A French appeals court ruled Thursday in favor of a farmer who has been in a decade-long fight with Monsanto since he fell ill after inhaling a now-banned weedkiller.
Paul Francois, 55, said he suffered neurological damage after inhaling Monsanto’s Lasso in 2004. He sued the company arguing that the labeling on the product had been inadequate. Courts ruled in his favor in 2012 and 2015, but France’s top court overturned those rulings and ordered a new hearing.
“We are all happy to have won but it came at a heavy price,” Francois told reporters, according to Reuters. “It’s a big sigh of relief. It’s been 12 years of fighting, 12 years during which I had to put my whole life on hold.”
Bayer, which acquired Monsanto in 2018, told BBC News it was considering options including an appeal.
“We are currently reviewing the decision of the court,” a company spokesperson said.
Thursday’s decision follows a series of legal setbacks for the company since it acquired Monsanto. Two juries in the U.S. have now ruled in favor of plaintiffs claiming that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the company’s Roundup weedkiller, caused them to develop cancer. There are more than 10,000 similar lawsuits pending.
French farmer Paul Francois outside a courthouse before a 2015 appeal of his case against Monsanto. JEFF PACHOUD / AFP / Getty Images
Bayer’s chief executive said the company was “massively affected” by the lawsuits, Reuters reported, which are partly responsible for the loss of 30 billion euros (approximately $33.9 billion) of its market value since August 2018.
Lasso has a different active ingredient, monochlorobenzene, that was found in Fracois’ body after he inhaled the weedkiller. Francois said he suffered memory loss, headaches and difficulty speaking that forced him to stop working, BBC News reported.
Lasso was banned in France in 2007 and had been prohibited in Canada as early as 1985 and in Belgium and the UK in 1992, AFP reported. Francois is asking for 1 million euros (approximately $1.1 million) in damages, arguing that Monsanto was aware of the dangers of the product and should have done more to warn users of potential hazards.
The court in Lyon, France agreed, saying the label should have included “a notice on the specific dangers of using the product in vats and reservoirs,” AFP reported.
“The plaintiff’s assumed technical knowledge does not excuse the lack of information on the product and its harmful effects — a farmer is not a chemist,” the court ruled.
Bayer disagreed that Monsanto had done anything wrong.
“Plant protection products are among the products whose evaluation and authorisation are the most strictly regulated in the world,” a Bayer spokeswoman told BBC News. “They are safe when used as directed.”
The court Thursday ordered Monsanto to pay 50,000 euros (approximately $56,570) for Francois’ legal fees but did not rule on the overall compensation. That will be decided in a later ruling, AFP reported.
If ever there was a red flag story about Amazon’s Alexa then this is it.
If you watch the “Alexa for Medical Care Advice” video posted below, you will hear Alexa asking Peggy, to “tell me about the symptoms or problems that are troubling you the most.”
Divulging your health issues to a private corporation is extremely troubling as you will see.
Let’s start with the obvious concerns and talk about something you will not see in the video.
Like Peggy telling Alexa, it is none of Amazon’s business what her health concerns are and Alexa should stop listening to everything she says.
But many Americans do not have an issue with Alexa listening to their everyday conversations and have no problem asking Alexa health questions. Because, ‘they have nothing to hide’ — and therein lies the problem.
I challenge anyone to walk up to a stranger while recording the conversation and ask them about their health issues and see what happens. And if you really want to see what happens ask them about their kids’ health issues, etc. Would anyone like to guess what their response will be?
So if a stranger refuses to discuss their personal health issues with someone they do not know, why on earth would they trust Amazon?
Earlier this month, Amazon officially introduced “Alexa Healthcare Skills” which transmits and receives personal healthcare information.
But Alexa Healthcare does much more than just transmit and receive healthcare information.
Alexa can now call pharmacies, spy on kids and your blood sugar.
Express Scripts (a leading Pharmacy Services Organization): Members can check the status of a home delivery prescription and can request Alexa notifications when their prescription orders are shipped.
Cigna Health Today (by Cigna, the global health service company): Eligible employees with one of Cigna’s large national accounts can now manage their health improvement goals and increase opportunities for earning personalized wellness incentives.
My Children’s Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) (by Boston Children’s Hospital, a leading children’s hospital): Parents and caregivers of children in the ERAS program at Boston Children’s Hospital can provide their care teams updates on recovery progress and receive information regarding their post-op appointments.
Swedish Health Connect (by Providence St. Joseph Health, a healthcare system with 51 hospitals across 7 states and 829 clinics): Customers can find an urgent care center near them and schedule a same-day appointment.
Atrium Health (a healthcare system with more than 40 hospitals and 900 care locations throughout North and South Carolina and Georgia): Customers in North and South Carolina can find an urgent care location near them and schedule a same-day appointment.
Livongo (a leading consumer digital health company that creates new and different experiences for people with chronic conditions): Members can query their last blood sugar reading, blood sugar measurement trends, and receive insights and Health Nudges that are personalized to them.
A few reasons to be concerned about Amazon Healthcare:
1.) Amazon is a for-profit corporation that makes its money by putting listening devices inside people’s homes.
Bloomberg revealed that a global team of Amazon workers is listening to people’s conversations.
Amazon.com Inc. employs thousands of people around the world to help improve the Alexa digital assistant powering its line of Echo speakers. The team listens to voice recordings captured in Echo owners’ homes and offices.
An article at Medium warns: Amazon listens to everything.
Imagine your horror as you open the attachments and begin listening to the recordings: A discussion of what to have for dinner, two children arguing over a toy, a woman talking to her partner as she gets into the shower.
2.) Besides the obvious privacy concerns of putting Alexa in your home, Alexa can be easily hacked and turned into an eavesdropping device.
When the attack [succeeds], we can control Amazon Echo for eavesdropping and send the voice data through network to the attacker.
3.) Amazon’s Healthcare partners act as though listening to people’s conversations is an act of benevolence.
“We believe voice technology, like Alexa, can make it easy for people to stay on the right path by tracking the status of their mail order prescription,” said Mark Bini, Vice President of Innovation and Member Experience, Express Scripts.
Mark Bini got one thing right: helping “people stay on the right path” will mean an increase in corporate profits as they data mine everything said by you and your family.
Cigna’s claim that divulging your personal health issues to Alexa allows customers to receive ” personalized wellness incentives for meeting their health goals” is just another way of saying corporate spying.
“Personalized wellness incentives” is corporate jargon for sending you advertising or increasing a person’s health insurance premiums if they do not meet their health goals.
“The next major conflict may be won or lost in space,” Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Tuesday. “We must confront reality. Weapons are currently deployed by our competitors that can attack our assets in space.”
Shanahan said that the U.S. Military “is not moving fast enough to stay ahead” of its rivals China and Russia in the space race. He warned that both countries have already acquired weapon technologies with the intent to strike American spy satellites in the event of conflict.
“The PLA [Chinese People’s Liberation Army] is also deploying directed-energy weapons, and we expect them to field a ground-based laser system aimed at low-earth orbit space sensors by next year,” Shanahan told the audience. “They are also prepared to use cyber attacks against our space systems and have deployed an operational ground-based ASAT [anti-satellite] missile system.”
He said that current U.S missile defense shields are “not capable of tracking” Chinese and Russian hypersonic missiles. “Because of their actions, space is no longer a sanctuary — it is now a war-fighting domain. This is not a future or theoretical threat; this is today’s threat,” Shanahan said.
The acting defense secretary endorsed President Trump’s Space Force, will allow the military to combat hypersonic attacks more effectively.
“By creating the new service inside the Air Force, the additional cost is less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the DoD budget. Or put another way, the Space Force will cost about $1.50 per American per year,” Shanahan said, claiming that cost of the new service is relatively small compared to America’s $19 trillion economy.
The Pentagon currently spends more on defense than any other country.
“We are starting now because we refuse to fall behind. We can outpace our competitors and make it impossible for them to contest our dominance in space,” Shanahan concluded
At the very roots of Chinese thinking and feeling there lies the principle of polarity, which is not to be confused with the ideas of opposition or conflict. In the metaphors of other cultures, light is at war with darkness, life with death, good with evil, and the positive with the negative, and thus an idealism to cultivate the former and be rid of the latter flourishes throughout much of the world.
To the traditional way of Chinese thinking this is as incomprehensible as an electric current without both positive and negative poles, for polarity is the principle that plus and minus, north and south, are different aspects of one and the same system, and that the disappearance of either one of them would be the disappearance of the system
People who have been brought up in the aura of Christian and Hebrew aspirations find this frustrating, because it seems to deny any possibility of progress, an ideal which flows from their linear (as distinct from cyclic) view of time and history. Indeed, the whole enterprise of Western technology is “to make the world a better place” – to have pleasure without pain, wealth without poverty, and health without sickness.
We have been interfering with a complex system of relationships which we do not understand, and the more we study its details, the more it eludes us by revealing still more details to study. As we try to comprehend and control the world it runs away – from us. Instead of chafing at this situation, a Taoist would ask what it means. What is that which always retreats when pursued? Answer: yourself.
Idealists (in the moral sense of the word) regard the universe as different and separate from themselves – that is, as a system of external objects which needs to be subjugated.
Taoists view the universe as the same as, or inseparable from, themselves so that Lao-tzu could say, “Without leaving my house, I know the whole universe.”
This implies that the art of life is more like navigation than warfare, for what is important is to understand the winds, the tides, the currents, the seasons, and the principles of growth and decay, so that one’s actions may use them and not fight them.
In this sense, the Taoist attitude is not opposed to technology per se. Indeed, the Chuang-tzu writings are full of references to crafts and skills perfected by this very principle of “going with the grain.” The point is therefore that technology is destructive only in the hands of people who do not realize that they are one and the same process as the universe.
From Progress to Process
Our overspecialization in conscious attention and linear thinking has led to neglect, or ignore-ance, of the basic principles and rhythms of this process, of which the foremost is polarity.
In Chinese, the two poles of cosmic energy are yang (positive) and yin (negative), associated with the masculine and the feminine, the firm and the yielding, the strong and the weak, the light and the dark, the rising and the falling, heaven and earth, and they are even recognized in such everyday matters as cooking as the spicy and the bland.
Thus the art of life is not seen as holding to yang and banishing yin, but as keeping the two in balance, because there cannot be one without the other.
When regarding them as the masculine and the feminine, the reference is not so much to male and female individuals as to characteristics which are dominant in, but not confined to, each of the two sexes. The male individual must not neglect his female component, nor the female her male. Thus Lao-tzu says:
Knowing the male but keeping the female, one becomes a universal stream. Becoming a universal stream, one is not separated from eternal virtue.
The yang and the yin are principles, not men and women, so that there can be no true relationship between the affectedly tough male and the affectedly flimsy female. The key to the relationship between yang and yin is called hsiang sheng, mutual arising or inseparability. As Lao-tzu puts it:
When everyone knows beauty as beautiful,
there is already ugliness;
When everyone knows good as goodness,
there is already evil.
“To be” and “not to be” arise mutually;
Difficult and easy are mutually realized;
Long and short are mutually contrasted;
High and low are mutually posited;
Before and after are in mutual sequence.
They are thus like the different, but inseparable, sides of a coin, the poles of a magnet, or pulse and interval in any vibration. There is never the ultimate possibility that either one will win over the other, for they are more like lovers wrestling than enemies fighting.
Being and Non-being
It is difficult in our logic to see that being and non-being are mutually generative and mutually supportive, for it is the great and imaginary terror of Western man that nothingness will be the permanent universe. We do not easily grasp the point that the void is creative, and that being comes from non-being as sound from silence and light from space.
Thirty spokes unite at the wheel’s hub;
It is the center hole that makes it useful.
Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.
Cut out doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes which make it useful.
Therefore profit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there.
This space is not “just nothing” as we commonly use that expression, for I cannot get away from the sense that space and my awareness of the universe are the same, and call to mind the words of the Chan (Zen) Patriarch Hui-neng, writing eleven centuries after Lao-tzu:
The capacity of mind is broad and huge, like the vast sky. Do not sit with a mind fixed on emptiness. If you do you will fall into a neutral kind of emptiness. Emptiness includes the sun, moon, stars, and planets, the great earth, mountains and rivers, all trees and grasses, bad men and good men, bad things and good things, heaven and hell; they are all in the midst of emptiness. The emptiness of human nature is also like this.
Thus the yin-yang principle is that the somethings and the nothings, the ons and the offs, the solids and the spaces, as well as the wakings and the sleepings and the alternations of existing and not existing, are mutually necessary.
Yang and yin are in some ways parallel to the (later) Buddhist view of form and emptiness, of which the Heart Sutra says,
That which is form is just that which is emptiness and that which is emptiness is just that which is form.
The yin-yang principle is not, therefore, what we would ordinarily call a dualism, but rather an explicit duality expressing an implicit unity.
There are 34,000 golf courses in the world. They make beautiful pictures. But what keeps the grass of the fairways and greens so uniform and undisturbed by weeds?
Chemical herbicides. One of the herbicide is Roundup, manufactured by Monsanto, the giant corporation owned by Bayer.
It’s now common knowledge that a link has been drawn between Roundup and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. “The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer…decided in 2015 that glyphosate is ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’.” (Mother Jones, March 14, 2019)
The research on the Monsanto pesticide Roundup is far from a finished product. Is it possible that Roundup causes other forms of cancer—brain, colon, and blood, for example? It will be hard to prove, in part because Monsanto can produced a hundred studies that contradict each lone study that says Yes.
But where are the golfers who have cancer? Nowhere, correct? Let’s find out.
“After the death of his [golf-playing] father, from the blood cancer Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, filmmaker Andrew Nisker starts hunting for answers to his many questions about why this particular cancer, and where it came from. His search, to his surprise, takes him into the manicured world of golf. In this world of pearl white bunkers, and putting greens that look and feel like velvet, Andrew discovers that these ‘greenspaces’ are anything but. There’s a lot more than nature at work creating these perfect carpets. At a golf industry trade show he sees the array of chemicals on offer to achieve that championship perfection. To his surprise, he hears at the show that golfers have consistently shown resistance to caring about any health or environmental impacts of their sport.”
“Andrew forms a bond with a sportscaster in Pittsburgh who is blaming golf course pesticides for the cancer death of his own father, a golf course superintendent.”
“As he follows up on his hunt to find out more about pesticide use on golf courses, Andrew asks can golfers themselves learn to kick the chemical habit? He’s convinced that if golfers knew what goes into maintaining the artificial beauty they play on, they’d learn to love dandelions a little more.” (Dad and the Dandelions, CBC TV, March 2, 2017)
A recent lawsuit involved Roundup as a cause of lymphoma: “The groundskeeper who won a massive civil suit against Bayer’s Monsanto claiming that the weedkiller Roundup caused his cancer has agreed to accept $78 million, after a judge substantially reduced the jury’s original $289 million award.”
“Dewayne ‘Lee’ Johnson, a Northern Californian groundskeeper and pest-control manager, was 42 when he developed a strange rash that would lead to a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in August 2014.”
“His groundskeeper duties included mixing and spraying hundreds of gallons of Roundup, the company’s glyphosate-containing weedkiller product, court records say.” (NPR, November 1, 2018)
Australian professional golfer Jarrod Lyle has died after a long battle with cancer [leukemia], his wife announced Wednesday. He was 36…Last week, Lyle and his family announced that he had decided to end his treatment for acute myeloid leukemia and would undergo palliative care at his home.” (Fox News, 8/8/18)
“Fifty-one female professional golfers and 142 female amateur golfers were evaluated for skin cancer and skin cancer risk…Four of the professionals had already developed basal cell carcinoma (BCC). Their average age was 25.5 years. Eleven amateurs also developed BCC…” (Skin Cancer in Professional and Amateur Female Golfers, Phys Sportsmed. 1985 Aug) Was the cause sun exposure? Herbicides?
“In 2008, not long after playing in his first Champions Tour tournament, [Seve] Ballesteros fell ill in Spain. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor and eventually underwent four surgeries to try to remove the cancer. Ballesteros died on May 7, 2011, at the age of 54.” (ThoughtCo, 9/18/18)
[Heather] Farr was a terrific amateur golfer who never really got the chance to become a great LPGA Tour player. She died of breast cancer (that widely metastasized) at the age of 28 in 1993.” (ThoughtCo, 9/18/18)
“Once dubbed one of the world’s sexiest men by People magazine, Adam Scott looked a bit more garish after a procedure in 2011 to remove a Basil Cell Carcinoma, a form of non-melanoma skin cancer, from his face…A number of players have had varying degrees of battles with skin cancer…Rory Sabbatini, Brian Davis, Aron Price, among others, have all battled the disease…” (PGATour.com, 6/17/14) Sun exposure? Herbicides?
“Professional golfer Tom Lehman understands the importance of detecting cancer early. At 35, he was diagnosed with stage I colon cancer…* (USA Today, 6/26/18)
“Bruce Lietzke, a pro golfer who won 13 Professional Golfer’s Association Tour events, died on Saturday after a year-long battle with brain cancer.” (AJC, 7/28/18)
“[Pro golfer Randy Jones’ 2011] punch biopsy turned out to be melanoma.” (mdanderson.org, 9/13/16)
“A former LPGA Tour member, Shelley Hamlin died on October 15  at the age of 69 after a long and courageous battle with [breast] cancer.” (golfweek.com, 12/19/18)
“Phil Rodgers, a five-time PGA Tour winner and noted golf instructor, died on June 26 age 80 after a 15-year battle with leukemia.” (golfweek.com, 12/19/18)
“Charismatic Australian golfer Ian Stanley, who was a prolific winner on his home tour before making his mark on the European seniors circuit, died in July at age 69. He had battled cancer for some time.” (golfweek.com, 12/19/18)
“…professional golfer Boo Weekley went public on Thursday in revealing the cause of his prolonged absence from the PGA Tour…discomfort in his right shoulder was revealed to be cancer…” (Pensacola News Journal, 2/15/19)
“Forrest Fezler’s career path in golf included 12 years on the PGA Tour…Fezler, a Californian by birth who settled in Tallahassee, died Friday after battling brain cancer. He was 69.” (Tallahassee Democrat, (12/21/18)
“[In July of 2006], it was discovered that famous pro golfer, Billy Mayfair, “had testicular cancer.” (Coping with Cancer, undated)
A PGA player [Joel Dahmen] who battled [testicular] cancer and lost his mom to the disease is moving into his dream home in Scottsdale…” (azfamily.com, 5/29/18)
Before you jump to the conclusion that exposure to the sun is responsible for the majority of golf-cancers, think about this statistic: “…the New York State Attorney General’s office published a report entitled Toxic Fairways, a widely cited study of pesticide use on 52 Long Island, New York golf courses. The report, which was particularly concerned with the potential for groundwater contamination, concluded that these golf courses applied about 50,000 pounds of pesticides in one year, or four to seven times the average amount of pesticides used in agriculture, on a pound per acre basis.” (beyondpesticides.org)
A variety of products are employed on golf courses. They create virtual lakes of chemical poison.
Or should I say rivers instead of lakes? Underground toxic rivers that affect bordering communities surrounding 34,000 golf courses across the world. If a groundskeeper with cancer can win $78 million in a lawsuit, how many billions of dollars should be awarded in a comprehensive legal action that correctly assigns criminal responsibility to giant chemical corporations?
(To read about Jon’s mega-collection, The Matrix Revealed, click here.)
The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free NoMoreFakeNews emails here or his free OutsideTheRealityMachine emails here.
This article is copyrighted by GreenMedInfo LLC, 2019
We all want to live a long life, but did you know eating these simple foods has been proven scientifically to prevent and in some cases reverse the #1 cause of death in the modern world?
At present, atherosclerosis (the progressive narrowing and clogging up of the arteries) is the driving process behind cardiovascular mortality, the #1 cause of death on this planet, at approximately18 million deaths annually. A complex process, involving autoimmunity, infection, dietary incompatibilities, and many known and unknown factors, it is – despite conventional medical opinion – entirely preventable, and in some cases reversible.
Here is the peer-reviewed, published research proving that fact:
B Vitamins – yes, something as simple as adding a source of B-complex to your regimen can prevent the juggernaut of heart disease from taking your life prematurely. A doubled-blind, randomized study, published in 2005, in the journal Atherosclerosis found that a simple intervention using 2.5 mg folic acid, 25 mg Vitamin B6, and 0.5mg Vitamin B12 for 1 year, resulted in significant reductions in arterial thickness (as measured by intima media thickeness). Even niacin–or folic acid– alone has been show to have this effect in patients. [Note: Always opt for natural sources of the B-group vitamins, including probiotic supplementation (which produce the entire complement for you), or a whole food extract, versus synthetic or semi-synthetic vitamins which, sadly, predominate on the market today].
Garlic – as we have documented extensively previously, garlic can save your life. It has been found to regress plaque buildup in the arteries, among many other potentially life-saving health benefits.
Fermented Cabbage – Kimchi, a Korean recipe, which includes fermented cabbage, hot pepper, and various other ingredients, including fermented fish, appears to stall the atherosclerotic process in the animal model. Additionally, strains of good bacteria in kimchi have been found capable of degrading toxic chemicals that can additional bodily harm.
L-Arginine: This amino acid is capable of preventing arterial thickening – up to 24% reduction! — in the animal model.–We have done an extensive literature review on arginine supplementation and have found that in over 30 studies demonstrating this fact addition to 150 known health benefits, it is capable of addressing the underlying dysfunction associated with cardiovascular disease: endothelial dysfunction, with no less than 20 studies proving this fact.
Turmeric (curcumin): the primary polyphenol in the Indian spice turmeric known as curcumin has been found to be an excellent cardioprotective, with over 30 studies demonstrating this fact. One study found that curcumin prevented damage to the arteries associated with blockage (neointima formation). We’ve discussed turmeric’s cardiovascular health benefits in greater depth in an article comparing it to aspirin here.
This is a small sample of evidence-based natural interventions for cardiovascular disease prevention and/or regression. We have a much larger set of studies on over 200 natural substances capable of reducing the risk of heart attack and associated cardiovascular diseases.
Remember, heart disease is not a natural process, that we must accept as inevitable based on family history of an outdated gene-based model of human disease risk. Our daily decisions, especially regarding what we decide we are going to eat or do not eat, are first and foremost. We can use food as medicine, sloughing off the pharmaceutical industry meme that we need statins to stave off the ‘inevitable.’ Take back control of your health with nutrition, and realize that food is the only medicine that will both nourish us and heal our bodies in a way that will produce lasting health.
The FBI is abusing ancestry genealogy websites by tapping into their DNA data. What’s worse, these companies are giving up users’ data under presumed consent that is buried in their terms and conditions, according to several reports.
FamilyTreeDNA is the first company known to be cooperating directly with the FBI to give its agents access to its genealogy database, according to a BuzzFeedreport.
A Family Tree DNA spokesperson told BuzzFeed that FamilyTree DNA’s agreement with the FBI gives the agency the ability to search more than a million genetic profiles — the majority of which were given by their customers without knowledge of the company’s relationship with the FBI. As part of the arrangement, Family Tree DNA has further agreed to test DNA evidence and identify the remains of deceased individuals in violent crimes for the FBI in its own laboratory.
In a statement, FamilyTreeDNA said that customers have the ability to opt out of matching features in their account settings. Doing so would prevent law enforcement from accessing their genetic information, but it also means a user would be unable to find potential family members through the service. According to Gizmodo, the company also seems to admonish those who choose to opt out by suggesting that it could be a “moral responsibility” to give up their private health information to the FBI.
However, the fact of genealogy companies are being subpoenaed by law enforcement isn’t a secret. In fact, it’s in the disclosures on their websites — FamilyTreeDNA, AncestryDNA, and 23andMe.
Forensic magazine reports that the FBI had previously had access to FamilyTreeDNA’s database before the partnership with the FBI.
After news broke that the FBI was accessing user data, FamilyTreeDNA announced that it would allow its customers to bar law enforcement from accessing their data, Engadget reported.
As an interesting corporate connection to make, one of the co-founders of 23andMe, Anne Wojcicki, is married to Google’s Sergey Brin. Unsurprisingly, Google Inc. also backs the DNA analysis company.
Last year, Drug giant GlaxoSmithKline invested US$300 million in the DNA-testing company in a deal that should raise eyebrows. A drug company working together with a DNA database company … what could possibly go wrong?
Under the deal, GSK has exclusive rights for four years to use 23andMe’s DNA database to develop new medicines using human genetics.
Activist Postreported last year Houston police launched a pilot program with the company ANDE to test a machine called Rapid DNA that runs DNA tests in under two hours.
“This rapid DNA is the future. It comes down to when mathematicians stopped using abacuses and started using calculators. It’s that important to criminal justice,” said Lt. Warren Meeler, Houston Police Department, Homicide Division.
As part of the test program, proper protocol for using the technology has been to swab each piece of evidence twice. First, the Houston Forensic Science Center (HFSC) takes an official sample for the lab, then Houston police take a second sample for the trial machine.
Rapid DNA results can’t be used in court, and the technology is only used for investigations in Houston, according to the news outlet.
The technology has some forensic scientists worried about whether it should be used at crime scenes, warning about the accuracy of the technology.
“I think everybody is comfortable that if there is a high concentration of DNA from a single source, so an oral swab from an individual, we’re confident the instruments produce good data. The questions start to come in circumstances where we’ve got touch DNA — smaller quantities of DNA, more mixtures, there’s more people on that doorknob that I’m swabbing – there I’m not sure anybody knows yet,” said Dr. Peter Stout, President and CEO of the Houston Forensic Science Center.
However, further research shows that Houston isn’t the only city using rapid DNA, police departments across the country—have rolled out their own pilot programs to test these miniature portable DNA lab machines that originate from the DHS.
“Rapid DNA, a newly commercialized technology developed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), addresses these challenges by greatly expediting the testing of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) that is the only biometric that can accurately verify family relationships. This technology can be used on the scene of mass fatality events, in refugee camps around the world, or at immigration office,” the DHS’s website reads.
An article in ProPublica warns that “over the last decade, collecting DNA from people who are not charged with — or even suspected of — any particular crime has become an increasingly routine practice for police.”
Congress enacted the “DNA Identification Act of 1994” authorizing the FBI to maintain a centralized, national DNA database and to develop a software system to allow for the sharing of information within and between states for law enforcement. By 2004, the resulting system – the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) – connected the databases of all fifty states, which at that time were limited to profiles from those convicted of serious, violent crimes. Signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 30, 2004, the “Justice For All Act” greatly expanded the CODIS system, allowing collection of DNA from all federal felons and further enabling states to upload to CODIS profiles from anyone convicted of a crime according to a secret congressional WikiLeaks document entitled: “DNA Evidence: Legislative Initiatives in the 106th Congress.”
On January 5, 2006, a barely noticed piece of legislation entitled the “DNA Fingerprint Act of 2005” was also signed into law by President George W. Bush, that severely expanded the government’s authority to collect and permanently retain DNA samples. The bill slipped through virtually unnoticed because the law was, buried in the back of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bill.
Unbeknownst to the public, the bill granted the government authority to obtain and permanently store DNA from anyone who is arrested as well as non-U.S. citizens detained under federal authorities like Border Control and DHS.
In December of 2015 nearly 10 years later, results from a rapid DNA device were submitted as evidence in a successful murder prosecution for the first time attempted murder case in Richland County, South Carolina. (That article now has been curiously deleted from Reuters and is only available on archive.org)
A bill before Congress, introduced on December 2015 by Sen. Orin Hatch, R-Utah, called for profiles collected by Rapid DNA devices to be connected to the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, the software and national database that stores DNA profiles from federal, state and local forensic laboratories.
During a Senate committee hearing on the Rapid DNA Act of 2015, disgraced former FBI Director James Comey said that passage of the bill “would help us change the world in a very, very exciting way. It will allow us, in booking stations around the country, if someone’s arrested, to know instantly—or near instantly—whether that person is the rapist who’s been on the loose in a particular community before they’re released on bail and get away or to clear somebody, to show that they’re not the person.”
In 2017, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) introduced “the SECURE Act” (S. 2192) on December 5th. The bill largely borrows from two other federal bills—H.R. 3548 and S. 1757
The Rapid DNA Act of 2017, S.139 and HR.510 passed last year, amended the DNA Identification Act of 1994, allowing previous hurdles to be surpassed by the new technology.
The bill was sponsored by U.S. Senate sponsor Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and lead co-sponsor Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) as well as House sponsor Congressman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and lead co-sponsor Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA), along with 12 Senate and 24 House co-sponsors for their support, Business Wirereported.
“Today marks a landmark day in more efficiently fighting crime and supporting law enforcement,” stated Robert Schueren, President and CEO of IntegenX. “IntegenX products have already enabled numerous DNA profile uploads to our nation’s DNA database (CODIS). We look forward to the updated FBI guidelines, and subsequent CODIS uploads from the booking environment.”
“Rapid DNA is a promising new technology and an effective tool for law enforcement – I’m thrilled to be seeing it signed into law. This technology will help quickly identify arrestees and offenders, reduce the overwhelming backlog in forensic DNA analysis, and make crime fighting more efficient while helping to prevent future crimes from occurring. It will also save time and taxpayer dollars,” commented Congressman Sensenbrenner, Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Oversight.
“This bill will help law enforcement agencies solve crimes faster and help those wrongfully accused to be exonerated from crimes they did not commit—almost instantly. The Rapid DNA Act updates the statutory framework in how DNA samples are entered into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System by allowing the use of this remarkable Rapid DNA technology,” stated Senator Hatch.
In 2017, President Trump signed into law the Rapid DNA Act, which, enables police booking stations in several states to connect their Rapid DNA machines to CODIS, the national DNA database.
But CODIS isn’t only shared by the states. We learn from a Plus D WikiLeaks release, that the DNA information processing and telecommunications system was gifted to Argentina in 2009 by U.S. Ambassador Earl Wayne, according to a cable. The system was gifted to “help the province solve crimes and exonerate innocent suspects.”
“On the very topical issue of crime and personal security, the Ambassador helped launch the province’s participation in the Combined DNA Indexing System (CODIS). CODIS, an automated DNA information processing and telecommunications system, was donated by the FBI,” the cable reads.
Meanwhile, another WikiLeaks Plus D cable talks about “specialized training and state of the art equipment donations enabling Colombian forensic labs to investigate human rights violations more effectively. These donations included the enhancement of DNA analyzers and the CODIS database; upgrading of the Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS); updating of forensic imaging and document analysis systems; upgrading of the automated fingerprint identification system; and the design and installation of a wireless network providing inter-agency connectivity and information sharing,” according to the cable, entitled: “SUPPORTING HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY: THE U.S. RECORD IN COLOMBIA 2004-2005.”
This leads us to several questions. First, how many more countries were given access to the CODIS system; is this DNA database shared amongst countries in an agreement similar to the Five Eyes spying arrangement, or did the U.S. sell the software similar to the infamous PROMIS software? And, like PROMIS (Inslaw scandal), does this software have a backdoor for U.S. intel agencies to access other countries’ DNA data?
These are all questions we should find ourselves asking.
Even the DHS is looking into using the Rapid DNA technology for immigration purposes to stop adults fleeing with kids and ensure that they are their actual relatives. But later the DHS postponed the technology in 2015 to develop a stricter protocol for its use, Nextgov reported.
“The implementation of the program has been postponed until new voluntary consent forms are developed as well as operational protocols for translation,” Department of Homeland Security spokesman John Verrico told Nextgov in an email.
DHS documents obtained by the EFF state that the military may be interested in using rapid DNA in the future to reveal information about individuals such as their sex, race, health, and age.
In a 2013 privacy impact assessment for Rapid DNA pilot testing, the DHS stated that the portion of DNA analyzed by the devices does not reveal any “sensitive information about an individual, and will not, under any circumstances, be used for decisions based on those criteria.”
The EFF disagrees with Comey and the DHS, and has previously stated that the test pilot DNA program “may create controversy,” according to internal documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation civil liberties group. In a high priority e-mail from 2011, a DHS officer wrote to colleagues that “if DHS fails to provide an adequate response to media inquiries regarding RapidDNA quickly, civil rights/civil liberties organizations may attempt to shut down the test program.”
There are already numerous issues with keeping a DNA data bank. Privacy and civil rights advocates and watchdog groups have argued against the practice in California of retaining DNA from legally innocent people, thereby violating constitutional privacy rights, Mercury Newsreported.
Further, forensic labs (including the FBI) have shown flaws over the last few years exposing shoddy laboratory procedures including – grossly inaccurate testimony by law enforcement, and, in a few cases, outright false documentation or mixing up of results. DNA has been constantly linked to the wrong person similar to facial recognition biometric data.
If that’s not all reason enough for us to be skeptical about these systems, in 2015, the FBI found DNA data errors within its own national CODIS database, The Washington Post reported.
In another case, familial DNA was the culprit responsible for a false positive on a murder in Idaho. This resulted in Michael Usry in a police station with an FBI agent cotton swabbing him as he was completely confused by what was happening, Wired reported in 2015.
While genetics might be able to identify a felon, forensic scientists and lawyers agree that the information gathered can’t be able to gather more than that. As the Supreme Court wrote in its Maryland v King decision to allow DNA collection, this issue is “open to dispute.”
Forensic magazine notes the dangers of a DNA database, stating its a threat to “medical privacy.”
These genetic databases are an absolute gold mine for law enforcement. I am not sure anyone can argue that catching serial killers and rapists, or using CODIS for tracking missing children is bad; however, problems start to arise when these genetic databases are used to target people for deportation or sweep up the completely innocent in its dragnet.
Along with facial recognition, DNA databases are the first step towards an Orwellian society where the government knows your whereabouts, at all times. It’s a nightmarish outlook for our future; but what’s worse in some instances, like in the form of DNA, we are being tricked to give up our freedoms and privacy. As a CRS Congressional “think tank” report warned: “future DNA collection cases might raise graver Fourth Amendment privacy concerns than previous cases.”
The FBI plans to begin rolling out Rapid DNA to more police departments slowly in 2019, according to a Washington Postreport.
“Our goal in 2019 is to be able to have a pilot project done where we actually develop a DNA profile in a booking station, with no human review, and have it electronically enrolled and searched in the national database,” Thomas Callaghan, chief biometric scientist for the FBI Laboratory, told the news outlet. “We have to ensure that the quality that’s done in a lab can be done in a booking station.
Civil liberties organizations and activists are pushing back against new laws which criminalize protests and free speech related to pipeline projects.
In late March, a coalition of Native activists, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the ACLU of South Dakota filed suit against the State of South Dakota in an effort to repeal recently passed state laws aimed at curbing “rioters” during the upcoming construction of the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline. South Dakota Senate Bill 189 and SB 190 have created controversy due to the potential to prevent peaceful and legal protest of environmental projects.
Senate Bill 189, also known as the Riot Boosting Act, grants the state the authority to sue any individual or organization for what they call “riot-boosting,” or encouraging and/or participating in acts of force or violence. SB 190 sets up funding to pay for state, county, and local police to combat potential pipeline protesters. This means that any individual who is attending a protest or rally against the Keystone Pipeline (or other future pipeline) could become subject to civil or criminal penalties, whether they engage in violence or not. The plaintiffs in the suit argue that the language of the bill is vague and does not clearly define what type of conduct or speech is considered “riot-boosting” or encouraging a riot.
The Washington Times reports that South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has stated that the legislation will help shut down protests of the Keystone XL Pipeline and prevent a battle between protesters and police as was seen during the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota in 2016. The Times notes that Noem believes protesters were funded by “out-of-state liberal donors, such as George Soros.” South Dakota State Sen. John Wiik said the introduction of the new laws “stems from what happened up at Cannonball, North Dakota.”
Plaintiffs on the lawsuit include the NDN Collective, the Indigenous Environmental Network, the Sierra Club, Dakota Rural Action, Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network, and Nick Tilsen, President and CEO of the NDN Collective.
“Gov. Kristi Noem’s legislation is yet another way to promote Big Oil interests and prevent dissent by making protesters subject to legal action,” says Kim Pate, Vice President of NDN Collective.
The NDN Collective recently wrote that the broad language in SB 189 means that “anyone that contributes to a protest, whether through monetary donations, donations of supplies, or even through organizing a page on social media, can be held liable, and have civil and criminal penalties for supporting a protest that the state deems ‘violent‘.” Further, the law states that individuals or organizations can be held liable even if they are not on the ground in South Dakota. The NDN Collective also states that the law would allow TransCanada to redirect money seized from protesters and organization towards pipeline construction.
The ACLU of South Dakota has also condemned the new laws, stating, “We’re prepared to stand on the front lines and defend your right to peacefully protest and express your opinions freely.”
It’s hard to think of a more fundamental right than the right to determine what happens to one’s own body. Forcing someone to undergo medical treatment against their will violates this most basic of rights—the right to be free from physical assault. Yet even somelibertarians have jumped on the mandatory vaccination bandwagon, arguing that one person not taking every possible precaution against contracting a disease constitutes an assault against another. But this line of thinking requires some very tortured logic
begin with, nobody has a “right” to a germ-free environment outside of
their own property (and good luck establishing one there). Proponents of
vaccine mandates assert this “right” as if it is a long-standing social
or legal norm, but it is not. Human beings have been living among each
other for millennia, and there has never been a widely asserted right to
freedom from any and all pathogens at others’ expense.
historically, been a widely held and asserted expectation of quarantine
in the case of exceptionally dangerous illnesses. However, this is not
at all what the proponents of mandated vaccines are calling for.
Quarantine is simply the demand that those who are already infected with
a disease remain isolated in their homes or elsewhere until they are no
longer able to infect others.
This is profoundly different from what the pro-mandate crowd demands: that those who are not infected undergo a medical procedure to minimize their chances of becoming infected. This is a much more intrusive demand and a potentially dangerous one.
Furthermore, measles—the scariest thing the mandate pushers can come up with—is not even on the list of federally quarantinable diseases. And rightly so, as it hardly qualifies as an exceptionally dangerous disease in the developed world.
Long before the vaccine was available, the mortality rate had fallen to around 1 in 10,000 cases, and it was widely considered to be a benign childhood illness that nearly everyone contracted.
what has changed in the last few years? How is it that all of a sudden,
measles has gone from a disease not even worthy of mandatory quarantine
for the infected to one that has generated near-mass hysteria and
demands for the far more intrusive forced medical intervention against
those who are not infected?
What About Herd Immunity?
In 2016, then-Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson announced that he had reversed his position on vaccine mandates and now supported them. The reason? Someone told him about herd immunity:
come to find out that without mandatory vaccines, the vaccines that
would in fact be issued would not be effective. So … it’s dependent that
you have mandatory vaccines so that every child is immune. Otherwise,
not all children will be immune even though they receive a vaccine.
Had Johnson looked just a little more deeply, he would have learned that the theory of vaccine-induced herd immunity is not as solid as its proponents would have us believe. The idea was first put forward by A.W. Hedrich in 1933, based on his observation that
measles outbreaks were suppressed when 68 percent of children had
contracted the measles virus. This observation had nothing to do with
vaccination, as the measles vaccine had not even been developed yet.
is an important distinction for a few reasons. Perhaps most
importantly: While the immunity conferred by contracting measles lasts a
lifetime, that conferred by vaccination does not. What this means is
that a 90 percent vaccination rate does not equate to 90 percent of the population having immunity. As Dr. Russell Blaylock says:
It was not until relatively recently that it was discovered that most of these vaccines lost their effectiveness 2 to 10 years after being given. What this means is that at least half the population, that is the baby boomers, have had no vaccine-induced immunity against any of these diseases for which they had been vaccinated very early in life. In essence, at least 50% or more of the population was unprotected for decades.F
we listen to present-day wisdom, we are all at risk of resurgent
massive epidemics should the vaccination rate fall below 95%. Yet, we
have all lived for at least 30 to 40 years with 50% or less of the
population having vaccine protection. That is, herd immunity has not
existed in this country for many decades and no resurgent epidemics have
occurred. Vaccine-induced herd immunity is a lie used to frighten
doctors, public-health officials, other medical personnel, and the
public into accepting vaccinations.
The larger point, though, is that even if the idea of vaccine-induced herd immunity did hold
up to scrutiny, it would at best be a positive externality—not
something that anyone has the right to demand from others at gunpoint.
But What about Those Who Cannot Be Vaccinated?
Others have written more comprehensively on the fallacy of using
medically fragile people as an excuse for forcing everyone to be
vaccinated. So I’ll just say this: Nobody has an obligation to vaccinate
themselves or their children in order to protect the most medically
vulnerable among us.
My own daughter is intellectually disabled
and suffers from seizures. Much of the outside world is a dangerous and
scary place where she could easily be badly hurt or worse. Yet I would
never dream of using force to compel those around me to make the world
safe for my daughter. Keeping her safe is my job and my husband’s job—not everyone else’s.
doubt that those who promote this line of thinking have really thought
through the implications of what they are asking for: requiring everyone to
alter their lives and actions in order to accommodate the most
medically fragile, at all times and in all spaces. What they are
demanding has implications far beyond vaccines.
if they really do believe that not being vaccinated constitutes a form
of aggression against others, then why confine their demands to
children?You do not have the right to force a medical procedure on another person.
should you and I and the vast majority of all adults in the US be
exempt from the requirement to be completely up to date on all of the vaccines the CDC and its pharmaceuticalindustrycronies have
decided we should have? Are we not also committing aggression every day
we go out in public, exposing others to diseases we do not yet have but
might possibly contract?Of course, if disease transmission is really
what the proponents of vaccine mandates are worried about, then they
should also demand that those recently vaccinated with live-virus vaccines not be allowed in schools or any public spaces. And if they aren’t demanding this, then one has to wonder whether the transmission of disease really is their primary concern.
bottom line, though, has nothing to do with the science behind
vaccines, nor with herd immunity, nor competing claims about vaccine
safety and vaccine harm. Nor does it have to do with how serious
diseases like measles are or are not. It is simply this: You do not have
the right to force a medical procedure on another person.
libertarian thinking 101. You are free to do whatever you wish with
what is yours—and other people are not yours. You do not own them, and
you do not get to make decisions over their bodies and their lives. You
may exclude them from your property if you wish, but you may not force
them to undergo medical (or non-medical) procedures against their will.
You don’t even have to be a libertarian to understand this. The right to
bodily integrity, to be free from assault, is the most fundamental of
all human rights. If it is not protected, then no other rights even
Steve Taylor, Ph.D. – As a psychologist, I have been studying what I call “awakening experiences” for a decade, and have recently published (with a co-author) a new study of 90 such experiences in The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology.
Awakening experiences are moments in which our awareness expands and intensifies. We transcend the worries that normally preoccupy us and feel a sense of elation or serenity. Our perceptions of the world around us become more vivid, and we feel a sense of connection to nature, other human beings or the whole universe in general. We feel a sense of love and compassion, and there is a strong sense that we have transcended a limited state, and that awareness has become more authentic than normal. At higher intensities of awakening experiences, we may even feel that we have lost our normal sense of identity and somehow become one with the whole world.
My research has found that there are three contexts that consistently show up as major triggers of awakening experiences. Around a third occur in situations of stress, depression and loss. For example, a woman described how she was devastated by the end of a seven-year relationship, “facing a suffering that I didn’t imagine could possibly exist.’” However, in the midst of this suffering, she “began to experience a clearness and connection with everything that existed…I was in a state of such pure happiness and acceptance, that I was no longer afraid of anything. Out of that depth arose such a compassion and connection to everything that surrounded me.”
The second major trigger of awakening experiences identified by my research is contact with nature. Around a quarter of the experiences take place in natural surroundings, apparently induced by the beauty and stillness of nature. People reported awakening experiences that occurred while they walking in the countryside, swimming in lakes, or gazing at beautiful flowers or sunsets. And the third most significant trigger of awakening experiences according to my research— with a similar frequency to contact with nature—is spiritual practice. This primarily means meditation, but also includes prayer and psycho-physical practices such as yoga or tai chi. The relaxing, mind-quietening effect of these practices seems to facilitate awakening experiences.
However, perhaps the most significant thing about awakening experiences is their after-effects. Even though they are typically of a very short duration—from a few moments to a few hours—they frequently have a life-changing effect.
Many people described an awakening experience as the most significant moment of their lives, reporting a major change in their perspective on life, and in their values. In our 2017 study of 90 awakening experiences, the most significant after-effect was a greater sense of trust, confidence, and optimism. For example, one person reported that even though “that whole experience was brief, it left a little piece of knowing and hope. While I still was and am on a journey of self-reflection, it left me knowing that your inner truth is always there for you.” Another person reported that, “To know that it’s there (or here, I should say) is a great liberation.”
One person had a powerful awakening experience while suffering from intense depression during which she “felt the most intense love and peace and knew that all was well.” The experience only lasted for a few minutes, but in its aftermath, she found that the feeling of dread had disappeared from her stomach, and she felt able to cope again, which led to a new, positive phase in her life. As she described it, “I looked around and thought about all the good things in my life and the future. I felt more positive and resilient.” Another person described how her awakening experience “allowed me a glance into the other side and opened me to the knowing that I am never separate, alone, nor unheld.”
Such changes in attitude sometimes led to significant lifestyle changes, such as new interests, new relationships and a new career. Some people reported becoming less materialistic and giving up high-powered professional careers for a simpler, more altruistic lifestyle.
This shows that awakening experiences have a powerful therapeutic effect. They make us realize that the world is a much more benign and meaningful place than we normally perceive it to be. And once we have glimpsed this, it becomes a permanent reality to us. As the great psychologist Abraham Maslow noted – in relation to what he called peak experiences — ‘A single glimpse of heaven is enough to confirm its existence.’