Cameron Todd Willingham Guilty        
No doubts: Those closest to case shed no tears for Willingham
By Janet Jacobs, Corsicana Daily Sun
published: September 07, 2009 05:08 pm    
 
expired, original link
http://www.corsicanadailysun.com/thewillinghamfiles/local_story_250180658.html  
 
The undeniable facts of the Cameron Todd Willingham case are these:
 
• On Dec. 23, 1991, 2-year-old Amber Louise Kuykendall, and 1-year-old twins Karmon Diane Willingham and Kameron Marie Willingham died in a mid-morning house fire at 1213 W. 11th Ave. in Corsicana.
 
• Willingham, 23, the children’s father, and the only adult home at the time of the fire, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death on Aug. 21, 1992.
 
• After five appeals and 12 years on death row, he was put to death by lethal injection on Feb. 17, 2004.
 
 Everything else is controversial.
 
 Carrying the torch
 
To people opposed to the death penalty under any circumstances, the holy grail is an innocent man who was executed, preferably in Texas, home of the nation’s busiest death row. Some argue Todd Willingham is that innocent man.
 
The latest argument for Willingham’s innocence comes from a report by Craig Beyler, of Hughes Associates in Baltimore, Md., and submitted Aug. 17 to the Texas Forensic Science Commission, a panel formed in 2005 to deal with forensic errors.
 
Beyler was contracted to review the case following a complaint by the Innocence Project. The Innocence Project is best known for using DNA analysis to exonerate wrongly convicted men.
 
The report claims the Texas investigators didn’t understand fire science, and didn’t use modern methods in the Willingham case. Because one of the investigators was with the Texas fire marshal’s office, the marshal’s office will have a chance to respond to Beyler’s findings, and the commission should deliver a verdict next spring.
 
This week, the New Yorker published an article by David Grann which condemns the science and the system which sent a seemingly innocent man to his death. Part of the article is based on Willingham’s relationship with a woman who visited him on death row, and became an amateur sleuth on his behalf. Previous articles questioning the Willingham verdict have also appeared in the Dallas Morning News and the Chicago Tribune.
 
Leaders of the Innocence Project say this is proof of a failed death-penalty system.
 
“There can no longer be any doubt that an innocent person has been executed,” said Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project, in a release. “The question now turns to how we can stop it from happening again.
 
“As long as our system of justice makes mistakes — including the ultimate mistake — we cannot continue executing people,” Scheck stated.
 
In Corsicana, the attempts to make Todd Willingham into a martyr aren’t well-received.
 
“He’s not a poster child for anybody,” said Sgt. Jimmie Hensley of the Corsicana Police Department.
 
First impressions
 
Doug Fogg, a Corsicana firefighter for 31 years, was the first responder to arrive at 1213 W. 11th Ave. in Corsicana that Monday morning. He conducted the local arson investigation.
 
Fogg calls Beyler an “armchair quarterback” and riles at the accusation that Corsicana and state detectives used nothing more than folklore to come to their conclusions.
 
“A lot of this stuff (in Beyler’s report) is misspoken or misinterpreted,” Fogg said.
 
The report accuses state arson investigator Manuel Vasquez, now deceased, of not securing the scene, of missing or mishandling crucial evidence that might have exonerated Willingham, and not using scientific fire analysis.
 
Willingham had a lot of excuses for the fire, Fogg recalled, including that a stranger entered the house and set the fire, that the 2-year-old started it, that a ceiling fan or squirrels in the attic caused an electrical short, or the gas space heaters in the children’s bedroom sparked it.
 
The investigators searched for electrical shorts, but found none; the gas-powered space heaters were off because the family’s gas supply had been cut off at the meter; and “we didn’t find a ceiling fan. Willingham said there was one, but we didn’t find any signs of one,” Fogg said.
 
The other explanations just didn’t add up, Fogg said, adding: “We eliminated all accidental causes.”
 
Evidence of accelerants was found, but Willingham had an excuse for that, too. Willingham told investigators he poured cologne on the children’s floor “because the babies liked the smell,” he blamed a kerosene lamp for any accelerant in the hallway, and said spilled charcoal-lighter fluid happened while he was grilling, Fogg recalled.
 
Fogg agreed that there was a damaged bottle of charcoal lighter fluid on the other end of the porch away from the door, but the grill was in the side yard not on the porch when firefighters arrived. Fogg remembered four empty bottles of charcoal lighter were found just outside the front door.
 
Beyler acknowledges that one sample did have accelerant in it, but said it was unidentified, a claim Fogg disputes.
 
Local investigators didn’t leave the house until midnight, spending over 12 hours sifting through the debris by hand, taking videotape and more than 80 photographs of the scene, cutting up flooring for the lab, bagging and dating each sample and recording where it came from in the house, Fogg said. Samples were contaminated by melted plastic toys, fire-damaged carpet and floor tiles, but it wasn’t because of investigator’s incompetence, Fogg said.
 
Beyler theorized it was a flashover, and said investigators didn’t see the difference between the intense heat of a flashover and an accelerant-driven fire. Fogg laughed at the notion.
 
If it had been a flashover, it would have taken out the thin layer of sheetrock on the walls, he argued.
 
“That house was box construction,” Fogg said. “The only sheetrock that came down was what was hit with water. The paper backing wasn’t even scorched.”
 
As well, the fire damage was worse at the floor level than at the ceilings, which is the opposite of typical fire, Fogg said.
 
“(Beyler) thought we were total idiots,” Fogg said.
 
Beyond the fire
 
Sgt. Jimmie Hensley of the Corsicana Police Department was the lead investigator on the Willingham murder case back in 1992.
 
For Hensley, the most damning evidence came from Willingham, who told officers that 2-year-old Amber woke him up. Firefighters later found her in his bed, with burns on the soles of her feet. Yet, Willingham didn’t take the girl with him when he fled, nor did he receive burns walking down that same hallway, Hensley pointed out.
 
Willingham was taken to the hospital where doctors did a blood-gas analysis on him, a standard test for someone who’s been inside a burning house.
 
“He had no more (carbon monoxide) than somebody who had just smoked a cigarette,” Hensley said.
 
Hensley has since become a certified arson investigator. In hindsight, he insists they took the right steps with the evidence in the Willingham case.
 
“We did everything we were supposed to do,” he said.
 
Hensley also dismisses Beyler’s report, pointing out that Beyler didn’t talk to the investigators, and reading the testimony can’t replace first-person observations.
 
“You can find expert witnesses everywhere, and if you pay them enough they’ll testify to anything,” Hensley said. “They’re to be bought.”
 
Willingham was tried for murder, not arson, and the guilty verdict was based on the whole picture, not just part of it, he said.
 
“You can’t just look at a little part. Look at the whole picture, and that’s what the jury did,” Hensley said. “If a 2-year-old wakes you up and there’s smoke and fire everywhere, aren’t you going to at least get that one out? It couldn’t possibly have happened the way (Willingham) said.”
 
Willingham’s behavior afterwards did not help his case. Todd Morris was the first police officer on the scene and he found Willingham trying to push his car away from the house to save it from the fire, while his children were inside burning up, Hensley said.
 
Dr. Grady Shaw and his team spent an hour at the emergency room trying to resuscitate Amber while next door Willingham complained about his own suffering, Shaw said.
 
“I remember this case very clearly,” Shaw said. “She was in Trauma Room 1, and her father was placed in Trauma Room 2, and only a curtain separated those. He was whining and complaining and crying out for a nurse to help him because of the pain from his extremely minor burns while we were trying to resuscitate this child.”
 
Willingham’s first-degree burns on the backs of his hands and on the back of his neck were the kind that might come from accidentally touching an oven rack, or having a small ember pop up from a campfire, Shaw said.
 
“He was not hurting that bad from these minor burns,” Shaw said. “It was clearly audible what was going on next door, but to hear him doing all that complaining and asking for attention when everybody was trying to save the little girl’s life was grossly inappropriate.”
 
Friends of the family testified that Willingham had beaten his wife in an attempt to abort the pregnancy of the twins, and many people assumed the murder of the children was more of the same, said John Jackson, former district judge and the lead prosecutor of the Willingham case.
 
“We really just believed the children inhibited his lifestyle,” Jackson said.
 
Aftermath
 
Hensley came away deeply disturbed by the case, and he’s angry that anti-death penalty proponents ignore the children’s deaths in trying to make Willingham into a martyr.
 
“In my opinion, justice was served,” Hensley said. “And it’s a shame he couldn’t have died three times, one for each of the little girls.”
 
Alan Bristol, who helped prosecute the case for the district attorney’s office, said Willingham was “one of the most evil people I’ve ever come in contact with in my life.”
 
“The guy was a sociopath,” he said. Willingham refused a polygraph, tortured and killed animals as a child, abused his wife repeatedly, thought more about losing his car than his children, and clearly lied about what happened in the deadly fire, Bristol said.
 
“None of the stories he told us panned out,” Bristol said. “He tried to make himself out to be a big hero, that he tried to go in and save the children, but there was no smoke in his lungs and he had only minor injuries.”
 
Bristol said the science for investigating fires may have changed over the last two decades, but the accelerant was there, and that evidence remains valid.
 
“I don’t have any doubt he did it, or was guilty,” Bristol said. “I think he would have been convicted whether we had the arson evidence or not.”
 
Willingham appealed his case, but the verdict was upheld. In the end, he asked for clemency that never materialized.
 
“The only statement I want to make is that I am an innocent man convicted of a crime I did not commit,” Willingham said in his final moments. “I have been persecuted for 12 years for something I did not do.”
 
The article in the New Yorker quoted Willingham’s protest of innocence as his final words, but Loyd Cook of the Daily Sun was one of three media witnesses at the execution. Willingham’s actual final words were a venom-filled curse at his ex-wife as he attempted an obscene gesture, Cook reported.
 
“I hope you rot in hell, b—,” Willingham said before dying.
 
Stacy Kuykendall, who still lives in Navarro County, said she doesn’t talk about the case anymore. However, she did talk to Cook shortly before Willingham’s execution.
 
She refuted her ex-husband’s attempts to blame Amber, and came to her own conclusions that he killed their daughters. Kuykendall divorced Willingham while he was in prison, and married again. She did not have more children.
 
“Maybe some of the fear of him will leave me, but I’ll never get over what he did to my kids,” she said in 2004.
 
From his seat at the defense table, attorney David Martin’s job was to fight tooth and nail for Willingham. Once it was over, though, Martin became convinced his client was guilty. He dismisses the Beyler report as propaganda from anti-death penalty supporters. 
 
“The Innocence Project is an absolute farce,” Martin said. “It’s a bunch of hype, in my opinion.”
 
The defense team couldn’t locate an arson expert back then willing to say the house fire was accidental.
 
“We never could find anybody that contradicted Vasquez,” Martin said.
 
As for motive, Martin agreed with investigators about Willingham’s character.
 

“He had no conscience,” Martin said. “Why do monsters kill? They like killing.”

          National Best Practices for Sexual Assault Kits: A Multidisciplinary Approach        

In August of 2017, the Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice (NIJ) released a report on National Best Practices for Sexual Assault Kits: A Multidisciplinary Approach. In 2013, the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Report Act (SAFER Act) was passed into law amending the DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination Act of 2000 to provide funds for grants to be administered to laboratories to address the critical need of eliminating the backlog of sexual assault kits, the law requires an establishment of protocols and practices.

In consultation with Federal, State and local law enforcement agencies, and government laboratories, the Department was required to develop and publish a description of protocols and practices to ensure accurate, timely, and effective collection and processing of DNA evidence, including practices specific to sexual assault cases. To that end, NIJ created the SAFER Working Group, which convened to develop protocols and practices to positively improve sexual assault responses and the experiences of victims.

This report, requested by congress, provides 35 of those recommended practices and protocols. For more information on the 35 recommendations and the report, please visit: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/250384.pdf


          Domesticated dogs may have lived along side hunter-gatherers        
New DNA analysis suggests that dogs and wolves split from a common ancestor before humans transitioned to agricultural societies. Dogs and wolves evolved from a common ancestor between 9,000 and 34,000 years ago, before humans transitioned to agricultural societies, according to an analysis of modern dog and wolf genomes from areas of the world thought [&hellip
          DNA Tests Find Subway Chicken Only 50 Percent Meat        
The CBC's investigative consumer show Marketplace ordered the DNA analysis. The sandwich chain unilaterally denies the accusation, with a spokesman calling the claims "absolutely false."
          American dogs originated in Eastern Asia        
DNA analysis taken from a variety of living dogs and compared with the remains of dogs found at archaeological sites in the US have revealed that many American dog breeds actually originated in Asia. Research has challenged the idea that dogs already present in the Americas when Europeans arrived were swamped by animals brought in [&hellip
          Who Is An Indian? Race, Place, and the Politics of Indigeneity in the Americas        
ZA_whoisanindian
“A significant addition to research, Who Is an Indian? provides an extended examination and a clear picture of Indigenous identity issues in the Americas. Among the book’s important contributions are its examination of the site of interface between the modern state and Indigenous peoples, as well as its analysis of how state discourses of identities are interpolated by Indigenous peoples and come to be important sites of tension.” --David Newhouse, Department of Indigenous Studies, Trent University
“Who Is an Indian? makes a strong and distinct contribution to the literature on Indigenous identities. The contributors examine imposed markers of distinctiveness, particularly those racial categories that have often been formulated by experts and imposed by dominant societies. This is a topic that is rife with controversy, but it is handled here with directness and historical acumen.”--Ronald Niezen, Department of Anthropology, McGill University
Who Is An Indian? Race, Place, and the Politics of Indigeneity in the Americas  is my newest edited collection, published by the University of Toronto Press. It completes a trilogy of edited volumes on indigeneity in the Americas that I began in 2006 with Indigenous Resurgence in the Contemporary Caribbean: Amerindian Survival and Revival, and in 2010 with the publication of Indigenous Cosmopolitans: Transnational and Transcultural Indigeneity in the Twenty-First Century.

About this Book

Who is an Indian? This is possibly the oldest question facing Indigenous Peoples across the Americas, and one with significant implications for decisions relating to resource distribution, conflicts over who gets to live where and for how long, and clashing principles of governance and law. For centuries, the dominant views on this issue have been strongly shaped by ideas of both race and place. But just as important, who is permitted to ask, and answer this question?
This collection examines the changing roles of race and place in the politics of defining Indigenous identities in the Americas. Drawing on case studies of Indigenous communities across North America, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, it is a rare volume to compare Indigenous experience throughout the western hemisphere. The contributors question the vocabulary, legal mechanisms, and applications of science in constructing the identities of Indigenous populations, and consider ideas of nation, land, and tradition in moving indigeneity beyond race.

Genesis of the Project

This latest volume is probably the longest I have worked on any one publication project. It first began to take shape in 2006, as an effort exclusively focused on race, motivated by recognition of the fact that there were no volumes, treating the Americas as a whole, that compared and contrasted different ideas and applications of race in the definition of Indigenous identity. This was the basis for the first symposium in 2006, “Indigeneity and Race: ‘Blood Politics’ and the ‘Nature’ of Indigenous Identity,” organized under the auspices of the Canadian Anthropology Society’s annual conference, held at Concordia University on May 13, 2006. The same theme carried over into a following seminar, “Who Is an Indian? Race, Blood, DNA, and the Politics of Indigeneity in the Americas” involving 14 participants and hosted at the Clarion Hotel in Montreal, August 2-5, 2007, with the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. However, as a result of the discussions held at the second symposium, we came to the realization that race alone could not be the exclusive subject of our concerns in addressing who people have historically answered the question, “who is an Indian.” The role of place, land, and territoriality, and resistance to neoliberalism, figured prominently in a number of the papers to the extent that we concluded that both race and place should be our dual, framing concepts.

The original impetus for this project came from a very particular context of concern. My research in the Caribbean alerted me to the extent to which notions of “purity,” “blood,” and lately even DNA analysis came to figure prominently not just as ways of ascribing Indigenous identities, but also as means of claiming them in light of widespread, categorical assertions by colonial rulers and scholars that these peoples had vanished. To my surprise, similar politics of identity were being instituted in North America—indeed, the interest in DNA studies had spread from the U.S. to the Caribbean, and in North America as well I found a concern with blood, purity, and the stigma faced by “Black Indians” who were being rejected as claimants to Cherokee citizenship. In Canada, First Nations residents carry cards indicating what degree of Indigenous “blood” they possess. Also in Canada, I repeatedly hear Euro-Canadians refer to this or that Aboriginal figure as “not a real Indian…he looks white”. (I had encountered similar purist prejudices during my years in Australia, directed at some of the most prominent Aboriginal activists who, phenotypically and superficially appeared to be “mixed” if not “almost white”.) If race, blood, and DNA were so prevalent, could we find similar concerns spread out across all of the Americas? If so, why? If not, why not? Are race, blood, and DNA essentially the same thing? These were the very first, seemingly very simple questions that led to the emergence of this project.

Taking together all stages of this project, it included a total of as many as 21 scholars from across the Americas and from across the disciplines, only some of whom appear in this volume. In particular I would like to thank and acknowledge the advice, support, varying degrees of participation and interest, and correspondence of individuals who were involved at different stages of the project, including: Kimberly Tallbear, José Barreiro, Phil Bellfy, Marisol de la Cadena, Alice and Dennis Bartels, and the late Melissa Meyer who sadly for us passed away mid-way through the development of this project. We also benefited from the participation of Indigenous scholars, who comprised half the number of participants in the overall project. With an immense amount of research and writing taking place in the U.S., there was often a tendency to have greater American representation, more than Canadian, Latin American, and least of all, from the Caribbean. The result of this struggle, the constant revision and reinterpretation, we hope will offer some critical insights into the processes of making “race” out of (or against) Indigenous identity and the role of “place” in debates about Indigenous identity. The final product strikes some geographic balance, with two chapters on Canadian cases, two dealing with American Indians, two focused on Central America and the Caribbean, and two pertaining to South America.

What about DNA Testing?

The previous concern with DNA, represented by as many as four participants early on in the project, largely diminished and then vanished altogether, especially when we no longer had the same participants as in earlier stages of the project. This is not to say that DNA debates are absent in the volume as a whole, but rather that they no longer structure the volume as a leading focus, which in any case would be more relevant to the North American situation than elsewhere. Yet even that is not entirely accurate, as the use of DNA testing to determine Indigenous ancestry has traveled to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and to my great surprise to the very community I studied for four years in Trinidad & Tobago, as the result of the work a team from the Molecular Anthropology lab at Pennsylvania State University and the National Geographic Genographic Project. In the past, similar studies have also been conducted among the Garifuna in Central America and recently in St. Vincent & the Grenadines, in the latter case again by the Penn State team.

Sidebar on U.S. "Science": DNA Testing for Indigeneity Comes to Trinidad
DNA testing comes in for severe questioning and criticism in the volume, and I would also add here to my public objections to the DNA research done in Trinidad. Aside from the more than just questionable merits of using genetics to prove cultural identities and political constructs such as tribal affiliations, I also pointed out that, "given the harvesting of biometric data by U.S. universities with research ties to the Pentagon, there is always the risk that this information could be put to uses of which the Caribs are unaware." Indeed, one of the researchers involved in the Trinidad DNA study, Jada Benn-Torres, from a military family, has conducted research in the field funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. I cannot see any reasonable purpose for conducting the study in Trinidad, as the local Carib community has been officially recognized for decades, and is not possessed by any self-doubts of their identity. Indeed, not all of the Caribs in Arima chose to participate in the study, which raises more questions about the extent to which those examined are representative of the community as a whole, and thus places in doubt even the basic scientific merits of the study. What has also not been made known is what is the ultimate purpose of the research, where the information is stored and for how long, and who has access to the database.

The Historical Importance of a Bad Question

The collaboration that produced this volume through much iteration has been focused on what is arguably one of the worst questions to be posed to or against Indigenous Peoples ("Who is an Indian?"), one that ultimately calls on them to give an account of themselves, for being who they are in the light of foreign invasions and occupations. It’s as if being who they are is a problem, and furthermore, it is a problem that they caused. Worse yet, they may not even be who they think they are.

As with all bad questions, one can expect to get a lot of bad answers. So why address such a question, going as far as making it the leading question of this project? The answer is simple: the question, however one may assess its epistemological qualities, is a politically important question (the most important perhaps), an institutionalized question, a governing question that structures people’s lives, their access to resources, and even their self-perceptions. It is also a key historical question, one that continues to be asked repeatedly, and one that will inevitably lose relevance. That this question has been raised across the Americas, in different forms (substituting, as the case may be, any number of cognate or tribal labels in the place of “Indian”), is due to a shared history of colonization and state-building and the dominance of European theories of citizenship, nationhood, race, and identity. Here we can start to look beyond the constraints and limitations of that question and in seeing past the constraints imposed today by states.

It was not the intention of the contributors of the volume to either advance academic expertise as the ultimate arbiter of Indigenous identities, to provide an easy-to-follow menu for “accurately determining” who is Indigenous, or to provide advice that caters to the functioning of government bureaucracies and their micro-management of Indigenous affairs. Our greater concern was with the politics that work to preserve the dominance of a “bad question,” a very “bad” and yet historically very important question: “Who is an Indian”? Our hope is that readers will come away from this effort with a determination to ask better questions—better in the sense of being more analytically productive and with implications that are more socially just and fair. Among the questions we would like to see posed are those that posit indigeneity as a historically specific type of relationality, that involve issues of power and affectivity, without searching for the elusive “one size fits all” solution. If, however, we overcame the stigmatization of being Indigenous only to then treat it as a category implying “privilege” and uniquely demanding “proof” of belonging, then we will not have gone far past the point of endorsing extinction.

Setting the Stage: Some Opening Quotes to Remember

“When they get off the boat, they didn’t recognize us. They said: ‘Who are you?’ And we said: ‘We’re the People, we’re the Human Beings,’ and they said: ‘Oh Indians,’ because they didn’t recognize what it meant to be a human being. ‘I’m a Human Being, this is the name of my tribe, this is the name of my people, but I’m a human being.’ But the predatory mentality shows up and starts calling us ‘Indians’ and committing genocide against us as a vehicle of erasing the memory of being a human being….Even in our own communities, how many of us are fighting to protect our identity of being an Indian, and 600 years ago that word, ‘Indian,’ that sound was never made in this hemisphere—that sound [‘Indian’], that noise, was never ever made! Ever. We’re trying to protect that as an identity, see, so it affects all of us”. —John Trudell, Lakota poet and activist. 
“It is one of the many ironies of the American experience that the invaders created the category of Indians, imposed it on the inhabitants of the New World, and have been trying to abolish it ever since”. —David Maybury-Lewis, co-founder of Cultural Survival. 
“There’s tremendous racism in Peru. In Lima, brown people, the descendants of Indigenous people, try to live as white as possible. That’s because of the influence of the media and government. If you embrace your Indian-ness, you’re shunned. You’re less than a third-class person. It’s an insult to call someone an Indian. It’s the equivalent of calling someone stupid”. —Benjamin Bratt, actor. 
“The question of my identity often comes up. I think I must be a mixed blood. I claim to be male, although only one of my parents is male”. 
—Jimmie Durham, Cherokee artist. “What does part Indian mean? (Which part?)….you don’t get 50% or 25% or 16% treatment when you experience racism—it is always l00%”. —Joane Cardinal-Schubert.

Contents

Preface, pages vii-ix

Introduction: “Who Is an Indian?” The Cultural Politics of a Bad Question, pages 3-51 Maximilian C. Forte (Concordia University, Sociology and Anthropology)


In this chapter I discuss the genesis, multiple meaning and historical applications of this "bad question," across the Americas. In the process I also defend the thesis that the Americas as a whole serve as the appropriate unit for analysis in understanding the colonial, "scientific," ideological, and (geo)political efforts to define Indigenous identities. While I outline how the racialization of indigeneity spread across imperial domains in the Americas, I also examine the centrality of place, of territoriality, and how place also intersects race. I discuss the emergence of "Indian" as a racial construct, and from there I proceed to build the larger theoretical and analytical narrative which the various chapters help to form. Who is the "real Indian" and issues of "race mixture" and the impact of slavery and the plantation system in North and South America and the Caribbean forms one level of analysis. Another has to do with kinship and science, with blood, DNA, and how these relate to ideas of "race purity." Going beyond "blood quantum" and race, I provide some context and the wider debate around the critically important contribution by Julia Coates in this volume, on the always timely issue of the Freedmen and the Cherokee Nation. Debates around self-identification, and tribal politics, progress toward a discussion of the many cases of "Indian non-Indians" and "Non-Indian Indians". Finally I end with an overview of the problems involved with "recognition", with some discussion of the geopolitics of recognition and then, pointing toward the Conclusion, looking beyond the politics of recognition.

Chapter One Inuitness and Territoriality in Canada, pages 53-70 Donna Patrick (Carleton University, Sociology and Anthropology and the School of Canadian Studies)


“The question of who counts as Aboriginal [in Canada],” explains Donna Patrick (this volume), “has long been linked to the question of who owns traditional Aboriginal lands”. Patrick’s chapter explores “the question of categorizing Indigeneity in Canada by examining the linguistic, political, and judicial processes associated with the notions of territory, ancestry, and belonging that shape Indigeneity today,” with a focus on the Inuit in Canada, situated within a broader analysis of Aboriginal identity in Canada. “Inuitness” in Canada, as Patrick tells us, followed a different trajectory from that of First Nations, in that the construction of Inuit identity has been guided not just by state policy but by Inuit attachments to both land and language. In Patrick’s chapter we learn that for the Inuit “the notion of ‘territoriality’ operates together with the notion of ancestry” in shaping the identities of Inuit living in urban centres of the Canadian South as much as those living in the Arctic. Donna Patrick observes that Indigenous ideas of identity in early colonial Canada “had little to do with race, biology, or ethnicity” and that Indigenous Peoples in fact demonstrated in practice that they were guided by a “notion of inclusivity” whose existence “has been supported by numerous accounts of Euro-American settlers and soldiers being accepted and adopted into First Nations groups”. While Patrick argues that we do not see in Canada a dominant discourse about the bio-politics of Indigenous identities to the same extent that we find in the U.S., she admits that a “‘covert’ or de facto blood quantum” has been part of policies governing Aboriginal, and in particular First Nations, peoples.

Chapter Two Federally-Unrecognized Indigenous Communities in Canadian Contexts, pages 71-91 Bonita Lawrence (York University, Equity Studies)


In her chapter Bonita Lawrence points out the cases of First Nations that span the Canada-U.S. border, where for example “the Passamaquoddy Nation of New Brunswick, or the Sinixt Nation, in British Columbia, have federal recognition in the United States but not in Canada,” which underscores the arbitrary, shifting, and inconsistent standards used by states to “appraise” indigeneity, as Lawrence argues. Bonita Lawrence explores identity issues among two federally-unrecognized groups—the Algonquins of Eastern Ontario and the Mi’kmaqs of Newfoundland—which have been the subject of her research for the last decade, providing a window into how the Canadian state produces unrecognized Aboriginals. As she explains, “most federally-unrecognized bands or nations are created by the nature of the treaty process itself,” while other bands are federally-unrecognized “because Canada has refused to honour historic relationships or has disregarded the traditional boundaries of Indigenous nations”. The primary means for such communities to gain federal recognition, to legally become Aboriginal again, is to assert Aboriginal title through the courts (if there is a treaty governing particular territory), or as Lawrence outlines in her chapter, “to take part in the comprehensive claims process if no treaty has been signed in the territory”. Otherwise, federally-unrecognized Indigenous peoples are “incorporated simply as ‘citizens’ within the wider nation-state dominated by settlers”.

Chapter Three The Canary in the Coalmine: What Sociology Can Learn from Ethnic Identity Debates among American Indians, pages 92-123 Eva Marie Garroutte (Boston College, Sociology) and C. Matthew Snipp (Stanford University, Sociology)


Eva Marie Garroutte and Matthew Snipp in their chapter in this volume titled, “The Canary in the Coalmine: What Sociology Can Learn from Ethnic Identity Debates among American Indians,” devote considerable attention to debating the racialization of indigeneity. As just one example of the kinds of interests vested in the non-recognition of “mixed” American Indians, Garroutte and Snipp point to Donald Trump: as a competitor against the newly recognized Pequots, and their plans to open a casino, he produced a definition of “who is an Indian” in phenotypical terms: “they don’t look like Indians to me. They don’t look like Indians to Indians,” injecting his racial bias by further calling them “Michael Jordan Indians”. This is useful in showing how ultimately one of the most common ways of assigning Indigenous identity in the Americas is focused on appearance, and where racial discourses prevail, a specific type of appearance: phenotype. Garroutte and Snipp  also discuss some of the additional, problematic conceptual issues raised by the quantification of identity, which can apply to both genetic testing and blood quantum. Quantification establishes distance as a prerequisite for measurement, “with the corollary that, at some point, individuals’ connection to American Indian forebears becomes exhausted”. Quantification of identity presupposes distance, and tends toward disappearance. It raises physical standards about ideational and subjective identities, even as it creates new subjectivities around the use of scientific resources. The right to measure involves a power to erase, just as the power to speak for Indigenous peoples, and to assign their identities, is the power to silence them, permanently. The two case studies at the focus of their chapter, the Mashantucket Pequots and Kennewick Man, make for highly engaging and illuminating reading.

Chapter Four “This Sovereignty Thing”: Nationality, Blood, and the Cherokee Resurgence, pages 124-150 Julia Coates (University of California Davis, Native American Studies)


Julia Coates strongly and productively challenges a number of prominent, published perspectives that have been critical of definitions of Cherokee identity by the Tribal Nation’s government. Coates argues that legal definitions are often overlooked in discussions of indigeneity, while race and culture gain greater attention. Yet, as she explains, many tribal governments in the U.S. regard legal definitions, not as artificially imposed from external colonizing institutions, but as internally achieved definitions of nationality and their sovereign statuses. While the Cherokee Nation’s lack of cultural requirements are frequently not understood by non-Indians and derided by other tribal nations, the Cherokee Nation has continued to assert that nationality derived from their specific history of tribal citizenship is a more inclusive category for contemporary times than race or cultural markers. This is almost a reversal of arguments criticizing the Tribal Nation’s exclusion of certain persons. Based on interviews with what Coates calls “a particularly challenging group of Cherokee nationals,” the 60 percent of the citizenry living outside the tribal core in northeastern Oklahoma, her chapter examines the potential of nationality as a basis for self-identification for those in the Cherokee diaspora, and the role the concept of citizen plays in the contemporary Cherokee resurgence. Coates points to problems with a debate that “focuses on identity construction as located in race, heritage, DNA, and cultural attributes and expressions” and that leave out law and sovereignty. She says that one reason why the cultural, racial, and ethnic aspects of identity may be the primary sites for investigation and discussion, for many Indigenous Peoples is the fact that many of them are not formally organized into nominally sovereign political entities with an internal jurisdiction. Speaking of academics, Coates suggest that one reason most academics seem to differ from tribal governments’ rigid determinations of citizenship, is that academics tend to be more inclusive in their view of who is an American Indian, not wanting to serve as identity police and imposing definitions of Indigenous identity on Natives. Her emphasis is on nationality as a potential for retention and resurgence (or what some call resilience), rather than simply acting as a colonialist mechanism of control and exclusion.

Chapter Five Locating Identity: The Role of Place in Costa Rican Chorotega Identity, pages 151-171 Karen Stocker (California State University, Anthropology)


Designating a special place as the locus of persons with an Indigenous identity can be a way for an assimilationist state, one that historically rejected the Indigenous presence as in the case of Costa Rica, to create the illusion that indigeneity is minimal and marginal. As Karen Stocker explains in her chapter in this volume, in Chorotega some residents of what later became the reservation opposed reservation status given their “tremendous resentment at being the only community in the region officially designated as Indigenous when the whole area had Indigenous roots, and aversion to the stigma attached to Indigenous identity in a country that often projected an image of whiteness and European heritage”. The Costa Rican government’s imposition of an Indigenous identity on residents of Chorotega was a convenient way of removing that label from everyone else who resided outside of that particular place, using the assigned indigeneity of some to reassure others of their Europeanness. Karen Stocker’s chapter, based on ethnographic research carried out between 1993 and 2007, addresses how various residents of the Chorotega reservation, those who live just outside the reservation, scholars, legal discourse, historical discourse, those who have resided or studied in other Costa Rican reservations and, more recently, the tourism industry have “defined Indigenous identity in contradictory ways, and in manners that have had varying consequences for those labeled as Chorotega in Costa Rica”. She addresses the history and impact of these multiple competing definitions. Stocker traces the ways in which “one set of customs has gone from Indigenous to non-Indigenous, national custom, and back again, as a result of the shifting of discourses around it”. Stocker spotlights what she finds to be “a common thread through all of these definitions and interpretations of indigeneity,” and that is “the role of place, and how the same concept that mired inhabitants of the Chorotega reservation in discrimination now serves to authenticate its practices”.

Chapter Six Carib Identity, Racial Politics, and the Problem of Indigenous Recognition in Trinidad and Tobago, pages 172-193 Maximilian C. Forte (Concordia University, Anthropology)


My own chapter in this volume, based on four years of ethnographic research and ethnohistoric research dating to early colonial times, shares some features similar to both those by Donna Patrick and Karen Stocker. On the one hand, the state’s recognition of only one single, organized Indigenous community in just one of Trinidad’s 16 former mission towns—the Santa Rosa Carib Community in Arima, on the island of Trinidad—makes it seem, however implausibly, that indigeneity was somehow contained and delimited (which instead reflects the state’s bias in how indigeneity ought to be controlled and secluded). On the other hand, in articulating their own indigenous identity, members of the Carib Community point to a multitude of factors, beyond but including race, to include a history of residence in Arima. The structure of this chapter follows three basic lines of argument: first, that the political economy of the British colony dictated and cemented racializations of identity. Second, the process of ascribing Indigenous identities to individuals was governed by the economic rights attached to residents of missions, rights which were cut off from any miscegenated offspring. There were thus political and economic interests vested in the non-recognition of Caribs, and race provided the most convenient justification—a justification that took the form of a narrative of extinction. Third, over a century later, while racial notions of identity persist, current Carib self-identifications stress indigeneity as a cultural heritage, an attachment to place, a body of practices, and recognition of ancestral ties that often circumvent explicitly racial schemes of self-definition. State recognition of the Caribs occurs within this historical and cultural context, and therefore imposes limits and conditions that simultaneously create new forms of non-recognition.

Chapter Seven Encountering Indigeneity: The International Funding of Indigeneity in Peru, pages 194-217 José Antonio Lucero (University of Washington, The Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies)


As José Antonio Lucero explains in this volume, “blood” is already incorporated in national ideologies of race-mixture, and is not specific and particular enough to be used as part of the regimes of identifying the Indigenous. As Lucero adds, “in a region where ‘everyone’ has native blood, but not everyone is ‘Indian’ the social category and social fact of Indianness rely, necessarily, less on biology or blood than on the intersecting socio-cultural workings of politics, language, place, class, and gender”. More specifically, Lucero's chapter takes the work of Oxfam America as the focus of his case study, as it has been among “the earliest funders of Indigenous activism”. His chapter examines two different moments in the interactive process of legitimation between organizations such as Oxfam America and Indigenous political organizations in Peru, “as actors on both sides of the development encounter shape discourses over the meanings of development and indigeneity across local and global scales”. The “geopolitics of recognition” is what Lucero conceptualizes as regimes of indigeneity that span local, national and global scales. Lucero discusses how Indigenous people throughout the Americas (and beyond) have often found it inevitable, and sometimes useful, to engage a variety of legal, economic, and political systems. “Since the first contacts with missionaries,” he writes, “the state, and agents of global capital, Indigenous people have found that new systems of domination are not without points of entry within which they can contest the very terms of domination,” and in the present context, “the rising importance of non-state actors in the wake of aggressive neoliberal economic reforms (which shrank already weak states) provided an additional set of opportunities that Indigenous people have been able to use” (Lucero, this volume). However, one of the problems for Indigenous actors bound in relationships with external agencies is that the reconstruction of indigeneity that results is often Janus-faced, where “some discourses are for external consumption and have little to do with the lived ‘social fact’ of indigeneity at the local level”.

Chapter Eight The Color of Race: Indians and Progress in a Center-Left Brazil, pages 218-223 Jonathan Warren (University of Washington, International Studies, Chair of Latin American Studies)


Jonathan Warren begins by telling us that "since the 1990s a large number of Brazilian Indigenous communities have been federally recognized, successfully acquired land, established their own schools, and achieved a higher degree of autonomy and self-determination. Furthermore, anti-Indian violence is no longer condoned by the Brazilian government; racism has been officially acknowledged; race-cognizant government policies, such as affirmative action, have replaced race-neutral ones; and a number of antiracist commissions and initiatives have been established at federal, state and municipal levels. Finally, the first centre-left politicians in Brazilian history, Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva (2003–2010) and Dilma Rousseff (2011–present), both of the Workers’ Party, have controlled the executive branch of government for almost a decade. Given these substantial changes, one could be forgiven for expecting a positive report on the state of Indigenous affairs in contemporary Brazil. Unfortunately, the outlook is rather dim. Perhaps most surprising is that many of the culprits are from the centre-left, namely the Workers’ Party, social scientists, and sectors of the movimento negro". Jonathan Warren’s chapter reveals to us that in Brazil, the racial question, and thus conceptions of antiracism—like much of “critical race studies,” he adds—simply removes the Indian from analysis, as if Indian subjectivities were entirely irrelevant. A key example of how this has occurred in critical race studies comes from Howard Winant’s very own analysis of racism in Brazil, which singles out Africans. This is odd, as Warren finds, given that as many as a third of Brazilians have some Indian ancestry. As Warren explains in this volume, Brazilian Indians are removed from the racial question in Brazil: “race is reduced to a question of blackness”. Indeed, throughout Latin America, Warren sees that Indigenous peoples are “not considered germane to race matters,” and quoting Peter Wade he adds: “the virtually unquestioned assumptions [prevails] that the study of blacks is one of racism and race relations, while the study of Indians is that of ethnicity and ethnic groups”. Warren also shows that phenotype is present in Brazilian estimations of “authentic” and “real” Indigenous identities, with those who have African and European features routinely dismissed as “racial charlatans,” in ways that echo experiences both in the U.S. and the Caribbean. Warren’s chapter is critical to this volume’s contention that race is a problem that needs to be studied in connection with indigeneity, not apart from it. His argument is critical not only for developing critical race studies, but also for political practice: the antiracist movement in Brazil cannot be just a Black movement.

ConclusionSeeing Beyond the State and Thinking beyond the State of Sight, pages 234-241 Maximilian C. Forte (Concordia University, Sociology and Anthropology)


Rather than restating or summarizing the contents of this volume, the Conclusion helps to sketch some of the ways in which critical Indigenous perspectives have sought to develop alternative ideas and practices of indigeneity and indigenization. In a hemisphere which sees, in most cases, Indigenous Peoples moving to cities, and an increased decoupling of indigeneity and territoriality, along with the incursion of the industrialization of ethnic ascription--the commerce in genetic identities--these issues become especially important. The volume closes with a sharp reminder of why "Who is an Indian?" is a bad question that produces even worse answers, and what our task as intellectuals ought to be when confronted with such questions.

Contributors, pages 243-246
Index, pages 247-254

A Little About the Contributors

Julia M. Coates (Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah, Oklahoma) is presently at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her title is Senior Writer/ Oral Interviewer in American Indian History for the Center for Oral History Research of the Charles Young Research Library. At the time of writing she was an assistant professor in the Department of Native American Studies at the University of California, Davis. Her research interests cover Native American diasporas, history, identity, women, and politics. She has conducted participant-observation fieldwork with hundreds of Cherokee citizens in California, Texas, and New Mexico. Coates also helped to form numerous Cherokee community organizations throughout California and in other states. For over six years, she was the project director and lead instructor for the award-winning Cherokee Nation history course, which brought her into personal contact with most of the employees of the Cherokee Nation, along with thousands of Cherokees in northeastern Oklahoma communities and throughout the country. She also serves on the Tribal Council of the Cherokee Nation as its “At Large” representative. At UC Davis she teaches the Introduction to Native American Studies as well as classes on race, women, development and history within Native America.

Eva Marie Garroutte (Cherokee Nation) is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at Boston College. She has a background of research and publication related to the study of Native American issues, health and aging, racial/ethnic identity, and religion. She is the author of the influential book Real Indians: Identity and the Survival of Native America (University of California Press) and various articles in sociological and health-related journals. In collaboration with Cherokee Nation Health Services, she has conducted a series of research projects funded by the National Institute on Aging to examine medical communication needs among American Indian elders using tribal clinics. Her current service on editorial advisory boards includes the Journal of Native Aging and Health, American Indian Quarterly, and the University of Arizona Press series Critical Issues in Indigenous Studies. She is a past Area Commissioner of Indian Affairs in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Bonita Lawrence (Mi’kmaw) is an associate professor at the School of Social Sciences of the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies at York University in Toronto, Canada, where she teaches Indigenous Studies and anti-racism. Her research and publications have focused primarily on urban, non-status, and Métis identities, federally unrecognized Aboriginal communities, and Indigenous justice. She is the author of “Real” Indians and Others: Mixed-Blood Urban Native People and Indigenous Nationhood (UBC Press), and co-editor of Strong Women’s Stories: Native Vision and Community Survival, a collection of Native women’s scholarly and activist writing (Sumach Press). She is a traditional singer who sings with groups in Kingston and Toronto at Native social and political gatherings.

José Antonio Lucero is an assistant professor in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is the author of Struggles of Voice: The Politics of Indigenous Representation in the Andes (University of Pittsburgh Press) and the editor of Beyond the Lost Decade: Indigenous Movements, Democracy, and Development in Latin America (Princeton University Program in Latin American Studies). He teaches courses on government, politics, and social movements in Latin America, among others. His research interests focus on comparative politics, Latin American politics, democratization, social movements, and the politics of race and ethnicity.

Donna Patrick is professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the School of Canadian Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Her current SSHRC-funded research focuses on multiliteracies, identity, and community-building among urban Inuit in Ottawa. Her other interests lie in the broader area of Indigeneity and urban Aboriginality in Canada, as well as in the political, social, and cultural aspects of language use, with a focus on language endangerment discourse and Aboriginal languages in Canada. Her 2003 book, Language Politics and Social Interaction in an Inuit Community (Mouton de Gruyter), examines these issues in Arctic Quebec. She teaches courses in language, culture, and power and in Aboriginal and northern issues, with a focus on the Arctic. In teaching and research, Donna approaches the study of Aboriginal issues, language, and discourse through an interdisciplinary lens, focusing on historical, geographical, and social processes.

C. Matthew Snipp is a professor in the Department of Sociology at Stanford University where, among other positions, he has been the director of the Center for Comparative Studies of Race and Ethnicity. He teaches courses in contemporary and historical American Indian Studies as well as rural sociology. He is the author of American Indians: The First of the Land (The Russell Sage Foundation, New York), which was selected as an academic book of the year by CHOICE.

Karen Stocker is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at California State University, Fullerton. She is a scholar of applied anthropology with interests in education, the social constructions of race and ethnicity, language, and Latin American ethnography. She is the author of “I Won’t Stay Indian, I’ll Keep Studying”: Race, Place and Discrimination in a Costa Rican High School (Colorado University Press).

Jonathan W. Warren is an associate professor in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle, where he is also the director of the Latin American and Caribbean Contributors Studies Program. Within the broad area of critical race studies he has focused on Whiteness, racism literacy, racial identity formations, and the links between everyday practices and racism in the U.S. and Brazil. He is the author of the highly regarded book Racial Revolutions: Antiracism and Indian Resurgence in Brazil (Duke University Press).

...and myself.

          Reliance Appoint Life Sciences Business Development Executive         

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          A PICTURE OF MONKEY BUSINESS - OR, HOW A SMALL FURRY PET BECAME A GIANT MYSTERY APE. PART 2: THE TRUE HISTORY OF AMERANTHROPOIDES LOYSI        

The uncropped version of Dr François de Loys's photograph of the supposed South American ape Ameranthropoides loysi – one of the most controversial cryptozoological images of all time (public domain)

Welcome to my 600th post on ShukerNature! Befitting of such a momentous occasion, the subject documented by me in this post is of profound cryptozoological significance – revealing how one of the most infamous mystery beast frauds of all time was finally exposed. In Part 1 (click here) of this two-part ShukerNature article, I documented the 'official' history of a truly extraordinary mystery creature - a supposedly genuine, tailless, bipedal South American ape, reputedly encountered and killed in the Venezuelan jungle almost exactly a century ago by a team of geologists led by one Dr François de Loys, and subsequently dubbed Ameranthropoides loysi ('Loys's American ape') by a radical French zoologist called Prof. George Montandon who held very extreme, controversial views concerning human evolution. Now it's time to document this creature's true history, by presenting the crucial yet all-too-long-overlooked information that conclusively exposed the entire Ameranthropoides episode as a blatant, deliberate hoax.

The 'official' history of Ameranthropoides loysi began to unravel on 16 July 1962. This was when the Caracas, Venezuela, newspaper El Universal's historian Guillermo José Schael published in the paper a telegram lately received from the village of Casigua, in the Tarra River region of Venezuela, concerning a supposed giant spider that had allegedly strangled to death a ranch worker named Juancho. Not surprisingly, this dramatic news attracted considerable interest from readers, and elicited a letter from a hunter named Jerónimo Martínez-Mendoza, which was published on 17 July by El Universal.

In it, Martínez-Mendoza suggested that the report was mistaken, that it had probably been a giant spider monkey which had attacked and killed Juancho, and he drew comparisons in his letter with the Ameranthropoides incident. This letter was in turn read by Dr Enrique Tejera Guevara (1899-1980), a Venezuelan-born friend of de Loys in the field (as well as a decorated tropical physician and pathologist, ambassador, and minister in the Venezuelan government), who lost no time in replying via a letter of his own, but which contained a truly sensational disclosure.

Enrique Tejera Guevara (Wikipedia CC BY 4.0 licence)

Published in El Universal on 19 July 1962, Dr Tejera's letter revealed that back on 11 March 1929 (mistakenly given as 1919 in the newspaper-published version of his letter) he had attended a lecture at the Academy of Sciences in Paris, France, given by Montandon concerning Ameranthropoides, but that he had been very surprised to hear Montandon's claims about the creature being a very tall, bipedal, tailless South American ape. Consequently, at the end of the lecture Tejera had stood up, and, to a hushed audience, had brusquely dismissed Montandon's claims as nonsense.

Tejera informed them that he had actually been in the company of de Loys in 1917 when the famous encounter with the two apes and the shooting of one of them had supposedly taken place – but affirmed that no such encounter or shooting had in fact occurred. Instead, the creature in the photograph was nothing more than de Loys's own normal-sized pet marimonda spider monkey, which he had dubbed 'the monkey-man', and whose tail had been amputated after it had become infected. Moreover, after his pet spider monkey had later died, and again in the presence of Tejera, de Loys had decided, as a joke, to take a photo of its body propped upright and sitting on a crate.

And as the climax of his dramatic exposé, Tejera proclaimed that it was this joke picture that had subsequently become known as the now-infamous Ameranthropoides'ape' photograph, thanks to Montandon, and which with Frankensteinian vigour had swiftly raged out of its creator's control - until in order to preserve his reputation as a serious scientist, a highly embarrassed de Loys, seeing no way of extricating himself from this most unwelcome situation without looking very foolish indeed, had thereby found himself unable to confess the truth.

Banana trees (public domain)

But that was not all. Far from being in an area of wild, uncharted jungle in peril from attacks by Motilone Indians at the time when the photograph was taken as claimed by de Loys, he and his party were actually in an oil exploration camp very close to civilisation. Furthermore, there was vital, conclusive proof of this statement contained in the uncropped version of the Ameranthropoides photograph, yet which had been overlooked by everyone for decades, even after Tejera's earth-shattering announcement in front of a shocked and stunned Montandon back in 1929.

The proof was the presence in this picture of a banana crop on the opposite side of the river from where the dead spider monkey was propped up and photographed. Banana trees are of Asian and Australasian origin, they are not native to the New World, having been introduced there by humans, and they can only grow near civilisation, not in the wild jungle region of South America where de Loys had averred that the photograph had been snapped. So the presence of banana trees in that picture verified that it had been snapped in the former location, not in the latter one that de Loys had alleged. This in turn also negates a claim made by him that whilst supposedly in the remote jungle, no fewer than 17 of his men had died due to the inhospitable conditions and the hostile Motilone Indians (in reality, there is no independent confirmation of this). In addition, Tejera revealed that rather than de Loys having led a single 4-year expedition to the Tarra River region as so frequently claimed in subsequent accounts of the Ameranthropoides case, he had instead led several much shorter ones (Tejera even provided their respective specific dates), and rarely beyond the perimeter of civilisation, as demonstrated, for instance, by the presence of banana trees in the Ameranthropoides photo.

Having said that, the portion of the photograph showing these trees is sufficiently blurred for their conclusive identification to be somewhat tricky. Tejera was there when the photo was taken, so obviously he could clearly discern their true nature, but the evidence for them from the photo alone is less certain. Happily, however, there is one additional aspect of this image that vindicates his statement. In the lower right quadrant of the photo, alongside the monkey in the foreground, a leafy shoot is present that is identifiable as a chopped-down but now-regenerating banana tree (I have shown this to various friends who have kept banana trees, and they have all affirmed that this shoot is indeed one). I have arrowed it in the uncropped photo reproduced below.

De Loys's full, uncropped Ameranthropoides photograph with the banana tree shoot in the foreground arrowed (public domain)

In addition, an aspect that, very surprisingly, seems not to have been considered previously is that for a creature supposedly killed by a hail of bullets, it seems in the photograph to be remarkably free of bullet holes or wounds, especially as it was supposedly shot from the front, not from the back or side. This of course is readily explained by the fact that, thanks to Tejera, we now know that the creature wasn't an attacking ape that had been shot, it was merely a pet monkey that had died of natural causes.

Equally, as the photographed 'ape' specimen was merely a marimonda spider monkey after all, de Loys's allegation that its dentition was different from that of spider monkeys was clearly yet another falsehood. And no doubt his so-convenient explanation of why the skull had not been retained for formal scientific examination (he claimed that the camp cook had converted it into a salt container and that it had then fallen apart), which of course would have readily identified its true taxonomic nature and exposed his dentition claim as false, was also a blatant lie. Little wonder, then, why de Loys was not able to escape from the web of deceit that he had spun when carrying out his joke, and which had ultimately and inextricably enveloped him.

But that was still not everything. At least two years before penning to El Universal his devastating letter outing and condemning Montandon and the entire Ameranthropoides charade, Tejera had actually revealed all of this to fellow medical practitioner Dr Raymond Fiasson, who had documented it in his book Des Indiens et des Mouches: Dans les Llanos du Vénézuela(1960). Yet this too had escaped attention from cryptozoologists and zoologists alike. So also had a section included by American primatologist Prof. Earnest Hooton in his book Man's Poor Relations (1946) – a significant but hitherto-overlooked snippet until French cryptozoologist Michel Raynal had rediscovered it in 2007 (during that same year, Michel had also been instrumental in bringing Fiasson's documentation to public notice). Prof. Hooter had revealed that in late 1932, American geologist A. James Durlacher had written to him announcing that in 1927 he had spoken to various former members of de Loys's expeditions and had learnt from them that Ameranthropoideshad indeed merely been a marimonda spider monkey. Even more frustrating, in 2001 Spanish researchers Bernardo Urbani, Dr Ángel L. Viloria, and Franco Urbani had presented much of this key information in a paper published by the Spanish journal Anartia, Publicaciones Ocasionales del Museo de Biologia de La Universidad del Zulia, in which they had concluded that the Ameranthropoides saga was certainly a hoax – but yet again, this revelation had somehow evaded widespread attention! (It is even possible that Tejera's dramatic intervention at the end of Montandon's lecture back in 1929 was subsequently documented in some French newspaper(s) and/or periodical(s), but if so these too failed to attract any public notice and still await rediscovery.)

The revelatory book by Bernardo Urbani and Dr Ángel L. Viloria – Ameranthropoides loysi Montandon 1929: The History of a Primatological Fraud (© Bernardo Urbani and Dr Ángel L. Viloria/Editorial LibrosEnRed – reproduced here on a strictly educational, non-commercial Fair Use basis only)

Happily, however, their skilful detective work uncovering this hoax was at last given its long-deserved international attention when, in 2008, Bernardo Urbani and Dr Viloriapublished all of their findings in book form – Ameranthropoides loysi Montandon 1929: The History of a Primatological Fraud. The book's text was presented in two separate languages, English and Spanish, and was fully referenced, thus constituting the most comprehensive, and now-definitive, study and exposé of the whole sorry Ameranthropoides saga.

One final point to consider here, which I haven't seen mentioned before but which has intrigued me for some time, is whether de Loys was at least partly inspired when setting up his hoax photo by a very distinctive illustration that was still famous back then, although much less so today.

In 1758, eminent English naturalist and wildlife painter George Edwards wrote and illustrated Gleanings of Natural History, an authoritative tome that would remain a major work on that subject for well over a century. One of its illustrations was a hand-coloured copper engraving by Edwards of a young orang utan, among the first pictures ever prepared of this great ape, in which the orang utan was portrayed sitting upright on a wooden bench holding a long tall wooden stick in one hand. If this illustration is compared with the iconic Ameranthropoidesphoto, a number of striking similarities can be seen, including the orientation and/or form of the feet, limbs, facial expression, and even the stick (albeit utilised for different purposes).

Comparison of the Ameranthropoides loysi photograph with the George Edwards illustration of an orang utan (public domain)

Consequently, as Gleanings of Natural History was still well known during the early 20thCentury, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that de Loys had seen Edwards's orang utan illustration in it and had elected to reconstruct it using the dead spider monkey, but for practical purposes had transformed the stick into a supporting prop in his photo.

Ameranthropoides loysiRIP...? Although this specific case was a fraud from beginning to end, it should be noted that mystery animal researchers are well aware that large ape-like creatures, walking bipedally and lacking tails, have been frequently reported by natives and Western explorers alike from many parts of Central and South America, where they are referred to locally and variously by such names as the sisimite (in Belize), xipe (Nicaragua), shiru (Colombia), vasitri (Venezuela), didi (Guyana), tarma (Peru), mono rey (Bolivia), caipora and curupira (Brazil), and others too. Detailed documentation of such sightings lies outside the scope of this present article, but one extremely noteworthy, representative encounter occurred as recently as 1987, so is deserving of inclusion here.

That was when New York Botanical Gardens mycologist Gary Samuels was crouching down on the forest floor in Guyana, investigating fungi. Looking up, he was very startled to see a 5-ft-tall hairy ape-man, walking by at close range on its hind legs but seemingly unaware of him as he stayed kneeling, concealed on the ground. This remarkable entity, which uttered an occasional "hoo" cry as it passed by him, was presumably a didi.

O Curupira, by Brazilian painter Manoel Santiago, produced in 1926 and depicting the mythical(?) red-haired man-beast of Brazil known as the curupira (Wikipedia CC BY 4.0 licence)

Explorer Simon Chapman's book, The Monster of the Madidi: Searching For the Giant Ape of the Bolivian Jungle (2001), documented his search in Bolivia's Madidi region for the mono rey. Although he failed to find it, his book does contain a couple of tantalising snippets that were new to me. One was his claim that until recently, a local Bolivian actually owned a pelt from a mono rey, which was then purchased by "a gringo" (European) who took it home and sent it (or samples from it) off for DNA analysis, but the results (if any) were never revealed. No details were given in his book as to who the "gringo" was, where he came from, or where he sent the pelt/samples. The other snippet, which Chapman had apparently attempted unsuccessfully to substantiate, was that a living mono rey had allegedly once been exhibited at Bolivia's Santa Cruz Zoo! (This zoo is known in full as the Santa Cruz de la Sierra Municipal Zoo to distinguish it from others.)

Also worthy of note here is the existence of centuries-old carvings and statues depicting large, tailless, ape-like beasts, found among the crumbling relics from long-gone civilisations in various South American (and also Mexican) localities. Just coincidence – or representations of genuine creatures? There is even an unequivocally ape-like mask preserved at Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History, which had been carved in stone by Costa Rica's Guetar Indians and dates from 1200 to 1500 AD.

At one time, a major zoological stumbling block to accepting the possibility that any such entities actually do exist today in Latin America was the absence of fossil precedents. That all changed in 1995, however, with the publication of a paper by American anthropologist Dr Walter Hartwig in the Journal of Human Evolution, which documented the remains of a very sizeable Pleistocene monkey discovered in the Lagoa Santa cave system of Minas Gerais in southeastern Brazil. In fact, this large-bodied species had originally been described as long ago as 1838, by Danish naturalist Peter Wilhelm Lund, who had named the extinct species Protopithecus brasiliensis. However, later publications concerning it had not examined the original fossils and had underestimated this species' actual size. In his paper, however, Hartwig rectified that error, and estimated that P. brasiliensis may well have been more than twice as massive as any living New World monkey.

Reconstruction of Cartelles coimbrafilhoi(© Hodari Nundu)

Just a year later, on 23 May 1996, Hartwig published a second Protopithecuspaper, this time in Nature and co-authored with Brazilian palaeontologist Dr Castor Cartelle. In it, they described a near-complete skeleton, which had been found in 1992 within Pleistocene cave deposits in Brazil's 60-mile-long Toca da Boa Vista, the longest cave in the Southern Hemisphere, located in the Brazilian state of Bahia. Intriguingly, this skeleton combined a howler monkey-like vocal sac with a spider monkey-like cranium, and sported a robust body with limbs adapted for brachiation (arm-swinging locomotion), similar to both spider monkeys and woolly monkeys (and also Old World gibbons).

The giant species represented by it, which would have weighed around 50 lb, is now housed within the spider monkey subfamily, Atelinae. Moreover, after detailed studies it was considered sufficiently distinct from the earlier Protopithecusmaterial to warrant its reclassification as a new species (and genus) in its own right, which in 2013 was formally christened Cartelles coimbrafilhoiin a Journal of Human Evolution paper written by Drs Lauren B. Halenar and Alfred L. Rosenberger.

Also found in that same cave and at the same time was a near-complete skeleton of another, hitherto-unknown, species of giant Pleistocene ateline monkey. In a Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA paper published on 25 June 1996, this new species was duly christened Caipora bambuiorum (after the caipora, a small, peccary-riding humanoid entity in Brazilian Tupi-Guarani mythology), and would have weighed around 45 lb in life. And in 2000, after co-leading a palaeontological expedition to Toca de Boa Vista, Hartwig announced that thousands of fossils, mostly from extinct mammals, had been unearthed there – including the skull of a 55-lb giant spider monkey, over twice the size of any species alive today.

Artistic representation of a caipora riding a peccary (© Jakared/Wikipedia CC BY-SA 3.0 licence)

So perhaps it is premature after all to dismiss entirely the prospect that the Neotropical (platyrrhine) primate lineage may indeed have evolved a larger, ape-like representative via convergent evolution, one that occupies some of the ecological niches filled in the Old World by the apes, and which still awaits formal zoological discovery and recognition.

A very exciting possibility if true, that's for sure!

Further information concerning the history of Ameranthropoides loysi (including evidence supporting the intriguing prospect that some additional photographs taken by de Loys of his spider monkey in Ameranthropoides pose may also exist) can be found in my book Extraordinary Animals Revisited. It also features on its front cover a colourised version of de Loys's notorious yet never-to-be-forgotten South American 'ape' photograph – truly a cryptozoological icon, albeit for all the wrong reasons.





          Japan executions: Inside the secretive, efficient death chambers        
Source: News.com.au

http://www.news.com.au/world/asia/japan-executions-inside-the-secretive-efficient-death-chambers/news-story/e650b790265fcf2dafc2f8ba9fa1e52f

THERE are polished floors, clean surroundings and symbolic statues.

But this place is far from peaceful and there’s a reason why it’s known as the Tokyo death house.

This is where Japan hangs its criminals in secrecy so tight that not even the convicted know when their time is up.

Last week’s execution of two convicted murderers has once again cast light on the country’s practice of putting people to death, a method labelled cruel and inhumane by human rights groups.

Nishikawa, 61, was convicted of killing four female bar owners in western Japan in 1991, while Sumida, 34, was sentenced to death for killing a female colleague in 2011 and dismembering her body.

The government remained unrepentant despite calls from activists to stop the hangings.

“Both are extremely cruel cases in which victims were deprived of their precious lives on truly selfish motives,” Justice Minister Katsutoshi Kaneda said.

“I ordered the executions after careful consideration.”

INSIDE CHAMBER OF DEATH

Japan remains notoriously secret about its use of the death penalty, with the US the only other major developed country which carries out capital punishment.

In Japan, most prisoners wait years for their fate to be carried out.

In 2010 the media was given a rare glimpse into the execution chamber in Tokyo where the condemned are put to death.

Prisoners are kept in isolation and have access to a priest before they die.

A statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, is in a nearby room, just metres from where prisoners will take their last breath.

They are then led into the chamber and a noose is put around their neck while red boxes around a trapdoor indicate where the condemned are to stand.

In the room next door, three executioners have access to the trap door which will give way once the buttons are pressed.

JAPAN’S SHAME

Human rights group Amnesty International called Japan’s use of the death penalty inhumane and said it showed “wanton disregard for the right to life.”

“The death penalty never delivers justice, it is the ultimate cruel and inhumane punishment,” Hiroka Shoji, East Asia researcher at the campaign group, said in a statement last week.

“Executions in Japan remain shrouded in secrecy but the government cannot hide the fact that it is on the wrong side of history, as the majority of the world’s states have turned away from the death penalty.”

The two men’s deaths bring to 19 the number of people executed in Japan since 2012, with 124 remaining on death row, Amnesty said.

The human rights group also said prisoners were often only given a few hours notice with lawyers and family only notified after it had taken place.

“Secret executions are in contravention of international standards on the use of the death penalty,” Amnesty said.

Nishikawa was hanged while seeking a retrial. But Mr Kaneda indicated it was mistaken to believe that death-row inmates cannot be executed as long as their retrial pleas are pending.

INNOCENT VICTIM

While the two men last week were convicted of murder, not everyone on death row is actually guilty.

In 2014 Iwao Hakamada was released after 45 years on death row after being convicted on falsified evidence.

The former boxer had confessed to murdering four people in 1966 but retracted his statement shortly after.

Once released he said he was coerced into confessing the crime.

Prosecutors claimed the case against Hakamada rested on bloodstained pyjamas. But instead of presenting the pyjamas at the trial they found five other pieces of clothing, each with blood on them, at his workplace.

A court found that a DNA analysis obtained by Hakamada’s lawyers suggested that investigators had fabricated evidence and he was eventually freed.

debra.killalea@news.com.au

          Is Stephen Colbert's spider a unique species?        
Stephen Colbert is probably proud that the spider named after him, Aptostichus stephencolberti, stalks the beaches of liberal California bastions such as Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Francisco. But the faux-conservative comedian may be less enthralled to learn that A. stephencolberti's tenuous claim as a unique species rests on the shoulders of evolutionary theory, not divine intervention.

In a paper posted this week on the website of the journal Systematic Biology, ecologists Jason Bond and Amy Stockman of East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, argue that Colbert's spider should constitute its own species. (They also make the case for two other completely new species of trapdoor spiders: Aptostichus angelinajoleae and Aptostichus miwok. The latter refers to a group of Native American tribes that have lived in what is now Northern California for at least 5000 years.)

Bond offered Colbert the Linnaean tribute, after Colbert griped that Neil Young had received the honour instead of him (scroll down for clips).

But one problem with A. stephencolberti's status as a species is that the arachnid looks exactly like several related species of spiders that live in many of the same kinds of habitats, up and down the California coast. In the new paper, the authors outline a way to resolve whether such species really constitute a unique species, melding geographic, ecologic and genetic approaches.

This dilemma isn't unique to celebrity-named spiders, but to all plants, animals and even bacteria. The debate is a can of worms that Linnaeus and Darwin both opened, then closed, and one this reporter would rather not address with two other deadlines looming. Suffice it to say, we wrote a feature story on the topic a decade ago, and some researchers devote their careers to the question.

Bond and Stockman conclude that A. stephencolberti makes the cut in large part because of its evolutionary history. DNA analysis shows that the spider is genetically distinct from related spiders, meaning that even though the species can interbreed to spawn fertile offspring, they don't in practice. Bond and Stockman also argue that the unique geographical distribution of A. stephencolberti and its sister species support their designation.

They write:

The specific epithet is a patronym, named in honor of Mr. Stephen Colbert. Mr. Colbert is a fellow citizen who truly has the courage of his convictions and is willing to undertake the very difficult and sometimes unpopular work of speaking out against those who have done irreparable harm to our country and the world through both action and inaction. He will be especially remembered by many of Jason Bond's generation for his speech at the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner.


Bond appears on Colbert Report tonight (hat tip to The Loom for flagging the visit).





Ewen Callaway, reporter
          NYU Abu Dhabi researchers provide breakthrough insight on how coral reefs may cope with climate change        

Research reveals unique adaptations help Arabian Gulf corals survive sea temperatures of 36 degrees or higher

Abu Dhabi,  August 10, 2017: Research undertaken by scientists at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) will help provide new insight into how coral reefs around the world will be able to cope with climate change.

Rising sea temperatures are a primary cause of global coral reef bleaching, when water is too warm, corals expel the algae living in their tissues, causing the coral to turn white (known as coral bleaching). Major coral bleaching events have occurred around the world, including significant events in Australia on the Great Barrier Reef, and experts expect to see continued damage in the coming years. 

NYU Abu Dhabi researchers may have found new insight into this global challenge, using corals found in the Arabian Gulf. A team of researchers examined the genetics of a widespread coral to understand how corals survive extreme sea temperatures of 36 degrees Celsius or higher in the Arabian Gulf, making them more heat tolerant than any other corals on the planet.

The study, which was published in the scientific journal PLOS One, sought answers to whether these corals have genetically adapted to these extreme conditions or have physiologically acclimated to the heat. To this end, the genetic structure of the coral Platygyra daedalea and its symbiotic algae in the Arabian Gulf and the nearby Gulf of Oman were investigated.

“By looking at both corals and algae, we can get a better idea of whether one or both are involved in Gulf coral thermal tolerance,” said Edward Smith, postdoctoral associate researcher at NYU Abu Dhabi.

DNA analysis was performed on corals collected from reefs in the Arabian Gulf near Abu Dhabi and from sites in the slightly cooler Gulf of Oman around Fujairah and Muscat. This analysis found some key differences, revealing that the Arabian Gulf corals and their algae are genetically distinct from their counterparts in Gulf of Oman.

According to Smith, limited gene flow exchange between regions indicates that Arabian Gulf corals have adapted to cope with their extreme conditions. “This is interesting because the results suggest that both the coral and their algae together contribute to the superior thermal tolerance traits of Arabian Gulf corals,” Smith said.

“Genetically adapted populations of corals and their symbionts in the Arabian Gulf are an important scientific resource”, he added. “This study will help us understand the mechanisms involved in coral thermal adaptation, and provide new insight into whether corals elsewhere in the world will be able to cope with climate change.”

Regional adaptation has also lead the researchers to conclude that reefs threatened by climate change in the Gulf of Oman or Indian Ocean are unlikely to acquire the so-called “super genes” of Arabian Gulf corals.

Reefs in the Arabian Gulf are the most diverse ecosystems in the region and support major economic industries such as fisheries. “Unfortunately, the conditions that have made Arabian Gulf corals among the hardiest known to science, also makes them vulnerable: they are living in very stressful conditions, and any further stress can push them over the edge”, said John Burt, NYUAD associate professor of biology. 

“In the past three decades we’ve witnessed widespread degradation of reefs around the region, with sedimentation from coastal development and nearshore reclamation being the prime culprits,” he explained. â€œIf we are to conserve these scientifically and economically important natural assets, management efforts to limit human stressors are critical.”



          City Developments Limited: The Singapore Sustainability Academy Launches as Training and Networking Hub        

Singapore Sustainability Academy (SSA), a major training and networking hub dedicated to achieving a cleaner, greener and more sustainable future, opened in June.  

Focusing on the key areas of advocacy, building capacity and collaboration, education and training, information and resource sharing, and community engagement, the SSA is a unique partnership between a private developer, City Developments Limited (CDL) and an NGO, the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore (SEAS).
 
Drawing on CDL’s strength in green building and user engagement, the expertise of SEAS in sustainable energy, and supporting agencies and industry partners, the Academy will harness their knowledge and network to build collaborations among various stakeholders in the areas of sustainable development.
 
And the Academy is not just talking the talk: the zero-energy SSA building itself features a photovoltaic system that is expected to generate an annual energy yield of over 60,000 kWh, which is more than the SSA’s estimated annual energy consumption of about 50,000 kWh/year.
 
 Moreover, the SSA is the first building in Singapore to have its construction materials – Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and Glued Laminated Timber (Glulam) – verified by the Nature’s BarcodeTM system as coming from responsible sources. This entails scientific tests including DNA analysis to minimise the risk that the wood comes from illegal logging.
 
“The timber is a treat for the senses. Apart from being visually appealing, it creates a clean, rustic and natural atmosphere, and the woody scent invokes a sense of calm within,” says Esther An, CDL’s Chief Sustainability Officer and a key player in realising the vision of the Academy. 
 
The SSA, she explains, was conceived in mid-2015 under the leadership of CDL’s late Deputy Chairman and prominent sustainability advocate Mr. Kwek Leng Joo, who passed away in late 2015. “With his visionary leadership, CDL started our CSR journey founded on the ethos of ‘Conserve as we Construct’ in 1995. I am hugely honoured to have worked with him from the beginning, and to now continue his legacy by stepping up our efforts in ESG integration, making it a strong business case.” 
 
Indeed, CDL, Singapore’s pioneer real estate developer with a global presence in 97 locations across 26 countries and specialising in residences, offices, hotels and malls totaling over 18 million square feet of floor area, has an impressive list of international sustainability awards to its name. The company has built a track record in developing quality green spaces and industry-changing innovations, which inspire eco-friendly lifestyles and sustainable workplace practices.
 
“Buildings are so much a part of life – we all live, work and play in and around built spaces, especially in highly built-up Singapore,” says An. 
 
“Globally, buildings consume 40% of energy, 25% of water, and 40% of resources, and are responsible for 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. At CDL, we apply a three-pronged sustainability strategy that focuses on developing and adopting game-changing green building innovations and methods; managing our buildings in an energy and resource efficient manner; and user engagement and advocacy.”
 
The SSA is CDL’s third major 3P (People, Public and Private) ground-up initiative, following its purpose-built zero-energy CDL Green Gallery @Singapore Botanic Gardens and My Tree House, the world’s first green library for kids to encourage them to learn and care about the environment.
 
Located on a roof terrace in Singapore’s first eco-mall, City Square Mall, and surrounded by greenery, the 4,300 square feet Academy comprises classrooms, a veranda, an office, and an exhibition gallery. 
 
“The walkway leading from a modern mall setting to the Academy contains infographics aimed at creating a sense of urgency and environmental consciousness among visitors,” says An. “The walkway walls feature thought-provoking issues on whether our planet will survive rapid population growth, rising demand for natural resources and climate change. It also features the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and best practices of some of the most sustainable global cities that lead the way to saving our planet.” 
 
 “Simply put, the Academy is a small space with a big vision and I am truly excited about SSA’s mission in community education and engagement, building a strong coalition and force to combat climate change and contribute to a sustainable future.” 
 SSA has set its sights on training and engaging sustainability professionals and communities beyond Singapore. SEAS has an established partnership with Asian Development Bank to provide training programmes for energy practitioners in the region.
 
Similarly, the SSA Programme Committee, chaired by An, is in talks with various partners, including NPOs, think tanks and industry associations, to bring experts from international organisations such as the UN Global Compact, Business Council for Sustainable Development, and World Green Building Council, to share best practices and expertise with audiences from Singapore and the region. 
 
 SEAS, the operator, will focus on training and capacity building while CDL, as the owner of the Academy, will spearhead the planning of programmes, thought leadership, advocacy, networking and partnerships amongst public, private and people sectors, explains An. 
 
 The programmes will be funded mainly by CDL and its partners, who will hold sustainability-related activities at the Academy. SEAS will continue to run their training classes using the organisation’s current sustainable business model as a non-profit. 
 
 “Examples of some programmes we have planned are capability building workshops, sustainability forums and youth workshops on topics such as the circular economy, sustainability reporting, green financing, etc.,” says An. Focusing on youth is particularly important, she says. “Young people are our future. They are the next generation of consumers, workforce and leaders who will be shaping our future economy and society. For two decades now, CDL has been active in youth development, one of our four key community investment areas. 
 
 “For the SSA, we have brought together our track record in youth development and our network of partners to develop innovative programmes with a strong focus on social-environmental advocacy. For example, we will be launching a new format for the 8th edition of CDL’s E-Generation Challenge through the platform of SSA. In partnership with the Global Green Economic Forum, the Challenge aims to raise eco-awareness amongst young people between the ages of 18 to 35 and to discover outstanding young champions for the environment. The winner of the challenge will embark on a 12-day study trip to the International Antarctic Expedition, led by renowned explorer and conservationist Robert Swan. The young champion will return to assume an advocacy role on environmental conservation to inspire more youths to follow.” 
 
In addition to youth development, CDL is setting up the first network for women in Singapore’s green sectors, Women4Green. “This aims to engage women executives who work in the green building, clean energy, technology, green financing and consultancy fields to inspire each other to do more for their respective causes,” says An. “As there is an increasing number of women in the forefront of climate action, this network will engage women leaders to inspire, mentor and empower other females to charge forward and accelerate our transition to a low-carbon future. It also aims to support SDG 5 on Gender Equality.”

THE COMPANY: City Developments Limited (CDL) is a Singapore-listed international real estate operating company with a global presence spanning 97 locations in 26 countries. As one of Singapore’s largest companies by market capitalisation, its portfolio comprises residences, offices, hotels, serviced apartments, integrated developments and shopping malls, totalling over 18 million square feet of floor area globally. CDL is ranked Top Singapore Company and Most Sustainable Real Estate Management and Development Company in the 2017 Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World ranking. It is the first Singapore company to be listed on four of the world’s leading sustainability benchmarks – FTSE4Good Index Series (since 2002), MSCI Global Sustainability Indexes (since 2009), Global 100 (since 2010) and Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (since 2011).

COMMENT: By Simon Webley, Research Director, Institute of Business Ethics

CDL is a significant organisation in the property development sector. Operating in 26 countries, this Singaporean-based estate developer is outstanding for one main reason: it only builds what it describes as ‘green’ buildings, which are those that are eco-friendly in all aspects of that description. But that is not all it is doing to improve the environment. Its management, following the initiative of a former deputy chairman, realises that to be effective in the long term, it is necessary to convince the next generations that an environmental strategy requires innovations and imaginative education. Hence, CDL’s sponsorship of the Singapore Sustainability Academy (SSA) in partnership with the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore (SEAS). This educational facility, which SEAS will operate, is to be opened this year to help promote eco-awareness and the ingredients of a sustainable future to the next generations. 

 
Points of note: 
  • Buildings consume 40% of all energy and are responsible for 30% of greenhouse gas emissions  
  • Helping to bring gender equality to the forefront in fighting climate change  
  • The priority of user engagement and advocacy in the overall sustainability strategy.

          Forensic Science Universities How To Choose        

If you're looking to study at one of the top forensic science universities, it's important to look at the course offerings as well as the options at each of the colleges.



Forensic science universities train students to become professional analysts of crime scene data by working with the latest technology. In order to gain the expertise needed, various top schools provide the latest lab equipment for DNA analysis, as well as more standard technologies such as biological and weapons identification.



When selecting the best forensic school for your career, you should look at the forensic science focus as well as the quality of the college's general science offerings. Students in forensic science will need a solid background in chemistry, physics and biology, in addition to specialized lab courses. Many school offer course work in forensic science within their general science offering, but if you're seeking an immediate career in forensic science, then you should seek out a university with a dedicated degree.



Three of the best forensic science universities are the University of Mississippi, the University of Central Florida and Loyola University in New Orleans.



Mississippi offers a large scientific research institution at a public institution where class sizes in science are relatively small. Rated among the top five programs by the American Academy of Forensic Scientists, the school is a top choice for forensic undergraduate studies.



Central Florida has a well established technology curriculum with state of the art scientific labs, as well as expert faculty. Those seeking graduate education in forensic science should consider Loyola University which has more of a student focus, with smaller classes and more of a focus on providing research opportunities to students.



When seeking a bachelor of science in forensics, students should evaluate the university's offerings in organic chemistry, biochemistry, statistics, genetics and criminal justice, all of which are important for a future career in the field. While the scientific skills are necessary for your carer, it is equally important that you have a broad exposure to general criminal justice coursework which will help facilitate your work with law enforcement and ease you transition into the work force.



Make sure to structure a well balanced course load that allows you to obtain sufficient scientific and social science skill sets needed for a forensic science career. Look for a university with relatively small science courses, as well as close student to faculty interaction and a research laboratory focus within its coursework. Louis Zhang, Certforensictechnician dot com


          Worldview and Apologetics in the News        
What Ever Happened to the New Atheists?

Fate of Ancient Canaanites Seen in DNA Analysis: They Survived

For Culturally Illiterate Science Reporters, Canaanite DNA Yields Occasion to Slap Bible Around

‘Transgender man’ gives birth to baby boy in Portland

Anonymous single mom exposes behind-the-scenes details at Planned Parenthood in emotional interview

Kentucky Could Be The First Abortion Free-State By 2018

Bible Studies at the White House: Who's Inside This Spiritual Awakening?

Mother shares photos of baby miscarried at 14 weeks: ‘He is very obviously human’

Indian Christians charged with kidnapping, forced conversion

Conservative Anglicans in Open Revolt Against Church of England's 'Capitulation to Secular Values'

When a ‘Doctor’ is No Longer a Doctor

‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’ Adds Muslim Superhero in Response to Trump

Planned Parenthood will spend $3 million to support this Virginia candidate for governor

When exorcists need help, they call him

Cosmic Inflation Theory Loses Hangups About Scientific Method

Peer-Review Fraud Scheme Uncovered in China

NT Wright attacks 'fashionable fantasy' of allowing children to choose their own gender

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Last week's edition is here.

          Will O.J. Finally Get A Chance To Resume His Search For The Real Killers?        
WE TEND TO FORGET ABOUT THIS PART OF THE STORY 
(UPDATE: The Nevada state parole has ruled unanimously that Simpson is to be released after serving the minimum nine years of his sentence.)  
It was a balmy late spring evening on the East Coast, June 17, 1994 to be exact.  We were watching Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets at Madison Square Garden on a Los Angeles television station because we were putting our recently installed 12-foot satellite dish through its paces and had swung it into a position where we could pull in California signals. 
The Knicks were ahead by a basket in a lead-changing nail biter when the station suddenly cut away to a Los Angeles freeway where a camera from a news helicopter showed a phalanx of police cruisers, their lights madly flashing, in pursuit of a white Ford Bronco. 
Four days earlier, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, described in press reports as an acquaintance of the estranged wife of football legend O.J. Simpson, had been found slashed to death outside her L.A. condominium. 
The TV announcer breathlessly intoned that O.J. had been charged with the murders, had reneged on a promise to turn himself in to the police after flying home from Chicago, and his Bronco had been spotted on a southern L.A. freeway in what would become, according to one survey, the sixth "most universally impactful" TV moment of the last 50 years, a suspenseful but in retrospect comical low-speed chase that paled next to other impactful moments such as the 9/11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina and the space shuttle Challenger disaster.
We were transfixed.  Hell, all of America was transfixed as Domino's Pizza reported record home-delivery sales because the chase unfolded during dinner time on the West Coast.  This epic pursuit, with O.J. best friend Al Cowlings at the wheel and the Juice himself riding in the back, reportedly with a gun in hand, ground to a halt 50 miles, two hours and hundreds of thousands of consumed pizzas later later as Simpson, clutching family photos, staggered out of the Bronco in the driveway of his Brentwood home, collapsed into the arms of police officers and was handcuffed.
Moments after the chase ended, the phone rang.  It was the City Desk at the Philadelphia newspaper where I was working.  I was told that I was on the O.J. case full time.  Big Boss's orders.  As it turned out, I would be on the case full time for the next 16 months as I covered the murder investigation, pre-trial maneuvering and then the nine-month Trial of the Century.  
Looking back on the whole sordid affair 33 years later, it was an unrelenting exercise in hyperbole that somehow never became bigger than itself in laying bare our obsession with celebrity and the ugliness of our nation's racial divide, the vulnerability of single women, and the debut of an apparently foolproof new forensic technique involving DNA analysis, while revealing how little most of us knew about the criminal justice system, let alone how to game a jury into believing that O.J.'s blood-soaked gloves didn't fit him.
The Juice is back in the news this week because of his parole hearing on Thursday in Nevada.   
Prisoner No. 1027820 has served nine years of a nine-to-33 year sentence for a 2007 Las Vegas crime spree that was a prosecutor's dream -- kidnapping, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon.  Four other men who accompanied Simpson took plea deals and received probation. 
The hearing will be carried live by CNN, ESPN, Fox News and NBC, and in one of those fantabulous twists that has dogged Simpson, the sleazebags at Fox News will feature Mark Fuhrman as an analyst. 
Fuhrman, you might recall, is the Los Angeles police detective famous for lying during Simpson's 1995 murder trial about his repeated use of racist language.  He later pleaded no contest to committing perjury during the trial. 
The former detective has shamelessly translated his heightened profile as a ratbag racist cop into financial rewards.  (Then again, Lance Armstrong is doing Tour de France commentary this summer).  
After retiring to Idaho, Fuhrman wrote a best-selling book about his investigation -- he was one of the first detectives on the murder scene -- and subsequent trial titled Murder in Brentwood and later became a "forensic and crime scene expert" for Fox News who predictably has defended police officers in racially-charged shootings. 
Following the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling while being held down by two Baton Rouge police in 2016, which sparked nationwide protests, Fuhrman blamed Sterling. 
Fox News is making no secret of where it stands on the Juice and is giving him the Full Hillary Treatment.  "O.J. Simpson, one of the most heinous and depraved killers in modern American history, is up for parole consideration," says Fox News anchor Gregg Jarrett. "He should never be set free." 
Simpson, whom fellow inmates have nicknamed "Norberg" for his roles as the hapless cop in the Naked Gun movies, is described as a model prisoner who leads a Baptist prayer group, mentors inmates, coaches sports teams and is commissioner of the prison yard softball league, so my guess is that he will be sprung given his clean record and that not even his surviving victim in the crime spree (the other victim died in 2015) opposes his release, which would be in October. 
The elephant in the room, so to speak, is that the trial judge in the crime spree case declared that Simpson had gotten away with murder, something the parole board technically should not consider.

For this career journalist and long time observer of the ebb and flow of American fads, interests and mores, the biggest story was and remains why O.J. Simpson became a murderer.
In a society that judges a person by the color of their skin, Orenthal James Simpson had something that very few black Americans could claim: He was so accomplished and at one time was so popular that, in advertising agency parlance, he was "race neutral." 
That is to say that when most people looked at him they saw not a black man who happened to have overcome a disadvantaged childhood in a broken home, but a handsome and gifted athlete who found fame and fortune by parlaying outstanding college and professional football careers into a successful big-bucks life off the field selling everything from men's footwear to rental cars, and as a broadcaster and later a not-bad Hollywood actor who married a gorgeous blonde woman, had two beautiful children with her, and seemed to be in a giving marriage in a multi-racial community not unusual for Southern California but at that time alien to the rest of the country. 
Simpson’s acquittal can be attributed, in large part, to black jurors who had a deep and well-placed distrust of the LAPD and believed that he had been framed because of his skin color.  Cue Fuhrman testimony. 
(The families of Brown Simpson and Goldman eventually were awarded a $33.5 million wrongful-death civil judgment, but O.J. will be anything but poor upon his release with a multi-million dollar Screen Actors Guild pension and $1,700 a month NFL pension.) 
Yet it appears that to most people O.J. still remains O.J. despite the bitterness and animosity that the verdict unleashed on both sides of the racial divide, although it was us white folks who were shocked, just shocked, that the divide existed, while it was an inescapable fact of life for blacks and other minorities.

had a great ride off of O.J.  Given free rein by the Big Boss, I wrote at least one story each weekday for 16 months, as well as a syndicated column of gossipy tidbits called "The Simpson File" that was wildly popular and published in newspapers throughout the U.S. and Canada.  There was no such thing as a slow news day, and I never ran out of material.
I was one of the few reporters to plumb the racial aspects of the jury early on in the 11-month trial -- 10 women and two men, nine of whom were black, two white and one Hispanic -- and while I did not predict the acquittal (nobody did), I wrote that such an outcome would not necessarily be surprising because woman jurors seemed so sympathetic to O.J. and the truth stretching but convincing arguments of his defense lawyers, who had basically eaten Marsha Clark and her fellow prosecutors for lunch. 
I was the only reporter, to my knowledge, to explore gender views of Nicole. 
In one story, I riffed off of trial testimony showing that after returning home with her two young children on the night of the murders, Nicole had put them to bed, then lit candles throughout her condo, put on soothing music and taken a long bath.  And that to most men, such a scenario indicated that she was getting ready to meet a lover, in this case Goldman, while most women believed that like many a mother, she just wanted to chill out after a long and stressful day, which had included an unpleasant encounter with O.J. at an ice cream parlor.  Meanwhile, Goldman just happened to show up to return a pair of reading glasses she had misplaced.  Men couldn't relate to the tired-mom scenario.  Women could. 
My one "big" scoop concerned the fact the Nicole's breasts had been surgically enhanced because O.J. liked 'em big, something I confirmed in an interview with the Main Line Philadelphia plastic surgeon who had done the deed. 
Ahem. 
Celebrity became O.J., but he could not overcome his humanness.  
I claim no special insight into the demons that possessed this Hall of Famer.  All I know is that despite his accomplishments and exalted status, he was just another human being who was vulnerable to the baser temptations of life in the fast lane who succumbed to the frailties – in his case outbursts of rage, jealousy and a fondness for illegal substances -- that bedevil many of us.
Perhaps no one knows when O.J. hit bottom -- possibly not even The Juice himself.  That occurred sometime in the run-up to the slayings, which probably were a result of a cocaine-fueled binge, intense jealousy, or most likely both.  As it turned out, he had severely beaten Nicole on New Years Day 1989 in an earlier fit of rage. 
In any event, it is sadly obvious that Simpson had been bottom crawling since the double murders. I will leave it to greater minds to do the moral calculus on whether his convictions for the Las Vegas crime spree some 13 years to the day of his murder trial acquittal and a jail sentence somehow makes up for him getting off in 1995. 
My own view is that life -- and death -- don't work that way.  
Besides which O.J., even at the advanced age of 70, his good looks long gone, his waistline larger and fashion statements limited to blue prison uniforms, seems incapable of being chastened no matter how hard he once looked for "the real killers" of Nicole and Ron, and how much jail time he does. 

          wobjr83055 on (Unpublished) Aquatic Ape Hypothesis; Rethinking; of Human Evolution.        
Alternative Knowledge: is defined as “information rooted in mainstream science, but in areas normally kept from public discussion because they cast doubt on the currently accepted paradigms and dogmas of the mainstream.”
                                                                                      -Lloyd Pye-

 

  Aquatic Ape Hypothesis; the Miocene Epoch “Planet of the Apes”                                           Rethinking; of Human Evolution.

                                By Wendell O. Belfield, Jr.
                    Optidose Orthomolecular Nutritional Advocate
                        Copyright© 2017 Wendell O. Belfield, Jr.

 

"I have come to the understanding that the science that we were taught takes us but a distance towards the truth." 

                                                                             Dana Scully, X-Files

 

“Humans have been around for tens of billions of years.  They are all over the place out there and migrate from world to world.  Humans were originally aquatic which accounts for many of their unusual characteristics which seem inadequate for life on the surface.  Aquatic humans still exist in the oceans of other worlds and lived in the oceans of earth until the end of the ice age.  There are rumors that some still do.”

                                                               -Anonymous Remote Viewer-

               

    Darwinian evolution lays claim to the following; “all species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual's ability to compete, survive, and reproduce”. Up until now there have been several theories as to how evolution is initiated. In the past it has been proposed that radioactive substances, gamma rays, x-rays, or certain chemicals cause mutations which are considered a necessary part of evolution. There are many kinds of mutations. The three main mutations are 1) Point mutation (one base is substituted or changed into another base. 2) Deletion mutation (a base is deleted from the DNA sequence shifting all of the other bases. 3) Insertion mutation (a base is inserted into the DNA sequence shifting all of the other bases.). It is important to keep in mind that genes do not operate in a nutritive vacuum.

    The science of Orthomolecular nutrition (In 1968 Dr. Linus Pauling defined Orthomolecular therapy as the following; "Orthomolecular therapy consists in the prevention and treatment of disease by varying the concentrations in the human body of substances that are normally present.") has demonstrated that the underlying basis of evolution is a nutritionally changing environment. The ultimate survival of a species depends on how efficiently the intake of micronutrients are utilized. The following statement from the United States Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, California supports the previous comment; “A person’s genes determines how their body absorbs and uses nutrients.”  The science of Orthomolecular nutrition is all-important in determining whether a species will survive or go extinct.

    Dr. Hans Selye (1907- 1982) is acknowledged as the "Father" of the field of stress research, was an Austrian-Hungarian/Canadian endocrinologist. He was the first to give a scientific explanation for biological stress. On the authority of Dr. Selye there are two major components to biological stress. They are the nervous system and the endocrine (hormonal) system. The three stages of Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome stress model are the following: 1) Alarm Reaction (AR). This refers to the organism’s immediate action to the stressor. 2) Stage of Resistance or Stage of Adaptation. Does the organism adapt to the stressor. In this case the stressor can be starvation. 3) Stage of Exhaustion or Extinction.  This is the ability of the organism’s immune system to resist disease.

    Dr. Selye’s, General Adaptive Syndrome stress model can be considered the number-one stimulus of evolutionary mutagenesis (is a process by which the genetic information of an organism is changed in a stable manner, resulting in a mutation). The science of Orthomolecular nutrition used as an adjunct with Han’s Selye’s GAS, can disclose whether a species has been selected for continuous evolution or doomed for extinction.

    The accuracy of the General Adaptive Syndrome stress model can be evaluated by the following statement. The core principle in Darwinian evolution is when a species can successfully maintain a level of optimum nutrition; this will ensure the passing of their genes to their offspring’s.  Those species who cannot sustain a level of optimum nutrition will not have the privilege to reproduce because their nutritive deficiencies will make them susceptible to debilitating diseases (stage #3 of Han’s Selye’s, General Adaptive Syndrome). This is the first time that the science of Orthomolecular nutrition has been elevated to the forefront to provide a detailed understanding of the forces of Darwinian evolution.

    It is quite unusual that a consensus is shared among two bitter scientific rivals. Among alternative and conventional science groups there is a general agreement that the aquatic ape hypothesis espoused by marine biologist Alister Hardy, Elaine Morgan, Desmond Morris and former NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration) scientist Dr. Paul Robertson has no place in discussions concerning human evolution.  The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that the aquatic ape hypothesis was not only plausible but did occur during the course of human evolution. AAH had great significance in the evolution of humans.  The General Adaptive Syndrome and the Science of Orthomolecular Nutrition (SOON) are used to provide a new analysis to the aquatic ape hypothesis. When GAS-SOON is used as means to analyze the mechanism of human evolution it will become quite apparent that nutrition is a major factor in the process of evolutionary change.

    The Miocene named by Sir Charles Lyell is the first geological epoch of the Neogene Period. The Miocene epoch extended from about 23.03 to 5.333 million years ago. During this epoch, apes experienced their greatest divergence, it is thought that as many as 30 to 100 species existed, inhabiting extensive regions of Africa, Asia, and Europe.  During the Late Miocene, climatic changes that increased seasonality (and gradually replaced many forests with grasslands) and competition from an ever increasing number of monkey species caused a decline in the diversity of ape species.

    With the large migration of apes throughout the world it is quite possible that they inhabited just about all environmental niches. For instance, even though it has never been officially discussed in academic circles, there may have been flying apes, actually gliding apes.  It is known that some species of apes like the gibbons practice the technique of brachiation (a form of arboreal locomotion in which primates swing from tree limb to tree limb using only their arms.). With a few micro evolutionary modifications brachiation may have given way to a form of gliding from tree to tree. This would be similar to the evolution of gliding squirrels.

    It is quite plausible that there may have been two kinds of aquatic apes.  Just like there are two kinds of porpoises, fresh water or river porpoises and the more popular marine or seawater porpoises. Since porpoises are mammals just like the apes and they occupied both freshwater and sea water environments. There is reason to believe that apes could have exploited similar water environments like the porpoises. About 18 million years ago the true evolutionary history of man began in the warm coastal waters around the Southern hemisphere with the coastal aquatic ape.  The focus of this paper will be on marine apes.

    Near the middle or end of the Miocene epoch environmental pressures such as scarcity of food and the quality of food (GAS; Stage #2, Stage of Resistance or Stage of Adaptation) was influencing the evolution of Australopithecus. The competition for scarce food resources among the troop of Australopithecines was at times deadly.  During these stressful times in order to keep these troops as fit as possible, those individuals who were considered  nonproductive  with regards to acquiring food and breeding unfit offspring became cast offs from their respective troops. This practice was put to use to increase the troop’s chances for survival during harsh times. The discarding of nonproductive individuals was a common practice among the Australopithecine’s, after a time there would be a sizable population of Australopithecine “outcasts.”  These Outnoicine’s (outcasts/hominoids/Australopithecines) had a poor diet (GAS; Stage #2). It was common for these ragtag troops to go days without food. When searching for food they often found themselves encroaching into a rival’s territory only to be immediately rebuffed.

   Eating on the run was a habit of the Outnoicine’s. In their weakened state the Outnoicine’s did not fare well in direct confrontations with rival troops of Australopithecine’s especially when there were sparse food resources. It can be surmised that do to an inadequate diet these ragtag troops were malnourished. This lifestyle led them to be in poor health and to be developmentally retarded physically and mentally. The primary means of increasing their troop size was not an increase in the birth rate but by absorbing other Outnoicine’s.  If it wasn’t for a prolonged period at GAS; Stage #2: Stage of Resistance or Stage of Adaptation these Outnicine’s would have entered GAS; Stage #3: Stage of Exhaustion or Extinction. Instead of entering Stage #3 they continued to adapt through the activation of the L-gulono-γ-lactone oxidase molecule. The activation of this enzyme at Stage #2 allowed the Outnoicine’s to internally synthesize ascorbic acid which would protect them from not only scurvy but from other sub-clinical scurvy related diseases.

    For millions of years the troops of Australopithecine Outnoicine’s were gradually being forced out from the prime regions of the tropical forests and grasslands. Eventually they found themselves being forced to the outer fringes of these lands. In the final expulsion; they finally ran out of real estate. They were banished to the coastlines. This nutritive deficient troop finally reached their biochemical stress related threshold. This is when the General Adaptation Syndrome conceived by Hans Selye MD determines whether a short-term and long-term reaction to stress affects the reactivation or deactivation of the L-gulono-γ-lactone oxidase molecule.   

    Short-term stress [(GAS; Stage #1; Alarm Reaction (AR)], would not  activate the L-gulono-γ-lactone oxidase molecule for the internal biosynthesis of ascorbic acid because external or environmental sources of ascorbic acid are still readily available for maintaining health.  Long-term reactions to stress, (GAS; Stage #2; Stage of Resistance or Stage of Adaptation,) will facilitate the internal synthesis of ascorbic acid, the reason being that there are little or no environmental sources of ascorbic acid to maintain health.  In summary the General Adaptation Syndrome does the following it influences an organism’s rate of evolutionary change and influences whether an organism’s short-term or a long-term reaction to stress activates or deactivates the L-gulono-γ-lactone oxidase molecule.

     The last phase for this troop of Australopithecine Outnoicine’s came when evolution selected them as no longer fit, (GAS; Stage #3; Stage of Exhaustion or Extinction). The L-gulono-γ-lactone oxidase molecule was deactivated. The Outnoicines were no longer able to internally synthesize ascorbic acid. They now became vulnerable to a whole range of sub-clinical scurvy type diseases. As the curtain of extinction was descending something remarkable happened.  A few individuals from this dying troop turned death into a fighting chance to live when they discovered a nutritious and plentiful food source on the coastal shores that they didn’t have to compete for.  This undernourished and hypoascorbemic troop of Australopithecine’s, fortuitously came upon an unlimited supple of coastal crustaceans.  This consisted of crabs, lobster, crayfish, shrimp and krill. The nutritive value for 100 grams of crustacean’s for this brand new subspecies, the semi-aquatic Australopithecines(it is reasonable to assume these semi-aquatic Australopithecines ate more than 100 grams of crustaceans in- one- sitting) versus the tropical diet of land dwelling Australopithecines was equal to or in the best of times exceeded the nutritive intake of their land dwelling cousins. 

    The situation described above has to be considered more of an exception than the rule. GAS: stage #3 is curtains or the end for the majority of species on Earth. In the normal course of evolution all living things die off. The Australopithecines Outnoicines serendipitously found themselves in favorable circumstances when they were forced into their new coastline environment.  They immediately exploited an untapped food source.  This propelled them up from GAS; stage #3 to Stage #2 and eventually to GAS; stage #1. As a rule Darwinian evolution functions in descending not ascending stages.

    This new diet was instrumental in the rejuvenation of the Outnoicine’s. This once pathetic troop of Australopithecines was now evolving to adapt to their new surroundings.  Micro evolutionary changes were now being initiated for them to become specialized to a semi-aquatic environment. As they became more specialized their diet would expand to include marine fish. They would still retain enough of their terrestrial roots. On rare occasions when they would find their diet of crustaceans lacking, they would climb sea cliffs to raid the nesting seabirds of their eggs.

                    Nutritive Value of 100 grams of Crustaceans

 

             Vitamins                                                      Minerals   

       1. Vitamin A---53 IU                                     1. Calcium---27 mg

       2. Vitamin B-9---37 mg                                 2. Iron------.84 mg

       3. Vitamin E----2.85 mg                                3. Potassium--302 mg

       4. Vitamin B-6---1 mg                                  4. Magnesium---27 mg

       5. Vitamin B-12---2 ug                                 5. Phosphorus---256 mg

       6. Vitamin C----1.2 grams                             6. Sodium----58 mg

       7. Vitamin K----1 ug                                     7. Zinc----1.3 mg

       8. Vitamin B-1-----.07 mg

       9. Vitamin B-2-----.03 mg

      10. Vitamin B-5-----54 mg

      11. Vitamin B-9-----37 ug

 

    Two times unshared Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling and Irwin Stone PhD speculated that when L-gulono-γ-lactone oxidase molecule was turned off this may have accelerated the development of neural pathways, meaning rapid brain development. The good luck that was seemingly bestowed upon the Australopithecine Outnoicine’s provided them with an uninterrupted source of omega three fatty acids that they once had in their tropical environment. A marine diet rich in omega three fatty acids would augment the further development of their brain.  With an overall better diet it would seem likely that the brain development of the semi-aquatic apes was increasing at an alarming rate, than for the land dwelling apes that had to contend with food scarcity and temporary starvation. With better nutrition the semi-aquatic coastal apes experienced a baby boom. These new generations of semi-aquatic apes were healthier, bigger and smarter than their parents and their land dwelling cousins. Overtime a small troop of these semi-aquatic apes would venture farther and deeper into the coastal waters for food. This additional adaptation made sure that they would never again experience food scarcity and starvation.  

    As their brains grew the semi-aquatic ape’s behavior became more complex. They began to demonstrate complex communication skills such as rudimentary language. This complex behavior allowed them to conduct periodic foraging raids on their ancient ancestral lands. Having multi-faceted communication skills allowed these semi-aquatic apes to function efficiently on both land and sea environments. This ability made them a formidable adversary to terrestrial Australopithecines. These semi-aquatic apes were stealthy on land. When venturing into the tropical forests/grasslands they took whatever food they wanted, with hardly any altercations from the terrestrial Australopithecines. Their audacity gave notice to the terrestrials that a new evolved species has come to power and is going to make changes. This behavior kept them in contact with their inland origins. Later on this behavior would serve them well when the oceans started to recede.

     The Pleistocene Epoch is defined as the period of time that began about 1.8 million years ago and lasted about 11,700 years ago. The most recent Ice Age is sometimes referred to as the Quaternary glaciation (Quaternary period) or the Pleistocene glaciation. This geological period took place during the last 100,000 years of the Pleistocene, from approximately 110,000 to 12,000 years ago.  As glaciers covered vast parts of the planet Earth the oceans receded, exposing land that was once covered by the oceans. Some semi-aquatic Australopithecines adjusted to the retreating oceans by going farther out from the coastlines into deeper waters for their food (GAS; stage #2; Stage of resistance or Stage of adaptation.). These semi-aquatic apes were going through micro-evolutionary changes to become totally aquatic. Their land dwelling days were over. In time, these aquatic apes would become eminently adapted for a pelagic existence.

     What was previously described took millions of years to accomplish.  These semi aquatic apes were experiencing biochemical and physiological micro-evolutionary changes. Those apes that were very efficient in metabolizing their micronutrients were to experience the full effect of evolutionary change. Efficiency in metabolizing micronutrients allowed a splinter group from the semi-aquatic apes to sustain minimal stress at General Adaptive Syndrome; stage #1 AR/Alarm Reaction. Take into account that minimal stress is normal, an absence of stress means you’re no longer living! As a result, long intervals at stage #1 allowed beneficial micro-evolutionary changes to be made on these semi-aquatic apes. Changes in their anatomy and physiology allowed the apes to become specialized for a marine existence.  1) Webbing between fingers (other primates don’t have this), 2) Subcutaneous fat (insulating from cold water), 3) Control over breath (humans can hold breath up to 20 minutes, longer than any other terrestrial animal), 4) Loss of body hair (hair creates drag in water), 5) Instinctive ability to swim (human babies are able to do this). 6) A highly developed brain, which depends on nutrients provided by having a marine diet.

    The rate of evolution for those semi-aquatic apes that were not as efficient as the aquatic apes in metabolizing their micronutrients was slower. These less efficient apes would never complete their evolutionary change for a permanent marine existence, they remained semi-aquatic. The evolutionary fate of these semi-aquatic apes would be determined at either GAS; stage #2; Stage of resistance or Stage of adaptation or stage #3; Stage of exhaustion or extinction.

   The aquatic apes evolved into a species that became specialized to a marine existence, they would be exposed to new stressful conditions never before encountered. The General Adaptation Syndrome; stage #1; Alarm Reaction (AR) would be appropriate in describing the new environmental pressures these aquatic apes would be encountering.  Decompression illness (includes nitrogen narcosis, high pressure nervous syndrome, oxygen toxicity, pulmonary barotrauma/burst lung) would be important environmental challenges while in deep waters. The alarm reaction experienced would have been an increase in heart rate and hormonal activity. The GAS; stage #2 activation of the L-gulono-γ-lactone oxidase molecule would have been an immediate solution to Decompression illness. The ability to internally synthesize ascorbic acid would play a crucial role in negating the effects of oxygen toxicity.  Without the ability to internally synthesize ascorbic acid these aquatic apes would descend to General Adaptation Syndrome; stage #3; stage of Exhaustion or extinction.  The inability to cope with decompression illness would surely have led to their extinction.

    The receding oceans were a result of the Ice Age. The main group, the semi-aquatic apes found themselves gradually going back to their ancient ways, a terrestrial existence. The coastal areas were no longer a major source for food. While the Semi-aquatic Australopithecus was in the process of re-claiming their ancient past as land dwellers, the forces of evolution were in the process of exerting anatomical and physiological micro-evolutionary changes which gave rise to the macro-evolution of a new species of hominoid called Homo erectus.  As Homo erectus was completing its transformation to a land existence, millions of years later evolution would once again execute another important macro-evolutionary change. Homo erectus evolved into Homo Heidelbergensis.

     Homo Heidelbergensis retained their 48 chromosomes from their ape ancestors. With this number of chromosomes it is suspected that these hominoids needed an optimum level of nutrition to sustain their high metabolism. The ancient marine diet that once saved their ancestors from extinction had enough calories to sustain their metabolism, but they no longer had access to that kind of diet

    As Homo Heidelbergensis continued to migrate inland they experienced weather extremes that caused droughts and famines (GAS; stage#2; Stage of resistance/Stage of adaptation).  In these environmental extremes they could not sustain an optimum level of nutrition. The continued exposure to dietary deficiencies increased the vulnerability of these hominoids to a whole range of diseases (GAS; stage #3; Stage of exhaustion or extinction). There had to have been sub-groups of Homo Heidelbergensis that succumbed to stage #3 of the General Adaptive Syndrome stress model.

   The repeated exposure to environmental extremes during the existence of Homo Heidelbergensis made them a “bad weather” hominoid. Unfortunately, in order to minimize their stress they did not have the ability synthesize their own ascorbic acid.  An ever increasing accumulation of micro-evolutionary mutations damaged the niacin (B3) DNA repair process. These frameshift mutations were deleterious. Those sub groups of Homo Heidelbergensis at stage #3 continued to die off.  Sub groups at stage #2 were more genetically resilient than the previous subgroup. The biochemistry of this subgroup of Homo Heidelbergensis was efficient in how their body absorbed and utilized nutrients.  Frameshift mutations (a genetic mutation caused by a deletion or insertion in a DNA sequence that shifts the way the sequence is read. Frameshift mutations may be beneficial, deleterious, or lethal ) at stage #2 was beneficial. The stage #2 subgroups were fortunate to have enough favorable micro-evolutionary changes to diverge into a new species of hominoid. This new species was Homo Neanderthalensis.

    The Neanderthals were the first to branch off from the Homo Heidelbergensis line; in the future there would be two additional (questionable) branches off this line.   They would be Cro Magnon (hominoid) and Homo sapiens (Hominid). The question that seems to be deliberately avoided by mainstream science is the following; are Cro Magnon and Homo sapiens part of the normal evolutionary flow on this planet? It is generally accepted that periods of long duration either at stage #1 or Stage #2 prompted the reactivation of the L-gulono-γ-lactone oxidase molecule which is crucial for the internal biosynthesis of ascorbic acid. The internal synthesis of ascorbic acid continues to be a major factor in the success of Homo Neanderthalensis.

     With 48 chromosomes, studies have shown that the Neanderthal anatomical structures, especially their large brain needed more energy to survive than any other species of hominoids (except for the Cro Magnon’s). Their energy needs were up to 100–350 calories more per day compared to modern human males weighing 68.5 kg (151.0 lbs.) and females 59.2 kg (130.5 lbs.).  The demands of having a high caloric intake were not met when food became scarce. The scarcity of food with a high caloric content may have played a major role in the decline of Neanderthals but not their extinction (Stage#2; Stage of Resistance/Stage of Adaptation, GAS). 

    The conventional image of the Neanderthals is of a short stocky hominoid, clad in animal skins, trekking across vast expanses of ice in a desperate search to find food. This is the long established image that comes to mind when we think about the Ice Age. Such stereotypes are false because there were probably several different types of Neanderthals ranging in size, height and weight.

    The average temperature of the earth during this glacial period was 49 degrees Fahrenheit. During this period the colder regions of Earth was about 12 degrees Fahrenheit or less. The late Lloyd Pye one of the pioneers of alternative knowledge had postulated that the Neanderthals wearing animal skins could not keep warm in temperatures ranging from 12 degrees Fahrenheit or below.  Pye states that in excavation sites where Neanderthals were thought to have inhabited there has been no discovery of any kind of rudimentary sewing paraphernalia to indicate that they were wearing animal furs. The thinking is that the Neanderthals entire body was covered with hair to keep them warm. The science of Ichnology (is the branch of geology and biology that deals with traces of organismal behavior, such as footprints and burrows. It is generally considered as a branch of paleontology) has demonstrated that the footprints of Neanderthal and “Big Foot” or “Sasquatch “are identical.  

    One should keep in mind that 30% to 40% of the land on this planet has not been foot surveyed. The dense montane forests are too difficult to be foot surveyed by humans.   These hard to reach areas are the locations where the hominoids inhabit. The prime real estate sites on Earth are occupied by the Homo sapiens.  The evidence just presented requires a new paradigm concerning the physical appearance of the Neanderthals. “Big Foot” or “Sasquatch”, abominable snowman and the skunk ape are actually Neanderthals.

    The new image of the typical Cro Magnon is of a short stocky hominoid, clad in animal skins, trekking across vast expanses of ice in a desperate search to find food.  Cro Magnon, also, had48 chromosomes and a high or fast metabolism and like their cousins Homo Neanderthalensis. During the ice age the Neanderthals were nocturnal hunters especially adapted to dense montane forests. The main source of nutrition in those climates is meat. Even though the Neanderthals are considered omnivorous their diet considered mostly of meat. The Cro Magnon a diurnal hunter may have been more socially advanced but they were not as strong and skilled a hunter as the Neanderthals.  Cro Magnon had difficulty satiating their high metabolism during environmentally hard times (stage #2).

     It has been hypothesized that when the Neanderthals left Africa for Europe, about 40,000 years later Cro Magnon pursued a similar migratory path. Eventually, over time these two species would co-exist. The Cro Magnon’s were not strong nurturers of their young during harsh times.  If a Cro Magnon infant happened to be born during the hunting season, in order to make sure that all members could participate in the hunt, infanticide (probably the killing off of female babies was the norm because they weren't considered as useful in hunts; evidence: the male population was 10% greater than the female population) was periodically practiced to relieve the female adult of child rearing obligations. 

    Evidence has revealed that on occasion the Cro Magnon practiced cannibalism. The practice of cannibalism was a last resort when the local environment could not supply the optimum nutrients to sustain their high metabolism. It has been speculated that over time the Cro Magnon population was declining because of inadequate nutrition, infanticide and cannibalism. In a desperate attempt to replenish the population, breeding with Neanderthals was attempted. This attempt at best was only marginally successful.  When Homo sapiens arrived on the scene in Europe Cro Magnon was near extinction (Stage #3; Stage of Exhaustion or Extinction, GAS).

    Crossbreeding between the Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon’s was possible since each had 48 chromosomes.  The result of such a union was a hybrid. Let’s call this union “Cromthaals”.  The females of such a union would maintain their monestrous cycle (the period in the sexual cycle of female mammals, during which they are in heat—i.e., ready to accept a male and to mate. One or more periods of estrus may occur during the breeding season of a species. ). The estrus cycle is evolutions way of putting a limit on population growth.

    The real problem would arise when the Cromthaals would breed among themselves and no longer with the Neanderthals or Cro Magnon’s. It is suspected that when these hybrids would breed among themselves the second generation females would lose their monestrus cycle completely.  This resulted in the ability of the second generation female hybrids to get pregnant anytime of the year. This allowed for an unlimited population growth. An unlimited growth would put the population at stage #3 (stage of exhaustion; a stressed immune system would be unable to resist disease) of the General Adaptive syndrome (GAS).

    It has been hypothesized that there was a breakaway group of Cro Magnon’s which did not migrate with the others.  This particular group remained because they were able to retain some of the nutritional habits of their ancient ancestors, the coastal aquatic apes.  They had a diversified diet. As they migrated farther inland away from the coastal oceans, they could not maintain their diversified diet. They were increasingly becoming hypoascorbemic. As a result, this group of Cro Magnon’s became susceptible to a whole range of subclinical scurvy type diseases (Stage #3 of the GAS).  Evolution would mark this group for extinction.

    For reasons that cannot be explained something very unusual happened to this group of Cro-Magnons. The evidence is becoming quite compelling that there was several subgroups of Cro-Magnon’s undergoing a beneficial frameshift mutational change. The Cro-Magnon’s genome would be reduced from 48 chromosomes to 46. What happened was that there was a fusion of two chromosomes that reduced the chromosome number to 46. “How this happened is not known,” according to Ron Baker, PhD from the Argonne National Laboratory outside of Chicago, Illinois.  The fusion of two chromosomes has only been accomplished successfully in a laboratory environment.

    The fusion that happens in the human chromosome (the fusion of two chromosomes) is a disorder that typically causes handicaps and even the death of an individual. The best-known example is Down’s syndrome. So far scientific experiments have revealed that chromosomal fusion delivers no benefits; on the contrary it produces unhealthy mutants or infertile individuals.

    Mainstream science makes the claim that “genetic drift” (Environmental and social pressures that make one population different from another.) was the mechanism by which ape chromosomes 12 and 13 was fused to make human chromosome 2. Remember, chromosomes do not operate in a nutritive vacuum. If this is true the hominoids that are undergoing “genetic drift” are probably experiencing either GAS; stage #2(Stage of Resistance or Stage of Adaptation) or stage#3 (Stage of Exhaustion or Extinction.). These hominoid populations are dying. The question that has to be asked is how many generations does it take before “genetic drift” becomes beneficial during a state of nutritive deficiency. It would be a stroke of luck if “genetic drift” during an initial random mutation happened to be an immediate benefit. Let’s say, after several generations of random mutations a beneficial mutation arises, the hominoid gene pool is so depleted that inbreeding now becomes a major threat to the viability of the species.

    From an Orthomolecular view point these Cro-Magnon’s were nutritionally deficient (Stage #3 of the GAS). As a result they developed a genetic disorder or a non-lethal mutation that occurs at a rate of 1/1000. The genetic disorder was the fusing to make human chromosome 2. Chromosome 2 is the fusion of ape chromosomes 12 and 13 with most of the same genes. With this odd occurrence, over a short period of time (250,000 years) Cro Magnon accumulated enough micro-evolutionary mutations to evolve into a new species called Homo sapiens.

    It is hypothesized that the fusion of the human chromosome 2 did confer some benefits to the Homo sapiens. The first being the slowing down of their metabolism; a slower metabolism meant a lower caloric intake of nutrients. This modification made Homo sapiens more resistant to famines. To minimize any potential deleterious effects of chromosomal fusion an old standby was revived, the L-gulonolactone oxidase molecule was reactivated by a transitional point mutation. The last time the L-gulonolactone oxidase molecule was activated was during the heyday of Homo Neanderthalensis.    This very rare process of chromosomal fusion, which may have taken place in nature, eludes conventional scientific thinking.  It is difficult to believe that chromosomal fusion may occur naturally. Before chromosomal fusion could begin the telomeres (caps at the end of chromosomes) have to be chemically sliced off. In order to verify that the telomeres have been removed requires several high technology techniques such as; DNA extraction, Karyotyping, FISH analysis, Gel electrophoresis, Mass spectrometry and many other different techniques. How can this be accomplished and verified without any kind of high tech techniques and equipment absolutely boggles the mind.

    It is still within the realm of possibilities that Hans Selye’s General Adaptive Syndrome (GAS) stress model may consist of a rare stage #4 step which facilitates the fusion of two benign chromosomes by way of a conditional mutation (A mutation that will kill a cell under certain conditions but not under others.).As another alternative explanation to the fusion of two chromosomes, one must seriously consider the prospect of Interventional Evolution or directed panspermia. This may be the easiest to understand rather than to believe the fusion of two chromosomes occurred naturally during evolution.     

     A new transitory subspecies of Homo sapiens named Homo sapiens Ascorbicus was created when the L-gulonolactone oxidase molecule was reactivated.  This subspecies to all intents and purposes was disease resistant. The two major drawbacks of an activated L-gulonolactone oxidase molecule was the lack of permanence and no accelerated neural development. At this point in Homo sapien evolution, accelerated neural development was not a crucial need.  Homo sapien Ascorbicus would continue to experience neural development but at a slow sustained rate.

    The forces of evolution deemed it important for Ascorbicus to focus on developing a stable social structure   along with good nurturing skills for their young. There was no immediate need to have accelerated neural growth until the Ascorbicus population had stabilized.  From now on major evolutionary changes would take place socially not by micro evolutionary changes that would affect the DNA molecule.  The day finally arrived when Homo sapiens Ascorbicus became a vibrant and flourishing species. The evolutionary urge to migrate came into full swing. The Homo sapiens would be more prepared physically and socially than their Cro Magnon ancestors when they started their northward trek.  

    The migration from a tropical or warm environment to a colder environment was fret with many dangers. Reasons being that the tropical plants do not contain enough of the omega-three fatty acids needed in the colder areas. When Homo sapien Ascorbicus left the confines of South Africa the L-gulonolactone oxidase molecule that brought them back from near extinction would once again be deactivated. The one time disease resistant Homo sapien Ascorbicus now became the mere mortal Homo sapien.  Famine conditions played a major factor in creating the; GAS stage #2, stage of Resistance or stage of adaptation which deactivated the L-gulono-γ-lactone oxidase molecule. The disabling of the L-gulono-γ-lactone oxidase molecule prevented the internal bio-synthesis of ascorbic acid.

    Once again, the deactivation would resume the acceleration of neural development.  Accelerated neural growth would allow Homo sapiens adapt to new environments and to find new alternative sources of ascorbic acid. During this period the omnivorous diet of the Homo sapiens may have been given further prominence. The General adaptive Syndrome stimulated the desire in humans to eat a large variety of foods from animal and vegetable sources.  The colder climates provided enough omega-three fatty acids to further facilitate the acceleration of neural development.

    The reduction from 48 to 46 chromosomes provided humans with a slower metabolism. Besides having a slower metabolism another benefit was bestowed upon these humans that increased their chances of survival during times of food scarcity. These Homo sapiens would now take advantage of a distinctive trait from their ancient aquatic-ape past. In times of famine (GAS; Stage #2, Stage of Resistance or Stage of Adaptation.) they could now effectively use their supply of subcutaneous fat as a source of energy (in ancient times served to insulate them from cold water). Once, again they would have to contend being hypoascorbemic.  Hypoascorbemia would always continue to be a scourge that would wreak havoc on humans. The inability to internally synthesize ascorbic acid would relegate humans to stage #3 of the General Adaptive Syndrome stress model.

 

Conclusion:

    At times it seems the mysteries contained within the human genome overshadows the evidence that Homo sapiens had aquatic beginnings. This by itself is truly amazing!  The evidence presented strongly suggests that hominoid evolution began in accordance to the precepts of Darwinian evolution. During the Cro Magnon era there is a deliberate interruption in the flow of evolution. The reduction of 48 chromosomes to 46 by way chromosomal fusion is a paradox. The future existence of the current version of Homo sapiens (evidence suggests the strong possibility of being a genetic fabrication) may depend on a clear understanding of why this tampering occurred.

    The evolutionary history of Homo sapiens is beset with a lot of mysteries. In the human genome, chromosome 2 is the result of the fusion of ape chromosomes 12 and 13. How could the random nature of Darwinian evolution execute such an intricate process?  The three stages of Hans Selye’s M.D., General Adaptive Syndrome stress model provides a clear insight into the inner workings of evolution. It has been shown that the General Adaptive Syndrome is the driving force behind Darwinian evolution or natural selection. Even though GAS is crucial in the process of natural Selection it does not provide a clear understanding into the forming of chromosome 2 in the human genome. If the principal of Occam’s razor (Is a line of reasoning that says the simplest answer is often correct) is used to solve this enigma, of how the fusion of ape chromosomes 12 and 13 produced chromosome 2. The simplest answer to this puzzle should be directed panspermia or Interventional evolution.

    The repeated deactivation and reactivation of the L-gulonolactone oxidase molecule during natural selection appears not to have impeded the evolutionary progress of Hominoid development.  This is indeed somewhat strange considering the importance of ascorbic acid (C6H8O6 ) is to the biosynthesis of collagen (is the most abundant protein in the body. It helps connective tissue to be strong and provides cushioning for various parts of the body).  Two times unshared Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling states the following: “We have come upon the two big reasons why we require for good health so much larger amounts of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) than are present in the plants we use as food. First, there is the bodies’ continuing need for the synthesis of large amounts of collagen for growth and for replacement of the collagen degraded by daily wear and tear.  Second, vitamin C, in the critical reactions that assemble collagen in the tissues, does not serve merely as a catalyst but is destroyed."

     Mario C. DeTullio, PhD raises the question as to how Homo sapiens could have evolved normally( This is the issue Homo sapiens did not evolve normally!) without the ability to internally synthesize ascorbic acid. He states the following; “but how can something so crucial for survival be eliminated through the course of evolution? Typically, we expect that positive traits should be retained during evolution, and as vitamin C is beneficial, how would natural selection remove such a crucial biosynthetic capability? Indeed, individuals carrying the mutation(s) in the gene encoding gulonolactone oxidase should have had less chance of surviving and reproducing. However, the opposite occurred, and those who had lost vitamin C biosynthesis survived. How can we explain this apparent paradox?

    The creation of Homo sapiens came about when Cro-Magnon’s 48 chromosomes were reduced down to 46. This reduction should be considered one of the biggest mysteries on the planet Earth. Conventional science claims that “genetic drift” maybe responsible for this reduction. So far, the fusion of two genes has only been accomplished in a laboratory environment. One of the important rules in Darwinian evolution is that evolutionary changes are not made in anticipation of a problem. Previously it has been stated the fusion of two chromosomes (ape genes 12 and 13 produced human chromosome 2) was done to make Homo sapiens better able to survive famines. If this happens to be the case, a compelling argument can be made that the fusion of two chromosomes was done in anticipation of a future problem. Whatever process evolution chose in selecting ape chromosomes 12 and 13 had to have been a “long” process (thousands of years). Before chromosomes 12 and 13 could be fused the telomeres had to be chemical sliced off. There would have to be some sort of high tech diagnostic process to ensure that whatever technique being used was effective.  

    When genetic engineering has been performed there has to be a period of time which must transpire during the development of the life form in order to see all of the observable characteristics. The life form must fully develop to observe the phenotypical traits that are influenced by both the genotype and the environment (nutrition). This brings to mind the iconic scenes in sci-fi movies when the good guys finally enter the nefarious lab only to notice row after row of specimen jars that shows the gradual steps in perfecting a viable species ( in this particular instance the creation of human beings).

    There is too much room for error using just statistical probability in determining the effectiveness of genetic engineering process. The species attrition rate has to be exceedingly high if evolution is conducting such experiments. This is a definite Stage #3 of the General Adaptive Syndrome stress model. Darwinian evolution could not pull off this kind of genetic experimentation without a high species mortality rate. If success was achieved it is doubtful if there would be enough genetic variation left in the existing population for successful reproduction.  On the other hand interventional evolution could pull this off with a low mortality rate. Obvious areas of failure would be avoided; this cannot be said with Darwinian evolution.

    It is very apparent that nutrition was (and currently is) a major force in the evolution of mankind.  Homo sapiens health is dependent upon consuming food to which humans have been adapted to for over 100,000 years of evolution. Orthomolecular nutrition, in optimal doses, is such a potent factor it can put a limit on genetic determinism (is the mechanism by which genes, along with environmental conditions, determine morphological and behavioral phenotypes). The General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) influences the process of natural selection on whether to reactivate or inactivate the last (or fourth) enzyme in the internal biosynthesis of ascorbic acid.

    The first three pathways will turn off the synthesis of ascorbic acid, but will affect other biochemical pathways. What is astounding is that the deactivation of the L-gulonolactone oxidase molecule at the fourth or last pathway in the bio-synthesis of ascorbic acid does not affect any other biochemical pathways it only affects the synthesis of ascorbic acid. Hominoid evolution seems to be punctuated by the on again and off again of the L-gulonolactone oxidase molecule. The only advantage that can be deduced from the turning off of this molecule is an acceleration of neural development. This is a very precise course adjustment performed by evolution. 

     In addition to not being able to synthesize(5R)-5-[(1S)-1, 2-Dihydroxyethyl]-3, 4-dihydroxy-2(5H)-furanone) which is known as ascorbic acid (C6H8O6) , (so far the results look promising in bio-engineering attempts to reactivate the L-gulono-γ-lactone oxidase molecule in non-human subjects.) Homo sapiens cannot synthesize the micro nutrients B1, B2, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12 E & K.  What is concerning is that there has been and continues to be an evolutionary decline in the biosynthesis of niacin (B3). Abram Hoffer PhD, MD has stated; “Nevertheless, the synthesis of niacin from tryptophan is a very inefficient process and the 60 milligrams (mg) of the amino acid are necessary to provide 1mg of niacin.  This process also involves vitamins B1, B2 & B6.  If these are in short supply, the synthesis of vitamin B3 will be even less efficient.” 

    With the inability synthesize C6H8O6, along with the nine other micronutrients and the continual evolutionary decline in the synthesis of B3 the question that has to be asked; how can this be of any benefit to Homo sapiens?  Niacin is good for so many things but there are two areas where it is especially effective, controlling blood lipids and psychoses. It is quite possible that the evolutionary decline of niacin is the last gasp in Stage #3 of GAS. Unless there is some sort of intervention this current version of Homo sapiens will be snuffed out like a candle flame.

    Among some scientific circles it is believed that there may have been two versions of Homo sapiens. Version 1.0 was short lived because of numerous genetic defects.  Once these genetic defects were cleaned up version 2.0 was created, which is the current version. In some laboratory here on Earth or elsewhere maybe there are blueprints on the drawing board for newer versions of Homo sapiens. It is hoped that great care and diligence is being conducted for these newer versions. It is quite obvious that the first two versions of Homo sapiens were created in a “slipshod” manner.

    There was an unexpected outcome from The Human Genome Project (HGP) which was proposed in the 1980s and was formally initiated in 1990. The HGP’s major aims were to map and determine the chemical sequences of the three billion nucleotide base pairs that comprise the human genome. The many years of extensive DNA analysis revealed that the human genome has over 4000 gene based disorders. An individual’s genome may have a few of the 4000 or more gene base disorders, but not all 4000 or more in their genome (if they had all 4000 in their genome they could not survive). If these results are accurate this would lend credence to the hypothesis that the human genome could not have been the product of Darwinian Evolution but the result of Interventional Evolution.

   Paleoanthropologists have been searching for the “missing link” fossil (transitional fossil connected with human evolution) for at least a century or more.  The “missing link” is considered the gold standard in proving Homo sapien evolution. The search for the missing link is a red herring (something unimportant that is used to stop people from noticing or thinking about something important). In evolution there are at least several transitions between species “A” and species “B”. Finding the one true transitional species is almost next to impossible. This endless search has now become irrelevant. What is relevant is the understanding how a species could transition from one species to the next. There is a growing belief that living Neanderthals that are currently occupying the dense montane forests will provide answers to these mysteries surrounding the grand appearance of Homo sapiens. The following quote from James Le Fanu, M.D says it best: “Science is a search for the explanation of how things work, not a search for something called “proof” that by direct implication, prevents questioning.”


          2008 CG Di Arie Vineyard 38 Winery Petite Sirah Estate Grown        
Petite Sirah was first named after Francois Durif a botanist from the French University of Montpellier The original source seed was obtained from the berry of another French variety named Peloursin and after more than 100 years the father was identified through DNA analysis as Syrah 60br 62 60br 62 This variety known as Durif in France and as Petite Sirah in the US contains generous amounts of tannin color and backbone that make it an ideal wine for use as a blender For just these reasons it can be a challenge to make it into a balanced varietal wine We harvested the grapes at the peak of ripeness to maximize the fruit character and minimize the harsh tannins and fermented the wine in our Dual Compartment Submerged Cap Fermentation Tanks that resulted in a highly concentrated wine with fruit forward and soft tannins We then aged the wine in predominantly French oak barrels During final blending 23 Estate Grown Syrah was added to add balance and elegance to the wine 60
          DNA Points to Multiple Migrations into the Americas        
DNA analysis of skeletons found in the Pacific Northwest backs up traditional oral histories, and suggests there could have been more than one colonization of the Americas. Emily Schwing reports.

-- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

           Sperm DNA analysis in a Friedreich ataxia premutation carrier suggests both meiotic and mitotic expansion in the FRDA gene         
Delatycki, M.B., Paris, D., Gardner, R.J.M., Forshaw, K., Nicholson, G.A., Nassif, N., Williamson, R., and Forrest, S.M. (1998) Sperm DNA analysis in a Friedreich ataxia premutation carrier suggests both meiotic and mitotic expansion in the FRDA gene. Journal of Medical Genetics, 35. pp. 713-716.
          The Irish Orphan Abduction: A tale of race, religion and lawlessness in turn-of-the-century Southern Arizona        
Such a shocking and dreadful story that speaks to the vitriolic racism of White folks living in the Clifton-Morenci area of Arizona in the early 1900s—where my grandfather, Camilo Alfredo Rios, once worked as a miner by day and a minister in the evenings and weekends in nearby Clifton in the early 1940s. He preached alternatively in Baptist and Presbyterian churches, saying that Presbyterians were "Baptists in dry country," referring to the differences in baptism, submersion in water versus Presbyterians' sprinkling or pouring of water. 
I come from a long line of Protestant, mostly Baptist, ministers that were in fact founders of the Baptist church in Mexico back when it was viewed more like a religious sect—and still is in some places. This is the part of my lineage that is Sephardic Jew, successfully evading the Spanish Inquisition in the vast Sierras of southern Mexico. It's really interesting to see all these folks in the mountains of Guerrero who have been Protestant for generations in great part because of the many seeds that were planted and sown there in the early- to mid-1800s. My grandfather's father himself, Vicente Rios Pineda, founded 15 Baptist churches in Guerrero and Michoacán, many of them operating still today.
My grandfather shared with his grandchildren stories about the wage discrimination that he experienced while working in the copper mines. It angered him that he would be required to train Anglos to do their jobs and how they would then make more money after that doing the same job for the same work right next to him. My grandfather's positionality as a minister combined with his social justice impulse that he had inherited from his own parents—found expression in his activism as a minister upon his being on the receiving end of this discrimination by Anglos in his day. He didn't understand this unequal treatment and it always angered him deeply.
In the 1950s, my grandfather was involved in the desegregation of public establishments. He single-handedly as a minister desegregated the Concho River where the children used to swim—Anglos upstream, Mexican Americans midstream, and African Americans downstream. He and his sons desegregated the municipal swimming pool. There's a lot of important detail to these stories, of course. My grandmother worked, as well, to persuade the Protestant ministers' wives in town to tell their husbands to employ Mexican Americans for their businesses so that they did not have to leave San Angelo to work on the migrant stream so that the children could remain in school and get educated. These efforts, of course, led to significant changes over time, including the bringing down of the "No Mexicans or Dogs" signs at public establishments.
Next to my parents, my grandparents were easily the most influential persons in my young life, growing up in my West Texas town of San Angelo, not very far from Austin—3 1/2 hours drive, which is a short distance by Texas standards.
My grandparents had arrived in Morenci-Clifton after this "Irish Orphan Abduction" story had already occurred. I wish my grandpa were alive so that I could talk to him about this because he would have definitely known the details surrounding this case since he was deeply involved in the community.
I encourage you to read the entire story. It provides insight into the history and complexities of race relations, including what often is an affinity between Mexicans and Irish folks. Through my maternal grandfather who was Spanish-Irish, our name is O'Hara. According to my DNA analysis, I myself am part Irish—10 percent. However, our family name is "Haro," because Mexican immigration agents couldn't say the name and "translated" it to another, more recognizable, one for Mexicans. Racial purity is such a profound, misguided myth. Race itself is a social construct—and a very powerful one, indeed.
Aside from the atrocious way that these children's attempted-adoptions-turned-abductions were handled, a deeper concern is with how these Irish children, members of an ethno-religious group, were forced to become white—and violently so.
We often think of these racial categories as fixed and unchanging when, as this story exemplifies, race is best understood as a process of "racialization" which means a coming into being. We largely assume that race is natural, like the "air that we breathe," when, in fact, it is a deeply historic and profoundly lived aspect of our existence—for minorities and majorities alike.
The best book to read on this, in my opinion, is Michael Omi & Howard Winant's, Racial Formation in the United States. They theorize a credible, well-documented framework on an historical process that they term, "racialization."
Slavery has always existed, unfortunately. But historically, one never enslaved a race. One enslaved a people who could be of any hue. So race is a modern construct and related to the colonization of this continent by settlers who in the span of time—abetted by machinations and artifice—come to see themselves as superior and entitled to their status within the extant social (racial and economic) structure of society. 

This story on Arizona screams white entitlement.
I'm not pointing fingers here. I am a teacher. I am asking what can we learn from this story?  It is an important question, lest we open the door to even darker ways of knowing and being in the world. In what world would a scenario like this ever be acceptable? I frankly don't care if it's the "lawless" Wild West. How convenient...as if that were an explanation.
However casually, unknowingly, or painfully we live and experience race and racism in our lives today, it remains a social construction tied to powerful facets of our history that this story poignantly illustrates. W.I. Thomas' dictum works well here: "That which is perceived as real, is real in its consequences." 
Race is real, my friends, but not biologically. Rather it is tied to social, economic, and political forces that have given, and continue to give, rise to it. It's an everyday affair about which we all need to be more cognizant.
It had been awhile since giving thought to Linda Gordon's excellent historical account, The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction. So many lessons to take away from another great book for race relations/Ethnic Studies scholars.
Thanks to Juan Marinez for sharing. Continue reading here.
Angela Valenzuela 
c/s

Tucson Weekly

The Irish Orphan Abduction

A tale of race, religion and lawlessness in turn-of-the-century Southern Arizona

by

Courtesy The Copper Era At the turn of the century, Clifton was a Wild West mining town. The copper 
smelter stained the air with sulfurous emissions, and some women blamed their infertility on the pollution.



© 2017 Tucson Weekly

          Bigfoot DNA        

Our panel (Ben Radford, Dr. Karen Stollznow and Blake Smith) interview Professor Todd Disotell, PhD. Todd has been a guest on multiple television shows to examine potential Bigfoot and Yeti DNA. We ask him about the science of DNA analysis, his thoughts on cryptid-TV, and what he's found in his studies.

Read full episode notes


          MyHeritageDNA: Father's Day discount        

In celebration of Father's Day (June 18), MyHeritage is happy to announce a huge DNA sale, starting now through June 19.
For a limited time, you can get the MyHeritage DNA test at the specially discounted price of $69.
Thanks to the fast-growing international database of people who have already been tested, MyHeritage DNA is connecting more and more relatives to each other. Watch the emotional reunion of sisters Jennisara and Morgan, and read about Robin reuniting with her biological daughter Becky, both reunions made possible through MyHeritage DNA.
The MyHeritage DNA test finds DNA Matches – people who are related to you, whom you may not have known before. It also provides ethnicity estimates that have among the highest resolution on the market, thanks to the unique Founder Population study conducted by MyHeritage.
MyHeritage DNA is the perfect gift for yourself and the people you love, now at the lowest price ever offered. There’s more! As part of this exciting offer, MyHeritage is reducing the shipping cost by 50% when you buy 2 kits, and offering FREE shipping for a purchase of 3 kits or more. By testing more relatives, you can learn more about yourself and determine whether your DNA matches are maternal or paternal.
All it takes is a few minutes and a gentle swab of the cheek to obtain the DNA sample that you mail back to the MyHeritage DNA lab. Within 4-5 weeks, DNA analysis will be complete, and you’ll be able to view the results online at MyHeritage.
DNA testing is the perfect way to celebrate Father's Day.
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Best regards,
The MyHeritage Team

          Jane Goodall: What separates us from the apes?        
Traveling from Ecuador to Africa, Jane Goodall takes the audience on an ecological journey, discussing highlights and low points of her experiences in the jungle. She shows how progress is helping research (DNA analysis) and hurting the environment (clear-cutting). And she draws a dozen parallels between primate and human behaviour, making the point that we […]
           MITOCHONDRIAL-DNA ANALYSIS IN PARKINSONS-DISEASE         
SCHAPIRA, AHV; HOLT, IJ; SWEENEY, M; HARDING, AE; JENNER, P; MARSDEN, CD; (1990) MITOCHONDRIAL-DNA ANALYSIS IN PARKINSONS-DISEASE. MOVEMENT DISORD , 5 (4) 294 - 297.
          An Introduction to Forensic DNA Analysis, Second Edition        

List Price: $ 113.95 Last checked best price : Kindly click the buy button to get latest prices Thank you for visiting AttorneyNext. Support us by buying products through our links. Significant advances in DNA analysis techniques have surfaced since the 1997 publication of the bestselling An Introduction to Forensic DNA Analysis. DNA typing has ...

The post An Introduction to Forensic DNA Analysis, Second Edition appeared first on AttorneyNext.com.


          Double Match Triangulator (DMT)        
by Behold Genealogy (Louis Kessler) A free autosomal DNA analysis tool that combines two different people’s Chromosome Browser Results files from FamilyTreeDNA to provide Double Match and Triangulation data that can be used to help determine genealogical relationships.
          Senate Bill 461 Printer's Number 1026        
An Act amending Title 44 (Law and Justice) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in DNA data and testing, further providing for policy, for definitions, for powers and duties of State Police, for State DNA Data Base, for State DNA Data Bank, for State Police recommendation of additional offenses, for procedural compatibility with FBI and for DNA sample required upon conviction, delinquency adjudication and certain ARD cases, providing for collection from persons accepted from other jurisdictions and further providing for procedures for withdrawal, collection and transmission of DNA samples, for procedures for conduct, disposition and use of DNA analysis, for DNA data base exchange and for expungement....
          Re: JOSEPH TODD OF ELING SOUTHAMPTON DIED 1699 OR JOSEPH TODD OF SOUTHAMPTON, BERMUDA DIED 1708????        
Dear Todd researchers,
Here is a synthesis of available online records showing the relationship between Mallory Todd and the Mallory family.

The short story is that Mallory Todd married an Angelina Mallory as his first wife and she was his first cousin:

William Mallory b abt 1681 md Angelina Hunt b 1681
a. John Mallory 1715-1788 d Isle of Wight Co
(1) Angelina Mallory md Mallory Todd
(a) William Todd
b. Frances Mallory abt 1712 d 1780 md 1742 to James Perot
(1) Elliston Perot
(2) John Perot (who visited his uncle John Mallory in Isle of Wight in 1769)
c. Angelina Mallory md John Todd d 1757 (will mentions brother in law James Perot)
(1) Joseph Todd
(2) Mallory Todd md (1) Angelina Mallory d pr 1789 (2) Anne Robinson
(3) Richard Todd
(4) Sarah Todd

Until someone goes through the microfilms of Bermuda records available through the LDS church (or goes to Bermuda!), we can't determine where Mallory's father John Todd fits into the family tree Since John Todd wrote his will in 1747 and died in 1758, he could be:John Todd b 1695 son of John Todd md 1688 Prudence Prudden and grandson of John Todd 1605-1677/78 or john Todd b 1703 son of Joseph son of Joseph md 1668 md Ann tatum son of John d 1677/78 or John Todd b 1669 son of Benjamin Todd d 1711.

The confusion arose between the Bermuda Todds and the Joseph Todd of Elingbecause Joseph Todd of Bermuda lived in Southampton (Bermuda) whereas Joseph Todd of Eling, was from Southampton, England. And some of the rest of the family names were similar: Benjamin, Joseph, John etc.
Also if you compare the online abstract of the will of Joseph Todd of Southampton , Bermuda with the actual will itself, you will see that the will itself doesn't mention the Tudor name but the transcript mentions it repeatedly. In short, the person who transcribed that will created the myth of the Tudor middle name. In 1999, Lynn Todd Cornelius who, many years later with the help of DNA analysis and concentrated research, proved her connection to the Joseph Todd of Eling family began to question the conflation of the two families. In that posting, she said that the "Tatum researchers maintain (quite strongly) that Ann Tatum is the mother of the Joseph who later migrated to America." So we would need to delve into the Tatum research world to figure out who introduced this error into the printed record.
Richard McMurtry
          Genetic analysis: Will I develop Alzheimer’s?        
It is clearly a very personal choice: carrying out DNA analysis to know you genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s. Since there is no treatment for Alzheimer’s people are indeed worried of knowing whether they stand a high chance of developing the illness. Treatment of Alzheimer’s only helps in slowing the disease but not in stopping its progression. Alzheimer’s is a debilitating illness which leads to death.
          History of Forensic DNA analysis        
Forensics of DNA analysis was introduced in the 1980s, and since then evolved into a powerful tool for practicing paternity testing for children to determine the parents and in criminal justice to crack the case on crime scenes.
          Genetic analysis: Will I develop Alzheimer’s?        
It is clearly a very personal choice: carrying out DNA analysis to know you genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s. Since there is no treatment for Alzheimer’s people are indeed worried of knowing whether they stand a high chance of developing the illness. Treatment of Alzheimer’s only helps in slowing the disease but not in stopping its progression. Alzheimer’s is a debilitating illness which leads to death.
          History of Forensic DNA analysis        
Forensics of DNA analysis was introduced in the 1980s, and since then evolved into a powerful tool for practicing paternity testing for children to determine the parents and in criminal justice to crack the case on crime scenes.
          Federal Circuit Denies En Banc Rehearing of Ariosa v. Sequenom, But Some Judges Urge Supreme Court to Fix Flawed Patent Eligibility Precedent        

Today the Federal Circuit issued an order (available here) denying en banc rehearing of Ariosa v. Sequenom, an important patent eligibility decisions discussed in earlier posts.  I filed a brief on behalf of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) arguing in favor of en banc rehearing, and discussing the negative implications of the decision for patenting in biotechnology, particularly as related to diagnostics and personalized medicine.  The decision to deny rehearing was accompanied by two concurring and one dissenting opinions filed by a total of four judges (Lourie and Moore, Dyk, and Newman), which provide some very interesting insight into their views on the current state of patent eligibility jurisprudence, particularly as it relates to the life sciences.

There was some substantial overlap in the opinions of all four judges.  For example, they all appeared to agree that the decision invalidating Sequenom’s method was both ill-advised as a matter of policy and not compelled by the language of the patent statute.  All of the judges seemed to recognize that Ariosa’s interpretation and application of the Mayo framework threatened the availability of effective patent protection for a broad swath of biotechnological innovation, particularly in the area of diagnostics.  Lourie and Moore, for example, found “some truth” in concerns raised by Sequenom and their amici “that a crisis of patent law and medical innovation may be upon us,” and that a broad range of claims appear to be in serious jeopardy, particularly diagnostic claims.

The judges recognized that the claims might raises concerns regarding overbreadth and/or indefiniteness, but suggested more measured approaches to address these concerns rather than the blunt instrument of the Supreme Court’s new patent eligibility jurisprudence.  Lourie and Moore suggested that “the finer filter of Section 112 [i.e., the enablement and definiteness requirement] might be better suited to treating these [concerns] as questions of patentability, rather than reviewing them under the less-defined eligibility rules.” In contrast, Judge Dyk opined that these other statutory requirements of patentability might not be entirely up to the task, but instead proposed a novel alternative approach to patent eligibility analysis that would have likely salvage some patent protection for a company like Sequenom, albeit at the cost of substantially narrower claim scope.  His suggested approach is discussed in more detail below.

The concurrence by Lourie and Moore found that while the blood fractionation and DNA analysis steps recited in the claims are individually well known, “the innovative aspect of the claims appears to be the improvement in the method of determining fetal genetic characteristics [] consisting of use of the non-cellular fraction of fetal DNA obtained from maternal blood sample.”  The result is a novel, innovative and practical method of diagnosis that constitute a substantial improvement over the highly intrusive means use prior to the invention.

Lourie and Moore went on to find that the claims would not preempt the asserted natural phenomenon, since there exist “other uses for cffDNA and other methods of prenatal diagnostic testing using cffDNA that do not involve the steps recited in the various claims,” and that this “fact should sufficiently address the concern of improperly tying up future use of natural phenomena and laws.”  In other words, these judges appear to support the notion that a claim only raises patent ineligibility concerns if it preempts all applications of a natural phenomenon.  This is in stark contrast to the approach of the panel that decided Ariosa - they treated the question of preemption as essentially irrelevant to the determination of patent eligibility.

Dyk’s concurring opinion largely tracked Lourie and Moore, agreeing that the language of Mayo, while unfortunate, compelled the panel decision in Ariosa.  But Dyk goes on to suggest that in assessing patent eligibility courts should distinguish between a patent eligible concept that is well known and long-standing at the time of invention as opposed to one that is newly discovered.  In his view:
Mayo did not fully take into account the fact that an inventive concept can come not just from creative, unconventional application of a natural law, but also from the creativity and novelty of the discovery of law itself.  This is especially true in the life sciences, or development of useful new diagnostic and therapeutic methods is driven by investigation of complex biological systems.  I worry that method claims that apply newly discovered natural laws and phenomena in some conventional ways are screened out by the Mayo test.  In this regard I think that Mayo may not be entirely consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision in Myriad.

I think Judge Dyk raises a very interesting and insightful point regarding Myriad.  In that case, the Supreme Court found that the genetic sequence of the BRCA genes was a natural phenomenon, but that the corresponding cDNA sequences were nonetheless patent eligible, in spite of the fact that nothing could be more routine and conventional than to synthesize cDNA based on the discovery of a naturally occurring gene.  Judge Dyk inferred that Myriad “recognize[d] that an inventive concept can sometimes come from discovery of an unknown natural phenomenon, not just from unconventional application of the phenomenon.”  He went on to propose a refinement of the Supreme Court’s test for patent eligibility, whereby “the novelty of the discovery [of a natural phenomenon] should be enough to supply the necessary inventive concept.”

Significantly, under Dyk’s proposed approach, an inventor would only be able to claim applications of a newly discovered natural phenomenon that had been “actually reduced practice, not merely ‘constructively” reduced to practice by filing of a patent application replete with prophetic examples.”  According to Dyk, the resulting claims would be narrow in scope and “would allow the inventor to enjoy an exclusive right to what he himself has invented and put into practice, but not to prevent new applications of the natural law by others.”  In other words, the narrow scope of the claims would obviate the preemption concerns underlying the patent eligibility doctrine.

Dyk’s concurrence concludes by suggesting that:
A future case is likely to present a patent claim where the inventive concept resides the newly discovered law of nature or natural phenomenon, but the claims narrowly drawn and actually reduced practice.  That case will, I hope, provide the Supreme Court with an opportunity to revisit theMayo/Alice framework in this one limited aspect.

The third opinion was a dissent by Judge Newman.  Not surprisingly, she agreed with the other judges that the decision below was wrongly decided, but she did not “share their view that this incorrect decision is required by Supreme Court precedent.”  She found that the facts of Ariosa diverge significantly from those in Mayo and Myriad, and that the patent eligibility of Sequenom’s claims could be upheld without contravening Supreme Court precedent.

 

 

 

 

 

          Following the trail of "fatalism" in direct-to-consumer genomics        

"Fatalism", which is the acceptance of all things and events as inevitable, has been applied as a reason to caution direct-to-consumer genomics. This label raises many questions: such as whether fatalism is truly an outcome of knowing information contained in our own genome? Or is a genetic fatalism different than one from knowing our family healthy history? What can we learn from those who have experienced a sense of genetic fatalism?

We turn to academia for the answers.

"The Future of Personal Genomics" postulates that while genetic testing "...studies are invaluable for understanding disease pathogenesis, but the present utility of this information for making treatment decisions is limited. Just because an association between genetic variation and disease is statistically significant does not mean that it is clinically meaningful" The authors support their opinion with, "For some, it might lead to fatalism and reduced compliance with healthy choices. As a result, many clinicians are “not at all enthusiastic about rushing out to test people in the clinic” for these genes (7)." The word fatalism doesn't actually appear in reference (7) but does appear in reference (8).

Reference (8) leads to "Potential for Genetics to Promote Public Health: Genetics Research on Smoking Suggests Caution About Expectations"

"Results indicate that knowledge of a small personal increase in risk is insufficient to facilitate smokers’ quitting, consistent with evolving evidence that genetic risk information may be ineffectual in motivating behavior change 22 or potentially may even be harmful by inducing fatalism, feelings of impotency, or loss of willpower.23"

Reference 23 is "The impact of learning of a genetic predisposition to nicotine dependence: an analogue study" a study of 269 British adult smokers which found that "Gene positive participants were significantly more likely to choose the cessation method described as effective for their genetic status, but significantly less likely to choose to use their own willpower." Is their reluctance to use willpower a result of genetic fatalism? The authors promote fatalism to support this theory with, "Genetic risks are sometimes seen as immutable and may engender a sense of fatalism. 7"

Reference 7 leads to "Will genetic testing for predisposition for disease result in fatalism? A qualitative study of parents responses to neonatal screening for familial hypercholesterolaemia", a study of 24 British parents of infants that were tested for a genetic predisposition for high cholesterol.

The paper only mentions "fatalism" in the title and the abstract "Conclusion: these pilot data raise questions about the extent to which assessing disease risks by DNA analysis may result in a sense of fatalism, adversely affecting motivation to change behaviour and to reduce risks."

Additional items of relevance that the authors acknowledge:

"Although family histories of heart disease were taken from all parents, not all parents appeared to be informed that the screening test was specifically a genetic test. As consultations were not tape recorded, however, it is not possible to assess the extent to which parents responses were determined by the information presented at the clinic."

and

"...genetic testing, perceptions of genes were only explored if participants raised them first."

and

"As the themes presented here were produced spontaneously by participants, rather than in response to specific questions, some of these representations were generated by only a small proportion of the sample. Whether or not the remaining participants represented cholesterol and genes in a similar fashion is not known."

and

"As the sample was small in size, it was not possible to ascertain whether sociodemographic factors such as gender, ethnicity and sociodemographic status were associated with the perceptions described. In addition, these findings may not be generalisable to other types of genetic testing, such as screening for recessive conditions or screening of populations aware of their high risk." (Perhaps the authors of the smoking study missed that last part?)

An important point to note is that the authors of the high cholesterol study do not state whether the 24 British parents were given any genetic counseling about the results.

With no additional sources for the word "fatalism" left to follow, we are left with the sum of the results: a mere 269 clinically tested British adults and unknown number of infants are the aggregate for the term "fatalism" being applied to direct-to-consumer genetic testing.


          Borneo Pygmy Elephant        

PYGMY ELEPHANT

Common Name - Borneo Pygmy Elephant

Scientific Name - Elephas maximus or sometimes Elephas maximus borneensis, although they have not been officially determined to be a separate subspecies from mainland Asian elephants

Habitat - Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests

Location - Sabah, Borneo (northeast tip of the island), Malaysia and occasionally into East Kalimantan, Indonesia

Status - Endangered

Population - Unknown, estimated to be 1500 or fewer

Borneo pygmy elephants are smaller than other Asian elephants. The males may only grow to less than 2.5 meters, while other Asian elephants grow up to 3 meters. They also have babyish faces, larger ears, longer tails that reach almost to the ground and are more rotund. These elephants are also less aggressive than other Asian elephants.

Habitat

Major Habitat Type

Concentrated in Sabah, particularly the floodplain, tributaries and the upper catchment of the Kinabatangan River - but their route has been cut off by illegal loggers and the elephants have not been there in years. They occasionally range into East Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Biogeographic Realm - Indo- Malaya

Range States - Malaysia, Indonesia

Geographical Location - Northeast Borneo


Physical Description

Why is this species important?

Until recently the pygmy elephants of Borneo were believed to be a remnant population of a domesticated herd abandoned on the island by the Sultan of Sulu in the 17th century. But a 2003 DNA analysis carried out by WWF and Columbia University proved that the pygmy elephants were genetically distinct from other Asian elephants, thereby recognizing it as a likely new subspecies and emphasizing its conservation priority.

According to the DNA evidence these elephants were isolated about 300,000 years ago from their cousins on mainland Asia and Sumatra. During that period, they became smaller with relatively larger ears, longer tails and straighter tusks.

The evolutionary history of Borneo's elephants justifies their recognition as a separate evolutionary significant unit (ESU).

Ecology and habitat

Diet

The Asian elephant is one of the largest forest herbivores in the world. A single adult can eat up to 150 kgs of vegetation everyday, feeding mostly on species of palms, grasses and wild bananas. They also require minerals which they receive from salt licks or mineral concentrations in limestone outcrops.

Threats

The primary threat to these elephants is the loss of continuous forests. Mammals of their size require large feeding grounds and viable breeding populations with sizeable male- to female ratios. Shrinking forests have also brought the elephants into more frequent contact with people, increasing human elephant conflict in the region.

The large blocks of forests they require are now being fragmented by encroachment in forest areas and conversion of natural forests into commercial plantations. Human disturbances within forests such as logging, increased agriculture, building of palm oil mills with associated settlements and hunting are rapidly breaking up contact between sub populations, as well as minimizing the areas of forests available for each small group to live and feed on.

---------------------------------------

The Borneo Elephant, also called the Borneo Pygmy Elephant, (Elephas maximus borneensis) is a subspecies of the Asian Elephant and found in north Borneo (east Sabah and extreme north Kalimantan).

Origins

The origin of Borneo elephants is controversial. Two competing hypotheses argued that they are either indigenous, or were introduced, descending from elephants imported in the 16th–18th centuries. In 2003, mitochondrial DNA research has discovered that its ancestors separated from the mainland population during the Pleistocene, about 300,000 years ago. The subspecies currently living in Borneo possibly became isolated from other Asian elephant populations when land bridges that linked Borneo with the other Sunda Islands and the mainland disappeared after the Last Glacial Maximum, 18,000 years ago. Isolation may be the reason it has become smaller with relatively larger ears, longer tails, and relatively straight tusks. Other scientists argue that the Borneo elephant was introduced by the Sultan of Sulu and abandoned, and that the population on Sulu, never considered to be native, was imported from Java. Thus the Borneo elephant may be actually the extinct Javan elephant. Many facts support this hypothesis, including no archaeological evidence of long term elephant habitation of Borneo, a corroboration in folklore and the lack of the elephants colonizing the entire island of Borneo

Description

The Borneo elephant is smaller than all the other subspecies of the Asian elephant. The Borneo elephant is also remarkably tame and passive, another reason some scientists think it was descended from a domestic collection.

Conservation status

Wild Asian elephant populations are disappearing as expanding human development disrupts their migration routes, depletes their food sources, and destroys their habitat. Recognizing these elephants as native to Borneo makes their conservation a high priority and gives biologists important clues about how to manage them.

In Aug 2007 it was reported that there are probably not more than 1,000 pygmy elephants left in Sabah, after a two year study by WWF.

          Tagging Pygmy Elephants In Borneo        
PHYGMY ELEPHANT FEATURE STORY

Tagging pygmy elephants in Borneo
By Jan Vertefeuille


There’s an elephant less than six metres in front of me and yet I can’t make out any part of her in the dense Borneo jungle. So congested is the jungle with vines and leaves that seeing and walking become arduous tasks.

But we can hear her. Immobilized by the sedative shot into her rump but still conscious, the pygmy elephant calls out to her herd for help using infrasound, uttering a soft, low rumble from the back of her throat. Elephants are famously protective of their families and the rest of the herd is distressed by their matriarch’s apparent troubles. There is much trumpeting from the bush. How many elephants are surrounding us, we can’t tell.

The WWF team moves quickly, and quietly, to lessen the stress on our target elephant. We’re here to put a satellite tracking collar on her as part of WWF’s research to learn more about the pygmy elephants of Borneo and how best to protect them. It’s the first time anyone has ever studied Borneo’s elephants and WWF is collaring five of them on the northeast tip of the island. It will be the largest study ever done to track Asian elephants via satellite.

Searching for an elephant in a jungle
The elephant in front of us has been dubbed Nancy, in honour of long-time elephant conservation supporter Nancy Abraham. One member of our team covers the elephant’s eyes with cotton as WWF scientist Dr Christy Williams hoists the 10kg collar over her neck. Enough room is left to ensure the collar isn’t too tight, but not so loose that she could slip it off. The collar houses GPS and satellite units that will convey Nancy’s location to a website checked daily by WWF scientists to track the herd’s movements through the Borneo rain forest.

The Borneo jungle doesn’t give up its secrets easily. Following in an elephant’s footsteps through knee-deep mud, through walls of vines that cling to every surface, and beneath underbrush dripping with hungry leeches is a slow and sometimes frustrating process. Who would have thought finding and darting an animal as a large as an elephant would be so hard. It’s almost like looking for a needle in a haystack.

The collaring team from the Sabah Wildlife Department in Malaysia and WWF’s Borneo office are used to spending days, sometimes weeks, inside the jungle looking for the elusive species.

“If you go inside the jungle, you can feel how big it is,” says William Joseph, a 35-year-old elephant tracker with WWF in Borneo.

Joseph and his fellow tracker and brother, Engelbert, can look at grass bent over by elephants and know which way they went, or see a pile of elephant dung on the road and know how long since they have passed by and how many there were.

Make room for the pygmies
The jungles of Borneo are big. In fact, the island’s forests are one of the only places left in Southeast Asia where it is still possible to conserve forests on a very large scale. But world demand for palm oil — used in common products like hand lotion, ice cream and chocolate — is driving the rapid conversion of the pygmy elephants’ forests into palm oil plantations.

Elephants — even pygmy ones — require large feeding grounds, as well as access to members of the opposite sex for breeding. Shrinking forests and blocks of habitat cut off from one another make it difficult for elephants to thrive. It also brings the elephants into more frequent contact with people, increasing human-elephant conflict in the region. As forests shrink, elephants are increasingly closer to fields and cultivated land, generating conflict with humans that often result in the death of the elephants by poisoning or capture, as well as economic losses to humans.

Putting collars on the elephants will be a huge step forward in scientists’ understanding of the pygmy elephants and which forests are most important to them — and hence, the most crucial to preserve. And the collars will make keeping track of them much easier for WWF, the only conservation organization working to protect the population.

“Our field team has tracked elephants on foot for weeks at a time to gather data, but it’s very difficult and labor-intensive,” says Raymond Alfred, WWF’s project manager of the Asian Rhinoceros and Elephant Action Strategy (AREAS). “We are still in the process of figuring out how to get optimum outputs from the use of this tagging technology.”

WWF elephant experts expect the collars to give them insight into how much ground each herd covers, what type of forest they prefer to feed in, how they react to logging and other human disturbance in the forest, and what habitat is most crucial to the elephants’ future survival. Nancy doesn’t know it, but she’s helping scientists save her species.

Survival of the species
So little is known about the Borneo pygmy elephant that it’s not even known how many there are. WWF’s AREAS Programme estimates that there are about 1,000 to 1,500 of them, but probably no more than that.

“Further studies are needed to better understand this population and exactly how it differs from other Asian elephants,” said Williams, who leads WWF’s Asian elephant conservation efforts.

What is known is that Borneo elephants are less aggressive and smaller than other Asian elephants, with males growing perhaps only as tall as 2.5m, while other Asian elephants can grow to 3m. They also have larger ears and longer tails and are more rotund, making even adult pygmy elephants look like juveniles.

As Nancy gets fitted with her new collar, another member of the collaring team takes her measurements with a very large measuring tape, while another team member does a quick walkaround to check for scars, injuries and other identifying marks. She’s a big elephant, probably around 40, and appears to be pregnant — something the team will be able to determine in the coming months as it starts to keep closer tabs on her.

Until recently, the origins of the Borneo pygmy elephant were in dispute. Many believed they were remnants of a domesticated herd abandoned on the island by the Sultan of Sulu in the 17th century. If they were simply domesticated elephants gone feral, that would make them a low conservation priority for the Malaysian government. But in 2003, a DNA analysis by WWF and Columbia University researchers proved the pygmy elephants are genetically different from other Asian elephants and thus a separate subspecies. The evidence suggests that they became isolated from other elephant populations about 300,000 years ago and developed their distinctive characteristics over this time.

As an endangered subspecies, they are of high conservation priority. WWF is moving quickly to learn all we can about them, as much of their rain forest habitat is converted into commercial tree plantations.

In less than 25 minutes, the collaring is complete. Everyone backs quickly away as a team member injects a dartful of antidote into her rump. Nancy calls to her herd and angry trumpets can be heard from the group as they rush to check on her.

Wonder what they think of the new neckwear she’s now sporting?

* Jan Vertefeuille is a Senior Communications Officer at WW-US.

END NOTES:

• The Island of Borneo, the world’s third largest island — split between the countries of Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia — is known for its rain forests, which rival those of the Amazon and New Guinea in biological diversity. These rich forests provide habitat for elephants, rhinos and orangutans, as well as a vast array of distinct creatures, from giant moths to flying squirrels, horn-billed birds to color-changing lizards.

• According to a WWF report — Borneo: Treasure Island at Risk — rampant logging and the conversion of forests to plantations are driving the destruction of Borneo's forests. There about 2.5 million hectares of oil palm plantations in Borneo. With a current deforestation rate of 1.3 million hectares per year, only peat and montane forests would survive in the coming years. Today, only half of Borneo's forest cover remains, down from 75 per cent in the mid 1980s.

• Through WWF’s Heart of Borneo initiative, the global conservation organization aims to assist Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia to conserve a total of 220,000km² of equatorial rainforest through a network of protected areas and sustainably-managed forest, and through international cooperation led by the Bornean governments and supported by a global effort.

          First snow of the season!        

It feels so good to be back after a month long blogosphere hiatus!  Winter time and the shorter daylight hours have really taken some adjustment to get used to.  My new job is going wonderfully- I feel like such a lucky girl and am continuing to grow in both my creativity and knowledge on the job.  Autumn was such a powerful transitional time for me- and just a few days ago I turned 26- Twenty-six!  I can hardly believe it.  I celebrated with my friends last Sunday, with Daniel on Thursday (my actual birthday) and with family this weekend.  Wow, I really know how to stretch out a celebration, don't I?! Each year I tend to grow fearful of that additional digit- but honestly, this year I feel excited to be a little older.  I have really learned SO much in my twenties and every year I am uncovering more and more, it is such a whirlwind experience and I am wholly grateful for it.  I feel much more grounded than in my early twenties-  more aware of who I am and what I want to be- yet able to admit that I am inherently flawed and not at all perfect- and it's a pretty freeing realization.   


Coat:  Tulle, Tights:  WeLoveColors.com, Dress and Bag:  ModCloth, Hat: H&M, Necklace: Grandmother's <3

I can not tell you how lucky I felt on my birthday this year.  I worked a busy half day at work- where my coworkers sweetly sent me off at 2:00 pm with their well wishes- I hopped into a car with Daniel and drove off to my favorite restaurant in Philly- Vedge.  After our delicious vegetable cuisine (that place is SERIOUSLY my food Cloud 9) we made a visit to Sweet Freedom Bakery and took a stroll down South Street where I discovered a fun 70s poncho for 40% off! That was enough for me- but Daniel went above and beyond this year- surprising me with this amazing camera dress from ModCloth and a gorgeous pink cardigan covered in roses.   I gushed with joy when my in-laws gifted me with the adorable fox purse a few days later, they make the perfect quirky combo in my book ;) The most amazing gift of all? (besides being able to see the people I love most for my birthday).  National Geographic's Geno 2.0- a DNA analysis kit that allows you to trace your deep ancestral roots and reveals specific details about your genetic makeup.  I know, I am such a nerd- but it is something I have been interested in for so long- and to be able to participate is like a dream come true for me.  I can not wait to see my results!  

Getting back to this wintery scene-the first snow of the season fell today and boy did it accumulate fast.  Looking out my window- it finally appears to be slowing down- but not without leaving nearly a foot of snow!  It is officially winter time in Delaware, and while I am enjoying the sight of a white winter wonderland my summer heart longs for the sights of green grass and bright poppies from warmer days.

 It is truly amazing how a little snow can make even the dreariest setting look magical.  Usually I wouldn't find the back of our apartment buildings to be a desirable place to shoot, but admittedly it was the easiest place to walk to- and equally gorgeous in this spontaneous snow-down!
Although I much prefer warmer weather, there is something so innately playful and also comforting about a landscape blanketed in snow- the notion that life outside is slowing down- the perfect time and setting for cuddling up to your favorite book or movie and sipping something warm.  There is something to that carefree, "anything goes" approach to running in the snow, and then coming back inside to feel your wind-chapped cheeks rewarming near a hot fire or beside the heater under a warm blanket.  Winter is a time to nestle, to reccoperate, to nurture and rejuvenate; to layer and bundle, to hug and cocoon; to read,write and lounge and to rediscover life's circular rhythm.  

So now that I have sufficiently given myself a good kick in the pants back to the blog, I plan on keeping up with my posting once again.  It seems that every now and then it takes some readjustment time to get myself back on track.  I am wishing you all a beautiful December and hoping your holiday seasons are going well so far, I can not wait to catch up on all of your recent thoughts, ideas, and adventures!

xo, Alyssa


          Spring summary        
You may well have spotted that I haven't been that good at keeping the blog up to date (and that's perhaps a bit of an understatement), but hopefully you have all been keeping an eye on Fair Isle news via our latest sightings page (updated daily), our facebook page or our Twitter account.
Below is a bit of a random collection of images from the spring since my last update. We'll also publish an update soon on some of the more interesting piece of ringing news from the spring and then there should be seabird news to report.  
 
Arriving almost exactly a year after the first Fair Isle record, this male Moltoni's Warbler was the rarest bird in national terms recorded during the spring. The distinctive underpart coloration was surprisingly variable in the field, but the rattling call and DNA analysis confirmed the identification beyond any doubt. (photo: Lee Gregory)
Having been newly 'promoted' to BBRC status, Tawny Pipit chose to make its first arrival on Fair Isle for 10 years. (photo: Lee Gregory)
Another species that has just gone back on the BBRC list is Rustic Bunting; this bird at Utra was our first since 2013. There have been no autumn records since 2009. (photo: Lee Gregory)
We all knew we'd had to get an Egret eventually, the main debate was whether it would be Great White or Little that would find us first; in the end it was the larger of the two that became Fair Isle's 385th species.
The first non-BBRC Blyth's Reed Warbler for Fair Isle. The species has been annual on Fair Isle since 2009, during which time there have been 15 records, equalling the number seen during the rest of FIBO's history. (photo: Lee Gregory)
Two Greenish Warblers arrived on the same day in spring, both were typically mobile. (photo: Lee Gregory)
Greenish Warbler meets Fulmar.
The first 'pink' Rose-coloured Starling on Fair Isle since 2007. This is a lovely retro 'record shot', although the initial views were much better as the bird landed on a net pole in the garden as the team were ringing a Crossbill. (photo: Chris Dodd)
 
The first Nightingale since 2012 was trapped at the end of June. Susannah missed the last one as she was in Lerwick having just given birth to Freyja and was in Lerwick for this one as well, although just for a meeting this time rather than a baby. (photo: Ciaran Hatsell)
Three Hobby sightings were all far enough part in dates to suggest they involved different birds, all sadly proved untwitchable. (photo: Lee Gregory)
Two Cranes put on a great show as they flew down the island, fed on Malcolm's Head for a while, circled out to sea a couple of times then ended up near Hoini. (photo: Lee Gregory)
The regular site of Bull's Park again attracted Dotterel, with a trip of four present for a couple of days. (photo: Lee Gregory)
One of the most memorable days of the year was Fair Isle's best ever seawatch on 13th May, when 40 Long-tailed (including the group in the photo above) and 13 Pomarine Skuas passed South Light, eclipsing all previous records for both species. (photo: Lee Gregory)
A very confiding adult Long-tailed Skua spent most of the day around Gilsetter and the Parks a few days later. Nice.
The 'epic' seawatch had started quiet quietly, with a blue Fulmar (above), an Arctic Tern and a Black-headed Gull the only 'notable' birds from the first 45 minutes! (photo: Lee Gregory)
Although the westerly winds restricted migration somewhat, most of the expected scarcities put in appearances (only Wood Warbler and Corncrake were missing from the usual annually occurring species. Totals included: 3 Short-toed Larks, 6 Red-backed Shrikes, 3 Bluethroats, 3 Common Rosefinch, 5 Icterine Warblers, 2 Wrynecks, 7 Marsh Warblers, 5 Hawfinch and an Osprey.  This male Red-backed Shrike was at Taft, where it posed atmospherically! (photo: Ciaran Hatsell)
One of the 5 Hawfinch from the spring. (photo: Lee Gregory)
 
Despite the westerly winds, there were very few Lapland Buntings, although this very smart male graced the Obs feeders for a couple of days .(photo: Lee Gregory)
Common migrants were generally only present in small numbers, so the traps have been quieter this year than 2014, although a few surprises still appeared including this Long-eared Owl. (photo: Lee Gregory)
littoralis Rock Pipits passed through in small numbers in the spring and also included three birds in late June, at least one of which was breeding on the island (photo: Lee Gregory)
With more time on our hands due to spells where migrants were thin on the ground, we were able to concentrate on other things. The Obs garden has been significantly extended, sightings of birds with colour-rings and darvics increased and even Redpolls got a lot more attention! This interesting bird was present in mid-June and in the field looked rather large and pale, although measurements when it was trapped suggested 'Mealy Redpoll' was the  most likely identification - most Mealys at this time of year aren't as pale as this one though. (photo: Lee Gregory)
 
No doubting this beast, it's a 'Greenland Redpoll' - dark, stripy and dwarfing the Twite. During its stay it reached a weight of 24.6g, more than double the smallest Lesser Redpoll caught this spring (11.1g). If the Redpolls end up being lumped, they'll surely be one of the most variable passerines we see in Britain (photo: Lee Gregory)
This one was another intruiging beast, large (much bigger than the Mealy on the left) and pale. It was already ringed but, annoyingly, it resisted all attempts to catch it.
Whatever they all are (this one was dark enough to suggest Lesser, but measurements were closer to Mealy), they can be really bonny birds and they certainly provide plenty of opportunities for conversation!





 



 

 







 
 



          Happy New Birds (and some old friends from 2014)        
Happy New Year to you all. It’s been a rather blustery start to the year, with some strong winds, heavy rain showers, a bit of hail and a rather nice display of Northern Lights.
A visit to North Light on the night of 4th January failed to produce any of the hoped for Northern Lights, but despite it being too cloudy for any aurora, my Dad still managed to get arty with his camera (photo: D.Parnaby Snr).

The Christmas festivities have seen a Panto, Carol Service, Guising, New Year Party, 'Christmas Tree' party, another New Year Party and a good deal of socialising besides. We're back to work now though, with Directflight taking bookings for 2015, so plenty of calls and emails to get through about people staying at the Obs this year as well as report writing etc as we look forward to what is bound to be another exciting year on Fair Isle.
Birding has produced some decent bits and bobs, but actually very little that hasn’t been lingering since the back end of 2014. The Buzzard is the pick of the bunch amongst those, in fact it’s such a scarce bird in Shetland that it has been added to the local description list at the start of 2015 – so it becomes our first description of the year, despite having been present since October! Three Tundra Bean Geese (re?)appeared on 28th December and also made it to the New Year (although they have been dropped as a local description species after several influxes in recent years), whilst other highlights include Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull, Mealy Redpoll, Water Rail, Merlin and, more unusually, two Sparrowhawk, amongst the 48 species now recorded in 2015 (thanks to Logan for the regular text updates during the last few days letting me know how he was getting on with building the year list up).
A wintering male Sparrowhawk was joined by this immature female from early January, which became the first bird to be ringed on the isle in 2015 when it was caught in the Plantation today (photo: Dave Parnaby Snr).
So, whilst things are relatively quiet, I’ll have a quick review of a few things from 2014, starting with some darvic-ringed wildfowl that were seen by quite a few of our visitors. It was a good year for sightings of these individually marked birds, with the first two being Whooper Swans ‘Yellow BTB’ and ‘Yellow BTD’ that were both ringed in Iceland on 5th August 2013 (and seen again in Iceland on 20th April 2014) before being seen on Fair Isle on 29thSeptember 2014. The next Whooper to be individually identified in a strong autumn passage of the species was ‘Red BLL’, ringed in February 2012 at Martin Mere WWT (in Lancs), next seen in December 2013 at Welney (Norfolk) before turning up on Fair Isle on 7th October.  Long-staying Whooper Swans on Fair Isle rarely do well (there are only about seven years where birds have successfully overwintered and two of those years were a bird that hung around with domestic geese!), so when BLL was still present with a couple other Whoopers at the start of November and ignored the chance to head south with a few small groups of her species that moved through the island, it didn’t look good. Indeed, with the death of her occasional companion on 24th November it seemed only a matter of time before BLL also succumbed. However, one islander took pity on BLL and went out every day with food (to the extent that we had our own mini-version of the WWT ‘swan lake’ events, with BLL flying in every day at the same time to the field where she was being fed) and this did the job as she was last seen on 1stDecember, having apparently continued her migration.

BLL pictured in late October by Ciaran Hatsell. Keep your eyes open for her in Norfolk (and elsewhere) as we'd love to know where she's gone.

Also of interest was the flock of 130+ Barnacle Geese grounded on Fair Isle by poor weather from 6th October for a few days. Amongst these, we were able to pick out four darvic rings: NAP, SAZ, SID and PVI. NAP was ringed as a female gosling at Aalesund (Norway) on 2nd August 1996 (making her older than some of our staff!), SAZ (the partner of NAP) was ringed as an adult male at the same site in July 2000, with both birds having not been seen since spring migration through Norway in 2013. PVI was ringed as an adult female in July 1999 and was last seen in March 2014 at RSPB Mersehead. Despite the name, SID was actually a female, ringed as a yearling in July 2000 and last seen on spring migration in Norway in 2014. Interestingly, the last sighting of SID in winter was at WWT Caerlaverock in November 2011, whilst SAZ last winter record was from the same site in December 2009 – so I wonder where they now spend the winter? Many thanks to the WWT for getting back to us so quickly with the details of these records.
Part of the Barnacle Goose flock that contained the darvic-ringed birds.
FIBO 2013 Annual Report - out now. The front cover features a Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll photographed by Steve Arlow.
On another subject entirely, the 2013 Annual Report is now available, with copies having been sent out to FOFI members in the autumn. If you’d like a copy, please send a cheque for £12 (which includes p&p to UK addresses) or phone with your card details.  As well as the systematic list, ringing report, seabird report and monthly summary there are write-ups on the remarkable Swinhoe’s Petrel records (including a paper on biometric, sound and DNA analysis), Red-eyed Vireo, Sykes’s Warbler and Collared Flycatcher, a short paper on DNA in modern birding by Professor Martin Collinson and plenty more besides.
Some of the displays of Aurora have been pretty impressive (more so than my camera allows me to show here), always one of the highlights of a winter on Fair Isle.


          Third Scottish Genealogy Network CPD Day        
On Saturday 10 May 2014 around 25 genealogists met at the Highland Archive Centre in Inverness for the Scottish Genealogy Network’s Continual Professional Development (CPD) day. The Archive Centre was a perfect venue and the hospitality shown by the Highland Archive Centre was the icing (literally!) on the cake.


Built just a few years ago, this state of the art archive is a mere dream for most archivists. We were invited to tour the building on Friday and had a behind the scenes look at the extensive storage facilities and the excellent conservation room.

The CPD day began with an interesting talk by Michael Tobias of JewishGen, who explained to us how we can optimise genealogy searches and collate and organise our data. If we can learn to do this more efficiently we can more quickly and clearly identify individuals we are looking for, especially in larger projects such as one-name studies. Michael demonstrated how we can minimise loss of search results due to indexing errors, reminding us the useful ‘fuzzy search’ feature on the Scotland’s People website. It is a shame that for some reason that the ‘fuzzy search’ feature is not currently available in the Scotland’s People centre.

The next talk, ‘Making the Best Use of Sheriff Court Records’, was given by Graham Maxwell of Maxwell Ancestry, who spoke about one particular type of case useful to genealogists: ‘affiliation and aliment’ actions in cases of illegitimacy. He explained how to locate both extracted decrees and court processes which could hold vital genealogical information as well as give an insight into the lives of ancestors. Initial research has shown that around 10% of illegitimate births in the 1850s may have resulted in an extracted decree, and an additional 5% of such births resulted in other cases which can be found among the processes of the Sheriff Courts.

After a short break (which involved some more cupcakes), we enjoyed listening to Kirsty Wilkinson of My Ain Folk’s talk ‘Edinburgh Army Attestation Registers’. This exciting resource, held by Edinburgh City Archives, does not just contain records of men from Edinburgh. Kirsty’s detailed research has revealed that men from all over Scotland are recorded as attesting, and even more surprisingly, men from across Ireland, England and Wales also appear. The regiments they joined were also unexpectedly diverse. Not only did the talk help us to understand this valuable resource, it also reminded us of the importance of not neglecting local records when we’re researching. The details held within these registers could provide the vital piece of information we need to get over our ‘brick wall’ and continue with our research. 


The last talk before lunch was given by Lorna Kinnaird, of DunEdin Links Genealogy. Lorna has been working hard as a volunteer in her local school over the last few months, teaching Primary 7 pupils about the First World War in a manner that they could easily engage with. She has  arranged for historians to come into the school with WWI artefacts (which the children really enjoyed) and also arranged a trip to the National Records of Scotland (NRS). Lorna is really passionate about history, especially genealogy, and wanted the children to have the opportunity to visit the NRS themselves and be able to do some of their own research. Many of the children were able to research someone connected to their family and some were able to trace their tree back a number of generations in that one visit. Hopefully this taster will encourage the children to continue learning about history. 


After lunch we eagerly took our seats to listen to Ali Macdonald, of Family Tree DNA, talk about some current Scottish DNA projects and help us better understand the rapidly developing subject of DNA testing for genealogy purposes. The talk was fascinating as DNA research has become such an important tool for genealogists. Ali reminded us how important it is to understand how to interpret the results correctly, making the most of the possibilities of DNA testing in conjunction with evidence from written sources. Exciting discoveries are being made frequently as the Clans, Families and Surnames of Scotland are being unraveled. Despite having the same modern-day surname, DNA analysis has shown that we can separate those with the same surname into different families with different migration patterns. Ali gave us a handout which included some very useful Scottish DNA websites:

Next up was Jean Dickson, who spoke about social bookmarking and Excel tips. It’s all too easy to read a blog or visit a website, finding a great resource but promptly forgetting about it when we continue browsing! Jean uses Delicious to store and tag websites she wants to come back to later. One of the great advantages of this is that she can access these from any computer and share them with fellow researchers. A helpful tip Jean gave us was to be consistent in tagging. For example, if you were to tag one website ‘prison’, but another similar site ‘prisoner’, when you search your links a year later using the term ‘prison’, the site with ‘prisoner’ tag will not appear. This talk reminded us of the importance of being an organised genealogist.

After a short break, we had the final talk of the day, which was given by Judith Russell, a genealogist based in Glasgow. The title was entitled ‘Glasgow Families in WWI: Lord Provosts and Red Clydesiders’. Judith has carefully researched some of the key characters in this important and dramatic period of Glasgow’s history, using a wide variety of sources, and brought the subject to life in an informative and well-illustrated talk. I believe Judith will be giving a similar talk to this in August at Who Do You Think You Are? Live in Glasgow: tickets should be on sale for that event in a day or two!

All in all, it was a great day where everybody benefited from the talks and conversations throughout the programme. If you are a professional genealogist working in Scotland and would like to be at our next CPD day, or come to one of our monthly meetings, please contact the group's secretary, Emma Maxwell, for further details at scotsgenenet @ gmail.com




          First wolf to visit Grand Canyon in a half century is shot dead        
An endangered gray wolf shot to death in Utah was positively identified Wednesday as the female lobo seen last fall on the north rim of the Grand Canyon, the first of its kind to be seen in the region in half a century. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service used DNA analysis to confirm that
          Calamaya family from Leyte        
Hello. Looking for any info or connections. There were two brothers in the late 1800s that were supposedly Chinese. A relative said there was a photo of them with silk robes and long braids that seems to back this up (also my DNA analysis from other sites has A LOT of Chinese). I do not know their names. However, they are my great great grandfather and great great uncle.

The uncle had a son named Florencio Calamaya. I don't know if he had other children.

The other had my great grandfather and his siblings born around 1900. Their names are Ciriaco Calamaya, Gregorio Calamaya, Teofilo Calamaya, and Candida Calamaya. Ciriaco was my great grandfather. He was a jeweler and a Philippine guerilla during WWii, I'm not sure if his brothers were as well. One of his brothers was a bus driver and some sort of medicine man. The other owned a shoe repair shop. The cousin worked for the gvt fishery dept.

I have hit a wall on this side of my family, so hoping anyone might have some clues.
          Pet Bird Health, Hygiene & Safety        

More Publications:
  • Anderson, Sue. "The Bird Owner's To-Do List, Bird Talk, 17 (Apr. 99): 14-19.
  • Beck, Louise. "Light Makes a Difference," Bird Talk, 17 (Feb. 99): 30-36.
  • Chamberlain, Susan. "10 Steps to Bird-Proofing Your Home," Bird Talk, 19 (Feb. 2001): 44-49.
  • Chamberlain, Susan. "Dealing With The Bird Mess Dilemma," Bird Talk, 14 (May 1996): 16-20.
  • Chamberlain, Susan. "Spring Cleaning," Bird Talk, 13 (Mar. 1995): 108-119.
  • Charette, Sally. "A Safe, Clean Sweep: Learn some helpful hints from a fellow bird owner on how to keep your home neat," Bird Talk, 14 (Dec. 1996): 76-83.
  • Clark, Pamela. "A to Z Guide to Bird-Proofing Your Home," Birds U.S.A, 2002/03: 16-25.
  • Clipsham, Robert. "Preventive Health Care," Bird Talk, 14 (Feb. 1996): 41-50.
  • Corbett, Penny. "Ask the Experts: How Clean Is Clean Enough?" Bird Talk, 15 (Aug. 1997): 97-98.
  • Downey, Christine. "Is Your Bird Sick? Take Action," Bird Talk, 16 (Dec. 1998): 72-79.
  • Halvorson, Joy. "The DNA Analysis To Sex Birds," Bird Talk, 11 (Sep. 1993): 56,58-59.
  • Hefton, Donna M.  "The Fundamental Aspect of Care: Bathing the Psittacine," Bird Talk, 15 (April 1997): 16-28.
  • Higdon, Pamela L. "Household Hazards," Bird Talk, 11 (Nov. 1993): 62-82.
  • Huber, Barton C. "Avian Health Care: Environment and diet are the keys to your bird's good health," Bird Talk, 14 (Jun. 1996): 76-83.
  • McWatters, Alicia. "Herbs For Health, Herbs That Heal," Bird Talk, 18 (Apr. 2000): 58-63.
  • McWatters, Alicia. "Holistic Healing: Question and Answer," Bird Talk, 17 (July 1999): 54-63.
  • Nickolin, Theresa. "Avian Care Tips," Bird Talk, 13 (Mar. 1995): 16-26.
  • Rossum, Sharon J. & Anderson, Elizabeth. "Back Talk: Birds Left Together Leads to Injury," Bird Talk, 18 (Feb. 2000): 4 (mentions grey cheek).
  • Smith, Jeanne. "First Aid for Avian Emergencies: Learn how to react when your bird needs you most," Bird Talk, 14 (Jan. 1996): 32-36.
  • Sweat, Rebecca. "The Air They Breathe," Bird Talk, 19 (Dec. 2001): 38-43.
  • Wilson, Liz. "Sleep: How Much is Enough for a Parrot?" Bird Times, (Feb. 99): 11.
  • Wissman, Margaret A. "Avian Medicine for the 21st Century," Bird Talk, 20 (June 2002): 22-30.
  • Wissman, Margaret A. "The Avian Respiratory System," Bird Talk, 14 (Aug. 1996): 16-23.
  • Wissman, Margaret A. "The Birds and the Bees," Bird Talk, 17 (Apr. 99): 50-60.
  • Wissman, Margaret A. "Carbon Monoxide: Hidden and Deadly," Bird Talk, 18 (Apr. 2000): 94-95.
  • Wissman, Margaret A. "Causes & Cures: Bathing Your Bird," Bird Talk, 18 (Aug.  2000): 76-77.
  • Wissman, Margaret. "The Top 10 Bird Killers," Bird Talk, 17 (June 1999): 14-23.
  • Wissman, Margaret A. "What to Expect During A Vet Exam," Bird Talk, 14 (Nov. 1996): 126-131.
  • Wissman, Margaret A. and Bill Parsons. "Recognizing Signs of Illness," Bird Talk, 12 (Mar. 1994): 14-17.
  • Wissman, Margaret A. and Bill Parsons. "20 Do's and Don'ts For Pet Bird Owners," Bird Talk, 15 (Aug. 1997): 88-93.


          CPT 81206, 81270, 81403, 81450 - BCR / ABL negative MYELOPROLIFERATIVE        
Procedure codes and Description

Group 1 Codes:

81206 BCR/ABL1 (T(9;22)) (EG, CHRONIC MYELOGENOUS LEUKEMIA) TRANSLOCATION ANALYSIS; MAJOR BREAKPOINT, QUALITATIVE OR QUANTITATIVE

81207 BCR/ABL1 (T(9;22)) (EG, CHRONIC MYELOGENOUS LEUKEMIA) TRANSLOCATION ANALYSIS; MINOR BREAKPOINT, QUALITATIVE OR QUANTITATIVE

81208 BCR/ABL1 (T(9;22)) (EG, CHRONIC MYELOGENOUS LEUKEMIA) TRANSLOCATION ANALYSIS; OTHER BREAKPOINT, QUALITATIVE OR QUANTITATIVE

81219 CALR (CALRETICULIN) (EG, MYELOPROLIFERATIVE DISORDERS), GENE ANALYSIS, COMMON VARIANTS IN EXON 9

81270 JAK2 (JANUS KINASE 2) (EG, MYELOPROLIFERATIVE DISORDER) GENE ANALYSIS, P.VAL617PHE (V617F) VARIANT

81402 MOLECULAR PATHOLOGY PROCEDURE, LEVEL 3 (EG, >10 SNPS, 2-10 METHYLATED VARIANTS, OR 2-10 SOMATIC VARIANTS [TYPICALLY USING NON-SEQUENCING TARGET VARIANT ANALYSIS], IMMUNOGLOBULIN AND T-CELL RECEPTOR GENE REARRANGMENTS, DUPLICATION/DELETION VARIANTS OF 1 EXON, LOSS OF HETEROZYGOSITY [LOH], UNIPARENTAL DISOMY [UPD])

81403 MOLECULAR PATHOLOGY PROCEDURE, LEVEL 4 (EG, ANALYSIS OF SINGLE EXON BY DNA SEQUENCE ANALYSIS, ANALYSIS OF >10 AMPLICONS USING MULTIPLEX PCR IN 2 OR MORE INDEPENDENT REACTIONS, MUTATION SCANNING OR DUPLICATION/DELETION VARIANTS OF 2-5 EXONS)

81445 TARGETED GENOMIC SEQUENCE ANALYSIS PANEL, SOLID ORGAN NEOPLASM, DNA ANALYSIS, AND RNA ANALYSIS WHEN PERFORMED, 5-50 GENES (EG, ALK, BRAF, CDKN2A, EGFR, ERBB2, KIT, KRAS, NRAS, MET, PDGFRA, PDGFRB, PGR, PIK3CA, PTEN, RET), INTERROGATION FOR SEQUENCE VARIANTS AND COPY NUMBER VARIANTS OR REARRANGEMENTS, IF PERFORMED

81450 TARGETED GENOMIC SEQUENCE ANALYSIS PANEL, HEMATOLYMPHOID NEOPLASM OR DISORDER, DNA ANALYSIS, AND RNA ANALYSIS WHEN PERFORMED, 5-50 GENES (EG, BRAF, CEBPA, DNMT3A, EZH2, FLT3, IDH1, IDH2, JAK2, KRAS, KIT, MLL, NRAS, NPM1, NOTCH1), INTERROGATION FOR SEQUENCE VARIANTS, AND COPY NUMBER VARIANTS OR REARRANGEMENTS, OR ISOFORM EXPRESSION OR MRNA EXPRESSION LEVELS, IF PERFORMED

81455 TARGETED GENOMIC SEQUENCE ANALYSIS PANEL, SOLID ORGAN OR HEMATOLYMPHOID NEOPLASM, DNA ANALYSIS, AND RNA ANALYSIS WHEN PERFORMED, 51 OR GREATER GENES (EG, ALK, BRAF, CDKN2A, CEBPA, DNMT3A, EGFR, ERBB2, EZH2, FLT3, IDH1, IDH2, JAK2, KIT, KRAS, MLL, NPM1, NRAS, MET, NOTCH1, PDGFRA, PDGFRB, PGR, PIK3CA, PTEN, RET), INTERROGATION FOR SEQUENCE VARIANTS AND COPY NUMBER VARIANTS OR REARRANGEMENTS, IF PERFORMED

81479 UNLISTED MOLECULAR PATHOLOGY PROCEDURE


Coverage Indications, Limitations, and/or Medical Necessity


This policy provides coverage for multi-gene non-NGS panel testing and NGS testing for the diagnostic workup for myeloproliferative disease (MPD), and limited coverage for single-gene testing of patients with BCR-ABL negative MPD. MPD includes polycythemia vera (PV), essential thrombocytopenia (ET), and primary myelofibrosis (PMF).

For laboratories performing single gene technologies, a sequential genetic testing approach is expected. Once a positive result is obtained and the appropriate diagnosis is established, further testing should stop. Reflex testing to the next gene will be considered reasonable and necessary if the following sequence of genetic tests produce a negative result:

BCR-ABL negative test results, progress to #2

JAK 2, cv negative test results, progress to #3 or #4

JAK, exon 12 (JAK2 exon 12 is only done when PV is suspected)

CALR/MPD (CALR/MPD is only done when either ET or PMF is suspected; testing for CALR/MPD does NOT require a negative JAK2 exon 12, just a negative JAK2 V617F result)


Genetic testing of the JAK2 V617F mutation (81270) is medically necessary when the following criteria are met:
Genetic testing impacts medical management; and

Patient would meet World Health Organization’s diagnostic criteria for myeloproliferative disease (i.e. polycythemia vera, essential thrombocytopenia, primary myelofibrosis) if JAK2 V617F were identified.


Genetic testing of JAK2 exon 12 (81403), performed to identify PV, is medically necessary when the following criteria are met:
Genetic testing impacts medical management; and

Patient would meet World Health Organization’s diagnostic criteria for PV, if JAK2 exon 12 testing were positive; and

JAK2 V617F mutation analysis was previously completed and was negative.


Genetic testing of the CALR gene (81479) (only found in ET and PMF) is medically necessary when the following criteria are met:
Genetic testing impacts medical management; and

JAK2 V617F mutation analysis was previously completed and negative; and

Patient would meet World Health Organization’s diagnostic criteria for MPD (i.e. ET, PMF) if a clonal marker were identified.


Genetic testing of the MPD gene (81402) is medically necessary when the following criteria are met:
Genetic testing impacts medical management; and

JAK2 V617F mutation analysis was previously completed and negative; and

Patient would meet World Health Organization’s diagnostic criteria for MPD (i.e. ET, MPF) if a clonal marker were identified.


Note: In a single-gene sequential approach (not mandated by this policy), CALR would be a higher priority single gene test than MPD because:
CALR mutations is more prevalent than MPD mutations in ET/PMF patients; and

CALF mutations are reported to predict a more indolent disease course than patients with JAK2 mutations.


For laboratories performing next generation sequencing (NGS or “hotspot”) testing platforms: Molecular testing for BCR-ABL, JAK 2, JAK, exon 12, and CALR/MPD genes by NGS is covered as medically necessary for the identification of myeloproliferative disorders.

Background

Myeloproliferative Disorders

Myeloproliferative disorders are a group of conditions that cause abnormal growth of blood cells in the bone marrow. They include polycythemia vera (PV), essential thrombocytosis (ET), primary myelofibrosis (PMF), and chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). The World Health Organization (WHO) further classifies PV, ET, and PMF as Philadelphia chromosome negative myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). The diagnosis of an MPN is suspected based upon clinical, laboratory, and pathological findings (i.e. bone marrow morphology). MPNs are related, but distinct from, myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). In general, MDS are characterized by ineffective or dysfunctional blood cells, while MPN are characterized by an increase in the number of blood cells.

Polycythemia Vera

Polycythemia vera is a chronic myeloproliferative disease characterized by increased hemoglobin, hematocrit, and red blood cell mass. There is an associated increased risk for thrombosis and transformation to acute myelogenous leukemia or primary myelofibrosis; however, patients are often asymptomatic. Criteria for a diagnosis of PV are based upon CBC and clinical features. The JAK2 V617F mutation is present in the vast majority of PV, accounting for approximately 90% of cases. Functionally similar mutations in JAK2 exon 12 account for most remaining cases of JAK2 V617F mutation-negative PV. Together, they are identified in 98% of PV cases and lead to high diagnostic certainty.

Among the proposed revised World Health Organization (WHO) criteria for diagnosis is presence of the somatic JAK2 V617F mutation or functionally similar exon 12 mutation. Absence of a JAK2 mutation, combined with normal or increased serum erythropoietin level, greatly decreases the likelihood of a PV diagnosis. WHO proposed revision criteria for PV do not address additional molecular markers, including CALR mutation status.

Essential Thrombocythemia

Essential thrombocythemia is a disorder of sustained increased platelet count. The majority of ET patients (60%) carry a somatic JAK2 V617F mutation, while a smaller percentage (5-10%) have activating MPD mutations. Revision to the WHO criteria for diagnosis of ET has been proposed and includes exclusion of PV, PMF, CML, myelodysplastic syndrome, or other myeloid neoplasm. Also included in the proposed major criteria for diagnosis is demonstration of somatic JAK2 V617F mutation or MPD exon 10 mutation 12. Proposed criteria additionally state that 70% of patients without a JAK2 or MPD mutation carry a somatic mutation of the calreticulin (CALR) gene. Among confirmed ET cases, mutations in CALR are more common than MPD. Positive CALR mutation status is suggested as indicating a more indolent course 5.

Primary Myelofibrosis

Primary myelofibrosis (PMF) is a rare disorder in which the bone marrow is replaced with fibrous tissue, leading to bone marrow failure. Clinical features are similar to ET. The approximate incidence is 1 in 100,000 individuals. Persons can be asymptomatic in the early stages of the disease. For such patients, treatment may not initially be necessary. Progression of the disease can include transformation to acute myeloid leukemia. Treatment is generally symptomatic and aimed at preventing complications.

Demonstration of a clonal marker is important for diagnosis. Somatic molecular markers in PMF patients are similar to those in patients with ET, and include JAK2 V617F, MPD, and CALR. Somatic mutations in JAK2 are identified in 50-60% of PMF cases, and MPD mutations in 10%. Mutations in CALR are less common than JAK2, but more common than MPD.

Molecular Genetic Testing 

One JAK2 gene mutation, V617K, is most commonly reported, occurring in over 90% of all polycythemia vera (PV) cases and about 50% of ET cases. Testing for JAK2 V617K gene mutations can be useful in diagnosis and is incorporated into the WHO’s diagnostic criteria for these conditions.

The thrombopoietin receptor MPD is one of several JAK2 cognate receptors and is considered essential for myelopoiesis. The mutation frequency of MPD mutations associated with myeloproliferative disorders is substantially less (<10 2008="" 3.="" a="" acquired="" an="" be="" british="" clonal="" committee="" criteria="" diagnostic="" disease="" e.g.="" et="" for="" gene="" genes="" group="" guideline="" health="" hematology="" identified.="" if="" in="" include="" indicated="" individuals="" jak2="" marker="" may="" meet="" modification="" mpd="" mutation="" mutations.="" myeloproliferative="" of="" or="" organization="" p="" pathogenetic="" presence="" recommended="" s="" standards="" testing="" than="" the="" therefore="" to="" were="" who="" world="" would="">Calreticulin (CALR) mutations have been identified in patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms and recent studies have investigated the utility of CALR mutation testing for the diagnosis and classification of myeloproliferative neoplasms. The mutations themselves are variable; however, generally focused in the exon 9 region.

Studies have shown that a significant proportion of patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms and normal JAK2 617F mutation testing have a CALR gene mutation. CALR mutations account for a large proportion of JAK2/MPD-negative ET and PMF cases. Approximately 60% of JAK2/MPD-negative ET patients are CALR-positive and 30% of JAK2/MPD-negative PMF patients are CALR-positive. Overall, CALR mutations are identified in approximately 21% of ET cases and 16% of PMF cases. CALR mutations have not been reported in PV case series 2.

For this reason, CALR gene testing may be indicated for individuals who would meet World Health Organization’s diagnostic criteria for myeloproliferative disease if a clonal marker were identified. Proponents have argued for revised WHO criteria that includes CALR mutation status in the classification system for ET and PMF 12. Current NCCN guidelines do not make recommendations for CALR genetic testing; however, these guidelines are specific to MDS and do not broadly address myeloproliferative neoplasms, such as ET or PMF. Somatic mutations in non-MDS genes, such as CALR, are listed as being associated with conditions that can mimic other myelodysplastic syndromes.

Aside from diagnostic utility, some research suggests distinct clinical outcomes associated with CALR mutation status; however, the findings have not been confirmed in other studies. It is suggested that ET patients with CALR mutations have lower polycythemic transformation rates, but not lower myelofibrotic transformation rate, compared with ET patients harboring a JAK2 mutation. Others reported a higher platelet count, younger age of diagnosis, lower leukocyte count, and decreased risk for thrombosis, compared with a JAK2 positive ET population 1. CALR-mutated ET has also been associated with better thrombosis-free survival and lower leukocyte counts; overall survival has been reported as not different among CALR mutated and non-mutated ET 2,15.

Although they are useful for establishing a diagnosis, the presence of specific clonal markers does not dictate treatment. Controversy exists generally regarding the treatment of asymptomatic individuals with ET. Some argue against treatment if there are no associated complications. In general, the main goal of treatment with PV and ET is to identify persons at high risk for thrombosis and prevent complications. Persons with PV and ET are determined to be at high-risk due to age >60 years and past history of thrombotic event(s). CALR mutational status is not currently used for risk stratification 11.

In summary, multiple studies have demonstrated the diagnostic value of CALR mutation status in a population of JAK2 and MPD negative patients with suspected ET and PMF. The presence of a somatic CALR mutation can prove useful in obtaining an accurate diagnosis. Emerging evidence suggests possible differences in clinical phenotype among the associated clonal markers, including CALR-positive ET cases. However, CALR mutation status is currently not incorporated into clinical risk stratification and more research is needed in this area.



ICD-10 Codes that Support Medical Necessity


ICD-10 CODE DESCRIPTION

C88.8 Other malignant immunoproliferative diseases
C92.10 Chronic myeloid leukemia, BCR/ABL-positive, not having achieved remission
C92.20 Atypical chronic myeloid leukemia, BCR/ABL-negative, not having achieved remission
C92.21 Atypical chronic myeloid leukemia, BCR/ABL-negative, in remission
C92.22 Atypical chronic myeloid leukemia, BCR/ABL-negative, in relapse
C93.10 Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia not having achieved remission
C94.40 Acute panmyelosis with myelofibrosis not having achieved remission
C94.41 Acute panmyelosis with myelofibrosis, in remission
C94.42 Acute panmyelosis with myelofibrosis, in relapse
C94.6 Myelodysplastic disease, not classified
D45 Polycythemia vera
D46.0 Refractory anemia without ring sideroblasts, so stated
D46.1 Refractory anemia with ring sideroblasts
D46.20 Refractory anemia with excess of blasts, unspecified
D46.21 Refractory anemia with excess of blasts 1
D46.22 Refractory anemia with excess of blasts 2
D46.A Refractory cytopenia with multilineage dysplasia
D46.B Refractory cytopenia with multilineage dysplasia and ring sideroblasts
D46.C Myelodysplastic syndrome with isolated del(5q) chromosomal abnormality
D46.4 Refractory anemia, unspecified
D46.Z Other myelodysplastic syndromes
D46.9 Myelodysplastic syndrome, unspecified
D47.1 Chronic myeloproliferative disease
D47.3 Essential (hemorrhagic) thrombocythemia
D47.4 Osteomyelofibrosis
D47.Z9 Other specified neoplasms of uncertain behavior of lymphoid, hematopoietic and related tissue
D47.9 Neoplasm of uncertain behavior of lymphoid, hematopoietic and related tissue, unspecified
D72.821 Monocytosis (symptomatic)
D72.829 Elevated white blood cell count, unspecified
D75.1 Secondary polycythemia
D75.81 Myelofibrosis
D75.89 Other specified diseases of blood and blood-forming organs
D75.9 Disease of blood and blood-forming organs, unspecified


          CPT 81479, 81211 - Molecular pathology procedure        
Procedure Code and Description

81211 BRCA1, BRCA2 (BREAST CANCER 1 AND 2) (EG, HEREDITARY BREAST AND OVARIAN CANCER) GENE ANALYSIS; FULL SEQUENCE ANALYSIS AND COMMON DUPLICATION/DELETION VARIANTS IN BRCA1 (IE, EXON 13 DEL 3.835KB, EXON 13 DUP 6KB, EXON 14-20 DEL 26KB, EXON 22 DEL 510BP, EXON 8-9 DEL 7.1KB)

81479 UNLISTED MOLECULAR PATHOLOGY PROCEDURE

Coverage Indications, Limitations, and/or Medical Necessity


This LCD provides limited coverage for the GeneSight® Psychotropic (AssureRx Health, Inc, Mason, OH) gene panel. GeneSight® testing may only be ordered by licensed psychiatristsor or neuropsychiatrists contemplating an alteration in neuropsychiatric medication for patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) (in accordance with DSM IV/V criteria) who are suffering with refractory moderate to severe depression (as defined by the 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D17) score of 14 or greater) after at least one prior neuropsychiatric medication failure.

Background

GeneSight® Psychotropic is a multiplex pharmacogenomic test involving the analysis of fifty alleles (SNPs) from six different genes and a clinical outcomes-based decision support modeling tool that weights the influence of the various alleles/SNPs with respect to thirty-two different psychotropic pharmaceutical agents. The test results in the differentiation of psychoactive drugs that are likely to be effective and well-tolerated by a particular patient versus those that are not. In multiple prospective clinical studies, the use of GeneSight® to guide neuropsychiatric pharmaceutical selection and prescription has demonstrated an increased patient response to treatment from 60% to 250% (as measured by the standardized 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression or HAM-17; response is defined as = 50% reduction in HAM-D17 score) versus unguided, empirical treatment (or treatment as usual).

GeneSight® has particular relevance for Medicare beneficiaries, 26% of whom experience a mental disorder each year. Additionally, six out of ten disabled Medicare beneficiaries (~3.7 million) under age 65, representing roughly 17% of all beneficiaries, have a diagnosis of mental disorder. Furthermore, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) recognizes depression as the most common mental disorder in people aged 65 and older. It frequently appears as a co-morbid symptom to other conditions and can even mimic the symptoms of dementia. As a group, seniors generally take more medications than other age groups, increasing their risk of drug-drug interactions and adverse drug events (ADEs).

The GeneSight® report segments and displays these psychotropic medications into three “traffic light” categories or “bins” - green, yellow and red. Based on the patient’s genetic make-up and the drug’s metabolic and therapeutic pathways, the green bin identifies drugs that will likely be well tolerated and efficacious for the tested patient; the yellow bin identifies drugs with an intermediate effect; and the red bin identifies drugs likely to be poorly tolerated and/or ineffective. The report also identifies common drug-drug interactions that are similarly influenced by the patient’s genetic composition.

Pine Rest Study 

The Pine Rest study was a prospective, patient- and rater-blinded, randomized controlled trial evaluating the clinical impact of GeneSight® on antidepressant selection and treatment outcomes in depressed outpatients (GeneSight®, N=25 vs treatment as usual (TAU), N=24). Patients were assessed for symptom improvement, remission and response from baseline (week 0) and at 2, 4, and 8 weeks, using the HAM-D17 rating.

Subjects in the GeneSight® arm had a greater average decrease in the 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D17) scores from baseline at 8 weeks (p = 0.30) and a higher response rate (p = 0.055) and significantly higher remission rate (p = 0.012) at any time point. Response rates in the GeneSight®-guided arm were 73% higher compared to the unguided TAU arm. Retrospective analysis of the TAU subjects at the end of the study after un-blinding and stratifying by GeneSight® results proved the clinical validity of GeneSight®, with 30% of subjects unknowingly on red bin medications showing a significant worsening of depressive symptoms in contrast to significant improvements in depressive symptoms experienced by 30% of subjects unknowingly on green bin medications (p = 0.07). Additionally, surveys from the treating clinicians revealed that the GeneSight® composite report had a significant influence on treatment decisions for 65% of the GeneSight® subjects.

Hamm Study

The Hamm Clinic prospective cohort study with two arms (GeneSight® (n = 22) vs. TAU (n = 22)) enrolled adult patients with a primary diagnosis of major depressive disorder utilizing DSM-IV criteria for depression not otherwise specified. GeneSight® subjects achieved greater reductions in depression symptoms between the baseline and the week 8 visits compared to TAU subjects using the Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology – Clinician version (QIDS-C16) (p = 0.0024) and HAM-D17 (p = 0.042) ratings. Both the response and remission rate were more than doubled in the GeneSight® arm compared to the TAU arm. Upon unblinding the TAU group at the end of 8 weeks, TAU subjects were being prescribed significantly more red and yellow bin medications and less green bin medications compared to the GeneSight® guided subjects (p = 0.02).

La Crosse

In the La Crosse prospective cohort study (GeneSight® (n = 72) vs. TAU (n = 93)) at the Franciscan Skemp Hospital in La Crosse, Wisconsin, patients with a primary diagnosis of MDD or depression not otherwise specified with a minimum score of 14 on HAM-D17 were enrolled. Diagnosis was confirmed by checking the diagnosis reported in the physician clinical notes in the electronic medical record (EMR). Samples were collected at baseline in both arms, while only the physicians in the GeneSight® arm were provided with test results to inform treatment decisions. In addition to the prospective comparisons, retrospective analysis in the TAU subjects at the end of the study was implemented after un-blinding the GeneSight® results to test for clinical validity.

A greater reduction in depression scores from baseline to the week 8 visit was observed in the GeneSight® arm for all three measures of depression: QIDS-C16 (p < 0.0001), HAM-D17 (p < 0.0001), and PHQ-9 (p < 0.0001). In all measures, a faster reduction of symptoms was observed in the GeneSight® arm subjects compared to the TAU arm subjects (QIDS-C16 and HAM-D17 (p < 0.0001), PHQ-9 (p = 0.002)). The GeneSight® arm had a significantly higher remission rate based on the QIDS-C16 score (p = 0.03), and significantly higher response rates based on QIDS-C16 (p = 0.005), HAM-D17 (p = 0.03), and PHQ-9 (p = 0.01).

Physicians changed medications more often for subjects in the GeneSight®-guided group (57.9%) than the unguided group (25.9%) (p = 0.0007). Of the 15 GeneSight®-guided subjects classified in the red bin category at baseline, fourteen (93.3%) experienced a medication change or dose adjustment during the eight week study period, compared with 8 out of 18 subjects in the unguided group (44.4%) in the red bin category (p = 0.002). A significant association between bin status and outcome was observed within the unguided group (p = 0.028). Subjects classified in the red bin category had less improvement (11%) eight than those classified in the green or yellow categories (31.9%, p = 0.047), further demonstrating the deleterious effects of red bin medications on patient outcomes.

Dayton Study

This retrospective study, in collaboration with Union Health Services (UHS, a staff model HMO located in Chicago, Illinois), examined healthcare utilization in relation to medication categories (binning) using GeneSight®. Ninety-six patients previously diagnosed with a depressive disorder or anxiety disorder and treated with one of the medications included in the GeneSight® panel were included in the study. The GeneSight® bin assignments of patient psychiatric medications were compared to the medical records for patient medication prescriptions, healthcare utilization, medical absence days, and disability claims for the previous 12 months.

Subjects whose medication regimen included a medication in the GeneSight® red bin (“use with caution and more frequent monitoring”) had 69% more total healthcare visits (p = 0.005), 67% more general medical visits (p = 0.02), greater than 3-fold more medical absence days (p = 0.06), and greater than 4-fold more disability claims (p = 0.004) than subjects taking drugs in the green (“use as directed”) or yellow bin (“use with caution”). The mean healthcare utilization cost calculated for red bin subjects during the previous 12 month period was higher at $8,627, compared to $3,453 calculated for green bin subjects (p = 0.024) and $3,426 for yellow bin subjects (p = 0.027), yielding an average annual increase in healthcare cost of $5,188 for subjects on GeneSight® red bin medications.

Meta-analysis of GeneSight® Prospective 2-Armed Studies

In a meta-analysis of three prospective, 2-armed clinical trials (Pine Rest, Hamm, and La Crosse), use of the test to aid in therapeutic selection has improved patient responses to treatment by 73% on average, which is consistent with the results from each study individually, and is highly significant (p=0.004). These findings support the value of the GeneSight® test in improving patient outcomes.

Documentation Requirements

Documentation supporting the medical need for these tests, including substantiating documentation for the ICD-9 code(s) submitted, must be maintained in the patient’s medical record. In order to be considered medically necessary, the patient must have failed or currently be failing on at least one neuropsychiatric medication, and the healthcare provider must be contemplating an alteration in neuropsychiatric medication treatment. Prior medication failure and intent to alter medication course consistent with the test results must be documented in the patient’s medical record and noted with the test requisition.


Billing/Coding/Physician Documentation Information 

This policy may apply to the following codes. Inclusion of a code in this section does not guarantee that it will be reimbursed. For further information on reimbursement guidelines, please see Administrative Policies on the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina web site at www.bcbsnc.com. They are listed in the Category Search on the Medical Policy search page.

Applicable codes: Effective in 2013, if the specific analyte is listed in codes 81200-81355 or 81400-81408, that CPT code would be reported. If the specific analyte is not listed in the more specific CPT

codes, unlisted code 81479 would be reported.

BCBSNC may request medical records for determination of medical necessity. When medical records are requested, letters of support and/or explanation are often useful, but are not sufficient documentation unless all specific information needed to make a medical necessity determination is included.

ICD-10 Codes that Support Medical Necessity


ICD-10 CODE DESCRIPTION

F32.1 Major depressive disorder, single episode, moderate
F32.2 Major depressive disorder, single episode, severe without psychotic features
F32.3 Major depressive disorder, single episode, severe with psychotic features
F32.4 Major depressive disorder, single episode, in partial remission
F32.9 Major depressive disorder, single episode, unspecified
F33.1 Major depressive disorder, recurrent, moderate
F33.2 Major depressive disorder, recurrent severe without psychotic features
F33.3 Major depressive disorder, recurrent, severe with psychotic symptoms
F33.40 Major depressive disorder, recurrent, in remission, unspecified
F33.41 Major depressive disorder, recurrent, in partial remission
F33.9 Major depressive disorder, recurrent, unspecified

Coverage for BRCA1 and BRCA 2 Testing


Coverage Indications, Limitations, and/or Medical Necessity


Germline genetic testing of BRCA1 and BRCA2 is available to identify individuals at increased risk for breast and ovarian cancers, as individuals with an inherited cancer syndrome may benefit from screening and prevention strategies to reduce their risk. The prevalence of BRCA mutations in the population is estimated between 1 in 300 and 1 in 800; however, specific mutations known as founder mutations occur more often in populations founded by a small ancestral group, including Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jews, French Canadians, and Icelanders. The prevalence of BRCA mutations in the Ashkenazi Jewish population is approximately 1 in 40. Three recurrent BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations have been identified in Ashkenazi Jewish individuals (i.e., a genetically distinct population of Jewish people of eastern and central European ancestry) and make up the vast majority of BRCA mutations that occur in this population. Rearrangements, such as large genomic alterations including translocations, inversions, large deletions and insertions are believed to be responsible for 12% to 18% of BRCA1 inactivating mutations but are less common in BRCA2 and in individuals of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. The NCCN guidelines note that comprehensive genetic testing includes full sequencing of BRCA1/BRCA2 and the detection of large genomic rearrangements. The NCCN recommends that since certain large genomic rearrangements are not detectable by a primary sequencing assay, additional testing may be needed in some cases.

Evidence in the published, peer-reviewed scientific literature indicates that BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic testing is appropriate for a specific subset of adult individuals who have been identified to be at high risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancers. Furthermore, several specialty organizations, including NCCN, American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG), and American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), have issued statements recognizing the role of pre- and post-test genetic counseling and BRCA testing in the management of at risk patients. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has published recommendations regarding genetic risk assessment, genetic counseling and BRCA mutation testing for breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility. Based on this USPSTF recommendation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that private group and individual health plans provide coverage for genetic counseling and, if appropriate, genetic testing for women at risk for hereditary breast ovarian cancer syndrome (HBOC) as a preventive service with no out of pocket expense.

Olaparib is a poly ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitor inhibitor approved by the FDA as monotherapy in patients with ovarian cancer, with deleterious or suspected deleterious germline BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation who have been treated with three or more prior lines of chemotherapy. Testing of ovarian cancer patients in this clinical scenario is indicated to guide treatment.

Mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are passed down in families through an autosomal dominant inheritance pattern meaning that the associated cancer predisposition can be inherited through either the mother’s or father’s side of the family and transmitted by a male or female. When a parent carries a BRCA mutation, there is a 50% chance of passing down the gene mutation with every pregnancy. Although the risk of inheriting the predisposition from a parent who carries a mutation is 50%, not everyone with an inherited mutation will develop cancer. The likelihood that a woman with a mutation will develop a related cancer (i.e., penetrance of a BRCA mutation) is estimated between 41% and 90% and is much lower for men. The risk of developing cancer depends on numerous variables, including the penetrance of the specific mutation, the genetic makeup of the individual, environmental risk factors, the gender of the individual and their age.

Several national evidence based and expert opinion guidelines and accrediting bodies recommend that genetic testing should be undertaken only in conjunction with independent pre-test genetic counseling services in order to assist patients in complex clinical decision-making. Post genetic testing counseling is also strongly recommended. The NCCN guidelines [2015] state that genetic counseling is a critical component of the cancer risk assessment process. In addition, the guidelines state that pretest counseling should include a discussion of why the test is being offered and how test results may impact medical management, cancer risks associated with the genes being tested, the significance of possible test results for the individual and family, the likelihood of a positive result, technical aspects and accuracy of the test, and economic considerations. Per the guidelines, posttest counseling includes disclosure of results, discussion of the significance of the results for the individual and relevant family members, a discussion of the impact of the results on psychosocial aspects and on the medical management of the individual, and how and where the patient will receive followup care and access to additional resources.

Medicare is a defined benefit program and requires that testing is only performed on patients with signs and symptoms of disease. Testing of unaffected individuals or family members is not a covered Medicare services. However, once a mutation is identified in the family, Medicare eligible relatives with signs and symptoms of breast cancer are typically tested for that specific mutation only. For patients of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, initial testing is generally done for the three specific mutations that account for most hereditary breast and ovarian cancer in that population: 185delAG and 5382insC (also called 5385insC) in the BRCA1 gene and 6174delT in the BRCA2 gene. If the test results are negative, full analysis of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes is only considered if testing criteria for non Jewish individuals are met. Nonetheless, Medicare does not cover testing for patients without signs and symptoms of breast or ovarian cancer.

While not required for payment, NCCN Guidelines recommend referral to a cancer genetics professional with expertise and experience in cancer genetics prior to genetic testing and after genetic testing. Examples of cancer genetics professionals with expertise and experience in cancer genetics include: an American Board of Medical Genetics or American Board of Genetic Counseling certified or board eligible Clinical Geneticist, Medical Geneticist or Genetic Counselor not employed by a commercial genetic testing laboratory (excludes individuals employed by or contracted with a laboratory that is part of an Integrated Health System which routinely delivers health care services beyond just the laboratory test itself as these individuals are also considered inter dependent); medical oncologist, obstetrician-gynecologist or other physician trained in medical cancer genetics, a genetic nurse credentialed as either a Genetic Clinical Nurse (GCN) or an Advanced Practice Nurse in Genetics (APGN) by either the Genetic Nursing Credentialing Commission (GNCC) or the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) who is not employed by a commercial genetic testing laboratory (excludes individuals employed by or contracted with a laboratory that is part of an Integrated Health System which routinely delivers health care services beyond just the laboratory test itself as these individuals are also considered inter dependent).

Indications

This is a limited coverage policy for BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genetic testing. BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genetic testing has been found to be reasonable and necessary in the following instances.

Personal History of Female Breast Cancer

BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic testing for susceptibility to breast or ovarian cancer is covered in adults [by full sequence analysis and duplication/deletion analysis of common variants (CPT codes 81211 and 81213) as medically reasonable and necessary when there is a personal history of breast cancer (invasive breast cancer or ductal carcinoma in situ) and ANY of the following indications:

Diagnosed at age 60 or younger with a triple negative breast cancer (estrogen receptor (ER) negative, progesterone receptor (PR) negative, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) negative);
Diagnosed at age 50 or younger with a limited family history (e.g., fewer than two first- or second degree female relatives or female relatives surviving beyond 45 years in the relevant maternal and/or paternal lineage);
Diagnosed at any age and there are at least two close blood relatives* with breast cancer at any age;
Diagnosed at any age with at least one close blood relative* with breast cancer at age 50 or younger;
Diagnosed at any age and there are at least two close blood relatives* with pancreatic cancer or prostate cancer with Gleason score >7 at any age;
Diagnosed at any age with at least one close blood relative* with epithelial ovarian cancer, fallopian tube, or primary peritoneal cancer;
Close male blood relative* with breast cancer;
Individual of Ashkenazi Jewish descent begin testing with Ashkenazi Jewish founder specific mutations (a gene mutation observed with high frequency in a group that is or was geographically or culturally isolated, in which one or more of the ancestors was a carrier of the mutant gene) (CPT code 81212). If negative, complete analysis (CPT 81211 and 81213) may be considered if ancestry also includes non-Ashkenazi Jewish relatives or other criteria for BRCA1/BRCA2 genetic testing are met.

*NCCN defines blood relative as first- (parents, siblings and children), second- (grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, grandchildren and half-siblings), and third degree-relatives (great grandparents, great aunts, great uncles, great grandchildren and first cousins) on same side of family. Genetic testing for a known mutation in a family is a covered service for individuals with signs and/or symptoms of breast cancer. Testing of an unaffected Medicare eligible individual or family member is not a covered Medicare service.

Personal History of Other Cancer

BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic testing for susceptibility to breast or ovarian cancer is covered in adults [by full sequence analysis and duplication/deletion analysis of common variants (CPT codes 81211) and uncommon duplication/deletion analysis (CPT 81213)] as medically necessary when there is a personal history of ANY of the following indications:

Personal history of epithelial ovarian, fallopian tube, or primary peritoneal cancer;
Personal history of male breast cancer;
Personal history of pancreatic cancer or prostate cancer with Gleason score =7 at any age, =1 close blood relatives* with breast (=50 y), invasive ovarian, pancreatic cancer, or prostate cancer with Gleason score=7 at any age;
Personal history of pancreatic cancer at any age with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry (Begin testing with Ashkenazi Jewish founder specific mutations [CPT code 81212]. If negative, complete analysis (CPT 81211 and 81213) should be performed. Complete analysis (CPT 81211 and 81213) may be considered if ancestry also includes non-Ashkenazi Jewish relatives and other criteria for BRCA1/BRCA2 genetic testing are met.

Genetic testing for a known mutation in a family is a covered service for individuals with signs and/or symptoms of another inheritable cancer. Testing of an unaffected Medicare eligible individual or family member is not a covered Medicare service.

Multigene Panels

BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic testing for susceptibility to breast or ovarian cancer with multi-gene next –generation sequencing (NGS) panels is covered as medically necessary when ALL of the following criteria are met:

Pre-test genetic counseling by a cancer genetics professional independent of the laboratory has been performed and post-test genetic counseling by a cancer genetics professional independent of the laboratory is planned;
All genes in the panel are relevant to the personal and family history for the individual being tested (large panels with genes that are not relevant to the individual’s personal and family history are not reasonable and necessary);
Criteria listed under Section 1, Personal history of female breast cancer and/or Section 2 Personal history of other cancer are met.
Individual also meets criteria for at least ONE other hereditary cancer syndrome for which NCCN guidelines provide clear testing criteria and management recommendations, including but not limited to Li-Fraumeni Syndrome, Cowden Syndrome, or Lynch Syndrome.


Limitations

Any test must also meet:

Availability of a clinically valid test, based on published peer reviewed medical literature; AND
Testing assay(s) are Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved/cleared or if LDT (lab developed test) or LDT protocol or FDA modified test(s) the laboratory documentation should support assay(s) analytical validity and clinical utility.

BRCA1/BRCA2 genetic testing for susceptibility to breast or ovarian cancer is not covered for any other indication including any of the following because it is considered not medically reasonable and necessary for these indications:

Genetic screening in the general population. Such testing is considered screening and is excluded by Medicare statute. An ABN must be obtained for BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 testing for individuals without signs and symptoms of breast, ovarian or other hereditary cancer syndromes as indicated in this policy.
Testing of individuals with no personal history of breast, ovarian, fallopian tube, primary peritoneal, pancreatic, or prostate cancer. Such testing is considered screening and is excluded by Medicare statute.
An ABN must be obtained for BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 testing for individuals without signs and symptoms of breast, ovarian or other hereditary cancer syndromes as indicated in this policy.
Testing of individuals under 18 years of age.

Generic (not disease specific) genomic sequence panels (NGS comprehensive definitive cancer testing panel/s) of 51 or greater genes are non-covered at this time (specific testing of 51 or greater genes as expressed by disease specific coding, e.g. Prosigna breast cancer assay, can be medically necessary).


CPT/HCPCS Codes

Group 1 Paragraph: N/A

Group 1 Codes:
cpt 81211 BRCA1, BRCA2 (BREAST CANCER 1 AND 2) (EG, HEREDITARY BREAST AND OVARIAN CANCER) GENE ANALYSIS; FULL SEQUENCE ANALYSIS AND COMMON DUPLICATION/DELETION VARIANTS IN BRCA1 (IE, EXON 13 DEL 3.835KB, EXON 13 DUP 6KB, EXON 14-20 DEL 26KB, EXON 22 DEL 510BP, EXON 8-9 DEL 7.1KB)

81212 BRCA1, BRCA2 (BREAST CANCER 1 AND 2) (EG, HEREDITARY BREAST AND OVARIAN CANCER) GENE ANALYSIS; 185DELAG, 5385INSC, 6174DELT VARIANTS
81213 BRCA1, BRCA2 (BREAST CANCER 1 AND 2) (EG, HEREDITARY BREAST AND OVARIAN CANCER) GENE ANALYSIS; UNCOMMON DUPLICATION/DELETION VARIANTS

81214 BRCA1 (BREAST CANCER 1) (EG, HEREDITARY BREAST AND OVARIAN CANCER) GENE ANALYSIS; FULL SEQUENCE ANALYSIS AND COMMON DUPLICATION/DELETION VARIANTS (IE, EXON 13 DEL 3.835KB, EXON 13 DUP 6KB, EXON 14-20 DEL 26KB, EXON 22 DEL 510BP, EXON 8-9 DEL 7.1KB)

81215 BRCA1 (BREAST CANCER 1) (EG, HEREDITARY BREAST AND OVARIAN CANCER) GENE ANALYSIS; KNOWN FAMILIAL VARIANT

81216 BRCA2 (BREAST CANCER 2) (EG, HEREDITARY BREAST AND OVARIAN CANCER) GENE ANALYSIS; FULL SEQUENCE ANALYSIS

81217 BRCA2 (BREAST CANCER 2) (EG, HEREDITARY BREAST AND OVARIAN CANCER) GENE ANALYSIS; KNOWN FAMILIAL VARIANT

81445 TARGETED GENOMIC SEQUENCE ANALYSIS PANEL, SOLID ORGAN NEOPLASM, DNA ANALYSIS, AND RNA ANALYSIS WHEN PERFORMED, 5-50 GENES (EG, ALK, BRAF, CDKN2A, EGFR, ERBB2, KIT, KRAS, NRAS, MET, PDGFRA, PDGFRB, PGR, PIK3CA, PTEN, RET), INTERROGATION FOR SEQUENCE VARIANTS AND COPY NUMBER VARIANTS OR REARRANGEMENTS, IF PERFORMED
81455 TARGETED GENOMIC SEQUENCE ANALYSIS PANEL, SOLID ORGAN OR HEMATOLYMPHOID NEOPLASM, DNA ANALYSIS, AND RNA ANALYSIS WHEN PERFORMED, 51 OR GREATER GENES (EG, ALK, BRAF, CDKN2A, CEBPA, DNMT3A, EGFR, ERBB2, EZH2, FLT3, IDH1, IDH2, JAK2, KIT, KRAS, MLL, NPM1, NRAS, MET, NOTCH1, PDGFRA, PDGFRB, PGR, PIK3CA, PTEN, RET), INTERROGATION FOR SEQUENCE VARIANTS AND COPY NUMBER VARIANTS OR REARRANGEMENTS, IF PERFORMED
81479 UNLISTED MOLECULAR PATHOLOGY PROCEDURE





ICD-10 Codes that Support Medical Necessity

Group 1Codes

ICD-10 CODE DESCRIPTION

C25.4 Malignant neoplasm of endocrine pancreas

C25.7 Malignant neoplasm of other parts of pancreas

C25.8 Malignant neoplasm of overlapping sites of pancreas

C25.9 Malignant neoplasm of pancreas, unspecified

C50.011 Malignant neoplasm of nipple and areola, right female breast

C50.012 Malignant neoplasm of nipple and areola, left female breast

C50.019 Malignant neoplasm of nipple and areola, unspecified female breast

C50.021 Malignant neoplasm of nipple and areola, right male breast

C50.022 Malignant neoplasm of nipple and areola, left male breast

C50.029 Malignant neoplasm of nipple and areola, unspecified male breast

C50.111 Malignant neoplasm of central portion of right female breast

C50.112 Malignant neoplasm of central portion of left female breast

C50.119 Malignant neoplasm of central portion of unspecified female breast


C50.121 Malignant neoplasm of central portion of right male breast

C50.122 Malignant neoplasm of central portion of left male breast

C50.129 Malignant neoplasm of central portion of unspecified male breast
C50.211 Malignant neoplasm of upper-inner quadrant of right female breast

C50.212 Malignant neoplasm of upper-inner quadrant of left female breast

C50.219 Malignant neoplasm of upper-inner quadrant of unspecified female breast


C50.221 Malignant neoplasm of upper-inner quadrant of right male breast

C50.222 Malignant neoplasm of upper-inner quadrant of left male breast

C50.229 Malignant neoplasm of upper-inner quadrant of unspecified male breast

C50.311 Malignant neoplasm of lower-inner quadrant of right female breast

C50.312 Malignant neoplasm of lower-inner quadrant of left female breast

C50.319 Malignant neoplasm of lower-inner quadrant of unspecified female breast

C50.321 Malignant neoplasm of lower-inner quadrant of right male breast

C50.322 Malignant neoplasm of lower-inner quadrant of left male breast

C50.329 Malignant neoplasm of lower-inner quadrant of unspecified male breast

C50.411 Malignant neoplasm of upper-outer quadrant of right female breast

C50.412 Malignant neoplasm of upper-outer quadrant of left female breast

C50.419 Malignant neoplasm of upper-outer quadrant of unspecified female breast

C50.421 Malignant neoplasm of upper-outer quadrant of right male breast

C50.422 Malignant neoplasm of upper-outer quadrant of left male breast

C50.429 Malignant neoplasm of upper-outer quadrant of unspecified male breast

C50.511 Malignant neoplasm of lower-outer quadrant of right female breast

C50.512 Malignant neoplasm of lower-outer quadrant of left female breast

C50.519 Malignant neoplasm of lower-outer quadrant of unspecified female breast

C50.521 Malignant neoplasm of lower-outer quadrant of right male breast

C50.522 Malignant neoplasm of lower-outer quadrant of left male breast

C50.529 Malignant neoplasm of lower-outer quadrant of unspecified male breast

C50.611 Malignant neoplasm of axillary tail of right female breast

C50.612 Malignant neoplasm of axillary tail of left female breast

C50.619 Malignant neoplasm of axillary tail of unspecified female breast

C50.621 Malignant neoplasm of axillary tail of right male breast

C50.622 Malignant neoplasm of axillary tail of left male breast

C50.629 Malignant neoplasm of axillary tail of unspecified male breast

C50.811 Malignant neoplasm of overlapping sites of right female breast

C50.812 Malignant neoplasm of overlapping sites of left female breast

C50.819 Malignant neoplasm of overlapping sites of unspecified female breast

C50.821 Malignant neoplasm of overlapping sites of right male breast

C50.822 Malignant neoplasm of overlapping sites of left male breast

C50.829 Malignant neoplasm of overlapping sites of unspecified male breast

C50.911 Malignant neoplasm of unspecified site of right female breast

C50.912 Malignant neoplasm of unspecified site of left female breast

C50.919 Malignant neoplasm of unspecified site of unspecified female breast

C50.921 Malignant neoplasm of unspecified site of right male breast

C50.922 Malignant neoplasm of unspecified site of left male breast

C50.929 Malignant neoplasm of unspecified site of unspecified male breast

C56.1 Malignant neoplasm of right ovary

C56.2 Malignant neoplasm of left ovary

C56.9 Malignant neoplasm of unspecified ovary

C57.00 Malignant neoplasm of unspecified fallopian tube

C57.01 Malignant neoplasm of right fallopian tube

C57.02 Malignant neoplasm of left fallopian tube

C61 Malignant neoplasm of prostate

D05.00 Lobular carcinoma in situ of unspecified breast

D05.01 Lobular carcinoma in situ of right breast

D05.02 Lobular carcinoma in situ of left breast

D05.10 Intraductal carcinoma in situ of unspecified breast

D05.11 Intraductal carcinoma in situ of right breast

D05.12 Intraductal carcinoma in situ of left breast

D05.80 - D05.82 - Opens in a new window Other specified type of carcinoma in situ of unspecified breast - Other specified
type of carcinoma in situ of left breast

D05.90 - D05.92 - Opens in a new window Unspecified type of carcinoma in situ of unspecified breast - Unspecified type of
carcinoma in situ of left breast

Z85.07 Personal history of malignant neoplasm of pancreas

Z85.43 Personal history of malignant neoplasm of ovary

Z85.46 Personal history of malignant neoplasm of prostate



          The DNA Network        
The DNA Network

The DNA Network

Gene for the placebo response? Not even close. [Genetic Future]

Posted: 03 Dec 2008 07:45 PM CST

head_meet_wall.jpgNew Scientist trumpets the discovery of "the first placebo gene". The study in question is here.

I usually don't comment on this type of study, but this time the hype is just too much for me: New Scientist describes the study as "a milestone in the quest to understand" the placebo effect; an article in ScienceNow quotes a psychiatrist saying that "the findings could have major implications for research design". The article itself certainly doesn't talk down its results, with the first sentence of the discussion stating:

The present study demonstrates that the magnitude of the placebo response [...] is tied to attenuated amygdala excitability, which in turn is linked to serotonergic genetic variation.

The problem? The study examined just 25 subjects, and if there's one clear lesson from the history of candidate gene asociation studies it's that such tiny studies are essentially worthless: systematic reviews of the field (e.g. here, here and here) have consistently found that the majority of such associations are never replicated, suggesting that positive results in small studies are substantially more likely to arise through a combination of chance, error and publication bias than through a genuine causal link.

It's only relatively recently that genetic association studies have come of age, with the advent of agnostic genome-wide association studies, massive sample sizes, rigorous statistical frameworks and the use of independent replication cohorts. Unfortunately, it appears that such novelties haven't yet permeated Uppsala University's Department of Psychology - but that hasn't stopped their study from generating media attention, in publications that should really have known better.

So don't believe the hype: as a good rule of thumb, if a genetic association study contains fewer than 100 subjects, it's not a "milestone" with "major implications" - in fact, you might as well simply pretend it doesn't exist at all. (Many studies with more than 100 subjects are also crap, but at least there's a chance they're capturing a genuine causal variant.) I'm deadly serious about this. The field is so littered with the stinking carcasses of unreplicated candidate gene associations that it's a reasonable default to simply assume that any small, unreplicated study is false.

Now, if only there was a way to get some science journalists to internalise that little rule of thumb...

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Paralogous genes and disease alleles [Yann Klimentidis' Weblog]

Posted: 03 Dec 2008 06:38 PM CST

I don't quite fully get this, but the point of the method that they propose is to look at paralogous genes to more efficiently pinpoint the actual causal variants from among the many "hits" that pop up in GWASs.

Genome-Wide Analysis of Human Disease Alleles Reveals That Their Locations Are Correlated in Paralogous Proteins
Mark Yandell, Barry Moore, Fidel Salas, Chris Mungall, Andrew MacBride, Charles White, Martin G. Reese
PLoS Comput Biol 4(11): e1000218
Abstract: The millions of mutations and polymorphisms that occur in human populations are potential predictors of disease, of our reactions to drugs, of predisposition to microbial infections, and of age-related conditions such as impaired brain and cardiovascular functions. However, predicting the phenotypic consequences and eventual clinical significance of a sequence variant is not an easy task. Computational approaches have found perturbation of conserved amino acids to be a useful criterion for identifying variants likely to have phenotypic consequences. To our knowledge, however, no study to date has explored the potential of variants that occur at homologous positions within paralogous human proteins as a means of identifying polymorphisms with likely phenotypic consequences. In order to investigate the potential of this approach, we have assembled a unique collection of known disease-causing variants from OMIM and the Human Genome Mutation Database (HGMD) and used them to identify and characterize pairs of sequence variants that occur at homologous positions within paralogous human proteins. Our analyses demonstrate that the locations of variants are correlated in paralogous proteins. Moreover, if one member of a variant-pair is disease-causing, its partner is likely to be disease-causing as well. Thus, information about variant-pairs can be used to identify potentially disease-causing variants, extend existing procedures for polymorphism prioritization, and provide a suite of candidates for further diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.

Mendel's Garden [Genetic Future]

Posted: 03 Dec 2008 06:04 PM CST

Chris over at A Free Man has done a great job putting together the latest issue of genetics blog carnival Mendel's Garden - check it out.

Read the comments on this post...

Activating a gene through pioneer transcripts [The Daily Transcript]

Posted: 03 Dec 2008 05:47 PM CST

First up read yesterday's entry on Genomic Organization.

Now that you've done that, let's talk about a paper that appeared in Nature about a month ago. The article is entitled:

Stepwise chromatin remodelling by a cascade of transcription initiation of non-coding RNAs (link)

Superficially you would look at this title and exclaim Wow another function for non-coding RNAs! Well not exactly. It would seem that everyone is going ga-ga over these non-coding RNAs, but if you dig deeper, something else is going on. Note that I'm not saying that the paper is crap, in fact the results are VERY interesting, but you have to keep in mind that this paper is describing is how the act of transcribing non-coding RNA affects genomic organization.

But before we begin, let's dust off our lexicon. Here are some definitions that I did not bring up yesterday. Chromatin can be thought of as the configuration of DNA with its associated proteins, mainly nucleosomes. Chromatin remodelling refers to alterations in the packaging of this DNA so that the tightness and location of nucleosomes have been altered. As I described yesterday, these changes will affect how DNA binding proteins associate with the genome, which in turn modifies what regions are transcribed into RNA.You'll also remember that the theme of that post was that RNA Polymerase II (aka Pol II) and nucleosomes have a strange relationship. In fact Pol II can directly alter the modifications found on histones and can also influence how DNA is bound to its nucleosomes. So there is a constant conversation between chromatin structure and Pol II.

The Nature paper illustrates this principle nicely. It demonstrates how one gene, fbp1, is activated in response to glucose deprivation. Strangely, Pol II plays a big part in initiating gene activation by allowing the chromatin to be remodelled.

You see it would seem that when the gene is "inactive", Pol II transcribes very long RNAs that start well before the fbp1 gene. These "pioneer" transcripts cover a whole section just before and then continue past the gene and end at the normal termination site. These long mRNAs are even polyadenylated at their end. But they are weird. These RNAs are neither spliced nor translated into protein. The transcripts are found at a very low level and seem to be unstable (I'm inferring that the transcripts have a short half-life from some of their gels, but unfortunately the authors don't measure this parameter). When glucose levels are lowered, the long transcripts disappear and instead new shorter RNAs are made by Pol II molecules. These shorter RNAs begin at points closer to the gene's start site but again end at the gene's termination site. The short guys are however much more numerous as compared to the initial pioneer transcripts. Eventually very short transcripts are made. These transcripts start at the "consensus start site" of the fbp1 gene and are not only properly spliced but are translated into protein.

Now here is the cool part, if you genetically modify the yeast genome so that a transcriptional terminator is introduced in front of the fbp1 gene, you not only prematurely truncate these long pioneer transcripts but you prevent the production of all the shorter transcripts. Yes you prevent the stepwise activation of the gene.

So what is happening?

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Ethics of Genetic Testing: Part 1 [Mary Meets Dolly]

Posted: 03 Dec 2008 04:02 PM CST


I have found that many Catholics are confused about genetic testing and the ethical issues that surround it.  So I have decided to write a two part series on the ethics of genetic testing.

Part 1: Genetic testing is not all bad.

DNA11.com
And yet many Catholics are wary of the Human Genome Project (HGP) and genetic testing, and the knowledge they provide.  Of course, there are serious ethical implications, but the HGP has provided a wonderful opportunity to prevent and even cure disease.  As genetic testing becomes more commonplace, we will have more information on diseases that one may be at risk to develop.  If discovered early enough, we can make choices to help prevent or delay the onset of that disease.

A colleague's battle with cancer is a good example of the use of genetic testing to prevent disease.  We now know that mutations in the BCRA1 or BCRA2 gene put a woman at high risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer.  My colleague's mother, aunts, and cousin had breast or ovarian cancer.  She, herself, was an ovarian cancer survivor.  When the test for mutations in the BCRA1 gene became available, she found that she did have the mutation.  Her sister was also tested, had the mutation, but had yet to develop cancer.  Knowing she was at high risk, the sister underwent preventive surgery and now regularly gets screened for tumors.  Hopefully, she will never develop cancer, but, if she does, it will be caught early, increasing her chances for survival.

Doctors often use genetic testing to help treat their patients.  A good example is the test for a mutation in the
Factor V Leiden gene.  Factor V Leiden is the most common hereditary blood coagulation disorder in the United States.  Patients with a mutation in this gene are at greater risk of developing potentially deadly blood clots.  If a doctor knows that a patient has an increased risk of developing a clot, they can prescribe medication or monitor the patient closely after surgery. 

Genetic testing also provides information on Hereditary Hemochromatosis (HHC), the most common form of iron overload disease.  HHC is an inherited disorder that causes the body to absorb and store too much iron.  If the disease is not detected early and treated, iron will accumulate in body tissues and may eventually lead to serious problems.  Mutations in the HFE gene are the thought to be the cause of HHC.  A genetic test can identify patients who are at risk for developing HHC before they begin to have symptoms.   In fact, there are countless such conditions and diseases, linked to genetic factors, that will be positively impacted by genetic testing, including diabetes and Alzheimer's disease.

Genetic testing has also created an exciting new field called pharmacogenetics.  Pharmacogenetics is the study of how
DNAStore.com
people's genetic make-up affects their response to medicines.  Because each person metabolizes drugs differently, it can take a lot of trial and error before a doctor will find the right drug or combination of drugs and dosage(s) for a particular patient.  Scientists continue to find genes that regulate the metabolism of drugs.  Discovering the genetic profile of how a patient may react to a class of drugs will facilitate the doctor's decision on which drug and what dosage is appropriate for that patient.  Recently, a sales representative showed me a microarray DNA chip that tests the genes responsible for the metabolism of psychiatric drugs.  This test will provide psychiatrists with valuable information, so they can better prescribe medications, increasing effectiveness and reducing side effects.

Prenatal diagnosis of the unborn, using genetic testing, is always an ethically sticky subject.  There are several immoral uses of prenatal genetic testing that I address in Unethical Uses of Genetic Testing, but, as Catholics, we cannot automatically assume that prenatal genetic testing is immoral.  An obstetrician opposed to abortion once told me that, in his observation, genetic testing has often prevented a couple from aborting their child.  He said that not knowing is often more scary than knowing, and couples may be more likely to abort if they do not have all of the information available.  In the future, with the perfection of surgery on the unborn in the womb, prenatal genetic testing may actually save unborn lives.  The Vatican Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith has made a statement on prenatal diagnosis:

"Is prenatal diagnosis morally licit?  If prenatal diagnosis respects the life and the integrity of the embryo and the human fetus and is directed toward safeguarding or healing as an individual, then the answer is affirmative."
All of the benefits of genetic testing are too numerous to list here.  The Catholic Church welcomes genetic testing when its function is to improve sound medical practice.  The possibilities of genetic testing prompted John Paul II to make the following statement:
Indeed, the biomedical sciences are currently experiencing a period of rapid and marvelous growth, especially with regard to new discoveries in the areas of genetics….  But if scientific research is to be directed toward respect for personal dignity and support of human life, its scientific validity according to the rules of each discipline is not enough. It must also qualify positively from the ethical point of view, and this presupposes that from the outset it endeavors to promote the true good of human beings as individuals and as a community. This happens when efforts are made to eliminate the causes of disease by putting real prevention into practice, or whenever more effective therapies are sought for the treatment of serious illnesses.

Stephen Hawking coming to Ontario. [Genomicron]

Posted: 03 Dec 2008 03:57 PM CST

JoVE: Video-publication in Medicine and Psychology [ScienceRoll]

Posted: 03 Dec 2008 01:50 PM CST


JoVE is the Journal of Visualized Experiments, a journal of videos indexed by Pubmed as well. Now, they expanded their video-based model of scientific publishing to include medicine and psychology protocols. We had to wait for this improvement, but now it happened.

The first two videos:

jove-medicine

      

College Tuition is a Scandal [adaptivecomplexity's blog]

Posted: 03 Dec 2008 09:52 AM CST


College tuition has increased 439% since 1984, and the net yearly cost of college at a 4-year public university is 76% of the median family income, according to a story in today's NY Times. Even community colleges don't end up being a much better deal. It's a scandal. We're pricing most people out of college at a time when middle-class income is stagnating and education is more critical than ever for career success.

read more

Sing this! [ScienceRoll]

Posted: 03 Dec 2008 09:25 AM CST


      

Shedding Light on Neon Signs [Sciencebase Science Blog]

Posted: 03 Dec 2008 07:00 AM CST

neon-signAs regular readers know, I like to keep a fairly close eye on what Sciencebase visitors are searching for so that I can put together new posts that provide answers to the questions readers want answering. Recently, there has been a spate of search queries related to neon signs. Perhaps not the most exciting of subjects, but there is some nice chemistry to be learned from all the different colours available, so I thought I’d shed some light on the subject of noble gas illumination.

Incidentally, for those unaware of the history of noble gases, they were at one time known as inert gases because chemists though their full outer shell of electrons made them unreactive. As more and more reactions for these so-called inert gases were discovered, it became necessary to give them another label, hence noble.

A neon light is not really much more than a fluorescent tube (actually, it’s less as it needs no phosphor coating on the inside), but instead of containing mercury vapour to give a bright “white” light, neon tubes contain the noble gas neon, surprise, surprise. Pass an electric discharge through a tube containing low pressure neon and it will glow with that familiar orange-red glow, so evocative of late-night bars and sleazy movies.

A neon light uses a very high voltage to propel an electric current through a low-density gas of neon atoms held in a glass tube. Charges from the electrode at each end of the tube fly through the gas colliding frequently with neon atoms and transferring some of their energy to the neon atoms. This kicks the neon atoms into a higher energy, excited state, with an electron in a higher orbital than normal. This excited state does not last and as the electron loses energy the atom drops back to a lower energy state and releases a photon of light. The energy of this photon is equivalent to the energy fall and for neon atoms that coincides with an energy that produces a reddish glow.

Many people, unfamiliar with the noble gas group of the periodic table - the p-block, assume that all coloured fluorescent tubes used in signage are neon signs. However, there are two ways to produce other colours - paint a standard mercury tube with the colour you want or far more effectively use a different noble gas in the tube instead of neon, perhaps together with mercury vapour to give a stronger glow. Here’s a break down of the discharge colours for each noble gas.

Helium (He) - Orangey white, usually
Neon (Ne) - Orange-red glow
Argon (Ar) - Violet, pale lavender blue
Krypton (Kr) - Grayish dim off-white
Xenon (Xe) - Blue-grey
Radon (Rn) - radioactive, not used in lighting

Of course, it is not only the noble gases and mercury vapour that can be added to lighting tubes. Nitrogen produces a slightly pinker glow than argon, oxygen glows violet-lavender but dimly. Hydrogen glows lavender at low currents, but pinkish magenta above 10 milliAmps, while carbon dioxide produces a slight bluish-white. Mercury can be made to glow in the ultraviolet, and is used in so-called black lights. Sodium vapour at low pressure glows the bright yellow of street lighting, particularly in England. And, even water vapour produces a glow similar to hydrogen, only dimmer .

Shedding Light on Neon Signs

Increased Secretion in Senescent Cells [The Daily Transcript]

Posted: 03 Dec 2008 06:57 AM CST

I just read a paper that features fellow science blogger Chris Patil as an author (although he would be the first to state that he was second on the author's list). The manuscript, which appeared in yesterday's edition of PLoS Biology, describes senescence-associated secretory phenotype (aka SASP), a phenomenon that is associated with cancer cells treated with chemotherapeutic reagents that cause DNA-damage and with cells undergoing senescence. From the paper:

Despite support for the idea that senescence is a beneficial anticancer mechanism, indirect evidence suggests that senescent cells can also be deleterious and might contribute to age-related pathologies [10,23-25]. The apparent paradox of contributing to both tumor suppression and aging is consistent with an evolutionary theory of aging, termed antagonistic pleiotropy [26]. Organisms generally evolve in environments that are replete with extrinsic hazards, and so old individuals tend to be rare in natural populations. Therefore, there is little selective pressure for tumor suppressor mechanisms to be effective well into old age; rather, these mechanisms need to be sufficiently effective only to ensure successful reproduction. Further, tumor suppressor mechanisms could in principle even be deleterious at advanced ages, as predicted by evolutionary antagonistic pleiotropy. Consistent with this view, senescent cells increase with age in mammalian tissues [27], and have been found at sites of age-related pathologies such as osteoarthritis and atherosclerosis [28-30]. Moreover, in mice, chronically active p53 both promotes cellular senescence and accelerates aging phenotypes [31,32].

How might senescent cells be deleterious? Senescent cells acquire many changes in gene expression, mostly documented as altered mRNA abundance, including increased expression of secreted proteins [33-41]. Some of these secreted proteins act in an autocrine manner to reinforce the senescence growth arrest [37,38,40,41]. Moreover, cell culture and mouse xenograft studies suggest that proteins secreted by senescent cells can promote degenerative or hyperproliferative changes in neighboring cells [35,39,42,43]. Thus, although the cell-autonomous senescence growth arrest suppresses cancer, factors secreted by senescent cells might have deleterious cell-nonautonomous effects that alter the tissue microenvironment.

It turns out that SASP is responsive to oncogenic forms of RAS and loss of p53, two of the most important genetic contributors to cancer.

It will be interesting to tease out whether SASP is solely due to an increase in transcription of a select group of secreted proteins or whether some other aspect of mRNA metabolism is altered (such as a decrease in mRNA turnover). After all, there seems to be a tight connection between stress and mRNA metabolism (see this post). Also it is likely that the secretory potential of the endoplasmic reticulum has to be upregulated and this clearly requires certain branches of the UPR gene regulatory program (unfolded protein response - again another stress response pathway - see this post) to be activated.

Abel Pharmboy has a great post on the article, that I strongly encourage you to go over and check it out.

I should also add that one of the benefits of blogging as a scientist is that it gives you a forum to discuss your published results. In this spirit, I encourage you to head over to Ouroboros and ask Chris about SASP and his latest findings.

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Top 10 Innovations In Life Science [Bitesize Bio]

Posted: 03 Dec 2008 05:30 AM CST

The Scientist magazine has published a list of the top 10 innovations in life science in 2008, as judged by their panel of expert judges.

Among the chosen highlights are:

An in-vivo multispectral imaging system
that provides fluorescence, luminescence, and radioisotopic imaging overlayed onto anatomical X-ray, which can be used to view molecular movement in small animals in nearly real time.

A Fucci (Fluorescent ubiquitination-based cell cycle indicator)-based system that allows real-time, in vivo imaging of the cell cycle.

A service that allows end users to order customised zinc finger proteins to snip genomic DNA at the precise location they desire for knocking-out, or in, genes.

And a low-cost DNA sequencing system that can sequence the entire human genome for just $60K… and they aim to reduce the cost to $10K by the end of 2008.

Check out the whole list at The Scientist Magazine.

Is It Heritable? Twin Study Evidence Suggests Eyeball (aka Intraocular) Pressure is Substantially Affected by Genetics [DNA and You]

Posted: 03 Dec 2008 01:14 AM CST

As I've previously mentioned, twin studies allow an estimation of the heritability of a trait by comparing the degree of concordance in a given phenotype between MZ (identical) twins and DZ (fraternal) twins.

Eye examI recently came across a fascinating study looking at the heritability of intraocular pressure - that is -the pressure on the inside of the eyeball that ophthalmologists and optometrists measure when screening for glaucoma.  Carbonaro and colleagues, from the Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology Unit at King's College London School of Medicine, performed a classical twin study to estimate intraocular pressure (IOP) heritability1.  Although there was some modest variability in the heritability estimates depending on which of 3 instruments was utilized to measure IOP, the results suggested that genetic factors explain about 62 percent of the variation in IOP, with individual environmental factors and/or stochastic factors accounting for the remainder.

62 percent is impressively high, but of course does not tell us anything about the genetic architecture of the trait.  Although some progress has been made in understanding the genetics of congenital glaucoma, we have much further to go with adult glaucoma/IOP elevation.  Despite the existence of a few clues2-4, much work remains to be done. 

Photo: By ninjapoodles via Creative Commons.


Cited References

1. Carbonaro F, Andrew T, Mackey DA, Spector TD, Hammond CJ.  Heritability of intraocular pressure: a classical twin study.  Br J Ophthalmol 92:1125-8, 2008.

2. Duggal P et al.  Identification of novel genetic loci for intraocular pressure: a genomewide scan of the Beaver Dam Eye Study.  Arch Ophthalmol 125:74-9, 2007.

3. Wiggs JL et al.  Genome-wide scan for adult onset primary open angle glaucoma.  Hum Mol Genet 9:1109-17, 2000.

4. Nemesure B et al.  A genome-wide scan for primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG): the Barbados Family Study of Open-Angle Glaucoma.  Hum Genet 112:600-9, 2003.

A few questions for Governor Palin [Omics! Omics!]

Posted: 02 Dec 2008 11:03 PM CST

It's hard to believe that it's been a full month since the historic election. Well, depends on how you count a month, but today is the first Tuesday after the first Monday in December.

I was more of a political junkie in my youth, but I haven't sworn off the habit. Only in the last few days was I attempting to handicap the electoral college. TNG was a huge Obama fan, asking every adult in sight whether they would be voting for him. On the flip side, the other ticket had Miss Amanda quite charged up -- the idea of a Canino-American being one heartbeat from the presidency was too much to resist (though she has declared she will nip any groomer who attempts to apply lipstick to her!). Her disappointment that night was quickly salved by Obama's first major policy declaration in his celebratory speech. Alas, her closest kin have not been mentioned as in the running for the White House staff position.

Speaking of Governor Palin, it seems she will not be fading from the limelight. No, indeed it looks like her personal Iditarod will be going for the nomination in 2012. Alaska's chief executive made a number of comments during the campaign which induced consternation in the scientific community. Granted, the fruit fly remark was specifically about research on a totally different bug than Drosophila in a completely agriculturally-targeted setting, but it didn't endear her to the fans of Morgan & Bridges. Given she has four years to prepare, it wouldn't hurt to start now. And, in the spirit of reuse, should she not run it would seem the majority of these queries would apply to the majority of other Republicans who went for the high office this year.

1) You have publically taken stands that some views held by a minority (or less) of the scientific community should be accepted and used as the basis for policy decisions (e.g. the existance and/or cause of global warming trends) and/or taught in public schools as viable alternatives to the majority view (e.g. creationism). How do you choose which 'maverick' scientific theories have merit and which do not?

2) Which of the following maverick theories, relevant to major issues in this country today, should be taught in public schools or used to guide policy:

2.1) Healthcare (research priorities, Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement policy)

2.1.1) Childhood vaccines cause autism

2.1.2) AIDS can be treated more effectively with vitamin combinations than antiretrovirals

2.1.3) AIDS is caused by lifestyle factors and not the virus HIV

2.1.4) High cholesterol levels do not cause heart disease; cholesterol lowering using drugs risks cancer & depression

2.2) Physical sciences

2.2.1) Petroleum is not a limited supply of fossil remains of ancient lifeforms but rather is constantly created by processes deep in the earth (clearly an area where Ms. Palin has declared as in her sphere of expertise)

2.2.2) Manned space travel through the van Allen belts is guaranteed to be lethal; funding an attempt to land on the moon should be cancelled.

2.2.3) Einstein's Theory of Relativity is clearly wrong, as the concept of time dilation is so opposed to normal experience as to be laughable.



3) Should the U.S. government ever fund research outside its borders? Under what conditions should such operations be funded, if ever?


4) To what degree should non-expert politicians alter the research funding priorities set by experts in the field?

5) What, if any, useful science has come from studying fruit flies? Should the U.S. fund any further research? What other organisms do you also feel are not worth researching?


This is just a draft; readers are invited to submit further questions via the comments

Mendel’s Garden #26: A Few of My Favorite Things [A Free Man » Science]

Posted: 02 Dec 2008 10:28 PM CST

I’m quite pleased to host this month’s Mendel’s Garden - a blog carnival featuring the best genetics writing on the internets for the last month. Since it’s my party, I’ve picked out a few of my favorite topics to feature. But in the way of introduction for the neophytes in the crowd, let’s define our terms. The first question I ask my students on their first exam is “What is a gene and how is it regulated?”. I’m looking for them to talk about Mendel’s description of units of inheritance and the modern DNA based definition. Well, RPM of Evolgen thinks that it’s time to expand our definition or throw the word out entirely. He makes a solid argument, based on the fact that a lot of things that are transcribed in the genome wouldn’t be considered ‘genes’ by most of us. But if we trash the word, what would geneticists call themselves?

For a perfect example of the beautiful complexity of genetics illustrated, check out this father-son photo from Not Afraid To Use It. About says it all. Without further ado, a few of my favorite things genetical:

I found a couple of great posts about the genetics of autism. Now, to clarify, I’m not a big fan of autism per se, but I got embroiled (in a minor way) in the controversy with this post on the autism-MMR vaccine sham. Since then, I’ve followed the new research on autism with some interest. A post over at Highlight Health describes two genome-wide genetic analyses that identified five genetic loci that contribute to autism susceptibility, lending more support to the argument that autism is largely a heritable disorder. Kristina Chew, of AutismVox, thinks that geneticists sometimes go a bit far, however. Her response to a “sweeping” new theory that an evolutionary tug-of-war between parental genetic contributions is astutely skeptical. And of course, As is the case with any genetic disorder, there is an environmental component to consider. Reviewing an odd study out of Cornell, the Great Beyond details an assertion that autism rates are higher in rainy parts of the world. Take of it what you will, folks.

I’ve become increasingly fascinated with human evolution and in the genomic era research into our roots is just burgeoning. This month, Daniel McArthur at Genetic Future writes about one of the new tools available to evolutionary geneticists and gives an example of its use to look at positive selection at certain human genetic loci. One of the more interesting stories from this field is of the pair of skeletons found in a mass grave in Germany locked in an intimate embrace. The Great Beyond describes the DNA analysis that revealed that the 4600 year old remains were of a parent and child  and appear, with fractured skulls and an arrowhead in the spine, to have been unfortunate victims of humanity’s penchant for genocide. Of course, none of this may matter according to UCL’s Steve Jones (as reported on Dick Dawkins dot net) who says that human evolution is done due to a dearth of older fathers. Jones argues that genetic variation comes, in part, from mutations that men accumulateas they get older. Don’t worry, Steve, I think there are plenty of toxins about to keep us mutating.

Speaking of junk science,  there was some new junk on junk DNA released as a press release from the Genome Institute of Singapore. As Bayblab points out, this is a new and disturbing way of publishing your results - skip all the hassle of peer review and editing and just throw it out there to the mainstream press. Shame really, because this is my third topic of choice - epigenetics. Yann Klimentidis, on his blog, recounts some recent research looking at epigenetic changes in utero brought on by environmental stress. Zamp Bionews has more about epigenetic control of offspring fertility, which in this case is regulated by small RNAs apparently passed on maternally. Alex at The Daily Transcript has RNA, if not epigenetic, regulation in his post describing how each RNA binding protein in yeast tends to associate with mRNAs of a particular type. He hypothesizes that the expression of entire classes of genes may be subject to coordinated regulation at the level of mRNA metabolism.

And finally this month, a technical brief for those of you doing the hard work of science rather than just writing about it.  Sandra, who blogs at Discovering Biology in a Digital World, tells us about a new BLAST feature that allows users to create a custom database. Sandra goes through a step-by-step tut and generates a viral phylogeny. For those Ph.D. students out there in the “Nothing Works Doldrums”, Nick at Bite Size Bio has some reassuring words for you - sometimes things just don’t work. That’s biology.

Next month’s Mendel’s Garden will be hosted by Another Blasted Weblog. If you’re interested in submitting, you can do so here.

This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now

How Transcription Affects Genomic Organization and Vice Versa [The Daily Transcript]

Posted: 02 Dec 2008 06:15 PM CST

Recently there has been a flood of press about epigenetics and non-coding RNA. What is lacking from these articles is a description of how DNA is packaged and what DNA elements such as promoters and enhancers do. Today I would like to touch upon all of these subjects with a post on how DNA is organized and how this affects the turning on or off of genes.

OK here we go ...

One of the biggest findings over the past couple of years is how the act of transcription feeds back onto the organization of DNA.

What do I mean by that?

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UC Davis giving further props to blogs (mine that is) [The Tree of Life]

Next week the researchers and practitioners of the electron device world will be gathering in Washington D.C. for the 2013 IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting.  To quote the conference web front page, “IEDM is the flagship conference for nanometer-scale CMOS transistor technology, advanced memory, displays, sensors, MEMS devices, novel quantum and nano-scale devices and phenomenology, optoelectronics, devices for power and energy harvesting, high-speed devices, as well as process technology and device modeling and simulation. The conference scope not only encompasses devices in silicon, compound and organic semiconductors, but also in emerging material systems.” 

From my perspective at Chipworks, focused on chips that have made it to production, it’s the conference where companies strut their technology, and post some of the research that may make it into real product in the next few years.

In the last few days I’ve gone through the advance program, and here’s my pick of what I want to try and get to, in more or less chronological order.  As usual there are overlapping sessions with interesting papers in parallel slots, but we’ll take the decision as to which to attend on the conference floor.

For the second year the conference starts on the Saturday afternoon, with a set of six 90-minute tutorials on a range of leading-edge topics:

  • Nano Electronics – The use of Low-Dimensional Systems for Device Applications, Joerg Appenzeller, Purdue University
  • Interface Properties for SiC and GaN MOS Devices, T. Paul Chow, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Energy Harvesting for Self-Powered Electronic Systems, Rob van Schaijk, R&D Manager Sensors and Energy Harvesters, Holst Centre / IMEC
  • Tunnel FETs - Beating the 60 mV/Decade Limit, Erik Lind, EIT, Lund University
  • Atomic-Scale Modeling and Simulations for Nanoelectronics, Sumeet C. Pandey and Roy Meade,Emerging Memory Group, Process R&D, Micron Technology Inc.
  • 3D Chip Stacking, Mukta Farooq, Systems & Technology Group, IBM

The first three are from 2.45 – 4.15, and the remainder from 4.30 – 6.00.  I won’t make it to any of them; dedicated nerd I may be, but I want at least some of my weekend!

On Sunday December 4th, we start with the short courses, “Challenges of 10nm and 7nm CMOS Technologies” and “Beyond CMOS: Emerging Materials and Devices”. 

Aaron Thean of IMEC has organised the former, and we have some impressive speakers – Frederic Boeuf, ST Microelectronics, (Device Challenges and Opportunities for 10nm and Below CMOS Nodes), Zsolt Tokei, also of IMEC, (Challenges of 10nm & 7nm Advanced Interconnect), Andy Wei, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, (Process Integration Challenges in 10nm CMOS Technology), Paul Franzon, NCSU, (Manufacturing, Design, and Test of 2.5D- and 3D-Stacked ICs), and Mark Neisser, Sematech (Lithography Challenges and EUV Readiness for 10nm and Beyond). With 14-nm product expected to hit the market next year, we need to look ahead, so this is appropriate  - on the Intel clock, 10-nm is only two - three years away! 

I’m now telling folks to think about the end of silicon, at least as we know it, since my brain will not wrap around the idea of 10- and 7-nm gates, and 10-nm gates are only 30 – 40 atoms across, depending on orientation! There’s lots of talk about integrating high-mobility materials onto silicon (imec had an announcement about InGaAs finFETs only a few weeks ago), so this course will help put that into context and cover off how the transistors fit into the rest of the stack.

Tom Theis of SRC has set up the other short course; now that we are reaching the end of silicon transistors, where do we go beyond CMOS?

Ken Uchida of Keio University reprises some of the first course with a session on Extending the FET; then Adrian M. Ionescu from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne discusses Tunnel FETs to give insights into perhaps the best known low-voltage device.

Nanomagnetic Devices are reviewed by Rolf Allenspach from IBM Zurich Research Labs, looking at the material properties and challenges, and some example devices.

All of these futuristic devices have to be compared to each other to see which ones have practical potential, so Dmitri Nikonov of Intel covers off Performance Benchmarking Methodology for Emerging Devices, looking at the rigorous methodology developed by the SRC’s Nanoelectronics Research Initiative, with some comparative results.

The final talk is on Emerging Devices for Quantum Computing by Michelle Simmons from the University of New South Wales, showing the device requirements for a practical quantum computer, then a quick survey of exploratory devices, and a closer look at one or two promising device concepts.

So some good solid stuff – although the courses make a long Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., but it’s worth sticking around to the end.

For the first time I can remember the Sunday evening has some extra sessions; Sematech is hosting a session on “Beyond CMOS” at the Fairfax at Embassy Row, from 5.30 – 8.35; and Leti will host a workshop on “Latest Advances in Cost-effective and Power-efficient Technologies for the Future of the Semiconductor Industry” from 6 – 9 pm at the Churchill Hotel, across the street from the Hilton.

Monday morning we have the plenary session, with three pertinent talks on the challenges of contemporary electronics:

  • Graphene Future Emerging Technology, by Andrea Ferrari, from the University of Cambridge – given the developments in this field in the last few years, it’s time to look ahead and try and create a roadmap for this potentially disruptive technology, so this should be illuminating;
  • Heterogeneous 3D Integration – Technology Enabler Toward Future Super-Chips, Mitsumasa Koyanagi, Tohoku University – we are already seeing a form of heterogeneous integration in RF front-end modules (but at the package level), and with Luxtera’s optical interface chips, but this talk will describe the higher levels of integration being researched at Tohoku U and elsewhere.
  • Smart Mobile SoC Driving the Semiconductor Industry: Technology Trend, Challenges and Opportunities, Geoffrey Yeap, Qualcomm. As VP of Technology, Geoffrey Yeap has been at the heart of the mobile revolution, and helped push the company into the top ten; so this should be an interesting review of the last few years of mobile chip developments, and the challenges of squeezing more and more functionality onto ICs, for more and more RF bands, and in ever thinner phones.
At lunchtime ASM is hosting their regular IEDM seminar (Monday this year, instead of the Wednesday as in previous years) on Integrating High Mobility Materials, again at the Churchill Hotel.

After lunch we have seven parallel sessions coming up! Session 2 gets straight into the way-ahead material with papers on germanium & III-V CMOS devices, although we seem to be moving away from R towards D in the R&D spectrum; for example, paper 2.8from IBM builds InGaAs n- and SiGe p-MOSFETs on hybrid substrates formed by direct wafer bonding of SiGe and InGaAs layers.

Session 3 details MRAM and NAND flash memories, starting with an invited talk by AIST on Future Prospects of MRAM Technologies (3.1), and the session ends with papers from Hynix and Macronix, the former on a 1x-nm multi-level cell NAND flash (3.6), and the latter on a dual-channel 3D NAND flash (3.7).

In session 4, we have the more futuristic topic of Steep Slope Devices, including papers from imec (4.2) and Intel (4.3) on tunnel FETs.

Now that we are into the finFET era, there is an interesting simulation paper in session 5; Analysis of Dopant Diffusion and Defects in Fin Structure (5.7), a joint paper by Panasonic and imec.

Session 6 focuses on Power Devices, with an indication that TSMC is getting into the business; they have a joint paper with Honk Kong UST on interface traps in Al2O3/AlGaN/GaN MIS devices (6.3). Mitsubishi is giving an invited talk on high voltage and large current SiC power devices (6.5), and we get back to MOS with a joint paper on the operating limits of LDMOS from NXP and U Twente.

The first two papers in session 7 discuss the reliability degradation caused by TSVs and 3D stacking, as measured by DRAM retention time; it appears that if wafers are thinned to 30 microns or less the DRAM performance drops off significantly due to stresses caused by the TSVs and microbumps (7.1, 7.2).

This year’s IEDM has focus sessions, and session 8 is the first, on Sensors and Microsystems for Biomedical Applications, with seven invited talks on different aspects of biosensors and biomedical devices.

Then in the evening we have the conference reception at 6.30, through until 8 pm.

Tuesday morning we have another seven parallel sessions, starting with session 9 on Advanced CMOS Technology, so one I will definitely be targeting. The first paper (9.1) is TSMC’s launch of their 16-nm finFET process, with a claimed doubling of logic density over their 28-nm process, with more than 35% speed gain or over 55% power reduction, and a 0.07 sq. micron 6T SRAM cell size.   
 
Comparison of TSMC 16-nm finFET performance with 28-nm HKMG planar process (Source: TSMC, IEDM)

That is followed (9.2) by the competing 20-nm FDSOI process from the ISDA Alliance (IBM, STMicroelectronics, Renesas, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, SOITEC, and CEA-LETI).

Paper 9.3takes us into the world of 3D-IC with a paper on layered ultrathin-body (UTB) circuits stacked on 300nm-thick interlayer dielectric (ILD) layers.
 
TEM image of 3D-layered UTB chip (Source: NNDL/Stanford/NTHU/UC Berkely, IEDM)

Amorphous silicon layers were deposited and crystallized with laser pulses, then planarized with low-temperature CMP to thin the layers, allowing formation of ultrathin, ultraflat devices.

IBM takes the next slot (9.4) with what looks like an update on their 22-nm gate-first process debuted last year (paper 3.3 last year), discussing 2nd Generation Dual-Channel Optimization with cSiGe for 22nm HP Technology and Beyond.

Intel also gives an update, this time on their eDRAM technology disclosed at the VLSI Symposium in June (Retention Time Optimization for eDRAM in 22nm Tri-Gate CMOS Technology, 9.5).
 
Details from Intel eDRAM paper at 2013 VLSI Technology Symposium

The session finishes up with a paper on embedded flash in a 55-nm process from Fujitsu (9.6), and one on SRAM-like local interconnect structures for 20-nm middle-of-line metallization from GLOBALFOUNDRIES; they claim that this helps them “achieve industry’s most optimum 20nm technology offerings”.

So I guess from the above I will be in session 9 all morning, so I will have to give session 10 on RRAM and FERAMa miss, even though there is interesting progress in the field, including 28-nm RRAM in a paper (10.3) co-authored by TSMC.

Session 11 is focused on Flexible Electronics, a look into the future, but not too far away, judging by some of the talks.

Session 12 is the first on Modeling and Simulation, focusing on Technology CAD, with a few topics that catch my eye; paper 12.2 on Alloy Scattering in SiGe Channel from Samsung; Mobility in High-K Metal Gate UTBB-FDSOI Devices, an invited talk (12.5) from STMicroelectronics; Threshold Behavior of the Drift Region: the Missing Piece in LDMOS Modeling (12.7), from NXP; and Copper Through Silicon Via Induced Keep Out Zone for 10nm Node Bulk FinFET CMOS  Technology (12.8), a joint paper from imec and Synopsys.

It seems that session 13is a bit of a catch-all session on Advanced Manufacturing, since it includes invited papers on 3D memory (13.1) from Micron, GaN-on-Si from Toshiba (13.2), photonics on SOI by Luxtera and STMicroelectronics (13.3), TSMC’s take on glass interposers (13.4) and 450-mm (13.7), and III-V growth on 300 mm wafers from Aixtron (13.6).

Next we have another bio-session, BioMEMS and BioSensors, including two DNA analysis-on-chip papers (14.1 & 14.3). The last parallel session of the morning is session 15, on Reliability of BEOL and FEOL Devices, and it now seems that graphene and nanotubes have been around long enough that we have an invited talk on their reliability (15.1).

The speaker at the conference lunch will be David Luebke, Senior Director of Research at Nvidia, on the topic, The Current State-of-the-Art and Advances in Visual/GPU Computing.

Session 16 in the afternoon is about III-V Logic, looking ahead to when silicon can no longer provide the performance needed.

Session 17 is another focus session, this time on Analog and Mixed Signal Circuit/Device Interactions. We have a series of invited talks on the impact of nanometer scaling and finFETS on analog design and performance, RF technology, and a look at terahertz RF in CMOS, all of which catch my interest.

We are back to Sensors, Resonators, and Microsystems in session 18, and Nanosheet and Nanotube Technologyin session 19, and it seems that molybdenum disulphide is now taking attention away from graphene since there are a couple of papers on that topic.

Session 20 is another multi-topic group of papers, on Fully Depleted Planar, 3D Ge Device Technology and RRAM Memory processing. We have TSMC and GloFo/Samsung/imec talking Ge finFETs (20.1 & 20.4), Si nanowires from IBM (20.2), and gate-last FDSOI from STMicroelectronics and CEA-LETI (20.3); two papers on doping finFETS by AIST/Nissin and AMAT/GloFo/Hynix (20.5 & 20.6); and to finish the session two RRAM talks by Macronix/National TsingHua U and Stanford U (20.7 & 20.8). The last paper uses block copolymer self-assembly lithography to get the device down to less than 12 nm.

Memory Characterization and Reliability is the subject of Session 21, mostly of resistive memories; Session 22 is another Modeling and Simulation group of papers, this time on Innovative Devices, mainly resistive memories.

That brings us to the end of the afternoon, and now we have a dilemma – three offsite events – IEDM is getting popular with the industry! Applied Materials is hosting a panel on "3D NAND Is a Reality - What's Next?" at the Omni Shoreham Hotel from 5 – 7.30 pm; Coventor is also hosting a panel at the Churchill Hotel, from 5.30 – 8.30, on “Insights from the Experts on Advanced Technology Development”; and Synopsys is having a TCAD reception, again at the Churchill, from 6 – 8 pm.

Once we’re sated from the hospitality we can wander back to the Hilton and try and stay awake for the conference evening panels:

“Is there life beyond conventional CMOS?” moderated by Jeff Welser of IBM – now becoming a perennial question! The panelists are An Chen (GLOBALFOUNDRIES), Tetsuo Endoh (Tohoku University), Marc Heyns (IMEC Fellow), Mark Rodwell (UC Santa Barbara), Alan Seabaugh (Notre Dame), and Ian Young (Intel).

And:

“Will Voltage Scaling in CMOS Technology Come to an END?" with Kevin Zhang of Intel as moderator. Panelists for this session are Rob Aitken (ARM), Kelin Kuhn (Intel), Sreedhar Natarajan (TSMC), Tak Ning (IBM), Ann Steegen (imec), and Nobuyuki Sugii ( LEAP).

Wednesday morning has sessions 25 – 30; S25 on Advanced 3D Packaging and Emerging Memory Systems; TSMC is detailing an Array Antenna Integrated Fan-out Wafer Level Packaging (25.1), and Maxim is giving an invited talk on 3D Heterogeneous Integration for Analog, as the first two papers.

S26 covers Ge Channel and Nanowire Devices, obviously looking ahead, but catching my interest are A Group IV Solution for 7nm FinFET CMOS (26.3), from Synopsys/Stanford, and A Practical Si Nanowire Technology… (26.5) from Samsung.

Session 27 - Display and Imaging Devices has three papers on thin-film transistors for displays, and three imaging talks; Sony describes a Three-dimensional .. 1.20 μm Pixel Back-Illuminated CMOS Image Sensor (27.4), and Infineon has a novel Trench Gate Photo Cell (27.6) which could find use as the ambient light sensor that we see in so many mobile phones.

We have more III-V and TFET papers in session 28, but including an invited talk from Raydeon (More than Moore: III-V Devices and Si CMOS Get It Together – 28.5) on integrating III-V devices with Si CMOS on a common silicon substrate, which should be interesting in these days of 3D.

Session 29 has a couple of interesting papers on BEOL from Renesas and Samsung (29.1 & 29.2), and Hitachi/ASET discusses Fabricating 3D Integrated CMOS Devices by Using Wafer Stacking and Via-last TSV Technologies (29.5).

Conductive Bridge and Phase Change RAM papers make up session 30; the first two are CBRAM, and the rest PCM. Micron discusses Interface Engineering for Thermal Disturb Immune Phase Change Memory Technology in paper 30.4.

After the morning sessions, the IEDM Entrepreneurs Lunch is back for a second year, with Steve Nasiri, founder of Invensense, and now angel investor and mentor at Nasiri Ventures LLC, as guest speaker.

We are back to Characterization, Reliability, and Yield in S31 after lunch, with a focus on Device Variation and Noise. STMicroelectronics is giving an invited presentation on the Growing Impact of Atmospheric Radiations on sub-65nm CMOS BULK/FDSOI Technologies (31.1), we have two papers on SRAM, and the last three discuss random telegraph noise in MOSFETs, resistive RAM, and HEMTs, respectively.

Session 32 is the third Modeling and Simulation session, this time on Modeling Beyond CMOS Devices, Interconnects and GaN HEMT – getting a bit esoteric for my focus, unfortunately – but then with all the parallel sessions we have to miss some of them.

The last session (numerically), session 33, covers Circuit/Device Variability and Reliability. Asen Asenov of University of Glasgow/Gold Standard Simulations has a joint paper with IBM on Simulation Based Transistor-SRAM Co-Design in the Presence of Statistical Variability and Reliability (33.1), detailing the impact of process and statistical variability and reliability on SRAM cell design in 14nm technology node SOI FinFET transistors; with Intel’s 14-nm due next year we might get some insights, though time will tell if they have moved to SOI trigate transistors from the bulk material that they currently use at 22-nm.

By the end I’m usually suffering from information overload and becoming brain-numb, but with 215 papers and an average of six parallel sessions at any one time, plus the offsite events, that’s not really surprising. On the other hand, where else do we go to get all this amazing stuff?

          5 Ways Law Enforcement Will Use Tattoo Recognition Technology        

There's an action movie cliché in which a cop inspects the body of a felled assassin or foot soldier and discovers a curious tattoo that ultimately leads to a rogue black-ops squadron, a secret religious sect, or an underground drug trafficking ring. 

The trope isn’t entirely Hollywood fantasy, but the reality of emerging tattoo recognition technology is closer to a dystopian tech thriller. Soon, we may see police departments using algorithms to scrape tattoos from surveillance video or cops in the field using mobile apps to analyze tattoos during stops. Depending on the tattoo, such technology could be used to instantly reveal personal information, such as your religious beliefs or political affiliations.

For years, law enforcement has used tattoos to identify criminal suspects as well as unidentified victims. Police have also used tattoos to map out subcultures and networks of gangs and hate groups. Until recently, however, tattoo matching and analysis has involved flipping through the pages of photo binders; any computer-assisted matching has been limited to metadata searches of keywords.

NIST's Official Tattoo Recognition Technology Logo

In 2014 and 2015, federal researchers at the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) joined forces with the FBI to launch a program to accelerate tattoo recognition technology. As part of Tatt-C (the code name for NIST’s "Tattoo Recognition Technology Challenge"), officials assembled a giant dataset of prisoner tattoos and divvied it out to biometric companies, research institutions, and universities. They were asked to run five experiments to show how well their algorithms could match tattoos under various circumstances. 

Some tests involved matching different photos of the same person’s tattoo. Other experiments sought to match similar tattoos on different people based on their characteristics—such as a crucifix, Minnie Mouse, and Chinese calligraphy. These tests pose serious concerns for privacy, free expression, religious freedom, and the right of association.

Each one of these experiments correlated to a specific law enforcement use. The Tatt-C results, released last summer, now serve as a crystal ball into what law enforcement has planned for this technology over the years to come.

Here are the five tests and what they tell use about the future of tattoo recognition technology.

Related: Learn why EFF is calling for an end to this research. 

Note on the data: The Tatt-C dataset contained 15,000 images obtained by the FBI from prisoners. The dataset was split into subsets and sub-subsets for individual trials. Tatt-C participants self-reported their results, which were not independently verified. The percentages below reflect the accuracy within the experiment, and not necessarily how accurate the technology would perform in the real world.

Tattoo Detection: Why would police want algorithms that can detect whether an image has a tattoo or not? 

Any given law enforcement agency may be sitting on an immense, unsorted collection of images. Mugshots, scars, birthmarks, and tattoos—all mixed up together, some unlabeled, some mislabeled. Without computer assistance, it could take significant staff-power to sort through it all. NIST suggests that automated tattoo detection would streamline an agency’s ability to classify images.

Perhaps the more concerning use case for privacy advocates is that tattoo detection technology would also pave the way for algorithms to isolate tattoos from images scraped from the Internet or captured by security cameras.  

The bad news is the technology is already highly sophisticated. 

Tatt-C’s research team reported back that three different organizations’ algorithms could detect a tattoo in an image with more than 90% accuracy.  The private biometric technology company MorphoTrak (a subsidiary of Safran) claimed the best result; their algorithm was able to detect whether an image contained a tattoo or not with 96.3% accuracy.

Tattoo Identification: When we say biometrics, we are talking about unique physical or behavioral characteristics that can be used to identity you. Fingerprinting has been used by criminal justice agencies for over a century to identify suspects; tattoo recognition can be used in much the same way.

Let’s say a cop is questioning someone on the street who refuses to provide an ID card. The officer could run a photo of one of the person’s tattoos through a database to find a photo of the same tattoo captured during a previous arrest. One situation NIST imagines is applying tattoo recognition technology to video surveillance of a robbery in which the suspect is wearing a mask but a neck tattoo is visible. 

Just as facial recognition technology raises serious privacy concerns, people should be wary of tattoo recognition technology’s invasiveness. Not only can it identify everyday people caught on camera while going about their business, it could eventually lead to tracking people using their tattoos.

NIST asked Tatt-C participants to match a photo of a tattoo to other pictures of the photo taken over time.  Four different companies and research institutions reported that their algorithm could return a hit on the first result with more than 95% accuracy. Again, MorphoTrak came out on top, returning a hit with 99.4% accuracy.

Region of Interest: NIST uses “Region of Interest” to describe how well an algorithm can match a small piece of a tattoo to a wider image of the whole tattoo. For example, could the algorithm recognize that a tiny skull tattoo is part of a larger half-sleeve arm tattoo. 

The idea here is that sometimes only a portion of a tattoo is caught on surveillance; is that enough to identify someone if police have the whole tattoo on file? This technology would also help police match a tattoo, even if the person subsequently added more to the design. 

Yet again, MorphoTrak provided the most accurate results: the algorithm could return a hit on the first result with 94.6% accuracy. Purdue University, which has developed an app [.pdf] with support from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, was close behind with 91.6% accuracy.

Mixed Media: When you get a tattoo, the artist rarely inks their first draft on your skin.  The artist will draw it out on paper, then turn it into a purple transfer to trace out with the needles. The question for researchers is whether an algorithm can reverse engineer this process; rather than matching tattoos to tattoos, can they match a tattoo to an image in another medium.

If a witness sees a tattoo during a crime, they could describe it for a sketch artist, who could run the sketch through a tattoo database.  Or, if an officer wants to see if a tattoo correlates to a gang symbol, the tattoo could be compared to street graffiti.

But this technology sets law enforcement on a dangerous path, since it would allow a police officer to learn more than just your identity, but your interests, political beliefs, or religion.  An investigator could plug an image of an Anarchist circle-A or the Republican elephant into its database to return a list of people who have tattoos of those images.  

This technology is on the horizon, but at this stage it is still relatively underdeveloped.

The MITRE Corporation—a non-profit organization that manages research centers on behalf of the federal government—produced the most successful results. The algorithm could produce matches within the first 10 results with 36.5% accuracy. 

Although that number is fairly low, that may not prevent law enforcement from using it to generate leads. However, less reliable algorithms have greater potential of capturing innocent people in investigations.

Tattoo Similarity:  One of the most worrisome applications of tattoo recognition technology is its potential ability to reveal connections or shared beliefs among a population. For example, rather than matching a particular tattoo of a crucifix with an individual, police could run the image of a crucifix through a database to produce a long set of people with similar cross tattoos. This essentially means police would be able to create lists of people based on their religion, politics, or other affiliations as expressed by their tattoos.

This type of tattoo matching could sweep up fans of the same bands or members of the same labor union or military unit. This application has a high likelihood of generating false positives—matching someone whose tattoo may be visually similar, but not actually symbolically similar. That could result in people being improperly associated with groups, such as gangs, with which they have no actual affiliation.

Law enforcement primarily wants to use this technology to identify members of gangs and hate groups, who often use coded symbols to express their affiliation. But that’s not necessarily what NIST researchers focused on during Tatt-C’s “Tattoo Similarity Experiments,” which tested how well algorithms could match different tattoos with similar visual features. Many of the images NIST asked participants to analyze were religious symbols—often Catholic iconography, such as hands holding rosaries and Jesus Christ’s crucifixion.

This should raise bright red flags for those concerned about religious freedom, especially in light of how authoritarian governments have used tattoos to oppress religious minorities. Nazi Germany’s use of tattoos to track Jews during the Holocaust comes to mind. Indeed, the six-pointed Star of David was one of the images used during the NIST experiments. However, in that case, the star also serves as the symbol of the Gangster Disciples, a Chicago street gang. So even when law enforcement is attempting to use tattoos to investigate gangs, people who are simply expressing their religion could be labeled as affiliates of criminal gangs.

The good news is that the technology is still in its early stages.  Researchers attributed the drop in accuracy to a problem they called the “semantic gap.” That refers to the difficulty computers have in divining meaning from tattoos that contain relevant symbols, but are not clearly visually similar. MITRE achieved the best results; its algorithm could establish a correct match within the first 10 results with 14.9% accuracy.

What’s Next

Although the NIST and FBI experiments were largely academic research exercises, law enforcement is already deploying the technology. Purdue University, with support from the Department of Homeland Security, has developed a graffiti and tattoo matching app—GARI—that is now in use by law enforcement agencies across the state of Indiana. Meanwhile, companies like MorphoTrak and DataWorks are now offering tattoo recognition as part of biometric software packages that also include fingerprint scanning, iris scanning, DNA analysis and facial recognition. We know that sheriff's departments in California have contracts with these companies.  

It’s also clear that the lessons learned from the Tatt-C project are being used to refine future research and tattoo recognition technology. Following the Tatt-C project, NIST released training materials for law enforcement that explained how camera framing and lighting can make tattoos more easily recognizable by algorithms. Researchers further recommended that an even larger dataset—more than 100,000 images—be compiled for distribution to third-party researchers. 

This summer, NIST plans to launch its next major series of experiments: Tatt-E, short for the Tattoo Recognition Technology Evaluation. Using tattoo databases from the Michigan State Police, Tennessee Department of Corrections, and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, NIST intends to run a similar set of tests internally, connecting to each algorithm through an API. 

For the sake of civil liberties, privacy, and dignity, we believe that NIST should halt this program immediately. Take action now to call for an end to experimentation with our tattoos.


          California Cops Are Using These Biometric Gadgets in the Field        

This report was co-written by MuckRock Editor JPat Brown. MuckRock Co-founder Michael Morisy, MuckRock Intern Lukas Knight, and EFF Activism Intern Annelyse Gelman also contributed to this report. Another version appears at MuckRock.com.

Law enforcement agencies around the country are increasingly embracing biometric technology, which uses intrinsic physical or behavioral characteristics—such as fingerprints, facial features, irises, tattoos, or DNA—to identify people, sometimes even instantly. Just as the technology that powers your cell phone has shrunk both in size and cost, mobile biometric technologies are now being deployed more widely and cheaply than ever before—and with less oversight.

EFF and MuckRock News teamed up in August to reveal how state and local law enforcement agencies are using mobile biometric technology in the field by filing public records requests around the country. With the help of members of the public who nominated jurisdictions for investigation, we have now obtained thousands of pages of documents from more than 30 agencies.

Mobile biometric technology includes mobile devices and apps that police use to capture and analyze a person’s physical features in the field and submit that information to a central database for matching. Ostensibly, police deploy this technology as a means to confirm the identity of someone during a stop. However, the technology can be used to capture people's biometric data and add it to biometric databases, regardless of whether their identity is in question.   

Because of the volume of records we’ve received so far (the documents continue to flow in faster than EFF and MuckRock’s teams can read through them), we’re starting with California. Nine of the agencies have responded to our requests with documents, while many more claimed they didn’t have any records.

Of those that did respond, most employed a digital fingerprinting device. Facial recognition has also been widely embraced among agencies in San Diego County, with Santa Clara County law enforcement agencies close behind. In addition, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s biometrics system includes tattoo recognition, while the Orange County Sheriff's Department is also investigating iris recognition. 

Agency: Brentwood Police Department

What they have: Mobile fingerprinting

Records we received: One page of instructions

Details: Brentwood police have installed BlueCheck mobile ID systems in nine vehicles. These handheld devices, sold by 3M, capture fingerprints and match them to criminal and registrant files maintained by Contra Costa and Alameda counties. Brentwood Police plan to link the devices to California Department of Justice and FBI data in “the near future.” 

Once an officer scans the subject’s index fingers, the device will return results in under three minutes. A “hit” is considered a 100% accurate match.

Link to records: https://www.muckrock.com/foi/brentwood-3125/mobile-biometric-technologies-brentwood-police-department-20252/

Agency: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD), Pasadena Police Department

What they have: Face recognition, tattoo recognition, mobile fingerprinting

Records we received: Procurement and purchasing documents, guidelines and best practices  

Details: LASD provided a selection of records after charging a $42 fee. The agency refused to answer specific questions. Pasadena Police did not provide records, but did answer a handful of questions.  

Face and Tattoo Recognition

In 2008, LASD initiated a $2 million contract with DataWorks for a “Digital Mugshot System,” which included facial recognition and tattoo recognition technology. DataWorks’ system, combined with Cognitec facial recognition algorithm, could match a face in under 30 seconds. As of 2013, the system had more than 6.5 million booking photos and more than 3 million images of scars, marks, and tattoos.

Between 2010 and 2013, the county sought information and proposals to expand what it called a “Multimodal Biometric Identification System” that, in addition to facial and tattoo recognition, would include iris scanning, DNA analysis, and voice recognition. Ultimately, it decided to extend its current contract with DataWorks, signing another four-year, $2.1 million deal in February 2015.

The current contract includes a facial recognition mobile app for iOS, Android, and Windows 8 tablets—licensed for up to 250 individual devices. DataWorks is also tasked with adding 9 million new face images to the current 7 million already in the system.

Mobile fingerprinting

LASD did not provide up-to-date information for its use of mobile fingerprinting devices, but records provided to MuckRock and EFF show the agency had at least 2,500 BlueCheck portable Bluetooth fingerprint scanners as of 2010. At the time, LASD’s finger print database included more than 10 million Ten Prints (full fingerprint sets), over 1.5 million palm prints, and 175,000 latent prints. In 2010, LASD reported that the system had an accuracy rate of 95% for two-finger queries and 99.95% for four-finger queries.

Per departmental guidelines, the devices may only be used for law-enforcement purposes and only by personnel who have received training in proper use of the devices. A 2014 newsletter addressed the problem of deputies being asked to use the devices for non-law enforcement purposes. A hypothetical scenario involved an emergency room physician asking an officer to use a mobile fingerprinting device to identify a patient not currently involved in a case. Under these circumstances, the officer would not be allowed to deploy the device.

Pasadena Police Department has 38 BlueCheck devices. They were provided by LASD, and they query LAPD’s databases. The devices may be used by all of Pasadena’s 240 officers.

Link to records: LASD https://www.muckrock.com/foi/los-angeles-county-358/mobile-biometric-technologies-los-angeles-county-sheriffs-department-20258/

Pasadena Police Department https://www.muckrock.com/foi/pasadena-3368/mobile-biometric-technologies-pasadena-police-department-20365/

Agency: Marin County Sheriff's Office 

What they have: Mobile fingerprinting

Records we received: Marketing materials, policies, purchasing documents, memorandum of understanding between Marin County and the California Department of Justice

Details: The Marin County Sheriff's Office ordered 40 Mobile Ident II fingerprint readers (sold by Cogent Systems) between April and August 2009. In addition to prints, the devices are also equipped with a camera for capturing portraits.

The devices are primarily used to identify people in the field by capturing fingerprints and comparing them against the sheriff’s arrestee database. The process takes approximately 90 seconds, providing results such as name under which the person was originally booked, a booking photograph, booking number, and driver license number. All patrol officers have access to the devices, though, according to a sheriff’s directive, they “should” only be used by deputies who have received training.

In 2011, the sheriff signed an agreement with the California Department of Justice to participate in a statewide Mobile ID system.

Link to records: https://www.muckrock.com/foi/marin-county-3047/mobile-biometric-technologies-marin-county-sheriff-20395/

 

Agency: Orange County Sheriff’s Office

What they have: None currently, but recently tested mobile fingerprinting, planning for iris scanning and facial recognition. 

Records we received: Statistical breakdowns, memorandums of understanding, appropriate use policy

Details: Orange County Sheriff's crime lab recently purchased MorphoTrak's MorphoBis automated biometric identification system at a cost of $10 million. While the system is built to handle iris identification, face recognition, and mobile identification, a staffer told us those functions are in the planning stages, but not currently in use.

Between June 5 and August 28, 2015, Orange County Sheriff's Office tested six mobile fingerprinting devices from MorphoTrack. A total of 12 officers were authorized to use the devices. According to the one-page appropriate use policy, officers are only allowed to use the devices when they have a legal right to request identification. However, the fingerprint matches are only considered “supplemental information” and may not be used as the sole proof of identity or probable cause for arrest.

The sheriff also provided statistics on its overall fingerprinting database (i.e. prints on file, mostly captured during the booking process). Between 2012 and 2014, the sheriff collected fingerprints from 222,244 individuals, while there are a total of 1.48 million fingerprints in the database. These fingerprints, including ones collected through mobile devices, are kept on record indefinitely. Twelve police agencies in Orange County have access to the database, as do vendors for operational purposes.

Link to records: https://www.muckrock.com/foi/orange-county-394/mobile-biometric-technologies-orange-county-sheriff-department-20352/

Agency: San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), San Diego Police Department, Carlsbad Police Department

What they have: Facial recognition

Records we received: 161mb of records from SANDAG, four-page policy document from SDPD, six pages of instructions from CPD

Details: SANDAG is a government organization composed of representatives from cities throughout the region that coordinates countywide programs, including information and technology-sharing between law enforcement agencies. As EFF previously reported, SANDAG—through its Automated Regional Justice Information System (ARJIS)—operates a mobile facial recognition project called the Tactical Information System, or TACIDS. The system is provided by FaceFirst, also known as Airborne Biometrics.

Through Android devices and a mobile app, officers can take photos of suspects during stops and compare those images against the San Diego County Sheriff’s mugshot database. The documents show that the initial pilot was funded by a $418,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. The most recent contract, which was signed after the pilot ended, is for $125,000 and covers the period of April 1, 2015 through March 31, 2016.

As of February 2015, 26 local, state and federal agencies in the San Diego County region are participating in the TACIDS program. Together, the agencies have a total 463 facial-recognition devices, although only 193 devices were listed as “active.”

There are 819 registered users, although non-registered users may email photos to those authorized to use the devices. The devices have been used 20,682 times, producing 5,200 matches. That means the devices were only effective in one out of four cases. (This data comes with the caveat that SANDAG is unable to distinguish between queries that occurred during police encounters and queries that occurred during training or demonstrations.)

The San Diego Police Department provided a copy of its policy, which says officers are only allowed to compare the image to the database for these three purposes: 1) To identify a suspect of a criminal investigation; 2) to aid in locating a missing person; or 3) to identify an individual for whom a warrant has been issued. Under the policy, the images are supposed to be deleted from the devices after the search has been run.

SDPD officers are not allowed to use facial recognition if the stopped person presents photo ID, unless the officer has reason to suspect the ID is forged or the person is using someone else’s ID. Only staff who have received special training are allowed to use the devices.

Carlsbad Police Department initially claimed it does not use biometric devices. EFF and MuckRock pointed out that the department is listed as participating in the TACIDS program, and only then did staff provide a document from the initial pilot project. The document shows the various screens of the app, as well as the configuration settings. Each device is linked to a unique Gmail account, and officers have the ability to adjust the sensitivity of the face-match algorithm.

Links to records:

SANDAG: https://www.muckrock.com/foi/san-diego-56/mobile-biometric-technologies-sandagarjis-20464/

SDPD: https://www.muckrock.com/foi/san-diego-56/mobile-biometric-technologies-san-diego-police-department-20388/

CPD: https://www.muckrock.com/foi/carlsbad-60/mobile-biometric-technologies-carlsbad-police-department-20259/

Agency: San Jose Police Department

What they have: Mobile fingerprinting, facial recognition planned

Records we received: Memos, purchase orders, annual reports, instruction manual, grant application

Details: Records show the San Jose Police Department, in partnership with Santa Clara County, began using BlueCheck mobile fingerprinting devices in the field during the citation process as early as 2008, although the mobile identification program did not take off fully until two years later as part of the “Cal ID Mobile ID System.”

According to a policy memorandum issued in August 2010, the devices may only be used by trained personnel and only “in circumstances in which an officer has the suspect’s consent, or the officer has probable cause to arrest the person.” Any data provided by the system is considered “supplemental information” to other investigative measures.

In 2011, SJPD received a $462,700 federal grant through the California Department of Justice to expand the system so officers may check fingerprints against the state’s fingerprint system and eventually the FBI’s database. Around this time, procurement documents show a switch from BlueCheck to Mobizent’s ID-Mobileworks system, which cost at least $190,000 for 26 devices (other documents show as many as 85). As of 2012, the Santa Clara system contained 891,612 10-print/palm print files.

SJPD does not yet appear to have a fully integrated county-wide facial recognition system, but it did run a facial recognition pilot program between November 2012 and April 2013 with DataWorks, the same company providing similar services to the Los Angeles Police Department. This pilot program resulted in at least one arrest warrant issued for a suspect who was identified by using the technology to analyze a photo taken by a civilian on a cell phone.

In summer 2015, SJPD also applied for a $500,000 federal grant to establish a facial recognition system that would serve 12 partner agencies in Santa Clara County. This system would comb through the county’s thousands of pieces of digital surveillance footage, as well as a database with the county’s 1.8 million mug shots, to ID suspects.

The proposed software would “sharpen pixels in blurry images and reposition faces that aren’t looking directly into the camera,” create composites from multiple surveillance images. The software would also create 3D models of suspects’ faces to make them easier to match with mug shots, quickly producing a candidate list “regardless of factors such as hair color, glasses, hats, background, head tilt angle, and so on.”

San Jose told EFF that it did not receive the federal grant and is seeking alternative funding sources.

Link to records: https://www.muckrock.com/foi/san-jose-336/mobile-biometric-technologies-san-diego-police-department-20390/

 

No Responsive Documents

The following agencies communicated that they did not have responsive documents. This does not automatically mean they do not use mobile biometric technology, but that they could not locate disclosable records related to mobile biometric technology. 

Note: While the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department did not have responsive records, the agency added: 

"Our agency is not yet up and running on mobile biometric devices. This is something which is on our Systems and Technologies Bureau’s lists of items to research for future implementation. Our officers do not have issued smartphones or tablets capable of this technology and currently it is not within our budget."

No Acknowledgement of Public Records Requests

The following agencies have not sent letters acknowledging they received the public records requests. 

Response in Progress 

The following agencies are still processing the public records requests. 


          How Private DNA Data Led Idaho Cops on a Wild Goose Chase and Linked an Innocent Man to a 20-year-old Murder Case        

The New Orleans Advocate recently published a shocking story that details the very real threats to privacy and civil liberties posed by law enforcement access to private genetic databases and familial DNA searching.

In 1996, a young woman named Angie Dodge was murdered in her apartment in a small town in Idaho. Although the police collected DNA from semen left at the crime scene, they haven’t been able to match the DNA to existing profiles in any criminal database, and the murder has never been solved.

Fast forward to 2014. The Idaho police sent the semen sample to a private lab to extract a DNA profile that included YSTR and mtDNA—the two genetic markers used to determine patrilineal and matrilineal relationships (it’s unclear why they reopened the case after nearly 20 years). These markers would allow investigators to search some existing databases to try to find a match between the sample and genetic relatives.

The cops chose to use a lab linked to a private collection of genetic genealogical data called the Sorenson Database (now owned by Ancestry.com), which claims it’s “the foremost collection of genetic genealogy data in the world.” The reason the Sorenson Database can make such an audacious claim is because it has obtained its more than 100,000 DNA samples and documented multi-generational family histories from “volunteers in more than 100 countries around the world.” Some of these volunteers were encouraged by the Mormon Church—well-known for its interest in genealogy—to provide their genetic material to the database. Sorenson promised volunteers their genetic data would only be used for “genealogical services, including the determination of family migration patterns and geographic origins” and would not be shared outside Sorenson. Its consent form states:

The only individuals who will have access to the codes and genealogy information will be the principal investigator and the others specifically authorized by the Principal Investigator, including the SMGF research staff.

Despite this promise, Sorenson's vast collection of data, like data in other public DNA databases, is available online and may be searched by anyone with "DNA results obtained from a commercial lab." This means, without a warrant or court order, investigators were able to run the crime scene DNA against Sorenson’s private genealogical DNA data. The search turned up 41 potential familial matches, one of which matched on 34 out of 35 alleles—a very close match that would generally indicate a close familial relationship. The cops then asked Ancestry.com, not only for the “protected” name associated with that profile, but also for all “all information including full names, date of births, date and other information pertaining to the original donor to the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy project.” Ancestry.com offered to disclose this information in response to a simple subpoena, but the police got a search warrant instead.

This is when the case starts to sound like something out of the TV show “CSI.” Ancestry.com linked the crime scene DNA to DNA from a man born in 1952. That man didn’t fit the age profile of the murderer, so the investigators used the genealogical information to trace his male descendant line and find his son, Michael Usry Jr., born in 1979. Then the cops searched Usry’s Facebook page and found he had some Facebook friends who lived somewhat near Idaho Falls. And then through Google searches, the police learned Usry was a filmmaker who had been involved in making a few short films that had homicide or killings in the story line. (The cop noted in a warrant affidavit “these short films have won awards in several film festivals.”) Based on this completely circumstantial evidence, the Idaho investigators got a warrant to collect a swab of Usry’s DNA.

They called up Usry, told him they were investigating a hit-and-run, and asked him to meet with them. Usry thought he “had nothing to hide” and agreed to the meeting. They took him to an interrogation room, questioned him without a lawyer present, and eventually collected a DNA sample. Then Usry sat on pins & needles for a month waiting for the results.

When the results came in, it turned out Usry’s DNA didn’t match the crime scene sample—despite the close familial markers and other circumstantial evidence, he wasn’t the murderer.

Usry was lucky. The forensic crime scene DNA sample came from semen and likely was single source (meaning it contained DNA from only one person). This means that it was relatively easy for the cops to compare Usry’s DNA against the forensic sample and determine conclusively the two didn’t match. In many cases today, however, forensic samples come instead from “touch” DNA—miniscule samples of DNA deposited on physical surfaces that people have touched. Touch DNA is less reliable and harder to match both because it may not include enough DNA for meaningful interpretation and because it often contains DNA from multiple persons—some of whom may have had no connection to the crime at all. With touch DNA, lab analysts may see a match where none exists. Just this year in San Francisco, the San Francisco Chronicle revealed a crime lab analyst had been making assumptions about poor-quality, incomplete genetic evidence and testified at trial that one of the profiles she generated matched the defendant, which was false. This analyst’s misconduct could affect as many as 1,400 cases. When touch DNA analysis expands to include familial markers, the risk of misidentification only increases.

This risk will increase further as state and local law enforcement agencies begin to use Rapid DNA analyzers—portable machines that can process DNA in less than an hour. These machines will make it much easier for police to collect and analyze DNA on their own outside a lab. Currently, because forensic DNA analysis in a lab takes so long, we generally see its use limited to high-level felonies like rape and murder. However, Rapid DNA manufacturers are now encouraging local police agencies to analyze DNA found at the scene of low-level property crimes. This means much more DNA will be collected and stored, often in under-regulated local DNA databases. And, because most of the forensic DNA found at property crime scenes is likely to be touch DNA—this only increases the risk that people will be implicated in crimes they didn’t commit.

Most states and the federal government don’t yet extract YSTR and mtDNA and so don’t store it in their criminal DNA databases. For this reason, even if one of your relatives already has DNA in a criminal database, the risk you would be implicated through familial searching is low. But if the cops can access private databases—especially private databases like Ancestry.com and 23 and Me that collect matrilineal and patrilineal markers—everyone’s risk increases.

This case highlights the extreme threats posed to privacy and civil liberties by familial DNA searches and by private, unregulated DNA databases. People should be able to learn about their ancestors and relatives and about possible risks for genetic diseases without fear that their data will be shared with the cops without their consent. However, Usry’s case shows that we can’t count on private companies’ internal policies to keep our private data safe, and we should think twice before sharing our genetic information with a third party.


          EFF to Supreme Court: The Fourth Amendment Covers DNA Collection        
New Brief Urges Justices to Protect Citizens from Warrantless Analysis of Genetic Material

San Francisco - People have a Fourth Amendment right to privacy when it comes to their genetic material, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) argues in an amicus brief filed this week with the Supreme Court of the United States.

EFF is asking the Supreme Court to hear arguments in Raynor v. State of Maryland, a case that examines whether police should be allowed to collect and analyze "inadvertently shed" DNA without a warrant or consent, such as swabbing cells from a drinking glass or a chair. EFF argues that genetic material contains a vast amount of personal information that should receive the full protection of the Constitution against unreasonable searches and seizures.

"As human beings, we shed hundreds of thousands of skin and hair cells daily, with each cell containing information about who we are, where we come from, and who we will be," EFF Senior Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch said. "The court must recognize that allowing police the limitless ability to collect and search genetic material will usher in a future where DNA may be collected from any person at any time, entered into and checked against DNA databases, and used to conduct pervasive surveillance."

Glenn Raynor's genetic material was collected and tested without his knowledge or consent after he agreed to an interview at a police station as part of a criminal investigation. The police didn't have probable cause to arrest Raynor, and he refused to provide a DNA sample. After he left the station, police swabbed the armrest of the chair where he had been sitting to collect his skin cells without his knowledge. The police then extracted a DNA profile from the cells and used it to connect him to the crime. The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that this collection was lawful, and Raynor petitioned the Supreme Court for review. EFF's brief supports Raynor's petition.

The sophistication and speed of DNA analysis technology is advancing exponentially as the costs of the technology drop. These advances, EFF argues, raise significant questions for privacy and civil liberties. DNA can reveal sensitive personal health information and can allow police to identify a person's relatives, turning family members into inadvertent "genetic informants" on each other. Some researchers have also postulated that DNA can determine race, sexual orientation, intelligence, and even political predispositions.

"Law enforcement should not be able to amass giant databases of genetic material they find lying around," EFF Senior Staff Attorney Hanni Fakhoury said. "The Supreme Court should review this case and consider it within the context of emerging technologies that could significantly affect the privacy rights of every American."

For EFF's amicus brief:

https://www.eff.org/document/amicus-brief-27

Contact:

Jennifer Lynch
   Senior Staff Attorney
   Electronic Frontier Foundation
   jlynch@eff.org


          Oral Argument on DNA Searches Provides Scary Glimpse Into the Future of Privacy        

The Supreme Court recently heard oral argument in Maryland v. King, a case considering the constitutionality of warrantless DNA collection from arrestees. We've long warned about the privacy problems with the rise of cheap, easy and fast blanket DNA collection, and filed an amicus brief with the Court urging it to hold the government can only obtain this sensitive genetic material with a search warrant. While it can be fruitless trying to read the tea leaves of oral argument, one specific idea--that technological advances making DNA analysis faster means warrantless collection may be OK--should leave you worried about the fate of privacy going forward in the digital age.

One of the main disagreements surrounding the issue of DNA collection is whether the state is collecting DNA from arrestees for immediate identification--to figure out if they've arrested the right person and learn who that person is for purposes of making a bail determination--or for past and future investigation--to solve cold cases and to store DNA for future searches. The state has long claimed they used DNA for both, while we've argued the government simply isn't able to use DNA collection for immediate identification purposes since there's currently a delay in analyzing DNA ranging from several days up to a few months. But with the rise of rapid DNA analyzers which can analyze DNA in 90 minutes, law enforcement is chomping at the bit to purchase and install these devices at police stations across the country. When the lawyer challenging the blanket DNA collection argued that law enforcement's interest in using DNA for immediate identification was simply not possible because of the lengthy delays in DNA analysis, Chief Justice Roberts interrupted to note (PDF):

Now, your brief says, well, the only interest here is the law enforcement interest. And I found that persuasive because of the concern that it's going to take months to get the DNA back anyway, so they are going to have to release him or not before they know it. But if we are in a position where it now takes 90 minutes or will soon take 90 minutes to get the information back, I think that's entirely different...

Other members of the court echoed this idea, hinting that if DNA analysis was done faster, then there could be a legitimate identification--as opposed to investigative--need for the practice. And if that was the case, then DNA collection was no different than fingerprinting, and the police could swab and collect DNA without a search warrant. This would be a dangerous Fourth Amendment precedent.

The reasonableness of a search under the Fourth Amendment has always depended on whether the search is reasonably related in scope to the circumstances that justify the search in the first place. But that determination shouldn't hinge on how long it takes to do the search, but rather what the search reveals. And with DNA searches, an enormous amount of sensitive information is being revealed to the government: a person's entire genome. Ignoring the breadth of this intrusion by focusing on the ease of collection--implicitly believing the easier it is to intrude into a private place, the less protected it is--elevates form over substance to the detriment of the right of privacy enshrined in the Fourth Amendment. 

This dangerous thinking extends beyond DNA collection. We've already warned about the problems with warrantless home video surveillance and stingrays, or fake cell phone towers which the government has been very secretive about. As technological advances like these allow the government to easily collect and catalog greater amounts of information, courts run the risk of allowing broader and more intrusive searches to pass Fourth Amendment scrutiny simply because of the possibility of exposure. Instead, courts should be focusing on the actual intrusion and people's expectation that private information will not be exposed, regardless of how technological advances can make government access easier or faster.

The fact the government can do something now it couldn't do before doesn't make it constitutional. In fact, it should be the opposite. As it becomes easier for the government to seize and analyze, institutional checks--like a search warrant--on the government's power is necessary to protect privacy before it becomes a casualty to technological advances. 


          Rapid DNA: Coming Soon to a Police Department or Immigration Office Near You        

In the amount of time it takes to get lunch, the government can now collect your DNA and extract a profile that identifies you and your family members.

Rapid DNA Analyzers—machines with the ability to process DNA in 90 minutes or less—are an operational reality and are being marketed to the federal government and state and local law enforcement agencies around the country. These machines, each about the size of a laser printer, are designed to be used in the field by non-scientists, and—if you believe the hype from manufacturers like IntegenX and NetBio—will soon “revolutionize the use of DNA by making it a routine identification and investigational tool.”

From documents we received recently from US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and DHS’s Science & Technology division, we’ve learned that the two agencies are working with outside venders NetBio, Lockheed Martin and IntegenX and have “earmarked substantial funds” to develop a Rapid DNA analyzer that can verify familial relationships for refugee and asylum applications for as little as $100.

In the refugee context—where people are often stranded in camps far from their homes with little access to the documentation needed to prove they should be granted asylum in the US—DNA identification could be useful for both the federal government and the asylum seeker.

However, DNA samples contain such sensitive, private and personal information that their indefinite storage and unlimited sharing create privacy risks far worse than other types of data. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stated in a 2008 Note titled DNA Testing to Establish Family Relationships in the Refugee Context that DNA testing “can have serious implications for the right to privacy and family unity” and should be used only as a “last resort.” The UNHCR also stated that, if DNA is collected, it “should not be used for any other purpose (for instance medical tests or criminal investigations) than the verification of family relationships” and that DNA associated with the test “should normally be destroyed once a decision has been made.”

It seems USCIS is not heeding the UNHCR’s recommendations; the documents show that USCIS wants to use Rapid DNA analysis for much broader purposes than just verifying refugee applications. The agency notes that DNA should be collected from all immigration applicants—possibly even infants—and then stored in the FBI’s criminal DNA database. The agency also supports sharing immigrant DNA with “local, state, tribal, international, and other federal partners” including the Department of Defense and Interpol on the off-chance the refugee or asylum seeker could be a criminal or terrorist or could commit a crime or act of terrorism in the future. This flow chart shows USCIS’s ideal DNA collection and sharing process.

USCIS is not alone in wanting to get the most out of DNA collection. Another document we received shows that the intelligence community and the military are interested in DNA analysis to reveal ethnicity, health status, age, and other factors. And while Rapid DNA analyzers are not currently set up to extract enough data to reveal this information, IntegenX representatives at the Biometrics Consortium Conference this past September said that setting up the machines to extract additional loci would not be difficult.

Some federal agencies interested in Rapid DNA may not be able to implement it widescale for some time. Currently USCIS “does not have the authority to require DNA testing, even when fraud is highly suspected.” For that to happen, the agency would have to update 8 C.F.R. 204.2(d)(vi),1  which it has discussed doing but hasn’t yet done. And although the FBI is also very interested in Rapid DNA analyzers, legal rules prevent the Bureau from using the machines to process any DNA that wil go into its CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) database.

This hasn’t stopped Rapid DNA manufacturers from aggressively marketing their products to state and local law enforcement agencies across the country. IntegenX and Lockhead Martin are both pushing local governments (pdf p.3) to create their own local DNA databases (p. 17, pdf here) instead of relying on CODIS. This has pluses and minuses—it means some chunk of the DNA collected by state or local cops may not end up in the FBI’s massive DNA database and become subject to repeated nationwide searching. However, it also means that cops may not follow the stringent DNA handling procedures currently required by the FBI2 and that, without oversight, collection procedures could become based on little or no real suspicion of criminal activity.

Whether the technology itself is accurate and appropriate to use for immigration populations may also be an issue. According to the documents, scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology are uncertain whether the “Likelihood Ratios”3 currently used by accredited labs would be applicable “to an immigration population, since the largest reference groups, whose characteristics feed into the calculations of the ratios, are American Caucasians and Hispanics.” DHS’s own Science & Technology Division noted at a January 4, 2011 Working Group meeting that it was concerned “that prototype equipment may not provide totally reliable results.” Science & Technology staff stated they could not “yet predict how accurate the non-match findings will be, since the error rate for the machines remains unknown.” This means that people could be excluded from refugee programs just because the machine determined—inaccurately—that their DNA did not match their family member’s DNA.

DHS and USCIS acknowledge that “DNA collection may create controversy.” One USCIS employee advocated for “DHS, with the help of expert public relation professionals,” to “launch a social conditioning campaign” to “dispel the myths and promote the benefits of DNA technology.” Another document feared that “If DHS fails to provide an adequate response to [inquiries about its Rapid DNA Test Program] quickly, civil rights/civil liberties organizations may attempt to shut down the test program."

However, the real issues with expanded DNA collection—and the issues these documents don’t answer—are whether DNA collection is really necessary to solve the challenges inherent in proving refugee entitlement to benefits; what standards and laws will govern expanded federal, state and local DNA collection and subsequent searches; how DNA will be collected, stored and secured; who will have access to it after it’s collected; and what processes are in place to destroy the DNA sample and delete data from whatever database it’s stored in after it’s served the limited purpose for which it was originally collected. Without answers to these questions, no amount of “social conditioning” can convince those concerned about privacy and civil liberties that expanded DNA collection is a good idea.


          Philbin, Philibin, Phillipsson, Phillips        
You probably know that all these names are based on Philip.
If you have had DNA analysis please consider joining (free) the Phillips DNA Project. It will be of much help to Phillips researchers. http://www.phillipsdnaproject.com/
          Dingoes; Australian Wolves (updated from an earlier post)        
I am away for a bit over two weeks and, instead of preparing new posts for that time, I have opted to update a couple of earlier posts, which are more than three and a half years old and which you may well have missed. I hope you find them interesting. This one first appeared in an earlier form on 25 June 2013. Back 'live' on Friday 18 August.

Most Australians would be bemused, to say the least, at the proposition that Australia is home to wolves, but detailed biochemical work, based on mitochondrial DNA analysis, has confirmed that the Australian Dingo is indeed Canis lupus (subspecies dingo), derived from a semi-domesticated wolf in Asia some 6000 years ago and brought here by Asian sailors not much more than 4000 years back. Even more recent work (2016) has muddied the waters a little by increasing the margin of error so that their arrival could have been somewhat earlier than that. It seems certain that they were never in Tasmania (for instance on the mainland Thylacines, Tasmanian Devils and Tasmanian Native Hens did not long survive their apparent arrival), so the earliest they could have arrived would have been 12,000 years ago, when Tasmania ceased to joined to the mainland. However, I think it is telling that the oldest known Dingo bone remains - too young to have fossilised - are less than 3,500 years old (from the Nullarbor Plains cave system).
Dingo near Windorah, south-west Queensland.
This is a classic 'pure bred' Dingo but in truth there would be very few Dingoes without domestic dog genes today.
It might seem intuitive that indigenous Australians would have brought Dingoes here but, having arrived some 50,000 - 60,000 years ago, there is no evidence that the first Australians travelled back and forward from Australia to Asia, and no reason for them to have done so. If the Dingoes didn't arrive until recently, as the DNA is telling us, they must have either come with a late wave of settlers, who seem not to have existed, or with seagoing traders who regularly visited the north-western coasts in particular. The latter proposal is strengthened by close genetic ties of Dingoes with Taiwanese village dogs.

There have been suggestions by some, who really want the Dingo to have been here longer than that, that a painting of a Thylacine at Ubirr in Kakadu National Park in the Top End of the Northern Territory is actually a Dingo, but apart from the general body shape and posture, it even shows stripes on the hindquarters. (I was there last year, but frustratingly failed to notice it on the wonderful galleries, so have had to rely on Wikipedia for this image!) I have had it suggested to me that the 'Dingo' picture is 28,000 years old, but I can't find evidence for that; the issue however is moot.
Ubirr Thylacine; even though it certainly doesn't resemble a Dingo, it's a remarkable
snapshot of a then-living animal which was probably driven to extinction by the Dingo.
Courtesy Wikipedia.
So, are Dingoes native or feral Australians? I've struggled with this somewhat philosophical one for a long time, but of course there are no rules as to when an animal becomes 'native'; my own feeling is that 4000 years is probably too short a time for everything to have fully settled into a new balance, but plenty would disagree. The extinction on mainland Australia of Thylacines and Tasmanian Devils - marsupial carnivores which the Dingo would have competed with and quite possibly hunted - took place since the Dingo's arrival. The timing is too close to be coincidental, as is the fact that both these big native carnivores thrived in Dingo-free Tasmania - isolated 8000 years ago at the end of the last glaciation, before Dingoes arrived - at least until European settlement.
Tasmanian Devil Sarchophilus harrisii, Adelaide Zoo;
they didn't survive the advent of Dingoes on the Australian mainland.
Their rapid spread throughout the continent was doubtless assisted by Aboriginal Australians, who regularly domesticated young Dingoes as hunting and camp companions. Dingoes readily adapt to human presence when not persecuted.

Bold, intelligent and inquisitive, Dingoes have learnt to scavenge around campgrounds,
though they are regularly shot around homesteads and stockyards.
Redbank Gorge campground, Western MacDonnell Ranges, central Australia.
A recent experience of our own with a Dingo was not a happy one. Camped at beautiful Redbank Gorge in the West MacDonnells, we returned from a long walk to find that a Dingo had torn holes in our tent and ransacked sealed containers looking for food; it wasn't smelling anything, as all our fresh food was locked away in a gas fridge, and the rest was in screw top plastic containers which it bit into. I emphasise that this was a most atypical situation; in my long experience of Australian bush camping, the only animals I've known attempt forced entry to a tent are goannas, or (exotic) mice and (native) rats, when they are experiencing a population boom. (Though I'm told that in Tasmania Brush-tailed Possums and even Tassie Devils can be a camping challenge on busy walking routes.) The problem here was previous campers who'd ignored ubiquitous warnings (and common sense!) and indulged themselves by feeding this Dingo, and leaving before the consequences came to bite them. 
Dingo on beach, Fraser Island, Queensland.
This is an area where visitor numbers and Dingo numbers are both high, and problems have arisen, again generally originating with irresponsible visitors (generally not the ones who eventually suffer!).
Once found throughout the mainland, Dingoes have largely retreated from the populous south-eastern corner, where their appreciation of sheep flocks was not reciprocated. Elsewhere despite constant and ferocious programs of shooting, trapping and poisoning they are still common. It is not uncommon to see Dingoes - mostly individuals or pairs - trotting near roads in remote areas, and to hear them howling at night, as the packs stay in contact and gather to hunt.

In Alice Springs they have become emboldened in recent times, having been driven into town by the drought of the first decade of this century. At the Telegraph Station Reserve on the northern edge of the suburbs there are now signs warning people to keep dogs under close supervision; a friend of ours had a pet killed by Dingoes there while she was present. This is no-one's 'fault', it's just what can happen when efficient predators are forced into close association with human habitation.
Dingo observing us - with no trace of apprehension on her part - at the
Alice Springs Telegraph Station Reserve.
Astonishingly, in the 1880s a 5600km dog-proof fence was built to isolate the south-eastern sheep lands from the Dingo 'bad lands' to the north and west.
Dingo-proof fence, courtesy Wikipedia.
The indicative distribution of 'pure' and 'hybrid' Dingoes is overly simplistic.
It is still maintained, though in large areas feral camels are defeating the efforts. To a large extent it still determines the boundary between sheep and cattle country in the Australian rangelands.

As pack animals hunting prey larger than themselves, Dingoes now fill the niche occupied by wolves (unsurprisingly!) in Eurasia and North America, and Cape Hunting Dogs in Africa. Their main large prey is various kangaroo species, and wombats in the south-east, though almost any smaller animal can be taken. They are probably important regulators of kangaroo populations, and seem to play a role in controlling rabbit and fox numbers where Dingo populations are healthy.

To my surprise, I've found myself coming to the view that, even though the Dingo is a recent arrival, it does play the role of top mammalian predator in the absence of the original ones, and should probably be permitted to do so to assist in control of excessive numbers of kangaroos and some pest species. I don't expect this view to meet universal acclaim however, although some graziers are coming to this view too; to date however they are still in a minority.

Regardless, this is a beautiful animal, now an integral part of the Australian landscape, doing what it does very well indeed. 

Dingo, Luritja Road, central Australia.
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          Ratites; the ancients of the bird world. #2 The case of the flying moas        
In introducing the wonderful and venerable ratites last time I made mention of another group of relatively little-known birds, the tinamous, long described as a 'sister group' of the ratites. There are 47 species of them in South, Central and North America, as far north as about central Mexico. Like the ratites they are Palaeognaths, forming with them an entirely different group of  birds, the 'ancient palates'. They fly poorly but can still do so and, unlike the ratites, thus retain the keel on the breast for anchoring the mighty flight muscles. They also differ from the ratites in having powder down feathers - amazing feathers which are never moulted, but which crumble at the tip to provide a permanent supply of conditioning powder (sort of like home-made talc) for cleaning and generally improving the feathers. For these reasons it has always been assumed that they separated from the ratites early in the piece, but travelled with the rheas when South America broke free of Gondwana. This means too that they couldn't actually be ratites, because that would imply that they had a common flightless ancestor with the rheas and regained flight in South America - such a reversal of all the acquired adaptations to a flightless lifestyle is universally regarded as an evolutionary impossibility.

Tinamous are notoriously shy, and to date I've only seen three species - all rainforest birds - two of them at one sitting, courtesy of the wonderful Aguas Verdes initiative in northern Peru, where forest birds are lured to a hide by offerings of corn. As a result the forest has been spared from conversion to coffee, and other landowners are taking interest; more on this story here. 
Cinereous Tinamou Crypturellus cinereus, Aguas Verdes, lower eastern Andes slopes, northern Peru.
This shows typical tinamou characteristics - strong running legs, and virtual lack of a tail,
which is associated with their reluctance to fly, and general lack of competence at it.
This is a medium-sized tinamou, weighing about half a kilogram.
The Little Tinamou Crypturellus soui is indeed one of the smaller tinamous,
weighing only 200-250 grams.
Tinamous, as I mentioned, are very hard to see normally, and this cryptic behaviour has saved them to some extent from dramatic losses suffered by other largish edible birds in their range. Nonetheless hunting pressures can be severe, along with steady habitat loss.
Great Tinamou Tinamus major at roost, Napo Lodge, Ecuadorian Amazonia.
This is a species that is facing problems, having been recently listed as Near Threatened.
It is a big tinamou, weighing well over a kilogram.
OK, you've been very patient - if indeed you're still reading! - while I go on about a group of birds that aren't really ratites. However, that's only what we used to think... I've been at some pains to introduce them because new understandings about them have changed pretty much everything we now think about ratites too. The nice neat story about ratites representing the archetypal Gondwanan story - an ancient group which inhabited all the southern lands before they parted ways, and drifted with the new continents to their new positions, was very appealing and was one I've told, in all good faith, many times over the years.

There have been some mutterings over the years along the lines of "OK, they're old, but not quite that old!". The mutterers had some good points - for instance Africa broke free of Gondwana by at least 110 million years ago. Madagascar was isolated by 88 million years ago – but from India rather than Africa! But still, how else could we explain what we see? Then in 2010 a paper was published by a group of Australian and New Zealand scientists which turned this particular comfortable understanding of the world inside out. They had available to them techniques denied to earlier researchers, including the ability to do a complete mitochondrial DNA analysis (mitochondria contain far less DNA than do cell nuclei, and this DNA seems to evolve more quickly than does that of the nucleus so tells good stories) and to look at such material from fossils.

The technique has rapidly become widely used to study a range of animal groups, comparing species to determine when their Most Recent Common Ancestor walked the earth ('MRCA' appears all over the place now). Phillips et al shocked us all by announcing that far from being associates of the ratites, tinamous are slap bang in the middle of them - they are ratites for any practical purposes. One existing hint (isn't hindsight wonderful?!) might have been that tinamous, like most other ratites, breed most unconventionally - a male waits to be visited by groups of roaming females who mate with him and lay their eggs into his nest, then move on and find another obliging dad for their eggs. (There are a few tinamou variations, but this is the norm.) It is generally regarded as a very efficient way of rapidly increasing populations.
Darwin's Rhea father and chicks - who between them have many mums - Torres del Paine NP, Chilean Patagonia.
From the conventional viewpoint however it gets worse - the closest relative of tinamous are not the obvious rheas, but the New Zealand moas! Moreover the same study showed that Ostriches and the recently extinct Madagascan elephant birds are not each other's closest relations, as logic would insist, but the elephant birds and kiwis are closer to each other than they are to anyone else... Ostriches are way out on the ratite fringes - and may have even arisen in Eurasia, arriving in Africa only some 23 million years ago.

The only way to make any kind of sense out of all this is to accept the seemingly preposterous idea that the ancestral ratites flew to their current continents, then all (except for the tinamous) subsequently lost the power of flight. Kiwis and emus/cassowaries parted ways only 60 million years ago - but by then New Zealand had been isolated for 20 million years. Moas and tinamous separated at about the same time.

It's a difficult concept to absorb. I've always been a firm believer in the parsimony principle – ie that the simplest evidence-based explanation is always likely to be the correct one. The more evolutionary steps that are required to explain something, the less likely it is that it happened that way. But once we accept, however reluctantly, all this explosive material, how on earth are we - or at least the researchers - supposed to explain such a bizarrely unlikely set of circumstances? What could possibly have happened right across the Southern Hemisphere to have triggered a series of wildly unlikely parallel events at about the same time?

Well, of course something did. Around 65 million years ago, already a time of colossal volcanic activity, a massive meteorite, an asteroid some 10km across, smashed into what is now the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, hurling vast quantities of dust and smoke into the atmosphere and dropping temperatures cataclysmically. Sulphates hurled into the air formed nucleation sites for brutal acid rain storms. Once the dust particles settled the huge quantities of carbon dioxide released raised worldwide temperatures for centuries. By the time things had started to settle down again, three quarters of all plant and animal species on earth had vanished, including all the dinosaurs (other than some of the birds of course). 
Southern Cassowaries, Etty Bay, North Queensland.
Their small flying ancestors survived the great meteorite strike.
It was an empty landscape, full of menace and opportunities. Among the now-empty niches was that formerly occupied by the birds' immediate ancestors, the erect running dromaeosours. We know that birds, especially on islands, are prone to give up the enormously energy-demanding flight habit when there is no longer a pressing need for it. So, it is not at all hard to conceive that members of a particular group of bird survivors, with the genes of the dromaeosaurs still within them, should have responded to landscapes suddenly largely devoid of predators and full of options, by giving up flight that had carried their ancestors across the oceans. Later they also grew larger in response to such predators that did eventually arise.
Darwin's Rhea chicks, Patagonia.
Their ancestors flew to South America, arriving quite separately from the (apparently later) tinamous.
An unlikely story, but the only one that fits the facts - and the job of science, and indeed of common sense, is to find theories to fit the facts, rather than deny the facts to fit a theory.

And doesn't it make a good story?!

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          A bit of sage: RSBC 2013 Week 3 Challenge        
Monday! A sure sign that another week has wandered by, perhaps aimlessly, perhaps with purpose. It also means we're at the half-way mark of RSBC 2013, the point when one starts to pick and choose what parts of the challenge they're going to actually finish. This year, I'm leaving the swimming out, due to a lack of swimming pool access that falls within my February budget (blissfully spent on a whirlwind weekend with the little brother in town).

When Lizzie and I discussed this year's series of culinary challenges, we decided to dig deep for our superfoods, looking back to past trends and ways of eating to inform our current approach. Some of this is influenced by my own maturing views on food: As a biological scientist, I love seeing the newest bits of research that investigate how consuming this or that exotic food might improve ones health (I probably have a bit of a bioprospector hiding in me somewhere); as a social scientist who dabbles in history, I can't help but recognize the bits of faddism and colonialism that often creep into these Latest! Greatest! discoveries. Yet in some, even many cases, the superfoods of tomorrow and yesterday share one key similarity: an indication that consuming these foods has an effect on the body.

Those effects may be good or bad. They may be measured by people in labs via blood samples and DNA analysis, or they may be anecdotal evidence of one or many people noting that consumption of this herb or that plant changes how they feel.

Which brings us to the secret culinary ingredient for week three of Run Swim Bike Cook 2013: fresh sage.

I picked sage because a good friend of mine recently found herself craving sage. She didn't know why, but it was the one thing that called out to her, it's pine-scented hit in the mouth, the fuzzy texture on the tongue, the calm that followed munching on a leaf in the autumn afternoon. Intrigued, I began occasionally munching on the herb myself. My challenge to you culinary alchemists is to incorporate sage two ways. Pick a meal or food-consumption moment (breakfast, snack, lunch, dinner, dessert), and bring fresh sage into it in two forms. This could be as simple as having sage show up in two different dishes, or in making sage vinaigrette drizzled over a salad with freshly chopped sage as a garnish, or a beautiful caramel cake with sage brown butter and caramelized sage leaves on top. Your meal, your fun. As a reminder, drop me an email at christy DOT spackman AT gmail DOT com by Tuesday next with a link to your post.
          Exercise, Anxiety, and Depression        
Institutional Affiliation Exercise, Anxiety, and Depression
Over the years, exercise has been linked to improved moods of patients specifically anxiety and depression.  There are models developed to explain how exercise improves peoples mood.  Physiologic changes thought to be brought about by exercise are explained in the hyperthermic model and the endorphin hypothesis.  Improved moods caused by changes in the psychological state after exercise are also illustrated in models that discuss self esteem and mastery explanations and the distraction hypothesis (Daley, 2002).

Many researchers have dedicated their time and effort to finding evidences to support the thesis that exercise reduces anxiety and depression.  The type of exercise that research studies correlate with the reduction of depression and anxiety symptoms involves the use of the bodys muscular strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular endurance (Stuart  Laraia, 2005).  Providing sufficient empirical proof to this thesis will significantly benefit stakeholders of the healthcare system.  Not only will it lower the costs of treating mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, but it will also contribute to the research and development of nonpharmacologic interventions used to treat these problems.  As such, this paper aims to provide a systematic review of literature supporting the thesis that there is a relationship between exercise and a resulting reduction in anxiety and depression.

Review of Literature and Discussion
In a fact sheet released by the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC, n.d.), they discussed how exercise leads to improvements in a persons mood and development of a sense of well-being.  They provided information based on researches on how exercise makes anxious people feel relaxed.

Supporting details include statements that both single sessions and regular exercise reduce anxiety.  Furthermore, exercise was shown to have greater beneficial effects in people clinically diagnosed with anxiety disorders.  They also provided statements that summarize research results suggesting that exercise reduces depression.  Researches showed that both aerobic and anaerobic exercises pull out a person from a depressed mood.  Likewise, exercise is shown to have an antidepressant effect on patients diagnosed with depression (UCSC, n.d.).

In a research article by Hamer, Stamatakis, and Steptoe (2009), they concluded that engaging in any physical activity for at least 20 minutes per week results in lesser risk of having pyschological distress.  In this research, they surveyed 19,842 men and women who came from the Scottish Health Survey as participants.  They measured the psychological distress of the participants through the use of the General Health Questionnaire wherein a score of 4 or more indicates psychological distress.  Measure of physical activity per week was obtained through logistic regression model calculations.  Based on their results, it was suggested that higher levels of physical activity will result in higher reduction of psychological distress (Hamer et al., 2009).

A similar study conducted by a group of doctors revealed that aerobic exercise at a dose consistent with public health recommendations is an effective treatment for MDD major depressive disorder of mild to moderate severity and a lower dose is comparable to placebo effect (Dunn, Trivedi, Kampert, Clark,  Chambliss, 2005, p. 1).  One of the four randomized groups in this study was exposed to an aerobic exercise treatment plan which used the recommended standard for physical activity while others were exposed to either a lower exercise regimen or placebo control.  Outcomes were measured through scores generated from the 17- item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (Dunn et al., 2005).

Numerous research studies provide data that compare the anxiety levels and depressed state of an exercise group and a no-treatment control group.  Their data suggest that the exercise groups have less anxiety and depression than the control groups.  In this line, a recent study used control and experiment groups to identify effectiveness of exercise in reducing depressive symptoms of participants aged 18 to 23 years old.  In order to compare the difference of results between groups, they used a pre-testpost-test method wherein the participants answered the Beck Depression Inventory before and after the 5-week exercise regimen.  In addition to this, they obtained saliva samples for DNA analysis.  Based on their results, it was suggested that the mechanism with which exercise produces reduction in symptoms of depression is likened to the effects of selective serotonin uptake inhibitors, a type of a pharmacologic antidepressant.  This strengthens the idea that exercise should be legitimately used for the treatment of depression (Rethorst, Landers, Nagoshi,  Ross, 2009).

In another research study, participants with symptoms of anxiety were engaged in a 2- week exercise treatment plan where outcomes were assessed prior, during, and after the exercise regimen.  Results showed that exercise reduced anxiety sensitivity which leads to alleviation of the depressed and anxious mood (Smits et al., 2008).

Some research studies also employed methods of self-report from participants regarding their physical activity and mental health through the use of questionnaires.  In a study conducted by De Moor, Beem, Stubb, Boomsma, and De Geus (2006) among families with adolescent and adult twins in Netherlands, their research findings concluded that regular exercise is associated with lower neuroticism, anxiety and depression and higher extraversion and sensation seeking in the population (p. 273).

In a prospective research study, it was concluded that there is a two-way relationship between exercise and depression.  This indicates that higher levels of physical activity reduce depression while depression reduces levels of physical activity in the future.  This implies that interventions should be directed at increasing physical activity among populations that are most at risk of developing depressive symptoms (Jerstad, Boutelle, Ness,  Stice, 2010).  A prospective research study may not be as good as a randomized clinical trial, but its yielded results are still reliable.  However, one possible limitation of this study is that participant responses may have been affected since the study was conducted over a long period of time.  Events that may affect any aspect of a persons life may also affect their response in the study such as pregnancy, death, etc.

There are also a number of research studies dedicated in providing support to the thesis by employing a method of review analysis of research articles.  In line with this, a group of researchers did a systematic review of 40 scholarly journal articles (1995- 2007) about the sedentary lifestyle of chronically ill patients.  Meta- regression analysis was employed and it was concluded that exercise reduces the symptoms of anxiety in chronically- ill patients who live a sedentary lifestyle (Herring, OConnor,  Dishman, 2010).

Another systematic review of related research articles was conducted in 2007 and 2008 which concluded that exercise reduces symptoms in clients with depression.  The group reviewed research articles which contained randomized clinical trials that observed effects of exercise on experiment and controlplacebo group.  They also suggested that more systematic reviews should be conducted to determine effect of exercise in people who manifest depression but are not clinically diagnosed with depression (Mead et al., 2008).

A Polish research article discussed meta-analyses of both experimental and correlational studies that showed reductions in anxiety and depression in both healthy and clinical patients after aerobic exercises are performed in a specific period of time.  It explained that this effect of exercise in the alleviation of moods is associated with the theories relating physiologic releases of endorphins and monoamines (Guszkowska, 2004).

Summary and Critique
There are available recent evidences that can best support the thesis that there is a connection between exercise and a resulting reduction in anxiety and depression.  The availability of methodologically sound researches and high-level evidence-based studies indicates that there are strong and reliable bases for the thesis.  This also supports the idea that research and evidence aid in the implementation of new innovative techniques in treating health problems, in this case, exercise for the reduction of anxiety and depression.

The strength of the research studies discussed is its quality of evidence base.  Two of the first five research studies cited are randomized clinical trials while the other two are quasi-experiments.  In the hierarchy of evidence-based studies, randomized clinical trials and quasi-experiments are high up in the evidence pyramid (SUNY Downstate Medical Center, 2004).  This indicates that empirical proofs to this thesis are highly recommended evidence bases.  It is commendable that their methods involved field-testing of exercise and the pretest-posttest assessment of the mental health status of the participants.  In comparison to merely asking or surveying people regarding their physical activity, engaging the participants in an actual exercise program is a better way of finding out the results.

The actual field-testing of the exercise variable increases the likelihood that people will believe the results of the research.  People learn more from lived experience rather than just theoretical learning, for example, books or journals.  Ideally, the target audience of these studies is the general population who need to be encouraged to include exercise in their daily routine because it helps reduce anxiety and depression.  Hence, studies should be able to communicate this with the larger population who do not understand scientific jargons and tend to only believe what they see or what they can relate with.  In this case, people who can testify that they actually engaged in an exercise program that resulted in their improved mood are something that the general population can relate with.  Therefore, it is easier to convince people that the health action can really lead to improved health outcomes.

The significance of a study justifies that a study is ethical to conduct.  It can be assumed that the significance of these studies focus on proving that exercise can reduce anxiety and depression for both healthy and ill people to the alleviate the conditions.  In effect, the idea of exercise as a health promoting activity to prevent anxiety and depression was also addressed in these research studies.  This is a good outcome of the researches because at present, efforts are pushed toward health promotion and disease prevention instead of waiting for the disease before treating it.  Though there are still arguments and conflicts among researchers about the legitimacy of exercise in reducing anxiety and depression, this new theory about exercise already encourages people in engaging in a healthy habit.

Based on the studies discussed, one common potential limitation of these research studies is patient-response bias in answering the self-report questionnaires used to assess the mental health status of the participants.  This is due to the possibility that patients may not truly reflect their personality or behaviors in the questionnaires.  They may choose an answer that reflects what they want themselves to be or to do rather than what they are doing in reality.  Nevertheless, it must be remembered that these tools are valid and has high sensitivity to screening depression (Lincoln, Nicholl, Flannanghan, 2003).  Hence, this limitation is only part and partial of the overall studies.

Another potential limitation is the representativeness of the number of samples used in these research studies.  Getting a large number of participants in a research study is very difficult.  Hence, most research studies use a small number of samples to generate data from.  This makes it difficult to apply to the general population the conclusions drawn from the studies.  This is one possible aspect in researches that needs improvement.  In order to have legitimate and reliable claims, data should not only produce good statistical data regarding the variables involved but also present a large proportion of the population to whom the study was conducted.

Some of the research evidences also mentioned include systematic reviews and meta-analyses.  These are ways to determine the quality use of the best current evidence and these two are the topmost in the evidence pyramid (SUNY Downstate Medical Center, 2004).  It is good to know that recent systematic reviews suggested and supported the thesis that exercise reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression.  This strengthens the stance that there is an existing relationship between exercise and a resulting improved mood.  This is also an indicator that previous researches provide sufficient support to this thesis.  However, a possible limitation that should be considered here is selection bias of research articles included in the systematic review.  It is best to increase the number of researches reviewed in proportion to all recent research articles published regarding this thesis in order to eliminate selection bias.

The researches discussed contribute in building a more convincing assertion for the thesis.  They may have their own scope and limitations but a combination of previous and recent researches lead to a stronger foundation for theories that are not yet scientifically proven.
          Forensics: The “Head & Shoulders” Case        

The evolution of forensic science is turning hopelessly unsolvable cold cases into convictions.

by Liz Porter

British armed robber Andrew Pearson probably never imagined he’d end up as the star of an anti-dandruff advertisement. He also probably never dreamed he’d get caught for the 1993 holdup in which he and two accomplices stole £38,000 from a caravan company in the Yorkshire city of Hull. After all, the masked and armed trio left an impressively clean crime scene behind them.

All that the police found afterwards was a stolen Vauxhall Cavalier, abandoned near the scene. Inside it were a few fingerprints, none of which produced a match to any prints already on file, and one small segment of black stocking – discarded, investigators assumed, after one of the robbers had used it as a mask. How could Pearson ever have thought that, 11 years on, DNA analysis of specks of dandruff on this mask would lead police straight to his door and earn him a 15-year prison sentence?


          Circles Analysis        
I linked a cousin's DNA results to my tree (she shared to me as a Collaborator) on Friday. She had shown up as my 2nd cousin in my DNA matches just after her initial results were posted, well before she shared access with me. However, three days after I linked her into my tree she is showing no Circles, which surprises me as she should be clearly matched with at least a third of my Circles. Does anyone know how long it takes for Ancestry to run this analysis on a DNA analysis after it's been linked to a tree?
          Science Students Rank Top 5 in National Competition        

Congratulations to Tanmay Srinivasan '20 and Ayush Krishnamoorti '20 for being two finalists in The Genes in SpaceTM science contest. Among the top five finalists in the annual U.S. competition, 375 teams from grades seven through 12 proposed DNA analysis experiments to address real-life space exploration challenges. The winning experiment will be performed aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Scientists at Harvard University and MIT will mentor the five finalist teams. Teams will present their proposals to a panel of scientists and educators at the 2017 ISS Research and Development Conference in Washington, D.C., July 17-20. The winning team will be announced at the conclusion of the conference.

Great work Tanmay and Ayush!


           Gellin (PDF, 372 kb)        
Grades 9-12

Focus: DNA analysis

In this activity, students will explain and carry out a simple process for separating DNA from tissue samples, explain and carry out a simple process for separating complex mixtures, and explain the process of restriction enzyme analysis.


          Fate of Ancient Canaanites Seen in DNA Analysis: They Survived        
A study of ancient DNA recovered from remains found in Lebanon contradicts a biblical story that an ancient war wiped out the group.
          National Best Practices for Sexual Assault Kits: A Multidisciplinary Approach        

In August of 2017, the Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice (NIJ) released a report on National Best Practices for Sexual Assault Kits: A Multidisciplinary Approach. In 2013, the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Report Act (SAFER Act) was passed into law amending the DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination Act of 2000 to provide funds for grants to be administered to laboratories to address the critical need of eliminating the backlog of sexual assault kits, the law requires an establishment of protocols and practices.

In consultation with Federal, State and local law enforcement agencies, and government laboratories, the Department was required to develop and publish a description of protocols and practices to ensure accurate, timely, and effective collection and processing of DNA evidence, including practices specific to sexual assault cases. To that end, NIJ created the SAFER Working Group, which convened to develop protocols and practices to positively improve sexual assault responses and the experiences of victims.

This report, requested by congress, provides 35 of those recommended practices and protocols. For more information on the 35 recommendations and the report, please visit: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/250384.pdf


          The Bioarchaeology of Classical Kamarina: Life and Death in Greek Sicily        
121.3

By Carrie L. Sulosky Weaver (Bioarchaeological Interpretations of the Human Past: Local, Regional, and Global Perspectives). Pp. xxv + 336. University of Florida Press, Gainesville 2015. $84.95. ISBN 978-0-8130-6112-2 (cloth).

Reviewed by

The driving force behind Sulosky Weaver’s study of a cemetery at Kamarina on the southern coast of Sicily is familiar to anyone who works with skeletons in the classical world: a desire to unite the often disparate scholarly traditions of classics and anthropology. This book therefore ranges from ancient Greek eschatology to archaeological theories of burial, and from pots to people, in an attempt to draw together several lines of evidence to contribute to a deeper understanding of the biology, culture, and ritual of a fifth- to third-century B.C.E. necropolis.

Chapters 1 and 2, as well as the introduction, situate Kamarina and its burials in time and space. Historically, Kamarina is known to have been destroyed and refounded several times in the Archaic and Classical periods. Its archaeological history parallels this, the city having been plundered in the 17th century, first excavated in the 19th, and the subject of numerous excavations in the 20th. Six different necropoleis dot the city: Passo Marinaro with 2,905 graves, Rifriscolaro with about 2,500 graves, Piombo with 94, and three additional cemeteries that remain unpublished. The subject of Sulosky Weaver’s study is a sample from Passo Marinaro—namely, 258 of the 1,007 inhumation burials that were excavated from that Classical-era cemetery in the early 1980s. Nearly three-quarters of the 272 skeletons in this burial sample are less than 25% complete; the fragmentary nature of the remains poses a challenge that the author admirably takes on.

Chapter 3 deals with the demographics of the human remains. While it is reasonably straightforward to assess age at death and sex from complete skeletons, given the incomplete nature of this sample even two DNA analyses failed to determine the sex. Age-at-death estimates revealed a large number of young adults aged 20 to 35, which Sulosky Weaver interprets as a catastrophic mortality profile. Several comparative sites, however, which the author lists in data tables made freely available through an online repository (http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/20650/), also show a high frequency of young adult skeletons and were considered by other researchers to be normal. Additionally, the Passo Marinaro sample is less than one-tenth the entire cemetery; the possibility that this is a biased sample is raised but never fully discussed. In an effort to understand geographic origins, the author carried out a small nonmetric cranial trait analysis and investigated a few dental nonmetric traits as well. The former employs statistical methods to group Passo Marinaro with a Greek, rather than a Sicilian, population, and mtDNA analysis of two individuals suggests H and I haplogroups or European ancestry. Sulosky Weaver attempts to push the ancestry data further, employing cranial morphology to identify two individuals with sub-Saharan African traits. The photographs of these remains, and all other skeletal remains in the book, are of insufficiently high resolution, and the skulls themselves are of such a fragmentary nature, that these observations are difficult to assess independently.

Chapter 4 offers a reconstruction of the health and disease patterns in the sample from the Passo Marinaro necropolis. In any bioarchaeological analysis, understanding morbidity and mortality in a nonstationary population is difficult. The fragmentary nature of this sample and, apparently, an inability to use X-rays or destructive analysis on the remains mean that Sulosky Weaver is further limited in the kinds of pathologies she can identify. Yet she begins the chapter with information on a historical plague that affected Kamarina in 405 B.C.E. then suggests that it might have been epidemic malaria, outlines the lesions that would be expected in that case, notes the lack of that evidence in the skeletal sample, and concludes that “further excavation and osteological research is necessary to provide proof of the plague’s existence” (126). A similar tack is taken as she attempts to interpret an abnormality as pituitary dwarfism. After noting that “the features that would positively confirm this condition are non-extant” (149), she goes on to say that “the presence of a dwarf in the Passo Marinaro necropolis indicates at the very least that dwarfs lived in Classical Sicily” (153). Conversely, dental disease is underinterpreted, as without a clear hypothesis about diet, hygiene, or similar research question, the statistical significance in the frequencies has little meaning. Whether by design or not, this chapter unfortunately reads as a historical recounting of disease to which osteological data are made to conform.

Chapters 5–7 concern material culture and evidence of ritual treatment in the burials at Passo Marinaro. Examining grave goods, the author ably discusses the forms these take and links their presence with meaning inferred from archaeological and historical records. Ritual treatment of the body in these inhumations appears relatively consistent, with the exception of a couple of deviant burials in which the deceased was covered with heavy stones. Using cluster analysis, Sulosky Weaver plumbs the data for potential associations between burial variables that could indicate a specific identity. Although she does not find any clear patterns, her prudence in using statistics speaks to an attempt to move beyond simple presence/absence data. Nevertheless, the resulting cluster graphs are not presented in the monograph, nor are they available in the online data repository, as the “agglomeration chart and dendrogram produced by the cluster analysis are too large to be reproduced” (271).

Despite the highly fragmentary nature of the Passo Marinaro skeletons, Sulosky Weaver attempts to wring as much information from them as possible to add to our understanding of Greek Sicily during the Classical period. She uses biological, archaeological, and historical data to contextualize and situate Kamarina, which in itself is a laudable feat, but many of her interpretations overreach the data as presented. One of the reasons, however, that it is possible to critique the author’s work is her willingness to place all her data files, including her statistical tests and individual data sheets, in a freely accessible online repository. Opening up one’s data in this way is still not the norm in archaeology, but Sulosky Weaver clearly finds it necessary in order to advance bioarchaeological research in the classical world in the 21st century, and that is commendable. This book will likely be of greater interest to classicists than to anthropologists, but the author does accomplish her goal of bringing these fields closer together with her analysis of the Passo Marinaro skeletal sample from classical Kamarina.

Kristina Killgrove
Department of Anthropology
University of West Florida
killgrove@uwf.edu 

Book Review of The Bioarchaeology of Classical Kamarina: Life and Death in Greek Sicily, by Carrie L. Sulosky Weaver

Reviewed by Kristina Killgrove

American Journal of Archaeology Vol. 121, No. 3 (July 2017)

Published online at www.ajaonline.org/book-review/3495

DOI: 10.3764/ajaonline1213.Killgrove

1

           Forensic DNA analysis for animal protection and biodiversity conservation: A review         
Iyengar, Arati (2014) Forensic DNA analysis for animal protection and biodiversity conservation: A review. Journal for Nature Conservation, 22 (3). pp. 195-205. ISSN 16171381
           Use of non-human DNA analysis in forensic science: a mini review         
Iyengar, Arati and Hadi, Ss (2014) Use of non-human DNA analysis in forensic science: a mini review. Medicine, Science and the Law, 54 (1). pp. 41-50. ISSN 0025-8024
          The RootsMagic Daily Giveaway at RootsTech 2017        
The following is from RootsMagic.



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          Following the Birds that Follow the Ants        
DNA analysis sheds light on evolution of this unique behavior
          Mitochondrial and ribosomal DNA analysis for identification of sibling species of the mosquito, Anopheles quadrimaculatus (Say)        
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          Comment on DNA Solves the 80-Year-Old Death of Belgium’s King Albert I by nancy        
Interesting they tested against relatives. I'm wondering if you take DNA from the skin of a dead person's fingernails, can forensics determine that it is not her skin but the skin of a family member? Or is DNA analysis not that specific. If anyone knows, I'd appreciate the information.
          Basque DNA Analysis Shows They Were Isolated a Long Time        
That the Basque people are a bit special in Europe was already well known. The Basque are the inhabitants of a region in southwest France and northern Spain. They have a language (Euskara) that is difficult to link to other known … Continue reading
          Tibetan Terrier        
The Tibetan Terrier is not a member of the terrier group, the name being given to it by European travelers to Tibet who were reminded of terriers from back home when they first encountered the breed. Its origins are uncertain: Some sources claim them to be lucky temple dogs, whereas others place them as s.

The Tibetan Terrier is a dog with many uses, able to , , and also be a suitable companion dog. Their utility in Tibet meant that the first examples of the breed available in the west were generally given as gifts, as the Tibetan Terrier, along with other Tibetan breeds, were too valuable to the people who owned them to casually sell. As such, the early history of the breed is linked to only a handful of dogs.

The Tibetan name for the breed, Tsang Apso, roughly translates to "shaggy or bearded dog, from the province of Tsang". Some old travelers' accounts give the name "Dokhi Apso," or "outdoor" Apso, indicating a working dog which lives outdoors. Other "Apso" dogs from Tibet include the smaller and more familiar Lhasa Apso and the very Do Khyi Apso

Recent DNA analysis has concluded that the Tibetan Terrier is descended from the most ancient dog breeds.

Description


Appearance


The appearance of the Tibetan Terrier is that of a powerful, medium sized dog of square proportions, with a shaggy coat. Overall, there should be a feel of balance. Fully grown, he or she should look like a miniaturized Old English Sheepdog.

The head is moderate, with a strong muzzle of medium length, and a skull neither rounded nor flat. The eyes are large, dark, and set fairly far apart. The V-shaped drop ears are well feathered, and should be set high on the sides of the skull. The nose is always black, regardless of coat colour.

The body is well muscled and compact. The length of the back should be equal to the height at the withers, giving the breed its typical square look. Height for either sex is 14-16 in and weight is 18-30 lb , with 20-24 lb preferred, but all weights acceptable if in proportion to the size.

The tail is set high, well feathered, and carried in a curl over the back.

One of the more unusual features of the Tibetan Terrier is the broad, flat feet with hair between the toes. They are ideal for climbing mountains and act as natural snow shoes.

Coat


Tibetans have hair, not fur; as a result, their coat grows continuously and pet animals will require occasional trimming. They do not shed but rather slough hair at a rate similar to that of most humans. The exception is at approximately nine months when puppies slough their entire coat in advance of acquiring their adult coat. The double coat is profuse, with a warm undercoat and a topcoat which has the texture of human hair. It should not be silky or curled, but wavy is acceptable. Long and thick, it is shown natural, but should not be so long as to touch the floor, as is typical in breeds such as the Lhasa Apso or . A fall of hair covers the face and eyes, but long eyelashes generally prevent hair from getting in the Tibetan Terrier's eyes, and the breed has very good eyesight.

Color



All colors are permissible, barring liver and chocolate, and none are preferred. Tibetan Terriers are available in any combination of solid, particolor, tricolor, brindle or piebald, as long as the nose leather is black and the eyes and eye rims are dark.

Temperament


The temperament has been one of the most attractive aspects of the breed since it was first established in the 1920's. They are amiable and affectionate family dogs, sensitive to their owners and gentle with older children. As is fitting a dog formerly used as a watch dog, they tend to be reserved around strangers, but should never be aggressive nor shy with them.

Suitable for apartment living, the Tibetan is still an energetic and surprisingly strong dog, and needs regular exercise. Their energy level and intelligence is well suited for dog sports such as . They are steadfast, determined, and clever, which can lead to them being stubborn. Some dogs of this breed can often be jealous, which can make it hard to live with another pet.

Though not yappy, the Tibetan Terrier has an assertive bark, likened to a rising siren.

Health


The Tibetan Terrier enjoys the long life span often associated with small dog breeds, and generally lives from 17-20 years.

Though an athletic breed that has been bred for a natural look, the Tibetan Terrier is still susceptible to a variety of health problems, especially those related to the eyes and joints. These can include:
*Canine
*Luxating patella
*Progressive retinal atrophy
*Lens luxation
*Cataracts

Because of that, Tibetan Terrier clubs recommend purchasing from breeders who participate in eye and hip testing, such as the Canine Eye Registration Foundation and Orthopedic Foundation for Animals .
          Shih Tzu        
The Shih Tzu , , is a dog breed which originated in China. The name is both singular and plural. The spelling "Shih Tzu", most commonly used for the breed, is according to the Wade-Giles system of romanization. The Shih Tzu is reported to be the oldest and smallest of the Tibetan holy dogs, its vaguely lion-like look being associated with the Tibetan Snowlion. The Shih Tzu therefore also has the nickname "Tibetan temple dog". It is also often known as the "Xi Shi quan" , based on the name of Xi Shi, regarded as the most beautiful woman of ancient China, and, less often, the Chrysanthemum Dog, because its face looks very much like the flower, and the Chinese or Tibetan Lion Dog.

Description


Appearance


The Shih Tzu is characterized by its long, flowing double coat; sturdy build; intelligence; and a friendly, energetic, lively attitude. Here is an excellent example of lively Shih Tzu puppy behavior at 10 weeks . In breeding all coat colors are allowed. The Shih Tzu fur can be styled either in a short summer cut or kept long as is compulsory for conformation shows.

The American Kennel Club Shih Tzu breed standard calls for the dog to have a short snout, large eyes, and a palm-like tail that waves above its torso. The ideal Shih Tzu height at 9 to 10 1/2 inches. The dog should stand no less than 8 inches and not more than 11 inches tall. The Shih Tzu should never be so high stationed as to appear leggy, nor so low stationed as to appear dumpy or squatty. Regardless of size or gender, the Shih Tzu should always be solid and compact and carry good weight and substance for its size range.

This breed has some to no shedding .


Breed variations




The American Kennel Club and the American Shih Tzu Club define the Shih Tzu as an adult dog that weighs between 9 to 16 pounds as the official breed standard. . Descriptions such as "imperial", "teacup", "tiny teacup" are used, but dogs that fit such descriptions are often an undersized or underdeveloped Shih Tzu. Both the AKC and ASTC consider these variances to not be in conformity with the official breed standard. These tiny variances are also not what was defined as a standard by the professional circuit. Many people prefer to have these canines buzzed to a short cut, as their hair starts to mat and become dry as it grows. To have it long, the owner must give the dog's hair intensive care. A medium length coat is therefore recommended but not

Health


Temperature sensitivity


Shih Tzu are considered to be brachycephalic dogs. As such, they are very sensitive to high temperatures. This is why many airlines that ship dogs will not accept them for shipment when temperatures at any point on the planned itinerary exceeds 75 degrees Fahrenheit .

Life span and health issues


The life span of a Shih Tzu is 13-15 years although some variation from this range is possible. Some health issues common among the breed are portosystemic liver shunt, renal dysplasia, and in standard sizes. In addition, they also can suffer from various eye problems. Shih Tzus may present signs of allergies to red dye #40, and owners should respond to scratching in the absence of fleas by eliminating pet foods that contain this commonly used additive.

Care





The Shih Tzu can require more care than some other breeds if the hair is kept at show length; they need daily brushing to avoid tangles. A short haircut, also known as a pet trim or puppy cut, can make this a task taking place every month or so rather than of daily. They also need regular haircuts. A Shih Tzu has two coats of fur, with the bottom coat shedding into the top coat rather than off of the dog entirely; as a result, this breed sheds very little in the conventional sense. With regular brushing and bathing, shedding can be reduced to almost nothing. As they shed so lightly, Shih-Tzu are considered to be one of the breeds more suitable for people with allergies.

Since the breed is adapted to a cool climate, letting the coat grow out somewhat for the colder seasons is appropriate, but there is still a substantial difference from a floor-length show coat and a warmer, medium-length winter coat.

Because Shih Tzu noses are small and flat, eating contributes to an unclean face. Once the dog has finished eating, owners often wipe the dog's face with a damp paper towel to remove food remnants. This is another area where the haircut matters; a proper show cut will get more messy than other ways of cutting the facial hair.

When they are drinking, it is sometimes necessary to supervise Shih Tzu; water can enter their face-level noses more easily and inhibit breathing. This is why many Shih Tzu are trained to drink from the sort of licker bottles used by hamsters and gerbils. The area around the eyes should be checked each day for mucus buildup and cleaned when needed. Providing the Shih Tzu with bottled water helps to keep eye mucus to a minimum. Additionally, their claws need to be clipped approximately every month.

Crossbred Shih Tzus


A is a dog with two purebred parents of different breeds. Dogs traditionally were crossed in this manner in hopes of creating a puppy with desirable qualities from each parent. For pet dogs, crosses may be done to enhance the marketability of puppies, and are often given cute portmanteau names. Shih Tzus are sometimes crossbred with other toy dogs, creating such designer dogs as Shih-poo , the "Zuchon" or "Shichon" and the . Shih Tzus may also be crossed with , and a ShiChi which is a Shih Tzu crossed with a Chihuahua, Shih Tzu's have also been known to be crossed with Cavalier King Charles Spanieland a "Shorkie" is 1/2 teacup Yorkie & 1/2 Toy sized Shih Tzu http://www.shorkieworld.com/shorkie-puppies-nursery.htm

History


Recent DNA analysis confirms that the ancestors of today's Shih Tzu breed are the most ancient dog breeds.

Professor Ludvic von Schulmuth studied canine origins by studying the skeletal remains of dogs found in human settlements as long as ten thousand years ago. The Professor created a genealogical tree of Tibetan dogs that shows the "Gobi Desert Kitchen Midden Dog", a scavenger, evolved into the "Small Soft-Coated Drop-Eared Hunting Dog". From this dog evolved the Tibetan Spaniel, Pekingese, and Japanese Chin. Another branch coming down from the "Kitchen Midden Dog" gave rise to the Papillon and Long-haired Chihuahua and yet another "Kitchen Midden Dog" branch to the Pug and Shih Tzu.

James E. Mumford described the breed in an American Shih Tzu magazine, giving a picture of the versatile character of the Shih Tzu:
"Nobody knows how the Ancient Eunuchs managed to mix together…And now here comes the recipe: A dash of lion, several teaspoons of rabbit, a couple of ounces of domestic cat, one part court jester, a dash of ballerina, a pinch of old man , a bit of beggar, a tablespoon of monkey, one part baby seal, a dash of teddy bear and the rest dogs of Tibetan and Chinese origin."
          Shar Pei        
The Shar Pei or Chinese Shar-Pei is a of dog known for its distinctive features of deep wrinkles and a blue-black tongue. The breed derives from China. The name translates to "sand skin," and refers to the texture of its short, rough coat. As puppies, Shar Pei have numerous wrinkles, but as they mature, these wrinkles disappear as they "grow into their skin". Shar Pei were once named as one of the world's rarest dog breeds by and the '''', and the American Kennel Club did not recognize the breed until 1991.

The origin of the Chinese Shar-Pei can be traced to the province of Kwun Tung and has for centuries existed in the southern provinces of China. These dogs helped their peasant masters in various tasks such as herding cattle, guarding the home and family, and have proven themselves to be qualified hunters of "wild game, usually wild pigs."

The Shar-Pei is believed to have shared a common origin with the smooth-coated Chow-Chow because of the blue-black mouths and tongues, possibly the Great Pyrenees, a source of the double dew claws, and the Tibetan Mastiff. It was believed in ancient times that the dark mouth of the Chow-Chow, exposed when barking, helped to ward off evil spirits. The first Shar-Pei may have appeared as a mutation. The Shar-Pei when translated means "sand-skin" or "shark skin." This uniquely rough, loose, prickly coat enabled the Shar-Pei to wriggle out of its opponents grasp while fighting in the dog pits. The coat when stroked against the grain may be abrasive, producing a burning, itching sensation. Their tail is carried over their backs on either side exposing the anus. The first tail set is a tightly curled tail, a "coin" tail. The second tail set is the loose curl, and third is carried in an arch over the back. The Shar-Pei with his tail sticking out straight or between his legs was thought to be cowardly. The tail should denote bravery.

While viewing the body head on, if the toes were slightly turned out this was thought to help the dog with balance according to old-time dog-fighting fanciers. The Chinese crawling dragon with his feet pointed east and west was considered a sign of strength. Because of these poor breeding practices many of the Shar-Pei have bad fronts. A dog with straight forelegs is correct.

Incidentally, any dog in China that protects property is called a fighting dog, whereas in Canada and the United States they are referred to as guard dogs.

Following the establishment of the Peoples' Republic of China as a communist nation, the dog population was virtually wiped out. If not for the efforts of Matgo Law of Hong Kong, the Shar-Pei would not be here today. Due to his dedication to the breed, a small number of Shar-Pei were brought to the United States in the 1960s and early '70s. In 1974 American and Canadian fanciers answered Matgo's appeal for help and in 1976 the first Shar-Pei was registered. The foundation stock brought over from Hong Kong were of poorer quality then the Shar-Pei we see today. In August of 1991 the Shar-Pei officially completed the requirements for recognition by the American Kennel club and was placed in the Non-Sporting Group. In 1992 the Canadian Kennel Club also officially recognized and grouped the Shar-Pei in group 6, Non-Sporting n g events. Since that time several Shar-Pei are now and
continuing to become CKC and AKC champions.

Together the United States and Canada can now boast over 100,000 Shar-Pei in the world. This unique breed is also recognized by the FCI, HKKC, and the CSPCGB. The CSPCGB operates independently receiving no input or influence from the Kennel Club. I would also mention that the FCI recognizes the HKKC standard and not the AKC's at this time, as per its general policy of using the standard from the country of the breed's origin.


Description



Appearance



Small, triangular ears, a muzzle shaped like that of a hippopotamus, and a high-set tail also give the Shar Pei a unique look. For show standard, "the tail is thick and round at the base, tapering to a fine point" .

Colors



Shar Pei come in many different colors such as fawn, red , sand, cream, black, lilac and blue. They resemble the Chow Chow due to having the same blue-black tongue. There are over sixteen recognized colors in AKC. The coat must be solid in
color and any Shar-Pei with a "flowered coat" or black and tan in coloration is a disqualification. Colors include black, cream, fawn, red-fawn, red, sable, apricot, chocolate, isabella, and blue. The nose may be black or brick , with or without a black mask. A Shar-Pei can also have what is called a "dilute" coloration. Meaning the nose, nails and anus of the dog is the same color as the coat, . All of these color variations are acceptable and beautiful, but the coat color must be solid and well blended throughout the whole body of the dog.

Coat




Shar Pei comes in three different coat types; horse, brush and bear coat. The unusual horse-coat is rough to the touch, extremely prickly and off-standing and is closer to the original Shar Pei breed in appearance and coat type than the Brush or Bear Coat. This coat is fairly prickly, and can be rough or irritating when petting in the opposite direction of the fur. The Horse Coat is generally thought to be more active and predisposed to dominant behaviour than the Brush Coat.
The brush-coated variety have slightly longer hair and a smoother feel to them. The Brush Coat is generally considered to be more of a 'couch potato' than the Horse Coat.

Unlike the two coat types above, the Bear Coat does not meet breed standards and therefore cannot be shown. The coat is much longer than the Brush and Horse Coat, so much so, in most cases you can't see the famous wrinkles. A Bear Coat can occur in any litter.

This breed has little to no shedding .

The Chinese Shar-Pei is a unique and intelligent dog most often recognized for its wrinkles. Initially developed as an all purpose Chinese farm dog, the breed does well today in obedience, agility, herding and tracking, with skills that would have been needed on the farm. Because the name "Shar-Pei" means "sand coat", harshness is a distinctive feature in its two accepted coat types, either horse or brush . Other unique qualities include black mouth pigment, a slightly "hippo-like" head shape, small ears, deepset eyes and rising topline.

All Shar-Pei, but especially the horsecoat need early socialization with children, strangers, and other animals.They can be stubborn, strong willed and very territorial.Early training can help control these traits before they become problem behaviors. Some people may experience a sensitivity to the harshness of the coat of either length. This is a mild, short lived rash, that can develop on the skin that has been in contact with the coat, most commonly on the forearms.

The brushcoat matures early to be a stocky strong dog, therefore early socialization and training are essential, in order to have a dog that is a good family member as well as a welcome member of society. The brushcoat is not always as active as the horsecoat, and are often more content than the horsecoat to laze around the house. Like their horsecoat brothers, they are strong willed, stubborn and territorial, but these are often exhibited to a lesser degree. Both coat types, brush and horse are true Shar-Pei.

There is another length of coat that a Shar-Pei can have. When both the male and female carry the recessive gene for this coat type, it can occur. It is any coat that is longer than 1 inch at the withers. This coat length is commonly called a "Bear Coat." This coat length resembles the coat on a breed of dog called a "Chow Chow." The personality of the bear coat is very much like that of a brush coat.

Wrinkles


Shar Pei usually come in two varieties: one is covered in large folds of wrinkles, even into adulthood . The other variation has skin that appears tighter on its body, with wrinkles just on the face and at the withers .

Temperament


The Shar Pei is often suspicious of strangers, which pertains to their origin as a guard dog. In general the breed has proved itself to be a loving, devoted family dog. The Shar Pei are also very independent and reserved breeds. Nevertheless, the Shar Pei is extremely devoted, loyal and affectionate to its family, and is amenable to accepting strangers given time and proper introduction at a young age. If poorly socialized or trained, it can become especially territorial and aggressive. Even friendly and well-socialized individuals will retain the breed's proclivities . It is a largely silent breed, barking only when playing or when worried. The Shar Pei was originally bred as palace guards in China. While this breed is adorable it is also very protective of its home and family, a powerful dog that is willing to guard its family members.

The breed is amenable to training, but can get bored from repetition. Overall, the Shar Pei is a dog that is loyal and loving to its family while being very protective & independent.

Health


Because of its fame after being introduced to North America in the 1970s, the breed suffered much inexperienced or rushed breeding. Many genetic problems arose as a result. Allergy-induced skin infections can be a problem in this breed caused by poorly selected breeding stock. This actually has become more and more rare over the years with responsible breeders and lines. Familial Shar Pei fever , and swollen hock syndrome, , are also a serious problems for the breed. The FSF disease causes short fevers lasting up to 24 hours, after which there may be no recurrence or they may recur at more frequent intervals and become more serious. A possibly related disease is called amyloidosis, and is caused by unprocessed amyloid proteins depositing in the organs, most often in the kidneys or liver, leading to renal failure. At this time there is no test for these seemingly prevalent diseases.

A common problem is a painful eye condition, entropion, in which the eyelashes curl inward, irritating the eye. Untreated, it can cause blindness. This condition can be fixed by surgery .

Chinese Shar Pei can be notoriously allergic to food products that contain soy, corn, wheats, glutens and sugars . It is recommended in the breed now to use a completely grain-free food to offset and try to prevent these allergies. Often the consumption of these types of poor quality foods result in allergic skin reactions. Shar Pei whose food intake is restricted to better quality foods free of corn/soy/wheats and glutens, will enjoy much healthier lives with little or no skin irritation, itching, or sores.
Responsible breeders work to reduce the frequence of these genetic problems, and so finding an experienced, well-established Shar-Pei breeder is important. Some problems can be virtually eliminated from experienced breeders' litters. The breeder will also give the best and most detailed diet information specific to their Shar-Pei.

History



The Shar Pei breed comes from the Guangdong province of China. The original Shar-pei from China looked very different from the breed now popular in the West. People in southern China, Hong Kong, and Macau differentiate the Western type and the original type by calling them respectively "meat-mouth" and "bone-mouth" Shar-pei.


The ancestry of the Shar-Pei is uncertain. It may be a descendant of the Chow Chow, however, the only clear link between these are the purple tongue. However, pictures on pottery suggest the breed was present even in the Han Dynasty . For many years the Shar-Pei was kept as a general-purpose farm dog in the Chinese countryside, used for hunting, protecting and herding stock, and guarding the home and family. During that time the Shar-Pei was bred for intelligence, strength and scowling face.

Later, it was used in dog fighting. The loose skin and extremely prickly coat were developed originally to help the pei fend off wild boar, as they were used to hunt. Dog Fighters used these enhanced traits to make the Shar-Pei difficult for the opponent to grab and hold on to, and so that if it did manage to hold on, the Shar-Pei would still have room to maneuver and bite back. The Shar-Pei's most intriguing feature to this fact is that if you grab them by any loose wrinkle they can actually twist in their skin and be in your direction. This was used in fighting as a means for them to fight back, they would be bitten and twist in their skin to bite back at the offender. During the Communist Revolution, when the Shar Pei population dwindled dramatically, dogs were rescued by a Hong Kong business man named Matgo Law, who appealed to Americans in 1973 through a dog magazine to save the breed. Around 200 Shar-Peis were smuggled into America. The current American Shar Pei population stems mainly from these original 200.

DNA analysis has concluded that the Shar Pei is one of the most ancient dog breeds

Famous Shar-Pei


*Lao-Tzu, Martin Prince's dog in The Simpsons, appeared in two episodes; "Bart's Dog Gets an F" and "Two Dozen and One Greyhounds".

*Fu Dog from the cartoon ''American Dragon: Jake Long'' is a Shar Pei.

*Satchel, from the syndicated comic strip Get Fuzzy, is half yellow lab and half Shar Pei.

*Malcolm and Derek, from the TV version of Creature Comforts.

*A Shar Pei appears in the television show '''' as character pet, Bpo Bpo.

*In a British television advert for a Garnier anti-wrinkle cream, a Shar Pei puppy is featured.

*Sharpay is a character in High School Musical who is rich and pretty. Her name is a homonym of Shar Pei. "I mean, come on, they named me after a flabby dog!" is a line stated by Sharpay in the .

*New Kids on the Block member Jonathan Knight had a Shar Pei named Nikko that went on tour with him and appeared in many magazine articles and pictures focused on the group.

*In Australia and New Zealand, a Shar Pei puppy named Roly has been used for many years in television commercials for Purex toilet paper.

*Popeye, a Shar Pei dog that appeared in Hong Kong TVB comedy shows.

*Zac Lichman from '''' had a Shar Pei named Molly, who undertook a task on Day 55, and was also reunited.

*In a recent episode of BBC Three reality series Dog Borstal a Shar Pei named Mia appeared, exhibiting virtually every negative aspect of the breed including Shar Pei fever. Trainer Robert Alleyne said of the Shar Pei breed that they are ''"a genetic disaster"''.
          Lhasa Apso        
The Lhasa Apso is a non-sporting dog breed originating in Tibet. It was bred originally to guard monasteries by alerting monks to any intruders who entered.

Appearance




Lhasas Apsos should ideally be 10  inches at the withers and weigh about 14-18 pounds . The females are slightly smaller, and weigh between 12-14 pounds . The breed standard requires dark brown eyes and a black nose, although liver coloured lhasas have a brown nose which makes them unsuitable for the show ring but still make great pets. Texture of the coat is heavy, straight, hard, neither woolly nor silky, and very dense. A Lhasa's coat should be of good length if it is for the show ring but a lot of people who keep lhasas as pets getting it trimmed into the teddy bear cut by a groomer. All colors are equally acceptable for the show ring as long as they have a black nose. Lhasas can be with or without dark tips to ears and beard although it is traditional for them to have it. The tail should be carried well over the dogs back. The breed standard currently used by the American Kennel Club was approved July 11, 1978. Lhasas can change colour as they get older. Some start off with a dark brown coat with tan and white splotches, but when their hair is cut or it grows naturally, their colour can turn much lighter.

Temperament


Having been bred to be sentinel or , Lhasa Apsos tend to be alert and have a keen sense of hearing with a rich, sonorous bark that belies their size .

Lhasa Apsos, although small, can exhibit brief periods of explosive energy. Unique personality characteristics of Lhasa Apsos have gained them a reputation in some circles as being a very emotive breed that in some cases prove themselves to be completely fearless.


If properly raised it will come to appreciate bathing, hair combing and cutting. The Lhasa Apso is a long-lived breed, with some living in good health into their early 20s.


History


The heavy coat of Lhasas can also be explained by the geographical features of Tibet: the temperature frequently drops below freezing thus making it hard for a dog to survive without sufficient insulation. Lhasas were rarely groomed by their owners thus allowing the breed to adapt to the harsh weather, although when they are in warm climates, such as the south-western , many owners prefer to have the coats trimmed.

In 1901 Mrs. A. McLaren Morrison brought the Lhasa Apso to the where it was registered as an official breed in The Kennel Club in 1902.

The original American pair was a gift from Thubten Gyatso, 13th Dalai Lama to C. Suydam Cutting, arriving in the United States in the early 1930s. The American Kennel Club officially accepted the breed in 1935 in the Terrier group, and in 1959 transferred the breed to the Non-Sporting group.

Recently, DNA Analysis has identified the Lhasa Apso as one of the 14 most ancient dog breeds. The breed has incredibly good hearing and this is why they were used in Tibet as ears for the old Tibeten monks who were hard of hearing so that the monks could be alerted by the dogs sharp high pitched bark if there were any intruders.

At the World Dog Show Argentina in 2005 a Lhasa Apso, Homero del Alcazar, became ''World Champion''

Miscellaneous





* The Brazilian comic series Monica's Gang features a Lhasa Apso named which belongs to Jimmy Five.
* In the animated series Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, Peter's Aunt May owns a lhasa apso named Ms. Lion.
* Dougal of The Magic Roundabout is based on this dog breed
* Known to suffer from Sebaceous Adenitis - Sebaceous Adenitis is a hereditary skin disease that occurs primarily in Standard Poodles, but has also been reported in a number of other breeds, including the Lhasa Apso.
* Suffer from the genetic disease Progressive Retinal Atrophy which can leave lhasas completely blind.
          Chow Chow        
Chow Chow, or Chow, is a of dog that was first developed in Mongolia about 4,000 years ago and was later introduced into China, where it is referred to as ''Songshi Quan'' , which literally means "puffy-lion dog." It is believed that the Chow Chow is one of the native dogs used as the model for the Foo dog, the traditional stone guardian found in front of Buddhist temples and palaces.

Description


Appearance


The Chow is a sturdily built dog that is square in profile with broad skull and small, triangular, erect ears that are rounded at the tip. The breed has a very dense double coat that is either smooth or rough. The fur is particularly thick around the neck, giving the distinctive ruff or mane appearance. The coat may be one of five colors including red, black, blue, cinnamon, and cream. Their eyes should be deep set and almond in shape. Chows are distinguished by their unusual blue-black/purple tongue and very straight hind legs, resulting in a rather stilted gait. The bluish color extends to the Chow's lips, which is the only dog breed with this distinctive bluish appearance in its lips and oral cavity . One other distinctive feature is their curly tail. It has thick hair and lays curled on its back. Their nose should be black. Any other tone is disqualification for breeding under AKC breed standard. The blue-black/purple tongue gene appears to be dominant, as almost all mixed breed dogs who come from a Chow retain the tongue color. This is not to say, however, that every mixed breed dog with spots of purple on the tongue is descended from chows as purple spots on the tongue can be found on a multitude of pure breed dogs.

Temperament



Today the Chow Chow is most commonly kept as a . Its keen sense of proprietorship over its home paired with a sometimes disconcertingly serious approach to strangers can be off-putting to those unfamiliar with the breed. However, displays of timidity and aggression are uncharacteristic of well-bred and well-socialized specimens. Inexperienced dog owners should beware of how dogs of this breed encounter those it perceives as strangers; their notoriety is so established that many homeowner's insurance companies will not cover dogs from this breed. The proper Chow owner will be just as willful and stubborn as the Chow they keep, thus weaker-willed individuals would be best served to evaluate their commitment in controlling an animal who is happy to take over any household. Specimens of opposite sex typically co-habitate with less tension than those of the same sex, but it is not unheard of for multiple chows of both sexes to live together peacefully in a home setting. The Chow is extremely loyal to its own family and will bond tightly to its master. The Chow typically shows affection only with those it has bonds to, so new visitors to the home should not press their physical attention upon the resident Chow as it will not immediately accept strangers in the same manner as it does members of its own pack.

Chows are not a particularly active breed. Apartment life can suit this breed, if given enough opportunity for regularly scheduled physical activity each day. The Chow Chow may appear to be independent and aloof for much of the day, keeping a comfortable distance from others while staying within earshot, or preferring to watch for strangers alone by the entrance. Owners still need to be prepared to take a Chow Chow for a brisk daily walk, even if they have a fenced yard, in order to meet the dog's needs for mental and physical stimulation. While the Chow exhibits low energy for most of the day, it will crave routine time to explore and play to maintain a happy and content disposition.

Health


The Chow Chow is the dog breed most affected by elbow dysplasia. It is also prone to , patellar luxation , thyroid disease, and ocular disorders such as entropion and ectropion. The risk of such disorders increases exponentially when a Chow is purchased from backyard breeders, pet stores and unscrupulous kennels that do not test their breeding stock for such genetic disorders. Thus, a potential Chow buyer should ask to see all health clearances for the parents of a litter up front. In the United States, these would be clearances from the Canine Eye Registration Foundation and Orthopedic Foundation for Animals; other countries will have other health testing schemes, and contacting the national canine registry association will provide that information. Reputable kennels should provide the new owner with a written and signed health warranty as well. Although there is no way to accurately predict the lifespan of an animal, one should expect the healthy Chow to live between 10 to 13 years.

History



The Chow is thought to be one of the oldest recognizable dog breeds. Research indicates it is one of the first primitive breeds to evolve from the wolf. Recent DNA analysis confirms that this is one of the . A Chinese bas-relief from 150 BC shows a hunting dog similar in appearance to the Chow. Later Chow Chows were bred as general-purpose working dogs for herding, hunting, pulling and guarding.

The Chow Chow was a highly popular pet among the rich and famous during the Roaring Twenties. President Calvin Coolidge and his wife owned a black Chow named Timmy. Chow Chows were also popular in the 1930s and 1980s.
          The Proto-Indo-European Homeland Puzzle        
The Indo-European Language Family

Indo-European was the first language family to be identified. This discovery, and the beginning of modern linguistics, can be dated to February 2, 1786 at a gathering of scientists and other interested men. Sir William Jones, speaking at the Asiatic Society in Calcutta, made this astounding statement:

The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure: more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either; yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and in the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists.

Jones later added Persian and Celtic as likely members of this family of languages.

Jones was uniquely qualified to make this discovery. His parental language was Welsh; he was taught English at school; he learned classical Greek and Latin in university where he studied law; he wrote the first English grammar of the Persian language (which earned him a reputation as one of the most respected linguists in Europe); and when appointed a judge in India at age 37 set out to learn the Sanskrit language to better understand local laws. Thus by age 40 Jones was familiar with a language in 6 (out of a total of 12) different Indo-European language branches.

Indo-European languages are spoken today by over 3 billion people - about half of the world's population - as either a first or second language. These languages are divided into 10 or 12 language branches or subfamilies. See the attached graph (Figure 1.1 of The Horse, The Wheel and Language p.12) which is arranged more or less geographically. English is a member of the Germanic subfamily along with German, Dutch, Frisian, the Scandinavian languages (which includes Icelandic), Yiddish, and Afrikaans. Other languages to note include:
            Tocharian – two extinct languages found in western China, the farthest East branch
            Hittite – a member of the extinct Anatolian branch – the earliest branch to separate
            Romany – the language of the Gypsies of Europe, is a member of the Indic branch showing that they originated in northwest India (not to be confused with Rumanian which is a member of the Latin or Romance language branch)



Source: Figure 1.1 of The Horse, The Wheel and Language p.12

About 6,000 to 5,000 years ago the parent language, called Proto-Indo-European, was spoken by a semi-nomadic tribe of people in the southern Ukraine and Russia. How their language spread and evolved into all of all these languages could be the subject for a future lecture. Today I want to show how historical linguistics and archaeology were combined to solve the puzzle of who the speakers of Proto-Indo-European were, and where and when they lived.
Source: Figure 1.2 of The Horse, The Wheel and Language p.14

The Proto-Indo-European Homeland Puzzle

Since the discovery of the IE language family, the location of the homeland of the original speakers has been claimed by different people to be many different places: India, Pakistan, Syria/Lebanon, the Caucasus Mountains, Turkey, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine, the Balkans and Germany. By the late 20th century linguists only seriously considered two of these – Anatolia (modern Turkey) and the steppes of southern Ukraine and Russia. And as recently as 2000, Calvert Watkins in his essay “Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans” which introduces his book The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots stated “Archaeologists have not in fact succeeded in locating the Indo-Europeans.”

Colin Renfrew was a strong supporter of the other serious contender, Anatolia. Renfew's elegant proposal, published in the 1990's, had Proto-Indo-European migrant farmers carry their language along with agriculture from the Middle East to the westernmost part of Europe. But like many elegant theories, this one turned out to be not true. (I was greatly disappointed when linguistics and DNA analysis disproved Thor Heyerdahl's theories of Polynesian origins). There are, as we will see, serious problems with Renfrew's theory.

Before going further, I need to emphasize one point. Proto-Indo-European is a language. It is not a culture, nor is it a genetically-definable population. Language does not necessarily follow cultural boundaries, which can be determined by archaeology. Every first year archaeology student is taught “pots are not people”. But we know that someone must have spoken this language, and they must have lived in a particular place during a particular time. So while looking for the speakers of Proto-Indo-European we need to be careful of this constraint.
  
Clues from the Language

Since Proto-Indo-European is a language, let's look first at clues to the homeland from the language itself. The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots published in 2000 contains 1350 reconstructed root words and several thousand more words based on these roots. These words have been painstakingly reconstructed by comparing similar words (called cognates) from the daughter languages over the more than 200 years since Jones' discovery. What can we learn about the people who spoke this language from their vocabulary?

they knew four seasons with snow in winter
they were not familiar with tropical plants or animals
animals include: wolf, lynx, elk beaver, otter, mouse, fish
birds include: crane, goose, duck, eagle, woodpecker
insects: wasp, hornet, fly, louse, bee, honey (mead)
domestic animals include: dog, cattle, sheep and horse
horses play an important role in the culture
they practiced spinning and weaving of wool
they knew metallurgy - copper
they knew of the wheel and used wagons or carts (weak link in Anatolian)
they knew of boats and oars - words like nav (navigate, navy) and rowing.
gift exchange is an important part of their culture
the guest-host relation was important –  *ghosti is the root of both host and guest (ghost originally meant visitor or guest)
they borrowed words from Proto-Uralic, another Eurasian language family, suggesting that the Proto-Indo-European speakers must have lived close to, and likely traded with, people who spoke Proto-Uralic who then, as now, live in northern Europe and Siberia (Hungarian is a member of this family found in Europe because of recent migration (~900CE).

The seasons and animals indicate a northern location either in or adjacent to a forest. The words for bee and honey place the homeland west of the Ural Mountains as honeybees do not occur east of there.

Clues to Dating Proto-Indo-European

Language can also help place the Proto-Indo-European speakers in time as well as location.

Agriculture was introduced to Europe between 6700 and 6500 BC while the wheel was not known until 3400 BC and woolen textiles sometime after 4000 BC. For the daughter language families to have similar words for the wheel and wool, they must have separated from Proto-Indo-European after their arrival. This effectively eliminates the Anatolian farmer immigrant theory. Besides, the two or three Anatolian languages were very similar to each other and spoken by only a small number of people in this area, which strongly suggests they are spoken by Indo-European speaking migrants to Anatolia, not by the ancestors of the language.

The domestication of the horse provides additional clues. Horses were hunted for meat by the people of the steppe for millennia before they were domesticated. They were first domesticated sometime after 4800 BC, a thousand years after cattle were introduced to the area. But they were raised for their meat only. During a cool dry period (4200-3800 BC) horses would have an advantage over cattle because they can forage for themselves during the winter. [Pioneer farmers in Saskatchewan like my grandfather often turned their horses loose for the winter to manage for themselves, rounding them up in the spring]. Riding of horses began on the steppes sometime before 3700 BC and had spread to Northern Kazakhstan, the Caucasus Mountains, and into Europe, by 3000 BC.

An important tool used in the dating of horse riding is bit wear on horse molars. The identification of tooth wear caused by bits of metal, bone, rope and rawhide, was pioneered by the author of The Horse, The Wheel and Language – David W. Anthony, and his wife, fellow archaeologist Dorcas Brown. There is an interesting Saskatchewan connection here. One of the experts they contacted was Hilary Clayton who began studying the mechanics of bits in horses’ mouths while working in Philadelphia, and then took a job at the Western Veterinarian College in Saskatoon. Anthony and Brown followed her to Saskatchewan in 1985 and viewed the X-ray videos she had made of horses chewing their bits.

Riding horses provided a significant benefit to herders in the steppes. A man on horseback could manage a herd of cattle or sheep much larger than a man on foot. With the much later advent of wheeled carts, about 3300 BC, the herders could carry with them tents, food and water allowing them to take advantage of the vast areas between the river valleys. This opened up the steppe much as the horse did to the plains of North America 5,000 years later.

Dating the Daughters

Language provides clues to timing in another way. Linguists can date, with more or less certainty, when each of the daughter language branches separated from the mother language. Here is a list of the branches, in the order of separation, with the approximate date (all BC) of separation (from Figure 3.2 The Horse, The Wheel and Language p. 57).

            Anatolian        4200
            Tocharian       3700 - 3300
            Germanic        3300
            Celtic / Italic   3000
            Greek / Armenian 2500
            Balto-Slavic    2500
            Indo-Iranian    2500-2200

Clues from Archaeology – The Kurgan Cultures

With the time line narrowed to the period 4000 to 2000 BC, it's time to look at the archaeological record and see who was living in the likely homelands and how well they fit with the linguistic clues. The archaeology of the Pontic-Caspian steppes was mostly carried out by Soviet scientists and published in Russian. These were not translated into English until the 1990s. Anthony was one of the first western archaeologists to study this work and relate it to the Proto-Indo-European homeland question.

Anthony found a close fit with the western steppe peoples who built huge burial mounds called kurgans. Their culture varied somewhat over the Proto-Indo-European time line and also geographically from place to place within this large area, but their overall cultures were similar, especially compared to the foragers to the north and east and to the sophisticated farming cultures to the west and south. They were semi-nomadic, raising cattle and sheep. Horses were important both for meat and for riding to manage their growing herds. They used wheeled carts. They mined their own ore and made their own tools and weapons of copper, tin and bronze.

Even more compelling is the evidence, from archaeology, of known migrations out of the steppes in the right directions and at the right times to account for the birth of the daughter language families.

1) to the west 4200-3900 (Anatolian)
2) to the east 3700-3300 (Tocharian)
3) to the west - several waves (Germanic, Celtic, Italic)
4) to north (Baltic, Slavic)
5) to the east and south (Iranian, Indic)

I should explain that by migration I do not mean large scale movement of people displacing existing populations along with their culture and language. This may have been the case with the Pre-Tocharians who made a remarkably long migration in one jump to the Altai Mountains 2000 km to the east (equivalent to the journey made by my grandparents from southern Ontario to Saskatchewan, but without the advantage of trains). Most if not all the other migrations were by small groups who, through some combination of trade or intimidation, became rulers of existing populations. They brought with them enough of their culture to be recognized archaeologically; and they brought their language which, for a variety of reasons, was adopted by the others and continued to spread long after they were gone.
  
Puzzle Solved

While there may be a few objections to his theory not yet satisfactorily answered, Anthony is convinced that the Proto-Indo-European Homeland puzzle has been solved.

Source: Figure 5.1 of The Horse, The Wheel and Language p.84

I want to finish with a quote from The Horse, The Wheel and Language  p. 464

Understanding the people who lived before us is difficult, particularly the people who lived in the prehistoric tribal past. Archaeology throws a bright light on some aspects of their lives but leaves much in the dark. Historical linguistics can illuminate a few of those dark corners.

          NEWS FROM NOWHERE - Sunday        
ON THIS DAY IN - 1806 - The Holy Roman Empire went out of existence as Emperor Francis II abdicated. 
And now some more recent news from the CFZ Newsdesk

  • Three species of tiny frogs discovered in Peruvian...
  • Baby western swamp tortoises set for release into ...
  • Australian man convicted after exporting native re...
  • Cricket's summer song making a comeback
  • DNA Analysis Reveals Why 'Water Bears' Are the Wor...

  • Moving Nose to Tail, Shrew 'Conga Line' Shimmies O...



  • AND TO WHISTLE WHILE YOU WORK... (Music that may have some relevance to items also on this page, or may just reflect my mood on the day.

              OR7 wolf becomes a father        

    Information provided by the Oregon Fish & Wildlife Office

    Wolf OR7 and a mate have produced offspring in southwest Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, wildlife biologists confirmed this week. In early May, biologists suspected that OR7, originally from northeast Oregon, had a mate in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest when remote cameras captured several images of what appeared to be a black female wolf in the same area. 

    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) biologists returned to the area Monday, June 2 and observed two pups. Scat samples from the area have been collected and submitted to a laboratory for DNA analysis, which will take several weeks.

    An image of the two pups can be seen at ODFW’s wolf photo gallery. It is likely there are more pups as wolf litters typically number four to six pups.

    The pups mark the first known wolf reproduction in the Oregon Cascades since the mid-1940s. “This is very exciting news,” said Paul Henson, state supervisor of the Oregon U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office. “It continues to illustrate that gray wolves are being recovered.”

    Wolves throughout Oregon are protected by the state Endangered Species Act. Wolves west of Oregon Highways 395, 78 and 95 are also protected by the federal Endangered Species Act, with the Service as the lead management agency.

    At the end of last year, there were 64 known wolves in Oregon. Most known wolves are in the northeast corner of the state.

    About OR7

    OR7 was born into northeast Oregon’s Imnaha wolf pack in April 2009 and collared by ODFW on Feb. 25, 2011. He left the pack in September 2011, travelled across Oregon and into California on Dec. 28, 2011, becoming the first known wolf in that state since 1924. 

    Other wolves have travelled further, and other uncollared wolves may have made it to California. But OR7’s GPS collar, which transmits his location data several times a day, enabled wildlife managers to track him closely.

    Since March 2013, OR7 has spent the majority of his time in the southwest Cascades in an area mapped on ODFW’s website


              Re: Jesse Taylor born 1792 Wyeth now Grayson County        
    Peggy,
    I've been looking at this question because William Taylor is also a possible father of my ancestor, Cornelius Alexander Taylor, also a native of Wythe County, Virginia, who settled in Knox County, Kentucky, after serving in the War of 1812. (I suspect that there is a connection between Jesse and Cornelius, but YDNA analysis suggests they weren't brothers. Cornelius' male line wasn't really a Taylor, so he may have taken the name from a female Taylor, such as his mom or grandmother, who might have been related to Jesse, but that wouldn't show up on the YDNA.) There is a William Taylor in Knox County in 1810 who would be a good candidate. But this is not the William who was married to Sarah G. Foster as has widely been posted on various sites. The William who married Sarah lived and died much further east and was never in or around Wythe County. Hope that helps.
    Frank Taylor in North Carolina
              For the love of "grotesque" deep-sea fishes        
    Imagine a creature in the ocean with huge, gnarly teeth, a protruding dorsal fin spine and the ability to expand its mouth and stomach to consume creatures larger than itself.

    While this may sound like a terrifying deep-sea monster, Dr. Theodore (Ted) Pietsch, Burke Museum curator of fishes and University of Washington (UW) professor, has grown to love them, having spent a lifetime of study on a group of fishes known as the deep-sea anglerfishes.

    Stewart's Footballfish, Himantolophus stewarti, about 6 inches long, described by Ted as new to science in 2011.

    “I would have missed out on a lot”
    I recently sat down with Ted in his office at the UW School of Aquatic and Fishery Science building to discuss his history with these fascinating creatures.

    Like many researchers, Ted started down his particular path thanks to a serendipitous moment and a push from a mentor.

    As an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, Ted began studying herpetology to pursue his interest in snakes. While he had high hopes to study under well-known herpetologist, his mentor, famous lizard biologist Arnold Kluge, encouraged him to apply to study under Basil Nafpaktitis, an ichthyologist​ ​at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Kluge believed that Nafpaktitis, a new professor​ at the time who was searching for new students,​ would​ provide ​m​ore opportunities. It turned out to be great advice​!

    Ted as a graduate student in biology at the University of Southern California, summer 1969.

    “Grotesque deep-sea things”
    In the summer of 1967, shortly after Ted was accepted to the ichthyology program at USC, he was given the rather unglamorous job of sorting buckets of deep-sea fishes aboard a research vessel. That’s where he caught his first glimpse of an anglerfish.

    “Being from the Midwest, I knew what a perch was, but I had never seen these amazingly grotesque deep-sea things before,” Ted remembered. “I went to professor Nafpaktitis and said, ‘What the heck is this?’ and he began to tell me about it... I completely forgot about snakes.”

    At the same time that Ted became captivated by these curious creatures, his peers discouraged him from studying anglerfishes because of their extreme rarity. But he would not be swayed!

    “I couldn’t stop thinking about them,” he explained.

    One way to study anglerfishes was to climb aboard a research vessel to collect them. However, this proved to be very difficult because most deep-water fishing gear only went down to about 1,000 meters and the elusive anglerfish tends to be found at much greater depths of 2,000–5,000 meters.

    “You can go out for weeks at a time aboard a research vessel that fishes above 1,000 meters and you may never get one.” Ted said. And then there’s the risk (and excitement) of hauling in a live anglerfish. “I was bitten by one once.” Ted laughed. “I think that’s a pretty rare thing. I touched this one on the tail, and she zipped around and caught me with her fang-like teeth!”

    A preserved specimen of Diceratias pileatus in the University of Washington Burke Museum fish collection

    Still, instead of spending too much time hoping to catch anglerfishes, he elected to visit collections around the world and to “sit and look at what’s in jars.” Well, it’s more than just looking at them—researchers like Ted take measurements and document all types of data, like what the fish ate before its death.

    When Ted began his research, there were about 400 named anglerfish species. But once he looked at individual specimens in museum and research collections, he discovered that many of the same fishes had been described and named multiple times. He began to remove the redundancies, and in 1972 he delivered his doctoral dissertation, which narrowed the 400 named species of anglerfishes down to 130.

    Ted Pietsch in the University of Washington Burke Museum fish collection.

    Fast-forward 40 years
    Now, more than 40 years later, Ted retains that same enthusiasm and excitement for these grumpy-looking creatures.

    He escorts me into the Burke’s fish collection so that I could see some of the various anglerfish specimens for myself. As the lights of the fish collection slowly flicker on, Ted continues to share his knowledge of anglerfishes, all with a wondrous smile on his face. He begins to move quickly through the dimly lit room, looking through several shelves before finding a female anglerfish specimen in a clear jar and holding it up to eye level to inspect. The specimens are preserved in ethanol and lose their color, so it looks quite strange to me.

    Ted reaches into a tank and pulls out a larger specimen, pointing out the most distinguishable feature, its highly tactile, species-specific bioluminescent lure. The female anglerfish has the ability to jut out and wiggle its lure to entice other deep-sea creatures before making them into a tasty meal.

    “Can you just imagine what a nice, attractive thing that might be if you’re another little fish?” Ted chuckles.

    
    A preserved specimen of Himantolophus groenlandicus in the University of Washington Burke Museum fish collection.

    Dinner isn’t the only thing trying to take a bite of the female anglerfish. Their tiny male counterparts rely on females to survive. “Tiny little dwarf males have a really short life existence. All the evidence that we have indicates that they probably live only a few weeks—maybe a month—and then they die if they don't find a female because they really don't have the apparatus to eat.” Ted said.

    Once a male encounters a female, it bites onto her anywhere it can—be it her head, face, fins or lips—and permanently fuses to her in a connection that allows a “hormonal communication between male and female that stimulates the development of gonads,” according to Ted. Over time, the male loses his fins and organs until only testes remain; this is called sexual parasitism. While it may seem like the female is getting a raw deal, the relationship is actually mutually beneficial. She supplies dinner and a bloodstream, and he supplies her with sperm for reproduction whenever she wants. Oh, young deep-sea love!

    A rare specimen of Bertella idiomorpha in the University of Washington Burke Museum fish collection.

    What’s next
    As Ted prepares for retirement later this summer, he has high hopes for what researchers will learn about anglerfishes in the future.

    One recent milestone was the first video of anglerfishes swimming in the wild. Scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute recently found and filmed an anglerfish in motion after 20 years of underwater research using submersibles.


    Ted and fellow deep-sea researchers still have many questions about anglerfishes.

    “People have hypothesized that perhaps these things are reproducing parthenogenetically—maybe they’re cloning,” he said. “In some cases maybe females don’t need males to reproduce.” He also questions whether the bacteria found in anglerfish lures is species-specific and believes DNA analysis will hold the answer.

    “Some think that perhaps each kind of deep-sea anglerfish is associated with a species-specific strain of bacteria,” he explained. “Look at the different strains of bacteria and you could come up with a co-evolutionary scenario that the bacteria evolved along with the fishes… I guess a lot of it is examples of just how amazing natural selection can be.”

    Whatever the case, Ted has had a profound impact in the field of ichthyology and on the Burke Museum fish collections. His research and work will continue to inspire future generations of researchers interested in the diversity of deep-sea life—and those of us that are just fascinated by these incredibly odd creatures.

    Diceratias pileatus in the University of Washington Burke Museum fish collection.
    ---

    By Evelyn Mianowski, Communications Volunteer

    Ted Pietsch is the Curator of Fishes at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, and Dorothy T. Gilbert Professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington.

    He has also published extensively on the history of science, especially the history of ichthyology. His work on anglerfishes is described in, “Oceanic Anglerfishes: Extraordinary Diversity in the Deep-sea.”

              House Bill 1523 Printer's Number 2084        
    An Act amending Title 44 (Law and Justice) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in DNA data and testing, further providing for policy, for definitions, for powers and duties of State Police, for State DNA Data Base, for State DNA Data Bank, for State Police recommendation of additional offenses, for procedural compatibility with FBI and for DNA sample required upon conviction, delinquency adjudication and certain ARD cases, providing for collection from persons accepted from other jurisdictions and further providing for procedures for withdrawal, collection and transmission of DNA samples, for procedures for conduct, disposition and use of DNA analysis, for DNA data base exchange and for expungement.An Act amending Title 44 (Law and Justice) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in DNA data and testing, further providing for policy, for definitions, for powers and duties of State Police, for State DNA Data Base, for State DNA Data Bank, for State Police recommendation of additional offenses, for procedural compatibility with FBI and for DNA sample required upon conviction, delinquency adjudication and certain ARD cases, providing for collection from persons accepted from other jurisdictions and further providing for procedures for withdrawal, collection and transmission of DNA samples, for procedures for conduct, disposition and use of DNA analysis, for DNA data base exchange and for expungement.
              Common Information on Forensic Science        
    Forensic science deals with the method of recognizing, identifying and interpreting physical evidence. Mainly, this very important multi-disciplinary science involves physics, chemistry and biology. Just as significantly, it's a highly vital aspect in the execution of civil law and criminal administration.


    The subject of many hit TV shows like'Criminal Minds,''Law & Order' as well as'CSI,' forensic science easily catches the eye of many of us because of its various engaging aspects and procedures . Similarly, it plays a highly critical role in society, especially when it comes to unsolved and mysterious cases. Let's take a more in-depth look at its definition as well as other fascinating things about it.

    Definition


    According to the compendium, forensic science deals with the operation of recognizing, identifying, individualizing and interpreting physical evidence. After that, the significant aspects of medicine and science will be used to handle such evidence for the purposes of civil law and criminal administration. It makes use of assorted systematic disciplines including physics, chemistry and biology. Add to that, it also considers other vital fields like psychology, geology as well as computer science. Each crime scene is checked for impressions, traces of tissues and chemicals. Other vital elements to consider are substances and stuff left at the scene of the crime.

    Inspecting Biological Traces


    Biological traces play a very huge role in this critical field of science. Suspects, alive victims and the deceased person are scaned for crucial traces, which can basically help in the contented solving of crimes. These traces include semen, hair and blood, whichever be helpful in extracting DNA, that will be used for comparative analysis. DNA is very important in solving puzzling cases because it can actually help identify people, even those whose form are beyond identifying. Hair, nails and skin are excellent sources of DNA. Similarly, gnawing gums, ciggie butts and bloodstains are among the most wanted biological traces.

    Inspecting Chemical Traces


    Quantitative and qualitative analyses are done on chemicals to help solve crimes. Soil samples, fibers and gunshot residues can help a lot in forensics. In addition, forensic scientists can also investigate fire waste, paints and drugs. To help solve fire-related crimes and incidents, it is good to look at different kinds of elements like petrol and kerosene.

    Analyzing Physical evidence


    As well as chemical traces and biological traces, it is more important to look at all of the available physical evidence. Handprints, footprints and fingerprints belong to this class. Likewise, tool marks, cut marks and tire marks may also be awfully helpful in forensics.

    Additional info and Other critical Details


    When researching biological pieces, the critical method is polymerase chain reaction. After that, the conclusion will go through gel electrophoresis. Other relevant techniques in forensics include liquid chromatography, gas chromatography and solid-phase micro-extraction. Forensics has diverse subclass like digital forensics, criminalistics and computational forensics. Other notable fields include forensic DNA analysis, forensic archaeology and forensic anthropology.

    Yeastrol Remedy To Alleviate Yeast Infection Issue - Things Your Parents Didn't Tell You About 192.168.0.1 - Yeastrol Remedy To Alleviate Yeast Infection Issue - Manifest the nitty-gritty of 192.168.1.1 the powerful way -

    Forensic geology analyzes trace evidence found in petrol, minerals and soils. In the meantime, forensic entomology inspects various kinds of insects, particularly those that may aid answer crimes. This kind of science is the major focus of many TV shows like'American Justice,''The New Detectives' and'Forensic Files.' Additionally, thrilling and exciting programs like'Waking the Dead,''Silent Witness' and'The Mentalist' are great shows to look at especially for people that want to learn more about this vital field of science.
              The Joy of Hate-Gifting        

    “I found it at the Strand Bookstore and thought of you,” said my friend, handing me a sturdy, gift-wrapped package. With visions of all the incredible vintage gems I had unearthed in this iconic establishment over the years scrolling through my brain, I tore at the gift wrap. And suddenly, there it was, in all its glory: Short Chic: The Everything-You-Need-to-Know Fashion Guide for Every Woman Under 5'4. Published in 1981, Short Chic was originally priced at $14.95. The 2015 price? $7.50. Every expense had been spared.

    I scanned the fly-leaf copy where the promises of Short Chic came thick and fast. Authors Allison Kyle Leopold and Anne Marie Cloutier vowed to “increase your power image on the job … show you how and where to find clothes that fit without extreme alterations … and select furs that dramatize rather than dwarf you.” As a freakishly undersized individual, I am no stranger to the concept of “extreme alterations.” Dwarfed by furs? I’ve lost track of the number of times this has happened. Despite the promises of salvation, there was, however, no question in my mind about the motivation behind this gift. It was a gift-wrapped macroaggression, a holiday hate gift.

    The concept of hate gifts is not as incompatible with cheerful holiday spirits as it first sounds. You can only give a hate gift to somebody you truly love. After receiving my hate gift, I felt ridiculed—but also delighted. Here was a declaration of eternal friendship: “We are so close that I can make fun of your gnomelike appearance, and it will not affect our friendship,” my hate gift seemed to say.

    As deliciously effortless as it is to be skewered by a hate gift, it is a lot harder to actually give one. Hate-gifting is very nuanced and requires an enormous degree of intuitive diplomacy. You are, after all, asking a loved one to collude with you in the celebration his or her own shortcomings. If it’s the thought that counts, then hate gifts demand more thinking than any other type of gift. They are, therefore, the ultimate gift. With that in mind, here is my 2015 guide to holiday hate-gifting.

    To the imperious friend who is always standing at airport check-in counters shouting, “Don’t you know who I am?” give the gift of DNA analysis from Ancestry.com, with a here’s-who-the-f--k-you-are loving note attached. I received one such test as a gift from my husband last year. Yes, I found out that I am 47 percent Irish, which gives me carte blanche to make fun of Irish people, 47 percent of the time, while river-dancing.

    To the attention junkie in your group—the adorable depressive who becomes morose unless the spotlight is pointing at him—give an impossible-to-ignore chapeau.

    And, while we are in the Mad Hatter department, let’s talk potheads. To the furtive marijuana enthusiast—she is still worried the neighbors are going to smell her skunk and drop a dime—give this “dank” hat, thereby liberating her from her self-imposed veil of secrecy forever.

    To the overbearing interior décor dictator in your life—he barges into your home, rearranges your escritoire, and fiddles with your tablescapes—give Hitler at Home, a new coffee-table book by Despina Stratigakos.

    This startling tome shines a light on the role played by residential style—Der Führer’s decorator was a dedicated Nazi lass named Gerdy Troost—in the creation of the Hitler mythology. Not very Christmas-y, but it will definitely stun the recipient into introspection, thereby putting pay to any further domestic intrusions.

    To the neighbor who is overly status-conscious—think Hyacinth Bucket from the classic Britcom Keeping Up Appearances—give a subscription to an embarrassing magazine. The sight of your mailman waiving a copy of Portable Restroom Operator, the monthly mag for the port-a-potty industry, in her direction will definitely take her down a peg or two. Other titles to consider: Miniature Donkey Talk; TAN, The Australian Naturist; and Cranes Today, the “independent magazine of the crane industry.”  

    To the poor-me pal who is always whimpering about “not feeling heard,” give a bullhorn, preferably one with a thousand-yard range. Conversely, to the annoying person who is never listening yet constantly dipping back into conversations asking, “Who? What? Whence?” give an ear trumpet.

    Less effective than a hearing aid, but far more dramatic, ear trumpets are readily available and even come in a variety of appealing hues.

    And to the esoteric foodie who cannot plonk a casserole or a lasagna on the table without heralding all the rarified ingredients, give a can of Unicorn Meat.

    To the pathologically cheap pal who lives in fear of other people’s generosity lest he be called upon to reciprocate, give a ridiculously expensive gift, or better yet, just pretend that you have. Suggestions include car keys to a Bentley (that doesn’t exist). Or better yet, the key to an English country house or penthouse condo in Dubai.

    The recipient’s terror will be short-lived but real and will definitely merit an iPhone video.

    One more notion: To the person who is always yammering about Donald Trump—thereby giving the Donald an excess of attention and credence—give a mini Donald. Choose from a vast selection on eBay. So many of these dinky Donalds are currently being de-accessioned online—I stopped counting after 30—that one wonders if the Donald might not be clearing out his garage. (Who else would have bought them?)

    Speaking of the Donald: What kind of hate-gift would you give him? All of the above? Suggestions in the comment box, please.

    HAPPY HOLIDAYS!


              Additional Evidence Driving Force Behind Jens Soering's Pardon Request        
    Yesterday, in a story exclusive to WVTF and the Washington Post, reporter Sandy Hausman revealed new evidence in the case of a former UVA honors student, convicted in 1990 in the bloody murder of his girlfriend’s parents. DNA analysis now appears to confirm what Jens Soering has been saying all along - that another man committed the crime. Today, we look at additional evidence supporting Soering’s request for a pardon from the governor.
              Who was "Cyntha" Ellis?         
    My earliest Ellis ancestor for whom I have any primary documentation for is Dianna Ellis (1811-1900). Her death record, unfortunately, does not list the names of her parents. An 1832 birth record for her brother, Joseph, listed Cornelius Ellis as his father, mother "Cyntha".

    Question: Who was Cyntha Ellis? In a footnote on page 603 in the History of Industry, Maine, it states that an early resident of Rangeley, Maine was presumed to have been the son of Atkins Ellis. Furthermore, it states that Cornelius Ellis took for his "second wife" a Miss Bryar.

    Miss Bryar is commonly cited as "Sylvia" or "Sylva" Bryant. Sylvia Bryant's birth year was given as 1802 in the 1850 US Census. It is clear that this woman was not the mother of Dianna Ellis.

    I have, to date, been unable to find a marriage record for Cornelius Ellis to anyone in this area. There is an entry in the Farmington marriage records for a "Cornelius Allis" to a Bathiah Pratt. No dates accompany this entry.

    DNA analysis indicates that "Cyntha" shared mitochondrial DNA with individuals living in Maine/Massachusetts and England in the mid to early 18th Century. I have two atDNA matches to Atkins Ellis (b.1752) which takes "presumed son" out of the puzzle.

    Would anyone have any idea where any primary documentation to Cornelius and his wives may exist?
              Institute for Genetic Genealogy Conference Next Month in San Diego        
    I4GG Speakers 2016

    Please join us for a premiere Genetic Genealogy event, held in San Diego next month. The DNA Detectives brings back the Institute for Genetic Genealogy Conference (I4GG) for 2016, this time in San Diego, CA on October 22 and 23, with 14 experts presenting 21 genetic genealogy topics.

    The presentations will cover all levels of experience, beginner, intermediate and advanced. Headlining the conference are leading genetic genealogy educators Blaine Bettinger and CeCe Moore (me), with special guest Schelly Talalay Dardashti of Tracing the Tribe. We are honored to be able to present the following additional speakers with expertise in a wide variety of areas in genetic genealogy: Carol Rolnick, Michelle Trostler, Kitty Cooper, Kathy Johnston, Leah Larkin, Barbara Rae Venter from DNAAdoption and Junel Davidsen, Kathleen Fernandes, Thomas Krahn from YSEQ, Afton Vechery from 23andMe and Janine Cloud from Family Tree DNA

    This event will cover traditional genetic genealogy as well as genetic genealogy methodologies for unknown parentage, with two tracks to choose from each day. Attendees can choose from one of two presentations (in either track), running all day Saturday and Sunday. The tracks on Saturday will focus on 1) Traditional applications for Genetic Genealogy research and 2) Using DNA for unknown parentage/adoption search. Sunday will start out with an exciting keynote given by Blaine about the future of genetic genealogy. During the two tracks on Sunday experts will cover third party tools, endogamy, Jewish DNA, spreadsheets and triangulation, case studies and you will hear from two of the leading companies in the field.

    We are very excited that Blaine will be presenting two brand new talks at this conference, Evaluating a Genealogical Conclusion Including DNA and DNA and the Aftermath of Uncovered Family Secrets. His wonderful new book "Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy" will be available for purchase on site. 

    Both Family Tree DNA and MyHeritage will have an onsite presence at the event. 

    Early registration has been extended until the end of the month (since I hadn't had time to blog about it until now). The cost is $169 for both days or $99 for one (videos will be included with the full two-day conference registration). There is still availability in our room block ($145 + tax until Oct. 4, subject to continued availability) at the Sheraton Mission Valley. 

    Please go to http://i4gg.org/event-information/ to learn more and to register. Watch our awesome video below and at https://vimeo.com/181412550.


    GENETIC GENEALOGY CONFERENCE i4gg 2016 SAN DIEGO OCT. 22 &23 from The DNA Detectives on Vimeo.

    EVENT SCHEDULE

    Saturday:

    9:00 – 10:00 — Keynote: The Power of DNA, CeCe Moore
    Track One
    10:30 – 11:30 — Evaluating a Genealogical Conclusion including DNA, Blaine Bettinger
    11:45 – 12:45 — Using the Tools at GEDmatch to Find Relatives, Kitty Cooper
    2:00 – 3:00 — Getting Started with AncestryDNA, Michelle Trostler
    3:15 – 4:15 — Digging Deeper with Autosomal DNA, CeCe Moore
    4:30 – 5:30 — Searching for Our Most Distant (Paternal) Ancestors in Cameroon – Y Haplogroup A00, Thomas Krahn
    Track Two
    10:30 – 11:30 — Basics of Utilizing DNA in Unknown Parentage Search, CeCe Moore
    11:45 – 12:45 — Mirror Trees Explained, Carol Rolnick
    2:00 – 3:00 — How To Use the X chromosome in Family and Origins Searches, Kathy Johnston
    3:15 – 4:15 — DNA and the Aftermath of Uncovered Family Secrets, Blaine Bettinger
    4:30 – 5:30 — Cold Case Solved:  Autosomal DNA Analysis Reveals Lisa Jensen’s Real Identity, Barbara Rae -Venter

     Sunday:

    9:00 – 10:00 — Keynote: The Science Fiction Future of Genetic Genealogy, Blaine Bettinger
    10:15 – 11:15 — Exploring Ethnicity Estimates, CeCe Moore
    Track One
    11:45 – 12:45 — DNA Analytics: Using Databases and Spreadsheets to Find Family, Kathleen Fernandes
    2:00 – 3:00 — Advanced Third Party Tools, Blaine Bettinger
    3:15 – 4:15 — Genetic Genealogy Case Studies, CeCe Moore
    4:30 – 5:30 — Ancestry discoveries with 23andMe , Afton Vechery
    Track Two
    11:45 – 12:45 — When Your Tree Is a Banyan: Coping with Endogamy in Genetic Genealogy, Leah LaPerle Larkin
    2:00 – 3:00 — Tracing the Tribe with DNA, Schelly Talalay Dardashti
    3:15 – 4:15 — Family Tree DNAStrength in Numbers: Advancing Your Research Through Group Projects, Janine Cloud
    4:30 – 5:30 — Practical Applications for mtDNA Testing, CeCe Moore

    We hope to see you there!

    Videos of the event will be offered for sale at a future date. 
              Don't Miss the Incredible Story DNA Uncovered for LL Cool J on "Finding Your Roots" Tonight        
    Tonight on "Finding Your Roots" the power of genetic genealogy will be showcased through LL Cool J's discovery that his mother was adopted and the search for her biological family.  When I first started working with his DNA over a year ago, it was clear that there was a story to be told and, finally, we are telling it. I will be appearing on the show to discuss some of the DNA analysis and our findings. Check your local PBS listings and don't miss it!

    Dr. Gates and I discussing the DNA on tonight's episode
    LL Cool J, me and Ondrea Smith (his mother)

              Finding Your Roots, Season Three Premieres Tonight on PBS        
    Don't miss out, Season Three of "Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr." premieres tonight on PBS (check your local listings) and will run every Tuesday night for ten weeks. The first episode features actor Ty Burrell, artist Kara Walker and author/political analyst Donna Brazile. I have written an article on some of the DNA analysis used for the show that should be posted in the next couple of days on the PBS site.

    Read this great review of the series by Cal Thomas from the Washington Times. He writes, "Next to 'Downton Abbey,' which is again pulling large audiences for its sixth and final season, Mr. Gates' program (premiering Jan. 5th) is the best and most compelling television you will ever see."

    I also have a new public Facebook page here. Please follow me there for more updates if you are on Facebook. 

              Videos from the I4GG Conference Are Now Available        

    The videos are now available from the Institute for Genetic Genealogy's 2014 International Genetic Genealogy Conference held last month in Washington D.C. The links have been emailed to all attendees and are available for sale to those of you who were not able to attend the event. Access to the videos may be purchased here.  

    We are offering the entire package of 27 presentations for $50 and individual videos for $4. We have kept the cost low so as many people can benefit from the wonderfully educational presentations that were given there as possible. We are continuing as a not-for-profit effort and the proceeds from the sales will be shared with the speakers and used to cover remaining expenses from the conference. 

    We used professional video and audio equipment in the main auditorium, so the videos that were shot in the Aiton Auditorium are of higher quality than the videos that were shot in the Ohio Room. All presentations were videotaped except those of Spencer Well and Angie Bush. We did videotape Jim Bartlett's presentation, but unfortunately the video card that held that presentation was faulty and we were unable to recover the recording. Fortunately, much of the material that Jim covered in his presentation was also included in his portion of the Family Tree DNA workshop video, so if you are interested in seeing his excellent presentation on autosomal DNA, then please see that video. (Note: The videos can be watched in HD by adjusting the settings on YouTube, which improves the quality.)
     
    We would appreciate it if the community members would not share the links to the videos with others who did not attend the conference or purchase access because doing so will deprive the speakers of additional revenue from the sale of the videos that they would otherwise be receiving. If those who did not attend the conference ask you for more information about how to gain access to the videos, please refer them to the Institute for Genetic Genealogy website.
     
    Tim and I are still discussing options for the next Institute for Genetic Genealogy Conference. We would like to hold the next conference within the next one to two years on the West Coast. We will post more information to the community as soon as we have solidified the date and location of the next conference.  


    We are grateful to the speakers and to all of you who helped contribute to the success of this year's conference.

    Below is a list of the presentations available for viewing.
    Aiton Auditorium (higher quality videos):
    Ancestry.com Workshop by Anna Swayne B.S. – Getting the Most from AncestryDNA – (Beginner)
    23andMe Workshop by Joanna Mountain Ph.D. and Christine Moschella – Exploring All of 23andMe’s Genealogy Features – (Intermediate)
    Family Tree DNA Workshop – Exploring All Family Tree DNA Products by Maurice Gleeson (Y chromosome overview), Jim Bartlett (Family Finder/autosomal DNA), CeCe Moore (mitochondrial DNA overview), and Janine Cloud (other features) – (Intermediate)
    Blaine Bettinger Ph.D., J.D. – Using Free Third-Party Tools to Analyze Your Autosomal DNA – (Intermediate)
    Rebekah Canada B.S. – Wanderlust – The Story of the Origins and Travels of mtDNA Haplogroup H through History and Scientific Literature – (Intermediate)
    Julie Granka Ph.D. – AncestryDNA matching: large-scale findings and technology breakthroughs – (Intermediate)
    William E. Howard III, Ph.D. – Using Correlation Techniques on Y-Chromosome Haplotypes to Determine TMRCAs, Date STR Marker Strings, Surname Groups, Haplogroups and SNPs – (Advanced)
    Tim Janzen M.D. – Using Chromosome Mapping to Help Trace Your Family Tree – (Advanced)

    Razib Kahn B.S. – Tearing the Seamless Fabric, Ancestry as a Jigsaw Puzzle – (Intermediate)

    Thomas Krahn Dipl.-Ing. – I’ve Received My Y Chromosome Sequencing Results – What Now? – (Advanced)


    CeCe Moore – The Four Types of DNA Used in Genetic Genealogy – (Beginner/Intermediate)


    Joanna Mountain Ph.D. – 23andMe Features – (Intermediate)
    Ugo Perego Ph.D. – Native American Ancestry through DNA Analysis – (Intermediate)


    Judy Russell J.D. – After the Courthouse Burns: Lighting Research Fires with DNA – (Intermediate)


    Larry Vick M.S. – Using Y-DNA to Reconstruct a Patrilineal Tree – (Beginner)


    Ohio Room (lower quality videos):


    Terry Barton M.B.A. – Surname Project Administration – (Intermediate)


    Shannon Christmas M.A. – Identity by Descent: Using DNA to Extend the African-American Pedigree – (Intermediate)

    Karin Corbeil B.S., Diane Harman Hoog M.B.A., and Rob Warthen M.S. – Not Just for Adoptees – Methods and Tools for Working with Autosomal DNA from the Team at DNAGedcom.com – (Intermediate)


    Katherine Hope Borges – International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) – (Beginner)


    William Hurst B.S. – Mitochondrial DNA Focusing on Haplogroup K – (Intermediate)


    Kathy Johnston M.D. – From X Segments to Success Stories: The Use of the X Chromosome in Genetic Genealogy – (Advanced)


    Maurice Gleeson M.D. – An Irish Approach to Autosomal DNA Matches – (Intermediate)


    Greg Magoon Ph.D. – ‘Next-gen’ Y chromosome Sequencing – (Advanced)


    Doug McDonald Ph.D. – Understanding Autosomal Biogeographical Ancestry Results – (Advanced)


    David Pike Ph.D. – The Use of Phasing in Genetic Genealogy – (Advanced)


    Bonnie Schrack B.A. – Y chromosome Haplogroups A and B – (Intermediate)


    Debbie Parker Wayne CG – Mitochondrial DNA: Tools and Techniques for Genealogy – (Beginner)

               Ancient DNA analysis of 101 cattle remains: limits and prospects         
    Edwards, Ceiridwen J., MacHugh, David E., Dobney, Keith M., Martin, Louise, Russell, Nerissa, Horwitz, Liora K., McIntosh, Susan K., MacDonald, Kevin C., Helmer, Daniel, Tresset, Anne, Vigne, Jean-Denis and Bradley, Daniel G. (2004) Ancient DNA analysis of 101 cattle remains: limits and prospects. Journal of Archaeological Science, 31 (6). pp. 695-710. ISSN 0305-4403
              House Bill 1523 Printer's Number 2084        
    An Act amending Title 44 (Law and Justice) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in DNA data and testing, further providing for policy, for definitions, for powers and duties of State Police, for State DNA Data Base, for State DNA Data Bank, for State Police recommendation of additional offenses, for procedural compatibility with FBI and for DNA sample required upon conviction, delinquency adjudication and certain ARD cases, providing for collection from persons accepted from other jurisdictions and further providing for procedures for withdrawal, collection and transmission of DNA samples, for procedures for conduct, disposition and use of DNA analysis, for DNA data base exchange and for expungement....
              House Bill 852 Printer's Number 934        
    An Act amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in general provisions relating to criminal proceedings, requiring saliva or tissue sample for DNA analysis after arrest for violent offense; and providing for DNA data bank exchange....
              Re: Horrigans needed for DNA project        
    Since my 2012 notice was posted the project has discontinued autosomal DNA analysis. It opens the door to too much speculation.

    However the project continues to seek male participants with a project relevant surname for Y-DNA analysis. We can't have too many !
              Felony Friday Ep. 022 - Professor Erin Murphy Exposes Dark Side to DNA Evidence        

    On today’s Felony Friday show Professor Erin Murphy joins John Odermatt for an educational and fascinating look into the world of forensic DNA. Most people view forensic DNA analysis as a fool proof science. However, there is a dark side to forensic DNA and Erin Murphy is helping to expose failures and limitation with the use of forensic DNA as evidence.

    Erin is a Professor of Law at NYU and she came to NYU after spending five years at UC Berkeley School of Law. Erin received her JD from Harvard Law School, and spent five years as an attorney with the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. At NYU, her research focuses on techno [...]


              Ain't Nothing But a Hypocritical Hound Dog        
    Although Trumpism and human rights are obviously mutually contradictory, it still came as a huge shock in official circles when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson broke precedent and coldly refused to trumpet his agency's annual report on global human rights abuses. And to add insult to injury, he's even reportedly planning to close down State's War Crimes division.

    How very oily of him. 

    Not that the United States has ever actually looked in the mirror and condemned its own abuses and war crimes, which include but aren't limited to capital punishment, solitary confinement and the shackling of pregnant women in domestic prisons; aggressively invading other countries; torture by the CIA in black sites; bombings of hospitals; and extrajudicial assassinations by drone.

     It's that the Trump administration refuses to abide by the norms and traditions of its virtue-signalling predecessors. The serial giant middle fingers of Trumpian contempt make our exceptional country look bad to the rest of the world. His regime deprives us of our righteous opportunities to lecture the rest of the world. 

    A further indication of the domestic erosion of human rights is the fact that the State Department official who did comment to the press on the annual human rights report did so anonymously, out of fear of retaliation from the Trump administration.

    The government's annual report calling attention to global crimes against humanity has ever had any legal clout, mind you. As a matter of fact, the State Department has always functioned as a major arms broker to the same vicious regimes, such as Saudi Arabia, which it presumes to occasionally criticize. Still, as PRI reported in March, Tillerson's lack of engagement and flouting of tradition sends a chilling message to rights organizations as well as a tacit message of encouragement to autocrats in places like Turkey and the Philippines. The shallow hypocritical American rhetoric which has historically waved its feeble pompoms for human rights efforts around the world is completely evaporating:
    The international watchdog Human Rights Watch linked Tillerson's no-show to what it fears is a broader decision by Trump's administration to downplay America's leadership role on the issue. 
    "Trump's anti-Muslim refugee policy and hinted cuts to foreign aid have heightened concerns that the US won't be a vocal player on human rights issues abroad," HRW Washington director Sarah Margon said. 
     Tillerson's absence, she added "reinforces the message to governments, rights activists and at-risk minorities that the State Department might also be silent on repression, abuse and exploitation."
    To complement that episode of passive-aggressive silence, Tillerson also aims to do away with State's Office of Global Criminal Justice, whose business is vocally "deploring" or "condemning" the war crimes of others while ignoring American atrocities - and while supplying the Deplorables with billions of dollars' worth of weapons every single year. The former Exxon CEO has already reassigned Stephen Rapp and his entire war crimes staff to other duties.

    From the New York Times article about Tillerson's "reorganization" plans:
    The war crimes office has modest resources. It has a staff of about a dozen and an annual budget of about $3 million, and it has generally been run by an envoy appointed by the president.

    Mr. Rapp came to the office with considerable experience: He served on an international tribunal on the atrocities in Rwanda and prosecuted war crimes in Sierra Leone before President Barack Obama appointed him to lead the office in 2009, making him the ambassador at large for war crimes.
    Mr. Rapp also played a major role in arranging for one of Syria’s most important defectors to provide thousands of photographs to the F.B.I. of detainees who had perished in President Bashar al-Assad’s prisons.
    In the two decades that it has existed, the office has played an important role in bringing perpetrators to justice. Mr. Rapp worked behind the scenes to press Kosovo to accept its new human rights tribunal. The office also pushed Senegal to try Hissène Habré, the former dictator of Chad.
    The key phrase here is "behind the scenes." The United States not only refused during the Clinton administration to become part of the International Court of Justice, it aggressively worked behind the scenes to weaken it, before it eventually denounced it, during a five-week conference in Rome.

    As international human rights barrister and activist Geoffrey Robertson recounts in his excellent history, Crimes Against Humanity: The Struggle For Global Justice,
    Although the Clinton administration had previously advocated a world criminal court and Clinton himself called for it in his 1998 visit to Rwanda, his personal authority was eroded at the crucial time by the domestic fallout from his affair with Monica Lewinsky. After her blue dress was taken by the FBI for DNA analysis, he capitulated to the Pentagon, which had for some months been briefing the military attaches of its allies that the Court was a danger to soldiers of the Western alliance. Jesse Helms, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced that the Rome Treaty would be 'dead on arrival' in Congress if there was any prospect of the indictment of a single American soldier....

    The US delegation rejected the principle of universal jurisdiction over war crimes and crimes against humanity (other than genocide) so vehemently that the US Defense Secretary William Cohen threatened Germany and South Korea with a US troop pull-out if they persisted in their support for the Statute.
    Trump is really not much of an anomaly after all, is he?

    So, rather than hound his administration for the ongoing horrendous war crime of 40,000 Iraqis crushed to death in their homes by American bombs or shot to death in the streets of Mosul by American-made guns, the media-political complex is instead hounding him for canoodling with a slimy bunch of Russian oligarchs. These are some of the same characters who were originally aided and abetted in the plunder of their nation by the "Harvard Boys" of the Clinton era.

    Since these things are too horrific to report, and since such journalism would be against the best interests of the global ruling class, it behooves them to change the narrative and divert the attention. They've concluded that it's better to hound Trump for RussiaGate and for his slaughter of the English language than it is to howl in outrage about his administration's slaughter of human beings.
              Scicafe: Snakes of Madagascar        
    In this podcast, join herpetologist Frank Burbrink on a journey to the remote forests of Madagascar, where his team recently discovered several new species of reptiles. Hear tales of life in the field and discover how DNA analysis helps identify new species in the lab. This SciCafe lecture took place at the Museum on May 3rd, 2017. This lecture included many original photographs, which can be seen in the video version by visiting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyfFSpEZ-vE To learn about upcoming SciCafe events, visit amnh.org/scicafe. For a full transcript of this podcast, visithttp://www.amnh.org/explore/news-blogs/podcasts/scicafe-snakes-of-madagascar The SciCafe series is proudly sponsored by Judy and Josh Weston. SciCafe: Ghost Snake Stories in Madagascar, and related activities are generously supported by the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) program of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
              Law & Order in Real Life        

    This article won a CASE gold award for Best Articles of the Year.

    By Rand Richards Cooper ’80

    144320400

    Every now and then, an interview subject presents an almost surreal smorgasbord of topics. For instance: how many Americans would you be able to ask, “What happened when mob chief Joe Bonanno walked into your office and surrendered?” and “Tell me about the debutante cotillion you attended at the White House in 1938 for Eleanor Roosevelt’s niece”? Exactly one, I suspect, and that unique American would be Robert Morris “The Boss” Morgenthau ’41—boyhood pal of JFK, ex-Navy officer, failed candidate for governor of New York and, until his retirement last year at 90, the perpetual Manhattan district attorney, elected to office not once, not twice, but nine times.

    Morgenthau is a figure of tantalizing paradoxes: a reedy patrician who became a gravelly voiced, profane prosecutor; the scion of a wealthy family and graduate of Deerfield, Amherst and Yale who spent his career confronting every variety of urban depravity; a Jew, proud of his heritage, whose loss to Nelson Rockefeller in the 1962 governor’s race was once attributed to his not knowing what a knish was; a self-described “shy” person whose work placed him at the center of New York City’s raucous politics, linked him to some of the most notorious names of 20th-century America—and made him the model for the DA in the long-running TV drama Law & Order.

    To meet this legend of law enforcement, I made my way to 52nd Street and the offices of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, the vaunted litigation firm where Morgenthau was hired in January 2010, three weeks after his retirement as DA. His secretary of 36 years, Ida, showed me into a room that seemed less an office than a U.S. history exhibit. Among war-bond posters and framed drawings of naval destroyers were photos of Morgenthau with LBJ, JFK and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as a handwritten 1936 note from FDR to Morgenthau’s father, Henry, then U.S. Treasury secretary and a close friend of the Roosevelts. One sepia photograph portrayed the future DA as a boy equestrian, astride a horse in full flight over a barrier. A more recent photo showed him looking distinctly great-grandfatherly with his two children—the younger is 20—from his second marriage, to writer Lucinda Franks. I also spied a framed editorial from the Amherst Student of Jan. 22, 1940, introducing Morgenthau as the new editor-in-chief.

    Eventually the man himself arrived, natty in pinstripes and suspenders, taking a seat behind his desk and fumbling with an FM transistor hearing aid. “Nothin’ works!” he growled, tossing it aside. On his cluttered desktop I glimpsed a printed-out schedule. 8 a.m. breakfast with Mayor Bloomberg, Gracie Mansion. 8 p.m. Tina Brown party for Marlo Thomas. At 91, Morgenthau is still in demand.

    I told him how I’d prepared myself for our interview—by searching the New York Times archives for every article with his name in it. “My sympathies,” he chuckled. He was right. The archive dive ran to 4,881 articles, a richly documented (and strenuous) journey through Morgenthau’s life. A city has a life story, too, and for the next three hours, mixing serpentine digressions with the blunt and pithy remark, the ex-DA gave me a personal tour of his Manhattan, where he has lived all his life. Morgenthau has an amazing memory; he routinely quotes decades-old newspaper articles and judicial opinions verbatim. Whatever he couldn’t recall was quickly supplied via a shout to the outer room. (“Idaaaaa! What was the name of that destroyer—the one that blew up in New York Harbor during the war?”)

    Morgenthau was born nine months after the end of World War I, and his earliest New York memories are of the city during Prohibition—his father, he said, “got a little moonshine now and then”—and of growing up on West 81st Street, half a block from Central Park. He recalls his Manhattan childhood, he told me, “with a lot of affection”: racing streetcars, waking at night to the rumble of the elevated train on Columbus Avenue, heading to the Polo Grounds to see the baseball Giants, going with his parents to Schrafft’s for ice cream. He and his pals spent afternoons exploring the maze of woodland pathways in the Central Park area known as The Ramble. “This was a much more personal city then,” he says. “The cop at 81st Street and Central Park West—he knew everybody. He’d say hello to you.”

    An iconic New York City childhood, but not exactly a typical one. Morgenthau’s grandfather, Henry Morgenthau Sr., was a Manhattan real estate mogul, and amid the depths of the Depression, the grandson enjoyed a life of privilege. His parents’ friendship with the Roosevelts conferred novel distinctions: as a teenager he roasted the first hot dog ever served to the British royal family, during a visit of King George VI to Hyde Park. Indeed, the very first Times article about the future DA strikes a distinctly ripped-from-the-society-page note. “Robert Morgenthau Has Trophy of Hunt,” announces the July 26, 1934, Times, reporting on a 200-pound grizzly the 14-year-old shot while spending his summer vacation on a dude ranch in Montana. “It was a .25-35 pump-action Winchester,” Morgenthau recalled with enthusiasm. “The gun that saved the West!”

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    Morgenthau's office is a U.S. history exhibit. Among war-bond posters and drawings of naval destroyers are photos of the ex-DA with LBJ, JFK and Martin Luther King Jr.

    That bear, stuffed and mounted, held a spot of honor by the fireplace in his room at Alpha Delta Phi fraternity—surely the most unusual conversation piece in the annals of Amherst frat furnishings. At Amherst, along with editing the Student, Morgenthau founded the Political Union (first guest speaker: Eleanor Roosevelt), majored in economics and political science and took a course in celestial navigation that stood him in good stead when he enlisted in the Navy upon graduating. An officer on the USS Lansdale, he was aboard the destroyer in April 1944 when it was sunk by German bombers. In the hours he spent adrift before being rescued, he found himself thinking intensely about what to do with his life if he survived. “I guess I started making promises,” he told me. “There I was, floating around the Mediterranean—and it sounds kind of corny now, but I decided to devote my life to public service.”

    Morgenthau returned to go to Yale Law School and take his place among the best and the brightest. Named U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York by President Kennedy in 1961, he began building a reputation as a painstaking and indomitable prosecutor. He was never a courtroom lawyer, however. “Good trial lawyers grow like leaves on trees,” he likes to say, quoting his mentor, the late Supreme Court Justice Byron “Whizzer” White. White advised him that the true challenge was to run the best office. And by all accounts, Morgenthau did. Over the decades he would pioneer major upgrades to prosecuting cases in New York, from computerization to videotaped confessions and DNA analysis. In the process he would oversee thousands of lawyers, not a few of whom would go on to fame or notoriety—Andrew Cuomo, Sonia Sotomayor and Eliot Spitzer, to name three—and become a kind of one-man networking maven. Morgenthau never planned to become a living legend. I asked him what he would have said if someone had told him in 1961 that 45 years and some three and a half million cases later, he’d still be New York’s prosecutor.

    He laughed. “I’d have said, You’re out of your fucking mind!’”

    Following Morgenthau’s footsteps over a half-century of prosecutions makes for a fascinating sociological trip. Crime comes in a thousand varieties, and each decade brought its own particular flavor. The early 1960s involved Morgenthau in Cold War intrigues straight from a John le Carré novel. One case put him on the trail of a Soviet spy, a femme fatale who was the mistress of the senior counsel to a Big Three automaker. Another involved two businessmen who sold appliances to stores on military bases in Europe and created a bogus European partner as a way to siphon off profits. A lawyer in Liechtenstein, a certain Herr Buehler, represented the ghost partner, and when he visited the United States on business, Morgenthau had him arrested and brought before a grand jury. “Within the hour, I have a call from the general counsel of the CIA. Says he’s coming up in an hour and a half to see me, if it’s convenient. Tells me he’s taking the company helicopter!” Herr Buehler, it turned out, represented a number of CIA operatives, and the agency wanted him kept out of the limelight. So they cut a deal: Buehler would turn over his documents on the corrupt businessmen, and Morgenthau’s office would leave him alone.

    Throughout the 1960s, Morgenthau led a tireless crusade against what he still calls “La Cosa Nostra.” A 1964 Times photo shows him briefing his good friend Robert F. Kennedy, then the U.S. attorney general, on his investigation of the Genovese and Gambino families. He remains proud of the achievement. “We convicted more mobsters than anybody else in the country, including the Department of Justice,” he says. Some of Morgenthau’s 1960s cases reflect that decade’s fractious politics: prosecuting a black-liberation group plotting to blow up the Statue of Liberty, for instance, or having police arrest four editors of the New Left magazine Ramparts for having their draft cards burned in an image reproduced on the magazine’s cover (Morgenthau ultimately did not indict).

    His tenure as a federal prosecutor came to an end in early 1970, when he was ousted by Richard Nixon. I asked about Ralph Nader’s public claim at the time that Morgenthau was “on the brink of recommending a number of prosecutions on very high levels.” True, Morgenthau said. “I was looking into Nixon’s representation of [Dominican dictator Rafael “El Jefe”] Trujillo. Trujillo had a Swiss bank account set up by Nixon, and I thought Nixon had a Swiss bank account too.” Morgenthau told me that his office was also investigating powerful Nixon supporters, including a major brokerage firm and the chairman of the SEC. “I got a letter from the assistant AG in charge of criminal investigations—who was a crook, subsequently indicted and convicted—directing me to drop that investigation.” He shook his head in disgust. “People forget. I mean, Nixon’s crew—these were a bunch of thieves.”

    Morgenthau left, but he was by no means done fighting crime in New York City; in fact, he’d only begun. In 1974 he surprised political observers by agreeing to run for Manhattan DA, following the death of the legendary Frank Hogan. “I had no interest in being a judge,” Morgenthau says, explaining his decision. “I’m an activist. I don’t want to sit on the bench.” Moreover, his wife of 29 years, Martha, had just died, and with five children to care for, he needed a job that didn’t involve travel.

    Taking office in 1975, he faced a city in dire distress. New York was bankrupt, and Washington refused to bail it out, prompting the famous Daily News headline: Ford to City: Drop Dead. Indeed, the city seemed to be dying. This was the decaying, graffiti-riddled New York reflected in such films as the Charles Bronson Death Wish movies, which depicted violent mayhem committed by roving predators. In Morgenthau’s first press conference, he vowed to fight the surge in violent crime that was overwhelming the city. But as the Times noted, he faced “a long, uphill struggle” and did so with an office both understaffed and underpaid: the starting salary for his prosecutors was $13,000, and more than once Morgenthau had to dig into his own pocket to help fund an investigation. Things would get worse before they got better. The “Son of Sam” shootings terrorized the populace in 1976 and 1977. A blackout in July 1977 triggered massive looting and violence and added to the image of a hopelessly demoralized city. At one point, a state senator accused Morgenthau of being “lax on pimps.”

    I asked Morgenthau: was this the absolute nadir for New York? “Well,” he said, “it was pretty goddamn low.”

    Manhattan in 1975 had 648 murders, he recalled with a wince—50 percent more than in Brooklyn. “People were afraid to go out at night. There was a lot of crime, and the thing fed on itself. The streets were empty, and that created more crime.” Coming home late at night, Morgenthau himself adopted a routine precaution. “I wouldn’t walk on the sidewalk. I’d run down the street, so no one could jump out and grab me.” It’s a startling picture: the city’s chief prosecutor, sprinting down his own street for fear of being mugged. Morgenthau would do his best to change things. But first he’d have to weather the crack epidemic of the 1980s. With police making 1,500 drug arrests a month in Manhattan alone, Morgenthau in desperation took to the pages of the Times, writing four op-ed articles on the topic in less than two years, beginning with his February 1988 plea, “We Are Losing the War on Drugs,” bemoaning “the sea of narcotics that inundates us daily” and demanding federal action.

    The era of violence culminated in two notorious cases. In December 1984, subway vigilante Bernhard Goetz brought the Death Wish vision of New York to life, pulling out a revolver on the No. 2 express train and shooting four young black men he said were trying to rob him, wounding one of them critically. The shootings ignited a fierce debate that tore the city in half. When Morgenthau decided to pursue major felony charges against Goetz, including attempted murder, he received a flood of hate mail—“more hostility,” the New York Times reported, “than at any other time in his 24 years in public life.” The DA found himself squeezed between those who saw Goetz’s actions in the crime-ridden subway system as justified self-defense and those, including vocal black leaders, who complained bitterly that the shootings legitimized the targeting of black youths. The case dragged on through three rounds of indictments before ending in June 1987 with Goetz’s acquittal on 12 out of 13 charges. Morgenthau made no apologies. “This was a case that had to be tried,” he said at a press conference following the verdict. “The public was entitled.” The trial, he said further, “was fair to the people and fair to Mr. Goetz.”

    Barely had New York weathered the Goetz controversy when it found itself confronting the horrifying case of the Central Park Jogger, a 28-year-old investment banker raped and beaten nearly to death one spring night in 1989. The assailants were initially believed to be a group of marauding teens who had beset the park that night in a spree of violence known as “wilding.” Police obtained confessions from five African-American teenagers, and Morgenthau’s office convicted all five. But a judge overturned those convictions in 2002 after a man named Matias Reyes, a convicted rapist and murderer serving a life sentence in an upstate prison, confessed to the crimes. When DNA analysis bore out his claim, Morgenthau recommended that the five convictions be vacated.

    The Central Park Jogger case still bothers Morgenthau. He wouldn’t go into detail, because former defendants are currently suing the city, but he notes that while few people initially found Reyes’ claim plausible, he insisted on checking it out. “I said, ‘Lets get the DNA.’ And when that came back, and it matched the DNA from the Central Park Jogger, for my money, the game was over.” Not everyone agreed. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly lashed out against Morgenthau’s office, insisting that Reyes could not have acted alone. Morgenthau disagreed. He quoted to me at length from New York state law to explain the import of newly discovered evidence. The law is the law, he insists. “All the reporters back then were asking me, ‘What’re you gonna do?’ And I said, ‘For Chrissakes, read the statute!’ And except for one reporter, nobody would read it.”

    The attack in Central Park entangled the city in a nasty web of violence, racism and fear, a dread-stricken atmosphere that Times columnist Bob Herbert described in a 2002 piece titled “That Terrible Time.” “New York in 1989,” Herbert wrote, looking back on the era, “was a city soaked in the blood of crime victims. Rapists, muggers and other violent criminals seemed to roam the city at will. Gunfire and the horrifying screams of the mortally wounded were common. Someone was murdered every four or five hours.”

    Nowadays, such lurid descriptions are hard to believe. Manhattanites live in a clean, safe city, its former war zones transmogrified into glossy tourist sites; a city where high-profile crimes run to accounting frauds, stock schemes, international banking intrigues and other malfeasances of the Wall Street ascendancy. Morgenthau left office having helped reduce Manhattan’s murder total by nearly 90 percent, making it one of the safest places to live in America—safer than Boston, Omaha or Glendale, Ariz., for that matter.

    The former DA says he was always reluctant to accept praise for reducing crime. “But I think we did a number of things right,” he adds. “I always said: it’s not the length of the sentence that matters; it’s prompt and certain punishment. And that’s what we concentrated on. Somebody committed a crime, we’d work to promptly arrest him, get him in front of a grand jury, prosecute him and put him in jail.” That made a major difference, he insists. “When I left office, you were twice as likely to be indicted and go to prison if you were arrested in Manhattan than if you were arrested in Brooklyn. We were down to 58 murders—and Brooklyn had almost three times as many.”

    Dissertations have been written and academic careers forged in the attempt to explain the steep drop in violent urban crime in the United States over the past two decades—even as law-enforcement agencies and leaders have scrambled to take credit. Is it neighborhood policing? An improved economy? The so-called “broken windows theory,” which proposes that cutting down on minor crimes such as vandalism and panhandling will reduce general lawlessness? The answers remain elusive, nowhere more so than in Manhattan. I put it to Morgenthau: How did you do it? How does anyone manage a turnaround like that? What’s the secret?

    He grinned, his ice-blue eyes narrowing a little bit. “Well, we told prospective murderers, ‘It doesn’t pay to commit murders in Manhattan.’ And I think they heard us.”

    CHUNG-chung!

    New York, Morgenthau likes to point out, is one of the most diverse cities on earth. For law enforcement this can be a challenge—the languages, the crisscrossing turf boundaries, the cultural mélange. New York is also one of the most creative cities on earth, and what will strike anyone who plows through the Times archive is the stupendous array of strange cases Morgenthau’s office handled over the years—crimes that mixed ingenuity, stupidity, cupidity and the just plain weird. Like the Suntan Smuggler, who got a prison employee to sneak a tube of lotion into the Federal House of Detention, the Times of March 18, 1966, reported, in order to help him “attain a healthy, outdoor look” while “lolling on the outdoor recreation solarium” of the prison. There was the Frozen Lasagna Caper, in which detectives discovered a cache of $17,000 in $50 bills, stolen by two warehouse employees, between layers of frozen lasagna. The Mechanic from Hell, who charged $1,000 for replacing a coil. The Green Card Bride, who married 27 times. And then there was the Hell’s Kitchen case of the Check-Cashing Corpse, in which two elderly men were arrested after pushing a dead body, seated in an office chair, into a check-cashing store. Morgenthau chuckled mordantly, remembering it. “They were wheeling this guy right in, and he was dead! He was their buddy, and they were trying to cash his Social Security check. They dressed him up, they were moving his arms, the whole thing.”

    Other cases were simply horrific. A dentist who molested women unconscious in his chair. A social worker who convinced a client to withdraw her life savings from a bank and then murdered her. Two men indicted for raping and torturing a nun, cutting 27 crosses into her. I asked Morgenthau: what does dealing with such depravity year-in and year-out do to your view of human nature?

    He shrugged off the question: “I always tried not to get emotionally involved in any case. You lose your objectivity.” But he remembered the nun case well, he said. “She actually had been raped before and was in the care of a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist said that under no condition whatsoever would he permit her to testify to a grand jury. So we had to get an indictment with no witnesses. Then we had to negotiate a plea with no witnesses. I think we got 12 years. Pure bluff.” For a moment he seemed lost in thought. “You know, the tabloids were screaming for more. I talked to the Cardinal about it, Cardinal Cooke. He understood. But I got criticized for undue leniency.”

    It wasn’t the first time Morgenthau was called lenient. His stance on the death penalty drew particular criticism. New York restored capital punishment in 1995, and publicly Morgenthau refused to rule out seeking the death penalty. Yet he never asked for it in any of his office’s cases, and over time it became clear he was conducting a prosecutorial filibuster on the matter, earning himself the epithet (from Times columnist Joyce Purnick) of “The Artful Dodger.” I asked him about it. Philosophically, he said, he was always opposed to the death penalty. “The only rationale for it was deterrence, and that didn’t work. So really the only thing remaining was vengeance—and vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord. I just didn’t think it had any place in a civilized society.” He tapped the table emphatically. “When the death penalty reenactment bill was up, I talked to legislators, and you know what I told them? ‘You ought to amend this bill so that if it’s enacted, it provides for executions on the steps of the Capitol at high noon, with all legislators required to attend.’”

    Seeming flustered, he rooted around on his cluttered desktop until something caught his eye. “What the hell is this?” he muttered, holding up a letter. “Idaaaaaa! Find out if I’m supposed to do this, will ya? Call Cuomo’s secretary!” With a satisfied “harrumph,” he tossed it aside. He’d swerved past a moment of introspection and found his mojo again.

    For a lifelong prosecutor at the end of his career, there’s something bizarrely Proustian in the time-capsule roll call of names and cases down the decades. Take, for a random example, the swath of notoriety Morgenthau’s investigations cut through the 1980s alone: Claus von Bülow, the John Lennon murder, Joel Steinberg and Hedda Nussbaum, Tawana Brawley, Leona Helmsley, the Tompkins Square melee, John Gotti, Father Ritter and Covenant House… I wondered what it must be like to have Morgenthau’s scrapbook.

    Not that the man himself is particularly Proustian about it. I invited him to assess the ups and downs of his long career. What would be his greatest triumphs? The inroads he made into the mob? His bold—and successful—1991 indictment of BCCI, a $20 billion bank with offices around the globe, for what he called “the largest bank fraud in world financial history”? And how about his greatest defeats? Would it be his three-time failure to get a conviction against ex-McCarthy wunderkind Roy Cohn? Or perhaps the Central Park Jogger reversal?

    “I don’t believe in looking back,” he said quickly, declining the invitation. “I have no regrets.”

    No regrets at all? Not even about not becoming governor? That nearly happened, after all. I reminded him of the newspaper story recounting an incident in the early 1970s, when Morgenthau and another lawyer ran into criminal court judge Irving Lang in the street at lunchtime, and Morgenthau joked to the lawyer, “See what hardworking judges we have here? Irving just bought a piece of fried chicken, and now he’s going right back to the bench.” And Lang laughed and retorted, “Bob, this is a knish, not fried chicken. If you knew that, you would be governor today.

    Morgenthau chuckled, clearly enjoying the story. “No regrets,” he said again.

    Well, except one, perhaps. “You know that series on TV—the one where the DA was supposedly based on me? I had lunch with the guy. Adam Schiff.” (In fact, that was the character’s name on Law & Order; the actor was Steven Hill.) “He was good. He went over a lot of things with me: How would you do this? How would you respond to that? And so on. I answered his questions. And I said, Adam, if you ever decide to retire, let me know, because I want your job. He was reportedly getting $25,000 an episode. But he double-crossed me! They replaced him, and I never got the job!

    I had to laugh. When Morgenthau retired as DA, the Times—in the last of the nearly 5,000 articles I looked at—noted that “after decades in public service, he intends to make a salary in the private sector that is more reflective of his stature.” You have to admire someone who decides, at 90, that it’s time to go for the big bucks.

    I thought about Law & Order, a favorite show of mine for years, and how aptly it reflected what I’d learned about Morgenthau and his career. It’s all there: prosecutorial bluffs; the thrill of taking on powerful institutions and individuals, even the president of the United States and his cronies; the daily rub of political reality against personal beliefs; the pressure of the gruesome; the glare of publicity; and the relief provided by the mordant witticism. In 2000, Morgenthau indicted the rapper Sean Combs following a nightclub shooting. The day of Combs’ grand jury testimony, a mob of paparazzi gathered outside Manhattan Criminal Court, waiting for Combs and then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez to arrive. As the Times reported, when a Lincoln town car with tinted windows pulled up, “cameramen and fans pressed forward for a precious brush with fame. But instead of an alluring young actress or stylish rap star who goes by the name Puff Daddy, Robert M. Morgenthau, Manhattan’s 80-year-old district attorney, stepped out. ‘Shoot,’ Mr. Morgenthau said, eyeing the crowd around him. ‘I meant to wear my dark glasses today.’”

    I meant to wear my dark glasses. I could hear that line being spoken by the late, great actor Jerry Orbach, whose hard-bitten detective, Lennie Briscoe, typically uttered the sardonic quip that capped the teaser scene of each Law & Order episode. Shot on location in the city, the show was drenched in local color, spiced with tough-guy attitude and repartee and structured atop a recurring conflict that sums up the central paradox of Robert Morgenthau: how to rescue, again and again, an underlying idealism—“the timeless principles of liberalism and compassionate humanitarianism” that Mayor Robert F. Wagner invoked while endorsing Morgenthau for governor in 1962—from beneath the mountain of jadedness that New York dumps on it. How do you maintain illusions with no illusions?

    It’s a question that even a nonagenarian may pause over. “We were of that postwar generation,” Morgenthau mused aloud at one point in our conversation. “We thought we could save the world.”

    What happened?

    “Well, we didn’t.” He laughed, quietly. “We didn’t.”

    Meanwhile, there were always cases to prosecute—millions of them, it turned out—a quick lunch to gobble down (“Idaaaaaa!”) and solace to be found in a prosecutor’s knowledge that while the instruments of avarice and cruelty may change with time, the melody remains the same. At his last press conference as Manhattan DA, Morgenthau forswore any and all valedictory poetry and served up instead a smile and a prosecutor’s parting wisdom: “If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

    Rand Richards Cooper ’80 is working on a book about late-onset fatherhood.

    Photos by Gregory Heisler


              Asia Lung Cancer Summit in Hong Kong Targets Precision Medicine        

    Oncology experts gather in Hong Kong to share insights and know-how on early cancer diagnosis

    HONG KONG, July 25, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Oncology scientists, medical practitioners, carers and healthcare administrators gathered at Hong Kong Science Park on 22 July 2017 in order to share insights, know-how and experience in the treatment of lung cancer and the use of precision medicine technology at the conference titled "Precision Medicine and High Quality Biomarker Testing in Asia".

    On behalf of the organisers, Professor Tony Mok, Chairman of the Department of Clinical Oncology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (Right), presented certificates of gratitude to the guests of honour, Mr. Leon Wang, EVP, International & China President of AstraZeneca (China), Mr. Zhi-ming Liu, Deputy Inspector, Department of Educational, Scientific Technological Affairs, Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong SAR and Mrs. Fanny Law, Chairperson of HKSTP. (From left to right)
    On behalf of the organisers, Professor Tony Mok, Chairman of the Department of Clinical Oncology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (Right), presented certificates of gratitude to the guests of honour, Mr. Leon Wang, EVP, International & China President of AstraZeneca (China), Mr. Zhi-ming Liu, Deputy Inspector, Department of Educational, Scientific Technological Affairs, Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong SAR and Mrs. Fanny Law, Chairperson of HKSTP. (From left to right)

    The event was held at Hong Kong Science Park and was co-organised by Hong Kong Cancer Therapy Society, the Hong Kong Association of Community Oncologists, the Hong Kong Society of Clinical Oncology, and supported by Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation and AstraZeneca. The Scientific Collaboration Partner of the conference is Sanomics Ltd., a start-up in Hong Kong Science Park specialising in blood-based genomics technologies for cancer patients.

    Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, claiming more than 1.6 million lives each year -- more than breast, colon and prostate cancer combined. Not only smokers get lung cancer but about 51% of the world's lung cancer cases occur in Asia[1], while it accounts for 21% of cancer deaths in the region[2]. In addition to the current treatment approaches precision medication uses DNA analysis for early detection of cancer and to identify therapies that are tailored for individual patients has become an emerging added solution in the cure of lung cancer.

    The well-timed conference drew experts in Asia to discuss and examine the progress of high quality biomarker testing in the region. It also put heavy emphasis on the need for collaboration and why Hong Kong, with its expertise in precision medicine, genome analysis and nano-technology in the field of cancer management, is a natural regional hub for research, development, clinical application and investments in this field.

    Genomics biomarkers essential for personalised cancer management

    Mrs. Fanny Law, Chairperson of Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation, in an opening address at the conference, said advances in precision medicine have transformed healthcare and treatment of diseases. Predictive diagnosis and personalised treatment tailored to each person's genetic makeup and the genetic profile of the tumour can enhance efficacy and minimise adverse effects.

    "Precision medicine faces many challenges in clinical application and this requires collaboration between all stakeholders," said Mrs. Law. "The therapeutic prospects of precision medicine are enticing, spurring enterprising researches around the world. Today genetic testing is available for over 2,000 clinical conditions and the number of available diagnostic test is increasing exponentially."

    Mr. Tony Yung, Chief Executive of Sanomics, said: "Our work on precision medicine effectively supports the decision-making of oncologists based on information about genetic alternations in tumour DNA. Once clinically significant genetic alternations are identified, specific treatments can be aimed at the tumours. These have a much higher chance of achieving desirable clinical outcomes."

    Hong Kong has a key role in research and dissemination of knowledge on cancer

    "The uniqueness of Sanomics' approach is making use of bodily fluids, such as blood, to screen for genetic alternations when tumour tissues are not available. We call it "liquid biopsy", which is faster, less risky, more convenient and more practical in the clinical setting. We are now building Asia's first hub for liquid biopsy here in Hong Kong, and will lead the region in the use of genomics for personalized management of cancer," said Mr. Yung. "The breakthroughs we achieved not only exemplify the research and development excellence of Hong Kong's biomedical experts but also our strengths to identify and resolve challenges for the Asia healthcare sector."

    Hong Kong Science Park has more than 80 biotechnology companies with business scope that spreads across medical devices, research on stem cells, genomics and regenerative medicine, molecular diagnosis, as well as R&D on Chinese and Western medicines. All of these, in their differing ways, contribute to an ecosystem that's highly conducive to research. Importantly, clinical data from Hong Kong is recognised by the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) for registration and approval purposes, making it an ideal testing ground for emerging therapies and devices. 

    "A year ago, the CFDA accredited two phase 1 clinical trial centres in Hong Kong and accepted clinical trial data from Hong Kong for registration and approval purposes," said Mrs. Law.  "Looking to the future, we must all seize the opportunities arising from the Hong Kong Shenzhen Innovation Technology Park along the border between the two cities and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area to enlarge Hong Kong's capacity for biomedical research and development to meet the growing demand for better health care for the ageing population both in Hong Kong and Mainland China."

    "Our aspiration is for the Greater Bay Area to be an innovation hub with global impact. And within this area, the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park will be a powerhouse of research where great minds from Mainland China, Hong Kong and the rest of the world meet and work together," continued Mrs Law.

    Besides Mrs. Law and Mr. Yung, other keynote speakers at the conference included: Prof. Tony Mok, Chairman, Department of Clinical Oncology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong; Mr. Leon Wang, EVP, International & China President of AstraZeneca (China); and Prof. Yilong Wu, Director of Guangdong Lung Cancer Institute and Vice-president of Guangdong General Hospital (China).

    [1] Source: World Cancer Report 2014.Steward, Bernard and Wild, Christopher (eds). (2014)


    [2] Source: World Health Organization. Globocan 2012: Estimated Cancer Incidence, Mortality and Prevalence Worldwide in 2012 (2015): http://globocan.iarc.fr/Pages/fact_sheets_cancer.aspx.

     

    Group photo of Mrs. Fanny Law, Chairperson of Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation, Professor Tony Mok, Chairman of the Department of Clinical Oncology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Mr. Tony Yung, Chief Executive of Sanomics, the scientific partner of the conference (Second from the right) as well as the guest of honour and the speakers at the conference.
    Group photo of Mrs. Fanny Law, Chairperson of Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation, Professor Tony Mok, Chairman of the Department of Clinical Oncology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Mr. Tony Yung, Chief Executive of Sanomics, the scientific partner of the conference (Second from the right) as well as the guest of honour and the speakers at the conference.

    About Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation

    Comprising Science Park, InnoCentre and Industrial Estates, Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) is a statutory body dedicated to building a vibrant innovation and technology ecosystem to connect stakeholders, nurture technology talents, facilitate collaboration, and catalyse innovations to deliver social and economic benefits to Hong Kong and the region.

    Established in May 2001, HKSTP has been driving the development of Hong Kong into a regional hub for innovation and growth in several focused clusters including Electronics, Information & Communications Technology, Green Technology, Biomedical Technology, Materials and Precision Engineering. We enable science and technology companies to nurture ideas, innovate and grow, supported by our R&D facilities, infrastructure, and market-led laboratories and technical centres with professional support services. We also offer value added services and comprehensive incubation programmes for technology start-ups to accelerate their growth.

    Technology businesses benefit from our specialised services and infrastructure at Science Park for applied research and product development; enterprises can find creative design support at InnoCentre; while skill-intensive businesses are served by our three industrial estates at Tai Po, Tseung Kwan O and Yuen Long.

    More information about HKSTP is available at www.hkstp.org.

    Photo - https://photos.prnasia.com/prnh/20170725/1906132-1-a
    Photo - https://photos.prnasia.com/prnh/20170725/1906132-1-b



              On This Day        
    10th July

    988 – The city of Dublin was founded on the banks of the river Liffey in Ireland.

    1040 - Lady Godiva stripped and rode round the streets of Coventry in her birthday suit, to protest the heavy taxation imposed by her husband, Lord Leofric, the Earl of Mercia.
    1212 – The most severe of several early fires of London burnt most of the city to the ground.

    1460 – Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick defeated the king's Lancastrian forces and took King Henry VI prisoner in the Battle of Northampton.

    1553 – Lady Jane Grey took the throne of England for - nine days. Awww bless.

    1778 – Louis XVI of France declared war on the Kingdom of Great Britain.

    1856 – Nikola Tesla was born.

    1913 – Temperatures in Death Valley, California hit 134 °F (~56.7 °C), which is the highest temperature recorded in the United States.

    1938 – Howard Hughes set a new record by completing a 91 hour airplane flight around the world.

    1940 - The German air force, the Luftwaffe, attacked shipping convoys off the south-east coast of England launching the Battle of Britain.

    1962 – Telstar, the world's first communications satellite, was launched into orbit.

    1964 - The Beatles returned from their US tour to Liverpool, just in time for the premiere of their film A Hard Day's Night.
    1973 - The Bahamas became an independent nation.

    1985 – Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior was bombed and sunk in Auckland, New Zealand Harbor by French DGSE agents.

    1991 – The South African cricket team was readmitted into the International Cricket Council (ICC) following the end of Apartheid.

    1996: The bodies of Lin Russell and her six-year-old daughter Megan were found half a mile from their home in Kent. Nine-year-old Josie Russell - also found at the scene - recovered from serious head injuries. In October 1997 a man was arrested for the murders.

    1997 – Scientists in London reported their DNA analysis findings from a Neandertal skeleton which supported the out of Africa theory of human evolution placing an "African Eve" at 100,000 to 200,000 years ago.

    2000 – A leaking southern Nigerian petroleum pipeline exploded, killing about 250 people.

              Investigation Announcement: Multistate Outbreak of Human Salmonella Typhimurium Infections Associated with Lab Exposure        
    Infected with the Lab Strain of Salmonella Typhimurium, by state

    CDC is collaborating with public health officials in many states to investigate a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium infections associated with exposure to clinical and teaching microbiology laboratories. Investigators are using DNA analysis of Salmonella bacteria obtained through diagnostic testing to identify cases of illness that may be part of this outbreak.


              The Beast of the Bluffs: Have Cougars Returned to Central Illinois?        
    It had been a frustrating late April 2005 morning of turkey hunting. John [not his real name] and his father-in-law had conceded that they were destined to return to their Jacksonville homes—which weren’t too far from the densely wooded area in which they were currently hiding—gameless. John would not go home though without a great story.
    It was pre-sunrise, but the sky was lit enough to see clearly. John’s hunting partner was the first to step out of the woods into a vast, still untilled field.
    “Whoa, stop!” shouted John, who was just emerging from the woods some fifteen feet behind his father-in-law.
    Oblivious to what was in front of him, his father-in-law unfortunately turned his head back to inquire as to his concern and missed once again the object of it.
    “As I followed him out of the woods here,” John recalled from the same location days later. “I saw it there, crouched low in the field not far from [my father-in-law]. It couldn’t have been more than twenty-five feet in front of him, but he didn’t seem to see it. It was huge, I would guess six to seven feet long. It was definitely a cat.”
    “At the very moment that he turned his head back to see what had startled me, [the big cat] bolted off that way, covering thirty feet in just two or three bounds in about two seconds,” said John. “By the time I pointed in front of him and he turned back, it had easily cleared a five-foot fence and was back in some tall, dense shrubs...gone...I would guess that it was headed toward Mauvaisterre Creek. I was, sadly, the only one to see it. It was definitely a big cat...a black panther...are there cougars around here?”
    Unfortunately for John, the official answer to that question is “no”.
    The only “big” cat recognized as a resident of Illinois is the bobcat—and even they are not all that big. They are, by all statistical measures, making an amazing population recovery in certain parts of the state, and certainly one of them would be startling to see for one not expecting a large feline.
    “I have seen bobcats before while hunting. This was certainly not a bobcat. Not with the size of this thing. It was way beyond a bobcat. This looked like a dark-colored cougar,” John explained.
    A similar beast was also sighted just outside of Jacksonville in the opposite direction of John’s sighting, closer to the small village of Murrayville.
    “Three or so years ago, I am positive I saw a large tan cat in a grassy area near my home,” said a rural-living Murrayville grandmother. “It was as large as a retriever-type dog, and had a long cat-like tail. It was an extremely brief sighting and I have not seen it again. However, there are rumors that another elderly neighbor lady’s family had some concerns about her safety because a large cat had been sighted in her back yard near where she dumps scraps. The area is wooded, surrounded by fields and meadows east of Murrayville and northwest of Nortonville. I personally wish to remain anonymous since my family thinks I am a crazy old lady. Of course they thought the same thing twenty or so years ago when I first told them I heard a turkey, and now they are a common sight.”
    Gerald Day was residing near Walkerville in the late spring of 2003 when his opinion on the existence of cougars in Illinois was cemented into a “without a doubt certain” position.
    “I was looking out a window at a field, when out of some bordering timber stepped a cougar,” Day recalled. “It was yellow or tan and was some two hundred feet away. It had a really long tail and was about the same size as a lab dog, but this was definitely a cat. My family was in the house, so I called to them and got multiple witnesses, but unfortunately we did not have a camera ready before it went back in the timber.”
    The cougar (often commonly known by alternative names such as puma, mountain lion and panther) is classified by the Illinois Natural History Survey as being an extirpated species. It is commonly believed that the last free roaming cougars in Illinois were shot and killed in the 1880’s. Most government wildlife agencies maintain that, outside of the subspecies known as the Florida Panther, there are no longer any active cougar (Felis concolor cougar) populations east of the Mississippi River.
    Authorities are quick to admit though that there are a number of cougars, both legal and illegal, being kept by individuals as “pets” in Illinois. Though the state’s laws preventing the importation and keeping of big cats were strengthened in the 1980’s, a black market for exotic animals has always thrived. It is to the possibility of intentional or inadvertent escapees from this stock of caged cats that state officials and academics have always attributed cougar sightings in Illinois. That is until everything changed on July 15, 2000.
    It was on this date in Randolph County that a chance collision between a tawny cougar and a train gave science their first Illinois carcass to study. The specimen was diagnosed as a healthy male that had a DNA configuration that matches the wild populations of the western states. The Illinois State Academy of Science proclaimed it to be the first documented wild cougar found in Illinois in 135 years.
    Four years later, a hunter in Mercer County, near New Boston, stumbled across another dead cougar; this one had succumbed to a wound apparently from an arrow. The body was turned over to Dr. Clay Nielson of Southern Illinois University who specializes in the study of big cats. This too was a large (84 inches from head to tail) male with a stomach containing wild game it had hunted and grasses—a common occurrence in wild bobcats. A DNA analysis for the cat has not yet been released.
    When asked about cougars in the state, Bob Bluett, a certified wildlife biologist with the Department of Natural Resources, confirmed that it “seemed likely” that the Mercer County cat was indeed of wild stock and that the two males “fit the profile of pioneering individuals”.
    Most male cougars are known as transients, lack a distinct territory and can travel as many as thirty miles in one night. These transient males though can set up territories of 20-40 square miles and will eventually seek out multiple transient females who will remain then within the territory. The monogamous females generally produce one to six offspring every two years.
    But have cougars really returned to Illinois? Is there a permanent, albeit small, residential, breeding population in central Illinois?
    If there are cougars in Illinois, there is perhaps no one who had a better chance of coming across one in his professional career than Dennis Langellier—and come across cougars he did. Langellier is a former state employee who was daily required to drive from Jerseyville to Mt. Sterling, a path that runs parallel to the heavily wooded bluffs of the Illinois River.
    Langellier’s first sighting occurred on a sub-zero January morning in 1994 as he was heading north (just south of Exeter). Not one but two full-sized cougars crossed the road a quarter of a mile in front of him. As his car neared where they crossed, he saw them roughly twenty-five feet from the highway.
    “I would guess that each was two hundred pounds in weight. They were tan colored and both had long tails,” he said. “From what I know about them, they are solitary creatures. The only time more than one are seen together is a mother with her young. Though they were both large...full grown...I can only assume that that is what I saw.”
    His second sighting occurred six years later during the summer of 2000, not far from the first. It was on Route 100, not more than a half of a mile south of Interstate 72, that another tawny yellow big cat crossed fifty yards in front of his car.
    “This cat wasn’t either of the ones I had seen before. This one was not as big...it was still big, just not full grown. Still a cougar though, no doubt,” he said.
    “My oddest sighting though was fairly recent. I live in rural Patterson along some woods and a creek. This was a couple winters ago. I was outside working when I see this big cat—all black—come out of the creek bed and jump over my fence and head back into the woods. This didn’t look like a cougar to me, but it was no house cat. It was at least three times as big as a house cat and had a really muscular rear end and a long tail like a cougar. I don’t know what it was, but I saw it,” he said.
    Like Langellier, Vic Lanzotti logs more miles on west central Illinois’ back highways than most of us could imagine in his job as a FedEx Express Driver for the counties of Morgan, Scott, Greene, and Macoupin. And like Langellier, he too came across a cougar two years ago, in mid-July, and enjoys sharing other stories he has been told because of his sighting.
    “[It was] in Green County, east of White Hall, in the Apple Creek Bottom. The cat crossed the road in front of me and jumped the ditch into corn about five or six feet tall. There goes the ‘knee high by the 4th of July’ saying”, said Lanzotti. “I was reluctant to tell anyone, but I had some friends I trusted and as it turns out a few had also seen big cats. A Lady in White Hall had seen a black cat—cougar size—cross the road south of Greenfield on 108. Another farmer from Carrollton saw a large black cat cougar in about the same area. There is a farmer in Eldred that says a mother and cub wintered in a hollow on his place close to Spanky on the Macoupin Creek. Several people have said the Conservation Department has released cougars in areas where the deer are in high concentrations and places where there are heavy deer road crossings. The same people have said Conservation won’t admit the releases because of probable liabilities.”
    It seems that conspiracy theories are inevitable in any situation where unexplained phenomena and the government intersect. Just less than half of all those interviewed as first-hand witnesses and those who related second-hand stories of cougars for this article expressed a belief that the big cats were indeed released by the Department of Natural Resources secretly.
    This Roswellian idea of a government cover-up is most popularly promoted by Virgil Smith of Harrisburg who insists that a group he founded, Shadows of the Shawnee, secretly worked in conjunction with a government agency and received grant funding from large insurance companies to release twenty-six cougars in southern Illinois. Calling in to local and national radio programs, Smith insisted that the state now boasts a cougar population nearing three hundred. Former Natural Resources Director Brent Manning firmly denied all of Smith’s claims.
    “Repeated requests not withstanding, Mr. Smith failed…to produce just one piece of irrefutable, tangible evidence to support his allegations,” said Manning in 2001. “We believe he hasn’t produced such evidence for one simple reason—he doesn’t have any.”
    While Smith has never retracted his statements, as the IDNR has insisted he should, it must be admitted that even if there were a couple hundred big cats in our state, with as reclusive and intelligent as these creatures are, “irrefutable, tangible evidence” of their means of entry into the state would be difficult to produce.
    When contacted, Smith declined to give further information on his claim, saying that it might compromise an ongoing investigation.
    “A great deal of the information that we have concerning the cougars in Illinois and thirteen other states is considered evidence in an investigation into the release of the same. Our project will be going to the president of the United States, and on to congress, with a recommendation for a formal congressional inquiry. So as you can see, this is very serious and we consider ourselves public advocates,” said Smith.
    Dave Holterfield of Beardstown doesn’t put much faith in the “the-government-is-releasing-cougars” rumors though; he insists that they have always been in Illinois. He accepts that the beasts may be expanding their territory, but believes that they have always haunted the secluded corners of the state. To back his claims, Holterfield tells four tales from his younger years.
    Holterfield was born and raised “in the hollers and hills of Calhoun County”, a region renown for and often proud of being behind the times. His family in 1958 was still without indoor plumbing and his father, though he owned a primitive tractor, still plowed much of his land with a team of horses. It was in this year that while his father was leading these horses, their reins wrapped around his shoulder, over a hill where the family had planted “taters” that the senior Holterfield first saw the beast. At the crest, he stopped the team to rest and roll a cigarette.
    It was in mid-roll that he spotted a full-grown cougar emerging from the dense woods surrounding the farm approximately 50 yards away. The cat most definitely spotted him and his team. Its waving tail and dead stare left no doubt of its awareness. Holterfield reached for his pocket knife, even though he fully realized it would be of little help against an attack from the seven-foot long cat. The real danger to his father though, Dave explained, was not the cat itself, but the reins his father had firmly wrapped around himself. Had the horses, which were oblivious to the predator’s presence, been downwind of the cat’s scent and gotten spooked, Dave might have grown up fatherless.
    Not less than a year after this incident, young Dave himself came face-to-face with the cat.
    Holterfield explained: “The sun wasn’t up yet, but there was plenty of morning light to see by. I was headed out to the privy, and had just stepped out of the house when...there it was, just sitting there on its haunches. It was huge, tawny and just staring at me. ‘Damn’ is all I could bring myself to say. I ran back inside and woke my dad shouting ‘that cat is out there again!”. He got his gun, but by the time he got out there, it was gone. I’ll never forget how long its tail was.”
    Years later, the Holterfield’s had a pig go missing. After a short search, Dave found it...part of it. The entire front half was missing.
    “It was not torn apart like coyotes would do, it was cleanly cut in half,” said Holterfield.
    In 1972, Dave married a young lady from Hamburg. It was on a trip to visit his new in-laws, while driving on the road from Mozier to Kampsville, that he saw, just lounging not twenty feet of the side of the road, a pair of juvenile, tawny cougars.
    “They were half the size of the cat I seen years before,” Holterfield explained, “but there was no mistaking it...they were not bobcats or big house cats. You could see it in their haunches, head and tail. These were cougars. No doubt about it. But I didn’t say a thing when I saw them. My wife and I kept driving in silence for several minutes when she asked, ‘Did you see what I saw?’ I just said ‘Yes, I did’ and we drove on.”
    Not long after that, Holterfield moved to the Beardstown area and hasn’t seen a cougar since. But, just a few months ago, while at a tavern in rural Schuyler County, his friend, Joe, walked in looking like he had seen a ghost.
    “You are never going to believe what I just saw...a huge black cat. Not a cat, but a black panther!” Joe exclaimed.
    Black Panthers in Illinois? If the Department of Natural Resources is denying the proliferation of Illinois cougars, they are downright laughing at the thought of “big black cats” in the state. But don’t be too sure.
    Kathy Thompson owns forty-five acres of land situated right between Rushville and the Littleton Township in Schuyler County and insists that she saw the same thing—what she described as a black cougar. It was towards the end of the summer of 2003, approximately at 4 PM when she spotted the huge cat running fast, not fifty yards from her, across her property.
    Homer Briney is a down-to-earth, successful farmer owning a large plot of land up on the Illinois River bluffs just north of Beardstown, but his blacktopped driveway is currently anything but normal. Made in late spring after a heavy rain (and preserved through much of the summer through the lack thereof) is a trail of mud prints crossing the drive. Each footprint is just over four inches wide and three and a half inches long. Briney is convinced they are from the feet of a large cougar. Admittedly, cougar prints and dog prints are quite similar, the primary difference lying in the rear lobes of the ball of the print, which were, unfortunately, poorly distinguishable in the muddy imprints.
    “I believe there is a cougar living in the bottoms near my farm,” said Briney. “We have the perfect environment for one out here. Two winters ago, a friend of mine was hunting on my property and shot a huge buck. It was so big that he had problems moving it, so he called me. It had started to rain, so I told him ‘Let’s get it in the morning’. Well, the next morning we go to right where he knew it was and it is gone! We searched everywhere and eventually found it some five hundred feet away. All that was left was the skin, the end of the legs and most of the head. It wasn’t ripped apart like coyotes would do. This was different. That was a three hundred pound buck, dragged that far.”
    He claims that the same thing happened this last winter to a deer that was hit on the road in front of his house. They found very similar remains dragged into a field near his home.
    “The night that these prints were made, my dog (a loved and pampered pug mix) acted really strange, standing at the back door being protective, but at the same time you could tell that it was scared to death,” said Briney. “My neighbors have seen it! They were sitting on their back porch at dusk when it came out of the woods, crossed behind their garden and disappeared back into the woods. They said it was jet black, definitely a cat and monstrous in size!”
    In this very rural area, Briney’s “neighbors” live scores of acres north of Briney. Sandwiched between the two homesteads are deep, dense almost impenetrable lowland woods that look far more like the Shawnee Forest than any of the plains of central Illinois.
    Melanism, the condition of a furbearing mammal being born with too much melanin and appearing all black, is as rare as its opposite phenomenon, albinism. In a small population with a limited gene pool, the occurrence of such an individual could skew its collective genome and cause the rate of incidence of such individuals to increase. This has been documented in remote coyote populations.
    The problem with this hypothesis though is that, outside of a singular photograph from Puerto Rico dating from the early twentieth century, no scientific documentation of a truly melanistic cougar exists. The commonly used term “black panther” is generically utilized to describe two different species, the genetically recessive melanistic phases of the jaguar and the leopard. Neither of these cats exists—in any genetic state—in the United States. The sheer number of reports of big black cats in Illinois and across the Midwestern United States puts an odd, almost X-files-like twist into the mainstream biological discussion of whether the western cougars have permanently migrated east of the Mississippi.
    Based on State Police reports and the carcasses found, two facts are inarguable: attracted by our large deer population, transient male cougars do occasionally roam into Illinois from the western states and cougars are certainly kept secretly and illegally in “home zoos”, often by less-than-responsible parties. With these two polar theories of origins, it must be noted though that a person placed in the very frightening and potentially dangerous position of meeting a cougar face-to-face would find the argument over whether this beast’s ancestry was of North American wild stock or of a captive breed South American genome a highly irrelevant and moot point at that moment.
    Officially, the answer to the question of whether cougars are really back—having established a resident breeding population in Illinois—must still be “unknown”. The search for them though and the insistent stance from both sides of the controversy have begun to resemble a Midwestern version of the Northwest’s “Bigfoot”.
    Maurice Hornocker, the director of the Hornocker Wildlife Institute at the University of Idaho and the first to utilize radio telemetry in field studies of cougar movements and travels, said recently, “[Cougars] will hit the Mississippi in the next decade. The Midwest is beautiful cat country, full of deer and cover.”
    Ask some folks in rural central Illinois though and they will tell you that Dr. Hornocker’s projection is behind schedule by about a decade or so.
              Substantiating Audubon's Washington Eagle        
    This paper originally appeared in The Meadowlark: The Journal of the Illinois Ornithological Society

    For over one hundred years, ornithologists have been in general consensus that John J. Audubon's enormous (10+ wingspan) "Bird of Washington" (Washington eagle) was a classic case of misidentification. New research now shows that it may have truly existed until modern times.
    Firstly, my apologies to those who do not like long blog entries. This is not short. The following entry was a paper I composed that was originally published in two ornithological jounrals, Meadowlark: The Journal of Illinois Birds and The Ohio Cardinal: The Journal of the Ohio Ornithological Society. Only, if you are not a member of either of these ornithological societies, one could not be exposed to the findings. Therefore, I have chosen to finally publish the paper here, as a means of opening it to the public at large for comment and review:

    Substantiating Audubon’s Washington Eagle

    It is widely known that American statesman Benjamin Franklin lobbied for the wild turkey to serve as America’s national bird, but few know which species the great naturalist John James Audubon would have promoted had he had a voice in the matter. His preference can be gleaned from the following excerpt from his early writings, in his Ornithological Biography (1840):

    …it is indisputably the noblest bird of its genus that has yet been discovered in the United States, I trust I shall be allowed to honour it with the name of one yet nobler, who was the saviour of his country, and whose name will ever be dear, to it. To those who may be curious to know my reasons, I can only say, that, as the new world gave me birth and liberty, the great man who ensured its independence is next to my heart. He had a nobility of mind, and a generosity of soul, such as are seldom possessed. He was brave, so is the Eagle; like it, too, he was the terror of his foes; and his fame, extending from pole to pole, resembles the majestic soarings of the mightiest of the feathered tribe. If America has reason to be proud of her Washington, so has she to be proud of her great eagle. (Audubon 1999:220)*

    Audubon had admired, studied, and painted both bald and golden eagles, but this “great eagle” he lauded as “mightiest of the feathered tribe” was neither of these. North America was once home to no less than seven species of eagles, but the demise of the great mega-fauna that once dominated the New World landscape and the emergence of humans onto the continent had whittled the number of native species to two long before Columbus arrived (Brodkorb 1964, Howard 1930 & 1932). That is, unless one considers certain writings of the early nineteenth century; it is here archivists find Audubon’s (and others’) detailed descriptions of a possible third American eagle species surviving into the modern era: the “great eagle”—the Bird of Washington.
    Over many decades, this bird was given several consubstantial names: Washington’s eagle, Washington’s sea-eagle, Washington eagle, and the great sea-eagle. Audubon’s most frequently used appellation was the “Bird of Washington.” For simplicity’s sake, the bird will herein be referred to as the Washington eagle.
    This impressive bird was a favorite of Audubon’s, eliciting euphoric expressions of the sentiments inspired by sightings of the species:

    It was in the month of February 1814, that I obtained the first sight of this noble bird, and never shall I forget the delight which it gave me. Not even HERSCHEL, when he discovered the planet which bears his name, could have experienced more rapturous feelings (Audubon 1999:217).

    Later, upon finally acquiring a specimen, he described himself as filled “with a pride which they alone can feel, who, like me, have devoted themselves from their earliest childhood to such pursuits, and who have derived from them their first pleasures” (Audubon 1999:220).

    * All references herein to the writings of Audubon are to C. Irmscher’s superb Library of America edition (1999).

    Even as Audubon first published and described the Washington eagle as the ninth and largest of the world’s species of sea-eagles, he recognized the bird as already exceedingly rare and possibly near extinction (Aud.1829:116). Audubon referred to it in correspondence as the “great rara avis” (Rhoads 1903:382). It was popularly accepted as a unique species throughout Audubon’s lifetime, and included as a good species in texts by the most reputable ornithologists (Cassin 1853). It was not long after its inclusion in his Ornithological Biography in 1831, however, that the Washington eagle was labeled as suspect among some naturalists. In 1838, Jared P. Kirtland, in the course of cataloguing Ohio’s birds, hinted at this doubt by using the phrase “if it be a true species” when referring to the Washington eagle. Misgivings he may have harbored did not prevent him from later recording a sighting of a Washington eagle on a Cleveland beach in 1842 (Christy 1936).

    Though the great eagle’s rarity and the fact that such an enormous bird had so long escaped description were primary causes for consternation among early critics, the mere fact that it was Audubon who had first encountered it was enough for the most vocal of them. Audubon was never at a loss for detractors of his written and artistic works. Their attacks were most notoriously orchestrated by George Ord and Charles Waterton, and played out in personal correspondence (including a ten-page letter/thesis Ord sent to Waterton, arguing that the Washington eagle could not have been as large as Audubon described) as well as in scathing papers, many of them published in Loudon’s Magazine of Natural History during its early years of publication 1831-1835 (Souder 2004:323, Klauber 1971:493). Audubon seldom replied publicly to such abuse, commenting that “[t]o have enemies is no uncommon thing.” Eventually, these canorous critiques cost Audubon certain impressions of credibility that ultimately hindered the acceptance of his Washington eagle, along with those for other natural phenomena he had witnessed and described.

    When Audubon illustrated mockingbirds for his Birds of America, he depicted them defending a nest against a rattlesnake. His enemies and deprecators assailed him on this, arguing that rattlesnakes cannot climb trees (Herrick 1917). Observations in times to come, however, have justified Audubon’s artistic license and showed that rattlesnakes can and do indeed climb trees, though rarely (Klauber 1971:493-494). Likewise, until his death Audubon was accused by botanists of having fabricated the presence of the “yellow water-lily,” which he included in his Birds of American under the name of Nymphaea lutea. Only decades later in 1876 was his defiant refusal to retract his depiction justified by the “rediscovery” of the long-lost plant in the Florida Everglades (Lockwood 1877, Davis 1997).

    Following Audubon’s death in 1851, incredulity about the Washington eagle accelerated to the point that a generation later it was said only “amateur ornithologists” still considered it a valid species (Allen 1870:525). When asked to comment on the Washington eagle, the eminent Elliot Coues was quoted as saying, “I wonder how many times the ‘Washington eagle’ must be put down before it will stay down! As a species, it is a myth...” (Gilpin 430).

    Today, it is universally believed that the few Washington eagles Audubon and others saw and expounded upon were not members of a previously unidentified eagle species, but were rather a common bird known long to naturalists: the northern subspecies of the bald eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus alascanus in its immature state of development. In early days, the immature bald eagle was sometimes referred to as a separate species: the brown or sea eagle, Falco ossifragus, but the best early naturalists, Wilson and Audubon among them, soon recognized the true relationship. Critics explain that Audubon was unacquainted with the distributional, developmental, and sexual-dimorphic variations in the bald eagle’s size and the multiple plumages involved during its development to maturity (Durant et al. 1980:61, Allen 1870:525). While it is true that the immature stages of the bald eagle are generally brown, it would be hasty to unquestioningly conjoin the two birds without a thorough discrimination of their traits, and an examination of Audubon’s detailed physical description of a specimen. It would also be unjust to such a noble bird, if it were to have existed, to brush it aside with so little ado.

    To make a case for the existence of the Washington eagle and prove that the Washington eagles were not immature bald eagles, it is necessary to rebut historical and contemporary skeptics by demonstrating that the bird’s distribution, morphology, and ethology lay outside the accepted range of variation for the bald eagle, especially those of its juvenal stages.

    If indeed the Washington eagles were simply immature northern bald eagles, they should have been seen and noted quite frequently in Audubon’s winter travels along the Mississippi, Ohio, and Missouri rivers. Indeed, his river journals are replete with sightings of “brown eagles,” but Audubon was aware of Alexander Wilson’s theory that these “brown” and bald eagles were of the same species (Audubon 1999:17), and even noted for the uninformed reader that the term “brown eagle” is used “meaning the White-headed eagle (Falco leucocephalus) in its immature state” (Audubon 1999:218). The sole time within his 1820-21 journal that he references the then-unnamed Washington eagle, the addendum “i.e. S. Eagles” [sea eagles] was added to the label of “brown eagles” to clarify the difference. Here he noted that the “S. Eagles” he had seen previously—the Washington eagles—were “at least ¼ longer” than the bald and brown eagles he was encountering on the lower Ohio River (Audubon 1999:19).

    Audubon recorded numerous encounters with the abundant bald/brown eagles in his lifetime, but only five sightings of the Washington eagle. In chronological order, these occurred on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers near the cities of Grand Tower, Illinois; Evansville, Indiana; Henderson, Kentucky; Clarksville, Indiana; and Mound City, Illinois. The five sightings involved ten birds (never more than two adults in any one area), yielded a close observation of a nesting pair complete with two young, and resulted in the acquisition of one spectacular specimen.
    Ironically, it was near his residence in Henderson, Kentucky that Audubon, who claimed to always carry a gun, finally managed to bring a Washington eagle down as it scavenged at a pig slaughter. Audubon writes how he, like a schoolboy who stumbled upon a treasure, quickly wrapped the bird up and ran with it to the home of Dr. Adam Rankin. Rankin, a long-time resident on the Ohio River and an experienced hunter, proclaimed of the bird that “he had never before seen or heard of it” (Audubon 1999:220). Together they undertook a meticulous study of the specimen and Audubon recorded the following qualitative description:

    The male bird weighs 14 ½ avoirdupois, measures 3 ft. 7 in. in length, and 10 ft. 2 in. in extent. The upper mandible dark bluish black. It is, however, the same colour for half its length, turning into yellow towards the mouth, which is surrounded with a thick yellow skin. Mouth blue; tongue the same; cere greenish-yellow; eye large, of a fine chestnut colour, iris black, the whole protected above by a broad, strong, bony, cartilaginous substance, giving the eye the appearance of being much sunk. Lores lightish blue, with much strong recumbent hair; upper part of the head, neck, back, scapulars, rump, tail coverts, femorals, and tail feathers, dark coppery glossy brown; throat, front of the neck, breast, and belly, rich bright cinnamon colour; the feathers of the whole of which are long, narrow, sharp-pointed, of a hairy texture, each dashed along the center with the brown of the back; the wings, when closed, reach within an inch and a half of the tail feathers, which are very broad next to the body. Lesser coverts rusty iron grey, forming with that colour and elongated oval, reaching from the shoulders to the lower end of the secondaries, gradually changing to the brown of the back as it meets the scapulars. The secondaries of the last middle tint. Primaries brown, darkest in their inner veins, very broad and firm; the outer one 2 ½ in. shorter than the second, the longest 24 in. to its root, about a half an inch in diameter at the barrel. The under wing coverts iron grey, very broad, and forming the same cavity that is apparent in all of this genus with the scapulars, which are also very broad. Legs and feet strong and muscular: the former one and a half inches in diameter; the latter measuring, from the base of the hind claw to that of the middle toe, 6 ½ in. Claws strong, much hooked, the hind one 2 in. long, the inner rather less, all blue black and glossy. Toes warty, with rasp-like advancing hard particles, covered with large scales appearing again on the front of the leg, all of dirty strong yellow. Leg feathers brown cinnamon, pointed backwards.

    The following is Audubon’s abbreviated version which he included in his Ornithological Biographies.:

    Tarsus and toes uniformly scutellate in their whole length. Bill bluish-black, cere yellowish-brown, feet orange-yellow, claws bluish-black. Upper part of the head, hind neck, back, scapulars, rump, tail-coverts, and posterior tibial feathers blackish-brown, glossed with a coppery tint; throat, fore neck, breast, and belly light brownish-yellow, each feather, with a central blackish-brown streak; wing-coverts light greyish-brown, those next the body becoming darker; primary quills dark brown, deeper on their inner webs; secondaries lighter, and on their outer webs of nearly the same light tint as their coverts; tail uniform dark brown (Audubon 1840:1:56).

    Audubon’s description, and the painting that corresponds to it, concern two significant anatomical features that differentiate the specimen from the bald eagle.

    1) The Washington eagle’s cere is conformed in a manner unlike any known variation in bald eagles.
    2) The uniform scaling found on the Washington eagle’s tarsus is unknown at any stage of bald eagle development (Mengel 1953:145-7, Allen 1970:526).

    Regarding the unusual uniform tarsal scutellation, Allen hypothesized that as the
    Washington eagle was one of the first figures Audubon published, that this characteristic had not been accurately drawn and that his written description, published years later, was made from his flawed rendering rather from the specimen itself (Allen 1870:526). This hypothesis is nullified though by Audubon’s oft-overlooked earliest published account of his eagle where he noted that his description is “described and faithfully figured from a fresh-killed specimen” (Aud. 1829:120). Though both Allen and Mengel assert that Audubon did not preserve his type specimen, this supposition is dubious as, in an 1838 letter to Edwin Harris, Audubon indicated that he did indeed still possess a Washington eagle specimen (Rhoads 1903:382).

    Gilpin, who viewed tarsal scutellation as a valueless specific character of eagles, offered an explanation for the appearance of the unique scales. He asserted that because of Audubon’s choice of angle of view, and the figure’s position atop a rock in the illustration, the eagle’s tarsal and phalangeal scutellation appears continuous and that, in the same position, any bald eagle might present the same appearance (Gilpin 1873:429). This optical illusion theory, however, fails to take into account Audubon’s detailed and corresponding published description. Gilpin was unable to explain either the inscrutable uniform size of the scutellae or the continuity of each as described by Audubon.

    Audubon described the Washington eagle as being staggeringly large—three feet seven inches in length, and possessing a wingspan of ten feet two inches—eclipsing any raptor native to North America and matching that of any known worldwide. These stunning dimensions opened a floodgate of criticism of Audubon and his great eagle. Modern commentators accuse Audubon not only of grossly exaggerating or even intentionally falsifying the Washington eagle’s measurements, but also of mis-sexing it (Mengel 1953:149). Again, Audubon refutes this inaccuracy by emphatically noting that the “sex [was] well ascertained at the time the bird was killed” (Aud. 1829:120). Earlier critics were more forgiving, one of them observing for example that “a few grains of allowance must be safely made for slight inaccuracies on the part of its enthusiastic discoverer” (Allen 1870:527).

    Evidence, and perhaps proof, of the impressive magnitude of the Washington eagle was provided by the meticulous technique Audubon employed to insure that his paintings for the Birds of America were life-sized. He utilized for each an identical double-grid system—one behind his mount and the other for his folio—to match his image with the specimen. Audubon biographer William Souder provides the following quantitative analysis of Audubon’s paintings of the adult bald eagle, the immature bald eagle, and the Washington eagle made on an original double-elephant folio:


    With the postulation that the inner wings are proportionally larger, the Washington eagle’s wingspan, as painted, would exceed the Audubon’s bald eagle by over 55 cm, making Audubon’s measurement of ten feet two inches legitimately possible.

    Audubon described the Washington eagle as brown in its plumage—uniformly and without blemish. There are two more or less brown eagles known in America today: the golden eagle and the immature bald eagle. Therefore, some have hypothesized that the birds Audubon identified as Washington eagles were actually oversized golden eagles. That speculation, though, is undermined by the fact that Audubon was quite familiar with the distinguishing extended leg feathers of the golden eagle, which clearly reveal it to be of a different genus from that of the sea eagle. The Washington eagle’s preference for, and skill at, fishing also clearly places it in the genus of sea-eagles rather than with the golden eagles (Audubon 1999:219).

    It is worthy of note that in Audubon’s accounts of his five Washington eagle sightings he does not mention any variation in the birds’ appearance or size. Because he penned his Ornithological Biography entry on the bird long after his last sighting, it must be assumed that the eight adult birds he observed were similar to the type specimen he possessed.

    Through their first four to five years of life, bald eagles exhibit six distinct plumages. Two of these are poorly differentiated; collectively known as the juvenal plumages, they occur within the first year of life. Immediately following are four distinctive molts in as many consecutive years, culminating in the well-known adult plumage (Gerrard 1978, Harmata 1984).

    The only bald eagle developmental stages that demonstrate any degree of superficial affinity to the Washington eagle are the juvenal plumages of the first twelve months of life (Fig. 2). Even Audubon admitted that the juvenile stages of both the bald and Washington eagles resemble each other in outward appearance, but appends this by emphasizing that the size difference is great and that such likenesses cease in mature birds (Aud. 1829:116) Regarding Audubon’s type specimen, Coues insisted that it was “a big, youngish bald eagle—the two-year-olds of which, before getting the white head and tail, are usually larger than the mature birds” (Gilpin 1873:430). Coues was underpinning Gilpin’s assertion that immature balds often exceeded adults in wingspan by more than a foot (Gilpin 1873:430). Reiterating this misunderstanding more than half a century later, T. Gilbert Pearson established “misidentification” as the official Audubon Society stance on the Washington eagle (Pearson 1926:81). Modern published sources do not support Gilpin and Pearson’s claims, however, as the differences between immature and mature bald eagles’ wing spans average only two to five centimeters, depending on the bird’s sex (Harmata 1984, Imler 1955). These differences—primarily in contour wing feather length—are insufficient to account for the size differences measured and observed between the bald and Washington eagles.

    Developmentally, several facts argue against the idea that the Washington eagles were oversized first-year bald eagles:

    1. All immature bald eagles have some degree of white mottling, markedly at the wing pits (Domazlicky 1992:6, Stalmaster 1987:12). Additionally, first-year bald eagles have nape and contour feathers with white bases, making them appear mottled (McCollough 1989:2-3). The Washington eagle was never described with any white mottling.
    2. Audubon observed a breeding pair with nestlings. While it is known that fourth- and rarely third-year bald eagles—the appearances of which are markedly different from the Washington eagle—are occasionally capable of reproduction, only two documented instances in which both partners were immature exist, and both involve a fourth-year individual that would show unmistakable signs of being a bald (Buehner 2000:19, Stalmaster 1987:46, McCollough 1989:6).

    Audubon even suspected Wilson of the same misidentification gaffe. Wilson included the Washington eagle in his early works, but Audubon remained certain that Wilson “had confounded [the Washington eagle] with the bald…one of the young of which he has given the figure of, to represent it…I am strongly inclined to believe that he never saw [a Washington eagle]…had he met with it, [he] could hardly have fallen into so great an error” (Aud. 1829:116).
    The sheer size of Audubon’s randomly collected specimen places the Washington eagle outside the realm of what is known of bald eagles’ sizes at any stage of development. After a statistical analysis, a frustrated Mengel conceded that the Washington eagle was too large to be considered a bald eagle of either sex of either the southern or northern race (Mengel 1953:148). The most astonishing feature of Audubon’s specimen is that it was a male. With reverse sexual size dimorphism applying to eagles, the measurements of Audubon’s specimen may be presumed smaller than the species’ potential. The difference in size between Audubon’s male and the upper-extreme measurements of female northern bald eagles is significant enough to justify subspecies recognition by most taxonomists (Mengel 1953:147).
    Consider the following comparative measures (Washington eagle measurements offered are metric equivalents of those in Audubon’s Ornithological Biography):

    1. The Washington eagle, from beak to tail, measured 110 cm. The known range for northern bald eagles is 71-96 cm (Palmer et al. 1988).
    2. The Washington eagle’s wingspan of 310 cm surpasses the largest known bald eagle by 66 cm. The wingspan range for northern bald eagles is 200-244 cm (Stalmaster 1987:12).
    3. The average length of an adult male northern bald eagle’s hallux is 3.98 cm while the Washington eagle’s measures 6.35 cm (Bartolotti 1984).
    4. In northern bald eagles, the range of bill lengths is 4.17-6.06 cm, with a male juvenile mean of 5.04 in length and 3.22 in depth (Bartolotti). The Washington eagle possessed a bill 8.26 cm in length and 4.45 cm in depth.
    5. Immature northern bald eagles have wing chords ranging from 54.1-69.2 cm, with northern males averaging 60.1 cm (Bartolotti). The Washington eagle’s wing chord was 79 cm.

    Washington eagles nested not in trees, but rather in ground nests built on rocky cliffs adjacent to water (Nuttall 1832). Surveys of 899 bald eagle nest structures east of the Mississippi River revealed no ground nests (Stalmaster 1987:184-5). Ground nests are used by bald eagles only in treeless areas (Buehler 2000:15), which does not describe the lush lower Ohio River valley where Audubon observed breeding Washington eagles.
    It was also noted by Audubon that the Washington eagle’s flight was:

    …very different from that of the White-headed Eagle. The former encircles a greater space, whilst sailing keeps nearer to the land and the surface of the water, and when about to dive for fish falls in a spiral manner, as if with the intention of checking any retreating movement which its prey might attempt, darting upon it only when a few yards distant. (Audubon 1999:221)

    In addition, the Washington eagle did not share the bald eagle’s bullying and piratical behavior towards the osprey (Nuttall 1832).
    Mengel argued against the Washington eagle’s existence because there is no fossil record of any other species of Haliaeetus in the United States. His error, though, was referencing only a search of Pleistocene tar pits in Rancho La Brea. This location is some 3000 km from the Washington eagle’s winter habitat, which was described as the northern Great Lakes (year round), with winter visitations to southern Illinois/western Kentucky (Nuttall, 1832).
    Many authors imply that Audubon was the sole observer of this species. In fact many others reported having seen one. In 1838, Edward Harris told Audubon he had seen this majestic eagle (Rhoads 1903:382). Kirtland recorded a firsthand sighting in 1842 in Ohio (Christy 1936). Dr. Lemuel Hayward of Boston acquired a live Washington eagle and was said to have kept it for “a considerable time”; while in captivity, he described the bird as being “docile” (Nuttall 1832:71). The bird was eventually delivered to the Linnaean Museum in London. Nuttall mentions having examined a specimen in the New England Museum, as well as another preserved male, as long as and heavier than Audubon's 14.5-lb specimen, displayed at a small museum in Philadelphia (Nuttall 1832: 72). Richard Harlan, the esteemed author of Fauna Americana (1825) wrote to Audubon that he had acquired a specimen from the Brano Museum, where Audubon had earlier examined it and declared it identical to his rendering; Audubon had attempted to purchase the specimen, but could not afford the price asked. Harlan avers he subsequently deposited it in the museum of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (Audubon 1999:221). The whereabouts of this specimen today are unknown. The New England Museum and the Cleveland Academy of Science listed Washington eagle specimens in their catalogs during the nineteenth century. Literature concurrent with Audubon’s implies that multiple birds were known to have been kept and raised in captivity (Nuttall); Mengel, however, insisted that no specimen existed (Mengel 1953:150).
    Finally, many current biographers have cited the Washington eagle as but one more proof of Audubon’s self-aggrandizing and over-zealous temperament. An early biographer did not deny these Audubonian traits, but defended him by reminding readers that Audubon did have an occasional weakness for being careless in statements of matters of fact and that this did lead to a pervasive attitude of distrust in even his accurate writings (Burroughs 1902). What Audubon did prove in his lifetime though was that he was definitely not rafinesque.
    While few men’s names become adjectives, few men deserved it as much as Audubon’s brilliant but misunderstood 1818 houseguest, Constantine Samuel Rafinesque. In short, he was a naturalist who had come to America to fulfill his obsession: discovering new species. He was convinced that in America they were everywhere. We have an account of one comical scene in which he destroyed Audubon’s violin while using it as a weapon to procure a bat—he was convinced it was an unnamed species—that had flown in through an open window of the guest room. To poke fun at his mania, Audubon fabricated and sketched ten non-existent, fanciful fishes that Rafinesque, to Audubon’s embarrassment, later published in Europe and attributed to him (Rafinesque 1820, Audubon 1999). After having suffered such scorn and scientific discomposure in the 1820s, it is especially doubtful that he would have risked a similar fate a subsequent time by describing such an imposing new species within his area of expertise without being confident of its authenticity.
    Audubon’s conviction about the Washington eagle was reinforced in 1820 as he procured, studied, and painted a bald eagle specimen for four straight days, often forsaking sleep. Upon completion of this marathon and the completion of his painting of a juvenile bald eagle (plate CXXVI), he recorded in his journal that he was—as perhaps we today should also be—convinced that the Washington eagle was, at the time, indeed an exceedingly rare and distinctive species (Aud. 1999 Nov. 23).
    Today, the “Washington eagle” has become one with the northern bald eagle. By the 1950s, Mengel had pronounced it “virtually forgotten and long buried in the crypts of synonymy.” Modern revisionism has erased this bird from the annals of ornithological history, as exemplified by the replacement of Bowen’s original Washington eagle woodcut with one of a bald eagle in the popular Chamberlain edition (1929) of Nuttall’s Manual, or the Audubon Society’s Baby Elephant Folio edition of 1981, which has banished the name to a footnote.
    While morphometrical comparisons reveal that Audubon’s huge eagle was in all likelihood not an immature bald eagle, it is not feasible, without his specimen, to establish exactly what it was. It will only be through a methodical and open-minded examination of the catalogs of nineteenth-century museums and other collections, both here and abroad—one of which must it seems still contain a tagged Washington eagle specimen—and the use of modern DNA analysis that the answer to questions on the validity of Audubon’s enormous eagle will be finally established.
    Historical illustrations of Washington eagles can be found here.
    Acknowledgments:
    I would like to thank Bill Whan and Dr. Angelo Capparella for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper.

    Literature Cited

    Allen, J. A. 1870. What is the ‘Washington Eagle’? American Naturalist 4:524-527.
    Audubon, J. J. 1829. Notes on the Bird of Washington (Falco washingtoniana), or Great American Sea Eagle. Magazine of Natural History, 1, p. 115-120.
    Audubon, J. J. 1999. John James Audubon: Writings and Drawings. C. Irmscher, editor. New York: Library of America. No 113. 942 pp.
    Audubon, J. J. 1840-44. Ornithological Biography. 7 Vol. J. T. Bowen, Philadelphia.
    Audubon, J. J. Letter to Richard Harlan. 28 April 1836.
    Bartolotti, G. R. 1984. Sexual size dimorphism and age-related size variation in bald eagles. Journal of Wildlife Management 48:72-81.
    Brodkorb, P. 1964. Catalog of Fossil Birds, Pt 2 (Anseriformes through Galliformes). Bulletin of the Florida State Museum 8(3).
    Buehler, Davis A. 2000. Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). In The Birds of North America, No. 506 (A. Poole and F. Gill, Eds.). Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences, Washington, D. C.: The American Ornithologists’ Union..
    Burroughs, John. 1902. John James Audubon. Woodstock NY: Overlook Press.
    Cassin, John. 1853. Illustrations of the Birds of California, Texas, Oregon, British and Russian America. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co.
    Christy, B. H. 1936. Kirtland Marginalia. The Cardinal 4(4):77-89.
    Domazlicky, Ida. 1992. The Bald Eagle in Illinois. Wayne City, IL: Illinois Audubon Society.
    Durant, M., and M. Harwood. 1980. On the Road with John James Audubon. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co. p. 61.
    Friedmann, H. 1950. The Birds of North and Middle America. Part 11. Washington D.C.: U.S. National Museum Bulletin 50.
    Gerrard, J. M., D. W. A. Whitfield, P. Gerrard, and W. J. Maher. 1978. Migratory movements and plumage of subadult Saskatchewan bald eagles. Canadian Field-Naturalist 92:375-82.
    Gilpin, B. 1873. Variations in the Tarsal Envelope of the Bald Eagle. American Naturalist 7:429-430.
    Harmata, A. R.1984. Bald eagles of the San Luis Valley, Colorado: Their winter ecology and spring migration. Ph.D. diss. Montana State University, Bozeman. 1984.
    Herrick, F. H. 1917. Audubon the Naturalist: A History of his Life and Time. New York: Appleton.
    Howard, H. 1930. A Census of the Pleistocene Birds of Rancho La Brea from the Collection of the Los Angeles Museum. Condor 32(2): 81-88.
    Howard, H. 1932.“Eagles and eagle-like vultures of the Pleistocene of Rancho La Brea. Contrib. Paleont. Carnegie Inst. Washington 429:1-82.
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    Kirtland, J. P. 1838. Report on the Zoology of Ohio. Second Annual Report, Geologic Survey of the State of Ohio. Columbus.
    Klauber, Lawrence M. 1971. Rattlesnakes: Their Habits, Life Histories and Influence on Mankind. Univ. of Cal. Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles. Vol. I, 493-495.
    Lockwood, S. 1877. Audubon's Lily Rediscovered. Popular. Science Monthly 10:675-678.
    McCollough, M. A. 1989. Molting sequence and aging of bald eagles. Wilson Bulletin 101:1-10.
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              5 Ways Law Enforcement Will Use Tattoo Recognition Technology        

    There's an action movie cliché in which a cop inspects the body of a felled assassin or foot soldier and discovers a curious tattoo that ultimately leads to a rogue black-ops squadron, a secret religious sect, or an underground drug trafficking ring. 

    The trope isn’t entirely Hollywood fantasy, but the reality of emerging tattoo recognition technology is closer to a dystopian tech thriller. Soon, we may see police departments using algorithms to scrape tattoos from surveillance video or cops in the field using mobile apps to analyze tattoos during stops. Depending on the tattoo, such technology could be used to instantly reveal personal information, such as your religious beliefs or political affiliations.

    For years, law enforcement has used tattoos to identify criminal suspects as well as unidentified victims. Police have also used tattoos to map out subcultures and networks of gangs and hate groups. Until recently, however, tattoo matching and analysis has involved flipping through the pages of photo binders; any computer-assisted matching has been limited to metadata searches of keywords.

    NIST's Official Tattoo Recognition Technology Logo

    In 2014 and 2015, federal researchers at the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) joined forces with the FBI to launch a program to accelerate tattoo recognition technology. As part of Tatt-C (the code name for NIST’s "Tattoo Recognition Technology Challenge"), officials assembled a giant dataset of prisoner tattoos and divvied it out to biometric companies, research institutions, and universities. They were asked to run five experiments to show how well their algorithms could match tattoos under various circumstances. 

    Some tests involved matching different photos of the same person’s tattoo. Other experiments sought to match similar tattoos on different people based on their characteristics—such as a crucifix, Minnie Mouse, and Chinese calligraphy. These tests pose serious concerns for privacy, free expression, religious freedom, and the right of association.

    Each one of these experiments correlated to a specific law enforcement use. The Tatt-C results, released last summer, now serve as a crystal ball into what law enforcement has planned for this technology over the years to come.

    Here are the five tests and what they tell use about the future of tattoo recognition technology.

    Related: Learn why EFF is calling for an end to this research. 

    Note on the data: The Tatt-C dataset contained 15,000 images obtained by the FBI from prisoners. The dataset was split into subsets and sub-subsets for individual trials. Tatt-C participants self-reported their results, which were not independently verified. The percentages below reflect the accuracy within the experiment, and not necessarily how accurate the technology would perform in the real world.

    Tattoo Detection: Why would police want algorithms that can detect whether an image has a tattoo or not? 

    Any given law enforcement agency may be sitting on an immense, unsorted collection of images. Mugshots, scars, birthmarks, and tattoos—all mixed up together, some unlabeled, some mislabeled. Without computer assistance, it could take significant staff-power to sort through it all. NIST suggests that automated tattoo detection would streamline an agency’s ability to classify images.

    Perhaps the more concerning use case for privacy advocates is that tattoo detection technology would also pave the way for algorithms to isolate tattoos from images scraped from the Internet or captured by security cameras.  

    The bad news is the technology is already highly sophisticated. 

    Tatt-C’s research team reported back that three different organizations’ algorithms could detect a tattoo in an image with more than 90% accuracy.  The private biometric technology company MorphoTrak (a subsidiary of Safran) claimed the best result; their algorithm was able to detect whether an image contained a tattoo or not with 96.3% accuracy.

    Tattoo Identification: When we say biometrics, we are talking about unique physical or behavioral characteristics that can be used to identity you. Fingerprinting has been used by criminal justice agencies for over a century to identify suspects; tattoo recognition can be used in much the same way.

    Let’s say a cop is questioning someone on the street who refuses to provide an ID card. The officer could run a photo of one of the person’s tattoos through a database to find a photo of the same tattoo captured during a previous arrest. One situation NIST imagines is applying tattoo recognition technology to video surveillance of a robbery in which the suspect is wearing a mask but a neck tattoo is visible. 

    Just as facial recognition technology raises serious privacy concerns, people should be wary of tattoo recognition technology’s invasiveness. Not only can it identify everyday people caught on camera while going about their business, it could eventually lead to tracking people using their tattoos.

    NIST asked Tatt-C participants to match a photo of a tattoo to other pictures of the photo taken over time.  Four different companies and research institutions reported that their algorithm could return a hit on the first result with more than 95% accuracy. Again, MorphoTrak came out on top, returning a hit with 99.4% accuracy.

    Region of Interest: NIST uses “Region of Interest” to describe how well an algorithm can match a small piece of a tattoo to a wider image of the whole tattoo. For example, could the algorithm recognize that a tiny skull tattoo is part of a larger half-sleeve arm tattoo. 

    The idea here is that sometimes only a portion of a tattoo is caught on surveillance; is that enough to identify someone if police have the whole tattoo on file? This technology would also help police match a tattoo, even if the person subsequently added more to the design. 

    Yet again, MorphoTrak provided the most accurate results: the algorithm could return a hit on the first result with 94.6% accuracy. Purdue University, which has developed an app [.pdf] with support from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, was close behind with 91.6% accuracy.

    Mixed Media: When you get a tattoo, the artist rarely inks their first draft on your skin.  The artist will draw it out on paper, then turn it into a purple transfer to trace out with the needles. The question for researchers is whether an algorithm can reverse engineer this process; rather than matching tattoos to tattoos, can they match a tattoo to an image in another medium.

    If a witness sees a tattoo during a crime, they could describe it for a sketch artist, who could run the sketch through a tattoo database.  Or, if an officer wants to see if a tattoo correlates to a gang symbol, the tattoo could be compared to street graffiti.

    But this technology sets law enforcement on a dangerous path, since it would allow a police officer to learn more than just your identity, but your interests, political beliefs, or religion.  An investigator could plug an image of an Anarchist circle-A or the Republican elephant into its database to return a list of people who have tattoos of those images.  

    This technology is on the horizon, but at this stage it is still relatively underdeveloped.

    The MITRE Corporation—a non-profit organization that manages research centers on behalf of the federal government—produced the most successful results. The algorithm could produce matches within the first 10 results with 36.5% accuracy. 

    Although that number is fairly low, that may not prevent law enforcement from using it to generate leads. However, less reliable algorithms have greater potential of capturing innocent people in investigations.

    Tattoo Similarity:  One of the most worrisome applications of tattoo recognition technology is its potential ability to reveal connections or shared beliefs among a population. For example, rather than matching a particular tattoo of a crucifix with an individual, police could run the image of a crucifix through a database to produce a long set of people with similar cross tattoos. This essentially means police would be able to create lists of people based on their religion, politics, or other affiliations as expressed by their tattoos.

    This type of tattoo matching could sweep up fans of the same bands or members of the same labor union or military unit. This application has a high likelihood of generating false positives—matching someone whose tattoo may be visually similar, but not actually symbolically similar. That could result in people being improperly associated with groups, such as gangs, with which they have no actual affiliation.

    Law enforcement primarily wants to use this technology to identify members of gangs and hate groups, who often use coded symbols to express their affiliation. But that’s not necessarily what NIST researchers focused on during Tatt-C’s “Tattoo Similarity Experiments,” which tested how well algorithms could match different tattoos with similar visual features. Many of the images NIST asked participants to analyze were religious symbols—often Catholic iconography, such as hands holding rosaries and Jesus Christ’s crucifixion.

    This should raise bright red flags for those concerned about religious freedom, especially in light of how authoritarian governments have used tattoos to oppress religious minorities. Nazi Germany’s use of tattoos to track Jews during the Holocaust comes to mind. Indeed, the six-pointed Star of David was one of the images used during the NIST experiments. However, in that case, the star also serves as the symbol of the Gangster Disciples, a Chicago street gang. So even when law enforcement is attempting to use tattoos to investigate gangs, people who are simply expressing their religion could be labeled as affiliates of criminal gangs.

    The good news is that the technology is still in its early stages.  Researchers attributed the drop in accuracy to a problem they called the “semantic gap.” That refers to the difficulty computers have in divining meaning from tattoos that contain relevant symbols, but are not clearly visually similar. MITRE achieved the best results; its algorithm could establish a correct match within the first 10 results with 14.9% accuracy.

    What’s Next

    Although the NIST and FBI experiments were largely academic research exercises, law enforcement is already deploying the technology. Purdue University, with support from the Department of Homeland Security, has developed a graffiti and tattoo matching app—GARI—that is now in use by law enforcement agencies across the state of Indiana. Meanwhile, companies like MorphoTrak and DataWorks are now offering tattoo recognition as part of biometric software packages that also include fingerprint scanning, iris scanning, DNA analysis and facial recognition. We know that sheriff's departments in California have contracts with these companies.  

    It’s also clear that the lessons learned from the Tatt-C project are being used to refine future research and tattoo recognition technology. Following the Tatt-C project, NIST released training materials for law enforcement that explained how camera framing and lighting can make tattoos more easily recognizable by algorithms. Researchers further recommended that an even larger dataset—more than 100,000 images—be compiled for distribution to third-party researchers. 

    This summer, NIST plans to launch its next major series of experiments: Tatt-E, short for the Tattoo Recognition Technology Evaluation. Using tattoo databases from the Michigan State Police, Tennessee Department of Corrections, and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, NIST intends to run a similar set of tests internally, connecting to each algorithm through an API. 

    For the sake of civil liberties, privacy, and dignity, we believe that NIST should halt this program immediately. Take action now to call for an end to experimentation with our tattoos.


              California Cops Are Using These Biometric Gadgets in the Field        

    This report was co-written by MuckRock Editor JPat Brown. MuckRock Co-founder Michael Morisy, MuckRock Intern Lukas Knight, and EFF Activism Intern Annelyse Gelman also contributed to this report. Another version appears at MuckRock.com.

    Law enforcement agencies around the country are increasingly embracing biometric technology, which uses intrinsic physical or behavioral characteristics—such as fingerprints, facial features, irises, tattoos, or DNA—to identify people, sometimes even instantly. Just as the technology that powers your cell phone has shrunk both in size and cost, mobile biometric technologies are now being deployed more widely and cheaply than ever before—and with less oversight.

    EFF and MuckRock News teamed up in August to reveal how state and local law enforcement agencies are using mobile biometric technology in the field by filing public records requests around the country. With the help of members of the public who nominated jurisdictions for investigation, we have now obtained thousands of pages of documents from more than 30 agencies.

    Mobile biometric technology includes mobile devices and apps that police use to capture and analyze a person’s physical features in the field and submit that information to a central database for matching. Ostensibly, police deploy this technology as a means to confirm the identity of someone during a stop. However, the technology can be used to capture people's biometric data and add it to biometric databases, regardless of whether their identity is in question.   

    Because of the volume of records we’ve received so far (the documents continue to flow in faster than EFF and MuckRock’s teams can read through them), we’re starting with California. Nine of the agencies have responded to our requests with documents, while many more claimed they didn’t have any records.

    Of those that did respond, most employed a digital fingerprinting device. Facial recognition has also been widely embraced among agencies in San Diego County, with Santa Clara County law enforcement agencies close behind. In addition, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s biometrics system includes tattoo recognition, while the Orange County Sheriff's Department is also investigating iris recognition. 

    Agency: Brentwood Police Department

    What they have: Mobile fingerprinting

    Records we received: One page of instructions

    Details: Brentwood police have installed BlueCheck mobile ID systems in nine vehicles. These handheld devices, sold by 3M, capture fingerprints and match them to criminal and registrant files maintained by Contra Costa and Alameda counties. Brentwood Police plan to link the devices to California Department of Justice and FBI data in “the near future.” 

    Once an officer scans the subject’s index fingers, the device will return results in under three minutes. A “hit” is considered a 100% accurate match.

    Link to records: https://www.muckrock.com/foi/brentwood-3125/mobile-biometric-technologies-brentwood-police-department-20252/

    Agency: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD), Pasadena Police Department

    What they have: Face recognition, tattoo recognition, mobile fingerprinting

    Records we received: Procurement and purchasing documents, guidelines and best practices  

    Details: LASD provided a selection of records after charging a $42 fee. The agency refused to answer specific questions. Pasadena Police did not provide records, but did answer a handful of questions.  

    Face and Tattoo Recognition

    In 2008, LASD initiated a $2 million contract with DataWorks for a “Digital Mugshot System,” which included facial recognition and tattoo recognition technology. DataWorks’ system, combined with Cognitec facial recognition algorithm, could match a face in under 30 seconds. As of 2013, the system had more than 6.5 million booking photos and more than 3 million images of scars, marks, and tattoos.

    Between 2010 and 2013, the county sought information and proposals to expand what it called a “Multimodal Biometric Identification System” that, in addition to facial and tattoo recognition, would include iris scanning, DNA analysis, and voice recognition. Ultimately, it decided to extend its current contract with DataWorks, signing another four-year, $2.1 million deal in February 2015.

    The current contract includes a facial recognition mobile app for iOS, Android, and Windows 8 tablets—licensed for up to 250 individual devices. DataWorks is also tasked with adding 9 million new face images to the current 7 million already in the system.

    Mobile fingerprinting

    LASD did not provide up-to-date information for its use of mobile fingerprinting devices, but records provided to MuckRock and EFF show the agency had at least 2,500 BlueCheck portable Bluetooth fingerprint scanners as of 2010. At the time, LASD’s finger print database included more than 10 million Ten Prints (full fingerprint sets), over 1.5 million palm prints, and 175,000 latent prints. In 2010, LASD reported that the system had an accuracy rate of 95% for two-finger queries and 99.95% for four-finger queries.

    Per departmental guidelines, the devices may only be used for law-enforcement purposes and only by personnel who have received training in proper use of the devices. A 2014 newsletter addressed the problem of deputies being asked to use the devices for non-law enforcement purposes. A hypothetical scenario involved an emergency room physician asking an officer to use a mobile fingerprinting device to identify a patient not currently involved in a case. Under these circumstances, the officer would not be allowed to deploy the device.

    Pasadena Police Department has 38 BlueCheck devices. They were provided by LASD, and they query LAPD’s databases. The devices may be used by all of Pasadena’s 240 officers.

    Link to records: LASD https://www.muckrock.com/foi/los-angeles-county-358/mobile-biometric-technologies-los-angeles-county-sheriffs-department-20258/

    Pasadena Police Department https://www.muckrock.com/foi/pasadena-3368/mobile-biometric-technologies-pasadena-police-department-20365/

    Agency: Marin County Sheriff's Office 

    What they have: Mobile fingerprinting

    Records we received: Marketing materials, policies, purchasing documents, memorandum of understanding between Marin County and the California Department of Justice

    Details: The Marin County Sheriff's Office ordered 40 Mobile Ident II fingerprint readers (sold by Cogent Systems) between April and August 2009. In addition to prints, the devices are also equipped with a camera for capturing portraits.

    The devices are primarily used to identify people in the field by capturing fingerprints and comparing them against the sheriff’s arrestee database. The process takes approximately 90 seconds, providing results such as name under which the person was originally booked, a booking photograph, booking number, and driver license number. All patrol officers have access to the devices, though, according to a sheriff’s directive, they “should” only be used by deputies who have received training.

    In 2011, the sheriff signed an agreement with the California Department of Justice to participate in a statewide Mobile ID system.

    Link to records: https://www.muckrock.com/foi/marin-county-3047/mobile-biometric-technologies-marin-county-sheriff-20395/

     

    Agency: Orange County Sheriff’s Office

    What they have: None currently, but recently tested mobile fingerprinting, planning for iris scanning and facial recognition. 

    Records we received: Statistical breakdowns, memorandums of understanding, appropriate use policy

    Details: Orange County Sheriff's crime lab recently purchased MorphoTrak's MorphoBis automated biometric identification system at a cost of $10 million. While the system is built to handle iris identification, face recognition, and mobile identification, a staffer told us those functions are in the planning stages, but not currently in use.

    Between June 5 and August 28, 2015, Orange County Sheriff's Office tested six mobile fingerprinting devices from MorphoTrack. A total of 12 officers were authorized to use the devices. According to the one-page appropriate use policy, officers are only allowed to use the devices when they have a legal right to request identification. However, the fingerprint matches are only considered “supplemental information” and may not be used as the sole proof of identity or probable cause for arrest.

    The sheriff also provided statistics on its overall fingerprinting database (i.e. prints on file, mostly captured during the booking process). Between 2012 and 2014, the sheriff collected fingerprints from 222,244 individuals, while there are a total of 1.48 million fingerprints in the database. These fingerprints, including ones collected through mobile devices, are kept on record indefinitely. Twelve police agencies in Orange County have access to the database, as do vendors for operational purposes.

    Link to records: https://www.muckrock.com/foi/orange-county-394/mobile-biometric-technologies-orange-county-sheriff-department-20352/

    Agency: San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), San Diego Police Department, Carlsbad Police Department

    What they have: Facial recognition

    Records we received: 161mb of records from SANDAG, four-page policy document from SDPD, six pages of instructions from CPD

    Details: SANDAG is a government organization composed of representatives from cities throughout the region that coordinates countywide programs, including information and technology-sharing between law enforcement agencies. As EFF previously reported, SANDAG—through its Automated Regional Justice Information System (ARJIS)—operates a mobile facial recognition project called the Tactical Information System, or TACIDS. The system is provided by FaceFirst, also known as Airborne Biometrics.

    Through Android devices and a mobile app, officers can take photos of suspects during stops and compare those images against the San Diego County Sheriff’s mugshot database. The documents show that the initial pilot was funded by a $418,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. The most recent contract, which was signed after the pilot ended, is for $125,000 and covers the period of April 1, 2015 through March 31, 2016.

    As of February 2015, 26 local, state and federal agencies in the San Diego County region are participating in the TACIDS program. Together, the agencies have a total 463 facial-recognition devices, although only 193 devices were listed as “active.”

    There are 819 registered users, although non-registered users may email photos to those authorized to use the devices. The devices have been used 20,682 times, producing 5,200 matches. That means the devices were only effective in one out of four cases. (This data comes with the caveat that SANDAG is unable to distinguish between queries that occurred during police encounters and queries that occurred during training or demonstrations.)

    The San Diego Police Department provided a copy of its policy, which says officers are only allowed to compare the image to the database for these three purposes: 1) To identify a suspect of a criminal investigation; 2) to aid in locating a missing person; or 3) to identify an individual for whom a warrant has been issued. Under the policy, the images are supposed to be deleted from the devices after the search has been run.

    SDPD officers are not allowed to use facial recognition if the stopped person presents photo ID, unless the officer has reason to suspect the ID is forged or the person is using someone else’s ID. Only staff who have received special training are allowed to use the devices.

    Carlsbad Police Department initially claimed it does not use biometric devices. EFF and MuckRock pointed out that the department is listed as participating in the TACIDS program, and only then did staff provide a document from the initial pilot project. The document shows the various screens of the app, as well as the configuration settings. Each device is linked to a unique Gmail account, and officers have the ability to adjust the sensitivity of the face-match algorithm.

    Links to records:

    SANDAG: https://www.muckrock.com/foi/san-diego-56/mobile-biometric-technologies-sandagarjis-20464/

    SDPD: https://www.muckrock.com/foi/san-diego-56/mobile-biometric-technologies-san-diego-police-department-20388/

    CPD: https://www.muckrock.com/foi/carlsbad-60/mobile-biometric-technologies-carlsbad-police-department-20259/

    Agency: San Jose Police Department

    What they have: Mobile fingerprinting, facial recognition planned

    Records we received: Memos, purchase orders, annual reports, instruction manual, grant application

    Details: Records show the San Jose Police Department, in partnership with Santa Clara County, began using BlueCheck mobile fingerprinting devices in the field during the citation process as early as 2008, although the mobile identification program did not take off fully until two years later as part of the “Cal ID Mobile ID System.”

    According to a policy memorandum issued in August 2010, the devices may only be used by trained personnel and only “in circumstances in which an officer has the suspect’s consent, or the officer has probable cause to arrest the person.” Any data provided by the system is considered “supplemental information” to other investigative measures.

    In 2011, SJPD received a $462,700 federal grant through the California Department of Justice to expand the system so officers may check fingerprints against the state’s fingerprint system and eventually the FBI’s database. Around this time, procurement documents show a switch from BlueCheck to Mobizent’s ID-Mobileworks system, which cost at least $190,000 for 26 devices (other documents show as many as 85). As of 2012, the Santa Clara system contained 891,612 10-print/palm print files.

    SJPD does not yet appear to have a fully integrated county-wide facial recognition system, but it did run a facial recognition pilot program between November 2012 and April 2013 with DataWorks, the same company providing similar services to the Los Angeles Police Department. This pilot program resulted in at least one arrest warrant issued for a suspect who was identified by using the technology to analyze a photo taken by a civilian on a cell phone.

    In summer 2015, SJPD also applied for a $500,000 federal grant to establish a facial recognition system that would serve 12 partner agencies in Santa Clara County. This system would comb through the county’s thousands of pieces of digital surveillance footage, as well as a database with the county’s 1.8 million mug shots, to ID suspects.

    The proposed software would “sharpen pixels in blurry images and reposition faces that aren’t looking directly into the camera,” create composites from multiple surveillance images. The software would also create 3D models of suspects’ faces to make them easier to match with mug shots, quickly producing a candidate list “regardless of factors such as hair color, glasses, hats, background, head tilt angle, and so on.”

    San Jose told EFF that it did not receive the federal grant and is seeking alternative funding sources.

    Link to records: https://www.muckrock.com/foi/san-jose-336/mobile-biometric-technologies-san-diego-police-department-20390/

     

    No Responsive Documents

    The following agencies communicated that they did not have responsive documents. This does not automatically mean they do not use mobile biometric technology, but that they could not locate disclosable records related to mobile biometric technology. 

    Note: While the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department did not have responsive records, the agency added: 

    "Our agency is not yet up and running on mobile biometric devices. This is something which is on our Systems and Technologies Bureau’s lists of items to research for future implementation. Our officers do not have issued smartphones or tablets capable of this technology and currently it is not within our budget."

    No Acknowledgement of Public Records Requests

    The following agencies have not sent letters acknowledging they received the public records requests. 

    Response in Progress 

    The following agencies are still processing the public records requests. 


              How Private DNA Data Led Idaho Cops on a Wild Goose Chase and Linked an Innocent Man to a 20-year-old Murder Case        

    The New Orleans Advocate recently published a shocking story that details the very real threats to privacy and civil liberties posed by law enforcement access to private genetic databases and familial DNA searching.

    In 1996, a young woman named Angie Dodge was murdered in her apartment in a small town in Idaho. Although the police collected DNA from semen left at the crime scene, they haven’t been able to match the DNA to existing profiles in any criminal database, and the murder has never been solved.

    Fast forward to 2014. The Idaho police sent the semen sample to a private lab to extract a DNA profile that included YSTR and mtDNA—the two genetic markers used to determine patrilineal and matrilineal relationships (it’s unclear why they reopened the case after nearly 20 years). These markers would allow investigators to search some existing databases to try to find a match between the sample and genetic relatives.

    The cops chose to use a lab linked to a private collection of genetic genealogical data called the Sorenson Database (now owned by Ancestry.com), which claims it’s “the foremost collection of genetic genealogy data in the world.” The reason the Sorenson Database can make such an audacious claim is because it has obtained its more than 100,000 DNA samples and documented multi-generational family histories from “volunteers in more than 100 countries around the world.” Some of these volunteers were encouraged by the Mormon Church—well-known for its interest in genealogy—to provide their genetic material to the database. Sorenson promised volunteers their genetic data would only be used for “genealogical services, including the determination of family migration patterns and geographic origins” and would not be shared outside Sorenson. Its consent form states:

    The only individuals who will have access to the codes and genealogy information will be the principal investigator and the others specifically authorized by the Principal Investigator, including the SMGF research staff.

    Despite this promise, Sorenson's vast collection of data, like data in other public DNA databases, is available online and may be searched by anyone with "DNA results obtained from a commercial lab." This means, without a warrant or court order, investigators were able to run the crime scene DNA against Sorenson’s private genealogical DNA data. The search turned up 41 potential familial matches, one of which matched on 34 out of 35 alleles—a very close match that would generally indicate a close familial relationship. The cops then asked Ancestry.com, not only for the “protected” name associated with that profile, but also for all “all information including full names, date of births, date and other information pertaining to the original donor to the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy project.” Ancestry.com offered to disclose this information in response to a simple subpoena, but the police got a search warrant instead.

    This is when the case starts to sound like something out of the TV show “CSI.” Ancestry.com linked the crime scene DNA to DNA from a man born in 1952. That man didn’t fit the age profile of the murderer, so the investigators used the genealogical information to trace his male descendant line and find his son, Michael Usry Jr., born in 1979. Then the cops searched Usry’s Facebook page and found he had some Facebook friends who lived somewhat near Idaho Falls. And then through Google searches, the police learned Usry was a filmmaker who had been involved in making a few short films that had homicide or killings in the story line. (The cop noted in a warrant affidavit “these short films have won awards in several film festivals.”) Based on this completely circumstantial evidence, the Idaho investigators got a warrant to collect a swab of Usry’s DNA.

    They called up Usry, told him they were investigating a hit-and-run, and asked him to meet with them. Usry thought he “had nothing to hide” and agreed to the meeting. They took him to an interrogation room, questioned him without a lawyer present, and eventually collected a DNA sample. Then Usry sat on pins & needles for a month waiting for the results.

    When the results came in, it turned out Usry’s DNA didn’t match the crime scene sample—despite the close familial markers and other circumstantial evidence, he wasn’t the murderer.

    Usry was lucky. The forensic crime scene DNA sample came from semen and likely was single source (meaning it contained DNA from only one person). This means that it was relatively easy for the cops to compare Usry’s DNA against the forensic sample and determine conclusively the two didn’t match. In many cases today, however, forensic samples come instead from “touch” DNA—miniscule samples of DNA deposited on physical surfaces that people have touched. Touch DNA is less reliable and harder to match both because it may not include enough DNA for meaningful interpretation and because it often contains DNA from multiple persons—some of whom may have had no connection to the crime at all. With touch DNA, lab analysts may see a match where none exists. Just this year in San Francisco, the San Francisco Chronicle revealed a crime lab analyst had been making assumptions about poor-quality, incomplete genetic evidence and testified at trial that one of the profiles she generated matched the defendant, which was false. This analyst’s misconduct could affect as many as 1,400 cases. When touch DNA analysis expands to include familial markers, the risk of misidentification only increases.

    This risk will increase further as state and local law enforcement agencies begin to use Rapid DNA ana