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Teams of biologists in Japan and Wisconsin discovered new methods for transforming human skin cells into “induced pluripotent stem cells.” Both techniques employ a retrovirus to inject the cells with four “master regulator” genes that reprogram the cells’ function. The Wisconsin team, directed by James A. Thompson, who pioneered the harvesting of embryonic stem cells, culled its skin cells from foreskins. The Japanese team conducted their preliminary research on mice, with a cancer gene among the regulators, and created in the process a mischief of clone mice, 20 percent of which developed cancer. President George W. Bush was said to be “very pleased” that the innovation might render the use of embryonic stem cells obsolete, but critics said it was too soon to tell whether the synthesized stem cells would prove as versatile as those from embryos.New York TimesSeattle TimesNew York TimesAn American nuclear scientist projected that the number of deaths caused by depleted uranium in ammunition fired on Iraq would exceed those caused by the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “The environment is now completely radioactive,” said Leuren Moret. “The genetic future of the Iraqi people, for the most part, is destroyed.”uruknetIan Smith, the Rhodesian prime minister who promised 1,000 years of white rule in Africa, died, and authorities in Zimbabwe were arresting satirists.EconomistL.A. TimesAustralian voters elected the Labor Party’s Kevin Rudd prime minister, replacing conservative John Howard, a Bush ally who failed to retain his own seat in Parliament. Rudd, who has been videotaped eating his own earwax, said he would push for Australia to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, leaving the United States the lone holdout.TimeYouTubeAFPFourteen thousand refugees fled wildfires in Malibu, California,.New York Timesand the British government admitted that it had lost computer disks containing the personal information of more than one third of its citizens.New York Times
Exiled prime minister Nawaz Sharif returned to Pakistan. “I have come,” he said, “to save this country.” New York TimesThere was a power vacuum in Lebanon after the Parliament failed to elect a new president, New York Timesand in Annapolis, Maryland, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice convened a meeting of Middle Eastern leaders, excluding Iran and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. “We must not view Annapolis as a failure,” Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said before the summit started. “Nothing good will come out of it,” said Riham Abu Khater, a 17-year-old Gazan woman attending a protest march. “Good will only come from the language of fighting, and from force.” Hamas pledged to pack more explosives in its homemade rockets, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, “Participation in this summit is an indication of the lack of intelligence of some so-called politicians.”Daily StarHaaretzHaaretzJerusalem PostThe Interfaith Rainbow Coalition Against Homosexuality in Uganda protested a summit of British Commonwealth leaders in Kampala. “I asked President Museveni to get us an island on Lake Victoria and we take these homosexuals and they die out there,” said Sheikh Ramathan Shaban Mubajje of an earlier meeting he had with Uganda’s head of state. “If they die there, then we shall have no more homosexuals in the country.”365Gay
Former White House spokesman Scott McClellan released an excerpt of his forthcoming memoir. The passage states that he “unknowingly” lied when he denied that White House aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby participated in the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. McClellan vaguely confesses that “Rove, Libby, the vice president [Dick Cheney], the president’s chief of staff [Andrew Card], and the President himself” were “involved” in his relaying “false information,” but he stops short of saying that Bush and Cheney knew they were telling him to lie. SlateAl Gore visited the White House,.ABCand amateur investigators in Russia found the charred bones of two teenage children of Tsar Nicholas II murdered along with their father, mother, and three siblings by Bolshevik agents in 1918, dispelling the rumor that a Romanov prince or princess had escaped execution. New York TimesAbraham Bolden, a former Secret Service agent, told reporters that a plot by Cuban exiles to kill President John F. Kennedy in Chicago was uncovered three weeks before his assassination in Dallas. The would-be assailants, who had allegedly rented a motel room overlooking Kennedy’s motorcade route and were said to possess automatic rifles with telescopic sights, were never caught, and the investigation, Bolden claimed, was covered up.TelegraphKennedy’s 86-year-old sister Eunice was hospitalized with an undisclosed illness,CNNand UNAIDS, the United Nations agency that fights AIDS, lowered its estimate of the number of people infected with the disease worldwide, from 39.5 million to 33.2 million. New York TimesArmin Meiwes, a convicted German cannibal, was elected leader of his prison’s Green Party chapter and announced that he had become a vegetarian.ScotsmanCiting Schrodinger’s cat, cosmologists speculated that humans’ observation of dark matter, beginning in 1998, might bring about the premature destruction of the universe.Telegraph
More from Christian Lorentzen:
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”