Passport

Chinese teenager sells kidney for an iPad 2

I'm sure Angry Birds must be twice as awesome on the bigger screen, but this still seems extreme:

A teenager in Huaishan, Anhui Province has sold one of his kidneys to buy an iPad2 tablet computer, as reported by SZTV on June 1.

The 17-year-old man surnamed Zheng, a freshman in high school, got connected with a kidney-selling agent through the internet, who pledged to pay him 20,000 yuan ($3,084.45 ) for one of his kidneys.

On April 28 of this year, Zheng went to Chenzhou, Hunan Province to have his kidney removed under the supervision of three so-called middlemen, and received 22,000 yuan ($3,392.97). Then he returned home with a laptop and an iPhone.

Zheng's mother discovered her son's new electronic products and forced him to reveal how he came to afford them. Then she took Zheng to Chenzhou and reported the matter to local police. The three agents' telephones have not been answered since that time.

Be sure to check out Scott Carney's new piece on the rise of the "red market" and why "no society has had as insatiable an appetite for human flesh as the developed world of the 21st century."

Putting aside the fact that Zheng is underage, broke the law, and is (seemingly) a moron, the ethical questions surrounding the organ market are not so simple. What if Zheng were a consenting adult rather than a teenager and looking to start a small business or move his family into a nicer home rather than pick up the latest toys from Cupertino?

Carney writes that the fundamental question surrounding the human-organ supply chain is "at what point is one person entitled to use the flesh of another?" That's a good question, but so is whether a person should be denied an economic opportunity -- and perhaps save a life in the process -- because the idea of buying and selling human flesh makes us queasy? It's an uncomfortable subject, but an increasingly relevant one.

Passport

Did Pinochet kill Pablo Neruda?

Augusto Pinochet's regime killed hundreds of its political enemies, including one of the most audacious political assassinations ever carried out on U.S. soil, but I was unaware of the theory that the Chilean government had murdered Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda. The country's courts are reopening the case

A judge, Mario Carroza, will examine claims that agents injected poison into Neruda's stomach while he was treated in Santiago's Santa Maria clinic for prostate cancer, which until now was blamed for his heart failure.

If confirmed the allegation would rank as one of the dictatorship's vilest murders given Neruda's status as a revered literary great at home and abroad.

Chile's communist party demanded the investigation after the poet's former driver, Manuel Araya, said Pinochet henchmen injected the 69-year-old on the day he died, 23 September 1973, 12 days after the coup.

Neruda, a communist and political activist, had just written an article excoriating the military regime and defending his friend Salvador Allende, the socialist president who died during the coup.

For what it's worth, Neruda's estate doesn't believe the murder claim. 

Chile is currently going through a period of intense historical reexamination. The body of former President Salvador Allende has been exhumed in order to determine if he killed himself or was murdered by Pinochet's forces during the 1973 coup. A newly release military file casts doubt on the suicide theory. 

AFP/Getty Images