Daily Archives: July 25, 2008

Obama calls for Christians, Jews and Muslims to unite

“Citizen of the world” Obama waves to the gathered crowd as he arrives to make a speech in front of the Victory Column in Berlin

In the end Barack Obama had no need to break into German to leave the 200,000 crowd roaring with delight.

The man the German media has dubbed the ‘Black JFK’ stuck to English – but his welcome in Berlin last night stood comparison with the rapturous reception given to John F. Kennedy’s famous 1963 ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ address at the height of the Cold War.

Mr Obama opened his speech at the Victory Column in the capital’s Tiergarten park with the words: ‘I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before, although tonight I speak to you not as a candidate for president of the United States, but as a proud citizen of the United States and a proud citizen of the world.’

This is London | Jul 25, 2008

He told the crowd that he knew he did not look much like the Americans who had addressed Berlin before, emphasising his Kenyan roots to the delight of the thousands cheering his every word as ‘ Obamamania’ took over.

Mr Obama, who arrives in London tomorrow at the end of a week-long overseas tour to boost his foreign policy credentials as the Democrat opponent of Republican John McCain, chose Berlin for the only formal speech of the trip.

He urged Europe to stand by the U.S. in bringing stability to Afghanistan and confronting other threats, from climate change to nuclear proliferation.

And he said America had no better partner than Europe.

Mr Obama, who is hugely popular in Germany where polls show President George Bush is loathed, spoke in front of the 230ft column built to celebrate 19th-century Prussian military victories over Denmark, France and Austria.

Addressing many world issues, Obama said: ‘a new generation, our generation, must make our mark on history’.

He spoke of tearing down walls between countries, between races and between religions – that the ‘walls’ between Christians, Muslims and Jews cannot stand.

‘Let us build on our common history, and seize our common destiny, and once again engage in that noble struggle to bring justice and peace to our world.’

He also spoke on the Iraq war, saying: ‘This is the moment when the world should support the millions of Iraqis who seek to rebuild their lives, even as we pass responsibility to the Iraqi government and finally bring this war to a close.’

He dwelt at length on the historic ties between the U.S. and Germany – touching on the Berlin Airlift 60 years ago and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

He said the fall of the Wall had brought hope but also dangers. ‘No one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone,’ he said.

America and Europe had grown apart, he said, but it was vital they stood together on such issues, particularly Afghanistan.

‘No one welcomes war. I recognise the enormous difficulties in Afghanistan,’ Mr Obama said.

‘But my country and yours have a stake in seeing that NATO’s first mission beyond Europe’s borders is a success. For the people of Afghanistan, and for our shared security, the work must be done. America cannot do this alone.’ He acknowledged the differences between Europe and the U.S.

‘No doubt, there will be differences in the future. But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more – not less.

‘Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity. ‘That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another.’

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EU food safety experts say NO to cloned meat

Calls for clone farming to be banned were stepped up yesterday after an official study highlighted animal suffering and food safety risks.

This is London | Jul 24, 2008

The European Food Safety Authority found that animals involved in cloning suffer pain and ill-health linked to miscarriages, organ defects and gigantism. It also flagged up the possibility that clones and their offspring could pass animal diseases to humans through meat and milk.

The inquiry was launched in January 2007 after the Daily Mail highlighted the fact that Dundee Paradise – the offspring of a clone – had been born on a British farm.

Last month, the Mail reported that a total of eight ‘clone farm’ calves have now been born on British farms.

Frozen embryos taken from the clones of prize-winning Holstein cows in the U.S. were flown to the UK and implanted into farm animals.

Advocates claim it will allow prize-winning animals to be copied to create a new generation of animals, able to produce vast quantities of milk or lean meat.

But the report by the EFSA, set up in 2002 to improve EU food safety, said: ‘The health and welfare of a significant proportion of clones have been found to be adversely affected, often severely and with a fatal outcome.’

Professor Vittorio Silano, of the EFSA, said: ‘It is clear there are significant animal health and welfare issues for surrogate mothers and clones that can be more frequent and severe than for conventionally-bred animals.’

The cloning process involves taking the nucleus of cells from the ear of an animal and implanting them in an egg from a female. The fertilisation process is kick-started with an electric charge.

There are large number of miscarriages of embryos. Organ defects lead to death in pregnancy or soon after birth.

EFSA said clones are also more likely to show ‘gigantism’. They are so large the only way they can be born is through caesarean section.

The study highlighted the need to find out why clones and their offspring are more vulnerable to some diseases and if these could be a food safety threat.

The report said: ‘It should be investigated whether consumption of meat and milk derived from clones or their offspring may lead to increased exposure to transmissable agents.’

The developments in clone farming have outpaced moves by the British Government and EU to put in place a policing mechanism.

There is no system to monitor the existence and welfare of clones and their offspring. Nor is there any system to ensure that meat and milk from these animals is labelled to inform shoppers.

The final decision on whether to allow clone farming and food rests with the European Commission.

Peter Stevenson of Compassion in World Farming, said: ‘Britain and the EU should ban cloning, not just farming but also food from cloned animals and their offspring because of the very serious health and welfare issues.’

RSPCA senior scientist, Dr Nikki Osborne, said: ‘The RSPCA believes cloning of animals for food production should be banned on animal welfare and ethical grounds.’

Sue Davies, Chief Policy Adviser at consumer group Which?, said: ‘This EFSA opinion highlights why it is far too premature to think about using cloned animals for food production.’

Director of Eurogroup for Animals, Sonja Van Tichelen, said: ‘The EU is now obligated to follow its own rules. Under the general farm directive a breeding technique that causes suffering should not be allowed.’

Last night Defra said it would expect food companies or farmers to seek advice from the Government before attempting to put meat and milk from clones or their offspring on the market.

Man dies after cop hits him with Taser 9 times

  • Suspect died after police officer Tasered him nine times; investigation launched
  • Coroner rules death homicide, says man might’ve been dead after seventh shock
  • Family outraged it has taken months for any action: “The family wants justice”

CNN | Jul 22, 2008

WINNFIELD, Louisiana (CNN) — A police officer shocked a handcuffed Baron “Scooter” Pikes nine times with a Taser after arresting him on a cocaine charge.

He stopped twitching after seven, according to a coroner’s report. Soon afterward, Pikes was dead.

Now the officer, since fired, could end up facing criminal charges in Pikes’ January death after medical examiners ruled it a homicide.

Dr. Randolph Williams, the Winn Parish coroner, told CNN the 21-year-old sawmill worker was jolted so many times by the 50,000-volt Taser that he might have been dead before the last two shocks were delivered.

Williams ruled Pikes’ death a homicide in June after extensive study.

Winn Parish District Attorney Christopher Nevils said he will decide on any charges against the ex-officer, Scott Nugent, once a Louisiana State Police report on the case is complete.

“It’s taken several months for this case to even be properly addressed, so one has to wonder, why did it take so long?” said Carol Powell Lexing, a lawyer for the Pikes family. “Obviously, a wrongful death occurred.”

Nugent’s lawyer, Phillip Terrell, said his client followed proper procedure to subdue a man who outweighed him by 100 pounds. But Williams said Pikes was already handcuffed and on the ground when first hit with the Taser, after the 247-pound suspect was slow to follow police orders to get up.

Winnfield, a sleepy lumber town about 100 miles southeast of Shreveport, Louisiana, is best known as the birthplace of legendary Louisiana governors Huey and Earl Long. It’s also about 45 miles northwest of Jena, Louisiana, where a racially charged assault case sparked a September 2007 demonstration by an estimated 15,000 people.

One of the teenage defendants in that case, Mychal Bell, is Pikes’ first cousin — and his lawyer was Powell Lexing.

Nugent is white; Pikes was black. His death led to demonstrations that drew several dozen people in Winnfield, where the population of about 15,000 is roughly half African-American.

“The family wants justice,” Lexing said. “This is just another example of why it’s very important to stay vigilant with these types of cases, on the injustice that’s been perpetrated on the disadvantaged.”

But Winnfield police Lt. Chuck Curry said race “isn’t an issue at all” in the matter.

“This has come down to a police officer that was trying to apprehend a suspect that they had warrants for,” he said. “He done what he thought he was trained to do to bring that subject into custody. At some point, something happened with his body that caused him to go into cardiac arrest or whatever.
According to police, Pikes was wanted on a charge of possession of cocaine when police tried to arrest him outside a shopping center January 12.

“He would not stop for the officer,” Curry said. “At some point in there, he was Tased to bring him under control, and several hours later, died at the emergency room.”

Terrell said Pikes was fighting Nugent “on uneven ground” amid obstructions such as concrete blocks and barbed wire.

“He’s fighting, wrestling with an individual who weighs 100 pounds more than him,” he said. “His partner had just come back to the police department from triple bypass surgery and could not assist Officer Nugent.”

Terrell said his client “used every means possible” to take Pikes into custody before pulling out his Taser, a weapon Winnfield police purchased in 2007.

“The only thing he could have done other than to say, ‘OK, we’re going to let you go’ is to beat him or Tase him. He did the right thing,” Terrell said.

Williams, who ruled Pikes’ death a homicide in June after extensive study, said Nugent fired his Taser at Pikes six times in less than three minutes — shots recorded by a computer chip in the weapon’s handle. Then officers put Pikes in the back of a cruiser and drove him to their police station — where Nugent fired a seventh shot, directly against Pikes’ chest.

“After he was given that drive stun to the chest, he was pulled out of the car onto the concrete, ” Williams told CNN. “He was electroshocked two more times, which two officers noted that he had no neuromuscular response to those last two 50,000-volt electroshocks.”

Williams said he had two nationally known forensic pathologists, including former New York city medical examiner Michael Baden, review the case before issuing his conclusions. He said it’s possible Nugent was shocking a dead man the last two times he pulled the trigger.

“This fellow was talking in the back seat of the car prior to shot number seven,” he said. “From that point on, it becomes questionable [if Pikes was still alive].”

Curry said Pikes told officers he suffered from asthma and had been using PCP and crack cocaine. But Williams said he found no sign of drug use in the autopsy, and no record of asthma in Pikes’ medical history.

In the year since Winnfield police received Tasers, officers have used them 14 times, according to police records — with 12 of the instances involving black suspects. Ten of the 14 incidents involved Nugent, who has no public disciplinary record.

Nugent was suspended after Pikes’ death, and Winnfield’s City Council voted 3-2 to fire him in May. He is appealing his dismissal, and his lawyer says he followed proper procedures in Pikes’ case. He was trained in the use of the Taser by a senior police officer who was present during the incident that led to Pikes’ death, Terrell said.

Curry said Taser International, the device’s manufacturer, indicates that “multiple Tasings do not affect a person.” But he said he could not explain why Pikes was shocked so many times, and said whether Nugent followed proper procedure was “yet to be determined.”

But a copy of the Winnfield Police Department’s Taser training manual, obtained by CNN, says the device “shall only be deployed in circumstances where it is deemed reasonably necessary to control a dangerous or violent subject.” And Williams said regulations regarding the use of Tasers were not followed.

“It violated every aspect — every single aspect — of the department’s policy about its use,” the coroner said.

Winnfield has seen a spate of high-profile corruption cases in recent years. One of Nevils’ predecessors as district attorney, Terry Reeves, killed himself amid allegations of embezzlement and extortion. The town’s current police chief, Johnny Ray Carpenter, is a convicted drug offender who received a pardon from former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards who himself is now serving a federal prison term for racketeering.

And Carpenter’s predecessor, Gleason Nugent — the father of Pikes’ arresting officer — committed suicide in 2005, after allegations of fraud and vote buying in the race for police chief, an elected position in Winnfield.

Now Nevils is awaiting the state police report on Pikes’ death, which will be presented to a grand jury for possible charges against Nugent — a possibility Curry said would be a blow to the department.

“It’s one of these no-win situations,” he said. “No matter the outcome, nobody’s going to win in this case.”

Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count

HealthDay Reporter  | Jul 24, 2008

by Steven Reinberg

WEDNESDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) — Eating half a serving of soy food a day lowers sperm concentrations and may play a role in male infertility, particularly in obese men, Harvard University researchers report.

The reason for this relationship between soy and sperm count isn’t clear. However, researchers speculate that soy increases estrogen activity, which may have a negative affect on sperm production and also interfere with other hormonal signals.

“There have been a lot of interest in estrogen and isoflavones in particular and a potential relationship to fertility and other reproductive disorders,” said lead researcher Dr. Jorge Chavarro, a research fellow in the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Research in animals has shown that isoflavones and estrogen can have a potentially negative affect on reproduction, including decreased fertility, Chavarro said. However, there is very little evidence of how these findings apply to humans, he said.

The new research, he added, lends support to how results of animal studies apply to humans. But Chavarro considers the findings preliminary and inconclusive. “It’s way too early to say stop eating soy foods,” he said. “It’s not time to worry about whether you’re eating too much soy. There’s not enough information to conclusively say that. ”

His report was published in the July 24 online edition of the journal Human Reproduction.

For the study, Chavarro and colleagues collected data on 99 men who attended a fertility clinic for evaluation. The men were asked about how much of 15 soy-based foods they ate in the past three months.

The foods men were asked about included tofu, tempeh, tofu or soy sausages, bacon, burgers, soy milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream and other soy products like roasted nuts and energy bars.

Because different foods have different levels of isoflavones, half a serving of soy is equal to about one cup of soy milk or one serving of tofu or soy burgers every other day, Chavarro noted.

Chavarro’s team found that men who ate the most soy had 41 million fewer sperm per milliliter of semen compared with men who did not eat soy foods. Normal sperm counts range between 80 million and 120 million per milliliter, according to a press release from the journal, a monthly publication of the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology.

In addition, the researchers found that the link between soy and sperm concentration was stronger among overweight and obese men. Overweight and obese men produce more estrogen than thinner men, and soy may increase those estrogen levels even further, they speculated.

Moreover, the link between soy and sperm concentration was strongest in men with higher sperm concentrations. Men who have normal or high sperm counts may be more susceptible to soy foods than men with low sperm counts, Chavarro said.

Infertility expert Dr. Hossein Sadeghi-Nejad, an associate professor of urology at UMDNJ New Jersey Medical School and Hackensack University Medical Center, agreed that soy may be one factor affecting fertility, especially in overweight and obese men.

“When patients are overweight, the fat tissue converts male hormones to more female hormones,” Sadeghi-Nejad said. “So, it is possible that the combination of this estrogenic source [soy] and the extra internal estrogen that is caused by the conversion of androgen to estrogen through the fat has a more deleterious effect in that group of patients.”

In addition, Sadeghi-Nejad noted that although sperm counts decreased most among men who have the highest counts, that should not affect fertility, since sperm counts were still in the normal range.

“But this is a good reminder that if you have an overweight patient, with abnormal semen parameters, and a very high soy intake, it may be wise for them to decrease this factor,” Sadeghi-Nejad said.

The Pilgrims Society: A study of the Anglo-American Establishment

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China taking over Africa in accord with old eugenics plan

On June 5, 1873, in a letter to The Times, Sir Francis Galton, the cousin of Charles Darwin and a distinguished African explorer in his own right, outlined a daring (if by today’s standards utterly offensive) new method to ‘tame’ and colonise what was then known as the Dark Continent.

‘My proposal is to make the encouragement of Chinese settlements of Africa a part of our national policy, in the belief that the Chinese immigrants would not only maintain their position, but that they would multiply and their descendants supplant the inferior Negro race,’ wrote Galton.

‘I should expect that the African seaboard, now sparsely occupied by lazy, palavering savages, might in a few years be tenanted by industrious, order-loving Chinese, living either as a semidetached dependency of China, or else in perfect freedom under their own law.’

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Francis Galton, letter to the Editor of The Times, June 5 1873


Close relations: Chinese President Hu Jintao accompanies Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe to a ceremony in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing

This is London | Jul 18, 2008

Despite an outcry in Parliament and heated debate in the august salons of the Royal Geographic Society, Galton insisted that ‘the history of the world tells the tale of the continual displacement of populations, each by a worthier successor, and humanity gains thereby’.

A controversial figure, Galton was also the pioneer of eugenics, the theory that was used by Hitler to try to fulfil his mad dreams of a German Master Race.

Eventually, Galton’s grand resettlement plans fizzled out because there were much more exciting things going on in Africa.

But that was more than 100 years ago, and with legendary explorers such as Livingstone, Speke and Burton still battling to find the source of the Nile – and new discoveries of exotic species of birds and animals featuring regularly on newspaper front pages – vast swathes of the continent had not even been ‘discovered’.

Yet Sir Francis Galton, it now appears, was ahead of his time. His vision is coming true – if not in the way he imagined. An astonishing invasion of Africa is now under way.

In the greatest movement of people the world has ever seen, China is secretly working to turn the entire continent into a new colony.

Reminiscent of the West’s imperial push in the 18th and 19th centuries – but on a much more dramatic, determined scale – China’s rulers believe Africa can become a ‘satellite’ state, solving its own problems of over-population and shortage of natural resources at a stroke.

With little fanfare, a staggering 750,000 Chinese have settled in Africa over the past decade. More are on the way.

The strategy has been carefully devised by officials in Beijing, where one expert has estimated that China will eventually need to send 300 million people to Africa to solve the problems of over-population and pollution.

The plans appear on track. Across Africa, the red flag of China is flying.

Lucrative deals are being struck to buy its commodities – oil, platinum, gold and minerals. New embassies and air routes are opening up. The continent’s new Chinese elite can be seen everywhere, shopping at their own expensive boutiques, driving Mercedes and BMW limousines, sending their children to exclusive private schools.

The pot-holed roads are cluttered with Chinese buses, taking people to markets filled with cheap Chinese goods. More than a thousand miles of new Chinese railroads are crisscrossing the continent, carrying billions of tons of illegally-logged timber, diamonds and gold.

The trains are linked to ports dotted around the coast, waiting to carry the goods back to Beijing after unloading cargoes of cheap toys made in China.

Confucius Institutes (state-funded Chinese ‘cultural centres’) have sprung up throughout Africa, as far afield as the tiny land-locked countries of Burundi and Rwanda, teaching baffled local people how to do business in Mandarin and Cantonese.

Massive dams are being built, flooding nature reserves. The land is scarred with giant Chinese mines, with ‘slave’ labourers paid less than £1 a day to extract ore and minerals.

Pristine forests are being destroyed, with China taking up to 70 per cent of all timber from Africa.

All over this great continent, the Chinese presence is swelling into a flood. Angola has its own ‘Chinatown’, as do great African cities such as Dar es Salaam and Nairobi.

Exclusive, gated compounds, serving only Chinese food, and where no blacks are allowed, are being built all over the continent. ‘African cloths’ sold in markets on the continent are now almost always imported, bearing the legend: ‘Made in China’.

From Nigeria in the north, to Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Angola in the west, across Chad and Sudan in the east, and south through Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, China has seized a vice-like grip on a continent which officials have decided is crucial to the superpower’s long-term survival.

‘The Chinese are all over the place,’ says Trevor Ncube, a prominent African businessman with publishing interests around the continent. ‘If the British were our masters yesterday, the Chinese have taken their place.’

Likened to one race deciding to adopt a new home on another planet, Beijing has launched its so-called ‘One China In Africa’ policy because of crippling pressure on its own natural resources in a country where the population has almost trebled from 500 million to 1.3 billion in 50 years.

China is hungry – for land, food and energy. While accounting for a fifth of the world’s population, its oil consumption has risen 35-fold in the past decade and Africa is now providing a third of it; imports of steel, copper and aluminium have also shot up, with Beijing devouring 80 per cent of world supplies.

Fuelling its own boom at home, China is also desperate for new markets to sell goods. And Africa, with non-existent health and safety rules to protect against shoddy and dangerous goods, is the perfect destination.

The result of China’s demand for raw materials and its sales of products to Africa is that turnover in trade between Africa and China has risen from £5million annually a decade ago to £6billion today.

However, there is a lethal price to pay. There is a sinister aspect to this invasion. Chinese-made war planes roar through the African sky, bombing opponents. Chinese-made assault rifles and grenades are being used to fuel countless murderous civil wars, often over the materials the Chinese are desperate to buy.

Take, for example, Zimbabwe. Recently, a giant container ship from China was due to deliver its cargo of three million rounds of AK-47 ammunition, 3,000 rocket-propelled grenades and 1,500 mortars to President Robert Mugabe’s regime.

After an international outcry, the vessel, the An Yue Jiang, was forced to return to China, despite Beijing’s insistence that the arms consignment was a ‘normal commercial deal’.

Indeed, the 77-ton arms shipment would have been small beer – a fraction of China’s help to Mugabe. He already has high-tech, Chinese-built helicopter gunships and fighter jets to use against his people.

Ever since the U.S. and Britain imposed sanctions in 2003, Mugabe has courted the Chinese, offering mining concessions for arms and currency.

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Germans give Obama rock star welcome in Berlin

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama waves to the crowd of 200,000 after making a speech in front of the Victory Column (Siegessaeule) in Berlin July 24, 2008. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz

Reuters | Jul 24, 2008

By Kerstin Gehmlich

BERLIN (Reuters) – Barack Obama got rock star treatment from hundreds of thousands of adoring Germans on Thursday, who climbed lamp posts to get a glimpse of the U.S. candidate they would like to vote for but can’t.

“He’s a pop star politician. Germany doesn’t have any of those,” said student Johannes Ellendorf, one of more than 200,000 people listening to Obama’s speech in the centre of Berlin.

Waves of applause roared through the wide boulevard linking the Brandenburg Gate with the Victory Column, as Obama told Berliners the United States and Europe had to stand together and be partners who listened to each other.

Relations between Germany and the United States cooled over the invasion of Iraq, and many Germans said they hoped for a renewal in ties under a possible new U.S. president.

“I was really struck by his message for peace — that we shouldn’t just focus on every single conflict between Germany and the United States but look at our shared responsibility,” said 40-year-old Matthias Bauschulte.

Watching the crowds, 65-year-old Hans-Gerd Stoever said the excited atmosphere reminded him of the scene in 1963, when he watched U.S. President John F. Kennedy tell a cheering crowd “Ich bin ein Berliner” (I am a Berliner).

“The streets were so crowded then, everybody was full of expectations — like now,” the white-haired Stoever said.

“But it’s a completely different situation today. We live in a different world. And Obama has to walk his own way,” he said.

Continued…