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Mon, 25 Oct 2021
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Eugenics: 'Deselecting' our children

Editor's note. Dr. Somerville's article was in response to an article in a Danish newspaper headlined "Plans to make Denmark a Down syndrome-free perfect society." She is the founding director of the Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law at McGill University in Quebec.

Eugenics
© National Right to Life News, Org

According Danish news paper Berlingske, "Denmark has decided not listen to people who may complain of human selection and have put their foot on the ground to promote increased abortion of foetuses suspected of having Down syndrome." As such, if progress continues at this rate, the last case to be born with the illness will be around the year 2030.

Aarhus University bioethicist, Niels Uldbjerg, "describes it as a "fantastic achievement" that the number of newborns with Down syndrome is approaching zero." The report continues: "What's next? Is the child born with diabetes...[to] be discarded?" asks Ulla Brendstrup, the mother of a child with Down syndrome."

Lillian Bondo, a member of the Denmark Ethics Committee is, who is also chairman of the association of midwives, told Berlingske she "wants to help as many people as possible to discuss how society should draw the line. I do not want a society in which sorting by [testing] is the norm."

At least the Danes are bringing this issue into the open and are being more honest about it than we are in Canada. The current estimates are that in North America over 90 percent of unborn babies with Down syndrome are aborted. Importantly, the Danes are also recognizing that "deselecting" Down syndrome children - or any other group who are likewise selected for elimination - raises issues for society and is not just a matter of private decision-making by individuals.

And this issue will only become more prevalent as prenatal tests for genetic and other conditions expand, become cheaper and easier to use, and are presented to pregnant women as routine precautions in medically managing a pregnancy.

Widespread, publicly endorsed and paid for pre-natal screening implicates among other values, those of respect for human life, both individual human life and human life in general ; respect for "disabled" (differently abled) people, both as individuals and as a group; and respect for the rights to autonomy and self-determination of pregnant woman. It also raises issues of the ethics of society's support for and complicity in any breach of values involved, and, likewise, of medicine's complicity in such breaches.

USA

In a pathocracy: Death rate unusually high for young veterans

Veterans are far more likely to die of suicide and in accidents - a trend largely unstudied until recently.

Image
© Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times
Mark Tyree, a Marine Corps veteran who did a tour in Iraq, is buried in the Northern California Veterans Cemetery.
Mark Tyree was chasing death.

The 25-year-old Marine veteran drank heavily and drove fast - often at the same time. Tyree had walked away from two serious accidents that demolished his cars.

On a foggy November morning in 2011, he slammed his pickup truck into a power pole, became tangled in a power line and was electrocuted.

"He was so reckless at times," said his father, Mark Sr. "He had no fear whatsoever."

Tyree belonged to a generation of young veterans whose return to civilian life has been marked by an unusually high death rate, primarily boosted by accidents and suicides.

The death rate for California veterans under 35 surpasses that of both active-duty service members and other civilians of the same ages, according to a Times analysis of state mortality records.

Scattered across the state, the veterans' deaths - 1,253 men and 110 women between 2006 and 2011 - are barely noticed in the mayhem of modern life.

Megaphone

UN: Almost 1 million in need of food aid in Gaza

gaza no food
The United Nations says nearly one million people are expected to need food aid in the besieged Gaza Strip next year.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) currently provides food for around 813,000 Palestinian refugees, Robert Turner, the UNRWA Gaza director of operations, said on Wednesday.

The main reason behind the rise is the closure of Gaza tunnels by Egypt's interim government, Turner added. These tunnels are the only lifeline for Palestinians living under the Israeli siege.

"Only for food next year, we are appealing for $95 million but that is all our entire expected income, so we need to do a lot of advocacy with the donors," he said.

Gaza has been blockaded since June 2007, a situation that has caused a decline in the standards of living, unprecedented levels of unemployment, and unrelenting poverty.

Comment: Gaza has steadily devolved into an open air extermination camp, not simply an open air prison, due to ever-worsening conditions being imposed via the illegal, brutal Israeli military occupation and blockade (clearly in violation of international law), destruction of most of the smuggling tunnels, lack of basic necessities like clean water, essential medicines and food, combined with ongoing fuel shortages and daily power outages currently at 18 hours per day. Gaza is ripe for an epidemic as filthy disease-causing conditions remain unresolved. Sewage-flooded streets, no electricity, in conjunction with the onset of winter are daunting enough for anyone to contend with, but the lack of international response to this crisis provides an even chillier portrait of our global society: a mostly silent world that continues to sit idly by while innocent people are being picked off, singled out, and collectively punished, tortured, killed, via bullets, bombs, tanks and now, via environmental genocide - this begs the question, yet again, what kind of people are we in this world that allow such inhumanity to happen at all, let alone, to continue?


USA

New York man discovers it is illegal to wash his car in his own driveway

Washing Car
© Police State USA
Garden City - A couple of friends cleaning up a car they had just purchased were threatened by the police for car washing in their own driveway. The reach of the nanny state truly has no bounds when it comes to dictating what people must do on their own private property.

Johnathan Schmidt and Eric Jeer were minding their own business and about to wash a used Volkswagen Golf they purchased together. They were standing in their own private driveway, when a police officer walked onto the property.

"Is there a problem?" said Schmidt.

"The problem... is that your neighbor doesn't like you," said the officer.

"That's not my fault," said Schmidt.

"It is, when he starts calling about things being done against the village ordinance," said Officer Buonaiuto. "Such as doing any kind of work here, or any kind of detailing, like washing the car; things like that you're not allowed to do."

The officer attempted to smile for the camera and be cordial while he enforced the unjust laws. He pulled out a copy of the law and read it to the men, who stood in disbelief. The officer explained that the men were not allowed to do any work so long as they were in "public view."

Arrow Up

Italy's president fears violent insurrection in 2014 but offers no remedy

Student Protest
© EPA
Hundreds of students wrap themselves in an Italian tricolour during a Pitchforks Movement protest in Turin on Wednesday.
Events in Italy are turning serious. President Giorgio Napolitano has warned of "widespread social tension and unrest" in 2014 as the Long Slump drags on.

Those living on the margins are being drawn into "indiscriminate and violent protest, a sterile lurch towards total opposition".

His latest speech is a veritable Jeremiad. Thousands of companies are on the "brink of collapse". Great masses of the working people are on the dole or at risk of losing their jobs. Very high rates of youth unemployment (41pc) are leading to dangerous alienation.

"The recession is still biting hard, and there is a pervasive sense that it will be difficult to escape, to find a way back to full growth," he said.

Now why might that be? Might it not have something to do with the central overriding fact that Italy has a currency overvalued by 20pc or more within EMU: that it is trapped in a 1930s fixed-exchange system run a 1930s central bank that is standing idly by (for political reasons) as M3 growth stalls, credit contracts, and deflation looms?

Camera

Ronnie Biggs, notorious participant in Great Train Robbery, dies at 84

Image
© Washington Post
‘Great Train Robber’ Ronnie Biggs dies at 84: Ronnie Biggs was a petty criminal who set out to transform his life with the daring heist of a mail train packed with money.
Ronnie Biggs, a British thief with a roguish streak who had a minor role in the 1963 Great Train Robbery, one of the more flamboyant crimes in modern history, and who became one of the world's most wanted and unrepentant fugitives, died Wednesday in London. He was 84.

The death was confirmed by his daughter-in-law, Veronica Biggs, who did not provide a cause.

He suffered from pneumonia and other ailments that led the government to grant him compassionate release from prison in August 2009. He had turned himself in to British authorities in 2001 after 36 years on the run.

Mr. Biggs, who fashioned himself as "the last of the gentleman crooks," spent much of his life brashly evading and taunting Scotland Yard, first from Australia and later from Brazil.

To his most devoted followers, he was a folk hero who symbolized rebellion against authority. He recorded with the British punk rock band the Sex Pistols on its single "No One is Innocent," sold T-shirts of himself and even made a TV commercial for a Brazilian instant coffee company. His pitch: "When you are on the run, like I am all the time, you really appreciate a good, satisfying cup of coffee."

Eye 1

New bill bars employers from requiring credit checks of potential hires

liz warren
© Reuters / Joshua Roberts
Senator Elizabeth Warren
Employers would no longer have the right to attain a prospective employee's credit report, or to deny a job applicant based on credit status, under a bill introduced Tuesday in the US Senate.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and six other senators proposed the Equal Employment for All Act, which would aim to end the ability of employers to run credit checks on possible employees, currently a common practice.

Advocates of the measure says employer credit checks are a high, needless barrier of entry into the labor market for many with poor scores. Supporters add that the employer checks contribute to long-term unemployment and have disproportionately impacted women, minorities, students and seniors.

"There's little or no evidence of any correlation between job performance and a credit [report]," Warren said Tuesday, according to CNN. "[T]his is a point of basic fairness...people who get hit with hard economic blows end up getting squeezed out of the system. This is another way the game is rigged against hardworking middle-class families."

Stock Down

Kiss your IRA good-bye!

The recent volatility of the Dow Jones Industrial Average indicates savvy investors on Wall Street are worried.

Should the Federal Reserve, under Chairman Ben Bernanke's replacement, "taper" the current Fed policy of buying U.S. Treasury debt, investors anticipate a sharp downward market correction, possibly even a market crash.

Last week, the Dow fell below 16,000 only to rally back over the barrier as Federal Reserve officials attempted to calm nervous investors.

This week, the U.S. Senate is expected to confirm Janet Yellen to replace Bernanke as Fed chief, despite the continuing attempt by Republicans to slow the confirmation of Obama administration appointees after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid employed the "nuclear option," ending the requirement for a supermajority of 60 votes to force a vote.

Yellen, currently vice chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, is expected to begin ramping down Bernanke's policy known as "Quantitative Easing." Under the policy, the Federal Reserve has bought billions of dollars of U.S. Treasury debt to keep interest rates as close to zero as possible.

Arrow Down

A Hunger Games banner can get you locked up for terrorism

Hunger Games Banner
© Motherboard
The banner and atrium in question via Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance.
It's understandable that, as the location of one of the worst act of terrorism in American history, Oklahoma would have strict laws against even threatening a terrorist attack. It's just hard to understand how glitter falling from a Hunger Games-themed banner as it unfurls looks anything like terrorism.

Last Friday morning, a group of protestors from Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance and Cross Timbers Earth First! entered the 50-story Devon Tower in downtown Oklahoma City. They were there to protest the building's namesake, Devon, an energy company that is involved in fracking for oil and natural gas in both the United States and Canada, and their CEO sits on the board of directors at TransCanada.

Two protestors locked themselves in a revolving front door using a bike lock and two others went to the second floor and, from a balcony, unfurled two banners: one in support of indigenous activists protesting energy extraction from their land in Canada and another that had the Hunger Games Mockingjay emblem and the phrase "The odds are never in our favor."

As the banner unfurled, glitter - referred to by the police as a "black substance" - fell from it onto the ground. One of the activists, Eric Whalen, told KWTV 9 that the "black substance" in question was "simply glitter to make for good pictures and video and to make it pretty."

A spokesman for GPTSR said that a janitor came out and swept it up, while building security asked the protestors to leave, which they did, with the exception of the two who were locked in a revolving door. The fire department had to come to get them out. All in all, pretty normal sounding end of a protest, complete with some cuffing and trips to the police station.

Bizarro Earth

Hysteria alert! 5-year-old suspended for making gun gesture with hand while "playing army"

Image
© flickr
A 5-year-old boy was reportedly suspended from school after making a gun gesture with his hand on the playground.

His father, David Hendrix, was furious when he found out his son was issued a suspension for the gesture.

"He was playing army on the playground," Hendrix told WBTV. "I just felt like the punishment was way too severe."

The boy was issued a one day in-school suspension from his kindergarten class at Pinewood Elementary School.