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Journalist's ‘Swiss Suicide’ Sparks Euthanasia Debate In Israel

With the help of an organization called Dignitas, well-known Israeli television and radio personality Adi Talmor ended his life last week in Switzerland. The euthanasia case came as a huge surprise in Israel, which is now busily examining the issue of ass

Israeli television and radio personality Adi Talmor
Israeli television and radio personality Adi Talmor
Serge Dumont

TEL AVIV- Israel recently lost one if its best-known television presenters, Adi Talmor. His passing has prompted a flurry of discussion -- not just about Talmor's life and legacy, but also about the controversial way he died: euthanasia.

Talmor, 58, ended his life last week in Switzerland with the help of a local organization called Dignitas, an assisted dying group that cooperates with people who like Talmor, suffer from terminal illnesses.

Until his final days, nobody knew where Talmor was. Some of his colleagues speculated that he'd gone into a deep depression. But others thought the media star, who spent the past decade or so working for an army radio station called Galei Tsahal, was having an affair. Talmor had a reputation as something of a ladies man.

The real story, it turned out, was far more tragic. Talmor learned he was suffering from terminal cancer in his right lung. Doctors told him he had no more than a year to live. So Talmor turned to Dignitas, which helped him end his life – far away from friends and family.

News of the journalist's "Swiss suicide" came as a shock to people in Israel, where euthanasia is forbidden both by law and religion. "That's why I decided to commit suicide in Switzerland," he wrote in long letters that are only now going public.

This was the first time most Israelis had heard about Dignitas. The founder of the Swiss organization, Ludwig Minelli, was interviewed by local Israeli newspapers and television stations. He explained his "work techniques' and also revealed that Adi Talmor was accompanied by two people when he passed away and that he had asked for two cigarettes and a last beer before dying. Then, his ashes were spread in an area near Zurich. Neither Talmor's relatives nor his employers knew anything about the procedures.

Since then, popular Israeli dailies such as Israel Hayom, Yediot Aharonotand Maariv have written several features on "Swiss suicide," which is now the subject of a heated national debate.

"So far, the Swiss technique cannot be imported to Israel," Avinoam Rikhles, the ethics committee president for Israel's professional medical association, opined in a recent television debate organized by one of the country's principal networks. He went on to say, however, that "it's better to die peacefully than to die in pain."

Rikhles, a professor at the Hadassah Medical Center and University in Jerusalem, also admitted that several of his patients have gone to Switzerland to die – a decision he "truly understands."

Read the original article in French

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Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

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