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California Blaze, Gandhi Dynasty Toppled, Highest Minimum Wage

Wilfires still rage in California's San Diego County
Wilfires still rage in California's San Diego County

Friday, May 16, 2014

In its monthly report on the Ukrainian crisis, the United Nations warned of an “alarming deterioration” in eastern regions of the country, the BBC reports. The organization denounces violent attacks on “peaceful demonstrations, primarily by supporters of Ukraine's unity,” adding that local police forces did nothing to prevent those attacks or sided with pro-Russian militants. The reaction from Moscow came promptly, with the Russian Foreign Ministry accusing the UN of “double standards” and of “carrying out a political order to whitewash” the actions of the Kiev government.

“India has won,” Indian opposition leader and prime minister candidate Narendra Modi tweeted today after it became clear his party won a landslide victory against the ruling Indian National Congress party. The INC, led by the Gandhi family, looks to have registered their worst-ever performance in the country’s general election, The Indian Express reports.
For more about the reasons behind the collapse of the Congress party and the toppling of the Gandhi dynasty, we offer this
Le Monde/Worldcrunch piece, Why India's Gandhi Dynasty May Be About To Crumble.

San Diego County, California, has been battling an unprecedented number of wildfires over the past three days, and possible arson is being investigated. See our Snapshot here.

Eighteen workers are still missing and believed to be trapped in Soma, Turkey three days after a fire caused a mine to collapse, killing at least 284 people, Hurriyet quoted Energy Minister Taner Yildiz as saying. According to the BBC, 122 miners were injured in the incident and 363 managed to escape safely. The mine’s operator denied any negligence, although it admitted that there was no refuge chamber in the mine, which could have saved lives. “Legally, we don't have an obligation to build a refuge chamber. But we would have completed it in three-four months if this accident hadn’t happened," the company’s chief said. More controversy is piling up on Prime Minister Erdogan after he was accused of having slapped a protester during his visit to the site.

Switzerland could soon boast the world’s highest minimum wage, as the country is scheduled to vote Sunday on a referendum that would guarantee workers a minimum $25 an hour.

The Chinese and Vietnamese commerce ministers will meet later today to discuss ongoing anti-Chinese riots, which Beijing says left at least two Chinese people dead and more than 100 injured, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, China’s state-run newspaper Global Times reportedly wrote that a “forced war would convince some countries of China’s sincerely peaceful intentions,” as protesters also demonstrated in the Philippine capital of Manila. A Chinese official, however, said that Beijing would continue drilling for oil in disputed waters of the South China Sea.


Thousands of anti-World Cup protesters gathered in Brazil’s main cities yesterday, clashing with police in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo just 27 days before the competition’s kick-off, O Globoreports. In São Paulo, where about 1,200 people were demonstrating, eight were arrested after a small group attacked shops and bank branches and threw stones at police officers, who replied with tear-gas, Folha de São Paulo reports.

As Le Monde’s Alain Salles writes, European politicians have been hailing an economic uptick in the troubled Greek economy, but Greeks themselves have yet to see any real signs of rebound. “In the streets of Athens, this so-called success story doesn’t seem to be trickling down to the people,” the journalist writes. “The unemployment rate is slightly decreasing, but a staggering 26.5% of the workforce and 57% of young people are still unemployed. A quarter of residents are excluded from public health care, and poverty affects 23.7% of the total population.
Read the full article,
The Myth Of The Greek Recovery.

Israel has launched financial sanctions against Palestinian banks, preventing them from making deposits in shekels, the Israeli currency, in its banks in response to the collapse of peace talks, Haaretzreports. This comes after the Palestinian territories of East Jerusalem and the West Bank were hit by power cuts, following a decision from the state-owned Israel Electric Corporation to cut electricity supplies by half twice a day. The newspaper explains, however, that Israeli settlements are unaffected because they were provided with generators.

Some people aren’t scared of pulling crazy stunts. Check out this expand=1] incredible video of paragliding pilot Dave Edwards around New Zealand’s Mount Maunganui.

If Zeppelin ripped off “Stairway to Heaven,” Businessweek just destroyed your teenage memories.

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As COVID Explodes, An Inside Look At China's Gray Market Of Generic Drugs

COVID infections have skyrocketed since China eased restrictions as public health policy has not been able to keep up. Unable to find medications, many have turned to generic drugs of questionable safety. It's the culmination of a longstanding problem.

Photo of a pharmarcist walking past shelves with medication in Yucheng, northern China

A pharmacy in Yucheng, northern China

Xian Zhu and Feiyu Xiang

BEIJING — When her grandfather joined the millions of infected Chinese, Chen quickly decided to buy COVID-19 drugs to limit the effects of the virus. She woke up early to shop on Jingdong, one of China’s biggest online shopping websites, but failed in snatching the limited daily stocks made available.

Fearing COVID's effect on her grandfather, who suffers from dementia, she contacted an independent drug agent and bought a box of generic pharmaceuticals.

With China having suddenly ended its zero-COVID policy, infections have peaked. According to the latest estimates by Airfinity, a British medical information and analysis company, severe COVID outbreaks happened over Chinese New Year with 62 million infections forecast for the second half of January.

In a press conference held by China's State Council on Jan. 11, COVID-19 pills were mentioned as part of the new epidemic control mechanisms. In late 2021, Pfizer developed Paxlovid, the world's first potent COVID drug, with one 100 mg white ritonavir and two 150 mg light pink nirmatrelvir tablets taken every 12 hours. China imported the first batch of Paxlovid for clinical use in March 2022 and included it in the ninth edition of the treatment protocol.

But the first 21,200 boxes of Paxlovid were dispersed to only eight provinces, and no further information is available on where the drug ended up and how much it was used.

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