Thursday, May 26, 2005

Highlights of ISDC

So many good presentations at last week's International Space Development Conference, and I couldn't be at many of them, so I'll just link to Clark Lindsey's summary, which links to articles about many of the highlights.

Keith Cowing reports on Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart's call for a launch of a transponder/probe to the asteroid 2004MN4, which will make a close approach to Earth in April 2029, to determine if it will pose a threat of impact on subsequent encounters a few years later.

Finally, while not commenting specifically on this conference, writer Robert Zimmerman discusses the blooming space renaissance and offers an explanation here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

President Meets with Discarded Embryos

White House

W met yesterday with children who were adopted as embryos and their parents, to make the case for protecting the youngest among us. The President plans to veto a bill supporting embryonic stem cell research passed yesterday by the House.

Meanwhile, Michael Cook at Tech Central Station writes about the exaggerated hopes being raised about embryonic stem cell research.
The problem is that the sick and the scientists are rejoicing over two different visions of the future. One believes that cloning embryos will soon yield life-saving cures for devastating diseases and injuries. The other knows that this kind of cloning is basically a research tool for the foreseeable future.
So it's important to get this straight now: cures from so-called therapeutic cloning are probably decades away. If ever.

It is also important to consider the risk that authentic scientific endeavors could suffer a credibility setback when the public becomes more aware of and disenchanted by the false hopes raised by some of the advocates of this particular line of research. I hope that can be avoided.
Congratulations... Priscilla Owen for her long overdue confirmation for a seat on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Senate 'Compromise'

An agreement reached by 14 senators has averted a showdown tomorrow on the Senate filibuster rule. (Here's a PDF of the deal memo.) I suspect there is enough vagueness in this agreement that only postpones future judicial battles. The good news to come out this is that at least three well qualified jurists will receive up-or-down votes: Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Ad Astra, Across the Potomac

I'm headed over to Virginia tomorrow for a few days for the exciting and timely International Space Development Conference. Friday afternoon, I'll be chairing a panel on Near Earth Objects (NEOs) and Planetary Defense.
The Battle is Joined

The Senate debate on the nomination of Priscilla Owen to the federal appeals court is underway.
"I'm trying to move to a qualified nominee, Priscilla Owen and we hear these attempts to delay even right now, to sidetrack, to even consider somebody else and that's the challenge,'' Frist said. "That's why we're on the floor of the United States Senate, with the light of day, with the American people watching."

Monday, May 16, 2005

Old Media Fiascos

Newsweek has retracted the report in its May 9 issue alleging desecration of the Quran at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The allegation resulted in riots and deaths in parts of the Muslim world.

Meanwhile, CBS was at it again last week by selectively presenting an interview with former independent counsel Ken Starr to make it appear that he criticized possible action by Republicans to change Senate rules to bypass Democratic filibusters of W's federal judicial nominees as a 'radical departure'. While Mr. Starr does not support changing the filibuster rules, he does explain how the interview was manipulated.
In an e-mail from Starr posted today on National Review Online's "The Corner," Starr explained: "The 'radical departure' snippet was specifically addressed -- although this is not evidenced whatever from the clip -- to the practice of invoking judicial philosophy as a grounds for voting against a qualified nominee of integrity and experience." Starr declared: "[O]ur friends are way off base in assuming that the CBS snippets, as used, represent (a) my views, or (b) what I in fact said."

No retraction has been issued by CBS over this.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

God Wins!

Pope Benedict XVI foresees the final outcome of history.
Exploration Pace Advancing

NASA Administrator Mike Griffin plans to accelerate development of the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), while an alliance of entrepreneurial firms proposes splitting the Earth-to-orbit vehicle from the exploration vehicle.

Meanwhile, Robert Zimmerman writes of a new colonial age developing in space.
Catholic Bloggers

Valerie Schmalz writes about the Catholic blogging community. (It looks like she plans more articles to follow.)

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Liftoff on a Prayer

As the first Thursday in May in America marks both the National Day of Prayer and Space Day, it's interesting to note that space officials in India acknowledge praying to a Hindu deity for a successful satellite launch. I don't know if there is an Indian equivalent of the ACLU ready to sue.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

An Adult Approach to Stem Cells

Kathryn Jean Lopez, whom I had the pleasure of meeting briefly once again at last Friday evening's NRO hang-out at the Dubliner in DC, has a good take on the promise of adult stem cells v. the hype about embryonic stem cells.
Embryonic-stem-cell research is not the only hope for mankind, as we are typically led to believe. The prospects of adult-stem-cell and umbilical-cord stem-cell research are repeatedly ignored by media and activists who could use both to promote funding of and research in stem-cell projects and totally avoid the ethical chaos that comes with working with human embryos
UPDATE: 5/5/05
Keith Cowing has posted a press release describing how some NASA funded research has only further advanced the adult stem cell field.
In addition to its impact on space travel, Regenetech's technology is being explored for human application such as pancreas regeneration, which would cure diabetes, heart regeneration and the regeneration of other human organs. The company has licensed its technology for the treatment of sickle cell disease and Myelodysplastic syndromes.