Posts Tagged ‘news’

US cites China, Russia for failing to protect intellectual property

April 25, 2008

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States on Friday named China and Russia as among the worst offenders for failing to protect US intellectual property rights and allowing counterfeit goods to flourish.
In an annual report on intellectual property rights protection, the US Trade Representative’s office voiced continuing concern about China and Russia’s respect of US patents and copyrights.

The Special 301 Report, named after the section of US law on which it is based, spotlights “one of the central challenges facing the global economy,” USTR Susan Schwab said.

The report said US authorities still see “serious” concerns with respect to China and Russia, in spite of some evidence of improvement in both countries.

“Pirates and counterfeiters don’t just steal ideas; they steal jobs, and too often they threaten our health and safety,” Schwab said.

Schwab’s office announced it would once again retain China on its priority watch list and continue monitoring China under Section 306 of the 1974 Trade Act in a bid to maintain pressure on China to improve its intellectual property rights (IPR) situation.

“While the United States continues to seek cooperative channels to work with China to strengthen that country’s IPR regime, high levels of copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting remain serious concerns,” the USTR said.

Meanwhile, the federal government is also using the World Trade Organization’s dispute settlement process “to address a number of specific deficiencies in China’s IPR regime,” the statement said.

The USTR said the Bush administration continues to work for improvements to Russia’s IPR regime, and some progress has been made, for example in the raiding of unlicensed factories.

It noted, however, that large-scale production and distribution of IP-infringing optical media and Internet piracy in Russia “remain significant problems that require more enforcement action.”

The Special 301 Report covers 46 countries.


Food Shortages, Global Hunger Pushing Nations

April 19, 2008

By David R. Sands
The Washington Times
April 19, 2008
China next week is doubling taxes on fertilizer exports to ensure supplies for domestic farmers. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak ordered the army to start baking bread after deadly riots broke out in lines people waiting for food. Oil-rich Libya is discussing a deal to essentially rent a chunk of land-rich Ukraine on which it can grow its own wheat.
With food and fuel prices soaring, the world’s haves and have-nots are not waiting for the free market or global institutions such as the World Bank to make sure their people have enough to eat.

A soldier delivers a bag containing food supplies to a man as ...
A soldier delivers a bag containing food supplies to a man as part of a government aid program in a shanty town on the outskirts of Lima early April 16, 2008.(Enrique Castro-Mendivil/Reuters)
“A lot of countries are in trouble right now,” said Lester Brown, veteran environmentalist and president of the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute. “We’re seeing various efforts made by countries to ensure they have the food inputs they need.”
Soaring prices for wheat, rice, corn, palm oils and other staples have sparked food riots and reports of hoarding on four continents. Haitian Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis was forced to step down last week because of violence linked to higher food costs, and U.N. and World Bank officials warn that more unrest is likely.
A Somali women carries a sack of food aid on her head to her ...
A Somali women carries a sack of food aid on her head to her makeshift home on the road along the Juba river in southern Somalia near the village of Jamame December 6, 2006. A cholera outbreak in Kenya has killed 67 people so far this year, while a fungus has wiped out up to 20 percent of the country’s annual rice production, United Nations agencies said on Friday.REUTERS/Stephen Morrison/Pool

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Taiwan president urges Pope to condemn China’s crackdown in Tibet

April 18, 2008

Asia World News

Taipei – Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian on Friday at a reception at the Vatican embassy in Taipei urged Pope Benedict XVI to condemn China’s crackdown in Tibet. “China’s bloody crackdown on Tibetan people last month has shocked the world. Hereby I would like to call on His Holiness the Pope to condemn violence, and to encourage the search for a solution with the aim of protecting peace,” Chen said at the event to mark the third anniversary of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s becoming the Pope.

Chen Shui-bian
Chen Shui-bian

“I would also urge China to improve human rights and protect freedom of religious belief, to remove missiles against Taiwan, and ensure cross-straits peace and regional stability,” he said.

Crisis: Soldiers, Marines Returning from War with Mental Health Issues

April 18, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
Soldiers and Marines are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with mental health issues at an alarming rate.

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, as many as 1 in 5 U.S. Soldiers and Marines returning from the war are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Unfortunately, we at Peace and Freedom believe that the numbers will eventually exceed the GAO estimate.

We got interested in PTSD in the winter of 2006-2007 when visiting the mental health ward of the Veterans Administration Hospital in Washington DC with a friend. Every man in the waiting area had a story. Most served in Vietnam but my friend served in Korea.  All had PTSD.

After researching, we ended up with so much information collected from doctors, nurses and sufferers that I wrote a five article series on PTSD.

In February I wrote, “The VA vastly underestimated the number of PTSD cases it expected to see in 2006, predicting it would see 2,900 cases. As of June 2006, the VA had seen more than 34,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans for PTSD.”

In other words, the VA put a target on the barn then missed the barn and the state it was in.

Now the GAO says there may be 300,000 PTSD cases among the Soldiers and Marines returning from the war.

That may still be underestimated.


First: many soldiers have a “macho man” self estimate and refuse to admit that they need treatment.  We have hundreds of email from military families asking how they should deal with a “macho man” who is showing signs of PTSD, depression, drug and alcohol abuse and other mental health disorders that are probably war related.

Second: the costs of treatment could be staggering and long term.

And third: Many PTSD sufferers don’t appear in the medical system until years or even decades later after masking their symptoms with alcohol and drugs.

We have great respect for the GAO and the U.S. military.  Yet we believe the PTSD problem in the U.S. military to be catastrophic and still under estimated. 

We hope the issue of PTSD and all its variations including depression, alcoholism and drug abuse is tackled honestly and well by the United States.


War Wounds of the Mind Part VI: Half of Soldiers, Marines Returning With PTSD — Red Alert

Read Part I at:

Read Part II at:

War Wounds of the Mind Part III: The Commanders

War Wounds of The Mind Part IV: A Warning About Troops Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan

In God’s Hands Now: The Passing of a Stateless Soldier and a Good Man

Restive Muslims face China’s heavy hand

April 14, 2008

By Tim Johnson, McClatchy Newspapers

KHOTAN, China — Almost unnoticed amid the wide-scale protests by Tibetans over the past month is the opportunistic social unrest among the 8 million or so Muslim Uighurs in China‘s resource-rich far western territory.
Recently, hundreds of Muslim women in black veils gathered outside the market in this oasis city in an impromptu protest. Some carried signs demanding an independent state.

“I saw the demonstration myself. There were 500 to 700 women in black, waving placards for East Turkestan,” said Wu Jiangliang, a hydroelectric company employee.

China handled the unrest forcefully, ensuring the stability of a region rich in oil, coal and minerals. Police moved quickly to quell the March 23…

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A fishing boat returns at sunset to the ancient port city of ... 
A fishing boat returns at sunset to the ancient port city of Xiamen in China’s eastern Fujian province. Weekend talks between Chinese President Hu Jintao and Taiwan’s vice president-elect have started to “thaw the ice” in ties between the rivals, the island’s incoming president Ma Ying-jeou has said.
(AFP/File/Chai Hin Goh)

Bush celebrates NATO’s expansion

April 5, 2008

By MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press

ZAGREB, Croatia – President Bush celebrated NATO‘s expansion into former communist territory on Saturday and urged further enlargement, highlighting differences with Moscow hours before final talks with outgoing Russian President Vladimir Putin.

US President George W. Bush speaks at St. Mark's Square, Saturday, ...
US President George W. Bush speaks at St. Mark’s Square, Saturday, April 5, 2008 in Zagreb, Croatia .(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Bush congratulated the Eastern European nations of Croatia and Albania for the invitations to join NATO they won a day earlier at the military alliance’s summit in Bucharest, Romania. He urged a similar welcome for Macedonia, which snagged on Greek objections. The president was reinforcing that message immediately after his speech in a public square here by honoring the newest members of NATO’s club over lunch.

Bush called the invitation to join NATO “a vote of confidence that you will continue to make necessary reforms and become strong contributors to our great alliance.”

“Henceforth, should any danger threaten your people, America and the NATO alliance will stand with you and no one will be able to take your freedom away,” he said to cheers from an audience of thousands packed into St. Mark’s Square, used as the site of the inauguration of every Croatian leader for the past 700 years and considered “the center of Croatian politics.”

Such praise for the spread of democracy on Russia‘s doorstep — and for the promise of Western military protection for that freedom — was not likely to be cheered in Moscow, however. Bush’s focus on freedom comes as his administration continues to harshly criticize increasing Kremlin authoritarianism.

So, even as Bush has sought in recent days to downplay tensions between the United States and Russia, he used his overnight stay in Croatia, as well as one in the former Soviet republic of Ukraine earlier in his weeklong trip, to showcase some of the differences that have caused those tensions.

By evening Saturday, Bush was to be at Putin’s summer home at the Black Sea resort of Sochi. The two are to cap an often contentious seven-year relationship that will come to end when Putin leaves office next month. They hope to produce a new “strategic framework” to guide relations to a less rocky future beyond their time in office.

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Huge job losses set off recession alarms

April 5, 2008

By JEANNINE AVERSA, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON – It’s no longer a question of recession or not. Now it’s how deep and how long. Workers’ pink slips stacked ever higher in March as jittery employers slashed 80,000 jobs, the most in five years, and the national unemployment rate climbed to 5.1 percent. Job losses are nearing the staggering level of a quarter-million this year in just three months.
For the third month in a row total U.S. employment rolls shrank — often a telltale sign that the economy has jolted dangerously into reverse.

At the same time, the jobless rate rose three-tenths of a percentage point, a sharp increase usually associated with times of deep economic stress.

The grim picture described by the Labor Department on Friday provided stark evidence of just how much the jobs market has buckled under the weight of the housing, credit and financial crises. Businesses and jobseekers alike are feeling the pain.

“It is now very clear that the fat lady has sung for the economic expansion. The country has slipped into a recession,” said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group. Indeed, there is widening agreement that the first recession since 2001 has arrived. Even Ben Bernanke, in a rare public utterance for a Federal Reserve chairman, used the “r” word, acknowledging for the first time this week that a recession was possible.

Job losses were widespread last month, hitting workers at factories, construction companies, retailers, banks, real-estate firms and even temporary-help agencies. Also mortgage brokers, hotels, computer design shops, accounting firms, architecture and engineering companies, legal services, airlines and other transportation as well as telecommunications companies.

Those cuts swamped employment gains elsewhere, including at hospitals and other heath-care sites, educational services, child day-care providers, bars and restaurants, insurance companies, museums, zoos and parks. And the government, which is almost always up.

In fact, private employers have shed jobs for four straight months, though December showed an overall gain for the economy because the government increase outweighed the private loss.

March’s losses were the most since the same month in 2003, when companies were still struggling to recover from the last recession. Adding to the angst: Revised figures showed losses were actually deeper than first reported for both January and February.

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The Changing Bookstore Battle

April 5, 2008

 By Michael S. Rosenwald
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 5, 2008; Page D01 

Barbara Meade could not resist a little schadenfreude. After the Borders bookstore chain announced recently that it was exploring “strategic alternatives” — corporate lingo for “there’s trouble” — the co-owner of the independent store Politics and Prose, which has held on against the chain’s cost-cutting competition, took note in her online newsletter.

“We have never been tempted by the allure of corporate imperialism — invading new book markets, slashing prices, demolishing the competition, and then back to business as usual, poor inventory and poor customer service,” Meade wrote, reporting that “Borders announced a shift in direction from selling books to selling the whole business.”

While it is tempting to marvel at, or even gloat about, the potential demise of a tough competitor, analysts and publishing industry executives say Borders’s troubles are emblematic of an ironic shift in book selling. Large corporate booksellers, once an enemy of the little guy, now have enemies of their own: and big-box retailers like Costco and Target are taking on Borders with even deeper discounts than the chains used against the independents.

“It’s only a matter of time before the independents and chains realize they are actually in the battle with them as opposed to each other,” said Michael Norris, a book industry analyst for Simba Information, a media market-research firm.

Costco, Target, Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club aren’t just moving in for the kill with big discounts on the latest Stephen King or John Grisham page-turners. They are also engaging the culturally connected, targeting readers who delight in cocktail or book-club conversation about the latest titles. About 34 percent of book buyers made purchases at such locations last year, according to the Simmons National Consumer Survey.

Last week, Costco in Gaithersburg was selling Jhumpa Lahiri‘s new short-story collection, as well as a new novel by Richard Price, a book on economics by Jeffrey Sachs, and a 688-page tome on the bin Laden family by former Washington Post managing editor Steve Coll. Target in Germantown was also carrying Lahiri’s book, as well as a novel by Sue Miller and a short-story collection from Margaret Atwood. Germantown’s Wal-Mart was carrying Cormac McCarthy‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Road.”

In most cases, the list prices at the big-box retailers — without coupons or other discounts — were lower than at Borders and the District’s Politics and Prose. “The small mom-and-pop booksellers have some allies now in that they are all probably going to be squeezed from a pricing perspective,” said Michael Souers, a Standard & Poor’s analyst who tracks Borders.

Making matters worse for stores that depend on book sales, fewer Americans are buying books. About 56 percent of adults bought books last year, down from 61 percent in 2002, according to Simmons.

It’s difficult to know just how many books the big-box retailers are selling because they generally don’t report such specific figures. Borders declined to comment on its troubles, but its executives have acknowledged that big-box retailers were eating into their business. The company has also been hurt because it has not operated its own sales Web site, as Barnes & Noble does. Borders’s net income was $131.9 million in 2004 and $101 million in 2005, but it lost more than $300 million in the past two years. The company recently agreed to borrow $42.5 million from a hedge fund to fund…

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40 years later, Vietnam vet to get medal

April 5, 2008

By FRANK ELTMAN, Associated Press Writer

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. – An Air Force veteran wounded in a helicopter rescue mission during the Vietnam War is being awarded one of the military’s highest honors more than 40 years after the battle.

Retired Chief Master Sgt. Dennis M. Richardson will receive the Air Force Cross in a ceremony Saturday at the 106th Rescue Wing Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach, becoming only the 21st airman to receive the medal since it was created nearly a half-century ago.

It is the military’s second-highest combat decoration, behind only the Medal of Honor, Air Force officials said.

“I’m a little embarrassed about it,” Richardson said. “I really don’t think I deserve it.”

An Air Force board determined in December 2007 that a mistake had been made back in 1968, when Richardson should have received the honor, but it would not cite specifics.

Richardson said he has never been told why he didn’t receive the honor decades ago. “I’m not annoyed. I suppose everything happens for a reason.”

A flight engineer aboard a rescue helicopter on March 14, 1968, Richardson was part of a team trying to rescue two Air Force pilots who had been shot down and were surrounded by enemy troops along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Under heavy fire, and hovering 10 feet above the ground, an already wounded Richardson leaned outside the helicopter door, holding a “jungle penetrator” in one hand and his M-60 machine gun in the other. He provided enough cover for the helicopter pilot to maneuver out of the danger zone.

A jungle penetrator is a device meant to be lowered through dense canopy for a downed airman to be lifted to an aircraft hovering above.

“The selfless actions of Sgt. Richardson undoubtedly saved his helicopter and crew from certain disaster,” says a citation awarding the Air Force Cross.

Richardson, who lives in Amityville with his wife, Dierdre, said he learned that one of the pilots his crew attempted to rescue was killed by enemy fire and that the other was later rescued by another crew.

After leaving the Air Force, Richardson worked briefly for Xerox Corp. before joining the New York Air National Guard. He served with the 106th Rescue Wing at Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach until his retirement in 2005.


Richardson’s citation reads that: “on that date, Sgt. Richardson flew two sorties in an effort to rescue United States Air Force pilots who were surrounded by enemy troops along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. During the initial rescue attempt another helicopter had been driven off and Sgt. Richardson’s helicopter had itself sustained significant battle damage. Despite the situation, and with complete disregard for their own safety, Sgt. Richardson and his crew elected to return and make a second rescue attempt. Coming to a hover 10 feet above the survivor’s position, Sgt. Richardson stood fully exposed in the helicopter door and began lowering the jungle penetrator with one hand while gripping his M-60 machine gun with the other. Unknown to anyone, the enemy had occupied the area but held their fire, waiting to ambush the helicopter. Suddenly intense fire erupted from all quadrants, resulting in additional damage to “Jolly Green 22” and wounding Sgt. Richardson. In an extraordinary display of courage and valor, Richardson, despite his wounds, leaned far outside the door and neutralized charging enemy combatants who appeared intent on boarding the helicopter. Richardson continued to lay down an effective blanket of defensive fire which enabled the pilot to maneuver safely out of the area. The selfless actions of Sgt. Richardson undoubtedly saved his helicopter and crew from certain disaster.

Biography for Retired Chief Master Sergeant Dennis M. Richardson

After graduating from Newton High School in 1964 in Elmhurst, New York, Chief Master Sgt. Richardson enlisted in the United States Air Force. After completing basic training at Lackland Air Force Base (AFB), Chief Richardson began training as a Helicopter Crew Chief. After completing his schooling in early 1965 he reported to Minot AFB, North Dakota for his first assignment as a UH-1 Helicopter Crew Chief. In July of 1966, Chief Richardson was sent on a temporary tour of duty at Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai AFB in Thailand.

Attached to the 606th Air Commando Squadron, Chief Richardson assisted the Royal Thai Rangers in Operation Lucky Tiger. Upon completion of his tour he returned to Minot AFB where he transitioned into the Flight Engineer career field. After completing his Flight Engineer training he had a brief stop at the Philippines for jungle survival training and again returned to Southeast Asia.

His next assignment found him attached to the 37th Jolly Greens, Air Rescue and Recovery Squadron located at DaNang AFB, South Vietnam, as a HH-3E Flight Engineer. Chief Richardson was a seasoned combat proven Flight Engineer with numerous combat saves under his belt. In the spring of 1968, Chief Richardson received orders to go to Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota. Upon return to the United States, fulfilling his commitment with the Air Force, he returned to civilian life to start a career with the Xerox Corporation and start a family with his wife Deidre O’Brian.

After seven years of separation from the military, Chief Richardson selected to again serve his country; in 1975 he enlisted in the 106th Rescue Wing at Francis S. Gabreski Airport, New York Air National Guard, Westhampton Beach, New York. Over the next nine years he served as a Crew Chief on HH-3E Helicopters and then in 1984, much like the beginning of his career, he transitioned to the Flight Engineer section, serving there until his retirement in December of 2005.

His other military decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross (with V Device for valor), the Purple Heart, the Air Medal (w/ two Devices), the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Aerial Achievement Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal and Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.

Chief Richardson and his wife Deidre have been married for thirty eight years and have five children.

China to “Re-Educate” Tibetans

April 5, 2008

By Karl Malakunas 

BEIJING (AFP) – China warned on Saturday it would step up a controversial “re-education” campaign for Tibetans after a fresh protest showed a huge security crackdown had failed to extinguish nearly one month of unrest.

Chinese paramilitary forces on patrol in Lijiang, Yunnan province, ...
Chinese paramilitary forces on patrol in Lijiang, Yunnan province, in March 2008. China warned on Saturday it would step up a controversial “re-education” campaign for Tibetans after a fresh protest showed a huge security crackdown had failed to extinguish nearly one month of unrest.(AFP/File/Frederic J. Brown)

The statement in the state-run Tibet Daily newspaper called for Buddhist monks to become Chinese patriots, but activist groups said the heavy-handed techniques already employed in the campaign were inflaming tensions.

Efforts by authorities to “re-educate” monks at a monastery in Sichuan province in southwest China led to protests there on Thursday in which at least eight Tibetans were killed, the activist groups said.

China’s communist rulers have been deeply angered and embarrassed over the Tibetan unrest, as it has overshadowed its preparations for the Beijing Olympics and shone a spotlight on a range of other human rights issues.

Tibetans have been protesting to express anger over what they say has been widespread repression suffered under nearly six decades of Chinese rule.

In Xinjiang, a Muslim-populated region of northwest China which neighbours Tibet, there have also been protests in recent days to express similar sentiments, although not on nearly the same scale as the Tibetan unrest.

The jailing of prominent Chinese dissident Hu Jia on Thursday for subversion added to concerns around the world that the human rights situation in China was getting worse instead of better ahead of the Games.

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