You searched for index.html » Page 45 of 45 | Acton PowerBlog

Jordan Ballor writes about the ethical and moral implications of creating genetic chimeras. Ballor comments on a recent New York Times editorial promoting chimera research, calling their thinking "scientific pragmatism" and criticizing the general lack of understanding of both human nature and athropology. "The creation of new kinds of chimeras, using manipulation at the cellular and sub-cellular level, raises the stakes considerably," writes Ballor about the level of public controversy involved with chimera research thus far. Pursuing further research without adhering to an objective set of moral and ethical guidelines could have a devastating effect on our humanity.

Ballor has written about chimeras on this blog before.

Read the full text here.

Blog author: jspalink
posted by on Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visits Yasukuni Shrine.

Japan’s wartime atrocities have long been a source of tension and anger among various east Asian nations. Failure to admit guilt and continued veneration of wartime "heroes," many of whom are convicted war-criminals, cause diplomatic stress between nations even today.

In fact there is speculation that Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi abruptly left Japan before meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi yesterday because of Koizumi’s stated intent to visit Yasukuni Shrine again this year. An article in The Japan Times today states:

Speculation immediately grew that China may have canceled the meeting because of Koizumi’s remark last week that he may go ahead with another contentious visit to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, which enshrines the nation’s war dead as well as 14 class-A war criminals.

The New History Textbook published by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform.

Koizumi’s intended visit to Yasukuni comes at an already tense time as anti-Japanese protests have been occuring in China due to the approval of the New History Textbook (新しい歴史教科書) published by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform. (An English version of controversial chapters is available from their website as a PDF file).

Chinese outrage is caused primarily by the textbook’s lack of attention directed to various events which occurred during wartime occupation of China. In particular the textbook provides one paragraph about the “Rape of Nanking,” an event which has been described as “the single worst atrocity during the World War II era in either the European or Pacific theaters of war” by the United Human Rights Council and “one of the worst massacres in modern times” by the BBC.

The New History Textbook has this to say about the Nanking Massacre, and NOTHING more:

Japanese military officials thought Chiang Kai-shek would surrender if they captured Nanking, the Nationalist capital; they occupied that city in December.* But Chiang Kai-shek had moved his capital to the remote city of Chongqing. The conflict continued.

A footnote reads as follows:

Note*: At this time, many Chinese soldiers and civilians were killed or wounded by Japanese troops (the Nanking Incident). Documentary evidence has raised doubts about the actual number of victims claimed by the incident. The debate continues even today.

The lack of any kind of detail provided is competely offensive, especially to the countries which suffered during the war. A BBC story which details some of the more gruesome accounts from the massacre states:

Based on estimates made by historians and charity organizations in the city at the time, between 250,000 and 300,000 people were killed, many of them women and children.

The number of women raped was said by Westerners who were there to be 20,000, and there were widespread accounts of civilians being hacked to death.

Yet many Japanese officials and historians deny there was a massacre on such a scale.

While the end of World War II is now almost 60 years in the past, perhaps there is still time to acknowledge the atrocities that occurred. We cannot learn from history if we deny that it ever happened, or that we ever participated. What occurred in China should be mourned by the Japanese, remembered as an example of what not to do, and forgiven.

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Tuesday, May 17, 2005

In a row over the Freedom of Information Act, Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s administration has finally acknowledged expense information first requested by media outlets nearly two years ago. According to the Detroit Free Press, documents were turned over last month, “But in dozens of instances, pages were missing, or information on the city-supplied records was blacked out.”

Now that the Free Press has obtained unedited and complete copies of the records, comparison of the two sets of papers shows, “The information blacked out on records the city provided frequently dealt with Kilpatrick’s spending while out of town,” and, “More than a dozen documents dealing with the Kilpatrick administration and his family’s spending at hotels were not included with what the city turned over to the newspaper. Those documents were included in Harris’ unedited records.”

Poor bookkeeping practices, disputes of charges, and reimbursements were cited by Kilpatrick for the delay in making the documents public. Here’s an example of the kinds of charges made on Kilpatrick’s city-issued credit card:

In January 2003, when Kilpatrick went to Washington for the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ winter meeting, the city was billed for 36 hours of chauffeur service during the 62 hours Kilpatrick spent in the capital, according to detailed receipts obtained from the auditor.

The total cost to taxpayers was $3,837.60. City officials blacked out all but $135.15 of those charges from the mayor’s credit card statement and pulled receipts before providing documents to the newspaper. Beatty said the city is disputing those charges, too, and did not provide documentation.

For more about the rude reception an investigative reporter received when following Kilpatrick to a recent mayors’ convention, see this post.

For my take on proposals like Kilpatrick’s “fast-food tax,” see this op-ed from Sunday’s Oakland Press (PDF).

And for other mayorial mischief, see these two pieces (here and here) on Grand Rapids mayor George Heartwell’s contention that his position deserves a raise to $85,000 per year, more than double the current salary.

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Tuesday, May 17, 2005

My more detailed response to last week’s NYT editorial defending chimera research is posted over at WorldMagBlog.

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Thursday, May 12, 2005

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has found a new way to get the word out about its efforts. Food Force is a free downloadable video game (for the PC and Mac) designed by the WFP, in which the users will “Play the game, learn about food aid, and help WFP work towards a world without hunger.”

Within the context of the fictional nation of Sheylan, the player embarks on a series of missions intended to give users a feel for the way in which the WFP does business.

A noble goal.

The overall goal of the WFP in fighting hunger is a noble one, and worthy of a great deal of public attention. While many flashier issues dominate global media coverage, hunger problems represent a true and dangerous threat to millions of people daily. And the good news is that there are real, achievable policies and actions available that could have incredibly positive effects.

The Copenhagen Consensus 2004, which brought together world-renowned experts in a variety of fields, determined that the challenge of malnutrition and hunger represented one of the key areas of potential action. The opportunity of providing micronutrients was ranked by a panel of expert economists as second only to the control of HIV/AIDS in the prioritization of responses to global threats.

According to the panel, “Reducing the prevalence of iron-deficiency anaemia by means of food supplements, in particular, has an exceptionally high BCR (benefit-cost ratio).” In this respect, the WFP Food Force does a good job of emphasizing the nutritional value of food, as one of the six tasks in the game is come up with a formula for food rations that maximizes both economic and nutritional value. (more…)

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Fast Food Tax Redux

As I alerted you to more than three weeks ago, Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has proposed a 2% tax on fast food restaurants, in a vain attempt to cover the city’s fiscal woes. Here’s a sneak preview to this week’s ANC feature, “The Flawed Fast Food Tax,” in which I conclude:

As a rule, governments should not seek quick and temporary fixes to structural budget problems. Sin taxes like the fast food tax are quick fixes that would have serious economic and moral consequences. Government leaders really ought to address their own appetite for spending tax dollars before they try to regulate the appetites of their constituents.

Read the full text here.

As was noted in an earlier post, talk-radio host and friend of the Acton Institute Laura Ingraham was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Her website is now reporting some promising news following her most recent surgery:

This afternoon, Laura went back into surgery for a further “cleaning of the margins” around the original breast tumor. Dr. Katherine Alley excised a few more millimeters of tissue, and she drained the recurrent “golfball” (Laura’s term, not Dr. Alley’s) of liquid that had formed around the earlier lymph node incision. Laura is at home “resting” comfortably. No pull-ups for Laura for at least a few weeks. Thanks to all of you for the prayers and good wishes. Keep ‘em coming!

Laura continues to be in our thoughts and prayers.

There are some problems in parts of the charity sector. The problems are with charities that HAVE enough money to scam somebody or shift an inappropriate perk to a board member. There’s not much talk about the charities that never saw that kind of resource and never will. Government officials always think that more regulation is the answer, but it’s scary when the private sector supports that link. Six of America’s major foundations have financed Electronic Data for Nonprofits (EDIN) within the Independent Sector, advocating accurate and timely charity reports. And IRS forms are appropriate financial reporting tools, even for smaller charities. But financial reporting is not the “litmus test” of program information, as the EDIN project advocates. Good charity is more than money.

It’s not the appropriate role of government to even infer legitimate charity donations. The legitimate function of IRS forms is financial transparency of organizations that operate as Exempt Organizations. To think that the IRS is “needed” for anything beyond that role demeans donors. Private financial sources such as Charity Navigator and GuideStar already give donors significant financial information beyond IRS forms. Donors are asking good questions through groups like Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and Center for Effective Philanthropy. They might be fooled by bad charities–big or small–for a time. But charity donors using market principles that made their money will fare better than the charity donors that abdicate to more government regulation.