Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
As the new European Union executive prepares to debate fresh policy proposals which might unblock the stalemate over approving genetically modified crops for feed, processing or cultivation, there are few signs that Europe’s fears over what some have termed “Frankenstein foods” are easing.
On Friday Bulgaria’s ruling GERB party proposed a five-year moratorium on the production of genetically modified (GM) crops for scientific and commercial reasons following public outcry over a new legislation.
Bulgaria follows in the footsteps of Austria, Germany, Hungary and France, all of whom have banned the commercial cultivation of the only GM crop (Monsanto’s MON 810 maize type) allowed to be grown in the European Union.
Why, despite all the assurances from the scientific community and food safety authorities, do so many remain so adverse to GMOs?
When I have time to lavish on reading something other than news, I want to spend it on stories that leave me saying, “Wow!” A great read should tell readers something they don’t already know, enlighten them about the world and its people, inform them about the human condition. Readers should be moved to laughter, tears, anger, action through superb writing and extraordinary reporting. Here are my picks for the best reads of 2009.
A packet of cigarettes is enough to cause a fight among the Spaniards and immigrants shivering in the dark outside an emergency homeless shelter in Madrid, set up for a bitter winter and depression-era unemployment. Police push past jobless Romanian and Hungarian construction workers. ”One day this place is going to explode,” says unemployed waiter Miguel Roa, a Spaniard.
from Maggie Fox:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than 25 years into the AIDS pandemic, scientists finally have a vaccine that protects some people -- but instead of celebrating, they are going back to the drawing board.
The vaccine, a combination of two older vaccines, only lowered the infection rate by about a third after three years among 16,000 ordinary Thai volunteers. Vaccines need to be at least 50 percent effective, and usually 70 to 80 percent effective, to be useful.
from UK News:
A mouse that can speak? A monkey with Down's Syndrome? Dogs with human hands or feet? British scientists want to know if such experiments are acceptable, or if they go too far in the name of medical research.
The Academy of Medical Sciences has launched a study to look at the use of animals containing human material in scientific research.
Until not too long ago, most people believed human morality was based on scripture, culture or reason. Some stressed only one of those sources, others mixed all three. None would have thought to include biology. With the progress of neuroscientific research in recent years, though, a growing number of psychologists, biologists and philosophers have begun to see the brain as the base of our moral views. Noble ideas such as compassion, altruism, empathy and trust, they say, are really evolutionary adaptations that are now fixed in our brains. Our moral rules are actually instinctive responses that we express in rational terms when we have to justify them. (Photo: Religious activist at a California protest, 10 June 2005/Gene Blevins)
Thanks to a flurry of popular articles, scientists have joined the ranks of those seen to be qualified to speak about morality, according to anthropologist Mark Robinson, a Princeton Ph.D student who discussed this trend at the University of Pennsylvania's Neuroscience Boot Camp. "In our current scientific society, where do people go to for the truth about human reality?" he asked. "It used to be you might read a philosophy paper or consult a theologian. But now there seems to be a common public sense that the authority over what morality is can be found by neuroscientists or scientists."
Knowing what not to report is just as important for journalists as knowing what to write. We're inundated with handouts about some pioneering new scientific research or insightful new book. Should we write about it? It's refreshing to hear experts who can dazzle you with their work but warn against falling for any hype about it. This "let's not overdo it" approach has been a recurrent theme in the Neuroscience Boot Camp I'm attending at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. (Photo: The "official" boot camp T-shirt, 8 Aug 2009/Tom Heneghan)
Andrew Newberg's "no God spot" message to boot campers has already been noted here on FaithWorld. Other lecturers added similar reality checks to their presentations. Cognitive science has already begun to influence religion studies (as John Teehan explained here) and we're bound to hear more in the future about what neuroscientific research has to say about faith, morals, altruism and other issues of interest to readers of this blog. Much of this will be fascinating. But before the next "gee-whiz" report comes out, here's the advice the neuroscientists are giving us about speculative claims based on brain research.
NASA officials admit that Hollywood really is behind the video images of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepping onto the surface of the moon 40 years ago this month. Well, the new video, that is. The new, and improved, digitally-enhanced-so-that-you-can-actually-see-something video. The old video — well, they lost that. Erased it to save money. But it’s OK because the new images are way better.
There is also some cool audio: