December
14
 

Psychologists criticised in CIA torture report

Two psychologists contracted by the CIA to create enhanced interrogation techniques for al-Qaeda detainees have come under fire for violating human rights and medical ethics. Although pseudonyms were used in the 480-page report published this week by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, it was clearly referring to Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell, who were paid US$81 million for their work.

Both Jessen and Mitchell had worked on  the military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) program in which soldiers are trained to endure brutal mock interrogations, including waterboarding. After 9/11 they were asked to design an interrogation program.

Despite the opprobrium heaped on them, the two men cannot respond directly to the criticisms in the report because they have signed non-disclosure agreements. “I’m in a box -- I’m caught in some Kafka novel,” Mitchell, who is now retired and living in Florida, told Bloomberg.… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
December
14
 

Islamic State rumoured to fund war with organ trafficking

Allegations have been made that the Islamic State is trafficking organs to finance its military campaigns.

A doctor in the Iraqi city of Mosul, Siruwan Al-Mosuli, reportedly told the publication Al-Monitor that a large-scale organ-harvesting racket was being run out of local hospitals, and that IS was reaping significant profits from the scheme.

Al-Mosuli said that Iraqi and foreign doctors were being hired to work in local hospitals and perform rapid organ removal operations from recently deceased jihadis or captives. The organs are swiftly transported from the hospital to potential local or foreign buyers.

The Islamic State has a specialized group which focuses solely on organ trafficking, Al-Mosuli said.

It is often the case in bitter conflicts that one side will accuse the other of organ trafficking, sometimes with little or no evidence. There are however, a number of other sources that support the allegations made… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
December
14
 

No love, no marriage, just the baby carriage

You’ve heard of hook-up sites like match.com for people who just want sex, but not marriage and kids. But you may not have heard of sites like Modamily.com, PollenTree.com and Familybydesign.com for people who just want kids, but not marriage and sex.

According to The Atlantic, co-parenting is a new trend in the evolution of the family. Women who have given up on romance and the ideal guy but still want a child search for sperm donors who are willing to be involved in the child’s upbringing.

“We are seeing a growing trend of a female, same-sex-couple parenting with the man who provides the genetic material but does not relinquish his rights as a sperm donor,” Diana Adams, a New York lawyer told The Atlantic. A number of cases of sperm donors who have forced their way acrimoniously into a relationship have made headlines. But… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
December
14
 

When transgender men have children

Transgender studies is a field which comes up with many surprises. An article in this month’s issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology says that since most transgender men desire to have children, more attention should be paid to those who actually bear their own.

A few years ago, such cases of “pregnant men” were rare enough for Thomas Beatie to appear on Oprah Winfrey (who said that he/she was "a new definition of what diversity means for everybody"). Now, it seems, it is going mainstream. Beatie went on to have three children, even though he and his wife have filed for divorce. 

Researchers found that in a small sample of 41 transgender men who became pregnant, the mean age was 28 and 80% had used their own eggs. A significant number suffered from post-natal depression. Half of the transgender men who had not transitioned with… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
December
13
 

Ontario doctors preparing for battle over conscience rights

A draft policy of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario demands that physicians must provide services to prevent imminent “harm, suffering and/or deterioration,” even if doing so is contrary to their moral beliefs. Critics of the new policy fear that they will be forced to violate their conscience.

The draft policy says:

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter”) protects the right to freedom of conscience and religion. Although physicians have this freedom under the Charter, the Supreme Court of Canada has determined that no rights are absolute. The right to freedom of conscience and religion can be limited, as necessary, to protect public safety, order, health, morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others. Where physicians choose to limit the health services they provide for moral or religious reasons, this may impede access to care resulting in a violation of… click here to read whole article and make comments



 
December
13
 

A transhumanist in conversation

Zoltan Istvan is an American writer, futurist and philosopher. He is also perhaps the best-known proponent of transhumanism movement. He spoke with BioEdge earlier this week. 

Q. The latest news in transhumanist circles, I gather, is that you will be running for President of the United States in 2016. What do you have to offer that the other candidates don’t?

A: Transhumanists are often seen as a strange group of people, and despite some of my radical ideas, I manage to remain very normal in daily life. I'm married, have two sweet kids, am an entrepreneur, and have worked for notable companies before, such as National Geographic. I think I can share the positive possibilities of transhumanism with the general public quite well. I think that's my greatest asset as a candidate--being a normal guy with futurist ideas. 

Q. If elected, what are some key… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
December
06
 

UK may offer free weight-loss surgery to fight epidemic

The UK government should offer free weight loss surgery to thousands more people in order to tackle an epidemic of type 2 diabetes, according to expert advice.

A quarter of Britons are obese, fuelling a rise in cases of type 2 diabetes, as well as heart disease, fatty liver disease and cancer. Last year, 6,500 weight loss procedures were performed. Another 5,000 weight loss surgeries will be carried out each year if the government accepts the advice of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Dr Rachel Batterham, Head of Obesity and Bariatric Services at University College London Hospital Trust, says “The health benefits of weight loss surgery are so great that it should be considered as part of the treatment for obese diabetics. The earlier you have the surgery in your diabetes course, then the more likely you are to have remission or a… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
December
06
 

Remembering the dark story of Peru’s population control campaign

The Quipu Project is an interactive documentary about women and men who were sterilised in Peru in the mid-1990s by population controllers, often without informed consent. Using VOIP telephone lines and a web interface, researchers are gathering testimony from women in isolated communities high in the Andes. Many are illiterate and speak only Quechua, the principal indigenous language.

In the video above Francisca Quispe Pontenciano recalls the circumstances which led to her sterilisation. It makes painful listening.

This horrific story is hardly known outside of Peru. “I was working for Amnesty International in Peru in the 1990s and nobody knew this was going on,” Matthew Brown, of the University of Bristol, in the UK, told Prospect. “Awareness has been growing in the last three years, partly because of our project and partly because of the efforts of victims groups. These women were sterilised at 20 and now they are… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
December
06
 

Should severely disabled infants be euthanased?

Two of the leading voices in bioethics have a fascinating head-to-head confrontation on the euthanasia of severely disabled infants in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. Udo Schuklenk, of  Queen's University, in Canada, the  co-editor of the journal Bioethics, and Gilbert Meilaender, of Valparaiso University, in Indiana, discuss the ethics of, in Schuklenk’s words, “what would amount to postnatal abortion”.

The arguments of both men are familiar, but succinct and quotable.

Arguing from a quality-of-life standpoint, Schuklenk writes that “Once we have concluded that death is what is in the best interest of the infant, it is unreasonable not to bring about this death as painlessly and as much controlled in terms of timing by the parents as is feasible.”

After dismissing arguments drawn from human dignity, sanctity-of-life, and the principle of double effect, Schuklenk still has to explain… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
December
06
 

Thai parliament votes to ban the surrogacy trade

Thailand’s interim parliament has voted in support of a bill to ban commercial surrogacy in the country.

National Legislative Assembly member Chet Siratharanon said the parliament approved the draft bill after a preliminary reading on Thursday. A finalised version of the bill is expected within the next 30 days.

The decision comes in the wake of a number of international scandals involving Thai surrogate mothers paid to carry the babies of foreigners.

In August, a Thai mother who carried twin babies for an Australian couple accused them of abandoning a baby boy with Down's syndrome while taking his healthy sister.

Following this scandal, a separate police investigation began into a Japanese man who authorities believe fathered at least 15 babies with different surrogate mothers.

Commercial surrogacy was… click here to read whole article and make comments




 

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 from the editor: Pointed Remarks
US report on CIA torture
14 Dec 2014
Lessons from Peru
6 Dec 2014
Looking for long-lost uncles
30 Nov 2014

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Psychologists criticised in CIA torture report
14 Dec 2014
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14 Dec 2014
No love, no marriage, just the baby carriage
14 Dec 2014
When transgender men have children
14 Dec 2014
Ontario doctors preparing for battle over conscience rights
13 Dec 2014