Category “World News”

Cartoon of the Day

Can we just give the Israelis the secret nod to go blow this damn Iran­ian nuclear pro­gram to king­dom come already?

Oh that’s right, John Kerry thinks free­ing a spy will solve every­thing.
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Is Artificial Blood 20 Years Down the Road?

Talk about your med­ical break­through if this can be worked out.  No more con­cerns about the blood sup­ply.  No more worry from hos­pi­tals that they lack the wrong blood type.

With this achieve­ment, “O-Negative” just became much more in supply.

Arti­fi­cially cre­ated blood could one day replace dona­tions as the norm for blood transfusions.

That’s accord­ing to researchers at the Uni­ver­sity of Edin­burgh who have been using stem cells to cre­ate red blood cells.

And in 2016 they are plan­ning to con­duct a ground­break­ing trial that, for the first time, will test arti­fi­cial blood made from stem cells in patients.

The £5 mil­lion project is being pio­neered by the Uni­ver­sity of Edin­burgh and comes after years of research into grow­ing red blood cells.

The process involves using adult skin or blood cells that have been genet­i­cally mod­i­fied into stem cells, known as induced pluripo­tent stem (iPS) cells. (Empha­sis mine.)

These iPS cells are then cul­tured in bio­logic con­di­tions that mimic the human body, even­tu­ally lead­ing to their tran­si­tion into mature red blood cells.

The trick so far has been increas­ing the effi­ciency of this tran­si­tion process, as not all the cells are capa­ble of becom­ing red blood cells.

The team at the Uni­ver­sity of Edin­burgh has got this effi­ciency to approach­ing 50% in a process that takes about a month.

The red blood cells are then sep­a­rated from the rest of the cells in a centrifuge.

Their next step will be to trial the blood in patients in 2016.

Two things: If you’re still giv­ing blood, keep giv­ing blood.  Hos­pi­tals pre­fer hav­ing the exact blood type of the recip­i­ent on-hand, as good a uni­ver­sal donor O-Negative blood is, it can’t be stressed how med­ically impor­tant the right blood type is to recovery.

Secondly…another fine dis­cov­ery made pos­si­ble with adult stem cells.

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NASA Suspends Space Cooperation with Russia over Crimea / Ukraine">NASA Suspends Space Cooperation with Russia over Crimea / Ukraine

Gee, you’d think this would have been one of the first things we did instead of start­ing with the strongly worded letters. 

NASA has been told to sus­pend con­tact with Russ­ian gov­ern­ment offi­cials because of Russia’s “ongo­ing vio­la­tion of Ukraine’s sov­er­eignty and ter­ri­to­r­ial integrity,” accord­ing to an agency memo cir­cu­lated Wednes­day. The Inter­na­tional Space Sta­tion, which is jointly oper­ated by NASA, Rus­sia, the Euro­pean Space Agency, Japan and Canada, is exempt and not directly impacted by the new guidelines.

The memo appar­ently reflects a broad State Depart­ment direc­tive to mul­ti­ple fed­eral agen­cies that have reg­u­lar con­tact with the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment. In NASA’s case, the space sta­tion rep­re­sents the bulk of the agency’s deal­ings with Rus­sia and the exemp­tion pre­sum­ably means busi­ness as usual.

But the space agency has mul­ti­ple, less-visible coop­er­a­tive efforts in space sci­ence, aero­nau­tics and other areas, and the poten­tial impacts on those remain to be seen.

Appar­ently, this is hap­pen­ing in all fed­eral agen­cies,” said John Logs­don, pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus of polit­i­cal sci­ence and inter­na­tional affairs at George Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­sity. “So it’s con­sis­tent with the across-government thing. It’s civil­ian, it doesn’t have any­thing to do with the RD-180 (a Russ­ian engine used aboard Atlas 5 rock­ets) and ISS is unperturbed.”

He said the restric­tions mir­ror those already in place gov­ern­ing NASA’s rela­tion­ship, or lack thereof, with China.

As the memo seems to dic­tate, the ISS — Inter­na­tional Space Sta­tion — is exempt.  Last week, a new crew which included 3 Amer­i­cans, went up to the the ISS for another pro­longed stay.  Cost of one seat for each on board a Russ­ian Soyuz rocket is said to be about $71 mil­lion.  With the U.S. cur­rently hav­ing turned its entire space shut­tle fleet into museum pieces, the Rus­sians are the only way out to space until — or even if — a new Amer­i­can orbiter is given the green light.

The ISS pro­gram is cur­rently set to expire in 2024, the cur­rent spec­u­la­tion from NASA is to have a replace­ment for the space shut­tle some­time around 2017. No one knows what, if any­thing is on the launch pad at the moment.

Though at $71 mil­lion a seat, you can’t help but think Richard Bran­son is seri­ously under­charg­ing for tick­ets of his “Vir­gin Galac­tic” space tourism venture.

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Vatican Doesn’t Give Obama the Glowing Review He Wanted

The offi­cial state­ment from the Vat­i­can on the vis­i­ta­tion of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and Sec. of State John Kerry.

This morn­ing, 27 March 2014, the Hon. Barack H. Obama, Pres­i­dent of the United States of Amer­ica, was received in audi­ence by His Holi­ness Pope Fran­cis, after which he met with His Emi­nence Car­di­nal Pietro Parolin, Sec­re­tary of State, and Arch­bishop Dominique Mam­berti, Sec­re­tary for Rela­tions with States.

Dur­ing the cor­dial meet­ings, views were exchanged on some cur­rent inter­na­tional themes and it was hoped that, in areas of con­flict, there would be respect for human­i­tar­ian and inter­na­tional law and a nego­ti­ated solu­tion between the par­ties involved.

In the con­text of bilat­eral rela­tions and coop­er­a­tion between Church and State, there was a dis­cus­sion on ques­tions of par­tic­u­lar rel­e­vance for the Church in that coun­try, such as the exer­cise of the rights to reli­gious free­dom, life and con­sci­en­tious objec­tion, as well as the issue of immi­gra­tion reform. Finally, the com­mon com­mit­ment to the erad­i­ca­tion of traf­fick­ing of human per­sons in the world was stated.

Popes have been lec­tur­ing the Pres­i­dent of the United States since likely the coun­try was founded. The press gave high points to Pope John Paul II when he report­edly ripped for­mer Pres­i­dent George W. Bush over the Iraq War.  I can’t recall if any­thing was said when Clin­ton wel­comed JP2 for World Youth Day in Den­ver  (you know, he just had Gen­nifer Flow­ers and over­turned the Mex­ico City Pol­icy) back in 1993.

Few pres­i­dents have over­all good rela­tion­ships with popes, with Rea­gan being the like­li­est excep­tion, since the two worked with Mar­garet Thatcher to end Soviet communism.

That being said, let’s break­down the Vat­i­can state­ment, shall we?

In the con­text of bilat­eral rela­tions and coop­er­a­tion between Church and State, there was a dis­cus­sion on ques­tions of par­tic­u­lar rel­e­vance for the Church in that coun­try, such as the exer­cise of the rights to reli­gious free­dom, life and con­sci­en­tious objec­tion, as well as the issue of immi­gra­tion reform. Finally, the com­mon com­mit­ment to the erad­i­ca­tion of traf­fick­ing of human per­sons in the world was stated.

the exer­cise of the rights of reli­gious free­dom” — Uh oh, that’s the Oba­maCare birth con­trol and abor­tion man­date clause.

life” — Obama got the “Abor­tion is mass mur­der” speech.

con­sci­en­tious objec­tion” — Remem­ber when the Left was all for con­sci­en­tious objec­tion?  Fight­ing in ‘Nam or Iraq?  Become a con­sci­en­tious objec­tor young man.  Have issues with abortion-inducing drugs, pre­form­ing abor­tion, or bak­ing a cake for a gay wed­ding?  It’s like they’ve never heard the term before.

But at least they agreed on immi­gra­tion reform and human traf­fick­ing.  Two out of five ain’t bad.

And in a true “Image of the Day,” here’s a pic­ture of the two together I took from a friend’s Face­book page.  As you can see, some­one doesn’t look too excited to be with the other person.

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Cartoon of the Day

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Cartoon of the Day

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Cartoon of the Day

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Russia Absorbs Crimea into Russia

Reset but­ton…work­ing like a charm.

(If that “charm” was a re-ignition of the Cold War.)

Rus­sia effec­tively absorbed Crimea Tues­day after­noon, moments after Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin declared that Rus­sia has no designs on any other parts of Ukraine.

In a speech to a joint ses­sion of par­lia­ment, which he used to call for the “reuni­fi­ca­tion” of Crimea with Rus­sia, he said that the region has a spe­cial role in Russ­ian his­tory that makes it unique.

Ecsta­tic mem­bers of the Russ­ian par­lia­ment watched while Putin and Crimean lead­ers signed a treaty of acces­sion as soon as Putin was done speak­ing, and the Krem­lin said after­wards it con­sid­ers the treaty to be in force even before par­lia­ment has rat­i­fied it.

Sev­astopol, the city where Russia’s Black Sea fleet is based, also entered the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion, as a sep­a­rate entity.

Even while declar­ing that Moscow will not seek to expand its hold­ings in Ukraine, Putin also promised that Rus­sia will do what it must to pro­tect the rights of Rus­sians liv­ing abroad — which sug­gests that he intends to play a role in restive east­ern Ukraine, with its large Russ­ian population.

He said Moscow will always pro­tect the rights of Rus­sians using “polit­i­cal, diplo­matic and legal means.”

Putin is stress­ing he’s done expand­ing his ter­ri­tory at the moment.  Hon­estly, you have to won­der if any­one in the west­ern world would even bother try­ing to stop him if he gob­bled up the rest of Ukraine or just its east­ern half.

His­tor­i­cally and mil­i­tar­ily, Crimea and Sev­astopol are vastly impor­tant to Rus­sia.  With the port of St. Peters­burg frozen over (typ­i­cally) for up to half the year, Crimea is strate­gic to the Rus­sians because that’s  where they’re south­ern fleet.  One of the biggest issues in a post-Soviet Union / pre-Putin Rus­sia was just who had con­trol over the old Soviet navy: Ukraini­ans, since the boats and subs were in their ter­ri­tory, or Rus­sia, which gain the ter­ri­tory to Ukraine in the years after World War II.

As Putin him­self has said and backed up with his actions, he sees Crimea as part of Rus­sia with lit­tle regard for inter­na­tional law.

Putin traced Russ­ian roots in Crimea to the bap­tism there of Vladimir, who con­verted the Russ­ian peo­ple to Chris­tian­ity just over 1,000 years ago. He men­tioned that the bones of Soviet sol­diers who fought the Ger­mans in World War II are buried all across the peninsula.

All these places are sacred to us,” he said. After not­ing that Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev assigned Crimea to Ukraine in 1954, he argued that Rus­sia by rights should have got­ten it back in 1991 when the Soviet Union dissolved.

Rus­sia was not just robbed — it was robbed in broad day­light,” he said.

In his his­tor­i­cal remarks, he also touched on Rus­sians’ roots in Ukraine, in a way that a large num­ber of Ukraini­ans may not have found to be reas­sur­ing. “We sym­pa­thize with the peo­ple of Ukraine,” he said. “We’re one nation. Kiev is the mother of all Russ­ian cities.”

Take what you want into that last sentence.

For a man who believes in a return of Soviet / Russ­ian dom­i­nance, it’s hard to believe he’s done with the land grab.

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