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Updated: 1 hour 11 min ago

SPANISH police are investigating a

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 11:44

SPANISH police are investigating a possible string of expat murders by a couple who, allegedly, took lonely foreign pensioners under their wing, including two with Tenerife links, and tricked them into handing over their properties and savings.

Guardia Civil officers arrested a German man and his

Cuban-German wife, and freed two elderly people, believed to have been held captive in the couple’s home in Chiclana de la Frontera, Andalucia, rapidly renamed the “House of Horrors”.

A German man called Silvestre and a disabled Dutch woman, in her seventies and identified as Elisabeth, were found immobile on beds inside small rooms, showing signs of being drugged with tranquilisers, as well as and suffering from malnutrition.

Their supposed carers, identified by the Guardia Civil only as Markus and Estrella, had been feeding them a meagre diet of sandwiches. The victims were attached to nasogastric tubes, keeping them barely alive in what investigators labelled the “House of Horrors”.

Spanish investigators raided the property as part of a probe into the disappearance of a wealthy German woman called Maria Babes, who signed over her Tenerife property to the couple before her death.

An Italian man also died recently while under the couple’s care, and investigators suspect there were at least five potential cases of suspicious deaths involving pensioners, including a possible British victim.

A police statement said that rogatory commissions (formal requests from courts), had been sent to Britain, Italy, Germany and Cuba, to follow up on suspicions that the couple, who amassed a €1.8m fortune, had committed a series of murders.

The investigation started last year when a friend of Ms Babes reported to police that she left her Tenerife home to live in mainland Spain, with a younger couple who had befriended her.

Spanish investigators traced the wealthy 101-year-old to a different nursing home in Chiclana, where she ended up after being admitted to hospital on several occasions while in the care of the Cuban-German couple.

She told police that the couple had kept her locked up. But, in a strange twist, she was persuaded to leave the nursing home and return to the “House of Horrors”, where she died.

“The content of her medical records raised the investigators’ suspicions of possible neglect and abandonment, on the part of her carers. That, added to the old woman’s economic status, set alarm bells ringing,” a source from the investigation told local newspaper Diario de Cádiz.

Ms Babes told Guardia Civil agents that the German-Cuban couple had kept her locked up and handcuffed for several months, adding that she knew nothing about the documents, supposedly signed by her before a notary, granting power of attorney to the couple, and naming them as her heirs. Investigators say that the Dutch woman they rescued was used by the suspects to supplant Ms Babes’ identity.

Her bank account balance, which stood at more than €162,000 last October, had been wiped out by December, and she also received no money from the sale of her Tenerife house.

At Christmas, the police sought arrest warrants for the suspected couple, but, the day before the planned operation, Markus and Estrella removed Ms Babes from the residence. Five hours later, she was dead, despite appearing in apparently good health in a video from that morning, playing the tambourine during a special Christmas breakfast.

A funeral-parlour operator told investigators of the couple’s rush to proceed with her cremation. But he was surprised that they did not wish to take away an urn with ashes, despite claiming to have been very fond of the old woman.

The couple are also believed to have extracted €500,000 and two Tenerife properties from the Italian man, who died in their care.

 

Pound-euro exchange rate recovering, as markets bet on Brexit breakthrough

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 11:43

SPECULATION over Brexit continued to drive pound volatility, with officials struggling to make progress towards a final deal, just weeks before the deadline.

As February’s US labour market data significantly undershot expectations, with just 20,000 new jobs added to the economy, this helped to shore up the GBP/USD exchange rate.

The increasingly dovish outlook of the European Central Bank (ECB) failed to keep the euro on a weaker footing for long, meanwhile, even as the economy continued to demonstrate signs of weakness.

With the Brexit deadline drawing ever closer, markets have continued to lack a sense of clarity over the UK’s future relationship with the EU, and its other trading partners.  After MPs pushed back against the Irish-backstop proposal, talks have failed to show any significant signs of progress.

In spite of this, the odds of a no-deal Brexit have declined, with investors betting that Parliament will vote to extend Article 50, rather than allow the UK to crash out of the EU, without any deal in place. As the UK economy continued to show signs of vulnerability at the start of the year, the upside potential of GBP exchange rates proved limited.

The ECB’s March policy meeting proved rather dovish in nature, leaving the euro on the back foot. After policymakers effectively ruled out the prospect of interest rates rising in 2019, and downgraded their Eurozone growth forecasts, EUR exchange rates slumped sharply.

The mixed nature of February’s US jobs data left the US dollar on a weaker footing, even as wage growth showed fresh signs of acceleration. With the US-China trade dispute showing signs of weighing on economic growth, the Federal Reserve looks set to leave monetary policy on hold, for the time being.

Brexit developments look set to remain the primary influence on GBP exchange rates in the weeks ahead, even if the outcome of the process becomes clearer. Signs of an uptick in January’s UK gross domestic product data could offer the pound a boost, however, if the economy appears to shake off the ongoing sense of political uncertainty.

Any acceleration in the latest UK consumer price index data may also encourage GBP exchange rates to strengthen, in spite of the limited odds of an interest-rate hike.

If the Fed signals a greater sense of confidence at its March policy meeting, this could offer a boost to the US dollar. However, if the US economy shows any fresh signs of slowing, the mood of USD exchange rates could rapidly sour.

March’s raft of Eurozone manufacturing and services PMIs may put pressure on the euro.  Another weak month of economic activity could easily send the single currency into a fresh slump against the pound and US dollar.

At Currencies Direct, we’re here to talk currency whenever you need us, so get in touch if you want to know more about the latest news, or how it could impact your currency transfers. Since 1996, we’ve helped more than 210,000 customers with their currency transfers. Just pop into your local Currencies Direct branch, or give us a call to find out more.

T: +34 922 971 781

E: canaries@currenciesdirect.com

W: currenciesdirect.com

It’s Chico time!

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 11:42

Accion del Sol news

CHICO is a gorgeous dog who has been in the refuge for 10 years. He was collected from the streets of Granadilla when he was two years old. He’s a lovely-natured dog, but, for whatever reason, nobody wanted him.

Finally, an older couple spotted him on the AktionTier website, and fell, instantly, in love with him. We are so happy that he will finally know the true meaning of love and kindness, which he so deserves. He has a clean bill of health, and even had his teeth cleaned, ready for his new life.

Puppies available

The six, surviving puppies, dumped in a plastic bucket outside a church, are now up for adoption. Unfortunately, no one has shown any interest in them yet, but let’s hope they find new homes, soon.

Assistance required

Please do call the refuge on 6643 21219 or 602463242, between 8am-5pm, if you can help in any way. We always need tinned dog-food for our older animals, plus blankets, towels, sheets, dog toys, collars and leads. You can call into the Accion refuge on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons, from 2-5pm, and Saturdays between 1-4pm.

Find us here

Accion del Sol is situated directly under the Ecological Park (exit 52) on the north-bound TF-1. Head for the giant windmills, and you’ll find us in the buildings on the right-hand side. E-mail the refuge at teneriffa@aktiontier.org or, for further details, visit our Facebook page: action tier Accion del Sol

 

 

 

 

What a cracker!

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 11:42

Cats Welfare news

LITTLE Ginger is a very friendly, loving boy who is looking for a special home. He is neutered, leukaemia negative and vaccinated, and is about three years old. If you would like to meet him, please message us via Facebook. Alternatively, ring/WhatsApp Sandra (English, Spanish and German) on 6712 82773 after 6pm, or Sharon (English) on 6625 24006.

*All cats go for a week’s trial, in your home *

Adoptions

We have several other adult cats who would love to be snuggled up on someone’s sofa today. There are males and females, ranging from 18 months to seven years. All adults are leukaemia negative, neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. As previously mentioned, all cats go for a week’s trial, in your home.

Microchip March

March is the month to get your cats and dogs microchipped. We all know how valuable chipping your pet is, and that it is a legal requirement, here in Tenerife.

Our vets will be charging the reduced price of €25, for either a cat or dog, during this month. Please send us a Facebook private message for a code, telling us which of our vets you want to use. Book your own appointment, and pay the vet, directly.

Shop volunteers

We always need people who would like to work in our charity shop. Shifts are from 10am-2pm and 2-6pm, and you will never work alone. The air-conditioned shop has a lovely atmosphere, and tea, coffee, and a fridge full of goodies are provided.

They’re all there to be enjoyed, while in the company of our friendly volunteers, and very valued customers! If you are interested, please contact Sharon on 6625 24006, or pop into the shop for more information. Even if you can only spare a few hours a week, that’s fine!

Clothes, books and jigsaws

We are appealing to you all, please, for both ladies’ and men’s clothes, for our shop. We also need books of all genres, and in great condition, as well as jigsaws. Please have a look around at home, and drop them into the shop.

Our shop

We always need cat food, litter, sheets, towels, bedding etc. for the cats and kittens in our care, and also good quality/condition items for sale in the shop on San Blas, Golf del Sur (behind Hiperdino). It is open seven days a week, 10am-6pm.

We stock good-quality clothes of all sizes, at sensible, low prices. Pop along and take a look. Our customers come from all over the island, and we see many holidaymakers return, time and again, eager to snap up a bargain.

If you don’t have transport, or have large, bulky items such as furniture and household effects to donate, please ring Mark on 6365 90557, and he will arrange collection from you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Nepo

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 11:41

K9 animal news

NEPO has been at K9 for nearly a year. This handsome boy is a favourite among staff and volunteers. He is a Podenco mix, and is about 2-3 years old.

He never seems phased by living in the kennels, and is always very relaxed and chilled. He shares his kennel with two other males, Chacho and Erwin, and they all love playing together and running around, when they get the chance.

When out walking, Nepo likes to be spoiled with treats, but he also loves to chase lizards, and does a really good job trying to catch them. No bush or wall is too big for him to climb into, or up! He has succeeded a couple of times when it comes to catching lizards. He holds no prisoners!

He is a pleasure to walk on the lead, and loves getting out to explore the trails around K9. When he is off lead, the Podenco in him really comes out, as he goes off searching for some unlucky lizards to find. He loves to run and run, but, don’t worry, he will come back when you call him, and give him a little reward.

His cool, calm nature makes him so easy to be around, and he is very curious of other dogs. He likes to get to know them and play with them, and seems to get on with most of them.

He is really good with people as well, which makes him suitable to walk with any of our walkers. If you have any treats in your pocket, he becomes your best friend and tries to sniff them out, but also knows when he is over-stepping the mark. He is obedient and super-friendly, and is always ready for a cuddle.

His two room-mates, Erwin and Chacho, both love Nepo, as he is a great playmate to have. Chacho, who is a Podenco, will run and run with him for ages, and they like to play tug-o-war with one of our toys we have at K9.

It is a lot of fun to watch. Nobody’s sure which one of them is winning the battle at the moment, but, last time, Nepo won! Come and meet Nepo, any day of the week, between 9.30am and 1.30pm at K9 Refuge on Calle Chimbesque, between Las Chafiras and Las Zocas. Alternatively, you can get in touch by telephoning us on 667 638 468, or emailing info@k9tenerife.com

Charity shop

Our charity shop in Alcala Plaza is always looking for new items to sell. If you have any unwanted clothes, shoes, books or bric-a-brac, please pop them into our shop, or to K9.

We welcome all kinds of items, all proceeds going towards helping the dogs. The shop is open from 10am-2pm, Monday to Saturday. Pop in, or call them on 6465 61035. Collections can also be arranged, using this number.

 

Hello – I’m Enzo

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 11:40

Live Arico news

ENZO is around seven years old, and suffered a lot of abuse when he was young, meaning that he was terrified of everything.

Thanks to a loving foster home, he has come out of his shell and is learning to trust again. He is still a very nervous dog, but, once he trusts you, he will love you forever.

He’s scared of loud noises and sudden movements, and needs a bed in a quiet place so he can “hide” when he is feeling frightened, although he loves being fussed. A nice calm, quiet home would be perfect for him.

He walks so well on the lead, he’s very intelligent and obeys commands, and gets on with cats and dogs.

Come and walk the doggies!

Join the Live Arico dog-walking club on Saturday mornings from 9am-1pm. Our dogs absolutely love it, and you can keep fit and find a furry friend at the same time. Send a WhatsApp to Oceana on 659 242 572 for further details, or just pop in and meet the dogs.

Live Arico shops

Come and bag a bargain at our shops. Donations are always very much appreciated.

San Eugenio – opposite Hotel La Nina, at Las Carabelas, near Amanda’s Bar. Open weekdays 10am-4pm, Saturday 10am-2pm and now Sundays 11am-3pm.

Los Cristianos – Calle Revron, near Thistle and Dragon Bar and play-park. Open Monday-Friday (10am-4pm), Saturday 10am-2pm and Sunday 11am-3pm.

Join us on Facebook – Live Arico P.A.W.S Tenerife

twitter.com/live_arico

www.livearico.com

 

 

Adeje schoolkids warned about ‘Momo Challenge’

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 11:39

CEIP Barranco de Las Torres school in Adeje has alerted students about the presence of the image, and potential dangers of the “Momo Challenge”, which has spread across the internet in recent weeks.

Although the “dare game” is being heralded as a hoax, primary-school youngsters across the UK have already been made aware of the dangers, and now children at the Tenerife school are receiving the same information.

The alleged intention of the “Momo” monster is to encourage children to take up its challenges, via Whatsapp, after “popping-up” during children’s YouTube programmes.

That person, hiding behind the cartoon face, will then, gradually, establish a connection with the child, persuading him or her to take on a series of tests, some of which involving self-harming.

In some cases, she even asks kids to take their own lives, and they are manipulated into thinking that if they don’t accept these challenges, something bad will happen to them, or their loved ones.

On 27th February, YouTube reacted to social media requests to remove the videos from its platform, and carried out an extensive investigation to find the content. But it found no evidence of Momo anywhere in any video.

Following this, they released an official press release saying: “We want to clear something up regarding the Momo challenge. We’ve seen no recent evidence of videos promoting the Momo challenge on YouTube. Videos encouraging harmful and dangerous challenges are against our policies.”

Following this declaration, fact-checkers and charities declared Momo a hoax.

“News coverage of the Momo challenge is prompting schools, or the police, to warn about the supposed risks posed by the Momo Challenge, which has, in turn, produced more news stories warning about the challenge,” said The Guardian’s Jim Waterson.

Kate Tremlett, “harmful content” manager at the UK Safer Internet Centre, also questioned the viral, social news story, saying: “It’s a myth that is perpetuated into being some kind of reality.”

After a lengthy investigation, the NSPCC said there was no evidence to show that the phenomenon was actually posing a threat to British children, adding that it had received more phone calls about it from media members than concerned parents.

A spokesperson for the Samaritans was similarly sceptical, saying: “These stories being highly-publicised, and starting a panic, means vulnerable people get to know about it, and that creates a risk.”

To this day there is no physical evidence of a screen shot, or recorded video, showing Momo appearing on YouTube or any other platform.

The fact that the Canarian Government and schools are educating children about the dangers of the internet, is a good thing, and, although the challenge may be a hoax, the image is in circulation, which is scary enough for some young kids.

The Momo Challenge, like the 2016 Blue Whale challenge, are both viral hoaxes, dreamed up by sick, internet bullies, aimed at vulnerable children to create panic.

Yet, neither has been proven to exist, or has led to any deaths.

 

Council clears roads of dumped vehicles

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 11:39

SAN Miguel Council has removed more than 190 abandoned vehicles from public roads across the municipality, between June 2015 and December 2018.

As reported by Public Security Councillor Dora Gonzalez, the vehicles, parked up and in a state of abandonment, have been taken away.

The reason is that they pose a risk to public health and safely, as well the risk to the public, with the cars dumped all over the place.

This is not the image San Miguel wants to portray, and, for these reasons, immediate action was taken to remove the cars.

To carry out this action, local residents have worked alongside Councillors and Local Police, letting the authorities know about the presence of the dumped cars.

 

 

Police security systems ensure Carnival safety

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 11:38

SANTA Cruz National Police used special security devices during an operation at Tenerife carnival 2019, designed to guarantee public safety, and to provide better public security.

The venture was called Operation Neptuno 2019, and, during the party period, officers with the help of these devises were able to process more than 300 charges.

Some 382 individuals were charged and fined for drug consumption and possession in a public area, another five were charged with possession of a weapon, while seven were taken to police stations because they refused to identify themselves.

In all, 32 individuals were arrested for various reasons, unrelated to the carnival.

In comparison with previous years, the police are highlighting the relatively-better public behaviour by carnival-goers.

 

 

Bank-account commission is facing €3-a-month limit

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 11:37

BANKS will be forced to cap current-account commission, or “admin charges”, to just €3 a month by 25th March.

This welcome move for customers has been introduced by the Spanish Government to ease their monthly burden.

Charges have varied, from €1.50 to over €12 a month, on each and every account, depending upon where you bank, which meant it was not worthwhile setting up separate ones for bills, holidays, car expenses, etc.

Even at €3 a month, banks will still net €36 per year, per account. But with the high-street finance industry being forced more and more to become competitive, offering customers good reasons to stay, some banks are opting to reduce, or even axe, commission altogether.

Unfortunately, many banks continue to demand a minimum, average balance of around €2,000-€3,000 a month to waive commission. Yet these sums are unlikely to be maintained by the ordinary wage-earner, though high enough that €36 annually in admin fees would not make much of a dent.

The difference now is that the €3-a-month maximum must cover credit and debit cards, which means charges for renewing those expired ones must be included.

And up to 120 annual withdrawal or payment operations, within the entire European Union and not just Spain, takes in direct debits, standing orders and transfers.

Once these 120 transactions, averaging 10 per month, have been exhausted, banks are still not permitted to increase commission, beyond their usual sums for these operations, to compensate for any losses by the €3 cap.

So, if a bank doesn’t normally charge for withdrawals, payments or standing orders, it will not be able to do so once 120 transactions in a year have been made.

Transferring money between accounts held at different banks will be amended by the new requirements, making them much easier, and, in most cases, free of charge.

Banks are also required to tell customers about the best deals they can offer on accounts and commissions, whether or not this information is requested.

The €3 cap will be reviewed every two years by the Bank of Spain, meaning it may go up, or even down, depending on various economic factors.

Once details of the new law are published on 25th March in the State Official Bulletin (BOE), they will go live within 20 days, and banks will be required to comply.

 

Car ferry crashes in the same port again

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 10:54

THE Volcan de Tamasite passenger-and-vehicle ferry crashed badly into a pier at Gran Canaria’s La Luz Port, in capital city Las Palmas, while trying to dock in dreadful conditions last Saturday.

It was the ferry’s second collision in the port in nearly two years because, in April 2017, it collided, head-on, into a breakwater in similar conditions.

This time, the ship was said to have made contact with the pier ramp, and had to move off, to await a tug, which helped it dock safely. Its hull appeared to be dented extensively in the stern area, and there was also a suspected hull breach.

The ferry was removed from its schedule, for damages assessment, but no injuries or leaks were reported.

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Cruise ship delayed

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 10:53

THE Zenith cruise liner had to return to port last Monday evening because a passenger took a turn for the worse.

The ship left the Santa Cruz port in La Palma at 5pm. But as it picked up speed to prepare for its journey to Funchal, Madeira some 40 kilometres away, a passenger fell ill.

It soon became obvious to the crew that the passenger needed specific medical assistance because of breathing difficulties, so the ship performed a prompt about-turn the port, so the person could receive the correct treatment.

 

House thieves caught

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 10:52

FOUR men, who forced their way into an Igueste property through a door, were spotted by neighbours, who alerted Candelaria’s Local Police.

Officers were there in no time, and they were able to identify and arrest all four individuals, as they attempted to escape in a car.

The officers, who also searched the vehicle and found several tools as well as gloves, then checked the property and found the door-lock tampered with.

All four individuals were charged with forced entry into a property, as well as robbery, and the case is now in the hands of the Guardia Civil.

 

 

A handy Guardia officer plays mum to a tiny tot

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 10:51

AN officer from the Guardia Civil tended to a small baby, whose father suffered a heart attack while driving their car.

Guardia officers on patrol were told that a vehicle had come to a standstill on the GC-3 in Gran Canaria. On arrival at the scene, they noticed that the driver looked ill.

His wife and child, as well as the infant, were in the car, and officers called for an emergency ambulance to transfer the driver to hospital.

While awaiting the ambulance, a Guardia officer took charge of the infant by giving him a bottle, because his mum was in a state of shock.

The ambulance team quickly assessed the driver, before taking him to hospital for further treatment, while the rest of the family followed behind in their own car, with one of the officers driving.

The Guardia posted on their twitter account that it was one of the most peculiar incidents they had dealt with recently. They also posted a photo of the officer, while she was giving the baby his bottle feed.

Fortunately, his dad has recovered fully, as has mum, and both are now in good health.

 

 

 

Opening party’s line-up for Children of the 80’s

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 10:50

HARD Rock Hotel Tenerife has revealed that its first Children of the 80’s party of the year will be a tribute to Celia Cruz, and the famous open-air show in Tenerife capital Santa Cruz, during the 1987 Carnival.

Lucrecia (Celia Cruz’s tribute act), together with the authentic Billo’s Caracas Boys from Venezuela, will headline the celebrations tomorrow (Saturday), when the 2019 series of Children of the 80’s kicks off at the open-air stage of Hard Rock Hotel Tenerife.

Like Celia Cruz, Lucrecia is a Cuban singer, currently playing Celia in a touring musical about her life. She will lead a special tribute to the Latino legend, one of the most popular Latin artists of the 20th century, who died in 2003 at the age of 77.

Billo’s Caracas Boys, returning to Tenerife for the first time in 10 years, will support Lucrecia, and add to the Carnival atmosphere, with their Afro-Cuban-influenced music.

The group, hailing from Venezuela, were formed and led by Billo Frometa, until his death in 1990.

Celia Cruz and Billo’s Caracas Boys both took part in the 1987 Tenerife Carnival, and their scintillating performance made the Guinness Book of Records for the largest open-air gathering of people for a music show.

The event took place at the Plaza de España in Santa Cruz, with an audience of 250,000, dancing in the street to Caribbean, Colombian, Cuban and Caracas songs.

The event is still considered one of the Canary Islands’ most symbolic, musical moments.

These special guests will be supported by DJ trio Dream Team and local Canarian stars Puretas Party, who warm up the crowds at every Children of the 80’s party with their dance-floor classics.

The party atmosphere will be boosted by acrobats, break-dancers, spectacular visuals, 80’s photo-calls and plenty of other surprises, to keep the crowds entertained all night long. What’s more, the first 100 people to arrive at the party will receive a special present.

Ten dates for “Children of the 80’s” are planned for this year at Hard Rock Hotel Tenerife, with a party each month, taking place between 7pm and midnight. The headline artists for these events will be announced before their arrival.

Early-bird tickets are €18 per person and are available to purchase online at www.childrenofthe80s.com

Guests at Hard Rock Hotel Tenerife will have full access to all live events at no extra cost.

Deluxe rooms at Hard Rock Hotel Tenerife are priced from €131 on a B&B basis, based on two people sharing (www.hrhtenerife.com).

 

Knife-man held for stabbing his in-law

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 10:50

THE National Police have arrested a 59-year-old man, accused of stabbing his brother-in-law during a family “discussion”, the injury leaving a serious wound.

The family row happened at the home of the detainee, in Los Realejos, Puerto de la Cruz, and, according to other family members, the discussion was over stupid, trivial family matters.

Family members told police officers that during the so-called discussion, one of them took a knife and attempted, repeatedly, to stab the other man, eventually making contact and puncturing his victim’s arm.

The wounded man, and his wife, departed for home promptly, but stopped on the way by the National Police station to report the incident. Officers immediately requested an ambulance, because of the severity of the wound.

Once the victim was seen by medics, officers arrested the assailant, because of the severity of the situation.

The detainee, later found at his Puerto de la Cruz home, was immediately arrested by the National Police.

The corresponding report, along with the detainee, has been presented before the judicial authorities.

 

 

HIV-cure man giving hope to many millions

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 10:49

A MAN in Britain has become the second-known adult worldwide to be cleared of the HIV virus after receiving a

bone-marrow transplant from an HIV-resistant donor, his doctors revealed.

Almost three years after receiving bone-marrow stem cells from a donor with a rare genetic mutation that resists HIV infection, and more than 18 months after he came off

anti-retroviral drugs, highly-sensitive tests still show no trace of the man’s previous HIV infection.

“There is no virus there that we can measure,” said Ravindra Gupta, the professor and HIV biologist, who co-led a team of doctors treating the man “We can’t detect anything,”.

He described his patient as “functionally cured and in remission”, but cautioned: “It’s too early to say he’s cured.”

The man is being called “the London patient”, in part because his case is similar to the first-known case of a functional cure of HIV.

American Timothy Brown, “the Berlin patient”, who had similar treatment in Germany in 2007, which also cleared his HIV, leaving him still free of the virus.

Gupta, now at Cambridge University, treated the London patient when he was working at the city’s University College. The man had contracted HIV in 2003, said Gupta said, and was also diagnosed with a type of blood cancer called Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2012.

Four years later, when he was extremely ill with cancer, doctors decided to seek a transplant match for him. “This was really his last chance of survival,” said Professor Gupta. The donor who was unrelated, had a genetic mutation known as CCR5 delta 32, which confers resistance to HIV.

The transplant went relatively smoothly, said Gupta, but there were some side-effects, including the patient suffering a period of “graft-versus-host” disease.

That is a condition in which donor immune cells attack the recipient’s immune cells. Most experts say it is unlikely that such treatments could be a way of curing all patients. And anyway, the procedure is expensive, complex and risky.

Exact-match donors would have to be found in the tiny proportion of people, most of them of northern European descent, who have the CCR5 mutation.

Specialists said it was not yet clear whether the CCR5 resistance was the only key, or whether the graft-versus-host disease might have been just as important.

The Berlin and London patients both had this complication, which may have played a role in the loss of HIV-infected cells, said the Professor, adding that his team planned to use these findings to explore potential HIV treatment strategies.

“We need to understand if we could knock out this [CCR5] receptor in people with HIV, which may be possible with gene therapy,” he said.

The London patient, whose case will be reported in the Nature journal, and was presented at a medical conference in Seattle last week, has asked his medical team not to reveal his name, age, nationality or other details.

The Aids pandemic has killed about 35 million people worldwide since it was recognised in the 1980s, and some 37 million people are infected with HIV.

 

Medical team win race to save life of a tiny tot

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 10:48

THE Canarian medical ambulance service saved a small child’s life last week, thanks to its quick, attentive response.

The drama unfolded in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, when the

emergency services received a call for help. The operator was told that a small boy, who had suffered a head injury, had also started vomiting.

The incident happened just before 7pm at the San Agustin Hotel, where the holiday-makers were staying.

When the ambulance team arrived and found the 23-month-old toddler unconscious, they began resuscitating him immediately.

Paramedics were able to control the situation, before transferring him, urgently, to the San Roques de Maspalomas Hospital’s paediatric department, where he was incubated and stabilised.

He was then taken to the University Hospital in Las Palmas, and, just a week later, the little fighter was discharged, thanks to the paramedics’ rapid response.

 

Doctor faces prison,  after sexual assaults

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 10:48

THE Prosecutors Office has requested a four-year prison sentence, as well as a five-year suspension, for a doctor who has been accused of sexually-harassing several patients.

But the Investigating Judge has not yet confirmed a date for his trial. Following the victims’ allegations, as well as the image the story is giving the medical profession, the Board at the College of Physicians, in Las Palmas, have decided to appear in an open-court case against the doctor.

The National Police, who have detained the 65-year-old GP in Las Palmas, were aware that he had a record for crimes of a similar nature, and that they had arrested him previously.

Officers, who received the first official report from a patient at the end of 2018, began an immediate investigation, after she said the GP had touched her, inappropriately, while at his surgery.

The victim also reported that the doctor had been touching her, incorrectly, on several occasions.

She hadn’t reported the matter earlier because she was frightened that people wouldn’t believe her, as well as being embarrassed to reveal what had been going on.

During their investigation, officers located a further 99 women, who had all requested a new doctor recently.

Of the group, 20 women reported being touched by the GP, sexually, while being examined, medically.

The Medical Association sympathises with those women assaulted by the GP, and states that they are at the victim’s disposal.

The Official College of Physicians in Las Palmas has now ditched the GP, as requested by of the judicial authorities.

He was also sacked because of the seriousness of the accusations made by several woman, saying the doctor touched them all, inappropriately.

 

 

 

 

Ethiopian Airlines crash was second new Boeing failure in three months

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 10:47

THE Ethiopian Airlines crash last Sunday was the second involving a brand-new Boeing 737, just three months after 189 passengers were killed in a tragedy in Indonesia.

The deaths of 157 passengers and crew, when the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft crashed within minutes of take-off in Addis Ababa, raise serious questions about the safety record of both aircraft and airline.

Another crash by a brand-new Boeing 737 Max 8, in Indonesia, under five months ago, saw 189 people lose their lives in the Java Sea when Lion Air Flight 610 plummeted out of the skies, minutes after taking off from Jakarta.

This latest horror brings the African carrier’s death toll to 482, spanning 22 fatal incidents, since its inception in 1965, and nearly 500 more people have been injured in EA crashes and incidents, according to information from the Flight Safety Foundation.

In comparison, just one British Airways flight has ever been involved in a fatal incident: the 1976 Zagreb runway crash, when all 176 people aboard two planes died after BA Flight 476 collided with another aircraft on take-off, through an error by air-traffic control.

As a safeguard, airspace in Spain and the rest of the EU has now been closed to all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), after 31 airlines and 15 countries had already banned the Boeing model.

The temporary suspension of the aircraft from European airspace was effective from Tuesday evening.

The United Nations believes there were 19 staff members of UN-affiliated organisations on board the flight.

Tewolde GebreMarium, who runs Ethiopian Airlines, visited the crash scene, 60km south-east of Addis Ababa, and “regrets to confirm that there are no survivors”.

And the country’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, offered condolences to the victims’ families.

The passengers came from 33 countries, according to Ethiopia’s Fana Broadcasting Corporate.

The victims included 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians, eight Italians, eight Chinese citizens, eight Americans, seven British citizens, seven French citizens, six Egyptians, five Dutch citizens, four Indians, four people from Slovakia, three Austrians, three Swedes, three Russians, two Moroccans, two Spaniards, two Poles and two Israelis.

One person, from each of these countries, Belgium, Indonesia, Somalia, Norway, Serbia, Togo, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda and Yemen, also perished, while four people onboard were listed as using United Nations passports, and their nationalities were not immediately clear.

The plane took off at 8.38am from Bole International Airport and “lost contact” six minutes later, near Bishoftu, a town some 60km from Addis Ababa by road.

“The pilot mentioned that he had difficulties and that he wanted to return,” said GebreMarium during a press conference. “He was given the clearance to return back.”

The airline chief said the aircraft involved had flown from Johannesburg that morning, while the pilot was senior with more than 8,000 hours of flying experience.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office tweeted: “It would like to express its deepest condolences to the families of those who have lost their loved ones on Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 on a regular, scheduled flight to Nairobi, Kenya this morning.”

Initial reports showed considerable similarities between the Ethiopian and Indonesian disasters, which involved the same make of plane.

Last year, Lion Air 610 also went down, minutes after take-off, having requested permission to return to base.

Telemetry shows the tragic plane’s vertical airspeed fluctuated rapidly in the minutes and second before its crash on Sunday, including the final moments, when it seems to have been locked in a terrifyingly-accelerating nosedive.

Investigations so far by the Indonesian and American aviation authorities have concluded that the Lion Air plane also hit the sea after a violent nosedive.

The New York Times reported that investigators were considering whether that dive might have been caused by updated Boeing software, which was meant to prevent a stall. But it could send the plane into a fatal descent if the altitude and angle information being fed into the computer system was incorrect.

The change in the flight-control system, which can over-ride manual motions in the MAX model, was not explained to pilots, according to some pilots’ unions.

After that crash, Boeing said that it was “continuing to evaluate the need for software, or other changes, as we learn more from the ongoing investigation”.

But it was unclear whether the company had made any changes. In a statement on Sunday, Boeing said it was “deeply saddened” to learn of the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.

The company added: “A Boeing technical team is prepared to provide technical assistance at the request, and under the direction, of the US National Transportation Safety Board.”

The state-owned Ethiopian Airlines calls itself Africa’s largest carrier and has ambitions of becoming the gateway to the continent.

The airline does have a better safety rating, and a newer fleet, than some neighbouring operators. In fact, a number of African airlines are banned outright from EU airspace, including the flag-carrier of neighbouring Eritrea.

But in addition to 16 fatal incidents, costing 102 lives in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, the airline has now suffered six fatal incidents in the last 30 years, including other two huge tragedies.

In 1996, after a hijacking and a failed water landing, 125 people died on Flight 961 in Moroni, the capital of the Union of the Comoros, in the Indian Ocean.

And in January 2010, 82 passengers and eight crew died when EA flight 409, from Beirut to Addis Ababa, slammed into the Mediterranean shortly after take-off.

The MAX 8 is the latest version of the aircraft, which Boeing rolled out in 2017 as an update to the already-redesigned 50-year-old 737.

 

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