Saturday, February 28, 2015

Qatar’s a U.S. Ally Against ISIS, So Why’s It Cheerleading the Bad Guys? - The Daily Beast

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The future of air travel? Qatar Air takes delivery of the first Airbus A350XWB featuring colour-changing LEDs, integrated entertainment system and swooped back winglets | Daily Mail Online

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Glacial Melting In Antarctica Makes Continent The 'Ground Zero Of Global Climate Change'

I was reading this article on Huffington Post, and I thought you might be interested in reading it, too.

Glacial Melting In Antarctica Makes Continent The 'Ground Zero Of Global Climate Change'


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Glacial Melting In Antarctica Makes Continent The 'Ground Zero Of Global Climate Change'

I was reading this article on Huffington Post, and I thought you might be interested in reading it, too.

Glacial Melting In Antarctica Makes Continent The 'Ground Zero Of Global Climate Change'


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Pentagon Struggles To Downplay Disclosure Of ISIS War Plan

I was reading this article on Huffington Post, and I thought you might be interested in reading it, too.

Pentagon Struggles To Downplay Disclosure Of ISIS War Plan


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Venezuela's Maduro Cracks Down On American Visitors

I was reading this article on Huffington Post, and I thought you might be interested in reading it, too.

Venezuela's Maduro Cracks Down On American Visitors


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Airbnb Gained A Very Powerful Friend In Warren Buffett

I was reading this article on Huffington Post, and I thought you might be interested in reading it, too.

Airbnb Gained A Very Powerful Friend In Warren Buffett


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Govt bearing fuel, maintenance cost of former CJ’s car

Govt bearing fuel, maintenance cost of former CJ's car

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Re: Amazing Human body...


Iqbal  Quidwai   


The human body is the most complex mechanism we've ever encountered in the universe.






















Comment: Moin Khan deserved a better deal - Pakistan - DAWN.COM

Comment: Moin Khan deserved a better deal - Pakistan - DAWN.COM: "World Cup cricket is a special event and it is important for every participating team and its management to be at its best and make sure that every member of their team is fit and in form. Teams must avoid injuries and controversies so that they remain a lot more focused on the task at hand rather than worry on their injuries and things outside it.

Somehow, Pakistan compared to the other teams have had fair share of both injuries and controversies over the years while on tour and as well as at home which really puts us all in a spot of bother.

The recent controversy involving the chairman of the selection committee Moin Khan being called back home to explain himself for being sighted with his wife and friends at a casino in Christchurch by a Pakistani couple prior to his team’s match against the West Indies makes me think whether things at all levels in Pakistan cricket is being handled in a just or in a proper manner.

No doubt, the recent publicity involving Moin is disturbing, distasteful and revolting to say the least."

'via Blog this'

All It Takes To Cross From Turkey To ISIS-Held Syria Is $25

All It Takes To Cross From Turkey To ISIS-Held Syria Is $25: "Rami Zaid, a 23-year-old activist in Aleppo, says he crosses once or twice a month, usually east of the Bab al-Salam border gate because, as he says, there isn’t much security. He doesn’t have a passport either, and unlike Anas, he says, he can’t get through official border without one -- so he pays Turkish and Syrian smugglers $25-50 every trip to help him across.

For Abu Hawrain, a 24-year-old Syrian lamb trader turned smuggler, paying off Turkish border guards at the Bab al-Salam crossing is part of the daily routine. The Idlib native says he smuggles roughly 100 people a month to territory on the other side controlled by Free Syrian Army-affiliated fighters and more hardline jihadist groups.

“They don’t care about the law,” he said of the guards at the border. “They let anyone cross if they have money.”

But the official Turkish forces at the gate aren’t really the ones controlling the border, Abu Hawrain said. A group of four to five rich and widely fear Turkish “gang” leaders run things in Kilis, according to the young smuggler who says he sees them every day.

“The police are afraid of the powerful men,” he continued. “The smugglers pay them directly.”

Hawrain says he makes 75 Turkish lira, or $30, per person he smuggles, but he has to shell out the equivalent of $20 to pay off the Turkish gangsters and border guards. Most of what he makes, he doesn’t get to keep.

When asked what would happen if he kept all of his earnings, Hawrain shook his head: “They’re mafia -- they can do anything.”

Zaher Said contributed reporting from the Turkey-Syria border."

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

“Benedict Adam Sign.” Plann Comm Mtg Oak tree removals Acorn 2/26/15

Was Al Adam hoodwinked?

Last year the Thousand Oaks City Council was on good behavior because it was an election year. Afterwards, everyone expected it to continue at least until June's special election because the council was now deadlocked at 2-2. Or so it seemed.

Earlier this month Councilmembers Andy Fox, Joel Price and, to everyone's surprise, Al Adam approved a huge electronic billboard for the auto mall on the 101 Freeway.

Where's the story?PointsMentioned Map1 Points Mentioned

With minimum public notice they also approved millions of dollars in taxpayer-subsidized street parking modifications around the dealerships.

It's no surprise about Fox and his protégé Price. Fox received thousands in campaign contributions from the auto dealers.

But Al Adam?

He fought against the sign four years ago. The auto dealers didn't give him a dime for his campaigns. So what's up?

I believe Adam was hoodwinked, like many new council members are, and when all the facts came out at the last minute, he was stuck.

You see, Adam was told that more public street parking would boost car sales and also sales tax revenue for the city.

Without being shown credible proof he agreed to support it.

But was Adam also told that by approving the parking plan the notorious sign would be automatically approved, too?

After many years of closely watching the grossly overpaid and devious city manager, Scott Mitnick, I'll give Adam the benefit of the doubt and assume he wasn't told the whole truth until it was exposed just prior to the council meeting.

Rather than enraging the auto dealers by reversing course, Adam took the easier path of disappointing his supporters, hoping for their inattentiveness, forgiveness or forgetfulness.

He should've known better than trusting used car salesmen and Mitnick.

I hope Adam is not jumping ship now and formally aligning with Fox and Price. He's sided with them a lot lately even when his vote didn't matter, leaving Claudia Billde la Peña on her own.

No matter what, when the huge electronic billboard eventually goes up, it should forever be known as the "Benedict Adam Sign."

John Fonti
Newbury Park


The reality Mr. Fonti is that NEITHER side wears the white or black hat; these pols use us like disposable condems and have NO CORE values; they try to use wedge issues to get us riled up to VOTE for 'em!! It is about THEM not the issues. Claudia has NO back bone to FIGHT for any thing impt. EXCEPT where she can see 2 dozen folks lurking in the back ground, she will jump in like the Hillcrest Many Mansion projects; for get the community good and the needs of the seniors!!

She NEVER speaks up to simple issues even EXCEPT when it helps her POLITICALLY or a supporter is at the podium; THIS ISSUE IS NOT DEAD & I HAVE THE DA & GRAND JURY LOOKING INTO IT; THERE IS A NEXUS BETWEEN THE SIGN & the financing HENCE infor should have been provided!! Nick Quidwai


VC District Attorney Investigative Unit, Ventura


Michael Schwartz

(805) 658-4523     

Feb. 12th 2015

RE: Thousand Oaks City Council Brown Act violation Feb 12th 2015 Meeting + gift of tax payer funds

Please investigate that @ the above mentioned meeting agenda item 9C did not mention that there was a NEXIS to the pending ugly, dangerous auto mall sign. The sign has been dead due to lack of funding for 2+ years; by approving this project the Council was also giving the green light to the dead mall sign. 

We brought this to their attention via an email by resident John Fonti the day before; staff SCRAMBLED & at the last moment, 2 hrs before in their "political green packet" added a memo by Director John Prescott; No one knows of this but the special interests and they had told their workers who wrote & are included in the pol. green packet. 

Please also investigate that there were 72 written cards in favor and there were NO WHERE that many people present filing the card which is to be done DURING the meeting; Some one gave them cards which they must have filled OFF SITE!!

This is a GIFT of tax payer funds from the precious and limited GENERAL FUND; The facts are NOT provided as Sales tax is a SMALL part of their $200 million budget; Mall is providing ONLY 25% of that and NO INFO provided as to where the other 75% is coming from. Late Mayor Elois Zeanah was on record that the mom & pop businesses on TO Blvd generate MORE than the auto mall; it is also DISCRIMINATION on hold out Toyota/ Scion dealer.


Nick  I. Quidwai

EXE. Director   CONCERNED CITIZENS THOUSAND OAKS Since 1993"Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive." 
Newbury Park CA 91320-1821 ConcernedCitzTOaks at 

Proposition would give residents more power to remove oaks

City Council expected to have final say in April
By Anna Bitong

Changes to the city's strict tree protection laws, recommended by the Thousand Oaks Planning Commission this Monday, will go to the City Council for final approval by April, Mark Towne, the city's deputy community development director, told the Acorn on Tuesday.

The city's oak and landmark tree ordinance has been under scrutiny since scores of trees were legally cut down at Westlake Plaza shopping center last spring with the approval of a single city official and virtually no prior public outreach.

Find nearby storiesPointsMentioned MapNews Bayou

After a nearly four-hour hearing on Feb. 23, the planning commission chose not to follow the recommendation of city staff and an 11-person citizen-led ad hoc committee formed to look into the matter.

Commissioners instead voted 4-1 to recommend that owners of single-family residential properties be allowed to register up to three trees—of any kind or size, whether owner-planted or indigenous—as exempt from the tree ordinance for 10 years, allowing the trees to be removed without public oversight. Requests for exemptions of four or more trees would need to go through the planning commission.

The current law, which is under moratorium, has allowed exemptions for an unlimited number of owner-planted trees, but not indigenous oaks, on both residential and commercial properties since 2010.

The commission recommended that homeowners associations and commercial properties should not be eligible for the exemption, only individual homeowners.

Commissioner David Newman cast the dissenting vote Monday, favoring exemptions only in rare cases, such as to ensure public safety.

The commission also struck down the legal distinction made between owner-planted and indigenous trees, so that all trees would be under the same rules.

"I think there's a lot of concern about there being no difference in the field between an owner-planted tree and an indigenous tree— they're all trees," Towne told the Acorn the day after the vote, adding that the commission tightened the law "in the sense of restricting it to just residential properties, not including commercial or HOA, and also (imposing) this three-tree limit over a 10-year period. But it was different from what was recommended by doing away with the owner-planted distinction."

The commissioners did unanimously agree with the committee's recommendation, also supported by city staff, that any request for removal or relocation of more than three oak trees or more than five landmark trees be considered by the planning commission, regardless of whether the trees are native or not.

Again, the commission voted to recommend that no distinction be made between the two types of trees in parking areas and to go back to the way the law was written before it was changed, Towne said.

Minority report

The most debated issue Monday was the committee's suggestion, approved 6-4 at its last meeting in January, to grant up to three exemptions on owner-planted trees on residential properties.

Some members had defended the rights of property owners to cut down trees they planted themselves and worried that too-strict laws would deter people from planting oak trees.

"All of the members of the committee felt very strongly that the city should encourage judicious planting of oak trees," committee member Judy Lazar told the commission. "The two oak tree experts that we had on the committee both felt that in order for that to happen, there needs to be respect for an owner's right to utilize their own property and potentially remove an intrusive homeowner-planted tree."

But the four committee members who cast the dissenting votes believe the rule is too lax.

They provided a "minority report" to the planning commission, asking them to strike the designation and exemption of owner-planted oak and landmark trees, fearing the leeway would allow the destruction of too many large, healthy trees.

"We believe oak trees and landmark trees, regardless of how planted or where planted, should be protected equally, and tree removals should be approved through the permit process based exclusively on the size and the health of the trees," said the report, which was signed by tree committee members Gail Bianchino, Yvonne Brockwell, Anne LaFianza and Janet Wall.

Wall noted that, since 2010, exemptions have been granted to 220 owner-planted trees, but the city does not keep records of how many of those trees were cut, their size or age.

She told the commission that the owner-planted distinction "contributed to the massive destruction of dozens of valuable, healthy trees at Westlake Plaza."

"The exemption is an openended, arbitrary and unscientific designation that currently allows piecemeal and undocumented native tree removals," Wall said.

LaFianza, who wanted exemptions limited to one tree, said some committee members were "quite aggressive in pushing their agendas."

Lazar disagreed. The former council member had made the motion for the three-tree cap.

"I don't think we railroaded or forced anyone to vote in any way."

Commissioners explain vote

Newman said the exemption for homeowners gives them a pass.

"While I think in some ways this is a reasonable compromise, in that it does get rid of the indigenous, owner-planted distinction, which really had no scientific basis, we're still giving an exemption to owners," Newman said. "We're still going way from the law that the city had for 40 years that worked quite well."

Commissioner Doug Nickles responded, "If you don't allow some leeway there, where there is some exemption, just to pony up the fees to show up to the planning commission for a single tree (is expensive). No one will even show up here. And they're going to cut the trees without (permission)."

Commissioner Pete Turpel said their decision struck a good balance between property rights and preserving oaks.

"We do need to have a procedure in place," he said. "The committee already vetted, I'm sure, how many trees they were settling on, which is how they got to the number three," he said. "Once again, this is a recommendation to council, so more input will come in."

Commissioner Dan Roundtree had suggested postponing the commission's vote to get more community feedback due to the split recommendations from the tree committee.

"What I'm experiencing here is both sides have submitted information that say they're not really happy with the vote," he said, "which tells me maybe we're not ready yet to make a decision. Maybe we need to get more information before we move ahead."

Iqbal  Quidwai   

Newbury Park CA 91320-1821 USA  I.quidwai at 

 IqbalQuidwai  @iqbalquidwai


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Khudaa Ki Basti : Revisiting a Classic Urdu Novel

Iqbal  Quidwai   

Newbury Park CA 91320-1821 USA  I.quidwai at 
Cell 805-390-2857 

Subject: Revisiting a Classic Urdu Novel
To: Ras Siddiqui <>


Khuda Ki Basti revisited in Dawn:



"You search for life sitting in closed rooms and reading books, and I have seen life in the brothel. I have seen life in small huts and narrow, dark alleyways... Look at life with the naked eye, and see the extent to which it has become a victim."

Shaukat Siddiqui.
Shaukat Siddiqui.

Shaukat Siddiqui wrote these words with a touch of irony, in my opinion, in his influential novel Khuda ki Basti (God's Colony). After all, in 1957, this book was a vehicle that delivered insight into life's tragedies to thousands of Pakistanis still reeling from the effects of the Partition.

So when one of the protagonists, Salman, a wayward university dropout, delivered this tirade to his former professor, I was struck.

Also read: 2 protest classics from Pakistan

I am relatively new to the world of Urdu novels, having abandoned them after my O' levels in favour of a more popular option – studying literature in English. Yet, when I began Khuda ki Basti, I was struck not only by its beauty, but its realism – it felt too close for comfort.

Khuda ki Basti is Siddiqui's exercise in both irony and prophecy.

The author spent a long time talking to residents of Karachi's shantytowns and observing their lives, so the novel can be taken as much as a study of the times as a work of fiction.

I read it as Pakistan's past, present and future encompassed in 530 pages.

The book's 1974 television adaptation on PTV was telecast five times due to its popularity. Yet, even the television show; remarkable in its dialogue, characters, harsh realism and a marked contrast to our one-note shows today, could not do complete justice to the scope of the novel.

The novel takes the characters from their small, broken-down hamlet and idealistic social workers' societies into the rough and tumble slums, as well as the upper crust clubs and bars of a post-Partition Karachi.

From land encroachment to male prostitution; children as products of rape to flawed inheritance laws; struggling social movements to powerful newly minted capitalists; religious fervour to debauched social climbing; the novel left no stone unturned.

A stone tossed into a pool of water creates a disturbance, a ripple effect that slowly fades away; but the stone settles to the bottom and stays there gathering mud and debris over time. The novel unites the major characters with such a disturbance.


Nosha, an impressionable boy has been employed by Niaz, a trader in stolen goods, to steal from the autoparts workshop where he works. After being paid a hefty sum of 10 rupees for a lucrative steal, he indulges in a night of drinking with his friends Raja and Shami. Returning home late, he collapses in the middle of the road, and is hit by a car.

Another wayward young man, Salman, a university student, finds and returns Nosha to his family, whereupon an instant attraction grows between Salman and Nosha's sister Sultana. Salman also begins selling his personal effects to Niaz, in order to avoid destitution after being cut off from his middle class family.

Qazi Wajid (left) and Behroz Sabzwari in the roles of Raja and Nosha in the 1974 TV adaptation of the novel.
Qazi Wajid (left) and Behroz Sabzwari in the roles of Raja and Nosha in the 1974 TV adaptation of the novel.

Thus, as the novel progresses, these characters and more, endure trials together and apart until the tragic conclusion that unites them all.

The novel sits like a stone at the bottom of the tumultuous river that makes up Pakistan's history – it prophesied sentiments that today have become part and parcel of the country's identity.

One story resonates in particular: Salman, inspired by his former professor, is recruited into a social workers' collective and becomes a teacher and activist in the community.

The collective decides to build a hospital on a recently acquired plot of land. However, due to influence exerted by Khan Bahadur, a powerful businessman, someone erects a makeshift mosque on that land. A local, living in the mosque's vicinity exclaims in surprise the next day:

"Overnight, I don't know who could have built this mosque. Allah must have sent angels, nothing else makes sense to me".

In response, the social workers – "Skylarks", as they refer to themselves – suggest tearing it down as the land was theirs. One of their leaders, Fahimullah, points out, "But this might flare up the religious passions of people".

In Fahimullah's golden words, the major fault line of Pakistan's embattled future is thus revealed.

While the locals were at first supportive of the Skylarks' efforts, Khan Bahadur – through a combination of bribes and exploitation of religious goodwill – eventually succeeded in preventing the hospital construction and winning the municipality elections.

Explore: Cult Pakistan - II: Sound and Vision

This mating of business and religion indicates the relevance of Siddiqui's work to Pakistan, since the day of its inception.

The commercialisation of religion has now assumed such epic proportions in our society that it is hard to imagine a different make-up for it. Our national strategies and international leanings demonstrate how far we have gone in uniting mass consumption, wealth and religious identity.

We strived for and succeeded in becoming "God's Colony".

Come Ramazan, our TV will be inundated by shows 'selling' religion. Again, how ironic that it was a TV show once which forewarned us of exactly this state of affairs.

Progressive activists and thinkers often cite Saudi Arabia's strategic and economic support and growing cultural influence as an example of Pakistan's movement into conservatism.

However, successive Pakistani governments, as part of their attempts to hold on to power, also pandered to religious leadership.

Religious parties, as early as 1953, incited anti-Ahmadi riots in Lahore, in response to the then Prime Minister's rejection of their ultimatum to declare Ahmadis as non-Muslims. In order to appease these parties, Ahmadis were removed from top government positions.

Then in 1974, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, in a bid to save his position, passed a constitutional amendment declaring Ahmadis non-Muslim. Bhutto, interestingly enough, was a huge fan of the show Khuda ki Basti and ordered reruns.

Today, under the cover of law, persecutions of Ahmadis and other religious communities persist, thanks to the united interests of religious and political power players.

Also read: Tracing hate

For Urdu novel aficionados, the controversial topics touched upon by progressive writers like Manto, Ismat Chughtai and Shaukat Siddiqui among others, should come as no surprise. While these writers are products of their times, they also understood well human nature and sentiment as it was and what it could potentially become.

Siddiqui studied the areas he wrote about, examined the people and presented them as he saw them.

It is difficult to find similar work today, largely because literature has become the province of the elite.

Also read: Can the Karachi Literature Festival be more inclusive?

Even when progressive writers in the past belonged to elite circles, they stepped out of their spaces to create work consumed on a large scale and in turn, they consumed local languages as part of their inspirations.

Now, divorced from Siddiqui's times and transplanted into today's Pakistan, Khuda ki Basti is no longer Siddiqui's definitive work but an ongoing project; a draft that evolves with every interpretation, in every time period it is read and re-read.

It survives at the bottom of this river as waters roar around it because it is weighed down by the burden of carrying our story.

Email news tips and feedback to News Desk, submit blogs to Blog Desk and share photos and Videos with Special Projects Desk.


The author is a literature lover and journalist based in Washington DC.

She tweets @Nuri_ibrahim

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.



Britain's House of Lords approves conception of three-person babies

Britain's House of Lords approves conception of three-person babies

Clinics in UK will be able to apply for licenses from this autumn after MPs approved new rules earlier this month

Artificial insemination of a human egg
 The artificial insemination of a human egg: babies conceived through the IVF technique would have biological material from a mother, father and a female donor. Photograph: David Gregs/Alamy

, science correspondent

Tuesday 24 February 2015 15.56 ESTLast modified on Tuesday 24 February 201519.25 EST

Britain has become the first country in the world to permit the use of "three-person IVF" to prevent incurable genetic diseases.

The House of Lords voted by 280 votes to 48 on Tuesday evening to approve changes to the law allowing fertility clinics to carry out mitochondrial donation. Babies conceived through this IVF technique would have biological material from three different people – a mother, father and a female donor.

MPs voted in favour of the new rules earlier this month and clinics can apply for licences to use the technique from the autumn.

Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, which supports research into mitochondrial donation at Newcastle University, said: "Families who know what it is like to care for a child with a devastating disease are the people best placed to decide whether mitochondrial donation is the right option for them. Parliament is to be commended for a considered and compassionate decision to give these families that choice, with proper safeguards under the UK's internationally-admired regulatory system."


Robert Meadowcroft, chief executive of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, said: "This result will be life-changing for many women living with mitochondrial disease, giving them the precious chance to bear unaffected children, removing the condition from a family line and reducing the numbers faced with its devastating effects."

Addressing the House of Lords on Tuesday, Lord Winston, the Labour peer and fertility expert, acknowledged that treating the first patients would be a "step in the dark", but said the same had been true of all major advances in reproductive technology, such as IVF, which are now widely accepted.

"It would be utterly wrong for this house to turn down the democratically elected chamber," he said.

Viscount Ridley said rejecting the amendment would mean knowingly prolonging the plight of those afflicted by defective mitochondria. "If we do not prevent suffering, it is on our consciences," he said. "Britain has been the first with most biological breakthroughs. In every case we look back and see we did more good than bad as a result."

Addressing concerns that the rules would pave the way for "designer babies", Ridley pointed out the rules applied to a narrow range of serious diseases. "There is nothing slippery about this slope," he said.

Mitochondrial diseases are caused by genetic faults in the DNA of tiny structures that provide power for the body's cells. The DNA is held separately to the 20,000 genes that influence a person's identity, such as their looks and personality. Because mothers alone pass mitochondria on to children, the diseases are only passed down the maternal line.

The "three-person" IVF therapy could help to eliminate mitochondrial diseases by swapping the affected mother's DNA with that from an anonymous female donor.


Technically the baby would have three biological parents, with 99.8% of genetic material coming from the mother and father and 0.2% coming from the mitochondrial donor.

The Roman Catholic peer, Lord Deben, on Tuesday evening put forward a delaying motion, arguing that it was not clear whether the amendment would be lawful.

His intervention followed a letter from 50 MEPs calling on the European Commission to look into Britain's "lack of compliance" with EU law. Slovakian MEP, Miroslav Mikolásik, and 49 others said the amendment to existing legislation would "violate the fundamental standards of human dignity and integrity of the person".

Separately, a group of Italian MPs had urged the House of Lords to vote down the proposals, saying that mitochondrial donation "could have uncontrollable and unforeseeable consequences" and would inevitably "affect the human species as a whole".

Lord Deben told the Lords he was not ethically opposed to the technique, but was concerned that the amendment could be contrary to European law. "I do not understand why the government has not taken the steps that would allow us all to accept that this was legal," he said. "You don't launch out into the deep until you are sure you have taken all the issues into account."

Other peers argued that since the amendment is part of existing law – the 2008 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act – there was little doubt that it is lawful.

Lord Winston said that doctors were wrongly accused of meddling with nature, but that patients' interests were paramount. "Sometimes we are accused of playing God … We do not try to supplant God. We try to augment his works," he said.

Around 100 children each year are affected by genetic defects in the mitochondria and in around 10 cases the defects cause severe illnesses such as liver failure, muscle wasting, blindness and brain damage.

Since mitochondrial DNA is passed down the maternal line, affected women are guaranteed to pass on the genetic defects to their children, leaving many with an agonising choice about whether to have their own biological children. In future, scientists hope they could be spared this choice.

Iqbal  Quidwai   

Newbury Park CA 91320-1821 USA  I.quidwai at