New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - December 19, 1996, New Braunfels, Texas
4 □ Herald-Zeitung □ Thursday, December 19, 1996
■ To talk with Interim Managing Editor Jim Denery about the Opinion page, call 625-9144, Ext. 221.
“Our flag is the symbol of our freedom — freedom to dishonor as well as honor. If it symbolizes anything, it’s that we are free to criticize or attack even our basic principles.”
Leanne Katz civil liberties activist, 1995
EDITORIALPutting the U in success
Congratulations to David Sansing and Kathy Meurin and the scores of volunteers for United Way.
Thanks to these outstanding leaders, and the people who were willing to take the time to solicit money for the United Way of Comal County, the local goal of $335,000 has been met.
However, their efforts would have been in vain if it had not been for the generosity of the people of Comal County. In the past couple of months, the spirit of giving has been raised throughout the county.
It’s important to remember that nearly 99 percent of all money raised will stay right here in Comal County, helping to fund the efforts of 28 charitable organizations.
To Joe Rogers, executive director, and Laurie Harper, administrative assistant, and the volunteers whose efforts demonstrate why Comal County is a great place to live.Flanagan, EMS crews deserve praise, thanks
Another congratulations is in order to Dr. John Flanagan, who recently was named Texas EMS Medical Director of the Year.
Flanagan, the medical director for 12 years for the New Braunfels EMS and IO years for the Canyon Lake EMS, was nominated for the honor by the EMS employees.
Flanagan, when asked about the award, said the recognition belongs not just to him, but to the paramedics in the field.
Congratulations to Flanagan and both EMS departments.(Todays editorials were written by Publisher and Editor Dong Toney.)
■ To submit letters and guest columns electronically by way of online services or Internet, or to simply contact staff members, the managing editor’s address is [email protected]
Texas needs guidelines on genetic testing
Under the bill’s provisions, genetic-test information cannot be disclosed without authorization from tested individuals.
Samples of genetic material taken for a test remain the property of the individuals and must be destroyed promptly after the purposes for which they were taken are accomplished.
The bill prohibits employers from discriminating against employees or potential employees on the basis of genetic information or because they declined to submit to genetic testing. It also prevents labor organizations from using genetic-test results to exclude or expel members and prohibits employment agencies from practicing genetic discrimination.
Additionally, SB 98 prohibits insurers from using genetic information to deny, limit, cancel, increase the premiums for, or otherwise adversely affect eligibility for insurance coverage. It also prohibits premium and/or commission discrimination based on genetic testing.
Improper disclosure of genetic test results can have broad effects. Genetic information relates to all family members, not just to persons tested, so test results can negatively affect an entire family. As it is possible for gene tests inadvertently to disclose family secrets involving paternity or adoption, they also can reveal medical history that could cause insurance companies to deny coverage to alt family members.
SB 98 includes test-result privacy exceptions if disclosures are authorized under state or federal law for indentifying persons; for use in juvenile proceedings, inquests or child abuse cases; or for establishing blood relatives for the purposes of medical diagnosis and/or paternity.
As human-genome mapping continues and new genetic tests are developed, it is vital that the 75th Texas Legislature address the dual nature of genetic testing. As Francis Collins, chief of the federal Human Genome Project, explained, “This is what genetics is all about right now, this contrast between rapid and exciting scientific advances that carry enormous promise to alleviate suffering ... and yet the potential for this information to be used in ways that injure people.”
“Patients frequently opt for ignorance over the procurement of potentially lifesaving information about their genetic profiles,” Dr. Henry Lynch, president of the Creighton University Hereditary Cancer Institute, observed in a recent article in the “Journal of the National Cancer Institute.”
His comment describes patients whose fear of genetic discrimination prompted them to make decisions about gene testing that were not in their best medical interests.
The National Cancer Institute reports that more than 4,000 diseases are identified as genetic and passed on in families.
Gene tests are available to detect either the disease or persons’ predisposition to Alzheimer’s disease, colon cancer, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, Huntington disease, early onset breast/ovarian cancer and many others. Women with a strong
family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer who inherit a gene mutation, for example, have as much as an 85 percent risk of developing breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of developing ovarian cancer, often at an early age.
Doctors also use genetic tests to determine persons’ predisposition to heart disease, diabetes and other types of cancer. Although the number of available genetic tests is increasing rapidly, patients may choose not to be tested because they fear results may be released to employers and/or insurers who could use this information to discriminate in employment practices or insurance coverage.
Persons in high-risk families may feel compelled to weigh medical benefits against social risk before deciding to undergo genetic testing. By refusing to be tested, individuals in high-risk families who carry disease-related genes may fail to obtain life-saving or life-extending medical care. Non-carriers, however, who believe they are at risk may undergo unnecessary surgery or spend a lifetime worrying rather than opt for gene testing because they fear genetic discrimination.
Because I believe that persons should base their decision to undergo genetic testing solely on health issues and that test results should be confidential, I prefiled Senate Bill 98 on Nov. 18 for consideration during the legislative session that begins in Austin on Jan. 14. SB 98 amends the Labor and
Insurance codes to protect persons from genetic discrimination, thereby encouraging them to be tested so they may benefit from potentially lifesaving advances in medical technology.
(Judith Zaffirini represents the 21st District in the state Senate.)
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Court lots tochnlcallty dofoat purposo of law
There is something seriously wrong with our court system. This was brought overwhelmingly home to us when we were witnesses in a recent court case. »
Everyone involved in this case knew that the accused were guilty, even the judge — he even discussed the fact that indeed they had obviously done what they had been accused of doing, but he threw the case out because of a technicality, and justified letting them off with absolutely no punishment by citing obscure precedents — which he admitted had taken him some time to find. He seemed quite proud of his intellectual skill in pointing out the flaw in the way the law had been writ-
Today in History
By The Associated Press
Today is Thursday, Dec 19, the 354th day of 1996 There are 12 days left in the year
Today's Highlight In History:
On Dec 19, 1843, Charles Dickens’ classic Yule-tide tale, “A Christmas Carol," was first published in England.
On this dotoc
In 1732, Benjamin Franklin began publishing “Poor Richard’s Almanac' in Philadelphia.
In 1776, Thomas Paine published his first “American Crisis" essay, in which he wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls."
In 1777, Gen George Washington led his army of about 11 .(XX) men to Valley Forge, Pa, to camp for the winter.
bt 1007,239 workers died in a coal mine explosion in Jacobs Creek, Pa
In 1632, the British Broadcasting Corporation began transmitting overseas with its "Empire Service" to Australia
ten and of his own persistence, and, again, his intellectual ability to trace the justifying precedents. All this while seeming totally unconcerned that letting these guys off was a complete mockery of the law.
They in turn laughed at us, at the city officials who had written the law, at the policemen involved, and of course at the judge himself — however proud he was of himself. In fact, they are still doing what we all went to court about in the first place — and doing it I believe in whole-hearted glee, having bested the city government, the New Braunfels Police Department and the Municipal Court system.
Because of this kind of result, our courts and our laws are deterrents to no kind of wrongdoing. Any perpetrator
who has been through the system once knows how fantastically easy it is to get away with anything.
Can we begin to reform this system? Is there any provision for the spirit of the law beyond the letter of the law? How can we bring the idea of justice into the courtroom and reverse this trend toward legalistic nit picking?
Gaye Flynn New Braunfels
A Mg thank you to participants in Advont Vaspars
This is the best way I know to send my thanks to all the 91 singers in the Advent Vespers, held Dec. I, which was sponsored by the New Braunfels Music Study Club. You were magnif
icent. This was an example of the wonderful community spirit and exceptional music talent available to us in this area. The singing was awesome. The 37th annual presentation of the beautiful sacred music of Christmas told us all what Christmas is really all about. Advent Vespers is the oldest continuing event of Festtage. Put the date of the 1997 concert on your calendars now — Dec. 7, always the first Sunday of December.
A reminder to all participants in this year’s rehearsals and concert. Please return all the anthems to me at my home or to the office at Cross Lutheran or St. Paul Lutheran Church, attention: Mrs. Frueh. God bless you and your celebration of Christmas.
Melitta Frueh New Braunfels
bi 1346, 50 years ago, war broke out in Indochina as troops under Ho Chi Minh launched widespread attacks against the French, kl 1990, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was named commander of the military forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization In 1972, Apollo 17 splashed down in the Pacific, winding up the Apollo program of manned lunar landings
In 1974, Nelson A. Rockefeller was sworn in as the 41st vice president of the United States.
In 1664, Britain and China signed an accord returning Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty on July 1, 1997
Tan years ago: The Soviet Union announced it had freed dissident Andrei Sakharov from internal exile, and pardoned his wife, Yelena Bonner. In Washington, Lawrence E. Walsh was appointed independent counsel to investigate the Iran-Contra affair.
Five years ago: The failed Bank of Credit and Commerce International agreed to settle federal racketeering charges by forfeiting all its U S assets Patricia Bowman, who had accused William Kennedy
Smith of raping her, told ABC’s “Prime Time Live" she was shocked by his acquittal.
Ona year ago: The Federal Reserve cut a key interest rate, turning fears to cheers on Wall Street a day after the biggest one-day stock plunge in four years Yigal Amir, the confessed assassin of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, went on trial A gunman opened fire inside a shoe store in the Bronx, a borough of New York City, killing five people
Today's Birthday: Country singer Little Jimmy Dickens is 76 Actress Cicely Tyson is 63 Rhythm-and-blues smger-musician Maurice White (Earth, Wind and Fire) is 55 Actor Tim Reid is 52 Anthropologist Richard E. Leakey is 52. Rock singer Alvin Lee (Ten Years After) is 52 Musician John McEuen (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) is 51. Actor Robert Urich is 50 Singer Janie Fricke is 49. Actress Jennifer Beals is 33. Actress Alyssa Milano is 24.
Thought for Today: “Politics is the art of preventing people from taking part in affairs which properly concern them " — Paul Valery, French poet and critic (1871-1945)