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Setting the standard internationally18/04/2015 - 18:00
F1 says 'committed to respecting human rights' before Bahrain GP
Formula One has committed itself to respecting human rights ahead of Sunday's controversial Grand Prix in Bahrain, which Amnesty International has accused of rampant righ...
F1 says 'committed to respecting human rights' before Bahrain GP752147044ea513030a358ee7c0d37b277123140c.jpg
AFP / Marwan Naamani
Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone (L) speaks with a Bahraini official as he arrives at the Sakhir Circuit in Manama on April 16, 2015, ahead of the weekend's Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix
Formula One has committed itself to respecting human rights ahead of Sunday's controversial Grand Prix in Bahrain, which Amnesty International has accused of rampant rights abuses.
The group is "committed to respecting internationally recognised human rights in its operations globally," according to a statement on its website.
Bahrain, home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, has been rocked by unrest since security forces crushed Shiite-led protests in 2011 demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister.
The tiny Gulf state banned public demonstrations in 2013 but Bahraini rights activists' seek to highlight the situation each year as the annual event gets underway outside Manama.
In a "Statement of Commitment to Respect for Human Rights," Formula One said that while "respecting human rights in all of our activities, we focus our efforts in relation to those areas which are within our own direct influence."
It said the group would take "proportionate steps" to "understand and monitor through our due diligence processes the potential human rights impacts of our activities."
That would identify and assess "any actual or potential adverse human rights impacts with which we may be involved either through our own activities or as a result of our business relationships, including but not limited to our suppliers and promoters."9837043747f2d89844c804f0690fc3101f95dd1a.jpg
AFP / Mohammed al-Shaikh
A Bahraini protestor holds a national flag wearing a mask used by the Anonymous movement during a protest against the arrival of Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix on April 18, 2013
The statement makes no reference to any place in particular, including Bahrain.
Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa deputy head Said Boumedouha said Thursday that "four years on from the uprising, repression is widespread and rampant abuses by the security forces continues.
Bahrain's authorities must prove that the promises of reform they have made are more than empty rhetoric."
"As the world's eyes fall on Bahrain during the Grand Prix this weekend, few will realise that the international images the authorities have attempted to project of the country as a progressive reformist state committed to human rights masks a far more sinister truth," said Boumedouha.
The government accused Amnesty of misreporting its "respect of the rights to freedom of opinion and expression and to peaceful assembly," which are "protected by Bahrain’s constitution."
It "continues to uphold them robustly. Yet as any other responsible government, the government of Bahrain will not tolerate violent attacks or incitement to violence committed under the guise of free speech and peaceful protest.
"It is the government's duty to protect citizens, residents, and visitors alike and the government makes no apology for doing so. Bahrain will respond to such attacks in accordance with its law and best international practices."
Amnesty's report said Bahraini authorities arbitrarily detain activists with excessive use of force, with those held in pre-trial detention routinely tortured to extract confessions.
At least 89 people have been killed in clashes with security forces, while hundreds, most of them Shiite, have been arrested and put on trial, human rights groups say.
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Amazon tribe's antibiotic resistance concerns experts
AFP / Leo Ramirez
A Yanomami family eats at Irotatheri community in Amazonas state, southern Venezuela, on September 7, 2012
A remote tribe in the Venezuelan Amazon appears to be resistant to modern antibiotics, even though its members have had barely any contact with the outside world, researchers said Friday.
The people, known as the Yanomami, were first spotted by air in 2008, and were visited a year later by a Venezuelan medical team that took samples from 34 of them, including skin and mouth swabs and stool samples.
To protect their privacy, the name of their village was withheld from publication.
Scientists found that the tribespeople's microbiome -- the community of bacteria, fungi and viruses that live in and on the body -- was far more diverse than seen in comparison communities of rural Venezuelans and Malawians. Their microbiome was twice as diverse as observed in a reference group of Americans.
The remote villagers are generally healthy, and that may be thanks to a microbiome that "contains perhaps the highest levels of bacterial diversity ever reported in a human group," said the study in the journal Science Advances.
While the Yanomami had some T-shirts, machetes and metal cans, suggesting some limited contact with civilization, they have not been exposed to the many elements of contemporary life that can cut down on microbes, such as eating processed foods, taking antibiotics, hand sanitizing and delivering babies by Caesarean section, scientists said.
Some microbes seemed to have a protective effect on their health, such as preventing the formation of kidney stones.
afp.com / Hutukara Yanomami Association / Morsaniel Iramari
An aerial photo released by the Hutukara Yanomami Association shows the huts of an uncontacted Yanomami tribe in northern Brazil on November 21, 2011
The tribespeople live in small villages, in a remote area that is accessible only by helicopter or by traveling for days in a canoe.
Researchers found no evidence of obesity or malnutrition among the people they saw, who lived on a diet that included fish, frogs, insects, plantains and a fermented cassava drink, said Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello of the New York University School of Medicine.
However, she said no samples were taken of the tribe's food and drink, which could reveal more about how they achieved their diverse gut flora.
"I would love to go back to the community, now that we know what we know," she said.
- 'Alarming' antibiotic resistance -
Scientists expected to find some resistance to antibiotics in the population, because these resistance genes have existed in soil bacteria for millions of years or more, so it makes sense that they would migrate into people, too, even without antibiotic use.
What really surprised the team was the discovery that the tribespeople had nearly 30 antibiotic resistant genes that were never before known to science.
AFP / Leo Ramirez
A Yanomami woman walks with her child on her back at Irotatheri community, in Amazonas state, southern Venezuela, on September 8, 2012
Even more, these genes were resistant to some of the world's most recently developed synthetic antibiotics.
"It was alarming to us to find genes that would inactivate these modern synthetic drugs in the Yanomami population," said co-author Gautam Dantas from the Washington University School of Medicine.
"We see this as one more piece of clear evidence that antibiotic resistance is indeed a natural feature of the human microbiota but that it's primed to be activated and amplified for greater resistance after antibiotic use," he told reporters.
The modern era of antibiotics began in the 1940s when penicillin quickly became a popular drug. Many more types of antibiotics were discovered and marketed from the 1950s to 1970s. Most originated in soil.
But widespread use of antibiotics in people and livestock has raised concern about an approaching era when antibiotics may not work at all, heralding the return of stubborn infections that turn fatal instead of treatable.
Already, drug-resistant superbugs are on the rise, particularly in hospitals, where they kill tens of thousands of people in the West each year.
The latest research "emphasizes the need to ramp up our research for new antibiotics because otherwise we're going to lose this battle against infectious diseases," said Dantas.
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