Category Archives: International

World News Legal developments from around the world. The following is a collection of the most recent posts from other blogs addressing topics of international law.

The Mafia Runs Guns for ISIS in Europe

The mobsters have the weapons, and they’re making a killing selling them off to Islamic radicals.

CASTEL VOLTURNO, Italy — By the time Aziz Ehsan, a 46-year-old Iraqi, was arrested near Naples on Tuesday, local anti-mafia police had already been trailing him for days to determine just why he was in the heartland of the Camorra crime syndicate’s territory. He was well known by both the French and Belgian secret services, which list him as a suspected ISIS contact. The Neapolitan cops were also aware of an international arrest warrant for him in Switzerland, where he was wanted in connection with a variety of offenses, including forgery, assault, and possession of illegal weapons.

He was apparently just the type of person Italian authorities thought might provide a valuable clue as they work to piece together the details of the complex relationshipbetween Jihadist fighters and Italy’s various mobs.

But when the attacks took place in Brussels, the authorities decided it was time to move in and get him. He was arrested as he slept in a car with Italian license plates registered to a deceased man on Tuesday and is awaiting extradition to Switzerland, France, or Belgium.

He claimed that he was in the area to scout out luxury hotels for rich Iraqi tourists, but the police didn’t buy it; he appeared to have been living in the car for days. They also pointed to an absence of notebooks, a laptop, or tablet—items you’d think to bring on a research trip. His no-frills, no contract “burner” cellphone, like the kind favored by Western jihadis, was another sign that Ehsan wasn’t in the region to see which five-star hotels offered the best glass of Limoncello.

“We executed a European arrest warrant near Naples and arrested an Iraqi citizen known to the Belgian and French secret service,” Italy’s interior minister Angelino Alfano declared after his arrest. “He was in contact with terrorists.”

Ehsan’s presence in Italy very likely posed no imminent threat to anyone in this country, but it may be extremely significant in Europe’s losing battle against ISIS-motivated terrorism. Authorities now want to know if Ehsan was here on business, especially if he was working with the Camorra to secure false documents or illegal arms—both big moneymakers for the Neapolitan clans.

Since the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in January 2015, Italian anti-mafia and anti-terrorism officials have been unraveling long-standing connections between Jihadi fighters and the Camorra in Naples. They have also uncovered ties to the Sicilian Cosa Nostra Mafia and the Calabrese ‘Ndrangheta gang, tracing weapons being trafficked in from the former Yugoslavia and several African nations which allegedly arrive easily in Neapolitan ports.

Italian anti-mafia police have made three major arrests in the last 12 months, during which they have confiscated major weapons arsenals that included Kalashnikov rifles, submachine guns, body armor, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition that were ready to be sold to terrorist connections. They even found a price list for a wide variety of weapons available for prices ranging from €250 to €3,000 that was printed in Arabic, French, and Italian.

“Naples has been, for many years, a central logistics base for the Middle East. The Camorra is also active in the world of Jihadist terrorism that passes through Naples,” Franco Roberti, a prominent anti-mafia prosecutor, told The Daily Beast before the Brussels attacks. “Naples lends itself to this type of activity. In the past there have been contacts between Jihadi militants and the Camorra clans.”

He says that Italy’s mafia-fighting forces have “thwarted plots and synergies” between the terrorists and the mobsters. What’s not known, of course, is how many plots they’ve missed.

It is certainly a well-known fact that the Camorra runs a highly successful enterprise in the lawless Neapolitan hinterland running drugs, illegal arms and forged documents that make it especially easy for anyone entering Europe illegally to pass through even the tightest borders. It is just as well-known that the main client base has never been strictly Italian.

“We have evidence that groups of the Camorra are implicated in an exchange of weapons for drugs with terrorist groups,” Pierluigi Vigna, Italy’s national anti-mafia prosecutor, said before he passed away in 2012.

Vigna’s words were quoted in a variety of Wikileaks cables that imply that the United States government has been well aware of the terrorist-mafia connection for some time. “Criminal interaction between Italian organized crime and Islamic extremist groups provides potential terrorists with access to funding and logistical support from criminal organizations with established smuggling routes and an entrenched presence in the United States,” according to one cable on Italy penned by the FBI.

Investigators say logistics help in moving Jihadi fighters through Europe is one of the hardest rackets to crack. Last summer, Salah Abdeslam, who, until last week, was the most wanted man in Europe for his role in the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris, traveled freely through Italy with the help of a network of what could be referred to as mafia-sponsored terrorism travel agents.

Authorities in Italy say he boarded a ferry in Bari headed for Greece last August, and that he used a pre-paid Italian debit card until the Paris attacks. Authorities say he used his real name tied to fake Italian documents in both instances.

The idea of Europe’s most wanted man running free is concerning enough. But what is at least as worrying is that the weapons being trafficked into Italy will end up being used in European capitals. Michele del Prete, an Italian counter-terrorism official who has been focusing on the links between organized crime and violent jihadists, warns that the two forces of evil have found a comfortable partnership. “It is established and proven that the lawless climate in Naples has often created favorable conditions for logistical support, exchange of weapons, and false documents,” he said. “There are specialized groups we have tracked in various municipalities and prefectures that we know are facilitating terrorism.”

Investigator Roberti takes it a step further. “Campania, especially the province of Caserta and Castel Volturno, is one of the main gateways into Europe for those who want to become a terrorist,” he said. “It has been demonstrated by numerous investigations. On this now, there are no doubts.”

Read Full Article – http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/03/24/inside-the-mafia-isis-connection.html

Italian mafia earnings from drugs rival Fiat with cars

New Xarelto Claim That J&J and Bayer Lied

Posted by Shezad Malik MD JD
March 8, 2016 7:03 AM

According to bombshell revelations in the New York Times, did two major pharmaceutical companies, in an effort to protect their blockbuster drug, Xarelto, intentionally mislead editors at one of the world’s most prestigious medical journals?

Several thousand injured plaintiffs have filed personal injury and product liability claims against Johnson & Johnson and Bayer over the safety of its anti-clotting drug Xarelto.

Now plaintiffs claim that a letter published in The New England Journal of Medicine and written primarily by researchers at Duke University deliberately left out critical laboratory data. They claim the companies were complicit by staying silent, helping deceive the editors while the companies provided the very same data to regulators in the United States and Europe.

The New York Times article suggests that Bayer, Johnson & Johnson and those who ran clinical trials at Duke University that led to the FDA approval of the blood thinner, may have lied to editors at the New England Journal of Medicine.

Defective Medical Device Results Flawed

The heart of the controversy alleges that a key medical device that measures the levels of blood thinner in patients involved in the study was defective and that those running the clinical trial knew it, but failed to reveal that information.

The New York Times reports that documents produced by the drug makers during Xarelto lawsuits suggest that those running the clinical trial were asked if there were lab tests that confirmed the accuracy of the device. The editors were told there was not, when in actuality there were such tests.

It is now confirmed that the measuring device was defective and may have compromised the approval process for Xarelto, which has since been promoted as a superior alternative to warfarin.

Flawed Xarelto Medical Studies?

The Xarelto blood testing problems in the clinical trial were first reported in the medical journal The BMJ in December, with researchers warning that the device may have led to an underestimation of the rate of Xarelto bleeding complications in comparison to warfarin.

The ROCKET-AF clinical trials compared the rate of bleeding events between Xarelto (rivaroxaban) and Coumadin (warfarin). The potentially defective blood testing device, known as the INRatio by Alere, was used to measure the levels of warfarin in patients’ blood and was used to adjust their dosage. An INRatio recall has since been issued after it was discovered that the device may show results that were falsely low.

The recall could affect the ROCKET-AF results, because falsely low readings may have resulted in warfarin patients being given too high a dose, increasing their risk of bleeding. If the device caused excessive bleeding among warfarin patients, it could have given the false impression that Xarelto had a lower rate of bleeding problems.

The clinical trials, led by Dr. Robert Califf, who is now the FDA commissioner, have come under intense criticism since Xarelto was approved, as the drug has been linked to a shocking number of adverse event reports involving severe and uncontrollable bleeding problems. Due to a lack of a reversal agent for Xarelto, doctors have been unable to stop serious bleeding problems that occur, increasing the risk of severe injury or death.

Xarelto Lawsuits Over Bleeding Problems

Xarelto (rivaroxaban) is a new class of blood thinners released in recent years as a replacement for warfarin, which had been the gold standard blood thinner treatment for the past 60 years. Xarelto was approved in 2011, this new-generation treatment has been prescribed instead of warfarin to reduce the risk of blood clots and strokes among patients with atrial fibrillation, or following hip or knee replacement surgery.

Xarelto lawsuits, like http://sideeffectsofxarelto.org/xarelto-lawsuits/, allege that the drug makers provided false and misleading information about the importance of blood monitoring on Xarelto, marketing the drug as easier to use and indicating that it does not require close testing like warfarin. But, independent studies published after Xarelto was introduced have suggested that Xarelto monitoring may help identify patients at greater risk of bleeds.

Undue Big Pharma Influence

Big Pharma is the nickname given to the vast and influential pharmaceutical industry and its trade group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America or PhRMA. These powerful companies make billions of dollars every year by selling drugs and medical devices.

Pharmaceuticals are HUGE business and these Big Pharma” companies stand to reap billions of dollars over the life span of a block buster drug. Big Pharma industry influence has led to the concealment of critical unfavorable data or ghost written medical articles (written by industry insiders) — when crucial clinical data went missing from journal articles, leading to embarrassing corrections and ethics policies to limit the influence of drug companies on medical literature.

Xarelto Billion Dollar Block Buster

Xarelto, is sold in the United States by Johnson & Johnson and overseas by Bayer, had nearly $2 billion in United States sales last year and is the best seller in a new category of drugs seeking to replace warfarin.

Last week, lawyers in the case against Johnson & Johnson and Bayer filed a legal brief in federal court in New Orleans, asking a judge to unseal documents in the case, which involves more than 5,000 lawsuits filed by patients and their families who claim they were harmed by Xarelto. Of those, 500 involve patient deaths.

Dr. Steven Nissen, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, served on the Food and Drug Administration advisory panel that voted to approve Xarelto in 2011. He was one of two members who voted against the drug. He expressed doubt that any after-the-fact analysis would give doctors and patients answers. “Given the fact that the device was inaccurate, there is no way anybody can tell you what would have happened in the trial,” he said.

Read Full Article – http://fortworth.legalexaminer.com/fda-prescription-drugs/new-xarelto-claim-that-jj-and-bayer-lied/

MTA’s ban anti-Muslim ads on subway is legal, court rules

An appeals court judge has upheld a previous ruling that the MTA’s policy of refusing all political and religious ads in the transit system is legal, meaning the agency can continue to reject controversial posters by firebrand Pamela Geller and the anti-Muslim American Freedom law Center– for now.

Geller’s attorney had appealed Manhattan Federal judge John Koeltl’s ruling last June, in which he said “No law requires public transit agencies to accept political advertisements as a matter of course.”

But the appeals court says that, given that the MTA had changed it policy disallowing all political ads in the midst the legal battle, Geller and the AFLC’s initial arguments are now “moot.”

“AFDI is, of course, free to challenge the MTA’s new advertising standards, but it must do so through an amended complaint,” the ruling reads.

The case began in 2014, when Geller’s AFDI filed suit against the MTA for blocking it from purchasing Islam-bashing ads on city buses.

MTA officials said they are happy that the court took the agency’s side.

“The MTA is pleased by the Second Circuit’s decision, which reiterated that we have acted in good faith when balancing enforcement of our advertising regulations with respect for the First Amendment,” said MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg.

Sourced From – http://nypost.com/2016/03/03/mtas-ban-anti-muslim-ads-on-subway-is-legal-court-rules/

Brazil Facebook head arrested for refusing to share WhatsApp data

Police in Brazil have arrested the vice president of the social media company Facebook in Latin America.

Diego Dzodan, an Argentine national, has repeatedly refused to comply with court orders to hand over data for use in a criminal investigation into drugs trafficking, police said.

His arrest relates to the messaging service WhatsApp, owned by Facebook.

In a statement, Facebook called Mr Dzodan’s arrest an “extreme and disproportionate measure”.

Mr Dzodan’s arrest was ordered by a judge in the north-eastern state of Sergipe.

He was held as he left his house in an exclusive area of Sao Paulo on Tuesday morning.

Judge Marcel Maia Montalvao had in two previous instances issued fines against Facebook for refusing to release WhatsApp data.

The information was needed as part “secrete judicial investigations involving organised crime and drug trafficking,” he said.

In a statement, Facebook said it was “disappointed with the extreme and disproportionate measure”.

“Facebook has always been and will be available to address any questions Brazilian authorities may have,” the company said.

In December a judge in Brazil suspended WhatsApp for 48 hours.

The Sao Paulo state judge said at the time that the company failed to comply with court orders to share information in a criminal case.

Sourced from – http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-35700733