Thursday, December 02, 2004

Notion of Multi-Culturalism Has Fallen Apart

Notion Of Multiculturalism Has 'Fallen Apart'
By Ray Furlong
BBC News, Berlin
12-1-4

Decades of consensus about a multicultural society have been thrown into question recently as leading German politicians suggest that minorities living in the country need to do more to fit in.

"The notion of multiculturalism has fallen apart," said opposition conservative leader Angela Merkel in a recent interview.

"Anyone coming here must respect our constitution and tolerate our Western and Christian roots."

It was just one of a chorus of voices, from left and right, among politicians and the media.

The debate centres largely around the three million-strong Muslim community - mostly Turkish, with Bosnians making up the next largest group, followed by people of Arab origin.

It was sparked by the killing of Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh, and subsequent attacks in the Netherlands on Muslim and Christian sites.

Fears that something similar could happen in Germany were fanned by a TV broadcast in which a secret recording caught an imam telling worshippers that Germans would "burn in hell" because they were unbelievers.

This has been followed by a raft of new proposals for better integration of the Muslim community, against a backdrop of fears that Muslims in Germany inhabit a "parallel society" centred around mosques infiltrated by "hate preachers".

"A democracy cannot tolerate lawless zones or parallel societies," declared Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. "Immigrants must respect our laws and acknowledge our democratic ways of doing things." Another politician suggested it should be compulsory for imams to preach in German, and sections of the media have judged that the debate marks the end of multiculturalism.

"It's a quite frank debate on what we Germans expect of those people coming to us as immigrants," says Nikolaus Blome, commentator with Die Welt newspaper.

"If multiculturalism means that it's OK for 30,000 Turks to live in a certain quarter of Berlin, and never leave, and live like they're still in deepest Turkey, then the term is now discredited."

Mood shift

The debate shows a marked swing in the atmosphere in Germany.

Four years ago, a conservative politician was attacked from all sides for suggesting the country has a Leitkultur or "leading culture".

As this previously unacceptable term resurfaced, former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt caused further furore by suggesting that the decision to invite "guest workers" to Germany in the 1960s had been a mistake.

Poor command of the German language among Muslims has been singled out for particular criticism.

When tens of thousands of Muslims took part in a protest against terrorism in Cologne recently, the German politicians who addressed the crowd gave them a blunt message: "Learn German."

A new immigration law which takes force from 1 January contains compulsory language and civic lessons for new arrivals, but critics point out there is nothing for people from ethnic minorities who are already here.

No help

Erol Ozkaraca lives in the Berlin district of Reinickendorf, where the population is a mix of Germans, Turks and people from the former Soviet Union.

Switching off the Turkish TV channel broadcasting into his living room, and taking a contemplative drag on his cigarette, he declares: "Germany has never been a multicultural society. The concept of multi-culturalism was never given a chance here."

Mr Ozkaraca, a lawyer by profession, was born in Hamburg. His father came to Germany as a student in 1949, long before the "guest workers".

"These politicians say: They don't speak German, they don't want to be part of German society, and they have their own structures. But I ask: Where are the courses where we can learn German? Where is the help to integrate us, to show - you are welcome and we want you here?"

© BBC MMIV

Despite Campaigns, AIDS Rate Remains the Same

CDC: HIV rate same as decade ago
Goal was to reduce 40,000 new cases by half by 2005
Thursday, December 2, 2004 Posted: 10:43 AM EST (1543 GMT)

ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- Despite the government's promise to "break the back" of the AIDS epidemic by 2005, about 40,000 Americans test positive for the HIV infection every year -- the same number as a decade ago.

The figure is double the annual goal of 20,000 new HIV cases laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nearly four years ago. Nearly a million people in the United States now have the AIDS virus.

"We have a ways to go before we reach the mark of reducing new infections by half in the United States," said Dr. Ronald Valdiserri, who heads the CDC's HIV and AIDS prevention program.

Still, Valdiserri described the HIV infection rate as "relatively stable." CDC released the new data Wednesday as part of the federal health agency's commemoration of World AIDS Day.

"Clearly we want to continue, and are continuing, to fund programs to reach out to people who are high-risk and are not infected," he added.

In 2001, the CDC's campaign focused on outwardly healthy people who did not realize they had HIV -- about a fourth of those infected. Officials then said targeting them was key, because if they knew they were infected, they would be more likely to take steps not to spread the virus.

Such an effort "could possibly break the back of the epidemic in the United States," the CDC's Dr. Robert Janssen said then.

But the agency found that just targeting people who didn't know they had the AIDS virus was not enough. So last year, the CDC shifted gears, focusing on counseling those who knew they had HIV in an attempt to get them not to spread the virus.

Some advocacy groups say that effort fails to focus on drug users, or very sexually active young men.

"It just doesn't seem like much is really happening," said Terje Anderson, executive director of the Washington-based National Association of People Living With AIDS. "There just is a lack of imagination or spark in terms of the kinds of programs they support. I think they are politically afraid."

One AIDS expert said it's difficult for health officials to measure exactly how many new HIV infections there are each year.

"Forty thousand is an estimate that is averaged over time. The changes can't be tracked easily from year to year," said Dr. James Curran, dean of Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health and the CDC's former AIDS chief during the epidemic's peak in the 1980s.

Valdiserri said the CDC is working on how to accurately determine how many people are infected with HIV each year but the system is still under development. Despite that, more attention needs to be paid to AIDS, Curran said.

"What has concerned many of us in the United States is the lack of attention to the domestic AIDS problem and complacency on behalf of high-risk groups," Curran said, adding that more counseling, testing and education is needed in the country to prevent HIV.

The CDC believes up to 950,000 people in the United States are infected with HIV and up to 280,000 of them don't know it, Valdiserri said.

The rate of HIV diagnoses in the United States increased slightly -- by 1 percent -- between 2000 and 2003, from 19.5 people per 100,000 population to 19.7 per 100,000 in the 32 states surveyed by the CDC.

Advocacy groups blame a lack of federal money for part of the failure to make a dent in the HIV rate.

"The reality is, to cut the number of infections, we need to do more -- you can't always do more with less. We desperately need more resources," Anderson said.

When the AIDS epidemic began to unfold in the 1980s, U.S. HIV infections grew quickly. Although infections peaked after 1984, they have remained level since the early 1990s. Drug therapies have enabled many infected with HIV to live relatively normal lives, but more than 18,000 Americans died of AIDS in 2003, according to the latest data available.

Pot Increases Risk of Psychosis

Marijuana may increase risk of psychosis
Drug makes some users more vulnerable to mental problems
Reuters
Updated: 2:29 p.m. ET Dec. 1, 2004

Teenagers and young adults who frequently use cannabis are increasing their risk of suffering from psychotic symptoms such as bizarre behavior and delusions later in life, Dutch scientists said on Wednesday.

Young people with a family history, or pre-existing susceptibility to mental instability, are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of the drug.

“Cannabis does not act in the same fashion on psychosis risk for everybody. There is a group that is particularly susceptible,” Professor Jim van Os, of Maastricht University in the Netherlands, told a news conference.

He and his colleagues studied 2,437 young people aged 14-24 and identified those with a predisposition for psychosis. They also questioned them about their cannabis use and followed them up for four years.

“The results show that in the group without vulnerability to psychosis, there was a small effect of cannabis on the onset of psychotic symptoms four years later,” Van Os said.

“But this risk was four times bigger in individuals who had a personal vulnerability to psychosis.”

Van Os said the study also showed the odds of experiencing symptoms of psychosis were higher for people who smoked cannabis more frequently.

The findings, which are reported online by the British Medical Journal, are consistent with the results of other studies.

Doctors do not understand how cannabis increases the risk of mental illness but they suspect it affects the dopamine system in the brain which is associated with pleasure.

40 Per Cent of Americans Use Prescription Drugs

40 Percent in U.S. Use Prescription Drugs
Dec 2, 11:03 AM (ET)
By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID

WASHINGTON (AP) - More than 40 percent of Americans take at least one
prescription drug and one-in-six takes at least three, the government
reported Thursday.

"Americans are taking medicines that lower cholesterol and reduce the
threat of heart disease, that help lift people out of debilitating
depressions, and that keep diabetes in check," Health and Human Services
Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said in a statement.

The annual report on Americans' health found that just over 44 percent of
all Americans take at least one prescription drug, and 16.5 percent take
at least three.

Those rates were up from 39 percent and 12 percent between 1988 and 1994,
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

The report, "Health, United States 2004," presents the latest data
collected by CDC's National Center for Health Statistics and dozens of
other Federal health agencies, academic and professional health
associations, and international health organizations.

Americans' life expectancy increased to 77.3 years in 2002, a record. And
deaths from heart disease, cancer and stroke - the nation's three leading
killers - are all down 1 percent to 3 percent, the analysis said.

The study also found that spending on health climbed 9.3 percent in 2002
to $1.6 trillion.

Prescription drugs, which make up about one-tenth of the total medical
bill, were the fastest growing expenditure. The price of drugs rose 5
percent, but wider use of medicines pushed total expenditures up 15.3
percent in 2002. Drug expenditures have risen at least 15 percent every
year since 1998.

The report said prescription drug use was increasing among people of all
ages, and use increases with age.

Nearly half of all women were taking prescription drugs - 49 percent -
compared to 39 percent of men.

Usage peaked at 84 percent for people aged 65 and over, with the top rate
at 89 percent for black women over 65.

Even for people under age 18, however, nearly one-fourth - 24.1 percent -
were taking at least one prescription medication. The rate rose to 34.7
percent between age 18 and 44; for those ages 45 to 64, it was 62.1
percent.

More Americans Putting Off Marriage

‘I do, I do’ — but not yet
More Americans putting off marriage
The Associated Press
Updated: 6:50 p.m. ET Dec. 1, 2004

WASHINGTON - It used to be common for men and women to get a marriage certificate not too long after collecting their high school diplomas. Not anymore.

Census Bureau figures for 2003 show that a third of men and nearly a quarter of women ages 30 to 34 have never been married, nearly four times the rates in 1970.

It’s further evidence that young people are focusing on education and careers before settling down and beginning families, experts say. Societal taboos about couples’ living together before marriage also have eased, said Linda Waite, a sociologist at the University of Chicago.

Jeni Landers, 30, a law student from Boston, said she considered living together a requirement before saying “I do.”

“I don’t know how people got married before living together first,” said Landers, who moved in with her fiancé after getting engaged nearly a year ago. “This is crucial to see how you get along.”

‘They see it sort of as dessert’
Data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey released this week show that the age at which someone typically married for the first time rose from 20.8 for women and 23.2 for men in 1970 to 25.3 and 27.1, respectively, last year.

In 1970, only 6 percent of women 30 to 34 had never been married; the figure was 23 percent in 2003. The rate for never-married men in the same age group rose from 9 percent to 33 percent.

Among younger women, 36 percent of those 20 to 24 had never been married in 1970; last year it was 75 percent. Among men in that age group, the change was nearly as dramatic: 55 percent in 1970 to 86 percent last year.

“The majority of people still want to get married, but they see it sort of as dessert now, something that’s desirable rather than necessary,” said Dorion Solot, executive director of the Alternatives to Marriage Project, based in Albany, N.Y., which aims to fight discrimination based on marital status and to seek equality and fairness for unmarried people.

“People want to be more sure that they don’t make a marriage mistake,” Solot said.

Meanwhile, societal pressures to marry before having children have decreased, said Thomas Coleman, executive director for Unmarried America, based in Glendale, Calif., which also promotes equality for unmarried people. Among the group’s concerns are tax policies that it contends are stacked against single people.

Unmarried births also rising
In 2003, nearly 35 percent of all births were to unmarried women, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. That’s up from 11 percent in 1970, although the rate of increase has slowed since 1995, when 32 percent of births were out-of-wedlock. Births to unmarried teens have declined since the mid-1990s.

Meaghan Lamarre, 24, a research assistant in Providence, R.I., said she and her boyfriend of 10 months “are not in a big hurry to marry.” Lamarre’s focus is on work and getting into an Ivy League graduate program, possibly in public policy.

“There’s no time frame of when to get married. ... It’s not a goal,” said Lamarre, a member of the Alternatives to Marriage Project. “I’m not opposed to it, but I think I could live happily ever after without being married.”

That kind of talk disturbs David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values, a pro-marriage organization based in New York. Blankenhorn said Lamarre’s philosophy was more of a concern to him than those who delayed marriage to focus on school or careers.

Compared with 1970, Blankenhorn said, “there is a sense that marriage has a less dominant role in our society and is less influential as a social institution.”

Having parents or other relatives who are divorced may also make some people in their 20s and 30s hesitant about entering into long-term relationships, said Dennis Lowe, a psychology professor at Pepperdine University in California who focuses on counseling for engaged and married couples.

Data from the National Center for Health Statistics show that the U.S. divorce rate was 2.2 per 1,000 Americans in 1960; it rose steadily to 5.3 per 1,000 in 1981, but it has declined slowly since then, to 4 per 1,000 in 2001.

Census figures also show fewer Americans at older ages who have never been married. In 1970, 8 percent of people 65 and older had never married; now it’s 4 percent.

Landers, the Boston law student, said living with her fiancé was a “testing period” as both dealt with school and their careers. “We already knew what we had was concrete, but the actual act of getting engaged holds a lot of weight with a lot of other people,” she said.

Now there’s pressure to set a wedding date, although Landers said there was no immediate plan to do so.

“It drives people crazy,” she said.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Mother Carrying the First 'Designer Baby'

Mother carrying 'designer baby'

A woman who was given permission to have embryo screening treatment in a bid to save her son is carrying the UK's first "designer baby".

Julie Fletcher and husband Joe, from Moira, County Down, won the go-ahead earlier this year to begin treatment.

Their two-year-old son Joshua has a potentially fatal blood disorder.

Diamond Blackfan anaemia (DBA) can be treated by using stem cells from a sibling to stimulate his body to produce healthy red blood cells.

Dr Mohammed Taranissi, the director of the Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre in London, who has treated the Fletchers, said it was "very early days".

He said: "She tested positively for the pregnancy, but it has only been a few days, so we still have a long way to go."

The couple were given the go-ahead in September to begin controversial embryo screening treatment which could save the life of their son.

It followed a decision in July by the UK's fertility watchdog to relax the rules on the creation of so-called "designer babies" to help sick siblings.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority said embryos could be selected which were free of disease and which could provide blood cell transplants to treat sick brothers and sisters.

Dr Taranissi said: "At the time of birth, we can actually take the cord blood, which is something which is dispensed with anyway.

"This blood has got stem cells, which are very primitive cells, that can be transfused into the affected child.

"This, hopefully, will give him a very good chance of a complete cure."

Dr Taranissi said the chances of success were about 85%.

He said that the term "designer baby" was misleading as no embryos were being designed.

"The embryos develop at random in the laboratory. What we do is test them for certain potential characteristics and then use them to help people who are seriously ill," he said.

Published: 2004/11/29 09:29:48 GMT
© BBC MMIV

Netherlands Hospital Euthanizes Babies

Netherlands Hospital Euthanizes Babies
Tue Nov 30, 6:42 PM ET Europe - AP
By TOBY STERLING, Associated Press Writer

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - A hospital in the Netherlands — the first nation
to permit euthanasia — recently proposed guidelines for mercy killings of
terminally ill newborns, and then made a startling revelation: It has
already begun carrying out such procedures, which include administering a
lethal dose of sedatives.

The announcement by the Groningen Academic Hospital came amid a growing
discussion in Holland on whether to legalize euthanasia on people
incapable of deciding for themselves whether they want to end their lives
— a prospect viewed with horror by euthanasia opponents and as a natural
evolution by advocates.

In August, the main Dutch doctors' association KNMG urged the Health
Ministry to create an independent board to review euthanasia cases for
terminally ill people "with no free will," including children, the
severely mentally retarded and people left in an irreversible coma after
an accident.

The Health Ministry is preparing its response, which could come as soon as
December, a spokesman said.

Three years ago, the Dutch parliament made it legal for doctors to inject
a sedative and a lethal dose of muscle relaxant at the request of adult
patients suffering great pain with no hope of relief.

The Groningen Protocol, as the hospital's guidelines have come to be
known, would create a legal framework for permitting doctors to actively
end the life of newborns deemed to be in similar pain from incurable
disease or extreme deformities.

The guideline says euthanasia is acceptable when the child's medical team
and independent doctors agree the pain cannot be eased and there is no
prospect for improvement, and when parents think it's best.

Examples include extremely premature births, where children suffer brain
damage from bleeding and convulsions; and diseases where a child could
only survive on life support for the rest of its life, such as severe
cases of spina bifida and epidermosis bullosa, a rare blistering illness.

The hospital revealed last month it carried out four such mercy killings
in 2003, and reported all cases to government prosecutors. There have been
no legal proceedings against the hospital or the doctors.

Roman Catholic organizations and the Vatican (news - web sites) have
reacted with outrage to the announcement, and U.S. euthanasia opponents
contend the proposal shows the Dutch have lost their moral compass.

"The slippery slope in the Netherlands has descended already into a
vertical cliff," said Wesley J. Smith, a prominent California-based
critic, in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

Child euthanasia remains illegal everywhere. Experts say doctors outside
Holland do not report cases for fear of prosecution.

"As things are, people are doing this secretly and that's wrong," said
Eduard Verhagen, head of Groningen's children's clinic. "In the
Netherlands we want to expose everything, to let everything be subjected
to vetting."

According to the Justice Ministry, four cases of child euthanasia were
reported to prosecutors in 2003. Two were reported in 2002, seven in 2001
and five in 2000. All the cases in 2003 were reported by Groningen, but
some of the cases in other years were from other hospitals.

Groningen estimated the protocol would be applicable in about 10 cases per
year in the Netherlands, a country of 16 million people.

Since the introduction of the Dutch law, Belgium has also legalized
euthanasia, while in France, legislation to allow doctor-assisted suicide
is currently under debate. In the United States, the state of Oregon is
alone in allowing physician-assisted suicide, but this is under constant
legal challenge.

However, experts acknowledge that doctors euthanize routinely in the
United States and elsewhere, but that the practice is hidden.

"Measures that might marginally extend a child's life by minutes or hours
or days or weeks are stopped. This happens routinely, namely, every day,"
said Lance Stell, professor of medical ethics at Davidson College in
Davidson, N.C., and staff ethicist at Carolinas Medical Center in
Charlotte, N.C. "Everybody knows that it happens, but there's a lot of
hypocrisy. Instead, people talk about things they're not going to do."

More than half of all deaths occur under medical supervision, so it's
really about management and method of death, Stell said.

Social Issues Divide Canadians and Americans

Social issues divide Canadians, Americans: poll
CTV.ca News Staff
Updated: Wed. Dec. 1 2004 1:26 PM ET

Canadians and Americans have distinct views of how Canada differs from the U.S., a new poll has found.

Eighty-one per cent of Canadians view their country as distinct from the U.S., but only 50 per cent of Americans hold the same view, said the Ipsos-Reid poll conducted for CTV and The Globe and Mail.

"What it says is Canadians fundamentally believe there is a difference between the two countries," John Wright, Ipsos-Reid's senior vice-president, told CTV News.

"And underneath all that, it's absolutely true. Whether its on religion, education, same-sex marriage or marijuana -- name a range of issues, including missile defence -- there's a fundamental difference between how we see the world around us and they see the world around them," he said.

Two examples in this poll are religion and the death penalty.

The poll asked 1,000 Americans and 1,000 Canadians how they felt about this statement: "My religious faith is very important to me in my day-to-day life."

Eighty-two per cent of Americans agreed with that statement, with a majority indicating they strongly agreed with it.

In comparison, only 64 per cent of Canadians said they agreed.

When it comes to support of the death penalty, 71 per cent of Americans endorse its use but only 42 per cent of Canadians.

"I think Canadians see themselves as more circumspect, more worldly, more tolerant than the society next door," Wright said. "It doesn't make us any better, but it certainly makes us quite different."

Cross-border opinions converge somewhat on the issue of security.

Almost an equal number of Canadian and American respondents say they disagree with the following: "A terrorist attack will likely be launched from Canada in the future into the United States."

Asked if "Canada is doing its share to ensure its border is secure and protected from terrorists entering the United States," 73 per cent of Canadian respondents agreed but only 58 per cent of U.S. ones did.

"What seems to come out of this poll is a lot of myths that are busted," Wright said.

"Most Americans believe we are doing our share, that we are doing something to help the war on terrorism."

In the wake of U.S. President George W. Bush's re-election on Nov. 2, there was some publicity given to Americans who want to emigrate to Canada.

The poll found about 10 per cent of U.S. respondents have considered moving to Canada and about eight per cent of Canadian respondents have considering moving to the U.S.

Surveying for the poll was conducted between Nov. 19 and 22. The poll is considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

HIV, AIDS Cases Rise Among U.S. Gay, Bisexual Men

HIV, AIDS Cases Rise Among U.S. Gay, Bisexual Men
Dec 1, 1:47 PM (ET)
By Paul Simao

ATLANTA (Reuters) - A rise in new cases of AIDS and HIV infection among
gay and bisexual men in many U.S. states, reported in a federal study on
Wednesday, has given support for concerns the disease is resurgent in the
country.

The report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released in
connection with World AIDS Day, said new HIV and AIDS diagnoses in 32 U.S.
states rose 11 percent among gay and bisexual men between 2000 and 2003.

Rates were stable among most other population sectors, and the overall
infection rate rose to 19.7 cases per 100,000 people in 2003 from 19.5 per
100,000 people in 2000.

AIDS, which destroys the immune system and leaves victims vulnerable to an
array of opportunistic infections and cancers, has killed about half a
million Americans and 22 million people worldwide since 1981.

Gay and bisexual men are believed to account for a majority of the
estimated 850,000 to 950,000 Americans living with HIV, the virus that
causes the disease.

In the United States public health experts have been warning of a possible
resurgence of the epidemic, which eased in the early 1990s following the
development of antiretroviral drugs targeting the disease.

Since the late 1990s, when U.S. deaths from AIDS stabilized at 16,000 per
year and new HIV infections stabilized at 40,000 per year, the disease has
shown signs of a comeback, particularly among gay and bisexual men.

Between 2000 and 2003, a total of 125,800 people were diagnosed with HIV
or AIDS in the 32 states, according to the new report.

Forty-four percent of these cases occurred among gay and bisexual men.
"Men who have sex with men continue to constitute a substantial proportion
of HIV/AIDS cases," said the CDC.

It said blacks, who represent about 13 percent of the U.S. population,
made up 51.3 percent of all HIV and AIDS cases diagnosed in the same
period.

New York, California and other states that had not used confidential,
name-based reporting of HIV and AIDS cases for at least four years were
excluded from the study.

A number of health departments across the nation also have reported a
worrying surge in syphilis and some other sexually transmitted diseases
among gay and bisexual men. Sexually transmitted diseases are known to
increase the likelihood of contracting HIV.

To combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic in America, the U.S. government decided
last year to emphasize programs that focus on testing and counseling
people who are already infected.

Some AIDS activists, however, fear the new approach will lead to reduced
funding for many programs that emphasize condom use and other safe-sex
practices for uninfected people.

The CDC, which hopes to cut the number of new annual HIV infections in
half within five years, also has recommended routine HIV testing be
expanded to include pregnant women, intravenous-drug users and anyone who
engages in unsafe sex.

Woman's Corpse Stolen in Animal Rights Protest

December 01, 2004
Village demands exclusion zone to keep animal rights protesters at bay
By Nicola Woolcock and Ingrid Mansell

AN ENTIRE community has applied for an unprecedented injunction against
animal rights extremists after a vicious campaign of intimidation that has
included the theft of an elderly woman’s corpse.

The move comes days after an arson attack on another company listed on an
animal rights group’s website. The premises of International Product
Supplies, in Wellingham, Norfolk, were firebombed on Friday night.

Activists have relentlessly targeted Newchurch guinea-pig farm in Yoxall,
East Staffordshire, which is run by Chris Hall and his family. In the most
recent attack, the remains of Mr Hall’s mother-in-law, Gladys Hammond, 82,
were stolen from her grave.

The family is following the lead of Oxford University and Huntingdon Life
Sciences by applying for a protest-free exclusion zone around their
property. Their case will be heard tomorrow at the High Court. But for the
first time, the community has rallied behind a company seeking a court
order of this kind by adding an application for its own injunction to
protect the parishes surrounding the farm.

Peter Clamp, who runs a haulage business, is bringing the injunction on
behalf of the villagers of Yoxall, Newchurch and Newborough, where he
lives. If successful, the joint exclusion zone will be one of the largest
granted, covering seven parishes and an area of nearly 30 square
kilometres. Mr Clamp, who is also a parish councillor, said that members
of the community were the victims of terrorism and had been left terrified
by protesters. “This country needs someone to stand up against these
minority protesters and I’m part of the injunction as a resident of the
community,” he said.

“The residents need a spokesperson. Enough is enough. The police have
given me support and said there could be ramifications, but I’m prepared
for that. I’m not a soft touch and won’t be intimidated by anyone, and I’m
not going to tolerate this sort of behaviour.

“I’m sick and tired of people being threatened. Over the past five years,
residents have had explosions in fields and paint thrown over roads.
Normal people going about their everyday business are frightened and
intimidated.”

No one has been prosecuted for the desecration of Mrs Hammond’s grave,
although two men were arrested and released without charge.

Mr Clamp, 50, who has lived in Newborough for 20 years, described himself
as an acquaintance of the Hall family.

He said: “After the disruption of the grave I took the decision to do
something about it. When the desecration happened, I’d never seen so much
support from people for the victims of what they saw as an outrageous act.
This can’t go on any longer. We need a large exclusion zone because some
residents live in very remote areas. I’ve had a lot of support from
everyone — all who have contacted me have given me 100 per cent support.”

Tim Lawson-Cruttendon, the solicitor-advocate who represented Oxford
University and Huntingdon Life Sciences, has taken on the Hall family’s
case.

The main defendant named on the High Court papers is the action group Stop
Newchurch Guinea Pigs. But Mr Lawson-Cruttendon said that the application
would also be brought against Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (Shac), Speak
(which lobbied against a new research laboratory in Oxford) and the Animal
Liberation Front, on the ground that they were also allegedly involved in
demonstrations in Newchurch.

He said: “Unusually, the claimants include a representative member of the
community and that person is seeking a representative order which will
protect the entire community. The exclusion zone we are seeking is about
28.5 square kilometres and broadly covers three parishes. If we obtain
this order we will have built on what we gained for Oxford — that is,
protection for an entire community against the excesses of animal rights
enthusiasm.” Mr Lawson-Cruttendon is bringing the case under the
Protection from Harassment Act 1997, which was originally drafted to
shield women from stalkers.

Huntingdon Life Sciences was the first company to use the legislation to
obtain an injunction against animal rights protesters. Shac names
International Product Supplies on the “Blood on their hands” section of
its website, saying that the company “supplies Newchurch Guinea Pig Farm
who supply HLS. Contact IPS and voice your disgust at their involvement
with HLS."

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

New York Children Used as Drug Guinea Pigs

New York's Guinea Pig Kids
By Jamie Doran Reporter/Producer
Guinea Pig Kids BBC News
11-30-4

HIV positive children and their loved ones have few rights if they choose to battle with social work authorities in New York City.
Jacklyn Hoerger's job was to treat children with HIV at a New York children's home.
But nobody had told her that the drugs she was administering were experimental and highly toxic.
"We were told that if they were vomiting, if they lost their ability to walk, if they were having diarrhoea, if they were dying, then all of this was because of their HIV infection."
In fact it was the drugs that were making the children ill and the children had been enrolled on the secret trials without their relatives' or guardians' knowledge.
As Jacklyn would later discover, those who tried to take the children off the drugs risked losing them into care.
The BBC asked the Alliance for Human Research Protection about their view on the drug trials.
Spokesperson Vera Sherav said: "They tested these highly experimental drugs. Why didn't they provide the children with the current best treatment? That's the question we have.
"Why did they expose them to risk and pain, when they were helpless?
"Would they have done those experiments with their own children? I doubt it."
Power and authority
When I first heard the story of the "guinea pig kids", I instinctively refused to believe that it could be happening in any civilised country, particularly the United States, where the propensity for legal action normally ensures a high level of protection.
But that, as I was to discover, was central to the choice of location and subjects, because to be free in New York City, you need money.
Over 23,000 of the city's children are either in foster care or independent homes run mostly by religious organisations on behalf of the local authorities and almost 99% are black or hispanic.
Some of these kids come from "crack" mothers and have been infected with the HIV virus. For over a decade, this became the target group for experimentation involving cocktails of toxic drugs.
Central to this story is the city's child welfare department, the Administration for Children's Services (ACS).
The ACS, as it is known, was granted far-reaching powers in the 1990s by then-Republican Mayor Rudi Giuliani, after a particularly horrific child killing.
Within the shortest of periods, literally thousands of children were being rounded up and placed in foster care.
"They're essentially out of control," said family lawyer David Lansner. "I've had many ACS case workers tell me: 'We're ACS, we can do whatever we want' and they usually get away with it."
Having taken children into care, the ACS was now, effectively, their parent and could do just about anything it wished with them.
'Serious side-effects'
One of the homes to which HIV positive children were taken was the Incarnation Children's Center, a large, expensively refurbished red-bricked building set back from the sidewalk in a busy Harlem street.
It is owned by the Catholic church and when we attempted to talk to officials at Incarnation we were referred to an equally expensive Manhattan public relations company, which then refused to comment on activities within the home.
Hardly surprising, when we already knew that highly controversial and secretive drug experiments had been conducted on orphans and foster children as young as three months old.
We asked Dr David Rasnick, visiting scholar at the University of Berkeley, for his opinion on some of the experiments.
He said: "We're talking about serious, serious side-effects. These children are going to be absolutely miserable. They're going to have cramps, diarrhoea and their joints are going to swell up. They're going to roll around the ground and you can't touch them."
He went on to describe some of the drugs - supplied by major drug manufacturers including Glaxo SmithKline - as "lethal".
When approached by the BBC, Glaxo SmithKline said such trials must have stringent standards and be conducted strictly in accordance with local regulations.
Battle of wills
At Incarnation, if a child refused to take the medicines offered, he or she was force-fed through a peg-tube inserted into the stomach.
Critics of the trials say children should have been volunteered to test drugs by their parents.
When Jacklyn Hoerger later fostered two children from the home where she used to work with a view to adopting them, she discovered just how powerful the ACS was.
"It was a Saturday morning and they had come a few times unannounced," she said. "So when I opened the door I invited them in and they said that this wasn't a happy visit. At that point they told me that they were taking the children away. I was in shock."
Jacklyn, a trained paediatric nurse, had taken the fatal step of taking the children off the drugs, which had resulted in an immediate boost to their health and happiness.
As a result she was branded a child abuser in court. She has not been allowed to see the children since.
In the film Guinea Pig Kids, we follow Jacklyn's story and that of other parents or guardians who fear for the lives of their loved ones.
We talk to a child who spent years on drugs programmes which made them and their friends ill, and we discover that Incarnation is not an isolated case. The experiments continue to be carried out on the poor children of New York City.
- Guinea Pig Kids will be broadcast on Tuesday, 30 November, 2004, at 1930 GMT on BBC Two (UK).
© BBC MMIV

EPA Looking at Using Tests on People

AP: EPA Looking at Using Tests on People
Nov 29, 9:10 PM (ET)
By JOHN HEILPRIN

WASHINGTON (AP) - In setting limits on chemicals in food and water, the Environmental Protection Agency may rely on industry tests that expose people to poisons and raise ethical questions.
The new policy, which the EPA is still developing, would allow Bush administration political appointees to referee any ethical disputes. Agency officials are putting the finishing touches on a plan to take a case-by-case approach.
"It says we're going to look at each study on its individual terms and accept studies unless they are fundamentally unethical or have significant deficiencies," said Bill Jordan, a senior policy adviser in EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs. "We're setting the stage for making decisions about these studies. No guarantees that we will accept the data, and no guarantees that we will reject the data, either."
He added: "The system is for each program office to look at a study, and if there's any reason for concern, to bring it to the highest levels in our agency. If we need to, we'll go to outside peer reviewers, bioethicists."
Pesticide makers say human tests give more accurate results about the risks of the products to people and the environment, and that they follow safety guidelines set by Congress, EPA, courts and scientific groups.
A Nov. 3 draft of the plan, obtained by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, or PEER, says that anyone affected "should not assume that EPA will follow a prescribed method of reviewing a particular human study in each and every instance."
"This is a case-by-case process. As such, it binds no one to a particular result," says the draft obtained by the whistleblowers' advocacy group.
The draft has undergone several rewrites since then but there have not been any substantial changes, Jordan said. A final notice will probably be published in January and a new rule on human testing data issued by 2006, he said.
Critics say that with the draft plan, the EPA is shirking its duties to set rules now.
"By this sleazy move, EPA defers developing enforceable ethical standards," said Jeff Ruch, PEER's executive director.
The new policy would probably first be applied to pesticides such as aldicarb, carbofuran, DDVP and malathion, Jordan said.
Experiments using human subjects submitted by pesticide and other chemical makers have been a growing source of controversy at the agency. Jordan said the agency has not relied on any industry data in setting limits on pesticides or other chemicals since the late 1990s.
However, "all the studies do wind up in EPA's hands," whether they are relied on in the decision-making or not, he said. EPA also conducts its own scientific research involving people.
In February, the National Academy of Sciences recommended that EPA establish a human studies review panel to look at all such studies, both at the start and at the end.
Instead of creating a review panel, EPA plans to expand the duties of the director of EPA's National Center for Environmental Assessment and provide the center with more resources. "We think it's consistent with the spirit of the NAS report," Jordan said.
In June 2003, EPA was told that until it issues new rules, it cannot refuse to consider industry tests involving people on a case-by-base basis. The order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia was the result of a lawsuit by the pesticide industry.
Just a month before the court ruling, EPA announced it would begin the process of establishing new rules - but then didn't follow through.
EPA briefly stopped accepting industry data from experiments on humans near the end of the Clinton administration. After President Bush took office, EPA documents showed that agency officials had resumed considering data from industry tests on humans.
Jordan said that policy change never took off.
"Folks said that was a bad idea and we fairly backed off that," he said. "We have not issued any risk assessments or made any regulatory decisions to approve pesticides where we have used human studies."
Citing ethical concerns, EPA earlier this month also temporarily suspended a planned government study into how children's bodies absorb pesticides and other chemicals.
EPA scientists and environmentalists said the two-year study, with $2 million in backing from a chemical makers' trade group, might encourage poor families to use more pesticides. Families that participated were to get $970 each plus a camcorder and children's clothes.

Traumatic Reactions to Abortion Common for Women

Study Shows Traumatic Reactions to Abortion More Common for Women
by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
November 29, 2004

Springfield, IL (LifeNews.com) -- A new study shows that women have traumatic reactions to an abortion more frequently than previously thought, according to an article published in the Medical Science Monitor. They also experience significantly more negative reactions to an abortion than positive ones.
The study focused on research of abortions obtained by hundreds of American and Russian women who had abortions. Women were asked to complete an extensive questionnaire about their experiences.
The results showed that 65 percent of women who had abortions experienced multiple post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.
According to the study, some 14 percent of women having abortions experienced all the symptoms necessary to be clinically diagnosed as having PTSD.
Priscilla Coleman, a researcher at Bowling Green State University, David Reardon, Ph.D., of the Elliot Institute, and clinical psychologist Dr. Vincent Rue were three of the co-authors of the study.
"This is the first published study to compare reactions to abortion among women in two different countries," Dr. Rue explained. "It is also the first to provide a detailed breakdown of traumatic symptoms which the subjects themselves attribute to their abortions."
American women were more likely to report traumatic reactions they attributed to their Abortions while Russian women were more likely to be confused about the direction of their lives as a result.
Both sets of women were more likely to experience a negative reaction from their abortion if they had feelings against abortion prior to the procedure, if they were pressured to have an abortion, had deeply-felt religious views, or received little or no counseling prior to the abortion.
Rue, who heads the Institute for Pregnancy Loss said the results "will help mental health workers to be better prepared to recognize and treat the psychological complications of abortion."
As abortion is used frequently as a method of birth control, it comes as no surprise to some that 64 percent of American women felt pressured by others to choose abortion compared to 37 percent of Russian women.
Some 25 percent of women in the U.S. said they received adequate counseling before the abortion compared to 64 percent of the Russian women.
Both sets of women reported few positive reactions to their abortions.
The most commonly felt positive experience was relief, but only 7 percent of Russian women and 14 percent of American women experienced relief after their abortions.
American women were more likely to attribute to their abortion subsequent thoughts of suicide (36 percent), increased use of drugs or alcohol (27 percent), sexual problems (24 percent), relationship problems (27 percent), guilt (78 percent), and an inability to forgive themselves (62 percent).
Some two percent of America women have abortions attribute admission to a psychiatric hospital to their abortions.
Citation: Rue VM, Coleman PK, Rue JJ, Reardon DC. Induced abortion and traumatic stress: A preliminary comparison of American and Russian women. Med Sci Monit, 2004 10(10): SR5-16.
The article can be downloaded free at http://www.medscimonit.com.

Martin Signs Canada Up for One-World Order

Prime Minister Paul Martin signs Canada up for one world order United Nations
by Judi McLeod, Canadafreepress.com
November 26, 2004

In office as Canadian Prime Minister for not quite a year, Paul Martin made it official that’s he’s signing Canada up with the one world order-advocating United Nations, on Friday.
With intentions that not even President George W. Bush--due for an official state visit to Canada within the week--will have to read between the lines, Martin is now openly heading his nation down a bold new path, through his vaunted position with La Francophonie.
"Today, having existed for over 40 years, La Francophonie finds itself at a crossroads. At a time when a wave of reform is sweeping the multilateral world, starting with the United Nations, our Community must stake out its position as a globally important political forum," Martin told the opening of the Tenth Summit of Heads of State and Government using French as a common language, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Africa.
"We adopted the Charter of La Francophonie in Hanoi, the Luxembourg Declaration on Women, and the important Bamako Declaration on peace, democracy, human rights and good governance, which marks a fundamental milestone in our organization," Martin said. "There was also the confirmation, at the Beirut summit, of La Francophonie’s role as a driving force behind UNESCO’s plans to adopt an international convention for the protection of cultural diversity" (emphasis added).
Officially taking Canada in a new direction is made all the bolder in consideration of the fact that Martin holds only minority status in a Liberal government, courtesy of voters who went to the polls only last June, and by the fact that since the federal election, Martin’s Liberal government remains mired in a multi-million dollar sponsorship scandal.
But no one should be surprised to find Martin following in synch, step for step, the one world march of the Kofi Annan-led, anti-American United Nations. It’s no secret that the Canadian Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is under the steady influence of senior Annan advisor, Kyoto architect Maurice Strong, who plays the same role in the PMO–senior adviser to Martin.
Nepotism in the Canadian PMO dates back decades, and embraces the nation’s last two prime minister’s ties, through Strong to powerful Canadian businessman Paul Desmarais. In Canadian politics, all roads lead back to Desmarais and his Montreal-based Power Corp. Desmarais is also the major shareholder and director of TotalFinaElf, the largest corporation in France, which held tens of billions of dollars with the deposed regime of Saddam Hussein.
Chretien’s daughter, France is married to Andre Desmarais, son of Paul Desmarais.
Martin replaced Prime Minister Jean Chretien on Dec. 12, 2004.
Strong hired Martin in the 1960s to work for Paul Desmarais at Power Corp.
According to respected Financial Post columnist Diane Francis, "In 1974, Desmarais made Martin president of the Canada Steamship Lines. And then in 1981, he made him spectacularly rich by selling the company to him and a partner for $180 million." The day to day operation of Martin’s shipping company, estimated to be worth $424 million, was handed over to his three sons last year.
Much more pro-UN than U.S. if only subtly until Friday, Martin reminded the African summit that "the French fact in Canada has never stopped evolving.
"Our commitment to the Francophonie community is a key element of Canada’s presence on the international scene."
Martin singled out La Francophonie Secretary General Abdou Diouf, ex-president of Senegal, who replaced former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali.
"Under his leadership and with a targeted strategy," said Martin "La Francophonie will become more than ever a relevant, sought-after and credible partner on the world stage."
Martin spoke glowingly of how Kenya’s Wangari Maathai became the first African woman ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, in recognition of her environmental work.
" This award symbolizes everything that brings us here together today: the search for economic progress in Africa, continued efforts to achieve sustainable development, contribution to democracy and peace, and the emphasis on women’s rights."
The crisis in Darfur, he said, "calls into play the Responsibility to Protect, a humanitarian concept being studied by the United Nations".
Martin announced Quebec City as the site of the next summit in 2008.

Abstinence, Fidelity are Key to Fighting AIDS

Abstinence and Fidelity are Key to Fighting AIDS Researchers Acknowledge

WASHINGTON, November 29, 2004 (LifeSiteNews.com) - An article published in the current issue of The Lancet, signed by nearly 150 HIV/AIDS experts from over 35 countries has acknowledged that abstinence and being faithful in marriage are key to stopping AIDS. The article calls for following evidenced-based approaches and looks to Uganda's ABC model as a successful campaign against the deadly virus.

The latest UN conference looking at AIDS demonstrated the hostility of many AIDS researchers and academics towards the Ugandan ABC program which has been backed by the Bush Administration.( http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2004/jul/04071602.html ) While some may see ABC (Abstain, Be faithful/reduce partners, use Condoms) push in the Lancet as a success, others have seen a major watering down of the ABC approach.

While the Ugandan model shunned the use of condoms and resorted to them only as a last resort (http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2004/jul/04071201.html ), the ABC model, agreed upon by the Lancet signers says, "All three elements of this approach are essential to reducing HIV incidence, although the emphasis placed on individual elements needs to vary according to the target population. Although the overall programmatic mix should include an appropriate balance of A, B, and C interventions, it is not essential that every organisation promote all three elements: each can focus on the part(s) they are most comfortable supporting."

See the Lancet article (registration required):
http://www.thelancet.com/journal/vol364/iss9449/full/llan.364.9449.analysis_and_interpretation.31364.1

Monday, November 29, 2004

Scientists Debate What It Means to Be Human

November 24, 2004
What Is Too Human?
The ethics of human/animal chimeras
Ronald Bailey

Esmail Zanjani, a researcher at the University of Nevada at Reno, has been able to grow mostly human livers in sheep. Zanjani achieved this by injecting into growing sheep fetuses either adult stem cells derived from bone marrow, or embryonic stem cells from one of the federally approved stem cell colonies.

The research was originally aimed at finding out if it would be possible to transplant stem cells into developing human fetuses to correct defects in utero. But Zanjani observed the human cells integrating into and then proliferating within a wide range of organs and tissues, including the pancreas, heart, skin and liver. Now, it looks like it will be possible to grow inside animals human cells, tissues and organs that might be suitable for transplants into people.

Let's say you need a new liver. Zanjani would take some of your bone marrow stem cells, and inject them into a fetal sheep at the proper moment. A few weeks later the lamb would be born with a liver made up chiefly of your cells. The lamb would be sacrificed and your new liver installed. Once installed, your immune system would eliminate the lamb's liver cells, leaving behind a brand new organ perfectly matched to your body. Providing sick people with life-saving transplants is certainly a morally worthy activity.

It is now common to place single human genes into plants and animals and even bacteria, to produce various therapeutic proteins, including insulin and human growth hormone. Few people now believe that putting a single human gene into another creature transforms that creature into a human being.

It turns out that many genes are like Animal-Kingdom cassettes—they can be mixed and matched across species. A gene crucial to building a fruit fly's eye will trigger eye development in a frog. Now that both the human and mouse genomes have been sequenced, researchers know that 99 percent of mouse genes have homologues in humans; even more amazingly, 96 percent are present in the same order on the genome. Of course, how those genes are expressed is very different, and mouse proteins, while similar, also differ in crucial ways.

Nevertheless, mixing human and animal genes and cells does pose some moral conundrums. First, consider the possibility of crossbreeding humans with other primates. There is some evidence that such mixing might succeed. Researcher J. Michael Bedford reported in 1977 that human sperm could penetrate the protective outer membranes of gibbon eggs. So far, from what we know, no one has attempted to create a human/chimpanzee hybrid. But would that be wrong?

Bioethicist Joseph Fletcher once suggested that it would be ethical to create parahumans, e.g., human/animal hybrids to do dangerous and demeaning jobs. Is Fletcher's proposal all that different from training dolphins to find underwater explosives, or using dogs to corral dangerous criminals?

Part of the problem arises from calling the creatures parahuman without defining which human characteristics might be added to them. Would giving an animal the ability to walk upright on two legs be morally problematic? Probably not. Would giving such creatures the ability to talk; that is, the capacity to understand and communicate with other language users, be morally problematic? That certainly raises the bar.

Human/animal crossbreeding is not the only way in which animals might be given the ability to talk. In 2002, researchers in Britain discovered that the FOXP2 gene in humans is required for articulate speech. While it is not the language gene, it is certainly one of the genes necessary for the ability to talk. The proteins produced by human FOXP2 gene differ by only two amino acids from the proteins produced by the FOXP2 gene in chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans. Would research that creates a transgenic chimpanzee with human FOXP2 genes elicit moral concern? Since FOXP2 orchestrates the actions of a variety of genes early in the development of the brains of human fetuses, and might have similar effects in chimpanzee fetuses, there may be grounds for ethical worries about such an experiment.

But what about just installing human brain cells directly in animals? Stanford University's Irving Weissman has injected human neural stem cells from aborted fetuses into the brains of fetal mice, where they have integrated and grown into human neurons and glia that intermingle with mouse brain cells, making up about 1 percent of the tissue in their brains. However, there is no evidence the chimeric mice began to contemplate the meaning of life. We need to give such chimeric mice no more or less moral consideration than we already give laboratory mice.

Weissman has said that he would like to inject human stem cells into the developing brains of fetal mice, with the goal of producing mouse brains composed chiefly of human brain cells. Such mice might be useful for testing drugs to cure or prevent various human brain diseases. Since the brains would have the architecture of mouse brains, it is unlikely that they would become biotech Stuart Littles and exhibit any characteristics that would cause us moral concerns.

But what about injecting human brain stem cells into the developing brains of fetal chimpanzees? That's clearly a bit closer to the line, but if human cells are simply integrated into the typical architecture of a chimpanzee's brain, then again, it would probably create no new ethical problems.

Beside the possibility of giving human characteristics to animals, injecting human stem cells into non-humans could create other moral concerns. For example, stem cells might transdifferentiate into gamete-producing cells, and integrate themselves into the ovaries and testes of mice, where they would produce completely human eggs and sperm. One could imagine such chimeric male and female mice mating and producing a completely human embryo. Of course, that embryo would be unable to develop in the uterus of a mouse, so the world would not have to deal with the birth of a child whose mom was a rodent. But again, what if this research were done with larger chimeric animals—say, cows—that could possibly carry a human baby to term?

But chimeric mice could also be used to help people overcome infertility. Bone marrow stem cells from an infertile woman or man might be injected into a fetal mouse, where they could be transdifferentiated into gamete-producing cells. Gametes might be harvested from the mice and used in IVF procedures to engender a child. Assuming it's medically safe, producing a child in this way would not be unethical.

Finally, it has to be asked: would eating a liver composed chiefly of human liver cells grown in a sheep be cannibalism? I say yes; don't do it. Save them for transplants.

As humanity's biotechnological prowess increases, we will confront again and again the question of what, if any, limits should be placed on research that mixes human and animal genes, cells and tissues. The main ethical concern about such research is not the creation of improved and useful animals, but the risk of producing what would be, in effect, diminished human beings.

Ronald Bailey is Reason's science correspondent. His new book, Liberation Biology: A Moral and Scientific Defense of the Biotech Revolution will be published in early 2005.

One Million Canadians Suffer From Panic Attacks

One million Cdns. suffer panic attacks: report
CTV.ca News Staff
Updated: Mon. Nov. 29 2004 3:03 PM ET

Nearly one million adult Canadians have suffered some form of panic attack during their lives, a new study has found.

Based on data collected for the "2002 Canadian Community Health Survey: Mental Health and Well-being," Statistics Canada says about 3.7 per cent of people over the age of 15 have experienced recurrent, unexpected panic attacks.

Typified by symptoms such as chest pain, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath and palpitations, the agency notes the disorder can be both chronic and disabling. Sufferers may feel they are choking, losing control or "going crazy."

The rates of such attacks are higher among women than men, and generally more prevalent among adolescents and young adults.

"The average age of onset was 25, and for three-quarters of those with the disorder, it had begun by the age of 33," Statistics Canada said.

The agency warns that trend has long-lasting effects, as the stress and disruption associated with the attacks disrupt life at a time when individuals are forming relationships and entering the workforce.

The disorder is also more common among divorcees than married couples, and more widespread among the population with lower levels of income and education.

Other effects the Statistics Canada report has linked to individuals with the disorder include:

an increased likelihood of being permanently unable to work;
a greater chance of coping with stress by consuming drugs or alcohol;
the common presence of other mental disorders including agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder or depression;
more frequent trips to the doctor for treatment of panic disorder symptoms often mistaken for the onset of a heart attack.
According to the study, 70 per cent of those afflicted by panic disorder consulted a psychiatrist, psychologist, family doctor or other physician in the previous year. That was four times the rate of Canadians who never had the condition.

Based on a weighted sample of more than 30,000 Canadians aged 15 and older in provinces countrywide, the 2002 CCHS covers 98 per cent of the population.

Women were more likely than men to seek treatment for the condition.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Irish Probe of Church Finds No Wrongdoing

November 28, 2004
Church sex abuse probe draws blank
Dearbhail McDonald

A TWO-YEAR garda inquiry into allegations that the Catholic church covered
up child sex abuse has so far failed to produce incriminating evidence
against senior church figures.
It had been hoped by clerical sex abuse victims that the “God squad” — a
20-strong specialist detective unit — would confirm claims that the church
concealed the activities of abusive priests in Dublin, Ireland’s largest
archdiocese. But an internal review of the inquiry last week concluded that
no damning evidence had been unearthed.
Gardai privately say their investigation has been hampered by the church’s
unwillingness to give full access to its files, which cannot be removed from
Archbishop’s House.
“The investigation is still ongoing, but to date there is nothing in the
church’s own files to indicate a cover-up. There’s no conspiracy there,”
said a source close to the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
The garda investigation was launched after claims were made in an RTE
television documentary that priests were given access to children even after
the church had received complaints of abuse from parents.
The probe, now entering its third year, has centred on allegations by
victims and their parents that church authorities concealed the activities
of abusive priests from civil authorities and transferred abusers to new
parishes where they continued to abuse children.
The investigation is expected to be completed before the start of a €3m
state inquiry into abuse in the Dublin diocese next year.
Diocesan files released to gardai have confirmed the transfer of known and
suspected abusers to new parishes. But the documents, which are released
under the supervision of diocesan authorities and cannot be removed from
church property, do not contain any evidence that senior figures, including
Cardinal Desmond Connell, the retired archbishop of Dublin, concealed the
activities of paedophile priests.
Despite Connell’s promise that gardai would be given unlimited access to
diocesan files, victims fear incriminating documents have been withheld.
“Access to files won’t be a problem for the statutory inquiry,” said Andrew
Madden, a campaigner for victims of sex abuse.
“Only a state inquiry into the Dublin diocese will ascertain how well
Connell and other senior clerics handled complaints. It will have the powers
to ensure discovery of church files. We have heard absolutely nothing from
the garda inquiry in 2Å years, so you have to ask whether it really achieved
its objective.”
Last year, the Dublin diocese paid almost €400,000 to a victim of Thomas
Naughton, a priest who was jailed for abusing four boys. The unprecedented
settlement was agreed between the church and Mervyn Rundle, who won a High
Court application to access all documents on the abusing priest.
“The gardai can have access to my files any time if they are in any doubt
about a cover-up,” said Rundle. “This is why we need a state inquiry more
than ever, so we can compel the church authorities to testify.”
Connell’s pledge for complete access to diocesan files was made last
December after a breakthrough meeting with Marie Collins and Ken Reilly,
campaigners for victims of sex abuse.
There are an estimated 450 legal actions against priests and members of
religious orders in the Dublin archdiocese alone.
The screening of Cardinal Secrets in 2002, and a series of disclosures of
abuse, led to unprecedented calls for Connell’s resignation in the wake of
“unspeakable abuse” and his handling of complaints.
Diarmuid Martin, Dublin’s new archbishop, has defended his predecessor. “The
person who took the clearest stance on the issue is Cardinal Connell,” he
said last year. “It is sometimes not seen that he was the one who suspended
and reduced priests to a lay state very quickly after he came in, in very
many of these cases.”
Earlier this year, nine Catholic bishops, including Connell and Eamon Casey,
the disgraced former bishop of Galway, were cleared of claims that they had
failed to act on complaints of sexual impropriety against the head of St
Patrick’s College, Maynooth.
The bishops commissioned an independent report, which has yet to be
published, after a priest accused them of ignoring complaints that Monsignor
Michael Ledwith, the former president of the college, was harassing
seminarians. The bishops denied any knowledge of the complaints.