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Post  surf on Tue Feb 23, 2010 8:39 pm

Suit possible over baby DNA sent to military lab for national database
State says blood specimens were sent for research that will help identify missing persons. Harry Cabluck/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Enlarge Photo Lawyer Jim Harrington has sued over lack of consent in DNA policy and may sue over database.

J. Scott Applewhite/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Enlarge Photo Blood is drawn from newborns for tests. In Texas, samples had been stored without consent.

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Published: 8:55 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22, 2010

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An Austin lawyer threatened to pursue a new federal lawsuit Monday after learning that some newborn blood samples in Texas went to the U.S. military for potential use in a database for law enforcement purposes.

The Department of State Health Services never mentioned the database to Jim Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project, who settled a lawsuit in December with the state over the indefinite storage of newborn blood without parental consent, or to the American-Statesman, which first reported on the little-known blood storage practice last spring. Harrington said he thought another suit was likely unless the health department destroys the information obtained from the blood samples or obtains consent.

"This is the worst case of bad faith I have dealt with as a lawyer," he said Monday.

Jerry Strickland, a spokesman for the Texas attorney general's office, which represented the health department, fired back. "During this litigation, Harrington was provided accurate answers to the questions he asked," he said.

"Once Harrington negotiated $26,000 in attorneys' fees and costs for himself, accepted a settlement agreement and got his desired headlines, he was satisfied and dropped his

lawsuit against DSHS. It appears recent media reports caused Harrington to backtrack in an effort to obscure how he chose to handle this case," he said

An article Monday by the Texas Tribune, a news Web site, said the state health department sent 800 anonymous samples to the military to help create a national mitochondrial DNA database. The samples were sent in 2003 and 2007, according to the department's Web site.

Carrie Williams, a health department spokeswoman, said the program wasn't mentioned because, "We don't publicize every agency initiative or contract, and obviously this is a sensitive topic."

Texas agreed to take part in the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory database project because blood spots might help identify "ethnic or ancestral origins of unidentified corpses using mitochondrial DNA," Williams said. "We believed it was an important research project that could potentially help in missing persons cases."

The blood samples are taken from the heel during newborn screening tests for genetic disorders.

The blood spots are collected on coded cards, with the names matching those codes kept on file at the health department. Names are not disclosed without parental consent, the department says.

In March, Harrington sued in federal court on behalf of four parents and a pregnant woman who later dropped out, claiming that the state's collection and indefinite storage of the samples since 2002 amounted to "an unlawful search and seizure."

The Legislature approved a law in May that requires medical professionals to inform parents or guardians that the blood spots are being collected, stored and could be used for research. Parents who object could opt out.

In December, Harrington settled his suit when the health department agreed to destroy 5.3 million samples.

"I can't tell you how many times we sat there, and they said no law enforcement," Harrington said of the lawsuit discussions. "They said, 'It's only about medical research, it's only about medical research.'\u2009"

Williams said the project has been listed on the Web site for weeks and "falls under the broader category of public health research."

"Our intentions over the years have been good," she added, "and we are moving forward with the positive changes to the program."; 445-3619


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Post  surf on Tue Feb 23, 2010 8:40 pm

Update: Citigroup Says Feds Ordered 7 Day Restriction On Bank Withdrawals

Paul Joseph Watson
Monday, February 22, 2010

A new advisory being sent by America’s third largest bank to its account holders has stoked fears that major financial institutions could be preparing for old fashioned bank runs if the economy takes a turn for the worse.

Originally reported by John Carney over at the Business Insider website, Citigroup is sending the following information to customers along with their bank statements.

“Effective April 1, 2010, we reserve the right to require (7) days advance notice before permitting a withdrawal from all checking accounts. While we do not currently exercise this right and have not exercised it in the past, we are required by law to notify you of this change.”

An almost identical advisory to the one being sent out can be read on page 22 of Citbank’s Client Manual effective January 1, 2010, which can be read here from Citibank’s own website.

“We reserve the right to require seven (7) days advance notice before permitting a withdrawal from all checking, savings and money market accounts. We currently do not exercise this right and have not exercised it in the past,” states the manual.

According to the Future of Capitalism blog, Citigroup originally claimed that the warning was only sent nationwide as a result of a mistake, but that the measures do apply to account holders in Texas.

However, in a statement, Citigroup confirmed that they had reserved the right to impose the new 7 day rule on all account holders nationwide, but claimed they had no plans to enforce it. The bank stated that they had been forced to enact the new policy as a result of federal regulations.

A d v e r t i s e m e n t
“When Citibank moved to unlimited FDIC coverage in 2009, we had to reclassify many checking accounts to allow for immediate withdrawals in order to ensure all customers qualified for the additional coverage. When we moved back to standard FDIC coverage with most major banks in 2010, Citibank decided to reclassify those accounts back to make them eligible again for promotional incentives. To do so, Federal Reserve Reg D requires these accounts, called NOW accounts, to reserve the right to require a 7-day notice of withdrawal. We recently communicated this technical requirement to our customers. However, we have never exercised this right and have no plans to do so in the future,” reads a statement released by the bank.

Over the last 18 months, numerous rumors of bank runs, “bank holidays,” and limitations on access to cash at ATM’s have been floating around. Citigroup’s new policy to restrict withdrawals won’t do anything to calm such fears.

As we reported back in 2008, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which guarantees individual accounts up to $100,000, only has about $50 billion to “insure” about $1 trillion in assets across the nation’s financial institutions.

This revelation prompted fears that an accelerating amount of bank closures could absorb FDIC funds and leave holders of money market and traditional savings accounts exposed.


Citigroup Warns Customers It May Refuse To Allow Withdrawals

John Carney

Business Insider

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The image of banks locking their doors to keep customers from making withdrawals during a bank run is what immediately came to mind when we heard that Citigroup was telling customers it has the right to prevent any withdrawals from checking accounts for seven days.


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Post  surf on Tue Feb 23, 2010 8:42 pm

'UK economy must face new world order'
Adrian Lowery, This is Money
22 February 2010, 2:11pm
Reader comments (28)
The British economy will never be the same again and boardrooms are refusing to accept the reality: that is the stark warning that came from a panel of experts today.

New order: The UK economy may have to rebuild its manufacturing base

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The environment for business will 'never return to pre-recession normality' argues the hard-hitting report from a panel of academics convened by BDO LLP.
Moreover, the panel warned that the economy's precarious condition is here to stay until 2015.

The report was published at the same time as research from accounting and business services firm BDO showing that 44% of firms believed that the economy would return to 'business as usual' within the next two years.

Peter Hemington of BDO said that the global economy has become 'unnaturally skewed through the rise of India and China'.

'Although this recession may be over - we hope – the consequences still remain. As a result, the economic environment will remain tough for some time to come.

'Linked to this, we are going through a period of profound societal and technological change which will mean that some business models will wither away and die, while others will thrive and grow.

He added: 'Businesses need to think carefully about how the world is changing and reinvent themselves to make sure they survive and thrive in the new environment.'

The report included forecasts by senior economists from bodies such as the CBI, the Institute of Directors and the Institute for Public Policy Research, in collaboration with think-tank the Centre for Future Studies.

It accused business leaders of being 'blinkered' and complacent in the face of what promises to be a new economic order.

The study pointed out that in 2009, the UK economy shrank by 4.8%, the fastest pace of decline in a single year for 88 years. Recent data from the International Monetary Fund reveals the UK's recession to be six times more severe than the global average.

Taking the recession into account, the UK economy has grown by an average of only 1.7% during the last decade.

The study concludes: 'We believe the next five years will be precarious for companies with high levels of uncertainty, risk and complexity. Although we will see recovery, the word will have a new meaning. We will not return to how things were.'


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