North America Stay updated with Business News, Pakistan news, Current world news and latest world news with Business Recorder.. Fri, 28 Nov 2014 09:36:56 +0000 SRA Framework 2.0 en-gb Ferguson takes comfort in Thanksgiving imageFERGUSON: A peaceful Ferguson came together Thursday to celebrate Thanksgiving and recover from violent protests that erupted when a police officer was not charged in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager.

Visible signs of the turbulence of recent days were armed National Guard troops and Humvees posted at shopping malls and bleak-looking boarded-up stores.

But for the first time this week, there were no signs of any major protests in the St Louis suburb, which reeled from Monday's decision by a Missouri grand jury not to charge a white policeman who shot dead 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9.

Residents kept out of the cold, spending the holiday with friends and family, attending church services and beautifying boarded-up stores.

"I believe God enough to know we will rebuild," said Reverend Carlton Lee, the pastor at Flood Christian Church, which was burnt beyond repair during the violence on Monday.

He spoke at a service at the nearby Wellspring Church, saying he had received death threats and was devastated to watch the building go up in flames.

Life would carry on, Lee said.

Sunday service will be held in a heated tent in the parking lot and the church, where Brown's father reportedly worshipped, set up an online appeal for $50,000 to rebuild. So far, it has attracted $2,000.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri) North America Fri, 28 Nov 2014 06:24:05 +0000
Mexico president seeks to dissolve local police forces imageMEXICO CITY: Mexico's embattled president unveiled sweeping reforms Thursday to dissolve corruption-plagued municipal police forces nationwide amid an outcry over the role of gang-affiliated authorities in the presumed slaughter of 43 students.

More carnage hit Mexico hours before President Enrique Pena Nieto's announcement, with the discovery of 11 beheaded bodies in the troubled southern state of Guerrero -- the same region where the students were attacked in September.

"Society has raised its voice to say enough is enough," Pena Nieto said, echoing the anger of Mexicans who have joined a wave of protests over a case that has highlighted the country's struggle with police corruption.

"Mexico must change," said the president, who is facing the biggest challenge of his two-year-old administration, in a speech at the National Palace before congressmen, governors and civil society groups.

Pena Nieto said he would send a set of constitutional reforms to Congress on Monday to allow federal authorities to take over municipalities infiltrated by drug cartels.

He said the measures also include the dissolution of the country's 1,800 municipal police forces, "which can easily be corrupted by criminals."

Police duties would be taken over by state agencies in the country's 32 regions.

Critics said Pena Nieto was rehashing old ideas.

"It appears that the government merely reissues the same product with a different packaging," said the Americas director of Human Rights Watch, Jose Miguel Vivanco.

An official said the overhaul would first take place in four of the country's most violent states -- Tamaulipas, Jalisco, Michoacan and Guerrero -- by 2016.

It was in the Guerrero city of Iguala where the 43 students vanished on September 26 after they were attacked by local police.

Prosecutors say Iguala's mayor ordered his police force to confront a group of students over fears they would disrupt a speech by his wife.

Guerreros Unidos gang henchmen confessed to killing the students and incinerating their bodies after officers turned them over.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri) North America Fri, 28 Nov 2014 06:14:47 +0000
Protesters block Acapulco highway over 43 missing imageCHILPANCINGO: Protesters fuming over the presumed slaughter of 43 students blocked the highway linking Mexico City and Acapulco on Wednesday to mark two months since the disappearance rocking the government.

Some 2,000 people, including parents of the missing young men and fellow students from their Ayotzinapa teacher-training college, took part in the latest protest over the case.

The rally occurred in Chilpancingo, the capital of the southern state of Guerrero, which has been the scene of violent protests since the students vanished in the nearby city of Iguala on September 26.

Authorities say Iguala police attacked busloads of students and delivered 43 of them to the Guerreros Unidos drug gang, whose members confessed to killing the young men.

But parents of the missing refuse to believe they are dead and demand that the authorities bring them home alive.

Some 2,000 federal police officers were deployed in Chilpancingo.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri) North America Thu, 27 Nov 2014 04:16:03 +0000
Ebola vaccine promising in first human trials: NIH imageWASHINGTON: Researchers say they're a step closer to developing an Ebola vaccine, with a Phase 1 trial showing promising results, but it will be months at the earliest before it can be used in the field.

The news comes amid the worst ever outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever, which has killed nearly 5,700 people, mostly in West Africa.

Pharmaceutical companies and health agencies are scrambling to fast-track experimental drugs and vaccines that could help.

In the first phase of testing, all 20 healthy adults injected with a higher or lower dose of the vaccine developed antibodies needed to fight Ebola, said the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which conducted the study.

Results were published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"The unprecedented scale of the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa has intensified efforts to develop safe and effective vaccines," said Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is developing the vaccine alongside GlaxoSmithKline.

The vaccines under development "may play a role in bringing this epidemic to an end and undoubtedly will be critically important in preventing future large outbreaks," he noted.

"Based on these positive results from the first human trial of this candidate vaccine, we are continuing our accelerated plan for larger trials to determine if the vaccine is efficacious in preventing Ebola infection," he added.

But the NIAID/GSK vaccine is still a long way from being ready for use in the field.

The NIAID is "in active discussions with Liberian officials and other partners about next-stage vaccine testing in West Africa" for efficacy and safety, the NIH said, but no announcement on larger-scale trials was expected before early next year.

There is no licensed treatment or vaccine against the Ebola virus, which is transmitted through bodily fluids and has been fatal in an estimated 70 percent of cases in the current outbreak.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri) North America Thu, 27 Nov 2014 03:51:55 +0000
Firing range reports gun sales hike after Ferguson imageST PETERS: Racially-charged protests in Ferguson are fueling an exponential increase in gun sales among mainly white customers at one of the premier shooting ranges in the country a 20-minute drive away.

The Ultimate Defense Firing Range and Training Center in St Peters, outside St Louis, Missouri typically sells three to five guns a day, but in recent weeks the number has risen to 20 or 30.

"We've seen a tremendous run on hand guns, specifically, because people have an element of fear with what's going on in Ferguson," said owner and active duty police officer Paul Bastean.

"Some of them that live in that area definitively are here because they are afraid. Especially two nights ago when there were gunshots all over," he said.

Ultimate Defense sold 33 guns and shooters fired 18,000 rounds on the practice range Tuesday, the day after protests 20 miles (32 kilometers) away degenerated into arson, looting and live gunfire.

Rage has simmered in the mainly black suburb of Ferguson after a white police officer shot dead an unarmed black teenager in August.

Uproar over Michael Brown's death and the St Louis prosector's refusal to indict officer Darren Wilson has inflamed racial tensions.

After a second night of protests saw a police car torched and shops attacked in Ferguson, Bastean said he sold 21 firearms in the first three hours of business.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri) North America Thu, 27 Nov 2014 03:45:14 +0000
US jobless claims rise imageWASHINGTON: New claims for US unemployment insurance benefits rose last week but kept within the recent low range that suggests a modestly improving jobs market, according to official data released Wednesday.

Initial jobless claims, a sign of the pace of layoffs, increased by 21,000 to 313,000 in the week ending November 22, the Labor Department said. The prior week's level was upwardly revised to 292,000 from 291,000.

The four-week moving average of claims rose by 6,250 to 294,000, compared with 334,750 a year ago.

In early November the Labor Department reported another fall in the unemployment rate, to a six-year low of 5.8 percent in October, with job creation holding a pace above 200,000 a month for the ninth consecutive month.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui) North America Wed, 26 Nov 2014 14:25:28 +0000
Mexican leftist party's founder quits over 43 missing imageMEXICO CITY : The founder of Mexico's main left-wing party quit late Tuesday amid turmoil and infighting following a former mayor's role in the disappearance of 43 college students.

Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, the historical leader of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), said in a letter to fellow members that he was "irrevocably" leaving the party.

The PRD is the party of former Iguala mayor Jose Luis Abarca, who is accused of ordering police to attack a group of students on September 26 over fears they would disrupt a speech by his wife.

Prosecutors say the officers grabbed 43 students and handed them to the Guerreros Unidos drug gang, whose members confessed to killing the young men and incinerating their bodies.

The city is in the southern state of Guerrero, a PRD bastion.

The state has been the epicenter of protests by students who believe their colleagues are still alive and want authorities to find them.

The protests led the governor, Angel Aguirre, to resign last month.

Cardenas, who ran for president in 1988, announced his decision hours after a meeting with the new PRD president, Carlos Navarrete, to discuss the party's future.

Cardenas, who had asked Navarrete to resign last week, said the meeting came "too late" and was marked by differences over how "to recover the credibility" of the PRD.

The case has rocked the government of centrist President Enrique Pena Nieto, who plans to announce Thursday a new anti-corruption strategy.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri) North America Wed, 26 Nov 2014 05:29:39 +0000
Ferguson police officer says he has 'clean conscience' imageFERGUSON: The white police officer who shot dead an unarmed black teenager in the riot-hit US town of Ferguson said Tuesday he has a "clean conscience" and would do the same thing again.

Darren Wilson said he feared for his life before he drew his gun -- the first time he had used his firearm on the job -- before opening fire, killing 18-year-old Michael Brown.

"The reason I have a clean conscience is because I know I did my job right," Wilson told ABC News, speaking publicly for the first time since the August 9 shooting.

"I don't think it's haunting. It's always going to be something that happened."

When asked if it would have ended the same way if Brown was white, Wilson answered: "Yes... no question."

He described Brown as a "powerful man," comparing him to professional wrestler Hulk Hogan.

"He charged me, he was going to kill me," he said.

Wilson said he feared Brown would get hold of his gun and said he acted out of self-defense.

"I gave myself another mental check. Can I shoot this guy? Legally, can I? And the question that I answered to myself was, 'I have to.'"

Wilson said he and his new wife are now hoping to resume their routine: "We just want to have a normal life. That's it."

The incident has sparked angry protests across the United States.

Several cities were bracing for more demonstrations Tuesday night, including the St Louis suburb of Ferguson, where 2,200 national guard soldiers were on stand-by.

On Monday, a grand jury decided not to indict Wilson, sparking a night of rioting in Ferguson, a mainly black town of 21,000 with a mostly white police force.

The jury concluded Wilson had acted lawfully in firing 12 shots at Brown after he first reached into the officer's car to grapple with him, then turned on him as he gave chase.

Wilson said his gun jammed before he shot the fatal bullets.

"The gun was actually being jammed by his hand on top. So, I tried again, and again another click," he said. "I pull a third time and it finally goes off."

According to testimony released Monday, Wilson said Brown had charged at him after the altercation, describing the teenager as a "demon."

The 28-year-old officer told investigators Brown made "like a grunting, like aggravated sound" and started running at the officer.

The shooting has sparked a nationwide debate about military-style police tactics and race relations in the United States.

Civil rights firebrand Al Sharpton said the Brown case renewed a fight for greater police accountability, and said protests would be staged nationwide on Saturday.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri) North America Wed, 26 Nov 2014 04:08:45 +0000
Americans are smoking less than ever imageWASHINGTON: The percentage of Americans who are smokers has fallen to an all-time low, now representing just 17.8 percent of the population, a study released Tuesday found.

US health officials said the percentage of Americans who are smokers has fallen to the lowest level since 1965, when they began keeping records.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the number of American adults smokers fell from 45.1 million in 2005, or 20.9 percent of the USA population at the time, to 42.1 million.

Despite progress in reducing the overall number of US smokers, rates remained on the high side for some groups, particularly lower-income people, as well as gays and lesbians, the CDC said.

Smoking accounts for one in five US deaths annually, taking more than 480,000 lives.

According to US government data, smoking costs the economy more than $289 billion a year for medical care and lost productivity.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri) North America Wed, 26 Nov 2014 04:05:11 +0000
Federal charges still possible in Ferguson case imageWASHINGTON: After a Missouri grand jury did not charge a white police officer with any crime in the shooting death of black teen Michael Brown, his family and supporters are pinning their hopes on federal charges.

The Justice Department quickly opened its own investigations in the wake of the August 9 shooting of Michael Brown, who was unarmed, by Officer Darren Wilson in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson.

One arm of the probe is to determine whether Wilson violated Brown's civil rights.

The second is looking at whether the Ferguson police department as a whole engages in racial profiling or employs excessive force.

After protesters looted Ferguson businesses and set fire to buildings Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder tried to reassure residents disappointed in the legal system.

"The department's investigations will continue to be thorough," Holder said. "They will continue to be independent and they remain ongoing."

He said he hoped the probes could "restore trust" between law enforcement and members of the community.

In August, after Brown was shot dead and Ferguson was convulsed by violence, Holder quickly visited the town and said he understood how black residents were wary of the mainly white police force.

"I understand that mistrust. I am the attorney general of the United States. But I am also a black man," he said.

After the grand jury decision was made public, President Barack Obama said that the situation in Ferguson "speaks to the broader challenges that we still face as a nation."

"A deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color," said Obama, America's first black president.

Nevertheless, more than three months after Brown's death, the Obama administration has announced no charges and leaks to the US media suggest federal cases may not be forthcoming.

St Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch said federal and local authorities had shared all information in their parallel investigations and that the evidence had not been sufficient to indict Wilson.

Holder, who has been seen as a champion of civil rights during his tenure as the nation's first black attorney general, is due to leave office soon.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri) North America Wed, 26 Nov 2014 03:58:17 +0000