Must-Reads from Around the World

On deck for Thursday: Russians participate in risky clinical trials to receive medical care, a Filipino priest will be investigated for possible links to elephant ivory smuggling, news from the UN General Assembly and U.K. Flooding

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Mikhail Voskresensky/Reuters

Clinical Trials —  Russians are eager to participate in clinical trials because it’s often the only way for them to receive modern medical care, the New York Times reports. In 2010, the Kremlin passed a law that requires foreign drug companies to test drugs on Russians before marketing the products in the country and the Putin administration is now welcoming jobs and high-tech investment associated with clinical trials. “Testing in Russia,” according to the Times, “is a net benefit to public health, pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into diagnostic work and doctor care that would not have been here otherwise.”

Filipino Ivory Trade — Catholic priest Monsignor Cristobal Garcia in the Philippines will be investigated for possible links to the illegal elephant ivory trade after he was quoted in the October issue of the National Geographic magazine on how to smuggle ivory statues, notes the BBC. In the article, Garcia tells the reporter the best way to smuggle an ivory statue into the U.S. is to “wrap it in old, stinky underwear, and pour ketchup on it.” Elephant ivory is widely used in the Southeast Asian nation for religious artefacts and in 2005 and 2009, according to the BBC, Filipino authorities seized thousands of kilos of smuggled ivory.
Climate Change Fears — A new report, according to Bloomberg, said that climate change and pollution resulting from carbon-dioxide emissions are reducing the global gross domestic product by 1.6%, roughly $1.2 trillion, a year. The Climate Vulnerability Monitor says if global warming continues unchecked, rising temperatures could reduce the world’s GDP by 3.2% a year by 2030. Experts say “a warming planet will have a disproportionate effect on developing countries, especially low-income states such as Bangladesh that have high population density and fewer natural resources,” Bloomberg reported.

U.N. General Assembly – Colombia, Mexico and Guatemala have called for a reassessment of the U.S. led “war on drugs” reports Reuters. Speaking at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, they announced they would welcome changes in policy given the escalating levels of violence throughout Latin America. “It is our duty to determine – on an objective scientific basis – if we are doing the best we can or if there are better options to combat this scourge,” Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said. President Santos and Mexican President Felipe Calderon have previously mentioned that they may be open to the legalization of certain narcotics if it could improve the situation. Meanwhile Mali’s Prime Minister, Cheick Modibo Diarra, has called for the U.N. Security Council to approve a foreign intervention of his country. “There is an urgency to act to end the suffering of the people of Mali and to prevent a similar situation that would be even more complicated in the Sahel and the rest of the world,” he said. Diarra’s announcement came in response to French President François Hollande’s call for the council to approve African military intervention, said Aljazeera.
U.K. Flooding – After four days of rain, the severe flooding which has affected many parts of the U.K. has begun to subside. While thousands of people across the country are faced with another day of flooding, weather forecasters predicted that the worst of the weather is over. Thursday’s flood warnings follow the most intense storm in 30 years, reports the BBC. More than 400 homes, from Wales to Northumberland, face months of temporary accommodation as a clear-up begins to deal with the effects of almost twice the month’s average rain falling in 48 hours, said the Guardian. Road and rail networks are still struggling to return their services to normal following the bad weather.