, the very wellbeing of human civilization is at risk of catastrophic results of interventions that tip off to the uncontrollable.

Today, there has been a greater need for scientists across disciplines to come together and look at the problems in multi-faceted ways, added to anticipating models of emerging realities that project the different dimensions concerned.

Below is a very interesting sum up of the views of scientists on the state of the planet.

[Philippines, 19 April 2012]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/agriculture-and-environment/planet-under-pressure-2012-2/news/planet-is-in-critical-state-warns-science-declaration.html
Planet is in critical state, warns science declaration
Aisling Irwin
30 March 2012 | EN | ES
[LONDON] Earth has only one decade to pull itself back from various environmental ‘tipping points’ — points at which the damage becomes irreversible, scientists have said.
If it fails to do so, it is likely to witness a series of breakdowns in the systems that sustain people, such as oceans and soil, according to a major meeting on safeguarding the planet’s future, the Planet Under Pressure conference (26–29 March).
“Research now demonstrates that the continued functioning of the Earth system as it has supported the wellbeing of human civilization in recent centuries is at risk,” said some of the world’s leading documenters of global environmental change in the first ‘State of the Planet’ declaration.
They also admitted that scientists could no longer continue with ‘business as usual’.
This article is part of our Planet Under Pressure 2012 coverage — which takes place 26–29 March 2012. To read insights from our conference team please visit our blog.
“We have been far better at documenting the problem and understanding the processes than engaging with solutions,” said Mark Stafford Smith, science director of the Climate Adaptation Flagship at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia’s national science agency.
Johan Rockström, executive director of the Stockholm Environment Institute, in Sweden, said it was “absolutely shocking” that scientists had not answered questions such as “how much biodiversity [do] we need in order to sustain landscapes for our economy?”.
He told a press conference: “I and many scientists are still profoundly frustrated that we don’t know whether we are heading for a two degree or six degree temperature rise — that’s not satisfactory for any decision makers”.
The declaration says that three changes over the last decade make scientists’ warnings qualitatively different from before.
First, a decade of research is leading to the consensus that we inhabit a new epoch, the Anthropocene, in which humans are dominating planetary-scale processes.
Second, science has revealed that many planetary processes are interconnected, as are, increasingly, society and the economy. This interconnectedness can confer stability and accelerate innovation, says the declaration, but it also leaves us vulnerable to abrupt and rapid crises.
Third, social research has demonstrated that our current ways of governing global environmental change are not dealing effectively with problems such as climate change and biodiversity loss. Many researchers conclude that local, national and regional partnerships are also needed as an insurance policy against failures of governance at a global level.
The declaration supports some of the ideas that are being promoted for inclusion in the Rio+20 agreement, to be finalised at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (20–22 June) in Brazil.
These include: the need to go beyond GDP (gross domestic product) by taking into account the value of natural capital when measuring progress; a framework for developing global sustainability goals; the creation of a UN Sustainable Development Council to integrate social, economic and environmental policy at the global level; and the production of regular global sustainability analyses.
One key outcome of the meeting was agreement on the need to push forward a scheme to redirect global change science, so-called ‘Future Earth’, which will pull together an wide variety of disciplines to answer questions that societies need to tackle.
Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO, who attended the final day, praised the Future Earth initiative for being “unprecedented in its creativity”.
Liz Thomson, executive coordinator of the Rio+20 summit, told the meeting that many of the messages from the scientific community, which has been lobbying for some time over the Rio+20 agreement, had already made it into the ‘zero draft’ of Rio+20’s outcome document, and that the declaration would “increase the pressure on policymakers to get the message and act on it”.
The UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon said in a recorded address that he was “taking forward” a recommendation from his high-level science panel that he appoint a science advisor.
Co-chair of the meeting, Lidia Brito, director of science policy and capacity building in natural sciences at UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), said: “We have a positive message: strong leadership from all sectors, and harnessing [our] increased connectivity, offer hope that the risk of long-term environmental crises can be minimised”.
But some delegates said that while the conference linked natural and social scientists, it was less successful in luring policymakers and business representatives.
Nigel Cameron, president of the US-based Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies, told the meeting that he did not see venture capitalists or heads of research and development from industry “around the table … and the reason for that is that the people around the table don’t want them [there]”.
And others said that scientists might be overestimating the influence they could have. Carlos Nobre, of Brazil’s ministry of science, technology and innovation, talked of “the stark reality of anti-science political power … no matter how good we become as communicators we have to recognize it is very effective at blocking action”.
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PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA WEBSITE: http://erleargonza.com

ARGONZA SOCIAL BLOGS & LINKS:
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VISIONING AFRICAN FUTURE FARMS

May 12, 2012

VISIONING AFRICAN FUTURE FARMS

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Africa’s agriculture research & development has come a long way since the ‘take-off’ decades of the post-colonial era. Slow and slowed further by internecine conflicts as well (political-military), conflicts that were bred by the polarity games of the Western oligarchy aimed at controlling Africans in the long term, science R&D as a whole sputtered across the decades.

The landscape has since changed, as political stability in the fractious countries have quite cemented. Funding for research from the emerging markets has salved the funds lack of enthused researchers. End-users have increased from local to global.

Just exactly what innovative ways can be launched across the decades for the whole continent that would, in the main, reverse the food production problems of Africans and ensure food security in the very long run?

An interesting interview of the African food security expert Denis Kyetere is shown below.

[Philippines, 18 April 2012]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/agriculture-and-environment/features/q-a-denis-kyetere-on-innovative-technologies-for-africa-s-farmers–1.html
Q&A: Denis Kyetere on innovative technologies for Africa’s farmers
Busani Bafana
5 April 2012 | EN
Kyetere: ‘We must understand the specific challenges our farmers face, prioritize them, and apply science to seeking a solution’
Denis Kyetere, executive director of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation, outlines his vision for the continent’s farmers.
At the start of this year, Denis Kyetere, a prominent Ugandan geneticist and plant breeder, assumed his new post as executive director of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), a non-profit organisation that promotes partnerships to deliver appropriate agricultural technologies to smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Kyetere studied in Uganda, the United Kingdom and the United States. His previous roles include director of research at the Coffee Research Institute, and board chair of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa. Prior to his arrival at the AATF, he had served for five years as director-general of Uganda’s National Agricultural Research Organisation.
As a scientist, his achievements include being a member of the research team that identified and mapped the maize streak virus gene 1, and the subsequent development of the virus-resistant maize variety Longe 1, which is now grown widely in Uganda.
SciDev.Net spoke to Kyetere about his vision for the AAFT and the foundation’s efforts in research and technology development for African farmers.
What are your priorities in taking the helm of the AATF?
My key priority will be supporting AATF’s mission — to ensure smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa have access to the same affordable and productive agriculture technologies available to farmers in most parts of the world.
To do this I will focus on innovative partnerships and effective product stewardship. In addition, I want to expand our resource and technology base.
Would you say that current investment by governments and private sector in technology use in agriculture is adequate?
In Africa, it is generally not adequate, especially when one notes that most of the continent is still battling age-old problems of pests and diseases and facing new challenges such as the changing growing conditions caused by climate change.
However, it is important to note that African governments are aware of the need to increase investments in agriculture, as evidenced in the Maputo Declaration in 2003, where governments committed to allocating at least ten per cent of national budgetary resources to agriculture and rural development.
We have also seen encouraging efforts by some countries such as Ghana and Malawi, which have made enormous progress by investing more in agriculture. As a continent, we have still not reached the desired investment levels — levels that will see Africa attain meaningful growth. As historical evidence from places like the United States and Asia shows, investing in agriculture leads to improvements in the broader economy.
Recently Malawi showed that, even with the few challenges that cropped up, indeed, increasing investments in our farmers pays dividends. We need to continue urging our governments to invest more since there is enormous evidence showing that it makes a difference in terms of boosting agricultural productivity and overall economic growth.
Are African farmers taking advantage of the available agricultural technologies to boost food productivity?
In Africa, there are different types of farmers and farming systems that influence technology use.
Large commercial farmers in countries such as South Africa have different needs to smallholders in a country such as Uganda, which makes it difficult to generalise. However, I believe I would not be off the mark to say that technology use is generally low, especially among smallholder, resource-challenged farmers. There are many factors that contribute to this, such as financial constraints, lack of credit, and lack of awareness of available technologies. But perhaps the most crippling aspect is related to market access.
Farmers are entrepreneurs and where opportunities and markets exist, I believe that farmers are entrepreneurs and where opportunities are available and markets exist, they will do what they can to benefit. Where markets are not readily accessible, farmers will see technology investments as a risk. But we also need to expand our extension services so that farmers are at least more aware and able to take advantage of valuable technologies that are appropriate for their farming systems.
The case of maize hybrid seeds is a good example of a beneficial technology that is making a difference in increasing yields but has yet to be widely used by farmers in Africa. Zimbabwe, for instance, was an early beneficiary of hybrid maize [developed through the Zimbabwe national maize breeding programme]. It contributed to doubling maize production between 1980 and 1986.
Which technologies have worked, and which have not, for smallholder farmers in Africa?
I would say technologies that have worked are those that have made a difference to the particular issue that farmers had to address in the first place. Technologies come in different forms, aiming at addressing different constraints and farmers’ selection will be based on their need at the time. A few examples come to mind.
In Kenya, maize yields started to increase following the adoption of hybrid maize varieties and the accompanying high fertilizer use in the 1980s such that by 1986, average national yields were over two tonnes per hectare. To date about 80 per cent of farmers have adopted hybrid maize in the country.
The New Rice for Africa (NERICA) rice varieties developed by the Africa Rice Center have gained popularity among rice farmers in a relatively short period of time. The NERICA varieties have good agronomic performance and are resistant to harsh growing conditions, and have short growth duration. These are traits that are very attractive to farmers. NERICA varieties have shown great potential and are already disseminated on an estimated more than 300,000 hectares.
The other technology that has worked is the fertilizer micro-dosing technique which has reintroduced fertilizer use in countries such as Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa. In West Africa, some 25,000 smallholder farmers in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger have learned the technique and experienced increases in sorghum and millet yields of 44 to 120 per cent, along with an increase in their family incomes of 50 to 130 per cent.
How can we best put scientific research on agricultural technologies to practical use in Africa?
First, we must understand the specific challenges our farmers face, prioritise them, and apply science to seeking a solution. Second, we need to ensure policymakers are our partners [and] can consider how certain policies and strategic investments in scientific research can lead to meaningful progress for our farmers and our countries.
Do you think Africa has prioritised the role of research and technology in developing its agriculture?
Yes, I believe it has as different countries recognise that scientific research has a role to play in contributing to overall development and have stated this in their planning documents and even at the continental level. What we may still need to see are more instances in which this stated commitment is put into action, so that research can benefit from country budgets and policy discussions.
Where do you see AATF in five years?
AATF is already making inroads in facilitating the development and delivery of innovative technologies that will make a difference to the livelihood of smallholder farmers in Africa. In five years time some of the projects that AATF is participating in such as striga control in maize will have been widely adopted by farmers and made a difference to their lives.
The Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project, which is developing drought-tolerant maize varieties, and the cowpea improvement project that is working on insect-resistant varieties of the legume, will be at the deployment stage, with some initial varieties already in the hands of local seed companies and farmers. This will be a major milestone for the Foundation.
I also see AATF able to establish new partnerships that will enable it access and add more innovative technologies to its portfolio that will address already identified constraints facing smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa.
In addition, we may also see AATF able to partner with more countries to increase access to appropriate technologies for resource-poor farmers.
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PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA WEBSITE: http://erleargonza.com

ARGONZA SOCIAL BLOGS & LINKS:
http://erleargonza.blogspot.com, https://unladtau.wordpress.com, http://www.facebook.com, http://www.newciv.org, http://sta.rtup.biz, http://magicalsecretgarden.socialparadox.com, http://en.netlog.com/erlefrayne, http://talangguro.blogfree.net, http://www.blogster.com/erleargonza, http://efdargon.multiply.com,
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DEVELOPMENT SITES:
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SOLIDARITY TO ALL WORKINGMEN & WOMEN!

May 1, 2012

SOLIDARITY TO ALL WORKINGMEN & WOMEN!

Erle Frayne D. Argonza
01 May 21st Century

This social analyst, development worker and self-development guru from Manila hereby extends a most heartfelt solidarity and synergy with the working men & women of our beloved planet Earth!

If there is a core life element that must be celebrated today, the 1st of May, it is the power of labor to build worlds and change the world. That human labor is powerful is ample proof of the great potency of craftsmanship, the same craftsmanship coming straight from the Godhead. It is a proof that we humans are co-creators with the Almighty Providence, and no force must abridge such a truth by shackling labor to exploitative and dehumanizing encumbrances.

We were created in the image of the Almighty Providence, created to serve as free will beings who will co-create worlds with the Prime Creator. Sadly, the power to co-create has been badly misused, which has seen our world, during the epoch of the Money Economy, degenerate into a prison camp controlled by an oligarchic class that shows no compunction in seeing millions die of misery and hunger for the gain-sake of advancing the insatiable greed of the same oligarchs and their technocratic-military-political subalterns.

A class of evil oligarchs that continues to abridge our powers to co-create and earn our rightful keep must be met with penalties in due time as an operation of cosmic laws. They shall reap what they cultivated, and that time draws so near. Yes, fellows, deliverance is near, and the time for fear and intimidation by the ruling elites will end soon.

Meantime, if we bear witness today to Spartacist movements rising in our midst, such as the mass strike movement in Europe, let it be so that the tools of deliverance are rightly the heritage of all free men and women. Let the gains of Spartacism roll on high, as a gigantic eagle set out to free those who were enslaved by the evil overlords.

Happy Labor Day! Mabuhay!

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“GO GREEN NOT NUKES” FOLLOW PH MODEL!

April 24, 2012

“GO GREEN NOT NUKES” FOLLOW PH MODEL!

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

That line comes from a retired PH journalist, Crispin Maslog, who urged Asian countries to go green rather than to force nuke energy for power generation. From the very own words of the noblesse environmentalist, Asian countries—the top models of emerging markets—should follow the ‘Philippine way’ of power generation via the RE or renewable energy sources plus minimal fossil fuel but without the nuke option.

I couldn’t find reason to disagree with Herr Environmentalist, even as renewable energy sources in PH, which include hydro power and geothermal, dominate the power generation sector. Fossil fuels such as diesel and coal are down to a manageable level of less than 30% of total sources, though it is possible that coal-fired plants could still go up a bit.

What is clear is that RE has a clear dominance as it eats up over nearly 70% of power generation, and it is still moving up the scale as it replaces those occupied by diesel production plants that are getting mothballed by the year. To back this up, the policy environment for RE has been clearly built up in granite fashion across two (2) decades of backbreaking debates and legislation, thus rendering PH a global model for RE policy.

However, I would want to make exception to nuclear power fusion technology which belongs squarely to RE. China is now perfecting a fusion plant which will be out in commercial quantities by 2016 at the earliest, and I’m all for this energy source. This can be combined with the other RE sources in PH for instance, thus assuring energy needs all the year round for many decades straight.

[Philippines, 16 April 2012]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/climate-change-and-energy/energy-policy/opinions/asia-pacific-analysis-go-green-not-nuclear-1.html
Asia-Pacific Analysis: Go green not nuclear
Crispin Maslog
29 March 2012 | EN
Crispin Maslog says the region should follow the Philippines’ lead and focus on renewable, not nuclear power.
A year after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, questions remain over the role of nuclear power in the developing world, including South-East Asia and the Pacific.
Nuclear power had a renaissance, driven by rapidly growing energy demands, and fading memories of high-profile disasters at Three Mile Island in the United States and Chernobyl, Ukraine.
But Fukushima triggered a re-think about the safety of nuclear power plants. South-East Asian countries, earlier inclined towards nuclear power (especially Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand), are now at the crossroads, quietly revisiting the arguments for and against nuclear plants.
Planning for power
The Philippines was the first country to build a nuclear reactor in South-East Asia — the Bataan Nuclear Plant, completed in 1985. But the US$2.3-billion Westinghouse light water reactor, which has the potential to generate 621 megawatts of power, was never used. Work on the facility stopped after a change of administration because of corruption and safety issues.
Before Fukushima, bills were introduced in the Philippine congress seeking either to restart the reactor, or to close the issue by allowing either conversion or permanent closure. These are now in limbo.
Vietnam seems sure, and has decided to push ahead with its plan for 14 nuclear plants by 2030. Vietnam has an ambitious nuclear energy plan to power 10 per cent of its electricity grid with nuclear energy within 20 years. Its first nuclear plant, Ninh Thuan, is to be built with support from a state-owned Russian energy company and completed by 2020.
But whether nuclear is the solution still needs answering for the rest of the region. Singapore is going ahead with a pre-feasibility study and Indonesia is discreetly proceeding with feasibility studies. Thailand and Malaysia have abandoned their nuclear plans.
Nuclear drawbacks
Economic growth, industrialisation, the escalating price of oil, safer reactor design, and global warming are compelling countries to seek alternatives to fossil fuels.
Opponents of nuclear technology underscore the disadvantages: the high cost of building, running and maintaining nuclear power plants; problems with disposing of radioactive wastes; and difficulties with ensuring environmental and human safety. And although the fuel costs of nuclear plants have been lower than fossil-fuel plants, the construction cost is three times higher.
The risk of accidents is a big concern — their social and economic costs can be huge and long-lasting. For example, Belarus has estimated its economic losses over 30 years due to the Chernobyl disaster at US$235 billion. And 5–7 per cent of government spending in Ukraine still goes to Chernobyl-related benefit programmes.
More recently, Japan has estimated that the Fukushima nuclear accident could cost US$250 billion, including compensation for the 180,000 people moved from the area.
Disposing of radioactive waste remains dangerous and decommissioning the plant when it has reached the end of its useful life is also costly. Plans for storing the very long-lived radioactive wastes in deep geological repositories remain just that — plans. So far no such repositories have been constructed in the region.
And most developing South-East Asian countries still do not have enough expertise to deal with nuclear power safely.
Go for green energy
Until nuclear power plants become cheaper and safer, South-East Asia and the Pacific should choose to support renewable sources of energy.
Renewable sources including water, wind, tidal and solar already provide 20 per cent of global electricity (if hydropower is included), and could supply 77 per cent by 2050.
At the 6th Asia Clean Energy Forum (ACEF) held in Manila in June 2011, Greenpeace suggested that renewable energy plants, particularly wind and solar power, grew in capacity faster than any other power plant technology since the 1990s. [1]
It cited the Philippines as an example for the region. The country aims to make itself the leading geothermal energy producer in the world, to double hydropower capacity and expand the contributions of biomass, solar, and ocean energy.
It is already a leader in the region in harnessing geothermal and hydroelectric energy. In February 2010,The Philippine Department of Energy signed 68 mini-hydroelectric, 5 geothermal, and 17 wind energy contracts amounting to US$1 billion. These projects will generate an estimated capacity of 2,007.5 megawatts.
And one of the largest business conglomerates in the Philippines, Ayala Corp., has a long-standing interest in the renewable energy sector.
How did The Philippines get here? The government got the ball rolling with its Renewable Energy Act in 2008. Funding agencies — like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank — followed with huge energy loans. And private business then started coming in. This may well be a model for other South-East Asian countries to follow.
Crispin Maslog is a Manila-based consultant for the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication. A former journalist, professor and environmental activist, he worked for the Press Foundation of Asia and the International Rice Research Institute.
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GETTING PHARMACEUTICALS TO WORLD’S POOR VIA NEW FUNDING MODELS

April 21, 2012

GETTING PHARMACEUTICALS TO WORLD’S POOR VIA NEW FUNDING MODELS

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Getting pharmaceuticals to the world’s poor is verily a tough task to do. Certain emerging markets such as those of Asia’s have mature and well developed pharmaceutical industries, yet too many poor folks can’t afford to pay for their own medical drug needs.

One opinion says new funding models may need be crafted to get such drugs to the world’s poor. This opinion is highly debatable, as the case has been shown in PH, India, and China that responded to the problem of access to drugs via generics drugs policy and the institutionalization of traditional & alternative medicine.

At any rate, let those who espouse the idea of new funding models proceed with the enactment of their concept. “New funding model” could at best be attractive to Big Business owners who operate Big Foundations that would fund those access challenges, and there we go again recycling the same old problem of oligarchism as barrier to people’s access to medicines.

[Philippines, 14 April 2012]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/health/access-to-medicine/opinions/use-new-funding-models-to-get-drugs-to-world-s-poor-.html
Use new funding models to get drugs to world’s poor
Daniele Dionisio
5 April 2012 | EN
Trade deals are threatening generic drugs — we need new ways to incentivise affordable drug development, says health expert Daniele Dionisio.
Just under three billion people live on less than US$2 per day, in resource-limited countries where key medicines protected by patents are unaffordable.
Free-trade deals, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, and governments adopting intellectual property (IP) policies that favour the brand pharmaceutical sector are also threatening the trade of legitimate generic medicines.
In addition, India’s obligations to the World Trade Organization (WTO) prevent local companies from making generics for medicines introduced since 2005. Despite the country’s recent decision forcing a drug manufacturer to license a generic cancer drug[1], these developments threaten the supply of generic medicines from India that serve as a lifeline to resource-limited countries.
To ensure long-term access to medicines, the WHO has called for operational models to finance research and development (R&D) for diseases of the poor. [2] But any one model will not be enough to ensure the availability of life-saving drugs.
Pooling resources
The WHO’s models include direct grants, equitable licensing, pooled funds, prizes and patent pools, collectively called ‘best fitting’ models. They also include ‘less well fitting’ models such as priority review vouchers and a health impact fund.
With direct grants, for example, small- and medium-sized companies in developing countries are given funds to develop a product to the stage where they can more easily find other funders to take it to later stages of development.
Equitable licensing aims to ensure that medicines arising from public funding are licensed to make them affordable to the poor. Pooled funds aim to provide, on a long-term basis, funding to research organisations from sources including taxes or bonds. And prizes are rewards for developing a product or for completing a step in the R&D process.
As part of these recommendations, the WHO strongly insists that patent pools are established, where a number of patents by differ¬ent owners are brought together and made available on a nonexclusive basis to generic companies.
The Medicines Patent Pool (or the Pool), is a major commitment to implementing this idea. Founded and financed by UNITAID and backed by the WHO, UNAIDS, the Global Fund, and the Group of 8, the Pool is focusing on cutting-edge antiretrovirals (ARVs) for HIV.
The Pool seeks to negotiate with patent holders for voluntary licences (VLs) on their ARV patents against the payment of royalties. Expected benefits include increased competition and affordable prices for generic ARVs licensed through the Pool. [3]
A need for universal buy-in
The Pool has signed two VLs with Gilead Sciences and the US National Institutes of Health, and is in talks with Boehringer-Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche, Sequoia Pharmaceuticals and ViiV Healthcare (a joint venture of GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer). Meanwhile, generic companies have begun to take licences from it.
However, Merck and Abbott are not currently in negotiation with the Pool. And in December 2011 Johnson & Johnson said it would not license patents of its breakthrough ARVs for use through the Pool.
This is concerning because the participation of these companies in the Pool is necessary for generic companies to deliver appropriate ARVs formulations.
And it serves as a caution that, despite its promises and successes, the Pool is unlikely to be a self-sufficient solution — and this applies equally to all other models for financing drug R&D.
Towards a transaction tax
A combination of two or more models will be needed to ensure that the outputs of R&D, innovation and access are available without restrictions. To achieve that goal, all models should complement current IP regimes and include partnerships, open source and needs-driven rather than market-driven rules.
Product development partnerships (PDPs) meet these requirements. They provide a framework for cooperation between the public sector (governments, academic and research institutions) and the private sector (companies, nongovernmental organisations and philanthropic organisations).
PDPs already established include partnerships between the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) and companies Sanofi Aventis and Farmanguinhos/Fiocruz — which have produced innovative antimalarial products.
Similarly, a partnership between DNDi and Merck aims to roll out medicines for leishmaniasis and Chagas disease, and the TB Alliance has teamed up with Johnson & Johnson to develop new tuberculosis drugs.
PDPs enable both industry and governments to do what they could not alone. And their sustainability would be enhanced if governments financed them more effectively.
The foundation of all viable models is sustainable financing mechanisms, and we must find innovative funding sources.
A financial transaction tax (FTT), which aims to support development and health needs, is now under international debate, and has been endorsed by the EU Commission. A 0.05-per cent tax on all financial market transactions could raise €209 billion (US$273 billion) a year in the EU alone and would be sufficient to finance development priorities in the region and internationally. [4]
The FTT should be introduced, enforced and implemented worldwide. It would be instrumental, alongside the models proposed by the WHO, to promoting R&D to develop medicines for diseases of the poor.
Daniele Dionisio is head of the research project Geopolitics, Public Health and Access to Medicines (GESPAM); a member of the European Parliament Working Group on Innovation, Access to Medicines and Poverty-Related Diseases; and an advisor for the Italian Society for Infectious and Tropical Diseases (SIMIT). He can be contacted at d.dionisio@tiscali.it
References
[1] Bayer loses drug ruling in India (The Wall Street Journal, 2012)

[2] Draft WHO HIV strategy 2011–2015 (WHO, 2011)
[3] WHO, UNICEF, UNAIDS. The Progress report 2011: Global HIV/AIDS response (WHO, 2011)
[4] MEPs adopt report on EU-wide financial transaction tax (Parliament Magazine, 2011)
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LOWERING HIV RISK FOR SEX WORKERS, ANYONE?

April 17, 2012

LOWERING HIV RISK FOR SEX WORKERS, ANYONE?
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Is there any enthused soul out there who may have some bright ideas about strategies to lower HIV risk for sex workers?

A grim ripper of a research shows the very high levels of HIV risks on sex workers. This research was done across the continents, involving 100,000 female sex workers across 50 developing countries, cross-analyzing 102 previous studies for that matter. The results show a truly grim situation for the HIV/AIDS front, with the sex workers serving as a focused vector of the ailment.

Let’s all face the fact: AIDS/HIV will be with us for some time yet, so no matter what heroic efforts are being done to stave off the pandemic it will wreak havoc on all societies and populations for some time. Unless, of course, that the context will radically change into a global situation where HIV will die out naturally such as the Earth’s sustained immersion in the photonic belt of the galaxy.

Below is a discussion of the said cross-analytic studies.

[Philippines, 12 April 2012]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/health/hiv-aids/news/study-notes-strategies-to-lower-hiv-risk-for-sex-workers-.html
Study notes strategies to lower HIV risk for sex workers
Helen Mendes
4 April 2012 | EN
Female sex workers in low- and middle-income countries are nearly 14 times more likely to become infected with HIV than other women in these countries, according to a literature review by US scientists.
The review was carried out by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal (15 March).
The authors analysed 102 previous studies representing almost 100,000 female sex workers in 50 developing countries. They found that in Asia, sex workers were 29 per cent more likely to be infected than other women in the region. In Africa and Latin America, sex workers were 12 times more likely to be infected than other women – and India, the female sex worker community was at a massive 50-fold higher risk of HIV infection than the rest of the country’s female population.
India, along with Kenya and Brazil have, however, made some inroads into reducing infection levels among sex workers.
“We believe that these examples represent countries adopting necessary approaches,” said Stefan Baral, the study’s lead author.
Brazil’s National STD/AIDS Programme works closely with sex workers to prevent new HIV infections. As well as running campaigns to promote prevention, Brazil offers free antiretroviral treatment.
“Because of their vulnerability, sex workers are a priority group, and we have projects specifically for them,” Juny Kraiczyk of the Brazilian Ministry of Health told SciDev.Net.
“We act to strengthen sex workers’ networks” and this involves “programmes of peer education and prevention in prostitution areas,” he said, adding that such strategies had also helped reduce the stigma associated with the disease that would otherwise discourage women from coming forward for testing and treatment.
This need to destigmatise HIV infection led to Brazil turning down a US$40-million grant from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2005 because it included a clause condemning prostitution.
“We work under the principle of not criminalising prostitution. We see these people as vulnerable, and not to be blamed for their increased risk. There are [other] factors, such as discrimination and poverty, which result in higher vulnerability for them,” explained Kraiczyk.
The Lancet Infectious Diseases study found that in India, the country’s Avahan and Sonagachi programmes have successfully tackled a range of structural challenges, through community empowerment, campaigns to address stigma, and the targeting of high-risk sexual practices with prevention messages.
“The disproportionate burden of HIV among sex workers … emphasises the need to increase coverage by increasing scale of prevention programmes and decreasing barriers to access,” the study stated.
India is making the Avahan programme, which is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a national initiative.
“Avahan has shared its approaches, tools, methods and strategies with the government, and many aspects have been incorporated into the national programme,” Shelley Thakral, communications officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in India, told SciDev.Net.
Link to abstract
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