Tuesday, December 31, 2002

The usual problem is that I feel I should distinguish between what comes in from the Japanese press and which therefore has some immediate currency in Japan and what I get from the Web, which has no special relation to any place or time. At least this blogger software addresses the time relation part. Right now I have two kinds of primary Japanese news sources, but the English-language newspapers published in Japan are far more accessible to me than true Japanese media (usually television). My favorite is The Daily Yomiuri, which has the advantage of being tightly linked to the largest Japanese newspaper, but there is still a slant in their sources and priorities. The most obvious aspect is that Japanese TV news generally tends to give lower priority and less coverage to international news.

From the last entry, I mentioned that I wanted to say more about the drug topic, but it's so appalling that I really can't see what to say about it. From memory, there were 143 countries involved in negotiating an agreement to allow the production of certain medicines for use in poor countries. Since those countries are poor and can't afford the regular prices, the core of the agreement was to allow them to produce and sell these life-saving drugs more cheaply. Finally, 142 countries were agreed on the terms and conditions, and the U.S. said "No." This effectively blocks the agreement, and the decision is reported to have come directly from Dick Cheney. I already thought he was an evil fellow, basically serving his own interests first and then the interests of the oil companies. So now we add in the pharmaceutical companies, too. There's no way to squeeze blood from these turnips, so this is not a matter of additional profits. It's just a matter of we Americans (insofar as the Bushies speak for us) don't care a fig about how many of those impoverished non-Americans die from diseases that could be easily cured.

I've been reading various summaries of the last year and predictions of the year just started, but the only adjective that seems to apply is "bleak". Unless you're extremely rich, in which case you can probably afford it, and may even turn some extra profit at public expense.

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As a blogger from before there were blogs, I've concluded what I write is of little interest to the reading public. My current approach is to treat these blogs as notes, with the maturity indicated by the version number. If reader comments show interest, I will probably add some flesh to the skeletons...