“All Options Are Open”: Trump Threatens To Use The U.S. Military To Invade Venezuela

We are getting dangerously close to war with Venezuela.

Last month, 35-year-old Juan Guaido declared himself to be the new president of Venezuela, and since that time 50 countries have recognized him as the legitimate leader of the country. But Russia, China and much of the rest of the world still recognizes Nicolas Maduro, and Maduro is absolutely determined to remain in power. The Venezuelan military appears to be fully backing Maduro, and that is going to make it extremely difficult to remove him. On Monday, President Trump ramped up pressure on Maduro by telling the world that “all options are open” when it comes to regime change in Venezuela…

“We know who they are and we know where they keep the billions of dollars they have stolen,” Trump said, warning Venezuelan military officials who continue to back Maduro that they are “risking their future.”

“We seek a peaceful transition of power, but all options are open,” Trump said.

Those are very ominous words, and I want you to consider the implications of those words very carefully.

Of course the White House would gladly welcome a peaceful resolution that would remove Maduro from power, but that is very unlikely to happen.

So that means either Trump is going to have to back down and allow Maduro to stay in power, or else opt for a military option.

And as we have seen in the past, other nations may participate in a “coalition” to remove Maduro, but ultimately the heavy lifting would be done by the U.S. military.

The Venezuelan military is no match for the U.S., but it is no pushover either. It would take much more than dropping some bombs to get rid of Maduro and his government, and so what we are really talking about is a potential U.S. invasion of Venezuela. It would be a horrible, bloody conflict, and even after the U.S. had secured the major cities, socialist forces would keep on fighting back for endless years to come. That means that we would have to keep troops there indefinitely, and it would almost certainly become another quagmire like we witnessed in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

And for what? Just so that we can put in a new puppet government that is slightly less socialist and that will play along better with the rest of the global establishment?

Also, if we invade Venezuela we could find ourselves in direct conflict with Russian forces, because they are already there

The arrival of 400 Russian military contractors after Mr. Trump’s Jan. 23 recognition of Mr. Guaido, the head of the National Assembly, triggered speculation that Moscow was reinforcing Mr. Maduro’s personal security or even preparing his evacuation.

But with Mr. Maduro defying calls to step down, the Russian mission may be more extensive than reported, said John Marulanda, a U.S.-trained intelligence officer and adviser to conservative Colombian President Ivan Duque, an opponent of Mr. Maduro. Mr. Marulanda said the recent Russian arrivals are special forces — Spetsnaz — who are being embedded among Venezuela’s elite military units to better resist any U.S. intervention or internal coup against Mr. Maduro.

Do we really want to go head to head with Russian special forces over the political future of Venezuela?

If we are going to ask young American men and women to shed their blood, it had better be for a really, really good reason, and not liking the socialist leader of Venezuela does not qualify.

In the short-term, the focus for the U.S. is going to be on trying to get “humanitarian aid” into Venezuela from neighboring Colombia and elsewhere.

During his speech, Trump admitted that U.S. Air Force cargo planes have been shuttling such aid into Colombia in recent days…

“Two days ago the first US Air Force C-17 landed in Colombia loaded with crucial assistance, including thousands of nutrition kits for little Venezuelan children,” Trump said. “Unfortunately dictator Maduro has blocked this life-saving aid from entering the country. He would rather see his people starve than give them aid.”

“Maduro is not a Venezuelan patriot, he is a Cuban puppet,” Trump added.

But of course the U.S. could have been offering humanitarian aid to Venezuela for many years. Instead, our brutal sanctions have been crippling their economy and have greatly facilitated this crisis. Starting on Saturday, a very strong push will be made to “peacefully” bring U.S. aid across the Venezuela border in an all-out effort to make Maduro look bad

The Trump administration and the Venezuelan opposition have staked their plans to weaken President Nicolás Maduro on a climactic moment only days away: On Saturday, they will try to break his blockade of the border with a delivery of food and medication.

The two have set Feb. 23 as the deadline for an ambitious land-and-sea campaign that would bring humanitarian supplies through Colombia, Brazil and the Caribbean and into the hands of thousands of Venezuelans who have suffered the greatest economic collapse the region has faced in generations.

It is exceedingly obvious that Nicolas Maduro is a horrible leader, and everyone knows that he is going to block any U.S. effort to bring anything across the border.

But this isn’t about trying to help the people of Venezuela. In the end, this stunt is designed to provoke favorable media coverage that will help build public support for war. During remarks to the press, John Bolton essentially admitted as much

If the Venezuelan military blocks the aid, Mr. Bolton said, the world would see Mr. Maduro’s “true colors,” Mr. Bolton said.

“We hope that the press will be there to see the Maduro loyalists stopping humanitarian assistance from going to the poor people of Venezuela,” Mr. Bolton said. “People want to know why the Venezuelan people are rising up. That act by Maduro would be proof beyond words.”

John Bolton has always been a neocon, and this is straight out of the neocon playbook.

Let us hope that when push comes to shove, President Trump will reject the advice of neocons like Bolton and will decide that invading Venezuela is not the right thing to do.

Unfortunately, there are many in Washington that would like to plunge the world into war, and it would not take much to set off an apocalyptic scenario. Our world is already teetering on the brink, and it would not be too hard to push us over the edge.

For the moment, Venezuela’s “acting president” Juan Guaido is not formally requesting U.S. military intervention, but he is not ruling it out either

Venezuela’s self-proclaimed acting president Juan Guaido refused to rule out on Friday the possibility of authorizing United States intervention to help force President Nicolas Maduro from power and alleviate a humanitarian crisis.

National Assembly leader Guaido told AFP he would do “everything that is necessary… to save human lives,” acknowledging that US intervention is “a very controversial subject.”

After everything that has happened over the past couple of decades, you would think that the American people would be completely and utterly sick and tired of war by now.

There is always a very high price for intervening militarily in other countries, and the price for invading Venezuela would be very high indeed.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.infowars.com/all-options-are-open-trump-threatens-to-use-the-u-s-military-to-invade-venezuela/

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Poll: 63% Say Govt Shutdown Has Had No Impact On Them At All

Though our political class is whining incessantly about the partial government shutdown, the overwhelming majority of Americans say the shutdown has had zero effect on their lives.

From 13 News Now:

[A] new Rasmussen Reports poll of 1,000 likely voters shows that only nine percent say the shutdown has had a major impact on their personal lives. Sixty-three percent say the shutdown has had no impact at all on them.

I’d say odds are most of the 9 percent who say it’s had “a major impact on their personal lives” would say it has had a major positive impact!

The sun is shining and the birds are chirping!

There is absolutely no reason Trump or the GOP should cave on the demand for a measly $5 billion for a wall. They should be asking for the full $25 billion.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.infowars.com/poll-63-say-govt-shutdown-has-had-no-impact-on-them-at-all/

China Releases Footage Of “Mother of All Bombs” Dropped By Nuke Capable Jet

On Friday China unveiled video from a successful test of its most powerful non-nuclear weapon, dubbed the “Mother of All Bombs” in reference to a weapon previously used by US forces in Afghanistan.

The official Xinhua news agency published details of the weapon for the first time while calling it the “Chinese version of the ‘Mother of all Bombs’”.

It is reportedly 5-6 meters long and its massive weight means the delivery vehicle, in this case China’s H-6K long range nuclear capable bomber, can only carry one at a time.

While China has denied that it is a thermobaric bomb an explosive that uses oxygen in the surrounding air to generate a high-temperature explosion its incredible size mimics the 22,000-pound GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb that US forces dropped in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province targeting a jihadist hideout tunnel complex in April of 2017.

Still frame from official test footage of the Chinese “MOAB”

While the Chinese bomb is long, it actually reportedly weighs less than the American version, according to military analyst Wei Dongxu, who was quoted by the semi-official Global Times further as saying, “The massive explosion that was generated would easily wipe out land fortifications.”

The short video of the test was published to the website of state arms manufacturer Norinco and shows the bomb producing a massive ball of fire and black smoke over a nondescript plain.

Chinese media gave no details as to the date, location or range of the bomb blast, but the video was first released on Chinese social media on Wednesday, Jan. 2.

It remains, however, the US is the only military that has ever actually used such an oversized non-nuclear device in battle.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.infowars.com/china-releases-footage-of-mother-of-all-bombs-dropped-by-nuke-capable-jet/

World Hijab Day Encourages All Women to Wear Veil in Solidarity with Muslims

The World Hijab Day (WHD) non-profit organization launched its 2019 campaign Wednesday, encouraging women and girls of all faiths, backgrounds, and ethnicities to “voice their choice” of wearing the headscarf for 24 hours on February 1, in solidarity with Muslim women across the world.

“#FreeInHijab is the much-needed hashtag for our current global situation where women in hijab are labeled by media as oppressed and symbolically imprisoned,” Nazma Khan told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency (AA).

“Through this hashtag, women are encouraged to voice their choice of wearing the hijab; thus dispelling common misconceptions,” Khan added.

Read more

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.infowars.com/world-hijab-day-encourages-all-women-to-wear-veil-in-solidarity-with-muslims/

France In Chaos: Macron Considers State Of Emergency Amid ‘Yellow Vest’ Protests, ‘All Options’ Considered

French President Emmanuel Macron will hold an emergency meeting of senior ministers on Sunday following the worst unrest Paris has seen in a decade on Saturday. Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told France’s Europe 1 radio that a state of emergency may be imposed to prevent “serious outbursts of violence” after thousands of masked “Yellow Vest” protesters fought with police, and set fires to cars, houses and banks.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.infowars.com/france-in-chaos-macron-considers-state-of-emergency-amid-yellow-vest-protests-all-options-considered/

Google ‘fuelling hypochondria’ as searches for health conditions at all time high

Internet searches for serious health conditions have increased by thousands of percentage points over the last three years sparking fears the web is fuelling hypochondria.

UK search volumes for terms such as ‘how to know chest pains are serious’ have risen by 8,781 per cent from 2015 to 2018, analysis of Google data has found.

p:nth-of-type(2)”,”sizes”:[[8,8]],”hideOnSensitiveArticle”:true,”relativePos”:”after”,”additionalClass”:”in-article”,”name”:”div-gpt-ad-vip-slot”,”type”:”VIP”}” data-gpt-placeholder=”” data-response-start=”1378.1999999919208″ data-type=”gpt” data-requested=”2432.7999999950407″ data-google-query-id=”COj-1ZLv494CFU_E4QodXPsAcA” data-timer-slot-rendered=”5109.899999995832″ data-rendered-width=”8″ data-rendered-height=”8″ data-response-end=”5636.999999987893″ data-viewable=”true” style=”background:rgb(255,255,255); border:0px; font-size:16px; margin:0px; outline:0px; padding:0px; vertical-align:baseline; overflow:hidden; z-index:1; color:rgb(20,20,20); font-family:”OpenSans”,sans-serif; font-style:normal; font-variant-ligatures:normal; font-variant-caps:normal; font-weight:400; letter-spacing:normal; orphans:2text-indent:0px; text-transform:none; white-space:normal; widows:2; word-spacing:0px; -webkit-text-stroke-width:0px; text-decoration-style:initial; text-decoration-color:initial; height:8px; max-height:8px; text-align:left;”>

Searches for keywords such as ‘sciatica’, ‘acne’ and ‘IBS’ plus ‘treatment’ are now searched over 100,000 times on average every year since 2015.

‘Stomach ache’ and ‘aching legs’ were also found to top online searches, with an average of 115,800 and 151,075 searches yearly since 2015.

‘GP near me’ was googled 500,000 times between January and August alone this year.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.mirror.co.uk/tech/google-fueling-hypochondria-searches-health-13616887

University Professors Told ‘All Caps’ are too Triggering. Ordered to Stop Using Them

Like Democrats with crime. Michael Moore’s gelatinous paunch. These kids have spent so long in their trigger-free safe spaces, simple things like too many capital letters are enough to trip them up. This is why university peeps are starting to outlaw professors from using words in all caps:

University lecturers have been told not to use words in capital letters when setting assignments because it might frighten students into failure.

These are your future leaders, world. God forbid a serious problem, like a county’s national debt, befall them.

Sleep tight.

Staff at Leeds Trinity’s school of journalism have also been told to “write in a helpful, warm tone, avoiding officious language and negative instructions”. Some blasted the move as “more academic mollycoddling” of the snowflake generation. An “enhancing student understanding, engagement and achievement” memo lists dos and don’ts – with “do” and “don’t” among words frowned upon.

Nobody tell them about red pens. Or give them a history book.

Course leaders say capitalising a word could emphasise “the difficulty or high-stakes nature of the task”.

The memo says: “Despite our best attempts to explain assessment tasks, any lack of clarity can generate anxiety and even discourage students from attempting the assessment at all.

“Oh Golly. Professor Blockhead used that word in all caps. This is getting to be too much. THE PRESSURE!!! Oh, no. NOW I’M USING ALL CAPS! AAAAAHHHHHH!”

These kids DO NOT like all caps. So, I guess it’s in everyone’s best interest if those pesky capital letters would just GO AWAY. While we’re at it, let’s just go ahead and nix italicizing, bolding, and underlining as well. After all, we wouldn’t want those younglings to have a full-on NERVOUS BREAKDOWN!

We seem to be becoming wimpified as a people. Remember the good ol’ days when being conservative was the only verboten thing on campus? Yeah, those days are long past. Now, capital letters are too triggering for the younger generations. These are the people who will be running the show in a few decades. God help us.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.infowars.com/university-professors-told-all-caps-are-too-triggering-ordered-to-stop-using-them/

China Halts All Oil Imports From US

Aerica’s second-largest oil client, China, has completely stopped buying crude from the United States as trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies continue to grow.

While oil has not been included on the list of bilateral tariffs, Chinese refiners have been staying away from buying crude from the US.

“We are one of the major carriers for crude oil from the US to China. Before [the trade war] we had a nice business, but now it’s totally stopped,” Xie Chunlin, the president of CMES, said on the sidelines of the Global Maritime Forum’s Annual Summit in Hong Kong, as quoted by Reuters.

“It’s unfortunately happened, the trade war between the US and China. Surely for the shipping business, it’s not good,” the CMES president said.

He added that the trade war was also forcing China to diversify its soybean supplies. Beijing is now buying most of its soybeans from South America.

China’s crude oil imports from America reached an average of 334,880 barrels per day through August, making Beijing the second-largest buyer of US oil after Canada.

In fact, China may be the largest buyer of American crude since much of the oil imported by Canada is re-exports – Canadian crude that briefly crosses into the US on pipelines before re-entering Canada. After ending a 40-year ban on oil exports in late 2015, the US has ramped up sales to two million barrels per day (bpd).

China buys most of its crude from Russia, with imports soaring from 665,000 bpd in 2014 to 1.2 million bpd last year. Beijing’s other major suppliers are Saudi Arabia and Iran.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.infowars.com/china-halts-all-oil-imports-from-us/

Trump condemns ‘all types of racism’ a year after Charlottesville

US President Donald Trump, often accused of denigrating non-white people, condemned racism Saturday as the nation marked the anniversary of deadly unrest triggered by a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

That protest left one person dead and highlighted the growing boldness of the far right under Trump. Another far-right rally is scheduled for Sunday, right outside the White House.

On Saturday, anti-fascist marchers in Charlottesville held peaceful demonstrations against white supremacy as many people laid flowers on a makeshift memorial to Heather Heyer, who was killed in last year’s violence while protesting the extreme right.

Trump drew scorn after the Charlottesville bloodshed for initially avoiding any condemnation of the torch-bearing white nationalists who took part in that rally.

But on Saturday, he tweeted: “The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division.”

“We must come together as a nation. I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to ALL Americans!”

Democrat Mark Warner, a US senator from Virginia, insisted Trump cleared the way for white nationalists to spread “hate and bigotry.”

“These purveyors of hate and bigotry were emboldened to take their message public by a President who has refused to categorically and unequivocally condemn them in clear terms,” he wrote on Twitter.

“We must show that what sets us apart as citizens of this country are our values of respect, openness, and tolerance towards one another.”

Officials declared states of emergency for both the city of Charlottesville and the state of Virginia to help law enforcement mobilize state and local resources for security reasons.

A heavy security presence descended on the city, where concrete barricades and official cars encircled the downtown area, with just two entry points for pedestrians.

Auhthorities said two people were arrested, one for trespassing and the other for disorderly conduct. Both were released on misdemeanor summons.

– ‘Blame on both sides’ –

Last year’s protests began August 11 and saw hundreds of neo-Nazi sympathizers, accompanied by rifle-carrying men, yelling white nationalist slogans and wielding flaming torches in scenes eerily reminiscent of racist rallies held in America’s South before the Civil Rights movement.

They had gathered to protest efforts to remove statues of Confederate leaders, including one of the Confederacy’s top general, Robert E Lee.

On August 12, fighting broke out between neo-Nazi supporters and anti-fascists from a black-clad group called Antifa.

The violence culminated with a man driving a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing Heyer and injuring 19 people.

In the immediate aftermath, Trump drew broad criticism when he initially appeared to establish a moral equivalence between the two groups of protesters and refused to criticize the extreme rightwingers.

He did eventually yield to immense political pressure and condemn white nationalism.

But just a day later, Trump said there was “blame on both sides” for the violence in Virginia, pointing to anti-fascists who came “with clubs in their hands.”

“I think there’s blame on both sides,” Trump said. “But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”

Trump is constantly fending off charges that he is misogynist and racist. He denies the allegations.

Trump has retweeted white nationalist material, said Mexicans crossing the US border are rapists and drug dealers, once referred to a Hispanic Miss Universe as “Miss Housekeeping” and employed Steve Bannon, a central figure of the new “alt-right” in America, as his campaign chief and top strategist for a time.

In one of the most recent race-related flareups, a black former White House employee, Omarosa Manigault Newman, has written in an upcoming memoir that Trump was caught on mic uttering a racial slur “multiple times” while making his hit reality TV show “The Apprentice” prior to his presidential run, and that there are tapes to prove it.

Manigault Newman is a former “Apprentice” star. She served as director of communications for the White House office of public liaison until she was fired in December.

She cites three unnamed sources as having heard the taboo language, and adds that she experienced “truly appalling things” with Trump, according to The Guardian, which obtained a copy of the book ahead of its publication next week.

The White House dismissed the account as riddled with lies and false accusations. Trump called her a “lowlife.”

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-condemns-types-racism-charlottesville-145838883.html

DNA for Sale: Ancestry wants your spit, your DNA and your trust. Should you give them all 3?

It markets its DNA kits with promises that tug at the heartstrings: Discover ancestors. Strengthen family ties. Understand your life.

Aided by venture capital and a flood of savvy marketing, Ancestry LLC has grown to become the world’s largest DNA testing conglomerate. Since 2012, it has lured more than 5 million people to spit into tubes and add their genetic code to the world’s largest private database of DNA. It has also banked away the world’s largest collection of human spittle, numbering in the hundreds of gallons.

In the age of Facebook and Google, consumers seem comfortable surrendering their personal information to corporations that aggregate it and monetize it. But Ancestry and other DNA testing companies have added an audacious tweak: Consumers are now paying to hand over their genetic code, their most sensitive individual identifier, to companies that could monetize it far into the future.

Ancestry officials say they have state-of-the-art systems to prevent hacking and security breaches. So far the company has sidestepped privacy scandals that tripped up companies like Facebook, which allowed a political data firm, Cambridge Analytica, to access data from 50 million customers, or government agencies like the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which a few years ago exposed more than a million personnel records and security clearance data to hackers.

But a three-month review by McClatchy, including visits to Ancestry’s headquarters and a main testing lab, reveals a pattern of breached promises to customers, security concerns and inflated marketing pledges that could give consumers some pause:

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Unidentified hackers last year accessed an Ancestry website, RootsWeb, compromising the sign-ins of 55,000 Ancestry customers who had the same log-in credentials with RootsWeb. The site has since been shut down. The incident received little attention, but revealed how customers’ personal information could be accessed and exploited through Ancestry’s partnerships and acquisitions.

AncestryDNA, a subsidiary of Ancestry LLC that markets genetic testing, pledges to safeguard people’s private data. But the company has a history of changing the terms of its agreements with customers. In the most high-profile example, Ancestry in 2014 shut down MyFamily.com, a social networking site where more than 1.5 million users had posted family memories, photos and conversations. Numerous customers said they lost treasured family history because of inadequate notification from the company, which decided not to back up the data.

Ancestry claims to beat its competitors in accurate analysis of a person’s ethnicity. But interviews with company officials reveal that Ancestry has wide gaps in its ethnic markers for Asia and other sections of the world. Outside geneticists and anthropologists say that Ancestry and other companies are making misleading claims about the accuracy of their ethnic analyses.

Most Ancestry customers consent to have their DNA results, in a de-identified form, shared with the company’s research partners in the pursuit of sciences, including finding cures to diseases. But Ancestry’s main research partner is a secretive Google subsidiary called Calico Life Sciences, which is focused on ways to extend human longevity through biotechnology. Critics have labeled Calico a “vanity project” of several Silicon Valley billionaires who want to extend their own lifespans.

Peter Pitts, a former associate commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration, said it was inevitable that private companies would one day commercialize DNA analysis. But the speed and scope of the industry’s rise is worrisome, he said, in part because few consumers read the fine print of a company’s terms and conditions.

“People need to be aware there are risks and benefits,” said Pitts, who now runs Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, a New York-based nonprofit. “Right now they see the benefit as being able to have cocktail-party conversation about their genetic makeup. They aren’t thinking about the risks of giving up their personal information, and the long-term implications.”

Many consumers, he said, have a limited understanding of how DNA is such a unique personal identifier, even more than a fingerprint or social security number. DNA determines the color of a person’s hair and eyes, their skin color and propensity to inherited diseases – information that employers or insurers might want to obtain.

And when someone takes a DNA test, the results not only provide information about that individual, but close relatives as well, said Marcy Darnovsky, director of the Center for Genetics and Society, a biotech watchdog group based in Berkeley, Calif. “You are not just taking the test for you. You are taking it for the whole family,” she said.

Read more: U.S. wants 1 million to share DNA, health habits for science

Founded by a pair of Brigham Young University graduates in the 1990s, Ancestry.com was one of the early internet start-ups that allowed customers to build their family trees online, accessing troves of information that the company assembled. Paul B. Allen, one of the founders of Ancestry.com, said it makes sense that a family-tree internet company would arise in Utah, where the Mormon church has long kept extensive family history records. “This is the mother lode of genealogical research,” he said.

Thirty years later, Ancestry is still based in Utah, but has mushroomed into a multinational company that operates in more than 30 countries, pulling in $1 billion in revenue in 2017. Its headquarters in Lehi, south of Salt Lake City, is home to 1,100 of the company’s 1,600 employees. The building features a display of lanterns, descending through several floors, meant to resemble DNA strands.

But to really grasp the company’s rapid growth, one needs to visit one of Ancestry’s contractor labs, where the company sends customer’s genetic samples for analysis. One of these labs is in La Jolla, Calif., owned by Illumina, a leading company in sequencing and genotyping DNA.

On a recent weekday, Illumina lab manager Jay Antico donned gloves and a gown and entered a room where Ancestry kits arrive daily. A line of workers were removing spit tubes from the kits, scanning their bar codes and checking for defects. Behind them were a wall of shelving filled with thousands of partly full tubes.

How many tubes arrive at Illumina daily? Antico and Ancestry officials declined to say. “Let’s just say it’s a lot,” said Antico, eyeing the shelves lined with people’s saliva.

Like other DNA testing companies, Ancestry uses spit for genetic analysis because is it an easy way for consumers to provide their DNA. Saliva contains white blood cells and cells from the inner lining of people’s mouths. Companies such as Illumina isolate the DNA, then go through a multi-step process of “amplifying” it, processing it and turning it into a machine-readable code. The entire process takes about four days, after which Ancestry uses the code to analyze a customer’s ethnicity.

Ancestry is highly sensitive about concerns that customer’s privacy could be compromised as DNA is shipping around the country, passing through labs and sorting centers.

“Privacy is basically our top priority here,” Eric Heath, Ancestry’s chief privacy officer, said. “In terms of security, you know, we are very cognizant that without our customers’ trust, we do not have a business.”

To prevent disclosure of customer identities, the kits and spit tubes that Ancestry sends to Illumina are marked only with bar codes, not people’s names and addresses. After Illumina finishes its analysis, the results are sent back to Ancestry, which, according to Heath, is the only entity that can reconnect the results with individual customers. After Ancestry generates an ethnicity estimate for a customer, it is forwarded onto that person’s email.

—-

Privacy experts say that while this protocol guards against inadvertent disclosure, it still leaves people’s genetic data vulnerable.

Cyber theft is one risk. A 2017 hacking incident forced Ancestry to shut down its RootsWeb website and notify customers whose sign-on information may have been stolen. Ancestry in 2000 had purchased RootsWeb – a free genealogical website that offered online forums for people to research their family histories – but apparently had not fully upgraded its security protocols.

“The RootsWeb situation was certainly unfortunate,” Heath said. But he said the RootsWeb was a “completely separate system” from Ancestry’s databases that contain sensitive customer information, including DNA data. The company stores that sensitive data in the cloud, he said, with an encrypted system that only can be accessed through Ancestry’s own key.

Martin Shelton, a cybersecurity expert based in Silicon Valley, said it’s encouraging that Ancestry encrypts its data. But the ultimate security of this system, he added, “depends on how they store the encryption keys.” Wide internal access to encryption keys, he said, could contribute to security breaches in the future.

Law enforcement also has various ways to access people’s DNA data.

To make an arrest in the East Area Rapist case, Sacramento investigators created a bogus account on a open-access DNA database, GEDmatch, and then found a lucky match to DNA taken from a crime scene.

Officials for Ancestry, 23andMe and other leading DNA-testing companies say it would be impossible for law enforcement to use similar surreptitious methods to find suspects on their sites, which only allow customers to send in saliva, not DNA results from an outside testing service. But DNA-testing companies could be forced to hand over genetic data in response to a court warrant or subpoena, as they generally disclose.

“AncestryDNA will never disclose your data to insurance providers, employers or law enforcement (unless compelled by valid legal process),” the company notes on its website.

Ancestry also acknowledges that customers could face various risks if their DNA data and other personal information is made public or somehow obtained by third parties.

“It may be used to identify you, and may negatively impact your ability to obtain certain types of insurance coverage, or used by law enforcement agencies to identify you if they have additional DNA data to compare to your Data,” the company notes its informed consent clause, which testing companies use to shield themselves from future liability.

Read more: Use of DNA in serial killer probe sparks privacy concerns

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Unless customers request otherwise, Ancestry adds people’s DNA data to its proprietary database, the largest of its kind. In a mere six years, the database has grown to include DNA from more than 5 million people, up from 2 million in mid-2016, according to company figures.

Ancestry not only stores people’s genetic data, but the raw DNA itself. After labs such as Illumina extract a small amount of saliva from the tubes for analysis, the remainder of people’s biological sample is returned to Ancestry’s custody. Where that DNA is stored, and how long it will be stored, is unknown. Company officials won’t say.

Ownership of this DNA has been source of controversy, for Ancestry and other companies. Last year, privacy lawyer Joel Winston wrote an article, re-posted on ThinkProgress, which criticized Ancestry’s terms and conditions, arguing they give the company a free license to exploit people’s DNA for the rest of time.

“Customers must understand that turning over their DNA means a loss of complete ownership and control,” Winston wrote. “Ancestry.com customers should also know they’re giving up the genetic privacy of themselves and their relatives.”

Ancestry reacted strongly to the article, with Heath, the company’s chief privacy officer, calling it “inflammatory and inaccurate.” Soon after, Ancestry updated its terms and conditions, clarifying its does not “claim ownership rights in the DNA that is submitted for testing.” The company, he added, needs to obtain a license from customers to provide the product they purchased.

Winston, based in Pittsburgh, said he was surprised at the company’s strong pushback, but asserts the upshot is still the same.

“Ancestry’s terms and conditions are long, and somewhat boring, but people should read them,” he said. “They make a big deal of stating that you own your DNA. But they are taking a worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free license to do what they want with your DNA and your actual genetic sample that they keep in storage.”

Ancestry allows customers to request their DNA analysis be erased from the company’s database after results are received, and also request destruction of their remaining biological sample. But it is a two-step process, and customers must read deep into the company’s privacy statement to learn how to do it. Requests for DNA data elimination can be made online, but the company asks customers to call its support center to request destruction of their biological sample.

“They don’t make it easy,” said Pitts, of Center for Medicine in the Public Interest. “One thing they could do right now is have a button right next to the “I accept” button that says please destroy my genetic information after obtaining results. That would be a very robust statement and the step in the right direction.”

Jennifer Lynch, a lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, another watchdog group, said a major concern with Ancestry and other DNA testing companies is whether their policies will change over time, with new ownership and management. Future owners could change privacy protections, she said, including Ancestry’s promise not to share personal data with insurance companies.

Ancestry officials insist that will never happen, for business and other reasons. But the company’s terms and conditions, in boilerplate language, make clear that the company’s policies could change in the future. The company says customers will be contacted about any changes, and then will have the option of canceling their accounts. But if they don’t notice or don’t opt out, any changes will become effective 30 days after notification.

“We have the right to modify these Terms or any additional terms that apply to a Service at any time,” the company says.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/DNA-for-Sale-Ancestry-wants-your-spit-your-DNA-and-your-trust-Should-you-give-them-all-3-_168819151