US Olympic doctor faces trial for sexual abuse of athletes

A former doctor to gymnasts from successive US Olympic teams is to stand trial on charges that he sexually assaulted female athletes, one of whom was only 11, over almost two decades.A Michigan court on Friday said Larry Nassar will face 17 counts of c…

June 23, 2017

Brazil defends meat against US ban, but image tattered

Brazil’s agriculture minister Blairo Maggi announced Friday he will travel to the United States to fight a ban on Brazilian beef imports, but the Latin American country’s meat industry is already reeling.

“Brazil could lose a lot if it isn’t able to get this decision reversed,” Maggi announced in the wake of the US Department of Agriculture’s announcement Thursday of a ban on imports of fresh Brazilian beef due to “recurring” food safety concerns.

Brazil is the world’s leading beef and poultry exporter.

Officials spent Friday defending the quality of the country’s beef, part of one of the economy’s most important sectors.

“We know what we are doing and the federal inspection system is robust,” the agriculture secretary, Eumar Novacki, told a press conference.

Although the United States imports only a sliver of Brazil’s fresh beef exports, it is a prestigious market.

“In the short term, the scale of purchases by the United States is not that great but it sends a very important signal, telling other international buyers that there are problems,” said Cesar de Castro Alves, an analyst at the MBAgro consultancy.

The image problem is especially acute since Brazil had just been getting over a major scandal in March when 21 meat processors were accused by Brazilian police of adulterating bad quality meat and bribing inspectors.

That prompted some 20 countries — including chief beef markets China and Hong Kong — to suspend all Brazilian meat imports. The bans caused havoc in the $13 billion a year industry, which employs some six million people, before being finally lifted.

– Trade maneuvers? –

The United States had imposed inspections on 100 percent of Brazilian meat imports since the March row, with US inspectors rejecting 11 percent of the products — compared to one percent from other countries.

In Brazil, the US clampdown is seen as partly influenced by trade rivalries, as well as health concerns. The United States is the world’s top beef producer.

“We do have a sanitation problem but also big pressure from US producers who don’t want to see Brazilian beef there. We are major competitors on the world stage and we are selling them meat,” Maggi said.

This comes on the back of a breakthrough for the United States in May when China authorized US beef imports for the first time in 13 years.

That may be coincidental, analysts say, but there’s no question that Brazil’s industry feels it’s taking hits from several directions.

“The US (ban) decision threatens Brazilian farmers even more when they are facing a series of difficulties,” the Confederation of Agriculture said.

– JBS a target –

At the eye of the turbulent Brazilian meat industry is the giant meatpacker JBS, which was caught up in the rotten meat and bribery scandal.

It has taken on an even higher profile after a top company executive accused President Michel Temer of corruption.

Temer was secretly recorded by the owner of JBS parent company J&F, Joesley Batista, allegedly agreeing to pay hush money to a politician.

The recording was handed over to prosecutors, who are pushing to bring Temer to trial, as part of a plea bargain over massive corruption by J&F.

Batista and his brother avoided jail but J&F must pay a record 10.3 billion reais (approximately $3 billion) in fines over 25 years.

June 23, 2017

Poland approves restrictions on morning-after pill

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda approved on Friday a new law limiting access to the morning-after pill in the devoutly Catholic country, which already has one of the EU’s most restrictive abortion rules. The contraception method will from now on be ava…

June 23, 2017

Spieth leads Reed by one at PGA Travelers

Jordan Spieth fired a one-under par 69 to seize a one-stroke lead over fellow Americans Patrick Reed and Troy Merritt after Friday’s second round of the US PGA Travelers Championship.Sixth-ranked Spieth, the 2015 Masters and US Open champion seeking hi…

June 23, 2017

Helmut Kohl’s son calls funeral plans ‘unworthy’ of legacy

The elder son of Germany’s legendary chancellor Helmut Kohl, who died last week, called on Friday the plans for his father’s funeral “unworthy” of a man considered the father of German reunification, further enflaming a family feud with his stepmother….

June 23, 2017

GM reaches settlement over faulty ignition switches

US auto giant General Motors has reached a settlement with hundreds of car owners in a lawsuit over faulty ignition switches linked to 100 deaths, the company’s lawyers said Friday.In a letter to a federal judge in New York, the lawyers said GM has “ag…

June 23, 2017

White House dubs Gulf crisis ‘a family issue’

The White House said Friday it considers the deepening crisis in the Gulf to be primarily “a family issue,” urging regional leaders to chart a way out while offering US help in enabling talks.When asked about a list of demands placed on Doha by Saudi A…

June 23, 2017

Venezuelans rally in anger at death of young protestor

Venezuelan demonstrators blocked streets Friday in protests over the death of a young man shot by police during an anti-government rally the night before.Blowing horns and banging pots, protestors massed on streets in Caracas and other cities, causing …

June 23, 2017

All Blacks, Lions to clash in Auckland

The All Blacks will clash with the British and Irish Lions on Saturday in a hotly anticipated first Test pitting the world champions against Warren Gatland’s fast-improving team.While New Zealand are defending a 23-year unbeaten record at Auckland’s Ed…

June 23, 2017

Jury awards $218 mn to farmers in Syngenta GMO corn lawsuit

A US federal jury on Friday ordered Swiss agribusiness giant Syngenta to pay nearly $218 million to 7,000 Kansas farmers after selling them genetically-modified corn seeds not approved for export to China.The farmers suffered profound economic damage i…

June 23, 2017

Chile apologizes to tribe for historic ‘horrors’

Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet apologized on behalf of the nation Friday to the Mapuche indigenous tribe for the “horrors” of post-colonial abuse they suffered.Considered the earliest inhabitants of parts of Chile, the Mapuche fought against the S…

June 23, 2017

Tourist bus hits Paris bridge, at least four injured

An open-top double-decker tourist bus crashed into a central Paris bridge during an Olympic fun day on Friday, injuring at least four passengers, firefighters said.The bus, with seating on the upper deck for sightseeing, was too high to pass under the …

June 23, 2017

Police foil ‘terrorist action’ in Mecca: state TV

Saudi Arabian police foiled on Friday a “terrorist action” against Islam’s holiest site, where millions of faithful from around the world have gathered, the state Al-Ekhbaria news channel said.Citing the Ministry of the Interior, it said 11 people were…

June 23, 2017

Kurdish designers bring fight with IS to Paris catwalk

Dilan Lurr and his sister Lezan often ask themselves where would they be now if their parents had not left Iraq when they were children.Would they be fighting against Islamic State like their cousins back in Kirkuk?What is almost certain they would not…

June 23, 2017