General Fusion closing oversubscribed $130 million transitional financing round

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Nov. 30, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — General Fusion announced today it is closing an oversubscribed $130 million (USD) Series E funding round filled by a new syndicate of global investors. This financing, led by Temasek, significantly expands the company's portfolio of institutional, sovereign, family office, and high net worth investors, providing the prelude to a large financing round being prepared for 2022. Combined with broad financial support from the Canadian, U.K., and U.S. governments, the General Fusion Series E round supports aggressive pursuit of several near–term initiatives and milestones in its program to commercialize Magnetized Target Fusion (MTF).

In addition to a portfolio of important individual investors, which includes Jeff Bezos, Tobias Ltke, and Kam Ghaffarian, Series E brings a new syndicate of major institutional and family office investors to General Fusion. These anchoring investors include Temasek, GIC, the Jameel Investment Management Company (JIMCO), and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), as well as broader participation from other capital market segments represented by investors such as a large U.S. state pension plan and the hedge fund firm Segra Capital.

“Segra Capital believes General Fusion is best positioned among its peer group to deliver fusion at a commercial scale in the near term,” said Adam Rodman, Founder and CIO, Segra Capital. “While Segra Capital has traditionally invested primarily in public markets, this compelling opportunity resonated with our core ESG and cleantech–focused partners, so we are excited to participate in this Series E financing and look forward to supporting the company in the future.”

“General Fusion's drive to shape the market for clean fusion energy is just one of the many reasons why JIMCO is investing in its commercialization program,” said Fady Jameel, a member of the Jameel Family's Investment Supervisory Board. “The global energy sector is undergoing tremendous change to secure a cleaner future for all, which JIMCO is passionate about and ready to support through investments like the one in General Fusion."

"With our 75–year history of investing in companies positively shaping the future of the core industries, we believe General Fusion's global, technologically–advanced solution to commercial fusion energy make them a leader in this growing industry."

"Collectively, the expansion of General Fusion's investor base in this Series E financing provides a strong foundation for a larger financing next year," said Greg Twinney, CFO, General Fusion. "From our technology's inception, we have had a laser focus on cultivating customers and creating a practical, clean energy solution that meets their needs. This approach resonates with investors looking to make an impact in the global energy transition."

With substantial capital support from both private and government sources, General Fusion has aggressively pursued deployment of its power–plant scale Fusion Demonstration Plant located at the UK Atomic Energy Authority's (UKAEA) Culham Centre for Fusion Energy near London. The company has also accelerated MTF technology development activities associated with its new Vancouver headquarters and opened a new facility adjacent to Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the U.S. Furthermore, General Fusion has created a Market Development Advisory Committee (MDAC) focused exclusively on fusion. The company's MDAC is currently comprised of nine leading energy companies and clean energy users representing critical markets for fusion's carbon–free, on–demand power.

"General Fusion's unique global presence, with facilities in three countries, allows us to be much more ambitious in pushing toward commercialization," said Christofer Mowry, CEO, General Fusion. "Our broad network of national laboratory and industrial partners, together with our advisory council of energy market end–users, positions General Fusion well to help the world achieve its net–zero carbon goals."

General Fusion interacted with, and appreciated the support of, several firms during the Series E financing process, including VAHOCA, based in Singapore, and Disruptive Technology Advisers LLC.

About General Fusion
General Fusion is pursuing the fastest and most practical path to commercial fusion energy and is based in Vancouver, Canada, with locations in London, U.K., and Oak Ridge, Tennessee, U.S.A. The company was established in 2002 and is funded by a global syndicate of leading energy venture capital firms, industry leaders, and technology pioneers. Learn more at

General Fusion Media Relations
Phone: 1–866–904–0995

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Todos Medical Enters into Binding Agreement to Acquire All 3CL Protease Biology-Related Assets and Intellectual Property from NLC Pharma

  • Company to form majority owned subsidiary, 3CL Sciences, an entity focused on the development of variant–agnostic COVID–19 antivirals such as Tollovir that utilize the 3CL protease related IP

  • Dr. Dorit Arad, pioneering biology researcher responsible for the discovery of natural 3CL protease inhibitors, to be appointed Chief Scientific Officer of 3CL Sciences

  • Acquisition to include mechanism–based designed new chemical entities targeting 3CL protease and other cellular mechanisms for development of "next–gen' Tollovir candidates

  • Todos Medical to host conference call for the investment community on Thursday, December 2nd, 2021 at 4:30pm ET

NEW YORK and TEL AVIV, Israel, Nov. 30, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Todos Medical, Ltd. (OTCQB: TOMDF), a comprehensive medical diagnostics and related solutions company, today announced it has entered into a binding agreement to acquire all 3CL protease biology–related assets owned by NLC Pharma and form a majority–owned subsidiary called 3CL Sciences ("3CL Sciences"). 3CL Sciences will be focused on developing therapeutics, diagnostics and dietary supplements based on the pioneering 3CL protease (3CLpro, Main Protease, Mpro, Nsp5) biology work of Dorit Arad, PhD, who will be appointed Chief Scientific Officer of the new company. We believe this acquisition will solidify Todos Medical's position as a key player in the development and commercialization of 3CL protease–related products. These products currently include Tollovir , a therapeutic drug candidate for the treatment of COVID–19 and other nidovirus coronaviruses, TolloTest , a diagnostic testing platform to identify the presence of the 3CL protease related to SARS–CoV–2, and Tollovid & Tollovid Daily, 3CL protease inhibitor dietary supplements that support and maintain healthy immune function. Additionally, the acquisition gives Todos Medical access to discoveries made by Dr. Arad related to the development and commercialization of new chemical entities targeting the 3CL protease and other mechanisms critical for the treatment of COVID–19 using her "mechanism–based design' approach, as well as new designs for mass–scale deployment of the TolloTest technology.

"We began the journey of building 3CL protease biology–based products with Dr. Arad in the second quarter of 2020, just as the pandemic was gaining a foothold globally, and we saw firsthand the power of the technology with initial clinical work on our proprietary diagnostic TolloTest technology," said Gerald E. Commissiong, President & CEO of Todos Medical. "Now more than 18 months after we began collaborating, we have made a number of key discoveries and reached a number of key development and commercial milestones that have only fortified our resolve in bringing products developed from this important biology to the masses. Pfizer's work in the 3CL protease space has undoubtedly created greater interest in our dietary supplement product offerings in the United States and abroad. In Europe we recently announced a dietary supplements distribution license with T–Cell Protect Hellas S.A. (T–Cell Protect) for products based on our Tollovid and Tollovid Daily formulations. Our therapeutic drug candidate, Tollovir, has now advanced to the stage of an interim readout of the Phase 2 clinical data in the treatment of hospitalized COVID–19 patients. Data from our TolloTest demonstrated 100% sensitivity 1–3 days post exposure in a community–based super spreading event setting that, in our view, provided clinical proof of concept for the heightened sensitivity when compared with rapid antigen testing that was the rationale for our initial collaboration. With all these significant scientific advancements resulting from our collaboration with NLC and with the continued proliferation of COVID–19 variants across the globe, we believed now was the perfect time to solidify our relationship with Dr. Arad by officially combining forces through the creation of 3CL Sciences. As a majority owned subsidiary, 3CL Sciences will separate our critical scientific development work in COVID–19 from our other important development–stage work in cancer & Alzheimer's diagnostics, as well as our revenue generating PCR & cPass neutralizing antibody testing services that we offer via our Provista Diagnostics CLIA/CAP lab in the United States. This structure gives us the most flexibility to attract traditional direct private investment into 3CL Sciences from major private institutional investors with the potential to maximize its future value independently to the benefit of Todos shareholders, while limiting ordinary share dilution."

Under the terms of the agreement, Todos Medical will own 60% of 3CL Sciences, and the shareholders of NLC Pharma will own 40% upon the execution of definitive agreements (the "Closing") to acquire all intellectual property and assets related to 3CL protease biology–related products to which NLC Pharma has rights. Todos Medical will assign its European licensing agreement T–Cell Hellas Protect S.A. to 3CL Sciences. Upon the Closing, NLC Pharma Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Dorit Arad and CEO Mr. Avraham Marilus will enter into exclusive executive employment agreements with 3CL Sciences. Todos Medical herein commits to fund 3CL Sciences with initial capital of $2.2 million. In addition NLC Pharma will receive two million dollars ($2,000,000 USD) in cash payments over 15 months, 13,333,000 Ordinary Shares of Todos Medical, and single digit net royalties on 3CL protease–biology related product sales. Todos Medical commits to funding, or assisting 3CL Sciences in obtaining funding, for an aggregate of ten million dollars ($10,000,000 USD) within 6 months of the execution of the Closing. Todos shall also commit its efforts toward facilitating a "Go Public" transaction (IPO, SPAC or reverse merger) for 3CL Sciences within 9 months of the Closing, which may also include a buyout of the unowned 40% of 3CL Sciences in shares by Todos upon mutual agreement. The transaction, which is subject to completion of satisfactory due diligence, is expected to close on December 15th, 2021, or upon another mutually agreed upon date.

"Particularly now with the new Omicron variant causing the SARS–CoV–2 virus to threaten the world again, and potentially decrease the effectiveness of current vaccines, we believe that our technologies will have a major and timely impact on the course of the COVID–19 pandemic," said Dr. Dorit Arad, Chief Scientific Officer at NLC Pharma. "Mechanism based drug, that overcomes most viral mutations, is the timely solution to upcoming new variant threats, and we are excited to take the Tollovir program forward with Todos through the pending Phase 2 interim readout in hospitalized COVID–19 patients and towards registration studies and/or Emergency Use Authorization. We will also now begin to advance discovery–stage next generation small molecule compounds based on Tollovir into pre–clinical development. In parallel, we have now identified what we believe is the best design for a highly scalable deployment of our rapid TolloTest diagnostic platform as the optimal solution for global airports and mass entry points, as well as a viral infectivity monitoring tool for hospitalized COVID–19 patients. As we build up 3CL Sciences based upon the discovery of the fundamental roles of the 3CL protease in SARS–CoV–2 and the development and commercialization of natural 3CL protease inhibitors and diagnostic tests, we believe now diversifying our product portfolio with mechanism–based drug design small molecule 3CL protease inhibitors based on Tollovir will align us with traditional drug development to make 3CL Sciences more attractive for institutional investors and pharmaceutical corporate partners. In conclusion, we are very excited about the future of 3CL Sciences."

Concurrent with this announcement, the Company intends to host a business update conference call for the investment community on Thursday, December 2nd, 2021 at 4:30pm Easter Time. Details to log into the conference call will be made available by the Company on its website, on social media and in a subsequent press release on or before December 1st, 2021.

For more information, please visit For more information on the Company's CLIA/CAP certified lab Provista Diagnostics, Inc. please visit

About Dr. Dorit Arad
Dr. Dorit Arad is a D.C. in physical organic chemistry from the Technion who has more than 25 years of experience in the life science industry as an international researcher, executive and entrepreneur. Dr. Arad is a pioneer in the discovery and development 3CL protease biology related products and product candidates. Dr. Dorit Arad is an interdisciplinary scientist with expertise in Computer assisted Drug Design, Biotechnology, mechanism–based drug design, Diagnostics, infectious disease and cancer.

About Tollovir
Tollovir is a 3CL protease inhibitor and anti–cytokine therapeutic candidate for the treatment of the nidovirus subcategory of coronaviruses that includes SARS–CoV–2, COVID–19, SARS–CoV–1, MERS and 229E. Tollovir is made from all natural ingredients that are qualified to ensure strong inhibition of the 3CL protease in vitro, as well as strong anti–cytokine activity. Tollovir is currently in a Phase 2 clinical trial in Israel for the treatment of patients hospitalized with COVID–19. Tollovir will be developed for the treatment of hospitalized COVID–19 (severe and critical), moderate COVID–19, long–haul COVID and potentially pediatric COVID–19. Todos has licensed rights for Tollovir to T–Cell Protect Hellas S.A. for the Greek market.

About TolloTest
TolloTest is a 3CL protease diagnostic fluorescence platform technology that has demonstrated clinical proof of concept in hospital setting and outpatient settings in correctly identifying patients infected with COVID–19, including within 1–3 days of first exposure. TolloTest diagnostic tools are being developed to address key deficiencies with current SARS–CoV–2 rapid antigen and PCR technologies. TolloTest can provide results in less than ten (10 minutes), and potentially in as little as two (2) minutes. Data generated from two studies conducted with TolloTest demonstrate that: (1) it can identify SARS–CoV–2 infected patients earlier than rapid antigen testing (potentially earlier than PCR testing), (2) it can identify patients who are likely no longer infectious, but still test positive by PCR and (3) it can identify patients that are still likely infectious, but who have been released from quarantine based on time from positive PCR test. TolloTest assay formats are being developed for (1) point–of–care/at–home market and (2) rapid mass screening in community settings (airports, schools, offices)

About Tollovid & Tollovid Daily
Tollovid and Tollovid Daily are dietary supplement products, made from natural ingredients, that help support and maintain healthy immune function, and are also 3CL protease inhibitor products based upon in vitro functional assays that show inhibition of 3CL protease activity. Tollovid's 3CL protease inhibition activity release criteria is at least twice as stringent as Tollovid Daily's 3CL protease inhibition release criteria. Tollovid has a 5–day dosing regimen, with 4 doses of 3 pills taken each day that provides maximum immune support. Tollovid Daily is a twice daily immune support product that is designed to provide ongoing daily immune support for the person on the go.

About T–Cell Protect Hellas S.A.
T–Cell Protect Hellas (, based in Athens, Greece, is a European nutraceutical manufacturer and supplier of immune support dietary supplement products that is led by a world–class management team. The company has a retail distribution network of over 11,000 stores throughout Greece. Mr. Filippopoulos, the founder of the company, has been in the natural supplement industry for over 35 years and has launched some of the most well–known products in Europe with his vast retail network relationships. T–Cell Protect is rolling out the Tollovid family of Products under the T–Cell brand throughout Europe.

About Todos Medical Ltd.
Founded in Rehovot, Israel with offices in New York City, Todos Medical Ltd. (OTCQB: TOMDF) engineers life–saving diagnostic solutions for the early detection of a variety of cancers. The Company's state–of–the–art and patented Todos Biochemical Infrared Analyses (TBIA) is a proprietary cancer–screening technology using peripheral blood analysis that deploys deep examination into cancer's influence on the immune system, looking for biochemical changes in blood mononuclear cells and plasma. Todos' two internally–developed cancer–screening tests, TMB–1 and TMB–2, have received a CE mark in Europe. Todos recently acquired U.S.–based medical diagnostics company Provista Diagnostics, Inc. to gain rights to its Alpharetta, Georgia–based CLIA/CAP certified lab currently performing PCR COVID testing and Provista's proprietary commercial–stage Videssa breast cancer blood test.

Todos is also developing blood tests for the early detection of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease. The Lymphocyte Proliferation Test (LymPro Test) is a diagnostic blood test that determines the ability of peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) and monocytes to withstand an exogenous mitogenic stimulation that induces them to enter the cell cycle. It is believed that certain diseases, most notably Alzheimer's disease, are the result of compromised cellular machinery that leads to aberrant cell cycle re–entry by neurons, which then leads to apoptosis. LymPro is unique in the use of peripheral blood lymphocytes as a surrogate for neuronal cell function, suggesting a common relationship between PBLs and neurons in the brain.

Todos has entered into distribution agreements with companies to distribute certain novel coronavirus (COVID–19) test kits. The agreements cover multiple international suppliers of PCR testing kits and related materials and supplies, as well as antibody testing kits from multiple manufacturers after completing validation of said testing kits and supplies in its partner CLIA/CAP certified laboratory in the United States. Additionally, Todos has entered into a joint venture with NLC Pharma to pursue the development of diagnostic tests targeting the 3CL protease, as well as 3CL protease inhibitors that target a fundamental reproductive mechanism of coronaviruses.

For more information, please visit

Forward–looking Statements

Certain statements contained in this press release may constitute forward–looking statements. For example, forward–looking statements are used when discussing our expected clinical development programs and clinical trials. These forward–looking statements are based only on current expectations of management, and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in the forward–looking statements, including the risks and uncertainties related to the progress, timing, cost, and results of clinical trials and product development programs; difficulties or delays in obtaining regulatory approval or patent protection for product candidates; competition from other biotechnology companies; and our ability to obtain additional funding required to conduct our research, development and commercialization activities. In addition, the following factors, among others, could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in the forward–looking statements: changes in technology and market requirements; delays or obstacles in launching our clinical trials; changes in legislation; inability to timely develop and introduce new technologies, products and applications; lack of validation of our technology as we progress further and lack of acceptance of our methods by the scientific community; inability to retain or attract key employees whose knowledge is essential to the development of our products; unforeseen scientific difficulties that may develop with our process; greater cost of final product than anticipated; loss of market share and pressure on pricing resulting from competition; and laboratory results that do not translate to equally good results in real settings, all of which could cause the actual results or performance to differ materially from those contemplated in such forward–looking statements. Except as otherwise required by law, Todos Medical does not undertake any obligation to publicly release any revisions to these forward–looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. For a more detailed description of the risks and uncertainties affecting Todos Medical, please refer to its reports filed from time to time with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Todos Corporate and Investor Contact:
Richard Galterio
Todos Medical

Eagle Eye Networks Forecasts Key Video Surveillance Trends for 2022

AUSTIN, Texas, Nov. 30, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Eagle Eye Networks, the global leader in cloud video surveillance, today released the 2022 edition of its annual Trends in Video Surveillance ebook, a forecast for business leaders and owners who want to understand the physical security landscape and plan for success in 2022.

"Almost two years into the global pandemic, businesses have experienced sustained disruptions in the supply chain, labor shortage challenges, and vast changes in workplace routines," said Dean Drako, Eagle Eye Networks CEO. "Business owners' reliance on video surveillance is increasing because the security and operational insights provided by video surveillance are helping them adapt to the new business environment. Concurrently, the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) combined with cloud video surveillance promises better, faster, and more accurate analytics for security and business optimization. We expect businesses to rely even more on cloud–based AI analytics to help them thrive in 2022."

To learn what the following five trends mean for your business, and more insights, download the free 2022 Trends in Video Surveillance ebook here.

Video Surveillance Trends for 2022:

  1. Businesses want the flexibility to add customized analytics to their video surveillance systems.
  2. Video surveillance will help businesses impacted by the labor shortage do more with less.
  3. More customers are understanding the business intelligence value of video surveillance.
  4. Pandemic trends around remote work and home and curbside delivery are here to stay.
  5. Interoperability is key to data management and security.

Eagle Eye Networks is the global leader in cloud video surveillance, delivering cyber–secure cloud–based video with artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics to make businesses more efficient and the world a safer place. The Eagle Eye Cloud VMS (video management system) is the only platform robust and flexible enough to power the future of video surveillance and intelligence. Eagle Eye is based in Austin, Texas with offices in Amsterdam, Bangalore, and Tokyo. Learn more at

Martha Entwistle

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at–691a–4de9–8a92–f85f0e23865e

How to Tackle the Femicide Epidemic

After suffering in a violent and abusive relationship, Layla went to the police, accompanied by a friend. Meanwhile, Covid-19 has exacerbated gender-based violence. Fighting patriarchal power structures and gender inequalities is essential in putting an end to it. Credit: UN Women/Mohammed Bakir

By Jade Levell
BRISTOL, UK, Nov 30 2021 – Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the increase in domestic violence rates has led the United Nations to declare a ‘shadow pandemic’ of gender-based violence. In the most brutal cases, the violence has led to murder – or ‘femicide’, as the World Health Organisation calls the killing of women specifically because of their gender.

This is distinct from male homicide because of the power differentials that underline femicide; most cases are perpetrated by current or ex-partners and emerge from a context of abuse, control, violence, and intimidation.

‘Femicide’ as a label aims to draw specific attention to the gendered nature of the victimisation. Domestic violence is both a cause and consequence of gender inequality. The threat of violence, and the presence of abuse, serve to grant the perpetrator power and control over their victim.

A study by WHO and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine show that more than 35 per cent of all murders of women globally are reported to be committed by an intimate partner, as opposed to 5 per cent of male murders. 137 women across the world are killed by a member of their own family every day.

Domestic violence’s correlation with times of crisis

Although we do not yet have the data on the increases of femicides, many countries have evidence of a much higher demand for domestic violence support services since the pandemic broke out. In some countries, calls to helplines have increased five-fold as rates of reported intimate partner violence increased alongside the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jade Levell

In Mexico, refuge services saw a 77-fold increase in demand. There has been much research that shows prevalence of domestic and sexual violence increases during times of crisis.

There have also been specific aspects of the Covid-19 national lockdowns that have materially exacerbated isolation for victims. The closure of face-to-face health services, support services, and even local amenities has reduced opportunities for victims seeking help.

The closure of schools and youth services meant that children living with domestic violence and abuse also faced being cut off from support and respite of the school day. Dubravka Šimonović, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, also critiqued the ‘gender-blind’ lockdown measures which had resulted in an increased risk of domestic violence and abuse (DVA) for those confined at home with abusers.

The danger of a gender-neutral approach

Despite the framing of ‘femicide’ as a distinct outcome of gender-based violence, however, there is still a general lack of accountability for perpetrators. In 2018, the United Nations invested €50 million to focus particularly on femicide in Latin America, where 98 per cent of gender-related murders are unprosecuted.

Part of the problem lies in reticence to connect patriarchal power structures to the prevalence of femicide. Instead of seeing an increase in gendered framing of DVA, we are instead witnessing an increasing trend towards gender neutrality.

This is occurring in a wider context of rolling back of women’s rights more broadly, including increased abortion restrictions around the world, and increased reactionary responses to so-called ‘gender ideology’. There has also been an alarming roll back in international cooperation around gender-based violence through the push back against the Istanbul Convention.

In July this year, Turkey withdrew from the convention despite the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) noting this would ‘deepen the protection gap for women and girls during a time when gender-based violence against women is on the rise’.

Some countries like the United Kingdom have only signed, but not ratified, the Istanbul convention. In 2021, UK launched the Domestic Abuse Bill in parliament. This, however, frames DVA in gender-neutral terms. Indeed, domestic abuse murders in UK government procedures are still framed as ‘domestic homicides’. In contexts such as this, the term ‘homicide’ is framed as a gender-neutral term which refers to the killing of a human being by another person.

For advocates of remaining with one umbrella term, a key advantage is that it focuses on the act of killing and applies to victims of all genders. This approach also reflects the fact that not all murders of women are related to gender-based violence; 42 per cent of global murders of women in 2019 were by perpetrators who were not partners or family members.

However, gender remains an important aspect of understanding violence, as males commit 90 per cent of murders worldwide. This has led some campaigners to call for the naming of ‘male violence’ as the key issue, regardless of the gender of the victims. Gender-neutrality under the guise of inclusivity serves to obscure the role that patriarchal systems and gender-inequality play in violence worldwide.

In considering the response to femicide, countries also need to take into account the living victims of femicide, namely the children that are left when their mothers are killed. In 2018, Italy became the first country in Europe to pass a law for orfani speciali, or special orphans.

The fund financially supports a range of issues; scholarships, legal aid, and funding for medical and psychological care. All too often children are left with sparse and oversubscribed services with a postcode lottery of support provided by charities and NGOs.

The UK Domestic Abuse Bill has designated children as victims of domestic abuse in their own right, marking a distinct change from their previous peripheral recognition as witnesses and bystanders.

Femicide is preventable

Femicide as a term hones our attention to the gendered dynamics murder related to domestic violence against women. In reality, however, femicide is overlooked, undercounted, and under-prosecuted across the globe.

Although there has been some attention paid to the shadow pandemic of gender-based violence, the burden of this has fallen on the shoulders of already under-resourced NGO services.

It is essential to remember that femicide is actually a symptom of a much wider problem. It is patriarchal norms and gender inequality that are both the cause and consequence of gender-based violence in society.

To effect change, we need to address systematic gender-inequality, societal tolerance of violence against women, and properly fund resources and services to support victims to access help as well as perpetrators to be held accountable and have targeted interventions to effect change. Femicide is not an inevitable part of life. It is preventable

Jade Levell is a Lecturer in Social & Public Policy at the University of Bristol. She is a specialist in gender-based violence and serious youth violence, as well as gender theory including studies of masculinities

Source: International Politics and Society (IPS), which is published by the Global and European Policy Unit of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Hiroshimastrasse 28, D-10785 Berlin.


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How Inequality Drives HIV in Adolescent Girls and Young Women

How inequality drives HIV in adolescent girls and young women - To fight economic inequality, female dependency on relationships and gender-based violence, female education is critical. Credit: Zofeen Ebrahim/IPS

To fight economic inequality, female dependency on relationships and gender-based violence, female education is critical. Credit: Zofeen Ebrahim/IPS

By External Source
Nov 30 2021 – Despite the advances that have been made against HIV, the world has 37 million people living with HIV. And 680,000 people died from AIDS-related causes in 2020. While the prevention of mother to child transmission, and provision of treatment as prevention, are great successes, there are still gaps. Over 1.5 million new HIV infections were recorded in 2020.

In 2020, adolescent girls and young women aged 15 to 24 accounted for 25% of new infections, while making up only 10% of the population. Six in seven new HIV infections among adolescents (aged 15 to 19) were among girls, even though boys live in similar contexts. Young women aged 15–24 years old were twice as likely to be living with HIV compared with men.

In addition to the difference in risk between the sexes, other risk and protective factors may have an influence. So, within the population of adolescent girls and young women, differences in their unique risk profiles mean that some may be at a higher risk of HIV infection than others.

In 2020, adolescent girls and young women aged 15 to 24 accounted for 25% of new infections, while making up only 10% of the population. Six in seven new HIV infections among adolescents (aged 15 to 19) were among girls, even though boys live in similar contexts

Understanding risk profiles helps us realise that HIV is more than just a virus. These profiles highlight how HIV risk and HIV prevention uptake are influenced by biological, socio-behavioural and structural factors. So while new HIV prevention options may become available, adolescent girls and young women will weigh up the benefits of using them.

They consider factors such as partner trust, the social value of relationships, their perceived risk and the economic and social consequences that occur as a result of using them. All this happens in the context of the structural inequalities that sustain risk – things that individuals can’t always control.

Risk profiles – the unique combination of factors that work to mediate HIV risk – should inform responses to the evolving pandemic. More nuanced and locally responsive approaches are required.


Risk factors

As the world aims for the 90-90-90 goals, it’s useful to see who is falling behind. Global data suggests that in 2020, 84% of people living with HIV know their HIV status, 73% of those are accessing HIV treatment and 66% of those on treatment are virally suppressed.

Hidden in these successes are those who have still not been reached by HIV prevention and treatment efforts, who are put at risk by inequality, exclusion and social and economic vulnerability. What is the profile of those who have still not been reached? What factors within those profiles prevent us from reaching them? And how do we tailor interventions that respond to local contexts of risk? A large number of studies and programmes have already provided some of these answers.

Power in relationships: Adolescent girls and young women who are sexually active are at the highest risk of HIV infection. Delaying sexual debut is a key goal of HIV prevention. But sexual relationships often start in adolescence. The HIV transmission cycle highlights that adolescent girls and young women in age-disparate sexual relationships, (i.e “sugar daddies”) are at higher risk than those in peer relationships.

Age-disparate relationships often have social, emotional, economic and sexual value that may outweigh potential risks. But they are usually characterised by power dynamics that make discussions about sexual health difficult. In contexts of high female poverty and partner dependency, the power and gender inequalities of these relationships will increase the risk of HIV infection and may limit the ability of adolescent girls and young women to negotiate safe sex practices.

Gender-based violence: Adolescent girls and young women who are victims of gender-based violence will have risk profiles that make them more vulnerable to HIV infection. In contexts where female poverty is high and retaining relationships is critical for survival, agency to make sexual health decisions may be difficult.

In South Africa, home to the largest HIV pandemic, over 10,000 people were raped between April and June 2021. Many of these incidents took place at the home of the victim or the home of the rapist. In the same period, over 15,000 domestic violence assault cases were reported. These high rates of gender-based violence highlight that access to HIV prevention services are necessary but not sufficient to protect women from HIV infection.

To fight economic inequality, female dependency on relationships and gender-based violence, female education is critical. Additionally, changing gender norms in young boys and ensuring more equitable gender beliefs as men grow older will create an environment in which female agency is non-negotiable and respected.


Services and interventions

Use of HIV prevention services is influenced by inequalities in access and by social and gender norms. Access does not equate to uptake. A lack of knowledge about sexual health, inequitable gender norms around sex, and conservative social norms about adolescent sexual well-being contribute to poor uptake of sexual and reproductive health services among adolescent girls and young women.

Engaging their sexual partners, challenging social and gender norms, providing comprehensive sexual education, and creating sex-positive and egalitarian health services for adolescents are essential for fighting the HIV pandemic in young people.

Without understanding the social context in which adolescent girls and young women manage and negotiate sex, and tailoring interventions to break the transmission cycle, it will be a struggle to achieve epidemic control in adolescent girls and young women.

In sub-Saharan Africa, a more nuanced view of the risks faced by adolescent girls and young women will be essential for developing targeted and relevant interventions. These efforts will also help reduce inequalities and build societies more resilient to future pandemics.The Conversation

Hilton Humphries, Behavioural Scientist, Centre for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA)

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Profiting from the Carbon Offset Distraction

By Anis Chowdhury and Jomo Kwame Sundaram
SYDNEY and KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 2021 – Carbon offset markets allow the rich to emit as financial intermediaries profit. By fostering the fiction that others can be paid to cut greenhouse gases (GHGs) instead, it undermines efforts to do so.

Anis Chowdhury

Committing to achieve ‘net-zero’ carbon emissions has become a major climate change policy goal. But most climate scientists agree the target is dangerously misleading. Ostensibly promoting decarbonization, it actually allows carbon emissions to continue rising.

On 28 January 2021, two High-Level Climate Action Champions, the COP25 and COP26 Presidents, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary launched the Davos’ World Economic Forum’s ‘Race to Zero Breakthroughs’ initiative.

More than 130 countries pledged in Glasgow to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Despite well-known setbacks, the COP26 Glasgow Climate Pact has been hailed as a breakthrough on the “path to a safer future”.

Before COP26, many cities, regions, businesses, investors and higher education institutions joined the 120 countries already committed then. Achieving net-zero via offset trading has thus become the main climate action distraction.

Following difficult, protracted negotiations after the 2015 Paris Agreement (PA), Article 6 was the last of its 29 Articles agreed to. Article 6 unifies carbon offset trading standards in order to minimize ‘double counting’.

Offsetting allows countries and companies to continue emitting GHGs instead of cutting them. Buying offsets lets them claim their emissions have been ‘cancelled’. Thus, offset markets have slowed climate action in the rich North, responsible for two-thirds of cumulative emissions.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram

Cheap cheats
Clearly, Article 6 does not stop emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other GHGs. The Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) also enables not cutting GHG production by paying others to do so. Thus, offset markets enable the wealthy to avoid cutting GHG discharges at little cost.

But why pay for emission cuts which would have happened anyway, even without being paid for via offset sales? At best, net-zero is a zero-sum game maintaining atmospheric GHG levels. But progress requires CO2 reduction, i.e., being net-negative, not just net-zero.

Many carbon credits sold as offsets do not additionally remove carbon as claimed. For example, J.P. Morgan, Disney and BlackRock have all paid millions to protect forests not even under threat. A CEO agreed its offset – buying into a Tanzania forestry programme – “is cheating”.

The Economist sees carbon offsets as “cheap cheats”. By ramping up the supply of offsets, prices were kept low. Much scope to game the system remains. Energy-intensive companies collude and lobby against high carbon prices, insisting they damage competitiveness.

Often buying in bulk, they pay too little for carbon credits to incentivize switching to renewable energy. Averaging only US$3 per tonne of CO2 in 2018 cannot accelerate desirable energy transitions.

Less than 5% of all offsets actually reduce CO2 in the atmosphere. A 2016 European Commission study of CDM offset projects found 85% provided no environmental benefits.

Making money instead
The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) – a US$130 trillion investor club of over 450 financial firms in 45 countries – was launched at COP26 in Glasgow. It is chaired by former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, now UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance.

The GFANZ claims to be leveraging the power of big finance to innovatively achieve the PA goal of keeping the temperature rise over pre-industrial levels under 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Advocates claim this will unlock trillions of dollars to protect forests, increase renewable energy generation and otherwise mitigate global warming. But GFANZ does not even seek to cut finance for GHG-intensive industries.

GFANZ members pay ‘experts’, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and governments to achieve net-zero ‘pathways’. Offset markets have enabled environmental NGOs to make money from supposed climate mitigating projects or by certifying other schemes.

Meanwhile, big businesses burnish their green credentials with offset purchases. After all, there are no agreed metrics to ensure portfolio alignment with the PA. Unsurprisingly, the Marshall Islands’ climate envoy urges remaining “vigilant against greenwashing”.

Touting market solutions, the World Bank has noted a recent surge in demand from major financial investors, including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Lansdowne Partners. But much goes to profits from arbitrage, speculation or trading for third parties – not decarbonization or net-zero.

Even Larry Fink – CEO of Blackrock, the world’s largest asset manager – is sceptical, “We are lying to ourselves if we think we can do it just by conveniently asking banks and financial service companies, public companies, to conform to TCFD reporting. We are creating the biggest capital arbitrage of our lifetimes.”

Selling the sky
Offset markets have meant new opportunities to create new tradable assets. By aggregating all GHG emissions – from fossil fuels, deforestation, landfills, agriculture, etc. – profitable new financial products have been engineered for emissions trading and carbon credits.

The implicit premise is that market-based approaches always work best to address problems, in this case, to reduce GHG emissions. They do not distinguish between ‘luxury emissions’ and those due to the poor’s livelihoods.

Meanwhile, the world’s wealthiest 1% produces twice the total carbon emissions of the poorest 50%! Worse, emissions from private jets, mega-yachts and space travel of the super-rich greatly exacerbate global warming.

As with CDM and voluntary offset markets, the burden of emissions reduction has been shifted from North to South. While rich countries continue emitting GHGs, developing countries are now expected to ‘come clean’!

But no money for poor
At the GFANZ launch, Mark Carney claimed, “Make no mistake, the money is here, if the world wants to use it”. But developing countries are still waiting to see the promised US$100bn yearly to help finance their mitigation and adaptation efforts.

Following strong US opposition at the Article 6 negotiations, developing countries failed to secure ‘international transfers of mitigation outcomes’, i.e., mandatory contributions to the Adaptation Fund from the proceeds of international emissions trading among parties to the PA.

The US and European Union also successfully blocked a ‘loss and damage’ fund to finance recovery and reconstruction after climate disasters. Thus, Glasgow failed to deliver any significant additional climate finance for poor countries – for climate change adaptation as well as losses and damages.


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Fighting Loss of the Greater Mekong’s Prized Rosewood Forests

Siamese Rosewood trees on a farmland in Lao PDR – Credit_NAFRI, Laos

By Catherine Wilson
CANBERRA, Australia , Nov 30 2021 – The famed Rosewood forests of the Greater Mekong region in Southeast Asia produce dark, richly grained timbers zealously sought after worldwide by manufacturers of luxury furniture, flooring and musical instruments, among other products. But their high value has also made them a major commodity in transnational organized crime.

Now a strategic partnership of international and national government research organizations is leading an expert endeavour to ensure their survival.

“The Rosewood species are among the most valuable species in the world. They are worth tens of thousands of dollars per cubic metre, but because of illegal logging, they were almost wiped out in the Indochina landscapes,” Riina Jalonen, a scientist working with the Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, told IPS. The collaborative research-for-development initiative pursues research and innovative solutions to the major global challenges of land degradation, biodiversity loss and poverty around the world.

For the past three years, the Alliance has joined with national partners in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam as well as the University of Copenhagen and the Chinese Academy of Forestry to spearhead ways of conserving the genetic diversity of Rosewoods. The project, which is also working to support planting and restoration of Rosewood timbers and galvanize a strong reliable supply of seeds and seedlings, is led by the University of Oxford and funded by the Darwin Initiative in the United Kingdom.

Collecting seed of Burmese Rosewood (Dalbergia oliveri) in Cambodia – Credit_IRD, Cambodia

Chaloun Bountihiphonh at the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute in Vientiane, Lao PDR, has witnessed a turnaround in the fortune of the species since the project began in 2018. “The status of the Rosewood Dalbergia populations have improved and now cover more than 60 percent of their natural habitat, and a seed network has been established. And communities of the project have been strengthened in their awareness of the importance of Rosewoods and the additional income that they can get from seed collection,” Bountihiphonh told IPS.

The Greater Mekong subregion, comprising the countries of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and China, boasts immense biodiversity, including 20,000 plant species and 1,200 species of birds. The region’s forests provide the natural habitats for wildlife, but also prevent soil erosion and landslides, create essential levels of atmospheric moisture and combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. And local communities, including many indigenous peoples, depend on the forests for shelter, sustenance, livelihoods and income.

But deforestation, driven by rapid population growth, expansion of infrastructure, agriculture and mining, as well as forest fires and illicit logging operations, has taken a heavy toll. Forest cover in the Greater Mekong declined by 5 percent, while in Cambodia alone it declined by 27 percent, from 1990-2015, reports the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The Rosewood conservation project has focussed on three specific species: Dalbergia cochinchinensis, also known as Siamese Rosewood, is in high demand by furniture makers. Dalbergia oliveri, or Burmese Rosewood with highly fragrant and with a pronounced grain, is popular for woodworking, and Dalbergia cultrata, also named Burma Blackwood, is a blackwood timber characterised by varied hues of burgundy.

The United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reports that 8.3 million kilograms of illegally trafficked Rosewood was seized worldwide between 2005-2015. The top ten source countries included India, Thailand and Cambodia, and the main destination countries included China, Malaysia, Vietnam and the United States. This is also what makes regional collaboration so crucial for safeguarding the species.

“Illegal logging of primary forests has directly destroyed the mature trees and good quality mother trees which produce seeds for natural regeneration and silviculture,” Bountihiphonh said.

The conservation project grew out of discussions with forestry experts in the Mekong countries, who highlighted the issues threatening the valuable timber forests. The Alliance first conducted conservation assessments of the species to analyse and identify the specific threats and conservation needs.

Then, in partnership with Cambodia’s Institute of Forest and Wildlife Research and Development, Lao’s National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute and the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, two main conservation approaches were implemented. The ‘in situ’ approach preserves the Rosewood trees in their natural environment, for example, in the form of a national park or community-managed forest. The second ‘ex situ’ strategy promulgates the species in a different designated location, such as a plantation or in a seed production area.

However, restoring and expanding forests requires a vast supply of seeds. And so, seed and seedling production are some of the most important activities carried out in forest-dwelling communities.

“We have been helping farmers to establish seed orchards, where trees are planted specifically for seed production. It is the farmers who are interested in producing seeds and selling them. Especially in Cambodia, they have quite an active network of seed producers and seed collectors, and the Institute of Forest and Wildlife Research and Development has really spearheaded this work to help more and more farmers to participate and benefit” Jalonen said.

Seed orchards make seed collection an easier, safer and less time-consuming process than in the natural environment, and have led to substantial economic benefits for communities.

Some of the largest remaining rosewood populations in Cambodia are found within Community Forests – Credit_Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT

“People in rural areas are increasingly realizing the value of these species. The species provides two sellable products; timber and seed. Timber takes a very long time to produce, but seed is something that the farmers can collect after a few years and Rosewood seed is highly valuable, fetching around US$200-250 per kilogram. It is something that the farmers can harvest every year for annual income,” Jalonen explained.

The work being done by the Alliance and its national partners aims to benefit seven rural forest-based communities in the Greater Mekong region and reduce poverty in 175 households by boosting earnings from the marketing of seeds and seedlings by up to 20 percent.

“Big Rosewood trees are not widely available as before because of the illegal cutting and debarking of the Burmese Rosewood,” Ou Veng, farmer and village leader of O Srao in Cambodia, said. “In the past, people were not interested to protect the forest. But now they worry about losing it because it’s required for their livelihoods. So more and more people are involved in patrolling, tree planting and fire protection. The forest has regenerated significantly.”

In Pursat, Cambodia, the expansion of a local farmer’s nursery for the sale of Rosewood seed and seedlings increased local employment opportunities in the community threefold between 2018 and 2020.

In the village of Kampeng, also in Cambodia, Soeung Sitha, a farmer described how reafforestation efforts had also acquired a heritage purpose. “Many of our community forest members have planted Siamese Rosewood in their home gardens and farms. They don’t want the species to become extinct. They want the younger generation to use them as well,” he said.

Ahead of the initiative coming to an end in December, Jalonen reflected on what is likely to be some of its important legacies.

“A model for farmer-led seed production for Rosewoods now exists. What has been really successful is the establishment of seed orchards by farmers,” she said. “Seeds are providing incomes and job opportunities and, what is also important, is that it generates more opportunities for women because collecting the seeds of these trees from the forest is difficult. You actually have to climb the trees. So when the seed production is done on farms with smaller plants, it is much easier to collect.”

And the new forest growth will be more robust. “By helping to improve the quality of seeds and seedlings in restoration areas and making sure they are genetically diverse, the planted forest will grow to be productive and also resilient. Under the rapidly changing environment, this capacity of the trees to adapt is more important than ever – and not only for the species themselves but also for the global efforts to mitigate climate change through forest conservation and restoration,” Jalonen emphasised.


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