Beijing has imposed a one-year ban on imports of ivory carvings as critics say rising Chinese demand threatens African elephants with extinction, but campaigners described the move as "more symbolic than effective" Friday. The measure came days ahead of a visit to China by Britain's Prince William, who has campaigned against illegal wildlife trafficking and is expected to speak on the issue during a stop in the southwestern province of Yunnan next Wednesday. The ban took effect Thursday and was announced by China's State Forestry Administration in a statement on its website. China is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), but conservationists say it is the world's largest consumer of illegal ivory, with skyrocketing demand leading to the slaughter of tens of thousands of African elephants each year.
Nine people are dead following a mass murder in rural Missouri in which the suspected gunman took his own life, police in the Midwestern state said Friday. With an investigation still underway, it appeared that seven people were shot and killed in four different residences in the small Bible Belt town of Tyrone. An eighth person, described as an elderly woman, was found dead in a fifth house, apparently "from natural causes," the Missouri State Highway Patrol said. "The apparent suspect, a 36-year-old male from Tyrone, was found dead in a vehicle... in (neighboring) Shannon County from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound," added police spokesman Sergeant Jeff Kinder.