Tag Archives: statement

Filmmakers accuse Robert De Niro of censorship after he …

Posted: May 11, 2016 at 9:41 pm

A controversial film that accuses the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of covering up the link between vaccines and rising autism rates has been pulled from the Tribeca Film Festival after its inclusion sparked outrage andopponents called it intellectually dishonest and propaganda.

A day after he defended the decision to screen the documentary Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe, festival co-founder Robert De Niro announced in a statement Saturday that he reversed course after reviewing the film with colleagues and experts.

My intent in screening this film was to provide an opportunity for conversation around an issue that is deeply personal to me and my family, the statement said. But after reviewing it over the past few days with the Tribeca Film Festival team and others from the scientific community, we do not believe it contributes to or furthers the discussion I had hoped for.

Deadline Hollywood reported that filmmakers have accused Tribeca officials of engaging in censorship.

To our dismay, we learned today about the Tribeca Film Festivals decision to reverse the official selection of Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe,’ director Andrew Wakefield and producer Del Bigtree said.

It is our understanding that persons from an organization affiliated with the festival have made unspecified allegations against the film, the statement continued. We have just witnessed yet another example of the power of corporate interests censoring free speech, art, and truth. Tribecas action will not succeed in denying the world access to the truth behind the film Vaxxed.’

The film is directed and co-written by Wakefield, a polarizing anti-vaccination activist and onetime gastroenterologist whose medical license was revoked by Britains General Medical Council, according to CBS News. Wakefield is also the author of a widely discounted study published in the medical journal the Lancet, in 1998 that was retracted in 2010. Studies from the independent, nonprofit Institute of Medicine, the World Health Organization and the CDC have discredited the notion that a link exists between vaccines and developing autism spectrum disorder, according to the Huffington Post.

The substantial evidence explains why the decision to screen the film drew intense scrutiny from medical experts.

On Friday, De Niro released a statement explaining his decision to screen the film next month, but he noted that he was not personally endorsing the film and is not anti-vaccination.

Grace and I have a child with autism and we believe it is critical that all of the issues surrounding the causes of autism be openly discussed and examined, the statement said. In the 15 years since the Tribeca Film Festival was founded, I have never asked for a film to be screened or gotten involved in the programming.

However this is very personal to me and my family and I want there to be a discussion, which is why we will be screening the film, the statement added.

The statement set off a new round of debate on the festivals Facebook page, with users leaving thousands of heated comments.

Why shouldnt there be discussion around this? one commenter wrote. This is supposed to be a country of free speech.

To say that discussion has not been ongoing before this obvious bit of propaganda is screened is intellectually dishonest, another said. The discussion has been going on for decades and the answer has remained the same. There is no valid science that backs a vaccine-autism link. None.

To say that discussion has not been ongoing before this obvious bit of propaganda is screened is intellectually dishonest

A trailer for the film begins with ominous music and a single question:

Are our children safe?

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Obama speaks out against censorship – Video

Posted: April 12, 2015 at 6:43 am



Obama speaks out against censorship
Obama spoke out against censorship. He will probably have offended some social justice warriors with his statement that people should not self-censor themselves just to prevent people from…

By: Atheist9000

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SCLC president suspended after comments regarding 2nd Amendment

Posted: April 3, 2015 at 5:47 am

ATLANTA (CBS46) –

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference has suspended Georgia President Rev. Sam Mosteller over comments he made at a news conference on Tuesday.

Mosteller said it’s time for African-Americans to change how they deal with police.

I am going to advocate at this point that all African-Americans advocate their Second Amendment rights, Mosteller said.

The Second Amendment states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Despite his statement about the Second Amendment, Mosteller said he’s not encouraging African-Americans to arm themselves.

I said the Second Amendment right. I didn’t say pack weapons, Mosteller said.

Mosteller said the fatal police shooting of Anthony Hill in DeKalb County and Nick Thomas in Cobb County, both of whom were unarmed, is a wake up call.

“When one is killed senselessly, that one is too many,” Mostellar said. “These killings are reminiscent of the days of old when African-Americans did not have to provoke an officer to become harmed and be endangered species. Black men — no matter the age — are indeed endangered species today, and we must come together with the police community to determine what can be done to stop their violence!”

National SCLC president, Dr. Charles Steele, Jr., issued the following statement. It reads in part:

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NATO Secretary General and Prime Minister of Canada – Joint Press Statement, 23 MAR 2015 – Video

Posted: March 26, 2015 at 10:54 am



NATO Secretary General and Prime Minister of Canada – Joint Press Statement, 23 MAR 2015
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper during their bilateral meeting, 23 March 2015. Right Honourable Stephen Harper (Prime Minister of Canada):…

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ASHG and ESHG issue position statement on non-invasive prenatal screening

Posted: March 25, 2015 at 2:45 pm

BETHESDA, MD, USA and VIENNA, AUSTRIA – Two of the world’s largest professional societies of human geneticists have issued a joint position statement on the promise and challenges of non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT), a new procedure to test blood drawn from pregnant mothers for Down syndrome and other chromosomal disorders in the fetus. The document addresses the current scope of and likely future improvements in NIPT technology, ways it may best fit with existing prenatal screening tools and protocols, options and priorities in its implementation, and associated social and ethical issues.

The statement, drafted by the Social Issues Committee of the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) and the Public and Professional Policy Committee of the European Society of Human Genetics (ESHG), was published online March 18 in the European Journal of Human Genetics.

Current prenatal screening protocols for common structural abnormalities in the chromosomes vary among countries and medical practices. Generally, though, pregnant women are offered a combined first-trimester screening (cFTS), a risk assessment test based on blood and ultrasound markers. Women who receive abnormal cFTS results undergo a second step of testing to confirm or deny whether the fetus has an abnormality such as Down syndrome. This second step involves invasive procedures, such as amniocentesis, that in 0.5-1% of cases may lead to a miscarriage.

One important drawback of cFTS is the high rate of false alarms that lead to invasive procedures that put pregnancies at risk when the fetus is actually chromosomally normal. The main benefit of NIPT, apart from a significantly higher detection rate, is that it dramatically lowers the false alarm rate from about 5% to about 0.2%, making prenatal screening more accurate and safe. This is achieved by analyzing fragments of DNA in maternal blood, some of which provides information about the fetus. The fact that this ‘fetal DNA’ actually derives from the placenta is one reason why NIPT is not fully reliable. An important implication of this is that women who receive an abnormal NIPT result should still be advised to confirm this result through a second step of testing if they are considering a termination of pregnancy, the statement authors write.

The authors explored the benefits and drawbacks of various ways to implement NIPT, such as adding it to the current two-step process or using it to replace cFTS. As NIPT is significantly more expensive, the cost per test would need to be reduced considerably for the latter option to be feasible in fully funded prenatal screening programs, they noted. They also considered implications of the technology, including pressures on women to undergo the test and act upon the results, and the loss of ultrasound data that would indicate fetal problems if that step is removed from the screening process.

“Throughout our discussion, we kept in mind that the goal of prenatal screening is to enable autonomous, informed reproductive choices by pregnant women and their partners, not to prevent the birth of children with specific abnormalities,” said Yvonne Bombard, PhD, 2014 chair of the ASHG Social Issues Committee.

The two committees also addressed emerging advances in NIPT technology that would allow testing for additional genetic conditions, such as rare microdeletion syndromes and syndromes that interfere with sexual development. They noted that as NIPT grows to include more conditions – producing results of varying certainty – pre-test genetic counseling will become significantly more complex.

“Although there is no convincing ethical reason to limit NIPT to Down syndrome and a few other chromosomal abnormalities, we are concerned about prematurely expanding NIPT to include rare conditions for which the test may not be sufficiently validated, or of which the clinical implications may not be fully understood. For example, parents-to-be will have to make difficult choices about how to act upon abnormal results for such conditions,” said Wybo Dondorp, PhD, first author of the statement.

“A related concern about prematurely expanding the scope of the test is that it will reverse the significant decrease in false alarms and subsequent need for follow-up diagnostic procedures, which has been regarded as the main gain of NIPT in prenatal screening”, said Diana Bianchi, MD, a member of the ASHG Social Issues Committee and co-author on the statement.

The statement authors also considered the longer-term question of how extensive prenatal genetic screening should be, and emphasized the role of infrastructure in enabling responsible use of NIPT. Priorities included educating health professionals and the public about its benefits and limitations, promoting equal access despite cost issues, controlling the quality of pre-test counseling and laboratory practices, and systematically evaluating the whole process. In all, the two committees published ten recommendations for the broader implementation of NIPT, including suggested next steps.

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Lee Kuan Yew: a towering figure who crushed those who crossed him

Posted: March 22, 2015 at 9:55 pm

March 23, 2015, 11:25 a.m.

He warned Australians they risked becoming the “white trash of Asia” and crushed his political opponents at home.

He warned Australians they risked becoming the “white trash of Asia” and crushed his political opponents at home. He made laws banning chewing gum and jukeboxes and imposed severe restrictions on freedom of speech.

But Lee Kuan Yew, who has died aged 91, turned an island at the tip of the Malaysian peninsula into a glittering regional financial and technology powerhouse with a $US300 billion a year economy.

Mr Lee was a towering figure on the international stage, a man of integrity who stood apart from other Asian nation-builders because he did not become corrupt.

The Cambridge-educated lawyer – who ditched his Anglicised name Harry Lee for his original Chinese name – had a relentless urge to smash those who crossed him, overseeing a system where his opponents were jailed or driven into bankruptcy through costly libel suits; the media was stifled often through libel suits; and political dissent was crushed.

Chia Thye Poh, a physics lecturer and member of Singapore’s parliament in 1966, refused to bow to Mr Lee, a decision that led him to become one of the world’s longest serving political prisoners.

Mr Lee had accused Mr Chia of being a member of the Communist Party of Malaya and ordered him to sign a declaration renouncing violence. Mr Chia refused. Twenty-five years later Mr Chia was still incarcerated, by then confined to a small, brick guardhouse on Singapore’s Sentosa island where he described Mr Lee’s refusal to release him as mental torture.

“To renounce violence is to imply you advocated violence before. If I had signed the statement I would not have lived in peace,” he said at the time.

The restrictions on Mr Chia, who was never convicted of any crime, were not lifted until 1998.

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International Women’s Day 2015 – Make it Happen. – Video

Posted: March 7, 2015 at 5:52 pm



International Women's Day 2015 – Make it Happen.
Video Statement by Ambassador Marrit Schuurman – NATO Secretary General's Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security A safer world starts at home. There can be no lasting peace…

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Russia to Stick With ISS Till 2024 as It Preps for Moon Mission

Posted: February 27, 2015 at 7:46 am

NASAUnder President Vladimir Putin the space program has seen a measurable increase in funding.

After months ofuncertainty surrounding thelong-term fate ofthe International Space Station, Russia’s federal space agency Roscosmos has announced its desire toremain inthe 15-nation program until 2024, anagency statement said late Tuesday night.

According tothe statement bythe agency’s Scientific andTechnical Council (STC), asenior internal planning body, Russia will then move onto amoon mission around 2030.

“Today we determined that themain aim [for theprogram] is touse theISS todevelop our lunar program inlow Earth orbit, [before moving onto] deep space,” Yury Koptev, head ofthe STC anda former Roscosmos chief, was quoted as saying inthe statement.

Roscosmos said that they envision Russian-manned spaceflight following two lines ofdevelopment over thenext decade.

Inthe near term, Russia will continue touse ISS as abase formodernizing andexpanding its domestic space assets.

Meanwhile, it will develop new technology tosupport theconstruction ofa new national space station around 2024 or 2025, which will be built onthe basis ofRussia’s segment ofthe current ISS.

Russia’s portion ofthe ISS, originally designed tobe theSoviet Union’s Mir-2 space station, is technically capable ofserving as anindependent station, towhich new space station modules could be added.

According toRoscosmos, thenew national space station will ensure Russia’s independent access tospace, provide abase forthe testing ofnew spacecraft, andeventually serve as away station forRussian cosmonauts ontheir way tothe moon around 2030.

Koptev was quoted inthe statement as saying that there is ageneral consensus within thespace agency andsurrounding industry that this path ofdevelopment is theproper course forRussia’s space program.

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When Does the First Amendment Protect Threats?

Posted: November 29, 2014 at 10:50 am

Many people don’t know where courts draw the line on what constitutes free speechor what they mean by a “true threat.”

In a 2003 case, the Supreme Court ruled that Ku Klux Klan burnings are sometimes but not always protected speech. (Rainier Ehrhardt/Reuters)

Not long ago, a dissatisfied reader emailed that he had enough guns to stop people like me. I emailed back to ask whether he was threatening me.

The reply: I’m not stupid enough to telegraph genuine ill intent.

On Monday, the Supreme Court will hear a case involving the question of when a seemingly threatening communication (this one on Facebook, not email) can be a crime. Lets clear up some confusion, shared by my correspondent above, about what threats are and why they can be punished.

The case is Elonis v. United States. Anthony Elonis lived in Lower Saucony Township, Pennsylvania. Until 2010, he was married with two children and worked at a nearby theme park. In May 2010, his wife left him, taking their two children. Not long after that, he was fired because of multiple complaints of on-the-job sexual harassment (for example, a female coworker alleged that he found her alone in the office at night and began to undress).

He turned to Facebook. About his former coworkers, he posted: I have sinister plans for all my friends and must have taken home a couple [of keys]. About his ex-wife, he posted: Im not going to rest until your body is a mess, soaked in blood and dying from all the little cuts. When she got a restraining order, he posted, Ive got enough explosives to take care of the state police and the sheriff’s department and Im checking out and making a name for myself Enough elementary schools in a ten mile radius to initiate the most heinous school shooting ever imagined … The only question is … which one? FBI agents came to his door; he posted his fantasy of killing one female agent: Pull my knife, flick my wrist, and slit her throat Leave her bleedin from her jugular in the arms of her partner. He was convicted in federal district court of five counts of transmitting in interstate commerce (here, the Internet) any threat to injure the person of another.

Free Speech Isn’t Free

Elonis argued that, under the First Amendment, the government had to prove that he had a subjective intent to threaten. He said he lacked that, in part because some of his posts echoed words by rapper Eminem. The court of appeals held instead that the statute only requires that a reasonable person would foresee that the statement would be interpreted by those to whom the maker communicates the statement as a serious expression of an intention to inflict bodily harm.

Lets break that down carefully. Elonis argues that the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was actually thinking, This message will terrify the person it refers too, and I want that. The government says that it must only prove that a reasonable person would have thought it would terrify.

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Bitcoin head charged in US securities case

Posted: November 9, 2014 at 10:46 pm

NEW YORK Trendon Shavers, founder of Bitcoin Savings and Trust, has been charged with fraud and accused of masterminding a $4.5 million Ponzi scheme, according to federal prosecutors in Manhattan who said it was the first U.S. securities-fraud prosecution tied to the electronic currency.

Shavers, 32, who operated the firm that made virtual currency-based investments through the Internet, raised at least 764,000 bitcoins through his business, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

At the peak of the scheme, Shavers raised and had in his possession about 7 percent of all the bitcoins in public circulation, Bharara said.

From September 2011 through September 2012, Shavers, using the name pirateat40, solicited investments in Bitcoin Savings on Bitcoin Forum, an Internet site where investment opportunities are posted, the U.S. alleged.

Shavers allegedly offered investors who lent bitcoins to Bitcoin Savings as much as 7 percent interest weekly an annualized interest rate of 3,641 percent and investors were told they could withdraw their investments at any time, according to the statement.

Shavers also claimed the investment by Bitcoin Trust would be used to support a market-arbitrage strategy that included lending bitcoins, trading bitcoins using online exchanges and selling bitcoins locally via private off-markets transactions, according to the U.S.

Shavers in truth largely failed to execute the claimed market arbitrage strategy and failed to deliver the agreed upon rates of interest, according to prosecutors.

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