UN Official Says “Now Is the Time” to Pressure North Korea to Act on Human Rights
Concerned by the lack of any reference to human rights in the joint statement issued at the historic summit between Washington and Pyongyang, the United Nations special rapporteur on North Korea says “this is the time” for the U.S. to pressure North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to engage in a dialogue with the international community to improve the lives of its people.
Quintana said the momentum generated by the summit must bring North Korea’s human rights situations to the fore. “Now the North Korean leadership and the government want to normalize the country, want to become a respectable member of the United Nations. Well, they will have to change their stance in regard to human rights questions and start the process of dialogue and engagement,” he said.
While Quintana said he understands President Donald Trump’s priority is denuclearizing North Korea, the U.N. official is concerned that unless the human rights situation in North Korea improves, it will become “an obstacle for any agreement to be implemented and effective.”
During a press conference after the summit talks, Trump downplayed reporters’ questions on human rights, saying only that he brought up the issue to Kim.
US Government Cancels $100 Million Study on Alcohol Use
The U.S. government is shutting down a planned study testing whether moderate drinking has health benefits over concerns that its funding by the alcohol industry would compromise its credibility.
The National Institutes of Health said Friday the results of the planned $100 million study could not be trusted because of the secretive way that employees negotiated with beer and liquor companies to underwrite the effort.
Government officials say it is legal to use industry money to pay for government research so long as all rules are followed. However, in this case, NIH officials say employees did not follow proper procedures, including keeping their interactions with industry officials secret.
NIH Deputy Director Lawrence Tabak said the interactions between the employees and industry representatives appeared to “intentionally bias'' the study so that it would have a better chance to conclude that moderate drinking is beneficial.
An NIH review panel was also concerned that the study’s proposed span of 10 years was too short a time period to adequately test the potential problems of a daily drink – such as an increased risk of cancer or heart failure.