Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Maggie Fox:

Swine flu update

WHO has given up on trying to keep any kind of precise count on swine flu, which is just about everywhere now. It's fairly mild but hardly anyone has any immunity, so it will infect far more people than seasonal flu does in an average year. That may mean more serious cases and more deaths than usual, just by virtue of sheer numbers.

It is affecting lots of kids but there are some clear guidelines for health care workers to protect themselves and their families.

Lots of companies are working on vaccines, which likely will not be ready for most countries  until the middle of October.  In the meantime, most patients do not need any treatment at all. People with diabetes, asthma, pregnant women and children who seem to have trouble breathing need prompt treatment, however, and the good news is the antiviral drugs still work well.

Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez, the world’s most violent city?

Photo
-

By Julian CardonaCiudad Juarez, a Mexican town on the U.S. border where daylight murders and beheaded bodies have become the norm, could be the world’s most violent city.

With 130 murders for every 100,000 residents per year on average last year, the city of 1.6 million people is more violent than the Venezuelan capital Caracas, the U.S. city of New Orleans and Colombia’s Medellin. That is according to a study by the Mexican non-profit Citizen Council for Public Security and Justice, which presented its report to Mexico’s security minister at a conference this week.

The fight between rival drug cartels over Ciudad Juarez’s local drug market and smuggling routes into the United States broke out at the start of last year and continues to intensify.Reliable global crime statistics are hard to pin down and a study last year by Foreign Policy Magazine placed Caracas as the world’s top murder capital, also with 130 murders per 100,000 residents. (The Mexican study disputes that and puts the Caracas figure at 96).But Ciudad Juarez’s rising murder rate, currently at about 250 per month, appears to put it well ahead of other notorious world crime capitals such as South Africa’s Cape Town, Moscow, Baghdad, and Papua New Guinea’s capital Port Moresby, according to the Mexican and Foreign Policy studies.In fact, in Ciudad Juarez during the first day of the conference where the Mexican study was presented, eight people were murdered in the city’s streets, including a prosecutor, a lawyer, two policewomen, a clown performer and a gardener.Ciudad Juarez, a manufacturing city across from El Paso, Texas, already has a stained history with the unsolved murders of hundreds of young women in the 1990s.Perhaps most worryingly is not that 10,000 troops and elite police stationed there have failed to stop the drug violence, but that local officials say they have everything under control.Ciudad Juarez Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz says the city’s fight against drug violence is “a successful process that the world can learn from.” Chihuahua state Governor Jose Reyes Baez, who has long bemoaned the media focus on drug violence in Ciudad Juarez, says that troops can gradually leave as newly-trained police take over. The army denies any scaling back in its deployment.

Cancer and healthcare

-

The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network says one in  four families affected by cancer claims to have put off or delay care in the last year because of cost. Nearly third of cancer patients in current treatment cut pills or skipped doses, in the past year, nearly one-quarter delayed a recommended cancer screening or treatment and 1 out of 5 did not fill a prescription.

Today we met a 38-year-old small business owner whose premiums went up and up as she got treatment for her second bout of breast cancer. Finally, her insurance company pulled the plug entirely — yes that is legal when someone has individual coverage — and she must now pay for all her followup care herself. She gave her members of  Congress an earful…

When the going got tough, this school nurse got creative

-

When her tiny office at a prestigious private school in Queens started to fill up with sick and scared students, nurse Mary Pappas took a deep breath and got inventive.  Check out how her on-the-fly responses might help others trying to cope with the swine flu pandemic:

http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUSTRE5687PY20090709

Meantime keep an eye out for WHO recommendations for vaccinations on Monday:

http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUSTRE5692D420090710

 

We’ll let you know what the likely outcomes are.

http://www.reuters.com/article/asiaCrisis/idUSN10528404

And could obesity be a risk factor for severe swine flu infection? Keep an eye out on our HEALTH coverage page

Best reads of February

Photo
-

Exotic animals trapped in net of Mexican drug trade - From the live snakes that smugglers stuff with packets of cocaine to the white tigers drug lords keep as exotic pets, rare animals are being increasingly sucked into Mexico’s deadly narcotics trade.

End of an era for the Amazon’s turbulent priests - They avoid taking buses, make sure friends know their schedules, and rarely go out when it’s dark. For the three foreign-born Roman Catholic bishops under death threat in Brazil’s northeastern state of Para, speaking out against social ills that plague this often-lawless area at the Amazon River’s mouth has come at a price.

Drugs fuel turmoil in West Africa

Photo
-

“Nino” Vieira’s past as an old soldier was never far from the surface. It can have surprised few in Guinea-Bissau that the old coup maker’s death came at the hands of troops who turned against him in a country perpetually on the edge of failure because of military squabbles driven by centuries-old ethnic rivalries and the newer influence of drug smuggling cartels.

Covering the campaign for Guinea-Bissau’s first multiparty election in 1994, I found President Joao Bernardo Vieira far from being the most talkative of politicians. Sometimes actions said more. After one campaign stop, and in view of attendant dignitaries, Nino grabbed a military aide by the ear after he had caused offence and twisted it until he squealed in pain.

Colombia – a model for U.S. dealings wtih Afghanistan?

Photo
-

After more than seven years of U.S.-financed fumigation and eradication, Colombia is still producing at least 600 tonnes of cocaine a year. The U.N. estimated this month that coca leaf used to produce the drug covered 27 percent more land in 2007 than a year earlier. Violence from Colombia’s guerrilla war may have fallen sharply thanks to Washington’s funds, but the success of the anti-narcotics portion of the U.S. program is far less clear.

Now U.S. officials are touting their lessons in dealing with Colombian guerrillas as a possible model for fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan and the poppy harvests and opium that help fuel that conflict.  Can the U.S. really claim success against Colombia’s coca trade and what if anything from Colombia can be applied to Afghanistan’s war?

Drugs and guns in Guinea-Bissau

Photo
-

  

Members of Guinea-Bissau’s unruly armed forces have blotted the military’s record again with another attack against the country’s political institutions. Early on Sunday, Nov. 23, renegade soldiers, their faces hooded, sprayed the Bissau residence of President Joao Bernardo “Nino” Vieira with machine-gun and rocket-propelled grenade fire. The president survived unhurt this latest apparent attempt to topple him.

 

But The attack underlined the fragility of the small, cashew nut-exporting West African nation, one of the poorest in the world and a former Portuguese colony which has suffered a history of bloody coups, mutinies and uprisings since it won independence in 1974 after a bush war led by Amilcar Cabral. The assault followed parliamentary elections on Nov. 16 which donors were hoping would restore stability and put in place a new government capable of resisting the serious threat posed by powerful Latin American cocaine-trafficking cartels who use Guinea-Bissau as a staging post to smuggle drugs to Europe.

  •