Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for December 23rd, 2012

No news today

Posted by Charles II on December 23, 2012

Julian Borger, The Guardian:

Russian military advisers are manning some of Syria’s more sophisticated air defences – something that would complicate any future US-led intervention, the Guardian has learned.

The advisers have been deployed with new surface-to-air systems and upgrades of old systems, which Moscow has supplied to the Assad regime since the Syrian revolution broke out 21 months ago.

The depth and complexity of Syria’s anti-aircraft defences mean that any direct western campaign, in support of a no-fly zone or in the form of punitive air strikes against the leadership, would be costly, protracted and risky.

Air strikes against chemical weapon depots would potentially disperse lethal gases over a vast area, triggering a humanitarian disaster. US and allied special forces have been trained to seize the air bases where the warheads are kept, but it is unclear what the next step would be. It would be physically impossible to fly the hundreds of warheads out of the country, while it would take thousands of troops to guard the arsenal for what could be many months.


Posted in Conflict in the Middle East, Russia, Syria | 1 Comment »

The need for regulation

Posted by Charles II on December 23, 2012

Kathleen McLaughlin, The Guardian:

International health experts are warning of a mounting health crisis in parts of Africa because of an influx of counterfeit medicine from Asia that is playing havoc with the treatment of diseases such as malaria. Porous borders in Africa coupled with indifferent oversight in China are combining to turn the continent and its pressing health problems into a free-for-all for maverick manufacturers, some of whom are producing pills with no active ingredients at all.

Patrick Lukulay, vice president of the US Pharmacopeial Convention’s global health impact programmes, said it was no secret that the majority of dangerous medications came from China and India, as those countries had the world’s largest production bases for both active ingredients and finished drugs.

While India has stepped up oversight, “China is only now just catching on”, he added.

And more from McLaughlin:

There are fake malaria drugs, antibiotics and even emergency contraceptives. This in a country battling the world’s third highest birthrate, with five to six children per woman keeping the population mired in poverty. Some pills contain no active ingredients, some are partial strength and some the wrong formulation entirely.

“Let’s not exonerate other countries, by the way,” he added, noting that African factories had also been busted for making fakes.

I wish that I could say that the US is not headed in the same direction, but ever since the 1980s, quality standards have been under attack. Not all that long ago, I had a run-in with a flu vaccine that should have been impossible. And, while problems as egregious as those reported by McLaughlin are still rare in the US, other kinds of corner-cutting are common, as evidenced by the many scandals showing substandard clinical testing.

Posted in crimes, science and medicine | 1 Comment »

I liked this solution

Posted by Charles II on December 23, 2012


(via Mark Karlin. I do think Karlin is wrong when he thinks that all gun owners have anger management problems, but he certainly did illustrate his point)

Posted in gun issues | 1 Comment »

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