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Patients, scientists at odds over breast cancer drug

first_imgMonday morning, Patricia Howard, 66, was at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, undergoing scans that led doctors to declare her cancer-free — five years after her advanced breast cancer was diagnosed.A day later, she was standing outside a Food and Drug Administration office building in Silver Spring, Maryland, where a panel of six experts was getting ready for an unusual hearing: two days of discussion and a vote on the fate of Avastin, the drug that Howard says saved her life.“I want to explain to them the quality of life that I have. … I play golf, I shop. It’s amazing,” she says. “My scans were completely clean, which means there is no evidence of cancer. I attribute this to taking the drug Avastin.”Some might catch a whiff of Bill Murray’s “Groundhog Day” in the proceedings.In July 2010, a similar advisory panel voted 12-1 to withdraw the specific approval of Avastin as a therapy to treat advanced, or metastatic, breast cancer — cancer that has spread from its original site. The reason: Four clinical studies showed that the drug did not, on average, make patients live longer.The panel also cited dangerous side effects, including increased risks of internal bleeding and high blood pressure. In December, the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) took the panel’s advice and proposed that Avastin’s approval to treat advanced breast cancer be taken away.In most cases, the story would end there. This time, before FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg could make the recommendation final, Avastin’s maker, Genentech, filed an appeal, exercising its right under the law that created the “accelerated approval” process under which the drug was approved.The panel’s vote last July has already steered many doctors away from prescribing Avastin, according to Charlotte Arnold, a Genentech spokeswoman. She said the number of patients receiving the drug dropped from about 60 percent of new cases to only 20-25 percent. Metastatic breast cancer is diagnosed in approximately 29,000 women in the U.S. every year.Avastin, which works by restricting blood flow to tumors, was first approved as a cancer therapy in 2004. It has since been approved to treat certain cancers of the lung, kidney, colon and brain. In 2008, it was given provisional approval to treat breast cancer, on the strength of two studies that showed it increased the length of time that women went without their symptoms getting worse.Approval came on the condition that Genentech continue research, and report the findings. When those results became public last year, the initial excitement was gone. The delay in symptoms was much more modest. In neither study did women live significantly longer.Some cancer specialists, and patients, say that buried in the larger group are a number of “super-responders,” women who show dramatic improvement. Pat Howard calls her own response to the drug “nothing short of miraculous.” At the July hearing, some panel members said they hoped Genentech would conduct research to see if it can identify the patients most likely to respond.But Dr. Joanne Mortimer, a breast cancer specialist in California who was on the panel and voted to reverse the approval, said the overall ratio of risk to benefits was out of whack. “There was no improvement in survival, and practically 1 percent of the women [taking Avastin in combination with another drug] died. When you weigh the benefits and the toxicity, it was pretty hard to support full approval.”Karuna Jaggar, executive director of Breast Cancer Action, an advocacy group based in San Francisco, says CDER made the right decision. “We cannot settle for hope. We need treatments that perform, that actually improve overall survival and which improve the quality of life for women. Avastin has not been demonstrated to do that.”While some see the science as cut and dry, others see an unholy connection between the panel’s vote, the new health care law and Avastin’s imposing price tag, which runs as high as $88,000 for a full year of treatment.As petition drives got under way last July, Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, wrote to the FDA complaining that “the (FDA advisory) committee’s concerns appear to have been based on cost-effectiveness.” More recently, conservative writers have described the FDA’s moves as heavy-handed government interference. In a much-discussed Washington Times piece last week, Milton Wolf called Dr. Richard Pazdur, director of the FDA’s cancer drug division, a “one-man death panel.”Avastin’s cost was mentioned in passing at the September meeting, but it was not a focus of discussion, and according to FDA policy and officials the agency does not take cost into account when deciding drug approvals.Since Avastin is approved for other uses, doctors would still be allowed to prescribe it, whatever the FDA’s decision in this case. However, many insurance companies would likely be reluctant to pay nearly $90,000 for a treatment not approved by the FDA. There was a hint of this in January, when Palmetto GBA, a large Medicare provider, said it was taking steps to no longer cover Avastin as a breast cancer treatment.Under pressure, three days later the company reversed course and said it would continue to pay for Avastin, while the Genentech appeal is pending.Howard and some other women taking Avastin feel like their success stories are being ignored. Marcia Gilbert, 57, saw her breast cancer recur in 2004, and learned it had spread to her bones. After several miserable rounds of chemotherapy, she started receiving Avastin in 2008 as part of a clinical trial at Duke University. The side effects were negligible, she says, and her tumors actually started to shrink.“Pulling one of the few options for someone with metastatic breast cancer smells of government control of our health care and, ultimately, our lives,” says Gilbert. “I’m concerned this committee is just looking at statistics, and not the individuals. We’re all individuals and we respond individually to treatments.”Jaggar says she understands why women such as Gilbert are upset, but says “Avastin can have terrible side effects. It can even be fatal, and we can’t just look at a single person’s experience. … If Genentech is able to demonstrate that the benefits outweigh the risks for a certain subgroup of women, we would not oppose approval, but we haven’t seen that evidence.”The accelerated approval program was established in 1992 as a way of shortening the wait for patients to receive new, promising treatments. In the world of cancer therapy, four drugs approved under the “accelerated” approvals have been withdrawn by the companies who make them, all since 2005, according to Erica Goode, an FDA spokeswoman.In 2005, MedImmune said the drug Ethyol should no longer be used to prevent kidney damage in patients receiving chemotherapy treatment for non-small-cell lung cancer.In 2010, Pfizer voluntarily withdrew the indication for Celebrex to be used to reduce a certain type of polyps in the colon.Also in 2010, Pfizer withdrew the indication for its drug Mylotarg, as a treatment for some older leukemia patients.In January of this year, AstraZeneca said it would no longer market the drug Iressa, a therapy for some types of non-small-cell lung cancer. An FDA decision in 2005 had already restricted the drug to certain patients. Since January, about 200 patients — who have shown a good response to Iressa — continue to have access to it, under a special program.In each case, the drug company accepted evidence that early results were no longer as promising as they had once appeared. Not Genentech.To date, Arnold says, no other medicine has been shown to work better against a certain type of breast cancer. She says the panel should leave Avastin available, at least while research continues.“Ultimately, maintaining accelerated approval while we conduct a new trial is allowed by law, supported by science and is in the best interest of the patients who may need this medicine,” she wrote in an e-mail. “The company will present its case based on the scientific data.”Arnold says Genentech will present new analyses to “help clarify some of mischaracterizations that have been made about Avastin’s data.”The company faces a tough audience. Of the six voting members, five were on the panel that rejected Avastin last summer; all five voted to remove the breast cancer indication.Whatever the vote, no final decision will be forthcoming this week. CDER will weigh the new vote; no expected date was given for a decision, but it’s expected to take at least several weeks. At that point, the call will once again belong to Commissioner Hamburg.This is the first time a company has appealed a reversal of an “accelerated” approval in the program’s 19 years of existence. According to Karen Riley, another FDA spokeswoman, it is not the first time a company has appealed an FDA decision, but neither she nor John Jenkins — the director of the FDA’s Office of New Drugs — could immediately recall another example.The hearing Tuesday morning was more charged than most at the FDA. It opened with a string of patients and other advocates for Avastin, alternately telling personal stories and berating the panel.Patricia Howard was third to the microphone. “According to that data, I should have been dead years before… I’m still in the game,” she told the panel in a crisp voice. “I never thought in the United States of America I would have to beg for a drug that keeps me alive.”Howard moved to Florida last year. Aside from this week’s hearing, her biggest frustration is that she hasn’t been able to get her golf handicap down. Since starting Avastin in 2007, she’s experienced only a mild rise in blood pressure. With a chuckle, she says, “I’m on medication, but then so is half the world.”She says she treats her cancer as a chronic disease but like most breast cancer patients she feels a sense of walking on pins and needles. Once you know you have it, she says, “It’s always there in the middle of the night. It creeps in.”She’s unhappy that Genentech hasn’t performed studies that might explain why she, and some other patients, seem to do so well. But most of her anger is directed at the FDA, and she’ll make her case at the hearing.“If it’s working, why force us to try something else?”CNN News Tweet 13 Views   no discussions Share Sharecenter_img Sharing is caring! HealthLifestyle Patients, scientists at odds over breast cancer drug by: – June 28, 2011 Sharelast_img read more

Tevez signs new deal with Boca Juniors

first_imgRelatedPosts Pirlo not out to copy anyone after Juventus’ comfortable opening win Ighalo: My best moment as ‘Red Devil’ EPL: Crystal Palace stun sloppy Man U Carlos Tevez is playing on with Boca Juniors next season.The former Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus striker has signed a new 12 month deal with Boca. The club captain’s new deal will run to June 2021.Since returning to Boca, Tevez has led the Argentine giants to four league championships.—Tags: Boca JuniorsCarlos TevezJuventusManchester CityManchester Unitedlast_img read more

Broncos once again leaning on defense as young offense grows

first_imgIn the draft, he used his first two picks on receivers Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler, and added center Lloyd Cushenberry III and Lock’s Missouri teammate, tight end Albert Okwuegbunam.Elway tempered his enthusiasm, however, when the coronavirus pandemic hit, robbing the NFL of its normal offseason and erasing the preseason. Especially hard hit were young teams like the Broncos who are adjusting to a new coordinator and fitting in a handful of new starters.“I don’t think we can expect with no offseason for us to come out and be hitting on all cylinders,” Elway said, adding “it’s going to be a slow build.”“The expectations of Drew — I mean, he did play well for five games, but that was only five games last year,” Elway added. “He didn’t have the offseason this year, which for young football players is always very, very important. I know he spent a lot of time throwing to the receivers and getting the timing and doing what they could do away from the facility. We’re very young on the offensive side.” Associated Press The Broncos have one of the deepest tight end corps in the NFL with the additions of Okwuegbunam in the draft and Nick Vannett in free agency joining last year’s first-round pick Noah Fant and oft-injured holdover Jake Butt and Troy Fumagalli.Okwuegbunam and Lock have built-in chemistry from their time together at Missouri, and it showed during red-zone drills at training camp when the two hooked up time after time for touchdowns.“We’ve been pleased with his play,” coach Vic Fangio said of Okwuegbunam, who caught 17 TD passes from Lock in their two seasons together in college. “He’s obviously a big target at 6-5½. He runs well. He’s got good hands.” Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditDENVER (AP) — Watching Drew Lock dominate December after a paucity of practice snaps convinced Broncos general manager John Elway he’d finally found a worthy successor to Peyton Manning.So Elway bypassed the deepest free agent class of quarterbacks in our lifetime and built around his swashbuckling quarterback who went 4-1 his rookie season after spending three months on IR with an injured thumb.With new offensive architect Pat Shurmur penning the playbook, Elway added guard Graham Glasgow and running back Melvin Gordon in free agency. Lock agreed that “it may not be the prettiest at first,” but insisted his own ambitions for 2020 haven’t abated one bit.“Not being able to be with the guys as much as you normally would is not going to change how I feel going into the season,” Lock said. “I still want to do the things … I thought we could do this year.”Namely, making the playoffs, somewhere the Broncos haven’t been since Von Miller’s MVP performance in Super Bowl 50.The superstar linebacker is so eager to end four years of frustration that he reshaped his body and his mindset in the offseason.“I didn’t take any time off, I didn’t take any vacations, I didn’t do anything but work out and grind and reinvest all the time that I would usually spend on, like, endorsements and all this other stuff,” said Miller, the biggest NFL star to reveal a bout with COVID-19 back in the spring. “I just reinvested that time in myself.” Miller’s buffed body is matched by a new approach to leadership after watching Kobe Bryant’s eulogy and Michael Jordan’s documentary.“I’ve got to become more of a leader,” Miller said, “like Kobe and Jordan were.”Other pressure points for the Broncos as they try to reverse their slide that has seen them average seven wins a season since winning it all:MIGHTY CASEYMiller is coming off a disappointing eight-sack season, and pass rush partner Bradley Chubb is coming off a torn ACL last September. The acquisition of D-tackle Jurrell Casey from the Titans should help both of them stack up sacks again. “It’ll be incredible,” Miller said of playing alongside Casey. “I’m looking forward to it. He’s a great player, five-time Pro Bowler. I’ve been around him at the Pro Bowl several times. … We can do all sorts of things together.” TERRIFIC TIGHT ENDS August 27, 2020 Broncos once again leaning on defense as young offense grows Fant figures to serve essentially as the Broncos’ No. 3 receiver, especially with Hamler’s hamstring injury that sidelined him in August.JUDGE JEUDYJeudy was considered the best pure route runner in this year’s deep draft class of wide receivers, and he wasted no time dropping jaws at practice this summer.“He can get in and out of his breaks better than anyone I’ve ever seen before,” Broncos safety and fellow Alabama alum Kareem Jackson said. “For him to be a rookie, his tempo and his routes, the way he can change his pace, the way he sells things, it’s very rare.”Rarer still is the rookie who can garner praise from veterans who say his presence will hone their own skills. “To be able to see him on a day-to-day basis is definitely going to help us,” Jackson said. “But he’s going to pose a challenge for other defenses.”___Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: AP NFL: and read more

GCB/Dave West Indian Imports U-15 tournament… Berbice, Demerara open round 1 with crushing wins

first_imgBy Clifton RossBERBICE skipper Rampertab Ramnauth narrowly missed a ton but his team still crushed the President’s XI team by a whopping 206 runs, as round 1 of the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB)/Dave West Indian Imports U-15 Inter-county 50-Over tourney continues.Round 1 at the GCC ground, Bourda, bowled off with a decent crowd in attendance to see Berbice rack up a daunting total of 286-4 in their 50 overs, batting first.The highlight of the innings was the monumental opening stand of 179 between the skipper and match MVP Ramnauth who hit 94 from 98 with 10 fours and a pair of sixes.His partner at the top of the order, Avishkar Persaud (66) played the anchor role as he managed five fours in the process. Rashad Gafoor (30) and Sanjay Algoo who scored 29 not out, were the other contributors.President’s XI had a tough time bowling to the Berbicians with just two of their bowlers managing to make breakthroughs with a wicket each.The chase never seemed to be threatening as Afazul Kadir, the opener, was the top-scorer for his team with a run-a-ball 18.Vice-Captain Matthew Pottaya was the pick of the bowlers with 2 for 10 from his quota of 10 overs. Support came from Shiv Harripersaud and Kumar Deopersaud, who bagged two wickets apiece to wrap up a one-sided affair.At Lusignan, Demerara opened their account with a crushing win over Essequibo by 7 wickets. All-rounder Nicholas Sheopersaud grabbed 3-11 while Sachin Balgobin also snared 3 wickets as Essequibo folded for 56, with Shazid Mohamed leading with 12.Demerara then made light work of their total as they cruised to 57-3 in 15.4 overs. They lost 3 wickets in the process including opener and top-scorer, Ryan Latif, who had 25.Sheopersaud returned in the end to see his team over the line with an unbeaten 13, copping the Man-of-the-match trophy.last_img read more

Kendricks adds depth to tight end corps

first_imgJEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photoMuch of the preseason hype about the Badgers football team was centered around its deep staple of running backs. Two weeks into the season, it might be time to refocus that attention on the tight ends.With All-American tight end Travis Beckum sitting out the first two games with a hamstring injury, it would be easy to assume a huge hole would be left in the offense. This was clearly not the case, as backups Garrett Graham and Lance Kendricks combined for 198 yards and two touchdowns in the Badgers’ first two games. This performance came as no surprise to tight ends coach Joe Rudolph.“I had confidence that they would go in and do a good job,” Rudolph said.It was easy to have confidence in Graham, a junior, who proved himself as a strong option in the passing game last season with 328 yards and four touchdowns. Kendricks, a redshirt sophomore, was more of an unknown commodity until breaking out against Marshall Saturday with three receptions for 96 yards. Recruited as a receiver, Kendricks made the transition to tight end upon coming to UW. Kendricks’ teammate, Beckum, who played linebacker before converting to tight end, was quick to offer a helping hand.“He said just to listen and pay attention to detail,” Kendricks said. “It was tough at first, as far as blocking and getting used to blocking the heavier guys.”Switching from receiver to tight end brings much more responsibility in blocking, which is important for the Badgers, who emphasize a strong running attack to control the pace of the game.“We’re known to run the ball, so it might be overlooked at times,” Graham said of his role in the passing game.While strong blocking is a key element of UW’s tight ends, their ability to be a factor as pass-catchers has been a very important part of the offense for the Badgers over the last two years. In 2007, Beckum and Graham accounted for 1,320 of UW’s 2,704 receiving yards, an astounding 48 percent. In addition, the duo caught 10 of the 17 touchdown passes thrown by UW last year. While the importance of the tight end in the passing game is easy to see, Graham doesn’t consider that the most important aspect of the position.“I’d say [it’s] being more of a complete tight end, being able to stay in for most of the game,” Graham said. “Being able to block to my best and also being a vertical threat down the field.”Graham practices what he preaches, as he, Kendricks and Mickey Turner have already contributed this season to a game in which the Badgers ran for over 400 yards and another in which they threw for over 300. In a way, the injury to Beckum may have been as much a boon as a bane, as it showcased UW’s depth at the position. With the Badgers employing a new starter in quarterback Allan Evridge, as well as a wide receiver corps that came into the season with under 50 career catches, it’s been important for the tight ends to play well, especially since Beckum has been hurt.“I think it’s definitely an advantage. Whenever you have more players who can play and go in there, it’s always an advantage,” Graham said.His position coach agreed.“The depth there comes forward because guys have had opportunities,” Rudolph said. “You’re able to discover depth when a guy’s got to go. When he steps in and does well, then you feel more secure the next time.”The “next time” in this case likely comes with the return of Beckum, raising the issue of finding ways to use all this depth. While it may be a tricky to find playing time for all of them, it certainly won’t be a problem.“It’ll be fun,” Rudolph said, of having Beckum back in addition to Graham, Kendricks and Turner. “It gives you options, and options are always good. It’ll be fun.”last_img read more

Dodgers done in by Giants’ scratch run in 2-1 loss

first_imgSAN FRANCISCO >> It happens in other towns to other teams. Honestly, it does.It just seems like the San Francisco Giants have a special knack for finding ways to drain the Dodgers of their life blood with a series of paper cuts. The decisive run in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss at AT&T Park is the latest example.“Flare base hit, the wild pitch then (Buster) Posey gets him over and they get him in. They manufactured a run right there,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts recapped. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error But the Dodgers could do no more against Ty Blach, stranding runners at the corners to end that inning. Like Matt Cain a night earlier, Blach seems to save his best for the Dodgers. In four career games against them (three starts), Blach has a 1.17 ERA (three earned runs in 23 innings).So the game was still tied when Belt led off the bottom of the sixth with a ground ball onto the outfield grass. With the Dodgers shifted to the right against the left-handed Belt, Taylor got to the ball but fell to the grass and wasn’t able to make a strong throw to first. Belt was safe.He moved to second on a wild pitch that Austin Barnes couldn’t smother and third when Posey gave himself up, grounding out to the right side. Crawford completed the small-scale vivisection, singling over the drawn-in infield.The Giants were 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position in the game. Crawford’s single was the lone hit and it was the difference on a night when Roberts tried to make a meal out of the leftovers in his fridge.The Dodgers manager elected to sit two slumping left-handed hitters – Corey Seager (.216 in May) and Cody Bellinger (7 for his past 32) – against Blach and also gave Yasmani Grandal (a nine-game hitting streak) the night off in advance of Wednesday’s day game.That left Kike’ Hernandez, Barnes and Yasiel Puig (who dragged a .171 average and .195 slugging percentage against left-handed pitching into the game) to man the middle of the lineup.It was Hernandez’s first start as a cleanup hitter in his professional career (major leagues or minors) and he at least acquitted himself well, going 2 for 4. But the fifth through ninth spots in the Dodgers’ lineup were a black hole that sucked any air out of the offense. Those spots were a combined 0 for 18, including 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position.“Yeah, we didn’t get any production down there tonight,” Roberts said. “In Bellinger’s case, playing left field, Guti (Franklini Gutierrez) had a good night. Then you look at Corey and Kike’ swung the bat well. So those two guys that replaced them, played well.“I don’t know if there’s a whole lot we could have done really.”On the positive side for the Dodgers (who have now lost 20 of their past 26 at AT&T Park), Hill turned in five solidly-calloused innings. After bouncing a 72-mph curveball off Denard Span’s helmet and committing a balk in his first six pitches of the game, Hill allowed just one run on a solo home run by Belt over his five innings, striking out six.“The finger was good so there were no issues there,” said Hill, who went on the DL after each of his previous two starts this season. “It’s just good to get back out there, honestly.”center_img “If you look at some of the quality of contact these first two games, they’ve found some outfield grass when they really haven’t squared the ball up. That’s baseball. But when they do get a guy in scoring position, they manage to manufacture. They do. To their credit, they put the ball in play. You get those guys – Posey and (Brandon) Crawford and (Brandon) Belt – they’ll find a way to put it in play.”A solo home run by Chris Taylor leading off the top of the sixth tied the score at 1-1, Rich Hill and his work-of-friction middle finger having survived five innings in his most recent return from the DL.last_img read more

The fields are alive with the sounds of roundball players

first_imgLet the second half begin.The fields at Lakeside once again have gone from dormant to a beehive of activity as Nelson Youth Soccer kicked off its second half of the 2010 House League season. Nelson Youth Soccer, boasting the largest registration players of all the minor sports groups in the Heritage City, concluded the summer hiatus with games and practices in all age groups last week. Saturday, of course, was the traditional Soccer Saturday with all of the mini players seeing action at the older Lakeside Pitch. The fall season concludes in early October with playoffs in most divisions. The U12 and U 14 girl’s championship matches are set for Thursday, September 30 while the U12 and U14 boy’s title game go Saturday, October 2. Both U17 finals will be played Monday, October 4. All games are set for the Lakeside Pitch. To wrap up the season Nelson Youth Soccer executive is hosting the Fabulous Italian Feast Banquet on Wednesday, October 6. There are two meal gatherings — U10 and U12 divisions are up first followed by U14 and U17 teams. The NYS annual general meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, October 13 at 7 p.m. in the Baker Street Best Western. This is an opportunity for parents and players to shape the future of youth soccer in Nelson.last_img read more

Live Thru Ebola

first_img“Live Thru Ebola” Is a very touchy melodic Message Johantz Wilson and his partner Ash Monique (a 14yr-old aspiring singer from London who now lives in Mount Vernon, the United States); is sending out to everyone that is affected one way or another by this deadly Ebola disease.  In the song, Ash Monique sings while Wilson raps praying for better days to come.This song, which is now making some serious international airwaves and getting a lot of media attention, came as an inspiration to Johantz after he got a phone call from his mother in Liberia telling him he had lost one of his Favorite Cousins to Ebola.  Johantz told LIB Life that his cousin recently died from Ebola and he urges the public not to lose sight of the dangers posed by the virus, in as much as there’s news that the virus is slowing down a little.  He said when he heard his cousin had died from the disease, he became more determined to return to West Africa sooner than he had planned to help those suffering from the Virus.  “It was terrible because when I got the news that Ebola had hit one of my very own, it just kind of shook and tore me up,” said Johantz when he got the call from his mother who still lives in Liberia. “When mom called me that night, all I heard in her voice was, ‘Ebola is killing us, Ebola is killing us.’ She kept repeating that over and over and I was like mom, take it easy, everything is going to be alright.”Wilson says his cousin, 38 year-old Betty Nabgah, left two of her daughters behind after contracting the illness.  “It was disturbing.  It was very hard to take in, you know, and all I kept on doing was hoping and praying that there was going to be better days.”  His main concern now like everyone else is that he prays to see no new cases in the three most affected countries especially his home, Liberia.  He also aims to help create awareness about the problem worldwide. This is why Wilson says he’s working with the American Red Cross to promote a song he wrote and produced.  “The song is basically a message from my heart.”  He added that the song is dedicated to his cousin and hopes it will soothe the hearts of other families that are suffering from all the pain the virus has caused.  “I just knew that what I wrote would make a difference”.Meanwhile, according to Wilson, all of the money the song will raise will go to the America Red Cross, which they’ll use to for the purpose towards the fight against Ebola by checking the spread of the disease in West Africa and worldwide; and help support families who are being affected by the disease.Also speaking on News 12, Paul Shipman of the American Red Cross says, “the song is going to raise awareness about the need to fight Ebola and it’s also going to raise funds.”Wilson is a native of Liberia, born in Buchanan and attended Cathedral Catholic School up till age 12, when he left for the United States in 1982. He still has his mother and other family members who are facing the crisis here in Liberia, not knowing what the outcome will be. He’s a music producer, songwriter, performer and owner of an independent record label Lasmouve Records based in Bridgeport, where he presently lives. Wilson’s record label has been established since 2001.Wilson hopes to be in Liberia within the next year or two after being away for so long. His music, Live Thru Ebola can be found on Youtube via the QR code or on this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Make Integrity Commission a matter of national urgency

first_imgAs time marches on without a functioning Integrity Commission in place, even the governing coalition’s minority partner, the Alliance For Change (AFC) has grown impatient with the slow pace of change.At the conclusion of the National Executive Council (NEC) over the weekend, the minority party demanded, in a statement, that the Integrity Commission be treated as a matter of national priority.For years, the Integrity Commission has been in limboNoting that it remained fully committed to its role in the advancement of constitutional reform in Guyana, the AFC called for the establishment of the Integrity Commission by the Government – of which a number of its own members are a part.Guyana Times made contact with AFC executive and Public Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes. However, she declined to comment on the AFC’s role in the process. Calls to other AFC Ministers went unanswered.The history of the Integrity Commission is a tempestuous one. In 1999, the previous Government had sworn in members to the Commission. But since the 2006 resignation of the Commission’s Chairman, Bishop Randolph George, the body has been headless.In January 2016, Government used its one-seat parliamentary majority to turn down a motion tabled by the Opposition that would provide for all Members of Parliament (MPs) making public declarations of taxable income and all assets over the last 10 years to the Integrity Commission which would be released to the public.The coalition had noted that it was not in favour of the public declaration, and would prefer to make such disclosures to the Integrity Commission instead. It had said that such a move would violate the privacy of members.In defeating the motion, the Government MPs had proposed amendments to the motion for the National Assembly to support the enforcement of the legal requirement for all MPs to file their Income Tax returns and make declarations to the Integrity Commission.However, that proposal was protested by the Opposition and eventually resulted in MP Juan Edghill calling for his motion to be withdrawn, arguing that the amendments significantly changed the intent of the original motion. But the coalition MPs declined the withdrawal request and at the end of the debate, succeeded in passing the amended motion.While there is no functioning Integrity Commission, a ministerial Code of Conduct was gazetted in June of this year. The Code of Conduct is made up of 11 Articles. Article One prohibits public officials from taking bribes, while Article Two focuses on discrimination.Article Three prohibits public officials from accepting “any gift, benefit or advantage from anyone, (except) personal gifts from a relative or friend”. This provision, it states, does not apply to gifts received on behalf of the State.Article Five states: “No public (official) shall use his or her official influence in support of any scheme or in furtherance of any contract or proposed contract or other matter in regard to which he or she has an interest.”Article Six has provisions for ensuring confidentiality. It prohibits public officials from disclosing any information that is classified as privileged or confidential, to any unauthorised person. Article Seven prohibits officials from using public property such as money, equipment, supplies or services for unapproved purposes.Article Nine prohibits public officials from accepting “lavish or frequent entertainment” from any person or entity that the Government has or may have dealings with. This, the Article notes, includes invitations to sporting events and concerts.Article 10 prohibits officials from using their office in an improper manner for personal gain, while the final article forbids anyone in public life from having outside employment “except with the written consent of the relevant authority”.last_img read more