Keanu Reeves as John Constantine??? X2 producer Lauren Shuler Donner told SCI FI Wire that her next comic-book movie, Constantine, based on Vertigo Comics' John Constantine: Hellblazer, will be darker than her X-Men sequel. "It's PG-13, like X-Men, but the character doesn't have superpowers," Shuler Donner said. "It's really focused on John Constantine, and it's more spiritual. He sends demons back down to hell. It's a darker tone." [...] Production begins in September.

But at least we won't have to suffer through Keanu trying to do an accent. That's the lesser of two abominations, I suppose.

E Online: So what about the controversy? In which the movie version turns the very British John Constantine into an American? "Well, what we're saying is that he's American and this story does take place in L.A., but we do intimate that he works in many different cities," she said. "He's had many different adventures--in India, in London. He's a worldly character, basically."

Finally, we wonder if the Constantine plot was taken from a specific Hellblazer issue? "Do you know 'Dangerous Habits'?" Donner said, referring to one of the comic's greatest story arcs, penned by Preacher creator Garth Ennis when he took over writing the comic in 1991. "There's a lot of 'Dangerous Habits' in it."

Also: Nicolas Cage as Ghost Rider, James Marsden (Cyclops) as Jesse Custer. Fear. Fear!
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Current Music: Chemlab -- Latex ♬

Mecca Cola

Mecca-Cola comes to Africa

"Being a Muslim, I was attracted by the name Mecca-Cola," said Hassane Brahim Fardoun, the businessman behind the drink's distribution in Senegal. "I will do my best to penetrate the Senegalese market with this new product." [...]

At first glance, the 1.5-litre Mecca-Cola bottles look just like Coca-Cola. But closer study shows a green mosque, Arabic writing on one side and the sales pitch in French and Arabic: "No more drinking stupid, drink with commitment". [...] On its website, Mecca-Cola says: "Don't shake me, shake your conscience" and runs pictures of Palestinian children firing slings at Israeli tanks and soldiers. [...] Mecca-Cola is not unique. There is a wide range of similar ideological drinks, like Muslim Up or British-based Qibla-Cola, whose website cries "Liberate your taste". [...]

But Mecca-Cola may not be everybody's cup of tea, especially those who like to spice up their soft drinks. "Please do not mix with alcohol", says a tiny note at the bottom of Mecca-Cola's label -- a polite nod in the direction of the Muslim faith which bans liquor.

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is that a rocket in your Cosmodrome, or are you just glad to see me?

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"everybody happy as the dead come home"

'Virgin birth' method promises ethical stem cells

In parthenogenesis, an unfertilised egg keeps two sets of chromosomes and begins developing as if it had been fertilised. Some insects and reptiles can reproduce this way but even though an electric or chemical stimulus can induce parthenogenesis in mammals, the resulting embryos die after a few days.

And that, according to its proponents, is the beauty of the technique as far as stem cells are concerned: it produces embryos that could never become human beings. So destroying these embryos to obtain stem cells would avoid the ethical concerns that have led to restrictions or bans on embryonic stem cell research in many countries.

[...] A team led by fertility specialist David Wininger at biotech firm Stemron of Maryland has grown parthenogenetic human embryos to the blastocyst stage, at which stem cells can be obtained. Cells taken from one of the embryos survived for a few days.

[...] Since eggs are needed to make parthenogenetic stem cells, one potential problem is that the technique could not be used to make matching stem cells for men or for women after menopause. Therapeutic cloning, by contrast, could provide matching stem cells for any individual.

However, because cells made by parthenogenesis have two identical sets of chromosomes, rather than one set each from the father and the mother, they have less variation in the surface proteins on cells that can trigger immune reactions. Wininger thinks it will possible to establish a bank of parthenogenetic stem cells that could provide cells to suit most individuals. And such banks would be much cheaper than creating stem cells from scratch for each individual.

Man, the scifi satire just writes itself these days, doesn't it? Thanks to the Religious Right, we end up with effective biological immortality for young women only, with the ageing Falwells going to back-alley baby-in-the-woodchipper Y-chromosome organ farms.

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