Category Archives: Science & technology

Germanwings Airbus crash: Co-pilot deliberately crashed plane; captain was locked out of cockpit

UPDATE:

The New York Times reports that today, March 26, 2015, French officials said that Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot of Germanwings flight 9525 deliberately crashed the aircraft. Voice recorder evidence shows that he had locked the captain out of the cockpit, ignored his pleas for re-entry and steered down into the French Alps as passengers were heard screaming.

The top executive of Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings, said he was speechless at the news from France.

Prosecutor Brice Robin said it appeared that Lubitz’s intention was “to destroy the aircraft.” Voice recorder showed that the co-pilot had been breathing until before the moment of impact, suggesting that he was conscious and deliberate in bringing the plane down and killing all 150 abroad.

The assertions instantly changed the nature of the Tuesday crash into a wide-ranging criminal investigation that focused on Lubitz the co-pilot, a 27-year-old German with no obvious reason to commit mass murder, who had been hired less than two years ago. (Read more, here.)

Click to enlarge
Germanwings crash

From the New York Times:

PARIS – As officials struggled Wednesday to explain why a jet with 150 people on board crashed in relatively clear skies, an investigator said evidence from a cockpit voice recorder indicated one pilot left the cockpit before the plane’s descent and was unable to get back in.

A senior military official involved in the investigation described “very smooth, very cool” conversation between the pilots during the early part of the flight from Barcelona to Düsseldorf. Then the audio indicated that one of the pilots left the cockpit and could not re-enter.

“The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door and there is no answer,” the investigator said. “And then he hits the door stronger and no answer. There is never an answer.”

He said, “You can hear he is trying to smash the door down.” […]

“We don’t know yet the reason why one of the guys went out,” said the official, who requested anonymity because the investigation is continuing. “But what is sure is that at the very end of the flight, the other pilot is alone and does not open the door.”

The data from the voice recorder seems only to deepen the mystery surrounding the crash and provides no indication of the condition or activity of the pilot who remained in the cockpit. The descent from 38,000 feet over about 10 minutes was alarming but still gradual enough to indicate that the twin-engine Airbus A320 had not been damaged catastrophically. At no point during the descent was there any communication from the cockpit to air traffic controllers or any other signal of an emergency.

When the plane plowed into craggy mountains northeast of Nice, it was traveling with enough speed that it was all but pulverized, killing the 144 passengers and crew of six and leaving few clues. […]

The flight’s trajectory ahead of the crash also left many unanswered questions.

But minutes later, the plane inexplicably began to descend, Mr. Jouty said. At 10:40 and 47 seconds, the plane reported its last radar position, at an altitude of 6,175 feet. “The radar could follow the plane until the point of impact,” he said.

Mr. Jouty said the plane slammed into a mountainside and disintegrated, scattering debris over a wide area, and making it difficult to analyze what had happened. […]

A senior French official involved in the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the lack of communication from the pilots during the plane’s descent was disturbing, and that the possibility that their silence was deliberate could not be ruled out.

“I don’t like it,” said the French official, who cautioned that his initial analysis was based on the very limited information currently available. “To me, it seems very weird: this very long descent at normal speed without any communications, though the weather was absolutely clear.”

“So far, we don’t have any evidence that points clearly to a technical explanation,” the official said. “So we have to consider the possibility of deliberate human responsibility.” […]

Speaking on the French radio station RTL, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Wednesday morning that terrorism was not a likely “hypothesis at the moment,” but that no theories had been definitively excluded. He said the size of the area over which debris was scattered suggested that the aircraft had not exploded in the air but rather had disintegrated on impact.

H/t my friend Don Hanks, who wrote this comment with which I heartily agree:

If the names of the pilots are ever disclosed, we may have a clue.

~Éowyn

Urban Death Project proposes to use corpses as compost. Is Soylent Green far away?

Soylent Green

Soylent Green is a 1973 science fiction film starring the late Charlton Heston. The film depicts a dystopian 21st-century Earth of pollution, overpopulation, depleted resources, poverty, dying oceans, and constant humidity due to the greenhouse effect from global warming.

In 2022, with 40 million people in New York City alone, housing is dilapidated and overcrowded; homeless people fill the streets; about half are unemployed, the few “lucky” ones with jobs are only barely scraping by, and food is scarce. Most of the population survives on rations produced by the Soylent Corporation, whose newest product is Soylent Green, a green wafer advertised to contain nutritious “high-energy plankton” from the oceans.

It turns out Soylent Green is made not from plankton, but from human remains.

Katrina Spade42 years after Soylent Green the movie, a Seattle architect named Katrina Spade has a proposal, the Urban Death Project, to turn human corpses into compost for plant food.

Simply put, families of the deceased surrender the corpses to the project to rot in a 3-story recycle building.

Urban Death Project

As described on Urban Death Project’s website:

The Urban Death Project is a compost-based renewal system. At the heart of the project is a three-story core, within which bodies and high-carbon materials are placed. Over the span of a few months, with the help of aerobic decomposition and microbial activity, the bodies decompose fully, leaving a rich compost. The Urban Death Project is not simply a system for turning our bodies into soil-building material. It is also a space for the contemplation of our place in the natural world, and a ritual to help us say goodbye to our loved ones by connecting us with the cycles of nature.

This is how Urban Death Project envisions the process to be:

1. The deceased may be stored in a refrigerated space for up to ten days before the ceremony takes place. There is no embalming because decomposition is an important part of the design.

2. Those closest to the deceased meet the body in the shrouding room, where they wrap it in simple linen. Supportive staff are on hand to assist in this process.

3. Mourners enter the facility and walk up to the top of the core where they say goodbye to the deceased at the laying in.

“Laying in” refers to placing the corpse into a mixture of woodchips and sawdust.

Over the next few weeks, the body decomposes and turns into a nutrient-rich compost, which is given to the deceased’s family or spread in national parks.

The project’s founder Katrina Spade says she got the idea from animal composting. She plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign on March 30 to build a prototype system by 2020. She admits the project will face legal problems and envisions “It’ll be state-by-state, a lot of small campaigns. It’s about telling people this is an option that works.”

H/t Daily Mail

Here’s an article for Catholics on the proper treatment of the cremated ashes of loved ones: “Concerns about Cremation: Some Very Strange Practices are Emerging“.

~Éowyn

California company harvests organs of aborted babies to grow in animals for lucrative organ transplants

A simple, yet profound, moral rule is German philosopher Immanuel Kant’s (1724-1804) Categorical Imperative.

A categorical imperative denotes an absolute, unconditional requirement that must be obeyed in all circumstances. According to Kant, human beings occupy a special place in creation, and morality can be summed up in an imperative, or ultimate commandment of reason, from which all duties and obligations derive.

In Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant wrote:

Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end.

In other words, “Treat others as ends, not means for your own goals.”

By that categorical moral yardstick, what biotech company Ganogen Inc. is doing is deeply morally offensive and repugnant, on a par with the medical experiments of Nazi Germany’s Dr. Mengele.

Ganogen

Sarah Zagorski reports for Life News, March 5, 2015, that a Californian biotech company called Ganogen Inc. is bragging about their new research breakthrough — a procedure called Xenotransplantation wherein the organs of aborted human babies are harvested, then transplanted into animals where they can grow and then be made available (i.e., sold) to patients needing organ transplants.

Eugene Gu

Eugene Gu

Ganaogen’s co-founder and CEO Eugene Gu said, “Our long-term goal is to grow human organs in animals, to end the human donor shortage” because, as Ganogen’s website asks, “Would you accept an organ from a pig, cow, baboon or a chimpanzee to save your child’s life, or your own?”

Note: Gu received his B.S. in Biology with Honors from Stanford University in 2008 and is currently a 4th year medical student at Duke University School of Medicine.

The xenotransplantation procedure is described by a CBS news report:

The researchers transplanted the fetal kidneys into adult rats that lacked an immune system (so as to avoid tissue rejection), and connected the animals’ blood vessels to the organs using a challenging procedure that involved tiny stitches, about three to four times smaller than the width of a human hair.

One of the main reasons that previous attempts to transplant fetal organs into animals have failed is due to a difference in the blood pressure between human fetuses and adult animals. In most adult animals, including rats, the average blood pressure is about three times higher than it is in human fetuses. If a fetal organ is transplanted without adjusting the pressure, “the organ basically hemorrhages everywhere,” Gu said.

To get around that problem, Gu’s team developed a device, called an arterial flow regulator, which they fitted around the rats’ blood vessels to decrease the pressure of the blood flowing into the fetal kidneys.

About a month after the researchers transplanted the fetal kidneys into the rats, the scientists surgically removed the animals’ own kidneys. The rats that received the transplanted kidneys survived an average of four months after transplant, and one even survived for 10 months, Gu said. By comparison, a control group of rats that did not receive a transplanted kidney lived for only three to four days after having their kidneys removed, the researchers said.

Not only is what Ganogen doing disrespectful to human life, treating the aborted babies as means toward their own profit-seeking ends, the procedure is also Animal Cruelty in the name of science.

Natural News warns that if the process proves to be successful on a larger scale, “it forebodes a future in which aborted human babies become a commercial commodity for companies to capitalize on artificial organ development.”

But Gu insists he doesn’t encourage abortions, but if the organs “are available, it is better to use them to save somebody’s life rather than throw them into the trash bin.” However, in a new video about the procedure, Ganogen Inc. promotes their findings and glosses over the fact that the organs come from aborted babies. 

Bioethicist Arthur Caplan from Langone Medical Center in New York is also troubled by Ganogen’s xenotransplantation. He said, “American society is morally uncomfortable enough about abortion that growing organs from fetal remains will never be accepted, and will be banned in state after state.”

Jim Sedlak, spokesman for the American Life League, called the transplant program “totally immoral” and “another outlandish use of aborted babies to produce results that humans think are good. We are totally opposed to any use of aborted cells from human beings to grow organs or for any other purpose. Someone died in order for these organs to be grown.”

I would emend Sedlak last sentence. It should be “Someone was killed in order for these organs to be grown.”

We cringe when we read about the Chinese making “medicinal” pills and soups from aborted babies. But how is what Ganogen doing any better?

See also:

~Éowyn

Creation: The planet between Mars & Jupiter

Those of us who are adults grew up being told in school that our solar system consists of the Sun, Earth and 8 other planets — Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.

Then, in 2006, news came that the International Astronomical Union decided that Pluto is no longer a planet, but is reclassified as a mere “dwarf planet,” which means students in schools today are taught that our solar system consists of the Sun, Earth and 7 other planets.

Planets2013

Now we are told that there is a planet between Mars and Jupiter! — a planet named Ceres, about which most of us had never heard of or known, although it was discovered some 214 years ago, in 1801, by an Italian Catholic priest named Giuseppe Piazzi.

Ceres appears to have an icy mantle — a mixture of water ice and various hydrated minerals such as carbonates and clay — and a rocky core that may harbor an internal ocean of liquid water.

CeresA picture of Ceres taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft on Feb. 12, 2015, from a distance of 49,710 miles (80,000 km.).

Amanda Barnett reports for CNN, Feb. 20, 2015:

Way out beyond Mars, but before you get to Jupiter, is a planet.

You read that right. There’s a planet between Mars and Jupiter.

You may not have heard of it, but it was discovered in 1801 — 129 years before Pluto. It originally was called a planet, then later an asteroid and now it’s called a dwarf planet.

Its name is Ceres (pronounced like series) and you’ll likely be hearing a lot more about it in the coming weeks.

Ceres is one of five named dwarf planets recognized by NASA and the International Astronomical Union (IAU). The other four are Eris, Pluto, Makemake and Haumea.

But Ceres is the first of these worlds to get a visitor from Earth: NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is arriving on March 6.

Ceres is a ‘planet’ that you’ve probably never heard of,” said Robert Mase, Dawn project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Ceres may be considered a dwarf planet, but it’s “the giant of the main asteroid belt,” Dr. Marc Rayman, chief engineer and mission director of the Dawn mission, told CNN. “It is not only the largest object between Mars and Jupiter, it is the largest object between the sun and Pluto that a spacecraft has not yet visited.”

“We are tremendously excited,” Rayman said. “We have guided this robotic probe for well over seven years on an interplanetary journey of more than 3 billion miles. Along the way we sailed past Mars. We spent 14 months orbiting and scrutinizing the giant protoplanet Vesta. … Now, finally, we are on the verge of conducting the first exploration ever of the first dwarf planet.”

New images from Dawn, taken when the probe was about 52,000 miles (83,000 kilometers) from Ceres, show craters and what NASA calls mysterious bright spots. Rayman said its surface is pretty beaten up and that the craters that are “scars from life in the rough and tumble asteroid belt.”

Why study a beaten-up space rock? Rayman said because it’s a survivor — and a mysterious one. Made up of rock and ice, Ceres may even have liquid water deep beneath its surface — “perhaps as ponds or lakes or even oceans,” Rayman said.

He said Ceres “appears to have been in the process of growing to become a full-sized planet when Jupiter terminated its growth nearly 4.6 billion years ago.”

So by studying Ceres, scientists learn more about how the rest of the solar system formed. And he said, we should study Ceres because it’s there — and we need to understand the universe we live in. “We should study it because we hunger for knowledge and understanding. Grand undertakings like this nurture our spirit,” Rayman said.

Rayman said that if you had learned about the solar system 200 years ago, “you would have learned that Ceres was a planet, just as people who learned about the solar system in more recent generations learned that Pluto is.”

Speaking of Pluto, the most famous of the dwarf planets gets its own visitor in July. The New Horizons spacecraft is closing in for a flyby of Pluto and its moons.

This talk of planets and dwarf planets is still a little confusing, so here’s the most recent tally: NASA currently recognizes eight planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, and the five named dwarf planets we listed earlier.

But a sixth possible dwarf planet already is on NASA’s watch list.

Called 2012 VP113, it’s believed to be one of the most distant objects in our solar system. On its Solar System Exploration website, NASA says the object was nicknamed “Biden” after Vice President Joseph Biden because of the VP in its initial designation. It will be up to the IAU to decide whether i2012 VP113 is a dwarf planet and whether it gets an official name.

But expect the numbers for planets in our solar system to keep changing. Mike Brown, the CalTech astronomy professor who helped discover dwarf planet Eris and who takes responsibility for killing off Pluto as a full-fledged planet, has his own tally listing more than 360 possible dwarf planets. And NASA has said there may be many more dwarf planets that we haven’t found yet.

So Ceres, and its cousins, may soon outnumber the traditional planets you learned about in grade school.

~Éowyn

Antibiotics-resistant superbug kills 2, infects 180 in Los Angeles

It’s here.

The antibiotic-resistant superbug dubbed “nightmare bacteria” is now a fact of life in the United States.

nightmare bacteria

A year ago, PBS’s Frontline reported that the largest U.S. outbreak on record of a strain of “nightmare bacteria” that infected 44 people at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in suburban Chicago “is fueling alarm among public health officials about the spread of potentially lethal drug-resistant infections.” At the time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said just 96 cases of the infection had been reported to the agency since 2009.

The bacteria strain, known as carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE), is a form of superbug that lives in the gut and can carry a gene called NDM-1 that is resistant to practically all antibiotics on the market todayPerhaps more alarming, the gene can jump from bacteria to bacteria, making treatable infections untreatable.

Since the Chicago infection, the superbug has leapt across the continent to the west coast.

Chad Terhune reports for the Los Angeles Times, Feb. 18, 2015, that nearly 180 patients at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center may have been exposed to the CRE “nightmare bacteria” from contaminated medical scopes, and two deaths have already been linked to the outbreak. UCLA declined to provide details on the two people who died, citing patient confidentiality. The number of CRE-infected patients may grow as more patients get tested.

UCLA said it discovered the outbreak late last month while running tests on a patient. This week, it began to notify 179 other patients who were treated from October to January and offer them medical tests. By some estimates, if the infection spreads to a person’s bloodstream, the bacteria can kill 40% to 50% of patients.

duodenoscope

At issue is a specialized endoscope inserted down the throats of about 500,000 patients annually to treat cancers, gallstones and other ailments of the digestive system, in a procedure called ERCP or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. These duodenoscopes are considered minimally invasive, and doctors credit them for saving lives through early detection and treatment.

But medical experts say some scopes can be difficult to disinfect through conventional cleaning because of their design, so bacteria are transmitted from patient to patient. The duodenoscopes typically involved in the CRE outbreaks have an “elevator channel” that doctors use to bend the device in tight spaces and allow for attachments such as catheters or guide wires. Experts suspect bacteria build up in that small area.

But Dr. Alex Kallen, an epidemiologist in CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, said he hasn’t found any breaches in cleaning protocol at hospital outbreaks he has investigated. He believes the problem probably is more complicated than just a design issue: “There isn’t an obviously easy solution to employ. There is action on a lot of different fronts.”

The duodenoscopes are not the same type used in more routine endoscopies and colonoscopies.

UCLA said it immediately notified public health authorities after discovering the CRE bacteria in one patient and tracing the problem to two of the duodenoscopes. Dale Tate, a university spokeswoman, said UCLA had been cleaning the scopes “according to standards stipulated by the manufacturer.” After the infections were discovered, “the two scopes involved with the infection were immediately removed and UCLA is now utilizing a decontamination process that goes above and beyond the manufacturer and national standards.”

The UCLA outbreak is the latest in a string of similar incidents across the country that has top health officials scrambling for a solution. State and federal officials are looking into the situation at UCLA as they wrestle with how to respond to the problem industrywide.

Since 2012, there have been about a half-dozen outbreaks affecting up to 150 patients in Illinois, Pennsylvania and most recently at a well-known Seattle medical center, according to experts. These outbreaks are raising questions about whether hospitals, medical-device companies and regulators are doing enough to protect patient safety. Some consumer advocates are also calling for greater disclosure to patients of the increased risks for infection before undergoing these procedures.

Lawrence Muscarella, a hospital-safety consultant and expert on endoscopes in Montgomeryville, Pa., said the recent number of cases is unprecedented: “These outbreaks at UCLA and other hospitals could collectively be the most significant instance of disease transmission ever linked to a contaminated reusable medical instrument.”

CDC officials said they were assisting the L.A. County Department of Public Health in its investigation of the UCLA infections. Dr. Alex Kallen said the outbreaks are serious given the high mortality rate of this superbug and how difficult it can be to treat. He warns that additional cases might be going undetected.

Last month, Virginia Mason Medical Center (VMMC) in Seattle acknowledged that 32 patients were sickened by contaminated endoscopes from 2012 to 2014 with a bacterial strain similar to CRE. Eleven of those patients died. But VMMC said other factors may have contributed to their deaths because many of the patients were already critically ill. VMMC instituted a new quarantine process that sets the endoscopes aside for 48 hours so evidence of any bacterial growth can be found before reusing them. That has increased the time for equipment cleaning from a couple of hours to more than two days. VMMC said it had to purchase 20 additional endoscopes to compensate for that down time.

“There is either a design issue to be addressed or a change to the guidelines for the cleaning process,” said Dr. Andrew Ross, section chief of gastroenterology at VMMC. “It’s the role of the federal government to make some of those decisions.” Some patient-safety advocates say FDA regulators and industry officials have been too slow to respond.

A spokeswoman for the FDA said the agency was working to reduce the incidence of infections while maintaining access to a crucial medical tool by “actively engaged with the manufacturers of duodenoscopes used in the U.S. and with other government agencies such as the CDC to develop solutions to minimize patient risk associated with these issues.… The FDA believes the continued availability of these devices is in the best interest of the public health.”

Olympus Medical Systems Group, a major manufacturer of these endoscopes and UCLA’s supplier, said it was working with the FDA, physician groups and hospitals regarding these safety concerns and that all of its customers who purchase Olympus duodenoscopes “receive instruction and documentation to pay careful attention to cleaning.”

UCLA said it is notifying 179 patients and their primary-care doctors by phone and letter. UCLA offered to send patients a free home testing kit for a rectal swab, or they could come in to be tested.

Even before this incident, UCLA has struggled at times with patient safety. An influential healthcare quality organization gave the Ronald Reagan Medical Center a failing grade on patient safety in 2012. The hospital’s score improved to a C in the latest ratings from Leapfrog Group, a Washington nonprofit backed by large employers and leading medical experts.

Meanwhile, some doctors worry the outbreaks might deter patients from seeking care they need. “ERCP is a common and critical procedure in most hospitals today,” said Dr. Bret Petersen, a professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic’s division of gastroenterology and hepatology in Rochester, Minn. “It’s not a procedure we can allow to be constrained, so this is a serious issue we need to address.”

For Californians, see “How safe is your hospital? A look at California ratings“:

  • Kaiser Permanente hospitals consistently post some of the highest safety scores in California
  • UCLA Ronald Reagan hospital gets a C letter grade for safety; L.A. County-USC gets a D

See also:

~Éowyn

Italian Courts Rule Vaccines Cause Autism

From http://www.HealthImpactNews.com:

Recent Italian Court Decisions on Vaccines and Autism

by Mary Holland J.D.
Age of Autism

On September 23, 2014, an Italian court in Milan award compensation to a boy for vaccine-induced autism. (See the Italian document here.) A childhood vaccine against six childhood diseases caused the boy’s permanent autism and brain damage.

While the Italian press has devoted considerable attention to this decision and its public health implications, the U.S. press has been silent.

Italy’s National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

Like the U.S., Italy has a national vaccine injury compensation program to give some financial support to those people who are injured by compulsory and recommended vaccinations. The Italian infant plaintiff received three doses of GlaxoSmithKline’s Infanrix Hexa, a hexavalent vaccine administered in the first year of life. These doses occurred from March to October 2006. The vaccine is to protect children from polio, diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B, pertussis and Haemophilus influenza type B. In addition to these antigens, however, the vaccine then contained thimerosal, the mercury-containing preservative, aluminum, an adjuvant, as well as other toxic ingredients. The child regressed into autism shortly after receiving the three doses.

When the parents presented their claim for compensation first to the Ministry of Health, as they were required to do, the Ministry rejected it. Therefore, the family sued the Ministry in a court of general jurisdiction, an option which does not exist in the same form in the U.S.

Court Decision: Mercury and Aluminum in Vaccine Caused Autism

Based on expert medical testimony, the court concluded that the child more likely than not suffered autism and brain damage because of the neurotoxic mercury, aluminum and his particular susceptibility from a genetic mutation. The Court also noted that Infanrix Hexa contained thimerosal, now banned in Italy because of its neurotoxicity, “in concentrations greatly exceeding the maximum recommended levels for infants weighing only a few kilograms.”

Presiding Judge Nicola Di Leo considered another piece of damning evidence: a 1271-page confidential GlaxoSmithKline report (now available on the Internet). This industry document provided ample evidence of adverse events from the vaccine, including five known cases of autism resulting from the vaccine’s administration during its clinical trials (see table at page 626, excerpt below).

Italian Government, Not Vaccine Maker, Pays for Vaccine Damages

As in many other developed countries, government, not industry, compensates families in the event of vaccine injury. Thus GSK’s apparent lack of concern for the vaccine’s adverse effects is notable and perhaps not surprising.

In the final assessment, the report states that:

“[t]he benefit/risk profile of Infanrix hexa continues to be favourable,” despite GSK’s acknowledgement that the vaccine causes side effects including “anaemia haemolytic autoimmune,thrombocytopenia, thrombocytopenic purpura, autoimmune thrombocytopenia, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, haemolytic anemia, cyanosis, injection site nodule, abcess and injection site abscess, Kawasaki’s disease, important neurological events (including encephalitis and encephalopathy), Henoch-Schonlein purpura, petechiae, purpura, haematochezia, allergic reactions (including anaphylactic and anaphylactoid reactions),” and death (see page 9).

The Milan decision is sober, informed and well-reasoned. The Ministry of Health has stated that it has appealed the Court’s decision, but that appeal will likely take several years, and its outcome is uncertain.

Rimini: 2012 – Italian Court Rules MMR Vaccine Caused Autism

Two years earlier, on May 23, 2012, Judge Lucio Ardigo of an Italian court in Rimini presided over a similar judgment, finding that a different vaccine, the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine (MMR), had caused a child’s autism. As in the Milan case, the Ministry of Health’s compensation program had denied compensation to the family, yet after a presentation of medical evidence, a court granted compensation. There, too, the Italian press covered the story; the U.S. press did not.

In that case, a 15-month old boy received his MMR vaccine on March 26, 2004. He then immediately developed bowel and eating problems and received an autism diagnosis with cognitive delay within a year. The court found that the boy had “been damaged by irreversible complications due to vaccination (with trivalent MMR).” The decision flew in the face of the conventional mainstream medical wisdom that an MMR-autism link has been “debunked.”

Italian Court Decisions Break New Ground in Debate Over Vaccines and Autism

Both these Italian court decisions break new ground in the roiling debate over vaccines and autism. These courts, like all courts, are intended to function as impartial, unbiased decision makers.

The courts’ decisions are striking because they not only find a vaccine-autism causal link, but they also overrule the decisions of Italy’s Ministry of Health. And taken together, the court decisions found that both the MMR and a hexavalent thimerosal- and aluminum-containing vaccine can trigger autism.

Italian Court Rulings Contradict Special U.S. Vaccine Court

These court decisions flatly contradict the decisions from the so-called U.S. vaccine court, the Court of Federal Claim’s Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. There, from 2007 to 2010, in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding, three decision makers, called Special Masters, found that vaccines did not cause autism in any of the six test cases, and one Special Master even went so far as to compare the theory of vaccine-induced autism to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

The Italian court decisions contrast starkly with these U.S. cases based on similar claims.

Read the full story at Age of Autism.

About the Author

Mary Holland is Research Scholar and Director of the Graduate Legal Skills Program at NYU Law School. She has published articles on vaccine law and policy, and is the co-editor of Vaccine Epidemic: How Corporate Greed, Biased Science and Coercive Government Threaten Our Human Rights, Our Health and Our Children (Skyhorse Publishing, 2012).

Your Smart TV listens, records & transmits your conversations

If you have cable TV or webcam, you are already being watched.

Now add to that list your Smart TV listening, recording and trasmitting what you say.

Big Brother is watching

The latest television sets, Smart TV, have microphones for voice commands, so that viewers can change channel, turn on a DVD or browse the Internet by speaking at the screen or remote.

Think about it for a minute.

If your Smart TV can hear your voice command to change a channel, that means your TV can also hear EVERYTHING else you or other people are saying.

It gets worse, your Smart TV is also recording your conversations.

The technology works by converting words into text commands. If your voice request is simple, such as changing a channel, your Smart TV can deal with it on site. But for more complex requests, such as a request to find the details of a movie on Google, your request is transmitted online to a separate company.

THINK ABOUT IT FOR A MINUTE.

That means not only can your Smart TV hear everything you or others say, it also RECORDS and TRANSMITS your “more complex” conversations to a third party.

That’s why the small print of Samsung Smart TV’s privacy policy includes a warning that general conversations, not just your voice commands to the TV, are being recorded, and if you are concerned about that, you should avoid discussing “personal” or “sensitive” matters in your home: 

“Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.”

The prescient English novelist/journalist George Orwell (1903-1950) warned about the all-seeing Big Brother surveillance state in his 1949 novel, Nighteen Eighty-Four. We are living in Orwell’s dystopia.

Dan Hyde and Victoria Ward report for The Telegraph that the discovery of Samsung’s warning emerged on internet forums on Feb. 8, 2015, and quickly went viral.

Here’s a tweet comparing Samsung’s privacy policy with Orwell’s 1984:

Samsung Smart TV & Orwell's 1984

See also:

H/t FOTM’s maziel

~Éowyn