Eugenics in Europe: Euthanasia for minors and ‘accelerated death’ for the sick

AFP | DECEMBER 19, 2012

Belgium is considering a significant change to its decade-old euthanasia law that would allow minors and Alzheimer’s sufferers to seek permission to die.

The proposed changes to the law were submitted to parliament Tuesday by the Socialist party and are likely to be approved by other parties, although no date has yet been put forward for a parliamentary debate.

“The idea is to update the law to take better account of dramatic situations and extremely harrowing cases we must find a response to,” party leader Thierry Giet said.

The draft legislation calls for “the law to be extended to minors if they are capable of discernment or affected by an incurable illness or suffering that we cannot alleviate.”

Belgium was the second country in the world after the Netherlands to legalise euthanasia in 2002 but it applies only to people over the age of 18.

Socialist Senator Philippe Mahoux, who helped draft the proposed changes, said there had been cases of adolescents who “had the capacity to decide” their future.

He said parliamentarians would also consider extended mercy-killing to people suffering from Alzheiner’s-type illnesses.

Euthanasia was allowed to an Alzheimer’s patient for the first time in the Netherlands last year.

In Belgium, some 1,133 cases — mostly for terminal cancer — were recorded in 2011, about one percent of all deaths in the country, according to official figures.

A seriously ill prisoner serving a long jail sentence this year became the first inmate to die under Belgium’s euthanasia laws.

Accelerated Death

France should allow doctors to “accelerate the coming of death” for terminally ill patients, a report to President Francois Hollande recommended Tuesday.

Hollande referred the report to a national council on medical ethics which will examine the precise circumstances under which such steps could be authorised with a view to producing draft legislation by June 2013.

“The existing legislation does not meet the legitimate concerns expressed by people who are gravely and incurably ill,” Hollande said.

The report said physicians should be allowed to authorise interventions that ensure quicker deaths for terminal patients in three specific sets of circumstances.

In the first case, the patient involved would be capable of making an explicit request to that effect or have issued advance instructions in the event of him or her becoming incapable of expressing an opinion.

The second scenario envisages medical teams withdrawing treatment and/or nourishment on the basis of a request by the family of a dying patient who is no longer conscious and has not made any instructions.

The third would apply to cases where treatment is serving only to sustain life artificially.

The author of the report, Professor Didier Sicard, stressed that he did not support any measures which “suddenly and prematurely end life.”

“We are radically opposed to inscribing euthanasia in law,” Sicard told a press conference.

He also stressed that he was not advocating Swiss-style clinics where people are provided with lethal medication to enable them to end their own lives.

Instead, Sicard said he favoured amendments to a 2005 law which already authorises doctors to administer painkilling drugs at levels they know will, as a secondary effect, shorten a patient’s life.

Sicard’s report was drawn up after extensive consultation with the terminally ill and their families which revealed widespread dissatisfaction with a “cure at all costs” culture in the medical establishment.

Monsanto loses dispute on modified soy in European Union Court

EFE

The Court of Justice of the European Union issued a contrary decision to the multinational Monsanto who for years charged farmers for patent rights on genetically modified soya in a dispute with the Government of Argentina and several companies.

The Community Justice dictated the verdict in a case where Monsanto denounced the Netherlands for importing seeds from Argentina for several companies, “RR soy” whose genes had been created in Europe by the American  company.

Between 2005 and 2006, the trade dispute gained momentum because Monsanto confiscated soybean seeds from Argentina in Europe in order to levy royalties.   Monsanto, however, had not registered the gene in Argentina, where this variety is used in large quantities.

The patent consists of a “DNA sequence” inserted into the soybean plant that causes it to resist a herbicide (glyphosate), removing weeds without damaging the crop.   The Court opined that the patented gene was in “residual” state and that Monsanto could not prevent the sale of a product containing in the European Union.

The judges state that the Community rules in the EU that supports biotechnological inventions protects such products as long as  “the genetic information that the product contains performs its function effectively in that matter.”   This means that the Court considers that although the seeds had traces of imported soybeans, it is an end or  “inert” product which has undergone several operations of “processing” so the “genetic information” no longer carries the initial function.

Community justice points out that EU rules do not allow a national regulation granting absolute protection for a patent for genetic modification.   In today’s pronouncement, the judges of the Community responded to a Dutch court, that  will dictate the final decision on the demand that Monsanto submitted in that country.

Spy tech ‘monitors conversations’ launched in Europe

By Daniel Tencer

Privacy rights advocates and civil liberties campaigners in Europe are raising the alarm about a new surveillance system that

The Shadow Government has Eyes and Ears everywhere. Click image and learn the details

monitors conversations in public.

The surveillance system, dubbed Sigard, has been installed in Dutch city centers, government offices and prisons, and a recent test-run of the technology in Coventry, England, has British civil rights experts worried that the right to privacy will disappear in efforts to fight street crime.

The system’s manufacturer, Sound Intelligence, says it works by detecting aggression in speech patterns.

“Ninety percent of all incidents involving physical aggression are preceded by verbal aggression,” the Sound Intelligence Web site says. “The ability to spot verbal aggression before it turns into a violent outbreak delivers valuable time to security personnel and enables speedy intervention.”

According to the UK’s Sunday Telegraph, the city of Coventry recently finished a six-month test run of the system, which involved the installation of seven microphones around a crime-prone nightlife district. A spokesperson for the city said the system is “no longer in use.”

The Herald in Scotland reported last month that the system has also been tested in London, Glasgow, Birmingham and Manchester.

“In Hackney in London, the system detected up to six crimes a night, including fights and guns being fired,” the paper reported.

Sigard’s use is more widespread in the Netherlands, where the system’s manufacturer is located. According to the Sound Intelligence Web site, the system has been installed in Amsterdam’s train station, as well as police headquarters, and has also been installed inside a number of prisons and the city centers of Dordrecht and Groningen.

Sound Intelligence says that the technology focuses principally on tone of voice, and is not designed to listen to the content of conversations. But opponents say the technology is open to abuse.

“There can be no justification for giving councils or the police the capability to listen in on private conversations,” Dylan Sharpe of the UK’s Big Brother Watch told the Sunday Telegraph. “There is enormous potential for abuse, or a misheard word, causing unnecessary harm with this sort of intrusive and overbearing surveillance.”

In a sarcastic editorial, the Herald argued that crime could be eliminated altogether if the government were to install Sigard technology in all homes and offices.

Let’s install surveillance cameras and microphones in every room of every new home that is built. Make it a condition of planning consent. … It won’t just leave terrorists with no place to hide, it’ll expose criminals wherever they’re holed up or plotting. Isn’t this the logical extension of what is already happening, of what we’re allowing with barely a squeak of protest?

The police could be at the door, handcuffs at the ready, before a drunken man can punch his wife or say “domestic violence”. … Cameras in the home would eradicate child abuse. Burglary, too, would be obliterated since the thief would know the police had a ringside seat. Think of the benefits. Peace would reign in every household, the crime rate would plummet and prisons would no longer be overcrowded.

UK demise: Deficit ‘to surpass Greece’s as worst in EU’

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UK Guardian

Whoever wins the election must make sorting out the public finances the top priority, the European commission warned on the eve ofUk debt the poll, as it predicted the British budget deficit would swell this year to become the biggest in the European Union, overtaking even Greece.

The commission’s spring economic forecasts put the UK deficit for this calendar year at 12% of GDP, the highest of all 27 EU nations and worse than the Treasury’s own forecasts.

The country’s budget shortfall was the third largest in the EU last year but will overtake both Greece and Ireland this year, according to the forecasts. Greece’s measures to tackle its public finances problems are projected to cut its deficit to 9.3% of GDP.

Worries about Britain’s public finances – in their worst state since the end of the second world war – continue to unnerve financial markets and analysts are divided over whether a hung parliament will have the clout to rapidly reduce the deficit.

“The first thing for the new government to do is to agree on a convincing, ambitious programme of fiscal consolidation in order to start to reduce the very high deficit and stabilise the high debt level of the UK,” said European economic and monetary affairs commissioner Olli Rehn.

“That’s by far the first and foremost challenge of the new government. I trust whatever the colour of the government, I hope it will take this measure.”

The deficit forecasts are an improvement on the commission’s last outlook for Britain but they still paint a gloomier picture than the government itself.

In financial year terms, the commission’s forecasts are for a worse deficit than predicted by Alistair Darling at his March budget. In 2010/11 the commission puts the deficit at 11.5% of GDP, compared with Darling’s forecast for an 11.1% ratio of public sector net borrowing – the gap between tax and spending – to GDP.

The EU’s executive did double its forecast for British growth this year to 1.2% from 0.6%, in line with a March budget forecast for 1-1.5%. But in 2011 it warns growth will only pick up to 2.1%, significantly below a Treasury forecast of 3-3.5%.

It described “a slow start to a protracted recovery”, highlighting pressures on private consumption, a key growth driver, from employment worries and stagnant wages.

Darling pointed out that the commission expected the UK to grow more quickly than other major European countries next year – including Germany, France, Italy, and the Netherlands. “The European commission’s report shows again that our judgment call to support the economy was right. Yet again George Osborne’s flaky judgment is exposed. The Tories cannot be allowed to derail the recovery,” he said.

But opposition politicians seized upon the outlook as evidence that a new government was needed to get the economy back on track. “The day before the election the European commission has issued a damning indictment of Gordon Brown’s economic record,” said shadow chancellor George Osborne, claiming only the Conservatives would start dealing with Britain’s debts on Friday.

“He has left this country with the largest budget deficit in Europe – larger even than Greece – and projections for future growth well below his own forecasts.”

Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Lord Oakeshott said the EU report laid bare government overconfidence. “This shows the government has been far too optimistic,” he said.

“What matters now is a credible deficit reduction plan backed by the nation. If the Conservatives scrape home with barely a third of the vote and indulge in butchery behind closed doors, that just won’t work. That’s why the Liberal Democrats call for a council of fiscal stability with all three economic spokesmen, whoever they are, and the governor of the Bank of England to agree a credible deficit reduction plan.”

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