Designer babies: an ethical horror waiting to happen?
...Most countries have not yet legislated on genetic modification in human reproduction, but of those that have, all have banned it. The idea of using Crispr-Cas9 for human reproduction is largely rejected in principle by the medical research community. A team of scientists warned in Nature less than two years ago that genetic manipulation of the germ line (sperm and egg cells) by methods like Crispr-Cas9, even if focused initially on improving health, “could start us down a path towards non-therapeutic genetic enhancement”.
Besides, there seems to be little need for gene editing in reproduction. It would be a difficult, expensive and uncertain way to achieve what can mostly be achieved already in other ways, particularly by just selecting an embryo that has or lacks the gene in question. “Almost everything you can accomplish by gene editing, you can accomplish by embryo selection,” says bioethicist Henry Greely of Stanford University in California.
Because of unknown health risks and widespread public distrust of gene editing, bioethicist Ronald Green of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire says he does not foresee widespread use of Crispr-Cas9 in the next two decades, even for the prevention of genetic disease, let alone for designer babies. However, Green does see gene editing appearing on the menu eventually, and perhaps not just for medical therapies. “It is unavoidably in our future,” he says, “and I believe that it will become one of the central foci of our social debates later in this century and in the century beyond.” He warns that this might be accompanied by “serious errors and health problems as unknown genetic side effects in ‘edited’ children and populations begin to manifest themselves”...
Europe in deep freeze, over 60 dead as new Arctic blast arrives
More than 60 people have died in Europe since the beginning of the month when cold Arctic airmass started descending south, toward the Mediterranean. The most vulnerable, and many of the victims, are homeless and migrants. The temperatures are expected to somewhat ease up over the next couple of days in parts of the region, but the weather is expected to further deteriorate by the end of the week. There are fears thousands of people could die before the winter ends...
With Obama’s Approval, Russia Selling 130 Tons of Uranium to Iran
...The announcement of the new shipment is seen as one more last-minute jab from the Obama White House at incoming President Trump, who probably would have vetoed the shipment, even though, according to US diplomats speaking to the Associated Press
and Fox News
, the amount of uranium is within what’s allowable under the 2015 deal
. Republican lawmakers have almost uniformly opposed that nuclear deal, arguing it awarded Iran too many concessions. The same lawmakers – which included the current Democratic Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (NY) – also argued the deal does not provide reliable verifications of Iran’s compliance.
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Last month the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned that at current production levels Iran is going to exceed its cap on low-enriched uranium. Also, just a few days before the IAEA sounded the alarm, President Hassan Rouhani ordered Iran’s nuclear agency to develop nuclear engines that would use uranium enriched to 20 percent – a clear violation of the 2015 deal allowing Iran to enrich only to 3.67 percent...
Thousands of Muslims reportedly turning to Christ in Middle East
...Voice Of the Martyrs Canada, which supports Christian radio broadcasts in the region, told BosNewsLife
that despite the mass exodus of Christians from Iraq and Syria due to terrorism, persecution, and war, scores of Muslims are making the decision to embrace Christianity.
"There are thousands upon thousands coming to Christ," VOMC revealed. "We are in regular contact with our FM stations in Iraq and have talked with many people who have family in the Middle East."
"Some of our Middle Eastern broadcasters have shared testimonies [about many turning to Christ] with us, which they hear directly from listeners when visiting there ..."...
The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Hardest to Be a Christian
The findings and trends
noted by Open Doors are stark:
Another 5,000 Jews quit France for Israel
- Approximately 215 million Christians experience high, very high, or extreme persecution.
- North Korea remains the most dangerous place to be a Christian (for 14 straight years).
- Islamic extremism remains the global dominant driver of persecution, responsible for initiating oppression and conflict in 35 out of the 50 countries on the 2017 list.
- Ethnic nationalism is fast becoming a major driver of persecution. “While this took an anti-establishment form in the West, in Asia it took an anti-minorities form, fueled by dramatic religious nationalism and government insecurity. It is common—and easy—for tottering governments to gain quick support by scapegoating Christians.”
- The total number of persecution incidents in the top 50 most dangerous countries increased, revealing the persecution of Christians worldwide as a rising trend.
- The most violent: Pakistan, which rose to No. 4 on the list for a level of violence “exceeding even northern Nigeria.”
- The killings of Christians in Nigeria saw an increase of more than 62 percent.
- The killings of Christians were more geographically dispersed than in most time periods studied. “Hitting closer to home, 23 Christian leaders in Mexico and four in Colombia were killed specifically for their faith,” said Open Doors of the “rare” event.
- The worst increase: Mali, which moved up the most places on the list from No. 44 to No. 32.
- Asia is a new center of concern, with persecution rising sharply in Bangladesh, Laos, and Bhutan, and Sri Lanka joining the list for the first time.
...The 5,000 departures in 2016 add to the record 7,900 who left in 2015 and 7,231 in 2014. In total, 40,000 French Jews have emigrated since 2006, according to figures seen by AFP.
"The aliyah (the act of moving to Israel) of French Jews has been significant over the last decade," Benhaim told AFP.
The French Jewish community is the biggest in Europe and is thought to number around 500,000 people...
As Venezuelans Go Hungry, The Military Is Trafficking In Food
...In Venezuela, food has become so scarce it's now being sold on the black market. One person tells the Associated Press, "it's a better business than drugs."
And the food traffickers are the very people sworn to protect Venezuela: the nation's military.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro gave the military complete control of the food supply last summer, after people began protesting in the streets over food rationing. Shortages had become so bad that people were even ransacking grocers — though many were largely empty...