Falling Awake

Just Darts Since 2009

Week in review

Scientists: Finding mimics embryonic stem cells

What if scientists could find a way to produce embryonic stem cells without having to tamper with embryos?

On Wednesday, three teams of researchers said they had found a way to do just that — but in mice. They got ordinary skin cells to act like the embryonic cells.

Even if this procedure works with human cells, there are still going to be difficulties, of course.  But these would be exactly the same difficulties researches face with normal embryonic stem cells.  Embryonic stem cells form tumors.  But at least scientists may be able to “tinker” without having to visit their friendly local abortionist to restock their supplies.

These findings will be downplayed.  (As have the proven results of umbilical and adult stem cell research.)  The whole point of the push for embryonic stem cell research is not to actually cure the sick, but to provide a justification for abortion.

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Young clerk let Tiananmen ad slip past censors

A young clerk with no knowledge of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown allowed a tribute to victims slip into the classified ads page of a newspaper in southwest China, a Hong Kong daily reported on Wednesday.

The tiny ad in the lower right corner of page 14 of the Chengdu Evening News on Monday night, read: “Paying tribute to the strong(-willed) mothers of June 4 victims”.

Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post said a young woman on the Chengdu Evening News classified section had allowed the ad to be published because she’d never heard of the June 4 crackdown.

China’s censorship is so effective that it defeated itself here.  Perhaps Google can work with the Chinese government to develop tools to enable low-level functionaries to censor information without even understanding what they’re censoring.

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Lebanese troops pound Islamic positions

Lebanon’s army on Saturday pounded al Qaeda-inspired Islamic militants hiding in a Palestinian refugee camp in renewed heavy clashes following a few days of intermittent fighting.

Black smoke billowed from the Nahr el-Bared camp in northern Lebanon where witnesses reported some of the heaviest army shelling since June 1, when the Lebanese army — using tanks and artillery — launched an offensive to drive the Fatah Islam militants from their positions inside the settlement.

I hope the Lebanese can finish the job.  I miss those pro-democracy protests:

Stirring.

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The Lebanese obviously have an extra incentive to defeat the Islamists.  If the Islamists win, what’s happening in the Gaza Strip since Israel withdrew could happen in Lebanon:

Gaza: Female TV staff get death threat

A radical Islamic group in the Gaza Strip issued a death threat over the weekend against women working for the official Palestinian Authority television station, accusing them of dressing immodestly and behaving in a way that violates the teachings of Islam.

Members of the group are also responsible for splashing acid in the face of a number of young women who had been accused of “immoral behavior.” The Righteous Swords of Islam is one of three al-Qaida-affiliated groups that have popped up in the Gaza Strip over the past two years.

A leaflet distributed by the Righteous Swords of Islam specifically referred to the women who appear on Palestine TV. “The saying these days is that the enemy has withdrawn from the Gaza Strip and so have our morals,” it read. “It’s indeed disgraceful that the women working for the official Palestinian media are competing with each other to display their charms.”

Referring to the fact that most of the female presenters were not wearing the niqab, a veil covering the face of Muslim women as a part of hijab, the leaflet asked: “Where are the decision-makers in this regard? Have we lost our conscience? Have the brothers, fathers and husbands stopped caring about their women?”

The group warned that its members would strike with an “iron fist and swords” against the women who are refusing to cover their faces. “We will destroy their homes,” it announced. “We will blow up their working places. We have a lot of information about their addresses and we are following their movements.”

The leaflet concluded by threatening to “slaughter” the women for allegedly spreading corruption in Palestinian society by appearing on the screen with their faces uncovered.

“The administration and workers at Palestine TV should know that we are much closer to them than they think,” it added. “If necessary, we will behead and slaughter to preserve the spirit and morals of our people.”

It’s always “chop, chop, chop,” with these people!

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Odds & Ends

Bono tells Ugandan journalist: You don’t know how to fix Africa

A conference in rural Tanzania has produced a noteworthy contretemps involving pop star Bono over whether self-help or foreign aid is the best approach to helping Africa. MIT’s Technology Review blog reports that many speakers at the Technology, Entertainment, Design conference echoed the theme “that traditional aid and charity, whether distributed by nation-states or nongovernmental bodies, have failed.” The report continues:

Andrew Mwenda, a Ugandan journalist and social worker, now a fellow at Stanford, made the case most strongly. He argued convincingly that 30 years of Western aid to Africa has achieved nothing at all. More, he said that the persistence of African poverty could be explained, in part, by aid. He explained that aid had convinced the brightest Africans to work for corrupt governments rather than as entrepreneurs, and it had “distorted the incentive structure.”

“What man or nation,” Mwenda asked, “has ever become rich by holding out a begging bowl?”

Far better, he said, is finding Westerners to invest in African entrepreneurs or businesses, which would create wealth. Mwenda, like other speakers, described at length the investment opportunities in Africa. …

This line of argument enraged Bono, however, who began heckling Mwenda.

“Bollocks!” he shouted. “That’s bull****.”

I love that Bono is considered the intellectual rock star.

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I don’t get the glee surrounding the jailing of Paris Hilton.  I do understand the satisfaction that comes when justice is done, and a Beverly Hills celebrity (besides Robert Downey, Jr.) actually doing jail time is a pleasant surprise.  But why does her breaking down in tears make people feel so good?

But I have to say I like the comment someone e-mailed to John Podhoretz at the Corner:

The Right Man For the Job: Bush should immediately announce that the judge in the Paris Hilton case will be his next Supreme Court nominee.

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Robert Spencer has posted part 2 of his series, “Blogging the Qur’an.”  It covers verses 1-39 of Sura 2.  It’s long, and I haven’t looked at it yet, but I will.

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I just like this headline:

Protestors protest ordinance limiting counter-protests

I wonder if there were any counter-protestors?  They’d be protesting…. themselves?  I’ll betcha some wags from the local high school math club showed up with blank signs.  I’d be disappointed if they didn’t.

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This is interesting.  Take quizzes to see if you can tell the prose of Charles Dickens from his less talented contemporary.  Or a painting by Jackson Pollock from a mess of bird droppings.  (That one’s easy, though funny.)  My favorite?  Mozart vs. Salieri.  There’s a bunch of other quizzes at the first link.

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