Comparing mainstream and independent media content led me to AlterNet, and this article about private corporations patenting human genes and bodily tissues.

All I can say is that I’m glad I read it earlier in the afternoon: It’s unbelievable enough to get the mind wandering, and terrifying enough to give anyone nightmares.

The article is several weeks old, but still relevant nonetheless: It also goes hand-in-hand with point 14 in my previous post’s list about the Top 25 underreported stories in Canadian media from 2010-2011.

In a nutshell: Because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it is possible to patent living things, Big Pharma has for years been acquiring a monopoly on human gene and tissue patents for the purposes of research and the development of new drugs. This means independent research teams cannot work on patented genes without the consent of the patent-owning corporations, or without paying a hefty fee.

The consequences of this are definitely worth thinking about.

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Here are my thoughts on today’s headlines. Everything but the titles is written by yours truly.

Supreme Court to decide future of safe injection site by Janice Tibbetts:

Even after two court rulings that Vancouver’s Insite is allowed to stay open, the federal government has once again challenged the final verdict by taking the battle to the Supreme Court of Canada in the hopes of shutting the site down.

Before visiting Insite personally, I was strongly against its function: supplying needles to drug addicts on the downtown eastside, and essentially encouraging illegal drug use.

But after talking to some of the site’s facilitators, I now understand that this isn’t a black and white issue. The principle behind Insite is that addicts are going to use either way, so we may as well give them the option of injecting with clean needles, which reduces the risk of spreading HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis C.

The spread of said diseases not only affects users, it also puts a strain on the healthcare system.

Programs like Insite clearly don’t fall under conservative ideals, but what would shutting down the site be achieving?

If the Tories want to discourage drug use, a better first step would be tougher sentencing and penalties for drug related crimes, a step that would reduce the number of people relying on Insite for health purposes.

RCMP Taser use drops, but mentally ill remain more-frequent targets by Philip Ling:

Down from an all-time high in 2007 with 1,583 incidents, Taser use dropped to 276 incidents in 2009.

Since the public inquiry into the Tasering and death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski, new measures have been implemented to ensure the proper use of Tasers by RCMP.

Police are no longer allowed to use the weapon on uncooperative suspects, and are only supposed to be fired when there is a threat to the public or the police.

First nations want ‘reconciliation’ on issue of eagle-killing by Lori Culbert:

Canadian law prohibits the killing of eagles for any purpose, but First nations argue that their traditional practices, which involve killing eagles for the creation of special regalia, are constitutionally protected.

This issue is a part of a broader and ongoing dilemma: Canadian laws vs. constitutional rights.

Several years ago, the law requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets was challenged by those whose religion requires them to wear a turban.

A similar conflict arose over whether or not women wearing a burqa should have to reveal their faces at airports when using passports.

First nations’ rights to practice tradition may be constitutionally protected, but so is the right to freedom of religion: if the government makes an exception for one group to operate outside of the laws we all abide by, then the same must go for all of the other groups.

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@HayleyWoodin

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