Iran isn't a threat, the stem cell debate is over, and the AIDS epidemic is slowing. What's next?

Dubious and far-fetched ideas.
Dec. 4 2007 5:53 PM

Have You Heard the Good News?

Iran isn't a threat, the stem cell debate is over, and the AIDS epidemic is slowing. What's next?

A major U.S. intelligence review has concluded that Iran stopped work on a suspected nuclear weapons program more than four years ago, a stark reversal of previous intelligence assessments that Iran was actively moving toward a bomb.
Washington Post, Dec. 4, 2007

Two teams of scientists reported yesterday that they had turned human skin cells into what appear to be embryonic stem cells without having to make or destroy an embryo—a feat that could quell the ethical debate troubling the field.
New York Times, Nov. 21, 2007

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The United Nations on Monday radically lowered years of estimates of the number of people worldwide infected by the AIDS virus, revealing that the growth of the AIDS pandemic is waning for the first time since HIV was discovered 26 years ago.
Los Angeles Times, Nov. 20, 2007

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CARACAS, Venezuela—President Hugo Chavez has announced plans to abandon Venezuela's socialist reforms, calling his attempt to extend term limits and nationalize the country's oil supply "a phase." "I was young, I made some mistakes," he explained to Fox News in a sit-down interview, wearing his new trademark Air Jordans. George W. Bush has already invited Chavez to spend the weekend at his Crawford ranch, where they will discuss Chavez's offer to send Venezuelan troops to Afghanistan and Iraq.
Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 5, 2007

United Nations researchers released a report today in which they acknowledged "wildly overstating" the extent of the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan. Previous estimates indicated that the conflict between southern rebels and government-backed janjaweed militias had resulted in more than 200,000 civilian deaths. But new figures suggest that the number is, in fact, 20. U.N. Statistics Division Chief Researcher Anders Chimay explained that he forgot to carry a five.
—the Guardian, Dec. 7, 2007

Officials at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center announced that the hospital will close next month, as every American soldier who served in Iraq has been successfully rehabilitated. "All better," said Maj. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker in a prepared statement. The Army said it had planned to convert the hospital into an orphanage, only to discover that every American child has a mother and a father.
Washington Post, Dec. 10, 2007

Alberto Gonzales has sent personal cards to each of the eight U.S. attorneys fired last year, according to sources close to the former attorney general. On the front of each card, each apparently made using construction paper and glitter glue, Gonzales wrote: "Mistakes were made …" The message continued on the inside: "… by me."
Washington Examiner, Dec. 11, 2007

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said last night that after weeks of panic over rising foreclosures, the plunging dollar, and a potential freeze on interest rates, the housing market had "fixed itself." "Don't thank me," he told reporters at a late night news conference. "Thank the invisible hand." Analysts speculate that if current trends continue, housing will become so affordable that families may have to pay not to own a beautiful home.
Bloomberg, Dec. 13, 2007

An American contractor in Iraq has discovered a missing cache of weapons of mass destruction, according to U.N. weapons experts. Marco Powers, a security consultant for Blackwater USA, was walking through Baghdad's Washash neighborhood when he spotted a small pile of nuclear-tipped warheads in an alley, each marked with a sticker reading "Property of Saddam—DO NOT TOUCH!!" "Yep, they're his," said International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohamed ElBaradei. He added, "That's my bad."
Wall Street Journal, Dec. 15, 2007

Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.

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