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On the Fourth of July Americans will cynically celebrate the greatest setback world progress has ever endured in all of human history. The rest of humankind will, of course, be grieving over the dark day when the United States of America was born. To understand the full scope of this tragedy we must look back at the pre-7/04 world and see what it was like to live on planet Earth before 1776.
Prior to July 4, 1776, not a single person in the world starved, got sick, worked hard for a living, or experienced any pain and anxiety. No one had ever been oppressed or unfairly exploited because the oppressive and unfair American system had not yet been created.
WEDNESDAY, Oct. 8 (HealthDay News) -- European researchers say they've figured out how to coax sperm-producing testicular cells into embryonic-like stem cells.
The findings are the latest in a flurry of published research that seeks to duplicate embryonic stem cell behavior and biology while sidestepping the political and ethical obstacles associated with their use.
"The ability to make a pluripotent stem cell from an individual without the ethical and immunological problems associated with human embryonic stem cells is a big deal," said Peter J. Donovan,, a stem cell expert at the University of California, Irvine.
The new research was published online Oct. 8 in the journal Nature.
Thomas Skutella of the University of Tubingen in Germany and his colleagues used testicular tissue from 22 men to create what they call "germline stem cells." Essentially, they collected these tissues, isolated the cells that give rise to sperm cells, and then cultured them in growth media containing factors that support the development of human embryonic stem cells. Within a few weeks, the cells took on many of the genetic and growth characteristics of embryonic stem cells.
At the genetic level, for instance, the new cells were more like embryonic stem cells than sperm cells. When injected into immune-compromised mice, they produced teratomas, a tumor that contains many different kinds of cells. When grown in culture dishes, the new cells could be directed to differentiate into muscle, bone, neurons, and pancreatic tissues, the study authors said.
"My summary is, it is a nice paper, they made big progress in getting to a pluripotent cell, and they show pluripotency with a teratoma experiment," said Dr. Gerd Hasenfuss of the University of Gottingen, Germany, who has published papers on converting mouse sperm cells into stem cells.
"But I think we are not completely there where we want to be," he added, "namely at pluripotency absolutely comparable to that of embryonic stem cells." In particular, he noted that the study authors failed to show creation of cells called cardiomyocytes, which cause heart muscle to beat.
The new study is the latest in a string of related work on creating embryonic-like stem cells. Researchers and clinicians alike are excited by the potential of embryonic stem cells because they are "pluripotent," meaning they can create any cell type in the body. Most adult cells, in contrast, if they can divide at all, can only create cells of the same type -- that is, a dividing skin cell can only create another skin cell. So, embryonic stem cells could be used to create new tissues for transplantation, say, or to study how genetic mutations cause development to go awry.
The problem, of course, is that to obtain embryonic stem cells, an embryo must be destroyed -- a process fraught with ethical and political difficulty. Recently, researchers sidestepped this problem by turning back the clock on adult mouse and human "somatic" cells, such as skin cells, to make them behave as if they were embryonic. The trick is to introduce four genes into the cell you want to reprogram, creating so-called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.
Originally, iPS cells were created using modified retroviruses or lentiviruses -- the same type of virus that causes AIDS, for instance. But this type of virus inserts its viral genetic material into the host cell's chromosomes, causing mutations, which effectively made the process a non-starter for clinical work.
Two weeks ago, a team at Harvard described a way to accomplish the same thing using viruses that skip this genetic integration step, theoretically making the process safer.
Now Skutella and his team have demonstrated similar results while avoiding genetic manipulations altogether; instead, the reprogramming is induced by changing the cells' growth conditions.
What these authors accomplished, said Hasenfuss, was "to get a pluripotent cell out of the spermatogonial [sperm] stem cells without the need of gene transfer requiring viruses."
Skutella and his colleagues aren't the first to reprogram testicular cells; others have already done so in mice. But his team was the first to successfully do so in humans, said Dirk de Rooij, emeritus professor of endocrinology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, who recently wrote a review on reprogramming mouse spermatogonial stem cells.
De Rooij called the new study "a breakthrough."
"In comparison to the mouse studies that have been done, there is a big leap forward in efficiency with which these people get these germline stem cells," he said.
But besides the obvious fact that women can't benefit from this development, Donovan, who called the study "an exciting piece of work," raised one additional question that may limit the technique's adoption: "I suspect people would be much more willing to give up a piece of skin to make an iPS cell than to have a testicular biopsy to give rise to an adult germline stem cell," he said.
St. Louis and Missouri Democrat sheriffs and top prosecutors are planning to go after anyone who makes false statements against Obama during his campaign.
St. Louis and Missouri Democrat sheriffs and top prosecutors are planning to go after anyone who makes false statements against Obama during his campaign.
A 55-year-old Houston man was sentenced to nine years in prison Friday for possessing more than 2,000 child pornography photos and movies.
Authorities said Victor Saavedra admitted in September 2006 that he possessed a computer containing almost 2,000 images and 270 movies of child pornography. All of the movies and most of the images were sent via the Internet by underage girls at Saavedra's request, prosecutors said.
Saavedra pleaded guilty in May and was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge Ewing Werlein Jr..
After his release from prison, Saavedra will remain under supervised release and be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative in which federal and state agencies work together on online exploitation and abuse cases.
Agencies investigating the case were the Texas Attorney General's Office Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the Houston Police Department and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, with help from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Tortsen Rockwood had been dead five years when "Ahwatukee Sue" broke her silence.
The father of her son hadn't killed himself in the kitchen of their Phoenix apartment in February 2001, she claimed.
In fact, she was the one who took his 9mm pistol, aimed at his heart and pulled the trigger. She did so because he wouldn't pay child support.
If they're living together, isn't he already helping support the child?
At least, that's the story Ahwatukee Sue gave to a nationally syndicated radio show in late 2006.
Authorities say they have identified and are seeking charges against the woman behind Ahwatukee Sue, a moniker familiar to Tom Leykis Show fans since the call aired.
Police have not released her name, but court records identify her as Megan Suzanne Vice, 30, of El Mirage.
Phoenix police this week submitted the case to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office. Suggested charges include first-degree murder and obstruction of a criminal investigation.
Investigators have known about Vice for more than a year. Her name came up after the Leykis show turned over thousands of phone numbers from people who called the show the day of the alleged confession.
Police's first encounter with Vice was in 2001, after she called 911 to report that her live-in boyfriend committed suicide. She told police that Rockwood had threatened to kill himself in the past, and he made a similar threat that day after they fought about red marks on their son's back, court records show. Vice said she and the 2-year-old were watching TV in the living room when the shot rang out.
She admitted to the police that her son showed signs of abuse, so why wasn't CPS called?
An autopsy determined the cause of death was suicide.
Fast-forward to Nov. 3, 2006, the day a woman who identified herself as Sue from Ahwatukee called the Tom Leykis Show. Court records show that before her call was aired, she asked a producer if there was a way to trace the call or learn her identity. She said Sue was her middle name and that she killed her ex-boyfriend over child support. She said she received survivor benefits.
Nope, no motive here.
An MP3 file of the conversation posted on the show's Web site, www.blowmeuptom.com, reveals the woman telling Leykis she had a one-night stand that produced a child. She said they were nurses at the same hospital, and he quit his job to avoid child-support payments.
"I went over and tried to talk to him just about doing some under-the-table money," the woman said. "He wouldn't listen, so I shot him."
"You shot him?" Leykis said.
"Oh yes, I did," she said.
"You shot him dead?"
The woman said she hadn't been arrested because she lied to police.
"When the cops show up and you're a blubbering, crying woman saying that, 'Oh he was yelling and screaming . . . and he pulled put his gun and shot himself,' and I'll be darned if they were OK with that."
There you have it folks. A little blubbering and crying and the cops don't even check her for gun residue.
She hung up when Leykis warned that he would give her number to authorities.
Police said Vice filed a burglary report the following day. She claimed someone broke into her vehicle when she stopped at a park Nov. 3. Several items were missing from her purse, including her cellphone.
Police say that's the phone Vice used to call the Leykis show. Vice admitted to placing the call when confronted by cold-case investigators, but she denied killing Rockwood, according to Sgt. Joel Tranter, a Phoenix police spokesman.
Tranter said part of the case against Vice includes specific knowledge she had about the death. Tranter conceded that she could have gleaned that information in the years since.
Attempts to reach Vice at her El Mirage home were unsuccessful. A current phone number for Rockwood's family in Colorado was not available.
Dr. Erin Spiers, a forensic psychologist in Scottsdale, said there are "myriad reasons" why somebody would place that call, such as guilt or a need to "get that off her chest."
"In the alternative, people often brag about offenses they have perpetuated out of narcissism or grandiosity," Spiers said. "That bravado . . . is how people are often brought to justice in the long run."
Leykis believes the latter. In an interview Thursday, Leykis said he felt Ahwatukee Sue was "very proud" of what she claimed to have done. He thinks she was telling the truth, despite criticism from listeners that the call was a hoax.
"They can admit to taking a trip on the moon," Leykis said. "But when someone calls in and says, 'I killed my child's father,' we're no longer in the realm of entertainment.
"I think it's important for people to know my show is a safe place if you want to confess any peccadillo, but if you call and confess to killing somebody, I will cooperate with the police every time."
Police said the women routinely beat the boy, forced him to put his hands on a hot stove, burned his body and genitals with cigarettes and often would not let him eat or drink.
At a news conference Friday, LAPD Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell said that because of the burns from the stove, the boy no longer can open his hands.
Lt. Vincent Neglia of the LAPD's Abused Child Unit said in a statement Saturday that the abuse was "akin to a level of torture we hope our military personnel would never encounter."
Moving out of striking range
Saturday 16 February 2008
The 'new' editorial on ifeminists.net, which I manage, is entitled "Darren Mack found guilty." The introduction for it reads, "In June 2006, when Darren Mack was arrested for the murder of his estranged wife and for the attempted murder of the judge who presided over their divorce, many men's rights advocates 'rallied' around him. They were wrong to do so...Several voices in the MRA movement (in which ranks I still identified myself) cautioned against making such a cold-blooded murderer into a martyr or poster-child. Glenn Sacks was prominent among the voices of reason."
In response to the intro, I received a note from another woman who used to be a staunch and very active supporter of men's rights activism (MRA); she is a great person, to boot. I hadn't heard from or of the lady for some while but, given that I'd dropped out of all MRA (except for pursuing relevant news items for the ifeminists feed), I didn't think much of her absence from my inbox; several men's rights activists (MRAs) with whom I corresponded frequently have been absent recently as well simply because we no longer share the same preoccupations. Fortunately, this lady still reads ifeminists.net because I received a query re: why I no longer identify with MRA; the subject of the email was "Have we had the same problem?" -- that is, the problem that made her back away as well. The short answer is "no"...at least, not based on her description. My problem was that people close to me received credible threats of violence from MRActivists simply because they close to me; I closed down a thriving BB to resolve the problem but the MRA StandYourGround forum chose to 'out' the real identity of a recipient of threats so that he was a sitting duck for real violence. In short, I became tired of making people I cared for having to carry a gun 24/7 because of their association with me.
Yet, on a deeper level, my answer to her question is "yes"...we both were hit upside the head with the venting, hatred of women and rage that passes for political expression within that movement. The MRAs have made the same mistake as radical feminists. Many of them are not seeking change so much as revenge; any woman -- even one who has done no harm, even one who has worked for their rights -- can become a target who must worry about her own physical safety. I say this with no joy because the insight makes me unable to support MRA. I still speak out in my writing for a gender and race blind legal system but I doubt that I will ever again become "an activist" in the MRA cause. The lady who wrote to me is merely one in a series of about a dozen people now -- most of the writers or columnists -- who began as highly sympatetic to MRAs but who now back away as though confronted by a wild, snarling dog. I understand that this reaction causes celebration in the hearts of many MRAs because they think this means they are being taken seriously. One of the nice things about being on the outside of the movement is that I can just say "So Be It"...and get on with my life, move on to the things I can change for the better.
By the way, there are wonderful men working within MRA -- men like Glenn Sacks who could not be more outraged by the threats of violence and woman-bashing that he has witnessed. I do not mean to tar an entire movement but there is no way to back away from the substantial number of enraged crazies without backing away from the entirety. Why? Because the rage is generally encouraged as being 'justified' and healthy by more moderate MRAs; those of us who complain about being hit upside the head with a brick -- and repeatedly so -- for no just reason are told that we need to put up with the venting because the ones who wield the bricks are 'victims' and deserve sympathy. If we truly care about men, it is claimed, we will allow ourselves to be abused by those who need to lash out at women. Well...I was a victim of domestic violence once and I no longer sanction anyone else beating me up...let alone beating me up because I am trying to help and, so, come within striking range.
Like I said...many MRAs are making the same mistakes as radical feminists. The world created by such people, whether feminist or MRA, will not reflect justice or compassion; it will be a Hobbesian nightmare of all-against-all.
MILWAUKEE - A 79-year-old nun was sentenced Friday to one year in a county jail for sexually abusing two teens when she was their principal four decades ago.
Sister Norma Giannini avoided a trial by pleading no-contest in November to two felony counts of indecent behavior with a child.
"I ask forgiveness from the bottom of my heart," she told Circuit Judge M. Joseph Donald at her sentencing.
One of Giannini's accusers, James St. Patrick, 55, of Belgium, Wis., asked Donald to impose a longer sentence. After the hearing, he said he was angry.
"When are we going to start dealing with female rapists and give them the same sentence as male rapists?" he asked.
In addition to the year behind bars, Giannini was ordered to serve 10 years of supervised probation. She has 60 days to report to jail.
The other accuser, Gerald Kobs, also 55, sobbed as he told the judge the abuse left him suicidal and emotionally withdrawn.
"It's going to take a while to have a reaction," he said after the sentencing. "I'm just glad it's over."
The Associated Press generally does not identify victims of sexual assault, but the two men said they wanted to speak out.
They told authorities they had dozens of sexual encounters with Giannini, including intercourse, while attending St. Patrick's School in Milwaukee during the 1960s, according to a criminal complaint. Giannini taught eighth grade and served as principal at the school.
Assistant district attorney Paul Tiffin had asked the judge to sentence Giannini to eight years in prison. Afterward, he declined comment except to say the sentence was "fair."
Prosecutors had asked for more than $28,000 in restitution, mainly for therapy costs, but the judge noted Giannini had taken a vow of poverty 60 years ago and had virtually no assets.
Donald urged Kobs and St. Patrick to sit down with Giannini and confront her with the emotional trauma she caused. But St. Patrick bristled at the idea of a face-to-face meeting.
"She hasn't called me for 40 years, she raped me, and now I'm supposed to call her and hang out with her," he said.
A psychologist told prosecutors in 2006 that Giannini identified four other victims to an Archdiocese of Milwaukee panel. The three were in Milwaukee and one was in Chicago, where she worked before and after her stint in Wisconsin, the Chicago Tribune reported Friday.
No charges in those cases have been filed.
Giannini, a member of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, went on to work in Illinois from 1970 to 1994.
Sheila King, a spokeswoman for the order Sisters of Mercy of the Chicago Regional Community, said she could not confirm the existence of additional victims because the sister who was president at the time of those allegations was not available.
The current president, Sister Betty Smith, assumed her title in 2006.
"On behalf of the Sisters, I express profound regret for the pain experienced by these two men and their families and anyone else touched by this situation," Smith said in a statement released after the sentencing.
Giannini, who lives with other Sisters of Mercy in a Chicago suburb, has been retired from active work for five years because of failing health, Smith has said. Giannini received extensive counseling at a St. Louis treatment facility after the order "learned of the situation" during the 1990s.
She has been closely monitored and separated from minors since then, according to Smith.
A full-scale rescue operation was launched after seven college students on a night-time orienteering trek became worried by a herd of cows.
Emergency services were called out on Monday night after the teenagers became stuck on a hill near Swanage, Dorset.
The girls from St Albans had been tasked with using map reading skills to find their way to the nearby adventure centre they were staying in.
A Loreto College spokeswoman said the task was run by an "experienced team".
The teenagers, aged 14 and 15, were on the residential field trip as part of their geography coursework.
On Monday night, they were dropped off about three miles (4.8km) from the centre and asked to find their way back.
They were given mobile phones and emergency numbers in case they got into difficulty.
They contacted the centre when they came across the field of cows and coastguard, police and ambulance crews were sent to the scene, a Hertfordshire County Council spokeswoman said.
"They got to the field and realised they needed to be on the other side of it and did not want to go through it," she explained.
Maire Lynch, the head teacher of the college, said: "One group of seven girls became concerned and used their phones to call for help from the centre, as instructed.
"The centre began to direct the girls home and a member of centre staff went out to join them.
"Last night's activity was run by an experienced and established team. "
No-one was injured but one teenager who complained of feeling cold was taken to hospital to be checked over by medical staff.
Four women sentenced over attack on man
NEW YORK - Four lesbians convicted of assaulting a man who was stabbed after he made advances toward one of them were sentenced Thursday amid screams and weeping to prison terms ranging from 3 1/2 to 11 years.
More than two dozen court officers ringed the courtroom as Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Edward McLaughlin pronounced the sentences, which were usually punctuated by a moan, a wail or a comment of disbelief.
The judge made clear that he believed the women, ages 19 to 25 and all from Newark, N.J., were guilty. He said a surveillance tape of the fight was "damning" and "I believe that but for the videotape there would have been an acquittal."The judge sentenced Patreese Johnson, 20, to 11 years in prison. Johnson admitted she had a knife and is seen on the videotape swinging it at the victim, Dwayne Buckle, who has called the incident "a hate crime against a straight man."
Renata Hill, 25, was sentenced to eight years by the judge, who said "she's seen re-instigating the event (fight) when it's over." He said that if it's true Buckle was stabbed in the second flare-up, "she bears some responsibility."
The judge called Venice Brown, 19, "an aggressor who ran after the victim," and he sentenced her to five years in prison. He said the videotape showed her "punching and pulling" Buckle during the fight.
Terrain Dandridge, 20, was the only defendant "who took some responsibility, finally, which is what nobody else did," the judge said in sentencing her to the least harsh prison term, 3 1/2 years.
While all the defendants wept visibly and audibly, Hill sobbed and screamed and collapsed to the floor after the sentencing and was lifted by court officers and carried out of the courtroom.
Three other women who were in the group previously pleaded guilty to attempted assault and were sentenced to six months in jail and five years probation.
The four sentenced Thursday were convicted April 18 after assaulting Buckle, who had made advances at one of the seven as they walked past him outside the Independent Film Center in Greenwich Village on Aug. 18, 2006.
Johnson testified at trial that her group told Buckle they were not interested and he became loud and rude, called them names and threw a cigarette at them while saying that having sex with him would make them straight. She said the fight started after Buckle pushed and shoved them.
Buckle, 29, testified that he was in a hospital for five days and in bed at home for a month after surgery for a lacerated liver and stomach. He said he also suffered cuts, bruises, scratches and an eye injury in the attack.
A lawyer for Hill, Susan Tipograph, called the verdict disappointing. She said the women were defending themselves from an "abusive, homophobic" Buckle. She and the other defense lawyers say they will appeal.
Buckle, of Queens, is a movie audio-video engineer and an independent filmmaker. He says he was trying to sell some of his DVDs on the street when the fight started.
He apparently was not in court for the sentencing.
MAN FEARS WIFE'S REVENGE IF HE ENDS ABUSIVE MARRIAGE
Darrell Roberson came home from a card game late one night to find his wife rolling around with another man in a pickup truck in the driveway.
Caught in the act with her lover, Tracy Denise Roberson _ thinking quickly, if not clearly _ cried rape, authorities say. Her husband pulled a gun and killed the other man with a shot to the head.
On Thursday, a grand jury handed up a manslaughter indictment _ against the wife, not the husband.
In a case likely to reinforce the state's reputation for don't-mess-with-Texas justice, the grand jury declined to charge the husband with murder, the charge on which he was arrested by police.
"If I found somebody with my wife or with my kids in my house, there's no telling what I might do," said Juan Muniz, 33, who was having lunch Friday with one of his two small children at a restaurant in the middle-class suburban Dallas neighborhood where the Robersons lived. "I probably would have done the same thing."
Tracy Roberson, 35, could get two to 20 years in prison in the slaying of Devin LaSalle, a 32-year-old UPS employee.
Assistant District Attorney Sean Colston declined to comment on specifics of the case or the grand jury proceedings but said Texas law allows a defendant to claim justification if he has "a reasonable belief that his actions are necessary, even though what they believe at the time turns out not to be true."
Mark Osler, a Baylor University law school professor and a former federal prosecutor, said the grand jurors evidently put themselves in the husband's place: "I can see one of them saying, `I would have shot the guy, too. I was just protecting my wife.'"
The December night before the shooting, Tracy Roberson sent LaSalle a text message that read in part, "Hi friend, come see me please! I need to feel your warm embrace!" according to court papers. LaSalle apparently agreed.
Darrell Roberson, a 38-year-old employee of a real estate firm, discovered the two, his wife clad in a robe and underwear.
When Tracy Roberson cried that she was being raped, LaSalle tried to drive away and her husband drew the gun he happened to be carrying and fired several shots at the truck, authorities said.
Darrell Roberson's attorney did not immediately return a call for comment.
His wife also was charged with making a false report to a police officer _ for allegedly saying she was raped _ and could get up to six months behind bars on that offense. It was not immediately clear whether she had a lawyer.
She had not been arrested as of Friday afternoon.
HOUSTON -- A mother reported that her infant son's genitals were severed by the family dog, but doctors caring for the boy said his injuries don't appear to be dog bites, officials said.
Harris County Child Protective Services took emergency custody of the 5-month-old on Wednesday, spokeswoman Estella Olguin said.
"Someone did this to this baby, and according to doctors it couldn't have been the way the mama says it happened," Olguin said.
Olguin said police and animal control agencies were participating in the investigation. No charges were filed Wednesday.
The boy's mother, whom authorities have not identified, told investigators she was sleeping alone Wednesday in her apartment in Webster, about 25 miles southeast of Houston. The 25-year-old said she awoke to the sound of crying and found her baby bleeding next to the family's dachshund, Olguin said.
The mother ran to a neighbor's house to ask for help, and the boy was taken by ambulance to a Houston children's hospital, where doctors performed surgeries and may do another one, Olguin said. The baby was listed in critical condition late Wednesday.
"When the child showed up at the hospital, he had massive blood loss and was in shock," Olguin said.
The mother lived with the child's biological father, Olguin said. The injured infant is their only child.
Olguin said the CPS investigation includes interviews and psychological evaluations of the parents. A hearing is set for March 26 to determine long-term custody of the child.
"This is going to affect him forever, even if he survives," Olguin said.
But, for me (because, let's face it -- who's it all about?), the most upsetting part is that all "feminist bloggers" have now been melded almost indelibly into one huge, organic lump, with one indistinguishable from the other.
WACO -- A man apparently trying to seek revenge on an ex-girlfriend by sending child pornography featuring her and her son over the Internet pleaded guilty in federal court.
Antonio Perez III, of Harker Heights, pleaded guilty Thursday to one charge of transporting child pornography.
Perez, 21, was arrested after officers, acting on a tip received by Los Angeles police, searched his home and found computer equipment with images of a woman sexually assaulting her 2-year-old son.
Perez could face between five and 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and up to five years' probation when the federal judge in Waco sentences him next month.
According to court testimony, a California woman who had lived with Perez in Texas sent him an online video earlier this year showing her performing sex acts on her son. Perez forwarded the video to the woman's 15-year-old relative, who contacted California authorities, prosecutors said.
When authorities searched his home, Perez told them he sent the video to get the woman in trouble because he was mad that she moved out, prosecutors said. Perez also told investigators the woman sexually abused the child when they lived with him.
It's unclear whether the unnamed woman faces charges.
Perez's attorney, Denton Bryan Lessman of Waco, declined to comment.
The event was the first of what Stine and other organizers hope will be a series of testosterone-fueled Christian men's gatherings across the country. Their purpose: to reassert masculinity within a church structure that they say has been weakened by feminization.