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July 12, 2008

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Fury as Zimbabwe sanctions vetoed

July 12, 2008

The resolution called for sanctions on Mugabe and 13 other officials

Britain and the US have condemned Russia and China for vetoing a draft UN Security Council resolution to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe’s leaders.

UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband said their veto was incomprehensible, especially as Russia had earlier suggested it backed tougher action.

The measures had included an arms embargo and a travel ban for Robert Mugabe and 13 of his key allies.

Zimbabwe’s UN ambassador said the UK and US had come up with flimsy reasons.

Boniface Chidyausiku said he was happy to see what he called the machinations of the two failing.

International security

There has been growing international criticism of Zimbabwe since the re-election of Mr Mugabe in a run-off boycotted by the opposition.

The opposition’s Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change party say they had faced a campaign of violence by Mugabe supporters, which left dozens dead and thousands injured and forced from their homes.

Russia and China said they opposed the resolution because the situation in Zimbabwe did not threaten international stability.

The US ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad, said Russia’s veto raised “questions about its reliability as a G8 partner”.

Mr Miliband said Russia used its veto despite a promise by President Dmitry Medvedev to support the resolution when it was discussed at this week’s summit of the G8 group of industrialised nations.

A BBC correspondent at the UN, Andy Gallacher, says the failure of the resolution is a major blow for the United States and Britain.

The UK ambassador said after the vote that the UN had failed in its duty.

“The people of Zimbabwe need to be given hope that there is an end in sight to their suffering,” said Sir John Sawers. “The Security Council today has failed to offer them that hope.”

However, Russia’s ambassador Vitaly Churkin said sanctions would have taken the UN beyond its mandate.

China’s Foreign Ministry’s chief spokesman Liu Jianchao said sanctions would complicate conditions in Zimbabwe and would not help to encourage the various factions engage in political dialogue and negotiations.

South Africa – which is hoping that President Mugabe and the opposition can reach a deal on a power-sharing – voted against sanctions.

Envoy call

The resolution would have imposed an arms embargo on Zimbabwe and financial and travel restrictions on President Mugabe and 13 of his top officials.

It also called for a UN special envoy for Zimbabwe to be appointed.

The resolution had the support of nine council members, the minimum required to pass in the 15-member council.

But the veto of any of the five permanent members is enough to defeat a resolution.

Violence in Zimbabwe is said to have increased after the disputed presidential elections.

The MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai, won the first round of Zimbabwe’s presidential elections on 29 March, but official results gave him less than the 50% share needed to avoid a run-off.

He pulled out of the run-off poll after many of his supporters were targeted, assaulted and even killed, leaving Mr Mugabe to win unopposed in the second round at the end of June.

The MDC says 113 of its supporters have been killed, some 5,000 are missing and more than 200,000 have been forced from their homes since March.

Michael DeBakey, pioneer of heart procedures, dead at 99

July 12, 2008
debakey

Dr. Michael DeBakey, seen here in a 1985 photo, developed heart procedures used by today's doctors.

HOUSTON, Texas (AP) — Dr. Michael DeBakey, the world-famous cardiovascular surgeon who pioneered such now-common procedures as bypass surgery and invented a host of devices to help heart patients, died Friday night at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, officials announced. He was 99.

DeBakey died from “natural causes,” according to a written statement issued early Saturday by spokesmen for Baylor College of Medicine and The Methodist Hospital.

DeBakey underwent surgery in February 2006 for a damaged aorta — a procedure he had developed.

DeBakey counted world leaders among his patients and helped turn Baylor College of Medicine in Houston from a provincial school into one of the nation’s great medical institutions.

“Dr. DeBakey’s reputation brought many people into this institution, and he treated them all: heads of state, entertainers, businessmen and presidents, as well as people with no titles and no means,” said Ron Girotto, president of The Methodist Hospital System.

Girotto said the surgeon “has improved the human condition and touched the lives of generations to come.”

While still in medical school in 1932, he invented the roller pump, which became the major component of the heart-lung machine, beginning the era of open-heart surgery. The machine takes over the function of the heart and lungs during surgery.

It was only a start of a lifetime of innovation. The surgical procedures that DeBakey developed once were the wonders of the medical world. Today, they are commonplace procedures in most hospitals.

He also was a pioneer in the effort to develop artificial hearts and heart pumps to assist patients waiting for transplants, and helped create more than 70 surgical instruments.

In a rare interview published in December 2006, DeBakey gave The New York Times details of the operation on his damaged aorta earlier that year, when he was 97.

“It is a miracle,” DeBakey said. “I really should not be here.” He said he at first gambled that his aorta would heal on its own and refused to be admitted to a hospital, and was unresponsive and near death when his doctors and his wife decided to proceed, despite his age. He then spent several months in the hospital.

As he recovered, DeBakey told his doctors he was glad they had operated, despite his earlier refusals.

“If they hadn’t done it, I’d be dead,” he said.

Dr. William T. Butler, a colleague of DeBakey’s at Baylor, said in March 2006 that DeBakey established himself with his surgical firsts as the “maestro of cardiovascular surgery.”

“Dr. DeBakey was never afraid to challenge the status quo, often going against the tide,” Butler said. “Some times his colleagues did not really accept his visionary ideas, particularly as he propelled beyond the boundaries of existing scientific dogma.”

In a 1985 Associated Press interview, DeBakey said, “I’m accused of being a perfectionist and, in the way it’s usually defined, I guess I am. In medicine, and certainly in surgery, you have to be as perfect as possible. There’s no room for mistakes.”

DeBakey was the first to perform replacement of arterial aneurysms and obstructive lesions in the mid-1950s. He later developed bypass pumps and connections to replace excised segments of diseased arteries.

A tireless worker and a stern taskmaster, DeBakey literally had scores of patients under his care at any one time, helping to establish his name as a leading cardiovascular surgeon. By 1992, he had performed more than 50,000 surgeries.

“Man was born to work hard,” he said.

His patients ranged from penniless peasants from the Third World to such famous figures as the Duke of Windsor, the Shah of Iran, King Hussein of Jordan, Turkish President Turgut Ozal, Nicaraguan Leader Violetta Chamorro and Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon.

But he said celebrities don’t get special treatment on the operating table: “Once you incise the skin, you find that they are all very similar.”

He made headlines again in 1996 when he flew to Moscow to help examine ailing Russian President Boris Yeltsin and served as a consultant when he underwent surgery.

DeBakey served as chairman of the President’s Commission on Heart Disease, Cancer and Stroke during Johnson’s administration and helped establish the National Library of Medicine. He was author of more than 1,000 medical reports, papers, chapters and books on surgery, medicine and related topics.

DeBakey also trained hundreds of cardiovascular surgeons who now are practicing throughout the world. Among them was famed heart surgeon Dr. Denton Cooley, who later became DeBakey’s chief rival in the Texas Medical Center.

“I like my work, very much. I like it so much that I don’t want to do anything else,” DeBakey said.

Baylor University College of Medicine was a fledgling medical school when DeBakey joined it in 1948, five years after it moved from Dallas to Houston.

The Waco-based university later cut its ties to the school, but DeBakey, as the medical school’s president and later chancellor, had helped to establish its own identity.

In 1953, DeBakey performed the first Dacron graft to replace part of an occluded artery. In the 1960s, he began coronary arterial bypasses.

In 1962, DeBakey received a $2.5 million grant to work on an artificial heart that could be implanted without being linked to an exterior console. In 1966, he was the first to successfully use a partial artificial heart — a left ventricular bypass pump.

It was the first implantation of a complete artificial heart by Cooley in 1969 that led to the famous feud between the two surgeons that lasted until the two publicly made amends in 2007. The patient, Haskell Karp, 47, lived on the artificial heart for nearly five days, then received a heart transplant, but died 36 hours later.

Cooley was censured by the medical school and the National Heart Institute for using the experimental device, and he and DeBakey traded accusations about their research. Cooley, who contended Karp was so ill he had no choice but to operate, left Baylor and established the Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in the Texas Medical Center.

Meanwhile, the effort to save lives through heart transplants was stalled. Dr. Christiaan Bernard in South Africa had performed the first human heart transplant in history in late 1967. In the United States, DeBakey and Cooley were among those who began performing the transplants, but death rates were high because the recipients’ bodies rejected the new organs.

The advent of a new anti-rejection drug, cyclosporine, gave new impetus to organ transplants in the 1980s. In 1984, DeBakey performed his first heart transplant in 14 years.

His work as an inventor continued. In the late 1990s, DeBakey brought out a ventricular assist device touted as one-tenth the size of current heart pumps that helped ease suffering for patients waiting for heart transplants.

In the late 1990s, he took an active role in creating the Michael E. DeBakey Heart Institute at Hays Medical Center in Hays, Kan.

DeBakey was born Sept. 7, 1908, in Lake Charles, La., the son of Lebanese immigrants. He got interested in medicine while listening to physicians chat at his father’s pharmacy.

“I always knew I wanted to be a doctor. I just didn’t know what kind,” DeBakey once said.

He received his bachelor’s and medical degrees from Tulane University in New Orleans.

He recalled in 1999 that the time he finished medical school in 1932, “there was virtually nothing you could do for heart disease. If a patient came in with a heart attack, it was up to God.”

Early in his career, DeBakey invented a new blood transfusion needle, a new suture scissors and a new colostomy clamp. He began teaching at Tulane in 1937.

During World War II, DeBakey worked in Europe as director of the surgeon general’s surgical consultants division, helping develop mobile army surgical hospitals (MASH units) and specialized treatment centers for returning veterans.

He returned to Tulane after the war and joined Baylor University College of Medicine in Houston in 1948.

DeBakey’s first wife, Diana Cooper DeBakey, died of a heart attack in 1972. Three years later, DeBakey married a German film actress, Katrin Fehlhaber.

UK PM vows more knife crime measures, as stabbings spiral

July 12, 2008

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has promised to introduce more measures next week to tackle knife crime.

The pledge comes after four men were stabbed to death in a single day in London.

Police say the problem has overtaken terrorism as their top priority.

In a six week stop and search campaign in the capital, they say they’ve seized five hundred knives and made more than one thousand arrests.

London’s Assistant Police Commissioner Tim Godwin said: “We are committed to driving down this scourge of knife crime in London. We will relentlessly pursue those who carry weapons and we will put them in front of the court for the court to decide what to do with them and we will work closely with our partners to unpick what the underlying causes of this is to actually try to prevent it.”

The stabbings bring London’s death toll this year from similar attacks to over fifty.

Police insist that while the problem is serious, it can be overcome.

They say overall in the capital, the murder rate has not risen substantially.

And they say in New York last year, a city of similar size, more than twice as many murders took place.

The new measures promised by the Prime Minister are expected to include tougher sentencing provisions.


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