Thursday, April 23, 2009

Show From: Mar. 27, 2009

Obama Lifts Bush’s Strict Limits on Stem Cell Research:

Pledging that his administration will “make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology,” President Obama on Monday lifted the Bush administration’s strict limits on human embryonic stem cell research.
At a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, before an audience that included lawmakers, scientists and patients, several of them in wheelchairs, Mr. Obama announced that he was issuing an executive order intended to advance the research. He said he hoped Congress would follow with bipartisan legislation that would ease the existing restrictions even more.
The president acknowledged that studying stem cells extracted from human embryos, which are destroyed in the process, is deeply divisive.
“Many thoughtful and decent people are conflicted about, or strongly oppose, this research,” the president said. “I understand their concerns, and we must respect their point of view.”
But Mr. Obama went on to say that the majority of Americans “have come to a consensus that we should pursue this research; that the potential it offers is great, and with proper guidelines and strict oversight the perils can be avoided.”
In making his announcement, Mr. Obama drew a strict line against human cloning, an issue that over the years has become entangled with the debate over human embryonic stem cell research.
He said that he would ensure that his administration “never opens the door” to cloning for human reproduction, adding, “It is dangerous, profoundly wrong and has no place in our society or any society.”
Mr. Obama paired his executive order with another document, a presidential memorandum directing the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to “develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision-making.”


Science standards challenging evolution debated in Texas:

The Texas Board of Education this week will vote on science standards that critics say seek to cast doubt on the theory of evolution.

The board -- considering amendments passed in January -- will hear from the public on Wednesday. It will then take votes -- an initial one Thursday and the final vote Friday.
"This specific attack on well-established science ignores mountains of evidence and years of research done by experts in a variety of fields," said Steven Newton, project director at the Oakland California-based National Center for Science Education, a proponent of evolution.
One amendment, critics say, undermines the idea that life on Earth derives from a common ancestry, a major principle in the theory of evolution. It calls for the analysis and evaluation of "the sufficiency or insufficiency" of the common ancestry idea to explain the fossil record.
Newton said the board is considering other amendments casting doubt on well-established ideas in the earth and space sciences -- plate tectonics, radioactive decay and how the solar system developed.
School board chairman Don McLeroy has wanted to tackle questions that highlight supposed weaknesses in the theory.
For example, skeptics of evolution point to what they contend are fossil record gaps casting doubt on the scientific evidence of common ancestry.
"I'm a skeptic. I'm an evolution skeptic. I don't think it's true," he said. "You need to present other ideas to the kids."
The issue reflects the strong feelings among representatives on the 15-member board, some of whom accept evolutionary theory and some of whom don't. The size of the textbook market in Texas gives it influence nationwide, as publishers adapt their material to its standards.
The board in January voted to remove language that called on science teachers to focus on the "strengths and weaknesses" in all scientific theories.
It was replaced by language urging students to use "empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing" to "analyze and evaluate scientific explanations."
More amendments are expected to be brought up in the three-day hearing.


Pope Tells Clergy in Angola to Work Against Belief in Witchcraft:

Pope Benedict XVI, nearing the end of his first pilgrimage to Africa, on Saturday told priests and nuns of their duty to divert their fellow Angolans from malign beliefs in witchcraft and sorcery.
“Who can go to them to proclaim that Christ has triumphed over death and all those occult powers?” he asked guests at an invitation-only Mass in the blue-domed splendor of St. Paul’s Church in the capital.
Morning light flooded through stained-glass windows — a depiction of Christ on the cross in the center — as the 81-year-old, German-born pontiff spoke of Angolans so fearful of evil spirits that they wrongly condemn innocent children and the elderly for being possessed by demons.
It was a somber moment at the end of Benedict’s homily, words of challenge to the devout white-frocked worshipers crowded into the pews.

No comments: