March 22, 2005

World Bites

In Angola, 96 are dead of hemorrhagic fever caused by the Marburg virus.

The US National Guard and Reserve have raised the enlistment age by 5 years, saying it will boost recruiting.

EU leaders say they're concerned about Wolfowitz.

The Nepalese are caught in the crossfire between an autocratic government and Maoist rebels.

Unocal settles out of court over allegations of abuse brought by Burmese villagers.

Tony Blair talks about the role of faith in British politics:

...The prime minister, battered by Tory tabloid pressures on abortion, insisted: "I do not want to end up with an American-style of politics with us all going out there beating our chest about our faith.

"Politics and religion - it is not that they do not have a lot in common, but if it ends up being used in the political process, I think that is a bit unhealthy." ...

But a Guardian columnist says that the culture wars may be coming to Britain.

A decision on patent law in India has potentially far-reaching implications:

... Last week, India proposed changing the country's patent laws to make it illegal to copy patented drugs, a practice that has made cheaper medicines available in India and abroad, to fulfil India's commitment to the WTO.

The existing patent law has allowed drug makers to copy patented drugs as long as they use a different manufacturing process. It has fostered a strong drug manufacturing industry in India for more than three decades.

"Fifty percent of people with AIDS in the developing world depend on generic drugs from India," Ellen 't Hoen, director of policy advocacy and research at relief agency Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders, told a news conference.

"The patent law will cut the lifeline to other countries. Besides, the Doha declaration also says that countries should design products so that they protect public health." ...

Something similar is happening in Guatemala, where heavy pressure from the US ambassador caused them to change their drug patent laws as well:

... To gain regulatory approval to sell generic versions of drugs already approved for market, generic companies generally do not repeat safety and efficacy studies, which are very time consuming and relatively costly. Instead, they typically show their product is chemically equivalent to, and works the same in the body as, the brand-name drug. Then they rely the drug regulatory agency's approval of the patented product to earn approval for the generic version of the product.

But the U.S.-imposed provision would prevent this, and establish a 5-10 year period during which generic firms could not rely on the brand-name companies' tests. As a result, brand-name companies would get protected monopolies even if a product is not on patent, or even if a compulsory license was issued. ...

Iran says that it won't give up nuclear power technology. Meanwhile, in another part of the country, Iranian villagers and Afghan refugees in a drought-stricken province depend on government aid for water that they bring home in jerry cans. As global warming progresses, drought conditions like this will become ever more prevalent.

"So if you wanted to know just how sick you'd have to be before Congress would act to improve your healthcare ..." - Jon Stewart talking about the Schiavo legislation, 3/22/05

Posted by natasha at March 22, 2005 07:33 PM | International | Technorati links |