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Doctors and Facebook Present Ethics Challenge

Some doctor's unrestricted profiles on Facebook run the risk of violating the traditional bounds of a patient-caregiver relationship, CNN reports.

A study done by the Journal of Medical Ethics that surveyed 200 residents and fellows at a hospital in France revealed that those without a facebook profile are in the minority. Beyond that, most were sharing their full name and employer along with a picture.

The prevalence of facebook among the physicians, CNN reports, is likely related to the prevalence of the website among today's youth. These problems are hardly isolated to medicine, either, says Deven McGraw, director of the Health Privacy Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology.

"Any professional faces the same dilemma," McGraw said. "You want to share information with your friends, and yet, given the reach of Facebook, what are you comfortable sharing in a personal space that could be cast in a different light in a professional context?"

The concern, then, is not the disclosure of medical information or a breach of trust on the part of the doctor but rather the potential connection on facebook complicating or jeopardizing the relationships between patients and their caregivers.

The American Medical Association has instituted a social media policy for its members as a response. Basically, the report says to keep in mind the fact that Facebook is by no means a private means to publish things and think before posting.

While telling doctors to use common sense before sharing information on the website is certainly helpful, the same message applies to all members of the popular social network.

Wikileaks Sympathizers Strike Back

After Julian Assange was taken into custody in London on Tuesday, hundreds of anonymous activists banded together under the banner "Anonymous" to attack the websites of various corporations involved in the controversy.

With an unprecedented level of coordination, users of IRC chat rooms developed a program that allowed them to take control of others' computers once they opt in to participating in the attacks, equatable to a sort of voluntary virus. Incredibly simple and convenient, once the file is on a user's computer, the leaders of the attack have full access to utilize the machine in a coordinated distributed denial-of-service assault, CNN reports.

"Operation Payback", as participants call it, targets primarily the financial institutions (Visa, Mastercard, and Paypal) that stopped payments to Wikileaks' accounts after a governmental request and amazon.com because it took down the Wikileaks website when it was hosted on Amazon's servers, citing a terms of service violation, the Star Tribune reports.

CNN reports in a different article that the attacks have been largely unsuccessful. Mastercard's was the only website of those targeted to actually go down for any determinate amount of time, and it appears from the lack of user complaints that the others continued to operate smoothly.

Even so, Anonymous is not resting on their laurels. Wired News reports that since last night a website version of Anonymous's application has gone up, allowing anyone with the most basic knowledge of how to operate a computer to collaborate in the assault.

Important to note is that the website does not incorporate any means of IP address masking, which means that anything a particular machine does through it is entirely traceable. This is of particular concern since three people have been arrested in connection with the attacks and two convicted, Wired reports.

Russian Government Called Into Question by Wikileaks

Russia joins the governments across the world scrambling to do whatever damage control they can in the aftermath of Wikileaks's posting of hundreds of leaked classified cable communications.

Sky News reports that a communication sent from a foreign correspondent back to Washington states that the considers the governments of Chechnya, Belarus, and Russia to be virtual "mafia states", not only allowing organized crime to flourish but utilizing its services to meet ends that the government cannot.

"The government of Russia's strategy is to use organized crime groups to do whatever the government of Russia cannot acceptably do," the correspondent wrote. This implies corruption that reaches above the mere existence of a mafia group to actual governmental participation in its actions.

CNN reports that Moscow was right in the thick of it, too. The cables revealed that there were bribes being paid up a chain from the rank and file criminals to the local government, eventually reaching the mayor and eventually the Kremlin itself.

Though these cables show such corrupt practices running rampant, there are frustratingly enough no concrete ties to the highest administration that could lead to changes in leadership. Putin has been active in the media denying any charges that the cables level against his government, saying that democracy is alive and well in Russia, CNN reports.

Russian Government Called Into Question by Wikileaks

Russia joins the governments across the world scrambling to do whatever damage control they can in the aftermath of Wikileaks's posting of hundreds of leaked classified cable communications.

Sky News reports that a communication sent from a foreign correspondent back to Washington states that the considers the governments of Chechnya, Belarus, and Russia to be virtual "mafia states", not only allowing organized crime to flourish but utilizing its services to meet ends that the government cannot.

"The government of Russia's strategy is to use organized crime groups to do whatever the government of Russia cannot acceptably do," the correspondent wrote. This implies corruption that reaches above the mere existence of a mafia group to actual governmental participation in its actions.

CNN reports that Moscow was right in the thick of it, too. The cables revealed that there were bribes being paid up a chain from the rank and file criminals to the local government, eventually reaching the mayor and eventually the Kremlin itself.

Though these cables show such corrupt practices running rampant, there are frustratingly enough no concrete ties to the highest administration that could lead to changes in leadership. Putin has been active in the media denying any charges that the cables level against his government, saying that democracy is alive and well in Russia, CNN reports.

Tuberculosis Still a Problem for Developing India

Though the medical revolution and affluence of the west have all but eliminated one of the world's deadliest diseases from the public eye, tuberculosis still poses a massive problem and a deadly threat in developing nations like India.

The New Yorker reports that each year nearly two million new cases are reported, with about 1000 people dying each day from the disease. These numbers are higher in India than anywhere else in the world. Beyond the sheer volume of the death toll, tuberculosis is the leading killer of the main workhorse of the labor force - those between the ages of 15 and 45.

Despite the severity of the disease the real problem with tuberculosis is not, in fact, medicating it, the New Yorker said. Though far from quick or painless, several effective channels of treatment in the form of antibiotic batteries have been developed. What poses a much larger problem than curing TB is correctly diagnosing it.

According to the New Yorker, the tests that are currently used to determine TB infection look for antibodies designed to fight the disease present in a patient's body. The great majority of cases, however, are entirely dormant and never manifest into a full-blown infection, the New Yorker said. This leads to countless cases of people with the antibodies for fighting TB but not an active instance of the disease unnecessarily following the lengthy drug regimen to cure it. All this does is strengthen the resistant strains so that medicating it in the future becomes more and more difficult.

Beyond the problems inherent to the disease itself, many of India's problems with it stem from how TB is being addressed (and taken advantage of) by its people. Hospitals, the New Yorker reported, are constantly swamped with patients. So many flock to them for care that there is no hope of treating all who request it. Luckily, they don't have to because the crooked doctors refer as many people as possible to their own private practices.

Instead of using the hospital's $50,000 machine to successfully and accurately diagnose TB with relative ease, these doctors push people with no other option into a health care black market. Here, the doctors are entitled to a massive cut of all the costs that the patient accrues for treatment and they don't have to worry about government regulations on the safety or sterility of their procedures, the New Yorker said.

Those in charge of India's health care and fighting TB still maintain hope even in light of the country's terrible health crisis. New technology developed in the US originally for detecting biological pathogens sent through mail has been augmented to produce reliable test results in a mere two hours.

"Which of you are sick? We need to know," Camilla Rodrigues, who runs the microbiology department at Mumbai's Hinduja Hospital, said. "And finally, after more than a century we can know. At this point, it is just a matter of will"

Victory Over al-Qaeda Not Possible, UK Force Chief Says

Gen. David Richards, the new chief of Britain's armed forces, told The BBC Sunday that victory in the strictest sense of the word was unnecessary, and beyond that, not possible.

The BBC reported Richards said that a clear-cut victory over the militants is not an achievable goal. This line of reasoning would have been billed as extremely pessimistic just a few years ago, but the events that have transpired in the embattled middle east since then have led to a moderation of thought.

This hardly means that he proposes that the group be left to their own devices unchecked. He rather realizes that the extremism that leads an individual to violence is an offshoot of a milder form of thought. "I don't think you can probably defeat an idea," Richards told the BBC. "It's something we need to battle back against as necessary, but in its milder forms why shouldn't they be allowed to have that sort of philosophy underpinning their lives?"

CNN reported, however, that Richards says that he truly thinks Britain's sacrifice thus far in the conflict to be worthwhile, and that they are meeting with some success. He stated that the Afghan people do not wish for the return of the Taliban, and that as a part of the removal of the regime Britain has a responsibility to ensure that the country has a government to replace it.

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