Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Boston Globe Missed This Israeli Operation

Which is really surprising seeing as they pick up most everything they put on the wire. I'm going to treat this as a blog post not only because of the censorship, but also because of the one-day wonder quality of the item. Thus there will be no comments or colored highlights to spoil the pristine nature of the piece. 

"Transplant Brokers in Israel Lure Desperate Kidney Patients to Costa Rica

AUG. 17, 2014

RAMAT GAN, Israel — Aside from the six-figure price tag, what was striking was just how easy it was for Ophira Dorin to buy a kidney.

Two years ago, as she faced the dispiriting prospect of spending years on dialysis, Ms. Dorin set out to find an organ broker who could help her bypass Israel’s lengthy transplant wait list. Only 36, she had a promising job at a software company and dreams of building a family. To a woman who raced cars for kicks, it seemed unthinkable that her best days might be tethered to a soul-sapping machine.

For five years, Ms. Dorin had managed her kidney disease by controlling her diet, but it had gradually overrun her resistance. Unable to find a matching donor among family and friends, she faced a daily battle against nausea, exhaustion and depression.

A broker who trades in human organs might seem a difficult thing to find. But Ms. Dorin’s mother began making inquiries around the hospital where she worked, and in short order the family came up with three names: Avigad Sandler, a former insurance agent long suspected of trafficking; Boris Volfman, a young Ukrainian émigré and Sandler protégé; and Yaacov Dayan, a wily businessman with interests in real estate and marketing.

The men were, The New York Times learned during an investigation of the global organ trade, among the central operators in Israel’s irrepressible underground kidney market. For years, they have pocketed enormous sums for arranging overseas transplants for patients who are paired with foreign donors, court filings and government documents show.

The brokers maintain they operate legally and do not directly help clients buy organs. Dodging international condemnation and tightening enforcement, they have nimbly shifted operations across the globe when any one destination closes its doors.

The supply of transplantable organs is estimated by the World Health Organization to meet no more than a tenth of the need. Although there is no reliable data, experts say thousands of patients most likely receive illicit transplants abroad each year. Almost always, the sellers are poor and ill-informed about the medical risks.

The vast marketplace includes the United States, where federal prosecutors in New Jersey won the first conviction for illegal brokering in 2011.

Related Article
A Cultural Resistance in Israel
By KEVIN SACK Religious objections to recovering organs from brain-dead patients, combined with cultural discomfort with living donation, has resulted in a severe kidney shortage in Israel and helps explain the tiny nation’s outsize role in the global organ trade.

But a Times analysis of major trafficking cases since 2000 suggests that Israelis have played a disproportionate role. That is in part because of religious strictures regarding death and desecration that have kept deceased donation rates so low that some patients feel they must turn elsewhere.

“When someone needs an organ transplant, they’ll do everything in their power,” said Meir Broder, a top legal adviser to Israel’s Ministry of Health.

That desperation was evident in the workings of the transplant tourism pipeline that delivered Ms. Dorin and other foreign patients to Costa Rica from 2009 to 2012. Through more than 100 interviews and reviews of scores of documents, The Times traced the network from the barrios of San José, Costa Rica’s gritty capital, to the glass towers of Ramat Gan, a bustling commercial district near Tel Aviv.

The Costa Rican government is not sure how many foreigners received suspicious transplants there. But The Times identified 11 patients — six Israelis, three Greeks and two American residents — who traveled to San José for transplants using kidneys obtained from locals. Two other Israelis who were located brought donors from Israel with them for procedures that most likely would not have been approved in their own country.

The network was built by a cast that included high-rolling Israeli brokers, a prominent Costa Rican nephrologist and middlemen who recruited donors from the driver’s seat of a taxi and the front counter of a pizzeria. In interviews and documents, four Israeli patients or sources close to them identified Mr. Dayan, known as Koby, as their conduit to Costa Rica.

The authorities in Costa Rica have been investigating the operation for more than a year. But it is not clear that the police in either country have linked the transplants to Mr. Dayan or other Israeli brokers. None of the organ recipients contacted by The Times said they had been interviewed.

Ms. Dorin’s path through the organ bazaar was circuitous, taking her to multiple brokers doing business on opposite sides of the world.

The odyssey began when her family was referred to Avigad Sandler, who explained that he was sending clients to Sri Lanka for $200,000 in cash, Ms. Dorin said. Her co-workers staged a fund-raiser, and her parents mortgaged their house to cover the rest.

When Ms. Dorin’s mother went to convert her shekels into dollars, the money-changer told her that his uncle had received a kidney in Sri Lanka for far less. He offered to arrange an introduction.

The uncle’s broker, Boris Volfman, requested $10,000 down and told Ms. Dorin she would have to take the remaining $140,000 to Sri Lanka. He suggested she change her dollars into 500-euro notes to keep the wad thin, she said.

The timing was unfortunate. The next day, the Israel Police arrested Mr. Volfman, along with Mr. Sandler and others, on suspicions of organ trafficking unrelated to Ms. Dorin’s case.

The setback did not last long. When Ms. Dorin mentioned her plight to a client, he told her that his father had received a transplant in Turkey five years before. “Why didn’t you come to me earlier?” he asked.

A meeting was arranged with Mr. Dayan, who explained that a transplant in Costa Rica would cost $175,000, Ms. Dorin said. He was careful not to specify that the package would include a kidney. “But it was understood,” Ms. Dorin recalled, “that the payment was for everything, including the organ.”

She said that some of the money was wired to a hospital in San José, and that she delivered a payment to Dr. Francisco José Mora Palma, the kidney specialist who oversaw her transplant. Dr. Mora then paid the equivalent of $18,500 to an unemployed 37-year-old man for his kidney, according to a confidential Costa Rican court document.

Just hours after Ms. Dorin arrived in San José in June 2012, Dr. Mora met with her and the donor at her hotel. There, she said, they signed affidavits in Spanish, a language she could not read, swearing that money would not change hands.
Continue reading the main story

Ms. Dorin said she had doubts about Mr. Dayan’s assurances that everything was legal, but did not feel she had much choice.

“My situation was critical,” she said. “I didn’t feel very good, and my condition was getting worse. Even if I knew it was illegal, I don’t think I would have done anything different. It’s important to understand that these people, although greedy, do save lives.”

A Growing Market

Because most people can live with only one kidney, that organ accounts for the vast majority of living-donor transplants. Laparoscopy has made the surgery to remove a kidney fairly routine, although it is not risk-free. Living donors account for about 40 percent of the roughly 80,000 kidney transplants performed worldwide each year, according to the W.H.O.

Patients fortunate enough to find a living donor with the right blood type and antigens can avoid the lengthy wait for an organ from a cadaver. Kidneys from living donors are also preferred because they tend to last longer.

Long criminalized across the globe, the organ trade was handed an unequivocal rebuke at a worldwide conference of transplant practitioners in 2008. The group’s manifesto, called the Declaration of Istanbul, asserted that trafficking violated “the principles of equity, justice and respect for human dignity and should be prohibited.”

And yet the prospective market for trafficked kidneys has grown unabated as the gap between supply and demand widens each year.

In the United States, the number of kidney transplants has remained static for a decade at 16,000 to 17,000 a year. During the same period, the waiting list for kidneys from deceased donors has nearly doubled, passing 100,000 this year. The median wait time for an adult is more than four years, and more than 4,000 die waiting each year.

Some physicians and ethicists question the relative morality of allowing thousands to die just because the means of saving them is considered repugnant. A regulated marketplace, they say, could all but eliminate the shortage. It is no accident, they argue, that the only country that allows compensation for donors — Iran — effectively has no waiting list.

Experts list China, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics as hot spots for organ trafficking. But illicit transplants usually go undetected unless there is a surgical mistake or a payment dispute. Prosecutions are thwarted by false affidavits, toothless laws and lack of international cooperation, particularly regarding extradition.

Over the last decade, the authorities have pursued only a handful of cases worldwide. Few have sidelined the brokers, who seem bolder than ever. Some, like Mr. Volfman, who leases office space atop a mirrored skyscraper in Ramat Gan, have moved out of the shadows. They brazenly ply their trade even while under police scrutiny, posting Facebook photos of the luxury cars and five-star hotel rooms they rent on the road.

The Times found that brokers in recent years typically have charged clients $100,000 to $200,000 to cover expenses associated with a transplant. As with other scarce luxuries, pricing can be elastic.

The Brokers

Three of the central operators in Israel’s underground kidney market, which has flourished in a country where deceased organ donation rates are low.

Avigad Sandler: A former insurance agent and Israeli Army officer who was arrested in 2012 on suspicion of organ trafficking.

Boris Volfman: A protégé of Mr. Sandler’s who now runs his own transplant tourism agency, Leshem Shamaim, or “In the Name of Heaven.”

Yaacov Dayan: A businessman, known as Koby, who helped arrange transplants in Costa Rica, according to Israeli clients who acknowledged they hired Mr. Dayan.

In 2012, an 83-year-old Texas car dealer, John W. Wiesner, paid $330,000 to Mr. Sandler to arrange a transplant in Sri Lanka, Israeli court documents show.

In an email that April, Mr. Sandler told Mr. Wiesner he was being charged extra “due to the high risk” posed by his age, which would have disqualified him at most American hospitals. Mr. Wiesner did not have his own donor.

“If the details are acceptable, please wire $40,000 USD to the following bank account,” Mr. Sandler instructed.

Mr. Wiesner’s trip to Sri Lanka was pre-empted by Mr. Sandler’s arrest the next month. The Israel Police found $150,000 of Mr. Wiesner’s money and returned it, according to court filings. He then sued Mr. Sandler and others to recover the rest. The case was settled in March for $66,000, court records show. Mr. Wiesner and his lawyers declined to comment.

Mr. Sandler, 65, a former Israeli Army officer, had come under suspicion back in 2008 when European Union prosecutors investigated a trafficking network in Kosovo. Numerous attempts to contact him through lawyers and relatives were unsuccessful.

Haven in Costa Rica

With its lush rain forests and breathtaking beaches, Costa Rica had been a vacation destination long before the development of its medical tourism industry. But by 2012, about 50,000 visitors were spending $330 million a year on procedures as varied as root canals and tummy tucks, according to the Council for the International Promotion of Costa Rica Medicine. As revenues soared, the transplant trade revealed itself as the seamy underside.

Physicians have a financial incentive to treat foreign patients because of the country’s dual public-private medical system. Specialists like nephrologists and transplant surgeons are required to work at state-run hospitals, where they make perhaps $7,000 a month. But they can earn more by working after hours at private hospitals that cater to patients with means.

There, doctors are paid by the case, so the more transplants they perform, the more they make. One nephrologist in San José, Dr. José Fernando Mangel Morales, said he sometimes doubled his monthly income by handling a single transplant at a private hospital.

Dr. Mora, the chief of nephrology at the state-run Hospital Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia, also had privileges at two private hospitals — Hospital Clínica Bíblica and Hospital La Católica. The Costa Rican authorities believe he had been arranging transplants for foreigners at the hospitals at least since 2009.

The doctor, now 64, was considered a pioneer within the country’s small nephrology community, assisting in more than 550 transplants over a 35-year career. By 2011, the foreign market had become important enough that he appeared in a promotional video.

In the United States, he said in thickly accented English, a kidney transplant might cost $250,000. “Here in Costa Rica,” he said, “it would cost more or less a third part, including the hotel and the ticket for the planes.”

Dr. Mora recruited other doctors with promises of a sweet payday. In 2012, he tried to entice Dr. Clive Montalbert-Smith, a retired surgeon, to perform transplants on Israeli patients at Hospital La Católica. “Diez millones por los dos transplantes, una semana de trabajo,” Dr. Mora texted. Ten million colones (about $18,500 today) for two transplants, one week of work.

“He said it was nothing dishonest,” Dr. Montalbert-Smith said in an interview in San José, “that lawyers had written papers, that they are not paid donors. But if a foreigner comes here and the donor doesn’t know him and says he is an altruistic donor, the chance that it is trafficking is very high. I told him, ‘No thanks.’ It wasn’t easy to refuse.”

Dr. Mora did not respond to repeated requests for an interview, and his lawyer declined to comment.

The Costa Ricans who provided kidneys to foreigners were mainly men who had not finished high school and were either unemployed or held low-income jobs.

Two of the donations were arranged by Dimosthenis Katsigiannis, a Greek immigrant to Costa Rica, according to a search-and-seizure order obtained by The Times. Mr. Katsigiannis, 56, owns the Akropolis pizzeria, which at the time was across from the public hospital where Dr. Mora worked.

According to his lawyer, Mr. Katsigiannis received a call in 2009 from a relative who needed a transplant. He inquired among the doctors who frequented his restaurant and was directed to Dr. Mora. Then he let it be known that he was shopping for a donor.

The 38-year-old man who offered his services for about $5,500 was so satisfied that his older brother sought out a comparable deal, said Mr. Katsigiannis’s lawyer, Jesús Gilberto Corella Quesada. Mr. Corella said that Mr. Katsigiannis received no compensation. The brothers received their payments at the pizzeria, according to the search order.

“Obviously there was some money involved,” Mr. Corella said. “Nobody would donate, except if they were related or a friend, without being paid.” He disputed the brothers’ affidavits vowing that they took no money.

Subsequent sellers were recruited by Maureen Cordero Solano, 33, a police officer who drove a taxi after hours, according to the authorities. Like many who fall into organ brokering, Ms. Cordero had sold her own kidney in 2009 and met Dr. Mora in the process. She received $1,000 from him for each donor she supplied, according to the search order. She could not be reached, and her lawyer would not comment.

Some of the donors were solicited in Ms. Cordero’s cab. “She finds out they have an economic need and tells them there’s a way they can get a good amount of money,” said Jorge Chavarría Guzmán, the chief prosecutor in Costa Rica. “Then she puts them in contact with Dr. Mora.”

The Transplant Broker

Mr. Dayan, now in his late 50s, had been one of Israel’s go-to transplant brokers long before he began directing patients to Costa Rica. A favorite destination had been the Philippines until it banned transplants for foreigners in 2008.

According to a tax-fraud indictment issued in Israel last year, Mr. Dayan and his firm used dummy foreign companies to shield more than $30 million from 1999 to 2007, much of it from transplant brokering. The indictment charges that Mr. Dayan paid associates up to $40,000 for each donor they recruited, often through ads in Russian-language newspapers.

By 2011, he had opened operations in Costa Rica. “He told me he has a contract with Dr. Mora, that he was exclusive with him for Israelis,” said one Israeli who met with Mr. Dayan that year. “He told me he already sent several people and everything was successful.” The Israeli insisted on anonymity for fear of retribution.

Through documents and interviews, The Times traced the transplants for Ms. Dorin and two other Israelis back to Mr. Dayan. One, a 60-year-old retiree, identified Mr. Dayan as his broker in a lawsuit seeking repayment of a loan. A fourth client sued Mr. Dayan after plans for a transplant fell through. That court file includes an email from Mr. Dayan to Dr. Mora, dated Nov. 15, 2011, trying to schedule two transplants.

Mr. Dayan acknowledged during a brief interview in his office that he knew Dr. Mora. But he denied sending patients to Costa Rica. “No chance,” he said with a smile.

Wearing a gray suit and sporting a salt-and-pepper goatee, Mr. Dayan said he had heard from a patient that Dr. Mora was connecting Costa Rican donors with Israeli recipients. “I told Dr. Mora he was making mistakes that he took patients from outside Costa Rica,” Mr. Dayan said.

He declined to explain further. “I haven’t been in the business for a year and a half or two years,” he said. “We help people, but I don’t want to talk about it. I think this is going to make problems for patients.”

A spokesman for the Israel Police declined to comment on whether the agency was pursuing the Costa Rica case.

Although limited in scope, research suggests that patients who go abroad for transplants may bear higher risks of complications and lower rates of survival. In Costa Rica, at least two of the recipients had dangerous outcomes, including an Israeli businessman who underwent a transplant at Hospital La Católica on Nov. 30, 2012.

The procedure, which was overseen by Dr. Mora and Dr. Victor Hugo Monge Monge, a vascular surgeon, left the businessman with impaired kidney function and grotesque abdominal swelling, according to emails among physicians. In extremis, he flew to Los Angeles and checked into Ronald Reagan U.C.L.A. Medical Center, where he was stabilized.

Now 55, the businessman is back working full time. Interviewed in a Tel Aviv cafe on the condition that he not be named, he denied paying for anything other than the airfare and lodging of his donor.

He said he chose not to have the transplant at home because he assumed that “in Israel, they would not believe that this donor came without money.”

Suspicions Arise

The first clue that something was amiss in Costa Rica came in August 2012 when a nurse at the public hospital where Dr. Mora worked learned that its surgical equipment was being used at Hospital La Católica for a transplant.

Then in December 2012, Dr. Gabriel Danovitch, the nephrologist at U.C.L.A. who treated the Israeli businessman, told a Costa Rican doctor about his suspicions of trafficking. The chief prosecutor’s office in Costa Rica was subsequently notified, as were health officials there and in Israel.

Yet, Costa Rica’s investigation did not ramp up until after a bizarre episode on March 18, 2013, when a Costa Rican couple arrived at Ben Gurion Airport, near Tel Aviv.

Rosa, then 20, and Roberto, 26, were from the central highlands, where the lush volcanic hillsides are planted thick with sugar cane and coffee. (The Times is not publishing their last names because they are considered protected witnesses under Costa Rican law.) Neither had been out of the country, nor on a plane, so they were brimming with excitement. “Tomorrow I start a new stage of my life, thank you God for helping me,” Roberto posted on Facebook before leaving. “I hope all will go well. A unique and beautiful trip will happen.”

Instead, the couple caught the attention of the border police after deplaning with one piece of luggage, little money and plans only to meet a stranger at the exit, said Rodrigo X. Carreras Jiménez, the Costa Rican ambassador to Israel.

With Rosa in tears, the Israelis held the couple until they could be deported the next morning. “They finally confessed that they had come here to sell a kidney, of the young lady,” Mr. Carreras said. They also mentioned that Dr. Mora was their handler.

Rosa and Roberto, when contacted in Costa Rica, declined to grant a full interview. During brief exchanges, they said they did not know why they had been sent to Israel when the routine had been for recipients to travel to Costa Rica. “We didn’t know anything about anything,” Rosa said.

What they did know was financial distress. They had borrowed nearly $3,000 from a friend and were having trouble paying it back. Roberto made about $500 a month as a security guard, and Rosa was finishing high school. They had a baby to feed and were living in a tin-roofed shanty beside a fetid stream.

One day, Roberto said, he received a visit from a relative, Ms. Cordero, the taxi driver who recruited donors. She offered a way out. “A lady needs to live, and you need the money,” she said. When medical tests disqualified Roberto, Rosa stepped up.

The scene at the airport only got stranger when a nurse arrived asking to take Rosa’s blood, according to Mr. Carreras. A lawyer also showed up, and along with the nurse was sent away. The lawyer, Lior Lev, said in an interview that a client, whom he would not name, had dispatched him to check on the couple. Court records show that Mr. Lev has represented Mr. Dayan in other matters.

Crestfallen, Rosa and Roberto flew home.

Back in San José, unease about the foreign transplants was starting to bubble, even as new players sought a piece of the business.

Dr. Jorge Cortés Rodríguez, the medical director of Clínica Bíblica, was already nervous about the four transplants performed at his hospital by Dr. Mora’s team when the doctor asked to schedule another one. The prior procedures had been approved by hospital officials who accepted patients’ affidavits at face value.

“When you studied the paperwork, brought by a prestigious doctor with a team behind him,” Dr. Cortés said, “and you saw it was perfect with the legal stamps and the authorizations by the attorneys, you don’t think anything is wrong. But when it happens one time and it happens another time, then you start to get suspicious.”

The Opponents

These people at various points have been involved in attempts to stop organ trafficking in Costa Rica.

Dr. Gabriel Danovitch: A nephrologist at U.C.L.A. who suspected organ trafficking after treating a man who developed serious medical problems from a transplant in Costa Rica.

Dr. Jorge Cortés Rodríguez: The medical director of Hospital Clínica Bíblica in San José who put an end to transplants at his hospital by the medical team that would later be arrested.

Jorge Chavarría Guzmán: The chief prosecutor in Costa Rica who is preparing charges against Dr. Francisco José Mora Palma and four other suspects in the illicit transplant ring.

On April 18, Dr. Cortés informed Dr. Mora that he would not approve the transplant. Dr. Mora took the news calmly. But Dr. Cortés soon received a visit in his office from a muscle-bound man with thick black hair that was shaved in a fade. He introduced himself in Slavic-accented English as Damian Goldstein.

The visitor, whom Dr. Cortés took to be a broker, demanded an explanation for the cancellation. “He started pushing me hard,” Dr. Cortés recalled, “saying that we need to do this for humanitarian reasons, that the patient is in very bad shape.”

The visitor backed down, but the encounter left Dr. Cortés shaken. “He really impressed me that he looked like a bad boy,” he said.

Building a Business

Damian Goldstein is a pseudonym used by a 30-year-old Israeli named Adi Vladlen Lishinski, The Times has determined from documents and interviews.

While in San José, Mr. Lishinski sublet a two-bedroom flat on the 17th floor of the country’s tallest building, where he made daily use of the gym and blared rock ‘n’ roll, according to building staff members. In a photograph posted on his Facebook page, he is seen surveying San José from the balcony, bare-chested and tattooed, sunglasses in place despite foreboding gray skies.

Mr. Lishinski had immigrated to Israel from Ukraine as a child. He began building a modest criminal record as a teenager, and by October 2011, he had jumped bail in a robbery case. He spent time in Sri Lanka and then, according to immigration records, arrived in San José on Oct. 10, 2012.

Shortly after, Mr. Lishinski stopped at a car dealership. The $20,000 he had to spend was not enough to buy the Grand Cherokee that caught his eye. But during several visits, he struck up enough of a relationship with the salesman, Carlos Zúñiga Forero, to reveal what had brought him to San José.

“He said he was making a living selling organs,” Mr. Zúñiga said. “He said it was legal because the people sign some papers.”

Mr. Lishinski explained that he hoped to establish a transplant tourism agency, but needed a local partner to incorporate under Costa Rican law. Flashing $100 bills, he offered Mr. Zúñiga several thousand dollars to sign on.

The salesman declined but referred Mr. Lishinski to a pair of lawyers. One of them, Federico Altamura Arce, co-signed incorporation papers for D & B Medical Treatment Solutions on Nov. 5, 2012, for a $1,000 fee. A notary required identification, and Mr. Lishinski submitted a copy of a passport bearing his real name.

Mr. Lishinski then wanted more — templates for contracts with hospitals and fill-in-the-blank affidavits for donors. But Mr. Altamura soon discovered that his client had been misleading him about the legalities of donation in Israel.

In a meeting, the lawyers told Mr. Lishinski they were no longer comfortable representing him. It did not sit well. Mr. Lishinski demanded to know who they were to question him when the transplants had been approved by Dr. Mora.

“He insulted me at one point and told me, to quote him, that I didn’t have balls because I wouldn’t do the document for him,” Mr. Altamura said. “Said I was a coward. I responded that as an attorney I have the right to choose what risks to take.”

Mr. Lishinski departed Costa Rica in late April 2013, and was arrested in the robbery case when he landed at Ben Gurion, court records show. A judge ordered him to perform community service at a nursing home, and to pay modest fines.

It could not be determined whether Mr. Lishinski arranged any transplants, or was associated with Mr. Dayan. But The Times learned through interviews that Mr. Lishinski is a longtime friend of Boris Volfman. They met as teenagers in a residential program for wayward juveniles in northern Israel, according to a mutual acquaintance.

In March, a reporter reached Mr. Lishinski by telephone and asked to discuss his work. “Have you talked with Mr. Boris?” he replied.

Beyond that, Mr. Lishinski declined to detail his overseas activities. “Actually, I don’t have any involvement in Costa Rica or Sri Lanka,” he said.

Mr. Volfman, however, granted a series of lengthy telephone interviews. While acknowledging that he and Mr. Lishinski had business dealings, he denied that his friend had worked for him in Costa Rica.

“The answer is no, clearly and completely no,” Mr. Volfman said. “He acted by himself without any connection to me.”

Mr. Volfman was otherwise circumspect about their association. “We’re trying to cooperate in a number of fields, trying to do something together,” he said.

Mr. Volfman, 30, personifies the generational evolution of the transplant tourism trade. Two years ago, after his arrest with Mr. Sandler, he set up his own agency. He consulted with lawyers about insulating the firm, put up a website ( and issued news releases in search of markets.

He named his company Leshem Shamaim,or “In the Name of Heaven.”

“It’s God’s work,” Mr. Volfman explained.

Patients like Ms. Dorin said they found the youthful Mr. Volfman to be self-confident, earnest and smoothly reassuring. Photographs on social media depict him with piercing blue eyes, a shag of jet black hair and a distinctive tattoo that drapes his right shoulder. Married with a young son, he owns a condominium overlooking the Mediterranean in Ashdod, south of Tel Aviv.

Mr. Volfman sold his own kidney in Colombia as a young man, according to court records. He said that while working for Mr. Sandler, he accompanied patients to Sri Lanka. But he denied that they dealt in trafficked organs.

In 2007, Mr. Volfman was charged in the abduction of a man who told the police that Mr. Volfman had used him to hack into hospital databases in search of kidney patients. Mr. Volfman pleaded guilty to reduced charges and was sentenced to two months in jail, according to court records.

His name emerged again when European Union prosecutors investigated organ trafficking in Kosovo. That led to Mr. Volfman’s two-week detention in Israel in May 2012.

Four months after leaving jail, Mr. Volfman incorporated Leshem Shamaim. He said the company, with six employees, had handled perhaps 15 transplants in its first 18 months.

In the interviews, conducted in March while Mr. Volfman said he was traveling in Europe, he explained that for about $30,000, the firm would accompany clients abroad and provide contacts, medical testing, transport, lodging and translation.

But Mr. Volfman said patients decided which transplant centers to engage, and paid them directly.

“In our company, we don’t have any contact with the organ,” he said. “All we can do is obligate the client to make sure that this is not something that has to do with organ trafficking. If a person decides to break the law, that’s between that person and the law.”

Regardless, Leshem Shamaim’s aggressive pursuit of new venues has raised red flags on several continents.

In April 2013, one of Mr. Volfman’s employees wrote to the Peruvian Health Ministry to say that Leshem Shamaim would pay $10,000 per transplant if the firm was granted exclusive rights to bring patients to Lima. The ministry’s lawyers concluded in a memo that such an arrangement would violate the country’s antitrafficking laws.

Two months later, the Leshem Shamaim representative emailed a similar solicitation to officials in Singapore. The letter prompted the head of nephrology at National University Hospital to caution her colleagues: “I think they are on the prowl” for commercial transplants.

A Case Takes Shape

On June 18, 2013, Costa Rican police officers raided Hospital Calderón Guardia and made a show of arresting Dr. Mora while he was still dressed in his white lab coat. The Organismo de Investigación Judicial, Costa Rica’s F.B.I., also arrested Ms. Cordero, the taxi driver, and seized medical records from Dr. Mora’s offices.

The doctor was jailed for four months before paying bail of about $180,000. Scheduled to retire soon, he did not return to work.

A close friend, Dr. Manuel Cerdas Calderón, the president of Costa Rica’s nephrology society, visited Dr. Mora in jail. “He said they did the kidney transplants to save lives,” Dr. Cerdas said. “That is the only reason. Dr. Mora has lost many things: money, patients, his position, prestige. He can never come back.”

The records seized from Dr. Mora led the authorities to multiple kidney sellers and prompted the arrests in October of Dr. Monge, the vascular surgeon who transplanted the organs, and of the two urologists who removed them. The suspects declined to comment.

The police also swept into the Akropolis pizzeria and arrested Mr. Katsigiannis. Formal charges against him, Dr. Mora and the three other doctors are expected this month, said Tatiana Vargas Vindas, a spokeswoman for the chief prosecutor. The government will not charge Ms. Cordero because she is cooperating with prosecutors. It will also not pursue those who sold kidneys, Ms. Vargas said. They are considered victims and have been placed in a government protection program.

“Nobody is in good condition — monetary, social or health,” said Henry Madrigal Ledezma, head of the trafficking unit of the Organismo de Investigación Judicial. “Nobody is attending to them, no hospital, no doctor.”

Top officials at Hospital La Católica, where most of the transplants took place, did not respond to requests for comment. Clínica Bíblica said in a statement that it could not have suspected that donors and recipients would arrange transplants based on “false statements and forged agreements.”

The scandal prompted the Costa Rican Legislative Assembly to pass a law in March that toughens the restrictions on trafficking, holds doctors accountable for illicit procedures and establishes a national wait-list system.

In Israel, the State Attorney’s Office declined to discuss the status of the tax-fraud case against Mr. Dayan. There are no formal charges against Mr. Sandler, Mr. Volfman and their associates, but the office continues to investigate with the intention of seeking indictments.

The noose seemed to tighten in April when the Israel Police arrested one of Mr. Volfman’s lieutenants. At a detention hearing, a police superintendent, Meir Arenfeld, said that the primary suspect in the operation — presumably Mr. Volfman — was abroad and “from what we understand, has no intention of coming back.”

He said the police and prosecutors were examining transplants arranged by Leshem Shamaim in Turkey. Late last year, Israeli nephrologists noticed that kidney recipients were returning from Ankara. One of them bore medical records forwarded by a Leshem Shamaim employee.

“It is clear to us that these people sold their bodies for pennies,” Mr. Arenfeld said of the donors. He said that prior arrests had not seemed to deter the brokers, adding, “We see a pattern of behavior that is repeating itself.”

A version of this article appears in print on August 17, 2014, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Kidneys for Sale.


Some have asked what Israel did that made the New York Times so angry, and I think I know why. What was unsurprising to me at this point was the under-covered trial regarding the whole operation. Perhaps it is the increasingly vital Jewish community that resides in Boston and its position as the hub of health care in AmeriKa and beyond.

My printed Globe also missed these:

"Hundreds march in solidarity with Palestinians

Hundreds of protesters marched through the city Monday night to show solidarity with Palestinians in their conflict with Israel. Organized by activist groups, including Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine, the protest condemned the United States’ alleged complicity in the Gaza conflict, and ended outside a Hewlett Packard conference in the Seaport District, where marchers contended that the company profited from contracts with the Israeli government. “It is not our policy to take sides in political disputes between countries or regions,” said an HP spokeswoman. “Instead, we focus on making the best products we can to help improve the lives of people around the world.”

Also seeISIS: Israeli Secret Intelligence Service

Neither the Globe or Times wanted any to do with this, either.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I Missed Monday's Calling

I've been missing a lot of things here lately, and I'm going to be missing more because I'm hardly reading the Globe at all anymore. It has gradually shrunk from the first two sections to one section to stopping at the page where the turn-ins begin to struggling to get to page 3. 

Oh, I notepaper everything that is a "must" read and am outlining them with red ink saying "that's a keeper, I'll get to it." Today it was the ground troops to Iraq soon (needed for the invasion and occupation of Syria) followed by the poverty is declining and the 1% haven't really been making mucho dough that made me stop reading on page A7 and fold the paper back together. 

Maybe it is sweet music to your ears; most of it hits a sour note with me these days. Sorry.

"City used high-tech tracking software at ‘13 Boston Calling; $650,000 spent at Hub event" by Nestor Ramos | Globe Staff   September 08, 2014

The city of Boston spent $650,000 to test surveillance software during last year’s Boston Calling music festival, using the technology to record the crowds of concertgoers without their knowledge.

No similar surveillance at public events — including this past weekend’s Boston Calling festival — is scheduled, a city spokeswoman said. But she acknowledged that future tests of systems with similar capabilities may also be done without notifying those being recorded.

Systems like the one tested by Boston can be used for many purposes, including everything from alerting police to abandoned bags to sorting people by height or skin color.

The city last month acknowledged that it participated in the pilot project at last year’s festivals in May and September, during which IBM demonstrated what the city calls “situational awareness” software. The city denied using the technology’s ability to track individuals based on race or other characteristics.

The surveillance, which the city said used existing security cameras, was revealed when a journalist found documents and video recordings from the project on the Internet. Reports on the surveillance program appeared in the alternative weekly DigBoston last month.

City spokeswoman Kate Norton said the $650,000 bought temporary or limited licenses for the software as well as IBM setup and support.

The city decided against purchasing the software, saying in a statement that its practical value was unclear. But Boston remains interested in similar software despite criticism from privacy advocates.

The goal of the project, which occurred under the previous city administration, was to see whether the software could help with public safety, management of crowds and traffic, and other concerns during large public events, Norton said.

They always tell us the tyranny is for safety's sake!

Situational awareness software analyzes video and provides alerts when something happens. For example, if someone walks into a secure area in view of one of the system’s cameras, the software would raise a red flag. More sophisticated systems can track people in real time as they move through crowds — such as following an unauthorized person in the area — without requiring dozens or even hundreds of human analysts to watch video feeds.

“Race-based searches were not used by the city at any course during this technology demonstration. In fact, the searches were not focused on any individual characteristics of people at all, but rather situations that were deemed a potential threat to public safety [such as] abandoned bags [or] vehicles illegally parked.”

But they could be used for race or anything else!

IBM did not return calls seeking comment about the demonstration, but in an e-mail, company spokeswoman Holli Haswell said neither “face capture . . . nor facial recognition” were used at the event.

But they do have the stuff. 

Is that how they decided to frame the Tsarnaevs? Picked 'em out of the crowd?

Whether facial recognition or other tracking was used in the project is beside the point, said Kade Crockford, director of the Technology for Liberty Project at the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts.

“What really matters is that a private corporation was brought in to conduct a surveillance experiment on thousands of unwitting partygoers,” Crockford said. “This is the opposite of the way a democratic society should function.”


Crockford said the city’s test of the system was only revealed because an IBM employee uploaded the data that DigBoston found to a public server. Citing company policy, IBM did not comment on the data breach.

Otherwise we would still not know about it.

“The city, like many cities, has a bad habit of implementing costly surveillance programs and not informing the public ever,” Crockford said.

Boston remains interested in software with these capabilities, Norton said, though she acknowledged that its implementation raises questions.

“There are a number of challenges presented by using this type of software, including, but not limited to, infrastructure support as well as legal and privacy concerns,” Norton wrote.

Asked whether the city would notify people before future tests, Norton wrote that “it may not necessarily be practical or appropriate to disclose every test or demonstration.”

There are no immediate plans to test similar software at any upcoming events, she wrote.

So they say.

Neil Richards, a Washington University in St. Louis law professor and privacy expert who grew up in Boston, said technology like the software that IBM deployed in Boston has progressed faster than the rules that govern its use.

“We haven’t done this before. We don’t know what the potential benefits of these things are. We also don’t know what the civil rights implications are,” Richards said. He called the clash of priorities — security versus privacy — “a mess on par with building mills in Lowell: It brought us cheap socks, but children were crushed in the machines.”

I don't see the connection there, sorry.

Lawrence Friedman, a lawyer and professor at New England Law in Boston, said the city’s actions do not appear to have broken any laws. The subjects of the surveillance — ostensibly anyone who attended the festivals — were in a public place, where anyone was free to photograph them as they pleased.

“All of the laws in this area, where we’re concerned with the government looking at us, are based on predigital-world technology,” Friedman said, referring to when computer systems capable of tracking every individual in a crowd and storing their images forever were the stuff of science fiction.

As sophisticated surveillance systems become more common, he said, “we’re probably going to see some changes in the law.”

Why not interpret and enforce them first before more censorship ideas are considered in the name of "privacy?"


RelatedAnti-terror technology requires public support 

It's not there since the spying is based on the lying.

Posted by the Hair of My Chinny Chin China

Almost got singed:

"Protests target trash incinerator

BEIJING — Thousands of people took to the streets of a southern Chinese town on Saturday, some clashing with police, to protest a proposed garbage incinerating plant, participants and eyewitnesses said. The demonstration in Guangdong province was the latest to highlight how Chinese have become increasingly wary of the environmental hazards but still lack public forums to voice their concerns (AP)."

Protests? In China?

"Editor, employees at China financial news site face extortion allegations" by Didi Tang | Associated Press   September 05, 2014

BEIJING — Police in Shanghai detained the chief editor and several employees of an influential Chinese financial news site on allegations they extorted money from companies by threatening to publish negative news about them, state media said Thursday.

The case surrounding the website for the 21st Century Business Herald is the latest scandal involving news corruption in China, where extortion schemes have plagued the state-owned media, especially outlets specializing in financial news.

Several weeks ago, financial news managers at state broadcaster China Central Television were placed under police investigation for alleged graft.

Business news in China is especially fertile territory for corruption because many business executives are willing to pay bribes to win a competitive edge and many poorly trained journalists turn to extortion to make extra money, said Tong Bing, a journalism professor at Shanghai-based Fudan University.

Here it is a business and political model with journalists willingly participating in the fraud.

The corruption is enabled by the country’s lack of true press freedom in which one news outlet could expose corruption in another, Tong said.

Sorry I've turned so, so sour on pot-hollering kettle war media, folks. Sorry.

In the latest case, the chief editor and a deputy editor of the website, and executives from two public relations agencies, were among eight people detained by police in China’s financial hub of Shanghai, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The financial news site confirmed in a brief online statement that several of its employees were taken away on Wednesday night in a police investigation but did not give details.

Xinhua said the management of the website colluded with public relations agencies to blackmail renowned companies or those trying to be listed on an exchange by threatening them with negative coverage. The suspects and their companies profited handsomely from the scheme, trading favorable coverage for money or exorbitant advertising contracts, Xinhua said.

The news site said it will cooperate with the investigation. ‘‘We will deal with related matters with a responsible attitude,’’ its statement said.

Chinese newspapers, broadcasters, and other media are all owned by the state or the ruling party. But they must support themselves financially and, so long as they work within official censorship guidelines, most can make their own editorial decisions.

Low-paid journalists routinely accept money from companies to attend events or report on them and sometimes to suppress information about scandals.


RelatedChina to control approval to show foreign TV online

You know what comes with TV?

"China sentences 3 to death, 1 to life in prison for knife attack that killed 31" Washington Post   September 13, 2014

BEIJING — An upsurge in Xinjiang-related violence, which Beijing says is inspired by a combination of separatism and Muslim religious extremism, prompted the authorities to tighten already suffocating controls in the region, including over Islamic religious practice. 

I see a U.S.-sponsored destabilization effort to keep China busy on the western front.

Chinese authorities have said the group responsible for the Kunming attack was trying to leave the country ‘‘to join jihad’’ abroad but when prevented from doing so, hatched a plot to carry out a terrorist attack within China.

According to the Kunming court’s microblog, the attack was planned at a hair salon in Gejiu, not far from the Vietnamese border, with the group making black jihadi flags and watching videos made by overseas Islamist extremist groups....

The attack on the station, in which 141 people were also wounded, shocked China....


Can't be any more direct than that:

"Pharmacist tied to outbreak a ‘scapegoat,’ lawyer says" by Milton J. Valencia and John R. Ellement | Globe Staff   September 11, 2014

A pharmacist from the Massachusetts company linked to tainted drugs that killed 64 people fears that federal prosecutors have chosen him to be the “scapegoat’’ for the medical disaster, his lawyer said Thursday.

Glenn Adam Chin was arraigned in US District Court on a one-count mail fraud indictment stemming from the investigation into the New England Compounding Center, where the tainted prescription drugs were allegedly made and then shipped across the country.

US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s office and the Justice Department’s consumer protection branch have been investigating the compounding center since a nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak began in fall 2012. Prosecutors said 751 patients fell ill after receiving contaminated medicine and 64 died.

Chin, who authorities allege was a supervising pharmacist at a New England Compounding lab where some of the tainted drugs were created, is the only person connected to the company who is currently facing criminal charges, though prosecutors said the investigation remains ongoing.

His lawyer, Stephen J. Weymouth, said Chin fears he has been chosen to bear the punishment for all those involved.

Glenn Adam Chin, a supervising pharmacist at the New England Compounding Center, was trying to board a plane to Hong Kong, officials said.

“He fears the US government is trying to make him a scapegoat out of this,’’ said Weymouth, who was temporarily appointed to represent Chin, pending a review of the defendant’s financial status. “I am sure that someone needs to be blamed, but I am not sure it is him.’’

Don't take it personally, they do it all the time.

Chin was arrested at Logan International Airport in Boston last week as he and his family prepared to board a plane for Hong Kong.

Weymouth said Chin was not trying to flee the country but was traveling with his grandmother, wife, and their two children, ages 2 and 6, for a vacation.

That's when they busted him? After eating lunch with his family?

Weymouth said Chin had a round-trip ticket and noted that the rest of his family flew to Hong Kong after Chin was taken into custody.

“He had documentation showing he was going to Hong Kong,’’ Weymouth said. “It was a return trip.’’

Weymouth said Chin has been out of work for months, since the tainted drugs were traced back to New England Compounding.

“He’s nervous. He’s anxious,’’ Weymouth said. “He’s depressed. He’s confused. He doesn’t know what is going to happen.’’

Chin, a Canton resident, was released Thursday on $50,000 unsecured bond. He is under house arrest and agreed to surrender his passport and wear an electronic monitoring bracelet. Weymouth said he may seek to change bail conditions in coming weeks.

Prosecutors said that if convicted, Chin faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

According to the criminal complaint filed last week by Benedict Celso, a special agent for the Food and Drug Administration, Chin supervised four pharmacists and 10 pharmacy technicians in so-called “clean rooms,” and was personally responsible for compounding steroid stock solutions.

Celso wrote that Chin employed “unsafe practices” including improper sterilization and testing.

Chin was in charge on June 29, 2012, when one batch of methylprednisolone acetate was made. Chin, the federal complaint alleges, “directed that filled vials be sent out of the clean room for shipment to NECC customers.’’

On Aug. 7, 2012, Michigan Pain Specialists in Brighton, Mich., ordered 400 vials of the material, the complaint alleged. New England Compounding sent the requested vials, each of which included the abbreviation for “injectable’’ on the label, indicating the medicine “was sterile and fit for human use,” the complaint said.

Over the next two months, doctors at the Michigan clinic injected 625 patients with the compound, the complaint alleges.

After receiving the injections, 217 patients contracted fungal infections; 15 of them died, according to the complaint.



"NEW USO FACILITY -- A ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the opening of a transplanted USO center Friday at Logan International Airport. The event was attended by military service members (right) as well as members of the Boston Bruins, New England Patriots, Boston Celtics, and New England Revolution. A tile inlay from the old USO facility at the airport was also presented (Boston Globe September 13 2014)."

This country has such a mid-1940s German feel to it theses days.


Airport workers take crucial step toward forming union

"Xi Jinping to Chinese tourists: Cut back on instant noodles" by Adam Taylor | The Washington Post News Service   September 18, 2014

WASHINGTON — The behavior of Chinese tourists abroad has been something of a sore spot for Beijing in recent years. Now Xi Jinping, China’s president, has waded into the debate with a request: Please stop eating so many instant noodles.

‘‘Let me interrupt and say something here,’’ Xi was reported to have said during an official visit to the Maldives, according to Bloomberg News. ‘‘We should also educate our citizens to be civilized when traveling abroad. Don’t litter water bottles, don’t destroy their coral reef. Eat less instant noodles and more local seafood.’’

Xi’s comments were lighthearted and reportedly provoked laughter. However, as the Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time blog points out, they were prompted by real-life events.

Last year, the South China Morning Post reported that a number of luxury resorts in the Maldives had begun limiting the hot water available to Chinese tourists, in a bid to stop them from eating instant noodles instead of ordering room service.

Being a frugal consumer is frowned upon.


Before getting into this next item one has to ask who ultimately benefits from the new Red Scare?

"China hacked US military contractors, investigators say" by Jack Gillum | Associated Press   September 18, 2014

WASHINGTON — China’s military hacked into computer networks of civilian transportation companies hired by the Pentagon at least nine times, breaking into computers aboard a commercial ship, targeting logistics companies, and uploading malicious software onto an airline’s computers, Senate investigators said Wednesday.

A yearlong investigation announced by the Senate Armed Services Committee identified at least 20 break-ins or other unspecified cyber events targeting companies, including nine successful break-ins of contractor networks. It blamed China’s government for the most sophisticated intrusions, although it did not provide any detailed evidence. 

I'm sick of seeing my lying, looting government and its mouthpiece media blaming China for everything.

The Senate report did not identify which transportation companies were victimized.

Investigators said China’s military was able to steal e-mails, documents, user accounts, and computer codes. They also said China compromised systems aboard a commercial ship contracted by Transcom for logistics routes, and hacked into an airline the US military used.

The committee’s chairman, Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, said the hacking put at risk the security of US military operations. He called his committee’s findings ‘‘very disturbing.’’

Verging on WAR, 'eh? I guess since China has chilled things in the region something is needed to flog the war agenda forward. Thanks. Levin.

China’s government did not immediately respond Wednesday to telephone messages and e-mails requesting comment in Beijing, its embassy in Washington, and offices at the United Nations.

They must get tired of responding to the false accusations and flogging, and who can blame them?

The newly declassified Senate report says defense contractors have generally failed to report to the Pentagon hacker break-ins of their systems as required under their business agreements.

Ea$ily under$tandable. Report it and you out the job.

Levin, whose staff investigated the break-ins with the committee’s top Republican, Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, said government agencies also failed to share information among themselves about intrusions. He said that hampers the government’s ability to protect national security.

Thirteen f***ing years after 9/11 and they still ain't talking? 

So which US intelligence agency is doing the hacking, or how many are?

For instance, the committee said some contractors that contacted the FBI about break-ins may have not separately reported the intrusions to Transcom because the firms assumed the bureau had notified the Pentagon. Levin said he and Inhofe were working on streamlining the reporting process. 

I love lame-ass excuses, don't you?

Federal data show more than $4 billion in contracts went to firms in 2012 and 2013 for the Civil Reserve Air Fleet, a Transcom partnership with private airlines that supplements Pentagon airlifts during wars or natural disasters. Six of 11 companies that investigators contacted about cyber intrusions were Civil Reserve airlines.

The largest recipient of reserve fleet funding during that period, FedEx Corp., did not answer questions from the AP on Wednesday asking whether it was a victim of hacking. In a written statement, it instead said generally it was ‘‘confident in the integrity and safety of our systems, including those supportive of our government contracts.’’

Wow, even FedEx is tied up with the military-industrial teat.

Other Transcom contractors included firms that have since filed for bankruptcy and ended operations, including Georgia-based World Airways Inc.

The significant intrusions were characterized as ‘‘advanced-persistent attacks,’’ a category of threats so sophisticated they are frequently associated with foreign governments.

And Israel leads the toil of that suspects list every time!

Of those intrusions, Transcom was made aware of only two, which the committee’s report said was troubling.

Some intrusions appeared to come from mundane ruses that targeted employees by e-mail, a practice known as spear-phishing. In 2013, for example, an unnamed Civil Reserve airline was the victim of a phishing attack that investigators suspect led to malicious software being downloaded on the airline’s network.

I wonder who would want to.... aaaaah, never mind.


Related: Home Depot Was Hacked

They had help from home, too.

"Home Depot confirms breach in US, Canada stores" by Marley Jay | Associated Press   September 09, 2014

NEW YORK — Home Depot confirmed on Monday that its payment systems have been breached and said the hack could affect customers who used credit and debit cards at its more than 2,000 US and Canadian stores.


The home improvement chain is the latest retailer to have a data breach. Others include Target, grocer Supervalu, restaurant chain P.F. Chang’s, and the thrift store operations of Goodwill. The breaches have rattled shoppers’ confidence in the security of their personal data.


Forrester Research analyst John Kindervag said the Home Depot breach could affect similar numbers of shoppers or cards, noting that months’ worth of data may have been compromised. ‘‘From what I’m hearing, people think this will be as big as Target or bigger,’’ he said in a telephone interview.

Retailers, banks, and card companies have responded to the breaches by increasing security by speeding the adoption of microchips in US credit and debit cards. Home Depot plans to have chip-enabled checkout terminals at all of its US stores by the end of this year.

NSA all set to receive data.

The Atlanta company said its IT department is looking into the breach and is working with outside firms, its banking partners, and the US Secret Service. The company added that customers will not be held responsible for fraudulent charges.

And nothing will come of it because we know back to where it leads.

The possible breach at Home Depot was first reported by Brian Krebs of Krebs on Security, a website that focuses on cybersecurity. Krebs said multiple banks reported ‘‘evidence that Home Depot stores may be the source of a massive new batch of stolen credit and debit cards’’ that went on sale on the black market earlier Tuesday.

Krebs said a preliminary analysis indicates the breach may have affected almost all of Home Depot’s US stores.

The Target hack was described as the second-largest credit card breach in US history and cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars in expenses, as well as affecting its profit and sales.

Target’s chief information officer and chief executive both stepped down in the months after the hack, and Kindervag noted that it remains to be seen how Home Depot will respond and how other businesses will deal with similar breaches in the future.

The financial information $ecurity field is becoming an indu$try. 

Cui bono?


"Prosecutors target credit card thieves overseas" by Eric Tucker | Associated Press   September 13, 2014

WASHINGTON — Criminals from around the world buy and sell stolen credit card information with ease in today’s digital age. But if they commit their crime entirely outside the United States, they may be beyond the reach of federal prosecutors.

Justice Department officials are seeking a tougher law to combat overseas credit card trafficking, an increasingly lucrative crime that crosses national boundaries.

Authorities say the current law is too weak because it allows people in other countries to avoid prosecution if they stay outside the United States when buying and selling the data and don’t pass their illicit business through the United States. The Justice Department is asking Congress to amend the law to make it illegal for an international criminal to possess, buy or sell a stolen credit card issued by a US bank no matter where in the world the transaction occurs.

Though prosecutors do have existing tools and have brought international cybertheft cases in the past year, the Justice Department says a new law is needed at a time when criminals operating largely in Eastern Europe are able to gobble up millions of stolen credit card numbers and commit widespread fraud in a matter of mouse clicks. Companies and banks, too, have been stung by faraway hackers who have siphoned away personal information.

It's the Jewish mafia and they are off limits.

‘‘It’s a very simple fix, and it makes perfect sense to fix it,’’ Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell, the Justice Department’s criminal division chief, said in an interview. ‘‘This is a huge law enforcement issue when it’s our financial institutions and our citizens’ credit card data that’s being stolen . . . by overseas people who never set foot in the United States.’’

The problem, though certainly not new, has evolved to the point that ‘‘a lot of these folks who are trafficking in these devices are overseas,’’ Caldwell said.

The issue is more than hypothetical, Caldwell told a Senate subcommittee, as law enforcement agencies have identified criminals in other nations who are selling large quantities of stolen credit cards without passing the business through the this country.

Officials say the crime is facilitated by online marketplaces where participants, cloaked in the anonymity of the Internet and trading data with the ease of eBay commodities, advertise, buy, and sell credit card information stolen in data breaches. 

Oh, I see. This is also about identifying commentators like me. 

The credit cards are valued at different prices, generally depending on the balance, and swapped on Web forums that often operate in foreign languages and are primarily hosted in non-US countries.

The cards are sometimes used to purchase valuable goods and sometimes converted into gift cards, Caldwell said. Some schemes dispatch bands of criminals to make withdrawals from automated teller machines.

‘‘It’s a well built-up and sophisticated marketplace,’’ said Chris Wysopal, a computer security specialist and chief technology officer of the software-security firm Veracode.

Aren't they one of the companies going public and getting boatloads of money?

The legislative request comes as prosecutors deal, more generally, with a growing cybercrime threat. Several recent cases illustrate the ease with which cybercriminals have managed to steal personal information.

Every time my paper says such and illustrates or emphasizes some point it means agenda-pushing at its maximum and the likely influence of $elf-$erving false flags and such.

In June, prosecutors charged a prolific Russian hacker accused of running an operation that infected computers with malicious software, captured bank account numbers and passwords, and then siphoned away millions of dollars. The man, Evgeniy Bogachev, remains at large.

RelatedRussia Hacking Way Into Ukraine

Yeah, everything always leads back to those this government wish to wage war upon.


Tying Together India, Japan and Pakistan

Geopolitics first:

"Visit by India’s Modi draws pledges of support from Japan" by Elaine Kurtenbach | Associated Press   September 02, 2014

TOKYO — Japan and India agreed Monday to increase their economic and security cooperation as visiting Prime Minister Narendra Modi won pledges of support for his effort to revitalize the lagging Indian economy.

Modi, who brought a delegation of more than a dozen Indian tycoons to Japan, said he hopes to elevate still relatively low-key business ties with Japan to a ‘‘new level.’’

In a joint statement issued after their talks, the two leaders reaffirmed the importance of upgrading defense ties, a priority for both given China’s growing assertiveness in the region.

Yeah, okay, I guess so. 

Didn't India just sign a defense pact with China?

Modi also welcomed Japan’s relaxation of restrictions on exports of defense-related equipment and technology.

He and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ‘‘recognized the enormous future potential for transfer and collaborative projects in defense equipment and technology,’’ the statement said.

As part of their ‘‘Investment Promotion Partnership,’’ the two sides set a target of doubling Japan’s foreign direct investment in India. Abe also pledged to raise public and private investment and financing from Japan to $33.6 billion within five years and to provide an aid loan of $480 million to the India Infrastructure Finance Co.

Abe said he would work with Modi to ‘‘strengthen the cooperative relationship between our two countries.’’

The statement listed construction of high-speed railways and other transport systems, cleanups of the Ganges and other rivers, food processing, and rural development and construction of ‘‘smart cities’’ as priorities.

In a speech to Japanese business leaders on Monday, Modi promised to set up a team to facilitate trade and investment.

Modi became prime minister in May with pledges to transform India’s troubled economy. He is keen to win more support for ambitious energy and construction projects, including high-speed railways.

Related: Japan Joins With U.S.

‘‘When I became prime minister, there were high expectations. Not just high expectations, but people expected speed in decisions,’’ Modi told leaders of Japan’s five big business groups. ‘‘I give you the assurance that what we have done in the past 100 days, the results will be seen very quickly.’’

In the joint statement, Abe reiterated his hope India will adopt its bullet train technology, promising Japanese financial, technical, and operations support.

Japan and India agreed also to continue joint and Japan-US-India military exercises and to accelerate talks on the purchase by New Delhi of US-2 amphibian aircraft.

The two sides said they would step up talks on nuclear energy cooperation, claiming ‘‘significant progress’’ despite having failed to reach a last-minute agreement on safeguards sought by Japan.

Seriously? As Fukushima still spews 300 tons of radioactive water into the ocean every day?

The two sides meanwhile pledged to strengthen work on preventing proliferation of nuclear weapons and on nuclear safety.

The statement said Japan and India will cooperate on advanced, clean coal technology, which is sorely needed to help combat the choking pollution in India’s major cities.

The two countries said they are in the process of finalizing a contract on production and export to Japan of rare earths, which are minerals used in mobile phones, hybrid cars, and other high-tech products.

During Abe’s first term in office, in 2006-2007, the two countries signed an agreement to build an industrial corridor between Mumbai and New Delhi.


Now the garbage:

"Japan’s first lady says husband helps with chores" by Mari Yamaguchi | Associated Press   September 05, 2014

TOKYO — Japan’s first lady says she has such a busy schedule that sometimes it’s up to the prime minister to do the dishes or take out the garbage.

It’s the kind of flexibility that Akie Abe says is needed for the advancement of women in Japan.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing companies and the government to hire and promote more women to allow Japan’s economy to grow and create a society where ‘‘women can shine.’’

He appointed five women to his 18-member Cabinet on Wednesday.

Even though Akie Abe, 52, openly refers to herself as a member of the ‘‘opposition in the household’’ on some issues her husband favors, such as nuclear energy, she said on Thursday that she is a big supporter of his ‘‘womenomics’’ policy of promoting women’s advancement.

In Japan, women are underrepresented in senior-level positions in companies, government, and universities.

They have long been discriminated against in salary and promotion in corporate Japan, and often face obstacles to pursuing their careers due to a lack of help from spouses.


"Japan seeks backing for whale hunt" Associated Press   September 04, 2014

TOKYO — Japan is seeking international support for its plans to hunt minke whales in the Antarctic Ocean next year by scaling down the whaling research program the UN top court rejected earlier this year, officials said Wednesday.

Whaling for research purposes is exempt from the 1986 international ban on commercial whaling, and Japan has conducted hunts in the Atlantic and Pacific on that basis. But in March, the International Court of Justice ruled the Antarctic program wasn’t scientific and must stop.

Japan’s Fisheries Agency is working on a revised program to be submitted to the International Whaling Commission’s scientific committee around November. The agency will announce its intention and basic plan at a Sept. 15-18 meeting in Slovenia.

The new program will address the problems cited by the court, an agency official said on condition of anonymity, citing department rules. The court said Japan’s Antarctic program produced little actual research and failed to explain why it needed to kill so many whales for the study.


"Fukushima Workers Who Fled May Have Received Garbled Orders, Reports Say" by MARTIN FACKLER, SEPT. 3, 2014

TOKYO — About 650 workers who fled the stricken Fukushima Daiichi power plant without permission at the darkest moment of the 2011 nuclear accident may have left because they thought they had been ordered to evacuate and were not knowingly violating orders, according to new details of the episode reported in recent days by Japanese news media.

I think it is one of the most important and impactful stories and concerns of our times but the propaganda pre$$ more or less ignores it.

The Kyodo News agency and two newspapers, The Mainichi Shimbun and The Yomiuri Shimbun, carried new excerpts from the testimony of Masao Yoshida, who was the plant manager during the March 2011 accident. Some of his testimony, which was recorded by government investigators during hours of interviews before Mr. Yoshida’s death last year, was first disclosed in May by another major Japanese newspaper, The Asahi Shimbun.

Mr. Yoshida, who stayed at the Fukushima plant with 68 employees as it seemed to teeter on the brink of catastrophe after being crippled by a huge earthquake and tsunami, came to be viewed in Japan as a hero for preventing the disaster from growing even worse. His 400-page account of the accident, which had been kept secret by the government, is now scheduled to be made public as early as this month, following pressure from shareholders of the plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, and from other news agencies after the Asahi scoop.

Like the Asahi report, the accounts published over the last week, which could not be independently verified, appeared to come from copies of Mr. Yoshida’s testimony that were leaked to Japanese news media.

While the new reports carry much of the same information as the earlier Asahi account, they differ on the key point of whether the plant’s workers who fled on March 15 were consciously violating Mr. Yoshida’s order for them to stay where they were. The Asahi report quoted Mr. Yoshida as saying he had never given the order to withdraw, indicating that the evacuation went against his instructions.

However, additional excerpts from Mr. Yoshida’s testimony cited in the new reports suggest a communication failure, not a willful violation of orders by the employees.

That's where my printed Globe ended.

“It was like the telephone game,” in which a message gets distorted as it is whispered from person to person, Mr. Yoshida is quoted as saying in the new reports. “I said, ‘If we go, should it be to 2F?’ while the people who heard me gave the instruction to the drivers to go to Fukushima Daini.”

Mr. Yoshida was referring to the drivers of buses that were being brought to the damaged plant for a possible evacuation. Those buses helped carry the fleeing workers to the unharmed Fukushima Daini nuclear plant, also known as 2F, despite the fact that the evacuation order was never given.

The new excerpts also reveal that Mr. Yoshida feared that the accident could grow into a broader disaster that might have threatened all of eastern Japan, a region that is usually taken as including Tokyo, about 150 miles south of the destroyed plant. 

As if it has not.

“Our image was a catastrophe for eastern Japan,” Mr. Yoshida said in the testimony, according to Kyodo. “I thought we were really dead.”

While the accident did spew radioactive fallout over a wide swath of northeastern Japan, it did not become severe enough to cause the worst-case scenario: an evacuation of the neighboring Daini plant, which could have caused that plant’s reactors to spin out of control as well.

Largely because of the efforts of Mr. Yoshida, who died last year of throat cancer at 58, the destroyed Daichi plant’s three melted-down reactors have been stabilized by temporary cooling systems.


However, the plant’s operator, which is also known as Tepco, is still struggling to cut off a huge influx of groundwater into the damaged reactor buildings. That must be stopped before Tepco can begin an effort to decommission the reactors, which could take 30 years and cost more than $10 billion. 

It's going into the Pacific, folks, and one can only imagine the damage as the body of water becomes more and more saturated.


But never mind that. Everything's all right, everything's fine:

"Japanese nuclear plant declared safe to operate for first time since disaster" by Martin Fackler | New York Times   September 11, 2014

TOKYO — For the first time since the Fukushima disaster 3½ years ago, Japan’s new nuclear regulatory agency declared Wednesday that an atomic power plant was safe to operate, in a widely watched move that brings Japan a step closer to restarting its idled nuclear industry.

The people in Japan don't want it, but you know....

The two reactors at the Sendai power plant on the southern island of Kyushu are the first to be certified as safe enough to restart by the Nuclear Regulation Authority since the agency was created two years ago to restore public confidence in nuclear oversight. 

Oh, ah, oh, ah!

All of Japan’s 48 operable commercial nuclear reactors were shut down after the March 2011 triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station created serious public doubts about the safety of atomic power in earthquake-prone Japan.

Even with the approval, it will still likely be months before either of the reactors can be turned back on. In addition to further safety checks, the plant’s operator, Kyushu Electric Power Co., must also obtain the consent of local governments around the plant. The final decision on whether to restart the plant will be made by the prime minister, probably in December, according to local news media reports.

They have elections in November, too?

The approval follows intense political pressure on the new agency by the government of the current prime minister, Shinzo Abe, a pro-big business leader who wants to restore atomic energy as part of his strategy to revive the nation’s long-anemic economy.

They never learn.

He also wants to turn the plants back on in order to end Japan’s ballooning trade deficits, which many here blame on the rising cost of imported fuel to make up for the loss of nuclear-generated electricity.

What about solar and wind? I mean, an island would seem to be a perfect spot for....

However, opinion polls have shown that the public remains skeptical about both the safety of the plants and the ability to ensure that safety by Abe’s governing Liberal Democratic Party, which has long had close ties to the politically powerful nuclear industry. Those doubts were aired last month, during a monthlong public comment period after the agency released a draft report in July that expressed approval of the Sendai plant’s safety measures.

Yeah, but who cares what people think anymore? If it is something meaningless, yeah, ask them. Important and effecting the lives of all? No. Don't wanna hear it. Only wanna hear the ru$tling of cash.

The agency said it received 17,800 comments, more than it expected. Many were highly skeptical about the safety of the Sendai plant, which is in a volcanically active area.

I'm sorry, say again?

Still, the agency on Wednesday ended up adopting its July findings without major modifications.

In a news release, the agency said it had made the decision after reviewing 18,600 pages of supporting documents filed by Kyushu Electric, as well as the results of its own inspections of the plant. It said the design and construction of the reactors and other facilities, and also the contingency plans for dealing with emergencies, met new safety standards that the agency adopted in July of last year.

And how could you ever question industry and government in Japan or anywhere else?


Back to where we began:

"Japan’s emperor cautioned against war with U.S., documents show" by Martin Fackler | New York Times   September 10, 2014

MATSUE, Japan — Before Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Emperor Hirohito criticized plans to go to war with the United States as “self-destructive” and opposed an alliance with Nazi Germany, though he did little to try to stop the war that Japan waged in his name, according to the long-awaited official history of his reign, released Tuesday.

Smelling like a whitewash already. Who lines up with a loser in an age when the victor is still supreme?

The 12,000-page history of Japan’s emperor during World War II, which also shows him exalting at the victories of his armies in China, appears to contain little that will surprise historians, according to Japanese media descriptions of its contents.

That other Holocaust™?

The most controversial aspect appears to be the fact that it took the Imperial Household Agency almost a quarter of a century to release its official history of Hirohito, who died in 1989 at age 87.

The agency, which manages the affairs of the imperial family, including those of current Emperor Akihito, explained the delay by saying it took time to put together the 61-volume history from 3,152 documents and records, some of them never previously made public.

However, the delay is also widely seen as being due to the sensitivity of the subject matter in a nation that still has not fully come to terms with its actions during the war or the responsibility of Hirohito for it.

I grieve for the generations of Americans to come that will have to grapple with that question, and the horrible lies that underpinned all AmeriKan actions.

Most histories portray Hirohito as a figurehead who was revered as a living god by Japan’s soldiers and citizens but who had little real power to decide the fate of his nation.

We call him president.

At the same time, he has been criticized for letting himself be used as a spiritual symbol for Japanese militarism, presiding over meetings of leaders at which decisions to go to war were made and reviewing parades atop his white horse.

While the agency’s official history has been long awaited by scholars, it failed to contain some hoped-for material, such as records of the several meetings between the emperor and General Douglas MacArthur, commander of the US occupation forces after the war, who decided against putting Hirohito on trial as a war criminal. Instead, it contained only information about the two leaders’ first meeting on Sept. 27, 1945, that had already been made public, according to the news agency Kyodo News.

The history also shows that Hirohito opposed going to war with the United States in the buildup to the Japanese Navy’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, saying that Japan had no chance of winning such a war, according to Kyodo.

“It is nothing less than a self-destructive war,” Kyodo quoted the emperor as saying on July 31, 1941. 

And now the U.S. is trying to get wars with Russia and China going. You would think they would have learned something, but nope.

Two years earlier, on July 5, 1939, the emperor had also criticized the army minister at the time for wanting to strengthen ties with Nazi Germany, according to Kyodo, which said the emperor supported greater cooperation with the United States.

Japan eventually joined the Axis alliance with Germany and Benito Mussolini’s Italy. In regards to all that, it is now well known even among official historians that FDR let Pearl Harbor happen on purpose so the US could get involved in Europe. The US was already at war with Japan after having cut off oil to the island, thus forcing Japan to expand to survive. 

Anyhow, history may have been completely different had the Nazi-Japan alliance been better coordinated. Hitler could hardly have warned Japan of his "invasion" of Russia -- turns out it was a preemptive attack against a Russian invasion called Operation Storm. I always wondered why there were so many Russian forces captured when they were allegedly ill-prepared for Hitlers "betrayal" -- however, had Japan used its troops in Manchuria to open up a Siberian front the troops that Stalin called back to turn the tide against the Axis it is possible that history takes a different turn there and takes the allies years, maybe even decades longer to win the war and possibly even lose it.

The same holds true for the "sneak" attack on Pearl Harbor, although one can understand the Japanese not wanting to lost anyone, not even the Germans, in on it. Utmost secrecy was to be observed. Nevertheless, it was German successes on the battlefield that forced the European powers of France, England, and Holland to recall the forces from their Asian empires and that allowed the Japanese to move in quickly. Repelling the U.S. from the Philippines and taking territory all the way to the Indian border by summer 1942 led to a peace proposal from the Japanese, but by now there was an unconditional surrender for the Zionist forces known as the Allies. The threats to the New World Order were not going to be allowed to survive in any form, all culminating with the two most monstrous individual war crimes in human history with the use of atomic bombs by the U.S.

Soon Israel would be created by the U.N. and a Cold War would make "defense" contractors incredibly rich for decades before Communism collapsed. Incredibly, the "terrorists" created by AmeriKa to fight that threat would become the new menace and bring about a Third World War in which we are currently involved.

The official history is currently available only for limited viewing by the public, though the agency plans to start publishing it in stages over the next five years, Kyodo said.


Time to get on over and marry this back up with India:

"Wedding bus crash in India kills 50" by Hari Kumar | New York Times   September 05, 2014

NEW DELHI — A bus carrying dozens of members of a wedding party plunged off a mountain road into a deep, fast-running stream in the region of Jammu on Thursday, killing nearly everyone aboard, Indian authorities said.

About 50 people were presumed dead, said Vinod Kaul, head of the disaster management department in Jammu and Kashmir state.

Torrential floods have inundated much of the state near the border with Pakistan this week and had claimed at least 18 lives before the bus accident Thursday.

Water rushed off a mountain with such force that it was impossible for rescue workers to reach the bus, said Bachan Singh, an official from the village of Rajpur Kamila, where the accident occurred.

Police and rescue crews were at the site, but the wind and rain were so powerful that responders could rescue only three people, according to Mubassir Latifi, the police chief in the district of Rajouri.



"In India, the Catholic Church this week hosted a major conference on family farms, responding to a growing crisis of farmer suicides. In the last 10 years, 300,000 Indian farmers are believed to have taken their own lives. Generally these are small-time rural farmers squeezed among mounting debts, declining yields, and pressure from large agriculture conglomerates. Led by Caritas, a Catholic charitable group, the Indian church is proposing a program of support for small farmers that includes favorable tax and credit policies, price supports, organization of rural cooperatives, and stronger social security protection."

It's also related to the GMOs, but you won't see that link in my pre$$.

Related: Suicide or protest? Hunger strike rivets India

That's just an opinion. 

At least they are getting Google smartphones.

"Rain and flooding kill more than 200

ISLAMABAD — Heavy monsoon rains and flash floods killed 128 people in Pakistan and 108 people in India last week, officials said Saturday, as forecasters warned of more rain in the coming days and troops raced to evacuate people from deluged areas. The annual monsoon season has struck hard across the region, leaving people to wade through rushing water in towns and villages across Pakistan and in Indian-controlled areas of Kashmir, officials said (AP)."

"Monsoon floods kill nearly 300 in India, Pakistan" | Associated Press   September 08, 2014

SRINAGAR, India — Five days of rains have triggered landslides and flash floods in large swaths of northern India and Pakistan, raising the death toll to nearly 300 people, officials said Sunday.

Rains in Indian Kashmir has left at least 120 people dead in the region’s worst flooding in more than five decades, submerging hundreds of villages and triggering landslides, officials said.

In Pakistan, more than 160 people have died and thousands of homes have collapsed, with an official saying the situation was becoming a ‘‘national emergency.’’

Rescuers in both countries were using helicopters and boats to try to reach tens of thousands of people stranded in their homes.

Rescue efforts in Srinagar, the main city in Indian Kashmir, were hampered by fast-moving floodwaters.

The rains stopped on Sunday, but officials said the water from the overflowed Jhelum River was moving too fast to allow boats to reach many people in Srinagar.

By evening, several vessels had been deployed to start rescue efforts, said Omar Abdullah, Jammu and Kashmir state’s top elected official.


"Floods claim 461 lives in Pakistan, Kashmir" by Munir Ahmed and Ashok Sharma | Associated Press   September 12, 2014

ISLAMABAD — Pakistani troops used helicopters and boats to evacuate thousands of marooned people from the country’s plains, where raging monsoon floods inundated more villages Thursday, as the Indian military dropped food for hundreds of thousands of people stranded in flood-hit areas of Indian-held Kashmir.

Pakistani and Indian officials said the death toll had reached 461 in the two countries.

Flash floods have washed away crops, damaged tens of thousands of homes, and affected more than a million people since Sept. 3, when heavy monsoon rains lashed Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province and Kashmir, the Himalayan region claimed by both India and Pakistan.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited the Pakistan-administered portion of Kashmir on Thursday and told flood victims that his government would do whatever it could to rebuild their damaged homes. ‘‘I am grieved over the deaths caused by the floods,’’ he said in a televised speech.

Ahmad Kamal, a spokesman for Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority, said 261 people have been killed and 482 injured in Pakistan.

‘‘The situation is still alarming as flood waters are entering the country’s plains in the Jhang district, inundating more villages and affecting thousands,’’ he said.

The military said it was expanding relief operations in Punjab, where the Chenab River overflowed.

We will get to other things the Pakistani military is doing later.

Troops in helicopters and boats evacuated 4,000 more people from Jhang, it said.

Kamal said high floods were expected to reach the southern Sindh province later this week.

Authorities were supplying tents, food, and other items to survivors, but many complained that the government was not doing enough.

‘‘I feel as If I am a beggar, as I have to wait for hours to get free food,’’ a survivor told a Pakistani news channel.

Hafiz Saeed, who heads Jamaat-ud-Dawa, an anti-India charity, accused India of releasing flood waters that caused destruction in Pakistan.

‘‘Pakistan should take notice of this situation,’’ he told a Pakistani news channel late Wednesday, adding that he was providing food to hundreds of thousands of flood victims in Jhang.

Related: World War Coming to Kashmir 

Who woudda thunk it, huh?

India says Jamaat-ud-Dawa is a front for the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which it blames for a 2008 attack on the city of Mumbai that killed 166 people.

Pakistan and India have a history of uneasy relations, but relations have improved in recent years.

Each side has offered to help the other recover from the floods, the worst to hit Pakistan since 2010, when some 1,700 people died.

The Kashmir region in the northern Himalayas is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both.

Two of the three wars the countries have fought since their independence from Britain in 1947 have been over control of Kashmir.

Why can't they have a vote like Kosovo or Sudan?

In India, Sandeep Rai Rathore, head of the National Disaster Response Force, said Thursday that 80 army and air force transport aircraft and helicopters were dropping drinking water, biscuits, baby food, and food packets for hundreds of thousands of marooned people in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir.

Officials said the flooding has killed 200 people in India, where anger and resentment was mounting over what victims described as a slow rescue and relief effort.

With flood waters receding in parts of region, authorities prepared to cope with the spread of waterborne diseases such as diarrhea.

And worse, cholera!

In Srinagar, the main city in Indian-held Kashmir, most government hospitals and clinics were flooded and unable to treat patients.


"KASHMIR FLOODING -- Volunteers carried relief supplies through a flooded area of Srinagar in Indian Kashmir on Friday. More than 400,000 people have been marooned and at least 215 people have died in the disaster (Boston Globe September 13, 2014)."

"Pakistan diverts rivers to save cities from floods" by Munir Ahmed | Associated Press   September 14, 2014

ISLAMABAD — Military specialists blew up dikes in central Pakistan to divert swollen rivers and save cities from raging floods that have killed hundreds of people, authorities said Saturday, as officials stepped up efforts in India’s part of Kashmir to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases there.

In Pakistan, the breaches at the overflowing Chenab River were performed overnight as floodwaters reached Multan, a city famous for its Sufi saints. Pakistani news channels showed pictures of floodwaters gushing through the blown-up dikes.

Civil and military officials have been using helicopters and boats to evacuate marooned people since Sept. 3, when floods triggered by monsoon rains hit Pakistan and Kashmir, which is divided between Pakistan and India.

Pakistan’s military said in a statement Saturday that it was still evacuating people and air-dropping food in the districts of Multan, Muzaffargarh, and Jhang. It said troops had air-dropped tons of food in flood-affected areas, while the army’s medical teams were treating patients.

Ahmad Kamal, the spokesman for Pakistan’s National Disaster Management authority, said rains and floods had killed 280 people and injured more than 500 in Pakistan and Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

He said more than 2 million people had been affected.

Kamal said rescuers had evacuated 276,681 persons from flood-hit areas and aerial monitoring was being done through helicopters.

On Saturday, state-run Pakistan television showed pictures of men and women wading through waist-deep waters.

It also showed army helicopters plucking people from rooftops and trees in inundated villages. Pictures taken from helicopters showed submerged villages and towns in the districts of Jhang and Multan.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is supervising rescue operations, traveled to Jhang on Saturday.

In a televised speech there, Sharif said his government was exempting flood-affected people from paying their electricity bills.

‘‘I assure you that we will rebuild your homes. We will do whatever is possible to help you,’’ he told a gathering of survivors near a flooded village.


RelatedPakistan Coup in Progress

Last I saw of it.

"Stagnant flood water raising health risk in Kashmir" by Aijaz Hussain and Katy Daigle | Associated Press   September 17, 2014

SRINAGAR, India — Health workers were scrambling Tuesday to manage a mounting health crisis nearly two weeks after massive flooding engulfed much of Kashmir, and were treating cases of diarrhea, skin allergies, and fungus while hoping the stagnant waters do not create conditions for more serious disease outbreaks.

Countless bloated livestock carcasses were floating across the waterlogged Himalayan region. Many residents, warned to avoid the flood waters, were rationing water bottles brought by aid workers every few days.

‘‘The chance of cholera, jaundice, and leptospirosis spreading are high,’’ said Dr. Swati Jha with the aid group Americares.

The scale of the disaster — described as an ‘‘unprecedented catastrophe’’ by the region’s top elected official — has stunned many in India, with newspapers running daily front-page aerial photos of rooftops framed by mud-brown waters.

Most hospitals have been inundated, their diagnostic equipment, CT scanners, operation theaters, and ventilators destroyed.

‘‘With our health infrastructure lost, any disease can be catastrophic now. You don’t need any plague for mass deaths,’’ said critical care specialist Dr. Javaid Naqashbandi while scribbling out a prescription for treatment of stomach illness on the patient’s hand.

And the global depopulation plan continues?

Both sides of the Himalayan region of Kashmir, divided between India and Pakistan, have seen extreme devastation, with hundreds of thousands of families losing all their possessions.


War never waits for tragedy:

"Pakistan airstrikes hit Taliban hideouts, kill 65" by Asif Shahzad | Associated Press   September 11, 2014

ISLAMABAD — Pakistani warplanes struck five militant hideouts in a Taliban stronghold near the Afghan border on Wednesday, killing 65 insurgents, the military said.

The strikes, carried out in two phases hours apart, targeted areas in the North Waziristan tribal region, where the military has been conducting a major offensive since mid-June, the army said in a statement.

Here is a brief link.

The strikes came a day after the Pakistani Taliban took credit for a weekend attack on a navy dockyard on the other side of the country, in Karachi.

Also Wednesday, Pakistan’s defense minister said authorities investigating a weekend attack on a navy dockyard in the Karachi cannot rule out possible involvement of some navy personnel in the assault.

An inside job?

North Waziristan has long been home to a mix of local and Al Qaeda-linked foreign militants, including armed groups which carry out cross-border attacks on US and other NATO troops in Afghanistan.

The army launched the much-awaited operation there June 15, following a deadly militant attack on one of the country’s busiest airports in Karachi.

Related: At the Pakistan Airport

The deaths Wednesday brought to almost 975 the number of insurgents the military says it has killed in air and ground attacks in North Waziristan. The area, however, is off limits to journalists, making it impossible to confirm military claims independently.

Pakistan is a key ally of the United States in the war on terror, and local Taliban in a bid to overthrow the government often target the country’s security forces, killing tens of thousands of Pakistanis in the past decade.

In the first batch of airstrikes on Wednesday, the military reported killing 35 militants in three hideouts in Datta Khel in North Waziristan. Hours later, it said a second batch of airstrikes destroyed two more hideouts in the tribal region’s Shawal Valley, killing 30 more militants.


Just part of the drone wars, and it's all for the women:

"10 arrested in 2012 shooting of Malala Yousafzai, Pakistan says" New York Times   September 13, 2014

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Ten militants have been taken into custody in connection with the 2012 shooting of Malala Yousafzai, a teenager who defied the Taliban with her outspoken calls for girls’ education, a spokesman for the Pakistani military said Friday.

Yousafzai, who is now 17, was shot in the head by gunmen who attacked her school bus as she and her schoolmates were heading home in the Swat Valley, the picturesque northern region where the Taliban held sway until a military operation broke their hold in 2009. Two of Yousafzai’s classmates were also wounded.

Yousafzai, who is studying in Britain, was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 and has won several awards in recognition of her advocacy.

The military spokesman, Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa, said the arrests were the product of a joint operation between the military intelligence agency and the police. He said the arrests had not come all at once but did not say when they had happened. It was unclear why the operation was being announced Friday.

Bajwa said the attackers had been under orders from Maulana Fazlullah, the leader of the main Pakistani Taliban branch, when they attacked Yousafzai and the other students. He said the militants were based in Malakand and belonged to a group known as Shura. They were planning to kill 22 influential residents of Swat when they were arrested, he said.

The main spokesman for the Taliban until recently, Ehsanullah Ehsan, called the army’s claim “black propaganda.”

It's on my newsstand every morning.


That marries you up with everything the Globe has reported until this moment.

NEXT DAY UPDATE: Japan seeks backing for whaling despite UN ruling