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(*) DNA Discovery 2020 Classes in New Zealand to be Held Online as Virtual Meetings

Not only is this planned in-person classroom sessions being changed because of concerns about the CoronaVius pandemic, the change to “virtual classes” means that many more people will be able to attend from around the world. The following is an announcement from the DNA Discovery Team:

The virus may have stopped them hopping on a plane to New Zealand, but it won’t stop Blaine Bettinger & Angie Bush from sharing their knowledge.

Our Christchurch and Wellington DNA Discovery 2020 classrooms are now going virtual and you can attend them online from anywhere in the world.

For those that would like to attend virtually, click on the links below to book your ticket.

N.J. Lawmaker Wants to Make DNA Test Results Your Personal Property

A proposed law in New Jersey would make the results of a DNA test the sole property of the person tested, a bid to give consumers who use popular genetic testing services more control over their personal data and their privacy.

Assemblyman Roy Freiman, D-Somerset, said that people have a right to know where their personal genetic data is going, even if it is used for good causes.

“We don’t want to impede upon breakthroughs in medical technology and advances and cures,” Freiman said, “but there’s also a balance of: what about the individual?”

You can read more in an article by Joe Hernandez in the WHYY web site at: http://bit.ly/2xzyV1c.

Historic Migration Patterns Are Written in Americans’ DNA

Genetic, geographic, and demographic data from more than 30,000 Americans reveal more genetic diversity within ancestry groups than previously thought.

The following is a press release written by the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard:

Studies of DNA from ancient human fossils have helped scientists to trace human migration routes around the world thousands of years ago. But can modern DNA tell us anything about more recent movements, especially in an ancestrally diverse melting pot like the United States?

To find out, researchers from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) analyzed data provided by more than 32,000 Americans as part of the National Geographic Society’s Genographic Project. This project, launched in 2005, asked Americans to provide their DNA along with their geographic and demographic data, including birth records and family histories, to learn more about human migration.

DNA Testing Kits: What Are the Privacy Risks?

Call me paranoid but I do believe that some people who have their DNA tested are not aware of all the privacy issues. Quoting from an article by Victoria Mcintosh, a Certified Information Privacy Technologist, as published in the CompariTech web site at http://bit.ly/3csasuC:

“Since DNA is health information, many users may expect the data is protected by privacy legislation. HIPAA, for example, is the well-known health privacy legislation in the United States and in Canada health privacy laws exist in most provinces. If a doctor requests genetic testing, safeguards and limitations on use are enforced by law.

Texas Man Close to Exoneration after a DNA Computer Algorithm Leads to New Suspect

Many of us have read about the use of DNA to identify murderers and other violent criminals. However, DNA is equally good when used for the opposite purpose: to PROVE INNOCENCE.

For instance, Lydell Grant was in prison for murder. But an emerging form of DNA technology, which has also come under scrutiny, is helping to free him in an unprecedented case.

Nearly a decade into his life sentence for murder, Lydell Grant was escorted out of a Texas prison in November with his hands held high, free on bail, all thanks to DNA re-examined by a software program.

“The last nine years, man, I felt like an animal in a cage,” Grant, embracing his mother and brother, told the crush of reporters awaiting him in Houston. “Especially knowing that I didn’t do it.”

Cutbacks by Ancestry, 23andMe Signal a Shakeout for DNA Industry

From an article by Kristen V Brown in the Bloomberg magazine’s web site:

Anne Wojcicki, chief executive officer and co-founder of 23andMe Inc.

“Consumer DNA-testing firms are closing up shop and cutting jobs, as a lull in sales forces the industry to move beyond the genealogy tests that turned a handful of well-funded companies into household names.

“At least three companies have closed down or suspended their operations over the past year, while the two DNA-testing bellwethers, Ancestry.com LLC and 23andMe Inc., each cut approximately 100 jobs in recent weeks. Others have pulled tests from the market thanks to slow sales.”

The full article may be found at: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-02-25/the-rise-and-fall-of-home-dna-testing.

Geneanet Launches a New Service: Geneanet DNA

Another DNA testing service has launched online. According to Geneanet’s home page:

“With Geneanet DNA, let’s build the first European DNA database together

“Millions of you have already taken a genealogical DNA test. And more and more of you are asking to be able to upload their DNA data to Geneanet for finding new relatives.

DNA Test Results are Life-Changing for a Connecticut Man

If you have your DNA tested, please make sure you are prepared for surprising changes, even confusion and huge emotional upheavals.

For instance, Enfield, Connecticut resident Ryan Simpson bought a DNA test kit when it was on sale. He later said, “I was not expecting to find anything other am I really Irish? Or am I really German? Or something like that.” Instead, he found out that the man he thought was his father was not even related to him. Simpson started asking his parents some questions.

The full story is available in an article by Caitlin Burchill in the NBC Connecticut web site at: http://bit.ly/2OTN8f8.

Question: who are your TRUE relatives? Are you mentally prepared to find out?

This DNA Testing Firm Said it wanted to Bring Closure to Families of Murder Victims. Then It Blocked a Rival from Using Its Database to Solve Crimes.

An interesting story about competitive DNA firms may be found in an article by Peter Aldhous in the BuzzFeed News web site at: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/peteraldhous/family-tree-dna-parabon-fbi-foia.

A Court Tried To Force Ancestry.com To Open Up Its DNA Database To Police. The Company Said No.

From an article by Peter Aldhous in the BuzzFeed News web site:

“Ancestry.com, the largest DNA testing company in the world, was served a search warrant to give police access to its database of some 16 million DNA profiles, but the company did not comply.

“Ancestry received one request seeking access to Ancestry’s DNA database through a search warrant,” the company revealed in its 2019 transparency report released last week. “Ancestry challenged the warrant on jurisdictional grounds and did not provide any customer data in response.”

All Modern Humans Have Neanderthal DNA, New Research Finds

If someone calls you a Neanderthal, that might not be an insult! We all likely have a bit of Neanderthal in our DNA — including Africans who had been thought to have no genetic link to our extinct human relative, a new study finds.

You can read more in an article by Katie Hunt in the CNN web site at: https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/30/africa/africa-neanderthal-dna-scn/.

Now your challenge is to find the documentation that proves you have Neanderthals in your family tree!

Proposed Utah Legislature Bill Would Keep Law Enforcement from Probing DNA Data

Rep. Craig Hall, R-West Valley City (Utah), said he is filing a bill, which has yet to be publicly released, in the 2020 Utah Legislature that will prevent police from accessing at-home DNA tests to perform familial DNA searches.

Law enforcement has found that tapping into DNA data, which has sometimes been linked to genealogy, can lead to criminal convictions in unsolved crime cases, but the practice also has raised ethical and privacy concerns.

Companies such as Ancestry, which is based in Lehi, Utah, have already banned the practice. According to Ancestry.com’s law enforcement guide, they “do not allow law enforcement to use Ancestry’s services to investigate crimes.”

You can read more in an article by Decker Westenburg in The Daily Universe at: http://bit.ly/37rhFYY.

Test Your Cat’s DNA

Why should humans be the only ones to test their DNA in order to discover their family trees? Shouldn’t ALL family members be tested? After all, your cat is practically a family member also, right?

DNA testing for humans has been available for several years. Testing a dog’s DNA has been an option for a year or two. Now you can even have your cat’s DNA tested!

Disclaimer: I haven’t tried this myself, primarily because I don’t have a cat. The information in this article is presented “as is” and should not be interpreted as a recommendation from me or from anyone else.

If a DNA Test Proves That a “Daughter” Isn’t Yours, Can You Claim Back Child Support from the Biological Father?

DNA tests can easily bring “skeletons out of the closest.” Family secrets are frequently exposed by DNA tests. The results may create moral, ethical, and even legal, questions.

One example of such “exposure” has been published in the MarketWatch web site. To be sure, MarketWatch isn’t known as a genealogy web site, a DNA web site, or even as a web site that publishes frequent legal articles. It is primarily a financial web site with a focus on the ethics and etiquette of financial affairs. However, a recent “letter to the editor” ticked multiple family relationship boxes: genealogy, DNA, and legal issues.

An unnamed reader asked:

“I recently found out through a DNA test through 23andMe that my ‘daughter’ isn’t mine. I was forced to marry, thinking the baby was mine. My wife passed away in 1990. Can I claim back child support from the biological father?”

MarketWatch’s personal-finance editor, Quentin Fottrell, responded with what I consider to be a well thought-out reply. However, the issue of “surprise relationships” raises all sorts of questions in my mind. Exactly what are the duties and responsibilities of anyone who unexpectedly is informed that he is or is not the parent of a child. Does he become financially responsible for the child’s upbringing and education? In the recent case, is a man who thought he was responsible for the child’s upbringing and education now relieved of such obligations? Can he seek reimbursement from the biological father (who perhaps was unaware that he had a child?)

What would YOU do if you received such unexpected “news?”

Such questions should keep attorneys busy for many more years!

You can read the full article at: https://on.mktw.net/2PCy19w.

The National Genealogical Society Introduces Its Newest Online Course: Understanding and Using DNA Test Results

The following announcement was written by the (U.S.) National Genealogical Society:

FALLS CHURCH, VA, 10 DECEMBER 2019—The National Genealogical Society (NGS) unveiled the newest course in its Continuing Genealogical Studies series, Understanding and Using DNA Test Results. The course is designed to help the millions of individuals, who have taken a DNA test to learn more about their family tree, get the most out of their test results. Students learn at their own pace, in their own home, on any tablet or computer.

“Taking a DNA test is easy,” noted NGS Education Director, Angela McGhie, CG. “Understanding the results and knowing how to use the data to identify your ancestors is more challenging. We are pleased to be able to offer a new course that will teach family historians about patterns of genetic inheritance and how their DNA matches can lead to building a broader family tree.

Man Arrested for Murder Claims that Police Use of a Genealogical DNA Database to Identify His Relatives Amounts to an Unconstitutional Search and an Invasion of His Privacy

Somehow, I doubt if this is going to hold up in court.

Lawyers for a man accused of raping and killing a woman at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1993 are asking a judge to dismiss the charges. In motions filed Monday, lawyers for Steven Downs claim the investigation into the sexual assault and murder of 20-year-old Sophie Sergie was “botched” by police.

Findmypast DNA Available for Just $65 in Black Friday Sale

The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

  • Save over $20 on a Findmypast DNA Kit this Black Friday
  • Get the full Living DNA 3-in-1 experience by adding your deep ancestry upgrade and seeing your ancestor’s migration histories for just $10 (USUALLY $29.95) USD
  • Offer includes 14 days of free access to Findmypast’s entire archive of more than 11 billion records and historical newspapers

Findmypast DNA – the only test specifically designed to help make British & Irish family history discoveries – is currently available to buy for just at $65.00 USD + shipping in Findmypast’s Black Friday Sale.

The limited time offer will be available to all who purchase their kit via findmypast.com/ancestry-dna-testing/ before midnight (GMT) Monday 2 December.

Could Genealogists Help Solve a Kidnapping Mystery?

Here is an opportunity for genealogists with knowledge of DNA to help solve a kidnapping “cold case.”

According to Wikipedia;

“Sherri Papini claims she was abducted on November 2, 2016, while out jogging a mile from her home in Redding, California. Papini was 34 years old at the time. She was found three weeks later on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, having been freed by her putative captors at 4:30 that morning still wearing restraints, on the side of County Road 17 near Interstate 5 in Yolo County, about 150 miles (240 km) south of where she was kidnapped.

An FBI sketch of the kidnapping perpetrators

“The case garnered major media attention, with national law enforcement experts reporting doubts or otherwise baffled as to the unlikely details and inconsistencies of the reported abduction, while no arrests have been made and authorities report the investigation is ongoing.”

You can read more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kidnapping_of_Sherri_Papini as well as in dozens of other stories by starting at: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=%22Sherri+Papini%22+kidnapping&t=brave&ia=web.

Doctor at Center of Lawsuit involving DNA Agrees to Give Up Medical License

A Colorado doctor who is accused in a lawsuit of using his own sperm to artificially inseminate multiple women, has voluntarily given up his medical license.

On Friday, the Grand Junction, Colorado, doctor agreed to relinquish his medical license to the Colorado Medical Board after just renewing it in May. When earlier asked if he would give a DNA sample, the doctor replied, “No.” When asked why, he stated, “Because I don’t want to have any incriminating evidence against me.”

You can read more in an article in the KJCT8.COM web site at: https://www.kjct8.com/content/news/564374431.html.

Over the Next Several Months, AncestryDNA Customers May Receive Updated Ethnicity Estimates and That’s a Good Thing

The team of scientists at AncestryDNA have increased the company’s reference panel to more than double its previous size with DNA samples from more places around the world, resulting in the latest update to AncestryDNA ethnicity estimates. In short, with more detailed data to work with today, the company can now provide more accurate locations of your ancestors. This means there may be some changes to the results you received earlier.

The expanded AncestryDNA reference panel helps deliver even more precise regions in West Africa, northwestern Europe, the Americas, Oceania, and Southeast Asia.

Quoting from the announcement in the AncestryDNA Blog: