Thursday, September 30, 2004

Aluta Continua: Cuban Updates (My new segment so IGNORANT people know of Cuban progress)

Cuba, a Model of Hurricane Preparation

Says UN Officialby Prensa Latina
Posted: Sep 15, 2004
20:16 UTCUnited Nations (Prensa Latina)

The head of the UN body that focuses on disaster reduction said Cuba is a model for other countries in the management of hurricane risks, according to UN News Center.Salvano Briceno, director of the International Secretariat for Disaster Reduction, said Cubans are taught in schools, universities and workplaces how to prepare for hurricanes and how to cope with them if they hit the country.Some 1.3 million Cuban people were evacuated from their homes in anticipation of the arrival of Hurricane Ivan. Television and radio stations are used to transmit information to the public and all institutions are mobilized 48 hours in advance of the expected arrival of a serious storm, the official praised.Mr. Briceno said there is also the strong Cuban political desire to minimize the impact of hurricanes on the local population - something that is missing in some other nations. "Leaders of countries around the world have at their disposal the knowledge needed to reduce risk and vulnerability to hazards. Even poor countries are not entirely without options to mitigate or prevent the consequences of hazards," he said. ile/ccs/ima/

Cuban drug to make debut in U.S.

Globe and Mail Update
Tuesday, September 07, 2004

You still can't buy a good Cuban cigar in the United States, but an apparent policy shift in Washington is paving the way for the arrival of experimental cancer treatments from the outcast island country.

In July, the U.S. Department of the Treasury gave CancerVax Corp. of San Diego the green light to license a package of three drugs that were developed at the Centre of Molecular Immunology (CIM) in Havana.

The package included two early stage cancer compounds from YM BioSciences Inc. of Mississauga, which has been CIM's licensing partner since 1995.

CancerVax also picked up a cancer vaccine that YM returned to CIM in 2002 as part of a corporate refocusing.

"This is the first time a Cuban-originated biological product has been licensed by a U.S. company," said YM president and chief executive officer David Allan, referring to CancerVax's two-year lobbying in Congress to drive a wedge in the Helms-Burton Act. The legislation prohibits Americans from any commercial venture that would funnel money to Cuba.

"The astonishing thing to me is that it happened at all."

The shadow of U.S.-Cuban political and trade frictions has hung over YM since it was founded in 1994 to commercialize medical discoveries in Cuba.

Specifically, investors in North America were reluctant to finance development of TheraCIM and several other Cuban cancer treatments because of potential hurdles in winning marketing approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. As a result, the bulk of YM's financing has taken place in Europe, where investors have encouraged the company to diversify beyond Cuba.

While CIM and YM get up-front cash and future royalties if CancerVax's testing succeeds, YM retained ownership of the drug TheraCIM.
TheraCIM is an antibody that targets the epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor to block tumour growth, a mechanism of action that makes it equivalent to ImClone Systems Inc.'s hot-selling Erbitux cancer drug.

A spokesman for the U.S. State Department said the CancerVax licence was a unique case that recognized the "potential to successfully treat a deadly disease using technology not otherwise available."

As a matter of policy, he said the government will continue to "consider licence requests where there is a potential benefit to U.S. public health."

Mr. Allan said CancerVax's breakthrough is expected to accelerate YM's negotiations to sign a sales and marketing deal for TheraCIM with a U.S. drug company.

"My guess is it will go quite quickly," he said, adding that TheraCIM is the only EGF receptor drug without a marketing partner in the United States. The reason: the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba that prevented companies from even negotiating with YM.

YM has already partnered TheraCIM in Europe with Oncoscience AG of Germany, which is planning several clinical trials this year, including a late-stage study in brain cancer.

The drug has won 10 years of marketing exclusivity if approved, which could help the drug approval process in the United States, analysts say.

"[Brain cancer] is a small market but in oncology, if you get something approved, oncologists tend to use it off-label for other cancers," said Dlouhy Merchant Group analyst Doug Loe.

Sprott Securities analyst David Dean, who initiated coverage of YM in June with a 12-month target price of $7, calls the stock price "dramatically undervalued." It closed Friday at $3.35 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, giving the company a market value of $94.4-million.
"People misunderstand YM because of the early Cuban connection and a so-called failed clinical trial for tesmilifene, and neither of those are applicable any more," he said.

"The YM story has really changed but people are slow to realize it."

YM's flagship tesmilifene drug was discovered at the University of Manitoba and is designed to make chemotherapy drugs work better.
In an earlier late-stage study, the drug failed its primary end point of tumour response in 305 women with metastatic breast cancer.
But after further analysis, scientists found that it had extended patient survival by more than 50 per cent, compared with a control arm, and 143 per cent in women with aggressive breast cancer.

Those results prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to accept the study as one of two needed for approval.

It also gave YM the green light for a second late-stage trial, which only needs to show a 33-per-cent improvement in survival over chemotherapy alone.

Moreover, the FDA gave YM permission to review the test data after 192 deaths, which Mr. Allan figures will occur in mid-2006.
If the drug can show a 50-per-cent improvement in survival, YM can file for approval at that time, setting the stage for a possible 2007 launch. If not, the trial will continue until all 700 patients are studied.

Mr. Dean likes tesmilifene's chances of success and estimates the drug's initial market potential at $300-million (U.S.) a year, climbing to more than $1-billion if it is used with several chemotherapy drugs and also to treat a certain type of prostate cancer.
Mr. Allan said YM is negotiating a co-development deal for the sales and marketing of tesmilifene, with the objective of getting a 50-per-cent share of revenues.

"Our preference is a U.S. biotech company that is ready to launch a cancer product with its own sales force and will need additional products like tesmilifene to sell."

Maradona leaves for drug treatment in Cuba

Mon Sep 20, 1:46 PM ET
BUENOS AIRES (AFP) - Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona left for Cuba to undergo treatment for his addiction to cocaine.

The 43-year-old - who was accompanied by one of his sisters and his doctor Alfredo Cahe - had won a court battle to be allowed to do so after his ex-wife and daughters challenged that believing he would not get the treatment he needed.

Maradona gave an emotional television interview on the eve of his departure saluting his fans.

"I love you very deeply," he said.

"I will do my best to stay alive. I am still with you, whatever happens in the future it will be me who decides and not others.

"I love you all with all my heart....with the heart that remains to me."

Only 10 days ago Maradona had to be rushed to hospital with high blood pressure and a high fever, having almost died earlier in the year because of heart and lung problems.

The Argentinian court though ruled that the 1986 World Cup winner could only be treated in The Mental Health Centre (CENSAM) in Havana and nowhere else on the island.

Director praises Fidel,blasts Bush in Spain
Oliver Stone says president 'will go downin history as one of the great baddies'

Posted: September 25, 20041:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2004

Director Oliver Stone ripped President Bush while praising Cuban dictator Fidel Castro

before the premiere of his movie "Looking for Fidel," at the 52nd San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain.

Stone charged that Bush stole the election with the help of anti-Castro Cuban-Americans in Florida, according to a report in Cuba's Granma newspaper.

"When (Vice President Al) Gore lost, or rather, when they stole the elections from him, I sensed that something dirty was going to happen, but the harm has already been done and its extent is very significant," said Stone. "Now, I am praying that something of that sort does not occur once again. George Bush will go down in history as one of the great baddies."

A reporter asked: "What kind of power does the anti-Castro lobby in the United States have?"

"To start with, anti-Castro groups were vital in implementing the dirty business of the butterfly ballots ensuring Bush's victory at the 2000 elections," said Stone. "The right wing is the same everywhere, in Cuba or Viet Nam. It is like an octopus, snatching everything with its tentacles. They control the Internet, radio and TV stations, and newspapers. But above all, they are perfectly organized. Right wingers master the art of negative publicity and are capable of destroying the image of anyone they consider to be their enemy. They annihilate anything opposed to their interests, utilizing mass emailing, articles, and reports. In the United States, censorship is the order of the day. It is really sad to think that Florida may end up deciding the November elections once again, and that the extreme-right wing, including anti-Castro groups, may manipulate the results for a second time. These people are blinded by patriotic fanaticism and are ready to invade any country, and shoot down planes if necessary. They thought that my first movie about Castro, 'Comandante,' was hideous, and they killed it almost before it was even born. They were merely afraid of it."

On the other hand, Stone had nothing but praise for Castro, who has clung to authoritarian power with no elections in Cuba for half a century.

"Street demonstrations in favor of Fidel Castro are not a fake," claimed Stone. "If they were, those demonstrators should win an Oscar for best acting. I can testify to this because I have seen the joy on their faces when people come up to the president."

Stone also said: "President Bush has set the world on fire."

"In Cuba, I observed an openness and freedom that I had not found in any other country in the region, the Caribbean or Central America," Stone said. "I have met many world leaders in Panama, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, but have never seen the kind of spontaneous affection for a leader expressed on the streets as I have seen in Cuba towards Fidel."

A journalist asked Stone if the scenes of popular expressions for Castro in his movie were staged.

"They were totally spontaneous," said Stone. "We have visited several hospitals where they could have been expecting us, but having looked at people’s faces, I know that none of this was a fake. I have directed actors and I know when people are pretending and when they are not. Castro repeatedly asked me where I wanted to go next, and wherever we went, people would spontaneously come up to him. Where else in the world would this happen?"

Stone was effusive in his praise for Castro.

"I admire Fidel because he is a survivor," he said. "He has survived several U.S. presidents who have tried to eliminate him.”

He also said he admired Castro because of "his self confidence and honesty." The filmmaker confirmed that Castro "is one of the few world presidents who does not have one cent stashed abroad, and, at the same time, has brought his people to such a high educational level."
And what's the state of the USA in this presidential election year?

"My country is becoming more violent and negative every day," he said. "Bush has never been interested in consensus. In the year 2000, as we have unfortunately come to learn, a dangerous radical with a huge hidden agenda was hiding behind the mask of a compassionate conservative. This is a shame and a tragedy. The world would be completely different today had Bush not stolen the elections from Gore. Bush is only adding more fuel to the fire. He is a slave and the puppet of the large weapons and oil companies which put him into office."

On the trail of Che


TORONTO -- Revolutionary Che Guevara is one of the most controversial figures of the 20th century in Latin America. But the filmmakers behind The Motorcycle Diaries came to praise him for his early idealism, not bury him for his historical legacy. "I didn't want to judge those characters, you know," says Brazilian filmmaker Walter Salles, "nor see them as who they became 20 years later. I wanted to try to look at them with innocence."


Salles is referring both to Ernesto Guevara - the Argentinian doctor who became Che, the iconic rebel - and Alberto Granada - Che's best friend, a scientist who also became a revolutionary. Granada still lives in Fidel Castro's Cuba, the troubled country he and Che helped to shape before Che died in action in a revolutionary war in Bolivia.

In the film, which plays in Spanish with English subtitles, emerging international movie star Gael Garcia Bernal plays Guevara; Rodrigo de la Serna is Granada.

"This is really what interests me in cinema," Salles says of the innocence in The Motorcycle Diaries, "the possibility to look at something in a way that one hasn't looked before."

The film is based on two books, Guevara's The Motorcycle Diaries and Granada's Traveling With Che Guevara, accounts of their epic 1952 road trip from Argentina to Venezuela. It started as a lark on a battered 1939 Norton bike that was badly leaking oil. It turned into a journey of discovery and socio-political transformation. En route, the two became radical idealists.

The film, which won the Ecumenical Prize at Cannes but was shut out of the main awards by Quentin Tarantino's jury, made its North American premiere at the Toronto film fest last month. It opens on Friday as one of the year's intriguing films.

But The Motorcycle Diaries is also stirring up passions and anger, especially in the U.S. where some Cuban exiles are furious that a sympathetic portrait of Che has been made.

"Somebody asked me what Guevara would think of Cuba today," says Salles, a motorcycle enthusiast and left-leaning filmmaker, who was born in Rio de Janeiro in April of 1956.

"I think that's completely out of the frame of this film. I think what's in frame here is his perception of Latin America at that time. It's really about his understanding that things could change - as I think things should change today because, if you look at the continent today, it's pretty similar to what it was. You know, the structural problems are pretty much the same."

The filmmakers, travelling light with a small crew, took the same journey as Guevara and Granada - three times - although not by motorcycle.

Twice was to scout locations, the third time to shoot the movie, mostly in sequence.

"You don't get any younger doing road movies, I can tell you!" Salles says with a wry smile.

"What we tried to do here was not only to adapt the two books but be faithful to the spirit of the journey. And that meant that we had to be accepting of whatever nature was going to bring us."

Nature brought blistering heat and frigid cold, including a freak snowstorm in Patagonia that meant Bernal and de la Serna pushed the heavy bike up a mountain road in snow.


"When you live in Latin America, you soon realize as a filmmaker that you have to work in synchronicity with nature and not try to control it," says Salles.

"So what we were aiming to do here is a film with a sense of urgency. We soon understood that what we were framing today was not very different from what existed in 1952.

"And that made us understand that we were doing a film in the present tense and not doing what you would call 'the historical film.' So we tried to move as organically and as rapidly as we could.

"Also, in this film, the human geography was more important to us than the physical geography."

Monday, September 27, 2004

Idle Musing

These are some pictures that I designed... hmmm if anyone ever wondered that is my girlfriend in the pictures yes...

Well here is a song that I like, or more acurately the translation of a song I like:

Title: Devil Mood - by Smoke City( A Disbanded European Band)

I am totally obsessed.
Please tell me, gently:
why are you so bad-
my terribly beautiful baby?
You're naughty whenever I see you
I want you more than yesterday
Yes true I want you
You're a bad one through and through

Nobody ever tried me thus
So beautiful and so wicked
from one thing- beautiful angel-
to the other- a devil
Delinquent and angelic, melting me
Your kiss is my wish
Take me to your hell

I feel in a devil mood
Being instilled by the devil
We get hot brings me so much pain
And pleasure I cant keep away

I am totally obsessed.
Please tell me, gently
why are you so bad-
my terribly beautiful baby?
You're naughty when I see you
I want you more than yesterday.
Yes it's true I want you
You're a bad one through an through
You're the devil but you're also an angel

I feel in a devil mood
Being instilled by the devil
We get hot
My devil, I love you
I love you, I love you,I love you

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Caribbean Poetry That I Like

'Hello Ungod'

Ungod my lungs blacken
the cities have fallen
the easy prescriptions
have drilled final holes in my cells
Ungod my head sieves in the wind
Ungod I am sterile
Ungod it appears
I am dying
Ungod I am scared
Ungod can you hear me
Ungod I am testing 1 2 3
Ungod are you evil
Ungod I can't hear you
Ungod I am trying
Ungod I can't reach you
Ungod my lungs blacken
the cities have fallen
head sieves in the wind

Ungod disconnecting.

Lunch Hour

Frederick Street
strangled by people.

Stiletto heels
stab at the pavement.

In the formica atmosphere
waiters scuttle by
serving diners their noon portion
of air-conditioned aloofness.

bites hugely
into the time.

At last at the elbow
a waiter
with his 'Instant Coffee' smile.

They've tried to make
that awkward dark cell
below the staircase
into a romantic alcove
eating there alone
as she always does
the young girl barricades
herself behind a stare
hard as old toast.

Going back
the balding city square
smells of dust, detachment
and passions discarded
like cheap coats.

Judy Miles
b. TRINIDAD 1944

This Is The Dark Time, My Love

This is the dark time, my love.
All around the land brown beetles crawl about.
The shining sun is hidden in the sky.
Red flowers bend their heads in sorrow.

This is the dark time, my love.
It is the season of oppression, dark metal, and tears.
It is the festival of guns, the carnival of misery.
Everywhere the faces of men are strained and anxious.

Who comes walking in the dark night time?
Whose boot of steel tramps down the slender grass?
It is the man of death, my love, the stranger invader
watching yousleep and aiming at your dream.

by Martin Carter
b. GUYANA 1927