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Indigenous Australians in Northern Territory, Australia

Activities such as collecting honey ants (pictured) have a strong cultural value for many Indigenous Australians.Credit: Biosphoto\Avalon

In Australia, the ‘Stolen Generations’ trauma lives on

As many as one in three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were taken from their families between 1910 and the 1970s under racist Australian government policies. The children who live with adults from these ‘Stolen Generations’ today are more likely than other Indigenous children to face a host of challenges, according to a landmark government report. Poor health, stress and missing school without permission were among the difficulties identified by the report. It also found that the children were more likely to have a strong cultural identity, which might have been a source of strength and resilience for members of the Stolen Generations.

Nature | 5 min read

China organ-harvesting claims alarm researchers

An ad-hoc tribunal has concluded that prisoners in China are being killed for their organs, renewing concerns about the ethics of transplantation research in the country. The Chinese government hasn’t responded to the report, but previously said that it banned the practice of taking organs from death-row prisoners in 2015. Some journals say they will retract papers that contain data from executed prisoners.

Nature | 6 min read

Reference: Independent Tribunal Into Forced Organ Harvesting of Prisoners of Conscience in China report

Some ‘stem-cell doctors’ are naturopaths and dentists

Many companies offering unproven stem-cell therapies in the United States do not employ clinicians with relevant medical training. An analysis looked at the websites of 166 companies that were advertising their services in January 2018 and that listed their clinical staff online. Nine companies did not list any physicians. Five of these were staffed entirely by podiatrists; two by naturopaths and one by dentists.

Nature | 3 min read

Reference: JAMA paper

Source: Ref. 1


James Lovelock, at 100, welcomes our robot overlords

James Lovelock’s first solo letter to Nature — a new formula for wax pencils for writing on lab glass-ware — was published in 1945. Later came his influential Gaia theory, which launched Earth systems science. As he nears his centenary, his new book, Novacene, argues that artificial intelligence will arise and take over the stewardship of the planet — with us co-existing as the equivalent of slow-moving, dim-witted houseplants (if we’re lucky).

Nature | 6 min read

Caring for the last of a species

When the last known Hawaiian tree snail of the species Achatinella apexfulva died on New Year’s Day, wildlife biologist David Sischo was there to mourn it. In a trailer in Oahu, he and his team watch over the last remaining members of dozens of snail species — without intervention, Sischo expects that dozens more will disappear in the next decade. “I think everyone, when they hear about something going extinct, thinks that there’s time,” he says. “But we’re the last people who can do anything about this.”

The Atlantic | 10 min read


“Let’s settle this horn business. The study did not look at horns.”

Science journalist Nsikan Akpan picks apart a study, and the publicity that followed it, which suggested hunching over smartphones is making younger people grow horns. (PBS NewsHour)