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Bribery keeps Chinese public hospitals running

China Public Hospitals
© Reuters
Shanghai - Bribery is the lubricant that helps keep China's public hospitals running, and the health system would struggle to function without illegal payments to poorly paid doctors and administrators, say medical practitioners and industry experts.

They say government policies are partly to blame for a system in which doctors and other staff expect to be paid extra fees to perform operations and take kickbacks from pharmaceutical firms and medical-equipment suppliers.

The profession's ugly underbelly was exposed last week when police accused British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline of bribing officials and doctors for six years to boost sales and the price of its medicines. GSK has called the developments "shameful" and on Monday said some of its Chinese executives appeared to have broken the law.

China is an appealing market for pharmaceutical firms and medical-equipment makers, with spending in the industry expected to nearly triple to $1 trillion by 2020 from $357 billion in 2011, according to consulting firm McKinsey.

The corruption stems largely from doctors' low base salaries, which are set in line with a pay scale for government workers. Hospitals can pay bonuses but, given public hospitals are strapped for cash, compensation is usually low, say doctors and industry experts.

A doctor fresh out of medical school in Beijing earns about 3,000 yuan ($490) a month including bonuses - roughly the same as a taxi driver. A doctor with 10 years experience makes around 10,000 yuan a month, according to Peter Chen, chief executive of privately run Oasis International Hospital in Beijing.

"Without the grey income, doctors would not have the incentive to practice," said Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
X

Spain train crash: reports of at least 77 killed, 130 injured

© Oscar Corral/EPA
Spain train crash: the scene close to Santiago de Compostela where a train travelling from Madrid to Ferrol derailed.
At least 77 people died in Wednesday's train crash in the northern Spanish region of Galicia, a spokeswoman for Galicia's supreme court said.

Four died in hospital, the rest at the site of the accident, the spokeswoman said on Thursday morning, adding that the numbers were still provisional. Judges in Spain are responsible for recording deaths.

The crash occurred as the train approached the north-western Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela at 8.40pm. A further 131 people were reported injured in the accident, the worst in Spain for 40 years. Reports said about 20 were very seriously injured.

The death toll might rise further, a spokeswoman for the office of the central government in Galicia warned. One Briton was among the injured, the Foreign Office confirmed.

Rescue workers battled to free passengers trapped inside the carriages, several of which had overturned. Some caught fire. Bodies covered in blankets lay next to the overturned carriages as smoke billowed from the wreckage. Firemen clambered over the twisted metal trying to get survivors out of the windows.

"The scene is shocking, it's Dante-esque," the head of the Galicia region, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, said in a radio interview.

Comment: We at SOTT try to pay attention to the reality right and left, and what we see is unusually high number of train accidents and derailments, along with an increase of airplane emergency landings all around the world. It seems like the Universe is sending a message, and it isn't a nice one. The global train is running off the tracks!

Here is the partial list of train accidents for the month of July, 2013:
Death toll set to rise as 40 still missing following massive Lac Megantic, Quebec oil train explosion
Russian train derails in Krasnodar region: Summer heat might have distorted tracks
BREAKING: Passengers "Electrocuted and Crushed" as Train derails in Paris suburb station of Bretigny-sur-Orge
Welshpool train crash: Tractor driver's miracle escape after 70mph service smashes into his vehicle
Tourists hurt as Thai train derails

Light Sabers

Divide & Conquer: Violence continues in France over Islamic veil ban

Rabia veiled in france
© Getty Images
Rabia, 17, a veiled woman victim of agression in the street on May 20, speaks during a press conference on June 22, 2013 in Argenteuil, Paris suburb
Some 20 cars have been torched and four people detained in a second night of violence in suburbs west of Paris, a result of tensions linked to authorities' handling of France's ban on Muslim face veils.

France's interior minister said Sunday that the incidents overnight targeted the town of Elancourt.

Police union official said on BFM television that about 50 assailants were involved, some firing weapons and a gasoline bomb at police.

The night before, about 250 people hurling projectiles clashed with police firing tear gas in the nearby town of Trappes in apparent protest over the enforcement of France's ban on Islamic face veils. Five people were injured and six detained in the violence, authorities said Saturday.

The interior minister urged calm and dialogue, insisting on both the need for public order and respect for France's Muslims. The incident in the town of Trappes on Friday night reflected sporadic tensions between police upholding France's strict policies of secularism and those who accuse authorities of discriminating against France's No. 2 religion.
Eye 1

Ohio authorities end search for more victims after 3 bodies found in neighborhood

ohio murders
© Associated Press/The Plain Dealer/Joshua Gunter
July 20, 2013: Law enforcement and FBI stand at the back of a boarded-up home where bodies were found earlier in the day Saturday in East Cleveland, Ohio
Authorities responding to a report of a foul odor from a home ultimately discovered three bodies and arrested a registered sex offender who sent police and volunteers through a poor Ohio neighborhood in a search for more victims Sunday, officials said.

East Cleveland Police Chief Ralph Spotts had cautioned searchers to be prepared to find one or two more victims. But after a daylong search that included 40 abandoned houses and other areas, no more bodies were found.

Spotts identified the suspect as 35-year-old Michael Madison. He said Madison is expected to be formally charged Monday, but did not elaborate.

Mayor Gary Norton said the suspect has indicated he might have been influenced by Cleveland serial killer Anthony Sowell, who was convicted in 2011 of murdering 11 women and sentenced to death.

It's the latest in a series of high-profile cases involving the disappearance of women from the Cleveland area.
Handcuffs

British trio jailed over £85m boiler-room fraud

Florida court hands down sentences of up to 25 years against men who peddled worthless shares in 'boiler-room' scheme

© PA/City of London police
Richard Pope at the wheel of a sports car. He is one of three British conmen jailed for £85m in boiler-room fraud.
Three British conmen who left thousands of victims penniless as they frittered £85m in stolen money on a private jet, yachts and holiday homes in the Caribbean have been jailed by a Florida court.

Richard Pope, Paul Gunter and Simon Odoni lived a luxurious life while defrauding at least 2,300 Britons, many of whom lost their entire life savings and one of whom was driven to suicide.

They were jailed at a court in Florida, where Gunter, 64, was sentenced to 25 years. Odoni, 56, was given 13 years and four months and Pope, 55, was sentenced to four years and nine months.

Detective Inspector Kerrie Gower said: "Pope, Gunter and Odoni are amongst the most ruthless and destructive criminals the City of London police have ever dealt with and deserve every day they will spend behind bars in America.

"Unfortunately this sentencing will not repair the huge damage they caused to the lives of thousands of people who were simply looking for a safe place to invest their money, but hopefully it will bring a measure of comfort and a sense of closure to those caught up in what was fraud committed on a truly massive scale."

Comment: Boiler-room fraud, particularly the brand emanating from the nefarious City of London, is widespread and affects far more than just the savings of a handful of pensioners:Corruption in Science: Francesco Fucilla and the Telesio-Galilei Academy of Science

Health

4 decades after war ended, Agent Orange still ravaging Vietnamese

DA NANG, Vietnam -- In many ways, Nguyen Thi Ly is just like any other 12-year-old girl. She has a lovely smile and is quick to laugh. She wants to be a teacher when she grows up. She enjoys skipping rope when she plays.

© Drew Brown / MCT
Le Thi Thu, 42, and her daughter, Nguyen Thi Ly, 11, live in a village south of Da Nang, Vietnam. They are second and third generation victims of dioxin exposure, the result of the U.S. military's use of Agent Orange and other herbicides during the Vietnam War more than 40 years ago.
But Ly is also very different from other children. Her head is severely misshapen. Her eyes are unnaturally far apart and permanently askew. She's been hospitalized with numerous ailments since her birth.

Her mother, 43-year-old Le Thi Thu, has similar deformities and health disorders. Neither of them has ever set foot on a battlefield, but they're both casualties of war.

Le and her daughter are second- and third-generation victims of dioxin exposure, the result of the U.S. military's use of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, when the U.S. Air Force sprayed more than 20 million gallons of Agent Orange and other herbicides over parts of southern Vietnam and along the borders of neighboring Laos and Cambodia. The herbicides were contaminated with dioxin, a deadly compound that remains toxic for decades and causes birth defects, cancer and other illnesses.

To this day, dioxin continues to poison the land and the people. The United States has never accepted responsibility for these victims - it denies that Agent Orange is responsible for diseases among Vietnamese that are accepted as Agent Orange-caused among American veterans - and it's unclear when this chain of misery will end.
People 2

Bulgarian MPs trapped inside parliament by protesters

Riot police free more than 100 MPs and ministers blockaded for more than eight hours as anti-government protests grow

© EPA
Bulgarian protesters clash with riot police during an anti-government protest in front of the parliament building in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Police in Bulgaria have broken up a blockade of parliament by anti-government protesters to escort out more than 100 MPs and ministers who had been trapped inside the building for more than eight hours.

Police in riot gear pushed away the protesters early on Wednesday and formed a corridor to allow those trapped out of the building.

Protests in Bulgaria's capital, which have been continuing for 40 days, escalated on Tuesday evening when several hundred demonstrators trapped the officials inside parliament in a bid to oust the left-leaning government.

Police had tried to escort the officials out by a bus on Tuesday, but protesters blocked the vehicle and hurled stones. Seven protesters and two police officers were treated in hospital for head wounds.

The Socialist-backed government took office after early elections in May, following the resignation of the previous cabinet amid anti-austerity protests. The government commands only 120 seats in the 240-seat Parliament and has to rely on the support from a nationalist party.

The appointment of media mogul Delyan Peevski as head of the national security agency sparked the most recent wave of protests. The appointment was immediately revoked but demonstrators insist the government is corrupt and must resign.

Recent public-opinion polls show the protests are supported by about two-thirds of Bulgaria's 7.3m people, who have the lowest incomes in the European Union.

The Bulgarian president, Rosen Plevneliev, issued a statement calling on the protesters to keep the demonstrations "peaceful and civilised."

"For the first time since the start of the protests we have now witnessed tension and attempts for provocation," Plevneliev said, urging the protesters to restrain from any acts which increased the tension and breach public order. He also called on the police to help keep the protest peaceful.
Arrow Up

Food prices increase in Thailand as pork supply dwindles

Consumers look set to shoulder higher food prices following recent hikes in the cost of key ingredients, particularly pork, the Commerce Ministry has reported. The ministry found that retail prices of many Thai-style fast-food dishes have already increased by around Bt5 per dish following a hike in the price of raw materials, in particular pork and other meats, and ahead of a rise in the LPG price scheduled for September.

The ministry reported that the price of pork at fresh markets rose to Bt140 per kilogram from an average of Bt130-135 per kilogram last month.

A swine-farming source said the rise in the price of pork was due to a drop in the supply of pigs after farmers cut back in response to an over-supply starting in the middle of last year. That oversupply led to huge losses among farmers.

"The retail price of pork is expected to increase this week as the farm-gate price of pigs has increased by Bt2-Bt3 a kilo. As a result, prices of some foods and other protein sources could rise along with rising pork prices," the source said. Farm-gate value is the net value of a product when it leaves the farm, after marketing costs have been subtracted.
Attention

Food prices forecast to treble as climate goes wild


Danger on the road ahead...
Food prices tipped to treble over the next 20 years as an explosion in the world's population triggers a global fight for food.

A government adviser said everyday products such as cocoa and meat could become relative luxuries by the 2040s.

Professor Tim Benton, head of Global Food Security working group, added there could be shortages in the UK in the future as the emerging middle class in south-east Asia sparks a revolution in "food flows" such as the trade in grain and soya around the world.

Professor Benton, from the University of Leeds, told the Daily Telegraph: "Food is going to be competed for on a global scale. There's been a lot written about where food prices are going to go but they are certainly going to double, with some trebling. It's not just fruit and vegetables, but everything."

The shock forecast came as the chief executive of Tesco, Philip Clarke, warned the era of cheap food was over because of the forecast surge in demand.

Comment: Long-term population growth isn't the danger facing us right now: the danger facing us right now, as hinted at in the last line above, is that crops are failing left, right and center for the third year running...

3 strikes and you're out:

Rising food prices, climate change and global 'unrest'

Sherlock

Polish experts examine Kaczynski jet debris - prosecutors

© RIA Novosti. Oleg Mineev
Kaczynski Plane Debris
A Polish prosecutor and four experts are conducting an additional examination of seat fragments in the debris from a jet that crashed in Russia in 2010, killing Poland's then-president, Lech Kaczynski, the Polish Main Military Prosecutor's Office reported.

An Office spokesman said the Polish delegation's visit to Russia had been coordinated with the Russian side beforehand. The experts will work in the western Russian city of Smolensk until the end of next week.

The Russian-made Tu-154 jet, carrying Kaczynski, his wife and a host of top officials, crashed in heavy fog as it attempted to land at an airfield near Smolensk on April 10, 2010. The delegation was flying to Smolensk to mark the 70th anniversary of the 1940 Katyn massacre of thousands of Polish officers by Soviet secret police. All 96 people aboard the plane died.
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