In 1989, Cuba conducted over 80% of its trade with Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CEMA, or Comecon), but with the relatively abrupt dissolution of the Soviet Union, Cuba was suddenly in a very tough economic position. Over the next years, the country focused on three key economies: sugar, tourism and biotechnology (Google books preview). While the first two seem logical enough, the story of biotech in Cuba, especially Havana at the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB), is getting more attention recently with Cuba's possible therapeutic vaccine against lung cancer. [more inside]
When last we checked in with Toronto mayor Rob Ford, he had just come back from a stint in rehab. The ensuing summer found him apparently clean and sober, although still with an aura of scandal (last weekend he was subpoenaed in an extortion case) and despite great efforts, polls had Ford trailing by more than ten points in the race in August. Earlier this week, things took another shocking turn when he was admitted to hospital with an abdominal tumour. With 2:00 PM today as the deadline for candidates to add or remove their names to or from the ballot, many speculated on how Ford's health concerns would affect the race (the two candidates polling in fourth and fifth bowed out of the race in the last two weeks). This morning, hours before the deadline, Ford announced he was withdrawing his name from the mayoral ballot, but he would be running for city council. He has asked his brother and erstwhile campaign manager, rookie councillor Doug Ford, to run for mayor in his place. [more inside]
Global Trends 2030 Alternate Worlds is the latest quadrennial report from The US National Intelligence Council (NIC). (Report: PDF / Talking Points: PDF.) Similar to its predecessors, '2030' attempts to predict 'alternate visions of the future.' An official blog discusses their speculations. The Atlantic Council has published a "companion publication": "Envisioning 2030: US Strategy for a Post-Western World." [more inside]
"Today is our independence day from Britain. They recognised our independence 92 years ago; today's attack was marking that day" - 12 dead confirmed thus far as a result of suicide attack on British Council building in Kabul.
The greedy ghost of market fundamentalism. Oxfordshire county council is planning to close just under half of all of its libraries, and has invited locals to set up new ones on a voluntary basis. Philip Pullman, ironically criticised for having a profit motive, objects.
Wondering at the route US vs. German unemployment has taken, I found some clues here and there, but the overriding factor seems to be the German model and works councils. [more inside]
50 Aldermen/50 Artists. Chicago gallery Johalla Projects enlisted local artists to meet with the members of the city council and create a portrait of the person they found. "The goal is just to get people involved," says co-curator Jeremy Scheuch. "I think a lot of aldermen were (initially) afraid of what this might be about." More photos here.
Can Detroit be saved? Its future is in their hands . Meet Detroit city council president Monica Conyers, whose children are chauffered to the pricey Cranbrook Schools in suburban Bloomfield Hills daily by on-duty cops, and who recerntly publicly rebuked a white Teamsters official for daring to speak the name of President Obama during a meeting. She also wasn't interested in the estimated 16,000 jobs that would be created by the proposed Cobo Hall expansion because most of those jobs would be filled by people who "don't look like her." [more inside]
"As a great architect once said, 'Buildings should look like what they are'." John Jessop became so frustrated with the red tape required for his company to get permission to build a farm shed, he submitted a sarcastic application . Read his full "Planning Application for Erection of Agricultural Implement Shed" here [pdf, 3 pages]. No word yet on whether the shed was approved. Via.
Don't like the results of legitimate scientific research? Make up your own! Conservatives (including GW) love to quote Paul Cameron of the Family Research Council on the effects of gay parenting. This Boston Globe articles tells what everyone should know about the man and his methodology.
Does India belong on the UN security council? A fascinating analysis of UN politics from a developing country's perspective.