26/03/2014

The week's odd news: Utah students suspected of smoking pot in igloo

Four University of Utah students who police say were caught smoking pot in an igloo are facing possible discipline from campus officials.

Sgt. Garth Smith said the well-camouflaged hideaway was discovered by a passing campus security guard Jan. 31 in the woods between campus housing and Research Park.

Smith said the igloo was about 5 feet tall and had walls of snow about 10 inches thick. He said the students had either constructed it themselves or found it abandoned.

Smith said the guard passing through the area heard voices and smelled pot before finding the four men inside.

One of the students was cited for marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. All were referred to campus officials.

Officials then destroyed with a sledgehammer, Smith said.

Doughnut shop in YMCA won't sell doughnuts

QUINCY, Mass. — A doughnut shop chain won’t be selling doughnuts at a new Massachusetts location.

Quincy’s licensing board approved a plan for Honey Dew Donuts to open a shop inside the city’s new $30 million YMCA.

A spokeswoman for the YMCA told The Patriot Ledger that because of the organization’s emphasis on physical fitness, no doughnuts will be sold. The shop will sell coffee, low-fat muffins, salads, sandwiches, yogurt, fruit cups and smoothies. All menu items must be approved by the YMCA.

According to Honey Dew’s website, its low-fat muffins contain more calories and sugar than many of its doughnuts.

French zoo shows off rare lion cubs

BESANCON, France — Three Asiatic lion cubs are making their debut at a zoo in eastern France, raising slim hopes for one of the world’s rarest species.

The Besancon zoo held off announcing the Dec. 31 births until this week, afraid the two females and a male might not survive. Their mother let a single cub die last year, and the three are being kept from their father until zookeepers are sure he won’t hurt them.

There are about 300 Asiatic lions in the wild, all in an Indian reserve. About the same number are in captivity.

“Lions in captivity will not be reintroduced in nature — or probably not — because they are used to men and might potentially be dangerous,” zookeeper Guillaume Limouzin said Thursday.

Huge Marilyn Monroe statue to leave California

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — A massive statue of Marilyn Monroe that has turned heads for two years in Palm Springs is headed east.

The Riverside Press-Enterprise said the 26-foot-tall, 34,000-pound statue will be transported in April from California to Hamilton, N.J., where it will be part of an exhibit honoring its designer, Seward Johnson.

A going away party, open to the public, is planned for March 27.

The statue of the “Some Like it Hot” star arrived in the desert resort city in 2012. The sculpture depicts Monroe trying to push down her billowing skirt in her memorable scene in the “Seven Year Itch.” The “Forever Marilyn” statue, on loan from The Sculpture Foundation, was previously in Chicago.

Palm Springs officials said they hope to eventually lure Marilyn back.

19/03/2014

WTO arbitration over cigarette taxes again likely

THE PHILIPPINES will likely hale Thailand back to arbitration should the pending tax evasion case against the Bangkok-based unit of Philip Morris International, Inc. negate a World Trade Organization (WTO) decision in 2011, a Cabinet official yesterday said.

The case, filed last August by Thailand’s Department of Special Investigations against Philip Morris Thailand Limited, is preventing the cigarette tax dispute between the Philippine and Thailand from being put to rest, Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo yesterday said, on the sidelines of the Philippine Economic Briefing at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.

"There is a period in the case against Philip Morris Thailand which covers the same period in our case against Thailand at the WTO. If that will be affected, yes we will go back to arbitration," said Mr. Domingo, adding: "We have to force compliance if they do not comply."

The Trade chief also said: "We have to look for some other forms of compensation." He declined to elaborate.

Trade Undersecretary Adrian S. Cristobal, Jr. said last month that "[t]here is no threat to exports of tobacco from the Philippines to Thailand anymore." Kiss Superslims Menthol

"Customs valuations, excessive taxes... these have already been settled," he then said.

"But, there are pending charges in their Attorney-General’s office against Philip Morris Thailand, which involves some of the customs transactions during the period covered by the case with the WTO. So, we are looking for assurance that the entire WTO decision is respected not just now but also in the future," he added.

Bangkok Post reported on Aug. 18 last year that Philip Morris Thailand was being accused of under-declaring the value of its cigarette imports between 2003 and 2007, thereby avoiding about $2 billion in duties and import taxes.

Mr. Cristobal had said it is important that these developments in Thailand "will not negate decisions made at the WTO."

"If that happens, the WTO decision now becomes useless," he then said.

Bilateral meetings between the Philippines and Thailand over the latter’s compliance with the WTO ruling have been ongoing since May last year. Thailand has been required to implement reforms after it lost, in 2011, a case involving claims of the unfair taxation of cigarettes from the Philippines.

To comply, the Geneva-based WTO said Thailand had to, among other things, implement a general rule for customs valuation of imported cigarettes, use the same computation for the maximum suggested retail prices of both imported and locally made cigarettes, and establish independent review tribunals or processes for the prompt review of customs valuations.

The case stemmed from a 2006 complaint filed by the Philippines on behalf of Philip Morris Philippines Manufacturing, Inc., claiming a bias against imported cigarette brands in Thailand.

Thailand was found granting less favorable treatment to imported cigarettes by exempting similar domestic cigarettes from administrative requirements like filing tax returns, filing revenue and expense reports, and related sanctions for the failure to report.

The original deadline for the reforms was October 2012, but the Philippines allowed Thailand some leeway as some changes may require legislation.

If the Philippines is unsatisfied with the implementation of Thailand, WTO rules state that the country can seek further arbitration or ask the Geneva-based agency to impose limited trade sanctions.

Violating anti-smoking ordinance: some cigarette makers issued notices

Some cigarette manufacturers including a leading company have received notices from the Ministry of National Health, Services, Regulations and Co-ordination (MNHSRC) specifically with regards to violation of "The Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smokers Ordinance 2002".

It is learnt that various companies were advertising their brands through different means including advertisement boards on shops, free sampling and consumer incentive schemes, which are in clear violations of "The Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smokers Ordinance 2002". Taking serious notice of these violations, the government has issued show cause notices to certain cigarette manufacturers and directed the units concerned to stop all such cigarette promotion activities and submit written reply as to why legal action may not be initiated against the tobacco companies. Davidoff iD Orange

According to details, the Ministry of Health SRO 53(KE)/ 2009 and SRO 882(1)2007 issued under section 7 of the Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smokers Ordinance 2002 stipulates that free goods, cash rebates, free samples, discounts, goods below the market value shall not be offered for the purpose of advertisement of tobacco or tobacco products to consumers along with banning of tobacco products advertisement boards on shops, covering area of more than one square foot. It is also mandatory to print health warning of not less than 1/5th of total advertisement board. But some companies are clearly violating these laws and are continuing doing promotional activities for their brands by displaying advertisement boards on shops and through consumer incentive schemes.

In order to curb the violations of the advertising regulations by the tobacco manufacturers, the Ministry of National Health Services Regulation and Co-ordination has approved new guidelines on December 31, 2013 which will be effective from May 31, 2014. According to these new guidelines tobacco or tobacco product advertisements in media, cinema, theaters, branding on garments, posters or banners fixed outside shops, kiosks, mobile trolleys, billboards, on store boards or fascia fixed outside shops, kiosks or mobile trolleys will not be allowed. According to the experts, the compliance of the new tobacco advertising rules and guidelines by the tobacco industry will be a challenge and the Ministry of NHSR&C will have to be ever vigilant to ensure compliance of the tobacco regulations in letter and spirit.