Secrecy law deals major blow to public’s right to be informed

first_img Reports HondurasAmericas The imprecise, discretionary and hastily-approved Law on Secret Information that the Honduran parliament adopted on 13 January constitutes a major new blow to freedom of information in one of the western hemisphere’s most dangerous countries for news and information providers.Reporters Without Borders hopes that this law, which turns state-held information into a private reserve, will be overturned on the grounds of unconstitutionality.“This law strips the Institute for Access to Public Information (IAIP) of all the powers that are the very reason for its existence, namely, determining and justifying the classification of information of public interest,” Reporters Without Borders said. “These powers have been indiscriminately transferred to each state agency, which will be able to classify information as secret without having to account their decisions. We can only repeat IAIP president Doris Madrid’s objections. How much power will citizens now have for challenging the actions and decisions of public authorities? On the basis of what specific imperative will information be ‘restricted’ under the new law?“Even the way this parliamentary initiative was adopted raises questions. Dangerous in content and contrary to international law, including the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, it is a political disaster coming as it does less than two months after the controversial general elections.”Submitted to the National Congress by Rodolfo Zelaya, a representative of conservative right National Party, and passed with virtually no debate, the law states:“Any information, documentation or material relating to the internal strategic framework of state agencies and whose revelation, if made publicly available, could produce undesirable institutional effects on the effective development of state policies or the normal functioning of public sector entities, is restricted. The power to impose this classification lies with the representative of each state entity.”Valid for five years, a “restricted” classification can be imposed unilaterally by both centralized and decentralized government entities. They also have the power to classify information as “confidential” for ten years in cases of “imminent risk or direct threat to public security and order.”A third “secret” classification for 15 years can be imposed by the National Defence and Security Council in such cases as possible threats to “constitutional order.” The Honduran president has the power to classify information as “ultrasecret” for 25 years in cases of “direct threat to territorial integrity and sovereignty.”Honduras is one of the hemisphere’s deadliest countries for journalists, with a total of 38 killed in the past decade, two thirds of them since the June 2009 coup d’état. RSF_en December 28, 2020 Find out more RSF begins research into mechanisms for protecting journalists in Latin America January 16, 2014 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Secrecy law deals major blow to public’s right to be informed Help by sharing this information to go further RSF’s 2020 Round-up: 50 journalists killed, two-thirds in countries “at peace” Newscenter_img May 13, 2021 Find out more Follow the news on Honduras News 2011-2020: A study of journalist murders in Latin America confirms the importance of strengthening protection policies News April 27, 2021 Find out more Organisation Receive email alerts HondurasAmericas last_img read more

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Pioneering a ‘staple’ approach for treating COVID-19

first_imgStrategies to bar the coronavirus (COVID-19) from entering cells — thereby preventing infection and averting transmission of the virus — are among the most promising treatment approaches to COVID-19. Everything from antibodies to specially made snippets of RNA are being mustered in the effort to develop a safe and effective coronavirus blocker.An approach notable for its ingenuity — and the fact that it has proven successful in other types of viruses — has been pioneered by Loren Walensky a pediatric oncologist and chemical biologist at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders, and his colleagues. Using what are known as stapled peptides, the approach seeks to jam the “landing gear” that the virus uses to fuse to the cells of the human respiratory system.The new virus consists of a short coil of RNA wrapped in a protein envelope that includes stalk-like projections resembling points on a crown. A key surface protein “contains a series of coiled sections known as alpha helices,” Walensky said. “The virus deploys three of these helices to overlap with three others to form a six-helix bundle that fuses with the human cell membrane, allowing the virus to penetrate and infect the cell.“Our approach is to make a ‘decoy’ helix that slips between the two groups of helices to prevent the bundle from assembling,” he said.The decoy consists of a stapled peptide. Peptides are short chains of amino acids — not long enough to be full-fledged proteins — but can interact with proteins to modulate a variety of cellular functions.“One advantage of using peptides is that they are nature’s solution to targeting proteins,” Walensky said.Early attempts to use natural peptides as therapies faced obstacles because the peptides can lose their shape and get degraded rapidly once injected into the body.A chemistry-based solution was to reinforce peptides with hydrocarbon “staples.” In 2010, Walensky and his associates showed that a stapled peptide could effectively target the fusion apparatus used by HIV-1, the virus that causes AIDS.Because many other viral families — including those of the RSV, SARS, MERS, and Ebola viruses, as well as the novel coronavirus — use the same fusion mechanism, there are valid reasons for believing this approach will work against them as well.“As we previously demonstrated for the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), our newly designed stapled peptides targeting the novel coronavirus’ helical bundle may be effective both as a way to prevent infection as well as to block the spread of infection to the lungs in people with established infection,” Walensky said.Experiments are currently underway to test the Walensky lab’s peptides against the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.last_img read more

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Badgers split in opening weekend

first_imgThe No. 1-ranked Wisconsin women’s hockey team played its season opening series this weekend, fighting to a 1-1 split against a tough Minnesota-Duluth team.The Badgers won Sunday’s game at the Kohl Center in dramatic fashion with a 4–3 overtime victory. With UW trailing 3–2 in the third period, freshman forward Tia Hanson scored her first goal as a Badger when she put a loose rebound into the net, tying the score at 3–3 with less than four minutes remaining.Wisconsin completed the comeback victory just 53 seconds into the overtime period. With the two teams playing four-on-four due to offsetting penalties, Badgers’ forward Sara Bauer deflected defenseman Bobbi-Jo Slusar’s shot from the point for the winning goal. It was Bauer’s first goal of the season, with assists on the winning goal being credited to Slusar and forward Jinelle Zaugg.Much of the game, however, didn’t go the Badgers’ way. After freshman forward Erika Lawler scored her first career goal on a breakaway for the Badgers, the Bulldogs responded with a pair of goals before the end of the period.A slap shot from the stick of Bulldogs’ forward Michaela Lanzl tied the game at the 14:19 mark of the first period, and then defenseman Rachael Drazan put the Bulldogs ahead a little more than two and a half minutes later with an even-strength goal.Drazan threw a weak, fluttering shot on goal. Screened by her own defense, the Badgers’ senior goaltender Meghan Horras was unable to see the puck until it had reached the back of the net for a Bulldog goal.The Badgers dodged a bullet in the middle of the third period while trying to come back from the 3-2 deficit. The Bulldogs launched a barrage of shots, three of which hit the pipe in the span of just two minutes. Fortunately for UW, none of the shots reached the back of the net. This seemed to be the turning point of the game, as the Badgers used that fortune to shift the momentum in their favor and score the final two goals.In contrast to Sunday’s victory, Saturday’s game was a game of missed opportunities and hard luck. The Badgers lost 5-2 despite out-shooting the Bulldogs 36 to 25 in addition to receiving 16 minutes of powerplay time. With the game tied 2-2 at the start of the third period, UW freshman forward Kayla Hagan missed a penalty shot, which was promptly followed by an injury to junior forward Meaghan Mikkelson. Bulldogs’ forward Micheala Lanzl received a two minute penalty for cross-checking Mikkelson, who went hard into the boards. She left Saturday’s game after taking several minutes to get up off the ice and was unable to play Sunday.”[Mikkelson] won’t be around for a while,” head coach Mark Johnson said. “That’s obviously a hole we had to fill tonight and [she’s] somebody that we’ll miss, but that’s part of our business and part of our game. But she’ll be out for a little while.”Due to the penalty on Lanzl and an unrelated penalty, the Badgers received a minute and a half of a five-on-three advantage, but were unable to convert the opportunity into goals. The momentum then shifted to the Bulldogs, who scored an ensuing powerplay goal and even-strength goal less than two minutes apart, making the score 4-2. They would also add an open-net goal in the closing seconds of the period after Bauer was robbed by Bulldogs’ goalie Riitta Schaublin.Despite the disappointing loss Saturday, Johnson was quick to point to the bright sides of both games, finding reason for optimism going into next weekend’s home match-up against Vermont.”The whole thing is about seeing who likes playing against the competition and we played six young players tonight and last night,” Johnson said. “So hopefully we’ll be able to roll from this, and they [the Bulldogs] are one of the better teams in the country. Last night [Saturday] was a very good game … I thought we played well; I thought our powerplay did not do well.””Tonight [Sunday] was sort of a different game. Both teams played well at certain points and we were able to make a comeback and win it in overtime so hopefully that will springboard toward our next game.”last_img read more

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