Saturday, July 10, 2010
American performer Jennifer Lopez has cancelled a birthday performance in northern Cyprus this month, amid growing controversy about the gig in a Turkish-occupied area from Greek Cypriots and Greek-American groups.
The furor over a luxury hotel inauguration showed how easily bitter rivalry can flare up between Cypriots across the ethnic divide, even as the two sides are locked in fruitless peace talks.
Reports that Lopez would perform at a hotel in the breakaway Turkish north on her 41st birthday this month triggered a Greek Cypriot online campaign pushing for cancellation.
However, the news has been met with outrage by officials at the Cyprus Action Network of America, who have started a campaign calling on Lopez to scrap the gig as it falls on the July 20th - the date that Turkish troops invaded the Greek-owned island in 1974.
Several weeks ago, it emerged that a new luxury hotel-casino opening near the coastal city of Kyrenia had invited Lopez to celebrate her 41st birthday on the northern region of the Mediterranean island.
Reports arose that the New York-born entertainer would receive an appearance fee of about $3 million US to perform at a July 24 show at the Cratos Premium hotel in the Turkish-occupied north, which separated politically from the rest of the island in 1974.
"Once again the Turks suffer from continued embargoes," said one post from the Facebook forum. "Jennifer Lopez is coming ... my Greek friends live with it."
Another said: "A very bad day for reunification chances. Might as well build a huge wall down the middle of the island."
The Food and Drug Administration posted an exhaustive 700-page review of Avandia on Friday ahead of a meeting next week to decide whether the drug should stay on the market.
The FDA finds itself in a difficult position that's all too familiar: reviewing a drug approved a decade ago that now appears tied to deadly side effects. Experts say the FDA's predicament is a result of shifting standards for the agency: increased scrutiny on safety and stepped-up pressure from Capitol Hill.
The FDA reviewed dozens of studies of Avandia, including one Glaxo has pointed to as proof of the drug's safety. But an FDA reviewer said the study was plagued by "serious flaws" and actually supports the case against Avandia.
The drug works by increasing the body's sensitivity to insulin, a key protein needed for digestion that diabetics don't adequately produce.
People with diabetes are unable to properly break down carbohydrates, either because their bodies do not produce enough insulin or because of resistance to insulin. They are at higher risk for heart attacks, kidney problems, blindness and other serious complications.
Avandia was Glaxo's third best-selling drug in 2006 with U.S. revenue of $2.2 billion, according to health care statistics firm IMS Health. But safety concerns swirling around the drug have pummeled sales over the last three years, with sales falling 75 percent to $520 million last year.
In 2007 an analysis of dozens of studies first linked the drug to heart attacks. The FDA responded by adding a warning label to the drug later that year.
Glaxo, based in London, has argued for years that Avandia's safety should be assessed only based on clinical trials, considered the gold standard of medical research.
But the FDA reviewer said Glaxo's chief trial "was inadequately designed and conducted to provide any reassurance" about the heart safety of Avandia.
The FDA holds a special two-day meeting starting Tuesday to help decide what course of action to take. A panel of outside physicians will consider a range of recommendations including:
_ Adding more warning labels.
_ Limiting which doctors can prescribe the drug.
_ Pulling the drug from the market.
The FDA is not required to follow the advice of its outside panels, though it usually does.
The agency has been down this road before. In 2007 the FDA assembled the same group of experts to vote on the same drug. The group voted 22-1 in favor of keeping Avandia on the market.
New data on Avandia's risks and pressure from politicians have prompted the agency to re-examine the drug's safety.
Despite the reams of information posted online, the FDA's main problem remains one of too little data.
Avandia, like many other drugs of the 1990s, was approved based on relatively small studies in several thousand patients. While those studies were sufficient to show the drug helped control blood sugar levels -- the key measure for diabetes drugs -- they were not large enough to detect all of the drug's potential side effects.
"The problem is the drug wasn't studied in enough patients up front to know whether it causes serious cardiovascular events," said Dr. David Kessler, former FDA commissioner and now a professor at University of California at San Francisco. "And chasing that question after millions of prescriptions have been written leads to a lot of confusion."
Since 2009 the FDA has required longer, larger studies of diabetes drugs that include more high-risk patients.
Scientists have tried to get an accurate picture of Avandia's risks by pooling hundreds of thousands of data points from various sources.
The most recent such analysis was published last month and suggested Avandia is more likely to cause strokes and heart-related death than a rival drug, Actos, made by Japan-based Takeda Pharmaceuticals.
The paper's chief author, Dr. David Graham, an FDA scientist who wants the pill banned, estimated as many as 100,000 heart-related problems may have been caused by Avandia.
The study analyzed medical records of more than 225,000 elderly Medicare patients.
Graham first came to prominence for his role in publicizing the risks of the Merck painkiller Vioxx, which was pulled in 2004 from the market after showing links to heart attacks and strokes. He argued that lives could have been saved if the FDA had acted more swiftly.
The legacy of Vioxx and the political firestorm that followed will hang over next week's deliberations.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill already have painted Avandia as a test of the agency's competence and courage.
Senate Finance Committee ranking Republican Charles Grassley helped kickstart the review of Avandia with an investigation that concluded GlaxoSmithKline tried to downplay the risks of its drug. Last week Grassley said the drug should be pulled from the market.
But former FDA officials say such political prodding hurts the agency's mission.
"Public policy decisions don't get made in a vacuum, and that's a reality of FDA decision making that everyone has to recognize," said Mary Pendergast, a former FDA deputy commissioner who now consults for companies. "But when members of Congress who are not scientists tell the FDA what to decide, I think that's hard for the FDA."
Government stimulus spending is a contentious issue right now in Washington. But the $7.2 billion in the last stimulus package for extending high-speed Internet access is just beginning to be spent, and the beneficiaries could not be happier.
Cynthia K. Wegener and her husband, owners of a farm and horse-breeding business in western Kansas, will be able to upload a photograph of a horse to show a potential buyer in seconds, not the 20 to 30 minutes they now need with dial-up service. "I just cannot begin to tell you how frustrating it is to do anything with it," she said.
And in remote Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in Alaska, with limited Internet access, the program will bring more fundamental changes, expanding the health care options, for example, to allow doctors in Anchorage, 400 miles to the east, to see patients via videoconference.
"This is the first time in my 25 years in health care where technology has a direct impact," David P. Hodges, the chief information officer for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation. "It sure gives you a new perspective on what you do for a living."
The types of Internet activities that most Americans take for granted -- watching videos, downloading songs, social networking -- are out of reach for millions of homes across the United States. These people -- many in poor, rural pockets -- either have outmoded dial-up Internet service or have no affordable high-speed service. Sometimes the nearest high-speed connection is at the local library, 10 miles away.
The $7.2 billion plan in the last stimulus package was approved without significant debate. The program is intended to extend broadband service to what is known as the "middle mile," which can connect to institutions like schools and hospitals, and the "last mile" -- homes and businesses -- that big Internet providers have bypassed because the expected revenue was too small to justify the big investments needed.
For some of the beneficiaries, the program will mean the difference between isolation and being connected to the rest of the world. "If you don't have a high-speed Internet connection, it's almost impossible to get anything done anymore," said Martin Cary, vice president for broadband services at GCI Communication Corporation of Alaska, the largest Internet provider in the state.
Julius Genachowski, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said the extension of Internet service was a significant moment in communications. "Extending broadband in rural America is as important to jobs and growth in the 21st century as extending electricity was in the 20th century," he said.
So far, more than 200 projects have been awarded about $3 billion in grants and loans from the program's administrators -- the Agriculture and the Commerce Departments -- mostly to small carriers. The stimulus law requires that all the money in the program be allocated by Sept. 30. Even so, many remote homes will still not get high-speed access.
For those who will be connected, there are some mixed feelings. While most seem impatient for the greater access and many businesses are eager to attract new customers, some are concerned about the unintended consequences of their new connections.
James W. Rowh, for instance, who owns an organic farm and natural foods store not far from the Wegeners in Norton, Kan., is wary that the Internet will lure his customers away. "You can find pretty deep discounts online," he said. "There are only 3,000 people in this town. When you start losing people to the Internet, it's going to have an effect on your bottom line."
Even the small companies that have been awarded the grants and loans to extend the broadband fiber lines and build the microwave towers are aware that once they do all the work and sign up the customers, the big carriers may move in with lower rates and lure their business away.
"Typically, when we go into a town, competition will come on our heels," said H. Rusty Irvin, the chief executive of StratusWave Communications, a small carrier in Wheeling, W.Va. "The Verizons and Comcasts may target that area for deployment."
The company won a $1.5 million loan and a $1.4 million grant to provide wireless service to three West Virginia counties in rural Appalachia.
Bjorn Jones, a librarian in Salinas, Calif., an hour south of Silicon Valley, said that while the Web offered access to a seemingly limitless array of educational resources, it was also a source of mindless entertainment. "If broadband is contextualized within a library, then you are creating learning opportunities," he said. "Without a plan, it's going to be just kids watching YouTube."
The greater Salinas Valley, whose residents are mainly Hispanic immigrant farm workers, has limited high-speed Internet access mainly because of the expense of laying fiber optic lines. The surrounding mountains and beach make extending lines especially challenging for neighboring Santa Cruz County. Officials said they realized the need for additional fiber lines in April 2009 when the entire county, including its emergency services, lost the Internet for 21 hours after vandals cut cables miles away.
The joint application with Santa Cruz County, Monterey County and San Benito County to extend access was rejected by the Commerce Department in the first round and officials are awaiting word on the second round. (The rejection was not all that unusual; the department received 1,885 applications in the first round and awarded only 82 grants.)
While the stimulus program will reach hundreds of rural areas in all 50 states, there are people like R. Mark Fair, who lives in Leicester, N.C., in the mountains northwest of Asheville, who will not be helped. Mr. Fair and his neighbors have been trying unsuccessfully since 2006 to persuade AT&T to replace their dial-up service.
"I go online every day for e-mail," said Mr. Fair, an electrical engineer. "I can generally get around those O.K., but when it comes to online meetings and file transfers, it's really frustrating."
In Elon, N.C., Chad Sowers said he had exhausted his options for a reliable and fast connection, even offering to pay $2,000 toward that goal. He works in information technology, and he and his wife, a registered nurse, both need high-speed Internet for continuing education, he said. They also want their children, 9 and 12, to have access for their schoolwork. "Broadband is no longer a luxury," Mr. Sowers said.
In a statement, Clifton Metcalf Jr., an AT&T spokesman, said, "We've taken efforts to still deliver the benefits of broadband to these customer locations, such as through our satellite-based broadband service, which reaches the vast majority of rural markets in our 22 states."
Since many of the new broadband recipients live in isolated, rural areas or are poor, the F.C.C. is proposing that money from its Universal Service Fund, which subsidizes telephone services for high-cost areas, low-income consumers, schools, libraries and rural health care providers, be expanded to broadband services. The fund receives its money from a monthly fee of about $2.78 a household -- the fee is part of the telephone bill -- and is expected to disburse $8.7 billion this year.
"The biggest challenge is converting a fund that's been focused for a very long time on telephones to one focused on broadband communications as quickly and as efficiently as possible to make sure we can extend broadband to rural America," Mr. Genachowski of the F.C.C. said.
Alaska is the largest recipient of rural health care Universal Service Fund subsidies, and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation is the largest recipient in the state, with $1.5 million in 2008.
Mr. Hodges, of the health corporation, said many of the 48 villages it served did not have running water or roads between villages because they were on unstable tundra. "We can't put in telephone lines," he said, "and there are environmental issues because you don't want to damage the tundra."
Mr. Hodges said his network of telepsychiatry through microwave and satellite would expand with the federal funds. The health corporation, which has a dearth of health professionals, offers behavior health services from psychiatrists in Minnesota, Seattle and Anchorage, he said.
"We're now able to increase the amount of time we spend with a patient," he said. "We're not limited by the lack of daylight in the winter and when planes because of weather can come in. We've taken those barriers out of the equation."
As for Mrs. Wegener, the horse breeder, she said she believed she was losing money by having to drive her horses to auctions as far away as North Dakota and Nebraska to be seen by potential buyers. The Internet could change that, she said. "We would love to sell them off the farm and not haul them anywhere."
Renewal had been in question after Google began automatically redirecting users in China to an uncensored Hong Kong search site. But the company dismantled the virtual bridge to Hong Kong last week after regulators objected to the sleight of hand and threatened to revoke its Internet license.
"We are very pleased that the government has renewed our ICP license, and we look forward to continuing to provide web search and local products to our users in China," Google's top lawyer, David Drummond, said in a statement.
The company's one-sentence statement gave no details. Google spokeswoman Courtney Hohne said information on what services Google will offer in China would be released in coming weeks.
There was no immediate statement on the website of China's Internet regulator, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
Google said in January it no longer wanted to comply with rules requiring it to censor search results after it traced hacking attacks to China. The announcement embarrassed Chinese leaders, prompting questions about whether they might punish the company by shutting it out of China, where Google has a lucrative advertising business and a fledgling mobile phone operation.
In March, Google shut down its mainland China-based site, which had excluded from its results sites that could not be reached from China. It redirected users to the uncensored Hong Kong site instead.
Losing the China license would have been a significant setback for Google, even though China will only account for an estimated $250 million to $600 million of the company's projected $28 billion in revenue this year. China already has nearly 400 million Web surfers and usage is expected to rise for years to come.
England vs Bangladesh Live Streaming
England had won the first ODI by five wickets, but more importantly, they had strolled to a win. On no occasion did it look like the side was in danger of losing the game, and in the end, a superb 84 from the comeback man, Ian Bell won the game for them.
Bangladesh needs to look at their bowling. One fails to understand why someone like Shahdahat Hossain is not a part of the squad, when he has been one of the best in the business. While spin is definitely their strength, Bangladesh would know that the tracks in England do not encourage the slow bowlers.
England vs Bangladesh Live Streaming
For England, it was a job well done, but in the second game, they will want to ensure that the side gets it act together with the bowling as well. James Anderson conceded 74 in his ten overs and one thought they could have restricted the opposition to less than 220 had it not happened.
One senses that England will go into the game as favorites, but Bangladesh will need to come out hard at the opposition to make the game count.
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Watch Germany vs Uruguay Live Streaming
For the third place match, Germany VS Uruguay match will be on 10th of July 2010, live from Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth, South Africa, game start at 8:30 GMT / 2:30 PM ET.
Germany had played really well till the quarterfinals but somehow did not manage to get any chances against Spain who possessed the ball for over 60% of the time and made the Germans struggle with their slick passing. Germany will look to get their hands on some glory before they head back home and will come out in full force against Uruguay.
Playing for third place, it’s Germany vs Uruguay live for the FIFA World Cup 2010 with kick off time 20:30 CET. The match will happen from the Port Elizabeth Stadium, Nelson Mandela Bay.
Watch Germany vs Uruguay Live Streaming
Paul the Octopus helped the German team gain back their confidence by predicting that they will win this match. This will surely give Germany a self-esteem push towards victory.
Watch Germany vs Uruguay live stream in your favorite sports soccer channels and in online live streaming websites such as SOPCast, uStream and JustinTV. Check your local listing for the broadcast schedule.
Watch Germany vs Uruguay Live Streaming
FIFA World Cup Finals will be on the Sunday, July 11, 2010. FIFA World Cup Final Match: Netherlands VS Spain Live from Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa, game will start at 18:30 GMT / 2:30 PM ET. Watch this much awaited final match on Sunday at your favorite Sports Channel. Start betting now and reserve your tickets now to see this actions live.
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