Vlad's Sociopolitical Update 231202

2 Dec 2023

Good day, fellow Publishers :) 

Here is the recent version of "Vlad's sociopolitical update" regarding developments worldwide. I am interested in different topics, and if you have some favorite topic, please write to me about it, and I will try to publish about it later. Here are some of my recent reads. 

VOA: In a significant development this World AIDS Day, South Africa, facing one of the highest HIV rates globally, sees promise in a new injectable HIV prevention drug. The Cabotegravir long-acting (CAB LA) has shown excellent results in trials, offering an 89 percent reduction in HIV infections compared to oral PrEP in a study involving African women. This two-month injectable, a potential game-changer, provides discreet prevention control, particularly empowering women at risk.

Despite progress in HIV treatment, South Africa reported approximately 160,000 new infections last year. While CAB LA has received approval, challenges remain in its rollout. Affordability, with each shot costing several thousand dollars, and limited manufacturing capabilities are key obstacles. However, the licensing agreement, allowing multiple companies to produce generic versions, offers hope for increased accessibility.

Testimonials from early trial participants, like Thuli, a transgender woman from Cape Town, highlight the user-friendly and effective nature of CAB LA compared to oral medication. Dr. John Nkengasong, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, emphasizes international collaboration to introduce CAB LA in partnership with the South African government.

As the world commemorates World AIDS Day, the encouraging results of CAB LA bring renewed hope for a significant step forward in the ongoing battle against HIV/AIDS, particularly in heavily affected regions like South Africa. Following initial delays, pilot projects for CAB LA are expected to commence in early 2024, marking a potentially crucial milestone in HIV prevention efforts.

Open Global Rights:  The 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights prompts a call for forward-looking discussions on the future of the human rights movement. Examining emerging topics crucial for the next 75 years becomes imperative in navigating challenges posed by contemporary developments like climate change, artificial intelligence, and gene editing. The Future of Rights and Governance (FORGE) program, launched in collaboration with the NYU Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, seeks to engage over 160 diverse thinkers in imagining alternative futures.

To foster a generative dialogue, the author urges moving beyond the debate on the alleged demise of human rights—a conversation sparked by Stephen Hopgood's "endtimes of human rights" a decade ago. Critiquing the thin empirical evidence and analytical blind spots in such arguments, the author suggests discarding the trend of "endism" and recognizing it as a cyclical and short-lived psychological phenomenon. Contrary to predictions, recent studies show sustained global interest in human rights language and norms, emphasizing their continued relevance.

The author calls for revamping traditional concepts and narratives to acknowledge the formidable challenges human rights values face in an era of conflicts, ecological crises, technological disruptions, and rising inequalities. Rejecting fatalistic endism opens up mental space for developing new ideas and responses, fostering hope rather than simplistic optimism. As the human rights movement confronts its future, recent discussions around hope become crucial in celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Aeon: In a thought-provoking exploration, Epoché Magazine presents an experimental video essay inspired by the profound insights of French philosopher Henri Bergson. In his 1930 essay, 'The Possible and the Real,' Bergson challenges the foundational metaphysical question – 'Why is there something instead of nothing?' He critiques the conventional view that favors the idea of void over fullness.

This captivating video essay intertwines excerpts from Bergson's seminal work with archival imagery and original music, creating a visual and auditory experience that breathes new life into his influential words. Departing from traditional interpretations, the short film invites viewers to reconsider Bergson's philosophical themes unexpectedly and innovatively. Nearly a century after the essay's initial publication, this artistic endeavor from Epoché Magazine invites audiences to engage with Bergson's ideas, offering a fresh perspective on our continually evolving reality.

Nature: In a headline-grabbing revelation, an archaeological paper suggesting that a structure beneath Indonesia's Gunung Padang site could be the world's oldest pyramid has triggered skepticism and prompted an investigation by the journal that published it. Published in Archaeological Prospection, the paper proposes that the pyramid at Gunung Padang might date back 27,000 years, predating Egypt's Pyramid of Djoser and Turkey's Göbekli Tepe. Critics, including archaeologists, question the evidence, with concerns about the layers' construction and the absence of apparent human involvement.

Gunung Padang, featuring five stepped stone terraces, was investigated between 2011 and 2014. Researchers identified layers, suggesting distinct construction phases over 27,000 to 3,100 years ago. While the paper contends that the pyramid's construction is a testament to advanced civilization, skeptics argue that the evidence doesn't conclusively attribute the structures to human craftsmanship.

The controversy deepens as the site gains attention from the Netflix documentary Ancient Apocalypse, where British author Graham Hancock promotes the idea of a global civilization wiped out 12,000 years ago. Acknowledging Hancock's contribution, the paper has intensified debates about the existence of an advanced civilization during the last ice age.
Archaeological Prospection and Wiley, its publisher, have initiated an investigation into the paper, addressing concerns about its validity. Critics emphasize appreciating Gunung Padang as a significant archaeological site rather than fitting it into speculative narratives about human civilization's development.

Despite the controversy, the lead author, Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, encourages global researchers to explore Gunung Padang, expressing openness to collaborative research. As debates unfold, the archaeological community navigates the delicate balance between skepticism and the allure of rewriting historical timelines.

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