Guess Who Leads the Bribery World?
The USA is the most corrupt country in the world and I have 10,000 posts that point heavily to that fact…

Chimps to be spared from use in US medical experiments December 16, 2011

Chimpanzees should hardly ever be used for medical research, a prestigious scientific group told the US government on Thursday – advice that means days in the laboratory may be numbered for humans’ closest relatives.

The Institute of Medicine stopped short of recommending the outright ban that animal rights activists had pushed for.

Instead, it urged strict limits that would make invasive experiments with chimps essentially a last resort, saying today’s more advanced research tools mean the primates’ use only rarely would be necessary enough to outweigh the moral costs.

Chimp research was already dwindling fast as scientists turned to less costly and less ethically charged alternatives.

The US government agency in charge of it – the National Institutes of Health – called the new recommendations “scientifically well-founded” and signalled that it would make some changes.

“While operational details will need to be worked out, NIH intends to adopt the panel’s general conclusions,” said Dr Francis Collins, director of the NIH.

The apes’ genetic similarity to people has long caused a quandary. It is what has made them so valuable to scientists for nearly a century.

They were vital in creating a vaccine for hepatitis B, for example, and were even shot into space to make sure the trip would not kill the astronauts next in line.

But that close relationship has had animal rights groups arguing that using chimps for biomedical research is unethical and can be cruel.

“We understand and feel compelled by the moral cost of using chimpanzees in research,” said bioethicist Jeffrey Kahn of Johns Hopkins University, who chaired the Institute of Medicine panel.

“We have established criteria that will set the bar quite high for justification of the use of chimpanzees.”

For biomedical research – testing new drugs or giving the animal a disease – that means using chimps only if studies cannot be done on other animals or people themselves, and if forgoing the chimp studies would hinder progress against life-threatening or other debilitating diseases.

The panel advised the government to limit use of chimps in behavioural research as well, saying such studies must provide insights into the brain and behaviour that otherwise are unattainable – and use techniques that minimize any pain or distress.

The US is one of only two countries known to still conduct medical research with chimpanzees; the other is Gabon. The European Union essentially banned such research last year.

The practice has been dwindling fast in the US. The Institute of Medicine’s investigation found that over the past 10 years, the NIH has paid for just 110 projects of any type that involved chimps.

There are not quite 1,000 chimps available for medical research in the country. While it is impossible to say how many have been used in privately funded pharmaceutical research, the industry is shifting to higher-tech and less costly research methods.

One drug company, GlaxoSmithKline, adopted an official policy ending its use of great apes, including chimpanzees, in research.

Thursday’s report was triggered by an uproar over the fate of 186 semi-retired research chimps that the NIH, to save money, last year planned to move from a New Mexico facility to an active research lab in Texas.

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VIDEO: ‘Assad’s story is not believable’ December 9, 2011

During the past nine months the people of Syria have taken to the streets in protest against their government and over 4,000 have paid with their lives.

Yet on Wednesday, in a rare television interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad flatly denied that he ordered the use of brutality, instead blaming the violence on others.

To discuss that interview, the BBC’s Jane O’Brien was joined by Bilal Saab, fellow at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

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Tijuana drug tunnel impresses US November 30, 2011

Mexican security forces surrounded the Tijuana entrance of the tunnel

US police have found one of the most sophisticated drug-smuggling tunnels to date on the border with Mexico.

The tunnel was discovered on Tuesday and links warehouses in Tijuana, Mexico, with San Diego.

“It is clearly the most sophisticated tunnel that we have found in the last five years, perhaps ever,” a US police spokeswoman in San Diego said.

A similar tunnel was discovered in the area two weeks ago, adding to dozens that have been found in recent years.

Local media describe Otay Mesa as a busy area containing many warehouses, making it easier for smugglers.

The tunnel is 15ft (4.5m) deep and contains both lighting and transport carts, AFP news agency reports.

The tunnel extends twice as far into the US as it does into Mexico

Mexican security forces found the entrance in a Tijuana warehouse after being alerted to the discovery by the US authorities.

The warehouse is near Tijuana airport, and also stands close to the local headquarters of the federal police.

Mexican security forces seized three tonnes of marijuana at the tunnel’s entrance, which they suspect had only recently been put into use.

The use of underground tunnels for smuggling has increased in recent years as the US authorities have clamped down on overland smuggling activity.

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MPs warn Royal Navy’s carriers will be costly, late, and of limited use November 29, 2011

The aircraft carriers being built for the Royal Navy will be less useful, take longer to finish, and likely cost more than claimed, a parliamentary watchdog warns.

The first, HMS Queen Elizabeth, will be mothballed immediately it is launched in 2016, according to the existing plan. However, the second, HMS Prince of Wales, is not now expected to be fully operational until 2031. Moreover, it will only be able to stay at sea for up to 200 days a year, significantly fewer than envisaged, says the Commons public accounts committee.

The MPs’ report, out on Tuesday, makes clear the quick decision to adapt the carriers to fly US-made Joint Strike Fighters, taking off by catapult and landing by arrester wires, will increase the planes’ cost as well as that of the carriers, but by how much will not be known until December 2012.

The cost of the US JSFs – or F35s as they are now called – is spiralling, and the Ministry of Defence has already cut substantially the number it plans to buy; development is also threatened by pressures on the American defence budget.

The catapult/arrester arrangement enables British aircraft to land on French carriers, and vice versa – increasing co-operation; the UK version also has longer range and carries heavier weapons.

The report says that the construction of the carriers themselves is “progressing well”, but warns the costs of converting the carriers “are not yet fully understood”.

It continues: “The technology proposed has yet to be tested and the [fighter] version the UK intends to buy will be unique to Britain. The costs of converting the carrier for use with the carrier variant aircraft will not be known until 2012.”

Margaret Hodge, the former Labour minister and chair of the public accounts committee, told the Guardian: “The carriers’ starting cost was £3.5bn, is currently about £6.2bn, and is likely to rise to up to £12bn. There will be nine years without a carrier, and it will be at sea for fewer than 200 days on average.”

She accused David Cameron of deceiving parliament by claiming, after the defence review was agreed last year, that cancelling the carriers would have cost more in compensation to BAE Systems, the builders, than going ahead with them. According to the MoD’s own figures, cancelling both ships would have immediately cost the government £2.4bn in cancllation fees but would have led to savings of £1.2bn in the long term.

Cancelling one ship, but going ahead with the other, would have saved just £200m in the long term.

Jim Murphy, the shadow defence secretary, said: “Yet again we have a respected body giving a damning assessment of the defence review, which was driven by short-term cash savings, not strategic need, and limits Britain’s ability to project power”.

He added: “It will worry those in the services that ministers’ projected savings are in fact deferred expenditure, and so the long-term impact of their policy decisions on the defence budget and equipment programme remains unknown.”

Murphy also raised questions about the government’s decision, announced on Monday, to sell to the private sector the existing Royal Navy and RAF search and rescue service from 2015. There are 91 navy and RAF search and rescue pilots, including Prince William. “That would be a further blow to falling morale in the services as well as a waste of their valuable skills,” Murphy said.

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Britain unites with smaller countries to block US bid to legalise cluster bombs November 26, 2011

A coalition of countries including Britain on Friday defeated an attempt by the US, Russia, China and Israel to get an international agreement approving the continued use of cluster bombs. The weapons, which have been used in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon scatter “bomblets” over a wide area, maiming and killing civilians, notably children, long after they have been dropped and are banned under a 2008 convention which was adopted by the UK and in more than 100 countries. The US, refused to sign and in negotiations in Geneva, over the past two weeks pressed for a protocol to be added to a UN convention to provide legal cover for the continuing use of cluster munitions. But smaller countries, supported by agencies including Amnesty and Oxfam, refused to give way.

Thomas Nash, director of Article 36, a group which coordinated opposition to cluster munitions, said: “The rejection of this attempt to set up a weaker standard on cluster bombs shows that states can act on the basis of humanitarian imperatives and can prevail in the face of cynical pressure from other states”.

He added: “It shows that it is not only the US and other so called major powers that call the shots in international affairs, but that when small and medium sized countries work together with civil society and international organisations we can set the agenda and get results”.

The US was supported in the Geneva talks by other cluster bomb manufacturers – including Russia, China, Israel, India and Pakistan.

They were backed by countries which had signed the 2008 convention, including France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Australia, conference observers said.

The Foreign Office had said that the British government would not accept the proposed protocol unless it provided clear humanitarian benefits.

The US and its supporters argued that their proposal would allow the use of cluster bombs manufactured after 1980 and that these had a less than 1% failure rate. Opponents said that most bombs produced before 1980 are unusable and that modern cluster munitions have failure rates much higher than the manufacturers claim.

If the US bid had been approved, international legal cover would have been given to such weapons as the BLU-97 “combined effects” bomb which contains bomblets that, as they fall, fragment and can turn into an incendiary weapon.

The unexploded bomblets have the appearance of yellow drink containers and are attractive, often picked up by children who mistake them for toys. However, the consequences are lethal, often resulting in maiming or even fatalities.

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