Tigers Killed in China to Impress Wealthy Businessmen (Video)

Wealthy businessmen and government officials have reportedly killed tigers for entertainment in Zhanjiang, China.

Local police found carcasses of tigers and tiger products during a raid this month, according to the government-controlled Nanfang Daily, notes AFP.

Local police arrested 15 suspects who allegedly slaughtered at least 10 tigers, but one suspect died when he jumped off a building while trying to escape from authorities, reports ECNS.cn.

The local government officials and businessmen reportedly enjoy watching what they call a “visual feast” of tigers being slaughtered, which is illegal in China.

A video (below) of a tiger-killing has surfaced and purports to show an electrified iron rod stuck in a caged tiger’s mouth. Then an unidentified man, safely outside the cage, shocks the animal to death.

An experienced butcher is then hired to cut up the carcass. In China, tiger bones sell (illegally) for an average of $2,300.

The businessmen then give the bones and tiger meat to local government officials as gifts, which are likely bribes.

Xie Yan, an expert from the Institute of Zoology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the Global Times that tiger bones are believed to improve male health and cure impotence, per ancient traditional Chinese medicine.

Sources: AFP, ECNS.cn, Global Times






Former Church of England Bishop who describes Prince Charles as a ‘loyal friend’ charged with sex offences dating back to 1977

Rev Peter Ball meeting Prince Charles in 1992. The bishop, now 82, has  described him as 'a loyal friend' in the past

 . Peter Ball is formerly the Bishop of Gloucester and Bishop of Lewes
. Alleged he sexually abused a number of young males between 1977-1992
. Charges include an alleged indecent assault on a boy, aged 12 or 13
. Ball, 82, is due to appear at Brighton Magistrates Court next month

by Jill Reilly

A retired Church of England Bishop is due in court over sex offences and misconduct charges, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

Peter Ball, formerly the Bishop of Gloucester and Bishop of Lewes, will be prosecuted for historic offences dating back to 1977.

They include an alleged indecent assault on a boy, aged 12 or 13, indecent assault on a man aged 19 or 20, and misconduct in a public office.

Ball, 82, is due to appear at Brighton Magistrates Court next month.

Ball, former bishop of Lewes and later Gloucester, has connections with Prince Charles whom he has described in the past as a ‘loyal friend’.

He is thought to be the highest member of the clergy to be arrested in connection with a sex abuse investigation.

Jaswant Narwal, chief crown prosecutor for the CPS in the south east, said: ‘After a thorough and careful review, I have decided that Peter Ball should be prosecuted for misconduct in public office and two indecent assaults.

‘It is alleged that he sexually abused a number of young males between 1977 and 1992.

 ‘The misconduct alleged is that he misused his position and authority to manipulate and prevail upon others for his own sexual gratification.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2590906/Former-Church-England-Bishop-charged-sex-offences-dating-1977.html#ixzz2xCCWunC5
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Europe’s economic crisis is getting worse not better, says Caritas report

Golden Dawn protests in front of Greek Parliament

 Survey shows increase in the number of new poor in seven countries and challenges the official European Union discourse

Far from being over Europe’s economic crisis is getting worse with disturbing levels of poverty and deprivation being noted among children and youth, says a report compiled by the Catholic charity Caritas.

The survey, conducted over the course of the past year, not only challenges the official discourse – that Europe is on the mend – but documents a dramatic poor in the seven EU countries worst hit by the policies of austerity.

“We in Brussels keep hearing that the economic crisis is over,” Thorfinnur Omarsson, a spokesman for Caritas Europa said in Athens where the network of Catholic relief organisations released the report. “These findings not only doubt that the crisis is over but show it is the poor who are paying for a crisis they did not cause.”

The 114-page inquiry into the human cost of the crisis focuses on Greece, Cyprus, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Romania and Spain. In all of these countries, it claims, there is deepening inequality with growing numbers suffering from poverty and social exclusion. In Ireland – depicted as the poster child for austerity – income inequality soared between 2009 and 2010 with the top 20% earning five times more than the bottom 20%

In Cyprus – the last country to be rescued by the EU and IMF when its banking system came close to collapse last March – poverty levels among older people have more than doubled in the past year. At 29.3% the Mediterranean island now has the worst rate of poverty among citizens aged over 65 in the 28-nation bloc.

“More and more Cypriots are coming to get food and support,” says Michael Hadjiroussos, a Caritas volunteer. “I’ve seen people arguing over spending €2 on a coffee. Not that long ago we were prosperous. A situation has emerged that not even those who predicted the crisis would have foreseen.”…







Obama defends US invasion of Iraq

US President Barack Obama delivers a speech in Brussels, Belgium on March 26, 2014.

In an effort to muster Washington’s European allies in an “isolation” and sanctions campaign against Russia, US President Barack Obama has defended the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

During a speech in Brussels, Belgium, on Wednesday, Obama said Washington at least tried to seek approval from the United Nations before it invaded Iraq. The US invasion of Iraq was not sanctioned by the UN and several experts say it violated any standard reading of international law.

“America sought to work within the international system,” Obama said, referring to a presentation to the UN in 2003 by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell in which he gave a detailed description of Iraqi weapons programs that turned out not to exist.

Under the pretext that former Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, possessed weapons of mass destruction, the US and its allies invaded Iraq in March 2003. In October 2004, however, a CIA report revealed that Saddam Hussein did not possess any weapons of mass destruction at the time of the invasion.

Obama defended the invasion of Iraq as he described a March 16 referendum in the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in which people overwhelmingly voted to break away from Ukraine and rejoin Russia as illegal and “outside the boundaries of international law.”

“We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain,” added Obama. However, according to Ryan Grim writing for the Huffington Post, Washington forced privatization upon Iraq’s state-owned oil industry after the invasion and required the country to accept foreign ownership of the industry.

Grim also writes that the word “ours” used by Obama requires some clarification because American taxpayers were worse off by Washington’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq while contractors like Halliburton, a company where former Vice President Dick Cheney served as CEO, reaped tremendous gains.






Double Dip: Doctors Paid to Advise, Promote Drug Companies That Fund Their Research

by Charles Ornstein and Ryann Grochowski Jones

Research has been seen as less objectionable than other forms of interactions with drug companies, but 10 percent of researchers have multiple ties among the nine companies ProPublica analyzed. That raises questions about doctors’ impartiality.

Pharmaceutical companies pay for the clinical trials that Dr. Yoav Golan conducts on antibiotics at Tufts Medical Center.

They also pay him tens of thousands of dollars a year to give speeches and advice on behalf of their drugs.

If Golan worked at some teaching hospitals, he would be barred or severely restricted from accepting both research funding and personal payments for promotional speaking or consulting from drug makers. These hospitals fear the money could influence clinical findings, or at least create the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Yet Tufts and many other academic medical centers allow doctors to accept overlapping payments — and some doctors still take them.

A ProPublica analysis shows that more than 1,300 practitioners nationwide received both research money and speaking or consulting fees from the same drug maker in 2012. All told, they received more than $90 million in research grants — plus nearly $13 million for speaking engagements and another $4 million for consulting.

Critics say doctors who conduct a clinical trial while accepting personal payments from the company sponsoring the study can feel beholden to the drug maker.

“The pharmaceutical company has a paramount stake in a favorable outcome. The [research] grant recipient has a stake in a favorable outcome and the honorarium recipient or consultant has yet another stake in the outcome,” said David Rothman, director of the Center for Medicine as a Profession at Columbia University. “It’s not only my lab. It’s my mortgage.”

ProPublica used its Dollars for Docs database, which tracks payments to practitioners by 15 drug companies, to conduct the review. Not every company discloses all types of payments — research, speaking and consulting — or distinguishes between the types. The analysis covered the nine companies that disclosed payments in this form.

Golan, an infectious disease specialist, was the only doctor who received speaking, consulting, and research payments from three companies in 2012, the most recent year for which data has been compiled. Pfizer, Merck, and Forest Labs gave Tufts $51,000 for his research that year, in addition to paying him $125,000 to speak about their drugs and $13,000 for consulting. His speaking fees ranked second nationally among all the researchers examined, and his total personal payments ranked fourth.

Golan referred questions to the public relations department at Tufts Medical Center, which said in a statement that Golan complies with its research conflict-of-interest policy and that officials keep a close watch over his work.

“Dr. Golan’s work has contributed to the development of two important antibiotics, including the first antibiotic developed in the past 25 years to treat the growing threat of deadly C. difficile,” the statement said.

Pharmaceutical companies’ payments for promotional speaking and consulting appear to have decreased in recent years, as blockbuster drugs have lost patent protection and the push for transparency has advanced. Beginning this fall, all drug companies will have to publicly disclose payments they made to doctors, under the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

But industry-backed clinical studies, which can lead to advances in care, have largely been seen as a separate matter.

ProPublica’s is the first large-scale analysis of how frequently researchers receive additional payments from companies that fund their clinical trials. About 10 percent of researchers for the nine companies examined for this story also received money for speaking or consulting, or both.

One doctor’s conflicts: When research meets promotion

Dr. Yoav Golan, an infectious disease specialist at Tufts Medical Center, received speaking, consulting and research payments from three companies in 2012, the only physician in ProPublica’s Dollars for Docs database that met those criteria. Some ethicists question doctors’ abilities to stay impartial when receiving both research and personal payments from pharmaceutical companies.

Forest Labs Merck Pfizer Total
Research $30,360 $12,050 $9,062 $51,472
Consulting $6,050 $5,000 $2,250 $13,300
Speaking $53,300 $43,740 $27,500 + $124,540

Source: Company disclosures, ProPublica research. NOTE: Research payments were made to Tufts Medical Center, with Golan listed as the principal investigator.

Pfizer had the lowest rate of dual relationships among its researchers, about 7 percent; Novartis and ViiV Healthcare had the highest, at more than 15 percent.

ViiV spokesman Marc Meachem said his company focuses exclusively on HIV medications, so “the number of people with the expertise to do both the research and be expert speakers is a lot smaller.”…






How Russia could strangle the US space program

The New Horizons spacecraft atop an Atlas V rocket lifts off Jan. 19, 2006 at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. (Bruce Weaver/AFP/Getty Images)

If you use a cellphone, have a GPS system in your car, or get cash from ATMs, you should be worried.

by Jean MacKenzie

BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. — Think Russia has no way to put pressure on the United States? Think again.

The US relies heavily on Russia to furnish the engines that power rockets that deliver both military and civil payloads into space.

This includes GPS systems in cars and cellphones, and even systems that allow ATMs to function. Weather satellites are launched into space via Russian-powered rockets, and military systems such as early missile detection also depend on our friends in Moscow.

In addition, since NASA scrapped the space shuttle program in 2011, the US has to rely on Russian Soyuz capsules to get its astronauts to the space station and to bring them back home.

As the crisis over Crimea deepens and tit-for-tat sanctions go into effect, conventional wisdom has held that the US is holding all the cards. Given the relatively small amount of trade the US conducts with Russia each year, and its pre-eminent position as the world’s largest economy, Washington has projected confidence as it moves to isolate Moscow diplomatically and economically.

But Russia is unlikely to take it lying down. As Stephen Walt, professor of international affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, warned in a talk at Harvard recently, “They have ways of responding [to sanctions] that … we’re not going to like.”

One of the things Americans may dislike very much indeed is a possible ban on the sale of RD-180 engines to the US under a contract with Russian manufacturer NPO Energomash.

The RD-180 powers the Atlas V rocket, the main launch vehicle used to get US military and civil payloads into space.

“The Russian rocket engines are the best in the world,” said Royce Dalby, a space systems expert and managing director of Avascent, an aerospace and defense consulting firm in Washington, DC. “RD-180 provides the most efficient and least expensive means of getting our national security payloads into space.”

The dollar amounts are not great, relatively speaking: While the actual price paid for the engines is proprietary, experts estimate the cost from $11 million to $15 million per engine.

In an average year the US launches eight or nine satellites with the Atlas V….







Dutch Nuclear-Arms Base Infiltrated on Eve of Summit

A Dutch air force crewman tows a U.S. F-16 fighter aircraft into a hangar at Volkel air base. Four activists last week broke into the installation, which is believed to hold B-61 nuclear gravity bombs from the United States.(U.S. Air Force photo)


Protesters infiltrated a nuclear-arms base in the Netherlands last week, days before leaders gathered to discuss atomic security less than 100 miles away.

Four members of the group “Disarm” entered the country’s Volkel air base and photographed the exterior of a building possibly used to hold B-61 nuclear gravity bombs from the United States, the organization indicated in Dutch-language comments quoted by other activists. The installation is one of six bases in five European nations believed to hold such weapons, which Washington fields and maintains for the defense of its regional NATO allies.

The group stated that its members were arrested at 8:30 a.m. last Tuesday and interrogated.

Jeffrey Lewis, a nonproliferation expert at the Monterey Institute for International Studies, said the break-in and several prior incidents “would seem to demonstrate” vulnerabilities noted in a 2008 U.S. Air Force assessment of security at nuclear-arms facilities across Europe.

“This is very similar to a series of intrusions several years ago at Kleine Brogel Air Base by a Belgian peace group,” Lewis wrote on Tuesday on the Arms Control Wonk blog.

He added, though, that it is unclear whether a B-61 storage vault is inside the structure photographed during last week’s trespassing incident.

Publicly available maps of the facility “mark certain bunkers as having a [B-61] vault, although I don’t know why they think they know that,” the analyst wrote.

One Dutch-based activist said last week’s infiltration was timed to coincide with preparations for the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, Netherlands.

“The activists want to raise awareness for the fact that the [summit] will talk about security of nuclear materials but not those nuclear materials that are used for military purposes,” Wilbert van der Zeijden wrote in a blog post for the antinuclear group PAX.

NATO reportedly is poised to spend more than $154 million on security improvements at B-61 storage sites in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Turkey. However, a number of critics have pressed for full withdrawal of the arms.

This article was published in Global Security Newswire, which is produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.





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