“Consumerism is now the Thai religion,” said Phra Paisan Visalo, one of
the country’s most respected monks. “In the past, people went to temple
on every holy day. Now, they go to shopping malls.”
The meditative lifestyle of the monkhood offers little allure to the
iPhone generation. The number of monks and novices relative to the
population has fallen by more than half over the last three decades.
There are five monks and novices for every 1,000 people today, compared
with 11 in 1980, when governments began keeping nationwide records.
Although it is still relatively rare for temples to close, many
districts are so short on monks that abbots here in northern Thailand
recruit across the border from impoverished Myanmar, where monasteries
are overflowing with novices.
"I wanted to transform the subway from its dark, degrading and impersonal reality into images that open up our experience again to the color, sensuality, and vitality of the individual souls that ride it each day."Bruce Davidson
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.
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.
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.
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.
China will overtake the US in the next four years to become the largest economy in the world, says a leading international thinktank.
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
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.
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.
The world is safer now, but no one in Washington can talk about it... Excerpt:
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.
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.”
READ MORE HERE... http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2012/10/30/why-is-mexico-drug-war-being-ignored/ 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.
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.
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
Mr. Chen accused the United States of encouraging the right wing in Japan, and fanning a rise of militarism.
“The U.S. is urging Japan to play a greater role in the region in
security terms, not just in economic terms,” he said during his speech
at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong. That “suits the
purpose of the right wing in Japan more than perfectly — their long-held
dream is now possible to be realized.”
The United States has said that, in the event of conflict, the disputed
islands are covered by its mutual defense treaty with Japan, a position
that China has severely criticized since the latest dispute flared last
Mr. Chen described what he called the intervention of the United States
in territorial disputes in the South China Sea — where China has been at
odds with another American ally, the Philippines — as a way for the
United States to expand its influence and restrain the influence of
“Will these countries misjudge and draw China and the United States into
a confrontation?” Mr. Chen asked. “The danger is apparent, and China
needs to be aware of that.”
Great article, real cloak and dagger stuff... Excerpt:
"This unit was so secret that few people inside CIA headquarters knew
it existed; it wasn’t even listed in the CIA's classified telephone
book. Officially it was named the Special Operations Division, but the
handful of agency officers selected for it called it the Shop. In Doug Groat’s time there, in the 1980s and early ’90s, the Shop
occupied a nondescript one-story building just south of a shopping mall
in the Washington suburb of Springfield, Virginia. The building was part
of a government complex surrounded by a chain-link fence; the pebbled
glass in the windows let in light but allowed no view in or out.
and women of the Shop made up a team of specialists: lock pickers,
safecrackers, photographers, electronics wizards and code experts. One
team member was a master at disabling alarm systems, another at flaps
and seals. Their mission, put simply, was to travel the world and break
into other countries’ embassies to steal codes, and it was
extraordinarily dangerous. They did not have the protection of
diplomatic cover; if caught, they might face imprisonment or execution.
The CIA, they assumed, would claim it knew nothing about them."
A heartbreaking, yet amazing story of a Vancouver teen who is driven to suicide after experiencing years of bullying both on and offline. Definitely, worth sharing...
The mother of a teenager who died Wednesday of suspected suicide
wants her daughter’s anti-cyber-bullying video to be used to help other
young people. Fifteen-year-old Amanda Todd was found dead in a Port Coquitlam home
at 6 p.m. Wednesday, five weeks after she posted a heartbreaking video
on YouTube detailing how she was harassed online and bullied. “I think the video should be shared and used as an anti-bullying
tool. That is what my daughter would have wanted,” Carol Todd, Amanda’s
mother, told The Vancouver Sun in a message on Twitter.
This whole drone thing is getting way to scary. You can kiss any freedom you thought you had in the first place goodbye if this program goes through...
Nearly half the public, 44 percent, supports allowing police forces
inside the U.S. to use drones to assist police work, but a significant
minority — 36 percent — say they “strongly oppose” or “somewhat oppose”
police use of drones, according to a survey last month.
Insightful article on the current situation in North Korea... EXCERPT: Of
course it won't be easy. Even though the North
Korean leadership is aiming at the low-hanging
fruits of authoritarian state capitalism, there
are myriad obstacles in the way. Kim Jong-il
bequeathed his son a rotten hand of cards: a
population disillusioned by any form of government
intervention in the economy, a state and party
apparatus riven with corruption, and a bloated
military that represents a million-man barrier to
meaningful change. And that is without getting
started on the industrial, legal, financial and
communications infrastructure in North Korea, all
of which will be highly inadequate for years to
come no matter what policy is unveiled on October
However, Kim Jong-eun is not yet 30
years old. What is his alternative? He clearly
recognizes that grassroots marketization,
increasingly uncontrollable information flows and
the steadily declining power of the North Korean
state mean that it would be futile to carry on
with his father's politics for another half
century in the implausible hope that he might get
to pass on power to his own favored son. Economic liberalization is a proactive way
to break out of this doomed spiral, and even if
the regime falls off the tightrope, collapse
following an honest attempt at change will likely
earn him and his handbag-toting young wife a
softer landing than yet more full-blooded
In other words, Kim Jong-eun
already knows that even if you can't be a Deng
Xiaoping, it's better to be a Mikhail Gorbachev
than a Muammar Gaddafi.
books traditionally depict the pre-Columbus Americas as a pristine
wilderness where small native villages lived in harmony with nature. But
scientific evidence tells a very different story: When Columbus stepped
ashore in 1492, millions of people were already living there. America
wasn't exactly a "New World," but a very old one whose inhabitants had
built a vast infrastructure of cities, orchards, canals and causeways.
But after Columbus set foot in the Americas, an endless wave of
explorers, conquistadors and settlers arrived, and with each of their
ships came a Noah's Ark of plants, animals—and disease. In the first 100
years of contact, entire civilizations were wiped out and the landscape
was changed forever.