Daily Archives: January 20, 2008

Jesuits select new ‘black pope’


Mr Nicolas has spent most of his career in the Far East

BBC | Jan 20, 2008

The Jesuits have chosen Adolfo Nicolas, a Spanish theologian with extensive experience in Asia, to be their new leader or “black pope”.

The choice of Father Nicolas follows four days of prayer and discussion among 217 electors who came to Rome from around the world.

Pope Benedict was informed of the choice and has given his approval, Vatican officials said.

Father Nicolas, 71, succeeds Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, a Dutch priest.

Father Kolvenbach was elected leader in 1983 and was widely credited with improving the Jesuits’ often tense relations with the Vatican.

Jesuit leaders traditionally serve for life, but Father Kolvenbach, who will be 80 this year, had asked to retire because of his age.

Father Nicolas was ordained in Tokyo in 1967 and spent most of his career in the Far East – directing a pastoral institute in Manila, in the Philippines, and holding leadership positions in Japan.

Jesuit superior generals are known as “black popes” because, like the pontiff, they have influence worldwide and usually keep the position for life, and also because their cassocks are black – in contrast to the Pope who usually wears white.

Canada pressured to remove U.S. and Israel from torture watchlist

Guards at Abu Ghraib pose next to one of their victims

Reuters | Jan 19, 2008

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada’s foreign ministry, responding to pressure from close allies, said on Saturday it would remove the United States and Israel from a watch list of countries where prisoners risk being tortured.

Both nations expressed unhappiness after it emerged they had been listed in a document that formed part of a training course manual on torture awareness given to Canadian diplomats.

Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier said he regretted the embarrassment caused by the public disclosure of the manual, which also classified some U.S. interrogation techniques as torture.

“It contains a list that wrongly includes some of our closest allies. I have directed that the manual be reviewed and rewritten,” Bernier said in a statement.

“The manual is neither a policy document nor a statement of policy. As such, it does not convey the government’s views or positions.”

The document — made available to Reuters and other media outlets — embarrassed the minority Conservative government, which is a staunch ally of both the United States and Israel.

U.S. ambassador David Wilkins said the listing was absurd, while the Israeli envoy said he wanted his country removed.

Asked why the two countries had been put on the list, a spokesman for Bernier said: “The training manual purposely raised public issues to stimulate discussion and debate in the classroom.”

Full Story

Pundit equates Ron Paul with al-Qaeda terrorists


Joe David Shuster on MSNBC

‘Ron Paul, al-Qaeda wing of GOP’

Press TV | Jan 19, 2008

An MSNBC correspondent compares Ron Paul to a terrorist on live television, claiming he represents the al-Qaeda wing of his party.

On MSNBC’s news program Morning Joe David Shuster said it was a great analogy to compare Republican candidates to sectarian factions in Iraq and went on to term Ron Paul as a terrorist or the al-Qaeda wing of the Grand Old Party.

Then with a smirk on his face, Shuster laughed as the show’s two anchors lashed out at him, asking the unabashed correspondent to apologize.

Ron Paul is the only GOP candidate to unequivocally characterize the US invasion and occupation of Iraq as a colossal mistake.

The 72-year-old anti-war Texan advocates a complete withdrawal from Iraq, and denounces the concept of preemptive war.

Scientist makes clone of himself from skin cells

Telegraph | Jan 18, 2008

By Nic Fleming

A scientist is believed to have become the first person to create a clone of himself.

Fertility doctor Samuel Wood and colleagues created three early-stage embryos by replacing the DNA of donated eggs with his own and another man’s genetic material from skin cells.

It is the first time cloned human embryos has been produced from adult cells, and raises the prospect that further embryos could be used to provide stem cells tailored to any patient.

Although the embryos only lived for five days, the breakthrough is seen as an important step towards new treatments for incurable diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

In 2005 Prof Woo Suk Hwang at Seoul National University in South Korea claimed to have produced human embryonic stem cells, the research was later shown to be fraudulent.

The only confirmed cloned human embryo was created by a team at Newcastle University, however this was made by cloning human embryonic stem cells that are not routinely available from patients.

Dr Miodrag Stojkovic, a member of the Newcastle team and co-editor of the journal Stem Cells, which published the research yesterday, said: “These researchers have for the first time developed cloned embryos up to blastocyst [five-day-old embryo] stage using adult cells as donor cells.

“This is a key advance in the development of patient-specific stem cell lines for therapeutic and drug development purposes.

“Although these results are preliminary since no stem cell lines have been derived from the cloned embryos, this may now be attempted.”

The researchers from the Stemagen Corporation based in La Jolla, California, used 29 eggs donated by three women in their early twenties.

Using a technique known as somatic cell nuclear transfer – involving hollowing out an egg and injecting it with the nucleus of a cell from a donor – they grew five early-stage embryos consisting of 40 and 72 cells. Three of these contained DNA from either Dr Wood or the other man who provided skin cells.

Asked whether it was true that Dr Wood was one of the men who gave skins cells to produce the clones, a spokesman for Stemagen, said: “Yes, that is true. It stands to reason, we had to use somebody’s skin cells and the review board said it should not be a patient who might be given false hope.”

Dr Stephen Minger, a stem cell expert at King’s College London, said: “This is academically interesting research that shows that another group have managed to create clone human embryos using nuclear transfer.

“Disappointingly the researchers did not go on to do the next step – to create embryonic stem cell lines from cloned embryos.

“The community is waiting to baited breath to see if anyone can do both steps together.”

However pro-life groups accused the scientists of reducing human embryos to nothing more than a factory of spare parts.

John Smeaton, of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said: “We have got scientists wandering around in an ethical wilderness, completely forgetting about matters of justice relating to our fellow human beings.”