The global tobacco industry continues to interfere with governments’ efforts to implement the World Health Organization’s (WHO) policy package which aims to reduce peoples demand for tobacco, the UN agency has said.
Countries that are signatories to WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control are bound by the international treaty to implement the so-called MPOWER policy, a list of six guidelines needed to curb tobacco consumption.
The measures urge governments, among other recommendations, to protect people from tobacco smoke, warn about the dangers of the product, and enforce bans or limits on tobacco advertising.
Since MPOWER’s launch in 2008, the UN watchdog has produced annual reports on the effectiveness of the strategy.
According to the latest ‘WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2017,’ around 4.7 billion people across the globe are covered by at least one MPOWER measure. That is roughly 63 percent of the world’s population. A decade ago, that figure stood at 15 percent.
But while governments have put in more efforts to protect their citizens, Big Tobacco continues to impede in the process, WHO says.
“The tobacco industry is increasingly using domestic and especially international trade litigation in attempts to block progress on many tobacco control measures, such as smoke-free public places, pictorial health warnings, plain packaging and product regulation,” the report, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, says.
To battle the powerful tobacco lobby, WHO urges governments to enhance their “legal and technical capacity” to respond to the legal threats from the tobacco industry.
“Firewalls between government and the tobacco industry must be in place to block industry attempts to influence the tobacco control decision-making process,” the report says.
Tobacco use kills over 7 million people each year, according to WHO’s estimates. Medical treatment of smokers and the loss of productivity resulting from their absences from the workforce is costing the world roughly US$ 1.4 trillion annually.
“Countries can better protect their citizens, including children, from the tobacco industry and its products when they use tobacco monitoring systems,” said Dr. Douglas Bettcher, Director of WHO’s Department for the Prevention of Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs).
“Tobacco industry interference in government policy-making represents a deadly barrier to advancing health and development in many countries,” he added.
With the subway system crippled by delays and fires, the state plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on adding razzle-dazzle, choreographed light shows to Metropolitan Transportation Authority bridges.
Disclosure of the outlays proposed by Gov. Cuomo drew the scorn of Mayor de Blasio as the two officials wage guerrilla warfare over who will pay for a mass transit rescue soon to be unveiled by MTA Chairman Joe Lhota.
The state funds most of the MTA’s capital plan. Cuomo has vowed to boost support by $ 1 billion next year while pressing a resistant de Blasio to pony up as well.
“I can tell you that people that ride the subways are not interested in a light show,” de Blasio said. “They’re interested in getting the trains to run on time and they’re interested in being able to get to work, and that’s what we should focus the resources on going forward.”
The program to outfit the bridges with LED lights is slated to cost about $ 216 million, according to the minutes of a New York Power Authority meeting held in March. That expense, first reported by Politico, comes as commuters have begged Cuomo to steer more of the state-run MTA’s money toward city subways, with chronic delays wrecking commutes and endangering employment.
The Cuomo administration said the $ 216 million figure was just a placeholder — and that, though lights will be gracing MTA bridges, the MTA won’t pick up the bill.
“The funding of these lights are not an MTA issue,” Lhota told the Daily News.
Cuomo spokeswoman Dani Lever said, “The mayor should know the facts before speaking. The MTA will not pay for the Harbor of Lights proposal — period.”
“It is an economic development and energy-efficiency proposal that would be paid for by” Empire State Development and the New York Power Authority.
That’s not the impression the power authority was under in March — its meeting minutes indicate the cost would be picked up or recovered by MTA Bridges and Tunnels. A spokeswoman for the power agency said those discussions were premature.
A top MTA official told The News the original understanding was that the money would indeed come from MTA Bridges, with the power authority tasked with actually raising it.
Whether the money comes directly from the MTA or not, it will come from the state, which controls the MTA. The state has argued it will spur economic development by drawing tourists who will be enamored by the LED lights, which can be set to music played by local radio stations while they take in the city skyline. Officials also said they’re more energy-efficient and will wind up saving money.
The aerial esthetics come as the city is in the grips of a subway crisis — and as de Blasio has called on the state to shift resources to the subway system while refusing to contribute more from the city.
It also comes after Cuomo has touted other creature-comfort upgrades to the transit system, like wireless internet.
De Blasio argued those are good ideas — but only if the “basics of the system are working.”
“I never want to take away from efforts to improve the quality of life once you’re on a subway, but much more important is: Does that subway ever show up? And does that train ever come? And does it get you where you want to go?” he said. “I would say those are good things, but they’re not the priority.”
De Blasio has repeatedly emphasized that the state runs the MTA and pushed back at the notion that the city should pony up more cash.
Cuomo’s office countered the city “owns” the subways — referring to the technicalities of how the system is leased to the MTA, which operates it.
“The mayor should also read the law,” Lever said. “New York City owns the subway and is solely responsible for funding its capital plan. Most people would call that control, and if he cares about commuters he should put his money where his mouth is.”
Historically, the state and debt service have funded much of the capital plan.
“We know riders are frustrated and they have every right to be, which is why the governor is focused on improving service with a $ 14 billion funding commitment and ordering a 30 day audit to overhaul the MTA,” Lever added.
The choreographed lights have already made a debut on the Kosciuszko Bridge — where they even put on a special Mother’s Day themed show. Covering the first of two spans of that bridge in the LED lights cost $ 4.5 million, though Cuomo’s office says that was only a little bit more than what it would have needed to spend on lights to make the bridge safe for boats and planes.
State officials note a similar program on the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, which officials there told the press could boost the local economy by $ 97 million over two years. The banks alongside the Bay Bridge feature upscale eateries with bridge views. The banks alongside the Kosciuszko, which crosses Newtown Creek, feature a waste transfer station and National Grid energy facility.
De Blasio said, “I don’t think it’s fair to people to say you can’t eat on the subway” because “the time on the subway is often the only time you have to eat.”
Lhota chided the mayor for “finger-pointing,” and said “eating food on the subway is not a right.”
“The opportunity to eat a breakfast bar or protein bar, the opportunity for someone who is diabetic to eat an orange to regulate their blood sugar, those things are all absolutely necessary,” Lhota said.
But, “When you see folks eating whole meals in Styrofoam containers and sometimes it ends up on the floor, we have to be more respectful of the other passengers. We have to be more respectful of the fact that it’s our MTA. … We need it to work efficiently and effectively and we need it to be clean.”
A Senate panel will hear testimonies from Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort in relation to their meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in Manhattan during the 2016 campaign.
The Senate Judiciary Committee announced that Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort, who was Trump’s campaign chair, will appear before the committee on July 26 for a public hearing.
Special counsel Robert Mueller is handling the probe of the June 2016 meeting between Trump Jr., Manafort and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower.
The move is part of a wider probe into allegations that president Donald Trump colluded with Russia to tip the scales in his favor during the 2016 presidential election.
Earlier this month, Trump Jr. released email correspondence he had with Veselnitskaya who had offered “high level and sensitive information” showing Hillary Clinton colluded with Russia.
Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law, also attended the meeting in question and will also testify before the same committee. However, Kushner’s testimony will be heard in a closed session on July 24, his attorney, Abbe Lowell, confirmed, the Huffington Post reported.
Veselnitskaya offered to testify before the panel in order to “clarify” what was discussed at the meeting, “but only through lawyers or testifying in the Senate,” she said, according to USA Today.
Veselnitskaya has made clear that she “never acted on behalf of the Russian government.”
Another person at the meeting, Ike Kaveladze, a Russian property development executive who presumed he would be attending as a translator, will cooperate with Mueller and investigators, Kaveladze’s attorney, Scott Balber, told USA Today Wednesday.
Also present in the meeting was Veselnitskaya’s translator, Rinat Akhmetshin, who is a Russian-American lobbyist. Rob Goldstone, an entertainment lobbyist who set up the meeting, was also in attendance at Trump Tower.
Israeli police used stun grenades to disperse a crowd of Palestinian protesters who clashed with authorities for the fourth day running following the introduction of new security measures at Jerusalem’s sacred Temple Mount or Noble Sanctuary as referred to by Muslims.
Clashes erupted Wednesday shortly after the afternoon prayers near the Lions Gate to the Old City of Jerusalem, where up 200 Muslim worshippers gathered to pray.
Following the prayers, a few worshipers started shouting against the recent security upgrades at the site, holy to both Muslims and Jews.
After being warned by police to leave the area, a small group refused. The authorities began arresting one of the worshipers for “disturbing the peace” which led the larger crowd to start throwing water bottles at police officers.
To quell the steadily growing discontent, police used stun grenades to disperse the crowd, the Times of Israel reported. An online video also showed a police officer punching an apparently peaceful worshiper in the face.
Clashes around the compound have been ongoing following the introduction of metal detectors along the perimeter of the holy site Sunday. Tel Aviv argues that the security upgrades will prevent weapons from being brought to the Temple Mount as referred to by Jews.
The new measures were initiated after three Arab-Israeli gunmen shot dead two Israeli policemen outside the complex Friday. While the attackers were taken out by security forces, authorities shut down the compound, reopening the site to Muslims Sunday and to non-Muslims Monday.
The introduction of metal detectors has angered the Muslim religious authorities. Most, if not all, worshippers have refused to be subjected to the security checks, and instead, prefer to pray outside the compound.
The Russian deputy foreign minister has stated that Moscow has no intention of exiting the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, despite repeated cases of “inadequate observation” of the treaty by the US.
“We have a whole set of claims against the United States concerning their inadequate observation of the INF treaty,” Sergey Ryabkov said in an interview with Kommersant daily.
“However, we are committed to this treaty and we do not want it to be destroyed or slackened. This is why we are extremely concerned over the US side’s attempts to question the reasonability of maintaining it, presented under invented excuses and with mentions of false allegations that Russia attempts to violate the treaty’s provisions,” he added.
The comments came after US media reported in late June that several Congress members insisted on exiting the INF treaty, justifying their position with allegations that Russia was not observing the agreement.
In particular, Congressman Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) told the Politico magazine that he considered it irresponsible for the US to continue to adhere to a treaty when the only other participant had long moved on from it.
More recently, Senator Tom Cotton, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, earlier this week proposed a way around the accord by urging Washington to provide its allies with the technology and assistance to build the very missiles banned by the accord.
The INF treaty, signed by the Soviet Union and US in 1987, bans the testing, production and possession of land-based intermediate-range missiles by both Moscow and Washington.
It enabled the scrapping of hundreds of nuclear-tipped missiles deployed in Europe amid the Cold War arms race. The missiles needed so little time to fly in case of an attack that both sides had virtually no chance to react to a launch warning, posing a grave threat of sparking a nuclear war by mistake.
In February this year, Washington accused Russia of deploying a ground-launched cruise missile with a range exceeding the declared figure and banned under the treaty. Russia denied the accusation.
Moscow earlier stated that the INF treaty is being jeopardized by the US drone program, and that the US global missile defense project itself uses weapons with a range exceeding the limits set by the agreement.
Russia also says the same applies to the US AEGIS Ashore system being deployed to Eastern Europe. It uses the same launchers as the naval systems used to fire Tomahawk cruise missiles, giving the antimissile sites the capability to use such missiles and thus violate the INF.
President Donald Trump has expressed discontent with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and accused other prominent members of the Justice Department and the FBI of having conflicts of interest in a wide-ranging interview with the New York Times.
Trump complained that Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigations was “very unfair to him [the president],” in a 50-minute interview with the New York Times published Wednesday.
“Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Trump said. “It’s extremely unfair – and that’s a mild word – to the President.”
Trump also criticized Sessions for testimony he provided during the Senate confirmation hearings when he said he never met with any Russians during the campaign.
Sessions later amended his testimony, after it was revealed that he met with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US.
“Jeff Sessions gave some bad answers,” the president said. “He gave some answers that were simple questions and should have been simple answers, but they weren’t.”
During the interview, Trump made fresh accusations against fired FBI director James Comey, saying that two weeks before his inauguration, Comey presented him with an FBI dossier that was filled with salacious allegations. Trump said that Comey only did this to have leverage over him.
“In my opinion, he shared it so that I would think he had it out there,” Trump said.
However, Trump also said that he immediately dismissed the dossier as false.
“When he brought it to me, I said this is really, made-up junk. I didn’t think about any of it. I just thought about, man, this is such a phony deal,” Trump said.
When Comey testified before Congress, he said he gave Trump the dossier, because he thought Trump had the right to know the information that was out there before the media reported on it.
Trump also denied Comey’s claim he kicked everyone out of the Oval Office so that he could ask Comey to end the investigation into his former National Security Adviser Gen. Michael Flynn.
“I don’t remember even talking to him about any of this stuff,” Trump said. “He said I asked people to go. Look, you look at his testimony. His testimony is loaded up with lies, OK?”
Trump then accused Russia investigation special counsel Robert Mueller of having conflicts of interest, mentioning the fact that he interviewed him to replace Comey before he had been appointed special counsel.
“He was up here and he wanted the job,” Trump said. After Mueller was named special counsel, “I said, ‘What the hell is this all about?’ Talk about conflicts. But he was interviewing for the job. There were many other conflicts that I haven’t said, but I will at some point.”
Trump said that, as far as he knew, he was not, and still is not, under investigation himself.
“I don’t think we’re under investigation,” he said. “I’m not under investigation. For what? I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Trump then went after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, criticizing him for recommending firing Comey and then appointing Mueller. Trump said it was a conflict of interest since Mueller might be investigating whether firing Comey constitutes obstruction of justice.
“Well, that’s a conflict of interest,” Trump said. “Do you know how many conflicts of interests there are?”
Trump also suggested that Andrew McCabe, the acting director of the FBI, had a conflict of interest as well.
Trump told the Times that McCabe’s wife received nearly $ 500,000 during a run for the Virginia senate in 2015 from a political action committee with ties to the state’s Governor Terry McAuliffe (D), a friend of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
When asked about his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 summit meeting in Hamburg, Germany, Trump said that they just talked about adoption.
“The meal was going toward dessert,” he said. “I went down just to say hello to Melania, and while I was there I said hello to Putin. Really, pleasantries more than anything else. It was not a long conversation, but it was, you know, could be 15 minutes. Just talked about things. Actually, it was very interesting, we talked about adoption.”
Trump noted that his son, Donald Trump Jr, recently said that a meeting he had with a Russian lawyer during the campaign was also about adoption. However, the president reiterated that he had no knowledge of the meeting between his son and the Russian lawyer, boasting that he would not have needed any damaging information on Clinton anyway.
“There wasn’t much I could say about Hillary Clinton that was worse than what I was already saying,” Trump said. “Unless somebody said that she shot somebody in the back, there wasn’t much I could add to my repertoire.”
A Kremlin aide has confirmed that the Iraqi armed forces will soon take delivery of Russian-made T-90 battle tanks. The Russian hardware will be deployed alongside the US M1A1 Abrams tanks.
“A significant contract for a large batch” of T-90 tanks, has been signed between Baghdad and manufacturer Uralvagonzavod, Vladimir Kozhin, an aide to the Russian president on military-technical cooperation told the Izvestiya daily.
“I cannot disclose the exact cost [of the tank contract] but the number [of tanks] is substantial,” Kozhin added.
Earlier, Uralvagonzavod indicated that it will deliver 73 T-90S/SK tanks to Iraq this year. A yearly report for 2016 published earlier in July by the manufacturer mentioned a contract with “foreign customer 368”, i.e. Iraq, to be fulfilled in 2017.
T-90S is the designation of the export version of the armor while “SK” stands for the export version meant for a unit commander.
Iraq’s Ministry of Defense has also confirmed the purchase of the Russian tanks.
According to Izvestiya’s report, the shipment of 70 T-90 would be followed by more deliveries. The armor sale may amount to “hundreds” of tanks and surpass $ 1 billion.
Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, which supervises Moscow’s arms trade, declined to comment on the details.
Iraq made the decision to purchase the Russian military hardware following the successful performance of the tanks in Syria, the publication noted.
Highlighting the growing demand for Russian weaponry given their effectiveness in Syria, President Vladimir Putin earlier this month noted the need to expand Russian arms sales abroad.
Putin stressed though, that the proliferation of military technology should in no way impact negatively on the strategic balance of power in regions where the weapons are sold to. Instead of fueling conflict, weapons should be used to prevent it, the Russian leader emphasized.
“All our decisions on supplies of arms to external markets are based on the current international situation in various regions – in order to prevent any imbalances and to avoid an escalation of conflicts. On the contrary, our weapons must be used to contain conflicts at the early stages,” Putin underlined.
Kozhin meanwhile told the Izvestiya newspaper that Kuwait is also interested in purchasing the T-90s.
Johnson (D-Manhattan), the chair of the Council’s health committee, was arrested around 4 p.m. after a sit-in at the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Hundreds of demonstrators with pre-existing medical conditions targeted the offices of Republican senators.
“I am HIV-positive. As an elected official, I am lucky to have good health care. But there are countless others who could literally die if the Republicans get their way,” Johnson wrote in an email to constituents.
Johnson said he spent about five hours in custody and was charged with misdemeanor incommoding, a District of Columbia statute that prohibits demonstrations inside the Capitol complex.
Capitol police said demonstrators were arrested at three Senate office buildings, saying there were about 45 different locations where protesters gathered.
Of the 150 people arrested, four were charged with resisting arrest.
The Republican health care bill has been stopped for now, after a handful of Republican senators said they would not vote for it, leaving it without the votes needed to pass. McConnell then said he’d hold a vote to repeal Obamacare outright with no immediate replacement, but enough GOP senators have also said they’ll vote against that.
Liberal groups went forward with Wednesday’s protest, saying the Affordable Care Act remains under threat.
“Trump, McConnell and Ryan are still driving hard to repeal the ACA and strip health care from tens of millions of Americans. What they are doing is pure evil. We must not allow it,” Johnson said in a statement.
Sen. John McCain has been diagnosed with brain cancer, his office said in a statement Wednesday.
The Republican senator from Arizona has glioblastoma, a type of aggressive cancer, that was detected after undergoing surgery to remove a blood clot from above his left eye at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix last Friday, Mayo Clinic doctors said.
Glioblastomas are highly aggressive and can be found in the brain or the spinal cord, the American Brain Tumor Association says. The 80-year-old war veteran and his family are considering radiation and chemotherapy to treat the brain tumor.
McCain was previously diagnosed with melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer, in 2000. He had three malignant melanomas removed in 1993, 2000 and 2002, according to CNN.
“The news of my father’s illness has affected every one of us in the McCain family. My grandmother, mother, brothers, sisters and I have all endured the shock of the news, and we live with the anxiety about what comes next,” his daughter Meghan McCain said in a statement. “It is an experience familiar to us, given my father’s previous battle with cancer.”
“Few have served our nation more admirably than John McCain,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said in a statement. “He’s an American hero in every sense of the word.”
“John McCain is as tough as they come. Thinking of John, Cindy, their wonderful children, & their whole family tonight,” former secretary of state Hillary Clinton tweeted.
“As he’s shown his entire life, don’t bet against John McCain,” ex-President Bill Clinton tweeted. “Best wishes to him for a swift recovery.”
“Senator John McCain has always been a fighter,” President Trump, who blasted McCain in July 2015 saying he wasn’t a war hero, said in a statement. “Melania and I send our thoughts and prayers to Senator McCain, Cindy, and their entire family. Get well soon.”