There's no fool like a Bush administration fool

Since this piece in Wired referenced an email with a date of April 1 I was pretty sure this was an April Fool's joke. But the joke was on me. It's was for real:

A U.S. government-funded medical information site that bills itself as the world's largest database on reproductive health has quietly begun to block searches on the word "abortion," concealing nearly 25,000 search results.

Called Popline, the search site is run by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland. It's funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, the federal office in charge of providing foreign aid, including health care funding, to developing nations.

The massive database indexes a broad range of reproductive health literature, including titles like "Previous abortion and the risk of low birth weight and preterm births," and "Abortion in the United States: Incidence and access to services, 2005."

But on Thursday, a search on "abortion" was producing only the message "No records found by latest query." (Wired Blog)

The story started when a medical librarian at University of California in San Francisco tried to use the Popline database for a query involving the word "abortion". Previous searches with the database had worked properly but this time the "No records found by latest query" response came back.

Puzzled, she contacted the manager of the database, Johns Hopkins' Debbie Dickson, who replied in an April 1st e-mail that the university had recently begun blocking the search term because the database received federal funding.

"We recently made all abortion terms stop words," Dickson wrote in a note to Gloria Won, the UCSF medical center librarian making the inquiry. "As a federally funded project, we decided this was best for now."

There was no notice of the change on the site.

The Hopkins reply came on April 1st. Aha, says I. April Fools joke. But then I went to Popline myself and tried it. Response? "No records found by latest query." The "About" page for Popline says this:

POPLINE®(POPulation information onLINE), the world's largest database on reproductive health, containing citations with abstracts to scientific articles, reports, books, and unpublished reports in the field of population, family planning, and related health issues. POPLINE is maintained by the INFO Project at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health/Center for Communication Programs and is funded by the United States Agency for International Development. (USAID).

And the explanation is this:

Under a Reagan-era policy revived by President Bush in 2001, USAID denies funding to non-governmental organizations that perform abortions, or that "actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations."

We've come to expect this from the Fools in the Bush administration, but the behavior of the Popline folks was spineless and the Dean of the Hopkins School of Public Health apparently agreed:

The blocking of the keyword "is a decision that the dean does not support in any way," he added, and the administrators are unblocking the search for the term right now.

"I could not disagree more strongly with this decision, and I have directed that the Popline administrators restore 'abortion' as a search term immediately," said Michael J. Klag, the school's dean in a statement issued on Friday. "I will also launch an inquiry to determine why this change occurred. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is dedicated to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge and not its restriction." (Wired Blog update)

USAID then tried to repair the consequences with this "explanation":

Sandra Jordan, director of communications in USAID's office of population and reproductive health, could not identify the documents that prompted her office's complaint, but said the publications were one-sided in favor of abortion rights.

"We are part of the Bush administration, so we have to make sure that all parts of the story are told," says Jordan. "The administration's policy is definitely anti-abortion, and the administration does not see abortion as a part of family planning policy."

Jordan says that the Johns Hopkins database administrators blocked the word "abortion" on their own, and had misunderstood USAID's request.

"We're glad they're restoring the search function to the site -- the studies and statistical information are certainly important information to family planning," she adds. (Wired Blog update)

It wasn't April Fools, but I was half right.

More like this

The fuckwit behind the blocking should be exiled to the Middle East. He/she should get a taste of what it means to live in a hypocritical, holier-than-thou fucking theocracy.


how is this a Bush administration goof? Sounds like a Hopkins goof to me. My search doesn't work? it must be THAT DAMN BUSH! Sheesh.

By pauls lane (not verified) on 05 Apr 2008 #permalink

he Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Act was passed in the House as H.R. 1955 (and has been introduced in the Senate as S. 1959). It provides for:

* Creation of a ten-member national commission charged with examining the "facts and causes of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence in the United States" and reporting its findings and legislative recommendations to Congress within 18 months of its creation. The commission would have the power to conduct hearings and receive evidence, but the act does not authorize it to subpoena persons or records.
* Establishment of a Center of Excellence for the Study of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism in the United States, at a university designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security "following the merit-review processes" used for similar programs in the past. The Center's purpose is to "study the social, criminal, political, psychological, and economic roots of violent radicalism" and methods for addressing them that can be used by federal, state, local and tribal homeland security officials.
* A survey of approaches used by other nations to address the problem, to be conducted jointly by the Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, the Attorney General and "other Federal Government entities, as appropriate." The results are to be reported to Congress and used in developing a national policy on violent radicalization, "to the extent that methodologies are permissible under the Constitution."

What kind of merit review process will determine which university receives this honor of the establishment of a Center of Excellence? Will McCarthy like hearings be held at that university by the 10 member commission?
If you receive a subpeona to appear before that 10 member commission, perhaps at the same university, how would you feel? Will the commission that is investigating you destroy your life the way the McCarthy Hearings did in the 1950's, to those it investigated as being Communists?
Will you later be arrested under one of the anti-terrorism laws, and left to rot in a federal prison, without the right to counsel?
If you are a student at the university where this Center of Excellence is established, and you are a member of a left wing organization on campus, how will you feel? Will you worry you may be required to appear before the 10 member commission?
This law establihes thought crimes and criminalizes peaceful protest. It will soon be passed by the Senate and signed into law.
The establishment of this Center of Excellence at a university is similar to the removal of all references to abortion referred to in the post today.

Sorry, the Homegrown Terrorism Act does not allow you receive a subpeona to appear. But if you receive a letter from the government requesting you to appear, would you throw the letter in the trash, and forget it?

Sounds to me like someone is reading a bit much into this Revere. I have checked with the medial libraries of UT, Mercer, Duke, Bama, UMiss and found no restrictions. In fact, Mercer has so many pages on it that it directs you to another page to get all of the references past 100 hits. We are in the heart of the Bible Belt and we got access but not UCal at SF? This sounds a bit of a set up to me and very contrived on Wired's behalf. Time to dig deeper. The implications were that funding would be with held if someone didnt cut the references.

"Stephen Goldstein, a spokesman for Johns Hopkins, said he wasn't aware of the censorship, and couldn't immediately comment."

Might it be because set ups are just like that? Who has access to the meta-tag file list? Its obviously a new change and its not too well covered as to who did what, and when. The "We decided this was best for now" doesnt cut it. WHO are the WE?

So who the Hell made the change? It certainly wasnt the Bush administration. You are painting the Bush Administration with a broad brush and when you are right you are right. This one isnt one of them.

Here is a bit of info. I queried UT, UMiss, Mercer, Duke, UAB, Bama, and UNC's medical libraries and found hundreds of references and back links into J. Hopkins and others for abortion. Are we to believe that the ultra liberal and right across the street sort of from Berkley that UCal is the only one that had a problem? Sure you tried it. So did I but thru those other universities I got into J. Hopkins without any problem. But what the hell these Bible Belt schools didnt have any restrictions.

Turning it up a notch. Here is an interesting thought, was it blocked by the server going, or the server coming? Not specific enough. I pulled the story and it has journalistic holes in it. But thats good because if people read it they believe it. Its also good if you want to continue to smear rightly or wrongly the administration. There is no evidence of wrong doing or attempt at censorship by USAID unless you have something else.

Are you falling into a trap with the Bush bashing? Lets try to be a bit more objective about it and think along the lines of set up. Then everything falls into place.

Unless you have a letter directing that the word abortion be stricken then its more likely that. Funding is cut all the time by various universities so I always take their studies and papers with a grain of salt if its a touch button. Especially if its global warming rather than a natural cycle change. Like GW or GCC I only ask that you prove it.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 05 Apr 2008 #permalink

Kruger, what are you talking about? revere is talking about the Popline database. The administrators of which admit that the search term "abortion" was removed. They also admit it was because of the Bush Administration's global gag rule. USAID say it was a miscommunication, but I really don't get your argument.

JimL-Lets see here.... Here is the quote from the backup article that Wired ensured by writing the first would happen.

"Jordan says that the Johns Hopkins database administrators blocked the word "abortion" on their own, and had misunderstood USAID's request."

Notice it was the DBA's who blocked it. More hype to fuel the gripes. My argument is that the assertion by Revere is that the USAID by making a complaint (dont know why they did in the first place) was USGovt censorship. Thats wrong and attempt at biasing the readers. Not unlike what Wired did to get this noise up on the net.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 05 Apr 2008 #permalink

Randy: Since you are the main person who wants the rules to the the rules, you will see that some Randy at Hopkins took the rules literally -- just as you advise. Yes, I agree it was stupid to follow the Bush admin rules (NB pauls) and the Hopkins Dean thought it was stupid too. Dumb and dumber.

Perhaps the administrators of the database were afraid of political repercussions from keeping the term in the database. Perhaps the constant meddling in scientific research by the Bush administration made them afraid. If you can't see how the Bush administration's hostile attitude toward scientific research directly led to this inicident then you are blind.

NOW I'VE SEEN EVERYTHING! Johns Hopkins??? Oh please, let us survive until Jan 2009--and then try to repair some of the damage of the past 8 years.

AARRGGGHHH I'm blind! The only thing that Hopkins fears is losing the federal green - all you scientists can sympathize with that can't you? I will take the government spokesperson at her word, apparently they (the govt) wanted a fair and balanced database in regards to abortion and obviously felt they weren't getting it. Probably the database had entries like, 'pregnant? don't fret, just kill it'. Very family oriented, family friendly entries you know? Perhaps the govt took exception to this entry being listed under Family Planning, instead of say, for example Murder. Anyway, Hopkins fearing the loss of taxpayer dollars, jumped the gun and blocked 'abortion' from its db search engine. It was stupid on Hopkins part, I mean all they had to do was simply notify everyone that abortion has been deleted; however, Terminating Unwanted Pregancies is still a viable search option. If the Bush administration is as stupid as you people think, they would have never noticed and probably increased the dollars flowing into Hopkins in support of this noble effort in advising developing nations to kill their unborn children.

By pauls lane (not verified) on 05 Apr 2008 #permalink

I think my jaw bounced off the table when I read this story via Google News this morning. Appalling.

Incidentally, since one synonym for human (or other mammalian) miscarriage is "spontaneous abortion", this would make the database less useful for medical and veterinary researchers. But, hey, if this leads to just one more terrified 14-year-old girl leaving a baby in a toilet rather than getting information that would have prevented the pregnancy, it's worth hobbling the scientific and social utility of the database, right?

By Julie Stahlhut (not verified) on 05 Apr 2008 #permalink

I think my jaw bounced off the table when I read Julie S. comment. Appalling. Usually, and I mean always, when someone says abortion, and I don't mean a miscarriage here, they are not speaking to the young terrified 14 year old girl about pregnancy prevention. It might be a tad late for that. Also I am pretty darn sure, and I want you to correct me here if I am wrong, that any medical database, dictionary, or medical professional worth a damn, doesn't equate abortion with pregnancy prevention. And if they do, then it is worth hobbling the scientific and social utility of the database. Right!

By pauls lane (not verified) on 05 Apr 2008 #permalink

US AIDS preferred method of pupulation control is sterilization

Thats because it is not reversible, and abortions will not prevent additional pregnancies, and birth control is not very reliable in 3rd world nations since people do not always have access to them. By making abortions illegal, and not funding contraceptives, this creates a demand for sterilizations.

"The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said surgical sterilization was the Bush [Papa Bush] administrations first choice method of population reduction in the Third World. The UN Population Fund claimed that 37% of contraception users in Ibero-America and the Caribbean have already been surgically sterilized. In a 1991 report, William H. Draper IIIs agency asserted that 254 million couples would be surgically sterilized in the 1990s; and if trends continued, 80% of women in Puerto
Rico and Panama would be surgically sterilized. The U.S. government pays directly for these sterilizations.
Mexico was first among targeted nations, on a list drawn up in July 1991, at a USAID strategy session.
India and Brazil were second and third priorities, respectively."

Please help me here PFT, or any others, the following sentance bothers me and I need help in fully understanding
"The UN Population Fund claimed that 37% of contraception users in Ibero-America and the Caribbean have already been surgically sterilized." Don't these 37% of contraception users know they have been surgically sterilized? Was it done without their knowledge? Did they go to the dentist one day and leave there with suspicious looking stitches in their scrotum and not realize what happened and continued to buy condoms? Also, I realize for most of you people that the 8 years of the Bush administration seems like eons, but isn't 1991 longer than 8 years ago?
So does it stand to reason that the USAID prefered sterilization before Bush became president? Also, who was president for most of the 90's when all of these sterilizations supposedly took place? Clinton. So does that imply that the Clinton administration also prefered sterilization? Also, someone explain to me why sterilization is a bad thing as opposed to say abortion?

By pauls lane (not verified) on 05 Apr 2008 #permalink

I just went there, typed in "abortion" and got a whole bunch or results. What's up with you?

Ian, they reinstituted abortion as a search word. Do try and keep up.

But as per Administration(s) policie(s) they all flip this back and forth. During the impeachment of Clinton, there was a concerted effort over at the National Archives to hide selected items. When they couldnt, they simply had Sandy B. run over and snag them into his pants..

So a letter didnt go from the USAID to JH saying that you guys had better toe the line. Nope. They did it on their own and thats not rules Revere, thats an administration making itself heard. The people spoke in two elections, might not be the way that they wanted it but thats the run of it. You get your shot in November.... Then you can have them change all the databases ...scuse me databiases back to the left.

My issue with the above is pretty plain..... I dont throw paint on my neighbors house just because I am painting my house and dont like his particular color.

USAID made the administrations policy known. But, its federally funded and well when you do that you gotta show both sides of the story. Thats their problem with the documents in JH. Revere, you are attempting to throw that paint because of the actions of someone else other than the Bush Administration. All JH had to do was include the requisite information into the same file and everything would have been find. Some low level JH admininstrator made a decision either biased or not, stupid or with an agenda and then made sure the press got hold of it.

Nice little autoslammer every couple of days on Bush. Please do everyone, notice that this comes out about once per week. I havent ever heard anything good said about the administration and isnt and cant be all bad. Revere asserts its always incompetence, stupidity, and back channel skulduggery. Sure it is, welcome to the Presidency of the United States. They all have their agendas, some its just the power, some to make others rich.

Revere is going to crap a brick when he finds out Blackwaters contract just got renewed with no fundamental changes made..........

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 06 Apr 2008 #permalink

Oh, for the record I am against abortion.

BUT, if we are going to have it then its going to be safe and a womans decision rather than a bunch of men making the decision for them. I am not the one that has to crawl up onto the table. Therefore, I think the one who has to live for the rest of their lives by making a decision should have access to all the information on it. That includes JH and anyone trying to suppress the information on it will have me on their asses too. There are several options to prevent abortion and right now we need a lot more new little taxpayers.

As best I can tell USAID simply sent a letter. JH responded incorrectly.

While I am at it, I am also dead set against the government paying for them as well.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 06 Apr 2008 #permalink

Usually, and I mean always, when someone says abortion, and I don't mean a miscarriage here, they are not speaking to the young terrified 14 year old girl about pregnancy prevention.

Actually, I read up on abortion when I was in my mid-teens -- not from Right to Life brochures, but from articles written by medical professionals for laypeople. That knowledge was instrumental in my making very, very good decisions later -- which kept me from ever being in the situation where I had to think about abortion. (Who would want to go through a physically and emotionally unpleasant surgical procedure when it's better to prevent the situation from arising in the first place?)

And, for the record, I have always been pro-choice. Was then, still am.

By Julie Stahlhut (not verified) on 06 Apr 2008 #permalink

It is perversely strange, I think, that one can observe outrage by conservative individuals over an abortion but then observe little outcry over the fate of the mother. Perhaps many conservative pro-life men and women view fetuses as more important than an experienced grown life?

By C. Porter (not verified) on 06 Apr 2008 #permalink

It is also perversely strange, when the very same conservative individuals reel back in horror when anyone has the Gaul or the temerity to suggest that eduction about procreation and contraceptives should start in middle school years. The abortion rates would dramatically decrease with the correct use of contraceptives.

we just might Porter, we just might...

Victoria, don't you think parents should make the decision about when their child is ready to learn about procration and contraceptives, not some school administator, and not the government? Ask revere, the government tends to mess things up on a regular basis.

By pauls lane (not verified) on 07 Apr 2008 #permalink

Just my view on abortion:

I know, I am a man and I will never get respect from women for my view as I can't get pregnant, however, I am a father and I do like children.

I am pro-life, so let's get that out of the way.

I consider abortion to be murder, period. I will guilt trip any lady that wants an abortion.

Why do I feel this way? When those two "alive" cells (sperm and egg) meet they specifically become a new creation, a living creation. This creation at once is a life, a baby. It may not be recognizable at first, but the moment that the two cells combine, it becomes a baby, and there is no getting around that, because if you just wait nine months, that little creation will prove itself to you that what I am saying is true.

So to just destroy that life at anytime in it's development is to destroy a baby and that is murder. Now does a woman have that right to murder her own child? The courts say she can and many women believe it is perfectly alright to "abort" the pregnancy, (because they can't use the word murder or kill the baby and they don't even consider it as a baby). So abortion is a fact of modern life and many women and their men follow this practice and millions of babies die every year in the United States because they are an inconvienence or will ruin a life as someof them say.

What do I think of the grown lady that wants an abortion? I think they are very selfish. They only think of themselves and what an inconvience the pregnancy is, how it is messing up their life, how they hate the father, and a million other reasons not to be pregnant. I say you should have kept your legs closed. Now you want to show the world how callous you really are? Promiscuous and a callous and cold killer, what a catch you'll make for some lucky guy.

So ladies, I don't score many points with the pro-choice gals and I don't care, you're not my type. Too loose.

I really would like to keep these topics less politcal and away from stuff like this, however if the moderator brings this stuff up, I will comment.

By Bigdudeisme (not verified) on 08 Apr 2008 #permalink

Soylent Green is BABIES!!!

By Judah ben Taylor (not verified) on 09 Apr 2008 #permalink