Friday, January 30, 2009
Ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was blocked in the
Clinton years by Jesse Helms, an angry senator with an inflamed prostate.
In the Bush years it was buried by Rumsfeld and Rice who favored missile
defenses instead, as if there was no other way to deliver nuclear
weapons. After North Korea's unstable leader tested a nuclear weapon, a
missile defense was installed in Alaska, but it's not turned on because no
one believes it would work. Meanwhile, Iran is busy making fissionable
material for nuclear devices. Obama is pledged to seek ratification of
CTBT, but Secretary of Defense Gates supports a plan to develop a new
nuclear warhead. For the United States to construct a new warhead while
seeking a treaty to block smaller nations from doing the same would make
it impossible to get international support for CTBT. This could scuttle
the treaty for good.
I got an email yesterday from a colleague who said he read in Parade
Magazine that acupuncture works. "What gives?" he asked. Just by
coincidence, I had read about acupuncture in the Daily Telegraph that very
morning at breakfast in London. The article described a review of 13
studies of acupuncture. The review was published in BMJ, the British
Medical Journal. The effect on pain was so small it didn't even register
as minimal. The British Medical Acupuncture Society did not dispute this,
but said that although the overall effect was not large "acupuncture could
be useful for treatments of conditions for which there are few other
treatments." I don't know the circulation of BMJ, but it's nothing like
Parade's 20 million. I would be embarrassed to give the circulation of
Science magazine notes it has been 10 years since embryonic stem cells
were first isolated. A huge trove of embryonic stem cells was on hand
from in vitro fertilization, which produces far more embryos than are
needed. There was tremendous optimism of new cures, but that faded as the
Bush administration put more and more obstacles in the way of stem cell
research, comparing it to murder. But apparently, if the stem cells were
autoclavedit it was not murder.
Al Franken was declared the winner of Minnesota's senatorial election.
Norm Coleman's lawsuit seeks to overturn the election result. Claiming his
lawsuit is about counting every vote, Coleman actually seeks only to keep
votes from being counted. The trial starts this week.