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Germany’s Merkel arming the Middle East for geo-strategic influence

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Chancellor Angela Merkel has shifted core stratagem of Germany’s foreign and security policies by exporting high tech weapons and armaments to conflict zones in Middle Eastern countries accused of human rights violations.

Germany that had always restrained in intervening in Mid-east, is now playing role in conflicts and even Western led regime change in Yemen and Syria. While Nazi Germany had imposed restrictions for the sale of its arms and ammunition to the region of North Atlantic zone but Merkel has shifted its foreign policy goal to sale of weapons to Middle East for geo-strategic influence.

A recent report  revealed Merkel’s government of exporting massive chunk of weapons worth  €25 billion ($30.9 billion) since taking power in 2014.

The political rivals including Green’s criticized the coalition of Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats  (CDU) and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) for selling the weapons to dictatorship regimes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Saudi Arabia, who intends to increase its influence in the Middle East by militarily changing the regime in Yemen, had launched  military incursion into Yemen in 2015 by targeting Houthi rebels and other forces that Riyadh believes are supported by Iran.

Human rights organisations have accused Saudi Arabia of war crimes over its conduct in Yemen, where more than 5,200 civilians have been killed and 8,800 injured since Riyadh intervened militarily in Yemen.

Germany announced on Jan. 19 that it would “immediately” stop approving arms exports to parties participating in the war in Yemen, a group that includes Saudi Arabia – a major buyer of German weapon.

The Left party leaders have accused the coalition of backtracking from its promise of ceasing weapons export policy that was purely based on economy. The timing of the report is quite significant as it influences the current ongoing talks between the CPU and SPD on forming the next government.

Angela Merkel government is facing uncertainty in completely its full fourth term in office till 2021 as  a recent poll shows that her approval ratings have dramatically slumped over last three months. The Chancellor has failed to strike a coalition deal since the election, which had left Germany without a government for more than 13 weeks.

The arms deal report will make her job more difficult as coalition’s foreign policy has already pledged that they would introduce further limits on arms exports and immediately end arms sales to countries involved in the Yemen conflict. They would also rein in progress in EU accession talks with Turkey.

The photos of Turkish armed forces employing German built Type 2 “Leopard” tanks in the Afrin region of Syria  have initiated a  debate in Germany over the  close diplomatic ties between Berlin and Ankara.

Green Party parliamentary vice-president Claudia Roth demanded an arms embargo, as well as the cancellation of the controversial “refugee pact” signed between the European Union and Turkey. Roth accused Erdogan of “pouring oil onto a regional fire” with his offensive against the Kurdish YPG militia.

Germany, the Europe’s largest economy  and the leading power broker has to move forward in completing Brexit talks and reforming Eurozone. The countries in European Union are looking forward to Germany for taking diplomatic initiatives for the progress of the bloc.

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, has urged the European Union to work for the needed reforms  to be able to compete with big powers like China and the United States.

Further said that “more ambitious” EU countries must be able to move toward more European integration, even if other European countries don’t want to join in.

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By: Arti Bali

Senior Journalist

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Male sex hormones may help treat breast cancer: Study

While endocrine therapy is standard-of-care for estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, resistance to these drugs is the major cause of breast cancer mortality.

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Sydney : Researchers have found new evidence about the positive role of androgens, commonly thought of as male sex hormones but also found at lower levels in women, in breast cancer treatment.

In normal breast development, estrogen stimulates and androgen inhibits growth at puberty and throughout adult life.

Abnormal estrogen activity is responsible for the majority of breast cancers, but the role of androgen activity in this disease has been controversial.

The new research published in the journal Nature Medicine showed that androgens have potential for treatment of estrogen receptor positive breast cancer.

A cancer is called estrogen receptor positive if it has receptors for estrogen, according to Breastcancer.org.

Using cell-line and patient-derived models, the global team, including researchers at the University of Adelaide and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia, demonstrated that androgen receptor activation by natural androgen or a new androgenic drug had potent anti-tumour activity in all estrogen receptor positive breast cancers, even those resistant to current standard-of-care treatments.

In contrast, androgen receptor inhibitors had no effect.

“This work has immediate implications for women with metastatic estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, including those resistant to current forms of endocrine therapy,” said lead researcher Theresa Hickey, Associate Professor at the University of Adelaide.

“We provide compelling new experimental evidence that androgen receptor stimulating drugs can be more effective than existing (e.g. Tamoxifen) or new (e.g. Palbociclib) standard-of-care treatments and, in the case of the latter, can be combined to enhance growth inhibition,” said Wayne Tilley, Director of the Dame Roma Mitchell Cancer Research Laboratories, Adelaide Medical School, University of Adelaide.

Androgens were historically used to treat breast cancer, but knowledge of hormone receptors in breast tissue was rudimentary at the time and the treatment’s efficacy misunderstood.

Androgen therapy was discontinued due to virilising side effects and the advent of anti-estrogenic endocrine therapies.

While endocrine therapy is standard-of-care for estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, resistance to these drugs is the major cause of breast cancer mortality.

“The new insights from this study should clarify the widespread confusion over the role of the androgen receptor in estrogen receptor driven breast cancer,” said Elgene Lim, a breast oncologist and Head of the Connie Johnson Breast Cancer Research Lab at the Garvan Institute.

“Given the efficacy of this treatment strategy at multiple stages of disease in our study, we hope to translate these findings into clinical trials as a new class of endocrine therapy for breast cancer.”

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Azim Premji and Dr Devi Shetty chosen for PCB awards

Besides them 25 senior journalists have been selected for the ‘Press Club Annual Awards’, a release said.

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Bengaluru, Jan 19: The chairman of Wipro Limited Azim Premji and the founder chairman of Narayana Health Dr Devi Prasad Shetty are among those who have been selected for the annual awards given by the Press Club of Bangalore.

Premji has been chosen for ‘Press Club Person of the Year’, while Dr Shetty and actor-Director Sudeep Sanjeev have been selected for the ‘Press Club Special Award.’

Besides them 25 senior journalists have been selected for the ‘Press Club Annual Awards’, a release said.

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa will facilitate the awardees at a function scheduled for the third week of February, it said.

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Elizabeth Olsen: Nepotism creates fear that you don’t deserve the work you get

The actress added that she “always had this need to prove myself to everyone around me that I work really hard”, adding: “I couldn’t walk in a room without everyone already having an opinion.”

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Los Angeles, Jan 19 : Hollywood star Elizabeth Olsen says she once thought of changing her surname and distance herself from the success of her family because it was insanity growing up in the spotlight.

“It was insanity. There were times when my sisters would always be spotted and I would be in the car with them and it would really freak me out. It has helped me navigate how I want to approach my career,” said the actress, whose older sisters are Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen.

The actress added that she “always had this need to prove myself to everyone around me that I work really hard”, adding: “I couldn’t walk in a room without everyone already having an opinion.”

Elizabeth opened up om the fears of nepotism.

“The thing about nepotism is the fear that you don’t earn or deserve the work. There was even a part of me when I was a little girl that thought if I’m gonna be an actress I’m going to go by Elizabeth Chase, which is my middle name. And then, once I started working, I was like, ‘I love my family, I like my name, I love my sisters. Why would I be so ashamed of that?’ It’s fine now,” she said.

The actress said fame has made her more of a homebody.

“Fame has also made me someone who is more of a homebody than maybe I would like to be but I know where not to go. If I could do whatever I wanted for the day, I’d start with the gym, then I’d go to the grocery store, because it’s my favourite thing,” Elizabeth told The Sun.

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