Thursday, May 31, 2007

microbicides : better news

Reuters Health (May 30) reports some good news on the microbicide front in

Small-Molecule Entry Inhibitor Directly Inactivates HIV-1

A study in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, by Dr. Yen T. Duong from University of California - Davis and colleagues, reports the small-molecule entry inhibitor DCM205 binds to an HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein and directly inactivates the virus.

DCM205 potently and selectively inhibits HIV-1 NL4-3 and blocks an early stage of the replication cycle. They also investigated the ability of DCM205 to interfere with HIV-1 infectivity in vitro.

DCM205 bound tightly, and apparently irreversibly, to the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein gp120, preventing the infectivity of HIV-1.

"DCM205 is a prototype for a new class of small-molecule entry inhibitors that can disarm HIV-1 by direct inactivation through a specific interaction with gp120 without the presence of a cellular target," the authors conclude. "These characteristics make this approach particularly promising for the development of DCM205 as a topical microbicide."


Direct Inactivation of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 by a Novel Small-Molecule Entry Inhibitor, DCM205
Yen T. Duong et al
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, May 2007, p. 1780-1786, Vol. 51, No. 5

Link to AAC abstract

Link to Reuter’s Report via Medscape [registration required]


Secrets: Cheney's Visitors

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

HIV and lung cancer

Michael Carter, writing for Aidsmap (May 29, 2007) in

HIV contributes to lung cancer risk, independent of smoking

reports HIV-positive individuals have a significantly increased risk of dying of lung cancer, and this increased risk of death is independent of smoking, according to US research published in Clinical Infectious Diseases. The investigators point to evidence that pre-existing lung diseases, including non-infectious ones, such as asthma, may be a possible explanation of their finding.

Although it is not considered an AIDS-defining condition, lung cancer is the third most common malignancy (after the AIDS-defining cancers, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Kaposi’s sarcoma) seen in people with HIV in the US. Several epidemiological studies have shown an increased risk of lung cancer amongst HIV-positive individuals. Thanks to potent antiretroviral therapy the number of deaths caused by HIV has declined sharply in recent years, but it is thought that this reduction in HIV-related deaths could mean that there is an increase in the amount of illness and death caused by lung cancer in HIV-positive patients.

Investigators from the ALIVE study (AIDS Link to the Intravenous Experience) examined the association between HIV infection and lung cancer death, taking into account smoking..

The investigators commented:
“We present strong evidence that HIV infection contributes to lung cancer, independent of smoking, after adjusting for individual smoking exposure, we identified a statistically significant elevation for lung cancer risk associated with smoking.”

Possible explanations offered for this increased risk of lung cancer for HIV-positive patients are: a cancer-causing role for HIV itself; immune damage caused by HIV; lung damage from concurrent and recurrent lung disease leaving HIV-positive individuals more vulnerable to lung cancer; and, HIV increasing an individual’s susceptibility to the cancer-causing effects of tobacco.

The investigators found their findings consistent with the third of these explanations as “we found trends of increased lung cancer risk with all categories of pre-existing lung disease, particularly non-infectious diseases, such as asthma.”

They conclude, “our data support the hypothesis that HIV infection increases lung cancer risk and provide evidence that this effect is independent of smoking effect.”


HIV infection is associated with an increased risk of lung cancer, independent of smoking. Gregory D. Kirk et al
Clinical Infectious Diseases 2007;45:000

CID .abstract

Link to Aidsmap article

Opt out testing

Gay365 News carries th Associated Press story (May 30, 2007)

UN Offers New HIV Testing

covering the new recommendations by the World Health Organization and UNAIDS that health professionals should routinely offer to test people for HIV instead of waiting for patients to request it. This underlines the need to identify the millions worldwide who need treatment. WHO estimates that approximately 80% of HIV-positive people in developing countries are currently unaware of their status.

The UN currently advises health workers to test patients for HIV as part of standard medical care, but only with the patient's informed consent.

According to Aidsmap's coverage, WHO and UNAIDS are stressing that HIV testing must remain voluntary and should be confidential and supported by pre- and post-test counselling.

The UN estimates that the fight against AIDS in 2007-2008 requires $22 billion, and there is still a considerable shortfall. Last year, the deficit for global AIDS programs was about $6 billion.

While health authorities would like to see the new UN recommendations adopted as soon as possible, much will depend on whether countries decide to follow their advice.

Link to .365gay news report

Link to Aidsmap Report

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Second Hand Smoke

Many on line sites are already carrying the wire services reports (Tue May 29) that

WHO urges smoking ban in public places

From Geneva the World Health Organization has called for a global ban on smoking at work and in enclosed public places. The United Nations agency said a ban would help limit non-smokers' exposure to second-hand smoke, which can kill through heart disease and serious respiratory and cardiovascular illness.

"The evidence is clear, there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke," said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan in a statement ahead of World No Tobacco Day which will be observed on Thursday for the 18th year.

A number of EU countries, including France, Spain, Ireland and Portugal are among those to have already introduced such bans. New Zealand, Bermuda, Uruguay, and parts of Australia, Canada and the United States have banned smoking in public places

The WHO says its recommendation is based on three studies on second-hand smoke, two in the United States and one by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

The WHO said some 200,000 workers die each year due to exposure to tobacco smoke at work, while around 700 million children, around half the world's total, breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke, particularly in the home. It says that tobacco is the leading cause of preventable deaths worldwide. The number of smokers is rising rapidly in developing countries.

Member countries of an international treaty against smoking, the 2003 WHO-backed Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, are due to discuss guidelines on exposure to second-hand smoke at a meeting in Bangkok starting on June 30.

Link to Reuters report

"Second hand smokes you"

Eric Nagourney writing in the New York Times Health Section -Vital Signs (May 29, 2007) in

At Risk: Where Smokers Congregate Outside Bars, a Cloud Hovers

Wonders now that smokers have been pushed out of many bars and restaurants to mill about the door, is it time to send them packing altogether?

The preliminary findings, presented at a recent conference of the American Thoracic Society, of a new study suggest that the haze produced by the crowds of outcasts also affects the health of nonsmokers. The research, led by Luke Naeher of the University of Georgia, was intended mainly to help design more extensive study into whether the outdoor secondhand smoke poses a real risk.

The researchers conducted the study summer weekends in Athens, Ga., a bustling college town with more than 100 pubs and restaurants. Athens put a full ban on smoking in bars into effect in 2005.

The researchers measured two components of secondhand smoke, carbon monoxide and particulate matter. Having tested the air in front of five locations, with and without smokers, on four day, they found the level of pollutants outside the bars and restaurants was elevated, even after controlling for carbon monoxide and particulates in the exhaust from passing motor vehicles.

Link to NY Times article

Party & Play . . .

Michael Carter, writing for Aidsmap (May 29, 2007) in

Gay men who use methamphetamine have greater risk of HIV seroconversion

Reports that use of crystal meth) by gay men is associated with unprotected sex and HIV seroconversion, according to two recently published American studies.

Investigators from the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) found that gay men who used crystal and poppers during sex, and who had unprotected sex with five or more partners had an extremely high risk of contracting HIV. Their findings are published in the May 1st edition of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.

A smaller study involving gay men in California, published in the June edition of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, also found a clear association between the use of crystal and an increased risk of infection with HIV. These investigators also found that methamphetamine use often occurred alongside the use of other substances.


The relationship between methamphetamine and popper use and risk of HIV seroconversion in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study.
Plankey, Michael W et al
Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. 45(1):85-92, May 1, 2007

Link to JAIDS abstract

Drumright LN et al. Unprotected anal intercourse and substance use before and after HIV diagnosis among recently HIV-infected men who have sex with men.
Drumright, Lydia N. et al
Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 34(6):401-407, June 2007.

Link to STD abstract.

Link to Aidsmap article

Resistant TB closer & closer

The BBC News on line reports

US in TB flight infection warning

US health officials have quarantined a man who may have exposed passengers on board two trans-Atlantic flights to a dangerous form of tuberculosis. The CDC has identified the illness as "extensively drug-resistant TB". Crew and passengers on the same flights, from Atlanta to Paris and from Prague to Montreal this month are being checked for the infection.

The infected man traveled from Atlanta to Paris on 12 May on Air France flight 385. He returned to the North America on CSA flight 104 on 24 May from Prague to Montreal .He continued his journey in the US by car and is now under quarantine in hospital, according to the WHO. This is he first such federal quarantine order to be issued in over 44 years. The last such order was issued in 1963, to quarantine a patient with smallpox, according to the CDC.

Link to BBC report

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Last History Lesson of the season

Ooh, Vicar!

While the rest of the Episcopal Church seems to be focusing on who Rowan will be inviting (or not!) to his Lambeth soiree at next year, at least someone is speaking out about relevant issues.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called on Africa's Anglican Church to overcome its "obsession" with the issue of gay priests and same-sex marriages. He said they should spend time on more pressing issues in the region. He told the BBC World Service, the that Zimbabwe, HIV/Aids and the crisis in Darfur were not getting sufficient attention. Zimbabwe's Anglican church also lacks courage to stand up to President Robert Mugabe's regime, he said. Not that the rest of Africa nor the Anglican Communion as a whole are doing much better

In his usual forthright manner, Archbishop Tutu told the BBC that the Anglican communion was spending too much of its time and energy on debating differences over gay priests and same sex marriages - a subject, he said, that had now become "an extraordinary obsession". As he put it, "We've, it seems to me, been fiddling whilst as it were our Rome was burning. At a time when our continent has been groaning under the burden of HIV/Aids, of corruption. There are so many issues crying out for concern and application by the church of its resources, and here we are, I mean, with this kind of extraordinary obsession."

Link to BBC News story

A visit to Llandewi Breffi

Saturday, May 26, 2007

School Daze

HIV / HEP C coinfection

Michael Carter, writing for Aidsmap (May 25, 2007) warns there is

Further evidence that HIV/hepatitis C coinfected patients have poorer immunological response to HIV therapy

Hepatitis C coinfection is associated with lower CD4 cell counts and CD4 cell percentages in HIV-positive patients who are fully adherent to their antiretroviral treatment regimens, a US study published in the May edition of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research has found. The investigators believe that their findings have important clinical implications for the timing of both anti-hepatitis C treatment and antiretroviral therapy in coinfected individuals.

A significant number of HIV-positive individuals are coinfected with hepatitis C virus, with estimates in the US ranging from 15% to 30%. The impact of hepatitis C virus on HIV disease progression is a controversial subject. Although data from the large Swiss HIV cohort indicated that coinfected individuals experienced more rapid HIV disease progression, this finding was not supported by a large US study.

Investigators therefore wished to test the hypothesis that hepatitis C infection had an adverse effect on CD4 cell count, CD4 cell percentage and HIV viral load in a cohort of HIV-positive individuals taking antiretroviral therapy who had alcohol problems.

The study found “the observation of a lower CD4 cell count in patients with HCV infection that were receiving and adherent to antiretroviral therapy is of particular interest” as it is consistent with the findings from the Swiss HIV cohort that found that individuals with hepatitis C infection had a blunted recovery in CD4 cell count after initiating HIV therapy compared to those without hepatitis C. The investigators speculate that hepatitis C may have a direct effect on CD4 cells.

“This study’s findings have important implications for understanding the optimal management…for coinfected patients”, and the investigators believe that they “strengthen the argument to initiate HCV therapy early in the course of HIV disease. These findings may also support the earlier induction of antiretroviral therapy in coinfected individuals to both offset the negative impact of HIV on HCV disease progression and the potentially negative impact of HCV on CD4 cell recovery.”


Impact of Hepatitis C on HIV Progression in Adults With Alcohol Problems
Debbie M. Cheng et al
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 31 (5), 829–836.

Link to Alcoholism abstract

Clinical progression, survival, and immune recovery during antiretroviral therapy in patients with HIV-1 and hepatitis C virus coinfection: the Swiss HIV Cohort Study
Greub G, et al
The Lancet - Vol. 356, Issue 9244, 25 November 2000, Pages 1800-1805

Link to The Lancet citation [registration required]

Hepatitis C and Progression of HIV Disease
Mark S. Sulkowski, et al
Journal of the American Medical Association 2002; 288:199-206

Link to JAMA abstract

Link to Aidsmap article

Crocodile tears . . . your children . . . poop

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Clock keeps on ticking

I don't get it!
The total said 40,187,184 when we looked last month
and its only gone up to 40,317,075
Anyway, I thought the number was 25 million dead.

Oh, dad do the math!
It's showing the number of people living with HIV
Someone is infected every 6 1/2 seconds
But someone dies very 10 seconds

Unless you live in Seattle coz they say the rules don't apply there.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Dog Heaven

Oh to be young . . . .

Andy Coghlan’s article from the New Scientist (19 – 25 May 2007 titled

Young and moody or mentally ill?

appears on line as

Bipolar children - is the US over diagnosing?

It explores the issue of why so many American children are being diagnosed with bipolar disorder (which used to be called manic depression)

As the edition's editorial points out, when the prevalence of a medical condition leaps fivefold in eight years and it is not an infectious disease, something strange is going on. Though this has happened to childhood bipolar disorder in the US, this is not found in other countries and there is no consensus among US doctors over the cause of the rise.

Until a decade ago it was an exclusively adult disease whose diagnosis required serious symptoms, including hospitalization for mania. Today in the US children as young as 3 are being diagnosed, often based on the observations of worried parents.

Suggested reasons for the rise are many and contentious. They range from a broadening of the definition of bipolar disorder, to the trend of viewing everyday behavioral difficulties as a medical problem.

The editorial makes the point:

"There is plenty of misdiagnosis going on. One US pediatric psychiatrist told the New Scientist that only 18% of children referred for a second opinion actually had bipolar disorder".

The article itself includes a section:


Link to New Scientist article


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

POZ Examines PrEP

Adam Graham-Silverman writing for the June issue of POZ in

Jagged Little Pills

explores pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) -- the practice of HIV-negative people taking antiretroviral drugs before potential exposure to the virus -- as a method of HIV prevention.

POZ suggests PrEP "seems to present one of the most promising fronts in prevention research," but the "biggest barrier" to studying the effects of PrEP has been the "inevitable ethical dilemmas involved in human PrEP trials, in which the placebo group must risk exposure to HIV to prove efficacy."

Link to Poz article

Abbott Laboratories make their point - at what cost?

Darren Schuettler writing for Reuters Health (2007-05-22) reports from Bangkok

Thai AIDS patients suffer as drug squabble drags on

Each morning, Somying waits on the canal near her Bangkok slum for the iceboat that has become her lifeline. "It's expensive but I need ice every day," the 33-year-old said of the 12 baht ($0.37) purchase that keeps her lifesaving AIDS drug, Kaletra, from perishing in hot season temperatures nearing 40 degrees centigrade (104 F)

A version that does not need refrigeration is available in the United States and some African countries hard hit by AIDS, but not in Thailand where the army-backed government is embroiled in a patent dispute with its maker, U.S. pharmaceutical giant Abbott Laboratories.

Abbott will not register the new version, Aluvia, until Bangkok renounces its January decision to invoke a compulsory license under world trade rules which allow governments to make or buy copycat versions of drugs for public health measures.

Thailand, which has taken similar action on another AIDS drug and a heart disease medicine in what it says is a bid to widen access for its poor, wants Abbott to cut its prices more.

The company is sticking to its last offer of $1,000 per patient a year, down from $2,200, but higher than generic versions available for $695.Of the 8,000 Thais who need Kaletra, a so-called second-line drug for people who develop resistance to initial treatment, only 600 are receiving the drug -- and the older version at that.

A former AIDS hotspot, Thailand has won praise for reducing infections and expanding drug treatment to 100,000 of the 580,000 Thais living with AIDS. But it now faces budget pressures as more people need treatment, including expensive second-line drugs.

Link to Reuters Health report

The Global Fund

Will Dunham reports for Reuters (May 22, 2007) in

One million people get AIDS drugs via Global Fund

The Global Fund in its 5-year struggle bringing together international efforts to combat the three major diseases said on Tuesday more than a million HIV-infected people have received life-extending drugs thanks to the work

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, was launched by the Group of 8 industrialized nations and financed largely by the U.S. and European governments and is working in some 136 countries.

As of May 1 between 1 million and 1.1 million people had received AIDS drugs through its efforts, up from 544,000 a year ago.

The number of TB cases treated also doubled from a year ago and the number getting insecticide-treated nets to protect against mosquito spread malaria more than doubled.

More than 25 million people have died of AIDS since it was first recognized about a quarter century ago. About 40 million are now infected with HIV.

Malaria kills about a million people annually, mostly young children.

Tuberculosis kills an estimated 1.6 million people a year.

The Global Fund released this information in anticipation of the up coming meeting of G8 Heads of State in Germany in June. Let us hope that their support - particularly financial - will continue.

Link to Reuters article

Link to The Global Fund Press Release

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Peter Brookes - The Times

Hep C "Cure"

The BBC News on line reports

Hepatitis C drugs provide 'cure'

This is one report of the story covered by various sources and is based on the presentation yesterday at the 38th annual Digestive Disease Week conference, Washington, D.C which explains that people infected with hepatitis C can be cured with existing treatments.

Standard therapy with pegylated interferon and ribavirin removed all detectable virus in 99% of patients for up to seven years. The treatments were known to work initially but it had been unclear whether the virus would come back. Even though it was good news for patients, some still suffer from painful symptoms.

Professor Mitchell Shiffman, chief of hepatology at the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical School, and colleagues carried out a long-term study in 1,000 patients to find out whether the virus would come back. After successful treatment with injections of pegylated interferon alone or in combination with ribavirin only eight patients tested positive for the virus in the following seven years. The researchers pointed out it had not yet been determined if those patients had suffered a relapse or been reinfected.

Professor Shiffman said: "We are encouraged by this data because it is rare in the treatment of life-threatening viral diseases that we can tell patients they may be cured. In hepatitis C today, we are able to help some patients achieve an outcome that effectively enables them to put their disease behind them."


Mitchell Shiffman, M.D.,
professor, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, and chief of hepatology and medical director of the Liver Transplant Program, Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, Richmond;
Eugene Schiff, M.D., chief, division of hepatology and professor of medicine, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine;
May 21, 2007, presentation Abstract ID #444
at the 38th annual Digestive Disease Week conference,
, D.C

Link to BBC News report

tropic virus - not a vacation . . .

Derek Thaczuk, writing for Aidsmap (May 22, 2007) in

HIV resistance mutations common but CXCR4 rare among untreated US gay men

reports a US study, published in the May 31st issue of AIDS, of 195 men who have sex with men (MSM), all of whom seroconverted between 1999 and 2003, found drug-resistance mutations in nearly 16% shortly after their seroconversion. All were found to have HIV subtype B; a small percentage (3.2%) had virus that was tropic for (i.e., able to bind to) the CXCR4 as well as the CCR5 co-receptor.

A significant number of new HIV infections are known to involve drug-resistant virus. There have also been reports of suspected transmissions of CXCR4-tropic virus, which is usually associated with late-stage, rapidly progressing HIV disease, as opposed to the CCR5-tropic virus more commonly found in recent infection and early disease.

This resistance study sub sample was drawn from the larger EXPLORE study (an investigation of an HIV-preventive behavioral intervention). EXPLORE participants were enrolled at six study sites in major US cities (Boston, Chicago, Denver, New York, San Francisco and Seattle) between 1999 and 2001, and followed for a maximum of 48 months.

No significant association was found between drug resistance and any demographic factors, sexual behavior, or use of recreational drugs or post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).


Antiretroviral drug resistance, HIV-1 tropism, and HIV-1 subtype among men who have sex with men with recent HIV-1 infection. Eshleman, Susan H et al AIDS. 21(9):1165-1174, May 31, 2007.
Link to AIDS abstract

Link to Aidsmap report

Monday, May 21, 2007

Internet Blocking

The Associated Press (May 19, 2007) reports

Study Finds 25 Countries Block Web Sites

At least 25 countries around the world block Web sites for political, social or other reasons as governments seek to assert authority over a network meant to be borderless. The actual number may be higher, but the OpenNet Initiative, responsible for the study, only had the time and capabilities to study 40 countries and the Palestinian territories. Even so, researchers said they found more censorship than they had initially expected, a sign that the Internet has matured to the point that governments are taking notice.

China, Iran, Myanmar, Syria, Tunisia and Vietnam had the most extensive filters for political sites. Iran, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen had the strictest social-filtering practices, blocking pornography, gambling and gay and lesbian sites.

In some countries, censorship was narrow. South Korea, for instance, tends to block only information about its neighboring rival, North Korea.

Yet researchers found no filtering at all in Russia, Israel or the Palestinian territories despite political conflicts there.

Governments generally had no mechanism for citizens to complain about any erroneous blocking, with Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates being among the exceptions.

The OpenNet Initiative, a collaboration between researchers at Cambridge, the University of Oxford, Harvard University and the University of Toronto, has previously published reports detailing censorship in specific countries. The latest study was its attempt to compare filtering worldwide. The study did not attempt to chronicle the effectiveness of the efforts. Some technical approaches are better than others in blocking sites, but all can be bypassed with enough technical know-how to use "proxy" techniques or special software.

The organization said the regions chosen for review should not be considered comprehensive. It didn't include any countries in North America or Western Europe on grounds that filtering practices there have been better known than elsewhere. It also excluded North Korea and Cuba for fear of risks to collaborators it would need in those countries.

Link to the OpenNet Initiative

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Bill Maher - New Rules

Ooh, Vicar!

Those Welsh Women – tres formidable

The last invasion of Britain happened on a February night in 1797 in the Welsh Coastal town of Fishguard. 1,400 French soldiers in blackened captured British uniforms and led by an Irish-American colonel, William Tate, who spoke no French, were landed from Napoleon’s warships on Fishguard beach.

The authorities were slow to respond. They were ill-equipped and theFishguard battery, having only three rounds of ammunition, saw off the French frigates by firing blanks. The Bishop of St Davids was obliged to give permission for the lead from the cathedral roof to be made into musket balls for the Fencibles, the 18th-century Home Guard.

The local residents were not pleased. Particularly fearsome, was the large 47-year-old cobbler, Jemima Nicholas, who, armed with a pitchfork, captured 12 of the French party single-handed.

In the end, corralled on the beach once more, the French mistook the traditional scarlet bodices and tall black hats of sightseeing women on the cliff top for the army uniform of British grenadiers, and within 48 hours of their landing Colonel Tate and his army had surrendered.

Two centuries later, and under the command of the textiles artist Audrey Walker, another battalion of 77 Fishguard women recorded the event in a tapestry made to commemorate the abortive invasion. The 100ft-long piece took them four years to complete and was a central part of the anniversary celebrations, but after the initial exhibition it went into store.

Ten years after it was completed, the Last Invasion got a permanent home in Fishguard’s former town hall, where it went on permanent display in May last year.

Link to The Times article

Rudy Giuliani's answer to everything

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Lady Constance's Cultural Corner

Las night ABC News choose as their person of the week little Paul Simon. Not least because.Paul Simon has been chosen to receive the inaugural Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The honor will be presented May 23 during an event at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C., and will be taped for June 27 broadcast on PBS.

For the young person who thinks he is just some old guy reliving the past --- isn't his American Tune still amazingly relevant ?

And for all you young thespians (I said . . . thespians) remember that next Tuesday is Laurence Olivier’s 100th Birthday (if he had but lived of course!)

Lord Laurence Olivier was born Laurence Kerr Olivier on the 22 May 1907 Dorking, Surrey, UK. Olivier was the son of an Anglican minister, who, despite his well-documented severity, was an unabashed theater lover, enthusiastically encouraging young Olivier to give acting a try.

"The worst of the worst" - shame on me.

The United States is one of the few countries in the world that allows children under 18 to be sentenced to life without parole. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International report that there are some 2,225 inmates are currently serving life without parole in the United States for crimes committed when they were juveniles; in the rest of the world, there are only 12 juveniles serving the same sentence, according to figures reported to the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child.

This startling revelation came from the Frontline program When Kids Get Life. In the human face of the issue Frontline travels to Colorado to profile five individuals sentenced to life without parole as juveniles.

By contrast Colorado was a proud early pioneer in juvenile justice, focusing on rehabilitation rather than punishment. But in the late 1980s and 1990s, when a sharp increase in violent crimes by young offenders attracted enormous press coverage, legislators nationwide clamped down. In Colorado, the General Assembly eliminated the possibility of parole for life sentences and expanded the power of district attorneys to treat juveniles as adults.

In 1992, the United States ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which requires that juvenile imprisonment focus on rehabilitation, but the U.S. reserved the right to sentence juveniles to life without parole in extreme cases involving the most hardened of criminals -- the worst of the worst.

In 2006, Colorado passed a bill ending its practice of sentencing juveniles to life without parole; instead, juveniles who receive a life sentence will have to serve 40 years before they are eligible for parole. But the bill was not retroactive, and the 45 former juveniles now serving life without parole in Colorado will likely die in prison.

Winston Churchill
supposedly said, that you can judge a society by how it treats its prisoners. Is this the Christian society ---- "suffer the little children"? Or are we seeing the true face of the religious right --- "spare the rod . . " and "an eye for an eye"?

When Kids Get Life can still be viewed on line. The Frontline site continues the exploration.

Link to Frontline – When Kids Get Life

Friday, May 18, 2007

Just because . . .

Offenbach : Act I "Pars pour la Crête" (La Belle Hélène) - Oh, yes?