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World Health Organization Calls For Decriminalization of Drug Use 474

An anonymous reader writes: We've known for a while: the War on Drugs isn't working. Scientists, journalists, economists, and politicians have all argued against continuing the expensive and ineffective fight. Now, the World Health Organization has said flat out that nations should work to decriminalize the use of drugs. The recommendations came as part of a report released this month focusing on the prevention and treatment of HIV. "The WHO's unambiguous recommendation is clearly grounded in concerns for public health and human rights. Whilst the call is made in the context of the policy response to HIV specifically, it clearly has broader ramifications, specifically including drug use other than injecting. In the report, the WHO says: 'Countries should work toward developing policies and laws that decriminalize injection and other use of drugs and, thereby, reduce incarceration. ...Countries should ban compulsory treatment for people who use and/or inject drugs." The bottom line is that the criminalization of drug use comes with substantial costs, while providing no substantial benefit.

Rare Sharing of Data Led To Results In Alzheimer's Research 159

jamie passes along a story in the NY Times about how an unprecedented level of openness and data-sharing among scientists involved in the study of Alzheimer's disease has yielded a wealth of new research papers and may become the template for making progress in dealing with other afflictions. Quoting: "The key to the Alzheimer's project was an agreement as ambitious as its goal: not just to raise money, not just to do research on a vast scale, but also to share all the data, making every single finding public immediately, available to anyone with a computer anywhere in the world. No one would own the data. No one could submit patent applications, though private companies would ultimately profit from any drugs or imaging tests developed as a result of the effort. 'It was unbelievable,' said Dr. John Q. Trojanowski, an Alzheimer's researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. 'It's not science the way most of us have practiced it in our careers. But we all realized that we would never get biomarkers unless all of us parked our egos and intellectual-property noses outside the door and agreed that all of our data would be public immediately.'"
The Almighty Buck

Defense Chief Urges Big Cuts In Military Spending 449

Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says the Pentagon is wasting money it will no longer get, and focused on targets as diverse as the large number of generals and admirals, the layers of bureaucracy in the Pentagon, and the cost of military health care. 'The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, opened a gusher of defense spending that nearly doubled the base budget over the last decade,' Gates says. 'Military spending on things large and small can and should expect closer, harsher scrutiny. The gusher has been turned off, and will stay off for a good period of time.' Gates, a Republican who was carried over as Defense Secretary from the Bush administration, has already canceled or trimmed 30 weapons programs with long-term savings predicted at $330 billion, but is now seeking to convert as much as 3% of spending from 'tail' to 'tooth' — military slang for converting spending from support services to combat forces. While this may not seem like a significant savings in the Pentagon's base budget, cuts of any size are certain to run hard against entrenched constituencies. Gates's critique of top-heavy headquarters overseas was underscored by the location of the speech — the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum. President Eisenhower, the supreme allied commander in Europe during World War II, warned the nation of the menacing influence of an emerging 'military-industrial complex' in his farewell address as president in 1960. 'Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals,' said Eisenhower, 'so that security and liberty may prosper together.'"

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