Europe

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Six Somali Soldiers Killed in Al-Shabab Attacks

Six Somali government soldiers and 19 militants were killed when Islamist group al-Shabab attacked two bases before dawn Friday, according to officials and residents.

Local security officials and residents told VOA Somali that the attackers targeted a Somali government military base in Haji Ali village, near the Indian Ocean coastal town of Addale, in Middle Shabelle region.

Somali government forces at the base responded to the attack, sparking a deadly gun battle.

Local sources said five government soldiers were killed, including a military commander. The Somali National Army Headquarters, in a statement, put the death toll at four soldiers, with two others injured.

The statement said 15 al-Shabab militants were killed and 26 were injured.

Al-Shabab said its fighters overran the base and seized weapons and vehicles.

Separately, one government soldier and four militants were killed in another al-Shabab attack Friday in the town of Hosingow, Lower Juba region.

Residents told VOA that the militants briefly entered a Somali military camp near the town. Troops launched a counterattack and retook the base, killing four militants and a soldier, residents say.

U.S. airstrike

Meanwhile, the U.S. military has confirmed killing two al-Shabab militants in an airstrike near the town of Kunyo Barrow in Lower Shabelle region on Thursday. It is the second U.S. airstrike in Somalia in 2020.

Last year, U.S. Africa Command conducted a record 63 strikes in Somalia.

Al-Shabab has conducted several high-profile attacks in recent weeks, including one on a Kenyan military base housing U.S. forces. The militants killed three Americans in the Jan. 5 attack.
 

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ByVidWorld

Antibiotic Resistance Growing With No New Drugs on Horizon

At least 700,000 people die every year due to drug-resistant diseases, including 230,000 from multidrug resistant tuberculosis, according to the World Health Organization.  

Last year, a U.N. report predicted growing antimicrobial resistance could cause 10 million deaths each year by 2050 and trigger a financial crisis.

The WHO said the health threat affects everyone, but those most at risk include people whose immune system is compromised, the elderly, and patients undergoing chemotherapy, surgery and organ transplants.

Fifty antibiotics are in the pipeline, said WHO’s Senior Adviser on Antimicrobial Resistance, Peter Beyer, but the majority only have limited benefits when compared to existing antibiotics.

“We are actually running out of antibiotics that are effective against these resistant bacteria,” he said. “It takes maybe 10 years to develop a new antibiotic, so if you go back to phase one, we know exactly what, at best, what we can get in the next 10 years. And we really see that it is insufficient to counter the current threat.” 

Scientifically, Beyer said, it is very difficult to come up with truly new innovative antibiotics. In addition, there is little financial incentive for pharmaceutical companies to develop a new drug because it is risky, it takes a lot of time and money, and the monetary returns are likely to be poor, he said.

Prevention

However, he added, he hopes the industry changes its position and develops new antibiotics because drug companies also need these new medications.

“For example, if they want to sell products for chemotherapy, they really need effective antibiotics because otherwise you cannot do effective chemotherapy, in particular in countries like India or Bangladesh where infection prevention control is not that good,” Beyer said. “So, I do think that the industry, at one point in time, they will turn around. That is our hope. And, we, of course, try to convince governments to invest as well.”  

In the meantime, Beyer said, one of the most cost-effective, life-saving measures is better prevention control in hospitals. Instead of inventing new drugs to treat people who get infected in hospitals, he said, it makes more sense to protect them from getting infected in the first place.  
 

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ByVidWorld

Freedom, History and Inspiration

VOA Connect Episode 105 – A formerly homeless man turned-pizza- mogul discusses the importance of giving back, a body-positive yoga instructor shows that yoga isn’t just for the slim, and a group of US military veterans reflect on service and war.

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ByVidWorld

Analysts: Africa Faces Promising Decade, But With Obstacles

2020 marks the beginning of a promising decade for Africa, according to African experts and global policymakers who gathered this week for the release of the Brookings Institution’s annual publication on Africa. VOA correspondent Mariama Diallo reports on some of the six key priorities, including climate change, regional integration, and the need to develop the energy and private sectors.

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ByVidWorld

Pompeo Silent on Reports of Surveillance of Former US Ambassador to Ukraine

Ukrainian authorities say they have opened an investigation into whether Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Kyiv, was illegally spied on before U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly recalled her from her post last year. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the State Department have not replied to repeated requests for comment on the alleged surveillance and potential physical threats to the 33-year career diplomat. VOA’s Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine reports from the State Department.

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ByVidWorld

Pentagon Defends Track Record in Afghanistan

The Pentagon is rejecting accusations that military leadership “incentivized lying” to portray a more optimistic picture of U.S. efforts in the nearly two-decade-long war in Afghanistan.

“The idea that there was some … effort to hide the truth or the reality on the ground just doesn’t hold water,” chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters Thursday.

“This idea that there were somehow misstatements or lies, I don’t think that really gels,” he added.

Hoffman’s response took aim at comments by U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko, who testified Wednesday before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

FILE – John Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 10, 2014.

“We have incentivized lying to Congress,” Sopko told lawmakers. “The whole incentive is to show success and to ignore the failure. And when there’s too much failure, classify it or don’t report it.”

Lawmakers created the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, in 2008 and it has been producing quarterly reports on U.S. reconstruction efforts ever since.

Many of the reports have been critical of U.S. efforts, criticism that gained momentum following the release late last year of the Afghanistan Papers — a collection of previously undisclosed SIGAR interviews and notes obtained by The Washington Post.

Hoffman said Thursday that much of the material Sopko cited had been shared willingly, with the understanding it would be shared with Congress.

He also made no apology for how defense officials shared information with the public outside the SIGAR process.

“We have people who are working incredibly hard on incredibly difficult projects, and when they’re asked to take on a difficult task, they look for ways to make it happen,” he said. “If our people are being too forward leaning and trying to be optimistic about what we think we can accomplish, and to be honest and open with the Congress, we’ll continue to do that.”

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