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Archive for March 21st, 2008

(WP) – DETROIT, March 19 — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) shifted her schedule to make a last-minute visit here Wednesday, demanding that the state’s Democratic Party hold another primary vote or count the results of the earlier disqualified balloting, and she challenged Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to live up to his claim that he cares about making sure people’s votes count.

“This is a crucial test: Does he mean what he says or not?” Clinton said.

Her decision to plant the flag in Michigan came amid ongoing wrangling between the Clinton campaign and state parties there and in Florida, another state with a disputed primary. The Michigan legislature has not yet voted on a bill that would establish a state-run primary in early June, replacing the unsanctioned voting that took place in January. Florida and Michigan Democrats were stripped of their convention delegates after scheduling their primaries earlier than national party rules permitted.

The Democratic National Committee said it would accept a proposal for a new round of balloting in Michigan, but the bill has been bottled up in part because Obama’s campaign has raised objections to it.

Among those objections is that the legislation says that if an individual voted in the Jan. 15 Republican primary, he or she would be disqualified from voting in the do-over primary in June. Robert F. Bauer, an attorney for the Illinois senator’s campaign, raised other potential problems with the latest Michigan proposal for a revote, saying it would be “unprecedented in conception and proposed structure,” as no other state has ever “re-run an election in circumstances like these.” While all sides had hoped they could avoid the controversy, the nomination standoff has made the results in Michigan and Florida potentially scale-tipping.

Clinton, adopting an increasingly indignant tone, described the voting controversy in both states as part of a question of democracy — albeit one that just happens to address her deficit in pledged delegates. “Senator Obama speaks passionately on the campaign trail about empowering the American people. Today I am asking him to match those words with actions,” Clinton said.

“That is why generations of brave men and women marched and protested, risked and gave their lives for this right, and it is because of them that Senator Obama and I stand before you as candidates for the Democratic nomination,” Clinton said.

Obama supporters among the superdelegates who are likely to ultimately decide the nomination, conceded they still fear a late winning streak by Clinton. A big win in Pennsylvania on April 22, followed by victories in Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky and Puerto Rico, could change superdelegate thinking on which candidate is more electable. Clinton victories in Florida and Michigan revotes would make matters worse for Obama.

“It would make no sense for the Obama campaign to give the Clinton campaign that extra ammunition,” said an Obama supporter in the House. “That would make no sense at all.”

Without new votes or a new plan for counting the disqualified ones, Clinton is likely to continue to trail Obama in pledged delegates even if she scores victories in Pennsylvania and several of the states that follow. Both Democrats are campaigning in upcoming states despite the six-week lull until the next contest; Clinton is scheduled to campaign in Indiana on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the four leaders of the effort to get Michigan’s Democratic delegation seated — Sen. Carl M. Levin, Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger and DNC member Debbie Dingell — issued a statement urging the legislature to go ahead and approve the primary to assure the seating of Michigan’s delegation, to avoid a credentials fight at the convention and to enhance the Democrats’ chances of carrying Michigan in November.

The proposed legislation won informal approval from the co-chairs of the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, which ultimately must sign off on a plan submitted by the Michigan Democratic Party for a new primary.

One Democratic source said Michigan Democrats, in submitting their plan for a new primary based on the legislation, could ask to waive the provision barring those who voted in the Republican primary from the new Democratic contest.

The other development is a letter sent to Michigan Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm from Govs. Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania and Jon S. Corzine of New Jersey — all support Clinton — certifying that they have obtained pledges from wealthy fundraisers who are prepared to guarantee the raising of as much as $12 million in private money to cover the cost of the primary.

Of the 10 donors listed in the letter as being willing to guarantee the money, eight are Clinton contributors and five are “Hillraisers”: individuals who have raised at least $100,000 for her campaign. None of the 10 is an Obama donor.

If the legislation fails, it is possible that Democrats in Michigan would propose a vote-by-mail plan or a caucus to assure some kind of do-over contest.

Clinton‘s stop in Detroit pushed back her schedule in West Virginia. A stop in Huntington was moved to late afternoon. When she finally arrived, Clinton offered a different explanation for her tardiness. “We got off to a bit of a slow start this morning due to some weather delays,” she told a group of veterans.

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(Newswise) – Two major eye diseases and leading causes of blindness–age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy–can be reversed or even prevented by drugs that activate a protein found in blood vessel cells, researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine and several other institutions have announced in a new study.

Damage from both diseases was prevented and even reversed when the protein, Robo4, was activated in mice models that simulate age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy, according to Dean Y. Li, M.D., Ph.D., senior author of the study published March 16 in Nature Medicine online.

Robo4 treated and prevented the diseases by inhibiting abnormal blood vessel growth and by stabilizing blood vessels to prevent leakage. Abnormal blood vessel growth and leakage are two primary factors in both age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy. But the study’s ramifications go beyond eye diseases.

Serious infections such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), for example, kill people when an infection destabilizes blood vessels, allowing fluids to leak into the lungs. Tumors hijack blood vessel growth to feed on nutrients and grow. Although this study did not prove Robo4 would treat those diseases, Li believes it merits investigation.

“Many diseases are caused by injury or inflammation destabilizing blood vessels and causing them to leak fluid into adjacent tissues as well,” said Li, professor of internal medicine and an investigator with the University’s Program in Human Molecular Biology and Genetics. “We found a natural pathway – the Robo4 pathway – that counterattacks this by stabilizing blood vessels.”

“This discovery has significant implications for developing drugs that activate Robo4 to treat AMD and diabetic retinopathy,” said Kang Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Utah’s John A. Moran Eye Center and an investigator with the University’s Program in Human Molecular Biology and Genetics. Li and Zhang’s laboratories closely collaborated on the research, using the same animal models of AMD and diabetic retinopathy that are required for drug development. The collaboration means the time required to test the approach in people could be shortened, perhaps by years. Nonetheless, both Zhang and Li caution that getting new drugs to market still would take a number of years.

Randall J. Olson, M.D., director of the University’s John A. Moran Eye Center and professor and chair of ophthalmology and visual sciences, called Li’s finding historic.

“This is a major breakthrough in an area where the advances have been minimal,” Olson said. “We are excited about taking this opening and moving the frontier forward with real hope for patients who have but few, often disappointing, options.”

The discovery is a prime example of basic science research yielding a discovery with direct clinical applications, according to Hemin Chin, Ph.D., director of ocular genetics program at the National Eye Institute. “Given that vascular eye diseases, such as age related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, are the number one cause of vision loss in the United States, the identification of new signaling pathways that prevent abnormal vessel growth and leakage in the eye represents a major scientific advancement,” said Chin.

Blood vessel growth (angiogenesis) is critical in human development and as a response to injury or disease. In earlier research, Li had shown that a family of proteins, netrins, induce blood vessel and nerve growth in mice, a discovery with important ramifications for potential therapies to help people with too few blood vessels. But when the body grows new blood vessels at the wrong time or place, these blood vessels are often unstable and weak, which causes them to leak and potentially lead to diseases such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

In 2003, Li’s laboratory cloned Robo4 and showed it served the opposite function of netrins by inhibiting blood vessel growth and the destabilization that causes leakage. Robo4 is found only in cells in the interior surface of blood vessels and is activated by a protein called Slit. After being activated, Robo4 initiates a chain of biochemical events to stabilize blood vessels and prevent uncontrolled growth.

“Everything in biology has a yin (negative) and a yang (positive), and in the previous paper on netrins we brought attention to a new signaling pathway that induces vessels and nerves to grow,” Li said. “Robo4 is the yin to that process, preventing new vessel growth by stabilizing the integrity of mature blood vessels.”

Age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of legal blindness in people age 65 or older and is expected to become an increasingly common and costly health issue as the number of older people in United States increases. Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of legal blindness in working-age Americans. Currently, there are an estimated 21 million people with diabetes.

Li’s collaborators on the study from the University of Utah include co-first authors graduate student Christopher A. Jones and Nyall London, an M.D./Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Oncological Sciences and the Program in Human Molecular Biology and Genetics. Several other researchers from Li’s lab also contributed to the project. In addition, researchers from the University of California, San Diego, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and Harvard Medical School were part of the study.

The study was funded largely by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Eye Institute, both are part of the National Institutes of Health.

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The founder of the Weather Channel wants to sue Al Gore for fraud, hoping a legal debate will settle the global-warming debate once and for all.

John Coleman, who founded the cable network in 1982, suggests suing for fraud proponents of global warming, including Al Gore, and companies that sell carbon credits.

“Is he committing financial fraud? That is the question,” Coleman said.

“Since we can’t get a debate, I thought perhaps if we had a legal challenge and went into a court of law, where it was our scientists and their scientists, and all the legal proceedings with the discovery and all their documents from both sides and scientific testimony from both sides, we could finally get a good solid debate on the issue,” Coleman said. “I’m confident that the advocates of ‘no significant effect from carbon dioxide’ would win the case.”

Coleman says his side of the global-warming debate is being buried in mainstream media circles.

“As you look at the atmosphere over the last 25 years, there’s been perhaps a degree of warming, perhaps probably a whole lot less than that, and the last year has been so cold that that’s been erased,” he said.

“I think if we continue the cooling trend a couple of more years, the general public will at last begin to realize that they’ve been scammed on this global-warming thing.”

Coleman spoke to FOXNews.com after his appearance last week at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change in New York, where he called global warming a scam and lambasted the cable network he helped create.

“You want to tune to the Weather Channel and have them tell you how to live your life?” Coleman said. “Come on.”

He laments the network’s decision to focus on traffic and lifestyle reports over the weather.

“It’s very clear that they don’t realize that weather is the most significant impact in every human being’s daily life, and good, solid, up-to-the-minute weather information and meaningful forecasts presented in such a way that people find them understandable and enjoyable can have a significant impact,” he said.

“The more you cloud that up with other baloney, the weaker the product,” he said.

Coleman has long been a skeptic of global warming, and carbon dioxide is the linchpin to his argument.

“Does carbon dioxide cause a warming of the atmosphere? The proponents of global warming pin their whole piece on that,” he said.

The compound carbon dioxide makes up only 38 out of every 100,000 particles in the atmosphere, he said.

“That’s about twice as what there were in the atmosphere in the time we started burning fossil fuels, so it’s gone up, but it’s still a tiny compound,” Coleman said. “So how can that tiny trace compound have such a significant effect on temperature?

“My position is it can’t,” he continued. “It doesn’t, and the whole case for global warming is based on a fallacy.”

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