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 Post subject: Re: Failure - continued
PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:31 am 
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US apologizes for Afghanistan leaflets that offended Muslims
6 September 2017

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- A U.S. commander on Wednesday apologized for leaflets dropped in Afghanistan that were deemed offensive to Islam.

The leaflets dropped Monday night, which encouraged Afghans to cooperate with security forces, included an image of a dog carrying the Taliban flag, said Shah Wali Shahid, the deputy governor of Parwan province. The flag has Islamic verses inscribed on it, and dogs are seen as unclean in much of the Muslim world. "Local people are very upset with this incident, and they want the perpetrators brought to justice," Shahid said, adding that demonstrations were expected across the province.

Maj. Gen. James Linder apologized, acknowledging in a statement that "the design of the leaflets mistakenly contained an image highly offensive to both Muslims and the religion of Islam." He offered his "sincerest apologies for this error."

Throughout the 16-year Afghan war, U.S. forces have struggled to convince ordinary Afghans to help them defeat the Taliban. Afghanistan is a deeply conservative country, and alleged blasphemy has sparked riots.

Source: AP

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 Post subject: Re: Failure - continued
PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:17 am 
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Easy collar: Men accused of robbing bar during police party
August 31, 2017

BALTIMORE (AP) -- The police response time was quicker than ever.

Two men were arrested after police say they robbed a bar outside Baltimore while off-duty officers were there for a police retirement party. The Baltimore Sun reports the men allegedly demanded cash from the register at a Woodlawn bar Tuesday evening while a group of officers gathered for a longtime sergeant's retirement. The officers chased and arrested them.

Baltimore County police spokesman Cpl. Shawn Vinson says 21-year-old Joseph McInnis III and 22-year-old Tyree McCoy face armed robbery, theft and other charges. The Sun reports neither had an attorney listed in online court records. Monaghan's Pub owner says it's odd that someone would attempt a robbery because a precinct station is across the street. Vinson says the party was for David Neral who has been with the department since 1988.

Information from: The Baltimore Sun, http://www.baltimoresun.com
Source: AP

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 Post subject: Re: Failure - continued
PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:20 am 
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More than 100 endangered pangolins seized in Thailand
31 August 2017

BANGKOK (AP) -- Thai customs officials have seized more than 100 live pangolins and 450 kilograms (990 pounds) of scales from the endangered animal in their latest action against illegal wildlife trafficking, the customs department chief said Thursday.

The animals and animal parts were found Wednesday in two pickup trucks after authorities received a tip that they had been smuggled from Malaysia, according to Customs Department Director-General Kulit Sombatsiri.

Pangolin scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine and contain keratin, a protein also found in rhino horn, though there is no scientific proof that they provide any medicinal value. Pangolin meat is considered a delicacy in Vietnam and some parts of China. Demand for pangolin scales and meat has led to rampant poaching that is decimating populations across Asia. More than 1 million pangolins have been poached in the past decade, threatening the creature with extinction, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

A U.N. wildlife conference last year approved a ban on trade in all eight species of Asian and African pangolins. In February, almost three tons of scales from endangered African pangolins, hidden in sacks, were seized at Bangkok's main airport. In May, seven tons of pangolin scales were confiscated in Hong Kong.

Kulit said his department has seized more than 2.9 tons of pangolin-related items this year worth more than 29 million baht ($870,000). He said 34 arrests involving the smuggling of illegal wildlife have been made this year, resulting in a total of 246 million baht ($7.4 million) worth of assets seized. The wildlife trade monitoring group TRAFFIC recently expressed concern that Malaysia appears to be a transit point for the illegal trade of pangolins and ivory, with traffickers routinely moving their contraband through Malaysia.

Source: AP

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 Post subject: Re: Failure - continued
PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:24 am 
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2 dead as Mexico City bandits fight over right to rob bus
31 August 2017

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Armed thieves frequently board buses to rob passengers in Mexico City and its suburbs.

But the robberies hit a new high - or low - when three began to work over the same bus simultaneously and got into a gun fight among themselves. Two young men were robbing passengers in the back of the bus when they noticed an older thief robbing those up front. They opened fire on each other as horrified passengers watched.

The Mexico City prosecutor's office said Wednesday that the older robber died aboard the bus. A pistol was found next to his body. One of the younger bandits died of gunshot wounds at a hospital. The other was arrested.

Source: AP

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 Post subject: Re: Failure - continued
PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:30 pm 
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Woman took taxi home after robbing bank
September 13, 2017

OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (AP) -- A Mississippi woman accused of robbing a bank and fleeing in a taxi has been arrested.

News outlets report 35-year-old Dominique R. Spears was arrested at her apartment after a Yellow Cab driver told police that he picked her up at a Wells Fargo Bank on Tuesday.

Ocean Springs police Capt. William Jackson says the robbery was reported at 10:51 a.m. Responding officers received information that the suspect had left the scene in a taxicab. A traffic officer followed the taxi and witnessed the driver drop off Spears at the Reserve Apartments about 3 miles from the bank. Police arrested Spears on a robbery charge. It's unclear if she has a lawyer.

Source: AP

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 Post subject: Re: Failure - continued
PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:40 pm 
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Man nabbed trying to rob just-burglarized restaurant
September 13, 2017

COVINA, Calif. (AP) -- Police say a man with a knife tried to rob a Southern California pizza restaurant just a few hours after burglars had already stolen from it.

Covina police Lt. Trevor Gaumer tells the San Gabriel Valley Tribune that burglars broke into Pizza Chalet on Tuesday and made off with $1,500.

As the owner was cleaning up after the burglary less than three hours later, the knife-wielding man walked in and demanded money. The owner flagged down an officer providing extra patrol help. Gaumer says the suspect, 19-year-old Ernest Ramirez, didn't listen to the officer's order to give himself up, and fought with arriving officers briefly until he was subdued. Gaumer says Ramirez was treated for minor injuries.

Information from: San Gabriel Valley Tribune.
Source: AP

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 Post subject: Re: Failure - continued
PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 10:47 am 
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Uproar in Turkey over removing evolution from biology class
By ZEYNEP BILGINSOY
17 September 2017

ISTANBUL (AP) -- Students in Turkey are returning to school Monday where they will be taught evolution for the last time in their biology classes. Next fall, evolution and Charles Darwin will be scrapped from their textbooks.

Turkey has announced an overhaul of more than 170 topics in the country's school curriculum, including removing all direct references to evolution from high school biology classes. The upcoming changes have caused uproar, with critics calling them a reshaping of education along the conservative, Islam-oriented government's line. Opposition parties and unions have organized protests against the changes, demanding that Turkey provide a scientific, secular education for its students. Lawmakers have also opposed the new curriculum in parliament.

Education Minister Ismet Yilmaz said the new "value-based" program had simplified topics in "harmonization with students' development." He said evolutionary biology, which his ministry deemed was too advanced for high school, would still be taught in universities.

Evolution has been taught in 12th-grade biology classes in a chapter called "The Beginning of Life and Evolution." The unit will be replaced by "Living Beings and the Environment" in September 2018 where evolutionary mechanisms like adaptation, mutation and natural and artificial selection will be taught without a mention of evolution or Darwin. Yilmaz said students would learn the nature of being, including "evolution and other ontological opinions" in 11th-grade philosophy.

Other contentious changes include teaching about jihad or holy war in religion classes as the "love of homeland," and a lessened emphasis on Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish republic who is revered by Turkey's secularists. Ataturk instituted the separation of state and religion, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's party has challenged that strict split with a more religious approach. Students will also learn about the groups that Turkey is fighting: the Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK, the Islamic State group and the network of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Turkey's education system is already reeling from the trauma of the failed July 15, 2016 coup attempt - and the new scholastic program highlights that government victory as "a legendary, heroic story." More than 33,000 of the nation's teachers - about 4 percent - have been purged in a government crackdown after the coup, nearly 5,600 academics have been dismissed and some 880 schools shuttered for alleged links to terror groups. Many who lost their jobs say the government is using the failed coup as a way to silence its critics. Turkey blames Gulen for orchestrating the coup, which he denies.

The belief in creationism - that life originated and changed through divine creation - is widespread in Turkey. Many educators are worried because Turkish students are already globally ranked "below average" in science, mathematics and reading compared to their peers across the world, according the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Mehmet Somel, the head of the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Society of Turkey, says Turkish students will be unable to understand even basic science if their studies make no direct reference to evolution. "We won't be able to produce good doctors, good scientists, when students graduate from high school with this level of ignorance," Somel said. Studying evolution allows future doctors to see the causal link between, for example, resistant strains of microbes and excessive antibiotic use, he said.

Cagri Mert Bakirci, a biologist who founded an online learning project called the "Tree of Evolution," calls the ministry's claim that evolution is too difficult for Turkish students an "insult" to them and their teachers. His volunteer project reaches nearly 8 million people each week over Facebook with videos and articles. "I can explain evolution in 10 seconds," he said. The two biologists say evolution was never adequately taught in Turkish public schools in the first place. But Somel says the mention of evolution in past programs at least meant that teachers could introduce the topic.

Orkide Kuleli, a retired pharmaceutical professional, said her 15-year-old daughter will now have to learn about Darwin by herself. She was worried, however, about a more insidious change that she says is taking place in Turkey's education system. "The goal is to transform society politically and ideologically rather than develop it through science," she said. "A generation that does not question is one that blindly obeys." Erdogan has repeatedly voiced his desire for a "devout generation." Previous changes to the education system have included an increase in public schools providing religious studies and more elective classes on Islam.

The new curriculum will be rolled out in steps and assessed. This year, students in first, fifth and ninth grades will use the updated program. Other classes, including the changed biology program, will be fully integrated next fall. The education minister has called the uproar on evolution "partisan," arguing that the new curriculum had been open to input. The head of Turkey's education board, Alpaslan Durmus, insisted it was "utterly ignorant" to say evolution has been scrapped when its mechanisms are still being taught.

Latif Selvi of the pro-government Educators Trade Union, which was involved in drafting the changes, also called the widespread criticism of the plan "ideologically motivated." "My opinion, based on an evaluation with evolutionary teachers, is that this change is positive," Selvi said.

Somel, the biologist, believes that self-censorship may be at work rather than a top-down decision to toss out evolution entirely. "There is serious fear in universities and in the ministry of education that one may be pushed out, and evolution has become one of those scary themes," he said. He said Turkish academics now avoid using the word evolution in project proposals even while studying evolutionary topics. This spring, the Museum of Natural History in the capital of Ankara put new stickers on posters changing the word "evolution" to "development."

Bakirci said hundreds of experts in Turkey would be willing to help the government improve the country's science education. "It's not too late to take a step back from this mistake," he warned.

Source: AP

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 Post subject: Re: Failure - continued
PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:06 pm 
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3 bank customers in Germany fined for ignoring collapsed man
18 September 2017

BERLIN (AP) -- A German court has fined three bank customers for failing to help an elderly man who collapsed in a bank branch and later died.

The Essen district court handed the defendants, a woman and two men, fines ranging from 2,400 to 3,600 euros ($2,865 to $4,300).

Police said surveillance camera footage showed four people walking past or over him as he lay on the floor. The fourth person faces separate proceedings.

The 83-year-old man collapsed as he used a banking terminal on a public holiday last October. Only after about 20 minutes did another customer call emergency services. The man was taken to a hospital but died a few days later.

Source: AP

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 Post subject: Re: Failure - continued
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 3:14 pm 
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‘Nothing, nothing.’ Aid lags in hurricane-torn Puerto Rico
By BEN FOX and DANICA COTO
September 27, 2017

MONTEBELLO, Puerto Rico (AP) — Relatives helped Maribel Valentin Espino find shelter when Hurricane Maria roared through her community in northern Puerto Rico. Neighbors formed volunteer brigades to cut fallen trees and clear twisty mountain roads after the storm had passed. Now, friends and a local cattle ranch provide the water they need to survive in the tropical heat.

Valentin and her husband say they have not seen anyone from the Puerto Rican government, much less the Federal Emergency Management Agency, since the storm tore up the island Sept. 20, killing at least 16 people and leaving nearly all 3.4 million people in Puerto Rico without power and most without water. “People say FEMA is going to help us,” Valentin said Tuesday as she showed Associated Press journalists around the sodden wreckage of her home. “We’re waiting.”

Many others are also waiting for help from anyone from the federal or Puerto Rican government. But the scope of the devastation is so broad, and the relief effort so concentrated in San Juan, that many people from outside the capital say they have received little to no help.

Valentin, her husband and teenage son live in one such area, Montebello, a 20-minute drive into what used to be lushly forested mountains near the northern coastal municipality of Manati. Hurricane Maria’s Category 4 winds stripped the trees bare and scattered them like matchsticks. “It seemed like a monster,” she recalled. The roads are passable now but the community is still isolated. “Nobody has visited, not from the government, not from the city, no one,” said Antonio Velez, a 64-year-old who has lived there his entire life.

The same complaint echoed throughout the southeast coastal town of Yabucoa, the first town Maria hit as it barreled across the island with 155 mph winds. “Nothing, nothing, nothing,” said 58-year-old retiree Angel Luis Rodriguez. “I’ve lost everything, and no one has shown up to see if anyone lives here.”

At a nearby river, dozens of people gathered to bathe and wash clothes as they grumbled about the lack of aid. “There’s been no help from the mayor or from the federal government,” said 64-year-old retiree Maria Rodriguez as she held a coconut in her right hand and took sips from it. “After Georges hit us (in 1998), they responded quickly. But now? Nothing. We need water and food.”

Nearby, one girl engaged in a thumb war with a friend as she filled an empty water bottle with her other hand. Downstream, a woman sat cross-legged in the water behind a friend and helped wash her hair.

The recovery in the first week since the storm has largely been a do-it-yourself affair. People collect water from wells and streams, clear roads and repair their own homes when they are not waiting in daylong lines for gasoline and diesel. For most, the only visible sign of authority are police officers directing traffic, a critical service because traffic lights are out across the island.

“I have seen a lot of helicopters go by. I assume those are people from FEMA,” said Jesus Argilagos, who lives in Manati and works at a grocery store that is only open part of the day because of the power crisis. “People get pissed off because they see them going back and forth and not doing anything.”

There are several thousand U.S. federal employees in Puerto Rico helping with the recovery effort. They are most visible in San Juan, where officials with FEMA, Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection have a presence at hotels that before the storm served tourists in the Condado neighborhood or at the convention center that has become a staging ground for relief efforts.

Federal workers supplied diesel to generators at hospitals and delivered desperately needed food and water to hard-hit communities across the island. They have repaired the air traffic control systems and power at the airport, which is far from normal operations with only about a dozen commercial flights per day. U.S. agents have also provided security across the island and the Coast Guard has worked with local authorities to restore the sea ports, a vital link because Puerto Rico is almost completely dependent on imports.

In addition, teams from the Army Corps of Engineers are helping to repair the electricity grid and to inspect and look for ways to avert the collapse of a dam near the western town of Quebradillas that has developed a crack and that officials have said could potentially fail. And personnel from Health and Human Services, the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs have provided care and helped evacuate people from Puerto Rico with chronic medical conditions.

Teams also were scheduled to visit the central mountain town of Aibonito, which was cut off from the rest of the island for five days. Many people began rationing their food and water supplies as they dwindled, unclear of when they would have contact with the outside world. “We thought somebody was going to stop by,” said Ana Lidia Mendoza, a 48-year-old cook at a barbecue restaurant who lost part of her roof. “They told us that we had to stay calm.”

Gov. Ricardo Rossello and Resident Commissioner Jennifer Gonzalez, the island’s representative in Congress, have said they intend to seek more than a billion dollars in federal assistance and they have praised the response to the disaster by President Donald Trump, who plans to visit Puerto Rico next week, as well as FEMA Administrator Brock Long. “I am confident that they understand the seriousness of the situation,” the governor said Tuesday.

Still, it is hard to avoid the fact that the response looks different than previous ones. After hurricanes in Louisiana, Texas and Florida, waves of power company trucks from other states descended in long convoys, something that is obviously not possible on an island 1,000 miles to the southeast of the mainland. After the devastating earthquake in Haiti in January 2010, the U.S. military sent ships and the skies seemed to be filled with heavy-lift helicopters and planes carrying emergency relief, though the scale of that disaster was far worse.

Hurricane Maria was the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in nearly 100 years and officials say the cost of recovery will dwarf that of the punishing Hurricane Georges in 1998. Whatever the final bill, Valentin just hopes it will factor in people like her. “If FEMA helps us, we are going to build again,” she said.

Source: AP

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 Post subject: Re: Failure - continued
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 3:46 pm 
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Italian police find elderly bound to chairs in home for aged
27 September 2017

ROME (AP) — Italian police have removed a priest who ran a home for the elderly after residents were found with their arms and legs bound to chairs, beds and sofas to prevent them from moving about freely.

Undercover video provided by police Wednesday showed one resident of the “San Camillo” home for the elderly in Forli, near Bologna, hoisting up an armchair he was tied to so he could move. Forli Commander Mario Paternoster said about 30 people lived in the home, and a half-dozen were regularly bound. Police said the measures were apparently used because the home didn’t have enough staff.

Police ordered the suspension of the 60-year-old priest and his assistant on accusations of elderly abuse, and named a new director “to guarantee proper and dignified assistance for the patients.”

Source: AP

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 Post subject: Re: Failure - continued
PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 7:53 pm 
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Anger grows over Puerto Rico relief effort
by Leila MACOR, with Chris LEFKOW in Washington
29 September 2017

SAN JUAN (AFP) - US military and emergency relief teams were ramping up their aid efforts for Puerto Rico on Friday amid growing criticism of the response to the hurricanes which ripped through the Caribbean island.

"This is not a good news story," San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz told CNN on Friday following comments made the previous day by a top Trump administration official. "This is a people-are-dying story."

President Donald Trump, who will travel to the US territory early next week, meanwhile defended the response to the disaster on the island, which has been virtually without power, water and telecommunications since getting a twin walloping from hurricanes Irma and Maria. Trump said the storms were of "historic and catastrophic severity" and a "massive federal mobilization" was underway involving over 10,000 federal personnel and 5,000 members of the US military.

Elaine Duke, the acting Homeland Security secretary, said Thursday she was "very satisfied" with how the relief effort was going so far and that it was "proceeding very well." "I know it is really a good news story in terms of our ability to reach people and the limited number of deaths that have taken place in such a devastating hurricane," Duke said.

Her remarks sparked the angry response from the mayor of San Juan, the capital of the island of 3.4 million people. "Maybe from where she's standing it's a good news story," Yulin Cruz said. "When you're drinking from a creek it's not a good news story."

"If you don't have food for a baby it's not a good news story. I'm sorry, but that really upsets me and frustrates me," Yulin Cruz said. "I would ask her to come down here and visit the towns and then make a statement like that, which frankly, is an irresponsible statement." Duke is to visit Puerto Rico on Friday.

Praised for the federal response to hurricanes in Texas and Florida, Trump has been on the defensive over his handling of the crisis in Puerto Rico, where he heads on Tuesday. He lauded the relief effort on Friday and said it has been complicated by the fact that the US territory is an island. "All appropriate departments of our government, from Homeland Security to Defense, are engaged fully in the disaster and the response and recovery effort," Trump said before delivering a speech in Washington to the National Association of Manufacturers. "This is an island surrounded by water, big water, ocean water," he said. "Virtually everything has been wiped out and we will have to really start all over again. We will not rest, however, until the people of Puerto Rico are safe," he said. "We want them to be safe and sound and secure and we will be there every day until that happens."

Trump on Thursday eased shipping restrictions on Puerto Rico to make it easier to deliver fuel and water supplies to the island. The US president waived for 10 days -- in response to a request from Puerto Rico's governor -- a 1920 law that restricts foreign-flagged ships from operating between US ports. He also tapped a three-star general to head the Pentagon's response to the disaster. As part of that effort, the USNS Comfort, a 1,000-bed hospital ship, was leaving the Virginia port of Norfolk on Friday for Puerto Rico.

Ricardo Ramos, the head of Puerto Rico's power authority, said Friday that electricity has been restored to just 4.5 percent of the population. Ramos told CNN that about 4,000 utility workers were trying to fix the power grid and 1,000 more were expected to arrive over the weekend from the US mainland. He said about 50 percent of the island's residents now have running water.

Source: AFP

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 Post subject: Re: Failure - continued
PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:50 pm 
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MEPs urged to probe Monsanto influence on research
5 October 2017

BRUSSELS (AFP) - A US firm pursuing a lawsuit against Monsanto is urging the European Parliament to examine its claims that the agro giant has hidden the dangers of its weedkiller, according to a letter obtained by AFP on Thursday.

The letter from the Los Angeles-based firm comes amid intensifying European Union debate over whether Brussels should renew in December the license for the weedkiller glyphosate for another 10 years. EU states have been deadlocked for more than a year over whether to declare that the chemical -- used in Monsanto's best-selling herbicide Roundup -- is safe.

The Baum-Hedlund-Aristei-Goldman firm sent a letter dated Wednesday with documents attached which it said bolstered its claims of "corporate malfeasance" by Monsanto. The letter charged that Monsanto has been "ghostwriting scientific literature designed to make glyphosate look safe, bullying scientists that publish anything negative about their billion-dollar product, and colluding with regulators to ensure 'positive' assessments." It urged the European Parliament to examine Monsanto's "relationship" with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which ruled earlier this year that glyphosate should not be classified as a carcinogen. The European Commission, the executive of the 28-nation EU, proposed after the EFSA ruling that the glyphosate license be renewed for 10 years.

The letter also urged the parliament to probe "Monsanto's sponsorship and implementation of ghostwritten scientific literature, specifically designed to influence European authorities." It asked the Parliament to examine other claims, including Monsanto's alleged "decisions to terminate studies showing much higher absorption rates of glyphosate than previously reported to the EU." The law firm represents gardeners, farmers, agricultural workers and their families in a lawsuit alleging that Roundup causes cancer.

The weedkiller deadlock in the EU has dragged on since June 2016, when its previous 15-year licence expired. EU states said then they were unable to make a decision, so the Commission gave a temporary 18-month renewal of glyphosate's licence while more scientific evidence was amassed. The European Parliament on Tuesday decided to deny access to Monsanto executives and lobbyists after the firm turned down an invitation to a hearing on October 11 over claims Monsanto influenced scientific research on glyphosate safety.

Monsanto maintains glyphosate "meets or exceeds all requirements for full renewal under European law and regulation" and charged the renewal procedure has in "many respects been hijacked by populism."

Source: AFP

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 Post subject: Re: Failure - continued
PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 5:25 am 
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Dutch ponder total flopball after World Cup failure
by Jan HENNOP
11 October 2017

THE HAGUE (AFP) - Dutch football fans are in mourning after the once mighty Oranje failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, plunging the inventors of "total football" into a collective bout of soul-searching.

Not even two goals from retiring legend Arjen Robben against Sweden could save the stuttering Dutch football machine, which now has the dubious distinction of failing to make it to two major football competitions in a row.

After Tuesday's match, Dutch captain and long-time workhorse Robben announced his retirement from the national team -- marking the end of an era which saw him and other top Dutch players such as Wesley Sneijder, Robin van Persie and Rafael van der Vaart threaten to win the sports' greatest prizes. Yet almost exactly two years ago to the day, Holland got their first nasty surprise when a 3-2 home defeat against a 10-man Czech Republic saw them fail to qualify for Euro 2016.

Tuesday evening the "melancholy atmosphere was complete: the 2018 World Cup in Russia will be without the Netherlands, the number two in 2010 and the number three in 2014", the authoritative daily De Volkskrant said.

"I am dying of shame because of the Dutch 11," wrote columnist Hugo Borst in the Algemeen Dagblad daily tabloid, adding the team has "lost its creativity and daring". "No other team in the universe is playing as wide and backwards as many times as the Dutch," he said. "Instead, the ball should be going hard, straight and forward, pure and simple. Playing wide and backwards are done by average footballers lacking self-confidence," said Borst.

Marco van der Heide, a former professional player at SC Cambuur and football commentator, agreed. "I think our biggest weakness lies at the tactical level," he told AFP. "There are extreme differences in how we are doing things here and how it's done outside the Netherlands," he said. "For instance, in the Netherlands we continue to defend by covering opposing players, while most other teams including smaller countries now use the principle of zonal defending. This means covering areas, rather than players, which makes a team less prone to leaving gaps in their defence for the opposition to exploit," Van der Heide said.

But old habits die hard, especially if you're from the country credited for coining the term "total football". Linked to Dutch legend Johan Cruyff, "total football" is the tactical philosophy where any outfield player can take the role of another player, thus allowing players to roam freely in different positions, so long as the overall formation is maintained. The tactic saw the Dutch reach two World Cup finals in succession in 1974 and 1978. "As Dutch supporters we have been spoilt by our achievements," said Van der Heide. "For such a small country the Netherlands has been achieving good results for so long that we thought we had all the knowledge."

As many Dutch coaches have left to take up overseas jobs, so Dutch tactics have also become known to other countries which were paying close attention. "Meanwhile, we took too little notice about what was going on (outside the Netherlands), what works," Van der Heide added. "Our way of playing football became too deeply rooted. What was good a decade ago may not necessarily be any good today."

Dutch media on Wednesday called for a "clean sweep" of Dutch football, to forget about Russia and start preparing to qualify for Euro 2020. "The Oranje must start anew, but with whom? It could still take years," the NRC daily newspaper said. Referring to Robben's announcement about retiring, the paper said: "Suddenly things turned very dark as Robben dims the lights on his international career." Van der Heide added: "It's clear that we don't have quality players at the moment. "But you can compensate for that, for instance by defending well."

Source: AFP

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 Post subject: Re: Failure - continued
PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 3:36 am 
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Rome stumps up more Alitalia cash, extends sale deadline
13 October 2017

ROME (AFP) - Struggling Italian carrier Alitalia received a boost Friday when Rome said it would add 300 million euros ($355 million) to a bridge loan package and extend its deadline for finding a buyer.

"The deadline for the procedure of ceding assets belonging to Alitalia and other societies of the group ... has been extended to April 30, 2018," the government said in a statement.

Alitalia, struggling to compete with low-cost rivals, went into administration at the start of May after staff rejected job and salary cuts as part of a two-billion-euro rescue plan. In May, Rome said it would provide a 600-million-euro loan to keep the carrier's planes in the air for around six months, staving off liquidation of the flagship airline. Those interested in making binding offers for the whole airline were initially given until October 2, then October 16 prior to Friday's move which Rome put down to market conditions.

Irish no-frills carrier Ryanair expressed early interest but two weeks ago said it was dropping the idea as it struggles with the fallout from thousands of cancellations of its own flights owing to a pilots' shortage. If no Alitalia buyer ultimately materialises, the administrators will wind up the airline.

Source: AFP

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 Post subject: Re: Failure - continued
PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 4:03 am 
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Fayre's not fair for Eastern Europeans
13 October 2017

BRATISLAVA (AFP) - Grumbling that their western neighbours enjoy better quality fayre, from chocolate to ketchup, eastern Europeans stepped up their campaign Friday for better food standards.

"This state of affairs is unacceptable for citizens," said Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico at a Bratislava summit attended by Czech, Hungarian and Polish counterparts to lament the issue of dual food quality. Outraged at detecting quality issues in products ranging from Coca Cola and fish fingers to Nutella chocolate spread, several eastern EU states had already slammed "food apartheid", prompting Brussels last month to promise a crackdown.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm and watchdog, has agreed to give member states one million euros ($1.1 million) to help improve tests for comparing products to detect quality differences. The Commission became involved after European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker declared that, by law, "there can be no second class consumers" in the EU and that "Slovaks do not deserve less fish in their fish fingers."

In February, Hungary's food safety authority had complained many food products sold with identical packaging and labeling were superior in neighbouring Austria. Nutella, for example, appeared "less creamy" than the Austrian version. "I will not have a peaceful conscience until unfair practices are completely eliminated from the internal market of the EU," Fico told Friday's Summit for Equal Quality of Products For All.

"The confidence of consumers in the European Union and its institutions is at stake, so it is our duty to come up with solutions," Slovak Agriculture Minister Gabriela Matecna said. Czech European consumer affairs commissioner, Vera Jourova, echoed those sentiments in highlighting the effect on consumer confidence in the EU single market.

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said dual food quality was something that "turns some Europeans into second class citizens." He said Prague wanted to amend an EU directive on unfair commercial practices, which currently "does not allow sufficient punishment for unfair practices."

Slovakia has completed two rounds of retail foodstuff testing. Out of 33 products bought in Slovakia and Austria, 14 displayed significant differences in their ingredients, according to the country's State Veterinary and Food Administration. "The results were even worse than in the first round," VFA head Jozef Bires said. For instance, some frozen pizzas of the same brand were found to contain less topping, more salt and less protein, Matecna said last week.

Similar issues arose testing washing powders. "The differences are quite high. According to the number of active substances, German washing powder is about 20 percent better than the Czech one," Jan Pivonka of the Prague University of Chemical Technology told journalists in July.

Source: AFP

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