La Peste


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We worshiped Crom and got ruby’s the size of boulders. We hunted the evil Thulsa Doom and rode clean on the steppes.

A new gene, New Delhi metallo-ß-lactamase (NDM-1), has emerged, allowing bacteria to become resistant to virtually every known antibiotic, according to an article published in the medical journal The Lancet.

Experts fear that NDM-1 could jump to other strains of bacteria that are already resistant to many antibiotics, ultimately producing infections that could spread from person to person and be almost impossible to treat.

Until recently, NDM-1 was believed to have been restricted to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. But 37 patients from the UK have now found to be carriers, most of them after visiting the subcontinent for medical procedures.
An international group of researchers – which has identified one strain of bacteria that is so resistant it is, in effect, untreatable – found similar infections in the US, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands.

AS DELEGATES drifted from the main hall into the vast foyer of an Italian-built conference centre in Sirte, a dusty town on the Libyan coast, loudspeakers at full throttle blared a familiar, rousing tune. “O volcano of rage,” thumped the words in a seemingly endless refrain, “Come to unite the Arabs.” The unbounded optimism of the song, written four decades ago in honour of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt’s charismatic leader who embodied Arab nationalist dreams, jarred with the setting. For there seemed little more chance of uniting Arab leaders at this summit, the Arab League’s 22nd, than at their first meeting back in 1946. The greater concern was to avoid open clashes—and to dig into the fine meals prepared by a Turkish catering firm.

As ever, there was plenty of lofty language, with Libya’s dictator, Muammar Qaddafi, playing the host. Many leaders referred to Jerusalem, the burning regional issue of the moment, as the apple of the Arabs’ eye, describing its rescue from Israeli clutches as a religious duty for every Muslim. Yet all that was agreed was to earmark more money to save the city, but with no details of who would pay or how the cash would be spent.

The Arab League’s general secretary, Amr Moussa, warned that, in the absence of progress in Palestinian-Israeli talks, Arabs should begin to plan for the day when they broke down completely. But when Syria’s president, Bashar Assad, urged backing for “resistance” groups, a Palestinian official sniffed that if Syria mobilised its own army first, others might follow. Yemen’s beleaguered president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, said it was time to create a full-blown Arab Union, an idea quietly shunted into a committee for later debate.

After the event, Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of a London-based Arabic daily, al-Quds al-Arabi, which often echoes popular feelings, wrote that while such meetings were meant to determine joint Arab action, their utility had shrunk to the point where there is no longer any Arab action at all. By contrast, he added, “Turkey has built democracy on a solid economic foundation. Iran has created a strong army backed by a nuclear option. What do the Arabs have, except corruption, dictatorship, backwardness and leaders who are sick or old?” Some Arab leaders openly shared such dismay. Even Mr Qaddafi declared bluntly that Arabs were fed up with talk.

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