A BIZARRE experiment has shattered much of the nonsense surrounding the recent media debate of cloning. Scientists in Texas last year produced the world's first cloned cat. The kitten was dubbed Cc, for carbon copy, after it was produced from genes taken from a cat called Rainbow.
But though the two cats are genetically identical, Cc does not even look the same as Rainbow. Rainbow is a typical tortoiseshell with splotches of brown, tan and gold on white. Cc has a striped grey coat over white.
Rainbow also has a pronounced tendency to put on weight, while Cc is sleek. The scientists also report that the cats' characters are entirely different. Rainbow is reserved while Cc is playful and curious.
Wayne Pacelle, of the US Human Society, says the two cats show that 'not only does cloning not produce a physical duplicate, but it can never reproduce the behaviour or personality of a cat'.
Now, we know people aren't cats, but next time you hear someone go on about how our genes determine everything about us, remember Rainbow and Cc.
Right royal tomb
ITALIAN PRIME minister Silvio Berlusconi seems to think he is one of ancient Egypt's pharaohs. He wants to be buried in a pyramid-scale tomb he has built for himself and his family. Like the pharaohs', Berlusconi's tomb will have enormous decorated reliefs depicting his life and the objects he may need in the afterlife. These include fruit, bread and...a mobile telephone.
Italian law prohibits the burying of the dead 'close to human habitation'. But the right wing government has just pushed an amendment to the law through parliament which will allow Berlusconi to be entombed near a city, along with 36 members of his family and aides.
Thanks to Mary Griffiths for this story.
THE Daily Mail ran a story last week attacking the BBC for sending executives on 'a £250,000 management course' in the US recently. The Mail forgot to mention one small point. Executives from Mail owners Associated Newspapers attended exactly the same course.
Prison tragedy not rare
LEANNE GIDNEY was found hanging in her prison cell last week. The 18 year old was in jail after being convicted for stealing £1. She had a drug problem and previous convictions. But instead of Leanne being given the help she needed, she ended up in jail because there were no places available on underfunded drug treatment programmes.
This tragedy is just the latest in an epidemic of prison suicides in Britain. Seven prisoners killed themselves just over the Christmas period. Last year in all 94 inmates killed themselves. That was a 29 percent rise on the previous year and is an all-time high.
Britain's jails house a record 72,500 inmates. Many are on remand, and so not convicted of any crime. And many, like Leanne Gidney, are in for petty offences. The Howard League for Penal Reform says the rise in suicides 'is primarily caused by prison overcrowding'. A 16 year old and a 17 year old were among those who killed themselves in prison last year. And almost half of the deaths were of people under the age of 30.
Prize for pollution
ENERGY COMPANY bosses did well in the New Year's Honours list. Phil Watts, chairman of Shell, was knighted for his work on the 'World Business Council on Sustainable Development'.
This green-sounding body was the business lobby which blocked further regulation of multinationals at last year's Johannesburg Earth Summit.
Chemical cocktail DID have serious medical effects
A NEW study has backed claims by troops who served in the last Gulf War that chemicals they were given have caused severe health problems. For the last decade successive governments here and in the US have denied there is any evidence for 'Gulf War syndrome'. This is despite mounting evidence that thousands of former troops have suffered major health problems.
Symptoms range from loss of muscle strength and movement, loss of balance and coordination, to severe sexual problems and mood swings. The new study was carried out by researchers funded by the US Defence Department at Duke University in North Carolina.
They subjected rats to a cocktail of chemicals given to Gulf War troops in 1991 supposedly to protect them from insect-borne diseases and nerve agents. Iraq used no such nerve agents.
The rats, report the US researchers, suffered from exactly the range of symptoms that Gulf veterans have complained of. The researchers also found that the symptoms were even more severe when the rats were subjected to stress.
Yet the British government still refuses to take seriously the 9,000 former soldiers here who have reported illnesses after being subject to the chemicals.
FEARS ARE growing about the anthrax vaccination which soldiers are encouraged to have. A recent industrial tribunal ruling accepted a link between the anthrax vaccine given to a Scottish soldier in 1991 and his subsequent osteoporosis and depression.
Thick at the top
THE MAN standing on the deserted platform at Northallerton station recently couldn't understand why there were no trains to York. Ray Price used his mobile to phone the Arriva rail company's Service Delivery Centre in York to ask what was happening.
No doubt the hard pressed Arriva workers could barely contain their mirth. Mr Price, you see, is the managing director of Arriva. His company had plastered posters and media stories around the area telling everyone that track repair work would mean no trains that day and advertising replacement buses.
Things they say
'IN economic terms a short war in Iraq is better than no war or no regime change.'
INSTITUTE OF DIRECTORS report War and the World Economy
'A SHORT war could be good for Individual Saving Accounts business.'
MARK DAMPIER, Money Marketing magazine
'IF YOU don't violate someone's human rights some of the time you probably aren't doing your job.'
US OFFICIAL in charge of the capture and transfer of prisoners seized in Afghanistan
'I WANT to see everything there is. I want to hold the share certificates and the statues. I want to see the safe deposit boxes opened.'
ATHINA ROUSSEL, who inherited £2.5 billion of the Onassis fortune on Wednesday. She gets another £2.5 billion in three years time
'THE WORLD post 11 September has resulted in a greater desire among people to cocoon themselves in comfort. This means soft fabrics like satin will be back in fashion.'
Interior design magazine idFX.
'THE 270,000 members who remain in the Labour Party are pragmatic and moderate types. They're hard-headed about the difficult decisions we have to take. The others have already gone. Six years into the government we're not talking romance.'
LABOUR PARTY OFFICIAL
'It has been a demoralising year for business, while the 'antis' movement seems to have survived rather well.'
BUSINESSMAN at Davos World Economic Forum