After The Music Stops

first_imgBy electing Barack Obama as the country’s first Black president, Americans defied powerful stereotypes and assumptions about race.Little India first endorsed Obama in the primaries in January 2008, when he was still a long shot. In endorsing him again in the general election, we noted that we had originally been attracted by the historical character of his candidacy as the first minority nominee of a major political party and as the biracial child of a Kenyan immigrant father and a White mother from Kansas. However, we also pointed out that “Obama has worn his multicultural identity with such ease, that the promise that Americans might transcend race in this election already stands delivered.”What the world is now celebrating, we had already acknowledged before the Nov. 4 elections. Our expectations of him only begin there, and they start not simply with coping with the financial wreck he inherits from the Bush administration, which will likely command most of his early attention in the next several months.Important as dealing with the economic meltdown is, it is even more imperative that Obama begin to address the egregious violations of America’s historical commitment to civil rights and liberties by the Bush regime right off the bat, indeed the very day he assumes the presidency on Jan. 20.The Bush administration’s so-called “War on Terror” will go down in ignominy with the Red Scare of the McCarthy era, the Alien & Sedition Acts of 1798 and the persecution of dissenters in World War I and World War II. In the name of a war against terrorism, the Bush administration engaged in reprehensible unconstitutional and criminal violations, including kidnapping people, torturing suspects or rendering them to other countries for torture, and holding prisoners without trial in Guantanamo Bay and other secret gulags. In Bush’s secret society, prisoners were held indefinitely without charge, immigrants were detained and deported without a hearing, or even access to a lawyer, and citizens and non citizens alike were monitored and their telephones and email accounts tapped without judicial or political oversight.Even after Democrats wrested control of Congress in 2006, they did little to rein in, or even document the full extent of these abuses.One of Obama’s first acts, on Jan. 20, must be to shut down Guantanamo Bay, which shall forever stand as a shameful episode in American history. He should also launch a “truth commission,” similar to the one established in South Africa to document the abuses of apartheid, with the aim of exposing the full extent of the mendacity and the abuses of political rights and civil liberties by the Bush regime.Even though Pres. George Bush and Vice Pres. Dick Cheney will not be prosecuted for what were unquestionably criminal and constitutional violations of the office they had sworn to uphold, they must be publicly exposed and humiliated.After the music stops on his inauguration on Jan. 20, constitutional scholar Obama’s first task – crucial if only for its symbolism – must be to open up the secret files of the Bush administration, so that no future president ever dare engage in such heinous atrocities again.   Related Itemslast_img read more

NIH expands program to crack medical mysteries

Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Harvard Medical School in Boston, which received a $9 million award in January to act as “coordinating center,” will facilitate collaboration between researchers and will make patient data widely available through public repositories such as NIH’s database of Genotypes and Phenotypes, explained Anastasia Wise, director of NHGRI’s Division of Genomic Medicine, at a press conference today.Since the program launched in May 2008, it has received applications from about 3200 patients, 750 of which were selected for study. “There has never been a shortage of referrals to the program,” UDP Director William Gahl said today. (Indeed, in 2011, the program temporarily stopped accepting applications to catch up on the flood of inquiries.) The program’s track record for medical sleuthing depends on how you define a diagnosis, Gahl said. Between 25% and 50% of cases are considered “resolved” based on a clinical, molecular, or biochemical diagnosis, while about a quarter are closed without an answer. “You can see that this is a difficult work, in which we sometimes fail,” he added.The program now admits about 150 patients per year at the NIH Clinical Center, but plans to accommodate 50 per year at each of the seven sites by the summer of 2017. 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Country An effort at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) to diagnose mysterious diseases is undergoing a major expansion. Representatives of the Undiagnosed Diseases Program (UDP), administered by NIH’s National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), announced today that six medical centers will join the program, forming a network of clinical sites to investigate intractable cases from patients around the country. The program aims to offer patients a long-awaited diagnosis—and sometimes treatment—while building up data for scientists studying the genetic basis of rare diseases.The new sites—Baylor College of Medicine; the Harvard teaching hospitals (Boston Children’s, Brigham and Women’s, and Massachusetts General); Duke University; Stanford University; the University of California, Los Angeles; and Vanderbilt University Medical Center—will each receive a 4-year grant of roughly $7.2 million to participate. Like the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, that served as a pilot site, the centers will host patients for about a week at a time, performing extensive clinical tests and genetic sequencing in search of an explanation for their symptoms. read more