BFP Volume 4

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Columnists:

B-Moe

Jim Reed


Classic BFP

Human Embryo Cloned

It finally happened. After Dolly the sheep it seemed inevitable. Scientists in South Korea have successfully cloned a human embryo and extracted stem cells. The Raelians claim to have cloned as many as 15 children who are supposedly out there somewhere leading anonymous life. They also have plans to clone a wooly mammoth. No one believes the Raelians and this is in no small part due to their rather “cosmic” attire. The Raelians don’t shy away from their dream to make humans immortal through cloning. They even sell do-it-yourself kits on their Website (www.clonaid.com), $9,000 for the professional and a smaller $6,000 for your Sunday cloner. Ethical debates aside, human cloning is here to stay. A California company, Genetic Savings and Clone (savingsandclone.com) will make you an exact duplicate of your dead pet while the Godsend Institute (godsendinstitute.org) will recreate a lost child. The magic going on in fertility clinics today with in vitro fertilization and the like is basically the same kind of science.

While most Western nations (with the notable exceptions of Germany and England) are shying away from human cloning, China is moving right ahead. Chinese researchers cloned their first fish in 1963 and in 1973 they inserted the DNA of an Asian carp into the egg of a European carp and created the first interspecies clone. Since then the techniques have gotten more refined and when it looked like some Americans were on the brink of churning out an army of Boba Fetts, Republican president Ronald Reagan placed restrictions on human cloning. When Bill Clinton got elected one of the first things he did was lift the ban on public funding for human embryo and fetal research. When Dolly arrived on the scene the debate heated to a boiling point and the Clinton administration issued a ban on federal funding of human cloning within the United States. Canada, Brazil and Israel are the most resent countries to take official stances against further research.

With the possible exception of a few mad scientists and the Godsend Institute no one seems to be very interested in cloning entire humans and raising them to adulthood. The Chinese certainly don’t need any more mouths to feed. I guess the idea is that you can breed a better class of people and make exact duplicates of yourself. But does anybody really want an exact double hanging around? We certainly don’t need to breed better people; that will just make the restof us feel even worse about ourselves. The true pot of gold at the end of the cloning rainbow is growing body parts. Skin, bone marrow, a liver would be nice. Replacing decaying cells with healthy new stem cells can potentially cure any number of diseases.



The arguments against human cloning tend to be metaphysical. The right-to-lifers believe that embryos are babies and harvesting their stem cells in tantamount to murder. Of course abortion is legal in America and the idea of “killing” an embryo that’s only a few minutes old isn’t very troubling to most Americans. Other arguments against cloning involve indefinable terms like “human dignity”. Some critics of cloning worry that the clones will be unloved or shunned. Just the opposite. It’s hard to make a clone while it’s easy to make a baby the old fashion way. It’s the accidents that need to worry. Theoretically we would alter the DNA of the clones to be super smart and super healthy. We could even program in a little extra self-esteem.

If you want to see the future of man, look to the East. The Bush administration has been openly hostile to the science community. They’ve tirelessly looked for anti-global warming research to support their big business agenda. They seem to filter out any evidence that disagrees with their presuppositions. Recently Bush fired two pro-embryonic research members of the President’s Council on Bioethics and replaced them with three who are anti-research.

by Stephen Smith


War Coverage Biased
CONTROLLED MEDIA: UNFAIR AND OFF-BALANCE

“Independent, aggressive and critical media are essential to an informed democracy. But mainstream media are increasingly cozy with the economic and political powers they should be watch dogging. Mergers in the news industry have accelerated, further limiting the spectrum of viewpoints that have access to mass media. With U.S. media outlets overwhelmingly owned by for-profit conglomerates and supported by corporate advertisers, independent journalism is compromised.”

A few international corporations monopolize the media you watch, read and hear. Even more consolidation is planned. The five largest media companies:

  1. AOL Time-Warner with $31.8 billion in revenues. Owns 29 TV channels including CNN, HBO, Cinemax, Comedy Central, Court TV, E, TBS, Cartoon Network, Turner Classic Movies; 24 book brands including Little, Brown and Company and Book of the Month Club; 64 magazines including Time, Fortune, Life, & People with 120 million readers; Internet companies AOL, Compuserve and Netscape; 2nd largest cable TV provider with 12.8 million customers; and many production companies.
  2. Disney $25.4 billion. ABC, Disney Channel, Soap, A&E, History, Biography, Lifetime, ESPN, and 10 other TV channels; 5 magazine publishing groups and 4 newspapers; 10 television stations and 50 radio stations; Touchstone, Miramax Films, Buena Vista, Walt Disney and 4 other motion picture companies; 18 online ventures including Infoseek; 6 music labels, sports teams and 720 Disney Stores.
  3. Bertelsmann $16.5 billion: 22 TV stations and 18 radio stations in 10 countries; world’s biggest publisher with Random House, Dell, Knopf, Vintage, Bantam, Doubleday; Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG) operates in 54 countries with its US labels owning 200 other labels worldwide. This company was a major printer of Nazi material during the “Third Reich”.
  4. VIACOM $20 billion: CBS, UPN, MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, TV Land, TNN, CMT, BET, The Movie Channel and others; 39 TV stations; 184 US radio stations; Simon and Schuster, Pocket Books, Scribner and others; Paramount pictures, Blockbuster, Infinity Outdoor (largest advertising co. in the world).
  5. News Corporation $13.5 billion, Owner, Rupert Murdoch: Fox News, FX, National Geographic channel, Fox network, Speedvision, Outdoor Life, Health Network, TV Guide channel; 26 TV stations; 20th Century Fox and other production companies; HarperCollins and Zondervan book publishers; NY Post and other newspapers in the UK, Australia and New Zealand; “Our reach is unmatched around the world. We’re reaching people from the moment they wake up until they fall asleep.” Rupert Murdoch

Other alarming media saturations include Clear Channel reaching 1/6th of the world’s population in 248 of the top 250 radio markets. The Unification Church with Rev. Sun Myung Moon owns the Washington Times, United Press International, Tiempos del Mundo (Spanish language paper printed in 16 countries), the Middle East Times, the Segye Ilbo in Seoul and Sekai Nippo in Tokyo as well as Insight, World & I, & Washington Golf magazines. A conflict of interest exists with General Electric that owns NBC as well as General Dynamics, a hugh supplier of war materiel.

WHAT CAN YOU DO? Stay informed by alternative media and register complaints with the corporate media when issues are not reported fully or not at all. Urge your Senators and Representatives to promote a diverse, balanced and competitive media.

Expand your view with Independent News sources such as:
Internet sites:
tvnewslies.org;
www.indymedia.org;
www.commondreams.org;
www.alternet.org;
www.tompaine.com;
www.salon.com;
www.michaelmoore.com;
www.truthout.org;
english.aljazeera.net/HomePage
blackcommentator.com;
projectcensored.com;
www.nlg.org;
www.juancole.com;
www.counterpunch.org;
Magazines:
The Nation, Mother Jones, Utne Reader.
Email lists:
moveon-help@list.moveon.org,
atlantaiac@aol.com, actforchange@act.actforchange.com,
and our own local list PeaceTalkBham@yahoogroups.com.

Radio on the Internet such as
www.fair.org/counterspin/index.html,
www.democracynow.org,
www.pacifica.org

Birmingham Peace Project, www.geocities.com/bhampeace