Monthly Archives: January 2009

Facebook is Pimping your Children

Now that Harvard’s Berkman Center has reassured us that child predators are not a threat online, we’ve got a new hustler to worry about. And this time it’s Facebook. Buried in the Facebook Terms of Use is this little read and considered clause:

By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise, on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing.

Yes Facebook can SELL little Susie’s beach picture to Playboy for their Facebook Hotties edition. Yesterday, an astute follower of my burgeoning Facebook site pointed out to me that I have freely given Facebook the absolute irrevocable right to SELL anything I post to ANYONE ANYWHERE in the world. (This person is not a lawyer, mind you, and they say lawyers ruin everything). Not only can Facebook sell my content, they can SUBLICENSE it to anyone anytime without any further consent on my part or on the part of the person portrayed in whatever it is that I have posted.

So gentle Facebook readers, fans, posters, devotees, tell everyone you know that anything you post on Facebook now BELONGS TO FACEBOOK. They can sell it. They can license it to others.

Those cute baby pictures—GAP KIDS. Your one-of-a-kind video documentary on the Bush White House—CNN. Your son or daughter’s half-naked drunken orgy—HARVARD ADMISSIONS. Those pictures of you skinny dipping at camp in 1972…okay okay I know, well who would want those? Perhaps the AARP NEWSLETTER.

You and your children are hereby warned. Tell everyone you know: Facebook is THE MAN. They are George Orwell’s 1984 and the Bush Administration ALL IN ONE. They want your children. They want you. Content content content is king. It all belongs to Facebook. And you just gave it to them for FREE!!!

Clinical Trials of NYC Foster Children – NYSDOH Coverup Continues

As I editorialized here in 2005, between 1986 and 2001 hundreds of NYC foster children were involuntarily enrolled in medical experiments. Soon after the story broke in the NYT, NYC commissioned a study by the widely respected Vera Institute for Justice. Almost four years later, that long awaited (forgotten?) study was finally released today.
After interviewing people familiar with the drug trials, reviewing policy documents, and examining the child welfare files of 796 children, Vera staff identified 532 children who were enrolled in 88 clinical trials and observational research studies.

The Vera Report identifies the procedures established to enroll and monitor these children, determines whether the procedures were followed, and discusses children’s outcomes. It also includes the recommendations of Vera and its Clinical Trials Advisory Board to help child welfare staff, elected representatives, and community advocates address the concerns raised by some of the findings.

In my opinion, Vera worked hard to keep the process fair and independent. Unlike Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center, Vera demanded and got complete access to files and records and the full cooperation of staff; full editorial control over the final report; and
oversight by Vera’s own advisory board.

The most disturbing aspect of the report is the complete lack of cooperation by the NYS Department of Health which engaged in an ongoing cover-up by refusing to release medical records:

Vera reviewers found a significant amount of medical information in the child welfare files. However, citing confidentiality laws, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) refused multiple requests from Children’s Services that it use its supervisory authority to allow staff from Vera or Children’s Services to review clinical trial research or medical records. This limited Vera’s review in several ways, including the ability to fully document the frequency and severity of toxicity (side effects), the individual outcomes of trial participation for the children in the review, and the existence of valid, signed informed consent documents.

The Vera review found evidence that supported some concerns about the participation of
foster children and their families in clinical trials. This evidence includes violations of state
regulations, Children’s Services’ own policies for clinical trial review and enrollment, and
federal regulations for protecting human subjects.

The NYSDOH has information which it is withholding which might shed additional light on Vera’s findings. Perhaps NYSDOH, like Harvard’s Berkman Center, is in the pocket of, in this case, the drug industry which sponsored the medical experiments or maybe not. I don’t know enough about how NYSDOH and big pharma operates to address this issue. What I do know is that Governor Patterson, Attorney General Cuomo and the NYS Legislature should all conduct their own review of NYSDOH to make sure that NYC’s most vulnerable children were not sold by the government to the drug industry in its relentless pursuit of profits.

Join me on Twitter!

I have joined the world of Twitter as a supplement to this blog. Twitter is great for those “one off” observations and links which are too insignificant for a blog entry (or, more likely, discovered when I’m too busy to blog!). You can easily follow me on Twitter by going to my Twitter page. You can also create your own Twitter account and participate in an interactive conversation. With only 160 characters per entry it’s a quick easy way to keep everyone apprised of the latest intel as it happens.

Foreign Policy Magazine Exposes International Orphan Myth

Last month, Foreign Policy Magazine ran a hard-hitting expose entitled The Lie We Love. It’s premise: “Foreign adoption seems like the perfect solution to a heartbreaking imbalance: Poor countries have babies in need of homes, and rich countries have homes in need of babies. Unfortunately, those little orphaned bundles of joy may not be orphans at all.”

Finally some truth in advertising. Here’s reporter E.J. Graff on the international orphan myth:

We all know the story of international adoption: Millions of infants and toddlers have been abandoned or orphaned—placed on the side of a road or on the doorstep of a church, or left parentless due to AIDS, destitution, or war. These little ones find themselves forgotten, living in crowded orphanages or ending up on the streets, facing an uncertain future of misery and neglect. But, if they are lucky, adoring new moms and dads from faraway lands whisk them away for a chance at a better life.

Unfortunately, this story is largely fiction.

Westerners have been sold the myth of a world orphan crisis. We are told that millions of children are waiting for their “forever families” to rescue them from lives of abandonment and abuse. But many of the infants and toddlers being adopted by Western parents today are not orphans at all. Yes, hundreds of thousands of children around the world do need loving homes. But more often than not, the neediest children are sick, disabled, traumatized, or older than 5. They are not the healthy babies that, quite understandably, most Westerners hope to adopt. There are simply not enough healthy, adoptable infants to meet Western demand—and there’s too much Western money in search of children. As a result, many international adoption agencies work not to find homes for needy children but to find children for Western homes.

More from this excellent article:

Along the way, the international adoption industry has become a market often driven by its customers. Prospective adoptive parents in the United States will pay adoption agencies between $15,000 and $35,000 (excluding travel, visa costs, and other miscellaneous expenses) for the chance to bring home a little one. Special needs or older children can be adopted at a discount. Agencies claim the costs pay for the agency’s fee, the cost of foreign salaries and operations, staff travel, and orphanage donations. But experts say the fees are so disproportionately large for the child’s home country that they encourage corruption.

To complicate matters further, while international adoption has become an industry driven by money, it is also charged with strong emotions. Many adoption agencies and adoptive parents passionately insist that crooked practices are not systemic, but tragic, isolated cases. Arrest the bad guys, they say, but let the “good” adoptions continue. However, remove cash from the adoption chain, and, outside of China, the number of healthy babies needing Western homes all but disappears.

Read the article and then check out the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism for more information. Listen to Leonard Lopate’s interview with the author, E.J. Graff, Associate Director and Senior Researcher, Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism.