Category Archives: Death Culture

Zombie Apocalypse Not Caused by Virus, CDC Claims

Rudy Eugene, 31, shot and killed after attacking homeless man and eating his face. (PHOTO:Twitter/Diario DiaaDia ‏) | Jun 1, 2012

By Christine Thomasos

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) denies that there is any existence of zombies, despite public speculation stemming from various cases of cannibalism this week.

Last Saturday, a Miami man was shot dead by police after he was seen naked, growling and consuming the flesh of a homeless man’s face. On Sunday, a man in New Jersey reportedly stabbed himself 50 times before throwing his flesh and intestines at police officers. On Tuesday, a Maryland man told authorities that he had eaten the heart and brain of his roommates.

While many have been speculating about the events, “Zombie Apocalypse” became a trending term on search engines this week. Still, the CDC denies that zombies exist.

A zombie, by defition in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is: “A person held to resemble the so-called walking dead.”

When reports surfaced that many of the assailants involved in the recent crimes had consumed human flesh, news outlets began to refer to them as zombies.

“The CDC does not know of a virus or condition that would reanimate the dead (or one that would present zombie-like symptoms),” CDC spokesman David Daigle told The Huffington Post.

However, Gawker reported about a “mysterious rash” in a Hollywood, Fla., school earlier this month along with an unknown chemical that sent five people to the hospital at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. While the HazMat investigation crew was unable to provide conclusive data concerning the two incidents, some believed they were related to zombie activity.

However, Daigle said there are many factors that could cause a “Zombie Apocalypse” outside of exposure to chemicals and viruses.

“Films have included radiation as well as mutations of existing conditions such as prions, mad-cow disease, measles, and rabies,” the CDC spokesman said.

While authorities have stated that 31-year-old Rudy Eugene, known as the “Miami Zombie,” may have eaten the flesh of a homeless man’s face after ingesting a cocktail of drugs called “bath salt,” his friends do not believe this could have been possible.

“It had to be some sort of drug that somebody must have slipped on him, because Rudy wouldn’t so much as pop a Tylenol pill,” Eugene’s friend Bobby Chery told CBS.

The results of toxicology tests have yet to be determined in the cases of the men engaging in zombie-like behavior. Although the CDC has not acknowledged that any of the cases involved actual zombies, the agency still has available a zombie preparedness section on its website that features books and kits.

The section was launched earlier this year as part of a campaign to educate the public about preparedness for certain hazards.

“If you are generally well equipped to deal with a ‘zombie apocalypse’ you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack,” CDC director director Dr. Ali Khan said in a statement on the website.

Is the U.S. covering for additional troops involved in Afghan massacre?

End the Lie | Mar 18, 2012

By Madison Ruppert

Rumors and eyewitness accounts have been circulating since the news first broke of the massacre of Afghan civilians, including women and children, which left 16 dead.

Most of these focus on casting doubt on the American account of a lone wolf gunman acting completely on his own without the involvement of any other soldiers.

However, it is not pure rumor; indeed a probe conducted by the Afghan parliament determined that up to 20 American troops were involved in the killing.

According to Pajhwok Afghan News, the nine-member parliamentary probe spent two days in the southern Kandahar province conducting interviews with the families of the victims, tribal elders, as well as survivors while collecting evidence at the site of the brutal slayings in the Panjwai district.

Hamidzai Lali, a lawmaker representing the Kandahar province at the Wolesi Jirga, told Pajhwok Afghan News, that their probe concluded that there were anywhere between 15 to 20 American soldiers involved in the murders.

“We closely examined the site of the incident, talked to the families who lost their beloved ones, the injured people and tribal elders,” he said.

Lali stated that the attack lasted an entire hour and involved two different groups of American soldiers.

“The villages are one and a half kilometer[s] from the American military base. We are convinced that one soldier cannot kill so many people in two villages within one hour at the same time, and the 16 civilians, most of them children and women, have been killed by the two groups,” he said.

Lali has called for the Afghan government along with the United Nations and the rest of the international community to make sure that those who were responsible for the killings are brought to justice in Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, that looks almost entirely unlikely due to the fact that the soldier allegedly responsible for the killing spree has already been returned to Kansas, far out of the reach of the Afghan government.

Lali expressed anger with the fact that the soldier was flown out of Afghanistan, although at the time of his comments he was in Kuwait, whereas now he is all the way back in the United States.

He issued a somewhat grave warning from the people that they had met with concerning the massacre.

Lali stated that if those troops who were responsible were not punished, they would launch a movement in opposition to the Afghans who had agreed to the presence of foreign soldiers during the first Bonn conference back in 2001.

According to Lali, the Wolesi Jirga – Afghanistan’s “Assembly of the People,” the lower house of the Afghan parliament – will not stop their quest for justice until the killers were prosecuted in Afghanistan.

Of course, the United States is wholly opposed to subjecting American troops to the laws of the countries in which they operate, as this would open many soldiers up to criminal prosecution for their activities.

“If the international community does not play its role in punishing the perpetrators, the Wolesi Jirga would declare foreign troops as occupying forces, like the Russians,” Lali warned.

As I reported last year, polls have shown that the majority of the people in Afghanistan already see the foreign troops as occupying forces, and I bet that if I lived there I would feel exactly the same.

Even as an outsider, I find our sustained presence and the murder of Afghans that comes with it wholly deplorable, unnecessary and unacceptable.

The American military seeks to keep their soldiers as immune as possible when it comes to prosecution in foreign lands, in order to enable brutal activities which are likely illegal under the domestic law of the nations they are operating in.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been making some heated statements and demands, although it now appears that these may be nothing more than an attempt to pacify the rightfully angered people of Afghanistan.

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Afghan Massacre: Is Lewis-McChord really ‘most troubled base in the military’?

McClatchy Newspapers | Mar 18, 2012

by Christian Hill and Adam Ashton

TACOMA, Wash. — Is there something wrong with Joint Base Lewis-McChord?

The question attracted wide media attention last week after a soldier stationed there for the last decade, 38-year-old Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, 38, allegedly killed 16 Afghan civilians, including nine children, in a March 11 rampage. Reports have surfaced that trauma and stress from multiple combat tours, possibly mixed with alcohol, might have sent the married father of two over the edge.

Some connected the massacre to other problems at the base south of Tacoma, Wash.: a record number of suicides, several investigations into the treatment of soldiers diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, a “kill team” convicted of murdering civilians for sport in Afghanistan and a string of other crimes involving present and past soldiers.

They resurrected a label given by the military newspaper Stars and Stripes in 2010: the “most troubled base in the military.”

Gen. David Rodriguez, the head of U.S. Forces Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., called the headlines “unfortunate” and said the entire Army faces challenges sending soldiers on multiple combat deployments.

“There is nothing different here than at most places,” he said. “Again, those things happen. Everybody knows (the rampage) doesn’t reflect our standards and our values.”

Others aren’t so sure that the base should get a free pass. Army veteran Jorge Gonzalez, who runs a Lakewood, Wash., coffee shop that assists soldiers, faulted Lewis-McChord’s leadership and wondered why it “keeps happening over and over here.”

McClatchy Newspapers answered some of the most pressing questions about the base:

Q: Does Lewis-McChord have a problem with soldier suicides and post-traumatic stress disorder?

A: Nobody would say “no.” The base in 2011 had its worst year for soldier suicides. Twelve took their own lives, up from nine in each of the previous two years.

But the increase is in line with an Army-wide trend. Active-duty Army suicides increased from 80 in 2003 to 164 in 2011.

In 2010, 22 soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, took their own lives. Fort Bragg is investigating its unit for injured and wounded soldiers because of a sudden rise in suicides early this year.

The Army has poured resources into halting soldier suicides, providing hotlines, confidential counseling and training for peers to recognize depression in colleagues. Still, the numbers haven’t begun to decline across the service.

“The question you have to ask yourself, and this is the number that no one can prove, what would it have been if we had not focused the efforts that we focused on it?” former Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli said in January.

Lewis-McChord has one of the largest staffs of behavioral health professionals in the Army, with 227 specialists. Still, soldiers fall through the gaps.

Spc. Derrick Kirkland killed himself at Lewis-McChord in March 2010 even though his colleagues in Iraq took pains to send him home because of his suicide attempts while deployed, according to a Tacoma News Tribune report last year. He appeared stable when he spoke to a psychiatrist at Madigan Army Medical Center, an Army investigation showed.

While acknowledging it’s not perfect, Rodriguez expressed confidence in the system used to screen soldiers for brain trauma and PTSD before they deploy.

He acknowledged that the crush of 18,000 soldiers who returned to Lewis-McChord from combat in the summer of 2010 delayed the delivery of some care to soldiers.

Q: Do records show a disproportionate number of crimes committed by Lewis-McChord soldiers?

A: Not if you compare it to the Army-wide rate.

To be sure, the number of crimes involving soldiers assigned to the base is higher than five years ago. There was a 27 percent increase in misdemeanors last year compared to 2010: 4,874 crimes compared to 3,812. There were nine more felonies, 319 to 310, during the same period. The previous high in that five-year period was in 2008, with 4,181 misdemeanors and 413 felonies.

But Lewis-McChord has also added several thousand more soldiers since then.

In 2010, Lewis-McChord’s rate of crimes against both people and property was lower than the Army-wide rate. There were 10.33 crimes for every 1,000 soldiers based at Lewis McChord, compared to the Army-wide rate of 12.81. Lewis-McChord’s property crime rate was 4.82 compared to 5.83 Army-wide.

Base officials says a growth in crime is a natural result of having more soldiers on post.

“We did not see any increase in crime that we do not normally attribute to the increase in population,” Col. Bob Taradash, Lewis-McChord’s top military police officer, said before he deployed in December.

But there’s no question that several high-profile crimes involving past and present soldiers from the base have occurred:

_ Former soldier Brandon Barnes gunned down a national park ranger at Mount Rainier in January.

_ Sgt. David Stewart, a medic assigned to Lewis-McChord, shot and killed his wife and 6-year-old son before turning the gun on himself in April on a freeway in Thurston County.

_ Lt. Col. Robert Underwood was charged last week with allegedly hiring a hit man to kill his wife and his superior officer and threatening to blow up the state capitol. He was assigned to a Lewis-McChord brigade tasked with training National Guard and Army Reserve units. He arrived on base in January.

Q: Are Lewis-McChord’s growth and deployment schedule to blame for its problems?

A: Lewis-McChord is the largest military base on the West Coast, with more than 40,000 active-duty soldiers and airmen. Its active-duty ranks have grown substantially since 2003, and thousands of soldiers have served multiple tours.

The number of troops has grown from 19,000 to 34,000 due to the demands of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Across the whole Army, about 100,000 active-duty soldiers were added to the ranks over the last decade.

The Army has 45 combat brigades, whose soldiers are most susceptible to stress and repeated deployments. Lewis-McChord has three of those brigades, totaling about 12,000 soldiers, all built around the eight-wheeled armored Stryker vehicles.

Rodriguez said the number of soldiers coming and going from Lewis-McChord is similar to other major Army bases.

The most-deployed front-line infantry unit at Lewis-McChord is the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Brigade, the Army’s original Stryker brigade. It is on its fourth tour of at least one year — the same as 14 other brigades across the Army. Bales served with the 3rd Brigade on all of its deployments — three to Iraq and one to Afghanistan.

Dr. Harry Croft, a former Army doctor and psychiatrist who says he’s evaluated more than 7,000 veterans for PTSD, says the rampage is “clearly a wakeup call for the military to take a closer look into the impact on soldiers who serve multiple tours in some of the same regions.”

But Christopher Pawloski, an Army prosecutor who worked at Fort Lewis from 2004 to 2007, before it became a joint base, questioned the idea that multiple deployments lead to violent crime. He pointed out that there were four murder cases during his time at the local base, and three involved soldiers who never deployed or only deployed for a short time.

Barnes, who shot and killed the Mount Rainier ranger and then drowned in a creek, is another case where multiple deployments were not a factor. Barnes did one tour of Iraq and it’s not clear if he saw much combat; he worked as a radio and communications equipment repairman.

Q: Is Lewis-McChord leadership to blame?

A: Suicide and behavioral health problems at Lewis-McChord indicate lapses in leadership, said James Dubik, a retired three-star general who commanded Fort Lewis from 2004-2007 and now works for a think tank, the Institute for the Study of War.

“These are major incidents and they are indicative of some kind of serious problem that exists on (base),” he said.

But he noted that the nation’s military leaders and politicians decided not to grow the nation’s ground forces enough to fight two protracted wars. The nation has asked “too much of too few Americans for too long” and the combat stress resulting from multiple tours is a “natural consequence of having to go to that well too often.”

Pinpointing these problems internally will be difficult because they are complex and distributed throughout the organization, Dubik said. He said the base’s leadership, from junior non-commissioned officers to generals, must come together with elected leaders, health professionals and family members to help Lewis-McChord find gaps and fix mistakes.

“It’s like a thunderstorm,” he said. “You can’t say one thing causes a thunderstorm. A set of things have to come together to create a thunderstorm.”

The base’s leadership is fragmented, however.

Most of its front-line units, including the three Stryker brigades, answer to I Corps, which is set up to command tens of thousands of soldiers in a war. Madigan Army Medical Center reports to Western Regional Medical Command. Green Berets and Rangers get their orders from Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla.

A Lewis-McChord spokesman said the diffuse organizational structure is not different from other major bases.

However, a major change in the last three years is that two successive commanding generals have spent significant time away from the base. Lt. Gen. Charles Jacoby was tapped to oversee U.S. military operations in Iraq in 2009-2010; Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti was given the same assignment in Afghanistan in 2011-12. While Jacoby and Scaparrotti were gone, commanders with fewer stars on their shoulders stayed behind to run the base.

Q: Does the “kill team” case shed any light on problems at Lewis-McChord?

A: In that case, in which four soldiers received prison sentences for staging the deaths of three Afghan noncombatants, all the defendants were deemed fit for combat at Lewis-McChord. The same was true of Bales, who spent his whole career assigned to the base.

In both incidents, the soldiers were stationed in Afghanistan at small bases away from their usual leadership.

The “kill team” defendants belonged to the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, which spent two years preparing to fight in Iraq before learning just seven months before its departure that it would go to Afghanistan instead.

Around the same time, Bales went to Iraq with the 3rd Brigade. Both brigades deployed in 2009-10.

Among the three Lewis-McChord brigades that went to war that year, the 3rd Brigade had the least amount of time at home to recuperate. Its mission planning fluctuated throughout 2011 as the Pentagon prepared for a drawdown of forces in Afghanistan. At a May 2011 training exercise seven months before their next deployment, most 3rd Brigade soldiers weren’t sure whether they’d be on their way to Afghanistan that winter. The order came at the end of August.

Also, the 5th Brigade “kill team” soldiers served in a 30-man platoon that was splintered from its normal 120-man company. They were on a forward base reporting to leaders with whom they didn’t train, and who didn’t know them.

Likewies, Bales was serving at a Special Forces outpost, on a mission apart from the soldiers with whom he’d trained for his deployment.

Afghan Massacre base produced the ‘Kill Team’, a suicide epidemic, spousal abuse, a waterboarded daughter, murders of civilians, sex crimes, and much more

A main gate at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, shown in 2001. The base is one of the most troubled in the military, plagued by killings, suicides and domestic violence. (Lauren McFalls / Associated Press)

Afghanistan shootings are latest trouble linked to Lewis-McChord | Mar 12, 2012

By Kim Murphy and Christi Parsons

Reporting from Seattle and Washington, D.C.— The staff sergeant who turned himself in after the recent shooting deaths of 16 Afghan civilians was based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a sprawling suburban Army facility south of Tacoma, Wash. It’s the biggest military base on the West Coast — and one of the most troubled in the Army.

Lewis-McChord, a major staging area for troops going to and from Iraq and Afghanistan, has been plagued over the last two years by a wave of suicides, killings and domestic violence. It was also the scene of the high-profile courts martial of a “kill team” of soldiers on charges of murdering Afghan civilians in Kandahar province for sport.

A U.S. official told the Los Angeles Times that the serviceman now in custody in the latest shootings is a 38-year-old father of two who has spent 11 years in the Army.

He is a veteran of three tours of duty in Iraq and was on his first deployment to Afghanistan, serving as security for special forces in the Kandahar region.

“The individual was augmenting [special operations forces] personnel and his primary responsibility was force protection at the combat outpost,” a senior defense official said.

Last month, two investigations were launched at the base’s Madigan Healthcare System after more than 200 soldiers had their diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder set aside following cursory forensic psychiatry reviews — boosting longstanding complaints among soldiers and their families that help for war-related mental health problems has been slow and hard to access.

Madigan’s director, Col. Dallas Homas, has been suspended pending the outcome of the inquiries. The probes follow years of complaints from Lewis-McChord soldiers and their families that soldiers are discouraged by their peers from seeking mental health counseling. Many also say that victims of stress often must endure long waits for an appointment for mental health assistance.

A number of soldiers at Lewis-McChord, like the staff sergeant identified in the Kandahar civilian shootings, have deployed three or more times to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Times reported in December that Lewis-McChord, a joint Army and Air Force facility with nearly 60,000 military and civilian staff, has seen 62 soldier suicides since 2002, as many as 12 of them last year.

Combat stress and other emotional problems have been a problem throughout the Army, not just at Lewis-McChord. The Army’s public health command reported last week that suicides among soldiers rose 80% between 2004 and 2008, with about a fourth of those linked to combat experience in Iraq.

Communities around Lewis-McChord and other high-deployment bases have also seen troubling rises in crime, domestic violence and other violent crimes, often committed by soldiers with multiple combat deployments.

Earlier this year, a 24-year-old Iraq war veteran shot and killed a park ranger at Mt. Rainier National Park. In December, a Lewis-McChord soldier was charged with premeditated murder in the late-night stabbing of a 19-year-old woman in a Seattle suburb. The wife of a Lewis-McChord sergeant testified earlier this month that her husband doused her legs in lighter fluid and lit her on fire. Other cases have involved a father accused of waterboarding his child, and a soldier who killed his wife and hid her body in the garage.

The highest-profile case so far involved the so-called “kill team” in Kandahar province. Military prosecutors said it went in search of Afghan civilians to kill, setting up “scenarios” that made it look as though the soldiers had been attacked. The group from 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, led by Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, kept victims’ fingers and other gruesome mementos of the killings.

Testimony in the 2010 case played out in a military courtroom for much of last year, with Gibbs ultimately being sentenced in November to life in prison. Three other soldiers were also sentenced to prison.

GI Voice, a local anti-war veterans support group outside Lewis-McChord that has campaigned for better mental health services, on Sunday called for a congressional investigation into the “multiple crises coming from this rogue base.”

“In 10 years of war, JBLM has produced a Kill Team, suicide epidemic, denials of PTSD treatment, denials of human rights in the brig, spousal abuse and a waterboarded daughter, murders of civilians (including a park ranger), increased sex crimes, substance abuse… and much more,” GI Voice’s executive director, Jorge Gonzalez, an Iraq war veteran from Lewis-McChord, said in the statement.

“These abuses are not because of a few bad apples, but because of the base’s systematic dehumanization of soldiers and civilians, both in occupied countries and at home.

“It’s surprising, but it’s no longer a shock,” Gonzalez added in an interview. “I just keep expecting, what else is going to happen out of this base?”

The group has scheduled a vigil to memorialize the victims of Sunday’s shooting at 6 p.m. outside one of the base’s main gates.

Dutch mobile euthanasia death units to make house calls at no charge

Dutch euthanasia organisation Life-End will be offering its home services free of charge to Dutch citizens. Photograph: Etienne Ansotte/EPA

New scheme called ‘Life End’ will respond to sick people whose own doctors have refused to help them end their lives at home | Mar 1, 2012

by Kate Connolly in Berlin

A controversial system of mobile euthanasia units that will travel around the country to respond to the wishes of sick people who wish to end their lives has been launched in the Netherlands.

The scheme, which started on Thursday , will send teams of specially trained doctors and nurses to the homes of people whose own doctors have refused to carry out patients’ requests to end their lives.

The launch of the so-called Levenseinde, or “Life End”, house-call units – whose services are being offered to Dutch citizens free of charge – coincides with the opening of a clinic of the same name in The Hague, which will take patients with incurable illnesses as well as others who do not want to die at home.

The scheme is an initiative by the Dutch Association for a Voluntary End to Life (NVVE), a 130,000-member euthanasia organisation that is the biggest of its kind in the world.

“From Thursday, the Life End clinic will have mobile teams where people who believe they are eligible for euthanasia can register,” Walburg de Jong, a NVVE spokesman, said.

“If they do comply, the teams will be able to carry out the euthanasia at patients’ homes should their regular doctors be unable or refuse to help them,” he added.

The Netherlands was the first country to legalise euthanasia in 2002 and its legislation on the right to die is considered to be the most liberal in the world.

But doctors cannot be forced to comply with the wishes of patients who request the right to die and many do refuse, which was what prompted NVVE to develop a system to fill the gap.

Sick people or their relatives can submit their applications via telephone or email and if the patient’s request fulfils a number of strict criteria, the team is then dispatched.

Legal guidelines state that the person must be incurably sick, be suffering unbearable pain and have expressed the wish to die voluntarily, clearly and on several occasions.

According to De Jong, the team will make contact with the doctor who has refused to help the patient to die and ask what his or her reasons were.

More often than not, he said, the motivations are religious or ethical, adding that sometimes doctors were simply not well enough informed about the law.

If the team is satisfied that the patient’s motives are genuine, they will contact another doctor with whom they will start the euthanasia process.

“They will first give the patient an injection, which will put them into a deep sleep, then a second injection follows, which will stop their breathing and heart beat,” De Jong said.

Every year 2,300 to 3,100 mercy killings are carried out in the Netherlands, although opponents of the practice claim the figure is much higher because many cases are not registered. The Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) supports euthanasia in principle if there is no alternative, but has distanced itself from the NVVE initiative, arguing that giving it the name Life End will foster the idea that it is for those who it said are simply “weary of life” rather than those who are sick.

It has also questioned whether Life End doctors will have the chance to forge the necessary relationship with a patient to be able to ascertain whether or not his or her life should be ended.

But Jan Kuyper, of the Life End Clinic Foundation, said: “We’re not trying to push any boundaries here.” He said it was quite possible that the mobile teams would not end up carrying out a mercy killing, either due to medical questions about the case or if doubt is cast on the patient’s motives.

Little is known about the Life End teams. But one of the team leaders is believed to be a 67-year-old retired doctor who carried out 20 mercy killings during his medical career.

The teams would be limited to one house visit a week to minimise the psychological burden on them.

In neighbouring Germany, where mercy killings are strictly illegal, euthanasia opponents were particularly vocal in expressing their outrage at the developments. “This is an inhumane proposal,” said the German Hospice Foundation, while the group Life Rights for Everyone called it a “warped understanding of [the meaning of] autonomy”.

Doctors ‘should have the right to KILL unwanted or disabled babies at birth as they are not a real person’ claims former Oxford academic

Dr Minerva argues a young baby is not a real person and so killing it in the first days after birth is little different to aborting it in the womb

Philosopher and medical ethicist Francesca Minerva argues that killing a newborn is little different to aborting it in the womb

Even a healthy baby could have its life snuffed out if the mother decides she can’t afford to look after it, Dr Minerva suggested

Daily Mail | Mar 2, 2012

By Fiona Macrae

Doctors should have the right to kill newborn babies because they are disabled, too expensive or simply unwanted by their mothers, an academic with links to Oxford University has claimed.

Francesca Minerva, a philosopher and medical ethicist, argues a young baby is not a real person and so killing it in the first days after birth is little different to aborting it in the womb.

Even a healthy baby could have its life snuffed out if the mother decides she can’t afford to look after it, the article published by the British Medical Journal group states.

The journal’s editor has defended the piece, saying the publication’s role is to present well-reasoned arguments, rather than promote one particular moral view.

But the article has angered other ethicists, peers and campaigners. They have described the call for legalised infanticide as chilling and an ‘inhumane defence of child destruction’.

The doctor, a research associate at Oxford, has received death threats and hate calls telling her that she will ‘burn in hell’, and she said the last few days since publication have been ‘the worst of my life’.

Writing in the Journal of Medical Ethics, Dr Minerva and co-author Alberto Giubilini, a University of Milan bioethicist, argue that ‘after-birth abortion’ should be permissible in all cases in which abortion is.

They state that like an unborn child, a newborn has yet to develop hopes, goals and dreams and so, while clearly human, is not a person – someone with a moral right to life.

In contrast, parents, siblings and society have aims and plans that could be affected by the arrival of the child and their interests should come first.

The article, After-birth abortion: why should the baby live? first addresses scenarios in which parents are unaware their child is disabled until after it is born.

The piece argues that, though the child may be happy, it will not reach the potential of a normal child.

‘To bring up such children might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole…On these grounds, the fact that a foetus has the potential to become a person who will have an (at least) acceptable life is no reason for prohibiting abortion.’

The ethicists are also in favour of the infanticide of a healthy baby when the woman’s circumstances have changed and she no longer has the time, money or energy to care for it.

They argue that while adoption might be an option, it could cause undue psychological distress to the mother.

As the hate calls came in, Dr Minerva she had not been expecting the overwhelmingly negative reaction.

She said she believes her argument was taken out of its academic and theoretical context, and that ‘I wish I could explain to people it is not a policy – and I’m not suggesting that and I’m not encouraging that’.

She believes the majority of threats have come from religious or Pro-Life groups.

Some of the hate messages told her that she would be punished by God, while others suggested she should ‘burn in hell’.

The article also provoked responses from religious and pro-life groups.

Rev Joanna Jepson, came to public attention when she spoke out against a late abortion that had been carried out in 2001.

Doctors are permitted to carry out abortions beyond the 24-week legal limit if they believe a baby’s disability is serious enough, but Joanna argued that a cleft palate was a minor physical flaw, not a severe abnormality.

She revealed that, until surgery at the age of 19, her own face was disfigured by a congenital defect. Her upper jaw overhung her lower jaw, which receded into her neck, and posed the question: ‘Would it have been right to abort me?’

She said: ‘It’s misleading to call this ‘after birth abortion’. The pregnancy is already over, there is nothing to abort.  What is being discussed is infanticide.

‘There is a logic to their point – if we consider it acceptable to abort a baby up until birth then why not allow it to die afterwards? It is just a difference in geography –  within or outside the mother’s body.

‘Of course, I would see this a compelling reason to abolish late-term abortion, if infanticide is morally repulsive then abortion is too.

‘If a baby, because of it’s physical disabilities, is seen as being “incompatible with life” then we need to let life and death take its course. Becoming agents of death fundamentally changes doctor’s role as healer and physician, and it also has massive repercussions on society’s conscience shifting what is understood to be morally and socially unacceptable to become acceptable.

Of course motherhood is inconvenient, physically, emotionally, psychologically, financially – but this inconvenience is not allowed to become acceptable grounds for abandoning one’s child.

‘If a child or an adult has a life-changing accident or illness, do we suggest we’ll put them down because their goals and dreams now have to change?

‘My brother, Alastair, has great and huge goals and he goes after them with great courage.  His Downs Syndrome does not stand in the way.

‘They are very different dreams and goals to my own but no less valuable or of contribution to society.  At what level would Dr Minerva assign somebody’s meaning and value to be worth a life?

Full Story

‘Killing fields’ victims await Khmer Rouge trial

A tourist takes pictures of human skulls of Cambodian Khmer Rouge victims at Choeung Ek stupa, better known “Killing field” on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011. Some 200 Khmer Rouge victims on Sunday gathered at Choeung Ek for a Buddhist ceremony to dedicate to the souls of the dead before the start of the trial for former Khmer Rouge leaders. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

AP | Nov 20, 2011


PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Three top Khmer Rouge leaders accused of orchestrating Cambodia’s “killing fields” face a court Monday as a U.N.-backed tribunal begins their trials more than three decades after some of the 20th century’s worst atrocities.

Survivors of the regime held a remembrance ceremony outside Phnom Penh on Sunday. Relatives of the victims wept as they chanted and burned incense near a glass case filled with skulls at Choeung Ek Genocide Center, a memorial built in a field where bones still jut out from the ground, remnants of the Khmer Rouge mass executions.

The emotional ceremony was held to allow Cambodians an opportunity to share their concerns and remember loved ones ahead of the trials of three of the Khmer Rouge’s surviving inner circle — all now in their 80s — on charges including crimes against humanity, genocide and torture in connection with the Khmer Rouge’s 1975-79 reign of terror.

An estimated 1.7 million people died of execution, starvation, exhaustion or lack of medical care as a result of the Khmer Rouge’s radical policies, which essentially turned all of Cambodia into a forced labor camp as the movement attempted to create a pure agrarian socialist society. Intellectuals, entrepreneurs and anyone considered were imprisoned, tortured and often executed.

“I want to remind the victims and ask them to push this trial to find justice for those who were killed by the Khmer Rouges regime,” 80-year-old Chum Mey, one of the only two survivors from the notorious S-21 prison, said at Sunday’s ceremony

Tribunal spokesman Huy Vannak called the proceedings beginning Monday “the most important trial in the world” because of the seniority of those involved.

“It sends a message that the trial, which survivors have been waiting more then three decades for, finally begins,” he said.

The defendants are 85-year-old Nuon Chea, the Khmer Rouge’s chief ideologist and the No. 2 leader behind the late Pol Pot; 80-year-old Khieu Samphan, an ex-head of state; and 86-year-old Ieng Sary, the former foreign minister.

A fourth defendant, 79-year-old Ieng Thirith, was ruled unfit to stand trial last week because she has Alzheimer’s disease. She is Ieng Sary’s wife and served as the regime’s minister for social affairs.

The regime’s supreme leader, Pol Pot, died in 1998 in Cambodia’s jungles while a prisoner of his own comrades, who after being toppled from power fought a guerrilla war that did not fully end in the late 1990s .

Pol Pot had led the Khmer Rouge from its clandestine revolutionary origins to open resistance after a 1970 coup installed a pro-American government and dragged Cambodia directly into the maelstrom of the Vietnam War.

After a bloody civil war, the Khmer Rouge guerrillas took power in 1975 and all but sealed off the country to the outside world. It immediately emptied the capital Phnom Penh of almost all its inhabitants, sending them to vast rural communes as part of an effort to turn the country into a socialist utopia. With intellectuals and anyone too closely associated with the previous regime purged, an economic and social disaster ensued.

The failures only fed the group’s paranoia, and imagined traitors said to be working with the U.S., or Vietnam, the country’s traditional enemy, were hunted down, only plunging the country further into chaos. Vietnam, whose border provinces had suffered bloody attacks, sponsored a resistance movement and invaded, ousting the Khmer Rouge from power in 1979 and installing a client government.

More than three decades later, hundreds of thousands of Cambodians still struggle with the trauma inflicted by the regime and the long-delayed hunt for justice.

The U.N.-backed tribunal, which was established in 2006, has tried just one case, convicting Kaing Guek Eav, the former head of the regime’s notorious S-21 prison, last July and sentencing him to 35 years in prison for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other offenses.

That case was seen as much simpler than the current case, which covers a much broader range of activities and because Kaing Guek Eav confessed to his crimes. Those going on trial Monday have steadfastly maintained their innocence. The prison chief was also far lower in the regime’s leadership ranks than the current defendants.

There has been concern that the top Khmer Rouge leaders, all aging and in poor health, could die before a verdict is delivered. The tribunal announced in September that it would try to expedite the proceedings by splitting up the charges.

Huy Vannak said he didn’t know how the trial would last but said the tribunal will take time to examine each accused, civil party and witness to ensure that the trial is fair.

The first part of the trial will consider charges involving the forced movement of people and crimes against humanity, while later proceedings will focus on other charges including genocide.

“I’m so happy and I could not sleep last night when I heard these leaders were to appear before the tribunal,” said 80-year-old Chum Mey, one of only two survivors from the S-21 prison. “We have been waiting for more than 30 years to hear these leaders’ voice saying the true story of their reign that brought death to over a million people.”