17 March 2008A new publication by the United Nations health agency finds that the pace of global efforts to control the tuberculosis (TB) epidemic slowed slightly in 2006, as did progress in diagnosing people with the airborne infectious disease that is both preventable and curable. Global Tuberculosis Control 2008, released today by the World Health Organization (WHO), reports there were 9.2 million new cases of TB in 2006, including 700,000 cases among people living with HIV, and 500,000 cases of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB). In addition, an estimated 1.5 million people died from TB in 2006, while another 200,000 people with HIV died from HIV-associated TB.The 12th annual report, which contains data up to 2006 provided by 202 countries and territories, cites several reasons for the slowdown in progress, including that some successful programmes at the national level have not been able to maintain their efforts at the same pace in recent years. There has also been no increase in the detection of TB cases through national programmes in a number of African countries.In addition, the public programmes did not take into account many patients that are being treated by private care providers, and by non-governmental (NGOs), faith-based and community organizations.“We’ve entered a new era,” said Margaret Chan, who stressed the need to strengthen public programmes and to partners with other service providers to step up efforts to combat TB. “Enlisting these other providers, working in partnership with national programmes, will markedly increase diagnosis and treatment for people in need,” the WHO Director-General stated.Threatening a further slowdown in progress is the fact that rates of MDR-TB, which takes longer to treat and requires more expensive drugs, are at an all-time high, according to WHO, which added that the response to this epidemic has been inadequate. The deadly combination of TB and HIV, which is fuelling the TB epidemic in many parts of the world, especially Africa, is also posing a threat to global anti-TB efforts. “Clear progress has been made but we must all do more to make a joint approach to reducing TB deaths among people with HIV a reality,” said Peter Piot, Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). Ahead of World TB Day, observed annually on 24 March, Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to Stop TB, has called for enhanced leadership to address TB and HIV, which is the leading cause of death among people living with HIV/AIDS.“Several countries have shown that targets relating to TB/HIV are achievable and have put in place measures that will have an impact on the lives of those at most risk. But this is a restless battle. We still need to do much more and much better,” stated Dr. Jorge Sampaio, former President of Portugal.The shortage in funding is another factor. Although there has been an increase in resources, particularly from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, TB budgets are not expected to rise this year in nearly all of the most heavily-affected countries, says WHO. read more

___Lawmakers ask 4 big tech companies for documents in probeWASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers investigating the market dominance of Big Tech are asking Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple for a broad range of documents including internal communications. Letters went out to the four companies on Friday from the leaders of the House Judiciary Committee and its subcommittee on antitrust, which has been conducting a sweeping antitrust investigation of the companies and their impact on competition and consumers. The companies have said they’ll co-operate fully with the probe.___China to lift punitive tariffs on US soybeans, porkBEIJING (AP) — Washington wants Beijing to roll back plans for state-led development of leaders in robotics and other technologies. The United States, Europe and other trading partners argue that those plans violate China’s free-trade commitments. Some American officials worry that they will erode U.S. industrial leadership.___US Treasury sanctions 3 North Korean hacking groupsWASHINGTON (AP) — Three North Korean hacking groups suspected of perpetrating cyberattacks around the world have been placed on a U.S. sanctions list. The Treasury Department’s action draws attention to the isolated nation’s illegal efforts to fund its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The U.S. says the three groups are controlled by the North Korean government. One was behind the WannaCry ransomware, which froze 300,000 computers across 150 countries in 2017.___PG&E reaches $11B deal with California wildfire insurersSAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Pacific Gas & Electric has agreed to pay $11 billion to a group of insurance companies representing claims from deadly 2017 and 2018 Northern California wildfires as the company tries to emerge from bankruptcy. The tentative agreement does not include thousands of uninsured and underinsured fire victims who have filed their own claims against PG&E, including for wrongful deaths. The amount was higher than analysts and the company had estimated.___Johnson, Juncker to meet in a bid for a Brexit breakthroughLONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will meet for talks next week to try to break the Brexit impasse as both sides seek to avert what could be a disastrous “no-deal” departure. Johnson says “there is the rough shape of the deal to be done.” He described himself as “cautiously optimistic” that a new agreement can be forged even as officials warned against any sudden breakthrough.___Filings: Purdue owners used Swiss banks to hide transfersNEW YORK (AP) — New York state’s attorney general contends in court papers that the family that owns OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma used Swiss bank accounts to conceal the transfer of millions of dollars from the company to themselves. New York on Friday asked a judge to enforce subpoenas of companies, banks and advisers to Purdue and its owners, the Sackler family. The state said it has already documented $1 billion in transfers between those parties.___US retail sales rise moderately as auto-buying jumpsWASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. retail sales rose moderately in August, led by a jump in auto buying and healthy online sales. But there were also signs that consumers have become more cautious.___UPS to pay $8.4M to settle claim of overcharging governmentWASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department says United Parcel Service Inc. must pay $8.4 million to settle allegations that the company was overcharging the federal government for package deliveries. The settlement was announced Friday. The Justice Department alleges UPS failed to abide by the terms of its contract with the General Services Administration and overcharged the government for services from 2007 until 2014. UPS said the claims stemmed from “good faith differences regarding contract interpretation.”____UAW extends Ford, Fiat Chrysler pacts; strike possible at GMDETROIT (AP) — Leaders of the United Auto Workers union have extended contracts with Ford and Fiat Chrysler indefinitely, but the pact with General Motors’ is still set to expire Saturday night. The move puts added pressure on bargainers for both sides as they approach the contract deadline and the union starts to prepare for a strike. The four-year contract with GM ends at 11:59 p.m. Saturday.___WeWork to list shares on Nasdaq, reduce CEO’s voting powerNEW YORK (AP) — WeWork’s parent company announced major changes in its corporate governance practices Friday as it revealed plans to list shares on the Nasdaq. The office-sharing company is pressing on with its highly anticipated stock market debut — expected later this month — despite doubts about its ability to make money and decisions that have raised commitment and conflict of interest concerns about CEO Adam Neumann.___US stock indexes end mixed; S&P 500 notches 3rd weekly gainNEW YORK (AP) — The S&P 500 notched its third straight weekly gain Friday, even as the major U.S. stock indexes ended the day mostly lower. A slide in technology stocks, along with losses in consumer-focused and real estate companies, offset solid gains elsewhere in the market, including big Wall Street banks and industrial stocks. Bond yields rose sharply. An easing of tensions in the costly trade war between the U.S. and China bolstered the market this week.___The S&P 500 index slipped 2.18 points, or 0.1%, to 3,007.39. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 37.07 points, or 0.1%, to 27,219.52. The technology heavy Nasdaq fell 17.75 points, or 0.2%, to 8,176.71. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gained 3.07 points, or 0.2%, to 1,578.14.The Associated Press read more