News From Around The Blogosphere 11.12.09

1. MILF cleared of abduction charges by Irish priest – Okay, get you minds out of the gutter. Of course I’m talking about the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). In the Philippines, Irish Fr. Michael Sinnott was held hostage for 31 days and after being freed, said that his abductors were the original lumad of Mindanao who lost their homeland and everything else when the merchants came in, but not the MILF. In fact, the MILF Central Committee are credited for effecting his release.

2. Nanotechnology kicks cancer’s ass

Led by Elena Rozhkova, scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago’s Brain Tumor Center have developed the first nanoparticles that seek out and destroy glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) brain cancer cells without damaging nearby healthy cells.

Nanomedicine, an offshoot of nanotechnology, refers to highly specific medical intervention at the molecular scale for curing disease or repairing damaged tissues, such as bone, muscle, nerve, or brain cells. Nanoparticles – anywhere from 100 to 2500 nanometers in size – are at the same scale as the biological molecules and structures inside living cells. Cancer detection using nanoparticles shows great promise as a therapy for certain types of cancer. And the U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH) is taking nanoparticles very seriously. The NIH has established a national network of eight Nanomedicine Development Centers, which serve as the intellectual and technological core of the NIH Nanomedicine Roadmap Initiative.

3. South Carolina rules religious license plates unconstitutional – The smoking gun of the case seems to this:

When State Sen. Yance McGill was asked by the Associated Press in May 2009 whether he would support a Wiccan tag, he said, “Well, that’s not what I consider to be a religion.”

When asked about a Buddhist tag, he said “I’d have to look at the individual situation. But I’m telling you, I firmly believe in this [Christian] tag.”

Rep. Bill Sandifer also backed the “Christian” plate, but emphatically asserted that he would never do the same for a plate featuring Islamic symbols and language.

“Absolutely and positively no,” he said.

And, let’s not forget, [ed: Lt. Gov] Bauer himself also said no to the same question.

“I would not [support a tag for Islam] because that is not the group I support,” he said.

Oops. Thanks guys.

4. Rhode Island governor vetoed domestic partners burial bill – This bill would have allowed a same-sex partner to make funeral arrangements for a dead partner. Governor Carcieri, have you no decency, sir? Have you no decency?

5. Catholic Church gives Washington D.C. an ultimatum – The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington threatened to pull aid to homeless if the state doesn’t change a proposed same-sex marriage law. Yay extortion!

6. Cincinnati Coalition of Reason billboard taken down due to death threats –  And while extremely unfortunate, it both illustrates why these completely unoffensive ads are so important in the first place and on the plus side, the billboard was just moved to a new location. And this will no doubt generate more publicity than the billboard itself.

7. Alabama Atheists and Agnostics get publicity – Last month, they went around chalking their university to advertise their upcoming meeting. Then it got erased and so they chalked everything again, only to have that erased to. And now the story has gotten them some great new publicity, which like the Cincinnati billboard incident, will likely reach a much larger audience than originally intended. Thanks assholes!

8. 10-year-old refuses to stand for Pledge for gay marriage – 10-year-old Will Phillips refuses to stand for the Pledge of Allegience to show support for gay marriage:

“I’ve always tried to analyze things because I want to be lawyer,” Will said. “I really don’t feel that there’s currently liberty and justice for all.”

At the end of our interview, I ask young Will a question that might be a civics test nightmare for your average 10-year-old. Will’s answer, though, is good enough — simple enough, true enough — to give me a little rush of goose pimples. What does being an American mean?

“Freedom of speech,” Will says, without even stopping to think. “The freedom to disagree. That’s what I think pretty much being an American represents.”

9. Why chimps can’t speak

Scientists suspect that part of the answer to the mystery lies in a gene called FOXP2. When mutated, FOXP2 can disrupt speech and language in humans. Now, a UCLA/Emory study reveals major differences between how the human and chimp versions of FOXP2 work, perhaps explaining why language is unique to humans.

Published Nov. 11 in the online edition of the journal Nature, the findings provide insight into the evolution of the human brain and may point to possible drug targets for human disorders characterized by speech disruption, such as autism and schizophrenia.

 

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