LONDON, March 23, 2017: A global tobacco treaty put in place in 2005 has helped reduce smoking rates by 2.5 percent worldwide in 10 years, researchers said Tuesday, but use of deadly tobacco products could be cut even further with more work on anti-smoking policies.
In a study published in the Lancet Public Health journal, researchers from Canada’s University of Waterloo and the World Health Organization (WHO) found that while progress against what they called the “global tobacco epidemic” has been substantial, it has still fallen short of the pace called for by the treaty.
The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which came into effect in 2005, obliges the 180 countries signed up to have high tobacco taxes, smoke-free public spaces, warning labels, comprehensive advertising bans and support for stop-smoking services.
NewsGram brings to you current foreign news from all over the world.
Smoking causes lung cancer and is a major risk factor for cardiovascular illnesses such as heart disease and strokes, which kill more people than any other diseases.
The WHO says tobacco kills about six million people a year globally and imposes a huge burden on the world economy. Annual health care and lost productivity costs for those made ill from smoking are estimated at around $1 trillion.
The study analyzed WHO data from 126 countries — 116 of which are signatories to the FCTC — and tracked and compared the implementation of the five key measures from 2007 to 2014 to look at links between strong policies and smoking rates.
It found that, on average, smoking rates dropped to 22.2 percent in 2015 from 24.7 a decade earlier. But the trends varied, with rates falling in 90 countries, rising in 24 and remaining steady in 12.
Countries that fully implemented more FCTC measures saw significantly greater reductions in smoking rates, the study found. Overall, each additional measure was linked with a drop in smoking rates of 1.57 percentage points — corresponding to 7.1 percent fewer smokers in 2015 compared with in 2005.
NewsGram brings to you top news around the world today.
The study was not a full global analysis, since only 65 percent of countries had the data needed, but it did include countries from all income levels and regions. The researchers also noted that the lower smoking rates could be influenced by factors other than FCTC policy recommendations.
“The data did not allow a detailed analysis of the impact of individual policies,” said Geoffrey Fong of Waterloo University, who co-led the work.
He called for more studies that are specifically designed to evaluate the impact of all FCTC policies and would “help provide guidance to countries about what policies may offer the greatest benefits.” (VOA)
New York, September 20, 2017: People living with HIV who adhere to antiretroviral therapy, but smoke tobacco cigarettes are more likely to die from lung cancer than from AIDS, a study led by an Indian-origin researcher has revealed.
The findings showed that overall people with HIV who take antiviral medicines, but who also smoke are six to 13 times more likely to die from lung cancer than from HIV/AIDS, depending on the intensity of smoking and their sex.
“Smoking and HIV are a particularly bad combination when it comes to lung cancer,” said lead author Krishna Reddy, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).
“Lung cancer is now one of the leading killers of people with HIV, but most of these deaths can be prevented,” added Rochelle Walensky, Professor at Harvard Medical School.
Among men who continued to be heavy smokers, an estimated 29 percent would die of lung cancer by age 80, as would 23 per cent of moderate smokers and 19 per cent of light smokers.
For women who continued to be heavy smokers, an estimated 29 percent would die of lung cancer by age 80, as would 21 per cent of moderate smokers and 17 per cent of light smokers.
“The data tell us that now is the time for action: smoking cessation programmes should be integrated into HIV care just like antiviral therapy,” Reddy said in the paper published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
However, among those who managed to quit smoking at age 40, only about six per cent die of lung cancer.
“Quitting smoking is one of the most important things that people with HIV can do to improve their health and live longer,” suggested Travis Baggett, Assistant Professor at the Harvard Medical School.
Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups
Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops
In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS
June 25, 2017: The Islamic State group is rapidly expanding in parts of Afghanistan, advancing militarily into areas where it once had a weak presence and strengthening its forces in core regions, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.
Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups.
Attacking IS has become such a priority in the country, that disparate forces sometimes join together in the ad-hoc fight, with Afghan and U.S. forces finding themselves inadvertently supporting the enemy Taliban in battling IS.
Confusion leads to mistakes
All too often, officials say, mistakes are made due to confusion on the ground.
Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops, provincial police chief, Rahmatullah Turkistani told VOA. The supplies were meant to help Afghan forces that are countering twin attacks by IS and Taliban militants but were used instead by IS.
“It’s not getting better in Afghanistan in terms of IS,” U.S. Chief Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White told VOA this week. “We have a problem, and we have to defeat them and we have to be focused on that problem.”
Reinforcements for the IS cause reportedly are streaming into isolated areas of the country from far and wide. There are reports of fighters from varied nationalities joining the ranks, including militants from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Central Asian neighbors.
Still, the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) as IS is known in Afghanistan remains a fragmented group composed of differing regional forces with different agendas in different parts of the country.
“IS-K is still conducting low-level recruiting and distribution of propaganda in various provinces across Afghanistan, but it does not have the ability or authority to conduct multiple operations across the country,” a recent Pentagon report said. But where it operates, IS is inflicting chaos and casualties and causing confusing scenarios for disparate opponents.
In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS. IS regained ground after a few days, leading to U.S. military air attacks on IS positions in conjunction with Afghan intelligence instructions and army operations.
IS fighters reportedly have fled from mountain caves of Tora Bora, where al-Qaida’s leader Osama bin Laden hid from U.S. attack in 2001.
IS fighters were also reportedly advancing in neighboring Khogyani district, displacing hundreds of families, according to district officials. It is one of several areas in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border, where IS has been active for over two years.
Fierce clashes in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar last month left 21 Taliban fighters and seven IS militants dead, according to a provincial spokesman. At least three civilians who were caught in the crossfire were killed and five others wounded.
“IS has overpowered Taliban in some parts of Nangarhar because the Taliban dispatched its elite commando force called Sara Qeta (Red Brigade) to other parts of the country, including some northern provinces to contain the growing influence of IS there,” Wahid Muzhda, a Taliban expert in Kabul, told VOA.
IS has also expanded in neighboring Kunar province, where, according to provincial police chief, it has a presence in at least eight districts and runs a training base, where foreign members of IS, train new recruits.
Hundreds of miles from Nangarhar, IS is attempting to establish a persistent presence in several northern provinces where it has found a fertile ground for attracting militants and recruiting unemployed youths, mostly between the age of 13 and 20.
IS has been able to draw its members from the Pakistani Taliban fighters, former Afghan Taliban, and other militants who “believe that associating with or pledging allegiance” to IS will further their interests, according to the Pentagon report.
Hundreds of militants have joined IS ranks in northern Jouzjan and Sar-e-Pul province where local militant commanders lead IS-affiliate groups in several districts.
Qari Hekmat, an ethnic Uzbek and former Taliban militant who joined IS a year ago, claims to have up to 500 members, including around 50 Uzbek nationals who are affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — previously associated with al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.
IS and Taliban are reportedly fighting over the control of Darzab district in Jouzjan which they stormed this week from two different directions and besieged scores of government forces. The Taliban has reportedly captured the center of the district while IS militants control the city outskirts.
Afghanistan faces a continuing threat from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks present or operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including IS, the Pentagon said.
“In areas where the government has limited influence and control, IS attempts to emerge and expand there,” Ateequllah Amarkhail, an analysts and former Army general in Kabul told VOA.
IS has also claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in urban areas, however, with a hit-and-hide strategy that is proving effective. And it is engaging too in more skirmishes with U.S. forces that initially were sent to the country to help Afghan forces halt the spread of Taliban.
Three American service members based in eastern Afghanistan were killed in April during operations targeting IS militants, according to the Pentagon.
“ISIS-K remains a threat to Afghan and regional security, a threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and it retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers,” the Pentagon said. (VOA)
An orbiting satellite has sent the first entangled pair of photons to Earth
It is a big step towards achieving a secure and developed way to encrypt communications
They can not be cracked by ever-improving computer algorithms
June 18, 2017: It was reported by scientists today that an orbiting satellite has sent the first entangled pair of photons to Earth. It is a big step towards sending quantum keys from satellites — an approach that has been heralded as a secure and developed way to encrypt communications because ever-improving computer algorithms can not crack them.
A laser on China’s Micius satellite, which was launched last year and is dedicated to researches related to quantum satellite communications, spit out pairs of entangled photons from its position, 500 km above Earth. Then two telescopes on Earth – about 1200 km apart — had 5 minutes each day to look for them as the satellite passed over both telescopes. It was found that paired photons survived the journey through Earth’s atmosphere. They detected 1 entangled pair per second out of the 6 million sent in that time.
So how exactly does all this work?
A quantum key needs to be generated first by two people who are looking to communicate. Then, one person receives one of the entangled photons in the pair, the other person receives the other. When the received photons have measured the photons, they obtain bits of information strung together to create a key that they both have. That key can be used to encrypt and decrypt a message. The users can also share a portion of the key publicly to check if it has been compromised. In case if someone tries to intercept the communication at any point, they would then notice a difference between their strings.
There is a certain set of problems as well. Caltech’s John Preskill believes even though it is an important proof of concept, the feat doesn’t address one of the biggest problems with quantum communications. Currently, these messages can’t be sent long distances. Photons, using an optical fiber to carry a quantum signal, can only make it about 100 km before the dissipation of the light.
Quantum systems are similar to optical telecommunications here on earth and need repeaters that are able to amplify the message so it can be passed long distances. But amplifying a quantum message in the same way optical ones are done would effectively result in the destruction of the information. That is why satellite-based communication are being eyed by researchers. The reported 500 km from space is an improvement over optical. Quantum signals were measured in another study published today from a satellite 38,000 km away to a single point. But in deploying a global network which would likely be able to combine optical fiber and satellites, the repeater problem still stands.
Preskill has predicted that it is more likely we will first come up with another form of encryption for communication. “There will be other ways of doing classical public key cryptosystems that we won’t know how to break with quantum computers,” he added.
– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang