Alexander's Column

Genomes and G.I.s

Mark Alexander · Feb. 16, 2001

Geneticists from the government-funded International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium and investor-owned Celera Genomics Corp. released the first detailed analysis of the human genome – the so-called “blueprint of life.” The project catalogued the roughly 30,000 genes responsible for human characteristics. Among their findings: humans have only 10,000 more genes than earthworms, which helps to explain why some of us act the way we do.

The sequencing catalogue will aid researchers in their efforts to create new gene therapies for devastating diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and, potentially, cures for cancer.

In other news….

After launching his tax reduction plan last week, Mr. Bush spent much of this week touring military facilities, where he clarified his position on holding DoD’s budget line. His fiscal 2002 Pentagon budget will be $14 billion higher than Clinton’s budget, and he is calling for a $5.7 billion “quality of life” appropriation – $3.9 billion to improve military health benefits, $1.4 billion for pay increases and $400 million to upgrade housing. However, he will – wisely in our view – hold the line on expensive weapons system appropriations until an audit of the rationale for those systems has been conducted. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld noted, “The president decided to engage our brains rather than open the taxpayers’ wallets immediately, and what he wants to do is to conduct a quick, prompt review.”

At each stop, the military personnel present – E-1 to O-9 – exuded enormous enthusiasm for their new Commander-in-Chief. They are finally rid of the scourge who masqueraded as their CiC for the last eight years!

In a nation which spends more than $50,000 per convict annually to provide prisoners cable TV, well-stocked libraries, computer centers, three hot regulars, comfortable sleeping accommodations, plenty of free time, excellent exercise facilities and medical care – all the comforts of home – let’s just say that if convicts had to live in the same conditions many military personnel have endured for the last decade, the ACLU would be screaming.

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