Friday, April 13, 2007
The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act passed the Senate 63-34,
but President Bush promises a veto. He said the use of embryonic
stem cells in research "crosses a moral line." In case you're
wondering where this "moral line" is drawn, WN has looked into
it. George W. Bush and other conservative theologians believe a
"soul" is assigned to the fertilized egg at the instant of
conception. That makes it a person, even though it's not counted
in the census. In-vitro fertilization makes a lot more of these
one-celled people than it needs; leftovers are stacked in the
freezer until it starts filling up. President Bush cares deeply
about these helpless one-celled people and wants to ensure they
are properly flushed down the disposal rather than exploited by
godless scientists interested only the reduction of suffering.
In yesterday's Wash Post, Sen. Orin Hatch (R-UT), a long-time
proponent of stem cell research, is quoted as saying, "Our
country is in grave danger of falling behind in one of the most
promising fields of biomedical research." We already have. In a
very preliminary study, researchers at the University of Sao
Paolo in Brazil found that a remarkable 14 out of 15 type 1
diabetes sufferers were freed of dependence on insulin injections
after treatment with stem cells drawn from their own blood.
By delaying the launch of the hail-dinged shuttle Atlantis until
June, NASA has given Astronaut Sunita Williams a shot at the
coveted American record for continuous time in space. The record
will be set by Michael Lopez-Alegria next week when he returns to
Earth on the Russian Soyuz. The delay didn't bother Williams,
who told reporters, "I have lots to do up here." Maybe she could
run another marathon. But how do you run in zero-g anyway?
There's not likely to be a beach, and its 150 light-years away,
but Hubble measurements of a star named HD 209458b have been
interpreted as evidence of water in the atmosphere of a planet
that passes in front of the "Sun-like" star every 3.6 days. The
real significance is the possibility of someday being able to
study the atmospheres of extra-solar planets for signs of life.
The assessment of the impact of global warming issued by the IPCC
last Friday, grim though it was, had actually been toned down in
the final negotiations in Brussels at the insistence of the U.S.
and China. According to the NY Times, Bush's top environmental
advisor told reporters that the report "reinforces" the policies
of the administration. Without population control measures,
however, no other policies will help in the long run.