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!

Voting for change, yet again

Liberal columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr., quotes a Democratic operative who deserves the Martin Luther Catechism Award for putting the best construction upon everything:

Nathan Daschle, the executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, argues that if the Republicans do as well as is expected, 2010 would be the third election in a row in which voters cast ballots for change, the very quest for a “new direction” that propelled Democrats such as Murphy into office four years ago.

via E.J. Dionne Jr. – Victories that are hardly mandates.

So, see, if the Republicans win in a landslide, that shows the public is really sympathetic to the Progressive cause!

Actually, though, he has a point.  People want change, but the nature of that change matters.

If Americans keep voting for change, why haven’t they gotten it? Or is it that they don’t like the change they have gotten and want to change it back?   What changes do you think might happen with this election?

The campaign strategy of staying out of sight

From a piece about Harry Reid’s difficult re-election campaign:

Reid has what some political strategists refer to as an “Al Gore problem.” It is widely believed that Gore would have won the 2000 campaign if he would have just stayed out of public view for the last two weeks of the campaign. But every time Gore would emerge into the spotlight, George W. Bush’s numbers would improve.

For an incumbent (or in Gore’s case, quasi-incumbent) who is not well-liked, visibility is the enemy.

via Today’s Power Play: Reid Withers in the Spotlight | Foxnews.com.

Would that more candidates would try that strategy of not making public appearances!  I suppose it would only work for incumbents, but still, not being visible would make many politicians more likable.  In the early days of our republic, presidential candidates would make a point of not campaigning, allowing their surrogates to do that for them.  It was considered undignified to appear in public asking people for their votes.  And it is undignified!

Can you think of other politicians, past or present, who might have “an Al Gore problem”?  I don’t want to bash them.  Let’s limit this to politicians who actually might be pretty good at their job, but simply don’t come across all that well.


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