Welcome to the Dark Age of Designer Babies

by Carly Andrews


[A sobering 2014 article on alteration of the human gene pool which will have unknown consequences for the human race.  Once invoked, how can this be undone? Is this really what we want genetic science to be? ED]


As FDA holds hearing on new controversial fertility technique, Aleteia expert insists it’s a moral no-go.

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is holding a hearing this week in the US to consider a controversial new IFV technology that would involve the creation of test-tube babies, using the DNA from 3 separate people.  The procedure aims at preventing potentially fatal mitochondrial diseases. [emphasis - DNI]
 
Troublesome cells

Mitochondria are organelles (or tiny power stations) found in every cell of the body except for red blood cells, generating energy for the cell. They are passed from mother to child through her egg.
 
There are around 5,000 children in the US suffering from the illness.  Mitochondrial diseases are often caused by mutations – inherited or acquired – in mitochondrial DNA.  The effects can include cerebral developmental delays, muscle weakness, seizures, strokes, dementia, diabetes, blindness, deafness, short stature, respiratory problems and in the worst cases, death.
 
This latest IVF research has discovered that exchanging the defective mitochondria of the parent egg/embryo with mitochondria from a healthy donor egg/embryo, avoids passing on the disease to the infant. 
 
There are two different methods for mitochondrial repair:
 
First – intervention by embryo: 
1. The sperm fertilises two eggs; one embryo is created using the egg of the parent, and another with the egg of the donor. 
2. The nucleus (containing the genetic information) from the donor embryo is removed and destroyed.
3. The nucleus from the parent embryo (which has the unhealthy mitochondria) are removed and the remains destroyed.
4. The parents’ nucleus is inserted into the donor embryo to create a healthy embryo.
 
Second - intervention by egg:
1. A healthy donor egg and the mother’s egg with defective mitochondria are collected. 
2. The donor’s nucleus (containing most of the genetic information) is removed and destroyed.
3. The nucleus from the mother’s egg is removed and the remains destroyed. 
4. The mother's nucleus is inserted into the donor’s healthy egg, and it may now be fertilised by sperm.

The consequences of either of the above procedures mean that the child would have around 20,000 genes from their parents and about 37 mitochondrial genes from a third-party donor. The genetic inheritance of the infant would be irreversibly moderated. 
 
Moral dilemma
 
Antonio G. Spagnolo, Director of the Institute of Bioethics, Faculty of Medicine, at the Università Cattolica del S. Cuore, Rome, has spoken to Aleteia about the moral implications of this highly controversial procedure. 
 
“Undoubtedly the efforts of the researchers in attempting to eliminate pathologies of this type are commendable” he says. “Unfortunately the manner in which they proceed to resolve illnesses is very problematic and numerous moral questions must be confronted."
 
“First of all, at the heart of the matter is the unavoidable problem - which is morally negative in itself - of IVF which is what actually enables the realisation of this new procedure.”
 
The Church is very clear on the moral depravity of IVF practices, in which many human embryos are experimented on and disposed of.
 
“Respect for the dignity of the human being excludes all experimental manipulation or exploitation of the human embryo." [Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith]
 
Besides the many risks involved for both the mother and infant, the big moral problem is that the human embryo is treated as mere disposable biological material, instead of a human person.

The Church explains that the human person is a unified whole, which is “at the same time corporal and spiritual. By virtue of its substantial union with a spiritual soul, the human body cannot be considered as a mere complex of tissues, organs and functions...” 
 
Therefore “the fruit of human generation, from the first moment of its existence...from the moment the zygote has formed, demands the unconditional respect that is morally due to the human being in his bodily and spiritual totality.”
 
If the human embryo must be treated as a human person, then it is “not in conformity with the moral law deliberately to expose to death human embryos obtained 'in vitro'.”
 
But then, wouldn’t the second form of IVF be morally permissible, since it only modifies the egg and not the embryo? 

Professor Spagnolo answers that “the procedure cannot be morally permissible.”
 
Consequences unknown
 
Firstly, in addition to the foundational problem of IVF in itself being morally wrong, Spagnolo emphasises the problem of consequences.
 
“Even for those who retain that in vitro fertilisation does not have any moral problems” he explains that “they still could not help but recognise that this new procedure is, in itself, loaded with unknown elements with regards to its results."
 
Indeed there is no way to tell, from supposed initial ‘success’ in experimentation, what the long-ranging consequences of this procedure could be for the child and what physiological or psychological problems it may cause further down the line. 
 
Gene therapy
 
Secondly, Professor Spagnolo considers the risks involved with understanding the procedure in terms of “gene therapy.” 
 
He explains that the scientific community has “always considered gene therapy on germ cells in the negative sense.” 
 
The practice “deals with inserting correct genes into a germ cell before IVF” he says. “Germ gene therapy is loaded with risks since any possible harm transmitted would be done not only to the embryo in question, but also to the descendants of the embryo.”
 
Here Spagnolo brings our attention once again to the teachings of the Church. 
 
“The Catholic Magisterium reminds us: ‘because the risks connected to any genetic manipulation are considerable and as yet not fully controllable, in the present state of research, it is not morally permissible to act in a way that may cause possible harm to the resulting progeny. ...For these reasons, therefore, it must be stated that, in its current state, germ line cell therapy in all its forms is morally illicit.’” [Dignitas Personae, 26]
 
So basically, 3-person IFV treatment is a moral no-go.

"It is not enough merely to discipline by law the ways in which it is brought about" Spagnolo asserts, "since its fundamental meaning remains the same."



[Note:  Better analysis than most.  Yes, both the end/goal and the means used to reach it must be ethical.  The ends do not justify the means.

(1)  He identifies one of the major scientific consequences that seems the media wants to ignore:  the genetic engineering does not just affect the child born, but because those “foreign” genes become integrated into her germ cells (female oocytes) then those foreign genes will ALSO be passed down through the child’s future generations -- genetically altering not just the child’s genome but all her descendants and the human gene pool as well.  Thus not just one child’s problems are the issue, but also the cloning of those foreign genes down through the generations. 

(2)  I might also add that the fact that mitochondria have fewer genes than the nucleus does not therefore mean that they are “incidental” -- as demonstrated by the various mitochondrial diseases themselves. 

(3)  Approving this research -- much less clinical trials with human patients -- would thereby also approve killing the normal living human embryos used as the source of the healthy mitochondria.

(4)  How can patients in clinical trials give ethically or legally valid “informed consent” when the researchers don’t know the critical “information” they need to inform their patients -- e.g., the scientific facts, the risks and benefits, etc.?

(5)  Scientifically they don’t have a clue as to what genes are causing the problems in mitochondrial diseases.  (a)  As there are many different kinds of mitochondrial diseases, there are probably many different genetic mutations causing them.  (b)  By what genetic criteria will they determine the guilty genes when scientists still don’t know any more that 50% or less of the coding of THE Human Genome Project (which used only nuclear genes, and derived them from samples from people around the world and pooled them all together!).  Answer:  They don’t know, and can’t know.  Thus they are incapable of anticipating any dangerous consequences to the child or her descendants -- or explaining them scientifically.

(6)  A lot of research by many different scientists have shown that the normal “communication” between the nuclear genes and the mitochondrial genes is badly damaged when “foreign” mitochondrial genes are substituted for the natural mitochondrial genes -- and that causes serious damage to the organism.

(7)  And what appears to be a “beneficent” technique can also be used for maleficent purposes as well.  What if they use the same technique to inject non-human animal mitochondrial thus forming a chimera?  Or inject foreign genes desired by researchers into the donor mitochondria before injecting them into the human oocyte/embryo?  Same technique, different foreign genes.  Opens the door to all sorts of genetic engineering of human beings and their descendents.

(8)  My only pause was when he used the term “zygote”.  According to the Carnegie Stages of Early Human Embryonic Development (instituted in 1942 and updated continuously since then to the present), the formation of the human “zygote” is not when the new human being begins to exist.  The “zygote” is Stage 1c;  the embryo already exists before that point at Stages 1a and 1b.  That is, the new sexually reproduced human being begins to exist at the beginning of the process of fertilization, when the sperm penetrates and fuses with the oocyte -- not at the end of the process.  If the “zygote” is claimed to be when the human being begins to exist, that would justify using (and killing) the already existing embryo at Stages 1a and b -- which is when a great deal of human genetic engineering is performed!  Well, at least he didn’t say “conception”. The article first appeared here.  -- DNI




Mass Shootings and Psychiatric Drugs: The Connection

by Jon Rappoport of No More Fake News.


I’ve been tracking the connection since 1999, when I wrote a long white paper, for the Truth Seeker Foundation, on school shootings and psychiatric drugs. The paper was titled: “Why Do They Do It? School shootings Across America.”

The drugs aren’t the only causative factor, but they produce what I call the Johnny Appleseed effect throughout society. Sprinkle enough of the drugs among enough people and you get otherwise unexplainable violence popping up—in schools, in workplaces. The psychiatric plague eats out the country from the inside.

Here are excerpts from my 1999 report—

The massacre at Columbine High School took place on April 20, 1999. Astonishingly, for eight days after the tragedy, during thousands of hours of prime-time television coverage, virtually no one mentioned the word “drugs.” Then the issue was opened. Eric Harris, one of the shooters at Columbine, was on at least one drug.

The NY Times of April 29, 1999, and other papers reported that Harris was rejected from enlisting in the Marines for medical reasons. A friend of the family told the Times that Harris was being treated by a psychiatrist. And then several sources told the Washington Post that the drug prescribed as treatment was Luvox, manufactured by Solvay.

In two more days, the “drug-issue” was gone.

Luvox is of the same class as Prozac and Zoloft and Paxil. They are labeled SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). They attempt to alleviate depression by changing brain-levels of the natural substance serotonin. Luvox has a slightly different chemical configuration from Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft, and it was approved by the FDA for obsessive-compulsive disorder, although many doctors apparently prescribe it for depression.

Prozac is the wildly popular Eli Lilly antidepressant which has been linked to suicidal and homicidal actions. It is now given to young children. Again, its chemical composition is very close to Luvox, the drug that Harris took.

Dr. Peter Breggin, the eminent psychiatrist and author (Toxic Psychiatry, Talking Back to Prozac, Talking Back to Ritalin), told me, “With Luvox there is some evidence of a four-percent rate for mania in adolescents. Mania, for certain individuals, could be a component in grandiose plans to destroy large numbers of other people. Mania can go over the hill to psychosis.”

Dr. Joseph Tarantolo is a psychiatrist in private practice in Washington DC. He is the president of the Washington chapter of the American Society of Psychoanalytic Physicians. Tarantolo states that “all the SSRIs [including Prozac and Luvox] relieve the patient of feeling. He becomes less empathic, as in `I don’t care as much,’ which means `It’s easier for me to harm you.’ If a doctor treats someone who needs a great deal of strength just to think straight, and gives him one of these drugs, that could push him over the edge into violent behavior.”

In Arianna Huffington’s syndicated newspaper column of July 9, 1998, Dr. Breggin states, “I have no doubt that Prozac can cause or contribute to violence and suicide. I’ve seen many cases. In a recent clinical trial, 6 percent of the children became psychotic on Prozac. And manic psychosis can lead to violence.”

A study from the September 1989 Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, by Joseph Lipiniski, Jr., indicates that in five examined cases people on Prozac developed what is called akathesia. Symptoms include intense anxiety, inability to sleep, the “jerking of extremities,” and “bicycling in bed or just turning around and around.” Dr. Breggin comments that akathesia “may also contribute to the drug’s tendency to cause self-destructive or violent tendencies … Akathesia can become the equivalent of biochemical torture and could possibly tip someone over the edge into self-destructive or violent behavior … The June 1990 Health Newsletter, produced by the Public Citizen Research Group, reports, ‘Akathesia, or symptoms of restlessness, constant pacing, and purposeless movements of the feet and legs, may occur in 10-25 percent of patients on Prozac.’”

Other studies:

“Emergence of self-destructive phenomena in children and adolescents during fluoxetine [Prozac] treatment,” published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (1991, vol.30), written by RA King, RA Riddle, et al. It reports self-destructive phenomena in 14% (6/42) of children and adolescents (10-17 years old) who had treatment with fluoxetine (Prozac) for obsessive-compulsive disorder.

July, 1991. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Hisako Koizumi, MD, describes a thirteen-year-old boy who was on Prozac: “full of energy,” “hyperactive,” “clown-like.” All this devolved into sudden violent actions which were “totally unlike him.”

September, 1991. The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Author Laurence Jerome reports the case of a ten-year old who moves with his family to a new location. Becoming depressed, the boy is put on Prozac by a doctor. The boy is then “hyperactive, agitated … irritable.” He makes a “somewhat grandiose assessment of his own abilities.” Then he calls a stranger on the phone and says he is going to kill him. The Prozac is stopped, and the symptoms disappear.

The well-known Goodman and Gilman’s The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics reveals a strange fact. It states that Ritalin [given for ADHD] is “structurally related to amphetamines … Its pharmacological properties are essentially the same as those of the amphetamines.” In other words, the only clear difference is legality. And the effects, in layman’s terms, are obvious. You take speed and, sooner or later, you start crashing. You become agitated, irritable, paranoid, delusional, aggressive.

In his book, Toxic Psychiatry, Dr. Breggin discusses the subject of drug combinations: “Combining antidepressants [e.g., Prozac, Luvox, Paxil] and psychostimulants [e.g., Ritalin] increases the risk of cardiovascular catastrophe, seizures, sedation, euphoria, and psychosis. Withdrawal from the combination can cause a severe reaction that includes confusion, emotional instability, agitation, and aggression.” Children are frequently medicated with this combination, and when we highlight such effects as aggression, psychosis, and emotional instability, it is obvious that the result is pointing toward the very real possibility of violence.

In 1986, The International Journal of the Addictions published a most important literature review by Richard Scarnati. It was titled, “An Outline of Hazardous Side Effects of Ritalin (Methylphenidate)” [v.21(7), pp. 837-841].

Scarnati listed over a hundred adverse affects of Ritalin and indexed published journal articles for each of these symptoms.

For every one of the following (selected and quoted verbatim) Ritalin effects then, there is at least one confirming source in the medical literature:

• Paranoid delusions
• Paranoid psychosis
• Hypomanic and manic symptoms, amphetamine-like psychosis
• Activation of psychotic symptoms
• Toxic psychosis
• Visual hallucinations
• Auditory hallucinations
• Can surpass LSD in producing bizarre experiences
• Effects pathological thought processes
• Extreme withdrawal
• Terrified affect
• Started screaming
• Aggressiveness
• Insomnia
• Since Ritalin is considered an amphetamine-type drug, expect amphatamine-like effects
• psychic dependence
• High-abuse potential DEA Schedule II Drug
• Decreased REM sleep
• When used with antidepressants one may see dangerous reactions including hypertension, seizures and hypothermia
• Convulsions
• Brain damage may be seen with amphetamine abuse.

Other ADHD medications, which also have a chemical profile similar to amphetamines, would be expected to produce some of the same effects listed above.

The ICSPP (International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology) News publishes the following warning in bold letters: “Do Not Try to Abruptly Stop Taking Psychiatric Drugs. When trying to withdraw from many psychiatric drugs, patients can develop serious and even life-threatening emotional and physical reactions…Therefore, withdrawal from psychiatric drugs should be done under clinical supervision…”

—end of excerpts from my 1999 white paper on school shootings and psychiatric drugs—

There is a problem. It is chilling. Pharmaceutical companies, which manufacture drug after drug for “mental disorders,” are doing everything they can to cover up the drugs’ connection to violence.

They use their lawyers and PR people—and their influence over the press—to scrub the connection.

And now, one typical, disturbing, official reaction to every new mass shooting is: build more community mental health facilities. Obama was prominent in this regard, after Sandy Hook in 2012. The implication? More drug prescriptions for more people; thus, more violent consequences.

’ll close with another excerpt from my 1999 report. It is the tragic account of Julie Marie Meade (one account of many you can find at ssristories.org (also here)):

Dr. Joseph Tarantolo has written about Julie Marie Meade. In a column for the ICSPP (International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology) News, “Children and Prozac: First Do No Harm,” Tarantolo describes how Julie Meade, in November of 1996, called 911, “begging the cops to come and shoot her. And if they didn’t do it quickly, she would do it to herself. There was also the threat that she would shoot them as well.”

The police came within a few minutes, “5 of them to be exact, pumping at least 10 bullets into her head and torso,” as she waved a gun around.

Tarantolo remarks that a friend of Julie said Julie “had plans to make the honor roll and go to college. He [the friend] had also observed her taking all those pills.” What pills? Tarantolo called the Baltimore medical examiner, and spoke with Dr. Martin Bullock, who was on a fellowship at that office. Bullock said, “She had been taking Prozac for four years.”

Tarantolo asked Bullock, “Did you know that Prozac has been implicated in impulsive de novo violence and suicidalness?” Bullock said he was not aware of this.  Tarantolo is careful to point out, “Violent and suicidal behavior have been observed both early (a few weeks) and late (many months) in treatment with Prozac.”

The November 23rd, 1996, Washington Post reported the Julie Meade death by police shooting. The paper mentioned nothing about Prozac. Therefore, readers were left in the dark. What could explain this girl’s bizarre and horrendous behavior?

The answer was there in plain sight. But the Post refused to make it known.



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The True Value of Gold

Every gold investor has their own “gold story” — that pivotal moment in their lives that made them realize the true value of gold. For Olivier Garret, founder and CEO of the Hard Assets Alliance, that story goes all the way back to his grandfather… and the German invasion of France.  Today, he tells that story. - Owen Sullivan


by Olivier Garret


I grew up in a little town in Northern France that, from 1939 to 1945, was occupied by the Nazis.

I hadn’t been born yet at the time, but my mother and her family were forced to live for five long years with two German officers as “guests” in their own home.  My childhood was colored by first-hand stories of life in a Nazi-occupied town.

I heard many stories of scarcity, like that of the nuns in my mother’s school serving rodents and rutabaga for dinner — or that of my grandfather setting up a soup kitchen in his small factory to help feed the families of employees.

But there was one story my mother used to tell me that made me realize the true value of gold and sparked a lifelong appreciation for it.

It revolved around my grandfather, a Swiss immigrant who moved to France in the early 1920s.  He was an electrical technician and entrepreneur. And his arrival in France coincided with the electrification of the country, just as France’s most remote towns and villages were being connected to the grid.

Up until that point, farmers had been working the fields and processing their crops entirely by hand or with the help of animals. Basic machines were powered by cranks, ropes and pulleys or treadmills.

My grandfather, seeing the opportunity, invented an electrical motor that could power many different types of equipment.

Farmers around the country quickly adopted his product and by the late 1920s, he ran a small but successful business, selling his electrical motors and a variety of mostly farm-related equipment. (One of his inventions was a device to automate the ringing of church bells.)

Being Swiss, my grandfather always associated financial security with gold. He used all of his excess savings to buy small Swiss gold coins called Vreneli.

Over the next decade, he accumulated hundreds of them.


The War Begins


In 1939, following Hitler’s invasion of Poland, France declared war on Germany. Within weeks, German tanks were rolling through Flanders into Northern France.

My grandfather decided to take his wife and two daughters south to his mother-in-law’s farm in rural Normandy.

As his wife prepared for their departure, he retrieved his stash of gold coins and headed into the basement.

There he cut lead pipes into five-inch sections and melted one end of the tubes to seal them. After filling the pipes with his gold coins, he sealed the other end and within a couple of hours emerged from the basement with twelve short lead tubes filled with gold and a shovel.

He went out into the yard and buried the pipes with his life’s savings in a deep hole next to a big tree. With the gold safely hidden, the family left their home and joined hundreds of thousands of refugees heading away from the advancing German troops.

In August 1944, the German troops retreated and Paris was liberated by the Allied forces. As France started to heal from the wounds of war, life in the quiet town of Senlis slowly returned to normal.

Many years later, my grandfather fell ill and became bedridden. It was then, near the end of his life, that my grandfather called my mother to his bedside and instructed her to get a shovel, go to the tree and dig up the twelve little gold-filled lead tubes.

After decades underground, the coins were still there, and my grandfather split them between my mom and her sister.

A couple of decades later, my parents decided it was time to pass the gold coins on to their children—and so in 1984, the tubes were opened, revealing their precious contents as shiny and new as when they were first buried.

If my grandfather had kept the money in bank notes instead of investing them in gold coins, the value of the 36,000 French francs would be approximately €3.00 today (by the mid-1980s, the old French francs had lost 99.9% of their purchasing power).

On the other hand, the value of the 480 gold Vrenelis he bought would be approximately €105,600 today (each Vreneli coin contains 5.8 grams of gold).

That was the day I learned the true value of gold.






This article is published in accordance with a creative commons license here.

Irony: FBI Leaker McCabe Outraged After DOJ Leakers Finger Him for Criminal Referral

by Benjamin Arie


Call it cosmic payback or reaping what you sow — either way, life has a way of swinging back like a boomerang and hitting people with a strong dose of reality.

That’s what former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe just found out, but he seems oblivious to the irony. The bureau figure who was fired for leaking to the press is now complaining about how unfair it is that there are leaks from the FBI, at the same time as he’s demanding immunity in exchange for his testimony to the Senate committee investigating the bureau’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

McCabe is one of the figures in the middle of several political bias scandals at the FBI, including the discredited “Trump dossier” and apparent spying by the FBI against Donald Trump’s presidential  campaign.

Back in March, the second-in-command at the FBI was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The reason was simple: McCabe repeatedly leaked sensitive information to the media and then lied about it.

A report from the Department of Justice’s inspector general explained that McCabe was funneling details about a Clinton Foundation investigation to The Wall Street Journal, and was then dishonest about where the leak had come from… namely, himself.

“The report states that McCabe authorized another FBI agent to leak information about an ongoing investigation into (the) Clinton Foundation to The Wall Street Journal, not in the interest of the public, but for his own personal gain,” summarized The Federalist.

That official report goes on to explain in detail how McCabe “lacked candor” — bureaucrat-speak for “lied” — about leaks at least three times, including under oath.

Now, showing just how tone-deaf the former bureau official truly is, McCabe is complaining about leaks from the FBI… yes, the same organization where he was fired for leaking like a sieve.

In a letter sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee by McCabe’s attorney on his behalf, the disgraced former FBI deputy director essentially whined to lawmakers and declared that he was “outraged” that leaks about a criminal investigation of his alleged wrongdoings were taking place.

“(A)s the result of a stream of leaks from the Department of Justice, it is now well-known that the (Office of Inspector General) has made a criminal referral to the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia,” the former deputy complained through his attorney.

“As you know, the grounds for such a referral is the very low standard of ‘reasonable grounds to believe there has been a violation of Federal criminal law,'” the letter continued, bizarrely implying that reasonable suspicion of a federal crime was a bad reason to investigate someone.

“Even so […]  these leaks have forced us to acknowledge the criminal referral,” the letter admitted.

The complaining and finger-pointing over the same type of leaking that McCabe was fired for doing didn’t stop there.

“And, unfortunately, the stream of leaks has continued: As recently as last Thursday, additional leaks led to the reporting of specific investigative steps allegedly taken by the United States Attorney’s Office in response to the referral,” the document stated.

“We are outraged by these leaks and last Friday requested an investigation by the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility into the source(s) of the leaks,” McCabe’s attorney explained.

That’s right: Apparently, leaking information to the media and then lying about it is completely fine when it can damage Donald Trump, but McCabe is suddenly “outraged” when similar leaks start actually hurting him.

Maybe he’s just upset that he’s not the only snitch in town.

Incredibly, the former deputy director then demanded immunity from prosecution in order to testify to Congress about matters related to the crimes — leaking and lying — that he’s accused of committing.

“Mr. McCabe is willing to testify, but because of the criminal referral, he must be afforded suitable legal protection,” the letter declared. “Accordingly, we hereby request that the Judiciary Committee authorize a grant of use immunity to Mr. McCabe,” it stated.

If there was still any doubt about why cronies like James Comey and Andrew McCabe needed to go, this should clear it up.

They see themselves as special and above the law, and can’t seem to even comprehend that their own actions — and the culture of leaking that they created — have consequences.


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The Perfect 46: A “Science Factual” Film about our Near Future

by Jessica Cussins

 

Sitting down to watch the science fiction film The Perfect 46, I had the strange sensation of walking through a hall of mirrors. Intriguingly meta-conscious, and perceptibly close to reality, this film highlights the world of direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetics and makes it clear that this technology, now at our real-world doorsteps, could drastically shape our very near future.  [Emphasis - DNI]

The story centers on the aptly named company ThePerfect46, which starts off with a seemingly innocuous mission. Taking advantage of the fact that most Californians have had their genomes sequenced by this undefined point in time, it simply offers to analyze a couple’s genomes alongside each other to determine their ability to have a disease-free child.  

But founder and CEO Jesse Darden isn’t content to stop there. In a move that sparks internal controversy and leads to one staff person abandoning the project, he rolls out version 2.0, which allows the company to search through giant databases and match random people together based solely on their ability to create genetically “ideal” children. The film cuts back and forth between a tense situation unfolding for Darden, flashbacks of his life, and a documentary film made about his rise and fall. 

While The Perfect 46 is a fictional film, it is being promoted by a real-life website purporting to actually sell ThePerfect46 product (kudos for the smart marketing ploy!). 

Darden, played quite well by Whit Hertford, is the star of The Perfect 46. He is a Steve Jobs-esque anti-hero: the disliked techie genius, the man behind the company that aims to improve humanity but ends up causing great harm. Darden comes across as “a tortured genius… a character that can be lauded and loathed in equal measure.” He is romanticized as smart and entrepreneurial, but his considerable personal and inter-personal flaws are never out of view. 

Perhaps by now both Darden and ThePerfect46 sound strangely familiar. If so, it’s probably because the similarities to companies and products that actually exist right now are jarring. This is a kind of science fiction that is only just barely fictional.

In fact, writer and director Brett Ryan Bonowicz calls The Perfect 46 science factual.” He invited a number of researchers to be consultants on the film and strove to show “a respect for science.” The scientific community has applauded his use of “authentic science” and raved about how the film is “a refreshing change of pace” because it doesn’t dissolve into a dystopian nightmare.  Here Bonowicz elaborates on why he pursued this approach,

By making the film as factually accurate as possible, the conversation that the film creates should, I think, spark something that a more futuristic, fantastic treatment perhaps cannot. The topics we cover in the film – genetics, eugenics, the moral and ethical implications of a consumer genetics service, and the role of government vs. a DTC model – are discussions that deserve to be out in the public. This is a film of the moment.

 In fact, you may find reality to be even more bizarre than this particular fiction. Just last year, the infamous DTC genetics company 23andMe received a patent for "gamete donor selection based on genetic calculations." The premise of the technology was that it could allow people to choose a sperm or egg provider based on probabilities of having a child with the kinds of characteristics they desired including “height, eye color, gender, personality characteristics and risk of developing certain types of cancer.” In response to backlash from the media about its “designer baby patent” with drop-down menus of characteristics, 23andMe assured everyone that it no longer had any plans to pursue the full range of possibilities described.

Another company, GenePeeks, has remained undaunted. GenePeeks launched just months ago, founded by molecular biologist Lee Silver, who writes broadly about how positive eugenics is both laudable and inevitable, and Anne Morriss, the mother of a sperm donor-conceived son who inherited the rare recessive disease MCADD.

GenePeeks’ “Matchright” is remarkably similar to the product offered by ThePerfect46For $1995, “GenePeeks digitally combines your DNA and the DNA of potential donor matches to create a preview of thousands of personal genomes that your child could inherit, focusing on a panel of genes involved in childhood health and disease.” Based on this information, you can then preview your personal “catalog” of donors and further weed them out based on your preference for such characteristics as height, eye color, hair color, education level, and ethnicity. 

What GenePeeks hasn’t marketed yet is its ability to test for much more than “health and disease.” But the patent it was awarded in January explicitly lists many non-medical traits: aggression, weight, breast size/shape, drinking behavior, drug abuse, eating behavior, ejaculation function, emotional affect, eye color/shape, hair color, height, learning/memory, mating patterns, sex, skin color/texture, and social intelligence, among others. It is thought to be possible to screen for just some of these traits, but all are covered by the patent.

Furthermore, GenePeeks doesn’t intend to limit its availability to sperm banks. It plans to expand soon and become available for “anyone planning a pregnancy in advance.” Of course, there is at least one fundamental flaw in the methodology of all these schemes: two people can have an infinite number of children with a full range of characteristics. Choosing a “preferred” donor can’t possibly absolve all risk

In fact [spoiler alert], in The Perfect 46, a bug in the company’s algorithm results in the birth of 24 children with a severe genetic disorder. The horrific mistake causes the company to close its doors and forces Darden into solitude, where he continues to develop his work and reflect on what went wrong. What is perhaps most remarkable about the scenario is that no one is ever found to be at fault, even when some of the children die, and at least one suicide results. While Darden is depicted as a broken man, devastated by the fault in a system he designed, he is relatively unmoved by personal stories, including one about a loving couple that divorced after hearing they were “incompatible.” In his mind, “Just because I created something doesn’t mean I’m responsible for how people use it.”

Is this the kind of language that will be used around technologies governing life and death in our market-driven culture? The film probes many such important questions. How quickly does the right to know become the responsibility, or even the requirement, to know? What will people do with this information? And what happens, and who is accountable, when it is wrong? 

(If 23andMe is anything to go by, some information will be wrong.)

Furthermore, can changing the kinds of people who are born really be considered “preventative medicine?” When recommendations about who is “fit” to be born are made by a commercial entity, does the absence of state involvement make the actions less eugenic? Is “perfection” what we ought to strive for? If so, what do we make of the founder – who is anxious, anti-social, awkward, not good-looking, and in the end, in “an irony that was lost on no one,” infertile?

The desire to know and control more, even when the meaning of the knowledge and our ability to control it is imperfect, can be powerful. But while it makes marketing sense for drug and genetic testing companies to pathologize more and more conditions, it probably doesn’t make sense for us. As these technologies become increasingly present in our lives, that point risks getting lost.

GenePeeks has just received $3 million in financing. The concept of adding genetic profiles to dating sites seems to be gaining steam. These trends suggest that this film could well be “more of a glimpse of the future than simply a hypothetical conversation about ethics and genetics.” 

But if The Perfect 46 is “a sort of prequel to Gattaca,” hopefully we will find a way to stop short of that future. 

You can find upcoming screenings of this thought-provoking film here, and check out CGS’s personal genomics news page here. Can you make it through the hall of mirrors, discerning the difference between fiction and reality?



[Note:  The burning question remains:  Can they really decode anyone’s genome?  Answer:  No.

Remember that the “human genome” is defined as the total DNA in both the nucleus and the mitochondria outside the nucleus of a cell.  Aside from the fact that only about 15% of  “THE” Human Genome has still only been decoded (along with problems like individual genomes are unique;  the sample consisted of mixing multiple samples from people around the world;  only the nuclear genes, and only their extrons, were addressed, etc. (see:  http://web.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/project/index.shtml), what about that part of an individual’s genome provided by the person’s mitochondria?  And what about the 85% of the nuclear genes in an individual’s cells that was called “junk DNA” in the “introns” of those nuclear genes until lately?  Are these “kits” even capable of determining the mitochondria and the “junk DNA” in those “introns”?  See, e.g.: 

--  “DNA is actually not well understood. 97% of human DNA is called ³junk² because scientists do not know its function. The workings of a single cell are so complex, no one knows the whole of it. Yet the biotech companies have already planted millions of acres with genetically engineered crops, and they intend to engineer every crop in the world.”

Genetic Engineering and “Junk” DNA, Genetic Engineering, at:  http://www.authorstream.com/Presentation/ramyasekaran-1541143-genetic-engineering/

--  The Astonishing Powers of "Junk" DNA

http://www.khouse.org/enews_article/2012/1982/

--  Most of What you Read was Wrong: How Press Releases Rewrote Scientific History, Center for Genetics and Society, at: 

http://www.geneticsandsociety.org/article.php?id=6390

--  Never-Seen-Before Secret DNA Code And An 'Unusual Meaning'-Scientists Find, at:  http://www.designntrend.com/articles/9627/20131214/never-seen-before-secret-dna-code-unusual-meaning-scientists-find.htm 

-- Junk DNA — Not So Useless After All

“Researchers report on a new revelation about the human genome: it’s full of active, functioning DNA, and it's a lot more complex than we ever thought, at:  http://healthland.time.com/2012/09/06/junk-dna-not-so-useless-after-all/

--  What Junk DNA? It’s an Operating System;  Their report adds to growing experimental support for the idea that all that extra stuff in the human genes, once referred to as “junk DNA,” is more than functionless, space-filling material that happens to make up nearly 98% of the genomehttp://www.genengnews.com/insight-and-intelligenceand153/what-junk-dna-it-s-an-operating-system/77899872/ 

Given that their claims don’t even mention those DNA’s gives an indication that they don’t.  So what does an individual who buys such “kits” really end of knowing about their genome -- and how can any medical or eugenic decisions be based on such “information”?  Indeed, how can any supposed “ideal child” be genetically designed at all?  Is so-called “positive eugenics” a bunch of nonsense?  Perhaps the above, too, is a “discussion that deserves to be out in the public”!  In fact, much of what passes as "genetics research" and the "kits" described below would seem to border on scientific fraud -- and someone should be held legally accountable. The article first appeared here.

Caveat emptor!  --  DNI]



Report: James Comey ‘Defied Authority’ While Serving as FBI Director

by Scott Kelnhofer


Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report about the Justice Department and FBI’s 2016 investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server is expected to be made public in the coming weeks, and one source told ABC News the draft of the report uses the word “insubordinate” to describe former FBI Director James Comey’s behavior.

“The draft of Horowitz’s wide-ranging report specifically called out Comey for ignoring objections from the Justice Department when he disclosed in a letter to Congress just days before the 2016 presidential election that FBI agents had reopened the Clinton probe, according to sources,” ABC reported.

Horowitz’s draft report was also critical of Comey for failing to consult with Attorney General Loretta Lynch and other senior Justice Department officials before making his July 5, 2016 announcement on national TV in which he said said that while there was no “clear evidence” that Clinton “intended to violate” the law, the former secretary of state was “extremely careless” in her “handling of very sensitive, highlyclassified informaion."

Horowitz also criticized former Attorney General Loretta Lynch in the draft report for her handling of the federal investigation into Clinton’s personal email server, the sources told ABC News.

The draft of the report was finished last month. Horowitz said the Justice Department and FBI will be permitted to submit a formal response that will be attached to the final report.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump went on Twitter to complain about the delay in the report’s release.

The report has been widely expected to be critical of Comey. The only question is just how damaging the report would be of the former FBI director.  “It’s not going to be good, it’s just a question of how bad it’s going to be,” a former Justice Department official told CNN last month of what’s expected to be in Horowitz’s report.

CNN law enforcement analyst James Gagliano said sources tell him to expect “a damning indictment” of Comey and the FBI’s upper echelon.

According to a May 16 report in The Washington Post, “The report is expected to blast former FBI director James B. Comey for various steps he took in the investigation, particularly his announcing in July — without telling his Justice Department bosses what he was about to say — that the FBI was recommending that Clinton not be charged, and for revealing to Congress just weeks before the presidential election that the bureau had resumed its work.”

According to The Wall Street Journal, the report is also expected to scrutinize whether former FBI Director Andrew McCabe should have recused himself from the Clinton investigation, since his wife’s campaign for the Virginia legislature was aided by then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Clinton ally.

The report is also likely to criticize the thousands of texts exchanged by two FBI employees — agent Peter Strzok and attorney Lisa Page — who were extremely critical of President Donald Trump and others, the WSJ reported.  The report is currently being reviewed and is expected to be released this month.

What is taking so long with the Inspector General’s Report on Crooked Hillary and Slippery James Comey. Numerous delays. Hope Report is not being changed and made weaker! There are so many horrible things to tell, the public has the right to know. Transparency!Rudy Giuliani, one of the president’s lawyers, told the Associated Press in recent days that he believed the report would be damaging to Comey’s reputation.

“This is going to be the final nail in his coffin,” Giuliani said of Comey. “This guy has already proven to be a leaker and liar and we believe the report is going to make that plain.”

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Chair of Intelligence Committee Very Interested in Investigating Rosenstein's Collusion in Coverup of Obama's Stolen SS Number


by Orly Taitz

Press release: Chair of Intelligence Committee of Congress is very interested in investigating Rod Rosenstein’s collusion in cover up of Obama’s use of a stolen CT Social Security number

On Sunday June 3rd Attorney Orly Taitz, President of Defend Our Freedoms Foundation, got to talk to the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman  Devin Nunes (R-CA).

Taitz advised Nunes about her work and FOIA legal action filed in the US District Court of MD in relation to Obama using a CT Social Security number xxx-xx-4425, which was traced to Harrison J. Bounel. Taitz  found this number when Obama posted his 2009 tax returns on WhiteHouse.gov and originally did not properly redact the number. Taitz advised Nunes that Obama was never a resident of Connecticut and there is no legitimate reason for him to have a CT Social Security number, he should have had a Social Securty number from Hawaii. The first three digits of the number signified the state where the applicant resided, until Obama randomized them in 2011. Obama’s SSN starts with 042, which is assigned  to Connecticut, not Hawaii.

Taitz stated to Nunes that the left claims that Michael Cohen was a fixer for Trump, but it appears that Rod Rosenstein was a fixer for Obama. Rosenstein was the US attorney for Maryland, where the Social Security administration is located and where the Freedom of Information case against them had to be filed. Rosenstein’s name is on the pleadings.   Taitz stated that the first assistant US Attorney on the case failed to have it dismissed, so Rosenstein replaced him with another assistant attorney, and they did not deny that Obama is using a Connecticut  Social Security  number assigned to someone else, a resident of Connecticut, but that the application for those records can no longer be found in the computer database and they have no duty to produce the original paper document. The judge, an Obama appointee, agreed. Interestingly enough, Rosenstein did not demand then to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate why evidence shows that the US President is using a Social Security number from a state where he never resided as well as his other IDs which appear to be fraudulent. Taitz asked Nunes if he, as a Chair of the Intelligence committee, would be willing to investigate what appears to be Rod J. Rosenstein’s collusion in the cover up of Obama’s use of a stolen CT Social Security number. Nunes stated that he will be VERY interested to investigate the matter.

Taitz will provide an update on this matter when it becomes available.  Taitz is asking the members of the public to forward to all members of Intelligence, Judiciary and Government Oversight committees as well as members of the media, particularly Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, all the information listed below. This matter needs to be brought to the committee hearing ASAP. If Rod Rosenstein is complicit in this cover up, he should resign or be removed from the position of Deputy AG.


Orly Taitz is the president of Defend Our Freedoms Foundation, which is dedicated to preservation of the constitutional rights of the US citizens. Any donations to work of Attorney Orly Taitz can be given through Paypal at www.OrlyTaitzESQ.com or by mail to 29839 Santa Margarita Pkwy, ste 100, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688




Birth of ‘living materials’ at MIT combines synthetic biology, materials engineering

by Kenrick Vezina

Illustration by Yan Liang, via MIT News.

A team at MIT has combined techniques from synthetic biology and materials engineering to create hybrid “living materials”: bacteria engineered to take up functional nanoparticles and grow into thin layers with usable properties, like electrical conduction or light emission. This achievement is a perfect follow-up to news from earlier this month that another group at MIT had successfully created bionic plants   [Emphasis Others] (Read our Gene-ius post on the news here.)

Anne Trafton, writing for MIT News, reports: 

These “living materials” combine the advantages of live cells, which respond to their environment, produce complex biological molecules, and span multiple length scales, with the benefits of nonliving materials, which add functions such as conducting electricity or emitting light. 

The organic analog of choice is bone. As Amina Kahn at the Los Angeles Times puts it:

 Our bones are remarkable feats of engineering; strong and yet light, shot through with holes and yet able to bear incredible loads. This super-strong natural material is built as cells incorporate hard minerals like calcium into living tissue

The MIT team, led by assistant professor of electrical engineering and biological engineering Timothy Lu, was inspired by this interplay of living cells with nonliving components.

The process Lu and his team used begins with the bacteria E. coli and genetic engineering. They chose E. coli because it naturally produces thin, slimy films that adhere to surfaces — it’s this adhesion that’s key. In order to adhere to surfaces, E. coli produces “curli fibers”, comprised of repeating protein chains.

The MIT team replaced the bacteria’s ability to produce curli fibers with an engineered genetic circuit that only produces curli fibers if given a certain molecule. Now the team essentially has an on-off switch for the bacteria and can control the formation of biofilms: supply the bacteria with the trigger molecule and they produce curli fibers and form biofilms.

On top of this, the team engineered another set of E. coli with a similar on-off switch but based on a different molecular trigger. And these bacteria were modified one step further: researchers altered the genes coding for the creation of curli fibers so that the protein chains would grab on to gold nanoparticles

So they had two varieties of engineered bacteria, both controllable via distinct molecule of their choosing, and one of the two’s ability to latch onto its environment with curli fibers has been co-opted to make the bacteria gather tiny bits of gold from its environment. 

Take both varieties, grow them together; manage their growth relative to one another with the two on-off molecules; and supply some nanoscale bits of gold. The researchers did just this and managed to coax the bacteria to build a tiny film laced through with gold nanowires: a conductive surface comprised of living cells

And the conductive biofilm is just one of several proofs-of-concept to come out of this project. 

The team was also able to embed quantum dots — semiconductor nanoparticles that glow a particular color after being illuminated by light — in their biofilm through a similar technique.

The final success lies in getting their modified cells to communicate with one another, as emphasized by the Christian Science Monitor. The molecular “on-off switches” described above don’t necessarily need to be supplied manually; in fact the researchers produced a third variety of E. coli which naturally produced the chemical trigger, activating the generation of gold-locking curli fibers in the second variety.

The potential applications for these living materials include batteries and solar cells, diagnostic devices and scaffolds for tissue engineering. According to Trafton, “The researchers are also interested in coating the biofilms with enzymes that catalyze the breakdown of cellulose, which could be useful for converting agricultural waste to biofuels.”

This latest breakthrough is sure to be one of many similar efforts that blurs the perceived boundaries between living and nonliving, artificial and organic. We’re increasingly able, as Lu and his team demonstrate, to manipulate our world at the level of molecules and atoms — whether those are DNA molecules or gold nanowiring.

 
Sources:

Additional Resources:




The article first appeared here.

Report: Dozens of FBI Agents Admit Agency Corrupted Hillary Probe, Considering Legal Action

by Benjamin Arie


Being subpoenaed to appear in front of a judge is something most people want to actively avoid, but a report regarding the Obama-era FBI suggests dozens of agents want to have their day in court to expose government corruption.

During Sean Hannity’s Fox News program Friday, the conservative host said he has learned that more than two dozen FBI agents want to be subpoenaed in order to testify about widespread abuses and political bias that occurred at the bureau during the Hillary Clinton email scandal.

“We have an (Inspector General) report coming out, and I’m told as many as 28 people that have knowledge of the Clinton email server scandal want to be subpoenaed so they can tell the story of corruption at the highest levels of the bureau at that they love,” Hannity said. It appears that Hannity isn’t the only one who sees a major rift between top-level FBI figures, like former Director James Comey, and the hardworking agents who want to see justice served.




Sara Carter, an investigative journalist whose reporting on Comey, the FBI and Clinton scandals has been proven correct with shocking accuracy, agreed with the Fox host.

“There are a lot of FBI agents that want to come out and speak,” Carter told Hannity. “A lot of them are current agents, which makes it very difficult for them, so they need to be subpoenaed. These are the things that Congress needs to act on.”

A growing stack of evidence backs up that claim.

The Daily Caller recently reported that several FBI agents have quietly come forward and admitted that many good people at the bureau are worried about speaking out because of career and legal reprisals from above.

FBI agents concerned about corruption are “hunkering down because they see good people being thrown to the dogs for speaking out and speaking out does nothing to solve the problems,” the Daily Caller quoted one agent who communicated via a former White House official.

Those rank-and-file agents believe the upper levels of the agency think they can get away with anything, while middle-level personnel are left powerless to speak out.

“It’s a question of basic credibility — Congress, the executive, and oversight are not seen to have any gravitas or seriousness,” The Daily Caller quoted its FBI source, who for obvious reasons wanted to stay anonymous. “The inmates have been running the asylum and they don’t respect, much less fear, their overseers. We know we’ll be hung out to dry.”

So-called “whistle-blower protections” are supposed to shield witnesses of abuse, but these are not always as strong as they should be.

“I’ve worked hard to strengthen legal protections, especially for FBI employees,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley said.

You have a right to cooperate with Congressional inquiries, just as you have a right to cooperate with the Inspector General. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying,” Grassley added.

But FBI members are apparently not convinced.

“Even with the enactment of the new (whistle-blower protection) law, what is the deterrent for retaliation against Whistleblowers?” an FBI source told the Daily Caller.

“The FBI executives will just stall, ignore, and run out the clock until the victim runs out of money for legal fees or else retires,” the agent noted.

Being ordered to testify under oath could be a sort of long-shot “Hail Mary” play to shine a light on the truth.  “That is why the new whistleblowers want to be subpoenaed,” the agent said, according to the Caller. “They simply don’t have the resources to fight the inevitable retaliation that will ensue, regardless of the new law.”

There is a clear hesitation for witnesses of “deep state” corruption to come forward — and that’s where Congress may come into play.

By subpoenaing FBI members who have direct knowledge of corruption and political games within the bureau, lawmakers could give the good people who are still with the agency the protection they need to expose the truth.

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Cost Functions Should Not be Used to Make Education Spending Decisions

by Kansas Policy Institute


June 1 - Wichita - A cost study recommending a school funding increase upwards of $2 billion survived a peer review by a scholar the Legislature hired; but, another respected school finance scholar says cost studies should not be used to set funding levels.

Benjamin Scafadi, Ph.D., a professor of economics and director of the Education Economics Center at Kennesaw State University, says, “cost function studies do not provide valid and reliable estimates of the minimum 'cost' of achieving a given outcome.” 

Knowing the Legislature’s WestEd cost study would define the conversation on education spending and impact further judicial proceedings, Kansas Policy Institute partnered to do an independent peer review with Dr. Scafidi.  His findings disprove the notion that spending more money causes student achievement to improve. 

In response to the Kansas Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the Gannon V case, the Kansas Legislature recently contracted with a vendor conducting a $285,000 study to analyze the “cost” of educating public school students in grades K-12. The Legislature asked the vendor, WestEd, to “estimate the minimum spending required to produce a given outcome within a given educational environment.” WestEd used a “cost function” approach to estimate the costs of providing students in each public school in Kansas with an adequate education. 

Dave Trabert, president of the Kansas Policy Institute, commented, “These cost studies may be done with the best of intentions, but they fail to provide results that are useful in guiding policy decisions. In practice they only take a partial look at one variable – spending – and ignore all other variables that impact learning.”

Scafadi said, “The estimates vary widely and do not track with historical data on spending and achievement.” The review outlined the reasons why supposed “cost” functions do not provide valid and reliable estimates of the minimum “cost” of achieving a given outcome.

“One glaring problem we found with the WestEd study is that researchers do not have access to data on all external factors that impact the cost of educating students.” Trabert said.

Scafidi’s study for Kansas Policy Institute included in its exhaustive review a complete recommendation of best practices that should be performed to “check carefully for robustness and reliability of results.”

His data determined it unreasonable to conclude that giving the Kansas public school system, as currently constituted, a large boost to spending would significantly improve student outcomes.

“Given the vast sums of taxpayer funds at stake, the Kansas Governor, Legislature, and the State Supreme Court should implement the five best practices, as laid out in my review, to discover the truth about the relationship between spending and valuable student outcomes.” Scafadi concluded.




Editor's Note: Such mathematical games accomplish little more than feed the lawyers who feast on endless court decisions that force the Kansas Legislature to raise taxes violating both the separation of powers and the people's right to determine fiscal policy.