Government plans to introduce a new safer form of

first_imgGovernment plans to introduce a new safer form of pre-natal testing for Down’s syndrome and other conditions send a message to disabled people that they are “better off being dead than being born”, according to a leading activist.The Department of Health (DH) is believed to be poised to give the go-ahead to non-invasive pre-natal testing (NIPT) across the NHS.Supporters of NIPT claim it is a safer form of pre-natal testing for Down’s syndrome that will eliminate many of the miscarriages caused by pregnant women opting for an invasive amniocentesis.Those who test positive after NIPT will still need to have an invasive test to confirm the diagnosis.A study funded by the NHS National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) found that introducing NIPT instead of more invasive tests for pregnant women with a more than one in 150 chance of having a child with Down’s syndrome would identify 102 more fetuses with the condition, and prevent 25 miscarriages a year.But campaigners say that pregnant women choose to abort about 90 per cent of fetuses identified as having Down’s syndrome, so the new technique would prevent 25 miscarriages but lead to 92 more abortions of fetuses with Down’s syndrome every year.Some academics point to research by Professor Lyn Chitty, at Great Ormond Street Hospital, for the UK National Screening Committee, which found that 30 per cent of women given NIPT decided to carry a Down’s syndrome fetus to term, compared with six per cent under the current system.But even if that proves accurate when NIPT is rolled out, the NIHR research suggests that it would still see an increase of more than 70 babies with Down’s syndrome aborted every year, compared with 25 fewer miscarriages.Disabled activist Simone Aspis (pictured), founder of the training and consultancy organisation Changing Perspectives, said she was “deeply concerned” by the prospect of NIPT being available from the NHS.She said: “Any test that is being used to eliminate disabled people is definitely a form of eugenics.“What message does it send to other people about disabled people and difference – you’re better off being dead than being born.“The more you screen out, the less tolerant people become of people who are different from themselves, and the more the expectation is that you abort a disabled baby.”But she said that introducing such tests also contributes towards “moving the goalposts”, a gradual process in which society is gradually defining more and more people as disabled and therefore expanding the number of fetuses that are suitable candidates to be aborted.Aspis said the key issue was not whether one pre-natal test was better than another because it reduced miscarriages, but “what kind of society do we want?”She said: “We are always going to end up in a system where resources are tight, and there is elitism, so there is going to be the potential for wanting to be eliminating people who are not deemed to be productive. “Someone who is deemed to be averagely productive now will end up [in 10 or 20 years’ time] being labelled with an impairment and therefore be subjected to medical procedures, screening out, and abortion eugenics.“This money could be much better spent in keeping people alive and upholding their fundamental human and civil rights, such as under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).”Last month, the disabled academic Professor Tom Shakespeare offered his opinions about NIPT for BBC Radio 4’s A Point Of View, in which he said that the “major benefit” was that it would lower NHS costs and “more importantly it will also avoid the dozens of miscarriages which result from amniocenteses each year”.He added: “The down side is the potential delay of several weeks before those women at high risk receive a final confirmation of the status of the pregnancy.”He is chairing a Nuffield Council on Bioethics working group, looking at the ethical and social aspects of NIPT, and said in the recording that he was concerned that the NHS puts “a lot of energy and expense into ensuring that these tests are scientifically robust” but less into “achieving balanced information and sufficient counselling” about life with disability.He pointed out that “advocates for people with Down’s syndrome argue that having the condition does not prevent you from having a good life”, and highlighted his own inherited genetic condition, restricted growth, which he passed on to his two children, but which “never stopped any of us flourishing”.He also warned that NIPT was a technology that had been driven by the commercial sector and that providers were “competing to offer more and more information through these blood tests”.Professor Shakespeare said the government’s decision on NIPT was “not just a minor technical upgrade of fetal anomaly screening in the UK” but was instead “a step change”.He said in his BBC recording: “By offering a more accurate and less risky screening test for Down’s syndrome today, we are also taking another step down the path to more widespread testing for conditions in pregnancy tomorrow.”This meant, he said, that there was a need for: better availability of balanced information through genetic counselling in pregnancy; up-to-date online information about conditions; and a “wider debate about what information we are prepared to provide in pregnancy” through genetic testing.But Aspis said that even with improved genetic counselling, would-be parents would still make their decisions on whether to abort their children on how they perceived disability, in a society in which there was “a lot of hatred towards disabled people”.Her concerns about NIPT are shared by the Don’t Screen Us Out campaign, a grass-roots initiative supported by people with Down’s syndrome, families and advocate groups and led by Saving Down Syndrome, which aims to “raise awareness around the discriminatory and eugenic nature of the practice of antenatal screening worldwide”.The campaign has written an open letter to health secretary Jeremy Hunt, warning that introducing NIPT would have “a profound long-term effect on the community of people with Down’s syndrome and further enable the effective ‘screening out’ of those with certain disabilities from the UK population before they are even born”.It called on Hunt to delay the introduction until there is “a full ethical review” of NIPT and the government’s fetal anomaly screening programme, involving people with Down’s syndrome and their families, to ensure NIPT is “consistent and compliant” with the UNCRPD and other human rights obligations. The letter adds: “This must be accompanied with medical reforms to ensure every parent with a disability diagnosis receives balanced information and support to ensure that [NIPT] testing does not lead to the further screening out of people with Down’s syndrome.”A DH spokeswoman said: “We want women to make informed decisions and access safe and appropriate tests.“We are considering this carefully and will make an announcement in due course.”last_img read more

San Francisco Unified School District graduates out of 45 years of federal

first_imgAfter nearly 45 years of adhering to a federal mandate sparked by a civil-rights ruling to protect the rights of students learning the English language, the San Francisco Unified School District has been released from the oversight of the Department of Justice.In the 1974 U.S. Supreme Court civil rights decision of Lau v. Nichols, Chinese American students in San Francisco won the right for students with limited English proficiency to receive meaningful educational programs and services. The result was the Lau Consent Decree, which ordered the school district to create a plan that would accommodate its English language learner students. The Supreme Court also held that all public schools needed to provide bilingual education programs for English learners.The decision to release the district from federal oversight on June 30 means that it has fulfilled the Justice Department’s demands for English language learners.As required by California and federal laws, the district will now work on its own plan, which will involve key stakeholders — such as English language learners and their families, principals, teachers and district officials — in the process, said Christina Wong, who is the assistant to the superintendent and facilitated implementation of the decree.The Department of Justice audited the school district every year and interviewed a variety of departments to track the decree’s progress.By December, 2018, the DOJ had closed 101 of the decree’s 109 paragraphs. The remaining eight paragraphs — 55.a, 56.a, 57-58, 72, 101.d, 105 and 109 — were completed at the end of June.“The United States has diligently monitored the [school district’s] programs for English learner students in this historic case and determined that the district has satisfied its obligations,” said the Department of Justice in a statement to Mission Local.Although the school district has been released from the decree, its impact endures.The school district and the DOJ decided that third grade students enrolled in their 15 Spanish dual immersion and bi-literacy pathways will now be taught math in English, rather than Spanish, this upcoming school year.By third grade, students begin to take the California standardized test, known as Smarter Balanced, to measure their progress in math and English language arts. The assessment will likely serve as an additional indicator to highlight where students could use extra support.In the Mission District, the sites affected include Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8, Leonard R. Flynn, Marshall, Bryant, Chávez, Moscone and Sanchez elementary schools.It will, however, be an eventual transition.Previously, third graders in the Spanish language pathways received 60 percent of total instruction in Spanish and 40 percent in English.When students return to school in August, they will continue to receive 60 percent of instruction in Spanish during the fall; but by spring, both languages will be equally taught to help them shift to the 50-50 language split in the fourth and fifth grades. “We were seeing a lot of students very shocked about the shift in fourth grade, and so we wanted to do a slower on-ramp in the spring semester of third grade,” said Jennifer Steiner, director of the school district’s Office of Professional Growth and Development.If an English learner requires additional support, teachers will still be able to front-load in Spanish and then provide instruction in English.“We want instruction to be solely in one language at a time,” she continued. “We don’t want students to be code-switching, so we support teachers directly with professional development [training].”At this point, the Multilingual Pathways Department, which assists in developing bi-literacy programs at the school district level, have met with the leaders of each school with a Spanish program to discuss the transition plan, while a roll-out with teachers and parents will begin in the fall.“We have come a long way since the 1970s,” said Wong. “We feel like we’re ready for that next stage to be able to develop our own master plan and we want to continue supporting English learners with the promising practices we’ve learned.” Percentage of English and Spanish instruction in bilingual classes to be juked — less Spanish, more Englishcenter_img Subscribe to Mission Local’s daily newsletter Email Addresslast_img read more

Since Justin Holbrook came in the adage has been t

first_imgSince Justin Holbrook came in the adage has been to take it game by game.And it seems to have been working as his side are now in the top four after being written off not too long back.“We had a great performance against Cas and people have taken note as we are the first team to beat them at home, but it means nothing if we don’t carry it on,” Roby said. “We will keep working hard in training and prepare the best we can. We are slowly improving but there is still a long way to go.“We will continue to take each game as it comes and if in six or seven weeks down the line we are in the Grand Final we will go for it. I am confident in the ability of this team to go on and win it but I’m sure every team would say the same.“It’s Super 8s time now and the level will intensify. Hopefully we can use that to our advantage.”Hull come to the Totally Wicked Stadium this Friday with Saints edging the series between the two sides two to one.“Hull have a big pack with big outside backs who do damage with early carries in each set, but we just have to concentrate on our own game,” Roby added. “Of course we will have to keep an eye on Danny Houghton and Mark Sneyd who is very creative. We have to work hard for each other, get our game right and bring that work ethic from last week too.“Hull are in third place and we are neck and neck with them. We haven’t been at home for a few weeks and we want to put on a good show. We want go above them on the table too.“But it’s about picking up two points as cut off time will come around soon so we need as many as we can get.”Tickets for Friday’s game remain on sale from the Ticket Office at the Totally Wicked Stadium, by calling 01744 455 052 or by logging on here.Fans can also take advantage of a three-game package for our home games too:Prices (Three-Game):Hattons Solicitors West and Family Stand: £60 (Adult), £40 (Conc), £15 (Junior)South East Family Stand: £60 (Adult), £40 (Conc), £15 (Junior)Totally Wicked North Stand & South Stand: Bronze – £65 (Adult), £50 (Conc), £15 (Junior); Silver – £75 (Adult), £55 (Conc), £15 (Junior); Gold – £80 (Adult), £60 (Conc), £15 (Junior)2017 Memberships cover our three home games whilst Junior Members can also watch our away Super 8 fixtures as part of their Membership.The package can be found on the Membership section of the store website.last_img read more

Historic site turns into a colonial town for visitors

first_imgPort Brunswick Days (Photo: Jenna Kurzyna/WWAY) BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A weekend to go back in time. Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson let visitors take a look at what life was like in colonial times.The historic site hosted it’s second Port Brunswick Days free event this weekend.- Advertisement – It focused on the Town of Brunswick, which was the first permanent English settlement in southeastern North Carolina.It was a way to show visitors what life would have been like during that time period.They had examples of different trades and skills people had more than two-hundred and fifty years ago.Related Article: Minority troops of Civil War given the recognition they deserve“All the staff here have a love for teaching, a love for educating at the core of it. That’s what it is, so to teach people about the folks who were here, to teach people about different ways of life, to allow folks to think about what life would have been like over 250 years ago,” assistant site manager Shannon Walker said.This interactive learning experience was filled with activities for people to enjoy while exploring the past.last_img read more

Battleship North Carolina announces Memorial Day plans

first_imgBattleship North Carolina (Photo: Taylor Yakowenko/WWAY) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Memorial Day is this weekend and the USS North Carolina is planning a big celebration including some big name speakers.North Carolina Secretary of Military and Veterans Affairs Larry Hall, Battleship Commission Chair Christopher Boney, and North Carolina Air National Guard Colonel Allan Cecil will all speak at the ships’ 57th annual Memorial Day Ceremony.- Advertisement – The ship opens at 4 p.m. The free event starts at 5 p.m.Friday marks the start of the Battleship’s summer hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Labor Day.last_img

Medical facilities fight proposed drug treatment facility

first_imgWILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Back in February, Wilmington City Council approved a special use permit for a drug abuse treatment center, which has been in the works for more than four years. Now two medical facilities have filed an appeal, asking for an injunction.The multi-million dollar facility will have 100 beds for those seeking treatment for addiction. It will be known as the Healing Place, modeled after Healing Transitions in Raleigh.- Advertisement – “When you look in the obituary section in our newspaper, people are dying every day from overdoses,” said New Hanover County Commission Chair Jonathan Barfield.Lower Cape Fear Hospice and Delaney Radiology are against the treatment facility being built near their facilities.In litigation filed by attorneys, they say the only other group home facility in North Carolina operated by Trillium has had 172 arrests due to crimes committed by people who live at and use the facility.Related Article: Christmas cheer fills aquarium for annual Festival of Trees“No one’s going to be committed there, or having to go there by court order. These are folks that want to go and get the help that they need because they really want help to indeed better their lives,” Barfield argued in favor of the facility.Barfield says New Hanover County desperately needs this facility in order to fight the opioid epidemic. He says the location was chosen due to its proximity to the hospital, employment centers, public transportation, and places to eat.In a previous interview with WWAY, hospice said their location was also chosen for a specific reason.“The noise and the light pollution is one of the bigs things that we are concerned about, because this is very peaceful. It was the purpose of creating this here to be able to have this type of environment,” said Hospice CEO Gwen Whitley.Barfield says by right the county can go in and put a treatment facility, but they needed that special use permit in order to provide overnight accommodations.“We feel very confident that we will prevail in superior court, when this thing goes to the next level,” said Barfield.We reached out to Lower Cape Fear Hospice, who cannot comment, and referred us to their attorney. We left a message with the attorney, but have not heard back.Though not a petitioner in the appeal, The Children’s Learning Center of Wilmington has also expressed concerns. It is also near the property in question, and claims more than half of parents who use the daycare would remove their children if the treatment center was built.A condition of City Council’s approval of the center back in February was that one licensed security guard would be on site of the center during all hours of operation.last_img read more

Wilmington theater to close in August

first_imgTheatreNOW in Wilmington (Photo: Jenna Kurzyna/WWAY) WILMINGTON, NC (StarNews) — After seven years in business, dozens of productions staged and countless meals served, Wilmington dinner theater TheatreNOW will close its doors in August.Owner Alisa Harris announced the closure of the theater, located at 10th and Dock streets, on Wednesday. The current run of Celia Rivenbark and Kevin Parker’s comedy “This Hurricane Blows: A Cat 5 Comedy” will continue its run through June 29 as scheduled, Harris said, with the venue’s final production to be “Clue: The Musical,” scheduled July 19-Aug. 24.- Advertisement – “I just wanted to create a place where theater folks could get paid a little bit to do what we love,” Harris said in a news release. “Running this business was never a dream of mine. I just saw it as decent business model … My idea was this would be a communal place for food, drinks and some theatrical fun in as professional a setting as was affordable.”Read more here.last_img read more

Four County Electric gets 11M in Hurricane Florence reimbursements

first_imgPhotos of NC Highway 53 in Pender County near Mapel Hill taken days following Florence in mid September 2018. (Photo: NCDOT) PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The power company for part of our area perhaps hit hardest during Hurricane Florence is getting reimbursed millions of dollars from the state and federal government.FEMA announced today that Four County Electric Membership Cooperative is getting $11.2 million to reimburse the utility for damage to its electrical systems following Hurricane Florence. The co-op serves about 32,500 customers in Bladen, Columbus, Duplin, Onslow, Pender and Sampson counties.- Advertisement – Four County said in a news release last fall that it 91& of its customers lost power in Florence, which made landfall at Wrightsville Beach on Sept. 13, 2018. Ten days later Four County said it had 99% of its customers back online. The remaining took longer, because of trouble accessing sites because of flooding and washed out roads or homes that had damage that had to be repaired by the homeowners before power could be restored.Four County’s reimbursement is part of more than $22 million announced today by FEMA and the state of North Carolina. The rest of the money went to Carteret-Craven and Tideland electric cooperatives. FEMA covers at least 75% of the cost, while the state picks up the rest.last_img read more

Leave the hamlets be says Opposition to Government

first_img SharePrint The Speaker of the House of Representatives has been presented with a Private Members’ motion tabled by the Opposition to safeguard the hamlets in the local council elections. hamlets are homogeneous areas within a locality which were given the right to a representative council  but which the current law, as amended, has removed. The Partit Nazzjonalista, as Opposition is seeking to repeal that part of the law to retain the right of these hamlets, such as Bubaqra, Paceville and Burmarrad, to keep a representative council. <a href=’;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a>center_img WhatsApplast_img read more

Second UK extension risks European unity – MEP

first_img SharePrint <a href=’;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a> MEP Guy Verhofstadt had warned that the EU Council President’s decision to grant the UK a further extension risks European Unity.During yesterday’s plenary session examining the conclusions of the European Council’s decision to grant a further extension to October 31st, the Dutch MEP told Mr Tusk that his decision poses serious risks for European Unity.He told Mr Tusk, the EU Commission President Mr Jean Claude Juncker and fellow MEPs that he disagreed with the decision in the first place, stressing instead that the UK Prime Minister Theresa May should’ve been offered ‘no extension at all or ultimately a very short one, a few days, a week. Instead you gave her six months.’Read more:Brexit: ‘If MPs can’t agree, the people have to decide’ – GreenMaltese Prime Minister wanted shorter Brexit extensionBrexit: Extension must be interests of Malta and EU – MuscatHe warned that such an action only prolongs the uncertainty and, ‘I fear it will import the Brexit mess into Europe … Moreover, it will poison the upcoming European election.’Verhofstadt’s comments come after an EU Summit held on the 10th April which saw EU Council President Donald Tusk announce that a second extension to Article 50 would be granted allowing the UK more time for the UK Parliament to negotiate and support the existing Brexit withdrawal agreement.Despite three defeated votes on the deal,  two sets of indicative votes and a number of amendments and motions, MPs had only agreed that the UK should not leave without a deal.  However, they have been unable to support the existing agreement, resulting in the Prime Minister having to request a further extension.Running down the clockAdding to the MEP’s fears was that the pressure was off for Westminster and the immediacy of cross party talks to secure a deal, was no longer there. Instead he said that he forsaw that they would go back to, ‘running down the clock.’To make his point, Verhofstadt said that the first decision made by the House of Commons following the news was to go on their Easter holidays.Unlikely hero?In a strange turn of events, the MEP went on to say that he believed the only way the EU would be saved from the Brexit situation expanding into Europe, would be if the former UKIP leader Nigel Farage managed to succeed. Farage is now leading the newly formed ‘Brexit Party’ with candidates fielded for the European Elections.‘I never thought I would say this but the only thing that will save us is Nigel Farage,’ Verhofstadt said.Concluding, he warned Mr Tusk that he must get the UK’s key political parties to come up with a deal immediately, ‘in the coming days to avoid this imminent disaster.’‘If we don’t win in the EU, there is the General election’Taking his turn to speak, MEP Nigel Farage said that his new party will win in the EU elections unless there is cross party consensus between the two parties.This may bring with it a permanent customs union or membership of the EU Single Market.But, he stressed that if such a scenario does occur there is always the UK General Election and a chance for voters to back them after the main parties had effectively betrayed their wishes in the Referendum.Read more:Updated: MPs vote in favour of Brexit delay, and other updates‘Brexit was the trigger,’ a new Maltese citizen explainsWatch: MEPs support visa free travel for UK nationals in event of No-Deal BrexitHumiliationFarage also went on to explain that he felt the Prime Minister’s return to Brussels to request a further extension had shown not only the death of demoncracy in the UK, it had also humiliated the UK’s standing in the world.The MEP then went on to explain how the EU elections would be a defining moment for the UK, defining what kind of country it wanted to be.‘This mess is not the EU’s fault, this is a mess of UK politics. They promised to deliver Brexit … What is happening in British politics beginning May 23rd isn’t now just about Brexit, isn’t just about us leaving the Eu, it’s about what kind of country we are … You will all be surprised what happens to British democracy on May 23rd.’WhatsApplast_img read more