September 03, 2004

LinkNews Digest [09/03/2004]

Dawn of the (Cloned) Dead

Viable embryos have been created from dead people by fusing their cells with empty cow eggs, a controversial fertility scientist claimed on Tuesday.

Panayiotis Zavos, of the Kentucky Center for Reproductive Medicine, Lexington, US, say his team has shown that cells taken from humans after death could be used for cloning. This latest work is purely experimental and no embryos were implanted for cloning, said Zavos, announcing the results at his own press conference in London, UK.

However, the claims were immediately met with both revulsion and scepticism from the UK scientific community.

The work is “both scientifically questionable and ethically unacceptable”, says Richard Gardner of the UK Royal Society's working group on stem cell research and cloning. “It is grossly misleading to suggest that you can replicate a loved one by producing a cloned person with the same genetic material.”

“This man preys on the strong desires of the most vulnerable people in society - giving them false hopes,” says Robin Lovell-Badge, head of developmental genetics at the UK's National Institute for Medical Research. Other scientists argue that, even if cloning a person were possible, the risk of major birth defects is huge.
Link (New Scientist)

'Till Death Do Us Join?

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A South African man who shot his pregnant fiance dead before killing himself will be posthumously married to her at the weekend.

Police Captain Mohale Ramatseba said David Masenta shot 25-year-old Mgwanini Molomo after a quarrel before turning the gun on himself. But Johannesburg's Sowetan newspaper said family and friends wanted to remember them as a happy couple destined for a happy life together.

The groom's corpse would be dressed in a cream suit and his bride's in a gown for the ceremony, at which a priest in the rural village of Ceres in Limpopo will bless the union before the two are buried, the Sowetan said.

"In African culture, there is no death -- there is merely the separation of body and soul," said cultural expert Mathole Motshekga. "It is also important because the families are married together."

"This does not mean the relationship has irretrievably broken down."
Link

Furniture To Die For?

JEDDAH (Reuters) - Three men were trampled to death in a rush to claim vouchers at the first IKEA furniture showroom in Saudi Arabia Wednesday, hospital officials said.

Sixteen shoppers were injured at the Sweden-based furniture store's showroom in Jeddah. Medics revived some 20 customers who had fainted in the crush.

The stampede was triggered by an offer for the first 50 shoppers to received $150 vouchers. An official at IKEA's Saudi agent said more than 70,000 people showed up at Jeddah.

Hospital officials said two dead were a Pakistani and a Saudi national. IKEA is known for simple, reasonably priced furtiture products
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Atlanta Man Drives Home with Headless Friend

ATLANTA (Reuters) - A Georgia man who drove home with a friend's headless body after a truck accident then went to bed while the remains dangled out the window faces charges including vehicular homicide and drunk driving, police said on Monday.

John Hutcherson, covered in blood and visibly inebriated, was arrested in bed on Sunday morning after a local resident out on a stroll observed a headless, bloody body hanging out of the 21-year-old man's truck, Cobb County police said.

Hutcherson was due to make an initial court appearance on Monday.

Police said that Hutcherson and his friend, identified as Francis Brohm, 23, were returning from a bar outside Atlanta early Sunday morning when their black 1992 Chevrolet Z-71 pickup hit a curb near a telephone pole.

Brohm, partially outside the window at the time, was decapitated by a guide wire on the telephone pole, according to police, who recovered his head at the crash site. "Alcohol is believed to be a contributing factor," police said.
Link

Ahh, Georgia: Home of the "Walk it off" school of emergency medicine.

"Little Old Lady From Pasadena", Revisited

Giuseppe Cannella had a big surprise for his mother-in-law when he put a jet engine on the back of her wheelchair.

Mr Cannella says the chair can now do top speeds of more than 60mph and has proved the star of a model plane championship during the Bank Holiday. A model plane enthusiast himself, Mr Cannella has been putting on shows at Barkston Heath near Grantham, Lincs.

"It is just the wheelchair with the engine bolted on the back and steering on the front," he said.

Link (BBC)


Seti@Home Finds Signal from Space

LONDON (Reuters) - An unexplained radio signal from deep space could -- just might be -- contact from an alien civilization, New Scientist magazine reported on Thursday.

The signal, coming from a point between the Pisces and Aries constellations, has been picked up three times by a telescope in Puerto Rico.

New Scientist said the signal could be generated by a previously unknown astronomical phenomenon or even be a by-product from the telescope itself.

But the mystery beam has excited astronomers across the world.

"If they can see it four, five or six times it really begins to get exciting," Jocelyn Bell Burnell of the University of Bath in western England told the magazine.

It was broadcast on the main frequency at which the universe's most common element, hydrogen, absorbs and emits energy, and which astronomers say is the most likely means by which aliens would advertise their presence.

The potentially extraterrestrial signals were picked up through the SETI@home project, which uses programs running as screensavers on millions of personal computers worldwide to sift through the huge amount of data picked up by the telescope.
Link

Club-Goers Drop Drugs, Drawers In Police Raid

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Around 80 men were caught with their pants down at a men-only nightclub when detectives burst in on a late-night drug raid.

Inspector Dennis Adriao told Reuters Monday four men at "The Factory" nightclub in New Doornfontein were arrested in the early hours of Sunday after drugs were discovered stashed in their socks and shoes, which most patrons were still wearing.

"Men had to pay at the entrance and leave their clothes at the door. Police were tipped off there would be drugs but they got a bit of a shock because they didn't know it was a nudist night," he said.

The owner of the nightclub was also arrested for serving alcohol without a license, and around $4,500 worth of liquor was seized, Adriao said. Drugs were also found dumped on the floor by people who managed to avoid arrest, he added.
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