Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega offered Tuesday to hand over 651 Soviet-made surface-to-air missiles to the United States in exchange for military helicopters, surgical supplies and medicine.
Ortega said the medical supplies were needed to treat chronic illnesses caused by the American-made pesticide Nemagon used decades ago in the country’s banana plantations. The helicopters would be used to fight drug traffickers, he said.
“This won’t be a gift, but simply a barter with them,” Ortega said.
Cristina Stewart, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua, said the United States would be willing to consider Ortega’s proposal.
HIV spread linked to sex trafficking
The international trafficking of women to work as prostitutes is likely a key factor in the spread of HIV across South Asia, according to a study released today that found high rates of the virus in Nepali girls and women who worked in Indian brothels.
The study in the Journal of the American Medical Association examined 287 Nepali women and girls who had been trafficked into Indian brothels and returned to Nepal between 1997 and 2005. It found that some 40 percent of them were HIV positive, with the figure rising to 60 percent among those who had been trafficked before the age of 15.
“The high rates of HIV documented herein support concerns that sex trafficking may be a significant factor in the expansion of the South Asian HIV epidemic,” said the report on the study.
South Asia is one of the areas worst hit by HIV and AIDS, with some 3.5 million people infected in India alone. The report estimated that 150,000 girls and women are trafficked each year across the region.
$200,000 bill not worth much
The central bank unveiled a new 200,000 Zimbabwe dollar note Tuesday, double the face value of what had been the highest denomination bill in a country where bundles of notes are needed for the simplest transactions.
The Reserve Bank said in a statement circulation of the new 200,000 Zimbabwe dollar bill from Wednesday was for convenience in business and individual transactions.
The bill is worth $13 at the official exchange rate or $1 at the dominant illegal black market rate. With five bills a Zimbabwean millionaire can buy a handful of scarce food.
The nation’s official inflation is 4,500 percent, the highest in the world. Independent finance houses estimate real inflation closer to 9,000 percent.
From wire reports
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