Saturday, July 23, 2011

Knowledge Quiz, No. 16

I dislike the term trivia. No knowledge is trivial. All information contributes to the whole of an intelligent human being. And, it is an essential part of critical thinking. That is why I did not call this a Trivia Quiz. Instead, I am calling it a Knowledge Quiz.


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Knowledge Quiz, No. 16


1. Who was the first man to go into space?


2. Who was Frida Kahlo?


3. Where is the giant statue Christ the Redeemer located?


4. Who is the Secretary General of The United Nations?


5. Who wrote the poem The Road Not Taken?


6. What is a flame tree?


7. Who created the vaccine to prevent polio?


8. What is Murphy's Law?


9. What two items does a king or queen of England hold in their hands when they are crowned?


10. What is the main flavor ingredient in rum?


11. What was St. Petersburg known as during the Soviet era?


12. Who painted The Last Supper?


13. Upon what play was the musical My Fair Lady based?


14. How many nations are currently in The European Union?


15. Where is Angkor Wat?


16. What is an ascot?


17. What horse races comprise racing's Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing?


18. Who is the Prime Minister of Canada?


19. Who said, "The lady doth protest too much methinks"?


20. Why is the popular "trick-or-treat" holiday called Halloween?



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Answers


1. Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin (1934–1968), a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut, was the first human being in outer space. He was aboard a Vostok spacecraft which completed an orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961.


2. Frida Kahlo de Rivera (1907–1954)was born Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón was a famous Mexican painter best known for her self-portraits. She was married to the well-known Mexican artist, Diego Rivera. Mexican culture and Native American cultural tradition are an important element in her work. She said, "I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best" and "I was born a bitch. I was born a painter."


3. Christ the Redeemer is a statue of Jesus Christ in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is the second largest Art Deco statue in the world. It is 130 feet (39.6 meters) tall, including its 31 foot (9.5 meters) pedestal. It weighs 635 tons and is located at the peak of the 2,300 foot (700-meters) Corcovado mountain which overlooking the city. It was constructed between 1922 and 1931.


4. Ban Ki-moon (born:1944) is the eight and current UN Secretary-General. Before he became Secretary-General in 2007, Ban was a career diplomat in South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and at the United Nations.


5. The poem The Road Not Taken was written by Robert Frost (1874-1963). Published in 1916, The Road Not Taken is a narrative poem consisting of four stanzas of iambic tetrameter verse and is considered one of Frost's most popular works. The text of the poem appears after answer 20.


6. A flame tree (Delonix regia) is a species of flowering plant and is noted for its fern-like leaves and flamboyant display of flowers. In many tropical parts of countries around the world it is grown as an ornamental tree. In English it is given the name Royal Poinciana or Flamboyant. The plant has large flowers with four spreading scarlet or orange-red petals and a fifth upright petal called the standard which is slightly larger and spotted with yellow and white. It is a common plant in parts of Central America, India, central Africa, southeast Asia, parts of the American Southwest, and the island of Madagascar. In Puerto Rico, the town of Penuelas has been nicknamed "The Valley of the Flames" or "El Valle de los Flamboyanes" because there are so many flame trees there.


7. Two polio vaccines are used to prevent polio (poliomyelitis). The first was developed by Jonas Salk and first tested in 1952. Announced to the world by Salk on April 12, 1955, it consists of an injected dose of inactivated polio virus. An oral vaccine was developed by Albert Sabin using attenuated (reduced virulence, but still alive) polio virus. Human trials of Sabin's vaccine began in 1957 and it was licensed in 1962. The two vaccines have eliminated polio from most countries in the world, and reduced the worldwide incidence of polio from an estimated 350,000 cases in 1988 to 1,652 cases in 2007.


8. Murphy's law is an adage or an epigram that is says as: "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong". Arthur Bloch in his 1977 book Murphy's Law, and Other Reasons Why Things Go Wrong contains a letter that he received from George E. Nichols who recalls an event that occurred in 1949 at Edwards Air Force Base in California that according to Nichols is the origin of Murphy's Law. An excerpt from the letter says ...The Law's namesake was Capt. Ed Murphy, a development engineer from Wright Field Aircraft Lab. Frustration with a strap transducer which was malfunctioning due to an error in wiring the strain gage bridges caused him to remark "If there is any way to do it wrong, he will" referring to the technician who had wired the bridges at the Lab. I assigned Murphy's Law to the statement…..


9. The newly crown monarch carries an orb in one hand and a scepter in the other. The orb (globus cruciger), Latin for "cross-bearing orb") is a globe with a cross on top. It is a Christian symbol of authority symbolizing Christ's (the cross) dominion over the world (the orb). It is associated with the scepter, a symbolic ornamental rod and sign of authority dating back to Ancient Egypt.


10. Rum is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented and distilled sugarcane, sugarcane juice, or molasses. The majority of the world's rum production occurs in Caribbean and Latin American countries and territories.


11. St. Petersburg (Petrograd) in Russia was re-name Leningrad when it was part of the communist Soviet Union. Saint Petersburg was founded by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703. From 1713 through 1728 and again from 1732 until 1918, it was the capital of Russia. It is Russia's second largest city with 4.6 million inhabitants. Saint Petersburg is a major European cultural centre and an important port. The city was renamed Leningrad from 1924 to 1991.


12. The painting The Last Supper was painted by Leonardo da Vinci. The mural was painted between 1495 and 1498. The painting covers a wall in the dining room of the monastery, Santa Maria delle Grazie, in Milan, Italy.


13. The musical My Fair Lady is based on the 1912 stage play by George Bernard Shaw entitled Pygmalion. The plot of both the play and the musical revolves around Professor Henry Higgins, a phonics authority, who makes a bet that he can train a Cockney flower girl named Eliza Doolittle to pass for a duchess at an ambassador's garden party (in the musical, a ball) by teaching her gentility and impeccable speech. In ancient Greek mythology, Pygmalion was the creator of a sculpture of a female which came to life.


14. Currently, there are 27 member nations in the European Union. It started with the formation by six countries of the European Economic Commission in 1958. The 27 sovereign member nations are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuanian, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Together they have a combined population of 500 million.


15. Angkor Wat is a temple complex in Angkor, Cambodia. It was built for the King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city. As the best-preserved temple at the site which has a large number of temples and it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since it was built. When first built , it was a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu. Eventually, it became a Buddhist temple. It is the world's largest religious building.


16. An ascot or ascot tie is a narrow neckband with wide pointed wings, traditionally made of a patterned silk. The wide tie is worn over the neck and tucked into the shirt. It is folded over and fastened with a stickpin or tie tack. It is usually reserved for wear with morning dress or for formal daytime weddings. The use of ascots was widespread in the early nineteenth century.


17. In the United States, the three races that compose the Triple Crown are the Kentucky Derby (Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky); the Preakness Stakes (Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore, Maryland); and the Belmont Stakes (Belmont Park, Elmont, New York). The last horse to win the Triple Crown was Affirmed in 1978.


18. The current Prime Minster of Canada is Steven Harper. He is the 22nd Canadian Prime Minister; a member of the Conservative Party; was born in 1959; is from Calgary, Alberta; and has served as Prime Minister since 2006.


19. "The lady doth protest too much methinks" was said by Queen Gertrude in Act 3, scene 2, of Hamlet, by William Shakespeare. The phrase has come to mean that one can insist so passionately about something which is not true that people suspect the opposite of what the person is saying is the truth.


20. Halloween (or Hallowe'en, All Hallows Eve, and All Saints Day Eve) is an annual holiday observed on October 31. Activities such as trick-or-treating, dressing up in costumes, carving jack-o-lantern pumpkins, lighting bonfires, and watching horror films are common activities after sundown. The word Halloween first appeared in the 16th century and is a Scottish variation of All-Hallows-Even ("even" and "e'en" are abbreviations for "evening"), that is, the night before All Hallows Day. "Hollows" is another word for "saint" and is related to the word "halo", a ring of light around a saint's head. On All Hallows Eve, there was a belief that the graves of the dead opened up after sundown and the spirits of the dead walked on the earth until dawn. To scare off these spirits bonfires and jack-o-lanterns with scary faces were lit. Eventually, people dressed up as ghosts and goblins and attempted to frighten people themselves. To prevent being frightened or damage, the people would give them "treats"- money or sweets. These customs continue in modern times.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

News You May Have Missed, No. 21

1. Mount Lokon, a volatile volcano in central Indonesia, unleashed its most powerful eruption to date. It spewed hot ash and smoke thousands of feet (meters) into the air and sending panicked villagers racing back to emergency shelters. There were no immediate reports of casualties. The volcano is located on northern Sulawesi island and has been dormant for years. But, it rumbled back to life in early July. A series of night blasts claimed one life, a woman who suffered a heart attack as she fled. But Surono, a government volcanologist who uses only one name, said the most recent eruption released the greatest amount of energy so far, shooting soot and debris 11,400 feet (3,500 meters) into the sky. "We're hoping this helped ease pressure building up behind the magma dome and that we'll now start seeing a reduction in activity," he said. "But it's too early to know." More than 33,000 people live along the slopes of Mount Lokon, taking advantage of fertile soil to grow cloves and coffee. About 5,000 of them with homes nearest to the crater have been relocated in recent days to schools, mosques and other makeshift shelters near the base. Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 240 million people, is prone to earthquakes and volcanoes because it sits along the Pacific "Ring of Fire," a horseshoe-shaped string of faults that lines the Pacific Ocean.




2. Teenagers, especially girls, who binge drink could be damaging the part of their brain which controls memory and spatial awareness, say Californian researchers. Young women's brains are particularly vulnerable to harm from alcohol because they develop earlier than men's. Tests on 95 adolescents aged 16 to 19 were carried out by researchers at several US universities. The study was published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. Researchers recruited 27 binge-drinking males and 13 females and gave them neurophsychological tests and "spatial working memory" tests to complete. Binge-drinking young women were defined as those drinking more than three pints of beer or more than four glasses of wine at one sitting. Binge-drinking men drank four pints of beer or a bottle of wine. The same tests were then carried out on 31 males and 24 females who did not have episodes of drinking heavily and the results compared. Previous research has shown that among adult alcoholics, women are more vulnerable to the damaging effects of alcohol on the brain than men. Females' brains develop one to two years earlier than males” Edith Sullivan, a professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, said that the brains of adolescent boys and girls appear to be affected differently by alcohol. Females' brains develop one to two years earlier than males, so alcohol use during a different developmental stage could account for the gender differences.




3. Many dementia patients being prescribed antipsychotic drugs could be better treated with simple painkillers, research says. A British and Norwegian study published on the BMJ website found painkillers significantly cut agitation in dementia patients. Agitation, a common dementia symptom, is often treated with antipsychotic drugs which have risky side effects. Experts say that each year a large number of prescribed antipsychotics are given dementia victims. These drugs have a powerful sedative effect, can worsen dementia symptoms, and can increase the risk of stroke or even death. They are often given to patients whose dementia makes them aggressive or agitated. But researchers from Kings College, London, and Norway speculated that the behavior may sometimes be caused by pain which patients were unable to express in other ways. The study involved 352 patients with moderate or severe dementia in nursing homes in Norway. Half were given painkillers with every meal, the rest continued with their usual treatments. After eight weeks, there was a 17% reduction in agitation symptoms in the group being given painkillers, a greater improvement than would have been expected from treatment with antipsychotics. The researchers concluded that if patient's pain was properly managed, doctors could reduce the number of prescriptions for antipsychotic drugs.




4. According to a recent study by researchers at Umea University in Sweden, there is another possible consequence of a long commute. In addition to waking up early, unexpected and long traffic jams, and the high cost of gasoline , you can add a higher likelihood of divorce. The report which analyzed 10 years of data on more than 2 million Swedish couples found that those in which at least one person had a long commute (more than 30 kilometers/18.6 miles) were 40% more likely to get divorced than couples with shorter-distance commutes. Chances of separation were highest during the first few years of long-distance commuting. Not surprising, a big contributor to the higher divorce rate was the added pressure that a long distance commute puts on life at home. Often, since time spent at home was diminished for one spouse, family and household responsibilities become more of a burden for both spouses, though the specific effects differed based on which person did the commuting and the couple's view of gender roles. Overall, while a long-distance commute was a challenge for many couples, those who were willing to adapt and find creative ways to overcome it were successful in home conflicts. Successful coping strategies included viewing commuting time as personal time and using it to listen to music, reading (on public transportation), focusing on family activities and holidays, etc.




5. Exceptionally brutal rapes in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has shocked India. Many of the victims were young girls. Typical of these sexual assaults was what happened to 16 year-old Sarika. It was a cold February evening and it was pitch dark. And, it started like any other day. when she went out to the fields for her evening ablutions with her friend Chhaya. "I was feeling a little scared so I wanted to get back quickly," she said. On the way back, she says, she was attacked by Shivam and three other men from the village. "Shivam grabbed my hand and asked me to marry him. I said: 'No, how can I marry you? We live in the same village, you are like my brother.' I kicked him and tried to run away. With the help of his friends, he dragged me to a secluded area and began to assault me with knives and axes. I was conscious for some time, but once they cut me on my head and neck, I fainted. When I became conscious, I was in hospital." Sarika sustained major injuries, a fist-size wound on her scalp, a broken jaw (which has been sewn together), the severing of her right hand (which had to be re-attached), the loss of a portion of her right earlobe, and long scars on her arms. A terrified Sarika and her family have abandoned their home and land in Fatehpur district's Udrauli village to stay with relatives in another village nearly 45km (30 miles) away. Shivam has been arrested, but the others are still free. The assault on Sarika is one among the hundreds of rapes and attempted rapes this year in the state. "It's a very difficult situation here," says Roop Rekha Verma of Sajhi Duniya (Shared World), a woman's rights organization. "There is a lot of violence. Crimes are escalating; gender problems are increasing; girls are being attacked, both in rural and urban areas," she said. Uttar Pradesh is India's most populous state with 200 million people. It is also home to a staggering number of poor people. Official statistics show more than 60 million people here live on less than $1.25 (75p) a day. And the poverty makes the community more vulnerable. Many victims were raped or assaulted when they went to the fields because like millions of Indians they have no access to toilets at home.




6. The Vatican and and mostly Muslim Malaysia have agreed to establish diplomatic ties, following a meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. The move comes after years of talks between the Catholic Church and the government of Malaysia. Mr Najib's visit is said to have been intended to reassure Christians in his country who have long complained of discrimination. In a statement, the Vatican said that during their "cordial conversations, the positive developments in bilateral relations were discussed and an agreement was reached to establish diplomatic relations between Malaysia and the Holy See". The Vatican said the two leaders had also discussed the importance of cultural and religious dialogue for the promotion of peace, Associated Press news agency reports. Mr Najib's meeting with the Pope is significant for Malaysia's Christian community, which makes up about 9% of the population. Malaysia's constitution promises freedom of worship to all faiths, but a string of religious disputes in recent years has raised fears among the country's religious minorities that their rights are being eroded. In 2009 the Malay authorities tried to enforce a ban on the use of the word "God". Instead, they insisted that Christians use the word "Allah" when referring to God. Christian leaders said the word had been used in their Bibles for decades. The authorities' efforts heightened tensions, leading to arson attacks on churches and the defacing of mosques, including the leaving of pigs' heads at the entrances to some mosques. Ramon Navaratnam who works for a Malaysian inter-faith council said that forming ties with the Vatican would give the concerns of Christians a better hearing. "We now will be saying… what is right, what is wrong, what we like, what we don't like about religious freedoms or the lack of it. And, we know we will have somebody in the Vatican who would be able to at least talk to them, the government, privately and say 'look, we can't accept this. Please moderate your views'," he said. Navaratnam said the government could no longer ignore religious minorities, most of whom are ethnically Chinese and Indians.




7. Dr. Jeffrey J. Narmi could not believe what he was seeing in the emergency room at Schuylkill Medical Center in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, USA. People were arriving so agitated, violent, and psychotic that a small army of medical workers was needed to hold them down. They had taken new stimulant drugs that people are calling “bath salts” and sometimes even large doses of sedatives failed to quiet them. “There were some who were admitted overnight for treatment and subsequently admitted to the psych floor upstairs,” Dr. Narmi said. “These people were completely disconnected from reality and in a very bad place.” Similar reports are emerging from hospitals around the country, as doctors scramble to figure out the best treatment for people high on bath salts. The drugs started turning up regularly in the United States last year and have proliferated in recent months, alarming doctors, who say they have unusually dangerous and long-lasting effects. Though they come in powder and crystal form like traditional bath salts (hence their name), they differ in one crucial way: they are used as recreational drugs. People typically snort, inject or smoke them. Poison control centers around the country received 3,470 calls about bath salts from January through June, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. That is up from 303 in all of 2010. “Some of these folks aren’t right for a long time,” said Karen E. Simone, director of the Northern New England Poison Center. “If you gave me a list of drugs that I wouldn’t want to touch, this would be at the top.” At least 28 states have banned bath salts, which are typically sold for $25 to $50 per 50-milligram packet at convenience stores and head shops under names like Aura, Ivory Wave, Loco-Motion and Vanilla Sky. Most of the bans are in the South and the Midwest, where the drugs have grown quickly in popularity. But, states like Maine, New Jersey and New York have also outlawed them after seeing evidence that their use was spreading. The cases are jarring and similar to those involving PCP in the 1970s. Some of the recent incidents include a man in Indiana who climbed a roadside flagpole and jumped into traffic, a man in Pennsylvania who broke into a monastery and stabbed a priest, and a woman in West Virginia who scratched herself “to pieces” over several days because she thought there was something under her skin. Bath salts contain manmade chemicals like mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, or MDPV, also known as substituted cathinones. Both drugs are related to khat, an organic stimulant found in Arab and East African countries that is illegal in the United States. They are similar to so-called synthetic marijuana which has also been banned in a number of states. Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, introduced federal legislation in February to classify bath salts as controlled Schedule I substances, but it remains in committee. Meanwhile, the drugs remain widely available on the Internet, and experts say the state bans can be thwarted by chemists who need change only one molecule in salts to make them legal again. The substance remains legal in Arizona which has had an up-serge in emergency room cases.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Knowledge Quiz, No. 15

I dislike the term trivia. No knowledge is trivial. All information contributes to the whole of an intelligent human being. And, it is an essential part of critical thinking. That is why I did not call this a Trivia Quiz. Instead, I am calling it a Knowledge Quiz.


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Knowledge Quiz, No. 15



The playwright George Bernard Shaw said, "England and America are two countries separated by a common language." He also said in his play Pygmalion, "There even are places where English completely disappears. In America, they haven't used it for years."


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Here is a knowledge quiz composed of common British English words.


The question for each is, what is their American English counterpart.



1. Torch.




2. Boot.




3. Marrow.




4. Napkin.




5. Serviette.




6. Football.




7. Lorry.




8. Aubergine.




9. Faggot.




10. Call box.




11. Lift.




12. Casket.




13. Interval.




14. Diversion.




15. Paraffin.




16. Cock up.




17. Brackets.




18. Spanner.




19. Public school.




20. Roundabout.




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Answers




1. Flashlight.




2. Trunk (of a car).




3. Zucchini, or green squash.




4. Diaper (for a baby).




5. Napkin.




6. Soccer.




7. Truck.




8. Eggplant.




9. A bundle of sticks (particularly for lighting a fire).




10. Telephone booth.




11. Elevator.




12. A small box for jewels.




13. Intermission.




14. Detour.




15. Kerosene.




16. To make a mess of things.




17. Parentheses.




18. Wrench.




19. Private school.




20. a) merry-go-round (carousel);


b) traffic circle.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Decline of United States

Like most other nations, United States has always had its problems and has been a divided nation. Among the most contentious issues have been slavery, state's rights, taxes, voting rights, foreign entanglements, Native Americans, ethnic diversity, and religion. But, even in the roughest time there was still the hope of a better tomorrow. Today, yet again this nation is being torn apart, but this time there is heavy disillusionment with American ideals and its capacity to solve its problems. And, there is a prevalent feeling that the next generation of Americans will not be as well off as the current generation and that there is little hope for a better tomorrow.




The last century has been called "The American Century" by some historians. And for most of the last 100 years, the USA was the envy of the world. To hear the rhetoric of self-style American patriots, it still is or should still be. But, the "My country right or wrong" and "Love it or leave it" have refused to come to grips with the fact that America is in decline and in real danger of disintegrating and will go the way of The Roman Empire.




Here is the reality concerning what is going on in the USA today:







Recent Politics




· In 1999, after reiterating that voting is a state matter according to The Constitution, the Republican appointee who wore an oath to uphold The Constitution, violated their oath of office and delivered the Presidency to George W. Bush. Bush lost the popular vote but claimed a mandate by the people.







· After the greatest attack by foreign adversaries on American soil, Bush said that he "seldom thinks about Bin Laden" and eventually disbanded the military unit in charge of either capturing or killing him.





· Already in a war in Afghanistan, The Bush Administration went to war in Iraq over weapons of mass destruction. There were no WMD's in Iraq and that country posed no danger to The United States. Several months later, Bush appeared on an aircraft carrier with a sign behind him saying Mission Accomplished. But, the war dragged on for years and there are still American troops in Iraq 9 years after the start of the war. The war in Afghanistan is the longest war in U.S. history- 11 years.





· For the first time in history, the U.S. under Bush cut taxes in a time of war. Bush, who inherited a surplus when he was installed a President, created an enormous and on-going deficit.





· The Supreme Court rules 5 to 4 that corporations have the same rights as citizens. Every Republican on the court claimed to be a strict constructionist when it a comes to interpreting The Constitution. That means they interpret The Constitution literally. But, they seem to neglect the fact that The Constitution says that the power rests with the people and makes no mention of corporations.





· Amid a epidemic of gun violence and attempts by state and local governments to curb or restrict the use of guns, The Supreme Court ruled in favor of unrestricted gun ownership. The Republican Party is "the party of the gun", and the powerful NRA (National Rifle Association) is one of its main backers. So, the Republican majority on The Court cited the Constitutional phrase "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed". But, it ignored the phrase just before it,"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State" when they knock out any control of firearms by local governments. But, there is no "well regulated militia", only unrestricted gun sales and usage. Gun violence continues and even a Democratic Congresswoman was shot because of unrestricted gun sales in Arizona. Bullets are the largest selling single item in the U. S. Nevertheless, guns are not allowed in The Supreme Court Building.





· Barack Obama was elected in 2000. He was the first mix-race individual to be elected President. There was a relentless barrage of hate over his race from Republicans and Republican media. They went to far as to say that he was an "illegitimate President" because they maintained that he was not born in the US. When he supplied his birth certificate, the hate-mongers said it was a forgery. A majority of people in the Southern former slave-holding states still believe that he is an illegitimate President who was not born in Hawaii.





· The Republican Party took over The House of Representatives in the off-year election in 2010 on a pledge of creating jobs. But instead of creating jobs, the concentrated on repealing health care, preventing legal abortions, cutting taxes for the wealthy, oil company subsidies, repealing environmental laws, eliminating or cutting back Social Security and Medicare for the elderly, reduction aid to the poor, etc. Their policies have not produced a single job.




Unemployment




· Just under 10% of Americans are unemployed due a banking crisis and economic collapse which was the results of bad economic policies on the part of The Bush Administration. And, when you factor in those who no longer are seeking employment because they have given up searching for a job or are under-employed, the statistic rises to an estimated 19%. College graduates either cannot find employment or are over-qualified for the jobs that they have. Senior citizens work at McDonalds to make ends meet. Those who are working work long hours, multi-task, don't take vacations and/or live in fear of getting laid off. Yet, every attempt at new job creation by The Obama Administration has been objected to or thwarted by the Republican Party.




Manufacturing and Canned Goods




· America-made was something that the world wanted and respected. But, in the last 20 years, made in America has been increasing rare. Steel production is so rare that America relies on foreign countries to get steel for its navy to build ships. The American automobile is badly built in comparison to those made Germany, Japan, and South Korea. There is little garment, toy or electronics production left in America. And, because of an FDA regulation that says that canned food can count water in the weight, a can of food (tuna, chicken, vegetables, etc.) is 1/4 to 1/2 water. What America excels at is unhealthy fast food which is loaded with salt and fat.




Education




· American education is not on a par with other industrial countries. In the US, the school year is one of the lowest in terms of the number of days of any major nation. Students and parents have little respect for teachers and teachers are under-paid. Parents are frequently not involved with their children's education; there is a movement to eliminate homework; and, teachers must make education look like fun rather than serious work. The latest statistics are that in reading skills and math skills, the US is almost at the bottom. There is much written about this problem, but little is done about it except blame the teachers. The fact that there is community and political control of schools, bad funding practices, the mixing of science and religion, under-funding of schools with heavy immigrant or minority populations, and politically motivated textbooks and literature selections seems to never be a part of the discussion. And, in some school district, in response to the education crisis, the school week has been cut from 5 to 4 days a week for funding and tax reasons.




Taxes




· There is a man called Grover Norquist. Although most people have never heard of him, he is an important financial contributor to The Republican Party. He once said, "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." He is opposed to all taxes and increases in taxes. He has Republican Congress-people sign a statement that under no circumstances and no matter how dire the circumstances, they will not vote for any increase in taxes. All but 3 Republican members of The House and every Republican member of The Senate has signed the Norquist statement. So, The Republicans have violated their sworn duty to uphold The Constitution and to work in the interests of the people of the United States to further the narrow and self-serving interest of Grover Norquist.







· Corporate taxes in the U.S. are among the lowest in the industrial world. One survey of the major industrial powers ranked the U.S. as number 37. Some corporations like GE and Mobile had record profit and in some cases get government tax-payer subsidies. Yet The Republicans want to lower corporate taxes further.





· Federal tax revenue is unevenly distributed among the various states For every dollar in taxes richer states sent to Washington, they get back about 85 cents back in Federal money and services. Poor states get back about $1.20 cents in aid and services. The poorer, religiously fundamentalist, intolerant and conservative Republican states tend to be in the South and Mid-west. They tend to be low state tax states that rely heavily on Federal aid. They and their politicians decry the more liberal, "Godless", more tolerant, richer Democratic states which subsidize them. They demand Federal services when natural catastrophes strike (like devastating hurricanes) while metaphorically biting the hand that feeds them.





Bigotry





· The United States prides itself as a nation which is a tolerant of diversity and a refuge for the down-trodden and the persecuted. Yet both history and current circumstances paint a different picture. The U.S. still does not call the eradication and forced marches of Native Americans a genocide. The South still glorifies the war to preserve slavery, The Civil War, as a "noble cause". The U.S. government placed Japanese-American citizens in desolate concentration camps during World War II. And, lest you think that this is all ancient history, take a look at what is going on today.





· Bigotry is alive and well in the U.S. Internet images and the corporate-funded anti-tax Tea Party sub-group of the Republican Party carry protest placards depicting President Obama as monkey and as "Little Black Sambo". The anti-immigration feeling and movement is blatantly anti-Hispanic and Muslim. There is not a peep by the anti-immigration people about illegal immigrants from Canada, Ireland, Israel, India or Russia. And, religious intolerance is still around with anti-Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and Mormon hate groups particularly among the religious fundamentalists. Women are discriminated against in the workplace and are often fired when they become pregnant. And, a women's right to chose a legal option abortion and/or to do what she wants with her own body is continually undermined and under constant attack by those who insist that their own religious views on abortion are the only ones with any validity. Finally, gay men and lesbians are constant victims of discrimination, insult, assault, and discriminary policies and laws.




Standard of Living




· American incomes have been eroding for years. The reasons are familiar. Manufacturing jobs, once the source of decent wages for people without college degrees, are no longer the bedrock of the economy. Manufacturing and the jobs they can provide have been shipped overseas. There is an economic down-turn. The cost of living continues to climb. College graduates cannot find jobs and many have moved back with their parents. Unemployment is just under 10%. Computers, and then the Internet, have profoundly changed every industry. It is leveling incomes in the United States, because companies can go anywhere for many types of workers.







· The U.S. economy appears to be just treading water. Between 1989 and 2009, all American households together gained just 3% in income, after adjusting for inflation. In essence, incomes have stood still for 20 years. But, even that statistic is deceptive. It would look much worse except that the massive baby boom generation (born 1946 through 1964) is now in its peak earning years. The big boomer salaries inflate the average. The reality is that many age groups are losing ground as compared with their parents at the same age. The group of people in their peak earning years, ages 45 to 54, lost more than 7% in household inflation-adjusted income between 1989 and 2009.





· As bad as all of this looks, it doesn't completely take into account that some of people's biggest costs have risen much faster than inflation: Pensions. Few workers younger than 54 have the kind of employer-paid pensions that their parents are retired on. Today, most workers have to fund their own retirement plans. Research shows that private-sector workers who have traditional pensions fell from 62% in 1979 to 33% in 2009. Health insurance. Not long ago, many workers enjoyed employer-covered insurance with low co-pays and deductibles. Today, many workers have no health insurance at all. Others have very skimpy coverage. So, everyone pays more. Average household spending for health insurance grew from $370 in 1984 (that's $764 in 2009 dollars) to $1,785 in 2009. Housing. A new median-priced home in 1980 costs 3.5 times the median salary of a person working full-time. By 2009, it was 4.6 times a person's salary. (A house cost 5.5 times a prson's income in 2007, at the peak of the housing bubble). College education. In 1980, a year's tuition at a four-year public university cost 14% of the median earnings of a person who worked full time. By 2006, it took 30% of a person's median paycheck. Higher education results in enormous debt for many students and is totally out of reach for many others.





Obesity





· The U.S. has a major obesity problem. An annual obesity report by two U.S. public health groups looked for the first time at state-by-state statistics over the last two decades. The study, based on 2010 data, says a dozen states top 30 percent obesity, most of them in the South. Mississippi topped the list for the seventh year in a row, with Alabama, West Virginia, Tennessee and Louisiana close behind. Just five years ago, in 2006, Mississippi was the only state above 30 percent. No state decreased its level of obesity, which is defined as a body mass index of 30 or more. The body mass index is a measurement based on weight and height. First Lady Michelle Obama has tackled the issue with her "Let's Move" campaign, pushing for healthier school lunches, more access to fruits and vegetables and more physical activity. Some Republicans (like Sarah Palin) objected to the First Lady's initiatives and Republicans in Congress have pushed back against some of those programs saying a rewrite of school lunch rules is too costly. They also question an Obama administration effort to curb junk food marketing aimed at children. As in previous years, the study showed that racial and ethnic minorities, along with those who have less education and make less money, have the highest obesity rates. Adult obesity rates for African-Americans topped 40 percent in 15 states, while whites topped 30 percent in only four states. About a third of adults who did not graduate from high school are obese; about a fifth of those who graduated from college are considered obese.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Knowledge Quiz, No. 14

I dislike the term trivia. No knowledge is trivial. All information contributes to the whole of an intelligent human being. And, it is an essential part of critical thinking. That is why I did not call this a Trivia Quiz. Instead, I am calling it a Knowledge Quiz.



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Knowledge Quiz, No. 14



1. What was the Minotaur?



2. What are the secondary colors?



3. What are The Beatitudes?



4. Who said, "I think therefore I am"?



5. In what Shakespeare play does the character Puck appear?



6. What is the asteroid belt?



7. Who wrote the book The Stranger?



8. What is PLS?



9. What is a platitude?



10. What started World War I?



11. What street is called "The Great White Way"?



12. Who was Paris?



13. Who created the first encyclopedia?



14. Who was the third child of Adam and Eve?



15. To what religion did the Dutch painter Rembrandt belong?



16. What was the first feature film with the sound of the human voice?



17. The USA was the first nation to become independent in the Americas. What was the second?



18. According to the children's nursery rhyme, what three things did Old King Cole call for?



19. What three famous rock-n-roll singers died in a plane-crash on February 3, 1959?



20. Where is The Golden Temple?



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Answers



1. According to Ancient Greek mythology, the Minotaur was a creature with the head of a bull with the body of a man. He was said to dwell in the center of the Cretan Labyrinth, an elaborate maze built for King Minos of the island of Crete. The labyrinth was designed by the architect Daedalus and his son Icarus who were ordered to build it to hold the Minotaur. The Minotaur was eventually killed by the Athenian hero Theseus.



2. The secondary colors are orange, green and purple. (The primary colors are red, blue and yellow.) Combining red and yellow makes orange. Combining blue and yellow creates green. Combining blue and red creates purple.



3. The Beatitudes are a portion of The Sermon on the Mount by Jesus. Each statement begins with the words, Blessed are…. Each Beatitude consists of two phrases: the condition and the result. (You can read The Beatitudes after answer 20.)



4. "I think therefore I am" was said by the French philosopher Rene Descartes (1596-1650). Originally said in Latin, the statement was Cogito ergo sum. In French, it is Je pense donc je suis. The phrase has become a fundamental element of Western philosophy. It forms the foundation of all human knowledge because all things can be questioned as to whether they are from the realm of reality or from some figment of imagination, but the act of doubting one's own existence serves as proof of the reality of one's own existence.



5. Puck appears in Shakespeare's A Mid-summer Nights Dream. In English folklore, Puck is a mischievous nature sprite or fairy. He is also called Robin Goodfellow.



6. The asteroid belt is the region of The Solar System located between the orbits of the planets of Mars and Jupiter. It is occupied by a large number of irregularly shaped bodies called asteroids. Previous thinking was that the asteroids were an exploded planet has been largely discredited in favor of the theory that the asteroids are in fact mini-planets.



7. The book, The Stranger, was written by Albert Camus. The Stranger or The Outsider (L’Étranger) was published in 1942. Although Camus did not consider himself an existentialist, the book's theme and point of view are often cited as examples of existentialism. The title character is Meursault, a French Algerian who without cause kills an Arab man whom he recognizes. The novel deals with the themes of free will, colonialism, the importance of the physical and the sensual, and the meaninglessness of life.



8. PLS, or Primary Lateral Sclerosis, is a rare neuromuscular disease characterized by progressive muscle weakness in the voluntary muscles. PLS belongs to a group of disorders known as motor neuron diseases. Motor neuron diseases develop when the nerve cells which control voluntary muscle movement degenerate and die thus causing weakness in the muscles they control. PLS only affects upper motor neurons. PLS usually occurs spontaneously after age 50 and progresses gradually over a number of years or decades. The disorder usually begins in the legs. Symptoms may include difficulty with balance and weakness and stiffness in the legs. There is no known cure for PLS.



9. A platitude is a trite or banal remark or statement, especially one expressed as if it were original or significant. A synonym for platitude is the word cliché.



10. World War I (1914-1918), also known as The Great War, started with the assassination by a Serbian nationalist of the heir to the throne of The Austro-Hungarian Empire, Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914. Several alliances that had formed over previous decades were invoked and within weeks the major powers of Europe were at war. Because these powers were also colonial powers, the conflict spread to their colonies and soon involved much of the world.



11. The Great White Way is Broadway in New York City. The euphemism for the famous street is rooted in the many white lights on the marquees of the theaters on Broadway. In addition, Broadway is the only street that runs the full length of Manhattan island.



12. According to Ancient Greek myth, three goddesses claimed the a golden apple which was intended for the most beautiful of the goddesses. The three goddesses were Hera, Athena and Aphrodite . They asked Zeus to judge which of them was fairest, but Zeus was reluctant to chose any of the three himself. So he declared that Paris, a Trojan mortal, would judge their cases, because he had a reputation for fairness. After each goddess attempted to bribe Paris, he chose Aphrodite who bribed him with an offer of the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen of Sparta, the wife of the King of Sparta, Menelaus. Paris accepted Aphrodite's gift. The Greek expedition to retrieve Helen from Paris in Troy is the mythological basis of the Trojan War during which Paris was slain.



13. The oldest encyclopedia to have survived to modern times is the Naturalis Historia, by Pliny, the Elder, a Roman statesman who lived in the 1st Century AD. He compiled a work of 37 chapters covering natural history, art and architecture, medicine, geography, geology and all aspects of the world around him. He stated in the preface that he had compiled 20,000 facts from 2000 different works by 200 authors, and added many others from his own experience. The work was published circa AD 77-79, although he probably never finished proofing the work before his death in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.



The beginnings of the modern idea of the general-purpose printed encyclopedia started with Chambers' Cyclopedia (1728) and Diderot and D'Alembert's Encyclopedie (1751). They were the first works to create the form we recognize today as being an encyclopedia, a comprehensive series of topics discussed in depth and organized in a systematic method.



14. It was Seth. Cain killed Abel and for that he was banished to the land of Nod, east of Eden. But according to the book of Genesis in The Bible, Seth was born when Adam was 130 years old as "a son in his likeness and image." It also states that Adam fathered "sons and daughters" until his death at 930 years of age. In Genesis 4:25, it gives a meaning for Seth's name. It is derived from the Hebrew word for "plant" as in "plant a seed". Eve says, "God has planted another seed" to replace Abel". Seth lived to the age of 912.



15. Rembrandt van Rijn was a Mennonite. The Mennonites are a Christian denomination named after the Menno Simons (1496-1561). Simons through his writings articulated and formalized the teachings of the earlier Swiss founders of the church. Over the years, Mennonites have become known as one of the "peace churches" because of their commitment to nonviolence. There are currently about 1.5 million Mennonites worldwide.



16. The first feature-length movie with sound was the American musical, The Jazz Singer, in1927. Its release heralded the rise of the "talkies" and the decline of the silent film era. It was produced by Warner Brothers and stared singer Al Jolson who performs six songs in the film. The Jazz Singer was directed by Alan Crosland and was based on a play by Samson Raphaelson.



17. The second nation to achieve independence in the Americas was Haiti. It declared independence on January 1, 1804.



18. Old King Cole was a merry old soul
And a merry old soul was he;
He called for his pipe, and he called for his bowl
And he called for his fiddlers three
.



The historical identity of King Cole has been much debated and no one knows for certain who he was. The nursery rhyme was first published in England in 1708-1709.





19. The three rock-n-roll signer who died in that plane crash in an Iowa cornfield were Buddy Holly (Charles Hardin Holley), Richie Valens (Ricardo Esteban Valenzuala Reyes), and The Big Bopper (Jiles Perry, aka: "J. P." Richardson, Jr.). The date, February 3, 1959, is a date that has become known as "The Day the Music Died" and has been immortalized by a song by Don MacLean in his song, American Pie.



20. The Golden Temple (refered to in Punjabi as Harmandir Sahibal and Darbar Sahib) is a sacred structure for Sikhs. It is prominent a gurdwara (place of worship) located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab, India. Construction of the gurdwara was begun by Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru, and completed by his successor, Guru Arjan Dev. In 1604, the Adi Granth, the holy scripture of Sikhism, was placed in the gurdwara. In the early nineteenth century, Maharaja Ranjit Singh covered the upper floors of the gurdwara with gold which gives it its impressive and distinctive appearance. It also created the name by which it is known in English, "The Golden Temple".



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The Beatitudes



from The King James Bible



The Book of Matthew, Verse 5:3





Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.



Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.



Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.



Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.



Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.



Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.



Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.



Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

News You May Have Missed. No. 20

1. India's health minister has derided homosexuality as an unnatural "disease" from the West, drawing outrage Tuesday from activists who said the comments set back the country's campaign for gay rights and its fight against HIV. The comments by Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad at a conference on HIV/AIDS in New Delhi echoed a common refrain in the conservative South Asian nation that homosexuality is a Western import. "Unfortunately this disease… where a man has sex with another man, which is completely unnatural and should not happen, but does," Azad said. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi and a slew of government ministers were also present at the conference. There was no immediate comment from the health ministry, and the prime minister's office refused to discuss the Azad's remarks. Anjali Gopalan, who heads the NAZ Foundation, a rights group that works with HIV positive people and promotes equal rights for homosexuals, said Azad's comments were deeply troubling coming from the health minister of a country fighting a tough battle against HIV infections. "These comments help no cause. It's definitely not going to help in our fight against HIV," she told The Associated Press. Roughly 2.5 million Indians have HIV, making it the country with the largest number of people living with the virus in Asia.




2. A woman was caught trying to smuggle her husband out of a Mexican prison in a suitcase, it has emerged. Maria del Mar Arjona, 19, was stopped after the guards at the jail in Chetumal saw her acting nervously and struggling with the heavy suitcase on wheels. They opened the bag and found her husband Edwin Valdemar Artiaga Perez inside. He was wearing only socks and pants. The pregnant Ms. Arjona had been at the prison in the eastern Quintana Roo state for a conjugal visit with her husband, and therefore had been allowed to take the suitcase inside said officials. The husband was returned to his cell after his attempted jailbreak attempt. Arjona was detained by the police.




3. Fertility doctors say they have found a non-invasive way to screen in vitro fertilized embryos for genetic abnormalities. The current method involves taking cells from the embryo itself, which experts fear may be harmful. UK researchers said it is now possible to run the same checks on cells surrounding the fertilized egg that are normally thrown away. The test could tell a woman if her baby was likely to have a condition like Down's syndrome. It would not only be less invasive and cheaper too. Lead researcher Elpida Fragouli, from Oxford University, said: "In the ovary, the eggs are surrounded by a cloud of tiny cells, known as cumulus cells. Cumulus cells are routinely stripped off eggs during IVF treatments and are usually discarded, so it should be straightforward to obtain them for analysis…. We are still in the process of establishing the usefulness of these genes as non-invasive markers of egg chromosome status and quality. However, it is interesting that several of these genes are involved in vital cellular functions of the cumulus cells and egg they enclose, such as cell signaling and regulation, hormonal response and cell death, and so they may shed light on the genetic origins of chromosome abnormality."




4. Scientists in Australia have found the skeleton of a "giant wombat" which lived some two million years ago. The plant-eating marsupial would have been the size of a four-wheel drive car and weighed three tons, experts say. Its bones were found on a farm in north-eastern Australia's Queensland state. The find is one of Australia's most significant pre-historic discoveries ever because the skeleton is complete, experts say. It is the first time a complete skeleton of a diprotodon optatum has been uncovered. The animal was widespread across Australia about 50,000 years ago, when it is believed the first indigenous people lived.




5. The giant hogweed is a stunning plant. It reaches a height of up to 12 feet tall it and it has flowers as big as umbrellas. But, it is also very dangerous. Its sap can cause third degree burns and even blindness. And, New York State environmental officials are worried the plant is spreading across the state at an alarming rate. Officials have found 944 sites in New York where the green monster plant is flourishing, according to The New York Daily News newspaper. "If the sap gets on your skin and it's exposed to sunlight . . . you end up with third-degree burns, oozing and scars", said Naja Kraus, the Department of Environmental Conservation's Giant Hogweed Program coordinator. She added, "If it gets in your eyes, you can go blind." The DEC has set up a special Hogweed Hotline for New Yorkers to call in sightings of the invasive species. The giant hogweed is native to the Caucasus Mountain region between the Black and Caspian Seas. It was introduced to Europe and the United Kingdom in the late nineteenth century and to the United States in the early twentieth century as an ornamental garden plant.




6. A talented chimpanzee called Panzee can recognize distorted and incomplete words spoken by a computer, scientists have discovered. That suggests that apes may be more capable of perceiving spoken sounds than previously thought, and that the common ancestor of humans and chimps may also have had this ability. It also refutes the idea that humans have brains uniquely adapted to process speech, say the scientists who have published their findings in the journal Current Biology. From 8 days old, Panzee was raised by humans and was spoken to and treated as if she were human. At the same time, she was taught to use symbols called lexigrams to communicate."This has resulted in Panzee showing proficiency in understanding approximately 130 English words," said researcher Lisa Heimbauer. That made her an ideal subject to test hypotheses about how well other species rather than humans might be able to understand speech. "There is a view about the human ability to produce and perceive speech that is called 'Speech is Special'," said Ms Heimbauer, who is studying for her PhD. "This argument proposes that, besides humans being the only species able to produce speech, due to their anatomy, they also have a specialized cognitive module to process speech." Evidence for that comes from studies showing that humans can understand speech even when it is incomplete or highly distorted. "However, an alternative view is that auditory processing is fundamentally similar across most mammals, and that animals therefore have latent abilities for speech perception," said Ms. Heimbauer.




7. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), global food prices rose sharply in June after a steep increase in the price of sugar. The price of sugar rose by 14% last month, as a result of high demand and lower production in Brazil. The FAO food price index reached 234 points in June, close to February's record level of 239. The sugar price rise fuelled most of the increase, cancelling out falls in prices of wheat, corn and soya. The FAO's measure looks at a range of essential foods, including cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar. High food prices, particularly those of wheat, rice and corn, have sparked civil unrest in a range of countries where people rely on them for the bulk of their food intake. They were one of the factors that drove people on to the streets of Arab countries earlier this year. A global food crisis in 2008 also triggered mass protests, including riots in some developing countries.




8. An annual obesity report by two U.S. public health groups looked for the first time at state-by-state statistics over the last two decades. The state that has the lowest obesity rate now – Colorado, with 19.8 percent of adults considered obese, But, that percent would have had the highest rate in 1995. "When you look at it year by year, the changes are incremental," says Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the Trust for America's Health, which writes the annual report with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "When you look at it by a generation you see how we got into this problem." The study, based on 2010 data, says a dozen states top 30 percent obesity, most of them in the South. Mississippi topped the list for the seventh year in a row, with Alabama, West Virginia, Tennessee and Louisiana close behind. Just five years ago, in 2006, Mississippi was the only state above 30 percent. No state decreased its level of obesity, which is defined as a body mass index of 30 or more. The body mass index is a measurement based on weight and height. First Lady Michelle Obama has tackled the issue with her "Let's Move" campaign, pushing for healthier school lunches, more access to fruits and vegetables and more physical activity. Sarah Palin objected to the First Lady's initiatives and Republicans in Congress have pushed back against some of those programs saying a rewrite of school lunch rules is too costly. They also question an Obama administration effort to curb junk food marketing aimed at children. As in previous years, the study showed that racial and ethnic minorities, along with those who have less education and make less money, have the highest obesity rates. Adult obesity rates for African-Americans topped 40 percent in 15 states, while whites topped 30 percent in only four states. About a third of adults who did not graduate from high school are obese; about a fifth of those who graduated from college are considered obese.




9. In South Korea, the state Korea Food and Drug Administration's (KFDA) approved the sale of the Hearticellgram-AMI treatment, developed by FCB-Pharmicell starting July 1. This signals an ambitious new push to put research in the field back on the frontline. "This marks the government opening the road for progressive development in stem cell research," said Oh Il-hwan, professor of molecular biology at the Catholic University School of Medicine in Seoul. "It is expected to make it more accommodating for clinical research in this field," said Oh, who previously sat on KFDA panels overseeing stem cell research. Stem cells are the body's master cells and the source of all cells and tissues. Because of their ability to generate different types of cells and multiply and self-renew, scientists hope to harness them to treat a variety of diseases and disorders, including cancer and diabetes, and injuries. Unlike embryonic stem cells, the use of somatic (or adult) stem cells because they are derived from adult tissue samples and not destroyed human embryos. The use of somatic stem cells in treatment is not unprecedented for patients who do not respond to conventional therapy. Countries such as the United States and Germany are using this radical form of treatment in a 'research' capacity. What puts the South Korean team ahead is that it has shown the treatment as being good enough to win regulatory approval and make it available for clinical use. FCB-Pharmicell specializes in developing stem cell drugs for incurable diseases. Hearticellgram-AMI takes somatic stem cells extracted from the patient's own bone marrow that are then cultured and directly injected into the damaged heart. "Our first goal is to apply them in patients with illnesses that are not curable through conventional treatment procedures and medications," FCB-Pharmicell Chief Executive Officer Kim Hyun-soo said from the company's headquarters in Seongnam, south of Seoul. In the company's clinical trials over the past six years, patients showed a near 6 percent improvement in heart function six months after one dose of the injection.