quinta-feira, 8 de julho de 2010
BEIJING - Police have broken up 600 online soccer gambling groups and arrested more than 810 gamblers since the World Cup began on June 11, the Ministry of Public Security said on Thursday.
Among those arrested, 65 were from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, as well as from countries like the Philippines and Malaysia, the ministry said in a briefing.
Authorities seized gambling funds worth about 50 million yuan ($7.3 million) in the crackdown, the ministry said.
"After the 2010 World Cup in South Africa started, local police struck out against online soccer gambling to prevent gambling groups from taking advantage of the event to expand their rackets," said Gu Jian, a senior official with the ministry's online security bureau.
Before the opening of the World Cup, police had already detained 3,600 people during a nationwide crackdown on online gambling starting January, ministry figures showed.
In a separate case, Hong Kong and mainland police reportedly cracked a large cross-border illegal soccer gambling syndicate, seizing betting slips worth more than $1 billion.
Officers arrested 93 people from Hong Kong and the mainland in a joint operation late on Wednesday, Hong Kong-based broadcaster RTHK reported.
Police said the syndicate mainly received online and telephone bets through more than 400 bank accounts, the largest number of accounts involved in a local illegal soccer betting case, Cable TV Hong Kong reported.
"We identified a trend that the bets were mainly placed via the Internet - same as in other countries or regions," a police spokesman told the broadcaster.
The Ministry of Public Security said in a release last month that China is still facing a "very grim" situation in controlling online gambling activities.
"The root of online gambling hasn't yet been eradicated and some money flows still run unchecked," it said.
Even with the police crackdown on gambling, underground soccer betting bookies can always use Internet proxies, VPN and other Web devices such as overseas gambling websites to bypass any official attempt to block illegal online activities, a Beijing soccer gambler, who did not want to be named to protect his identity, told China Daily.
"It's almost impossible to find and arrest them all. There are too many of them and they resurface all the time. Gamblers prefer their higher gambling return rates to lotteries," the gambler said.
At Thursday's conference, the Ministry of Public Security said police had also broken up a number of groups that facilitate gambling activities, including those providing advertisements as well as those operating platform and payment services.
Similarly, the ministry said police have worked with banks and Internet supervisory bodies to clean up gambling websites, servers and links, and to cut off third-party payment services for websites running gambling activities.
But Wang Xuehong, executive director of the China center for lottery studies at Peking University, said the problem can only be solved when the country makes lotteries "more attractive" in terms of variety and returns.
Russia's Memorial human rights group could close its branch in Chechnya over alleged threats recently voiced by Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov on local television, Ekho Moskvy radio station said citing the group's statement.
Kadyrov told a television channel in Grozny on July 3 that journalists and Memorial activists who criticize his policies are well paid by the West. He said they were "the enemy of the Chechen people, the enemy of the law and the enemy of the state".
Oleg Orlov, the head of the Memorial, said on Thursday that the statements made by the Chechen president could be considered as "a direct and real threat" because they might be interpreted by the republic's law enforcement as a call to action against human rights activists.
Orlov accused Kadyrov in July last year of involvement in the murder of rights activist Natalya Estemirova in the troubled North Caucasus republic.
Estemirova, a leading Memorial researcher in Chechnya, was abducted outside her home in Grozny, Chechnya's capital, on July 15 and found shot dead in the neighboring republic of Ingushetia later the same day.
Her murder, which sparked international outrage, was followed three weeks later by the killings of Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband, Alik Dzhabrailov, who both worked for a Chechen charity.
The Memorial suspended its work in Chechnya following the murders but resumed its activities in December.
(Reuters) - A white former transit police officer was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter on Thursday in the videotaped shooting death of an unarmed black man that triggered riots in Oakland, California last year.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger joined civic leaders in Oakland and elsewhere in appealing for public restraint as police braced for the possibility of renewed violence sparked by the Los Angeles jury's verdict.
The panel of four men and eight women deliberated for about six hours over two days before reaching their decision, which indicated they essentially believed defense arguments that the shooting was a tragic accident rather than the intentional act of a rogue cop.
The defendant in the racially charged trial, Johannes Mehserle, 28, testified that he mistakenly drew his gun instead of his electric Taser and shot Oscar Grant, 22, while trying to subdue him during a New Year's Day 2009 confrontation.
But prosecutors, who sought a conviction for second-degree murder, said Mehserle had "lost all control" and shot Grant on purpose because he thought Grant was resisting arrest.
Jurors can render an involuntary manslaughter conviction if they believe the defendant lacked an intent to kill but engaged in conduct so grossly negligent that it amounts to a crime.
It generally carries a sentence of two to four years in prison, but the jury also accepted a sentencing "enhancement" for Mehserle's use of a handgun in the commission of a crime.
Mehserle, who had been free on $3 million bond, showed no reaction as the verdict was read and was immediately taken into custody. Sentencing was set for August 6.
Relatives of Grant, a young father who worked as a grocery store butcher, reacted with outrage.
"My son was murdered, and the law hasn't held the officer accountable the way he should be held accountable," his mother, Wanda Johnson shouted outside the Los Angeles courthouse.
The family's lawyer, John Burris, said that while "we do not accept the verdict," he called for a nonviolent response.
"One life lost is enough," Burris said.
Police in Oakland, across the Bay to the east of San Francisco, moved to a tactical alert status in preparation for potential civil disturbances.
"I encourage Californians to remain calm in light of the verdict and not to resort to violence," Schwarzenegger said, adding he had assured Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums that "we are well prepared to assist in maintaining order".
Demonstrations were planned in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, where many commuters left work early.
"I'm concerned about riots. I don't want to be hit by a bottle," said accountant Francisco Raygoza, 30, as he headed home. "Our office manager said leave as soon as you can".
In the first hours after the verdict, Oakland's streets were quiet, though some 200 people gathered at an intersection where a rally was planned.
"Its atrocious that a cop documented on video for killing a young man was not sentenced to murder. Justice was not done," said Naina Kanna, a 33-year-old community activist Oakland.
Anger over the slaying flared after video footage shot by onlookers and shown widely over the Internet and television appeared to show Grant lying face down on the train platform when he was shot in the back.
Mehserle was seen holstering his gun immediately afterward and putting his hands on his head as in disbelief.
The killing unleashed charges of police brutality and a night of civil unrest in Oakland, where demonstrators smashed store windows and set cars on fire. Police arrested over 100 people on charges of vandalism, unlawful assembly and assault.
The Alameda County Superior Court judge in the case, which was moved to Los Angeles because of heavy pretrial publicity in Oakland, ruled that the jury could not consider a first-degree murder charge. Judge Robert Perry held there was too little evidence to show the killing was premeditated.
Had he been convicted of second-degree murder, Mehserle faced a sentence of 15 years to life in prison. The jury could alternatively have found him guilty of voluntary manslaughter or acquitted him entirely.
Switzerland and Indonesia will launch negotiations aimed at increasing bilateral trade ties following a visit to Jakarta by Economics Minister Doris Leuthard
The deal is to cover trade in goods and services, investment promotion and the protection intellectual property rights as well as public tenders and economic cooperation.
“So far Swiss companies have not acknowledged the enormous potential of Indonesia which has the world’s third largest domestic consumer market. But the Swiss government has included Indonesia in its list of priority countries,” said Leuthard, who is also this year’s Swiss president.
She was speaking after a meeting with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Wednesday.
Leuthard added that Indonesia was planning to invest in infrastructure projects and in the energy sector where Switzerland has important knowhow.
“The free trade deal will grant improved conditions for Swiss investors,” she said.
Leuthard went on to say that the two countries complemented each other well, since Indonesia has an important textile industry which operates with Swiss machines.
Sri Prakash Sekhani, director of Indorama, a world leader in petro-chemical products, confirmed that it is an ideal combination and that a stronger presence of Swiss companies would not be seen as a danger to local firms.
“Switzerland is known for its quality products which target a special segment of the consumer market. To put it in a nutshell: Those who want a Toyota car buy a Toyota. But those looking for a Rolls Royce will buy a Rolls Royce,” he said.
For his part Gerold Bührer of the Swiss Business Federation (Economiesuisse) is confident that the accord will help increase economic ties.
“Switzerland has concluded accords with 23 non-European countries which have led to an considerable increase in business”.
At the moment Swiss investment in Indonesia amounts to about SFr6 billion ($5.7 billion) and creates about 43,000 jobs, according to Bührer, who pointed out that this was “a far cry from the massive presence of Swiss firms in other Asian countries”.
Labour standards, corruption
Other issues highlighted during the visit by the Swiss delegation were labour standards and the fight against corruption which could be hindering foreign investments.
To this end a project, Sustaining Competitive and Responsible Enterprises, has been launched jointly with the International Labour Organization (ILO), Indonesia’s labour ministry as well as local employers and trade unions.
It is supported by the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) and aims to improve the implementation of labour rights for employees of small and medium-sized enterprises in Indonesia.
The initiative covers the abolition of forced labour and child labour, regulations to avoid discrimination, the introduction of collective contracts as well as improved safety measures at the workplace.
ILO experts will inspect premises, check working conditions and organise courses on prevention and awareness campaigns.
Seco’s Beatrice Maser Mallor says it is possible for companies in developing countries to be competitive while respecting labour rights.
“The products and the production processes get better if workers benefit from better conditions,” she said.
It is even an advantage at an international level, because consumers in a globalised market are increasingly conscious of labour issues, according to Maser Mallor.
During her visit Leuthard held talks with moderate Muslim leaders in Indonesia – the world’s biggest Muslim country and a model for the peaceful coexistence of different religions.
After the 2002 attacks on Bali the Indonesian government launched a series of programmes to fight poverty and promote education aimed at curtailing the potential influence of Muslim extremist groups.
Leuthard was assured in the talks that the constitutional rights take precedence over sharia law in Indonesia.
The Muslim leaders were not overly concerned about a debate in Switzerland over a ban on new minarets and burkas, Leuthard said afterwards.
But they called on her to integrate the different religious communities in a dialogue to further an exchange of opinions and to reduce mistrust and suspicion.
Bulgaria's national volleyball team has lost 3:1 its Thursday's World League match againstBrazil in Varna.
The Brazilians took the first two games (22:25; 23:25) but the Bulgarians made a comeback in the third (25:23).
However, this was not enough as the Brazilians regained the initiative in the fourth winning 24:26.
Thus, Brazil has occupied the first spot in the group and has qualified among the six best teams going to the World League Final in Cordoba at the end of July.
Bulgaria has a chance to qualify among the best second teams in the groups if they win their last match, also against Brazil in Varna on Friday.