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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 146,999

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This US-backed Pacific trade deal could stop the poor from getting life-saving meds

This US-backed Pacific trade deal could stop the poor from getting life-saving meds
By Ioan Grillo Simeon Tegel, GlobalPost
Posted: 05/12/15, 4:00 PM PDT |

MEXICO CITY, Mexico and LIMA, Peru — As a man in a smiley doctor costume waves gigantic foam hands to an electronic beat, Guillermo Ocampo waits patiently in line to buy his prostate cancer medicine.

The bargain basement pharmacy in downtown Mexico City, Farmacias Similares, charges $17 for two weeks’ worth of the generic drug bicalutamide.

Around the corner, the patented original of the same medication sells for $83 under the brand name Casodex. That’s more than the 51-year-old security guard earns in a week.

“This medicine stops the cancer from growing and that keeps me alive,” says Ocampo, who like many Mexicans has no health insurance. “I simply couldn’t afford to pay for the patented version. I don’t know what I would do.”

Ocampo is not alone. Generic drugs have boomed in Latin America, where millions of poorer patients now rely on them to stop killer diseases and alleviate debilitating symptoms.

Just in Mexico, generics accounted for 84 percent of the medicine market last year, according to the government. That has saved the poorest Mexicans a total of $1.3 billion over the last four years.


Cuba Has a Lung Cancer Vaccine—And America Wants It

Author: Neel V. Patel
Date of Publication: 05.11.15.

Time of Publication: 10:00 am.

Cuba Has a Lung Cancer Vaccine—And America Wants It

Cuba has for several years had a promising therapeutic vaccine against lung cancer. The 55-year trade embargo led by the US made sure that Cuba was mostly where it stayed. Until—maybe—now.

The Obama administration has, of course, been trying to normalize relations with the island nation. And last month, during New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s visit to Havana, Roswell Park Cancer Institute finalized an agreement with Cuba’s Center for Molecular Immunology to develop a lung cancer vaccine and begin clinical trials in the US. Essentially, US researchers will bring the Cimavax vaccine stateside and get on track for approval by the Food and Drug Administration.

“The chance to evaluate a vaccine like this is a very exciting prospect,” says Candace Johnson, CEO of Roswell Park. She’s excited, most likely, because research on the vaccine so far shows that it has low toxicity, and it’s relatively cheap to produce and store. The Center for Molecular Immunology will give Roswell Park all of the documentation (how it’s produced, toxicity data, results from past trials) for an FDA drug application; Johnson says she hopes to get approval for testing Cimavax within six to eight months, and to start clinical trials in a year.

How did Cuba end up with a cutting edge immuno-oncology drug? Though the country is justly famous for cigars, rum, and baseball, it also has some of the best and most inventive biotech and medical research in the world. That’s especially notable for a country where the average worker earns $20 a month. Cuba spends a fraction of the money the US does on healthcare per individual; yet the average Cuban has a life expectancy on par with the average American. “They’ve had to do more with less,” says Johnson, “so they’ve had to be even more innovative with how they approach things. For over 40 years, they have had a preeminent immunology community.”


Liquid mercury under Mexican pyramid points to elusive royal tombs

Liquid mercury under Mexican pyramid points to elusive royal tombs

May 8, 2015 
By david alire garcia

Above: A composite image showing the tunnel that archaeologists believe may lead to royal tombs underneath the Quetzalcoatl temple in the ancient city of Teotihuacan, Mexico. Image: Reuters

A Mexican archaeologist hunting for a royal tomb in a deep, dark tunnel beneath a towering pre-Aztec pyramid has made a discovery that may have brought him a step closer: liquid mercury.

In the bowels of Teotihuacan, a mysterious ancient city that was once the largest in the Americas, Sergio Gomez this month found “large quantities” of the silvery metal in a chamber at the end of a sacred tunnel sealed for nearly 1,800 years.

“It’s something that completely surprised us,” says Gomez at the entrance to the tunnel below Teotihuacan’s Pyramid of the Plumed Serpent, about 50km northeast of Mexico City.

Some archeologists believe the toxic element could herald what would be the first ruler’s tomb ever found in Teotihuacan, a contemporary of several ancient Maya cities, but so shrouded in mystery that its inhabitants still have no name.


Boliva's low-cost silent solar car

Boliva's low-cost silent solar car

9:59pm IST - 01:48

- video at link -

Bolivia's first solar-powered vehicle is turning heads on the streets of El Alto - and the quiet car's designers are driving costs down too.

A new-look set of wheels on the streets of one of Bolivia's highest cities, El Alto. Powered by the sun's rays, what it lacks in speed, it makes up for in efficiency. This is the Public University of Alto's Alt-Kaltari solar car. Its eight solar panels provide enough energy to propel it to speeds of up 70 km per hour. Student Ivan Lopez is one of the developers. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING STUDENT, IVAN LOPEZ, SAYING: "The most special feature of this project is that we capture solar energy and store it in a lithium battery that has a lot of power, it reaches 72 volts. The power that is generated through the battery continues to feed off the solar panels. This means that by using the sun's light we can store energy continuously." The student team put their car on the road for an impressive 15,000 dollars. Team member Fernando Valeria says they brought costs down by testing the design virtually before investing in expensive materials . (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ENGINEERING STUDENT, FERNANDO VALERIA, SAYING "We designed it beforehand, we did virtual tests and if it didn't work we changed the design." And unlike El Alto's other autos, the Alt-Katari glides through the streets in silence. Willy Aricagua takes the wheel of the futuristic car. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ENGINEERING STUDENT AT PUBLIC UNIVERSITY OF EL ALTO, WILLY ARICAGUA, SAYING: "It's equipped with a brushless motor that allows the car to function in silence - it's small and for this reason it's not noisy. It's not like the gas or fuel motors that work with pistons and combustion." The Alt-Katari is Bolivia's first solar powered vehicle. With 20 km already on the clock, its developers hope this is just the beginning of a long road trip.


Trade Wars: Monsanto’s Return to Vietnam

Weekend Edition May 8-10, 2015

The Push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, “Liberation Day” Celebrations, and New Initiatives in the Struggle Over the Toxic Legacy of Agent Orange

Trade Wars: Monsanto’s Return to Vietnam


Ho Chi Minh City.

This past week, as activists gathered in Washington, D.C. for the conference on “Vietnam: the Power of Protest,” in Viet Nam’s Ho Chi Minh City, a delegation led by Veterans for Peace (VFP) Chapter 160 was quietly wrapping up a two week tour. The tour was timed to coincide the VFP’s national “Full Disclosure Campaign”. The VFP initiative, like the D.C.-based conference over the weekend, is geared to counter a Department of Defense (DOD) campaign, funded by the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), to produce commemorative events and historical accounts, including school curriculum, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.

Set against the backdrop of the Obama administration’s push for fast track authority to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), this year’s VFP 160 tour raised troubling questions not only about the ongoing effects of the war on Viet Nam, but about Monsanto’s introduction of genetically modified (GMO) seeds onto the Vietnamese market. The text of the TPP, which would be the largest trade deal in history, impacting 40% of the world’s economy, remains shrouded in secrecy. But leaked passages indicate that the TPP will heighten the growing income inequality in both Viet Nam and the United States and override local and national laws and policies geared toward protecting the environment and public health. Monsanto, one of the single largest producers of the estimated 20 million gallons of Agent Orange sprayed in Viet Nam between 1961 and 1971, is among the corporations that stand to garner windfall profits if the TPP is passed.

Widespread contamination from the dioxin-laced defoliant Agent Orange (AO), and a landscape littered with unexploded ordinance (UXO)—including landmines and cluster bombs—are among the legacies of what’s known in Viet Nam as the “American War.” One of many troubling aspects of the Pentagon’s 50th anniversary campaign is its Orwellian spin on a high tech war that bathed Vietnamese jungles and waterways in toxic defoliants in one of the largest, most reckless scientific experiments in human history. Among five objectives outlined in the NDAA is the mandate that the DOD history celebrate “advances in technology, science and medicine related to military research conducted during the Vietnam War”.

The leaders of the VFP tour, including Chapter 160 President Suel Jones, Vice President Chuck Searcy, Don Blackburn, Chuck Palazzo, and David Clark, all served in the American War in Viet Nam and each returned, drawn by their memories of the war and their desire to help support Vietnamese NGOs working to address the suffering engendered by the war. With the leadership VFP Chapter 160 ranging from their late sixties to early seventies, the vets anticipate that, at best, they’ll have another five years to lead the tours, their primary fundraising vehicle to cover their limited administrative expenses and provide support for their partner organizations.


Catfish filmed climbing cave wall in Ecuador

3:40am May 5, 2015

Catfish filmed climbing cave wall in Ecuador

- video at link -

Scientists have filmed a catfish performing the seemingly impossible feat of scaling the wall of a cave to lick food from its roof.

The scientists were trying to document the different types of wildlife in the cave complex, in Ecuador, when they were stunned to see several catfish trying to climb up a near vertical flowstone waterfall.

The scientists identified the fish as a species of armoured catfish called Loricariidae, BBC News reports.

The fish feed mainly on algae using their sucker-shaped mouths, which they use to cling onto rocks and trees in fast-flowing water.

According to a paper published in Subterranean Biology, this is the first time scientists have observed this species of fish climbing up a cave wall.

Read more at http://www.9news.com.au/world/2015/05/05/03/40/catfish-filmed-climbing-cave-walls-in-ecuador#C76qxLs7ILVKLMbv.99

Honduras Blocks Human Rights Defender from Joining UN Review

Honduras Blocks Human Rights Defender from Joining UN Review
Published 10 May 2015 (22 hours 42 minutes ago)

Honduras systematically limits abilities of human rights defenders to expose widespread human rights violations in the country.

Honduran authorities have blocked a human rights defender from participating in a U.N. review of the state of human rights in Honduras taking place this weekend in Geneva, Switzerland, according to the Honduras-based Association of Judges for Democracy (AJD).

Honduran judge and president of the AJD Board Mario Rolando Diaz planned to join a delegation to Geneva for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the U.N. mechanism that reviews all member states' human rights compliance, but was denied a leave of absence by Honduran judicial authorities days before his scheduled departure.

Honduran authorities' refusal to grant Diaz leave to participate in the review is a direct violation of the recommendations Honduras agreed to as a result of the 2011 EPU, according to the AJD. One of some 100 recommendations adopted from the last EPU was that Honduras must allow “full participation of civil society in the follow-up activities of this (2011) review,” with which Honduras has failed to comply by blocking Diaz's travel.


(Short article, no more at link.)

About 280 U.S. Marines headed to Central America

Source: Miami Herald

About 280 U.S. Marines headed to Central America
By Carol Rosenberg, Miami Herald
Tribune News Service
© May 10, 2015

About 280 U.S. Marines will be sent to Central America any day now.

The operation has no code name, but it’s the fruit of about a year’s planning by the U.S. Southern Command to insert a newly formed expeditionary outfit into the U.S.-run part of Soto Cano air base in Honduras for about 200 days, the longest, largest known Marine deployment on Central American turf in years. About 90 of the Marines will go to Guatemala, El Salvador and Belize.

Details so far are scarce about what the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-South will do exactly. It sounds like it will train friendly forces and be in a position to pivot to high-profile disaster relief efforts. Spokesmen say the Marines will not do double-duty in the drug war.

On April 30, the deputy Southern Command commander, Army Lt. Gen. Kenneth Tovo, testified before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee that the special unit’s ground element will be doing regional training — maritime and river operations, marksmanship and small-unit training. It has an air wing and logistics unit that will be “working with our partners to repair schools and other facilities.”

Read more: http://hamptonroads.com/2015/05/about-280-us-marines-headed-central-america

12,000 Colombian Business People Probed for Death Squad Funding

12,000 Colombian Business People Probed for Death Squad Funding

Published 10 May 2015 (4 hours 14 minutes ago)

A Colombian court issued a ruling that called on the financiers of paramilitary groups to face justice.

As part of its 646 page ruling concerning former paramilitaries, the Superior Tribunal of Justice and Peace in Medellin, Colombia said that the financiers of their operations must also be prosecuted, Colombian newspaper El Tiempo reported Saturday.

The Colombian Public Prosecutor said that it is investigating 12,000 business people for their alleged involvement in paramilitary activity in the country. "The paramilitaries operated with the aim of exercising territorial control at any cost, violently imposing a new social order, and defending private property by fire and sword, with the support of the military and ranchers," read the ruling.

. . .

In its ruling the tribunal also made mention of illegal activities by some landowners that went beyond merely the collaboration or financing of paramilitary groups, who are widely recognized as being responsible for the majority of atrocities committed during the last 20 years of Colombia’s civil war.


First stone circle for over a century is discovered on Dartmoor

First stone circle for over a century is discovered on Dartmoor

By Plymouth Herald | Posted: May 10, 2015

THE first stone circle for more than a century has been discovered on Dartmoor.

The set – at least 4,000 years old – is the highest circle in southern England and the second-largest on Dartmoor.

Thirty-four metres (111 feet) in diameter and at 525 metres (1,722 ft) on the northern part of the moor near Sittaford Tor, the circle would have been “very impressive” and dominated the surrounding landscape, the researchers say.

The circle was discovered in 2007 by independent academic researcher Alan Endacott.

Now geophysical investigations are revealing more about the ancient site.

“It is fantastic, very exciting,” said Andy Crabb, an archaeologist for the national park and Historic England.

“Most of them were pretty well researched by antiquarians and early archaeologist in Victorian times. To be able to investigate one now is really exciting.”

The first radio-carbon testing ever carried out on a Dartmoor circle, analysing the soil beneath stones, shows they fell about 4,000 years ago.


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