Wednesday, September 20, 2006

What is Cultural Heritage?

Teenage Pregnancy Issues

Corruption Issues

This is a PDF file. It might be long, but at least have a look at it to find out a little about what corruption is all about.

Part time Issues

Smoking Issue

Monday, September 18, 2006

Animal Extinction

Stress management

Click the link below to find out general stress management tips:

Stress management for college students:

Healthy Lifestyle

Tips on what to do to have a healthy lifestyle

Effective Leadership

Child Safety Awareness

Click on the link below to find out on the issue on children safety awareness:

Click the link below the find out more in personal safety awareness:

Family Values

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Teen Drug Abuse

Bullying Behavior

The link below consists of resources relates to bullying in school. Browse through the website to learn more about the issue.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Co-educational School - General information of the different types of school systems.

Below is a link that you can access to find out more about the different types of school systems:

TV Commercials - more information

Frequency and length
TV commercials appear between shows, but also interrupt the shows at intervals. This method of screening commercials is intended to capture or grab the attention of the audience, keeping the viewers focused on the television show so that they will not want to change the channel; instead, they will (hopefully) watch the commercials while waiting for the next segment of the show. This is a technique of adding suspense, especially if the break occurs at a cliffhanger moment in the show.

Entire industries exist that focus solely on the task of keeping the viewing audience interested enough to sit through commercials. The Nielsen ratings system exists as a way for stations to determine how successful their television shows are, so that they can decide what rates to charge advertisers for their commercial airtime.

Commercials take airtime away from programs. In the 1960s a typical hour-long American show would run for 51 minutes excluding commercials. Today, a similar program would only be 42 minutes long; a typical 30-minute block of time includes 22 minutes of programming with 6 minutes of national advertising and 2 minutes of local (although some half-hour blocks may have as much as 12 minutes of commercials).

In other words, over the course of 10 hours, American viewers will see approximately an hour and a half more commercials than they did in the sixties. Furthermore, if that sixties show is rerun today it may be cut by 9 minutes to make room for the extra commercials.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, the average length of a television commercial was one minute. As the years passed, the average length shrank to 30 seconds (and often 10 seconds, depending on the television station's purchase of ad time). However, today a majority of commercials run in 15-second increments (often known as "hooks").

In the United States, the TV commercial is generally considered the most effective mass-market advertising format, and this is reflected by the high prices TV networks charge for commercial airtime during popular TV events. The annual Super Bowl football game is known as much for its commercial advertisements as for the game itself, and the average cost of a single thirty-second TV spot during this game has reached $2.5 million (as of February 2006).

Because a single television commercial can be broadcast repeatedly over the course of weeks, months, and even years (the Tootsie Roll company has been airing a famous commercial that asks "How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?" for over three decades), television commercial production studios often spend enormous sums of money in the production of one single thirty-second television spot. This vast expenditure has resulted in a number of high-quality commercials, ones which boast of the best production values, the latest in special effects technology, the most popular personalities, and the best music. A number of television commercials are so elaborately produced that they can be considered miniature sixty-second movies; indeed, many film directors have directed television commercials both as a way to gain exposure and to earn a paycheck. One of film director Ridley Scott's most famous cinematic moments was a television commercial he directed for the Apple Macintosh computer, that aired in 1984. Even though this commercial was aired only once (aside from occasional appearances in television commercial compilation specials), it has become famous and well-known, to the point where it is considered a classic television moment.

Despite the popularity of some commercials, most are considered to be an annoyance for a number of reasons. The main reason is that the volume of commercials tends to be higher (and in some cases much higher) than that of regular programming, due to the compression rate of the commercials. The increasing number and length of commercials, as well as commercials for the same product being played back-to-back, is a secondary annoyance factor. A third might be the increasing ability to advertise on television, prompting everyone from cell-phone companies and fast food restaraunts to local businesses and small businesses. The latter two have a smaller budget, so the quality is often lower and contains many advertising clichés.

Are commercials also programming?
Since the 1960s, media critics have claimed that the boundaries between "programming" and "commercials" have been eroded to the point where the line is blurred nearly as much as it was during the beginnings of the medium.

In 1973 the FCC decided to define the boundary, especially for children's programming. Since pre-school and school-age children generally have a hard time telling the difference between a commercial and an actual program, the television networks (except commercial-free PBS) were required by the FCC to put explicit bumpers during periods of children's programming and the 7:00 p.m./6:00 p.m. Central Sunday time period ("We'll return after these messages", "Now back to our program") in order for the young viewers to understand when a commercial break was beginning or ending. The only programs that were exempt from this rule were news shows and information shows relating to news (such as 60 Minutes). Conditions on children's programming have eased a bit since the period of the 1970s and 19

TV commercials outside the United States

In many European countries television commercials appear in longer, but less frequent advertising breaks. For example, instead of 3 minutes every 8 minutes, there might be 6 or 7 minutes every half hour. Specific regulations differ widely from country to country and network to network.

United Kingdom
In the UK commercial television is not quite so relentlessly geared to the needs of the advertisers and there are fewer interruptions, as compared to the commercials in the United States. In addition, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is funded by a licence fee and does not screen adverts. Nevertheless, on the commercial channels, the amount of airtime allowed by the Independent Television Authority and its successors for advertising has risen from 7 minutes per hour in the 1970s to 12 minutes today. With 42-minute American exports to Britain, such as Lost, being given a one hour slot, nearly one third of the slot is taken up by advert.

In Finland, there are two non-commercial channels run by the state owned broadcasting company YLE, that run commercials only on very infrequent occasions, such as important sports events. The three main commercial channels MTV3, SubTV (a subsidiary of MTV3), and Nelonen ("Four" in Finnish), all run their commercials during breaks approximately every 15 minutes. A typical break lasts about 4 minutes. The length of individual commercials can vary from a few seconds (7,10 and 15 are common), but nowadays they are rarely over one minute in length.

Prior to the 1980s music in television commercials was generally limited to jingles and incidental music; on some occasions lyrics to a popular song would be changed to create a theme song or a jingle for a particular product. In 1971 the converse occurred when a song written for a Coca-Cola commercial was re-recorded as the pop single "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" by the New Seekers, and became a hit. Some pop and rock songs were re-recorded by cover bands for use in commercials, but the cost of licensing original recordings for this purpose remained prohibitive until the late 1980s.

The use of previously-recorded popular songs in television commercials began in earnest in 1985 when Burger King used the original recording of Aretha Franklin's song "Freeway of Love" in a television advertisement for the restaurant. This also occurred in 1987 when Nike used the original recording of The Beatles' song "Revolution" in an advertisement for athletic shoes. Since then, many classic popular songs have been used in similar fashion. Songs can be used to concretely illustrate a point about the product being sold (such as Bob Seger's "Like a Rock" used for Chevy trucks), but more often are simply used to associate the good feelings listeners had for the song to the product on display. In some cases the original meaning of the song can be totally irrelevant or even completely opposite to the implication of the use in advertising; for example Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life", a song about heroin use addiction, has been used to advertise a cruise ship line. Music-licensing agreements with major artists, especially those which had not previously allowed their recordings to be used for this purpose, such as Microsoft's use of "Start Me Up" by the Rolling Stones and Apple Computers' use of U2's "Vertigo" became a source of publicity in themselves.

In early instances, songs were often used over the objections of the original artists, who had lost control of their music publishing the music of Beatles being perhaps the most well-known case; more recently artists have actively solicited use of their music in advertisements and songs have gained popularity and sales after being used in commercials. Famous case is Levi's company which has used several one hit wonders in their commercials (songs such as "Mr. Bombastic", "Inside", "Spaceman").

Sometimes a controversial reaction has followed the use of some particular song on a commercial. Often the trouble has been that people do not like the idea of using songs that promote values important for them in commercials. For example Sly and the Family Stone's anti-racism song, "Everyday People", was used in a car commercial which caused anger among people.

TV Commercials


A television commercial (often called an advert in the United Kingdom) is a form of advertising in which goods, services, organizations, ideas, etc. are promoted via the medium of television. Most commercials are produced by an outside advertising agency and airtime is purchased from a television channel or network.
The first television commercial aired at 2:29 p.m. on July 1, 1941, when the Bulova Watch Company paid $9 to WNBT for a 10-second spot aired before a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies. It simply displayed a Bulova watch over a map of the U.S., with a voiceover of the company's slogan "America runs on Bulova time!" [1]
The vast majority of television commercials today consist of brief advertising spots, ranging in length from a few seconds to several minutes (as well as program-length infomercials). Commercials of this sort have been used to sell every product imaginable over the years, from household products to goods and services, to political campaigns. The effect of television commercials upon the viewing public has been so successful and so pervasive that it is considered impossible for a politician to wage a successful election campaign, in the United States, without airing a good television commercial.

Characteristics of commercials
Many television commercials feature catchy jingles (songs or melodies) or catch-phrases that generate sustained appeal, which may remain in the minds of television viewers long after the span of the advertising campaign. Some of these ad jingles or catch-phrases may take on lives of their own, spawning gags or "riffs" that may appear in other forms of media, such as comedy movies or television variety shows, or in written media, such as magazine comics or literature.

These long-lasting advertising elements may therefore be said to have taken a place in the pop culture history of the demographic to which they have appeared. One such example is the enduring phrase, "Oh no, Mrs. Burke! I thought you were Dale!", from the 1968 through 1970 Post Grape-Nuts cereal advertisements. Variations of this catchy dialogue and direct references to it appeared in other media forms even as long as two decades after the ad campaign expired. Another is, "Where's the Beef?", which grew so popular that it was used in the 1984 presidential election by Walter Mondale. And yet another popular catch-phrase is "I've fallen and I can't get up", which still appears occasionally, more than a decade after its first use.

For catching attention of consumers, communication agencies make wide use of humour. In fact, many psychological studies tried to demonstrate the effect of humour and indicate the way to empower advertising persuasion.

Animation is often used in commercials. Techniques can vary from hand-drawn traditional animation to different forms of computer animation. By using animated characters, a commercial may have a certain appeal that is difficult to achieve with actors or mere product displays. For this reason, an animated commercial (or a series of such commercials) can be very long-running, several decades in many instances. A notable example is the series of commercials for Kellogg's cereals, starring Snap, Crackle and Pop. The animation is often combined with real actors.

Other long-running ad campaigns catch people by surprise, or even tricking the viewer, such as the Energizer Bunny commercial series. It started in the late 1980s as a simple comparison commercial, where a room full of battery-operated bunnies was seen pounding their drums, all slowing down...except one, with the Energizer battery. Years later, a revised version of this seminal commercial had the Energizer bunny escaping the stage and moving on (according to the announcer, he "keeps going and going and going..."). This was followed by what appeared to be another commercial--viewers were oblivious to the fact that the following "commercial" was actually a parody of other well-known commercials until the Energizer bunny suddenly intrudes on the situation, with the announcer saying "Still going..." (the Energizer Battery Company's way of emphasizing that their battery lasts longer than other leading batteries). This subliminal ad campaign lasted for nearly fifteen years, and was obviously shown at random times on television, often in the least-watched time periods. The Energizer Bunny series has itself been imitated by others, via a Coors Light Beer commercial, in motion pictures, and even by current commercials by Geico Insurance.

Censorship - Overview


Censorship is the use of governmental power to control speech and other forms of human expression. The visible motive of censorship is often to stabilize or improve the society that the government would have control over. It is most commonly applied to acts that occur in public circumstances, and most formally involves the suppression of ideas by criminalizing or regulating expression. Furthermore, discussion of censorship often includes less formal means of controlling perceptions by excluding various ideas from mass communication. What is censored may range from specific words to entire concepts and it may be influenced by value systems.
Sanitization (removal) and whitewashing are almost interchangeable terms that refer to a particular form of censorship via omission, which seeks to "clean up" the portrayal of particular issues and/or facts that are already known, but that may be in conflict with the point of view of the censor. Some may consider extreme political correctness to be related, as a socially-imposed (rather than governmentally imposed) type of restriction, which, if taken to extremes, may qualify as self-censorship.


"Censorship" comes from the Latin word "censor". In Ancient Rome, the censor had two duties, to count the citizens and to supervise their morals. The term "census" is also derived from the same stem.

An early published reference to the term "whitewash" dates back to 1762 in a Boston Evening Post article. In 1800 the word was used publicly in a political context, when a Philadelphia Aurora editorial said that "if you do not whitewash President Adams speedily, the Democrats, like swarms of flies, will bespatter him all over, and make you both as speckled as a dirty wall, and as black as the devil." (citation needed)

The word "sanitization" is a euphemism commonly used in the political context of propaganda to refer to the doctoring of information that might otherwise be perceived as incriminating, self-contradictory, controversial, or damaging. Censorship, as compared to acts or policies of sanitization, more often refers to a publicly set standard, not a privately set standard. However, censorship is often alleged when an essentially private entity, such as a corporation, regulates access to information in a communication forum that serves a significant share of the public. Official censorship might occur at any jurisdictional level within a state or nation that otherwise represents itself as opposed to formal censorship.

Censorship types

Most public speech depends on an organized forum such as a court or town meeting, or on technologies such as paper, the printing press, radio, television, or the internet. In each case, only a minority of people have initially had free access to the medium of public communication. Most often, censorship does not seek to ban certain ideas "in a vacuum," but rather to restrict what may be said in particular media of communication.

In England, censorship began with the introduction of copyright laws, which gave the Crown the permission to license publishing. Without government approval, printing was not allowed. For a court or other governmental body to prevent a person from speaking or publishing before the act has even taken place is sometimes called prior restraint, which may be viewed as worse than punishment received after someone speaks, as in libel suits.

Censorship can be explicit, as in laws passed to prevent select positions from being published or propagated (e.g., the People's Republic of China, Saudi Arabia, the United States and Australia, where certain Internet pages are not permitted), or it can be implicit, taking the form of intimidation by government, where people are afraid to express or support certain opinions for fear of losing their jobs, their position in society, their credibility, or even their lives. The latter form is similar to McCarthyism.

Online Learning


Online learning descends from computer-based training, interactive multimedia (dating from laser discs and more recently, CDs with online learning) and integrated learning centers. With the internet boom since the mid 1990s, the concept of online learning has spread broadly. Online Learning can be thought of as a subset of the broader e-learning category because it refers specifically to content delivered via the Internet or Intranet.

For the younger children, there are free learning sites ranging from those that provide worksheets such as to those with interactive exercises. But, it is left to the parent to provide continuity, determine progress, and to assemble an overall program.

There are online subscription services for children that track the children and provide assessment, placement, continuity, and reports.

There are online universities ranging from legitimate distance learning systems to fly-by-night degree-mills.

Businesses use online learning to provide cost-effective training to their employees, partners, and customers.

As the number of students taking online classes continues to grow at a quick pace, the second wave of online college students is different: they are students who know the ingredients of a good online class, who are picky about which ones they sign up for and who will drop a class if the teacher turns out to be a dud. They are the new, savvy consumers of online education. In response to their higher expectations, providers of online education are incorporating increasingly sophisticated teaching approaches such as educational animation that address the challenges of presenting dynamic content to learners.

Nearly 3 million students are believed to be taking online classes at institutions of higher education in the United States this year, according to a report from the Sloan Consortium, an authoritative source of information about online higher education. The explosive rate of growth -- now about 25 percent a year -- has made hard numbers a moving target. But according to Sloan, virtually all public higher education institutions, as well as a vast majority of private, for-profit institutions, now offer online classes. (By contrast, only about half of private, nonprofit schools offer them.) Sloan tracks degree-granting institutions, but no one's keeping tabs on the thousands of corporate and vocational e-learning programs.

Fuelling this growth is the convenience that online classes are much more convenient, particularly for people who work full time or have families. The costs to students are typically the same as for traditional classes -- and financial aid is equally available -- while the cost to the institution can be much less. And the Sloan report, based on a poll of academic leaders, says that students generally appear to be at least as satisfied with their online classes as they are with traditional ones. In addition, the academic leaders say they believe the quality of online learning is equal to or superior to face-to-face instruction.

Most professions have online accreditation as this point. The K-12 online learning space has grown recently from a spate of virtual schools and virtual charter schools. Companies like Etrafficsolutions and are spearheading the drive to bring the traditional "brick and mortar" schools into the 21st century by integrating an online technology curriculum into the classroom and measuring student progress in using and mastering the e-learning technology.

Definition of E-learning

As opposed to the computer-based training of the 1980s, the term e-learning refers to computer-enhanced training. E-learning is usually delivered via a personal computer. It includes learning delivered by other communications technologies. Methods include online lectures, tutorials, performance support systems, simulations, job aids, games, and more. Effective e-learning is often a blend of methods.

E-learning, therefore, is an approach to facilitate and enhance learning through both computer and communications technology. Such devices can include personal computers, CDROMs, Television, PDAs, MP3 Players, and Mobile Phones. Communications technology enables the use of the Internet, email, discussion forums, WIKIs, collaborative software, classroom management software and team learning systems (see also online deliberation).

E-learning may also be used to suit distance learning through the use of WANs (Wide Area Networks), and may also be considered to be a form of flexible learning where just-in-time learning is possible. Courses can be tailored to specific needs and asynchronous learning is possible. Where learning occurs exclusively online, this is called online education. When learning is distributed to mobile devices such as cell phones or PDAs, it is called M-learning.

Computer aided Instruction (CAI)

The real problem is that the main providers have not yet managed to productively incorporate Computer-Based-Teaching (CBT) or, as it is often now called, Computer Aided Instruction (CAI) into their offerings. Thus, even with Open University material, what you typically get is large chunks of text which could be in any textbook (though in fact, in the case of the Open University, it is especially developed so that it is focused on the specific job in hand - which makes the education content more powerful). Between these slabs of text activities are inserted, which the students complete, to consolidate what they just learnt.

It now increasingly uses PC-based systems to also allow them to test themselves, usually on the basis of multiple choice questions, to see how much they know. It then provides a degree of feedback; explaining whether they are right or wrong and, if wrong, what the real answer was. Truly effective Computer-Aided-Instruction comes, though, when this feedback is used to manage the progress of the student. Thus, in theory at least, depending upon how well they have learned the lesson you may allow them to skip the next unit - because they already understand enough. Perhaps more likely, they may have learned it so badly that you have to return them to the beginning of the previous section. This all about managing the student's individual progress.

Some software for doing this is available, in crude form, but as yet it needs to be significantly enhanced. More important - and this is a killer - you have to put very much more effort into developing the material content it uses - typically providing at least three times as much (where you have to cater for all the alternative answers!) and in particular the interactions with the management system. This is where most systems currently are held up. CAI is not a cost-free solution!

Forecasts have suggested that the organisations who should find it easiest to get round problems - and produce the most popular education programmes using technology very similar to that now available in the games market - would either be the IT multinationals (especially Microsoft) or the Hollywood studios. The logistics of it are very much like making a movie - and in fact the most expensive part is indeed making the moving pictures which illustrate the programme. In fact, this does not appear to have happened; yet.

E-learning glossary

1. E-learning - Also called CBT (see the following definition). E-learning is a general term that relates to all training that is delivered with the assistance of a computer. Delivery of e-learning can be via CD, the Internet, or shared files on a network. Generally, CBT and E-learning are synonymous, but CBT is the older term, dating from the 1980s. The term E-learning evolved from CBT along with the maturation of the Internet, CDs, and DVDs. E-learning also includes Internet-based Learning, Web-based Learning, and Online Learning.

2. Videobook' - A book performed in video format, or a video structured similarly to a book, used chiefly in teaching.

3. CBT - Computer Based Training. Also called E-learning (see definition above). CBT is a general term that relates to all training that is delivered with the assistance of a computer. Deliver of CBT can be via CD, the Internet, or shared files on a network.

4. WBT - Web-based Training. Training that is delivered with the assistance of the Internet.

5. LMS - Learning Management System. A system for management and tracking of the involvement of participants with specific content, usually with the assistance of database. Typically the system tracks who is scheduled to participate in specific training programs, who has begun the program, who has completed the trainings, and what were the participants’ test scores.

6. LCMS - Learning Content Management System. A system for collaborative delovement of E-Learing content with inbuilt resources sharing and project management processes.
Content - What is taught in a course, class, or lesson. The training objectives are often a list of the content of a course.

7. Synchronous E-Learning - Computer-assisted training where the instructor and participants are involved in the course, class or lesson at the same time (synchronized). Web conferencing is an example of synchronous e-learning. Participants can log on with a trainer and interact with participants at multiple facilities or locations. Using LCD projectors and conference telephones, the audience of a web conference can be increased to include many staff at any location.

8. Asynchronous E-Learning - Computer-assisted training where the instructor and participants are involved in the course, class or lesson at different times (not sychronized, or ansychronous). Examples include job aids and programs on a shared drive, web-based training (WBT), electronic bulletin boards, blogs, and email listservs. Asynchronous methods allow participants to access training materials 24/7, even when other students and/or the instructor are not present.

9. Electronic bulletin board - A method of communication where topics or questions are posted to a website and participants can respond.

10. Blog - Web log. Similar to an electronic bulletin board, except that only one individual or group can create the initial post and participants can only respond to the post. An example is

11. Electronic mailing list - Also [incorrectly] called a "listserve." Members send email to the list, which the list service then mails to all members individually. Members can then read and respond (called a post), or email the member directly. An example is

12. ASP - Application service provider. Some LCMS products are available in a format that is Internet-based or network-based. This means that there is little or no software to install on the local computer to deliver and track the training. The information is tracked totally at the remote or server location. Service is generally subscription-based, and password protected.

13. ILT - Instructor Lead Training. Traditional training that is facilitated by a trainer who is there in person.

14. Educational animation - depictions that support the learning of dynamic content by providing direct information about how changes occur over time.

15. Page Turner - Computer Based Training which requires the participant to simply read and move from screen to screen to turn pages and read some more.

16. Courseware - Software that is designed for an educational program.

17. NLT - Notional Learning Time (or Seat time) - It is the time taken for completing an e-Learning course. This is an approximation of the amount of time @80-90 percentile of the target audience will take to complete the course.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Cosmetic Surgery - Introduction & Current Issues

Check out this link to find out all about cosmetic surgery.

Check out this link to find out more on current issues on cosmetic surgery:

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Credit Card

Did you know?

The first credit card was issued in 1951

Credit was first used in Assyria, Babylon and Egypt 3000 years ago. The bill of exchange - the forerunner of banknotes - was established in the 14th century. Debts were settled by one-third cash and two-thirds bill of exchange. Paper money followed only in the 17th century.
The first advertisement for credit was placed in 1730 by Christopher Thornton, who offered furniture that could be paid off weekly.

From the 18th century until the early part of the 20th, tallymen sold clothes in return for small weekly payments. They were called "tallymen" because they kept a record or tally of what people had bought on a wooden stick. One side of the stick was marked with notches to represent the amount of debt and the other side was a record of payments. In the 1920s, a shopper's plate - a "buy now, pay later" system - was introduced in the USA. It could only be used in the shops which issued it.

In 1950, Diners Club and American Express launched their charge cards in the USA, the first "plastic money". In 1951, Diners Club issued the first credit card to 200 customers who could use it at 27 restaurants in New York. But it was only until the establishment of standards for the magnetic strip in 1970 that the credit card became part of the information age.

The first use of magnetic stripes on cards was in the early 1960’s, when the London Transit Authority installed a magnetic stripe system.

A credit card system is a type of retail transaction settlement and credit system, named after the small plastic card issued to users of the system. A credit card is different from a debit card in that the credit card issuer lends the consumer money rather than having the money removed from an account. It is also different from a charge card (though this name is sometimes used by the public to describe credit cards) in that charge cards require that the balance be paid in full each month. In contrast, a credit card allows the consumer to 'revolve' their balance, at the cost of having interest charged. Most credit cards are the same shape and size, as specified by the ISO 7810 standard.

How they Work
A user is issued a credit card after an account has been approved by the credit provider (often a general bank, but sometimes a captive bank created to issue a particular brand of credit card, such as American Express Centurion Bank), with which he or she will be able to make purchases from merchants accepting that credit card up to a preestablished credit limit.

When a purchase is made, the credit card user agrees to pay the card issuer. Originally the user would indicate his/her consent to pay, by signing a receipt with a record of the card details and indicating the amount to be paid, but many merchants now accept verbal authorizations via telephone and electronic authorization using the Internet.

Electronic verification systems allow merchants (using a strip of magnetized material on the card holding information in a similar manner to magnetic tape or a floppy disk) to verify that the card is valid and the credit card customer has sufficient credit to cover the purchase in a few seconds, allowing the verification to happen at time of purchase. Other variations of verification systems are used by ecommerce merchants to determine if the user's account is valid and able to accept the charge.

Each month, the credit card user is sent a statement indicating the purchases undertaken with the card, and the total amount owed. The cardholder must then pay a minimum proportion of the bill by a due date, and may choose to pay the entire amount owed or more. The credit provider charges interest on the amount owed (typically at a much higher rate than most other forms of debt). Some financial institutions can arrange for automatic payments to be deducted from the user's accounts.

Credit card issuers usually waive interest charges if the balance is paid in full each month, but typically will charge full interest on the entire outstanding balance from the date of each purchase if the total balance is not paid.

For example, if a user had a $1,000. outstanding balance for purchases and pays the entire $1,000. there would be no interest charged. If, however, even $1.00 of the total balance remained unpaid, interest would be charged on the full $1,000 from the date of purchase until the payment is received. The precise manner in which interest is charged is usually detailed in a cardholder agreement which may be summarized on the back of the monthly statement. (See The TD Gold Travel Visa Cardholder Agreement Retrieved January 3, 2006)

The credit card may serve as a form of revolving credit, or the user may choose to apply any payments toward recent rather than previous debt. Interest rates can vary considerably from card to card, and the interest rate on a particular card may jump dramatically if the card user is late with a payment on that card or any other credit instrument. As the rates and terms vary, services have been set up allowing users to calculate savings available by switching cards, which can be considerable if there is a large outstanding balance (see external links for some on-line services).

Because profit margins in the credit card industry can be quite high, credit providers often offer incentives such as frequent flier miles, gift certificates, or cash back (typically 1 percent) to try to attract customers to their program.

Low interest credit cards or even 0% interest credit cards are available. The only downside to consumers is that the period of low interest credit cards is limited to a fixed term, usually between 6 and 12 months. However, services are available which alert credit card holders when their low interest period is due to expire. Most such services charge a monthly or annual fee.

The merchant's side

Even some street market stands now take credit cards.
For merchants, a credit card transaction is often more secure than other forms of payment, such as cheques, because the issuing bank commits to pay the merchant the moment the transaction is verified. The bank charges a commission (Interchanging Fee), to the merchant for this service and there may be a certain delay before the agreed payment is received by the merchant. In addition, a merchant may be penalized or have their ability to receive payment using that credit card restricted if there are too many cancellations or reversals of charges.

Secured credit cards

A secured credit card is a type of credit card secured by a deposit account owned by the cardholder. Typically, the cardholder must deposit between 100% and 200% of the total amount of credit desired. Thus if the cardholder puts down $1000, he or she will be given credit in the range of $500–$1000. This deposit is held in a special savings account.

The cardholder of a secured credit card is still expected to make regular payments, as he or she would with a regular credit card, but should he or she default on a payment, the card issuer has the option of recovering the cost of the purchases paid to the merchants out of the deposit.
Often, though, if the cardholder does not make the required payment, many issuers of secured credit cards consider that the account must be paid before the security is released instead of using the security to pay the balance due. The card is not cancelled, the balance is not set off the deposit, and interest continues to accumulate on the unpaid balance for considerable periods of time. In some cases the total charges may far exceed the original deposit and the cardholder not only loses their deposit but is left with an additional debt.

Most of these conditions are usually described in a cardholder agreement which the cardholder signs when their account is opened.

Secured credit cards are an option to allow a person with a poor credit history or no credit history to have a credit card which might not otherwise be available. They are often offered as a means of rebuilding one's credit. Secured credit cards are available with both Visa and MasterCard logos on them. Fees and service charges for secured credit cards often exceed those charged for ordinary non-secured credit cards.

Nuclear Power

Nuclear power is the controlled use of nuclear reactions to release energy for work including propulsion, heat, and the generation of electricity. Human use of nuclear power to do significant useful work is currently limited to nuclear fission and radioactive decay. Nuclear energy is produced when a fissile material, such as uranium-235 (235U), is concentrated such that the natural rate of radioactive decay is accelerated in a controlled chain reaction and creates heat - which is used to boil water, produce steam, and drive a steam turbine. The turbine can be used for mechanical work and also to generate electricity. Nuclear power is used to power most military submarines and aircraft carriers and provides 7% of the world's energy and 17% of the world's electricity. The United States produces the most nuclear energy, with nuclear power providing 20% of the electricity it consumes, while France produces the highest percent of its energy from nuclear reactors—80% as of 2006. [1] [2]

The first successful experiment with nuclear fission was conducted in 1938 in Berlin by the German physicists Otto Hahn, Lise Meitner and Fritz Strassman.
During the Second World War, a number of nations embarked on crash programs to develop nuclear energy, focusing first on the development of nuclear reactors. The first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction was obtained at the University of Chicago by Enrico Fermi on December 2, 1942, and reactors based on his research were used to produce the plutonium necessary for the "Fat Man" weapon dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. Several nations began their own construction of nuclear reactors at this point, primarily for weapons use, though research was also being conducted into their use for civilian electricity generation.
Electricity was generated for the first time by a nuclear reactor on December 20, 1951 at the EBR-I experimental fast breeder station near Arco, Idaho, which initially produced about 100 kW.

In 1952 a report by the Paley Commission (The President's Materials Policy Commission) for President Harry Truman made a "relatively pessimistic" assessment of nuclear power, and called for "aggressive research in the whole field of solar energy". [3]
A December 1953 speech by President Dwight Eisenhower, "Atoms for Peace", set the U.S. on a course of strong government support for the international use of nuclear power.

Early years

The Beaver Valley Nuclear Generating Station in Shippingport, Pennsylvania was the first commercial reactor in the USA and was opened in 1957.
On June 27, 1954, the world's first nuclear power plant to generate electricity for a power grid started operations at Obninsk, USSR [4]. The reactor was graphite moderated, water cooled and had a capacity of 5 megawatts (MW). The world first commercial nuclear power station, Calder Hall in Sellafield, England was opened in 1956, a gas-cooled Magnox reactor with an initial capacity of 45 MW (later 196 MW) [5]. The Shippingport Reactor (Pennsylvania, 1957), a pressurized water reactor, was the first commercial nuclear generator to become operational in the United States.

In 1954, the chairman of the United States Atomic Energy Commission (forerunner of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission) famously declared that nuclear power would be "too cheap to meter" [6] and foresaw 1000 nuclear plants on line in the USA by the year 2000.
In 1955 the United Nations' "First Geneva Conference", then the world's largest gathering of scientists and engineers, met to explore the technology. In 1957 EURATOM was launched alongside the European Economic Community (the latter is now the European Union). The same year also saw the launch of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Thanks to the presence of the nearby Bettis Laboratory and the Shippingport power plant, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania became the world's first nuclear powered city in 1960.

Installed nuclear capacity initially rose relatively quickly, rising from less than 1 gigawatt (GW) in 1960 to 100GW in the late 1970s, and 300GW in the late 1980s. Since the late 1980s capacity has risen much more slowly, reaching 366GW in 2005, primarily due to Chinese expansion of nuclear power. Between around 1970 and 1990, more than 50GW of capacity was under construction (peaking at over 150GW in the late 70s and early 80s) - in 2005, around 25GW of new capacity was planned. More than two-thirds of all nuclear plants ordered after January 1970 were eventually cancelled.[7]

During the 1970s and 1980s rising economic costs (related to vastly extended construction times largely due to regulatory delays) and falling fossil fuel prices made nuclear power plants then under construction less attractive. In the 1980s (U.S.) and 1990s (Europe), flat load growth and electricity liberalization also made the addition of large new baseload capacity unnecessary.

A general movement against nuclear power arose during the last third of the 20th Century, based on the fear of a possible nuclear accident and on fears of latent radiation, and on the opposition to nuclear waste production, transport and final storage. Perceived risks on the citizens health and safety, the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island and the 1986 Chernobyl accident played a key part in stopping new plant construction in many countries. Austria (1978), Sweden (1980) and Italy (1987) voted in referendums to oppose or phase out nuclear power, while opposition in Ireland prevented a nuclear programme there. However, the Brookings Institution suggests in [8] that new nuclear units have not been ordered primarily for economic reasons rather than fears of accidents.

As of 2006, the stated desire to use nuclear power for electricity generation has been suspected of being a cover for nuclear proliferation in Iran and North Korea.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Euthanasia (from Greek: ευθανασία -'ευ "good", θανατος "death") is the practice of ending the life of an individual or an animal who is suffering from a terminal disease or a chronically painful condition in a painless or minimally painful way either by lethal injection, drug overdose, or by the withdrawal of medical support. Euthanasia is a controversial issue because of conflicting religious and humanist views.

Euthanasia as a topic is often highly-charged—emotionally, politically, and morally. Terminology and laws shift over time, geographically and globally, causing a great deal of confusion.
There is some debate as to whether euthanasia refers to "letting die" or "allowing to die." In the United States and the Netherlands, "letting die" or "allowing to die" refer to areas which the state consider ethically and legally acceptable and permissible. This includes the withholding and withdrawing of medical treatment such as dialysis, feeding tubes or hydration and nutrition when they no longer prolong the life of the dying person. Sometimes, as a body's major organ systems shut down, a dying person may feel most comfortable without any fluids or food. To provide fluids and nutrition in this situation is like "force feeding" a body that does not "want" or need to be fed or hydrated, and doing so may actually cause physical discomfort and suffering. This is a different situation than when the person is not dying, and whose body can absorb nutrition and fluids.

In most other countries removing or denying treatment without the clear instructions of the patient is usually seen as murder. In a growing number of law cases over the last 20 years, juries have sided with the lawful application of euthanasia.

Following are several summary statements defining what euthanasia can include. These are followed by expanded definitions of each. Euthanasia (assisted dying) may employ methods that are either indirect or direct. Indirect methods of euthanasia are defined by an individual him or herself taking the final step inducing death. Direct methods are defined by the involvement of others (clinicians) who take the final step inducing death. Direct euthanasia can either be voluntary, nonvoluntary or involuntary. (See Karl Binding and Alfred Hoche for one of the first uses of the three types of euthanasia.)

Indirect euthanasia means the involvement of a clinician (e.g. physician, clinical nurse practitioner, pharmacist) as an agent who participates only by providing treatment for symptoms (for example pain) with a known side effect being an early death. This is different from physician-assisted suicide, in which a doctor purposefully provides the means to a patient in the form of drugs and delivery mechanisms to kill oneself. This could mean writing or filling a prescription for medications, or personally giving medications, in a quantity large enough to cause death when taken by the patient. This kind of assistance is currently legal in the American state of Oregon. It became legal in 1997 as a result of the "Death with Dignity Act" which was passed in the state in 1994.

Direct euthanasia means the involvement of a clinician as agent in inducing a patient’s death. (e.g. administering a lethal drug by injection). Direct euthanasia is only legal in one state of the US (Oregon), but both direct and indirect euthanasia are legal in Belgium, Colombia, Japan and the Netherlands. This is an alternative in case the patient, due to their illness, is incapable of physically performing the lethal act themselves (e.g. drinking a poison, when the cup is handed to him or her.)

Voluntary euthanasia occurs with the fully-informed request of a decisionally-competent adult patient or that of their surrogate (proxy). (Example: Thomas Youk with ALS was assisted by Jack Kevorkian.) This should not be confused with death after treatment is stopped on the instructions of the patient himself, either directly or through a do not resuscitate (DNR) order. Enforcing a DNR order has never been considered assisted suicide or suicide of any kind, at least in the eyes of the law. Patients of sound mind have always had a right to refuse treatment.

Nonvoluntary euthanasia occurs without the fully-informed consent and fully-informed request of a decisionally-competent adult patient or that of their surrogate (proxy). An example of this might be if a "patient" has decisional capacity but is not told they will be euthanized; or, if a patient is not conscious or lacks decisional-capacity and their surrogate is not told the patient will be euthanized.

Involuntary euthanasia occurs over the objection of a patient or their surrogate (proxy). An example of this might be if a patient with decisional capacity (or their surrogate) is told what will happen. The patient (or surrogate) refuses yet the patient is euthanized anyway. This is generally considered murder. If a patient slated for euthanasia changes his or her mind at the last minute, the doctor is categorically required by law to honor that wish.

Terminal sedation is a combination of medically inducing a deep sleep and stopping other treatment, with the exception of medication for symptom control (such as analgesia). It is considered to be euthanasia by some, but under current law and medical practice it is considered a form of palliative care.

In Nazi Germany the term "euthanasia" (Euthanasie) referred to the systematic killing of disabled children and adults under the T-4 Euthanasia Program. Technically, the T-4 Program was not euthanasia, since the word is defined as the merciful ending of a life for terminal or chronically painful conditions. This program was "cancelled", at least officially, after public disapproval was expressed. This has tainted the word especially in German-speaking countries; especially as one of the main advocates of euthanasia in Germany after World War II was Werner Catel, a leading Nazi doctor directly involved in T4. The currently accepted German term is the older "Sterbehilfe" (literally "helping to die"), which is used in contemporary German discussions.

Animal euthanasia is commonly referred to by the euphemism "put to sleep".

In the last 20 years, some states have faced voter ballot initiatives and "legislation bills" attempting to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide. Some examples include: Washington voters saw Ballot Initiative 119 in 1991, California placed Proposition 161 on the ballot in 1992, and Michigan included Proposal B in their ballot in 1998. Public opinion concerning this issue has become increasingly important because widespread support could very well facilitate the legalization of these policies in other states, such as in Oregon.

While many people are aware of the ongoing debates concerning the issue of euthanasia and assisted suicide, it has been unclear where the public opinion stands in the United States. A recent Gallup Poll survey did show that 75% of Americans supported euthanasia, however further research has shown that there are significant differences in levels of support for euthanasia across distinct social groups. Recently, these attitudes have been receiving more attention since they not only could influence the legislation on this topic, but how patients are cared for in the future.

Some of the differences in public attitudes towards the right to die debate stem from the diversity of religion in this country. The United States contains a wide array of religious views, and these views seem to correlate with whether euthanasia was supported. Using the results from past General Social Surveys performed, some patterns can be found. Respondents that did not affiliate with a religion were found to support euthanasia more than those who did.
Of the religious groups that were studied, which were mostly Christian in this particular study, conservative Protestants (including Southern Baptists, Pentecostals, and Evangelicals) were more opposed to euthanasia than non-affiliates and the other religious groups.

Moderate Protestants (including Lutherans and Methodists) and Catholics showed mixed views concerning end of life decisions in general. Both of these groups showed less support than non-affiliates, but were less opposed to it than conservative Protestants. Moderate Protestants are less likely to take a literal interpretation to Bible than their conservative counterparts, and some leaderships tend to take a less oppositional view on the issue. Despite the fact that the Catholic Church has come out in firm opposition to physician-assisted suicide, they share the nearly same level of support as moderate Protestants.

The liberal Protestants (including some Presbyterians and Episcopalians) were the most supportive of the groups. In general, they had looser affiliations with religious institutions and their views were similar to those of non-affiliates. Within all these groups, religiosity (identified as being frequency of church attendance and self-evaluation) also affected their level of opposition towards euthanasia. Individuals who attended church regularly and more frequently and considered themselves more religious were found to be more opposed than to those who had a lower level of religiosity [1].

In Theravada Buddhism, a monk can be expelled for praising the advantages of death, even if they simply describe the miseries of life or the bliss of the after-life in a way that might inspire a person to commit suicide or pine away to death. In caring for the terminally ill, one is forbidden to treat a patient so as to bring on death faster than would occur if the disease were allowed to run its natural course.[2]

In Hinduism, death has been referred to both as the ultimate truth and as one of the stages in human life. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna urges Arjuna to fulfill his destiny or Karma, and not to worry about consequences as death levels all: whatever you give and take, you do it on this earth. In Hindu mythology, some humans were given the right to choose the time of their deaths. This was awarded to only the most pure in heart, suggesting that Hinduism does not disapprove of euthanasia.

Cloning - Overview


The possibility of human cloning, raised when Scottish scientists at Roslin Institute created the much-celebrated sheep "Dolly" (Nature 385, 810-13, 1997), aroused worldwide interest and concern because of its scientific and ethical implications. The feat, cited by Science magazine as the breakthrough of 1997, also generated uncertainty over the meaning of "cloning" --an umbrella term traditionally used by scientists to describe different processes for duplicating biological material.

What is cloning? Are there different types of cloning?
When the media report on cloning in the news, they are usually talking about only one type called reproductive cloning. There are different types of cloning however, and cloning technologies can be used for other purposes besides producing the genetic twin of another organism. A basic understanding of the different types of cloning is key to taking an informed stance on current public policy issues and making the best possible personal decisions. The following three types of cloning technologies will be discussed: (1) recombinant DNA technology or DNA cloning, (2) reproductive cloning, and (3) therapeutic cloning.

Recombinant DNA Technology or DNA Cloning

The terms "recombinant DNA technology," "DNA cloning," "molecular cloning,"or "gene cloning" all refer to the same process: the transfer of a DNA fragment of interest from one organism to a self-replicating genetic element such as a bacterial plasmid. The DNA of interest can then be propagated in a foreign host cell. This technology has been around since the 1970s, and it has become a common practice in molecular biology labs today.

Scientists studying a particular gene often use bacterial plasmids to generate multiple copies of the same gene. Plasmids are self-replicating extra-chromosomal circular DNA molecules, distinct from the normal bacterial genome (see image to the right). Plasmids and other types of cloning vectors are used by Human Genome Project researchers to copy genes and other pieces of chromosomes to generate enough identical material for further study.

To "clone a gene," a DNA fragment containing the gene of interest is isolated from chromosomal DNA using restriction enzymes and then united with a plasmid that has been cut with the same restriction enzymes. When the fragment of chromosomal DNA is joined with its cloning vector in the lab, it is called a "recombinant DNA molecule." Following introduction into suitable host cells, the recombinant DNA can then be reproduced along with the host cell DNA. See a diagram depicting this process.

Plasmids can carry up to 20,000 bp of foreign DNA. Besides bacterial plasmids, some other cloning vectors include viruses, bacteria artificial chromosomes (BACs), and yeast artificial chromosomes (YACs). Cosmids are artificially constructed cloning vectors that carry up to 45 kb of foreign DNA and can be packaged in lambda phage particles for infection into E. coli cells. BACs utilize the naturally occurring F-factor plasmid found in E. coli to carry 100 to 300 kb DNA inserts. A YAC is a functional chromosome derived from yeast that can carry up to 1 MB of foreign DNA. Bacteria are most often used as the host cells for recombinant DNA molecules, but yeast and mammalian cells also are used.

Reproductive Cloning

Celebrity Sheep Has Died at Age 6Dolly, the first mammal to be cloned from adult DNA, was put down by lethal injection Feb. 14, 2003. Prior to her death, Dolly had been suffering from lung cancer and crippling arthritis. Although most Finn Dorset sheep live to be 11 to 12 years of age, postmortem examination of Dolly seemed to indicate that, other than her cancer and arthritis, she appeared to be quite normal. The unnamed sheep from which Dolly was cloned had died several years prior to her creation. Dolly was a mother to six lambs, bred the old-fashioned way.
Image credit: Roslin Institute Image Library,
Reproductive cloning is a technology used to generate an animal that has the same nuclear DNA as another currently or previously existing animal. Dolly was created by reproductive cloning technology. In a process called "somatic cell nuclear transfer" (SCNT), scientists transfer genetic material from the nucleus of a donor adult cell to an egg whose nucleus, and thus its genetic material, has been removed. The reconstructed egg containing the DNA from a donor cell must be treated with chemicals or electric current in order to stimulate cell division. Once the cloned embryo reaches a suitable stage, it is transferred to the uterus of a female host where it continues to develop until birth.

Dolly or any other animal created using nuclear transfer technology is not truly an identical clone of the donor animal. Only the clone's chromosomal or nuclear DNA is the same as the donor. Some of the clone's genetic materials come from the mitochondria in the cytoplasm of the enucleated egg. Mitochondria, which are organelles that serve as power sources to the cell, contain their own short segments of DNA. Acquired mutations in mitochondrial DNA are believed to play an important role in the aging process.

Dolly's success is truly remarkable because it proved that the genetic material from a specialized adult cell, such as an udder cell programmed to express only those genes needed by udder cells, could be reprogrammed to generate an entire new organism. Before this demonstration, scientists believed that once a cell became specialized as a liver, heart, udder, bone, or any other type of cell, the change was permanent and other unneeded genes in the cell would become inactive. Some scientists believe that errors or incompleteness in the reprogramming process cause the high rates of death, deformity, and disability observed among animal clones.

Therapeutic Cloning

Therapeutic cloning, also called "embryo cloning," is the production of human embryos for use in research. The goal of this process is not to create cloned human beings, but rather to harvest stem cells that can be used to study human development and to treat disease. Stem cells are important to biomedical researchers because they can be used to generate virtually any type of specialized cell in the human body. Stem cells are extracted from the egg after it has divided for 5 days. The egg at this stage of development is called a blastocyst. The extraction process destroys the embryo, which raises a variety of ethical concerns.

Many researchers hope that one day stem cells can be used to serve as replacement cells to treat heart disease, Alzheimer's, cancer, and other diseases. See more on the potential use of cloning in organ transplants.

In November 2001, scientists from Advanced Cell Technologies (ACT), a biotechnology company in Massachusetts, announced that they had cloned the first human embryos for the purpose of advancing therapeutic research. To do this, they collected eggs from women's ovaries and then removed the genetic material from these eggs with a needle less than 2/10,000th of an inch wide. A skin cell was inserted inside the enucleated egg to serve as a new nucleus. The egg began to divide after it was stimulated with a chemical called ionomycin. The results were limited in success. Although this process was carried out with eight eggs, only three began dividing, and only one was able to divide into six cells before stopping.

How can cloning technologies be used?
Recombinant DNA technology is important for learning about other related technologies, such as gene therapy, genetic engineering of organisms, and sequencing genomes. Gene therapy can be used to treat certain genetic conditions by introducing virus vectors that carry corrected copies of faulty genes into the cells of a host organism. Genes from different organisms that improve taste and nutritional value or provide resistance to particular types of disease can be used to genetically engineer food crops. See Genetically Modified Foods and Organisms for more information. With genome sequencing, fragments of chromosomal DNA must be inserted into different cloning vectors to generate fragments of an appropriate size for sequencing. See a diagram on constructing clones for sequencing.

If the low success rates can be improved (Dolly was only one success out of 276 tries), reproductive cloning can be used to develop efficient ways to reliably reproduce animals with special qualities. For example, drug-producing animals or animals that have been genetically altered to serve as models for studying human disease could be mass-produced.

Reproductive cloning also could be used to repopulate endangered animals or animals that are difficult to breed. In 2001, the first clone of an endangered wild animal was born, a wild ox called a gaur. The young gaur died from an infection about 48 hours after its birth. In 2001, scientists in Italy reported the successful cloning of a healthy baby mouflon, an endangered wild sheep. The cloned mouflon is living at a wildlife center in Sardinia. Other endangered species that are potential candidates for cloning include the African bongo antelope, the Sumatran tiger, and the giant panda. Cloning extinct animals presents a much greater challenge to scientists because the egg and the surrogate needed to create the cloned embryo would be of a species different from the clone.

Therapeutic cloning technology may some day be used in humans to produce whole organs from single cells or to produce healthy cells that can replace damaged cells in degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's. Much work still needs to be done before therapeutic cloning can become a realistic option for the treatment of disorders.

What animals have been cloned?
Scientists have been cloning animals for many years. In 1952, the first animal, a tadpole, was cloned. Before the creation of Dolly, the first mammal cloned from the cell of an adult animal, clones were created from embryonic cells. Since Dolly, researchers have cloned a number of large and small animals including sheep, goats, cows, mice, pigs, cats, rabbits, and a gaur. See Cloned Animals below. All these clones were created using nuclear transfer technology.

Hundreds of cloned animals exist today, but the number of different species is limited. Attempts at cloning certain species such as monkeys, chickens, horses, and dogs, have been unsuccessful. Some species may be more resistant to somatic cell nuclear transfer than others. The process of stripping the nucleus from an egg cell and replacing it with the nucleus of a donor cell is a traumatic one, and improvements in cloning technologies may be needed before many species can be cloned successfully.

Can organs be cloned for use in transplants?
Scientists hope that one day therapeutic cloning can be used to generate tissues and organs for transplants. To do this, DNA would be extracted from the person in need of a transplant and inserted into an enucleated egg. After the egg containing the patient's DNA starts to divide, embryonic stem cells that can be transformed into any type of tissue would be harvested. The stem cells would be used to generate an organ or tissue that is a genetic match to the recipient. In theory, the cloned organ could then be transplanted into the patient without the risk of tissue rejection. If organs could be generated from cloned human embryos, the need for organ donation could be significantly reduced.

Many challenges must be overcome before "cloned organ" transplants become reality. More effective technologies for creating human embryos, harvesting stem cells, and producing organs from stem cells would have to be developed. In 2001, scientists with the biotechnology company Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) reported that they had cloned the first human embryos; however, the only embryo to survive the cloning process stopped developing after dividing into six cells. In February 2002, scientists with the same biotech company reported that they had successfully transplanted kidney-like organs into cows. The team of researchers created a cloned cow embryo by removing the DNA from an egg cell and then injecting the DNA from the skin cell of the donor cow's ear. Since little is known about manipulating embryonic stem cells from cows, the scientists let the cloned embryos develop into fetuses. The scientists then harvested fetal tissue from the clones and transplanted it into the donor cow. In the three months of observation following the transplant, no sign of immune rejection was observed in the transplant recipient.

Another potential application of cloning to organ transplants is the creation of genetically modified pigs from which organs suitable for human transplants could be harvested . The transplant of organs and tissues from animals to humans is called xenotransplantation.
Why pigs? Primates would be a closer match genetically to humans, but they are more difficult to clone and have a much lower rate of reproduction. Of the animal species that have been cloned successfully, pig tissues and organs are more similar to those of humans. To create a "knock-out" pig, scientists must inactivate the genes that cause the human immune system to reject an implanted pig organ. The genes are knocked out in individual cells, which are then used to create clones from which organs can be harvested. In 2002, a British biotechnology company reported that it was the first to produce "double knock-out" pigs that have been genetically engineered to lack both copies of a gene involved in transplant rejection. More research is needed to study the transplantation of organs from "knock-out" pigs to other animals.
What are the risks of cloning?

Reproductive cloning is expensive and highly inefficient. More than 90% of cloning attempts fail to produce viable offspring. More than 100 nuclear transfer procedures could be required to produce one viable clone. In addition to low success rates, cloned animals tend to have more compromised immune function and higher rates of infection, tumor growth, and other disorders. Japanese studies have shown that cloned mice live in poor health and die early. About a third of the cloned calves born alive have died young, and many of them were abnormally large. Many cloned animals have not lived long enough to generate good data about how clones age. Appearing healthy at a young age unfortunately is not a good indicator of long term survival. Clones have been known to die mysteriously. For example, Australia's first cloned sheep appeared healthy and energetic on the day she died, and the results from her autopsy failed to determine a cause of death.

In 2002, researchers at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, reported that the genomes of cloned mice are compromised. In analyzing more than 10,000 liver and placenta cells of cloned mice, they discovered that about 4% of genes function abnormally. The abnormalities do not arise from mutations in the genes but from changes in the normal activation or expression of certain genes.
Problems also may result from programming errors in the genetic material from a donor cell. When an embryo is created from the union of a sperm and an egg, the embryo receives copies of most genes from both parents. A process called "imprinting" chemically marks the DNA from the mother and father so that only one copy of a gene (either the maternal or paternal gene) is turned on. Defects in the genetic imprint of DNA from a single donor cell may lead to some of the developmental abnormalities of cloned embryos.

Should humans be cloned?

Physicians from the American Medical Association and scientists with the American Association for the Advancement of Science have issued formal public statements advising against human reproductive cloning. Currently, the U.S. Congress is considering the passage of legislation that could ban human cloning. See the Policy and Legislation links below.

Due to the inefficiency of animal cloning (only about 1 or 2 viable offspring for every 100 experiments) and the lack of understanding about reproductive cloning, many scientists and physicians strongly believe that it would be unethical to attempt to clone humans. Not only do most attempts to clone mammals fail, about 30% of clones born alive are affected with "large offspring syndrome" and other debilitating conditions. Several cloned animals have died prematurely from infections and other complications. The same problems would be expected in human cloning. In addition, scientists do not know how cloning could impact mental development. While factors such as intellect and mood may not be as important for a cow or a mouse, they are crucial for the development of healthy humans. With so many unknowns concerning reproductive cloning, the attempt to clone humans at this time is considered potentially dangerous and ethically irresponsible.