Society

What Bill Gates Has Done That's Setting Off Radical Islamist Killing Sprees

The Microsoft founder and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg are active in trying to eradicate polio. But immunization efforts have led to deadly attacks from Nigeria to Pakistan.

Bill Gates in Africa
Michael Kelley

Efforts like the one being led by Bill Gates and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have reduced the number of children paralyzed by the polio virus from 350,000 in 1998 to fewer than 225 cases in 2012.

But the last remnants of the the debilitating disease must be wiped out in Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, or else it will make a comeback.

Radical islamic militants are preventing that from happening by attacking clinics, health workers, and police who travel with vaccinators to administer the vaccine to children.

Earlier this month in northern Nigeria, armed men linked to Islamist extremist group Boko Haram killed nine people at a clinic after a local cleric denounced polio vaccination campaigns and local radio programs saying the campaigns are part of a foreign plot to sterilize Muslims.

Epicenter

The province, Kona, is now the epicenter of polio infections in Africa as it has refused to participate in the vaccination campaign.

In Pakistan a total of 18 people have been killed in the last three months, including a police officer who was escorting a polio team in the tribal areas in the country's northwest.

The cultural suspicions may be even messier in Pakistan where came to light that CIA hired a Pakistani doctor to give out hepatitis B vaccine in Abbottabad in March 2011 in an apparent effort to get DNA samples from Osama bin Laden’s hide-out.

"Boko Haram and the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan share a common ideology and common strategy and ... their targets are similar," Shehu Sani, president of the Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria, told the Guardian. "Boko Haram have targeted police stations, politicians, religious clerics who speak out against them and people engaging in polio vaccination programmes."

The tactics have been effective as polio infections have doubled in Pakistan since 2009, new cases are on the rise in Afghanistan, and a polio virus traced to Pakistan was recently found in sewers in Cairo, Egypt (which hasn't seen a case since 2004).

Total eradication

Gates, Microsoft"s 57-year-old co-founder, who has donated an estimated $28 billion to charity through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is determined to completely eradicate the disease.

"Polio's pretty special because once you get an eradication you no longer have to spend money on it," Gates told The Times of India. "It's just there as a gift for the rest of time ... All you need is over 90 percent of children to have the vaccine drop three times and the disease stops spreading ... The great thing about finishing polio is that we'll have resources to get going on malaria and measles."

David Scales of The Disease Daily notes that the key to success in the remaining infected areas is "regaining trust of both the local people and religious leaders," which led northern Nigeria to resume polio vaccinations after a 2003 boycott. Until then, the polio teams need more protection.

Pakistanis aren't so optimistic about solving it through cultural outreach.

"There is only one lasting solution to this and that is to militarily defeat the Taliban once and for all," according to an editorial in the Pakistan Express Tribune.

Polio, a highly infectious viral disease that can cause permanent paralysis in a matter of hours, usually infects children living in unsanitary conditions.

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La Sagrada Familia Delayed Again — Blame COVID-19 This Time

Hopes were dashed by local officials to see the completion of the iconic Barcelona church in 2026, in time for the 100th anniversary of the death of its renowned architect Antoni Guadí.

Work on La Sagrada Familia has been delayed because of the pandemic

By most accounts, it's currently the longest-running construction project in the world. And now, the completion of work on the iconic Barcelona church La Sagrada Familia, which began all the way back in 1882, is going to take even longer.

Barcelona-based daily El Periodico daily reports that work on the church, which began as the vision of master architect Antoni Gaudí, was slated to be completed in 2026. But a press conference Tuesday, Sep. 21 confirmed that the deadline won't be met, in part because of delays related to COVID-19. Officials also provided new details about the impending completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin).

El Periódico - 09/22/2021

El Periodico daily reports on the latest delay from what may be the longest-running construction project in the world.

One tower after the other… Slowly but surely, La Sagrada Familia has been growing bigger and higher before Barcelonians and visitors' eager eyes for nearly 140 years. However, all will have to be a bit more patient before they see the famous architectural project finally completed. During Tuesday's press conference, general director of the Construction Board of the Sagrada Familia, Xavier Martínez, and the architect director, Jordi Faulí, had some good and bad news to share.

As feared, La Sagrada Familia's completion date has been delayed. Because of the pandemic, the halt put on the works in early March when Spain went into a national lockdown. So the hopes are dashed of the 2026 inauguration in what would have been the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death.

Although he excluded new predictions of completion until post-COVID normalcy is restored - no earlier than 2024 -, Martínez says: "Finishing in 2030, rather than being a realistic forecast, would be an illusion, starting the construction process will not be easy," reports La Vanguardia.

But what's a few more years when you already have waited 139, after all? However delayed, the construction will reach another milestone very soon with the completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin), the first tower of the temple to be completed in 44 years and the second tallest spire of the complex. It will be crowned by a 12-pointed star which will be illuminated on December 8, Immaculate Conception Day.

Next would be the completion of the Evangelist Lucas tower and eventually, the tower of Jesus Christ, the most prominent of the Sagrada Familia, reaching 172.5 meters thanks to an illuminated 13.5 meters wide "great cross." It will be made of glass and porcelain stoneware to reflect daylight and will be illuminated at night and project rays of light.

La Sagrada Familia through the years

La Sagrada Familia, 1889 - wikipedia

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