December 27, 2002 – BBC Radio 4 News – BBC World Service World Today – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
December 27, 2002 – shifting focus to what was going on in the rest of the world via the BBC World Service, this day after/day after Christmas 2002. Topping the news was the breathless disclosure that the first human baby was cloned on Christmas Day. Brigitte Boisselier, spokesperson for Clonaid, a Religious UFO organization seeking to be the first scientific group to clone a human, addressed the accomplishment at a press conference and was immediately tossed into doubt by scientists and the press alike. Clonaid was a Canadian-based human cloning organization, registered as a company in the Bahamas Founded in 1997, it has philosophical ties with the UFO religion Raëlism, which sees cloning as the first step in achieving immortality. On December 27, 2002, Clonaid’s chief executive, Brigitte Boisselier, claimed that a baby clone, named Eve, was born. Media coverage of the claim sparked serious criticism and ethical debate that lasted more than a year. Florida attorney Bernard Siegel tried to appoint a special guardian for Eve and threatened to sue Clonaid, because he was afraid that the child might be treated like a lab rat. Siegel, who heard the company’s actual name was not Clonaid, decided that the Clonaid project was a sham. Bioethicist Clara Alto condemned Clonaid for premature human experimentation and noted the high incidence of malformations and thousands of fetal deaths in animal cloning.
In other news – General elections were held in the African nation of Kenya on 27 December 2002. The elections saw the end of the long-standing dominance of the Kenya African National Union, which had governed the country since independence in 1963, including 23 years as the only legal party. Mwai Kibaki of the National Rainbow Coalition was elected president, while the National Rainbow Coalition won a majority in the National Assembly.
They were the first truly free general elections held in Kenya since independence in 1964; a number of by-election were held in 1966 before the onset of de facto one-party rule in 1969.
Meanwhile, in the Chechen Capitol of Grozny, three Chechen suicide bombers ran vehicles into the heavily guarded republic’s government headquarters in the regional capital Grozny. Colonel Ilya Shabalkin, spokesman for the joint federal forces in Chechnya, said the bombing was organized by Chechen rebel field commanders Abu al-Walid and Shamil Basayev. Basayev claimed responsibility for the planning and execution of the attack, saying that he personally detonated the bomb by remote control.
Some news reports called the attack an act of terrorism, which with 83 confirmed fatalities, would have been the deadliest terrorist attack in Chechnya. Others described the attackers as militants and rebels and not terrorists.
All that, and so much more for this December 27, 2002 as reported by BBC Radio 4 and The BBC World Service.