Thursday, August 17, 2017
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Iceland's 'eradication' of Down syndrome raises inconvenient questions. At least, it should.
By David Harsanyi
August 16, 2017
On average, Iceland has two people with Down syndrome born each year (CBS NEWS)
Due to the rise of prenatal screening tests, the number of babies born with Down syndrome in the Western world has begun to significantly diminish. And no one, as CBS News puts it, is “eradicating Down syndrome births” quite like the country of Iceland.
Now, the word “eradication” typically implies that an ailment is being cured or beaten by some technological advancement. Not so in this case. Nearly 100 percent of women who receive positive tests for Down syndrome in that small nation end up eradicating their pregnancies. Iceland averages only one or two Down syndrome children per year, and this seems mostly a result of parents receiving inaccurate test results.
It’s just a matter of time until the rest of the world catches up. In the United States around 67 percent of women who find out their child will be born with Down syndrome opt to have an abortion. In the United Kingdom it’s around 90 percent. More and more women are taking these prenatal tests, and the tests are becoming increasingly accurate.
Well, not everyone gets to choose what his or her life looks like. Certainly not those who are “eradicated” because they suffer from genetic disorders. Then again, “We don’t look at abortion as a murder,” Olafsdottir explains later. “We look at it as a thing that we ended.” A thing? Using an ambiguous noun is a cowardly way to avoid the set of moral questions that pop up when you have to define that “thing.” And science is making it increasingly difficult to circumvent that debate.
David Harsanyi is a Senior Editor at The Federalist. Follow him on Twitter.
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
By Kevin Kernan
August 14, 2017
Derek Jeter and George Steinbrenner
Derek Jeter is going to rock baseball’s world as boss of the Marlins.
Jeter believes in scouting, talent, heart and soul, and he will look to fill the Marlins roster with the same kind of winning player he was during his 20-year championship career with the Yankees. In doing so he will slow down the rush to analytics that is now being portrayed the answer to all of baseball’s questions.
Consider this comment Jeter made to me at his locker several years before he retired.
“Everything is about numbers today, this game is more than numbers, buddy,’’ Jeter said. He went on to point out the value of scouting, the value of allowing a player to think for himself and not becoming a numbers robot.
Play the game, not the numbers.
Jeter will use analytics to some degree, but he is not going to be ruled by analytics.
Remember this, too: Jeter always played with chip on his shoulder, and he will bring that chip, that desire to prove people wrong and his incredible work ethic to the Marlins as head of baseball operations and part-owner after Jeter’s group agreed to purchase the franchise for $1.2 billion Friday.
The Captain will want to do it his way and prove people wrong. He started The Players’ Tribune because he wanted players to have a voice in the media, a new platform without having to rely on traditional media.
In his heart, Jeter wants to run a baseball team that crushes what he views to be over-the-top analytic-based teams.
As simple as it sounds, he wants to bring the game back to the players.
“I think if there is anybody that is equipped to run a team, I think it’s him,’’ CC Sabathia told The Post on Saturday of the future Hall of Famer. “Derek or Alex [Rodriguez]. Jetes is really good at reading through bulls–t in life. Getting the best out of people, getting the best out of players. I don’t know how all that will translate as an owner, but he is really good at that.
“He’s really good at knowing who to have around.’’
Sabathia then cut to the heart of the matter.
“It will interesting to see how he runs it with the sabermetrics,’’ Sabathia said.
Perhaps it will translate this way: Perhaps pitch counts will grow. Perhaps, if a pitcher is throwing a shutout after six innings, maybe the pitcher will go an extra inning. Perhaps it just won’t be a bullpen-by-numbers situation. If a reliever is doing well, maybe he will get an extra out, an extra inning.
Perhaps his team will not shift as much. The 14-time All-Star shortstop was never a big fan of the shift on his way to five World Series rings.
Perhaps everything will not be geared to hitting the home run. There will be room for a batter who inside-outs a pitch the way Jeter was known for as a hitter and his 3,465 hits.
Fundamentals will become vital again, cutoffs, too, and making sure to follow the ball like his famous flip play.
If Jeter is able to do this, the pendulum that has swung in the direction of analytics over this generation will swing a bit back toward scouting, teamwork and finding players who find a way to get the job done.
Yankees third baseman Todd Frazier stood alongside Jeter as a 12-year-old Little League star. As a major leaguer he has watched Jeter grow from star to owner. He knows how Jeter battled on the field and that will be key to his running the Marlins.
“Competition-wise, he played the game,’’ Frazier told The Post. “He understands players. He understands the grind. He might give guys a little more leeway just because he understands what people are going through. At the end of the day I am so happy for him. Just another accolade for him. It’s crazy, he goes from baseball player to owner.
“What’s next for him? Maybe being the President of the United States, we’ll see what happens.”
Derek Jeter is going to do baseball his way, and it is going to be fascinating to watch.
August 14, 2017
Still image taken from a video deposition of Dr. James Mitchell
One of the most important chapters in the war on terror is being rewritten -- with a moral inversion. Islamic terrorists who were arrested and deported have become "liberal causes célèbres", while agents of the CIA who questioned them are not only being condemned but also financially crushed by punishment and legal bills -- for having tried, legally, to save American lives.
Guantanamo Bay has supposedly become "the Gulag of our time"; the psychologists who interrogated the murderer who sawed off Daniel Pearl's head have been charged with working "for money"; the "black sites" in the Polish and Lithuanian forests have been compared to Nazi concentration camps, and the U.S. jurists and officials who conducted the war on terror have been compared to the Germans hanged in Nuremberg.
"In just a few months, Obama had sent the CIA back to the September 10 culture of risk aversion and timidity that had contributed to the disaster of 9/11", Bruce Thornton wrote in his book, The Wages of Appeasement. A few examples of Obama's policy include a directive to release Justice Department memos on the process of vetting interrogation techniques for legality. The attorney general at the time, Eric Holder, appointed a special prosecutor to determine if the CIA officers involved in the interrogation program had been guilty of breaking the law.
A judicial condemnation, however, has begun only now. A federal judge in Spokane, Washington, has opened one of the most important trials in the recent U.S. history. For the first time after September 11, three American citizens involved in interrogating Islamic terrorists have been called to answer to a judge. The New York Times released the video of their testimony. The federal court in Spokane, Washington, heard Bruce Jessen, James Mitchell and Jose Rodriguez testifying on their role in the war on terror. They are among the heroes who prevented another 9/11; now they are on the bench.
"I'll tell you a story," Bruce Jessen testified.
"Two Christmases ago, I get a call from the CIA; my grandchildren and my daughter and son-in-law are living with us. You have 15 minutes to get out of your house because ISIS has found someone to come and kill you and your family... Now, those -- that isn't the only threat I've received over the years, I've received lots of them. And I'm not afraid, and I did my duty and I stood up and I went to war, and I'll stand up to any of them again, but I don't want them messing with my family... And when you stick your face in the public eye, you get people like the SSCI and [Senator Dianne] Feinstein and the ACLU and other people who accuse you of things you didn't do, who out your name, who give them your address, who print articles that are full of crap about you, and it makes it difficult."
Jose Rodriguez, the former head of the CIA clandestine service, told the court what was at stake:
"George Washington did not face an enemy like Al Qaeda. These are people who want to die as martyrs and see the killing of thousands of innocent men, women, and children as justifiable to promote their cause. Making a few of the worst terrorists on the planet uncomfortable for a few days during their first month of imprisonment is worth it in order to save thousands of lives".
John Rizzo also testified. In 2002, when George W. Bush signed the executive order in which he argued that the Geneva Convention does not apply to terrorists, Rizzo was an interim legal advisor. "No, I can't honestly sit here today and say I should have objected to that", Rizzo said.
Now, Judge Justin L Quackenbush of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, cleared the way for the case to move to the trial phase, rejecting the psychologists' lawyers request for summary judgement. "This is a historic day for our clients and all who seek accountability for torture," ACLU attorney Dror Ladin said in a press release. "The court's ruling means that for the first time, individuals responsible for the brutal and unlawful CIA torture program will face meaningful legal accountability for what they did".
These officials should have never be prosecuted in a court; they should be protected from such actions. This prosecution is a betrayal of those who worked hard to prevent more massacres and to cripple the infrastructure of jihad.
Many former CIA directors explained that the program of enhanced interrogation techniques worked extremely well:
"It led to the capture of senior al Qaeda operatives, thereby removing them from the battlefield; it led to the disruption of terrorist plots and prevented mass casualty attacks, saving American and Allied lives; it added enormously to what we knew about al Qaeda as an organization and therefore informed our approaches on how best to attack, thwart and degrade it".
The CIA claimed the demonstrable successes of the interrogation program: the raid in which Osama bin Laden was killed; the capture of José Padilla, accused of wanting to commit an attack in the United States with a dirty radiological bomb; preventing an attack on the US consulate in Karachi, Pakistan; a second wave of attacks after September 11 with a plan to hijack a plane and crash it into Library Tower in Los Angeles.
Jessen and Mitchell are not the only psychologists now in trouble for their involvement in this program. There are also the military psychologist Morgan Banks; Stephen Behnke, a former director of the American Psychological Association's ethics office; Joseph Matarazzo, a former chairperson of the Psychologist Association, who allegedly wrote an opinion for the CIA in which the deprivation of sleep would not constitute "torture".
One of the most important cases of rendition took place in the Italian city of Milan against Abu Omar; the verdict ended by condemning CIA agents. Robert Seldon Lady, the former head of the CIA in Milan, and involved in the Abu Omar case, was arrested and released in Panama. In a rare interview, the Wall Street Journal wrote:
"Mr. Lady, who had planned to retire and become a security consultant from a farm house he bought with his life savings in Italy's Piedmont region, received the stiffest sentence — eight years in prison, increased to nine on appeal. Before the case went to trial, Magistrate Armando Spataro sued to seize Mr. Lady's house and use the proceeds to pay damages to Abu Omar. Mr. Lady fled Italy in 2005 but lost his property. His 30-year marriage, he says, was another casualty".
Sabrina De Sousa, another CIA agent involved in the Milan rendition, avoided the jail only thanks to being pardoned by the Italian authorities.
The European Court of Human Rights has condemned Macedonia for the rendition of a German citizen. The European judges also condemned Poland for hosting one of the CIA's secret sites. Spanish judges opened a criminal file against some senior Bush administration officials, including John Yoo and Jay S. Bybee of the Justice Department, and William Haynes, a former senior Pentagon jurist. John Yoo, now a professor at University of California, Berkeley, wrote the 2003 memorandum authorizing the CIA's interrogation techniques. The German attorney Wolfgang Kaleck filed a criminal complaint against Yoo; Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the Law School at the California University, asked to prosecute Yoo, who was also sued by José Padilla, a convicted American terrorist.
Recently, attorneys of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in Berlin, filed a criminal complaint against Gina Haspel, now the CIA's number-two person under Director Mike Pompeo, and charged her with being involved in directing a secret CIA detention facility near Bangkok, Thailand. Will U.S. officials fear that traveling in Europe might expose them to arrest?
The Wall Street Journal wrote last year, regarding the De Sousa case:
"The threat from terrorism is worse than at any time since 9/11, even as the West has limited its capacity for self-defense... Those who work as spies know the risks from America's enemies, but they shouldn't have to worry about politicized retribution from its friends. Sabrina De Sousa's abandonment by the U.S. government sends a demoralizing message to all who serve in the shadows, even as the war on terror enters a dangerous new phase."
That is the most important lesson: our brave spies and officials involved in the war against Islamic terrorism, like those who prevented another 9/11, now fear not only the wrath of the jihadists, but also the witch hunt of a Western media and judicial system.
As James E. Mitchell said, by prosecuting what the U.S. and the West have done in the war on terror, "we will be standing on the moral high ground, looking down into a smoking hole that used to be several city blocks".
Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.