News in Brief: Al-Shabab Launch Attack in Somalia, and More

Somalia: Al-Shabab Attacks, Kills at Least 32

Gunmen and a suicide bomber laid siege on the Muna Hotel in Somalia, killing both government officials and civilians, the BBC reports. This attack is one of many the country has experienced as conflict between the militant Islamic group and the Somali government have ratcheted up over the past month. In an interview with CNN, an al-Shabab spokesman declared this the “final war to terminate the invading infidels in Mogadishu and all forces from the Islamic provinces.”

Iraq: US Troop Numbers Lowest in Seven Years

The number of US troops in Iraq has fallen below 50,000 – the lowest number since the US invaded in 2003. The reduction is part of the transition to what is called Operation New Dawn, in which the US takes on an advisory role and cedes combat responsibility to Iraqi forces.

Arizona Border Deaths Reach Record High

Despite an increasingly hostile environment for illegal immigrants, Arizona remains a magnet, and the state is seeing the number of lethal border-crossing attempts spike. According to The Los Angeles Times, 59 people died in July while trying to cross into the US, with more than half of those deaths caused by heat. Seven bodies were found July 15 – the deadliest day for the month – when temperatures reached 108 degrees.

Court Ruling Levels Blow Against Stem Cell Research

Overruling President Obama’s 2009 order to expand stem cell research, a federal district judge banned all research using human embryonic stem cells, saying such research violates a 1996 law that was designed to prevent human embryo destruction. The Wall Street Journal reports that the government defended the 2009 presidential order by drawing a distinction between actively destroying embryos – which is prohibited by the 1996 law – and using embryos that had already been destroyed for research. The judge ruled they are one and the same, and all such research, regardless of how or when an embryo was destroyed, is illegal. According to The New York Times, if this ruling sticks, it would make research carried out under the even more restrictive Bush administration a violation of the law.

HIV-Destroying Protein Identified

Kurzweil reports that Loyola University researchers have found key elements of a protein that obliterates HIV in rhesus monkeys. The protein, called TRIM5a, exists in humans, but the human version does not protect against HIV. Scientists are now looking to determine how to translate this finding into a human application.

Representative Boehner Outlines Vision as Voters Head for Polls

With the primaries as a backdrop, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) rolled out elements for a game plan he says will right what’s wrong with country’s current direction. Among them: eliminating portions of the health care bill and blocking tax hikes. Politico’s coverage of Boehner’s Cleveland speech points out that it served to not only counter the image of the Republicans as a party lacking vision, but to also lay the foundation for the House minority leader to take on a primary role within the party.