A Charity Takes Medicine Into Its Own Hands

One World Health
Here’s a great story about a non-profit organization called OneWorld Health, which is trying to be the first non-profit pharmaceutical company.

Apparently, promising drugs are identified but not being developed because the drugs aren’t expected to make much money. OneWorld Health has identified one such situation in particular involving a disease called black fever, which inflicts several third world areas in the world. A potential cure was identified decades ago but never developed because it didn’t have the “market potential”. Here is where One World Health wants to step in:

A small charity based in San Francisco has conducted the medical trials needed to prove that the drug is safe and effective. Now it is on the verge of getting final approval from the Indian government. A course of treatment with the drug is expected to cost just $10, and experts say it could virtually eliminate the disease.

The article offers some compelling details and also describes the hurdles that One World Health will face in the near term.

Weekend Links- Distribution of $100 Laptop

I only have one link this weekend– The Linux Extremist raises some important questions about the distribution of the $100 laptop. (via digg)

Nigeria is the easiest and most accessible example; they have placed the first order for 1 million of these laptops. However, it’s difficult to see what mechanisms are in place so that the laptops will reach their intended recipients. Nigeria has some of the worst ratings for perceptions of corruption according to Transparency International; they are ranked 152, along with Equatorial Guinea and the Ivory Coast. Furthermore, there is an existing digital culture in Nigeria which has a large, active criminal element.

India Says No To One Laptop Per Child

olpc
The Times of India (via slashdot) reports that India has rejected the idea of OLPC:

“India must not allow itself to be used for experimentation with children in this area,” the ministry has said.

Indian leaders don’t believe that the ROI of such a project would be as good as other projects they can undertake:

It would be impossible to justify an expenditure of this scale on a debatable scheme when public funds continue to be in inadequate supply for well-established needs listed in different policy documents,” the ministry said.

This isn’t good press for OLPC but India is only one country out of many that face a Digital Divide problem.

Weekend Global Warming Links

Wired News has an article about how warmer ocean temperatures are impacting ecosystems in the Pacific.

The failure of last year’s Pacific upwelling killed seabirds from California to British Columbia. Scientists had hoped the change was just a natural temperature fluctuation in what is known as the California Current.

But the return of higher ocean temperatures and scarce food resources this year has scientists wondering whether last year’s erratic weather was not a fluke but the emergence of a troubling trend.

LiveScience reports on thumb sized sea creatures called salps, which are thought to play a key role in transporting greenhouse gases deep into the oceans.

Madin and his colleagues have now estimated that “hotspots” of salps could spell a dead-end for carbon, transporting tons of it daily from the ocean surface to the deep sea and preventing it from re-entering the atmosphere and contributing again to the greenhouse effect and possibly to global warming.

AT&T and Tech Philanthropy

Earlier today, AT&T announced that it would partner with MetroFi to provide free municipal wifi internet access.

AT&T also announced that it will kick off a tech philanthropy campaign.

AT&T has launched a three-year, $100 million program, called AT&T Access All, that aims to provide technology packages–including a new computer, printer and Internet access–to 50,000 low-income families nationwide.

It sounds like the muni wifi piece is part of the Access All program. This is pretty awesome.

Tech Review On Coal- Why aren’t we using better extraction methods?

Coal
Here is a long article from Technology Review about the state of coal as an energy source.

Coal supplies 24 percent of all global energy and 40 percent of all electricity, and it spews more carbon than any other fossil source — kilowatt for kilowatt, twice as much as natural gas. Yet coal is the most abundant fossil fuel, and its use is intensifying.

The article explains that we are not using new ways of extracting coal that have zero emissions.

Massive Flooding In North Korea

The news is reporting that there are massive floods in North Korea.

Two major storms over the past two weeks have drenched the impoverished North with some of its heaviest rains in years, severely damaging crops and raising the possibility of famine in a country that already battles chronic food shortages.

This isn’t good considering that all aid work stops when North Korea starts threatening political stability by test firing missiles.

However, the United Nations World Food Programme has offered to aid the victims, but under certain conditions. Hopefully, a deal gets worked out.