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Motherless babies possible as scientists create live offspring without need for female egg

 

Scientists now want to test whether the same result could be achieved using skin cells 

 

Sarah Knapton, Science Editor

13 September 2016 • 5:51pm

Motherless babies could be on the horizon after scientists discovered a method of creating offspring without the need for a female egg.

The landmark experiment by the University of Bath rewrites 200 years of biology teaching and could pave the way for a baby to be born from the DNA of two men.

It was always thought that only a female egg could spark the changes in a sperm required to make a baby, because an egg forms from a special kind of cell division in which just half the number of chromosomes are carried over.

Imagine that you could take skin cells and make embryos from them. This would have all kinds of utility.Dr Tony Perry, University of Bath

Sperm cells form in the same way, so that when a sperm and egg meet they form a full genetic quota, with half our DNA coming from our mother and half from our father.

But now scientists have shown embryos could be created from cells which carry all their chromosomes which means that, in theory, any cell in the human body could be fertilised by a sperm.

Three generations of mice have already been created using the technique and are fit and healthy and now researchers are planning to test out the theory using skin cells.

Dr Tony Perry, a molecular embryologist and senior author of the study, said: “Some people say start the day with an egg, but what this paper says is that you don’t necessarily have to start development with one.

“It has been thought that only an egg cell was capable of reprogramming sperm to allow embryonic development to take place.

“Our work challenges that dogma, held since early embryologists first observed mammalian eggs in around 1827 and observed fertilisation 50 years later, that only an egg cell fertilised with a sperm cell can result in a live mammalian birth.

“We’re talking about different ways of making embryos. Imagine that you could take skin cells and make embryos from them. This would have all kinds of utility.”

For the initial experiments, scientists “tricked” an egg into developing into an embryo using special chemicals which makes the egg think it has been fertilised. Crucially the cells in an embryo copy themselves completely when they divide, and so mirror closely most other cells in the body, such as skin cells.

When scientists injected the embryos with sperm, they grew into healthy mice which went on to produce their own litters.

Although the researchers began with an egg cell for the experiment, they do not believe it is required to spark the same development. In theory, the technique should work with any cell in the body as long as half the chromosomes are removed first to allow them to fuse with the sperm’s chromosomes.

Professor Robin Lovell-Badge, group leader at The Francis Crick Institute, said: “I’m not surprised that the authors are excited about this. I think it is a very interesting paper, and a technical tour de force.

“And I am sure it will tell us something important about reprogramming at these early steps of development that are relevant to fertilisation – and perhaps more broadly about reprogramming of cell fate in other situations.

“It doesn’t yet tell us how, but the paper gives a number of clear pointers.”

The technique raises the possibility that gay men, for instance, could have a child whose DNA was half of each of the couple, although a woman would still need to act as a surrogate to carry the baby.

It also raises the possibility that a man could even fertilise his own cells to produce offspring containing a mixture of genes inherited from him and his parents.

More realistically, the technique could allow women whose fertility has been wiped out by cancer drugs or radiotherapy to have their own children.

While eggs can be frozen before cancer therapy and later fertilised in an IVF clinic, currently nothing can be done once they have been lost.  It may also help women to continue having children later in life. Women are born with all their eggs and they degrade with age, which makes conception more difficult in later life. But if it was possible to fertilise a new skin cell, it could improve the chance of having a baby.

Conception using sperm and non-egg cells could also aid the preservation of endangered species, since it avoids the need to recover eggs.

In the study, 30 mouse pups were born with a success rate of 24 per cent. This compares with a 1 per cent to 2 per cent  success rate for offspring created by the Dolly the Sheep method of cloning by transferring DNA to donated eggs.

Some of the mice went on to have offspring themselves, and a number had offspring that went on to have their own pups. Fertility is generally seen as a sign of fitness and good health.

Dr Perry said that his team was planning to take the next step of attempting to produce live offspring from ordinary non-egg cells, such as skin cells. 

Mouse pups were healthy and went on to produce their own offspring 

Mouse pups in the experiment were healthy and went on to produce their own offspring

Dr Paul Colville-Nash, from the Medical Research Council, which funded the study, said: “This is an exciting piece of research which may help us to understand more about how human life begins and what controls the viability of embryos, mechanisms which may be important in fertility.

“It may one day even have implications for how we treat infertility, though that’s probably still a long way off.”

The research was published in the journal Nature Communications.

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It’s ‘digital heroin’: How screens turn kids into psychotic junkies

By Dr. Nicholas Kardaras

August 27, 2016 | 7:54pm

 

Image result for IPAD FOR KIDS

“I walked into his room to check on him. He was supposed to be sleeping — and I was just so frightened…”

She found him sitting up in his bed staring wide-eyed, his bloodshot eyes looking into the distance as his glowing iPad lay next to him. He seemed to be in a trance. Beside herself with panic, Susan had to shake the boy repeatedly to snap him out of it. Distraught, she could not understand how her once-healthy and happy little boy had become so addicted to the game that he wound up in a catatonic stupor.

There’s a reason that the most tech-cautious parents are tech designers and engineers. Steve Jobs was a notoriously low-tech parent. Silicon Valley tech executives and engineers enroll their kids in no-tech Waldorf Schools. Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page went to no-tech Montessori Schools, as did Amazon creator Jeff Bezos and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

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All roads in Kentucky lead you through Hell

 

 

Subtitle:  How to age quickly and retire early from a life of Activism in Cannabis – via the DEA

Subtitle:  How to become a criminal vs. a patient in need of their medication…

 

ShereeKrider; May 7th, 2015

 

I really hate writing about myself.  I rarely do and when I do it is for a reason.  I have no other choice but to tell the story as it happened – and unfortunately it happened to me, although you could say that I have set myself up for “martyrdom” by being involved with Activism in any aspect which has to do with Cannabis.  That is my sin – I smoke Cannabis.  I know that it helps my anxiety but I also knew that Cannabis alone most likely would not be able to handle my “condition” and that it was “illegal” to use.  O.K., that much is fact.

In 1979 I was diagnosed with Chronic Major Depression, Dysthymia, and Acute Anxiety.  This is no secret as I have not tried to hide the fact that I suffer from this condition.

Skip forward to 1990 when I finally was placed with a Psychiatrist that was very knowledgeable in his field and I took to him quickly.  I was glad to have someone that knew more than I did prescribing my medication.

I never hid the fact that I worked as an Activist with the USMjParty from him.  I never hid the fact that I used Cannabis from him. 

I left a pain clinic in 2003 where I tested positive for THC and the only medication they would prescribe at that point was Methadone which I had ironically enough just been able to detox myself from and was not taking anymore.  Hence, my reason for leaving.

My Psychiatrist, Dr. Theodore B. Feldman who works for U of L Psychiatric in Louisville Kentucky told me at that time that I did not have to worry about obtaining my medicine from him because he would never hold the THC against me.  My main two medicines were Zoloft and Xanax.  I had been tried on a multitude of drugs but this is what worked for me and I have been using the same medication since 1986.  He even filled out a form which is seen below, to send back to the pain doctors saying there wasn’t a reason to withhold my pain medication because of THC.

 

Theodore B. Feldmann, M.D., Associate ProfessorDr. Feldman is responsible for all aspects of the psychiatry curriculum during the four years of medical school. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Cincinnati and his medical degree from the University of Louisville. He completed his psychiatric residency training at the University of Cincinnati and received additional training at the Chicago Institute for psychoanalysis and Cincinnati Psychoanalytic Institute. Dr. Feldman received his board certification in psychiatry in 1986 and in forensic psychiatry in 1996. His clinical activities include general adult psychiatry, long-term intensive psychotherapy, and forensic psychiatry. He has been the principle investigator on research activities related to workplace violence and hostage and barricade incidents. Dr. Feldman serves as an expert witness in civil and criminal cases in state and federal courts. He is a psychiatric consultant to the Federal Bureau of Investigation which includes consultation in hostage situations, training of hostage negotiators, and psychological profiling of offenders. Dr. Feldman serves as a consultant to the Baldwin County (GA) Victim Assistance Program and to the Louisville Metro/Jefferson County (KY) Police Crisis Negotiation Team. He has published numerous scientific papers and serves as a peer reviewer for a variety of regional and national publications. In addition to his clinical service, Dr. Feldman supervises and lectures to medical students and psychiatry residents on topics related to psychiatric assessment, personality disorders and psychotherapy.

http://louisville.edu/medicine/departments/psychiatry/faculty/feldmann

Dr. Feldman THC

I had also been told by Dr. Feldman not to worry if I could not get to an appointment – I could reschedule.  The problem was that when I rescheduled he was always booked three to six months at a time so it could be hard for me to get in.  

The first part of April this year I called in to get an appointment.  I had missed two previous, one because of weather and one because of taking my (ex)husband to an important heart cath appointment here in Glasgow.   When I called in I was told that I was NO LONGER A PATIENT OF DR. FELDMAN THAT I HAD BEEN DISMISSED FOR MISSED APPOINTMENT AND A PAST DUE BALANCE WHICH WASN’T PAID OFF.  I never received a letter to this effect from either Dr. Feldman, nor the office of the U of L Psychiatric Clinic.  I was told nothing until the day I called in for an appointment.  After much adieu the clinic called in my Zoloft and Xanax for one more month.  I needed them filled again by the first of May.

 

This is where I will go backwards a little bit.  I had also been a patient of Dr. Chandra Reddy here in Cave City.

 

Reddy 2013

 

He had been my primary doctor since I moved here in 2011.  He had filled my medications as needed for the most part – until I was caught by a drug test by him back in 2014.  At about that same time, in July of 2014 Dr. Reddy, himself, was found to be trading scripts for marijuana!  Kentucky.com reported the following on July 7th, 2014:

According to last week’s order restricting Reddy from prescribing controlled substances, Berry said patients would call for narcotic prescriptions without coming to the office. She also claimed to have a sexual relationship with her married boss and to have traded cash and prescription narcotics for marijuana for his use.  

http://www.kentucky.com/2014/07/07/3326421/the-candy-man-and-pain-clinic.html#storylink=cpy

 

Here is the PDF Document of the outcome of his demise.

 

The end of this scenario with Dr. Chandra Reddy is that he is now back in his office practicing medicine after having had these charges against him and he had admitted to smoking marijuana as well. 

Now, I move forward to current time.  The Physician I went to after Dr. Reddy was out of business was located in Glasgow.  I was referred to him by T.J. Samson Hospital approximately six months ago.

I will not use his name because he is currently still my physician.  He has done no wrong.  He is just doing what he has to do to keep his license.  When H.B. 1 was passed in January of this year all the Physicians who were already on edge, increased their drug testing and removal of patients who smoked Cannabis, because the new laws just served to create a free fall for all Medical Cannabis user’s.  We were immediately pegged because of drug testing in the Doctor’s office which is how I came to be in this situation to begin with. 

When I went to my current Physician in Glasgow they got me with a drug test.  I was positive for THC and he could no longer prescribe me “scheduled narcotics” – which would include the medicine I need the most to survive in this chaotic world I live in, Xanax.

Do to the fact I thought ahead and always kept an extra few weeks of medicine put back in case of emergency, which I think this definitely qualifies as an emergency, I am able to sit here today and write the story of what is happening to me.

The only thing my current Physician could do is refer me to a new Psychiatrist in Bowling Green for which my appointment is not until September! 

It is documented fact that after being on this medication for so many years, my age, my heart conditions and anxiety, I could die from withdrawals.  So therefore they know that that withdrawal will force me into a hospital for treatment (I’ve never had to be hospitalized for my condition before) and force me to “retire” from Activism all together – get me out of their way, an activist “culling” of sorts, and I damn well know that it is not just me that is being hung by the neck in this scenario.  It has to be playing out with many people – all Cannabis user’s.  In all areas of the Country.  It is just particularly bad in Kentucky — and my name is Sheree Krider. 

 

So effectively I have been given a death sentence by our Government and Health Care System.  If I do not become a criminal and find Xanax on the “street”, it is quite likely I may end up dead – or worse.

They have judiciously made me into a criminal for being ill and speaking out for something I believe in and not trying to hide the fact.  I was, in fact, very naïve to think that I could trust any Doctor – even Dr. Feldman who I felt I could be truthful with, after twenty-four years, kicked me out like an old rag.  Due to the fact that he is involved in Forensics I have to ask myself why I ever felt I could trust him.  These people are good at what they do.  And they damn well know EXACTLY what they are doing to me.

Let my scenario be your warning!  The legalization movement is truly a war.  And they are going to keep knocking us down every time we think we are getting a step up.  The Activists who are in my age range are particularly vulnerable because of other healthcare issues.  Legalize, tax and regulate as a form of control is not going to change this scenario.  Only true repeal of the prohibition of this plant would do us any good now.  Yes, you can “legalize” a schedule II Cannabis drug that will give the plant to the Pharmaceutical Companies to patent, and prescribe to patients…But you will never be able to grow a plant in your yard for your own use.  You will have to have a RX in order to get this medication and it will come straight through the FDA and DEA and don’t get caught with someone else’s “Cannabis RX” in your pocket!

 

I just cannot figure out how a Doctor can be sanctioned for bartering RX’s for Marijuana and be back in business within six months and I am a patient, half dead already, and cannot get my mental health medication filled because I smoke Marijuana ?????

 

That’s it, and that’s that.

 

All the years of hard work by Activists to free a plant are quickly going to Hell in a Hand Basket.  So enjoy while you can.

 

God Bless,

ShereeKrider

 

index

 

 

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY AUNT RUBY!

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/feb/24/chicago-police-detain-americans-black-site

 

 

https://embed.theguardian.com/embed/video/us-news/video/2015/feb/24/homan-square-chicago-black-site-video

 

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/feb/24/chicago-police-detain-americans-black-site

While US military and intelligence interrogation impacted people overseas, Homan Square – said to house military-style vehicles and even a cage – focuses on American citizens, most often poor, black and brown. ‘When you go in,’ Brian Jacob Church told the Guardian, ‘nobody knows what happened to you.’ Video: Phil Batta for the Guardian; editing: Mae Ryan

 

The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.

 

Held for hours at secret Chicago ‘black site’: ‘You’re a hostage. It’s kidnapping’

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The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.

Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:

  • Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
  • Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
  • Shackling for prolonged periods.
  • Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
  • Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.

At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.

Brian Jacob Church, a protester known as one of the “Nato Three”, was held and questioned at Homan Square in 2012 following a police raid. Officers restrained Church for the better part of a day, denying him access to an attorney, before sending him to a nearby police station to be booked and charged.

Chicago’s Homan Square ‘black site’: surveillance, military-style vehicles and a metal cage

 

“Homan Square is definitely an unusual place,” Church told the Guardian on Friday. “It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East. The CIA calls them black sites. It’s a domestic black site. When you go in, no one knows what’s happened to you.”

The secretive warehouse is the latest example of Chicago police practices that echo the much-criticized detention abuses of the US war on terrorism. While those abuses impacted people overseas, Homan Square – said to house military-style vehicles, interrogation cells and even a cage – trains its focus on Americans, most often poor, black and brown.

 

Unlike a precinct, no one taken to Homan Square is said to be booked. Witnesses, suspects or other Chicagoans who end up inside do not appear to have a public, searchable record entered into a database indicating where they are, as happens when someone is booked at a precinct. Lawyers and relatives insist there is no way of finding their whereabouts. Those lawyers who have attempted to gain access to Homan Square are most often turned away, even as their clients remain in custody inside.

“It’s sort of an open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits, this place – if you can’t find a client in the system, odds are they’re there,” said Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes.

Chicago civil-rights attorney Flint Taylor said Homan Square represented a routinization of a notorious practice in local police work that violates the fifth and sixth amendments of the constitution.

“This Homan Square revelation seems to me to be an institutionalization of the practice that dates back more than 40 years,” Taylor said, “of violating a suspect or witness’ rights to a lawyer and not to be physically or otherwise coerced into giving a statement.”

Much remains hidden about Homan Square. The Chicago police department did not respond to the Guardian’s questions about the facility. But after the Guardian published this story, the department provided a statement insisting, without specifics, that there is nothing untoward taking place at what it called the “sensitive” location, home to undercover units.

“CPD [Chicago police department] abides by all laws, rules and guidelines pertaining to any interviews of suspects or witnesses, at Homan Square or any other CPD facility. If lawyers have a client detained at Homan Square, just like any other facility, they are allowed to speak to and visit them. It also houses CPD’s Evidence Recovered Property Section, where the public is able to claim inventoried property,” the statement said, something numerous attorneys and one Homan Square arrestee have denied.

“There are always records of anyone who is arrested by CPD, and this is not any different at Homan Square,” it continued.

The Chicago police statement did not address how long into an arrest or detention those records are generated or their availability to the public. A department spokesperson did not respond to a detailed request for clarification.

When a Guardian reporter arrived at the warehouse on Friday, a man at the gatehouse outside refused any entrance and would not answer questions. “This is a secure facility. You’re not even supposed to be standing here,” said the man, who refused to give his name.

A former Chicago police superintendent and a more recently retired detective, both of whom have been inside Homan Square in the last few years in a post-police capacity, said the police department did not operate out of the warehouse until the late 1990s.

But in detailing episodes involving their clients over the past several years, lawyers described mad scrambles that led to the closed doors of Homan Square, a place most had never heard of previously. The facility was even unknown to Rob Warden, the founder of Northwestern University Law School’s Center on Wrongful Convictions, until the Guardian informed him of the allegations of clients who vanish into inherently coercive police custody.

“They just disappear,” said Anthony Hill, a criminal defense attorney, “until they show up at a district for charging or are just released back out on the street.”

‘Never going to see the light of day’: the search for the Nato Three, the head wound, the worried mom and the dead man

Homan Square

 

‘They were held incommunicado for much longer than I think should be permitted in this country – anywhere – but particularly given the strong constitutional rights afforded to people who are being charged with crimes,” said Sarah Gelsomino, the lawyer for Brian Jacob Church. Photograph: Phil Batta/Guardian

Jacob Church learned about Homan Square the hard way. On May 16 2012, he and 11 others were taken there after police infiltrated their protest against the Nato summit. Church says officers cuffed him to a bench for an estimated 17 hours, intermittently interrogating him without reading his Miranda rights to remain silent. It would take another three hours – and an unusual lawyer visit through a wire cage – before he was finally charged with terrorism-related offenses at the nearby 11th district station, where he was made to sign papers, fingerprinted and photographed.

In preparation for the Nato protest, Church, who is from Florida, had written a phone number for the National Lawyers Guild on his arm as a precautionary measure. Once taken to Homan Square, Church asked explicitly to call his lawyers, and said he was denied.

“Essentially, I wasn’t allowed to make any contact with anybody,” Church told the Guardian, in contradiction of a police guidance on permitting phone calls and legal counsel to arrestees.

Church’s left wrist was cuffed to a bar behind a bench in windowless cinderblock cell, with his ankles cuffed together. He remained in those restraints for about 17 hours.

“I had essentially figured, ‘All right, well, they disappeared us and so we’re probably never going to see the light of day again,’” Church said.

Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Vincent Betterly, known as the ‘Nato Three’ Brian Jacob Church, Jared Chase and Brent Vincent Betterly, known as the ‘Nato Three’. Photograph: AP/Cook County sheriff’s office

Though the raid attracted major media attention, a team of attorneys could not find Church through 12 hours of “active searching”, Sarah Gelsomino, Church’s lawyer, recalled. No booking record existed. Only after she and others made a “major stink” with contacts in the offices of the corporation counsel and Mayor Rahm Emanuel did they even learn about Homan Square.

They sent another attorney to the facility, where he ultimately gained entry, and talked to Church through a floor-to-ceiling chain-link metal cage. Finally, hours later, police took Church and his two co-defendants to a nearby police station for booking.

After serving two and a half years in prison, Church is currently on parole after he and his co-defendants were found not guilty in 2014 of terrorism-related offenses but guilty of lesser charges of possessing an incendiary device and the misdemeanor of “mob action”.

It’s almost like they throw a black bag over your head and make you disappear for a day or two

Brian Jacob Church

The access that Nato Three attorneys received to Homan Square was an exception to the rule, even if Jacob Church’s experience there was not.

Three attorneys interviewed by the Guardian report being personally turned away from Homan Square between 2009 and 2013 without being allowed access to their clients. Two more lawyers who hadn’t been physically denied described it as a place where police withheld information about their clients’ whereabouts. Church was the only person who had been detained at the facility who agreed to talk with the Guardian: their lawyers say others fear police retaliation.

One man in January 2013 had his name changed in the Chicago central bookings database and then taken to Homan Square without a record of his transfer being kept, according to Eliza Solowiej of Chicago’s First Defense Legal Aid. (The man, the Guardian understands, wishes to be anonymous; his current attorney declined to confirm Solowiej’s account.) She found out where he was after he was taken to the hospital with a head injury.

“He said that the officers caused his head injuries in an interrogation room at Homan Square. I had been looking for him for six to eight hours, and every department member I talked to said they had never heard of him,” Solowiej said. “He sent me a phone pic of his head injuries because I had seen him in a police station right before he was transferred to Homan Square without any.”

Bartmes, another Chicago attorney, said that in September 2013 she got a call from a mother worried that her 15-year-old son had been picked up by police before dawn. A sympathetic sergeant followed up with the mother to say her son was being questioned at Homan Square in connection to a shooting and would be released soon. When hours passed, Bartmes traveled to Homan Square, only to be refused entry for nearly an hour.

An officer told her, “Well, you can’t just stand here taking notes, this is a secure facility, there are undercover officers, and you’re making people very nervous,” Bartmes recalled. Told to leave, she said she would return in an hour if the boy was not released. He was home, and not charged, after “12, maybe 13” hours in custody.

On February 2, 2013, John Hubbard was taken to Homan Square. Hubbard never walked out. The Chicago Tribune reported that the 44-year old was found “unresponsive inside an interview room”, and pronounced dead. After publication, the Cook County medical examiner told the Guardian that the cause of death was determined to be heroin intoxication.

Homan Square is hardly concerned exclusively with terrorism. Several special units operate outside of it, including the anti-gang and anti-drug forces. If police “want money, guns, drugs”, or information on the flow of any of them onto Chicago’s streets, “they bring them there and use it as a place of interrogation off the books,” Hill said.

‘That scares the hell out of me’: a throwback to Chicago police abuse with a post-9/11 feel

Homan Square

 

‘The real danger in allowing practices like Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib is the fact that they always creep into other aspects,’ criminologist Tracy Siska told the Guardian. Photograph: Chandler West/Guardian

A former Chicago detective and current private investigator, Bill Dorsch, said he had not heard of the police abuses described by Church and lawyers for other suspects who had been taken to Homan Square. He has been permitted access to the facility to visit one of its main features, an evidence locker for the police department. (“I just showed my retirement star and passed through,” Dorsch said.)

Transferring detainees through police custody to deny them access to legal counsel, would be “a career-ender,” Dorsch said. “To move just for the purpose of hiding them, I can’t see that happening,” he told the Guardian.

Richard Brzeczek, Chicago’s police superintendent from 1980 to 1983, who also said he had no first-hand knowledge of abuses at Homan Square, said it was “never justified” to deny access to attorneys.

“Homan Square should be on the same list as every other facility where you can call central booking and say: ‘Can you tell me if this person is in custody and where,’” Brzeczek said.

“If you’re going to be doing this, then you have to include Homan Square on the list of facilities that prisoners are taken into and a record made. It can’t be an exempt facility.”

Indeed, Chicago police guidelines appear to ban the sorts of practices Church and the lawyers said occur at Homan Square.

A directive titled “Processing Persons Under Department Control” instructs that “investigation or interrogation of an arrestee will not delay the booking process,” and arrestees must be allowed “a reasonable number of telephone calls” to attorneys swiftly “after their arrival at the first place of custody.” Another directive, “Arrestee and In-Custody Communications,” says police supervisors must “allow visitation by attorneys.”

Attorney Scott Finger said that the Chicago police tightened the latter directive in 2012 after quiet complaints from lawyers about their lack of access to Homan Square. Without those changes, Church’s attorneys might not have gained entry at all. But that tightening – about a week before Church’s arrest – did not prevent Church’s prolonged detention without a lawyer, nor the later cases where lawyers were unable to enter.

The combination of holding clients for long periods, while concealing their whereabouts and denying access to a lawyer, struck legal experts as a throwback to the worst excesses of Chicago police abuse, with a post-9/11 feel to it.

On a smaller scale, Homan Square is “analogous to the CIA’s black sites,” said Andrea Lyon, a former Chicago public defender and current dean of Valparaiso University Law School. When she practiced law in Chicago in the 1980s and 1990s, she said, “police used the term ‘shadow site’” to refer to the quasi-disappearances now in place at Homan Square.

I’ve never known any kind of organized, secret place where they go and hold somebody before booking for hours and hours

James Trainum, former detective, Washington DC

“Back when I first started working on torture cases and started representing criminal defendants in the early 1970s, my clients often told me they’d been taken from one police station to another before ending up at Area 2 where they were tortured,” said Taylor, the civil-rights lawyer most associated with pursuing the notoriously abusive Area 2 police commander Jon Burge. “And in that way the police prevent their family and lawyers from seeing them until they could coerce, through torture or other means, confessions from them.”

Police often have off-site facilities to have private conversations with their informants. But a retired Washington DC homicide detective, James Trainum, could not think of another circumstance nationwide where police held people incommunicado for extended periods.

“I’ve never known any kind of organized, secret place where they go and just hold somebody before booking for hours and hours and hours. That scares the hell out of me that that even exists or might exist,” said Trainum, who now studies national policing issues, to include interrogations, for the Innocence Project and the Constitution Project.

Regardless of departmental regulations, police frequently deny or elide access to lawyers even at regular police precincts, said Solowiej of First Defense Legal Aid. But she said the outright denial was exacerbated at Chicago’s secretive interrogation and holding facility: “It’s very, very rare for anyone to experience their constitutional rights in Chicago police custody, and even more so at Homan Square,” Solowiej said.

Church said that one of his more striking memories of Homan Square was the “big, big vehicles” police had inside the complex that “look like very large MRAPs that they use in the Middle East.”

Cook County, home of Chicago, has received some 1,700 pieces of military equipment from a much-criticized Pentagon program transferring military gear to local police. It includes a Humvee, according to a local ABC News report.

Tracy Siska, a criminologist and civil-rights activist with the Chicago Justice Project, said that Homan Square, as well as the unrelated case of ex-Guantánamo interrogator and retired Chicago detective Richard Zuley, showed the lines blurring between domestic law enforcement and overseas military operations.

“The real danger in allowing practices like Guantánamo or Abu Ghraib is the fact that they always creep into other aspects,” Siska said.

“They creep into domestic law enforcement, either with weaponry like with the militarization of police, or interrogation practices. That’s how we ended up with a black site in Chicago.”

 

CONTINUE READING…

RSF: Media freedom suffers drastic decline globally

 

 

Media freedom across the globe suffered a “drastic decline” in 2014 caused by wars, violence during protests and economic crises, Reporters Without Borders has said.

In its 2015 World Press Freedom Index released Thursday, Reporters Without Borders state there were 3,719 violations of freedom of information in 180 countries in 2014 – an eight percent increase compared to a year earlier.

Press freedom in European Union-Balkan countries has been declining in absolute terms according to the Paris-based NGO.

“This disturbing trend reflects a two-fold phenomenon: the excesses of some member countries on the one hand and the inability of EU mechanisms to contain them on the other,” it added.

However, some European countries ranked highest on the press freedom list such as: Finland, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden.

“Government interference in the media is a reality in many European Union countries,” the NGO said. “It is facilitated by the concentration of media ownership in ever fewer hands and a lack of transparency about ownership.”

Examples of “troubled” countries are Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Luxembourg.

Luxembourg was in the spotlight after an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in early November 2014, accusing hundreds of big-name corporations like Pepsi, IKEA and FedEx of securing secret tax deals with the tiny EU member state.

Reporters Without Borders stated: “The close links between government, business sector and media increasingly obstruct journalists’ work.”

“There has been an overall deterioration linked to very different factors, with information wars, and action by non-state groups acting like news despots,” the head of the Paris-based group, Christophe Deloire, told AFP.
The Reporters Without Borders 2015 World Press Freedom Index stated that there were 3,719 violations of freedom of information in 180 countries in 2014 – eight percent more than a year earlier.
All parties in conflicts raging in the Middle East and Ukraine were waging “a fearsome information war” where media personnel were directly targeted to be killed, captured or pressured to relay propaganda, it said.
The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) group active in Syria and Iraq, Boko Haram in northern Nigeria and Cameroon, and criminal organisations in Italy and Latin America all used “fear and reprisals to silence journalists and bloggers who dare to investigate or refuse to act as their mouthpieces,” said the watchdog, known by its French initials RSF.
North Africa and the Middle East contained notable “black holes” in which “entire regions are controlled by non-state groups in which independent information simply does not exist,” the group said.
“The criminalization of blasphemy endangers freedom of information in around half of the world’s countries,” the report said, noting that religious extremists sometimes also go after journalists or bloggers they believe do not sufficiently respect their god or prophet.
RSF’s ranking put Iran, China, Syria and North Korea among the countries with the very worst levels of press freedom out of the 180 evaluated.
“Police misconduct” during the Occupy Central protests in Hong Kong earned that territory a slide to 70th position.
The best-rated nations were northern European states such as Finland, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden, with New Zealand, Canada and Jamaica also making the top 10.

The United States ranked 49, three spots lower than in the previous report, in part because of what RSF said was the US government’s “war on information” against WikiLeaks and others.


In South America, Venezuela stood out with a 20-notch fall to a ranking of 137 due to the National Bolivarian Guard opening fire on clearly identified journalists during demonstrations.
Libya dropped 17 places to 154 because of the national chaos that has seen seven journalists murdered and 37 kidnapped.
Russia slipped to the 152nd spot after introducing “another string of draconian laws,” website blocking and the extinction of independent media.
“Press freedom… is in retreat on all five continents,” RSF declared, claiming its indicators were “incontestable”.

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Spain Chemical Plant Blast Cloaks Towns in Toxic Cloud

 

 

A blast at a chemical plant cloaked a region in northern Spain in a huge orange toxic cloud on Thursday, according to local reports. Three at the plant some 30 miles from the city of Barcelona were injured in the explosion, which also forced some 60,000 people in the surrounding communities to remain confined indoors for hours, La Verdad newspaper reported.

The explosion at the installation owned by Simar — which distributes and stores chemicals, according to its website — occurred at 9:45 a.m. (3:45 a.m. ET), the newspaper reported. Company officials were not immediately available for comment.

Officials ordered school and university students to remain indoors and said parents should not pick them up, news website 20 Minutes reported. Pregnant women, children, the elderly and those with respiratory problems were told to remain indoors even after the general warning was lifted, according to La Verdad.

The blast appeared to have been caused by two chemicals coming into contact during delivery to the plant, the regional government of Catalonia said in a statement, Reuters reported.

– F. Brinley Bruton and Alex Smith

David Grau

An orange toxic cloud hangs the town of Igualada, near Barcelona, following an explosion in a chemical plant, February 12, 2015

First published February 12th 2015, 7:13 am

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100 Paralyzed Children, Each a Mystery

Since August, more than 100 children across the country have developed a condition best described in three words no parent ever wants to hear: mysterious, sudden paralysis.

The kids have a median age of 8, and three-quarters of them were previously perfectly healthy. For most, the loss of feeling occurred only on one side of the body.

According to the CDC, in most of the children the paralysis coincided with a nasty cold. That made health workers initially think that the paralysis was caused by a rare virus called enterovirus D68. EV-D68, as it’s known, is a severe respiratory virus that was going around at the start of school last year, and because it’s a relative of polio, it was thought to be causing the polio-like loss of muscle function.

 

But now, researchers aren’t so sure. Of the 71 paralyzed children whose cerebrospinal fluid was tested, none came back positive for enterovirus. The virus has been found in nasal swabs taken from some of the paralyzed children, but researchers say that doesn’t indicate as strong of a link as the spinal fluid would have. Researchers at Children’s Hospital Colorado are currently attempting to determine whether the children suffering from paralysis have elevated levels of enterovirus 68 antibodies.

 

Mary Anne Jackson, chief of infectious diseases at Children’s Mercy Hospital and one of the first doctors to recognize enterovirus D68, said her hospital has had three cases of paralysis. None of the paralyzed kids had enterovirus D68, however, and none of the hospital’s 300 patients who had confirmed enterovirus D68 later became paralyzed.

 

“Right now we have two scenarios and we have no idea how they’re related,” Jackson told me.

Nationally, only one of the paralyzed children has fully recovered, and about two-thirds have gotten slightly better.

The existence of an unknown paralytic disease is frightening, but the CDC points out it’s yet another reason for parents to get kids up-to-date on vaccinations:

“Although the specific causes of this illness are still under investigation, and causal relationship to EV-D68 has not yet been substantiated,” the agency said in a statement, “being up to date on all recommended vaccinations is essential to prevent a number of severe diseases.”

 

This article was originally published at http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/02/100-cases-of-child-paralysis-all-a-mystery/385323/?UTM_SOURCE=yahoo