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[personal profile] mistersandman

BRUSSELS - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Pakistan on Thursday to ensure wealthy Pakistanis contribute to helping the country overcome the devastation caused by this summer's floods.

Some have estimated that flood recovery will cost tens of billions — a mammoth sum for a country that has relied on international loans. Aid groups have struggled to raise funds for the country because the disaster unfolded relatively slowly and the number killed remained low compared to other major disasters such as the Haiti earthquake.

"It is absolutely unacceptable for those with means in Pakistan not to be doing their fair share to help their own people while taxpayers in Europe, the United States and other contributing countries are all chipping in," Clinton said after meeting with Baroness Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign and security affairs chief.

Saying "the international community can only do so much," she urged the government in Islamabad to "take immediate and substantial action to mobilize its own resources" for the immense task of reconstructing schools, health clinics, bridges, thousands of kilometres of roads and repair new irrigation systems.

Her plea for more action from Islamabad came a day before an international conference is to hear from Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the Pakistani foreign minister, about his government's long-term economic and other reforms.

The "Friends of Democratic Pakistan" meeting in Brussels brings together 26 nations and international institutions. Established in late 2008, it enables Pakistan to regularly brief the international community on its security and economic challenges, which are acute and directly linked to the instability of neighbouring Afghanistan and its own struggles with Islamic insurgents.

Earlier Thursday, Qureshi told the European Parliament in Brussels that economic aid is key "if you want to help us fight extremism."

"When we are stable we will be able to address the issues of poverty. When we are economically stable we will be able to invest in the sectors that have been ignored in the past, like health and education," he said.

To date, the EU and its 27 member states have contributed nearly $450 million toward flood relief and recovery efforts. The EU has also extended trade benefits to Pakistan. The US has provided $388 million in aid so far and another $75 million in logistical and other support.

Donor nations have warned Pakistan that they cannot foot the entire recovery and reconstruction bill, which some have estimated could surpass $40 billion. U.S. officials have urged Pakistan to improve its tax collection to aid its long-term rebuilding.

After meeting with Ashton, Clinton insisted much remains to be done.

"The progress (the EU and the US) have made together toward fostering stability and prosperity in Pakistan is threatened by the catastrophic damage caused by the floods," she said.

Both she and Ashton stressed their commitment to help Pakistan rebuild itself, adding that a stable Pakistan is essential to the fight against terrorism and the security of Americans and Europeans. The U.S. government warned Americans earlier this month of new terror risks in Europe and focus fell on Pakistan, where U.S. drones have struck suspected al-Qaida targets and where Pakistani officials said eight German militants were killed.

The floods began in late July during unusually heavy monsoon rains, eventually covering one-fifth of the country and affecting some 20 million of its 175 million people. Nearly 2,000 people died, while millions were left homeless, according to the United Nations.

Dozens of bridges were washed away, while more than 1.9 million homes were damaged or destroyed. Around 5.9 million acres of farmland were damaged, a severe blow to agriculture, the most important pillar of Pakistan's economy.



This isn't even a question of tax rates.  Many industrialists and landowners use their government positions to avoid paying taxes entirely in Pakistan. 

It's one thing to offer a helping hand after an enormous tragedy.  It's another thing to build a country from the ground up.  Pakistan borders Afghanistan, you would think they'd know better than to trust the United States with something like this.

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[personal profile] mistersandman

WASHINGTON — American scientists deliberately infected prisoners and patients in a mental hospital in Guatemala with syphilis 60 years ago, a recently unearthed experiment that prompted U.S. officials to apologize Friday and declare outrage over "such reprehensible research."

The discovery dredges up past wrongs in the name of science — like the infamous Tuskegee syphilis study in this country that has long dampened minority participation in medical research — and could complicate ongoing studies overseas that depend on cooperation from some of the world's poorest countries to tackle tough-to-treat diseases.

Uncovering it gives "us all a chance to look at this and — even as we are appalled at what was done — to redouble our efforts to make sure something like this could never happen again," said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.

The NIH-funded experiment, which ran from 1946 to 1948, was uncovered by a Wellesley College medical historian. It apparently was conducted to test if penicillin, then relatively new, could prevent some sexually transmitted infections. The study came up with no useful information and was hidden for decades.

Click for full article )

Awful human rights violations in the name of science: Not just for Hitler!

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[personal profile] mistersandman
President Obama has denied that rising violence is making Mexico more and more like Colombia at the height of its drugs war.

The remark is an apparent contradiction to comments made by his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

She said on Wednesday that the drug war in Mexico had begun to resemble the violence in Colombia 20 years ago. But Mr Obama told a US Spanish-language newspaper that there was no comparison between the two.

"Mexico is vast and progressive democracy, with a growing economy, and as a result you cannot compare what is happening in Mexico with what happened in Colombia 20 years ago," he told the Los Angeles-based daily La Opinion.

Mrs Clinton made her remarks after a foreign policy speech at a think tank in Washington.

Drug cartels, she said, were "showing more and more indices of insurgencies".

The traffickers were "in some cases, morphing into or making common cause with what we would consider an insurgency in Mexico and in Central America", she said.

The violence was beginning to resemble Colombia of 20 years ago when insurgent groups controlled some 40% of the country, Mrs Clinton added.

Mexico rejected Mrs Clinton's analogy.

Speaking in Mexico City, a government spokesman said the only aspect that the Mexican and Colombian conflicts share is their root cause - a high demand for drugs in the US.

More than 28,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon deployed the army to fight the cartels in 2006 and violence has spilled over into Central America.



Recent advances in the War on Drugs aside, why would President Obama contradict Hillary Clinton? If drug cartels are indeed linked to insurgency groups, perhaps Obama wants to avoid getting the whole War on Terror thing mixed up in the smorgasbord of issues the United States currently faces with its southern neighbor, immigration being the hot topic of the hour.

As part of the Merida Initiative passed in 2008, Congress allotted 1.6 billion dollars over three years to combat drug trafficking, etc. While this brings up some awkward questions of sovereignty, the fact remains that without America, the drug trade in Mexico (and Columbia for that matter) may never have become an issue.  This poster wonders what effect legal marijuana in the US would have on Mexican drug cartels.


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