The Spy who died (and pointed a finger at Moscow)

From CNN.com:

The number of sites contaminated in the Russian spy radiation alert has doubled to around 12 and is likely to rise again, British Home Secretary John Reid said.

He also disclosed that a fourth jetliner — three British Airways planes had been named the previous day — had also been caught up in the scare.

That Russian aircraft was later given a clean bill of health for traces of alpha radiation — the type emitted by polonium 210, the deadly radioactive element with which former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned.

Meanwhile Russian doctors said they had identified no natural cause for an ailment afflicting Yegor Gaidar, architect of Russia’s market reforms, Gaidar’s spokesman said on Thursday.

Gaidar, 50, became violently ill and was rushed to a hospital in Ireland, but was improving in a Moscow hospital Thursday.

Also on Thursday a coroner formally opened an inquest into the poisoning of Litvinenko, who died on November 23 after falling ill more than three weeks earlier. It was quickly adjourned so police could continue their investigation, but three pathologists were expected to participate in an autopsy Friday at Royal London Hospital.  more

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This is a weird story.  I’m not sure what to make of it. 

RU-486 may suppress breast cancer cell growth

From LA Times: 

A sustained dose of RU-486, the so-called abortion pill, prevented breast cancer tumors in mice with a genetic mutation that made them highly susceptible to the disease, researchers at UC Irvine report today.

The mutation in a gene known as BRCA1 leads to uncontrolled cell growth in the mammary glands. About one in 800 women inherits a version of BRCA1 that is damaged in some way, and the National Cancer Institute estimates that up to 80% of such women will develop breast cancer.

Cancer researcher Eva Lee and colleagues figured that RU-486 could be used to block the hormone progesterone, whose unchecked production is believed to be a primary cause of hereditary breast cancer.

RU-486 binds to receptors that normally link with progesterone. It is used as an abortion pill because progesterone is needed in the uterus to maintain a pregnancy.  more

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It is amazing what you can find out when you actually study a drug!!!  Interesting study.  Unfortunately, it does need more study.

Far right upset over Obama invite

From Time.com:

This week two very smart Christian believers — one by extending an invitation, the other by accepting it — have helped the fight against AIDS and burnished their respective reputations. But in the process, they also created a defining dilemma for the Religious Right.

Some time ago, Rick Warren, megapastor of the Saddleback Church in Orange County and author of the mega-seller The Purpose-Driven Life, along with his wife Kay, invited Democratic Sen. Barack Obama to speak today at the second annual AIDS conference at Warren’s church. Other politicians were to participate, notably Sen. Sam Brownback, a born-again Christian turned conservative Catholic who, like Obama, may have presidential ambitions. But while Brownback was to speak to his natural constituency, Obama’s participation is a divisive issue for one overriding reason: he is pro-choice.

That Warren should lend him a lectern has infuriated the pro-life activists and general hard-liners on the religious right. Conservative talk radio host Kevin McCullough wrote on his blog, “Why would Warren marry the moral equivalency of his pulpit — a sacred piece of honor in evangelical traditions — to the inhumane, sick and sinister evil that Obama has worked for as a legislator?” An open letter signed by Phyllis Schlafly, head of the conservative Eagle Forum, and 17 other less prominent figures, most from anti-abortion groups, contended “If Senator Obama cannot defend the most helpless citizens in our country, he has nothing to say to the AIDS crisis. You cannot fight one evil while justifying another.” The din became sufficiently loud that Saddleback posted a response stressing Warren’s disagreement with Obama on abortion but noting that “Obama was invited to share his views on AIDS, not abortion or any other issue.” more

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Obama is smarter than your average bear.  There are very few Dem’s that have the ability to talk religion with the Right and seem credible.  Obama seems more than credible.