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Monday, April 1, 2013

Top Indian Court Throws Out Drug Patent Case

A petition seeking patent protection for Glivec, a leukemia drug by Swiss Drug company Novartis AG, was dismissed today by India’s Highest Court. In 2009, Novartis challenged an Indian law banning patents on drugs that are new but not radically different from current medications. Today’s decision ends what has been a seven year campaign by Novaris to gain protection for Glivec, which several Indian courts have ruled is an insignificantly modified version of a compound that has already been patented. On Sunday, Novartis suggested it would stop importing its products to India over concerns that its drugs would be copied. For years, India had no patent protection at all for drugs, but the government adopted significant protections as part of its entrance to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Today’s decisions may have ramifications for India’s membership in the WTO.

North Korea and South Korea Engage in Further Brinkmanship

While North Korea has withdrawn from the 1953 armistice that brought a close to the Korean Civil War and has begun conducting a series of rocket tests, U.S. White House spokesman Jay Carney said today that the U.S. has seen no indication that North Korea’s military posture has changed to align with its threats. The U.S. and South Korean governments are, however, taking these threats seriously. This morning, South Korean President Park Geun-hye told her defense minister, “If there is any provocation against South Korea and its people, there should be a strong response in initial combat without any political considerations.” Analysts suggest that the current aggressive overtures by the North Korean government are part of a political pattern that has existed since the armistice began. In 2010, the Cheonan, a South Korean warship was sunk by a North Korean submarine. Eight months later, North Korean forces shelled the South Korean island of Yeonpeong. The South Korean government was heavily criticized for its meek retaliation to these events. President Park’s election campaign last year focused on ending the blackmail from North Korea.

Syrian Rebels Gain High Ground in Aleppo

After significant resistance over the past few days, Syrian rebels have entered the strategically important neighborhood of Sheikh Masqoud in Aleppo. Sheikh Masquod is located to the north of Aleppo on a large hill which overlooks the rest of the city. Rebel occupation of this area represents the most substantial movement in the battle for Syria’s largest city to date. Meanwhile, Syrian paper Al-Watan found additional evidence suggesting that Syrian rebels further to the south, in the Daraa province, have recently gained access to Croatian weapons. Though both Croatia and Jordan, the country immediately to the south of the Daraa province, have denied involvement, significant volumes of arms are being supplied to Syrian Rebels.

North Texas District Attorney Slain

A series of attacks have left two prosecutors dead in northern Texas. District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, were shot to death in their home over the past  weekend. This attack occurred less than two months after assistant prosecutor Mark Hasse was gunned down just outside of the Kaufman County courthouse. The killings transpired despite a warning that the Aryan Brotherhood, a white supremacist group, might be preparing to take action against the officials who targeted them in 2012. Authorities suspect these killings may be related to the murder of  Tom Clements, a prison chief, by Evan Spencer Ebel, a member of white supremacist group 211 Crew, in Colorado. Ebel was killed in Texas during a high speed shootout with police two days later.

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