U.S. Congress passes CAFTA with 2 vote House margin
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U.S. Congress passes CAFTA with 2 vote House margin

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) early morning Thursday, with a narrow vote of 217 in favor, 215 against. Voting was held open for an hour, 45 minutes past the House’s 15-minute voting rule as the President along with other supporters lobbied into the night.

The vote was so close, if one House member changed a “Yea” vote to a “Nay” vote, CAFTA would have failed in a 216-216 tie.

In tallying the votes, 25 Republicans, mostly from Midwest Corn Belt and Rust Belt states and the Southeast United States’s textile industrial belt, broke party line to vote against the measure. Two Republicans were present, but refused to vote.

The Democrats presented a more united front. All but 15 Democrats present voted against the treaty. Independent House members, who usually vote with the Democrats also voted against the measure.

Supporters of the measure include President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. Opponents included most House Democrats.

The trade agreement already passed the Senate in June. President Bush has said he will sign it into law.

DR-CAFTA encompasses the following components:

  • Services: all public services are to be open to private investment.
  • Investment: governments promise to grant ironclad guarantees to foreign investment.
  • Government procurement: All government purchases must be open to transnational bids.
  • Market access: governments pledge to reduce and eventually to eliminate tariffs and other measures that protect domestic products.
  • Agriculture: duty-free import and elimination of subsidies on agricultural products.
  • Intellectual property rights: privatization of and monopoly over technological know-how.
  • Antidumping rules, subsidies and countervailing rights: governments commit to phase out protectionist barriers in all sectors.
  • Competition policy: the dismantling of national monopolies.
  • Dispute resolution: the right of transnationals to sue countries in private international courts.
  • Environmental protection: the enforcement of environmental laws and improvement of the environment.
  • Labor standards: the enforcement of the International Labour Organization‘s core labor standards.
  • Transparency: the reduction of government corruption.
  • Test-Data Exclusivity for pharmaceutical corporations
Pfizer and Microsoft team up against Viagra spam
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Pfizer and Microsoft team up against Viagra spam

Sunday, February 13, 2005

New York –”Buy cheap Viagra through us – no prescription required!” Anyone with an active email account will recognize lines like this one. According to some reports, unsolicited advertisements (spam) for Viagra and similar drugs account for one in four spam messages.

BACKGROUND

Spamming remains one of the biggest problems facing email users today. While users and systems administrators have improved their defenses against unsolicited email, many spammers now insert random words or characters into their letters in order to bypass filters. The Wikipedia article Stopping email abuse provides an overview of the various strategies employed by companies, Internet users and systems administrators to deal with the issue.

Ever since pharmaceutical giant Pfizer promised to cure erectile dysfunction once and for all with its blue pills containing the drug sildenafil citrate, spammers have tried to tap into male anxiety by offering prescription-free sales of unapproved “generic” Viagra and clones such as Cialis soft tabs. Legislation like the U.S. CAN-SPAM act has done little to stem the tide of email advertising the products.

Now Pfizer has entered a pledge with Microsoft Corporation, the world’s largest software company, to address the problem. The joint effort will focus on lawsuits against spammers as well as the companies they advertise. “Pfizer is joining with Microsoft on these actions as part of our shared pledge to reduce the sale of these products and to fight the senders of unsolicited e-mail that overwhelms people’s inboxes,” said Jeff Kindler, executive vice president at Pfizer.

Microsoft has filed civil actions against spammers advertising the websites CanadianPharmacy and E-Pharmacy Direct. Pfizer has filed lawsuits against the two companies, and has taken actions against websites which use the word “Viagra” in their domain names. Sales of controlled drugs from Canadian pharmacies to the United States are illegal, but most drugs sold in Canada have nevertheless undergone testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This is not the case for many of the Viagra clones sold by Internet companies and manufactured in countries like China and India. While it was not clear that CanadianPharmacy was actually shipping drugs from Canada, Pfizer’s general counsel, Beth Levine, claimed that the company filled orders using a call center in Montreal, reported the Toronto Star.

For Microsoft’s part, they allege that the joint effort with Pfizer is part of their “multi-pronged attack on the barrage of spam.” As the creator of the popular email program Outlook, Microsoft has been criticized in the past for the product’s spam filtering process. Recently, Microsoft added anti-spam measures to its popular Exchange server. Exchange 2003 now includes support for accessing so-called real-time block lists, or RTBLs. An RTBL is a list of the IP addresses maintained by a third party; the addresses on the list are those of mailservers thought to have sent spam recently. Exchange 2003 can query the list for each message it receives.

Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Freedom Party candidate David McGruer, Ottawa-Orleans
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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Freedom Party candidate David McGruer, Ottawa-Orleans

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

David McGruer is running for the Freedom Party of Ontario in the Ontario provincial election, in the Ottawa-Orleans riding. Wikinews’ Nick Moreau interviewed him regarding his values, his experience, and his campaign.

Stay tuned for further interviews; every candidate from every party is eligible, and will be contacted. Expect interviews from Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, New Democratic Party members, Ontario Greens, as well as members from the Family Coalition, Freedom, Communist, Libertarian, and Confederation of Regions parties, as well as independents.

John Reed on Orwell, God, self-destruction and the future of writing
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John Reed on Orwell, God, self-destruction and the future of writing

Thursday, October 18, 2007

It can be difficult to be John Reed.

Christopher Hitchens called him a “Bin Ladenist” and Cathy Young editorialized in The Boston Globe that he “blames the victims of terrorism” when he puts out a novel like Snowball’s Chance, a biting send-up of George Orwell‘s Animal Farm which he was inspired to write after the terrorist attacks on September 11. “The clear references to 9/11 in the apocalyptic ending can only bring Orwell’s name into disrepute in the U.S.,” wrote William Hamilton, the British literary executor of the Orwell estate. That process had already begun: it was revealed Orwell gave the British Foreign Office a list of people he suspected of being “crypto-Communists and fellow travelers,” labeling some of them as Jews and homosexuals. “I really wanted to explode that book,” Reed told The New York Times. “I wanted to completely undermine it.”

Is this man who wants to blow up the classic literary canon taught to children in schools a menace, or a messiah? David Shankbone went to interview him for Wikinews and found that, as often is the case, the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

Reed is electrified by the changes that surround him that channel through a lens of inspiration wrought by his children. “The kids have made me a better writer,” Reed said. In his new untitled work, which he calls a “new play by William Shakespeare,” he takes lines from The Bard‘s classics to form an original tragedy. He began it in 2003, but only with the birth of his children could he finish it. “I didn’t understand the characters who had children. I didn’t really understand them. And once I had had kids, I could approach them differently.”

Taking the old to make it new is a theme in his work and in his world view. Reed foresees new narrative forms being born, Biblical epics that will be played out across print and electronic mediums. He is pulled forward by revolutions of the past, a search for a spiritual sensibility, and a desire to locate himself in the process.

Below is David Shankbone’s conversation with novelist John Reed.

Contents

  • 1 On the alternative media and independent publishing
  • 2 On Christopher Hitchens, Orwell and 9/11 as inspiration
  • 3 On the future of the narrative
  • 4 On changing the literary canon
  • 5 On belief in a higher power
  • 6 On politics
  • 7 On self-destruction and survival
  • 8 On raising children
  • 9 On paedophilia and the death penalty
  • 10 On personal relationships
  • 11 Sources
  • 12 External links
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John “Jebby” Bush, son of Florida Governor Bush, arrested for public intoxication
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John “Jebby” Bush, son of Florida Governor Bush, arrested for public intoxication

Monday, September 19, 2005Early Friday morning, John “Jebby” Ellis Bush, the 21 year old son of Florida Governor Jeb Bush, was arrested in Austin, Texas for public intoxication and resisting arrest. Roger Wade, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission spokesman, said Bush was apprehended at 2:30AM near the corner of Trinity and Sixth Street in the city’s downtown entertainment and bar district.

Jeb and Columbia Bush’s youngest son allegedly wobbled up to TABC and Austin police on duty in the city’s downtown entertainment district and began badgering police about an earlier arrest of people he knew. TABC agent Capt. David Ferrero said Bush appeared to be drunk and “was observed to be a danger to himself and others.”

According to the arrest affidavit, “Subject further resisted by pushing back with his body as he was restrained at the [Austin Police Department] transport van.” During the scuffle, Bush suffered a cut on his chin and was transported to Breckenridge Hospital where he was treated and released. Bail was set at $2,500, but Bush was released on his own recognizance later about 10:30AM. If he fails to appear for court, he will forfeit the bond. Austin law classifies Public Intoxication as a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500, while Resisting Arrest is a Class A misdemeanor, and is punishable by up to a year in jail.

Authorities were unaware of Bush’s identity until after his arrest and booking when they observed his Florida Driver License. Governor Bush appearing with his wife at a Miami museum reception bristled at reporters’ questions Friday evening when the issue was mentioned saying, “I’m not going to discuss it on the public square with 30 cameras.”

Several members of the Bush family have received considerable press coverage for perceived or abusive use of alcohol and other substances, including George W. Bush’s DUI, Jenna and Barbara Bush’s underage drinking, and Jebby’s sister Noelle arrest for forging a Xanax prescription.

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Iraqis vote in massive numbers
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Iraqis vote in massive numbers

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

BAQDAD, Iraq –The Iraqis turned out in large numbers to the national election of January 30, 2005, risking their lives and ignoring the threats and attacks of terrorist groups. The rebels caused at least 44 deaths during the election. Ten of the deaths were caused by suicide attacks. The Al-Qaeda organization announced on a website that 13 suicide attackers participated in the attacks.

Despite the violence, a ‘loosely estimated’ 60% of the 14 million registered electors appeared to vote, according to the Electoral Commission. Proportional representation was the voting method used to select the members for a 275-strong assembly that will then draw up a constitution. The Iraqis faced up to threats, attacks, and the inconvenience of long lines caused by the security measures at polling booths.

This was the first free election held in Iraq in over 50 years. The 2005 Iraq election was very different than the previous one in 2002 during the regime of Saddam Hussein. At that time the Iraq elector was offered “yes” or “no” choices in a referendum for the only candidate, Saddam Hussein. The results of that election showed 100 percent in favor of Hussein in a 100 percent turnout. That election was called the mother of all election frauds, since any Iraqi elector who didn’t appear and vote for Hussein was condemned to death. [1], [2]

Mahdeya Saleh, an 80 year old Iraqi citizen said: “I had often been forced to vote under Saddam Hussein. Today I come out of my own will to choose freely the candidate of my choice for the first and last time in my life.” [3]

“Why should I be afraid?” Arifa Abed Mohamed told a Christian Science Monitor reporter at a Baghdad polling station. “I am afraid only from God.”

Other Iraqis expressed a similar disregard for the rebels’ threats. “I would have crawled here if I had to,” Samir Hassan told a Reuters reporter. “I don’t want terrorists to kill other Iraqis like they tried to kill me.” Hassan lost his leg in an October 2004 car-bomb attack.

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Disposal of fracking wastewater poses potential environmental problems
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Disposal of fracking wastewater poses potential environmental problems

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A recent study by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) shows that the oil and gas industry are creating earthquakes. New information from the Midwest region of the United States points out that these man-made earthquakes are happening more frequently than expected. While more frequent earthquakes are less of a problem for regions like the Midwest, a geology professor from the University of Southern Indiana, Dr. Paul K. Doss, believes the disposal of wastewater from the hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) process used in extracting oil and gas has the possibility to pose potential problems for groundwater.

“We are taking this fluid that has a whole host of chemicals in it that are useful for fracking and putting it back into the Earth,” Doss said. “From a purely seismic perspective these are not big earthquakes that are going to cause damage or initiate, as far as we know, any larger kinds of earthquakes activity for Midwest. [The issue] is a water quality issue in terms of the ground water resources that we use.”

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technique used by the oil and gas industries which inject highly pressurized water down into the Earth’s crust to break rock and extract natural gas. Most of the fluids used for fracking are proprietary, so information about what chemicals are used in the various fluids are unknown to the public and to create a competitive edge.

Last Monday four researchers from the University of New Brunswick released an editorial that sheds light on the potential risks that the current wastewater disposal system could have on the province’s water resources. The researchers share the concern that Dr. Doss has and have come out to say that they believe fracking should be stopped in the province until there is an environ­mentally safe way to dispose the waste wastewater.

“If groundwater becomes contamin­ated, it takes years to decades to try to clean up an aquifer system,” University of New Brunswick professor Tom Al said.

While the USGS group which conducted the study says it is unclear how the earthquake rates may be related to oil and gas production, they’ve made the correlation between the disposal of wastewater used in fracking and the recent upsurge in earthquakes. Because of the recent information surfacing that shows this connection between the disposal process and earthquakes, individual states in the United States are now passing laws regarding disposal wells.

The problem is that we have never, as a human society, engineered a hole to go four miles down in the Earth’s crust that we have complete confidence that it won’t leak.

“The problem is that we have never, as a human society, engineered a hole to go four miles down in the Earth’s crust that we have complete confidence that it won’t leak,” Doss said. “A perfect case-in-point is the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, that oil was being drilled at 18,000 feet but leaked at the surface. And that’s the concern because there’s no assurance that some of these unknown chemical cocktails won’t escape before it gets down to where they are trying to get rid of them.”

It was said in the study released by the New Brunswick University professors that if fracking wastewater would contaminate groundwater, that current conventional water treatment would not be sufficient enough to remove the high concentration of chemicals used in fracking. The researchers did find that the wastewater could be recycled, can also be disposed of at proper sites or even pumped further underground into saline aquifers.

The New Brunswick professors have come to the conclusion that current fracking methods used by companies, which use the water, should be replaced with carbon diox­ide or liquefied propane gas.

“You eliminate all the water-related issues that we’re raising, and that peo­ple have raised in general across North America,” Al said.

In New Brunswick liquefied propane gas has been used successfully in fracking some wells, but according to water specialist with the province’s Natural Resources De­partment Annie Daigle, it may not be the go-to solution for New Brunswick due its geological makeup.

“It has been used successfully by Corridor Resources here in New Bruns­wick for lower volume hydraulic frac­turing operations, but it is still a fairly new technology,” Daigle said.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working with U.S. states to come up with guidelines to manage seismic risks due to wastewater. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA is the organization that also deals with the policies for wells.

Oil wells, which are under regulation, pump out salt water known as brine, and after brine is pumped out of the ground it’s disposed of by being pumped back into the ground. The difference between pumping brine and the high pressurized fracking fluid back in the ground is the volume that it is disposed of.

“Brine has never caused this kind of earthquake activity,” Doss said. “[The whole oil and gas industry] has developed around the removal of natural gas by fracking techniques and has outpaced regulatory development. The regulation is tied to the ‘the run-of-the-mill’ disposal of waste, in other words the rush to produce this gas has occurred before regulatory agencies have had the opportunity to respond.”

According to the USGS study, the increase in injecting wastewater into the ground may explain the sixfold increase of earthquakes in the central part of the United States from 2000 – 2011. USGS researchers also found that in decades prior to 2000 seismic events that happened in the midsection of the U.S. averaged 21 annually, in 2009 it spiked to 50 and in 2011 seismic events hit 134.

“The incredible volumes and intense disposal of fracking fluids in concentrated areas is what’s new,” Doss said. “There is not a body of regulation in place to manage the how these fluids are disposed of.”

The study by the USGS was presented at the annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America on April 18, 2012.

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Europe hit by storms, 45 deaths reported
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Europe hit by storms, 45 deaths reported

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Europe has been hit by fierce wind and storms, with gusts over 150 kilometers per hour reported from the UK to Southern Germany. Most major motorways are blocked/shut due to lorries being overturned by the wind.

Most European Airports, Train and Motorways have been affected. Amsterdam has been cut off, with planes grounded, and the train system from Amsterdam city halted.

Contents

  • 1 Casualties and fatalities
    • 1.1 Western Europe
      • 1.1.1 United Kingdom
      • 1.1.2 Germany
      • 1.1.3 The Netherlands
      • 1.1.4 France
      • 1.1.5 Belgium
    • 1.2 Central and Eastern Europe
  • 2 Sources

According to the BBC, at least 45 people have been killed so far, with more deaths expected. Reports of numbers currently vary as the damage is assessed.

The casualties were distributed as follows:

  • United Kingdom: 13 (8 in North West England)
  • Germany: 13
  • Ireland: 7 – lost at sea
  • The Netherlands: 7
  • Poland: 6
  • Czech Republic: 4
  • Belgium: 2
  • France: 2
  • Austria: 1

The UK saw a total of eleven casualties, most of them in England. All incidents took place on January 18.

  • The first casualty of the storm was the chief of Birmingham International Airport who was killed around 05:45 GMT when his car windscreen was smashed by a falling branch in Shropshire.
  • In the London district of Kentish Town, a two-year-old boy died in hospital after receiving severe head injuries. These were caused by a wall collapsing onto the boy whilst he was walking with his childminder in the afternoon of January 18.
  • A female lorry driver was killed on the A269 in Yorkshire when her vehicle overturned and was blown into a canal.
  • A male lorry driver, who was a German national, was killed on the A55 in Chester in a similar incident.
  • The front-seat male passenger of a car on the A329 was killed when a branch hit the car near Streatley, Berkshire, the driver was injured.
  • A man was blown into metal shutters at an industrial estate in Manchester and died.
  • In Byley, Cheshire, a man was hit by a tree whilst working on a construction site.
  • An elderly man was killed at Humberside by a collapsing shed.
  • A woman in Stockport was killed when a wall she tried to shelter behind collapsed onto her.
  • In Lancashire, a man was hit by a falling canopy at a petrol station whilst refuelling and later died in hospital.
  • In Woofferton, Shropshire, a lorry driver collided with another vehicle and died on the scene.

Germany was the country most severely hit by the storm, with 13 casualties as of January 21, 2007. Most deaths occurred on the 18th and 19th of January, though some victims were only injured at first and later died in hospital.

  • In the Munich bourough Milbertshofen, an 18-month old child was severely injured by a patio door that had broken out of its hinges. The child later died in hospital.
  • Near Kirrlach in the state of Baden-Württemberg, a motorist tried to avoid a tree that had fallen onto the road and crashed into an oncoming vehicle. He was pronounced dead on the scene.
  • A 73-year old man was crushed by a barn door in Gersthofen in the district of Augsburg.
  • A fireman was killed in Tönisvorst in North Rhine-Westphalia whilst performing storm cleanup work.
  • A 36-year motorist was killed in Hildesheim by a fallen tree.
  • A motorcycle driver slid under a tree in Essen, dying in hospital on January 21.
  • On the B 55 near Lippstadt, a 23-year woman was killed when her car was hit by a falling birch tree.
  • A man was killed when the gable of a nearby building collapsed in Groß Rodensleben in the state of Saxony-Anhalt.
  • In Strausberg in Brandenburg, a 25-year man crashed into a fallen tree with his car.
  • Near Finnentrop, a man died after not noticing a tree that had fallen onto the road and crashing into it.

Seven people in the Netherlands were killed as a result of the weather. Two people died when a falling tree hit their car between Arnhem and Ede. A man near Oosterhout was killed in a collision with a truck. A motorcyclist died near Leersum after a collision with a tree, as well as a 17-year old boy on a moped in Sint Oedenrode. An 11-year old boy in Riel was blown in front of a car, which drove over him. The boy died on the scene. A 59-year old man in Staphorst was blown off of the roof of his barn, as he was repairing the damage caused by the storm. Six people were injured when a crane fell through the roof of a Utrecht University building. The National Crisis Centre has advised people to stay indoors, the first time such a warning has been issued.

In France, a driving instructor in Roubaix was killed when an electricity pole fell on top of her car. The student was severely injured. A 30-year old man died near Abbeville, when a swerving truck crashed into his car. A woman in Lille is missing after the roof of a store collapsed. There was significant damage to the cathedral at Saint-Omer.

Two people in Belgium fell victim to the storm; a 16-year old girl in Halle died when a wall she was standing by collapsed and a man died in the province of Liège after a tree fell on top of his car.

In Poland, a crane operator was killed in Katowice when a 25-metre-high (82ft) crane broke in half. By January 19 a total of 6 casualties and 19 people wounded have been reported, nearly 800 thousand households lack electricity due to the damage done by the storm, about 500 were damaged.

In the Czech Republic, a fireman died in Slune?ná (Liberec Region) when the wind threw a tree trunk on him while he was clearing the road with his colleagues. Two young men died in Vestec near Prague when a tree fell on their car.

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Second night of violence in Belfast
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Second night of violence in Belfast

Monday, September 12, 2005

A second night of rioting on Sunday night and into Monday morning has taken place in and around Belfast, Northern Ireland, with loyalist mobs attacking police, hijacking vehicles and setting them alight.

A crowd of about 700 gathered on the Albertbridge road in the east of the city, where police were attacked. A mob of about 100 attacked police in the north of the city, and in the west of the city, a police station was attacked with a blast bomb (homemade grenade).

A digger was used to take out streetlighting before the disorder, with some of the street left in darkness. It is also believed that an ATM was removed by the digger. The police and army came under attack as they moved in to retrieve the items and respond.

Cars were hijacked and set alight in a number of locations. A more serious incident occurred in Bangor, some distance east of Belfast in County Down where a bus was hijacked. Passengers were ordered off the vehicle before being robbed, and the bus set alight, blocking a road.

Baton rounds were again fired by police and the army, with the army also firing one live round. A suspect was shot and apprehended in this incident, and they are to be charged with attempted murder.

The previous night’s riots were the worst seen in Northern Ireland for many years, and a first for involving live fire at police during a public disorder incident.

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