Florida Judge Rules Drug Testing Welfare Recipients Unconstitutional: Nothing So Immediate About Government Interest in Drug Free Recipients That Warrants Suspending Fourth Amendment

what if the government just made everyone do it? ok then?A district court judge in
Florida granted summary judgment for the plaintiff in a case
challenging the constitutionality of a law requiring welfare
recipients to submit to drug testing. The law was in effect for
four months after being passed in 2011, before being temporarily
suspended by a court order. During that time only 2.6 percent of
recipients tested positive for drugs, most commonly marijuana,

according to the Miami Herald blog
, which also cites a
1998 study that found welfare recipients in the state had a lower
rate of drug use than the general population. The crux of the legal
case against the drug testing, via the Herald:

But in the Dec. 31 ruling, the court agreed with the
11th Circuit’s conclusion that “There is nothing so special or
immediate about the government’s interest in ensuring that TANF
recipients are drug free so as to warrant suspension of the Fourth
Amendment. The only known and shared characteristic of the
individuals who would be subjected to Florida’s mandatory drug
testing program is that they are financially needy families with
children. Yet, there is nothing inherent in the condition of being
impoverished that supports the conclusion that there is a concrete
danger that impoverished individuals are prone to drug use or that
should drug use occur, that the lives of TANF recipients are
fraught with such risks of injury to others that even a momentary
lapse of attention can have disastrous consequences.”

You can peruse the whole ruling
here
.

More Reason on drug
testing
and on the Fourth
Amendment

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/31/florida-judge-rules-drug-testing-welfare
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Will the Government Test Drones in Your State?

The Federal Aviation Adminstration
(FAA) announced that Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas,
and Virginia will serve as test sites for drone planes, and some
sites will be operational within 180 days. While we have good reason
to be wary of the government’s military and surveillance drones
clouding our skies, there’s no need to
blast
these particular drones out of the sky. The FAA tests
will focus not on building better bombs, but better commerce.

Twenty-five states applied to be drone testing locations, likely
enticed by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems
International’s (AUVSI) study that speculates within the “first
three years of integration more than 70,000 jobs will be created in
the United States with an economic impact of more than $13.6
billion.”

How did the agency make their pick of those six states? The
Associated Press (AP) states that “the designation as a test site
doesn’t come with a financial award from the government,” and

explains
:

In choosing Alaska, the FAA cited a diverse set of test site
locations in seven climatic zones. New York’s site at Griffiss
International Airport will look into integrating drones into the
congested northeast airspace. And Nevada offered proximity to
military aircraft from several bases, [FAA Administrator Michael]
Huerta said.

The extent that lobbying influenced the selection of the sites
was unclear.

[…]

The testing will determine whether drones can detect and avoid
aircraft and other obstacles, and if they can operate safety when
contact is lost with operators.

In 2012, Congress gave the agency three years to
integrate
“civil unmanned aircraft systems into international
airspace.” Currently, the vast majority of drones flying over
American skies are government operated, though the FAA has begun to
permit commercial use on “a case-by-case basis,” according
to CNN.

The Washington Times
warns
that bureaucratic sluggishness has already set plans for
widespread private use “more than a year behind schedule” and
further delays “could put the brakes on the drone revolution and
the economic benefits it would bring.” Brendan Schulman, who works
as special counsel within the drone industry told the
Times:

What we’ve experienced the past several years is a lot of
regulatory delay. In the meantime, other countries have moved ahead
with permitting and embracing commercial use. Countries
like Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom
already have a framework for commercial use of drones. That’s where
you’ll see companies going to do the work. That’s where you see
investment dollars going.

Although the FAA assures that
individuals’ privacy will not be compromised by these tests, some
have still not warmed up to the idea of more drones in America’s
skies. “Someday drones will be commonplace in U.S. skies and,
before that happens, it’s imperative that Congress enact strong,
nationwide privacy rules,” ACLU attorney Catherine Crump told the
AP.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/31/will-the-government-test-drones-in-your
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Time to Say Goodbye to 2013 with “A History of Bitcoin” Timeline

There is no doubt that the most important story of 2013 from an economic and monetary perspective was Bitcoin. Whether you love it, or thinks it’s “evil” like statist lemming leader Paul Krugman, this was the year in which decentralized, crypto-currency first entered human consciousness, a concept which is unlikely to go away any time soon. So on that note, I’d like to present you with the most comprehensive and enjoyably interactive “History of Bitcoin” timeline I have come across.

Click on the image below to get to the site:

Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 11.27.04 AM

*As far as my own timeline with BTC ,I first wrote about about Bitcoin in August, 2012 in my piece, Bitcoin: A Way to Fight Back Against the Financial Terrorists? 

See ya in 2014!

Michael Krieger

 Follow me on Twitter.

Time to Say Goodbye to 2013 with “A History of Bitcoin” Timeline originally appeared on A Lightning War for Liberty on December 31, 2013.

continue reading

from A Lightning War for Liberty http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2013/12/31/time-to-say-goodbye-to-2013-with-a-history-of-bitcoin-timeline/
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Final Three Uighur Prisoners Released From Guantanamo Bay

The final three Uighur prisoners have been
freed from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, a move that has been
described by the Pentagon as a
“significant milestone.”

The men had been detained for over a decade, despite the fact
that military assessments found that they had
no ties
to Al Qaeda or the Taliban. Although a federal judge
ruled that the men had been unlawfully detained in 2008 their
release was delayed because of what
The Washington Post
described as “repeated legal
wrangling and attempts to find a country willing to accept them.”
Slovakia has accepted the men, and the Slovakian
interior minister
has said that they are not terror suspects.
According to the BBC, the U.S.
does not “repatriate Uighur detainees to China because of the risk
they could be mistreated.”

The BBC notes that there are still 155 prisoners at Guantanamo
Bay, a reduction from over 750.

While he was a presidential candidate then-Senator Obama

promised
that he would close the prison at Guantanamo Bay when
he became president. However, as ABC’s
Matt Negrin
explained back in July, Obama has faced opposition
to closing the prison in Congress, another reminder that promises
are easier to make than they are to keep:

Obama has run into plenty of opposition in Congress. Lawmakers
passed a bill preventing federal money from being used to transfer
Guantanamo prisoners to the United States. Obama signed that bill
into law, even as he issued a statement that disapproved of it. The
provision was part of a bigger military bill that Obama said was
too important not to sign.

Republicans, in particular, say that Guantanamo must stay open
to keep terrorists there.

Last week, Obama
signed
the NDAA for FY 2014, which included the easing of
restrictions on transferring detainees into custody abroad. The ban
on transferring Guantanamo Bay detainees to the U.S. is still in
place.

In
a statement
on the signing of the bill Obama said:

The continued operation of the facility weakens our national
security by draining resources, damaging our relationships with key
allies and partners and emboldening violent extremists.

For the past several years, the Congress has enacted unwarranted
and burdensome restrictions that have impeded my ability to
transfer detainees from Guantanamo. Earlier this year I again
called upon the Congress to lift these restrictions and, in this
bill, the Congress has taken a positive step in that direction.

and:

The detention facility at Guantanamo continues to impose
significant costs on the American people.

More from Reason.com on Guantanamo Bay here.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/31/final-three-uighur-prisoners-released-fr
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Take a Grain of Salt With Those “Long” Connecticut Gun Registration Lines

AR-15Connecticut news outlets report long lines as the
deadline looms for state residents to undergo the registration
process that will magically render their firearms and
standard-capacity magazines legal, in contrast to those evil,
forbidden, yet identical, guns and mags that remain unregistered
after the turn of the year. Thousands of registrations have been
recorded, yet whether that counts as substantial compliance with
the law depends on something that’s unknowable: how many objects
subject to the law are in the state. As I’ve written before,
however, defiance of such laws is the historical norm.

According to
NBC Connecticut
:

Long lines extended again from Connecticut State Police
headquarters in Middletown Tuesday morning as gun owners raced to
comply with new gun laws that go into effect on Jan. 1.

New gun laws were enacted after the tragic shooting at Sandy
Hook Elementary School in Newtown in December 2012 that took the
lives of 20 first graders and six staff members. Tuesday is the
year-end deadline for gun owners to register certain assault
weapons as well as high-capacity magazines. …

As of Christmas, 25,000 people had registered assault weapons
and 17,000 registered high-capacity magazines, Malloy said Monday.
That number is sure to rise after hundreds of people waited in line
on the final two days of 2013, rushing to meet the deadline.

25,000 registered “assault weapons” with hundreds more to go?
But Governor Andrew Cuomo in (much larger) neighboring New York
estimates the number of similar weapons in his state at
one million
, while a widely ignored 1991 ban in New Jersey on
the arbitrarily defined category of weapons was estimated to apply
to
100,000-300,000 such guns
, before the
politics-fueled buying frenzies
of the last two
decades
.

I’m willing to bet that 25,000 registered assault weapons
represents a minority of the firearms that are legally required to
be registered under the law. Considering that the vast majority of
“assault weapons” use magazines restricted under the new law, and
that most people purchase multiple magazines for their rifles,
17,000 registrations in that category should be seen as wildly
underwhelming.

That shouldn’t be surprising at all, since
defiance of registration laws, let alone confiscations, is the
historical norm
in the United States, Australia, Canada,
France, Germany … Politicians made that particular bed by being
repeatedly untrustworthy,
abusing registration records
to seize recorded weapons, or
otherwise letting even tolerable governments degenerate into the
sort of regimes that make you wish you had a gun.

In a white paper on the results of gun control efforts around
the world,
Gun Control and the Reduction of the Number of Arms
,
Franz Csaszar, a professor of criminology at the University of
Vienna, Austria, wrote, “non-compliance with harsher gun laws is a
common event.” He estimated that Germans registered 3.2 million of
17-20 million affected weapons when registration was implemented in
that country in 1972. Austrians, he says, registered perhaps a
quarter to a third of weapons subject to a similar law in 1996.

When California imposed “assault weapon” registration in 1990,
The New York Times
reported
“only about 7,000 weapons of an estimated 300,000 in
private hands in the state have been registered” at the time the
grace period came to a close.

So take those “long lines” in Connecticut with a grain of salt.
Government officials are capable of turning a dinner party into an
extended, bureaucratic ordeal. But they can’t make compliance with
intrusive and repressive laws seem like a goood idea.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/31/take-a-grain-of-salt-with-those-long-con
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Take a Grain of Salt With Those "Long" Connecticut Gun Registration Lines

AR-15Connecticut news outlets report long lines as the
deadline looms for state residents to undergo the registration
process that will magically render their firearms and
standard-capacity magazines legal, in contrast to those evil,
forbidden, yet identical, guns and mags that remain unregistered
after the turn of the year. Thousands of registrations have been
recorded, yet whether that counts as substantial compliance with
the law depends on something that’s unknowable: how many objects
subject to the law are in the state. As I’ve written before,
however, defiance of such laws is the historical norm.

According to
NBC Connecticut
:

Long lines extended again from Connecticut State Police
headquarters in Middletown Tuesday morning as gun owners raced to
comply with new gun laws that go into effect on Jan. 1.

New gun laws were enacted after the tragic shooting at Sandy
Hook Elementary School in Newtown in December 2012 that took the
lives of 20 first graders and six staff members. Tuesday is the
year-end deadline for gun owners to register certain assault
weapons as well as high-capacity magazines. …

As of Christmas, 25,000 people had registered assault weapons
and 17,000 registered high-capacity magazines, Malloy said Monday.
That number is sure to rise after hundreds of people waited in line
on the final two days of 2013, rushing to meet the deadline.

25,000 registered “assault weapons” with hundreds more to go?
But Governor Andrew Cuomo in (much larger) neighboring New York
estimates the number of similar weapons in his state at
one million
, while a widely ignored 1991 ban in New Jersey on
the arbitrarily defined category of weapons was estimated to apply
to
100,000-300,000 such guns
, before the
politics-fueled buying frenzies
of the last two
decades
.

I’m willing to bet that 25,000 registered assault weapons
represents a minority of the firearms that are legally required to
be registered under the law. Considering that the vast majority of
“assault weapons” use magazines restricted under the new law, and
that most people purchase multiple magazines for their rifles,
17,000 registrations in that category should be seen as wildly
underwhelming.

That shouldn’t be surprising at all, since
defiance of registration laws, let alone confiscations, is the
historical norm
in the United States, Australia, Canada,
France, Germany … Politicians made that particular bed by being
repeatedly untrustworthy,
abusing registration records
to seize recorded weapons, or
otherwise letting even tolerable governments degenerate into the
sort of regimes that make you wish you had a gun.

In a white paper on the results of gun control efforts around
the world,
Gun Control and the Reduction of the Number of Arms
,
Franz Csaszar, a professor of criminology at the University of
Vienna, Austria, wrote, “non-compliance with harsher gun laws is a
common event.” He estimated that Germans registered 3.2 million of
17-20 million affected weapons when registration was implemented in
that country in 1972. Austrians, he says, registered perhaps a
quarter to a third of weapons subject to a similar law in 1996.

When California imposed “assault weapon” registration in 1990,
The New York Times
reported
“only about 7,000 weapons of an estimated 300,000 in
private hands in the state have been registered” at the time the
grace period came to a close.

So take those “long lines” in Connecticut with a grain of salt.
Government officials are capable of turning a dinner party into an
extended, bureaucratic ordeal. But they can’t make compliance with
intrusive and repressive laws seem like a goood idea.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/31/take-a-grain-of-salt-with-those-long-con
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Scott Shackford on Five Ways 2013 Was America’s Gayest Year

Thousands of gay Americans will be
ringing in the new year as legally recognized married couples, part
of an irreversible, dynamic shift in growing cultural acceptance of
same-sex relationships. 2013 was a bellwether year for gays in the
United States, but it also brought to the forefront debate over the
difference between government-enforced discrimination and private
freedoms of association. Reason’s Scott Shackford looks at the
developments, victories, challenges, and what’s ahead in gay,
lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/31/scott-shackford-on-five-ways-2013-was-am
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World’s First Sale by a Government-Licensed Recreational Pot Shop Scheduled for 8 a.m.

The world’s very first sale by a
government-licensed recreational pot store is
scheduled
for 8 a.m. tomorrow at 3D Cannabis Center in Denver.
Somewhat confusingly, the buyer, designated by the leaders of
Colorado’s legalization campaign, will be someone who would
ordinarily be considered a medical user: Sean Azzariti, an Iraq war
veteran “who can now legally use marijuana to alleviate the
symptoms of post-traumatic disorder,” a condition that was not
covered by Colorado’s medical marijuana law. But recreational
consumers will be the main source of new business for outlets like
3D Cannabis Center, which is conveniently located at 4305 Brighton
Boulevard, on the way into town from the airport. (The “3D” refers
to the shop’s former designation: Denver’s Discreet Dispensary.)
When I interviewed 3D’s owner, Toni Fox, about a year ago, she said
she hoped her proximity to Interstates 25 and 70 would help attract
business. “I would think that I would be able to sell out of the
cannabis that I had every day,” she said, “because the demand is
going to be so great.”

Over the short term, Fox and other dispensary
owners expanding into the recreational market stand to benefit from
the shortage
that is expected to last at least until marijuana from the first
plants grown for general consumption is harvested this spring. “The
medical marijuana prices have been cut unfairly in the for-profit
market, because of the competition,” she said. “When recreational
opens up and there’s a limited supply, I don’t have a problem
resetting my prices to street value and hopefully making a profit
finally.” Under state law, dispensary owners have a three-month
head start in the licensing process. Denver, which is where most of
the pot shops will be located, has
banned
new competitors until February 1, 2016, so the existing
dispensaries have a lock on the market until then. So far 102
retailers in Denver have
received
state licenses.

Although the Justice Department has
indicated
that it will leave the pot shops alone as long as
they are strictly regulated, banks continue to worry about the
legal consequences of accepting deposits from cannabusinesses,
which could be viewed as money laundering. When she opened her
dispensary, Fox persuaded the bank she had used for her
construction business to serve her new venture, but most marijuana
retailers are not so lucky. Many are forced to deal exclusively in
cash. “I cannot help but be concerned about the safety and security
threats caused by outdated federal banking regulations,” Fox says
in a
press release
from the National Cannabis Industry Association
(NCIA). “The widespread perception that cannabis retailers hold
large amounts of cash, despite top-notch security and monitoring,
creates an inherent danger for businesses owners, employees, and
communities alike.”

Deputy Attorney General David Cole has said the
Justice Department is talking to officials at the Treasury
Departmentment’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network
(FinCEN) about how to address this problem, but so far no
solution has emerged. “Members of Congress, state regulators,
community leaders, cannabis business professionals, and even many
local banks are calling for reform to the absurd interpretations of
law that inhibit banking services for cannabis-related businesses,”

says
Betty Aldworth, the NCIA’s deputy director. “There is
absolutely no justifiable reason to allow this threat to public
safety to continue in those states where the regulated sale of
marijuana has been made legal. A lack of access to banking services
is, quite frankly, the single most dangerous thing about the legal
sale of marijuana for medical or social use. It is long past time
for FinCEN and the Justice Department to catch up with the American
public and answer the call for safe, regulated markets by allowing
banking services.”

Despite all the hardships involved in growing and selling a
product that the federal government continues to treat as
contraband, Fox is excited about Colorado’s pathbreaking
experiment. “I am so grateful to be a pioneer and to be able to
change people’s perceptions of this plant and change the world,”
she says. “We’re going to change the world by ending
prohibition.”

More on what to expect when the pot shops open here.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/31/worlds-first-sale-by-a-government-licens
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World's First Sale by a Government-Licensed Recreational Pot Shop Scheduled for 8 a.m.

The world’s very first sale by a
government-licensed recreational pot store is
scheduled
for 8 a.m. tomorrow at 3D Cannabis Center in Denver.
Somewhat confusingly, the buyer, designated by the leaders of
Colorado’s legalization campaign, will be someone who would
ordinarily be considered a medical user: Sean Azzariti, an Iraq war
veteran “who can now legally use marijuana to alleviate the
symptoms of post-traumatic disorder,” a condition that was not
covered by Colorado’s medical marijuana law. But recreational
consumers will be the main source of new business for outlets like
3D Cannabis Center, which is conveniently located at 4305 Brighton
Boulevard, on the way into town from the airport. (The “3D” refers
to the shop’s former designation: Denver’s Discreet Dispensary.)
When I interviewed 3D’s owner, Toni Fox, about a year ago, she said
she hoped her proximity to Interstates 25 and 70 would help attract
business. “I would think that I would be able to sell out of the
cannabis that I had every day,” she said, “because the demand is
going to be so great.”

Over the short term, Fox and other dispensary
owners expanding into the recreational market stand to benefit from
the shortage
that is expected to last at least until marijuana from the first
plants grown for general consumption is harvested this spring. “The
medical marijuana prices have been cut unfairly in the for-profit
market, because of the competition,” she said. “When recreational
opens up and there’s a limited supply, I don’t have a problem
resetting my prices to street value and hopefully making a profit
finally.” Under state law, dispensary owners have a three-month
head start in the licensing process. Denver, which is where most of
the pot shops will be located, has
banned
new competitors until February 1, 2016, so the existing
dispensaries have a lock on the market until then. So far 102
retailers in Denver have
received
state licenses.

Although the Justice Department has
indicated
that it will leave the pot shops alone as long as
they are strictly regulated, banks continue to worry about the
legal consequences of accepting deposits from cannabusinesses,
which could be viewed as money laundering. When she opened her
dispensary, Fox persuaded the bank she had used for her
construction business to serve her new venture, but most marijuana
retailers are not so lucky. Many are forced to deal exclusively in
cash. “I cannot help but be concerned about the safety and security
threats caused by outdated federal banking regulations,” Fox says
in a
press release
from the National Cannabis Industry Association
(NCIA). “The widespread perception that cannabis retailers hold
large amounts of cash, despite top-notch security and monitoring,
creates an inherent danger for businesses owners, employees, and
communities alike.”

Deputy Attorney General David Cole has said the
Justice Department is talking to officials at the Treasury
Departmentment’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network
(FinCEN) about how to address this problem, but so far no
solution has emerged. “Members of Congress, state regulators,
community leaders, cannabis business professionals, and even many
local banks are calling for reform to the absurd interpretations of
law that inhibit banking services for cannabis-related businesses,”

says
Betty Aldworth, the NCIA’s deputy director. “There is
absolutely no justifiable reason to allow this threat to public
safety to continue in those states where the regulated sale of
marijuana has been made legal. A lack of access to banking services
is, quite frankly, the single most dangerous thing about the legal
sale of marijuana for medical or social use. It is long past time
for FinCEN and the Justice Department to catch up with the American
public and answer the call for safe, regulated markets by allowing
banking services.”

Despite all the hardships involved in growing and selling a
product that the federal government continues to treat as
contraband, Fox is excited about Colorado’s pathbreaking
experiment. “I am so grateful to be a pioneer and to be able to
change people’s perceptions of this plant and change the world,”
she says. “We’re going to change the world by ending
prohibition.”

More on what to expect when the pot shops open here.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/31/worlds-first-sale-by-a-government-licens
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From the New York Times: Another Tiresomely Misleading Bioethical Attack on Personalized Genetic Testing

genetictestingToday, the New York
Times
has published yet another article aiming to prove to
readers that genetic testing, especially direct to consumer
testing, is useless and perhaps even misleading. In her article,
I
Had My DNA Picture Taken, With Varying Results
,” by Kira
Peikoff, a bioethics graduate student at Columbia University, takes
genotype screening tests from three different companies is,
shocked, just shocked, to discover that the results do not
all agree.

This stunt has been pulled before, most notoriously by the
Government Accountability Office (GAO) back in 2010. In my article,
A
Genetic Testing Dupe?
,” reporting on the GAO’s study, I too
noted that I had received differing results from the two testing
companies I had used. Was I misled? Not at all.

I explained that the companies tested for different allele
variants related to disease risks, which they clearly explained in
their reports to customers. In my case the two companies I used
disagreed about my risks for colorectal cancer, melanoma, and heart
disease – all of which is explained by the way the companies select
research data for determing those variant alleles for which they
test.

Ms. Peikoff, to her credit, also explains this, but then
pretends that it is somehow confusing. She then goes to on explain
that environmental exposures also play a big role in future disease
risks. Please tell us something we don’t know.

As I reported in my article, I had already had a polyp removed,
suffered a second-degree sunburn as a child, and my parents died of
heart disease, so I would be taking those facts, as well as the
genetic information the companies supplied, into account as I
thought about my disease risks.  As I concluded:

The differential tests results do not bother me, and I would be
surprised if many gene testing pioneer customers find the
information they receive all that confusing. The results are
probabilistic calculations based on a selection of low risk
susceptibility alleles. The right way to think about the current
direct-to-consumer genotype screening tests is that they are a
preliminary technology. They offer supplementary, not dispositive
information about various health risks. The tests are not perfect,
but they are the beginning of the process through which consumers,
physicians, and purveyors will learn how to better interpret and
use genetic information over time.

We are in the Apple II era of genetic testing. It would have
been silly to ban the Apple
II
just because it was not as easy to use or immediately
comprehensible as the MacBook Air. Standardization
of test results will come as more information about the interaction
between genetic variants and environmental influences accumulates.
The current tests function as training wheels for curious consumers
who will be using the whole genome and epigenetic screening tests
that will be widely and cheaply available by the end of this
decade. As one of those curious consumers, I don’t want or need
federal regulators to protect me from my own test results.

That’s still the case, although that has unfortunately not
stopped the
Food and Drug Administration from banning
direct-to-consumer
genetic testing from
23andMe
.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/31/another-tiresomely-misleading-bioethical
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