Monday, November 10, 2003

Fear-mongering over convicts sperm bank donations

Is there a terrorist in your womb? Can your parent's genes label you? Not according to the Danish Health Ministry that said donors did not require a clean record as "there is no evidence that a tendency towards criminal behaviour can be inherited".

But the world's biggest sperm bank says that it has been forced to start screening all donors for any criminal record after it emerged that a man who killed his two baby daughters had been on its books.

[After someone decided to fear-monger the sperm bank?]

Horrified parents, who gave birth after receiving semen from the Cryos International Sperm Bank in Aarhus, Denmark, have flooded it with calls seeking reassurance that Heine Nielsen was not the father of their child. Nielsen, 32, who received $A54 a time to give samples, was sentenced to life in a secure psychiatric unit last week for the murder of his three-week-old daughter in January. A check on his criminal record would have revealed that he had been found guilty 10 years ago of murdering his first child, an eight-week-old girl. He served six years in prison for the killing.

Cryos has told anxious parents that none of the samples provided by Nielsen had been sent out, as he failed to attend the second of three compulsory psychological profiles. It has denied claims by Nielsen's relatives that he donated sperm twice a week for at least a year.

The head consultant at Cryos, Erich Ernst, said: "He provided only 12 samples, according to our records, but none of these was used because he did not complete the testing process. Only about 9 per cent of the applicants ever make it to the final stages, so this is quite normal." Nonetheless, future Cryos donors will be required to provide a police certificate confirming they do not have criminal records.

"We have contacted the Danish Health Ministry and have heard that it is within the law to ask our donors about any possible criminal convictions," Mr Ernst said. "We can insist someone has a clean record before we allow them to apply." The sperm bank has more than 200 donors on its books, distributing almost 10,000 units of sperm each year.

It supplies 35 infertility clinics across Europe, resulting in more than 1000 pregnancies every year.

The furore, [fear-mongering?] has [allegedly], prompted a fresh debate about whether laws should be introduced requiring would-be donors to face criminal checks as well as psychological tests and medical screening. But more importantly, laws for restricting the release of psychiatric patients convicted offenders or alleged terrorists.

[What! Nothing about state government terrorists? Murderers in the Military, Police, and prison guards, etc...What makes their Noble Cause Genes arses any better? Fear-mongering!!!]

Nielsen's mother, who has not been named, said he enrolled as a sperm donor to earn extra money.

"He was at the sperm bank several times every week . . . in 2000. I did not like it - he was sick, mentally sick, and it did not seem right," she said.

THE WAR ON LIBERTY: This is an extreme case of fear-mongering. Extreme cases are used to attempt to validate these models. In this case to start screening all donors for any criminal record. But if you can have people believe that the offenders and or terrorists are being produced or likely to be produced, because of a DNA test then there is a chance you won't be born. If you are born with these results and labelled an offender or terrorist you may be born into a prison hospital to prepare yourself for a prison cell. This has incredible wide ranging ramifications.

And the problem with that formula is that state sanctioned terrorists in the military, police, and prisons who murder for queen and country, an alleged noble cause, are no better than any other peasant criminals.

The Danish predators along side the Coalition of the Killing who are pre-emptively striking Afghanistan, Iraq, and Palestine, are actually the worst kind of terrorists killing millions of people in the name of occupation, genocide and imperialism.

The reason they've take an extreme case like a baby killer here, is because usually there is little or no support for people who have offended against a child i.e. the most unpopular person. So fear-mongering works best if the provocateur uses the worst case scenario.

What about the Coalition of the Killing, war criminals and war mongers who maimed and killed these kids? Should they be more suitable for the sperm bank?


After a war waged by the U.S. military against Vietnam which took the lives of more than 3 million Vietnamese people and more than 58,000 GIs, the U.S. finally withdrew in 1975. It had suffered its first official major military defeat by a united people struggle led by the Vietnamese, along with a mass U.S. anti-war movement.

By Extremely Flawed 10 November 03

Feedback: Michael Strutt: IMHO sperm banks are commercial institutions with a primary responsibility to their clients. If the client does not want sperm from someone, who has killed their kid, has a low paid job, dislikes brussel sprouts or supports Manchester United that is their business.

Sperm banks already discriminate against donors for lots of reasons, many of them with no good basis in genetic science (or any other science for that matter).

The whole issue of sperm banks, egg donors and eugenics is a big one, but IMHO, ultimately trivial. I'm sure not going to fight for anyone's right to jerk off into a bottle and get paid for it.

The real issue here is the question of a genetic basis for criminal behaviour. Because the science involved is so bad as to be non-existent in this case. I think it will really serve to discredit such a link, but there are far more serious challenges in this area to face.

The most serious one I know of so far is the Dunedin study which has shown a statistical correlation between a polymorphism of the MAO gene and violent behaviour by men who were abused as children.
Note that there is both a genetic and environmental factor in the mix.

This study is being carefully examined by many scientists in the field and I expect to see some responsible conclusions drawn which will then be hijacked by politicians and other publicity seekers with their own irresponsible agendas.

Interestingly, I expect the Dunedin study - in conjunction with what is now being revealed about the
violent side effects of antidepressant medication - to force a general rethink about the relationship between anger and depression which may even help society to deal more sympathetically with those people unable to control violent impulses.

The MAO gene codes for the protein monoamine oxidase, which has long been known to be linked to depression. There are also studies, which attempt to correlate particular genetic variations with opiate addiction and alcoholism.

I think that the whole issue needs to be seen in the context of bioinformatics (the use of powerful computers and huge databases to try to draw statistical links between apparently unrelated pieces of biomedical data) and
the attempts by drug companies and cowboy research entrepreneurs (like Craig Venter) to 'discover the gene responsible for' whatever.

The reductionist nature of contemporary medical science makes that approach very persuasive to allopathic practitioners, the general public, media outlets and (most importantly for its proponents)
stock market investors. It creates a real danger of genetic discrimination and a new wave of eugenics as predicted in 'Brave New World' and 'Gattaca'.

I am not sanguine about such a danger by any means, but have reason to think that all the hype being currently being generated by the biotechs will ultimately lead to a backlash, which will mitigate against such an outcome.

The 'miracle gene cures' being anticipated in the media on almost a daily basis will generally not pan out - they are just about creating enough short term enthusiasm to cash in on the stock market, not the long haul needed for proper medical research and development of therapy.

After a few more years of this
the public and media will become pretty sceptical I think. In the meantime however, there is real risk of discrimination in insurance; HealthCare, employment and the criminal justice system based on bogus or irrelevant links between genes and illness or antisocial behaviour.

The Australian Law Reform Commission has demonstrated itself as worse than useless in addressing the problem, as it is unable to stand up to even the mildest pressure from industry or authorities.


A Question of Innocence
Minister Chris Ellison: Yes we’re watching the progress of this project in NSW with great interest. This has been raised at the Standing Committee of Attorneys General and a working group is looking at this very question. I think we have to have a considered response to this proposal and on a national basis, we would need to have the cooperation of the states and territories.

Military lawyers await probe on DNA tampering
The Army's Criminal Investigation Command said nearly 500 forensic test results from all services dating back 10 years are under review after one of its examiners allegedly faked results. About 119 of those cases pertain to the Navy and Marine Corps.

Corrupt police planting DNA evidence at crime scenes
Others have raised concerns about corrupt police planting DNA evidence at crime scenes.

Expert baffled by Falconio evidence DNA contamination
NT: The director of the Northern Territory's forensic science unit has told a Darwin court he does not know how his DNA contaminated a key piece of evidence in the Peter Falconio murder trial. [lost trial? After all he wasn't found?]

The ABC for good or evil?
He had a suspect that he wanted to find guilty based on the chances of a spouse killing a spouse which were greater in anycase, at least more likely than that of a stranger.

First Grabs To Control Our DNA
A small company in Australia has been subjected to gross denials of rights after DNA database technology was stolen from it's company. This one year saga has spawned them to form a new approach to projects of importance to all people.

Worries over DNA and racial profiling
UK: Black men are four times more likely than White men to be on the national DNA database and there is growing concern about racial profiling in criminal investigations.

Lab's Errors Force Review of 150 Virginia DNA Cases
US: WASHINGTON, - A sharply critical independent audit found that Virginia's nationally recognized central crime laboratory had botched DNA tests in a leading capital murder case. The findings prompted Gov. Mark Warner to order a review of the lab's handling of testing in 150 other cases as well.

Witch-hunt targets scientists
QLD: SCIENTISTS at the John Tonge Centre are being threatened with jail in the wake of a government hunt for the source of leaks highlighting serious problems in the forensic laboratories.

Fresh swipe at DNA labs
Scientist Kris Bentley, whose departure yesterday follows that of forensic biologist Deanna Belzer after concerns about "inaccurate" DNA results and unvalidated equipment, issued a scathing resignation letter leaked to The Courier-Mail.

DNA leads 'CSI' cold-case squad to first arrest?
Frozen case? I don't really know what to say about them until they come up with their case. They say it involves DNA evidence but that's the only stuff we know.

Criminal's DNA filed under relative's name
The New South Wales Opposition is calling for an investigation into claims that police have entered DNA data for serious offenders under incorrect names.

DNA fingerprinting 'no longer foolproof'...
The genetic profiles held by police for criminal investigations are not sophisticated enough to prevent false identifications, according to the father of DNA fingerprinting.

PROFESSOR BARRY BOETTCHER: Now, there should be a law enacted within Queensland so that when cases come up like this they can be brought to attention and if an appropriate authority such as a judge of your Supreme Court considers that it merits further inquiry, an inquiry be ordered.

'Rape' officer clears his name
UK: A former policeman has been cleared of rape after protesting his innocence for 15 years. Judges at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh ruled that Brian Kelly, 47, had suffered a miscarriage of justice over crucial DNA evidence.

New unit investigates unsolved deaths?
A new police unit has been established to investigate more than 360 unsolved deaths in New South Wales, with many of the deaths dating back more than 30 years.

Prisoner's bid for review denied
Prisoner Roger Cheney has lost a Supreme Court action to have a judicial review of his 1993 convictions an 30-year jail sentence. Justice Shaw said he was concerned about the prisoner's claim that DNA evidence held by the police could prove his innocence. Although Cheney had requested the results of the DNA tests, he had been denied access to the forensic analysis.

QLD Prisoners DNA Bid THE curious case of Queensland's "cat lady" murder is set to test the state's legal authorities again, with the man convicted of the killing asking the Attorney-General to take the unprecedented step of releasing blood samples for DNA retesting.

Database clears up crimes?
NSW Police Minister John Watkins said at the launch of a Sydney conference of international forensic experts meeting to mark 100 years of fingerprinting in NSW. He said the collection of DNA from prisoners and suspects in NSW during the past two years had led to more than 5,400 matches on the forensic database.

A Question of Innocence
Katrina Bolton: The promise of DNA freeing the innocent as well as convicting the guilty has been repeated by politicians across Australia, usually while DNA laws are being expanded. The promise was made as a national DNA database, ‘Crimtrac’ was created, and it was made as NSW introduced legislation giving unprecedented powers to take DNA samples from prisoners, by force if necessary.

Mouse Trap Game? Tried Until Guilty!
Two New South Wales Labor MPs have strongly criticised the Carr Government's proposed abolition of the 800 year old double jeopardy rule, which stops people being tried a second time for the same crime. The left-wing MPs have branded the reforms as dishonest and unjust in a formal submission to the Attorney-General's department.

Weak Carr Government suspends Innocence Panel
It's a callous disregard for justice! The panel takes applications from convicted prisoners for DNA evidence to be analysed a move that may help in a future court appeal.

JUST BEAT IT! Govt lauds crime-solving technology?
The New South Wales Government says advances in crime solving technology are helping the progress of hundreds of police investigations.

DNA testing causes debate in murder case
The use of voluntary DNA testing in the investigation of a murder case in New South Wales has been applauded by victim support groups who are ill informed about the process said Justice Action's spokesperson Gregory Kable.

Abolition of double jeopardy law a political stunt: NSW Opp
Why draconian laws? What about the re-trial by media that goes along with it? Twice shy?

The NSW government has finally appointed somebody (Justice John Nader) to head up its Innocence Panel and has produced leaflets and forms for people convicted of serious crimes (eg murder) to apply for DNA testing if they believe it may help prove their innocence. You can get the info by phoning 1300 881 717 or writing to the panel at GPO Box 45 Sydney NSW 2001.

Is the Westminster System flawed?
Most people would say Lady Di got the boot and NSW has so much trouble getting the Innocence Panel moving. I said hey, what's going on!

Murder charge first for DNA data bank link, but not the same as solving the murder Mass DNA testing of prisoners has led to the first NSW case of a person being charged with a previously unsolved murder as a result of a controversial gene-matching data bank. The Herald reported 25 Nov 02 "a DNA saliva swab led to the charging of a former prisoner with the bashing murder of a woman. Police had been unable to find any witnesses or suspects following the murder in Sydney's inner city two years ago. Detectives had admitted they faced a tough job finding the killer."

Prisoners can prove innocence for $20
Les Kennedy Daily Telegraph reported today that" Prisoners who believe that DNA will prove they were wrongly convicted will have the chance to prove their innocence for a mere $20 administration fee. The move comes 20 months after NSW inmates were asked to provide DNA for comparison with a databank of DNA from unsolved crime scenes for possible convictions.

DNA yours or mine?
Now they have isolated two genes that they say tells you if you're more likely to be depressed. What does that mean? It could mean that you should stay in jail because you are more likely than not to continue your offending behaviour according to a Department of Corrective Services Forensic Psychiatrist.

DNA = Do Not Assume - DNA Controversies!
The national DNA database of all known offenders proposed by Prime Minister Tony Blair could mean that innocent people will be accused of crimes they did not commit.

DNA Evidence of Bipartisanship
Last week the U.S. Congress passed the Justice for All Act, which includes provisions of the Innocence Protection Act. As of this posting, the legislation has not yet been signed by President Bush. Attached is an analysis of the legislation prepared by the Justice Project.

Murder charge first for DNA data bank link, but not the same as solving the murder As long as the the prisoners DNA wasn't planted at the crime scene. It is one thing to force prisoners to hand over their DNA and another thing to exploit it.