AP NEWS
Related topics

Editorial Roundup: Recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers

November 27, 2018

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers:

Texarkana Gazette. Nov. 25, 2018.

Cooperation. Between the two Texarkanas.

We have heard this before. There have been many calling for just that. And for years we have been touting the idea on this page.

Perhaps now it’s a bit closer to reality.

Last week, members of AR-TX Regional Economic Development Incorporation met with city officials from both sides of the line to share a vision of growth in our area that hinges on cooperation.

AR-TX REDI is made up of local business and community leaders. They want to see the cities come together in a joint effort to attract new business and jobs through positive promotion of our area’s assets. These include our workforce, transportation infrastructure, educational institutions and plentiful water resources.

Right now it’s still on the drawing board. There is a lot to be done. And that may lead to skepticism from the community.

After all, as we said this isn’t new. We’ve heard it before and nothing much ever seems to get done.

But AR-TX REDI has some good people behind it. The kind of folks who know how to get things done. With support from the public, cooperation with local governments and that can-do spirit, we may finally see some much-needed progress for our Twin Cities.

We support their efforts. We encourage all our readers to do so as well. And we hope this new incarnation of an old idea bears economic fruit.

___

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Nov. 27, 2018.

Recent science-related headlines out of Red China can be indicative of two very different futures. And knowing what we know of mankind, we’re not at all comfortable with it.

A scientist on mainland China claims to have altered the DNA of twin girls in an attempt to make them more resistant to HIV, the AIDS virus. He says he’s been tinkering with DNA for several couples, resulting in that one pregnancy. Gene editing is banned in the United States, but that’s not keeping scientists awake at night in China.

One future is bright and shining, with folks immune to diseases. (Turn us into Methuselah, and where are we gonna park?) Another future might be a scene in which mad scientists upend the natural order of birth and genealogy.

The problem, or maybe the everlasting hope, with this scientist’s claims is they’re just that: claims. NBC News reports his work hasn’t been independently verified or published in a scientific journal where it can be vetted by other experts. Instead, the scientist discussed his work in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, providing some materials from his research. Experts who reviewed material given to the AP said tests so far are insufficient to determine if the gene-editing worked.

So he could be as reliable as any other government-provided news coming out of Red China. Let’s hope.

Our problem with DNA editing isn’t that disease could be overcome and beaten. It’s that such experiments could have more unintended consequences than even a pessimist would allow. As one researcher said in Michael Crichton’s wonderful book about DNA editing: You put so much effort in doing what you could, you never thought about whether you should.

Who’s going to provide the ethical guidance on this new experimentation/industry? The government in Beijing? God help us.

And if a government, or even some select committee of scientists in the West, decided that altering DNA was ethical, and experiments such as this are morally acceptable, would they be? Can there be a code of ethics that would justify experimenting with babies in the womb, or babies before they’re in the womb? Who would write that code?

Consider the natural curiosity of scientists. Now consider the natural curiosity of scientists who aren’t handcuffed by certain laws passed by the United States Congress. Now consider the natural curiosity of scientists and the money that would flow from certain quarters to create designer babies. (Oh, he looks just like his father! But with blue eyes and a dimpled chin and the abs of an NFL cornerback.)

If what this scientist claims is true, then mankind could be looking at a revolution of sorts. Of course the practice of ethics will have to be revolutionized, too. Or should we think about that minor detail? Can we safely leave all of that up to scientists, or lawmakers in various countries?

Yes, some will see this as a form of medicine, and genetic diseases will be a thing of the past, like polio. Others see a slippery slope--and eugenics.

It’s “unconscionable . . . an experiment on human beings that is not morally or ethically defensible,” Dr. Kiran Musunuru, a University of Pennsylvania gene editing expert and editor of a genetics journal, told the AP.

“This is far too premature,” echoed Dr. Eric Topol, who heads the Scripps Research Translational Institute in California. “We’re dealing with the operating instructions of a human being. It’s a big deal.”

The tool used to manipulate DNA is called, believe it or not, the CRISPR-cas9, which stands for something besides moral and ethical dilemmas. Soon it may be easy enough to take an altered human life out of the, yes, CRISPR. Remember, this is The Associated Press reporting, not The Onion.

It’s not the potential good that this “breakthrough” could give the rest of us. We question only that the scientists involved seem not to acknowledge human nature, and their sublime confidence that the curiosity of man can be limited.

It’s one thing to question a lack of reverence for human life these days--we’re used to that in the Age of Choice--but what about the lack of imagination these experimenters seem to have? They’ve done something because they could, but have given no thought, apparently, to whether they should.

If mankind allows its scientists to take this step, can we be assured they won’t take the next one?

For more reading on the subject, we suggest H.G. Wells and his youthful blasphemy “The Island of Doctor Moreau.”

___

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Nov. 27, 2018.

Often, the first sign of a sudden crisis is the immediate chaos.

Understandably, a lot of people panic in the midst of an unknown threat.

And in the middle of chaos and panic, what helps more than anything? Communication.

What did you expect us to say, a Glock?

Sure, if you happen to come face to face with an assailant, it’s hard to argue against some capability for self-defense. But everyone is hindered when communication suffers. It is exceedingly difficult to react calmly and smartly when there’s a dearth of information about what’s happening.

In “The 9/11 Commission Report,” communication failures were cited as a key factor that limited the response to the attacks on New York’s World Trade Center. National Review reported a few years ago that warnings about the impending collapse of the second tower saved many a police officer. But what about the firefighters? Many died because they never heard the warnings. Why? Radio systems for the fire department, police department and Port Authority Police were incompatible with each other.

It’s almost as predictable as the likelihood of another mass shooting, sadly, that emergency responders will experience trouble communicating vital information in response to a crisis.

Maybe not in Rogers.

Officials with the Rogers School District recently reported the district will join city government on a radio system that will provide instant communication with first responders if some emergency arises within the school system. Through the statewide Arkansas Wireless Information System, each school will get radios through which school leaders can talk with each other or directly to police and fire department personnel.

“In any type of crisis, real-time information is one of the most valuable things responders to that situation can have,” said Charles Lee, assistant superintendent for general administration.

Voters can give themselves a pat on the back for providing this extra level of safety; the city’s $3.35 million radio system is funded by the extension of the one-cent sales tax approved in an August election. The school district has budgeted $350,000 to buy radios.

Rogers Police Chief Hayes Minor said the nation’s long list of school-related shootings make the shared radio system a “positive step.” Fire Chief Tom Jenkins noted the benefits of strong communication on more routine calls, such as when a student needs assistance for a medical challenge.

The public rarely gets to see the inside workings necessary to ensure an effective emergency response. This sharing of a radio system provides a higher level of protection for the community and marks a great investment in public safety.

AP RADIO
Update hourly