MEDIA-Alibaba discloses 5.6 pct stake in Groupon in filing - Bloomberg

-- Source link: (bloom.bg/1XoF1U6) -- Note: Reuters has not verified this story and does not vouch for its accuracy (Editing by Alison Williams)

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Weight-loss surgery after age 35 linked to survival benefit

(Reuters Health) - Obese people who undergo a certain kind of weight-loss operation after age 35 may live longer than obese people of the same age who don't have the surgery, a study suggests.The findings, reported in JAMA Surgery, show that the so-called gastric bypass operation is associated with a mortality benefit along with its better-known "metabolic" benefits, said lead author Lance Davidson, of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.He told Reuters Health the benefit is "pretty significant and pretty convincing."In a gastric bypass procedure - formally known as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass - surgeons reduce the size of the stomach and also reconstruct the gastrointestinal tract so that food will bypass part of the intestines as it's being digested.Past research has found weight loss surgeries are tied to reduced deaths from any cause, cancer and heart disease. Those studies left several unanswered questions, however.Specifically, why are deaths from so-called external causes - like accidents and poisoning - more common among people who have weight loss surgery? Also, does the reduced risk of death apply to older people undergoing weight loss surgeries? For the new study, the researchers studied 7,925 patients who had gastric bypass between 1984 and 2002, and 7,925 similarly obese patients who didn't have surgery. Over the next seven years, surgery patients ages 35 through 44 were 46 percent less likely to die from any cause than people who didn't undergo surgery.Similarly, people ages 45 through 54 had a 57 percent reduced risk of death and people age 55 through 74 years had about a 50 percent reduced risk of death.There was no difference in death rates among people under age 35, however. The researchers found the lack of difference is primarily due to the increased risk of death from external causes being concentrated among women in that age group. For women under age 35, the risk of dying from an external cause was over three times greater for those who had gastric bypass than those who didn't have surgery.Davidson said the new study can't say why young women who have gastric bypass surgery are at an increased risk of death from external causes.It could be, he added, that we would see a reduced risk of death in these younger patients, too, if researchers followed them for another decade or so. As for older obese people considering gastric bypass, Davidson said the benefits are likely larger as people get older because deadly conditions related to obesity are more likely to occur as people age."I’d say if they qualify for it and are safe to undergo that surgery, the mortality and metabolic benefits are pretty strong," he said.But the new results should be interpreted with caution, said Dr. Malcolm Robinson, of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, wrote in an accompanying editorial."Bariatric surgeons exclude high-risk patients from surgery, which represents the major flaw in this study," wrote Robinson. In other words, the obese people who had the surgery were a relatively healthy group to start with.Davidson said bariatric surgery patients tend to be the most obese, however.SOURCE: bit.ly/1PG1Zkh and bit.ly/1PG1ZRr JAMA Surgery, online February 11, 2016.

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Russia boosts ties with Iraq in challenge to U.S. influence

BAGHDAD Russia is ready to sell civil airliners to Iraq and keep providing it with military aid to fight Islamic State, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Thursday, accompanied on a trip to Baghdad by the biggest Russian delegation in years.The mission by nearly 100 government and business officials was part of a drive by Moscow to strengthen commercial and security ties with Iraq, potentially eroding U.S. influence in one of the world's most critical regions.Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said discussions had revolved around providing military assistance to defeat Islamic State militants, also known as Daesh, who seized a third of Iraq in 2014 and want to redraw the map of the Middle East."We need international support from multiple sources, be it from within the international coalition or outside of it," he said, referring to the U.S.-led coalition which has launched thousands of airstrikes and provided training and advice to Iraq's military."We need support, training and intelligence-sharing," he told reporters. "Intelligence plays an important role in the war on Daesh, and we've been coordinating for a while now with the Russian side to place this information in the hands of Iraqis." Russia has invested millions of dollars in Iraq's energy sector and last year opened a command center in Baghdad under an intelligence-sharing agreement with Iraq, Iran and Syria aimed at combating Islamic State.Rogozin said he had met with his country's envoy to the command center, thought to be a one-star general. He said through a translator that Moscow would continue providing Iraq with military equipment which had helped "raise the combat readiness of the Iraqi armed forces", but provided few details.He told Russian news agency TASS he hoped military aid would help Iraq retake the northern city of Mosul and other areas held by Islamic State. Frustrated with the pace and depth of the U.S.-led military campaign against the militants, Iraqi officials have said they would lean heavily on Russia in the struggle to defeat the Sunni Muslim jihadists. The command center has shared intelligence for air strikes in Iraq and neighboring Syria.Four months of Russian air strikes in Syria have tipped momentum toward President Bashar al-Assad in that country's five-year-old civil war, undermining U.S.-backed efforts to revive peace talks.The officials signed a wide-ranging memorandum of understanding that included measures to more than double bilateral trade and boost Iraq's electricity production, which only meets around 60 percent of its peak demand during the hot summer months. Trade last year was nearly $2 billion, mostly made up of Russian exports, according to TASS. Rogozin said Russia could provide Sukhoi Superjet airliners for Iraq's civil aviation.He proposed holding the next meeting in Mosul, which Iraq's government has vowed to recapture from Islamic State this year."Economic cooperation must coincide with settling security matters," said Rogozin. "The faster you liberate this city, the sooner we can get (back) to Iraq." (Writing by Stephen Kalin; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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FBI arrests race car driver in massive payday lending scheme

NEW YORK A professional race car driver was arrested by the FBI on Wednesday after U.S. regulators previously accused him of engaging in a massive scheme to deceive payday lending customers, a spokeswoman for the bureau said.Scott Tucker, who competes on U.S. and European circuits and had been the target of an investigation by federal prosecutors in New York City, was arrested in Kansas City, Kansas, along with one of his lawyers, Timothy Muir.Their arrests were confirmed by Kelly Langmesser, a spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and followed a probe related to payday lending entities that authorities said Tucker controlled, including AMG Services Inc.Payday lenders provide small extensions of credit that borrowers agree to repay in a short time, such as when they next receive a paycheck. The companies say they help strapped-for-cash consumers but critics say their loans leave borrowers with lots of debt due to high interest rates, fees and loan rollovers.The arrests followed a related lawsuit filed in 2012 by the Federal Trade Commission that sought $1.32 billion from Tucker and the estate of his deceased brother, a sum it said equaled what consumers paid beyond the disclosed cost of their loans. The FTC said the scheme enabled Tucker, 53, to receive at least $419.8 million and pay for luxury vehicles, private charter and jet flights, and for an $8 million residence in Aspen, Colorado.Another $67.6 million was transferred to his racing team, Level 5 Motorsports, for sponsorship fees, the FTC said. Lawyers for Tucker and Muir did not immediately respond to a request for comment.The criminal investigation of Tucker was first reported by Reuters in May 2014 after AMG Services received a grand jury subpoena. Tucker's lawyers later said he was "a - if not the - target" of the investigation by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's office.The FTC previously obtained $25.5 million in settlements with several entities including AMG Services, which it said like other online payday lenders had affiliated itself with a Native American tribe to claim sovereign immunity from state laws. In fact, the FTC said, Overland Park, Kansas-based AMG, which said it was owned by the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, and related companies were controlled by Tucker and his brother Blaine.The FTC said the Tuckers' payday lending enterprise materially misstated the cost of consumers' loans. Amid the case, Blaine Tucker died in March 2014 in what police called a suicide. (Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Trott)

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California 'shaken baby' case in vanguard of new legal challenges

LOS ANGELES After 17 years in prison for an infant's death at her San Diego daycare center, Suzanne Johnson is in the forefront of legal challenges to "shaken baby syndrome" as courts catch up with medical advances in understanding the mechanisms of childhood brain trauma.A judge last month agreed Johnson deserved to be considered for a new trial in a case that hinged on the syndrome, a 1970s-era forensic diagnosis long accepted as sufficient to convict caretakers accused of harming and even killing babies. Appeals such as Johnson's are occurring with greater frequency at both the federal and state level, said Deborah Tuerkheimer, a Northwestern University law professor who wrote a book on the subject. But legal bids to reverse guilty verdicts are long and grueling, the outcome far from guaranteed, Tuerkheimer said. "Criminal convictions are final, and science moves on," she said."Abusive head trauma" - a newer, broader term - is the leading cause of fatal child abuse in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and conviction rates are higher than for other violent crimes.Of 1,800 resolved cases since 2001, roughly 1,600 resulted in convictions, the Washington Post reported in 2015 after a year-long investigation. Because the accused are typically trusted caregivers or parents, the consequences of a wrongful conviction are especially devastating, not only for defendants but for their children and spouse."We are shredding families," said Seattle-based lawyer Heather Kirkwood, who has filed appeals on behalf of several people convicted in such cases. For decades, pathologists, pediatricians and courts recognized a distinct set of internal head injuries - brain swelling, bleeding on the surface of the brain and behind the eyes – as proof of death by deliberate shaking, even in the absence of other overt signs of violence.But medical consensus has shifted in recent years and research now shows such injuries can be caused by accidental falls from a short height, or even medical conditions such as blood-clotting disorders and latent trauma from a difficult birth, which can manifest weeks later.NEW MEDICAL EXPERT OPINION Johnson, now 71, remains in prison while her bid for exoneration is pending. Defense lawyer Alissa Bjerkhoel said she is hopeful prosecutors will ultimately concede the case.The San Diego County District Attorney declined to comment while the case is under appeal.Sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for causing injuries that killed 6-month-old Jasmine Miller in June 1997, Johnson insisted the baby suddenly collapsed hours after an accidental fall from a high chair.Jurors, however, accepted prosecutors' explanation, backed by several medical experts, that the child died from violent shaking and a blow to the head deliberately inflicted by Johnson in a fit of rage over the baby's crying. In their petition to overturn the conviction, however, Johnson's lawyers presented new medical expert opinion that the baby was probably badly hurt by slipping out of her high chair, damage likely compounded by latent head injuries the infant presumably had suffered in a previous accidental fall from her parents' bed weeks before she died.They also introduced the fact, not presented at trial, that paramedics trying to revive Jasmine forced a breathing tube down the baby's esophagus rather than her windpipe, an error that likely contributed to or ensured her death.Citing declarations from doctors that key medical testimony "is now considered unsupported," San Diego County Superior Court Judge Jay Bloom on Jan. 4 ordered prosecutors to show why the guilty verdict should remain intact.He gave them until early February to contest Johnson's petition, after which her attorneys could file a response and the judge would likely set a hearing in the matter. If the defense prevails in reversing the conviction, under California law, prosecutors could seek to retry Johnson. (Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Sara Catania, Dina Kyriakidou and Paul Simao)

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