April 30, 2018

Joy Reid is Her Worse Enemy and PFLAG Was Wrong In taking Back The Award Over a Charlie Crist

Below you can read the letter PFLAG sent to Joy Reid because of material she wrote on her blog about Charlie Crist. I am so sorry that PFLAG picked this particular writing about Crist who was closeted at the time even though most gays living in Florida at the time (I was one) knew the guy was gay and let me quickly add that was not the problem any of us had with him. The problem with Crist was that he was a gay closeted Republican running on anti-gay issues or siding with the GOP on the same issue or staying quiet while the Republicans had a field day in the media and in Captitals across the nation. The guy when running for Congress was running from a Republican district (13 Dist) but being a more educated district one could argue you did not have to be a GOP to win there but that is Florida Water under the bridge. Back on Y2K, those were the times the "Moral majority' was fighting any legislation to give the LGBT community any security in jobs or not getting rented because of being gay and in every issue big or small. Gay marriage was way out there as a national agenda but we were fighting it in the states to get same-sex marriage one at the time while at the same time going through the courts. This was a winning stragegy as history shows. Ok so Crist was a hipocrite!Next..

I don't want to rehash any of this I just want to make two points:

Using Crist as an example of anything is like defending a bully because he broked a finger while punching a skinny, small gay kid.

1} Charlie Crist was a hypocrite and he worked against issues by either speaking against them or staying quiet when Republicans were saying all the things you heard about us. Cant be school teachers because we can't be trusted with the kids. Can't work in a position high in the government because we would get blackmailed and give the secrets away.

No matter what Joy is written or said Charlie is no reason to send that letter and take something away from her. Eventually, Charlie ran for governor and when he ran for re-election he was so unpopular in the GOP by just staying in the middle of issues and not wanting to offend anybody he offended everybody. He Even Changed his party affiliation to Democrat to see if he could be reelected because he had no support from the people he had supported. I'm sure I have written worse things about Crist
(but Im a small fish and gay) and I always said: "We, Florida Gays knew who Charlie Crist, whether he got married or not or whether he got rid of all his gay porn or not." He was gay and not liked because he was working with the people working against us. That is the threshold I hold on outing someone and I have written this before. If the person is closeted the person deserves the time and the form to come out or not come out. But if you are closeted and are working against LGBT interests, then you are a hypocrite and I will take the opportunity to out you and if someone else does I will applaud that and printed it.  

Joey Reid: The problem with her is her

2} As far as I'm concerned as a gay man the big problem is not what she wrote but what she denies and then semi accepts. She awful things in the past but so have a lot of people in the press and the government but now they support us 100%. We are happy about the support!and there is no need to accept what was said in the past but to accept the present time behavior. When asked Hillary Clinton  why she was not pro-gay marriage earlier. Whether you agree or not she would not deny it and say  it's true but at the time many were like her but she came along wiht the times. I never liked that but I also remember what she did in the state dept for gays in the military and in the civil service of the state dept. Also as a first lady she defended the right to be what we are. What she would not say is,"No I was always pro-same-sex marriage no matter what anybody said". Or do like Trump and say "fake news!"

Joy has denied and then apologized for this and not for that. If you read about what she says about it you really don't understand what she is really meaning by it all. She gets confusing and and apology should never be confusing but uncomplicated, precise and honest sounding. She apologizes for saying some things but then says someone else wrote them for her and put them in her past blog pages. 

If she would just come out and say she is sorry and take responsibility for all of it and say some might not be mine but it appeared on my blog and I had a quick mouth (like many straights) in blaming being gay for stupidity,  girlish or not macho enough. Even parents to their kids. My father was calling me a faggot since I can remember and If you saw me you would not know I'm gay unless I let you know. When I was younger and closeted I and with a dad calling faggot I made sure I even dance straight. Where he got that? I was different. I looked different than my brothers and would scare easy and I was very close to my mom. That made me gay in his book.

I used to like Joy but because her being dishonest about what she writes and say; A person who is in the business of reading and reporting the news, should at least be trusted.  If she was someone else I would not care but because of what I just said, I really don't like her anymore nor trust her. I hope she finds peace with her thoughts and feelings. I hate to be gay with her as my mom. My dad was not in the news business so his awful remarks only hurt me and no one else. She is hurt people that like her.

APRIL 24, 2018
PFLAG National—the nation's first and largest organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people, their families, and allies—today has rescinded its Straight for Equality in Media award to political analyst Joy Reid.

Said PFLAG National president Jean Hodges, “When we extended our invitation to Ms. Reid to honor her at our 45th anniversary celebration, we did so knowing about the blog posts from the late 2000s regarding Charlie Crist. We appreciated how she stepped up, took ownership, apologized for them, and did better—this is the behavior and approach we ask of any ally. However, in light of new information, and the ongoing investigation of that information, we must at this time rescind our award to Ms. Reid.”

Liz Owen, Director of Communications
(202) 657-4026

Former Beautiful Model Eaten By Scabies inGeorgia Nursing Home [IsThat What's Waiting for Us?]

LAFAYETTE, Georgia — A Georgia nursing home resident who died from a scabies infestation is believed to have been eaten alive over the course of months or years.
According to a pending lawsuit filed by the family, 93-year-old Rebecca Zeni died in 2015 from scabies at the facility. The autopsy report shows the cause of death as “septicemia due to crusted scabies.” State health officials were notified about a scabies outbreak at the nursing home multiple times but did not inspect the LaFayette, Ga. facility.
A forensic pathologist who reviewed the case estimates millions of parasitic mites essentially ate Zeni alive over several months or possibly years.
Zeni’s family say their mother lived the American dream. She worked in a naval yard during World War II; modeled in New York City, and worked at a TV station in Chicago.
Zeni’s daughter, who declined to be interviewed on-camera, says she moved her mother into Shepherd Hills Nursing Home in 2010. Health records show Zeni suffered from dementia.
“I don’t understand how you can allow a human being to suffer needlessly,” said Mike Prieto, one of two attorneys representing Zeni’s family in a lawsuit against Pruitt Health, which operates Shepherd Hills Nursing Home.
Scabies is a painful, but treatable skin condition caused when parasitic mites burrow into your skin, lay eggs and survive off of your body. Pictures of Zeni before her death show skin flaking off and one of her hands blackened.
Stephen Chance, another attorney representing the family, claims staff was told not to touch Zeni’s hand. “There was a conversation at this nursing home with a healthcare provider about being careful about touching Ms. Zeni’s hand for fear that it might fall off her body,” claims Chance in an interview.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Kris Sperry, a former chief medical examiner at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, reviewed Zeni’s autopsy report. He says he’s personally conducted more than 6,000 autopsies and has supervised more than 80,000 others.
“This is one of the most horrendous things I’ve ever seen in my career as a forensic pathologist,” Sperry said.
Sperry estimates hundreds of millions of mites were living inside Zeni at the time of her death. He doesn’t think it’s an exaggeration to assume she was essentially eaten alive and that she likely died a painful death.
“Having seen what I’ve seen with Ms. Zeni, I think that is frankly a good characterization,” said Sperry. “I would seriously consider calling this a homicide by neglect.”
Pruitt Health’s chairman, communications director and an attorney representing the company did not respond to request for comment. According to a response to the lawsuit, Pruitt attorneys denied all of the claims outlined in Zeni’s lawsuit, writing “[Pruitt Health] denies that it is a medical or healthcare provider and it, therefore, owed no legal duty to Plaintiff or Ms. Rebecca Zeni for which it could be held liable in this litigation.”

Missed Opportunities

According to records obtained from the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), state officials were notified of a scabies outbreak at Zeni’s facility in 2013 and 2015 before her death.
In its June 4th 2015 report, it shows at least 35 residents and staff were exposed to scabies. Instead of inspecting the facility in person, a state health department employee emailed a manual to the facility on how to treat scabies. Eleven days later, Zeni passed away.
According to DPH spokesperson Nancy Nydam, the agency isn’t required to inspect facilities when its notified about a scabies infestation. Despite the low reported outbreaks, Nydam says the agency considers scabies infestations “not necessarily uncommon” events at nursing homes.
While DPH records show no reported cases of scabies at Shepherd Hills in 2014, the facility’s own records show otherwise. According to the nursing home’s infection logs submitted into the case file, there were at least seven cases of scabies at the facility on October 22, 2014. DPH has no record of the facility notifying state health officials.
While DPH isn’t required to inspect facilities after learning about an outbreak, Nydam says its typical protocol to alert the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH), which performs annual inspections of state nursing homes and responds when it receives a complaint from the public.
DPH says it has no record of staff notifying DCH regulators about the outbreak. When asked for documentation showing DCH was notified about scabies or inspection records related to any scabies outbreak at Shepherd Hills, DCH spokesperson Fiona Roberts emailed, “DCH does not have any records responsive to that issue.”
USA TODAY NETWORKAndy Pierrotti, WXIA-TV, Atlanta
Main photo submitted by family to USA

Why A Party That Controls The Government Cries About Being Persecuted

Diamond and Silk caused a spectacle on Capitol Hill on Thursday.
 "Facebook along with other social media sites have taken aggressive actions to silence conservative voices such as ourselves," the pro-Trump social media stars charged.
It's a claim Facebook denies, pointing out that the social media network has changed its settings so that users see more content from friends — and less from political groups of all stripes. 
But beyond the fireworks before the House Judiciary Committee, the two online celebrities reflect a broader point of the conservative movement right now. Many feel unfairly persecuted by the powers that be in American culture.
"I think that is a difficult thing for a lot of liberals to get, that for them you know they look and say, 'Trump's in charge, Mitch McConnell's out there, Paul Ryan — well Republicans have got everything,' " said John Hawkins, the founder of Right Wing News, a Facebook group with more than 3 million followers.
President-elect Donald Trump proclaimed on election night 2016: "The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer."
With his victory, Republicans held more power than they have had in nearly a century. Conservatives had control of the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House, and held a majority of the country's governorships. Conservatives also now have a majority on the Supreme Court, in no small part because of Trump's election.
But beyond politics, Hawkins said, the average American conservative feels bombarded daily with disrespect.
"He turns on a TV show where he's insulted, and then he's like, 'well, maybe I'll just unwind and watch an awards show' — the Oscars or something — where he gets trashed all day long," Hawkins said. "He goes to Twitter and he's got some you know guy calling him in a-hole ... this is sort of like a pervasive all-out attack if you're a conservative. And it's all the time sort of thing." At the core of the problem for many American conservatives is a feeling that the culture war has been irrevocably lost to their ideological opponents. 
"Politics is downstream from culture. And I do think that it's true that conservatives have lost in many ways the culture," said Matt Lewis, a conservative columnist for The Daily Beast who has previously worked for conservative outlets like The Daily Caller and Human Events.
He also said, "There is a sense on the right that is apocalyptic and fearful."
Earlier this month, Jesse Kelly, a writer for the mainstream conservative website The Federalist, wrote that Americans on the left and right can't get along anymore, that domestic unrest could be coming and that the best alternative course would be to just split the country up.
"We're just not on the same page on anything anymore. Rather than the constant fighting and before it gets really nasty, I think we should just go our separate ways," Kelly told NPR.
Kurt Schlichter, a columnist for the conservative Townhall.com, recently wrote a column speculating about whether there could be another civil war. He concluded there could be one and predicted how the left would lose a violent conflict if it came to it.
"We want to be treated with respect, and we will not tolerate anything less which is just unacceptable for this to continue. I'm tired of Hollywood spitting on us. I am tired of academia spitting on us. I'm tired of the news media spitting on us," he said. 
Trump ran on these frustrations — but his election, as well as the election of many other Republicans to positions of political power, haven't dulled them.
This feeling of losing the American culture war reflects polling of white, working-class Americans. A poll taken last year by the Public Religion Research Institute and The Atlantic showed 48 percent of them believe that "things have changed so much that I often feel like a stranger in my own country."
"I mean, shoot, I had a conversation with my mother about this a couple of years ago," Kelly said. "This had nothing to do with the election or anything else. Like something's coming, it just feels that way and I don't like it. I don't like it at all."
These feelings pop up on all sorts of political issues, from Diamond and Silk — also known as Lynette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson — to accusations of "fake news" to the schadenfreude on the right over Kanye West's complimentary tweets about Trump this week. The 2018 midterms are coming up in just a few months. Midterms are often about exciting your base and running against the other side.
Democrats are doing that by running against Donald Trump. Republicans may find that tapping into these feelings about losing power in society is the best way to motivate their base. 

April 28, 2018

The "T" on LGBT Does Not Stands For "Gay" But "Trans" NYT Does Not Know That

 The New York Times ran a headline last summer: "In One Day, Trump Administration Lands 3 Punches Against Gay Rights." But the first punch that day had nothing do with with gay rights: It was "a tweet from President Trump announcing a ban on transgender people serving in the military."
The Times — which I get delivered, read daily, and which makes up 92% of my recycling — gets this wrong a lot.
adamfoxie🦊 totally agree with Dominic Holden (Buzzfeed) on this opinion editorial. I understand "Gay" has been used by me and others as a universal term to make things simpler for others but this is no longer so and is unfair for the Transgender and Transexual communities to be bulked in with a majority (G) of this minority (T) clasification. When we talk about human and civil rights is good to know who we are referring to in a particular way.
But this isn’t just about the Times. It’s about how transgender people are understood in America. Misconceptions about gender identity frequently animate prejudices against transgender people, driving many of the stories about them that become news. Media should clear up those misunderstandings, not fuel them.
Referring to transgender issues as “gay” reinforces the myth that transgender people are defined by sexual predilection. Look no further than campaigns to deny transgender people's access to restrooms to see how their gender identity is equated with dangerous sexuality.
I've covered LGBT issues for more than three years at BuzzFeed News. I'm gay as a basket of rainbows, for the record, and I’ll admit that I’ve bungled my words on trans issues a few times, particularly on Twitter. There were times I thought the language of LGBT politics was too pedantic or repetitive, especially to unfamiliar readers. But I was wrong — and so is the Times.
When the Times covered the death of LGBT advocacy lawyer David Buckel this month, the headline called him a "gay rights" champion. But one of his career-defining accomplishments, which the article noted above his work for marriage equality, was a landmark lawsuit over the murder of a transgender man.
The paper also routinely calls LGBT organizations “gay rights groups” in stories about trans issues. In an especially awkward example, it reported on “gay rights advocates who were angered by Mr. Trump’s abrupt decision to bar transgender people from any military job.”
The Times prizes its loyalty to the facts. But the fact is, many transgender people don’t identify as gay.
According to the US Transgender Survey of 2015, the largest and most recent report of its type, a majority of transgender people aren’t straight or gay — rather, researchers found they identified as queer, gay, straight, bisexual, and asexual.
But anti-LGBT activists work hard to conflate gender identity with sexuality. A campaign this year in Massachusetts claims transgender people are suffering from “gender confusion” and warns that a state nondiscrimination law enables “sexual predators who claim ‘confusion’ about their gender as a cover for their evil intentions.”
Or check out the Family Research Council, which seeks to roll back LGBT rights. In its 2015 report titled Understanding and Responding to the Transgender Movement, it says that the “three major patterns of transgender desire” all have erotic motives: males attracted to males, those with a sexual fetish for cross-dressing, and females attracted to females.
That is, the group contends most transgender people are basically gay.
The Times sometimes gets the distinction right — referring to transgender issues as such, and running “LGBTQ” in headlines — but it’s not the standard, according to its guidelines.
Danielle Rhoades Ha, a spokesperson for the Times, sent me an email citing the company’s stylebook entry, which says “LGBT” should be used “sparingly outside quotes; the abbreviation is cumbersome if used repeatedly, and it may still be unfamiliar to some readers.”
It may be true that some Times readers don’t know the meaning of LGBT. But a scan of recent Times headlines shows lots of shorthand terms that might be unfamiliar to some readers: “DACA,” “ACLU,” and “Pruitt” aren’t universally known, either.
“Certainly there are times when in looking for shorthand descriptions, we stumble over this,” said Rhoades Ha, adding that “we should avoid conflating gay and transgender issues (though of course many organizations, laws etc. deal with both).”
The Times often refers to those LGBT organizations as "gay rights" groups — such as herehere, and here — including the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD.
“All media outlets, including the New York Times, should clearly identify whether an issue affects the entire LGBTQ community or if it only affects a specific part of the community,” Sue Yacka-Bible, a spokesperson for GLAAD, which advocates for accurate media coverage on LGBT matters, said by email.
Yacka-Bible noted the Trump administration has singled out transgender people in some of its recent moves, adding, "When discussing the proposed ban on transgender military service or legislation designed to exclude transgender people from public spaces like bathrooms, it's imperative that media be specific about who is being targeted by these attacks.”
Sarah McBride, the national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, said that while media coverage has improved across outlets, “We still sometimes see the use of troublesome and outdated terminology. As an LGBTQ civil rights organization, transgender equality lies at the heart of our work and mission, and we encourage reporting that reflects that community-wide reality.”
LGBT people share a common cause — they’re discriminated against for refusing to meet sex stereotypes and gender roles (like having same-sex partners or identifying differently from their sex designated at birth).
And yet, that connection does not erase what makes LGBTQ people different. Transgender people are subjected to a unique set of challenges, from rampant discrimination in health care to outsize rates of violence. So media coverage shouldn’t erase those challenges, either.
Dominic Holden is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. 
Contact Dominic Holden at dominic.holden@buzzfeed.com.

Nakhane Thought He Would Not Face Death Threats for Playing a Man in Same-sex Relationship in 'The Wound'

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 Nakhane says he 'never expected to face death threats for playing a man 
in a same-sex relationship' in movie 'Inxeba The Wound'

 Reuters -LONDON - It was the level of hate from his own Xhosa community that took South African gay artist Nakhane by surprise.

He never expected to face death threats for playing a man in a same-sex relationship in a movie The Wound, which unfolds in the secret world of a Xhosa male initiation ceremony - but it was the setting that appeared to anger people the most.

“I know my people because I come from them and I know about the passion they have about protecting this part of the culture,” Nakhane, 30, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview in London, where he is currently living.

“But I didn’t know it was going to be as violent as it became.”
The actor, who underwent the month-long Xhosa circumcision ritual at the age of 20, said his own experience was similar to that shown in the film, including having other men make sexual advances on him during the bush retreat.

South Africa is generally regarded as supportive of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and is the only African country that has legalised gay marriage.

However, being openly gay can be taboo, particularly among traditional communities.
Although the movie has won several awards at film festivals in London, Durban and Palm Springs, it is the dialogue it has sparked around LGBT issues in South Africa that Nakhane is most proud of.

“This film became what it became because of those conversations,” he said. “Suddenly the volcano just (erupted) and it takes the right time, right film, right thing, for it to happen.”


It was only when Nakhane’s life fell apart five years ago that he was finally able to accept he was gay.
Homeless and broke, the up-and-coming South African actor and singer had just released his first music album, a deeply personal account of his life.

“I was just so tired of hating myself every day. I was exhausted. And from that point in time, it took me about two years really to not be afraid anymore,” he said.

“I call it the moment where my life literally fell apart: when I’d left the church, I was living with friends, I was homeless to all intent purposes. I had nothing. I had nothing to lose.”
In London, he spends his time in recording studios and rehearsing with band members for upcoming shows in Europe.

Although Nakhane does not see himself as an activist, his work as an actor and musician is attracting acclaim and putting him under the spotlight.
His second album, which came out in March, blends traditional sounds with soulful melodies, and reflects on his childhood and teenage years. 

“With this album, I felt like I needed to go back to my formative years,” he said. “Going back to my formative years meant going back to some traumas and some joys.”
Some of the scars are still evident and Nakhane says it is taking time to get used to living in the British capital.

Simmering tensions over his film mean it will be some years before he can return to visit his family in the Eastern Cape.

He does, however, plan to go back to South Africa in the future and says he is not afraid.

“How much worse can it get than someone detailing to you how they want to kill you?” he asked.

"You can either slink down and die from that or you can be even more defiant. If anything, those people made me stronger."


The film was rated as 'Restricted' and stopped from distribution by a court in South Africa because it was ruled as pornographic (only because there was same sex relations). Below you can read the reversal of that decission.

JOHANNESBURG - The producers of the South African film Inxeba: The Wound has welcomed the overturning of its reclassification and say they're now preparing for the official review process later this month.

The High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday overruled the Film and Publication Board's (FPB) decision to reclassify the movie to X-18 after the film’s producers and distributor brought an urgent application to put the film back on the circuit.

Inxeba was reclassified last month - putting it in the same category as pornography and banning it from cinemas around the country.

Partner at Webber Wentzel attorneys, Dario Milo, says the return of the film to cinemas is an incredible victory.

“The X-18 classification effectively banned the film from all mainstream cinemas… and one could only get the film at licensed adult premises. It’s the first film, to our knowledge, that is nor pornographic in nature that has been classified as X-18.”

Producers of the film have also applied for a review of the decision by the FPB’s appeal tribunal to rate the film X-18.

Helen Kuun of Inxeba's production company Indigenous Films says the review process already took place in three weeks’ time ending March 28.

Immortality? Scientist Keep Brain Cells Alive Outside the Body of An Animal

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Midbrain organoids, measuring about 3 mm across, cultured in the laboratory dish.

Simplified 3D brain organoids can be grown in a dish using human stem cells as the starting material.Credit: Genome Institute of Singapore, A*STAR

If researchers could create brain tissue in the laboratory that might appear to have conscious experiences or subjective phenomenal states, would that tissue deserve any of the protections routinely given to human or animal research subjects? 
This question might seem outlandish. Certainly, today’s experimental models are far from having such capabilities. But various models are now being developed to better understand the human brain, including miniaturized, simplified versions of brain tissue grown in a dish from stem cells — brain organoids1,2. And advances keep being made. 
These models could provide a much more accurate representation of normal and abnormal human brain function and development than animal models can (although animal models will remain useful for many goals). In fact, the promise of brain surrogates is such that abandoning them seems itself unethical, given the vast amount of human suffering caused by neurological and psychiatric disorders, and given that most therapies for these diseases developed in animal models fail to work in people. Yet the closer the proxy gets to a functioning human brain, the more ethically problematic it becomes. 
There is now a need for clear guidelines for research, albeit ones that can be adapted to new discoveries. This is the conclusion of many neuroscientists, stem-cell biologists, ethicists and philosophers — ourselves included — who gathered in the past year to explore the ethical dilemmas raised by brain organoids and related neuroscience tools. A workshop was held in May 2017 at the Duke Initiative for Science & Society at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, with limited support from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) BRAIN Initiative. A similar US meeting was held last month on related topics. 
Here we lay out some of the issues that we think researchers, funders, review boards and the public should discuss as a first step to guiding research on brain surrogates. 
Safe surrogates
Three classes of brain surrogate offer researchers a way to investigate how the living human brain works, without the need for potentially risky — if not ethically impossible — procedures in people. 
Organoids. Brain organoids can be produced much as other 3D multicellular structures resembling eye, gut, liver, kidney and other human tissues have been built24. By adding appropriate signaling factors, aggregates of pluripotent stem cells (which have the ability to develop into any cell type) can differentiate and self-organize into structures that resemble certain regions of the human brain57

Investigators use different approaches. They might coax pluripotent stem cells to turn into specific populations of neural cells, such as those specific to a particular brain region. Or they can allow the pluripotent cells to differentiate on their own, in which case both neural cells and other cell types might be generated2. Brain organoids resembling particular brain regions can even be combined into ‘brain assembloids’ to enable researchers to study the formation of neural circuits and cellular interactions between different regions8
Compared with 2D sheets of neural cells in a dish, the 3D structures last longer (for around two years9) and can consist of more types of cell. They also mimic key features of developing brains. For instance, in later stages of fetal development, the cerebral cortex switches from generating neurons to creating glial cells (the various other cell types in the brain that nourish, surround and protect neurons). This process can be captured in brain organoids, allowing investigators to gain insights that would be experimentally and ethically extremely challenging, if not ethically unacceptable, to obtain from developing brains. 
Already, researchers have deployed brain organoids to investigate neurodevelopmental alterations in people with autism spectrum disorders8,10 or schizophrenia11, and to study the unusually small brain size (microcephaly) seen in some babies infected with the Zika virus before birth12
Brain organoids have limitations. They lack certain cell types, such as microglia and cells that form blood vessels. Today, the largest organoids are about 4 millimetres in diameter and contain only about 2 million to 3 million cells. An adult human brain measures roughly 1,350 cubic centimetres, and is made up of 86 billion neurons and a similar number of non-neuronal cells. Moreover, so far, brain organoids have received sensory input only in primitive form, and connections from other brain regions are limited.
Given such constraints, the possibility of organoids becoming conscious to some degree, or of acquiring other higher-order properties, such as the ability to feel distressed, seems highly remote. But organoids are becoming increasingly complex. Indeed, one of us (P.A.) recorded neural activity from an organoid after shining light on a region where cells of the retina had formed together with cells of the brain. This illustrated that an external stimulus can result in an organoid response13.

Slices of human brain for Parkinson's research

A researcher dissects slices of human brain tissue.Credit: Darragh Mason Field/Barcroft Images/Getty

Ex vivo brain tissue. Another type of model involves slices of brain tissue that have been removed from individuals during some surgical procedure, for example to treat seizures. 
For more than a century, researchers have studied brain cells in tissue extracted from patients undergoing surgery, or from people who have died. But technological advances, including in imaging and in the techniques used to preserve the functional properties of brain tissues in the lab (ex vivo), could make this approach considerably more powerful. 
When tissue from the neocortex or hippocampus regions is removed to treat a pathology, such as epilepsy or cancer, the piece removed is typically the size of a sugar cube (about 1–4 cubic centimetres), although it can sometimes be much bigger. That piece is then generally cut into slices, the functional properties of which can be preserved for weeks. 
Using these slices, researchers can measure the synaptic and other properties of neurons in intact brain circuits; map the 3D morphology of circuits; and extract and analyse cellular RNA to probe gene expression. They can also manipulate the firing of specific neurons using optogenetics, which could enable them to analyse in more detail the functional properties of human brain circuits. (Optogenetics uses light to track or selectively activate neurons that have been genetically modified to express a light-sensitive protein.) 
Currently, ex vivo brain tissue does not have sensory inputs. And with outbound connections severed, isolated tissues can’t communicate with other regions of the brain, or generate motor outputs. Thus, the possibility of consciousness or other higher-order perceptive properties emerging seems extremely remote. 
Chimaeras. The third class of experimental brain model involves the transplantation of human cells, derived in vitro from pluripotent stem cells, into the brains of animals such as rodents. This can be done while the animal fetus is developing or after the animal is born. Such chimaeras are generated to provide a more physiologically natural environment in which the human cells can mature. 
Neuroscientists have transplanted human glial cells into mice, for instance, and found that the animals perform better in certain tasks involving learning. Researchers have also injected human stem cells into early-stage pig embryos, and then transferred the embryos into surrogate sows, where they’ve been allowed to develop until the first trimester. More than 150 of the embryos developed into chimaeras; in these embryos, about 1 in 10,000 cells in the precursors of hearts and livers were human. 
In principle, chimaeras could help researchers to better understand human illnesses and the effects of drug treatments. Labs have developed human-mouse chimaeras to shed light on Parkinson’s disease, for example. 
Some groups have even successfully transplanted human brain organoids into rodents, where they have become supported by blood vessels (vascularized)14. The provision of a blood supply is an essential step in enabling organoids to grow larger than their current achievable size. But the size of rodent models restricts the degree to which human brain organoids can grow within them.

Two forebrain organoids that have been assembled

A 3D human-brain assembloid derived from stem cells.Credit: Pasca Lab/Stanford University

Issues to consider
Currently, if research on human tissue occurs outside a living person, only the processes of obtaining, storing, sharing and identifying the tissue fall under the regulations and guidelines that limit what interventions can be conducted on people. As brain surrogates become larger and more sophisticated, the possibility of them having capabilities akin to human sentience might become less remote. Such capacities could include being able to feel (to some degree) pleasure, pain or distress; being able to store and retrieve memories; or perhaps even having some perception of agency or awareness of self. 
Could studies involving brain tissue that has been removed from a living person or corpse provide information about the person’s memories, say? Could organisms that aren’t ‘biologically human’ ever warrant some degree of quasi-human or human moral status? 
In the light of such possibilities, here we lay out some of the issues that we think civil society, researchers, ethicists, funders, and reviewers ought now to be considering. 
Metrics. Is it even possible to assess the sentient capabilities of a brain surrogate? What should researchers measure? If appropriate metrics can be developed, how do investigators decide which capabilities are morally concerning? 
Neuroscientists have made considerable progress when it comes to identifying the neural correlates of consciousness15. Yet the signals for consciousness or unconsciousness detected in a living adult — using electroencephalography (EEG) electrodes, for example — don’t necessarily translate to infants, animals or experimental brain surrogates. Without knowing more about what consciousness is and what building blocks it requires, it might be hard to know what signals to look for in an experimental brain model15
With regard to human–animal chimaeras, researchers are already dealing with beings that have some form of consciousness. Here, the need to establish what measures to base protections on (both for the animal and the human subject) is more pressing. One possibility is for researchers to use anesthetics or other methods to maintain comatose-like brain states. Perhaps certain brain functions or a pre-specified level of brain activity, signaling a lack of capacity, could be used to delineate ethically justifiable research. 
Human-animal blurring. Researchers have already produced mice with rat pancreases by injecting rat pluripotent stem cells into mouse embryos. The same approach could one day enable the production of human organs in other animals16
How do we define the boundaries of this research? What implications might such boundaries have for vascularizing brain organoids, or for growing neural tissue in animals? Is the production of a human heart in a pig’s body acceptable, for instance, but not the production of a brain from human cells?
We believe that decisions about which kinds of chimaera are permitted, or about whether certain human organs grown in animals make animals ‘too human-like’, should ultimately be made on a case-by-case basis — taking into account the risks, benefits and people’s diverse sensitivities. 
Death. Do ex vivo human brain models challenge our understanding of life and death? What implications might such models have for the legal definition of death, and what are the implications for decisions tied to this definition, such as organ donation? 
The advent of tracheal positive-pressure ventilation in the 1950s and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the 1960s led to the concept of brain death. Beginning in the 1960s, a person whose brain had completely and irreversibly ceased to function could be declared dead, even if they still had a heartbeat.
Any emerging technologies that could restore lost functionality to a person’s brain could potentially undermine the diagnosis of brain death, because the cessation of brain function might no longer be permanent and irreversible. But a distinction here is important: technologies that would restore a few neurons or certain limited kinds of brain activity would not restore clinical functionality of the brain and so would not raise this concern.
Consent. Is the standard process of obtaining informed consent adequate for research using human brain cells or tissue, or developing brain surrogates from induced pluripotent stem cells? 
Currently, researchers using pluripotent stem cells or brain tissues generally disclose their plans to donors in broad terms. Given how much people associate their experiences and sense of self with their brains, more transparency and assurances could be warranted. Donors might wish to deny the use of their stem cells for the creation of, say, human-animal chimaeras.
This targeted approach is used in other contexts. When people undergoing in vitro fertilization procedures choose to donate excess embryos to research, for instance, they are assured that these will not be used to create a baby. 
Stewardship. Is there a point at which we should be concerned about the welfare of brain surrogates or chimaeras, such that assigning someone loosely akin to a guardian or decision-maker for the brain surrogate might be warranted, beyond the researchers involved? Such an arrangement would be similar to the appointment of a guardian ad litem in custody disputes involving children in the United States (someone besides the parents who can represent the child’s interests). 
Ownership. Who, if anyone, should ‘own’ ex vivo brain tissue, brain organoids or chimaeras? 
At present, brain tissue samples are owned by the researchers or organizations collecting the tissue or doing the science. If significant developments in the field one day lead us to regard any of these brain surrogates as having greater moral status than we would currently give them, might greater privileges and protections be appropriate?
Post-research handling. How should human brain tissue be disposed of, or handled at the end of an experiment? 
Today, brain organoids or ex vivo brain tissue are destroyed following standard practices for disposing of all tissues. But if researchers develop mice, say, with some advanced cognitive capacities, should those animals be destroyed or given special treatment at the end of a study? Already certain animals, such as chimpanzees, enter sanctuaries to live out the remainder of their lives after researchers have finished working with them in laboratories.
Data. Should there be special requirements for data sharing, collaboration and legacy use of brain tissue? 
The unique benefits and risks of sharing data obtained from such tissues will need to be considered. Ex vivo human brain tissue could reveal sensitive information — for instance, about a person’s memories or disease status. Equally, there could be more value in sharing such information, because of the difficulty of obtaining human brain tissue. In some cases, certain features of the data might need to be stripped out, or the extent of sharing limited. 
Geneticists have long grappled with similar issues for people’s genomic information; some of their approaches could be applied to brain research. 
Ethics efforts
Various efforts are already tackling the ethics of advances in neuroscience17. When the BRAIN Initiative was announced in 2013, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues was charged with evaluating ethics, and produced a two-volume report in response18,19. The European Commission’s Human Brain Project has a major ethics component, and the NIH BRAIN Initiative has a neuroethics division. 
But we think more needs to be done. Existing institutional ethics review boards or those for stem-cell research oversight might not yet be equipped to address issues specific to these experimental brain models because they are so new. We recommend that such organizations ask experts in this area to join their boards or serve as consultants. New committees, dedicated to overseeing the use of human-brain surrogates, could also be assembled. 
As for the broader societal conversation, various models exist for democratic deliberation that could be applied. One example is the successful consultations between the public, scientists, regulators and bioethicists that preceded the UK government’s decision to permit the clinical use of mitochondrial DNA transfer in 2015. 
As these conversations play out, the major funders of biomedical research should strive to provide guidance and, eventually, guidelines. Also, researchers engaged in the development and use of human-brain surrogates should seek ethical guidance, for instance from their funders, review boards or institutions. They should also share their experiences and concerns, as reviewers, in their own papers or at conferences. 
We do not think that these difficult questions should halt this research. Experimental models of the human brain could help us to unlock mysteries about psychiatric and neurological illnesses that have long remained elusive. But to ensure the success and social acceptance of this research long term, an ethical framework must be forged now, while brain surrogates remain in the early stages of development.

Nita A. Farahany, Henry T. Greely and 15 :

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