Chinese Economy — The world’s largest money manager BlackRock forecasts that China‘s economy will improve after the country’s decennial leadership change, notes Bloomberg. Experts said Beijing’s economic policies will become clearer once the leadership transition allows China’s new leaders to focus on domestic consumption to drive growth. Vice President Xi Jinping is expected to succeed President Hu Jintao as the leader of the ruling Communist Party next month.
Burma-Japan Ties — The New York Times examines Burma’s growing ties with Japan, as the Southeast Asian country tries to diversify away from China. Chinese interest in Burma’s natural resources is heightening anti-China sentiment and prompting a pivot toward Japan, which is trying to tap into the cheap Burmese labor force and expand its network of factories in Southeast Asia. As a result, according to the Times, “Japan is rapidly ramping up its presence in the country with a heavyweight deployment of government assistance and corporate heft reminiscent of the large investments at the height of Japan’s global economic power in the 1980s.”
Mental Health — A new report suggests that the burden of mental illness and addiction is more than 1.5 times that of all cancers, reports CBC News. The report by the Institute for Clinical and Evaluative Sciences and Public Health Ontario notes that many mental illnesses manifest between the ages of 18-24 and “people may experience them over a long period with significant impact on social connections, educational goals, and participation in the workforce.” Depression, among all conditions, has the highest overall burden, said the report’s authors.
Armstrong Drug Report — Lance Armstrong won the first of his seven Tour de France titles in 1999 by using the prohibited blood boosting agent EPO and a steroid hormone testosterone, according to new information published by the New York Times. The most damning report yet was released on Wednesday by the United States Anti Doping Agency (USADA), which also found that five fellow riders on the United States Postal Service team testified to Armstrong having violated the anti doping rules. The report has described the cyclist’s squad as running “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen” writes the Guardian. Armstrong’s lawyers have attacked the report calling it a “taxpayer-funded witch hunt.”
‘Gay Propaganda’ Battle – The Ukrainian government may give final approval next week to a bill which prohibits any “pro-homosexual propaganda” or “positive depiction” of gay people, reports the BBC. Ukraine has previously been recognized as a more liberal society, considering that it was the first former Soviet Republic to decriminalize homosexuality in 1991. But the current bill has full support of all the major political parties and polls show that many Ukrainians are in favor of restricting the rights of the gay community. The bill, which has been re-named the “gay gag law,” has been condemned by human rights organizations inside and outside the country.
Meth Deluge – Mexican produced methamphetamine now accounts for 80% of the drug sold in the United States, writes the Associated Press. The U.S. market is being flooded by the drug which is developed in factory like ‘superlabs.’ Mexican cartels are producing this inexpensive, addictive drug and sending it through the same channels used for marijuana and cocaine. The quantity of meth seized on the Southwest U.S. border has jumped from 4,000 pounds in 2007 to more than 16,000 pounds in 2011.