North AmericaStay updated with Business News, Pakistan news, Current world news and latest world news with Business Recorder.., 22 Aug 2014 03:47:11 +0000SRA Framework 2.0en-gbObama to talk at 12:45 pm (1645 GMT): White House US President Barack Obama will make a statement at 12:45 pm Wednesday (1645 GMT), the White House said.

Obama will speak as administration officials confirmed fresh airstrikes in northern Iraq in the wake of the execution of an American journalist by Islamic State militants.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Imaduddin)North AmericaWed, 20 Aug 2014 16:00:32 +0000
Police move against protesters as calm dissolves in Ferguson, Missouri Police in riot gear ordered dozens of lingering demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri, to disperse late on Tuesday and charged into the crowd to make arrests as relative calm dissolved amid protests over the police shooting death of an unarmed black teen in the St. Louis suburb.

Street protests in the predominantly African-American community of 21,000 people have been punctuated by looting, vandalism and clashes between demonstrators and police every night since 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed by a white police officer.

A grand jury was expected to begin a criminal inquiry into shooting on Wednesday.

Copyright Reuters, 2014

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui)North AmericaWed, 20 Aug 2014 06:29:22 +0000
Storms knock out power, strand residents in Phoenix

imageLOS ANGELES: Heavy rains lashed the normally dry Phoenix area in the southwestern United States on Tuesday, triggering flash floods, leaving thousands of people without power and stranding others on roof tops.

The National Weather Service issued a warning for flash floods, saying there was the threat of further "very heavy rainfall" and thunderstorms.

A major highway, Interstate 17, was temporarily closed, officials told AFP, with many other streets or major roads rendered impassable because of flooding and mudslides.

The Arizona state website warned that "the rain is expected to continue for the next few days."

About 3,000 people were without power in the region, it said, while US media showed footage of firefighters landing on the roof of one house to dramatically rescue two women stranded by fast-flowing torrents of water.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri)North AmericaWed, 20 Aug 2014 03:50:13 +0000
Patient isolated in California hospital for Ebola testing ANGELES: A patient who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus has been put in isolation at a hospital in Sacramento, California, health group Kaiser Permanente announced Tuesday.

"We are working with the Sacramento County Division of Public Health regarding a patient admitted to the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus," said Stephen Parodi, an infectious disease specialist.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be testing blood samples to rule out the presence of the virus, he said.

"To protect our patients, staff and physicians, even though infection with the virus is unconfirmed, we are taking the actions recommended by the CDC as a precaution, just as we do for other patients with a suspected infectious disease," Parodi said.

"This includes isolation of the patient in a specially equipped negative pressure room and the use of personal protective equipment by trained staff, coordinated with infectious disease specialists. This enables the medical center to provide care in a setting that safeguards other patients and medical teams."

Two US patients infected with the virus, a health care worker and a doctor, returned to the United States from Africa for treatment in late July.

Currently there is no approved antiviral treatment or vaccine, only experimental phase treatments.

The global death toll from Ebola stands at 1,229, with the bulk of cases in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri)North AmericaWed, 20 Aug 2014 03:38:35 +0000
Quebec rail disaster blamed on poor safety, oversight Investigators on Tuesday blamed one of Canada's worst rail disasters that killed 47 people in Lac-Megantic last year on the railway's poor safety standards and a lack of regulatory oversight.

In a 191-page report, Canada's Transportation Safety Board (TSB) listed 18 causes and contributing factors in the crash, including improper brake tests, a highly flammable cargo in substandard tanker cars and a curve in the tracks at the bottom of a slope.

"Take any one of them out of the equation and this accident may not have happened," TSB chair Wendy Tadros told a news conference.

She levelled the strongest criticisms at the shortline Montreal, Maine & Atlantic (MMA) railway for "cutting corners" on maintenance and employee training, and on the government for ignoring safety concerns.

"This was a company with a weak safety culture," Tadros said. "A company where people did what was needed to get the job done, rather than always following the rules."

She described a "booming industry" running "largely unchecked" that saw rail shipments of oil increase dramatically in recent years from 500 in 2009 to 160,000 last year.

"Transport Canada knew about some of the problems at MMA but the follow-up was not always there," Tadros added.

The 72-car train carrying 7.7 million liters (2.0 million gallons) of crude oil from the US state of North Dakota to a refinery in easternmost Canada derailed in the early morning hours of July 6, 2013.

It came loose in the middle of the night, rolled downhill unmanned and derailed in the center of Lac-Megantic, Quebec.

Several tanker cars exploded, unleashing an inferno that gutted 2.5 square kilometers (one square miles) of the picturesque lakeside town of 6,000 residents, about 250 kilometers (155 miles) east of Montreal.

Firefighters needed two days to put out the raging blaze which also destroyed 40 buildings and 53 vehicles. Seven of the dead were never identified.

Three railway workers, including the driver, who was not at the helm at the time of the accident and stands accused of failing to apply the brakes on several cars, have been charged with criminal negligence causing death.

Handbrakes alone should have been enough to keep the train halted, but air brakes were wrongly left on during testing.

Firefighters responding to a small locomotive fire later that night shut off power to the locomotive, inadvertantly causing the air brakes to gradually lose pressure.

Left unattended overnight, the train started to roll downhill, reaching a top speed of 105 kilometers (65 miles) per hour.

The train's owner, American firm Montreal, Maine & Atlantic declared bankruptcy after the accident, saying it could not face the huge cost of the cleanup or damage payments to victims.

Canadian authorities, meanwhile, have announced tougher rail safety rules, including the phasing out or retrofitting of substandard tanker cars used to transport flammable liquids.

The Transportation Safety Board urged additional measures so that "trains will always remain secure" and for Transport Canada to beef up its oversight.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Muhammad Iqbal)North AmericaTue, 19 Aug 2014 21:28:58 +0000
Two arrested in US school shooting plot in LA

imageLOS ANGELES: Two students in the Los Angeles area have been arrested on suspicion of plotting a mass shooting at a high school, police said Monday.

The violence was to have taken place at South Pasadena High School, local police said in a statement.

Police averted a potential mass shooting after receiving information from school officials, the statement from the South Pasadena Police Department said.

The two adolescents had planned to kill three staff members and as many students as possible, the statement said.

The statement said school officials became aware of "suspicious behavior" and reached out to police.

One student was arrested without incident while the other put up resistance as police tried to arrest him at his home and he tried to flee, the statement said.

A press conference was planned for Tuesday morning.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri)North AmericaTue, 19 Aug 2014 07:27:47 +0000
US troops in Ferguson as Obama calls for calm US National Guard troops were deployed Monday after unrest in a Missouri town where a white police officer shot dead an unarmed black teenager, as President Barack Obama called for calm.

A clearly uncomfortable Obama said there was no excuse for local police to employ "excessive force" and urged the state to make only "limited" use of the guards, while still condemning violent protest.

By late afternoon, about 200 National Guard soldiers arrived at command headquarters, with snipers posted on rooftops in the surrounding area. The troops are operating under Missouri Highway Patrol supervision.

The reinforcements allowed State Governor Jay Nixon to lift an overnight curfew, but tempers were still running high amid ongoing controversy over the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

"They're supposed to protect the American citizens, but they're fighting a war with unarmed citizens," said Ron Henry, who wore a t-shirt with the phrase "stop killing us."

Amid the trouble, Getty Images photographer Scott Olson was arrested for unknown reasons, the agency said.

As night fell, several hundred people took part in fresh protests after police with plastic handcuffs moved crowds of demonstrators into designated zones to clear a main street in the town that had been the scene of violent protests.

Protesters were not allowed stop and gather, and were directed to keep moving.

Residents were on edge, after the previous night saw rioters loot stores and throw Molotov cocktails.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri)North AmericaTue, 19 Aug 2014 05:18:22 +0000
Activists protest Brunei possible NY hotel purchase YORK: A US gay rights group protested on Monday a possible purchase of New York's iconic Plaza Hotel by the sultan of Brunei, set to implement tough punishments for same-sex acts.

The sultan, via an intermediary, has offered some $2 billion to snap up the famous hotel at the foot of Central Park, as well as the Dream Downtown in Chelsea and Grosvenor House in London, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Since May, oil-rich Brunei's all-powerful Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah who holds one of the world's largest fortunes has begun implementing a new penal code that will eventually include tough sharia, or Islamic law, penalties such as death by stoning for sodomy and adultery.

Human Rights Campaign director of global engagement Ty Cobb said the sultan could start executing women, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people, as early as next year and called on New Yorkers to take a stand against his plans.

"The American profit stream that flows from his hotels back to his regime needs to stop," Cobb said in a statement.

"We urge all New Yorkers to have one simple and straight-forward message for the sultan: take your business elsewhere."

Celebrities, including British tycoon Richard Branson and US Vogue editor Anna Wintour, have called for a boycott of luxury hotels owned by the sultan, including the Dorchester in London and Le Meurice in Paris.

The three hotels the sultan is currently eyeing are owned by the Sahara Group, whose chairman Subrata Roy known for his rags-to-riches story and mansion modeled on the White House was jailed in India in May for contempt after he missed a court hearing in a long-running row with the country's capital markets regulator.

Earlier this month, a company official said the Indian tycoon, seeking to raise $1.6 billion to win his release, has "interested" potential buyers for the trio of hotels.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Muhammad Iqbal)North AmericaMon, 18 Aug 2014 21:41:56 +0000
Elephant killings in Africa outpace births: study More elephants in Africa are being killed by poachers than are born each year, and the problem may be worse than previously understood, according to the most detailed assessment yet, released on Monday.

Using a newly refined approach to estimate elephant deaths, developed at Kenya's Samburu National Reserve, researchers said Africa's elephant population is declining at a rate of about two percent annually.

"Basically, that means we are starting to lose the species," said lead author George Wittemyer, an assistant professor in the department of fish, wildlife and conservation biology at Colorado State University.

While the actual number of African elephants in the wild is difficult to know for certain, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates there are between 470,000-690,000.

The newly developed model covers the entire continent and therefore shows that the number of elephants that died in recent years is higher than previous estimates.

For instance, experts agree that the most recent peak year for illegal elephant killings was 2011.

According to data from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), about 25,000 elephants may have been poached across Africa in 2011, based on about four dozen sites being monitored.

This study however, shows that illegal poaching removed about eight percent of the population in 2011, which "extrapolates to around 40,000 elephants illegally killed," when the entire continent is considered, it said.

On average, poaching took an average of 33,630 elephants' lives per year from 2010 to 2012, the study found.

"It has dropped a bit in 2012-2013 but it is still at a rate that is too high and is driving the decline of the species," Wittemyer told AFP.

The new mathematical method was based on more than a decade of studying the natural deaths and illegal killings among elephants in northern Kenya.

The approach was then extended to carcass data from international monitors and extrapolated across the African continent.

"From 2010 to 2012, we calculated that we lost over 100,000 individual elephants. It has just been a total disaster," said Wittemyer.

Spike in ivory prices:

"Wittemyer and colleagues have taken an important step an obvious step in retrospect, but it's difficult to get the right data for such an analysis," said Susan Alberts, an elephant expert and biology professor at Duke University.

"The careful work that Wittemyer and colleagues have done here is badly needed," added Alberts, who was not involved in the study.

A surge in elephant deaths at the hands of poachers also coincided with the spike in the price of black-market ivory bound for sale at Chinese markets, Wittemyer said.

"We found that the rise in poaching was very closely related to the local price of black-market ivory," he told AFP.

"Basically, when the price of ivory got over $30 per kilogram, the killing rate started becoming unsustainable," he added.

"It became really high and a really big problem, and unfortunately that price got up to around $150 per kilogram."

Destroying families:

Even more, since poachers tend to aim for the largest elephants with the biggest tusks, the loss of males in their prime breeding years and family matriarchs is upsetting the creatures' social groups and leaving bands of orphans to fend for themselves.

"Thousands of elephant families are being disrupted or destroyed," Wittemyer said. Elephants are faring better in places like Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, where protections are in place.

However, the outlook is dire for about three-quarters of all elephants, particularly those in central Africa, Tanzania and Mozambique, he told AFP.

The key to reversing the trend is to curb the demand from ivory markets in the Far East, he said.

"Somehow we need to break this cycle, this consumptive cycle, of using ivory as a product in those markets," Wittemyer said.

The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed US journal.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Muhammad Iqbal)North AmericaMon, 18 Aug 2014 20:04:29 +0000
US troops on streets after police shooting protests US National Guard troops deployed in a suburban Missouri town on Monday as authorities struggled to contain week-old protests triggered when a police officer shot dead an unarmed black teenager.

State Governor Jay Nixon lifted an overnight curfew as the soldiers arrived, but tempers were running high amid ongoing controversy over the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

A forensic pathologist retained by the victim's family revealed that the student had been shot six times twice in the head. Local officials have not released the results of their own autopsy.

In a statement released as Guard soldiers arrived in Ferguson, the majority African-American St Louis suburb at the heart of the unrest, Nixon said the soldiers would come under police command.

"We will not use a curfew tonight," he added, after a two-day-old order for residents to stay at home after midnight failed to prevent clashes between protesters and heavily armed police.

Nixon condemned "the firing upon law enforcement officers, the shooting of a civilian, the throwing of Molotov cocktails, looting and a coordinated attempt to overrun the unified command center."

Brown was shot dead in broad daylight on a residential street on Saturday, August 8 by Darren Wilson, a 28-year-old white police officer.

Alleged scuffle:

Store surveillance footage released by local police appears to show Brown shoving an employee after snatching a box of cigars around half-an-hour before he was shot.

But it is not yet clear what caused his deadly encounter with Wilson police sources say there was a scuffle and some witnesses have claimed he was not resisting when he was shot.

On Monday, lawyers working for Brown's family introduced reporters to a respected former New York pathologist who has examined the body and found six gunshot wounds.

"Six bullets struck, and two may have re-entered," Michael Baden said, indicating on a diagram how the bullets hit the top of Brown's cranium, one of his eyes and his right arm and hand.

"All of the gunshot wounds could have been survivable, except the one at the top of the head," he said.

Baden said he found no evidence of an alleged struggle between Brown and the officer, who is said to have been hurt in the incident, but added that he had not examined Wilson.

The absence of gunpowder on Brown's body indicated that the muzzle of the gun was probably at least a foot or two or as much as 30 feet away, Baden added.

The former New York City chief medical examiner stressed his findings were preliminary. St Louis prosecutors have not released the results of their official preliminary autopsy.

The police response to the protests officers armed with rifles, tear gas and rubber bullets descended on Ferguson in military surplus armored cars caused widespread concern.

US President Barack Obama met Attorney General Eric Holder at the White House on Monday to discuss their response to the crisis. A federal civil rights investigation has already been launched.

'Our hands are up':

Overnight, before the order to deploy the Guard, rioters looted stores and threw gasoline bombs according to Captain Ron Johnson, the state highway patrol officer charged with restoring order.

"There were shootings, looting, vandalism and other acts of violence that clearly appear not to have been spontaneous but premeditated criminal acts," he said.

Some of the demonstrators carried signs protesting police brutality. Many marched peacefully with their hands up in the air, but others taunted police and threw back tear gas canisters.

"We were walking up peacefully towards the command centre to kneel in protest in front of the police, to say 'our hands are up'," said Lisha Williams.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Muhammad Iqbal)North AmericaMon, 18 Aug 2014 19:23:32 +0000