09 July 2010

More milk tainted with deadly melamine

Chinese authorities have found dairy products in at least two provinces tainted with an industrial chemical that killed six babies and sickened thousands more in 2008, state media said on Friday.

The discovery suggests toxic milk remains a lingering danger in China despite a crackdown two years ago that saw dozens arrested and two people, a dairy farmer and a milk salesman, executed.

Some of the recently found milk was powder that state media said was likely stockpiled instead of being destroyed two years ago.

Melamine is added to watered-down milk to make it appear rich in protein in quality tests that measure nitrogen, found in both the melamine and protein. Health problems from the chemical include kidney stones and kidney damage.

In June authorities found 64 tons of raw materials for making milk powder and 12 tons of finished powder tainted with melamine at a factory in the far western province of Qinghai, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

In a separate case, they said they seized about 1000 packets of tainted milk powder in the northeastern province of Jilin.

Xinhua said the owner and a production manager from the factory in Qinghai have been detained. The report said some of the milk products at the Dongyuan Dairy Factory had 500 times the legal limit for melamine.

It did not say whether there were any reports of people getting sick from the dairy's products.

The report said some of the material was believed to be old powder that should have been destroyed in 2008 amid a crackdown on tainted milk, but that it was stored instead.

Xinhua said the Dongyuan Dairy Factory in Qinghai purchased the problem goods from Shaanxi and Hebei provinces and sold it in Jiangsu and Zhejiang - a supply chain that suggests melamine-tainted milk products could still be available in many parts of the country.

The problem powder in Jilin was produced in neighbouring Heilongjiang, the report said.

At least six children died and nearly 300,000 children fell ill after consuming tainted infant formula in 2008.

9 July 2010

Government backflips on net filter

The federal government has again delayed the introduction of its proposed mandatory internet filter while a review of classified material is undertaken.

While the review is under way three of Australia's largest internet service providers have agreed to voluntarily block online child pornography material.

Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy says some people are obviously concerned about whether current classified material reflected community views.

Legislation to impose mandatory internet filtering would therefore be delayed until the review was completed, Senator Conroy said.

Labor's moves to block access to material such as child pornography and other illegal content have been criticised by some of the world's largest providers of internet services including Google and Yahoo.

Senator Conroy announced on Friday that Telstra, Optus and Primus will block a list of child abuse URLs - internet addresses - compiled by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

However, representatives from Telstra and Optus would not say unequivocally whether they supported the government's proposed internet filter.

The telcos agreed to block child porn material from being accessed by Australian internet users while that review of Refused Classification (RC) content was under way.

"We support the review that was announced today, we support and are willing to voluntarily commit to the blocking of the ACMA list of child pornography sites and we'll continue to work constructively with the government as it undertakes this review," Telstra public policy and communications director David Quilty told reporters in Melbourne.

Mr Quilty said the blocking process was expected to take several months to get up and running.

Optus government and corporate affairs director Maha Krishnapillai said the telco had agreed to filter child pornography where it could.

"We'll have to wait and see what the review comes out with, but we've said all the way through this is about blocking the worst of the worst," he said.

RC content includes child abuse material, bestiality, rape and other extreme violence and terrorist acts.

Senator Conroy remained adamant that the internet filter proposal did not amount to censorship.

"I don't think any Australian actually tries to describe blocking child pornography or bestiality or pro-rape websites as censorship," Senator Conroy told reporters in Melbourne.

9 Jul 2010

08 July 2010

US to access Europeans' bank data in new deal

Euro MPs have approved a new deal to allow US anti-terror investigators to access Europeans' bank data.

The vote followed tough negotiations with US authorities after a previous agreement was blocked by the European Parliament in February.

EU negotiators say the new deal gives EU officials authority to monitor the US investigators' actions.

The deal gives the US access to bulk data from Swift, a firm that handles millions of bank transactions daily.

Washington says the Swift deal is crucial to fighting terrorism, as part of the US Terrorist Financing Tracking Programme (TFTP) set up after the September 2001 attacks on the US.

Top US officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, lobbied the EU over the data transfer deal.

Privacy concerns

In February Euro MPs rejected an earlier draft agreement, saying the privacy safeguards were inadequate.

The fact that the US was secretly accessing Swift bank data did not come to light until 2006.

Under the new deal, the EU police agency Europol will assess whether specific data requests are necessary for the fight against terrorism before the data is sent to the US, the European Commission says.

The Commission will appoint EU officials to monitor the US investigators' actions.

There is also a requirement that bulk data can never be sent to third countries.

The Commission says the data transferred under TFTP can include identifying information about the originator and/or recipient of the transaction, including name, address, national identification number and other personal data related to financial messages.

bbc.news.co.uk 8 July 2010

07 July 2010

Model left looking like alien from Avatar

A PROMISING model has been left with the 'body of an alien’ it's claimed after a department store used 'heavy-handed' airbrushing techniques.

Slim Tao Okamoto’s image was Photoshopped by the company so she looked unnaturally thin, with almost straight-lined hips.

Nordstrom initially denied that it had slimmed the model’s waist but later admitted it had gone too far.

In a statement Nordstrom said it had ‘misspoken’ when approached about the pictures of Miss Okamoto, who was modelling an orange Ralph Lauren polo shirt.

It said: ‘For the sake of clarity the orange T-shirt photo was indeed retouched: we smoothed out the model's nipples, removed a few wrinkles from the pants and shirt and punched up the shirt's colour.

‘In addition ... we also smoothed out her left hip (something that we neglected to originally mention).

‘After taking a closer look at the final image, we think the smoothing was a bit heavy-handed and we're disappointed with the result.

‘There have been times when we have "thickened" or added weight to a model or "thinned" a model by smoothing out bulges that may distort the shape of the clothes.

'It's not a common practice for us, but we have done it on a case-by-case basis.’

But by doing so Nordstrom has dragged Ralph Lauren into another Photoshopping row.

Last year the fashion house was forced to apologise for distorting model Filippa Hamilton's size-eight frame to advertise its Blue Jeans label.

Critics have long pointed out the toxic effect of putting such unobtainable goals in front of women, especially young girls.

'Size zero' models have been accused of contributing to the development of eating disorders and magazines have been condemned for doctoring cover photos of celebrities to make them look skinnier.

Japan-born Miss Okamoto, considered a rising star in the world of modelling, was airbrushed after she posted to advertise the £100 Ralph Lauren Black Label Mercerized cotton polo shirt.

The picture sparked outrage on internet forums.

A post on the Huffington Post blog said: ‘You wonder why the clothes never look the same on you? It's not the anorexic model, but the retouching to make the piece look perfect, like it never will on a human.’

Another posted that she ‘looks like one of those tall beings in Avatar’ whilst another wrote: ‘She looks suspiciously like someone from Area 51’.

Miss Okamoto is represented by Ford Models in New York and Premier in London, two of the world’s most prestigious agencies.

She was described as the ‘girl of the moment’ by teen Vogue in its January issue and has been in adverts for Ralph Lauren and Benetton and featured in Harper’s Bazaar, V Magazine and Japanese, French, American and Russian Vogue.

Such is the concern over the effect of stick-thin models that the Royal College of Psychiatrists has called for warning symbols to accompany airbrushed pictures of models and celebrities to help combat eating disorders.

The leading mental health body said a kite mark on digitally enhanced photographs would raise awareness of how often such manipulation takes place and help stop people trying to achieve 'unattainable physical perfection'.

Ralph Lauren and Miss Okamoto were unavailable for comment.

dailytelegraph.com.au 6 Jul 2010

Large companies LIE to the general public all the time in the name of 'marketing'.

This is especially rife in the cosmetic industry.

In legal terms the model is able to follow suite in the form of defamation of character.

NO governing bodies nor laws penalise these companies

First the company says it did NOTHING. THEN later it says it DID.

HOW CAN THE PUBLIC BELIEVE IN THE COMPANY'S PRODUCTS if they're based in deceitful advertising?

Pack rape charges dropped

Three Melbourne men accused of pack raping a woman have had all charges against them dismissed.

Suburban football teammates Reuben Mineo( illustrated in photo) , 19, Trent Cantwell, 19, and Jack Reade, 20, were accused of raping a woman at a house on Phillip Island in October last year.

Charges against a fourth person, a minor who cannot be named, will also be dropped.

The alleged victim had given evidence in a closed court over the last three days during their committal hearing at the Melbourne's Magistrates Court before magistrate Bill O'Day.

After the case collapsed on Wednesday, the three men left court supported by their families without commenting to the media.

However, a spokeswoman for Mr Reade's family thanked their legal team for the result.

"The family are very happy with the legal outcome today," the spokeswoman said.

She would not say why the case had fallen over.

The three men were on the popular holiday island, south of Melbourne, on a trip with their suburban football club teammates.

Police had alleged last October that they were among up to 16 Under-19s players from Montmorency Football Club who took part in the attack.

They all faced multiple charges of rape, two of indecent assault and one of unlawful imprisonment over the incident in which they were alleged to have invited two women back to their rented holiday house after meeting them at a local hotel.

In opposing bail last October, Detective Sergeant Jason Walsh told a court the alleged attack was "one stop below murder" in terms of its serious nature.

Det-Sgt Walsh said there were about 30 men at the house and no women.

He said the two women were ushered to separate bedrooms where they were allegedly attacked by a number of men.

One of the women did not pursue her matter but was prepared to act as a witness for the first woman, he said.

7 July 2010

Westgate Bridge is falling down

The iconic Melbourne's
Westgate Bridge is a bridge that goes over the Yarra river and is a much needed link from Melbourne's West to the city and further.

The bridge has has its share of controversy, as workers died during it's construction in 1970.

What the general populous are NOT being told by the government and media, is it that again the bridge is in danger of collapsing.

The bridge has usually 5 lanes in either direction. Due to roadworks which are also done during peak-ish hours, the bridge is cut down to 3 lanes.

Works are also carried out on the bridge at night time out of the view of the public eye.

In the 70's the bridge was designed to carry a specified car weight and throughput.

Today's traffic is approximately 4 times of what the design limits are for the bridge.

From a time frame of 1990 to 2010, the average family car, in this example the much Australian beloved Commodore has ballooned in weight from 1360kg (2992 lbs) to 1810kg (3982 lbs) or 450kg (990 lbs).

The government through Vicroads (the government body that is in charge of road works in Victoria), forces the contractors / workers who are providing maintenance on the bridge to sign papers of confidentiality with respect to the works carried out on the bridge.

The government DOES NOT want this information to be in public hands.

The bridge is NOT designed to carry the load capacity that it does today.

Russian pianist accused of pedophilia

Internationally acclaimed Russian pianist and conductor Mikhail Vasillievich Pletnev has been charged with raping a 14-year-old boy in a Thai beach town, police say.

Mikhail Vasilievich Pletnev, the founder of the Russian National Orchestra, was charged on Tuesday with rape and appearing in compromising photographs with several other boys, said police Lt. Col. Creetha Tankanarat.

He was released on a 300,000 baht ($A10,500) bail, ordered to report to the court every 12 days and is banned from contacting any witnesses in the case. He could face up to 20 years in jail and a fine of up to 40,000 baht ($US1,200 ($A1,400) if found guilty.

"This whole thing is a misunderstanding," said Pletnev in a brief telephone interview with The Associated Press but did not elaborate. He said he had no intention of leaving Thailand and was still residing in Pattaya.

Thailand has long been known as a haven for sex tourists and pedophiles because of widespread prostitution and lax law enforcement. Authorities have voiced intentions to crackdown on such offences, and the Russian's arrest is one of the most prominent cases to date.

Police said the musician was taken in Monday evening following a tip from Traipob Boonmasong, a Thai national who was charged with child rape for his alleged involvement in a child prostitution ring. Police confiscated pictures of young boys, some alongside foreigners.

Pletnev founded the Russian National Orchestra, the country's first independent orchestra, after befriending Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev at conference in Washington, DC, in 1988, and was its first principal conductor, according to the orchestra's website. Today, he is the orchestra's artistic director.

Internationally known as a pianist, conductor and composer, Pletnev won a 2005 Grammy for an arrangement of Prokofiev's Cinderella, which was recorded with him and Martha Argerich on piano.

In Thailand, Pletnev has performed as a guest conductor with the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra.

He also owns a restaurant and several businesses, including a badminton club, in Thailand, police said, and keeps private personal watercraft and two powered hang gliders in his residential compound in Pattaya, a resort town known for its wide-open night life, foreign criminal gangs and police suspected of corruption when dealing with criminal cases. It is also a major destination for Russian tourists.