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News in brief by artificial intelligence using Quillbot Summarizer

Human genetic engineering is coming. We must discuss the social and political implications nowtheglobeandmail6 May 2022 (LINK)

CRISPR is on the verge of altering human history. We must discuss the social and political implications now. The ability to edit genes with surgical precision is a scientific discovery on par with nuclear fission. It is seductive to our darkest impulses. He Jiankui, known to his international colleagues as JK, is a scientist who was well-respected in the American gene editing community, but pushed the boundaries by gene-editing on an embryo. He was sentenced to three years in prison for "illegal medical practice". Author says he has empathy for JK because of the culture of the scientific community.

JK knew that the birth of gene edited human babies would shock the world. The fact that we edit human embryos should make it obvious that implanting those embryos is the anticipated next step. Gene editing is an ethical abyss: Unborn children cannot give consent; you need consent from those involved. In JK's case, he deluded himself into thinking he had consensus to proceed with his experiment. He was unable to confirm that the genetic changes made in embryos resulted in immunity to HIV.

He altered genes that will be passed down from generation to generation. JK had tacit support from the Chinese government for his work, but when it became scandalous they turned on him. The social and political implications of gene editing are also huge unknowns. There's been scant debate among policy makers and the general public. Human genetic engineering will become an unfathomably profitable industry in the coming decades.

Scientists need to approach their work with a more holistic lens. I often wonder how discoveries, and the world that they foster, would look if EQ was valued as much as IQ. Pushing one's way to the front of the line is not a sign of high EQ, but that's the culture of science. But it makes for a successful scientist. 282 words: original 2643.

Could Humans Grow Food During a Nuclear Winter?discovermagazine7 May 2022 (LINK)

Researchers examined 247 wild, edible plants and chose 33 that could hold farming or foraging potential in post-nuclear war conditions. Plant categories include fruits, leafy vegetables, seeds and nuts, roots, spices, sweets and proteins. Those that offered greatest potential for large-scale cultivation included palm weevils and cassava root.

Baobab trees hold water that remains drinkable indefinitely, their fruits are nutritious and storable, and you can eat their leaves and roots. Daniel Winstead hopes to increase awareness of WEPs (wild edible plants) so we can use them responsibly — both now and in a potential catastrophic future. 135 words: original 1089.

Who's Cashing in on the War in Ukraine? Fossil Fuel Firms and Agricultural Traderscommondreams7 May 2022 (LINK)

Coal companies and offshore drilling services have seen a 42% increase in market value. Agricultural commodity traders have also seen 10% growth in market capitalization, profiting hugely from instability and rising commodity prices. Alternative fuels companies have seen their market value grow by 38% in the past two months. Green energy firms have environmental and social costs, such as heavy deforestation to meet demand for palm oil. Governments must play a larger role in directly investing in renewables, rather than relying on equity markets. 97 words: original 668.

Large Hadron Collider experiment investigates neutrino's minuscule massspace7 May 2022 (LINK)

Neutrinos, or "ghost particles," are subatomic particles similar to electrons but with no electrical charge and a minuscule, near-zero mass. The neutrino has such little mass that scientists throughout history have suggested it might have no mass at all. This experiment was conducted to try and answer the question of why the neutrino has such a small mass. Neutrinos would need to be their own antimatter particles, called Majorana particles.Researchers have found no evidence of Majorana neutrinos in collisions between 2016 and 2018. The data helped them to set new limits on the model. 64 words: original 528.

Kids Are Falling for Misinformation Like Never Beforefatherly5 May 2022 (LINK)

32% of 7- to 9-year-olds are on social media, where misinformation spreads like wildfire. Misinformation manipulates children's emotions and increases their risk of spreading conspiracy theories. It puts their health at risk. About 90% of teens use social media, and more than half check their social media daily.

Fake news is 70% more likely to be retweeted on Twitter than real news. Misinformation is leading children to not want to get vaccinated, an expert says. Misleading stories and posts around the efficacy and safety of the COVID vaccine in kids may have created public distrust. More than 60% of children have become distrusting of the media. Children may feel alienated for their views or may be picked on for following unpopular advice.

Adolescents aren't too concerned about where they get their news, a study found. Parents can take steps to limit the misinformation that reaches their kids on social media. AI algorithms used in social media prioritize highly shared content over quality information from government and health agencies. Small Humans is Mashable's series on how to take care of – and deal with – the kids in your life. Learning to identify the signs of misinformation could help prevent a future generation of fake news. "Every single one of us has a responsibility to take action," Owens says. 225 words: original 1751.

US Supreme Court may overturn abortion law, leak suggestsbbc3 May 2022 (LINK)

US Supreme Court could be about to overturn the nationwide legal right to abortion, according to leaked draft of a court document. Abortion would be illegal in 22 US states if Roe v Wade decision is overturned. Pro-choice and anti-abortion supporters protested outside the Supreme Court on Monday night. It would pave the way for individual states to ban the procedure altogether, or place more restrictions on it. The document is marked as a "1st Draft" and was circulated in February.

The leak will likely see a full-blown investigation, involving the FBI, to unmask the source. There were about 630,000 reported abortions in the US in 2019, an 18% decrease compared with 2010. 113 words: original 824.

Strengthening press freedom at home and abroad: 10 recommendations for the world's democraciesipi2 May 2022 (LINK)

On World Press Freedom Day 2022, IPI offers 10 recommendations for what democratic governments must do to better protect press freedom at home and around the world.

States should abolish antiquated laws that are used to punish journalists.

National security and anti-terrorism laws must be narrowly drawn so as not to have a chilling effect on journalism. Lawmakers should conduct robust human rights due diligence before developing new regulations that could affect press freedom. Democracies should refrain from passing laws or regulations that restrict freedom of expression and information online. States should instead invest in long-term defense mechanisms against disinformation and propaganda. Even in democracies, the surveillance state is growing.

This carries serious repercussions for critical journalism and gives cover to even more draconian surveillance. Democratic states should adopt rigorous human rights safeguards protecting journalists and civil society from unlawful or arbitrary surveillance. These safeguards should be grounded in clear and transparent legal and regulatory frameworks. Douglas Rushkoff: Governments must bolster their support for international and multilateral bodies, mechanisms, and treaties that form the bedrock of freedom of expression rights. Governments must work closely with civil society groups to ensure that public policies are in line with free expression commitments. Failure of democratic governments to adopt a consistent foreign policy undermines the credibility of efforts to support independent journalism elsewhere, argues Simon Tisdall. 196 words: original 1923.

Earth's degraded land at 'breaking point': UN expert warnsafp / straitstimes2 May 2022 (LINK)

Land, water, climate, biodiversity - they are all thoroughly interconnected. Restoring land to its natural state can help put that carbon back where it belongs. Restoring land is also fighting poverty and irregular immigration. The latest Global Land Outlook report calls for US$1.6 trillion (S$2.2 trillion) for land restoration. Renewed investment in land restoration makes sense from every angle - economic, business, socially and environmentally. We are destroying the planet in one generation, and we don't have three generations to fix it, says UNFCCC co-chair Tom Nesbitt. 85 words: original 556.

Family of 'Hotel Rwanda' hero sues Rwandan government for kidnapping and torturenpr1 May 2022 (LINK)

Paul Rusesabagina saved more than 1,200 people during Rwanda's genocide. He is best known for his heroism in 1994 as the manager of the Hôtel des Mille Collines in Kigali. His family is suing the government of Rwanda for $400 million. Humanitarian Pierre Rusesabagina was sentenced to 25 years in prison in September 2021. He co-founded the opposition Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change. His trial was criticized by Human Rights Watch and the U.S. 84 words: original 466.

'Lungs Of The Mediterranean' At Riskbarrons1 May 2022 (LINK)

Seagrass spans Mediterranean seabed from Cyprus to Spain, sucking in carbon and curbing water acidity. Growing at a depth of up to 50 meters (165 feet), the underwater grass provides critical shelter for fish. But rampant pollution, illegal fishing and overfishing are threatening its future. Seagrass meadows have been slashed by more than half in Tunisia's eastern coast. Fishing makes up 13 percent of Tunisia's GDP, and nearly 40 percent of it is done around the meadows.

"The sea has been destroyed," says fisherman Mazen Magdiche. Seagrass provides a key erosion buffer for Tunisia's beaches. Some 44 percent of beaches are already at risk of being washed away. The aquatic plant also improves the quality of water, making the beaches more attractive for tourists. It is critical carbon-capture role for the heating planet. 133 words: original 846.

Allowing 'The Lungs of Europe' (Belarus) to breathe againundp1 May 2022 (LINK)

Belarus is known for its primeval forests and wetlands, which cover nearly half the country. Hundreds of thousands of hectares of peatlands have been drained for peat extraction and agriculture. Peat bogs can store on average 10 times more carbon per hectare even than forests. The restoration of the Halaje peatland has stopped fires, greenhouse gas emissions and improved biodiversity and air quality. The successful methods used are now widely copied in Belarus and other countries in the region. A law specifically protecting peatlands is expected to take effect in 2019. 91 words: original 575.

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