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January 10, 2007 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-01-10

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4A - Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
413 E. Huron St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views ofttheir authors.
New life for stem cells
Discovery must not be excuse for hindering progress
cientists have made another breakthrough in the conflict-
ridden realm of stem-cell research. On Sunday, research-
ers at Harvard and Wake Forest universities announced
that amniotic stem cells - drawn from amniotic fluid without
harm to the mother or fetus - promise potential benefits similar
to those of embryonic stem cells.

However, the versatility of amniotic stem
cells remains unclear, and some experts
contend that this new method of stem-cell
research is still more limited than research
on embryonic stem cells. While amniotic
stem cells are a very promising discovery
that should be further explored, there's no
reason for scientists to abandon the sure
thing. Congress will soon discuss and likely
pass a bill lifting the ban on federal funding
for research on new embryonic stem-cell
lines, and it would be an uncommon stroke
of sensibility for President Bush to refrain
from vetoing it again.
The Harvard and Wake Forest findings
make use of stem cells found in the amniotic
fluid of pregnant women. Scientists drew
and cultivated amniotic stem cells without
any harm to the mother or fetus - thereby
eliminating several of the arguments pro-
life conservatives make against embryonic
stem-cell research.
Unlike adult stem cells, amniotic stem
cells are flexible and can develop into many
different types of tissue - including brain,
liver and bone - making their possible med-
ical application broad. Pregnant women can
also freeze their amniotic stem cells, should
their child need them in the future - there-,
by eliminating the risk of rejection of foreign
tissue by the child's immune system.
However, the extent of the flexibility
of amniotic stem cells remains unknown.
The real advantage of amniotic stem cells
is their ability to offer a less controversial
alternative, but while this is beneficial in
the short-term, it isn't an effective long term
Research on amniotic stem cells is years
behind embryonic stem-cell research, and

nothing has yet proven that amniotic stem
cells could yield the same results. Embry-
onic stem cells can turn into more than 220
cell types that can be used to cure count-
less diseases like diabetes, brain cancer and
Pro-life activists continue their oppo-
sition to embryonic stem-cell research
because drawing stem cells kills the embryo.
Regardless, this result is hardly different
from the fate of the 90 percent of embryos
that are discarded anyway. So what exactly
is so anti-life about using such embryos to
potentially save countless lives?
Embryonic stem-cell research in America
has been notoriously and needlessly hin-
dered since Bush's 2001 veto of Congress's
bill to allow federal funds for research on
new embryonic stem-cell lines. Scientists
and the new Democratic Congress must not
allow developments in amniotic stem cells
to fuel complacency on the embryonic stem-
cell issue.
Overly and unnecessarily restrictive
embryonic stem-cell policy isn't a problem
only on the federallevel. Michigan, for exam-
ple, has one of the most restrictive embry-
onic stem-cell research laws in the country.
Because of such limitations, the University's
hands are often tied. Top researchers and
scientists hesitate to come to an institution
in a state where their research may never be
supported. The University's new $100-mil-
lion state-of-the-art Life Sciences Institute
doesn't do much good in the way of contrib-
uting to a knowledge-based economy - not
to mention saving lives - if state laws con-
tinue to stifle its potential. Federal and state
legislators have no business tying scientists'
hands on this issue.

My nature is to look at the glass half full. I don't have a
son or daughter in Iraq."
- Actress Suzanne Somers, putting things in perspective after her Malibu home burned down,
as reported yesterday by El Online.
Hope for the hopeless
n Der Spiegel, the German pampered by indulgent baby-boomer peek their heads above the parapet, it's
equivalent of Time magazine, a parents, our generation came of age not surprising that many Americans
writer described an encounter during one of the longest periods wouldoptforwillfulstupidity.It'sbegin-
that sums up German pessimism. A of prosperity in American history ningto look like the pinnacle of national
colleague told her that "anyone with - after our country's last serious rival prominence that our generation grew
any intelligence could never be as had collapsed and left us in an unprec- up in has left us with nowhere to go but
happy as you." One wouldn't expect edented position of military, econom- down. While President Nero struggles
Germany's historical experience to it and cultural dominance. What do to present history a single good deci-
encourage optimism. But it is surpris- we have to be so emo about? sion which might salvage his legacy, it
ing to see sunny America approaching Well, look at the headlines. Iran is appears he'll instead go down as the liv-
a positively European level of despair trying to build nuclear weapons, Rus- ing embodiment of American failure.
during the decade of the double zero. sia is backsliding into dictatorship, and The scope and complexity of the
American - Israel and Palestine are, well, Israel and problems that confront us and the inad-
pessimism Palestine.The genocide in Sudan is only equacy of our response so far could
shows up in a the rawest wound of Africa, which is lead anyone to believe our civiliza-
misleading way. now so crippled by poverty and corrup- tion is in terminal decline. But history
From "Forrest l tion that entire nations are succumbing often occurs in the background. There
Gump" to the to lawlessness, disease, terrorism and are changes taking place in fields far
latest Will Fer- war. Inthe face of mounting aggression, removed from one another, on a level
rell movie, from the United Nations has been under- that passes unnoticed in the wider
Homer Simpson * mined by America's own contempt for stream of events. Taken, separately,
to Jessica Simp- international law and is too weak to
son, our popular TOBY address these crises.
culture is filled MITCHELL America itself is locked in a vicious Give up on
with brilliantly cycle of stupid, in which each retreat
calculated glorifications into denial leaves us less able to deal pessimism,
of rank stupidity. Given a supposedly with the problems the last retreat
hopeless world, Germans would rath- caused. New Orleans still lies in ruins. Am erica.
er be intelligent and dejected, while Iraq is a lost cause. Fundamentalists
Americans apparently prefer to be preach a gospel of despair that calls for
stupid and happy - even if they're not the world tobe destroyed before it can these flares of hope amount to little.
really stupid at all. be saved, and America is answering the Together, they point toward a new
There's something profoundly dis- call. China and India's growth suggests mode of understanding and action,
ingenuous about a ruthless careerist that white-collar jobs may soon follow one which is not only up to the task but
like Simpson earning her fame by factory work overseas, but while Asian which may foreshadow a new peak in
playing a vapor-headed bimbo. There's students admire famous geneticists, the ebb and flow of human history.
no way someone that smart could actu- American students want to know what In future columns, I'll be shifting
ally be that dumb. The same applies to Britney blogged about Paris. my focus from criticism to encourage-
our political culture. President Bush's Michiganders know about the ment, discussing positive changes in
strategy of casting himself as a well- decline of the American empire from American politics andinscience,busi-
meaning dumbass persecuted by elitist bitter experience. Europeans used to ness, international relations and reli-
nerds in the media and the Democrat- dream of trading their Volkswagens for gion. There's nothing predetermined
ic Party was brilliant. Regardless of Cadillacs. Now Americans can't sell a about these changes - they may well
whether these individuals ortheir han- Ford for the interest on a Mercedes, and not occur until humanity has endured

dlers are responsible, playing dumb is a present-day Detroit looks less like the the suffering of another great war or
smart strategy for success in America. Motor City and more like Berlin circa until America's decline becomes too
But Americans are not as stupid as we 1945. Detroit's despair is palpable and is obvious to deny. Nevertheless, all we
would like to think, just afraid of how felt beyond the city through its export need to begin is a willingness to aban-
we'd feel if we acted smart. of drugs and gang culture. It's difficult don the anesthesia of despair and the
on the face of it, American pes- to imagine that a healthy society would courage to risk hope.
simism seems ridiculous. Raised on tolerate such blatant decay, but we've
Rainbow Brite and the Care Bears, gotten used to it. Toby Mitchell can be reached
taught self-esteem in school and If this is the view they get when they at tojami@umich.edu.
Viewpoint Policy
The Michigan Daily welcomes viewpoints from its readers. Viewpoints may have one or several authors, though
preference will be given to pieces written on behalf of individuals rather than organizations.
Editors will run viewpoints according to timeliness, order received and available space.
Viewpoints should be no longer than 750 words. The Daily reserves the right to edit for length,
clarity and accuracy.
Send viewpoint submissions to editpage.editors umich.edu, or contact the editors at that
address to arrange one in advance.
Editorial Board Members: Reggie Brown, Kevin Bunkley, Amanda Burns, Sam Butler,
Ben Caleca, Devika Daga, Milly Dick, James David Dickson, Jesse Forester, Gary Graca, Jared
Goldberg, Jessi Holler, Rafi Martina, Toby Mitchell, Rajiv Prabhakar, David Russell, Katherine
Seid, Elizabeth Stanley, Jennifer Sussex, John Stiglich, Neil Tambe, Rachel Wagner

Living iln Ann Arbor

Living the American campus experience -
shown grotesquely to be bewildering, absurd
and irreverent in pop culture ("American Pie,"
"Porkies") - has enlightened me about many
aspects and subtle nuances of the American
way of life. The linguistic labyrinths of slang,
bizarre, non-traditional cooking methods,
tracking of obscure sports statistics, the col-
lege football craze and the overabundance of
all types of TV shows have helped me appre-
ciate, criticize and sometimes even envy the
interesting, extravagant and funny aspects of
this universe of multicultural youth.
Like all Italians who have grown up with an
orthodox culinary tradition, I admit to being
bewildered by the world of American fast food.
I have been left worried or suspicious by the
mysterious names of sandwiches (Pepe, Vito,
Italian night club), the diffusion of ethnic
cooking, the unlikely folkloric slogans ("your
mum wants you to eat here") and - not to men-
tion - the anguishing caloric impact.
And let's not forget the dogmatic American
restaurant world - the incomprehensible passion
for ice, rigorous logic of tipping servers, the con-
stant presence and perseverance of the waiters,
coupons that grant discounts just about every-
where and the obsessive scrutinizing of IDs when
buying alcohol.Americans even wait for atable in
a restaurant, whereas we Italians get angry and
walk out if we do not obtain atable immediately.
After much effort, I have learned to substi-
tute espresso with coffee. American cafes are
centers of cultural and intellectual growth,
transforming themselves into study centers
for the future ruling class - with background
tunes featuring Chat Baker, John Coltrane
and Bossanova. This is in stark contrast to the
Italian cafes I'm used to that are cathedrals
of debates of soccer, amateur and demagogic
politics, trashy pop music and the pathology
of alcohol. In America, however, tables are
crowded with books, papers, notes and lap-
tops, and people who are bored of studying
take naps on the comfortable couches while
others exchange baritone words.
And then there are the Michigan Wolverines,
toward whom all students seem to nourish an
enthusiastic, maniacal infatuation. The team is a
symbol of identification and faith that goes past

the simple excitement toward sports, yet this
obsession is different from the European gueril-
la fanaticism I have previously experienced. In
these two months, though always faithful to the
god of soccer, I have learned names like Hart,
Manningham, Breaston and Arrington while
following their deeds against Notre Dame, Penn
State, our envious little cousins of Michigan
State and our bitterest rivals in Columbus.
I have lived the traditional campus party and
At the stadium, invaded by more than 110,000
fans - such numbers for non-professional sports
would be absurd in Europe - I have become
familiar with the pre-game show of the march-
ing band, the overly energetic cheerleaders, and
the announcer, who manages to be galvanized by
every little inch gained. And how can I forget the
many hats, shirts, scarves, key chains, signs and
loud chants of "The Victors" that echo for three
hours straight. It is a sea of maize and blue that is
truly moving and enthralling - even more so if
you're lucky enough tobe thrown in the air after
a Wolverine score.
After the game, Ann Arbor returns back to its
normal sleepy, phlegmatic rhythms. The girls
change out of their "game clothes" and into
their stretch pants and geometrically squared
boots, while the boys drown the triumph or
disappointment with alcohol and yells (some
would merit an anthropological comparison
with the yelping monkeys of Botswana).
Every day I observe with enthusiasm the
praiseworthy demonstrations on the Diag, the
piles of newspapers left on the side of the road,
the impressive number of squirrels crowded
in flowerbeds and the groups of heroically
cocky youngsters in shorts, skirts and flip flops
regardless of the weather. I am convinced that
Americans can't feel cold.
At night, in front of the television, I franti-
cally and impatiently flip channels, confused by
their sheer number and the incredible amount
of commercials. Tired and defeated, I shut off
the idiot box and go to bed. The next day I need
to convince my brain that baseball is really a
sport. Poor Joe DiMaggio.
Alessandro Saluppo is a visitor to Ann Arbor.
He graduated from the University of Siena in Italy.


Thumbs: Ford edition

Ford Motor Company
officials announced yes-
terday that the company
will invest $866 million
in existing southeast
Michigan plants...

... but former Ford Chair-
man William Clay Ford, also
owner of the Detroit Lions,
still feels team President
Matt Millen's 24-72 record
warrants another shot.


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