statism watch

Suit possible over baby DNA sent to military lab for national database

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Just help yourself, government. Don’t bother asking, it’s not as though we (or our children) have rights anymore. You can thank Bush II for this… he signed a bill in 2008 which critics have described as the first step towards a national US DNA database. It explicitly legitimizes the use of genomic data for genetic research without the knowledge or consent of citizens. This is what happens when you don’t pay attention to what your government is doing. Oh, and this is already in place in Canada. This site leaves it to you to work through the spin and think of the future consequences of unrestricted government access to your DNA.

Flashback: The government has your baby’s DNA | UK Police routinely arresting people to get DNA, inquiry claims | UK: Police ‘must purge innocent DNA’ | Newborn’s Blood Samples Raise Questions of Privacy | Study finds genetic discrimination by insurance firms | US: Ruling allowing Taser use to get DNA may be nation’s first | UK: Police ‘arrest innocent youths for their DNA’, officer claims | UK: Fury as Commons denied vote on DNA database | Australians refused insurance because of poor genes

Mary Ann Roser, Austin American Statesman
February 22, 2010

An Austin lawyer threatened to pursue a new federal lawsuit Monday after learning that some newborn blood samples in Texas went to the U.S. military for potential use in a database for law enforcement purposes.

The Department of State Health Services never mentioned the database to Jim Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project, who settled a lawsuit in December with the state over the indefinite storage of newborn blood without parental consent, or to the American-Statesman, which first reported on the little-known blood storage practice last spring. Harrington said he thought another suit was likely unless the health department destroys the information obtained from the blood samples or obtains consent.

“This is the worst case of bad faith I have dealt with as a lawyer,” he said Monday.

Jerry Strickland, a spokesman for the Texas attorney general’s office, which represented the health department, fired back. “During this litigation, Harrington was provided accurate answers to the questions he asked,” he said.

“Once Harrington negotiated $26,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs for himself, accepted a settlement agreement and got his desired headlines, he was satisfied and dropped his lawsuit against DSHS. It appears recent media reports caused Harrington to backtrack in an effort to obscure how he chose to handle this case,” he said.

An article Monday by the Texas Tribune, a news Web site, said the state health department sent 800 anonymous samples to the military to help create a national mitochondrial DNA database. The samples were sent in 2003 and 2007, according to the department’s Web site.


For many aboriginals, the truth of residential schools is irreconcilable: commissioner

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

The comments on this story at the source are so shameful. Let’s pick one representative jibe: “the ability of indians who came through the residential schools to read and write came from… the schools, of course”. Oh, well, that makes it all better then. As though the gifts of European civilization and Huron/Mohawk/Iroquois/Cree/Haida/Inuit… etc… civilization couldn’t have been shared without rape, biowarfare, genocide, and murder.

Flashback: The future of the residential school commission — An interview with Judge Murray Sinclair | GG relaunches Truth and Reconciliation Commission | New members tapped for residential school commission: report | Chair to have final say as residential schools commission jobs rewritten | Remaining 2 members resign from residential schools commission | Commission to Probe Graves at Native ‘Residential School’ Sites | Government to hold talks over future of residential-schools commission | Chairman quits troubled residential-school commission | Truth commission tied too closely to government: aboriginal groups | Canada hears of native abuse pain | Location of Mass Graves of Residential School Children Revealed for the First Time; Independent Tribunal Established

Chinta Puxley
February 21, 2010

After hearing from residential-school survivors, judge says forgiveness simply won’t be possible for everyone

After travelling the country and hearing horrific tales of abuse suffered by aboriginal residential-school survivors, the head of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission says he realizes that forgiveness is not an option for many victims.

The commission’s first official national event is still several months away, but Justice Murray Sinclair has been on the road since his appointment last July gathering stories from former students from British Columbia to Nova Scotia.

“Many people say they can never forgive anybody. We’ve heard elders say you can’t forgive an institution that doesn’t have a soul or a spirit,” Judge Sinclair said in an interview from the commission’s new headquarters in Winnipeg.

“It’s not a question of forgiveness for them. It’s a question of moving on. Some have said there will never be any reconciliation for them and we just accept that as part of the truth-telling process.”


Pentagon Looks to Breed Immortal ‘Synthetic Organisms,’ Molecular Kill-Switch Included

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Now, what could possibly go wrong with this idea?

Flashback: Genetically modified monkeys pass traits to offspring | Meet — and eat — the modified Atlantic salmon | Genetically engineered meal close to your table | Are we already dining on clones?

Katie Drummond,
February 5, 2010

The Pentagon’s mad science arm may have come up with its most radical project yet. Darpa is looking to re-write the laws of evolution to the military’s advantage, creating “synthetic organisms” that can live forever – or can be killed with the flick of a molecular switch.

As part of its budget for the next year, Darpa is investing $6 million into a project called BioDesign, with the goal of eliminating “the randomness of natural evolutionary advancement.” The plan would assemble the latest bio-tech knowledge to come up with living, breathing creatures that are genetically engineered to “produce the intended biological effect.” Darpa wants the organisms to be fortified with molecules that bolster cell resistance to death, so that the lab-monsters can “ultimately be programmed to live indefinitely.”

Of course, Darpa’s got to prevent the super-species from being swayed to do enemy work – so they’ll encode loyalty right into DNA, by developing genetically programmed locks to create “tamper proof” cells. Plus, the synthetic organism will be traceable, using some kind of DNA manipulation, “similar to a serial number on a handgun.” And if that doesn’t work, don’t worry. In case Darpa’s plan somehow goes horribly awry, they’re also tossing in a last-resort, genetically-coded kill switch:

Develop strategies to create a synthetic organism “self-destruct” option to be implemented upon nefarious removal of organism.

The project comes as Darpa also plans to throw $20 million into a new synthetic biology program, and $7.5 million into “increasing by several decades the speed with which we sequence, analyze and functionally edit cellular genomes.”


The government has your baby’s DNA

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

This is going on in Canada as well. The government and the insurance companies love you. Nothing to see here.

Flashback: UK Police routinely arresting people to get DNA, inquiry claims | UK: Police ‘must purge innocent DNA’ | Newborn’s Blood Samples Raise Questions of Privacy | Study finds genetic discrimination by insurance firms | US: Ruling allowing Taser use to get DNA may be nation’s first | UK: Police ‘arrest innocent youths for their DNA’, officer claims | UK: Fury as Commons denied vote on DNA database | Australians refused insurance because of poor genes

Elizabeth Cohen,
February 4, 2010

When Annie Brown’s daughter, Isabel, was a month old, her pediatrician asked Brown and her husband to sit down because he had some bad news to tell them: Isabel carried a gene that put her at risk for cystic fibrosis.

While grateful to have the information — Isabel received further testing and she doesn’t have the disease — the Mankato, Minnesota, couple wondered how the doctor knew about Isabel’s genes in the first place. After all, they’d never consented to genetic testing.

It’s simple, the pediatrician answered: Newborn babies in the United States are routinely screened for a panel of genetic diseases. Since the testing is mandated by the government, it’s often done without the parents’ consent, according to Brad Therrell, director of the National Newborn Screening & Genetics Resource Center.

In many states, such as Florida, where Isabel was born, babies’ DNA is stored indefinitely, according to the resource center.

Many parents don’t realize their baby’s DNA is being stored in a government lab, but sometimes when they find out, as the Browns did, they take action. Parents in Texas, and Minnesota have filed lawsuits, and these parents’ concerns are sparking a new debate about whether it’s appropriate for a baby’s genetic blueprint to be in the government’s possession.


Gene Patents Under Legal Attack

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

It would be difficult to overstate the importance of this lawsuit. A pharmaceutical company may own the physical remedy it produces for an ailment. To say they ‘own’ a gene they’ve discovered is philosophically and morally (ob)noxious.

Flashback: Judge OKs Challenge to Human-Gene Patents | Sick babies denied treatment in DNA row

Brandon Keim,
February 4, 2010

Federal court hearings continued Tuesday on a lawsuit that could transform biotechnology in the United States by eliminating gene patents.

The case hinges around the claims of Utah-based Myriad Genetics on BRCA1 and BRCA2, a pair of genes closely linked to breast and ovarian cancer. Myriad “owns” the genes, and says its patents make it possible to profit on diagnostic tests. The company argues that if you remove the patents, the tests – indeed, commercial biotechnology as we know it – will vanish.

A coalition of civil rights, research and women’s health groups is fighting the patents. They argue that Myriad’s claims stifle innovation by discouraging researchers from looking at the genes, which are still not fully understood, and say Myriad’s monopoly limits women’s health choices. More broadly, the claims set a precedent for other gene patents, which now cover about one-fifth of the human genome.


Hitchens: North Korean’s stature, worldview stunted by authoritarian hate and ignorance

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Hitchens is mistaken only in believing that the North Korean regime is the first to produce a stunted sub-group of homo sapiens sapiens. Royalty has always dined on the high protein flesh of animals, while the slaves, the little people stunted in height and forced to turn all their energies to work – they get what they’re given.

Flashback: North Korea calls for peace treaty with US | State Of War Between Two Koreas After Armistice Ended | Swiss nuclear-smuggling suspect says CIA made him do it | How the USA Gave North Korea The Bomb

Christopher Hitchens,
February 2, 2010

Visiting North Korea some years ago, I was lucky to have a fairly genial “minder” whom I’ll call Mr. Chae. He guided me patiently around the ruined and starving country, explaining things away by means of a sort of denial mechanism and never seeming to lose interest in the gargantuan monuments to the world’s most hysterical and operatic leader-cult.

One evening, as we tried to dine on some gristly bits of duck, he mentioned yet another reason why the day should not long be postponed when the whole peninsula was united under the beaming rule of the Dear Leader. The people of South Korea, he pointed out, were becoming mongrelized. They wedded foreigners – even black American soldiers, or so he’d heard to his evident disgust – and were losing their purity and distinction. Not for Mr. Chae the charm of the ethnic mosaic, but rather a rigid and unpolluted uniformity.


UK: 50 years on, an apology to thalidomide scandal survivors

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Sarah Bosely, The Guardian
January 14, 2010

Government issues long-awaited apology and a new £20m compensation package to 466 thalidomiders

Fifty years after the one of the worst disasters in medical history, hundreds of survivors of the thalidomide scandal today got an apology from the government and a new £20 million compensation package.

There are 466 thalidomiders, as they call themselves, all of them in middle-age, born between 1958 and 1961 to mothers who unwittingly took the drug Distaval for morning sickness in the early months of pregnancy. The babies suffered a variety of deformities, mostly to both arms, both legs, or all four limbs. Some also suffered damage to their internal organs.

Today Mike O’Brien, minister of health, announced a new funding scheme that will help survivors cope with the changing needs of age. He also offered what campaigners said they wanted even more — an apology.

“The Government wishes to express its sincere regret and deep sympathy for the injury and suffering endured by all those affected when expectant mothers took the drug thalidomide between 1958 and 1961,” he told the House of Commons.

“We acknowledge both the physical hardship and the emotional difficulties that have faced both the children affected and their families as a result of this drug, and the challenges that many continue to endure, often on a daily basis.” He knew, he added, “that a lot of thalidomiders have waited a long time for this”.


Toxic cadmium taints kids’ jewelry

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Cadmium. A carcinogen that dumbs down kids. Now, why do you think Chinese manufacturers would be knowingly making children’s toys with Cadmium?

Flashback: New toxic milk case in China kept secret for a year, reports say | Copenhagen: Global Population Control Program Suggested To Stop Climate Change | UK: Two-year-olds at risk from ‘gender-bending’ chemicals, report says | Reduce fetal exposure to BPA and phthalates, experts say | Bisphenol A traces found in baby food: Health Canada | Elevated BPA levels in people drinking out of plastic bottles, study finds | Tests find Bisphenol A in majority of soft drinks | Chemical ban targets toys, rubber duckies | As in Canada, gender-bending chemicals in UK rivers grow more potent | Chemicals feminizing males, study suggests | Major report to reveal male gender under threat from pollutants | CBC broadcasts “The Disappearing Male”, an expose of hormone-disrupting plastics | Plastics ingredient linked to feminization in children | Health Canada adds bisphenol A to list of toxic substances | Scientists Note Hormones in Water, Feminization of Fish Downstream of Montreal | New study raises concerns Bisphenol-A could be related to heart disease | Air freshener chemicals could impact fertility: study | Bisphenol tied to lower brain function | Chemical Industry Source of Hyped FDA Study ‘Exonerating’ Plastic Bottles

CBC News
January 11, 2010

U.S. and Canadian product safety authorities will investigate the presence of cadmium in children’s jewelry imported from China, and Wal-Mart has pulled the items from shelves after lab tests showed some were made almost entirely of the toxic metal.

The promise for action is the result of an Associated Press investigation that found some Chinese manufacturers have been substituting cadmium for lead in cheap charm bracelets and pendants being sold throughout the United States and possibly Canada.

It comes just days before the head of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is to deliver a speech to Asian manufacturers lauding them for abandoning the use of lead in children’s products.

In the most contaminated piece analyzed in lab testing performed for AP, cadmium made up a startling 91 per cent of the metal content, measured by weight. The testing also showed that some items easily shed the heavy metal, raising additional concerns about the levels of exposure to children.

Scott Wolfson, a spokesman for the U.S. commission, said the agency would study the test results and take the necessary action. Health Canada said it is concerned and has begun an investigation.

High hazard

Cadmium is a known carcinogen. A listing by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks it No. 7 among the 275 most hazardous substances in the environment.

Like lead, cadmium can hinder brain development in the very young, according to recent research. Children don’t have to swallow an item to be exposed. They can get persistent low-level doses by regularly sucking or biting jewelry with a high cadmium content.


Shock study: 12% of kids sexually abused in govt. custody

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

This is the culture of the worm, the parasite.

Our veins are thin
Our rivers poisoned
We want the sweet meat
We want the young blood

- Radiohead

Flashback: UK: New scanners break child porn laws | The future of the residential school commission — An interview with Judge Murray Sinclair | Abused children revictimized by public institutions: Cornwall report | Irish church and police covered up child sex abuse, says report | Rape case to force defence contractors Halliburton/KBR into the open | Police review 1980s allegations against bishop | Pope ‘led cover-up of child abuse by priests’ | Ex-employees claim Blackwater pimped out young Iraqi girls | US Lawsuit: Cops tasered 3 kids in shelter, threatened one with sodomy | B.C. ‘public guardian’ accused of abusing senior’s rights, property seizure | Abu Ghraib abuse photos ’show rape’ | Scouts Train to Fight Terrorists, and More | Children’s Services Ministry sued by Advocate for Stonewalling Beating Investigation | Police decline to lay charges in school sex-abuse allegations | Commission to Probe Graves at Native ‘Residential School’ Sites | Links between Judge Ramsay, RCMP and Child Predation in our Justice System | Alberta Barren: The Mannings and forced sterilization in Canada

Daniel Tencer, RawStory
January 7, 2010

Some 12 percent of minors held in government custody are sexually abused, and in some facilities the rate reaches a stunning one in three children, says a report released Thursday by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The first-ever National Survey of Youth in Custody found that no less than 10 percent of the 26,550 juveniles being held in detention facilities in the US are abused by staff at the facility, while another 2.6 percent report abuse at the hands of other inmates.

Among the facilities studied were six identified to have rates of sexual abuse as high as three in 10. According to the Associated Press, those six facilities are Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility in Indiana; Corsicana Residential Treatment Center in Texas; Backbone Mountain Youth Center in Swanton, Maryland; Samarkand Youth Development Center in Eagle Springs, North Carolina.; Cresson Secure Treatment Unit in Pennsylvania; and the Culpeper Juvenile Correctional Center, Long Term, in Mitchells, Virginia.

“The widespread sexual abuse of children in juvenile facilities shows that public officials either aren’t paying attention or can’t be bothered to do the right thing,” said Jamie Fellner, senior counsel for Human Rights Watch. “The high rates of victimization are powerful testimony to the failure of governments to safeguard the boys and girls in their care.”


New toxic milk case in China kept secret for a year, reports say

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Note to Chinese officials: This would be one of those occasions for which there couldn’t possibly be any argument you could make against disclosure. Do you just not like sharing information? What were you thinking? And a word on semantics: ceasing to put poisonous plastic into milk product is not simply ‘improving product safety’.

Flashback: “Trace amounts” of Melamine found in Canadian infant formula | Tests find melamine in candies, milk, infant formula from China

Tania Branigan, The Guardian
January 6, 2010

Officials announced closure of Shanghai Panda last week after reportedly opening melamine investigation last February

A fresh scandal over toxic milk products has shocked Chinese consumers, with state media today reporting claims that officials waited almost a year before warning the public.

The government pledged to clean up the dairy industry in autumn 2008, when 300,000 babies were taken ill and six died after drinking melamine-tainted Sanlu-brand infant formula. The issue reared its head again last week when food safety authorities in Shanghai announced they had shut down the Shanghai Panda company after discovering it was producing condensed milk and milk powder laced with the same chemical.

The China Daily newspaper suggested today that officials began investigating the company as early as February last year. Chinese press said Shanghai Panda was among more than 20 dairy firms found to have melamine in their products during the Sanlu scandal, but was allowed to resume production after promising to improve product safety.