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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Naked Thoughts

Naked Rambler Completes his Trek
Gough was arrested several times on his journeyNaked rambler Stephen Gough, 44, has completed his second trek from Lands End to John O'Groats.

The former Royal Marine started the 874-mile journey across Great Britian in June to question society's attitude towards the human body and has been arrested and jailed on several occasions.

Mr Gough, from Eastleigh in Hampshire, and his partner Melanie Roberts, 34, reached the north coast of Caithness on Monday.

He celebrated his success by putting his clothes on.

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From Milton Keynes in England to Najaf in Iraq
BBC News Magazine by Jonathan Duffy

Milton Keynes became the archetypal 1970s new townThe planning agency which designed Milton Keynes has been handed the job of reshaping a city which is no stranger to adversity: Najaf, in Iraq.

Najaf, the scene of two suicide bombs a couple of years ago which killed dozens of people and injured many more. Najaf, the arena for a full-scale American military assault to oust a radical Muslim cleric, back in 2004.

For 12 months, the city in southern Iraq has remained relatively calm compared to the violent unrest in some other parts of the country.

Now, in what is thought to be the first commission of its kind in post-war Iraq, the Baghdad authorities have appointed a British firm of town planners to remodel the entire centre of Najaf.

Najaf however, is no ordinary Iraqi city. It is home to the tomb of Imam Ali, the cousin of the Prophet Muhammad, whose death launched the Shia Islamic sect. It is said to date back to the 8th Century and draws millions of pilgrims every year.

And while most of the residents of the holy city have probably never heard of Milton Keynes, the company assigned the job of reshaping Najaf was responsible for designing Britain's most infamous new town.

Much has changed since 1970, when Richard Llewelyn Davies laid down plans for a new settlement to cater for the growing number of families fleeing London in search of a better life.

By the 1980s Milton Keynes had become a byword for both the pros and cons of post-war British urban planning. It was to some a spacious, modern, landscaped town, and to others a dystopic, soulless home to shopping centres and skateboard parks.

Critics will doubtless cock an eyebrow at an Anglo-Saxon firm re-planning a historic Arabic city. After all, the concreting-over of many time-honoured British towns in the 1960s and 70s hardly inspires confidence at home, let alone abroad.

<< Read about the War In Iraq

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Legal Action for HIV Treatment
BBC News Health by Hugh Levinson

A man taking legal action over access to HIV treatment has told the BBC he wants to prevent others enduring "the hell" he has gone through.

The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, is seeking a judicial review of British government policy on a therapy known as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).

If given soon after exposure to HIV - preferably within 24 hours - it is thought to be highly effective at preventing the person exposed from contracting the virus.

PEP is a cocktail of drugs, administered over several weeks, costing between £600 and £1,000. It can produce side effects like headaches and nausea.

Robert said he wants Department of Health guidelines changed to make PEP more widely available.

He said there was very little knowledge of the treatment and that the British government had failed in its duty to inform the public.

Robert believes that means many people have contracted HIV unnecessarily.

The Department of Health is worried that PEP will be seen as a substitute for safer sex and condom use, which still continues to be the main HIV prevention message.

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British Historian Jailed in Austria

David Irving said his views had changed since his 1989 remarksAs Europe proudly flexes its freedom of speech credentials in the ongoing row over the Danish cartoons that some suggest to be nothing more than a cover for anti-Muslim bigotry, even some of David Irving's enemies were uncomfortable that he faced incarceration for his own unpalatable historical views.

The British historian has now been sentenced to three years after being found guilty of Holocaust denial at a trial in Vienna.
Irving is to appeal against the prison term imposed by an Austrian court for denying the Holocaust of European Jewry.

Austria is one of 11 countries with laws against denying the Holocaust.

At the heart of the matter is whether the distortion of such a fundamental period of history is a greater problem than the suppression of the right to express contrary interpretations - however unpleasant, and indeed inaccurate, they may be.

Irving, who appeared stunned by the three-year sentence, told reporters: "I'm very shocked."

During his one-day trial in Vienna, the 67-year-old historian admitted that he had denied that Nazi Germany had killed millions of Jews in a speech and an interview he gave in Austria in 1989 in which he disputed the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz.

Author and academic Deborah Lipstadt, who Irving unsuccessfully sued for libel in the UK in 2000 over claims that he was a Holocaust denier, said she was dismayed.

"I am not happy when censorship wins, and I don't believe in winning battles via censorship... The way of fighting Holocaust deniers is with history and with truth," she told the BBC News website.

Pictures courtesy of BBC News.

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