Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings
Y'all probably know all about SETI@Home - just in case you don't, check out:
SETI@Home allows users to band together into teams to pool "credits" for processing data. I just created a "North Texas Skeptics" team which, if you run SETI@Home on your machine, you can join.
The SETI@Home site is experiencing some troubles now, and I've had trouble accessing the team from the "Teams" page. If you can't see North Texas Skeptics, or find them with the search functions, then go to the User Account area and enter in "firstname.lastname@example.org" under "Look-up Your Personal Stats" ... this will take you to my meager stats with a link to the North Texas Skeptics team page.
The brain-gain revolution is already under way. But will these "neural enhancement" drugs turn us into Einsteins or Frankensteins?
By Gregory M. Lamb | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
In the 1956 sci-fi adventure "Forbidden Planet," an American astronaut receives a "brain boost" from an alien machine that temporarily gives him enhanced mental powers. Before he dies from the effects of the boost, he helps unravel the mystery of how the civilization became extinct: It couldn't control its own immense mental powers.
More recently, the characters in "The Matrix" film series are shown "downloading" knowledge into their brains nearly instantaneously. In "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" the lead character has the uncomfortable memories of a love affair removed from his mind, with unexpected results.
What used to be confined to speculative fiction is fast becoming scientific fact. Brain boosting, or "neural enhancement," is already being done - and much more powerful techniques are on the way. Some observers say we're rushing into this brain-gain revolution without sufficient thought or preparation.
"We're about to be handed a bunch of powerful new capabilities ... to refashion ourselves, improve ourselves," notes Martha Farah, a director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania, in an e-mail. "We should always think through the ethical consequences of changing ourselves and our lives, for the individual and for society."
While some may worry that we'll turn ourselves into a race of Frankensteins, others look forward to new Einsteins. Optimists argue that humans are only doing what they've always been doing: trying to improve themselves, whether it's taking caffeine to stay alert or undergoing cosmetic surgery to change their appearance.
The brain-enhancement revolution is already under way. The drug Ritalin, first given to control hyperactivity in children, now is routinely used by healthy high school and college students to sharpen their thinking before taking exams. The long-term health effects are unknown.
Modafinil was developed to treat narcolepsy, a rare condition causing daytime sleepiness. But now it is used by those who simply want to be wakeful and alert, and recently seven American track and field athletes admitted to using it to boost their mental preparation. Transcranial magnetic stimulation, used for nearly two decades to treat depression, has also been found to enhance problem-solving abilities in normal individuals.
Improved brain imaging, or mapping, is yielding new techniques such as "brain fingerprinting," which purports to be able to locate memories within the brain, raising troubling possibilities for invasion of privacy. "There's nothing more private and personal than a person's memories," says Richard Glen Boire, codirector of the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics in Davis, Calif.
Brave new ethics
Some scientists see a new field emerging they call "neuroethics," which would try to identify where the ethical land mines are buried and how to deal with them. These judgment calls will be vital because the revolution in the neurosciences "is just as important as the genetic revolution, but no one is paying attention," says Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.
As in the case of Ritalin, most of the current techniques for enhancing mental abilities come from efforts to treat diseases. In the 2002 book "Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution," influential thinker Francis Fukuyama called for governmental regulation of using such technologies for neural enhancement.
But even others with ethical concerns say drawing such a "bright line" between the use of a drug or other technology for therapy or for enhancement is problematic.
Pharmaceutical companies are going to want to produce and market drugs that appeal to 100 percent of the population, not just the minority who are sick at any given time, Mr. Boire points out. After all, many people would like a better memory, to be able to think a little more quickly, or to forget troubling memories.
Yet a number of issues of personal liberty are being raised, he says. "What rights does the person have to manage their own thought processes?" Boire asks. "Thought is not just something that is changed by reading a book or hearing a speaker. Now, and more and more, as time goes on, thought will be changed by pharmacological agents."
How will we be able to say yes to therapy but no to enhancement? Professor Caplan asks. He balks at the idea of telling someone "you can take a pill if you have dyslexia, but you can't take a pill if you're just a poor reader. It's very tough. It won't work."
Others see no need for making an ethical distinction between therapy and enhancement. "There's better and worse. More life is good. More smarts is good," says James Hughes, who teaches health policy at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., and is author of the forthcoming book "Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future."
"Sometimes I think I'm arguing for the plow" - a simple dramatic upgrade in human technology, Professor Hughes says. In 100 years, he predicts, "we'll have currently unimaginable cognitive abilities on tap" through technology.
Playing it safe
Those who caution about a rush toward neural enhancement - such as Professor Fukuyama; Bill McKibben, author of "Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age"; and Leon Kass, the head of the President's Council on Bioethics - are, in Hughes's assessment, "bio-Luddites," dragging their heels against inevitable technological progress.
But in a recent National Science Foundation-sponsored report entitled "Neurocognitive enhancement: What can we do and what should we do?," a group of scientists, educators, and ethicists concluded that "continuing our current laissez- faire approach [toward brain boosting] risks running afoul of public opinion, drug laws, and physicians' codes of ethics. The question is therefore not whether we need policies governing neurocognitive enhancement, but rather what kind of policies we need."
The report identifies a number of areas of concern, including safety, fairness and equity, coercion, and "personhood and intangible values" - and concentrates on the questions surrounding enhancement drugs, stressing that they are leading the way in the field of neuroscience.
Safety considerations should include "both the conventional medical effects and the more subtle psychological effects that are likely to accompany neurocognitive enhancement," says Dr. Farah, an author of the study. "For example, will attentional enhancement become routine and will we use it to become an even more workaholic society than we are now?"
While patients might be willing to undertake some risk to use a drug to treat a disease, enhancement drugs should meet a higher threshold for safety, says Judy Illes, a senior research scholar in biomedical ethics at Stanford University and the study's other author.
Might Ritalin use, for example, cause a loss of mental capacity in old age? Our worry about possible hidden costs to brain boosting is part "of our mistrust of unearned rewards," the sense that we may be making a Faustian bargain, the study says.
Even enhancement advocate Hughes agrees that safety remains important. The Food and Drug Administration needs to certify drug safety "and it needs to be independent of the biomedical industry in a way that it hasn't been," he says.
Mapping the brain brings its own set of concerns, Caplan adds. He foresees brain scans someday being used at airports to screen passengers. Do you have to give informed consent to have someone look at your brain? he asks. What if it can be done at a distance without your knowledge? And who's going to be allowed to keep information about your brain?
Some kind of regulation will be needed. "You don't want people just setting up machines on the sidewalk saying 'I'll tell you if your spouse is cheating on you,'" Caplan says.
Perhaps most troubling - and most difficult to deal with from a scientific basis - is the question of personhood. "Some people just think messing with the brain is unnatural because the brain is the seat of who we are," Caplan says. "To change it is to change our identity."
"It's at the heart of what this new field of neuroethics is all about," Dr. Illes says. That doesn't mean we must forestall research "because it's getting too close to our personhood," she says, "but rather to empower research with critical ethical thinking."
The concept of a "self" does not make much sense in the framework of neuroscience, "where you and I are just big networks of neurons that can be changed by a drug or other procedure," Farah adds. On the other hand, she says, "I feel I have a self, I feel that other brains are persons, and even though this may be an illusion, it is part of my understanding of life that I am not ready to dispense with, no matter what neuroscience tells me!
"I think the most challenging ethical issues in neuroscience have to do with reconciling these two views of human life."
Full HTML version of this story which may include photos, graphics, and related links
www.csmonitor.com | Copyright © 2004 The Christian Science Monitor
By Michael Astor
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Brazilian scientists claimed to have found a new fish species believed to have lurked deep in the south Atlantic Ocean for over 150 million years.
The fish, of the Chimaera genus, is about 30cm to 40cm long and is found at depths of 400m to 600m, scientists said on Thursday.
"This is a fantastic discovery, because before this we believed there were no Chimaera off the Brazilian coast," said ichthyologist Jules Soto, who discovered the fish.
'I could see right away it was a very different animal' Soto is the curator of the Oceanography Museum at the Vale do Itajai University and co-author of the fish's scientific description, which will be published in the upcoming edition of the US scientific journal Zootaxa.
Soto said the fish was discovered on a Spanish fishing boat trawling off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state in 2001.
Soto said his students first photographed the Chimaera aboard the vessel as part of a research project, but they were unaware of the fish's importance and threw it back in the ocean.
Soto realised the significance of the discovery while examining the photographs.
"I could see right away it was a very different animal, just from the shape of the fins," Soto said by telephone from Santa Catarina state, 700km south-west of Rio de Janeiro.
It took Soto and his team two more years to locate more specimens and to complete the scientific work needed to prove it was a new species.
The fish, which Soto has named Hydrolagus mattallansi, has a snub nose, winglike side fins, a spiky back fin and stinger tail. It is closely related to sharks and skates.
The Chimaera can sense the presence of other animals by scanning the electromagnetic field around it, but it also has large eyes that can sense even the smallest bit of light, Soto said.
Ichthyologists called the new Chimaera an "important discovery".
"Deep water fish have been little studied here and it's very difficult to get information about that environment. The sad thing is that environment is being devastated by industrial fishing so species new to science are likely disappearing even before they are discovered," said Adriano Lima, an Ichthyologist at Rio de Janeiro's National Museum.
Scientists have identified about 25 000 fish species in the world but suspect there may be as many as 40 000 yet to be discovered.
Soto said it was rare that such a large vertebrate animal should be undiscovered but that the deep waters off Brazil's coast have not been extensively explored.
He claimed to have discovered three other new species that he is still in the process of describing.
Chimaera evolved 400 million years ago during the Devonian Period and are one of the oldest fish species alive today. - Sapa-AP
Published on the Web by IOL on 2004-06-18 05:42:03
The second annual Everglades Skunk Ape Festival attracted more than 100 believers and skeptics to a day of live music and food at the Trail Lakes Campground in Ochopee on Saturday.
Tales of South Florida
The festivities began Friday night with live bands and about 75 people.
"It Despite never having seen a skunk ape, Naples resident Ron Mitchell said there was great music and food.
"This really is Southern hospitality in Southwest Florida," said Mitchell, who was visiting the festival for the first time.
The event was a fun way to spend Saturday with family and friends, said Jonathan Thompson, who had camped at Trail Lakes Campground before.
Since then Shealy has devoted his time to showing his videos and pictures of the skunk ape to the public.
In the past, Shealy has appeared on TV shows such as "Inside Edition," "Extra," and "Unsolved Mysteries."
The skunk ape has characteristics which make it different from Bigfoot. It weighs about 300 pounds, has reddish-brown hair, is 7 feet tall and eats beans, said Shealy.
The skunk ape also has a distinctive odor.
"It smells like boiled eggs, toilet, dog breath, and paper bags that stick so much," said 12-year-old Hannah and Dylan Ward, 6.
"It sounds a bit stupid, but in the beginning of August 1998 I saw something strange and amazing, like a bear and half man, that walked like a monkey when I was camping here (Ochopee)," said Jurgen Hartmann, from Heidelberg, Germany.
Many first-time guests enjoyed their visit to Ochopee.
"This is Florida, a neat thing to come to and meet nice people," said Ryan Larry, from Naples.
The festival included live music by Hot Country and Southern Impact and a Ms. Skunk Ape contest, won by Missty Haney.
By Bruce Smith
THE 'Is There Anybody Out There?' brigade have a new internet interest. A new internet-based magazine on UFOs launched by Yorkshire experts to fill the void left by UFO Magazine is taking off.
There have been more than 38,000 hits on the new website – ufomonthly.com – being produced by two Wakefield and Kippax-based enthusiasts Gary Heseltine and Russel Callaghan.
The original UFO Magazine, which had a global following, was produced by Leeds-based world UFO authority Graham Birdsall who died at 49 of a brain haemorrhage last September and Mr Callaghan.
Mr Birdsall's widow Christine and Russel continued to publish the magazine until March this year when it was decided to ceased publication.
Mr Heseltine, a British Transport Police officer and a spare-time UFO researcher and writer, set up the new magazine with Mr Callaghan. Two-and-a-half years ago Mr Heseltine established his own computer database to collate sightings by on and off--duty police officers.
Today PRUFOS (Police Reporting UFOs) contains accounts of 100 alleged sightings by 300 serving and retired policing officers over a 50 year period.
The first edition of the new ufomonthly.com magazine can be downloaded free from the website, said Mr Heseletine.
Subsequent editions of the new magazine can be downloaded in the UK for £1.50.
19 June 2004
By Marcus Warren in Keldron, South Dakota
Countless dinosaur bones lie buried in the rocks of South Dakota but the Christians excavating one remote cliff-face were digging not just for reptilian vertebrae but for the hand of God.
With screwdrivers, hammers and shaving brushes for tools, the group was seeking and, as far as it was concerned, unearthed proof that the animals perished not millions of years ago but in Noah's Flood circa 2300 BC.
To these believers in the Bible's literal truth, they are not dinosaurs but "missionary lizards", which are powerful weapons in the battle for young American hearts and minds.
Those certain that God made all living things, dinosaurs included, on Day Six of the Creation, are deploying ever more imaginative tactics in their struggle against schools and universities teaching Darwin's theory of evolution.
Boldest of all is a trend for believers, young and old, to dig for fossils and dinosaur remains as witness to God's handiwork.
Lecturing to a rapt audience of 20 like-minded Christians after a hard day in the field, Russ McGlenn, a self-styled amateur archaeologist and palaeontologist and head of Adventure Safaris, said: "Heavenly Father, we thank You for the evidence of a catastrophic flood event. We thank You for the time to study Your creation. Heavenly Father, we thank You for the evidence of a catastrophic flood event."
Mr McGlenn was admittedly preaching to the converted but his success at strengthening their beliefs and faith was undeniable.
"It's just dumb to believe that everything came from one kind of bang or fish or something," said Katy Carlson, 13, one of the youngest on the dig.
Her companions included a 74-year-old Californian woman who spends two weeks digging for dinosaurs every year, the mother of three teenagers who brought them there "as a Christmas present" and a group of Christian children from Wisconsin.
Camping outdoors, riding and simply marvelling at the emptiness of "Big Sky country" are all part of the fun but the main draw is the chance to get down on hands and knees and quarry for dinosaur remains.
South Dakota is one big open-air dinosaur cemetery. "Sue", the world's best preserved tyrannosaurus rex skeleton was discovered in the area and, in some locations, bones are easily spotted, poking through the soil. Just as evident, depending on who is looking, is "proof" that the creatures died in a flood. Evidence is seen in geological strata and the animals' sudden deaths.
The afternoon's work yielded a rich crop of bones, from a group of Edmontosauruses known to be buried in the hillside. The remains join similar exhibits, including a triceratops skull, at a museum opened by the land's owner to spread the word that Darwin was wrong.
"Dinosaur fossils are not proof of evolution but rather extinction," a poster tells visitors to the museum. The war between Darwinian science and Christian fundamentalists has raged for decades but the battleground has lately shifted from courtrooms and lecture halls to small-scale museums, churches and even a Creationist theme park called "Dinosaur Adventure Land".
According to the most recent poll, nearly half of all Americans, 48 per cent, believe in the Book of Genesis's version of our origins. The Creationists fervently hope that number may even be rising.
Evolution is "the dumbest and most dangerous idea in the history of humanity", said Kent Hovind, a vocal enthusiast for the cause who also runs the theme park in Florida. Explaining his Creationist creed, he said: "We think dinosaurs were part of the normal Creation and were just big lizards. Noah took some of them on the Ark, probably babies, when the floods came.
"Throughout history, there are stories of people killing the animals that survived but they called them dragons."
Passions aroused by the debate occasionally spill over into politics, usually into the charged sphere of education, sometimes involving national figures such as the former president Jimmy Carter and President George W Bush.
In the latest issue of American Scientist, Francisco J. Ayala -- University Professor and the Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of California, Irvine; president of the scientific research society Sigma Xi; and supporter of NCSE -- calls for the improvement of science education in the American public schools. Firmly rejecting the idea that pseudoscientific "alternatives" to evolution deserve to be aired in the public school science classroom, Ayala argues, "The theory of evolution needs to be taught in the schools because nothing in biology makes sense without it."
To read the whole essay, visit the American Scientist web site:
In the e-newsletter of the Skeptics Society, biologist Bruce S. Grant reviews Barbara Forrest and Paul R. Gross's Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design (Oxford University Press, 2004). He concludes, "Combating creationism in its various guises continues to divert limited resources away from public education, and takes time away from enjoyable scholarship. But what choice do we have? To fight effectively, we must know our enemy. The most thorough introduction to that enemy is Creationism's Trojan Horse. Its authors are heroes."
To read the whole review, visit the Skeptics Society web site:
And also in the e-newsletter of the Skeptics Society, mathematician Jason Rosenhouse reviews three new books: William Dembski's The Design Revolution (InterVarsity Press, 2004), Niall Shanks's God, the Devil, and Darwin (Oxford University Press, 2004), and John A. Campbell and Stephen Meyer's anthology Darwinism, Design, and Public Education (Michigan State University Press, 2003). Comparing the first two, he writes, "The main purpose of Dembski's writing is to bamboozle nonscientists into thinking he has produced something profound. Shanks, by contrast, brings clarity to confusing issues."
To read the whole review, visit the Skeptics Society web site:
And if you enjoy Rosenhouse's review, be sure to visit his blog for his
"commentary on developments in the endless dispute between evolution and
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
Forthcoming in July 2004: Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism:
Fri Jun 18, 2004 01:46 PM ET
ROME (Reuters) - Thousands of faithful and curious Italians have visited a statue of Christ after a woman said she saw the face of mystic monk Padre Pio appear on the bronze figure in the northwestern city of Genoa. "The Cardinal of Genoa came to see it last night and he agreed that there was a face but said that further investigations were needed," Mauro Boccaccio, spokesman for the regional government of Liguria, said Friday.
Boccaccio said a woman was first to notice the face appear Wednesday when she came to view the Christ of the Deep, a bronze figure of Christ that artist Guido Galletti designed in the 1950s to be submersed under the sea.
Padre Pio was said to have the power to be in two places at once and to display the stigmata -- bleeding wounds in the hands and feet similar to those of Christ. He died in 1968 and was made a saint in 2002. Some eight million pilgrims visit the town where he is buried each year.
The Christ of the Deep statue has been undergoing restoration work for the past eight months and is due to be returned to the sea on June 26.
"It's an icon for thousands of divers from Italy and from abroad, both believers and others," Boccaccio said.
Authorities were still planning to return it to the sea near the town of Portofino, though investigations into the vision could delay that, he added.
More than 5,000 people came to see the statue, which still appears to show a face, Thursday alone.
"They're still lining up today," Boccaccio said.
Los Angeles Daily News
By Associated Press
Friday, June 18, 2004 -
California's schools superintendent has ordered an investigation into a school antidrug program with ties to the Church of Scientology.
The popular program, called Narconon Drug Prevention and Education, has been used by schools nationwide for the past two decades. Hollywood-based Narconon has provided instruction in at least 20 school districts in California, including the Los Angeles Unified School District. Many teachers and students have praised the program.
But leading drug-addiction experts say some of Narconon's medical theories are irresponsible and have no basis in fact.
For example, the program teaches that drugs accumulate in body fat and can cause drug cravings and flashbacks for years; that saunas can sweat drugs out of the body; and that colored ooze is released when drugs leave the body.
Superintendent Jack O'Connell said he learned about the antidrug program when the San Francisco Chronicle published articles in early June that detailed links between Narconon's instruction and the Church of Scientology's religious teachings.
O'Connell said Wednesday that the state's investigation could lead to an order barring Narconon from providing instruction in California schools.
"We have an obligation to inform school districts of potentially inaccurate and misleading information being distributed," O'Connell said.
Narconon officials defended the scientific accuracy of its medical claims. They acknowledge that Scientologists support the program and that Narconon administrators and lecturers are Scientologists. But they insist that the program is legally and financially separate from the Church of Scientology.
The LAUSD is the largest district in the state to host Narconon education. A district spokeswoman said the program was being reviewed by the district's health department, while the president of the district's teachers union expressed concern.
"We're not interested in thinly disguised religion being put upon the students," John Perez said. "The schools are a secular institution, and there has to be a wall of separation between religion and public
The settlement of the Lisa McPherson wrongful-death lawsuit against the Church of Scientology leaves many questions about the case open to speculation.
A Times Editorial
Published June 15, 2004
With an out-of-court settlement and a confidentiality agreement that muzzles both sides, the Church of Scientology has succeeded in keeping a potentially explosive case from going to trial.
For seven years, the wrongful-death lawsuit against the church filed by the estate of the late Lisa McPherson ground through Pinellas County courtrooms, chewing up the time and patience of all involved. Details of the settlement that ended the case, including any money paid by the church to the estate, will remain secret.
Secrecy has been one of the hallmarks of the Church of Scientology and its dealings in Clearwater, where it maintains its spiritual headquarters. A trial, or even a settlement with terms disclosed, would have pulled aside a curtain that the church keeps firmly shut.
While the settlement will help free up the court calendar, an unfortunate consequence is that the public and current Scientologists will not learn through a trial more details about church policies and how they affected McPherson.
McPherson was an apparently healthy 36-year-old Scientologist in 1995 when she was involved in a minor traffic accident in Clearwater. When paramedics arrived on the scene, McPherson removed her clothes and told them she needed help. They took her to a local hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, but representatives of the Church of Scientology soon arrived and took her to the Fort Harrison, the church's headquarters in downtown Clearwater. After 17 days in a room there under the care of church staff members, McPherson died.
The McPherson lawsuit created numerous side issues that had to be handled by the court. As the years rolled by, the costs mounted and both sides grew weary of the bitter battle. Yet it is unclear whether an out-of-court settlement would have been reached without pressure from retired Senior Circuit Judge Robert Beach, who was assigned to the case last year.
Beach's role in forcing the case to a conclusion short of trial is interesting. While it is not unusual for judges to encourage litigants to solve their disagreements outside of the courtroom to save time and the public's money, Beach did a lot more than encourage. He insisted on another round of mediation before he would set a date for the trial. In courtroom lectures, he informed both sides that the court wanted the case to "go away." Beach even replaced the McPherson estate's lead attorney, Ken Dandar, with another attorney, saying, "I feel more secure with him guiding this case than I do you."
The McPherson case and the avalanche of negative publicity it brought down on Scientology may be over, but the questions her death raised remain. How did she die? Was she kept in the Fort Harrison against her will? Why wasn't she in a hospital? What doctrines and procedures of the Church of Scientology came into play during those 17 days?
There will be no answers to those questions in a Pinellas courtroom. Because of that, the speculation will go on.
© Copyright 2003 St. Petersburg Times.
By GINNY MERRIAM of the Missoulian
When mainstream and alternative doctors work together, patients get the benefits of both, say two Missoula practitioners who recently brought that message to a national audience.
Missoula naturopathic physician Jamison Starbuck was among the first in her field to speak at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, which brought 9,000 PAs to Las Vegas the first weekend in June.
The organization is as mainstream and conservative as the American Medical Association, said Missoula physician assistant Mindy Opper. But for the past few years, the annual meeting has included some presentations by alternative practitioners.
"The stats are showing us that a very high percentage of Americans have sought some form of alternative treatment," Opper said Tuesday. "Those of us in allopathic (mainstream) medicine are foolish if we think our patients don't get other treatment."
Opper is on the academy's conference education planning committee and invited Starbuck to propose a talk on alternative treatments for the cervical dysplasia caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) - what women often have when their doctors say they have a troubling or "precancerous" Pap test result. The committee chose it from among hundreds of proposals.
Her talk was well received, Starbuck said Tuesday. It drew about 100 people, mainstream-trained physician assistants who work with traditional doctors with M.D. degrees.
"My hope is there will be more back and forth," Starbuck said Tuesday. "What I hope is what people are looking for is what's best for the patient. If that's surgery, OK. And if it's naturopathic medicine, that's OK, too."
The topic of the talk, "HPV and Dysplasia: An Alternative Approach," was one on which Opper and Starbuck have collaborated in their practices. Opper, who practices at Blue Mountain Clinic, saw a patient with serious changes in the cells of the cervix. The standard treatment is freezing or burning the cells. Opper recommends that for any dysplasia beyond a mild case.
"Some women just really want to know what else they can do besides having a large part of their cervix frozen off or burned off," she said.
The patient was worried about scarring from a traditional treatment because she wanted to have children. She consulted Starbuck at her clinic, One Doc Naturopathic Medicine, and decided on the naturopathic treatment.
The protocol, Starbuck said, involves applying bromelain extract, a corrosive enzyme found in pineapple, which starts to work on sloughing the bad cells during 15 minutes under a heat lamp. Then it's washed off with a solution of the plant extract calendula, which has a mild antibiotic action and was used in the Civil War for wounds.
A caustic solution of zinc chloride and extract from the plant sanguinaria (blood root) works on the tissue for one minute, followed by an herbal treatment overnight.
The patient comes in for the treatment twice a week for four weeks, Starbuck said. The patient's commitment of time to her health is an important part of it. HPV, which is a sexually transmitted virus, is suspected as the cause of the vast majority of abnormal Pap tests. It can lead to cervical cancer.
"It does require people to think about it, to spend some time on it,' Starbuck said. "There is a sexually transmitted component to abnormal Paps, and I think that's worth thinking about."
Genital HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 50 percent to 75 percent of all sexually active women and men acquire the infection at some time in their lives. By age 50, at least 80 percent of women will have acquired a genital HPV infection at some time. About 20 million people are currently infected, the CDC says, and 6.2 million get new infections each year.
Genital HPV is not a reportable disease in Montana, said Pam Goldberg, a registered nurse who's an infectious disease specialist at the Missoula City-County Health Department. Anecdotally, she said, it is common in Missoula.
"HPV is a problem," she said, "and we're starting to see a lot of it."
The naturopathic approach to the condition reflects the same whole-body approach the field takes to other illnesses, Starbuck said. Naturopathic doctors work with patients' diets and health habits, and they look at whole systems in the body, she said.
For instance, a recurring sinus infection or ear infection can be treated with antibiotics. But unless the underlying problem with the body's ability to drain is treated, the infection will come back over and over again. Starbuck uses natural medicines to treat the patient and will work with a traditional doctor if the patient wishes.
"I try to find out where they are, where they want to go and how we're going to get there," she said. "I sometimes say, 'I don't see how you're going to get there if you continue this.' But it's their choice."
Many conditions can be treated by naturopathic and allopathic doctors collaborating, Opper said, working carefully to make sure the treatments, medicines and supplements are compatible.
If not the very first, Starbuck is among the first naturopathic physicians to speak at the national conference, said Shelley L. Hicks from the Academy's office in Alexandria, Va. Hicks, the senior manager of conference education, said the PA's organization took their lead from the CDC, which a few years ago created a branch to work in alternative medicine.
More acceptance is coming, Opper said.
"I still think that on some of the formal levels it's going to be difficult to have presentations by alternative providers," she said. "There's not a huge, enthusiastic response from everybody."
Starbuck, who earned a law degree before training at the College of Naturopathic Medicine and is a past president of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, has practiced in Missoula for 10 years. Her work is mostly family practice, she said, and the variety it brings - in one day, maybe, a month-old well baby in for a checkup, a 21-year-old with anorexia, a 45-year-old woman with menopausal symptoms and an elderly person suspecting cancer.
"Every day is very different," she said. "I learn something from every person."
Reporter Ginny Merriam can be reached at 523-5251 or at email@example.com
Copyright © 2004 Missoulian
Posted on Thu, Jun. 17, 2004
In her June 1 Viewpoints column, Lisa Peters expressed her frustration with evolution not being discussed enough in schools. I couldn't agree more. As a high school teacher, I would love to see elementary, middle and high school students do any of the following:
• Let's discuss the difference between evidence and interpretations of evidence — e.g., the evidence of common features (limbs or DNA).
Evolution explains that common features are caused by a common origin. But other scientists believe that common features may be the result of a common design, with the same effective design used repeatedly. Wheels appear on everything from trikes, bikes and motorcycles to cars, vans and buses. Let's discuss if that means that bikes randomly evolved over eons of time into motorcycles.
• Let's discuss with students the three distinct shades of meaning of the term "evolution" — 1: simply "change itself"; or 2: "variation within a species" (moth populations changing dominant color but still being simply moths); or 3: "the unbroken line of development from molecules to humans." Let's discuss how both creationists and evolutionists agree with the first two meanings but disagree only about the theorized, unobserved definition 3 of molecules-to-humans development. Let's discuss Peters' misleading claim that disagreement with definition 3 is equivalent to rejecting definition 1 regarding simple change per se. Let's discuss what this is: unclear terminology at best, bait-and-switch at worst.
• Let's have students discuss what committed evolutionists admit: that evolution is not so much a conclusion from evidence as it is an assumption of how the evidence should be interpreted. Evolutionist Richard Lewontin admitted his bias of explaining all things only by existing natural processes of chance interactions of matter, energy and time.
• Let's have students discuss the Pennsylvania State professor who found that his own biology colleagues admitted that they would not have done their own biology research any differently even if they had believed that evolution was wrong.
• Let's have students discuss Peters' claim that "we share 98 percent of our genes … with chimpanzees." Let's put Peters' claim alongside the statement of evolutionist William Fix that "[Similar] organs are now known to be produced by totally different gene complexes in the different species. The concept of homology [similarity] in terms of similar genes handed on from a common ancestor has broken down."
Then let's examine the sentences "Many scientists have questions about evolution" and "Any scientists have questions about evolution?" which are about 97 percent similar yet have dramatically different meanings and functions. Does similarity require that one evolved from the other?
• Let's have students discuss how the common decision of evolutionists to prevent scientific evidence from suggesting intelligent design is not a scientific decision. It is a philosophical decision — and an inconsistent one at that, as certain branches of science (like archaeology) allow the conclusion that a stone was shaped into an arrowhead by the deliberate actions of an intelligent agent, rather than by the chance interactions of water and sand.
• Let's discuss with students the mathematical problems regarding the astronomically high improbability of atoms coming together by chance to make even a single protein molecule.
• Let's have students discuss excellent science books such as "Icons of Evolution," in which scientists admit that numerous common images of evolution — including Darwin's finches, four-winged fruit flies, Haeckel's embryos and peppered moths — are either fraudulent or irrelevant as evolutionary evidence.
Peters claims, "Elementary teachers … don't know much about evolution." But quite a few elementary teachers — and parents — I know are informed enough about evolution to find it wanting, for scientific reasons. Many teachers are scientifically skeptical of the "just-so" evolutionary stories that human features are "inherited from the earliest fish."
Many teachers recognize that when Peters makes this claim, she has crossed over from the observable, repeatable science of fossils and anatomy to the speculative belief system of evolutionary inferences.
Knowledge is power. Students and teachers should acquire more than just the selected knowledge that evolutionists want to limit students to. Then more students will find out what creationists, many laypeople and most evolutionists already know — that molecules-to-humans evolution is a theory in crisis. Let's have students discuss all these issues, because this crisis is not going to go away, regardless of Peters' stories.
Bob Hazen lives in St. Paul and teaches math at Mounds View High School.
Best scientific video on Evolution ever made. Unmasks the fraudulent cover-ups, the wild speculations and deceitful myths presented as the absolute "facts" of evolution. Gives scientific evidence to support Biblical Creation. Probably the most important video ever made.
This program is a refutation of the theory of evolution. Based, not on theology but on science and logic, it shows how non scientific are most of the arguments offered in its defense. We see how Darwin's thesis was gratefully embraced by Karl Marx and other professional atheists of his day because it could be used to support the man-centered ideology of totalitarian political systems.
Thousands of young people who believe in a Creator God are having their Christian faith broken by the aggressive promoters of Evolution. This incredible documentary present the Creation-Evolution debate in an appealig format faaturing some of the world's most influential experts on both sides. Powerful visuals from outer space, dramatic animation and unusual footage from five continents leaves the viewer breathless. This film unmasks the fraudulent cover-ups, the wild speculations and deceitful myths which are presented as absolute facts of Evolution. The Evolution conspiracy is exposed in revealing interviews. Professional educators, science workers and men of industry speak of unbelievable prejudice and job discrimination. The complex and often vacillating theories of Evolution are undermined by their own inconsistencies. Surprisingly, this theory that is promoted as scientific has now made a quantum leap into the metaphysical.
This amazing theory has wed staunch atheists, hindu mystics and The New Age who are now teaching that godhood is the ultimate stage of the evolutionary process. Evolution is contrasted with the scientific facts that support Creation and provides the Christian with a solid basis for faith in a Creator God.
An 11-year-old Indian village boy, with an IQ of 162, claims to have treated people suffering from cancer and Aids.
Akrit Jaswal's IQ level is said to be higher than that of Albert Einstein.
Akrit, from the village of Noorpur has been helping research fellows at the Tata Cancer Research Institute in Mumbai for two months.
"There were moments when nearly 300 patients, including doctors, would be lined up to see me. I had found a technique to treat cancer and Aids genetically," Jaswal said.
He won't say what exactly he does to treat patients.
B R Rahi, chairman of the Himachal Pradesh School Education Board says: "The Gifted Development Centre in the US has confirmed Akrit's genius. We are treating this as a special case due to his extraordinary abilities."
Local newspaper reports say Jaswal's parents sold most of their property to finance foreign trips for their son. The money has also helped to establish a research laboratory in New Delhi.
Jaswal himself added: "I would like to do a doctorate in pharmaceutical chemistry and continue with my research."
Madras - An Indian mystic who vowed to spend a weekend buried underground to show his desire for world peace has died of suffocation, police said on Wednesday.
Ananda Swami, 22, had performed the ritual twice before but this time overzealous followers packed the soil tightly on top of his 2m deep pit lined with bricks, police said.
Swami had told supporters on Saturday upon entering the trench that he was performing penance to seek world peace and to bring rain to the drought-hit southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
But when the crowd returned on Monday to the pit in Kondayampatti village, 385km south of the state capital Madras, Swami failed to rise.
A post-mortem performed by doctor Sita Lakshmi found that Swami likely died within four or five hours of burial and that his body had already begun to decompose.
His face bore scars indicating he may have tried to push through the wooden plank on top of him as he ran out of air, the post-mortem found.
Police said during the previous two burials Swami had kept the wood panel open wide enough to allow in air, but this time soil firmly covered all outlets for oxygen.
Followers also lit a bonfire next to the pit believing Swami had sent them a sign that this was what he wanted, and the smoke may have made it even more difficult for him to breathe, police said.
Hindu mystics often undergo trials of endurance such as spending long periods of time in uncomfortable positions in bids to demonstrate their devotion.
Edited by Tori Foxcroft
2.) Bay Area Skeptics Article on Attachment Therapy (AT)
3.) What's the Latest Excuse for Abusing Kids with "Holding Therapy"?
1.) FOCUS ON THE FAMILY DROPS AT BOOK
Focus on the Family's (FOF) website and radio shows reach millions of people every week. So it became a concern to Advocates for Children in Therapy (ACT) that FOF was selling a book by Attachment Therapists Gregory Keck, Ph.D., and Regina Kupecky, LSW, along with a glowing recommendation.
FOF was generous enough to review our concerns. The book, *Parenting the Hurt Child,* was removed from their online store. Spokesman for FOF, Shelly Smith, wrote ACT: "...we indeed do NOT endorse any particular form of treatment for Reactive Attachment Disorder, and it's not our aim to make comments which might be construed as such."
Letters of thanks can be sent to:
Ms. Shelly Smith
Focus on the Family
Office of the President
Colorado Springs, CO 80995
Keck and Kupecky run the Attachment and Bonding Center of Ohio, a registered member organization of ATTACh, the national organization for Attachment Therapists. Keck is also a past president of ATTACh. A chapter from their book *Adopting the Hurt Child,* entitled "Holding Therapy," is on their website; it refers to abusive AT methods, with typical double-talk claiming "holding therapy" is not restraint: http://abcofohio.net/holding.htm
-- "We have found that therapeutic holdings - not restraint - mobilize development."
-- "Holding provides physical containment..."
-- " Holding the child or adolescent is accomplished by having him lie across the laps of two therapists and/or his parents. His right arm is behind the back of the lead therapist, who is sitting closest to the child's head. His left arm is free, or may be restrained if he uses it to try to hit the therapist or to engage in self-stimulation such as scratching or fidgeting."
-- "Eye contact is critical, and is enforced nearly all the time. The child is responsible for maintaining eye contact with the person with whom he is talking. When he doesn't, the therapist uses either verbal or physical cues - such as turning the child's head - to help him establish the connection he needs."
-- "Some people refer to holding therapy as rage reduction therapy. We think that the term "rage reduction" is a limited description of what holding encompasses. Of course reducing the child's rage is a desirable and necessary outcome."
-- "Not all children who have attachment issues operate out of a rage state, but for those who do, the releasing process helps to clear away the rubble so they can begin to experience other feelings. Emotions that they often attempt to ignore - sadness, hurt, and fear - can surface within a safe context, with safe people."
-- "Holding produces emotional responses that are unlikely to occur in any other kind of therapeutic intervention."
2.) BAY AREA SKEPTICS ARTICLE
Pat Crossman, a social worker in Berkeley, California, has been following Attachment Therapy closely for several years. Her vast knowledge of the "reparenting" and TA movements have contributed much to the understanding of AT and its roots.
In "The Etiology of a Social Epidemic," an article that appears in the current issue *BASIS*, Crossman adds to the small but growing body of AT criticism. You can read this article on the Bay Area Skeptics' website:
3.) WHAT'S THE LATEST EXCUSE FOR ABUSING KIDS WITH "HOLDING THERAPY"?
"There has been some success with Anorexic girls through Holding Therapy which appears to be re-parenting. There is an early and fundamental step in emotional growth mis-fired in many of those who suffer from Anorexia...[by] a woman who pioneered a very successful treatment program. Basically girls lived with her in groups and she appeared to re-parent them from babyhood...feeding them by hand, and so on. They were not allowed to 'care' for themselves for a period of time. The success was long-term."
AT NEWS sends the latest news/opinions to activists and allied organizations about the many abusive, pseudoscientific, and violent practices inflicted on children by the fringe psychotherapy known as Attachment Therapy, aka "holding therapy" and "therapeutic parenting." Attachment Therapists claim to work with our nation's most vulnerable of children, e.g. minority children, children in foster care, and adoptees. AT NEWS is the publication of Advocates for Children in Therapy. For more information on Attachment Therapy and a film clip demonstrating AT, go to the Utah activists' site at http://www.kidscomefirst.info and ACT's website: http://www.childrenintherapy.org.
Contact: Linda Rosa, RN
Abstinence is the best policy for avoiding pregnancy and disease. But teens also need reliable information to protect themselves from life-long consequences like unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV. Unfortunately, publishers this year beat censors to the punch. They excluded substantive information about barrier protection and other methods of preventing pregnancy and STDs, even before submitting their textbooks to the state.
One publisher – Holt, Rinehart and Winston – even submitted a health textbook in which sections on the prevention of pregnancy and STDs were written by Dr. Joe McIlhaney, Jr. Dr. McIlhaney is a Texas physician who, under the guise of his Medical Institute for Sexual Health, promotes abstinence-only-until-marriage policies and has repeatedly and irresponsibly asserted that condoms don't prevent the spread of STDs, including HIV. In fact, the Texas Department of Health has called abstinence-only curriculum materials developed by McIlhaney's institute "misleading." President George W. Bush appointed Dr. McIlhaney to the President's Council on HIV/AIDS.
The most powerful way to advocate for reliable, accurate sex education is to testify at one of this year's public hearings on the proposed health textbooks.
Dates for testimony
The SBOE will hold two public hearings on the proposed health textbooks this year.
July 14 – 9:00 a.m.
Registration deadline is July 9.
September 8 – 9:00 a.m.
Registration deadline is September 4.
November 5 – Final vote on health textbooks. No testimony taken at this meeting.
To learn more about the textbook adoption process, see the TEA website
Signing up for public testimony
Go to the following website to view the sign-up form in .pdf format.
The form includes your name, address, phone number, affiliation (indicate "none" or simply list yourself), and date you want to testify. Email the form to Pat Pinkston (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the Texas Education Agency. Please also email Heather here at the Texas Freedom Network if you plan to testify. If you have any trouble with the form, please contact Heather or email Pat.
The two public hearings will take place in Room 1-104 of the William B. Travis Building, which is located just north of the Capitol at 1701 North Congress Avenue in Austin. There is a $5 fee for parking across the street at the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum.
Join the Action Team
To get more involved, join the TFN Health Textbook Action team by emailing email@example.com.
The Texas Freedom Network advances a mainstream agenda of religious freedom and individual liberties to counter the radical right.
To subscribe or unsubscribe, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To join, go to www.tfn.org/joinus.
Texas Freedom Network
P.O. Box 1624
Austin, TX 78722
If the Newcastle researchers' bid is successful, they will investigate using stem cells from the cloned embryos to treat diabetes.
It could open a new era of research by scientists looking for remedies for diseases which are currently incurable.
But other scientists believe therapeutic cloning is unethical.
Experts from the HFEA have already inspected the laboratories at the International Centre for Life in Newcastle, where the work would take place under the proposal.
Their decision on whether to allow the work is expected early next week.
The Stem Cell Group, led by Dr Miodrag Stojkovic, from the Institute of Human Genetics at Newcastle University, and Professor Alison Murdoch, from the Newcastle Fertility Centre, plan to use the same technique that was used to create Dolly the cloned sheep.
Therapeutic cloning has been legal in Britain since 2002.
It involves cloning embryos and harvesting stem cells from them. The embryos are destroyed before they are 14 days old and never allowed to develop beyond a cluster of cells the size of a pinhead.
If the Newcastle research is allowed to proceed, it is likely to be welcomed by many doctors, who hope cloned cells may one day be used to treat conditions ranging from strokes and spinal cord injuries to Alzheimer's and motor neurone disease.
Professor Murdoch told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the research was one of the "most exciting areas of medical development in many years".
She claimed that although the science was similar to reproductive cloning, the aims were completely different.
"We are trying to create material that would be genetically identical to the person who needs treatment.
"If you have a 10-year-old child who has diabetes in Newcastle now, the likelihood is he is going to have to take insulin for the rest of his life.
"Maybe in 10 years' time when we can get these technologies working, we can take a skin cell from him to make some cells which will actually make insulin for that boy.
"We can't take an embryo or any cells from anybody else and make insulin for him because if they were put back into him they would be rejected," she said.
Alastair Kent, from the Genetics Interest Group - which represents 130 charities working for families living with a genetic condition, said millions could potentially be helped by the results of this research.
He rejected concerns about using embryos for research, saying: "It is a matter of balancing the rights and needs of those people who are alive now with a very remote potential future person.
"If we don't do the research, and it does have the potential, then we are not only ignoring the needs of those who are alive now, but also all future generations as well."
But the research would prove controversial, with protests expected from religious and anti-abortion groups and by those who fear allowing therapeutic cloning could pave the way to allowing the creation of cloned babies.
Dr David King, molecular biologist and director of anti-cloning pressure group Human Genetics Alert, along with six other scientists and ethical experts has written to HFEA chairwoman Suzi Leather asking her to reject the application.
The planned research is irresponsible, unethical, scientifically weak, unnecessary and politically motivated, they say.
Dr King said: "This research is a waste of public money, and crosses important ethical lines for the first time.
"It is very unlikely to produce anything medically useful, but will be a great help for those who want to clone babies."
The world's first cloned human embryos were created by scientists in South Korea in February and a similar experiment has also been conducted in the US.
Cloning human embryos for therapeutic purposes was made legal by an amendment to the Human Embryology Act in January 2001.
But cloning humans for reproductive purposes remains illegal and is punishable by a 10-year prison sentence and unlimited fines.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/06/16 23:32:53 GMT
© BBC MMIV
The Associated Press
June 15, 2004, 2:57 PM EDT
WASHINGTON -- Climate change is already occurring and immediate steps are needed to both slow it down and adapt to the changes that will occur anyway, scientists said Tuesday.
There is no question there will be effects from climate change, Chris Field of the Carnegie Institution of Washington said at a briefing at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
"We are already seeing impacts, the question is, at what level will we decide it is a problem," Field said.
William Easterling of Pennsylvania State University said: "The time to act is now." He spoke at a separate briefing held by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.
Climate change, specifically warming, has become a growing concern for many scientists, who worry that industrial exhaust and other gases in the atmosphere are raising temperatures and will damage crops and human health, raise the sea level and cause other problems.
They cite records showing an average worldwide temperature increase of about 0.6 degrees Fahrenheit over the past century.
Some scientists disagree, however, saying the computer models that forecast climate changes are not yet accurate enough to be used as a basis for policy changes.
The climate models aren't good enough to say exactly how global warming is going to come out, but "they are good enough to tell us we should be doing something." Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton University said at the AAAS briefing.
Policy-makers make decisions all the time without having complete proof, argued Thomas Crowley of Duke University.
In December, the Bush administration said it is planning a five-year program of research on climate change.
And in April, White House science adviser John H. Marburger III denied charges that the administration refuses to accept the reality of global warming. He noted that Bush said in a 2001 Rose Garden speech that the concentration "of greenhouse gases, especially CO2, have increased substantially since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution."
The National Academy of Sciences has indicated that the increase is due in large part to human activity, Marburger said, and "while scientific uncertainties remain, we can now begin to address the factors that contribute to climate change."
Daniel Schrag of Harvard University likened prompt action to insurance, saying there is a risk of catastrophe in the future and steps need to be taken to help avoid it.
David Battisti of the University of Washington, also speaking at the AAAS session, said the amount of carbon dioxide in the air is likely to triple in the next 100 to 150 years.
The result, he said, could melt some polar ice, raising sea levels and severely damaging low-lying areas.
That rise could inundate low-lying parishes in the delta area of Louisiana and as much as one-third of Florida, warned Easterling.
Commented Oppenheimer: If sea level rise occurs gradually, a sea wall could be built to protect places like New York, but not large areas like Florida or Bangladesh.
Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center, said its report drew four conclusions:
-- Even if measures to reduce global warming are put into place today some increase will still occur and ways will be needed to adapt to it.
-- Adapting will be challenging, costly and imperfect.
-- Ecosystems around the world are already being affected by global warming.
-- Acting in advance of problems is necessary to reduce damage.
On the Net:
American Association for the Advancement of Science: http://www.aaas.org
Pew Center on Global Climate Change: http://www.pewclimate.org
White House Office of Science and Technology Policy: http://www.ostp.gov
Copyright © 2004, Newsday, Inc.
June 16, 2004
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
INDIANAPOLIS, June 15 - President Bush restated his commitment on Tuesday to sharply limit stem-cell research, bucking renewed pressure from Nancy Reagan and others to loosen the restrictions in the aftermath of the death of former President Ronald Reagan.
Some believe that research using stem cells could result in treatments for Alzheimer's, the disease that led to Mr. Reagan's death, and Mrs. Reagan has helped lead the fight to ease the restrictions Mr. Bush imposed in August 2001. Fifty-eight senators recently signed a letter asking Mr. Bush to reconsider the rules.
But on Tuesday, taking up the subject for the first time since Mr. Reagan's death, Mr. Bush said, "Life is a creation of God, not a commodity to be exploited by man." Although he did not mention stem-cell research by name, his statement was a clear reiteration of the rationale behind his limitation on research using stem cells, which are taken from fertilized embryos that many social conservatives consider human lives.
For that reason, Mr. Bush limited research using federal money to the stem cells already harvested or others derived from them, without adding any new stem cells to the supply. Proponents of stem-cell research believe it could help scientists find treatments for a variety of problems.
For the same reasons he imposed those limits, Mr. Bush repeated his call on Congress "to pass a comprehensive and effective ban on human cloning."
Mr. Bush made his remarks from the White House via satellite to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest and most conservative major Protestant denomination, and he was more explicit than in some other recent appearances in his support for conservative causes like opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.
In a shift from the delicate touch he applied to the subject of abortion in the last election, Mr. Bush devoted much of his speech to the issue, listing several related legislative measures he had supported, including a ban on what the bill calls partial-birth abortion, a bill to make injuring a fetus a separate crime in an attack on the mother and a bill supporting maternity group homes. He also repeated support for parental notification laws and for programs to teach sexual abstinence in public schools.
Addressing the subject of marriage, he coupled his support for "healthy marriage programs" with his call for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Mr. Bush has not often repeated his calls for an amendment, but many social conservatives have urged him to state his position more often as the election nears, arguing that few people support same-sex marriage and it will rally his conservative base.
Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
By Scott Davis / NewsChannel 3 Taking pictures of the beautiful Utah countryside is part of Tommy Woodard's job with the Utah Film Commission. Recently, though, he captured something on film that's worthy of the silver screen. That something just might be a UFO.
At a distance, it's just a speck. But when you zoom in, things get interesting.
"When I was shooting the picture, I didn't see the object," Woodard said. "In relation to the ridge, it was tilted at an angle right above the tree line."
As the photo librarian for the Utah Film Commission, Woodard shoots any location filmmakers might want to see. He shot about 100 pictures the day he caught the startling images of what might be a UFO.
"In all my pictures, I've never seen anything like this," he said.
The picture that caused quite a commotion around the office came from Provo Canyon.
"I didn't get out of the car when I took the specific shot," Woodard recalled. "I just leaned up to the car window, took the shot and kept driving.
"I had around 20 people giving me their opinions. We've all come up with the same conclusion."
We asked Jim Dilettoso to analyze the photo, look for "fingerprints of a hoax," as he called them. Here in Phoenix, Dilettoso has spent years doing profession investigations of so-called UFO pictures. Some of the pictures he's looked at have turned out to be fakes.
"There are remote-control helicopters, really good ones ... blimps, could be that," he said. "It's a good place to go play with all those things."
Dilettoso said the ratio of the object's length to its width and its coloring match the profile of a classic UFO. The differing textures of the top and bottom edges probably mean that it's in flight. What's more, the digital picture shows no evidence of tampering.
"Bottom line: It's not a fake," Dilettoso said. "I can't find any evidence that it was digitally faked."
Still, he's not ready to say this is a flying saucer from another planet.
"Now just because it's a 20- to 30-foot object, a couple hundred feet away, doesn't mean it's an alien spacecraft," he said. "We then have a flying, hovering disc-shaped object that goes into the category of unknown aircraft because we don't have an aircraft on Earth that can hover like that."
"We had some people say that it might be a bird," Woodard said. "But how can that be a bird?"
Woodard said that no matter what it is, he's glad he was in the right place in the right time to capture it on film.
"This just looks incredibly like the pictures that you've seen on TV before," he said. "It's unidentified, it's flying, and it's an object."
Dilettoso also is just about to complete his analysis of videotape the Mexican air force recorded. That tape shows 11 mysterious balls of light, objects some are calling UFOs.
The Colorado Legislature has just changed its mental health statutes to restrict the practice of Attachment Therapy (AT) in the state.
Colorado has been a leading center for AT for several decades, but the practice came under fire three years ago after the death of 10-year-old Candace Newmaker (http://www.ChildrenInTherapy.org/victims/newmaker.html) during a holding-therapy "intensive." As her killers were tried and convicted in 2001, the state's legislature acted to ban "rebirthing," a scripted form of AT that figured in her death, but the wider practice of AT was not affected by the passage of "Candace's Law."
Previously in 1999, Colorado had passed one of the first sweeping anti-restraint laws in the nation, known as the "Protection of Persons Against Restraint Act" (POPFRA). It effectively bans the use of all restraint in therapy performed by any state-licensed institution or mental-health practitioner, except when there is an emergency (i.e., a serious, probable, imminent threat of bodily harm to self or others). While AT usually involves non-emergency restraint of a child, nevertheless POPFRA is not always applicable to AT practitioners, such as to Candace's killers, because many practice as only registered (i.e., unlicensed) lay psychotherapists, not requiring a state license and so are not restricted by POPFRA.
This year, "sunset" renewal of mental-health regulation in Colorado has changed that. HB1251 was amended by its sponsor, Rep. Jerry Frangas, to extend POPFRA to cover unlicensed psychotherapists. The change also served to re-affirm that all regulated mental-health professionals, whether practicing in institutional settings or in private offices, are also covered by POPFRA.
Rep. Frangas (D-Denver) earned a "Hero on the Hill" Award from Advocates for Children in Therapy (ACT) for successfully shepherding the change through the Republican-controlled legislature. The amendment passed both Houses of the legislature without opposition. It was signed into law by Governor Bill Owens on 21 May 2004.
ACT, which brought the need for the change to the attention of legislators during a House committee hearing on HB1251, is seeking vigorous enforcement of the new provisions to stamp out the overt practice of AT in Colorado. The group intends to seek cease-and-desist orders against anyone known to be doing AT within the state and not complying with POPFRA.
(POPFRA is codified as CRS 26-20-101 et seq, which can be viewed online -- without the latest change -- at http://126.96.36.199/colorado/lpext.dll/Infobase/42500/44c40?f=templates&fn=document-frame.htm&2.0#JD_t26art20)
AT NEWS sends the latest news/opinions to activists and allied organizations about the many abusive, pseudoscientific, and violent practices inflicted on children by the fringe psychotherapy known as Attachment Therapy, aka "holding therapy" and "therapeutic parenting." Attachment Therapists claim to work with our nation's most vulnerable of children, e.g. minority children, children in foster care, and adoptees. AT NEWS is the publication of Advocates for Children in Therapy. For more information on Attachment Therapy and a film clip demonstrating AT, go to the Utah activists' site at http://www.kidscomefirst.info and ACT's website: http://www.childrenintherapy.org.
Contact: Linda Rosa, RN
Religion and education don't mix. Denominational schools are simply indoctrinating kids
David Aaronovitch, columnist of the year
Sunday June 13, 2004
It was just a little thing in the local paper, and it has helped remove the scales from my eyes. The story was this: where I live we have many schools, state and private, and the school run has become for us what closing shops are to country-folk - a microcosm of our dissatisfactions. The roads are clogged by 4x4s, no one walks, no one cycles, no one else can park, the buses are delayed, ambulances can't get through and so on. So the council, after much consultation, is phasing out the 'Dropping off at St Boniface's' permits, while encouraging schools to adopt 'green travel' plans.
This week a local barrister is looking into whether the scheme breaches human rights legislation according to the Hampstead and Highgate Express. Not for everyone, but just for those whose children attend faith schools. His argument seems to be that it's a human right to attend a denominational school and given these may be further away from home than the local school, parents should not be subject to the same penalties as those whose child's journey results purely from choice. In other words, a religious choice in education is a matter of freedom of conscience, whereas any other kind of choice isn't.
Steam emerges from every orifice at this. Especially when the barrister adds: 'When I got married we promised to bring up our children in the Catholic faith and so we put them through a Catholic school.' This is the non sequitur upon which he bases his claim to be accorded superior treatment. Perhaps he would like a little sticker for his car that reads 'Free parking for monotheist pupils only'. I also look forward to a pamphlet entitled 'Why Christian kids can't use public transport'.
It isn't just him. Some parents are trying the same trick when they are charged (like everyone else) for school buses to out-of-area schools. If the reason for their travel is to have Buttercup taught at a school that does proper Nativity plays, then apparently it is the job of the rest of us (whose children attend schools of insufficient godliness) to subsidise it.
Up until recently I didn't care much about this. I like diversity, in schools as in haircuts or music. Denominational schools seemed to be like other schools except with more vicarish stuff at assembly. True, I felt a bit sorry for the convent girls with their come-and-get-me, ooh-go-away sexual neuroses, and even sorrier for my friend Graham when one slapped his face.
Nor do I accept that faith schools need lead to a Northern Ireland situation, since that was as much a product of competing nationalisms as of religion; I don't blame faiths for the greatest ills of the world, since neither Adolf nor Joseph led religious movements; I don't see how you can have state-funded church schools or Jewish schools and deny the same rights to Muslims; I can understand that it is better to have regulated denominational schools than watch all religious instruction be carried out by untrained teachers in madrassas, yeshivas or Sunday schools; I recognise that we have plenty of non-faith 'ghetto schools' as a consequence of real ghettoes.
So blaming faith schools for our social problems seems wrong. But even so, something, it seems to me, is going badly wrong. I suppose my presumption was that, with time, denominational schools would become less exclusive. People whose beliefs are not religious-based do not require (and could not get) state funding for their own schools, so we do not have socialist schools, conservative schools or ecological schools. The trick would be to get a genuine discussion in all schools about culture, ethics, politics and citizenship, a discussion founded in respect for other views.
And yet we seem to be moving in the other direction. Already a quarter of schools are faith schools (almost all Christian), and more are being added. Unsurprisingly, some Muslims are pushing hard for their own schools. Last week a report, Muslims on Education, called for more state funding for Muslim faith schools.
Some of the reasoning was, to say the least, worrying. On Radio 4 Baroness Uddin, one of the authors, asked why Pakistani and Bangladeshi children in state schools were under-performing. The suggestion seemed to be that their faith was insufficiently recognised, and for this reason they were doing badly. One notes here the completely unscientific elision of religion and community. What was once the Bangladeshi community has suddenly become the Muslim community. Seen in this light, the problem becomes redefined as one of Islamophobia, not the translation of rural peoples to a Western metropolis; and the answer is redefined too - and it seems to be more good ol' religion.
One of my Guardian colleagues argued that Islamophobia was the new weapon for attacking faith schools. I would argue the opposite, that an abuse of the term 'Islamophobic' is becoming a new weapon for attacking those who want to see a non-denominational, equal education system.
The truth is that denominational schools are beginning to crowd out secular parents, or those whose first allegiance is not to religion. They increasingly find that their choices are circumscribed by religious-based schooling that they do not want. And it is making hypocrites of the others. As church attendance has fallen, so numbers of parents claiming to be church-goers has risen. Non-faith schools are robbed of kids whose presence would be so valuable, though it seems that the religious feel well able to do without the presence of the children of atheists.
What is going on here, I think, is an attempt to protect the young from modernity. Parents believe their kids are threatened by the materialism and immorality of other peoples' kids. One proselytiser for Muslim education who sends out letters to the media captures this very well. When there was a conviction for an 'honour killing' in London last autumn, this campaigner argued that the victim, killed by her father, 'was educated to be a Westernized woman, instead of a Muslim'. He added: 'Already there are more than 6,000 Muslim teenager girls in the custody of the social services, a product of the mis-education and de-education by state schools. Muslim youth are involved in drugs, prostitution, abandoning families, abortion and high rate of divorce.'
This is a social agenda, as much as a religious one. It was argued by a pro-faith school columnist that at least the two great faiths - Catholicism and Islam - permit equality to believers and co-religionists. But they don't. If they did there would be women priests and women imams. My fear is that this emphasis on faith schooling is an attempt, albeit unconscious - to return us to the days before feminism, an attempt which affects all of us.
It's also a way of getting the male priests and mullahs back in. Last autumn, the Archbishop of Canterbury made a speech encouraging schools to hold their own communion and confirmation services. 'The church school,' he said, 'is a church. More is needed in terms of religion in schools than clergy visits and choral services in nearby churches.'
A church school is a church where the congregation is - as school-children are - captive. I've been asleep to this creeping indoctrination. I'm awake now.
EducationGuardian.co.uk © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004
By Abe Aamidor
June 15, 2004 As gay rights activists peacefully protested outside the Indiana Convention Center on Monday, the first of an estimated 10,000 "messengers" to the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting began arriving in town.
On the agenda for the Nashville, Tenn.-based Southern Baptists, who number 16 million nationally, is the expected withdrawal from the more liberal Baptist World Alliance, as well as competing resolutions dealing with Christian education. One proposed resolution, which hasn't been approved by the resolutions committee, calls on all Southern Baptists to abandon "government schools" in favor of Christian education or home schooling.
A competing resolution, also not recommended, states that public schools are "mission fields" to spread Christianity and that children may continue attending them.
Dr. R. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, said the Southern Baptists' split from the Virginia-based Baptist World Alliance is because of "fundamental theological issues," such as ordination of women and an allegedly tepid anti-abortion stance.
More contentious is the debate about education, mirroring a controversy several years ago when the convention called for a boycott of Disney theme parks after the company instituted benefits for same-sex couples. The exact wording of the proposed home-schooling resolution is unavailable because it is confidential until brought to a vote, but previous media reports have suggested it condemns public education as "Godless."
The resolution will be brought to a vote by the entire assembly, which meets today and Wednesday, only if the committee recommends it. Any vote would be non-binding on the convention's 42,000 churches, which are considered autonomous.
Eugene White, superintendent of the Metropolitan School District of Washington Township, said some Christians are upset at public schools because prayer has been removed and creationism is not taught alongside the Darwinian theory of human evolution. Also at issue is that many schools allow gay student organizations.
Mohler did not dispute this.
"Southern Baptists are obviously concerned with the removal of prayer from the schools," he said. "But we're also very concerned about what is taught and what world views are presented."
Rick Payne, president of the Indiana Association of Home Educators, is not a Southern Baptist but said he is sympathetic to the home-schooling resolution. "There's no discipline" in public schools, Payne said. "The kids are out of control. Often, the subjects are taught from a very secular point of view." Meanwhile, about 50 protesters from the activist group Soulforce battled the heat outside the convention center, criticizing the church's denouncement of homosexual behavior. The group has launched a major effort to bring its nonviolent tactics to bear during the Southern Baptist gathering.
Soulforce, a Virginia group, draws on people of many faiths who believe God accepts gays and lesbians without reservation.
The group encourages the Southern Baptist denomination to be more welcoming to gays. The protest continues today and Wednesday.
Staff writer Seth Seymour contributed to this report. Call Star reporter Abe Aamidor at (317) 444-6472.
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
I am appalled at the attempts of certain members of the Dover Area School Board to block the adoption of a biology text which does not include "creationism." Despite the best efforts of a vocal group of fundamentalists to persuade us otherwise, the United States is not founded upon a Christian ethic. Read the actual text of the Constitution and you'll notice the conspicuous omission of God from the text. Our government is founded by the people, not divine authority.
Religious beliefs have no place in a public, government-funded classroom. Trying to include creationism, or "creation science" as the fundamentalists try to cloak it, is not science. Science is based on observable evidence, theory and strict testing. Creationism is nothing more than faith.
Church and state are meant to be kept separate in this country. In 1948, Justice Hugo Black wrote, "Separation is a requirement to abstain from fusing functions of Government and of religious sects, not merely to treat them all equally ... In no activity of the State is it more vital to keep out divisive forces than in its schools."
Perhaps the Dover Area School Board should read their Supreme Court decisions. In Edwards v. Aguillard, the Supreme Court states very clearly that teaching creationism in public schools — even when taught side-by-side with evolution — "endorses religion by advancing the religious belief that a supernatural being created humankind." They further state that teaching creationism alongside evolution "to prohibit the teaching of a scientific theory disfavored by certain religious sects" is a violation of the First Amendment.
We cannot continue to allow these evangelical reactionaries from trying to inject medieval notions of the creation of man into our classrooms. Our students learn little enough science as it is without trying to undo religious indoctrination about God's hand in the development of humankind.
Nation & World: Monday, June 14, 2004
By Paul Chavez
The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — High-resolution pictures taken by the Cassini spacecraft during a flyby of Saturn's largest outer moon suggest the banged-up rock hails from the outer reaches of the solar system, a mission scientist said yesterday.
Photographs released yesterday show shiny patches, probably ice, on the battered moon Phoebe, which is dotted with overlapping craters. The ice probably was excavated from under the moon's surface as objects struck Phoebe over the eons.
"My suspicion so far from what we've seen is that it's a body from the outer solar system," said Carolyn Porco, leader of the Cassini imaging team.
The internationally built Cassini spacecraft came within about 1,300 miles of the moon Friday as it prepares to enter a four-year orbit to study Saturn, its rings and 31 known moons.
The $3.3 billion plutonium-powered spacecraft, which is carrying 12 science instruments and a probe, transmitted hundreds of images and data that scientists will pore over to determine Phoebe's mass, density and composition.
The bright patches on Phoebe's surface are one indication it is an icy body, Porco said.
Phoebe and a few smaller outer moons also orbit Saturn in the opposite direction of the planet's inner moons.
"That alone marks it as a body that was probably captured in Saturn's orbit early in the life of the solar system," Porco said.
Up next for Cassini is a trajectory correction scheduled for Wednesday to bring the spacecraft into position to become a satellite June 30.
Cassini also carries the Huygens probe, which is supplied by the European Space Agency and carries six instruments. The probe is expected to land on the surface of Titan, Saturn's largest moon, in December.
Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company
Nessie's turned into a real recluse. The men from Mars no longer pay us flying visits. And the spooks have been spooked. Why have all the sightings dried up? Sean Thomas investigates the mysterious death of the paranormal
Monday June 14, 2004
Ghosts, Nessie, Bigfoot, "little silver men with menacing probes": there was a time we used to hear a lot about these various manifestations of the strange, spooky and suspect. But not any more. In the past few years there has been a spectacular market crash in many kinds of paranormal activity; somehow our world just isn't as weird as it was.
Take the Loch Ness Monster. Since the first modern sighting in 1933, Nessie-watchers have been able to rely on about 15-20 reported sightings a year, with occasional paranormal peaks of up to 40. This January the official Loch Ness Monster fan club admitted that in the preceding 18 months they had heard of a meagre three spottings. "There has been an unusually low number of sightings, all of which were made by local people," admits Gary Campbell, club president. "It appears that no tourists at all have seen anything unusual."
Then there's the slump in hauntings. Tony Cornell is a vice-president of the Society for Psychical Research, the UK's most prestigious ghost-busting association. Cornell has been investigating ghosts for 50 years but hasn't been using his £8,000 of poltergeist-detecting equipment of late. "The society used to get maybe 60 to 80 reports of ghosts in a year," he says. "Now we get none. None at all. A remarkable decline. It is still very strange."
But the starkest evidence for this general dwindling of weirdness probably comes with UFOs. Earlier this year, the UK's favourite flying saucer fanzine, UFO Magazine, folded due to declining sales. At the same time, Bufora, the top UK forum for skywatchers, ruefully admitted that UFO sightings have been in "steady decline" since the late 1990s. Most striking of all, the British Flying Saucer Bureau has suspended its activities, because the number of sightings has crashed from a peak of around 30 a week to almost zero. Denis Plunkett, the retired civil servant from Bristol who founded the bureau in 1953, says: "I am just as enthusiastic about flying saucers as I always was, but the problem is that we are in the middle of a long, long trough. There just aren't enough new sightings. It is not like being a philatelist. There is always something new to say about stamps."
This isn't just a British phenomenon. In Indiana in the US an amateur association of scientific ufologists known as Madar (multiple autonomy detection and automatic recording) has seen a steady and accelerating fall-off in UFO activity since the peaks of the mid-70s. Likewise, New Jersey's skywatchers have openly wondered whether to call it a day. Even the cold skies of northern Norway are bereft: "It's unexplainable," says Leif-Norman Solhaug, leader of Scandinavian skywatching society UFO Nord-Norge. "Maybe people are just fed up with the UFO hysteria."
So where has all the weirdness gone? One explanation that has been mooted, ironically, is the advance in detection-technology. Veteran Nessie-spotters, for instance, claim that hi-tech tourists with their videocams and fancy digital imaging, not to mention their whacking great SUVs parked hard by the loch, have made Nessie shy. The trouble with this theory is that it was the construction of a noisy new road beside Loch Ness in 1933 that led to the very first upsurge in Nessie sightings.
As for ghosts or the lack thereof, one theory is that the rampant spread of mobile phones is spooking the spooks. Cornell points out that the fall-off in hauntings has really gathered pace over the past five to 10 years, when cellphones have become ubiquitous. "Humans now occupy all of the electromagnetic spectrum. So maybe the ghosts, or whatever causes them, are suffering from interference." But he adds: "I personally believe the decline in hauntings may simply be because people haven't got time to see ghosts any more. These days people are always rushing around, playing computer games, surfing the net, and such activities aren't great for experiencing apparitions."
As for the dearth of UFOs, several theories have been put forward. Some blame global warming, others argue it is all a government and media conspiracy and that there are just as many as ever. More credibly, sociologists have asserted that sightings are linked to the media in a cyclical way. When TV and Hollywood are interested in UFOs, people will simply look at the sky a bit more: hence the increase in sightings at the time of the X Files, the Twilight Zone, and Close Encounters. Fewer extraterrestrial films and shows might explain our current lack of interest.
All the same, such a slump would presumably be short-term - yet ufology hasn't seen a crisis like this for 50 years. And we shouldn't forget that the paranormal "decline" is almost across the board. Could there consequently be a more global explanation?
That is certainly the view of the Fortean Times, the UK's leading magazine of the weird and unexplained. "It is probably the case that there has been a fall-off in reported paranormal activity," says a spokesman. "We think this may be because the ordinary world is so much more threatening, and interesting, than it was a few years ago. These days journalists have wars and atrocities to cover, so they aren't going to be chasing some old poltergeist down the road. This doesn't mean, of course, that there is less paranormality itself, just less coverage of it."
So it's all the media's doing? Not necessarily. Some believe 9/11 and the war on terrorism have seized the dark place in our minds once reserved for ghosts and bogeymen. Walter Furneaux, a clinical psychologist from Brunel University who specialises in the paranormal and parapsychology, says: "To the public the idea of the al-Qaida terrorist, is almost like an alien. We don't quite understand their culture, we don't quite know what they look like, they live far away, and they are a perceived threat, in a way perhaps we thought aliens could have been."
Some, however, see a bright side to all this, arguing that the apparent decline in the paranormal is linked to a decline in credulity; ie we are becoming less gullible. Others aren't so positive. Tessa Kendall is a member of Skeptics, a London association that analyses the paranormal. "Yes, there may have been a drop off in ghosts and monsters," she says, "but there's been a huge upsurge in conspiracy theories; people are more paranoid and wary than ever. So this is, perhaps, how people are now expressing their innermost fears."
The upshot? The next time you see a headless man in the hall,
or a cow being taken to Mars, be thankful. It means things may,
at last, be getting back to normal.
Source: Humana Inc.
Monday June 14, 10:14 am ET
The Dr. Sam Show draws in listeners with engaging stories and lively discussion about health topics
LOUISVILLE, Ky., June 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Samuel Benjamin, M.D., corporate medical director for integrative health strategies for Humana and a noted expert in the field of complementary health and medicine is bringing his radio program, "The Dr. Sam Show" to the airwaves in Kansas City, MO on 980 KMBZ-AM. His show is heard on Saturdays from 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. (Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20030425/HUMANALOGO )
The "Dr. Sam Show" is a lively call-in program currently heard five days a week in the morning on KFNX-AM in Phoenix. During the hour-long program, Dr. Benjamin addresses a variety of health topics ranging from dietary supplements and herbal remedies to the latest medical research and current health issues. While Dr. Benjamin does not give medical advice to radio listeners, he does provide general information to them on how to understand the health care system and use it effectively.
"Guidance when you need it most is more than a motto for Dr. Benjamin. He embodies that philosophy during his radio show and in the information he shares with his listeners," said Debbie Smith, president of Humana's Kansas/Missouri market. "We're very excited that consumers in the Kansas City area have the opportunity to hear him and become better informed, better educated about their health care."
"Sam Benjamin's expertise in complementary and alternative health, his knowledge of the health care industry, and his engaging style draws in listeners to his show," said Neil Larrimore, Program Director at KMBZ-AM.
Dr. Benjamin is no stranger to the radio airwaves. While serving as a clinical associate professor and director of the Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) at State University of New York at the Stony Brook School of Medicine, he hosted a radio show on CAM-related topics on WOR-AM in New York City.
He developed and ran the Arizona Center for Health Medicine for Catholic Healthcare West -- a mainstream CAM clinical site. Dr. Benjamin serves on the editorial board of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. He has co- authored a book on alternative medicine for the American Hospital Association and is a frequent lecturer and writer about CAM nationally.
A native of New York City, Dr. Benjamin received his medical degree from the University of Guadalajara, Mexico and State University of New York. He completed his residency at Montefiore Hospital and Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in NYC.
In addition to his academic credentials and expertise in the CAM industry, Dr. Benjamin is a pediatrician and has worked in urban and rural Mexico. He is also fluent in Spanish.
More information about the Dr. Sam Show is available at http://www.drsamshow.com.
Humana Inc., headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, is one of the nation's largest publicly traded health benefits companies, with approximately 7 million medical members located primarily in 19 states and Puerto Rico. Humana offers coordinated health insurance coverage and related services -- through traditional and Internet-based plans -- to employer groups, government-sponsored plans, and individuals.
More information regarding Humana is available via the Internet at
JUNE 12, 2004
As manufacturers boost exports, they are also adapting processes to meet strict Western standards
By Tschang Chi-chu
DONG E COUNTY (Shandong) - Mr Liu Weizhi is optimistic that chocolate-coloured Chinese medicine brewed from donkey skin will sell well overseas.
His company, Shandong Dong E E Jiao, opened a sales office in Malaysia earlier this year, its first outside China.
China's largest manufacturer of 'donkey-hide gelatin', or e jiao, plans to open a second overseas sales office in Germany in the coming months and also expand into Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Taiwan.
'We are in the midst of an upsurge of growing acceptance for natural medicine around the world. Everybody knows that there are a lot of side effects from medicine synthesised from chemicals,' said Mr Liu, the company's chairman.
A growing number of traditional Chinese pharmaceutical companies such as Dong E E Jiao have been setting up subsidiaries and joint ventures outside China, as the government's efforts to promote this 'national treasure' overseas begins to bear fruit.
Western doctors have traditionally been sceptical about the efficacy of Chinese medicine because the principles it is based on are different from that of Western science.
For example, Chinese medical pharmacopoeia dating back more than 2,000 years describe a gelatin, made by boiling donkey skin, for supplementing 'yin' deficiencies in blood.
Dong E E Jiao grew rich by making this gelatin, which is used by Chinese women to ward off illnesses and keep their skin healthy.
In recent years, there has been a growing interest in alternative medicine, including Chinese medicine, in Europe and the United States.
A study by the National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine last month found that 36 per cent of American adults used some form of complementary and alternative medicine, including Chinese herbal medicine.
'What most people in Asia do not realise is that what has been received in the West, what has been spread as so-called 'traditional Chinese medicine', has very little to do with Chinese medicine as it developed over the past 2,000 years,' Dr Paul Unschuld, director of the Institute for the History of Medicine at Munich University told The Straits Times.
Chinese doctors have been using herbal and animal remedies to cure patients since the Tang dynasty more than a thousand years ago.
However, the concept of 'traditional Chinese medicine' was invented only in the past 50 years after the Communist Party of China came to power.
It promoted Chinese medicine throughout the centrally planned economy as the 'medicine of the people' after weeding out its superstitious and 'unscientific' elements.
Traditional medicine plays an integral part in China's health-care system even today, accounting for almost 40 per cent of total health-care services, according to the Institute of Science in Society.
The companies that manufactured the medicine were state-owned enterprises set up mostly by local governments.
Dong E E Jiao's plant, for instance, was set up by the Liaocheng municipal government in 1952 to 'serve the people' and provide a safe, affordable 'donkey-hide gelatin' alternative to that made by villagers.
The state-owned pharmaceutical manufacturers had a ready-made market in state-run hospitals.
Each hospital was attached to a 'dan wei' or work unit, which fed it a steady supply of patients.
But as hospitals are spun off by state-owned enterprises or lose their government funding, patients have gained the freedom to choose between Chinese and Western medicine.
A growing number of wealthier, younger patients choose Western rather than Chinese medicine. They consider the latter more appropriate for peasants.
That, along with the growing alternative medicine market in the West, is why Beijing Tong Ren Tang is expanding overseas and has set up branches in 12 countries, including one in Singapore in March, said the company general manager Ding Yongling.
In the past five years, pharmaceutical companies have thrown off the shackles of the centrally planned economy that restrained export growth and begun expanding outside China.
Limited quantities of Chinese medicine have always been made available to overseas Chinese communities in South-east Asia and other parts of the world.
Under the centrally planned economy, all exports were channelled through a state-owned foreign trading company, so every month, Dong E E Jiao would allocate a certain quota for Shandong Medical and Health Care Product Trade to sell in overseas markets.
'These foreign trade companies are too small to develop the pharmaceutical market overseas. Moreover, they won't think about how to develop the market over the long term,' said Mr Liu Zhanglin, director of the Chinese medicine division, China Chamber of Commerce of Medicines & Health Products Importers & Exporters.
'But companies are different. They'll think about everything from how to research and develop new products to what their price should be. They need to think about these things to develop the market over the long term.'
After Beijing Tong Ren Tang set up its own trading company in 1993, its export revenues soared 10-fold to nearly US$20 million (S$34.3 million) last year. It is now the No. 1 traditional medicine exporter.
The Chinese pharmaceutical companies' export strategy is to expand first into South-east Asia, where there is a sizeable Chinese population.
Then, proceed to enter the European and the American markets, which impose stricter regulations on the import of traditional medicines.
'Europe and America's economies are so developed and their populations aren't small either,' noted Mr Li Chuyuan, a factory manager at Guangzhou Baiyunshan Pharmaceutical. 'How can we not develop these markets?'
Guangzhou Baiyunshan signed a memorandum of understanding with Hutchison Whampoa last month to set up a joint venture.
It plans to use Hutchison Whampoa's Park N Shop, Watsons and Savers and Kruidvat retail outlets to sell its products in Asia and Europe.
The biggest obstacle to traditional Chinese medicine in the West is the tougher regulatory standards.
Most Chinese medicine currently do not meet the regulatory standards of the American and European authorities.
Those standards require proof of efficacy and safety of the medicine in laboratory studies.
As a result, Chinese medicine is often imported as food products instead of drugs.
'This is the hurdle and it is all related to money, unfortunately big money, because it's expensive to conduct these studies,' said Mr Thomas Henkel, the head of Enabling Technologies at Bayer HealthCare.
However, the Chinese pharmaceutical companies expanding overseas are game to play by the rules in the West and scientifically prove that their medicine works.
Dong E E Jiao has already invested 150 million yuan (S$31 million) in research and development to analyse the chemical composition of donkey-hide gelatin.
Mr Liu expects to invest another 300 million yuan before seeing any results from the research.
'There's this huge contradiction because the Chinese, in developing Chinese medicine over the past 50 years, have only emphasised the scientific aspects of it,' said Ms Kim Taylor, author of the book Chinese Medicine In Early Communist China, 1945-1963: A Medicine Of Revolution, which will be released in October.
'They really do want it to perform on the frontiers of science. They want it to be on par with Western medicine.
'But on the other hand, it sells better in the West if they advertise the history of it.'
Copyright @ 2004 Singapore Press Holdings.