Category: tgkqhlrsi

Illegal wildlife trade on Facebook in Thailand open ‘for all to see’

first_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Article published by Shreya Dasgupta Animals, Biodiversity, Conservation, Endangered Species, Environment, Environmental Law, Governance, Mammals, Wildlife, Wildlife Trade, Wildlife Trafficking center_img In a rapid assessment in 2016, carried out for just 30 minutes a day over a total of 23 days, wildlife trade watchdog TRAFFIC found 1,521 listings of live wild animals for sale on Facebook in Thailand.The animals on offer belonged to at least 200 species, of which about half are protected by the country’s laws, while the rest aren’t regulated at all.More than 500 individuals listed were mammals, with 139 listings of the Sunda slow loris, a threatened primate.The listings also included the critically endangered helmeted hornbill and Siamese crocodile. Facebook is once again in the spotlight, this time for the rampant illegal wildlife trade being facilitated through its groups in Thailand.In a rapid assessment in 2016, carried out for just 30 minutes a day over a total of 23 days, researchers from TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, found 1,521 listings of live wild animals for sale on Facebook in Thailand. The animals on offer belonged to at least 200 species. Only about half are protected under the country’s Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act of 1992, or WARPA, the main national law governing the wildlife trade in Thailand. The rest of the species currently remain unprotected by any national law, the report found.In 2016, TRAFFIC monitored 12 Facebook groups trading in wildlife. When they looked into these groups again in 2018, they found that at least nine of these groups were still active, with one turning into a secret group. In just two years, the membership within these groups had nearly doubled, from 106,111 members in July 2016, to 203,445 members in July 2018.“I was aware of the trade of wildlife on Facebook in Thailand, but it is always shocking to see how easy it is to offer protected animals for sale, and how easy it is to buy them,” Vincent Nijman, a professor of anthropology at Oxford Brookes University, U.K., who studies the wildlife trade in Southeast Asia, told Mongabay. “The general public often thinks that the illegal wildlife trade takes place in shady places, in hidden alleyways or on the dark web, but in reality much of it takes place in places for all to see.”The 2016 survey found that birds were the most frequently listed species in the Facebook groups, followed by mammals and reptiles. Of the 1,521 individuals for sale, most were mammals, with more than 500 individuals on offer. Some 139 of these listings were of the Sunda slow loris (Nycticebus coucang), followed by the common palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus). The international trade in the Sunda slow loris, a primate native to Southeast Asia, is banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and the species is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.Slow lorises are popular tourist attractions in Thailand and Indonesia as photo props, the authors of the report write, which may be fueling the surge in the trade of this species. These animals are also popular as pets, and have become victims of the illegal pet trade.“The report of 139 Sunda slow lorises is very worrying — this species only occurs in the southernmost part of Thailand,” said Nijman, who was not part of the TRAFFIC study. “This suggests either high levels of trade in this species in this area or it may be indicative of additional Sunda slow lorises being brought in from Malaysia or Indonesia.”Slow loris being offered for sale on Facebook. Image courtesy of TRAFFIC.Among the species listed for sale in the Facebook groups, the TRAFFIC team found two critically endangered ones: a single helmeted hornbill (Rhinoplax vigil) and 25 individuals of the Siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis). Both species are native to Thailand and protected by the country’s laws. A previous survey of the wildlife trade on Facebook by the Bird Conservation Society of Thailand from December 2015 to April 2016 found several helmeted hornbills on sale.“Given the already critical status this species is at now, any offtake, even in minimal numbers, will have serious implications for its survival,” the report says.Thailand’s laws do not cover wildlife species effectively. Of the 200-odd species listed for sale in the Facebook groups, 105 are protected by law in Thailand under WARPA, which means their trade is prohibited, while the rest are not protected.WARPA is also riddled with loopholes, the report says, particularly when it comes to taking action on trade involving non-native species, including those protected under CITES. The black pond turtle (Geoclemys hamiltonii), for instance, is a non-native species listed in Appendix I of CITES, making its commercial international trade illegal. But the species keeps turning up in wildlife seizures in Thailand, according to TRAFFIC.“Growing online wildlife trade will only pile further pressure on threatened non-native species that currently have no legal protection or regulation,” Kanitha Krishnasamy, acting regional director for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia, said in a statement. “Giving such species protection under Thailand’s law and enabling enforcers to take action is the strongest way to address this critical conservation problem.”Nijman said the Thai government had made progress on tightening the legislation around the trade in elephant ivory and in Asian elephants in recent years. “Now it is time to do the same for other, less charismatic but equally threatened species,” he said.Live wild animals advertised for sale in Facebook groups. From left: spotted owlet, Sunda flying lemur, white-handed gibbon. Images courtesy of TRAFFIC.Besides overhauling existing legislation, Thai authorities must also strengthen their enforcement efforts, TRAFFIC says. For example, the Thai government established the Wild Hawk Unit last year, a specialized task force under the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP), authorized to “search, seize and arrest individuals linked to illegal possession and trade of wildlife in Thailand.”“Any effort to provide law enforcement support should therefore be done in co-ordination with the Wild Hawk Unit,” the report says.“The way forward for Facebook is to have better monitoring of the illegal online wildlife trade in Thailand and elsewhere, and better and quicker ways for the public to report instances of illegal wildlife trade,” Nijman said. “Closed Facebook pages that sell wildlife need to be better regulated and monitored as well.”A spokesperson for Facebook told the BBC the company was “committed to working with Traffic and law enforcement authorities to help tackle the illegal online trade of wildlife in Thailand.”“Facebook does not allow the sale or trade of endangered species or their parts, and we remove this material as soon as we are aware of it,” the spokesperson said.Facebook, however, is only one of many platforms where wildlife is traded illegally. “It is an important platform, but it is just one of many,” Nijman said. “[To] really tackle the illegal online wildlife trade we need to think bigger and go beyond Facebook.”Live wild animals advertised for sale in Facebook groups. From left: leopard cats, black pond turtles, Asiatic black bear. Images courtesy of TRAFFIC.last_img read more

A showcase of rich African culture expected at Miss Emancipation Pageant

first_imgThe seven young ladies vying for the title of Miss Emancipation 2019 are expected to bring their ‘A’ game on Saturday evening when the pageant is hosted at the National Cultural Centre.Those competing for the pageant are Marissa Scott, Denita Prowell, Shenelly Lashley, Marissa Williams, Alieca James, Alicia Joy Boodie and Melynda Paulinea Smith.The pageant is being held under the theme, “Recolouring Culture in All Shades”.The Miss Emancipation Pageant is a highly anticipated event that takes the form of an African gala. It is one of the few occasions in which Guyanese adorn themselves in their African attire showcasing the richness of the culture.The main aim of the show is to showcase the beauty of the African culture while promoting community development and edifying our patrons on our African heritage, our challenges, and solutions.Miss Emancipation is more than just an African-Guyanese show, it is an African experience. In 2012, Miss Guyana African Queen— brain child of Shauna Jemmott and supported by Dr Melissa Varswyk— was held at the National Cultural Centre.In 2013, the show was renamed the Miss Emancipation Queen, in keeping with the celebrations in the month of August. The aim of the Miss Emancipation is to empower young African-Guyanese women through cultural awareness and education.Over the years, the delegates of the Miss Emancipation have been engaging in a series of African History and women empowerment seminars. In addition, engaging in community projects in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics plays an integral role in moulding young minds to get involved in these fields to remain competitive in a changing world.On the night of the pageant, the seven delegates will compete in an introduction segment, business wear segment, project presentation— where the delegates will be given the opportunity to present their project and answer questions relating to their projects—evening gown segment, and finally, the question and answer segment.last_img read more

‘Friends’ of Sam Brown Network Gains Momentum

first_imgA group of Ganta residents under the banner “Friends of Sam Brown Network” is gaining momentum in the commercial hub of Nimba County.On Sunday, October 23, groups of girls commended the movement by presenting it an award for supporting youth activities across Ganta.Spokespersons for the groups said the “Friends of Sam Brown Network” repeatedly supported them with sporting materials and basic foodstuff when the district participated in the just-ended district league.“We are very happy for your tireless efforts to help the young people to become united,” said Serena Daniel.The “Friends of Sam Brown Network” is involved in advocacy, youth empowerment and also empowers Ganta communities to keep their respective surroundings clean.In the recent district tournament, some of the teams praised the “Friends of Sam Brown Network” for the help it afforded them to participate in the tournament.The head of the Network, Adada Smith, said their advocacy is to help young people to remain in the classroom and to realize their full academic potential. Meanwhile, Mr. Smith said the Network is undertaking a massive clean-up campaign across Ganta ahead of this year’s Christmas celebration.Mr. Brown, in whose honor the Network is named, is a Nimbaian who owns a chain of businesses across the county. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Williams admits to bribery

first_imgALHAMBRA – Former Mayor John Parker Williams pleaded guilty Friday to one felony count of bribery and was sentenced to one year in county jail. Williams offered a $25,000 bribe to then-Alhambra Councilman Dan Arguello for his support on a senior housing project in August 2004. Williams was arrested in September that year. His business partner, Frank Liu, was arrested the following March. Liu, 73, also pleaded guilty to one felony count of bribery on Friday. He received no jail time, but was given three years’ probation and was fined $10,000. Williams must turn himself in by July 9, 11 days before his 70th birthday. In addition to the jail time, he was ordered by Alhambra Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench to pay a $1,000 fine and serve three years’ probation. Williams and Liu had been scheduled to appear in court for a jury-trial setting date Tuesday. In exchange for their guilty pleas, money laundering and conspiracy counts each faced were dismissed. “He did plead guilty, but under People vs. West, you can plead guilty to something even though you may not be technically guilty, but it may be in your best interest to do so,” Hirsch said. Williams could “go to trial and possibly lose and face possibly more serious consequences.” Liu could not be reached. His lawyer, Donald Re, did not return calls for comment. Roth said her department, the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Division, does not allow “no contest” pleas as part of plea-bargain agreements. “They said the word `guilty,’ both of them,” she said. “We take public corruption very seriously.” Staff Writer Molly Okeon contributed to this story. patricia.ho@sgvn.com (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4586 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “We required them to plead to the most serious charge,” said Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Sandi Roth, who prosecuted the case. “A judge cannot reduce this to a misdemeanor. I want both of them to be branded as felons.” With a penalty assessment, Williams’ fine will likely increase to about $3,000, while Liu’s will be closer to $30,000, Roth said. Williams may do less time because of credit for good behavior and overcrowding at the jail. Williams declined to comment through his attorney, Richard Hirsch. “Even though we had a viable defense, it would be difficult for him and for the city of Alhambra” if the case went to trial, Hirsch said, declining to elaborate. “We decided it would be best to let people heal their wounds and move on with their lives.” Hirsch declined to say whether or not Williams’ plea was in fact an admission that he tried to bribe Arguello. last_img

DESTINATION DUBAI: ARENA 7 EVENT REACHES HEAT NIGHT 3

first_imgDestination Dubai reaches Heat Night Three Congratulations to all who qualified for the semi final of our Destination Dubai competition on the second night of the heats on Friday night past. The atmosphere was quite electric with a very talented bunch of singers taking to the mic. Arena7 had 9 singers in all competing with the qualifiers being: Mayra O Donnell, Aine Sweeney, Alecia Hunter, Eric Roberts & Vinny Mc Laughlin and Anita Fullerton. Heat 3 commences this Friday when 8 more contestants will take to the stage to be in with a chance of winning 7 nights in the 5 star Bonnington Hotel in Dubai. Arena7 are still taking entries so if you would like to enter contact Darren at Arena7 on 0749128853 or sales@arena7.ie DESTINATION DUBAI: ARENA 7 EVENT REACHES HEAT NIGHT 3 was last modified: October 10th, 2011 by BrendaShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Stadium safety: leaving nothing to chance

first_img10 June 2008Stadium security is back in the spotlight following the deaths of 10 spectators at a recent 2010 World Cup qualifying match in Liberia.While the jury is still out over the causes of this tragedy, it has once again highlighted an emotive issue. The rumblings over whether South Africa was capable of hosting a World Cup first started when 43 spectators lost their lives at a Kaizer Chiefs/Orlando Pirates match back in 2001. It was the worst accident in South African sports history, surpassing a stampede a decade earlier, when 42 people died during a match between the same two teams in the mining town of Orkney.Danny Jordaan, who was the CEO of the SA Football Association at the time, called for cool heads. He reminded the international community of similar tragedies like Heysel in 1985, when 30 people died during the European Cup final, or Hillsborough (four years later), when a stampede left 96 Liverpool supporters dead.Nevertheless, Jordaan took the painful decision to postpone plans for the launch of the country’s 2010 bid. A commission of inquiry was conducted and a number of recommendations were made.And since South Africa was awarded the rights to 2010, many more safety measures have been introduced at stadiums around the country. It’s safe to say that spectator safety is unlikely to be a problem for either the 2009 Confederations Cup or the 2010 World Cup.As part of Africa’s 2010 legacy, it is crucial that South Africa shares these lessons with the rest of the continent.Urquhart is a former Fifa World Cup media officer and the current editor of Project 2010last_img read more

US publisher buys rights to young South African’s tale

first_img21 January 2015The international rights to youth activist Malaika wa Azania’s book, Memoirs of a Born Free: Reflections on the Rainbow Nation, have been bought by Seven Stories Press, a US publisher based in New York.In making their offer, Dan Simon, publisher at Seven Stories Press, compared Wa Azania to “a young Steve Biko, someone I have long revered for the directness and clarity and power of his vision and his words”, Jacana Media, Wa Azania’s South African publisher, said in an undated media release.The Press plans to publish the book in the US this year “and will be seeking further international publishing opportunities in the new year for the young firebrand”, Jacana said.Memoirs of a Born Free as Wa Azania’s “long-overdue letter to the ANC” as well as “a journey of the extraordinary life that she has lived”, Jacana said.According to BooksLive, Malaika wa Azania is the pen name of 23-year-old Malaika Lesego Samora Mahlatsi, described as a “fierce debater and an activist devoted to pursuing the African Renaissance agenda”.Her book recounts her experience of growing up in Meadowlands, Soweto, through the end of apartheid and during South Africa’s transition to democracy. Along the way, she develops her Pan-Africanist ideals and identifies herself as a “fighter and future custodian for blackness”.Wa Azania has said she rejects the notion of “born frees”: “Even in the book I speak about how I feel the term born free is a false thesis,” she says in a video interview with Polity.co.za. “The entire narrative around what born frees are is itself a false thesis. I don’t believe there is such a group of people called born frees.”The 23-year-old author told TimesLive that the US deal would help her continue to provide for her family and pay her fees at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, where she is a student.“I am the breadwinner at home after my mother was retrenched.”Wa Azania’s story is not a reflection of the freedom spoken about in the romantic speeches of government officials, Jacana says. “It epitomises the ongoing struggle for liberation and for emancipation from the mental slavery that still exists even in the ‘born-free’ generation.”SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

Weekly Writers Round-Up: Charter Schools, Endless Wars, and Outdated Alert Systems

first_imgEach week, we’ll be featuring opinion pieces from the alumni and current participants of AFF’s Writing Fellows Program. A few highlights from the past week are below. For more information on how the program can help launch your career in writing, see here.Bernie’s Blunder: Profit Isn’t the Problem in K-12 Education by Christian Barnard (Spring 2019) in The Washington ExaminerA few days ago, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., announced a far-reaching plan to reform K-12 education, and he’s coming for charter schools. Sanders wants to halt federal funding for new charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run, and ban for-profit charter schools outright. For many education activists, this change is more than welcome. As education consultant Andrew Rotherham put it in a column for U.S. News & World Report, “For-profit charters are barely more popular than cancer among the education crowd.”But all of these folks seem to have the wrong idea because profit isn’t a bad thing…Honor Veterans by Considering Alternatives to the Foreign Policy Status Quo by Jerrod Laber (Fall 2017) in The HillWashington has a bias for war. Since 2001, the United States has occupied Iraq and Afghanistan, and is currently conducting anti-ISIS and anti-Iranian operations in Syria as part of their ongoing civil war. Seven countries are experiencing American-led bombing campaigns, and U.S. forces are involved in some form of combat in 14 different counties. If you include training exercises and the presence of U.S. bases as part of the war on terror, 40 percent of the entire world bears the imprint of the U.S. military.On Memorial Day, we honor those who have died as a result of these efforts, as well as those in previous conflicts. This particular Memorial Day, after 18 years of continuous war, lawmakers and citizens alike should reflect not just on who died, and where and how, but also on the question of why…An Amber Alert Was Botched Because Detectives Struggled to Work a Fax Machine. Wait, What? by Billy Binion (Spring 2018) in ReasonPolice detectives located an 8-year-old kidnapping victim from Fort Worth, Texas, early on Sunday morning—in spite of a botched Amber Alert, a message meant to sound the alarm when a child has been abducted by a stranger and faces risk of serious injury or death.A slew of bureaucratic roadblocks prevented the alert from effectively disseminating news about the status of Salem Sabatka, whose mother reported her abduction to law enforcement on Saturday at 6:37 p.m.One of the hurdles was particularly bizarre. The Amber Alert system still requires that radio stations receive the information via fax, but detectives struggled with the fax machine, so it never went through…last_img read more

Legal Analysis: Parsing the Stem Cell Case

first_imgDoes human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research violate the law? And does it make sense to halt federal funding of the work while the courts weigh this question? Yesterday, Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., ordered that the funding ban he imposed 2 weeks ago stick for now . The Department of Justice is expected to appeal this ruling, making the case even more convoluted. Meanwhile, scientists nationwide, and especially at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where all hESC work is at a standstill, are incensed and deeply unsettled by the case. Although moral opposition to hESC research is certainly helping drive Sherley v. Sebelius, the case also includes some tricky legal questions. Legal scholars say there are three separate parts to the case, and dissecting each one makes it easier to understand where the judge is coming from—and where the ambiguities lie. Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*) First, do the plaintiffs, scientists studying adult stem cells, have the right to bring this case? Second, is their argument—that hESC research violates the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, which prohibits federal funding for research that destroys or harms embryos—reasonable? And third, what’s behind Lamberth’s preliminary injunction halting funding while he decides the case? Here’s ScienceInsider’s stab at parsing each of these questions. In the legal world, the first point is referred to as “standing,” that is, whether plaintiffs have a right to bring a particular case to court. To have standing, the plaintiff “has to have suffered an actual harm caused by the defendant’s action,” says expert Suzanna Sherry of Vanderbilt University Law School in Nashville. Initially, Lamberth didn’t take favorably to the standing of the plaintiffs, who at first were a broader group including embryos as well as an organization, Nightlight Christian Adoptions, that provides embryo-adoption services. He dismissed the case and the plaintiffs appealed. The D.C. Court of Appeals agreed in part with Lamberth, but it held that two of the original plaintiffs—scientists James Sherley and Theresa Deisher—were being harmed by NIH’s funding of hESC research. Those two remained on the suit while the rest were removed. This may seem a stretch to scientists who argue, correctly, that NIH funds far more research into adult stem cells than embryonic ones. But “harm” from a legal standpoint doesn’t always have to be grievous to count in the courts. “The court has wavered on how direct and immediate the harm has to be,” says Sherry. Here, she believes, “the harm is pretty clear—their pool of funds is reduced.” This may still be speculative—Sherry agrees that it’s not as though Sherley’s grant was denied because it went directly to an ES cell researcher. But, she adds, some courts believe “standing should be interpreted very liberally because we don’t want to kick people out of court” who might have a case. Standing requires not only that someone has been harmed but also that with a court ruling favorable to them, the harm will dissipate. And that’s hardly certain here, says Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California, Irvine, School of Law. “I was very surprised that they found standing in this instance,” he says. There’s no indication that Sherley and Deisher (who has never applied for an NIH grant) would be awarded funding if support for hESC research was terminated. Harm also must be viewed through the prism of wrongdoing. It’s not as though any scientist whose grant goes unfunded can successfully sue NIH. However, says Sherry, if they claimed that the agency was flipping a coin to award grants or doling out funds to the friends of NIH officials, then they’d have a case. Here, Sherley and Deisher are alleging that NIH is violating a 1995 Congressional statute called the Dickey-Wicker Amendment. Dickey-Wicker prohibits the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which encompasses NIH, from funding the destruction of human embryos or funding research in which embryos are destroyed. When Dickey-Wicker was written 15 years ago, hESC research hadn’t yet begun. “Everything we talked about was about research directly on the embryo,” for example, to improve on infertility treatment or better understand cancer biology, says R. Alta Charo, a law professor and bioethicist at the University of Wisconsin Law School who was a member of the NIH Human Embryo Research Panel in the mid-1990s, which considered how embryos might be used in research. “Dickey-Wicker was a reaction to that.” In 1999, Harriet Rabb, who was then the general counsel at HHS, concluded that Dickey-Wicker didn’t preclude government support for hESC research. The funding prohibition, she wrote, “would not apply to research utilizing human pluripotent stem cells because such cells are not a human embryo within the statutory definition.” This argument was accepted by the Clinton, Bush, and Obama Administrations, and Congress appropriated money for hESC research. Rabb declined to comment for this story. Whether Sherley and Deisher have a case that funding hESC research violates Dickey-Wicker is tricky, say some scholars. On the one hand, “you could say there’s a tension” that comes from separating embryo destruction from research on the resulting cells, says John Robertson, who studies law and bioethics at the University of Texas School of Law. Another problem is that in its July 2009 Guidelines on Human Stem Cell Research, NIH spelled out specific requirements about embryo donation for newly derived lines, says Pilar Ossorio, a legal scholar who studies research ethics at the University of Wisconsin Law School. The donation process is entirely separate from the research on the resulting cells. But NIH included this information in its guidelines to ensure that there was no undue influence on embryo donations for research, says Ossorio. One unintended consequence is that some may wonder, “If NIH doesn’t even fund destruction of embryos, why do these guidelines even talk about that?” she says. The plaintiffs’ lawyers highlighted that point in their brief submitted on Friday. The Dickey-Wicker Amendment prohibits funding of research in which embryos are “knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death,” they note. They then argue that “By creating a financial incentive for embryonic stem cell research—an incentive that by NIH’s own admission involves investments of “hundreds of millions of dollars”—and by specifying the precise means by which embryos must be destroyed in order to qualify for federal funding, the NIH necessarily and knowingly subjects embryos to a substantial risk of injury or death.” On the flip side, to agree with the plaintiffs “is to say that the [federal] agencies got it wrong” for all these years, says Charo. Courts tend to defer to federal agencies on interpreting statutes like Dickey-Wicker, and the fact that the HHS interpretation has been consistent and wasn’t challenged in court until now may weaken the plaintiffs’ case. Ultimately, Robertson says, whether you agree with Lamberth comes down to how you define “research.” Lamberth, he says, is “a lumper, not a splitter.” In his preliminary injunction on 23 August, Lamberth wrote that “if one step or ‘piece of research’ of an ESC research project results in the destruction of an embryo, the entire project is precluded from receiving federal funding by the Dickey-Wicker Amendment.” This is “mushing things together that in the real world of science are quite separate,” says Robertson. How hESCs are cultured, which genetic or chemical signals cause them to differentiate into different cell types, how their pluripotency is preserved—“each of those is almost a mini-world to itself among researchers.” Whether that separation matters is one key to assessing the case. One of the most confusing elements of Sherley v. Sebelius is whether the Bush rules, which allowed for research on hESC lines that existed in 2001, violates Dickey-Wicker. In yesterday’s order, Lamberth wrote that they did not: “The prior [Bush Administration] guidelines, of course, allowed research only on existing stem cell lines, foreclosing additional destruction of embryos.” The current NIH guidelines allow research with newly derived lines, which Lamberth sees as inseparable from the destruction of embryos. “By its own logic,” says Charo, Lamberth’s ban on funding “should only apply to … cell lines that are being derived now.” Cell lines derived 3 months or a year ago “should still be eligible for funding,” she argues. One spot where Lamberth is on shaky ground, legal scholars believe, is in his decision to issue a preliminary injunction 2 weeks ago. An earlier case cited by Lamberth calls preliminary injunctions “an extraordinary remedy.” They’re granted only when it’s considered very likely that the parties seeking them are likely to succeed in their case; when they will suffer irreparable injury without one; and when an injunction won’t “substantially” injure the other parties with a stake in the outcome and will further the public good. Experts are particularly dubious about the harm suffered by Sherley and Deisher if funding of hESC research were to continue while the judge considers the case. The interests of the plaintiffs here “seem very slight indeed, [and] do not seem harmful enough … to justify a preliminary injunction,” says Robertson. That’s especially true when one considers the harm to NIH and scientific programs that are now in chaos, he adds. Resolution may need to come from Congress, but it’s unclear exactly what it would entail. Undoing Dickey-Wicker altogether could, legally speaking, be the safest bet—but it may not be politically palatable to lawmakers, especially in an election year. See our complete coverage of this issue.last_img read more