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Terrorist Use of Weapons of Mass Destruction: A Reality to Come?

Weapons of mass destruction (WMDs or CBRN) are undeniably a terrifying thing. Some of them have the capability of indiscriminately killing dozens, some hundreds and some even millions. Although CBRN terrorism has been widely considered only a low probability risk,[2] the possible high consequences of a successful attack has still kept many policy-makers awake at night. Preventing CBRN terrorism has been a constant aim of numerous official security doctrines across the world.

There have been so far only a handful of terrorist incidents involving chemical, biological or radiological weapons, and none concerning nuclear weapons. To name a few, the Rajneeshee cult poisoned salad bars with salmonella in a small town in Oregon in 1984,[4] Chechen terrorists placed, but did not detonate a dirty bomb at a park in Moscow in 1996,[5] and Aum Shinrikyo repeatedly used botulinum toxin, sarin and VX in the early 1990s.[6] Fortunately, no terrorists were ever successful in using these weapons in an effective way.

However, this historic experience does not mean CBRN attacks cannot become a more common and deadly phenomenon. This essay will analyse whether the security threat of CBRN terrorism has increased over the years and how much. This essay will particularly assess the motivation of the fourth wave of terrorism and the overall accessibility of CBRN weapons. In essence, this essay argues that the overall threat has increased indeed, but it still belongs in the ‘low risk-high consequence’ category.

Motivation: Organizations Willing to Use CBRN Weapons

Building on David Rapoport’s scheme, a close analysis of the four waves of terrorism shows that only the last one has a true motivation to use CBRN weapons. The first wave, represented by anarchist movements, never attempted to use CBRN weapons. During the second wave, the ethno-separatist, only the Tamil Tigers used chemical weapons, but only in battlefield use against armed forces. Neither did the third, left-wing wave used CBRN weapons, even though there have been some allegations. However, the current fourth wave is diametrically different from the previous three.

One of the usual suspects is Al Qaeda. The group, its affiliates and the global Salafi jihadist movement in general perceive the world only in shades of black or white. That enables Al Qaeda terrorists and perhaps even motivates them to kill their adversaries en masse and indiscriminately, not excluding civilians. Furthermore, Al Qaeda has openly claimed the divine right to kill four million Americans. It seems difficult to imagine Al Qaeda or one of its affiliates would not use CBRN weapons if had the opportunity.

Al Qaeda actually tried to buy a nuclear warhead on the black market in the late 1990s. Ahmed Ressam, an Al Qaeda member and known as ‘the millennium bomber’, claims that the organization has been training its operatives in Afghanistan how to use chemical weapons. Furthermore, its Iraqi branch, the predecessor of the Islamic State (ISIS), remains the main suspect of more than a dozen of car bombings enhanced with chlorine gas in 2007.

The Islamic State has repeatedly shown that it is willing to use all means necessary to achieve its aim. In 2006, it started a sectarian war against the Shia by bombing the al-Askari Mosque in Samarra. Now, it seeks to defend and expand its current territory in lands formerly known as Syria, Iraq and Libya, even by using chemical weapons, as Baghdad claims.

One should not underestimate terrorist organizations coming from other religions. After all, the most active user of CBRN weapons was Aum Shinrikyo. Similar religious sects, attempting to cause the Apocalypse with CBRN weapons, could theoretically originate anywhere.

Another possible CBRN terrorist category could be the radical right-wing. Similarly to religious extremists, the far-right perceives the world in black and white, it does not avoid using violence against members of other communities it deems inferior, and it is prepared to take justice into its own hands if the government fails to act accordingly. The extreme right-wing is non-violent now, but it has the potential to become a serious security threat if it came to the conclusion that it cannot force political changes by peaceful means.

In Europe, the right-wing with the greatest potential for the future can be seen in the current anti-Islam movement, represented for instance by the English Defence League and German Pegida. In the United States, CBRN terrorism seems the most probable coming from the local militias, which consist in total of approximately five million paramilitary-trained members. In 1985, U.S. authorities seized illegal guns and ammunition, automatic rifles, hand grenades, a light anti-tank weapon, and 43 gallons of potassium cyanide at a headquarters of an Arkansan militia, to name just a single example to demonstrate the security hazard.

Capability: Accessibility of CBRN Weapons

Accessibility of chemical weapons can be assessed as fairly easy. Chemical components to dangerous agents can usually be easily found on the open market. Experts deem the nerve agent tabun to be the easiest to make and a skilled chemist could prepare sarin in his own kitchen as its components can be found for instance in gasoline additives, paint solvents and antiseptics. As for the laboratory equipment, it gets cheaper and more accessible every year, like it is with all modern technology. Aum Shinrikyo worked for years with dual-use equipment without raising suspicion.

The more difficult task, when it comes to chemical weapons, is the dispersion. If aerosol is prepared poorly, it will not cause many casualties. Thus terrorists might prefer to steal already weaponized and tested chemical weapons. Because of the Arab Spring, this task might be easier than ever before. The revolutionary wave destabilized particularly Libya, Egypt, Syria and Iraq. Unfortunately, these countries also had active chemical programmes in the past. Troublesome could be especially Iraq because Saddam-era chemical weapons were found in recent years and no one can tell if there are more to be found.

The same problem is regarding biological weapons as Libya, Egypt and Iraq had invested into researching biological warfare as well. As for acquiring non-weaponized agents, some are extremely easy to make, particularly toxins like botulinum and ricin. Terrorists may be also very interested into anthrax, which was demonstrated by Aum Shinrikyo or Bruce Edwards Ivins. As it was with chemical weapons, dual-use laboratory equipment would suit terrorists the best and the greatest challenge lies within the delivery mechanism.

Radiological weapons are arguably the easiest to obtain and weaponize. Nine isotopes are considered a high security risk should they lose physical protection or become abandoned. Three of them (caesium-137, cobalt-60 and iridium-192) are strong gamma emitters which can be easily found in standard hospital or mining equipment.

A terrorist can either simply attach the source to a conventional explosive, which is generally known as the dirty bomb. While panic and some economic damage would be guaranteed, experts doubt this kind of attack would cause many casualties.[33] Another option would be to disperse the radiological source in the form of aerosol, which would be more lethal, but it again requires a sophisticated dispersal device. Furthermore, the perspective of people dying weeks, months or even years after the initial attack due to cancer does not seem too dramatic, which is something terrorists usually crave for.

While nuclear weapons might be the most desired CBRN weapon, they are by all means the most difficult to obtain. Because the implosion device is a tremendously complex mechanism, terrorists are indefinitely more likely to use the much simpler gun-type design, if they ever acquired at least 55 kilograms of high enriched uranium (HEU). The IAEA registered only sixteen incidents involving HEU or plutonium with the total weight being not even close to the needed mass. Extreme security measures have so far served as a sufficient deterrent against nuclear terrorism.

Conclusion

The overall threat of terrorists using weapons of mass destruction has clearly increased over the years. The fourth wave of terrorism, represented by Salafi jihadists, apocalyptic religious cults and the extreme right-wing, has little respect for life of everyone who does not share their beliefs. This black and white perspective of the world helps them justify killing of civilians in large numbers.

Chemical and biological weapons are the most likely CBRN weapons to be used. First, some chemical and biological agents or their components are accessible on the free market. Second, laboratory equipment gets cheaper every year. And finally, the Arab Spring severely destabilized several countries which had chemical and biological weapons. On the other hand, radiological and nuclear weapons do not seem likely to be used by terrorists in the near future. The former for its ineffectiveness and the latter for its complexity and inaccessibility of fissile material.

However, it would still seem farfetched to claim that CBRN terrorism would become an increasingly common phenomenon in the future. Although the overall threat of chemical and biological terrorism is definitely much higher than a decade or two ago, it is still quite difficult to access the required agents in sufficient numbers, weaponize them and acquire an effective dispersal device, especially without gaining attention of the authorities and intelligence services.

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Feature: Buddhism's pedophile monks

UPI

WASHINGTON, May 1 (UPI) -- Sex between clergymen and boys is by no means a uniquely Catholic phenomenon, a noted American scholar said Wednesday -- it's been going on in Buddhist monasteries in Asia for centuries.

"Of course, this is against the Buddhist canon," Leonard Zwilling of the University of Wisconsin in Madison told United Press International, "but it has been common in Tibet, China, Japan and elsewhere."

"In fact, when the Jesuits arrived in China and Japan in the 16th century, they were horrified by the formalized relationships between Buddhist monks and novices who were still children. These relationships clearly broke the celibacy rule," said Zwilling, who has written extensively about this topic for more than three decades, and was one of the first to do so.

Zwilling, who holds a doctoral degree in Buddhist studies said in a telephone interview this practice continued until well into 20th century.

Although the Buddha clearly proscribed sex of any kind in monasteries, "we know of incidents where members of the Bob-Dob, an order enforcing discipline among Tibetan monks, fought each other over boys," continued Zwilling.

"They clobbered each other with huge keys that were the tools of their trade. We also know that generations of Dalai Lamas had their 'favorites,' although we have no proof that these relationships were sexual."

Other studies show that Buddhist monks in Japan practiced a non-sexual form of "pedophilia" as long ago as the 10th century, according to Minnesota-based Ralph Underwager, a pastor, psychologist and one of the world's leading experts on child abuse.

In an interview with Paidika, a scholarly journal specializing in the phenomenon, Underwager and his associate Hollida Wakefield pointed out that "the concept of Platonic love as an asexual affection is describing pedophilia."

Underwager and Wakefield explained that the Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato, Sophocles, Aristotle, the playwright Aristophanes and the statesman-soldier Alcibiades "all claimed that love motivated pedophilia."

But if they did, it wasn't in the sense of sex.

According to Zwilling, monks having engaged in "sex with penetration and ejaculation" face expulsion from the Sangha, the monastic order that along with the Buddha and the Dharma (teaching) is part of Buddhism's three-fold refuge.

"This is true whether a monk has broken his vow of chastity with a woman, a man or a child," Zwilling said. "The punishment will be less severe if there were no penetration or ejaculation."

In that case, the offender would only be disciplined, perhaps demoted in rank, but not evicted from the monastery, the scholar explained.

"Actually, pedophilia is hardly mentioned in Buddhism's canonical writings," he went on. "I have only come across one passage describing the fate of a man who loved boys. He went to hell and came to a river filled with acid -- and boys swimming it. They were in agony.

"Out of his love for the children, the man jumped in -- and had to suffer their pain."

Peter A. Jackson, a renowned Australian researcher on Buddhism, has pointed out that in this faith all forms of sexuality and desire must be transcended in order to attain the religious goal of the extinction of suffering.

Citing the Vinaya, Theravada Buddhism's monastic code of conduct, Jackson wrote, "Whichever monk has sexual intercourse is ... a defeated one, and will not find communion (in the Sangha)."

The Vinaya is very explicit in condemning sexual misconduct, including auto-sodomy (one of its chapters is titled, "The Case of the Monk with a Long Penis"). It does not single out homosexuality, though, which is treated as a third gender in ancient Buddhist writings, said Zwilling.

However, the Vinaya does relate that already some 2,500 years ago, the outrageous behavior of one "pandaka" (homosexual, in Pali, the sacred language of Theravada Buddhism), has prompted the Buddha to ban the ordination of such men.

The story reads thus:

"The pandaka had been ordained in a residence of monks. He went to the young monks and encouraged them thus, 'Come all of you and assault me.'

"The monks spoke aggressively, 'Pandaka, you will surely be ... spiritually destroyed. Of what benefit will it be?" ... He went to some large, stout novices and encouraged them thus, 'Come all of you and assault me.'

The novices spoke, 'Pandaka, you will surely be destroyed. Of what benefit will it be?'

"The pandaka then went to men who tend elephants and horses and spoke to them thus. 'Come all of you and assault me.' The men who tend elephants and horses assaulted him.

"The Blessed One then ordered the monks, 'Behold monks, a pandaka is one who is not to be ordained, ... and (pandakas) who have already been ordained must be made to disrobe.'"

According to Zwilling, homosexual behavior may not land a Buddhist layman in hell. That kind of fate is reserved for adulterers and rapists. On the other hand, a homosexual orientation is an extended form of punishment for those who in a previous life have committed such sins.

Prasok, a celebrated Thai newspaper columnist writing on Buddhism, related that this was the fate of the Buddha's personal attendant, Phra Ananda.

Wrote Prasok, "The reason he was born a kathoey (Thai for homosexual) was because in a previous life he had committed the sin of adultery. This led him to stew in hell for tens of thousands of years.

"After he was freed from hell, a portion of his old karma still remained and led him to being reborn as kathoey for many hundreds of lives."

While this may sound a rather severe punishment for a sexual transgression, Buddhism may have something even worse in store for an unfaithful husband, Zwilling told UPI: "He could be reborn as a woman."

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50 Lashes for Moroccan Woman in Saudi Arabia for “Prostitution Charges”

The Moroccan Times

According the Arabic outlet Erem News, a 40-year-old Moroccan woman was sentenced by the Saudi authorities to 50 lashes and then to be deported back to Morocco after a Saudi man reported her to the country’s Islamic religious police, following a Whatsapp conversation in which the Saudi man said “she offered herself to him for SAR 500, equivalent to around U.S.$ 130.

The Saudi Islamic religious police then staged a date-meeting for the man in question.

As soon as the trick worked, the Moroccan woman was arrested.

After that an initial investigation was conducted by the Saudi authorities, the Moroccan woman admitted offering herself to Saudi Arabian men in exchange of money, adding that her dire need for money led her to prostitution.

The Moroccan woman was sentenced to 50 lashes and to be deported afterwards to Morocco.

It is worth reminding that it is a common practice for the Moroccan authorities to arrest Khalijis red-handed committing adultery, let alone adhering to prostitution in Morocco.

Most Saudis who adhere to prostitution in Morocco barely get meager prison sentences [in Morocco], and the Saudi authorities close both eyes on their cases once they return to their home countries.

Such cases have always sparked controversy in regards to this “discrimination” and many Human Right bodies including Amnesty International, have called for a moratorium on this, including a call to immediately stop such practices.

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Stacey Solomon admits she worried about her vagina after giving birth to two boys

Ruth Langsford, Coleen Nolan, Nadia Sawalha and Stacey were discussing Rebekah Vardy’s brave post-baby body pictures when the conversation moved onto how childbirth affects other parts of your body.

Speaking about her body changed after having her children, Leighton and Zachary, Stacey opened up about how childbirth affected more intimate parts of her anatomy.

She said: “I was really worried about that, I’ve pushed two children out of here you know, what’s left of it?

“I was more worried about that than this,” she said pointing to her midriff.

She continued: “This can’t do whatever it wants,” before pointing to her nether regions and saying: “but I want THIS to be good”.

“I don’t want to have a baby shaped hole.”

Nadia agreed and said: “Let’s be honest, if you have a vaginal birth, it does go a bit doo lally”.

When asked if she thought about having a vaginoplasty, she laughed and said: “I have on occasion thought if I could do it on my lunch break and no one would know, it would be nice to feel a bit more normal.”

Ruth admitted she was shocked by the changes in her body after giving birth to her son Jack with husband Eamonn Holmes.

She said: “No one told me that the belly doesn’t go away straight away. I put on three and a half stone because I lived on carbohydrates and I took ages to lose my baby weight. It was like jelly, it moved on its own.”

Mum-of-three Coleen said: “I liked my flabby tummy after they were born, it was like a marshmallow.

“I was ginormous with all three, when I was five months pregnant with Ciara they brought me in for a scan because they thought it was twins but she was just that big.”

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4 Deadliest Chemical Weapons

During the World War I, a new, deadly type of weapon was used for the first time; toxic gas. Considered uncivilised prior to the war, the development and military usage of poisonous gas grenades was soon called for by the demands of both sides to find a new way to overcome the stalemate of unforeseen trench warfare.

First used at the Second Battle of Ypres on 22 April 1915, cylinders filled with toxic gas soon became one of the most devastating and effective weapons used in the entire Great War, killing more than 90,000 soldiers and injuring about 1.25 million. In this article, we are going to explore the 4 of most deadly chemical weapons ever conceived, their history, usage, and effects on the human beings.

4.Mustard Gas(Yperite)

While Germans were releasing the mustard gas in year 1917 near the Belgian city of Ypres for the first time, chemist Frederic Guthrie was most likely turning in his grave. In year 1860, this British professor discovered the mustard gas, and also experienced its toxic effects first-hand for the first time. 57 years later, after its first military usage at Ypres, it got its infamous nickname, Yperite.

In the beginning, Germans planned to use the mustard gas only as a paralyzing agent. However, they soon found out, that when in sufficient concentrations, this gas could be easily lethal to the majority of the enemy soldiers.

Due to its dangerous properties, mustard gas soon became a popular chemical weapon, used in WWII, during the North Yemen Civil War, and even by Saddam Husein in year 1988. Even 150 years after its discovery, antidote is still to be discovered.

Pure mustard gas is colourless, oily liquid at room temperature. When used in its impure form, as warfare agent, it is usually green-brown in color and has an specific odor resembling mustard or garlic, hence the name. Yperite fumes are more than 6 times heavier than air, staying near the ground for several hours, effectively filling and contaminating enemy’s trenches, and killing everyone without proper protection.

Lethal dose for an adult man weighing 160 lbs is approximately 7,5 g of liquid mustard gas, when in contact with his skin for several minutes. However, when used in its gaseous form, lethality greatly depends on its concentration and on the length of exposure. Gas mask is usually not enough to be protected from this gas; it can easily penetrate the skin and kill the victim from inside. It easily passes through most of the clothes, shoes or other materials. For instance, standard rubber gloves could protect the skin for only about ten minutes.

4 or 6 hours after exposure, burning sensation appears in the affected areas, followed by reddening of the skin. After next 16 hours, large blisters appear on the affected skin, subsequently causing severe scarring and sometimes even necrosis. If the eyes were affected, temporary or permanent blindness typically occurs after few days.

When inhaled, first symptoms start to manifest themselves after several hours, starting with chest pain, bloody coughing and vomiting, followed by muscle spasms. Death usually occurs within 3 days, caused either by lung edema or heart failure.

3.Phosgene

In year 1812, 22-year old British amateur chemist John Davy syntetized the phosgene gas for the first time. However, it didn’t contain any phosphorus, its name was derived from greek words phos(light) and gennesis(birth). John Davy probably assumed that his invention would be used in a more sensible way, however, on 9.th of December, 88 tons of phosgene were released during the trench warfare in France, killing 69 men and seriously injuring more then 1,200.

Germans were satisfied by the results, so they soon started using grenades filled by phosgene in combat. It accounts for more than 60% of all deaths caused by the chemical warfare during the First World War, more than chlorine and mustard gas combined.

During the Second World War, most soldiers were well-prepared for the possible use of this deadly gas, so the casualties were nowhere that high. However, phosgene-filled grenades used during the 1942 Battle of Kerch by Nazi Germany allegedly injured at least 10,000 Soviet soldiers.

Which deadly properties does this gas possess? At low temperatures, it is a colourless liquid. However, when heated to more than 8 degrees celsius, it evaporates quickly. Its odor has been often described by the survivors as pleasant, similar to newly mown hay or wet grass. After release, it contaminates the area for about 10 minutes, double the time in the winter. When compared to chlorine, phosgene has a major advantage; first symptoms start to manifest themselves after much longer time period, usually after more than five minutes, allowing more phosgene to be inhaled.

After one inhales high concentrations of this lethal gas, his chances of survival are very mild. After few minutes, he is likely to die of suffocation, because phosgene aggresively disrupts the blood-air barrier in the lungs.

After inhaling less concentrated phosgene, you might be little bit better off. One hour after exposure, first symptoms include strong burning sensation in pharynx and trachea, severe headache and vomiting, followed by pulmonary edema(swelling and fluid buildup), which often leads to suffocation.

To this day, phosgene remains one of the most dangerous chemical weapons in the world. Although not as deadly as sarin or nerve gas, it is very easy to manufacture; no wonder it’s often used during terrorist attacks. Homemade phosgene grenade can be easily created by exposing a bottle of chloroform to UV-light source for a few days.

2.Sarin

If previous two chemicals weren’t dangerous enough, here comes the sarin, often known as the most powerful of all nerve agents.

Sarin was developed back in 1938 by a group of 4 German scientists, Scharder, Ambros, Rudiger and van der Linde, during their research of pesticides. During the WWII, this deadly gas was first used by the Nazi Germany in June 1942. At the end of the war, Germany allegedly possessed more than 10 tons of sarin.

However, it is most famous for being used during the 1995 terrorist attack on the Tokio subway by a Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo, killing 13 people and allegedly injuring more than 5,000. It was also used back in August 2013 by al-Assad’s forces in Ghouta, Syria, killing more than 1,700 people.

Sarin belongs to the group of nerve gasses, the deadliest of all toxic gasses used in chemical warfare. It is highly toxic; a single drop of sarin the size of the head of a pin is enough to kill an adult human. In addition, most of the victims usually die few minutes after contamination.

It usually enters the organism via respiration, but it can also penetrate the skin or be ingested. In home temperature, sarin is a colourless liquid without significant odor, similar to water. However, when exposed to higher temperatures, it starts to evaporate, being still odorless. After release, it often remains deadly for more than 24 hours.

Immediately after exposure, first symptoms include strong headaches, increased salivation and lacrimation(secretion of tears), followed by gradual paralysis of the muscles. Death is caused by asphyxiation or heart failure.

According to some sources, Sarin is 500 times more deadly than kyanide, with its lethal dose being only about 800 micrograms. Only 5 tons of sarin, obiviously properly dosed, would be enough to wipe out entire humanity.

1.Agent Orange

This mixture of two herbicides, most famous for its usage in Vietnam War, is not a chemical weapon in the true sense of the word. It was discovered in year 1943 by American botanic Arthur Galston. In year 1951, further research started by the scientific team in the military base of Detrick, Maryland.

During the War of Vietnam, it was widely used for deforestation of the large areas covered by thick jungle, to enable easier and more effective bombing of enemy bases and supply routes. Although designed as herbicide, the Agent Orange also contained large amounts of dioxin, a highly toxic compound, making it one of the most deadly chemical weapons ever deployed.

In years 1962-1971, military operation with codenames ”Ranch Hand” or ”Trail Dust” took place in Southern Vietnam. During this operation, jungles in the region were heavily showered by this herbicide, primarily in the areas of Mekong delta. Mixture was storaged in orange barrels, hence the name ”Agent Orange”. During the operation, more than 20 million gallons of this dangerous chemical were used, destroying large areas of jungle, contaminating air, water and food sources.

In high concentrations, dioxin causes severe inflammation of skin, lungs and mucous tissues, sometimes resulting in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pulmonary edema, or even death, however, it also affects eyes, liver and kidneys. It is also highly effective carcinogen, known for causing laryngeal and lung cancer.

It is estimated, that the usage of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War led to more than 400,000 people being killed or maimed, and 500,000 children born with mild to severe birth defects as a result of contamination. Agent Orange alone killed 10 times more people than all other chemical weapons combined.

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Paralysed Italian DJ takes own life in Swiss clinic after fruitless euthanasia campaign in his native country

Fabiano Antoniani expressed frustration with his homeland shortly before triggering the lethal substance

Independent

A paralysed DJ ended his own life with the press of a button in Switzerland after a fruitless campaign for euthanasia in his native Italy.

Fabiano Antoniani died at a euthanasia facility in Forch after reportedly triggering the lethal substance.

The 40-year-old had campaigned for a change in the assisted suicide law in his homeland, but Italy's parliament had shelved the debate 11 times.

Former MEP and activist Marco Cappato, who travelled with Mr Antoniani to Switzerland, could face criminal charges after helping escort the musician to the facility.

Police have questioned him over the death, he said on Twitter.

Mr Antoniani was left blind and tetraplegic by car crash in 2014. The DJ dropped his phone while driving and smashed into the car in front of him as he tried to pick it up.

Also known as quadriplegia, Tetraplegia is paralysis caused by illness or injury that results in the partial or total loss of use of all four limbs and torso.

He appealed to Italy President Sergio Mattarella for the right to die, and shortly before his death, criticised the country for failing to pass laws allowing him to do so.

“Finally I am in Switzerland and, unfortunately, I got here on my own and not with the help of my country,” he said, in a message posted on social media shortly before his death.

“Fabo died at 11.40am. He decided to pass away, respecting the rules of a country which is not his own,” Mr Cappato wrote on Twitter, shortly after he died.

Roberto Saviano, an Italian journalist, who was a friend of DJ Fabo, also wrote: “We distinctly heard you ask for a dignified death. There is no possible justification for the silence that you’ve achieved in response.

“There is no possible justification for the lack of empathy, of attention, and humanity, from the European Parliament, and from the country, which by fate, you were born in.”

Euthanasia is illegal in Italy, a traditionally Catholic country, but the law upholds a patient’s right to refuse care.

A bill to clarify assisted suicide law has been postponed in Italy three times, but according to La Stampa, will be debated by the Chamber of Deputies this week.

Hundreds have travelled to Zurich to end their lives since the Dignitas organisation was set up in 1998.

The number of assisted suicides in Switzerland, according to statistics from Dignitas and Exit, stood at 416 in 2011 but 1,004 in 2015.

In the UK, a woman suffering from Crohn's disease last month said she will pay £10,000 to end her life in Switzerland because of social care cuts

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Brain transplant enables paralysed monkeys to walk again and offers hope to paraplegics

Scientists have used a brain implant to help two paralysed monkeys walk again, offering hope that it could be used on patients within three years.

One monkey was walking around six days after its spinal cord was partially severed, while the other animal recovered within two weeks.

The implant acts as a wireless bridge between the brain and the spine, restoring communication between the two, and enabling the animals to walk again.

It detects neurons firing in the motor cortex, which controls movement, and sends the information to a similar array of electrodes in the spines of rhesus monkeys.

Doctors hope the device could soon allow severely disabled people or those affected by accidents or strokes to regain movement in their arms and legs.

The technique uses components that have been approved for research in humans, and researchers believe the development is a major step towards clinical trials in paraplegics.

Neurosurgeon Dr Jocelyne Bloch, of Lausanne University Hospital, who put the implants in the monkeys, said: "For the first time, I can imagine a completely paralysed patient able to move their legs through this brain-spine interface."

Professor Gregoire Courtine, of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, added: "This is the first time neuro-technology restores locomotion in primates.

"But there are many challenges ahead, and it may take several years before all the components of this intervention can be tested in people."

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