Brazilian Congress passes Internet bill of rights -
Brazil’s Senate unanimously approved groundbreaking legislation on Tuesday that guarantees equal access to the Internet and protects the privacy of Brazilian users in the wake of U.S. spying revelations.
President Dilma Rousseff, who was the target of U.S. espionage according to documents leaked by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden, plans to sign the bill into law. She will present it on Wednesday at a global conference on the future of the Internet, her office said in a blog.
The legislation, dubbed Brazil’s “Internet Constitution,” has been hailed by experts, such as the British physicist and World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, for balancing the rights and duties of users, governments and corporations while ensuring the Internet continues to be an open and decentralized network.
Stop the FCC from Breaking the Internet -
People everywhere understand that the Internet is a crucial driver of free speech, innovation, education, economic growth, creativity and so much more. They demand real Net Neutrality rules that protect Internet users from corporate abuse.
But the Federal Communications Commission is proposing rules that would kill — rather than protect — Net Neutrality and allow rampant discrimination online.
Under these rules, telecom giants like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon would be able to pick winners and losers online and discriminate against online content and applications. And no one would be able to do anything about it.
We must stop the FCC from moving forward with these rules, which would give the green light to ISPs eager to crush Net Neutrality.
“Okay, I guess.”
World Bank Wants Water Privatized, Despite Risk | Al Jazeera
Humans can survive weeks without food, but only days without water — in some conditions, only hours. It may sound clichéd, but it’s no hyperbole: Water is life. So what happens when private companies control the spigot? Evidence from water privatization projects around the world paints a pretty clear picture — public health is at stake.
In the run-up to its annual spring meeting this month, the World Bank Group, which offers loans, advice and other resources to developing countries, held four days of dialogues in Washington, D.C. Civil society groups from around the world and World Bank Group staff convened to discuss many topics. Water was high on the list.
It’s hard to think of a more important topic. We face a global water crisis, made worse by the warming temperatures of climate change. A quarter of the world’s people don’t have sufficient access to clean drinking water, and more people die every year from waterborne illnesses — such as cholera and typhoid fever — than from all forms of violence, including war, combined. Every hour, the United Nations estimates, 240 babies die from unsafe water.
The World Bank Group pushes privatization as a key solution to the water crisis. It is the largest funder of water management in the developing world, with loans and financing channeled through the group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC). Since the 1980s, the IFC has been promoting these water projects as part of a broader set of privatization policies, with loans and financing tied to enacting austerity measures designed to shrink the state, from the telecom industry to water utilities.
But international advocacy and civil society groups point to the pockmarked record of private-sector water projects and are calling on the World Bank Group to end support for private water.
In the decades since the IFC’s initial push, we have seen the results of water privatization: It doesn’t work. Water is not like telecommunications or transportation. You could tolerate crappy phone service, but have faulty pipes connecting to your municipal water and you’re in real trouble. Water is exceptional.
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Scientists Have Cloned Embryos From Adult Cells For the First Time Ever
Ever since Dolly the sheep was cloned eighteen years ago, scientists have been trying and failing to use that same technique to create cloned human embryos from adult cells. Now, they’ve finally succeeded, in what could a major step toward personalized organ transplants and other therapies that rely on a pool of stem cells.
Last year, a different team of scientists reported a breakthrough in creating the first cloned human embryos ever. That team used cells taken from a fetus and an eight-month-old infant. This new result, published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, tweaks the procedure to make it also work with skin cells from two adult men, ages 35 and 75.
Confirming that human clone embryos can indeed be made with adult cells means we could potentially someday scrape off a bit of your skin, put it in a cloned embryo, and extract stem cells personalized with your DNA. Those stem cells can then theoretically be programmed grow into any type of tissue—including an organ for transplant.
The basic process is the same as the one used to clone Dolly. The nucleus, which contains DNA, is sucked out of the adult cell and carefully placed in a donor egg, whose own nucleus has been removed. Scientists have gotten this process to work in over 20 different species, but humans, until recently, have proven tricky.
This result does not mean that cloned babies will be born anytime soon, however. The resulting embryo was missing some types of cells and would not have been able to implant in the womb. The difficulty of getting embryos to grow in the womb is, in fact, why partly scientists still haven’t been able to clone monkeys.
The most promising use of this human cloning technique is in creating embryos as a source of personalized stem cells. Currently, we get stem cells from embryos leftover from in vitro fertilization (IVF)—or we reprogram them from adult cells. Both techniques have their drawbacks, however, as IVF stem cells do not perfectly match the patient’s, and the reprogramming may not ever be entirely complete in adult cells, according to some studies.
Any therapies that may result from cloning adult cells is still far, far off on the horizon. Even with this basic lab research, plenty of questions about the moral implications of human cloning remain. It’s been 18 years since Dolly—but the ethical dilemmas haven’t changed a bit. [Cell Stem Cell via Wall Street Journal, TIME]
Top image: Artist rendering of the nuclear transfer technique for cloning. Giovanni Cancemi/Shutterstock