Brave New World

EU summit: UK and Czechs refuse to join fiscal compact

EU summit: UK and Czechs refuse to join fiscal compact

BBC – The Czech Republic and the UK refused to sign up. UK Prime Minister David Cameron said his government would act if the treaty threatened UK interests. He still has “legal concerns” about the use of EU institutions in enforcing the fiscal treaty, he said. The Czechs cited “constitutional reasons” for their refusal, France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy said. Read article

NC panel: Sterilization victims should get $50K

Associated Press – People sterilized against their will under a discredited North Carolina state program should each be paid $50,000, a task force voted Tuesday, marking the first time a state has moved to compensate victims of a once-common public health practice called eugenics. The panel recommended that the money go to verified, living victims, including those who are alive now but may die before the lawmakers approve any compensation. The Legislature must still approve any payments. Read Article

Daily News Archive In Focus – Brave New World (184 articles)

Open your eyes for there is a brave new world upon us! Aldous Huxley’s 5th novel prophetically anticipates developments in reproductive technology, drug use, education and psychoanalysis that combine to change society. Watch our brave new world come into focus before your very eyes by reading our news archive on the subject. CLICK HERE

EU bans patents of stem cells if embryo destroyed

AFP – Europe’s top court on Tuesday banned researchers from patenting any process to extract stem cells when it leads to the destruction of a human embryo. In a ruling that could affect medical research, the EU Court of Justice court said the use of human embryos “for therapeutic or diagnostic purposes which are applied to the human embryo and are useful to it is patentable.” Read Article

UK: Elderly patients condemned to early death by secret use of do not resuscitate orders

Telegraph – Elderly patients are being condemned to an early death by hospitals making secret use of “do not resuscitate” orders, an investigation has found. The orders – which record an advance decision that a patient’s life should not be saved if their heart stops – are routinely being applied without the knowledge of the patient or their relatives. Read Article

A Brave New World – Pill that can wipe away bad memories? Scientists unfold the secrets of how the brain handles stress

Daily Mail – Traumatic experiences could soon be no more than a distant memory thanks to a ground-breaking pill. Scientists have unlocked some of the secrets of how the brain deals with stress – paving the way for a drug that eases painful memories. Within a decade we could have a pill that would help those haunted by car crashes, as well as sufferers of crippling phobias. Read article

Pentagon to Use Genetic Code to Identify Perfect Soldier?

New American – A report issued by a defense science advisory panel suggests that the Pentagon may begin collecting DNA from military personnel to identify the genome sequence that defines a good soldier. Findings reported by JASON, an independent group of scientists which advises the U.S. government on matters of science and technology, recommends that the Pentagon take advantage of “the rapidly falling cost of gene sequencing by preparing to engage in the mass sequencing of the genomes” of the men and women of the armed forces. Read Article

8 Most Controversial CIA Programs

Discovery – Last week, a medical doctor named Shakil Afridi, who worked with the CIA in Pakistan, was arrested by the Inter-Services Intelligence agency. According to reports in The Guardian, Afridi cooperated with the CIA in creating a fake vaccination program in Abbottabad, the city in which Osama bin Laden took refuge, in order to gather DNA evidence from members of bin Laden’s family. Read article

South Africa: Babies barcoded for security

The Star – A South African public hospital plans to tag babies electronically as one of several security measures to beat baby-snatching. If it goes ahead, Tygerberg Hospital would become the first public health facility in the Western Cape to use the tag. The device is activated if a tagged baby is removed from a specific area. The infrastructure for the plan is expected to be completed next year. Read article

Court reverses US funding ban on embryonic stem cells

New Scientist – US government cash for research on human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) is safe for now, thanks to a ruling by judges sitting in the US Court of Appeals in Washington DC. Read article

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A new Clockwork Orange? The marketing gadget that tracks brainwaves as you watch TV

Mail Online – Would you feel comfortable if market researchers could know your every thought?  A headband designed by San Francisco firm EmSense can sense your brainwaves as you have reactions to watching something and then record the data for researchers.  The process of measuring your reaction to something is known as ‘quantitative neurometrics’ and it can be carried out as you watch a computer or television screen.  Read Article

UK: Parents ‘want child gene tests’

BBC – In the study, published in the journal Pediatrics, parents who were offered a genetic test supported their children also being tested.  The authors say doctors and politicians need to be more aware of the issue.  Genewatch UK said children should never be tested for adult conditions.  Genetic testing used to be confined to specialist clinics, but direct-to-consumer testing is now possible.  People send a sample to a company in the post and are told if they have any genes which carry an increased risk of illness.  Read Article

Racist? Angry? The answer may be in a pill

The Age (Melbourne) – A pill to enhance moral behaviour; a treatment for racist thoughts; a therapy to increase your empathy for people in other countries – these may sound like the stuff of science fiction but, with medicine moving closer to altering our moral state, society should be preparing for the consequences, according to a book reviewing scientific developments in the field. Drugs such as Prozac, which alters a patient’s mental state, already have an impact on moral behaviour but scientists predict that future medical advances may allow much more sophisticated manipulations.
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Test tube sperm grown in lab could cure male infertility

Daily Telegraph – Researchers removed stem cells and cultured sperm in the laboratory in a breakthrough that could lead to new treatments and drugs for men currently unable to have children. The development raises hopes that young boys undergoing chemotherapy for testicular cancer will still be able to father their own children when they grow up.
The sperm was produced in a test-tube from the cells taken from a newborn mouse testicles and then injected into eggs to produce to twelve healthy babies, four male and eight female, which were all fertile and able to reproduce themselves in adulthood. Read article

Canadian defence scientists probe ‘biometrics of intent’

Ottawa Citizen – Canadian defence researchers are investigating how brain signals might distinguish hostile intent from everyday emotions such as anger and fear. Though there is still much to learn, the goal is to push biometric science beyond identification techniques to a new frontier where covert security technology would secretly scan peoples’ minds to determine whether they harbour malicious intent. “This ability can be used by members of the military and the security forces to isolate adversaries prior to commission of actions,” according to a research paper posted on the federal government’s Defence Research and Development Canada website last week. The concept resembles Steven Spielberg’s 2002 sci-fi thriller Minority Report, in which police in 2054 apprehend criminals based on a foreknowledge of crimes yet to be committed. If successful in the real world, the “biometrics of intent” could, for example, help determine whether the anxious-looking man at the airport is just stressed-out or actually dangerous. Or if someone is just having a bad day at the office or really does intend to kill the boss. Read Article

Child brain scans to pick out future criminals

Telegraph – More researchers believe that violent tendencies have a biological basis and that tests and brain imaging can pick them up in children. They argue that, by predicting which children have the potential to be trouble, treatments could be introduced to keep them on the straight and narrow. If the tests are accurate enough then a form of screening could be introduced in the same way we test for some diseases. The theories were put forward by two leading criminologists at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington. Prof Adrian Raine, a British criminologist, argued that abnormal physical brain make-up could be a cause of criminality, as well as helping to predict it. Read Article

Only breed smart babies: Ethicist

Herald Sun – A leading Australian ethicist has advocated genetically screening embryos to create a smarter society of superior “designer babies” with higher IQs.  Melbourne’s Julian Salvulescu, now Oxford’s practical ethics professor, has said it is our “moral obligation” to use IVF to choose the smartest embryos, even if that maintains or increases social inequality.  Experts have criticised the Gattaca-style idea, saying the money involved could be better spent improving quality of life in Africa.  They have also warned IQ screening could result in unintended results.  But Dr Salvulescu has said we have a moral obligation to create a smarter society, thereby dramatically reducing welfare dependency, the number of school dropouts, the crowding of jails and the extent of poverty.  Read Article

Scientists identify how to spot a future criminal at the age of three

Daily Mail – It’s worrying news for any parent who’s struggled with a headstrong young child. But scientists claim that children who have low levels of self-control at three are more likely to have health and money problems and a criminal record by the age of 32, regardless of background and IQ. Researchers from Britain, the U.S. and New Zealand analysed data from two large studies in which children completed a range of physical tests and interviews to assess genetic and environmental factors that can shape their lives. They found that children with low self-control were more likely to have health problems in later life including high blood pressure, being overweight, breathing problems and sexually transmitted infections. Read Article

Russia’s Security Service Could Gain Powers Formerly Associated With Soviet KGB

VOA News – Russia’s parliament is considering a new law that would extend the powers of the country’s secret security agency, the FSB. If the bill is passed, it would restore practices once associated with the infamous KGB. Russia’s security services have steadily regained power and influence under Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, himself a former KGB officer. Human rights advocates are concerned that the new measures could further curtail the rights of government critics and the independent media. Read article

Morphing cars and planes closer as Pentagon develops shape-shifting robot

Telegraph – Pentagon research scientists have taken a first step towards “Transformers”-style shape-shifting cars and aircraft, with a robot that can fold itself like origami into different forms. At the moment the tiny robot – a sheet just half a millimetre thick, scarcely thicker than a piece of paper – only folds itself into a boat, like a child’s toy, or a “paper glider” plane shape. But it is anticipated that in future it will be used to create full-sized cars and aircraft that morph as they move, or robots that can “flow” like mercury into small openings, or multipurpose military uniforms that can adapt to different environments. Read article

Iran bars two U.N. inspectors in nuclear dispute

Reuters – Iran has barred two U.N. nuclear inspectors from entering the Islamic Republic, increasing tension less than two weeks after Tehran was hit by new U.N. sanctions over its disputed atomic program. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) rejected Iran’s reasons for the ban and said it fully supported the inspectors, which Tehran has accused of reporting wrongly that some nuclear equipment was missing. Read article

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange breaks cover but will avoid America

Guardian – The elusive founder of WikiLeaks, who is at the centre of a potential US national security sensation, has surfaced from almost a month in hiding to tell the Guardian he does not fear for his safety but is on permanent alert. Julian Assange, a renowned Australian hacker who founded the electronic whistleblowers’ platform WikiLeaks, vanished when a young US intelligence analyst in Baghdad was arrested. Read article

Firm once known as Blackwater gets Afghan contract

Associated Press – Part of the company once known as Blackwater Worldwide has been awarded a more than $120 million contract to protect new U.S. consulates in the Afghan cities of Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif, the U.S. Embassy said Saturday. The United States Training Center, a business unit of the former Blackwater, now called Xe Services, was awarded the contract Friday, embassy spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said. Read article

Steve Connor: We need a global debate on population

The Independent – A growing number of scientists are going where politicians fear to tread by calling for a wider public debate on the sensitive issue of the global human population, which is set to rise from the present 6.8 billion to perhaps 9 billion by 2050. Lord Rees, the president of the Royal Society, brought the subject up in his excellent Reith Lectures; Sir David Attenborough has become a champion of those who believe population has been relegated as an environmental issue; and more recently Professor Aubrey Manning, presenter of the BBC’s Earth Story, has stated that the sheer number of humans on the planet is the greatest menace the world faces. Read article