Six months chaos: The first semester of Trump’s Presidency

Six months chaos: The first semester of Trump’s Presidency

Jul 19, 2017

Donald Trump’s first six months in the White House have been a riot of scandal, chaos and outrage that — absent a major course correction — could spell doom for his entire administration. All US presidents face crises that seem to sweep the White House from its moorings. Abraham Lincoln struggled through a bloody Civil War. Bill Clinton was humiliated by muck-raking investigations. Barack Obama took five months to plug a devastating oil spill and even longer to right the economy. But few presidents have caused such outrage or faced such a multitude of crises as Donald Trump has in his first six months. “To be consumed by scandal from day one is not good, no major legislation is not good, to have approval ratings that are so low and the potential for Republican defections, all of this is not what you expect,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history at Princeton University. Trump swaggered into office on January 20 declaring Washington was broke and only a killer businessman such as himself could fix it. That promise looks increasingly threadbare. The White House remains understaffed, under-skilled and struggling to attract new talent. Existing staff there admit to being exhausted and demoralized. Trump’s political agenda has been blown to smithereens: The border “wall” has not been built, NAFTA has not been torn up, the Iran deal is still in place and Obamacare remains the law of the land. Even with Republicans in control of both houses of Congress, the influential and nominally supportive Drudge Report declared this the “MOST UNPRODUCTIVE CONGRESS IN 164 YEARS.” PICKING FIGHTS Oratorically, Trump has continued where his campaign left off, picking fights with the press, judges, his own party, Democrats and FBI director James Comey, whom he fired. All the while, a drip, drip of evidence has amplified allegations that his family and aides sought help from Russia to tip the election against Hillary Clinton. There have been bright spots. The Islamic State group has been virtually defeated in Mosul and in Raqa, the capital of the so-called caliphate, is besieged. Trump has fulfilled his promise to scrap a trans-pacific trade deal, and successfully appointed conservative judge Neil Gorsuch to...

Venezuela: Two opposing ballots, two adverse points of view

Venezuela: Two opposing ballots, two adverse points of view

Jul 16, 2017

The opposition to Nicolas Maduro and the so called “Chavismo” are two factions that have Venezuela on the brink of civil war and this Sunday they are going through a real hard test which is the two probe processes to find out what the Venezuelans think about Maduro, which might provoke violent reactions between two utterly opposed points of view. Venezuela situation is real hard, much has been said about Maduro but the USA are more concerned in economic blockade to weaken Maduro, than the real welfare of the Venezuelans, the main target is Maduro and throwing him down. Opposition and Maduro supporters face each other voting in two different ballots, one is called “survey” by the opposition and the other one, advocated by the “Chavistas”, is an alleged “drill” for the upcoming elections which will take place in two weeks. Venezuela Defense Minister, Vladimir Padrino, informed that the Constituent Assembly election drill, while opposition is leading a popular survey to inquire if they support the process are developing in calm but with a few violent...

Liu Xiaobo dies at 61: China says awarding Nobel Peace Prize was ‘blasphemy’

Liu Xiaobo dies at 61: China says awarding Nobel Peace Prize was ‘blasphemy’

Jul 14, 2017

Beijing — China said on Friday that awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to pro-democracy activist Liu Xiaobo amounted to “blasphemy” and lodged protests with several countries, including the US, for making “irresponsible statements” on the death of the prominent dissident. Liu, China’s best-known human rights prisoner, died on Thursday at age 61 following a battle with liver cancer. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate who spent his last eight years as a prisoner of conscience died at a hospital in Shenyang, China. He was granted medical parole in June after receiving his diagnosis in prison, but China did not let him seek treatment abroad despite Liu’s wishes and international pressure. File image of Liu Xiaobo. CNN-News18 Liu’s death led to international criticism of China’s handling of the issue. The leader of the Norwegian Nobel committee Berit Reiss-Andersen said the Chinese government bore a “heavy responsibility” for Liu’s death. Answering a barrage of questions on Friday over the death of Liu, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China had lodged protests with “certain countries” for interfering in its “judicial sovereignty”. “Liu is a prisoner who was sentenced to imprisonment in accordance with Chinese law…Conferring the prize to such a person goes against the purposes of this award. It’s a blasphemy of the peace prize,” Geng said, referring to the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Liu in 2010. “China is a rule of law country and everyone is equal before law. Anyone who violates the law will be punished and remarks by certain countries constitutes interference in China’s internal affairs. That goes against the spirit of international law,” Geng said at a regular news conference. China has lodged a protest with the US to show its dissatisfaction following remarks from Washington about Liu’s death, he added. Geng specially targeted UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein for his statement that Liu “devoted his life to defending and promoting human rights, peacefully and consistently, and who was jailed for standing up for his beliefs.” The UNHCR chief “should respect the judicial sovereignty of China and not interfering in China’s internal affairs. He should fulfil his duties in objective and fair manner. I can tell you that we also made representation with him...

Around 30% of the planet population have no access to drinking water

Around 30% of the planet population have no access to drinking water

Jul 13, 2017

At least 2 billion 100 million people don’t have drinkable water, and the double of this figure lacks proper sanitation services, according to a study issued by the Health World Organization (HWO) and the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF), and 4 billion 500 million don’t have adequate sanitation services. The main conclusion of the study is that there are too many people with no access to tis services, especially in the rural areas, drinking water, sanitizing and home hygiene mustn’t be privileges for rich people or those living in cities, since they are some of the most basic necessities for human health. All the countries have the responsibility to guarantee the citizens access to those services according to HWO and UNICEF and the report admits that billions of people have gained access to drinking water and sanitizing since the year 2000 but not necessarily supply a safe service since there are many homes, health centers and schools where people have no water or soap to wash their hands. This is a risk for human health especially for little children, who are susceptible to catch diseases such as diarrhea and the outcome is that every year 361 thousand minors (5 years old or less) die from cholera, hepatitis A and...

Money-laundering situation pushes Mexico into dollar transfer business

Money-laundering situation pushes Mexico into dollar transfer business

Jul 12, 2017

Bloomberg reports that Mexico’s government is taking an unusual step to weather a U.S. money-laundering crackdown that threatens to hobble dollar-fueled businesses from Cancun hotels to Tijuana beauty salons: It’s getting into the dollar-transfer business. The country’s central bank will soon unveil an electronic system designed to ease U.S. dollar transfers between Mexican businesses, said Banco de Mexico spokesman Ricardo Medina. The network will let businesses send U.S. currency to each other through a clearinghouse overseen by the central bank and moving through a bank in the U.S., according to a central bank official familiar with the program, who said the system could be introduced as soon as next month. The move addresses a growing problem in Mexico: Several foreign banks have cut ties with Mexican counterparts in recent years. Bankers and officials in Mexico fear further barriers to financial flows between their country, Latin America’s second-largest economy, and the U.S., its biggest trading partner. Large swaths of Mexico’s $1.3 trillion economy rely on the dollar, from manufacturers in border zones such as Ciudad Juarez to travel-industry businesses in spots like Puerto Vallarta. Transferring dollars through the U.S. has become harder, Mexican lenders say, after U.S. regulators and law enforcers cracked down on banks that didn’t flag transfers linked to Mexican drug cartels or other criminals. In recent years, international banks have paid more than $2 billion for lapses including the failure to flag suspicious dollar transactions between the countries. That has led other banks to sever ties pre-emptively — a process euphemistically known as “de-risking.” The illicit drug trade in the U.S. generates $64 billion a year, according to an estimate by the U.S. Treasury Department, which calls Mexico the primary supplier or transit point for some drugs. But illicit-drug revenues pale in comparison with the $531 billion in legitimate trade between the two countries. “Clearly, the U.S. government doesn’t want to drive banks into such de-risking activity that they can’t bank anymore with Mexico,” said Robert McBrien, a former associate director for global targeting at the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. “You don’t want to wipe out that financial flow — you want transparency.” No ‘Silver Bullet’ That’s where the central bank steps in. Banco de Mexico...

COFEPRIS approves prostate cancer treatment developed in Israel

COFEPRIS approves prostate cancer treatment developed in Israel

Jul 12, 2017

Mexico’s COFEPRIS health authority has authorized the use of an early-stage prostate cancer drug and laser therapy developed by the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, (about 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Tel Aviv) in collaboration with Luxembourg’s Steba Biotech. COFEPRIS stands for Comisión Federal para la Protección contra Riesgos Sanitarios(Federal Commission for Protection against Sanitary Risks) and is the authority with competence to control and regulate drug products in Mexico. A successful Phase III clinical trial in Mexico, Peru and Panama of the treatment called TOOKAD Solublem, involved 80 patients. The results confirmed a high rate of local cures and minimal side effects already reported in Phase II trials. Negative biopsies and maintenance of patients’ potency, continence and overall quality of life were evidence of the high success rate. There are not many other successful drugs against early-stage prostate cancer. The approved therapy follows a new paradigm developed by Weizmann Prof. Yoram Salomon of the biological regulation department and Prof. Avigdor Scherz of the plant and environmental sciences department, in the framework of photodynamic therapy. The Israeli-invented drug was first synthesized in Scherz’s lab from bacteriochlorophyll, the photosynthetic pigment of certain aquatic bacteria that draw their energy supply from sunlight. The marketing approval in Mexico follows the recent completion of a second Phase III clinical trial in Europe. This randomized pivot study compared disease progression, the cancer-free rate and urinary and erectile functions in patients including those undergoing active surveillance, with a follow-up of two years. It involved more than 400 patients at 43 hospitals in 11 European countries and is under evaluation by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The therapy involves an intravenous infusion of TOOKAD Soluble, immediately followed by near-infrared laser illumination through thin optic fibers inserted into the cancerous tissue, while doctors control the process by ultrasound. The non-toxic drug remains in the patient’s blood for three or four hours. Confined illumination of the diseased tissue activates the drug, resulting in the extensive generation of short-lived toxic molecules. The highly reactive oxygen and nitric oxide radicals initiate speedy occlusion and destruction of the tumor’s blood vessels, followed by necrotic death of the entire tumor while nearby healthy structures and their functions...