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US jury finds Bayer’s Roundup caused man’s cancer

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A U.S. jury on Tuesday found Bayer AG’s glyphosate-based weed killer caused a man’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in a bellwether trial that may help determine the course of hundreds of similar cases.

The finding by the unanimous jury in San Francisco federal court clears the way for that same jury to determine if Bayer unit Monsanto is liable and must pay damages to California resident Edwin Hardeman in a second trial phase.

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Bayer in a statement on Tuesday said it was disappointed with the jury’s initial decision.

“We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto’s conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman’s cancer,” the company said.

The case was only the second of some 11,200 Roundup lawsuits to go to trial in the United States. Another California man was awarded $289 million in August after a state court jury found Roundup caused his cancer, sending Bayer shares plunging at the time. That award was later reduced to $78 million and is on appeal.

Hardeman’s case is expected to help determine the range of damages and define settlement options for more than 760 Roundup cases consolidated in the federal court in San Francisco.

Bayer denies allegations that Roundup, or glyphosate, cause cancer. It says decades of studies and regulatory evaluations, primarily of real-world human exposure data, have shown the weed killer to be safe for human use.

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After five days of deliberations over scientific evidence presented during the trial, the jury on Tuesday found Roundup, one of the world’s most widely-used weed killers, to be a “substantial factor” in causing Hardeman’s cancer.

During the first phase, Hardeman’s lawyers were not allowed to present evidence allegedly showing the company’s efforts to influence scientists, regulators and the public about the safety of its products. They will be able to present that evidence in the second phase.

Hardeman’s lawyers, Aimee Wagstaff and Jennifer Moore, said they look forward to presenting that evidence to the jury to hold Monsanto accountable.

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“Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup,” they said in a statement.

Reporting by Jim Christie in San Francisco; Additional reporting and writing by Tina Bellon in New York; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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Google tightens political ads policy in effort to stop abuse

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Google on Wednesday updated how it handles political ads as online platforms remain under pressure to avoid being used to spread misleading information intended to influence voters.

The internet company said its rules already ban any advertiser, including those with political messages, from lying in ads. But it is making its policy more clear and adding examples of how that prohibits content such as doctored or manipulated images or video.

"It's against our policies for any advertiser to make a false claim -- whether it's a claim about the price of a chair or a claim that you can vote by text message, that election day is postponed, or that a candidate has died," Google ads product management vice president Scott Spencer said in an online post.

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Pope Francis begins Asia tour with visit to Buddhist temple

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Pope Francis will visit one of Thailand's famed gilded temples Thursday to meet the supreme Buddhist patriarch, on the first full day of his Asian tour aimed at promoting religious harmony.

The 82-year-old pontiff is on his first visit to Buddhist majority Thailand, where he will spend four days before setting off to Japan.

His packed schedule a day after touching down in Bangkok includes a meeting with the king and the prime minister before leading an evening mass expected to draw tens of thousands of people from across Thailand, where just over 0.5 percent of the population is Catholic.

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Hong Kong campus stalemate persists while US congress passes bill of support for democracy protesters

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Hardline Hong Kong protesters held their ground on Thursday in a university besieged for days by police as the US passed a bill lauding the city's pro-democracy movement, setting up a likely clash between Washington and Beijing.

Beijing did not immediately respond to the passage in Washington of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which voices strong support for the "democratic aspirations of the Hong Kong people."

But China had already threatened retaliation if the bill is signed into law by President Donald Trump, and state-run media warned Thursday the legislation would not prevent Beijing from intervening forcefully to stop the "mess" gripping the financial hub.

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