For the Global Thinker

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cigarettes Could Reach $80 Per Pack In New Zealand

Yet another unwinnable drug war begins but this time in New Zealand...

While it may be noble to get people to quit smoking, we all know that this strategy has been the least successful.  Criminal gangs will simply buy cigarettes from abroad and smuggle them into NZ.  In turn, the NZ government will spend millions fighting these gangs...sounds like a lose-lose situation to me...

As part of an effort to make New Zealand a smoke-free nation by the year 2025, officials at the Ministry of Health have commissioned an economics forecasting firm to model a variety of pricing scenarios showing how increasing the cost of cigarettes would effect smoking prevalence, 3 News reports.
The modeling found that in order to achieve a population-wide smoking prevalence of 5 percent or less, New Zealand would have to institute a pricing plan that would the increase the cost of cigarettes to $100 NZD (about $80 USD) per pack by 2020 with price tags "increasing exponentially after that."  

Read more here...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Our Incredible Planet

A collection of fabulous wallpapers from National Geographic...
(Click to enlarge)

Antarctic feeling in the Weddell Sea in January 2007.

In a bone-cold evening in Akihabara (Electric Town), Tokyo.

The broken wall in the foreground is a good representation of the destruction the 2008 winter storms left in California.
This photo shows a woman crossing the Hussaini Bridge with the Passu Cathedrals in the background in Pakistan.
Bali, Indonesia

An 18-wheeler out running a storm in South Dakota.
Frozen clothes peg, USA.

 In the Signature Lounge, at dusk, New York.

I made this image during a 4-day snowshoe trip around Oregon's Crater Lake. These clouds drifted in ahead of a winter storm that arrived the next day. As sunset neared, the approaching storm was still well offshore, allowing for this brilliant display of light as the sun dropped below the horizon.

Brooklyn Bridge, New York.
This photograph was taken at Bryce Canyon with the very first light of the sun from Sunrise Point. It reminded me of the famous suite by Edvard Grieg - 'Peer Gynt', its first part - 'Morning Mood'.
Island of Burano, Italy, by night. 

This photo was taken just after sunrise as large storm swell approached southern California. Oceanside, California.

Pilgrim in her room, O Cebreiro, Saint James Way, Camino de Santiago.
Taken from the Prairie Wind Overlook in Badlands National Park, South Dakota.  The mirrored symmetry with the clouds and light really caught my eye.  The only thing you could hear was the wind rustling through the grass.

This is a 17-minute exposure of Yosemite Valley in late November of 2006. The moon illuminated the scene. 

See these and more amazing National Geographic wallpapers here...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Latin America wants out of drug war

Philadelphia Inquirer
Apr. 14, 2012


Latin American countries are rightfully fed up with fighting Washington’s war on drugs. In the four decades since President Richard Nixon declared the war on drugs, its battles have been fought predominantly in Latin American nations, leaving behind a trail of death and corruption while failing to achieve any of its goals.

Central America has become a hub for drug smugglers. American-style street gangs operate as the armed muscle of the drug cartels, bringing the violence in Central America to levels that rival those of the civil wars of the 1980s. The bloodshed has even spread to countries that until recently enjoyed some of the lowest crime rates in the world, such as Costa Rica and Belize.
In addition, the perception in the region is that the United States makes tough demands on other governments to combat drug cartels while doing too little to reduce demand at home. America remains the largest drug consumer market in the world. Furthermore, its lax gun laws have made it the main source of weapons for drug cartels, and its financial institutions enjoy much of the profit of the drug business.

Some former Latin American leaders and U.S. officials have long advocated decriminalization of drugs to address the failure of the existing approach. But it’s only been recently that current leaders of Latin American countries have joined the calls for that approach.

First, President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, a conservative whose nation is the United States’ staunchest ally in the war on drugs, declared the drug war a failure and came out in support of decriminalization. Then, a few weeks ago, President Otto Pérez Molina of Guatemala, a conservative former general, said he would consider legalizing the possession and transportation of drugs, and he called for a meeting of all of Central America’s presidents to debate the issue.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mexican Children Plead for a better country...

Also here is another another article worth checking out...
Latin American countries pursue alternatives to U.S. drug war

 "Cesar Gaviria, a former Colombian president who has been a forceful critic of the U.S. policy, said American officials acknowledge the failure of the policy behind closed doors and do little to defend it publicly. He said it is simply a policy on automatic pilot.

“You reach the conclusion that all this killing in Mexico and Central America has been in the name of a failed policy that the United States does not believe in or vigorously defend,” said Gaviria, speaking in his Bogota office.

Much of the momentum for a shift began after Gaviria, former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo and former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso issued a report in 2009 calling for drug policy reform. They have been joined by a range of intellectuals, among them Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes, and retired officials, including former U.S. secretary of state George Shultz.

What they and many current presidents in Latin America propose is not a wide-open policy of legalization but a softening of the laws.

Decriminalizing drug possession would free billions of dollars spent in the criminal justice system, advocates say, while vastly improving drug treatment. Heavy drug users, who drive the illicit trade, could be weaned off drugs through maintenance models that provide drugs legally but under close supervision.
Legalizing marijuana, which advocates argue would present only a modest risk to public health, would weaken cartels and free up funding for other uses, advocates say.
“They’re not saying, ‘Legalize everything today,’ like alcohol and tobacco,” said Ethan Nadelmann, who has advised Latin American leaders and is the director of the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance, an advocacy organization that has criticized U.S. tactics.

“What they are saying is we need to give the same consideration to alternative, regulatory and non-prohibitionist drug control policies in the future as we’ve given to the failed drug war strategies of the last 40 years.”

Vice President Biden laid out the U.S. position, saying, “There are more problems with legalization than non-legalization.”

“It’s worth discussing,” he told reporters, “but there’s no possibility the Obama-Biden administration will change its policy on legalization.”

U.S. statistics signal some progress, such as a 40 percent drop in cocaine use in the United States since 2006 and a 68 percent plunge over the same period in the number of people testing positive for cocaine in the workplace.

Read more here...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Silent World

Amidst the hustle and bustle of city life, dodging tourists, and a constant flow of anonymous faces, ever wonder what New York would be like if it were completely abandoned?
Difficult to envision, but artists Lucie & Simon present a beautifully striking perspective of such an apocalyptic scenario. The result is a photo series capturing some of the the world's most frequented locations, wiped out of the usual chaos. Watch their video (to the tune of Philip Glass and Daft Punk) below:  (Full screen recommended)

Silent world from Lucie & Simon on Vimeo.

See more images here...



Saturday, April 7, 2012

Jamie Oliver: Pink Slime in 70% of Ground Beef

An astonishing video demonstration of how corporations are literally feeding humans dog food without them even knowing it.  PLEASE SHARE!
See video here...

Also another great article on this issue from the BBC...

Could 'pink slime' be rebranded?

Three out of the four US factories making "lean beef trimmings" are to be shut down following a public outcry. Is "pink slime" - as critics call it - finished or could it be relaunched under a new name?
The look on shoppers' faces as Jamie Oliver sloshed ammonia into a bowl of what he calls "pink slime" said it all.
They were horrified. They appeared to have no idea that the burgers they had been buying all these years contained anything other than prime cuts of beef.
But here was a TV chef showing them, in a 2011 edition of his US show Jamie's Food Revolution, how their burgers are bulked out by meat that in previous decades would have been used for dog food, and is only made fit for human consumption by being treated with chemicals.


Also Check out this article from Big Think...

It's Time to Upgrade your Biological System...


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Tiger Cities

If you miss Asia or you just want to have a peak into Asian city life, check out these incredible videos...Missing the fast-paced life :(  ----Enjoy.  

Full Screen and headphones recommended...
(The last 2 minutes are AMAZING)