Tag Archives: controversial

Political correctness weaponized in face of unpopular opinion – The Vermilion

Posted: February 19, 2017 at 11:21 am

Photo via Huffington Post

One of the big buzzwords this past year has been political correctness.

This is the obsessive fear that all our language and actions are going to be policed so no ones precious feelings are ever hurt. Accusations of political correctness are automatic conversation-killers because no one wants to be accused of it. Its synonymous with the thought police. But theres a dirty secret to being politically correct: everyone is guilty of it in some way.

Most often, the charge of political correctness is leveled against leftists and liberals, who can be quick to accuse others of sexism or racism. Theyve been nicknamed snowflakes because theyre supposedly unique and fragile.

And sure, not every accusation is accurate. Ive even seen far too extreme cases of university students demanding college curricula be altered to avoid anything potentially offensive, which isnt fair. College is supposed to challenge you and present uncomfortable ideas, but is there anything wrong with telling students the controversial material to let the student drop the class if they dont want to hear it? Challenging, even offensivematerial should be presented, but students should be able to make an informed decision about it.

Much of this political correctness has had positive effects. By encouraging more diversity and greater awareness, it has allowed for better representation of women and minorities and opened larger debates about race, gender and other societal divisions.

But people on the right can be politically correct, too. Its just that they have different values, so they are protective of a different set of beliefs. For example, I have seen people complain about my column and say some of what I write is offensive. Well, isnt atheism politically incorrect? Arent I expressing an unpopular idea?

Or consider Colin Kaepernicks protest by kneeling during the anthem instead of standing. For many people on the right, this was hugely offensive. Kaepernick was doing something immensely politically incorrect. Or how so many people on the right complained when people wanted to remove the Confederate flag, despite its origins in the slaveholding South. Should their feelings be considered when they claim others feelings should be dismissed?

There is a double standard here. The people who most often denounce political correctness often seem to be unable to handle it when that incorrectness is aimed against their values. So it isnt a concern about correctness as much as silencing the opposition.

Now, you can say that the left is trying the same thing, but I think theres a crucial distinction in play. History is often the struggle between dominant and minority groups, with the dominant group being the one that determines what is socially acceptable. However, a free society requires the ability for all voices to have a chance to be heard. If cries of political correctness are used to continue to silence people who historically have been silenced, then we should be skeptical.

We also have a First Amendment, which says we have the freedom to say what we want without penalty. Only under very extreme circumstances is speech prohibited, but this says nothing about other peoples reactions. They have the right to complain, protest and condemn. We have to balance having freedom of speech both ways, while at the same time being vigilant in watching which groups that speech is being used to oppress.

challenge first amendment material political correctness Politically correct

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UNM group encourages free speech with huge beach ball – UNM Daily Lobo

Posted: February 18, 2017 at 4:01 am

Adrian Sifuentez writes on a large beach ball Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017 at UNM’s Smith Plaza. The ball was titled a “Free Speech” ball intended to let people express their free speech rights by writing whatever they please.

Hello gorgeous world was written in massive curly letters on a free speech beach ball in Smith Plaza Wednesday afternoon.

The inflatable beach ball standing taller than some students was brought to Smth Plaza by the UNM chapter of Young Americans for Liberty as a way to remind students of the importance of free speech, and to create dialogues between different-minded groups, according to YAL President Jess Ceron.

We thought it would be a good idea to come out here and talk to them about how we dont support one side of free speech, we support all sides, Ceron said. So anyone and everyone can write whatever they want on this ball. No one is gonna get in trouble for saying it.

Every semester the group does a free speech event, and this is the second time theyve used a beach ball, she said.

This way it makes it fun, rather than if I was to sit here for 30 minutes and say, Let me tell you about free speech. Youd doze off. But with this you can write whatever you want, Ceron said. No ones going to get mad. People arent going to judge you for what you wrote.

Typically student groups holding events outside, in the SUB or in a classroom reserve the space for free, and are asked to do so at least two business days before the event is scheduled to take place so that the space reservation can be approved.

Ceron said YAL intentionally didnt go through that process because they dont believe student organizations should have their free speech limited by space reservations. She said space reservations make holding events difficult because of the time it takes to reserve spaces and wait for a confirmation.

We just dont think that there should be zones where were allowed to do things, especially if were not hurting anyone, she said. And then they could shoot us down, like what if they didnt like the idea of free speech? Thats kind of not fair to students, because

that is our right.

Ceron said she had issues reserving space for a dodgeball event last semester. Student activities would not approve the event because of safety concerns, a reason that Ceron said she understood.

They shot me down for many reasons where I was like, I guess we cant do this event, she said. And I was like, No thats not fair, so I came out and did it without permission. They didnt shoot me down. They didnt say anything.

Ceron said she didnt think events should be denied unless theyve happened before and already been a safety hazard.

YAL has experience with events not coming together, as they originally invited Milo Yiannopoulos to campus, but had to disinvite him and pass the speaker off to the College Republicans, she said.

Milo himself has shown partisanship, and Young Americans for Liberty is not a partisan organization, member Bryan Cusack said. Due to the nature of its tax exemption status it cannot support anyone that supports a candidate.

The group received a lot of messages over initially inviting the controversial Breitbart writer Yiannopoulos they later transferred official hosting duties to UNM College Republicans most of which they didnt respond to, he said.

Most of the criticisms, we just let them go because they were using ad hominem attacks on us, Cusack said. They were using a lot of logical fallacies against us trying to dehumanize the group. Essentially they were playing identity politics.

Ceron said the free speech beach ball was especially important now because the group wants to clarify that everyone can say anything, and they dont have to be nice.

We had a girl who just failed her stats test and she said Forget stats, and wrote it on there, she said.

Officially the group is opposed to hate speech policies, Cusack said.

We just advocate free speech in general, which means the abolishment of hate speech policies, because some of them are written to censor free speech. I could technically say hate speech, but at that point its still free speech, but its just offensive, he said.

The beach ball eventually became adorned with all kinds of messages, some political, some more lighthearted. Just some of the scrawled comments: RIP Harambe, There are only 2 genders and Love each other.

If you really dont want to hear the other side, its totally fine, Ceron said. I just think if you gave your personal opinion on a subject then you should be able to hear it too.

Cathy Cook is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @Cathy_Daily.

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‘Milo Bill’ sponsored by Tennessee Republicans would protect freedom of speech at states colleges – Washington Times

Posted: February 12, 2017 at 7:02 am

Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos and other controversial figures would be welcomed to speak at colleges in Tennessee if the state legislature approves a bill proposed by Republican lawmakers this week.

State Rep. Martin Daniel and Sen. Joey Hensley introduced the Tennessee Freedom of Speech on College Campus Bill on Thursday in an effort to prevent schools from adopting policies that shield individuals from ideas and opinions considered unwelcome, disagreeable or even deeply offensive.

Campus free speech is being challenged by restrictive speech codes; speaker bans and disinvites; safe spaces and trigger warnings; and administrators who feel pressured to placate demonstrators, Mr. Daniel said at a press conference Thursday where he introduced the bill, The Huffington Post reported.

We just want to ensure that our public universities give all students the right to free expression, Mr. Hensleysaid, according to Breitbart.

Dubbed the Milo bill, the proposal was introduced after Mr. Yiannopoulos recent college speaking engagements were plagued by protests some which descended into riots and cancellations.

An event at the University of California, Davis, last month wascanceledover safety concerns just moments before he was slated to take the stage, and protests held in response to a similar event scheduled for UC Berkeley this month erupted into a fiery rampage.

Organizers of the canceled Berkeley event claimed afterwards their right to free speech was silenced by criminals and thugs, and President Trump responded on Twitter by threatening to withhold federal funds from the school.

We dont want this happening in Tennessee, what happened in California, Mr. Hensley said Thursday.

Public universities have abdicated their responsibility to uphold free speech principles, and these failures make it appropriate for all state institutions of higher education to restate and confirm their commitment in this regard, his bill reads in part.

Too many times weve seen classrooms where the professor doesnt want to hear both sides of an issue, weve heard stories from many students that, honestly, are on the conservative side that have those issues stifled in the classroom. We just want to ensure our public universities allow all types of speech, Mr. Hensley said Thursday.

Mr. Yiannopoulos, whom detractors have accused of peppering his talks with hate speech, applauded the lawmakers proposal in a prepared statement.

We are winning the war. And we will continue to win as long as students, and now defenders of free speech within the government, stand up to ivory tower intellectuals and left-wing administrators intent on shutting up any speech they dont find convenient, he said.

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Salman Rushdie’s New Novel is About Political Correctness and the Culture Wars – Heat Street

Posted: February 10, 2017 at 3:11 am

Salman Rushdie, the writer marked for death by the Ayatollah of Iran for writing The Satanic Verses, is working on a new novel set in contemporary America.

His new book, The Golden House, is a thriller set against the backdrop of modern-day American culture. It covers the eight-year Obama presidency and incorporates the cultural zeitgeist. It includes the rise of the conservative Tea Party movement, 2014s GamerGate hashtag campaign, social media, identity politics, and the ongoing culture war against political correctness.

In other words, its the modern world through the lens of Salman Rushdie, an author who received numerous death threats and even attempts on his life after he penned a novel critical of Islam.

Many stores refused to carry the book following its publication in 1988, and those that did were targeted by terrorists with firebombs and explosives.

The Iranian government put out a hit on Rushdie, which lasted until 1998, calling on jihadists and their allies to take the authors life.

In more recent years, Rushdie has called for the defense of freedom of speech. As the target of assassination attempts over his ideas and writing, the Booker Prize-winning author is uniquely intimate with the subject.

During the election last year, Rushdie spoke out against the furor over the pro-Trump chalk slogans in Emory University in what became known as #TheChalkening. Campuses that saw the rising incidences of chalk messages banned the calcium carbonate writing tool.

Rushdie called the dust-up silly and said there was no reason for art to be politically correct.

When people say, I believe in free speech but , then they dont believe in free speech, he said. The whole point about free speech is that it upsets people.

Its very easy to defend the right of people whom you agree with or that you are indifferent to, Rushdie said. The defense [of free speech] begins when someone says something that you dont like.

There are no safe spaces against offensive ideas, said Rushdie.

Rushdie has come to lose his confidence in the progressive leftincluding those who once defended his controversial book. Speaking in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Rushdie expressed dismay at the leftist protests that followed the PEN writers association to honor the fallen artists and writers.

Speaking to French magazine LExpress, Rushdie said that people learned the wrong lessons from the threats he faced in the 80s and 90s.

Instead of realizing that we need to oppose these attacks on freedom of expression, we thought that we need to placate them with compromise and renunciation.

Ive since had the feeling that, if the attacks against The Satanic Verses had taken place today, these people would not have defended me, and would have used the same arguments against me, accusing me of insulting an ethnic and cultural minority, said Rushdie. We are living in the darkest time I have ever known.

In Rushdies new book, the main villain is described as a ruthlessly ambitious, narcissistic, media-savvy villain sporting makeup and colored hair. Make what you will of that.

The books publishing director at Jonathan Cape, Michal Shavit, describes The Golden House as being about identity, truth, terror, and lies for a new world order of alternate truths. Its out this September.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken mediacritic. You can reach him through social media at@stillgray on Twitterand onFacebook.

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Salman Rushdie’s New Novel is About Political Correctness and the … – Heat Street

Posted: February 9, 2017 at 6:10 am

Salman Rushdie, the writer marked for death by the Ayatollah of Iran for writing The Satanic Verses, is working on a new novel set in contemporary America.

His new book, The Golden House, is a thriller set against the backdrop of modern-day American culture. It covers the eight-year Obama presidency and incorporates the cultural zeitgeist. It includes the rise of the conservative Tea Party movement, 2014s GamerGate hashtag campaign, social media, identity politics, and the ongoing culture war against political correctness.

In other words, its the modern world through the lens of Salman Rushdie, an author who received numerous death threats and even attempts on his life after he penned a novel critical of Islam.

Many stores refused to carry the book following its publication in 1988, and those that did were targeted by terrorists with firebombs and explosives.

The Iranian government put out a hit on Rushdie, which lasted until 1998, calling on jihadists and their allies to take the authors life.

In more recent years, Rushdie has called for the defense of freedom of speech. As the target of assassination attempts over his ideas and writing, the Booker Prize-winning author is uniquely intimate with the subject.

During the election last year, Rushdie spoke out against the furor over the pro-Trump chalk slogans in Emory University in what became known as #TheChalkening. Campuses that saw the rising incidences of chalk messages banned the calcium carbonate writing tool.

Rushdie called the dust-up silly and said there was no reason for art to be politically correct.

When people say, I believe in free speech but , then they dont believe in free speech, he said. The whole point about free speech is that it upsets people.

Its very easy to defend the right of people whom you agree with or that you are indifferent to, Rushdie said. The defense [of free speech] begins when someone says something that you dont like.

There are no safe spaces against offensive ideas, said Rushdie.

Rushdie has come to lose his confidence in the progressive leftincluding those who once defended his controversial book. Speaking in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Rushdie expressed dismay at the leftist protests that followed the PEN writers association to honor the fallen artists and writers.

Speaking to French magazine LExpress, Rushdie said that people learned the wrong lessons from the threats he faced in the 80s and 90s.

Instead of realizing that we need to oppose these attacks on freedom of expression, we thought that we need to placate them with compromise and renunciation.

Ive since had the feeling that, if the attacks against The Satanic Verses had taken place today, these people would not have defended me, and would have used the same arguments against me, accusing me of insulting an ethnic and cultural minority, said Rushdie. We are living in the darkest time I have ever known.

In Rushdies new book, the main villain is described as a ruthlessly ambitious, narcissistic, media-savvy villain sporting makeup and colored hair. Make what you will of that.

The books publishing director at Jonathan Cape, Michal Shavit, describes The Golden House as being about identity, truth, terror, and lies for a new world order of alternate truths. Its out this September.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken mediacritic. You can reach him through social media at@stillgray on Twitterand onFacebook.

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Salman Rushdie’s New Novel is About Political Correctness and the … – Heat Street

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Stephen Colbert takes on atheist Ricky Gervais over existence of God – 9news.com.au

Posted: February 7, 2017 at 7:59 am

Comedian Ricky Gervaisdidnt hesitate to dive into a debate about the existence of God when challenged by Stephen Colbert, a practicing Roman Catholic, during an interview yesterday.

Gervais, an outspoken atheist, was appearing on ColbertsLate Showwhen the late-night talk show host posed the question Is there a God.

Why is there something instead of nothing? Colbert asked.

Gervais was quick to take the bait.

That makes no sense at all, he hit back.

Surely the bigger question is not why, but how? Why is irrelevant, isnt it?

When pressed by Colbert about how the world could exist without the help of a higher power, Gervais simply said he didn’t believe anything played a role outside of science and nature.

The actor and writer went on to say he is actually an agnostic atheist because no one knows if theres a God.

Technically, everyones agnostic, he said.

An agnostic atheist is someone who doesnt know if theres a God or not, as no does.

Atheism is only rejecting the claim that there is a God.

You say theres a God. I say, can you prove that? You say no. I say I dont believe you, then.

Colbert then presented Gervais with the idea that he simply believes what hes being told by scientists, just as religious people believe what theyve read in the Bible.

Gervais came back with his own analogy.

Science is constantly proved all the time, he said.

If we take something like any fiction, any holy book, and destroyed it, in a thousand years time that wouldnt come back just as it was. Whereas if we took every science book and every fact and destroyed them all, in a thousand years theyd all be back, because all the same tests would be the same result.

Colbert ended the debate with a handshake, affectionately asking Gervais to come back on the show in the futureto discuss other controversial topics.

Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2017

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Mass incarceration and the perfect socio-economic storm – OUPblog (blog)

Posted: February 6, 2017 at 4:06 pm

In nature, there are weather conditions, referred to as perfect storms, arising from a rare combination of adverse meteorological factors creating violent storms that significantly affect the socio-economic conditions of an area. Social scientists refer to similar adverse factors as cultural amplifier effects. History shows that when leaders of empires were unable to adequately maintain a stable economy, govern diverse subcultures, and care for marginalized populations, these failures led to a socio-economic perfect-storm of cultural amplifier effects that resulted in the collapse of their respective empires.

The unprecedented and raucous 2016 presidential campaign, and its aftermath, suggests that there are several cohort pressure systems developing within the US felons of mass incarceration, their children, and the aging baby boomers. Unbeknown to most citizens, these cohorts are significantly influencing the American culture in unpredictable ways. These pressure systems are likely to develop into cultural amplifier effects that will converge over the US, leading to a socio-economic perfect storm, and possibly leading to the collapse of the US as a world empire.

In his book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005), Jared Diamond, believes that the elite leaders of nation-states develop a type of group-think whereby they do not notice the warning signs of social storms or, if they do notice, they may not be motivated to change the status quo. Currently, there are approximately 2000 correctional and detention facilities in the US with over 450,000 employees, and thousands of businesses with millions of employees supporting their operations. Obviously this is a large group of constituents interested in continuing the status-quo.

Rewards and sanctions are necessary for maintaining social order. However, they become counter-productive when they no longer create benefits. While only about 6% of the population is or has been incarcerated, the hidden problem is the cost to the US infrastructure when this percentage transitions from being taxpayers to tax-users. The percentage of the population effected is even higher when you consider the collateral effects to the families and communities of the incarcerated. In 2014, a little less than 3% of the US population was under some type of corrections supervision, many with non-violent offenses and mentally ill who would be fiscally better served in the community. By 2026, if policies remain the same, this population will be over nine million people, along with an estimated 24 million former felons at a budgetary cost in the trillions of dollars.

A second cultural amplifier effect is the children of prisoners (including parents previously in prison), numbering approximately 13 million in 2014, according to the National Resource Center on Children & Families of the Incarcerated. In their book, Children of the Prison Boom (2014), Wakefield & Wildeman identify, that before 1990, children grew up within four main contexts: family, neighborhood, school, and family stressors. Afterwards, a new context was added imprisonment of a parent. This exponentially increasing cohort of children will be raised in poverty and many in foster care. They have a greater potential for mental illness and addictions, post-traumatic stress, to drop out of school, and to become involved in domestic terrorism. Many will follow their parents into prison. The generational effect has and will continue to create a significant cultural group that is outside the American norm, even as a subculture.

A third amplifier effect is the aging baby boomer population, and the substantial decrease in tax income along with an increase in tax use. In 2015, the National Association of State Budget Offices reported funding for Medicaid, public aid, and corrections increased by 16% while education increased by only 8%. By 2026, these three budgets will significantly increase along with a 77% rise in social security and a 72% rise in Medicare; three-quarters of the Federal budget will be allocated for mandatory expenditures. One does not have to be a genius to understand that the price tag for the prison industrial complex will also rise exponentially. History shows us that economics played a major factor in the collapse of most fallen empires.

While the nations elite continue to focus on the controversial results of the 2016 presidential election, saving their respective statuses and their political parties, they fail to see the darkening storm clouds on the horizon. Shall we pretend that all is well and watch the American culture be swallowed up in a socio-economic perfect storm? Or should we have the courage to end the status quo, to tear down the structures that create apartheid groups and build cooperative, thriving communities that will sustain America through the next century?

Image credit: Chainlink fence metal by Unsplash. Public domain via Pixabay.

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Genetic test to predict opioid risk lacks proof, experts say – Philly.com

Posted: at 2:46 pm

It sounds like a godsend for America’s opioid epidemic: genetic tests that can predict how a patient will respond to narcotic painkillers, as well as an individual’s risk of misuse, addiction, and potentially deadly side effects.

Proove Biosciences of Irvine, Calif., claims its “opioid response” and “opioid risk” tests are the only precision medicine tools on the market to do all that, giving doctors information “to guide opioid selection and dosage decisions as well as treat side effects.”

But while the concept is captivating, addiction researchers say it is not yet possible to use genetic variation to gauge the risk of drug abuse. And ECRI Institute, a Plymouth Meeting nonprofit center that evaluates medical technology, says Proove has not published independently reviewed studies to support its claims.

“We cant say it doesnt work. All we can say is, theres no evidence it does,” said ECRI research analyst Jeff Oristaglio.

In an interview, Proove CEO Brian Meshkin defended his five-year-old products, which he said retail for $1,000 a test and were used by about 400 doctors last year in treating 50,000 patients. He said he expects scientific journals to publish results from studies “within the next six months.” Three clinical trials of the opioid response test are ongoing.

Consumers may assume that such high-tech genetic tests have to demonstrate safety and effectiveness to win regulatory approval, but they do not. Even though these complex diagnostics use the latest gene-sequencing and data-crunching techniques, they can come to market under 1988 federal regulations designed to ensure the quality of clinical laboratories.

Two years ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed a new framework for overseeing “lab-developed tests” that would take into account their complexity and riskiness, because inaccurate or false results can harm patients. But the agency withdrew the controversial proposal after the November election, saying it needed “to continue to work with stakeholders, our new administration, and Congress.”

Proove is one of many companies in the fast-growing genetic-susceptibility testing market, a multi-billion industry built on trying to foresee and thus, forestall disease, disability, and death.

Opioid-related deaths have become an urgent public-health crisis. Every day, on average, 3,900 people start abusing prescription painkillers, 580 graduate to cheaper heroin, and 78 die of a narcotic overdose, according to federal data.

In theory, genetics provides an opportunity to reduce this toll. Researchers have linked a predisposition to opioid dependency to gene variants involved in the brain’s signaling of reward and pleasure. Addictive behavior, particularly alcohol abuse, is known to run in families.

But addiction experts say risky behavior involves the largely unpredictable interplay of environmental, cultural, and biological factors.

“It is hard to conceive of a genetic test or a genetic score that would be valuable as a predictor of opiate abuse or addiction in general,” said Michael Vanyukov, a University of Pittsburgh professor of pharmaceutical sciences, psychiatry and human genetics.

Vanyukov, who wasn’t familiar with Proove’s products, said heredity plays a relatively small role in determining variation in addiction risk, while choices and perceptions can play a big role. “If the individual is informed of, say, a ‘low’ risk score, this very piece of information will change the risk. The error of a genetic score is likely to be great, and reliance on it in practice may be dangerous.”

Psychiatrist Charles OBrien, founding director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Studies of Addiction, was also unfamiliar with Proove’s test, but echoed that sentiment: “I could not in good conscience recommend that someone spend money on these tests.”

O’Brien’s own center recently identified gene variants associated with response to naltrexone, a drug that blocks the intoxicating effects of alcohol. But when the center studied alcoholics on naltrexone, strong and weak responders had the same number of heavy drinking days.

“We were very disappointed because we’re all looking for precision medicine,” O’Brien said.

Proove’s tests analyze DNA from a cheek swab. The opioid risk test gives the patient a score low, moderate, or high risk of opioid abuse that is based on detecting variants in 12 genes, combined with clinical information such as a history of depression. The company’s website claims the algorithm is 93 percent accurate.

But when ECRI scientists looked to validate that claim, all they could find were brief summaries of two studies that the company presented at medical conferences. One studyof 290 patients compared the Proove risk test with the “opioid risk tool,” a standard, one-minute screening questionnaire that doctors use to ask chronic pain patients about risk factors such as a history of mental illness or substance abuse.

“We cannot determine … whether the test performs better or worse than the opioid risk tool in predicting opioid misuse,” ECRI concluded.

Insurance plans either consider Proove’s tests unnecessary or have no specific policies, ECRI found, although Meshkin said insurers are covering the cost “on a case-by-case basis.”

“At some point, you’ve got to stop and produce the evidence if you want people to pay,” said Diane Robertson, director of ECRI’s health technology assessment service. “Why would anyone want to use something if there is no evidence that it has benefit?”

Published: February 6, 2017 10:09 AM EST The Philadelphia Inquirer

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Obama moves to split cyberwarfare command from the NSA

Posted: December 29, 2016 at 3:48 am

With weeks to go in his tenure, President Obama on Friday moved to end the controversial dual-hat arrangement under which the National Security Agency and the nations cyberwarfare command are headed by the same military officer.

It is unclear whether President-elect Donald Trump will support such a move. A transition official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the next administrations plans, said only that cybersecurity has been and will be a central focus of the transition effort.

Pressure had grown on Obama to make such a move on the grounds that the two jobs are too large for one person to handle, that the two organizations have fundamentally different missions and that U.S. Cyber Command, or Cybercom, needed its own leader to become a full-fledged fighting force.

[Obama to be urged to split cyberwar command from NSA

While the dual-hat arrangement was once appropriate in order to enable a fledgling Cybercom to leverage NSAs advanced capabilities and expertise, Cybercom has since matured to the point where it needs its own leader, Obama said in a statement accompanying his signing of the 2017 defense authorization bill.

Cybercoms mission is, when ordered, to disrupt and destroy adversaries networks. It is also to defend the nation against incoming threats to critical systems and to protect the militarys computers from cyberattack.

The NSA also has a defensive mission to protect the governments classified networks but is better known for its role in conducting electronic spying on overseas targets to gather intelligence on adversaries and foreign governments.

Cybercom, established in 2009 inside the NSA headquarters at Fort Meade, Md., has long depended on the spy agencys capabilities. NSA and Cybercom personnel sit side by side and use the same networks that were built by the NSA.

The two organizations should have separate leaders who are able to devote themselves to each organizations respective mission and responsibilities, but should continue to leverage the shared capabilities and synergies developed under the dual-hat arrangement, Obama wrote.

Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. earlier recommended to Obama that the two organizations have separate heads.

Obama had been on the verge of ending the dual-hat leadership in late 2013 but was persuaded to hold off when senior officials, including the NSAs director at the time, Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, argued that the two agencies needed one leader to ensure that the NSA did not withhold resources from Cybercom.

Others, including a presidential review commission, recommended that each of the two groups have its own leader and that the NSA director be a civilian. Since its inception in 1952, the NSA has been led by military officers.

The bill that Obama signed bars the splitting of the leadership role until the defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff jointly certify that to do so would not diminish Cybercoms effectiveness.

Obama took a swipe at Congress for imposing that requirement on him.

The Congress … should not place unnecessary and bureaucratic administrative burdens and conditions on ending the dual-hat arrangement at a time when the speed and nature of cyber threats requires agility in making decisions about how best to organize and manage the nations cyber capabilities, he wrote.

Obama said that the Pentagon and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence have planned a phased transition during which the NSA can continue to provide vital operational support to Cybercom.

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Biomedical Research Issues in Genetics – Genome.gov

Posted: May 16, 2016 at 11:44 pm

Biomedical Research Issues in Genetics

In addition to analyzing the direct ethical, legal and social implications of the Human Genome Project (HGP), the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) funds examinations of issues that are related because they involve manipulation of human genetic material or information. These include such controversial topics as genetic engineering and enhancement, and eugenics. Other controversial but related issues – such as stem cell research and cloning – have not yet been examined by NHGRI.

What are the ethical and legal implications of using our advancing knowledge of genetics to, in effect, enhance human beings by replacing or repairing a gene or genes associated with increased risk of disease” Is enhancement ethical for certain sub-populations, such as the aging, but not for others” Can eugenics ” the so-called science of selectively breeding superior human beings with “better” genes ” ever be used ethically, or is the very concept inherently discriminatory” Will cloning be used to “improve” the genetic makeup of individuals or are the ethical considerations too divisive” What does stem cell research portend for the future of regenerative medicine”

NHGRI supports highly technical genetic research that is rapidly advancing our understanding of the human genome. This new information, although potentially beneficial to the health of Americans, can also be misused. NHGRI created the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications (ELSI) Research Program in 1990 as an integral part of the HGP.

The insights gained through ELSI research inform the development of federal guidelines, regulations and legislation to safeguard against misuse of genetic information. Through the ELSI Research Program, NHGRI also supports a variety of ethics- and policy-related research studies, workshops and conferences to further explore and address such issues. Between 1990 and 2001, these ELSI-funded activities included some 235 research and education projects, more than 550 peer-reviewed journal articles, books, newsletters, Web sites and television and radio programs, as well as dozens of workshops, conferences and related activities focused on translating ELSI research into clinical and public health practices.

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Last Reviewed: March 7, 2012

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Biomedical Research Issues in Genetics – Genome.gov

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