In Print and On the Air

History Professor CLAYBORNE CARSON's play, Passages of Martin Luther King Jr., was performed May 28 at China's National Theater in Beijing. Alumna CAITRIN McKIERNAN, who studied under Carson, produced the play, which is based on the life and words of the civil rights leader. The New York Times reported May 30 that McKiernan, who has spent years in China and speaks the language fluently, was prepared for any kind of response to the play. Reactions from her cast and college discussion groups suggested that King's message would hit home and that Chinese viewers would see parallels to divisions within their own society. Such a prospect poses a thorny problem for the government, which, on one hand, has endorsed King's work as a blow for the class struggle and against American imperialism, but on the other insists that racism and discrimination are purely problems of decadent Western societies, the Times reported. During a recent discussion at Beijing University, McKiernan said that King's work is about discrimination and how it relates to people's lives. Students explored the discrimination they discern between migrant workers and more affluent residents of the country's eastern cities, and about the inferior position of women in society. "I realized that King was this great bridge between the United States and China," McKiernan said. "China is an emerging superpower, and King is someone that both sides believe in and can be the starting point for a dialogue about how we wish the world to be."

Whether biotechnology companies want to listen or not, bioethics are increasingly shaping public opinion and public policy about emerging technologies and their implications, the San Francisco Business Times reported May 29. "Bioethics are no longer restricted to the academy," said CHRISTOPHER SCOTT, executive director of the Program on Stem Cells and Society at Stanford's Center for Biomedical Ethics. "The Bush presidency, more than any other, has shown that these individuals can actually influence public policy in a major way." Scott spoke last week at a campus meeting of legal scholars, ethicists and political scientists titled "Human Enhancement Technologies and Human Rights." Law Professor HANK GREELY, chair of the center's steering committee, said he views his role as a bioethicist to be a translator and interpreter. He said he tries to understand where the science is likely to go and how it is likely to affect society. He said he makes that known to people and gives them some options on how to react intelligently to such likely changes.