Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, December 06, 2021

At what point does public commonweal override individual privacy? That’s the painful point of contention right now in Argentina, as about 400 orphans from the 1976-83 “dirty war” will be forced to provide DNA samples to determine if their biological parents were victims of the era’s dictatorship.

Children of the “disappeared” were often given to military or police families considered loyal to the military government. Some have grown up not even knowing they were adopted until activists or judges announced efforts to obtain their DNA…

The Argentine law may be unprecedented in requiring tests of people who aren’t suspected of crimes, said Marcy Darnovsky, associate executive director for the Center for Genetics and Society in Berkeley, Calif.

Large forensic DNA databases in Britain and the U.S. have generated controversy because they include people who have been arrested but not convicted or, in some cases, even charged. Pilot projects in Britain, the U.S. and France that used DNA tests to confirm family ties of asylum seekers also have raised ethical concerns.

The Argentine law has created a furor among some rights advocates.

“If an adult doesn’t want to know his origins, you have to respect it,” said Julio Strassera, a former prosecutor who put top military leaders on trial.

Some who have recovered their identities welcome the law, saying it removes a heavy burden from people who suspect they might have been stolen at birth.

“The state cannot leave in the hands of a young person, raised by a member of the military, manipulated by guilt, the decision of whether or not to learn his true identity,” said Horacio Pietragalla, who learned in 2003 that he was taken as a baby from his biological mother, Liliana Corti.

Under the new law, the state “tells you the truth. After that, you have to decide what you want to do with that truth,” he said.

In the past, DNA findings have sometimes been made public against an orphan’s wishes, either because a judge announced it or because the biological family released the information. The new law provides no guarantee of privacy either.

Pietragalla has reconnected with his biological family, but others want nothing to do with their blood relatives.

Quagmires don’t get much murkier than this. Ultimately, the orphans are being played as pawns between the left and right in Argentine society. It’s not like the biological families can reclaim the wayward children — they’re all full-grown adults now. It all boils down to identity politics.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/06/2021 07:02 PM
Category: Political, Science, Society, True Crime
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poppin'I was unaware of the indirect lineage between Popeye and Mario:

[Nintendo game designer Shigeru] Miyamoto: So I sketched out a few ideas for games using Popeye. At that point, Yokoi-san was good enough to bring these ideas to the President’s attention and in the end one of the ideas received official approval… And that’s how “Donkey Kong” came about.

[Nintendo president Satoru] Iwata: But originally it was going to be a Popeye game.

Miyamoto: That’s right. But while I can’t recall exactly why it was, we were unable to use Popeye in that title. It really felt like the ladder had been pulled out from under us, so to speak… Anyway, at the time we were at a loss as to how to proceed. Then we thought: “Why not come up with our own original character?”

Iwata: So basically “Donkey Kong” and Mario came about once the ladder had been pulled out from beneath you.

Miyamoto: Exactly.

Further backstory: During the early ’80s, Nintendo was the Japanese market licensee for Popeye the Sailor Man merchandise. That’s how Miyamoto came to use the character in his videogame mockups for the then-nascent videogame division of the company.

The further irony is that Nintendo did, indeed, put out a “Popeye” coin-op game not long after the success of “Donkey Kong”. I remember playing that game as a kid, even though it was pretty hard to find it in most arcades.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/06/2021 04:08 PM
Category: Pop Culture, Videogames
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