The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

From SorryEverybody:

Thanks to BenWhite for the link.

Marwan Barghouthi, jailed Palestinian, is running to succeed Arafat:
Jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouthi joined the race for president to succeed Yasser Arafat on Wednesday, drawing condemnation from his own Fatah movement and threatening to split the group.

Barghouthi's candidacy as an independent dashed expectations of almost certain victory by the dominant Fatah faction's official nominee, moderate former Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, whose only other challengers were fringe figures.

"I officially registered him," Barghouthi's wife Fadwa told reporters after visiting him in jail, where he reversed an earlier decision to opt out of the Jan. 9 poll.
Well, if he wins, that would certainly put Bush in an interesting position.

One of the interesting things about our President is, for however illiterate some think he is, Karl Rove likes to have the media know that Bush is reading certain books. In 2001 he was famously seen walking across the White House lawn carrying Bernie Goldberg's anti-CBS screed Bias (mostly anti-Rather, actually).

A week or two ago, Bush and his people wanted everyone to know that he was reading The Very Hungry Democracy The Case For Democracy by Natan Sharansky who, among other things, argues that Palestinians need to engage in substantial democratic reforms of their own before progress can be made (the linked article isn't particularly fond of him).

Anyway, should Barghouthi win -- and I doubt it -- and should he do so with even a shred of legitimacy, it would put Dubya's near-messianic belief in the "transformative power of freedom" in some degree of limbo. If Palestine embraces the democratic process and turns up leaders not to Bush's liking, which of his bold principles will win out? Democracy at all costs (such as, the deaths of tens of thousands to the east)? Or opposition to perceived "evil-doers", as many see Barghouthi?

From what we know about Bush's public statements on Iraqi elections, one would think that democracy would trump. He has said that should the Iraq elections result in victories for Muslim hardliners and theocrats who are hostile to American interests, then that's alright because democracy is the reward in and of itself. Would such thinking carry over to the Arab-Israeli situation as well?

One last thing: If you want to talk about the Palestinians embracing democracy, particularly American-style democracy, look no further than Barghouthi's announcement. There was speculation that he would run, then last Thursday he said he wasn't going to run, but opted back in today. Doesn't that sound like the typical, run-of-the-mill buzz-building you find among potential candidates in American elections? I almost expected his wife to say something about an "exploratory committee".

Goodbye KenJen. We look forward to your awkward, forced cameos.

H&R Blockhead. (:

Monday, November 29, 2004


Paralyzed for two decades, a South Korean woman walks again. Guess how:
A South Korean woman paralyzed for 20 years is walking again after scientists say they repaired her damaged spine using stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood.

Hwang Mi-Soon, 37, had been bedridden since damaging her back in an accident two decades ago.

Last week her eyes glistened with tears as she walked again with the help of a walking frame at a press conference where South Korea researchers went public for the first time with the results of their stem-cell therapy.

They said it was the world's first published case in which a patient with spinal cord injuries had been successfully treated with stem cells from umbilical cord blood.

Though they cautioned that more research was needed and verification from international experts was required, the South Korean researchers said Hwang's case could signal a leap forward in the treatment of spinal cord injuries.
The researchers also noted that the therapy helped her retrieve some lost portions of her memory. She was quoted as saying "I remember . . . people . . . making fun . . . of John Edwards..." (example)


Anyway, the interesting wrinkle in this story is that the stem cells used came from umbilical cord blood, rather from a human embryo. AFP points out the difference between what these two variants of stem cells can do, but in the process of doing so, engages in a fit of mock "balance" that would certainly please the James Dobsons of the world:
So-called "multipotent" stem cells -- those found in cord blood -- are capable of forming a limited number of specialised cell types, unlike the more versatile "undifferentiated" cells that are derived from embroyos.

However, these stem cells isolated from umbilical cord blood have emerged as an ethical and safe alternative to embryonic stem cells.
Oh, it wasn't enough that the Christian right gets to define "moral values" in the American public discourse, but also ethics?

Then again, if embryonic cells weren't being discussed, perhaps they'd be making a stink about umbilical cells as compared to adult stem cells. "Hey," they'd say, "that's a little baby's lone source of nourishment. You'd take it away from that precious divine creation? Obviously you're not pro-life."

Posted by Hello

Her name is Archbishop Desmond Moo Two Edith Piaf Phoebe... actually we don't know yet. Give it a couple days. Then again, who cares when she's so darn cute!

(btw that's my sister's purse)

The Facts Machine will be back in something like full force tomorrow. It's been a fascinating week, let's recap!

--Colombian Marxists with, let's say, a tenuous understanding of the Presidential line of succession were apparently planning to assassinate the President during his visit, in the city of Cartegna. Okay, guys, that's nice and all, but let's think about this. Bush is a 2nd-term President and cannot run again. His VP, Cheney, is unlikely to ever run for elected office ever again. The effect on American policy your act would have would be virtually nil, or even to bring about policies even less desirable to you (they'll declare "war" on you, first off). The sympathy vote might be added to the GOP's 51% electoral coalition. Brilliant idea, guys.

You'd think that of all people, Marxists would put more thought into their plans.

--Ahh, the Ukraine. Exit polls give the lead to one guy. Final results show the other guy winning. Our State Department waxes indignant. Chernobyl spews a radioactive cloud of pure irony, choking all in the area.

Which brings me to my question about the 2004 election, and heck, about the 2000 election. John Kerry, Al Gore, in the aftermath of your close defeats, neither of you did the one thing that seems to work in these situations abroad: Assemble large crowds. Think about these three historical locations and times: Moscow in August 1991, Belgrade in 1999, and Kiev this week. What do they all have in common? A just change in leadership/election results, or at least a possible one, helped along by large crowds. Yeltsin overcame the last-ditch pro-Soviet coup in Russia. Milosevic's shady re-election was negated by hundreds of thousands of people in the streets of Belgrade, and mass outcry in the Ukraine has contributed to the election results there being tossed out.

So where's our mob, guys? There's nothing fundamentally UnAmerican about peaceful assembly. Hell, the Republicans shut down the legal counting of ballots in Dade County in 2000 with a dozen paid staffers shouting. Couldn't some of that surplus money Kerry had left over at the end of the race gone to filling some damn buses?

I'm not saying that hundreds of thousands of people from MoveOn or ACT's mailing lists should clump together and bully a handful of Ohioan electors towards faithless status. What I am saying, though, is that when people join together like that, people take a serious look at things. We would've had a much more serious examination of Jeb Bush's "felon" purge in 2000 than we did. I'd say "oh well", but I don't think that covers it.

We at TFM will get on the ball tomorrow...