Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Doctor admits Israeli pathologists harvested organs without consent

Israel has admitted pathologists harvested organs from dead Palestinians, and others, without the consent of their families – a practice it said ended in the 1990s – it emerged at the weekend.

The admission, by the former head of the country's forensic institute, followed a furious row prompted by a Swedish newspaper reporting that Israel was killing Palestinians in order to use their organs – a charge that Israel denied and called "antisemitic".

The revelation, in a television documentary, is likely to generate anger in the Arab and Muslim world and reinforce sinister stereotypes of Israel and its attitude to Palestinians. Iran's state-run Press TV tonight reported the story, illustrated with photographs of dead or badly injured Palestinians.

Ahmed Tibi, an Israeli Arab MP, said the report incriminated the Israeli army.

The story emerged in an interview with Dr Yehuda Hiss, former head of the Abu Kabir forensic institute near Tel Aviv. The interview was conducted in 2000 by an American academic who released it because of the row between Israel and Sweden over a report in the Stockholm newspaper Aftonbladet.

Channel 2 TV reported that in the 1990s, specialists at Abu Kabir harvested skin, corneas, heart valves and bones from the bodies of Israeli soldiers, Israeli citizens, Palestinians and foreign workers, often without permission from relatives.

The Israeli military confirmed to the programme that the practice took place, but added: "This activity ended a decade ago and does not happen any longer."

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Did America keep mum on 26/11?

Vir Sanghvi, Hindustan Times

Did the Americans have detailed advance information about the 26/11 plot which they did not share with India, only passing on a watered-down warning? And was there an American spy within the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba who kept Washington (or Langley) informed of terror acts planned against India —  even if this information was never handed over to us?

It is certainly beginning to look that way.

When Headley was first arrested, the Americans declared that they had foiled a plot to kill a Danish cartoonist. Then, more details began to trickle out. The terror suspect, we were told, was a US citizen of Pakistani origin. He had some links with the LeT. He had visited India. He may have been part of an advance team for 26/11.

Indian investigators, intrigued by these reports, flew to Washington to meet Headley. They were denied any access to him. They tried to work out if Headley was in fact somebody they themselves had been looking for. They had asked the CIA if it had any information about an American who, their sources had told them, was part of the LeT. They received no real cooperation.

Then, even as the Indian media were obsessing about Headley's friendship with Mahesh Bhatt's son, investigative journalists in America tracked down court papers pertaining to Headley's arrest on drug charges in 1998. These papers showed that Headley had been convicted and sent to jail. But after 9/11, he had been set free and sent to Pakistan to work as an undercover agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

According to US journalists, Headley had been given a new passport in the American name of David Headley (his American mother's maiden name is Headley) rather than his original name of Daood Gilani. He flew around the world, entering and leaving the US at will, avoiding the sort of attention that a convicted drug criminal was certain to attract at US airports.

Further, suggested US journos, the DEA assignment may have been a cover. After 9/11 America was under pressure to infiltrate Pakistan's terror groups and many undercover agents were sent into Pakistan for this purpose.

Upto this point, we had two stories. The first was the version of the US government that it had arrested a terrorist. The second was the version favoured by the US media that this 'terrorist' had actually been sent to Pakistan by the Americans as an undercover agent.

American journos, on the whole, refused to believe that he worked only for the DEA and thought that he was probably in the pay of the CIA. But, many said, Headley had clearly gone rogue, becoming a double agent and owing true loyalty to the LeT.

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U.S. prosecution links drugs to terrorism

The case -- the first of its kind -- portrays northwest Africa as a new danger zone. Three men are accused of being Al Qaeda associates and conspiring to smuggle cocaine.

Reporting from Washington - Three men alleged to be Al Qaeda associates were charged Friday with conspiring to smuggle cocaine through Africa -- the first U.S. prosecution linking the terrorist group directly to drug trafficking.

The three suspects, who were charged in federal court in New York, are believed to be from Mali and were arrested in Ghana during a Drug Enforcement Administration sting. Although U.S. authorities have alleged that Al Qaeda and the Taliban profit from Afghanistan's heroin trade, the case is the first in which suspects linked to Al Qaeda have been charged under severe narco-terrorism laws, federal officials said.

The 18-page complaint describes a convergence of mafias and terrorists in northwest Africa that has caused increasing alarm among European, African and U.S. investigators.

Cocaine traffic has risen sharply in West Africa in recent years. Exploiting states that are weakened by corruption, poverty and violence, Latin American mafias have made the region a hub for moving cocaine across the Atlantic and into the booming drug markets of Europe.

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Copenhagen negotiators bicker and filibuster while the biosphere burns

George Monbiot, Guardian

... Watching this stupid summit via webcam (I wasn't allowed in either), it struck me that the treaty-making system has scarcely changed in 130 years. There's a wider range of faces, fewer handlebar moustaches, frock coats or pickelhaubes, but otherwise, when the world's governments try to decide how to carve up the atmosphere, they might have been attending the conference of Berlin in 1884. It's as if democratisation and the flowering of civil society, advocacy and self-determination had never happened. Governments, whether elected or not, without reference to their own citizens let alone those of other nations, assert their right to draw lines across the global commons and decide who gets what. This is a scramble for the atmosphere comparable in style and intent to the scramble for Africa.

At no point has the injustice at the heart of multilateralism been addressed or even acknowledged: the interests of states and the interests of the world's people are not the same. Often they are diametrically opposed. In this case, most rich and rapidly developing states have sought through these talks to seize as great a chunk of the atmosphere for themselves as they can – to grab bigger rights to pollute than their competitors. The process couldn't have been better designed to produce the wrong results.

[ ... ]

Goodbye Africa, goodbye south Asia; goodbye glaciers and sea ice, coral reefs and rainforest. It was nice knowing you. Not that we really cared. The governments which moved so swiftly to save the banks have bickered and filibustered while the biosphere burns.

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Musical Innerlube: Midnite





Former CDC head lands vaccine job at Merck

From Reuters

Dr. Julie Gerberding, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was named president of Merck & Co Inc's vaccine division, the company said on Monday.

Gerberding, who led the CDC from 2002 to 2009 and stepped down when President Barack Obama took office, will head up the company's $5 billion global vaccine business that includes shots to prevent chickenpox, cervical cancer and pneumonia.

She had led CDC from one crisis to another, including the investigation into the anthrax attacks that killed five people in 2001, the H5N1 avian influenza, the global outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, and various outbreaks of food poisoning.

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