August 27, 2006 in Nation/World

New stem cell method opposed

The Spokesman-Review

A Vatican official on Saturday criticized a new method of making stem cells that does not require the destruction of embryos, calling it a “manipulation” that did not address the church’s ethical concerns.

Monsignor Elio Sgreccia, the Vatican’s top official on bioethical questions, said in an interview with Vatican Radio that the method of making stem cells devised by scientists at Advanced Cell Technology Inc. in Alameda, Calif., remains an in-vitro form of reproduction, which the church opposes.

“That, from a point of view that is not only Catholic, but from a point of view of bioethic reasons, is a negative factor,” said Sgreccia, who heads the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life.

Church teaching holds that in-vitro fertilization is morally wrong because it replaces the conjugal union between husband and wife and often results in the destruction of embryos. Artificial insemination for married couples is allowable if it “facilitates” the sex act but does not replace it. The church condemns all forms of experimentation on human embryos.

Seoul, North Korea

Nuclear tests not ruled out

North Korea will not rule out a nuclear test as long as Washington is hostile toward Pyongyang, a newspaper linked to the communist nation said Saturday.

There are growing concerns, bolstered by reports of suspicious activity, that Pyongyang may be planning to follow up its recent missile launches with a nuclear test. Pyongyang claims to have nuclear weapons but hasn’t performed any known test.

“We can’t say for sure that North Korea will not conduct a nuclear test as part of strengthening its self-defense,” said Choson Sinbo, a newspaper published in Japan by a pro-North Korean association linked to the Pyongyang regime.

“The full responsibility for this lies with the U.S., which regards any forces that don’t agree with or submit to its logic or actions as evil,” the paper said, accusing Washington of trying to topple the North’s communist regime.

Kabul, Afghanistan

Airstrike kills Taliban militants

A coalition airstrike in southern Afghanistan killed a Taliban commander and 15 other militants, the U.S. military said Saturday.

Two French soldiers were killed and two others were wounded in the volatile east on Friday, while at least 13 other insurgents were killed in clashes with police and NATO in the south, the U.S. military said.

On Saturday, Canadian troops in the south mistakenly killed a policeman and wounded six other people, including two civilians, according to NATO.

Afghanistan is experiencing its worst bout of violence since the late-2001 ouster of the Taliban regime for hosting al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. More than 1,600 people, mostly militants, have died in the past four months, according to an Associated Press tally of violent incidents reported by U.S., NATO and Afghan officials.

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