Archive for August 10th, 2009
The typical employed person spends 7.6 hours at work each day. When you finally make your exit from the workforce those extra hours can be filled however you wish. Most retirees spend their newfound freedom lingering slightly longer than the total population over food, sleep, and household chores. Americans age 65 to 74 only spend about 2 extra hours per day on leisure activates than the population as a whole, according to the Department of Labor's American Time Use Survey. Seniors spend most of their additional 2 hours of leisure time watching TV, socializing, and reading. Here's what the typical retiree's day looks like compared to the rest of us.
Sleep. You can finally toss out your alarm clock in retirement, but only a few retirees seem to do that. The typical person age 65 to 74 spends 9.51 hours a day on personal care activities, including sleep. That's just slightly longer than the 9.39 hours everyone age 15 and older spends in bed or taking care of themselves.
Eat. It sounds wonderful to have time to linger over meals instead of grabbing them on the go or at your desk. Retirees spend about 1.46 hours a day eating and drinking compared to 1.23 hours for everyone else.
Household activities. Retirees have no excuses for continuing to put off household chores. Americans age 65 to 74 spend 2.26 hours a day on housework, food preparation and cleanup, lawn and garden care, and household management, slightly more than the 1.73 hours the rest of us spend working around the house.
Purchase goods and services. Seniors seem to have more time to shop around and haggle for the best prices. Retirees spend almost a full hour selecting their purchases, compared to the three quarters of an hour the rest of us invest in our consumer goods and professional and personal care services.
Leisure activities. Finally there are enough hours in the day to learn to paint, hit the golf course every day, and read great books. Retirees spend about 7 hours a day persuing leisure activities and sports, versus the 5 hours the rest of us do. Yet, most of that extra time is spent simply sitting in front of the TV. Americans age 65 to 74 watch practically 4 hours of TV each day, compared to the 2 and a half hours the population as a whole watches. Seniors also spend three quarters of an hour each day reading, compared to the third of an hour the population spends with a book. Interestingly, retirees spend about the same amount of time as everyone else using a computer for leisure, exercising or playing sports, and only slightly more time socializing.
Work or volunteer. Many seniors still have paying jobs, typically spending over an hour a day in the workplace. Most Americans age 65 to 74 also spend a half hour on religious, spiritual, or civic activities such as volunteering.
How Seniors Age 65 to 74 Spend Their Day in Hours
(Results for the total population age 15 and older are in parenthesis.)
–Personal care activities (including sleep) 9.51 (9.39)
–Eating and drinking 1.46 (1.23)
–Household activities 2.27 (1.73)
–Purchasing goods and services 0.92 (0.77)
–Caring for household members 0.09 (0.53)
–Caring for nonhousehold members 0.31 (0.23)
–Work 1.23 (3.73)
–Education 0.02 (0.47)
–Civic and Religious activities 0.54 (0.33)
–Leisure and sports 7.12 (5.18)
Watching TV 3.96 (2.55)
Sports and exercise 0.29 (0.27)
Socializing 0.62 (0.54)
Reading 0.77 (0.32)
Relaxing/thinking 0.41 (0.27)
Leisure computer use 0.35 (0.31)
–Telephone calls, mail, and e-mail 0.25 (0.21)
–Other activities 0.29 (0.20)
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2008.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) –
U.S. regulators have launched an inquiry into whether certain broadcasters are refusing to air the music of artists who demand to be paid when their songs are played on the radio.
The Federal Communications Commission reviewed a June petition by a music coalition that accuses radio stations of skipping songs of artists who support legislation aimed at paying royalties to artists.
According to an official notice dated on Friday, the agency is seeking public comment on the petition until September 23. The FCC customarily seeks comment on proposals for new or amended rules, but petitions received on a wide variety of subjects are also published for public comment.
The coalition, called musicFIRST, also said in the petition that some broadcasters are refusing to run advertisements that support the legislation.
Jennifer Bendall, musicFIRST executive director, said broadcasters are using public airwaves to “stifle debate, threaten artists and musicians and undermine the public interest.”
At a Senate hearing last week, the music coalition said U.S. broadcasters are getting a free ride when playing music and that the United States is one of a handful of countries that does not pay artists when their songs are played on the radio.
The FCC should look into whether broadcasters are “engaging in a pattern of threats and intimidation against artists to chill their speech and participation in the political process,” the group said in its petition.
MusicFIRST, which includes the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), said artists whose songs are played on the Internet and satellite radios are compensated.
RIAA members include Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group Corp and Sony Corp's Sony Music Entertainment.
The National Association of Broadcasters trade group has said the radio is a big promotional and marketing tool for artists. NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton called the coalition's petition a “distortion.”
“Contrary to suggestions in the petition, broadcasters are under no obligation to carry everything that is offered or suggested to them,” Wharton said in a statement.
Wharton said that, according to a 1973 Supreme Court ruling, broadcasters are not required to accept paid “editorial” ads.
In its notice, the FCC said it is looking into what extent certain broadcasters are “targeting and threatening” artists who have spoken out in favor of the legislation, which is called the Performance Rights Act (PRA).
The bill is backed by the House Judiciary Committee. During a August 4 hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy urged both sides to work out their differences because “legislation will move” in the Senate.
The agency said it is also reviewing to what extent broadcasters are engaging in a media campaign, including whether they are disseminating “falsities” about the PRA.
“We recognize that substantial First Amendment interests are involved in the examination of speech of any kind and it is not clear whether remedies are necessary or available to address the actions alleged by MusicFIRST,” the FCC added.
(Reporting by John Poirier; editing Bernard Orr and Andre Grenon)
Skywatchers set for meteor shower
Skygazers are getting ready to watch the annual Perseid meteor shower, which peaks on Wednesday.The Perseid shower occurs when the Earth passes through a stream of dusty debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle. As this cometary “grit” strikes our atmosphere, it burns up, often creating streaks of light across the sky. This impressive spectacle appears to originate from a point called a “radiant” in the constellation of Perseus – hence the name Perseid. “Earth passes through the densest part of the debris stream sometime on 12 August. Then, you could see dozens of meteors per hour,” said Bill Cooke of Nasa’s meteoroid environment office. No special equipment is required to watch the sky show. Astronomers say binoculars might help, but will also restrict the view to a small part of the sky. The Perseids can appear in any part of the sky, but their tails all point back to the radiant in the constellation Perseus. In the UK, the best times to see the Perseids are likely to be on the morning of 12 August before dawn and from late evening on the 12th through to the early hours of the 13 August. This year, light from the last quarter Moon will interfere significantly with the view. The rock and dust fragments which cause the shower were left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle when it last came near the Sun. The comet orbits the Sun once every 130 years and last swept through the inner Solar System in 1992.
LatAm alarm over US-Colombia plan
South American leaders at a regional summit have expressed fresh concerns over Colombian plans to grant American troops access to its military bases.But at the gathering in Ecuador, they rejected a proposal to formally condemn the proposals, which would allow US access up to seven Colombian bases. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez warned that “the winds of war were beginning to blow” across the region. Colombia says it needs US support to tackle drug lords and left-wing rebels. The US wants to relocate its base for anti-drug operations in Latin America to Colombia, after Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa refused to extend an agreement allowing US access to a military base in Ecuador. ‘Unease’The Brazilian president, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva – whose government had previously described the plans as a matter for Colombia – called for a meeting between US President Barack Obama and the region’s leaders to discuss their concerns directly. “As president of Brazil, this climate of unease disturbs me,” said Mr Silva, reports AP news agency. “I think we should directly discuss our discontent with the American government.” But during Monday’s Union of South American Nations (Unasur) summit in the Ecuadorean capital, Quito, Mr Chavez led criticism of the Colombia-US accord.
The Venezuelan leader warned that the July agreement between Bogota and Washington “could generate a war in South America”. BBC South America correspondent Candace Piette says that in a news conference at the end of their meeting, held in an ancient church in Quito, the 12 presidents looked uncomfortable. Although a number of countries in the region had previously expressed alarm over the plan, the summit failed to back Venezuelan and Bolivian calls for a joint statement condemning the move. Instead, Unasur members agreed to hold talks – in Argentina later this month – to discuss the controversial Colombian-US proposal. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, a staunch American ally, toured the region last week in an effort to persuade leaders that an expanded US presence would not threaten any other nation in South America. But correspondents say South American leaders would like firm assurances from Washington that the US forces would not operate outside Colombian territory. ‘Provocation’Monday’s Unasur summit was held amid growing tensions between Colombia and Venezuela. The Colombian president did not attend the meeting in Quito. Ecuador severed relations with Colombia after Bogota ordered a raid over the border in March 2008 on a left-wing Farc guerrilla camp. On Sunday Mr Chavez stepped up accusations against Mr Uribe, saying Colombian soldiers had recently been spotted crossing the Orinoco river, which forms part of the border, and entering Venezuelan territory. He said the alleged incursion was a “provocation” and put Venezuelan troops on a war footing along the border with Colombia. The foreign ministry in Bogota said the Venezuelan claims were “not true”, because it had checked with Colombian military commanders near the border and they had not reported any such incursion. “The Yankees have started to command Colombian military forces,” Mr Chavez also said on Sunday. Last week, Mr Obama said the Colombia-US plan would merely update an existing accord, Plan Colombia, whereby US military personnel already help the Colombians fight drug trafficking and left-wing rebels.
Retail sales ‘continue to rise’
Retail sales rose again in July, as the wet weather lifted demand for furniture and homeware goods, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has said.UK-wide like-for-like sales – which pulls out the impact of new store openings – increased 1.8% last month compared with July 2008. This was a bigger increase than the 1.4% rise reported for June. However, the BRC cautioned that rising unemployment was preventing a wider return of consumer confidence. ‘Home improvements’Sales of furniture and homewares saw their biggest year-on-year growth in three years during July, although the BRC said this was against a very low base in July 2008, and lifted by extensive discounting.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson said it appeared that the wetter weather in the second half of July turned people’s attention indoors. “There are some signs that people are using holidays to improve their homes rather than spending on going away,” he said. Food and clothing sales also continued to increase in July, the BRC added, although the rate of growth for both was slower than in June. Overall sales via the internet and mail order were up 20% from last year, lifted by clearance discounts. “There is a sense among some commentators that the beginning of the end of the recession is here, but rising unemployment and job loss fears will continue to hold back the widespread return of consumer confidence for some time yet,” added Mr Robertson.
Drink blamed for oral cancer rise
Alcohol is largely to blame for an “alarming” rise in the rate of oral cancers among men and women in their forties, say experts.Numbers of cancers of the lip, mouth, tongue and throat in this age group has risen by a quarter in the past decade. Alcohol consumption has doubled since the 1950s and is the most likely culprit alongside smoking says Cancer Research UK. Each year in the UK around 1,800 people die from the disease. There are 5,000 newly diagnosed cases per year.
Other risk factors that may be involved include a diet low in fruit and vegetables, and the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV), which also causes cervical cancer. Figures produced by Cancer Research UK show that since the mid-1990s, rates of oral cancers have gone up by 28% for men in their forties and 24% for women. The charity’s health information manager Hazel Nunn said: “These latest figures are really alarming. “Around three quarters of oral cancers are thought to be caused by smoking and drinking alcohol. “Tobacco is, by far, the main risk factor for oral cancer, so it’s important that we keep encouraging people to give up and think about new ways to stop people taking it up in the first place.
“But for people in their 40s, it seems that other factors are also contributing to this jump in oral cancer rates. “Alcohol consumption has doubled since the 1950s and the trend we are now seeing is likely to be linked to Britain’s continually rising drinking levels.” Oral cancer can be treated successfully if diagnosed early enough. The most common signs of the disease are ulcers, sores, or red or white patches in the mouth that last longer than three weeks, together with unexplained pain in the mouth or ear. Alcohol Concern chief executive Don Shenker said: “Many people are not aware of the connection between alcohol and cancer, yet as this research shows, it can be a major contributor or cause of the disease. “While alcoholic liver disease remains the number one killer linked to alcohol, more and more people are suffering from oral cancers – and record drinking levels have undeniably played a part.” He said it was time to introduce tobacco-style health warnings on alcohol. “It’s a consumer issue – people have a right to know the full range of health risks associated with drinking alcohol above recommended guidelines. “This research will hopefully help people realise the full extent of the damage that alcohol can do, then they’re better placed to make informed decisions about how much they drink.” Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians and chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said: “These latest figures demonstrate once again that people are being struck down at ever younger ages with alcohol-related illnesses that they might never have previously associated with heavy drinking. “There is an urgent need to rethink how we communicate the risks of misuse. The first step is to challenge the widespread notion that the only chronic health damage is suffered by a minority older drinkers.”
NEW YORK – The Fox network said Monday it will air a two-hour special on the life of “Octomom” Nadya Suleman, based on footage bought from an online company that paid for access to her life.
Called “Octomom: The Incredible Unseen Footage,” Fox has scheduled the show for Aug. 19.
Suleman, already a single mother of six, gave birth to octuplets Jan. 26. Curiosity about Suleman turned to some outrage after it became clear that the single, unemployed mother had been using student loans and Social Security disability payments to help pay for her children’s care.
Last month, a California judge appointed a lawyer to oversee the estate of the octuplets, saying he wanted to make sure they weren’t exploited by paid ventures like reality shows.
Footage of Suleman caring for her children was shot by RadarOnline, which struck its own deal with the mother for access. RadarOnline sold access to the footage to a production company, Pilgrim Films & Entertainment, for an undisclosed fee, and Pilgrim made the deal for the special with Fox.
Suleman was not involved in the deal, although Fox executive Mike Darnell said the network and Pilgrim had set up a “six-figure” account for the children.
“We thought it was the right thing to do,” Darnell said.
Darnell said he didn’t believe Fox was exploiting the children because the footage already existed.
Airing the RadarOnline footage lets the viewers decide for themselves what Suleman’s life is like.
“That’s what makes it viable,” said Darnell, longtime head of Fox’s reality programming.
Craig Piligian, head of Pilgrim, said the material is “really jaw-dropping in some moments, really compelling stuff.” He said it was a look inside of Suleman’s life and her thoughts, and the show will be aired without a host or narration.
California’s Labor Commission had brought four citations against RadarOnline for its videotaping of the children. The commission said the Web site had failed to get the required state permits and had taped the infants too late at night and for too long.
A European production company is scheduled to start filming Suleman and her children, all under age 8, for a reality show on Sept. 1. The children stand to earn nearly 250,000 over three years of filming.
It’s unclear what network, if any, will air that show in the United States.
KABUL – A U.S. government-funded survey of Afghan voters released Monday shows President Hamid Karzai with a substantial lead just 10 days before the country’s presidential election, but still short of the support needed to avoid a run-off.
The poll shows Karzai with 36 percent support among all the voters surveyed. His closest competitor — former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah — has 20 percent support. Twenty percent of voters were undecided or refused to answer, while 23 percent supported other candidates.
Among voters who have already decided, Karzai had the support of 45 percent of respondents; Abdullah had 25 percent support.
If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote in the Aug. 20 election, the top two finishers go to a run-off.
The survey is the first to be conducted in the country since campaigning began and provides the first look at how the candidates are faring. Most observers have felt that Karzai is likely to win a second five-year term, though Abdullah has attracted large and energetic crowds at some campaign events. A poll in May before campaigning began showed Abdullah with just 7 percent support.
Karzai’s campaign spokesman, Waheed Omar, said the poll underscored what the campaign believes is a large gap in support between Karzai and Abdullah. But he said the president’s campaign believes Karzai can win 50 percent of the vote and avoid a run-off.
A spokesman for Abdullah dismissed the results but said the campaign would be ready to take on Karzai in a run-off.
The U.S.-funded poll was carried out by Glevum Associates, a Washington-based communications firm that has done survey work for the U.S. government and military. The poll surveyed 3,556 voting-age Afghans nationwide in mid-July and has a margin of sampling error of 1.6 percent. The survey was representative of Afghanistan’s ethnic groups but polled slightly fewer females than males.
The third-place candidate in the poll was Ramazan Bashardost, a parliamentarian and former minister. Former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani was fourth with 3 percent support.
The poll found that 74 percent of Afghans said they would vote in next week’s election, though the number dropped to around 50 percent in the south, where insurgent violence is highest. A lower turnout in the south — where most are ethnic Pashtuns, like Karzai — will likely hurt the president’s results.
U.S., NATO and Afghan forces are working to keep the vote safe from attacks by Taliban militants, who have vowed to disrupt the election and have warned Afghans not to take part.
Despite the threats, the poll found that 79 percent of Afghans were certain or fairly certain the vote would be secure, though that number dropped somewhat in the south.
Some 65 percent of Afghans said the country was heading in the right direction.
At least one more poll is expected to be released before next week’s election.
NEW YORK – The dollar extended its gains Monday on the back of a fall in unemployment figures at the end of last week, as investors were cautious ahead of a two-day meeting of the Federal Reserve on interest rates.
The dollar reversed what has been its recent trading pattern on Friday, surging higher alongside equities after a government report showed U.S. unemployment falling for the first time in 15 months.
The dollar, a traditional safe-harbor currency, has often taken a hit recently as signs of recovery emerge from economic data around the world. Good news often helps equities, emerging-market currencies and other riskier investments.
The 16-nation euro fell to 1.4132 in late trading from 1.4172 late Friday, while the British pound slid to 1.6464 from 1.6668. The dollar slipped to 97.07 Japanese yen from 97.63 yen.
It is widely expected the Fed will keep key interest rates steady at near zero at its meeting that begins Tuesday. Raising the interest rate from its current range near zero would boost the dollar, as it would make returns on investments more lucrative and attract funds from investors.
Markets will be looking for direction from the Fed’s economic statement. Analysts are still concerned about how and when policymakers will withdraw the enormous support the Fed erected in the fall to prop up the financial system. The economy must first be stable enough to withstand an increase in interest rates that would boost borrowing costs, including mortgage rates.
In other late trading Monday, the dollar rose to 1.0859 Swiss francs from 1.0830 francs late Friday, and edged up to 1.0899 Canadian dollars from 1.0827.
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Rescuers failed in a frantic bid to save a mother whale and her baby after the pair ran aground off a South Florida beach Monday as hundreds looked on, many in tears. Neither animal survived despite efforts to keep them alive with moist towels and umbrellas to protect their drying skin from the scorching sun.
A team of marine mammal specialists hoped desperate efforts would save the troubled whales after they became trapped in shallow waters at Hollywood beach, just north of Miami. The mother died and the calf had to be euthanized, authorities said.
Swimmers spotted the whales around 1 p.m. in waist-deep water and sought to encourage them to head back toward deeper water. The whales briefly swam away, then returned and tried to head back toward the beach.
The mother — which experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration identified as a beaked whale — was about 10 to 12 feet long. The baby was about half her size.
Some placed towels on the whales to prevent their skin from drying, said Eileen Vulpis of Coral Springs, who watched the rescue attempt. Volunteers waded into the water and held umbrellas over the whales in hopes of further shielding them from the sun as summertime crowd of tourists and local residents looked on.
The mother whale died, and the calf was brought next to her and later euthanized by a NOAA marine mammal specialist as a crowd looked on.
“I have tears in my eyes,” said Vulpis. “Everyone here is upset, everyone really thought they were going to try to save the baby.”
Approximately 300 people stood by in a somber scene, some crying. Dozens with video and still cameras waded into the water, trying to get closer to the whales as authorities kept others back behind yellow police tape. A police helicopter hovered nearby.
Blair Mase, a stranding coordinator for NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, said beaked whales normally do not survive in captivity, and that the calf would have been unable to survive without its mother.
Experts will perform necropsies on both whales, Mase said.
It was not immediately clear what caused them to beach.
Mase said whales can beach themselves for a variety of reasons, including climate conditions, disorientation after hearing a loud noise, sickness and parasites.
There are normally one or two so-called “beaching events” of beaked whales a year in South Florida, according to NOAA experts. But they noted it’s still a traumatic event for beachgoers to witness.
Some in the crowd were parents trying to explain what was happening to young children.
“Whales tear at our heartstrings,” said Mase.
Associated Press writer Tamara Lush contributed to this report from Miami.
The battle raging over President Obama’s health care plan has spread from across the aisles in Congress to across the country.
A Tampa, Florida, health care reform meeting sparks noisy exchanges between attendees.
Senators this week joined their colleagues from the House at town hall meetings as they spent their August recess in their home districts. But disruptive protests are turning town hall meetings into shouting matches and drowning out discussion over what is and isn’t in health care plans in the House and Senate. Videos of the protests have been circulating on the Internet, showing raucous crowds heckling their congressmen, and carrying posters with devil horns drawn on lawmakers’ heads, swastikas or Obama with Adolf Hitler’s mustache. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, who had a town hall meeting disrupted by angry protesters earlier this month, said he had never experienced such emotion in his 15 years of holding such forums. Democratic Rep. Brad Miller of North Carolina even had a death threat phoned into his office. A caller said that if Miller supported Obama’s plan, it could cost him his life, Miller told CNN. “Of course we want a full debate. Of course we want people who have dissenting views from the administration and Congress to have a full hearing. But that’s not what this is about. That’s not the intent of most of these people. It’s not the way the press is covering it,” Mark Halperin, editor-at-large and senior political analyst for TIME magazine, said on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”
Town halls push on amid fears of disruptive protests
Health care protests clearly ‘orchestrated,’ senator says
Lawmaker gets health care death threat
The protesters’ gimmicks, Halperin said, are grabbing the public and media’s attention, and valid arguments over the cost and content of the proposals are being put on the back burner. “There needs to be a debate in America on whether we should have universal health care. There needs to be a debate on the president’s ideas. If these protesters have ideas, great. Let’s hear them. But if they’re just stunts to cause a disruption that gets the media tripped in every time, again, I think it’s bad for the country whether you want the president’s plan or not,” he said. Watch what Halperin says about the town hall turmoil » Obama’s health care battle has been compared to former President Bill Clinton’s failed effort more than 15 years ago, but CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider said the climate toward health care reform was actually more negative back then. Clinton’s plan had less public support than Obama’s, and Clinton himself was less popular than Obama, Schneider said. Clinton’s plan also barely got off the ground when it went to Congress, and Obama’s proposals have already been through a few congressional committees. So why didn’t lawmakers experience the same backlash during the Clinton years? “Three reasons,” Schneider said. First of all, “the calendar.” Clinton proposed his plan in September 1993, and by the time Congress went on recess in August of the following year, the plan was dead. Secondly, people didn’t use the Internet the way they use it today, “so you didn’t have the viral communications that rally people to attend town halls.” And finally, experience. “Conservatives are emboldened by what happened to the Clinton plan. They want to relive 1994,” Schneider said. Democrats have accused conservative groups of manufacturing the outrage, while others say the uproar is a reflection of the opposition to Obama’s plans. “These are average Americans that are concerned about this long litany of borrowing and spending and bailouts and government takeover of one industry after another. And this government takeover of health care is just the last straw for many Americans,” Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana, told “Fox News” on Monday. As the emotion has intensified, misinformation has spread about what is and isn’t in current health care proposals. “People are just getting information that’s flat wrong,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, told CNN on Monday as a town hall meeting she held came to an end. One of the allegations that picked up traction in recent days is that Obama’s plan encourages euthanasia. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin fueled the charge on her Facebook page Friday, writing that “the sick, the elderly, and the disabled” would suffer as doctors have to “ration care.” In her post, the former Republican vice presidential candidate said Obama’s health care plan would create a “death panel” that would weigh whether her parents or son Trig were “worthy of health care.” Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean told CNN on Sunday that Palin had deliberately fabricated the charges. “About euthanasia, they’re just totally erroneous. She just made that up,” he said. “Just like the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ that she supposedly didn’t support. “There’s nothing like euthanasia in the bill. I practiced medicine for a long time, and of course you have to have end-of-life discussionsthe patients want that. … Euthanasia’s not in this bill.” McCaskill said she hoped Monday that she was able to correct some of false information out there. “The notion that I would ever, or that our government would ever do anything to cut short or dismiss the quality of life for our seniors is so offensive to me as an American. … There’s no rationing of health care that’s being proposed for our elderly,” she said. “Hopefully, I was able to reassure people thatnot in America. That’s not going to happen.” In his weekend radio address, Obama sought to dispel what he called “the outlandish rumors that reform will promote euthanasia, cut Medicaid or bring about a government takeover of health care. That’s simply not true.”
The White House on Monday launched what it calls a Health Insurance Reform Reality Check Web site designed to combat what the administration considers misinformation about the issue. The Web page features Obama aides discussing various aspects of health care reform.
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) –
Facebook, the world's largest social networking site, said it will acquire FriendFeed, an up-and-coming social media startup.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Facebook said that FriendFeed would continue to operate normally for the time being as the teams determine long-term plans.
Friendfeed lets people share content online in real time across various social networks and blogs.
FriendFeed's four founders, former Google Inc employees who started the company in 2007, will hold senior roles on Facebook's engineering and product teams.
Facebook has more than 250 million registered users. In May, the social networking company announced a $200 million investment from Russian investor Digital Sky Technologies that pegged the value of its preferred shares at $10 billion.
(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing Bernard Orr)
DALLAS (Reuters) –
Liberal religious groups announced on Monday they are teaming up with President Barack Obama in a national campaign to counter the surprisingly vehement conservative opposition to his plan for overhaul of the U.S. healthcare industry this year.
Organized by liberal-leaning evangelicals, some mainline Protestant clergy, and some Catholic groups, it will include Obama participating in a call-in program with religious leaders streamed on the Internet on August 19, prayer meetings and nationwide television ads.
“As a pastor I believe access to healthcare is a profoundly moral issue,” Rev. Stevie Wakes of Olivet Institutional Baptist in Kansas City, said in a news teleconference announcing the “40 days for Health Reform” campaign.
Protestors have confronted members of Congress across the country in town hall meetings held to take the public pulse on the various healthcare overhaul plans being written in Congress.
What lawmakers found was anger fueled in part by Christian and conservative radio that healthcare would lead to taxpayer funded abortion and even euthanasia for the old, have incited much of the loudest and most dramatic reaction.
Conservative Catholics often side with Republican-leaning evangelicals in opposition to abortion rights but the biblical call to help the sick and the poor is also an important part of the faith. Obama's healthcare agenda includes extending health insurance to the roughly 46 million uninsured Americans.
Some of the opposition is being fueled by leaders of the “religious right,” the conservative Christian movement that remains a key base for the opposition Republican Party.
Religion often plays a huge role in politics in America, where church attendance is high. Obama tapped into this sentiment during his White House race, often talking openly about his own Christian faith.
This counterpunch by what has been called the religious left will also feature events with members of Congress in states such as Colorado and Florida. Conservative Democratic members of Congress in several states are regarded as key by both sides to the success or failure of health reform.
Analysts say it remains to be seen if it will pay off with some political dividends at this crucial juncture for the healthcare plan. Lawmakers have said they are working to pass the legislation this year to avoid embroiling healthcare reform in next year's congressional election politics.
“I think that the Democrats were surprised by the strength of the religious right and the insurance companies and those opposed to healthcare reform when they got their grass roots efforts going,” said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
“So it took awhile for the Religious Left to get their national campaign going and we'll see whether or not it has the same emotion and intensity,” he said.
The groups behind the effort include Faith in Public Life, Faithful America and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good.
(Editing by Jackie Frank)
TOKYO – A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.6 hit Tokyo and nearby areas shortly after dawn Tuesday, halting trains and forcing two nuclear reactors to be shut down for safety checks. There were no immediate reports of serious damages or injury.
Meanwhile, a tsunami watch is in place for India, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand and Bangladesh after the U.S. Geological Survey said another unrelated quake with a 7.6 magnitude hit the Indian Ocean about 160 miles (257 kilometers) north of Port Blair in India’s Andaman Islands.
The USGS cautions that it is not known if an Indian Ocean tsunami has occurred.
The Andaman Islands quake was reported to be 20.6 miles (33.15 kilometers) deep, the U.S. Geological Survey said. with an epicenter about 225 miles (362 kilometers) south-southwest of Myanmar, 510 miles (820 kilometers) west of Bangkok, and 1,420 miles (2,285 kilometers) southeast of New Delhi.
Japan’s Meteorological Agency also issued a tsunami warning from the Japanese temblor early Tuesday, which centered off the Suruga Bay, southwest of Tokyo. The quake occurred at a depth of 12 miles (20 kilometers). Public broadcaster NHK said a small increase of waves of some 10 inches (30 centimeters) was observed along the coastline of Yaizu City.
Central Japan Railway Co. has suspended operations of Shinkansen bullet trains, while the central government set up a task force at the prime minister’s office, Kyodo reported.
The quake rattled furniture and walls in Tokyo but there have been no immediate reports of damages or casualties.
Local trains and two reactors at the Hamaoka nuclear power plant were temporarily halted for safety checks. No damage was reported, however. Reactors are automatically shut down whenever a quake of a certain strength is registered.
About an hour after the quake, the meteorological agency said up to 60 centimeters (25 inches) of swelling in the sea surface was monitored on the coastal areas near the quake’s center. No larger waves had been recorded.
NHK said a 5-year-old boy suffered a leg injury when he was hit by a falling TV set and small landslides were reported in the town of Nishi Izu, but there were no injuries, said town official Mieko Hayama.
Kinichi Tashiro, an emergency official at the Yaizu city fire station, said officials were currently touring the coastal areas in the city to monitor the situation, but he has not received any reports of damage.
“I was in the bathroom just as the quake hit. It shook rather violently,” Tashiro said in a televised interview with NHK. Tashiro said there was no damage to his home and observed no major problem in the neighborhood as he rushed to the office.
A magnitude 6.9 quake rattled the region Sunday, but caused no damage or casualties. The U.S. Geological Survey measured it at magnitude 7.1.
Japan is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries, and experts believe Tokyo has a 90 percent chance of being hit by a major quake over the next 50 years.
In 1995, a magnitude-7.2 quake in the western port city of Kobe killed 6,400 people.
Couple behind Baby P death named
The couple responsible for the death of Baby Peter have been named after a court anonymity order expired.The child died at the hands of mother Tracey Connelly and boyfriend Steven Barker, of Penshurst Road, Haringey. The third defendant in the case has also now been named as Jason Owen, 37, Barker’s brother. Baby Peter’s surname, Connelly, has also been released. In May Connelly, 28, and Barker, 33, were jailed for five and 12 years for causing or allowing the death of Peter. The 17-month old baby had more 50 injuries when he died, including fractured ribs and a broken back. It emerged Owen changed his name to avoid being connected to the killing of Peter.
Owen, 37, who was imprisoned for three years, was staying at the home in Tottenham, north London, with his 15-year-old lover. It has also been revealed that the brothers were charged with assaulting their own grandmother, Hilda Barker, in 1995, in an attempt to make her change her will. That case was dropped when Mrs Barker, 82, died before giving evidence, but she told police she had been locked in a wardrobe by the pair. The notoriety of the Baby Peter case is such that all three convicted are likely to be given new identities upon release to protect them from vigilante attacks, according to the probation union Napo. Assistant general secretary Harry Fletcher said: “The question will be, how well known are they in five years’ time? “And will Baby P still resonate with the public in terms of horrendous crime? Possible appeal”If it does – and I suspect it will – the probation service and police will have no choice but to put in place a protection plan.” The culprits are thought to be planning an appeal against their sentences. It can also be reported that Baby Peter had four siblings. A judge had ordered none of the defendants be named because the other children were still being re-homed. Now that all four children are being cared for, the guilty trio’s anonymity has ceased.
KINSHASA, Congo – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called Monday for Congolese youth to lead nationwide protests against massive corruption and rampant sexual violence in the country’s violence-torn east.
Clinton said she would press officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo to address the issues. But she stressed that domestic outrage at graft and sexual assaults against women and girls was needed to help prod the government into action.
“You are the ones who have to speak out,” she told university students in Kinshasa. “Speak out to end the corruption, the violence, the conflict that for too long have eroded the opportunities across this country. Together, you can write a new chapter in Congolese history.”
Clinton travels on Tuesday to the eastern city of Goma, the epicenter of horrific rapes and other sexual crimes committed by the military and rebel groups as they fight over the region’s vast mineral wealth.
Calling the situation there “truly one of mankind’s greatest atrocities,” she said the fight against gender-based violence as a weapon of war was just as important as curtailing corruption.
The U.N. has recorded at least 200,000 cases of sexual violence in eastern Congo since conflict erupted in 1996. Although fighting has eased since a 2003 peace deal, the army and rebels continue to attack villages and kill civilians.
More than 5 million have been killed and hundreds of thousands left homeless over the past decade. Brutality is common in rural communities, including gang rapes that have led to unwanted pregnancies, serious injuries and death to tens of thousands of women and girls.
Earlier this month, a leading human rights group demanded that Congo crack down on rampant sexual violence often perpetrated by military generals and other top officers.
Citing U.N. data that show 7,703 cases of sexual violence by the army reported last year, Human Rights Watch said the Congolese authorities have failed to prevent the attacks.
It called on the U.N. Security Council to take “tough measures,” including travel bans, and other sanctions against individuals or governments that commit or condone sexual violence in Congo and elsewhere.
Clinton called the statistics “astonishing and horrible” and said “the entire society needs to be speaking out against this. It should be a mark of shame anywhere, in any country.”
“We have to speak out against the impunity of those in positions of authority who either commit these crimes or condone it,” she said.
She added that the United States would support U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his call for global action to stop government forces and armed groups from using sexual violence as a tool of warfare.
Clinton spoke to the students alongside Congo native and former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo who has built a new medical center in Kinshasa. The basketball star named the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital for his late mother, contributing 19 million of his own money to the project
The pair toured the facility before the university town hall and Clinton lavished praise on Mutombo for his generosity and willingness to help his country. But not all the students appeared impressed by his largesse.
One asked Mutombo why he had not chosen to go into a more lucrative business after retiring from basketball earlier this year.
Mutombo, a one-time medical student, replied softly that he had been inspired to found the facility when his mother died in 1998 because she had not been able to get to a hospital in time for treatment. He urged the students to remain hopeful about their country and their future.
Clinton’s Congo stop is the latest in an 11-day journey through Africa to promote development and good governance and underscore the Obama administration’s commitment to the world’s poorest continent.
She arrived in Congo from Angola, South Africa and Kenya. She will also visit Nigeria, Liberia and Cape Verde.
Facts, schmackts. Getting lost in the hubbub over health care seems to be a little thing called “facts,” it seems. Confusion over what’s what in the complex health bill has spawned town hall shouting matches and claims of ‘un-American’ attacks from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Judging from the health-care hijinks over the weekend, it doesn’t look like the noise is going to die down anytime soon.
In July alone, President Obama gave no less than nine speeches on his health-care plan. But getting the facts out is proving to be easier said than done: Phrases like “euthanasia,” “socialized health care” and “rationing” are still being bandied about. (None of which are in the health-care bill, by the way)
On Friday, former Gov. Sarah Palin raised more than a few eyebrows with a Facebook post on Obama’s “evil” vision for health care. In it, she claims that the administration’s bill includes “death panels” that would decide who receives health care:
The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.
Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Newt Gingrich defended Palin’s attack on “death panels,” even after host George Stephanopoulos helpfully pointed out that the bill doesn’t actually include any kind of provision for “death panels.”
A USA Today op-ed decries the “misinformation” and “mayhem” that are firing up both sides of the debate. The op-ed clarifies what it identifies as top issues that are being twisted into something they’re not, including euthanasia (not true), keeping your existing health care (maybe) and illegal immigrant coverage (not true).
In an effort to get everyone’s facts straight, the White House launched a “Reality Check” webpage on whitehouse.gov aimed at debunking “malicious” health-care bill myths. It features explainer videos on the “euthanasia distortion,” veterans’ health care, and how reform will affect small businesses. There’s also an FAQ and information on how consumers will be protected.
Don’t trust the official government website? Then check out FactCheck.org, which targets factually challenged TV ads and “false euthanasia claims,” and fact checks Obama’s July 22 news conference on health care. The site’s fact checkers even fact check the White House’s “Reality Check” on health care facts. That enough facts for you?
If not, CNN.com’s “Health Care in Focus” page features a debate explainer that breaks down the major players and compares the different plans before Congress. The Washington Post’s health-reform web page includes interactive graphics that show the current health-care system and a simple, bulleted explanation of what you “stand to gain or lose” with the various plans under consideration.
PolitiFact.com’s Truth-O-Meter rates the “truthiness” of public statements on health care from both sides of the aisle, including statements made by Karl Rove, several senators and President Obama himself.
NPR.org’s “Prescriptions For Change” section includes Obama’s timeline for a health bill, stories from patients and providers, and a debate on the always-interesting question, “What’s Canadian Health Care Really Like?”
(Fact: Despite some grumbling, Canadians actually like their nationalized health-care system).
— Lili Ladaga
Yahoo! News bloggers compile the best news content from our providers and scour the Web for the most interesting news stories so you don’t have to.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Geological Survey is reporting a huge 7.6 earthquake in the Indian Ocean about 160 miles north of Port Blair in India’s Andaman Islands. The quake is reported to be 20.6 miles deep.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said Monday that a regional tsunami watch is in place for India, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand and Bangladesh.
The center says the quake has the potential to generate destructive tsunamis in the region, though it cautions that it is not known if such a tsunami has occurred.
The center says its bulletin is only issued as advice to government agencies, which must make their own decisions about what action to take.
But it warns that earthquakes of this size have the potential to generate destructive tsunamis along coasts usually no more than a thousand kilometers from the earthquake epicenter.
The earthquake was reported to have struck about 225 miles south-southwest of Myanmar, 510 miles west of Bangkok, and 1,420 miles southeast of New Delhi.
Kremlin bill on using army abroad
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has introduced a bill to parliament that would allow the country’s armed forces to intervene beyond Russia’s borders.The bill would allow Russian troops to be used abroad “to rebuff or prevent an aggression against another state” or “protect Russian citizens abroad”. Mr Medvedev said the bill was linked to last year’s war with Georgia over South Ossetia, Russia’s Interfax reports. Moscow said it was protecting Russian citizens in South Ossetia. The war began on 7 August 2008, as Georgia tried to retake control of its breakaway region, following a series of clashes. Russian forces quickly repelled the assault and pushed further into Georgia. The conflict lasted for five days before a ceasefire was agreed. Russia pulled back, but built up its military presence in both South Ossetia and another breakaway region, Abkhazia. ‘Addressing issues’On Monday, Mr Medvedev said the new bill was “linked to the well-known events that happened last year”, according to Interfax. “We very much hope that these events do not happen again but the issues need to be addressed,” he said. If approved, the bill would augment an existing law allowing the president to use Russian special military units abroad. Under the law adopted by MPs in 2006, the president must notify lawmakers of any such operation, but the unit size, location and timing can be kept secret.
‘Hundreds lost’ in Taiwan typhoon
Hundreds of people are feared dead in Taiwan after Typhoon Morakot triggered a mudslide that buried an entire village on the south-west coast.Officials said about 600-800 people are missing in Shiao Lin village after part of the mountain collapsed on sleeping villagers’ homes on Monday morning. Most of the dead are thought to be the elderly and children. Elsewhere in Taiwan, the number of confirmed deaths is 37, with 35 injured and 52 missing, officials said. Typhoon Morakot dropped some 2m (80in) of rain on Taiwan this weekend, causing the worst flooding in decades.
The typhoon is now battering southern China, forcing the evacuation of a million people from their homes. Six deaths have been reported there. In Japan, Typhoon Etau has set off flash floods and landslides that have killed at least 12 people. TrappedTaiwanese television earlier reported that about 200 homes in Shiao Lin village were buried by mud.
The BBC’s Cindy Sui, in Cishan village, some 40km (25 miles) away, says about 50 people had been rescued and another 150 found alive in another part of the village. Our correspondent says many of those rescued said their family members were still trapped inside. Rescue efforts have been complicated as many of the roads leading to Shiao Lin have been washed away and the unstable ground makes it difficult for rescue helicopters to reach the area. In another incident in Taiwan, an entire hotel – empty at the time – collapsed into the raging waters. Morakot has also contributed to heavy rains in the Philippines. At least 10 people were killed in flooding and landslides in the north of the country last week. Typhoons and tropical storms are frequent in the region between July and September.
WASHINGTON – South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford broke state law when he charged taxpayers for more expensive business and first-class flights, according to the chairman of the legislative committee investigating Sanford’s international travel.
State Sen. David Thomas, whose budget committee investigated Sanford’s flights following reports last month by The Associated Press, sent evidence to Senate leaders Monday showing the Republican governor violated state laws requiring the cheapest travel possible.
Thomas said Sanford’s more expensive flights on two trips cost the state 13,700 more than the economy class flights available.
Legislators can consider sanctions against Sanford ranging from demanding reimbursement to impeachment, said Thomas, R-Fountain Inn.
“It could be perceived, if it’s significant enough and a case can be made of it, to constitute a case for possible impeachment,” Thomas said Monday.
Sanford, 49, has been under increased scrutiny since admitting in June to having a mistress in Argentina. He’s vowed to stay in office and says he is trying to reconcile with his wife, who has moved out of the governor’s official residence to live at the family’s beach house with their sons.
Thomas, who has announced his candidacy for Congress, said the budget subcommittee that he chairs also will investigate Sanford’s use of state planes and report those findings later to lawmakers. The AP reported this week that Sanford used state aircraft for personal and political trips, a practice that is contrary to state law.
Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Camden and Democratic Rep. Boyd Brown of Winnsboro called for an investigation Monday.
Sanford’s staff has defended his use of the planes, saying he always traveled on state business and used the planes less frequently than his predecessors.
Thomas said he didn’t believe a single issue, including violating state law to travel business and first class, would trigger an impeachment process. Legislators likely would consider a combination of concerns, including Sanford’s business and first-class travel at state expense, use of state planes for personal and political trips and his mysterious disappearance earlier this year to visit his mistress in Argentina.
“It’s the whole array of all the things that we’ve seen over the past month,” said Thomas, who said he wasn’t advocating impeachment or other sanctions. Thomas said he will not make any recommendation when submitting his findings to the Legislature, but only will present evidence to lawmakers for review.
“They could do nothing,” he said.
Last month the AP reported that Sanford, who once criticized other state officials for costly travel, charged the state more than 37,600 for first-class and business-class flights overseas since November 2005 despite a state law requiring lowest-cost travel.
Thomas, chairman of the Constitutional and Administrative Subcommittee of Senate Finance, conducted his own investigation of the AP’s findings, focusing on state trips Sanford took to China in 2007 and London in 2006.
Sanford’s 12,172 charge for travel to China included business-class accommodations on United Airlines. The governor also flew in first class on a U.S. Airways flight to London in 2006 at a cost of 7,065, state records show.
Thomas said there is no documentation showing that the governor or anyone else reimbursed the state for the more expensive flights. Other state employees traveled in the less expensive economy class on those flights, he said.
Sanford charged the state 8,687 for a Delta Air Lines trip to Brazil last year that included a leg in the more expensive business class, state expense records show. He has since acknowledged visiting his mistress in Argentina during that trip, a trade mission planned by the state’s Commerce Department. After the publicity in June, Sanford reimbursed the state 3,300 for part of the trip.
Other state employees spent less than 2,000 each on economy seats for the Brazil flight, according to state records.
Thomas said that trip is not included in his findings because Sanford reimbursed the state.
DONGGUAN, ChinaWhenever Deng Huidong sees a little boy around 3 years of age, she can’t help but wonder if he’s her son. Her son, Ye Ruicong, was snatched by human traffickers more than a year ago when he was just 9 months old.
Parents outside the home of activist Deng Huidong in southeast China, hold banners with pictures of abducted children.more photos »
“I imagine how tall he would be, how fast he could run,” Huidong said. I take photos of boys who are about the same age to see; this way I can recognize him if we ever meet one day.” Huidong believes Ruicong was sold, possibly within hours, to a family without a son looking for a male heir. Males come with a premium price tag in China. During a videotaped confession, a woman caught trafficking children two years ago told police that boys can sell for up to 1,200, girls for just more than 200. Ruicong was gone in an instant. Recalling the abduction, Huidong said a white van slowly drove by while she was just outside her home with her daughter and son. The van stopped and reversed to the Deng household. The doors opened and a man leaned out and grabbed Ruicong. The van then sped off. “It all happened within seconds; they didn’t even get out of the car.” Watch how children are snatched » Huidong gave chase on foot, screaming. A stranger on a motorcycle offered to help and together they chased the van until they reached a police car. “I went in that damn police car but after a only a few seconds, they took a sudden turn down another road. I asked why but they just kept silent. I was crying and asking; they simply didn’t reply. Later at the police station, I asked why and he told me he was off duty, so it was some one else’s responsibility to catch the traffickers.” Despite repeated requests by CNN, the police involved refused to comment.
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“We were really angry with the police,” Huidong said. “Our son was snatched and they simply did nothing. It was like my lost son is less important than a dog.” Other parents whose children were lost have also complained of police indifference. Like Zhang Chunxiang, whose son went missing five years ago. “Nobody helped us. The police did not think it was a big deal; it was November. It was not until December when they started to investigate.” Chen Fengyi’s 4-year-old son was abducted while playing outside the family shop. “The local police said our child had strayed by himself. Our entire family looked for him until dawn, I went back to the police station and knelt down to them but they didn’t care, they kept saying ‘the child went astray, look for him yourself.’ The reason why they wouldn’t open a case file was because there was no one who saw the abduction, nor was there video surveillance of the child being taken.” Police again declined to be interviewed. But the man in charge of stopping human trafficking in China did agree to talk. Watch his assessment of the problem » Chen Shiqu, director of the Anti-Human Traffic Division of the Public Security Ministry, confirmed that in the past if there was no evidence a child had been abducted, then police did not have to open a case. But now the law has changed. “Local police have been told to react as soon as they are alerted and these cases are now being treated as a criminal offense,” Chen said. “There were cases (in the past) with no witnesses, or security video available, police officers would help look for the missing child and investigate but the case wasn’t treated as a crime. But now they’re all treated as crimes.” Chen would not comment on specific cases, only saying the claims by parents in this report were the exception. “The few cases you mentioned will be solved according to procedure.” Even when abduction has been caught on security camera video, there have been charges that the police have been slow to act. Lele was 3 years old when he was taken from a square in the city of Shenzhen, all caught by security camera video, but his father Peng Gaofeng says it took police eight days to watch this tape. “They didn’t say anything after they watched the video. They just copied it and said it was confidential. I thought they would try to find my kid with the video, but I never heard anything for two months. I asked the policemen and they said this case was confidential” More than a year later, Lele remains missing, and his father says he is treated like a dissident. “During sensitive times, like Children’s Day, the government forces me to leave town … they were afraid I would organize some activities like searching for kids. It’s always like that.” Police in Lele’s case did not respond to CNN’s request for an interview. Chen did not say how many children and how many women are annually trafficked in China, saying only the total for last year was 2, 256 – roughly divided evenly between children and women. He disputedwithout saying whythe U.S. State Department estimate that between 10,000 and 20,000 women and children are trafficked each year in China; he disputes the view from the United Nations that anecdotal evidence suggests the official numbers are low. “Police stations have recorded every case of kids missing and trafficked,” Chen said, “so we don’t think your data are valid.” In 2005 the Committee on the Rights of Children said the Chinese government numbers almost exclusively refer to the number of rescues, not the number of kidnappings. Chen says police have launched regular nationwide crackdowns, with rescued babies shown on state run television, there’s a new most wanted list of the country’s worst traffickers – 11 out of 20 he says have been arrested ……and something parents of missing children have been asking for… a new DNA data base, operating in parts of the country, is matching rescued children with their parents. “The appearance of children missing or stolen changes so that even their parents have difficulty in recognizing them,” Chen said. The parents of the stolen children also have complained that the law does not punish the buyers, providing the child is not mistreated. As long as that doesn’t change, they say, there will always be a market with traffickers eager to do business.
As for Deng Huidong, the mother of Ruicong, she said thoughts of a family reunion are too painful. “These days I just keep thinking that my boy is being taken care of by a kind-hearted family. I could give my son up as long as they really like him, and just tell me he is living a comfortable life.”
A tsunami watch has been issued after a 7.6-magnitude earthquake in the Indian Ocean near India’s Andaman Islands, authorities said.
The quake struck at 1:55 a.m. (3:55 p.m. ET) about 163 miles north of Port Blair, Andaman Islands.
The watch covers India, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia and Bangladesh, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. The quake struck at 1:55 a.m. (3:55 p.m. ET), about 163 miles (262 km) north of Port Blair, Andaman Islands, and 225 miles south-southwest of Pathein, Myanmar, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Its focus was about 20 miles below the Earth’s surface. In general, earthquakes centered closer to the Earth’s surface produce stronger shaking and can cause more damage than those further underground. See a map of the quake’s location » “Earthquakes of this size have the potential to generate a destructive local tsunami and sometimes a destructive regional tsunami along coasts located usually no more than a thousand kilometers from the earthquake epicenter,” said the bulletin from the tsunami warning center. “It is not known that a tsunami was generated. This watch is based only on the earthquake evaluation. Authorities in the region should take appropriate action in response to this possibility.” The estimated tsunami travel time would be an hour or less to the coasts of the Andaman and Nicobar islands, according to a bulletin issued by the Japan Meteorological Agency.
A tsunami would reach the coastlines of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia within one to three hours. According to the geological survey, a 6.4-magnitude quake struck near the south coast of Honshu, Japan, 12 minutes after the Indian Ocean quake. The Japan Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami advisory following that quake, but said that the expected wave would be under 2 feet.
Jamaicans cleared over drug tests
Five Jamaican athletes have been cleared of doping offences at their national championships in June by their country’s anti-doping panel (Jadco).The commission stated it could not determine whether the unnamed substance is on the prohibited list. Jadco chairman Kent Gammon said: “Therefore we have not found any of them to be in violation of the code.” Yohan Blake, Sheri-Ann Brooks, Allodin Fothergill, Lansford Spence and Marvin Anderson were the athletes involved. They are now clear to compete in the World Championships, which begin in Berlin on Saturday, 15 August. But the ruling will be reviewed by athletics’ governing body, the IAAF, on Tuesday and Wednesday. The IAAF can challenge any judgements in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), world sport’s highest court of appeal, and can also provisionally suspend athletes until CAS delivers a verdict. All five runners are part of the Caribbean nation’s 46-strong team. Jamaica dominated last summer’s Olympic sprint races and is hoping for similar success in Germany. Blake, who won bronze in the 100m at the world junior championships in 2006, is Olympic champion Usain Bolt’s training partner and has recorded the fifth-fastest time over 100m this year. Anderson is also a 100m runner, while Fothergill and Spence compete in the 400m. Brooks, the Commonwealth 100m champion, was cleared last week on a technicality because Jadco tested her B sample without her knowledge. The athletes had reportedly tested positive for the stimulant methylhexanamine, which is not on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances.