Mrs. McCain, it turns out, never met Mother Teresa on that trip. (Once contacted by the Monitor, the campaign revised the story on its website.)
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Doctors might soon be able to regrow injured muscles, tendons and bones without invasive surgery, simply by injecting a person's own stem cells into the site of an injury. Veterinarians are already doing it with injured horses, and research into human applications is well under way.
The National Institutes for Health seem to think regenerating human muscle and bone using a person's own adult stem cells is nearly ready for prime time. Last week, the NIH announced to its staff that it's creating a bone marrow-stem cell transplant center within the NIH Clinical Research Center.
Researchers at the NIH labs in Bethesda, Maryland, are already growing human muscle, cartilage and spinal disks in vitro. The tissue isn't mechanically sound yet, says lead researcher Rocky Tuan, but that will come with further work.
"I have a piece of tissue that looks like a spinal disc, a sand bag, tough as nails on the outside and like sand on the inside," says Tuan, a Ph.D. and the senior investigator in the Cartilage and Orthopedics branch of the NIAMS. "The mechanical properties are lousy, but it's a beginning."
While the use of stem cells harvested from human embryos has been getting the most media attention, scientists and doctors have also been working with adult stem cells that also have the ability to become one with their environment and to replicate as cells of their adopted tissue. Using adult stem cells -- grown inside the body or in the lab -- has become accepted in the veterinary community, and horses have benefited greatly. Researchers are working to bring those same benefits to humans, but there are still hurdles left to clear.
Today is Darwin Day, commemorating the anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth and of the publishing of On the Origin of Species. The National Academy of Sciences, "the nation's most prestigious scientific organization," declares evolution "one of the strongest and most useful scientific theories we have." President Bush's science adviser John Marburger calls it "the cornerstone of modern biology."
Yet, on February 23, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will be the keynote speaker for the most prominent creationism advocacy group in the country. The Discovery Institute, a religious right think-tank, is well-known for its strong opposition to evolutionary biology and its advocacy for "intelligent design." The institute's main financial backer, savings and loan heir Howard Ahmanson, spent 20 years on the board of the Chalcedon Foundation, "a theocratic outfit that advocates the replacement of American civil law with biblical law."
McCain has an ambiguous record on whether he supports intelligent design in the science curriculum. In 2005, he said it should be taught:
Daily Star: Should intelligent design be taught in schools?
McCain: I think that there has to be all points of view presented. But they've got to be thoroughly presented. So to say that you can only teach one line of thinking I don't think is - or one belief on how people and the world was created - I think there's nothing wrong with teaching different schools of thought.
Daily Star: Does it belong in science?
McCain: There's enough scientists that believe it does. I'm not a scientist. This is something that I think all points of view should be presented.
But last year, he said the intelligent design theory should not be taught in the science classroom:
"I think Americans should be exposed to every point of view," he said. "I happen to believe in evolution…I respect those who think the world was created in seven days. Should it be taught as a science class? Probably not."
As McCain continues his lurch to the right, where will he come down on intelligent design in the science classroom? We'll be watching.
by Dan Bacher
AB 1806 would have stopped future fishery disasters like last year's Prospect Island fish kill from taking place by mandating the state and federal governments develop fish rescue plans. (Photo: Dan Bacher)
Yesterday the California Senate failed to pass AB 1806, the landmark bill by Assemblywoman Lois Wolk (D-Davis) that would have required the state and federal Delta export pumping operations to fully mitigate for the damage they have caused to fisheries.
The bill would have required fish rescue contingency plans in the event of future fishery disasters like the one that took place at Prospect Island in the northern Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in November 2007. During last year's fish kill, thousands of striped bass, Sacramento blackfish, Sacramento splittail, black bass, bluegill, catfish, threadfin shad and other species perished after the Bureau of Reclamation drained the island during a levee repair operation.
"Unfortunately, they just lifted the call and AB 1806 failed passage on a vote of 18-21," said Diane Colborn, staff director for the Water Parks and Wildlife Committee. "Reconsideration was granted, but it does not look like we will be able to get the votes to get the bill off the Senate floor."
On Capitol Hill, at the State Department and at the Pentagon, Mr. Saakashvili, brash and hyperkinetic, urged the West not to appease Russia by rejecting his country's NATO ambitions.
At the White House, President Bush bantered with the Georgian president about his prowess as a dancer. Laura Bush, the first lady, took Mr. Saakashvili's wife to lunch. Mr. Bush promised him to push hard for Georgia's acceptance into NATO. After the meeting, Mr. Saakashvili pronounced his visit "one of the most successful visits during my presidency," and said he did not know of any other leader of a small country with the access to the administration that he had.
Three weeks later, Mr. Bush went to the Black Sea resort of Sochi, at the invitation of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. There, he received a message from the Russian: the push to offer Ukraine and Georgia NATO membership was crossing Russia's "red lines," according to an administration official close to the talks.
Afterward, Mr. Bush said of Mr. Putin, "He's been very truthful and to me, that's the only way you can find common ground." It was one of many moments when the United States seemed to have missed — or gambled it could manage — the depth of Russia's anger and the resolve of the Georgian president to provoke the Russians.
The story of how a 16-year, low-grade conflict over who should rule two small, mountainous regions in the Caucasus erupted into the most serious post-cold-war showdown between the United States and Russia is one of miscalculation, missed signals and overreaching, according to interviews with diplomats and senior officials in the United States, the European Union, Russia and Georgia. In many cases, the officials would speak only on the condition of anonymity.
· Teachers in Texan town allowed to carry pistols
· Remote location could make it a target, say locals
- by Andrew Clark
When teachers return for a new school term in the tiny Texas farming town of Harrold, they can bring a extra tool of the trade alongside books, pens and worksheets. To defend pupils from any gun-toting maniacs, they can carry loaded pistols into the classroom.
With barely 300 residents, the remote rural community in the state's northern dustbowl has appalled gun control advocates by becoming the first in the US to allow its teachers to bear concealed firearms.
Harrold's school board maintains that the move is necessary because the town is 25 miles from the nearest sheriff's office, making it hard to get swift help in an emergency. Its location just yards from a major highway, America's north-south interstate 287, makes it a potential "target" for armed maniacs.
"We are 30 minutes from law enforcement," Harrold's school superintendent, David Thweatt, told the Guardian. "How long do you think it would take to kill all 150 of us? It would be a bloodbath."
Carefully selected teachers are to be trained in crisis management including handling hostage situations. Thweatt said: "When you have good guys with guns, the bad guys do less damage."
These extreme heat waves are likely to kill people and crops alike.
The study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, found that extreme temperatures will rise two or three times faster than average temperatures. So in Europe, peak highs could go from a sweltering 100 degrees up to 110 or 115 degrees. There's even a chance the mercury could hit Sahara-style highs of 120 degrees.
Temperatures in the 120s could also strike Australia and the American Midwest, according to the study, which used climate-change models developed for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
In May 2007 I found a book in a used bookstore called Future Stuff, by Malcolm Abrams and Harriet Bernstein. It was published in 1989, and it described about 275 consumer products that:
...should be in your supermarket, hardware store, pharmacy, department store, or otherwise available by the year 2000.
It was based on interviews with the people who were working on these products. It made concrete predictions, with dates and estimated prices. The predictions were more or less wrong.
This is what happens when you predict the future. What I didn't expect was the sheer variety of ways in which the predictions were wrong. Most books of predictions I've seen come from the 1960s or earlier, and their predictions have no relationship to today's reality. But when I started looking up the technologies described in Future Stuff, I found that almost all of them do exist in some form or another.
Some of them exist more or less as described ("Flat TV"). Some exist more or less as described but nobody buys them ("Vending Machine French Fries"). Some are too expensive to be practical ("Privacy Windows"). Some were big hits in totally different fields than the ones they were marketed to ("Binocular Glasses", "Self-Stirring Saucepan"). Many exist in greatly improved form thanks to mobile phones ("Watch Pager") and the Internet ("Weather Cube", "The Guerilla Information Network")—two technologies that existed when Future Stuff was published, yet which don't seem to be mentioned at all.
Some achieved success by abandoning the high-tech trappings with which Future Stuff burdens them ("Telephone Smart Cards", "Solar-Powered Cooker"). Some made a fortune ("Impotency Pills") for someone other than the person mentioned in Future Stuff. Some failed because of tragic flaws ("Frozen Beverage Mug", "Non-Fattening Fat"), others for contingent reasons of history ("Digital Tape Measure", "Self-Weeding Lawn"). Some remain pipe dreams today ("The Flying Car"). And some ("Mood Suit") were just ridiculous.
This website is an audit of 1989's future. It ran from June 10, 2007 to March 11, 2008, presenting one Future Stuff entry per day. I found out what happened to the predicted products, and to the people and companies who were going to bring them to you. I dug up the appropriate patents and old articles about the products.