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Oral submission on voluntary euthanasia | Scoop News – Scoop.co.nz (press release)

Posted: February 13, 2017 at 9:50 am

Herewith the text of an oral submission I made to the Health Select Committee inquiry on voluntary euthanasia today, Monday, February 13 2017

by David Barber, of Wellington dbarber@clear.net.nz

I thank the committee for the opportunity to make a personal submission on voluntary euthanasia which I believe to be one of the most critical issues facing society today.

I wish to speak on only one aspect the need for provision of an end-of-life directive to be included in legislation allowing physician-assisted dying.

Why do I feel so strongly on this issue? My wife was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers Disease at the age of 48. Two years later, I had to make arrangements for her to attend a day care centre so that I could continue working.

As her condition deteriorated I could no longer care for her and at the age of 52 she was admitted to a secure unit at Porirua Hospital. She died aged 55 after falling and breaking a hip. She never recovered from the resulting replacement surgery.

We had been married 33 years, had three children and happily survived the stresses and strains of moving a family to and from five countries dictated by my work.

She was a strong, capable, independent and proud woman and her rapid decline with its consequent loss of dignity distressed her, me and our children enormously.

Her advanced Alzheimers meant she was incontinent, unable to feed and dress herself, or recognise friends and family. A pioneering female journalist and a feminist before the word became fashionable, she could no longer write, read, or take part in the social intercourse that made her a popular friend to hundreds of people we met around the world.

She spent her days in Porirua endlessly walking the confined corridors of the secure unit it was a prison of necessity because while Alzheimers patients pose no threat to society, they wander and have to be locked up for their own safety.

That was her unbearable suffering a phrase you are hearing much about.

I knew Frances well and I know that she did not want to live in that condition and would have welcomed the ability to choose an end to her suffering had she retained her mental faculties. She could have lived in misery for another 30 years or so – an unbearable prospect for anyone – and her early demise was a blessing for her and us all.

I submit that an End-of-Life Directive requesting a physicians help to end suffering if a person developed severe dementia should be included in far-sighted legislation.

It will, of course, have to be signed and witnessed before the onset of dementia with all the safeguards one expects to be included in the new law permitting physician-assisted dying.

I have signed an Advance Directive for Health Care declaring that if I develop Alzheimers, a terminal illness or severe degenerative disease, cannot recognise my family and am mentally incompetent to accept or decline life sustaining treatment I should not be resuscitated, placed on life support or fed by conventional or artificial means.

When the law is changed, I would want these provisions superseded by a request for a physician to end my life so that I could die peacefully in the company of friends and family rather than have to resort to a lonely suicide to end my suffering.

Spending years with dementia is the biggest fear of many people it is feared more than cancer, for example – and I suggest that anyone who has experienced the horror of watching a loved one suffer the ravages of that most terrible of diseases would prefer a merciful release.

I believe a law change is inevitable because the majority of people want it 66% are in favour, according to a survey published in the New Zealand Medical Journal last month.

I want to stress that people like me are talking only of voluntary euthanasia for those who want the choice to end unbearable suffering. I hope that stories like mine will help convince the committee to recommend a compassionate new law that upholds the human right to die, as well as to live, as we wish.

I would like to finish with an anecdote about a young American soldier caught in a hail of machine gun fire as his unit landed on a Normandy beach on D-Day in 1944.

The bullets tore through his chest, shot off an arm and blew away most of his face. His pain was unimaginable; his fate obvious. He begged his mates to end his suffering with a bullet.

Is there anyone in this room who would have denied him ?

Scoop Media

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Cuban Libertarian Activists Arrested By State Police – The Libertarian Republic

Posted: February 11, 2017 at 8:55 am

By Zach Foster

A libertarian brother from the Mises Cuba Institute notified me shortly after two Cuban libertarian activists were arrested by State Security officersthe political secret police. Mises Cuba, Mises USA, and the PanAm Post all confirmed that Ubaldo Herrera Hernandez and Manuel Velasquez Visea were both arrested in the last week. Other members of Mises Cuba were also threatened with arrest by the political police.

The two men were arrested together. Reportedly, they were approached by several plain-clothes undercover secret policemen. The secret policemen harassed the two men and arrested the activists when they refused to show ID to non-uniformed officers. Herrera and Velasques are still detained.

The American Mises Institute commented: At a time when interest in the works of Ludwig von Mises and the Austrian School is growing in developing nations, this arrest is a solemn reminder of the incredible courage of those spreading ideas in countries where governments routinely crack down on political opposition.

Responding to a request for comment,Libertarian Party of Nevada Chairman Jason Smith and Vice Chairman David Colborne both expressed shock at the arrest and they condemn the Cuban government for this abuse against civil liberties and basic human rights. This morning, LP Nevada released a press release in English and in Spanishofficially protesting the arrest and indefinite detention of Herrera and Velasquez and demanding their immediate safe release.

Since the War on Terror heated up, libertarians have been fighting and campaigning against indefinite detention. The liberty movement in 2012 vehemently opposed the National Defense Authorization Act specifically for the indefinite detention clause. This same fate is exactly what the Cuban libertarian activists are facing now.

Libertarians everywhere should join in denouncing the unjust actions of the Cuban regime and demand that the two political prisoners be released immediately. Cuban goods should be boycotted. People from around the world need to be putting pressure on their own governments to put political pressure on Cuba, while themselves putting economic pressure on Cuba.

This is a time when we libertarians need to stand in solidarity with Ubaldo Herrera Hernandez and Manuel Velasquez Visea. What happened to these men in Cuba can still happen in the United States, especially with a presidential cabinet stacked with authoritarians like Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions. Rounding out the authoritarian curve is President Trump and his love for executive orders.

We the People need to keep protesting and pressuring our own government to respect our civil liberties, but that doesnt mean we cant scream and shout when it happens in places like Cuba. After all, while Americans fear their government arbitrarily jailing political opponents, it actually happens in Cuba. Driving it closer to home, these men are libertarian activists. They were thrown in jail for exactly the type of nonviolent education and discussion that people reading this have done countless times without even a second thought.

The jailed Cuban libertarian activists are political prisoners and State Security is holding themwithout a trial. This is antithetical to freedom. It would be the same whether the Cuban regime jailed Cuban libertarian activists or whether a right-wing regime jailed socialist labor union organizers. There are some things a human being just doesnt have the right to do to another human being.

There can be no justice in Cuba until the two Cuban libertarian activists are released safe and sound. We can only hope State Security hasnt brutalized them the way theyve brutalized countless of the nameless Cuban peasants unlucky enough to be suspected of crimes against the state. Whats worse is how authoritarian governments like the Cuban regime usually accuse political dissidents not of crimes against the state, but against the people.

CommunismCubaHuman rightsMises Institute

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Australian computer scientist claims he created Bitcoin – May …

Posted: May 2, 2016 at 3:43 pm

Australian computer scientist Craig Steven Wright has publicly identified himself as “Satoshi Nakamoto,” founder of the widely-used cryptocurrency Bitcoin.

Wright has told three media organizations — the BBC, the Economist and GQ — that he is the father of Bitcoin. The computer scientist has also published a blog post that he says includes cryptographic proof for the claim.

Bitcoin was created in 2009, but the identity of its founder has remained shrouded in secrecy. The creator used the name “Satoshi Nakamoto,” but many experts have assumed the moniker was a pseudonym.

Speculation over the mystery flourished in recent years, and multiple media outlets carried out investigations that sought to unmask the founder. At least a dozen of people have in the past been named as Bitcoin creators.

Newsweek, for example, reported in 2014 that a retired engineer named Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto was the one. But Nakamoto forcefully denied the report, saying he had never even heard of the currency.

The New Yorker ran an article in 2011 that suggested a graduate student in cryptography at Trinity College could be the founder. The student denied the claim.

Related: Alleged Bitcoin creator denies he’s the one

In 2015, tech publications Wired and Gizmodo put forward Wright’s name. “Either Wright invented Bitcoin, or he’s a brilliant hoaxer who very badly wants us to believe he did,” Wired wrote at the time. Australian media reported at that time that a house believed to be owned by Wright has been searched by the Australian Federal Police in connection to a tax issue.

But many questions remained unanswered.

The blog published by Wright on Monday seeks to remove all doubts. In it, the computer scientist claims to verify the cryptographic keys to a key Bitcoin “block,” or group of transactions, that dates to the early days of the currency.

Two leading Bitcoin developers, Jon Matonis and Gavin Andersen, came forward on Monday, backing Wright’s claims.

Andersen, who is the chief scientist at the Bitcoin Foundation, said Wright demonstrated the supposed verifications keys to him at a meeting in London a couple of weeks ago. “After spending time with him I am convinced beyond a reasonable doubt: Craig Wright is Satoshi,” he said in a blog post.

Matonis, who is the founding director at Bitcoin Foundation, said he was also convinced Wright was the founder of Bitcoin, after attending a private proof session with him.

Related: What is Bitcoin?

But many other Bitcoin developers remain skeptical. They say the blog itself proves nothing, publishing something that has been “out there” for a while. They also claim cryptographic keys found on Wright’s blog posts have been backdated.

“The page copies a signature out of the Bitcoin Blockchain from 2009,” said Greg Maxwell, the chief technology office at Blockstream, a Bitcoin startup.

Wright reportedly demonstrated the procedure for the Economist, which reported that, “as far as we can tell he indeed seems to be in possession of the keys.”

But even the Economist, which agreed not to write about the computer scientist until the blog post was published, has doubts.

“Our conclusion is that Mr. Wright could well be Mr Nakamoto, but that important questions remain,” the magazine said in its report.

Wright did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. “Some people will believe, some people won’t,” he told the BBC. “And to tell you the truth, I don’t really care.”

He told the Economist and the BBC he was not seeking publicity. “I don’t want money, I don’t want fame, I don’t want adoration. I just want to be left alone,” he said in a video posted by the BBC.

On his blog, Wright said he came out as the founder of Bitcoin to “set the record straight” and “dispel the myths out there and unleash its potential to change the world for the better.”

CNNMoney (London) First published May 2, 2016: 4:59 AM ET

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Bitcoin Foundation board director says company is bankrupt

Posted: April 7, 2015 at 9:45 am

Home News Apps Bitcoin Foundation board director says company is bankrupt The financial future of one of the biggest backers of bitcoin is hanging in the balance according to directors within the company.

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The Bitcoin Foundation, an organisation that promotes development of bitcoin, is “effectively bankrupt” and has shed most of its staff, a member of the foundation’s board of directors has said.

Two other board members, however, said the foundation was not bankrupt, though in need of some kind of restructuring.

The outburst by Olivier Janssens, who was elected to the board last month, is the latest in a series of controversies surrounding the foundation, which was founded in the U.S. in 2012 as a nonprofit entity.

“The foundation has almost no money left, and just fired 90 percent of its people. Some will stay on as volunteers,” Janssens wrote in a blog post on the foundation’s forum.

“The Bitcoin Foundation hates transparency,” he added. “If they would have been transparent then everyone would know there is no money left.”

Janssens attributed the foundation’s financial straits to two years of “ridiculous spending and poorly thought out decisions,” adding that the board has tried to remedy the situation by finding a new executive director. He called for the replacement of the entire board.

Described as a bitcoin millionaire, Janssens wrote that he will donate “several 100k” to a special trust fund aimed at supporting core development of the digital currency and supplemented by crowdfunding efforts.

The foundation did not immediately respond to a request for information about Janssens’ post. But Patrick Murck, its executive director, wrote in a response to Janssens’ post, “The foundation is not bankrupt, but a restructuring is needed. Olivier basically jumped in front of our announcements on that and our annual report on the 2014 finances to be released next week, and he spun it very very negative.”

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The Bitcoin Foundation is out of cash, says board member

Posted: at 9:45 am

The Bitcoin Foundation, an organization that promotes development of bitcoin, is effectively bankrupt and has shed most of its staff, a member of the foundations board of directors has said.

Two other board members, however, said the foundation was not bankrupt, though in need of some kind of restructuring.

The outburst by Olivier Janssens, who was elected to the board last month, is the latest in a series of controversies surrounding the foundation, which was founded in the U.S. in 2012 as a nonprofit entity.

The foundation has almost no money left, and just fired 90 percent of its people. Some will stay on as volunteers, Janssens wrote in a blog post on the foundations forum.

The Bitcoin Foundation hates transparency, he added. If they would have been transparent then everyone would know there is no money left.

Janssens attributed the foundations financial straits to two years of ridiculous spending and poorly thought out decisions, adding that the board has tried to remedy the situation by finding a new executive director. He called for the replacement of the entire board.

Described as a bitcoin millionaire, Janssens wrote that he will donate several 100k to a special trust fund aimed at supporting core development of the digital currency and supplemented by crowdfunding efforts.

The foundation did not immediately respond to a request for information about Janssens post. But Patrick Murck, its executive director, wrote in a response to Janssens post, The foundation is not bankrupt, but a restructuring is needed. Olivier basically jumped in front of our announcements on that and our annual report on the 2014 finances to be released next week, and he spun it very very negative.

While saying that the money has basically run out, board member Gavin Adresen wrote in another response that The foundation isnt bankrupt, but the board needs to decide whether the responsible thing to do is to continue the organization with a much smaller organization and vision or to dissolve it.

The Bitcoin Foundation is no stranger to controversy. Among its founding members are Charlie Shrem, who pleaded guilty to transmitting money linked to the Silk Road online drugs site, and Mark Karpeles, who presided over the collapse of MtGox, once the worlds largest trading place for bitcoin.

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DNA testing clears woman after 35 years in Nevada prison (+video)

Posted: March 7, 2015 at 5:47 pm

Reno, Nev. After the case was dropped against a Nevada woman who spent 35 years in prison for a 1976 murder she did not commit, both sides agreed on one point: justice was finally served thanks to new technology in DNA testing.

Cathy Woods became the latest innocent person in the country to be cleared by DNA evidence after prosecutors announced Friday there will be no retrial of her in the fatal stabbing of 19-year-old Michelle Mitchell on the edge of the University of Nevada, Reno, campus.

A judge tossed Woods’ conviction in September after new DNA tests linked the Reno crime to an Oregon inmate who now faces charges near San Francisco in a string of killings about the same time.

Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks said he didn’t fault earlier police, prosecutors and juries for sending Woods to prison because they didn’t have “the incredible tool of DNA.”

“Whenever we hear about these rare cases where convicted individuals are later exonerated by DNA, it is a circumstance that upsets our society, rightly so,” Hicks said at a news conference. “It is also depicted as a strike against our modern day criminal justice system. I would suggest otherwise.

“These exonerations, 30 and 40 years later, show how improved our criminal justice system has become. So as tragic and difficult as this case continues to be, the one shining light is that it shows our modern day system is working,” he added.

Woods’ public defender, Maizie Pusich, agreed, saying earlier authorities and juries simply lacked DNA evidence.

“I wish it (Woods’ exoneration) happened a long time ago, but at least it happened now when she’s in relatively good health,” Pusich told The Associated Press. “As time goes by, there will be innocent people in prison who slip through the cracks because they won’t survive much longer.”

Woods, 64, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. She lives in the Southern California home of her brother and his wife, both of whom care for her. She remains under mental health treatment and is “doing well,” Pusich said.

She was convicted in 1980 and again five years later. The convictions were based largely on the confession she made in 1979 at a psychiatric hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana, where her mother committed her months earlier.

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DNA testing clears woman after 35 years in Nevada prison (+video)

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DNA testing clears woman after 35 years in Nevada prison

Posted: at 5:47 pm

Reno, Nev. After the case was dropped against a Nevada woman who spent 35 years in prison for a 1976 murder she did not commit, both sides agreed on one point: justice was finally served thanks to new technology in DNA testing.

Cathy Woods became the latest innocent person in the country to be cleared by DNA evidence after prosecutors announced Friday there will be no retrial of her in the fatal stabbing of 19-year-old Michelle Mitchell on the edge of the University of Nevada, Reno, campus.

A judge tossed Woods’ conviction in September after new DNA tests linked the Reno crime to an Oregon inmate who now faces charges near San Francisco in a string of killings about the same time.

Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks said he didn’t fault earlier police, prosecutors and juries for sending Woods to prison because they didn’t have “the incredible tool of DNA.”

“Whenever we hear about these rare cases where convicted individuals are later exonerated by DNA, it is a circumstance that upsets our society, rightly so,” Hicks said at a news conference. “It is also depicted as a strike against our modern day criminal justice system. I would suggest otherwise.

“These exonerations, 30 and 40 years later, show how improved our criminal justice system has become. So as tragic and difficult as this case continues to be, the one shining light is that it shows our modern day system is working,” he added.

Woods’ public defender, Maizie Pusich, agreed, saying earlier authorities and juries simply lacked DNA evidence.

“I wish it (Woods’ exoneration) happened a long time ago, but at least it happened now when she’s in relatively good health,” Pusich told The Associated Press. “As time goes by, there will be innocent people in prison who slip through the cracks because they won’t survive much longer.”

Woods, 64, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. She lives in the Southern California home of her brother and his wife, both of whom care for her. She remains under mental health treatment and is “doing well,” Pusich said.

She was convicted in 1980 and again five years later. The convictions were based largely on the confession she made in 1979 at a psychiatric hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana, where her mother committed her months earlier.

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Sen. Dan Sullivan amends proposed bill to disarm EPA agents

Posted: January 24, 2015 at 11:53 pm

ANCHORAGE Alaskas freshman senator has filed his first amendment, and it is aimed at keeping firearms out of the hands of Environmental Protection Agency agents.

Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan said Friday he filed the amendment to follow through with a promise he made while campaigning in Fairbanks last fall. The idea to disarm the EPA came after agents swept into the mining town of Chicken wearing body armor and carrying rifles in August 2013 while investigating possible violations of the Clean Water Act, Sullivan said.

The amendment is attached to a larger bill that would authorize the Keystone XL pipeline.

In fall 2013, miners in the Chicken area told the Daily News-Miner they felt intimidated by the agents, who, in some cases, did not identify themselves when arriving at mines in all-terrain vehicles. An EPA spokesperson described the discussions as consensual and cordial.

The investigation was based on reports of mines with a history of not complying with state and federal clean water laws and ongoing significant discharges, the EPA said in a written statement in September 2013.

There have been no federal charges or arrests, at least so far, as a result of the investigation.

Asked about the raid and Sullivans amendment Friday, an EPA spokeswoman referred questions to agency officials in Washington, D.C., who did not respond to a request for comment by late Friday.

Sullivan said in a phone interview the issue, while important to Alaska and its miners, goes beyond the incident in Chicken.

I think theres this conventional wisdom that the federal government is always growing, always into new areas, always gaining new responsibilities, Sullivan said. Part of what I ran on is that is not some kind of law of nature. We can roll back some of the responsibilities and authorities of the federal government.

Looking at the history of the EPA, which was formed in the early 1970s, it was not until the late 1980s that the agents were authorized to carry firearms, said Sullivan, who had researched the congressional hearings from that time. Originally, the authorization was to protect agents investigating hazardous waste dumps connected to the mafia, he said.

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NSA targeted Chinese tech giant Huawei

Posted: December 25, 2014 at 4:48 am

US intelligence agencies hacked into the email servers of Chinese tech giant Huawei five years ago, around the time concerns were growing in Washington that the telecommunications equipment manufacturer was a threat to US national security, a report says.

The National Security Agency began targeting Huawei in early 2009 and quickly succeeded in gaining access to the company’s client lists and email archive, German weekly Der Spiegel reported on Saturday, citing secret US intelligence documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Among the people whose emails the NSA was able to read were Huawei president Ren Zhengfei, the magazine said.

The operation, which Der Spiegel claims was co-ordinated with the CIA, FBI and White House officials, also netted source codes for Huawei products.

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One aim was to exploit the fact that Huawei equipment is widely used to route voice and data traffic around the world, according to the report.

But the NSA was also concerned that the Chinese government itself might use Huawei’s presence in foreign networks for espionage purposes, it said.

In 2012, the House Intelligence Committee recommended that Huawei be barred from doing business in the US, citing the threat that its equipment could enable Chinese intelligence services to tamper with American communications networks.

Huawei didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment late on Saturday.

In January, the company rejected a previous Der Spiegel report claiming that its equipment was vulnerable to hacking.

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China cuts access to Dropbox

Posted: December 16, 2014 at 5:42 am

China on Wednesday started blocking the online storage service Dropbox.

Censorship watchdog group GreatFire.org reported the blocking on Thursday, stating that access had been cut to dropbox.com and to the company’s apps.

China had previously tried blocking Dropbox as far back as 2010, GreatFire.org said in an email. But in early 2014, Dropbox updated its app to use the HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) communications protocol, helping it bypass the country’s censorship.

China, however, has begun cutting access to Dropbox’s HTTPS address, banning the company’s services completely in what GreatFire.org said was the “strictest method of blocking.”

Dropbox did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Dropbox site was inaccessible from Beijing, and the company’s apps failed to synch data between devices.

China has been stepping up its censorship lately, targeting Google on May 31 with a block that’s disrupted access to nearly all the company’s services. The government has given no explanation for the move, but it took place just ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests that were brutally quashed on June 4, 1989.

The historical event is among the many censored topics in the country; before it was blocked, Google was one source of unfiltered search results about it.

Prior to the Google block, terrorists in China’s western Xinjiang region also killed dozens in a bombing attack. The country’s state-run media later reported that Chinese police had arrested several terrorist groups that had been using messaging apps and online videos to organize.

In the case of Dropbox, the service’s blocking will probably affect few users. China’s own Internet giants including Baidu are offering similar cloud storage services and Dropbox has yet to actively market its services to the country.

In recent weeks, Chinese Internet users have been complaining about the country’s Google blocking, and have urged the government to end it. Government censors, however, are deleting social-networking posts about the topic, according to GreatFire.org. The group is cataloging the deleted posts on one of its sites.

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