The Daily Moth 7-9-19
Ross Perot passes away at 89; Federal court says Trump can’t block people on Twitter; Disney actor Cameron Boyce passes away at 20; Five deaf Russian couples may undergo gene editing to prevent deaf children; Son finds deaf mother after 46 years
[Transcript] Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! It is Tuesday, July 9. Ready for news?
Ross Perot passes away at 89
Ross Perot, best known for running for president in 1992 and 1996 as a third party candidate, has passed away at 89 years of age. His family said he died after a five-month battle with leukemia.
Perot was a billionaire who made his fortune from tech businesses in his home state of Texas.
During the 1992 presidential election, he campaigned against former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. He won nearly 19% of the popular vote, but did not win any electoral votes.
In 1996, he established the Reform Party and won 8.4% of the popular vote. Clinton won that election, defeating Perot and the Republican nominee Bob Dole.
Perot leaves behind a wife, five children, and 16 grandchildren.
Federal court says Trump can’t block people on Twitter
A federal appeals court in New York ruled today that President Trump violated the Constitution by blocking people who criticized him on his @realDonaldTrump Twitter account.
The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals said the “First Amendment does not permit a public official who utilizes a social media account… to exclude persons from an otherwise open dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees.”
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia previously made the same ruling.
This means there is a precedent set that any elected official at any level in the U.S. cannot block a person they represent on social media.
The White House has argued that President Trump could block people because he used @realDonaldTrump, not his official @POTUS45 handle. But the court disagreed by saying Trump used his Twitter account to conduct government business.
Disney actor Cameron Boyce passes away at 20
Disney actor Cameron Boyce passed away on Saturday in his sleep after going through a seizure. His family said he had an ongoing medical condition that caused the seizure.
Boyce was a star in a television show, “Jessie.” His role was a boy named Luke Ross. He was in several films and other TV shows.
He was born in Los Angeles. His father, Victor Boyce, tweeted on Sunday that he was overwhelmed with the love and support his family has received and that it helps to ease the pain of this nightmare he can’t wake up from.
His final social post was on Friday, a head shot of his profile posted on his Instagram. That post now has over 9 million likes with many expressing grief.
Five deaf Russian couples may undergo gene editing to avoid having deaf children
“New Scientist” reported that there are five deaf Russian couples who want to receive CRISPR gene editing so their children will not be born deaf.
A Russian scientist, Denis Rebrikov, who works at the country’s largest fertility clinic, plans to apply for permission from Russian authorities to perform gene editing on the couples.
The couples have a missing DNA letter in the 35th position of a gene called GJB2 that causes deafness. If both parents have mutations in the gene, the child will be deaf. All the couples (10 people in total) have this recessive gene, which means their children will also be born deaf.
The article did not mention the reason why the couple doesn’t want their children to be born deaf. Rebrikov said he sought out the couples. It is not clear how he found the couples or how he got their consent to be a part of this process.
Rebrikov views deafness as a very serious health condition. He said he feels that the request for genetic editing is “clear and understandable to ordinary people.”
Rebrikov will have to convince authorities that his gene editing plans to prevent deafness will not put a risk to the children’s “normal” development.
CRISPR gene editing has not been proven to be safe. Last year a scientist in China, He Jiankui, made a shocking announcement that he performed gene editing on twin babies with the goal of having them be resistant from HIV. Many scientists around the world condemned him because it was not guaranteed that the editing would not have unintended effects on the girls’ growth and development.
This raises existential concerns for the Deaf community, as there have been discussions in the past that gene editing could lead to the end of Deaf culture.
Gallaudet University philosophy professor Dr. Teresa Blankmeyer Burke wrote in an article in “Impact Ethics” in 2017 that there is a “bias in Hearing culture that it is better to be a member of the dominant, mainstream Hearing cultural community than to be a member of the non-dominant Deaf cultural community.”
She said there is a big difference between genetic editing and cochlear implants — in that children with CIs are still deaf. They can decide to join the signing Deaf community. But those who are genetically edited lose this choice permanently.
Dr. Burke and a professor of bioethics from the University of New South Wales, Jackie Leach Scully, wrote another article that was published today, also in “Impact Ethics,” in response to the Russian couples story.
Burke and Scully questioned if “deafness is a ‘serious’ condition that justifies heritable genome editing?” They explained that there are deaf people who prefer to have deaf children.
They said it can be argued that the Russian deaf couples are “uniquely well placed to know all about the disadvantages of living with (deafness),” but pointed out that there may be many other factors that influenced their judgments.
Burke and Scully raised a concern that the gene editing could increase social injustice and marginalization towards deaf people — that the public could view deafness as a choice and pressure deaf people to use genetic editing, especially if they make requests for government support for social services.
So, this is clearly a new step towards the day there is a “cure” for deafness. The links to the articles are below in the transcript.
New Scientist: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2208777-exclusive-five-couples-lined-up-for-crispr-babies-to-avoid-deafness/
Dr. Burke and Scully: https://impactethics.ca/2019/07/09/russias-crispr-deaf-babies-the-next-genome-editing-frontier/
Dr. Burke (2017): https://impactethics.ca/2017/03/02/gene-therapy-a-threat-to-the-deaf-community/?fbclid=IwAR31wbKu9td_YonyaR58oeSEzrbDOCpdKwHtbB0lY6n29sMslmu-Vyr_lTI
Dr. Burke’s image is a screenshot from this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xn_GITH-GEI
Son finds deaf mother after 46 years
Last week, Kathy Wink, a mother finally met her son, Bill, after not seeing him for 46 years.
[Video clip of Kathy and Bill being reunited at an airport]
Wink was 17 years old when she got pregnant by a hearing boyfriend who went to prison. She gave birth to Bill in 1971. When Bill was 15 months old, Wink had to give him up to foster care. The Daily Moth reached out to Wink for her story.
I was with my boyfriend who’s hearing, and he lived in New York City at the time.
We unexpectedly became pregnant and we just took that into stride. I’d accepted that fact.
Then he got arrested because he killed someone while using LSD and he shouldn’t have done that.
Someone got killed so he was put into prison.
When I was 4 months pregnant, my mother wanted me to have an abortion.
I didn’t want to do that. I don’t know how I did it, but I refused and ran away, again, to New York City with my former boyfriend’s family.
When the baby was born, I kept the baby. So cute. I’ve had a hard life and I’ve never received SSI and welfare.
I didn’t believe I needed it, but people were encouraging me to do it for the baby.
I gave in and got welfare.
It was worth it, but what about flashing lights, the baby crying and all these things…you know how we used to have TTYs? I didn’t have one. My neighbors were so sweet. They could hear my son crying and me crying sometimes. They once called a priest to come visit us. I told the priest that I’d given up, when my son was 15 months old, but I still really loved him.
So, when the priest came, and I was giving up, the priest suggested that I call a foster home. I misunderstood, but I learned something.
I didn’t want him to go to a children’s home. The priest said this wouldn’t happen. I met several prospective foster parents and I liked the third couple. That couple was unable to conceive and that they already have a foster son who was lonely needing a brother.
That touched me. They said they lived upstate and had a house with a backyard.
I liked what they were saying so I decided to visit them with my son two weeks later. I had this feeling that I needed to leave my son with them. That was the end.
Renca: Wink had to give him up due to financial hardships and no babysitter/daycare. Wink said it was one of the hardest decisions she had to make. It was not until the 3rd foster family she met that she felt would be a good fit for her son.
Wink finally met him last week. We asked her how did Bill find her.
Then my brother opted in to do DNA testing with the (Ancestry), that family tree. He did it for his father. My son reached out to him to ask about his cousins. His cousins lived in the 1960s, born in the 1940s, it was a big family.
There was nothing. He said, “Hey, my mother is deaf.” My brother knew that he had a deaf sister. So, my son texted me asking for his birthdate, so I told him. My answer matched his birthday.
He wanted to chat through text messaging. I insisted on calling him and we ended up having a wonderful conversation. After some planning, we met in Panama City Beach, at a beachfront resort. After talking with him, we’re almost exactly the same! It’s like we’re twins, not mother and son. Awesome conversation and some laughs too!
Renca: Thanks to Ancestry DNA, Bill was able to find his mother again. Wink explained that people are able to find their families if they are also registered for Ancestry DNA. Because Wink’s brother was registered and Bill’s wife convinced him to register for Ancestry DNA, they were able to find each other. We asked Wink how she felt when she finally saw him after 46 years.
Oh wow, it was exciting. I can’t believe that he’s accepted me. I’d imagined differently. What a feeling. I’ll remember, always remember my baby. Always in my mind, but he’s not a baby anymore, in my mind, he’s become older.
Renca: Wink is a grandmother of 3 kids and will be a great-grandmother. She plans on visiting Bill and his family this fall. Wink said she is looking forward to holding her grandkids and her soon to be great-grandkid for the first time. Thank you for sharing, Wink. What a happy ending to this story.
Gallaudet University: [gallaudet.edu]