Economist 7/29/14

  1. There are more than 2m registered drug users in China (up from about 70,000 in 1989) but the head of China’s drugs control bureau says the actual figure is more like 10m. Heroin remains the most popular narcotic, accounting for 60% of registered users, but its take-up by new users is declining. Instead, people are opting for synthetically manufactured drugs, such as K, ecstasy and methamphetamine (“meth”). In 2005 nearly 7% of new registered addicts used synthetic drugs, according to China’s National Narcotics Control Commission. By 2013 that had risen to 40%.Meth is especially addictive. It is also easily manufactured. It has become the scourge of China’s anti-drug departments and of neighbouring countries. In 2012 Chinese authorities seized 102m methamphetamine pills, more than double the haul in 2009.Hundreds of laboratories clustered around Chinese ports fulfil the orders for “legal highs” from dealers in America and Europe. Global courier services ship the orders. China also produces many of the chemicals used in banned drugs. 
  2. GRUBHUB, an online restaurant-delivery-service, says it has seen a big increase in the number of orders it receives from hotel guests. This, reports Skift, has coincided with a 9.5% drop in the revenue hotels made from room service between 2007 and 2012.The best way for hotels to fight back, you might think, would be to offer more reasonable prices for room service.According to Christopher Nassetta, the boss of Hilton, it doesn’t even cover its costs when it sells such eye-poppingly expensive salty snacks. The reason? Because too few people own up to eating them when they check out.
  3. On July 21st Frans Timmermans, the Dutch foreign minister, vowed that his country will not rest until justice is served for the 298 civilians (over half of them Dutch) killed on board flight MH17, the Malaysia Airlines flight which was shot down over eastern Ukraine. One of the few things most legal experts agree on is that there are some 13 different jurisdictions under which both a criminal and a civil prosecution might fall. This includes the legal systems of the 11 nationalities of the victims (including the carrier country, Malaysia), along with Ukrainian law and international law.Two potential links to the Russian state will need to be examined: whether those who committed the attack were either Russian forces or under Russian direction or control, and whether or not Russia supplied the weapons which brought down the plane.
  4. On July 28th the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague demonstrated that its triumphs may come at a price: the court ruled that the 2003 prosecution of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the dismantling of his Yukos oil company was in violation of international law. It awarded former Yukos shareholders $50 billion, roughly half what they asked for, but still the largest such compensation package in history.Russia plans to appeal. But it has shaky legal ground to do so. The best it can try to argue is that it is not a party to the Energy Charter Treaty, under which the court made its ruling, but that is unlikely to yield much.With $175 billion in state reserves, Russia has enough cash to pay, yet it is a sizeable sum all the same. The Russian business daily RBK calculated that $50 billion was equal to 13% of state budget revenue for 2014.
  5. Last year China’s mortality rate for children under five years old was just one-fifth the rate it was in 1991, down from 61 deaths per 1,000 live births to 12. The maternal mortality rate has also dropped substantially—by 71%—since 1991. In 1992, one in ten Chinese children under five contracted hepatitis B. Today fewer than one in 100 of them carry the disease.China was one of ten countries to have made exceptional progress in reducing infant and maternal mortality.China’s improvement lies in two basic, connected areas: better care at birth and countrywide immunisation. Since 2000 the government has offered subsidies to mothers who give birth in hospitals, thereby reducing health dangers from complications—especially the risk of neonatal tetanus.From 2001 to 2007, the share of births that took place in hospitals rose by 46%, making it easier to give a hepatitis B vaccine immediately. China now has one of the highest usage rates of the birth dose of the vaccine in the world: 96% of Chinese babies receive it on their first day of life. China and the WHO claim that about 95% of children are vaccinated for measles, rubella and polio.

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