Friday, January 13, 2006

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:


Scientific fraud

SYDNEY, Australia — Stem cell scientists have been shattered by … confirmation that their poster boy, South Korean Hwang Woo-suk, is a fraud. Not Hwang alone, either. Many of his 24 co-authors on a landmark paper claiming to have cloned human embryos and created stem cell lines must have been accomplices. Storm clouds are gathering over Gerald Schatten, of the University of Pittsburgh, Hwang’s co-author. The Korean president’s chief science adviser, also a co-author, has resigned. Hwang may face criminal charges.

It is one of the worst cases of scientific fraud in living memory. Koreans wept. Scientists groaned. Patients felt betrayed. …

But in Australia, dreams blighted, money wasted, reputations shattered and research tainted are just a spot of bother. It’s business as usual. “It’s sad, but the field will move on,” says the chief executive of the Australian Stem Cell Center, Hugh Niall. “If anything, it’s going to stimulate more research.” …

Hang on, guys. When the Columbia space shuttle disintegrated in 2003, NASA didn’t sweep up the mess and book the next flight. It launched a two-year investigation before it tried again. And that’s more or less what Australia should do with plans to legalize therapeutic cloning: shelve them. …


Don’t attack Iran

LONDON — The West’s next step on Tehran’s nuclear plans should be to understand the regime and society, not to start bombing. … As the Islamic revolutionary regime breaks the international seals on its nuclear facilities, and prepares to hone its skills in the uranium enrichment that could, in a matter of years, enable it to produce nuclear weapons, we in Europe and the United States have to respond. But how? If we mishandle this, it could lead not only to the edge of another military confrontation but also to another crisis of the West.

The European policy of negotiated containment, mistrustfully backed by America and ambiguously accompanied by Russia, has failed. It was worth trying, but it was not enough. …

Neither half of the old trans-Atlantic West could induce oil-hungry China and energy-rich Russia to play the diplomatic game sufficiently our way.

The seemingly half-crazed new Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, would probably regard a cost-benefit analysis as an invention of the Great Satan and a prime example of Western secular decadence. Allah, he would say, is not an accountant.

Yet if cooler heads in the regime behind him are making a cost-benefit analysis, they could still conclude that this is a risk worth taking. The mullahs are floating high on an ocean of oil revenue: an estimated $36 billion last year. This money can be used to buy off material discontent at home.

They know that the U.S. is deeply mired in neighboring Iraq, where the Iranians wield growing influence in the Shi’ite south. …

Everyone seems to agree that the next major step is for the matter to be referred to the U.N. Security Council. Even the Bush administration, so contemptuous of the U.N. during the Iraq crisis, now regards that as Plan B. What then? The Security Council raps Tehran over the knuckles. President Ahmadinejad says go to hell. The Security Council comes back with sanctions, which would be limited by the geopolitical and energy interests of China and Russia, and the economic interests of Germany, Italy and France. …

What then? What’s our Plan C? For the hawks in Washington and Tel Aviv, Plan C would be to bomb selected Iranian nuclear facilities, in order to slow down Iran’s progress toward the bomb. … At the moment, the extremist Ahmadinejad is playing into the hands of the neoconservative extremists in the West; but at that point, the extremists in the West would have played into the hands of Ahmadinejad.

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