Do Europeans Care More About Foreign Affairs Than Americans Do?

Question: Do Europeans care more about foreign affairs than Americans do?

Philippe Cayla:  Yes, in fact it is a situation in the U.S. which is very similar to the one in the U.K.  You are islands as well, and as far as I know here in the U.S. only 10 percent of people have a passport, if it is correct.  It's a figure I have in mind.  In the U.K. maybe a bit more, but the fact you are in an island in some way, and you can't, well... mentally give... isolation and... of no need of knowing what the others are doing.

Of course, in Europe—in the continental Europe—because of history people have fought so much together in the past that... now they are in peace, but they have a tradition of "need to know" in some sense, which is higher.  But to be frank with you, it's not necessarily the case in reality.  I mean, do the French know the Germans?  And do the Germans know the French?  I'm not so sure.  Each of them, they have a conscience that they should know better the other party, but in reality every nation is still living inside its borders.  And there is, in each country, there is some kind of upper class of maybe 10 percent of the population, which for business reasons or for personal curiosity, travels a lot and wants to know better what is the situation abroad, but it's a limited slice of the society.

For the news channel... the news channel is...  themselves are niche channels in each country, you never go beyond one percent of audience rating.  For an international channel, it is niche of a niche, so we never go beyond 0.1 or 0.2 percent.  It's true as well for CNN International and BBC World.  So it's really an elite which wants to enlarge their understanding of the outside world.  So I'm not surprised by the U.S. situation.  It's maybe your own fault in the U.S. because you are... you feel protected for your particular geographic situation from the rest of the world.  But it is a situation which is basically in the genes of every particular nation.

Question: What will Europe’s place in the world be in 2025?

Philippe Cayla:  In 20, 25 years, it will be an aging continent.  First of all, the average age will increase from maybe... the average is I think 40 years now in Europe, and it will increase to 50.  So it will be a continent of seniors.  Nevertheless, there will be some birth and some youngsters, but the main problem with that is to have a civilization which is aging with people in good hands, by the way.  You know, I'm over 50, and I'm still in good health.  I think it will be the case in the future people are aging but keeping able to do things.  So what kind of things are they going to do?  Probably more social things.  They are not going to invent new things, but probably to manage the society as it is. They will probably increase their free time to travel, to increase understanding.  Is the standard of living going to grow or decrease?  That's debatable.  I don't know.  Maybe it will be stable or decrease a little, standard of living, because other countries, other continents, will move up.

What I hope is that it will keep being a peaceful area for the time being.  Europe is peaceful, and that's the main asset we have.  After so many wars and so many centuries, now Europe is a peaceful continent, so it will be probably a peaceful continent with always some difficulties to make up this European government that you... That is not the end of the story.  So the governance of Europe will probably improve in the next couple of years., and the European standard of living will be more stable, and that all people... I hope that Europe will be able to defend themselves from the... in case of not conflict, but in case of tough developments in the neighboring... the neighborhood of Europe.  So the main question for Europe is "What will occur in the Middle East? In Russia?  Will it be stable, or will it be a dangerous area?"  That's the question for the Europe of the future.

I think Europe has to make up it's own defense, which is not well-organized.  I don't know if you know, but Europe is, after the U.S., the continent which spends the most for  military.  We spend... in fact, the European spending for the military is 20 percent of the world spend.  U.S. represents 50 percent, and Europe comes second with 20 percent.  But this money is very much wasted with... nationally it's not well organized at the European level, so I think it should be better organized in order to secure the safety of Europeans in the future.

Recorded June 22, 2010
Interviewed by Jessica Liebman

Because of the continent's violent history, Europeans think they should know about each other. But in reality every nation is still living inside its borders.

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Time of death is considered when a person has gone into cardiac arrest. This is the cessation of the electrical impulse that drive the heartbeat. As a result, the heart locks up. The moment the heart stops is considered time of death. But does death overtake our mind immediately afterward or does it slowly creep in?

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Yale scientists restore brain function to 32 clinically dead pigs

Researchers hope the technology will further our understanding of the brain, but lawmakers may not be ready for the ethical challenges.

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  • Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine successfully restored some functions to pig brains that had been dead for hours.
  • They hope the technology will advance our understanding of the brain, potentially developing new treatments for debilitating diseases and disorders.
  • The research raises many ethical questions and puts to the test our current understanding of death.

The image of an undead brain coming back to live again is the stuff of science fiction. Not just any science fiction, specifically B-grade sci fi. What instantly springs to mind is the black-and-white horrors of films like Fiend Without a Face. Bad acting. Plastic monstrosities. Visible strings. And a spinal cord that, for some reason, is also a tentacle?

But like any good science fiction, it's only a matter of time before some manner of it seeps into our reality. This week's Nature published the findings of researchers who managed to restore function to pigs' brains that were clinically dead. At least, what we once thought of as dead.

What's dead may never die, it seems

The researchers did not hail from House Greyjoy — "What is dead may never die" — but came largely from the Yale School of Medicine. They connected 32 pig brains to a system called BrainEx. BrainEx is an artificial perfusion system — that is, a system that takes over the functions normally regulated by the organ. The pigs had been killed four hours earlier at a U.S. Department of Agriculture slaughterhouse; their brains completely removed from the skulls.

BrainEx pumped an experiment solution into the brain that essentially mimic blood flow. It brought oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, giving brain cells the resources to begin many normal functions. The cells began consuming and metabolizing sugars. The brains' immune systems kicked in. Neuron samples could carry an electrical signal. Some brain cells even responded to drugs.

The researchers have managed to keep some brains alive for up to 36 hours, and currently do not know if BrainEx can have sustained the brains longer. "It is conceivable we are just preventing the inevitable, and the brain won't be able to recover," said Nenad Sestan, Yale neuroscientist and the lead researcher.

As a control, other brains received either a fake solution or no solution at all. None revived brain activity and deteriorated as normal.

The researchers hope the technology can enhance our ability to study the brain and its cellular functions. One of the main avenues of such studies would be brain disorders and diseases. This could point the way to developing new of treatments for the likes of brain injuries, Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and neurodegenerative conditions.

"This is an extraordinary and very promising breakthrough for neuroscience. It immediately offers a much better model for studying the human brain, which is extraordinarily important, given the vast amount of human suffering from diseases of the mind [and] brain," Nita Farahany, the bioethicists at the Duke University School of Law who wrote the study's commentary, told National Geographic.

An ethical gray matter

Before anyone gets an Island of Dr. Moreau vibe, it's worth noting that the brains did not approach neural activity anywhere near consciousness.

The BrainEx solution contained chemicals that prevented neurons from firing. To be extra cautious, the researchers also monitored the brains for any such activity and were prepared to administer an anesthetic should they have seen signs of consciousness.

Even so, the research signals a massive debate to come regarding medical ethics and our definition of death.

Most countries define death, clinically speaking, as the irreversible loss of brain or circulatory function. This definition was already at odds with some folk- and value-centric understandings, but where do we go if it becomes possible to reverse clinical death with artificial perfusion?

"This is wild," Jonathan Moreno, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania, told the New York Times. "If ever there was an issue that merited big public deliberation on the ethics of science and medicine, this is one."

One possible consequence involves organ donations. Some European countries require emergency responders to use a process that preserves organs when they cannot resuscitate a person. They continue to pump blood throughout the body, but use a "thoracic aortic occlusion balloon" to prevent that blood from reaching the brain.

The system is already controversial because it raises concerns about what caused the patient's death. But what happens when brain death becomes readily reversible? Stuart Younger, a bioethicist at Case Western Reserve University, told Nature that if BrainEx were to become widely available, it could shrink the pool of eligible donors.

"There's a potential conflict here between the interests of potential donors — who might not even be donors — and people who are waiting for organs," he said.

It will be a while before such experiments go anywhere near human subjects. A more immediate ethical question relates to how such experiments harm animal subjects.

Ethical review boards evaluate research protocols and can reject any that causes undue pain, suffering, or distress. Since dead animals feel no pain, suffer no trauma, they are typically approved as subjects. But how do such boards make a judgement regarding the suffering of a "cellularly active" brain? The distress of a partially alive brain?

The dilemma is unprecedented.

Setting new boundaries

Another science fiction story that comes to mind when discussing this story is, of course, Frankenstein. As Farahany told National Geographic: "It is definitely has [sic] a good science-fiction element to it, and it is restoring cellular function where we previously thought impossible. But to have Frankenstein, you need some degree of consciousness, some 'there' there. [The researchers] did not recover any form of consciousness in this study, and it is still unclear if we ever could. But we are one step closer to that possibility."

She's right. The researchers undertook their research for the betterment of humanity, and we may one day reap some unimaginable medical benefits from it. The ethical questions, however, remain as unsettling as the stories they remind us of.