Bolivia’s Drug War — Bolivia’s unconventional approach toward its war on drugs has led to a noticeable drop in coca plantings, notes the New York Times. Unlike other drug-ridden countries in the region, namely Colombia and Mexico, the Bolivian government requires licenses to grow coca, the source of cocaine, and monitors legal coca fields that are intended to produce leaves for traditional uses. In 2011, the total acres of coca fields decreased by 12-13%, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. “Yet the glaring paradox of Bolivia’s monitoring program is that vast amounts of the legally grown coca ultimately wind up in the hands of drug traffickers and are converted into cocaine and other drugs,” writes the Times.
Swiss Gold — The business of refining gold and producing gold bars is thriving in Switzerland, reports the BBC. Four of the world’s largest gold refineries are in the central European nation, which is believed to refine two-thirds of the world’s gold. Switzerland imported more than 2,600 tons of raw gold worth $103 billion in 2011, according to the British broadcaster.
China’s “Music Valley” — Government officials in China are rolling out a plan to invest more than 10 years and $2.3 billion in transforming an area outside of Beijing into China’s Music Valley, which the Guardian reports will consist of “a sprawling compound that will be home to recording studios, instrument makers, music schools, five-star hotels and an arena in the shape of a peach.” Will the investment pay off? It’s tough to say, when issues like piracy and government restrictions could stand in the way.