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Stem-Cell Advocates Try to Shield Ethical Concerns

first_imgWould an embryonic stem cell by another name cease being human?  Several recent articles on embryonic stem cells are going beyond just touting the potential cures from the controversial research, which involves creating and destroying a human embryo.  Some are blurring the line between embryonic and adult stem cells (cf. 12/02/2006) and attempting to avoid ethically-charged language.  Here are some ways that reporters are trying to make ES cells more palatable to the public:ES joins the army:  An article on Science Daily claims that embryonic stem cells are being recruited in the war on terror.  A University of Georgia research claims that neural cells induced to multiply from stem cells can detect toxins in the environment, like on a battlefield.  The article fails to mention, however, why embryonic stem cells are needed, and whether adult stem cells could do the job just as well (cf. 07/19/2007).  It also begins with this misleading clause that suggests that embryonic stem cells have already produced cures: “For more than a decade, Steve Stice has dedicated his research using embryonic stem cells to improving the lives of people with degenerative diseases and debilitating injuries.”  The record shows, however, that only adult stem cells have produced therapies that can improve the lives of people, while embryonic stem cells arouse fears of a new era of eugenics (12/16/2006, 11/29/2006 08/13/2006).Get over it:  The Editorial in Nature 9/27 urged Germans to get over their ethical qualms about embryonic stem cells and get with the international stem cell gold rush (cf. 12/16/2005).  Some German ethicists have pointed to the success of adult stem cells to show that embryonic stem cells are unnecessary.  In urging a change, Nature used only bandwagon arguments (cf. 07/31/2006): “The majority of scientists agree that work on both adult and embryonic sources of stem cells should run in parallel until much more is understood about their biology,” the editorial said.  “But Germany is out of step with most European countries in permitting research only on human embryonic stem-cell lines that were created before January 2002, when regulations were first laid down.”  The article admitted that the creation of new ES cell lines “involves destroying human embryos,” but urged scientists to step up their campaigns against the opponents of the controversial research – many of whom are still smarting from the bad reputation Germany inherited from human medical research atrocities of the Nazis (04/07/2005, 02/28/2006, 12/16/2006).Kahuna:  In the same issue, Nature published an interview with Alan Trounson, newly appointed head of California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) – the $3 billion stem-cell center approved by California voters.  The differences in success between adult and embryonic cells were blurred in his statement, “Mesenchymal [multipotent] stem cells are already in clinical trials.  Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are coming of age….”  His ending statement was even more telling: “Adult stem cells are happening.  Embryonic stem cells will come into use, and they won’t be immediate cures for everything.  You need drugs and protocols as well as the cells, and you’ve got to work with the immune system.”  Yet California voters had been swayed by tear-jerking stories of invalids who would be cured by embryonic stem cells.  The problems from subjects’ immune systems rejecting embryonic stem cells have so far rendered them medically useless.  On top of that, Trounson made it clear that no cures are forthcoming any time soon (cf. 10/13/2006).Loaded words:  Because the words “embryonic” and “cloning” are touchy with the public, the US Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry is changing its name to the Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Registry.  Monya Baker reported in Nature 9/27 that this was intended to downplay ethically-charged words.  Baker quoted a professor of rhetoric who called this “linguistic deflation of public anxiety.”  The center was reacting to an executive order from President Bush that stem cell lines be expanded “in ethically responsible ways.” The same issue of Nature pointed to a promising avenue of research that might solve the ethical problems.  “For practical and ethical reasons, researchers are on the lookout for ways to reprogramme one mature cell type into another,” said Huafeng Xie and Stuart H. Orkin in News and Views.  “In one case, this might be as easy as switching off a single gene.”  They highlighted research that showed it may be possible to turn one kind of cell into another kind through a process of “cellular reprogramming.”  They pointed to a paper in the same issue by Cobaleda et al who found that “mature B cells can be converted to functional T cells, and reprogramming is achieved by B cells taking a step backwards to assume a more immature state.”  If so, it might become possible to take adult cells from a person and convert them back into an embryonic state – no ethical qualms involved.  “Such insights will, in turn, make the alteration of cell fates using modulation of gene expression and the generation of a specific cell population possible, which is a primary goal of regenerative medicine.”  See also the 06/06/2007 and 08/25/2006 entries.As we have shown repeatedly before, ES stem-cell advocates are pushing their agenda past the ethical gatekeepers on selfish, pragmatic grounds, yet have no results to show for it.  The appeals are always for Nobel Prizes and staying ahead in the international sweepstakes.  Whenever an ethicist calls them on the questionable reasoning of taking one life to help another (07/11/2005), they hum and guffaw and dodge the issue.  Now they are trying to blur the language with euphemisms to pull the wool over our eyes.  Don’t let them get away with it (07/19/2007).(Visited 13 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

India downgraded

first_imgJet Airways76 AirlineOld Safety Rating New Safety rating Air India 76 Air India Express43 AirAsia India54 The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has downgraded India’s aviation safety ranking according to the Reuters News agency.This means that Indian airlines cannot increase flights to the US and face additional checks for existing flights.The FAA has downgraded India to Category 2 from Category 1. Jet Airways and Air India operate flights from India to the US. AirlineRatings.com has downgraded all Indian airlines by one star.The FAA conducts the International Aviation Safety Assessment Program (IASA), assessing the civil aviation authority of any country whose airlines operating to the US.India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) warned early in January that the country could be downgraded.The FAA completed an audit of the DGCA’s oversight of Indian airlines in September and found 33 deficiencies.However by December the DGCA had only implemented and closed 26 of the recommendations.One of the main concerns from the audit was the lack of flight operations inspectors. The FAA expressed considerable concern surrounding this issue. SpiceJet54 GoAir76 IndiGo54 Jet Konnect76 Air India Regional54last_img read more

Driven by imagination

first_imgRichard Forbes with his artwork on the Mégane Coupé 1.6 Expression. Neo Dhlamini’s Mégane Hatch GT Line. Ana Damas with her version of Greek myth interpreted onto the Mégane Hatch Dynamique dCi Energy. Rhett Martyn with the Renault Mégane RS Trophy 265.(Images: SAcarfan)Cadine Pillay                      Johannesburg car enthusiasts were recently treated to an art exhibit where Renault South Africa showcased just what happens when art meets technological design. Four local artists were given a week to use four cars from two models of the company’s Mégane range as canvases to express their art.The works, featuring two coupes and two hatchbacks, were showcased on 23 July to mark the launch of the 2012 Mégane collection.Neo Dhlamini, Richard Forbes, Ana Damas and Rhett Martyn, all based in Johannesburg, were given a week to transform their cars.Danielle Melville, head of communications for Renault, spoke of her company’s excitement regarding the project.“These artists stretch themselves into the art of the possible, exceptional, innovative and progressive,” she said reflecting on the art works.Of spider webs and quarriesThe inspiration for Forbes came from giant funnel spider webs, and he was drawn to the role of the Mégane Coupe Expression and how it could express both art and mobility.A visual artist, he also teaches art at Pretoria University and boasts seven solo exhibitions to his name, both in the UK and locally, and another 20 group exhibitions.“While travelling around South Africa I observed the sharp, rectangular, man-made and imposed quarries carved into the hillsides,” explained Forbes.“It came to me that the scars of the quarries would be a perfect site for a series of art installations depicting giant funnel spider webs.”These webs, he added, could become a site people would view and visit as they travelled, effectively allowing art to link the country.Earning your stripesFor 23-year-old graphic designer Dhlamini, the hatchback GT Line model provided the perfect canvas for his racing-inspired artwork. He lists among his interests Japanese anime, motion graphics, illustration and animation.“My design is inspired by the stripes found on legendary racing and sports cars,” Dlamini explained.He added that the main feature of his art is two lines that run from the front of the bonnet and go on to split into six lines, extending to the top and sides of the vehicle. The lines spell out the words ‘smart’, ‘intuitive’, ‘high tech’ and ‘easy’.“The fine line work around the lights at the front and back draw attention to the car’s new exterior features. The symmetry between the left and right is a representation of how the Mégane presents a balance between an everyday car and a beast of speed when you really push it.”Inspired by the universeDamas is arguably the veteran of the group, with a career spanning over two decades in a variety of disciplines. Her formal training includes stints at the Foundation Art School and the Michaelis School of Art in Cape Town, as well as at the Pretoria Technikon, where she majored in sculpture and print making.She was commissioned to work on the Hatch Dynamique dCi Energy TD, which is Renault’s answer to demands of environment-friendly designs.“My concept is based on the myth of the goddess Sophia, which views the earth as a living entity or organism and points to her as the creator of the world,” Damas pointed out.“For her survival, Sophia needs the cooperation of all mankind and all efforts to keep the planet clean, green and energy efficient. “The myth also describes the origin of the solar system, the earth and the human species. Sophia’s story translates into artwork through the use of organic lines, presenting the vehicle incorporated into the cosmos.“Starting from the bonnet, I visualised a spiral galaxy with Mother Earth emerging from the core. The spiral arms of the galaxy spread along the sides of the car like branches of a tree,” Damas said. Going for rough and dirtyFormer student of the Durban University of Technology and Wits University, Martyn is now an artist and arts lecturer. He has exhibited prolifically at galleries locally and abroad, and holds an academic advisory and coordination position at the InScape Design College.His car was the Mégane RS Trophy, Renault’s performance flagship.Martyn believes there is only the slightest difference between what could be defined as a drawing, and what might be seen as random processes of ‘mark making’ created as the by-product of any natural or mechanical action.“Take for instance the way in which a car travelling at high speed might create markings along a road as the tyres deposit a layer of rubber on the asphalt, if that vehicle had to suddenly come to a screeching halt.”Are the subsequent road markings art, or are they merely the by-product of the functioning of the car stopping? he asked.The mark making, he added, created by the upheaval of mud and dust onto the body work by the wheels of a car, could be looked at in the same way.“As I began to conceptualise a design approach for my car, I took into consideration how the car itself could become the facilitator of its own drawing process.”Martyn described his design as dirty, often aggressive, disparate and rough. Despite this, he explained, it still reflects the grace of art by echoing the faceted shards prevailing in Parisian cubism – with a contemporary neon edge, of course.last_img read more