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China’s ‘Bandit King’ given life term in ‘massive’ bribery case

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Lai Changxing, dubbed the Bandit King, has been given a life sentence for years of smuggling and corruption that added up to billions of US dollars or Pounds sterling. The Chinese court described the values as “massive”.

Lai smuggled goods worth more than £2 billion into Xiamen, bypassing more than £1 billion in import duty. He paid 64 local officials a total of almost £4 million in bribes, giving him effective control of the city from 1995 to 1999. He fled China after becoming a wanted man in 1999 and went to Canada via Hong Kong; the following year, Premier Zhu Rongji said “If Lai was executed three times over, it would not be too much”.

As head of the Yuanhua Group, Lai smuggled in cars, chemicals, oil, cigarettes, and other goods. He distributed bundles of cash to the poor, owned and played for his local football team, built stadia, owned a bulletproof Mercedes that once belonged to President Jiang Zemin, and attempted to construct a tower that would have been the nation’s tallest building. He attained local popularity for funding construction projects including schools, hundreds of tower blocks, and the local airport.

As well as money, officials were offered alcohol and prostitutes. Many were offered time at Lai’s seven-storey brothel, the Red Mansion, and feasted at a replica of the Forbidden City.

State TV has broadcast footage depicting a banquet table with a tiger skin laid upon it, cars given to officials, a young woman alleged to have been donated as a lover, and a sackful of gold rings. The case’s prominence was such that Liu Liying, boss of the national Central Discipline Inspection Committee, took charge of bringing Lai down.

Subsequent investigations have examined more than 1,000 suspects with police at one stage turning over an entire hotel to the probe, filling rooms with suspects. National newspaper The People’s Daily has suggested it is the most serious economic crime in modern Chinese history. He was the nation’s top car importer and one of the main traders in oil and imported cigarettes.

Hundreds of officials have been convicted and it is estimated hundreds more remain. Fellow life-sentence prisoners from the case include the city’s deputy mayor and its head of customs. The nation’s former vice-minister for security, Li Jizhou, has a suspended death sentence. Other suspects have killed themselves.

The sums involved are unusually large, and the details are extraordinarily serious

Upon his escape from the nation Lai became China’s most-wanted fugitive. Twelve years of negotiations ended with a Chinese promise Lai would be spared the death penalty, and Canada extradited him last year. Numerous lower-ranking members of Lai’s empire have already been given life imprisonment or death sentences. With execution off the table, the court gave Lai the highest sentence possible: in addition to the life term, he received fifteen years for bribery and had all his possessions confiscated.

The court justified the “double sentence” on the grounds “the sums involved are unusually large, and the details are extraordinarily serious”. “The crimes involve massive sums and particularly serious circumstances,” court officials told Xinhua. Lai had denied corruption at his trial, although he accepted exploiting loopholes to avoid import duty.

“I don’t have a good family background,” Lai said previously in a press interview. “I have to do things step by step by myself. That’s how people came to respect me. I never fussed about big money.” Lai was born as one of eight siblings in the midst of famine.

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Wikinews interviews Joe Schriner, Independent U.S. presidential candidate

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Journalist, counselor, painter, and US 2012 Presidential candidate Joe Schriner of Cleveland, Ohio took some time to discuss his campaign with Wikinews in an interview.

Schriner previously ran for president in 2000, 2004, and 2008, but failed to gain much traction in the races. He announced his candidacy for the 2012 race immediately following the 2008 election. Schriner refers to himself as the “Average Joe” candidate, and advocates a pro-life and pro-environmentalist platform. He has been the subject of numerous newspaper articles, and has published public policy papers exploring solutions to American issues.

Wikinews reporter William Saturn? talks with Schriner and discusses his campaign.

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U.S. ISPs to test restricting heavy Internet users

Thursday, June 5, 2008

On June 3rd, 2008, two United States Internet service providers (ISPs) announced they would begin tests to slow web access for their most active customers and charge them for extra speed. Comcast and Time Warner Cable, two of the largest ISPs in North America, both made separate announcements of their plans. The actions come in the wake of an investigation by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), over whether Comcast had restricted some customers from sharing videos, music, and similar files. The FCC investigation led to a US Congress debate over whether and how much control ISPs should have over the flow of customer data.

Public interest groups complained in November 2007 to the FCC that Comcast had specifically targeted customers using applications that made use of the BitTorrent system, a popular form of file sharing. Free Press, an advocacy group that pushes for better oversight of cable operators such as Comcast, stated that Comcast practices were discriminatory towards users of the legal technology. “The cable companies see a hammer hovering above their heads and are scrambling to find ways to reduce the appearance of wrongdoing,” said Ben Scott, head of the group.

According to Roger Entner, a senior vice president from Nielsen IAG, as little as 5 percent of all Internet users may consume as much as 50 percent of all the bandwidth on the Internet. “This is the politically correct version of doing what Comcast had been doing before, though it takes the occasional [peer-to-peer] user off the hook,” Entner said. Sena Fitzmaurice, a Comcast spokesperson, said, “This says we won’t be looking at what type of traffic that there is, even though we still need to manage the network.”

Comcast’s tests are expected to begin in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and Warrenton, Virginia.

While Comcast will attempt to throttle the speed of all its high-volume users, Time Warner Cable intends to use a different method. They will meter and bill clients, charging more money for faster speeds and larger amounts of transmitted data, functioning more like a traditional public utility, such as an electric company or cell phone service. Their metered billing test will begin on June 5 in Beaumont, Texas for newly enrolled customers. “Instead of raising prices across the board, consumers who are excessive users would pay,” said Alex Dudley, a Time Warner Cable spokesman. “It is clearly the fairest way to fund the investment that is going to be required to support that use.”

An Associated Press report that Time Warner Cable will bill customers between $29.95 to $54.90USD per month has been confirmed by the cable operator, with clients charged an extra $1 for each gigabyte (GB) by which they exceed their purchased plan. Art Brodsky, communications director of Public Knowledge, a consumer advocacy group in Washington D.C., has expressed concerns about the Time Warner Cable plan. Time Warner Cable’s most expensive offering, $54.90, comes with 15 megabits-per-second of data transfer speed and a 40 gigabyte limit on total data transfer.

“An HD (high-definition) movie is 8GB or so, three movies is more than half your allowance for a month, and heaven knows what else you might want to watch,” Brodsky says. “This is not a relieving congestion scheme as much as it is a rationing scheme. All it does is protect an inadequate infrastructure from the cable company.”

Custom Ceramic Pet Urns: Loving Memories For Family Pets

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Custom Ceramic Pet Urns: Loving Memories for Family Pets


Emmett Dean

Ceramic urns could be finished in each of those matte and high shine glazes and customized ceramic pieces deliver the opportunity for high amounts of customization. A unique ceramic urn can include objects embedded in the glaze in addition to name personalization using specialty paints.

Sheet metal Cremation Urns

Normal for members of the military and those seeking today\’s, distinguished vessel because of their loved one, shiny steel urns are widely used selections. Availability ranges in proportion from tiny to spacious and metals frequently used are brass and additionally bronze. Finishes vary when do shape : brushed or high-polish exteriors and shapes between traditional vase-like boats to cast pup bones and beyond. Metal also provides a high degree associated with potential customization as you possibly can contract with talented casters to make a specialty shape that honors that memory of your beloved to a first tee.

Amenable yourself to a wide variety of unique urns in addition to let Une Belle Vie help you and your family celebrate a beautiful life onto your terms. We\’d be honored to join your family\’s reminiscences.

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At some point, many of us experienced the pain with losing a beloved family pet. Whether our pet has lived long life or they passed too soon, when time comes to bury them, many families choose to have their domestic pets cremated and keep the ashes in a pet cremation urn. Find out how to decide what style of urn to get to contain your pup or cat\’s ashes? There are a multitude of options when it comes to selecting the pet urn this may perfect keepsake for your pet.

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U.S. Housing prices down 9% since February

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U.S. Housing prices down 9% since February

22 Mar

Sunday, June 26, 2005

The median house price in the United States plunged 6.5% in May to $217,000. In February of 2005, the median price of a home was $237,300.

The Economist newspaper said in its June 16th issue; “In other words, it looks like the biggest bubble in history.” by way of reference to what is happening with housing prices in the USA and much of Europe.

Japan provides an example of how a boom can turn to bust. Property prices have dropped for 14 years in a row (40% from their peak in 1991); and yet, the rise in prices in Japan during the decade before 1991 was less than the increase over the past ten years in most of today’s “housing boom” countries.

The total value of residential property rose by more than $30 trillion over the past five years in developed economies, an increase equivalent to 100% of the combined GDPs of those countries. This increase dwarfs all previous house-price booms and is greater than the global stockmarket bubble in the late 1990s. Much of the recent housing activity is being driven by speculative demand. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that 23% of all American houses bought in 2004 were for investment, not for owners to live in. Another 13% were bought as second homes. NAR also found that 42% of all first-time buyers made no down-payment on their home purchase last year.

Many investors are buying solely because they think prices will keep rising, which is a warning sign of a financial bubble. In Miami, Florida, as many as half of the original buyers resell new apartments even before they are built, and properties can change hands two or three times before somebody finally moves in.

Britain’s Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) reported prices have been falling for ten consecutive months. Forty nine percent of their surveyors reported falling prices in May. This was the weakest report since 1992 during Britain’s previous house-price bust.

Spreading floods in Pakistan worsen, at least 1600 dead

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Spreading floods in Pakistan worsen, at least 1600 dead

22 Mar

Friday, August 6, 2010

Since last reported, the flooding in Pakistan has spread and has now struck more than four million people. The UN reports it has left at least 1,600 people dead. The floods have been confirmed as the worst in eighty years.

Heavy monsoon rains led to the flooding of the huge Indus River, destroying homes in the north of the country and causing a large amount of damage in the north-west frontier province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Manuel Bessler of the United Nations said: “What we are facing now is a major catastrophe. We are afraid it will get worse.”

Army and government forces have rushed to evacuate hundreds of thousands of people from parts of the Punjab province of Pakistan, where the disaster spread to yesterday, and from Sindh province, where the flood is expected to reach by the weekend.

The flooding is now in its second week and the situation is unlikely to improve any time soon, especially since in many parts of the country there is still torrential rain, with more forecast. In other parts of Pakistan the water has receded, but this leaves a layer of mud and slime and this covers very large areas. For those affected by the floods, disease is the biggest problem now. The insanitary conditions have already caused diarrhoea and respiratory infections. Cholera and other water-borne diseases may appear if sanitary conditions for those displaced by the calamity are not established. Medical supplies are desperately needed for doctors to keep a pandemic or epidemic of a water-borne disease from infecting the victims of the flooding.

Relief has been hardest to provide in the north-west where many bridges and roads have been washed away. Whole towns have been cut off and this makes providing aid to those areas a very difficult task.

Air force pilots have been volunteering to fly aid missions to badly hit areas, transporting medical supplies, clean water and food to where it is needed. The transport planes carry enough foodstuffs to feed one hundred families for a month. Motivation for the missions among pilots is very high, as is the tension in the transport planes as they fly at 36,000 feet over the flood-hit country. Only from the air is the full extent of the damage visible. Pilots have been flying the maximum number of hours allowed and pushing the limits of their endurance to give the victims of the flood food, water and everything they need to survive.

Many foreign governments and aid agencies are contributing to the disaster relief effort. The U.S. Army has been flying relief missions, airlifting people from areas where they are stranded. The first mission involved four U.S. Chinook helicopters landing in the tourist town of Kalam in the Swat Valley, north-west Pakistan. The resort had been cut off for more than a week, according to a reporter there. The Chinooks flew hundreds of people to safer areas lower down. A U.S. Embassy spokesperson said that 800 people had been evacuated and relief goods had been distributed.

The U.S. government pledged 10 million dollars in assistance following the first reports of the disaster. Yesterday the country promised a further 25 million dollars in aid. A spokesperson from the Embassy said: “The U.S. is making a new contribution of 25 million dollars in assistance to flood-affected populations, bringing its total commitment to date to more than 35 million dollars.” The money will go to international aid organisations and established Pakistani aid groups to provide food, health care and shelter to people displaced by the floods.

Malaysia has also decided to contribute US$1 million for relief efforts in the form of humanitarian aid. The Foreign Ministry said the aid was a manifestation of the government and the people’s concern and sympathy. “The government of Malaysia hopes the contribution will help alleviate the suffering of flood victims in Pakistan.”

In Britain, the Disasters Emergency Committee, an umbrella organisation representing 13 of the leading UK humanitarian agencies, has been coordinating relief efforts and has launched an emergency appeal for public donations to help the victims of the crisis. Charities and aid agencies have been quick to respond to the disaster, sending aid and response teams to the worst hit areas. Food, water, shelter and medical supplies have been provided but much more is needed.

Patrick Fuller of the Red Cross (the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies), who has been based in the country for a few days, described the situation on the ground as “desperate” and said the worst hit areas are “totally dependent” on outside help. He said the Red Cross movement is working with local partners to get aid packages, containing cooking tools and shelter such as tents and blankets, to 35,000 families.

The Red Cross alone has distributed 10,000 food packs and 1000 tents across the affected areas so far. However, figures for the amount of aid distributed are constantly changing as this is an ongoing relief effort.

Fuller reported that in Nowshera, which is in the north-west of the country close to the Indus River, “80% of homes have been badly damaged or destroyed, all the mud-brick houses have been washed away.

“In the most remote areas – where roads are cut off – donkeys are making eight-hour hikes to reach people.

“We are trying to move people into temporary camps – giving them timber, roofing sheets and basic shelter – but there is the added complication that many are reluctant to leave whatever homes they have left.”This has also been a problem in the south of the country in Sindh province, where the flood is expected to reach by the weekend. Evacuations have been going on to move people out of the path of the flood but many will not join the mass exodus and have chosen to brave the waters.

“Many people rely on open wells, which have been contaminated, so access to clean water is a problem. We are worried about communicable diseases, like respiratory infections, skin diseases, diarrhoea,” Mr Fuller said.

The charity have been setting up mobile medical teams to better combat disease and infection.

Though the relief effort at the moment is focused on the survival of those hit by the catastrophe, on those who “had their lives swept away in seconds”, the relief effort is expected to last a full six months.

Those who will be most affected in the long term by this disaster will be the poorest. They will have had everything washed away from them so they will have to start from scratch. Sadly, for those living in the poorest areas in the north and centre of Pakistan, the fight for survival is only just beginning and though they may feel they are enduring much at the moment, getting their lives back together after the first stages of this calamity are over is going to be even harder.

The Disasters Emergency Committee has said it has managed to give aid to 300,000 people so far. Many UK charities have been distributing food and medicine, as well as water purification tablets, cooking tools, shelter and hygiene kits. They have been using rafts, boats and donkeys. Brendan Gormley, chief executive of the DEC, said: “These devastating floods have left millions fighting to survive with little food, clean water or shelter.”

The DEC has appealed for donations from the public of the UK to help the victims of this crisis. The appeal is to allow the charities to continue relief work in the worst hit areas of the country.

Following a television appeal by the DEC, £2.5 million was raised and this has enabled the 13 charities the committee represents to reach 300,000 people with emergency supplies.

Thousands continue to flee fighting in Yemen

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Thousands continue to flee fighting in Yemen

22 Mar

Friday, December 11, 2009

The United Nations refugee agency reports thousands of civilians continue to flee their homes in northern Yemen as fighting between government troops and Al Houti rebel forces enters a fifth month. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says the situation in the Saada province remains particularly tense as more people arrive there.

The U.N. refugee agency reports clashes have broken out in a number of districts in the Saada province as more people arrive. It says the situation in the Razeh district is particularly serious.

The UNHCR says the civilian population there faces restrictions of movement and lacks basic services such as electricity and water. It says shortages of food and other commodities are pushing prices up sharply and an increasing number of people cannot afford to buy what they need.

U.N. refugee spokesman Andrej Mahecic says the influx of huge numbers of people in neighboring Hajjah and Amran provinces is putting a strain on shelter and aid.

There are now some 21,000 IDPs living in a camp initially designed to shelter up to 10,000 people

“Over the past month alone, the IDP [internally displaced people] population of al-Mazrak One camp in Hajjah governorate has doubled. There are now some 21,000 IDPs living in a camp initially designed to shelter up to 10,000 people and overcrowding is presently the top concern for us,” he said. “At least some 500 families in al-Mazrak camp are sharing their tents, normally meant for one family, with one or two other households. We estimate another 1,300 families who are accommodated in 48 large communal tents in four transit areas of the camp, are presently waiting for allocation of a family tent.”

The UNHCR reports overcrowding in the camp is hampering delivery of humanitarian services. The agency says it reached an agreement with Yemeni authorities this week to build a third camp. And, plans are underway to set up a camp that would potentially house some 7,000 people.

Mahecic says the number of IDPs settling with local populations outside the camps has increased as well. He says local communities are bearing the brunt of the continuing displacement in Yemen. He says aid agencies are looking at ways they can assist host families.

The U.N. refugee agency reports an estimated 175,000 people have been affected by the conflict in Yemen since 2004, including those displaced by the latest crisis.

Setting Up A New Site: What Basic Office Supplies In Madison, Wi Are Needed Right Now?

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byAlma Abell

Opening an office after running a new business out of a back bedroom is a heady experience. Along with thinking about details like computer equipment and furnishings, it pays to think about what type of basic Office Supplies in Madison WI will be needed immediately. While some things can wait until everyone is settled in, others must be in place for the office to function. Here are some examples to keep in mind.

Copy Paper

Even with the use of file sharing, email, and other electronic means of communication, there is still the need to print some things out for meetings or to prepare paper copies of invoices. Always make sure copy paper is on that list of basic Office Supplies in Madison WI and ensure there is plenty before the office officially opens. Doing so ensures the employees can get right to work without having to wait for the paper to be delivered.

Printer Cartridges

Cartridges for every printer in the office must be in place. Fresh cartridges should be in those printers, and the supply closet should sport at least one compatible cartridge for each of those devices. If the office functioned with the use of one central printer, it wouldn’t hurt to hold two in reserve.

Note Pads

The ability to quickly write out a note that can be passed down the conference room table during an audio conference or to take a message from a caller who despises voice mail is always helpful. That means having something to write on when those occasions arise. Good, old-fashioned note pads do the job.

Pens and Pencils

Jotting down notes during a phone conversation is still one of the more common tasks associated with office work. Jotting is a lot easier if there is a pen or pencil handy to go with those note pads. Pay close attention to the quality and spend a little more up front. The last thing anyone needs is a pen that won’t write or a pencil lead that breaks every time someone tries to use it.

The expense of opening a new office is significant. Learn more about us and how to prioritize the selection of supplies. Once the office is up and running, there will be time to think about purchasing other supplies that are needed less frequently.

Canada to legalise marijuana to ‘make it more difficult for kids to access’

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Canada to legalise marijuana to ‘make it more difficult for kids to access’

22 Mar

Sunday, April 16, 2017

In order to put the cannabis drug (marijuana) out of reach of minors, the Canadian federal government announced a bill to legalise cannabis for the age group of eighteen and above, on Thursday. The bill would allow adults to possess cannabis publicly, previously a criminal offence.

Canada’s health minister Jane Philpott tweeted, “Today we tabled new legislation to legalise, strictly regulate, and restrict access to cannabis. Our goal: keep it out of the hands of youth, and profits out of the hands of criminals.”((fr))French language: Ajd nous avons déposé un nouveau projet de loi pour légaliser le cannabis, le réglementer de manière stricte et en restreindre l’accès. Notre objectif: garder le cannabis hors de la portée des jeunes, & les profits hors des mains des criminels. The Canadian government, via their official website, explained cannabis is available illegally, and their measures to stop it did not work. Criminal organisations are making money selling cannabis. Under-aged people can obtain the drug easily; they said, “it is easier for our kids to buy cannabis than cigarettes.”

The bill allows provinces and territories to set the age limit above eighteen. In order to prevent criminal gangs from making a profit, selling the drug needs a license permitting its sale. Adults can purchase the drug online from a licensed producer if a retail shop is not available in the province.

Adults can carry up to 30 g (slightly over an ounce) of cannabis and grow at most four cannabis plants at home, for personal use. The plants should be no taller than a metre, the bill proposed. Selling cannabis to minors would be a specific criminal offence.

The legislation requires parliamentary approval and royal assent. If passed, the bill would be under effect by July 2018, the government said. Health and safety experts and law enforcement were consulted before proposing the legislation. Except for medical purposes, possession of the drug remains illegal until the bill is passed. Regardless of the status of the bill, import and export of the drug would be illegal.

Previously when the government increased the taxes on cigarettes to discourage citizens from smoking, a black market for cigarettes developed.

Along with legalising cannabis, the bill would also permit the police officials to use tools like oral fluid drug screeners to detect if drivers are under the influence of the drug. Zero tolerance against drivers under influence of drugs is proposed. The government would also implement a public awareness campaign on the perils of driving under the influence of drugs.

The government still working on the restrictions. Lawmaker and former police chief Bill Blair said, “We do accept that more important work remains to be done.” If the bill is passed, Canada would be the second country to legalise cannabis completely. Uruguay is the first. Some countries, such as Germany, allow medical use of cannabis, but recreational use is prohibited.

Murray Hill on the life and versatility of a New York drag king

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Murray Hill on the life and versatility of a New York drag king

22 Mar

Monday, November 19, 2007

Drag—dressing in the clothing atypical of your born gender—in recent years has found mainstream success. Films such as Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar have prominently featured drag performers. But they have all focused on men in drag as women.

Murray Hill is a comedian, emcee and performer. He is also a drag king. Called “The Hardest Working Middle-aged Man in Show Business”, The New York Times christened him “the current reigning patriarch of the downtown performance community.” He is seemingly everywhere, emceeing a bingo night at the now closed, Jimmy Fallon-backed Mo Pitkins’ House of Satisfaction on Avenue A, or hosting the Polyamorous Pride Day in Central Park. Hill has become a legend in New York’s “anything goes” counterculture theater scene who is beginning to find mainstream success; which would be a first for a drag king.

David Shankbone’s examination of New York City‘s culture has brought him to the whip’s end of a BDSM dungeon, on the phone with RuPaul, matching wits with Michael Musto, grilling Gay Talese, eating dinner with Augusten Burroughs and quizzing the bands that play the Bowery Ballroom. In this segment he talks to downtown legend Murray Hill, former New York City mayoral candidate and comedian, on the last night of Mo Pitkins’ House of Satisfaction.


  • 1 Murray Hill the performer
  • 2 Murray Hill the person
  • 3 Drag as performance art for women
  • 4 The gay community and drag artists
  • 5 Drag queens and drag kings: the differences
  • 6 The direction of New York downtown culture
  • 7 Sources