Ivy's Poison

Ivy's Poison

The pictures on the front page of practically every major newspaper on Wednesday, January 17, conjure an ugly image of Bangladesh's political scene. Frenzied men with weapons attacking each other, their faces in grotesque contortions representing rage, venom, aggression. This would not be anything out of the ordinary given the current trends of streets looking like battlefields after clashes between opposing political groups or more realistically, between factions of the same political group. Wednesday's images, however, have taken our political image to an all-time low. They are of a woman city mayor, the first of her kind to hold such a position, being shielded by her followers from being attacked by a mob of men—supporters of an MP known for his mysterious and tenacious grasp over Narayanganj.

Despite all their attempts to protect her, Mayor Ivy was injured—a brick hit her leg and in the jostling she fell. Newspapers say around 50 were hurt though none of them can quantify the terror and despair of the people of this city who had to witness these disturbing, shameful scenes. For it is indeed shameful that a city's mayor would be attacked by members of the ruling party because she was trying to do her job.

The entire fiasco centred on the issue of eviction of hawkers from footpaths so that pedestrians could use them. Seems like a regular duty of a diligent mayor. But in Narayanganj, as anywhere else in the country, politics is far from being regular. As expected, when the eviction drive was announced, the hawkers, through their association, protested—where would they go after all?

The mayor was given a memorandum, she announced her decision to free the footpaths, the hawkers staged demonstrations, the city corporation announced a few designated areas where the hawkers could sell their ware till February 27 from 5pm to 9pm, a lawmaker gave a 24-hour ultimatum to revoke the eviction drive and give the footpaths back to the hawkers, and finally in a bizarre confrontation, the mayor and her supporters were attacked by the said lawmaker's men.

If you were a stranger to our special brand of politics, the first logical question would be: Why is this lawmaker interfering with the mayor's work? The second one would be: If the lawmaker was so concerned about the hawkers' wellbeing, couldn't he have had a discussion with the mayor and work out a solution? Thirdly, why did it all turn so violent with someone even brandishing his gun and allegedly firing shots into the air? Fourthly, and most importantly, why would a lawmaker's followers attack the city's mayor? Are they not on the same side—same government, same party?

These questions may seem quite straightforward and resulting from pure common sense. But this is Narayanganj we are talking about—Bangladesh's Gotham City where the Joker reigns with full impunity and Batman is a simply attired woman who has taken on the task of trying to fix a city that seems almost unfixable, being in the grip of one of the most powerful political families in Bangladesh's history. This is the place of the famous “seven-murder case” that involved members of the RAB as well as influential people connected to the political elite. is is where Tanwir Muhammad Taqi, the son of cultural activist Rafiur Rabbi of Narayanganj, was abducted and killed on March 6, 2013. Even after more than three years, the law enforcers have yet to find his killer(s) although Taqi's father has filed cases against certain individuals including the nephew of the lawmaker involved in Tuesday's incident.

But to be fair, having Selina Hayat Ivy as a mayor has been a sliver of hope for this Gotham of a city. Ivy, despite her formidable opponents, has endured, perhaps because of being from a political family—her father, Ali Ahmed Chunka, was a former Narayanganj municipal chairman and an AL leader—and definitely because of sheer grit and determination. 2011, she won the mayoral elections after beating Shamim Osman by one lakh votes. In 2016, despite efforts by MP Shamim Osman to exclude her from nomination from the panel, the prime minister picked her to be mayor.

Tuesday's unsavoury incident in which a mayor and her supporters were attacked by goons of a lawmaker, gives an indication of the obstacles she faces. According to Mayor Ivy, she had come to Chashara to tell people that the footpaths would be free for pedestrians to walk on, that the displaced hawkers would be rehabilitated in a proper building, honouring the prime minister's directive. According to news reports, when some of Ivy's supporters tried to evict some hawkers, an altercation erupted. She was then attacked by supporters of the lawmaker.

After the incident a probe committee has been engaged and both the mayor and the lawmaker have been summoned by the PM—no doubt to express her disappointment in two important leaders and favourites from her own party.

But even for the ordinary citizens who have witnessed all kinds of violence in the name of politics over the last few decades, the idea that a mayor—a woman politician who has braved the patriarchal system to attain the trust of the public and the support of the prime minister who happens to be a woman—can be physically attacked and blatantly intimidated by a lawmaker, is shocking. this is a preview of what is to come as we get closer to our national elections, there is little to feel optimistic about.


Aasha Mehreen Amin is Deputy Editor, Editorial and Opinion, The Daily Star.


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Jessore Road: Tree felling halted for 6 months

Jessore Road: Tree felling halted for 6 months

The High Court yesterday halted the felling of century-old trees along the Jessore-Benapole road following protests against a government decision to cut them down.

It directed the authorities concerned of the government to maintain a status quo on the tree felling for six months.

In response to a writ petition, the HC also issued a rule asking the respondents to explain in two weeks why their inaction to protect the trees should not be declared illegal.

a writ petition, the HC also issued a rule asking the respondents to explain in two weeks why their inaction to protect the trees should not be declared illegal.

The court asked them to show causes why they should not be ordered to protect the trees while turning the road into a four-lane one.

Secretaries to the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges, and the Ministry of Environment and Forest, director general of the Department of Environment, chief engineer of the Roads and Highway Department, deputy commissioner and superintendent of police in Jessore, upazila nirbahi officer of Benapole, and officer-in-charge of Benapole Police Station have been made the respondents to the rule.

The bench of Justice Zubayer Rahman Chowdhury and Justice Md Iqbal Kabir came up with the order and the rule after hearing the writ petition filed by Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh challenging the inaction of the respondents to protect the trees.

Petitioner's counsel Manzill Murshid told The Daily Star that the government cannot cut the trees down now because of the HC order.

However, there is no legal bar for the government to continue the development work of the highway protecting the trees, he added.

During the hearing on the petition, Manzill told the court that the government was duty-bound to protect the environment and the trees as per the constitution and the environment protection law.

However, the government's decision to cut the trees goes against the very constitution and the law, he said.

Last July, the authorities decided to fell around 2,300 trees along the highway, many of which have been standing majestically on both sides of the road throughout well over a century.

The decision was made under a "development project" to widen a 30-kilometre portion of the highway.

However, since then, protests have been brewing all over social media, and many environmental groups have been demonstrating against what they called a “shocking decision”.

Jessore-Benapole highway is actually a 38-kilometre stretch of the 99-kilometre Jessore Road that connects Jessore with India's Dum Dum.

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Fearless cricket Mashrafe's mantra

Fearless cricket Mashrafe's mantra

The hallmark of a professional is his ability to think positively and the words of Bangladesh ODI captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza yesterday reflected that ideal ahead of today's tri-series clash between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur.

It was evident during the pre-match briefing that Mashrafe and Co. were well aware of the fact that they need to handle their emotions professionally in the face of all the chatter surrounding their former coach, Chandika Hathurusingha.

There is nothing wrong with the players being pumped up to prove their credentials against their recently-departed coach, but what Bangladesh's most successful ODI captain desires from his teammates is 'a brand of cricket which ensures freedom and a fearless approach'.

During a marathon press conference, Mashrafe repeatedly emphasised on the need to properly execute their plans and play disciplined cricket all through the match, just as they had against Zimbabwe in the tri-series opener.

We did everything right in the first match, now how we can execute our plan in the next match is most important. The way Bijoy [Anamul Haque] played the first match on his return to the team after a long break embodied exactly how we want to play; fearless cricket," opined Mashrafe.

Like a true professional, Mashrafe added that the team had put the Chandika issue behind well before the start of the series.

It's new for a team to face its last coach…actually we put behind the issue well before the series. Once he left we forgot his planning. We are coping with a new coach, so there is no scope to think about this issue," said Mashrafe.

The right-arm pacer also did not hesitate in having a slight jab at his former coach, saying: "Everywhere you face challenges. When Hathurusingha was in Bangladesh there was some kind of pressure on him and the challenge for him would have increased after the loss in South Africa. That challenge could have been interesting but he didn't stay, rather he chose Sri Lanka.

However Mashrafe showed his opponents due respect considering that they have players like Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera, and added that the team had to be mentally prepared to handle any tough situations, such as the one Sri Lanka found themselves in against Zimbabwe.

Mashrafe, who was looking for a combined effort and consistency, has high hopes from his pace bowlers as he believes that their performance matters the most in Bangladesh's wins and informed that it was good news for him that Mustafizur Rahman provided evidence of returning to his old form.

Mashrafe has all but a settled unit, with two stalwarts in Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan getting off to a flyer in the new year, but he believes that Shakib's promotion to the number three position created an opportunity for young all-rounders to show their potential at the number eight position by scoring quick-fire runs.

We have a big space at the number seven-eight position after Shakib's promotion in the batting order and one will only be able to cope if he can be consistent at this position," said Mashrafe.

In the end, the Bangladesh captain gave the impression that the Tigers were confident of their plan to beat Chandika's Sri Lanka and just needed to execute accordingly in the middle today.

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It's all for money

It's all for money

Tuesday's mayhem in Narayanganj was all about money.

A section of ruling party leaders loyal to local MP Shamim Osman and some unscrupulous police officials control the footpaths and collect tolls from the hawkers, generating around Tk 1. 35 crore a month, claimed about 20 hawkers of Narayanganj city who talked to The Daily Star.

The feud between NCC Mayor Selina Hayat Ivy and AL MP Shamim Osman over the eviction of hawkers had nothing to do with politics; it is totally about the money paid by around 4,500 hawkers, they said.

The money collected is shared among the leaders of AL, AL-affiliate organisations and Chhatra League of Narayanganj and police officials of Chasara Police Camp and Narayanganj Sadar Police Station, the hawkers claimed.

The money is collected by 25 linemen on Bangabandhu Road alone, they said.

Talking to The Daily Star, a number of hawkers said they have to pay from Tk 20 to Tk 300 every day to “police and a section of local influential AL leaders who get a portion of the money”.

The amount depends on the size and location of their makeshift stalls.

Hawker Narayan Chandra said the hawkers who sit around Zia Hall intersection, Shaheed Minar, in front of Khaja Market and on Bangabandhu Road have to pay from Tk 100 to Tk 300 per day.

Just paying the toll is not enough. He said the hawkers are forced to join rallies and processions of Shamim Osman in Narayanganj and Dhaka.

You will see no hawkers or only a few hawkers on Narayanganj footpaths the day Shamim Osman holds a rally,” Oli Ahmed, a hawker who sits on Bangabandhu Road, told The Daily Star.

A tea vendor on Bangabandhu Road said either a policeman or a lineman takes Tk 20 from him every day.

The plainclothes policemen kicked me on several occasions when I failed to pay or haggled with them,” he said, adding, “Even the homeless and beggars cannot escape the police and the linemen. saw police take Tk 10 from them many times.

If they fail to pay, they are slapped,” he said, requesting not to be named and declining to name the police personnel and linemen fearing repercussions.

Asad Mia, convener of Hawkers Sangram Parishad, said there were around 4,500 small cots or tables on city footpaths and three quarters of them were on Bangabandhu Road.

Several hawkers claimed that for placing a two by three feet cot or table on the pavement, they have to pay Tk 5,000 to Tk 7,000 to local leaders close to Shamim Osman.

Narayanganj City Jubo League President Shahadat Hossain Bhuiyan Shajnu and Convener of Narayanganj City Chhatra League Habibur Rahman Riad, who are close to Shamim Osman, dealt with the hawkers, they claimed.

They mentioned a few other names of similar post holders in AL and Chhatra League but this paper could not get in touch with those leaders.

Refuting the allegations, Shahadat Hossain told The Daily Star that he had heard that some AL leaders took money from hawkers. Several times I have pressed hawkers to know the names but they told me that no Awami League leaders took money from them.

Habibur Rahman Riad said they had asked the administration and the city corporation to take actions if anyone took money from the hawkers in the name of Chhatra League.

Several witnesses of Tuesday's mayhem claimed that these AL, AL-affiliate and Chhatra League men were in the front line during the attack on NCC Mayor Ivy. The Daily Star could not verify their claims.

Chashara Police Camp In-charge Gazi Mizanur Rahman said, “Hawkers' trade on footpaths had been stopped several weeks ago. So, the allegations of taking money against police personnel are not right.

Asked whether the policemen collected toll before, he said he had no idea about the matter.

Acting officer-in-charge Abdur Razzaq of Narayanganj Sadar Police Station told The Daily Star that the allegation against police was nothing but exaggeration.

Asked to elaborate what he meant by exaggeration, Razzaq said after he took charge as the OC, he did not get any complaint that policemen collected tolls from hawkers.

He, however, said his predecessor was closed to the police lines as he had not taken proper steps to evict hawkers.

We have taken a hard line against hawkers after sir [his predecessor] was closed,” Razzaq added.

On January 15, Shamim Osman at a rally of hawkers at Chashara said he had ordered, not requested, that hawkers would sit on footpaths from 5:00pm from January 16, if the city corporation did not take any measures for their rehabilitation.

Mayor Ivy had said that she would not allow hawkers to occupy footpaths causing city dwellers to suffer. She also said she would make alternative arrangements for the hawkers at the hawkers' markets.

Many city dwellers hailed the city corporation's move to free the footpaths from illegal occupation. They told The Daily Star yesterday that despite repeated attempts over the last one year, the authorities failed to evict the hawkers due to local influential Awami League leaders and a section of police officials who take money from them.

On Tuesday, NCC Mayor Ivy and around 50 others were injured as supporters of local AL lawmaker Shamim Osman attacked Ivy and her followers, leading to a clash on Bangabandhu Road.

No case was filed over the clash as of last night and police could not arrest Jubo League leader Niazul Islam, who was seen brandishing a firearm during the clash, even though he himself filed a general diary with Narayanganj Sadar Model Police Station in connection with attempt on his life and attempted snatching of his arms.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal yesterday said action would be taken against those who had brandished firearms during Tuesday's clash.

I give you assurance that no one will be spared. Those who have broken laws, will face the music,” the home minister told journalists in Tejgaon.

We are doing what is required. We have footages. We are looking into those who brandished firearms and took the law into their own hands,” Asaduzzaman said, adding that they were enquiring into the “unfortunate incident”.

The home minister said he personally talked to Shamim Osman and Selina Hayat Ivy after the incident on Tuesday and told them that the prime minister did not like what had happened.

I told them if you don't stop, we have to take action,” he added.

Ivy was admitted to LabAid Hospital in Dhaka after her blood pressure dropped yesterday afternoon. She is in the Coronary Care Unit of the hospital.

Ivy became sick when she was at the city corporation office around 4:00pm, reports our Narayanganj correspondent.

She had trouble breathing and had cardiac complications, said Narayanganj General Hospital Medical Officer Asaduzzaman.

Abul Hossain, Ivy's personal secretary, said Ivy visited the injured of Tuesday's clash at Narayanganj General Hospital after lunch yesterday.

She became sick around 20 minutes after she had returned to her office.

A doctor of LabAid said, “She will be kept under observation for the next 24 hours. Her condition is stable now.

Lawmaker Shamim Osman neither received phone calls nor texts of this paper.

Some hawkers yesterday opened up shops at Chashara on Bangabandhu Road defying the local administration. Police evicted the hawkers a few hours after they had sat there.

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'Pleasure' trip or what?

'Pleasure' trip or what?

Just two weeks before going back to the navy, the Chittagong Port Authority chairman went on an eight-day official visit to South Africa and Morocco apparently to gather knowledge on how to improve the port's operation.

Questions have been raised over the trip as CPA Chairman Rear Admiral M Khaled Iqbal will have only six days, upon his return, to implement the things learnt in the overseas visit.

A number of officials at the Chittagong port have cast doubts about the outcome of the trip, saying nothing much could be learnt from visits to the South African and Moroccan ports since those are not as developed as the European and US ports.

A delegation that includes Khaled is on a visit to the Port of Cape Town in South Africa and the Port of Tanger-Med in Morocco from January 16 to 23. Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan is heading the team.

In a letter to the CPA on December 24 last year, the shipping ministry also included Shajahan's son, an Awami League MP's son, and the CPA chief medical officer in the 15-member team.

Their inclusion in the team surprised many of the port officials, who say the sons of the minister and the lawmaker, and the medical officer have nothing to do with the port's development work.

Besides, five members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Shipping Ministry, which oversees the port's operation, were included in the team, raising questions about conflict of interest.

Members of a parliamentary standing committee cannot go on any foreign trip whose expenses are borne by an organisation the House body oversees, according to parliamentary affairs experts.

The CPA is bearing the costs of the ongoing visit, and it has already released Tk 95 lakh for the purpose. The total expenses will be tallied after the delegation returns.

On January 30, Khaled will hand over the responsibility to the new CPA chairman and go back to the navy, sources said.

Earlier on January 2, the public administration ministry appointed CPA member (engineer) Commodore Zulfikar Aziz as the new chairman.

Despite repeated attempts, Khaled could not be reached for comments.

Two of the delegation members opted out of the trip. They are Maj (retd) Rafiqul Islam, chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Shipping Ministry, and Kallal Kumar Chakraborty, a deputy secretary.

Contacted, Rafiqul said he is in favour of visiting developed seaports to get firsthand experience of how those work.

If we visit ports of world standards in Europe or even in Asia, we will be able to utilise the experience for developing our seaports.

Asked why he didn't join the trip, the AL lawmaker avoided giving a reply.

Sources close to Rafiqul, however, said that he considered the visit unnecessary, as the ports to be visited by the team are not that developed.

At a recent meeting of the parliamentary body, Rafiqul expressed resentment that some persons, who are not related to the port's operation, were included in the delegation, according to sources.

Talking to this correspondent, former member of the CPA Board Hadi Hossain Babul said Khaled's visit to the African ports would be of no use, rather it would be sightseeing, as he will soon hand over his responsibility to a new CPA chairman.

He also said only those directly involved in the port's operation should have been included in the team.

Hadi pointed out that private operators should be engaged in providing services, such as operating the terminals, for upgrading the port's capacity and efficiency.

Southeast Asian and European ports are engaging globally renowned private operators on a large scale in such jobs. We should gather knowledge on those ports,” Hadi said while explaining why the visit to the two African ports would not be so fruitful.

The ex-CPA Board member, however, said the African ports also engage private operators but on a small scale.

In terms of annual handling of containers, Chittagong port secured the 71st position among the top 100 container ports in the world, according to the 2017 ranking of Lloyd's List, the world's oldest journal on port and shipping.

The Chittagong port handled around 25 lakh TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) containers last year.

The Port of Cape Town couldn't make it to the list while the Port of Tanger-Med, which handled 29 lakh TEU containers in 2016, ranked 51st.

The Port of Cape Town handled nine lakh TEU containers in fiscal 2013-2014. Chittagong port handled 17. 31 lakh TEU containers in 2014.

The delegation visiting the two African ports includes Md Abdus Sattar, deputy secretary at the shipping ministry; Mohammad Jahangir Alam Khan, senior information and public relations officer at the ministry; MM Tarikul Islam, private secretary to the shipping minister; Md Omar Faruk, secretary of the CPA; Mosharraf Hossain, chief medical officer of the CPA; Commodore M Jahangir Alam, chairman of Payra Port Authority; and Md Solaiman Alam Seth, honorary consul of South Africa.

Parliamentary body members Talukdar Abdul Khalek, Nurul Islam Sujan, Habibar Rahman and Momotaj Begum are also in the team.

Shajahan's son Ashibur Rahman, Momotaj's son Abdullah Al Jubayer, and Md Solaiman are supposed to bear their expenses for the trip, sources said.

The delegation will have to submit a report to the shipping ministry within 15 days of its return.

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New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern pregnant

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern pregnant

Ardern said she planned to work until the end of her pregnancy in June and then take six-weeks leave, during which time Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters would run the country.

Speaking to reporters outside her Auckland home, Ardern said her partner Clarke Gayford would care for the "surprise" addition full-time and that the whole family would travel together when necessary.

I am not the first woman to work and have a baby. I know these are special circumstances but there are many women who have done it well before I have," she said.

The popular 37-year-old politician's pregnancy is one of the very few examples of an elected leader holding office while pregnant and the first in New Zealand's history. Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto gave birth while she was prime minister in 1990.

Ardern, who came to power through a coalition deal after a closely fought election last year, has experienced a meteoric rise to power as New Zealand's youngest prime minister in more than a century, and its third female leader.

Ardern's rise to power has generated intense interest in her personal life and drew comparisons with other youthful leaders such as France's Emmanuel Macron and Canada's Justin Trudeau.

Ardern was quick to assure the public that she would only take six weeks off, during which time she would still be contactable, so that the country would run as usual.

The short period contrasts with her party's parental leave policies, with the Labour-led coalition expanding paid parental leave from 18 to 22 weeks in one of its first legislative changes. That is set to rise again to 26 weeks in 2020.

Ardern acknowledged that she was "lucky" that her partner, a well-known television fishing show presenter, could take time off to travel with her while he cared for the baby full-time.

She had no plans to stop work until June and would fly to London in April to attend a Commonwealth leader's meeting.

Advocacy groups and politicians from across the political spectrum were quick to offer support.

It's really inspiring. having our prime minister lead by example is a great sign of how far we've come in women's industrial rights in New Zealand," said Council of Trade Unions President Richard Wagstaff in an emailed statement to Reuters.

New Zealand has long held a progressive reputation, having been the first country to give women the right to vote in 1893.

It's amazing timing. 125 years later we have a prime minister who's going to give birth in office," said Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter.

Ardern revealed on Friday that she had unexpectedly found out she was pregnant on Oct. 13, just six days before she was propelled into the country's top job when New Zealand First Party leader Peters announced he was siding with Labour in post-election negotiations.

When asked by a reporter how she had managed putting together a government while suffering from morning sickness, she replied, "it's just what ladies do".

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2nd phase of Biswa Ijtema begins

2nd phase of Biswa Ijtema begins

The ijtema began with 'a'm bayan' (general sermons) by Bangladeshi Mawlana Mohammad Faruk, reports our Gazipur correspondent.

A total of 75 organisations are working together to make the second phase Ijtema successful, said Md Humayun Kabir, district commissioner of Gazipur.

Thousands of devotees from home and abroad gathered on the bank of the Turag river to take part in the religious event, UNB adds.

The second phase of the Ijtema will end through 'Akheri Munajat' on January 21 (Sunday).

A seven-tier security measures have been taken to ensure security of the Muslim devotees.

Besides, special measures have been taken to facilitate the movement of the devotees.

Around 50 close circuit cameras have been installed in and around the venue to monitor the Ijtema ground and the adjoining areas.

The first phase of Biswa Ijtema was held at the same venue on 13-15 January.

The Biswa Ijtema is being arranged on the bank of the Turag River since 1967. It is being held in two phases since 2011 to ease the accommodation and transportation problem, reports UNB.

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Blood test to detect 8 cancers early gives promising results

Blood test to detect 8 cancers early gives promising results

Scientists are reporting progress on a blood test to detect many types of cancer at an early stage, including some of the most deadly ones that lack screening tools now.

Many groups are working on liquid biopsy tests, which look for DNA and other things that tumors shed into blood, to try to find cancer before it spreads, when chances of cure are best.

In a study Thursday in the journal Science, Johns Hopkins University scientists looked to see how well their experimental test detected cancer in people already known to have the disease. The blood tests found about 70 percent of eight common types of cancer in the 1,005 patients. The rates varied depending on the type — lower for breast tumors but high for ovarian, liver and pancreatic ones.

In many cases, the test narrowed the possible origin of the cancer to one or two places, such as colon or lung, important for limiting how much follow-up testing a patient might need. It gave only seven false alarms when tried on 812 others without cancer.

The test is nowhere near ready for use yet; it needs to be validated in a larger study already underway in a general population, rather than cancer patients, to see if it truly works and helps save lives — the best measure of a screening test’s value.

We’re very, very excited and see this as a first step,” said Nickolas Papadopoulos, one of the Hopkins study leaders. ut we don’t want people calling up” and asking for the test now, because it’s not available, he said.

Some independent experts saw great promise.

It’s such a good first set of results” that it gives hope this approach will pan out, said Dr. ter Bach, a health policy expert at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center who consults for a gene testing company. Anything close to 50 percent or 40 percent detection is pretty exciting stuff,” and this one did better than that, he said.

Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, was encouraged that the test did well on cancers that lack screening tests now. If a blood test could find 98 percent of ovarian cancers at an early stage, as these early results suggest, “that would be a significant advance,” he said.

But he cautioned: “We have a long way to go to demonstrate its effectiveness as a screening test.

The test detects mutations in 16 genes tied to cancer and measures eight proteins that often are elevated when cancer is present.

It covers breast, colon and lung and five kinds that don’t have screening tests for people at average risk: ovarian, liver, stomach, pancreatic and esophageal. Prostate cancer is not included. A blood test already is widely used — the PSA test — but its value for screening is controversial.

Researchers tried the new test on people whose cancers were still confined to where it started or had spread a little but not widely throughout the body. It detected 33 percent of breast cancers, about 60 percent of colon or lung cancers and nearly all of the ovarian and liver ones. It did better when tumors were larger or had spread. It did less well at the very earliest stage.

The test probably will not work as well when tested in a general population rather than those already known to have cancer, researchers say. Hopkins and Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania have started a study of it in 10,000 Geisinger patients who will be tracked for at least five years.

The work was financed by many foundations, the Mayo Clinic, the National Institutes of Health and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which provides The Associated Press with funding for health and science coverage. Many study leaders have financial ties to gene testing companies, and some get royalties for patents on cancer detection methods.

Researchers say the test could cost around $500 based on current materials and methods, but the ultimate goal is to commercialize it, so what a company would charge is unknown.

Also this week, Taiwan-based CellMax Life gave results on its liquid biopsy test, which looks for whole tumor cells shed into blood, at an American Society of Clinical Oncology conference.

Researchers tested 620 people getting colonoscopies or with confirmed colon cancer at a hospital in Taiwan. The company said its test had an overall accuracy of 84 to 88 percent for detecting cancer or precancerous growths and a false alarm rate around 3 percent.

The company’s chief executive, Atul Sharan, said U. studies should start this year. The test is sold now in Taiwan for $500, but should cost around $150 in the U. S. he said.

Dr. Richard Schilsky, chief medical officer of the oncology society, said results are encouraging, but the test needs more study, especially to see if it gives too many false alarms.

The last thing you’d want is a test that tells you you might have cancer if you don’t,” he said.

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Russia accuses Washington of leaking diplomats' bank details

Russia accuses Washington of leaking diplomats' bank details

US media outlet Buzzfeed reported this week that US officials investigating allegations of Kremlin interference in the 2016 U. S. presidential election were studying records of financial transactions involving Russian diplomats. Buzzfeed cited details of several bank transfers.

It's obvious that this could not have happened without the knowledge of the authorities of that country (the United States)," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

In other words, this intrusion on the sanctity of the accounts of the embassy and its staff, who have diplomatic immunity, is the work of Washington officialdom.

The statement said that the transactions that were leaked contained nothing except routine payments, but that these were being twisted to make them appear suspicious.

Once again we have to note that Washington is not ensuring the appropriate conditions for the functioning of Russia's diplomatic missions. The pressure on them continues and is growing," said the ministry.

We demand that the American authorities, at last, start implementing their own national laws and international obligations, immediately stop the unlawful distribution of confidential information . and hold responsible those who are to blame, including those who hold relevant posts in the American state administration.

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