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Geopolitics

Typhoon Hagupit, Syria Accuses Israel, Nuts On A Plane

Residents in Manila take shelter from Typhoon Hagupit.
Residents in Manila take shelter from Typhoon Hagupit.
Worldcrunch

Monday, December 8, 2014

ISRAEL ACCUSED OF BOMBING SYRIA
Syria has officially asked the United Nations to impose sanctions on Israel after accusing the Israeli military of bombing the international airport in Damascus and another target in the countryside near the Syrian capital. “This direct aggression by Israel was carried out to help the terrorists” after recent defeats, the Syrian army said in a statement. Israeli officials did not directly comment on the attacks, but Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz reiterated that the country has “a firm policy of preventing all possible transfers of sophisticated weapons to terrorist organizations.” According to both the AFP and The Washington Post, the statement was a reference to Lebanon’s Hezbollah, an arch enemy of Israel and allied to Assad in the Syrian war. One of the targets was reportedly an arms depot, but Hezbollah sources said it did not belong to them.

FAILED HOSTAGE RESCUE IN YEMEN
American journalist Luke Somers and South African teacher Pierre Korkie, both hostages in Yemen, were killed by an al-Qaeda-affiliated group on Saturday after a failed U.S. operation to rescue the Somers. The operation went wrong when the Navy SEALs lost their “element of surprise” less than 100 yards from their target, The Wall Street Journal reports. But in a tragic development, it emerged later that the South African teacher was just hours away from being released, in return for a $200,000 ransom, something U.S. officials said they had not known. Korkie’s widow Yolande, who had been captured with her husband but released in January, said in a statement that she had chosen to “forgive” and “love.” “Even though the pain is overwhelming us right now, we choose to believe that this too shall pass,” AFP quoted her as saying.

SNAPSHOT
At least 27 people were killed on the eastern island of Samar in the Philippines, as Typhoon Hagupit registered maximum gusts up to 170 kilometers per hour (105 mph).

UKRAINE FIGHTING CONTINUE AHEAD OF CEASEFIRE TALKS
Ukraine officials say that at least eight civilians and two soldiers had been killed in recent fights with pro-Russian rebels, just hours ahead of the planned start of a “Day of Silence” on Tuesday, AFP reports. A meeting will take place tomorrow in Minsk where representatives of both sides will discuss a schedule for the implementation of a ceasefire deal agreed in September.

In an interview for newspaperDie Welt am Sonntag, German Chancellor Angela Merkel accused Moscow of interfering in the affairs of former Soviet countries seeking closer ties with the EU, namely Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. Commenting on the “collective European response” and sanctions against Russia, Merkel said she was convinced this was the “right answer.”

Writing in The Washington Post, two fellows from the Brookings Institution warn that the West’s response to the crisis risked escalating the situation further and call on NATO leaders to “work with Moscow to create a new European security order acceptable to both sides.”

GUANTANAMO PRISONERS TRANSFERRED TO URUGUAY
Six prisoners held at Guantanamo were transferred to Uruguay over the weekend, the largest single transfer of detainees out of the Cuba-based prison, The Los Angeles Times reports. U.S. President Barack Obama has repeatedly vowed he would close the facility, yet 136 prisoners remain held there, with 67 of them approved for transfer.

MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD


BODY OF MISSING MEXICAN STUDENT FOUND
Investigators in Mexico have managed to identify the charred remains of one of the 43 students who went missing in late September, a finding that suggests the trainee teachers were incinerated at a garbage dump, Reuters quoted Attorney General Jesus Murillo as saying. The announcement came after new protests in Mexico City on Saturday where parents vowed to continue to look for their sons and daughters. “If these murderers think that with a DNA match of one of our boys, we are going to stop and cry, we want to tell them that they have been mistaken,” a spokesman for the students’ parents said. Read more from CNN.

NEW DELHI BANS UBER AFTER RAPE ALLEGATIONS
The local government in Delhi announced today it had banned, effective immediately, the use of upstart private car-service company Uber after one of its drivers was accused of beating and raping a 27-year-old woman, The Indian Express reports. The San Francisco-based company has come under intense criticism over how it recruits drivers, and reportedly failed to run a simple background check on the driver, who had previously been jailed for seven months in another rape case.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
What is it like to be the parent of a teenager who has confessed to rape and murder? In southern France, the parents of a notorious killer describe what was almost a normal family life. “The monster’s parents live in a small house at the end of a narrow road in this southern French town. For three years, they had avoided the media, with their lawyers telling journalists over and over again: ‘Out of respect for the victims, his parents don’t wish to speak publicly.’ Then on Oct. 13, this reporter received an email out of the blue. ‘I am Matthieu’s father …’”
Read the full article, from Le Monde/Worldcrunch, My Son Has Committed Unspeakable Crimes.

FAREWELL
Ralph Baer, the German-American inventor of the world’s first video game console, has died at age 92.

AIRLINE CHAIRMAN’S DAUGHTER GOES NUTS IN PLANE
It’s never easy being a flight attendant, but some passengers are tougher than others. On Friday, the daughter of Korean Air’s CEO ordered a plane that was about to take off back to the gate to remove one of the flight attendants. Why? The crew member had the nerve to serve the special first-class passenger macadamia nuts in a paper bag instead of a dish.

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Coronavirus

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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