Illegal Organ Trade: India Kidney Scam Revealed

Police are investigating 10 private hospitals in Tamil Nadu for illegally removing kidneys from tsunami victims and impoverished textile workers, then selling them to patients from Sri Lanka, East Asia and "the Gulf," according to Indian media. The practice has been going on for "about six years," police told ADN Kronos. Some donors some claim they were tricked, or drugged and subjected to nonconsensual surgery. Police say victims of the scam are paid a "pittance," and that suspected hospitals may be falsifying records. Sources:
"India: 500 people sell kidneys in Tamil Nadu"
ADNKronos International/Asian Age, February 1, 2007
"Tamil Nadu kidney racket may be catering to foreigners"
Daily News & Analysis (India), January 23, 2007

Climate Change: The Global Warming Growth Industry

The worst weather may be a century away, but consumers and energy companies in coal-dependent Kentucky and Indiana may see early signs of climate change in their bank accounts. Officials say a push for cleaner power plants could triple energy bills there. In Texas, a predicted increase in drought conditions could cause the Colorado River and Rio Grande to dry up before they reach the coast, creating a desert in the west of the state and eliminating 40 percent of all crops. By 2050, some predict that oil tankers will be used to ship drinking water from New Zealand, Norway and Russia to thirsty parts of China, Australia, and the United States. Iceberg towing and chemical "cloud seeding" could become routine "if the money's right," one tanker owner told Reuters.

Top Stories: Feb. 1-7

Shiite Militia May Gain From Surge
American soldiers in Iraq say the Mahdi Army will only be strengthened by White House plans to boost troops levels there. The soldiers told a McClatchy Newspapers reporter that Shiite militants have "heavily" infiltrated Iraq's army and police, use U.S. training and supplies to stage death squad killings, and are waiting for an American withdrawal before launching a final attack on Sunnis to consolidate their hold on Baghdad. Humans Blamed for Indonesia Mud Volcano
More than 10,000 people have been made homeless so far by the slow but devastating eruption of a huge mud volcano. Scientists blame the tide of hot mud, which may continue for years, on botched gas- drilling by a company linked to an Indonesian government minister. Efforts to control the flood have so far proven futile.

SIDEBAR: Breast Cancer Risk Factors

• Part One: Cause & Controversy
• Part Two: A Plague of Neglect
• Sidebars: Risk Factors; Toxic Links; Long Island
• Printable: Download the magazine-style PDF

What causes breast cancer? Who's at risk, and why? These seem like simple questions. But the answers remain vexingly elusive. Talk to any credible researcher and you'll come up with a list of risk factors that can be counted on one hand -- indicating not only the extent of our knowledge, but also our lack of it.

SIDEBAR: Breast Cancer: Toxic Links

• Part One: Cause & Controversy
• Part Two: A Plague of Neglect
• Sidebars: Risk Factors; Toxic Links; Long Island
• Printable: Download the magazine-style PDF

No one is going to deny the cancer-causing potential of industrial, agricultural and consumer chemicals. What's at issue is actual human risk from exposure to these chemicals in our daily environment. And even if a chemical or substance has been proven to be harmful, there's no guarantee that a legislative body or regulatory agency will severely limit or ban its use. Consider the ongoing national debate over the sale and use of tobacco. "You have industries saying, 'we can't afford to meet this regulation and it'll put us out of business, you have to be a little bit more lax,'" said Allan Hirsch, spokesman for the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) in California.

SIDEBAR: The Lessons of Long Island

• Part One: Cause & Controversy
• Part Two: A Plague of Neglect
• Sidebars: Risk Factors; Toxic Links; Long Island
• Printable: Download the magazine-style PDF

Founded at the behest of Congress in 1993, the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project (nih.gov) was intended to deliver the definitive statement on environmental contaminants and high breast cancer rates -- exactly the sort of thing being demanded now in the Bay Area. The study grew to encompass 10 projects (nih.gov), adding up to more than $26 million in special grants and various local and federal agencies. Missing links

"I think this process will ultimately disclose the environmental links to cancer," said Karen Joy Miller, founder and president of Long Island's 4,000-member Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition. She already has her suspicions that it will prove to be "many things in combination, what we drink and what we breathe, things we use for our manicured lawns, our pesticides, our household cleaners ... We are doing it to ourselves."

For Blacks, Breast Cancer is a Plague of Neglect

• Part One: Cause & Controversy
• Part Two: A Plague of Neglect
• Sidebars: Risk Factors; Toxic Links; Long Island
• Printable: Download the magazine-style PDF

By Carl Hall, special to Newsdesk.org

Dr. Judith Luce, head of the community breast cancer treatment center at San Francisco General Hospital, took a rare break one recent spring day from one of the busiest caseloads in Bay Area health care. She spent a full hour outlining what she considers to be the real Bay Area cancer nightmare. It's not about Marin, Luce said, it's about women in areas such as predominantly African-American, low-income Bayview/Hunters Point (Yahoo map) in San Francisco. The San Francisco neighborhood is perhaps best known for the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, where residents suspect decades of miscellaneous dumping of cleaning chemicals, industrial solvents and other toxins nobody has fully cataloged. Cancer Cluster?

Breast Cancer’s Cause & Controversy

• Part One: Cause & Controversy
• Part Two: A Plague of Neglect
• Sidebars: Risk Factors; Toxic Links; Long Island
• Printable: Download the magazine-style PDF

By Carl Hall, special to Newsdesk.org

For Nancy Rubin, director of the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services, it's high time for some answers. "I am taking this really seriously because my community is taking it really seriously," she said. "I have a responsibility to the community. Pure and simple." Her community -- the overwhelmingly white, well-to-do population (marin.org/) of Marin County -- is rallying against what they perceive as a nationwide epidemic of breast cancer, one that is crashing down hardest on that idyllic stretch of forested countryside just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.