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Euthanasia Poll

Albanians in Kosovo are celebrating five years of independence from Serbia. But the conflict in the former Serbian province lingers, especially in the north – for example in the divided city of Mitrovica.A large fraction of the Serbs who live in the north of Kosovo and in the northern sector of the divided city of Mitrovica recognize neither the Kosovar government in Pristina, nor the citizens’ center that has opened here. It’s an attitude that receives backing from the Serbian government in Belgrade, which refuses to accept Kosovo’s independence.

“There is no rule of law here,” said Hodzic. The young woman is head of the local district government. “All that ongoing tension makes life here tiring,” she said.

Blocked bridge in Mitrovica, KosovoMitrovica’s impassable bridge is a metaphor for the ongoing conflict

Almost half of the population is unemployed and has to live off less than 2 euros a day. “We had really hoped for better opportunities in the new state of Kosovo,” Rinor said. But as in the past, “the people of the old system” are in power.

“The only thing we have today is our independence,” Rinor concluded.

“Local judges are under pressure from politicians, but EULEX is under pressure from Brussels,” explains Shpend Kursani, a Kosovar researcher working for the KIPRED Institute and the author of a report on the European mission. “If stability and the objective of dialogue are endangered by investigations, the office of Baroness Ashton [the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs] would say something.” In the absence of better options, Hashim Thaci is the man backed by the West.

All the more so because there is a lack of political personnel. After the war, the higher echelons of the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK), who were still young, took power. The rule of law and the well-being of the population have remained abstractions.

“Only the small fish go to prison, not the sharks,” insists Albin Kurti, leader of the nationalist movement Vetëvendosje. He wants European teachers and doctors instead of judges and policemen brought to the country. NGO leader,Avni Zogiani shares his doubts about the motives of EULEX. “We gave them files of evidence,” says the director of COHU, an anti-corruption watchdog. They conducted investigations, but there were no charges. EULEX has decided to grant impunity to members of the elite who demonstrate their obedience.”


THE federal government says whaling by Japan is illegal wherever it happens, after a large whale was harpooned in Australian waters.

Anti-whaling activists at Sea Shepherd said Japanese whalers killed a large minke whale yesterday in Australian waters off Antarctica near the Davis Research Base.

“That’s why we have taken Japan to the International Court of Justice

“Could you imagine what a boost to Japanese whaling it would be if there was an Australian vessel just watching on and nodding,” Mr Burke said.

“It’s much better that we have taken the legal action that we have taken, that we are in the International Court of Justice, that we are getting closer and closer to decision day there.”

A FEDERAL Court decision highlights the need for patent laws to be changed so corporations can’t monopolise genetic material needed to detect and treat cancer, the Cancer Council says.

In the Federal Court on Friday, Brisbane woman Yvonne D’Arcy and Cancer Voices Australia lost their fight against the patenting of a human gene linked to breast and ovarian cancer.

Theby brought their action against Myriad Genetics Inc, the owner of the patent, and Melbourne-based Genetic Technologies Ltd, which holds the exclusive licence to conduct the tests in Australia.

Cancer Council chief Ian Olver said the ruling “reflected a lack of progress in patent law, which was based on centuries-old principles but being applied to rapidly changing technology”.

“If we don’t change the law now to protect the community from gene monopolies … a handful of commercial interests (will own) the genetic materials essential to cancer detection and treatment,” Professor Olver said.

He thanked Ms D’Arcy for launching the legal challenge and said he expected more challenges against biotechnology companies from consumers “until the law is changed”.

Prof Olver said patents shouldn’t be granted over genes as their discovery was not an invention.

If companies were able to patent genes it could create a monopoly and stymie research.

“The benefit in not being able to patent the gene is that you have a whole lot of companies competing for research to look for new cancer treatments and new cancer tests,” Prof Olver told AAP on Friday.

“The issue is that we may be slowing down potentially useful research.”

Monopolies will also allow patent owners to profit from treatments and tests, he said.

The Australian 15/2/2013

The Federal Court has ruled that human genes can be patented by private companies. A cancer support group launched the action against a biotechnology company, challenging a patent the company owned genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer.

A cancer support group launched the action against a biotech company, challenging a patent the company owned genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer.

The group, Cancer Voices Australia, argued that the patent should be ruled out because the genes exist in nature and so were discovered, not invented.

The court disagreed, ruling because the genetic material needs to be extracted from the body to be tested, the patent did apply.

In 2003 and again in 2008, Genetic Technologies sent legal threats to those organisations for running the cancer tests.

Genetic Technology withdrew threats of legal action after a public outcry, but now the Federal Court has ruled the patent is valid, legal action remains a possibility.

In the United States, parts of the BRCA-1 patent will start to expire in 2014, but that hasn’t stopped Myriad Genetics fighting a similar case in front of the US Supreme Court.

That’s because the case will also decide the broader question of whether private companies can own bits of what makes up a human.

Medical research is increasingly entering the arena of genetic therapies and using targeted treatments for everything from cancer to heart disease to diabetes.

Professor Ian Olver, the chief executive of the Cancer Council, says human gene patents is an issue policy makers need to visit again soon.

IAN OLVER: In cancer, a lot of the new tests and a lot of the new treatments are going to be related to genes and we were very keen to see this issue sorted out before we literally have hundreds of these new drugs and tests come down the pipeline.

ABC PM 15/2/2013

More patents over human genetic material could be granted after a landmark ruling in the federal court in Sydney on Friday morning.

Federal court Justice John Nicholas has ruled that a private company can continue to hold a patent over the so-called breast cancer gene BRCA1, in a decision that has devastated cancer victims.

The decision is the first in Australia to rule on whether isolated genes can be patented, and will set a precedent in favour of commercial ownership of genetic material.

Rebecca Gilsenan, the principal lawyer at Maurice Blackburn, said the company had argued that isolating a gene did not constitute manufacturing a new invention, and so should not qualify for a patent.

“We argued that isolated genetic material is not an invention but is naturally occurring,” Ms Gilsenan said. “The ruling … has far reaching consequences for future medical research and genetic testing.”

Myriad Genetics had defended its patent rights in the Australian case.

In the US, where the case against the BRCA1 patent is also being fought, there have been several decisions and appeals.

The US Supreme Court will again consider the case in its current session, meaning a hearing is expected before the middle of the year.

Sydney morning Herald 15/2/2013