Latvija in brief - 2006-05-24

  • 2006-05-24
The State Haematology Center opened a new department for bone-marrow transplants at the Riga Eastern Hospital on May 22, which will open up a number of possibilities for leukemia patients. "Bone marrow transplantation is one of the main ways to save leukemia patients, and now we will be able to do that," said Sandra Lejniece, who heads the center. Approximately 15 people a year require bone-marrow operations, she added, but in previous years the state could only afford to provide resources for two or three people a year. "It is very important that more and more medical services, which until now have only been available abroad, are finally provided in Latvia," Health Minister Gundars Berzins said at the department's opening ceremony.

Security police asked the Prosecutor's Office to launch criminal proceedings against a teenage boy for posting Russophobic comments on the Internet. The 15-year-old allegedly posted hateful comments against Russians on the Delfi portal. According to security police, the youth called Russian-speakers "illegitimate cripples who should either be shot dead or deported from Latvia." Earlier this spring, Juris Sokolovskis, who leads the parliamentary faction of the left-wing alliance For Human Rights in United Latvia, asked authorities to assess the comments. A criminal procedure was then opened over incitement of ethnic and racial hatred. Under the Latvian Penal Code, the offense carries a sentence of up to three years in jail.

Ambassador to the United States Maris Riekstins reminded Americans about the role of a Latvian-born immigrant in developing modern blue jeans. In commemoration of the 135th anniversary since the invention of modern jeans, the diplomat sent a letter of congratulations to a historians' commission in Nevada. In the letter, Riekstins says the method of producing jeans, by which copper rivets are used to fasten the seams of the jeans, was invented by Jekabs Davis, a tailor of Latvian descent, in 1871. Davis developed the idea after receiving an order from a logger who needed sturdy trousers. Davis then patented the copper rivets under the San Francisco firm Levi Straus & Co. in 1873. By that time, Davis was working as production manager for the company.

The annual Cicero and Murphy Awards, a humorous tradition celebrating "successful fiascos in Latvian politics, journalism, public relations and advertising," were distributed on May 23. This year, the public nominated former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder for the Murphy Award in politics since he headed the North European gas pipeline's council after resigning as chancellor. The daily tabloid 5 Min was nominated for the Cicero Award in journalism for creating a common Latvian and Russian information vehicle, along with Vihelms Mihailkovskis for his photo exhibition "Latvia Here and Now." As for advertising, the Pickwick tea campaign found on public transport was nominated. The Murphy Award in public relations will go to the Flame nightclub for promoting Riga as a sex-tourism destination.