Tags >> journalism
Jun 21
2010

DNA Privacy

Posted by Bruce Robinson in technology , seniors , rights , politics , policy , medicine , legislation , journalism , healthcare , Health , Congress , California , business , author , aging

Bruce Robinson

It’s hard to imagine anything more personal than the genetic information encoded in your DNA. But it’s only protected by privacy laws some of the time.

The actual status of California’s law protecting genetic information with regard to long term care insurance is currently a bit murky, says health journalist April Lynch. It is generally assumed to have ended, but it seems to have lapsed rather than having been repealed.

As genetic information becomes increasingly available, Lych suggests that consumers will more and more have to make decisions about how much they themselves want to know about it, as well as how much is shared with doctors and insurers.

April Lynch

Jun 14
2010

"Forbidden Creatures"

Posted by Bruce Robinson in wildlife , law enforcement , journalism , investigation , international , government , author , animals

Bruce Robinson

The burgeoning illegal trade in rare and endangered animals isn’t good for them, or their native eco-systems, and it’s often problematic for the people who want to own the creatures.

Who are the people who want to own illegal and sometimes dangerous exotic pets? West County-based journalist Peter Laufer reports that they generally are one of two types.

Another issue that Laufer explores in his book is private, often illegal, breeding farms for endangered animals such as tigers, which raise difficult questions about the future of such species.

Despite the odd characters and sometimes shocking vignettes that are part of Forbidden Creatures, Laufer says he sees it overall as a sort of cautionary tale.

The cover art and other tangible aspects of his book are featured in an essay Laufer contributed to the North Bay Bohemian.

The following is a promotional blurb from the author's website for Forbidden Creatures:

On the heels of his acclaimed The Dangerous World of Butterflies, Peter Laufer chronicled his worldwide quest to penetrate the underworld of international animal smuggling. In Forbidden Creatures, Laufer exposes the network of hunters, traders, breeders, and customers who constitute this nefarious business—which, estimated at $10 to $20 billion annually, competes with illegal drug and weapons trafficking in the money it earns criminals.

Laufer asks: What is being smuggled, from where and why? What is being done to stop the illegal trading and irresponsible breeding? Taking readers to exotic and often lawless locales, Laufer introduces brazen and dangerous traders and wealthy customers whose greed and mindless self-interest perpetuate what is now a crisis of survival for a growing number of wild species.

Woven throughout with riveting stories from law enforcement officials and federal prosecutors, Forbidden Creatures is a compelling, first-person narrative written in Laufer’s hallmark conversational, entertaining style.

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Apr 15
2010

National Priorities Project

Posted by Bruce Robinson in war , technology , research , policy , peace , nonprofit orgs , news , legislation , journalism , government , finances , education , current events , Congress , budget , activism

Bruce Robinson

If you’ve ever wondered just where the taxes you pay actually get used, The National Priorities Project can tell you.

To see where your personal tax payments are going, visit the Tax-Day website hosted by the National Priorities Project. You can also track the war spending totals, and what that money could have funded instead for Sonoma County,  Marin County, or the state of California as a whole. They are far from new to this issue, explains National Priorities Project spokesman Chris Hellman. In fact, they’ve been at it, as an organization, longer than many, maybe even most, members of Congress have been in office.

On the occasion of their 25th anniversary, the Project produced the video below that summarizes their approach and their history.

[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPA0B-ai0D8 360x240]

Over the years, Hellman adds, the Project has tracked budget details for many years. But to keep the information more easily digestable, they don’t try to identify long-term budgetary trends.

Apr 13
2010

Daniel Ellsberg Documentary

Posted by Bruce Robinson in war , speaker , protest , politics , news , media , journalism , jail , international , history , government , events , election , Congress , author , activism

Bruce Robinson

A single significant act of civil disobedience, one that may have changed the course of American history in the 20th century, is chronicled in the new documentary film, The Most Dangerous Man in America.

Daniel Ellsberg (seen here a in 1971 news photograph)  was arrested and faced serious criminal charges for making public the highly classified “Pentagon Papers.” But the case collapsed in a mistrial, when it was revealed that the Nixon administration had interfered in it, initially by engineering a surreptitious burglary of the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist. Looking back on those events now, film-maker Judith Erlich (below)  says, it’s entirely plausible to see Ellsberg as the catalyst for Richard Nixon’s downfall.

Having spent considerable time with Ellsberg over the five years it took to make the film, Erlich says she is convinced and appreciative of the sincerity of his motives, both in 1971 and over the years since.

Daniel Ellsberg was interviewed on the North Bay Report in November, 2006, prior to an appearance in Sebastopol. Here is that archival report.

This is the trailer for The Most Dangerous Man in America, currently showing at the Rialto cinemas Lakeside in Santa Rosa.

[video://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXlmQeSpqI4&feature=player_embedded 360x240]