From VOA LEARNING ENGLISH, welcome to AS IT IS!
Hello, I’m Steve Ember.
Today, studies show Americans more and more unlikely to support military intervention overseas…a natural gas pipeline project between Turkey and Israel—a possibility…and the matter of patenting human genes. The Supreme Court examines it. Those stories coming up.
More than 10 years have passed since the United States began sending troops to Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, studies show the American public increasingly unlikely to support military intervention overseas. Yet some activists would like to see the U-S take a larger part in conflicts like the ongoing civil war in Syria. Bob Doughty has more.
The Syrian Support Group was formed by Syrian-Americans opposed to the rule of President Bashar al-Assad. The group raises money for and sends aid to what it considers moderate members of the opposition Free Syria Army. The organization is now seeking to raise support among the American public.
Dan Layman is with the Syrian Support Group. He says getting Americans interested in the Syrian conflict has not been easy.
“The American public feels a little bit burned from the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and the resources and lives that were spent in Iraq, and so it is a little bit hard to get the large galvanization of support.”
VOA recently spoke with several Americans who were visiting Washington. Many showed an unwillingness to get involved in overseas conflicts.
“I think we have to be very cautious about that and very careful about how we go about getting into other countries’ affairs.
“I think they are tired of war. Hopefully President Obama, will keep us out of any future wars.”
“Yeah, I definitely think we should pull back quite a bit, actually, from what we have done in the past ten years, especially for the state of the economy right now.”
Most observers refuse to call these opinions a new sign of isolationism, a desire to withdraw from world politics. But opinion studies are showing this lack of support for American involvement in overseas issues.
Carroll Doherty is with the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press in Washington. He says Americans are not turning away from problems in the Middle East or events in China. But in his words, “there is certainly no desire on the public’s part to get involved in hot spots around the world.”
Dan Layman says he understands the public’s feelings about foreign military involvements. But he says it is tiring to persuade Americans in what he believes is a worthwhile cause.
I’m Bob Doughty.
You are listening to AS IT IS from VOA Learning English.
Relations between Israel and Turkey recently improved. And now, Turkey’s energy minister says a natural gas pipeline project between the countries could become possible. Mario Ritter has the details.
Turkish energy minister Taner Yildiz says his country would be open to the pipeline project. The pipeline would carry gas that was recently discovered in Israel.
His announcement follows Israel’s apology to Turkey over the killing of nine Turks on an aid ship in 2010. The Turks were attempting to break an Israeli economic blockage of the Gaza Strip.
Soli Ozel is an international relations expert at Kadir Has University in Istanbul. He says energy cooperation offers help for both countries.
“The issue may become an important topic on which the two can cooperate on. The Israelis have already suggested sending of their gas by pipelines to Turkey. And this fits well with Turkey’s grand desire to be the grill full of pipelines from north to south, from east to west. And therefore become, on energy matters, if not a hub, but certainly an indispensable transition place…”
But the hard question of payments for the Turkish flotilla victims remains. The Israeli government has promised to pay the families of those killed. Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc says both sides want to settle the issue quickly.
He says the Israelis would like to pay the money now and solve the issue as soon as possible. He says payments would end continuing court cases in Turkey against the Israelis involved. That is an important demand by Israel.
Turkish and Israeli diplomats are to meet in Ankara to talk about a possible payment. One Turkish diplomat said he hopes the issue will be settled during the talks.
But Soli Ozel says even if the money is received, the Middle East peace process is a barrier for improving Turkish-Israeli relations.
I’m Mario Ritter.
AS IT IS is coming to you from VOA Learning English. I’m Steve Ember.
For more than 30 years, businesses in the United States have been able to patent human genes. The government has given companies rights to make drugs, medical tests and other tools based on those genes. But now, the United States Supreme Court is reconsidering the issue. The court’s decision could influence the development of medicine, agriculture and clean energy.
Myriad Genetics was the first company to identify two genes that can greatly increase a woman’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
The genes, when defective --not normal, can cause these common and often deadly forms of the disease.
The company patented the genes and used them to produce a test for the gene defects. The test was designed to show women whether they had a greater than normal chance of developing breast or ovarian cancer.
Patent protection gave Myriad 20 years to recover its investment. But the American Civil Liberties Union says no one should have exclusive rights to a human body part. Chris Hansen is a lawyer for the ACLU.
“The Supreme Court has held for 150 years that you can’t patent a product of nature. You can’t patent gold or iron. A human gene is nothing more than just the same thing. Its structure and function are dictated by nature. It’s not an invention.”
Greg Castanias is a lawyer for Myriad. He says identifying those genes took a lot of work and an investment of 500 million dollars.
He notes that the company’s research can save lives.
“It’s not just the work but it’s ultimately what the result of the work was, which was a new molecule that was never before available to the world, that has potentially lifesaving applications.”
The biotechnology industry says gene patents have led to other possibly life-saving uses like man-made insulin for the disease diabetes. The industry says patents could also provide new treatments for anemia and other disorders.
Greg Castanias says striking down these patents would slow progress. He says investments in biotechnology might decrease. He also warns that businesses might keep trade secrets. While patents are freely available for others to study and learn from, trade secrets would make these discoveries unavailable to others.
But the ACLU’s Chris Hansen says it is possible that the patents could do more harm than good. He says Myriad has the power to stop all research on a piece of the human body. And worse, he says, is that the company has prevented women from getting a second opinion about their condition.
And that’s our program for today. Remember -for the latest world news, tune in to VOA News at the top of the hour Universal Time on radio or here on our web site. I’m Steve Ember. Thanks for joining us.