Sunday, June 12, 2005


Muslim charities have tried to stop an Italian restaurant serving drink on a terrace, claiming it is offensive to Glasgow's Asian community. Gambrino Pizzeria in Kelvinbridge wants to use the pavement outside its premises as an eating and drinking area and has applied to Glasgow City Council for permission. However, the proposals for eight tables and 16 seats has infuriated the local Asian community who say drinking alcohol outdoors is "offensive".

Two Muslim charities, UK Islamic Mission, based at the Islamic Mosque in Carrington Street, and Noah's Ark/ Radio Ramadhan in Arlington Street, formally objected to the Great Western Road restaurant's seating plans. Javeed Gill, secretary of the UK Islamic Mission, said: "This area is the second largest area for Muslims in the city and we look after 1500 young people and provide activities for them. "We've no objection if it is being done inside but selling alcohol on the footpath is a temptation to our young people." Mr Gill said concerns about the increasing number of outside drinking premises had been raised in the mosque.

Today, despite the protest, council officials are recommending the application be passed. The restaurant has street tables but as yet it has no permission to sell alcohol or provide a table service. A number of city bars and restaurants serve alcohol outside and more are set to apply to as the ban on smoking in public places is due to begin next April.

Gambrino owner Ken Graham said: "You do get objections to this sort of application, quite often from church groups or charities. "However, it seems strange to us as we don't have a mosque on our doorstep, but everybody is entitled to their opinion."



Two Hillsborough County commissioners say public libraries are no place for Gay and Lesbian Pride Month exhibits. Commissioner Ronda Storms said she will schedule the issue for a board discussion where she intends to ask that such displays be banned. As the mother of a 6-year-old daughter, she said she does not want to be forced to explain homosexuality and transexuality if her child passes such a display and starts asking questions. "I do not want to have to explain to my daughter what it means to question one's sexuality," Storms said during a budget workshop Wednesday.

Commission Chairman Jim Norman said that he, too, is concerned and said a policy discussion is warranted given that commissioners approve how money is spent on library operations. He noted that commissioners have previously taken a stand on such issues, voting roughly a decade ago to yank county funding from the annual Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

Commissioner Kathy Castor was alone in expressing opposition to such a move Wednesday. "I would hope this board would not use this dais to promote discrimination," Castor said. "I think it would be a terrible thing to put something like this on the agenda."

The exchange came a day after a story in the St. Petersburg Times noted that a book display honoring Gay and Lesbian Pride Month was taken down at West Gate Regional Library in Town 'N Country after some patrons complained. Library officials have since said it was a misunderstanding that led to the dismantling of the display, which they intend put back up in another part of the building. A similar display is at the John F. Germany Library on Ashley Drive in downtown Tampa. It includes three shelves of books in the adult fiction section.

Library Services Director Joe Stines said the West Gate display was initially done by a part-time employee and a student who had designed a poster to highlight a bibliography of books with gay or lesbian themes. The poster was not professionally prepared, he said, which is why it was taken down. "It certainly isn't in the children's area," Stines said after the meeting Wednesday.

Storms said she is not seeking to have any books about gay issues removed from the libraries. She said she just doesn't want them promoted in places where children are likely to see them, which could be anyplace in the library. "This uses government to promote a political perspective," she said after Wednesday's meeting. "Whether we should have pride in homosexuality is a political perspective."



Attacking those totally incorrect drug companies matters far more to them than the fact that millions of poor Africans are dying of AIDS

Some AIDS activists are impossible to satisfy. While pharmaceutical researchers toil to treat and prevent AIDS, assorted protesters demand so much that drug companies are throwing their hands up in exasperation. Perfectionist groups literally have halted promising drug trials. These militants should desist before they jeopardize even more human lives.

This battle between "patient advocates" and drug manufacturers rages primarily in Africa and Asia, where AIDS spreads as quickly as juicy gossip. Because the third world includes so many AIDS patients, and drugs can be studied most efficiently where diseases move swiftly, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control, among others, chose Cambodia and Cameroon to test Tenofovir, Gilead Science's HIV-prevention pill.

As Marilyn Chase explained in the May 18 Wall Street Journal, activists insisted that researchers guarantee volunteers "developed-world standards of prevention" and lifelong access to AIDS drugs if they became infected. Normally, such individuals would visit local clinics. Outside demonstrators wanted counseling, condoms, and free needles for Thai intravenous-drug users, plus bleach to sterilize old needles. "In every war, there are those who collaborate with the enemy," declares an Act Up-Paris manifesto. "AIDS too has its collaborators: [Including] those who see the epidemic as an opportunity to make money."

Wouldn't it be nice if drugs sold at cost, or were free, despite research and development expenses? Wouldn't it be nice if grocers gave away food?

Act Up-Paris's idealism sometimes disappears. At a 2004 AIDS conference, it hurled fake blood at and destroyed Gilead's display case. "Gilead's greed kills," protesters bellowed.

Facing such outrage, researchers canceled a Cambodian study last August and suspended one in Cameroon last February. The 2006 goal for determining Tenofovir's effectiveness has slid to 2007. In those additional twelve months, five million people needlessly could contract HIV. How many will AIDS kill in the same time frame?

"What the developed world's activists are doing to the developing world is tantamount to murder or genocide," says Congress of Racial Equality spokesman Niger Innis. He has visited Kenya, Nigeria, Sudan, and Thailand to study global health issues. Innis adds: "If AIDS researchers waited for environmental and health standards in developing nations to reach those of the West before they conducted much-needed AIDS trials, you could kiss goodbye a generation of Africans. You can't wait for purified Poland Spring water to extinguish a fire raging in your house right now."

Act Up-Paris and the European AIDS Treatment Group even managed to terminate French, German, and Spanish studies of Maraviroc, a prospective AIDS therapy. The group argued that highly immuno-suppressed HIV-positive patients should not try this Pfizer drug as a first treatment.

"At last July's World AIDS Conference in Bangkok, I saw people splatter red paint on and trash the information booths of several drug companies. They did the same thing two years earlier in Barcelona," says Abner Mason, executive director of the AIDS Responsibility Project. "This type of activism slows and, in some cases, stops the development of new drugs. This ultimately will mean that millions of people will have nowhere to turn when they need therapy."

Drug companies are responding to these vandals by retiring their test tubes. Says one pharmaceutical executive: "Activists who hound drug companies, and the incentive system that underpins drug discovery, are directly responsible for depressing R&D for HIV. From a peak of 125 drugs in development in 1998-1999, we are now down to around 80, a 36 percent decline. This is a direct consequence of hostile, unrelenting attacks on the industry. No matter what industry does, no good deed goes unpunished in HIV/AIDS."

"We are seeing 27 percent fewer companies working in HIV research than there were six years ago," says American Enterprise Institute resident fellow Roger Bate. "Companies don't like to be told that they have blood on their hands and that they back genocide. If they are not making money on their research, they're unlikely to keep funding it. . . These drugs will not be like Lipitor, which made $10.9 billion last year. Compared to such a blockbuster drug, even the best AIDS drug will not earn anywhere near that kind of money." While activists scream about profits, AIDS silently kills Africans and Asians by the millions.


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