Sunday, January 30, 2011

World Economic Forum

Wow, so there it is again, the great and the greatest mingling happily in Davos. Luxury hotels, private jets, prime ministers and presidents abound, the usual gaggle of academics to provide light entertainment, and then there is non-stop fawning coverage even on my beloved BBC World Service. And yet, honestly, I cannot recall that this meeting was ever anything other than a show of the great and those badly wanting to be seen to be great. Has it ever achieved anything tangible? Nope. Has it ever predicted problems (like the economic meltdown we experienced during the last 2 years)? Nope. Has it predicted the radical changes that are afoot in the Middle East? Nope.

Why not cancel the meeting and let the great and the greatest pay for their next vacation in Switzerland? Just wondering.

Completely unrelated, and just for your amusement. Notice how Faux News has relocated Egypt on its map...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Organised Christianity's Evil Consequences - Murder of gay activist in Uganda

I am reproducing here without further comment a piece that's over at blacklooks.org . Further information is here.  Write to the Ugandan Embassy or High Commission and ask that this murder be properly investigated and the perpetrators punished.

On Wednesday 26th January 2010  David Kato – Ugandan Kuchu, activist, human rights defender, Man of courage, stubborn, intense, the real. He lived without trimmings literally and metaphorically. David lived his life on the edge with no protection from the sickening campaign of hate unleashed by political and religious leaders in Uganda and their supporters in the US and elsewhere.

So today i am writing about David and whatever I write it will not be enough to express my feelings for him or on his murder.   I only met him in person exactly one year ago. He was in York on a human rights defender course. I was in London. He wanted to organise a tour speaking on the Ugandan anti-homosexuality Bill – the hate bill and thats how we came together.  `He stayed with me a couple of times and we traveled to Canterbury, London and Manchester speaking about the Bill and LGBTIQ struggles on the continent.  David was always cracking sarcastic jokes when he was speaking about the Bill. He traveled to Brussels where one woman asked him to wear a suit for his presentation. Where the fuck am I going to get a suit said David. Will they buy me a suit? Who do they think I am?  David, intense, stubborn and not given to idle chat whether in person, on the phone or  email.  I would get intense abrupt emails informing me of the latest hate in Uganda, requesting information or discussing strategy or just what the fuck is this – whats wrong with these people?

A couple of weeks ago he asked me to find out about a suspected WSF money scam. I tried but did not get back to him in time so I know I didn’t try hard enough.  David had been beaten up many times. He was constantly harassed, his home broken into. The last time this happened a few months ago he tried to raise some funds to make his home secure but it was not enough.  This is no blame time – people do what they can when they can. It’s just a fact.  He walked around with a dislocated shoulder in constant pain from a particularly severe beating – he tried to get it fixed in York but the NHS couldn’t or wouldn’t provide him with the treatment he needed.

Recently David together with Kasha Jacqueline and Pepe Onziema won a landmark case against the Ugandan tabloid, Rolling Stone who had published the names and photos of what it called “Ugandans top 100 homos” on October 2nd 2010 which also included the headline “Hang Them”. A number of the photos were ones used by activists on their Facebook profiles including David’s. The High Court ruled that Rolling Stone had “violated their constitutional rights to privacy and safety” and warned them and other news media not to repeat the outings. We do not yet know the exact details surrounding David’s murder but the fact that he has received repeated death threats since the Rolling Stone outing we see there are consequences to actions which actively encourage hatred.

The responsibility for the repeated harassment, beatings, death threats and now possibly his murder lies with all those members of Parliament, religious leaders both in Uganda, other countries on the continent and in the US, who have led the campaign of hate against LGBTIQ people: David Baharti, Red Pepper newspaper, Martin Ssempa, Ugandan Minister of Ethics Nsaba Buturu, Archbishop of Rwanda, Onesphore Rwaje , Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda, the All African Bishops Conference, Apolo Nsibambi of Uganda, Rev. Bernard Ntahoturi of Burundi, Archbishop Akinola and Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria, Peter Karamaga, the National Anti-Homosexual Task-force Uganda, President Museveni, Mrs Museveni, President Mugabe. Pastor Mulinde of Trumpet Church Uganda, Lou Engle, Rick Warren, Scott Lively and Dan Schmierer of the ex-gay group Exodus International, Jon Qwelane and President Jacob Zuma who sent him to Uganda, Bishop Lawrence Chai of Free Apostolic Churches of Kenya and Sheikh Ali Hussein of Masjid Answar Sunna Mosque. The African Union [AU] African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights who denied CAL observer status, all those who voted at the UN General Assembly Human Rights Committee to delete the reference to killings due to sexual orientation from a resolution condemning unjustified executions. And all those who hold positions of responsibility and power who refused to speak up against hatred.
The lives of all Ugandan Kuchus are now at risk – how will they be protected? Who will protect them? How will there be justice for David? One way is to ensure there is a sincere investigation into his murder including the role played by the homophobia of MPs and religious leaders and what must be done to protect others. Another is to speak about this as widely and as much as possible.

Condolences David’s family, his brothers and sisters at SMUG and to all those who knew and loved David. 


Rest In Peace David, we remember you for your courage, honesty and unwavering commitment to the struggle for the right and dignity for all of us to be who we are. We remember you, David for the beautiful human being you were and you will always live in our hearts. We have lost a great activist and a great man
“Determined to struggle till a yard done to the journey of liberating the LGBTI community from the discrimination and oppressional laws in the name of sodomy!” David Kato

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Apologies for posting hiatus

Folks,

I have been away in Europe for talks in Germany and Britain. I will be back in Canada by the end of this coming week, and I will be posting stuff again. Meanwhile, enjoy this link. Also, I was castigated by some religious nut in Canada last year about claims I made about patients in Catholic hospitals being unable to be certain that they'll received best standards of professional care due to conflicting ideological (pardon me, religious) teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. You might want to check out this link in the Washington Post on the matter. It provides plenty of evidence in support of my contention.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Warning: Beware of St Lawrence Exteriors in case you live in Kingston, Gananoque, Napanee and surrounding areas

Here's a warning to my good neighbours in Gananoque, Kingston, Napanee and surrounding towns about St Lawrence Exteriors. About 2 years or so ago I hired St Lawrence Exteriors to replace the shingles on my roof. In the process the company destroyed one of the skylights on my roof. There was glass all over in one of my bedrooms, the lot. To be fair, that sort of thing can happen, and the company agreed to replace the skylight. It goes without saying that initially it tried to crank up the price of the roofing way beyond the initial quote, presumably to recover the cost of what was so obviously the company's mistake.

Worse, this winter I discovered that the window they had put in was actually cracked. They hid this by gluing (!) flashing on top of the crack. Well, eventually the crack extended and now covers the whole window. Worse, the flashing has come off during a recent storm (it was glued onto the glass - boggles the mind in its own right). The window has to be replaced yet again. All a result of terribly shoddy workmanship.

I have since called both of the company's owners as well as their office, but nobody bothered returning my calls. I asked that they fix the problem they or their contractor have caused. I also emailed them with the same request. No reply. I also asked the Better Business Bureau to try on my behalf, but to no avail. It turns out that the company is already ranked as 'D' (second lowest), because it does seem to have a habit of ignoring customer complaints.

I learned my lesson. From now on I will first check at the Better Business Bureau website how companies are ranked to avoid being treated like I am currently treated by St Lawrence Exteriors. Think twice about hiring St Lawrence Exteriors for any work that you might have. They might just let you down, too.

Friday, January 07, 2011

50 Voices of Disbelief in Polish

Yay, the Polish translation of our anthology 50 Voices of Disbelief is coming in March 2011. Here's the publisher's announcements. Tell your Polish friends :-). - Here's hope that they won't misspell my name on the book cover (like they did on their website)...

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

25 Years of Bioethics (the journal)

here's the ToC of our 25th anniversary issue. The commissioned
contributions have been made available in Open Access format, so no
subscription to the journal is required.

The content can be accessed here:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bioe.2011.25.issue-2/issuetoc


EDITORIAL (page ii)

UDO SCHÜKLENK

ARTICLES

PUBLISHING BIOETHICS AND BIOETHICS – REFLECTIONS ON ACADEMIC
PUBLISHING BY A JOURNAL EDITOR (pages 57–61)
UDO SCHÜKLENK

PERSONAL GENOMES: NO BAD NEWS? (pages 62–65)
RUTH CHADWICK

WAS BIOETHICS FOUNDED ON HISTORICAL AND CONCEPTUAL MISTAKES ABOUT
MEDICAL PATERNALISM? (pages 66–74)
LAURENCE B. MCCULLOUGH

LOOKING BACKWARDS, LOOKING FORWARD: HOPES FOR BIOETHICS' NEXT
TWENTY-FIVE YEARS (pages 75–82)
SUSAN SHERWIN

LOCALIZED PAST, GLOBALIZED FUTURE: TOWARDS AN EFFECTIVE BIOETHICAL
FRAMEWORK USING EXAMPLES FROM POPULATION GENETICS AND MEDICAL TOURISM
(pages 83–91)
HEATHER WIDDOWS

IN WHOSE INTEREST? POLICY AND POLITICS IN ASSISTED REPRODUCTION(pages 92–101)
ANNE DONCHIN

MORAL ENHANCEMENT AND FREEDOM (pages 102–111)
JOHN HARRIS

LITERATURE, HISTORY AND THE HUMANIZATION OF BIOETHICS (pages 112–118)
NATHAN EMMERICH

Saturday, January 01, 2011

In Matters Bioethics

I am reproducing here a blog entry that appeared over at retraction watch. It affects a plagiarized paper in BMC Medical Ethics. The paper plagiarized from an article we had published in Bioethics in 2009. Appreciate the irony.


Irony alert: Shades of plagiarism undo med ethics paper on terminal care


With some conservatives fulminating over President Obama’s eternal lust for “death panels,” we have our own case of end-of-life outrage to report.
BMC Medical Ethics has retracted a November 2010 paper by two authors from Mayo Clinic whose manuscript — “End-of-life discontinuation of destination therapy with cardiac and ventilatory support medical devices: physician-assisted death or allowing the patient to die?” — contained passages that closely echoed those in another article, “Moral fictions and medical ethics,” published online in July 2009 in the journal Bioethics.
According to the retraction notice:
The authors have voluntarily retracted this article and it is no longer available for online public display because portions of the article are similar to a previous publication. While there was no intention to use pre-existing work without appropriate attribution, the authors nonetheless extend their apologies [to the authors and and all others concerned].
The article does appear to still be available, however.
The authors, Mohamed Y. Rady and Joseph L. Verheijde, have published nearly 60 articles together since 2006, on topics ranging from organ donation and the Islamic religion to whether discontinuing life support in patients who have experienced cardiac death in order to harvest their organs for transplantation constitutes homicide under state law (it likely does, they argue). Other than the BMC Medical Ethics paper, it does not appear that any of their previous papers has been retracted.
We find the retraction notice more than a little opaque and confusing. It’s unclear how “similar” the article was to the Bioethics paper it offended. But why not use the word “plagiarism” to describe the similarities? Also, how convincing is that “no intention” disclaimer? (Not very, as it happens, as you’ll soon learn.) And why is the article still available?
We’ve emailed the editor of BMC Medical Ethics for an answer to these questions and will update this post when we learn more.
Meanwhile, we spoke to Franklin G. Miller, a bioethicist at the National Institutes of Health and first author of the plagiarized Bioethics paper. Miller, to whom the retraction notice specifically apologizes, said he discovered the offending material this fall when he chanced upon the BMC Medical Ethics article.
I first saw a citation to a piece of mine in Bioethics, but then I had the feeling some of this language sounded a little familiar to me. I looked side by side at the two articles and I found extensive passages that were lifted—some were verbatim, some had a couple of minor word changes. There was a citation, but only one, and no quotation marks. They had essentially appropriated our language, our arguments, and our analysis as their own.”
Miller said he contacted the journal, which conducted an investigation.
At first they said they were going to issue a correction, which I said was not satisfactory. Finally the legal dept of the publisher of Bioethics got into the act, and that led to the retraction.
Miller said he is “very dissatisfied” with the retraction notice for its failure to use the word plagiarism and its claim that the misappropriation was inadvertent.
To say that it wasn’t intentional is mind-boggling. You cannot systematically lift someone else’s text without intending to do it. It seems not possible. A sentence or two, maybe, but not paragraphs.
Miller said he now has discovered plagiarism of his own work five times over the course of his 20-year career in bioethics. On two other occasions, he detected plagiarism of someone else’s work.
To my mind, in bioethics, one time in 30 years is a lot.
Rady did not immediately return an e-mail requesting comment.