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Asthma can usually be controlled with an inhaler, or, sometimes, with medication. When neither works, it might be that the patient doesn’t have asthma at all. VOA’s Carol Pearson reports that researchers have found another disease with the same symptoms as asthma actually starts in the stomach.

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The field for this year’s Super Bowl is set, with the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers earning the right to play for the National Football League championship on Feb. 2 in Miami.

The Chiefs defeated the Tennessee Titans 35-24 on Sunday to claim the American Football Conference crown and the team’s first trip to the Super Bowl since 1970.

Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes (15) celebrates a touchdown pass with Eric Fisher (72) and Mitchell Schwartz (71) during the second half of the NFL AFC Championship football game against the Tennessee Titans, Jan. 19, 2020, in Kansas City.

The 49ers have had more recent success, last appearing in the Super Bowl in 2012.  They beat the Green Bay Packers 37-20 in the National Football Conference championship game Sunday.

Fans can likely expect a high-scoring Super Bowl.  During the regular season, the 49ers ranked second in the NFL in points scored, while the Chiefs were fifth.

San Francisco’s offense is more focused on running to advance the ball down the field. Kansas City prefers to pass the ball, with star quarterback Patrick Mahomes leading its offense.

The Super Bowl is enjoyed not only by football fans, but also many others who may not watch any other football game during the rest of the year. The television broadcast is annually one of the most watched shows in the United States with about 100 million people tuning in.

Interest goes beyond the game itself, with many people eager to enjoy the commercials shown during the broadcast. Companies spend $5 million for a 30-second spot to showcase new and special ad campaigns they create.

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Las Vegas, Nevada is often called ‘Sin City.’ It’s known as a place where people behave in more self-indulgent or decadent ways, famously summed up in the saying, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” But some Afghan immigrants who lead quiet religious lives have a different view of this gambling mecca. VOA’s Samir Rassoly visited a few local Afghan businesses and filed this report from Las Vegas.

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The influential speaker of Iran’s parliament said on Sunday that, if European powers “for any reason” take an “unfair” approach to the dispute mechanism in the 4-year-old nuclear deal that has been in the balance since a U.S. pullout in 2018, Tehran will “seriously reconsider” its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“What the three European countries did regarding Iran’s nuclear issue…is unfortunate,” the speaker, Ali Larijani, who is also a former chief nuclear negotiator for Tehran, was quoted as saying by state TV.

Germany, Britain, and France announced last week that they had triggered the dispute mechanism in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which exchanged curbs on Iran’s nuclear program for relief from international sanctions.

“We clearly announce that if Europe, for any reason, uses Article 37 of the nuclear agreement unfairly, then Iran will make a serious decision regarding cooperation with the agency,” Larijani said, according to the AFP news agency.

The European states — signatories of the JCPOA along with China, Russia, the European Union, and, formerly, the United States — said that, while the mechanism could lead to U.N. sanctions against Iran, they were not joining Washington’s yearlong “maximum pressure” campaign designed to change Tehran’s behavior.

Since the U.S. withdrawal from the deal, Iran has breached its main limitations, exceeding the stockpiles of heavy water and uranium allowed, the number and types of centrifuges it can operate to enrich uranium, and the purity of uranium.

 

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Germany is bringing together the key players in Libya’s long-running civil war in a bid to curb foreign military meddling, solidify a cease-fire and help relaunch a political process to determine the North African nation’s future.

 Chancellor Angela Merkel invited leaders from 12 countries as well as the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union and the Arab League to Sunday’s summit at the chancellery in Berlin. Germany’s months-long diplomatic drive seeks to bolster efforts to stop the fighting in Libya by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and his envoy for Libya, Ghassan Salame.
    
Among those expected are Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Other countries invited are the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Algeria, China and the Republic of Congo.
    
Also invited are Libya’s two main rival leaders: Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj and Gen. Khalifa Hifter. Both will attend, according to German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
    
The chances of the summit producing any real progress are unclear, however. While getting the players to the table is an achievement, recent stepped-up outside support may have emboldened both sides not to compromise.
    
Since the 2011 ouster and killing of Libya’s longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, the country has sunk further into chaos and turmoil. Libya is divided into rival administrations, each with the backing of different nations: the U.N.-recognized government based in Tripoli, headed by Sarraj, and one based in the country’s east, supported by Hifter’s forces.
    
Hifter’s forces have been on the offensive since April, laying siege to Tripoli in an effort to capture the capital and battling militias aligned with the government. Hifter’s forces are backed by Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates, while the Tripoli government has turned to Turkey for troops and weapons.
    
A truce brokered earlier this month by Russia and Turkey marked the first break in fighting in months.
    
Germany’s priority is to try to get the outside players that have interests in the conflict on the same page, stem the flow of weapons to Libya and ensure that the cease-fire sticks — creating space for U.N.-led efforts to re-establish a political process in Libya.
    
“At the Libya conference, we must see above all that the arms embargo is once again complied with — it has been agreed in principle at U.N. level but unfortunately not kept to,” Merkel said.
    
Germany is also keen to prevent Libyan fighting from further destabilizing the region, potentially setting off new waves of migrants seeking safety in Europe across the Mediterranean Sea.
    
Maas traveled to Libya to meet Hifter on Thursday. He said the general pledged to respect the cease-fire, even though he had left Moscow days before without signing a draft document setting out details of the truce. Sarraj did sign the document.
    
On Friday, however, powerful tribal groups loyal to Hifter seized several large oil export terminals along Libya’s eastern coast as well as southern oil fields in another challenge to the Tripoli government, which collects revenue from oil production. The National Oil Corporation said the move threatens to throttle much of the country’s oil production.
    
U.N. envoy Salame earlier this month demanded an end to all foreign interference in Libya, saying that a military solution is impossible and governments and mercenaries helping rival forces are hindering a political solution.
    
Despite the arms embargo against Libya, he said, weapons are being sold and given to Libyans, and “probably thousands” of mercenaries have been sent into the country, creating a “bleak” situation for millions of civilians.
    
German officials have been careful to keep expectations of Sunday’s summit in check.
    
“The conference is important, but it is a beginning, the start of a process,” spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said.

 

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Police fired tear gas on Sunday to disperse thousands of anti-government protesters who gathered in a central Hong Kong park, but later spilled onto the streets in violation of police orders.

Out in numbers before the demonstration began, police intervened promptly when the rally turned into an impromptu march. Several units of police in riot gear were seen chasing protesters and several arrests were made.

A water cannon truck drove on central streets, flanked by an armored jeep, but was not used.

Organizers initially applied for a permit for a march, but police only agreed to a static rally in the park, saying previous marches have turned violent.

Once protesters spilled onto the streets, some of them, wearing all-black clothing, barricaded the roads with umbrellas and street furniture, dug up bricks from the pavement and smashed traffic lights.

The “Universal Siege Against Communism” demonstration was the latest in a relentless series of protests against the government since June, when Hong Kongers took to the streets to voice their anger over a now-withdrawn extradition bill.

The protests, which have since broadened to include demands for universal suffrage and an independent investigation into police handling of the demonstrations, had lost some of their intensity in recent weeks.

A man walks past as police use tear gas on protesters calling for electoral reforms and a boycott of the Chinese Communist Party in Hong Kong, Jan. 19, 2020.

In an apparent new tactic, police have been showing up ahead of time in riot gear, with officers conducting “stop and search” operations near expected demonstrations.

“Everyone understands that there’s a risk of stop-and-search or mass arrests. I appreciate Hong Kong people still come out courageously, despite the risk,” said organizer Ventus Lau.

On Jan 1, a march of tens of thousands of people ended with police firing tear gas to disperse crowds.

The gathering in the park was initially relaxed, with many families with children listening to speeches by activists.

In one corner, a group of volunteers set up a stand where people could leave messages on red cards for the lunar new year to be sent to those who have been arrested. One read: “Hong Kongers won’t give up. The future belongs to the youth”.

Authorities in Hong Kong have arrested more than 7,000 people, many on charges of rioting that can carry jail terms of up to 10 years. It is unclear how many are still in custody.

Anger has grown over the months due to perceptions that Beijing was tightening its grip over the city, which was handed over to China by Britain in 1997 in a deal that ensured it enjoyed liberties unavailable in the mainland.

Beijing denies meddling and blames the West for fomenting unrest.

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Cameroon teachers are protesting what they say is growing violence against them by both students and their parents, and the teachers are urging the government to protect them and reinstate corporal punishment. The teachers say the absence of corporal punishment is encouraging abuse of teachers. This week, several attacks on teaching staffs were reported, including one in which a teenage student fatally stabbed his teacher, in the capital.

Students shout Saturday at a government-run school in Obala, a town on the outskirts of Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde, protesting the principal’s decision to destroy all mobile phones and knives seized from children Friday at the school.  One of their senior discipline masters, Narcisse Ateba, says the students use mobile phones to access social media platforms that promote violence, and they also use sharp objects such as knives to attack their peers and teachers.

<!–[if IE 9]><![endif]–>Messages carried by Cameroon teachers while protesting, Bamenda, Cameroon, May 24, 2019.
Cameroon Teachers Protest Escalating Violence in Separatist Areas

As students in Cameroon began their annual exams Monday, hundreds of their teachers in English-speaking regions were on the streets protesting. The teachers are demanding better security after three teachers and a student were abducted, adding to scores captured, killed, or whose property was torched during a two-year separatist conflict.Teachers dressed in dark clothes and holding signs demanding better security walk down a street in Bamenda, the capital of Cameroon’s northwest region.

He says that some parents and students will want to harass or beat him up, but he has nonetheless decided to publicly destroy the 15 mobile phones found and seized by teachers from students Friday because it is illegal to use them in classrooms. He says he will not allow students to come to school with razor blades, box-cutters and knives.

The destruction of the mobile phones and the peaceful marches to administrative offices and palaces are part of protests by teachers at Obala against what they say are increasing acts of violence against them.

This week, a 16-year-old student at the public school Nkolbisson in a neighborhood in Yaounde is accused of using a knife to stab his mathematics teacher who died of excessive bleeding as he was being rushed to a hospital. The school said the student insisted on using his mobile phone in class against the teacher’s instruction. The student was arrested and detained by police, and will be answering to charges, including premeditated killing.

Another teacher this week was battered by students in Douala for questioning why they were late to school, and yet another teacher in Douala was beaten by a parent and fell into a coma. The parent was said to be angry with the teacher’s decision to use corporal punishment on his son as punishment for making noise in class. In another incident, a student used a machete to chop off another student’s finger in Obala after a fight during a soccer match.

Elvis Yisinyuy, an official with the Cameroon Teachers Trade Union in Yaounde, says attacks by students on teachers intensified in 2015 when Cameroon prohibited teachers from beating or severely punishing students.

“When a minister says that teachers are not supposed to administer corporal punishment to students, the student will now see that he [the minister] has the right to bring disorder because there is nothing the teacher can do in class,” said Yisinyuy. “The minister should revisit the text and permit teachers to administer corporal punishment with caution.”

<!–[if IE 9]><![endif]–>FILE - Teneng Sidonie Weteck sings and dances in class at a school for displaced Nigerian children at the Minawao camp, northern Cameroon, February 18, 2015.
Cameroon Teachers Celebrate Teachers Day Amid Growing Challenges

October 5 is World Teachers Day, set aside to mobilize support and to ensure that the needs of future generations will be met by teachers. Some teachers, who work with Central African refugees in camps in eastern Cameroon or on the border with Central African Republic (C.A.R.), face especially difficult challenges.

Emmanuel Mbiydzenyuy asks students to be quiet and follow English language classes here at the government school in Dhahong in eastern Cameroon. Eighty of the 110 students in one class are…

Yusinyuy said the high wave of drug consumption by students and the inability of teachers to use corporal punishment because they have been prohibited from doing so is also responsible for the wave of attacks.

Nalova Lyonga, Cameroon minister of secondary education, says corporal punishment can not be tolerated because it is an abuse on the rights of students who are mostly children.

“What I have told the teachers is that they themselves have to make a distinction between a disciplinary case and a case which becomes a criminal case, and they should be able to report to the special police at the disposal of the schools,” said Lyonga.

Lyonga said Cameroon students are exposed to other cultures of the world because of the increasing use of mobile phones, and they gain access to social media platforms that promote violence, while neglecting the peace and unity that Cameroon traditionally preaches.

Carol Kayum, president of Reference Citizens, a non-governmental organization that promotes citizenship education, has been visiting schools in Yaounde to educate both teachers and students against violence. She says Cameroon should uphold it’s culture of non-violence to prevent the growing number of assaults on other students and teachers.

“Our cultures are rich. Parents should transmit them to children, and also there should be communication between schools and parents so that we know what our children are doing in school, and we also tell the school authorities what the children do at home,” said Kayum. “School authorities and parents should control the use of drugs.

Kayum said many people now join the teaching profession because they lack jobs, and not for the love of teaching, and as such, they are not loved by students.

The students also have complained they are harassed by some teachers whom they accuse of behaving poorly or not teaching well.

The Cameroon Ministry of Secondary Education has recorded 40 violent attacks by students on their peers, 22 attacks on teachers and 15 attacks by parents on teachers within the past  month. 

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The World Food Program is appealing for $62 million to provide life-saving food assistance over the next six months to 700,000 people suffering from severe hunger in the Caribbean island of Haiti.

Millions of Haitians still lack proper shelter, food and other basic necessities 10 years after a devastating earthquake killed 300,000 people and displaced one-and-one-half-million.

The World Food Program says one in three Haitians need urgent food assistance in both rural and urban areas.  It says one million of them are suffering from severe hunger, causing rates of acute malnutrition to rise.  

Homes are seen in the Taba Isa earthquake survivor camp in Port au Prince, Haiti. (Renan Toussaint/VOA Creole)

WFP spokeswoman Elizabeth Byrs says her agency is scaling up its operation to provide emergency food aid to hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable people.  

“Ten years after the earthquake, WFP is still concerned about a decline in food security, with 3.7 million people severely food insecure and affected also by rising prices, drop in agricultural production, and social unrest, of course, which has heavily disrupted economic activity in Haiti,” Byrs said.

Anti-government riots last year disrupted the ability of humanitarian agencies to bring food and other aid to people in the impoverished country.   Byrs says the WFP responded to this emergency by providing food to more than 230,000 of the most vulnerable.  She says it also furnished 300,000 school children with daily food, including hot meals.

Byrs says donors have contributed $5 million since WFP launched its emergency appeal in December.  That means the agency still needs $57 million to continue its life-saving operation for the next six months.  

She notes 80 percent of the 700,000 beneficiaries are women and children, many of whom can barely manage to find enough food for one meal a day.
 

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