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eugenics | Description, History, & Modern Eugenics …

Early history

Although eugenics as understood today dates from the late 19th century, efforts to select matings in order to secure offspring with desirable traits date from ancient times. Platos Republic (c. 378 bce) depicts a society where efforts are undertaken to improve human beings through selective breeding. Later, Italian philosopher and poet Tommaso Campanella, in City of the Sun (1623), described a utopian community in which only the socially elite are allowed to procreate. Galton, in Hereditary Genius (1869), proposed that a system of arranged marriages between men of distinction and women of wealth would eventually produce a gifted race. In 1865 the basic laws of heredity were discovered by the father of modern genetics, Gregor Mendel. His experiments with peas demonstrated that each physical trait was the result of a combination of two units (now known as genes) and could be passed from one generation to another. However, his work was largely ignored until its rediscovery in 1900. This fundamental knowledge of heredity provided eugenicistsincluding Galton, who influenced his cousin Charles Darwinwith scientific evidence to support the improvement of humans through selective breeding.

The advancement of eugenics was concurrent with an increasing appreciation of Darwins account for change or evolution within societywhat contemporaries referred to as social Darwinism. Darwin had concluded his explanations of evolution by arguing that the greatest step humans could make in their own history would occur when they realized that they were not completely guided by instinct. Rather, humans, through selective reproduction, had the ability to control their own future evolution. A language pertaining to reproduction and eugenics developed, leading to terms such as positive eugenics, defined as promoting the proliferation of good stock, and negative eugenics, defined as prohibiting marriage and breeding between defective stock. For eugenicists, nature was far more contributory than nurture in shaping humanity.

During the early 1900s eugenics became a serious scientific study pursued by both biologists and social scientists. They sought to determine the extent to which human characteristics of social importance were inherited. Among their greatest concerns were the predictability of intelligence and certain deviant behaviours. Eugenics, however, was not confined to scientific laboratories and academic institutions. It began to pervade cultural thought around the globe, including the Scandinavian countries, most other European countries, North America, Latin America, Japan, China, and Russia. In the United States the eugenics movement began during the Progressive Era and remained active through 1940. It gained considerable support from leading scientific authorities such as zoologist Charles B. Davenport, plant geneticist Edward M. East, and geneticist and Nobel Prize laureate Hermann J. Muller. Political leaders in favour of eugenics included U.S. Pres. Theodore Roosevelt, Secretary of State Elihu Root, and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court John Marshall Harlan. Internationally, there were many individuals whose work supported eugenic aims, including British scientists J.B.S. Haldane and Julian Huxley and Russian scientists Nikolay K. Koltsov and Yury A. Filipchenko.

Galton had endowed a research fellowship in eugenics in 1904 and, in his will, provided funds for a chair of eugenics at University College, London. The fellowship and later the chair were occupied by Karl Pearson, a brilliant mathematician who helped to create the science of biometry, the statistical aspects of biology. Pearson was a controversial figure who believed that environment had little to do with the development of mental or emotional qualities. He felt that the high birth rate of the poor was a threat to civilization and that the higher races must supplant the lower. His views gave countenance to those who believed in racial and class superiority. Thus, Pearson shares the blame for the discredit later brought on eugenics.

In the United States, the Eugenics Record Office (ERO) was opened at Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, New York, in 1910 with financial support from the legacy of railroad magnate Edward Henry Harriman. Whereas ERO efforts were officially overseen by Charles B. Davenport, director of the Station for Experimental Study of Evolution (one of the biology research stations at Cold Spring Harbor), ERO activities were directly superintended by Harry H. Laughlin, a professor from Kirksville, Missouri. The ERO was organized around a series of missions. These missions included serving as the national repository and clearinghouse for eugenics information, compiling an index of traits in American families, training fieldworkers to gather data throughout the United States, supporting investigations into the inheritance patterns of particular human traits and diseases, advising on the eugenic fitness of proposed marriages, and communicating all eugenic findings through a series of publications. To accomplish these goals, further funding was secured from the Carnegie Institution of Washington, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the Battle Creek Race Betterment Foundation, and the Human Betterment Foundation.

Prior to the founding of the ERO, eugenics work in the United States was overseen by a standing committee of the American Breeders Association (eugenics section established in 1906), chaired by ichthyologist and Stanford University president David Starr Jordan. Research from around the globe was featured at three international congresses, held in 1912, 1921, and 1932. In addition, eugenics education was monitored in Britain by the English Eugenics Society (founded by Galton in 1907 as the Eugenics Education Society) and in the United States by the American Eugenics Society.

Following World War I, the United States gained status as a world power. A concomitant fear arose that if the healthy stock of the American people became diluted with socially undesirable traits, the countrys political and economic strength would begin to crumble. The maintenance of world peace by fostering democracy, capitalism, and, at times, eugenics-based schemes was central to the activities of the Internationalists, a group of prominent American leaders in business, education, publishing, and government. One core member of this group, the New York lawyer Madison Grant, aroused considerable pro-eugenic interest through his best-selling book The Passing of the Great Race (1916). Beginning in 1920, a series of congressional hearings was held to identify problems that immigrants were causing the United States. As the countrys eugenics expert, Harry Laughlin provided tabulations showing that certain immigrants, particularly those from Italy, Greece, and Eastern Europe, were significantly overrepresented in American prisons and institutions for the feebleminded. Further data were construed to suggest that these groups were contributing too many genetically and socially inferior people. Laughlins classification of these individuals included the feebleminded, the insane, the criminalistic, the epileptic, the inebriate, the diseasedincluding those with tuberculosis, leprosy, and syphilisthe blind, the deaf, the deformed, the dependent, chronic recipients of charity, paupers, and neer-do-wells. Racial overtones also pervaded much of the British and American eugenics literature. In 1923 Laughlin was sent by the U.S. secretary of labour as an immigration agent to Europe to investigate the chief emigrant-exporting nations. Laughlin sought to determine the feasibility of a plan whereby every prospective immigrant would be interviewed before embarking to the United States. He provided testimony before Congress that ultimately led to a new immigration law in 1924 that severely restricted the annual immigration of individuals from countries previously claimed to have contributed excessively to the dilution of American good stock.

Immigration control was but one method to control eugenically the reproductive stock of a country. Laughlin appeared at the centre of other U.S. efforts to provide eugenicists greater reproductive control over the nation. He approached state legislators with a model law to control the reproduction of institutionalized populations. By 1920, two years before the publication of Laughlins influential Eugenical Sterilization in the United States (1922), 3,200 individuals across the country were reported to have been involuntarily sterilized. That number tripled by 1929, and by 1938 more than 30,000 people were claimed to have met this fate. More than half of the states adopted Laughlins law, with California, Virginia, and Michigan leading the sterilization campaign. Laughlins efforts secured staunch judicial support in 1927. In the precedent-setting case of Buck v. Bell, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., upheld the Virginia statute and claimed, It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.

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eugenics | Description, History, & Modern Eugenics ...

Introduction to Eugenics – Genetics Generation

Introduction to Eugenics

Eugenics is a movement that is aimed at improving the genetic composition of the human race. Historically, eugenicists advocated selective breeding to achieve these goals. Today we have technologies that make it possible to more directly alter the genetic composition of an individual. However, people differ in their views on how to best (and ethically) use this technology.

History of Eugenics

Logo of the Second International Congress of Eugenics, 1921. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In 1883, Sir Francis Galton, a respected British scholar and cousin of Charles Darwin,first used the term eugenics, meaning well-born. Galton believed that the human race could help direct its future by selectively breeding individuals who have desired traits. This idea was based on Galtons study of upper class Britain. Following these studies, Galton concluded that an elite position in society was due to a good genetic makeup. While Galtons plans to improve the human race through selective breeding never came to fruition in Britain, they eventually took sinister turns in other countries.

The eugenics movement began in the U.S. in the late 19th century. However, unlike in Britain, eugenicists in the U.S. focused on efforts to stop the transmission of negative or undesirable traits from generation to generation. In response to these ideas, some US leaders, private citizens, and corporations started funding eugenical studies. This lead to the 1911 establishment of The Eugenics Records Office (ERO) in Cold Spring Harbor, New York. The ERO spent time tracking family histories and concluded that people deemed to be unfit more often came from families that were poor, low in social standing, immigrant, and/or minority. Further, ERO researchers demonstrated that the undesirable traits in these families, such as pauperism, were due to genetics, and not lack of resources.

Committees were convened to offer solutions to the problem of the growing number of undesirables in the U.S. population. Stricter immigration rules were enacted, but the most ominous resolution was a plan to sterilize unfit individuals to prevent them from passing on their negative traits. During the 20th century, a total of 33 states had sterilization programs in place. While at first sterilization efforts targeted mentally ill people exclusively, later the traits deemed serious enough to warrant sterilization included alcoholism, criminality chronic poverty, blindness, deafness, feeble-mindedness, and promiscuity. It was also not uncommon for African American women to be sterilized during other medical procedures without consent. Most people subjected to these sterilizations had no choice, and because the program was run by the government, they had little chance of escaping the procedure. It is thought that around 65,000 Americans were sterilized during this time period.

The eugenics movement in the U.S. slowly lost favor over time and was waning by the start of World War II. When the horrors of Nazi Germany became apparent, as well as Hitlers use of eugenic principles to justify the atrocities, eugenics lost all credibility as a field of study or even an ideal that should be pursued.

CLICK HERE to learn more about eugenics in modern times

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Introduction to Eugenics - Genetics Generation

There’s A New Problematic Dating Trend, One Based On DNA Matching – HuffPost India

digiD8/ Screenshotdigid8

BOKARO STEEL CITY, JharkhandWhat do you hope for when you log into a dating app? Chemistry, good looks, educational qualification, maybe family background? Sanaya (name changed) was lucky enough to meet her partner through a dating app and even better, both their families were on board for the wedding.

But the couples first child was born with a genetic disorder that, doctors said, would prevent his mental development as he grew past infancy. Sanaya told HuffPost India she wished she was aware of this risk before going through this heartbreak with her husband.

People like Sanaya may have their wish granted if one Harvard geneticist succeeds in his plans.Earlier this month, Harvard professor George Church, who specialises in gene editing research, said on aTV showthat he is trying to ensure no child is born with genetic disorders. How will this happen? Through developing a dating app that would match people through DNAmeaning two people who share the same gene will not be matched with each other.

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The dating app, named digiD8, has been co-founded by Church, and engineer Barghavi Govindarajan who spoke to HuffPost India about their app, and its vision. Asked how this app does not promote eugenics, Govindarajan highlighted a statement from Church to the media:There are a lot of diseases which are not so serious which may be beneficial to society in providing, for example, brain diversity. We wouldnt want to lose that. But if [a baby] has some very serious genetic disease that causes a lot of pain and suffering, costs millions of dollars to treat and they still die young, thats what were trying to deal with.

While this sounds like a reasonable way to ensure that babies and their parents are safe from the risk of genetic disorders such as down syndrome, cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anaemia, the proposal has also received criticism from people who say that it is a way of promoting eugenicsa philosophy that advocates that its possible to improve the quality of the human species through selective breeding. The eugenics movement, which began in the US in the late 19th century, was infamously advocated by Hitler and the Nazis, to create a Germanic bermensch.

The movement lost its credibility after the Second World War, and it is now widely accepted that variations in genes give rise to diversity in a culture, which is essential for its flourishing generation after generation. Critics have called out digiD8 for bringing back these issuesfor example, Janus Rose argued in Vice that although Church and Govindarajan may not mean to use it in such a way, others could use the technology to identify people with a theoretical gene for gender dysphoria, eliminating trans people or people with other kinds of disabilities.

Its not the technology itself thats problematic. Its how we use it, Vardit Ravitsky, a bioethicist at the Universit de Montral, wrote on a Medium blog.So I guess this means wiping me out along with millions of other disabled people. Ever considered that having a disease doesnt mean a life thats tragic or full of suffering?

Alice Wong, the founder of the Disability Visibility Project, tweeted, calling it ableism and eugenics.

From the time Church revealed the concept behind digiD8, many people have been horrified by the notion. On 60 Minutes, he claimed it could be a cheap way to eradicate thousands of diseases that cost about a trillion dollars a year, worldwide, although he didnt give specific data about the source of this figure.

A since-removed job listing on the digiD8 website also claimed the company is pursuing an untapped market by creating a dating service that uses science to evaluate lineal compatibility, an apparent reference to caste and tribe group self-segregation practices that occur in the Gulf region and in India, the MIT Technology Review reported.

In todays world, where we have a clearer understanding of how genes work,is there any justification for the idea of matching people based on their genomes? And if so, is a dating app the right way to actually make it happen? And lastly, who will be responsible for the security of the humongous amounts of sensitive data generated?

Most people carry a mutant genea gene whose structure is different from that found normallywhich they pass on to their offspring.A single mutant gene may or may not cause sickness, depending on how dominant it is. But if a person has two copies of the same recessive mutant gene, that causes sickness.

Children inherit genes from both the parents. If both their parents have the same mutant gene, they have a 25% probability of being born with the disease caused by that recessive mutant gene.

Church argues that if everyone chose partners based on their genome sequence, about 7,000 diseases could be eliminated forever, and removing the 5% of the worlds population that would have been born with rare diseases, if the DNA matching wasnt done.

Of course, for this, everyone would need to get their genome sequenced.

According to Church, matching people by their genes will prevent the birth of children with debilitating genetic disordersso factors such as race, or even what the genes carry wont matter at all; the app is only concerned with matching genes that dont carry markers for disorders.

digiD8/ ScreenshotThe digiD8 founders, Bhargavi Govindarajan (L) and George Church (R).

Dr. Nimmi Rangaswamy, Associate Professor at IIIT Hyderabad, who researches on the Sociology of Digital Media, and has worked in the development of technologies for consumer-centric heath care, at Xerox, and done ethnographic field research on technology use in developing countries for Microsoft Research, thinks parents should have a say in whether they want such a child or not. Technocracy cannot determine what is right for them. There have been known cases where parents have gone ahead with the second child despite the first child being born with inherited genetic disorder, people shouldnt be controlled by technology.

At the same time, Rangaswamy, who is also supervising research on dating app experiences, thinks a dating app shouldnt be the way to go about this. It seems almost as if Bhargavi and Church are proposing to use a dating app because it grabs [the] attention.

These apps are used by individuals to meet new people, have fun and explore the possibility of developing relationships, she said.

Marriage and making babies is the last thing on the mind of those using dating apps. They are there just to expand their social circle beyond the existing one. And in case of restrictive societies like India, explore their sexuality too. If marriage happens, thats a bonus.

Church told HuffPost India that, people choosing digiD8 would just need to spit, send and sit back. The app will throw up matches after screening out candidates based on their genome matching, in addition to the usual dating app criteria. The genome sequencing would be kept confidential, even from the person themselves.

But that sounds counter-intuitive. Genome data is critical information that should belong to the person whose DNA is being used.

Pre-nuptial or IVF genetic counselling is not entirely unheard ofthere are many ethnicities globally that carry more than their fair share of genetic variants and kids born in such societies are more likely to have inherited genetic disorders than anywhere else in the world. Organisations such asDor Yeshorim have been able to eradicate rare diseases like Tay Sachs among Jewish communities through pre-nuptial genetic counselling.

As experience has shown time and again,once any data is lodged within an app or its server, its privacy and security are questionable. The privacy of genotype data and how it is handled must be considered carefully before any such data is collected. This may be even more important in countries where data privacy laws are not very robust, like India.

Doctors, however, caution against dismissing Churchs suggestions completely. Dr. Apeksha Pathak, a pediatrician, says, It is a good idea to match genotype genes to predict inherited diseases in offspring. There are certain inherited diseases which are quite common, like thalassemia. But there are some that are rare, but life-threatening and expensive to manage.

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There's A New Problematic Dating Trend, One Based On DNA Matching - HuffPost India

Backstory 2019: What Seven Days Writers Didn’t Tell You the First Time Around – Seven Days

A couple of Seven Days reporters tracked down seven ex-priests accused of sexual molestation and knocked on their doors.Another questioned an impeachment hearing witness in a Capitol Hill men's room. One brave writer spent a week milking cows, and getting shit upon, to find out what it's really like to work on a Vermont dairy farm.

Seven Days journalists go to great lengths sometimes literally to find good stories, and the process can be awkward, painful, scary or inconvenient. But it's never boring.

The original story idea may well change in the process of investigation. And not everything makes it into the final published piece. So, once a year, our reporters and editors share what we call "backstories," the tales behind the ones you read in Seven Days. They can be fascinating, humorous or sad.

These anecdotes reveal our purpose and methods for example, how difficult it is to communicate with a source in prison, or what to do when no one will talk to you in Orwell, of all places.

This year our data editor wrangled a trove of public records from the Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living to build a database that showed violations at eldercare facilities. At the State Archives, our Burlington reporter had to surrender her backpack, pen and water bottle to study the original, hard-copy documents that chronicle Vermont's involvement in the eugenics movement.

Verifying that the state owns two World War II-era rifles with Nazi insignia required a little more sleuthing.

Each week, the editorial team fans out with notebooks and cameras, driven by curiosity and a desire to tell readers what's happening and why it's important. Their "backstories" show the obstacles we face and the fun we have while pursuing the people, events and news that make Vermont such an interesting place.

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Backstory 2019: What Seven Days Writers Didn't Tell You the First Time Around - Seven Days

Scandal of The Tinker Experiment: demands for apology over Scotland’s treatment of gypsy travellers – HeraldScotland

THEY are small huts, scattered across the country, which appear on the outside to be fairly unassuming

But behind the walls of the barely habitable dwellings lay the truth of a bizarre experiment that saw Scottish authorities attempt to control a distinct racial group in a bid to get them to integrate into mainstream society.

Known as the "Tinker Experiment", it saw members of the travelling community placed in specially provided huts, far from the rest of society, in a bid to break them into joining the rest of the population and effectively kill off their culture.

Remarkably, most of these sites only closed in the 1980s, but one in Pitlochry remained in use only a decade ago.

READ MORE:Gypsy Travellers: Scotland's human rights shame

Now members of the travelling community are demanding an official apology from the Scottish Government for what they call Scotland's secret shame, and they're planning a protest at Holyrood next month.

They are angry that other sections of society have received apologies for historically poor treatment from the state while they still wait, despite it being illegal to discriminate against gypsy travellers on grounds of race since the Equality Act of 2010.

Shamus McPhee, who was a subject of the experiment at Bobbin Mill, Pitlochry, pointed out that each reason the Scottish Government had given why it couldn't apologise for the Tinker Experiment could be rebutted through a previous apology to another distinct group.

He said the Government had in the past said it was unable to apologise for the actions of a previous government, ignoring an unreserved apologise to the gay community. On another occasion, he said, it claimed claimed it couldn't apologise for local government initiatives or the actions of public bodies but apologised for the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.

Mr McPhee said another government defence had been that it couldn't offer apologies for events which predated devolution, but that that overlooked an apology to those affected by the contaminated blood scandals of the 1980s and 1990s.

He said: "A programme of eugenics saw Gypsy Travellers separated out on racial grounds for removal from Scottish society. This marked a top-down, concerted approach, designed to eradicate a specific group of people.

"I think that quite a striking analogy can be drawn between our treatment, almost colonial in aspect, especially the level of subsequent denial, and that of the aboriginal people in Australia. The extent of that institutional racism is most clearly illuminated in the response from central government in Scotland, which has been described as 'wilful blindness' on the part of the ruling elite."

READ MORE:Scotland needs to do better for Gypsy/Travellers

His sister Roseanna adds: "Although the authorities said it was a housing experiment it was actually a racial experiment, it was a form of eugenics because nobody could be put in the houses unless they were what they called a 'tinker'.

"There was no one from mainstream society who was put there and we were kept away from that mainstream. These houses were specifically designed to ease the tinker problem."

The genesis of what became known as the Tinker Experiment in private government circles began just over a century ago. In a deputation to the Secretary of Scotland in 1917, it was claimed that "with kindly treatment, tinkers could be reclaimed and brought into line with ordinary civilisation".

The chair of the Department of Tinkers in Scotland, the Duchess of Atholl, asked for a Scotland-wide census on the numbers and social make-up of these communities.

This was an attempt to measure what was called at the time in the press as the "Tinker Problem", and then solve this problem by assimilating travellers into mainstream Scottish society by threatening to remove their children into care.

By forcing them to send their children to school for a set number of days, the gypsy families would have to settle in permanent accommodation as governments and local authorities recognised that the families had a close bond with their children.

Due to the secretive nature of the plan, exact figures have been hard to come by, but it is believed that thousands of individuals were forced to exist in properties with no hot water, electricity or proper washing facilities.

Those who refused had their children taken into care.

Throughout the 20th century huts to house travellers were built in at least 10 different locations across Scotland.

These included the Bridge of Don barracks in Aberdeen, Red Rocks in Inverness-shire and Muir of Ord on the edge of the Black Isle.

These sites were basic by design with minimum living facilities and were closely supervised by the authorities.

On the Muir of Ord site, the idea "was to train the tinker how to live in a house, instead of in sheds, old buses and under canvas which would give them a better chance in life".

In Perthshire alone, 35 traveller families were housed in substandard huts, many unaware that they were part of a racial experiment.

Perthshire Council initially bought a former WWII prisoner of war hut to be used as housing for four gypsy families.

In a letter from 1945 concerning the creation of the property, the council ignored bylaws for minimum standards of housing, instead applying regulations intended for tents, vans or sheds.

The huts were deliberately substandard to encourage travelling families to quickly move into mainstream accommodation and so be assimilated into Scottish society, reasoning no-one would put up with the property for more than three years.

However, this assimilation was difficult as many gypsies felt they couldn't practise their own culture living in a council estate isolated from their own community.

Those affected have repeatedly asked the Scottish Government for an apology, but without success.

Most of these sites closed in the 1980s but one in Pitlochry remained in use only a decade ago.

The Bobbin Mill huts were partitioned with asbestos-coated wood into four sections for different families to occupy.

Each hut consisted of one bedroom and a toilet and cold water sink. It had no electricity and accommodated up to 10 family members.

Yet according to resident Alexander Johnstone, who lived there from the 1960s, the poor conditions were despite the fact there was ready access to utilities. "Even though there was a gas tank nearby and a house over the back that had electricity only about 30 metres away, they wouldn't install it for some reason.

"I never saw a council person the whole time I was there, and if anything was broken we just had to fix it ourselves."

The building was condemned as unfit for human habitation in 1962 yet the council continued to place families there throughout the decade.

Many former residents believe that their recurring health problems today stem from the asbestos dust and freezing conditions of their childhood home.

Roseanna McPhee recalls a locum doctor who had previously worked in South Africa making a house call.

She said: "He compared the huts to Soweto. If you didn't just get on with living in the bad conditions and thole it, the children would be taken into care."

Even if the families did suffer in silence, their children were still at risk of being removed.

Jessie McPhee's family were also occupants, but she and her twin brother Robert were taken into care in 1956 at birth as the local council decided there was not enough room to accommodate any more children in the family of 12.

She believes her parents simply accepted the authorities' decision out of fear that all of their children would be taken away from them.

Jessie returned to the family home to start primary school, but Robert was placed in a boarding school because of his behaviour. He kept running away from the home because of the treatment he received there, coming from a minority group. She is convinced Robert, who died 20 years ago, never recovered from the double rejection.

She said: "He felt he had been rejected twice, by my parents when he was taken into the children's home and then by the boarding school. He was an alcoholic who drank himself to death because he couldn't accept what had happened to him."

The experiment in assimilation failed as the children were mercilessly bullied at the local primary and secondary school and then became stigmatised because of their sub-human housing, which affected their chances of forming relationships outside those in the same situation.

Roseanna explains: "You couldn't assimilate. If you went out with someone from the wider community and they found out you were from the hut, you never saw them again.

"People could accept you were a traveller or a gypsy but they couldn't accept that you were living in these appalling conditions they couldn't understand that you didn't want to be there they didn't understand that you were put there."

When asked about the Tinker Experiment, the Scottish Government acknowledged the treatment the travellers had received and the impact it had on them, but again stopped short of an apology.

READ MORE:It needs guts to take the road less travelled. And for Gypsies, that means protecting their children from the outside world. But at what cost?

A spokesperson told The Herald on Sunday: The lives of many gypsy travellers have been blighted by the historical housing polices of councils and charities. We absolutely recognise the devastating impact which these polices had on families, many of whom are still suffering the consequences.

A joint Scottish Government and Cosla 3 million action plan to tackle the discrimination and challenges faced by the gypsy/traveller community was published in October.

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Scandal of The Tinker Experiment: demands for apology over Scotland's treatment of gypsy travellers - HeraldScotland

A year of more Netflix progress – The Irish Catholic

As I write this review every year the more recent programmes tend to have unfair advantage.

And so The Crown (Netflix) gets first mention this year. I reviewed two particularly good episodes from Season 3 (November) in a recent column the ones that focused on the Aberfan disaster and Sr Alice, Prince Philips mother and later a nun. Faith themes were picked up again in Episode 7, Moondust which explored Philips religious life in more detail, and tied his faith development into his obsession with the 1969 moon landings.

His private audience with his moon walking heroes (different planets, almost literally!) contrasted with his heartfelt opening of heart and mind with a group of troubled clergymen in a retreat house he supported. Rarely has religion been treated so seriously and maturely in a TV drama.

Another drama that featured religion quite regularly was The Kids Are Alright (RT 2) where an adult narrator recalled events from his past, growing up in a Catholic family in the US in the 1970s. I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it funny and touching. It helped that it didnt have a laugh track, and that all the characters were so believable, if exaggerated. Was it looking back fondly or was it more jaundiced?

Of all the regular programmes Leap of Faith (RT Radio 1) with Michael Comyn continues to maintain a high standard

There were plenty of jibes at the Church and some predictable Catholic stereotypes, but perhaps of the type that comes from people who are sticking to the faith despite the flaws of the flock.

Also making an impression on the drama front, last January, was a new BBC production of Les Misrables where religion was also treated positively and themes of justice, forgiveness and redemption were prominent, though there was some brief but unnecessary adult content.

Dark Money impressed in July a story about the abuse of a child actor in Hollywood and the destructive consequences for the child and his family.

Also in January RTs War of Independence drama Resistance was better than I expected, despite some lazy stereotyping of nuns.

A new series of Derry Girls (Channel 4) started in March, and while it was undeniably funny, it was marred by gratuitous foul language and over-the-top irreverence. One scene became iconic where the priest on a cross-community youth retreat tried to get the youngsters to outline what Catholics and Protestants had in common, but all they could come up with were differences.

Good Omens (Amazon Prime Video) was a curious adaptation of a book by Terry Pratchet and Neil Gaiman, with uneasily comical struggles between the forces of good and evil, with humanity seen as caught in the middle. It was intriguing though it could have been more religiously literate.

RT featured several worthwhile documentaries during the year. In January the one-off documentary Pope Francis in Ireland Behind the Scenes was a useful recap on the previous summers papal visit.

In March Guns and Rosaries was an excellent documentary about Fr Patrick Peyton, the Irish Rosary Priest who enlisted the help of various Hollywood celebrities different times!

Divorcing God, in June, was comedian Oliver Callans look at the Church in Ireland, interesting, not hostile, but could have been more unpredictable and incisive.

In Father Delaney: Silent Witness (RT 1, November), Joe Duffy presented a fascinating documentary about the cine films of Irish life taken by Fr Jack Delaney, from the 1930s on. Even better, shown in early November, was his film Children of the Troubles, a sad and moving programme about the children killed during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

BBC had its share of fine documentaries in March BBC2 Northern Ireland had a very impressive series Oilithreacht, about young people taking on the Lough Derg pilgrimage their faith and enthusiasm was inspiring.

In April, Pilgrimage: Road to Rome (BBC2) had various celebrities walking to Rome and reflecting on their faith or lack of it. Though irritating at times there were inspiring moments and a moving meeting with Pope Francis at the end.

Fern Brittons Holy Land Journey followed a similar path and gave insights into modern Jerusalem.

Our Dementia Choir, with actress Vicky McClure was an emotional exploration of the power of music.

In September, Inside the Vatican on BBC2 was an impressive, very human and insightful look behind the scenes of day to day life in the Vatican, including Pope Francis visit to Ireland.

Eugenics: Sciences Greatest Scandal (BBC4) was one of Octobers scariest programmes, tracing the history of eugenics and showing how the arrogant underlying attitudes are still very much alive today.

January saw the introduction of liberal abortion legislation into Ireland. The programmes that covered it then and still have largely failed to ask any hard questions of those who promote this unjust and cruel practice.

Pro-life voices are sidelined as pro-choicers continue to get a free pass with easy interviews and if they are pushed by interviewers its usually politicians being pressed on why they arent introducing more liberal laws.

By May we were hearing about the abortion of a baby that did not have a fatal abnormality on Today With Sen ORourke (RT Radio 1). The media outrage ranged from muted to non-existent.

In July, Panorama (BBC1 did a special on the abortion controversy in the US and by usual standards it was reasonably balanced, though generally on BBC I find interviewers favouring the pro-choice side. No mainstream debate I heard during the UK General Election challenged the parties on their abortion policies which were very extreme in some cases.

In August, a new Frontline documentary The Abortion Divide on PBS America was reasonably fair, food for thought for the viewer without strong opinions either way.

The excesses of political correctness became more pervasive during the year, though Prime Time (RT) did have a reasonably balanced programme on transgenderism in January, while Newsnight (BBC) had a robust item in November that asked some hard questions about the issue and highlighted those who de-transition.

Of all the regular programmes Leap of Faith (RT Radio 1) with Michael Comyn continues to maintain a high standard, a programme that promotes reflective discussions and builds bridges in a world becoming more polarised and fractious. I particularly remember a programme last January that highlighted the widespread persecution of Christians around the world, and also flagged to persecution of Muslims in China, nearly a year before this became hot news after a Panorama (BBC) documentary in November.

In February, Comyn featured a reflective discussion on the difficult issue of clerical child abuse, there was an interesting special for St Patricks Day and a considered coverage of the massacre of Christians in Sri Lanka in April. More recently I enjoyed his interview with religious affairs journalists Anne Thompson and Ins San Martn.

Life and Soul (RT1 and Radio 1 Extra), launched in July, was an excellent, though occasional, addition to RTs Sunday morning line up. It replaces Sunday Service though, Id prefer if it was in addition. That being said it is imaginative and innovative, with a mixture of personal stories of faith, prayers and some fine contemporary Christian music.

Songs of Praise (BBC) continued its long run and among the episodes I liked were specials on St Valentines Day, St Marys University in Twickenham and Lourdes. Sunday Sequence (BBC Radio Ulster) continued to be one the best religious programmes on radio, with unique insights into the religious life of Northern Ireland and beyond, with frequent contributions from Irish Catholic Managing Editor Michael Kelly.

He was particularly insightful discussing the canonisation of John Henry Newman in October. The Big Questions and Sunday Morning Live (both BBC1) alternated, maintaining high standards on Sunday mornings, with quite a diverse range of opinions.

After initially being doubtful, the regular slot where a comedian and one other reviewed the religious stories of the week grew on me and now Ill miss it for the winter season.

EWTN News Nightly continued to make a valuable contribution in getting a Catholic perspective on news from around the world and provided a useful balance to the secular media.

In general the EWTN channel is a valuable resource for following papal visits, most recently the trip to Thailand and Japan.

And so, happy new year to all media folks I hope you will resist the temptation to polarise and offend but that you will provide us with imaginative programmes that will entertain, challenge, inspire and unite.

Related

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A year of more Netflix progress - The Irish Catholic

Eugenics Is Influencing Dating Apps and Other Forms of Tech – Wear Your Voice

Guest Writer x Dec 10, 2019

CW/TW: this article contains mentions of anti-Black racism, anti-Semitism, ableism, forced sterilization, and chattel slavery.

By Vanessa Taylor

With apps like Tinder and Bumble, dating has taken on a new appearance. We like to think that were in total control of our intimate lives, making our own decisions when it comes to swiping left or right, but thats not the case. A recent 60 Minute story followed a Harvard scientist named George Church working on a dating app that matches people by DNA to eliminate all genetic diseases. Its both cisheternormative and pro-natalist. The story not only illuminates how future plans for dating apps are flirting with eugenics but the role of tech in legitimizing terrible sciences.

Although the word eugenics is never explicitly used by 60 Minutes, its legacy is clear within Churchs work. If youre unfamiliar, eugenics intends to improve the genetic quality of humans through selective breeding. That means not only looking to pair people who have desirable traits, but also getting rid of the undesirables, like by force sterilizing poor people, disabled people, and people of color.

According to 60 Minutes, Churchs dating app intends to screen out matches that would result in a child with an inherited disease. Church told interviewer Scott Pelley that, You wouldnt find out who youre not compatible with. Youll just find out who you are compatible with.

While the plan to combine eugenics with dating apps may surprise some, Churchs own quote shows why it shouldnt. The algorithms behind many popular dating apps are digital matchmakers filtering who you see. In 2016, Buzzfeed reporter Katie Notopoulos found that the dating app CoffeeMeetsBagel would only show users potential partners of the same race, even if users said they had no preference. Then, a 2018 study by Cornell researchers found further racial discrimination on the 25 highest-grossing dating apps in the US.

The idea that dating apps opened a new door to eugenics is not really shocking, Jevan Hutson, a researcher at the University of Washington and lead author on the Cornell study, told Wear Your Voice. At the higher level, the intimate realm is inextricably tied to relationships of power, and has historically been a crucial locus for the production of social hierarchy and state control.

Examples of this can be found within Harvards own history. Author Adam Cohen described Harvard as more central to American eugenics than any other university. In August 1912, Harvards president emeritus Charles William Eliot talked about the grave danger of immigration and the threat of mixing racial groups. Each nation should keep its stock pure, Eliot said. There should be no blending of races.

Anxieties around racial mixing were captured in miscegenation laws that banned Black peopleand sometimes other people of colorfrom marrying or having sex with white people. Teen Vogue reported that the laws started in the late 1600s and in slave-holding colonies like Maryland directly addressed white women, who forgetful of their free condition and to the disgrace of our Nation do intermarry with Negro slaves.

Dating apps are in the business of facilitating individual preferences [along the lines of race, disability, and more] regardless of the individual or structural outcome, Hutson said. However, to describe this lack of concern as a phenomenon limited to dating apps would be inaccurate because the problem spans across tech as an industry.

While touting tech advancements as being explicitly based in eugenics or scientific racism may be out of fashion, that doesnt mean its not happening. For example, Hutson pointed out the surge of physiognomic AI, where artificial intelligence makes inferences or predictions about a persons internal state or character on the basis of their external characteristic. Take Faception which offers facial personality analytics. As I wrote before, Faception claims that its technology is objective because of machine learning, but all mentions of mental illness correlate with categories of criminal offense, or undesirable behavior, such as white-collar offenders, terrorists, and pedophiles.

Phrenologyan offshoot of physiognomyis packed into tech despite it providing the scientific justification for many prejudices. For example, U.S. physician James W. Redfields 1852 Comparative Physiognomy featured gems like of Negroes to Elephants, of Jews to goats, and more. And again, as I wrote previously, is it than any coincidence that Google Images once classified Black people as gorillas?

Although 60 Minutes reported that Church is dyslexic with attention deficit and narcolepsy, this doesnt mean he cant participate in eugenics. Church says he works with an ethicist but that alone doesnt mean much. Ethics by itself isnt a neutral field, either, and if Western history has marked eugenics as a benefit to society, then why wouldnt some ethicists, too?

Both science and tech have adopted the idea that neither needs to consider the broad human implications of a project and if the after-shocks are unpleasant, it isnt their responsibility. This cavalier attitude is not only seen with the development of facial recognition and other surveillance technologies but with big tech companies like Amazon who provide the technological backbone for ICE. The reality is, science and tech are not exceptional, and not everything that you can imagine needs to exist.

Vanessa Taylor is a writer based out of Philadelphia, although the Midwest will always be home. She has work in outlets such as Teen Vogue, Racked, and Catapult. Her work focuses on Black Muslim womanhood and the taboo. You can follow her across social media at @bacontribe.

Every single dollar matters to usespecially now when media is under constant threat. Your support is essential and your generosity is why Wear Your Voice keeps going! You are a part of the resistance that is neededuplifting Black and brown feminists through your pledges is the direct community support that allows us to make more space for marginalized voices. For as little as $1 every month you can be a part of this journey with us. This platform is our way of making necessary and positive change, and together we can keep growing.

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Eugenics Is Influencing Dating Apps and Other Forms of Tech - Wear Your Voice

CVTC eugenics victims: ‘I always wanted children and never could have them’ – Lynchburg News and Advance

Over the years, The News & Advance has told the stories of those who were involuntarily sterilized at what now is known as the Central Virginia Training Center.

At least 3,800 sterilization procedures were done as part of the now-discredited eugenics movement at the training center. About 8,000 Virginians were sterilized statewide.

Here are some of their stories:

Janet Ingram remembered the day in 1965 she was taken to what now is the Central Virginia Training Center.

She was 16 years old, living in a Nelson County foster home with a woman who made her care for babies assigned to the home by the welfare system.

The social worker came and got us and took us to the training school, and told Janet she and other girls were going to get a physical examination.

They said, get in bed, and we did, Janet told The News & Advance in 2014.

Then the nurse came back, and she had a needle. She gave us a shot, and we went to sleep.

And then my stomach was hurting. I looked down there, and it was stitches in it.

The nurse came in and said, Why are you crying?

I said, Ive got stitches in my stomach.

She said, Oh, youve just been sterilized. You didnt want a baby, because they are nasty.

I told her, I would love to have a kid, I like kids.

I thought about how it would look just like me, Janet remembered.

Janet befriended a nurse at the training center and eventually went to live at her familys farm in Campbell County where, at 19, she took on a nanny-type role with the nurses 5-year-old daughter, Hope Wright, andended up caring for the sisters.

Neither Sadie nor Janet went beyond the 6th grade in a Nelson County elementary school.

Sadie was sterilized in 1960 and Janet five years later. Their mother, two sisters and an aunt all were sterilized at the Madison Heights facility.

The reason court documents list for Janet and Sadies sterilization is cultural familial mental retardation.

Lewis Reynolds began having seizures at 3, after an older cousin hit him in the head with a rock during play.

He was admitted to the institution at age 12 and sterilized on Jan. 30, 1942 at age 13. The doctor wrote the procedure will take a big burden off him in the future.

Sometimes I cry when I see a lady pregnant or something like that. I always wanted children and never could have them, he told The News & Advance in 2012. Sometimes I get off by myself and cry.

Reynolds joined the Marines, serving in Korea and Vietnam. He became a licensed electrician later in life. He was married twice.

During his time in Korea, Reynolds received a dear-John letter from his first wife. One reason she gave for leaving was his inability to have a family.

Later, he married Deloris Layne of Lynchburg. He said he suggested they adopt children, but she refused. She said, If I cant have my own, Im not going to have somebody elses children and be responsible for them, he said.

Deloris Reynolds died in 2007, after they had been married 47 years.

Still, Reynolds wished he could have been a father.

Sarah Pack Wiley understood little of what the operation meant, but she remembers one part.

They gave me ether, she told The News & Advance in 2012. Wileys discharge documents from the training school confirm a sterilization procedure in 1959 when she was 24 years old.

Wiley, Shirley and their older brother, Marvin, were taken from their parents in Patrick County and admitted to the training school in March 1948, according to documents she has kept.

Wiley was diagnosed as having a moderate mental deficiency upon admission to the institution at age 11.

Training-school officials sent Wiley to work in peoples homes, doing housekeeping or babysitting. In many cases, the homes were owned by the institutions staff members.

She was discharged from the training school in 1976.

At age 51, she met and married James Wiley, who cooked chili at the Texas Inn. Their marriage lasted until his death 11 years later.

One of the medical documents confirms SarahWiley underwent the sterilization procedure in 1959. It reads MEDICAL EVENTS IN THE INSTITUTION: In 1948 she had acute tonsillitis, in 1949 pharyngitis, 1959 sterilization, and in 1974 arrhythmia.

Sidener is the special publications editor for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5539.

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CVTC eugenics victims: 'I always wanted children and never could have them' - Lynchburg News and Advance

What to Read During the Holiday Break – Georgia Tech News Center

Campus and Community

ByVictor Rogers | December 9, 2019 Atlanta, GA

Click image to enlarge

Book jackets of What to Read recommendations.

The guests are gone, the dishes have been cleared, and you have some quiet time to yourself. So, wheres a good book when you need one?

We asked several avid readers for recommendations. The books range from a story of the reflections and adventures of a failed novelist to a how-to on bullet journaling.

By Andrew Sean Greer, Little, Brown and Company (2017)

This national bestseller and winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction is the story of Arthur Less, a failed novelist about to turn 50, who responds to an ex-lover's wedding invitation by embarking on a trip around the world for a series of literary events. Regrets and reminiscences of past loves are interspersed with new adventures both endearingly awkward and deeply graceful. This was the perfect novel to read in my 49th summer. I recommend it for anyone who has ever been in love, or who wonders what a year of saying yes could be.

Marlee Givens, librarian for Modern Languages and Psychology

By Charles King, Doubleday Publishers (2019)

An inspiring group biography told within the context of the social, cultural, and political events of the 20th century. Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, Zora Neale Hurston, and Ruth Benedict developed revolutionary methods and theories that challenged eugenics, the prevailing scientific theory at that time. The scientific community considered them a group of misfits but later they were recognized as the founders of cultural anthropology. Their courageous explorations of disparate cultures debunked absolutist ideas that there is a superior people. Interwoven in the chronicle of their professional lives, the author also shares personal tales of romance, friendships, and rivalries within the group of anthropologists.

Cathy Carpenter, head of Campus Engagement and Scholarly Outreach, Georgia Tech Library

By Bill Courtney, Weinstein Books (2014)

The author is the high school football coach featured in the Oscar-winning documentary Undefeated as well as Esquire magazines 2012 Coach of the Year. Bill Courtney coached the downtrodden Manassas High School football team in North Memphis to success after everyone else had given up on them. Not only were his coaching skills imperative to the teams success, but they also made a deep impact on the individual lives of his players, including overcoming drug addiction, earning college acceptances at places such as West Point, and lifting up their communities. His core values of service, civility, leadership, character, commitment, and forgiveness are an example for all of us.

Jamison Keller, Assistant Dean of Students and director of Fraternity and Sorority Life

Engineering and Chemistry Librarian Isabel Altamirano recommended two books:

By Ryder Carroll, Fourth Estate Publishers (2018)

I was looking for a new method to keep track of my work and personal activities and decided to do it by the 21st-century learning method, YouTube. I found videos on bullet journaling, but they were too complicated too many decorations and drawings.

Then I found the original source. Carroll's book shows that you just need a blank journal, a writing instrument, and a ruler.

His method involves yearly, monthly, and daily planning with simple setups for repetitive tasks (like exercising or eating fruit), and a reflection section. By keeping up with the index, you can plan and execute different activities with just one journal.

By Eric M. Scott and David R. Modler, North Light Books (2012)

Start 2020 by doing creative work that does not require extensive training. This paperback book shows how to be artistic with collage, simple stencils, watercolors, and markers.

Each activity has a writing prompt, recommended page layouts, and step-by-step instruction on how to achieve a cohesive look. And you don't need to start on New Years Day; the work can happen at any time.

Its also perfect to have this book on hand if the electricity goes out during an ice storm. If children complain that theyre bored you can entertain them with the techniques found in this book.

Some of these books are available by searching the Librarys online catalog. Visit library.gatech.edu. You can also search other libraries, using Techs interlibrary loan system. Visit library.gatech.edu/borrow-other-libraries. Or visit your local book store.

Happy reading!

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What to Read During the Holiday Break - Georgia Tech News Center

An Oregon Couple Can Get Their Kids Back From Foster Care. But Many Disabled Parents Don’t Get That Chance. – Rewire.News

Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced an agreement with the state of Oregon to develop a system to ensure the states child welfare agency does not discriminate against parents with disabilities, a move that could benefit one in ten parents in the United States.

The agreement stems from a case involving Amy Fabbrini and Eric Ziegler. Fabbrini and Ziegler endured a five-yearbattle with the state of Oregon to regain custody of their two sons, who were both taken into foster care after their respective births following concern that Fabbrini and Ziegler would be unable to care for them.

No abuse was alleged against Fabbrini and Ziegler, who say their below-average scores on state-sanctioned IQ tests are why Oregon held the children in foster care until their court-ordered releases in late 2017 and early 2018.

Fabbrini and Zieglers case is not unique. At least 40 percent to 80 percent of parents in the United States with intellectual disabilities will lose custody of their children, according to a 2012 report from the National Council on Disability, on which I was the primary author.

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This discrimination is not only harmful to familiesit is also unlawful. Indeed, both Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibit child welfare agencies and courts from discriminating against disabled parents.

These federal laws also require child welfare agencies and courts to provide reasonable modifications in policies, programs, and procedures to ensure disabled parents are offered an equal opportunity. For example, Deaf parents must be provided sign language interpreters, and parents with intellectual disabilities should receive individualized services based on the familys needs.

Yet, nearly 50 years since the Rehabilitation Act was passed and 30 years since the ADA became law, discrimination continues to persist. As a result, families are being torn apart.

Such discrimination is a long-standing issue in U.S. history, rooted in eugenics practices like intelligence tests and other standards that, historically, have resulted in children being removed from families and forced sterilization of those withor those perceived to havedisabilities.

Roughly two-thirds of state child welfare laws still allow for a parents disability to be considered for the purposes of terminating parental rights, according to the National Council on Disability. Tellingly, researchers from the University of Minnesota found that nationally, 19 percent of children in foster care had been removed from their homes at least in part because they had a disabled parent. That same study found parents with disabilities had 22 percent higher odds of having their parental rights terminated, compared to other parents. And, a recent study found that parents with psychiatric disabilities were eight times more likely than other parents to have involvement with the child welfare system.

The belief that disabled people are unfit parents dates back to the eugenics movement in the early 20th century, when people with disabilities and others who were deemed unfit to procreate were forcibly sterilized. This barbaric treatment even gained the blessing of the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1927 Buck v. Bell case, which held it was constitutional to sterilize people with disabilities forcibly. This alarming decision led to more than 30 states enacting laws that permitted involuntary sterilization, and an estimated 70,000 Americans, many of whom had disabilities, sterilized against their wishes.

But studies do not indicate that parents with disabilities are more likely than nondisabled parents to abuse or neglect their children. In fact, research has consistently found that most disabled parents and their families fare quite well when provided the chance. Studies have shown that a lower IQ has nothing to do with ones fitness as a parent. IQ scores themselves are rooted in flawed methodology and have been used to justify racist and eugenics practices. Further, some scholars contend that there are ways in which children actually benefit from having a disabled parent, such as exhibiting increased empathy.

Thus, the overrepresentation of parents with disabilities within the child welfare system is most often based on prejudice rather than actual harm. But the federal government largely has been silent about the rights of parents with disabilities, which makes OCRs recent action notableand long overdue.

As a result of the new agreement, the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) must now review ten other cases concerning parents with disabilities to discern if each were handled properly. In the voluntary resolution agreement, the state agency promises to make decisions about removing children from their parents based on actual risks that pertain to the individual parent and not on mere speculation, generalizations, or stereotypes about individuals with disabilities. In other words, the state should only remove children if there is actual abuse or neglect, and not simply because their parent is disabled.

Such reasoning led to the removal of Fabbrini and Zieglers first-born son, Christopher, in September 2013. Within days of bringing him home from the hospital, Fabbrinis family contacted DHS, expressing concerns that the couples intellectual disabilities made them unable to care for their infant. DHS agreed and placed Christopher in foster care.

In order to regain custody, DHS required the couple to complete parenting and nutrition classes, and learn CPR and first aid, and they did. They also underwent psychological evaluations and participated in supervised visitation with Christopher.

Despite the parents resolve, the then-1-year-old remained in foster care. In 2015, the couples lawyer filed a motion to return him to his parents, arguing there was no current threat of serious loss or injury to the child. It was denied.

Four years later, in February 2017, the couple gave birth to their second child, Hunter. This time, DHS immediately put him in foster care while Fabbrini was still in the hospital. Meanwhile, the parents battle for custody of their children persisted.

In court, the states arguments centered on the parents cognitive and executive functioning skills. The average IQ scoreis between 90 and 110; Zieglers IQ tested at 66, Fabbrinis at 72.DHS focused in court proceedings on the parents cognitive skills and executive functioning, citing, among other things, the parents failure to read to their sons or use sunscreen on the boys, and feeding them chicken nuggets as a snack. The state also accused the parents of asking both too many and too few questions about parenting matters.

In the agreement, OCR says it found systemic deficiencies related to how DHS works with parents with disabilities, emphasizing that removing children from parents with disabilities based on IQ scores, and similar arbitrary measures, is not acceptable.

According to the settlement, DHS promises to give parents with disabilities the same opportunities to reunify their families as nondisabled parents, such as ensuring they have access to family supports. DHS will also update its nondiscrimination policy, designate an employee to oversee compliance with the ADA, provide training about working with disabled parents to all staff, establish a grievance procedure for complaints alleging disability discrimination, and provide regular progress reports on its efforts to OCR.

While this is not the first time the federal government has investigated a case involving discrimination by the child welfare system against parents with disabilities, it is the first time they have done so in three years.

In November 2012, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) placed a newborn baby in foster care after Sara Gordon, a mother with an intellectual disability, experienced trouble with feeding and diapering. While many new parents have similar challenges, state officials determined that Gordon was not able to comprehend how to handle or care for the child due to the mothers mental retardation.

Such actions were discriminatory and unlawful, according to a January 2015 joint letter of findings issued by the OCR and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Specifically, the departments investigated Gordons case and found DCF violated both the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA by discriminating against Gordon based on her disability and denying her support and services to assist her in caring for her daughter.

Two months later, Gordon and her daughter were reunited.

In August 2015, DOJ and OCR issued technical assistance to child welfare agencies and courts detailing the legal obligations of the child welfare system when working with disabled parents and their families. According to the guidance, both federal agencies had received several complaints of discrimination by the child welfare system, and that the frequency of such complaints was rising. Further, the guidance noted that child welfare agencies and courts greatly varied in how they support disabled parents and their families.

By the end of the year, OCR entered into a voluntary agreement with the Georgia Department of Human Services related to foster parents with disabilities.

Groups such as the Arc and the National Council on Disability have praised OCR for its recent agreement with Oregon. We are glad to see federal regulators reject stereotypical and discriminatory beliefs about the abilities of parents with [intellectual and developmental disabilites] to care for their children, particularly when considering the history of discrimination, including involuntary sterilization, said Peter Berns, CEO of the Arc.

While efforts like the agreement are important, however, questions remain about how much change it can really effectuate.

Attention to the rights of parents with disabilities is, of course, significant. And involvement by the federal government should hold some weight. Nonetheless, the Oregon agreement is voluntary and does not establish any sort of legal precedent. So far, its unclear if there are penalties if Oregon were to fail to adhere.

Further, unlike the letter of findings issued in the Gordon case, this agreement explicitly states it should not be construed as an admission that the state violated federal disability rights laws.

What happened to Fabbrini and Ziegler, as well as Gordon and countless other couples, must end. Families shouldnt be torn apart because of antiquated beliefs about the fitness of disabled people to raise children. Further, states must be held accountable when they break federal law.

But under the Trump administration, disability rights have been under constant siege. And, by not explicitly stating that Oregon violated both the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA, the federal governments silence in this case may be just another example of the administration not doing enough.

Originally posted here:

An Oregon Couple Can Get Their Kids Back From Foster Care. But Many Disabled Parents Don't Get That Chance. - Rewire.News

Even Taylor Swift Can’t Escape ‘When Will You Have Kids?’ – The Daily Beast

I am 24, which is roughly 12 in New York years. No one expects me to have a kid or own a home. The same cannot be said for the small town I grew up in. There, Times up! is less of a #MeToo rallying cry and more of something a friends father tells his oldest daughter upon learning shes still single.

There comes a time in young womanhood where people who once really didnt want you to get pregnant suddenly start to care a lot about the babies you must have, right now. I cannot fathom why anyone at my familys Christmas dinner table would want to talk about freezing my eggs in between bites of mashed potatoes. And yet.

Despite what her poreless skin and dumb lyrics like spelling is fun might make you believe, Taylor Swift will turn 30 this week. The milestone means next to nothing, except that I hope she has a very nice birthday party. But of course, that means peoplenamely, menare falling over themselves to remind her she should spawn at once, or else shell almost certainly die alone and unloved.

One of those men happens to be Stefan Molyneux, an alt-right personality who boasts over 900,000 YouTube subscribers. He regularly spouts social Darwinist bullshit to his followers, and the Southern Poverty Law Center added him to its Extremist Files. Leave it to this guy to have thoughts on Taylor Swifts uterus.

I cant believe Taylor Swift is about to turn 30 - she looks so young! Molyneux began. Its strange to think that 90% of her eggs are already gone - 97% by the time she turns 40 - so I hope she thinks about having kids before its too late! Shed be a fun mom. 🙂

Yes, Stefan, it is strange, for you or anyone who is not Taylor Swift to spend even a moment thinking about her reproductive system. Please log off and factory reset your invasive man mind.

Swift has not responded to Molyneuxs tweet, and representatives for parties did not respond to my request for comment. But the singer addressed a similar topic last week.

In what she surely hoped would be a nice sound bite for an interview with People magazine, Swift said, The more women are able to voice their discomfort in social situations, the more it becomes the social norm that people who ask the questions at parties like When are you going to start a family to someone as soon as they turn 25 are a little bit rude.

Its good that were allowed to say, Hey, just so you know, were more than incubators. You dont have to ask that of someone just because theyre in their mid-20s and theyre a female, she added.

Molyneuxs trolling of Swift is less troubling than his enthusiastic promotion of scientific racism and eugenics. But its still concerning that many meneven otherwise lovely, well-intended menview a womans fertility as a point of friendly chatter.

Molyneux punctuated his tweet with a smile emoji, in what looks like an attempt at congeniality. Hes posed his unwarranted and unwanted message to Swift as a public service announcement, even beginning it with a complimentalbeit a seriously creepy one. (She looks so young! Seriously, my dude, close the tab on your computer thats just Google images of Taylor Swift and go take a walk.)

It brings me no joy to imagine Molyneux at his desk, stroking his chin, deep in thought imagining Taylor Swifts parenting abilities. Though, I guess it is probably one of his better thoughts, considering all the other abhorrent things hes said.

Still, when Youd be such a fun mom comes from the mouth not of a total stranger and internet conspiracy theorist, but a loved one, it seems innocuous, almost kind and caring.

But what if the man saying this is talking to one of the 6 million women in the United States struggling with infertility? They probably already know theyd be excellent mothers; after all, theyre trying. The women in my life who are struggling to get pregnant think about their situation nearly every day; why dont we give them some time off this holiday.

Maybe a woman just plain doesnt want to have a kid, now or ever. Thats her right, even as patriarchal laws attempting to control her sexual everything continue to arise.

So if you find yourself unable to control opening your mouth this holiday season to demand why a female family member is still childless, I beg you: find the nearest forkful of Christmas ham, and shove it there instead.

Originally posted here:

Even Taylor Swift Can't Escape 'When Will You Have Kids?' - The Daily Beast

‘Targeted for Abortion Simply Because They May Have Down Syndrome’: PA Gov. Blocks Anti-Eugenics Bill – CBN News

Pennsylvania's Democratic governor has vetoed a bill that was created to protect babies from abortion after they've been diagnosed in the womb with Down syndrome.

Gov. Tom Wolf had said he would reject the bill if it made it to his desk, and that's just what he did.

Pennsylvania state law allows for abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy for any reason, except in cases where it is used for gender selection. In other words, a mother can't abort her baby just because he's a boy when she really wanted a girl.

This new bill would have also prevented the eugenic targeting of a specific population of people, protecting individuals with Down syndrome from selective elimination. Republicans who control the state Senate said it would've protected a "vulnerable population whose lives are productive."

Supporters of the measure believe it's essential because other countries have expressly targeted people with Down syndrome for elimination. For example, in Iceland, nearly 100% of babies with the syndrome are aborted, and in Denmark, that figure stands at roughly 98%. In the US, an estimated 67% of children with the condition are aborted.

The Pennsylvania Family Council stated, "Children are being targeted for abortion simply because they may have Down syndrome. Medical professionals are pressuring women and families to have an abortion upon a diagnosis of Down syndrome. And tragically, the vast majority of babies that are diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted after the diagnosis. A diagnosis of Down syndrome should never be a reason to terminate a child. Down syndrome is a life worth living."

Earlier this year, President Trump summed up what's at stake in the battle to protect the lives of unborn children with this condition.

"Sadly, there remain too many people both in the United States and throughout the world that still see Down syndrome as an excuse to ignore or discard human life. This sentiment is and will always be tragically misguided," he wrote. "We must always be vigilant in defending and promoting the unique and special gifts of all citizens in need. We should not tolerate any discrimination against them, as all people have inherent dignity."

The Pennsylvania Family Council has created a powerful photo series that gives nearly 30 examples of Pennsylvania residents with Down syndrome who are enjoying life and contributing in many ways to our world. Click here to see their smiling faces.

Original post:

'Targeted for Abortion Simply Because They May Have Down Syndrome': PA Gov. Blocks Anti-Eugenics Bill - CBN News

Book review – "The Guarded Gate: Bigotry, Eugenics, and the Law that kept Two Generations of Jews, Italians, and Other European Immigrants out of…

The Guarded Gate: Bigotry, Eugenics, and the Law that kept Two Generations of Jews, Italians, and Other European Immigrants out of America by Daniel Okrent is this weeks book of the week.

It traces the impact of anti-immigration sentiment in late 19th and early 20th century America.

The book also discusses multiple changes that were attempted or made as a result of those sentiments: from pushing for literacy test and tax requirements for immigrants to the passage of the Johnson-Reed Act, a law that put random restrictions on how many people could be allowed into the United States from different countries.

If anyone would like to better understand the historical roots of how immigration and its regulation became such hot-button issues in America, The Guarded Gate is a good place to start.

This book is available at the Beckley branch.

Elizabeth Hoyle is a reference assistant at the Raleigh County Public Libraries.

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Book review - "The Guarded Gate: Bigotry, Eugenics, and the Law that kept Two Generations of Jews, Italians, and Other European Immigrants out of...

Does Your Dog Actually Love You? – The Cut

Photo: Westend61/Getty Images/Westend61

Some depressing new research suggests that your dog might not really be obsessed with you. Well, it might be, but not because of a special human-dog bond. It turns out that dogs love basically every species they come into contact with, be it a sheep, a duck, or a dolphin.

While I refuse to believe that the human-dog connection is anything less than sacred, a dogs ability to fall for basically every living thing is not necessarily a bad thing, says Clive Wynne, a dog behavior specialist who has been researching dog emotions for decades. He explained to the New York Times that dogs abnormal willingness to form strong emotional bonds with almost anything that crosses their path has helped them thrive relative to other members of the animal kingdom (they outnumber their canine cousins, meany wolves, 3,000 to 1.)

And while dogs may be better at following human directions than other animals, and are nicer to us too, this is mostly thanks to thousands of years of domestication, Wynne says. He even found genes in dogs that are associated with indiscriminate friendliness in humans, suggesting that humans have bred so many good dogs that the dog genome actually changed.

Outside of that light bit of eugenics, dogs will be mostly nice to anything humans just have a little bit of an evolutionary advantage. And while that may be the case, it doesnt make love from these very good boys any less real.

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Does Your Dog Actually Love You? - The Cut

Genetically Modified Babies Are Ethically OK – Reason

Outrage was the general researcher and media response to the Chinese bioengineer He Jiankui's announcement last November that he had used CRISPR gene-editing technology to modify the genomes of several human embryos with the goal of making them resistant to HIV infection. The result was the birth of twin girls; one with the genetic modification in all of her body's cells and another whose body is a mosaic of modified and unmodified cells. He did certainly cut both scientific and ethical corners in applying CRISPR technology to human embryos. Happily, a preliminary study in June that suggested the He's modifications might shorten the twins' lifespans appears to be wrong.

Setting aside He's moral shortcomings, is it ever ethical to use CRISPR and other gene-editing technologies to modify the genomes of human embryos? Yes, argues Abertay University bioethicist Kevin Smith in the journal Bioethics. Smith addresses the question using a rigorously applied utilitarian ethics approach. He details recent advances in CRISPR gene-editing safety and concludes that the benefits of preventing heritable diseases already outweigh the risks of using the technology.

In his article, Smith deals with "several wellrehearsed positions and arguments" against permitting parents to use CRISPR gene-editing to fix genetic flaws in their prospective offspring. These include "claims of unnaturalness, the alleged interests of embryos, questions of identity, fears of eugenics, and simply the 'yuck factor.'" Smith points out that critics once denounced in vitro fertilization (IVF) on the grounds of that it was "unnatural." Millions of parents have freely chosen unnatural IVF techniques to overcome their natural infertility. Some 8 million children have been born via assisted reproduction since the first IVF baby was born in 1979.

Some opponents argue using CRISPR would be unethical because embryos can't give their consent to being genetically modified. A requirement for prenatal consent is obvious ethical nonsense. No one has ever given their consent to be born much less to be born the specific complement of genes they bear. In addition, it's hard to imagine that a child will later feel morally aggrieved that his or her parents had prevented them from suffering a debilitating genetic disease. Providing parents with the ability to choose to prevent heritable disease and disability in their progeny using biotechnology is not to be equated with morally pernicious state-imposed eugenics. And lots of biomedical treatments and reproductive technologies have gone from yuck to yippeeas their significant benefits became evident. CRISPR gene-editing will do the same.

Smith persuasively argues that not only would the early application of the technology improve the welfare of prospective parents and their progeny now, it will usher in a human germline genetic modification (HGGM) revolution that will greatly benefit future generations. As Smith explains, "The longer we wait until commencing the HGGM revolution and moving towards a world of increased utility, the greater will be the quantity of suffering accrued meantime through genetically influenced disease."

When should CRISPR and even better gene-editing technologies be made available to parents seeking to prevent genetic diseases in their offspring? Given that some folks are still spooked by He's announcement last November, Smith prudentially suggests that "wekickstart the next biomedical revolution by proceeding not immediately but within around 12 years to intervene in the human germline."

The revolution, however, may start sooner than that. Russian researcher Denis Rebrikov says that he hopes to gain permission in the near future from the appropriate authorities to gene-edit embryos to repair a gene that causes congenital deafness.

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Genetically Modified Babies Are Ethically OK - Reason

Samanthas Journey Into the Alt-Right, and Back – The New Yorker

Since 2016,Andrew Marantzhas been reporting on how the extremist right has harnessed the Internet and social media to gain startling prominence in American politics. One day, he was contacted by a woman named Samantha, who was in a leadership position of the white-nationalist group Identity Evropa. (She asked to be identified only by her first name.) When I joined, I really thought that it was just going to be a pro-white community, where we could talk to each other about being who we are, and gain confidence, and build a community, Samantha told Marantz. I went in because I was insecure, and it made me feel good about myself. Samantha says she wasnt a racist, but soon after joining the group she found herself rubbing shoulders with the neo-Nazi organizer Richard Spencer, at a party that culminated in a furious chant of Sieg heil. Marantz and the New Yorker Radio Hour producerRhiannon Corbydove into Samanthas story to understand how and why a normal person abandoned her values, her friends, and her family for an ideology of racial segregation and eugenicsand then came out again. They found her to be a cautionary tale for a time when facts and truth are under daily attack. I thought I knew it all, she told them. I think its extremely nave and foolish to think that you are impervious to it. No one is impervious to this.

Samantha appears in Marantzs new book, Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation.

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Samanthas Journey Into the Alt-Right, and Back - The New Yorker

Reefer Madness And Seduction Of The Innocent Are Now The Anti-Vaping M.O. – Science 2.0

The 1950s were the first sign that with a booming economy, progressive busy-bodies were going to once again turn their sights on controlling behavior. Though Prohibition had ended the Puritan Piety attack on alcohol, and Hitler had put a halt to progressive dreams of eugenics, the war on inferiors continued by well-meaning elites unabated after the soldiers came home.

They just attacked on a new front. Comic books, for example, were ruining children, according to psychiatrist Fred Wertham, who wrote a book making his case called "Seduction of the Innocent." Though Captain America had punched Hitler in the face six months before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, now they were the enemy of decency. The Senate took up the case in 1954 but states were already reacting. Ohio Governor Frank Lausche was all for censorship, for example, and supported Akron in its efforts to ban them. Only Akron Councilman Howard Walker, a Ward 8 Republican and chairman of the public welfare and safety committee, resisted the call for bans. Who is qualified to say which books are good and which are bad?

Though conservatives get the bad press in corporate media, it's often social authoritarian progressives out to control behavior. You don't see writers at Reason arguing for censorship but plenty of California politicians want to ban Happy Meals and golf. It was Tipper Gore who declared war on music, supported by her husband Al. And it is Democrats who want vaping banned today. Credit: Pessimists Archive

Once comic books were censored, busybodies found that children still weren't docile automatons, any more than after their efforts to ban radios, books, and "idle minds" so they then turned on pinball machines, rock music, marijuana, TV, birth control, Dungeons & Dragons, rap music, video games, cell phones, and now ... vaping.

If you watch the array of anti-vaping ads appearing on televisions (what used to be corrupting children, according to busybodies) and the Internet (ditto), kids are throwing their video game(ditto) controllers through computers (ditto) because of that demon nicotine; a product that they can't legally buy but some greedy merchant on the internet is still selling so they shout it all needs to be banned.

It's Reefer Madness all over again, which took 60 years to undo. Yet now the same social authoritarian progressives(1) who got marijuana banned and comic books censored have adopted a similar mantra about vaping.

I am not pro-vaping, I don't smoke and never have, nor do I vape, we get no donations from any vaping or tobacco company or trade group, I am simply anti-smoking. It kills, but it is not the nicotine that is harmful, it is the smoke. Vaping needs to be an option for smokers because it simply works better than gums or patches or abstinence only posturing.

Just like Baby Boomers still read comic books in the 1950s - censorship crippled the industry, but it didn't eliminate kids reading comics - they need to realize that kids today are going to do something rebellious or even risky. Some will drink alcohol, some will race cars on streets, some will get addicted to caffeine. But we don't ban beer, automobiles, or Red Bull due to those things, we enforce laws that exist.

That should be the approach we take to vaping. The Trump administration is right to want second opinions instead of listening to what have become increasingly social authoritarian organizations like American Medical Association and American Academy of Pediatrics. They represent only a fraction of doctors and the people forcing through fundamentalist beliefs about nicotine are only a tiny fraction of the members in those organizations. More doctors don't stand up to hysteria because they don't want to look like they are for JUUL. Nor do I, I have blasted the company too many times to count. But just like I defend GMOs even though I didn't like Monsanto as a company, doctors should be going with the evidence and not engaging in culture wars rather than being too timid to stand up to the "cool kids" in their tribes.

FDA, EPA, etc. didn't issue a call to ban GMOs because NRDC, Greenpeace, et al. hate science, even though those groups have gotten plenty of fifth columnists placed inside those government agencies. Nor did academic biologists even though they are 94 percent on the left. Doctors should show as much backbone as scientists and tell government to enforce laws to keep kids from using products, not wrap themselves in the flag of Seduction Of The Internet rhetoric.

NOTE:

(1) Progressives were not alone in using government to force their social authoritarian agenda. Also in 1954, Senator Eugene McCarthy became convinced that the U.S. Army was "soft" on communists. Unlike comic books and other efforts by the left, McCarthy's effort ended in a spectacular failure. Then the left got their revenge on him in history. Though only 7 people in Hollywood were actually Blacklisted - and they were actually communists trying to overthrow the government - you can't find anyone old in that town today who doesn't attribute any career setbacks they may have had to being on the blacklist. It became a badge of honor.

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Reefer Madness And Seduction Of The Innocent Are Now The Anti-Vaping M.O. - Science 2.0

Renowned scientists address ethics, ‘twin scientific revolutions’ of AI and CRISPR – The Stanford Daily

President Marc Tessier-Lavigne introduced two women, each renowned in their respective fields, as scientific trailblazers to a packed CEMEX auditorium of 600 people on Monday. Jennifer Doudna, a biochemist who invented CRISPR, and Fei-Fei Li, who currently heads the Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI) endeavor, discussed the twin revolutions of CRISPR and artificial intelligence with moderator Russ Altman, a bioengineering professor.

But beyond just talking about those innovations, Tessier-Lavigne noted the significant urgency present to consider the broader societal impacts of their work: to notice both the promise and peril that accompany innovation.

Innovation alone isnt sufficient, Tessier-Lavigne said. Creating a disruption does not guarantee positive effects for our society or for individuals. Disrupting just for disruptions sake is no honorable activity. Remarkable opportunities for good can also be misused.

Doudna and Lis work has been influential within the fields of gene editing and artificial intelligence, respectively. Doudna and her team developed the technology known as CRISPR-Cas9, which allows for the editing of DNA and genomes as well as for a myriad of control applications within the body and potential development of biotechnology products.

Li was the leading scientist of ImageNet, a database used in visual object recognition software that enables computers to recognize a wide variety of human, everyday objects through machine learning.

Both speakers acknowledged the ethical concerns looming over these innovations. This beginning of a revolution in deep learning is accompanied by the threat of ethical complications such as eugenics, patentability and heritable genome editing.

The recognition ability [of ImageNet] is in the background of Google searches when you use Facebook or when you communicate with your phone; its always present, Altman said, adding that recent developments in AI have caused the field to become a breeding ground of questions surrounding ethics.

When asked if it was obvious that the results were going to lead to such an explosive reaction both inside and out of the scientific community, Li said that she knew they were approaching a holy grail question.

We were granting the computers an ability that took humans 540 million years of evolution to achieve, she said. I would be lying, however, if I said I recognized the societal implications of the work at the time.

Doudna replied similarly, saying that for those of us working in the world of CRISPR, it was a very esoteric area of biology back then. It was surprising to see that our very esoteric area was merging with a very important part of biotechnology.

Could I have predicted the advancements, CRISPR babies? she asked, referring to former Stanford postdoctoral fellow He Jiankui who launched international controversy when he announced he created the worlds first gene-edited babies using CRISPR technology. Definitely not, but it was a very exciting progression.

A significant part of the discussion centered on ethics, with Altman asking the innovators about their engagement with ethics throughout their research. Doudna recalled 2012 as the year that a moral obligation really arose in her life. After reading a published article of CRISPR being applied to human primates, she recalled realizing the potential for genome editing in humans.

I was quite reluctant, but I did feel a real responsibility to engage in the discussion at that point, Dounda said.

Li also described her surprise when her own career in AI came under public scrutiny, with some critics calling genome editing a field summoning a demon.

While major parts of their professional journeys align, their paths diverge in terms of confronting the ethical problems of their work. To combat the potential misuses of CRISPR, Doudna felt like the scientific community really needed to [be] engaged as a whole. She convened meetings to broach the subject of the morality behind CRISPR applications and recalls thinking that that was the beginning of my education in ethics I felt like a student learning how to think about this and how to approach it.

Lis approach was different because CS was a much younger discipline, without an ethics sub-area, and I didnt know who to talk to. She decided to turn her focus to the drivers of AI, the human representation in the field, especially to diversify the field and open it up to more women and minorities.

Li went on to start the program AI4ALL, which began at Stanford and then grew to become nationally recognized 500 alumni of the program and 11 college campuses that host the students, all with the mission of engaging underrepresented students in underserved communities.

The academic pioneers were then asked about the exposure of young scientists to ethical information, with both agreeing that there needed to be more educating done in their fields.

Its a cultural thing in our field, Doudna said. We are in the vein of creating scholars in our specific subject rather than creating a group of holistically knowledgeable people.

Li added that students of mine dont even have the language to talk about these issues.

Altman went on to note that these are unlikely to be the last scientific revolutions. He wondered what advice the two women had for handling these explosive introductions of research.

We definitely havent seen the end of the AI story its just the beginning, Li answered. We need to invest in people. Diversity and inclusion is a way to ensure that we maximize human representation during these times.

As for representation in policy, Doudna said she would like to see more scientists in Congress.

I was really struck when I met with Bill Foster and he pointed out that he was the only Ph.D. in congress, Doudna said. I think we need to see more representation.

As for their hopes for their work moving forward, their visions were the same: an international framework to cooperate and communicate. Li noted that there are issues of warfare, bioterrorism and a myriad of other potential dangers. She noted that every discovery has a dual potential, which is why we need laws, ethical principles, an international framework given how powerful these technologies are.

Contact Hannah Shelby at hshelby at stanford.edu.

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Renowned scientists address ethics, 'twin scientific revolutions' of AI and CRISPR - The Stanford Daily

Stephen Miller’s white supremacy is no surprise but it raises the stakes on impeachment and 2020 – Salon

Like the president he serves, White House senior adviser Stephen Miller is a white supremacist. Miller believes that white people should be the most powerful group in the United States and around the world. He has worked diligently and enthusiastically to advance that goal through public policy.

Miller is not a white nationalist. To use such language is to legitimate the ways white supremacists have tried since the 1970s to repackage themselves so as to appear more mainstream and reasonable in order to win over more white Americans.

As though more evidence is necessary after three years of Stephen Millers influence on Donald Trumps regime and its unrepentant and enthusiastic cruelty against nonwhites, 900 emails recently obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center offer further proof of Millers white supremacist ideology.

In his communications with a former editor of the right-wing website Breitbart, Miller then an aide to Sen. Jeff Sessions, who went on to become Trump's first attorney general advanced talking points from white supremacist websites that advocate eugenics against nonwhites and a general belief in the inferiority of black people and others.

Miller praised the notorious white supremacist novel The Camp of the Saints (also a favorite of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon) which depicts nonwhite immigrants and migrants in Europe as subhuman, murderous invaders.

In these emails Miller also channeled white supremacist talking points about nonwhite immigrants being invaders in white countries and the premise that white people are somehow being replaced.

Writing at the New York Times, Jamelle Bouie observesthat "there's no way to spin these emails into something innocuous":

The evidence is overwhelming: Miller was immersed in white power ideology. He was fluent in the language of white nationalism, attuned to its ideas. He was an obvious sympathizer who brought that sympathy to the federal government, where he has a direct hand in making immigration policy and choosing personnel.

For three years, Miller has used his perch to inflict fear and anxiety on refugees, asylum-seekers and unauthorized immigrants. Maybe, if you were charitable to Miller and sympathetic to restricting immigration, you could frame this as a misguided but good faith attempt to pull back from a more liberal status quo. No longer. These emails show that Millers views flow from his commitment to racist exclusion and the protection of a white demographic majority.

As a practical matter, Miller views nonwhite people as his enemies. In other words, a senior adviser to the president of the United States is crafting public policy that both directly and indirectly hurts tens of millions of nonwhite Americans. This is a treacherous betrayal of America's multiracial democracy and a direct threat to its future, and provides more evidence that Donald Trump and his regime are illegitimate.

In response to Miller's emails, more than 100 Democratic members of Congress have called for him to resign. No senior Republican elected officials, to my knowledge, have done the same.

These revelations about Stephen Millers white supremacist emails are not secondary to the current impeachment inquiry, or somehow coincidental to a rogue regimes assault on the rule of law and the Constitution.

Indeed, Millers emails are better understood as huge flashing road signs that illustrate how racism and the ideology of white supremacy made Trumps presidency possible and continue to fuel the Republican Party's fascist and authoritarian crusade against American democracy.

There are many examples. Social scientists and others have shown that white racism in combination with nativism and hostile sexism (and assisted Russian interference) that gave Donald Trump the White House in 2016.

Vladimir Putins spies and other agents launched a sophisticated psy-ops campaign, via social media and other means, to exacerbate racial tensions. The goal was to mobilize Trumps voters and demobilizing those more likely to vote for Hillary Clinton.

Research shows that Trumps racially intolerant white voters reject the very idea of democracy if it means that white people will no longer be the dominant and most powerful group in America.A large proportion of Trumps voters are racial authoritarians.

From the post-civil rights era onward, the Republican Party and movement conservatives have embraced racism and white supremacy as a dominant strategy for winning elections and then keeping and expanding power.

Republicans are more likely to be racist and generally more hostile towards nonwhites than are Democrats. Racism and white racial resentment are central to conservatism as a system of motivated social cognition.

In his recent book Post-Racial or Most-Racial? political scientist Michael Tesler shows in exhaustive detail how white racial resentment and racial backlash against Barack Obama now structures the partisanship and other political values of Republicans and right-leaning independent voters.

Political polarization is not race neutral. In reality, the increasing extremism of the Republican Party, as manifested through asymmetrical political polarization from the end of the civil rights movement to the backlash against Obama and then the election of Donald Trump is a function of white racism and white racial resentment. Negative partisanship and political tribalism, where politics is viewed not just as a reasonable difference of opinion between fellow citizens who share common values but rather as a referendum on their human worth and personhood, has also been fueled by white racism and an increasing hostility by Republicans and other conservatives toward the increasingly multiracial and diverse Democratic Party.

Todays Republican Party is opposed to multiracial democracy and the full and equal citizenship rights of nonwhite people, especially black Americans. Through gerrymandering, voter suppression both legal and otherwise and other tactics, the Republican Party has made itself increasingly immune from political accountability for its embrace of white supremacy and racial authoritarianism. In essence, the post-civil rights era Republican Party is the United States largest white racist organization.

Furthermore, this racialization of white group interests in the Age of Trump is increasingly central to white identity and political decision making.

Political scientist Ashley Jardina explained this to Salon in a July 2017 interview:

The idea behind "white identity politics" is that there is a subset of white voters and/or white Americans in general who feel a sense of attachment to their group. They feel a sense of solidarity. They think that their race and their racial identity is important to who they are. Their "white identity" influences how they see and view the political world. Tied up in that sense of identity is a belief that whites are losing out in the United States, their status and power is somehow under threat.

Subsequently those white people who manifest white identity politics are responding to that perception in a political way by supporting policies and candidates who they view as protecting their racial group and preserving its status. Donald Trump is very much the candidate of white identity but white identity mattered before Trump came on the scene.

Yes, white identity is still part of the system of racism because it's about wanting to maintain their power at the top. By implication, this means that people of color necessarily cannot be equal with white people. This type of white identity is about maintaining a system of inequality.

In total, the Trump regimes corruption and lawlessness is made legitimate in the eyes of the Republican Partys leaders, the right-wing propaganda news media and Republican voters because they believe themselves to be defending America from the Democratic Party and its nonwhite supporters.

To this point, Adam Serwer of the Atlantic observes: The Republican Party has responded to the increasing diversity of the electorate with an accelerating intolerance for ethnic and religious minorities, and with elaborate schemes to disenfranchise rival constituencies and rig election rules to its advantage. Crucial to this effort is its conviction that the Republican electorate is the only one that can confer legitimacy on elected officials, and that the partys political opponents are no longer wrong but fundamentally illegitimate, faithless usurpers with no right to determine the direction of the country. This has manifested in the quasi-religious dogma that Trump represents the will of Real America, and therefore defiance of his will is itself a form of treason.

Leading Republicans know that democracy is their enemy precisely because the policies they want to force on the American people are so unpopular. Perhaps even more important, because the Republican Party is organized around white racial tribalism, Republican leaders, their news media and their voters view multiracial democracy, embodied (at least in their eyes) through the Democratic Party, as an existential threat.

Writing in the Guardian, civil rights law professor Carol Anderson summarizes the Republican Party and movement conservatisms commitment to racial authoritarianism and what has been called "Herrenvolk democracy":

The party of Lincolns electoral cul de sac was mapped out by the Republicans contempt for democracy and, especially, fear of the broader American publics access to the ballot box. Despite numerous warnings about the consequences of doubling down on racism, homophobia and misogyny in an increasingly diverse and liberalizing nation, the Republican party ignored those broadsides and chose, instead, to hollow out, shrink and tilt the electorate as far to the right as possible.

I dont want everybody to vote, bellowed Paul Weyrich, the co-founder of the conservative Heritage Foundation. Those marching orders were dutifully supported by a series of supreme court decisions that gutted the Voting Rights Act, sanctioned voter roll purges in defiance of federal law and ignored the racism embedded in extreme partisan gerrymandered districts.

As a result, a range of Republican-sponsored voter suppression policies now scars the American landscape in a concerted effort to politically silence the majority of the people. Those sheer numbers and the Republican partys hardcore refusal to jettison white supremacy as its operating code has led to policy choices that exacerbate the range of crises facing the nation.

Anderson notes that as of July 2018, even with all the Republican efforts at voter purges, there were 12 million more Democrats than Republicans in the United States. Democrats are 40% of registered voters compared with just 29% listed as Republicans. In fact, the percentage of Americans who identified as members of the Republican party dropped by 5% in four short years. And independents lean overwhelmingly toward Democrats.

The Trump regimes embrace of white supremacy and racism is not limited to the United States. It is also international.In 2018, this administration withdrew the U.S. from the UN Human Rights Council. It has pushed for language condemning racism and nationalism to be removed from official UN documents language that has been present for decades.

In what would in more normal times be a stunning admission, the director of Americas National Counterterrorism Center recently admitted that under the Trump regime the United States is now viewed by the world as an exporter of white supremacist terrorism.This report is from Yahoo News:

After an upsurge in racially motivated attacks around the world, other countries are beginning to regard the United States as an exporter of white supremacism, a senior U.S. counterterrorism official said Friday.

For almost two decades, the United States has pointed abroad at countries who are exporters of extreme Islamist ideology, Russell Travers, acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center, told an audience in Washington, D.C. We are now being seen as the exporter of white supremacist ideology. Thats a reality with which we are going to have to deal.

Travers said there is now a global movement of what he termed racially motivated violent extremism, or RMVE (pronounced rem-vee), fueled by a wide variety of motivations and facilitated by social media and other online communications.

A large percentage of RMVE attackers in recent years have either displayed outreach to like-minded individuals or groups or referenced early attackers as sources of inspiration, he said.

While the Trump regime has brought America low and sacrificed the countrys prestige and honor abroad in apparent supplication to Vladimir Putin and Russia it can claim one success. Under Donald Trump and Stephen Millers stewardship, America is now viewed as the world leader in exporting white supremacist terrorism and violence.

Such an outcome is foundational, not coincidental.Vladimir Putins Russia is viewed by many white supremacists and other members of the New Right as a beacon for maintaining global white power and as a champion against a more cosmopolitan and diverse present and future. To the degree that the Trump regime aligns Americas interests with those of Russia, it is doing the work of global white supremacy.

Stephen Miller should of course be forced to resign. There should also be public hearings in Congress about Miller's role in the Trump regime and the policies he inflicted on the country. Miller also represents a much larger problem, beyond systemic and institutional racism in the United States.

The Trump regime has nurtured a permissive environment that welcomes and empowers white supremacists such as Miller, Bannon, Michael Anton and others, at both senior levels and as middle or lower-level bureaucrats. This problem extends to the courts, police and other law enforcement and the military. Congressional hearings could use Stephen Miller as an entry point to a larger discussion of white supremacist infiltration at all levels of the United States government.

In the articles of impeachment against Donald Trump, should Democrats include the full panoply of his crimes and other unpresidential behavior encouraging white supremacy and other political violence; crimes against humanity, as demonstrated by his regimes treatment of nonwhite migrants; betrayal of the presidential oath of office; violations of the emoluments clause and abundant corruption or should they instead go small and just focus on abuse of power, obstruction of justice and the Ukraine scandal?

Ultimately, those questions will reflect on how the Democratic Partys leaders balance political expediency with principle.

At the Inquirer, Will Bunch summarizes this dilemma:

The evidence is piling up that Trumps political extortion ploy on Ukraine was bribery, an extreme abuse of power, and a violation of his sacred oath to protect the best interests of the United States. That alone merits his impeachment (which will happen), his removal (which probably wont) and a harsh judgment from 2020 voters (when it doesnt). But given the sweep of this presidents assault on both the Constitution and on human decency, it almost feels and Im hardly the first to write this like busting the murderous Al Capone for income tax evasion.

Capone wasnt charged with the St. Valentines Day Massacre, and Trump wont be impeached for ripping toddlers away from their refugee mothers and fathers, or for locking tens of thousands of kids at the border in cages or squalid detention centers. Even worse, confirmation of something awful yet long suspected that the man shaping U.S. immigration policy is a fairly unabashed white supremacist barely caused a ripple.

Yet this unconscionable assault against the tired, the hungry, the poor, and their defenseless children on the southern border is the very worst crime of Donald Trumps presidency, an offense against humanity. Its good to see our elected officials finally holding this president accountable for violating his oath when he put his hand on that Bible on January 20, 2017.

Holding Trump and Stephen Miller accountable for violating the words inside that Bible to love thy neighbor will have to wait on a higher authority than Congress.

Trumps impeachment and the 2020 presidential election offer a referendum on what type of country America is and what kind it will be in the future. The Democrats will impeach Donald Trump. Republicans in the Senate, in all likelihood, will not convict him. Trump and his cult will claim victimhood and be further empowered in their assault on democracy, the rule of law and human decency.

This leaves the American people to decide on Election Day 2020 whether they are prepared to save the countrys multiracial democracy or abandon it to fascists, racial authoritarians and their dream of a 21st-century American apartheid where making America "great again" is an updated version of Whites Only.

Originally posted here:

Stephen Miller's white supremacy is no surprise but it raises the stakes on impeachment and 2020 - Salon

When DAFs Belie the Community in Community Foundation – Non Profit News – Nonprofit Quarterly

Jonathan McIntosh [CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

November 22, 2019; Charlotte Agenda

A community foundation based in Charlotte is facing intense public scrutiny after recent investigations uncovered that funds managed by the organization have been funding anti-immigrant groups for decades.

The Charlotte Agenda reports that the Foundation For The Carolinas (FFTC) is the sixth-largest community foundation in the country with $2.6 billion in assets. Their CEO, Michael Marsicano, is considered a civic leader in many circles, and the Foundation is influential in its ability to set the policy agenda with local officials.

FFTC is currently facing a whirlwind of criticism after a variety of news outlets have reported on the developments related to foundation-housed, donor-advised funds. An investigative report by the Charlotte Observer found that the foundation granted roughly $21 million in donor-advised dollars to organizations that advocate for limits on immigration between 2006 and 2018. Two organizations that received funding have caught the attention of the public: The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Those two groups, along with one other group, Numbers USA, received about 85 percent of the $21 million.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has designated both CIS and FAIR as hate groups. A quick glance at their history provides an understanding of how they operate today. John Tanton founded both groups and was also listed as a board member of FAIR up until 2010. Tanton was a white supremacist and eugenicist who regularly associated with former Klan members and leaders of the white nationalist movement.

A report from the Council on Foundations (COF) explains how community foundations acquire their resources and details the challenges to the overall model in the 21st century. Donor-advised funds (DAFs) have become an increasingly important aspect of generating revenue for many community foundations. Over the years, donor-advised funds have seen huge growth. Total DAF assets reached $121.42 billion in 2018. Community foundations hold a good share of these funds, but over time, funds run by investor firms like Fidelity and Schwab, which now run commercially-sponsored nonprofit DAFs, have grown in market share and have emerged as the nations largest nonprofits.

FFTC provides its DAF holders with full discretion over where their donations go, which is how the donations have ended up in the coffers of groups like CIS and FAIR.

In fairness to FFTC, providing donor-advised fund holders nearly full discretion over disbursements while maintaining legal responsibility for them is a common practice for community foundations. Most community foundations separate their programmatic work in the community from the more transactional work of managing donor-advised funds. It may even make sense in a lot of ways. It allows the community foundations to continue operating and making impact in the community, while maximizing the amount of donor-advised funds at the foundation means increased revenue. It also promotes democratic ideals by allowing a wide range of ideas to receive support.

But when a grant made is considered to be counter to the ideals of the donor-advised sponsor, that rather frail contract can fall apart. We have seen this occur in networks of Jewish federations, some of which have refused to make donations to groups critical of Israel. The issue became serious enough that the New Israel Fund sprung up to meet the needs of progressive Jewish donors.

As for FFTC, Marsicano gives many justifications for the foundations funding of anti-immigrant groups. He asks, Where does one draw the line in what should be funded and what should not be funded? He claims that it is the job of the IRS to determine who receives charitable status. He also mentions how a diversity of viewpoints makes for a healthier community, and that no institution should be engaged in cutting off the freedom of speech of its community members.

These are fair arguments until you begin to examine the current context at a deeper level. Nearly every organization that applies for charitable status is approved. And it is now common knowledge that there are many hate groups who are registered as charitable organizations. Additionally, the gutting of the IRS following the Lois Lerner scandal continues. The IRS have very few resources to regulate whether organizations are staying true to their charitable missions.

The stakes have also gotten higher, given the increase in hate crimes since the 2016 election. Charlotte residents have also been the subjects of increased raids and deportations because of the stance of their sheriff, who refuses to collaborate with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Speaking to the Charlotte Agenda, Sil Ganz of ourBridge for KIDS wonders how the Foundation can provide so much support to her immigrant-focused nonprofit, while also channeling funds to anti-immigrant groups. She adds, I find [the FFTCs] position of neutrality highly problematic as it puts our neighbors and families at risk. Aaron Dorfman, of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, offers a more critical view of the situation, there is no such thing as neutrality on thisyou cant be a big tent for your community if youre facilitating harm on some members of your community. Thats exactly whats happening here. In response to the recent developments, over 80 foundations have signed a pledge to filter out hate groups from their grantmaking.

Still, the fact that donors could certainly find another institution to channel their tax-deductible donations speaks to a broader problem in how the US treats charitable organizations. Increasingly, the community foundation world is faced with challenging questions about whether they are more committed to growth and increasing their assets under management, or more committed to their values and mission. These are important developments to follow because community foundations play such a crucial role in our communities. As the famous late historian Howard Zinn said, you cant be neutral on a moving train.Benjamin Martinez

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When DAFs Belie the Community in Community Foundation - Non Profit News - Nonprofit Quarterly


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