“Golden Rice Opponents Should Be Held Accountable for Health Problems Linked to Vitamain A Deficiency”

Except for the regulatory approval process, Golden Rice was ready to start saving millions of lives and preventing tens of millions of cases of blindness in people around the world who suffer from Vitamin A deficiency.

It’s still not in use anywhere, however, because of the opposition to GM technology.
via Scientific American

Sure – we can arrest people for interfering with scientists’ right to save the world, because scientists are so expert that they know what they’re doing and can absolutely guarantee that everything will work as promised…so that means if they’re wrong, they can be held liable for manslaughter if anyone dies, right?

Right?

Whaddya mean “that’s not how science works”?

Baby born to a mother who had taken thalidomide while pregnant. Image via wikipedia.

Baby born to a mother who had taken thalidomide while pregnant. Image via Wikipedia.

Authority means accountability. If scientists want the one, they should be ready to accept the other.

And that doesn’t even touch the issue of whether they are taking too much license with the environment we all share. I hate saying that, because I am not at all a fan of environmentalists, and I hate sounding like them. To me the question is not environment vs. science, but rather the correct way to handle risk. The history of science is full of projects that crashed first and only learned to fly after examining what went wrong the first three or seven or fifty times. Scientists don’t own the environment. We all do. That is why the correct way to win debates over whether or not there is such a thing as “genetic pollution” or whether cross-pollination issues are potentially of concern is by persuading the voters – not by punishing thoughtcrimes, as this writer advocates, by making people criminally liable for invented crimes just because those people and their hard-to-rebut arguments happen to be politically inconvenient.

…or just because the scientific community doesn’t know how to effectively rebut a valid point?

…or just because the scientific community doesn’t want to even try, because they think people should just obey?

Maybe if scientists want to go back to the good old days – when people still trusted them – they could start with an apologize for their own past lack of accountability (which is why people stopped trusting them, after all). Blind obedience hasn’t worked out very well for too many of us.

Milgram Experiment advertisement. Image via Wikipedia.

Milgram Experiment advertisement. Volunteers were treated unethically. Image via Wikipedia.

The history of science is littered with experiments that were supposed to be safe but wemt wrong. A disturbing number of these science-gone-wrong stories have occurred in the third world. Scientists have a long and ugly history of using developing-world populations as their personal guinea pigs. For example, most people have heard of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment – but how many people know that after it was exposed and shut down, the scientists moved it overseas?

The Commission confirms that despite knowledge that it was unethical, US government medical scientists PURPOSELY infected  “at least 1,300 who were exposed to the sexually transmitted diseases syphilis, gonorrhea and chancroid” to study the effects of penicillin. At least 83 subjects died.”

Reading this article, it seems that wanting to experiment on third world populations is what this is all about. Poverty isn’t caused by lack of resources. It’s caused by corruption and other political problems. We already have more than enough food to feed the world. So don’t fall for the guy using Third World poverty-stricken people as meat shields: this is not about solving the problems of the poor. It’s about the question of whether scientists promising awesome things have the right to bypass that part of the political process where they have to prove their awesome products are safe and worthwhile – to our satisfaction, not their own.

In other words, it’s about self-governance (as opposed to top-down experts telling us what to want, think, feel, need, desire, use, and not use).

And the people who want the right to override our political processes – because they are quote-unquote ‘experts’ – have a history of being ethically stunted people who view the developing world as their own personal sandbox for exploitative experimentation.

But medical ethicists say that even if today’s research is not as egregious as the Guatemala experiment, American companies are still testing drugs on poor, sometimes unknowing populations in the developing world.

Many, like Markel, note that experimenting with AIDS drugs in Africa and other pharmaceutical trials in Third World countries, “goes on every day.”

“It’s not good enough, in my opinion, to protect only people who live in the developed world — but all human beings,” he said.

via ABC

Scientists have relied on bullying to artificially manipulate outcomes – in the case of GMO foods, they have forced people to falsely equate GMO foods with lower-risk foods. Yes, lower risk. There is a risk in GMO foods, and the scientists want us to behave as if there isn’t. That’s the heart of the matter right there – that is what they want, but they are not willing to do what they have to do to earn the outcome; they want to manipulate the outcome dishonestly. They want to deny the existence of real issues that could or do exist. They want to skip the part where they have to persuade us, and their preferred method for doing this is to replace self-governance with top-down bullying – using the three-step “impending doom” song-and-dance beloved of “progressives” everywhere:

  1. Make optimistic promises about how great the results of the proposed policy will be, then treat those promises as if they’re fact. (How could you be against ending world hunger?)
  2. Make dire predictions of impending doom if the policy is not implemented, and act as if criticizing (or even evaluating) the policy equals wanting that horrible doom to fall. (You don’t just want to end world hunger, but you want everyone to starve and die!)
  3. Ignore or, if necessary, deny the consequences if these grossly exaggerated and highly improbable predictions are incorrect.

There is always risk in science – that is why we don’t hold scientists accountable for the deaths their mistakes cause, even though science has caused a steady stream of death and mutilation. We know that science is frequently wrong. The flip side of this is acknowledging that scientists don’t really know, and aren’t honestly in a position to guarantee safety or certainty. Some of the worst atrocities in the history of science come from scientists losing their objectivity – forgetting that they don’t really know. Getting carried away.

It is accurate and correct to perceive GMO products as risky – potentially very risky – to both health and the environment. It isn’t “anti-science” to point out that risk warrants caution. We don’t actually know they’re safe. Note that the people insisting that we should accept they are safe are people who want all the profits while we are stuck with all the risk. (Normally risk and reward go together, but of course it’s always nicer if you can keep the reward and give some other poor slob the risk.)

The honest way to handle it would be to admit that consumers have good reason to prefer non-manipulated foods – and to price GMO foods less, accordingly. But they don’t want to do that. They want to make it so that you can’t tell if a food is GMO or not. They want to replace non-GMO foods with GMO foods.They want to own the food supply.

And, no, the fact that they’re willing to forego profits doesn’t mean anything – not when you’re talking about a product with the power to foster dependency and create market dominance. Remember when Nestle gave away baby formula? WHOOPS!

If their real goal were to prevent vitamin A deficiency, it wouldn’t be hard to dispense vitamin A to all at-risk populations without forcing farmers into accepting crops that may be wonderful or may cause serious problems.

A Step Forward in Mass-Manufactured Human Beings

Cutting-edge research around the world will soon launch a new era in human procreation – a world in which embryos can be ‘brought to term’ in artificial wombs, replacing traditional pregnancies.

via IEET

And rendering women superfluous. What was that about men being obsolete?

Babymaking will move further from being a human activity to being a mere manufacturing process – the Industrial Revolution meets “biological colonialism“.

The question of manufacturing human beings via industrial processes is addressed in the IEET article:

However, ethicists voice concerns that this technology could endanger the very meaning of life. Mother-child relationships, the nature of female bodies, and being ‘born’, not ‘made’ all play a role in defining how most people around the world view this magical state of existence called life. Artificial wombs will enable both men and women to reproduce entirely alone, removing intercourse from the reproductive equation.

But proponents believe people will reason, “Why risk gestating the baby in a biological womb, when this new science can produce a child with our exact genetic makeup, perfect personality, and zero flaws.

We are already seeing ethical questions coming from the use of surrogates – for instance, people who would not be able to find and marry an appropriate mate are using artificial reproduction technologies to bypass that problem, putting children into the hands of people such as the infamous case of the Israeli pedophile who contracted with an Indian surrogate mother (and the Israeli government has no power to remove the child, but must wait until there is evidence of harm).

We are already at the point where people are literally suing doctors who allow imperfect babies to be born. As we define what it means to have “perfect” personality and “zero” flaws, we will confront the question of whether there is in fact any difference at all between having “ideals” vs. merely “following fashion”.

When all the Down’s, autistic, and “sick” kids are removed from the gene pool, will that be enough? No – already there are those who define being too short, tall, skinny, fat, etc. as “flawed”.

Do we really want an entire planet full of people who look like Britt Ekland (circa 1978)? And when we have that, are we going to experience monocropping failures?

“Should government force businesses to hire felons?”

Obama’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled that the use of background checks in hiring is racially discriminatory. In 2012, the EEOC issued “guidance” to the nation’s businesses, citing statistics showing blacks and Hispanics are convicted of crimes at significantly higher rates than whites. Therefore, the EEOC ruled, excluding job applicants based on their criminal records would have “a disparate impact based on race and national origin.”

The EEOC did not say past felonies could never be considered in job applications. But the guidance made clear that an employer who chooses not to hire a felon could have to present a detailed defense to the EEOC. “The employer needs to … effectively link specific criminal conduct, and its dangers, with the risks inherent in the duties of a particular position,” the guidance said. Employers who cannot prove to the EEOC’s satisfaction that excluding a felon from a particular job is a “business necessity” could be in trouble. And whatever the outcome, the company could have its hands full with a costly lawsuit from the government.

“One bright-line policy you should not adopt is having a no-felons policy,” EEOC commissioner Victoria Lipnic told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in a March 2012 speech. “If you have that policy, that’s going to be a problem if you’re subject to an EEOC investigation.”

Hearing that, many employers might say: This is crazy. There are companies that will reject a job candidate because he posted something embarrassing on his Facebook page, and the Obama administration is warning businesses they’ll be in trouble if they don’t hire convicted felons?

Of course a business, after a background check, might well choose to hire a felon. But that is the employer’s decision — not the Obama administration’s.

via Washington Examiner

This was an op-ed about an Obama nominee (whose nomination is now squelched), but the policy itself seems to be a real policy (http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/arrest_conviction.cfm).

Screen for felony convictions, and you may be sued.  That’s an actual warning to American employers, courtesy of the Obama EEOC.

via CFIF

What a horrible burden to put on businesses. It’s almost as if Obama wants to drive everyone out of business.

The Texas suit alleges that the EEOC’s guidelines on employers’ use of criminal history effectively intrudes on the State of Texas’ “sovereign right to impose categorical bans on the hiring of criminals.

Specifically, the complaint alleges that the EEOC’s 2012 guidelines would serve to force Texas employers to hire felons under threat of disparate impact investigations and suits prompted by the EEOC.

Currently the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has an absolute ban on hiring felons to become law enforcement agents, one that is supported by Texas law, but may violate the EEOC’s guidelines.

The parade of horribles caused by following the EEOC’s authority includes hiring felons as  “[t]roopers, jailers, and school teachers.” In the alternative, ignoring the EEOC’s guidance would risk a hellstorm of Title VII disparate impact investigations, a significant burden even if the investigation is found to be frivolous.

via blogs.findlaw.com

“Obama’s clever campaign to constrict the flow of criticism”

Among the many costs of the Barack Obama presidency is an intentional corrosion for its own political gain of public faith in so many American institutions, among them Congress, the Supreme Court and the media.

If numerous sectors of society are feuding or distrustful of each other, then a well-controlled central authority like a chief executive can more easily rule the pieces. It’s classic Chicago politics, the way the mayor there controls the city’s feuding neighborhood fiefdoms of Democrat pols and workers.

via Investors.com.

“Mini Me Jesus”

So what’s wrong with a pasty white, Gary Busey, Mini Me Jesus? Why not just let people make Jesus in the image they want — the image that makes them feel the most comfortable?

Reason 1: It’s just wrong.

via Mini Me Jesus | Rev. Susan Sparks.

I think the important question is not whether a white Jesus is wrong; everyone knows white skin is bad – or “pasty”, as HuffPo repeatedly emphasizes.

The question is whether the Africans who have made Him black, and the Asians who have made Him Asian, need to be corrected.

Does the earthly form matter? Should the “historical Jesus” be what Christians focus on, mostly or exclusively?

Or is Jesus like all of us? Should we encourage the idea that he is white – and black and Asian – as well as Middle Eastern?

I always liked medieval art specifically because it isn’t so literal, but is instead representative of spiritual truths. I don’t think what color Jesus is really matters very much, but I do think it’s wrong to try to shame, guilt, or embarrass those who view Jesus “wrong”.

“White House imposes secrecy rules on first lady’s lavish, celebrity-filled birthday party”

According to reports in People, the Chicago Tribune, TMZ, US Magazine, and elsewhere, among of the attendees were, in no particular order: Beyonce, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, James Taylor, Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight, Janelle Monae, Mary J. Blige, Angela Bassett, Courtney Vance, Herbie Hancock, Samuel L. Jackson, Grant Hill, Alonzo Mourning, Ledisi, Emmett Smith, Star Jones, Al Roker, Steve Harvey, Magic Johnson, Billie Jean King, Michael Jordan, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson, Gayle King, Ahmad Rashad, Kal Penn, and Ashley Judd. Among the current and former government officials attending were Joe Biden, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Susan Rice, Eric Holder, and Kathleen Sebelius.

[…]

“So great was the secrecy surrounding the party,” the Tribune reported, “that guests were handed an invitation — on their way out, the sources said.”

[…]

Why the secrecy, especially for an event involving so many well-known people? Maybe the Obamas just wanted a little privacy for an important occasion in the first lady’s life, although having 500 guests, including some of the most famous people on the planet, is perhaps not the best way to achieve that goal. Or maybe, since the president has announced he is devoting the rest of his time in office to an “inequality agenda,” the White House felt photos of a champagne-soaked, star-studded party would be somewhat off-message. But the Obamas are well-off, accomplished people. They can have a big party if they want (and if they pay for it). Why hide it?

via WashingtonExaminer.com.

John Doe Probes

The John Doe process has become a political weapon intended to serve partisan ends regardless of the law. Kudos to a judge who was brave enough to read the law and stop it

via WSJ.com.

If you don’t know what a John Doe probe is, you’ll probably feel better to know that I never heard of ’em before, either. I found this:

Unlike normal criminal proceedings, which can be initiated if there is probable cause to believe a person has violated the law, John Doe proceedings help law enforcement develop the evidence necessary to establish the very existence of probable cause.

The John Doe proceeding gives law enforcement powers not otherwise available to them. For example, it gives law enforcement the power to subpoena witnesses, to take testimony under oath, to offer immunity from prosecution, and to compel the testimony of reluctant witnesses.

via Hurley, Burish & Stanton :: Articles.

It also apparently grants prosecutors the right to bang down peoples’ doors and confiscate their donor lists stuff – while they aren’t even allowed to phone a lawyer.

The five-county investigation remains open, but subpoenas issued in the probe to conservative political groups supporting Gov. Scott Walker were quashed, sources familiar with the development said. The ruling — which is sealed — raises First Amendment concerns about the subpoenas.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has not turned up any Democratic candidates or liberal interest groups involved in the recall elections that have been contacted by John Doe prosecutors.

“The John Doe is still open,” said one individual familiar with the case.

But other sources said Friday’s ruling seriously undercuts the well-publicized probe, launched in summer 2012. Those familiar with the case said the decision was handed down by retired Appeals Judge Gregory A. Peterson,the presiding judge in the investigation who took over the case in November.

Peterson said late Friday that he could not comment on any aspect of the case because the proceedings are still covered by a secrecy order. John Doe investigations allow prosecutors to work in secret while compelling witnesses to turn over documents and give testimony.

via Secret ruling deals major setback to John Doe probe into recall elections.

“Only a special prosecutor can get truth about IRS abuse”

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa points to tone deafness to explain the choice of an Obama donor to run the Justice Department’s “investigation” of IRS targeting of conservative, Tea Party and evangelical political groups during the 2010 and 2012 campaigns. But the California Republican is being entirely too diplomatic. Putting a donor in charge is more like flipping the bird to Obama’s critics.

When the IRS harassment abuse first became public last year, Obama promised a complete investigation. Attorney General Eric Holder described the IRS harassment as “outrageous and unacceptable” and ordered a joint investigation by the FBI and the Justice Department.

via WashingtonExaminer.com

Some scandals affect the core of government – that is, they raise the question of whether the nation’s integrity is compromised.

That such scandals should be investigated fully and thoroughly ought to be a bipartisan thing.