Resolve stem-cell ethics
Advances in medical technology are outpacing our society's ability to adapt to them.
For weeks, President Bush has struggled with a difficult decision: Whether to federally fund stem-cell research. Federal funding would speed medical breakthroughs that could end the suffering of millions of Americans.
Complicating Bush's decision was the announcement last week that Virginia scientists have created human embryos in the laboratory, solely to harvest their stem cells.
While the effort was funded privately, that does not excuse the fact that this approach is inherently unethical. It's one thing to utilize embryos from infertility clinics that would never be implanted anyway. It's something else entirely to create a human embryo in a petri dish, specifically to harvest its stem cells.
Clearly, the president should steer federal funding toward research on adult stem cells. Embryonic stem-cell research should not be funded with tax dollars until the long-term ethical implications are fully resolved.
Not worth the risk
Danger from oil and gas drilling off the Florida Panhandle hits closer to home with talk of additional oil exploration in the Big Cypress National Preserve.
Though limited oil drilling has been going on there for a half-century, the idea of as many as 30,000 tiny test holes for more is cause for concern. The pressure to expand full-fledged drilling is bound to increase with each seismic test that comes up positive.
At a public hearing in Naples last week, officials of the National Park Service and a sportsmen's group were supportive of the tests, while most others took a wait-and-see approach.
The fact remains that our ecosystem is unique - and Big Cypress is very much a part of that. It is, after all, a national preserve.
... Water, which could be fouled by an oil accident, flows through Big Cypress on its way to the Everglades, which is undergoing an important and costly restoration.
There are other oil-producing areas in the country eager to step up and profit from hosting a larger role in America's strategic reserve of fuel.
As long as there are other options, further oil explorations in Big Cypress as well as off Florida's coast are not worth the risk. ...
Naples Daily News,
Cameras in police cars
Considering the seeming or real proliferation of citizen complaints about racial profiling, the Seattle City Council's unanimous decision to experiment with video cameras in police cars comes none too soon.
The third and most credible set of eyes - to be provided via non-stop electronic surveillance - promises to discount or prove allegations from minority communities that police are stopping people of color solely because they are not white.
Whatever the cameras show after the one-year trial period, city officials will have the knowledge they need to move forward responsibly.
At this juncture, most citizens are justifiably unsure who's telling the truth and, given the latest incident of alleged racial profiling, concern is certainly not limited to the way white officers and black citizens are interacting.
... While video cameras are not tailor-made for every situation - an obvious shortcoming is the restricted field of view - they are still the best option available at this point to determine whose reality is most valid. Activating the cameras in police cars dedicated to patrol duty - whether routine, traffic or driving Under the Influence - is also sensible because that's how officers most often come into contact with the public.
No longer than a year should elapse before the council receives a report detailing what the cameras captured. The return on this $205,000 investment promises to be invaluable.
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