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Pakistani doctor indicted in Minnesota on terrorism charge

The people whom he was chatting with on the encrypted online messenger were undercover informants for the FBI.

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Muhammad Masood

New Delhi/Washington, May 17 : A US federal court has indicted a Pakistani doctor on H1-B visa for his support to the Islamic State (IS) and attempting to carry out a terror plot, raising serious questions about the vetting process in the country’s immigration system.

In an official statement, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) said that the federal grand jury for the district of Minnesota on May 15 indicted 28-year-old Muhammad Masood for attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.

A licensed medical doctor in Pakistan, Masood was formerly employed as a research coordinator at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota under an H1-B visa.

As per his LinkedIn profile, he has a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery from Riphah International University, a General Certificate of Education from the University of Cambridge and a license to practice from the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council.

The DoJ said that between January and March, Masood made several statements to others, including pledging his allegiance to the IS and its leader, and expressed his desire to travel to Syria to fight for the terror group.

The Pakistani national also wanted to carry out ‘lone wolf’ terror attacks in the US.

He was initially charged in a criminal complaint on March 19 this year and currently in custody pending further court proceedings.

As per the complaint, Masood was messaging on an encrypted online platform about how sick he had grown of smiling every day at the “passing kuffar” (non-Muslims) and yet he was keeping the pretence “just not to make them suspicios (sic) a I cannot tolerate it anymore”.

In his messages, he mentioned that he could not waste the opportunity while being in the US.

“Sometimes I want to (sic) attack enemy when I am behind enemy line (sic) itself,” he messaged in January.

“(I) wonder if I will miss the opportunity of attacking the enemy when I was in the middle of it.”

Masood quit his job at the Mayo Clinic, auctioned off his personal belongings and on February 21, bought a plane ticket from Chicago, Illinois to Amman, Jordan and from there planned to travel to Syria.

But his travel plans changed because on March 16, Jordon closed its borders to incoming travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a message Masood revealed: “… there is so much I wanted to do here … lon wulf (sic) stuff you know … but I realized I should be on the ground helping brothers sisters kids Inshallah.”

So he decided to fly from Minneapolis to Los Angeles to meet an individual who he believed would help him with travel via cargo ship to deliver him to the IS territory, the DoJ statement said.

The people whom he was chatting with on the encrypted online messenger were undercover informants for the FBI.

They asked him several times if he was absolutely sure he really wanted to quit his job in the US and join the IS abroad, to which he replied: “I want to kill and get killed … and kill and get killed … and again and again. This is what … Allah wished.”

Todd Bensman who works for the US-based research group Center for Immigration Studies, said that the Masood case was a cause for reassessing current security vetting protocols in countries not on the travel restriction list, to ensure that hot security threats were not imported among the doctors, engineers, and other skilled professionals who use the H-1B visa to leave countries of national security interest.

The American public, elected leaders, and security professionals, he wrote, should never assume that force fields of credibility immunize doctors from security investigations and thorough vetting.

They don’t, as we well learned from Dr. Nidal Hassan’s massacre at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009 and from a bizarrely long list of other Hippocratic Oath breakers.

Disaster

US sends 2 million doses of unproven COVID-19 drug to Brazil: White House

The White House announced on Sunday that the U.S. has sent 2 million doses of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to Brazil, and that 1,000 ventilators will soon be delivered as well as the South American country becomes the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

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brazil coronavirus

The White House says the U.S. has sent 2 million doses of hydroxychloroquine to Brazil, and that 1,000 ventilators will soon be delivered as well.

This comes even as some countries have banned the use of the drug for COVID-19 over safety concerns.

  • Brazil reported a record 33,274 new cases on Saturday as its death toll surpassed France’s, ranking fourth in the world behind the U.S., U.K. and Italy.
  • Trump last week suspended entry of non-U.S. citizens who have been in Brazil within the past 14 days.

Between the lines: Hydroxychloroquine has become a point of heated political debate in President Trump’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, as he first touted the drug as a potential “game-changer” and said he was taking it himself as a preventative.

  • But a large study in The Lancet found an increased risk of heart problems and death among coronavirus patients who took hydroxychloroquine, prompting France to ban use of the drug and the World Health Organization to temporarily suspend a trial.
  • Anthony Fauci told CNN last week that the scientific data “is really quite evident now about the lack of efficacy” of hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment.

What they’re saying: The White House said in a statement that the drug will “be used as a prophylactic to help defend Brazil’s nurses, doctors, and healthcare professionals agains the virus.”

  • “It will also be used as a therapeutic to treat Brazilians who become infected,” the statement adds.
  • “With [Trump] and President Jair Bolsonaro having spoken twice since March, the two countries are well-positioned to continue their work together to address the coronavirus pandemic, in addition to other matters of strategic importance.”
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Disaster

We share our support for racial equality: Sundar Pichai

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Sundar Pichai

San Francisco, May 31 : Google and YouTube on Sunday put a black ribbon on its home page in the US, showing solidarity for protests against the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in police custody.

“We stand in support of racial equality, and all those who search for it,” the message read on the Google home page.

The same message was also placed on the US home page of Google-owned YouTube.

Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweeted: “Today on US Google & YouTube homepages we share our support for racial equality in solidarity with the Black community and in memory of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery & others who don’t have a voice.

“For those feeling grief, anger, sadness & fear, you are not alone,” Pichai added.

Last week, a policeman choked an African-American man Floyd, to death by kneeling on his neck in Minneapolis.

Several states in the US erupted in protests after the video went viral.

The riots stretching from New York on the east coast to Los Angeles on the west rocked the nation that was just beginning to relax the Covid-19 restrictions threatening to spread the disease.

The force of the protests that have turned violent comes from the ongoing brutality against minorities by police with two other recent cases adding to the fury behind the killing of Floyd.

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Disaster

US patient receives $840,000 bill for COVID-19 treatment

“It’s scary. I don’t care how much you have covered. It’s scary to see that kind of number and not really know.”

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US Dollar

Washington, May 31 : A high school teacher from the US state of Colorado was shocked to receive a medical bill of $840,000 for his treatment for COVID-19, local media reported.

The bill received by Robert Dennis, a Centennial High School teacher, covered Dennis’ time at Denver’s Sky Ridge hospital, where he was put on a ventilator in the intensive care unit for two weeks, reports Xinhua news agency.

However, what was not included was Dennis’ three weeks at Spalding Rehabilitation Hospital, or his wife’s trips to the emergency room when she was also fighting the virus.

The couple estimated that their total bills would top $1.5 million.

The couple had insurance and they planned to call to make sure that they were covered.

“Seeing that number yesterday for the first bill, it took your breath away again,” the wife said.

“It’s scary. I don’t care how much you have covered. It’s scary to see that kind of number and not really know.”

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