"Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass...
it's about learning how to dance in the rain.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
Ministers' decision to keep the profiles of more than 800,000 innocent people on the national DNA database for the next six to 12 years threatens the use of genetic fingerprinting to solve serious crimes, Sir Alec Jeffreys warned last week.
The inventor of DNA fingerprinting, which has transformed forensic investigations, told the Observer that police retention of profiles - even those belonging to people never charged with any crime - had created intense grievance.
"I am getting lots of emails from innocent people whose profiles are kept on the database. I have also met many of them," said Jeffreys. "There is real upset out there. Some people are seriously distressed. They feel they are being branded as criminals when they are innocent."
In the past, Jeffreys said, people had been willing to give samples to help hunt down rapists and murderers. These included the 4,000 men who volunteered blood in 1987 as part of a police search that led to the conviction of Colin Pitchfork - the first person to be convicted of murder based on DNA evidence.
Today many potential volunteers would refuse to co-operate, Jeffreys said, because it was likely their DNA profiles would be kept by police for years to come. "This is compromising the use of DNA profiles," added Jeffreys. "Certainly, if I was asked now to give a blood sample to help solve a crime, I would have serious doubts about supplying it."
The national DNA database contains the profiles of more than 5 million individuals, the largest in the world per head of population. But last December the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg condemned England, Wales and Northern Ireland for the "blanket and indiscriminate" inclusion of 857,000 innocent citizens' profiles. As a result, the Home Office announced in April that it would remove these profiles, a move that was welcomed by civil liberties groups - until it emerged the government would not start the procedure for another six to 12 years. This revelation outraged many organisations and individuals, including Jeffreys.
"The government - having invested all this money putting 800,000-plus innocent people on the database - seems determined to keep that information for as long as they possibly can, rather than putting their hands up and admitting this is morally wrong," he said. "DNA profiles carry familial information. They reveal a person's biological relationship with others. Storing that data, from innocent people, is a straight violation of their rights to have private family lives."
The police in England, Wales and Northern Ireland - but not Scotland, which has a less draconian system for retaining profiles - say individuals can apply to have their DNA taken off the database. But Jeffreys ridiculed this idea: "You can write to your chief constable, but you will get a standard letter back saying your circumstances are not exceptional or appropriate. You try telling that to a kid who has just been busted for nicking 50p worth of Smarties."
However, Jeffreys stressed his criticisms were directed mainly at politicians, not at the police. "The police have got this fantastic tool and they will do whatever the legislation allows. Politicians are the ones to blame. However, I have spoken to several senior policemen over the past few years, and I get the feeling they are starting to get uneasy about having innocent people on the database - that the blanket approach of grabbing just about anybody off the streets and putting them on the database may not lead to the greatest sympathy from the public."
Friday, June 5, 2009
In this day and age, we all have to be careful about how we share information online. Browsing the Web is the single most popular activity on the PC with both the time people spend on the Web and the range of things they can do continuing to grow.
With social networking sites, online shopping, and online banking becoming more common and convenient, the risk of fraud or identity theft continues to grow. This kind of activity is on the rise every year.
This doesn't mean that you can't surf safely online. Quite the contrary, you just need to follow a few simple guidelines to protect yourself and your family and create a safe and enjoyable experience. And given that June marks Internet Safety Month, it's a good time to think about how best to educate yourself and your loved ones on both the risks out there, and the simple ways to prevent them.
"Consumers really need to be proactive in the fight against cyber crime. Staying safe online is a combination of using the latest and greatest security software tools and exercising good judgment and common sense," says Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance.
In honor of Internet Safety Month, here are eight tips to help keep you, your family and your personal information safe online: 1. Manage your e-mail inbox. Delete unwanted and unsolicited email and don't open e-mails from people you don't know. Be cautious about unusual e-mail from people you do know. Some cyber criminals use software to make an e-mail look like it comes from an official organization (like your bank) or someone you know.
2. Always think before you click and treat links and attachments in e-mail and instant messaging with caution. Download files only from sites you know and trust and never open an attachment from someone you don't know. These can contain viruses and malware that can cause your computer to break down or is an attempt to steal personal information. If in doubt, delete it.
3. Use extreme caution when working on a public computer; Do not save your log in information, always log out of Web sites by clicking "log out" on the site (even if you are just stepping away for a few minutes), and never enter sensitive or personal information on a public computer.
4. Be sure your firewall is turned on. A firewall is an electronic fence that helps protect your PC from hackers that may try to steal sensitive information. To turn on your firewall, simply click the start button and open the control panel. Follow the security link and then click 'Turn Windows Firewall on or off.'
5. Protect personal information by using strong passwords. Make sure they are lengthy and incorporate letters, numbers and symbols.
6. When shopping online, be a savvy consumer. Conduct online research to find out what others have to say about their customer satisfaction. Be wary of companies that don't provide any contact information, including a physical mailing address and telephone number. 7. The best way to protect yourself is to keep your security software, operating system and browser up-to-date with automatic updates and practice safe online behavior.
8. New security, privacy and reliability features tools in Internet Explorer 8 can provide you with a more secure Internet experience. It's worth considering downloading it for free. Internet Explorer 8 puts you in control of your safety and privacy online and helps protect you from new threats online.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Nursing in public is often a big worry for first time moms. Every mom has her own comfort level about nursing in public. My personal philosophy is that a mom has a right to nurse her baby anywhere that she happens to be! While other publications promote non-discreet public nursing as a way to "force" the public into accepting and promoting breastfeeding, I feel that the best way to promote change is to quietly and discreetly nurse our babies everywhere we go! As people realize that women are nursing their babies all over the place they will realize that there is absolutely nothing objectionable about it! At first, public nursing is really hard! . . . but like anything else, the more you do it the easier it becomes! Our patterns are designed to help you sew up a great nursing wardrobe that will help you nurse your baby easily in almost any situation! The photos in our catalog show moms nursing without "nursing bibs" or other accessories because we want to show you how easy it is to nurse discreetly in our clothing. Babies need to see the world . . . and nobody likes to hide under a big blanket! We hope some of these tips help! (Yes, that's me, nursing my baby in a pool while vacationing in Mexico!)
No one likes to feel exposed or embarrassed. Nursing a baby is a natural and beautiful relationship and while no one thinks twice about feeding a baby a bottle in public, the thoughts of nursing publicly often create strong opinions on both sides. As nursing mothers are taking the country by storm, they have created a whole new way to nurse in public without feeling embarrassed or offending others. You can join this quiet revolution.
1. Practice First To Get Comfortable. Discreet nursing is really a learned art. Some babies are natural at it and some need lots of training! Learn to nurse discreetly while walking around and then you will be able to take your baby anywhere! Once you get your nursing clothing made, practice nursing in it until you are really comfortable and confident in your ability to nurse discreetly.The best place to start is in your own home. Family members are good "guinea pigs" to practice on. Nursing your baby is not a disease or a reason to isolate yourself in the back room. If you are worried about offending anyone, tell him or her that you need to feed your baby and give them the opportunity to leave. The trick here is that they leave, not you! Arm yourself with the attitude that nursing is normal and healthy. You wouldn't eat in bathroom or in the back room, so your baby shouldn't either.
2. Nurse Discreetly. Discreet nursing simply means you avoid drawing attention to yourself and/or exposing yourself while breast-feeding. If you can master this art, you will be able to nurse your baby everywhere and no one will ever know what you are doing. This is sometimes a hot topic, because political breast-feeding activists feel that by nursing discreetly, we are catering to the unhealthy views that breasts are sex objects. The problem is that making a public statement with breast-feeding can put you in a vulnerable situation. You'll need to decide where you personally stand on this issue. Most moms feel much more comfortable about keeping things discreet and you will find that others around you will also feel more comfortable.
3. Get The Right Wardrobe. There is no way you will be able to nurse discreetly in a skintight zip up the back dress. If you are going to be a nursing mother, you are going to have to make adjustments to your wardrobe. The easiest solution is to invest in separates -- sweaters, tops, skirts, jeans. Washable clothing is best. If you have few nursing tops, you can try those out as well. Practice with lots of different styles of clothing and find out what you are most comfortable with. Practice nursing in front of a mirror so you can see yourself exactly as others see you. With regular clothing, lift up your top to expose your breast and then once your baby latches on, adjust the fabric to cover as much of your breast as possible. If you are wearing a button top, unbutton the bottom few buttons but leave the top buttons closed. This will help keep you covered. Eye to eye contact with your baby is important, so try not to completely cover up your baby under your clothing or a blanket. With nursing clothing, once your baby latches on, then you can also adjust the fabric to keep you covered. A baby sling is a great accessory for public nursing. With your baby safely in a sling, you can nurse your baby and have your hands free at the same time. The sling can be adjusted to keep you covered and no one will ever suspect that you are nursing your baby.
4. Stay In Tune With Your Baby's Needs And Feed Him As Soon As You Expect He Is Hungry. When in public situations be very aware of your baby's hunger cues. Every baby is different, but if you are observant, you will notice your baby may root, suck on his/her fist and or begin to get fussy. This is a signal to feed him immediately. Putting off your baby by trying to give him a pacifier or a bottle will just make your breast-fed baby miserable and unhappy. It is so much better to feed babies quickly at the first signs of fussiness or hunger. After a baby has tried every way possible to get your attention, they will start crying hysterically as a last resort. A screaming, miserable baby, whether breast-fed or bottle-fed, attracts lots of negative attention and that is just what we are trying to avoid. A confident mother who is in tune with her baby and meets their needs quickly is much more likely to have a successful public nursing experience.
5. Try Nursing Clothing For Ease in Special Situations. Our two casual top patterns, (Nursing Classics #107 and #207, also available Ready-Made) are my personal favorites for public nursing. I made several and took them on a trip to Mexico. I nursed on the plane, on a fishing boat, absolutely everywhere! The double layer construction keeps you covered in back and at the sides while the overlay keeps you covered up front. Vertical nursing openings like those featured in Nursing Classics #101, 102, 106, 108, 109, 110, 201 203, 204, and 205 are also great for public nursing because they have almost no bulk and are easy to adjust for discreet nursing. Lightweight jackets are also a great accessory because they provide extra coverage if you need it. A receiving blanket is a great nursing accessory if you are feeling uncomfortable, but try to avoid a "big blanket over the shoulder" look; Babies like to have eye contact with their moms. If you use a blanket, keep it low. Most people won't even notice you are nursing your baby if you are casual and discreet about it!
6. Find A Good Spot To Feed Your Baby. This is one of the most critical steps to successful public nursing. If you are in a restaurant, mall, airport or any crowded area, try to sit so you have a little privacy. A booth is great as long as there is enough room to maneuver a baby. Sit so that you can see what is going on. On an airplane, they often offer mothers an aisle seat, but for discreet nursing a window seat is best because it offers you at least one private side. If you can't get any privacy, turn your back while you get your baby latched on, then adjust your clothing and turn back around. Look up at people and make eye contact. Talk to them, laugh, have fun. You can do all of this at the same time you are nursing your baby.
7. What If Someone Is Staring At Me? This can really be an uncomfortable situation. The best thing to do is to return their gaze without backing down. This will usually cause them to look away. This won't happen very often and is much more likely to happen if you have a screaming baby. A nursing baby is a quiet baby and usually doesn't attract much attention. Remember, the whole idea of discreet public nursing is to act like nothing is out of the ordinary. Most people will truly have no idea you are nursing your baby. In summary, just remember that nursing your baby is a normal and healthy part of everyday life. Breast-feeding in public doesn't need to make you nervous or uncomfortable. Stay firm in your knowledge that you are doing the very best thing for your baby. If you act confident and self-assured about nursing in public most people will offer you positive support instead of criticism. By applying these few simple tips to your nursing relationship you will find a sense of freedom you never thought possible.