Daily Archives: June 6, 2009

Police target youths with no criminal record for arrest to increase DNA samples on database

Daily Mail | Jun 4, 2009

Youths with no criminal record are being targeted for arrest so their DNA can be logged on a database in the event they commit crimes.

A total of 386  under-18s had their DNA taken and stored by police last year in one north London borough – more than one a day.

An experience officer working for the Metropolitan Police admitted the DNA was being stored as part of a ‘long-term crime prevention strategy’.

The officer said: ‘We are often told that we have just one chance to get that DNA sample and if we miss it then that might mean a rape or a murder goes unsolved in the future.’

He added: ‘Have we got targets for young people who have not been arrested yet? The answer is yes.

‘But we are not just waiting outside schools to pick them up, we are acting on intelligence.

‘If you know you have had your DNA taken and it is on a database then you will think twice about committing burglary for a living. Already this year some 169 under-18s have had their profiles uploaded.’

The officer, who asked not to be named, made the astonishing admission after a Freedom of Information request reveal the startling figures in Camden in London.

LibDem parliamentary candidate for Holborn and St Pancras, Jo Shaw, obtained the figures and was shocked at the findings.

Ms Shaw said: ‘Storing the DNA of innocent people as young as 10 is unlikely to solve Camden’s crime problems, but is a costly way of stigmatising young people.

‘If you’re innocent, you shouldn’t have your data kept for years. DNA samples, which are taken by police after an arrest is made, are turned into a number known as a profile and are kept on a national database indefinitely.’

Camden’s representative at the national Youth Parliament, Axel Landin, said: ‘Building a catalogue of people they think will be prominent criminals in the future sounds like a renegade justice system.

‘Someone who is not convicted of a crime is no more guilty in the eyes of the law than someone who has never been investigated so their DNA should be destroyed.

Chief Inspector Sean Wilson, of Camden Police, said: ‘The DNA database is a nationwide one.

‘Legislation governing the recording and retention of DNA is fully adhered to by Camden Police.’

New Government proposals state that youngsters who have only been arrested once for minor offences and been found not guilty will have their DNA profiles destroyed when they reach 18.

Kung Fu and Kill Bill star David Carradine ‘accidentally suffocated’ after ‘sex games’ in Bangkok hotel wardrobe

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David Carradine, pictured in LA last month, was found dead in a hotel room

Daily Mail |  Jun 5, 2009

By David Gardner, Andrew Drummond, Debra Killalea and Mail Foreign Service

David Carradine’s death could have been caused by accidental suffocation, police said today.

The 72-year- old Kung Fu actor was found dead in his hotel room in Bangkok on Thursday.

Suicide was initially suspected, but Carradine’s friends have questioned this theory, pointing out that no note was found.

Thai police chief Worapong Chewprecha said that Carradine was found with a rope tied around his genitals and another rope around his neck.

‘The two ropes were tied together,’ he said. ‘It is unclear whether he committed suicide or not, or if he died of suffocation or heart failure.’

The news has led to speculation that Carradine may have died from auto-erotic asphyxiation.

An autopsy was completed yesterday, but the results will not be ready for at least three weeks because the cause of death is unclear.

‘All we can say is, we know David would never have committed suicide,’ said Tiffany Smith of Binder & Associates, Carradine’s management company.

‘He really appreciated everything life has to give … and that’s not something David would ever do to himself. We’re just waiting for them to finish the investigation and find out what really happened.’

Carradine, a martial arts practitioner himself, was best known for the TV series Kung Fu, which aired between 1972 and 1975.

He played Kwai Chang Caine, an orphan who was raised by Shaolin monks.More recently, he had a starring role in Quentin Tarantino’s two-part saga Kill Bill.

His death sparked a raft of tributes across Hollywood as stars and friends insisted the actor was full of life and didn’t appear suicidal.

Quentin Tarantino, Michael Madsen and Rob Schneider all told U.S. talk show host Larry King there was no way the actor would have killed himself.

‘I am still in a state shock. He was a dream to direct he was a fantastic actor, a great character actor and really one of Hollywood’s great mad geniuses,’ said Tarantino, who directed Carradine in Kill Bill.

‘The thing I cannot get my head around is that there could have been a period of David’s long life when he might have been suicidal, but this was not the time.’

Schneider said the star had everything going for him and was really on an ‘upswing’.

‘This was a guy that was alive. He was a living legend and really people were coming around and appreciating him.

‘He could not do all the work that was being offered to him. I am convinced, there was no way that he would have killed himself.’

Madsen hosted Carradine’s wedding in 2004 and said that his widow was ‘very confused’ by her late husband’s death.

‘I  talked to Annie about that and she said the most important thing she wanted people to know was that David was not suicidal and he was not depressed.

‘He was not about to do something like that, he had a job and he was working.’

Director Martin Scorcese also paid tribute to the actor and said he was deeply saddened by the tragic news.

‘We met when we made “Boxcar Bertha” together, almost 40 years ago,’ he said.

‘I have very fond memories of our time together on that picture and on Mean Streets, where he agreed to do a brief cameo.’

Others agreed the star seemed happy.

‘I can tell you 100 per cent that he would have never committed suicide,’ Tiffany Smith, who along with Chuck Binder managed the Kill Bill star. ‘He was too full of life.’

‘We’re just waiting for them to finish the investigation and find out what really happened.

‘He really appreciated everything life has to give … and that’s not something David would ever do to himself.’

Binder, said: ‘He was full of life, always wanting to work – a great person.’

Michael Madsen, who played an assassin in Kill Bill said: ‘It is shocking to me that he is no longer with us.’

‘I had been thinking about calling him for the last several days … I have so many great memories of David that I wouldn’t even know where to begin . He has a very special place in my heart.’

Carradine, whose career had recently undergone a renaissance after he appeared in Quentin Tarantino’s bloody two-part martial arts film saga Kill Bill, was in Thailand shooting his latest film, Stretch.

He had been staying at the luxury Swissitel Nai Lert Park since Tuesday.

The crew could not find him after he failed to turn up for a meal on Wednesday night and his body was discovered at 10am yesterday.

Aurelio Giraudo, the hotel’s general manager, said Carradine checked into the hotel May 31 and he last saw him June 3.

He said Carradine chatted with staff and even played piano a few nights in the lobby as well as flute which the ‘guests really enjoyed’.

The hotel, next to the British Embassy in Bangkok is famous for its shrine to fertility.

Visitors make offerings, in the form of phalluses, to the female Spirit of Tubtim who is believed to hover around a nearby canal.

Carradine’s death echoes that of former INXS star Michael Hutchence who was found dead in a Sydney hotel in 1997.

The coroner returned a verdict of suicide but because of the lack of suicide note or history of depression he was  believed to have died attempting an act of autoerotic asphyxiation.

Although Carradine was said to he happy at the time of his death, he had spoken of suicide in the past.

He also admitted he had considered shooting himself and did not fear death.

He wrote in his 1995 autobiography Endless Highway that he had tried to kill himself when he was five years old.

The book also documented his alcoholism and extensive use of drugs, from LSD to cocaine.

In a 2004 interview he said: ‘I remember one time sitting in the window of the third or fourth floor floor of the Plaza Hotel for about half an hour, thinking about tipping off.

‘I thought “who cares man? Why not just split”‘.

He also said: ‘There was a period in my life when I had a single action colt.45 loaded, in my desk drawer.

‘And every night I’d take it out and think about blowing my head off – and the decide not to and go on with my life.’

Carradine got his big break in Kung Fu as Kwai Chang Caine, nicknamed Grasshopper, the soft-spoken monk and martial arts expert who travelled through America’s Old West spreading wisdom and battling bad guys.

The show captured the imagination of millions of youngsters. Phrases from Kung Fu such as ‘Snatch the pebble from my hand’ were endlessly repeated in the playground.

Children put ping-pong balls, which had been cut in half, in their eyes in imitation of the show’s blind character, Master Po.

Kung Fu was first screened in 1972 and spawned a film and numerous other offshoots.

Carradine’s portrayal of Caine earned him a nomination for an Emmy, U.S. TV’s highest honour. He left after three seasons.
He was married five times and had two daughters from previous marriages. His fifth wife was Annie Bierman, whom he married in 2004.

His brothers include the actor Keith Carradine.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman said Thai officials had confirmed that Carradine died either late on Wednesday or early yesterday morning.

Anger as school tells children aged five about gay issues…to the sound of Elton John

The children took part in an anti-homophobia awareness assembly

Daily Mail | Jun 6, 2009

By Laura Clark

elton_johnPupils as young as five were left ‘confused and worried’ after a school assembly to explain homosexuality.

Teachers played a recording of Elton John’s Your Song before explaining that the singer is homosexual and what the term means.

The children were then shown images of same-sex couples.

Parents said the experience left some pupils afraid to cuddle each other in the playground in case other children thought they were gay.

They have complained they were not consulted over the content of the assembly.

Although it may have been appropriate for older children, they say it left the little ones confused and self-conscious about being friends with classmates of the same sex.

When parents complained to the headmaster, they claim they were treated as ‘homophobic’ for even raising the issue.

The assembly, given to pupils aged from five to 11 at Bromstone Primary, in Broadstairs, Kent, aimed to steer them away from homophobic bullying.

It also covered bullying on the grounds of race, language and weight.

Gemma Martin, 28, whose children, Chloe, seven, and Danny, four, attend the school, said some pupils were now worried ‘about being friends with each other’.

‘Little girls often cuddle each other if one of them is crying or has fallen over, and now they are afraid to do that in case the others think they are gay,’ she said.

Michelle Cosgrove, 33, said some parents felt they were treated as homophobic just for asking why they had not been consulted about the assembly.

Her three children, Jasmine, ten, Luke, seven, and Freya, five, attend the school.

She said the example of two boys holding hands and two boys kissing was mentioned in the assembly – held the day after the International Day Against Homophobia. She found herself answering questions on homosexuality when her children raised it at home.

‘There is no way on this earth I’m homophobic – I just want the choice as a parent to talk to my children about this when the time is appropriate,’ she said.

Headmaster Nigel Utton said the 30-minute assembly contained only a small section on homosexuality which was appropriate for the age of the children.

It was part of an initiative spearheaded by Kent County Council, he said.

Other parents had approved of the assembly, he said. It had not been necessary to consult them beforehand.

‘Five-year-olds understand about relationships and about liking people,’ he said.

Kent education officer Lynne Miller said: ‘This was an assembly about bullying and parents have praised the school for its handling of such a sensitive matter.

‘Young children are exposed at a very early age to homophobic language. If language is not challenged it makes it much more difficult to address homophobic bullying in secondary schools.’

FDA weighs approval of adult psychiatric drugs for children

Officials have concerns about exposing younger patients to the drugs’ side effects.

AP | Jun 5, 2009

By MATTHEW PERRONE

WASHINGTON (AP) — Three blockbuster psychiatric drugs currently approved for adults also appear to work in adolescents, though federal health officials have concerns about exposing younger patients to the drugs’ side effects.

The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing drugs from AstraZeneca PLC, Eli Lilly & Co. and Pfizer Inc. for use in patients between the ages of 10 and 17. The drugs — already approved to treat schizophrenia and bipolar mania in adults — had combined sales of more than $7.4 billion last year, according to IMS Health.

FDA reviewers on Friday said they were wary of exposing youngsters to the drugs’ side effects, including weight gain and high blood sugar, “because they may be exposed for many decades.”

“These risks are of particular concern in pediatric patients because of the lifelong nature of these disorders,” FDA director for psychiatric products, Dr. Thomas Laughren, wrote in documents posted online.

The FDA released its review of the drugs ahead of a meeting Tuesday where outside experts will weigh in on the drugs’ risks and benefits. The agency is not required to follow the group’s advice, though it usually does.

Many doctors already prescribe the medications to children and adolescents, although regulators have not officially cleared that use. Physicians are free to prescribe medicines as they see fit, though companies can only promote them for FDA-approved indications.

AstraZeneca and Lilly are seeking permission to market their drugs for adolescents with schizophrenia and bipolar mania, also called manic depressive disorder. Pfizer is seeking a pediatric bipolar disorder indication for its drug.

FDA drug reviewers noted that the “safety profile of the pediatric population is very similar compared to that of the adult population.” And while there were no side effects unique to younger patients, there were differences in the frequency of the effects compared with adults.

In schizophrenia studies of Lilly’s Zyprexa, more than 30 percent of adolescents gained weight, compared with just 6 percent of adults. On average, adolescents gained nearly 10 pounds, compared with 6 pounds for adults.

Lilly is seeking FDA approval to market the drug as a second-line treatment, or a second option after other drugs have been tried.

Adolescent patients taking Pfizer’s Geodon were more likely to report sleepiness and dystonia, a movement disorder that causes muscle spasms. AstraZeneca noted higher rates of increased appetite and blood pressure among children and adolescents taking Seroquel compared with adults.

Despite concerns over the side effects, Laughren and other FDA officials acknowledged the need for additional drugs to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in teenagers and older children.

“Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are serious illnesses in pediatric patients and represent substantial burden for both patients and their families,” Laughren said.

Currently only two drugs are cleared for those uses: Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Abilify and Johnson & Johnson’s Risperdal. Abilify was the second best-selling anti-psychotic drug in the U.S. last year with sales of $3 billion. Risperdal was fourth with $1.6 billion in sales.

Schizophrenia affects about 2.4 million Americans and is characterized by hallucinations, delusions and social withdrawal, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. About 5.7 million Americans experience bipolar disorder, which causes rapid mood swings and shifts in energy.