Items filtered by date: Friday, 28 April 2017

Alexa, how do I look?

Amazon 'style assistant' divides opinion

Some say it could inspire confidence while others voiced privacy concerns.
The $200 (£154) gadget, not yet on sale, features a camera to capture full-length selfies and video which can be stored to create a personal "look book".
It uses smart assistant Alexa to give a verdict on outfit choices and recommend clothes to buy.
It is listed as available "by invitation only" on the Amazon website and is aimed at the US market only.
"With this data, Amazon won't be able to just sell you clothes or judge you. It could analyze (sic) if you're depressed or pregnant and much else," tweeted Zeynap Tufekci, assistant professor at the University of North Carolina.
"Not just a privacy disaster; people don't understand what algorithms can infer from pictures. You are disclosing a lot of health info, too."
Amazon said that it would not share any personal information with advertisers or third party websites.

But Fiona Blake, who runs a closed Facebook page where hundreds of women share photos of their outfits and offer each other supportive fashion advice, said she thought the Echo Look sounded like a good idea.
"People struggle with looking in the mirror and taking photographs of themselves," she said.
"This is brilliant daily inspiration. You could flick through your own personal Pinterest board [of outfit choices] - that is key for getting up, getting dressed and getting out there.
"I'm happy for someone to recommend something. I can't get to every high street shop. I don't mind being sold to but I know a lot of people don't like that approach."

Professional stylist Donna McCulloch, from Sulky Doll stylists, said people should not rely on an app to tell them what to wear.
"If you are unsure about an outfit, then trust your own gut instinct and try a different look instead," she said.

Ben Wood, analyst at CCS Insight, said the Echo Look may not appeal to all ages.
"For younger people that happily share regular moments of their life via SnapChat and Instagram, the general response has been positive with the main limitation being the price," he told the BBC.
"However, for a slightly older audience it either seems completely unnecessary (I already have a full length mirror) or is regarded as a considerable privacy concern - particularly in the context of a device that it makes sense to have in a bedroom.
"It underlines Amazon's ambitions for its growing range of Alexa-powered Echo products. The Echo Look helps extend its reach into other parts of people's homes and also in the dramatically different product categories orientated around fashion."

  • Published in Tech

Exhausted Duterte jokes: No more 'summit summit'

MANILA – Toward the end of perhaps one of his busiest days as head of state, President Rodrigo Duterte plodded up the steps to the stage, wiped his nose with the back of his hand, scratched his nape, stood on the rostrum and declared: no more summits.
The Philippine president faced the press Saturday night in a briefing to conclude the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, appearing exhausted over his debut hosting.
“Anak ka ng… Kung ganito lang ang summit, kanselado na ‘yung sa November (If summits are like this, then let’s just cancel the one in November),” Duterte said in jest, the top of his barong unbuttoned, his sleeves rolled up.
The Philippines is scheduled to again serve as the venue for the ASEAN Summit in November. And 72-year-old Duterte, the oldest to ever be elected Philippine president, is again due to play host.
“’Yung sa Foreign Affairs, Sir, ‘wag ka nang mag-summit summit dito (To the Foreign Affairs [Secretary], do not hold any more summits here),” joked Duterte, referring to acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo.
Throughout the day, Duterte had shown restraint of the playful ways he usually exhibits in public, as if keenly aware that he was in the company of other ASEAN leaders.
He stuck to prepared speeches, his words measured, in stark contrast to lengthy impromptu remarks in his public outings.
But after a full day restricted by protocol, Duterte let loose in meeting the press Saturday night, even joking that the media should have been invited to the gala dinner with ASEAN leaders and other dignitaries.
“Sabi nang ‘wag kayong mag-summit-summit kung wala kayong pera (I told you not to host summits if you don’t have a budget),” Duterte said, drawing chuckles from those in the room.
At one point, when an officer approached to remind him it was time for the gala dinner, Duterte said: “They (ASEAN leaders) can start dinner.”
He eventually obliged and excused himself from the media: “I do not want to…[but] somebody would need to eat now.”

But before leaving the stage, Duterte called on the women, saying the ladies would usually ask for photos with him in his press engagements.
“I am not trying to be a show-off, but I’ve noticed that after every conference, a lot of mostly women would want to have a picture with me. Women, come up and we’ll have the pictures,” said the President.
He took a few minutes taking selfies and group photos before heading to his dinner hosting.


Leni to graduates: Take leap of faith when necessary

TANAUAN CITY, Batangas - Vice President Leni Robredo visited Tanauan City on Saturday for the 13th commencement exercises of the First Asia Institute of Technology and Humanities.
In her speech, Robredo shared her experience before, during and after college.
Before she went to college, she said that she was very sure that she wanted to become a lawyer and follow the footsteps of her father who was a judge in their hometown.
But everything changed when she studied at the University of the Philippines (UP), taking up Economics during martial law.
Robredo said, "Before I went to UP, I shied away from all political discussions."
While in college, she said she realized the need to get involved due to the "abuses, plunder and worsening poverty" under the Marcos dictatorship.
"That's when I realized I needed to get involved and fight the oppressive regime," she said.
After the EDSA revolution overthrew the Marcos regime, Robredo said that was when she realized she could not go straight to law school as she had planned.
She said she wanted to "go straight to public service" to help Filipinos get a better life.
Although she was afraid of what his father might tell her, the Vice President said she took the leap of faith.
This is what she also asked from the new graduates: to take the leap of faith when necessary - but always remember that when facing such a phase of life, ask if it's right thing to do.
"Always ask yourself, 'Am I doing the right thing?' Ask yourself, 'How will my decision affect others?" she said.

Fay Virrey, ABS-CBN News


Labor group says Duterte breaking Labor Day tradition, promises

A labor group on Saturday expressed dismay at President Rodrigo Duterte for "breaking tradition" and his supposed failure to fulfill his promises ahead of the celebration of Labor Day on Monday.
"Breaking tradition, President Duterte will celebrate this year's Labor Day at a public park in Davao City instead of Malacañan Palace where labor leaders used to be treated to a breakfast, a dialogue or a gift-giving ceremony," Lakas Manggawa Labor Center (LMLC) vice chairman Dave Diwa said in a forum held in Quezon City.
In an invitation letter shared by Diwa to GMA News Online, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) invited LMLC members to the Labor Day assembly with the Duterte on May 1 at the People's Park in Davao City.
Diwa said that almost 50 labor group leaders from Metro Manila were invited by DOLE to attend the Labor Day event in Davao City.
Instead of flying to Davao City, Diwa said groups will hold protests and join Labor Day events in Metro Manila on Monday.
"NAGKAISA, a broad coalition of some 47 labor federations will march from Welcome Rotunda to Mendiola in fron tof Malacañang. In the afternoon, the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) will assemble at the Liwasang Bonifacio and by four o'clock will also march to Mendiola in Malacanan," he said.
"TUCP-ITUC (Trade Union Congress of the Philippines - International Trade Union Confederation) will join the government's "job fairs" in Quezon City. Other labor groups will celebrate Labor Day by conducting indoor memebership meetings and assemblies," he added.
Financial package
Diwa said that Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III had said that Duterte will unveil a "surprise financial package" during the Davao City event.
However, Diwa said that workers "cannot be appeased by dole outs."
"Barely 10 months in the office, we do not expect Duterte to grant many of the things denied to us over the years. But we expect him at least, to fulfil the promises he has made so far,"' he added.
Diwa also raised his concern over the increase in the contribution rate for Social Security System (SSS) members.
"President Duterte promised to give P2,000 additional pension to our workers who have retired from work in the private sector. He gave P1,000 but raised the contribution of SSS members from 11 percent to 16 percent in five years," he said.
Duterte in January approved a hike of P1,000 for the pension of some two million retired SSS members. Another P1,000 pension hike increase will be implemented in 2022.
The pension hike, however, comes with an increase of 1.5 percent in premiums of active members by May, which will increase the contribution rate from 11 percent to 12.5 percent to be shared by employer and employee.
SSS Chairman Amado Valdez said that the contribution rate could be increased annually until it reaches the target of 17 percent from the current rate over six years.
No real 'endo'
Diwa, meanwhile, said that DOLE's Department Order 174 was a "joke."
"He (Duterte) promised to cut by half the number of contractual employees by 2016. This is a joke. He promised to end contractualization this year, 2017, but the government issued Department Order No. 174 that further legitimizes contracting and sub-contracting of labor," Diwa said.
The DOLE order prohibits the repeated hiring of employees under an employment contract that falls short of the mandated six months to qualify for regularization.
"President Duterte has made his mark for millions of our workers today. He broke tradition; he did not fulfill two promises he made when he ran for office now that he is President," Diwa said.



Donald Trump has failed to achieve more than 80% of what he promised in his first 100 days

The president has successfully carried out only seven of the 38 promises in his 'Contract with the American Voter'

Less than one month before election day, Donald Trump addressed a crowd of supporters in historic Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Candidate Trump promised the crowd that, if elected, he would carry out every proposal laid out in his “Contract with the American Voter” – a 100-day, 38-prong plan to “restore prosperity to our economy, security to our communities, and honesty to our government.”

In an interview this month with the Associated Press, President Trump referred to the plan not as a contract, but as a “concept” that “somebody put out”.

“I'm mostly there on most items,” he said.

According to The Independent’s tally, Mr Trump has fully achieved seven of his 38 proposals. Others have been partially completed; some are impossible to quantify.

Below is a step-by-step review of every proposal Mr Trump made in his contract – and whether he has succeeded in his promise to carry them out by his 100th day in office.
? Sort of. Mr Trump ordered a hiring freeze – with exemptions for military personnel, national security and public safety – on 24 January. He lifted it fewer than three months later, on 12 April. Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, said the hiring freeze had been replaced by a “smarter plan, a more strategic plan.”

Promise: Propose a Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress.

Completed? No.

Promise: Impose a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated.

Completed? Yes. Mr Trump issued an executive order in January declaring “whenever an executive department or agency publicly proposes for notice and comment or otherwise promulgates a new regulation, it shall identify at least two existing regulations to be repealed.”
Promise: Impose a five-year ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service.

Completed? Kind of. Mr Trump issued an order requiring all executive appointees to pledge not to lobby for their agencies for five years. The order excludes congressional officials, and only limits lobbying for the agency in which the appointee served – not lobbying in general.

Promise: Impose a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.

Completed? Yes. The same executive order prevents executive appointees from lobbying on behalf of foreign governments.

Promise: Impose a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.

Completed? No.
Promise: Renegotiate Nafta or withdraw from the deal under Article 2205.

Completed? Sort of. Mr Trump has met with leaders from Mexico and Canada to discuss renegotiating the agreement, and this month he implemented his first tariffs against Canada. He has also required the US Department of Commerce and US Trade Representative to examine all the factors that contribute to the US trade deficit and submit a report on their findings. But just this week, he told leaders from Mexico and Canada he would not be withdrawing from the deal – yet.

Promise: Announce our withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

Completed? Yes. Mr Trump announced the US’s withdrawal from the TPP on 23 January.

Promise: Direct my secretary of the treasury to label China a currency manipulator

Completed? No. Mr Trump has reversed course on labelling the country a China manipulator, citing Chinese President Xi Jinping’s help in dealing with North Korea.
Promise: Direct the Secretary of Commerce and US Trade Representative to identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers and direct them to use every tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately.

Completed? Yes. Mr Trump is requiring his agency heads to conduct numerous such reviews. The “Buy American and Hire American” executive order, for example, requires the secretary of commerce and the US trade representative to “assess the impacts of all United States free trade agreements and the World Trade Organization Agreement,” among other things.

Promise: Lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal.

Completed? Kind of. Mr Trump has rescinded multiple Obama-era environmental executive orders, including one that prevented coal mining on federal lands and one that precluded mines from dumping waste into waterways. But how much money this plan will generate has yet to be seen, and the $50 trillion estimate appears to be inflated from the original Institute for Energy Research study.

Promise: Lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward.

Completed? Yes. Trump greenlighted the Keystone Pipeline in January.

Promise: Cancel billions in payments to UN climate change programmes and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure.

Completed? Kind of. Mr Trump’s proposed 2018 budget would eliminate the Global Climate Change Initiative and all US funding to the Green Climate Fund. But Congress is the one that controls the purse strings, and they generally view the President's budget simply as a starting point.
Promise: Cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama.

Completed? Who knows. It’s impossible to know now which orders, actions and memorandum Mr Trump considered “unconstitutional”. Mr Trump has rolled back a small fraction of Mr Obama’s 276 executive orders and 257 memoranda, including those on international abortions, historically black colleges and universities, and the aforementioned orders on climate change.

Promise: Begin the process of selecting a replacement for Justice Scalia from one of the 20 judges on my list.

Completed? Yes. The Senate confirmed Judge Neil Gorsuch as a Supreme Court Justice on 7 April. Mr Gorsuch was on the list of potential nominees Mr Trump released before the election.

Promise: Suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur.

Completed? No. Mr Trump’s executive order banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries was blocked by two separate federal judges. The revised order is currently subject to a temporary restraining order issued by a federal judge in Hawaii.

Promise: Cancel all federal funding to sanctuary cities.

Completed? No. Mr Trump’s order barring funding to cities that do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement authorities was blocked by a federal judge. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Justice Department will continue to litigate the case.

Promise: Begin removing the more than 2 million criminal illegal immigrants from the country and cancel visas to foreign countries that won’t take them back.

Completed? Sort of. Deportations can take months to complete, so it’s difficult to say exactly how many people Mr Trump has deported. Immigration arrests did increase in Mr Trump’s first weeks in office, by more than 30 per cent. But that included a two-fold increase in arrests of undocumented immigrants without a criminal record, too.

Promise: Introduce the Middle Class Tax Relief And Simplification Act, with “massive tax reduction and simplification”.

Completed? No. Mr Trump revealed a one-page outline of proposed tax reforms on 26 April. Mr Trump’s chief economic adviser called the proposal a “broad brush view” of what the final legislation will be.

Promise: Introduce the End The Offshoring Act, which would impose tariffs to “discourage companies from laying off their workers in order to relocate in other countries and ship their products back to the U.S. tax-free”.

Completed? No.

Promise: Introduce the American Energy & Infrastructure Act, a 10-year plan to spur infrastructure development through public-private partnerships and private investments.

Completed? No.

Promise: Introduce the School Choice And Education Opportunity Act to end common core, expand vocational and technical education, make two- and four-year colleges more affordable, and let parents send their children to the school of their choosing.

Completed? No. A similar bill, introduced by Representative Andy Biggs, is currently in committee. Mr Trump has not expressed his support for the legislation.

Promise: Introduce the Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act.

Completed? Yes, but... While Mr Trump did work with House Republicans on a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, he wound up asking for it to be pulled from a vote after hardline conservatives withheld their support. It was one of the biggest blows to Mr Trump’s legislative agenda yet.

Promise: Introduce the Affordable Childcare and Eldercare Act, allowing families to deduct childcare and elder care from their taxes, incentivising employers to provide on-site childcare, and creating tax-free Dependent Care Savings Accounts for young and elderly dependents.

Completed? No.

Promise: Introduce the End Illegal Immigration Act to fund the construction of a Mexican border wall, “with the full understanding that the country Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such wall”.

Completed? No. Mr Trump has not introduced such an act, and funding for the wall will likely not be included in the 2017 budget.

Promise: Introduce the Restoring Community Safety Act, creating a Task Force On Violent Crime and increasing funding for federal law enforcement agencies, federal prosecutors, and programmes that train and assist local police.

Completed? No.

Promise: Introduce the Restoring National Security Act to eliminate the defence sequester and expand military investment; give veterans the ability to attend the private doctor of their choice, and establish new screening procedures for immigration.

Completed? No.

Promise: Introduce the Clean up Corruption in Washington Act to enact new ethics reforms and reduce the influence of special interests on politics.

Completed: No. Mr Trump has not endorsed any of the various ethics bills introduced to Congress.

Emily Shugerman New York

  • Published in U.S.

Duterte calls for respect for independence in debut as Asean host

(Updated, 12:32 p.m.) President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (Asean) leaders to respect each countries’ independence in the region and find their place in the international arena.
Duterte debuted as host of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (Asean) summit here in Manila, the first test of his diplomacy as host.
He made the statement of independence and mutual respect among the Asean nations amid growing criticisms from the United States and the European Union on his administration’s brutal war on drugs, which reportedly claimed over 7,000 lives. The police, however, have said that only 2,600 deaths of drug pushers and users could be attributed to the intensified narcotics crackdown.
“Let me say again: relations bear fruit when they are based on mutual respect and benefit,” Duterte said.
Duterte also vouched for the non-interference principle of the Asean region, a principle the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights criticized as an excuse by Asean governments in blocking human rights protections under international law.
READ: Tackle ‘growing human rights crisis’ in the region, Asean urged
Facing mounting outcry from human rights groups hitting his campaign against drugs, Duterte has bristled at criticisms from the West on his brutal narcotics war, even cursing then US President Barack Obama for interfering in the country’s affairs.
“Dialogue relationship shall be made more productive, constructive if the valued principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of the Asean member states is observed,” Duterte said.
READ: Facing backlash on killings, Duterte to find solace in Asean
Duterte said it is time for the Asean region to find its place in the international arena.
“It is time, and the time is right, to finally assert with conviction its position in the international arena,” Duterte said.

Duterte led the Asean leaders at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), the main venue for the 30th Asean summit in Manila.
The Asean leaders in attendance were Myanmar state counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha, Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang, Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen, Indonesia President Joko Widodo, and Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Duterte also broadly raised the growing concern of disputes in the Asean region which he said must be settled through peaceful means under international rules.
Duterte did not specifically mention the maritime disputes in the South China Sea, where the Philippines and other Asean members Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam have overlapping claims with China.
Duterte has cozied up The Philippines’ relations with China amid a bonanza of loans and investments, even saying that he would not raise during the summit the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling favoring the Philippines’ maritime claims over the West Philippine Sea and invalidating China’s nine-dash line claiming most of the disputed waters.
READ: Duterte: Arbitral ruling not an issue for Asean
The Asean leaders, however, are expected to tackle the crafting of a Code of Conduct to govern the actions of Asean member states and China in the resource-rich waters.
“The region remains solid if all stakeholders learn to respect and value the peaceful resolution of disputes… We must adhere to the supremacy of the law, and the life of the primacy of rules as responsible members of the international community,” Duterte said.
Duterte likewise mentioned the menace in the region of illegal drugs, sharing with fellow Asean leaders his experience at seeing how the scourge of illegal substance destroy Filipinos’ lives, especially the youth.
Duterte won the elections in a campaign to eliminate the drug trade during his administration. While calling for the death of drug addicts, he has denied ordering the killings of drug suspects, saying that those who were killed resisted arrest.
“The scourge of illegal drugs threatens community building. I have seen how illegal drugs have ended the hopes, dreams and future, and even the lives of countless people, especially the youth,” Duterte said.
“The illegal drug trade apparatus is massive.. With political will and cooperation, it can be dismantled, it can be destroyed, before it destroys our society,” Duterte said.
Duterte also cited the need for the Asean to end the threat of terrorism, piracy, armed robbery, and violent extremism which destroy regional growth.
“Equally important, we must not waver to eliminate security threats to regional growth and development,” he added.
Duterte also took the opportunity to thank his Asean counterparts for the help they extended when Supertyphoon Yolanda (International name: Haiyan) flattened towns and cities in the country in 2013.
“Our region is one of the most vulnerable when it comes to natural disasters. Typhoon Haiyan turned some provinces and cities into wastelands. Thousands of lives were lost. Amid the desolation and destruction, I saw the resilience of our people to pick up pieces of their lives and start again,” Duterte said.
“This indomitable spirit of the Filipino people allows us to surpass the challenges that come our way. This is also why we are focused on becoming more prepared. The Philippines will never forget timely assistance from fellow Asean countries during our time of greatest need,” he added.
In his speech during the Asean Leadership Forum in Manila Hotel Friday, Duterte earlier underscored the need for Asean regional integration in the face of cultural differences and amid the threats of terrorism, violent extremism and criminality such as the illegal drug trade.
“We need to cultivate the sense of ownership by putting Asean in their consciousness… Let them feel they are a part of efforts to achieve common aspiration,” Duterte then said.
The Asean leaders will release the chairman’s statement at the end of the summit to sum up the points of consensus on issues.
The Asean leaders are also expected to sign the Declaration on the Role of the Civil Service as A Catalyst for Achieving ASEAN Community Vision 2025.
READ: Asean meet is Duterte’s debut as summit host
The Asean leaders are also expected this afternoon to have an interface with the Asean parliamentarians and lawmakers, as well as the Asean youth.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez as chairperson of the Asean Inter-parliamentary Assembly will deliver the draft message of the parliamentarians’ group to the Asean leaders.
The Asean parliamentarians and lawmakers are expected to stress the importance of the Asean work plan against illicit drugs and the declaration of a Code of Conduct on the South China Sea.

National Youth Commission chairperson Aiza Seguerra will deliver the statement during the interface between the Asean leaders and the Asean youth, where she is set to appeal for support from the leaders on issues relating to climate change, youth voluntarism, and Asean awareness.
READ: Aiza Seguerra closes meetings of Asean youth representatives
The Philippines is host of the 30th Asean Summit from April 26 to 29 in Manila. Duterte would chair first of two annual meetings of Asean leaders. The next meeting is in November.
Duterte will also host a gala dinner at Sofitel Manila for the Asean leaders, who will be garbed with Rajo Laurel barongs showcasing the fabric of Mindanao ethnolinguistic tribes. Meanwhile, the spouses will wear gowns designed by Rhett Eala.
The Asean leaders will also be serenaded after dinner with ethnic musical numbers and cultural dances.
Under the theme “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World,” the Asean leaders will discuss progress in the implementation of the Asean Vision 2025, as well as Asean’s external relations and its future direction. IDL

By: Marc Jayson Cayabyab - Reporter /


US facing shortage of yellow fever vaccine for travelers

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans who need a yellow fever shot for travel may soon have a harder time getting it.

A manufacturing problem has created a shortage of the only version of the vaccine licensed in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that doses could run out as early as next month. Officials are bringing in another vaccine that's used in other countries, but it will be available at only about 250 of the 4,000 U.S. clinics that give the shot.

The $141 vaccine is recommended for travelers to certain areas in South America and Africa, and about 20 countries require proof of vaccination for entry. For most people, only one dose of vaccine is needed in their lifetime to protect against the potentially deadly disease.

Travelers who want the vaccine will need to plan ahead, said the CDC's Dr. Martin Cetron.

"It may take longer and you may have to travel a greater distance" to get a shot, he said.

Yellow fever was wiped out in the U.S. over a century ago, and the shot is not part of routine vaccinations.

The yellow fever virus is spread by the same mosquito that transmits other tropical diseases, including Zika. Most people improve after a round of fever, chills and other symptoms. But roughly 15 percent get more seriously ill and can develop internal bleeding and organ failure.

Stockpiles of the vaccine have been strained globally, and shortages were a major problem during recent outbreaks in Africa. A smaller outbreak emerged this year in Brazil.

Drugmaker Sanofi Pasteur said it stopped making the U.S.-licensed vaccine because of broken equipment at its Swiftwater, Pennsylvania, plant. Production is being shifted to a new factory opening next year, company officials said.


  • By MIKE STOBBE AP Medical Writer Waco Tribune-Herald
  • Published in U.S.

Brazil Supreme Court Releases Former Billionaire Batista From Jail

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian Supreme Court justice Gilmar Mendes ordered the release from jail of former mining and oil magnate Eike Batista, once the country's richest man, ahead of his trial on corruption charges, the court said on Friday.

Batista has been jailed since Jan. 30 when he voluntarily returned to Rio from New York after four days as a fugitive. He is expected to stand trial along with an ex-Rio de Janeiro governor who allegedly took millions in bribes from the former billionaire.

The judge said that although grave, the crimes Batista stands accused of did not involve violence or threats to others and did not justify keeping the former tycoon in detention while legal proceedings advance.

Federal prosecutors accuse Batista, former governor Sergio Cabral and seven others of facilitating graft and hiding illegal funds in offshore shell companies.

Five years ago, Batista, 60, had a net worth exceeding $30 billion and ranked among the world's 10 richest people.

Prosecutors said Batista paid $16.5 million to the ex-Rio de Janeiro governor for his businesses to win lucrative government contracts.

(Reporting by Ricardo Brito; Writing by Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Sandra Maler)

Copyright 2017 Thomson Reuters.

  • Published in World
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