For the Global Thinker

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Syria's Raging Conflict

War Photography at its finest...


The World's Poorest President

Great story...

It's a common grumble that politicians' lifestyles are far removed from those of their electorate. Not so in Uruguay. Meet the president - who lives on a ramshackle farm and gives away most of his pay.


Uruguay, Your Gov't Drug Dealer

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay — Uruguay came one step closer to turning the government into the country's leading pot dealer on Thursday, as lawmakers formally introduced to Congress a framework for regulating the production, sale and consumption of marijuana.
The proposal is much more liberal than what Uruguay's government initially proposed months ago, when President Jose Mujica said only the government would be allowed to sell.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Pfizer Outsources Human Medical Testing to India, Nigeria

In the last decade, there has been a surge in human medical testing done overseas in impoverished countries like Nigeria, India, Romania and Tunisia.  Is oversight even possible?

Excerpt from Vanity Fair article "Deadly Medicine"

"from the point of view of the drug companies, it’s easy to see why moving clinical trials overseas is so appealing. 

For one thing, it’s cheaper to run trials in places where the local population survives on only a few dollars a day. It’s also easier to recruit patients, who often believe they are being treated for a disease rather than, as may be the case, just getting a placebo as part of an experiment. 

And it’s easier to find what the industry calls “drug-naïve” patients: people who are not being treated for any disease and are not currently taking any drugs, and indeed may never have taken any—the sort of people who will almost certainly yield better test results. (For some subjects overseas, participation in a clinical trial may be their first significant exposure to a doctor.) 

Regulations in many foreign countries are also less stringent, if there are any regulations at all. The risk of litigation is negligible, in some places nonexistent. Ethical concerns are a figure of speech. Finally—a significant plus for the drug companies—the F.D.A. does so little monitoring that the companies can pretty much do and say what they want.


Outsourced: Clinical Trials Overseas

20 min documentary on one of the largest "human testing grounds" India...

Pfizer Compensates Nigerian Medical Trial Victims...


Sunday, November 11, 2012

China's Economy to Overtake US in Next Four Years, says OECD

China will overtake the US in the next four years to become the largest economy in the world, says a leading international thinktank.

The Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said China's economy will be larger than the combined economies of the eurozone countries by the end of this year, and will overtake the US by the end of 2016.

Global GDP will grow by 3% a year over the next 50 years, it says, but there will be large variations between countries and regions. By 2025, it says the combined GDP of China and India will be bigger than that of France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, US and Canada put together. Asa Johansson, senior economist at the OECD, said: "It is quite a shift in the balance of economic power we are going to see in the future."


Developing economies to eclipse west by 2060, OECD forecasts


"But by 2060, as the chart below shows, the combined GDP of China (27.8%) and India (18.2%) will be larger than that of the OECD – and the total output of China, India and the rest of the developing world (57.7%) will be greater than that of developed OECD and non-OECD countries (42.3%).

United StatesJapanEurozoneOther OECDOther non-OECDChinaIndiaUnited StatesEurozoneOther OECDIndiaChina

Developing world growth will continue to outpace the OECD, but the difference will narrow over coming decades. From more than 7% a year over the last decade, non-OECD growth will fall to around 5% in the 2020s and to about half that by the 2050s. Trend growth for the OECD is forecast to be 1.75% to 2.25% a year.

Until 2020, China will have the highest growth rate among the countries included in the report, but will then be overtaken by both India and Indonesia.


Map: How the Age of the World Will Change by 2025...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Mexican police charged in attack on CIA officers

There are two Mexicos.
There is the one reported by the US press, a place where the Mexican president is fighting a valiant war on drugs, aided by the Mexican army and the Mérida Initiative, the $1.4 billion in aid the United States has committed to the cause. This Mexico has newspapers, courts, laws, and is seen by the United States government as a sister republic.
It does not exist.

There is a second Mexico where the war is for drugs, where the police and the military fight for their share of drug profits, where the press is restrained by the murder of reporters and feasts on a steady diet of bribes, and where the line between the government and the drug world has never existed.

Mexican police charged in attack on CIA officers

Fourteen officers in Mexico’s federal police force have been formally charged with the attempted murder of a pair of American CIA operatives who were attacked in their armored SUV in August on a road south of the capital, federal prosecutors said Friday.
In a statement, prosecutors said the officers’ actions were deliberate, alleging that they “intended to take the lives of two functionaries from the United States Embassy in Mexico,” as well as a member of the Mexican navy who was traveling with them through dangerous country on their way to a Mexican military training facility.


Mexican Official:  CIA "Manages" Drug War

The US Central Intelligence Agency and other international security forces "don't fight drug traffickers", a spokesman for the Chihuahua state government in northern Mexico has told Al Jazeera, instead "they try to manage the drug trade".
Allegations about official complicity in the drug business are nothing new when they come from activists, professors, campaigners or even former officials. However, an official spokesman for the authorities in one of Mexico's most violent states - one which directly borders Texas - going on the record with such accusations is unique.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

The World is Safer Now. But Who Cares?

The world is safer now, but no one in Washington can talk about it...


Obama says terrorist networks remain the greatest threat to the United States. “We have to remain vigilant,” he warned recently. But global terrorism has barely touched most Americans in the decade since Sept. 11, 2001, with 238 U.S. citizens killed in terrorist attacks, mostly in war zones, according to the National Counterterrorism Center’s annual reports. By comparison, the Consumer Product Safety Commission found that 293Americans were crushed during the same stretch by falling furniture or televisions.

Beyond the United States, global statistics point undeniably toward progress in achieving greater peace and stability.

Why is the Mexican Drug War Being Ignored?

 Neighbors and family of slain Alberto Rodriquez, 28, watch and cry as the authorities descend on the crime scene. Rodriguez was killed in his car outside his house while his family watched. See more here.

Why is the Mexican Drug War Being Ignored?

Killings continue to rise, and hardly a week passes without a new report of grisly acts south of the border. Portions of several key cities, especially Ciudad Juarez and Monterrey, are now virtual war zones. The Mexican government’s control is becoming precarious in major swaths of territory, including the crucial northern states of Nuevo Leon, Chihuahua, and Tamaulipas. Several of the cartels, especially the Sinaloa cartel and the ultra-violent Zetas, pose a threat to the integrity of the Mexican state.

 Equally troubling, the turmoil in Mexico is spreading to Central America and beginning to seep over the border into the United States. One would think that such a national security problem would merit some attention from the incumbent president and the man who aims to replace him.
Indeed, Mexican opinion leaders were justifiably miffed at the failure to address the drug war. Prominent journalist Leon Krauss’s widely circulated tweet summarized the frustration. “Mexico, facing 100,000 deaths, neighbor to the United States, didn’t deserve a single mention tonight. A disgrace.”


Meet Mexico's New Cartel Boss...Z-40

More blood and more death. Mexico’s drug wars seem to be getting crueler and more sadistic by the year. Of all the players involved, probably no one is more responsible for the increasing violence than Miguel Angel Treviño, a.k.a. ‘Z-40,’ who has just taken over control of the notorious Los Zetas cartel following the killing last week of kingpin Heriberto “El Lazca” Lascano.
Mexican authorities confirmed the leadership change, as have rival cartels, which are urging a unified approach to face Treviño head on.


Mexico's New Deadly City


Once enticing U.S. firms like Caterpillar and John Deere and Japanese auto parts maker Takata to open plants, Torreon has not attracted any other big names since the Zetas swept in.

"It's a powder keg," said a former mayor, Guillermo Anaya, who ran the city from 2003 to 2005 and is now a federal lawmaker.

Many people in the arid metropolis about 275 miles (450 km) from the U.S. border believe if Torreon cannot defeat the Zetas soon it may need to reach some kind of agreement with their arch rivals, the Sinaloa Cartel, and let them do the job.

Widely seen as the most brutal Mexican drug gang, the Zetas have so terrorized Torreon and the surrounding state of Coahuila that some officials make a clear distinction between them and the Sinaloa Cartel, for years the dominant outfit in the city.

"They (the Zetas) act without any kind of principles," Torreon's police chief, Adelaido Flores, told Reuters. "The ones from Sinaloa don't mess ... with the population."