Stories written by Amanda Wilson

U.S. Court Upholds Status Quo on Gene Patents

Is a gene more like a tree trunk or more like a baseball bat? A federal court Thursday took a stand on the question, ruling that isolated DNA molecules are “not found in nature", and are therefore more like inventions, such as baseball bats, than natural phenomenon, such as tree trunks.

AIDS Meet Ends with Talk of Cure, But Realities of Scourge Persist

As the International AIDS Conference ended in Washington on Friday, organisers unveiled groundbreaking new research on the promise of early anti-retroviral (ARV) drug therapy.

Protesters: Free Trade Deals, Drug Patents Derail AIDS Fight

As the nineteenth International AIDS Conference continued in Washington Tuesday, thousands of protesters marched on the White House with a set of demands to end the epidemic.

A sack of cassiterite (tin ore) at a trader

Conflict Minerals Law Hold-up Threatens Lives in DR Congo

Electronics are at the top of many holiday gift lists in the U.S. this season, but some of those products could be made using minerals from areas of the world where conflicts have led to widespread human rights abuses.

U.S.: Greater Oversight Urged for Human Research in Wake of Scandal

The current U.S. system for protecting the subjects of federally-funded medical research, both in the U.S. and around the world, has room for significant improvements, a presidential bioethics panel concluded late last week.

SOUTH SUDAN: Women Aim to Protect Their Rights in a Young State

As South Sudan maps out its economic future at the South Sudan International Engagement Conference (IEC) this week in Washington, women from the new country called on donors to invest in projects that ensure women benefit equally from development plans.

Artistic recreation of a woman

US: For Many Women, a Prison Sentence Also Means Abuse

While most of the one million women in prison in the U.S. are incarcerated for non-violent offences, many experience harsh treatment that advocates say violates their human rights.

Workers Send More Money Home, Surpassing Development Aid

Despite a global economic crisis, worsening employment prospects for immigrants and hardening views on immigration in the U.S. and Europe, migrant workers are sending more money home, according to a World Bank report on global remittances released Wednesday.

U.S.: 2010 Saw Record Number of International Students

For the fifth consecutive year, the number of international students studying in the U.S. increased, hitting an all-time record high, according to a report released Monday by the Institute of International Education (IIE) at the start of International Education Week.

Frank Mugisha Credit: Photo courtesy of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights

U.S.-UGANDA: Award Honours Courageous Gay Rights Activist

Frank Mugisha was just a young teenager in Uganda when he came out as gay. He faced bullying and threats, but he says the stories of lesbian, gay, and transgender friends he later met were much worse - some were kicked out of their homes by their families, subjected to sexual violence to "make them straight", or arrested.

Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni has been in power for 25 years. Credit:  UN Photo/Marco Castro

U.S. Concerned Over Uganda’s “Deteriorating” Human Rights

The U.S. State Department Wednesday released a statement criticising what it said was a "deteriorating" human rights situation in Uganda and the government's increasingly heavy- handed tactics to repress political opposition and silence dissent.

Bidoun women of Kuwait. Credit: Courtesy of Refugees International

Citizens of Nowhere

When Mona Kareem, a member of the Bidoun population of Kuwait, was 11 years old, a neighbour Kuwaiti woman asked her where she was from. When Kareem answered, "I am from Bidoun," the woman laughed at her. "There is no country called Bidoun. There is no Bidoun."

Structure of the BRCA1 protein. Credit: emw/creative commons

Gene Patents “Like Trying to Keep Water in a Sieve”

If the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear a case on gene patents, observers say the resulting face-off - between a large genetics testing company and a vocal coalition of breast cancer patient advocates – will have a massive impact because of what is at stake: valuable information about the human genome.

Female member of the Nigerian battalion of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) stands in the rain. Credit: UN Photo/Christopher Herwig

U.S. Urged to Keep Funding U.N Peacekeeping

High-level United Nations officials and advocates of U.S. involvement in U.N. peacekeeping initiatives in Washington this week urged lawmakers to continue and even ramp up support for the operations, which they say benefit U.S. security interests, protect civilians, and prevent failed states.

U.S.: ACLU Will Take Gene Patent Case to Supreme Court

When Jaydee Hanson, then-bioethics director for the United Methodist Church, spoke out publicly against gene patents over 15 years ago, some in the biotech industry compared his stance to the Catholic Church's persecution of Galileo, the 15th century astronomer who discovered the moons of Jupiter.

Biofuels, Speculators Driving Food Price Surges

A new report on global hunger pinpoints factors at the heart of spikes in food prices it says are exacerbating the unfolding food crisis in the Horn of Africa.

Agencies Fight to Save U.S. Foreign Aid from Deep Cuts

Foreign aid could be one of the first items on the chopping block as the United States struggles to address trillion- dollar deficits in the coming fiscal years, a fate U.S. international development agency officials are trying hard to avoid.

Three-year-old Henry Shales, visiting from New York, takes a close look at a solar panel on display at the DOE Solar Decathlon 2011. Credit: Stefano Paltera/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

U.S.: Solar Homes Offer New Hope for Renewable Energy

As a light drizzle fell Saturday, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu pointed to solar houses constructed by students on the National Mall park in Washington as evidence that the U.S can compete internationally in the renewable energy market to create jobs and win "the war against climate change".

Concerns Loom over Implications of Enhancement Technology

Imagine a class of 24 children, three of whom take performance enhancing medicines that increase their chances of scoring high on standardized tests. Now quadruple that number, with one half of the pupils popping pills and the other pushing their pencils med free.

Reining in Cowboy Mining Companies

In the seemingly lawless global free-for-all to lay claim to reserves of the world's most precious remaining natural resources, experts warn that "cowboy mining companies" are plundering the earth's riches and leaving little left for the rest.

Schoolchildren in Vilandai, India attend a climate change workshop. Credit: Courtesy of

Indian Activists Bring Anti-Coal Campaign to World Bank

As leaders from two of the world's largest financial institutions, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, met for annual meetings here Tuesday, a delegation of activists from India called on the World Bank to follow through with its proposal to dramatically cut funding for coal-burning power stations.

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