How Obama can win a second term

The crushing rebuke of the Democrats in the recent election by no means finishes Barack Obama.  He can easily win a second term by emulating the last Democratic President who likewise lost a midterm election but came back to win a second term.  Bill Clinton simply played along with the Republicans to the point of co-opting their positions.  Welfare reform was a Republican issue, but Clinton made it his own.  He also won the public’s sympathy.

President Obama could take upon himself the reduction of the deficit.  (Yes, he caused a big part of it, but that doesn’t have to matter politically.)  He could drastically cut corporate welfare, farm subsidies and the military, thus pleasing his left flank.  The Republicans would co-operate with his other cuts, such as eliminating  whole departments and highly-visible programs.  He could reform social security, perhaps by not letting rich people get it.  He could increase his popularity by just leaving Iraq and Afghanistan, while keeping up the drone assassinations.

I’m not saying he SHOULD do any of this.  I’m just describing what might be successful tactics.  What else could he do?

Stopping the letter bombs

The terrorists have another bright idea:  just make a bunch of bombs and put them in the mail!  It was a wonder the parcels were intercepted.  According to reports, we have to thank an ex-prisoner in Guantanamo who had been released and was living in Saudi Arabia.  He informed authorities and managed to even get them the tracking numbers of the packages.  The Saudis too did their part in stopping the mayhem before it happened.  They all deserve our thanks.

(I’m not linking to the story because the news reports go so far as to name the informer and print his picture.  The poor guy will doubtless get killed for his good deed unless he is given protection for life.)

HT:  Webmonk

Election post-mortem

Well, the House will be under the control of the Republicans with the Senate still in the hands of the Democrats.  What is your analysis and what are your projections?

A hung government is a good thing according to conservatives who want government to be checked and balanced into inactivity.  But might this thwart things that the government does need to do?

Cure for the common cold–and more

British researchers have made a breakthrough discovery that may not only lead to a cure for the common cold but for viral diseases in general.  It hinges upon a discovery that the human immune system is even more comprehensive than anyone dreamed, that it can even work within cells:

In a dramatic breakthrough that could affect millions of lives, scientists have been able to show for the first time that the body’s immune defences can destroy the common cold virus after it has actually invaded the inner sanctum of a human cell, a feat that was believed until now to be impossible.

The discovery opens the door to the development of a new class of antiviral drugs that work by enhancing this natural virus-killing machinery of the cell. Scientists believe the first clinical trials of new drugs based on the findings could begin within two to five years.

The researchers said that many other viruses responsible for a range of diseases could also be targeted by the new approach. They include the norovirus, which causes winter vomiting, and rotavirus, which results in severe diarrhoea and kills thousands of children in developing countries.

Viruses are still mankind’s biggest killers, responsible for twice as many deaths as cancer, essentially because they can get inside cells where they can hide away from the body’s immune defences and the powerful antibiotic drugs that have proved invaluable against bacterial infections.However, a study by a team of researchers from the world-famous Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge has shown that this textbook explanation of the limits of the human immune system is wrong because anti-viral antibodies can in fact enter the cell with the invading virus where they are able to trigger the rapid destruction of the foreign invader.

“In any immunology textbook you will read that once a virus makes it into a cell, that is game over because the cell is now infected. At that point there is nothing the immune response can do other than kill that cell,” said Leo James, who led the research team.

But studies at the Medical Research Council’s laboratory have found that the antibodies produced by the immune system, which recognise and attack invading viruses, actually ride piggyback into the inside of a cell with the invading virus.

Once inside the cell, the presence of the antibody is recognised by a naturally occurring protein in the cell called TRIM21 which in turn activates a powerful virus-crushing machinery that can eliminate the virus within two hours – long before it has the chance to hijack the cell to start making its own viral proteins. “This is the last opportunity a cell gets because after that it gets infected and there is nothing else the body can do but kill the cell,” Dr James said.

“The antibody is attached to the virus and when the virus gets sucked inside the cell, the antibody stays attached, there is nothing in that process to make the antibody to fall off.

“The great thing about it is that there shouldn’t be anything attached to antibodies in the cell, so that anything that is attached to the antibody is recognised as foreign and destroyed.”

In the past, it was thought that the antibodies of the immune system worked entirely outside the cells, in the blood and other extra-cellular fluids of the body. Now scientists realise that there is another layer of defence inside the cells where it might be possible to enhance the natural anti-virus machinery of the body.

“The beauty of it is that for every infection event, for every time a virus enters a cell, it is also an opportunity for the antibody in the cells to take the virus out,” Dr James said.

“That is the key concept that is different from how we think about immunity. At the moment we think of professional immune cells such as T-cells [white blood cells] that patrol the body and if they find anything they kill it.

“This system is more like an ambush because the virus has to go into the cell at some point and every time they do this, this immune mechanism has a chance of taking it out,” he explained.

“It’s certainly a very fast process. We’ve shown that once it enters the cell it gets degraded within an hour or two hours, that’s very fast,” he added.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, involved human cells cultured in the laboratory and will need to be replicated by further research on animals before the first clinical trials with humans.

One possibility is that the protein TRIM21 could be used in a nasal spray to combat the many types of viruses that cause the common cold. “The kind of viruses that are susceptible to this are the rhinoviruses, which cause the common cold, noravirus, which causes winter vomiting, rotavirus, which cause gastroenteritis. In this country these are the kind of viruses that people are most likely to be exposed to,” Dr James said.

via A cure for the common cold may finally be achieved as a result of a remarkable discovery in a Cambridge laboratory – Science, News – The Independent.

Christians slaughtered in church

Details from the al-Qaeda attack on Christians as they were worshipping in a Baghdad church:

The worshipers heard the first shots and explosions about 20 minutes after the beginning of Sunday Mass at Our Lady of Salvation Church.

Heads turned, the sermon stopped abruptly and the Rev. Wassem Sabeeh quietly began ushering parishioners into a fortified room in the rear of the church.

“We realized these explosions were close,” said Bassam Sami, 21, one of the survivors of the attack on a Baghdad church carried out by heavily armed suicide bombers that left at least 58 people dead. “Father Wassem started pushing people inside the room.”

Once they penetrated the church building, the silent assailants began executing people. “They were well trained,” Sami said. “They didn’t say anything. It was like someone had cut out their tongues.”

The carnage that unfolded during the next few hours outraged many in a city that has seen more than its share of bloodshed. The siege suggested that al-Qaeda in Iraq, the weakened Sunni insurgent group that asserted responsibility for the attack, remains capable of carrying out mass-casualty operations.

The target, an Assyrian Christian church in the upscale Karrada neighborhood, was highly unusual. The extremist group has in the past year directed its dwindling resources toward crippling symbols of the Shiite-led Iraqi government.

An Iraqi official said Monday that investigators had found at the scene three Yemeni and two Egyptian passports thought to have belonged to the suicide bombers. If confirmed, the finding would be alarming to U.S. and Iraqi officials because they say al-Qaeda in Iraq has struggled to recruit foreign fighters in recent years.

In a statement posted on the Internet early Monday, the Islamic State of Iraq, a front group for al-Qaeda in Iraq, asserted responsibility for the attack.

via Survivors describe deadly attack on Baghdad church.

Some of the members were taken hostage, some of whom were killed as Iraqi forces stormed the church.

Special Election Day Edition

Today Americans go to the polls to vote.  In our ongoing discussion of those forbidden topics of religion and politics, I want to underscore that the two are, literally, different realms; that is to say, different Kingdoms.  Christianity is not about politics.  It is possible for two Christians to agree in the faith and yet disagree politically, and the former is far more important than the latter.  And yet we do have vocations as citizens, so participating in the deliberations of civil government has great value.

Anyway, today we will attend to politics and what looks to be a very interesting and potentially significant election.  In this post, feel free to comment upon the election as it unfolds:  your predictions, your local issues, what you see happening where you live, the key races, the final results.

Don’t get so caught up in online discussions that you forget to vote!


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